Almost a Vigilante: Charles Bronson in GANG WAR (20th Century Fox 1958)


Here’s a chance to see Charles Bronson in an early starring role, playing a man who’s wife is killed by thugs. But this ain’t DEATH WISH, it’s GANG WAR, and though the title may promise plenty of action, it doesn’t deliver. It’s a low-budget potboiler about schoolteacher Alan Avery (Bronson) witnessing a gangland rubout, and the mobsters who’re out to get him. Presumably by talking him to death!!

The film starts out like gangbusters, with lots of violent action scenes before the credits roll. Unfortunately it’s stock footage, and that’s about as good as it gets for action. After that, it’s Avery seeing Maxie Meadows’ two thugs murder a stoolie, calling the cops anonymously. But Avery leaves his pregnant wife’s medicine in the phone booth, and they trace him to his home. He identifies the goons, so Maxie sends his booze-soaked lawyer Barker to pay him off. Avery’s too principled to accept, so Maxie sends dimwitted flunky Chester to rough Mrs. Avery up. Chester goes a bit too far and winds up killing her. Korean War vet Avery grabs his gun and commando-crawls through Maxie’s back lawn, where he takes aim before being stopped by the cops (the cabbie who brought him tipped them off).


The GANG WAR of the title refers to “The Syndicate” trying to muscle in on Maxie’s turf. I expected lots of blazing machine guns and things blowing up, but was disappointed to discover it’s a pretty bloodless coup. The filmmakers couldn’t afford to stage any action scenes, hence the early stock footage come-on. In fact, the budget was so tight that when Mrs. Avery holds up the morning newspaper, we can see there’s nothing written on the back page!

If only they’d given us more Charlie Bronson going after the hoods that killed his wife, we’d have something. Alas, DEATH WISH was sixteen years away. It’s still cool to watch Charlie in an early sympathetic part, instead of the usual villainous henchmen he played during this point in his career. There’s lots of familiar faces here, including TV’s BOSTON BLACKIE Kent Taylor as the sleazy lawyer. Taylor enjoyed movie stardom during the 30s and 40s before essaying the role of Blackie, but wound up his acting days in Grade-Z Al Adamson schlockers. Gravel voiced tough guy John Doucette goes over-the-top as Maxie, but that’s the way the part’s written. Mrs. Avery is Gloria Henry, forever known as the mom on TV’s DENNIS THE MENACE. Barney Phillips is one of those “I know the face but can’t name him” actors who’s probably best remembered for playing the diner owner in THE TWILIGHT ZONE episode “Will The Real Martian Please Stand Up?” Jennifer Holden (JAILHOUSE ROCK), Ralph Manza, Jack Reynolds, and Larry Gelbmann (SHE DEMONS) round out the cast.


Yes, the dialogue is hokey as hell, the budget’s rock bottom, the action’s almost non-existent, and director Gene Fowler Jr’s done better (I WAS A TEENAGE WEREWOLF, I MARRIED A MONSTER FROM OUTER SPACE). But fans of Charles Bronson will definitely want to take a look at their hero before he shot to superstardom in THE MECHANIC, MR. MAJESTYK, and the DEATH WISH series. He’s the only reason to catch GANG WAR. Everyone else, you’ve been warned!

Editorial: The New Word Press Fast-Edit


The new “fast-edit” way of composing drafts here on WordPress has arrived. Is it just me, or does anyone else hate this thing? The first time I used it, it scheduled itself below my last post, and I almost thought I lost the damn thing!!  The word count is gone, so I have no idea how many words I’ve written, and spell check has vanished as well. The format for adding media is different, too. I’m sure I’ll get used to it eventually, but the big question is why WordPress would change something that was working just fine? Are they bored? Do they just like to fuck with people? I posted in the forum that we should be given the option of using the old method, but I doubt they’ll listen, unless others feel the same way. How about you? Are you okay with this new “fast-edit”, or do you prefer the older model? I’d love to hear some feedback on this. What do you think, WordPressers??

Dark Carnival: NIGHTMARE ALLEY (20th Century Fox, 1947)


Swashbuckling matinee idol Tyrone Power was cast against type as a self-centered con artist who gets his comeuppance in  1947’s offbeat noir NIGHTMARE ALLEY. Power and director Edmund Goulding teamed the previous year for the hit THE RAZOR’S EDGE, and the star desperately wanted his next movie to be based on the dark novel by William Lindsay Gresham. Studio chief Darryl F. Zanuck didn’t like the idea, but since Power was 20th Century-Fox’s biggest star, he agreed to greenlight the film. Turned out Zanuck’s instincts were right: audiences rejected the handsome Power in the role of a heel, and although he received good reviews for his performance, NIGHTMARE ALLEY bombed at the box office. Today it’s regarded as one of the genre’s best, its unique backdrop and theme setting it apart from other noirs of the era.


Stan Carlisle (Power), the type of guy who could talk a cat off a fish wagon (as my grandmother used to say) loves everything about the carny life. He’s particularly fascinated by ‘The Geek’, who bites the heads off chickens and drinks their blood. Stan  works as the barker for Mlle. Zeena’s mindreading act. Zeena and husband  Pete used to work the big time until she did him wrong and Pete hit the bottle hard. Stan’s got a thing going on with Zeena, and also has the hots for Molly, who does an electric-woman act. Strongman Bruno sees through the slick-talking Stan, and is protective of the young girl.


Zeena and Pete had a secret code they used to use in their act, but Pete’s too drunk now to be able to pull it off. She’s been weaning Pete off the booze slowly so she can send him for ‘the cure’. Stan sees Pete with a bad case of the shakes, and gives him a bottle of moonshine. But he’s mixed up the bottles, and gives the old lush wood alcohol, causing Pete’s death. Stan uses the opportunity to get Zeena to teach him the code, assisted by Molly. Stan finally seduces Molly, and when the carny folks find out, they force the two to get married. But now that he has both Molly and the code, he leaves the carny for the bright lights of Chicago and bigger and better things.


The couple begin appearing at a swanky nightclub as mentalist ‘The Great Stanton’, using the code to wow audiences and  become toasts of the town. Psychologist Lilith Ritter catches the act and tries to trip him up, but Stan sees through her ruse  and turns the tables. Lilith is as big a phony as Stan, recording her patient’s sessions without their knowledge. Stan and Lilith use that knowledge to their advantage when Stan reinvents himself as a spiritual medium, bilking rich folks who long to hear from their dear departed dead ones. They set their sights on wealthy Ezra Grindle, coercing Molly into playing his dead love. Molly refuses to go along with the charade at first, telling Stan, “You’re going against God…just laughing your head off at these chumps”. Stan talks her into it, but Molly, upon seeing the elderly Grindle on his knees praying at the sight of her, blows Stan’s cover and runs. Stan knocks Grindle down and, back at their hotel, tells Molly to meet him at the train station.


Stan goes to Lilith to get his $150,000 and flee town. But the devious psychologist rips him off (giving him a suitcase with bundles of ones), and the master con discovers he’s been conned himself. Returning to Lilith’s abode through the window, she stalls for time while the maid calls the cops. When Lilith threatens to tell the police he’s an unstable patient with wild delusions, Stan realizes he’s beat, and has to take it on the lam. He tells Molly to go back to the carny, while he hits the booze and lives in fleabitten hotels and hobo jungles. Destitute and desperate, Stan becomes a shell of his former self. Stumbling on a carny, he tries to get work, but the boss says there’s no openings for magicians or fortune tellers. There is one position available however, and alcohol soaked Stan becomes what he dreads…the carnival Geek! (“Mister, I was made for it!”‘)

nightmare geek

This being Hollywood, the ending finds Molly at the same carny, and there’s hope for Stan. The book version is apparently much darker, with Stan resigned to his lowly fate. The Geek looms large throughout the film, as we hear his wailing and see him only in longshot, making The Geek all the more enigmatic. Edmund Goulding and DP Lee Garmes create a dark carnival indeed, and the movie reminded me a lot of Tod Browning’s FREAKS in its depiction of carny life. Goulding doesn’t get much recognition as a filmmaker, though he’s responsible for gems like LOVE (1927), GRAND HOTEL (1932), THE DAWN PATROL (1938), and DARK VICTORY (1939), as well as the aforementioned RAZOR’S EDGE. Screenwriter Jules Furthman began in the silent era, and some of his best contributions to cinema were the scripts for two Marlene Dietrich vehicles (SHANGHAI EXPRESS and BLONDE VENUS, both 1932), MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY (1935), Howard Hughes’s then-controversial THE OUTLAW (1943), and the Bogie & Bacall starrers TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT (1944) and THE BIG SLEEP (1946). His last was the John Wayne/Howard Hawks Western RIO BRAVO (1959).


Tyrone Power shows he’s more than just a pretty face as Stanton Carlisle. Whether he’s telling tales of his early life at an orphanage or pouring on the charm to his latest female conquest, we’re never sure if Stan’s telling the truth or not. Power took a big risk in taking this role, and shows great range as an actor. Coleen Gray never quite made the leap from ingénue to major star, but she’s good in the sympathetic role of Molly. Her credits include KISS OF DEATH, RED RIVER, KANSAS CITY CONFIDENTIAL (which is on my review list), Stanley Kubrick’s THE KILLING, and the underrated horror film THE LEECH WOMAN. Joan Blondell (Zeena) needs no introduction to movie fans, having been a star at Warners since the early 30’s. Blondell was one of the screen’s finest character actresses. Helen Walker (Lilith) had a promising career going when a car accident, in which a serviceman was killed, led to her being accused of drunk driving. Her films after that were few and far between. Ian Keith (Pete) is one of those actors you know but can’t quite name, usually in villainous supporting roles. Mike Mazurki (Bruno) however is well known for his long film career. The ex-wrestler played in everything from noirs (MURDER MY SWEET, NIGHT AND THE CITY) to comedies (SOME LIKE IT HOT, It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World), to episodes of THE MUNSTERS, GILLIGAN’S ISLAND, and THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES, to Rod Stewart’s 1984 video “Infatuation”. NIGHTMARE ALLEY gives us a gritty look at the fringes of showbiz, where grifters and carny cons ply their trade, looking to make a quick buck off the rubes. It’s unlike any other noir, there’s no private eyes or femme fatales here, and it’s well worth your time.

Now, just for the hell of it, here’s Rod Stweart’s 1984 dance hit “Infatuation”, featuring Mike Mazurki, the beautiful Kay Lenz, and Jeff Beck on guitar, from the days when MTV actually played MUSIC!:

That’s Blaxploitation 4: ABAR THE BLACK SUPERMAN (Mirror Releasing 1977)


When TCM Underground announced they were running something called ABAR THE BLACK SUPERMAN last Saturday at 2AM, I just had to record it. For one thing, I’d never heard of it, and for another, it sounded so cheesy I knew I had to take a look. So last night (after watching the mighty New England Patriots vanquish their arch-enemies, the hated New York Giants), I settled into my recliner and pressed play. What I got was unexpected, and though the film is cheaply shot, with high-school level acting and no technical skills behind the cameras, it’s a game attempt at trying something different within the confines of the Blaxploitaion genre.


Dr. Ken Kinkade, a researcher working on a top secret grant project, and his family move into an affluent white neighborhood, and immediately become victims of white bigotry. The neighbors protest outside the Kinkade’s home,  hurling garbage onto the lawn, until members of the BFU (Black Front of Unity) arrive. Led by radical John Abar, the BFU defend the Kinkades, but urge them to return to the ghetto and help their own people. Dr. Kinkade’s grateful for the assistance, but refuses to leave, despite having the family’s pet cat hung at his front door, and a coffin placed on his sidewalk.


When Kinkade’s son is run down in the street by a hostile white, he reveals to Abar the secret of his experiments.  He’s developed a formula to create superhumans, ala Captain America. Abar drinks the potion and is transformed. But not in the way you’d think, and here’s where the film loses steam.  Instead of becoming a superhero battling the racists, he’s given “psychic powers” that turn cops against each other, winos into milk drinkers, a Cadillac into a horse-and-buggy,  and street corner hoods into college grads. Abar can also control the elements, and causes a series of plagues to befall the white folks (hurricane winds, rats, snakes). The whites finally learn to accept their black neighbors, and Abar walks off into the sunset as the credits roll with Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream” speech playing him out.


The producer, writer, and director were attempting a “message” film, and maybe with a proper budget they would’ve succeeded. As it stands, ABAR will go down as a gallant try. Have race relations improved since this late 70’s movie? I’ll leave that to the news channel pundits to debate. This is a film blog, not a political soapbox, so I’ll just say that if you’re looking for something out of the ordinary then catch ABAR next time it’s shown. It’s a thought provoking film mixing social commentary and sci-fi that is worth viewing despite the rock-bottom production values and  misleading title. You may be pleasantly surprised.


Something Funny Going On: IT’S A MAD MAD MAD MAD WORLD (United Artists 1963)


If I was forced to make a list of Top Ten favorite movies, IT’S A MAD MAD MAD MAD WORLD would definitely make the cut. Featuring a veritable Who’s Who of comedy, this film (like The Dirty Dozen) has been often imitated, but never duplicated. TCM ran it in prime time last night, and after watching the horrors unfolding in Paris on the news channels, I figured I could use a good laugh. IT’S A MAD MAD MAD MAD WORLD never fails to disappoint in that department!


The plot is simple: a car goes flying off the road and crashes. Four parties get out of their vehicles to inspect the scene. The dying driver, Smiler Grogan (Jimmy Durante) tells them about $350,000 in cash buried in Santa Rosita Park “under the Big W”, then kicks the bucket (literally). The four parties decide to find the dough and split it, but greed gets the best of them and the race is on! Unbeknownst to them all is they’re being watched by Captain Culpepper (Spencer Tracy), who has reasons of his own to find the hidden loot. From there, we go to a series of comedic incidents as each seperate party gets caught in slapstick situations on their way to claim the money for themselves:

Dentist Melville Crump and wife Monica (Sid Caesar, Edie Adams) take a harrowing ride on a dilapidated bi-plane to get ahead of the game. They get themselves locked in a hardware store basement while trying to get picks and shovels, and wind up having to blast their way out with “a little” dynamite.


Buddies Benji and Dingy (Buddy Hackett, Mickey Rooney), having been beaten to the plane rental by the Crumps, make their way to an airport and rent a ride from a drunken millionaire (Jim Backus) who promptly passes out, causing the pair to learn to pilot the plane on the fly, with help from tower control veteran Colonel Wilberforce (Paul Ford).


J. Russel Finch (Milton Berle), travelling with his wife Emmaline (Dorothy Provine) and shrewish mother-in-law Mrs. Marcus (Ethel Merman), after their car is totalled by trucker Pike (Jonathan Winters), hook up with Englishman Algernon Hawthorne (Terry-Thomas). After the loudmouthed Mrs. Marcus is “assaulted” and stranded by Finch and Hawthorne, she calls in her son, dimwitted surfer and all around mama’s boy Sylvester (Dick Shawn).


Pike is forced to ride down the highway on “a girl’s bike”, until he comes across Otto Meyer (Phil Silvers).  Meyer leaves the hulking Pike stranded after learning about the treasure, and when Pike catches up to him at a gas station, Meyer tells the attendants (Arnold Stang, Marvin Kaplan) Pike’s an escaped lunatic. The proprietors attempt to restrain Pike, who angrily demolishes their gas station!


Meanwhile, Meyer gets stuck in a ravine after giving an Indian a lift. His car destroyed, he flags down a driver (Don Knotts) and tells the man he’s a spy on the run, stealing his car in the process.


Everyone makes it to the park and search for the Big W, including a couple of cab drivers (Peter Falk, Eddie ‘Rochester’ Anderson). Pike chases after the conniving Meyer, and spots the Big W (a cluster of four curved palm trees). The group digs, digs, digs, finally hitting upon Smiler’s stolen money. Culpepper shows up and tells the group he’s confiscating the cash, urging them all to turn themselves in. They agree, but when Culpepper takes a turn off the route to the police station, they realize he’s grabbing the ill-gotten gains for himself, and the chase is on again!


Spencer Tracy mugs it up with the best of the comics as Culpepper. All of these seasoned pros are on their game, but for me Ethel Merman steals the show as the obnoxious Mrs. Marcus. Producer/Director Stanley Kramer pulled out all the stops for this zany epic, and hired the best of Hollywood’s funnymen in small roles and cameos. (I’ll list a few at the end of this post). IT’S A MAD MAD MAD MAD WORLD is just what the doctor ordered to take away a case of the blues, for three hours anyway. As for me, I’m off to a stage performance of DRACULA tonight, but will return tomorrow to look at a darker cinematic gem: 1947’s NIGHTMARE ALLEY.



Special Veteran’s Day Edition: THE DIRTY DOZEN (MGM 1967)


Happy Veteran’s Day and thank you to all who’ve served!

One of my favorite WW2 movies to watch is THE DIRTY DOZEN. This rousing all-star epic, flavored with superb character actors and moments of humor, was a box office success and remains a perennial favorite among action lovers. The formula (a band of military misfits unite to battle the enemy) became so popular it’s been rehashed several times in several ways, but none have ever come close to having the panache of director Robert Aldrich’s lively original.


Army Major Reisman is given the assignment of whipping twelve convicts into fighting shape and taking on what amounts to a suicide mission: conduct a raid behind enemy lines on a chateau where high ranking Nazi officers assemble for R’n’R. Reisman’s a rebellious sort (“very short on discipline”) with contempt for his higher-ups, especially rival Col. Breed. One of the officers calls him “the most ill-mannered, ill-disciplined officer I’ve ever had the displeasure to meet”, but General Worden believes Reisman’s the man for the job. The Major’s introduced to his new charges at prison. There’s cocky Chicago hood Franko, gentle giant Posey, ex-officer Wladislaw, religious nut Maggot, dimwitted Pinkley, and eight other murderers, rapists, and thieves. Reisman and his right-hand man Sgt. Bowren are to take this “dirty dozen” and turn them into a team.


The deal is the men will get their sentences commuted if successful, but if one of them tries to escape, they all go back to face the hangman. Franko tries some initial pushback, but is brought into line by his peers. The cons learn to depend on each other, though Army psychiatrist Kinder considers them “the most twisted bunch of psychopaths” he’s ever seen. Breed almost gets the mission quashed after being embarrassed by the troop, but they’re given a chance when the dozen capture Breed’s squad during maneuvers. Feeling they’re ready to roll, Reisman leads his men on the mission in an exciting, grisly 45 minute climax. Only three make it back, and Wladislaw is given the last word: “Killin’ generals could get to be a habit with me”.


WW2 vet Lee Marvin leads the testosterone fueled cast as Reisman, a good soldier who dislikes authority. John Cassavetes was Oscar nominated for his role as Franko, the defiant mobster who becomes a hero. Charles Bronson (Wladislaw) was an old hand at these all-star action films (THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN), and 70s solo superstardom was just down the road for him. Donald Sutherland  (Pinkley) adds another goofy characterization to his resume, and 70s stardom awaited him, too. Telly Savalas, pre-KOJAK, is slimeball Maggot, while TV’S CHEYENNE Clint Walker plays big Posey. Ex-NFL star Jim Brown makes his film debut, and his “broken play” run while setting off the hand grenades is one of the action genre’s most iconic scenes. Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan, George Kennedy, and Robert Webber are on hand as members of the “big Army brass” (to borrow a line from WW2 vet Ed Wood). Richard Jaeckel is the loyal Sgt. Bowren, and singer Trini Lopez appears as Jiminez (and even gets to sing “The Bramble Bush”). Besides Marvin, actors Borgnine, Ryan, Webber, Kennedy, Savalas, and Walker all served their country during World War Two.

Finally, in answer to that age-old barstool trivia question, “Name the members of THE DIRTY DOZEN”, here’s the lineup:

  • Franko: John Cassavetes
  • Vladek: Tom Busby
  • Jefferson: Jim Brown
  • Pinkley: Donald Sutherland
  • Gilpin: Ben Carruthers
  • Posey: Clint Walker
  • Wladislaw: Charles Bronson
  • Sawyer: Colin Maitland
  • Lever: Stuart Cooper
  • Bravos: Al Mancini
  • Jiminez: Trini Lopez
  • Maggot: Telly Savalas

Why I Think ERASERHEAD Sucks!


Call me low-brow. Call me plebian. Call me a low-brow plebian. Hell, call me Ishmael if you want, I don’t care! I just don’t like ERASERHEAD. I’ve watched the film at least a half dozen times, thinking maybe I’m missing something. Nope. ERASERHEAD to me is a tedious piece of work with nothing to offer. Don’t misunderstand, I like most all of David Lynch’s work. I know this is his first feature, but the man is capable of giving us so much better. There’s TWIN PEAKS, BLUE VELVET, THE ELEPHANT MAN, MULHOLLAND DRIVE, DUNE….okay, maybe not DUNE. It’s not Lynch’s surrealistic style that bugs me so much as there’s nothing going on here.

As for the plot…there isn’t one. Alright, I hear you out there saying it’s an “art film”, it’s the director’s commentary on the alienation of the outsider in society, blah blah blah. But the theme of the societal outcast doesn’t mean you can’t have a story to go with it. (see: LONELY ARE THE BRAVE, TAXI DRIVER, et al). What little story there is just serves to loosely hang a series of bizarre visuals designed to take viewers on a head trip. There’s a reason this film grew it’s cult following from “Midnight Movie” showings. The audiences that showed up were mostly stoners.


There are no likeable characters here. Go ahead, name one. Jack Nance as Henry Spencer? Mary and her family? Not anyone I’d want to get to know.  Even TAXI DRIVER’s Travis Bickle, despite the fact he’s a psychopath, has some redeeming qualities that the viewer can relate to. The characters in ERASERHEAD, whether by design or not, are totally repellant. Not to mention they commit the cardinal sin of characterization: they’re boring!

As a film fan, I’d much rather find movies I can recommend to my readers, movies I think are enjoyable and worth your time. Sadly, ERASERHEAD isn’t one of them. I tried to like it, I really did, but in the end, there are hundreds of films out there more deserving of your attention than ERASERHEAD. If you’re a fan of this film, more power to you. But a good critic has to say what he means, and I’m saying ERASERHEAD is an overrated lump of cow dung I won’t be watching again.

Cleaning Out the DVR Pt 4: B-Movie Roundup!

It’s time once again to make room on the ol’ DVR! Here’s five films that have their moments, but don’t quite make the “full review” cut.



(Warner Bros 1939, D: Lewis Seiler)

Mediocre entry in Warner’s gangster cycle. Humphrey Bogart had the tough guy hoodlum thing down to a science by this time; here, he plays it mainly for laughs as vain gang boss Joe Gerney. Bogie was definitely on his way up, but co-star Kay Francis (she of the Baba Wawa speech impediment) was on her way down, playing a doctor whose hubby was involved with the gang, now out to prove her own innocence. Plenty of colorful 30’s slang, but not worth wasting your time on. Fun fact: Listen for the scene where Kay calls Bogie “mowonic”!



(Columbia 1941, D: Frank L. Strayer)

Cornball comedy Western starring Penny Singleton (on break from her BLONDIE films) and a very young Glenn Ford. Glenn’s the new sheriff of Headstone sent to rid the town of “Killer Pete”, while Penny’s an Easterner with a knack for trouble. Penny also sings and dances, as does Ann Miller as a saloon girl (the two take part in a great catfight towards the end). Veterans Charlie Ruggles, Allen Jenkins, and Jed Prouty mug it up in supporting roles. Nothing special, but fairly entertaining. Fun Fact: Western Swing band Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys perform their hit “Ida Red”.



(United Artists 1957, D: Harold Daniels)

Having lived in Louisiana for five years, I dug this sordid little tale of a New York architect (Peter Graves) who falls in love with Cajun Queen Marie (Lita Milan). Eccentric character actor Timothy Carey plays Ulysses, bully of the bayou and rival for Marie’s affections. Carey’s odd shimmying dance has to be seen to be believed! Interesting B with Roger Corman vets Ed Nelson, and Jonathan Haze (LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS) in small roles. Worth checking out, especially for Carey fans. Fun Fact: Lita Milan was married to ousted Dominican dictator Ramfis Trujillo.



(20th Century Fox 1960, D; Edward L. Cahn)

This minor crime drama tries hard, as a Greek visitor (Nico Minardos) witnesses a gangland slaying and goes into hiding in a small town, pursued by the killers, a crooked cop, and a dogged detective. Barbara Eden is an attractive love interest, but Cahn’s lazy direction and Jerry Sohl’s rather obvious script do the movie in. Close, but no noir. Fun Fact: Supporting actors Gavin McLeod and Ted Knight reunited ten years later as cast members of THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW.



(independent 1970, D:Barbara Loden)

The gem of this roundup! Actress Barbara Loden wrote and directed this character study about Wanda Goronski, an alcoholic, poverty stricken woman from West Pennsylvania coal country who leaves her husband and kids and hooks up with an abusive petty crook (Michael Higgins). Wanda is uneducated and has no self esteem, just drifts along the backroads of life with no plan, and will definitely hold your interest. Shot on location, this ultra realistic film was Loden’s only directorial effort. Sadly, she died from breast cancer in 1980. If you can only watch one film on this list, make it WANDA. Fun Fact: Loden was the wife of Oscar winning director Elia Kazan.

Now here’s Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys doing “Ida Red”. Take it away, Bob!!

In Case You Missed It….

in case

….I’ve done a little housecleaning here on Cracked Rear Viewer. In order to make things easier for you, dear reader, I’ve consolidated several categories (‘Film Review’ is gone, everything’s under ‘Film’ now) and added some new ones (Tribute, Television, News & Notes), all designed to make the site more user friendly! Just pick the Category you want (listed on the left hand side) and browse away! Cracked Rear Viewer will always be a work in progress, and as Bartles & Jaymes used to say, “We thank you for your support”!!

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