Tuesday 22 May 2018

5 exc/ Carry Ons - Aldrich, Tales that Witness Madness, Peckinpah, Nasty Habits, Krakatoa

All The Marbles (1982) - Robert Aldrich's last film, a flat, TV movie-like tonally-all-over-the-place comdram with Peter Falk and Burt Young struggling to hold the thing together, but the female wrestlers, especially Laurene Landon are kind of flat. Nice exterior cinematography (including a freight train carrying hatchbacks!), but disappointing. Could almost be a pilot.

Killer Elite (1975) - Pretentious Peckinpah action film (i.e. random cuts to a bird's nest during an explosion), despite having Tom Clancy (not the writer, but the Clancy brother) in a good, solid performance as a CIA exec (his accent slips - is his character supposed to be American, Irish-American or educated Ivy League educated Tipperary farm boy) and ninjas. It's overlong, tries to be about something,  spends too much on James Caan trying to walk again. Could barely make an hour into it. Overlong, drab, pretentious and just... arrgh...

Tales That Witness Madness (1973) - Even the strangeness of the stories cannot prevent this pedestrian anthology from going anywhere more than lacklustre. Despite Freddie Francis directing, it feels cheap and telly-like, and it is free of the charm and construction of the Amicus films. It lacks the fun of Asylum.

Nasty Habits (1977) - A deaf-eared Watergate spoof, all shot in England, hence Fair City's Oliver Maguie as the Irish-American cop. Confused farce. Sandy Dennis is fun, a live action Bugs Bunny if there ever was one.

Tried listening to the CBS Mystery Theatre radio adaptation of Dracula from the 1970s. But it is awful. Elderly Mercedes McCambridge as "Menna" Harker, everyone with American accents, "Lucy Westeynre", it's like bad dinner theatre.
See also the Showtime taping of Frank Langella as William Gillette's Sherlock Holmes in 1981. Stephen Collins as a toff, Tom Atkins as a Ron Pember-ish Cockney, Christian Slater as an Australian-accented Billy the Page Boy (ironic as his best role would be as a literal "Junior Watson" in The Name of The Rose), all kinds of awful.

Been doing a Carry On rewatch of the films I either never really saw.
Follow That Camel (1968) - Its weak, partly because it is very similar to the spotty Up the Khyber. Heatherdenn House again. It's like a less good Last Remake of Beau Geste (and not just because it has no granda in it). And Silvers feels completely out of place, completely anachronistic even moreso than the actual regulars. The village stuff looks very ITC, though the desert stuff does look much bigger budget, and the matte of the hotel is glorious. But it's not all that funny, and Bluthal is wasted, yet outshines everyone in his few scenes.
Carry On Cowboy (1966) I never got because the stars feel stifled by their false accents. I am not a westerns fan per se. Ironic that Percy Herbert had just been at the same time doing an actual Western series, Cimarron Strip. Pertwee looks like Pat Ingoldsby (an Irish only ref, there). And his death scene he plays exactly like his regeneration. "Garbage - it's a load of rubbish". But it tries too hard. It might have been better if not a Carry On, made in America or at least Spain, ten years later, when Dale was in America. Angela Douglas' accent is barely there, and the farm sets look more Irish than anything.
Don't Lose Your Head (1966) is an okay Scarlet Pimpernel spoof, but proves that the 'Ons hit their stride when they realise present day settings and resembling films of non-existent ITV sitcoms are the key. The theme tune is fun (by my one-time neighbour Phil Coulter).
Emmannuelle (1978) I just watched recently, beyond the titles, having got the box set. And God! It feels like a bad imitation of all those Euro-sex comedies. Bits of it don't look like a film. The bits where they for padding reasons tell us their sexy encounters, with Ken Connor stripping and having an affair with the Closet Queen of Camden Town and narrating looks like a rude banned ad campaign for a lager. The naked skydiving bit, WTF?

Krakatoa - East of Java (1969) - Notorious because of an inaccurate title, a strange B-list attempt to create an epic with a cast of B-list character faces headed by Maximilian Schell and featuring ageing Joe Meek protege John Leyton as Token Brit inventor type, a confusion of plot ideas, with Barbara Werle as a Maria Von Trapp type, and a strange mood between 50s exotica and 70s disaster movie and featuring non-diagetic musical numbers despite not bing a musical. A slog, though the effects by Eugene Lourie are actually pretty good, in a  Thunderbirds manner. And there's some weird hallucinogenic nightmare sequences that Brian Keith suffers from that turn him rapey. It tries to be about five things at once. Family musical, disaster movie, thriller,  steampunk adventure movie, and melodrama. Apart from Schell, Rossano Brazzi and  Sal Mineo and Brian Keith's John Wayne impression, the film's performances are underpowered, unmemorably hammy, and not in a good way. The likes of Diane Baker fade into the canvas of the artificial Cinecitta surroundings.  No wonder RTE constantly showed this.


  1. Geez, you could have picked better Carry Ons than those! Cowboy's passable, I suppose, but Emmannuelle barely qualifies as entertainment, you get YouTube videos more professional. The (much-maligned) Confessions movies with Robin Askwith are funnier than that.

  2. I know. I was trying to catch up with the 'Ons I was less familiar with. England is stinky, Behind's quite fun, Dick feels dated, Girls is losing a spark, while Matron and Abroad are the series' highpoints IMO.