Saturday Double Feature: Sherlock Gnomes (2018) and…

Another Saturday means another Saturday Double Feature!

Okay, let’s start with a quick recap of the “rules”, shall we? The basic idea here is to take a movie that is out in theaters now, and pair it up with another movie from the 1980s or before. Sometimes the connection will be obvious, and sometimes it’ll be a little less so, but that’s part of the fun.

Let’s face it, this is not exactly a great week for new releases. When the biggest release of the week is another God Is Not Dead sequel, I think it’s safe to say that the major studios are taking the week off.

So that leaves us with something of a dearth of movies to look at for our double feature this week. At fist I considered looking at home video releases to see if maybe there was something there that might be fun to pair up with an older movie, but I finally decided to go back to last week and look at another release from then.

Unfortunately, other than Pacific Rim, here weren’t a whole lot of great movies released last week, either. Ok, well, nobody ever said we had to go with a great movie… or even a good one. Hey, wait, what’s that peeking up with those beady little eyes from the bottom of the barrel? Oy. I think it’s some atrocious flick called Sherlock Gnomes. Ok, what the heck, let’s go with that.

I have no idea how Gnomeo and Juliet managed to make enough money to rate a sequel, except perhaps that the production costs on these things are so low that they can’t help but make money. After all, when the highest level of creativity in your film is the pun in your title, how much can it really cost? Anyway, here we are.

Here, have a trailer

Fortunately, there have, over the years, been much better Sherlock Holmes parodies.

One of the best of these came out in 1975 in the form of The Adventure Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother. While he was finishing production on Mel Brook’s Young Fraankenstein, Gene Wilder was approached with thee idea of creating a Sherlock Holmes parody. Instead of taking on a direct pastiche, however, Wilder decided to frame the movie around Holmes’s insanely jealous brother. No, not Mycroft, whom even Holmes’s creator Arthiur Conan-Doyle acknowledged as Sherlock’s mental superior, but his lesser-known other brother Sigerson.

Bringing along with him from Frankenstein his costars Madeline Kahn and Marty Feldman, Smarter Brother became Wilder’s directorial debut. Let’s see how it turned out, shall we?

 

So what do you think? What would you choose for a double feature with Sherlock Gnomes? Leave your thoughts in the comments, along with ideas of any other upcoming movies you’d like to see “double featured”. Consider it, if you will, your chance to challenge me to come up with an interesting pair.

Until next time, Happy Viewing!

Advertisements

Say “Cheese” 011 – Against A Crooked Sky (1975)

This past Christmas my son got me a Mill Creek box set called Awesomely Cheesy Movies. 100 movies on 24 disks, it’s actually a combination of two of their earlier released sets, “The Swinging Seventies”, and “The Excellent Eighties”.

For those of you who may not be familiar with these Mill Creek sets, they are generally comprised of  public domain or made-for-television movies that are reproduced without embellishment, enhancement, or extras and are sold in large collections for very low prices. This means that the quality on them can be quite variable, and they often show signs of age and wear. Nonetheless, there are often hidden gems amongst what can be large swaths of dross.

Anyway, I’ve decided to wend my way through this collection, starting with the first movie on the first disk of the 70s collection, then the first movie in the 80s set, then back to the 70s, and so on, and see just what turns up. If nothing else, it should be interesting. Come along, won’t you?

And so, with 1975’s Against A Crooked Sky, we’re back to the westerns that seem to be a favorite genre in this particular set.

We also return, for better or worse, to what seems to be a familiar theme within the genre, that of the white girl kidnapped by native Americans to become one of their own and the quest to recover her.

Of course the most famous example of this trope iss the John Wayne classic The Searchers, which, while an interesting movie and as always with Wayne’s movies, entertaining simply for because of his presence and persona, is also almost unspeakably wrong-headed with Wayne’s conviction that even death is preferable for his niece than life among the Comanches.

This time, instead of Wayne, we get as our “hero” we get Richard Boone as a drunken prospector who is caught up in he search for the missing girl.We also get a touch of True Grit as the girl’s brother is the instigator of the action as he draws Boone into the search for his sister after everyone else has given up.

Against A Crooked Sky was rated “G” upon its release, another reminder that once uopn a time the rating was not simply reserved for dumbed down kiddie fare, but actually indicated a film was appropriate for the entire family. Of course, this was also a time when movies were made for the whole family looking for a good night out. It also shows that a film can have action and adventure and still be considered appropriate for the entire family. Or at least that used to be true.

Once again, I’ve got no trailer for this one, but here’s a short clip from the opening:

Up Next: The Excellent 80s  Disk 2 Movie 1: The Agency– I always knew advertising was a tool of the devil.

Just A Quick Reminder

Just wanted to take a minute to remind everyone about the poll for April’s “theme month”. For full details, check out this post, but for a quick recap, your options are: 1) Tarzan movies, 2) Star Trek movies, 3) Blaxploitation, 4) movies of 1968, and 5) not-so-superheroes.

You can make your opinion known in the comments here, on the original post, or on the Facebook page. I’ll be tallying everything up Saturday morning, so be sure to let me know your thoughts before then.

Throwback Thursday – Mel Blanc: The Man of 1000 Voices

Between this blog and my previous one, Professor Damian’s Public Domain Treasure Chest, I’ve been writing about movies for quite a while now. Because of that, there are a lot of posts that have simply gotten lost to the mists of time. So, I figured I’d use the idea of “Throwback Thursday” to spotlight some of those older posts, re-presenting them pretty much exactly as they first appeared except for updating links where necessary or possible, and doing just a bit of re-formatting to help them fit better into the style of this blog. Hope you enjoy these looks back.

Since we took a look at The Story Lady for this week’s OTR Tuesday, this seemed like a good time to revisit one of the great documentaries about the man whose company was behind that production, Mr. Mel Blanc. This was first posted in 2013.

———————-

The Voices In His Head – Mel Blanc: The Man of 1000 Voices

Mel Blanc is a man who entertained millions of people both during his lifetime and after, and though his name is well known in certain circles, for most people he did so largely anonymously. Fortunately, the documentary Mel Blanc: The Man of 1000 Voices goes a long way towards bringing this wonderfully talented man, who provided the voices for most of the characters of the Warner Brothers cartoons (you know, characters like Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Foghorn Leghorn, Porky Pig, and literally countless others), out of the recording studio and giving him the spotlight he so richly deserved.

For those unfamiliar with the man, or who don’t understand just how important he is in popular culture, here’s a short clip of him being interviewed on the David Letterman show in 1981:

Watching that, seeing how seamlessly he is able to move from voice to voice, from character to character, he makes someone much more renowned like Robin Williams seem like a manic piker. Anyway, for those fascinated by the man, his characters, or even simply the history of animation, this documentary is well worth watching, as it gives a great sense of the man who not only gave thousands of characters a voice, but really, gave them life.

 

 

—————————–

Hope you enjoyed this blast from the past.

Like Looking Into A Stained Glass Mirror – The Cabinet of Caligari (1962)

Say what?! A 1960s remake of the famous early silent film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari that I’ve never heard of? And it’s written by Robert Bloch? Okay, you know I’ve got to check this one out.

Yeah, well, not so much. Not so much a remake, that is. I suppose you could say it’s “inspired by” the original, but even that would be something of a stretch. Yes, there is a bit of a connection, but what that connection is is only revealed at the end, and I’m certainly not going to give it away here.

Let’s simply say there’s no somnabulist, no canted angles (which the original is famous for) except for one small scene, no German expressionism on display. Oh, and no cabinet, either.

On the other hand, there is quite an interesting mystery going on. The story opens with Jane Lindstrom arriving at the estate of a man named Caligari after having had a blowout in her motorcar that results in it winding up in a ditch. Though he is welcoming and invites her to stay the night while her car is repaired, she soon finds that she is actually a prisoner in the house and is unable to leave or even use the telephone to call for help.

She soon meets other guests .at the estate, including an older man named Paul who seems to want to help her not just escape but to understand what is going on around her and why she is being held against her will. Also at the estate is an elderly woman named Ruth who also seems to be at the estate against her will and who, after promising to help Jane is tortured and them seemingly murdered. Also, thee is Mark, a younger man who seems especially interested in Jane’s plight and with whom she soon forms something of a romantic relationship.

There are other characters who move in and out of Jane’s life as she ties to find a way to escape from Caligari’s compound. There’s an intriguing mystery surrounding the entire enterprise, and the viewer is often led to wonder whether the entire thing might not be a sort of Gaslight scenario where the people involved are trying to either drive Jane insane or at least make her think she is.

I’m not going to go much further in explaining what’s going on because even though it may not be a classic, there’s still enough intrigue and mystery and atmosphere to this movie to make it worth seeking out. No, it may not have much to do really with the original, and it honestly might have been more successful with a different title that wasn’t quite so evocative of the past (though I wonder really, especially at the time of the film’s release how much of mainstream America would even have been aware of the silent German classic. For that matter, I wonder how many people now would be.).

Nonetheless, if you’re looking for a relatively quiet, slow burn, heavily atmospheric creeper, then I do recommend giving The Cabinet of Caligari a look.

Here’s your trailer:

 

OTR Tuesday – The Story Lady (1960s)

The short intro: For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, Old Time Radio is the phrase generally used to refer to the time when radio was (mostly) live, and was full of a variety of different shows, as opposed to simply being a means for record labels to use robots to promote the top records of the day. OTR  Tuesday is my chance to explore some of those old radio shows, their connections (both old and new) to movies, and hopefully to encourage some of the rest of you to take a look at a probably unfamiliar source of entertainment that I truly love. If you want more info on OTR, and some examples of the variety of shows that were made, be sure to check out this introductory post.

This week we’re going to revisit a show that we first looked at back in 2014: The Story Lady.

Fortunately in the time that has passed since I originally wrote that post, I’ve managed to dig up a bit more information on these irreverent shorts,. At the earlier time I was going on information from a site that claimed they were first produced in 1945, but since then I’ve actually learned that they were put together by Mel Blanc Productions during the 1960s. That makes a lot more sense,. especially  that there are references to such contemporary figures as Hugh Hefner that make much more sense with the contemporary setting.

The Story Lady starred Joan Gerber as The Story Lady and Byron Kane as The Announcer, who pretty much always got the last word. Gerber was born in 1935 and died in 2011 and had a number of notable voice-over roles both on the radio and in cartoons. One of her most “famous” roles was the voice of Freddie the Flute on the Saturday morning television show H.R. Puffinstuff.

Taking their basis from popular children’s stories, these roughly one minute long shows would give them very… interesting twists, some of which seem quite surprising even today, and even more so for the era in which they were originally broadcast. I’ve not been able to track down a definitive list of episodes, or even a complete count of how many there are, but I do know that there are well over 200 available online.

I do feel like I should give a bit of a warning that while there’s not particularly anything NSFW about these little tidbits, at the same time, they were aimed at adults and not made for very small children, as one might think, so you might want to keep that in mind as you are listening.

So, with that out of the way, let’s tune in and see what The Story Lady has in store for us today, shall we?

Happy listening!

 

 

A Quick Question and a Poll

No major article today, but I thought I’d take just a moment for a quick poll. I’m considering making April a theme month. The idea is that along with the usual regular features, most of the posts during the month would focus on a specific topic.

I’ve got five different ideas for themes for the month, and I thought I would put it out to you, my readers, to let me know which of these you might find more interesting.

First up is Tarzan month. This would be a retrospective of, not all, because there have been far too many, but a number of the different incarnations of the jungle lord in film from the earliest days to the present.

The second option is Star Trek month where I would take a look at all of the major motion picture adventures of the crew of the Enterprise.

Third: Blaxploitation month. I’ve already covered a couple of films from the “blaxploitation wave of the 70s, buut there are plenty more out there to check out.

The fourth option is, movies of 1968. This is the 50th anniversary of one of the most interesting years in film history, and that makes for a good excuse to look back at it.

And finally, option five: not-quite-super heroes. Since we’re getting the new Avengers movie at the end of the month, I thought it might be fun to look back at some of the… let’s say less successful superhero adaptations over the years that preceded the current superhero boom.

So what do you think? I’d really like to get some input on this and see what those of you out there in the readership would like to see. Of course, you can also vote the “no theme” option if you prefer for the month to simply be more of the same: i.e. whatever crosses my desk and catches my fancy at the time.

So let me know, either in the comments below or on the Facebook page, both what your vote is and your thoughts on the subject or anything else having to do with the blog.