Thursday, April 30, 2015

Joan Crawford Week: Mildred Pierce

Good day and welcome to Day 3 of Joan Crawford Week. Today I thought we should get away from the MGM years as those were more or less supporting roles and dammit we are gonna let the diva shine. So how about we head over to Warner Brothers to show off the film based on the 1941 novel Mildred Pierce by James M. Cain. With this flick, Crawford won the Academy Award for Best Actress in this film noir about a suffering back breaking mother and her horrific ungrateful brat of a daughter. This is Mildred Pierce.

So whiskey with your whiskey or just the double whiskey?

With a tiny bit of voice-over narrative, via Joan our movie opens in police interrogation after they discover the body of Mildred's second husband Monte Beragon (Zachary Scott of The Mask of Dimitrios, The Southerner, The Young One, It's Only Money and The Rogues) who utters the name Mildred just before death. The cops have a strong suspicion that Mildred's first husband Bert Pierce (Bruce Bennett of Sahara, Dark Passage, The Treasure of Sierra Madre, Perry Mason, Lassie and The Clones) is their culprit, snag him and sweat him under the lamp until he sung like a canary. Shocked at Bert's barbarism she cannot fathom why a man so kind and gentle would ever even think of committing murder.

From there we flashback to simpler times. With selling of pies and cakes all the while tending to the house and the children, Bert feels less of a man being unemployed and comes to terms that Mildred has made the kids her main concern and not him. Boo frickin' hoo. Divorced, Mildred has custody of her two daughters Veda (Ann Blyth of Brute Force, The Great Caruso, The King's Thief, Kismet, Slander and The Helen Morgan Story) a snotty 16 year old social climbing and aspiring pianist with visions of a greater status quo and Kay (Jo Ann Marlowe of Yankee Doodle Dandy, Dangerous Intruder, Man from Rainbow Valley, A Scandal in Paris, Little Iodine and The Strange Woman) a bit of a tomboy playing in the dirt. Mildred's main goals is to win Veda's affection by lavishing this unruly brat with worldly good and attention of which Veda spurns every chance she gets, pointing out how common her mother is to be working at a restaurant as a lowly waitress... Anyone else want to drop the little princess out on her ass?? Bert picks up the kids for a weekend visit when little Kay get pneumonia and dies. I'm sure Bert didn't cause that to happen.

Jeez, father backed over the cat and just tore off.

Sicken with grief and guilt, Mildred throws herself into work where she and her supervisor Ida (Eve Arden of The Eve Arden Show, Anatony of a Murder, The Red Skelton Hour, The Mothers-In-Law and In Name Only) work to build a better restaurant into a chain of them for across the country, a deal to insure a fleet of Mildred's making their ways all over the freeways. Veda refuses to give an inch from her mother and mocks her precious gifts. Will Mildred and Veda ever become the mother and daughter Mildred deserves? Will Veda "accidentally" be shoved into an industrial wood chipper? Will Bert meet an Ernie?

A few points on this movie now.

Shirley Temple was originally considered for the part of Veda Pierce. Interestingly enough, Joan Crawford was a waitress and a saleswoman supporting herself before her chorus days let alone her acting days.

Author James M. Cain sent Joan a signed first edition of the original novel, inscribed read: To Joan Crawford, who brought Mildred Pierce to life just as I had always hoped she would be, and who has my lifelong gratitude. Not too shabby, eh?

Pipe down sweet cheeks, the menfolk are talking.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Joan Crawford Week: The Women

Welcome back my fine collective to Day 2 of Joan Crawford Week. Well yesterday we saw the lady of the week in a secondary character role in a dark drama. Hows about this time around we enjoy a comedic drama on relationships, partnerships, love and marriage? Based on an all-woman cast play by author/US Ambassador/feminist Clare Booth Luce (Abide with Me, The Women, Kiss the Boys Goodbye, Margin for Error, Child of the Morning and Slam the Door Softly)comes the tale of Manhattan gals living life to the fullest, some working like dogs while others happy in their surroundings. This is The Women.

A wise notion giving me top photo, Jake.

Our story primarily focuses on Mary Haines (Norma Shearer of The Divorcee, Romeo and Juliet, Marie Antoinetter, Idiot's Delight and Escape) the happy housewife of Stephen and mother to Little Mary (Virginia Weidler of Bad Little Angel, Henry Goes Arizona,The Philadelphia Story, All This, and Heaven Too and Best Foot Forward)who after working around the house and by that I mean everything but walnut blast the wallpaper off and put up new spackle feels that everything is just so and nothing could persuade her to think otherwise...

Meanwhile the ladies of gossip are gabbing it up about an affair happening as Mary's cousin, Sylvia Fowler (Rosalind Russel of Trouble for Two, Night Must Fall, Man-Proof, His Girl Friday, She Wouldn't Say Yes and The Trouble with Angels) is getting her nails done when the manicurist tells her that Mary's husband has been seen gadding it up with a perfume counter girl name of Crystal Allen (Joan Crawford of Possessed, Flamingo Road, Sudden Death, Torch Song and Johnny Guitar).  Sylvia sets Mary up for the same manicurist so she can hear the rumor and get the ball rolling on how best to deal with the double dealing jerk. Mary's mother (Lucile Watson of Made for Each Other, Waterloo Bridge, Watch on the Rhine and Song of the South) urges Mary to forget this nonsense but Mary's suspicions are on the rise when her husband's constant claims of working late seems to be happening far too often. She decides to take a trip to Bermuda with her mom and let the rumors die out and think long and hard at the whole situation.

Upon returning, Mary makes her way to a fashion show she knows Crystal will be at and concludes to confront Crystal about the supposed affair. Crystal is cold and calculating, letting Mary know that he clearly found something in her that Mary could not provide and hints that if Mary wants this to remain on the down low unless she wants a public divorce. Mary, hurt from these comments leave the show. The rumors continue to circulate until it makes its way into the gossip columns and Mary has had enough. With a quickie divorce in the wings, she and Little Mary pack up and head to Reno.

On the train to Reno she encounters a gathering of women heading in the same direction with oddly enough about the same issues. The lovely Countess de Lave (Mary Boland of Ruggles of Red Gap, Six of a Kind, Pride and Prejudice and Julia Misbehaves), her friend Peggy Day (Joan Fontaine of Rebecca, Suspicion, Letter from an Unknown Woman and Ivanhoe) and streetwise chorus girl Miriam Aarons (Paulette Goddard of Modern Times, The Great Dictator, Second Chorus, Babes in Bagdad, Paris Model and The Unholy Four). Settling in at a ranch the ladies' live begin anew, get more hectic and in general are relying on each other to see this through.

A few comments on the film now.

Myrna Loy and Greta Garbo were the only top female stars at MGM that did not star in this movie, it was rumored that Loy was considered for the part of Crystal. The square-cut ring for Mary's wedding band was the most expensive piece of jewelry on the film, worth $175,000 you can imagine how well it was look after. While many view Joan Crawford as the bad girl in the film, Clare Boothe Luce wrote the play to be based around Crystal Allen and not Mary.

Too much high society for me, ladies.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Joan Crawford Week: Grand Hotel

Welcome ladies and gents to Day 1 of Joan Crawford Week. Today we look at the adaptation of screenplay of the same name to film by playwright/screenplay writer William A. Drake (The Trespasser, Paramount on Parade, Riptide, The Flame Within, Dark Victory and The Old Maid) and working alongside with actor/writer/director Edmund Goulding (Reaching for the Moon, Night Angel, A Night at the Opera, Dark Victory, The Old Maid and The Razor's Edge) This film's influence stems to this day with the famous line "I want to be alone", uttered by Greta Garbo and in American Film Institute placed at number 30 of the 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes.

This is Grand Hotel.

Fame overwhelms the mind, don't it?

The Grand Hotel hails from Berlin and houses a curious collection of people from every walk of life. The standards view is people come and go, and nothing ever truly happens. With a crippled veteran of World War I, Doctor Otternschlag (Lewis Stone of The Lost World, Queen Christina, Love Finds Andy Hardy, Scarmouche and The Prisoner of Zenda) being the hotel's lone permanent resident, much goes on in the hotel he calls home.

A member of the Kaiserreich a one Baron Felix von Geigern (John Barrymore of Here Comes the Bride, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Sea Beast, Moby Dick, Dinner at Eight and The Great Profile) a squander of his fortune keeps himself afloat by being a card player and indulging in the odd spot of jewel theft befriends mild-mannered accountant Otto Kringelein (Lionel Barrymore of Captains Courageous, You Can't Take It With You, It's a Wonderful Life, Key Largo and Lone Star) who recently discovered he is dying and will spend his remaining days on this Earth in the lap of luxury. Let go from his job he is excited for a bit of action and entertainment.

Sir, stop farting on my scotch and soda!

Meanwhile his former employer, Industrialist General Director Preysing (Wallace Beery of Robin Hood, The Sea Hawk, Another Man's Wife, Dynamite Smith, The Champ and Viva Villa!) is dictating to his secretary Flaemchen (Joan Crawford of Mildred Pierce, Goodbye, My Fancy, Torch Song, Sudden Fear, This Woman Is Dangerous, Johnny Guitar and The Caretakers) who exhibits a certain naivete' explaining to Preysing how she aspires to be an actress and displays a few photo magazine shots that frankly had a bit of cheesecake quality towards them, slowly hinting that she will give more than typing if he assists her in her budding career. Last but certainly not least is the Russian ballerina whose career seems out of sorts, Grusinskaya (Greta Garbo of The Temptress, Flesh and the Devil, The Divine Woman, The Kiss, Mata Hari, As You Desire Me and The Painted Veil) manages to catch the Baron's eye for her stunning beauty and fine quality jewels.

Snatching the goods, the Baron finally sees an opportunity to get ahead when he sees Grusinskaya enter the room, speaking to herself about suicide with medication in hand. The Baron comes out of the shadows of where he was hiding and simply speaks with her bringing a little happiness to her face. The next day the Baron filled with remorse returns Grusinskaya's precious jewels to her in the hopes she may forgive him in his moment of weakness. Rather than summon the authorities she invites him to journey with her to Vienna. See? I would have just gotten the cops called on me and charges pressed. Go figure. With tempers flaring between Kringlein and his former boss Preysing it can only in tears, violence and quite possibly a murder.

A quick couple of facts on the film. While made in 1932, the budget for the movie was 700,000 clams. Wallace Beery would storm out of rehearsals and only return "When Joan Crawford learns to act." Both Joan and Greta were reluctant to star as their characters. Ms. Crawford felt she would be censored immensely for her provocative character and Ms. Garbo felt she would be lost in the crowd of so many stars.  

Did Jake forget I am the star of this week?  The hack!

Joan Crawford Week

Good day and welcome to the week, my readers. Well, I posted in as many places as I could asking the reading public any ideas for the week. Alas only one person answered and offered up an actress that I am familiar with but had not explored with a great degree. My friend Hodge suggested the queen of the screen, the madam of misery and with such charisma and fashion, an icon for many. With a less than flattering tell-all book written by her adopted daughter, a film portraying her in the spotlight as obsessive compulsive, cruel and prone to fits of rage. With the illusion of pouty lips, it became known as Hunter's Bow Lips and she was credited as helping to converge America's dislike against lipstick.

Ooo, she gonna whoop somebody.

Having met Steven Spielberg on the set of Night Gallery as a young director and was a source of inspiration for his early years. A cultural icon started out in a collective of menial jobs to allow her time to continue and perfect her dancing. Entering in several contests she landed herself in a spot of a chorus line dancing her way through the Midwest and East Coast when after two years of this she simply moved to Hollywood for the next big step in being a star when she landed her first bit part as a showgirl in Pretty Ladies.

With the hurdles of the talkies driying up and handed more and more bit parts, Crawford grew tired of MGM studios and head for their primary rival Warner Brothers in the later 1940s, landed the plum role for Mildred Pierce allowed her to show her full range as an actress captivated the audience and earning her an Oscar for Best Actress. Born Lucille Fay LeSueur was informed by MGM mogul Louis B. Mayer to her stage name because according to his very narrow piggy little head that LeSeur sounded to close to sewer. Thus Joan Crawford was born.

With that in mind we will examine and go over the various well known titles of this actress that to this very day. Her following is as great as it was in the day and quite possibly more appreciated. Please sit back and enjoy Joan Crawford Week.

More smoke on this film than a Cuban tobacco harvest.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

TV Episode: Daredevil- In the Blood

Welcome back readers of this fine, outstanding blog to Day 4 of TV Episode Daredevil. As you can imagine, the Russians are getting a severe ass chewing by Fisk to eliminate the man in the black mask. Scouring the streets to find him, anyone that knows him or have had contact with him, the Ranskahov brothers decide to visit their now broken leg breaker in the hospital, as he was the last man to see the man in black. This is Daredevil: In the Blood.

Judging from the screams, that is a long way down.

After sneaking in the hospital and waken Semyon (Alex Falberg of Katya, The Men Who Built America and Progression), the leg breaker spurts out the details he knows... and then they off him. No loose strings for these guys. Suffice to say, these fellas are as subtle is a grenade in a bowl of oatmeal. Vladimir and Anatoly seek the aid of an interogator Sergei (David Vadim of G.I. Jane, Air Force One, Exit Wounds, Punisher: War Zone, Blue Bloods and Allegiance) who captures Claire and hauls her to a secluded place to "ask" her questions.

Karen surprised Ben Ulrich was not interested in the story behind Union Allied attends a local auction as several of the office equipment is up for grabs and it is her hope she can track down the bigwigs behind the scenes. Ben startles her, tells her to bid on some items or she will look even more nervous than she already does. Fisk returns to the art gallery where he met Vanessa and the two seem to hit it off so well he asks her to dinner, which oddly enough she accepts.

Dude is just getting wounded so Rosario will touch him.

Sergei and the cronies are putting the screws to Claire when all the lights go out... coincidence? Our vigilante makes short work of the Russians and Vladimir and Anatoly are on their collective butts again and Claire is in the wind with Matt. Fisk made a prior arrangement offer to the brothers and Anatoly is willing to accept due to they clearly are not working out well enough.

Enjoying a bottle of wine with dinner, Vanessa is blissfully unaware of how much muscle is watching over Fisk. At least 15 men minimum as Anatoly interrupts dinner, putting Vanessa on edge of Fisk thinking that his motives and intentions are nowhere near as pure as he claimed. Anatoly is treated to a pummeling and a horrific beheading which Fisk has the word passed it was the man in black. Will the Russians come gunning for Matt even more so? Will the other mobs accept this direction to go to war with the Russians? Won't they wonder who may be next?

A few bits of amusement of the episode. Fisk's right hand man comments how the vigilante isn't sporting a powered armor or magic hammer so why are the brothers having such a time with him. The tattoos the brothers are sporting at the beginning of the episode are Vory z Zakone (Russian mafia) via made men. Again the depths these actors bring to keep this series grounded to as much reality as needed is commendable.  It is my hope that all the readers here get to enjoy this series as much as I have.

Yeah these boys look like honest church going lads.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

TV Episode: Daredevil- Rabbit in a Snowstorm

Welcome back fans of the Devil to Day 3 of TV Episode Daredevil. A quick mention that Season 2 has been ordered up and I for one cannot wait to see them try to top Season 1. That being said, this time around we find Nelson & Murdock have a difficult case ahead of them as they have been asked to represent a John Healy who on the whole, looks like self defense against a local mob boss and his crew. Is it on the up and up? Will justice prevail? This is Daredevil: Rabbit in a Snowstorm.

A priest and a vigilante go into a bar...

After the severe butt whipping of last episode, Matt meditates, heals up and puts on his suit and tie to face the day as lawyer of Nelson & Murdock. Matt and Foggy are visited by James Wesley (Toby Leonard Moore of The Pacific, Underbelly, Mortal Kombat: Rebirth, John Wick and True Dead), Wilson Fisk's right hand man representing Fisk on the QT, offers them an obscene check to represent John Healy (Alex Morf of The Good Wife, Tin Man, Elementary, and In Dubious Battle) a man charged with premeditated murder of a mob boss. Foggy is a bit concerned about Healy but ultimately Matt wins him over with pointing out their young firm may have to represent some scum now and then. Matt gets the vibe from Healy that he is not on the up and up and in fact a mob enforcer but shows the court room the facts of the case which is pretty apparent he is going to walk.

There's a face you can trust... to do horrible things.

Later meeting back up with Healy in his back garb and throwing cowboy with him, Healy gives up his employer's name, Wilson Fisk. He then tells Matt that he is a dead man for talking and his whole family and friends will be wiped out before they get to him. To prevent that from happening, Healy offs himself. Matt has to deal with the balance of following the law and operating as a vigilante at the same time and it is clearly eating away at him.

With Union Allied safely dispersed and hidden under a new name, the conglomerate representing them contacts Karen, telling her they will not pursue legal charges given she broke her non-disclosure agreement (You know, in spite of the fact of attempts on her life twice) and is offered 6 months salary in the form of a big, stinky check for her... inconvenience.

Taken back by this, Karen seeks out harden and dogged newspaper man Ben Ulrich (Vondie Curtis-Hall of Die Hard 2, Chicago Hope, Romeo + Juliet, Broken Arrow, Life is Hot in Cracktown and Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans) as she spills that there has to be more going on with the former Union Allied, a paper trail leading to the people responsible for Daniel Fisher's murder and the embezzlement of millions. Sensing the story and how deep the rabbit hole will go, Ben tries to discourage Karen in pursuing this obviously dangerous line of inquiry but not sure if he got through to her.

Fisk making all the moves from the shadows is now finding some artwork for his penthouse tower that captivates and moves him. He finds not only a painting but the lovely gallery director Vanessa (Ayelet Zurer of Munich, Vantage Point, Ingenious, Angels & Demons, Man of Steel and Last Knights) who almost instantly captivates him. We see him exhibit humanity in a otherwise cold exterior. Tensions run high in the underworld. Is Murdock making that many waves? Will Fisk and company come at him hard? What about the growing closeness of Foggy and Karen?

A few facts on the show now. The character Ben Ulrich is a white guy in the original comic and no one should lose their mind over a talented actor handling the role. The model of pistol in the crates is a Heckler & Koch P30 which can be a 9mm Parabellum (German caliber created by Georg Luger) or a 40. caliber S& W. The bowling alley this episode was film at was Whitestone Bowling Lanes in Flushing, NY. I guess due to the lack of harsh lighting in the joint. I mean have you ever seen a bowling alley with that tame of lighting before?

Man that body really sunk deep in the river.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

TV Episode: Daredevil: Cut Man

Hey true believers, welcome back to Day 2 of TV Episode Daredevil. A quick recap on Matt Murdock. As a child, Matt was blinded by a vat of volatile chemicals that were on a truck accident he saved an old man from dying. While unable to see in the conventional sense, he has a sort of radar sense and his other senses seem almost heightened. After the previous episode the Russians abducted a boy from his father and left a trail of bread crumbs for him to follow. This is Daredevil: Cut Man.

The lengths guys will go to impress Rosario Dawson.

While a young man Santino (Moises Acevedo of Don't Let Me Drown, Remember Me, Kings of Bushwick, Flat Out Amazing and Three from the Block) takes out the trash he notices a battered masked man in black laying in the dumpster. Running upstairs to fetch Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson of Josie and the Pussycats, Men in Black II, Sin City, This Girl's Life, Clerks II, Death Proof, Wonder Woman, Unstoppable and 10 Years), a nurse on night shift. The two haul the man in black (Matt) to her apartment where she discovers he has busted ribs, several cuts that he is bleeding out from and more than likely a concussion.

Matt wakes up on Claire's couch in absolute pain and is unmasked and tells Claire that the Russians laid a trap for him, hence he looks like the losing end of a soccer riot. Knowing the Russians won't be happy until he is a corpse he tries to deal with them, get the boy back and save the proverbial day. If he could stop passing out. We are treated to a flashback of Matt (Skylar Gaertner of Locke & Key, The Americans, Alex of Venice, Every Secret Thing and I Smile Back) listening to a boxing match with his father Battling Jack Murdock losing the fight. Jack gets back and gets stitched up by Matt as they talk about never staying down in a fight. Murdocks always get back up.

Dad, no more PTA fist fights.

With the Russians combing Hell's Kitchen looking for him, he plans to capture one of them and get him to talk... by typical vigilante terms of a butt whipping.

Meanwhile Karen and Foggy are bar hopping and bonding as Karen unloads on Foggy saying she can't bear to be in her apartment after her former colleague was killed there and she herself was almost killed. Foggy's lighter view starts to show Karen there is good in the Kitchen with the community giving a damn about one another which puts her in a better mood.

Matt/Man in Black awakes to deal with one of the Russians, get intel on the abducted boy and plans his assault in spite of all his injuries. Can he save the boy? Will he survive let alone put up much of a fight against the Russians? What will saving one life accomplish?

A few keynotes of the episode now. With director Phil Abraham (The Playboy Club, Hell on Wheels, The Walking Dead and Mad Men) at the helm, this episode is an excellent follow-up from the pilot, not pulling punches or forgetting to show that our hero is in fact, human and vulnerable. The issues Claire has with Matt's flexible morality on beating down the bad guys leaves her in a tight spot on whether or not he is one of the good guys. The atmosphere, lighting and scope of Hell's Kitchen all encompasses the story giving you tragic stories, areas of triumph and insight to the characters around.

Daredevil always looks hopelessly outnumbered, outmatched and out maneuvered in the comics and this is no exception. With fight choreography via stuntman Philip J Silvera (Never Surrender, Cop Out, Chuck, FlashForward, DC Universe Online, Bad Girls and Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City) with ten years of experience helping TV, film and video game fighting design, the realism is there, the punches sound meaty and vicious and Murdock gets tagged. No Spidey sense or bottomless pit of stamina assists him as it is all his will and determination.

She is so out of your league, Foggy.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

TV Episode: Daredevil: Into the Ring

Hello all and welcome back to the week. From the ABC Studios production team comes a different kind of hero. Streetwise, book smart and quite the fighter. Today we head to New York or more specifically Hell's Kitchen. Violence in the streets, drugs being pushed and humans trafficked in sex slaving. With the cops being bought off, people terrified to speak up and no Avengers coming to save the day, the folks of Hell's Kitchen pray for an angel... or perhaps a devil they know. This is Daredevil: Into the Ring.

Batman? I could take him.

With the partnership that is Nelson & Murdock, our young lawyers Franklin "Foggy" Nelson (Elden Henson of Cast Away, Manic, Cheats, Under the Tuscan Sun, Lords of Dogtown, Deja Vu and Smith) and his partner blind man Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox of Stardust, Stone of Destiny, Glorious 39, Boardwalk Empire and Hello Carter) have just secured their practice in Hell's Kitchen, hanging their shingle out and ready to defend those in need. No sooner have they set up a few desks, a friend on the police force, Sgt. Mahoney (No, not Steve Guttenberg but Royce Johnson of Life on Mars, Law & Order, Conspiracy X, A Magic Helmet and The Following) calls the fellas explaining a young lady is being held in custody due to being found with a dead man covered in the man's blood, found with the murder weapon and scared out of her mind.

Vampire Jessica! SHAME ON YOU!!!

Matt and Foggy are on the scene and ask the very confused and frightened Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll of Aces 'N' Eights, True Blood, Mother's Day, Seven Days in Utopia, Catch .44 and The Automatic Hate) details to the case. Genuinely scared she starts explaining how she didn't kill the man. Matt believes her and he and Foggy are going to do everything their power to get her out as she hasn't even been charged for what clearly looks like an open and shut case. As she later tells Matt that she is a whistle blower on the odds and ends of Union Allied when she finds discrepancies in the books that screams a pension embezzling.

Nelson & Murdock point out to the detectives in charge there is too many holes in the case, coupled with an attempt on her life while in their care, Karen needs be released ASAP. Karen still terrified to be in her apartment opts to stay with Matt for a few days. Matt drifts off to sleep as Karen leaves to go back to her apartment in search of her copy of the records on Union Allied. An assassin is posted at her apartment to end her, take the records and clean this mess up. Unbeknownst to the assassin, a black garbed man with a mask is there to beat the crap out of him and save the girl. With the files in hand, the information is leaked to the press and whomever was keeping this underwraps has a scandal on their hands. Is Karen safe? Is there more to this that just a money making scheme? Who pulled the strings to frame Karen?

A few points of interest now. We are introduced to a re-occuring character from the comic, such as petty crook Turk Barrett, one of Daredevil's unwilling informant. Michael C. Hall of Six Feet Under and Dexter expressed interest in playing Daredevil. The real estate agent pitching the building to Matt and Foggy points out that they are lucky this spot in Hell's Kitchen is even around after the events that last summer commenting on the Battle of New York in the Avengers. Nice link up there.

You know I can't see you flipping me off, right?

TV Episodes: Daredevil

Hello all and welcome back to the week. Yesterday I was bogged down in chores and alas didn't feel up to getting some writing done. This week we tackle the few first episodes from a budding TV series. With 2015 here new series have been created in almost every genre. I felt this time around we see what Marvel Comics has produced via Netflix.

Ew, what did I step in?

With 13 episodes already in the bag, each an hour long, the story of Matt Murdock, lawyer by day and costumed vigilante by night, you can imagine the levels of fisticuffs he encounters on a nightly basis. Determined to clean up his city, stop crime and in general, improve the lives of others, our young hero fights the good fight on his own with only his training and heightened senses at his disposal. Will anyone else aid him in either of his guises? Will the police try to stop him? Can one man truly make a difference. Find out as we explore the first look since the disaster of a movie into a closer take on this iconic Marvel character, Daredevil.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Director Week: Stanley Kubrick- 2001: A Space Odyssey

A hearty greetings for Day 4 of Director Week starring Stanley Kubrick. Well we have had some Film Noir, some satire and even a risque tale of tawdry. Clearly it is time for some science fiction and no greater in Kubrick's collection that the combined efforts of Kubrick's story telling and acclaimed Science Fiction author Arthur C. Clarke (Against the Fall of Night, The Sands of Mars, 2001: A Space Odyssey, 2010 and The Hammer of the God) writing styles. Working in junction with one another after being inspired by Clarke's "The Sentinel" short story, both men worked on the screenplay and Clarke later adapted it into his novel. This is 2001: A Space Odyssey.


The African desert, a gathering of early hominids (Australopithecus, an early primate) are roused and driven from their water hole by another tribe. The next morning a huge, black monolith appears before them. A man-ape discovers to use a bone as both a tool and weapon. Armed with this knowledge (and several bones) they proceed back to the water hole and bump off the leader of the other tribe, thus reclaiming it for themselves. That doesn't sound very Sci-fi, Jake. Hold on, it get better.

Millions of years later a Pan Am (hey, this film was made in 1968) space plane carrying Dr. Heywood Floyd (William Sylvester of Gorgo, Devil Doll. Devils of Darkness and Quincy M.E.) who explains to the US lunar outpost that Floyd and a team of scientists have discovered an artifact dating back as far as four million years ago. Floyd and company jet over in a Moonbus to the artifact to discover it is a monolith based on the previous one in Africa. 18 months later the spacecraft Discovery One is off to Jupiter. Aboard this massive ship is Dr. David Bowman (Keir Dullea of Madame X, The Fox, Devil in the Brain, The Starlost. Black Christmas and 2010) and Dr. Frank Poole (Gary Lockwood of Splendor in the Grass, They Came to Rob Las Vegas, Star Trek, Barnaby Jones and Night of the Scarecrow). Both men are scientists as well as pilots navigating to the regions of space with three colleagues in cryogenic sleep chambers. The better portion of operations is handled by the ship's computer the HAL 9000.

Hey Walt, this candy bar's got knowledge!

HAL reports a failure of an antenna control device and the guys head outside to check it out when they cannot find anything wrong with it, HAL insists it be re-attached so he can assess what is the error. Contacting Mission control, HAL's twin computer finds nothing wrong with the component either but HAL continually believes human error has occurred. HAL's behavior is steadily more erratic, Bowman and Poole need to hatch a plan on what to do. How can they disable an AI that runs the better functions of the ship? Would a machine using cold logic simply do away with them to save the mission?

And now some fun facts on the flick. The original idea for the alien monolith was to be a huge device with a translucent screen showing the apes how to use tools and weapons but Arthur C. Clarke dismissed the idea thinking it too naive' and better it seem as the ideas were transmitted electronically to the lobes. Also HAL was slated to be a mobile robot but Clarke thought it would look primitive in decades to come so better the massive computer with the all seeing red eye.

US Air Force Mission Controller Frank Miller was hired to give the most authentic depiction the producers could find. Unfortunately he was nervous to read his part and ended up tapping his foot through recording sessions and the tapping was recorded as well. Kubrick finally ended up folding a large towel and placing it under Miller's feet and said tap to your heart's content now.

Hurry up with docking procedures... I gotta pee.

Director Week: Stanley Kubrick- Dr. Strangelove

How do all and welcome back for Day 3 of Director Week via Stanley Kubrick. Well our boy has tackled some taboo, some terror and adventure. So how about a dark comedy? Yes a satire depicting our planetary leaders in the midst of a Cold War nuclear crisis, in which Peter Sellers is brilliant in. This is Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

Mein Fuhrer, I can smirk!

With heightened paranoia as the order of the day, U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden of The Asphalt Jungle,The Killing, Hard Contact, The Godfather, The Long Goodbye and 1900) commanding SAC (Strategic Air Command) has recently discovered there is fluoride in the water which in his addled mind must mean... a Communist plot to deplete the American's precious bodily fluids. If you were expecting a hyperbole or punchline, no that is an actual line in this movie.

Ripper gets on the horn with his XO (Executive Officer) RAF Group Captain Lionel Mandrake (Peter Sellers of Only Two Can Play, Lolita, The Wrong Arm of the Law, The Pink Panther, A Shot in the Dark and Casino Royale) who puts the base on full alert, has the B-52 bomber loaded with 40 megatons of radioactive fun for all the Soviet boys and girls but realizes that Bomber Plan R can only be implemented if the higher command has been obliterated. Meanwhile in the War Room, President Merkin Muffley (Peter Sellers) is reviewing how our bombers could have been sent out and demand an immediate recall back to base.

But enough about nuclear arms, look at those gams.

Confabbing with General Buck Turgidson (George C. Scott of The Hustler, Patton, Rage, Bank Shot, The Changeling, Firestarter, A Christmas Carol and The Exorcist III) who flim flams about how the American Military's diligence to duty is what makes the country so great that they cannot radio the bomber to simply stand down as it can only utter a new code from the CRM-114 of 3 letters and only the Brigadier has that code. Trying to get the Premier on the phone shows to be difficult as they must correct this oversight.

Well the Army spring into action to overrun the Air Force base, The President consults with his scientific advisor, the former Nazi, Dr. Strangelove (Peter Sellers) starts calculating the potential fallout of the impeding nuclear holocaust that awaits them if they go underground, stockpile nuclear energy, gather several hundred thousand people and prep a breeding program to save the human race. Naturally the ratio of female to male would be 10 to 1 but that is just good math. Will the bomb drop? Can we avoid this horrible future? Will the word "Commie" be stuck in my head all day?

Some interesting tidbits about the film.   George C. Scott was annoyed with Stanley Kubrick getting him to overact his role. While vowing to never work with Kubrick, even Scott had to see that was an amazing performance. It has been a rumor confirmed fact that Peter Sellers improved most of his lines and Kubrick encouraged him to do so. Major Kong's line about the survival kit was originally "A fella could have a pretty good weekend in Dallas with all that stuff". It was decided that Dallas would be overdubbed with Vegas due to the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The film was set to be released on 1963 but that same assassination would be foremost in American minds so they waited the next year. As research for the film, Kubrick read nearly 50 books on nuclear war.

Extreme close-ups are never that extreme!!!


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Director Week: Stanley Kubrick- Lolita

Welcome back to Day 2 of Director Week starring Stanley Kubrick. This time around I felt the need to hit a prolific film based on a novel that unnerved some and disgusted others. With the countless censorship around the film, time lag and multiple issues with the movie, Kubrick claimed he would never have made it. This is Lolita.

Well... good morning indeed.

The MPAA restrictions at the time made the film have to tone down the more erotic and provocative elements of the novel. It had to be created to fit the audience's imagination. What happens with a middle-aged man becomes ensorcelled with a teenage girl. Professor Humbert Humbert (James Mason of A Star Is Born, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, North by Northwest, Lolita and Salem's Lot) is a 40 something professor of French literature stays in New Hampshire for the summer until term comes around in Beardsley College in Ohio.

He proceeds to find a room to rent and encounters Charlotte Haze (Shelley Winters of A Place in the Sun, The Night of the Hunter, Alfie, Gideon and La bomba) a widow that hasn't had the company of a man in some time, slightly clingy and a tad on the obnoxious steering Humbert to leave when he spies her daughter Dolores, lovingly called Lolita (Sue Lyon of The Night of the Iguana, 7 Women, The Flim-Flam Man, Tony Rome, Arsenic and Old Lace, The Magician and End of the World) and is smitten by the young lady. To be that much closer to Lolita, Humbert becomes a lodger at the house and attempts to fend off Charlotte's obvious advances when Lolita must go to a sleepaway camp (Beware of Angela!!) for the summer. The maid gave Humbert a letter from Charlotte confessing her undying love for him and if he remains in the house that clearly they are meant to be. Without the balance of Lolita, Humbert gets sour as Charlotte becomes very whiny and the days and nights seem to drag on. It is only when she is tidying that Charlotte comes across Humbert's diary outlining his obsession for Lolita and constantly refers Charlotte as that annoying Haze woman, the cow and brainless baba. Disgusted and furious she runs out of the house and is run over by a car and killed.

Not really getting through that book, is he?

Humbert picks Lolita up from the summer camp and the two proceed to travel the states... getting closer all the while. During the day and in public, they act as father and daughter eventually move in together and all appears on the up and up when the town is whispering about Humbert's overprotective tendencies towards Lolita. Soon this pushy stranger calling himself Dr. Zempf informs Humbert that his "daughter" could be experiencing life in the theatre allowing her to express herself better in the play as lead role. Things turn for the worse when Humbert finds Lolita has been lying to him on how she spends her Saturdays. Can this all end in tears? What would his colleagues think of him?

A few facts on the film now. Kubrick was never fully allowed to stress the erotic content to the relationship of Lolita and Humbert as the brilliant writer Vladimir Nabokov did rather than having to be indirect with double entendres and a few visual cues like her being in his lap or Humbert painting her toes with polish. Kubrick deliberately obscures Lolita's age to add an extra element of discomfort that it was rated X by the British Board of Film Censors in 1962 and no one under the age of 16 could watch it. The wonderful Peter Sellers (Up the Creek, Never Let Go, Trial and Error, The Pink Panther, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, A Shot in the Dark and What's New Pussycat) has a vital role in the movie and I immediately recognized Lois Maxwell (Money Penny of the James Bond films) as the nurse and wondered, "Hey, how come my nurses are never that lovely?"

Iconic film cover shot.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Director Week: Stanley Kubrick- The Killing

Good day and welcome to Day 1 of Director Week: Stanley Kubrick. I wanted to tap into some of his earliest works and this little film noir came my way. Our Director Stanley Kubrick (Paths of Glory, Spartacus, Lolita, Dr. Strangelove and 2001: A Space Odyssey) helmed our movie as it was his third full-length feature film about a robbery gone wrong. So let’s hold out in the flop house, clean and prep the Roscoes and try to keep a cool head. This is The Killing.

GIN!!   Dammit, we are playing Poker!!

Our movie’s leading role ain’t one of the good guys but a career criminal that is planning one last score before he and the missus settle down for the house with the white picket fence. Tough guy Johnny Clay (Sterling Hayden of Flaming Feather, Hellgate, The Golden Hawk, The Star, So Big, Dr. Strangelove and 1900) is as vicious as they come but with a heart of gold. His doll baby Fay (Coleen Gray of Kiss of Death, Red River, Kansas City Confidential and Cry from the Mountain) is a gal with great stems and a can do attitude and Johnny would move the heavens just to give her a better view.

With a few choice teammates he assembled Johnny plans to rob a little over two million dollars from a racetrack during a high stakes race. With using a betting teller George Peatty (Elisha Cook Jr. of The Big Sleep, The Maltese Falcon, House on Haunted Hill, Blacula and Salem’s Lot: The Movie) giving the access to the back room, a crackshot sniper who is cold as they come, Nikki Arcane (Timothy Carey of Rio Conchos, Beach Blanket Bingo, Gunsmoke, A Time for Killing, Head and What’s the Matter with Helen?) a corrupt cop Randy (Ted de Corsia of The Lady from Shanghai, The Naked City, 20000 Leagues Under the Sea and The Delta Factor), a wrestler Maurice (Pro Wrestler Kola Kwariani of The Killing) for crowd distraction. The deck is stacked and ready for game time.

Pour you a boob er um a glass??

One slight hitch is George blabs the plan to his annoyed wife Sherry (Marie Windsor of Force of Evil, The Narrow Margin, Swamp Diamonds, The Day Mars Invaded Earth, Bedtime Story and Salem’s Lot: The Movie) who schemes to get her gunsel boy toy Val Cannon (Vince Edwards of Ben Casey, The Victors, The Devil’s Brigade, The Return of Ben Casey and Son of Darkness: To Die For II) to rob the lot of them and do them in if they get out of line. The heist is set and everyone knows their part but George tells Johnny his wife knows everything and Johnny takes care of business with Sherry telling her to know her place and she and George are getting a big piece of the action as it is. Will the scheme go off without complications or will it blow up in their faces?

A handful of facts now. Our lead Sterling Hayden pocketed a cool 40 gees while Kubrick didn't get a dime. Jack Palance and Victor Mature were alsom considered for the part of Johnny Clay.

Kirk Douglas was so blown away by the film that he sought out Kubrick for Paths of Glory. Shot in 24 days, Kubrick was dissatisfied with the use of narrative in this fim because most of the information was either in error or just plain false. Day of Violence and and Bed of Fear were the working titles for this movie and frankly I think we can all agree that The Killing hits all the requirements for a title.

Mugsy the Clown goes on a shooting spree, slaying five!

Director Week: Stanley Kubrick

Howdy folks. Well I was going through my archives and believe me, combing through more than 1000 entries from my work at to writing RottenReelz, there is quite a few write-ups to contend with. One thing that did surprise me that I have not done a Stanley Kubrick Week. One of the most bizarre and abstract films with fish eye lens, to dolly work and wide pan zooms to the scale model works. Our director's humble beginnings starts with leaving the Bronx (No Tolberone??) and moving to Pasadena California where his grades did not pick up or improved. Our young genius is bored until introduced to chess. A game he excels at and gives him a parable to life, film and actors later in his life.

THIS IS SPARTA!!!!  Oh wait, that's not right!

Becoming a staff photographer for Look Magazine at age 17, he discovers his true love, documentaries, the ability to capture life brings him to make the film Fear and Desire. With the mixed reviews, Kubrick is not detoured from film and moves to making The Killing that gives Hollywood a view at his work and decrees he will direct Paths of Glory. With his own sense of style, motif and reasoning the films he chose to do would always hit certain censorship and taboos that made the world uncomfortable with his vision.

Many people including Stephen King did not care for the take that Kubrick had for The Shining. Nearly all of his movies have a narration at some point but unlike some directors (UWE BOLL, I AM TALKING TO YOU!!!) the narrative does not dominate the film. Every one of his movies have all been made from a novel and always have some sort of dark side of humanity and in fact dehumanizes the characters with humor, violence or verbal comments. So grab your bowler hats and prepare yourselves for the Ultra, Ultra Violence!!!

Pleas begin docking procedures... the HAL 9000 awaits to probe you.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Favourite Fours: City of Death

Felicitations Whovians and welcome to Day 4 of Favourite Fours. Journeying further ahead we meet up with The Doctor and second regeneration of Time Lady Romanadvoratreludar or Romana for short... which she dislikes. On a whim, Romana has regenerated into the likeness of Princess Astra of Atrios from the serial Destiny of the Daleks and they are well on their way back to Earth to experience a holiday in Paris. This is City of Death.

Mossman: The Last Starfighter.

400 million years B.C. A pilot Scaroth attempts to break orbit from the prehistoric planet Earth but fails thus killing everyone on board. 1979 A.D. The Doctor and Romana (Lalla Ward of Vampire Circus, The Upper Crusts, Matushka, The Duchess of Duke Street, Doctor Who and Riviera) are enjoying the sites of Paris and decide for a fine dining where the Doctor claims this bistro does a wonderful bouillabaisse. At the restaurant, the Doctor and Romana experience a time loop while a local artist captures Romana in a sketch. As they look over the sketch they see a clock face in the place of Romana's with a crack in it, as if it were a crack in time. Not assuming the lad had a bit of artistic license, the Doctor is worried about time folding in on itself.

Off to investigate but a slight detour is called for as the Doctor takes Romana to the Louvre in order to appreciate the Mona Lisa, a painting in the Doctor's opinion as unique in the universe. Romana does not seem impressed overall but another temporal hiccup occurs and 20 or so seconds repeats itself when the Doctor bumps into a lady, acquires her bracelet, then heads out.

Timelord and lady about Paris.

The Doctor and Romana are followed by a man in a trenchcoat with a gat in the hand. After a few more encounters with this idiot with a gun, Duggan (Tom Chadbon of Tess, Dance with a Stranger, Shooting Fish and Casino Royale) the three of them are whisked away to find why they are so interested in Countess Scarlioni's bracelet as it is an "antique" that happens to be not of this Earth. The Countess (Catherine Schell of Moon Zero Two, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Space: 1999 and The Return of the Pink Panther) is dissatisfied with the Doctor's answers but the lot of them are locked in the cellar for presumably further questioning. With the aid of the sonic screwdriver, the three proceed to further the investigation around the chateau discovering a scientist, Dr. Kerensky (David Graham of Supercar, Fireball XL5, Doctor Who, Stingray and Thunderbirds Are Go!) who is conducting temporal experiments for greater food production in order to end famine. When it is discovered all he is creating is a different space-time continuum he does not know what to make of his failure.

Temporal anamolies, gunsels adhering to a Count and Countess orders and a missing scientist in league. What can the Doctor do to correct these temporal hiccups? How is Count Scarlioni involved?

Some bits of trivia about this serial now. Oh you knew that was on its way.

Accomplished sci-fi/comedy novelist Douglas Adams penned this serial to pay the bills while working The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. This serial was watched by no less than 12.5 million for its original release. K9 was unable to operate due to difficulties and had to be completely absent this serial while filming in Paris. This is the first Doctor Who shot outside the UK throughout various spots of Paris. There was supposed to be a pull back shot of the Doctor and Romana on the Eiffel Tower alone when the special fish eye lens they rented from a Spanish firm would not and could not be made to fit the BBC camera.   

Really sir, why do you choose to be without a comforting beard?