Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Obscure Superhero Week: Condorman

Hey folks, welcome back to Obscure Superheroes Week and I have to be honest, this next title kind of left me perplexed to why I am watching it. Now you know me and I have been up to my waist in some extremely dull, boring or otherwise stupid films ranging from all genre so you can imagine when I saw this title at the request of Rotten Ramblin' On co-host Shawn, I was baffled to why I "need to see it." Then I noticed the author/ Sci-fi novelist that wrote it and it changed my opinion. Robert Sheckley (Escape from Hell Island, The 7h Victim, The Millions Game, Immortality Inc and Mindswap) became films of Escape from Hell Island, The 10th Victim, Das Millionspiel, Freejack and Mindswap. With a dark sense of views of the 1950s to a ominous take on the future, Sheckely's books have always entertained me. So let's give this a go. This is Condorman.

William Katt, eat yer heart out!

Straight from Buena Vista distribution (Walt Disney Pictures) opens with a cartoon character rotoscoped (animation technique tracing over footage frame by frame creating action as realistic as possible) into a live-action film surveying Rome. A orchestral intro and chorus singing Condorman and having Goofy sound effects added. Oh yes, this will be dignity and grace.  Possibly a comedy/action hybrid. Woody Wilkins (Michael Crawford of Two Left Feet, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, The Jokers, How I Won the War, Hello, Dolly! And Once Upon a Forest) works as Condorman's writer and comic book artist thriving to be his own creation attempts to make a flying suit plummets off the Eiffel Tower and into the River Seine while between issues. Cause a writer/penciler has all the free time in the world...with the knocking out 45 pages then penciling each frame,caption and blocking each scene. Yeah I know a bit about the comic art aspect and frankly you would only give cover art from me if I went into the biz.

The Femme Fatale...rowr.

His buddy Harry (James Hampton of F-Troop, The China Syndrome, The Cat from Outer Space, Hangar 18, Teen Wolf, Teen Wolf Too, Sling Blade and Fire from Below) photographer, file clerk for the CIA and best buddy tries to talk Woody off his creative ledge on maybe not do everything your character would do for real...because it is inherently dangerous, stupid and likely to get him killed but Woody is eccentric (ready for the wacko basket) and sees the world in relation to films, TV and comics. You know, passionate nerd. Harry gets an assignment from his boss Russ Devlin (Dana Elcar of Dark Shadows, Guiding Light, Fireball Forward, The Bravos, Ironside, The Sting, 2010: The Year We Make Contact and MacGyver) who needs a civilian courier to exchange documents with a Russian asset at the height of the Cold War and return. Yup, so naturally give it to the goofball comic artist. Good call. Right up there with giving a bulldog a live frag grenade to chew on.


Woody is nervous but excited as he gets jumped by agents but manages to beat them off (Sixties term for knock down, you pervs. You disgust me.) and impresses the lovely, curvaceous Natalia (Barbara Carrera of The Island of Dr. Moreau, Centennial, I, the Jury, Lone Wolf McQuade, Never Say Never Again, Dallas, Point of Impact, Night of the Archer and Love Is All There Is) who plans to defect with the help of Woody, she must return to her KGB handler Krokov (Sir Olilver Reed of Dirty Weekend, The Three Musketeers, Ten Little Indians, The New Spartans, Lion of the Desert, Castaway and Gladiator) a shouty, scene chewing, bear of a man wanting to know more of this Condorman, does he work with the CIA and what his overall objectives are. Possibly his name, quest and favorite color. Woody is conned into moving with Natalia's defection and as "Condorman" Woody makes the CIA crack open their piggy bank for a suit, offensive weapons, maybe a couple of vehicles... hell might as well have a lair too.  Hmm the Aviary? The Roost??  Will Woody Wax...philosophically??? Will Natalia Defect??? Will Oliver Reed play the hell out of his role??

It's campy, slapstick and wholesome, all the while having car chases, gunfights, boat chases and some decent choreographed fights. Purest in true 1980s comedy down to prat falls, observational gags and a nutty guy doing well with the girl in a PG film and knocking off at a hour and 30 minutes, you have to hail a lot of these stunts and practical effects. Shot in Monaco, Paris and Switzerland, this is where the Disney money comes into play and didn't take the course of two years *cough Speilberg and composer Henry Mancini (Peter Gunn, Breakfast at Tiffany's, The Pink Panther, Hatari!, Remington Steele and Newhart) taking out all the stops, this flick is another post Richard Donner Superman feel giving it fun for all ages. I may actually have to thank Shawn for this recommendation...maybe.