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Monday, April 25, 2022

Film Noir #6


 Noir: Backfire, Basic Instinct, and The Beat Generation



BACKFIRE (1950) --- A moment in a most ordinary film noir can make the look-in worthwhile, like where a taxi pulls up to actual locale that was the Fremont Hotel in long gone section of L.A. called Bunker Hill. Its run-down remnant dressed a score of noirs through the 40’s and 50’s, a few even unto the 60’s, nary a trace left now, except on surviving film. Backfire was remnant too, of Warner Bros. coming off a studio era where money got expended on even weak pictures like this, director Vincent Sherman implored to make it even though the script was lifeless, “Do it for the team” an argument too often made. How enervating to take jobs you and “the team” know will turn out poor. “Confused and pointless,” said Sherman of Backfire, the director’s bargain with brass giving him The Hasty Heart next if he but held nose to finish Backfire.



Knowing this, why do I sit and watch Backfire today, let alone enjoy it? First is atmosphere 1950 took for granted, like Bunker Hill and other actuals that were photographed. There is story of sorts, confused yes, spread like chicken litter over what seems longer than 91 minutes. Gordon MacRae normally sang, not here. He showed up in the eighties to perform at our little community college. How might he have reacted if I went backstage to ask about Backfire? The “surprise” heavy is plain from the moment we meet him, as why would Dane Clark be in an otherwise puny part? Backfire was not of the Warner B unit, even as it skirts an edge of same. Where narrative is weak enough, at least give a happy finish so we won’t regret coming. Backfire has that in unlikely spades. One critic of the day said seeing it was like a visit to an old friend that is pleasant even though you know he will tell the same stories you’ve heard so often before. Did Backfire please for being so utterly routine? Being of “noir” category won’t excuse everything. Another coaster, I fear. How long before tabletop space runs out?



BASIC INSTINCT (1992) --- Much better than it seemed when new in 1992, and I wondered why. Maybe because shock value, like all shock value, must dissipate, especially where imitated or driven into clown corner because now we’re embarrassed for having once been shocked or impressed by it. Basic Instinct was of a piece with other detective yarns before and (especially) after. As to being noir, fair enough, even as “erotic thriller” was a label affixed at the time, acknowledged then as fresh, and invitation for others to emulate until parodies became greater in number than thrillers erotic or not. Basic Instinct had the advantage of lush production, a moody score, nods back to noir but stylish to point of abstraction, joy in which does not fade with passage of time. There is Frisco setting, welcome as it had not been since Bullitt and Vertigo, a reliable noir background from Dark Passage and The Maltese Falcon onward. Basic Instinct makes the now blighted city look inviting again, perhaps a last time it would be so for movies. Director Paul Verhoeven gave, still gives, unique energy to whatever he turns hand to. If “erotic thriller” was indeed a fresh invention, then it was his invention, plus writer, camera assist he got. Let the yarn confuse for it is always engaging to look at.



Central image of the icepick dominates … ill-advised sex leads inevitably to its application. The instrument even lies still beneath beds these characters occupy, a visual cue that they are doomed for having coupled. Movies punish for promiscuity as they always have. Basic Instinct makes sex easy for the getting, but waiters always bring the check, and Verhoeven’s are high. Explicit talk pushed envelopes for probably a last time here. Nothing much would surprise us after this. Intensity amuses now in a weren’t the nineties silly way, OK if look-back on the era is fond (surely for some it is), with quarters dropped in pay phones or analogish computers giving nostalgic glow. Casting gets unexpected hypo, funny man “Newman” (not meant to be) an interrogator for Sharon Stone’s R-earning Q&A, the moment that sold most tickets in 1992. The story by hot-then writer Joe Eszterhas has more twists than a barrel of snakes. A third less of these would make keeping up easier. I wondered at the time who the killer really was. I sort of still do. Basic Instinct has dynamism and hypnotic quality to wear well for those who know how 90’s games were played and still are amused by them. I see where Sharon Stone did a Basic Instinct 2 in 2006, which must have been agony for her and whoever watched. Seeing Stone in the trailer reminded me of Mae West. Fickle modern stardom, fleet then, the more so in a streaming now.



THE BEAT GENERATION (1959) --- Best of the Zugsmiths, which I declare not with cocked eyebrow, being surprised by how straight it plays, except when it wasn’t (beatnik stuff). Beats get a hammering, cast from Steve Cochran to heavy Ray Danton calling them phony and “pseudo-intellectual,” sort of a preview of how mainstreamers came to disdain hippies, except the hippies were more useful to a mainstream, at least where consumerism co-opted them, or pop music celebrated their otherness. The Beat Generation used a barely understood 50’s movement for what exploitation might be got, the Beats less about sex or attendant action than poseur poetry to slow violence the show was sold on. Beats made soft Establishment targets, Maynard G. Krebbs to exemplify them weekly on the Dobie Gillis show. For Zugsmith, they were mere branch to hang merchandising upon. He had an eye for casting, a barometer it seemed for how cult taste would run twenty and more years later.




Best of Beats is Vampira making with words pointless and sans rhyme, but her with a phone directory is OK in fan quarters. Vampira nee Nurmi was a sub-culture all her own. Steve Cochran gives a complex and fully committed performance, and I mean it, his character put through wringers both work and home-hearth generated (they merge when wife Fay Spain is victimized by sadist Danton). Spain is also fine. Players not appreciated enough could rise to occasion where material merited their fullest participation, and we can regret they didn’t get further and better opportunity to show wares. The Beat Generation was co-written by Richard Matheson, who was no one’s idea of hack. This was clearly a piece he put his heart to, however it was tempered by exploit elements and salacious selling. Irish McCalla is Jackie Coogan’s devoted domestic partner (insert exclamation here). She’s good too. So is Mamie Van Doren as a mark for faux rapist Jim Mitchum, a tool for devilish Danton except Jim falls for Mamie and can’t go through with it. Van Doren was limited by her lush looks, but I never saw her bad in a performance.



Did these players get together at Beat Generation’s start and pledge to let’s give it our best, as if this were a real movie that we might earn statuettes for. Pity they weren’t so rewarded, especially Steve. I speak as a fan of course. And who invited Charles Chaplin Jr. (as “Lover Boy”)? Impression is these people were to some extent hangers-on or pals with Zugsmith. If so, he sure picked abstract company. Norm Grabowski (annoying), Maxie Rosenbloom (more so), poor and played out Paul Cavanagh, who I dearly love. Then William Schallert with an uncredited bit that would never, ever pass under today’s Code. Add these imperishables to a story tense as taut wire. Was Ray Danton at least part-way as evil as characters he portrayed, or maybe being beset with an evil face made him do evil things, like Karloff’s “Bateman” in The Raven. My secret is out then … I adore The Beat Generation and am thrilled there is a Blu-Ray to splay across wide screens.





Monday, April 18, 2022

Walking The Fifties Plank

 


Have I Become a Snowflake?


As vines increasingly bear tender grapes, it becomes challenge the more to engage drama as wrought in stressed decade that was the fifties, a period I saw rear-view from television of the sixties, much of it intense as to duck since. Show of hands please for those who have watched Come Back Little Sheba over a past ten years. Not me … from 12/31/68 when NBC premiered it, but ho, I ventured again for this inquiry, and what a difference time and perspective made. More of Sheba anon as other demons were confronted during resolve to revisit a brace of what’s been avoided for fifty going on sixty years. How much easier it is to coast on sci-fi, westerns, comfort stuff. But even within these categories lies anathema. Seven Men From Now I can take for weekly nourishment while High Noon is faint of castor oil, parts great apart from points I yet fail to altogether grasp. What exactly is High Noon saying to us? Toe-dip into earnest fifties pool is in ways like re-approaching people I didn’t much like in school. Vincente Minnelli, a trusted favorite, embarked me upon the river Styx, first stop Lust for Life, about a sad, mad artist who cut off his ear and then killed himself. I like Van Gogh, am fascinated by him, but these two hours are a haul. To watch Lust for Life is akin to staying aboard a stationary bicycle for as long. We are ennobled for having gone the course. How did Metro expect Lust for Life to do anything other than lose money? ($1.9 million in red column) Was 1956, year of The Mole People, a right time to tell Van Gogh’s story? I respect Lust for Life, I admire Lust for Life, but chances are, what with less years ahead than behind, I will not return to it.



Minnelli again for Some Came Running (1958), even heavier hoist (137 minutes), too much spent on Shirley MacLaine, who I had not realized could get on my nerves so. Folks today look at movies like this and imagine life in small towns was hot-wired on hypocrisy and nothing else, the fifties repressed as if we are not. Frank and especially Dean are the only plain-speakers among ensemble of liars and dissemblers. Drama during the fifties was too often a stacked deck, hard to digest now let alone take serious. To laugh is to be better off, or note “irony” via Douglas Sirk. Did he have faintest idea how his work would play for viewership to come? There is Sirk to enjoy, and Sirk I shun, All That Heaven Allows in first category, Written on the Wind of second, Heaven a lovely postcard, scarves and muffs, woodsmen with ax, deer in the snow, Technicolor lush as ever was photographed. Conflicts are manageable, no guns or beatings, insults at the Country Club, Gloria Talbott being mean to mother the only harsh hands dealt. Has Rock Hudson been properly credited for Most Soothing Presence in fifties drama? I get no reflux from my popcorn watching him.



Hudson is again a stabilizing influence for Written On The Wind, though here melodrama begins at boil point (a shooting), then flashes back to characters and cause that we know will break bad and stay so for the feature’s length. Where Heaven relaxes, Wind agitates. Meanness is rife and Stack-as-slap-inclined drunk disinclines me to repeat viewing. Drama is meant to be dramatic, ideally seen once. Those sensible take their single dose and let it be. Dread comes of overexposure. I choose All That Heaven Allows or There’s Always Tomorrow at ratio of four watches to one of Written On The Wind, a personal barometer to take nothing away from Criterion-worthy Wind, but recognition that all of us have triggers and they for most part differ. A moment to bother me may pass others without incident. The Damned Don’t Cry (1950) I enjoy a lot but for an early scene where J. Crawford argues with husband Richard Egan over buying their kid a bike, which latter rides and is promptly run over by a car. Once was my enough, forewarned as forearmed, fast forward my friend for future use. Later era Frenzy (1972) with its strangling of Barbara Leigh-Hunt was made for my remote to skip, odd because Frenzy works otherwise at black-humor, funniest of Hitchcocks for me so long as that scene stays out.



Following are what I stayed up late to see on syndicated TV and never will again: The Strange One, A Hatful of Rain, and Blackboard Jungle, a period where I gave up Shock Theatre for movies more “grown-up,” fitful sleep to follow. What did I know or want to know from heroin addicts, cruel cadets, and crueler Vic Morrow busting up a hapless teacher’s swing platters? I began thinking movies without cyclops were better left alone. If this was what adults preferred, let them have it. Things might have been worse, like growing up on live television drama during the fifties where New York actors yelled at each other across kitchen tables. Having seen samples at You Tube, they play fine as curiosities, Method spiders in a bottle I need not take to heart. Routine for me were fifties features on television, older titles having been banished by VHF channels in their sixties quest for more color. Next day would be the Liberty to what was new, mostly fifties style upended by sixties change. Blackboard Jungle melted into To Sir, With Love (1967), title of which assured us it would not hit so hard. But then came Virginia Woolf and cussing a blue streak. We laughed at Brian Keith’s foul mouth in Jerry Lewis-turned-raunchy Way, Way Out (1966). Good pictures during such epoch seemed one in three dozens.



Actors after the war sought range rather than persona stardom, thus Burt Lancaster pleasing a paid-seat day in The Professionals (1966), then startling on TV as drab or drunk for Come Back, Little Sheba (1952
). I could not trust contemporary favorites to stay a preferred course. Sheba seemed an affront to what Lancaster did best, for instance Vera Cruz (1954) of an earlier afternoon broadcast. Sheba was among hills to climb for purpose of this post --- would I shrink before its onslaught? Barriers that had stood so long had to be overcome --- Shirley Booth, Burt berserk on the bottle for a harrowing third act, and Shirley Booth. She won an Academy Award for this, Lancaster saying years later that Booth was the finest performing talent he ever worked with. We should not confuse any actress with a character they play who talks too much and annoys us, again the obstacle I call “Shirley MacLaine” for elements that make me avoid a movie for life. Refreshing to be proved wrong, in fact revel in it where something worthwhile has been too long misremembered or unappreciated, as was case with Come Back, Little Sheba. Here was story still engaging however “dated” it might seem for some, actors sincere and committed to difficult parts, Terry Moore outstanding where I had not recalled or expected that (she still acts, maintains a fan site and appears at shows, age ninety-three). Sheba's alcoholism theme rings accurate as to my conception of the problem, taking it serious as did another 1952 Paramount release, Something To Live For. Nostalgia for the ’68 TV watch was sentimental overlay to remind me how Come Back, Little Sheba was early instance of mature drama I sat through start to finish. Plenty reward was had for giving it this belated second chance, so question is, which and how many others should be also re-tried?



James Dean was during his brief stardom a vessel for drama played full out. His early death put exclamation mark to unease and conflict part/parcel of East of Eden and Rebel Without a Cause, the pair a foundation for an extraordinary death cult to grow around Dean and sustain a couple years after his 9/30/55 passing. Morbid appetite for Dean as victim and martyr could be sated by combo offer of Eden and Rebel which played from 1956 through much of 1957. Dean was viewed as a teenager misunderstood and dying for it. He’d have much to do with a vogue in pop songs revolved around untimely depart. Autopsy tables were cleared by Eden/Rebel being split up and handed off to syndicated television in 1960 (initial broadcasts in 1961), not seen decently for many years to come. I doubt youth today is much moved by James Dean, not as they were in 1956-57 when Eden/Rebel played as sparks for all-consuming emotion. This was of-the-moment charge that changing times would not abide, let alone seek to recapture. I’d like to have been around to experience impact Dean homages had, observe fans who camped longest at the shrine. Could there be mourners still, like those for Elvis since 1977?



Modern south gothica sank or swam on preparedness to amuse alongside arguing, thus Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor missing my boat with Cat On A Hot Tin Roof (1958) because of situations strident and her too shrill, while Newman at least had funny lines by Irving Ravetch and Harriet Frank, Jr. to make The Long, Hot Summer (also 1958) tolerable. Summer was pleasure too for Method … Newman, Joanne Woodward, Anthony Franciosa … meets mocking, as in Orson Welles as Southern like no Southerner ever was. Dedicated-enough emoting by Actor’s Studio firebrands make old Vitagraph players look like models of restraint, Summer cast fonts of fun where taken in light spirit. Much in the fifties depend upon weight of sledgehammer that writers wield. Even musicals can be merciless where heated passions are exposed. Could Judy Garland hope to have another Good Old Summertime after ordeal that was A Star Is Born? Here might be another of plentiful reasons there was not follow-up for her along that genre line. Noir too, grim as it could already be, took me to unbearable place that was Phenix City (its Story dated 1955), among few I sternly swore not to see again, and so did not risk mental health by getting it out this week. Farthest along troubling path I’d take was A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), lashing delayed till last, penitent me satisfied that if I could endure this, then so could any fifties drama be borne (Streetcar not watched since … when?).

Sample of What Kept Me at Viewing Bay For So Long


Being tense ride aboard this Streetcar, I even shut eyes when Blanche (Vivien Leigh) turned  the radio back on after Stanley (Marlon Brando) warned her not to. Also when he cleared the table, though relief was had for his not upsetting the cake, as wouldn’t that have been too messy for trial this already was? It is written that Blanche exacerbated Vivien Leigh’s already fragile mental state, an effect similar upon mine. Is even an Academy Award salve for sanity lost? Leigh is good, too good for comfort. Understand Olivia DeHavilland was offered Blanche and said no (Warners-Feldman wanted a star rather than Broadway’s Jessica Tandy). Difference was DeHavilland could play nuts (The Snake Pit) and walk away, whereas Leigh could not. There were other Stanleys on stage, but I don’t know how any could have scored like Brando, as he was not only something new, but had youth and “movie star” written all over him. Had Brando backed off “range” insistence, he might have been undisputed biggest of postwar finds, but to follow Streetcar with Viva Zapata (lost money), Julius Caesar (novelty interest mainly), The Wild One (Columbia cheapie, not helpful), and heaven spare audiences, Desiree. A memorable persona star may well have firmed up if such creation had been fifties possible, On The Waterfront the only ideal casting Brando had in that decade, at least to my reckoning.



Elia Kazan was a great director of films who knew how to open them up for transfer from stage. A Streetcar Named Desire wore me out, but as others still revere it, I must take my weakness into account. Stanley is a jitter-inducing presence, while Blanche tips off being unbalanced early on and ratchets up from there (was this the character or Vivien Leigh?). Streetcar was my Eagle Scout award for fifties odyssey, like sleeping out in woods filled with bears. It is too harrowing to view with tongue-to-cheek or distanced irony, as these characters do demand undivided attention. Those in know tell me Streetcar was and remains the Greatest of All American Plays, which suggests community groups still put it on. The movie had footage and some soundtrack put back that was censored in 1951. A collector supplied it to enhance what we see today. Charles K. Feldman produced and had ownership of the negative. That would make a fascinating story, as Feldman drove his Streetcar first through WB to distribute (1951), then Fox for a reissue (1958), and later (1970) United Artists for another reissue. He then and finally let CBS have Streetcar for television. I’m proud for getting through the gauntlet (via Amazon HD Prime), though maybe I’m cracked as Blanche for sitting alone in the dark room waving off traumatic scenes, Enough, Enough! directed to actors who could not hear me.





Monday, April 11, 2022

Film Noir #5


 Noir: Apology for Murder, The Asphalt Jungle, and Baby Driver


Call them baby face noir if you prefer, but don’t exclude current ones because leads look like kindergartners, for days of rugged, damaged dwellers on screen are over till time again comes when youth is weaned on alcohol, cigarettes, and some or other desperation. Asphalt aggregation as shown above could scarcely be duplicated now, however baroque crime is played by actors trying too hard to be tough as forebears. Not to mock or disparage Baby Driver (2017), noir placement proof that at least for me it qualifies. As we are fresh out of Sterling Haydens, then the Ansel Elgorts must do, and as viewers know Elgort far better than Hayden, and identify with him more in the bargain, then what am I to argue for the old when the new is what we must embrace lest noir disappear altogether down memory holes. Best to thump for both, especially where an Asphalt Jungle sustains so well as I believe it does (has anyone tested AJ for a young audience?). Let’s celebrate too such cheapies as Apology for Murder being readily seen at You Tube, broken pottery had for free while Blu-Ray-cleaner Asphalt earns still for Warners and Criterion. Never has it been so easy to see noir, especially with M.I.A. ones surfacing regular at dependable outlets (The Turning Point for instance at TCM).



APOLOGY FOR MURDER (1945) --- For ones who’d call Fred MacMurray and Hugh Beaumont cards from a same deck, there is PRC’s Apology for Murder, where Hugh dials Fred’s number in Double Indemnity. Did Paramount figure it not worth an effort to spank a pilfering PRC? We could speculate on how many saw Apology for Murder in 1945, or at any other time. Wish someone had asked Billy Wilder in his old age --- bet he never even heard of it. Bumps off Indemnity are copied, so many to suspect PRC was deliberately poking big gorilla that was Paramount legal. Apology for Murder was Indemnity again with all of distinction bled out and barest skeleton remaining. Ann Savage is the temptress … she wants Hugh to off an annoying husband. He resists but briefly as after all there is but 64 minutes to unfold. Both players register fine. Doing cheap pictures does not make you a cheap actor. Beaumont has for me more conviction than many that worked in richer preserves. Was he blocked by his low-key sincerity? And so what if they stole from Double Indemnity --- isn’t there room for two of anything that turns out so good? Apology for Murder is scored throughout, has tempo of a sort, a violent payoff, a (very) same bittersweet finish. Beaumont invites sympathy for being always one of us, him ideal for television’s weekly visiting. Title music sounded vaguely Devil Bat-ish, which put me in a right mood for more. Laugh at PRC if you like but know that they could deliver where an hour is the slot to fill, and you don’t want to fill it with elevated or expensive studio stuff. Small theatres could run Apology for Murder as a single and stand proud. Looks a bit cloudy at You Tube, part/parcel of any PRC I suppose.

Other noirs from Greenbriar past: Allotment Wives (1945), Appointment With Danger (1951), and Armored Car Robbery (1950).




THE ASPHALT JUNGLE (1950) --- Don’t let anyone tell you this is overrated or not so good as it is cracked up to be (“too studied” said one revisionist). The Asphalt Jungle has all elements we want a failed heist story to tell, a closest to paperback writ in blood as it was possible for MGM to give. Director John Huston surely read pulps and soft covers he could carry in uniform pockets during the war, knew too that this was where a post-fight public’s appetite would run. The Asphalt Jungle is rugged with vernacular, “the way crooks talk,” or as source writer W.R. Burnett imagined. Huston to his credit hued close to the book. Louis Mayer said he wouldn’t walk across a street to watch anything like The Asphalt Jungle. Maybe this helped LB divine handwriting on studio walls. How far did he foresee trap doors poised to open beneath him?



The Asphalt Jungle
is noteworthy as a hit John Huston started, saw through, finished to his and others’ satisfaction. Why couldn’t he finesse as much for The Red Badge of Courage? I am nagged by notion he simply ran from that battle (like Audie Murphy’s soldier) to start The African Queen and let others cope with scraps left of Red Badge. Huston and Orson Welles surely bonded over similar experience along these lines. Of films where we sympathize with criminals, The Asphalt Jungle stands tall. I frankly want them all to get off clean, S. Hayden certainly, but even more so tower of malign intellect that is Sam Jaffe. Devil’s whisper of the best gang pics lulls us all to hope none of miscreants will be caught, in fact will hock stole jewels and retire to Mexican paradise Jaffe lovingly describes. Try not shedding a tear when mortal-shot Hayden makes it finally to lost Eden that was boyhood farm in Kentucky, only to die under end titles as horses nuzzle him. A lovely moment, and how could you not wish things had worked out for the luckless “hooligan.”



Law and order gets the nod via straight arrow John McIntire, who gives a now-more-than-ever chilling speech as to what would happen if police stood down, or lights at station houses went out, an instance of what-if becoming yes-it-has in deteriorating days since 1950. Marilyn Monroe was there to assure success of reissues for The Asphalt Jungle, a small part she makes very big. Was Huston’s direction the click, or was it instinctive talent MM had from a start? This was not a woman who needed charlatan “coaches” like Paula Strasberg and Svengali-grifting Lee. These two should have been learning from her. Neat how fate deals cruel for tiniest missteps; a moment spent too long when you should be moving fast (like Jaffe at the jukebox). Was this Huston’s view of life in addition to Burnett’s? They say all after-coming crime thrillers copied The Asphalt Jungle, which I say is a right call (French director Jean-Pierre Melville acknowledged his debt). Few are so good however. Wish Huston had made more pulp-sort stuff, as he was gifted at it. Was it fact such films got too little respect that kept him largely away? I mean look at Mayer’s attitude, and he liked Huston otherwise, tried to help him professionally (Huston with brass enough to ask L.B. to bail him out of gambling debts).



The Asphalt Jungle
did earn profit, not a lot ($150K), OK still for a year otherwise not flush for Metro. Crime writers were criminally underestimated … always. Were they faulted for addressing unsavory truths and making us identify with thieves and killers? Come away from a well-enough written caper and you find yourself thinking like a member of the gang, at the least rooting for them if not wishing you had ingenuity enough to pull a job so bold for rewards so great. Nothing I suppose was such a threat to the status quo as an expertly contrived crime story, let alone a movie to so capture flavor of same. The Asphalt Jungle puts us close as any to crack of safes, effecting the getaway, and errant bullets dug out of flesh. People talked of how Little Caesar and Public Enemy inspired admiration, even imitation, of crime and criminals. I think late-40’s White Heat, and yes, The Asphalt Jungle, went such early ones better. Crime was not shown to pay, but look how often it barely missed doing so. Maybe Mayer was right to keep well on opposite side of streets. He knew siren songs when he heard them.



BABY DRIVER (2017) --- I was led to this by You Tube videos celebrating Edgar Wright’s comedy-thriller/thriller-comedy, and yes, I add noir just for sake of including it here. Baby Driver is at least sort of noir because danger throughout is real and the lead character is freighted as noir figures generally are, “Baby” the getaway man for thieves under direction of Kevin Spacey, whose offscreen troubles began upon heels of Baby Driver, a real-life noirish loser we see more of as celebrities fall or are cancelled like nine-pins. Baby Driver was hailed as, like, the coolest movie ever made as of 2017 (100% on Rotten Tomatoes), so has there been a cooler one since? Don’t know the boy who stars, but there is Jamie Foxx and Jon Hamm in sinister support, and they lend the danger lest fun becomes too much fun. Edgar Wright is a big talent. He writes as well as directs, having done a Brit zombie film and Hot Fuzz before this, both good. He also sits on august panel at Trailers From Hell, and I really enjoyed his commentary on Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors, numerous others. Anyone who appreciates Dr. Terror is bound to write/direct fine movies once given the chance. I must search out what else he has done.



In the meantime, Baby Driver packs the gear, delivers goods, all the rest critics say when a thing clicks. I read where it “earned $226 million globally,” impressive for something based on original ideas and not a sequel or comic book. Things are done with car chases I never dreamed possible. Is it CGI or for real? Tempo is sped in accordance of age we live in, but I wasn’t left behind, which too often happens with recent films. Liked the ending too, unexpected, as in there is still such a thing as paying debt to society minus irony or a switcheroo to go scot-free for what after all are a series of felony murders. See, I said this was serious business, with even a dash of civic responsibility. Saw on Amazon Prime in 4K where it felt like being aboard driver’s seat a whole pulse-stirring time. Note too Baby Driver is less than two hours and so spares us action fatigue, even if it takes extraordinary effort to finally dispose of Jon Hamm.


GREENBRIAR’s TIME TUNNEL --- From 4/22/2010 comes Mr. Robinson Crusoe, Doug Fairbanks’ south sea frolic revisited after twelve years with more text and nine images added to what was done then. This was result of recent-encountering Crusoe on You Tube and having part-forgot how odd and engaging this glorified Fairbanks home movie was. Bravo to Doug for nerve to foist this off as a feature movie we should pay to see in 1932. Aren’t Vloggers after all recording their lives each day (each hour) at You Tube? Forget island-set downers others made in the late 20-early 30’s and enjoy Doug wrestling them all to the ground. Turn me loose midst native exotica and maybe I could do the same, but never with his panache. Enjoyed my GPS rear-view enough to plan more down the line, so watch for footnotes like this, and meanwhile check out Mr. Robinson Crusoe again, or for a first time if you’re a more recent arrival to Greenbriar.

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