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A RANDOM BLOODY BAGFUL OF ARCHIVE REVIEWS

year: 1969 rating: *1/2
THE MIGHTY GORGA: A man trying to save his fledgling zoo joins a woman whose father has been lost in the jungle on search of a giant ape named Gorga...

A waste of time for those who love the so-bad-it's-good genre. This one isn't good at all, save for the appearance of the plastic T-REX who'd later turn up as the main villain in the much better  schlocky companion film, ONE MILLION AC/DC, penned by Ed Wood and part of a double feature DVD with THE MIGHTY GORGA, who is basically a man in an ape suit, filmed so close-up it's difficult to "enjoy" the cheesiness of the not-so-special effects, while the acting is quite dull even though the otherwise talented and established actors, including exploitation favorite Gary Kent and noir staple/Lawrence Tierney brother, Scott Brady, aren't bad... just bored silly, like the audience.

1957 ***
A FACE IN THE CROWD: First half has charm and a nice story arc of a guitar-slinging slick-talking bum turned radio personality then TV host i.e. the man of the people aka "Lonesome Rhodes", played with sublime gusto by Andy Griffith...

Patricia Neal, as a radio show producer, pulls the strings, falls in love, and eventually Rhodes glides into womanizing and worse yet, backing a politician. This occurs during the second half as the characters, and the story, declines into an overly-obvious over-the-top message: not that too much fame will ruin a normal man, but that politics, when mixed with television, doesn't work and can be America's downfall.

Rhode's climb to the top, from rags to riches, is a treat; but once he arrives, the movie, like the main character, loses focus and never quite regains.

1955 rating: ****
TARANTULA: The most brilliant thing director Jack Arnold did to make this movie timeless, and just as creepy and terrific today as it was all those years ago, is to mostly show the titular creature... a giant tarantula created by a "mad" scientist... at dusk or night. Then as the story builds, and we're used to the creature in shadowy form, it seems more real in the daylight...

The main-frame storyline, of a young doctor and a beautiful lab assistant trying to figure out who's eating cattle and why folks are vanishing, works in perfect unison with the monster that, like in all great creature-features, is used only sparingly. And keep an eye out for a young Clint Eastwood as a jet fighter pilot in the very end; although his face is mostly covered with a mask, that's the man (and be sure to CLICK HERE for a more in-depth review of TARANTULA, which was written as a double-feature retrospective on producer William Alland and star John Agar, also including THE MOLE PEOPLE).

year: 1947 rating: ***
NIGHTMARE ALLEY: Film Noir flicks usually teach us tempted sinners how crime doesn't pay, and now we learn, either does reading minds...

The best scenes occur at a carnival as barker Tyrone Power learns a "code" from Joan Blondell that she performs with hubby Ian Keith, a once great mentalist turned rummy, who owns one scene where, coming out of a boozy haze, he wields a con on Power involving a "stock" childhood memory. But after Tyrone and gorgeous carnival performer turned wife, Collen Gray, move their high-paying act to a nightclub, and a ridiculous plot involving a millionaire's dead daughter unfolds, things go downhill slowly... They should have stayed put at the carnival.

year: 1965 rating: ***1/2
ONE SHOCKING MOMENT: In one aspect this movie is way ahead of its time. When it came out, showing full frontal nudity, implied lesbianism, and dominatrix was groundbreaking.

But for a sixties-era "Nudie Cutie", or better yet, "Porn Without Penetration", ONE SHOCKING MOMENT is quite tame, and unlike many of those films – in which a lean plot involves getting a man and woman together in a room – there is a story which, once underway, is quite intoxicating when a married couple who aren't that innocent to begin with, including apish hubby Gary Kent (under the pseudonym Philip Brady) flirts with every woman alive (going a step further with the office bimbo) and deadpan/dingbat wifey Lee Anna, dressed up like a floozy... both find themselves entwined in sexual taboo after frequenting a nightclub owned by an assertive lesbian, played by scene-stealer Verne Martine, who has her sights on the wife and eventually teaches the cheating Kent something about submission.

Beautiful black and white cinematography by Lazlo Kovacks, a tempestuous hipster-inspired soundtrack, and more than one shock makes this a real treat: and then some.

year: 2009 rating: **
TETRO: Francis Ford Coppola returns to film school, and is a "triple threat" as writer, producer and director for this independent black and white study of two brothers: one a brooding so-called genius, Vincent Gallo as Tetro...

The other, Alden Edrenreich as Bennie, a youthful dud who, staying with brother and his girlfriend, yearns to complete Tetro's play-in-progress, scrawled in notebooks and only meant as cathartic exercise for the author.

The location, Buenos Aries, is beautiful, as is the cinematography. But the characters are all one-sided, especially Tetro's famous composer father, shown in colorized flashbacks: so abundantly evil he should have a thin little mustache and a few sticks of dynamite.

Indie icon Vincent Gallo convincingly looks, and acts, the part of a reluctant-to-gain-fame dark-horse artist, but Edrenriech lacks the blunt determination that, for instance, Matt Dillon (originally cast as Tetro) wielded as the little-bro-under-big-bro's-shadow in Coppola's RUMBLE FISH, which this is a ponderous replica of.

year: 1969 rating: **
RUN ANGEL RUN: The opening credit sequence (making up for backstory) shows the cover of a fictional LIFE-esque "LIKE MAGAZINE" adorned with the face of William Smith's character, Angel: he's been interviewed and told-all about his biker gang.

So the film starts with his former-fellow marauders chasing he and his girl down the highway and onto a moving train (the best filmed sequence, using split-screen nicely). After finding solace at a rural farm, Mr. and Mrs. Smith learn to be "normal", which doesn't go without tons of arguments and forgiveness. This is the down-time of biker films, and has a "message" about the biker lifestyle selling out, perhaps because of the year-before blockbuster EASY RIDER: which this film borrows from in its flash-cut editing.

Smith's acting is good, as usual, but he seems to be doing a Marlon Brando/Stanley Kowalski imitation: his performance exceeding the material. And Jack Starrett, whose classic leathery voice is used for an aged gas station attendant, has directed much better.

year: 1985 rating: **
GOONIES: For a big budget Steven Speilberg production the initial setup frugally takes place within one house, getting to know each kid's quirks and then, in the same house but upstairs, the ragged clan way-too-easily find a treasure map and the adventure begins: with a bicycle ride occurring in the course of a Cyndi Lauper song as THE GOONIES find another house where they spend the rest of the film: only underground where there are several mazy levels.

Tons of bickering chatter, gratuitous product placement, hijinks-action and toilet humor make this flick, which could be retitled THE GARBAGE PAIL KIDS AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM, more suited for teens than children, as three villainous yet goofy thugs provide filler as they thwart the quest: which, despite the grandiose musical score, is really just a lot of banal running around. And yet the main problem isn't the plot... treasure hunts are always intriguing... but the Goonies themselves: it's never really clear why they're outcasts – or from what exactly.
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