Songwriter (1984) – 117

Songwriter (1984)

Songwriter (1984)

All you sombitches do.

 

Welcome to today’s show, my name is John. As always you can subscribe to the show on iTunes or follow the links to social media in the podcast show notes. So please subscribe when you are finished listening. You can also go to snarkymoviereviews.com to read notes, bios, and other random movie thoughts.

Today’s movie is Songwriter (1984). This movie is romping stomping Texas sized comedy with a country music soundtrack that is hard to beat. It’s also funny as heck.

So, let’ jump right into the actors, with only two show veterans.

Actors

Returning

Melinda Dillon played Honey Carder, the loving ex-wife of Doc Jenkins (Willie Nelson). Dillion was covered in Episode 95 – A Christmas Story (1983).

Rip Torn was about the best I have ever seen him as Dino McLeish, a small-time promoter. Torn was covered in Episode 26 – Time Limit (1957).

New

Well, this guy, even though he’s got almost 50 credits, I’m not going to call him an actor. When he does have a role, he just plays himself or sings, or both. And boy can he sing because he is Willie Nelson playing Doc Jenkins who is pretty much Willie Nelson. Get this soundtrack if you can find it.

Kris Kristofferson played singer Blackie Buck. It is important to really stretch yourself in the roles you take. Kristofferson was born in Brownsville, Texas, the site of the 1st battle of the Mexican-American War and the last battle of the Civil War.

Kristofferson was a Golden Gloves boxer and attended college in California. He received a Rhodes scholarship and studied at Oxford University. He later joined the Army and rose to the rank of Captain, before turning down a teaching gig at West Point. He left the Army to write songs.

He got a job cleaning up in a recording studio and flying a commercial helicopter. At the studio, he gave some songs to Johnny Cash but nothing came of it. When Kristofferson landed a helicopter in Cash’s yard, his songs were taken more seriously. Cash recorded “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” written by Kristofferson and it was a big hit.

Kristofferson lost his job as a pilot for drinking and it ruined his marriage to singer Rita Coolidge. Kristofferson’s movie career began in with The Last Movie (1971) which has an interesting premise and Julie Adams. The first movie I remember him in is Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (1973) where he played Billy and Bob Dylan was in the movie as well as providing songs. He played a biker in Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974) but really got a lot of attention playing a singer on the way out because of booze, hard to believe, opposite the oddly cast Barbara Streisand in A Star Is Born (1976). He also quit drinking that year. That same year Kristofferson was in The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea (1976) which ask the filmmatic question – Can Kris Kristofferson act with his clothes on? Kristofferson played a trucker in the horrible Convoy (1978) based on the fun song of the same name. Heaven’s Gate (1980) virtually ruined his acting career but he made it back with comedies such as Songwriter (1984) and Big Top Pee-wee (1988). He played a mean SOB in Fire Down Below (1997) battling with Steven Seagal and another SOB in Payback (1999). He was terrible in the utterly horrible Planet of the Apes (2001) but did well in the Blade series 1998, 2002, and 2004. He was also in Dolphin Tale (2011) and Dolphin Tale 2 (2014).

Kristofferson is still working at 80 and making movies.

Songwriter (1984)

Songwriter (1984)

Lesley Ann Warren played the new singing star, Gilda. Warren was born in 1946 in New York City. She started training for stardom at an early age as a ballerina. Lesley studied at the New York’s Professional Children’s School and moved to the Actors Studio under Lee Strasberg by the time she was 17.

Warren started working in theater and was on Broadway by 1963. Her top theater reviews led to her being selected to play “Cinderella” 1965 in a made for television movie. She was amazing. I still remember when it came on. Warren was left with such a sweet image that she was signed by Disney and began playing the leads in movies like The Happiest Millionaire (1967) and The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band (1968).

Not really happy with this squeaky-clean image, Warren left Disney and for a time went by Lesley Warren. She replaced Barbara Bain on “Mission Impossible” 1970 for one year. Bain left the show just 2 episodes after her husband, Martin Landau left over a contract dispute.

Warren began working in mini-TV-movies which were all the rage at the time. She even starred in Portrait of a Stripper (1979) as her career appeared to be winding down. But when she played Norma Cassady in the musical Victor Victoria (1982) alongside James Garner, she was back in the cat bird seat. This led to a few odd roles such as Songwriter (1984) before she transitioned into a sexy older woman for films like A Night in Heaven (1983). She played Miss. Scarlet in the riotously funny Clue (1985). She also started working more in television.

This great actress is still working.

Richard C. Sarafian played the role of Rodeo Rocky. Sarafian was a part time actor but he seemed to be much better as a director. Sarafian was born in 1930 in New York City. He served in the military during the Korean Conflict. Following the war, Sarafian attended New York University.

Sarafian eventually moved to Kansas City where he was working as a reporter. He met Director Robert Altman who gave him a job and Sarafian also married Altman’s sister. I’m not sure of the sequence.

Sarafian’s film roles include Songwriter (1984), Bugsy (1991), and Bullworth (1998). Among his 62 directing credits are Man in the Wilderness (1971) which is an earlier version of The Revenant (2015) with John Huston and Richard Harris, Vanishing Point (1971) which is great counter-culture car movie that was the inspiration for Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof (2007), Lolly-Madonna XXX (1973), The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing (1973) great title, The Next Man (1976) with Sean Conery, The Bear (1984) about Bear Bryant, Roll Tide, Eye of the Tiger (1986) featured Gary Busy against a violent motorcycle gang, Street Justice (1987) same as previous, and Solar Crisis (1990) with an Alan Smithee. Sarafian died in 2013.

What is an Alan Smithee? An Alan Smithee was the best-kept secret in Hollywood for a while. When a film director cannot accept the film, they made, because of conflicts with actors or the producer, or any other reason, and they felt that they lost creative control, they could apply to the Directors Guild of America (DGA) and the film director credit would be given as Alan or Allen Smithee. This process started in 1968 and officially ended in 2000. The rules stated that the director would not talk about the circumstances that caused the problem.

Songwriter (1984)

Songwriter (1984)

The movie that got this all started was Death of a Gunfighter (1969) which starred Richard Widmark, whom I feel, was a pretty mean guy. Widmark got director Robert Totten removed and replaced with Don Siegel. Although each director spent a different number of days directing, the final cut had almost equal footage from both men. Siegel stated that it was really Widmark directing when each man was in charge. Neither man wanted to take credit for the film, and thus the Smithee was created by the DGA.

Other films that wear this crown include The Birds II: Land’s End (1994) The Shrimp on the Barbie (1990) Let’s Get Harry (1986) and Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983) for the Second Assistant Director.

Story

This movie begins with a younger Doc Jenkins (Willie Nelson), Blackie Buck (Kris Kristofferson), and Honey Carder (Melinda Dillon) signing behind chicken wire as beer bottles are thrown at the band. As the tour continues, Doc and Honey are married. Money for music comes into Doc’s hand for singing and out of his hand for some scheme like selling bull semen.

As it continues, Honey starts having children and leaves the band. The two guys go on singing. Doc keeps spending all of his money on schemes until the marriage breaks up. Doc gets married again and divorced again. Finally, Doc decides that someone is making money on the songwriting and he quits the road to be a mogul, leaving only Blackie on the road. Doc partners with Rodeo Rocky (Richard C. Sarafian).

Doc is looking for a female singer to produce. Doc is trying to record music but he is beset upon by one of his ex-wives for back support. But Doc gets the word that Rodeo Rocky really owns the company and he doesn’t really have any money. At Rodeo Rocky’s office, they tell Doc that he hasn’t been living up to his contract and that the money has been cutoff. All Doc has is the building and Blackie’s contract.

On Blackie’s tour bus, they find out that Dino McLeish (Rip Torn) has been selling tickets to Blackie Buck concerts without booking the band. They turn the bus around and head to Austin where Dino is selling fake tickets.

Dino goes to his house and his pretty young wife is there with a baby. Dino puts a pistol in his boot and his wife demands to be taken to the concert. She asks who the opening act will be.

Driving towards Austin is Gilda (Lesley Ann Warren) a nervous singer and her bandmate Arly (Mickey Raphael). Dino has to carry her onto the stage. When she starts singing she can wail. However, she is drinking like a fish. Dino announces that Blackie is not coming and encourages the fans to tear the place up. About this time, Blackie and his crew show up. Blackie hits Dino up for $5,000 for the show and then he sees how good a singer Gilda is.

After the show, Blackie and the band have to use bats and shotguns to get their money. Blackie says he only drinks so people won’t say that he is drug fiend. Later Blackie and the band go to Honey’s house and are very welcome. Blackie puts Honey on the phone with Doc. Blackie tells Doc about Gilda.

Songwriter (1984)

Songwriter (1984)

Gilda is playing a hotel when Dino, his wife, Doc, and Blackie go to watch. They like what they see. Dino has Gilda under contract so he and Doc have to work out a deal. They go to Gilda’s house and Doc flirts and gets Gilda wanting to work with him. Doc plays the song “Songwriter” for the partiers.

Doc and Dino continue to work on Gilda and getting her to record. Dino mentions that he found Gilda at the Pentecostal Center. Doc buys a vacuum cleaner and shows up at Honey’s house. Finally, she is happy to see him. Doc says he has been off of booze for a year. Honey chews him out for wasting money. Doc plays Honey a song and she remembers the good times. The kids come in and Doc works on music with his family.

Doc flies back to Nashville where he moguls at Cowbird records. He steals all the songs he has written. Doc calls his assistant to take all of his stuff to Austin. He confirms that he owns the building before burning it down.

Rocky finds out the building has burned. Doc heads to Austin, singing and playing the entire way.

Doc opens Lone Star Records in Austin. Doc gets a message that Rocky is going to break his knees and he looks for a place to hide his songs. Blackie is sleeping with Dino’s wife. Doc arranges with Gilda to take credit for writing his songs so Rocky can’t claim it.

Rocky and his gang show up in Austin and search Doc’s office. Rocky says he is owed 6 albums and 7 years of song writing. Blackie and his bunch bust in with shotguns and Doc says Blackie is the president of Lone Star Records.

Doc takes Blackie to a house he has rented and then he pitches his deal about Gilda. Blackie will play some local shows and then go on the road with Gilda. Gilda is nervous and drinking a lot. Doc has Gilda’s tape delivered to Blackie. Gilda is taking the writing credit for the songs and Blackie says he will do the same thing if it screws Rocky.

Doc takes Gilda’s song to the radio and uses payola to get it played. Rocky is getting angry about Gilda and pushes hard to get Doc shut down. He finally realizes it is Doc’s song.

Doc heads out on the road with Blackie and Gilda. Everything is great but she keeps on drinking. The pressure of success is too much for her. Doc’s wife is on the bus and she getting closer to one of the band members. Dino explains how sheep flirt with people and sometimes start relationships.

When they get to the hotel, Sam is missing. Dino finds him in bed with his wife. Dino brings Sam out in his whitey tighties and makes him stand by the pool with a beer on his head. Dino takes a breath and drops the gun to his side, raises it quickly and shoots the beer off Sam’s head. Doc says I underestimated you Dino, to which Dino replies all you “somebitches” do.

By this point on the tour, Gilda is almost catatonic. Rocky gets the injunction but he waiting for so he can claim more of Doc’s songs that come out under other people’s names. Gilda is now headlining the tour and adding pills to her booze. Gilda makes it to number 1.

Dino tells Doc he is glad they went with Gilda, adding we put all our chips on a hysterical neurotic drunk woman and she gonna make us rich or dead. Gilda shows up at Doc’s room with a bottle and bucket of ice. Gilda puts the hard press on Doc but he doesn’t fall for it. Honey calls and Doc uses the call to get rid of Gilda. When Gilda leaves, we find out that Blackie was on the phone. Later that get a call that Gilda overdosed. Gilda went to Honey’s house to confess and passed out. Honey revived her in a cold tub.

Doc shuts down the party at his house and in the morning, he goes to tell Honey that he is ready to settle down. Gilda and Arly come in and announce that they have gotten married. She also raises her hand gospel style.

Rocky serves the injunction and Doc offers to sell Gilda for 2 million dollars. Doc wants to keep his Blackie contract and his songwriting contract. They settle on 1 million for just Gilda’s contract.

Dino goes backstage and hits one of Rocky’s guys with a brick. Gilda shows up looking happy and sober. She meets Rocky and impresses him. Doc gets the million and Gilda goes on stage. When the lights come on, Gilda announces that she is born again and will only be singing gospel from now on.

Songwriter (1984)

Songwriter (1984)

Rocky passes out. Dino robs the money cage and takes half of everything. Doc drops off a tape with a song he says he wrote for Rocky. They play the tape for Rocky and it is “Songwriter.” Rocky is happy. Blackie takes up with the secretary and Doc goes back to his family.

World-Famous Short Summary – He did it for the love, but he wasn’t above the money

I hope you enjoyed today’s show. You can find connections to social media and email on my site at snarkymoviereviews.com. There are links in the podcast show notes as well. Remember this show is completely free and independent. All I ask is that you jump over to iTunes and give me a review. It really helps the show get found.

Beware the moors

Songwriter (1984)

Wild in the Streets (1968) – 116

Wild in the Streets (1968)

Wild in the Streets (1968)

Yeah. I don't want to live to be thirty. Thirty is death, baby. That's too much.

 

Welcome to today’s show, Wild in the Streets (1968), my name is John. As always you can subscribe to the show on iTunes or follow the links to social media in the podcast show notes. So please subscribe when you are finished listening. You can also go to snarkymoviereviews.com to read notes, bios, and other random movie thoughts.

Today’s movie is Wild in the Streets (1968). This movie is part of the counter-culture narrative and plays heavily on the oft-quoted “Never trust anyone over 30.” I guess the young people were being sent to Vietnam and may have had justification for the way the felt. You could not vote or drink at 18 but you sure could be drafted. This counter-culture theme was explored a little with Vanishing Point (1971), Logan’s Run (1976), and some other films in a future podcast.

The timeframe of the movie was 1968 to 1969. In the movie, the Republican presidential candidate defeats the Democratic incumbent, which at the time was Lyndon B. Johnson, LBJ. At the time of the movie, it was believed that LBJ would run for a second term. LBJ has finished John Kennedy’s term after he was assassinated and won a four-year term on his own. However, Johnson chose not to run and the Democratic candidate was Hubert H. Humphrey who lost badly to Richard M. Nixon.

So, let’s get on to the actors, with only one show veteran.

Actors

Returning

Bert Freed played the role of Max Jacob Flatow, Sr., the hen pecked out of touch father of the young president. Freed was covered in Episode 73 – Billy Jack (1971).

New

Wild in the Streets (1968)

Wild in the Streets (1968)

Shelley Winters played the over-caring mother of the young president, Daphne Flatow. Winters was born in Illinois in 1920 or 22. Her family moved to Brooklyn when she was very young. Winters started performing in plays while she was in high school. She worked as a model and as a borscht belt vaudevillian. The borscht belt is a mostly defunct name for the Catskills Mountain clubs.

During a national campaign to find someone unknown to play Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind (1939), director George Cukor advised Winters to take acting lessons. She did and before long she was working on Broadway. However, the pull of Hollywood was too strong and she headed out west.

Winters has some rough years in Hollywood, not getting much more than bit parts. Finally, she got noticed for her role in A Double Life (1947). She had a small role in Red River (1948) and an important role in Winchester ’73 (1950). But she kept getting small and tawdry roles.

Winters played pitiful characters in films such as A Place in the Sun (1951) where she is murdered by the father of her unborn child, played by Montgomery Clift, so he could pursue Elizabeth Taylor’s character.

Winters kept getting the same roles, hussy, drunk, gold digger. To combat this Winters began doing serious stage work and honing her craft at the Actor’s Studio. Winters hit it big again when she played the wife of a vicious killer, played by Robert Mitchum, in the fascinating The Night of the Hunter (1955). She played the super sensitive Mrs. Van Daan in The Diary of Anne Frank (1959). For this role, she won a best-supporting actress Oscar. Another powerful role was as the clueless mother in Lolita (1962). In A Patch of Blue (1965) she played a prostitute that turned her blind daughter out for money. This role got her a second Oscar.

As she continued to grow larger she found good supporting roles as Jewish mothers’. In The Poseidon Adventure (1972) she played an aging swimming champion that died after making a long swim during the escape. The 1970s and 1980s found Winters making the late-night talk shows and making her way with wild tales of Hollywood and her numerous affairs.

Winters has been most recently seen play Roseanne Barr’s loud-mouthed mother on the “Roseanne” show. Winters died of a heart attack in 2006.

Christopher Jones played the role of Max Frost, rock star that leveraged his popularity into the Presidency. Jones was born in 1941, in Jackson, Tennessee, which I believe is now the meth capital of America. His mother was committed when he was 4 and she eventually died in an asylum.

Jones has a rough youth and was in foster homes, orphanages, and one point Boys Town, which was probably not run by Father Flanagan and should be read as youth jail. Jones joined the military, went AWOL, and served time on Governor’s Island.

Following his release, he began studying art but people convinced him that he looked like James Dean and he should try acting. Jones was accepted to the Actor’s Studio and found a role on Broadway. He married Susan Strasberg, the daughter of Lee Strasberg. It doesn’t hurt to marry well. However, this one only lasted 3 years.

Jones starred in Chubasco (1967) with his wife and then made a 1960s counter-culture hit with Wild in the Streets (1968) were the youth of America took over the political system. Jones had other roles in films such as The Looking Glass War (1970) and Ryan’s Daughter (1970). However, not long as actress Sharon Tate was murdered by the Mansion family in 1969, Jones dropped out of acting. Quentin Tarantino offered the recluse a role in Pulp Fiction (1994) which Jones refused. However, he did appear in a small role in Mad Dog Time (1996).

Ed Begley played the role of Senator Amos Allbright, a member of the old guard. Begley was born in 1901 in Connecticut. Begley started acting at the age of 9 in local theater. He allegedly left home at 11 and made his way on his own. He served in the US Navy for 4 years. In 1931, he started working in vaudeville. He began working in the professional theater but it took until 1947 before he had a starring role.

His first movie was Boomerang! (1947). As well as remaining a prolific television actor, Begley was in almost every genre of films. These included westerns such as The Lady from Texas (1951), Lonestar (1952), and Hang ‘Em High (1968) – film noirs such as Sorry, Wrong Number (1948), Backfire (1950), On Dangerous Ground (1951), Deadline – U.S.A. (1952), and Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) – comedies such as It Happens Every Spring (1949), and You’re in the Navy Now (1951) – musical The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964), and the amazing drama 12 Angry Men (1957).

Begley died of a heart attack in 1970 at the age of 69.

Hal Holbrook played the role of young Senator Johnny Fergus, who thought he could control the youth vote. Holbrook was born in Ohio in 1925. Holbrook served in the Army during World War II. After the war, he attended Denison University and wrote an honors project on Mark Twain. He performed as Mark Twain many times in his career.

Holbrook became a television actor and worked on soap opera as well as stage performances. The first movie that I associate Holbrook with is All the President’s Men (1976) where he played “Deep Throat” rather than the earlier Wild in the Streets (1968). Holbrook was in The Great White Hope (1970), Magnum Force (1973), Midway (1976), along with everyone else, the great space adventure Capricorn One (1977), the utterly horrible The Fog (1980), The Star Chamber (1983), Wall Street (1987), Fletch Lives (1989), The Firm (1983), Men of Honor (2000), Into the Wild (2007) which resulted in him being the oldest male nominate for an Oscar, and Lincoln (2012). But in spite of that resume he may be best known as Burt Reynold’s father-in-law on “Evening Shades” 1990-1994. Mr. Holbrook is still with us at the age of 92, having recently appeared as a World War II veteran on “Hawaii Five-O” in 2017.

There were some good cameos and uses of clips in this movie. Pop singer Bobby Sherman was uncredited as an interviewer, the Monkees guitarist Peter Tork was uncredited as a ticket buyer, Dick Clark was a TV anchor, and future Greg Brady, Barry Williams was uncredited in the role of young Max. Finally, famed newsman Walter Winchell was seen in clips.

Wild in the Streets (1968)

Wild in the Streets (1968)

Story

The movie begins with voices of Daphne Flatow (Shelly Winters) being coerced into having a baby by Max Jacob Flatow (Bert Freed). Then it shows the birth announcement for Max Jacob Flatow, Jr. The baby is locked away in a crib as the parents’ fight. As he gets older his mother shames him about sex. As a teen (Berry Williams) his mother henpeckes the men and roles reverse. It switches to full grown Max (Christopher Jones) in the basement putting LSD on sugar cubes. He offers the drugs to his mother but she refuses. He is also making a bomb to blow up his father’s car. Max is ready to leave home. Max murders his mother’s beloved furniture, writes a not in lipstick, says goodbye to the dog, and blows up the car before leaving.

As the credits role, Max has become a rock star and is sporting a 3-inch ponytail. He is 22-years old and is extremely rich owning multiple companies. The members of the band are his advisors; Stanley X (Richard Pryor) anthropologist and author of “The Aborigine Cookbook,” Billy Cage (Kevin Coughlin), The Hook (Larry Bishop) [at one point Max calls the Hook his trumpet player, but he is clearly the bass player], Sally LeRoy (Diane Varsi), and Fuji Elly (May Ishihara).

He becomes the messiah of the under 25 singing songs about being 52%. Not too good. Daphne is at home desperately trying to stay young when she sees her son on television and recognizes him. She immediately thinks of wigs and facelifts before going to see Max. She goes through a beauty regime akin to what Norma Desmond did in Sunset Blvd. (1950).

Max has father several daughters and is somewhat interested in their lives. Daphne and Max Sr. youthfully decked out prepare to go to Max Jr. Concert. Daphne even says Mother and Father journeying into the West, following a star, reinforcing the Messiah.

Max Jr. and crew are watching Democratic Senatorial candidate from California Johnny Fergus (Hal Holbrook) talking about lowering the voting age to 18 because at that age they can be drafted and asked to fight. In fact, the 26th Amendment to the Constitution was passed on March 10, 1971, just 3 years after this movie was released). Max and crew ruminate on the fact that the senator is old at 37. They all agree that they don’t want to live past 30. Max has agreed to play a rally for Senator Fergus.

Daphne and Max Sr. bribe their way into the concert. Daphne is star struck but Sr. not so much. Daphne fights her way backstage and finds Max. They all pile into the car and Daphne drives wild until she runs off the road and kills a small kid. He tells Billy to get her out of the trouble and that she should stay away from him.

At the rally, the senator introduces Max to his children. The two boys and young Mary are really taken by Max. The Hook is shown with a trumpet. Max sorta supports the senator and says he is “sneaky Panther games.” He says Billy is 15. Max calls for 14-year-old voting and sings 14 or fight. The song also contains the phrase “Rocking the vote.” Max starts to call them troops and organizing flash mobs.

The senior senator for California Senator Amos Allbright (Ed Begley) warns Fergus that he is playing with fire. They hear Max Frost music from Fegus’ kids. Fegus goes to see Max to try and stop the mob from forming on Saturday night. Allbright blows up the meeting. Fergus tries to take the middle ground. He says he can handle them. They change the call to 15 and ready and Max agrees to make the mob be peaceful.

The mob begins showing up on Friday. The moving kid’s shut down traffic through the greater LA area. Mobs form in other cities. Fergus slaps his son who wants to go to the rally. The Hook asks Max to restore his hook hand in another messiah reference. Max and Fergus show up 7-hours early and calm the mob down. Over time 21 states have lowered the voting age. All Max has to do is name a location for a mob and states panic and change the law.

Wild in the Streets (1968)

Wild in the Streets (1968)

Fergus’ oldest son comes to stay with Max. He tells Max that when Fergus gets elected he will dump Max. He also tells him that a congressman died and Max can get anyone elected. They decide that Sally LaRue should run because she is turning 25. At the next concert, Max calls for Sally’s election.

With Max’s support, Sally gets elected to the House of Representatives. On the first day, she wears an admiral hat and calls for an amendment lowering the age for all national offices to 14. She is backed by her crew in the gallery. We know that if a single nut could control the House it would be out of control all the time.

A giant mob of kids comes to Washington and it last for 40 days and 40 nights. There is that Bible stuff again. Finally, the kids break through and the Capital Police open fire. Max goes on stage to sing that nothing can change the shape of things to come.

Congress is under siege in the capital after the 12 kids were killed. Senator Fergus’ son, now a full revolutionary, comes to see him. The kid’s ideas are a little out there and the talk ends badly. The senator gets good and drunk and attacks all of his children’s posters.

Max and his crew are deciding how to get the votes they still need and after seeing Sally tripping, they decide to give acid to all their political opponents. They drop gallon jars of LSD in the water and send a youth to be a trip guide for each senator. Even Senator Allbright is having a good time. They approve the amendment while high.

Daphne is a full-on hippy and Max Sr. is disabled. Daphne has been taking LSD therapy. Fergus tries to get her to stop Max Jr. but she says she is behind him.

Max Jr. wants to run as his own party or as a Democrat, but his crew convinces him to go Republican. They show an LBJ look alike petting his hound dogs as Max is nominated at the Republican convention. Max campaigns to the young people and wins every state except Hawaii.

As President, Max addresses Congress which now has many younger people. Fergus has a gun in his desk and gets ready to fires on Max as Max screams for the power. Fergus flees. Max’s plan is to make everyone retire at 30 and at 35 you have to report to a Center where you will be zonked on LSD for the rest of your days.

Young black shirters begin rounding up everyone. Max claims they will go willingly by al the scenes are forced. Allbright is in one of the camps, wearing a purple robe and smiling happily. Max Sr. is there and happy as well.

Max’s people give a lethal overdose of STP to the Hawaiians and the ones that survived are very weird. Older people are being hidden in attics and basements. Remind you of anyone?

Black shirters capture Senator Fergus and his wife, who have been hiding out in the wilderness (Eden). The youth revolution spreads to the USSR and China.

Finally, they come for Daphne who shots at them but is shortly captured. She shouts I’m young I’m young then I’m Aryan, I’m Aryan, then no I’m young I’m young as they drag her away. Max watches from his car.

Fergus’ wife is shown sad in one of the camps and the senator is shown hanged in a tree. Kind of a Judas thing going on.

Max has taken the Fergus child Mary and he goes to visit one of his baby mamas. Mary is dressed as a black shirters. When he tells her to stay, Mary gets mad and calls him old.

Daphne freaks out and tries to climb the barbed wire fence and when she is pulled down starts singing my country ’tis of thee. Oddly similar to the drive-in detention camp in Red Dawn (1984).

Max sends grain to poor countries, disbands the military, and the intelligence agencies. He can’t get it out of his head that Mary called him old. Max plays around in the woods while “Shape of Things To Come” is played again. Max kills a crawfish and some kids come up and say it was their pet. Max tells the boys they are not big enough to do anything about it and one of the kids looks at the camera and says we are going to put everyone over 10 out of business.

The credits roll.

Wild in the Streets (1968)

Wild in the Streets (1968)

There were a lot of messiah references and some Hitler stuff even though Max was portrayed as good if not somewhat naive.

The majority of the music, including “Shape of Things To Come” was written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. The pair wrote some pretty popular songs like “On Broadway” performed by the Drifters, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin” performed by The Righteous Brothers and co-written with Phil Spector, “We Gotta Get out of This Place” performed by The Animals, “Make Your Own Kind of Music” performed by Mama Cass Elliot, “Kicks” performed by Paul Revere & the Raiders, and “Here You Come Again” performed by Dolly Parton.

For the songs in the movie, Christopher Jones’ voice was dubbed by Paul Wibier.

Davie Allan & the Arrows probably made up most of the band “The 13th Power” credited with singing “The Shape of Things to Come” which was released under the name Max Frost and the Troopers. David Allan recorded on the soundtrack for The Born Losers (1968).

Oddly, this movie was nominated for an Oscar in 1969 for Best Film Editing.

World-Famous Short Summary – Dance with the Devil and the Devil don’t change

I hope you enjoyed today’s show. You can find links to all the social media at my site or in the podcast show notes. Remember this show is completely free and independent. All I ask is that you jump over to iTunes and give me a review. It really helps the show get found.

Beware the moors

Wild in the Streets (1968)

The Blue Gardenia (1953) – 115

The Blue Gardenia (1953)

The Blue Gardenia (1953)

If you want your picture on the paper, you'll have to go out and kill somebody first.

 

Welcome to today’s show, The Blue Gardenia (1953), my name is John. As always you can subscribe to the show on iTunes or follow the links to social media in the podcast show notes. So please subscribe when you are finished listening. You can also go to snarkymoviereviews.com to read notes, bios, and other random movie thoughts.

Today’s movie is The Blue Gardenia (1953). Eddie Muller of Noir Alley said that viewers are divided into two camps concerning this Fritz Lang directed the film. The first group said it is a hidden masterpiece of his career while the second group thinks it is a throw away done for a paycheck. I am clearly in the second group. I wanted to like this movie very much with stars Anne Baxter, Richard Conte, and Raymond Burr. Not so much. It even had Superman George Reeves as a detective. It should have been great. However, there were truck size holes in the plot and the killer was obvious from the beginning. I am not comparing this movie to modern films, only against other films of the period and it really doesn’t stand up.

We only have one show veteran today. But we have some exciting new people. So, let’s get going.

Actors

Returning

Richard Conte played reporter Casey Mayo. Conte was covered in Episode 98 – They Came to Cordura (1959).

New

Anne Baxter played the role of Norah Larkin. She was devoted to her military boyfriend until things went badly wrong. Baxter was born in 1923 in Indiana. Her maternal grandfather was the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. At the age of 11, Baxter and her family moved to New York City. The Big Apple sparked her interest in performing and by 13 she was already working on stage. Based on her performance she was admitted to a prestigious acting school. In 1937, Baxter and her mother traveled to Hollywood but the general opinion was that she was too young. She returned to New York and continued on Broadway.

The Blue Gardenia (1953)

The Blue Gardenia (1953)

Baxter returned to Hollywood at 16 and was shortly signed to a 7-year contract with Twentieth Century-Fox. During this time, she was getting bit parts that other actresses had to work for years to obtain. These movies include 20 Mule Team (1940) for MGM, The Great Profile (1940), Charley’s Aunt (1941), and Swamp Water (1941). Some did well and other not so much.

In 1942, she was in The Magnificent Ambersons (1942). The next year she received top billing in The North Star (1943). Following this success, she made a dud, Guest in the House (1944), and then hit big again with Sunday Dinner for a Soldier (1944) with her future first husband John Hodiak.

In 1946, she was amazing as Sophie in The Razor’s Edge (1946). She received a best-supporting actress Oscar for the role. It was 1950 before she received another worthy role with All About Eve (1950). Another great role was as Queen Nefretiri in director Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments (1956). She was beautiful and powerful in this role as she acted alongside Yul Brynner and Charlton Heston.

Her roles slowed and she was in Season of Passion (1959) and Cimarron (1960). After Walk on the Wild Side (1962), she went back to stage and television and did well on both. She was part of the series, “Hotel” 1983-1986. Sadly, she died early at the age of 62 in 1985.

Ann Sothern played Crystal Carpenter, the oldest and most motherly of the three women sharing an apartment. Sothern was born in 1909 in North Dakota. At 18 she had her first small film role in Broadway Nights (1927) and continued doing this work until 1934.  In 1934, she signed a contract with Columbia Pictures and was in 11 pictures over the next few years. In 1936, Sothern switched to RKO. The two years she spent at RKO didn’t really produce any movies worth talking about. Finally, Sothern made Trade Winds (1938) and based on the strength of the movie she was hired by MGM. She made Maisie (1939) and it led a total of 10 Maisie films. She also made other films during this period.

Sothern only made four films during the 1950s. She had a television series titled “Private Secretary” 1953-1957. She had “The Ann Sothern Show” 1958-1961. Another series, “My Mother the Car” ran from 1965-1966 and Ann was the voice of “Mother the car.” This series starred Jerry Van Dyke.

Ann worked a little during the 1970s and 1980s. However, she ended her career with an Oscar nomination for The Whales of August (1987). Ann passed away at the age of 92.

Raymond Burr played the stinker, Harry Prebble. Burr was born in British Columbia in 1917. What? He’s Canadian! Who knew? I always knew Burr as a television lawyer but apparently, in the 1950s, he was the go to film noir bad guy.

Burr spent part of his early life living in China. After his parents divorced, he moved with his mother to Vallejo, California. The young Burr worked odd jobs to help support his family. During World War II he served in the Navy. He was wounded in the stomach at Okinawa and shipped back to the states.

Burr made his film debut with San Quentin (1946). In all, he was in about 90 movies. These include ethnic roles in films like Fort Algiers (1953) and The Magic Carpet (1951), ape movies such as Bride of the Gorilla (1951) and Gorilla at Large (1954), Godzilla movies such as Godzilla, King of the Monsters! (1956) the original, Godzilla (1977), and Godzilla 1985 (1984), a comedy Airplane II: The Sequel (1982), some westerns and some dramas but mostly they were film noirs and mostly a bad guy in films such as Desperate (1947), Pitfall (1948), Ruthless (1948), Sleep, My Love (1948), Abandoned (1949), Black Magic (1949), Red Light (1949), Borderline (1950), Key to the City (1950), Unmasked (1950), A Place in the Sun (1951), F.B.I. Girl (1951), His Kind of Woman (1951), M (1951), Meet Danny Wilson (1951), The Blue Gardenia (1953), Rear Window (1954), A Cry in the Night (1956), Please Murder Me! (1956), and Crime of Passion (1957).

That would be enough of a career but I haven’t talked about his television yet. Burr played the role of beloved attorney “Perry Mason” 1957-1966. He had another series about a detective in a wheelchair called “Ironside” 1967-1975. There were dozens of made for TV movies, mini-series, and guest appearances on other shows as well. Burr died at the age of 76 in 1993 from cancer.

Jeff Donnell played Sally Ellis. Yes, Jeff is a girl. Jeff was born in Maine in 1921 at a boy’s reform school. This was because her parents worked there. Jess studied music and dance and became infatuated with “Mutt and Jeff” taking her new name from the pair.

Jeff began studying at the Yale School of Drama and it wasn’t long before the 19-year-old married her first husband. They started a theater in New Hampshire and it wasn’t long before a Columbia Studio’s Scout found her and got her signed to a contract.

Her first film was My Sister Eileen (1942) and she quickly fell into the role of seconds in B-movies. One of her few leading roles was In a Lonely Place (1950) where she played the wife to a cop investigating Humphrey Bogart’s character for murder. When she became disenchanted with the B-movies, she moved to RKO but had pretty much the same results.

In the 1950s she worked more on television and had a few light movie roles playing Gidget’s mom in Gidget Goes Hawaiian (1961) and Gidget Goes to Rome (1963). Final she landed on the soap opera “General Hospital” 1979- 1988. Jeff died of a heart attack in 1988 at the age of 66.

Richard Erdman played the role of photographer and sidekick Al. Erdman has been in some reviews already but didn’t make it to getting noted. Erdman was born in 1925 in Oklahoma. He made his career in films playing sidekick and did quite well. He is known for play Hoffy in Stalag 17 (1953) and Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970). On television’s “Community” he played Leonard from 2009-2015. He is 91 and still living.

The Blue Gardenia (1953)

The Blue Gardenia (1953)

George Reeves played the role of Police Capt. Sam Haynes. Reeves’ was born in Iowa in 1914. He was raised in Pasadena and went to Jr. College there. He was a fit guy and when he started attending the Pasadena Playhouse, it was not long until he was discovered. He started doing minor bits in movies in 1939 and that same year he was cast as one of Scarlett’s suitors in Gone with the Wind (1939). After this, he bounced from studio to studio. It looked like he would become a big star based on his performance in So Proudly We Hail! (1943). However, military service in World War II stopped his rise and he never made it back to the top. In the Army Air Corp, he made training films.

Finally, he went back to New York to work in television and obtained the role that would make him famous, Clark Kent AKA Superman, sorry if that’s a spoiler, in the “Adventures of Superman” 1952-1958. Follow this he really had trouble getting roles and at one point considered going into wrestling. In 1959, Reeves committed suicide using a handgun. There has been a persistent rumor that he was murdered because of his affair with Toni Mannix, the wife of an MGM exec. However, there has never been any evidence of this. This topic was highlighted in the movie Hollywoodland (2006). And the sign on the hill originally said “HOLLYWOODLAND” when it was put up for a subdivision.

Ruth Storey played Rose Miller and she seemed a little old for the role. The Blue Gardenia (1954) was her film debut and she was 40 at the time. She only made 6 films. So why was she here? She was the wife of Richard Conte.

Storey was born in 1913 in New York City. After starting film work in 1954, she retired after In Cold Blood (1967) and became a psychoanalysis. She had a brief role in Rich and Famous (1981). She passed away at the age of 84 in 1997.

Nat ‘King’ Cole played Nat ‘King’ Cole. Like Elvis, he was such a great singer they just let him sing in movies. Cole’s first movie was Citizen Kane (1941) as a lounge singer. His final movie was Cat Ballou (1965) where he played the dual role of Shouter / Sunrise Kid

Story

Casey Mayo (Richard Conte), a top newspaper report and his photographer Al (Richard Erdman) arrive at the telephone company right at lunch time. Mayo goes in to try and pick-up the women that work there. He is a cool cat and has a little black book with a rating system. Once inside, he gets the number of Crystal (Ann Southern). Another playboy, Harry Prebble (Raymond Burr) is already there working the angles. Prebble is an artist and gets to know the woman by drawing pictures of them. Mayo gives the number away to Prebble and he writes it down on his drawing. Crystal’s two roommates, Norah Larkin (Anne Baxter), Sally (Jeff Donnell) who also work at the phone company, come over and Prebble tries to put the moves on Norah. He is told by Crystal that Norah has a boyfriend that is stationed in Korea.

Prebble goes into his office where he gets a call from a woman. He rebuffs her for calling. Her name is Rose (Ruth Storey). Prebble refuses to see her and has even changed his home number. Rose says that he has to help her and he gives her the brush off.

Back at the apartment where the three females live together, Norah, who is celebrating her birthday, has a new black taffeta dress, and she is preparing for a candlelight dinner with a picture of her boyfriend and the most recent letter he has sent. Sally gets a call and rushes out to get a mystery book. Crystal is picked up for a date by her ex-husband. When the other women leave, Norah sits down to read the letter.

When Norah reads the letter, she is crushed to find out that it is a Dear Jane letter and her boyfriend is marrying someone else. As she is in a daze, Prebble calls looking for Crystal but gets Norah, who out of desperation decides to meet Prebble. Jeff reads the letter after Norah leaves.

Mayo is at the bar drinking and he and Prebble are friendly. Norah goes to the Blue Gardenia tiki bar where Prebble has a dinner table all set. He is very happy with the mix-up. They sit-down and the Polynesian Pearl Diver drinks are brought to the table. Listen to this recipe!

1 1⁄2        oz            Puerto Rican Rum
1⁄2           oz            Demerara Rum
1⁄2           oz            Jamaican Rum
1              bsp          Falernum, Velvet Falernum
1              oz            Orange juice
3⁄4           oz            Lime juice
1              ds            Butter (sweet)
1              ds            Honey
1              ds            Vanilla syrup
1              ds            Allspice Dram
1              ds            Cinnamon syrup

Man, that’s 2 ½ ounces of rum and a bunch of sweet stuff. Sweet butter really. I feel the hangover already. A blind lady sells Prebble a Blue Gardenia for Norah. Nat King Cole sings Blue Gardenia as Norah puts away about six of the pile drivers, I mean Pearl Divers. Norah is drunk and slurring her word as Prebble orders more drinks.

Prebble takes Norah back to his studio apartment where he has many paintings in progress. He tells her he has invited some friends over. Prebble opens a bottle of champagne and cuts his finger on the wire. Norah drunkenly hands over her handkerchief. She takes the drink but spills more than she drinks. Prebble puts on Blue Gardenia by Nat King Cole. Norah asks for coffee and to lay down. Prebble gets the coffee and it’s steaming. Then they show him putting a bottle away. He gives Norah the drink and she swigs it down as it is not hot and is mostly booze. Norah tries to dance but is too drunk. When she passes out, he pounces upon her in a typical case of date rape. Norah tries to push him away but he is too strong. Prebble is trying to force Norah to stay and she grabs a fire poker and clunks him on the head.

Norah wakes later and is still at Prebble’s studio. She sees the broken mirror and runs out into the storm. Somehow, she makes it to her bed and is woken in the morning by Crystal. She doesn’t remember anything after having a couple of drinks. Jeff quizzes her about the letter.

The Blue Gardenia (1953)

The Blue Gardenia (1953)

In the morning, Prebble is found dead, murdered with a poker. The head detective is Police Capt. Sam Haynes (George Reeves). The maid has destroyed most of the evidence before she found the body. They have Norah’s shoes, handkerchief, a Blue Gardenia, but no prints. Mayo and Al come in cover the murder. The record on the player is not Nat King Cole. Mayo is shocked when he finds out it is Prebble that has been killed.

Capt. Haynes goes to the telephone company and starts interviewing women that Prebble has painted. When another woman drops a hand mirror, Norah starts remembering the smashed mirror at Prebble’s apartment.

Mayo interviews the blind flower seller and finds that the lady with Prebble from the night before was wearing a taffeta dress. Norah becomes more concerned as she finds out more detailed. Norah calls her supervisor over to take her board and I can’t help but think how it so similar to supervising air traffic controllers taking over on the screen in movies.

Norah goes outside and sees in the paper that Prebble has been killed with a poker. She starts to leave the building but police are outside so she finishes her shift. Mayo begins writing his news article. He gets the idea from the copy boy to call the killer the Blue Gardenia Murderess.

When Jeff reads the story, Norah jumps when the taffeta dress is mentioned. She tries to defend the murder to her roommates. After the others go to sleep Norah sneaks outside to burn her black taffeta dress. In the middle of the process, a patrol car stops and questions her about burning trash outside of the prescribed hours. After some tension, they let her off with a warning.

Mayo and Al get tickets to cover the next H-bomb blast. When the editor recommends writing the murderer a letter, Mayo starts printing stories asking the killer to turn herself in. He says he wants to help her.

Norah is getting ready to take up the offer. When the phone rings, the caller asks if it is the Blue Gardenia killer. She hangs up but it is only Crystal’s ex, making a joke. Norah freaks and runs outside and there is a cop at the door. He is only looking for the manager.

Mayo screens the calls and uses shoe size, 5 ½, like the prince in Cinderella to determine the real killer. Capt. Haynes calls in to see what Mayo is up to. Norah finally calls in but she has a handkerchief over the receiver to muffle the voice. She describes the shoes and they start tracking the call. About this time, a police car pulls into the station she is calling from and Norah runs away leaving behind another handkerchief.

Mayo gets a call from Capt. Haynes saying the handkerchiefs match. Norah calls back and says she is the friend of the killer and wants to meet. Mayo tells her she lost her handkerchief. He convinces her to come to the newspaper and she stops and buys something at the drug store.

Mayo startles her in the dark room but invites her in. They exchange life stories. Norah believes Mayo can be trusted. He wants an exclusive story in exchange for a good defense lawyer. Norah tells the true story including the part about not remembering. Mayo spills an ashtray on Norah to see if she has a handkerchief.

They go to a diner and continue talking and she mentions The Blue Gardenia record. He puts it on the jukebox. He tells her they have her shoes, two handkerchiefs, and maybe prints off the phone. He tells her to bring her “friend” at 3:45 the next day. Norah gets away when some drunks come in the door.

Mayo is sweet on Norah and tells Al she is not the type to go in the little black book. Norah makes it home and Crystal is waiting up for her. Crystal noticed that the dress and shoes are gone and she figured out that Norah was the killer. Crystal takes it pretty well.

The next day Mayo goes to the diner and Crystal is waiting in a booth. She tells him the real girl is ready to give herself up. Norah is waiting in the next booth. Mayo is in shock because Norah appears to be so nice. Norah guilts Mayo saying she knew she could trust him and he doesn’t know what to do. He is not sure what to do because he is falling for her. About this time, Capt. Haynes comes in arrests Norah having been tipped off by the waiter. Norah thinks it was just a trap set by Mayo.

The Blue Gardenia (1953)

The Blue Gardenia (1953)

Norah is fingerprinted, photographed, and booked. Mayo and Al go to the airport to fly to the H-bomb blast. Mayo thinks he has missed love. Suddenly he hears the music that was on the record player at Prebble’s apartment. Mayo gets Capt. Haynes and explains the theory to him. They trace the album back to the record store. That is something from a bygone era. The manager knows Prebble and the sales person was Ms. Miller. When she turns, it is Rose, who called Prebble at the beginning of the story. Rose goes into the restroom and cuts her wrists.

In the hospital, she confesses going to Prebble’s apartment and finally getting inside. She is pregnant and can’t go through it alone. He won’t commit to marrying her and he puts on their song. When Rose sees the handkerchief on the floor she killed him with the poker. Norah is brought in in prison garb to hear the confession. She feels sorry for Rose. At the Hall of Justice, Norah is released. When Mayo tries to talk to him, Norah storms away. Crystal says for him to call Norah. As the females walk away it is their plan to trap Mayo. Mayo gives his little black book to Al.

World-Famous Short Summary – Taffeta, darling.

I hope you enjoyed today’s show. You can find connections to social media and email on my site at snarkymoviereviews.com. There are links in the podcast show notes as well. Remember this show is completely free and independent. All I ask is that you jump over to iTunes and give me a review. It really helps the show get found.

Beware the moors

The Blue Gardenia (1953)

Vanishing Point (1971) – 114

Vanishing Point (1971)

Vanishing Point (1971)

This radio station was named Kowalski, in honor of the last American hero to whom speed means freedom of the soul.

Welcome to today’s show, Vanishing Point (1971), my name is John. As always you can subscribe to the show on iTunes or follow the links to social media in the podcast show notes. So please subscribe when you are finished listening. You can also go to snarkymoviereviews.com to read notes, bios, and other random movie thoughts.

Today’s movie is Vanishing Point (1971). I’ll begin with a little quote from Wikipedia: “Kowalski is a Medal of Honor Vietnam War veteran and former race car driver and motorcycle racer. He is also a former police officer, who was dishonorably discharged in retaliation for preventing his partner from raping a young woman. Haunted by the surfing death of his girlfriend, Vera, Kowalski now exists on adrenaline.”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanishing_Point_(1971_film)

Counter-culture hero, a man that did everything right but was betrayed by the instructions he worked to protect. Kowalski felt he was like the junk he saw in the desert. Kowalski was a relic or shadow of a past time. This movie is dated, but it helps to understand the alienation people were feeling in the later 1960s and early 1970s.

So let’s jump in with our show veterans.

Actors

Returning

Dean Jagger played an old desert Prospector, really more of a scavenger.  Jagger was first covered in Episode 94 – White Christmas (1954).

Paul Koslo played Deputy Charlie Scott. Koslo was first covered in Episode 44 – The Omega Man (1971).

Robert Donner played Deputy Collins. Donner was covered in Episode 107 – El Dorado (1967).

Severn Darden played J. Hovah, the leader of the desert religious movement. He was first mentioned in Episode 36 – Back to School (1986).

New

Vanishing Point (1971)

Vanishing Point (1971)

Barry Newman played the lead role of counter-culture hero Kowalski. Newman was born in Boston in 1938. He attended Brandeis University and obtained a degree in anthropology. I knew I liked this guy. He stayed pretty active on the stage through the 1960s with an occasional foray into movies. However, his first big break was The Lawyer (1970) followed by Vanishing Point (1971). He continued to make movies and eventually landed the TV series “Petrocelli” 1974-1976 as an independent lawyer. He is still alive and his last movie came out in 2015.

Cleavon Little played the role of blind radio DJ Super Soul. Little was born in Oklahoma in 1939 but grew up in California. Little later attended San Diego College. Little earned a scholarship to Juilliard and eventually trained at the American Academy of Dramatic Art. He worked a lot on Broadway before he started getting movie roles. His roles started out small in exploitation movies like Cotton Comes to Harlem (1970) and moved to longer roles in movies like Vanishing Point (1971). However, he became very popular with “The New Temperatures Rising Show” 1972-1974, that somehow, I missed. The power of this show led to a role one of the funniest films ever made.  He was cast a Sheriff Bart in the Mel Brooks-directed comedy Blazing Saddles (1974) co-starring Gene Wilder. A movie that could clearly not be made in modern America.

Little continued with stage, television, and movies but never had another hit as big as Blazing Saddles (1974). But hey, who has? He was in some of the funnier movies of following decades, including Greased Lightning (1977) with Richard Pryor, FM (1978), and Once Bitten (1985) playing a cool vampire with a young Jim Carrey. Sadly, Little died in 1992, at the young age of 53, from colon cancer.

Victoria Medlin had a very small role as Vera Thornton. She was 70s cute but she couldn’t act. She made only three movies, Vanishing Point (1971), The Resolution of Mossie Wax (1973) and The Groove Tube (1974). She committed suicide in 1978.

Karl Swenson has a small role as Sam the garage operator. I believe Kowalski called him something else in the movie. Swenson was born in 1908 in Brooklyn New York. He went into radio in the 1930s and continued for four decades. He really was a well-known television actor that did a few movies. Although his first film role was in in Strangers All (1935) he started to get noticed in films when he was over 50. His movies during this period include Kings Go Forth (1958), North to Alaska (1960), Judgment at Nuremberg (1961), The Birds (1963), the voice of Merlin in the Disney animated The Sword in the Stone (1963), The Sons of Katie Elder (1965), The Cincinnati Kid (1965), and Major Dundee (1965).

He met Michael Landon while working on “Bonanza” in 1959. Later Landon cast him on “Little House on the Prairie” 1974-1978. Swenson worked on this show until he died of a heart attack in 1978.

Timothy Scott played the role of the helpful biker named Angel. Scott was born in 1937 in Detroit but soon moved to New Mexico. Scott was an avid theater performer but had a number of fine movie performances. These movies include Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), Vanishing Point (1971), Lolly-Madonna XXX (1973), Days of Heaven (1978), Footloose (1984), and Fried Green Tomatoes (1991). Sadly this actor died in 1995 at the age of 57.

Lee Weaver played the drug dealer and friend of Kowalski, Jake. Weaver was born in 1930 in Florida. Wait! Nobodies born in Florida. He is known for a few small roles such as Cleopatra Jones (1973), The Onion Field (1979), O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000), Donnie Darko (2001), and The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005).

John Amos had a small uncredited role as Super Soul’s Engineer. Amos was born in 1939 in New Jersey. Amos played pro football for American and Canadian teams. After his football career was over he became interested in acting. After moving to the west coast Amos got a job as a writer for “Leslie Uggams’ Show” 1969. In 1971, he was in an LA production of “Norman, Is That You?” a show he later took on the road. This show became a movie with Redd Foxx and Michael Warren as Norman, Is That You? (1976).

Amos returned to New York and performed in his first Broadway play. He also landed the role of Gordy the weatherman on “Mary Tyler Moore” 1970-1973. However, the part remained small and he left after three seasons.

The best break he ever got was being cast as the husband of Florida Evans (Esther Rolle) on “Maude” 1972. In a spin-off Amos was cast as James Evans and Esther Rolle was cast as Florida Evans and the show was called “Good Times” 1974-1976. As the show became sillier and focused more on the antics of J.J. (Jimmie Walker) Amos became unsatisfied. Finally, he was killed off on the show. However, he bounced right back playing the role of older Kunte Kinte in the miniseries “Roots” 1977.

Amos has regularly appeared on television and in movies and he continues to work. Some of his best film roles include Vanishing Point (1971), The Beastmaster (1982), American Flyers (1985) where the super fit character played by Amos was trying to convince his pudgy son to exercise, Coming to America (1988) where he played an entrepreneur ripping off McDonalds logo, and Die Hard 2 (1990).

Val Avery played a Police Officer and partner to Kowalski in an uncredited part. Avery was born in Philly in 1924. His films include small parts in The Magnificent Seven (1960), Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962), Hud (1963), The Hallelujah Trail (1965), Vanishing Point (1971), Papillon (1973), Brubaker (1980), Continental Divide (1981), The Sting II (1983), the utterly horrible Cobra (1986), and Donnie Brasco (1997). He died in 2009 at the age of 85.

This movie has a great soundtrack featuring Rita Coolidge, singer, and ex-wife of Kris Kristofferson, Ted Neeley known for singing the role of Jesus on stage and in the film Jesus Christ Superstar (1973), and Delaney & Bonnie & Friends. Kim Carnes was on the soundtrack but not in the film

Vanishing Point (1971)

Vanishing Point (1971)

Story

The movie begins in a sleepy desert town at sunrise. The siren of a motorcycle cop breaks the silence and two large bulldozers move into place as more police arrive. The dozers drop their blades in the middle of the street as local watch the commotion. Deputy Collins (Robert Donner) silently watches the events unfold from inside. A police helicopter locates the suspect, who is driving a white superchargered 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T. As a note, the sounds of the Challenger were sometimes taken from another chase movie, Steve McQueen’s Bullitt (1968) and are the sounds of a Mustang.

The driver of the car is Kowalski (Barry Newman). Kowalski speeds towards the dozers, slams on breaks, and reverses direction. It is not long before he meets police cars coming towards him. He takes the street vehicle off road and parks in a junkyard on the edge of the desert. After looking at the junk he gets back in the car heads back onto the main road. As the white Challenger passes by a black Chrysler Imperial the frame stops and the time is shown as California Sunday 10:02 A.M.

The movie then jumps back two days to Denver, Colorado Friday 11:30 P.M.

Kowalski pulls into a car delivery service. The clerk at the delivery service, Sam (Karl Swenson) wants him to delay but Kowalski insists that he head back to San Fran that night. After picking up the Challenger he goes to a biker bar to buy speed. Jake (Lee Weaver) tries to induce Kowalski to stay for partying and girls but Kowalski leaves on his journey.

In a desert town, a blind DJ Super Soul (Cleavon Little) walks to the radio station where he works. Super Souls’ engineer is John Amos. Kowalski heads up into the mountains before he picks up his first cop. Kowalski runs them off the road and then outdistances them. He stops to make sure the motorcycle cops are okay and flashes back to a crash during his motorcycle racing days. One motorcycle follows and Kowalski takes the car cross country. He does a Dukes of Hazzard jump and gets away and back onto the highway.

The station engineer gets the news story about Kowalski off the tele-a-type. Kowalski passes another roadblock and takes the car off road again. The police cars quickly catch-up as Kowalski gets back on the road. He finally loses the cops and the soundtrack is driving. Kowalski then flashes back to a crash during his car racing days.

He makes it out onto the western desert when a little Jaguar sports car challenges him to a race. The car bumps him and the race continues until they approach a one lane bridge with a large truck crossing over. The Jaguar driver flips over and into the water. Kowalski runs back to see if the man is okay as the two more police cars begin to chase him.

Kowalski begins listening to KKOW where Super Soul is broadcasting. The cops stop at the state line of Nevada. The time shows as Nevada Saturday 11:43 A.M. Super Souls engineer intercepts the police radio.

Kowalski stops for gas and a young strawberry blonde comes to pump the gas. Kowalski flashes back to his cop partner (Val Avery) trying to rape a confession out of a female suspect. Kowalski stops his partner. Kowalski speeds on leaving the gas girl behind. Super Soul starts broadcast to Kowalski and calls him the last American hero.

Two cops Deputy Collins and Deputy Charlie Scott (Paul Koslo) are waiting in the desert for Kowalski to come by. No sooner do they get the message to look for Kowalski than he comes flying by. They have banjo music during the chase which I can only assume is a homage to Bonnie and Clyde (1967). Kowalski runs the two deputies off the road but they get back after him. Kowalski goes off onto dirt roads for a bit. Eventually the police wreck. Kowalski waits a moment to make sure they are okay. The two deputies get in another car and continue the chase.

When two police cars come from the other direction, Kowalski goes off road, again. Super Soul is confused by Kowalski’s actions. The time is Nevada Saturday 1:36 P.M. Kowalski doubles back across his tracks and realizes he is in a pickle. Super Soul warns Kowalski about how the police are tracking him. He also tells him he can’t beat the desert. Kowalski turns the radio off and drives on.

While driving Kowalski flashes back to a winter scene with Vera (Victoria Medlin), the one love of his life. Next, they are the beach. She offers him a joint and she references that he is a cop. Vera then says she loves his scar, which is presumably a war wound. Vera then dies in a surfing accident. A blown tire brings the daydream to an end.

Vanishing Point (1971)

Vanishing Point (1971)

Sam is interviewed and defends Kowalski. Super Soul is beset by reporters as well. Kowalski changes the tire and a big rattler is waiting by the trunk. A prospector (Dean Jagger) comes and catches the snakes. He says he trades them for supplies. Super Soul says cops are moving into the desert to find him. Kowalski asks for help and the prospector tells him to hide in the desert for a while.

Deputy Charlie Scott flies in a helicopter looking for Kowalski but he and the old prospector have hidden the car under a pile of brush. They find the prospectors truck and that seems to account for the tracks. The Prospector, helps Kowalski find his way.

It switches to a group of religious singers called the J. Hovah’s singers. J. Hovah (Severn Darden) is watching the singers. The singers consist of Rita Coolidge former wife of Kris Kristofferson, Ted Neeley of Jesus Christ Superstar, plus the band Delaney & Bonnie & Friends. Kowalski and the prospector show-up at the faith healer’s revival. J. Hovah is mean and doesn’t want the snakes and he tosses away the prospector’s snakes. He does get the gas for Kowalski. The prospector gives Kowalski the route out but it is in desert code.

The police give Kowalski military bio and tell how he was discharged from the police force. Kowalski finally makes it back to the road. Super Soul waits for Kowalski to be ready and Kowalski passes two men pushing a broken-down woody with a just married sign on the back. They two men were very fabulous. The guy in the front seat pulls a gun and Kowalski beats the crap out of them before throwing them out of the car.

Super Soul tells Kowalski that the police wanted the two beaten men to press charges against Kowalski. Super Soul also warns that the roads leading into California are being closed by the police. Deputy Charlie Scott and group of thugs raid the radio station and beat Super Soul and the engineer before destroying the equipment.

A guy on a chopper rides up and asks Kowalski if he needs help. They decide to go back to Angel’s (Timothy Scott) place to get speed. It’s a derelict trailer in the desert. A nude girl (Gilda Texter) is riding a motorcycle around the desert. Angel brings the drugs and Kowalski chows um down. Super Soul gets back on air and says there is only one road open and it is very near. Kowalski thinks there is something wrong with Super Souls voice. Angel calls the nude rider over and they think it is a trap. Angel leaves to check out something. The nude rider offers Kowalski sex but he turns her down. She then reveals that she has been scrapbooking him.

Angel comes back and reveals that the cops have the road blocked at the California line and it is a trap. Angel gets a mini-bike and an old hand crank siren. They tie the mini-bike on the roof so the tail light looks like a police light and wind the siren as they come to the roadblock. They police fall for the trick and Kowalski gets through.

California is shown as a modern police operation as opposed to the rural ones they have been showing so far. Angel rides off on the mini-bike. The time shows as California Saturday 7:12 P.M. Kowalski calls Jake and says the car will be delivered on time. It seems like everything is converging on Cisco. Super Soul makes it back to the damaged radio station.

The police helicopter finds Kowalski. A crowd is gathering around the bulldozers and the deputies Collins and Scott are standing by even though they are from Nevada. Super Soul calls out to Kowalski but the driver is not listening. Kowalski has reached a state of peace as he barrels towards the dozers. Kowalski hits the blades at full speed and he and car are destroyed. The time reads California Sunday 10:04 A.M. The deputies don’t seem to know why and the people are just enjoying the show.

Super Soul can’t understand why this had to happen. The credits role as they pull out body parts.

Currently, this is a 20-hour trip at the speed limit.

World-Famous Short Summary – If your personal super soul says stop, STOP!

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Beware the moors

Vanishing Point (1971)

Lionel Atwill – Authority Figure to Accused Sex Fiend

Lionel Atwill

Lionel Atwill

Lionel Atwill

Lionel Atwill

Lionel Atwill was born March 1, 1885, in Croydon, United Kingdom. He studied architecture before his stage debut at the Garrick Theatre, London, in 1904 and soon after made his screen debut. He performed stage work in Australia before arriving in the US. Atwill came to America in 1915 and starred with Lily Langtry in “Mrs. Thompson.” He was in 25 productions on Broadway before beginning major film work in 1932.

He had a deep voice and bullying manner which severed him well in his roles as noblemen, mad doctors, military, and policemen. He usually wore a trademark thin mustache. His roles include Captain Blood (1935) and To Be or Not to Be (1942).

He was well adept at horror with roles like the crazed sculptor in Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933), and as Inspector Krogh in Son of Frankenstein (1939).

His other roles include The Wrong Road (1937) for RKO and Dr. James Mortimer in 20th Century Fox’s film version of The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939), and Professor Moriarty in the Universal Studios film Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon (1943).

His career was ruined in 1943 after he was implicated in what was described as an “orgy” at his home that included, naked guests, pornographic films, and a rape occurred during the event.

Personal life

Lionel Atwill

Lionel Atwill

Atwill managed to get married four times. Phyllis Ralph was his first wife and they were married from 1913 to 1919. The couple had one son who was killed in action in 1941. His second wife was American actress Elsie Mackay. They were married in 1920. In 1930, he married Louise Cromwell Brooks. She had been previously married to Douglas MacArthur. Atwill and Brooks divorced in 1943. His last wife was Paula Pruter. This couple was married from 1944 until Atwill’s death in 1946. They had one son who was a writer and is now retired.

In 1942, Atwill was indicted for perjury by a jury investigating the 1941 proceeding of a grand jury relative to the alleged occurrence of a sex orgy at his home that included stag films and an alleged rape. A 16-year old girl named Sylvia Hamalaine claimed she was abused by several celebrities at the party. However, she turned out to be a less than credible witness.

Atwill was rebuilding his career after the orgy scandal and was film Lost City of the Jungle when he died of pneumonia on April 22, 1946, at his home in Los Angles. Some of the footage was used when the film was released later that year.

Selected Filmography

1918 Eve’s Daughter – Courtenay Urquhart
1918 For Sale – Undetermined Role
1919 The Marriage Price – Kenneth Gordon
1920 The Eternal Mother – Howard Hollister
1921 The Highest Bidder – Lester
1932 Doctor X – Dr. Jerry Xavier
1932 The Silent Witness – Sir Austin Howard
1933 Murders in the Zoo – Eric Gorman
1933 Mystery of the Wax Museum – Ivan Igor
1933 Secret of the Blue Room – Robert von Helldorf
1933 The Secret of Madame Blanche – Aubrey St. John
1933 The Solitaire Man – Wallace
1933 The Song of Songs – Baron von Merzbach
1933 The Sphinx – Jerome Breen
1933 The Vampire Bat – Dr. Otto von Niemann
1934 Beggars in Ermine – John ‘Flint’ Dawson aka John Daniels
1934 Nana – Colonel André Muffat
1934 One More River – Brough
1934 Stamboul Quest – Herr Von Sturm
1934 The Age of Innocence – Julius Beaufort
1934 The Firebird – John Pointer
1934 The Man Who Reclaimed His Head – Henry Dumont
Captain Blood (1935) – Colonel Bishop
Mark of the Vampire (1935) – Inspector Neumann
1935 Rendezvous – William Brennan
1935 The Devil Is a Woman – Capt. Don Pasqual ‘Pasqualito’ Costelar

Lionel Atwill

Lionel Atwill

 

1935 The Murder Man – Captain Cole
1936 Absolute Quiet – G.A. Axton
1936 Lady of Secrets – Mr. Whittaker
1936 Till We Meet Again – Ludwig
1937 Lancer Spy – Col. Fenwick
1937 The Great Garrick – Beaumarchais
1937 The High Command – Maj. Gen. Sir John Sangye, VC
1937 The Last Train from Madrid – Col. Vigo
1937 The Road Back – Prosecutor
1937 The Wrong Road – Mike Roberts
1938 The Great Waltz – Count Hohenfried
1938 Three Comrades – Breuer
1939 Balalaika – Prof. Marakov
1939 Mr. Moto Takes a Vacation – Prof. Roger Chauncey Hildebrand
Son of Frankenstein (1939) – Inspector Krogh
1939 The Gorilla – Walter Stevens
1939 The Hound of the Baskervilles – James Mortimer M.D.
1939 The Mad Empress – General Bazaine
1939 The Secret of Dr. Kildare – Paul Messenger
1939 The Sun Never Sets – Zurof
1939 The Three Musketeers – De Rochefort
1940 Boom Town – Harry Compton
1940 Charlie Chan in Panama – Cliveden Compton
1940 Charlie Chan’s Murder Cruise – Dr. Suderman
1940 Girl in 313 – Russell aka Henry Woodruff
1940 Johnny Apollo – Jim McLaughlin
1940 The Great Profile – Dr. Bruce
1941 Man Made Monster – Dr. Paul Rigas
1942 Cairo – Teutonic Gentleman
1942 Junior G-Men of the Air – The Baron
1942 Night Monster – Dr. King
1942 Pardon My Sarong – Varnoff
1942 Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon – Moriarty (as Moriarity)
1942 The Ghost of Frankenstein – Doctor Theodore Bohmer
1942 The Mad Doctor of Market Street – Graham / Dr. Ralph Benson
1942 The Strange Case of Doctor Rx – Dr. Fish
1942 To Be or Not to Be – Rawitch
Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943) – Mayor
1944 Captain America – Cyrus Maldor
House of Frankenstein (1944) – Inspector Arnz
1944 Lady in the Death House – Charles Finch
1944 Raiders of Ghost City – Erich von Rugen, alias Alex Morel
1944 Secrets of Scotland Yard – Waterlow
1945 Crime, Inc. – Pat Coyle
1945 Fog Island – Alec Ritchfield
1945 House of Dracula – Police Inspector Holtz
1946 Genius at Work – Latimer Marsh / The Cobra
1946 Lost City of the Jungle – Sir Eric Hazarias

 

Lionel Atwill

Lionel Atwill

Lionel Atwill – Authority Figure to Disgraced Pervert