Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Favorite Film Discoveries of 2013 - Todd Liebenow ""

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Favorite Film Discoveries of 2013 - Todd Liebenow

Todd writes about neglected cinema at his blog Forgotten Films, which I am a big fan of:
http://forgottenfilmcast.wordpress.com/
He also runs a great podcast about those kind of movies there too and I've been a guest on that show twice(episodes 1 & 12):
http://forgottenfilmcast.wordpress.com/tag/forgotten-filmcast/
Todd has also recently started writing articles for Man I Love Films:
http://manilovefilms.com/author/squonk/
Lastly, find him on twitter here:
https://twitter.com/ForgottenFilmz
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The Intruder (1962)
I actually watched this film during the last week of 2012, after I turned in last year’s list.  This blew me away!  Williams Shatner stars as a white supremacist who heads down south to start a race riot in a town about the integrate their schools.  To be honest, I wasn’t sure Shatner or director Roger Corman had it in them, but this film is phenomenal!

Last Train from Gun Hill (1959)
John Sturges and much of his crew from Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, including leading man Kirk Douglas, return for this dark and relentless western.  Anthony Quinn is amazing in a role that takes his usual gangster tough guy persona and reworks it for the old west.  A fantastic film!

Deadlier than the Male (1967)
This attempt at turning the character of Bulldog Drummond into a James Bond type franchise is better than many of 007’s weaker outings.  Elke Sommers heads up a group of sexy, and ruthless, female assassins in this great 60’s spy flick.

When Eight Bells Toll (1971)
Speaking of James Bond knock-offs...Anthony Hopkins manages to be a pretty cool spy himself in this adaptation of an Alistair MacLean novel.  It certainly takes some inspiration from 007 but manages to have its own style, as well.  The highlight for me, though, was Robert Morley in the M-like role of Uncle Arthur

The Landlord (1970)
Director Hal Ashby’s debut film features Beau Bridges a young man who purchases an inner city tenement building.  At times funny, at times touching and a far better look at race issues than anything Spike Lee has done.

Tank (1984)
James Garner goes after a nasty southern sheriff in his Sherman tank.  Garner is perfectly cast as the career military man, and G.D. Spradlin is the ultimate evil small town lawman.  It’s part First Blood, part Smokey and the Bandit and a lot of fun.

Electra Glide in Blue (1973)
Engrossing character study centered on a short-in-stature Arizona motorcycle cop played by Robert Blake.  Features some John Ford inspired shots of Monument Valley courtesy of Conrad Hall and a wonderful performance by Blake.

The Escape Artist (1982)
Griffin O’Neal, son of Ryan O’Neal, plays a boy trying to follow in the footsteps of his deceased magician father.  He also teams up with Raul Julia as the slimy son of the city’s corrupt mayor (Desi Arnaz).  It’s more about father’s and sons than magic, though there are some great illusion sequences...not to mention a cute appearance by Elizabeth Daily.

Born Reckless (1958)
Fun little tale of hard workin’ folks on the rodeo circuit.  Mamie Van Doren absolutely melts the screen in this one.  Add in some cool rodeo sequences and a few fun little songs and you’ve got a great little film.

Rustlers’ Rhapsody (1985)
Tom Berenger stars in this spot-on spoof of 30’s and 40’s B-western heroes.  G.W. Bailey is also a lot of fun as the classic western sidekick.  This film is all-at-once a sharp satire of old westerns, while also being a loving tribute.  Only thing that would’ve made it better would be if had they made it in black and white.

Two Way Stretch (1960)
Fun little British comedy crime caper with Peter Sellers leading a group of prisoners who must escape prison to steal some diamonds, then break back in before anyone realizes they were gone.  The perfect alibi!  Lionel Jeffries is great as the hard-as-nails prison guard.

Cry Tough (1959)
West Side Story-ish tale featuring John Saxon as a Puerto Rican young man trapped in a life of crime.  Steamy doesn’t even begin to describe Linda Cristal in this film.  She has great chemistry with Saxon, not to mention some jaw-dropping fashion choices.

Wild Boys of the Road (1933)
Hard-hitting pre-code about teenagers who leave home to relieve their parents of financial burden during the depression.  Features many shocking pre-code elements from rape to murder...heck, one of the main characters even has his leg crushed by a train.  Directed by William Wellman and featuring a great performance by young Frankie Darro.

The Last Remake of Beau Geste (1977)
Supposedly Universal Pictures completely recut this epic spoof from director/writer/star Marty Feldman before they saw fit to release it.  Still, it manages to be an inventive, creative and very funny comedy.  It has a wonderful anything goes sort of approach and remains intriguing even in the few moments where it struggles a bit.

Tarzan Triumphs (1943)
Maureen O’Sullivan’s Jane may be absent from this installment but bottom line is...Tarzan battles Nazis!  Heck, even Cheetah picks up a gun and blasts a few!  Beat that!

Psycho II (1983)
Perhaps I avoided this one for so long because I was afraid of my love for Hitchcock’s original being tainted.  However, Psycho II manages to be a worthy follow-up.  Very different from the original, but it needed to be.  Anthony Perkins is great, once again, as Norman.  I also really enjoyed Meg Tilly and loved the twist on Vera Miles’ character from the original.

The Pirate Movie (1980)
Wonderfully awful spoof/remake of the Pirates of Penzance.  Even features an animation sequence accompanying a dreadful song called “Pumpin’ and Blowin’.”  Along with Xanadu and Grease 2 this may very well have killed the movie musical.

Red-Headed Woman (1932)
Steamy pre-code featuring Jean Harlow as a woman out to earn a place in society by snagging her married boss.  Harlow, a mere 21 years old at the time this was made, sets the screen on fire.  Una Merkel is also a lot of fun as her best friend.

Shocker (1989)
Wes Craven may not have been able to create the next Freddy Krueger with this film, but it still manages to be fun little horror romp.  Some aspects of the film are just plain over-the-top, but the film has enough craziness, especially from the killer played by Mitch Pileggi, to be quite entertaining.

The Swinging Cheerleaders (1974)
The title would suggest a goofy teen sex comedy, but Jack Hill's film is surprisingly serious with a few exploitation elements thrown in.  The characters actually have some depth to them!  It gets a bit silly toward the end, but is, for the most part, an effective drama...that happens to be about wild cheerleaders.

Zapped! (1982)
This one really is a goofy teen sex comedy, but I was surprised at how good-natured and entertaining it was.  Scott Baio is surprisingly effective as a lovable doofus who develops psychic powers, which his buddy Willie Aames decides is best used getting girls’ tops to pop open.  Felice Schacter, who like Molly Ringwald was dumped after the first season of The Facts of Life, makes for one of the great nerdy but cute girls of the 80’s.

Employees’ Entrance (1933)
Warren William plays one of the most despicable characters in movie history in this pre-code tale of nastiness at a giant department store.  His performance is fantastic, as is Loretta Young who I can only describe as hypnotic.

Return to Horror High (1987)
Fun poke at the 80’s slasher genre.  Focuses on the production of horror movie at the real-life location of a series of bloody killings.  With its movie-within-a-movie gimmick, it manages to play with the viewer’s minds as to what is real and what is for the camera.  Features George Clooney in an early role and Marcia Brady herself, Maureen McCormick, as a somewhat twisted cop.

The Great Gildersleeve (1942)
Harold Peary brings his famous radio character to the screen in this first big-screen adventure.  Features a cast of skilled comedic performers, including young Freddie Mercer as Leroy.  Peary is given several opportunities for physical comedy as well, which of course wouldn’t have played on radio, and proves quite talented in that area.

Krush Groove (1985)
Fictionalized telling of the founding of Def Jam Records and the early days of 80’s rap.  Features some great performances by Sheila E, Run DMC, The Fat Boys and the Beastie Boys.  That is, it features some great MUSICAL performances...the acting is not so hot.  Still, I was as surprised as anyone that I enjoyed this flick.

Death in Small Doses (1957)
Terror on highways as our nation’s truckers sucomb to popping pills.  Chuck Connors turns in a wonderfully crazy-eyed performance as a trucker who can’t kick the habit partnered with Peter Graves’ undercover FDA man.

Macabre (1958)
William Castle’s first film, for which viewers were famously issued insurance policies to protect against dying of fright.  It’s really more of a suspense film than a horror flick, but effectively done, none the less.  In true Castle style, it also has a darkly comedic streak to it.

Pumpkinhead (1988)
Monster maker Stan Winston proves to be a skilled horror movie director too with this 80’s horror flick.  It’s a simple story but skillfully done with a great monster at its center.  Lance Henriksen is solid in this one, as is the movie’s “final girl” Cynthia Bain.  A loving salute to classic monster movies with an 80’s twist.

Disco Godfather (1979)
Unintentionally hilarious final gasp of the blaxpolitation genre.  Rudy Ray Moore plays an ex-cop turned disco club owner turned vigilante out to rid his neighborhood of the evils of angel dust.  A terrible movie which I had the time of my life watching!

1 comment:

Marty McKee said...

Shatner was (is?) a terrific actor, and it was considered a major coup when Joe D'Agosta landed him for the lead in STAR TREK. As he aged and fell into the sausage factory of episodic TV without strong directors to handle him, he got lazy. Nick Meyer says he found that Shatner got better, the more takes he did. I don't know the last time Shatner challenged himself in a role, and it would be interesting to see.

Jack Hill directed THE SWINGING CHEERLEADERS.