Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Film Discoveries of 2015 - Todd Liebenow ""

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Film Discoveries of 2015 - 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 was just a guest on the show (talking about MIDNIGHT MADNESS):
https://forgottenfilmcast.wordpress.com/2016/01/25/forgotten-filmcast-ep-65-midnight-madness/
Todd also has another podcast called "Walt Sent Me" all about Disney films:
http://waltsentmepodcast.podomatic.com/
He also writes 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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Airport (1970) / Airport 1975 (1975) / Airport ‘77 (1977) / The Concorde...Airport ‘79 (1979)
I had the great privilege of being on a podcast covering all four Airport films earlier this year. I’d never seen any of them and was thrilled at how enjoyable all the films are. The first installment is a solid thriller and is arguably the film that gave birth to the 70’s disaster movie trend. The sequels just get crazier and crazier as the series goes on, but they are still incredibly entertaining. The casts of these films are an incredible mix of 70’s stars mixed with old Hollywood personalities having one final go at it. It’s like the guest list for a Love Boat episode gone crazy. But leading the way through all these films is the amazing George Kennedy as Joe Patroni. The man can do it all, and he does in these films!
House of Wax (1953)
This may be one of Vincent Price’s finest moments as an actor. He creates a villain to be feared but who we also can’t help but sympathize with. His performance is masterful. It also includes nice performances from Carolyn Jones and (of all people) Charles Bronson as Igor. Eerie and beautifully photographed, this is 50’s horror at its best.
Ninja III: The Domination (1984)
It’s a ninja film mixed with The Exorcist, plus a pinch of Flashdance. This is perhaps the ultimate example of the madness that was Cannon Films in the 80’s. The plot is wonderfully ridiculous, yet the ninja action is quite good. It’s got a floating ninja sword...a video game machine that hypnotizes people...and the sexy Lucinda Dickey seducing her man by pouring V8 juice on her neck. What more could you want?

Spider Baby (1968)
Creepy, disturbing, and funny all at the same time, Jack Hill’s Spider Baby is a unique horror film that grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. It features several outstanding performances, especially from Lon Chaney Jr. Jill Banner, and Sid Haig. Hill manages to take several things from the Universal horror playbook but twist it around into something altogether different.
The Long, Long Trailer (1954)
Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz bring the fantastic comedic chemistry they displayed on their classic sitcom to the big screen in this story of a newlywed couple who try to live on the road in a trailer. Ball especially gets to show off her flare for physical comedy in some sequences clearly inspired by the great slapstick comedians of the silent era.
Blue Collar (1978)
Paul Schrader’s directing debut is a hard-hitting drama about three auto workers who try to rob their union office. With the likes of Harvey Keitel and Yaphet Kotto on board, great performances are expected. But it is Richard Pryor who steals the show in a dramatic role that will break your heart while still providing a few laughs at just the right moments.
Tickle Me (1965)
While certainly not one of the upper echelon Elvis films, Tickle Me is a fun little musical comedy with the King working on a dude ranch full of lovely ladies. Jocelyn Lane makes a great leading lady for Presley, and you’ve also got the Gill-man’s main squeeze Julie Adams putting the moves on him as well. The film does deteriorate into a strange haunted house comedy in the final act, but overall it’s a fun little diversion.
Invasion U.S.A. (1985)
Who needs a Department of Homeland Security when you’ve got Chuck Norris? He single handedly takes down Richard Lynch’s terrorists in gloriously over-the-top ways. It’s got a car chase inside a mall that rivals The Blues Brothers, and an amazing sequence where the filmmakers got to blow up an actual suburban subdivision that was due to be demolished in order to expand the Atlanta airport. This movie is nuts and I loved every minute of it.

The Warriors (1979)
I’m ashamed to admit it took me so long to finally see this one. I loved the simplicity of the story and the otherworldly feel director Walter Hill creates. I desperately want to watch this on a double bill with Hill’s underappreciated 1984 flick Streets of Fire. A part of me is convinced they take place in the same universe.

Tall Story (1960)
Jane Fonda and Anthony Perkins are great as mismatched couple navigating their way through love and college. Fonda is actually qutie funny as a character who represents just about everything the real life Fonda would be vocally against just a few years later.
Gilda Live (1980)
Great little concert film, directed by Mike Nichols, showcasing a live stage production from the late 70’s featuring Gilda Radner. She does many of her most famous characters from the early days of SNL. Don Novello also has some great moments as Father Guido Sarducci.
Wicked, Wicked (1973)
This film utilizes the miracle of “Duo-Vision!” We see the action unfold from two different angles, with the screen split down the middle. Yes, it’s gimmicky, but I really dug it. The film centers on a killer on the loose in a large hotel. The same hotel used in Some Like it Hot, as a matter of fact. The movie is part slasher film...slightly Hitchcockian...all wrapped around a silly but fun gimmick that would’ve made William Castle proud.

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