Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Kino Lorber Studio Classics - FINDERS KEEPERS, FUZZ and BIGGLES on Blu-ray ""

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Kino Lorber Studio Classics - FINDERS KEEPERS, FUZZ and BIGGLES on Blu-ray

FINDERS KEEPERS (1984; Richard Lester)
Any movie that begins with a mustached Ed Lauter committing a heist whilst peppy 80s easy-listening tunes play has my immediate attention. Follow that with a scene of Michael O'Keefe being chased by an angry women's roller derby team through the streets of Oakland to the strains of The Beach Boys' "I Get Around" and I'm fully invested. Now I've been a Michael O'Keefe fan since CADDYSHACK, but I've always preferred him as more of a fast-talking, sarcastic wise guy than he was in that film. He can play charismatic, offbeat and hilarious along the lines of Chevy Chase if given the opportunity and I find that a director like Richard Lester can bring out the best in his comedic abilities. Now, Lester is a well-known filmmaker to cinephiles and Beatles fans - having most famously been the man behind the camera for A HARD DAY'S NIGHT as well as HELP! and 60s gems like THE KNACK....AND HOW TO GET IT, HOW I WON THE WAR and PETULIA. He's also well known for SUPERMAN II and III,  but FINDERS KEEPERS is one of his lesser-seen efforts. It's an enjoyable farce precipitated on a couple fellas (O'Keefe and Ed Lauter) trying to avoid the authorities while riding a train to New York City. It's kind of a goofy, Altman-esque farce with a coffin full of money at the center (the film was also known as CASH CASH). Along the way, we meet a cavalcade of oddballs like a trampy actress (Beverly D'Angelo), a near-scenile railroad conductor (David Wayne), an old-school con man (Louis Gossett Jr.), an imbecile deserter (a very young Jim Carrey) and a small-town mayor (Brian Dennehy). While not quite on the same level of crazed lunacy as something like IT'S A MAD MAD MAD MAD WORLD (which I personally am not a huge fan of), it's still runs along those lines. It's also got a very enjoyable Buster Keaton-esque ending set piece that's pretty fantastic. As a throwback screwball comedy, it's quite delightful and I recommend checking it out. Plus the cover artwork comes from the original poster which featured the stylings of the great Mort Drucker (of Mad Magazine fame), which reminds me of my Jack Davis (one of my all-time favorites). Fun soundtrack too (with Supertramp and Don McLean among others).

Buy FINDERS KEEPERS on Blu-ray here:
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FUZZ (1972; Richard A. Colla)
What better name for a Burt Reynolds movie than FUZZ. the king of the 70s mustache 
Interestingly, some of the movie has S bit of the Robert Altman feel, even though he did not direct it. Some scenes play in wide shots where we can see many characters moving around a space while their dialogue overlaps and there is a general fly-on-the-wall approach combined with improvisational performances. What's neat is that it gives an opportunity for cinephiles to see an approximation of what it might have been like to see Burt Reynolds and Raquel Welch in an Altman film from this period. While there's a good amount of humor in parts, there's also a healthy amount of drama and darkness mixed in which makes the movie an unusual mixture of tonal strands. It's in a similar ballpark to BUSTING, but not as good and without the great partner back and forth repartee that Elliott Gould and Robert Blake have in that film.  The excellent character actor-filled cast includes Jack Weston, Tom Skerritt, and
Burt Remsen. The movie even has some semi-comedic scenes with Weston and Burt Reynolds disguised as nuns on a surveillance detail and later interrogating a suspect while still in costume. I always find it fascinating to see seventies films in which Jack Weston was given leading roles. He's an excellent character actor and the trend of giving his kind of performer more prominent roles was a trope from that decade that I have always loved. It's also a memorable choice that Yul Brynner is in the movie, but doesn't show up until more than an hour into it. It's also cool to see Raquel Welch play a cop. Plus, Burt Reynolds has a pretty cool fire stunt early in the movie that I have to give him props for doing himself.
Special Features:
The disc features a new audio commentary from director Richard A. Colla moderated by filmmaker Elijah Drenner. Colla speaks about how the film came about and happens to mention that he was unaware that Brian De Palma had been attached to this movie before he came on board - which is quite intriguing. As commentaries go, Drenner does a solid job moderating (as usual), but really has to prompt Colla a lot to keep him talking. Despite that, there's still a good amount of interesting tidbits to be found here.
Also included is the Trailers From Hell version of the movie's trailer with commentary from screenwriter Josh Olson (one of my favorite TFH commentators).
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Jim Ferguson has a problem. He's trying to keep his company "Celebrity Dinners" afloat, but he keeps falling through a hole in time that takes him back to 1917. He's been selected for a special mission you see. He has to help his "time twin" James "Biggles" Biggelsworth, a British pilot, with stopping the Germans from using a special weapon during World War I. As you might expect, Ferguson takes a while to understand what's going on and get used to the whole time travel thing. It has a very SLAUGHTER HOUSE FIVE kind of vibe to it. Outside of the fun of the back and forth in time, this film also has Peter Cushing (in his final film role) and quite a bit of enjoyable low-flying stunt work (the kind that looks a little reckless and unsafe by today's standards). The movie seems to have developed something of a following since it came out on home video (particularly in The UK from what I've gathered). And though it doesn't quite reach the memorably quirky levels of certain cult films from this period, fans of time travel movies will absolutely appreciate it. It's from director John Hough who did other neat films like THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE, WATCHER IN THE WOODS and DIRTY MARY, CRAZY LARRY.

Special Features:
-Interview with Star Neil Dickson.
-Interview with Star Alex Hyde-White.

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