Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated '78 - Three Oranges ""

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Underrated '78 - Three Oranges

Three Oranges is one of those internet people. Movies, music and books fill his time when he's not working for the man. In his mind, he's free.

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Bell of Chirin (a.k.a. Chirin’s Bell, a.k.a. Ringing Bell)
Directed by Masami Hata
Sure, Disney was once very good at depressing children and putting them through minor traumas with their animated films, but they almost always had endings that were psychologically healthy in a conventionally accepted sort of way. Bambi, for instance, didn’t become obsessed with the hunter and try to learn the secrets of how to kill deer.

Say hello to Chirin. He does just that. It’s a wolf instead of a hunter, so there’s an added element of natural order to this (i.e., “this is how things are and more or less should be.”). Chirin himself is a farm-raised sheep, rather than a wild deer, cementing this theme further.

The character designs are gorgeous and the animation is stunning. Like the best Disney animation, there’s a compelling blend of disarmingly cute and genuinely terrifying scares, and then some. Watch it with a child to toughen him up and/or ruin his life.
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Bud & Lou
Directed by Robert C. Thompson
Is something “underrated” if it’s only interesting as a failure? Let’s just say yes. Bud and Lou is a made-for-TV biopic with two legendary comedians (Buddy Hackett and Harvey Corman) telling the story of two other legendary comedians (Lou Costello and Bud Abbott, respectively).

If nothing else, one would expect the recreations of the Abbott and Costello’s routines to be killer, right? Wrong . . . it’s almost as if Hackett and Corman have never seen their subjects on stage, on tape, on film, or heard them on the radio. This sort of comedy is dependent on rhythm, and together, these two have none. Individually, they have such a strong and personal comedic voices that they just can’t seem to let another voice in.

All that, and the movie has one of the most ridiculous death scenes put to film, courtesy of some truly awful dialogue about a strawberry malted.
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French Quarter
Directed by Dennis Kane
This odd little film comes from Crown International Pictures, the schlock factory responsible for, among other things, importing Sonny Chiba’s Street Fighter movies and producing several movies featured on MST3K. This one seems to be an attempt at a movie with a message.

It’s a mix of so many different elements that it’s tough to classify. It’s a coming-of-age story, and an historical slice of life, and a time travel adventure, and commentary on race and gender, and a simple love story and sometimes there’s nudity.

Although it covers the lives and loves of prostitutes and musicians in New Orleans from more than a century ago, it comes off like a wholesome afterschool special compared to something like Hulu’s Harlots. It also has more gratuitous soft focus . . . like someone smeared Vaseline on the lens.

A very young Bruce Davison is good in it, though. And Virginia Mayo!
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Inglorious Bastards
Directed by Enzo G. Castellari
Quentin Tarantino famously used the title, so maybe it’s not as underrated anymore, but Inglorious Bastards was just a forgotten bit of Italian exploitation once upon a time. We can all be thankful to Tarantino for pointing us back to it.

This one is almost quaint, though still not close to wholesome, when compared to some of Castellari’s more extreme output (e.g., 1990: The Bronx Warriors, Warriors of the Wasteland), but it also has a sense of playfulness that a lot of his movies lack.

Long story short: The Nazis have a nuke, and we gotta get it by any means necessary. If Bo Svenson has to bust some heads or Blaxploitation legend Fred Williamson needs to stop to frolic with some German gals in a swimming hole along the way, well . . . that’s all in a day’s work. Part war movie, part heist movie, all schlocky fun.
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Zoltan: Hound of Dracula
Directed by Albert Band
This one is directed by the other Band (i.e., not Charles) and it used to be available in those horror six packs that Anchor Bay churned out back when it was rare to find z-grade horror on DVD. For people of a certain age, that fact alone could drive some nostalgia.

Jose Ferrer is in it. His garbage movie career is almost as robust as John Carradine’s, but not quite. He adds old-school, journeyman actor class and gravitas to what is otherwise a pretty cheap affair.

And it’s not a bad little movie. Not a mind-blower by any stretch, it’s nonetheless a pleasantly moody low-budget vampire movie, except in every scene where one would expect to encounter some Eurotrash loser in a cape, one encounters ugly, angry dogs. If you’re the kind of schlock watcher who enjoys variations on a theme, this a good one to add to your mix.
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