|Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee|
Monday, September 26, 2022
Thursday, September 15, 2022
There were other details that set the Big Sur fest of 1969 apart from the other aforementioned gatherings. Approximately 10-15,000 people attended Big Sur, as opposed to over 400,000 at Woodstock and over 300,000 at Altamont. Big Sur was well-organized and had all of the necessary facilities and human comforts. In plain English, there was plenty of food and water. And restrooms that worked.
The documentary film showcasing the festival was directed by Baird Bryant and Johanna Demekrakis. It wasn't released to theaters until 1971, whereas the films about Woodstock and Altamont were both released in 1970. CELEBRATION AT BIG SUR focused on the musical performances, but also featured scenes of the mostly young, hip crowd enjoying themselves. Since Big Sur wasn't a qualified disaster like the two more famous rock festivals, there was no serious drama or hardship to document. It had more in common with the beloved Monterey Pop Festival of 1967 and the excellent film it inspired.
|John Sebastian, Graham Nash, Joni Mitchell, David Crosby, and Stephen Stills|
Tuesday, August 30, 2022
|Patty Duke and James Farentino|
Friday, July 15, 2022
The Kino-Lorber Spring into Summer Sale is currently going on. (Also known as the Spring into Bankruptcy Sale.) Here are the titles I picked up.
Thursday, June 30, 2022
James (Jimmy) Lydon plays college student Paul Cartwright who, through a series of troubling dreams, is convinced that his family, especially his mother, is in danger from a mysterious, unscrupulous man. He then learns that his mother is engaged to marry a suave gentleman she barely knows. Paul sets out, with the help of family friends, to expose this man and save his mother from ruining, and perhaps losing, her life.
Mr. Ulmer usually has a talent for creating intriguing atmosphere despite budget limitations and time restraints. But, apart from s few interesting moments during the dream sequences, this film doesn't generate much mystery, and the story itself isn't all that involving. Jimmy Lydon was a talented, likable actor who was especially adept at comedy. In fact, he is mostly remembered for playing teenager Henry Aldrich in a series of popular B-movies at Paramount. But he overacts in this movie to the point where his character is hard to take seriously. Veteran actors Warren William, Sally Eilers, and Regis Toomey fare somewhat better. Still, STRANGE ILLUSION is a fun programmer to watch if you happen to like films of this type (I do!), but a big disappointment considering the director.
Jimmy Lydon continued his long career as an actor into the 1970's. He also worked in television production, and was instrumental in the creation of two hit series: 77 SUNSET STRIP and M*A*S*H. He died on March 9, 2022, at the age of 98.
|Jimmy Lydon, left, in the 1940's, and right, at a screening of STRANGE ILLUSION in 2013.|
Tuesday, June 28, 2022
Bogart plays Frank Taylor, a factory worker. Frank and his wife, Ruth (Erin O'Brien-Moore) have a young son, Buddy (Dickie Jones). Frank is hoping for a promotion at his job, one he feels he deserves. But the promotion is given to a younger man, Joe Dombrowski (Henry Brandon), considered by Frank and some other co-workers as a "foreigner", not a true American. Frank's bitterness leads him to join a secret organization called the Black Legion, a group that preaches hate against foreigners who are seen as trying to take over the country. The group attacks Dombrowski and his father at their home, set fire to their property, and drive them out of town. Frank's involvement with the group causes a strain in his marriage. It also causes a conflict with his best friend, Ed Jackson (Dick Foran) and Ed's fiance, Betty Grogan (Ann Sheridan).
When Ruth finds out the truth about the group's beliefs and actions, and decides to take Buddy and leave, Frank begins to pull away from the group. But he knows that he won't be able to break away completely. The members of the group swear to an oath that any attempt to leave or reveal information about the group will be punishable by death. This inevitably leads to tragedy.
I don't want to spoil the movie for anyone who hasn't yet seen it. Suffice it to say there are a few surprises as the story comes to its climax, and there is no attempt to come up with a happy ending. In fact, I found the ending to this film nearly as haunting as the final scene in I AM A FUGITIVE FROM A CHAIN GANG (1932).
|The Black Legion holds an initiation ceremony.|
It is a credit to Bogart's talent that Frank is sympathetic throughout most of the film, even though he engages in truly evil activity. Despite Frank's initially enthusiastic embrace of the Legion's hateful beliefs, it soon becomes clear that the man is tortured by what he's doing. Bogart is supported by a fine cast of actors, many of them Warner contract players. Erin O'Brien-Moore brings the right amount of tension and emotion to her role as Frank's wife. Dick Foran, adept at playing likable working-class men, is effective as Frank's best friend. Ann Sheridan, working hard in her own apprenticeship years before her "Oomph Girl" phase began, manages to standout as the second female lead. Good work also by Joseph Sawyer as Cliff Moore, Frank's co-worker who brings him to his first Legion meeting. Also featured are Helen Flint, John Litel, Dorothy Vaughan, and Samuel Hinds.