On The Flip Side

It’s no secret that I’ve amassed a great deal of posters and films. Years back I used to clip out all sorts of articles and newspaper ads and glue them in a book or just let them pile up. Never one to throw anything out I now have an outlet for some of these clippings from the past.

I do wish that at the time I had taken better care of them. But at that time when I still wasn’t old enough to drive a car who knew I’d still be following and reading about many of the same film stars to this day let alone writing my own recollections about them.

What I began to notice after unearthing all this articles are the cut up promos that are on the flip side. These alone can stir up movie memories from years gone by. Have a look.

On one hand you can see the fondly remembered Stand By Me and then next day catch Reform School Girls.

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Before America fell in love with Jackie Chan we had to settle for……………

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A bunch of titles I wouldn’t have been aloud to see at my young age on this flip side. Tattoo not to mention the flicks playing at the “adult” theater. But I did see All the Marbles on TV eventually. At the time Peter Falk was not my main focal point if you recall the title.

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From Thursday August 28th, 1986. Here’s the weekly box office take list.

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I also found this clipping of a Sinatra show from TV Guide.

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Now for an interesting show on the flip side in the TV listings. Either you tuned in to Ol’ Blue Eyes or you checked out the other event for the night’s entertainment. Remember these? How about the list of names involved?

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Revisiting Stanley Kramer’s It’s a Mad, Mad , Mad, Mad World (1963)

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I grew up watching this flick repeatedly on Sunday afternoons and late night television. It has stayed with me ever since. I finally caught up with the recent Criterion blu ray release that did it’s best to put approximately 20 minutes of long gone footage or voice tracks back into the film. Truthfully it never hurt my enjoyment one bit and it gave both Mike Mazurki and Buster Keaton a bit more screen time among all the other shenanigans going on during it’s 3 hour run.

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It’s the one liners that stay with you timed with the comical situations the cast find themselves in.

As the film opens I’m already reciting Milton Berle’s opening line and slapping my palms together. “He went sailing right out there.”

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“Is he kidding?”

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“*Everybody* has to pay taxes!- Even businessmen, that rob and steal and cheat from people everyday, even *they* have to pay *taxes*! ”

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“Anybody can fly a plane, now here: I’ll check you out. Put your little hands on the wheel there. Now put your feet on the rudder. There. Who says this ol’ boy can’t fly this ol’ plane? Now I’m gonna make us some Old Fashioneds the old-fashioned way – the way dear old Dad used to! ”

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“Harvard? Rather not. I’m English. ”

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” I’m coming. That’s what I’m here for. That’s why you had me, Mama, to save you. ”

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“You shut up! We’re gonna get that money. Keep driving! ”

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The gags keep coming fast as do the incredible amount of well known faces and Hollywood legends.

“Do you love you’re country?

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Through it all we have the one actor who isn’t a comedian. Though he was not well by the time of this films production and it’s easy to see his stand in during the climatic race, Spencer Tracy has always been the supreme example of an actor who never gets caught acting on screen.

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If you haven’t noticed, I love this film!

If you have no idea what a “Big W” is then get to it and watch this classic filled with so many faces from the past. There’s bound to be a favorite or two or three or……

Alien Thunder (1974)

aka Dan Candy’s Law

Throughout his long and active career, Donald Sutherland has maintained a presence in his homeland of Canada and returned to it for this authentic looking story of a manhunt conducted by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

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Thunder was filmed in Saskatchewan where the story seems to take place around the 1900 mark. Donald in full Mountie attire has his duties to carry out when an Indian played by Gordon Tootoosis leaves the reservation and slaughters a cow bringing the meat back to the reserve for the hungry. Along with his partner Kevin McCarthy they arrest their man and return him to the jail house. In somewhat of a drunken stupor Don teases the captive that he’s sure to hang in the morning. News of the escape reaches a hungover Don in the morning.

The problems escalate when McCarthy attempts to take Tootoosis back on his own and is shot down leaving Donald to find his cold body on the prairies. Vengeance is sworn. McCarthy had a wife and young son that Donald feels beholden too.

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Leading the natives at the reserve and offering no help to Donald’s vengeance is Chief Dan George. Chief Dan was by this time turning up in both TV and movies at a late age and would find everlasting fame opposite Clint Eastwood’s Josie Wales.

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Without the support of his commanding officer, Donald sets out onto the plains to exact his revenge minus his red coat. It becomes a game of cat and mouse where the tables begin to turn and the Indian outlaw soon takes his chance with a couple other braves at bushwacking Sutherland.

Apparently based on a true story and if legend is correct that “the Mounties always get their man” then one should suspect the outcome of this Claude Fournier film that he is also credited with photography on. The credited crew list on Thunder is sprinkled with French Canadian names and many of the supporting cast speak English with the heavy Quebecois accent.

On the minus side the movie unfortunately looks somewhat amateurish far too often though at times there is some striking images and scenic beauty to behold. Too much of the film is carried out in long shots with very little close ups used to break up the story telling. Sutherland’s performance gets lost and the lack of a better script only fails to flesh out his character for me.

On the plus side many of the images focusing on the native people carry an honesty to them that is appreciated and the film does display a pioneering spirit.

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Trivia buffs like myself cannot overlook the fact that both Donald Sutherland and Kevin McCarthy share the early scenes together before the plot is set in motion. For those who don’t immediately make the connection, Kevin played the lead in the 1956 classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers while Donald starred in the top notch remake of 1978. Kevin actually played a walk on role in the remake giving the audience quite a jolt.

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Thunder or Dan Candy’s Law has turned up in countless low budget editions but recently Scorpion Releasing released a HD master from the original negative which puts this one far up the ladder from the many low grade releases found in bargain bins over the years.

The Mummy Movie Poster gallery

My earliest memory of seeing the Mummy in action (slow motion if you prefer) is that of Lon Chaney as Kharis being burned up in a house fire with silky smooth Turhan Bey as his handler. If I recall correctly it was back when the Universal classics would appear on late Friday night airings. I know that’s when I first saw Frankenstein with Karloff and Colin Clive.

I never actually caught up to Boris and the 1932 film for many years after that. By then I had read countless articles and chapters on the film and knew more about  it than many films I had seen. Stories about the long lost footage of the many reincarnations of actress Zita Johann’s character Helen Grosvenor.

With the Kharis films came Chaney and a slew of evil doers issuing the famed tana leaves. George Zucco, the aforementioned Turhan Bey, John Carradine and Martin Kosleck.

“Anck-es-en-Amon, my love has lasted longer than the temples of our gods. No man ever suffered as I did for you. ”

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“He went for a little walk.”

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“For who shall defile the temples of the ancient gods, a cruel and violent death shall be his fate, and never shall his soul find rest unto eternity.”

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And along came Lon……………….

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John Carradine in fine form as Yousef Bay covets the Princess Ananka for himself against the will of Kharis.

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“It’s as though I were two different people. Sometimes it seems as if I belong to a different world. I find myself in strange surroundings with strange people. I cannot ever seem to find rest! And now Kharis! ”

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Bud and Lou chipped in with another of their “Meet” films and then came Lee and Cushing putting the “Hammer” down.

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Hammer had other titles in their catalogue and other films have turned up over the years including the reboot series for the CGI crowd. Even Tony (Stony) Curtis got in on the Mummy action late in his career in a rather guilty pleasure.

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Albino Alligator (1996)

Much like a stage play, this violent effort was a career first for actor Kevin Spacey in that he is the film’s director.

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It’s a straight forward story with a compelling twist to those involved in a hostage taking plot line with a top notch cast assembled here for the proceedings led by Matt Dillon, Gary Sinise and William Fichtner.

Our trio of low life criminals find themselves fleeing the scene of a break in when they set off a series of alarms. Speeding from the scene in a stolen car they happen through a late night stake out where the police are trying to keep a watchful eye on a suspect who shall remain off camera. Confusion ensues for the police officers and more than one of them will wind up dead by pure mishap.

Our threesome ditch their car and head into all all night gin joint and quickly find themselves thrust into a hostage taking scene when the police show up outside led by Joe Mategna. What Dillon and company don’t yet realize is that the police aren’t here for them. They believe the man from their stakeout is the one holding the gun and the hostages in terror.

Assembled inside the dive bar we have another talented group. M. Emmet Walsh and gorgeous Faye Dunaway work the bar while John Spencer, Skeet Ulrich and Viggo Mortensen are to be found enjoying a brew.

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Tensions rise between the trio of thieves who are not about to be captured. Fichtner is a loose cannon of a hothead who isn’t to be trusted with a gun, Dillon appears to be the head man who isn’t too sure of what to do and Sinise is the level headed member of the gang who doesn’t want any part in killing hostages.

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As dangerous as Fichtner is, he can’t be all that bad. After all he’s looking for Johnny Paycheck songs on the corner jukebox. He also has the flashiest role as the caged animal who is totally unpredictable.

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The situation runs it’s course with twists down the stretch that may not be to everyone’s liking but there’s no denying that this ensemble cast does a good job with the material. It’s also a nice blend of up and comers along with the established Faye.

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Mantegna has a great scene with a local news lady interviewing him for the evening edition while Viggo plays his role as a French Canadian in a very low key style. It’s this low key role that offers the hoodlum trio the best advice they’re to recieve all night as to how they should defuse the situation they have found themselves in.

There’s a nice nod to the great gangster stars of the thirties on the wall of the bar. A giant poster of Cagney in G Men and another of Bogie behind the bar. It should be noted that one could argue this film plays to the gangster genre in the same vein as Bogie’s breakthrough film The Petrified Forest did way back in 1936.

Whether you like this stage bound gangland flick or not one should always remember “the Stanton – Walsh rule.”

If the above rule is something you’re not familiar with then give google a try and see if you agree. I generally do but have been known to bend it to my liking.

Shoot the Sun Down (1978)

Influenced with a heavy dose of Italian westerns this David Leeds directed effort stars Christopher Walken in the role of the mysterious gunfighter with very little to say.

Riding the territory of New Mexico in 1836 he comes upon an odd assortment of characters who are keeping a close eye on one another as they journey deeper into dangerous Apache lands.

Bo Brundin plays a ships captain out of place in the deep barren deserts of New Mexico who has brought with him  Margot Kidder as a woman who is contracted for five years to be his woman or slave if you prefer. Kidder’s brought along a wide assortment of gowns and dresses which photograph quite nicely with the sands as a backdrop. Brundin isn’t saying much about his destination but he has caught the interest of a gang of cutthroats and scalp hunters led by Geoffrey Lewis.

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Into this odd blend of characters comes Walken as “the Stranger” known as Rainbow. He’s fast with a gun and equally adept at throwing knives. He’ll soon make a friend with an Indian tribe led by A Martinez. This union will prove helpful to our star player in a later reel.

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The meandering plot involves Montezuma’s gold and Geoffrey Lewis’ unsavory character trying to ensure that he will be the one to walk away with it. He’s constantly playing the odds with both Walken and Brundin in the hopes of partnering up.

Over the course of this location shoot there will be double crosses and men staked out in the hot sun to die before the final shot is fired. Just who is left standing at the end shouldn’t come as a surprise yet I must admit to liking Lewis in practically anything and was kind of pulling for him.

1978 proved to be a big year for all three of the star names here. Kidder landed the role of Lois Lane in Superman opposite Christopher Reeve, Walken won an Oscar for The Deer Hunter and Lewis played Clint Eastwood’s sidekick Orville in the box office smash Every Which Way But Loose.

Playing like a Spaghetti western this is a very “pretty” film to look at but I found it bogged down in the middle before ramping up at the conclusion. On the blu ray edition I snagged there was an alternate opening credit sequence that I kind of liked with a theme song sung by Kinky Friedman.

As it stands the music score by Ed Bogas and Judy Munsen was quite good anyway so all wasn’t lost on the cutting room floor.

I was not at all aware of this title till stumbling across it on the recent Kino Lorber release. While it isn’t necessarily very memorable it does have two of my favorite character actors in Walken and Lewis. I say this despite the fact that when this was released I didn’t think much of Walken until the years rolled by and he became somewhat of a cult icon. Geoffrey Lewis never attained that status but if you love seventies cinema it’s practically impossible not to know him by face if not by name.

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For the trivia buffs the credits list Sacheen Littlefeather as one of the featured players. If the name isn’t familiar then you may recall she accepted the Oscar for Marlon Brando’s Godfather performance.

For those looking for something a bit different this art house styled spaghetti western knock off might be just the thing on a rainy afternoon.

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Planning The Week Ahead in TV Guide and a Heston Curio

I for one couldn’t wait for Mom to bring home next weeks TV Guide so I could go through it day by day and mark the columns with red X’s to remind myself what to watch or set the VCR to tape once we got one of those in the house. Network premiers usually ensured a half page ad or on occasion the full Monty. These days my excitement is generally reserved for looking over next months TCM schedule anticipating those long lost classics or the upcoming DVD releases scheduled to hit the store shelves and find there way to my personal library.

Event Television with Jimmy Coburn and Sophia in the Michael Winner actioner.

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Disaster films have plagued us both theatrically and on the small screen since the early days of film. Here’s a couple of titles that played prominently as films of the week and were promptly forgotten. Might I add for good recent. City On Fire was a Canadian production filmed in Montreal that failed to find a theatrical backer and wound up dumped on TV as a movie of the week if I recall correctly.

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Here’s a grouping of half page ads from various titles I clipped out when I was filling the scrapbook so many years ago.

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With these films starting nightly at 9 it was always a tug of war as to whether or not I would be allowed to see them or not. To this day I still haven’t seen Search and Destroy with George Kennedy.

Growing up on all things Heston as I have pointed out many times it was cool to find out that the man who traveled to The Planet of the Apes was coming to Canada to star in and direct a new movie. I wasn’t quite aware that his star was waning by this time and was a bit disappointed that the Motherlode never turned up at the local theater to my recollection. Thankfully the VHS solved the problem and this eerie little thriller found a way into our home for a weekend rental. Here’s an interesting article from our local newspaper dated December of 1981.

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Don’t mess with Chuck’s Mother Lode! He’s warning you.

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