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Recalling “The 50 Worst Films of all Time”

By Harry Medved and Randy Dreyfuss.

Somewhere in the piles or boxes of books around here I have a dog eared copy of The Golden Turkey Book Awards. I remember buying it pretty much when It came out and thought this was something a bit different. What I remember about it most might be that Ed Wood was given the award for worst director. All this brings me to an exercise I thought we might enjoy together. Listing out the 50 titles in this volume first issued in 1978.

I’m breaking it down to those I’ve seen and those I haven’t. Maybe a quick line or two on each of my seen list. Feel free to let me know your own opinions and if I should be making the effort to catch up with those on my “not seen just yet” list.

On to the 50.

Seen List.

Airport ’75 (1974) No way should heroic Heston be on this list.

The Ambushers (1966) Really? There were far worse Bond take-offs than old Dino’s Matt Helm flicks.

The Big Noise (1944) Kind of rough on Stan and Ollie if you ask me.

Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number (1966) Far from Bob Hope’s best and he was getting a bit long in the tooth but 50 worst?

Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974) $&^%&** What are these guys thinking? We’re talking Warren Oates and Sam Peckinpah here!

Che! (1969) Been years but don’t recall it being very good. I kind of like Leonard Maltin’s comment, “You haven’t lived until you’ve seen Jack Palance play Fidel Castro.”

The Conqueror (1956) Good or bad it’s the toll it took on the cast that makes this movie one of the saddest behind the scenes stories in film history. Proud to have an original half sheet in the collection.

Dick Tracy Vs. Cueball (1946) Hey, I kind of like these Tracy films.

Godzilla Vs. The Smog Monster (1972) So the Big G was in a funk but I thought there were some worse entries than this one.

The Horror of Party Beach  (1964) Yeah it’s bad but that title had me looking to see this one for years.

Hurry Sundown (1967) All I recall is this being boring to a young teenager.

Jet Attack (1957) Could this be the worst of John Agar’s many low budget affairs?

King Richard and the Crusaders (1954) Juvenile but it does have Virginia Mayo.

Myra Breckinridge (1970) Honestly I recall very little about this other than it’s atrocious reputation and Raquel’s glossy photos.

Northwest Mounted Police (1940) Come on it’s still got Gary Cooper.

The Omen (1976) (&%$%&*( X 2. Now this is a movie I refer to as one of my favorite horror films so these two authors can go …………

Parnell (1937) Not exactly Clark Gable’s brightest moment but that’s in the casting. Myrna Loy looks ravishing.

Return of Sabata (1972) Why pick on this Lee Van Cleef effort when God’s Gun was clearly worse.

Robot Monster (1953) It’s bad but if seen in a room full of bad film fans it might prove hilarious.

Santa Claus Conquers The Martians (1963) Boring if I recall correctly.

Say One For Me (1959) Why pick on Bing?

Solomon and Sheba (1959) Sadly Tyrone Power died during filming but the end result isn’t that bad with Yul Brynner taking his place.

Spinout (1966) So what makes Spinout any worse than Easy Come, Easy Go or any number of later Elvis movies?

Three On a Couch (1966) I’ll bet if these writers were French there wouldn’t be any Jerry Lewis titles in here.

Trouble Man (1972) FLAG! A flag on the play cause this is a damned good blaxploitation flick.

So incredibly I have seen exactly half of the 50 titles included in the Medved/Dreyfuss book.

Looking for help on the 25 I’ve yet to see.

Abraham Lincoln (1930)

Alakazam The Great (1961)

Assassination of Trotsky (1972 I’m interested in this one because it stars Richard Burton and Alain Delon.

At Long Last Love (1975)

Daughter of the Jungle (1949)

Dondi (1961) I do have this one on the shelf from the Warner Archive Collection.

Eegah! (1962) I’m kind of embarrassed to state I have yet to see this one.

The Goldwyn Follies (1938)

Ivan The Terrible 1 and 2 (1946-47)

Jamaica Inn (1939) Hitchcock makes the list?

Jonathan Livingston Seagull (1973)

The Last Movie (1971) This Dennis Hopper film will be moving to the seen list shortly as it’s been restored and released on blu ray.

Last Year at Marienbad (1962)

Lost Horizon (1973) Pretty sure I have a copy of this around here somewhere so should I dig it out of the pile?

New Moon (1940)

A Place For Lovers (1969) Not Faye!

The Story of Mankind (1957) Here’s another one I have a copy of and really should make an effort to see if it lives up to it’s foul reputation.

Swamp Women (1955) The requisite Roger Corman entry?

Swing Your Lady (1938) Bogie makes the list?

The Terror of Tiny Town (1938) No way could a film like this get made today.

That Hagen Girl (1947) Shirley Temple all grown up and it’s over despite appearing opposite the eventual leader of the free world.

Trial of Billy Jack, The (1974) Kind of thought the first one was a dud. Maybe you had to be there and don’t hold it against me but I say the same thing about Easy Rider during some of the scenes.

Twilight on The Rio Grande (1948) Gene Autry was a pretty successful singing cowboy so I doubt if this ranking hurt his pride too much.

Valley of the Dolls (1967) That’s right, I’ve never seen it.

Zabriskie Point (1970)

So how many of the fifty have you seen? Any strong opinions like mine concerning Alfredo Garcia and the Omen? Any recommendations on the 25 I’ve yet to see?

 

34 Comments »

  1. Thanks for printing the list. Marienbad is the kind of film destined to be considered a turkey by people interested only in mainstream product. Zabriskie Point improves with age to the point that I consider it one of Antonioni’s greatest films. (See my review if you’re interested why I feel that way). Valley of the Dolls is truly dreadful in a way only expensive Hollywood product can be dreadful. And Ivan the Terrible is certainly a challenge to anyone’s expectations, but tremendously inventive film making.

      • And Tarzan was an embarrassment to Richard Harris. After completing his part of the picture, Harris took CAMELOT, which by now he owned the set and costumes, on the road. When the movie was about to be released, Harris was at the Orpheum in Minneapolis. He had never seen the movie, ‘hardly ever watched the bloody dailies’ he was in. He said making itt was the worse experience in his movie career. ‘But how can anybody make a bad Tarzan movie?’
        He rented the Cooper movie theater for a private pre-showing, with popcorn and wine, for the cast and crew of CAMELOT after one of the nightly performances.
        We had 2 shows the next day and I declined the invitation. The movie was a disaster. Richard sat there as his audience moaned and groaned and some even walked out.
        Finally, Richard stood up and bellowed, ‘This bloody movie is the worse I have ever seen let alone worked on.’
        The next day he kept apologizing for the movie and subjecting his friends to the ‘bloody fiasco’ , off- stage during the Camelot performances.

  2. I know lists are there to promote discussion, but this is actually a very poor one. Sure there are some dreadful movies there – unlike one of the guys above I think Zabriskie Point fully deserves its place – but there are a lot which are just weak or not as good as they might have been. Lists like this leave me wondering if the compilers have really seen very many movies overall!

  3. I always hated the “Golden Turkeys” thing and am so glad all that has now passed. Didn’t someone call Michael Medved (Harry’s brother) a right wing political
    commentator posing as a film critic?
    Pretty scattershot and at times pointless selections and no W.Lee Wilder; MANBEAST with the non existent Rock Madison is not only dreadful but totally boring,
    but Wilder’s MAN WITHOUT A BODY is anything but…a trash addict’s wildest dream!
    JET ATTACK (1958) has nothing to do with The Duke it’s an AIP project with John Agar,Audrey Totter and Greg Walcott.

    • ahhhh, here I thought they meant Jet Pilot on that damn list. lol. Now I gotta go back and check if I screwed up as a know it all or if I meant to type Pilot but instead out Attack in it’s place. Either way there are plenty of titles I can come up with that out far worse than some most included here. Cheers’

    • So I double checked and yes I got ahead of myself. It’s the John Agar flick so I’ve made the adjustment. Kind of surprised Jet Pilot didn’t make the list as it seems to fit in with many of the other choices.

  4. Excellent blog post Mike. I have seen many of the movies on the list over the years and don’t think that some belong on the list of infamy. I must put in a redemptive word for 1973’s Lost Horizon. Is it a great movie? Definitely not, however, I have always found it an enjoyable experience over many, many viewings. The first 20 minutes is in fact quite exciting and only with the arrival at Shangri-La does the film go amiss. In my view the casting of non-singers in many cases was a major mistake and the direction of some of the cast, especially Sir John Gielgud, was misguided. Does it deserve its place on the list? I do not believe so, however, have a look yourself and make a judgement.

  5. I’ll join in with the swearing too $&^%&**$&^%&** WTF Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia!
    Not seen The Conqueror but interested to research the behind the scene stories.
    Raquel tucked it away well I see!!!!!
    The Omen!!!! FFS and Trouble Man, now they are just trolling us.
    Great post dude

  6. I’ve seen 39 and some of these are real stinkers but I have to agree that several are not bad at all.

    Of those you’ve seen:

    The Ambushers is the least of the Matt Helm films but they were designed to be puffy, fluffy entertainments and this one is a harmless time passer.

    Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia-I like Warren Oates but have to agree this is a wretched film.

    The Conqueror’s backstory is indeed tragic and though even the production of a great classic wouldn’t have been worth the price paid it is even a sharper loss considering the appalling hash that resulted.

    Hurry Sundown is a pretentious disaster but also a mint julep melodrama that is a hooty delight.

    Even within the big studio medieval pageant genre there are movies that would rate far lower than King Richard and the Crusaders. As you said it has Virginia Mayo plus George Sanders and he always adds a dash to any film.

    Myra Breckinridge is a low class pasted together disgrace taking down everyone involved including Raquel and Mae West.

    I’m not much for horror but The Omen one of the worst? Come on! Not only is it a pretty good suspenser it has big time Movie Stars in the leads and is certainly far above tons of other dreck that followed in its path….The Manitou anyone?

    Parnell’s fatal flaw is it’s so incredibly boring and Gable is so completely wrong for it. He knew it and it’s probably his absolute worst performance.

    Say One for Me was dumb and lackluster but at least it was star powered and every single one of those stars made a worse film than this one.

    Solomon and Sheba-Same deal that applies to King Richard and the Crusaders.

    Spinout worse than Harum Scarum? Absolutely not!!

    I thought Trouble Man was pretty decent as well.

    As far as those you haven’t:

    Alakazam the Great (1961)-So very, very, very moronic.

    At Long Last Love-Burt and Cybill Shepard both stink in this-full stop even though Burt gives it the old college try. The most painful aspect of the whole thing is seeing the marvelous supporting cast-Madeline Kahn, Eileen Brennan, Mildred Natwick etc.-squandered and flailing trying to make something out of nothing.

    Dondi-It was insipid and cloying but no more so than dozens of other films of its ilk.

    Eegah!-Terrible, awful, dreadful, amateurish, infantile and all the other derogatory terms but must be seen in all its slack jawed direness.

    I didn’t like Jamaica Inn at all but its art compared to Hitch’s banal Topaz but even that’s just a misfire hardly the worst of all time.

    The Last Movie is a hash that can be firmly blamed on Dennis Hopper’s unchecked ego and the studio that let him do whatever he wanted after the success of Easy Rider (I HATE that movie!). However in the morass of sludge that the movie is there is a truly excellent performance by Julie Adams (who we sadly lost just yesterday) that seems to belong in another far better film.

    Last Year at Marienbad-GOD HOW I LOATHED THIS MOVIE!!! It truly belongs on the list! One of the worst viewing experiences I’ve ever had, like watching the most boring longest existential French perfume ad ever produced.

    New Moon-How is this any worse or better than all the other Jeannette MacDonald/Nelson Eddy films. Either you like them or you don’t.

    The Story of Mankind-Lumbering, nonsensical and a huge waste of a dream cast but for a star watcher there’s that “Oh look it’s….” factor.

    Swing Your Lady-There are far worse movies but to be fair to the ranking Bogart considered it the biggest pile of junk he ever made.

    That Hagen Girl-Well it’s Shirley’s worst movie, unfortunately she’s not very good in it, and Reagan gives his standard lump of nothing performance but it’s not even the worst movie of 1947.

    The Trial of Billy Jack-If you thought the first one was a dud wait until you sit through this almost 3 hour yawn fest.

    Valley of the Dolls-What is there to say? It’s not as flat out odious as it’s rep but close. There are a few good things in it-Sharon Tate is touching as the doomed Jennifer, Susan Hayward owns her scenes and elevates them far above the general film, ya gotta love Lee Grant being all brooding as she’s wasted on the sidelines and the clothes are fab but Barbara Parkins stinks on ice and Patty Duke by her own admission was lost as Neely. But it must be seen!

    Zabriskie Point-My head aches just thinking about how stupid and pointless this thing was.

    • Now that’s a complete take on some of these and thanks for piping in.
      I’ve read how Spencer Tracy would tease Gable by calling him Parnell on occasion.
      On Elvis, I’ve always felt he could have been so much better overall if only he had gotten away from these idiotic scripts. The big “WHAT IF”
      Not sure how I missed Eegah after all these years of watching bad films.
      I see neither of us like Easy Rider. For me it’s a great example of not living and experiencing the era so I really have little interest in it though there are some other films of that vintage I don’t mind.
      I do like playing “spot the star” so I just might get to Mankind yet.
      Yeah I though Billy Jack was a snorefest so will not hurry to see any of the follow ups and again this might be a case of not living thru the era that is so close to Easy Rider again.
      Thanks for sharing…..

  7. Ahahah! That’s a great post, thank you!

    And… The omen??? It’s one of my favourite movies of all time! And poor Zabriskie point, I’ve never seen that in a “worst” list!

    By the way, interesting!

  8. I own the two Golden Turkey books, and there seem to be plenty worse stinkers and duds listed there than the ones included in the 50 Worst book, which I’ve never read. But still, the two GT books have plenty of ‘what the heck?’ listings, and like you and Colin discussed above, it makes me wonder if the Medveds really saw that many bad movies…’regular’ movies maybe, but how many truly bad ones? Where’s ‘Creature from Haunted Sea’, or ‘Curse of Bigfoot’ and ‘Twisted Brain’ (both personal cult favorites), or even ‘Plan 9 from Outer Space’? Like you mentioned, they didn’t have access to video stores, YouTube, or AMC and TCM like we do, so maybe it was an availability problem. But good lord, didn’t they have televisions? There were plenty of bad movies on late-night local channels and Saturday afternoon monster fests!

    Strangely enough, I’ve only seen NINE of the fifty, but I agree…what the freak is ‘The Omen’ doing there? And at first I read one of the films listed as ‘Last Year at Marineland’, which would’ve made for a good documentary, I think. And by all means, you have to check out ‘Eegah’…yes, it deserves to be on the list, but man oh man, is it ever a treat for bad movie aficionados!

    • So it looks like I’m gonna have to make an effort to see Eegah. Shouldn’t be tough to locate a copy. Just 9? I’m surprised and really it should only be 8 cause Omen has no business on here. I think we can all come up with some big time losers they’ve omitted.

      • Perhaps we should write our own Worst 50 book…and yes, looking forward to your ‘Eegah’ review. But remember: once you watch it, you can never un-watch it!

        • At least we both can agree on one movie in particular that WON’T make the list. lol. So Eegah might be like one of those damned radio jingles you get in your head you find yourself humming at any unexpected moment?

          • It’s that and so much more! It’s too bad it’s out of our Video Store Action Heroes range of the ’70s and ’80s…I might’ve chosen ‘caveman films’ as our next topic, just so you would HAVE to review it!

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