Moviedrome Mondays: House of Games (1987)

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Since I could not find a youtube video link to Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox’s introduction to famed playwright David Mamet’s 1987 directorial debut House of Games, readers will have to rely on Cox’s intro transcript here. The episode’s original airdate was June 6, 1993 (read here). While I personally believe that David Mamet is a much better writer than director, I will happily admit that House of Games is an exception to this rule. Though it does come off looking stagy on occasions (after all, Mamet’s career is rooted in the theatre), his direction is (rather surprisingly) tightly executed here. Aside from the intriguing twists and turns that fuel this Neo-noir, we get great acting (especially from Lindsay Crouse and Joe Mantegna) and last, but not least, electrifying dialogue courtesy of screenwriter Mamet (from a story he concocted with Jonathan Katz).

Here is a youtube video link to the film’s original theatrical trailer

Moviedrome Mondays: Darkman (1990)

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First off, Happy 2021 to all of my dear readers and let us hope it is a much better year than 2020 was. This new year begins with a new Moviedrome Monday entry covering the first episode of Moviedrome series 6. I have posted a youtube video link below to Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox introducing director Sam Raimi’s 1990 superhero film Darkman. Readers can also read Cox’s intro transcript here. The episode’s original airdate was May 30, 1993 (read here). While Cox’s statement about racism in American films is far from false, I personally believe that he is blowing it out of proportion here regarding not only this film, but David Lynch’s Wild at Heart (from that same year) and Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven (from two years later). Darkman may not be a great film, but it is a ferociously entertaining one. If any of you readers are interested, here is a link to my favorite Sam Raimi films (read here).

Here is a youtube video link to Alex Cox’s Moviedrome intro to Darkman

Here is another youtube video link to Alex Cox’s Moviedrome intro to Darkman

Here is a youtube video link to the film’s original theatrical trailer

Here is a youtube video link to another theatrical trailer for the film

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to All of My Readers

I just want to wish all of my readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy 2021 🙂 Also, let us hope that 2021 is better than 2020 (i.e. Covid-19). As usual, look forward to more blog entries from me in the New Year 🙂

Now I would like to conclude this year with a youtube video link to Country singing legend Dolly Parton’s delightful 2020 rendition of A Holly Jolly Christmas (click here) 🙂

Moviedrome Mondays: The Day of the Locust (1975) and The Big Knife (1955)

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The last episode in series 5 of Moviedrome also happens to be another double bill. In this case, the theme revolves around the darker side of Hollywood.

The Day of the Locust (1975)

Since I could not find a youtube video link of Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox introducing British director John Schlesinger’s 1975 period drama The Day of the Locust, readers will have to rely on Cox’s intro transcript (read here). The episode’s original airdate was August 30, 1992 (read here). Though I do not share Cox’s enthusiasm for 1969’s Midnight Cowboy (also from Schlesinger and screenwriter Waldo Salt), I do agree with everything else he states here regarding The Day of the Locust. Compared to writer Nathanael West’s great 1939 novel of the same name about 1930’s Hollywood, this film adaptation of The Day of the Locust is a hit-and-miss affair. Unfortunately, that same sentiment can also be applied when standing on it’s own. The standout aspects of this film lies in Richard Macdonald’s Art-Direction, Conrad L. Hall’s cinematography, Ann Roth’s costumes, it’s ensemble cast and as Cox notes – two highly impressive disasters and the constant threat of a city-leveling earthquake. What’s lacking here is the satire/social comment and symbolism that shaped the book’s narrative as a whole. All in all, a misfire, albeit an intriguing one.

Here is a youtube video link to the film’s original theatrical trailer

The Big Knife (1955)

Once again, I could not find a youtube video link of Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox introducing cult director Robert Aldrich’s 1955 film noir drama The Big Knife, readers will have to rely on Cox’s intro transcript (read here). The episode’s original airdate was August 31, 1992 (read here). I agree with Cox’s opinion concerning Jack Palance’s lead performance in the film, but I would like to single out another aspect for praise here. Based on legendary playwright Clifford Odets 1949 stage play of the same name, The Big Knife is confined mostly to a single set. Nevertheless, Aldrich symbolically uses the film’s long shot technique to his advantage by involving the audience on both a cinematic and theatrical level. On the one hand, actor Charlie Castle’s (Palance) personal life plays out like a melodrama in regards to how his relationships with wife Marion (Ida Lupino), the flirtatious Connie (Jean Hagen) and struggling actress Dixie Evans (Shelley Winters) are depicted. When it comes to Castle’s professional life though, The Big Knife becomes an expose on the seedy business practices of major Hollywood studios – this comes in the form of a ruthless and unethical studio boss named Stanley Shriner Hoff (Rod Steiger). Last, but not least, we get a typically expressive and stylish title sequence designed by the late great Saul Bass. If any of you readers are interested, here is a link to my favorite Robert Aldrich films (read here).

Here is a youtube video link to the film’s original theatrical trailer

Here is a youtube video link to Saul Bass opening title sequence for the film

While this will not be my last blog entry for 2020, it will be my last one concerning the Moviedrome Mondays entries. I will resume my Moviedrome Mondays blog series in the new year (Sunday, January 10, 2021) beginning with season 6 of Moviedrome 🙂

Moviedrome Mondays: Tracks (1976)

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I have posted a youtube video link below to Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox’s introduction to actor-turned-director/writer Henry Jaglom’s 1976 drama Tracks. Readers can also read Cox’s intro transcript here. The episode’s original airdate was August 23, 1992 (read here). Contrary to Cox’s opinion, I neither adore nor admire Tracks as much as I respect it, albeit mildly. Compared to Jaglom’s other films as a director, Tracks comes off (at least for me) as his strongest one to date. As deeply flawed as it is, Tracks has three things going for it. The first comes from Dennis Hopper’s riveting central performance. The second comes from Jaglom’s inspired mixing of form (flashback structure) with content (PTSD among a Vietnam war veteran). Speaking of that last aspect, Tracks was one of the earliest American films to touch upon the subject of the Vietnam war and If nothing else, deserves a better reputation than it’s current status as an obscurity.

Here is a youtube video link to Alex Cox’s Moviedrome intro to Tracks

Here is a youtube video link to the film’s original theatrical trailer

Moviedrome Mondays: Walker (1987)

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I have posted a youtube video link below to Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox’s introduction to his 1987 acid western Walker. Readers can also read Cox’s intro transcript here. The episode’s original airdate was August 16, 1992 (read here). Since Cox has frequently cited Walker as his personal favorite of all the films he directed (read here, here and here), all I can do is nod in agreement with him. I absolutely adore this film – it is a hallucinatory acid western/biographical historical drama/satire/social commentary with an electrifying score by late great legendary British punk rock musician Joe Strummer. Last, but not least, Cox and screenwriter Rudy Wurlitzer’s bold use of anachronisms not only adds to the fun, but it can also be seen as a still timely metaphor for American excess. If any of you readers are interested, here is a link to my favorite Alex Cox films (read here).

Here is a youtube video link to Alex Cox’s Moviedrome intro to Walker

Here is a youtube video link to what may be the film’s original theatrical trailer

Moviedrome Mondays: Play Misty for Me (1971)

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I have posted a youtube video link below to Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox’s introduction to Clint Eastwood’s 1971 directorial debut Play Misty for Me. Readers can also read Cox’s intro transcript here. The episode’s original airdate was August 9, 1992 (read here). Cox’s commentary here is too fascinating for me to delve into, so let me just say that Play Misty for Me not only benefits from the self-assured direction of it’s lead star (Eastwood), but also from Jessica Walter’s memorable performance as the psychotic fan turned stalker of Eastwood’s character. If any of you readers are interested, here is a link to my favorite films directed by Clint Eastwood (read here).

Here is a youtube video link to Alex Cox’s Moviedrome intro to Play Misty for Me

Here is a youtube video link to the film’s original theatrical trailer

Moviedrome Mondays: Lolita (1962)

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Since I could not find a youtube video link of Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox introducing legendary master filmmaker Stanley Kubrick’s 1962 black comedy-drama Lolita, readers will have to rely on Cox’s intro transcript (read here). The episode’s original airdate was August 2, 1992 (read here). While I may strongly disagree with Cox’s lambasting of Kubrick’s then previous two films (I loved both The Shining and Full Metal Jacket), I do nod in agreement with him regarding Lolita – though I personally think that I may love the film more than he does. Given that Lolita is loosely based on literary giant Vladimir Nabokov’s equally controversial 1955 bestseller of the same name, it truly is surprising that Kubrick’s 1962 adaptation, though tame compared to the book, works as tremendously as it does. Kudos especially to it’s lead actors, which include James Mason as Humbert Humbert, Shelley Winters as Charlotte Haze-Humbert, Sue Lyon as Dolores “Lolita” Haze and especially Peter Sellers as Clare Quilty. If any of you readers are interested, here is a link to my favorite Stanley Kubrick films (read here).

Here is a youtube video link to the film’s original theatrical trailer

Moviedrome Mondays: Wise Blood (1979) and Witchfinder General (1968)

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This week presents yet another Moviedrome Monday double bill entry.

Wise Blood (1979)

Since I could not find a youtube video link of Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox introducing legendary director John Huston’s 1979 late career masterpiece Wise Blood, readers will have to rely on Cox’s intro transcript (read here). The episode’s original airdate was July 26, 1992 (read here). My number one favorite Huston film is (as a few others have proclaimed first) is simultaneously funny, insightful and original. Needless to say, it feels more like the work of a fresh-faced 22 year-old filmmaker as opposed to that of a then 72 year-old. If any of you readers are interested, here is a link to my favorite John Huston films (read here).

Here is a youtube video link to the film’s original theatrical trailer


Witchfinder General (1968)

I have posted a youtube video link below to Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox’s introduction to director Michael Reeves 1968 low-budget cult historical horror classic Witchfinder General. Readers can also read Cox’s intro transcript here. The episode’s original airdate was July 27, 1992 (read here). In contrast to Cox’s surprisingly lukewarm take, I found Witchfinder General to be deserving of all it’s praise. On the surface, Witchfinder General is a scenic period piece with a suitable music score by Paul Ferris. At it’s center, Witchfinder General subtly examines opportunism in the name of religion coinciding perfectly with Vincent Price’s fittingly understated performance as the opportunistic title character – the evil real-life Matthew Hopkins. Last, but not least, the film generated controversy in the UK during it’s initial 1968 theatrical run due to it’s then shocking graphic depiction of violence (read here).

Here is a youtube video link to Alex Cox’s Moviedrome intro to Witchfinder General

Here is another youtube video link to Alex Cox’s Moviedrome intro to Witchfinder General

Here is a youtube video link to the film’s original theatrical trailer

Moviedrome Mondays: Alligator (1980) and Q: The Winged Serpent (1982)

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This Moviedrome double bill entry consists of two low-budget independent films involving monsters – 1980’s Alligator and 1982’s Q: The Winged Serpent.

Alligator (1980)

I have posted a youtube video link below to Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox’s introduction to director Lewis Teague’s 1980 creature feature Alligator. Readers can also read Cox’s intro transcript here. The episode’s original airdate was July 19, 1992 (read here). While nowhere near as great as Q: The Winged Serpent (more on that later), Alligator is a surprisingly good, not to mention entertaining, B monster movie. Alligator’s genius lies not so much in it’s cliches as in the screenplay/story’s self-awareness of them – courtesy of John Sayles (yes that John Sayles) and Frank Ray Perilli.

Here is a youtube video link to Alex Cox’s Moviedrome intro to Alligator

Here is another youtube video link to Alex Cox’s Moviedrome intro to Alligator

Here is a youtube video link to the film’s original theatrical trailer


Q: The Winged Serpent (1982)

I have posted a youtube video link below to Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox’s introduction to late great independent director/writer Larry Cohen’s 1982 monster movie Q: The Winged Serpent. Readers can also read Cox’s intro transcript here. The episode’s original airdate was July 19, 1992 (read here). Not unlike Lewis Teague’s Alligator (read above), Cohen also embraces the cliches that shape the genres (or sub-genres) that Q: The Winged Serpent belongs to. For 1976’s God Told Me To (also directed and written by Cohen), it was a blend of horror, the police procedural and science-fiction. In Q: The Winged Serpent, Cohen combines those first two aforementioned categories with that of the heist film. To complete the picture, Cohen (as always) sprinkles a considerable dose of social comment both at the surface and at the center. If any of you readers are interested, here is a link to my favorite Larry Cohen films (read here).

Here is a youtube video link to Alex Cox’s Moviedrome intro to Q: The Winged Serpent

Here is another youtube video link to Alex Cox’s Moviedrome intro to Q: The Winged Serpent

Here is a youtube video link to the film’s original theatrical trailer

Also, here is a youtube video link to Larry Cohen’s Trailers from Hell commentary for it