Moviedrome Mondays: The Fly (1958)

Unfortunately, I could not find a youtube link to Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox’s intro to director Kurt Neumann’s 1958 science-fiction horror film The Fly. Instead readers will have to rely on this link to Cox’s intro transcript (read here). The episode’s original airdate was August 7, 1988 (read here). Personally, I am a bigger fan of director David Cronenberg’s 1986 remake, which came off as the work of a filmmaker discovering a personal connection to the material. In contrast, Neumann’s film plays out more like a routine monster movie by comparison. Nevertheless, Vincent Price is entertaining as always and the climax is impressive in it’s own way.

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

Moviedrome Mondays: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

As with the past two Moviedrome Monday entries, this one also includes a youtube link to Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox’s introduction of this film, which is director Don Siegel’s much beloved 1956 science-fiction classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The episode’s original airdate was July 31, 1988 (read here). There is really not much I need to add here other than pointing out that Cox’s sentiments of the film are spot on (read here). Interestingly enough, Cox introduced the 1978 remake on the same show 5 seasons later in 1993 and loved it just as much as the 56 version. As Cox implies here, the film (depending on one’s political leanings) can be viewed as either an attack on anti-communism or on communism itself during the McCarthy era 1950’s. In case anyone is interested, here is a link to my list of my favorite films of director Don Siegel.

Here is a youtube link to Alex Cox’s Moviedrome intro to the 56 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers

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

Moviedrome Mondays: The Long Hair of Death (1964)

As with last week’s Moviedrome Monday entry (The Parallax View in this case), this one also includes a youtube link to Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox’s intro to this film, which is The Long Hair of Death – a 1964 black-and-white Italian horror film directed by Antonio Margheriti (sometimes known as Anthony M. Dawson or Anthony Daisies). The episode’s original airdate was July 24, 1988 (read here). Here, Cox talks about it’s similarities to The Wicker Man (another Moviedrome entry that I covered – read here) and delves a little bit into the background of it’s lead British actress Barbara Steele (read here and here). Cox is correct that horror films made up a good portion of his work (his then previous one being Castle of Blood – co-directed with Sergio Corbucci from that same year), but Margheriti has also tackled other genres including action, Eurospy, giallo, science fiction, spaghetti westerns (though he briefly talks about one of them in his introduction), sword and sandal films and war movies serve as many examples according to wikipedia’s entry on him (read here). Both Margheriti and The Long Hair of Death has often been implicitly dismissed as a pale imitation of Italian horror maestro Mario Bava and his works (read here). Having only seen a few of his films, I can not really comment on that. Nevertheless, I have no problem in praising The Long Hair of Death as a visually atmospheric horror film and I think many people can agree with that sentiment – at least those who have seen this film.

Here is a youtube link to Alex Cox’s Moviedrome intro to The Long Hair of Death

 

Here is a youtube link to The Long Hair of Death’s U.S. trailer (I could not find the Italian one)

Moviedrome Mondays: The Parallax View (1974)

For the first time since the Barbarella post three weeks back (read it here), this Moviedrome Mondays entry features a video link of Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox introducing Alan J. Pakula’s 1974 politically charged thriller The Parallax View from season 1 of the program (read here). The episode’s original airdate was July 17, 1988 (read here). Cox does not talk much here regarding his thoughts on the film (though he reportedly loves it). Instead, he uses the film and connects it to how the American political climate of the 1960’s changed the country forever. The main cases here are the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 (read here), presidential nominee Robert F. Kennedy in 1968 (read here) and Civil Rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. (read here) from that same year. Like Cox, I used some of these same historical events in my reviews of both George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead and Robert Altman’s Nashville and connected them to the social commentary that both films displayed in different ways. The former came out in 68 and the latter in 1975. Everything Cox says here is just mesmerizing. Not only that, but I have also uploaded a video link of Cox expanding upon his thoughts in a another televised showing of The Parallax View as part of BBC Two’s Kennedy Night on November 21, 1993. I have uploaded quite a few video links to it since some of the videos feel incomplete.

First, here is the youtube video link of Alex Cox’s Moviedrome intro to The Parallax View

Here is one youtube video link part of Cox’s intro to the same film from 1993 on BBC Two’s Kennedy Night

Here is another youtube video link part to that same program

And here is another youtube video link that runs 21 minutes or so

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

Moviedrome Mondays: Johnny Guitar (1954)

Although their is a video link to later Moviedrome host Mark Cousins (1997-2000) introducing this film, I could not (once again) find a video link of earlier Moviedrome host Alex Cox (1988-1994) introducing Nicolas Ray’s  1954 cult cross-gender western Johnny Guitar. Nevertheless, as usual, you can read the transcript for his intro here. The episode’s original airdate was July 10, 1988 (read here). I am sorry but Cox is totally wrong on this one. First off, the film’s cult reputation lies in Ray’s and screenwriter Philip Yordan’s (adapted from Roy Chanslor’s 1953 novel of the same name) audacious blend of camp and social commentary that has earned it a cult reputation over the years (read here). Johnny Guitar is not so much a revisionist western as it is an intentionally vicious parody of one. For example, despite rescuing anti-heroine Vienna (Joan Crawford) twice, actor Sterling Hayden’s title character comes off as uncharismatic throughout. In fact, he and the rest of the male cast are upstaged by the two lead actresses of the film – Crawford and Mercedes McCambridge, who plays the villainous Emma Small. Taking all of this into consideration, one is tempted to call Johnny Guitar (in some respects) a feminist western. But then again, that is still heavily debatable. Some people I know who adore Johnny Guitar have even implied that it can be praised as a western with lesbian overtones. Again, still heavily debatable. At the same time though, others (critics and viewers alike) have viewed it as a social commentary on McCarthyism (read here). Debatable or not though, Johnny Guitar does work on all of these levels. What Robert Aldrich’s Kiss Me Deadly from one year later (read my review here) did for 1950’s film noir, Johnny Guitar does for 1950’s westerns. In this case, Johnny Guitar can best be viewed as a 1950’s western with openly anti-fifties tendencies. If any of you readers are interested in reading my list of my favorite Nicholas Ray films, read here.

Here is a youtube link to Johnny Guitar’s original theatrical trailer