They Could Not Suspend Disbelief

As I might have mentioned, my boys and I are watching all the James Bond films in order.

Last night we got to Moonraker, the most outrageous and outlandish film in the series which piggy-backed off of the box office success of Star Wars to inject a science fiction element to the series and features laser battles in space. It also was the largest grossing Bond film for a long time (he said, summarizing the Wikipedia entry.

As my children watched it, they could not suspend their disbelief.

After all, the film featured:

  • Space shuttles, which were space craft that lifted off like rockets and landed like planes.
  • Bent-nosed supersonic passenger airplanes that could cross the Atlantic ocean in three hours.

Given that my oldest was born in 2006, he cannot remember such things, so perhaps he could not believe them possible.

How Brian J. Ruined James Bond For His Children

You know how the first incarnation of the Doctor you see tends to be your favorite in Doctor Who? How the first album from an artist tends to be your favorite, no matter how long you listen to a singer or band or how many other albums he/she/they produce?

So it often is with James Bond.

Your favorite, if you’re of a certain age, is Sean Connery. If you’re a little younger, it’s Roger Moore. If you’re still a pup, it’s that Remington Steel guy. Generally, it tracks with the first James Bond you saw when it was fresh and new to you.

Well, my oldest picked up a James Bond encyclopedia and read everything in it, so he nows the characters and the stories as book knowledge backwards and forwards. Well, not book knowledge; as you might know, gentle reader, the movies are based on a series of books, some of which share the titles but not the plots of the movies.

On a recent excursion to the video store, my oldest tried to slip Dr. No into the mix of titles to rent, and I rejected it. After all, we have that DVD at home. But when it came time for their first James Bond on the screen experience, their father sabotaged them forever by presenting this guy as James Bond:

Sorry, that’s Jimmy Bond as portrayed by Barry Nelson. The first screen portrayal of the super spy was on a black and white television show called Climax!, but James Bond was turned into an American operative with help from his British intelligence counterpart Clarence Leiter. In a production of Casino Royale.

My children sat riveted as Jimmy Bond took on an aged Peter Lorre bad guy at Baccarat. The program ran only an hour, which meant it did not keep them up past their alloted bed time, and they went to bed knowing that they have seen a James Bond that none of their friends have.

And Barry Nelson just might be their favorite James Bond just as Dr. No is their favorite Doctor.

UPDATE: In a stunning turn of events, Dustbury talks about Barry Nelson as Jimmy Bond today as well.

36 Years Later, Brian J. Gets It

So the local Jack station (a radio format term as dated as Adult Contemporary or Album Oriented Rock by now) plays old American Top 40 radio programs on Sunday morning, so I get a chance to catch old songs that don’t get a lot of radio play now.

When Bertie Higgins’ “Key Largo” came on, I thought, not actually featured in the film Key Largo.

And then it struck me: He is singing about the movie Key Largo. I hadn’t known that when I heard the song previously.

I mean, when he sang about Bogie and Bacall, I thought about them in the context that I’d known them at the time I heard the song: From the film The Big Sleep and as a married couple. I didn’t see Key Largo until much later.

So all this time, I thought Bertie just wanted to sail to Key Largo, and that he was watching old movies like The Big Sleep with the woman in the song.

How daft I am.

Fun fact: I’ve actually seen Key Largo twice in recent years (meaning within the last, what, decade?). The first by myself and the second with my beautiful wife as I’ve tried to convince her share in my enjoyment of old movies. So we’ve watched two together, the other being His Girl Friday with Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell.

Confession Time

The first time I saw Tommy Lee Jones’ name on a movie poster, for the film Under Siege

…I thought the drummer from Motley Crüe was getting into acting.

Well, no. That would come later.

But if a film wasn’t on Showtime in the 1980s, or if an actor was not in a film on Showtime in the 1980s, I didn’t know about it.

Now, I know who he is: One of the guys who played Harvey Dent.

Almost Like Big Trouble In Little China II

I watched the Eddie Murphy film The Golden Child again tonight as I had a spot of time.

It played on Showtime back in the day when we were out in the middle of nowhere and had nothing better to do than to watch the same films over and over again.

But as I watched it this time, again, I recognized several actors who overlapped between this film and Big Trouble In Little China:

Perhaps if I watch current movies, I would see crossover like this in character actors, but clearly I prefer the old timey films.

(Of course, if you’re a long-time reader, you probably remember when I noted the crossover actors between Lethal Weapon, Die Hard, and Coming to America back in the day. Holy cats, was that twelve years ago?)

Nevertheless, He Remained Married

StLToday.com has a quiz right in my wheelhouse. Well, it’s not a quiz; it’s a slide show of the worst Saturday Night Live skits turned into movies.

The quiz portion of it is: “How many of these has Brian J. seen in the theater?”

Here’s the list; I’ve bolded the ones I saw in the theatre.

  • It’s Pat: The Movie (but I did read the book which was not the movie book).
  • Stuart [Smiley] Saves His Family (I never found Al Franken funny, even after he started doing comedy playing that character in the Senate).
  • A Night at the Roxbury (but my friend Scott and I did not dress up for it, as we discussed).
  • The Ladies Man with my beautiful wife.
  • MacGruber with my beautiful wife. On our anniversary.

I thought one of the films in the slide show would be Superstar! as one of the slides alluded to Molly Shannon’s character, but no. Which is just as well, because I have not seen that at all.

I’m pleased to have gotten a 60% on this quiz because I have a special place in my heart for bad comedies, and most of the Saturday Night Live movies fall into this class.

A Few Thoughts On Ted

DVD cover

As I mentioned, I recently got a membership at the video store, and I’ve been renting (although the “renting” there is like a dollar for a week, and sometimes the guy behind the counter finds discounts where I don’t have to pay at all).

As with most trips to the video store, one wanders the aisles debating the pros and cons of various movies. Me, I like to stick to the two-for-a-dollar films which are a little older than the new releases or the almost new releases, so I have a wide variety of slasher films and older actioners to choose from. And it never fails: I spend ten minutes milling about, finding films that I am interested in watching immediately, and it takes me a while to get the two I’m going to rent. After that, I find bunches of films I’d like to watch, too. So I’ve started writing them down and keeping a running list of things to rent in upcoming visits to cut down on my loitering. Also, this explains why all of them start with the letter R or later in the alphabet: That’s where I was when I thought of it.

At any rate, one of the things I put on the list was Ted, the movie about the talking teddy bear. After watching a couple of actioners lately (Sahara and Soldier, both in the S section, see?), I thought I’d try a comedy. Both discs they had for Ted were the unrated edition, and given the topic matter, I thought I’d go with the theatrical release when viewing it.

Boy, howdy. I expected it to be crass, but this crass? I think I’m not going to enjoy any comedies, especially R-rated comedies, made after 2000.

This film made me long for the sophistication of Adam Sandler, word. Listen, in Adam Sandler, the man-boy is presented as an aberration, and through the events of the film, he grows up somewhat and learns a life lesson. In this film, the protagonist and the bear go through some adventures and maybe learn a little, but at the end, the status quo of the man-boy is restored. Well, there is a little change, but it’s lost amid the drug use and swearing.

The presence of Sam Jones, the star of the film Flash Gordon, was an amusing touch, but that’s about the only thing I found slightly amusing in the movie.

Ah, well, back to the actioners for me.

Every time they release another one of these R-rated comedies, it bombs at the box office late. Which is good because hopefully they’ll stop making them. Unfortunately, the intelligence and sophistication of old comedies is probably beyond the reach of the current man-boys making movies, never to be recovered. So we descend closer and closer to Idiocracy‘s Ow, My Balls.

Back to the Future III: A Personal Timeline

I watched Back to the Future III with my children yesterday. We started watching the trilogy two years ago while on vacation, and it took us this long to get to the end of it. Which is less time than it took us in the 1980s, but it was long enough that they had forgotten parts of the earlier films that were relevant to the third.

But it got me to thinking about when I’d watched the film before.

I saw it in the theater in 1990. It was the first of the series I’d seen in the theater, and it was my one and only date in high school. I’d initially wanted to ask the young lady, a junior to my senior, to the Richard Marx concert (the Repeat Offender tour, using tickets I won on the radio), but when I asked a mutual friend if she was in a relationship, he said, “She would like to be.” I took this to mean she had someone in mind, but I guess it could have been anyone, even me. However, the mutual friend and I went to the Richard Marx concert instead, and some months later, I got up the nerve to ask the girl directly, and she said yes. So we went, and although I was smitten, she was not. Which has worked out all right in the long term.

When the DVD box set was released in 2002 (I remember because of the recall issued because of the framing issues), I got a set–this very set. I watched it with my beautiful wife in our home in Casinoport.

Now, it’s almost fifteen years later, and I watched it again with my children.

In none of the previous viewings did I imagine where I’d be the next time I saw it. Now, I cannot imagine where I’ll be the next time I see it. With grandchildren? Re-watching it with my children when they’re older? Or is this the last time I will see the film?

Actually, I guess I am imagining just a little bit.

Rogue One Spoilers! Must Credit MfBJN!

Well, not actually. I tweeted these bad dogs and thought I’d do a two-fer with the content by recycling it for you, gentle reader.

Yeah, I saw it, but I wasn’t entranced with it. I wonder if the Star Wars movies and the Marvel movies will have diminishing returns as the decades become saturated with them.

What I Want To Watch, When I Want To Watch It

As you might know or guess, gentle reader, I am a skeptic of online streaming services and buying “digital” copies of movies, books, or music (exception!) because I’ve had enough electronic devices crash that I don’t trust electronic media, because I’ve seen enough tech companies fail to consider that they might not be there to provide me with what I purchased tomorrow, because I don’t trust that online services will keep their promises of availability of things I purchased.

But we have two paid streaming video sources at Nogglestead: Amazon Prime because it remains a shipping discount (for now) and Netflix because my beautiful wife likes to watch television shows on her tablet as she rides her elliptical exercise device.

A couple of times in the last couple of weeks, I wanted to watch a particular film not in the vast Nogglestead library.

After reading a listicle about John Hughes’ Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, I wanted to watch She’s Having A Baby because it’s the most adult of his coming-of-age comedies (and I plan to come of age sometime soon). But it’s not on Netflix nor Amazon Prime.

Then I got to thinking about funny Christmas movies my children might like to watch with me since White Christmas, Holiday Inn, The Bells of St. Mary’s, or The Bishop’s Wife are a little black-and-white for them, and they’re not old enough for Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, or Gremlins. So I checked Netflix and Amazon Prime, and again I was disappointed.

Fortunately, Amazon Prime still includes free shipping.

So now I have the two films I wanted to watch, and I can be assured I’ll have the actual ability to watch them whenever I want.

Netflix and Amazon Prime streaming are good when you want to watch something as they give you a lot to chose from. But I often do not want to sit down and watch something; I want to sit down and watch a particular film. So physical media still have a vital role in that. Much like the old independent video stores offered something other than the newest releases at Blockbuster.

In 1997, They Saw Me Coming

At the Friends of the Christian County Library book sale this fall, I bought this family looking film:

Dan Haggerty! A bear! Grizzly Mountain. It’s a Grizzly Adams movie.

Ha ha, sucker! It is not a Grizzly Adams movie.

Man, I’m the target audience for this film: parents who were, a long time ago, sort of fans of the Grizzly Adams television show because it was syndicated and played a couple times a week on the local stations before cable.

Instead, this a a fin-de-siècle environmental pageant about how developing natural areas is de rigueur. The plot features a family camping in an undeveloped Oregon forest whose 125 year lease to an Indian tribe is about to expire. The father is a state functionary of some sort, looking over the land as he plans to approve development of the land. So two of his children enter a cave on the land and are transported back to 1870, when a greedy railroad executive also plans to develop the land, and his cold, distant beau uses a fake gold scheme to swindle the townsfolk. So it’s up to Grizzly Adams Jeremiah, Gentle Ben Jack, some Indians, the children, and hijinks to stop the bad guys.

There’s definitely some fun in the naming. Haggerty’s character is Jeremiah; is this a nod to Jeremiah Johnson, a film about another mountain man that preceded the Grizzly Adams television series (which itself might have tried to capitalize on the success of that film)? The bear is named Jack; as you know, Jack was the name of another character in the television show. And the show unreservedly calls the natives “Indians,” which was already a no-no in 1997.

At any rate, it’s a low budget little affair; there are about five sets (six if you count “the woods”). Haggerty is older and suffers from breathing difficulties throughout. So it’s a direct-to-video style thing, and as I mentioned, it’s a parable about the evils of development. But it’s not that I wish I’d spent the time watching something else.

I did have a bit of a talk with my children after it though, as I so often do. This is a message movie, I remind them. It simplifies the lives of Indians, it softens the real nature of wildlife, and it takes out all possibility that development can also be a good and man can manage development in rural and natural areas without the default despoilment depicted by Hollywood.

In researching the film post-viewing, I found there’s actually a 2000 sequel, Escape to Grizzly Mountain, a fin-de-siècle animal rights pageant that also stars Jan-Michael Vincent of Airwolf. I almost want to see it.

Another Joke I Get Thirty Years Later

So I watched the 1984 film Romancing the Stone, and at the beginning, when John Colton meets Joan Wilder, she offers him $375 in traveler’s checks to take her to town. He asks if they’re American Express.

Because Michael Douglas, who played John Colton, was in Streets of San Francisco with Karl Malden, who later was the pitch man for American Express Traveller’s Cheques.

Douglas and Malden remained good friends after the detective show ended, so this probably is an inside joke.

As I’ve Been Warning You

Disney films end up with fewer corpses on the stage than their source material. 20 Disney Movies That Are Based on Bizarre and R-rated Stories/How Your Favorite Disney Stories *Actually* Ended.

(See also Book Report: The Harvard Classics: Folk-Lore and Fable by Aesop, the Brothers Grimm, and Hans Christian Andersen, Book Report: The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo (1831, 193x?), and Book Report: Kipling: A Selection of His Stories and Poems (Volume I) by Rudyard Kipling, edited by John Beecroft (1956).)

(Link via Ace of Spades HQ.)

A Movie Quiz I Wish I Did Better On

Mental Floss has a list called 22 Movies Roger Ebert Really Hated, so of course I had to use it as a quiz.

Here they are; movies I saw in the theater are in bold, and movies I saw on home video are in italics.

  • Armageddon
  • The Brown Bunny
  • Jason X
  • Mad Dog Time
  • The Usual Suspects
  • Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo
  • Mr. Magoo
  • Spice World
  • Good Luck Chuck
  • Freddy Got Fingered
  • Corky Romano
  • Charlie’s Angels
  • Mannequin
  • Exit to Eden
  • Hocus Pocus
  • Tommy Boy
  • The Village
  • The Love Guru
  • She’s Out of Control
  • Summer School
  • Clifford
  • North

I liked Mannequin and watched it over in over in my college years because one, pre-Sex in the City Kim Cattrall and two, because in my college days I seemed to have more time to watch movies in my small video library over and over again.

I wish I’d done better on this quiz, but it’s not clear what Roger Ebert thought of films like Hell Comes to Frogtown, 9 1/2 Ninjas, and Assault of the Killer Bimbos.

I Got 0 Out Of 50 On This Quiz, And I Consider It A Perfect Score

The 50 Weirdest Movies Ever Made

As a matter of fact, I’d only heard of two of them: Boxing Helena because it came out while I was in college and I remember seeing the ad for it in the Milwaukee Journal at about the same time I saw Sands in Warlock late at night on cable. And I’d heard of Zardoz because Sean Connery.

Most of the items on the list are brutal-looking slasher/horror bits from the 1970s directed by Europeans, it looks like. The sort of films I never thought were worthwhile.

So I guess I don’t like artistic weird movies. My guilty pleasures tend to run to dumb movies. For instance, I’ve seen 9 1/2 Ninjas! more than 9 1/2 times. And I’m adding Dead Men Don’t Die to my watching list.

So take my anti-film snobbery for what it is.

Break Alderaan, Good Buddy

James Earl Jones used his Darth Vader voice on the CB while traveling across the country:

You’re never tempted to pick up the phone and pretend to be Darth Vader? I did that once when I was traveling cross-country. I used Darth as my handle on the CB radio. The truck drivers would really freak out — for them, it was Darth Vader. I had to stop doing that.

Mostly, I think it was his declaration of their patrimony that was so dispiriting.

I’m Not Sure How I Feel About That

A Mack Bolan movie might be in the works.

I’m not sure how I feel about that.

It will be tricky to convey that which sets the Bolan series apart from other men’s adventure novels–namely, the interior life that Pendleton gave Bolan and the philosophical asides about his motivations and whatnot.

Of course, I was not compelled to rush out and see the Parker film, either. Let’s face it, I’m not much of a moviegoer during these child-rearing years, and I worry about what modern Hollywood will do to informed 1960s era paperbacks. Because, face it, your general Hollywood type in the 21st century is less well read and less educated than your general paperback writer of the middle 20th century.

(Link via Ace of Spades HQ.)