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Tuesday, Sep 9, 2014
Both No Highway in the Sky and 5 Fingers are two excellent examples of post-war Hollywood cinema shot abroad.

After World War II, Hollywood studios began making films in England and elsewhere in Europe. Available on demand from Fox Cinema Archives are two such items of the early ‘50s: No Highway in the Sky and 5 Fingers, both wonderfully civilized suspense films.


James Stewart plays perfectly in his element as Theodore Honey, an absent-minded American “boffin” (as the limeys call scientific chaps) testing aircraft metal fatigue in No Highway in the Sky. He’s introduced with bumbling eccentricities, such as forgetting which house he lives in and raising his plain, retiring daughter (Janette Scott) as a lonely genius. It’s all well-played, amusing, and disarming. The suspense begins when he realizes he’s on an airplane that’s about to crash, according to his calculations. He warns the crew and a glamorous movie star (Marlene Dietrich, basically playing herself), and they all await the outcome tensely.


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Monday, Sep 8, 2014
The Last of Robin Hood is relatively harmless. That is also its major flaw, considering the harmful subject matter.

Can a serious movie be made about a May/December romance where one party is in his late ‘40s and the other is only 15? Can the “he”, a former dashing matinee idol (Errol Flynn) who already escaped one accusation of statutory rape really be seen as sympathetic, or even socially acceptable, given his proclivities? Can the “she”, a teenager of suspect talents (Beverly Aadland) be anything other than a victim?


No matter the times or the temperament, no matter a mother who basically pimps her child out for a possibility at fame (and the accompanying fortune) or the studio system and media, which sheepishly look the other way, can a film like this work? The answer, once you’ve seen The Last of Robin Hood, is “No.”


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Monday, Sep 8, 2014
Magic Boy is Japanese animated cinema in the style of Disney.

Magic Boy has the distinction of being the second Japanese animated feature in color. The first was The Tale of the White Serpent (1958), released in the US as Panda and the Magic Serpent in July 1961. Since MGM distributed the English-dubbed Magic Boy in June 1961 (according to IMDB), it was the first to be seen in the US. That version is now available on demand from Warner Archive.


Sasuke is a boy who lives in the forest with his older sister and his little animal friends. When the faun’s mother is killed by a sea monster who is actually an evil witch (as indicated by traditional long black hair and chalk-white skin), Sasuke climbs a mountain to learn magic from a hermit. This takes three years, during which neither he nor the baby animals ever get bigger. After the obligatory training sequences, there’s a big fight—lots of death but no blood—in which he’s aided by the local handsome prince who’d been so unhelpful in saving the village from destruction by the witch’s army.


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Friday, Sep 5, 2014
Someday, The Identical will take its rightful place alongside Troll 2, The Room, and Tiptoes as among the most joyfully awful films of all time.

A professional Elvis impersonator teams up with a Pro-Israel propaganda coalition. Together with a wannabe songwriter and his wannabe director son, they create an alternate reality where rock ‘n’ roll was “created” by someone named Drexel Hemsley, the once and could be King. And just like the legitimate legend, this swivel hipped singer has a twin brother, except this one didn’t die at birth.


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Thursday, Sep 4, 2014
Room 237 is one of the only films that respects and even admires cinephilia and its various forms.

Is cinephilia useful?


Rodney Ascher‘s Room 237 (2012) is an important film because it forces the viewer to confront this question. By exploring various interpretations of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980), Room 237 situates itself within film history as a film about cinephilia.


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