Devil in Disguise: ANGEL FACE (RKO 1952)

cracked rear viewer


I saved ANGEL FACE for last in this week’s look at RKO/Robert Mitchum films because it’s been  hailed as a near-classic by many film noir fans. It’s certainly different from HIS KIND OF WOMAN and MACAO; much darker in tone, and features an unsympathetic performance by Mitchum. It’s more in the noir tradition of bleak films like DETOUR and BORN TO KILL. But better than the other two? That depends on your point of view. Let’s take a look:

An ambulance screams its way to the Tremayne home in ritzy Beverly Hills. The wealthy Mrs. Catherine Tremayne has been subjected to a gas leak of unknown origin. One of the ambulance drivers, Frank Jessup, comes across beautiful Diane playing the piano. She bursts into hysterics, and Frank smacks her, receiving one in return.  After she calms down, Frank and his partner Bill head home. Frank has a date with his girl Mary…

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Things Could Be Better: 5 Fictional Presidents Who Were Surprisingly Good At Their Job


Since we already looked at 8 fictional presidents who were terrible at their job, here are 5 fictional presidents who were surprisingly good at their job.

1) President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho (Terry Crews) in Idiocracy (2006)

Sure, it’s easy to be critical of President Comacho.  During his presidency, there was famine, pestilence, death, and a total economic collapse.  His decision to irrigate the nation’s crops with sports drink called Brawndo did not help.  When Secretary of Interior Not Sure (Luke Wilson) decided to use water on the crops, instead of Brawndo, President Comacho sentenced him to die in a monster truck rally.  President Comacho did many things that we might disagree with but he was just giving the people what they want.  During the Comacho administration the people were happy.  Stupid but happy.  To his credit, when shown filmed proof that the water making crops grow better than Brawndo, President Comacho pardoned Not Sure and appointed him Vice President.  A good President always surrounds himself with the best and the brightest people available.

2) President Thomas “Tug” Benson (Lloyd Bridges) in Hot Shots! Part Deux (1993)

What can we say about President Thomas “Tug” Benson that hasn’t already been said?  The former admiral did many controversial things as President.  He complained that his ambassadors always left the country right after he appointed them.  He nearly invaded Minnesota.  He mistook the first lady for a spy.  He hit every other living President with a shovel (except for Gerald Ford, who just fell down on his own).  But what other President could swim to Iraq and personally engage Saddam Hussein in a  light saber duel?  To quote President Benson, “We’ll do this the old Navy way.  First man to die, loses!”

3) President Chet Roosevelt (John Ritter) in Americathon (1979)

When Chet Roosevelt is elected president, the former governor of California brings a sunny disposition, an optimistic outlook, and an encyclopedic knowledge of affirmative sayings to the White House.  America needs it because all of the oil has dried up, many of its citizens are living out of their cars, and a cartel of wealthy Native Americans are threatening to repossess the entire country unless their money is paid back.  How does President Roosevelt save the country?  First, he smokes a joint.  After that, he puts together a telethon — an Americathon — to raise the money to save the country!  Teddy and FDR would be proud!

4) President Taffy Dale (Natalie Portman) in Mars Attacks! (1996)

At the end of Mars Attacks!, 15 year-old Taffy Dale succeeds to the presidency after her father, President James Dale, is killed the Martians.  That may not be constitutional and Taffy is legally too young to serve but since there are only 10 people left alive at the movie and Tom Jones doesn’t want the job, an exception to the rules can be made.  By awarding the medal of honor to Richie Norris and his grandmother, President Taffy Dale lets those 10 people know that America will rebuild.

5) President John “Bluto” Blutarsky (John Belushi) in National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978) and Where Are They Now?: A Delta Alumni Update (2003)

We should only be so lucky.

President Blutarsky

Things Could Be Worse: 8 Fictional Presidents Who Were Terrible At Their Job

Jack Nicholson

2016 is an election year and things are looking pretty grim right now.  It’s enough to make you throw your hands up in frustrating and demand that someone push the reset button.  However, things could always be worse.  From the world of film, here are 8 President so incompetent, corrupt, and sometimes murderous that they will make you long for the dull mediocrity of a Jeb Bush or a Martin O’Malley.

1) The President (William Devane) in The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

devaneYou’re the leader of the free world and a masked terrorist has just launched a deadly attack on a major U.S. city.  He has blown up a major sporting event on national television.  He has killed the mayor.  He is allowing a crazy sociopath to preside over show trials.  The terrorist demands that you neither send troops into the city nor do you aid anyone who is trying to leave.  What do you?  If you are the President played by William Devane in The Dark Knight Rises, you say, “Okay,” and then breathe a sigh of relief when Batman turns out not to be dead after all.  William Devane also played JFK in The Missiles of October and President James Heller on 24.  Neither of them would have backed down to Bane as quickly as the President in The Dark Knight Rises.

2) The President (Billy Bob Thornton) in Love Actually (2003)

This President thinks that he can bully the world until he makes the mistake of getting on the bad side of the new British Prime Minister (Hugh Grant).  How are you going to call yourself the leader of the free world when even Hugh Grant can make you look like a fool?

3) The President (Donald Pleasence) in Escape From New York (1981)

DonaldHey, Mr. President, when Snake Plisskin nearly gets killed trying to save your life, you might want to try showing a little gratitude.  Escape From New York ends with Snake asking The President who he feels about all the people who died rescuing him from New York.  When the President can only mutter a few words of regret, Snake responds by destroying the tape that would have presumably prevented World War IV.  Way to go, Mr. President!  Would it have killed you to shed a few crocodile tears, at least over the fate of Cabbie?

4) The President (Cliff Robertson) in Escape From L.A. (1996)

The President from Escape From New York was practically Lincolnesque compared to the jerk who succeeded him.  A theocrat who claimed to have an open line to God, this President banned smoking, drinking, cursing, red meat, guns, atheism, pre-marital sex, and everything else that made life fun.  Anyone who disagreed got exiled to the island of California.  Good thing that Snake Plisskin was still around to set things straight, even if it did mean that Florida ended up getting conquered by Cuba.  Why doesn’t Snake ever run for President?

5) President Thomas J. Whitmore (Bill Pullman) in Independence Day (1996)

billIn a word, overrated.  Yes, President Whitmore did lead the army that repealed the alien invaders but he would not have had to do that in the first place if he had prevented the Earth from being invaded in the first place.  How many warning signs did the Whitmore administration ignore until it was too late?  And how much funding did his administration cut from the military that the Air Force was left in such poor shape that they could get shown up by Randy Quaid in a crop duster?  As for Whitmore’s famous speech and the battle that followed, a sequel to Independence Day is coming in June so he must not have done that good of a job of scaring the aliens off.

6) President James Dale (Jack Nicholson) in Mars Attacks! (1996)

At least President Whitmore got a chance to redeem himself by leading the battle against the invaders.  James Dale did not even get that far.  After foolishly believing everyone who told him that the aliens came in peace, he made the mistake of offering his hand in friendship and ended up with a flag sticking out of his chest.

7) President Alan Richmond (Gene Hackman) in Absolute Power (1997)

Not only did President Richmond think that he could get away with murder, he also thought he could outsmart Clint Eastwood.  Big mistake.  Clint Eastwood is no Hugh Grant.

8) President Merkin Muffley (Peter Sellers) in Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb (1964)

Mixing the raw charisma of Adlai Stevenson and the phone skills of Bob Newhart, President Merkin Muffley attempts to stop the end of the world and fails miserably.  He even allows the Soviet ambassador to get a picture of the Big Board!  But don’t worry.  President Muffley may have failed to prevent nuclear war but he will not allow there to be a mineshaft gap!

When this election year get you down, just remember: things could always be worse!