6 Trailers for Valentine’s Day


Well, since Valentine’s Day is nearly over, how about a new edition of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation Film trailers?

These trailers are all about celebrating the love so let’s get started!

The Diary of a High School Bride (1959)

I reviewed this one here.

The Harrad Experiment (1973)

Oh my God, this movie is so 70s.  Check out my review here.

Harrad Summer (1974)

The Harrad Experiment was so bad successful that it was followed by a sequel.

The Teacher (1974)

This actually isn’t a bad film.  I reviewed it here.

Gable and Lombard (1976)

I recently discovered this film.  I haven’t watched it yet but I hear its terrible.

In Love (1983)

I know that I’ve shared this trailer in the past but what can I say?  Even though it’s an edited trailer and I’ve never seen the actual film, I still love this trailer.  That song really gets stuck in your head.

What do you think, romantic trailer kitties?

Awwwwww!

Awwwwww!

 

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Lisa Reviews An Oscar Winner: Annie Hall (dir by Woody Allen)


anniehallposterYou take a risk when you review a Woody Allen film, even an acknowledged, Best Picture-winning classic like 1977’s Annie Hall.  Do you address the accusations that have been made about him?  Do you ignore them and hope that they won’t be the Elephant in the Room, stomping through your review?  Do you try to justify reviewing (or, in some cases, even watching) Allen’s film?  Or do you just let the work speak for itself?

I love Annie Hall.  Quite frankly, I like a lot of Woody Allen’s films, even though I understand why his work is an acquired taste for quite a few other people.  I’ll address the elephant in the room in a paragraph or two but you know what?  I watched Annie Hall last night and I want to mention a few reasons why I enjoy this film.

First off, Annie Hall features one of Christopher Walken’s first (and best) performances.  He only has a few lines but he makes quite an impression.  He plays Duane, the brother of Annie Hall (Diane Keaton).  When Annie’s boyfriend, Alvy Singer (Woody Allen), is visiting the Hall family, Duane invites Alvy into his bedroom and tells him that, whenever he’s driving, he fantasizes about intentionally swerving into incoming traffoc.  In the very next scene, Duane is driving an oblivious Annie and a terrified Alvy to the airport.  It’s a wonderfully funny moment.  (If you keep your eyes open, you’ll notice that Annie’s apartment is full of pictures of Duane and his thousand yard stare.)

Secondly, this film also features an early role for Jeff Goldblum.  He only has one line — “I forgot my mantra” but my God, he does amazing things with that line.

Third, when Alvy and his agent, Rob (Tony Roberts), are driving through Los Angeles, they pass a theater.  According to the marquee, the theater is showing House of Exorcism, a Mario Bava film.  That’s right: Italian horror in a Woody Allen film.  How glorious is that?

Fourth, Annie Hall is an extremely dated film.  It was made in 1977 and, as to be expected about a film directed and written by a stand up comedian, it’s full of references that were probably hilariously on target then but rather obscure now.  As well, like almost all Woody Allen films, it’s a very New York film.  Alvy is an intellectual, left-wing Jew who suspects that everyone he sees is an anti-Semite and who is dating an aspiring actress and singer who hails from middle America.  (During the scene where Alvy meets her family, he immediately pegs Grammy Hall as a “classic Jew hater.”)  The film is very much told from Alvy’s point of view, which means jokes about New York periodicals and a flashback to an Adlai Stevenson rally.  That being said, I’m a Texas girl who was born long after Annie Hall was first released and I still enjoy the film because it’s a film that captures some universal truths about human relationships.

The first time I watched Annie Hall, I was 17 and I saw a lot of myself in Annie.  While I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing some of her outfits, I knew what it was like to be insecure.  I knew what it was like to be nervous.  I know what it was like to worry about being smart enough.  And, like Annie, I eventually learned that independence was the key to happiness.  Annie Hall has stood the test of time because both Annie and Alvy are relatable while still remaining wonderfully unique and neurotic individuals.

(If ever a film has been a ode to the joy of being neurotic, it’s Annie Hall.)

Fifth, I love the scene where Alvy asks a random couple of the street how they make their relationship work.  “I’m totally shallow and have no original thoughts,” the woman replies.  “And I’m the exact same way,” her husband cheerfully adds.

Sixth, I’m going to assume that Paul Simon was primarily playing himself.

Seventh, there are just so many great scenes.  Like when Alvy deals with a rude cop by ripping up his license.  And then, there’s that lobster scene.  And that moment when Alvy comes over to Annie’s apartment to kill a “spider the size of a buick.”  (Judging by the number of times Alvy has to hit the spider with that tennis racket, I assume buick’s are pretty big.)  There’s the two scenes of Annie singing, one when she’s still insecure and can’t compete with the sound of plates smashing around here and the other when she’s developed the confidence to dominate and control both the stage and the audience.  There’s the scenes where Alvy breaks the fourth wall and get advise from random people on the streets of New York.  And what about when Annie starts laughing while telling the horrible story of how her uncle died at the post office?  Or what about when Alvy tries to avoid having sex with his first wife by discussing the JFK assassination?  Or when we literally see Annie mentally check out of making love to Alvy?  Or how about the split-screen therapy sessions?  Or the sudden moment when Annie and Alvy become cartoon characters?  Or the scene with the pretentious blowhard at the movies?

(As a Southern girl, I have to admit that it’s always strange to me to hear Alvy and Annie talking about “waiting on line” at the movies.  Down here, we say “in line,” which makes a lot more sense.  Since a line is just a crowd of people standing in a certain order, saying that you’re “on line,” is the same as saying your standing on someone’s head.  You get in a crowd, not on them.  Whenever I hear someone from up north talking about “waiting on line,” I assume they must be bidding for something on Ebay.)

I like Annie Hall and I always will.  As for the accusations against Woody Allen, they don’t keep me from enjoying his better films because:

  1. I’ve always been a big believer that art can and should be judged separately from the artist.
  2. Having read what both sides have said about Woody Allen and the accusations that have been made against him, I don’t think he did it.

Obviously, some are going to disagree with me on both those points.  So be it.  Everyone has to make their own choice.  For me, though, what’s important is that Annie Hall is a film that I’ve loved since the first time I saw it and I’ll continue to love it.

A Movie A Day #45: Captives (1994, directed by Angela Pope)


captives

Rachel Clifford (Julia Ormond) is a dentist who has just divorced her unfaithful husband, Simon (Peter Capaldi).  Feeling directionless, Rachel shocks her posh friends by getting a part-time job as the dentist at Wadsworth Prison, the toughest and most notorious prison in Britain.  While most of the inmates in the all-male prison harass and proposition the attractive Rachel, she forms an unlikely friendship with Phil (Tim Roth), a sensitive inmate who is doing time for killing his previous girlfriend.  Phil and Rachel are both captives, Phil of the legal system and Rachel of her upper class existence.  With Phil getting weekly day releases so that he can take computer classes, he and Rachel become lovers outside of the prison walls.  When prison kingpin Tower (Colin Salmon) finds out about their affair, he attempts to blackmail both of them.

A British film which I don’t think ever got much attention in the U.S., Captives is a romantic drama that works because Julia Ormond and Tim Roth both give good performances and share a spark of passion.  Captives is one of the few films that could actually make a hookup in a public restroom seem romantic.  It’s just too bad that, after such a strong start, the movie gets bogged down in melodrama during the final twenty minutes.

Lisa Reviews An Oscar Nominee: Bonnie and Clyde (dir by Arthur Penn)


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If you’re ever visiting my former hometown of Denton, Texas, you owe it to yourself to do two things.

Number one, go to Recycled Books and Records.  It’s right across the street from the old courthouse and it’s perhaps the greatest used bookstore in the world.  When I was going to college at UNT, I would spend hours in Recycled Books.  Not only do they have three floors of books but they have some really nice apartments on the fourth floor.  I attended my share of hazily remembered parties in those apartments.

The second thing that you must do is stop by the Campus Theater.  The Camps Theater is located on the other side of the old courthouse and it is a true historical landmark.  (It’s also the home of the Denton Community Theatre.)  When you step inside of the theater, be sure to look for a plaque on the wall.  The plaque will inform you that, in 1967, Arthur Penn’s Bonnie and Clyde premiered at the Campus Theater.

Bonnie and Clyde not only premiered in Denton but it was also filmed around North Texas.  This was a pragmatic decision, made to minimize studio interference.  Even with that in mind, that’s still the way it should have been because Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow are true Texas legends.  In the 1930s, they were young, they robbed banks, and they killed people.  Much like many of the outlaws of the era, they became folk heroes and they died in a hail of bullets.

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In the picture above, Clyde is short, scrawny, and slightly handsome in a class clown sort of way.  Bonnie, meanwhile, is even shorter than Clyde and has the hard look of someone who has never known an easy life.  Both of them have a look that should be familiar to anyone who has spent any time in the small towns that dot the North Texas landscape.  They look like real people.  They don’t look like film stars.

Here’s the movie’s version of Bonnie and Clyde:

faye-and-warren

In other words, Bonnie and Clyde is not a documentary.  But that doesn’t matter.  50 years after it was first released Bonnie and Clyde remains a powerful and, even more importantly, extremely entertaining film.  When the film was released, it was controversial for it violence and, having recently rewatched it, I have to say that the violence still makes an impression.  When guns are fired, the shots seem to literally explode in your ear.  When people are torn apart by bullets, they die terrible deaths and the film’s most graphic demises are reserved for its most likable characters.  Towards the end of the film, with the Texas Rangers relentlessly closing in on Bonnie and Clyde, the tension becomes almost unbearable.

What makes the violence all the more disturbing is that it often interrupts scenes that, until the bullets started flying, were often humorous.  A bank robbery starts out as a lark, becomes an exciting chase scene as Bonnie and Clyde attempt to escape, and suddenly turns into an act of shocking of violence when Clyde fire a gun and shoots a man point-blank in the face.  Later, stopping to help an old farmer change a tire leads to a sudden ambush.  Perhaps the film’s outlook is best captured in a scene in which the Barrow gang cheerfully bonds with a hostage until they suddenly find out that he’s an undertaker, a reminder that the promise of death is always present.

“Get him out of here!” Bonnie snaps.

Like many of the great gangster films, Bonnie and Clyde presents its outlaws as being folk heroes.  They may rob banks and occasionally kill people but they look good doing it and they seem like they would be fun to hang out with.  The thing that set Bonnie and Clyde apart from previous gangster films is that it refused to even pretend to condemn its bank robbers.  The cops and the Texas Rangers are all on the side of the banks and the banks are on the side of big business.  Bonnie and Clyde aren’t outlaws.  They’re rebels.  When they rob banks, they’re not just taking money.  They’re standing up to the same establishment that was feared in the 30s, resented in the 60s, and hated today.

Clyde is played by Warren Beatty (who also produced the film) and Bonnie is played by Faye Dunaway and both of them give performances that literally define screen charisma.  You never forget that you’re watching two movie stars but, at the risk of repeating myself, Bonnie and Clyde is not meant to be a documentary.  At times, it almost seems as if Beatty’s Clyde and Dunaway’s Bonnie know that they’re characters in a gangster movie.  They know that they’re doomed because that’s how gangster movies work so, as a result, they’re determined to live as much life as possible before that final reel.  The supporting cast — Gene Hackman, Estelle Parsons, Michael J. Pollard, Gene Wilder — are all great but the film is definitely a celebration of Beatty and Dunaway.

Bonnie and Clyde went from premiering at the Campus Theater to a best picture nomination.  However, it lost to In The Heat of the Night.

The Story of Suicide Sal

A Poem by Bonnie Parker

We each of us have a good “alibi”
For being down here in the “joint”;
But few of them really are justified
If you get right down to the point.

You’ve heard of a woman’s “glory”
Being spent on a “downright cur,”
Still you can’t always judge the story
As true, being told by her.

As long as I’ve stayed on this “island,”
And heard “confidence tales” from each “gal,”
Only one seemed interesting and truthful —
The story of “Suicide Sal.”

Now “Sal” was a gal of rare beauty,
Though her features were coarse and tough;
She never once faltered from duty
To play on the “up and up.”

“Sal” told me this tale on the evening
Before she was turned out “free,”
And I’ll do my best to relate it
Just as she told it to me:

I was born on a ranch in Wyoming;
Not treated like Helen of Troy;
I was taught that “rods were rulers”
And “ranked” as a greasy cowboy.”

Then I left my old home for the city
To play in its mad dizzy whirl,
Not knowing how little of pity
It holds for a country girl.

There I fell for “the line” of a “henchman,”
A “professional killer” from “Chi”;
I couldn’t help loving him madly;
For him even now I would die.

One year we were desperately happy;
Our “ill gotten gains” we spent free;
I was taught the ways of the “underworld”;
Jack was just like a “god” to me.

I got on the “F.B.A.” payroll
To get the “inside lay” of the “job”;
The bank was “turning big money”!
It looked like a “cinch” for the “mob.”

Eighty grand without even a “rumble” —
Jack was last with the “loot” in the door,
When the “teller” dead-aimed a revolver
From where they forced him to lie on the floor.

I knew I had only a moment —
He would surely get Jack as he ran;
So I “staged” a “big fade out” beside him
And knocked the forty-five out of his hand.

They “rapped me down big” at the station,
And informed me that I’d get the blame
For the “dramatic stunt” pulled on the “teller”
Looked to them too much like a “game.”

The “police” called it a “frame-up,”
Said it was an “inside job,”
But I steadily denied any knowledge
Or dealings with “underworld mobs.”

The “gang” hired a couple of lawyers,
The best “fixers” in any man’s town,
But it takes more than lawyers and money
When Uncle Sam starts “shaking you down.”

I was charged as a “scion of gangland”
And tried for my wages of sin;
The “dirty dozen” found me guilty —
From five to fifty years in the pen.

I took the “rap” like good people,
And never one “squawk” did I make.
Jake “dropped himself” on the promise
That we make a “sensational break.”

Well, to shorten a sad lengthy story,
Five years have gone over my head
Without even so much as a letter–
At first I thought he was dead.

But not long ago I discovered
From a gal in the joint named Lyle,
That Jack and his “moll” had “got over”
And were living in true “gangster style.”

If he had returned to me sometime,
Though he hadn’t a cent to give,
I’d forget all this hell that he’s caused me,
And love him as long as I live.

But there’s no chance of his ever coming,
For he and his moll have no fears
But that I will die in this prison,
Or “flatten” this fifty years.

Tomorrow I’ll be on the “outside”
And I’ll “drop myself” on it today;
I’ll “bump ’em” if they give me the “hotsquat”
On this island out here in the bay…

The iron doors swung wide next morning
For a gruesome woman of waste,
Who at last had a chance to “fix it,”
Murder showed in her cynical face.

Not long ago I read in the paper
That a gal on the East Side got “hot,”
And when the smoke finally retreated
Two of gangdom were found “on the spot.”

It related the colorful story
of a “jilted gangster gal.”
Two days later, a “sub-gun” ended
The story of “Suicide Sal.”

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The Story of Bonnie and Clyde

Another Poem by Bonnie Parker

You’ve read the story of Jesse James
Of how he lived and died;
If you’re still in need
Of something to read,
Here’s the story of Bonnie and Clyde.

Now Bonnie and Clyde are the Barrow gang,
I’m sure you all have read
How they rob and steal
And those who squeal
Are usually found dying or dead.

There’s lots of untruths to these write-ups;
They’re not so ruthless as that;
Their nature is raw;
They hate all the law
The stool pigeons, spotters, and rats.

They call them cold-blooded killers;
They say they are heartless and mean;
But I say this with pride,
That I once knew Clyde
When he was honest and upright and clean.

But the laws fooled around,
Kept taking him down
And locking him up in a cell,
Till he said to me,
“I’ll never be free,
So I’ll meet a few of them in hell.”

The road was so dimly lighted;
There were no highway signs to guide;
But they made up their minds
If all roads were blind,
They wouldn’t give up till they died.

The road gets dimmer and dimmer;
Sometimes you can hardly see;
But it’s fight, man to man,
And do all you can,
For they know they can never be free.

From heart-break some people have suffered;
From weariness some people have died;
But take it all in all,
Our troubles are small
Till we get like Bonnie and Clyde.

If a policeman is killed in Dallas,
And they have no clue or guide;
If they can’t find a fiend,
They just wipe their slate clean
And hand it on Bonnie and Clyde.

There’s two crimes committed in America
Not accredited to the Barrow mob;
They had no hand
In the kidnap demand,
Nor the Kansas City depot job.

A newsboy once said to his buddy;
“I wish old Clyde would get jumped;
In these awful hard times
We’d make a few dimes
If five or six cops would get bumped.”

The police haven’t got the report yet,
But Clyde called me up today;
He said, “Don’t start any fights
We aren’t working nights
We’re joining the NRA.”

From Irving to West Dallas viaduct
Is known as the Great Divide,
Where the women are kin,
And the men are men,
And they won’t “stool” on Bonnie and Clyde.

If they try to act like citizens
And rent them a nice little flat,
About the third night
They’re invited to fight
By a sub-gun’s rat-tat-tat.

They don’t think they’re too tough or desperate,
They know that the law always wins;
They’ve been shot at before,
But they do not ignore
That death is the wages of sin.

Some day they’ll go down together;
And they’ll bury them side by side;
To few it’ll be grief
To the law a relief
But it’s death for Bonnie and Clyde.

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Fall in Love with LAURA (20th Century Fox 1944)


cracked rear viewer

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If you’re like me, you’ve probably watched LAURA more than once. It’s one of the top film noirs, indeed one of the top films period of the 1940’s. LAURA is unquestionably director Otto Preminger’s greatest achievement; some may argue for ANATOMY OF A MURDER or even ADVISE AND CONSENT, and they’re entitled to their opinions. But though both are great films, only LAURA continues to haunt the dreams of classic movie lovers, its main themes of love and obsession transferring to its fans even 73 years after its initial release.

laura2

Preminger, along with scenarists Jay Dratler, Samuel Hoffenstein, and Betty Reinhart, weave an intricate, sinister tapestry around the violent death of beautiful New York ad exec Laura Hunt. Cynical police detective Mark McPherson is determined to solve this particularly gruesome murder; Laura was killed at close range by a buckshot-loaded shotgun blast to the face. McPherson begins by questioning Waldo Lydecker, the acerbic newspaper columnist who relates…

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It’s Love, Part 3


Happy Valentine’s Day!

Today is the day that people across the world celebrate love and…

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What?  How can anyone be afraid of love?

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Sure, we all do.  But they’re not that bad!  Maybe looking at these vintage romance covers will help.

By Stanley Zuckerberg

By Stanley Zuckerberg

By Harry Schaare

By Harry Schaare

Artist Unknown

Artist Unknown

Unknown Artist

Unknown Artist

By George Gregg

By George Gregg

How are you feeling now?

get-out-of-my-heart

Maybe these will help:

By Saul Levine

By Saul Levine

Unknown Artist

Unknown Artist

By Harold W. McCauley

By Harold W. McCauley

Unknown Artist

Unknown Artist

By Robert Bonfils

By Robert Bonfils

Unknown Artist

Unknown Artist

How about now?

sad-girl

Maybe this one will help.

z-a-wee-bit-lower-lassy

I think that one might actually be a fake cover but still.

almost

I’m glad that worked!  Happy Valentine’s Day!

z-last

Film Review: Boyfriend Killer (dir by Alyn Darnay)


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In the Lifetime film, Boyfriend Killer, there was a brief scene that I really liked and I think it epitomizes why I enjoyed this film and why I watch Lifetime films in general.

In the scene, Sandra Durro (Barbie Castro, who also produced this film) shares a hug with Krystal Kellers (Kate Mansi), her son’s girlfriend.  The camera quickly cuts back and forth from Sandra’s face to Krystal’s face and the audience sees that both of them have the same look of irritation and loathing on their face.  That really does get to a basic truth.  A mom is never going to fully trust her son’s girlfriend.  And a girlfriend is always going to suspect that her boyfriend’s mom is judging her.

Of course, Sandra has good reason to not fully trust Krystal.  Boyfriend Killer opens with the death of Sandra’s son, Preston.  Preston, who was handsome and charismatic and had a great life ahead of him, was killed in a car crash and Sandra suspects that it wasn’t an accident.  When Sandra and her friend Carrie (Yancy Butler) are packing up Preston’s things, Krystal suddenly shows up and announces that she wants to help.

From the first minute we meet Krystal, there’s something off about her.  She claims to be sad but her grief is almost too theatrical.  It’s almost as if all she knows about being sad is what she’s seen in the movies.  Add to that, Krystal claims that she and Preston were deeply in love, despite the fact that Preston rarely spoke about her.  Krystal always seems to be sneaking around the house, searching for something.  When Sandra gets near Preston’s computer, Krystal freaks out.  Krystal explains that she and Preston both used that computer so if Sandra touches it, she’ll actually be invading Krystal’s privacy.

Well, what’s a mother to do?

It turns out that things between Preston and Krystal were never as perfect as Krystal claims.  In fact, shortly before his death, Preston had told Krystal that he never wanted to see her again.  Could that have had something to do with the fact that Krystal tried to convince Preston to kill her ex?

Sandra certainly thinks that it might.  However, before Sandra can really pursue her suspicions, she has a funeral to attend, a funeral that Krystal makes all about her.  It turns out that Krystal has an announcement to make, one that catches everyone by surprise…

Boyfriend Killer is a fun melodrama, one that pretty much epitomizes everything that we love about Lifetime movies.  Barbie Castro is relatable and sympathetic as the grieving mother (you really want her to get justice for her son) and Yancy Butler provides good support as her friend.  Kate Mansi, who played a similar role in Unwanted Guest, is a force of nature in the role of Krystal.  Krystal is a familiar Lifetime character — the duplicitous temptress — but Mansi plays the role with such determination and drive that Krystal becomes a wonderfully hissable villain.  Krystal is less defined by the bad things she does than by her total confidence that she’ll never get caught.  You alternate between marveling at how far she’ll go and eagerly anticipating the moment when she gets her comeuppance.

Finally, I have to make special mention of Patrick Muldoon, who plays Sandra’s alcoholic ex-husband.  To a certain group of pop culture fanatics, Muldoon will always be known as Jeff, the handsome college student whose smile and killer dance moves inspired Kelly to dump Zack on Saved By The Bell.  (Hell, I would have dumped Zack for Jeff.  Jeff’s in college, has a great smile, and is a manager at the Maxx.  Zack’s in high school and spends all of his time with Screech.)  And some are always going to think of Muldoon as being the doomed Zander Barclow in Starship Troopers.

However, over the past few years, Patrick Muldoon has given some seriously good performances.  They haven’t gotten the attention that they deserve but he was excellent in both Patient Killer and Deadly Revenge.  And he’s excellent here, playing a well-meaning guy who cannot shake his demons.  It’s a good and poignant performance, one that elevates the film.

One of the great things about Lifetime is that they constantly rebroadcast all of their movies so keep an eye out for Boyfriend Killer!