Artist Profile: Robert K. Abbett (1926 — 2015)

The illustrator Robert K. Abbett was born in Hammond, Indiana and educated at Purdue and Missouri Universities.  From the 50s through the 70s, Abbett was prolific commercial illustrator, painting covers for Ballantine Books, Pyramid Books, and Ace Books.  Though his best known work are the covers that he did for the John Carter of Mars series, Abbett worked in all genres.

Here’s a small sampling of his work:

A Movie A Day #162: Captain America (1979, directed by Rod Holcomb)

Captain America drives a Chevy Van!

In this attempt to turn one of Marvel’s first heroes into a weekly television star, Steve Rogers (Reb Brown) is a laid back 70s dude who has just gotten out of the Marines.  He owns a van (“a mellow set of wheels”) and he just wants to drive around America, drawing pictures, and doing his own thing.  Doctors Simon Mills (Len Birman) and Wendy Day (Heather Menzies) want Steve to follow in his father’s footsteps and get injected with the super powered FLAG formula.  Steve is just not interested.  The only Captain America that he’s interested in emulating is Peter Fonda in Easy Rider.  “I just want to kick back and find out who I am,” Steve says.

Steve does not really have a choice, though.  Evil billionaire Lou Brackett (Steve Forrest) wants the FLAG formula and attempts to have Steve killed.  In order to save Steve’s life, Dr. Mills injects Steve with the FLAG formula.  Not only does Steve now have super strength but, in the style of Col. Steve Austin, he now has super vision and super hearing.  To help Steve in his new life as crime-fighting super hero who will “stand up for the little guy,” Dr. Mills modifies both Steve’s Chevy Van and his motorcycle.  He also gives Steve a bulletproof shield.  Vibrainium is never mentioned and, for some reason, the shield is transparent, which makes it look like its made out of plastic.  At first, Steve wears his father’s old costume but then he designs a new one.  A super hero has to have super threads.

This was the first of two pilots for a proposed Captain America television series.  Unlike both The Incredible Hulk and The Amazing Spider-Man, Captain America never made it past the pilot stage.  Like many early comic book adaptations, Captain America‘s first pilot makes the mistake of straying too far from its comic book origins.  Instead of being an almost comically old-fashioned, straight arrow patriot, this Steve Rogers is a beach bum who gets his own groovy, bass-heavy soundtrack while riding his motorcycle up and down the coast.  Forget about the Red Skull, Baron Zemo, the Secret Empire, the Serpent Squad, or any of Captain America’s other regular enemies.  This Captain America specializes in more conventional, less interesting menaces.

Reb Brown is okay as this film’s version of Steve Rogers but there is nothing that makes the character special.  He’s just a big guy wearing a silly costume and carrying a transparent shield.  With his new origin story and his modified powers, this Captain America has more in common with The Bionic Man than Joe Simon and Jack Kirby’s original character.

The van’s cool, though.

Captain America’s Bitchin’ Van

Criminally Underrated: George C. Scott in BANK SHOT (United Artists 1974)

cracked rear viewer

I’m a big fan of the novels and short stories of Edgar Award-winning writer Donald E. Westlake , named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America. His comic-laced crime capers featuring master planner Dortmunder were well suited for films and the first book in the series, THE HOT ROCK, was filmed by Peter Yates in 1972 with Robert Redford as the mastermind. Two years later came BANK SHOT, the second Dortmunder novel, starring George C. Scott but changing the character’s name to Walter Ballentine due to legal issues. Dortmunder or Ballentine, BANK SHOT is a zany film with a fine cast of actors that deserves another look.

Ballentine is doing life in Warden “Bulldog” Streiger’s maximum security prison, but when his shady “lawyer” and confidant Al G. Karp visits with an idea for a new “shot”, the hardened criminal makes his escape. Karp needs Ballentine’s expertise to plan the robbery of Mission Bell…

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TV Review: Twin Peaks: The Return Part 7 (dir by David Lynch) (SPOILERS)

As I sit here typing this, I just noticed that Vox has a new analysis of the show.  The headline reads: “Twin Peaks Brings New Meaning To The Idea of an 18-hour movie.”  Hey, Vox!  I said that three weeks ago!  I know you guys claim to be the smartest people in the world but you need to give credit where credit is due!  Anyway … Welcome back to Twin Peaks!

Before even getting into recapping tonight’s episode, I’m just going to say it.  I absolutely loved this episode.  While I’m not going to claim that it’s the best of the season so far (it’ll take a lot to beat any of the first four episodes), I think it can be argued that Part 7 is perhaps the most entertaining.  Without sacrificing any of Lynch’s signature style, this episode moved the story forward and served to prove — regardless of what some naysayers may claim — that there is a method behind the madness.  Even though we’re not sure where, Lynch is taking us someplace.  We just have to be willing to keep the faith until we reach our destination.

We open, as so many episodes have, in the woods.  Jerry Horne (David Patrick Kelly) stares at the trees, totally stoned.  He calls Ben (Richard Beymer) at the Great Northern and announces that someone has stolen his car.  Ben, not being fluent in the language of marijuana, is of little help.

At the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Department, Hawk (Michael Horse) shows Frank (Robert Forster) the pages that he previously found in the bathroom stall.  It turns out that they are pages from Laura’s diary, in which she writes about a dream she had in which a woman named Annie appeared and told her that she had been with Dale and that the “good Dale was trapped in the Black Lodge and could not come out.”

Hawk explains that the diary was found, years ago, in Harold Smith’s house.  Hawk also shows Frank that, on one of the pages, Laura had written that she knew who BOB was.  Hawk suggests that maybe her father, Leland, hid the pages in the stall before he died.  Hawk also mentions that Leland also killed Jacques Renault, an important reminded since, later in this episode, we’re going to meet yet another Renault brother.

Frank goes to his office and places a call to Harry, who is apparently in a hospital somewhere.  From the tone of the conversation, it becomes apparent that Harry is terminally ill.  (As always, the shadow of death hangs over Twin Peaks.)  Frank doesn’t ask Harry about Cooper.  “Beat this thing,” Frank tells his brother.

After talking to Harry, Frank skypes with old Doc Hayward (Warren Frost, who passed away shortly after filming his scenes and to whom this episode was dedicated).  Frank asks Doc Hayward about the night that Cooper returned from the Black Lodge.  Doc Hayward says that he can’t remember what he ate for breakfast but he’ll never forget that night.  Hayward retells the story of the second season finale.  Other than revealing that Audrey was in a coma after the bombing at the bank, it’s nothing that we don’t already know but it’s still good to see both Doc Hayward and Warren Frost again.

Out in a field, Andy (Harry Goaz) has found the truck that Richard was driving when he ran over the little boy during the last episode.  Andy talks to the truck’s owner, who is not Richard and who is also obviously very afraid to talk about his truck.  Andy agrees to meet with the man in two hours in a safer, more secluded location.

In South Dakota, Lt. Knox (Adele Rene) meets with Detective Macklay (Brent Briscoe).  Knox asks about the finger prints that Macklay submitted.  He takes Knox to see the headless corpse that was found in Ruth Davenport’s bed.  Knox is shocked to hear that the dead man — who possesses Garland Briggs’s fingerprints — was in his late forties and, when discovered, had only been dead for five to six days.  Briggs supposedly died 24 years ago in a fire and, even if he had survived, he would have been much older than just his late 40s.  Stepping out into a hallway, Knox calls Col. Davis (Ernie Hudson) and lets him know that 1) they have a body, 2) the head is missing, and 3) the body is the wrong age.  Davis says that he’ll have to make “the other call.”

While Knox speaks to Davis, a shadowy figure walks down the hallway behind her.  Knox barely glances at it as she steps back into the morgue and tells Macklay that she doesn’t think this is going to be his investigation for too much longer.  The shadowy figure walks past the room as they speak.

At the FBI HQ, Gordon Cole (David Lynch) whistles in his office until Albert (Miguel Ferrer) enters and tells him that Diane’s response to the prospect of seeing Cooper was “No fucking way.”

Gordon and Albert go to Diane’s apartment, where Gordon talks Diane (Laura Dern) into going with them to see Cooper in prison.  For years, fans of the show have wondered what Diane was really like and Laura Dern does not disappoint.  Dern plays the role like a tough film noir femme fatale.  One of Diane’s defining traits is that she tells everyone that she sees to fuck off.  Nobody handles profanity with quite the skill of Laura Dern.

On the plane to South Dakota, Albert’s sarcastic, Diane drinks, and Gordon flirts with Tammy (Chrysta Bell).  Bleh.  No offense to Tammy (who I sympathize with because we both get car sick) but everyone knows that Gordon’s soulmate was Shelley Johnson.  We also learn that, over the past 25 years, the only know photograph of Cooper (actually Cooper’s Doppelganger) was of Cooper outside of a house in Rio.  In the picture, Cooper looks like a drug lord from a cheap 80s crime show.

At the prison, Diane reacts to kind words from Tammy by saying, “Fuck you, Tammy!” and then she has her meeting with Evil Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan).  Evil Cooper is still speaking slowly and without emotion.  Diane sees through him almost immediately.  She traps him by asking him if he remembers the last night they saw each other.

“I’ll always remember that night,” Evil Cooper drones.

“Who are you!?” Diane hisses.

“I don’t know what you mean, Diane,” the dead-voiced Evil Cooper responds.

Diane storms out of the meeting room.  Outside of the prison, in a beautifully acted scene, an emotional Diane tells Gordon that Evil Cooper is not the “Dale Cooper that I knew.”  Diane says that Evil Cooper, whoever he is, is missing something inside.

Evil Cooper is returned to his cell.  He tells the guard that he wants to see Warden Murphy.  “We need to speak about a strawberry,” Evil Cooper says.

In Twin Peaks, Andy stands on the side of the road and waits for the owner of the truck.  The owner never shows up.

Back at the prison, Evil Cooper is escorted into the office of Warden Murphy (James Morrison).  Murphy sends the guards out of the office, tells Evil Cooper that the security cameras have been turned off so that they can speak freely, and then pulls out a gun.

“The dog’s leg,” Evil Cooper says, “That dog had four legs.  One you found in my trunk.  The other three went out with the information that you’re thinking about right now.”

When Murphy asks why he should believe that Evil Cooper knows what he’s talking about, Evil Cooper replies, “Joe McCluskey.”  Warden Murphy gets a panicked look on his face and Evil Cooper explains that he wants a car for himself and Ray Monroe.  He wants a gun in the glove compartment.  And he wants to leave the jail at one in the morning.

In Las Vegas, Janey-E (Naomi Watts) waits impatiently for Dougie/Cooper to get off work.  However, Dougie/Cooper is busy sitting in his office, drawing stuff and ignoring his former friend, Anthony Sinclair (Tom Sizemore).  Both Janey-E and the police — led by Detective Fusco (David Koechner) — enter the office at nearly the same time.

Fusco wants to know about Dougie’s car.  As usual, Dougie/Cooper has little to say, though he is fascinated by the officer’s badges.  (“Badge,” he says as he reaches forward.)  When Janey-E asks if Dougie’s car was stolen, Dougie replies, “Stolen.”  The police all get their notebooks out and start taking notes.  Janey-E demands to know what’s happening and Fusco reveals that Dougie’s car was blown up.  Fortunately, Janey-E is there to do the talking.

(And let me just say that I totally and absolutely loved this scene, everything from the performances to the fact that, after all this time, absolutely no one seems to realize that Dougie/Cooper is acting strangely.  Another thing that I liked is that all three of the detectives were named Fusco — according to the credits they were E. Fusco, D. Fusco, and “Smiley” Fusco.)

As Janey-E and Dougie leave the office building, they are attacked by Ike the Spike (Christophe Zajac-Denek).  Fortunately, Ike bent his spike during the previous episode and is forced to come at Dougie with a gun.  However, Dougie/Cooper suddenly comes to life (perhaps Cooper’s FBI training somehow managed to kick in) and, along with Janey-E, they kick Ike’s homicidal ass.  While Dougie/Cooper is grabbing Ike’s gun, the mutated “arm” suddenly appears and orders, “Squeeze his hand off!  Squeeze his hand off!”  Dougie/Cooper gets the gun out of Ike’s hands and Ike runs off to parts unknown.

The police and the media arrive.  As Dougie/Cooper blankly stares forward (a bit like Chance the Gardner in Being There, to be honest), a very animated Janey-E tells the story of how Dougie took down the assassin.  Other onlookers — some of whom look traumatized by the whole thing — also tell what they saw.  One woman proudly announces that Dougie Jones is not a victim.  “He moves like a Cobra!”

At the Great Northern, Ben and Beverly (Ashley Judd) are in his office.  Beverly has been hearing a strange hum in the office.  Pervy old Ben walks around the office with her, searching for the source of the buzz.  As they do so, Beverly shows him that an old room key came in the mail.  Ben looks at it and, after mentioning that the Great Northern switched for keys to cards over twenty years ago, he notices that it’s from 315.  Ben says that he thinks that was the room where Agent Cooper was shot.

“Who is Agent Cooper?” Beverly asks.

“He was here 25 years ago,” Ben explains, “investigating the murder of Laura Palmer.”

“Who’s Laura Palmer?” Beverly asks.

“That, my dear, is a long story,” Ben says.

The buzzing continues as Lynch’s camera glides across the office, finally focusing on one of the wooden walls.

Beverly returns home, where her sickly husband, Tom (Hugh Dillon) is waiting and angry.  He wants to know why Beverly was late.  Beverly says some things came up at work.  When Tom says that he doesn’t want his dinner, Beverly snaps.  “I know you’re sick and in pain,” she tells him, “but do not use that to fuck with me!”  Tom stares at her as she asks if he realizes how lucky she is to have gotten her job.  “Do not fuck this up for me, Tom!” she yells.

At the roadhouse, we spend two minutes watching an anonymous janitor sweep the place up while Jean-Michel Renault (Walter Olkewicz) cleans up behind the bar.  Jean-Michel gets a call and, judging from the conversation, Jean-Michel is just as bad as his brothers.  He talks about sending someone two blondes.  As I rewatched the episode for this review, I heard something that I somehow missed the first time I watched it.  Jean-Michel says that the Renault family has owned the roadhouse for over fifty years.  That explains why there’s always a Renault working there, despite the fact that the family has, in some way, been involved with every bad thing that has ever happened in Twin Peaks.

At the prison in South Dakota, Evil Cooper and Ray Monroe (George Griffith) are allowed to leave their cells and the prison.  Outside, a car and a gun are waiting for them.  Murphy watches as they drive off.

From this sordid and menacing scene, we return to Twin Peaks.  This episode ends at the diner, where Shelley (Madchen Amick) is pouring coffee and Norma (Peggy Lipton) is looking over the bills.  A man ducks into the diner.  “Hey,” he yells, “has anyone seen Bing!?” After being told no, the man leaves.

And life goes on as the end credits role…

Twin Peaks on TSL:

  1. Twin Peaks: In the Beginning by Jedadiah Leland
  2. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.1 — The Pilot (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  3. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.2 — Traces To Nowhere (directed by Duwayne Dunham) by Jedadiah Leland
  4. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.3 — Zen, or the Skill To Catch A Killer (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  5. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.4 “Rest in Pain” (dir by Tina Rathbone) by Leonard Wilson
  6. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.5 “The One-Armed Man” (directed by Tim Hunter) by Jedadiah Leland
  7. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.6 “Cooper’s Dreams” (directed by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  8. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.7 “Realization Time” (directed by Caleb Deschanel) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  9. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.8 “The Last Evening” (directed by Mark Frost) by Leonard Wilson
  10. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.1 “May the Giant Be With You” (dir by David Lynch) by Leonard Wilson
  11. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.2 “Coma” (directed by David Lynch) by Jedadiah Leland
  12. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.3 “The Man Behind The Glass” (directed by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Jedadiah Leland
  13. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.4 “Laura’s Secret Diary” (dir by Todd Holland) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  14. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.5 “The Orchid’s Curse” (dir by Graeme Clifford) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  15. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.6 “Demons” (dir by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Leonard Wilson
  16. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.7 “Lonely Souls” (directed by David Lynch) by Jedadiah Leland
  17. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.8 “Drive With A Dead Girl” (dir by Caleb Deschanel) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  18. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.9 “Arbitrary Law” (dir by Tim Hunter) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  19. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.10 “Dispute Between Brothers” (directed by Tina Rathbone) by Jedadiah Leland
  20. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.11 “Masked Ball” (directed by Duwayne Dunham) by Leonard Wilson
  21. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.12 “The Black Widow” (directed by Caleb Deschanel) by Leonard Wilson
  22. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.13 “Checkmate” (directed by Todd Holland) by Jedadiah Leland
  23. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.14 “Double Play” (directed by Uli Edel) by Jedadiah Leland
  24. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.15 “Slaves and Masters” (directed by Diane Keaton) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  25. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.16 “The Condemned Woman” (directed by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Leonard Wilson
  26. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.17 “Wounds and Scars” (directed by James Foley) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  27. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.18 “On The Wings of Love” (directed by Duwayne Dunham) by Jedadiah Leland
  28. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.19 “Variations on Relations” (directed by Jonathan Sanger) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  29. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.20 “The Path to the Black Lodge” (directed by Stephen Gyllenhaal) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  30. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.21 “Miss Twin Peaks” (directed by Tim Hunter) by Leonard Wilson
  31. TV Review: Twin Peaks 22.2 “Beyond Life and Death” (directed by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  32. Film Review: Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  33. Here’s The Latest Teaser for Showtime’s Twin Peaks by Lisa Marie Bowman
  34. Here’s The Newest Teaser for Showtime’s Twin Peaks by Lisa Marie Bowman
  35. 12 Initial Thoughts About Twin Peaks: The Return Parts One and Two by Lisa Marie Bowman
  36. This Week’s Peaks: Parts One and Two by Ryan C. (trashfilm guru)
  37. TV Review: Twin Peaks: The Return Parts One and Two (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  38. 4 Shots From 4 Films: Special Twin Peaks Edition by Lisa Marie Bowman
  39. This Week’s Peaks: Parts Three and Four by Ryan C. (trashfilm guru)
  40. 14 Initial Thoughts About Twin Peaks: The Return Part Three by Lisa Marie Bowman (dir by David Lynch)
  41. 10 Initial Thoughts About Twin Peaks: The Return Part Four by Lisa Marie Bowman (dir by David Lynch)
  42. TV Review: Twin Peaks: The Return Parts Three and Four (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman 
  43. 18 Initial Thoughts About Twin Peaks: The Return Part 5 (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  44. This Week’s Peaks: Part Five by Ryan C. (trashfilm guru)
  45. TV Review: Twin Peaks: The Return: Part 5 (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  46. 14 Initial Thoughts On Twin Peaks Part 6 (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  47. This Week’s Peaks: Part Six by Ryan C. (trashfilm guru)
  48. TV Review: Twin Peaks: The Return Part 6 (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  49. 12 Initial Thoughts on Twin Peaks: The Return Part 7 (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  50. This Week’s Peaks: Part Seven by Ryan C. (trashfilm guru)

Music Video of the Day: Talking In Your Sleep by The Romantics (1983, dir. ???)

This is another one of those music videos where I have no idea why there isn’t a director listed anywhere. I can tell you why they look like they just woke up in this video. I don’t have the book yet, but by way of Songfacts, the book MTV Ruled The World: The Early Years Of Music Video has a quote from lead-singer Jimmy Marinos where he mentions that they shot the video at 8:00 AM–“not really rock ‘n’ roll hours.”

I’ve heard this song so many times, but I can’t say I paid much attention to the video. I have questions.

The video starts off, and we see someone taking off their shoe and what looks like a dress. That’s followed by this lady pointing at the floor.

I wouldn’t think anything of it were it not for the fact that the next shot is of her taking off her bra, before the shot of her arms in the air to have her PJs fall onto her.

Then one of the weirdest parts of the video happens. The band appears to rise from the tarp.

Given their outfits, it really looks like they were part of the tarp, rose, and took on the form of human beings.

We get some shots of them walking amongst this place where apparently all women go when they sleep.

It begs the question, where do the men go?

Now we get a shot of only the lead-singer.

Then the other members of the band pop into the shot.

Now we know they can do that effect.

One of the members of the band walks between two lines of the women like he works at a camp and is making sure all the kids are asleep. The women appear to reach out either to grab him or to hold onto each other’s hands.

That means that their presence effects sleep. Case in point, the next set of shots.

They have magical powers? Will this transformation carry over to the real world? Is this temporary? Is he fulfilling her dream by making her look the way she wishes she did? By that, I mean a 1950’s icon to go with the band’s appearance.

After some more shots of the band playing so that they can finish the song, we can see the band walking off like they are ghosts.

So, why the rising from the floor bit? I mean other than that it looks neat. Were they ghosts this whole time?

Finally, the women appear to be waking up before the camera quickly fades to black.

Does that mean they live there? If the camera had stayed on them longer, would they have teleported out? Is there a reason they didn’t have the band walk out of frame, and then have all the women fade out of the shot to imply they are leaving the dreamworld? We already saw that they could teleport people into the video because they did with the shots of the band.

I really hope the music video for the Bucks Fizz cover version is more straightforward-no it isn’t.


30 Days Of Surrealism:

  1. Street Of Dreams by Rainbow (1983, dir. Storm Thorgerson)
  2. Rock ‘n’ Roll Children by Dio (1985, dir. Daniel Kleinman)
  3. The Thin Wall by Ultravox (1981, dir. Russell Mulcahy)
  4. Take Me Away by Blue Öyster Cult (1983, dir. Richard Casey)
  5. Here She Comes by Bonnie Tyler (1984, dir. ???)
  6. Do It Again by Wall Of Voodoo (1987, dir. ???)
  7. The Look Of Love by ABC (1982, dir. Brian Grant)
  8. Eyes Without A Face by Billy Idol (1984, dir. David Mallet)
  9. Somebody New by Joywave (2015, dir. Keith Schofield)
  10. Twilight Zone by Golden Earring (1982, dir. Dick Maas)
  11. Schism by Tool (2001, dir. Adam Jones)
  12. Freaks by Live (1997, dir. Paul Cunningham)
  13. Loverboy by Billy Ocean (1984, dir. Maurice Phillips)