The Abyss Parties Also : Casanova Frankenstein’s “The Adventures Of Tad Martin Super-Secret Special” #1


Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Man, it’s been awhile.

Not as long a while as the gap — no, make that gulf — between Casanova Frankenstein’s The Adventures Of Tad Martin #5 and The Adventures Of Tad Martin #sicksicksix, a book that was literally a couple of decades in the making, but still — four or five years, by my count, is a pretty long wait. Still, as always with The Cartoonist Formerly Known As Al Frank, the wait has proven to be more than worth it.

That being said, in order to fully appreciate Frankenstein’s latest, entitled The Adventures Of Tad Martin Super-Secret Special #1, you have to be a bit of a “process-lover” — or, perhaps more accurately, a “progress lover,” as in “work in.” This is no place for fans of the polished, the refined, the sanitized — this is the straight dope, right from our guy Cassie’s subconscious to his…

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Lisa Reviews An Oscar Winner: The Greatest Show on Earth (dir by Cecil B. DeMille)


Jimmy Stewart is Buttons the Clown!

Listen, there’s a lot of things that can be said about the 1952 Best Picture winner, The Greatest Show on Earth.  Not only was it one of three Cecil B, DeMille films to be nominated for best picture (along with 1934’s Cleopatra and 1956’s The Ten Commandments) but it was also the only one to win.  It brought Cecil B. DeMille his first and only nomination for best director.  (DeMille lost that directing Oscar to John Ford but he still took home an award, as the producer of The Greatest Show On Earth.)  The Greatest Show on Earth not only featured Charlton Heston in his first starring role but, with a finale that featured everyone involved in the same spectacular train crash, it also set the standard for the countless disaster movies that would follow.

But, with all of that in mind, the main thing that you’ll remember about this movie is that Jimmy Stewart was Buttons the Clown.

Buttons is a beloved member of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s Circus.  He travels with the circus across the country, entertaining children and generally helping out wherever he can.  Everyone loves Buttons, despite the fact that no one has ever seen him without his makeup.  (That said, you only have to hear him speak to immediately recognize him as being played by Jimmy Stewart.)  Not even the circus’s no-nonsense manager, Brad Braden (Charlton Heston, naturally), knows what Buttons actually looks like.  Everyone assumes that Buttons is just a dedicated performer, a method clown.

However, it turns out that Buttons has a secret.  Of course, nearly everyone at the circus has a secret but Buttons’s secret is a little bit more serious than just a love triangle or a case of professional jealousy.  There’s a reason why Buttons is surprisingly good at providing first aid to the members of the circus.  Before he was a clown, Buttons was a doctor.  And, while he was a doctor, he killed his wife.

NO!  NOT JIMMY STEWART!

In Buttons’s defense, it was a mercy killing and he feels really bad about it.  That, of course, doesn’t matter to the FBI agent (Henry WIlcoxon) who suspects that the doctor may be hiding among the circus performers.  At first, Buttons views that train crash as the perfect opportunity to escape but then he finds out that many of his fellow performers have been seriously injured.  A doctor is needed.  Perhaps even a doctor in clown makeup….

Even under all that makeup, Jimmy Stewart does a great job of bringing Buttons to life.  Sometimes, we associate Stewart so much with his famous way of speaking that we overlook just what a good actor Jimmy Stewart actually was.  Even before you discover why Buttons is running from the cops, Stewart does a good job of capturing the sadness and the regret that lies at the heart of Button.  He’s truly a tragic clown.

Buttons’s status as a fugitive is just one of the many subplots to be found in The Greatest Show On Earth.  There’s a lot of drama (not to mention parades and performances) to get through before that train crashes.  Brad, for instance, is struggling to keep the circus from going bankrupt.  Meanwhile, his girlfriend, Holly (Betty Hutton), is torn between him and the arrogant but charming Great Sebastian (Cornel Wilde).  In fact, every woman in the circus — including Gloria Grahame and Dorothy Lamour — is in love with the Great Sebastian.  Sebastian is a bit self-centered but he’s famous enough to ensure that the circus won’t have to be closed.  Or, at least, he is until he’s injured in a trapeze accident.  Will Sebastian ever perform again?  Meanwhile, there’s a jealous elephant trainer named Klaus (Lyle Bettinger) and a crooked concessionaire named Harry (John Kellog).  A local gangster, Mr. Henderson (Lawrence Tierney), is trying to muscle his way into the circus’s business.  Is it any surprise that Brad always seems to be in something of a bad mood?  He’s got a lot to deal with!

And yes, it’s all a bit overblown and a bit silly.  And yes, the film really does feel like it was meant to be a commercial for Ringling Bros.  And yet, in its way, the film definitely works.  There’s a sincerity at the heart of the film, one that’s epitomized by Cecil B. DeMille’s opening narration.  “”A fierce, primitive fighting force that smashes relentlessly forward against impossible odds: That is the circus — and this is the story of the biggest of the Big Tops — and of the men and women who fight to make it — The Greatest Show On Earth!”  DeMille was 71 years old when he made The Greatest Show On Earth and he was coming to the end of a legendary filmmaking career.  DeMille was one of the founders of the American film industry and you can argue that, if not for some of his silent spectacles, Hollywood would have always remained just a neglected suburb of Los Angeles.  If anyone understood that importance of that old saying, “The show must go on!,” it was Cecil B. DeMille.  And really, that’s what The Greatest Show On Earth is all about.  It’s a tribute to the performers who refuse to give up.  Love triangles?  Fugitive clowns?  Injured acrobats?  Lawrence Tierney?  No matter what, the show must go on!

The Greatest Show On Earth is often described as being one of the worst films to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.  That has more to do with the quality of the films that it beat — High Noon, The Quiet Man, Moulin Rouge, and Ivanhoe — than the film itself.  The Greatest Show On Earth is old-fashioned and a bit silly but it’s still entertaining.  Should it have beaten High Noon?  That would be a definite no.  But it’s still better than Crash.

Yukon Gold: THE SPOILERS (Universal 1942)


cracked rear viewer

What’s this?? A “Northern” Western set in 1900 Alaska Gold Rush territory starring my two favorite cowboys, John Wayne and Randolph Scott ? With the ever-enticing Marlene Dietrich thrown in as a sexy saloon owner? Count me in! THE SPOILERS is a big, brawling, boisterous film loaded with romance, action, and, most importantly,  a sense of humor. It’s the kind of Hollywood entertainment epic that, as they say, “just don’t make ’em like that anymore”. I’ve never been quite sure who “they” are, but in regards to THE SPOILERS, they’re right – and more’s the pity!

Rex Beach’s popular 1906 novel had been filmed three times before (1914, 1923, 1930), and would be one more time after (in 1955), but with The Duke, Rugged Randy, and La Dietrich on board, this has got to be the best of the bunch. Even though audiences were more than familiar with the story…

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Hottie of the Day: Bae Joo-hyun


BAE JOO-HYUN

Irene 01

It’s been awhile since the site has been graced with a particular beauty. Despite the title of the feature, this was something that doesn’t happen on a daily basis just for the fact that I’m pretty picky on who I choose to be the next visual.

Since it’s K-Pop which has brought me back to a semblance of activity on this here site of mine it’s just natural that it would be a visually stunning and talented K-Pop artist who is the site’s latest “Hottie of the Day.” It’s also not a surprise that she’s a member of my favorite K-Pop group.

The latest entry comes courtesy of the group Red Velvet’s leader and group visual: Irene aka Bae Joo-hyun.

Irene was born March 29, 1991 in Daegu, South Korea and for the past 5 years has been the leader and member of the K-Pop girl group Red Velvet. As with most K-Pop idols, she would join one of the K-Pop entertainment corporation SM Entertainment in 2009 and spend the next 5 years as a trainee (learning how to hone her dancing, singing and stage performances in addition to the usual school work).

She would soon debut in 2014 as a member and the leader of SM Entertainment’s newest girl group, Red Velvet. the group’s success will propel the group to becoming one of K-Pop’s top girl groups of the current era. It would also open up new areas of opportunity for Irene as she’s spent time between album’s as tv hosts for some of South Korea’s many variety shows.

Irene’s latest achievement comes from the modeling side of her career as she has become the latest muse for the exclusive luxury jewelry brand Damiani for their 2019 collection. This makes her the first Asian to become a muse for the Italian jeweler.

Irene 02Irene 03Irene 04Irene 05Irene 06Irene 07Irene 08

PAST HOTTIES

Lisa Reviews An Oscar Nominee: The Pied Piper (dir by Irving Pichel)


The 1942 Best Picture nominee, The Pied Piper, opens in Eastern France, shortly after the outbreak of World War II.

John Sidney Howard (played by Monty Woolley) is an Englishman on holiday.  He says that he just wants to enjoy some fishing before the entire continent of Europe descends into chaos.  He knows that France is going to be invaded at some point and he even suspects that the country will probably fall to the Nazis.  In his 70s and still mourning the death of his son (who was killed during an air battle over occupied Poland), Mr. Howard just wants to enjoy France one last time.  Despite the fact that the bearded Howard bears a resemblance to a thin Santa Claus, he’s quick to declare his dislike of both children and humanity in general.  He’s a misanthrope, albeit a rather friendly one.

Howard’s plans change when the Nazis invade France sooner than he expected.  With his vacation canceled, Howard just wants to get back to England.  Complicating matters is that a diplomat named Cavanaugh (Lester Matthews) has asks Howard to take his children, Ronnie (Roddy McDowall) and Sheila (Peggy Ann Garner), back to England with him.  Despite his self-declared dislike of children, Howard agrees.  However, it turns out that getting out of France won’t be as easy as Howard assumed.  After their train gets diverted by the Nazis, Howard, Ronnie ,and Sheila are forced to take a bus.  After almost everyone else on the bus is killed in a surprise Nazi attack, Howard and the children are forced to continue on foot and rely on the kindness of a young French woman, Nicole Rougeron (Anne Baxer).

Throughout the journey, Howard keeps collecting more and more children.  Everyone wants to get their children to a safe place and Howard soon has a small entourage following him.  Unfortunately, he also has Gestapo Major Diessen (an excellent Otto Preminger) watching him.  How far is Howard willing to go to ensure the safety of the children?

The Pied Piper is an interesting film, in that it starts out as something of a comedy but it then gets progressively darker as events unfold.  At the beginning of the film, it appears that the whole thing is just going to be Howard getting annoyed with the precocious Ronnie and Sheila.  But then that bus is attacked and Howard find himself accompanied by a young boy who has been left in a state of shock by the attack.  When the group is joined by a young Jewish child named Pierre, it’s a reminder that, though the film itself may have been shot on an American soundstage, the stakes and the dangers in occupied Europe were all too real.

The Pied Piper was nominated for Best Picture of the year.  Viewed today, it may seem like an unlikely nominee.  It’s a well-made movie and Monty Woolley gives a good performance as John Sidney Howard.  It’s the type of film that, due to the sincerity of its anti-Nazi message, should bring tears to the eyes of the most hardened cynic but, at the same time, there’s nothing particularly ground-breaking or aesthetically unique about it.  Still, from a historical point of view, it’s not a surprise that this competent but conventional film was nominated.  With America having just entered the war, The Pied Piper was a film that captured the national spirit.  Other World War II films nominated in 1942 included 49th Parallel, Wake Island, and the eventual winner, Mrs. Miniver.

In fact, one could argue that The Pied Piper is almost a cousin to Mrs. Miniver.  Both films are not only anti-German but also unapologetically pro-British.  Just as Greer Garson did in Mrs. Miniver, Monty Woolley is meant to be less of an individual and more of a stand-in for Britain itself.  When both Mrs. Miniver and Mr. Howard refused to surrender in the face of German aggression, these movies were proudly proclaiming that the British would never lose hope or surrender either.

Thankfully, the movies were correct.

Music Video of the Day: Hey Juliet by LMNT (2001, dir by ????)


The year was 2000 and Lou Pearlman, the super creepy music producer who would later die in prison, was putting together a boy band called O-Town.  Because it was also the early days of reality TV, Pearlman was also producing a show called Making the Band, so that viewers could follow as Pearlman auditioned and selected the members of his new band.

In the end Pearlman selected five young men to be the members of the O-Town.  He announced that not only would they be stars but that he would also pretty much control every aspect of their lives and music.  Four members of the band were okay with that.  Ikaika Kahoano was not.  Declaring both Pearlman and O-Town to be “wack,” Kahoano left O-Town and instead, got together with two other musicians who auditioned for a spot with the boy band, Bryan Chan and Mike Miller.  They were signed by Atlantic Records, who promptly held a contest in the pages of Teen People to select a name for the new band.  The winner?  LMNT (as in Element).

Now, since every boy band has to have at least four members, Matthew Morrison was recruited to serve as the fourth member of LMNT.  If that name sounds familiar, that’s because he later went on to play Mr. Schuester on Glee.  Morrison was apparently as miserable in LMNT as Kahoana was in O-Town because he left the band before they recorded their first album.  Morrison was replaced by Jonas Persch.

With all the drama that went into forming the band, it can be easy to overlook their music.  It was pretty much standard 2001 boy band stuff.  In fact, there’s little distinguish LMNT from O-Town, except for the fact that LMNT didn’t have Lou Pearlman stalking around in the background.  Instead, they had Disney.  For instance, their song Hey Juliet first gained popularity when it was featured on an episode of Lizzie McGuire.

The video for Hey Juliet …. well, it’s all about doing laundry and having fantasies and, amazingly enough, there’s four members of the band and there’s four women in the laundromat so no one gets left out.  If you had any doubt that this song was from 2001, the Matrix homage will erase them.

Enjoy!

(As for LMNT, they broke up around 2003.)