The Seniors (1978, directed by Rod Amateau)


Four college seniors (including one played by Dennis Quaid) are upset at the prospect of graduating, having to get real job, and losing Sylvia (Priscilla Barnes), the mute nymphomaniac who lives in their house with them and does all the cleaning and cooking.  They decide that the best way to avoid getting a real job is by setting up a fake company called Phantom Research.  They apply for and get a grant to study female sexuality, which essentially means that they pay the girls on campus to have sex with them.  Before you can say Risky Business (which was actually released years after this film), they expand their operations, get involved with some crooked businessmen, and nearly lose their lives.  It’s a comedy.

The Seniors is one of those films that used to come on television frequently when I was a kid.  I remember watching it when I was 12 and enjoying it, mostly because I was a stupid kid and I was at that age where any film about sex seemed clever and hilarious.  I recently rewatched it and discovered that there was only one funny bit and that was about a nerdy research assistant named Arnold (Rocky Flintermann) who helps out the seniors in return for them setting him up with Sylvia.  Throughout the film, the formerly virginal Arnold gets laid so often that he loses the ability to walk and then he dies.  Ha ha.  The rest of the film is just dumb.  The problem is that the film wants to be a raunchy, Animal House-style comedy but it was written by Stanley Shapiro (who previously wrote Doris Day comedies) and directed by Rod Amateau, who had previously directed several episodes of Gilligan’s Island.  Their style is all wrong for the material.

The film’s opening credits announce that it stars, among others, Ryan O’Neal, Clint Eastwood, and Charles Bronson.  A cartoon professor then walks out and announces that, “All of these big stars!  None of them are in this film!”  That’s too bad.  I would have liked to have seen some of those stars in this movie.  I think Eastwood would have told the seniors to get jobs and stop exploiting Sylvia.  Bronson would have blown away the entire operation but Ryan O’Neal probably would have been cool with it all.

O’Neal, Eastwood, and Bronson are not in the film.  Dennis Quaid is, though he probably doesn’t brag about.  Edward Andrews and Ian Wolfe both have minor roles as corrupt businessmen who help fund Phantom Research.  Alan Reed, the voice of Fred Flinstone, plays a professor.  This was his last performance before his death.

18 Days of Paranoia #10: The Quiller Memorandum (dir by Michael Anderson)


The 1966 film, The Quiller Memorandum, is a diabolically clever little spy thriller.

The film opens with a British secret agent getting gunned down while trying to make a call from a phone booth in Berlin.  While we never learn the exact name of the agency that the man was working for, we do discover that they don’t take kindly to their agents getting gunned down in phone booths.  They send in another agent, an American named Quiller (George Segal), to take his place.

In Berlin, Quiller’s boss is a man named Pol (Alec Guinness).  Pol explains that the man in the phone booth was actually the second of his agents to be assassinated in Berlin.  All of the agents were looking for information about a Neo-Nazi group called Phoenix.  Pol tells Quiller that it is vitally important they discover just where, in Berlin, Phoenix is headquartered.  Quiller is given a few items that were found on the dead man in the phone booth: a bowling alley ticket, a swimming pool ticket, and a newspaper article about a school where it was discovered that one of the teachers had Nazi sympathies.

Though The Quiller Memorandum was undoubtedly produced with the hopes of capitalizing on the popularity of the Bond films, Quiller is no James Bond.  We know that as soon as we see him.  It’s not just that Quiller’s an American while Bond was British.  It’s also that James Bond was played by the cool and calculating Sean Connery while Quiller is played by George Segal.  Whereas Connery’s Bond never loses his confidence, Segal’s Quiller comes across as being, at first, a bit cocky and, as a result, we worry about him.  Whereas Connery’s Bond rarely gave his actions a second thought, Segal brings a slightly neurotic edge to Quiller.  You take one look at Connery’s Bond and you know that he’s going to survive no matter what.  Quiller, however, you never get that feeling.  When he’s in danger, you worry about him because it’s easy to imagine him turning up like the man in the phone booth.

And, indeed, it doesn’t take long for Quiller to get captured by the members of Phoenix.  A man bumps him with a suitcase, injecting a drug into his system that makes Quiller become drowsy.  When Quiller awakens, he’s being interrogated by an erudite man named Oktober (Max von Sydow).  Oktober’s an aristocrat.  He speaks in a very calm tone, rarely showing any hint of anger.  The only thing that betrays his evil nature are his eyes, which are cold and soulless.

Even though Quiller survives the interrogation, it’s tempting to give up on him.  After all, Quiller got captured so easily and Oktober seems so clever that you kind of find yourself wondering if maybe the agency made a mistake when they gave this mission to Quiller.  That’s where The Quiller Memorandum surprises you, though.  Quiller turns out to be a lot more clever and resourceful than anyone gave him credit for being and, for that matter, the film itself turn out to have a few more twists and turns in store for the viewer.

It’s a clever and enjoyable spy film, featuring wonderful performances from Segal, Guinness, von Sydow, and Senta Berger as the teacher who may be in love with Quiller or who may have an agenda of her own.  The film may be a spy thriller but Michael Anderson directs it as if its a film noir, full of shadowy streets and morally ambiguous characters.  The script, by Harold Pinter, encourages us to trust no one and Anderson’s direction reminds us that we made the right decision.  On the dark streets of Cold War Berlin, no one is who they seem.

The Quiller Memorandum is a must-see for fans of 60 spy films.  Watch it with someone who you think you can trust.

Other Entries In The 18 Days Of Paranoia:

  1. The Flight That Disappeared
  2. The Humanity Bureau
  3. The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover
  4. The Falcon and the Snowman
  5. New World Order
  6. Scandal Sheet
  7. Cuban Rebel Girls
  8. The French Connection II
  9. Blunt: The Fourth Man 

4 Shots From 4 Films: Special Akira Kurosawa Edition


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

110 years ago today, Akira Kurosawa was born.  Today, we honor the life of one of the most influential directors in film history and that means that it’s time for:

4 Shots From 4 Films

Seven Samurai (1954, directed by Akira Kurosawa)

Yojimbo (1961, directed by Akira Kurosawa)

Ran (1987, directed by Akira Kurosawa)

Dreams (1990, directed by Akira Kurosawa)

If you’re on lockdown right now and you’re not at already a familiar with Japan’s greatest director, this is a great time to discover the works of Akira Kurosawa!

Music Video Of The Day: The Turn Of A Friendly Card by The Alan Parson Project (1980, directed by ????)


The Turn of a Friendly Card is the title track off of the Alan Parsons Project’s 5th studio album.  On the album, the track runs for 16 minutes and it’s split into five different suites.  The version that is featured in the music video is considerably shorter.

When this video came out, MTV was very young and music videos were still viewed as being mostly a curiosity.  Like a lot of videos from that era, this is a very simple video, just some photographs of a casino in Europe and then some money and some cards.  The members of the band don’t even appear in the video.  Within a few years after the release of this video, this type of simplicity would disappear as MTV become more popular and videos became more overproduced.

Enjoy!