Lisa’s Week In Review: 6/8/20 — 6/14/20

And so another week comes to an end!

There’s a lot of things happening in the world right now and I’m not even going to try to explain it all.  I’m far better at writing about movies than I am about writing about what’s happening right outside of my front door.  On the plus side, I can walk again!  I sprained my toe a week and a half ago.  I may be limping but I’m still getting around a lot better than I was a few days ago.  So yay for good news!

Here’s what I watched and read this week.  It seems like it should be more but …. oh well.

Films I Watched:

  1. All Night and A Day (2020)
  2. Da 5 Bloods (2020)
  3. Force of Evil (1948)
  4. Gambling House (1950)
  5. The Poseidon Adventure (1972)
  6. Race Street (1948)
  7. Racket Girls (1951)
  8. The Return of the Living Dead (1985)
  9. The Roaring Twenties (1939)
  10. Rob the Mob (2014)

Television Shows I Watched:

  1. Bar Rescue
  2. The Bold and the Beautiful
  3. Days of Our Lives
  4. Doctor Phil
  5. General Hospital
  6. Ghost Whisperer
  7. Gordon Ramsay’s 24 Hours To Hell and Back
  8. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
  9. Killer Kids
  10. Monty Python’s Flying Circus
  11. The Office
  12. Parking Wars
  13. World of Dance
  14. The Young and the Restless

Books I Read:

  1. Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center (2020) by Tyler O’Neil

Music To Which I Listened:

  1. Adi Ulmansky
  2. Armin van Buuren
  3. Bob Dylan
  4. Chicane
  5. Dam Funk
  6. Dillon Francis
  7. Donovan
  8. Ekkah
  9. Garbage
  10. Jakalope
  11. Jake Epstein
  12. Kygo
  13. Muse
  14. OneRepublic
  15. The Pretenders
  16. Saint Motel
  17. Savage Rose
  18. UPSAHL

Links From Last Week:

  1. As old media squabbles, new media thrives
  2. The American Press Is Destroying Itself
  3. Good Riddance to Cops and Live PD
  4. The 1793 Project Unmasked

News From Last Week:

  1. ‘Lost’ Italian village set to emerge from watery depths for the 1st time in 27 years
  2. ‘Cops,’ on air for 33 seasons, dropped by Paramount Network
  3. Film Academy Board Set to Postpone Oscars Ceremony and Extend Eligibility Window

Links From the Site:

  1. Erin shared the Shocking Covers of Super-Detective and: Dying Room Only, Film Fun, Scarlet Adventures, The Treasure of Pleasant Valley, Kiss Her Goodbye, Manhunt, and American Flags!
  2. Jeff shared music videos from Dishwalla, OMD, Depeche Mode, Earth & Fire, Earth & Fire again, The Clash, and George Harrison!  He also reviewed Threesome, Fatal Instinct, Hail Hero!, The Tie That Binds, The Big Fall, Striking Distance, and Escape to Victory!
  3. I reviewed The Roaring Twenties, Force of Evil, Rob the Mob, Gambling House, Race Street, and Racket Girls!
  4. Ryan reviewed Performance Video, Hometime, Twenty-One Fifty Fiverr, Softer than Sunshine, Galapagos, and Kyoto Pants Down!

More From Us:

  1. Ryan has a patreon.  Consider subscribing.
  2. At her photography site, Erin shared Driving, Three, Clouds in the Water, Dolls, Gray Sky, Bees and Butterflies, and Something To Look Forward To.
  3. On my music site, I shared music from Ekkah, Saint Motel, Chicane, Adi Ulmansky, Donovan, Garbage, and Kygo!

Want to see what I did last week?  Click here!

Escape to Victory (1981, directed by John Huston)

In 1942, during the height of World War II, Nazi Major Karl von Steiner (Max von Sydow) is surprised to discover that professional English footballer John Colby (Michael Caine) is a prisoner of war in France and that he has formed his own soccer league with his fellow POWs.  Seeing a chance for a propaganda coup, von Steiner arranges for a team led by Colby to be travel to occupied Pairs where they will play a match against the German national team.

Colby agrees, on the condition that it be a real game and that the teams not just be made up of officers.  At the insistence of his senior officers, Colby also allows an American prisoner named Robert Hatch (Sylvester Stallone) to serve as the team’s trainer.  Hatch is plotting to use the match as a cover for his own escape.  When it appears that there’s a chance for the entire team to escape during the match, Colby and his team are forced to choose between defeating the German team or making a run for freedom.

I think that, for most people, that wouldn’t be too difficult of a decision to make.  If I have to choose between escaping a POW camp or winning a match, I’m going to go down the tunnel and do what I have to do to make it across the English channel.  In the movie, though, it’s a matter of pride and I think Michael Caine is probably the only actor who could make such a conflict feel credible.  Though Stallone got both top billing and a romantic subplot with a member of the Resistance, it’s Michael Caine’s movie all the way through.  From the minute he demands to know “what the bloody hell” is going on, Michael Caine owns Escape to Victory.

Escape to Victory is an old-fashioned war film.  Think of it as being The Great Escape with tons of soccer kicked in.  Fans of the game will probably enjoy seeing legendary players like Pele and Bobby Moore cast as the POWs who make up Colby’s team.  The movie has some slow spots but it’s ultimately a rousing adventure, featuring good performances from Caine, von Sydow, and Sylvester Stallone.  It’s interesting to see Stallone cast as someone who isn’t automatically the best player on the field.

The film is based on a true story, one that sadly did not share this film’s happy ending.  In 1942, a group of Ukrainian POWs played an exhibition match against their German captors.  When the POWs won the match, the Germans responded by executing the majority of the players.  The true story of the Death Match (as it was later called) was told in 1962, in a Hungarian film called Two Half Times In Hell.

An Offer You Should Refuse #12: Racket Girls (dir by Robert C. Dertano)

The other night, I watched the 1951 film Racket Girls with a select group of friends.  We get together every Saturday night and watch a movie.  Usually, the movie’s pretty bad.  (For instance, we watched Disco Beaver From Outer Space one night.)  Still, I think Racket Girls might be the worst film we’ve seen to date.

Racket Girls tells the story about how the mob infiltrated the sport of professional wrestling.  Umberto Scali (Timothy Farrell) and his little friend Joe (Don Ferrara) make their living managing female wrestlers but it turns out that the wrestling hall is really a front for all of Umberto’s illegal activities.  We’re told that there’s a lot of illegal activities going on but we don’t really see many of them.  Anyway, Umberto borrows too much money from Mr. Big and then he gets the police mad at him and it looks like it all might lead to a bad end for Umberto and his little friend Joe.

Or maybe not.  Who knows?  This movie is only a 67 minutes long but it’s next to impossible to actually follow the plot.  To be honest, I found the complete lack of background music to be more interesting than the plot itself.  It gave the film a strangely existential feel.  There’s no music.  There’s no entertainment.  There’s just a lot of wrestling and bullets.

In fact, I’d say that the film is 75% wrestling, which …. well, I guess whether or not that works depends on whether or not you’re a fan of grainy professional wrestling footage.  I’m not a huge fan, though I’ve seen some good wrestling movies that were smart enough to explore the real people behind the outsized personas.  In Racket Girls, no one really has a personality and no one has a persona either.  There’s a lot of overhead shots of a wrestling ring and we hear what sounds like a crowd cheering even though we never actually see them.  It’s actually a bit of an odd effect.  It makes the wrestling scenes seem positively surreal.  I kept waiting for that strange radiator woman from Eraserhead to step out in the ring and start singing, In Heaven, Everything Is Fine….

Anyway, the film does make a legitimate point about mob’s influence in professional sports.  Umberto, it should be noted, doesn’t appear to be a very smart gangster.  That’s his downfall.  Still, if you enjoy watching movie featuring tough guys in black suits threatening each other …. well, this film probably still isn’t for you.  I mean, a few of the actors playing the gangsters have got the look down but no one’s particularly convincing.  It’s like a community theater production of The Sopranos or something.  It’s like they remade Scarface with Justin Bieber.

As I watched this film, I found myself wondering whether or not Ed Wood was involved because the film just feels like an Ed Wood production.  Also, it should be noted that Racket Girls was produced by George Weiss, who produced several of Wood’s films and that star Timothy Farrell appeared in at least 3 Wood-directed films.  Ed Wood’s name doesn’t appear anywhere in the credit but I swear, this film has his finger prints all over it.

I’m probably making Racket Girls sound more amusing than it actually is.  This is an incredibly boring movie.  My friends nearly abandoned me about ten minutes into the movie and that hardly ever happens.  I had to beg them to stay and watch the rest of the film.  (I told them that there was a cartoon coming up that featured the first appearance of Bobba Fett.  That was the same line I used to keep them from abandoning me two years ago when we were watching The Star Wars Holiday Special.)  This is an offer that you can refuse.  In fact, you should refuse it.

Previous Offers You Can’t (or Can) Refuse:

  1. The Public Enemy
  2. Scarface
  3. The Purple Gang
  4. The Gang That Could’t Shoot Straight
  5. The Happening
  6. King of the Roaring Twenties: The Story of Arnold Rothstein 
  7. The Roaring Twenties
  8. Force of Evil
  9. Rob the Mob
  10. Gambling House
  11. Race Street

Music Video Of The Day: Crackerbox Palace by George Harrison (1976, directed by Eric Idle)

Yes, this video was directed by Eric Idle of Monty Python fame.  Idle appears in the video, as does Neil Innes.  (Innes plays several roles, including the woman pushing the carriage at the start of the video.)  This video was shot on the grounds of Harrison’s estate, Friar Park (which was also known as, you guessed it, Crackerbox Palace).  The video made its debut on the November 20th, 1976 episode of Saturday Night Live.  SNL, that week, was hosted by Paul Simon and featured both Simon and Harrison as the musical guests.

The name Crackerbox Palace was originally used as the name for the Los Angeles estate that was owned by Lord Buckley, a comedian who was admired by Harrison and whom it was felt that Harrison physically resembled.  Harrison wrote the song after meeting Lord Buckley’s former manager, George Grief.  Harrison also payed homage to Blazing Saddles in the song, repeating Madeline Khan’s famous line of “It’s twoo, it’s twoo” during the instrumental breaks.

This whimsical video reflects Harrison’s sense of humor (not to mention Idle’s).  Harrison, with his reputation for being the spiritual Beatle, never seems to get enough attention for his sense of humor.