Porky’s II: The Next Day (1983, directed by Bob Clark)

The teens of Angel Beach, Florida are back!  They’re still trying to get laid, they’re still playing pranks on each other, and, this time, they’re …. FIGHTING THE KLAN!?

Porky’s II continues with the first Porky’s mix of raunchiness and social commentary.  While Pee Wee (Dan Monahan) tries to get back at his friends for spending the whole previous movie making fun of the size of his dick, the other members of the large ensemble cast thwart an attempt by the Klan to keep them from putting on a Shakespearean showcase.  The Klan is upset that a Seminole has been cast as Romeo so they burn a cross and do everything they can to sabotage the production.  Also trying to keep the show from going on is the hypocritical Rev. Bubba Flavel (Bill Wiley) and Mrs. Balbricker (Nancy Parsons), who both consider Shakespeare’s plays to be obscene.  When Wendy (Kaki Hunter) discovers that one of the county commissioners has been lying about supporting the play, she humiliates him in public by pretending to vomit in a fountain and accusing him of impregnating her.  It’s slightly funnier than it sounds but just slightly.

The first Porky’s took a stand against anti-Semitism while the second Porky’s takes a stand against censorship and the Klan.  That’s actually pretty cool when you consider that both of these films are usually just thought of as being dumb sex comedies.  Just like the first film, Porky’s II may be raunchy but it has a conscience.  That was due to director Bob Clark, who obviously meant for the Porky’s films to be about more than just T&A.

Unfortunately, Porky’s II is never as funny as the first Porky’s.  Too many of the jokes are recycled from the first film and the cast’s habit of laughing at their own “humorous” lines is even more grating the second time around.  Even the film’s most famous scene, where Wendy humiliates the duplicitous commissioner, goes on for too long and doesn’t have as much of a payoff as it should.  The best scenes in the film are the scenes that were lifted from Hamlet, Romero & Juliet, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  You wouldn’t expect the ensemble of Porky’s to feature that many Shakespearean actors but apparently it did.  Fans of A Christmas Story, which was also directed by Clark and which came out the same year as Porky’s II, will especially want to pay attention to the MacBeth sword fight scene just because the famous holiday leg lamp makes an appearance.

Porky’s II is nowhere near as good or memorable as the first Porky’s but its heart is in the right place.  While not as big of a success as the first Porky’s, it still did well enough to lead to Porky’s III, which I’ll review tomorrow.

The Adventures of Steve Harragan and His Eye Patch

Who was Steve Harragan?  He was a hardboiled private investigator who was the main character of a handful of paperback detective novels that were all published in 1952 and 1953.  Though his adventures were not much different from those of any other P.I. of the pulp era, Steve Harragan has a cult following for two reasons.

First off, the author of Harragan’s adventures was also named Steve Harragan.  Did the author Steve Harragan name the character after himself or was “Steve Harragan” just a pseudonym for another author or perhaps several authors?  No one knows for sure, though all of Harragan’s novel were written in the first person.

Secondly, Steve Harragan the Detective only has one eye.  In almost every cover, he’s featured wearing an eye patch.

Here are a few of the Steve Harragan covers.  As always, the artist has been identified when known:

Author Unknown

Author Unknown

Author Unknown

by Bernard Safran

by Walter Popp

Author unknown. I’m not sure which one of these men is meant to be Harragan but you’ll notice that the eyepatch got left out of this cover.

30 More Days of Noir: The Killer Is Loose (dir by Budd Boetticher)

Film noir comes to the suburbs!

The Killer is Loose opens with the robbery of a savings and loan.  At first, it seems like meek bank teller Leon Poole (Wendell Corey) behaved heroically and kept the robbery from being far worse than it could have been.  How meek is Leon Poole?  He’s so meek that his nickname has always been Foggy.  People have always made fun of him because of his glasses and his bad eyesight.  Everyone assumes that Poole is just one of those quiet people who is destined to spend his entire life in obscurity.

However, the police soon discover that Leon Poole is not the hero that everyone thinks that he is.  Instead, he was involved in the robbery!  When Detective Sam Wagner (Joseph Cotten) leads a group of cops over to Poole’s house to arrest the bank teller, Poole’s wife is accidentally shot and killed.  At the subsequent trial, Poole swears that he’ll get vengeance.  And then he’s promptly sent off to prison.

Jump forward three years.  Leon Poole is still in prison.  He’s still deceptively meek.  He still wears glasses.  Everyone still assumes that he’s harmless.  Of course, that’s what Poole wants them to believe.  He’s still obsessed with getting his vengeance.  Meanwhile, Detective Wagner and his wife, Lila (Rhonda Fleming), are living in the suburbs and have a somewhat strained marriage.  Lila wants Wagner to find a less dangerous and less stressful job.  Wagner wants to keep busting crooks.

When Poole see a chance to escape from prison, he does so.  That’s not really a shock because even the quietest of people are probably going to take advantage of the chance to escape from prison.  What is a shock is that Poole ruthlessly murders a guard while making his escape.  He then kills a truck driver and steal the vehicle.  He then tracks down his old army sergeant and guns him down while the man’s wife watches.  Always watch out for the quiet ones, as they say.

Now, Poole has just one more target.  He wants to finish his revenge by killing Lila Wagner.

The Killer is Loose is a tough and, considering the time that it was made, brutal film noir.  (Seriously, the scene where Poole kills his former sergeant really took me by surprise.)  While both Rhonda Fleming and Joseph Cotten give good performances in their roles, it’s Wendell Corey who really steals the film.  Corey plays Poole not as an outright villain but instead as a man who has been driven mad by years and years of taunts.  After spend his entire life being told that he was a loser, Poole finally decided to do something for himself and, as a result, his wife ended up getting killed by the police.  Now that Poole’s managed to escape from prison, he’s willing to do anything just as long as he can get his final revenge.  Corey plays Poole with a smoldering resentment and the performance feels very real.  (If the film were made today, it’s easy to imagine that Poole would be an anonymous twitter troll, going through life with a smile on his face while unleashing his anger online.)  It brings a very real spark and feeling of danger to a film that would otherwise just be a standard crime film.

The Killer Is Loose also makes good use of its suburban setting, suggesting that both Fleming and Cotten have allowed themselves to get complacent with their life away from the obvious dangers of the big city.  You can buy a new house, the film seems to be saying, but you can’t escape the past.

Music Video of the Day: Since U Been Gone by Kelly Clarkson (2005, dir. by Alex de Rackoff)

Nostalgia is a powerful drug and it’s the main reason why Since U Been Gone is today’s music video of the day.  Whe I hear this song, I’m immediately zapped back to 2005 and I remember how Lisa and I got on everyone’s nerves by singing it at the top of our lungs every day during the holiday break.

I also remember really liking this video when I first saw it but now I realize that it actually doesn’t go with the song’s message.  The song is about how much happier Kelly is after getting out of a toxic relationship but in the video, Kelly’s destroying her ex’s new girlfriend’s apartment and acting like she’s got a fatal attraction going on.  She should have at least trashed her ex’s place and left the new girlfriend out of it.  This is still a good video, though, because we all have someone in our part whose apartment we would like to trash.