A Movie A Day #53: Ghost Town Renegades (1947, directed by Ray Taylor)


gtrWhen a federal surveyor disappears while checking out the ghost town of Waterhole, the U.S. Marshall sends Cheyenne Davis (Lash La Rue) and Fuzzy Jones (Al “Fuzzy” St. John) to investigate.  It turns out that gold has been discovered around Waterhole, on land owned by the Trent Family.  Bad guy Vance Sharpe (Jack Ingram) is trying to kill the last remaining Trents — Rodney (Steve Frost) and his daughter, Diane (Jennifer Holt) — so that he can claim the land as his own.  As Cheyenne and Fuzzy investigate, there are plenty of shootouts, fist fights, and an out of control stagecoach.  Since this is a Lash LaRue film, there is also a lot of exciting bullwhip action.

If you’re like me, the name Lash La Rue immediately makes you think of Pulp Fiction and Harvey Keitel asking John Travolta, “What about you, Lash La Rue, can you keep your spurs from jingling and jangling?”  But, long before Quentin Tarantino ever came up with that line of dialogue, Lash La Rue was a legitimate Western star, starring in several B-westerns in the 1940s and 50s.  What set Lash apart from other western stars was that he looked like he could have been Humphrey Bogart’s younger brother, he always wore black, and he often used a bullwhip instead of a gun.  In fact, when Harrison Ford needed someone to train him how to use a bullwhip for Raiders of the Lost Ark, 65 year-old Lash La Rue was the man that they called.

I have read that Ghost Town Renegades is considered to be the best of La Rue’s movies.  I haven’t seen enough of them to say whether it’s the best but Ghost Town Renegades is an entertaining and fast-paced B-western.  Lash La Rue is good with a whip, Jennifer Holt is beautiful, and not even the broad comedy of Fuzzy St. John detracts.

Interesting to note: Jennifer Holt, who co-starred in several of La Rue’s movies, was the daughter of Jack Holt and the sister of Tim Holt, both of whom were prominent western stars themselves.

Music Video of the Day: We The People…. by A Tribe Called Quest (2016, dir. James Larese)


I figured it was appropriate to follow up Fight The Power by Public Enemy with this music video. I think the music video does an excellent job. I was going to try and interpret the whole video, but I have trouble with lyrics and what I see as the ending, seems to be in direct contradiction with what the director says he intended in the behind-the-scenes video at the end of this post. So, I’ll leave it mostly to you.

I cannot let the post go without mentioning my thoughts on the ending though. The video would appear to have the people following the cords that should lead back to the band. The director even says in the behind-the-scenes video that they do arrive where the band is broadcasting from. But that’s not what you see in the video. It almost gets there with the people running down what should be the tunnels leading to the room, and you can even see a shot in the behind-the-scenes video with them in the room, but it isn’t in the video. I have a feeling that behind-the-scenes video was shot, and then some editing was done to the finished product. The end of the video has Q-Tip alone while a siren plays, then cuts to the protest. I can imagine Q-Tip personally telling Larese that having them show up in the same room as him would defeat the point of the song. It would show the people not rising up for themselves. It would show people rallying to a new king, so to speak. In other words, to borrow from Ozzy Osbourne, since the song does sample Black Sabbath:

“You gotta believe in someone
Asking me who is right
Asking me who to follow
Don’t ask me
I don’t know
I don’t know
I don’t know
I don’t know”
–I Don’t Know by Ozzy Osbourne

I can see them cutting Q-Tip actually seeing them arrive, and instead abruptly cut to the protest. That’s how I read it.

They sample the Black Sabbath song Behind The Wall Of Sleep, which is appropriate since they also did War Pigs and The Mob Rules.

I’ve included War Pigs (live & studio) and The Mob Rules by Black Sabbath below since they are relevant to this song. I’m guessing that the siren at the end is from, or at least a reference to the one from War Pigs, which began the song, rather than ended it.

James Larese directed the video and Cisco Newman produced it. Thanks to BWW Music World we have this quote from Larese:

“I was hugely influenced by Tribe growing up and never imagined I’d be here directing their video. They are just as relevant today as they were 20 years ago. ‘We the People’ touched me on a visceral level. One of the reasons I co-founded Triggr & Bloom, perhaps the main reason, was to position my art to a higher purpose. Working with them was an incredible affirmation for me.”
–James Larese

I can find that Newman has worked on 15-20 music videos in the past few years. He was even nominated for a Grammy for “Weird Al” Yankovic’s music video for Perform This Way.

Here is when A Tribe Called Quest performed We The People…. on SNL:

Finally, here is the behind-the-scenes video that was put out on the video:

Enjoy!

A Movie A Day #52: Overexposed (1990, directed by Larry Brand)


overexposedSomeone is stalking soap opera star, Kristin (Catherine Oxenberg).  She is receiving frightening notes and her coworkers are dying.  Who is after her and what does it have to do with a tragic fire at a birthday party?  Is it one of her jealous co-stars?  Is it her duplicitous boyfriend (David Naughton)?  Is it the stranger (William Bumiller) that she’s having an affair with?  Or is it the obsessed fan (Karen Black)?  Detective Morrison (Larry Brand) is on the case!

The return of Detective Morrison (played, again, by the film’s director) makes Overexposed a sequel to The Drifter.  (Both films were directed by Brand and executive produced by Roger Corman).  Morrison has much more to do in Overexposed than he did in The Drifter so maybe the plan was to launch a low-budget franchise of Detective Morrison movies.  It didn’t happen, because Overexposed is much less interesting than The Drifter.  The spoiled and rich Kristin is never a likable character and the movie’s real star was Oxenberg’s busy body double, Shelley Michelle.

Overexposed does have a few good scenes, including death-by-acidic-facial-cream.  The best thing about movie is Karen Black, who brilliantly delivered a monologue about why she loves television.  It doesn’t have much to do with the rest of the movie but Karen Black knocked it out of the park.  The monologue ends with Karen Black paying homage to The Mod Squad by shouting out, “Solid!”

Overexposed was forgettable but Karen Black?

Karen Black was solid.

The Dollars Trilogy Pt 1: A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS (United Artists 1964)


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If the American Western film wasn’t completely dead in 1964, it was surely on life support. Television had saturated the market with weekly oaters to the point of overkill. John Wayne’s starring vehicles were still making money, but the rest of Hollywood’s big screen Westerns were mainly made to fill the bottom half of double feature bills, from Audie Murphy outings to the low budget, veteran laden films of producer A.C. Lyles.

Meanwhile in Italy, writer/director Sergio Leone was as tired of the sword & sandal films he was making as was his audience. He had a notion to revitalize the failing western genre by giving it a new, European perspective. Leone grew up on Hollywood westerns, and wanted to turn them on their ear by showing a more realistic, grittier version of the Old West. Searched high and low for an American name actor to star, Leone was turned down by the likes of Charles Bronson, James Coburn, and Rory Calhoun…

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Music Video of the Day: Fight The Power by Public Enemy (1989, dir. Spike Lee)


I had to do this video eventually. It’s one of those that’s so infamous that I’m going to point you to the Wikipedia article. I have no intention of discussing the messy history of Public Enemy. I will also point you to the video the Rap Critic did on the song.

I’m posting this while it’s still relevant to mention that this was the theme song for Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing (1989), which was the movie Barack and Michelle went to see on their first date.

As for the people who worked on the video, I honestly had no idea that Spike Lee directed music videos. According to mvdbase, he has done about 40 of them going back to White Lines by Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five in 1983. Oh, and yes, Lee did direct Hip Hop Hooray by Naughty By Nature. I guess that’s where that urban legend came from that Obama was in that music video.

The video was shot by Ernest Dickerson. He seems to have only shot 4 music videos, but there is one that is noteworthy considering he did this one. He shot Born In The U.S.A. by Bruce Springsteen. Dickerson went on to do a lot of work as both a cinematographer and a director, including episodes of The Walking Dead and the movie Juice (1992).

Hank Blumenthal was the script supervisor for this music video. I’m not sure if I’ve ever come across that credit before on a music video. He appears to have worked on about 10 music videos and has worked as a producer.

If you haven’t seen Do The Right Thing, then do so. If you haven’t heard this song or seen the video, then also do so.