Shaker Run (1985, directed by Bruce Morrison)


Judd (Cliff Robertson) is an aging stunt driver who has been reduced to doing minor car shows in New Zealand.  He’s having trouble paying the bills and his young mechanic, Casey (Leif Garrett, looking like he’s a few days away from checking into rehab), is on him to do something — anything — to bring in some extra cash.  The opportunity presents itself when the duo are hired by an enigmatic woman named Christine (Lisa Harrow) to drive across New Zealand with a mysterious package hidden away in their trunk.  Christine will be accompanying them on their trip.  Sounds simple, right?

The only problem is that Christine is a research scientist who has developed a deadly new virus that she doesn’t want to get into the wrong hands.  She fears that the military might want to use it as bioweapon.  It turns out that she’s right and no sooner has Judd tapped the accelerator than they’re being chased across New Zealand by different factions, all who want the weapon for themselves.

Usually I love car chase scenes but Shaker Run didn’t really do much for me.  Some of the stunts are impressive but there’s also a lot of slow spots, especially at the start of the movie.  As I watched the chase scenes, I wondered why, if Christine is trying to sneak the virus out of the country, she would be stupid enough to hire someone who drives an incredibly conspicuous pink race car.  It’s not as if it’s going to be difficult for anyone to spot them on the road.  As well, one of the biggest chase scenes takes place during the dark of night, making it next to impossible to discern what’s actually going on.  The film also features Leif Garrett, giving a performance that’s obnoxious even for him.  What’s bad is that Garrett’s character probably could have been removed from the film without it making much difference.  If you’re going to put Leif Garrett in your movie, you better have a good reason.

One thing that the movie does have in its favor is Cliff Robertson in the lead role.  Robertson was a good actor whose career as a leading man was pretty much topedoed in 1977 when he discovered that David Begelman, who was the head of Columbia Studios, was using Robertson’s name and forging his signature to embezzle money from the studio.  Though the studios pressured Robertson to keep quiet, he went to the police and later spoke publicly about the incident.  Though Begelman was the one who had committed the crime, Robertson was the one who was subsequently blacklisted.  While Begelman paid a fine, did some community service, and remained a member of the Hollywood community, Robertson was blacklisted for five years.  When he finally did start appearing in movies again, it was almost always in supporting roles.  Shaker Run gave Robertson a rare leading role and, even if the movie isn’t good, Robertson is still good in it.

Unfortunately, even after people finally started to acknowledge that Cliff Robertson was mistreated, it still didn’t do much for his career and he continued to be cast in mostly forgettable movies.  Fortunately, before he died in 2011, he did get offered one iconic role and, as a result, a whole new generation of filmgoers got to know him as Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben.  If anyone could make you believe that “with great power, comes great responsibility,” it was Cliff Robertson.

The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid (1972, directed by Philip Kaufman)


Despite having received pardons from the Missouri legislature in recognition of their military service to the Confederacy, Jesse James (Robert Duvall) and Cole Younger (Cliff Robertson) simply cannot stop robbing banks.  The James-Younger Gang has set their sights on the bank in Northfield, Minnesota, which is said to be the biggest bank west of the Mississippi.  Cole arrives in Northfield before the rest of the gang and scouts the location.  What he discovers is that most of the town’s citizens aren’t putting their money in the bank because they all assume that it will eventually be robbed.  With Jesse determined to pull off the crime of the century, Cole and Jesse have to figure out not only how to escape after the robbery but also how to get the people to deposit their money in the bank’s vault in the first place.

Philip Kaufman is a director who made a career out of reinterpreting history (his best known film is The Right Stuff) and, when it was first released in 1972, The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid was a revisionist western that mixed moments of comedy with moments of brutal violence.  Today, of course, presenting Jesse James and Cole Younger as being ruthless outlaws is no longer that daring of a narrative choice.  In The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid, Robert Duvall plays Jesse as being the western equivalent of a corrupt businessman, sending others to do his dirty work and not accepting any of the consequences for his own bad decisions.  Robertson plays Cole as being more a free spirit, an outlaw who is determined to enjoy himself.  Both of them give interesting performances but they also seem to be too contemporary for the characters that they’re playing.

Like most revisionist westerns of the early 70s, the film is full of hints that the old west and the time of the outlaws is coming to an end.  There’s a steam engine sitting outside of the bank and Kaufman spends almost as much time focusing on people reacting to that as he does on the planning and execution of the robbery.  When the robbery does finally occur, it’s not an easy robbery like you might find a 1940s western.  Instead, it’s a violent comedy of errors that leaves much of the film’s characters dead or wounded in the streets of Northfield.  The contrast between the quirky comedy of the first part of the film and the violence of the robbery is occasionally interesting but it often feels forced.  Sometimes, Kaufman seems like he’s trying too hard to be Sam Peckinpah.  In the end, Kaufman often doesn’t seem to be sure what he’s trying to say with this film.  He seems to be suggesting that Jesse and Cole are soon to be relics of a bygone era but why then cast Duvall and Robertson in the roles and have them play the roles like two mid-level hoodlums in 20th Century New York?

It’s an interesting but muddled film that never quite works.  For the definitive film about the James/Younger Gang, check out Walter Hill’s The Long Riders.

Special Memorial Day Edition: THE DEVIL’S BRIGADE (United Artists 1968)


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In the wake of 1967’s THE DRITY DOZEN came a plethora of all-star, similarly themed films. THE DEVIL’S BRIGADE is one of those, though just a bit different: it’s based on the true-life exploits of the First Special Service Force, a collection of American misfits straight from the stockades and the crack, highly disciplined Canadian military, forging them into one cohesive fighting unit.

William Holden  heads the cast as Lt. Col. Robert Frederick, tasked with putting the units together. His seconds-in-command are the cigar chomping American Major Brecker (Vince Edwards) and proud Canadian Major Crown (Cliff Robertson). The Americans, as rowdy a bunch of reprobates as there ever was, include Claude Akins , Luke Askew, Richard Jaeckel, and Tom Troupe, while the Canadians are represented by the likes of Richard Dawson, Jeremy Slate, and Jack Watson , war movie vets all.  Andrew Prine is also aboard as an AWOL…

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A Movie A Day #169: Malone (1987, directed by Harley Cokeliss)


It’s Burt Reynolds vs. Cliff Robertson.  Cliff has got the money but Burt’s got the mustache and the toupee.

Robertson plays Charles Delaney, a wealthy businessman who, with the help of a mercenary army, has bought nearly all the land in a small Oregon town.  Only the owner of a local gas station, Paul Barlow (Scott Wilson), has refused to sell.  Delaney and his men think that they can intimidate Paul into selling but what they do not realize is that Paul has a houseguest.  Richard Malone (Burt Reynolds) was driving through town when his car broke down.  While waiting for it to get fixed, he has been staying with Paul and his teenage daughter, Jo (Cynthia Gibb).  What no one knows is that Malone used to be an assassin for the CIA.

If ever there was a film that demanded the talents of Charles Bronson, it is Malone.  The tough and ruthless title character would have been a perfect Bronson role, especially if Malone had been made twenty years earlier.  Instead, the role went to Burt Reynolds, who was on the downside of his career as an action hero.  Sometimes, Burt tries to play the role as serious and emotionally guarded.  Then, in other scenes, Burt will suddenly smile and wink at the camera as he briefly turns back into the Bandit.  This is not one of Burt’s better performances.  He gets good support from the entire cast, including Lauren Hutton as his CIA handler, but, in most of his scenes, Burt comes across as being tired and his toupee makes him look like The Brady Bunch‘s Robert Reed.  Burt was 51 when he made Malone and he looked like he was at least ten years older, making the scenes where Jo comes onto him even more improbable.

Where Malone succeeds is in the action scenes.  Along with Burt’s final assault on Delaney’s compound, there is also a classic showdown in a barbershop.  Malone had a budget of ten million dollars.  How many blood squibs did that buy?  Pay close attention to the scene where two hitmen attempt to surprise Malone in his room and find out.

Malone is may not feature Burt at his best but it is still a damn sight better than some of the other films that awaited Burt once his starpower started to diminish.  Mad Dog Time, anyone?

A Movie A Day #160: Ace Eli and Rodger of the Skies (1973, directed by John Erman as “Bill Sampson”)


Sometimes, the story behind a movie is more interesting than the movie itself.

A young Steven Spielberg received a “story by” credit for Ace Eli and Rodger of the Skies but, at one time, he was going to be credited with much more.  Spielberg wrote the treatment for Ace Eli and sold it to 20th Century Fox because he was hoping to make his directorial debut with the film.  However, shortly after selling the story, there was an executive shakeup at the studio.  Spielberg’s supporters were out and the men who replaced them gave the treatment to another screenwriter and director.  Spielberg was so angered by his treatment that it would be close to thirty years before he ever again worked with 20th Century Fox.  (In 2002, 20th Century Fox co-produced Minority Report with Dreamworks.)  Ace Eli ended up being directed by television veteran John Erman, who was so upset by the studio’s final edit of the film that he demanded to be credited under a pseudonym.

The plot of Ace Eli and Rodger of the Skies is recognizably Spielbergian.  Ace Eli (Cliff Robertson, who was a pilot in real life and who, after he won his Oscar of Charly, was involved in several flying films) is a stunt pilot in the 1920s.  After his wife is killed in a crash, Eli and his 11 year-old son, Rodger (Eric Shea), set off on a barnstorming tour.  Going from small town to small town, Eli deals with his pain through nonstop womanaizer.  With Eli refusing to take any responsibility for his actions, Rodger is forced to grow up quickly.  It is a typical Spielberg coming of age story, combining a nostalgia for the past with a clear-eyed portrayal of irresponsible adulthood.

In fact, it is easy to imagine the approach the Spielberg would have taken if he had been allowed to direct his story.  Unfortunately, Spielberg did not get to direct the film and John Erman takes an impersonal approach to the material.  Whereas Spielberg would have captured the excitement of both flying and life on the road, Erman keeps the audience at a distance.  An underrated actor, Cliff Robertson is still miscast as the irresponsible Ace Eli.  The reason why Cliff Robertson was perfect for the role of Uncle Ben in Spider-Man is the same reason why he feels all wrong as Ace Eli.  He is just too upstanding a citizen to be as impulsive as Eli often is.  An actor like Warren Oates would have been perfect for the role.

Steven Spielberg directing Warren Oates in Ace Eli and Rodger of the Skies?  That would have been something worth seeing!

Things Could Be Worse: 8 Fictional Presidents Who Were Terrible At Their Job


Jack Nicholson

2016 is an election year and things are looking pretty grim right now.  It’s enough to make you throw your hands up in frustrating and demand that someone push the reset button.  However, things could always be worse.  From the world of film, here are 8 President so incompetent, corrupt, and sometimes murderous that they will make you long for the dull mediocrity of a Jeb Bush or a Martin O’Malley.

1) The President (William Devane) in The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

devaneYou’re the leader of the free world and a masked terrorist has just launched a deadly attack on a major U.S. city.  He has blown up a major sporting event on national television.  He has killed the mayor.  He is allowing a crazy sociopath to preside over show trials.  The terrorist demands that you neither send troops into the city nor do you aid anyone who is trying to leave.  What do you?  If you are the President played by William Devane in The Dark Knight Rises, you say, “Okay,” and then breathe a sigh of relief when Batman turns out not to be dead after all.  William Devane also played JFK in The Missiles of October and President James Heller on 24.  Neither of them would have backed down to Bane as quickly as the President in The Dark Knight Rises.

2) The President (Billy Bob Thornton) in Love Actually (2003)

This President thinks that he can bully the world until he makes the mistake of getting on the bad side of the new British Prime Minister (Hugh Grant).  How are you going to call yourself the leader of the free world when even Hugh Grant can make you look like a fool?

3) The President (Donald Pleasence) in Escape From New York (1981)

DonaldHey, Mr. President, when Snake Plisskin nearly gets killed trying to save your life, you might want to try showing a little gratitude.  Escape From New York ends with Snake asking The President who he feels about all the people who died rescuing him from New York.  When the President can only mutter a few words of regret, Snake responds by destroying the tape that would have presumably prevented World War IV.  Way to go, Mr. President!  Would it have killed you to shed a few crocodile tears, at least over the fate of Cabbie?

4) The President (Cliff Robertson) in Escape From L.A. (1996)

The President from Escape From New York was practically Lincolnesque compared to the jerk who succeeded him.  A theocrat who claimed to have an open line to God, this President banned smoking, drinking, cursing, red meat, guns, atheism, pre-marital sex, and everything else that made life fun.  Anyone who disagreed got exiled to the island of California.  Good thing that Snake Plisskin was still around to set things straight, even if it did mean that Florida ended up getting conquered by Cuba.  Why doesn’t Snake ever run for President?

5) President Thomas J. Whitmore (Bill Pullman) in Independence Day (1996)

billIn a word, overrated.  Yes, President Whitmore did lead the army that repealed the alien invaders but he would not have had to do that in the first place if he had prevented the Earth from being invaded in the first place.  How many warning signs did the Whitmore administration ignore until it was too late?  And how much funding did his administration cut from the military that the Air Force was left in such poor shape that they could get shown up by Randy Quaid in a crop duster?  As for Whitmore’s famous speech and the battle that followed, a sequel to Independence Day is coming in June so he must not have done that good of a job of scaring the aliens off.

6) President James Dale (Jack Nicholson) in Mars Attacks! (1996)

At least President Whitmore got a chance to redeem himself by leading the battle against the invaders.  James Dale did not even get that far.  After foolishly believing everyone who told him that the aliens came in peace, he made the mistake of offering his hand in friendship and ended up with a flag sticking out of his chest.

7) President Alan Richmond (Gene Hackman) in Absolute Power (1997)

Not only did President Richmond think that he could get away with murder, he also thought he could outsmart Clint Eastwood.  Big mistake.  Clint Eastwood is no Hugh Grant.

8) President Merkin Muffley (Peter Sellers) in Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb (1964)

Mixing the raw charisma of Adlai Stevenson and the phone skills of Bob Newhart, President Merkin Muffley attempts to stop the end of the world and fails miserably.  He even allows the Soviet ambassador to get a picture of the Big Board!  But don’t worry.  President Muffley may have failed to prevent nuclear war but he will not allow there to be a mineshaft gap!

When this election year get you down, just remember: things could always be worse!

strangelove

 

 

Cleaning Out The DVR: Picnic (dir by Joshua Logan)


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Tonight, I continued to clean out the DVR by watching the 1955 film Picnic.

Now, Picnic is kind of a strange film.  It’s one of those films from 50s that takes place in a small town where everyone is obsessed with sex but, since it’s the 1950s, nobody can just come out and say that they’re talking about sex.  So, instead, all of the dialogue is very discreet.  For instance, when Madge Owen (Kim Novak) talks to her mother, Flo (Betty Owens), about her date with her boyfriend, Alan (Cliff Robertson), Madge confesses that they spent the night kissing.  Flo asks if Madge if they have done anything more than kiss but, of course, she never comes straight out and says what “more” would be.  The audience knows what she’s talking about but it’s as if the world would actually end if anyone actually uttered the word.  “Oh mom!”  an embarrassed Madge says before confirming that she and Alan haven’t done anything more than kiss.

Flo desperately wants Madge to marry Alan because Alan is rich and his father owns the town’s grain elevator.  Marrying Alan would allow Flo to move up in the town’s strict social hierarchy.  However, Madge isn’t sure that she loves Alan.  Certainly, Alan seems to be a good man with a good future but he’s not a romantic.  Instead, he is someone who has his entire life already mapped out for him.

On Labor Day, a stranger comes to town.  His name is Hal Carter and he shows up riding on a freight train.  He’s come into town to see his old friend, Alan.  It turns out that Hal and Alan went to college together and were members of the same fraternity.  Hal was a star football player but he eventually flunked out of school and has spent the last few years drifting around the country.  However, Hal is now ready to settle down and he wonders if his old roommate Alan can get him a job at the grain elevator.

Now, here’s the strange part.  Hal is played by William Holden.  When he made Picnic, William Holden was 38 years old and looked closer to being 45.  (By contrast, Cliff Robertson, in the role of his former college roommate, was 32 and looked like he was 25.)  Hal spends a lot of time talking about his traumatic childhood and how he is finally ready to settle down and start acting like an adult.  In short, Hal talks like a 30 year-old but he looks like he’s nearly 50.  It’s odd to watch.  But even beyond the age issue, William Holden was an actor who always came across as being both confident and cynical.  Hal is a secret romantic with a deep streak of insecurity.  As great an actor as he may have been, William Holden is so thoroughly miscast here that it actually becomes fascinating to watch.  It brings a whole new subtext to the film as you find yourself wondering why no one is town finds it strange that a middle-aged man is still struggling to deal with his childhood.  When all the town’s young women ogle that shirtless Hal, it’s as if he’s wandered into a town populated only by teenagers with daddy issues.

(Paul Newman played the role of Hal in a Broadway production of Picnic.  And really, that’s who the ideal Hal would have been, a young Paul Newman.)

The majority of the film takes place at the town’s Labor Day picnic, where almost every woman in town is driven to distraction by the sight of Hal dancing.  Even the spinster teacher, Rosemary (Rosalind Russell), is so turned on by Hal’s masculinity that she makes a pass at him and accidentally rips his shirt.  Of course, some of Rosemary’s behavior is due to the fact that she’s drunk.  Her date, the befuddled Howard Bevans (Arthur O’Connell), made the mistake of being whiskey to the picnic.

Hal also dances with Madge’s 13 year-old sister, Millie (Susan Strasberg).  I have to admit that, even though I related strongly to Madge, Millie was my favorite character in the film.  Millie wears glasses and can recite Shakespeare from memory.  She knows that everyone around her is full of it and she’s willing to call them on it.  Of course, Millie herself ends up with a crush on Hal and it’s a dream for her when she finally gets to dance with him.

(Strasberg was 17 years old but is believable as a 13 year-old.  At the same time, since Hal appears to be nearly 50, his sudden closeness to Millie carries an icky, if unintentional, subtext.)

But then Madge suddenly appears, wearing a pink dress and literally emerging from the black night.  She starts to sway to the music.  As she slowly approaches Hal, he forgets about Millie and soon is dancing with Madge.  It’s actually a rather striking scene, one that so full of dream-like sensuality that it almost seems more like it was directed by surrealist David Lynch as opposed to the usually workmanlike Joshua Logan.

(In the video below, the scene freezes about 12 seconds in, before starting up again at the 16 second mark.  This is a glitch with the upload and is not present in the actual film.)

Needless to say, a drifter can’t just come into town and steal his ex-roommate’s girlfriend without drama following.  Picnic starts out as a slightly overheated examination of small town morality and then, after about an hour, it goes the full melodrama route, complete with police chases, stolen cars, a fist fight in an ornate mansion, and a lot of big speeches about the importance of love.  Needless to say, it’s all a lot of fun.

Picnic was nominated for best picture of the year.  However, it lost to the far more low-key Marty.

Horror On TV: Twilight Zone 3.33 — “The Dummy”


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In this episode of The Twilight Zone (which was originally aired on May 4th, 1962), a neurotic ventriloquist named Jerry (Cliff Robertson) has a bizarre relationship with his dummy. Not only does Jerry seem to hate his inanimate partner but the dummy doesn’t seem to be too fond of Jerry either.

You’ll probably already figured out The Dummy‘s twist but it’s still extremely well-done, featuring a great performance from Cliff Robertson and expressionistic direction from Abner Biberman.

Shattered Politics #20: The Best Man (dir by Franklin J. Schaffner)


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“Does The Best Man Always Get To The White House?” asks the poster for the 1964 film, The Best Man.

Of course, nowadays, that question seems incredibly naive.  Of course the best man doesn’t always get to the White House!  Some of my friends are Republicans and some of my friends are Democrats and a lot of my friends are Libertarians but they all have one thing in common: the belief that at least half of the past 4 elections were won by the wrong man.

But, as anyone who has done their research can tell you, 1964 was a far different time from 2015.  In general, people had greater faith in both government and their elected leaders.  Ineffective leaders and corrupt authority figures were viewed as being the exception as opposed to the rule.  We’re a lot more cynical now and, when we see political movies from the early 60s, all of that optimism and idealism often make them feel very dated.

Another big difference between the middle of the 20th Century and today is that, when it came to presidential nominating conventions, there was actually the potential for some suspense regarding who would win the nomination.  Occasionally, it took more than one ballot for a candidate to be nominated.  Last minute deals often had to be made and convention delegates were actually selecting an ideology along with a candidate.  Political conventions were contests and not coronations.

Again, it’s obvious that times have changed and, as a result, a film like The Best Man, which may have seemed very provocative and shocking in 1964, feels a bit like an antique today.  That doesn’t mean that it’s a bad film.  In fact, The Best Man is an interesting time capsule of the way things used to be.

The Best Man takes place at a presidential nominating convention.  The party is not specified but it feels like a Democratic convention.  There are several candidates competing for the nomination but the two front-runners are former Secretary of State William Russell (Henry Fonda) and Senator Joe Cantwell (Cliff Robertson).

Much like the character that Fonda played in Advise & Consent, Russell is an intellectual, a calm and rational liberal. Much like Spencer Tracy in State of the Union, Russell is separated from his wife (Margaret Leighton) but the two of them are pretending to be a happy couple for the sake of the campaign.

Meanwhile, Joe Cantwell is a paranoid and ruthless opportunist, a former war hero who will do anything to win.  The only person more ruthless than Joe Cantwell is his brother and campaign manager, Don (Gene Raymond).

(For those who enjoy history, it’s interesting to note that John F. Kennedy was a war hero-turned-senator who had a ruthless brother who doubled as his campaign manager.)

Both Cantwell and Russell come to the convention hoping to get the endorsement of former President Art Hockstader (Lee Tracy).  While the pragmatic Hockstader cannot stand Cantwell personally, he also views Russell as being weak and indecisive.

However, both Russell and Cantwell have secrets of their own.  When Cantwell discovers Russell’s secret and threatens to leak it, Russell has to decide whether or not to reveal Cantwell’s secret.

The Best Man was based on a stage play by Gore Vidal and the actual film never quite escapes its theatrical origins.  And, in many ways, it feels undeniably dated.  But it’s still a well-acted film, one that will probably be best enjoyed by political junkies and students of history.  Before watching the movie, be sure to read up on the 1960 presidential election and then see if you can guess who everyone is supposed to be.

Guilty Pleasure No. 18: Class (dir by Lewis John Carlino)


Tonight, I’ve got insomnia.

Since I realized I wasn’t going to get any sleep, I decided I might as well watch a random movie via Encore On Demand.  That movie turned out to be Class, a dramedy from 1983.  (I love dramedies, especially when I’ve got insomnia.)  I just finished watching it about 30 minutes ago and what can I say?  If there’s any film that deserves to be known as a guilty pleasure, it’s Class.

Class tells the story of two prep school roommates.  Skip (Rob Lowe) is rich  and spoiled.  Jonathan (Andrew McCarthy) is poor but brilliant.  As the result of getting a perfect score on his SAT, Jonathan has already received a scholarship to Harvard.  Their friendship gets off on a rocky start.  Skip locks Jonathan outside while Jonathan is wearing black lingerie.  Jonathan responds with a fake suicide.  (Boys are so weird.)  Not surprisingly, Jonathan and Skip become best friends and even share their darkest secrets.  Skip admits to killing a man.  Jonathan confesses to cheating on his SAT.  One of the two friends is lying.  Try to guess which one.

When Skip also discovers that Jonathan is a virgin, Skip makes it his mission to help his friend get laid.  Skip pays for Jonathan to spend a weekend in Chicago.  While there, Jonathan meets an older woman named Ellen (Jacqueline Bisset).  Soon, Jonathan and Ellen are having a torrid affair.

Once Christmas break arrives, Skip takes Jonathan home with him.  Jonathan meets Skip’s parents.  Guess who turns out to be Skip’s mom.

Meanwhile, an officious investigator (Stuart Margolin) has shown up on campus.  What is he investigating?  SAT fraud, of course.

Class is a weirdly disjointed movie.  On the one hand, it attempts to tell a rather melancholic coming-of-age tale, in which a naive young man learns about love from a beautiful but sad older woman.  (This part of the film perhaps would have been more effective if there had been a single spark of chemistry between Andrew McCarthy and Jacqueline Bisset.)  On the other hand, it also wants to be a heartfelt comedy about two best friends who come from opposite worlds.  And then, on the third hand (that’s right — this movie has three hands!), it wants to be a raunchy teen comedy, complete with a stuffy headmaster, misogynistic dialogue, gratuitous nudity, and a lengthy scene where all of the students attempt to get rid of all of their weed and pills because they’ve been incorrectly told that there’s a narc on campus.  That’s three different movies being crammed into a 90-minute film.  Not surprisingly, the end result is an uneven mishmash of different themes and styles.

And yet, as uneven as the film may be,  I still enjoyed it.  As I watched, I knew that I should have been far more critical and nitpicky about the film’s many flaws but the movie itself is just so damn likable that I found myself enjoying it despite myself.  Ultimately — like many guilty pleasures — Class is a film that is best appreciated as a portrait of the time it was made.  Everything from the questionable fashion choices of the characters to the film’s not-so-subtle celebration of wealth and narcissism, serves to remind the viewer that Class was made in the 80s.

Finally, Class should be seen just for its cast.  It’s undeniably odd to see an impossibly young and goofy-looking John Cusack making his film debut here as a rather snotty student named Roscoe.  While Andrew McCarthy doesn’t have much chemistry with Jacqueline Bisset, he still gives a good performance and is simply adorable with his messy hair and glasses.  And finally, who can resist young Rob Lowe, who was just as handsome in Class as he would be 30 years later in Parks and Recreation?

Class did not cure my insomnia.

But I’m still glad I watched it.

Previous Guilty Pleasures:

  1. Half-Baked
  2. Save The Last Dance
  3. Every Rose Has Its Thorns
  4. The Jeremy Kyle Show
  5. Invasion USA
  6. The Golden Child
  7. Final Destination 2
  8. Paparazzi
  9. The Principal
  10. The Substitute
  11. Terror In The Family
  12. Pandorum
  13. Lambada
  14. Fear
  15. Cocktail
  16. Keep Off The Grass
  17. Girls, Girls, Girls