Getting Into The Grind

Cheap as I am,
it took a while,
but I finally sprung
for one of those online
movie gadgets to get
stuff on Hulu, Netflix,
and such..

It had seemed to me that
paying almost 200 bucks
a month for cable would
scratch everybody in the
house’s TV itches,
but apparently not.

500 channels-
a mere drop in
the bucket, pal.

Technology marches on.
And so do the costs.
Great.

And, now there’s another
HDMI input and cable needed,
and all sorts of new sign-in
codes to remember.

But it has given me a chance
to catch up on a genre of
movies that I had been
meaning to watch
but hadn’t had the
opportunity.

They’re called
‘grind-house’ movies —
and while you’ve probably
seen some of the posters
for these kinds of movies
right here on the
Müscleheaded Blog,
the flicks they advertised
weren’t usually available,
until now with these
new-fangled independent
movie channels.

I like the ones
that promise
stuff in their titles or
advertising that
you know damn well
ain’t really gonna be
in them —
— especially those from
the 1930’s.

(Sure, I guess you could
say the same about us
around here ….. )

I’m sure you’ve heard of
‘pre-code’ movies —

— and that’s not really
what I mean …….

— more like ‘outside-code’ —

movies that weren’t made by
the studios that were part of
the MPPDA Hays Production
Code or shown at the studio
sanctioned/owned theatres.

Of course, the people
who made these movies
still had to be careful
what was shown because
of obscenity laws and such-
so while the subject matter
might have been taboo,
the content usually
was pretty tame.

One example I got to see
was a pretty good example of
what I mean —

— it was 1948’s
“Test Tube Babies”.

The posters suggest some
very racy content,
and indeed,
there were a couple pretty naughty scenes that were fun —

but generally, it was pretty
much 95% sizzle and hardly
any steak.

(reminds me of one of
them there fajitas at Chileez
or Applebuzz )

You might well ask why
someone would expect
some ribald scenes in
a movie about this
particular subject –

— but that’s how the
genre worked —
they had to have
some kind of ‘moral’
or redeeming social
purpose to hang on it –

in this case,
‘educating’ people
about artificial insemination.

I was actually a bit taken
aback to learn something
from it- that they had been
doing those kinds of things
in clinics for decades.

And I guess the history of it
got a little strange on the way,
but why should that surprise
anybody?

The film’s title is also a
bit misleading, of course,
in more than just one way –
– most folks would have
imagined an in-vitro
fertilization process
(in a petri dish or the like)
would be what was being
talked about, especially from
the whole mention of a ‘test-tube’,
but in actuality, when they did
finally get around to the baby
making, it was the old “squirt-
(from a syringe)-and-then-hope”
method.

A special mention to the
guy playing the doctor —
who had the bed
side manner
of soggy bacon,
— you can always see
more of his hammy acting
style in movies like
Ed Wood’s “Glen Or Glenda”,
and ” Jail Bait “.

As for rating it,
I’d give it a 2 1/2 stars
for the general grab assing
and the swing-party scene
circa 1948 – and about none
for anything else, really.

Which is exactly
what you’d
expect with one
of these flicks.

My advice is:

if you have some time
you’ll never want or
need to get back,
waste an hour
or so, see it,
and pick through
the wasteland.

Then, if you’re not
totally exasperated,
check out these
other ‘grindhouse’ films
whose posters are featured
on this episode of the
Muscleheaded Blog.

Hey-

fun is where
you find it,
ya know.

.

!!! HOY !!!

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The Name Is Marlowe

a1I love detective stories.
I started early….

….. when I was about 8,
my Uncle Gerry bought me
the whole set of Hardy Boys
Mysteries.

I think he was trying to
divert my attention from
Sgt. Rock comic books…….

Well, anyway, despite my
NOT giving up Sgt. Rock,
I was definitely hooked on those books.

And there was a mess o ’em, too.
Of course, my sister had a
couple of the Nancy Drew books, ……

….. but me-  as a kid –
knew perfectly well that nobody
could go around solving murders
wearing gingham party dresses,
and ankle socks.

It’s just not practical, you know?

Naah… the Hardy Boys-
now, they were detectives.

Them boys had the perfect parents, too…..
…….   they never got punished or yelled at.

Boy, they had it cushy…
just goin’ around solving mysteries ,
…when they weren’t out hitting
home runs or getting A’s in school.

Detecting was one of those exciting
things you could do in your spare time, ya know.

As I got older, I started reading
Raymond Chandler, Ellery Queen,
Dashiell Hammett, Arthur Conan Doyle…..

..and then onto Robert B. Parker,
Mickey Spillane……..
…… Agatha Christie, and PD James.

Of course, my favorite was always Chandler. raymondchandler

Nobody wrote a hard boiled
detective story like Chandler…

Nobody could string two completely
different ideas together in one paragraph..

……. and make it come out as one like Chandler.

Nobody could describe a dame quite like Chandler.

Nobody could put that
inner-voice-under-stress
down on paper like Chandler:

…. the illuminated dial showed 10:56… as nearly as I could focus on it. The call had come at 10:08 — Marriott had talked for maybe two minutes. Another four had got us out of the house. Time passes very slowly when you’re actually doing something. I mean, you can go through a lot of movements in very few minutes. Is that what I mean? Okay, better men have meant less.
( from “Farewell My Lovely“)

Even a thing as simple as being sapped
became an experience with Chandler…

…. a pool of darkness opened at my feet, and was far, far, deeper than the blackest night. I dived into it. It had no bottom .
( from “Farewell My Lovely“)

So, naturally, I was always interested
in movies featuring Chandler’s main protagonist…

….. an anachronistic, antagonistic,
sarcastic, hardbitten character named Philip Marlowe.

Jeez… I think that description reminds me of someone.

In the movies, while I liked the way
Bogart played Marlowe in the
Big Sleep” okay,  I guess….. a2

although, I have to admit….

I found the Hollywood tendency
to let Marlowe get the girl at the end irritating —

Marlowe isn’t supposed to get the girl

….. he’s supposed to get the bad guy,
and often the girl WAS the bad guy.

But, no…..

they quite inevitably changed
the screenplay around, to take
advantage of that whole Bogey-Bacall thing….

and Lo and Behold, now the bad girl’s
a good girl, and the plot ends up
making no real sense at all.

Nuts.

Bah… just a lot of Hollywood nonsense.

a3Dick Powell did a passable job
of playing Marlowe in “Murder My Sweet” –

…… an amalgam of a plot based
on several Chandler short stories-

—but mostly on “Farewell My Lovely” –

Dick Powell as a sometimes-too-clever-
for-his-own-good,
… only mildly-tough tough guy…

Mike Mazurki made one menacing,
but darkly humorous, bad guy —
….  and Claire Trevor one very dirty little razor girl.

a4Robert Montgomery’s film-noir version of Marlowe,

—made in 1947, with very limited funds–

Lady in the Lake“, was done in an interesting way —

…… many of the scenes were shot as they would have been viewed from the protagonists own eyes…..

Point of View- or P.O.V. as they call it today.

( although it’s used mostly in porn, now….  a5

…….. go figure, huh? )

It is in this scene —
about 1/3 of the way in,

when you first glimpse our hero —
…… (holding his hat ) in the mirror.

Then , they slickly switch perspectives —

……. to the more conventional one
for the remainder of the pic.

You hardly notice the change — very cool.

Critics hated it.

Oh well.

Again, though, Hollywood couldn’t help mangling the story,
…….. until it made it look like 2+2 equaled 7.

a6They mangled Marlowe further—

with a horrible 60’s hipster production
starring Elliott Gould called “The Long Goodbye”….

Now, get this straight, Hollywood –

Philip Marlowe was no slob,

…………….  and he wouldn’t own no damned cat.

Dumb Hollyweird fusters.

They made Marlowe nothing more
than a loser with a bad attitude.

I absolutely detest that movie.

And I hate Ellott Gould for doing it.

a7On the other hand, James Garner
did a pretty good job with
his portrayal in “Marlowe” ….

I liked this movie,

but then, probably only
because I like James Garner.

“Marlowe” was the impetus to Garner
getting a TV detective series of his own —
“The Rockford Files”,

… which I always liked, too, in which he played
a private down-on-the-heels gumshoe
very much like Philip Marlowe.

Speaking of TV……

a8Marlowe was played by an assortment
of actors in a variety of shows,

but I think the guy who best
captured the spirit of Chandler’s
anti-hero on TV was Powers Boothe,
in the 80’s HBO series Philip Marlowe, Private Eye.

Here, in this series,
you got all the nuances of Chandler —

The malevolence of corrupt officials,

The arrogance of the rich and powerful,

The 99% boredom/1% terror nature of police work,

The tenuous balance of good and bad qualities that define a person of character….

The style, panache, and prurience of post-war era Los Angeles …….

This series was produced in cooperation with the BBC, and it shows.

As a matter of fact, the Brits seem to have a special affinity for understanding Chandler.

By far the best film adaptation was done by the Brits —
a9
—– starring Robert Mitchum….
“The Big Sleep”.

It doesnt matter that it’s set not
in 50’s Los Angeles, but in 70’s London — nope.

It’s that good.

Candy Clark looks good enough to eat….

Vera Miles is catty and scheming……..

………  and Robert Mitchum is
as good as Robert Mitchum ever got.

Which is pretty much as strong as death.

Mean, tough, sharp……

He utters the most famous words of Chandler’s “Big Sleep”
in that gravelly voice like he was born to say them ………..

“What did it matter where you lay once you were dead? In a dirty sump or  in a marble tower on top of a high hill? You were dead, you were  sleeping the big sleep, …… you were not bothered by things like that. Oil  and water were the same as wind and air to you. “

Every time I hear it, it runs shivers up my spine.

And that’s what Chandler was going for.

When Mitchum threw Candy Clark out of his bed,
he did it like a man with character would do it….
a10

…….. and with absolutely no hesitation
in his manner or intonation.

You believed it.

And throwing Candy Clark out of bed
couldn’t have been easy, even acting.

Yow.