August 8, 2011

A Mr Movie Fiend Double Feature

I was recently invited to join Mr Movie Fiend to write about older movies. It was very gracious offer-- no pressure, write when I want about what I want -- so it was next to impossible to turn down. I'm old, I like old movies, I like writing about them, and I can expand my movie blogging horizons without having to develop another site from scratch or change the focus of this one. So, I'll be taking my old movie show on the Mr Movie Fiend road from time to time, visiting other genres like westerns, film noir, action-adventure, and even straight-up drama. I may even take occasional side trips to the wild and wooly '80s and '90s.

Of course, horror being my co-favorite genre (with sci-fi), I couldn't resist going that route in my first two MMF posts. I decided to write about a couple of Universal(-International) B-listers that have earned little respect over the years, but nonetheless have some unique things going for them and are fun to watch. Check-em out!

I live in Arizona. You may recall that a few weeks ago Phoenix was enveloped by a massive, mile-high wall of dust (some pretty impressive photos and videos have been circulating on the internet ever since). The next day I was watching TV coverage in my dust-free house (fortunately, I live well north of Phoenix). One of the local Phoenix stations had prepared a tongue-in-cheek feature comparing footage of the Arizona desert storm with the CGI-enhanced storm-with-a-giant-face in the 1999 version of The Mummy. As the anchors were chuckling over it, I was thinking, “That Brendan Fraser so-called remake was a deplorable piece of dreck, but I haven’t seen a classic Mummy movie in a long time, and I know my Legacy Collection is around here somewhere…” And that’s how this review came to be.

... I picked The Mummy’s Curse because even by low-budget, B movie standards this one’s an underdog. It was the last of Universal’s Mummy series, released toward the tail end of Universal’s second horror cycle as the public taste for horror movies was ebbing. Critics often cite it as the least of the Universal Mummies, a half-hearted, low budget end to a series that started so well with Boris Karloff’s creepy, low-key portrayal of the title character. And yet, and yet…

See the full post at Mr Movie Fiend.

In 1958 a political novel, The Ugly American, became an influential bestseller in the U.S. It’s a fictional account of the failure of American foreign aid workers in an imaginary Asian country to win over the local population or effect any real change due to their arrogance and ignorance of their host country’s culture and customs. The irony of the novel is that the title character, a homely engineer by the name of Atkins, is the only American who really gets it– he lives with the locals, works with them as equals, understands their needs, and makes meaningful, if somewhat small scale, improvements to his adopted village. The book’s title has since become a catch phrase for loud, ignorant American tourists who make fools of themselves in places they can barely understand or appreciate.

Cult of the Cobra is a B-movie forerunner of The Ugly American, featuring a similar sort of arrogance and ignorance, but with immediate, tragic consequences. The film’s titles provide a somewhat cryptic introduction to the melodrama to come:
Slender hangs illusion, fragile the thread to reality.
Always the question: Is it true?
Truth is in the mind and the mind of man varies with time and place.
The time is 1945. The place is Asia...
See the full post at Mr Movie Fiend.

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