Saw a Takashi Miike picture called The Great Yokai War. "Yokai" is a Japanese term for monsters from folklore, as opposed to the more familiar kaiju. It's a kids' picture, about a young boy from Tokyo sent out to live in the countryside with his older sister and his intermittently senile grandfather. When a vengeful spirit appears, the boy gets caught up in a war between warring groups of yokai and must find his courage to become the "Kirin Rider", the hero who will set everything to rights. It's not a bad picture - nothing deep, but an amusing story. Some of the yokai are really trippy, Japanese folklore can get pretty "out there", apparently.

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I re-watched Hitchcock's The 39 Steps recently. It's an interesting case, a mix of faithful copy of the book and wholly new stuff. The romance and the Mr Memory element were created for the movie, but the rest of the plot - someone is murdered in Hannay's apartment, he heads for Scotland hoping to clear himself, he's hunted there by the police and spies - is right out of it.

The 1959 version was a remake of Hitchcock's. The 1978 version restored the original setting, put in a different romance and an assassination plot, and changed the climax. In the book's Big Ben plays no role.

In the book the person murdered in Hannay's apartment is a man. Hitchcock made the victim a woman. The 1978 version restored his original sex but instead had him killed in a railway station. The sequence looks modelled on the death of Townsend in North by Northwest.

Does anyone else out there remember Ripping Yarns? I think "Winfrey's Last Case" was a parody of the 1978 version. The film has a text bit at the end explaining that thanks to Hannay "Britain gained valuable time to prepare for the Great War". In "Winfrey's Last Case" the characters talk of the Germans scheming to start the war a year early.

I recently had the opportunity to watch the film "Judge Priest" staring Will Rogers. My reason for watching this film stemmed from the fact that I had grown up with the understanding that, not only was Will Rogers the greatest American humorist to date, but that he was universally loved by all in that role. Indeed, everyone I personally knew, who had been old enough to recall Will Rogers, supported this view. Speaking for myself, the only knowledge I maintained of his comedic style consisted of having read a few quotes, wherein Rogers offered a disparate opinion of Congress. Granted, years have past since the last time I heard the man's name, much less of his reputation; but, seeing that the film was on TV prompted me to finally seek evidence of the opinions thrust upon me in my youth.

To begin, I caution, that this film is a product of the time it was made during. It can easily be compared to Song of the South in terms of the relative criticisms that can made. Admittedly, my first reaction was one of mild shock at this depiction of the post Civil War south. Upon reflection, I was equally surprised to recall that, at a much younger age, I would have watched this film without so much as a thought of it having been appropriate (After all, I did watch Song of the South on network TV as a child). Having steadied my thoughts, I began to focus on the film itself. 

The opening scene features the good judge reading a newspaper in court, while a bombastic prosecutor rails about the defendant, an African American that has been accused of stealing a chicken, being unfit for life in a civilized society. Granted, the prosecutor is being set up as the big bad; but, I can't help but feel that the Honorable Judge is setting the stage for a mistrial. In any case, while the prosecutor bellows on, Judge calls the defendant to the bench, whereupon Judge and defendant quickly deviate from discussing the charges to discussing fishing. The scene ends with both walking down the road with fishing poles in hand, continuing their conversation. At this point I'm questioning the whole "universally loved" aspect of Roger's reputation. Surely this depiction would have upset a significant number of folks then, if not now. But, I digress. The next scene deals with the Judge's nephew returning from law school and wooing the girl next door, with whom he has had some past history. The girl next door sends nephew packing; she already has a date. Enter the Judge's sister in law, mother of the nephew, who makes it plain that the girl next door is hardly Priest family material. At this point, I can see some of Will Rogers appeal as a humorist. Rogers uses form of Irish Diplomacy (that being, he tells his sister in law to go to hell in a way that has her looking forward to the trip) masterfully, presenting himself as a champion of the underdog (his nephew) and putting a bully in her place, even if she doesn't realize it. Meanwhile, the girl next door's date, who happens to be the local barber, turns out to be a cad. Rogers again displays comedic charm but scaring him off, hiding in the bushes and pretending to be an angry father, with a shotgun no less. Interestingly, the sister in law's opposition is borne of the fact that the girl's father is an unknown. Fast forward to the next day, where we find the Judge at the barber shop, as the cad barber makes light of his date. A quite stranger, to whom we have been introduced to briefly in another scene, promptly knocks the barber flat. The Judge rises in solidarity, leaving the barber shop with his shaving mug in hand. I can't help but think that the judge has witnessed an unprovoked assault, and he responds in this way? OK, I get it. The stranger was defending a young woman's honor. Times and attitudes sure have changed. Actions have consequences, and the stranger finds himself on the other side of fence when the cad and his buddies set up an ambush in the local saloon. In the process, the cad is stabbed, bloodied and bruised. This offence is not over looked, and the nephew receives his first client, defending the stranger in court. Of course, presiding over the case is the Honorable Judge Priest. All subtext aside, I was actually thrilled by the fact that the prosecutor, yes, the same one from the opening scene, demands that the judge recuse himself (Seriously?! This had to be demanded?!). After making a heartfelt, but considering the circumstances, frankly ridiculous speech, the good judge steps aside, naming his replacement (who openly offers his support to Judge Priest. Do these courtroom antics never cease?).

Spoiler alert....if you don't want to know the ending, turn back now!   

To make a long story short, the stranger is acquitted after the judge returns as a co-attorney, producing an unimpeachable character witness, the town preacher. As it turns out, the stranger served under the command of the preacher valiantly during the "great lost cause", more commonly known as the Civil War, or the War Between the States, depending on where you live. More over, the stranger turns out to be the girl next door's father; and, it is made known that he has supported his daughter secretly through out her life. All of this is revealed as a group of men literally play Dixie outside the open courthouse window.

Now, there's one important fact that is revealed during the film that I haven't mentioned. Will Rogers has portrayed his character in such a way that, again, I question his "universally loved" status. However, the folks I would associate with his opposition may have been swayed but this previously unrevealed fact. The good judge is not only a Confederate veteran, but also current supporter of the cause. In short, Rogers plays both ends of the spectrum, in a way that makes him truly appealing. Granted, I remain convinced that there are, or were, hardliners that realized what Rogers was doing, thereby rejecting Rogers outright; but clearly, Roger does exhibit an ability to reach a fairly wide audience. Although admittedly, I can't fully appreciate his work (yes, I am subject to modern sensibilities) I can't fully dismiss it. It has value.      

I wasn't previously aware of this movie, which I will seek out. Apparently, the prominent journalist Irvin S. Cobb also wrote a lot of fiction, including several stories featuring the character Judge Priest. John Ford directed this film and after Rogers' death directed the 1953 film The Sun Shines Bright, also featuring his home state of Kentucky and apparently combining three of his Judge Priest stories. It follows the lead of the other "lost cause" films that had become standard by that time, leading to the popularity of the book and film of Gone with the Wind. Unfortunately, there are still many people today who subscribe to this point of view.

I re-watched The Raven (1963). It's a Roger Corman/AIP Poe film, but a comedy rather than horror. The cast includes Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff, a young Jack Nicholson, and Hazel Court. Karloff plays the duplicitous head of the magicians' guild. Price plays a mild-mannered magician preoccupied with the death of his second wife, Lenore. Lorre is a less-able and selfish magician who, when the story opens, Karloff's character has changed into a raven. Court is Karloff's scruple-less mistress, Nicholson Lorre's straight-arrow son.

It's a fun film. I imagine some viewers would be put off by its cheapness. Price and Lorre both play their roles as comedy parts. Court plays her role with amusing gusto. Her face might be familiar to some who don't recognise her name, as she appeared in several genre films and on American TV. Nicholson was only in his teens. He doesn't acquit himself badly, but hadn't yet acquired his star quality.

When Karloff's and Lorre's characters' duel Lorre's spells are well-known Latin phrases, such as "Cave canem", "Beware of the dog". The IMDB's trivia items for the film include a list of these.

This post displaced the thread Hickman's X-Men Project (Spoilers) from the homepage.

The Raven is one of my favorites of the Poe films, probably because of its humor.

I rather liked The Raven myself when I watched it as a teenager, although I probably had a horse laugh or two. 

I taped 12 to the Moon without any idea what it was, just that it was an SF movie from the past that had somehow not been aired overnight by Channel 3 in Memphis in the '60s, like most other pre-Star Wars SF movies I watched. 

Turns out it was a 1960 B&W movie about a dozen people who go to the Moon. They're part of an international organization that means to claim the moon for all nations and not one. Not that there seems to be any competition, so it's not like it's a race or anything. 

The crew consists of a square-jawed, tall, blonde American commander (of course), who may be the worst actor I have ever seen. There's a Japanese woman, a French guy, a Russian, a German, an Israeli, a Swedish woman (blonde and beautiful, of course), a Nigerian, a Turk and ... how many is that? It's all I remember, anyway.

There's supposedly conflict between the Russian and everybody else (he claims that Russians invented everything on the ship), between the Israeli and the German (who turns out to be the son of the man who killed the Israeli's family in WWII) and some romance between the Swede and the Turk. Honestly, though, the acting is so bad, you kinda have to pretend for most of it. One of the crew does all the calcluations in his head (no computers!), so he's really valuable. He's always shouting "turn X-3G!" and other nonsense, but nobody else seems to have any sense of urgency, so it's all a bit silly.

Turns out there's all sorts of great stuff on the Moon, like gold and volcanoes and ice sheets and ... oh, yeah, Moon people, whom we never meet but contact the ship via some sort of telepathic typewriter (in Chinese) and tell them to get the hell off their planet. Oh, there's also quicksand, which ate one guy, and the Swede and the Turk disappear, but turn out to be with the Moon people (we're told) from whom they learn that all emotions (to which they are not susceptible) are evil, because this "love" business looks pretty cool.

Meanwhile, the Moon people put the entire North American continent in a deep freeze (don't worry, the people are in suspended animation) to show their power. But a couple of rocketeers sacrifice themselves to drop some atom bombs in a volcano to de-freeze everyone, which impresses the Moon people, so they let us go.

So 12 go up, but only seven come down, and one of those is a traitor, so really just 6. The End.

You know, writing that out sounds like a pretty exciting movie! But this was acted so badly, and the script was so lame, that it's really not worth anyone's time. I'm not talking about bad science or bad F/X -- I accepted that out the beginning. It's just the lame execution that makes it tedious to sit through.

Too bad. Pretty good script!

I will always remember 12 to the Moon as the basis for Mystery Science Theater 3000, Show 524, one of my all-time favorite episodes.  

Bohemian Rhapsody.

(Man, I haven't seen The Raven in decades!)

Watched Mars Attacks again.

Saw The Rise of Skywalker last night.

Just watched the British/US remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Having seen the original Swedish trilogy, well-dubbed in English, I didn’t originally intend to see it. Having recently watched Rooney Mara in the 2018 movie Mary Magdalene and being impressed with her acting, I was interested to see her interpretation of Lisbeth Salander.  I wasn’t disappointed. Now I want to see her and Jackie Earle Haley in the remake of Nightmare on Elm Street.

I got to it Xmas Day. It was pretty good.

The Baron said:

Saw The Rise of Skywalker last night.

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