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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Simply put, Shemp was one of the original Stooges but separated from the group because he could not get along with their boss, Ted Healy. Shemp was in their first film appearance, Soup to Nuts. Curly replaced Shemp, and they did more films with Healy at MGM before splitting from him and signing with Columbia in 1934. Curly had to retire in 1946 after having a stroke, and Shemp gave up his solo career to rejoin the trio.

Shemp appeared in a series of Joe Palooka films, appeared with Abbott & Costello, and had a series of solo two-reelers at Columbia himself.

Thanks PP!

You're welcome. I've read that Bud Abbott once called Shemp "the funniest man in the business," which didn't sit very well with Lou Costello.

"I don't know why little boys in my neighborhood, including me, would mime a cigar and say "my little chickadee" or repeat other Fields expressions and mannerisms."

Maybe you saw W.C. Fritos.

(I probably saw "Groucho" selling Vlasic pickles before I saw You Bet Your Life or any of the movies.)

...I saw VENOM a bit ago. Anyone interested in discussion of it?

Skipper, I've still never seen any W.C.Fields movies, but I've known the character since I was little.  I think that character was just part of the culture when we was kids.

Captain Comics said:

Took the opportunity to watch a couple of movies on TCM that I'd heard about but never seen.

THE BANK DICK: For some reason, the Fields persona and expressions were familiar ones when I was young in the '60s. But I'd never seen a Fields performance. So when a Fields movie with a name I recognized came along, I recorded it.

And it's not bad. In fact, I laughed out loud a couple of times. That surprised me, given how old these jokes are, and that I wasn't going to get topical humor at all.

Shemp Howard played a supporting role without shtick, and it made me wonder how long he had pursued a mainstream acting career before giving up and becoming a Stooge. Or maybe there's a different story I don't know.

Also, I don't know why little boys in my neighborhood, including me, would mime a cigar and say "my little chickadee" or repeat other Fields expressions and mannerisms. Of course, we did Groucho too, but he was more recent, given You Bet Your Life. Maybe our parents or people on TV did those impressions, and we picked them up.

LITTLE CAESAR: Just like my Fields comment above, I had never seen an Edgar G. Robinson gangster movie. (I'm sure I've seen him in other things, including Soylent Green.) And I have to say he was born to play a gangster. And now I know what all the Robinson impressions are based on.

I should mention that Douglas Fairbanks Jr. appears as Rico's longtime friend, which surprised me -- I only know him from his heroic roles. And this was the first movie for Glenda Farrell, who would go on to fame as Torchy Blane.

It wasn't that great a movie, though. Robinson's Rico isn't really all that brutal, although he talks tough, so many scenes end sort of milquetoast-y. And this is supposedly based on the Al Capone story, but only superficially. They have the banquet scene, but it's held in the wrong place (Chicago instead of Florida) and Capone Rico doesn't kill anyone with a baseball bat. And Rico gets gunned down, instead of suffering Capone's end, going to prison for taxes, and dying there of syphilis.

Sorry for the spoiler there. But how else could he say the famous line "Mother of mercy ... is this the end of Rico?"

I think when we were all kids there were occasional references to and clips of W.C. Fields on TV, like there were of Buster Keaton. Both of them were timelessly funny. Also, Fields played a prominent role in the 1935 movie David Copperfield, nominated for Best Picture Oscar that year, which I suspect popped up on TV a few times before the advent of made-for-TV movies. I don't think I've ever watched an entire movie with Fields myself, but I think he was so popular that he (not unlike Robin Williams) was allowed to go into his own brand of shtick in the Copperfield movie.

ClarkKent_DC said:

We just got back from Bohemian Rhapsody, the biopic about the life of Queen's lead singer, Freddie Mercury.

It's a very conventional rags-to-riches story, with the young Farrokh Bulsara working as a baggage handler at Heathrow Airport. He spends his nights hanging out in clubs, and after one show, he meets his future bandmates, drummer Roger Taylor and guitarist Brian May just after their group's lead singer quit. With bass player John Deacon joining soon after, the quartet goes on to conquer the rock world.


Rob Staeger (Grodd Mod) said:

I'm sure we'll be seeing it, CK -- Kathy is a huge Queen fan, and I like them a lot, too!

Just don't go expecting documentary accuracy. This movie most definitely did not let the facts get in the way of the story. I didn't read a lot of reviews before I saw it, but I did after, and came across a lot of articles picking at the way several things shown in the movie timeline happened years later and sometimes for different reasons. 

Like the song says, "Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy ...?

This weekend I've watched Ant Man & the WaspAvengers: Infinity War, and The Legend of Tarzan.

I enjoyed Ant Man and the Wasp more so than the Avengers movie and Tarzan more than either of the Marvel movies. The 2016 Tarzan contains a large-scale fight scene that I found similar to the Wakanda battle in 2018 Avengers. It may now be my second favorite Tarzan film.

Gosford Park (2001), Robert Altman doing Merchant Ivory and Agatha Christie, but with interesting results. It features a strong cast, and takes a twist that you might see coming.

The Illustrated Man (1969): I never saw this before, despite liking the book when I read it as a teen. The adaptations of “The Veldt” and “The Long Rain” aren’t bad. “The Last Night on Earth” has little to do with the source material. Too much of the movie focuses on the largely throwaway device Bradbury used to connect the stories, and most of that consists of Rod Steiger engaged in deranged rambling while camping out with Robert Drivas. If you want to see moderately okay adaptations of two stories or Steiger mooning the audience with a tattooed butt....

Continuing our trend of watching movies from my youth Tracy has never seen…

THE OMEN: I found it difficult to take seriously all these years later. It was about as frightening as Dark Shadows… one of the color episodes. I was surprised to learn that the priest was played by Patrick Troughton.

ROOTS: We watched part one. I’m surprised at how well I remember this having seen it only once over 40 years ago. I found it educational and enlightening, even “entertaining” then; now I find it disturbing. I don’t think I could watch an episode a night as it was originally broadcast, but we plan to continue. This one had a “surprise” cast member, too: Maya Angelou as Kunta Kinte’s grandmother.

SHAUN OF THE DEAD: In addition to “movies from my youth,” we’re also watching certain horror movies brought to my attention by the Eli Roth documentary series we’ve been watching. This is a movie I’ve heard the name of, but didn’t know anything about. I tend to avoid movies with silly names, such as this and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” The “surprise” cast member this time was the woman who played Harriet Jones in Doctor Who as Simon Pegg’s mother.

It's been a big movie-watching weekend at the Comics Cave.

BLADE RUNNER 2049: I think I've been subconsciously avoiding this, because I loved the original so much and I didn't want that diluted. Yes, that's happened, but it's a good movie anyway -- shot very artistically and with a decent plot. I"m not usually a Ryan Gosling fan, but he did OK here.

And while the film artfully danced around whether Deckard was a replicant verbally, I think they showed conclusively that he isn't. He isn't as strong or durable as the replicants, he doesn't have an impassive reaction to everything and he ages normally. Oh, how could he father a child if he was a replicant? The whole point of the movie was that Tyrell had figured out how to get replicants to reproduce, and the first model was Rachel. If Deckard was a replicant, he would have been built before the breakthrough and been "sterile." Well, those who want to keep the prospect alive can do so, but on Earth-Cap Deckard is human.

DUNKIRK: I think I was expecting some Saving Private Ryan/Fury combat razzle-dazzle, but the battles here were very small, up close and personal. I wasn't overly disappointed, but I noticed the absence of any set-piece combat scenes. Also, we didn't see any Germans at all until the pilot was captured in the end, and even there they were out of focus and we saw no faces -- just helmets, to let us know who they were. Interesting narrative choice to underscore the movie's themes. The only thing I did miss was more indication of the evacuation's scope -- an overview of the beach really didn't do it. I wanted an armada of tiny ships, or something more than what we saw. But Nolan was going for the individual and the personal, so that would have contradicted his theme. Oh, well -- we got a good idea from Darkest Hour!

ACTION IN THE NORTH ATLANTIC: We followed Dunkirk with this, because we had a theme too! I couldn't remember if I had seen this before, and my wife felt the same, so we watched it -- and decided we both had seen it before. Oh well. It was all right, although a bit too propagandistic in places. I note that the Sea Witch had a Scottish engineer and that it played cat and mouse with a sub -- very reminiscent of the Star Trek episode "Balance of Terror," which I'd always heard was based on The Enemy Below. I guess both could be inspirations. Note that Raymond Massey's wife was played by Ruth Gordon, of Harold and Maude and Rosemary's Baby.

THE MUMMY: I didn't watch any of the Brendon Fraser movies, and heard bad things about this latest remake (2017), and I don't usually like Tom Cruise, so I wasn't expecting much. But this was a pretty good movie. Yes, there was a lot of time expended on set-up for a franchise, and I agree that was a mistake. It also robbed us an ending. (I'd rather Sofia Bouttelle return as the bad guy than a Tom Cruise possessed by Set, but it doesn't look like either will materialize, so never mind.) Russell Crowe seemed to be phoning it in, and I wasn't impressed with the Hyde makeup. Also, what kind of secret organization puts a guy in charge who has to inject himself frequently to prevent turning into its worst enemy? But the FX were otherwise very good and the cartoon characters screamed and ran when they were supposed to. What else do you expect from a popcorn film?

THE MUMMY'S SHROUD: Evidently TCM aired all the mummy movies during October, and I missed most of them, Darn! But I got this one, so now I can distinguish it from the others. Well, maybe. Pretty standard-issue mummy material here.

BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY'S TOMB: This a pretty notable movie. For one thing, there's no mummy. For another, it's adapted from a Bram Stoker short story. For yet another, just about everybody dies, including the hero. For yet another it came out during the swinging '70s, and the hero and his chick (who is the actual star) are openly shown sleeping together (and making sex jokes). And for another, even my wife said the true star of the picture was the lead actress's awe-inspiring bustline, which the film displays in various nighties as often as it can. I'm not saying it's a good movie, but it's more interesting than a B-movie has a right to be.

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