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'm Peter Graves ...:
Speaking of whom, The Lad and I watched "Airplane" the other day.

MST3K: This weekend we watched a zombie movie from the '80s featuring Adam West. It was pretty bad.

I forgot to mention that last weekend, Little Richard led us to West Side Story (one of Tracy's movies), and this weekend just passed, Natalie Wood led up to Rebel Without a Cause (one of my movies).

Surely you can't be serious.

Doctor Hmmm? said:

"I'm Peter Graves ...:
Speaking of whom, The Lad and I watched "Airplane" the other day.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

I forgot to mention that last weekend, Little Richard led us to West Side Story (one of Tracy's movies), and this weekend just passed, Natalie Wood led up to Rebel Without a Cause (one of my movies).

West Side Story is one of my favorite movies, not so much Rebel Without a Cause. Crazy about Natalie Wood.

THE MUMMY: Inspired by the Dark Shadows paperback Barnabas, Quentin and the Mummy’s Curse, I decided to watch a few of the old Universal Studios “Mummy” movies. The first one, with Karloff as the mummy, is definitely the best. Once he’s released from his tomb, he’s able to pass for normal, unlike later installments. Karloff’s performance is very low-key; I could see it having informed Jonathan Frid’s Barnabas Collins.

THE MUMMY’S HAND: The second film in the series is actually a reboot. This mummy remains a “monster” throughout. Also, “tana leaves” are introduced as the mummy’s source of locomotion. The two guys in charge of the expedition are a poor man’s Abbott & Costello, and this film can’t make up its mind whether it wants to be a comedy or a horror film. A far inferior offering in comparison to the first.

THE MUMMY'S TOMB: A direct sequel to The Mummy's Hand, set 30 years later. This one is more horror than comedy, and the mummy (this time played by Lon Chaney) appeares more frequently. (It didn't appear until half way into Hand.) the "poor man's Abbot & Costello" are both in it, but they're played seriously. Many of the early scenes are flashbacks to Hand. The action shifts to the U.S.

A week or so ago, I saw Penelope, starring Natalie Wood as a kleptomaniac who holds up her husband's bank to get his attention. It's not a great movie -- hell, it's not even a good movie -- but it's a lighthearted caper through 60s NYC, and that's kind of what the doctor ordered. 

The biggest highlight is Peter Falk as a detective who flirts with Penelope and pieces together what happened. It's great to see Falk in the pre-Columbian era. 

The worst scene is a flashback to Penelope's college days, when she's sexually assaulted by her professor, and it's played for slapstick and titillation, neither of which it manages to achieve. The weirdest thing is, the professor is played by Jonathan Winters -- but for some reason, they barely let him speak! One of the funniest people on the planet, with one of the fastest minds, and instead they have him hopping silently around the classroom like a cartoon rabbit (with boinnng! sound effects), ripping Natalie Wood's dress off. It's awful, and nothing in the rest of the movie makes up for it.

I love Natalie Wood, and I'm always interested in 1960s movies set in New York City ... because I wonder if any of it is remotely true.

I mean, we watch a lot of movies about "Madison Avenue" and so forth, mostly starring the likes of Tony Randall, Anthony Perkins, Jack Lemmon, and a whole host of actors in supporting roles that also show up on Bewitched, Green Acres and other sitcoms. Everything from Pillow Talk to Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? all seem to have the same quasi-MAD vibe of not being really serious about any of this.

I remember one famous movie whose name I can't remember that was fairly serious about this, with a theater critic trying to build a house in some NYC bedroom community that had become a money pit, and he was forced to spend a night in "the city" when he missed the last ferry, and he ended up with an attractive actress who was more than willing to sleep with him. But he decided not to, for principles or something. That was the drama, I guess. And it was an exception.

Because I also remember Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House and other farces involving people who live in NYC but commute to Far Rockaway or New Rochelle (Dick Van Dyke Show) or Connecticut or whatever. And all those movie/TV shows are comedies.

In fact, I remember another movie where Jim Garner commuted every day on a train to NYC to do his something-or-other advertising job, and there were three other guys who did the same thing that he played cards with, and there was some folderol about an apartment in the city that everyone chipped in on for sex purposes, but he really didn't want to do it, because all he wanted to do was coach Little League ...

Or maybe I'm confusing that with The Apartment, with Jack Lemmon.

I don't know. The more I delve into old "famous" movies, the more I see a New York City or a Hollywood or an American Heartland or Eastern Europe that seems to be born of the popular imagination, and not in reality.

Am I wrong?

This came to mind as I watched another famous movie the other night: Hud.

I have about a thousand different thoughts about this movie. I'll try to narrow it down.

First, addressing what I said above, I don't believe a word of any of this.

Was there really a Texas in 1963 (when this movie was made) where there was nothing but white people? It takes place on a ranch where all the help is white, with nary a Latinx among them. The Bannon family, of which the titular "Hud" is a part, has a maid, who is not only white, it's Patricia Neal. Everybody is white. And this is supposed to be a poor-ish area! In south Texas, 1963 America!

Then there's the actual world these characters inhabit. A rural town where a singular, well-known rake sleeps with all the married women, and there are no repercussions. Where the Saturday night entertainment is a bar fight, among people who surely know each other. Where everybody has ranches, where the cattle roam freely, and men love the land.

Really? In 1963? I was alive then, in the South, and that was not my experience.

In Hud, the patriarch gives a speech about he's not going to allow oil men on his property, because "they won't punch a hole in this dirt while I'm above it!"

Well, that sounds nice. Very auld blood & soil America. But, of course, not remotely true. Anybody who had possible oil in 1960s Texas (or Pennsylvania, or Alaska, or ...) sold out as quick as they could, because it was a quick payday, whereas ranching was hard.

Well, ranching as it was done in Bonanza, which is what this movie showed, accentuated by grand Big Sky scenes that would have been at home in a John Ford Western.

Good grief! That stuff took place in the 1800s! In 1963 ... I suspect Grandpa Bannon would have been running a factory farm, or been working for a big corporation that did. I love me some pepper steaks and chicken parmesan, but I am under no illusions how that stuff is brought to my table. And that cruelty to animals was as true in 1963 (when McDonald's made it big!) as it is now. The Melvyn Douglas character goes through some dark nights of the soul as his cattle have to be killed (because of hoof-and-mouth disease, called in this movie, and I am not joking, foot-in-mouth disease), but honestly, in 1963, if a bunch of cattle have to be killed because of disease, there wouldn't have been a sad old man killling the cattle he'd raised from heifers with a single pistol shot, like Old Yeller.

If a cattle operation had been quarantined because of hoof-and-mouth in 1963, none of this movie would have happened. Because ranches like the one shown in this movie didn't exist. It's White America Mythology.

So I didn't believe any of it.

But I did have some non-sociology thoughts to add.

What is the deal with Patricia Neal? Everybody swoons over this actress, but I don't get it. She seems really ordinary to me. Was she doing some sort ACTING that I just missed?

I guess. She gets a lot of awards in movies I've seen where I think "whatever" but everybody's like "Wasn't she AWESOME?" But for me ... eh. She's like Kate Mulgrew to me. Competent, but I'm not going to remember her tomorrow.

So I hate seeing Neal show up in a movie, because I know she's going to have a major plot thing -- usually an attempted rape -- that is completely to the side of the main plot, but allows her to ACT. Or something.

I really don't know, and I'm asking for explanation.

Because as soon as I saw her in Hud, I thought "Oh, it's Patricia Neal. Sooner or later somebody's going to try to rape her." Even though she's not very pretty, or sexy at all. But she's Patricia Neal. So I knew the attempted rape was coming. And I hoped the attempted rapist would be Hud, as we were not supposed to sympathize with him, and not Lonnie, who was supposed to be a good kid.

Well, I lucked out, and it was (Spoiler) Hud who tried to rape her. Whew! It was Hud, Who excused his attempted rape by saying "I can't be the first guy who put his foot in your door" and other slangy phrases that were never slangy phrases in any world you and I live in. But apparently there is a world that screenwriters live in, where gruff, rural, salt-of-the-earth people use phrases like "I can't be the first man to put his foot in your door" and other stuff that is not only something that people say, but also things that other people understand.

Also, attempted rape. Even in 1963 Texas, you can call the police. Especially when there are witnesses, and there was one. But police don't exist in this movie, any more than television, commercial farming or Vietnam. This is a place that exist outside time and space.

It was in a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call Hud.

This movie was supposed to be set in "the heartland," about people who aren't well-to-do (even though they have a live-in maid/cook and hired hands). And this movie is populated by very articulate, obviously college-educated characters who are supposed to be rural and uneducated, but are salt-of-the-earth, because that's what America wanted to believe about itself. (And still does, as those people still exist, and vote for Trump.) They live in a world where the only indication of a world outside of their small town is transistor radios. Which only play country music, and we never hear DJs.

I guess if screenwriters read enough William Faulkner, this is what they write.

But as a guy who lived in "the heartland" in the '60s, I will be quick to tell you that none of this is true. Most of my relatives lived in rural Arkansas, a few in Texas, and none of them were like the people in Hud. They had television, and thought and acted like other Americans anywhere. None of them were highly principled landowners, and if they were, they'd be A-OK with anyone drilling on their land and finding oil and making them rich. And even those who had cattle didn't raise them like Grandpa Bannon did in this movie, which is on a ranch that is somehow really set in the 1880s.

Anyway, Hud was played by famous actor Paul Newman. Who I used to enjoy -- heck, recently I watched Cool Hand Luke again just to watch Paul Newman at his most Paul Newman-est. And yes, we weren't supposed to like this "anti-hero" in Hud, a concept with which directors were experimenting in those days.

Hud was supposed to be this kickass redneck, who slept with other men's wives, and got drunk every weekend and had a bar fight and so on and so forth. Yes, an American icon.

And I don't mean that facetiously. Think about Sgt. Fury and his gang getting into a fight with Bull what's-his-name's group every weekend. How often Fury had to get his gang out of jail to go fight Nazis. And how that idea permeated the movie/TV/culture of the time. If you were a man -- no, a man's man -- you got into fights every weekend. And it wasn't just Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos ... it was in every movie, TV show and comic book of the '60s.

Hud tried to show that this sort of toxic masculinity -- not yet a term, or even a concept -- wasn't necessarily a good thing. But it couldn't help making Paul Newman look like a hero in this movie!

I bought into that, because I had uncles -- and a father -- like Hud. But nobody, especially the women in their lives, thought they were heroes. Everybody shied away from the nonsense they were bringing down on themselves.

Because aside from the outrageous but consequence-free drinking -- and I had an uncle who drove off the interstate into someone's house because he was so drunk in the 1960s -- Hud was doing things in that movie that would not make him a beloved rascal in his town, but someone who would show up dead in a ditch and the sheriff would call it natural causes.

It's a small town. Everbody knows everything. And even a cuckolded guy has friends. Hud wouldn't have made it to mid-30s in a real-life small town. And certainly, given his lifestyle, not with those abs, He looked like, and acted like, Brick in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Which Newman had played five years previously on stage and in the movie.

So, I'm not convinced by your performance, Mr. I'm a Great Actor Paul Newman. I was watching another character in this movie. Which is not great acting.

Then there was the guy who played Lonnie. He looked like a guy I'd seen in a thousand other movies where he played the young naif. Yet, IMdB is unhelpful in this regard. Why does he look so familiar, when he hasn't been in anything I've seen? Was he aping some other actor? Did other actors ape him in later movies? Does he just have a common face?

Finally we come to Melvyn Douglas, who played the aging, practically dead-already patriarch of the Bannon family. I have to say I was shocked when I looked up his name. Because he looked exactly the same in Being There, where he played the same role, 16 years later! Was the guy EVER young?

Anyway, those are my thoughts about Hud. Please let me know what you think.

There's no question the media has created versions of the past (and present) that didn't and don't exist, and that some people imagine were reality.

But it's worth noting that Hud is based on a Larry McMurtry novel, Horseman, Pass By, written when the budding author was 25, which explains a good deal. While McMurtry did his share of mythologizing Texas, a comparison between the novel and film is instructive. Hud is not the protagonist of Horseman, and he's significantly more of an S.O.B., more of an outright villain. He's not Bannon's son, just one of the hands he's mentored.  And Patricia Neal's character, Alma, is an African-American maid named Halmea, which, in the context of a racist society, changes the dynamic of the sexual assault significantly.That event and its consequences play out very differently in the book.

Hud is interesting to me because it features several of the elements that Peter Bogdanovich would use in The Last Picture Show, another adaptation of an early McMurtry novel, and a case where the film, in many respects, improves on the book. That film, while certainly mythic and with its share of stereotypes, is less so than the novel.

HUD: I haven’t seen the movie Hud nor have I read the book, but the book is written by Larry McMurtry, a favorite of mine. I went through a McMurtry phase about 15 years ago during which I read The Last Picture Show and its sequels plus a few others. At that time, I picked up an inexpensive paperback of Hud but, as I said, I haven’t read it. (I was about to move on to the “Lonesome Dove” series when that phase petered out.) I do love comparing movies to the books on which they are based, though. I will say the movie adaptation of The Last Picture Show is quite faithful to the book (although that doesn’t mean anything in the case of Hud).

(Going off on a tangent here), the movie Rosemary’s Baby is quite faithful to the book, but the movies East of Eden and The Fountainhead are two of the worst adaptations (of the best books) I can think of. My movie viewing this week was much more lowbrow. I watched…

THE MUMMY’S GHOST, THE MUMMY’S CURSE and ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET THE MUMMY: There was never very strong continuity between (or even within) the various Universal Studios horror movies, but a strict interpretation of the “Mummy” timeline puts “Curse” in the year 2016. "Tomb“ is set 30 years after “Hand,” “Ghost” 25 after “Hand” and “Curse” 30 after “Ghost” (if I paid close enough attention). “A&C Meet” is another reboot. Bob probably had a timeline somewhere on this board.

LA LA LAND: This is my favorite movie musical. Tracy watched it with me for the first time last night but didn’t like it… at all.

Ha! To quote from a piece I wrote awhile back on the Mummy:

If we place The Mummy's Hand in its year of release, the sequels take place in 1970 and 1995. It's especially amusing to imagine that ...Ghost's college-campus setting has marijuana-smoking students and wannabe hippies protesting, just out of camera range. However, we don't see much of the modern world in Hand (we're in a desert for much of the movie, and Golden Age Hollywood's Egypt for the rest), and we have only the reference to the discovery of Tut's tomb to place us clearly in a specific historic context. The film, therefore, could take place in the 1920s. The next two films would then take place in the 1950s, which really isn't a stretch. The costumes would pass, and the few cars we see would definitely still be in service. Curse would take place in the 70s or 80s, alas, and that makes no sense. A website called Sprocketland suggests that these films really do take place in a shared world of monsters, and the constant need to keep vampires, werewolves, and giant insects at bay has held back social and technological progress.

Continuity was never The Universal Monster Cycle's strong suit. The Mummy's Curse has no real reason to even be twenty-five years later. It picks up exactly where the previous movie leaves off-- except, without explanation, in a completely different American state.

(Note: For my dates, I ignore any connection between Karloff's Mummy and its sequels, which aren't really its sequels, since they're arguably about an entirely different stuffed ancient)

It's as if the sequels are always set in "the present," putting the previous ones on a sliding scale... sliding backwards. In the case of the Mummy, that would place the discovery of Tut's tomb in the late 19th century.

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