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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Marian = Barbara Rush = Nora Clavicle from Batman

Thanks, Baron. As it turnS out, i started watching some other old movie yesterday with her in it, and recognized her. It took me a minute, because even though she was only like 7 years younger (I looked it up), she was a lot more attractive. I guess she must have had a few babies in between.

Also watched Captain Blood. It was a lot of fun! Even though Errol Flynn's acting style was basically to pose and smile, it was a heroic romp that used everything I loved about that era’s adventure stories. And Olivia DeHavilland was a babe! There were a lot of cliches, but I realize that these movies invented them. Also they did them really well. When Basil Rathbone showed up, doing a bad French accent and schtick that Christopher Lee would steal 30 years later, i was sold.

While you are in the mood check out Sea Hawk, another great Errol Flynn adventure.

Captain Comics said:

Also watched Captain Blood. It was a lot of fun! Even though Errol Flynns acting style was basically to pose and smile, it was a heroic romp that used everything i loved about that era’s adventure stories. And Olivia DeHavilland was a babe! There were a lot of cliches, but i realize that these movies invented them. Also they did them really well. When Basil Rathbone showed up, doing a bad French accent and schtick that Christopher Lee would steal 30 years later, i was sold.

I am going to watch Sea Hawk, as soon as my wife can watch it with me. She caught the second half of Captain Blood, and she wants to see more.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to clear out my DVR. I recorded Up Periscope because of the cast: Edmond O'Brien, James Garner, Alan Hale Jr., and so forth. I mean, there are a lot of really good WWII submarine movies, right?

This not one of them. (And it's from 1959, anyway.) I sure hope Captain Benson reads this thread, so he can explain just how awful the chain of command stuff is, how bad the crew interaction is, how bad the "we hate the captain because he let a man die because he followed orders" stuff is, and so forth.

Then there are the submarine cliches, of sweaty men scared of the big boom coming down from on high when ... the sets are really too big for that to be an issue. Jesus, they're all in a Hyatt.

Also: Bad tech. They have a sonar that STOPS WHEN IT HITS SOMETHING. You have to see this to understand how weird it is. Sonar displays show a beam moving in a circle. It hits a blip. But it keeps moving. We all know this, from a thousand movies. Not in this one. When THIS sonar hits something, it STOPS. "Oh, look, skipper ..."

James Garner is a special ops guy, who is trying to steal Japanese code. You know, the one we broke in 1942. And this is, like, 1944. He has a miniature camera, smoke grenades and other James Bond items that didn't exist in World War II. But, hey, it's James Garner! Maverick can do anything!

Anyway, the whole movie is a walking anachronism, with a sub crew who should all be court-martialed, and a plot that is so preposterous that I'm sorry I even brought it up.

Also, I forgot to mention this about Robin and the 7 Hoods: It was weird watching a '60s director try to deal with TWO actors who had glass eyes (Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Falk) in the same movie.

And while we're on the subject: How does an actor with a glass eye get major roles? What director wants that? I get it with Sammy Davis Jr. -- he could dance, sing, act, had powerful friends, etc. -- but Peter Falk? What th-?

Columbo notwithstanding -- and I LOVE Columbo -- Falk was really a character actor, not a leading man. Quirky looks and mannerisms can be assets for character actors (provided they have the chops, which Falk did).

I don't think Peter Falk (who I agree was great) had much physical stuff to do. But Sammy Davis Jr? How do you dance the way he did with no depth perception?

Davis was already a star before he lost his eye in a car accident. Falk lost his to illness as a small child, but he played baseball and basketball in high school.

It's my understanding that our eyes also perceive depth by focus. I think the convergence effect only matters at short distances. The Polite Dissent website had a post discussing convergence of Superman's super-vision rays. It argued the rays should converge at short distances and not at long ones, and showed cases where the artists had it the wrong way around.

3D movies are a special case. The screen is at a distance, but our eyes get distinct images because of the glasses.

When watching baseball on TV, the one-eyed camera makes it look like players are close together when they aren't.

Captain Blood is set 1685-1689. The rebellion at the start is Monmouth's Rebellion, and Blood is condemned by Judge Jeffreys in the course of the Bloody Assizes. The conclusion takes place after the Glorious Revolution in Nov. 1688.

The book is a fix-up novel from a series of linked short stories. The movie follows it pretty faithfully, which is why it has that sequence in it where Blood teams up with Basil Rathbone's Levasseur and they quickly fall out.

The novel had previously been filmed in the silent era. Sabatini wrote further Captain Blood stories, collected in two more books.

Thank God for Fort Apache.

I confess, I know I've been writing a lot of bad reviews lately, for famous movies, and some somewhat-famous movies. Or just old movies. Some of you have probably stopped reading them. Even I wondered if perhaps I'd lived too long to appreciate the virtues of another age.

Then comes Fort Apache, which I watched on March 20.

In many ways, it's a very mannered movie. Which sometimes I love, and sometimes I don't. In this case, I do.

Henry Fonda is indeed a martinet, even though he denies that label verbally early in the movie. And he is so good at being the bad guy. No, he's not quite the utter bad guy he was in Once Upon a Time in the West (a movie that impacted me strongly as a lad). But he is a bad guy in the sense of being an unbending, cruel man of self-certitude. Which hurts not only the people he loves, but he himself.

It hurts his fame, which is important to him. It hurts his daughter, whom he loves. It hurts his command, which is the only path he has to redemption. He is hurting himself, and he's the only one who doesn't get it.

That's very modern.

No, wait, it's very old!

It's the sort of Greek tragedy that is immortal, which is very old, and very much the story of humanity. It's the story of hubris. Like all the good stories.

Also, the first time I saw this (at least, I think I have seen it before, although I might be thinking of She Wore a Yellow Ribbon) I didn't know anything about the Civil War, or the Irish immigration to the New World, and so forth.

But now I know a lot more about history. Now I understand why so many of the troopers were obviously Irish, due to the waves of Irish immigration in the 1800s and 1900s, and probably more commonly known when this movie was made. The idea that so many troops were recent immigrants isn't really important, but it's context.

Also: The Confederacy.

In this movie, if you fought in the Civil War for the Confederates, you have powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal Union troops, and you should be respected. (In one scene, only the Confederate can ride a horse, and the drill sergeant says something pleasant about his service.) There's more: The Fonda character is an admirer of Robert E. Lee, and somebody else compliments Nathan Bedford Forrest. They are heroes!

Despite being, you know, traitors to the U.S. Constitution.

Did you know that Robert E. Lee killed more American soldiers than Hitler? It's true; I Googled Army of the Potomac casualties vs. the ETO in WWII. And yet, there are statues to Robert E. Lee in this country, a man who took up arms against the United States Army! Yet knuckleheads with Confederate flags on their pickup trucks invariably say they are patriots who "support the troops." Well, evidently they don't support the troops who wore blue in the Civil War. They were Army troops, who represented our nation and defended the Constitution against an insurrection. And the heroes of today's white nationalists did their best to kill them, and they killed a lot of them! That's not exactly supporting the troops.

And I am from Nathan Bedford Forrest country. I know all there is to know about him. The white nationalists love him -- and there a lot of those hereabouts -- but he was a terrible person and should not have statues built to him.


I can't fault Fort Apache movie for this, because ALL media has been doing that for 150 years (mostly to avoid offending Southern customers). It's why we have statues of traitors like Forrest and Lee all over the country (they just removed a statue of the former from Downtown Memphis, from the former Nathan Bedford Forrest Park, now called Health Sciences Park). It's why we have neo-Nazis marching brazenly in Virginia. We had a chance to stamp out his sickness in 1865, but we allowed the former Confederates to romanticize the Lost Cause, instead of labeling it the treason it was. And the infection, instead of being cut out, spread.

Anyway, as I say, I can't fault this particular movie for lionizing the Confederacy like everything else in America. It's a discordant chord for me, but that's particular to me, not the movie.

Anyway, back to Fonda: Despite being a glory-seeking martinet, he even has strains of being a good guy! But we, the audience, are told, and Fonda the actor reinforces: Being a selfish little Napoleon is not just unpleasant, it's a moral wrong that gets people killed.

But guys like Wayne's character have adapted to the frontier, instead of trying to change it ... and are better for that flexibility. Fonda, on the other hand, has the ghost of Custer hovering over him the whole movie.

Good! This reinforces my belief in a fair universe. And it does so in B&W style!

Although, I have to confess, I've gotten old enough and sophisticated enough that I can tell when the actors are standing in front of a painted screen, and when there is actual location footage. (And, as we all know, John Ford was great at Painted Desert footage.) But I've also gotten old and sophisticated enough that I don't care. Tell the damn story, and if it takes a painted background for John Wayne to stand in front of while he pontificates, then fine. And in Fort Apache a lot of that happens. And it's fine!

Also, I love John Wayne when he's NOT the hero of the movie. He isn't the protagonist here, thank God; he's just what John Wayne is best at -- the frontier guy who knows his business, but answers to a higher power because he has to. In movies where he's the protagonist, he often represents a kind of masculinity which, to modern eyes, can be pretty toxic (Red River, The Searchers). And he has his own hair in this one, I think.That's always a plus.

I even liked Shirley Temple in this movie. Before I watched this as an adult, I didn't realize what I didn't like about her as a younger man, or more likely, a pre-adolescent. She's the girl who acts super-cute to get what she wants, which is irritating. (My older sisters LOVED her!)

And in this movie she lets every emotion play across her face without any subtlety at all. That works better on the stage than in the more intimate view of the movie camera. But in THIS movie, it works. She's just a function in a clockwork machine, and her transparent function (as opposed to being a human being) worked for the clockwork.

And that's what Fort Apache is. It's not subtle, or clever. It's just a big, bold, old-style Western with pretty scenery (albeit in B&W) that tells a simple story that we've all heard a million times.

And I enjoyed it. Even in my dotage.

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