The Great Rupert (1950)

THE GREAT RUPERT (1950)
Article 2377 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-28-2007
Posting Date: 2-14-2008
Directed by Irving Pichel
Featuring Jimmy Durante, Terry Moore, Tom Drake

A family of down-and-out vaudevillians move into an apartment, not knowing how they will pay the rent. Then, every Thursday, fifteen hundred dollars floats down to them out of heaven. They think it is a miracle; in truth, it is a squirrel cleaning money out of his sleeping place left there by a greedy landlord.

When I think of Irving Pichel and George Pal, I think of DESTINATION MOON . However, they worked together one other time, and that’s here, in this rather harmless piece of fluff in which a talented squirrel helps a family with their personal problems. The fantastic content consists of the bogus miracle and the super-talented squirrel; the latter is animated in much the same way as George Pal’s “Puppetoons” were. The movie is all right, I suppose, for those who like gentle, feel-good comedies, but, for my purposes, there’s not near enough of the stop-motion-animated puppet squirrel to make this one really fun; once the squirrel hides himself in the house, he does little more than throw one-hundred-dollar bills through a hole. Outside of the squirrel, the most interesting character is a combination bear-skin rug and radio. Oh, and Jimmy Durante isn’t bad either, but I don’t think anyone would like to claim they were upstaged by a squirrel and a rug.

 

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Godzilla’s Revenge (1969)

GODZILLA’S REVENGE (1969)
aka Gojira-Minira-Gabara: Oru kaiju daishingeki
Article 2376 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-27-2007
Posting Date: 2-13-2008
Directed by Ishiro Honda
Featuring Tomonori Yazaki, Eisei Amamoto, Sachio Sakai

A young and lonely boy, beset by bullies and missing his parents who are too busy working to spend time with him, dreams of going to Monster Island to meet Godzilla. In his dreams, he meets and befriends Godzilla’s son, Minya, who has to contend with a bully himself – the monster Gabara.

The worst of the Godzilla movies? Well, it is important to give the movie some credit; it takes a totally different approach than any of the other Godzilla movies, and some of the scenes of the boy’s life in his neighborhood are fairly well done. The movie also begs to be judged on a different level, as it is obviously aimed at a younger audience that the other Godzilla movies, and the boy’s love of monsters certainly strikes a chord in many of us. Nevertheless, the movie is not very good overall, and it doesn’t look like it was made with much respect, especially in the dubbed American version. The opening theme is a little too jokey, most of the monster fight footage is lifted from GODZILLA VS. THE SEA MONSTER and SON OF GODZILLA, Minya is given a speaking voice that sounds like Mortimer Snerd, and one of his monster calls sounds like a braying donkey. The dubbing is atrocious at times, far worse than any of the other films in the series. Still, it is important to give credit where it is due; it can be taken more seriously than the Gamera films of the period. And I’m almost surprised there aren’t any overt ecological messages to be found; we see the children playing in the industrial section of town among smoke-belching factories, and, intentional or otherwise, the movie sends a definite message. My favorite moment: the boy is unexpectedly attacked by a strange plant creature on Monster Island.

 

Girl in His Pocket (1957)

GIRL IN HIS POCKET (1957)
aka Un amour de poche
Article 2361 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-12-2007
Posting Date: 1-29-2008
Directed by Pierre Kast
Featuring Jean Marais, Genevieve Page, Jean-Claude Brialy

A scientist creates a formula that can turn any animal into a miniature figurine, and then a solution that can return them to their original form. in the process, he falls in love with a beautiful lab assistant, much to the consternation of his jealous fiance. They use the formula to cover up their activities from the fiance, but complications arise…

I have to admit that I never know quite what I’m getting into when I watch a French movie, but this was fairly easy to figure out. It’s a straightforward comedy. The gimmick that drives it is fairly amusing, and in general I quite enjoyed it, though it does get a little too obvious on occasion. I also was quite surprised to find that I was happy it was dubbed; this isn’t because I prefer dubbing to subtitles (I don’t); it’s merely because I prefer being able to understand a movie rather than having to struggle through another undubbed, unsubtitled foreign movie, an experience I’ve had too much of lately. The performances seem quite good and fairly spirited at least insofar as I can tell through the dubbing. All in all, it’s fairly innocuous, but it does have its charms.

 

The Ghosts of Yotsuya (1959)

THE GHOSTS OF YOTSUYA (1959)
aka Tokaido Yotsuya kaidan
Article 2349 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 8-31-2007
Posting Date: 1-17-2008
Directed by Nobuo Nakagawa
Featuring Shigeru Amachi, Noriko Kitazawa, Shinjiro Asano

A married but poor samurai is tempted into leaving his current wife to marry the daughter of a rich lord. His greedy mother forces him into a plot to kill his wife. However, the dead wife has a desire for revenge…

This movie has a 7.6 rating on IMDB at the time of this writing, which indicates that this movie has a strong following. For me, the movie has one real problem; it’s a little too slow out of the gate, largely due to the fact that the backstory is a too elaborate and involved, and you’re a good ways into the movie before the plot to murder the wife is even thought up. It’s not that the backstory is bad; it’s actually interesting enough, and it plays a role in the thoroughness of the revenge to come; it’s just that there’s too much of it. However, once the murder goes into effect, the movie really shifts into high, and the scary visuals as well as the cleverness of the ghosts’ revenge (they are able to appear before their victims in place of the people they are actually talking to) really bring this to life. Director Nobuo Nakagawa has several ghost and horror stories to his credit, though this is the only one I’ve seen so far.

 

The Ghost Goes Wild (1947)

THE GHOST GOES WILD (1947)
Article 2340 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 8-22-2007
Posting Date: 1-8-2007
Directed by George Blair
Featuring James Ellison, Anne Gwynne, Edward Everett Horton

An artist, threatened by a lawsuit and a jealous husband, hides from the world. When the cabin where he was staying burns down with a thief inside, he is believed dead. When he returns to his home at a farm on Haunted Hill, everyone thinks he is a ghost. He decides to use his status to end the lawsuit and drive off the jealous husband,

Well, the ghost doesn’t go too wild here; this comedy is only mildly amusing, though Edward Everett Horton is fun as always as the artist’s butler. At least a real ghost shows up at a couple of points in the proceedings; the above plot description certainly makes it sound as if there is no real ghost here. Ruth Donnelly is quite fun as the dowager who sues over a caricature she sat for, and you’ll probably recognize Charles Halton as her attorney. I’ll also give it a few points for being one of the only movies I’ve seen that has a character named Murgatroyd.

 

Great Insect War (1968)

GREAT INSECT WAR (1968)
aka Konchu daisenso, Genocide
Musing 2324 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 8-6-2007
Posting Date: 12-23-2007
Directed by Norman Cooper and Kazui Nihonmatsu
Featuring Hiroshi Aoyama, Saburo Aunuma, Happie Barman

Nature goes wild as insects start attacking people.

I have to be vague about the plot description; I’ve only been able to find this movie in unsubtitled Japanese, and, quite frankly, I’m at a loss as to exactly what’s going on in it outside of the killer insects. I can only guess at the other plot elements, but I do speculate that the killer insects were created by man and that there is a military cover-up concerning them. I can also say that the movie is definitely not oriented for juveniles; the plot involves torture and attempted rape, and there is an unpleasant and sleazy air about the proceedings. In fact, I’d go so far to say that the movie is downright nihilistic, a circumstance which made me look for a connection to the Japanese movie it most reminded me of. The director Kazui Nihonmastu wasn’t the connection; his only other credit is for the dorky but harmless THE X FROM OUTER SPACE . However, I found my connection with the writer Susumu Takahisa; this is the writer who also penned the script for GOKE: BODY SNATCHER FROM HELL, a movie whose bleakness is very similar to this one’s. Still, I can’t say more until a dubbed or subtitled copy comes my way.

 

The Great Alligator (1979)

THE GREAT ALLIGATOR (1979)
aka Big Alligator River, Il Fiume del grande caimano
Article 2312 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-25-2007
Posting Date: 12-11-2007
Directed by Sergio Martino
Featuring Barbara Bach, Claudio Cassinelli, Mel Ferrer

A tourist resort runs into trouble when local natives unleash their god; a giant alligator.

At the one hour mark in this movie, I was ready to write it off. It was your standard Italian JAWS rip-off with a couple of familiar names in the cast (Barbara Bach, Mel Ferrer), poor special effects (anything having to do with the alligator in particular), annoying editing (ditto on the last comment), bad dialogue and crummy music (whenever they played this generic funk while the natives were engaged in their tribal rituals, I kept looking for which native was playing the synth). To its credit, the movie does come to life a little bit towards the end, thanks in part to the fact that the alligator attacks are also augmented by native attacks; as a result, there is a real sense of hopelessness during the scene where a group of tourists are trapped in a fenced-off swimming area, they can’t stay because the giant alligator is breaking through the defenses, but they can’t go ashore because the natives will pick them off one by one if they do. A scene where our heroes are trapped in the bottom of the river in a flooded van is also fairly exciting, Other than these two scenes, this one is pretty forgettable.