The Omega Man (1971)

THE OMEGA MAN (1971)
Article 2747 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-13-2008
Posting Date: 2-19-2009
Directed by Boris Sagal
Featuring Charlton Heston, Anthony Zerbe, Rosalind Cash
Country: USA

The sole survivor of a world-decimating plague finds himself in a one-man war against a gang of surviving mutants bent on his destruction. However, his life changes when he discovers he may not be the only survivor…

This is the third version of Richard Matheson’s novel “I Am Legend”; there appears to be a Spanish short version made a few years earlier which I’ve not seen. I’ve also not seen the recent Will Smith remake, so all I’ve got to compare it with is the Vincent Price version called THE LAST MAN ON EARTH from the early sixties. This one is certainly better made, and was a great deal more popular. I myself quite like some parts of this one; I was always charmed by the scene where Charlton Heston’s character goes to a movie theater to see WOODSTOCK, a movie he’s seen so many times he can mouth the words. I’ve also never forgotten the climax of the movie in the fountain outside of the mansion. Still, taken as a whole, I prefer the earlier version; there’s something about the weariness and stark bleakness of the earlier movie that fires my imagination more than the standard action setpieces that drive this one. This is not to say that this is a bad movie; it’s quite entertaining in its way, though it does get a little slow at times. It just doesn’t have the same impact on me, especially in the closing scenes. On a side note, I wish I had known that craggy-faced John Dierkes was one of the members of the Family in this movie; I would have kept my eyes open for him.

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Onesime horloger (1912)

ONESIME HORLOGER (1912)
aka Simple Simon, Clock Maker
Article 2705 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-29-2008
Posting Date: 1-10-2009
Directed by Jean Durand
Featuring Ernest Bourbon, Raymon Aimos, Berthe Dagmar
Country: France

Unhappy to discover he has to wait twenty years for his inheritence, Onesime (aka Simple Simon) modifies a clock to make it go fast, thus causing the world to go in fast motion.

This is an amusing enough silent short, but I suspect that the amusement is somewhat blunted by the fact that fast motion has been used many times since, and also by the fact that for years, silents were projected at the wrong speed, thus causing us to get used to silents appearing to be undercranked. In fact, the outdoor scenes of cars going by looks almost normal. Still, the short has one clever moment involving one of the speediest courtships on film; you’ll see a baby grow before your very eyes. Incidentally, writer Louis Feuillade would go on to fame as a director of early French serials, including FANTOMAS, JUDEX, and LES VAMPIRES.

 

Outer Space Jitters (1957)

OUTER SPACE JITTERS (1957)
Article 2659 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-23-2008
Posting Date: 11-23-2008
Directed by Jules White
Featuring Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Joe Besser
Country: USA

The Stooges go to the planet Senuv (Venus spelled backwards) and encounter electrical women and a monster.

This being the Three Stooges, there is a certain amount of energy to the proceedings. But the energy feels forced and somewhat desperate, the gags are weak, and the timing is off. This is the Stooges near the end of their career in shorts, though they would have a few more features come their way once Joe Besser departed and Curley Joe DeRita came on board. This is probably the weakest of their shorts that I’ve seen.

 

Oh! What a Lovely War (1969)

OH! WHAT A LOVELY WAR (1969)
Article 2638 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 6-26-2008
Posting Date: 11-2-2008
Directed by Richard Attenborough
Featuring Wendy Allnutt, Colin Farrell, Malcolm McFee
Country: UK

World War I breaks out, and the British send their young men to war. While some people see the war as a game, others die by the millions.

The fantasy element here is that the conflicting views of the war manifest themselves within the reality of the movie by contradictory stylistic approaches, from the more realistic ones of the soldiers on the front to the fantasy ones of those in the higher chains of command; to them, World War 1 is an amusement park, and you can be sent to war by such methods as winning a shooting game or going up to dance with one of the girls during a musical number. As such, the movie is a marginal fantasy, though one which may not appeal to fans of the form specifically. The movie isn’t perfect; it’s a little too long, somewhat confusing at times, and American viewers may not find it as effective, as the movie focuses very strongly on the British view of the war; in fact, the Americans don’t show up until ten minutes before the end of the movie after the lion’s share of the British casualties have occurred. The movie is also a musical, though the songs actually come from the time period; it may be possible that some of the lyrics are new, but I can’t attest to this one way or another. It can be chillingly effective as an anti-war statement at times; my favorite moments involve a general reporting to his superiors the success of a battle in which a vast number of casualties occurred and no ground was gained, and the sad final moment of the movie in which the camera pans back far enough for us to see a graveyard that seems to go on to infinity. The movie has a huge cast, with a number of famous names, including Sir Laurence Olivier, Sir John Gielgud, Sir Ralph Richardson, Dirk Bogarde, Michael Redgrave, Vanessa Redgrave, Maggie Smith… well, I could go on for quite a while. This was the first directorial effort from Richard Attenborough.

 

One Minute Before Death (1972)

ONE MINUTE BEFORE DEATH (1972)
aka The Oval Portrait
Article 2598 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-16-2008
Posting Date: 9-23-2008
Directed by Rogelio A. Gonzalez
Featuring Wanda Hendrix, Barry Coe, Gisele MacKenzie
Country: USA/Mexico

A woman falls down a flight of stairs after being frightened by some hooded figures. Everyone thinks she’s dead, but she isn’t and is afraid of being buried alive. In her comatose state, she discovers the infidelity of her husband and the plot against her life.

Sometimes I wonder if I can legitimately say I’ve seen a movie. With some of these rarities, I have to settle for whatever copy I can get, and the DVD for this one jumps and skips so badly that I had to watch it twice on two different machines to piece together what was going on. This is far from the best way to view a movie. Furthermore, I wonder if this movie is confused with another one. One of the alternate titles for this is THE OVAL PORTRAIT, and most of the plot descriptions I run into talk about a woman being possessed by lady in a portrait. This at least sounds like a possible way to adapt the Poe story of the same name, but this movie has nothing to do with a portrait; if anything, it owes more to “The Premature Burial”, soap operas (there’s a lot of sleeping around going on) and Old Dark House movies. Yet, the credits match, and so I do nothing but shrug my shoulders.

The movie? Well, given my description of the viewing experience, I’ve got no choice but to give the movie the benefit of the doubt until I see it as it should be seen. At least one thing I can admire; the movie has an incredible amount of flashbacks during the first half hour (before the DVD becomes difficult), yet somehow manages to avoid being totally confusing. That’s something.

In the meantime, I’m making a note to hunt around for a better copy.

 

O.K. Nero (1951)

O.K. NERO (1951)
aka O.K. Nerone, O.K. Neron
Article 2579 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-27-2008
Posting Date: 9-4-2008
Directed by Carlo Campanini, Walter Chiari, Silvana Pampanini
Country: Italy

Two American servicemen are hit over the head while visiting Rome, and are transported back to Roman times during the time of Nero. Hilarity ensues.

Don’t let the “American servicemen” bit above fool you; this is an Italian comedy, albeit one that makes extensive use of “Oh Susanna” and “Yankee Doodle” in the soundtrack. Fortunately, my copy of the movie is dubbed; unfortunately, it’s dubbed into French. So, what’s it like? It’s exactly what I would expect an Italian slapstick comedy dubbed into French would be like; occasionally amusing but mostly incoherent because I can’t understand the jokes. The two servicemen end up on the run from the authorities, dress up as black slave women to escape, perform the jitterbug, become gladiators, host a carnival (hit the target, win a midget), and mess around with various potions from some sorcerers. There’s no real surprises here, but it does have its moments; their disguises as female black slaves will definitely leave your jaw hanging open, and it did have one verbal gag that I caught, largely due to the fact that the French word for “cannibal” sounds a lot like the English word. It looks like Campanini and Chiari may have been a comedy team; they worked together on quite a few comedies during the early fifties.

 

Out of This World (1956)

OUT OF THIS WORLD (1956)
TV-Movie aka The Robot of Regalio
Article 2462 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-29-2008
Posting Date: 5-9-2008
Directed by Hollingsworth Morse
Featuring Richard Crane, Jimmy Lydon, Sally Mansfield
Country: USA

Rocky Jones must do battle with the evil ruler of Regalio, who has the power to pull planets from their orbits and plans to do so with Earth. Unfortunately, he also has to contend with another problem; the female ruler of Herculon who is his ally has an evil twin sister with designs of her own.

This marks my final foray into the world of Rocky Jones for this series. I must admit that I’ve been fairly loose in my coverage of the movies culled from the series; in certain cases, I’ve watched not the movie version, but the episodes of the series from which it was culled. Still, I think this is acceptable; other than the removable of beginning and ending credits and the occasional change of a credit sequence, the movies presented the episodes as is. This one features Ian Keith in a fun little role as the Nizam of Regalio. All in all, this one has a decent pace, and is one of the more enjoyable stories from the series. Granted, you have to make allowances; the show was rather stiff, the acting uneven, and certain segments are hard to swallow (there’s a lot of knock-out potions in drinks in this one), but I still think the scripts showed more sophistication than is usually to be found in kiddie space fare. Oh, and the robot gets loose and goes on a rampage (such as it is) in the final episode.

Goodbye, Rocky Jones; I initially expected to hate these movies, but I found them far more enjoyable than I expected, and I’ll miss covering them.