The Private Lives of Adam and Eve (1960)

Article 2469 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-5-2008
Posting Date: 5-16-2008
Directed by Mickey Rooney and Albert Zugsmith
Featuring Mickey Rooney, Mamie Van Doren, Fay Spain

Country: USA

A couple with a troubled marriage find themselves stranded in a church with several of their fellow passengers from a bus during a violent and possibly fatal storm. They fall asleep, and dream they are Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden.

Ah, the Adam and Eve story! It’s one of the biblical stories that is most attractive to exploitation filmmakers for obvious reasons. As a director, this was Albert Zugsmith’s follow-up to SEX KITTENS GO TO COLLEGE, and that’s pretty much all you need to know about the level of sophistication of this movie, and the co-direction from Mickey Rooney doesn’t really change that. Yes, it’s incredibly dumb, but I’m glad it went for comedy; if the movie had taken itself seriously, it would have been interminable. The cast is interesting, though; Mickey Rooney gets to play the devil, Mamie Van Doren and Martin Milner are Adam and Eve, and Fay Spain plays Lilith. Mel Torme, Tuesday Weld, Paul Anka and Cecil Kellaway all play fellow bus passengers (one song from Anka, none from Torme). We get to see Adam naming the animals, Lilith making a bed and teaching Adam how to use it, Eve trying on a hat made of fruit, and the Devil trying to show Eve what she should do with the coconut. Hint to the devil; that’s Mamie Van Doren as Eve, which is my way of saying that the coconut is way too small.



Pyro (1964)

PYRO (1964)
Article 2431 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-24-2007
Posting Date: 4-8-2008
Directed by Julio Coll and Luis Garcia
Featuring Barry Sullivan, Martha Hyer, Sherry Moreland

A married American engineer in Spain falls for another woman. When he tries to break off the affair, his lover, thinking she can win him back if his wife and child are dead, sets fire to his home after he leaves for a meeting. He returns unexpectedly, and is horribly burned in the attempt to save his family. He swears revenge on the woman who killed them…

This movie was produced and cowritten by Sidney Pink, who also gave us ANGRY RED PLANET, REPTILICUS and JOURNEY TO THE SEVENTH PLANET. Though his presence is hardly a guarantee of quality, I find something likable and interesting about his work. This is perhaps his best movie, and I suspect that he was somewhat influenced by Hitchcock here. The story itself is fairly obvious and straightforward, but there’s an attention to detail and a number of odd touches that held my attention and interest, and this was especially crucial during the first half of the movie, which is largely setting up the events that lead to the fire. My favorite touches include he engineer’s obsession with Ferris Wheels, and the scene where he describes his neighbors in the apartment building where he lives. Barry Sullivan and Martha Hyer give solid and effective performances. The movie has a bit of a split personality; the opening credits feature happy, jolly carnival music, but the credits are displayed in that overly-scary K. Gordon Murray Mexican Movie Font, and at one point during my viewing, my wife, who had overheard parts of the first half of the movie and then had taken a shower during the middle section with the fire, came back in and found the mood so changed that she thought I was now watching a different movie. It’s not a great movie, but it’s a good one, and I quite liked it.


The Psychopath (1975)

Article 2398 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 10-20-2007
Posting Date: 3-6-2008
Directed by Larry G. Brown
Featuring Tom Basham, Gene Carlson, Gretchen Kanne

The host of a children’s television show has a hobby on the side; he murders the abusive parents of fans of the TV show.

This movie has a pretty bad rep, but I have to admit it was pretty effective in at least two regards; it does a good job at making you hate the abusive parents, and you feel the frustration of the doctors and the police in dealing with the abusive situations. However, the movie pulls the rug from under itself through a combination of bad music choices, confusing direction, and a ludicrous performance from Tom Basham as the title character, Mr. Rabbey; he’s so over-the-top that you’re surprised anyone would allow him near their children in the first place. The movie’s twist manages to be both queasily strange and patently obvious at the same time, no mean feat. Oddly enough, there are two versions of this movie; one with the murders and one without; my version is the one with the murders. The movie also features Bruce Kimball, who has more than a passing resemblance to Joe Don Baker, which I didn’t notice when he gave his awful performance as the witch doctor in THE MIGHTY GORGA .


The Pack (1977)

THE PACK (1977)
Article 2395 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 10-17-2007
Posting Date: 3-3-2008
Directed by Robert Clouse
Featuring Joe Don Baker, Hope Alexander-Willis, Richard B. Shull

Residents of a small island find themselves under attack by a pack of hungry dogs, which were abandoned by vacationers and are now led by a vicious mongrel.

When you think Joe Don Baker, you think of cheesy low-budget action movies that aren’t particularly good. And heaven knows there are some things that are just plain bad in this movie; the premise is a little hard to swallow, some of the acting is quite bad, and it has its share of stupid moments. Still, I rather liked this one; the dogs do come off as effectively scary, some of the attack scenes are well staged, and the director does have a talent for setting up scenes that make you jump (he managed at one point to do it twice in a couple of minutes). I’m also glad that the Humane society was on hand for the filming of this movie; some of the stunts involving dogs and motor vehicles looked fairly dangerous for the animals, especially one in which the pack of dogs encounters a truck on a narrow pier. It maintains the tension throughout and has a good ending. One thing that crossed my mind; the pack of dogs was loose on Seal Island. This made me wonder if there was an island somewhere called Dog Island where the residents were under attack by a pack of – well, maybe I should stick to reviews rather than coming up with story ideas.


Purple Death from Outer Space (1966)

Article 2372 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-23-2007
Posting Date: 2-9-2008
Directed by Ford Beebe and Ray Taylor
Featuring Buster Crabbe, Carol Hughes, Charles Middleton

Flash Gordon, Dale Arden and Dr. Zarkov return to the planet Mongo when it is discovered that a plague decimating the earth is the result of Emperor Ming the Merciless.

This is probably one of the smoother of the feature versions of serials that I’ve seen; only occasionally does the action shift abruptly and the music skip. I think it also helps that this is from one of the Flash Gordon serials, which, in comparison to the Republic serials, have more in the way of a story arc to sustain a feature length. It also helps that it features Buster Crabbe and Charles Middleton, perhaps the best serial hero and villain of all time. My main problems are the usual ones; overfamiliarity with the story (I’ve already seen both the individual serial and the other feature version PERIL FROM THE PLANET MONGO ) and the simple fact that, despite the fairly smooth editing, it still feels like watching several episodes of a serial at once. Still, this is about as good as this type of thing ever gets.


Peter Pan (1960)

PETER PAN (1960)
Article 2351 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-2-2007
Posting Date: 1-19-2008
Directed by Vincent J. Donehue
Featuring Mary Martin, Cyril Ritchard, Maureen Bailey

Peter Pan whisks away a girl and her two brothers to Neverneverland to meet the lost boys. They do battle with Captain Hook.

The story of “Peter Pan” never really did much for me in the first place, and I’m not partial to musicals either. Therefore, about the best I can really do with this is to admire it from a distance. Make no mistake; it’s a fine adaptation of the work; Mary Martin is spirited in the title role, the songs are good, the dancing is fine, Cyril Pritchard is well cast as both Mr. Darling and Captain Hook, etc. It’s just that I only occasionally feel the magic myself. Still, there are at least three things I really like in this TV-Movie adaptation of the play. The dance with Tiger Lily and the Indians is a lot of fun, and is my favorite moment in the movie. I’m truly impressed with how a whole character is created with nothing more than a flickering light and a few sound effects (Tinkerbell, in case you were wondering), and I absolutely love the Nana costume and the performance of the actor inside; it’s not that the costume was convincing (that would have been impossible), but that it’s so charming that I willingly buy into the illusion. For me, this was real magic, and it was even before Peter Pan appears on the scene. Still, the experience may have dampened for me by the simple fact that I saw just a short time ago the SCTV parody in which Peter Pan is played by Divine.


The Princess and the Magic Frog (1965)

aka At the End of the Rainbow
Article 2346 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 8-28-2007
Posting Date: 1-14-2008
Directed by Austin Green
Featuring David Alan Bailey, G. Edward Brett, Nancy DeCarl

A boy gets lost in the forest. He saves a leprechaun and gets his bag of gold coins in return. The coins are magic coins, but they can only grant wishes to help others. He must use them wisely if he wishes to return home.

You know, I bet this movie would be great entertainment for a six-year-old. It’s also very family friendly; its most violent scene has a genie hit in the face with a pie, and its most risque scene is a performance by puppet can-can dancers. Feel free to set your child in front of it and let him or her enjoy it. Whether you want to watch it yourself is another matter; it’s cute at first, but after awhile the slightly condescending air to it (plot points are fatiguingly belabored) becomes wearing, the golly-gee-whiz-gosh style dialogue is insufferable, and, for a movie with wizards, knights, gypsies, genies, leprechauns, talking signs and self-ambulatory puppets, it looks like it was made for twenty dollars and shot in the nearby park. There are many lessons to be learned along the way. As I said, fun for your six-year-old. I would have enjoyed it forty-two years ago.