Sandokan, Pirate of Malaysia (1964)

Sandokan, Pirate of Malaysia (1964)
Article 5980 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 6-6-2021
Directed by Umberto Lenzi
Featuring Steve Reeves, Jacqueline Sessard, Mimmo Palmara
Country: Italy / Spain / West Germany / France
What it is: Historical action

Pirate Sandokan aids a rebellious faction in an Asian country to save them from being taken over by British invaders.

Despite the presence of Steve Reeves and its presence in the Mill Creek “Warriors” megapack, this is not a sword and sandal movie; it’s historical action/adventure in a time much closer to the present. Nor would I bother reviewing it if it weren’t listed in the Walt Lee guide; its sole fantastic content is the presence of one of those drugs which cause a man to feign death until given the antidote, a device which drives the plot in the middle of the movie. As for the movie itself, it’s a passable example of the genre, but my viewing is marred by the fact that my copy seems underlit; many of the scenes are so dark it’s difficult to tell one person from another, and that makes it very difficult to appreciate the action sequences. If better copies exist, those seeking to view the movie would be better off waiting for those to show up.

Salvage (1979)

Salvage (1979)
Article 5979 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 6-5-2021
Directed by Lee Philips
Featuring Andy Griffith, Joel Higgins, Trish Stewart
Country: USA
What it is: Successful TV series pilot

An ambitious junkman conceives of a plan to retrieve salvage from the moon. Can he make his plan become reality?

I’ve seen quite a few TV-Movies intended as pilots for series that never made the grade, but this is one of the exceptions; it did become a series, albeit one that had a very short run. Somehow, I’m not surprised; the premise here is rather far-fetched and I’m not sure a series based on this would work in the long run. On the plus side, the characters are fun, there’s a genuine wit to the proceedings, and it’s rather likable. The first part of the movie is involved with the implementation of the plan and gathering the necessary talent to pull it off; the second mostly plays for suspense and is far more familiar, as it concentrates with the various dangers and setbacks of the voyage to the moon itself. All in all, I rather like it, and I’m glad it was given a chance as a series.

The Sadistic Hypnotist (1969)

The Sadistic Hypnotist (1969)
aka Wanda
Article 5978 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 6-2-2021
Directed by Greg Corarito
Featuring Katherine Shubeck, Richard Compton, Janine Sweet
Country: USA
What it is: Nudies discover sex, drugs, and stupidity.

A man goes to a sleazy theater and watches a movie in which the male survivor of a car crash is kept prisoner by a sadistic female hypnotist and her gaggle of girls who have their way with him. Can he be rescued by a maniac from the fun-nee farm? And what will happen when they all take drugs?

It’s been a little while since my last review because none of my recent viewings had any of the necessary fantastic content. It certainly doesn’t bode well that this idiotic little feature (which serves as a link between nudies and full-blown porn) is the one that brings me back to the reviews. Between having a whip-wielding maniac, a woman with hypnotic powers, and a framing story with a very common final twist, there’s enough fantastic content to get by. For the record, it seems to be trying to be a comedy,(though it’s really just for the usual exploitation crowd), so I’ll give it a point for it’s best joke, which is how the guys raiding the kitchen find which jar has the LSD in it.

Song of the South (1946)

Song of the South (1946)
Article 5694 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 6-19-2019
Directed by Harve Foster and Wilfred Jackson
Featuring Ruth Warrick, Bobby Driscoll, James Baskett
Country: USA
What it is: Live action / animation combo

A young boy is left at his grandmother’s plantation and separated from his father. He befriends the story-telling Uncle Remus and deals with his personal problems.

Due to a certain degree of racial controversy about this movie, Disney has never officially released it on home video in the states. I’m not going to delve into the reasons for this other than to say that I’ve seen far more offensive movies that are available. What I will say is that I wasn’t sure I was going to review the movie as I was watching it. Yes, it has animated segments with talking animals, but since that’s not sufficient content for me in reviewing cartoons, I wasn’t sure I was going to make an exception here. It wasn’t until the closing moments of the movie that it really turns into a fantasy when the real world and the cartoon world merge, so I decided to cover it.

As for the movie itself, I like the animated sequences better than I like the live-action story, which comes across a little bit too mechanical on tugging on the heartstrings. However, it’s well acted, and I quite like James Baskett’s performance as Uncle Remus; he apparently showed up to audition for the voice of a butterfly. I do wonder how the movie would have turned out if the movie had been a fully animated set of Uncle Remus’s tales, but I suspect budgetary concerns might have prevented that. All in all, it’s a good Disney feature, though I wouldn’t rank it with their greatest work.

His Majesty, the Scarecrow of Oz (1914)

His Majesty, the Scarecrow of Oz (1914)
Article 5668 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 4-24-2019
Directed by J. Farrell MacDonald
Featuring Violet MacMillan, Frank Moore, Pierre Couderc
Country: USA
What it is: Another adventure in the Land of Oz

When the evil King Krewl is unable to make his daughter marry an unwanted suitor, he has a witch cast a spell over her so that her heart will freeze. Dorothy escapes from the witch, and finds friends to help her save the princess from her fate.

If I were to take a stab at describing this one, it would be as terminally distracted retelling of “The Wizard of Oz”, only with an entirely different plot driving the action. I’d be tempted to call it unfaithful to the spirit of L. Frank Baum, but I can’t, as Baum himself wrote the screenplay. It’s one of those movies that I don’t know how to react to; the plot becomes difficult to follow at times because it keeps being distracted by slapstick scenes with people in animal costumes, and these scenes generally bring the story to a halt. The costumes, however, are the best things about this one; it’s probably more enjoyable if you give up on trying to follow the story and enjoy the spectacle, but even that gets old after a while. All in all, this is a sporadically entertaining mess.

Spring (1909)

Spring (1909)
aka Le printemps
Article 5660 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 3-29-2019
Directed by Louis Feuillade
Featuring Henri Duval, Christiane Mandalys, Maurice Vinot
Country: France
What it is: Decorative short

Spring is celebrated with mystical characters appearing in vistas of nature.

IMDB splits this short into four different movies, with each movie consisting of one or two of the seven episodes that make up the combined version I saw. I decided to review them as a single entity, taking note that only the first of the four movies is classified as a fantasy by IMDB. Still, any one of the four sections would qualify; each section features characters magically appearing in a spring setting, and relaxing / dancing / cavorting / playing in the setting. As such, there’s no plot; it’s a decorative mood piece that’s pretty to look at. Oddly enough, this is the second movie in a row to feature fairies dancing on water.

Satan s’amuse (1907)

Satan s’amuse (1907)
Article 5651 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 3-15-2019
Directed by Segundo de Chomon
Featuring Julienne Mathieu
Country: France
What it is: Trick film

A skeletal Satan keeps himself amused by performing magic tricks. However, he keeps being interrupted by a female rival also adept at magic.

What we have here is Chomon doing his version of one of Melies’s favorite themes – the magic trick show. This one is somewhat longer than similar movies by Melies, but he does hold the interest by coming up with a few types of tricks that Melies didn’t do (Chomon occasionally liked to bring the action forward for close-ups, for one thing), and by adding a rival female magician, he added a smidgen of plot to the mix. It’s not bad, but it’s hardly one of Chomon’s better efforts; the magic trick format only has so much appeal, and there are so many similar films. Still, it’s good to know Satan has a hobby.

Stealing a Dinner (1899)

Stealing a Dinner (1899)
Article 5638 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 2-24-2019
Director unknown
Cast unknown
Country: USA
What it is: Trained animal antics

A dog steals a man’s dinner and frames a cat for the crime.

From what I see here, I’m guessing that this film is a recreation of a trained animal act on the vaudeville circuit; the AMB catalogue refers to a certain Professor Leonidas and his trained cats and dogs. The fantastic content comes toward the end of the short, which implies that dogs have a police force; at least, that’s how I interpret the dog in the police costume who appears at the climax. It’s probably funnier seen live; in this short, the action is a bit too frantic and abrupt to be really funny.

Le squelette joyeux (1898)

Le squelette joyeux (1898)
Article 5637 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 2-22-2019
Directed by Louis Lumiere
No cast
Country: France
What it is: The first dancing skeleton film?

A skeleton dances despite the fact that he keeps falling apart.

Here’s another fantastically-themed Lumiere short, and in some ways, it has even less in the way of special effects as FAUST: APPARITION DE MEPHISTOPHELES had; it’s a photographed puppet show. Still, it is an entertaining puppet show, and there’s a lot more energy in the presentation here, so this is a lot more satisfying. I also wonder if it’s the first dancing skeleton movie; I’ve seen many animated dancing skeleton shorts, and in some ways, they may have gotten their start here.

Addendum: I have since learned this is not the first dancing skeleton film; it’s predated the THE DANCING SKELETON (1897). Thanks to doctor kiss for the correction!

Secret Agent (1943)

Secret Agent (1943)
Article 5604 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 12-21-2018
Directed by Seymour Kneitel
Featuring the voices of Bud Collyer, Joan Alexander, Jackson Beck
Country: USA
What it is: Superman short

A blonde secret agent is trying to get information about a spy organization to the authorities. However, she’s being chased by the spies. Can Superman come to her rescue?

Though I haven’t covered all of the Fleischer Superman cartoons, this is the last one I’ll be doing for the time being. It is also, I gather, the last one done by the organization, and maybe it was just as well. It was probably inevitable that the series would eventually turn to wartime propaganda, and this has Superman going against the Nazis. Superman has only two words of dialogue, and Lois Lane is nowhere to be found, though Joan Alexander provides the voice for the female spy. This one really stretches credibility during its climax; Superman takes so long to come to the secret agent’s urgent rescue that rightfully she should have been dead long before he gets to her. And maybe it’s just me, but doesn’t one of the evil spies bear a strong resemblance to Dick Tracy?