Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Bank holiday fun: trash favourites revisited

A re-run of a 2011 feature I did on Trash Classic favourites:
Before we return to the art house and more middle-brow entertainment how about a look back at some of those Trash Classics reviewed here? Call them what you will: Bad Movies We Love, The Great Bad Movies, Cult Classics or Guilty Pleasures, there is still a whole lot of fun to be gleaned from re-running crazy flicks like:

MAMBO - 1954 meller set in Italy, where Shelley Winters (married to co-star Vittorio Gassman at the time) has the hots for Silvana Mangano, who dances up a storm. Shelley runs into a truck .... Directed by Robert Rossen for Ponti/De Laurentiis.

SYLVIA - Carroll Baker is the poetess investigated in this 1965 hoot by George Maharis for sleazy Peter Lawford, cue lots of cameos by Viveca Lindfors, Joanne Dru, Edmond O'Brien, Aldo Ray and a scary drag queen. Another Joe Levine classic.

LOVE HAS MANY FACES - the best of the Lana melodramas? Lana is glazed in Acaculpo, in 1966, with beach boy gigolos including Hugh O'Brien in speedos, while Ruth Roman pays for what she wants ..... the back-projected bull at the climax is a scream. We love 1960's PORTRAIT IN BLACK too of course.

A HOUSE IS NOT A HOME - Shelley Winters again in this '64 sudser about a famous madam in 20s New York - the gals lounge around in evening dresses and make prostitution look easy

THE REVOLT OF MAMIE STOVER - Jane Russell, sensational, is the hard-boiled 'nightclub hostess' (think Donna Reed in FROM HERE TO ETERNITY) buying up wartime Hawaii, while Agnes Moorehead is the even more hard-boiled blonde madam running that cat house ..... 1956 treat from Fox.

GO NAKED IN THE WORLD - Gina Lollobrigida is another high-living working girl, who also pays the price, in this 1960 expose - but Liz's BUTTERFIELD 8 got all the kudos.

THE PRODIGAL - the most hilarious of the biblicals, this 1955 one has Lana in the barely there outfits as the pagan priestess tormenting Edmund Purdom, who wrestles with a stuffed vulture, Lana takes a tumble when the slaves revolt ....

THE SINGING NUN - MGM must have thought another nun film would clean up in 1966 after Julie's success - this though is hilariously awful as Sister Debbie Reynolds plays her guitar and gives up wordly success to look after babies in Africa - see it and hoot.

WHERE LOVE HAS GONE - enjoyable tosh with Susan and Bette snarling at each other in 1964, camp probably doesn't get much better than this, with horrible fashions, no period detail and wooden male leads.

VALLEY OF THE DOLLS - this knows it is trash and all the better for it, THE trash classic? those girls Barbara Parkins, Patty Duke as Neely O'Hara, Sharon Tate, and Susan's Helen Lawson and that catfight in the ladies room ...... we cherish every awful wonderful moment.

A QUIET PLACE IN THE COUNTRY - as I say in my review (Trash label) "any film that begins with Franco Nero in his underwear tied to a chair while Vanessa Redgrave removes her panties and begins to chew his nipples can't be all bad ...." this 1968 arty euro-drek by respected Elio Petri is well worth a look. Franco and Vanessa are married now, I wonder if they look back at this and wonder at what they did for money in those crazy late 60s days ...

THE LOVE MACHINE - maybe the one I love to hate the most - this 1971 flick is an absolute scream: John Philip Law as the hollow heel, David Hemmings camping it up as the gay photographer (sending up BLOW-UP perhaps), Dyan Cannon yelling "fag" at everyone - more lurid trash from Jacqueline Suzann.

Of course there are also more 'guilty pleasures' I love like those Troy Donahue movies, WALK ON THE WILD SIDE and THE CARPETBAGGERS - movies which know and wallow in their trashiness, and those delirious sudsers like Anouk's JUSTINE and Susan Hayward's STOLEN HOURSADABACK STREETI THANK A FOOL, and Romy's awful MY LOVER MY SON, and Burton's terrible BLUEBEARD, a howler from 1972 ... and 1959's sleazy NIGHT OF THE QUARTER MOON where Julie London has to prove in court that she is not a 'quadroon'. ....

and the two I despise: THE OSCAR and the Carroll Baker HARLOW. For me there is nothing to enjoy in these, they are made with such contempt for the audience, and the would-be sleaze is laughable. 
Then there is Keir Dullea as DE SADE a psychedelic sleazefest from A.I. in 1969 - luckily Lilli Palmer, Senta Berger and Anna Massey (as Senta's plainer sister De Sade has to marry...) are on hand. (The A.I. Christopher Jones films WILD IN THE STREETS and THREE IN THE ATTIC are genuine cult classics though, as per my reviews).
And a special word for the fabulous trash of THE FEMALE ANIMAL in 1957 where fading stars Hedy Lamarr and Jan Sterling battle over wooden hunk George Nader. George also pops up, as does the young John Gavin, in Universal's 1957 FOUR GIRLS IN TOWN, a delicious Hollywood saga (which I vaguely remember seeing as a kid) where 4 starlets are up for a great new role, they include Julia Adams, Gia Scala and Elsa Martinelli, also starring in '60s campfests MAROC 7 and THE TENTH VICTIM, another sizzler from Elio Petri.
Diana Dors (glowing in the dark) lights up the screen too in 1957's lurid thriller by John Farrow (Mia's dad) THE UNHOLY WIFE, Diana's first foray in Hollywood, with Rod Steiger. Read the full review at Dors label. 
I will have to return to 1967's THE DAY THE FISH CAME OUT, possibly the most bizarre film of the era, from Michael Cacoyannis (after his hit ZORBA THE GREEK) where a radium bomb is on an army plane crashed near that Greek island, pilots Tom Courtenay and Colin Blakely spend the film in their underwear, as Candice Bergen and the beautiful people endlessly party, as the locals plan to make it a new Mykonos for the gay crowd, then the fish start dying ... and the army move in. Candice was also in the film of John Fowles' THE MAGUS, another Greek disaster - I couldn't bring myself to see it. 
We also can't forget Elizabeth Taylor's two for arty Joseph Losey: BOOM! and SECRET CEREMONY - of course these are 'misunderstood cult classics' now. (Liz, Burton and Losey were not happy about them when I saw them discussing them on stage in London in 1970).
MGM's take on beatniks THE SUBTERRANEANS, from Jack Kerouac, in 1960 isn't even amusingly awful enough to be camp, its just painfully bad, Caron and Peppard as the 'new bohemians' deserved better. Caron's role was black in the book but is, er, French here - maybe that was exotic enough back then!

Check out reviews on these and enjoy at Trash or labels on any of the above: Lana, Shelley, Susan, Debbie, Gina, Silvana, Vanessa, Franco, Anouk, Ruth, Elizabeth, Jan, Jean Sorel, Carroll Baker etc.

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