Friday, December 05, 2008

Camera Obscura: Jazz Movies and Other Ultra-Cool Picks

I continue to emphasize a wee corner of cable TV called TCM Underground and tonight (well, it starts at 2 a.m.) they provide another great selection, starting with the seldom seen "All Night Long", an early 1960s ultra-cool jazz version of Shakespeare's Othello.

Charles Mingus, Dave Brubeck and other jazz legends are captured in performance in this film, which stars a pre-"Prisoner" Patrick McGoohan as a drummer who schemes to break up one of the couples attending an all night swinging and groovy party of hep-cats and dope heads. And all thru the night, incredible performances get laid down, like this one from Brubeck:

God bless Turner Classic Movies for airing films like this.

The second half of their Underground double feature is "The Knack and How To Get It," a Richard Lester film from the mid-1960s which was rather scandalous in it's day with all the talk of how to have sex with as many women as possible. Today, it seems rather tame, but has many of the stylistic touches Lester was soon famous for - jump cuts and camera tricks and more. But there is more nostalgia than scandal here. All in all, it makes the swinging 60s sort of boring and boorish.

But do not miss "All Night Long" - it's a fascinating peek at a time when folks at a 'wild party' wore suits and tuxedos and drank martinis without fru-fru additions of apple or chocolate flavor. They would smack you just for asking for such a thing.


I also continue to be impressed with all things found at Cinebeats. This week she offers a Vampire Film Alphabet. Here's just a sample:

M. Martin (George Romero; 1977)
N. Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht (Werner Herzog; 1979)
O. Omega Man, The (Boris Sagal; 1971)
P. Planet of the Vampires (Mario Bava; 1965)

And her collection of movie posters on Flickr is a true thing of beauty and it makes me burn with envy. There is no better blog of 60s and 70s cinema.



News this week that efforts are underway for more remakes, from the old Errol Flynn action movie "Captain Blood", a prequel to "Planet of the Apes" called "Caesar", but will not include any talking apes .... whaaa?

And the creator of the Babylon 5 TV series says producers are ready to bankroll his "re-imagining" of "Forbidden Planet":

To that end, he's researching astrophysics, A.I., and planetary geology to create a scientifically accurate Krell backstory -- none of which will be stylishly retro. "At the time it was made it was cutting edge ...People that went to see that film saw things they had never seen before. What we have to do now is have this one be as innovative now as the original was then."

Newscoma pointed me to another remake on the way, this one of John Carpenter's sci-fi satire of alien invasion called "They Live". The original is a perfect little movie -- made during the waning days of the Reagan era, Roddy Piper plays an out-of-work fellow who finds himself struggling for survival among a group of homeless folks and stumbles onto efforts to unmask a vast conspiracy of aliens who have taken over the planet.

This group, he learns, is devising ways to short-circuit the mind-numbing technology the aliens are employing and Piper soon sees the world as it really is, as this clip shows:

And it has one of my favorite movie lines, when Piper confronts the aliens with a shotgun and says "I'm here to chew bubblegum and kick ass and I'm all out of bubblegum."


  1. Anonymous8:38 PM

    Thanks for the kind words about Cinebeats! I'm glad you get so much enjoyment from my site.

    I also wanted to mention that I caught All Night Long playing on TCM last night and what a terrific movie! Unfortunately I didn't get the opportunity to record it or I would have so I could have reviewed it later, but I really enjoyed watching it. The jazz numbers were just fantastic and Patrick McGoohan was his usual super cool self. I really hope they play it again.

  2. thanks, Cinebeats! your reading here adds massive cool points for this humble yet lovable blog.