Category Archives: VINTAGE MOVIES

Vintage Movies: “Saving Private Ryan”

MAGNET contributing writer Jud Cost is sharing some of the wealth of classic films he’s been lucky enough to see over the past 40 years. Trolling the backwaters of cinema, he has worked up a list of more than 500 titles—from the silent era through the ’00s—that you may have missed. A new selection, all currently available on DVD, appears every week.

Saving

Saving Private Ryan (1998, 169 minutes)

If the sheer terror of the climactic scene in Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper—a mulligatawny-thick desert sandstorm making it impossible to tell who’s shooting whom—had you digging your fingernails into your chair’s armrests, you might want to revisit Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan for some historical perspective. Different conflict (World War II), less sophisticated weaponry (nobody’s making rifle kill-shots from a mile away)—but it’s every bit as horrifying.

Not for the squeamish, the half-hour long opening sequence of Private Ryan, detailing the U.S. part of the invasion of Normandy by the allied forces in June of 1944, may be as close as you’ll get to the overpowering fear engendered by the original event. Hundreds of bodies with limbs or heads blown off float aimlessly like bags of straw in the lapping waters as more and more troops slog ashore desperately trying to dodge the fusillade of shells from German machine-gun nests entrenched on cement barricades built into the rocky area above the beach.

“They’ll shoot at any five men together! One man alone isn’t worth the ammo!” bellows an officer as the front gates of the LST landing craft spring open and the men in front are cut to pieces before they can even stand. Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks in his best screen performance ever) drags one of his injured boys about five steps up the beach before looking back and realizing it’s only half of the soldier. One man takes a direct hit to the steel helmet on this head. He removes it briefly to admire the dent and is drilled by a second round in the middle of his forehead. Miller hollers for the bangalores to be brought forward. The thin tubes that propel incendiary grenades at the enemy are just the ticket for finally flash-frying the machine gun outposts. Others are likewise soon blown to kingdom come.

In the aftermath of all five of the Sullivan brothers from Waterloo, Iowa, perishing after the sinking of the cruiser USS Juneau by the Japanese in 1942, the armed forces have made a sincere effort to see that this should never again happen to one family. Since three of the Ryan brothers have just died during the invasion at Omaha Beach on D-Day, General George C. Marshall is determined to find the fourth brother, a paratrooper who’s landed behind enemy lines in France and is now missing, and send him home immediately.

A hand-picked group of eight elite American Ranger survivors, led by Captain Miller, are directed to venture deep behind German lines, and somehow locate PFC James Ryan (Matt Damon) and bring him back home. After the pure butchery of the 24 hours spent landing on Omaha beach, finding this kid ought to be a snap, reckons the battle-tested outfit. It isn’t.

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Vintage Movies: “Privilege”

MAGNET contributing writer Jud Cost is sharing some of the wealth of classic films he’s been lucky enough to see over the past 40 years. Trolling the backwaters of cinema, he has worked up a list of more than 500 titles—from the silent era through the ’00s—that you may have missed. A new selection, all currently available on DVD, appears every week.

Privilege

Privilege (1967, 103 minutes)

Peter Watkins’ Privilege hit the jackpot casting Paul Jones as Steven Shorter, an idolized pop singer from the near future whose every move is carefully scripted by the British government and the Church of England in order to mold the country’s youth into an easily controlled entity. In the early ’60s, Jones actually turned down Keith Richards and Brian Jones when they asked him to be the front-man of their start-up rock group. They would eventually land Mick Jagger. Paul Jones joined Manfred Mann, instead, just in time for the British Invasion, although acting was always his first love.

Four years after Privilege was released, A Clockwork Orange (a film dusted with similar sociological engineering) featured another pin-up boy, Malcolm McDowell, dragging the teen-idol concept into a lawlessly sociopathic future.

After an early period when Steven’s stage show consists of the singer being manacled, beaten and caged by the police, his bleeding body worshipped by screaming young girls everywhere, the board of directors who manipulate his every move decide it’s time for a new direction: total conformity.

As Steven gazes out from the rooftop balcony of a London office toward a sprawling block of high-rise council housing, one of his handlers whispers hypnotically into his ear. “There are millions of little people down there, Steven. We must be quite clear in our minds about one thing: that the old liberal idea that given enough education these people will grow into self-aware, creative human beings is nothing but an exploded myth. It can never happen. They are stunted little creatures with primitive emotions that are dangerous. They’ve got to be harnessed, guided. We’ve seen this happen over and over again for an evil purpose: Germany, Russia, China. You’re our champion, Steven. They identify with you. They love you. You can lead them into a better way of life, a fruitful conformity.”

Steven needs this periodic reaffirmation of the grand scheme. Being its linchpin is beginning to weigh heavily upon him. Dining one morning in the lush garden of the country home of Andrew Butler, Steven, instead of eating, nervously whittles away with a table knife at the hard crust on his bread. “Steven, may I say how delighted we all are to have you with us today,” says Andrew (William Job). “Everybody at this table will join me in wishing you every success for tomorrow night,” he adds, toasting Steven’s new-direction concert with a glass of Chablis. “I-I think I’d prefer hot chocolate, instead,” murmurs Steven nervously, an unheard of deviation from the norm. “You’d prefer what, Steven?” asks Andrew. “I’d like some hot chocolate. You’d like some too, wouldn’t you?” Steven asks the woman seated next to him. “Well … OK … yes,” she says, not daring to choose otherwise. Andrew quietly says to the butler, “Hot chocolate for everyone, please, William.”

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Movies Of Today: “The Water Diviner”

WaterDiviner

Whether he’s ducking friendly fire from the LAPD in a rundown motel in L.A. Confidential, fighting for his life with a short sword and a shield in Gladiator or creaming three Greek soldiers with a cricket bat in current post-World War I epic The Water Diviner, Russell Crowe hardly ever loses his cool. It’s his ace in the hole as one of the finest actors of our time, this ability to keep his head when everyone around him is going ballistic. Crowe’s understated work here is reminiscent of the most heroic moments of John Wayne (True GritRio Bravo).

A few years after the end of WW I, the wife of Joshua Connor, overcome with grief by the loss of her three sons at the battle of Gallipoli in 1915, drowns herself in a pond. Connor (Crowe) swears he will bring the bodies of his boys back home and bury them beside their mother. The Aussie farmer possesses an uncanny ability to find water in the wilderness, a knack that will soon come in handy.

After arriving in Turkey, Connor meets Ayshe (Olga Kurylenkov), the proprietor of his Istanbul hotel, whose husband has also died at Gallipoli at the hands of the ANZAC troops. And he encounters Major Hasan (Yilmaz Erdogan), whose Turkish forces were responsible for taking the lives of Connor’s boys. Now working to identify the remains of the Gallipoli campaign, Hasan becomes an unlikely ally in Connor’s mission.

Crowe’s excellent directorial debut is an effective portrayal of the grisly side of what was once known as “the war to end all wars.” And, much like Saving Private Ryan, a World War later, it is highlighted by one man’s attempt to complete a Herculean task that seems well nigh impossible.

—Jud Cost

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Vintage Movies: “Los Angeles Plays Itself”

MAGNET contributing writer Jud Cost is sharing some of the wealth of classic films he’s been lucky enough to see over the past 40 years. Trolling the backwaters of cinema, he has worked up a list of more than 500 titles—from the silent era through the ’00s—that you may have missed. A new selection, all currently available on DVD, appears every week.

LA

Los Angeles Plays Itself (2003, 169 minutes)

As the garish image of a ’40s strip club flickers across the screen,” Encke King, the deadpan narrator of this fascinating documentary, intones in a no-nonsense delivery, “Los Angeles is where reality and representation get muddled.” And it’s off to the races with one short shot after another that gets straight to the central nervous system of the City of Angels as well as any Beverly Hills neurosurgeon. Most of this is existing footage with some of it shot expressly for the project. The result is a wall-to-wall mindbender.

“A real movie shoot can create a better public spectacle than the fake movie studio tours,” says King as a city bus is hoisted by an industrial-sized crane and attached to the bottom of a large helicopter, a la the statue of Jesus flown through the Roman skies in La Dolce Vita. The images must speak for themselves as they come at you like logs rapidly floating downstream to a Canadian sawmill. Take them as they arrive as little explanation is given. “A place can become a historical landmark because it was once a movie location.” A sign explains that a Jackie Chan movie was once filmed there. The Ambassador Hotel has apparently been preserved as a film locale because it was the place where Robert Kennedy was assassinated by Sirhan Sirhan in 1968.

Many L.A. locales are named after Hollywood celebrities, such as Bob Hope Dr. and a park called the Bette Davis Picnic Area. And a small bust exists near the Griffith Park Observatory, commemorating the site where James Dean once challenged a fellow high school student to a “chickie run” in Rebel Without A Cause.

Then there are the steep concrete steps covering at least four stories up a hill in Silver Lake, a Los Angeles suburb. They are now named “The Music Box Steps” after the 1932 short where Oliver Hardy is chased all the way to the street below by a runaway crate with a piano inside.

“Los Angeles may be one of the most photographed cities in the world, but it’s one of the least photogenic. It’s not Paris or New York.” A razor-sharp image appears from The French Connection of three four-story walk-ups across the street, framed by a rubble-strewn empty lot in the foreground and two gutted brick warehouses on either side. “In New York everything seems sharp and in-focus. In smoggy cities like Los Angeles everything dissolves into the distance. Even close-up stuff seems far away.” A smeared image from To Live And Die in L.A. looks like it could be washed away with soap and water. At first glance this may seem to be a hatchet job on old L.A. Instead it’s a passionate love story that makes you see the old girl in a new light.

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Movie Review: “Kingsman: The Secret Service”

As a public service, MAGNET occasionally feels obligated to issue a “crap alert” to warn citizens of a recent movie that might prove dangerous to their mental health. Consider this an ongoing form of vaccination to prevent a potentially hazardous film-going experience.

Kingsman

The measured pace of the first 15 minutes of Kingsman: The Secret Service might lead you to hope this might be an updated James Bond in the making. Its excellent cast includes Colin Firth as Harry Hart, the Kingsman agent who takes an interest in the son of a fellow spy who is killed in action. The shtick, a real groaner here, is that each agent assumes the code name of a knight of the round table with Hart as Galahad. Michael Caine grinds out a few minutes as Arthur, Kingsman’s CEO, and Mark Strong is Merlin, second in command. The early tip-off to the foul odor that will completely engulf this two-hour stinker (and those who sit through it) long before the credits roll is the appearance of the son of Hart’s fallen comrade. Gary “Eggsy” Unwin is played by Taron Egerton, a pretty boy who looks something like a pudgy Channing Tatum and spouts a clumsy British working-class accent that betrays the fact Egerton hasn’t a shred of acting talent. He couldn’t play a lamp post if they screwed lightbulbs into both ears. By comparison, Channing Tatum is Laurence Olivier. If they awarded platinum ingots for totally miscasting a usually excellent player, Samuel L. Jackson, as Richmond Valentine, the most pleasant “bad guy” in recent memory, would leave Donald Trump with nothing to wear but a wooden pickle barrel with two shoulder straps. Kingsman reaches its putrescent apex with 50 minutes left to tick off while peeking at your watch, when an entire church full of bigoted Kentucky rednecks is massacred, one by one, by Hart. Apparently, the Brits still haven’t caught on that the greatness of America lies not in the murder of those with repulsive points of view, but in its legal protection of such mean-spirited speech. Which goes to show why even lumpy gruel like Kingsman: The Secret Service can be found in American cinemas everywhere.

—Jud Cost

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Vintage Movies: “Fay Grim”

MAGNET contributing writer Jud Cost is sharing some of the wealth of classic films he’s been lucky enough to see over the past 40 years. Trolling the backwaters of cinema, he has worked up a list of more than 500 titles—from the silent era through the ’00s—that you may have missed. A new selection, all currently available on DVD, appears every week.

FayGrim

Fay Grim (2006, 118 minutes)

Time marches on for the Grim/Fool clan in Fay Grim, the second installment of this sharp Hal Hartley trilogy, shot nine years after the opening volley, Henry Fool. The tone of the work hasn’t changed. It’s not ultra-realism or even pseudo-realism—more like some other, slightly uncomfortable, pressed off center realism. The only work that even comes close is Spike Jonze’s Being John Malkovich.

Henry Fool is presumed by the law to be on the lam in Europe, seven years after being smuggled out of the country with a fake passport, cooked up by his brother-in-law, Simon Grim, now serving time for aiding a wanted criminal. What Henry, who’s been incarcerated for being caught in flagrante delicto with a 13-year-old girl, is wanted for, this time around, is never made quite clear. Henry’s wife Fay (Parker Posey), is raising their son Ned, now 14, and there are problems. “Ned brought this pornographic device to school today and was caught showing it to other children,” says the boy’s principal to Fay. Ned shows his mother how to operate the Edwardian-era peep show device, something that wouldn’t cause a ripple in today’s sludge-choked river of bad taste.

Of course, there are also more serious charges leveled against the boy. Ned was recently caught getting a blowjob from two 16-year-old female classmates. Fay, whose hair style this time around is more flattering than the matted haystack she sported in the previous film, is being harassed by CIA agent Fullbright (Jeff Goldblum). Who knows why the Feds are after Henry, unless it’s become a federal offense to be a mediocre poet caught impersonating his brother-in-law, Simon, hailed the world round as a Nobel laureate, albeit in jail.

During visiting hours with her brother, Fay pleads with him, “Simon, you’ve gotta get outta jail! I can’t handle all this on my own. Ned needs a father figure, or something.” Simon (James Urbaniak) replies, “What do you want me to do, escape?” She tries to explain, her words bumping into one another. “You might be eligible for early parole on account of your good behavior.” “I won’t be eligible for that until a couple more years,” he says, breathing deeply.

“I can’t wait that long,” Fay groans. “They’ll send Ned to reform school. And he’ll be in prison before he’s old enough to get a driver’s license.” Simon shakes his head in resignation. “Look, if you need anything at all, just ask Angus.” Ned (Liam Aiken), who’s been sitting quietly all this time, pipes up: “She’s got a date with him. He’s taking her to the theater and supper afterwards. He calls her all the time.” Fay faces the boy and hisses, “Evaporate!” Veins deepen on Simon’s forehead as he asks, “You’re dating my publisher?” She snaps back, “You got a problem with that?!”

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Vintage Movies: “Henry Fool”

MAGNET contributing writer Jud Cost is sharing some of the wealth of classic films he’s been lucky enough to see over the past 40 years. Trolling the backwaters of cinema, he has worked up a list of more than 500 titles—from the silent era through the ’90s—that you may have missed. A new selection, all currently available on DVD, appears every week.

HenryFool

Henry Fool (1997, 138 minutes)

Fair Warning Department: The final film in Hal Hartley’s groundbreaking black-comedy trilogy that began with 1997’s Henry Fool and continued with Fay Grim in 2007 is about to reach critical mass with the April release of Ned Rifle. Those who want to catch up, or take a quick refresher course, have a couple of weeks to get it together. That’s about as much time as I had to plough through the first 50-plus episodes of Breaking Bad before the final eight chapters were telecast about two years ago.

After the morning truck full of recyclable garbage is unloaded, Simon Grim (James Urbaniak), dressed in a grimy, dark grey jumpsuit, punches the time clock and drinks a beer, all alone, for lunch. The stern-faced young man in the Buddy Holly glasses who looks as though he’s never laughed in his life, is shocked to see a young couple having sex right in front of him in one of the below-street level windows that surround the place where he works. The girl screams when she sees Simon, and the guy runs after him prepaired to beat his brains into pulp.

Safe at home back in Queens, Simon senses something big may be headed his way and puts his ear close to the pavement. Marching up the street as bold as Custer just before Little Big Horn, Henry Fool (Thomas Jay Ryan), in a three-piece suit, stops before the sign that reads “Basement Apartment For Rent” and struts right inside to have a good look around. He cranks up the gas furnace and turns to Simon, who’s followed him in. “Where do you have to go to get a six-pack of beer around here?” he asks, tossing the kid a crumpled bill.

Simon grabs a six pack of Bud from the cooler of the local convenience market as the two love-birds he’d interrupted earlier smirk at one another. She drops her panties then bends over and says, “Kiss my ass!” to Simon, while her partner heads off any possible escape. He grabs Simon’s head and yanks it toward his girlfriend’s bottom. The mute Asian lady behind the counter pushes the police alarm button, which triggers Simon to vomit all the clotted, spoiled milk he’d accidentally drunk for breakfast all over the girl’s rear end.

Back in the dingy basement apartment, Henry Fool carefully loads his books into a bookcase as Simon turns over the name tag on his suitcase. “Centuries ago, it had an ‘e’ on the end,” Fool remarks of his odd surname. “Where do you come from?” asks Simon. “Nowhere in particular,” replies Fool. “I go where I will, and I do what I can. That’s why I’m in trouble. I’m what you might call an exile. An honest man is always in trouble, Simon. Remember that.”

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Vintage Movies: “Kill Or Cure”

MAGNET contributing writer Jud Cost is sharing some of the wealth of classic films he’s been lucky enough to see over the past 40 years. Trolling the backwaters of cinema, he has worked up a list of more than 500 titles—from the silent era through the ’90s—that you may have missed. A new selection, all currently available on DVD, appears every week.

KillOrCure

Kill Or Cure (1962, 98 minutes)

Gap-toothed, British comic genius Terry-Thomas plays himself, once again, in Kill Or Cure, a moderately funny, but none the less enjoyable, work from 1962, recently unearthed from the archives of its American distributor, MGM. And why not? Fifty years ago, he was the best thing going in a well stocked British comic pantry that also included Peter Sellers, Alec Guinness, Alastair Sim and Ian Carmichael. All Terry-Thomas had to do was look down his nose, past his time-worn RAF mustache, and snidely declare, “You’re an absolute shower!” at some poor sod, and he’d done the business.

He plays hare-brained private eye Capt. J. Barker-Rynde here, hired for some bloody reason to investigate a murder at a summer holiday retreat hotel nestled somewhere in the idyllic English countryside. Barker-Rynde’s photography shop in town has a posh-looking, high-street facade whose window advertises, “Weddings A Specialty.” The less conspicuous window of the second-floor office above offers the services of Barker-Rynde, Private Detective and adds a single line beneath: “Divorce A Specialty.”

Whether he’s spying on some shapely girl’s second-story bedroom while perched high atop his collapsible, pocket-sized ladder, or selecting his stiffest cosh from a rattling, heavy bag of detective tools, Barker-Rynde is TT at his “chocolate teapot” best. There will be many bandages applied by the hotel’s medical staff to the shiny noggin of Detective Inspector Hook (Lionel Jeffries) before Barker-Rynde falls asleep again. After a quick assessment of the evidence at the hotel, Hook offers his verdict on the nature of the crime at hand. “Murder, sir,” he states to Dr. Julian Crossley (Dennis Price), the hotel’s owner. “According to our lab reports, there was some sort of poison called Ricin in the lady’s tin of carrot juice.”

As the tale unfolds, Barker-Rynde will acquire a bumbling “Watson” in his crime-solving slight of hand in the person of Rumbelow (Eric Sykes) who’s employed as the hostelry’s physical-training director. The pair decides to throw in together soon after they are caught red-handed, dressed like second-story men in dark hoods and trousers, independently sneaking around the cabin of the young lady who has somehow recovered from the work of the poisoner.

She has easily got the drop on both and is pointing a small pistol in their direction and saying, “Point straight and shoot.” Rumbelow nervously squawks, “This man is a paid assassin!” jabbing a finger toward Barker-Rynde. “Don’t be so ridiculous!” expostulates Barker-Rynde. “I’m a fully paid-up member of the Detectives Association.” He shows them both his membership card, then, flush with victory, accuses Rumbelow of the same foul crime. “Do you deny the deceased appears in your physical therapy files with the most curious notation ‘AV2′ added to it? Some deadly poison, no doubt.” Rumbelow smiles broadly and declares, “No, no, no! AV2! Apple vinegar, two squirts.”

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Vintage Movies: “Monterey Pop”

MAGNET contributing writer Jud Cost is sharing some of the wealth of classic films he’s been lucky enough to see over the past 40 years. Trolling the backwaters of cinema, he has worked up a list of more than 500 titles—from the silent era through the ’90s—that you may have missed. A new selection, all currently available on DVD, appears every week.

Monterey

Monterey Pop (1968, 79 minutes)

There’s no better example of a musical golden age quickly falling into a period of wretched excess in the 20th century than to view a pair of documentaries, Monterey Pop and Woodstock, back to back. Both are flush with high-octane performances by the biggest pop stars of the late ’60s, with even a few overlapping artists. And that’s where the similarities end.

Woodstock, from the summer of ’69, appears to be a sprawling, barely controlled mess held out in the country, attended/invaded by well more than a million of the great unwashed. Once the gates were trampled down and it became “a free event,” it was anybody’s guess. And let’s not even mention the sanitary facilities that should have been in place for this mighty horde.

Monterey Pop, on the other hand, was a civilized, sit-down concert at the Monterey Fairgrounds, created by John Phillips of the Mamas & The Papas with a cross-section of talent that included soulful belter Otis Redding, folk-rockers Simon & Garfunkel and sitar legend Ravi Shankar. There were also debut U.S. performances by the Jimi Hendrix Experience and the Who, alongside hip young California bands such as Jefferson Airplane, the Mamas & The Papas, Country Joe & The Fish, Canned Heat and Janis Joplin fronting Big Brother & The Holding Company. Many top-notch acts didn’t even make the film’s final cut: Buffalo Springfield, the Byrds, Johnny Rivers, Moby Grape, the Grateful Dead.

More to the point, the real stars of this movie are its attendees, shot for long stretches by D.A. Pennebaker. No better testament to the “Summer Of Love” vibe exists than the fresh faces, long hair and hip costumes caught here in June of ’67. Monterey Pop also captures the extremes of weather at the fairgrounds, as anyone who’s attended the on-going Monterey Jazz Festival can well testify. It’s shirt-sleeves, cut-offs and sunglasses weather during the daytime performances, but at night, it can turn as frigid as Candlestick Park in August with parkas and snow-ride blankets well advised.

So many little moments from this film stick in your mind for years: David Crosby of the Byrds remarking onstage, “Oh groovy! A nice sound system, at last”; Mama Cass, with no mean set of pipes, herself, clearly mouthing, “Wow!” after Joplin’s performance; the camera making it appear Airplane chanteuse Grace Slick is singing “Today” when the vocals are clearly those of Marty Balin; festival organizers sharing a laugh with Monterey’s Police Deptartment; Joplin doing a little skip of joy as she leaves the stage in her sharp Alvin Duskin pants suit; S.F. Chronicle music columnist Ralph J. Gleason wearing his trademark deer-stalker’s cap; a young girl explaining a “love-in” to a cameraman; and John Phillips trying to reach Dionne Warwick and being given the bum’s-rush by her people.

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Vintage Movies: “Smashing Time”

MAGNET contributing writer Jud Cost is sharing some of the wealth of classic films he’s been lucky enough to see over the past 40 years. Trolling the backwaters of cinema, he has worked up a list of more than 500 titles—from the silent era through the ’90s—that you may have missed. A new selection, all currently available on DVD, appears every week.

SmashingTime

Smashing Time (1967, 96 minutes)

All right then, who else do you know who would heartily recommend a British comedy that isn’t really all that funny? The casting folks must have thought they’d scored a major coup for Smashing Time by landing both Lynne Redgrave (who starred in Georgy Girl in 1966) and Rita Tushingham (who won BAFTA’s best actress for 1961’s A Taste Of Honey). Both women got raves in Girl With Green Eyes in 1964. Trouble is, those previous kudos were earned for their work in films with at least a modicum of sensitivity. None of that happening here.

When the two chicks arrive in London, gaudily dolled up in what they believe to be hip threads, they begin their search for Carnaby Street to get jobs as fashion models. But they decide to count their money before buying breakfast. Brenda (Tushingham) immediately falls into a mud puddle. As financial manager, she fishes from her purse the 23 pounds that took the girls months to save. While she doles out a small sum to Yvonne (Redgrave), the rest of their cash is knicked from her purse by a wandering hobo. Then Brenda falls in a mud puddle for the second time. Hmmm.

Leaving her chum to pay for their meal, Yvonne swans off to begin her life as a runway pro and to find them a hip flat to rent on Carnaby Street. With no cash, Brenda is left to wash towering stacks of dirty dishes in a particularly foul high-street cafe. That’s when the fun really begins, some might think. A disgusting, no-dialogue food fight ensues between customers and the cafe’s staff using large squeeze bottles of everything from super-bubbly dish soap and artist’s dayglo paint to ketchup, mustard and liquid horse manure meant for the home garden. Everyone gets as filthy as if they’d been working at the local sewage treatment center.

So what’s the matter? You’re not laughing, I can sense it. You see, you can’t really judge this movie by its sorry attempts at slapstick. It falls flat at a genre best left to those who knew how to pull it off: Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, Charlie Chaplin, Laurel & Hardy.

Smashing Time‘s trump card lies in the fact it was shot in 1966-67, right at the same time the Swinging London/Carnaby Street phenomenon was really happening. All the kooky art galleries, old-school pubs and trendy boutiques you see on location here are the real deal. The splendid mod clothing, swell parties and the raving, high-octane sounds spilling from smoky, uncomfortably small night clubs are exactly what they seem to be. They’re not some set decorator’s attempt at recreating an era never experienced first-hand. You might even look at this as a documentary of a long-gone time that will never come again—because that’s what it is.

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