Westerns, reporters, black buddy comedies and Sailor Moon: movies and TV (#SFWApro

TUMBLIN’ TUMBLEWEEDS (1935) was one of Gene Autry’s earliest Westerns, set in what film historians call the Modern West — modern clothes and record players exist alongside range wars and patent medicine shows. The story has Gene return to his home years after a range war drove him away (he’s now an established singing star), only to discover that his best friend has apparently murdered Gene’s father. While I’m not a Western fan, this was surprisingly fun, as is Autry’s singing. “It won’t hurt him any—but maybe we’d better get the iodine.”

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Directed by Fritz Lang, WHILE THE CITY SLEEPS (1956) takes a classic plotline — reporter hunts down a killer — and twists it superbly. Media mogul Vincent Price announces a major promotion will go to the man who does the best work covering the hunt for the “Lipstick Killer” (John Barrymore Jr.), which puts editor Thomas Mitchell, wire-services editor George Sanders and reporter Dana Andrews competing as much from self-interest as public-spiritedness. All of them ultimately rely on manipulating women for their ends, including reporter Ida Lupino, Price’s wife Rhonda Fleming and Andrews’ girlfriend Sally Forrest. The result is an excellent, noirish crime drama, though it’s now amusing how much Barrymore embodies the concerns of the era, both pop Freudianism (he hates his smothering mother!) and crime comics (they taught him everything he needs to know to kill and get away with it!). All rights to the poster with current holder “He’s mocking the police by leaving clues—but no fingerprints.”

UPTOWN SATURDAY NIGHT (1974) was the first of three Sidney Poitier/Bill Cosby buddy comedies (original plans were for Redd Foxx and Richard Pryor in the role) as two working class stiffs who step out at a fancy club for the night, get robbed and discover that Poitier’s stolen wallet contained a $50,000 lottery ticket (and that was a lot more money then than it is today). Recovering the ticket requires journeying into the black underworld of LA where they encounter tough guy Harold Nicholas (of the legendary dance team the Nicholas Brothers), black Godfather-parody Harry Belafonte, self-serving congressman Roscoe Lee Browneand PI Richard Pryor who comes off as a blacksploitation parody (“All that stuff about black PIs shooting the white Mafia boss down, it’s bullshit.”) A fun romp; Rosalind Cash is Mrs. Poitier, Flip Wilson is a preacher. “You’re problems are my problems—and your problems are the problems of black America!”

SAILOR MOON R was the second season of Sailor Moon, starting off with an arc in which Usagi and the Sailor Scouts recover their memories and reunite, then deal with two alien teens plotting to drain Earth of its energy. Then we get the main event: a time-traveling child from the future comes to present-day Tokyo on a mysterious mission (this, of course, will end up in Now and Then We Time Travel), pursued by malevolent agents of the Black Moon Clan, plotting to alter history so that they can triumph over Earth in the future. Along with the usual monster-of-the-week, this has lots of twists, turns and revelations about the characters’ futures. Shows why this was such a huge hit. “Ever since we met a certain someone, we’ve all become kind of dumb.”

 

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1 Comment

Filed under Movies, Now and Then We Time Travel, TV

One response to “Westerns, reporters, black buddy comedies and Sailor Moon: movies and TV (#SFWApro

  1. Pingback: From the Civil War to Jimmy Olsen, books read (#SFWApro) | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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