Star Odyssey: Ludicrous 1978 Italian Star Wars Rip-Off


Hopefully, you have never seen ‘Star Odyssey,’ also known as ‘the Italian Star Wars.’

Now is your chance! It’s a full immersion into cinema of the ludicrous. For your convenience, it’s dubbed into English. Beware though, you will never look at science fiction the same way again after subjecting yourself to this assault.


One can only hope that at least the actors might have had some fun making this, but unfortunately most of them appear to be thinking about the food truck instead of their lines.

Its awful history goes back to 1978, barely a year after the real Star Wars was released. Its unforgivable direction is credited to one Alfonso Brescia, heaven rest his soul.

The primary achievements of this interstellar fiasco appear to be robots constructed from trash cans and light sabers fashioned out of painted plywood.

Enjoy this Italian treat in the comfort of a nice quiet insane asylum.

Cinderella: Fantastic 1947 Soviet Union Feature Film


Filmed in the Soviet Union just after World War II, this is a rare gem of fairytale movie making. It’s a fantastically colorful telling of the tale that stands as a welcome contrast to the Disney approach. The film features one of Russia’s greatest stage actresses, Faina Ranevskaya, as the stepmother. It was produced by the Soviet LenFilm studio and directed by Mikhail Shapiro and Nadezhda Kosheverova. I think it was originally filmed in black & white but was recently colorized for a DVD release. The colorization works well within the context of a fairytale with grand stage scenery and theatrical costumes.



Robinson Crusoe: 1954 Feature Film Directed by Luis Buñuel

Spanish film director and original member of the Surrealist movement, Luis Buñuel, directed this version of Daniel Defoe’s ‘Robinson Crusoe‘ in 1954. It’s a very good and straightforward telling of the story with a totally convincing island locale. The Defoe novel is now more important reading than it’s ever been. That’s because it is the greatest story ever told about being alone with one’s self. All you have to do is live in Los Angeles for a while with your eyes open to understand how few people want to ever be alone with themselves. You see this problem with people very clearly when they break up with significant others and immediately slide into whatever relationship presents itself. It signifies a profound weakness of mind and character. Defoe wrote about the intricate workings of a mind alone with itself and the unexpected joys and truths one discovers in one’s self. So, read the book. It’s a tough book, full of very fine sentences and very subtle thought. Give it a try.

If you are so inclined, you can listen to the entire book right here because I sat down and read the whole thing into a microphone several years ago. But I suggest you listen now and then while making your way through the book on your own.

Here’s an article on Luis Buñuel at the Senses of Cinema site.

Ikarie XB-1: 1963 Czechoslovak Science Fiction Film of a Stanislaw Lem Novel

This 1963 Czechoslovak science fiction film directed by Jindrich Polák is an adaptation of a Stanislaw Lem novel called ‘The Magellanic Cloud.’ Reflexively, one tries to find similarities between this film and Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey.’ But I think the better place to look for influence is in Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1972 film, ‘Solaris,’ which was also a Lem adaptation. ‘Ikarie XB-1‘ follows the crew of a ship sent to investigate a planet orbiting Earth’s nearest star, Alpha Centauri. On the way, they encounter a derelict space ship from 1987 Earth which appears to originate from the United States and carries a load of deadly poison and nuclear weapons. Crew members begin to inexplicably fall asleep. The ship also finds a giant dark star that emits an unknown type of radiation from which the humans are mysteriously rescued. The end of the film is a stunning sequence of mental breakdown leading to fantastic and life-affirming discovery.

But the various events do not matter as much as the way the film dwells on the people within their technological surroundings. It’s the focus on the mental status of the crew as opposed to exciting episodes that makes for the strength of this film and its influence on ‘Solaris.’ The film has a calm and quiet approach, simply trying to let us feel the vast distances traveled by the crew. The sets and visual effects hover between beautiful and unconvincing. But they work and are often effective. It’s really a pretentious art film in space. If you like Eastern Bloc science fiction and Stanislaw Lem’s peculiar writing, this is a must see.

Marilyn Monroe – The Last Interview

This is the last interview Marilyn Monroe ever gave. It was for Life Magazine in 1962. The interviewer is editor Richard Meryman. The film includes various pieces of Monroe documentary and news footage. As she speaks, she seems delicate and somewhat forced in her cheerful girlishness. I’ve never given much a damn about Monroe. I view her as one of those totally false put-ons of sexuality that worked for a while because of the grotesque and revolting American male of the 1950s. Men were so totally warped about their own bodies and what they thought women should be that they were willing to worship one who walked out and turned them all into jokes. That’s Monroe – a vicious mockery of American sexuality in the 50s. She knew it and she couldn’t find a way out of the role she had chosen.