Trailer for Disney’s John Carter Film

Here’s the first official trailer for Disney’s upcoming film, ‘John Carter.’ It’s an odd way to retitle Edgar Rice Burroughs’ science fiction novel, ‘A Princess of Mars.’ But that’s what they’ve done. I don’t imagine there are too many people who will go see a movie named for someone called John Carter. But anything is possible. If you’d like to put up with some very bad writing by Mr. Burroughs, you can listen to Candlelight’s complete audio book version of the novel. I’m not sure why I recorded it at all. Burroughs turned what should have been a short story into a novel by making all of his sentences run the length of football fields.

The Rebel Set: 1959 Beatnik Film Noir

Gene Fowler, Jr. directed this peculiar Beatnik crime noir in 1959. It starts right off with a Beat jazz club and then just gradually slides into trying to be a crime thriller. It’s about an out of work actor, an unpublished novelist and a movie-star’s son who are teamed up by the club owner to pull off an armored car robbery. The Beat scenes start off in Los Angeles and then the action moves by train toward New York, with a four-hour layover in Chicago where the crime is to occur. I love all the jazzy xylophone music, the black-clad dancing girl, the paintings on the walls, the bohemian sleeping quarters and the silly little beards. I think we really need to bring back the whole idea of the Beat jazz club. I’d go for sure.

The movie has some great touches. Like the hard luck actor reciting Shakespeare’s ‘Taming of the Shrew’ along with an LP. There’s my favorite line, delivered by the club owner: ‘When in Rome, Sydney, do the Romans.’ The poet giving a performance with musical backing says, ‘The passengers on this sad train are the five senses.’

Batman and Robin: Amazingly Awful 1949 Columbia Pictures Serial

Batman and Robin was a Columbia Pictures serial of 1949. It starred Robert Lowery as the batman and a rather stolid little fellow named Johnny Duncan. It’s a totally awkward, cheesy and humorless affair that very perfectly captures the true spirit of the comic book.  But shockingly there’s no batmobile!  The caped crime-fighting duo drive around in an old Mercury convertible as if they’re married and looking for a gas station.

Look, if Christopher Nolan wants to try to convince us all that he can make gritty realistic films about Batman, go ahead and let him. He’s wasting his own time. Batman is an absurdity and should be filmed as such. Enjoy this horrendous bit of movie serial history and don’t try to figure out all the machines and criminal plots. None of it makes any sense at all!

Trip to Moon: Bizarre Bollywood Sci-Fi Spectacle

Oh dear! What have we here? This is a Bollywood science fiction (and I use that term very lightly!) film that was apparently made in 1967, though it looks more 1950s to me. It was directed by one T.P. Sundaram. It is ostensibly about an astronaut who gets kidnapped to the moon and then has to fight for the moon princess and her kingdom when martians try to invade. The movie is a roaring low-fi spectacle with songs, fights and cheesy cardboard special effects. Spaceship controls are actually steering wheels. If you want some good advice, skip through to the 2 hour 15 minute mark and just watch the glorious action sequence that closes the film. You will see grown men fighting with giant sparklers aboard a crash-landing spaceship. You’ll see robots, a Cyclops, and two men engaged in a lunar surface wrestling match that makes Captain Kirk look like Bruce Lee’s star pupil. You will then see a rhinoceros. If you are not laughing hard enough to burst a vessel of some sort, then I don’t think anything can be done for you!