“Wait a minute,” I hear nobody saying, “how could you have gone through four movies since you posted 50 Movie Western Classics, Disc 6, less than a week ago?”
- I only watched three of the four movies on this disc. I just couldn’t bring myself to walk through 95 minutes of Boy in the Plastic Bubble again.
- There were a couple of days when it was too inclement for my usual lunchtime walk–so I doubled up on exercise time, going through movies at a faster clip.
- Most important: I’d actually finished Disc 6 of the Western “Classics” pack before Midwinter–I just didn’t get around to posting it.
We now return to our features…
Boy in the Plastic Bubble, 1976, Color, made for TV. Randal Kleiser (dir.), John Travolta, Glynnis Oâ€™Connor, Robert Reed, Diana Hyland, Ralph Bellamy, Buzz Aldrin, 1:40 [1:35].
Note: I reviewed this flick back in 2004, as part of the â€œDoubleDouble Feature Pack.â€ Technically, that means I should watch it again, as this is likely to be an entirely different print. But Iâ€™m not sure I can bring myself to watch John Travoltaâ€™s early â€œactingâ€ againâ€”so I spot-checked it for print quality and timing. Hereâ€™s the original review. This is an Aaron Spelling production: A TV movie with a very young John Travolta. Iâ€™m not sure where the five minutes went (or if the IMDB info is correct); it seems to be a decent print. Iâ€™d have to say Robert Reed, Glynnis Oâ€™Connor, Diana Hyland, and Ralph Bellamy all out-act Travolta, who seems unformed as an actor at this point. As TV movies go, itâ€™s mediocre but watchable. $1.00.
Oh, Alfie, 1975, color. Ken Hughes (dir.), Alan Price, Jill Townsend, Paul Copley, Joan Collins, Rula Lenska. Original title Alfie Darling. 1:42 [1:19]
Make a successful picture (Alfie) and what do you get? A sequel of sorts. Itâ€™s about a good-looking but vapid truck driver who has his way with several women, married or not, and finds one who doesnâ€™t fall for him immediately. Naturally, he pursues her; naturally, she catches him. After a little nonsense (he gets punched out by one of the cuckolds, his codriver falls in love, gets married and needs advice), all ends well. Thatâ€™s pretty much all there is to it.
The sleeve description (apart from spelling â€œtruckorâ€ with an â€œoâ€) says Alfie â€œuses his job as a way to commute from tryst to tryst in his travels across the United States,â€ that the woman in question is â€œas callous and fond of one-night stands as he isâ€ and that their relationship faces â€œdangers waiting in the shadows.â€ Hmm. The movie I saw was set in England and France both in fact and in dialog, I saw no sign that the woman (a magazine editor) was callous or fond of one-night stands, and if there were any dangers they might have been that sheâ€™d come to her senses and see what a himbo she was hitching up with. No such luck. Then again, IMDB mentions â€œfemale nudityâ€ which certainly isnâ€™t the caseâ€”this is probably a TV version with quite a bit lost from the original. Ah well, itâ€™s reasonably well filmed with a good print. For that, Iâ€™ll give it $1.00.
Carnival Story, 1954, color. Kurt Neumann (dir.), Anne Baxter, Steve Cochran, Lyle Bettger, George Nader, Jay C. Flippen, Helene Stanley, Ady Berber. 1:35 [1:33].
A carnival isnâ€™t making it in America so they decamp to Germanyâ€”where a beautiful woman clumsily pickpockets one of the carnival folk (who appears to have pocketed a portion of the gate). He catches her, sheâ€™s down on her luck, he invites her to join the carnival (as a general helper) and, of course, makes his move. Heâ€™s abusive, but she takes it (or maybe â€œand she loves itâ€â€”thatâ€™s never entirely clear).
Then she meets up with the high-diving artist, who adds her to his act, courts her and marries her. Then the high-diver plunges to his death when a rung of the ladder is loose. Sure, itâ€™s ruled accidental. Sure, nobody even checks the ladder. You canâ€™t possibly imagine that the sleazy ex-boyfriend could have anything to do with itâ€¦ Later, he shows up again. The husband had willed his entire fortune to her ($5,000, but this was a while back), all in cash, all hidden behind a mirror. The no-good boyfriend who she canâ€™t resist disappears with the five large.
Oh, thereâ€™s another man involved: a photographer whoâ€™s sympathetic to her plight and, naturally, also falls for her. Iâ€™ve probably left out her attempt to spice up the act after her husbandâ€™s death by doing a 360 in midair, which causes her land badly and be out of commission for some time. Eventually, it all endsâ€”with a minor character playing a major role. If this all sounds melodramatic, it is. But itâ€™s also well filmed and not badly acted by a good cast, with a pretty good print. $1.50.
Four Deuces, 1976, color. William H. Bushnell (dir.), Jack Palance, Carol Lynley, Warren Berlinger, Adam Roarke. 1:27 [1:24].
The sleeve calls it a â€œtongue-in-cheek crime melodramaâ€ and it has a fine cast, with Jack Palance, Warren Berlinger and Carol Lynley (among others). Itâ€™s done comic-book style, with big color captions popping up on some scene changes. The printâ€™s pretty good, sound is fine, good Roaring 20s music, reasonably well filmed. And maybe thatâ€™s enough. Itâ€™s a lively story with loads of action, double crossing, explosions, gunsels, maidens in distressâ€¦
No heroes, really, but a variety of villains in whatâ€™s basically an old-fashioned prohibition-era gang-vs.-gang war, with each gang having a speakeasy as headquarters. Somehow I couldnâ€™t get into it. Sure, you could say itâ€™s all comic-book violence, but it seemed as though the only ways to move the plot forward were machine guns and arson. I donâ€™t know about tongue-in-cheek, but I found it offputting. You might think itâ€™s great good fun; I didnâ€™t, and wind up with (charitably) $1.00.