Author Archive

“Trust Me”: The Other Problem with 87% of Beall’s Lists

Friday, January 29th, 2016

Here’s the real tl;dr: I could only find any discussion at all in Beall’s blog for 230 of the 1,834 journals and publishers in his 2016 lists—and those cases don’t include even 2% of the journals in DOAJ.

Now for the shorter version…

As long-time readers will know, I don’t much like blacklists. I admit to that prejudice belief: I don’t think blacklists are good ways to solve problems.

And yet, when I first took a hard look at Jeffrey Beall’s lists in 2014, I was mostly assessing whether the lists represented as massive a problem as Beall seemed to assert. As you may know, I concluded that they did not.

But there’s a deeper problem—one that I believe applies whether you dislike blacklists or mourn the passing of the Index Librorum Prohibitorum. To wit, Beall’s lists don’t meet what I would regard as minimal standards for a blacklist even if you agree with all of his judgments.

Why not? Because, in seven cases out of eight (on the 2016 lists), Beall provides no case whatsoever in his blog: the journal or publisher is in the lists Just Because. (Or, in some but not most cases, Beall provided a case on his earlier blog but failed to copy those posts.)

Seven cases out of eight: 87.5%. 1,604 journals and publishers of the 1,834 (excluding duplicates) on the 2016 versions have no more than an unstated “Trust me” as the reason for avoiding them.

I believe that’s inexcusable, and makes the strongest possible case that nobody should treat Beall’s lists as being significant. (It also, of course, means that research based on the assumption that the lists are meaningful is fatally flawed.)

The Short Version

Since key numbers will appear first as a blog post on Walt at Random and much later in Cites & Insights, I’ll lead with the short version.

I converted the two lists into an Excel spreadsheet (trivially easy to do), adding columns for “Type” (Pub or Jrn), Case (no, weak, maybe or strong), Beall (URL for Beall’s commentary on this journal or publisher—the most recent or strongest when there’s more than one), and—after completing the hard work—six additional columns. We’ll get to those.

Then I went through Beall’s blog, month by month, post by post. Whenever a post mentioned one or more publishers or independent journals, I pasted the post’s URL into the “Beall” column for the appropriate row, read the post carefully, and filled in the “Case” column based on the most generous reading I could make of Beall’s discussion. (More on this later in the full article, maybe.)

I did that for all four years, 2012 through 2015, and even January 2016.

The results? In 1,604 cases, I was unable to find any discussion whatsoever. (No, I didn’t read all of the comments on the posts. Surely if you’re going to condemn a publisher or journal, you would at least mention your reasons in the body of a post, right?)

If you discard those on the basis that it’s grotesquely unfair to blacklist a journal or publisher without giving any reason why, you’re left with a list of 53 journals and 177 publishers. Giving Beall the benefit of the doubt, I judged that he made no case at all in five cases (the fact that you think a publisher has a “funny name” is no case at all, for example). I think he made a very weak case (e.g., one questionable article in one journal from a multijournal publisher) in 69 cases. I came down on the side of “maybe” 43 times and “strong” 113 times, although it’s important to note that “strong” means that at some point for some journal there were significant issues raised, not that a publisher is forever doomed to be garbage.

Call it 156 reasonable cases—now we’re down to less than 10% of the lists.

Then I looked at the spreadsheets I’m working on for the 2015 project (note here that SPARC has nothing at all to do with this little essay!)—”spreadsheets” because I did this when I was about 35% of the way through the first-pass data gathering. I could certainly identify which publishers had journals in DOAJ, but could only provide article counts for those in the first 35% or so. (In the end, I just looked up the 53 journals directly in DOAJ.)

Here’s what I found.

  • Ignoring the strength of case, Beall’s lists include 209 DOAJ journals—or 1.9% of the total. But of those 209, 85 are from Bentham Open (which, in my opinion, has cleaned up its act considerably) and 49 are from Frontiers Media (which Beall never actually made a case to include in his list, but somehow it’s there). If you eliminate those, you’re down to 75 journals, or 0.7%: Less than one out of every hundred DOAJ journals.
  • For that matter, if you limit the results to strong and maybe cases, the number drops to 37 journals: 0.33%, roughly one in every three hundred DOAJ journals.
  • For journals I’ve already analyzed (and since I’m working by publisher name, that includes most of these—at this writing, January 29, I just finished Hindawi), total articles were just over 16,000 (with more to come on a second pass) in 2015, just under 14,000 in 2014, just over 10,000 in 2013, around 8,500 in 2012, and around 4,500 in 2011.
  • But most of those articles are from Frontiers Media. Eliminating them and Bentham brings article counts down to the 1,700-2,500 range. That’s considerably less than one half of one percent of total serious OA articles.
  • The most realistic counts—those where Beall’s made more than a weak case—show around 150 articles for 2015, around 200-250 for 2013 and 2014, around 1,000 for 2012 and around 780 for 2011 (Those numbers will go up, but probably not by much. There was one active journal that’s mostly fallen by the wayside since 2012.)

The conclusion to this too-long short version: Beall’s lists are mostly the worst possible kind of blacklist: one where there’s no stated reason for things to be included. If you’re comfortable using “trust me” as the basis for a tool, that’s your business. My comment might echo those of Joseph Welch, but that would be mean.

Oh, by the way: you can download the trimmed version of Beall’s lists (with partial article counts for journals in DOAJ, admittedly lacking some of them). It’s available in .csv form for minimum size and maximum flexibility. Don’t use it as a blacklist, though: it’s still far too inclusive, as far as I’m considered.

Modified 1/30: Apparently the original filename yields a 404 error; I’ve renamed the file, and it should now be available. (Thanks, Marika!)

Gold Open Access Journals 2011-2015: A SPARC Project

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

I’m delighted to announce that SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) is supporting the update of Gold Open Access Journals 2011-2015 to provide an empirical basis for evaluating Open Access sustainability models. I am carrying out this project with SPARC’s sponsorship, building from and expanding on The Gold OA Landscape 2011-2014.

The immediate effect of this project is that the dataset for the earlier project is publicly available for use on zenodo.org and on my personal website. The data is public domain, but attribution and feedback are both appreciated.

Here’s what the rest of the project means:

  • I am basing the study on the Directory of Open Access Journals as of December 31, 2015. With eleven duplicates (same URL, different journal names, typically in two languages) removed and reported back to DOAJ, that means a starting point of 10,948 journals. All journals will be accounted for, and as many as feasible will be fully analyzed.
  • The grades and subgrades have been simplified and clarified, and two categories of journal excluded from the 2014 study will now be included (but tagged so that they can be counted separately if desired): journals consisting primarily of conference reports peer-reviewed at the conference level, and journals that require free registration to read articles.
  • I’m visiting all journal sites (and using DOAJ as an additional source) to determine current article processing charges (if any), add 2015 article counts to data carried over from the 2014 project, clean up article counts as feasible, and add 2011-2014 article counts for journals not in the earlier report.
  • Since some journals (typically smaller ones) take some time to post articles, and since some journals will not be analyzed for various reasons (malware, inability to access, difficulty in translating site or counting articles), I’ll be doing a second pass for all those requiring such a pass, starting in April 2016 or after the first pass is complete. My intent is to include as many journals as possible (although existence of malware is an automatic stopping point), although that doesn’t extend to (for example) going through each issue of a weekly journal only available in PDF form.
  • The results will be written up in a form somewhat similar to The Gold OA Landscape 2011-2014, refined based on feedback and discussion.
  • Once the analysis and preparation are complete, the dataset (in anonymized form) will be made freely available at appropriate sites and publicized as available.
  • The PDF version of the final report will be freely available and carry an appropriate Creative Commons license.
  • A paperback version of the final report will be available; details will be announced closer to publication.
  • A shorter version of the final report will appear in Cites & Insights, and it’s likely that notes along the way will also appear there.

My thanks to SPARC for making this possible.

Dataset for The Gold OA Landscape 2011-2014 now available

Thursday, January 21st, 2016

I’m pleased to announce that the anonymized dataset used to prepare The Gold OA Landscape 2011-2014 is now available for downloading and use.

The dataset–an Excel .xlsx spreadsheet with two workbooks–includes 9,824 rows of data, one for each journal graded A through C (and, thus, fully analyzed) in the project. Each row has a dozen columns. The columns are described on the second “data_key” workbook.

I would love to be able to say that this dataset was now on figshare–but after wasting spending far too much time attempting to complete the required fields and publish the dataset, it appears that the figshare mechanisms are at least partly broken. When (if) I receive assurances that the scripts (which fail in current versions of Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer) have been fixed, I’ll add the dataset there–although I’d be happy to hear about other no-fee dataset sharing sites that actually work. (It’s possible that figshare just doesn’t much care for free personal accounts any more: I also note that the counts of dataset usage that were previously available have disappeared.)

Update January 22, 2016: This dataset is now available on zenodo.org. (Hat-tip to Thomas Munro.)

As always, the best way to understand the data in this spreadsheet is via either the paperback version or the PDF ebook site-licensed version of The Gold OA Landscape 2011-2014.


Note: This isn’t quite the “Watch This Space” announcement foreshadowed in Cites & Insights 16:2, and it doesn’t mean that sales of the book have suddenly mushroomed. That announcement–which is related to this one–should come in a few days.

By the way, while the dataset consists of facts and is therefore in the public domain, I’d appreciate being told about uses of the spreadsheet and certainly appreciate proper attribution. Send me a note at waltcrawford@gmail.com

I’d also love your suggestions as to ways the presentation in the book could be improved if or when there’s a newer version…leave a comment or, again, send email to waltcrawford@gmail.com

“Trust me”: The Apparent Case for 90% of Beall’s List Additions

Thursday, January 7th, 2016

I’ve tried to stay away from Beall and his Lists, but sometimes it’s not easy.

The final section of the Intersections essay in the January 2016 Cites & Insights recounts a quick “investigation” into the rationales Beall provided for placing 223 publishers on his 2014 list. Go to page 8: it’s the section titled “Lagniappe: The Rationales, Once Over Easy.” I found that I could find any rationale for condemning the publishers in only 35% of cases.

Perhaps too charitably, I assumed that it was because Beall’s blog changed platforms and he didn’t take the time to restore older posts to the new blog.

Then I noted his 2016 lists–which add 230 (or more) publishers and 375 (or more) independent journals to the 2015 lists. I say “or more” because at least one major publisher has been removed via the Star Chamber Appeal Process, even though Beall continues to attack the publisher as unworthy.

In any case: 605 new listings. My recollection is that there haven’t even been close to 605 posts on Beall’s blog in the past year… but I thought I’d check it out.

The results: As far as I can tell, posts during 2015 include around 60 new publishers and journals. (I may have missed a couple of “copycat” journals, so let’s call it 65).

Sixty or 65. Out of 605.

In other words: for roughly 90% of publishers (most of them really “publishers,” I suspect) and journals added to the list, there is no published rationale whatsoever for Beall’s condemnation.

None.

So if you’re wondering why I regard Beall as irrelevant to the reality of open access publishing (which isn’t all sweetness & light, any more than the reality of subscription publishing), there’s one answer.

Cites & Insights 16:2 (February-March 2016) available

Saturday, January 2nd, 2016

Cites & Insights 16:2 (February-March 2016) is now available for downloading at http://citesandinsights.info/civ16i2.pdf

The double issue is 46 pages long.

If you’re reading online or on a tablet or other e-device, you may prefer the single-column 6″x9″ version, which is 89 pages long and available at http://citesandinsights.info/civ16i2on.pdf

The issue includes:

The Front    p. 1

A placeholder of sorts.

Intersections: Economics and Access   pp. 1-46

Embargoes, costs, spending, Lingua/Glossa, flipping and more.

 

The semi-obligatory “I Still Read Books” post

Wednesday, December 30th, 2015

I started keeping a spreadsheet of books I’d read three or four years ago (OK: January 6, 2011–make that “five years ago”)  because I was starting to use the excellent local public library a lot more and, being old, didn’t want to accidentally pick up the same book twice.

As a side-effect, the spreadsheet lets me know how many books I’ve actually read each year.

My target is 39. To wit: The library’s check-out period is four weeks; I always take out three books (one “general” fiction, one nonfiction, one alternating between mystery and fantasy/science fiction). So: 13 four-week periods times three books.

This year, as last year, I managed to pass the target by a comfortable margin: 62(!) books read, assuming I don’t finish the current book before January 1. Or, rather, looking at the spreadsheet more carefully, I started 62 books and finished 59. Three (The Book of Lost Books, The Bite in the Apple, and William Safire’s Take My Word for It) I abandoned partway through.

So: Here are the books I thoroughly enjoyed, giving them full honors:

Thief of Time Terry Pratchett
Pale Kings and Princes Robert B. Parker
Night Watch Terry Pratchett
Monstrous Regiment Terry Pratchett
The Lake, The River & The Other Lake Steve Amick
This Case Is Gonna Kill Me Phillipa Bornikova
Hugger Mugger Robert B. Parker
The Pleasure of My Company Steve Martin
An Object of Beauty Steve Martin
Potshot Robert Parker
The Professional Robert B. Parker
Rough Weather Robert B. Parker
1634: The Ram Rebellion Eric Flint
Night Passage Robert B. Parker
Paper Doll Robert B. Parker
A Blink of the Screen Terry Pratchett
The Bromeliad Trilogy Terry Pratchett

and a few others that I enjoyed, but didn’t rate quite as high (A- rather than the A for those above)

Waiter Rant The Waiter
The Truth Terry Pratchett
Turtle Recall: the Discworld Companion Terry Pratchett & S. Briggs
Crimson Joy Robert Parker
Box Office Poison Phillipa Bornikova
1632 Eric Flint
1633 Eric Flint & David Weber
1634: The Bavarian Crisis Eric Flint & Virginia DeMarce
Now & Then Robert B. Parker
1634: The Baltic War Eric Flint & David Weber
Ring of Fire Eric Flint
Big Trouble Dave Barry
1635: The Eastern Front Eric Flint
True History of the Kelly Gang Peter Carey
Widow’s Walk Robert B. Parker

For those of you saying “Crawford’s got no Serious Literary Taste, he’s in there reading them Robert B. Parker and Terry Pratchett and Eric Flint genre pieces of crap,” I can only say phbttb. I’ve been a sucker for Pratchett since I first encountered Discworld (on a cruise ship, as it happens), and I’m pretty sure I’ve read all the adult Discworld novels and a couple of the nonfiction works (I’ll seek out the rest of the juveniles, and while I’m too damn old to start rereading stuff, it’s hard to let go of the Discworld folks). I’ve always been a fan of Robert B. Parker’s books, except for the fact that they’re so fluid and fast-moving that I finish one in at most three brief evening reading sessions. I’ve been captured by the 1632 alternate history told from the ground up, and that’s the way it is. I’m sure there are a few “serious” books in there. Somewhere.

 

Something positive for the holidays: A shout-out to OfficeDepot/OfficeMax

Thursday, December 24th, 2015

As a few of you on LSW Slack may know, we (well, my wife, but I’m spending my time helping her cope with it) have been having more than our share of ComputerWoes this holiday:

  • Her 4-year-old Toshiba Satellite, which she was a couple of months away from replacing, suddenly died when she tried to wake it up from sleep mode.
  • She wants to stick with a 17″ screen (this is her *only* computer) and there aren’t a lot of good choices from brands we semi-trust. A clearance Toshiba model was sold out at our local OfficeMax. We went to Fry’s; they had a more expensive Toshiba that seemed pretty nice. We bought it (and Office 2016–and now realize we probably should have gone for the multiuser Office 365 subscription instead, but that’s a different story).
  • First good OD/OM news: Clark, the computer tech at our local OfficeMax was able to recover all the data and bookmarks from the broken Toshiba’s hard disk for a very fair price ($50; since OD/OM also had a great sale on 32GB USB 3.0 flash drives from the brand we both prefer, Sandisk–$9.99, which really is a great price, I purchased a couple of them and gave the tech one to use for the data).
  • But…two days later–day before yesterday–the new Toshiba wouldn’t boot up–power light, wifi light, nothing else. This is after she’d pretty much restored and loaded everything, and was starting to get stuff done again.
  • Took it back to Fry’s. They were actually willing to do a “brain transplant”–swap the hard disk into another Toshiba of the same model–but, tada, they’d run out of that Toshiba model. We could drive a long way to another store or… The only other suitable 17″ notebook was a Dell Inspiron: smaller hard disk, less RAM, but an Intel i3 CPU rather than an AMD; same price. So…we made the exchange.
  • ANYWAY: The other OfficeDepot/OfficeMax thing that feels like a seasonal miracle, even though I didn’t need it: Seeing just how much faster USB 3.0 is (and both of our machines–I have an 8-month-old Toshiba Satellite, also a 17″ screen, replacing a 7-year-old Gateway notebook that’s still operational but overheating–now have USB 3.0 ports), we both think we’d like to use USB 3.0 flash drives for backup and have extras. The store was out of the sale units (the sale ends Sunday), but what the heck, if I purchased four of them from OfficeDepot.com (for $39.96 plus tax), they’d throw in free delivery.
  • I ordered the flash drives yesterday afternoon, around 3 p.m. Figured they’d arrive midweek next week, the usual 3-5 business days. That’s fine: we don’t need them yet.
  • Half an hour ago–20 hours after I ordered the flash drives with free delivery and no rush anything–there was a knock on the door and a delivery person handed me the box. Which apparently shipped last night at 7:30 p.m. from a Fremont OD warehouse.

A long and odd story, but the shoutout here is: Really? 20-hour FREE delivery when I didn’t even request it? I don’t expect it to happen again, but hey, good for OfficeDepot/OfficeMax

(I’d always been an OD shopper–Mountain View has a big and very good OD store that was in walking distance of our old house–but it’s OfficeMax in Livermore, and since they’re both really OfficeDepot now, we’ll manage. And their tech support person, Clark, really is great. He looked at my 7-yr-old Gateway to see whether it was plausible to replace the noisy fan and keep it as a backup computer. He concluded that the fan was a symptom of overheating, showed me the whole situation, said probably not worth trying to fix for such an old machine…and didn’t charge anything. Now, if only they had the Toshiba 17″ notebooks in stock…)

So: the closest to a Christmas present we’re likely to get (our family doesn’t do presents for adults, a wise decision made decades ago), and always good to deal with user-friendly companies.

And to all…happy holidays, whichever you do or don’t celebrate.

 

It’s not just (some) librarians who seem professionally suicidal

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015

Reading an article in today’s San Francisco Chronicle (via Kindle) about a magazine that started up three years ago and may not have money enough to produce any more issues.

With, but of course, an early paragraph about the curiosity of starting a new print magazine when (paraphrasing) magazines and newspapers are shutting down EVERY DAY.

Except…

Newspapers aren’t shutting down “every day.” After most afternoon newspapers (and, unfortunately, most competitive newspapers in most cities) shut down, there have been very few shutdowns–and, interestingly, ad revenue seems to have bottomed out and started rising again.

As for magazines, old ones do disappear (not every day, but every so often), as they have throughout the history of magazines. And new ones do appear (not every day, but almost) as they have throughout the history of magazines. Mr. Magazine (Prof. Samir Husni, who specifically tracks magazines available on newsstands) pretty consistently finds more startups than shutdowns every year. Yes, newsstand sales have continued to fall–but for most magazines (except People and a few others), newsstand sales are pretty much irrelevant. There’s a reason Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund and ACLU have all introduced print magazines in the past few years–they work in a way few other media do. (It’s also true that there are a lot fewer multimillion-circulation magazines than there were years ago–but many more niche magazines. I think that’s a good thing, but then I never was much for the multimillion-circulation magazines. Except, I guess, for the biggest circulation magazine of them all: AARP The Magazine, which is steadily growing and now close to 24 million.)

Then, halfway through the article, we get to the “AHA!” moment, after blaming The Death Of All Print for the upstart magazine’s problems:

  • It doesn’t accept advertising, because that would impair the purity of the vision.
  • The online version not only doesn’t require subscriptions, it doesn’t accept them, because…

The founder’s pretty much upfront about wanting the magazine to be funded as somebody’s charity. That’s nice, but a failure to maintain that funding model has nothing whatsoever to do with The Death Of Magazines.

Meanwhile, Happy Holidays–all 27 of them during this season. For that matter, for a few of you, keep that colander shiny!

The Gold OA Landscape 2011-2014: additional info

Thursday, December 17th, 2015

No sales pitch this time. If you think this is valuable information, maybe your library should buy it. Meanwhile:

Questionable Journals by Country

I’m working on a big OA roundup for Cites & Insights, and was noting a ScienceNews article that began with a frequently-stated false statement: that most OA journals charge APCs. But I noted that the author was Indian, and took a look:

For India (as represented by DOAJ-listed journals I regarded as serious), he’s right: a slight majority of the 438 journals do charge APCs (53.7%).

That’s readily available in the book, in Chapter 6.

But I also thought: what about DOAJ-listed journals that I graded “C” (and so did not include in the main analysis)?

Turns out that almost a third of those 312 journals are published in India—it’s second only to the United States (but the United States publishes 996 serious OA journals, compared to India’s 438).

Here’s a table showing the countries that publish more than two journals I graded “C” (for hidden APCs or flat-out lies or impossible peer review turnaround or…):

Country

Count

United States

118

India

100

Pakistan

21

Iran, Islamic Republic of

12

United Kingdom

7

Italy

5

Canada

4

South Korea

4

Brazil

3

Spain

3

Here’s the comparable table for serious journals (grades A and B), including countries with 100 or more such journals (this is a portion of Table 6.1)

Country Journals
United States

996

Brazil

929

United Kingdom

649

Spain

517

Egypt

493

India

438

Germany

315

Romania

285

Italy

277

Iran, Islamic Republic of

269

Turkey

260

Poland

258

Canada

254

Colombia

242

Switzerland

216

France

166

Argentina

146

Mexico

146

Chile

138

Indonesia

136

New Zealand

115

Australia

111

Russian Federation

100

Other Excluded Journals

What about the 777 journals that I excluded for other reasons (see the book for details, Table 2.1 and accompanying text)?

Here’s a table showing the countries with five or more such journals:

Country

Count

United States

130

Brazil

53

Spain

51

India

49

Germany

36

Turkey

36

Egypt

31

Romania

31

Russian Federation

27

Italy

26

United Kingdom

23

Colombia

22

Iran, Islamic Republic of

17

China

16

France

16

Argentina

13

Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of

13

Mexico

11

Pakistan

10

Chile

9

Portugal

9

Ukraine

9

Canada

8

Poland

8

Switzerland

8

Indonesia

7

Serbia

7

Austria

6

Australia

5

Cuba

5

I wouldn’t attempt to conclude much from this list, since it’s such a hodgepodge of reasons for not fully analyzing the journals. Some aren’t OA as I define it (or are all conference proceedings), some were too difficult to count (mostly because they’re full-issue PDFs), a whole bunch were unreachable, I’ve already posted about the malware-laden ones, and so on…

Status Update

Not much to say here: total so far 10 paperback copies, three PDF ebook copies; three total copies in the last month.

Mystery Collection, Disc 46

Wednesday, December 9th, 2015

Murder Once Removed, 1971 (TV movie), color. Charles Dubin (dir.), John Forsythe, Richard Kiley, Reta Shaw, Joseph Campanella, Barbara Bain, Wendell Burton. 1:14.

A junkie vet (Burton) who’s trying to kick the stuff and go to college, a doctor (Forsythe) who’s helping out—and who’s got the hots for the wife ( Bain) of a local businessman (Kiley), and a police detective (Campanella, of course). Those are the key players—well, those and the doctor’s nurse (Shaw) and the nurse’s dog (uncredited), who howls whenever there’s been a death.

See, the wife and the doctor are seeing each other—innocently, so far, but the doctor wants to change that—and the businessman’s looked into the doctor’s past in another town, where his mother-in-law died of a heart attack and, not too much later, his wife died of a heart attack, leaving him the money to come back home and buy out his father’s medical practice. The businessman—a patient of the doctor, as are all the other characters—believes the doctor did it and tells him so, thinking he’s taken precautions to assure that the same fate doesn’t befall him.

That’s the setup. The rest involves the doctor murdering the businessman (but not by inducing a heart attack), his careful framing of the young vet, the detective being suspicious of it all being too pat…and a little stage acting that results in the doctor confessing all.

Except…well, there are two more twists in the last five minutes of the flick (which has all the characteristics of a TV movie). I won’t give them away, but will note that one of them makes an earlier scene seem entirely phony and implausible. Incidentally, the plot summary on IMDb is wrong: the wife did not plot the murder with the doctor. At least not directly…

When I write the review, I don’t know whether it’s a TV movie, but can’t explain this one any other way. Good cast, decent movie. $1.25.

Hollywood Man, 1976, color. Jack Starrett (dir.), William Smith Jennifer Billingsley, Ray Girardin, Jude Farese. 1:37 [1:24]

This seems to be a no-budget movie about making a no-budget biker movie and the perils of getting most of your absurdly inadequate financing from someone you know is out to screw you, and who can claim all of your assets if the flick doesn’t get made rapidly. (Really: the obviously-connected “financier” turns them down, hands them another guy’s card and says “If I was you, I wouldn’t call him.” Sounds like a sure winner to me! On the other hand, that was the dramatic highlight of the portion of the film I watched.)It was written by four of the “stars” with assistance from the cast and crew; it was produced by two of the “stars.” (OK, maybe William Smith really was a star at some point, famous for Grave of the Vampire and Nam’s Angels, two other flicks I’ll probably never see.) It seems to be mostly a bunch of badly-filmed stunts done by people who don’t much give a damn.

Within ten minutes, I realized that I couldn’t tell which group of mumbling lowlife asshats were the good guys and which group were the bad guys and that I didn’t care one way or the other. Within 20 minutes, I recognized that this was one of those just plain incompetent movies, not one that’s so incompetent—but with such good intentions—that it’s amusing (e.g., Plan 9 from Outer Space).

Apparently, the stupidity escalates to beatings, murders and rapes further in the movie; I didn’t encounter that (well, maybe one murder: it was hard to tell, frankly) because the movie was such crap that I didn’t get that far. Maybe it’s because I’m now officially Old (at 70): With only 25-30 years to go, life really is too short for this garbage.

I never look at IMDB reviews until I’ve written mine—but this “review,” from Ray Girardin, may say all that needs to be said about the flick:

Hi, I’m Ray Girardin. I wrote “Stoker” (which became “Hollywood Man”) along with my friend Bill Smith in 1976. We wrote it mainly so we could do a movie together, and it worked out. He played the lead, Rafe Stoker, and I played the heavy, Harvey. There were problems along the way, as there always are with low-budget films, but we enjoyed doing it. If you’ve seen it, I’d welcome your comments, pro or con.

I stopped watching about 20 minutes in, and have no plans to resume. If you’re so inclined, you can apparently watch it for free on Youtube or download it from the Internet Archive. As the first financier might say, “If you’re smart, you won’t.” $0.

Dominique, 1979, color. Michael Anderson (dir.), Cliff Robertson, Jean Simmons, Jenny Agutter, Simon Ward. 1:40 (1:35)

The wealthy (but nervous) wife of a stockbroker (who seems to need money, although they live in a mansion with several staff members) witnesses some odd incidents—she’s apparently being gaslighted by her husband. Eventually, she commits suicide—but then her husband starts having incidents that lead him to believe that her ghost has returned. An oddly substantial ghost, capable of paying for a dual headstone (with his side having “soon” as the death date), playing piano and more.

Lots of odd incidents, eventually involving the murder of the family doctor (who certified the wife as being dead) and the semi-accidental death of the husband. Both wills are read at the same time, and other than minor bequests, her money all goes to the chauffeur and his all goes to the half-sister, despite his business partner’s assurance that most would go to the business.

The reveal, such as it is, is mostly annoying, especially as it winds up badly for everybody (and leaves a number of key plot points unresolved). Perhaps the missing five minutes would have helped.

Slow-moving, plodding at times, not terrible but certainly not great. Good cast; odd that it’s in this set, although it was apparently never released in the U.S. Maybe $1.25.

Julie Darling, 1983, color. Paul Nicholas (dir & screenplay), Anthony Franciosa, Sybil Danning, Isabelle Mejias, Paul Hubbard, Cindy Girling. 1:40 [1:30\

Julie just wants to be with her father. Not so much her mother, and she finds a way to take care of that, thanks to a delivery boy who finds the mother hot enough to turn him rapist and, more or less accidentally, killer.

Ah, but the father’s been seeing somebody else, a young widow, and soon enough…well, Julie fails to kill off the widow’s son, but is determined to do in the woman who’s now her stepmother. I won’t go through the whole plot, except to note that some stepmothers ought not to be messed with (and the last thing you want to be is Julie’s girlfriend from school!).

A tawdry little movie (badly panned-and-scanned) that earns its R with nudity, both gratuitous and not quite so gratuitous, plus of course violence. The missing ten minutes might help but wouldn’t make it less tawdry. After watching this, I really feel the need for a shower—but lovers of tawdry noir might give it $0.75.