Box Office Gold Disc 4

The Missouri Traveler, 1958, color. Jerry Hopper (dir.), Brandon De Wilde, Lee Marvin, Gary Merrill, Paul Ford, Mary Hosford, Ken Curtis, Cal Tinney, Frank Cady, Will Wright. 1:43.

A charmer all the way through. A 15-year-old orphan (De Wilde) is running away from the orphanage and gets picked up by the biggest landholder in Delphi, Missouri—and, eventually, “adopted” by the whole small community. The landholder/farmer (Lee Marvin) is gruff and rough, and will only stand by agreements if they’re in writing. The other protagonist, the local newspaper editor (Merrill), is much softer. Lots of other characters involved, and at one point I had to remind myself that the lead woman was not Marian Peroo. (The local restaurant owner, who was running a beer parlor until the temperance ladies made the town dry, is also essentially the mayor—and is the same actor (Ford) who was the mayor in The Music Man.)

Not a terribly deep picture, but a charming one. Good cast. Decent print. I’ll give it $1.50.

Rogue Male, 1977, color (TV movie). Clive Donner (dir.), Peter O’Toole, John Standing, Alastair Sim, Harold Pinter. 1:43.

Peter O’Toole is a British aristocrat and author of books about hunting who attempts to assassinate Hitler in 1939—missing and being captured because of a stray quail. (Don’t ask.) The interrogators torture him, including pulling out all his fingernails—then, finding out that he really is related to a high-up in British government, stage an accident to explain his death. An accident that doesn’t actually kill him.

The rest of the movie concerns his flight back to England, his discovery that he’s still being hunted by Gestapo agents, and his attempts to survive. It’s slow and gritty (much of it takes place in and about a small hand-dug cave) and with O’Toole, it’s well worth watching. Not great, but worth $1.50.

Agency, 1980, color. George Kaczender (dir.), Robert Mitchum, Lee Majors, Valerie Perrine, Alexandra Stewart. Saul Rubinek, George Touliatos. 1:34.

Robert Mitchum is the new owner of an ad agency, a tad secretive and with little known background in the biz. Lee Majors is the creative head, prone to jogging, getting in late and being, well, Lee Majors. He’s divorced and sometimes dating Valerie Perrine, a doctor. And his buddy Goldstein, a brilliant copywriter, thinks Mitchum’s up to no good.

It’s all about the sure-fire wonders of subliminal advertising and how they can enable any group to take over the world. I’m not sure how much more there is to say about it. It’s lackluster but not terrible (although there are a few bizarre digitization errors and some really crude censorship, as certain words are obviously blanked out). The sleeve calls this “The Agency,” but there’s no pronoun in the flick’s title. A paranoid trifle, worth maybe $1.25.

The Steagle, 1971, color. Paul Sylbert (dir.), Richard Benjamin, Chill Wills, Cloris Leachman, Jean Allison, Suzanne Charney, Ivor Francis. 1:27 [1:30]

Richard Benjamin is a professor in New York who hates to fly and has a typical suburban family: one wife (Cloris Leachman), two kids. Then comes the Cuban Missile Crisis and he goes—well, let’s see, he gives a lecture of complete nonsense language, tells off his dean and starts hopping across the country on first-class airplane flights, making up a new identity each leg, screwing a married colleague at work, the daughter of a former wartime flame in Chicago and anybody who’s convenient elsewhere. We also see a minister turn lecher in Vegas. Benjamin winds up in LA, getting drunk at the Stork Club and thrown out after a strange scene involving Chill Wills as an over-the-hill, drunk, befuddled old Western actor who supposedly thinks he’s Humphrey Bogart—and the two of them wind up shooting live ammo and exploding live grenades at midnight on a studio set.

After which a cop wakes the two and doesn’t run them in—because the Russian ships have just turned around and Kennedy’s saved the day. Exit Benjamin, back across country, by train, across from a loudmouth Texan who thinks we shoulda’ bombed Cuba flat.

I found it more annoying than anything else, and as a “comedy” it lacks humor. So the crisis was an excuse to abandon all morality, your family, everything? Really? That’s not quite the way I remember it (I was at UC Berkeley at the time.) Maybe if you find Benjamin charming enough you’d like it. For me, meh. But a good print and good cast; I’ll charitably give it $1.

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