Mortimer Brewster’s aunts Abby and Martha are two of the kindest, most loving women you could ever hope to meet. They are always willing to help others and always seemed to have a kind word for everyone. They raised Mortimer and his brothers Jonathan and Teddy from a young age. Mortimer has developed into a well-rounded young man who works for the city’s paper reviewing the theatre. Brother Teddy, while harmless, suffers from the delusion that he is President Theodore Roosevelt. Brother Jonathan, well, the less said about him the better. He was the type of child who enjoyed pulling the wings off of flies and the legs off of spiders. The “fun” begins when Mortimer is excitedly preparing to share the good news of his coming engagement to the girl next door rather unexpectedly finds a dead body in the window box seat of his Aunts’ home. Later that same night his brother Jonathan returns home after a long absence; who after numerous face changing surgeries looks a great deal like the actor Boris Karloff. With him comes an alcoholic plastic surgeon and another dead body. Meanwhile, Teddy seems to be digging body sized locks for the Panama Canal in the basement. Read more about Arsenic and Old Lace
The 1960’s was the time of the “Cold War” and the “Iron Curtain” Both of these terms were indicative of our relationship with Russia during those years. We may not have been in a shooting war, but we were very much at odds with them in terms of our political philosophies and both countries were very much concerned that these differing political philosophies would spread or worse contaminate their own people. So it is surprising that one of the most popular spy shows on television in the sixties featured an organization made up of agents from many different countries with no regard to the political affiliation or beliefs of their home countries. In fact, the organization's two top agents and their best team consisted of American agent Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn) and Russian agent Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum). The series was known as “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” and it was popular enough to spawn several made-for-TV movies, a spin-off series known as “The Girl from U.N.C.L.E,” and an attempted movie reboot in 2015. Read more about The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (Television Series)
In 1965, there were two racing comedies released both of them set during the first 10 years of 1900’s. The more popular of two was “The Great Race,” which was about an around the world automobile race; the second was Those Magnificent Men and their Flying Machines, about an air race between London and Paris in very early and flimsy aircraft. While I will admit there is something special about The Great Race and it certainly had more stars who were known in the United States, Those Magnificent Men and their flying Machines had something the other did not … History.
What do I mean by history? First of all, there is the light-hearted review of man’s attempts to fly featuring the comic skills of Red Skelton mixed with historic footage of some of the more outrageous of man’s attempts and failures to fly before the opening credits. You are not likely to see more historical film footage of man’s failed attempts to fly in another movie. But of even greater interest to someone like me is that every plane used in the film was a recreation of a historic airplane from the birth of aviation. In a few cases, they added some safety devices or a small change was made to better protect the pilots, but the planes did fly, or, at least, those that were supposed to fly did, and they were actually flown for the movie’s footage. Read more about Those Magnificent Men and their Flying Machines
If the stories I’ve heard are true there is a five-gallon bucket somewhere in the United States that contains a batch of red silicone still moist from the 1958 production of The Blob. Supposedly it is brought out and displayed at the annual Blobfest in Phoenixville PA where many of the scenes for the movie were shot. The Blob is one of many science fiction movies of the 1950’s that told of some unknown horror coming from outer space that endangers the world. A lot of these were extremely low budget and featured extremely bad special effects even taking into account the time they were produced. Read more about The Blob (1958)
Not too long ago I was reminded of one of my favorite romantic movies, The American President. The film stars Michael Douglas as President Andrew Shepherd and Annette Bening as Sydney Ellen Wade, a lobbyist for an ecological group. President Shepherd is something unusual in the U.S. Presidency, though not in movies, a single father. Shepherd is nearing the end of his first term, up for re-election and wondering if the real reason he was elected was due to a sympathy vote after his wife died of cancer during his campaign. Now, after a little over three years of widowhood, he spots Sydney at a meeting taking place at the White House and decides he would like to ask her out. The problem, obviously, is that he is the President of the United States. His life is a fish bowl and there is a dignity that goes with the office that makes it difficult to have close friends. His oldest and best friend now refuses to call him anything other than “Mr. President” even during their private games of pool. So just how does a President ask a woman out on a date? What happens when that date is successful and they find themselves strongly attracted to each other? Read more about American President
You may have seen the musical. You have most likely seen the movie starring John Travolta, Queen Latifah, and Nikki Blonsky, but have you see the movie that started it all? The original 1988 comedy Hairspray, directed and written by John Waters, featured Ricki Lake as Tracy Turnblad and Divine as Edna Turnblad. This movie has a grittier, earthier feel than either the musical or the 2007 movie. This is not too surprising as Hairspray was the first film by John Waters to receive less than an “R” rating. Prior to this film John Waters had been justly known in Hollywood as “The King of Bad Taste.” Hairspray was the first John Water’s films to even attempt to appeal to the general public. Read more about Hairspray (1988)