Say, movie lovers, I have a question for you: how do you feel about Geneticly Modified Food? You know, food grown from seeds that scientists have dickered around with in the lab?
Some folks see GMF as a clever way to feed the world. Others fear unforseen side effects.
Me? I tend to side with those urging caution. Why? Is it because I am a vegan? A back-to-nature gal? A snooty foodie?
Nope. It's because I am a Junk Cinema lover--and I've seen Bert I. Gordon's "The Beginning of the End" which, back in 1957 (!), dared to sound the alarm that GMF was a very bad idea.
It all begins innocently enough. A teenage couple in lover's lane are happily making out in a snazzy car. They come up for air and the girl suddenly screams. A few minutes later, a pair of cops out on patrol find their car. It's been mashed into a twisted heap and the teenagers are nowhere to be found.
After that shocking discovery, comes an even MORE SHOCKING DISCOVERY: the entire town of Ludlow (pop.150) is destroyed! Ruined! And there is not a soul left!
Next we are introduced to spunky gal reporter/photographer Audrey Ames (Peggy Castle), who works for "National Wire Service." She's en route to an assignment when she comes upon a detour and soilders crawling all over Ludlow (pop.150). What gives? When the military won't let her through, Audrey smells a cover-up.
Turns out the entire town of Ludlow (pop.150) has been destroyed and there are no survivors. But you knew that, right? Well, Audrey doesn't buy it. In fact, she tells the C.O. in charge, "A town of 150 people just doesn't vanish!"
Internet rumor mongers, the Drudge Report, TMZ, Fox News, and US magazine are small potatoes compared to the fair citizens of Jordan, Ohio.
For years they have gossiped and whispered and prattled endlessly about the true parentage of one Mary Hagen (iconic child star Shirley Temple). See, Mrs. Hagen came home with a bundle of joy (after years of childlessness) on the very same night that poor rich girl Grace Gately arrived home after a mysterious illness. In fact, they came home on the very same train! What's more, Grace's broken hearted fiance Tom Bates (Ronald Reagan) later left town, vowing never to return. So of course it stands to reason that the Hagen's new baby girl has to be the out-of-wedlock fruit of Grace and Tom's collective loins. What other explanation could there possibly be?
Oh, gosh, um, well, that the Hagen's adopted a child and that Mrs. Hagen and Grace Gately simply arrived home on the same train home? Nah, that's too easy...
Thus begins "That Hagen Girl", a confusing, crack-pot "comedy-drama" from 1947 designed to launch ultimate child star Shirley Temple into adult stardom...yet ended up wrecking her career. And leading man Ronald Reagan's, too. At the time, though, Warner Brothers was so sure they had a hit on their hands they placed ads in Variety that predicted, "That Hagen Girl is Going to Make a Big Name for Herself." Unfortunately, when the movie-going got a whiff of the flick, they were more inclined to agree with the esteemed Bosley Crowther of the New York Times who exclaimed, "They shouldn't do such things to Shirley! It's down right un-American!"
Hello to you and yours, movie lovers! It's Fall and you know what that means: the kids go back to school. The leaves start to change color. The days grow shorter, the nights longer. The summer wind becomes crisper. Suddenly, it's Halloween, then Thanksgiving. And since Thanksgiving is a day devoted to turkey (among other gifts), it's especially beloved by bad film fanatics.
So why don't we kick off our pre-Thanksgiving celebrations by browsing at the Brooke Shields Cinematic Deli Counter, where customers can sample the wide varieties of turkeys Ms. Shields stuffed (under the watchful eye of her mother, Terri) during her heyday as a teen cover girl/aspiring actress.
"The Blue Lagoon" or The Naked Kiss
First up is 1980's "The Blue Lagoon", where Brooke co-starred with the first of several pretty boy himbos who had even less acting talent than she did. In this case, it's Christopher Atkins, who had never acted before--or since, despite appearing in several more films.
Set in the 1800's, "The Blue Lagoon" features Brooke and Chris as cousins who grow up isolated on a tropical paradise after their ship sinks. Because they have not been exposed/corrupted by society's hang-ups about sex and gender roles, the characters frolic innocently, naked and unashamed. Then puberty hits and the kids notice that, well, they look different. Later, the hormones roar on and before you know it, the duo are having S-E-X.
According to the flick, Brooke and Chris's eventual coupling is completely natural, unforced and just as God intended. It's also the whole reason the movie was made. Critical and moral guardians of the day, however, worried that impressionable young people would see Chris and Brooke doing The Wild Thang in the wild and would thus rush out and do it themselves.
Once upon a time, there was a tall, blonde, incredibly handsome fellow who became an above-the-title-movie star. His name was Troy Donahue and he was the undisputed teen dream of the late 1950's and early 1960's.
Troy had perfect hair, deep blue eyes, classic cheeck bones, a throaty voice, a penchant for wind breakers...and absolutely no discernable acting talent. The locations of his movies might change, his fellow cast members might be shuffled around, Troy might play someone named "Johnny" or "Parrish" or "Hoyt", but his flicks were all cut from the same cheese cloth: over wrought, over acted soap operas about the dangers of pre-marital hanky-panky. While Troy's leading ladies (Sandra Dee, Connie Stevens, Suszanne Pleshette) might shed copious tears and bemoan their tragic fates (well, not that tragic: sleeping with Troy could hardly be considered tragic), Donahue was always stiffer than a board, his drop dead gorgeous face as immobile as Mt. Rushmore, blinking his eyes and flaring his nostrils.
Troy remains the Gold Standard of teen idol success, a triumpth of style over substance. So why don't we take a long, loving look at Troy and the cinematic Velveeta which made him the Head Cheese of Movie Heart Throbs.
"A Summer Place"(1959)--It's vacation time at scenic Pine Island resort, where aristocratic drunk Arthur Kennedy and his long-suffering wife Dorothy McGuire hope to make enough money to send their glamour bomb son Johnny (Troy) to college. Among this season's crop of happy campers is Dorothy's long lost love Richard Egan, now a rich research chemist, his shrewish wife Constance Ford and their daughter Molly, played by the hyper perky Sandra Dee.
Normally, I write different material for my blog (http://Bad Movies and the Woman Who Loves Them.blogsot) and my Junk Cinema.com web-page. However, I'm going to make an exception in this case. Why? Because I have experienced the wackiest, nuttiest, goofiest, freakiest freak-out EVER captured on film AND I WANT AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE TO READ THIS POST AND THEN WATCH THE FILM.
The movie is 1967's "The Day The Fish Came Out", a black comedy/beach movie that combines misplaced nuclear weapons, dumb tourists, military incompetence, archaeology and Greek disco music with yokel locals, way-out fashions, bad dentistry and dead fish to create a feta cheese banquet that ranks up there with "Lizstomania" and "Zardoz" as one of the most hypnotically awful films ever made.
A movie like "The Day The Fish Came Out" could never see the light of day if it hadn't been the (fever) dream child of an insanely inspired alchemist. In this case, the guilty party is Michael Cacoyannis, who had previously scored an international smash with "Zorba the Greek" in 1964. It is Cacoyannis who not only wrote, directed and produced "Fish", he designed the way-out costumes, too. From start to finish, "Fish" is Michael's baby, his chance to comment on EVERY SINGLE SUBJECT UNDER THE SUN--and wherever Michael is today, he's no doubt beaming with pride.
Now, strap yourself in for the movie; it's a doozy.