Saturday, September 8, 2007

Recommended Viewing

Pixie Paddle School (1971) Trent Keller filmed this crime drama during a period of extensive oral surgery, so his character, Pipe Fanlin, a jaded ex-priest-turned-karate-fop, is hard to understand. But this is a minor quibble -- rarely has the serial-killer-goes-surfing genre seen this kind of driven narrative and emotional intensity. I especially like Gayle Hunnicutt's bikini-clad mathematician who steals the banjo picking contest. Solid, toe-tappin' work.

The Dork (1982) Dreadful, pointless remake of Steve Martin's "The Jerk", though it does have some interesting moments. Dexter Coovis' mechanical slapstick is so awful that it goes beyond funny and into another world of artless appreciation. His insistence that his head is welded to a ridiculously large manhole cover while trying to renew his driver's license goes on for a whole eight minutes, and is perhaps the most honest attempt to insist that something's funny when it isn't that I've ever seen. With Ernest Borgnine as Sorcerer Sam.

Those Lilies Mean Business (1987) Candy Filmore makes nary a wrong move in this techno-driven spy-thriller, and her seduction scene in the tadpole room belongs in any serious film retrospective. The problem with this effort is the tedious subplot about scorpion farming, which makes some sense in the climactic final scene atop the floating Big Boy mascot in Fresno, but it simply takes too long for us to get there. Still, this is a very gripping film, and you may never wear sandals in the shower again.

Cumin Chin Music (1968) What do you get when a discredited maraca dealer hooks up with a supermarket mascot, Mr. Onion Dip? Perhaps one of most rollicking, sentimental road comedies since the Bucket & Bees shorts of the 1930s. Alf Krest and Doyle Reems display perfect chemistry as they roll through a pretend desert, the biggest gas station in the world, a men-in-gorilla-costumes convention, Trampoline City, pine-scented sewage, a hula dancing school for felons, as they search for the Wurlitzer sheet music that will make the incessant buzzing in their heads go away. Watch for Martha Raye's cameo as a war-weary tent squatter.

Length Is A Matter Of Opinion (1976) A human brain is placed inside a disco ball, giving the glittering sphere intelligent life, which is wasted on an obsession with dog racing. But it is at the dog track where Spin Brite (voice of Tim Matheson) meets his true love, a cocky, self-made pretzel tycoon, Sheba Morse (Kari Henze), who thinks the world owes her plenty of salt and nothing else -- that is, until Spin melts her cold, cynical heart, which nearly kills her, but she is brought back from the brink as Spin enlists the help of a retired taxidermist (Slappy White) who turns Sheba into a plush, leather sofa. United at last, Spin and Sheba prepare a Bicentennial celebration the likes of which St. Louis has never experienced. The surprise ending will make you question human existence, but in an upbeat way.