Posts Tagged ‘70s’

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Christmas Eve on Sesame Street (1978/ Children’s Television Workshop/ Dir. Jon Stone)

Friends, Interneters, Countrymen? Look, lend me your eyes okay? I come not to bury Big Bird, but to praise him. The good men do, may sometimes live after then, while what little evils the commited may be interred with their bones. So let it be with Big Bird. Many hath told you Henson was ambitious? If it were so, it was a magnificent joy; and Henson hath answer’d it. You all did love him once,–not without cause: what cause withholds you, then, to mourn for him? O judgment, thou art fled to brutish beasts, and men have lost their reason!–Bear with me; my heart is in the coffin there with Henson, and I must pause till it come back to me.

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The Fat Albert Christmas Special (1977/ Filmation/ Dir.Hal Sutherland)

Doing holiday specials is a tough gig. Quite often, they’re produced as a fast buck idea. Something to throw at the screen during December, and if possible, break up the McDonald’s Commercials a little. Most the specials I have seen, and I’ve seen WAY more than I should, fit into this category. Particularly existing properties, like the Smurfs or He-Man, fit this mold.

You know what? We’re not going to mention another holiday special for the rest of this review. I’m going to show my hand early and just say it. This is good. I don’t want to taint that by comparing it to something less good. If it’s really good, it should be able to stand up on its own without putting something else down. And I think this is good, and I think it goes beyond a cynical cash grab, and I think it might really be worth your while.

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Wait, I’ve been away how long? It’s been when since I last wrote a review? Where was I during that time. Oh yeah, that. Well, if I don’t get back on that horse, I may never get back on. The problem of course is that the longer you’re away, the bigger your return needs to be. I need to go either really obscure or really popular. The problem is that I also need to get back up to speed, so I’ll go for something in between. This is both obscure and popular.

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Rollerball (1975- United Artists – Dir. Norman Jewison)

So this one has sort of an odd story. Rollerball was mentioned in the essay “You think that movie is bad?” and since then, Rollerball has become third in the list of search terms used to find this little blog. I found it sort of depressing that people might be coming here looking for a review of the movie and not finding one, despite it being one of my Sci-Fi Greats. So let’s talk about one of the truly great sci-fi/corporate nightmare movies. Really though, it’s just a dystopian movie because, there isn’t much that’s really advanced technology in the movie. Take away the strange TV sets and one scene with a laser gun and it could have happened in ‘75 when the movie was made. The only things that are required for this to become a reality are all social developments.

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The Fearless Hyena (1979/ Goodyear Movie Company/ Dir. Jackie Chan)

Really? All the movies I’ve reviewed and this is the first Jackie Chan movie? Huh, that’s odd. This is as good a place as any to start with Chan. As far as I’m able to tell, this is Chan’s first directorial effort, even though Kenneth Tsang helped out. The thing is, this is a really cheap movie. Really cheap. You know how Shaw Brothers movies tend to look like a poor man’s version of old Hollywood movies? No? Do we need a Shaw Brothers primer? Okay, note to self, review a Shaw Brothers classic sometime. Let me break it down quickly. A lot of the Shaw’s movies were studio bound in a way that soap operas would find embarrassing. I’ve seen Shaw films that have almost no exterior shots, despite the fact that much of the movie ostensibly takes place outside. One Armed Swordsman comes to mind. The Shaws did build a backlot, and used it to great effect, but many movies still have a great deal of indoor studio shooting. The reason I bring this up is that things like Fearless Hyena didn’t have as much money as a Shaw production. That’s my point. They’re not even as expensive as a poor man’s knock-off. However, along with more exterior shoots (the forest is CHEAP!) there is also a bit more soul here. Chan and company are working their butts off to produce a new kind of kung fu movie. It worked too, this movie even supplanted Chan’s break-out film Drunken Master as the highest grossing movie in Hong Kong.

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Incident at Blood Pass (1970/Toho/Dir. Hiroshi Inagaki)

Hey look, another Sanjuro movie that doesn’t actually have Sanjuro in it. Okay, I’ll make the history lesson quick to explain that statement. First things first though, this movie is actually titled “Ambush” and was changed to “Incident at Blood Pass” somewhere along the line. Now back to the history lesson that you don’t really care about. After Yojimbo, Toshirō Mifune spent more than a few years playing more or less that character in several movies. It wasn’t so much that he was being Sanjuro, as much as he had made that a stock style of character. A stock style that still exists to this day, and is portrayed by many an actor. This would basically be like Sean Connery playing a well dressed, suave spy after he ended his run on James Bond. So yeah, it’s a samurai movie where Mifune plays a strong, mysterious tough guy type.
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The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974 Rankin/Bass Productions Dir. Jules Bass & Arthur Rankin Jr.)

Oh goodie, Rankin & Bass! Because that’s always worked out well for us in the past, huh kids? You remember Rudolph? You remember ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas? Yeah, maybe now you know why I hesitate. The thing is, I remember this one being particularly painful, mainly because it’s the ultimate Rankin/Bass Christmas Story. One where Santa, tired of requests for Red Ryder’s Peacemaker, decides to quit. I know, you’re so shocked by this I can hear you gasping now. I mean, what are the odds, right? I mean he only cancels the trip just about every special he shows up in. Now, in some ways, this is a sequel to Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town, which I haven’t reviewed. You ever notice that most the time when I review a sequel I haven’t reviewed the original? I’ve noticed that if I don’t review the original first, it doesn’t get reviewed. Probably in the fullness of time, I’ll get around to it.

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A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973 Dir. Bill Melendez)


From his dopey, drugged out look I have to suggest he was watching “I love the 80s” on VH1

When this review was first written, this was the only other Thanksgiving special I could find in my collection. Someone told me that there are some more, but I’d have to watch TV shows I hate to find them so never mind. Using the two I’ve seen, I will now make sweeping generalizations about any and all Thanksgiving specials. They are heavily padded to make up for short scripts, they involve lots of costume changes, grandmothers not being up to the normal ideal of granmotherlyness, they all have jazz soundtracks, alternate menus for thanksgiving feature heavily as do the difficulties in food preparation and Drew Barrymore was hot in the 90s. That’s not actually part of the show, but this picture just popped up as my wallpaper and it sort of stopped me for a moment. Nothing serious but it did give me a second of “Whoa, she was hot there” and I thought I would share that moment with you as it might be the last enjoyable moment we ever share. After looking her up out of curiosity, she still looks really good actually. Enough of this tangent though! Let’s start the cartoon, shall we?

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