Thursday, August 04, 2011

Movie House of Memory: Hey! Who moved the furniture?

Trying to jumpstart a stalled theme, I reached back into memory for movies seen early on, and found broken connections. I could not remember the title of one, though it made an impression. Another apparently faded out of existence, and I was just plain wrong about the last title. Jarring to one who values a here-to-fore excellent memory.

A single detail of the first could be recalled; the title eluded me. Dog-like creatures in cages of fire attacking a planet. I didn't say the thing was worth remembering. A slog, not a 'surf', on the web was called for. Cycling through the list of 'sixties science fiction films, one sparked a memory. A still photo later, and I had it. The title is "The Phantom Planet", released in 1961. Young master RR was enthralled, there in the dark, watching the Solarites attack the planet where a tiny astronaut was marooned: tiny because the atmosphere had a shrinking effect on people. Rubbish, but magic to a nine year old kid.

No problem remembering the next movie. Details could be recalled, as well as the title: "Puss n' Boots". There are many versions out there: this one was unique. 'Live' actors, in costume, absolutely creepy. A vivid bit branded onto my brain: Puss, drinking with the evil sorcerer, convinces him to show him what he can do. The sorcerer, in his cups, changes himself into a mouse. Puss chases him around the joint, grabs him, and eats him. Whoah! The thing is, a search of IMDB listed several versions of the tale ,but not this one. As we librarians say: "If we can't find it, you don't need it". I needed this title. I dug more and found the movie and the interesting story behind this title. You can read about it here.

The last, and to some the least, was a Three Stooges film. The problem:it was presumed to be one of their late films, with Joe Besser. I ordered it from Netflix, and it was different. Back to the interweb. I had details mixed up. The one I remembered was not a feature movie, but a short ("Space Ship Sappy"), indeed with Joe Besser. "The Three Stooges in Orbit" with Joe DeRita, the film I ordered, was an entirely different kiddle of fish. Maybe the blending of details and titles was proof of the caution our parents gave us when we watched the boys: "that stuff will rot your brain". Or the ravages of time and too much rubbish. That is okay: at least I got to see and remember them this long, even if I was wrong.

1 comment:

Barrett Bonden said...

Two films with whiskers: The Man With My Face (1951 which means I was 16 - funny I thought it was earlier) in which Barry Nelson the star (?) played the twin roles of Charles "Chick" Graham and Albert "Bert" Rand but I was left hopelessly in love with Carole Matthews who played Mary Davis. The usual unbelievable rubbish about identicals.

More memorably: Flaxy Martin (1949) starring Virginia Mayo and Zachary Scott, a genuine noir created long before the term noir was invented. Seen at a cinema which we always referred to as The Bug'ole, true name now forgotten. This was one of the few Mayo films (and I saw most of them) in which she acted rather than merely emoted, possibly because she played a bad girl.

But the earliest film I remember, possibly the first film I ever saw, was a true masterpiece The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, directed by the inimitable Powell and Pressburger and starring the usually underrated Roger Livesey. I have seen it several times since, mainly to appreciate it but also to confirm why, at age 8, I found it so mystifying. The story consists of innumerable flashbacks, some of the f/bs within f/bs.

Three Stooges films, seen only at Saturday afternoon matinées, were memorable for one thing: the absolute conviction that none of the face slapping or head banging was faked. The expression on Moe's face in particular seemed to proclaim the death of a million brain cells every time he was slugged. It was strange to see my favourite matinée cowboy, the tough and gritty XX Steele (first name forgotten), turning up in a trilby in various quite famous gangster films, As if he had entered the wrong wardrobe department.