The Harrad Experiment (1973) Ted Post

harrad-experiment-1973-don-johnson-laurie-walters-hdex-003p-bkd2jmRobert H. Rimmer’s 1966 novel, The Harrad Experiment, was a moderate success when first published in hardcover. One year later, Bantam Books published the paperback version, and the book exploded selling over 300,000 copies in one month, eventually selling over three million. Rimmer, who died in in 2001, wrote close to twenty books, both fiction and non-fiction, most, if not all, focusing on unconventional, free love relationships outside the norm of monogamy. The Harrad Experiment was his most successful work spawning a second related nonfiction book called The Harrad Letters to Robert H. Rimmer. Continue reading

Who Killed Teddy Bear (1965) Joseph Cates

whokilledteddybear-1600x900-c-defaultConsidering the subject matter, it’s amazing that the low budget, Who Killed Teddy Bear was released in 1965. The film is a smorgasbord of Production Code taboos broken one after another: incest, masturbation, homosexuality and more. It all set in the seedy lurid world of 1960’s slime filled Times Square. It’s an oddity for sure, and a definite bump up above the typical sexploitation movies that decorated the deuce and Times Square back in the day, if for no other reason than the cast includes Sal Mineo, Juliet Prowse, Jan Murray and Elaine Stritch. One other reason to watch is due to the gritty, noirish cinematography provided by Joseph C. Brun (Odds Against Tomorrow, Edge of the City). One word of warning. Though over fifty years old and not as graphic as films today, Who Killed Teddy Bear may still be unsettling for some. Continue reading

Murder by Contract (1958) Irving Learner

Murder-by-Contract-1In a 1993 interview with The New York Times, Martin Scorsese talks about the influence Murder by Contract had on the then teenager. “It’s an example of an American B-movie that is 100 times better than the film it played with on a double bill.” He then went on to explain, “The film it was playing with when I saw it was ‘The Journey,’ by Anatole Litvak, with Yul Brynner. That film had nice color, but when ‘Murder by Contract’ came on the screen, it was surprising and lean and purposeful, and not like anything my friends and I had seen. Afterward, we talked about it on the street for days. When I saw it again years later, I was overwhelmed by the severity of the style, which was dictated by the budget.” Scorsese later said in the interview how he put a clip from the film in ‘Mean Streets, ‘ but he had to remove it out of the final cut of the film because it was too long. Continue reading

Heaven Help Us (1985) Michael Dinner

MSDHEHE EC003An almost forgotten film from the mid-1980’s, Heaven Help Us is a wonderfully executed coming of age story. While the film will definitely strike a chord with Catholics, I can say honestly it will speak to almost anyone who was once a teenager, and that’s all of us. Continue reading

Between the Lines (1977) Joan Milken Silver

LinesI have always had an affinity for newspaper themed films. As a kid in Junior High, I had, for a short period, illusions of being a newspaper reporter. I’m not sure what exactly sparked this interest, but while the desire to be a reporter died my love of films with newspapers/reporters has remained strong. Billy Wilder’s Ace in the Hole, Sam Fuller’s Park Row, Alan Pakula’s All the President’s Men, Howard Hawks’ His Girl Friday, Alexander MacKendrick’s Sweet Smell of Success, Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane, Phil Karlson’s Scandal Sheet, Richard Brooks’ Deadline U.S.A. and more recently Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight are just some of my favorites.  As you can tell from this small list, newspaper reporting can be an heroic endeavor or it can be down and dirty, even scandalous. Continue reading

The Visitors (1972) Elia Kazan

IMG_1395One of the earliest films about the American involvement in Vietnam is the little known A Yank in Vietnam (1964). The film was directed by and starred Marshall Thompson. It was made in Vietnam before the escalation, the large buildup of American troops, and the anti-war fever back at home. Produced during these early years of the conflict, the film is free of all the political baggage that came only a few years later.  As the American involvement in the war grew and the war became more and more unpopular at home, Hollywood saw Vietnam as a hot potato to be avoided. Continue reading

Private Property (1960) Leslie Stevens

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Private Property is an independent film from 1960 about two young and dangerous drifters who spy on and eventually work their way into the home of a beautiful young married woman. At the time of its release, the film was condemned by the Catholic Legion of Decency for its lascivious themes and violence. Thought to have been lost for many years, Private Property is a voyeuristic journey into the minds of the morally corrupt. Corey Allen, of Rebel without a Cause fame and later a TV director, and Warren Oates star as the two vicious losers out for a good time at any expense.

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The Victors (1963) Carl Forman

victorsThe Victors has had a long history. Released in 1963, it was quickly pulled and edited, then released back out to the public. Since then the film has been hard to find and when it has been available, there have been multiple edited versions. It’s been a film I have been wanting to see for many years. Recently, a local cable station showed the film on Memorial Day (I wrote this a few months ago and never published it) giving me the chance. Which version I have no idea, but it did not disappoint. Continue reading

Getting Wild in the Streets

Wild2Back in 1968, Wild in the Streets was AIP’s low budget youth generation attempt at political satire. Directed by long time TV director Barry Shear (The Todd Killings) it stars James Dean clone Christopher Jones as twenty-four year old rock star Max Frost. Max is charismatic, and he  rallies the American youth with songs like “We’re 52%” and with plans to take over the political process making the rock singer himself President. Not trusting anyone over 30 is their mantra. It’s time for the youth generation to take over country. After all, it was all these “old timers” who got us into every mess since the beginning: war, famine, racial hatred, poverty, etc. Max’s plan is collect all the “old” people and put them into concentration type camps feeding them LSD so they will trip out and not harm anyone or their pitiful older shelves.  This even includes Max’s own parents from his trouble childhood. With the “old” folks in storage, Max sees no need for war. It’s all sex, drugs and rock and roll. He disbands the military as well as the FBI and The CIA. If your under 30 the world will be peachy. The unanswered question is what happens to Max and all the others once they reach the despicable age of 30? Continue reading

Half a Hero (1953) Don Weis

   Hero1   America in the early 1950’s was on a high. The war was over, the boys were home, a baby boom was in full swing and the economy was growing. Many folks were beginning to leave the city and head out to the white picket fence world of the suburbs. In the suburbs, away from the hustle and bustle of the city, people were living what many thought was the American Dream.  Continue reading