Monday, May 17, 2010

Niagara Niagara

This is one of my favorite independent films from the 1990's.
You can now view the whole thing online for free here:
Hulu: Niagara Niagara
I am surprised it hasn't made it on to DVD yet.

The cast in this film is incredible.
Henry Thomas (yes, the same Henry Thomas that starred in ET)
& Michael Parks (Then Came Bronson)
Robin Tunney (great actress...but this is the only film she was in that I really liked. And is it just me, or does Kristen Stewart look exactly like her?)

Another overlooked independent film that I loved is The Zeros from 2001.
It also features a former child actor in a mature role: Mackenzie Astin.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Unofficial Scott Jacoby fanclub newsletter

Rare Scott Jacoby movies... Now on DVD.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I have had a decade long obsession with the actor Scott Jacoby. A good part of my twenties was spent tracking down the original 16mm prints of movies Scott starred in. Until recently, most of his movies have been totally unavailable. But it seems like there are other Scott fans out there too.
Here are the list of Scott movies now on DVD.

The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane (amazon)
Our Winning Season (amazon)
Bad Ronald (Warner Archive)
That Certain Summer (modcinema)
No Place To Run (modcinema)
The Man Who Could Talk To Kids (modcinema)
Smash Up On Interstate 5 (modcinema)

My two favorites, however, have not been released on DVD:
update: Rivals has been released on Code Red DVD. Check
I imagine someone will get to archiving these soon.
I still have my old VHS copies.

Also of note are two musicals that Scott appeared/sang in are now available on compact disc. They are:
Cry For Us All
Golden Rainbow

Scott's self titled LP is still only on vinyl. Someone release it on cd. Please?
And while you're at it, how about the Dandelion Wine Musical soundtrack (that Scott also sings on). Or the vinyl record of The Door In The Wall (a book on tape which Scott narrates). And let's not forget the rare Scott Jacoby single "Ride A Wild Horse". Wow!

What else...So many Scott TV appearances. Check him out on the Golden Girls, for instance. He appeared in a couple of episodes. Get 'em from Netflix or the library! I am hoping that Shout Factory's release of Marcus Welby Season 1 does well and they will continue putting out box sets. Scott appeared in some great episodes in later seasons.

For clips of some Scott movies, please check out my Youtube site.
I also have more Scott photos & info here: Scott Jacoby forever!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Confessions of a Teenage Baboon

Paul Zindel has written some of the most heartbreaking, funny and personal YA books of all time. My absolute favorite is Confessions of a Teenage Baboon.
Zindel also retold this story in the format of a play titled Amulets Against The Dragon Forces. The play ends on a slightly different note than the novel (won't give it away here). I think Confessions is Zindel's most personal book. It's definitely one that I've reread several times.

In the play, an important character's name is altered from Lloyd to Floyd. Also, strangely, a character with this same name appears in Paul Zindel's only attempt at writing a novel strictly for an adult audience When A Darkness Falls. I believe that book was written when Zindel moved to Hollywood and it's really a lot different from his other books. I can't begin to explain how much I love Zindel, but I would not recommend this adult book. It brings a seriously disturbing light to this character not seen in his novel or play. It seems that Zindel was battling with these dark demons his whole life. The monster books he wrote near the end of his career such as Loch or Rats better channel this energy. Amulets Against the Dragon Forces is not nearly as well known as his Pulitzer Prize winning play The Effect of Gamma-Rays on Man In the Moon Marigolds. Personally, I think it's a better play and would love to see it performed some day. It's the only one of Zindel's plays that truly captures the feel of his YA books.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The May - September romance

I am fond of this genre of movie...the romance movie where a young girl falls in love with an older guy. Probably the best example of this is the made-for-tv movie Sooner or Later by Bruce and Carol Hart. Bruce wrote the music as well (also known for composing the Sesame Street theme song). The cool thing about this movie is that Bruce and Car0l also wrote novels, 2 of which are sequels to the film. Bruce and Carol also worked on the short lived TV Show Hot Hero Sandwich (sort of like The Electric Company , but for teenagers).

Then, there is the May-September romance, where a young girl falls in love with an older, I mean really OLDER man. The best examples of this that I can think of are Circle of Two with Tatum O'Neal and Richard Burton (directed by Jules Dassin) and Breezy with Kay Lenz and William Holden (directed by Clint Eastwood).

Surprisingly enough, all of these movies are readily available on DVD.

There are also two episodes of Little House on the Prairie that deal with a romance between an older man and younger girl.  The first is an episode from Season One with Dr. Baker.  The second, is an episode I much prefer from season Nine, titled "Love".  It guest star Jill Schoelen, a really pretty girl with a voice that I love.  Her character is an old friend of Laura's and she is blind.  Mr. Edwards (Victor French) becomes friendly with her and they fall in love.  Mr. Edwards feels guilty about his feelings.  When the girl gets her vision back, she still has feelings for Mr. Edwards but he decides against pursuing her.    This is probably my second favorite episode of this program after the very excellent (and disturbing) episode entitled SYLVIA from season 7.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Larry Cohen's Bone

Larry Cohen's BONE (aka Housewife) is one of my favorite films. I expected blaxploitation, but instead what I got was an independent film (Cohen's directorial debut) that is a sort of absurdist play on racism and middle class values.  Yaphet Kotto is brilliant in the lead role.  Well, Yaphet Koto is brilliant in everything, but never did his presence show so much range.  And Jeannie Berlin (Elaine May's daughter) is equally as exciting to watch in a smaller part.
Everything about this film is perfect to me: the color, cinematography, script, acting.   The house used in the film was Cohen's actual home at the time.
I suppose there will never be an independent film made quite like this one.  It was the beginning of a long and exciting career for Cohen as writer/director.  My other Cohen picks are the ones that star Michael Moriarty (The Stuff and Q: The Winged Serpent) which are also, in a sense, strange social satires.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Scott Jacoby: International Star!

For your viewing pleasure: A couple of the rarest Scott Jacoby items out there. Foreign edition VHS cover for RIVALS (aka Deadly Rivals), Scott's first feature length starring role. This is the best movie Krishna Shah (The River Niger) ever directed and don't let the bad reviews convince you otherwise. Also stars a young Robert Klein. After his father's death, a young boy competes with her mother's new boyfriend for attention. He will stop at nothing! This horror film includes some of the strangest moments of Scott's career ever. A weird make-out scene with the babysitter, walking on the subway tracks, fighting with punks in Central Park West. Worth seeing alone for the beautifully shot on location scenes of New York City in the 1970's. Add on to that a brilliant soundtrack by the composer Peter Matz (who worked with Liza Minnelli, etc.), and this is a must see.
The second item is a German released single from Scott's only solo album (self-titled LP). Who knew Scott was popular in Germany? The LP has never been released on CD. Other recordings that feature a young Scott singing include a musical version of Dandelion Wine and two other Broadway flops: Cry For Us All and Golden Rainbow. The latter are both available on CD. Scott also read the book on tape (record, actually) for the Newbury award-winning children's book A Door In The Wall.

Der Kerl liebt mich - und das soll ich glauben?
Now available with english subtitles from

I've wanted to say something intelligent about this film since I hung up the poster in my apartment:

Visually, a 60's era Uschi Glas reminds me of a German version of Anna Karina. But a Godard film this is not. It's more a slapstick comedy/romance. Still, very Mod like decor throughout, a psychedelic disco scene, some funky German architecture. The DVD is part of the Uschi Glas Box set available in Germany, but there aren't any English subtitles. Great fashions throughout the film and the music isn't half bad either.

Also, if anyone reading this happens to know where I can get a copy of this Japanese Uschi Glas album (above) , please let me know.

Marcus Welby: The Acid Test

Marcus Welby fascinates me. He is a family doctor and so much more. I love how he gets involved with every aspect of his patient's lives. How he acts as a friend as well as a professional. In a sense, he views his medical duties in the same way that Angela Landsbury solved mysteries in Murder She Wrote. By looking beneath the surface, by considering all physical and psychological components of the individual's health and life. Marcus Welby is "Father Knows Best", an ideal father figure who you know and love. While his assistant, the motorcycle riding Kiley represents the younger generation, giving the show a younger more hip appeal. Think "The Rookies" as opposed to any cop show that came after it.

I think the psychological component is what makes Marcus Welby a standout for me, seperating it from other medical dramas. The setting is not the hospital. Instead, it is the households of the people he helps. And the doctor is never the main character in the series. The patients are. Each episode focuses on complex problems that combine the medical with the psychological. A closeted gay father attempts suicide, a boy with an alcohol problem learns to face his fears, etc. Each episode stands alone as a movie. I appreciate this forever changing cast of characters.

Anyway, I wish this got an official DVD release because the only episodes I have seen have been those taped off television. *update: Season 1 and 2 now available from Shout Factory). Of course, the reason I discovered the show in the first place was because Scott Jacoby appeared in several of the episodes (as different characters) and I collect pretty much anything that he has appeared in. I even based a comic (the first story in my book Dirtbags, Mallchicks and Motorbikes), loosely, on the Marcus Welby episode "Jake's Okay".

Recently, I read a paperback book in the Marcus Welby Series. #2, The Acid Test. I believe these books are independent of the show, in other words, not novelizations of episodes. It was a good read. The premise involved a college professor, a political science teacher. He gets involved with student affairs and then begins acting irrationally. He believes he is going insane and is afraid that his actions will effect his family. Welby and Kiley try to discover the root of the problem, believing that it is psychological. Eventually though, they discover that the Professor was drugged (LSD in the punch bowl!) which is causing him to have acid flashbacks.
Again, this reminds me of a Rookies episode with Scott Jacoby (the one where he puts acid in hamburgers in the High School lunchroom). Anyway, in retrospect, this subject matter may appear silly...but it isn't. I choose not to view these stories with irony. This was television that dealt with real issues and had stories about real people, rather than just glamour and action. I like the slow pace and moral standards upon which these programs are modeled around.