Monthly Archives: January, 2015

Hold On! (1966), directed by Arthur Lubin

Hold_On!_1966_movie_poster♦♦½

A boy wants to fall in love. An actress wants to be famous. And the kids of American astronauts want to name the new Gemini rocket “Herman’s Hermits.” And I thought the 60s were radical.

But, then, there never was anything radical about Herman’s Hermits. That’s “Herman,” Peter Noone, and four other guys whose names are probably one of those Trivia Crack questions nobody ever gets right. Including me, and I own more than one Herman’s Hermits album, one of which is the soundtrack for this film. For the record, they are Karl Green, Keith Hopwood, Derek Leckenby, and Barry Whitwam. They’re all in this movie, though they rarely speak other to remind Herman that he’s the leader and that’s his job.

Shelley Fabares plays the girl Herman falls for. Her performance is like a breadcrumb in the past of Christine Armstrong of Coach, featuring some of the same mannerisms. She even gets to sing a song.

Since I mentioned a soundtrack, that begs the question whether there is any reason to see the film. Now hang on; gimme a minute to think. To be honest, this is harmlessly entertaining fluff, with a good bad joke and one truly funny line, and a gaggle of go-go girls to goad you into a nostalgia trip.

But if you like Herman’s Hermits, it’s foot-tappingly fun. Story goes that the film was going to be named after a different song, but then somebody realized that “A Must to Avoid” probably wasn’t a message they wanted to send to the moviegoing public. The natural title might have been “Make Me Happy,” but that’s Fabares’ song.

Oh, well, they’re all good songs. Come to think of it, that is pretty radical.

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The Omen (1976), directed by Richard Donner

Omen-movie♦♦♦½

Solid horror film starring Gregory Peck and Lee Remick as the unfortunate parents of the Anti-Christ.  With Patrick Troughton as a priest who tries to warn Peck and David Warner as a paparazzi who discovers dark premonitions in his photographs.  Several of its horror scenes have become iconic, including a spectacular beheading.  Weakened only by the lack of a clear antagonist:  Damien, the boy, behaves mostly like any other five year old kid, leaving it to the Devil himself to work his evil from off-screeen.  Greatly superior to the novelization, also written by David Seltzer.

The Omen (1976) by David Seltzer

Omen-book♦♦½

Novelization of the film, also written by Seltzer. On  its own, a semi-decent horror thriller about an American ambassador in London unwittingly raising the Anti-Christ, a young boy named Damien. Might have been better if written by a novelist, who could have given the dialogue more punch, the action scenes less of a cinematic flavor, and more depth to its religious themes. The popcorn version of Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist.

Get Yourself a College Girl (1964), directed by Sidney Miller

Get_Yourself_a_College_Girl_FilmPoster

♦♦½

Rock and roll movie featuring, among others, The Dave Clark Five, The Animals, and The Standells. And Nancy Sinatra as a married co-ed who spends nearly the entire film shacked up with her husband in a ski lodge, appearing periodically in different lingerie. Early feminist effort that has the star, Mary Ann Mobley, singing the title tune, with lyrics that promote the desirability of college women on the basis of their allegedly superior knowledge of s-e-x. Not very entertaining despite all this, but worth it for Jimmy Smith performing “Comin’ Home Johnny” and Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto performing “The Girl From Ipanema.”

Godzilla (1998), directed by Roland Emmerich

Godzilla_(1998_Movie_Poster)

♦♦♦♦

Terrific monster movie that is both fun and funny, with a pleasing cast of characters and an effective interpretation of Godzilla. Panned by critics — most famously by Roger Ebert, who is lampooned in the film — many of whom saw too many similarities to Jurassic Park in its effects and probably didn’t want to offend Spielberg by enjoying it. Matthew Broderick is very good as a happy man in not always happy circumstances and Jean Reno plays the surprising role of a French agent with amusing aplomb. Action-packed and exciting, with a clever twist in the middle that keeps Godzilla himself from becoming boring. Simply one of the best.