Friday, April 28, 2006

"Rewatching Favorite Flicks"

Stayed up late last night and watched for the gilmillionth time one of my favorite flicks, the 1950 King Solomon's Mines, starring Stewart Granger and Deborah Kerr, and based on the 1885 novel by a favorite writer as well, H. Rider Hagard.

Granger embodies the spirit of "the great white hunter" to a t as he portrays the part of adventurer Allen Quatermain, and it is a part I'd never seen played well until Sean Connery did his bit in "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" (a movie with excellant actors even if it was more than loosely based on Alan Moore's work by the same name).

For those not in the know about the central character of this film, Haggard wrote not just the one adventure of Quatermain, but a whole series. As for myself, consider him to be the greatest adventure writers of the 1800's.

It's always great to see the "stampede scene" in this film, with Quatermain and his party taking shelter behind a short row of stones, trying to fire upon the appraching, thundering hooves of zebra, antelope and wildebeests running frantically and literally jumping over them as they attempt to flee from a wild brush fire. This particular scene was recycled into a number of later African-hunter-type flicks virtually uncut. Lord knows that had I lived in the 1800's, I'd wanted to travel to The Dark Continent myself due to Hagard's vivid descriptions!

And, before I left for work yesterday morning, I caught about an hour of another favorite 1950's flicks, Forbidden Planet, made in 1956 in the height of the cold war scares, UFO phenomena, and sci-fi crazes. Considered somewhat campy today, this was still one of the best of that time's science-fiction offerings, with Leslie Nielsen playing the captain of a space ship landing on a planet, once inhabited by super-intellient beings, but now whose only souls were "squaters" Walter Pidgeon and his beautiful, young daghter played by the luscious Anne Francis.

Played seriously, it still makes me want to laugh every time Neilsen opens his mouth due to his numberous humor flicks of the past decade or more. It's difficult for me to take him as a dramatic actor when he's just so damn good at comedy. But this old flick has all one would want from a sci-fi movie of its time, including riotous space uniforms, "spirting" ray guns, an animated monster from the id, alien technology and landscapes, the first appearance of "Robby the Robot" all blended together to make a love story! One of what I think's is the most interesting things is about this movie is the design of the earthly spacecraft, which diverts from the usual cone-shape well-thought-of of that era, to that of a "flying saucer"; a very original tactic to pull in such a film when aliens and their crafts were thought of in hostile terms.

Instead of a Top 10 favorite all-time flicks, I could probaby list a hundred, but these two I've just mentioned definately go up there in my ten faves, along with such films as the original "King Kong", "The Ten Commandments", "Arcenic & Old Lace" (among others).


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