[Adv.] DAWDLERS! ... the movie you've been waiting for.
THE BARNEEZLES GUIDE TO THE BEST FILMS NOT FOUND ON VIDEO
[Some of the content of this feature previously appeared, in different form, within materials I wrote for Virgin Records America in the mid-1990s. Some of the titles here belong to real films (sometimes with their real release dates)... but there ends any resemblance.]
- And When We Say “Down Under” ...
Three koala bears in sports cars open a consignment shop underwater. The lack of customers is made up for by the big bowl of marshmallow fluff which doubles as a bowling alley. Screenplay written by somebody with glasses.
- Milk & Flakes (1958)
Three-hour musical version of the aphorism, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” Obviously an unassailable premise, but it wears thin after about four seconds.
- Johnny Brass (1960)
An obnoxious person shaped like a tuba barges into a small town and keeps everyone awake by shooting layups all night. Directed by someone in a fair isle sweater.
“A must for basketball lovers.” —Variety
- The Gorilla Man (6:39 p.m.)
Sir Laurence Olivier wears an ape mask and a pair of spotted boxer shorts in a rather pathetic attempt to convince us that he is an actual gorilla. And, let me tell you, the rainbow suspenders don’t help the illusion, either. On the other hand, the film is in 3-D, so the “toilet-papering the library” scene is alarmingly realistic.
“Look! Even Olivier is walking out of the theater!“ —New York Daily News
- What Price Glory? (1946)
The president of a respectable swizzle-stick firm decides one day to put a pair of Dr. Dentons on upside down (so that his head sticks out the flap) and then shuttle around the eastern seabord organizing kickball tournaments. Based on the novel A Thimbleful of Lint.
Sequel: All Right, I Give Up: What Price Glory?
- Hollywood's Finest Hour (1974)
Spare, straightforward tale of—well, like there’s this kind of, you know, like the type of guy who—you know? So anyway, he loses the watchamacallit to get into where—oh, but I forgot to say that first she’s on the boat with the thing—so all the confetti can’t be behind yet, but then it’s not, but I won’t spoil the ending.
- The Crystal Ball (1966)
A fortune teller’s crystal ball rolls off the table and breaks. She buys a new one and then tells the audience to go home.
Original British title: Casablanca.
- Don's Party (1965—marked down from 1995!!)
Idiosyncratic film made by Scotch-taping little pieces of frozen shampoo together in strict alphabetical order (alphabetical by shampoo brand, that is) and running it through a projector. Medicated shampoos appear separately at the end. The movie tends to melt in the projector and ruin the projection-room carpet, but this is otherwise a good film for general audiences to challenge to backgammon tournaments and throw Chiclets at.
- The Lady Takes a Sailor (1953)
British title: I Say, Old Chap, How 'Bout a Spot of Lady-Takin’-A-Sailor, Dash It All!
A 3 oz. can of tomato paste sheds its can and waddles up the Massachusetts Turnpike in search of the girl from the Coppertone billboards. Meanwhile, in a different movie, the lady takes a sailor. Hampered by poor casting (e.g., Cary Grant as the tomato paste).
“Give me back my sailor.” —She Took My Sailor Monthly
- Pass the Mustard—No, Never Mind
A talking tube of epoxy attempts to find work in the customized doughnut industry. Unfortunately, industrial restructuring has left few opportunities. Surprise ending.
Originally released as The Epoxy From Biloxi.
- A Girl, A Guy, and a Giant Eggplant Wearing a Tyrolean Hat
Standard romantic triangle filmed on location on the southwestern corner of Hollywood and Vine.
- Campus Dolls
An accounting firm considers adopting a new business insurance policy. Loses steam at the 4½-hour mark.
- Vive Illinois!
Sir Ralph Richardson vehicle about a rock and roll star who habitually oversleeps.
- Whaddya Gonna Do?
A fungus salesman loses the cap to his jar of pickles and is cranky the rest of the day.
- Hey, I Ordered This Without Slaw!
Two zebras in children’s sailor suits try to start a wholesale tuba business. But the giant stuffed zucchini who moves in next door has other plans, and a plaid suitcase!
- Blame It on the Night (1954)
This brown-and-off-white study of the complex relationships within the cheese compartment of a suburban refrigerator would be more enjoyable were the dialogue not 84 minutes out of sync and recorded through a pair of Radio Shack headphones in place of a proper microphone. Otherwise, this character melodrama is well acted, with the exception of the runnier species of Swiss Knight, who consistently refused to consult the script and instead sing arias from Mozart’s Marriage of Beethoven.
“Blame it on the director.” —Film Cheap Shots
- Everybody Sing (1966)
Trendy “reverse-psychology” film in which all that was projected onto the screen was a front-view of a movie audience appearing to look out at the real audience, who were in turn expected to respond with spontaneous shoot-outs, car chases, songs, love scenes, and witty dialogue—thus saving the producers a heckuva lot of money. The project backfired when the Screen Actors Guild sued the real audience, the real audience sued the fake audience, and director Stanley Kubrick sued planets Mars through Pluto inclusive for “getting in my light.” Nevertheless, the film was notable for inspiring Picasso’s “I’m just going to sit at home and not talk to anyone” period and Donovan Leitch’s Come to My Backyard and Argue with Me about Baseball album.
“They call th-this psychology?” —Bob Newhart
- Before Hindsight (1949)
A junior executive realizes that if he’d known his buddy were coming, he would’ve baked a cake.
- My Double Life
Andy Griffith plays a man who resides in one town but teaches industrial arts in another.
- Hollywood Formula Flick ’35
Hack musical comedy: Boy meets girl, boy makes cheese fondue for girl’s eccentric aunt, boy spills fondue on girl’s eccentric aunt’s carpet, boy accidentally changes his name to “Desky,” boy marries girl at a baseball card convention.
- The Second Hundred Years (1972; B&V [black and Velcro])
Characters spend a hundred years telling each other they have birthdays coming up, not noticing that in the meantime they keep missing all their birthdays because they’re too absorbed in the discussion of upcoming birthdays.
Dick Van Dyke as Jerry Van Dyke.
Jerry Van Dyke as Dick Van Dyke.
- Schrödinger’s Cat
An intellectual, while still a child, receives as a gift a pet mynah bird, which counsels him sagely, “Never take advice from mynah birds—bkaw!” Later in life, the same intellectual (played by a different actor) meets somebody for whom his ceramic cat has great sentimental value, since it once belonged to his mother’s best friend’s hairdresser’s mail carrier’s half sister’s accountant. The second reel of the picture is livened up by the appearance of a large, unbilled baked potato.
- The Lawrence Welk Story
Actors simulate the life of a beloved bandleader while my cousin Wendy, with whom I have chosen to attend this film, complains about the hotel she stayed at during her recent vacation. Meanwhile, Wendy informs me, Greg and Gary are quitting their jobs to start their own software company, at the same time that Angela is going back to school to get her PhD in linguistics. I ask whether this means that Angela won't be giving diving lessons at the JCC anymore; but Wendy doesn’t know, which is par for the course.
- Checkmate, or I’ll Trade You This Apple for a Glass of Mothballs
Footage of a fictitious chess match in real time. At every moment of this intense contest, the camera avoids showing the board to the viewer, focusing only on the faces of the players as they consider and make each move. The plot reaches a surprising climax when we discover that the director is a pretentious nut.
- Crossplot (1969)
American release of the British film Cro’s Splot. The movie had already been distributed and heavily advertised when the error in the title was discovered. The film tells the story of Cronin Pfnidge, inventor of the splot.
- Manny’s Orphans (1978)
Not-particularly-sentimental tale of a not-particularly-charismatic waiter who adopts four not-particularly-adorable baby eels. Children will fail to be captivated by this not-especially-engaging flick.
- Happiness (1934)
Little-known and commercially unsuccessful predecessor to Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. In this 70-minute black-and-white cartoon, we observe dwarf Happy’s journey from his original home on a tropical beach to the forest where the Six Dwarves dwell. Due to the lack of sound, we are often left guessing as to his motivations. What is perfectly clear, however, is that he looks terrible in a bathing costume.
- Zabriskie Point (1970)
Every time the big magazine journalist asks directions to Zabriskie Point, the locals reply that “It’s not polite to point.” This invariably cracks up the locals, who must be plied with free drinks to give a straight answer. And since most of them don’t actually know where Zabriskie Point is (especially after having been plied with drinks), the journalist has a long evening. Not as long as the audience, however.
- How Would You Like to Be the Ice Man? (1899)
[No need to answer—it’s just a film title.] Critics remain uncertain as to whether this 80-second kinetoscope release was intended for family viewing or bachelor parties. Though Kodak technicians eventually succeeded in restoring the only surviving print (which had long been encrusted in horseradish mustard), the actions, costumes, and props appear blurry to the point of ambiguity.
- Way Down in the Corn (1943)
Picaresque character study of two hapless drifters who vow to stop drifting as soon as they can find some haps. Their epic quest takes them from the coat-check room at the Stork Club to the stork-check room at the Coat Club. This may have been the first U.S.-produced film in which a nude pastrami sandwich played a double role (sandwich on plate; second sandwich on platter). [Note: The liquid pastrami in the martini glass was played by the director’s nephew.]
- Jet Pilot
George Kennedy comes over to your house, sits in front of your TV set, and pretends he’s flying a plane. Then he calls Jane Wyman long distance on your phone and raids your icebox. Entertaining but expensive.
- Maniac (1994)
“Do you have to run up and down the hall like a maniac?” queries Grandma. Twenty-three-year-old Julie explains that, yes, she is in fact required to do so—under the terms of a contract she has recently been awarded as a freelance hall-runner. Grandma eyeballs the contract, notes the repeated use of the word “maniac” in legally binding clauses, and is forced to admit that any attempt to interfere with this activity could risk putting Julie in an untenable position. In a pathetic attempt to save face, Grandma tries to show how smart she is by insisting that Julie could have held out for more residuals.
- Cat-Women of the Moon (1953)
Samuel Goldwyn thought that the original title of this film, The Louis Pasteur Story, was not “box-office.” In one of his most famous malapropisms, the mogul commented that “If I want to see a movie about Louis Pasteur, I can stay home and read a book.” Needless to say, the film did not fare well under its revised title.
- A Wind From Wyoming (1994)
Cy Blomphus is the biggest loudmouth in the entire state of Wyoming. When his wife gets a job as food critic for the New York Times, Cy learns the hard way that Manhattanites can be even more obnoxious than he is, and that nobody cares about his pencil collection.
- The Impossible Elephant (2001)
Escher the Logic-Defying Elephant is the pregnant male leader of a herd of square-root-of-negative-one pachyderms. In 1967, with the theme song from Man of La Mancha stuck in his head, Red Sox fan Escher hitches a ride on a giant airborne porcine to pursue his fantasy of helping Peter Graves fulfill tape-recorder-borne assignments. Alas, Escher is informed that the probability of his being hired is nil, because such an arrangement is “out of the question.”
- Oh Mikey! (2004)
A pop singer’s dead boyfriend is reincarnated as a microphone (Shure SM58, for product-placement buffs). In this state, he is able to amplify his feelings for her and finally receive the feedback he’s always craved.
- Machine Gun Mama (1944)
Every time Mama gets excited, she sputters enthusiastically and drenches her interlocutors with the “spray.” Her family has long been tolerant of this. But when Mama is suddenly appointed head mediator on the Federal Labor Relations Board, some industrial-strength imbroglios ensue.
Back to Monkeys 1, Typewriters 0 contents.
All content by Jonathan Caws-Elwitt. This page revised February 17, 2009.