#226 Jason and the Argonauts

Watched: March 02 2019

Director: Don Chaffey

Starring: Todd Armstrong, Nancy Kovack, Gary Raymond, Laurence Naismith, Niall MacGinnis, Patrick Troughton, Nigel Green, Honor Blackman, Douglas Wilmer

Year: 1963

Runtime: 1h 44min

jason

Source

Rejoice! Sister the Youngest is back in Norway and all is well. So here’s a classic action adventure to mark her return.

Jason4
Pictured: artist rendition of Sister the Youngest’s attempted return from her travels. It was epic.

Source

Zeus (MacGinnis) is throwing out prophecies to anyone who will listen, and as one would expect, some of them lead to murder. Pelias (Wilmer) decides to slaughter the entire royal family of Thessaly as its throne is his “destiny,” but one tiny baby escapes. Also, during the slaughter, Pelias manages to desecrate the temple of Hera, which pisses off the goddess, who vows to protect baby Jason (Armstrong. Well, once he grows up, that is).

Jason3
Growing up is such a relative term though

Source

Years later, Jason saves Pelias from drowning but the latter realises who his saviour is. When learning that Jason is interested in travelling to find the mythical Golden Fleece, Pelias sees an easy way to get rid of our hero, and he even sends his own son Acastus (Raymond) to make sure Jason fails. The gods offer their help as well, and Jason gathers a strong and brave crew and goes on one of the most epic journeys ever put on tape.

Jason5
Among their many obstacles: Ridiculously Ripped Metal Man

Source

Jason and his crew of Argonauts (named for the ship on which they travel) face many dangers, such as living statues, harpies, evil oceans, Triton himself (though benevolent in this case), traitors, love interests, Hydra, and fighting skeletons.

Jason6
“That’s the most foul, cruel, and bad tempered rodent you ever set eyes on!”

Source

We went into Jason and the Argonauts fully expecting a documentary about a bunch of people, possibly led by a “Jason,” going into Argos for an epic shopping spree, and boy were we disappointed!

argos.jpg
We were really looking forward to the fight against Agros’ own Scary Lamp Shade Lady™

Source

Despite our initial disappointment with the subject matter, we ended up really enjoying the squabbling Greek gods, the stop-motion special effects, the harpies and the skeleton army (we want one for Christmas if anyone’s feeling generous). It’s a fabulous epic in glorious Eastman color and a must for any fan of Ray Harryhausen. Or mythology.

Jason2
Please? Just a tiny little skeleton army? We promise to take good care of it and only use it to fight evil. And slightly annoying people who get on our nerves.

Source

Oh, and here’s Jason as we realise now that we’ve managed to not actually show his face in any of the pictures…

Jason7
“How dare you neglect my heroic visage!”

Source

What we learned: Hail Hydra! Oh no, wait. She’s dead.

Next time: Shock Corridor (1963)

#164 The 7th Voyage of Sinbad

Watched: February 19 2018

Director: Nathan Juran

Starring: Kerwin Mathews, Kathryn Grant, Richard Eyer, Torin Thatcher

Year: 1958

Runtime: 1h 28min

voyage

Source

Sinbad the Sailor (Mathews) is doing what he does best: sailing the seas. It’s not his best work though – he and his crew have run out of food and are desperate for land. Luck is on their side, however, and they come upon an island. But what sort of an island is it..?

voyage2
We reiterate: not his best work. The island is decidedly treacherous.

Source

The sailors save a stranded magician, Sokurah (Thatcher), from the island’s local cyclops, but during the commotion Sokurah loses his magic lamp to the monster. Sinbad refuses to go back for it as he has onboard his ship Princess Parisa (Grant) and does not want to risk her life. Especially as he is going to marry her and it would be a shame to be a widower before his wedding.

voyage3
“Darling, I love you, but if we’re gonna get married we need to lose the old woman. And that weirdo hairdo you’re sporting.”

Source

Sokurah is an unscrupulous bastard, and once they reach the safety of Baghdad he uses his magic to shrink Parisa in order to blackmail Sinbad into going back. Which works, as a marriage to someone 15 cm tall would be somewhat problematic.

voyage4
“But think of the money we’d save on food! And cinema tickets! You could just smuggle me into any venue in your pocket.” “Yeah, but… I foresee a host of other problems…”

Source

Sinbad does not want to risk the lives of his crew and recruits “volunteers” among the prison population of Baghdad, who immediately start plotting a mutiny. After an eventful journey, they eventually reach Colossa and go lamp-hunting. It turns out the island is home to more threats than a cyclops and an evil magician…

voyage5
Pictured: angry-eyebrow-skeleton-dude

Source

The 7th Voyage of Sinbad is a fun adventure with cool monsters and a simple but sweet princess. There are cyclopes, a genie (Eyer), caliphs, dragons, huge three-headed birds and skeletons. We’re slightly miffed we never watched this as kids, because we would have absolutely loved it. We did now too (though the white people playing Arabs have become a bit dated), we just wish we had watched it back when we used to read and love these stories.

voyage6
What we wouldn’t give to watch this epic battle between a dragon and a cyclops when we were innocent, sweet little children!

Source

Ray Harryhausen’s “Dynamation” technique is still magical, and we’re very glad we ended up having to buy this DVD. We’ll definitely watch it again, and introduce it to our niece and nephew once they’re old enough.

voyage7
“Stupid aunties making me wait until I’m old enough to watch people being barbequed by a huge monster.”

Source

What we learned: Don’t mess with magicians. Also, what happened to the first 5-6 voyages..?

Next time: The Fly (1958)

#75 La Belle et La Bête/Beauty and the Beast

Watched: January 8 2017

Director: Jean Cocteau

Starring: Josette Day, Jean Marais

Year: 1946

Runtime: 1h 36min

beauty1.jpg

Source

Belle (Day), the beautiful young daughter of a merchant, is being Cinderella’d by her rooty tooty snooty sisters after their family’s fortune was lost at sea. As her father gets word of one of his ships having reached port safely, he travels to the city to regain some of his fortune, only to find it has all been seized in payment of his debts. Returning home through a scary forest in a storm, he seeks shelter in a castle which seems abandoned yet has a marvelous feast set out for him.

beauty3
There’s nothing at all sinister or creepy about the place

Source

He spends the night in the castle and, when leaving the next morning, picks a rose for his daughter as that was her only request for a present. Big mistake. A frightful Beast (Marais) sets upon him and tells him he must die for this offence. The merchant manages to make a deal to go home home to see his family if he promises to return promptly or send a family member in his place. Belle, being the good daughter, offers to go to the castle instead of her ailing father.

beauty4
The pretty dresses and jewellry sort of make up for the creepy living statues and ornaments of her new home.

Source

Instead of finding a primitive beast ready to devour her, Belle meets a gentlemanly one who proclaims her mistress of the castle and himself her humble servant. She stays with him for months, and though every night she refuses his marriage proposal, they develop a friendship and companionship which is quite mutual, despite him looking like he’s always on the verge of reciting Shakespearean soliloquies. Case in point:

beauty5
We’d like to think his tendency to lurk behind her is more a kindness so that she won’t have to look at him, rather than something sinister. Despite the neverending marriage proposals.

Source

After a while, Belle finds out that her father is grievously ill and asks to go home to see him. The Beast agrees on the condition that she returns one week later, and gives her a magic mirror to see him, his glove which will return her to the castle whenever she’d like and, for some reason, the key to his fortune.

beauty6
“I’m sure there’s no way anyone would abuse that power”

Source

Of course, Belle’s cunty sisters, her idiot brother and his friend Gaston, uh, we mean, Avenant (also played by Marais), persuade her to stay on a bit longer, steal her key and decide to go kill the Beast and steal his fortune. However, Belle sees the Beast half dead from grief in her magic mirror and uses the magic glove to return to him at the same time her brother and Avenant arrive to dispose of him. There are declarations of love, the Beast transforms to his true princely form and all live happily ever after. Except for the intruders, one of whom is himself transformed (to take the Beast’s place as guardian of the castle? Of the afterlife? Of purgatory? Who knows?), but that’s their own fault.

beauty7
“Them bitches had it coming, trying to interfere with our strange and possibly Stockholm syndrome-induced romance!”

Source

Cocteau’s version is a very faithful adaptation of the traditional French fairy tale despite him, naturally, having taken some artistic licenses. Visually, this film is wonderful with amazing details, especially in the enchanted castle which is like Barbie’s Gothic Dream House – creepy but luxurious. The disembodied arms which act like servants and the half-living statues that adorn the halls and rooms are fantastic (in all senses of the word) and add an extra layer of surrealism and magic to the film. The costumes are extravagant, if not necessarily always flattering, and the beast is superbly made up.

beauty8
The food even looks appealing in black and white, which is impressive in itself

Source

If your only cinematic experience of Beauty and the Beast is the 1991 Disney version, we really recommend this one as well, as it is a very different perspective on the same story.

What we learned: women must learn to look beyond physical appearance, but the same is not necessary for men. Also, don’t trust your relatives – them bitches be greedy!

Next time: Notorious (1946)

#74 A Matter of Life and Death

Watched: January 15 2017

Director: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger

Starring: David Niven, Kim Hunter, Roger Livesey, Raymond Massey, Marius Goring

Year: 1946

Runtime: 1h 44min

a-matter
Also known by its alternate title

Source

As Peter Carter (Niven) is plunging towards certain death in a shot up plane May 1945, his final moments are shared with radio operator June (Hunter) and the two, as people are wont to do in these intense situations, fall in love. He ejects from the burning aircraft without a parachute and is surprised to find himself alive on shore some moments later. Surely, the fall should have killed him?

a-matter3
How much imagery of nudity, flutes and goats do you need to convince yourself you’ve reached hell?

Source

Turns out, it should have. Up on the celestial plane, the clerics are confused about the lateness of his arrival until they find that his Conductor, a very camp Frenchman (Goring), lost the pilot in the fog and thus neglected to collect his soul.

a-matter-5
“Bonjour! Je suis le campest Frenchman you’ll ever meet. Bon bon, mon petit fromage!”

Source

Unfortunately for the clerics of the afterlife, in the few hours of “extra” life Peter got, he met and fell in love with June which greatly complicates things. As he is not at fault here, is it fair to take him away just as he has found the love of his life? Since it was their mix up that caused this to happen, the celestial beings grant Peter a trial with his life at stake.

a-matter-4
Celestial trials have the most impressive courtrooms

Source

Meanwhile, in our own world, June has enlisted the help of a doctor friend of hers, Dr Reeves (Livesey, of Colonel Blimp-fame), as her new love is suffering headaches and possible hallucinations after jumping from a plane without a parachute… Naturally, the medical professional diagnoses Peter with head trauma and recommends surgery, to coincide with the patient’s heavenly trial.

a-matter6
Which leads to some beautiful shots!

Source

This was a beautiful and engaging film which we completely loved. The relationship between Peter and June is lovely, although a bit hasty. She’s either very wonderful or very naïve to stick by him when he starts talking crazy after they’ve known each other for all of a day. The trial becomes very political, and much of the criticism against England from the USA could have been modern criticism against the US, which is very interesting to observe (especially given the newly instated president..). It’s like both countries have a history of proclaiming themselves above others and trying to impose their rules on other nations…

The sets are beautiful and impressive, especially on the other plane.

a-matter7
Such as the stairway, or escalator, to heaven, for instance

Source

In a way, this film is like an opposite Wizard of Oz, as our world is in glorious technicolor while the other world is in drab black and white. Then again, our world is supposed to be the desirable one so it makes sense. A Matter of Life and Death has humour, excitement, adventure, romance, political undertones, history lessons, camp Frenchmen and gorgeous shoes! What’s not to love?

a-matter8
A film so good it has its own stamp!

Source

What we learned: make sure you have a law degree before cheating death. Also, we have found the winners of the mannequin challenge of 1946!

Next time: La Belle et la Bête/Beauty and the Beast (1946)

PS: confused about the numbering on this? Check out this disclaimer!

#48 The Wizard of Oz

Watched: October 02 2016

Director: Victor Fleming, Mervyn LeRoy, King Vidor, George Cukor, Norman Taurog (clearly, it takes a village…)

Starring: Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Jack Haley, Margaret Hamilton, Billie Burke, the Munchkins

Year: 1939

Runtime: 1h 42min

wizard

Source

Really? Do you really need a recap of this? OK, fine, let’s sum it up.

woo-slippers
Girl kills woman and takes her shoes as trophy (in her defense, they’re very pretty)

Source

wizard-of-oz-original1
Girl goes on adventure/quest with new friends

Source

wizard_of_oz_1180_monkeys_chasing_dorothy
Girl is chased by mutant minions of sister of first murder victim. She goes on to also kill the sister.

Source

glinda
Her enemies now slain, the pink, poofy witch finally lets girl go home to her own family

Source

We love it!

What we learned: there’s no place like home. Also, we do NOT trust that smug bitch Glinda.

Next time: Fantasia (1940)