A lot of truly great films came out in 1976, but Murder by Death wasn’t one of them. Critics kindly referred to it as “breezy.” Another word that popped up was “insubstantial.” Even some of the actors involved in the production were a little concerned about how it would be received. True,Murder by Death did not deliver high drama, nerve-rattling suspense, or any deep moral questions. What it did provide was a light, fluffy, humorous tone while being blatantly rude with political incorrectness. And the audiences loved it. They let their hair down, relaxed, and let loose with guffaws and hoots over simple gags and repeating jokes. The movie allowed them to indulge in guilty pleasures, leaving them gleefully tittering about how naughty they were. Murder by Death might not have been the highest grossing film that year, but thanks to receptive audiences, it did rank within the Top Ten for earnings. Murder by Death might never make it into “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die,” but you might want to consider it for an evening of frivolity. It also passes the Bechdel Test.
The Home of the Creative Mind
Welcome to PooBahSpiel, the online voice and home of the creative mind of Mark Monlux, Illustrator Extraordinaire. Prepare yourself for an endless regaling of art directly from the hand of this stellar artist. And brace yourself against his mighty wind of pontification. Updates are kinda weekly and show daily sketches, current projects, and other really nifty stuff.
Monday, June 27, 2016
Monday, June 20, 2016
George Lucas made a student film that caught the eye of Frances Ford Coppola. The two of them founded the studio American Zoetrope where they took the idea of that student film and expanded it into the full length movie feature THX-1138. It did not do well at the theater and critics of the day had differing opinions. But over the years, THX-1138 developed a cult following with both audiences and other film makers. You can find Easter eggs referring to THX-1138 in films by Lucas and other filmmakers. In fact you can find hidden references to the film in countless television shows, books and software. The setting of THX-1138 is a future in which mankind has been hollowed out into working drones whose purpose is to support the automated society governing it. The population is medicated and brainwashed. History is absent. The populaces are blank people living on a blank slate. Even the android policemen have blank chrome faces that show only a reflection. Consumption has no meaning as the content of the consumption has no meaning. THX-1138 shows what happens when the irregularities of the human condition rise from this imposed stupor. THX-1138 is an elegant science fiction movie that relies less on special effects and more of the underlying message of the conditions in which its characters are placed. If you’re wondering why the title of the film sounds so familiar, you might have seen the letters more than once when the sound system THX is being introduced at the start of a film.
Monday, June 13, 2016
Destry Rides Again is a well-constructed movie. It provides just the right amount of lush details so your suspension of disbelief is firmly established. A few shots of horses barreling down
dangerous mountain roads and a few head of cattle going past a fence and you completely discount the fact that nearly every scene is either inside a studio set or a backlot façade of a boomtown. A string of comedic elements and dialog entertains us so well that its somewhat thin storyline is overlooked. We are all wrapped up in the characters—the town drunk who gets appointed sheriff, the Iron Matron of the dance hall with a secret heart of gold, the easy mannered deputy with a sly mind, and the silent but crafty mayor. All of these roles are filled with well-accomplished actors and character actors. The true charm of Destry Rides Again is that there is nothing wanting. You get song, humor, action, suspense, and a tug on the heartstrings. While Destry Rides Again performed well at the box office, it was not an extravagant success at the time. However, and I think this is because of how well the movie was constructed, Destry Rides Again remains high on the list of memorable westerns. A couple of quick side notes: Destry Rides Again was James Stewart’s first Western. It was also credited with revitalizing Marlene Dietrich’s career.