|Sportswire||Sep 20 2013|
The death of boxing champ Ken Norton has produced some nice tributes, but we wanted to mention that he also made a couple of interesting movies. The one most worth watching is 1975’s Mandingo, a slavery tale that has gone unsurpassed for realism in depicting America’s antebellum South. A few movies are at the same level of historical accuracy (including the amazing Addio Zio Tom, which we’re going to feature here in a couple of weeks), but Mandingo remains notable for its sweaty, oppressive feel and rich cinematography. Norton wasn’t chosen for the pivotal role of Ganymede because he could act. He was chosen because of his physical build and good looks—the first was necessary for scenes in which his character takes part in brutal pit fights, and the second makes the movie’s subplot of forbidden sexual desire plausible. When we featured Mandingo a few years ago we didn’t recommend it fully, but any film which some prominent critics have hailed as a classic and was a clear influence on Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, but which Robert Ebert originally rated a zero has to be worth watching, if only to see what the fuss is all about.
|Vintage Pulp||Dec 11 2008|
Here we have a beautiful German poster for the classic sexploitation film Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. It starred a cast of dozens, and was directed by boob maven extraordinaire Russ Meyer. But believe it or not, the most important fact here is that the script was written by film critic Roger Ebert when he was young and, apparently, horny. Dolls follows the misfortunes of an all-girl band called the Carry Nations, as they’re sucked into the usual Hollywood vortex of drugs, booze, and soft-focus sex. Ebert may or may not want to lay claim to this effort, but we gotta tell you, the man is a frickin’ genius with dialogue. Everyone who’s seen the movie loves when Z-Man exclaims, “This is my happening and it freaks me out!” And it’s a good line. You’ll hear no demurral from us on that point. It isn’t farfetched to imagine Ebert saying that about his own creation. But as dialogue goes, we present for contemplation the less-cited Z-Man line: “You will drink the black sperm of my vengeance!” That is spun gold. In short, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls is one of the most fantastically entertaining bad films ever made, and we suggest you go rent it right now, and smoke a joint before you cue it up, because it’s even funnier when you’re stoned. The West German premiere was today in 1970.