Vintage Movies: “Charlie Is My Darling”

MAGNET contributing writer Jud Cost is sharing some of the wealth of classic films he’s been lucky enough to see over the past 40 years. Trolling the backwaters of cinema, he has worked up a list of more than 500 titles—from the silent era through the ’00s—that you may have missed. A new selection, all currently available on DVD, appears every week.

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Charlie Is My Darling (1965, 90 minutes)

The Rolling Stones in 1965 were something to behold. “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” had just terrorized the charts, and the Stones were a dead certainty for stardom. Especially striking are Mick Jagger and Brian Jones (who died in in 1969), the two pinup boys of the band. Jagger did almost all the talking-head segments for this beautifully shot but never released black-and-white doc. He waxes on about why this was happening to them in Ireland, just weeks before a crushing tidal wave would envelope America with a force that still resonates today. The Animals and the Dave Clark 5 would never again be considered serious contenders for the Beatles’ throne once the Stones sunk their hooks into America.

“Pop music is ephemeral,” says Jagger. “When we first got into the charts we figured we’d be around for about a year, and then it’s all gonna be over.” Then it’s a quick cut to a teenage Irish girl, waiting in a queue outside the theater where the Stones are playing tonight. She’s asked who is her favorite Rolling Stone. “I like the fella who plays the drums—Charlie.” When asked why, she answers, “I don’t know. I just like him.”

Charlie Watts, once a jazzbo, is the Stones’ drummer in question. “I can’t read music,” he confesses. “Maybe I have an inferiority complex.” Another fan favorite is Brian Jones with an almost perfect pudding basin-haircut, now grown about a month past his eyebrows and his ears. “The future as a Rolling Stone is very uncertain,” says Jones. “My aim in life was never to be a pop star. I enjoy it, with reservations.” Even during the early time frame of this feature, Jones seems somewhat marginalized by Jagger and Keith Richards, the pair who writes all the band’s original material and continue to do so.

The Stones’ creative nucleus is seen at length in a hotel room, singing and playing acoustic guitar, boucing fertile ideas off one another for tunes that would become part of their arsenal. “Tell Me” and “It’s All Right” get worked over with possible new lyrics. The capper is a terrific quick run-through of a Beatles nugget, “I’ve Just Seen A Face.” The two make it their own in no time.

The band appears at a movie theater in the outlands for a sold-out show, and the local gendarmes seem ill-preparted for what is to come down. After no more than three numbers, the stage is jumped by a small army of teenage boys intent on disrupting the proceedings. One sits on Watts’ vacated drum throne while another pats Jones on the back as he runs for the exit. Refunds are in order for the saddened cadre of Rolling Stones fanatics. Who knows, says one, if they’ll ever return.

—Jud Cost

Vintage Movies: “The Enforcer”

MAGNET contributing writer Jud Cost is sharing some of the wealth of classic films he’s been lucky enough to see over the past 40 years. Trolling the backwaters of cinema, he has worked up a list of more than 500 titles—from the silent era through the ’00s—that you may have missed. A new selection, all currently available on DVD, appears every week.

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The Enforcer (1976, 92 minutes)

OK, OK, so the guy is one of the few celebrities who says he’s supporting the candidate everyone wishes would disappear up his own rectum: Trump The Disgusting. But surely Clint Eastwood, starring in the original foursome of Dirty Harrry movies as well as a career notched with plenty of fine directorial jobs, makes up for some of that.

No doubt, you’ve seen the 1962 debut of Harry Callahan as San Francisco’s “no bullshit” cop, the one who’s taken on the dual roll of lawman and executioner, saving the public a boatload of tax dollars by elminating a speedy trial from due process. The Enforcer is the third movie in the series, one you might have missed. As Harry Callahan would put it, “Not a real good idea.” Other films may have assumed a simiilar stance, but like a horde of grumpy Mormons on your front porch, the original is still the greatest. Just look deeply into Clint’s bloodshot eyes and tell me he’s not the best, Trump or no Trump.

Dirty Harry pix don’t waste any time. Harry and his partner have just come upon a couple of thugs sticking up a civic center district liquor store, and our boy already has a plan. He leaves his 44 Magnum (his trademarkl handgun of choice) on the roof of a cop car and immediately walks into the liquor store, cool as sour-cream milkshake.

The frantic bad guy, holding a woman in front of him like a shield, forces Harry to lie on the floor of the shop. “This is my new sports jacket,” Harry objects. The bad guy says he wants all the “pigs” out of the area and a car to get away. So who is Callahan to object? After getting a kick in the ass from the punk, he walks back to the police barrier and puts the pistol back in his pocket. “What did he say?” asks his partner, Frank DiGiorgio (John Mitchum). “Said he wanted a car,” says Harry “So what are you gonna do?” “Give him one,” says Callahan who hops into his unmarked police cruiser nearby, revs it up, and drives full speed through the liquor store’s front window.

Harry has jumped from the vehicle and put a couple of slugs through each of the perps before the tires have stopped spinning. “What makes a man crazy enough to join the cops?” asks DiGiorgio as Harry holsters the Magnum. He knows he’ll have to face the wrath of his boss (Bradford Dillman) tomorrow for use of excessive force, but today felt good. “You find out, you let me know, huh?” snipes Callahan.

—Jud Cost

Vintage Movies: “All Fall Down”

MAGNET contributing writer Jud Cost is sharing some of the wealth of classic films he’s been lucky enough to see over the past 40 years. Trolling the backwaters of cinema, he has worked up a list of more than 500 titles—from the silent era through the ’00s—that you may have missed. A new selection, all currently available on DVD, appears every week.

AllFallDown

All Fall Down (1962, 110 mintues)

Who would have thought you’d ever run across an all-but-forgotten little gem of a movie that features two of the red-letter performers from On The Waterfront (Eva Marie Saint and Karl Malden) and a pretty decent replacement for Marlon Brando in a bad-ass, very young Warren Beatty? Berry-Berry Willart (Beatty) is the no-good older brother of Clinton—played by the teenage, died-too-young Brandon de Wilde, a budding star in the early days of TV.

It all takes place in southern Florida’s claustrophobic Keys region where it feels like a slight misstep would land you into the briny. The heat and humidity are palpable throughout this land of single-lane bridges. Clinton has made his way down to the end of Florida to beg his idolized older brother to come home to mom and dad in Squaresville, Ohio. You get the feeling Berry-Berry (admittedly a pretty lame moniker) would rather join the Marines than return to his roots. The screenplay was penned by William Inge, a very hot commodity in the ’50s and early ’60s (Picnic, Bus Stop, Come Back Little Sheba) with lucid direction by John Frankenheimer.

Clinton arrives in some small town in the heart of the Keys via the Greyhound bus to find his brother and heads for the white-washed Victorian hotel to make enquiries about his whereabouts. “If I was the brother of Berry-Berry Willard, I wouldn’t be bragging about it,” says the hotel manager, brusquely waving Clinton off in the direction of a seedy strip club at the end of the pier and well known as one of Berry-Berry’a haunts. “Ask for Hedy and maybe she’ll tell you where to find your brother, and maybe she won’t,” he says pevishly.

Pulling the hair off her forehead, Hedy (Evans Evans) shows Clinton a two-inch scar. “That’s what happened to me when Berry-Berry threw me clean across the room and into the television set,” she says. The kid is tossed from the strip joint by the armadillo-like woman who runs the joint. “You want me to lose my license because of a dumb kid like you?” she bellows while pointing to the front door.

Hedy runs after Clinton and catches up to him down by the boat where they’re uynloading this afternoon’s catch of tuna. She tells the young kid to explain to his brother that she’ll take him back anytime, that she bears no grudge against Berry-Berry, then kisses Clinton on the cheek and goes scurrying aback to the strip joint. The two hundred bucks the kid has brought with him to ferry his brother home must be used, instead, to bail him out of the local pokey on an assault-and-batterty charge. Then, as expected, things get even messier for Berry-Berry Willart.

—Jud Cost

Vintage Movies: “The Caine Mutiny”

MAGNET contributing writer Jud Cost is sharing some of the wealth of classic films he’s been lucky enough to see over the past 40 years. Trolling the backwaters of cinema, he has worked up a list of more than 500 titles—from the silent era through the ’00s—that you may have missed. A new selection, all currently available on DVD, appears every week.

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The Caine Mutiny (1954, 125 minutes)

Escaping the clutches of a possessive mother, Ensign Willis “Willie” Keith (Robert Francis) has been assigned as a junior officer to the Caine, a beaten-up minesweeper after two years of heavy combat in the South Pacific during World War II.

The Caine’s skipper, Lt. Commander William DeVriess (Tom Tully), reviewing Keith’s file with a jaundiced eye, remarks, “Top five in your class at Princeton, a pretty good record.” He looks the new man squarely in the eye and asks, “Disappointed they’ve assigned you to a minesweeper, Keith?” The ensign says, “To be honest, yes, sir.” DeVriess replies, “You saw yourself on a carrier or a battleship, no doubt?” “Yes sir, I had hoped … ” DeVriess cuts him off, “Well, my only hope is that you’re good enough for the Caine.”

The captain sighs and sinks back into his chair. “This is a beaten-up tub, not a battleship. After the last 18 months of combat, it takes 24 hours a day just to keep her in one piece.” Keith sticks out his jaw and says, “I understand, sir. I’ll try to be worthy of this assignment.” The captain barely shakes his head and replies, “I don’t think you do, but whether you like it or not, you’re in the junkyard navy.” He turns to the officer escorting Keith and says, “Steve, put him with Keefer in communications, and tell Tom, when he’s free, to show this Princeton Tiger around the ship. And don’t take it so hard, Keith: War is hell.”

At the next officers’ mess, the skipper turns to his new man and asks, “Tell me, Keith, now that you’ve studied the Caine more closely, do you like her any better? Or is this ship too messy for you?” Lt. Tom Keefer (Fred MacMurray) chimes in: “The question is, is this mess a ship? We are all sentenced to do penance on this outcast ship, named for the greatest outcast of them all,” he adds, referring to the biblical tale of Cain who killed his brother, Abel.

The captain interrupts, “I received this dispatch from Admiral Walsh, about an hour ago.” He reads, “‘With your approval, we request the transfer to my staff of Ensign Willis Seward Keith.'” Shocked, Keith blurts out, “Sir, I didn’t know anything about this request!” The skipper says, “It could be just a coincidence, or it could be someone pulling strings. So, what’s it to be, Keith, the Admiral’s staff or, as Tom puts it, ‘the hell of the Caine?'” Keith gulps hard and says, “I’ll stay on board, sir.” Keefer quips, “Ahh, Willie, you will live to regret this day.” With the imminent retirement of Capt. DeVriess and the arrival of the intractable new skipper, Lt. Commander Philip Francis Queeg (Humphrey Bogart), they will all live to regret more than just today.

Vintage Movies “Apollo 13”

MAGNET contributing writer Jud Cost is sharing some of the wealth of classic films he’s been lucky enough to see over the past 40 years. Trolling the backwaters of cinema, he has worked up a list of more than 500 titles—from the silent era through the ’00s—that you may have missed. A new selection, all currently available on DVD, appears every week.

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Apollo 13 (1995, 140 minutes)

Numerology fanatics might have warned NASA (and probably did in large numbers) against using the unlucky designation of “Apollo 13” for its flight scheduled to put two of a three-man crew on the moon for the third time. By comparison, the true story of the major problems of Apollo 13 makes the fictional account of Sandra Bullock in Gravity seem like just another bad day at the office.

The Houston home of astronaut Jim Lovell is throwing a huge party tonight for family and friends to watch CBS News’ Walter Cronkite describe the July 20, 1969 landing of Apollo 11 with the first men to set foot on the moon. Cronkite dabs at a tear as Neil Armstrong proclaims, “One small step for man and one giant leap for mankind,” before planting the American flag in the lunar surface.

“Neil Armstrong,” smiles Lovell (Tom Hanks), shaking his head in disbelief as he and his wife Marilyn (Kathleen Quinlan) stack up the dirty dishes, afterwards. “Christopher Columbus, Charles Lindberg and Neil Armstrong. From now on we live in a world where man has walked on the moon,” marvels Lovell. “I’ll bet Sandy Armstrong doesn’t get a wink of sleep tonight,” she commiserates.

A few months later, Lovell is ushering a party of congressional big-wigs around Florida’s space center as one of them asks, “When are you going up again, Jim?” He answers, “I’m slated to command Apollo 14, sometime late next year.” “If there is an Apollo 14,” pointedly replies another of the congressmen. “People in my state are asking why we continue to fund this program now that we’ve beaten Russia to the moon.” Lovell bristles at an argument he’s heard all too often and replies: “Imagine if Christopher Columbus had returned from the New World, and no one followed in his foot-steps!” Suddenly, Lovell’s boss, former astronaut Deke Slayton, takes Lovell aside to give him an update on Apollo 13.

The astronaut hurries home to share the good news with Marilyn by warning her they will have to cancel that Caribbean holiday they’d planned for Easter. “Allen Shepherd’s ear infection has flared up again, and we’ve been bumped up as the prime crew for Apollo 13,” he tells his wife. Three weeks before the April, 1970 mission, Marilyn dreams that Jim and his crew have all perished on the upcoming flight. She awakes to find her husband talking with their young son. “Did you know the astronauts in the fire?” the boy asks, referring to the tragic 1967 blaze that killed all three Apollo 1 astronauts as they were strapped into their module. “Oh yes, I knew them all. Their door, the hatch, wouldn’t open,” he explains, matter-of-factly. “Did they fix it?” the boy asks his dad. “Oh, yes, we fixed it,” he reassures his son.