Introducing The Ramones

There was a time in the 1970s when film distributors were able to test-market their more offbeat offerings as “Midnight Movies” for adventurous moviegoers. Sometimes these developed into cult phenomenas like El Topo (1971), The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), or Eraserhead (1976). Sometimes they failed to find any audience at all like Pelvis (aka All Dressed Up in Rubber with No Place to Go, 1977) or Elevator Girls in Bondage (1972). Arriving at the tail end of the Midnight Movie craze, Rock ‘n’ Roll High School (1979) fell somewhere between these two extremes.

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Mister Total Irreverence

Among most Fields’ enthusiasts, The Bank Dick is considered one of his best films, right up there with It’s a Gift (1934). It’s also the only film in which Fields enjoyed full creative control and it would be his last. His final starring role in Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941) was an unhappy experience and turned into one long battle with the Universal top brass over scripting and censorship issues. 

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Justice is Served

Now this is the sort of film title I’d like to see in an era where the rich are getting richer, the middle class is eroding and the poor are becoming a majority. But Millionaires in Prison (1940) is not in the muck-racking tradition of Inside Job (2010) or Capitalism: A Love Story (2009) or Enron: The Smartest Guys In the Room (2005). Instead, it’s a 1940 grade-B programmer from RKO which serves up two terrific premises but doesn’t quite deliver on either in the expected way. Still, it’s rather astonishing that the filmmakers were able to shoehorn two ambitious storylines along with a romantic subplot (two of the convict protagonists have girlfriends on the outside) into a 65-minute movie.   Continue reading