Brenda Starr was a popular comic strip that had started in the 1940s written and drawn by one of the few female comic artists working at the time Dale Messick. The comic followed the adventures of Brenda Starr a reporter who got into all sorts of adventures (Messick came up with it after her all female pirate comic got rejected). The series was so popular it lasted until 2011 in newspapers.
Columbia Pictures loved adapting comic characters into serials, Superman, Batman, The Phantom, Congo Bill, Terry and the Pirates and many more so it was not much of a surprise that they adapted Brenda Starr.
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In 1944 Republic Pictures came out with another jungle girl serial The Tiger Woman starring Linda Stirling as the Tiger Woman. Sterling’s costume is actually a leopard print but whatever.
Two rival oil companies are trying to get the rights to drill in a jungle which is protected by the Tiger Woman and her tribe. Allen Saunders (Allan Lane) works for the one oil company but teams up with the Tiger Woman to fight the more evil oil company.
Continue reading “Sunday Matinee: The Tiger Woman/Zorro’s Black Whip”
So all the past few weeks of jungle girl movies have been leading to this 1941 action adventure serial from Republic Pictures, Jungle Girl!
Jungle Girl was the first sound serial to have a female lead. Well not quite – there was the 1933 remake of The Perils of Pauline and there was the 1935 serial Queen of the Jungle which just reused footage from the 1922 serial Jungle Goddess. But this actually the heroine swinging on vines and saving lives and fighting bad guys instead of just being a damsel in distress. Very very loosely based on Edgar Rice Burroughs novel of the same name the movie stars Frances Gifford as Nyoka Meredith the jungle girl of the title. The plot has Nyoka moving to an remote tribe in the jungle where her father Dr. John Meredith (Trevor Bardette) has fled and becomes doctor for the tribe displacing the witch doctor Shamba ( Frank Lackteen).
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Continuing with the jungle girl series today’s Sunday Matinee is 1932’s The Savage Girl.
Rochelle Hudson plays the title character, a young woman who has grown up in the jungle who is sort od a female Tarzan, trying to keep the animals of the jungle safe.
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There are lots of silent films that featured female leads, sometimes as the hero, more often than not as the damsel in distress and sadly most of the movies have been lost. The only other major film would the brilliant Les Vampires which I’ve previously done.
Despite the pre-code era with several strong female lead roles, there isn’t really any action roles for women other than supporting or again the damsel in distress. Sadly we have to jump to the 1940s action serials before we see a female lead.
Continue reading “Sunday Matinee: Trader Horn”
One of the worst and greatest tragedies of the silent film era is how many movies have been lost forever, never to be seen again. Something like 70% of American silent films have been lost. So it’s especially frustrating to find something that sounds cool only to discover there is no chance of ever seeing it.
Continue reading “Sunday Matinee: Ruth Roland”
The success of What Happened to Mary and The Adventures of Kathlyn would kick start a several action serials featuring female leads. In 1914 The Perils of Pauline starring Pearl White as Pauline, a young woman who is to inherit a vast fortune but her guardian Mr. Koerner (Paul Panzer) is plotting her death so he can get his hands on the money.
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It’s 2018 and this year there looks to be at least three movies featuring female action heroes. The Tomb Raider reboot, Red Sparrow with Jennifer Lawrence and most recently Proud Mary. With all that has happened lately in Hollywood and in the world in general I thought it would be a good time to take a look at the evolution of the female action hero.
To start things off we have to go back over 100 years ago. The first movie serial in the United States was 1912’s What Happened to Mary. Produced by Thomas Edison’s film studio Edison Films the movie wasn’t a true cliffhanger serial although there were 12 chapters released monthly. Each installment had a ending. But in a brilliant move each episode was released to coincide with the serial story of the same name published in McClure’s The Ladies’ World magazine.
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On January 28 and 31 Cineplex is playing the excellent 1963 movie Charade as part of the Classic Film series.
Directed by Stanley Donen, the film is kind of mix between a romantic screwball comedy and a thriller. Regina “Reggie” Lampert (Audrey Hepburn) while on a skiing trip decides she’s going to divorce her husband Charles when she gets back to Paris. While at the ski lodge she meets Peter Joshua (Cary Grant). When she returns to Paris she finds that her husband has been murdered.
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Julien Tavernier (Maurice Ronet) and his lover, the married Florence Carala (Jeanne Moreau) plot to kill Florence’s husband who is also Julien’s boss.
While the husband is working late Saturday night, Julien sneaks up the outside of the building using a rope and shoots and kills the husband. He then makes it look like a suicide. Julien leaves the building, starting his car and then notices that he left the rope hanging from the side of the building.
Continue reading “Sunday Matinee: Elevator To The Gallows”
Dario Argento’s classic horror movie about a young woman (Jessica Harper) attending a dance school in Europe and discovering something sinister is happening at the school, is turning 40 this year.
Synapse Films did a 4k restoration on the movie that took four years to complete and has been screening the restoration in select theatres this year. It apparently looks amazing. They’ve also just released the restoration on blu-ray this month.
Continue reading “Sunday Matinee: Suspiria”
Director Mike Hodges and Michael Caine decided to follow up the brilliant Get Carter with another gangster like film, the 1972 movie Pulp.
The difference this time out is instead of a serious and gritty crime drama Pulp is more of a comedy. It has goofy moments and jokes, then some gritty crime. Michael Caine stars as Mickey King, a novelist who writes books like My Gun is Long and The Organ Grinder under pen names Guy Strange, Gary Rough and the amusing S. Ódomi. Caine is hired to ghost write and autobiography of retired actor Preston Gilbert (Mickey Rooney).
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After stopping the Godzilla franchise in 2004 Toho Studios gave the big guy a break for a few years. They then licensed him out to Legendary Pictures who started a new American Godzilla franchise that started in 2014. When that movie was a success Toho decided to relaunch the series in Japan again. They brought in acclaimed director Hideaki Anno (creator of Neon Genesis Evangelion) to write and co-direct the new movie. In 2016 Shin Godzilla hit screens and presented a very different take on the legendary monster.
The movie draws its inspiration from the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. The Japanese Coast Guard investigate an abandoned boat only to be attacked by a huge wave and a creature. News reports later show a giant tail swimming closer to shore. The prime minister of Japan assures people that the sea creature can’t come on shore. It has gills and no limbs. Despite this the creature swims into canals and into Japan and eventually makes land where the creature evolves legs and lungs.
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Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind aren’t the only movies celebrating their 40th anniversaries this year. Terry Gilliam’s Jabberwocky is too.
Jabberwocky was Gilliam’s first solo directorial effort away from Monty Python although Michael Palin stars in it and Terry Jones has a cameo. Palin stars as a poor cooper in medieval times. All Palin wants to do is work and marry a large peasant woman who doesn’t really like him. Palin’s father disowns him on his deathbed so Palin goes to town to try and find work.
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Iris Henderson (Margaret Lockwood) is a British tourist about to head home from the country of Bandrika. A train delay forces everyone who was going to travel to spend a night at the local inn.
Iris is disturbed by music playing in the room above her getting the young musician Gilbert Redman (Michael Redgrave) kicked out of his room. Gilbert retaliates by forcing Iris to let him stay in her room. Meanwhile elderly Miss Froy (Dame May Whitty) is listening to a local musician play a tune outside her window. Unbeknownst to Miss Froy, the musician is killed shortly after playing the tune.
Continue reading “Sunday Matinee: The Lady Vanishes”
There is not a lot of absolutely bat shit crazy cinema but during the 1970s exploitation era there was some amazingly unique movies. Today’s Sunday Matinee for example is a 1975 action/horror exploitation flick Wolf Guy based on the Japanese manga of the same name.
Trying to describe this movie takes a bit of work. Shinichi “Sonny” Chiba runs into a yakuza who is fleeing something. The man manages to get out of a crowd and into a back alley where an unseen force tears the man to shreds. Chiba catches up to the man finding him dying and mentioning a woman named Miki and a tiger.
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I wanted to add this to this year’s 31 Days of Horror but it just didn’t quite fall into the horror category. This British/Canadian production by director Bob Clark has Sherlock Holmes going after Jack the Ripper in 1979’s Murder by Decree.
Christopher Plummer stars as Holmes and James Mason is Watson. It’s 1888 and Jack the Ripper is on the loose in the streets of London. A citizen’s group ask Holmes to investigate the crimes.
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Another October has come and gone and another year of 31 Days of Horror is over. To wrap things up is Black Christmas from 1974.
It Christmas time and the women at a sorority house has are having party while getting ready to go home for the holidays. Soneone climbs up into the attic of the house. Jess (Olivia Hussey) answers a phone call to house and lets the other women listen to what seems to be an obscene phone call. Barb Coard (Margot Kidder), Phyllis “Phyl” Carlson (Andrea Martin), Clare Harrison (Lynne Griffin) and several others listen in. Barb provokes the caller who threatens to kill the women.
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John Russell (George C. Scott) is a composer who has just rented an old Victorian style house while recovering from the deaths of his wife and daughter who were killed in a tragic car accident.
Russell has been noticing some strange occurrences around the house. Every morning there is a persistent loud banging. One night Russell finds a bathtub full of water and what looks like a drowned boy in it. Later he finds a hidden door that leads to a room upstairs where a boy’s wheelchair has been left in a dusty room.
Continue reading “Aiiieeeee!!! Canada: 31 Days of Horror – The Changeling”
A security firm called Con-Sec has discovered that there are people out there called scanners. Scanners are psychics with telepathy, mind-control, and telekinesis. Con-Sec is gathering up scanners so they can use them as weapons.
At a demonstration Con-Sec’s scanner asks for volunteers so he can show off his abilities. A man named Darryl Revok (Michael Ironside) volunteers but demonstrates that he is an even more powerful scanner and kills off Con-Sec’s scanner in a very memorable opening scene.
Continue reading “Aiiieeeee!!! Canada: 31 Days of Horror – Scanners”