Thursday, November 7, 2013

Rant #1,079: Film Anniversaries

While I was busy starring in my own 30-second TV show, two film anniversaries came upon us, and even though I am late on one of them, I figured it would be nice to review them now.

November 6 was the 44th anniversary of the premiere of "Head," the Monkees' one and only film.

It was 1969, the band was past its prime, but then it came out with this movie, one of the strangest, yet most fantastic, films I have ever seen.

The film has no plot, but it has many plots, but what it all adds up to is that this is the movie that killed the hand that fed many, many people from 1966 through 1969, and that was the Pre-Fab Four, the group that was actually the largest-selling recording act during 1967's so-called "Summer of Love," the group that every rock critic worth his or her salt hated back then ...

But seemingly those same people, if they are still around, love now.

I won't go too deep into "Head," because I have done it before in this column; suffice it to say that if you think that the movie is simply a 90-minute version of the TV show, boy, are you in for a surprise!

And if you hated the Monkees' recorded output, you will enjoy music in the movie. It is way different than anything they ever did, and really is superb.

Both film and music hold up to this day, and sure, the film flopped when it came out, but now, the film has been reexamined, and everyone appears to  love the film, and the fans always loved it, so take it for what it is: a film that mirrored its time that you can still watch today.

Another film for the ages celebrates an even greater anniversary today.

Today, November 7, is the 50th anniversary of the premiere of "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World," the topsy-turvy, star-studded movie to end all movies that made its debut on this day in 1963.

Again, I have spoken about this film here many times, so I won't go too deep into it, but suffice it to say that if you were a star, or a quasi-star, back then in Hollywood, you were probably in this film.

Basically, the film chronicles the ways and means that a group of strangers go about finding hidden loot that they learn about while attending to an old, dying man who was on the same road as they were.

That, in itself, is not funny, but left in the hands of director Stanley Kramer, with a cast that included everyone from Ethel Merman to Jonathan Winters to Mickey Rooney to Dick Shawn to Spencer Tracy to about 100 other big stars, the movie had to be funny, and boy, was it ever!

I was lucky enough to see the full version of this film in a movie theater in Queens, New York that I honestly can't remember the name of.

There were several versions of the film, because movie houses, fearing the length of the movie and the possible lost revenue from showing it less times than a normal film, demanded that there be varying lengths to the movie, so there were about three or four different versions of the film that was shown way back when.

I know I saw the full version--which is now lost--because I distinctly remember seeing the full Three Stooges sketch, where they were firemen, and they try to put out a fire to comic results.

You can get a video of the film today, but it is the shorter version--still good, but not the full one.

Anyway, if you are down in the dumps, this is the film to see.

These are, obviously, two of my favorite films of all-time, and that is why I figured that I would speak about them on their anniversaries.

If just one of you sees either or both films for the first time because of what I have written, I will consider this column well worth it.

If not, it was fun to write, but not as much fun as seeing each of these movies was to me when I was a mere lad.


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