Sunday, February 26, 2012

Robert Morse, Stefanie Powers & Phil Silvers in The Boatniks (1970)

Disney made a lot of live action, family oriented films in the 60's and 70's. Many of them became quite well know, or are at least somewhat remembered. This is not one of those. The Boatniks is set in Balboa Bay in Southern California - a very popular boating hub where mishaps frequently happen because of the traffic. That chaos is a big part of the plot, which has several sub-plots, including romance between a green harbor master (Morse) and the owner of the local rent-a-boat operation (Powers), and the attempted dash to Mexico by a group of inept jewel thieves (Silvers, Norman Fell and Mickey Shaughnessy).
Though not exactly memorable (while watching the film again I had distinct sense memories, though had totally forgotten having seen it as a child) it is a pleasant diversion and it's fun to pick out the popular character actors. Look for Don Ameche as Morse's boss, Wally Cox as a libidinous harbor resident always surrounded by a gaggle of gorgeous girls and Joe E. (Ooh! ooh!) Ross as a hapless boat pilot.

The Boatniks is available on DVD. Above is the trailer for the film, uploaded to YouTube by TheCinemastudio.

Obscurity factor: 9 (on DVD, hard to find online, largely forgotten)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Barry Manilow & Annette O'Toole in Copacabana (1985)

After the phenomenal success of his hit song of the same name, Manilow starred in this television musical dramatizing the story we're all so familiar with. Tony (Manilow) and Lola (O'Toole) are talented performers, hungry for their first break. They meet, fall in love and find their way to the Copacabana, where they ultimately find success. Lola is lured away by the promise of making it big in Havana at the famed Tropicana and is heavily courted by the smarmy Rico (Joseph Bologna). Will Tony win her back? will she escape the clutches of Rico? I think you know the answer...

Though it's no classic, there are some lovely moments to be had, and it picks up as it goes along. If nothing else, it's good campy fun. Look for Estelle Getty as Manilow's mother, and some dreadful age makeup on Annette O'Toole at the beginning and end of the film.

This title is available on DVD, and can be seen in full on YouTube, thanks to an upload by nybrian5. The stream is in one big chunk, complete with the original 1980's commercials.

Obscurity factor: 8 (on DVD & YouTube, known to Fanilows, otherwise forgotten)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Terrance Stamp & Robert Vaughn in The Mind of Mr. Soams (1969)

I'd been reluctant to watch this film because it has something of an aura of impending doom. A brain surgeon (Vaughn) revives John Soams (Stamp) who has been in a coma since birth. At the age of 30 he must begin to learn to join the human race. The well meaning, but autocratic head of the institute (Nigel Davenport) takes a clinical approach that makes no allowances for warmth, tenderness and love and understandably, John develops a rebellious nature. When he escapes the institute, he's completely unprepared for the world at large.
This was an Amicus production. The British studio was known for its horror films, primarily, and it milks the subject matter for its scare factor, but in this case, the "monster"everyone is afraid of is a 30 year old man with the mind of a child. You can't help but identify with him, and the pain he's going through. Stamp's performance is extremely effecting and seeing this innocent subject to uncaring treatment and indifference can be painful to watch. It's very much a piece of its time, reflecting the pessemistic attitudes about human nature and the world at large.

This film was released on DVD last year and can be seen in full on YouTube. Part one is above, uploaded by feverpitch96.

Obscurity factor: 8 (on DVD & YouTube, largely forgotten)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Apple - George Dunning & Richard Williams (1963)

This British short film was produced in London and has the distinction of being animator, Richard Williams' [The Little Island, (1958) Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)] second project. Williams is an interesting figure. His work is inspired and inspiring, but, like Charles James, the famous couturier, he's found it difficult to complete and let go of projects, most notably his masterpiece, The Thief and the Cobbler, which was seized from his control by the completion bond company two years after it was funded and 24 years after it was begun.

This short is rare and hard to find. It can be seen only online as far as I've been able to surmise. Above is the entire film, uploaded to YouTube by TheThiefArchive.

Obscurity factor: 9 (not on DVD, difficult to find, on YouTube)