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The Gypsy Moths

This 1969 film about a troupe of barnstorming skydivers has plenty of positives:

  • It paints a picture of small-town America in the days before the mass media standardized American culture. In those days, the script reminds us, a skydiving show could be the highlight of everyone's summer. There is one fascinating scene in which a high school band, after having practiced for months under the baton of a persnickety martinet, heads into Main Street on the July 4th parade, only to see it abandoned and looking desolate because every single person in town is at the big air show.
  • It features a great cast which provides a cross-section of Hollywood's generations. Bert Lancaster, William Windom, Sheree North, and Deborah Kerr are there from the forties and fifties crowd; Bonnie Bedelia and Gene Hackman represent the new generation which would emerge in the seventies. Bedelia was 20 or 21 when she filmed this role, and Hackman was still in his thirties. Hackman had established himself as a dependable character actor two years earlier in Bonnie and Clyde, but Popeye Doyle, the role which would elevate him to leading man status, was still two years in the future.
  • Lancaster and Kerr rekindled the screen sparks they had ignited in From Here to Eternity - except this time the cultural climate allowed them to do it with their clothes off. This they did and looked quite good in the process, even though Lancaster was 56 and Kerr 48.
  • It's an unusual experience to see Lancaster play a guy with a tremendous amount of screen time and virtually no dialogue. He played a strong, silent guy who kept everything internalized.
  • There is some very impressive aerial photography of the skydiving stunts.

The DVD version of the film can also be characterized as outstanding in many ways.

  • It's rare to have a director's commentary available for a movie which is about 40 years old. Fortunately, Frankenheimer was still with us long enough to record the track for this film. I didn't listen to the entire commentary, but I caught about twenty minutes' worth scattered through the film, and Frankenheimer seemed to provide an interesting melange of insights. Sometimes he reminisced about making the movie, and at other times he discussed the actors or the studio's marketing of the film (or mismarketing, as he saw it, because the film was barely released). The commentary was interesting enough that I'll probably go back and listen to the rest someday.
  • The DVD producers also managed to find the original trailer and a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at how the action scenes were filmed. There's also a fairly interesting, if disappointingly generic, featurette about real skydivers.
  • The widescreen anamorphic transfer of the film is quite satisfactory, especially for a film four decades old.

Having offered all those kind words, I regret to say that it's only an average movie, albeit competent and occasionally interesting. It has some sections which clip along quite nicely, especially the action scenes, but other parts of the film really drag. There is a full eight minute conversation (really, I timed it - minutes 40-48, more or less) between Deborah Kerr and Burt Lancaster in the middle of the film, and that slows the film's heart beat down to flat-line status.

The film has an odd kind of vibe to it. Instead of a smooth consistent tone, it seems like one of those anthologies of short stories where the stories have a connection, but are written or directed by different people. The first half of the film is similar to the famous film Picnic, in which an outsider disturbs the complacency of a small town in summertime. In this case, all three of the skydivers manage to score one-night stands on their first night in town, and this virtually rends the time-space continuum in the town. Lancaster and Kerr, for example, get it on in Kerr's living room with her husband (Windom) sleeping upstairs, soon to become aware of his cuckolded condition. The second half of the film consists predominantly of actual skydiving - much too much of it for my taste, to the point where the pulse of the film again dropped to corpse status.

Frustratingly, the most important plot development in the entire film is heavy with ambiguity. The action itself takes place entirely before our eyes, but we are never clear whether it was intentional or accidental, and precisely why it went down that way. Then there is a brief post-airshow epilogue in the film, which offers no insights on the major event, and instead presents some additional developments in relationships, most of which weren't fully explained. It was typical in the late sixties and early seventies to end films with unresolved or unexplained matters, leaving the viewer a chance to speculate on how various relationships and situations would develop, and thus to participate in the artistic process. I don't know whether I miss that form of audience involvement or whether I am relieved to see it pass, but I do miss the sorts of post-movie conversations we used to have about matters like, "Why do you think he did that? Did he mean to? What did such-and-such all mean? What happened to the relationship between X and Y?" And so forth. It seems that movies have become more transparent, or less subtle, or both.

Deborah Kerr (film clip)

Sheree North (film clip)


Bonnie Bedelia. No film clip. You can't see jack unless you tinker with it. And not much even then.


Trading Places

Maybe it's just me, but for me these scenes are right up there with Phoebe Cates in Ridgemont High as some of the greatest nudity in film history. Jamie Lee truly had a spectacular body.

Here are two HIGH DEF film clips from Dead Red, and three unadjusted raw snaps I made to show you the quality of the clips:




* Yellow asterisk: funny (maybe).

* White asterisk: expanded format.

* Blue asterisk: not mine.

No asterisk: it probably sucks.


Catch the deluxe version of Other Crap in real time, with all the bells and whistles, here.








Black Snake Moan

Once in a great while, someone makes a film specifically for me. Oddly, the film makers don't even know they are doing it. Give  me Samuel L. Jackson, an amazing blues score, and a brilliant performance by a sometimes naked and continuously underdressed Christina Ricci, and I am happy.

Samuel plays a truck farmer and former blues man whose wife has just left him for his brother. His support group is a church, but as a drunk and all-around character, it is an uneasy fit for him. Christina Ricci was abused as a youngster, and turned into the high school slut. She has a relationship with Justin Timberlake. He is subject to constant panic attacks, which she is somehow able to ease. Whenever he is not around, she becomes a nymphomaniac. Timberlake is off to join the Army, and she is off screwing anything in pants.

Timberlake's best friend beats Christina and dumps her in the middle of a road, right next to Sam Jackson's place. She is unconscious, and suffering from a fever and serious cough. Samuel L. decides to heal her, but not just her immediate medical problems. To make sure she stays around for his healing, he chains her to a radiator. Ricci and Jackson both eventually find redemption, but not in expected ways. The two have no sexual tension between them, much less sexual contact. Yes, she initially tries to bargain her body for freedom, but when that doesn't work, she is forced to live in her own head for a while.

Samuel L. learned guitar for this film, and was able to actually play all his tunes in this film, even though the sound track has prerecorded versions. As a guitarist, I can confirm that Jackson was fingering the guitar correctly. This is the second time I have fallen in love with a Samuel L. film that did not do well (the first was The Caveman's Valentine). In this case, I am afraid the public couldn't get past the idea of an old ornery black man chaining a young half naked white woman to the radiator of his house. With brilliant performances from Samuel and Christina Ricci, an amazing blues score, great cinematography, and insightful looks at racial, age, gender, and social position issues, what is not to like? In reading the first several comments at IMDb, it seems to me that everyone who has actually seen this film has loved it. I have ordered the sound track, and will watch the film again and again. If you have an open mind, watch it. If you also love the blues, buy it.

I think the box office problem had to do with marketing, not the quality of the film, and hence score it a B-.

IMDb readers say 7.4, but the film was not a box office success, only earning $9.4M against a $15M budget. Berardinelli awarded 3 1/2 stars, clearly getting it. Rotten Tomatoes gives it 66%, with 50% from the top critics.



Christina Ricci shows breasts in several scenes, and is virtually naked through most of the film.

Scoop's note: I agree with Tuna's analysis and have no problem seconding the B-. It should have been a hit, dammit, or at least a success. The film was mis-marketed as an exploitation film (white girl chained to radiator in black man's house), when it should have been presented as the thoughtful and compassionate drama that it is, albeit one with a very steamy, almost naked Christina Ricci smack dab in the middle of it. Maybe it would still have bombed, but it could have bombed honestly. As Tuna notes, most people who have seen it really liked it. (See Dann's review below.)

Props to Ricci for a good job in a role with significant psychological and physical challenges. Here's one more cap of her bum in the deleted scenes:








The Notorious Bettie Page

Bettie Page has to be the most famous "Babe in Bondage" of all time. Here is the real Bettie Page from the special features of The Notorious Bettie Page DVD.


Then from the movie itself we move on to Gretchen Mol who portrayed Bettie and the resemblance is uncanny. Gretchen is absolutely stunning as she reveals every inch of her gorgeous body. She even does a little "Babe in Bondage" scene for us.






Notes and collages

Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger

... I made this collage just to talk about the lengths someone will go through to be titillating without getting an R rating at the box office. If you look behind Ms. Seymour you will see the river flowing normally in contrast to our lady who is so "frozen in fear" that not a follicle of hair is disturbed off her half exposed breast.


...and by the way, if you are going to watch a Sinbad film, "The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad" is the original of the series and ten times the best of them: no nudity but a great plot.

I have wondered why (over the years) that Hollywood didn't remake that story with modern CGI...oh well

Jane Seymour ... Part 2








Paris, Je t'aime



Natalie Portman


Chani Sabety










If you are going to make a movie against slavery and racism, please don't make one where a white man is a slave so he ends up saving all the black people from slavery, it doesn't add up.

The movie is bad. Oliver Reed plays drunk almost 90% of his screen time. Patrick Warburton, who plays the lead here, is so bad I don't know how he ended up making a career of acting, and what is weirder is that in hissecond movie, he played the same character in the sequel to this so-called movie

Good Lord, I don't want to see that one.

Nonetheless, I will recommend this movie, because Claudia Udy and her two nips (I'm sure they have a life of their own) have a great Cleopatra dance scene, and Annabel Schofield is a hotty too.



Claudia Udy


Annabel Schofield








Black Snake Moan

A unique story by writer/director Craig Brewer and excellent performances by Christina Ricci and Samuel L. Jackson make this 2007 drama way above average, and unlike Jackson's last, it really has nothing to do with snakes.

Rae (Christina Ricci) was sexually abused as a child, giving her a warped view of sexuality. She is well known for wild partying and screwing anything in sight, although she deeply loves her live-in boyfriend. When the boyfriend ships out with the National Guard, Rae, extremely upset, goes on a drugs/booze/sex binge, and winds up terribly beaten and half naked on a country road.

Laz, a God-fearing farmer/blues musician, finds her and decides he has been called not only to care for her, but also to make her well spiritually. His methods are somewhat unconventional, so Rae wakes up in chains.

Great storyline, great acting, Christina Ricci naked....what more could you possibly want?


Christina Ricci

Four short clips of Tamsin Egerton in Keeping Mum
A low quality film clip of Marisa Tomei topless in Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
Marisa Berenson in Tete dans le sac
Marisa Berenson in Sex on the Run
Sarah Miles in Ryan's Daughter
Kyla Pratt see-through






The Comedy Wire

A suspect in Israel was placed under house arrest with an
electronic ankle monitor, but when police arrived at his home to take him to his sentencing hearing, he had disappeared.  Somehow, he'd managed to slip the monitor off his leg and put it around the neck of his dog, which had been walking around the apartment simulating him. 

*  Eating, scratching himself, drinking out of the toilet. It was an uncanny simulation! 

*  The cops who were monitoring him couldn't get over the way that guy could lick his own crotch.

*  If Paris Hilton had slipped her ankle monitor onto her annoying, brainless, two-pound Chihuahua, they never would've noticed the difference.