Archive for the Video Clip Category


Posted in Adventure-Action, Animation, Jonny Quest, Video Clip on September 25, 2011 by Bill Courtney
By the time Jonny Quest hIt the prime time TV slot on Fridays nights back in 1964 Hanna-Barbera had already had a few animated TV shows, including The Flintstones and The Jetsons. But Jonny Quest was a different type of animated show and while perhaps not as successful in the long run as its more comedic counterparts the 26 original episodes that were produced have become the stuff of legend. The series was developed and designed by comic book and comic strip artist Doug Wildey whose confident pen and ink style resembled that of Milton Caniff (terry and the Pirates, Steven Canyon). Those drawing elements are seen in the drawings of the characters and backgrounds for Jonny Quest and the style was a bit of a leap for the time period and the drawings still stand on their own in this day and age as far as I, and the many Jonny Quest fans out there attest to, am concerned.

The James Bond film Dr. No, as the story goes, inspired Joe Barbera to try an adventure cartoon with more realistically rendered characters. Wildey is given most of the credit now with how the show finally looked as well as the development of the shows characters. The main characters were Dr. Benton Quest who is always involved in some sort of top secret adventure or another. He always takes his young son Jonny along despite potential dangers. Jonny’s mom died under circumstances I am not clear on yet but it is is possible some sort of intrigue was involved. To make sure Jonny is safe and sound Dr. Quest has employed Race Bannon (a character based on an earlier comic strip called Steve Bannon by Wildey) as a bodyguard and mentor of sorts. In the series’ second episode we are introduced to the Hindu boy Haji though we are never really told who he is and why the Quest group have him hanging around.  This may be explained in a later episode and if anybody out there knows where Haji comes from please let me know. The last regular member of the group is Jonny’s dog Bandit, and like many boys in the 60’s I had a little dog named Bandit myself, after the TV show dog. Bandit supplies the comic relief for the show as well as sometimes helping Jonny out of a bind or helping him get into one. Some recurring characters include the sexy Jezebel Jade who is a sort of Mata Hari femme fatale who has some possible romantic connection to Race Bannon though for the most part it is always implied. The evil mastermind of various plots Dr. Zin shows up now and then as Dr. Quest’s nemesis and arch rival.

A couple notable aspects of the show outside its graphic design was that the adventures always took place in some new exotic local and the use of violence, to the point that in each episode cartoon characters actually died. Of the course the people who died were either bad guys or nameless “natives” but characters in cartoons dying off was not something audiences were used to back in 1964. The vibe between Race and Jade at times was a little smoldering too, especially in the episode called Double Danger where something appears wrong with Race and there is even a kissing scene. Wow! The show inspired a couple animated movies and later some TV series later but I have not seen any of them and cannot comment. There is much talk about a live action movie being negotiated but I am not sure where any of that of that is going. But the 26 original episodes are classics and have been released on DVD with some extras. In this post I present a couple of those extras and in my next post I will give you a matinee feature of the Double Danger episode I just introduced. Also in this post I am giving a list of all the 26 episodes with titles and brief description. I did not compile these and got the list from this page at Animated Views. Lots of good stuff on the net and some of the best related to the original and classic shows can be found at this Classic Jonny Quest fan site. And yes, I am old enough to remember seeing the original episodes on an old b/w TV. There are some perks to being over fifty.







1)    Mystery Of The Lizard Men – A mystery involving missing ships brings the group to the Sargasso Sea to face laser guns and “lizard men”.

2)    Arctic Splashdown – A deflected missile lands in the frozen wasteland, and the race is on to recover it.

3)    The Curse Of Anubis – An Arab chieftain lures the Quest team to Egypt to use them in a plot to unite his people and become their leader. Before the story ends, a mummy will walk again.

4)    Pursuit Of The Po-Ho – Dr. Quest goes into the jungle to save a friend kidnapped by natives, and finds himself captured.

5)    Riddle Of The Gold – This tale has a trip to India and the first appearance of Quest nemesis Dr. Zin, in a story involving a process to create gold.

6)    Treasure Of The Temple – An ancient Mayan city holds the promise of a lost treasure.

7)    Calcutta Adventure – This flashback episode is the “origin” of how Hadji joined the Quest team.

8)    The Robot Spy – In perhaps the series’ most popular episode, Dr. Zin uses an arachnid-like robot to gain the secret of Dr. Quest’s new ray gun.

9)    Double Danger – Dr. Zin and Dr. Quest compete to find a rare plant in Thailand. Race’s old flame, Jezebel Jade, also arrives on the scene to help determine that Race is not who he appears be. This was actually the first episode produced, which explains its weaker animation. One can tell that the Hanna-Barbera animators initially struggled with the more realistic drawing style. Despite improving greatly over the next few episodes, this awkwardness would show up again years later in Super Friends.

10)    Shadow Of The Condor – A forced landing in the Andes leads to a meeting with a baron who flew in World War I , and his mute servant. A conflict is decided in an air duel.

11)    Skull And Double-Crossbones – Modern-day pirates overpower a Quest expedition and force Jonny to dive for treasure.

12)    The Dreadful Doll – Voodoo and a secret submarine base figure into this mystery.

13)    A Small Matter Of Pygmies – Another forced landing, this time in a jungle, finds the group chased by pygmies.

14)    The Dragons Of Ashida – An insane zoologist and his giant reptiles trap the Quest team on a small island.

15)    Turu The Terrible – A search for a special metal leads instead to the discovery of a flying dinosaur controlled by a wheelchair-bound schemer.
16)    The Fraudulent Volcano – Dr. Quest unintentionally comes into conflict with Dr. Zin, who is using a volcano as a testing ground for a new weapon.

17)    The Werewolf Of The Timberland – French-Canadians and a wolfman figure in this mystery of smuggled gold.

18)    Pirates From Below – Criminals attempt to steal another of Dr. Quest’s inventions.

19)    Attack Of The Tree People – The boys and Bandit survive a boat fire and come ashore an island, then require the assistance of apes to thwart some would-be kidnappers.

20)    The Invisible Monster – A colleague of Dr. Quest disappears after accidentally creating an energy creature.

21)    The Devil’s Tower – You just cannot beat an episode with a mile-high mountain, Nazis, and aborigines who speak German.

22)    The Quetong Missile Mystery – Poisoned swamp fish, a General Fong, and a secret missile enter into this story.

23)    The House Of Seven Gargoyles – Gravity reversal, a dwarf, a submarine, and a glacier— this is a shopping list for a typically exciting Jonny Quest episode.

24)    Terror Island – Dr. Quest is kidnapped in Hong Kong, and Race must ask Jade for help in locating him.

25)    Monster In The Monastery – Jonny meets monks in Nepal threatened by Abominable Snowmen.

26)    The Sea Haunt – A sea monster seems to have a taste for treasure.the Smith Conan comics for marvel I will get working on that.



Posted in Dirk Bogarde, Drama, Harold Pinter, James Fox, Joseph Losey, Patrick Magee, Sarah Miles, Video Clip on September 13, 2011 by Bill Courtney
1963/ Director: Joseph Losey/Writers: Robin Maugham,
Harold Pinter
Cast:  Dirk Bogarde, Sarah Miles, Wendy Craig, James Fox, Patrick Magee,  Catherine Lacey, Richard Vernon   
I had never really heard about this movie, a collaboration between director Joseph Losey and playwrite/screenwriter Howard Pinter except in passing while reading reviews of other films. I had had the DVD lying around for a couple months and decided I would pop it in one night and was so stunned by the film I felt compelled to do a post on it here at the Cafe though it tends to fall outside what I would normally write about though is one I want to promote. In fact, the film is not easy to critique and really is one that must be seen and allowed to wash over you with its dark waters and sinister shadows and its marvelously malevolent  story of role reversal, British class struggle moral decay and sexual decadence.
The story is essentially a set piece with almost all of the drama occurring inside a house recently acquired by the independently wealthy and aristocratic playboy Tony, played superbly by James Fox in his first acting role. Tony is met for an interview by “gentleman’s gentleman” Hugh Barrett as he sleeps off some afternoon beers in the empty house. The opening scene is done so excellently – in particular the edgy b/w cinematography by Douglas Slocombe – and sets the tone of the film which is maintained until the ending. Barrett is played by Dirk Bogarde in what many consider to be his best role. I have not seen him in a film in many, many years and had forgotten about his scene presence. The fact that Barrett is actually evil in a Mephistophelian sense does not become clear immediately, but gradually it becomes clear something is amiss and that the rich and bored Tony has become the target of an evil game played out by Barrett and his ‘sister’ Vera, played coquettishly to a tee by Sarah Miles.
There seems to be no real motive for the games that Barrett and Mary begin to play on Tony other than the fact that Tony seems to be a suitable target for their ultimately spiteful manipulations. I speculate that perhaps the whole thing, in particular his seduction by Vera (and most likely Barrett himself, thought he bisexual innuendo is well hidden between the lines of 1963’s British censors) was to some sort of blackmail plot against Tony to keep his secrets from his serious flame Susan, played by TV soap star Wendy Craig. But the film never really establishes this and Barrett ultimately only seeks his servant’s pay but in the process turns Tony’s world upside down and while Tony loses nothing in the sense of wealth he loses all morally and spiritually, and that alone seems to satisfy Barrett.
What is so fantastic about this film is how it really works on a dark psychological level in every aspect, from the acting and cinematography to the sparse but effective score by Sir John Dankworth. While Tony’s character is not without fault and basically unlikable to any working Joe simply because he is so rich and listless – talking of projects in Brazil that never seem to materialize – he seems undeserving of the wreckage he receives by the bitter Barrett. Barrett no doubt sees himself as superior to Tony and resents his servitude. He has no doubt begun to get bitter long before his employment to Tony, who seems to hire Barrett for no other reason than he cannot take care of himself and has the money to spend on a servant and later a maid (Sarah Miles). Wendy Craig’s Susan seems to despise Barrett from the beginning, and at first I found her unfair and snobbish and disliked her character, yet in the end her character seems to be the only one who retains her dignity. I have read some reviews about how she is undone as well as Tony, but I did see it and the ending shows her winning out over Barrett – where she slaps the crap out of him and he helps her adjust her coat as she leaves – and not the other way around.
Sarah Miles is sexy and hot as naughty Vera and we are never really sure what the relationship is between her and Barrett, except that it is not brother and sister. They are lovers for certain and the plot they develop seems much more complicated than is shown and we have to draw our inferences from their looks and nods as nothing is ever really reveled in dialog.  The house and its hallways and objects – such as an oval mirror – become  a symbol of Tony’s moral decline, starting off bare and empty, then filled with luxury and then with decadence and squalor. There are so many intriguing scenes that I could go on and on and I really like to keep my reviews/comments a little on the shorter side, and do not like retelling the movie narrative really. I like to read those types of movie sites, but I tend to shy away from doing that, and if I wee going to I would have to admit that this film is beyond my skill to do that. I think I can refer you to the clip I made and posted in the next post and it should describe better than I can the mood and angst ridden energy of the film.
It’s as dark as a movie can become without being maudlin and gimmicky. Without ever spilling a drop of blood or firing a pistol the movie is as tense and nerve wrecking An experience as you are going to get  about the horrors of just being a human being.
(My home made clip)


Posted in Comedy, Jerry Lewis, Video Clip on June 15, 2011 by Bill Courtney
Sadly Jerry Lewis’s film work is typically derided in this day and age. He is lampooned and mocked for the most part and his over all fine output of films form the late 50’s and into the late 70’s is dismissed. This is unfortunate since many of this films made for Paramount Pictures, which he also directed and wrote (usually with script partner Bill Richmond) and sometimes produced. I prefer this period of his films to the buddy films he made with Dean Martin and am willing to concede that by the 70’s his films were becoming unwatachable. The errand boy was made in 1961 and is a strange little film really. The film looks and feels more like a French or Italian film of the same time period. This is true not only of the surreal nature of the story but of the crisp b/w photography by W. Wallace Kelley who worked as cinematographer on many of Lewis’s films of the period as well as doing visual effects for films like Vertigo and The War of the Worlds.

Lewis plays the nobody Morty S. Tashman who is promoted, so to speak, from doing odd jobs on the studio lot to be an errand for for the studio moguls. The bigwigs actually want to use Morty as a spy to see were revenues are going but the film actually drops this plot rather quickly and the story becomes and series of short vignettes that have no real connection to one another. Morty remains alone through out the film and there are no romantic interests or character conflicts other than the scenes between Morty and his boss. The film ends with Morty, a lost soul basically, becoming a Hollywood star through a series of goof ups. My wife and I really loved one short sequence where Morty interacts with a hand puppet. I liked it so much I a made a clip of it using Sony Vegas and up loaded it to my Viddler account. If you hate Jerry Lewis this film will not change your mind in any way. If you like his films like The Nutty Professor or The Ladies Man you should be able to enjoy this strange little movie from an over looked filmmaker.



Posted in Akira Kobayashi, Japanese Films, Secret Agents and Spies, Video Clip, Yasuharu Hasebe on June 9, 2011 by Bill Courtney
1966/Director: Yasuharu Hasebe/Writers: Ryuzo Nakanishi, Michio Tsuzuki

Cast: Akira Kobayashi, Akemi Kita, Mieko Nishio, Bokuzen Hidari, Eiji Go, Toshizô Kudô, Chieko Matsubara, Hiroshi Nihon’yanagi, Kaku Takashina   

AKA: Ore Ni Sawaru To Abunaize, Don’t Touch Me I’m Dangerous

Recently got in two films by Japanese director Yasuharu Hasebe. I watched black Tight Killers first and later skimmed over Assault! Jack the Ripper! To just check the quality and was fairly stunned at how different the two films were. Not only in style but content matter as well. Surely Black Tight Killers falls more into the category of films I prefer more and that is not to say the more graphic content matter of Assault! offended me in some way. It did not. But I am talking here of film style and presentation. A review of Assault! Jack the Ripper! will be made after I have watched all of the film but just from the few moments I watched I can tell it is more in the syle of the Pinky Violence films of the seventies while Black Tight Killers is a stylized Nikkatsu Yakuza type film which is paying homage in many scenes to the James Bond films of the time. Some of the scenes are similar to what Seijun Suzuki –for whom Hasebe worked as assistant director for eight years- was doing at the time though Suzuki seemed to luscious prefer b/w for his noir/gangster films. I do have some earlier Seijun Suzuki films that are in color but, to be honest, have not got around to watching them though what I have seen of them look marvelous.

Anyway for Black Tight Killer Yasharu Hasebe chose not only to work in color but in a bright and lurid style of color that is reminiscent of some of Mario Bava’s work during the 60’s. Black Tight Killers has been compared to Bava’s 1968 Danger Diabolik and not without good reason though Black Tight Killer’s predates Danger Diabolik by a couple years so it could hardly have been influenced by Bava’s film. Both films have a comic book feel to the look and feel. Both films are lit rather garishly to say the least and both seem to be inspired by the Sean Connery James Bond films. Of course Danger Diabolik was actually based a comic book character. I have actually read a couple reviews that said the lighting and photography of Black Tight Killers is horrible and I am at a complete lose as to what the hell these folks are talking about. And before moving on another element of the film that reminds me of Bava’s superb work of the 60’s is Hasebe’s use of how to stage and frame a shot. The technical word is mise-en-scène and there is some dispute over what the term actually refers to. I tend to keep things simple and define at as the total visual aspects of a scene. This includes the lighting and all props and placements of the objects in the scene. Bava –as an art director and cinematographer himself- understood this in his early films. I have only seen one complete Hasebe film –but have other lined up for downloading soon- and am not qualified to comment on those films at the moment but I can say I love the visual style of Black Tight Killers.

Before going into the film and bombarding my readers with spoilers out the wazhoo I want to mention it stars leading man Akira Kobayashi whose charisma, acting ability and dashing good looks holds the film’s story together during some pretty weak moments. As I mentioned a couple posts back when I posted a video of the groovy title sequence Kobayashi sang the theme song as well. I want to find some of the Wandering Guitarist and Rambler series of films where he plays, I guess, a wandering/rambling guy with a guitar and gets into all sorts of adventures. In fact the title song for Black Tight Killers translates as Don’t Cry Drifter and must be some reference to these earlier films since his gainfully employed photo-journalist character Daisuke Hondo in Black tight Killers hardly seems like a rambling drifter to me. But Kobayashi adds a James Bond type of flair to the character that he plays straight and serious to good effect for the most part. Now the film does have a few problems in the story department but much of it is done tongue in cheek –I hope- and so it never really falls apart.

The story follows photographer Hondo on his return to Tokyo from Vietnam where he worked as a war photographer. On the plane he falls for stewardess Yoriko (Chieko Matsubara) and pursues her in the why men always pursued women in films from the 60’s which amounts to nothing short of felony stalking these days. He refuses to take no for an answer as far as dinner goes –and women in these older flicks love it when a guy makes all their decisions for them and never hear the word no- and later they are in a ritzy night club. Hondo is soon dancing with Yoriko and compliments on her on how well she holds her liquor. Men in these old movies like women who have drinking problems it seems. The evening takes a turn for the sinister when Yoriko runs from the restaurant in fear that she is being followed. Hiondo chases her outside and soon finds himself in the midst of a violent confrontation between black leather clad females and what appears to gangsters. They appear to be gangsters because they dress well but look ugly and make scowling facial expressions all the time. The girls kill the man by stabbing him in the back and then setting up Hondo for the crime after they have thrown some hi-tech spy weaponry his way. And that would be bubble gum in his eyes. The plot suddenly gets rather convoluted and best to just go along for the ride rather than try to figure it all out. His American friend Lopez –who is totally white and not Hispanic- helps to bail him out of the frame-up using his perfect Japanese. In fact there are lots of big Americans in the film and they all seem to be in league with the Yakuza or up to no good. I have read that Hasebe seems to take an unkind look at the American occupiers of Japan in many of his films and the negative effects they had on Japanese culture. Hey but they should have thought of that before they began WWII right! The Black Tight Killers are in the middle of it all. They are a group of go-go dancers from Okinawa who have come looking for the same thing the Yakuza are looking for; information leading to a fortune in gold that Yoriko’s uncles knows the location of. But he was killed in the war and left a clue somewhere to be found and figured out. It becomes a race between the Black Tight Killers and the Yakuza to get their hands on Yorika and find the location of the gold that she has no clue about. In the middle of all this Hondo is trying to pursue a relationship with Yoriko who constantly being kidnapped and re-kidnapped. While, he is serious about Yoriko –telling a friend that she is special and that she may be the one- this does not stop him from doing the dirty with one of the Black Tight Killers… and hell, who can blame him. Although the seduction is actually a trap set by one of the girls so she wrap her thighs around him and lock him into place while pinching s pressure point on his neck to get information out of him. But it still looks fun.

And now a few words about the Black tight Killers themselves. Some reference is made by someone where in the film that they must be ninja trained. And that may well be though we never find out for sure. Not only can they adroitly use the traditional ninja weapon of bubble gum to blind an adversary but they are equally skilled in slinging vinyl records as shurikens but ordinary tape measures become lethal tool in their capable hands. But one big problem with the lovely gals is that after they ruthlessly stab one guy in the back with a switchblade they suddenly start dying off with relative ease at the hands of the yakuza. One by one they die off and for the most part in the arms of Hondo where they exchange some sweet words before the heroine succumbs. After a couple die Hondo mutters how she was a “nice girl”. What? They stabbed a Yakuza in the back earlier over gold. The death scenes are a trifle corny to say the least in particular one scene where a girl is shot in the back and falls over a stair railing several floors high. She lands with a splat but manages enough life to not only say some sweet words to Hondo but to appropriately cover her nipples with cupped hands before she dies. Now that is Japanese modesty at it best. In fact I even got confused as to which girl was which most of the time. In fact this might sound racist but I bet I am not the only one out there who has had this problem. In most Asian pictures I have a hard time telling one character from another. Okay I may go to white man hell for that but it is true. Unless the character stands out like Akiro Kobayashi does I start getting bewildered as to who is now talking to who and especially with female character who all dress the same and have the same hairstyle. And I want to tell you something, I live in China and I know for a fact that Chinese people have the same problems! They often cannot tell one female character from the other themselves especially when it comes to the newer, mainstream films where all the females have the same sort of look anymore. And the subs for this film do not make these problems any easier. While readable in many areas they are white and, as I understand it, burned into the original print.  Meaning they cannot be edited. So when the background is white you simply cannot read the subs. But I tend to not worry too much about these trifles in a film like this and some consternation is part of the package.

The film, as I said, seems to be paying homage to the James Bond films of the time and one scene in particular seems lifted right out of 1964’s Goldfinger. In the memorable scene from the opening of Goldfinger Jill Masterson (played by Shirley Eaton) is spray painted gold and dies from suffocation as her skin pores are all closed up. Does seem like this is a bit of a scientific error and people would die of suffocation so long as they could still breathe through their nose and mouth but they could die of  excessive heat exhaustion from not being able to sweat any longer, though it would take a couple days perhaps for this to happen. In any case it is a neat idea for a spy film and it is recreated in Black Tight Killers when the Yakuza begin to spray paint Yoriko unless she gives them the information they seek. The deal is she still has on her bikini top and bottom so she would hardly be covered head to toe in spray paint. But the scene and the following conflict with what’s left of the Black Tight girls and the Yakuza mobsters is another vehicle for Hasebe to go a little crazy with the lights, colors and camera work. In one part a ganster is in front of cans of paint that spew forth bright primary colors of blue and red when bullets hit them. Yoriko’s body is covered in paint but she is placed in front of a wall of multi-colored hues that was used for testing spray paint. The fight sequence is exceptional, as are most in the film, and the image of Hondo walking around with a spray gun as flame thrower is as powerful as any image of a  gunfighter in a Sergio Leone film.

The film ends up with all the Black Tight Killers dead as far as I can tell and the white guys being the real bad guys. If we can learn any lesson from the film –as Hondo certainly did- it is do not close your eyes for a girl when she asks to, especially when you just confessed to having slept with a slinky ninja femme fatale. Of course be sure to tell it was only one time. That way she only knocks out a few of your teeth. The film has me more than a little interested in  seeing more of Nikkatsu’s Yakuza Eiga (gangster films) from this time period, but I doubrt most will be as light hearted and fun as this one. It is a delight to watch scene to scene and it is not crucial to try and follow all the action and plot twists. I guess next I will be checking out Assualt! Jack the Ripper! but somehow I feel I will comparing it to this one, the way I compared Bava’s 70’s films like Shock to his 60’s masterpieces like Planet of the Vampires and Black Sabbath. I always get the feeling when I see these latter type films that it is a sign of a visionary losing creative control and power to the studio that needs to turn a profit. Hey, you gotta make a buck to survive, right? But I haven’t seen the film yet and will get back, eventually, after I do. For now I will savor the good taste left in my mouth by Black Tight Killers.


Posted in Trailers, Video Clip on May 26, 2011 by Bill Courtney