Sunday, June 29, 2008

"The Nude Bomb"

As much as I did enjoy the latest film based on the GET SMART series, I quickly realized one thing: I'll forever miss Don Adams. Credit goes to Steve Carell for not completely trying to ape Adams' brilliance and lending his own style to the role, but still...

The good thing when it comes to remakes is that the mass audience hasn't the slightest clue that their witnessing a remake (that's not the good part) and Hollywood must then tap into the exploitive vein by reissuing those prior influences (the good part). As is the case with Universal's big screen 1980 film, THE NUDE BOMB.

The VHS has been out of print for several years (I should know since I sold it for a nice chunk o' change on eBay a long while back) and this is the first release to DVD. Over the past few months, the film has received a few airings on HBO and I've caught fragments of it, causing me to want to see it again. It was never a great film, doomed from the start by it's lack of connection to the original series, but it is a chance to see Adams revisit his iconic character of Maxwell Smart, which, to me, is worth the price of admission alone.

Upon purchasing the DVD and viewing the film all over again, it still seems like a combination of light-hearted and somewhat half-assed entertainment, yet now with Adams' passing a few years ago, the end result is bittersweet. If handled properly (i.e. employing the talents of Mel Brooks and Buck Henry in some capacity), this film could have been greatness. Adams wins all the laughs here (not too many, really) and his fellow female agents, played by Andrea Howard, Pamela Hensley and Sylvia Kristel, are definite eye candy. Kristel receives second billing here, but is barely used (not in that way) and her role here is a direct result of her appearance in the previous Jennings Lang production, THE CONCORDE: AIRPORT '79.

My favorite moments of this film still hold up. Without question, the chase sequence taking place at Universal City Studios is the one element that grabbed me when I first saw the film as a kid. For me, Universal City Studios spells PSYCHO and JAWS and you get to see a bit of both here. My other favorite scene involves Agent 86 attempting to rescue Agent 22 (Howard) in the film's finale. 22's legs are "numb" and is helpless to run away, from the mere-moments-away explosion, on her own. 86 lifts her up into his arms, exclaiming, "Jesus!" as he cannot hold her weight. She begins to fall through his arms while he continues "trying" to help by unsuccessfully lifting her over his shoulders, faintly pushing her and eventually resigning to dragging her across the floor. Finally, she says, "Max, I think I'm getting some feeling down there!" to which 86 brilliantly responds, "There's no time for that now, 22." Dead-pan, uncomfortably awkward comedy. I loves it!

The DVD boasts a fine 1.85:1 transfer with the original mono soundtrack intact, unfortunately there are no supplemental features available. The theatrical trailer would have been nice.

Also, I've often wondered if this film served as some sort of inspiration to David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Jerry Zucker when titling the big screen adaptation of their POLICE SQUAD! series, THE NAKED GUN. Probably not the case, but an interesting comparison.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

JAWS Rip-Offs

Steven Spielberg's JAWS has always been one of my favorite films, certainly the one I've been most obsessed with and have seen more than any other. To me, it's a perfect film. And, there's always been this unwritten rule that if I'm flipping through the channels and come across a showing that's about to begin or already in progress, I simply must cave-in and watch it. The same rule applies to THE BLUES BROTHERS and Spielberg's other epic, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND.

That being said, it's always proved to be a successful blueprint for exploitative producers to steal a little thunder here and there. Of course, the best era for the JAWS rip-offs were during the JAWS craze which spans roughly from when the original JAWS premiered in 1975 to the release of one of the last directly-inspired films from the over-bled trend, Lamberto Bava's DEVILFISH in '84.

So, being a JAWS fan, I've always loved all FOUR films (Yeah, I said it!) and most of the rip-offs from that period.

If you love them too, then it's time to test your noggin' on my masterful (not really) quiz!


Enjoy and best of luck!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Are you down with QT DVD?

So, let me get this straight. QuikTrip is not only a great place to get gas, beer, air fresheners, energy gum and slushies, but also, the ultimate video store?! WOW! Why go anywhere else for those awesome completely over-saturated DVD releases designed for mass market appeal, when I can get them at the QT! Not only that, but look at how thrilled my girlfriend will be when I come home with a QT DVD! I'll make sure to call to give her a "heads up" to get that microwave popcorn started! "But, honey, we're all out of microwave popcorn!" "Whuh? Why I bet the QT has some! And, they do! They're simply the best! Better than all the rest! Better than anyone! Anyone I've ever met! Ah, they're the best!" Insert me dancing like a wacky doorknob here.
Yet another way for gas stations to make a little more coin, since $4 per gallon of unleaded just ain't cuttin' it. Those poor saps!