Where Danger Lives (and a Degree of Stoogeration…)

It’s been quite a while since I’ve added anything to what was supposed to be a movie review blog about films that had a connection to the Three Stooges (and I couldn’t help but notice that my Flesh Feast review was supposed to go live FIVE YEARS AGO!!!! Hey, I guess if patience is a virtue, I’ve got it in spades!)

Anyhoo–this entry is about one of the oddest degrees of Stoogeration I’ve ever run across. I first noticed it when I was reading the excellent One Fine Stooge many moons ago. It seems that one of Larry’s grandkids were waiting to visit him at the Motion Picture Home and the nurses told them that they couldn’t enter just yet because Larry already had a visitor. One of the granddaughters finally got it out of the nurse just who this secret visitor was…one Edward G. Robinson! It turns out Robinson never went through the regular entrance–he just showed up at the patio door, knocked, and Larry let him in. The granddaughter was obviously fascinated that the G man himself didn’t have to go through regular channels (I must admit, this fascinated me too–in fact, I need to search to see if there’s any photos of them together.)

Note: after a cursory search, I could find no pictures of them together. Plenty of photos of him with the likes of Ted Knight, Clint Eastwood, Phyllis Diller, Frankie Avalon, Joan Crawford, Harry Cohn, and police officers from the many, many, many police functions they performed at during the mid-to-late 1960s.) How and where did they meet? Did they strike up a friendship when Robinson was at Columbia?

I know, I know–you’re asking what the f*** does this have to do with “Six Degrees of Stoogeration?” Welp, Impatient Reader, I’m going to tell you right now: Burnett Guffey.

Now, whom is Burnett Guffey, you may ask? Well, let’s get to the reason why he’s a degree of Stoogeration.

The beginning of a wonderful career in film noir, though you wouldn’t think it!
Who knew that there was an Academy Award winning cinematographer filming a guy in a beat-up monkey suit?
Just LOOK at these credits!
Of course, this needs no introduction…
Dustin Hoffman and Katharine Ross announcing Guffey’s win for Bonnie and Clyde
(Original Caption) Katherine Ross and Dustin Hoffman are shown with Burnett Guffey, after they presented him with an Oscar for “Best Achievement in Cinematography” at the Academy Awards presentations.
Just LOOK at the shadows here–for some reason, this reminds me of the latter-era Shemp shorts (Gypped in the Penthouse comes to mind), with more elaborate use of shadows, better sets (of course they were from other movies, but still!)
And this last one…JUST LOOK AT IT! It’s glorious!

So, this is how Six Degrees of Stoogeration is played. You can link Edward G. Robinson to Warren Beatty to Faye Dunaway to James Earl Jones (The Great White Hope), to Frank Sinatra (both for From Here to Eternity and The Frank Sinatra Show (1950).

And lest you think I’d forgotten my opening paragraph, here’s a link between Larry Fine, Edward G. Robinson, and Burnett Guffey:

I love this one in particular–you get the whole Hitchockian look (okay, let’s call it what it is…an imitation) but I’d love this even more if Ginger Rogers could be even larger, with Edward G’s head looking less like an afterthought. Brian Keith’s image could be “snazzed up” as well (I’m not a graphics person, so forgive me for my lack of graphics terminology.)

I also like these–I could still do without the obvious headshot of EGR…poster artists could be sooooo creative (just take a look at some of these examples–yet they loved to go back to that floating headshot well…)

The Sad Tragic Fate Of Veronica Lake | National Enquirer

By DICK SIEGEL, NATIONAL ENQUIRER online editor Jan 22, 2015 @ 5:33AM

Femme fatal film icon VERONICA LAKE fell from Hollywood heights to waiting tables in a sleazy women’s only hotel before succumbing to the ravages of alcoholism and mental illness at only age 50.  

Veronica Lake was born in Brooklyn, New York on November 14, 1922 as Constance Frances Marie Ockleman. Her father worked for an oil company as a ship employee and died in a tragic oil tanker explosion.

Her ethereal beauty, natural charm coupled with a talent for acting prompted her mother and tubercular step-father to move to Beverly Hills, California, where they enrolled her in the Bliss Hayden School of Acting in Hollywood.

Although Connie had been previously diagnosed as a classic schizophrenic her parents saw acting as a form of treatment for her condition. She soon found work as a bit player in several unremarkable pictures but “Sorority House” director John Farrow (Mia Farrow’s father) saw how her long flowing hair always covered her right eye, creating an hint of allure and mystery. While still a teenager, Farrow introduced her to Paramount producer Arthur Hornblow who promptly changed her name to Veronica Lake.

Veronica’s breakthrough film was “I Wanted Wings” in 1941, a major box office hit. 

She then became Paramount’s top female star toplining such classics as “Sullivan’s Travels”, “This Gun for Hire”, The Glass Key”, “So Proudly We Hail” and “I Married A Witch”.

 “She was a very gifted girl, but shedidn’t believe she was gifted,” director Rene Clair recalled.

Often paired with diminutive star Alan Ladd, the couple made seven films together. At first it was out of necessity as Ladd was just 5 feet five while Lake was 4 feet  11 inch but the pair had undeniable on-screen chemistry  

For a short time during the early 1940s, Veronica was at the height of Hollywood stardom.

During World War Two, the rage for her peek-a-boo bangs became a hazard when women in the defense industry would get their hair caught in machinery. Lake was staged in a publicity picture in which she reacted painfully to her hair getting “caught” in a drill press illustrating her hazardous ‘do. Finally, Lake famously cut her hair and, sadly, her popularity diminished.

By the early 1950’s Lake’s career had hit the skids.

Still battling schizophrenia, and in a state of paranoia, she began drinking heavily. As her mental state deteriorated further, with two failed marriages, Veronica became manic-depressive as her self-destructive addiction to booze pushed her over the edge.

Soon, with no film career and little alimony after an IRS forced bankruptcy, Lake drifted between cheap hotels in New York City. She was arrested several times for public drunkenness and disorderly conduct.

In 1963, a reporter found her working as a barmaid/waitress while living at the seedy all-women’s $7-a-night Martha Washington Hotel in Manhattan. In the hotel bar, Lake was working under an alias — Connie De Toth (“House of Wax” director Andre DeToth had been her second hubby).

Lake had never revealed her true name to her co-workers nor customers although her boss Joe Rauji at the Colonnade Bar knew who she was.  “She’s a good girl but she’s had a hard time,” he told a reporter.

Lake later toiled at other bars including Greenwich Village’s famed One Fifth getting a steady paycheck and a never ending stream of booze.

The widely circulated news reports of her plight led to some minor TV and film work  but Lake soon made a financial comeback by penning her memoirs.

 With the profits from her best selling tell-all, Lake co-produced and starred in her last film, “Flesh Feast” (1970), a micro-budget horror movie with a Nazi-myth storyline. It bombed.

After another failed marriage and brief sojourn in England, Lake returned home.

She was already “pretty far along” when she was admitted to the Fletcher Allen Hospital in Vermont, doctors said.

Finally, in the early morning hours of July 7, 1973, Veronica Lake died from hepatitis and acute renal failure — seemingly alone and forgotten at the age of 50.

That is, until the news broke, when suddenly EVERYONE remembered. 

Day 1 of 31 Days of Terror! Dancing Away to the “Point of Terror”

Point of Terror 1Point of Terror 2

Point of Terror Year: 1971 Genre: Horror, Thriller Director: Alex Nicol Stars: Peter Carpenter, Dyanne Thorne, Lory Hansen A nightclub singer has nightmares about being involved in adultery and mur…

Source: Dancing Away to the “Point of Terror”

March Madness & Movie Mayhem, Day 26! Mr. No Legs – 1979 – Review

via Mr. No Legs – 1979 – Review

If you have lots of free time on your hands, take a look at the wonderful time-wasting site The Worst Movies Ever Made. Now, “worst” is in the eye of the beholder, but holy gee whiz…this one’s bad. Not even the ever-present John Agar or Richard Jaeckel can help this turkey. And when you finally get to see the title character, look out!

 

 

March Movie Madness & Mayhem, Day 24: Hagsploitation!

Hagsploitation: a term that I possibly just thought up or I stole it from someone else (but can’t remember who it was). Either way, it’s a term that usually brings to mind actresses “of a certain age,” like Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Shelley Winters or even Debbie Reynolds (when she and Winters starred in What’s the Matter With Helen, she was all of 38 years old!)

However, hagsploitation wasn’t just for women—any time you saw an old vaudevillian like George Jessel in Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood, it was hagsploitation. Sure, it was said to be a cameo, but come on, we know what it was, and it was hagsploitation, pure and simple.

Now this may sound like I’m knocking older actors for appearing in films long past their “prime.” Come on—I’m a Stooge fan that wanted to see Howard, Sitka and DeRita in Blazing Stewardesses—I can hardly be called anti-hag! Interestingly, it was director Al Adamson’s leitmotif—giving older actors a chance to get in front of new audiences. Whether or not the vehicles used for that chance were any good or not…well, work is work!

Enjoy these sites and their reviews of hagsploitation films!

What’s the Matter With Helen? (1971) from Dreams Are What Le Cinema Is For… it’s got repressed lesbianism, murderous sons, and religious fundamentalism.

What's the Matter With Helen

Blazing Stewardesses (1975) from DVD Drive-In…

Blazing Stewardesses

Last but not least, Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood (1976), from The Aisle Seat…

Won Ton Ton

March Madness & Movie Mayhem (Day 22!)…Nazisploitation!

Nazisploitation

via Nazi exploitation – Wikipedia

You knew it was coming–there was no way I could talk about Flesh Feast, Hitler, and anti-aging maggots without bringing up #Nazisploitation!

I’d love to think that Flesh Feast (1967, released in 1970) was the first film to explore Nazisploitation, but that would make me forget this…

They Saved Hitler’s Brain (1962)

They Saved Hitler's Brain

The Great Dictator

The Great Dictator

The Nazty Nuisance

Nazty Nuisance

And of course, You Nazty Spy!

You Nazty Spy 1

Of course, it goes without saying…Stooges did it first! But seriously, Nazisploitation was going on even before the world knew of most of the atrocities Hitler (and the allies, but we’re focusing on Hitler/Nazisploitation now) were committing. The “Throw him in a concentrative camp!” joke Moe makes is odd–people were using black humor as the war was going on to stay sane? Granted, that joke was better than the Stooges’ other war efforts, in particular 1944’s No Dough, Boys and  The Yoke’s On Me. (That one is particularly ugggggggggggg….)

So, IS there a “true” beginning of Nazisploitation, or is it a case of many people having the same idea at roughly the same time? I’m thinking a little of both, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there wasn’t a Poverty Poverty Poverty Row studio out there that somehow managed to beat Columbia to the punch and released a short in 1938!

March Madness & Movie Mayhem (Day 20!)–Octaman

Octaman Postervia » Octaman (1971)»Monster Shack Movie Reviews

Hoo, boy! Is this a stinker, or is this a stinker? In fact, it stinks so badly, the star of the film didn’t live long enough to see it completed! Pier Angeli committed suicide before filming was completed. Now, I can’t say whether or not this terrible film assisted her decision in any way. In fact, it’s impossible to say–however, if I were already pre-disposed to depression, and I was working on a film like this, or working ANY job that is just gut-bustingly horrible, I might be more inclined to take a few more Nembutals with my champagne dinner.

Now that I’ve gotten you thoroughly depressed, cheer yourself up with a visit to the good folks at the Monster Shack Reviews site. Not only do they have oldy-moldy-goldies like Octaman, they’ve also got modern movies, from the 2010s!

March Movie Madness & Mayhem (Day 19?)

DVF71-poster4

via AND YOU CALL YOURSELF A SCIENTIST! – Dracula Vs Frankenstein (1971)

We return to the wonderful And You Call Yourself A Scientist! to take a look at yet ANOTHER Frankenstein’s Monster…Al Adamson’s Dracula vs. Frankenstein. I’d bet $3 (half of the movie’s budget once they finished paying the actors) that this was patched together from even more movies than Adamson admitted. Of course, it began as a biker film, just as the gloriously theme songed “The Fakers.” That film had a theme song by Nelson “I worked with Sinatra” Riddle, but there was something a bit “off” about the lyrics. A little digging, and it turns out that my instinct was right–the music was Riddle’s, but the oddly off lyrics were pure Adamson (he may have had some help). My point–and I do have one–is that I’m fairly certain that this type of movie (the patched together remnants of at least 3 other films) couldn’t have gotten any play except in the 1970s (and earlier). Jules White did it with the Three Stooges, turning out “new” shorts in a matter of HOURS. Who’d notice that Creeps was almost exactly the same as The Ghost Talks? No one, that’s who. Little attention was being paid to short subjects, and the same goes for these types of movies for the drive-in circuit. Who was really paying much attention to what was going on? You were either necking, getting high, drinking, or getting high while necking and drinking.

Anyhoo, enjoy another fine review from And You Call Yourself a Scientist!

March Movie Madness & Mayhem (Day 15?)–Cult of the Damned (1969) – Journeys in Classic Film

Apparently, I’ve lost ANOTHER day somewhere (Day 15 is missing, just like Bunny Lake!) So, without further ado, here’s what SHOULD’VE been featured…Angel, Angel Down We Go (aka Cult of the Damned). You’ve got Jennifer Jones, Roddy McDowall, Lou Rawls, Holly Near, and most importantly, Joe Besser in a cameo as a tour bus driver.

via Cult of the Damned (1969) – Journeys in Classic Film

March Movie Madness & Mayhem (Days 10 and 14!) – The Last Drive In

via Doctor Death: Seeker of Souls 1973 – The Last Drive In

Well, how ’bout that?! Apparently, I skipped over day 10 in my “writings.” Meh, I’ll just kill two birds with one stone…but how? What two things can I cover in less than a thousand words that would cover my love of all things 1970s and the last films of famous folks?

Did someone ask for Doctor Death, Seeker of Souls? If you didn’t, too bad! There are no degrees of stoogeration here, because there’s an actual Stooge in it–one Moe Howard (credited as the man in the audience/volunteer). I’ve heard his cameo described as a dirty old man, but the man had been in vaudeville/burlesque! Who wouldn’t be a dirty old man (or woman) after that?! After you read about Doctor Death, check out all the other cool stuff at
The Last Drive In!