Sunday, July 21, 2024

Tidbits for July 2024

The other day, I saw Alex and The Gypsy, a 1976 romantic comedy starring Jack Lemmon and Geneviève Bujold.  

It is a long-forgotten film that I had never seen before.  Alex (Lemmon), a bail bondsman, gets a phone call from an old girlfriend, Maritza (Bujold).  She is in jail for stabbing her husband and begs him to post her bail.  Alex was devastated when Maritza left him and is not sure that he wants to help her.  The couple has a colorful and stormy history, as we see in flashbacks.  I must admit that the two lead characters aren't likable most of the time.  This makes the film hard to take.  

An IMDb reviewer, moonspinner55, wrote, "It takes a real hack to make a nuisance of Lemmon and Bujold."  Still, I am a huge Jack Lemmon fan.  It was great to come upon this lost film.  

Eddie Murphy's movies have made lots of money in the last forty years.  The comedian has received great support from his loyal fan base.  Many of his fans are willing to see even his lesser films.  The much derided Vampire in Brooklyn actually made money.  It simply did not do Beverly Hills Cop numbers.  The comedian has had four flops in forty years: The Adventures of Pluto Nash (2002), Meet Dave (2008), A Thousand Words (2012) and Mr. Church (2016).  That's a great track record.

Peter Yates, the director of Bullitt (1968), added a car chase scene to Bullitt during production.  He had directed a similar car chase scene the year before in a British crime thriller called Robbery (1967).

Alfred Hitchcock sent a fan letter to Billy Wilder. 

Don Knotts' Grave Stone

Chester Clute and Ernest Truex are a fine double act in Dance, Girl, Dance (1940).

Dana Andrews interrogates Gene Tierney in Laura (1944). 

This may be the only funny moment in Days of Wine and Roses (1962).

Here's a vintage Laurel and Hardy bank.

Michael J. Fox and Jimmy Cagney

John Ford's Stagecoach (1939) features many beautifully composed shots.

The Three Stooges were still fully committed to clowning in 1969. 

dog mommies 

Safe In Hell (1931)

Dance, Girl, Dance (1940)

Far and Away (1992)

Trial and Error (1997)

Croisieres Siderales (1942)

Harlan Ellison called Back to the Future (1985) "a piece of shit."  He said of the popular film, "It is a rip-off, a steal from Bob Heinlein's [1973 novel] Time Enough for Love to begin with.  It is absolutely mindless, empty-headed, manipulative and it’s a sitcom."  Only one small part of Time Enough for Love is shared with Back to the Future.  A man who travels back in time finds himself in a romantic entanglement with his own mother.  But, otherwise, the properties are entirely different. 

Precursors exist for many famous properties.  The premise of Pierre Boulle's 1963 novel "Planet of the Apes" was not original.

L. Sprague de Camp's 1939 short story "Living Fossil" takes place in a distant future on Earth.  By this time, mankind has regressed to primitive animals and has been replaced as the dominant species by the capuchin monkey.  Two capuchin monkeys working as timber scouts wander into a territory ruled by a tribe of savage humans.  The story details the monkeys effort to escape the humans and get back home safely.

Mr. de Camp expanded on this idea with his 1950 novel 'Genus Homo."  This is the summary provided by Wikipedia: 
A bus is trapped in the cave-in of a tunnel and its passengers are preserved for millennia in a state of suspended animation. When their vehicle is ultimately uncovered, they awaken to a future in which humankind has vanished from the face of the earth, and gorillas have evolved to intelligence and become a dominant species. The preserved humans must now adjust to a world in which they have become obsolete.
The first gorillas that the humans see are using a monstrously large and ugly wild boar to pull a wagon.  At first, the boar draws their attention more than the gorillas.  But they become more interested in the gorillas when they realize the gorillas can talk.  The man who serves as the story’s narrator writes: 
The apes talked among themselves in high, penetrating voices that sounded odd coming from those immense black chests.  It was obviously an intelligent language, full of throaty consonants rather like coughing or retching sounds.
He describes the gorillas as having “bright little eyes."

The gorillas are fairly peaceful.  Wikipedia notes: 
[The gorillas] migrated to North America to escape the aggressive chimps (G'thong-smith), warlike baboons (Pfenmll) and mercenary orangutans (Toof K'thll). . . As in the 1968 Planet of the Apes film, the gorillas have a peculiar mix of primitive and advanced technology.

The truth is that, prior to Planet of the Apes, many science fiction writers explored the idea of a future Earth where evolution's twists and turns upset mankind's dominance in the animal kingdom.  

I planned to make a video on the ten highest rated comedy films on the Internet Movie Database.  I was surprised to find that the highest rated comedy film was a 1931 German film called The Soaring Maiden (1931).  

The film starred S. Z. Sakall, who would later become a leading character actor in Hollywood.  I have never seen this film.  It is an obscure film that is not available in the United States.  A DVD can be purchased from a German supplier on eBay, but the DVD is without English subtitles.  I'm sure that it is a charming film.  It was based on a popular stage play that was revived a number of times.  But the funniest film of all time?  I doubt it.  This is a scene from a 1974 television adaptation.

This is from a 1988 television adaption.

The audience is obviously enjoying it, but the lack of subtitles makes it impossible for me to judge its merits.  I decided at this point that the IMDb rating system was not reliable and abandoned the project.  

According to Internet Movie Database, Eric Roberts has appeared in 735 films.  He acted in 52 films so far this year.  Realize that the year won't be over for another five and a half months.  These are extremely low-budget exploitation films.  Why Is Roberts doing this?  He must have paid for Emma's braces decades ago.  He told The Hollywood Reporter:
The way I look at it is that I'm one of the luckiest guys in Hollywood. We get anywhere from eight to 30 offers every single day from all over the world.  It's just so much fun to have all these offers and get to play such an extreme range of characters. . . It gets me out of bed in the morning. I'm an older guy now, so all my bosses are much younger than I am. They’re just kids, but this generation is so technically adept. And they like me enough to call me, so I appreciate them enough to show up.

I could only find production stills for eight of the 52 films that Roberts made this year.  

Amityville Bigfoot

Holiday in the Hamptons

Intent Unknown


My Redneck Neighbor II

Séance Games: Metaxu

Space Sharks

Terror of the Soul

Other prolific actors (though not nearly as prolific as Roberts) are Ed Asner, James Hong, Danny Trejo, Keith David and Ed Begley Jr.  

AI Art Notes for July 2024

Image by stealthy

Midjourney loves evil clowns.  A day doesn't go by without a new batch of these nightmare creatures appearing with menacing grins spread across the pixels of their faces.  Look at the loving detail. 

Image by Algoartist

The program also loves robots.

Image by Algoartist

Image by greylady8582

Image by InsertWittySaying

Image by InsertWittySaying

Image by InsertWittySaying

Image by InsertWittySaying

Image by Dan Semenuk

Image by Marc Reusser

Image by Marc Reusser

King Kong is a fun subject on Midjourney.

Image by smalllanguagemodel

These 1920s ghost encounters have a Blair Witch vibe.

Mona Lisa tries something by vkuoo

Yellow Medusa turns Star Wars into a 1960s spaghetti western.

Alternate Reality Media created a Muppets version of The Shining.

The is 1950's Super Panavision Powerpuff Girls movie is from The AI Kingdom. 

Anton Chigurh, the psychopathic killer who serves as the protagonist of No Country for Old Men (2007), is occasionally used as a subject by Midjourney subscribers.  

Image by bluelakefx

I have seen No Country for Old Men three or four times in the last seventeen years.  Each time that I see the film, I find myself less impressed than the time before.  Apart from his weird haircut and weirder ideas about a cold and merciless fate, Chigurh is an unstoppable killing machine no different than The Terminator or Jason Voorhees.  I'm surprised that they haven't made a Jason vs. Anton Chigurh film.  I can easily imagine what that film would look like.

This month, I didn't get very far with many of my AI art projects.  I figured that it would be funny to rework The Good, The Bad and The Ugly as a Three Stooges comedy, but Midjourney comes nowhere near to capturing the comic perfect likeness of Moe, Larry and Curly.  

I used a face swap program to create this image. 

I worked hard to create a Final Destination trailer in the style of a 1920s Mack Sennett comedy.  

The Sennett comedies were as violent and surreal as the Final Destination films.

My efforts did no go as smoothly as I hoped they would, but I thought that the trailer was worth posting anyway.  You can find the trailer here

I came away with a few spare images.     

These next images are meant to look like scenes from a Final Destination film.  

I had the idea of creating an Austin Powers spy spoof in the style of a 1920s silent film.  I didn't get the results that I hoped to get, but I really like these alternate universe interpretations of the character. 

Midjourney has gotten good at creating images from references photos.  I liked this photo of actress Emilia Clarke and race car driver Charles Leclerc.  

Here is what Midjourney did with that photo. 

I saw this old red carpet photo of Mary Elizabeth Winstead on Twitter.  

I directly fed it into the AI program and was able to produce portraits of Ms. Winstead in many different styles.

I asked Midjourney to recreate the truck scene from The Sorcerer (1977).

This is what it turned out.  Not bad.

This is a couple of Gene Tierney portraits that the program produced for me.

I got several nice images from a portrait of Rosemary Forsyth.

Here they are.

My favorite picture of myself was taken when I was four years old.  In the picture, I am clutching a big, overly furry tabby cat in my arms and look like the happiest little boy on the planet.  So, of course, I was pleased to see these images produced by prosterozwiazanie. 

Have a nice day.