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August 16th, 2006

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11:35 pm
You know, really, you ought to just go over to the Brattle and give 'em a $20 bill. Just cause.

Tonight was Hans Conreid night at the Brattle. Not only did he voice the two kings in THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH, but he also completely and utterly stole the entire goddamn show, lock stock and piano, in THE 5,000 FINGERS OF DR. T.

The first film will give you new respect for Chuck Jones as an animated director; the animation and the art direction was incredible. I'm not sure who's responsible for the film falling apart near the end, once Rhyme and Reason start doing their thing, but wow. Overall it's just plain incredible to watch. What a visual treat. Even though Norton Juster is an Amherst local hero and I love the book and all that, boy howdy does the metaphor step back near the end and go "You know what, folks? Just present this shit literally. Yeah, just, uh, shoot the Two-Headed Hypocrite with the word 'FORTHRIGHT'. And shoot the word 'HUMILITY' at the Know-It-All. There you go. If you need me, I'll be out back sucking on some Freudian imagery."

Even so, I love good ol' Tock.

DR. T, by the way, was incredible. Absolutely incredible. A complete and awful mess, to be sure, but it's live-action Dr. Seuss right there on the goddamn screen and a live-action Hans Conreid doing his most incredibly campy villain role ever. The set design for this film is Fritz Lang meets Dr. Seuss meets Technicolor. The musical numbers are horrible, with the exception of a few key dance numbers and Conreid's dressing sequence. The plumber looks like he'd be better off as the captain of a spaceship in a z-grade sci-fi number. There are two men with conjoined beards on rollerskates. And Mr. Conreid chews every available piece of scenery, intones every line with amazing camp, and ust looks fabulous. I highly suggest someone making me the goddamn purple-and-black outfit he has for a Halloween costume. I can pay cash moneys for it too. The film is both terrible and awesome at the same time. While the Brattle crowd howled a lot for a 9:30 show (and some guy in balcony center had this incredibly loud, braying laugh that at first I thought was just sarcastic, but turns out it must've been his real laff) there sure was a lot of applause after certain scenes.

And any time you can applaud both Chuck Jones and Dr. Seuss in opening credits is fine by me.

Tonight was also Child Actor Night at the Brattle; Tommy Rettig from Lassie played the little boy hero in DR. T and Butch "Eddie Munster" Patrick played Milo in THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH... at the AGE OF SEVENTEEN?! Holy cats!

(6 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:August 17th, 2006 01:28 pm (UTC)
I still think that The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T would have been a better name for that Robert Altman-Richard Gere-large cast of overlapping dialogue about a Texas gynecologist, than Dr. T and The Women.
[User Picture]
Date:August 17th, 2006 01:38 pm (UTC)
I love movie #2.

I have a 78 by Peter Lind Hayes and Mary Healy, but it's not one of the songs from the movie. In it, Mary wishes she was a car so that Peter would pay attention to her.
[User Picture]
Date:August 17th, 2006 03:00 pm (UTC)
...holy cats, that's some serious disturbing imagery there. I wonder if there were supposed to be more "real world" scenes in between.

I love how the conjoined twins are foreshadowed by two portraits on top of the Collins' piano in the "real world" opening.

Oh it is glorious.
[User Picture]
Date:August 17th, 2006 03:31 pm (UTC)
If this is the same Phantom Tollbooth I saw about 15 years ago, I thought the whole thing was poorly done. I felt that the liberties that they took from the book did not fit at all.
[User Picture]
Date:August 17th, 2006 04:24 pm (UTC)
I've only seen pieces of The Phantom Tollbooth, but the thing that made it hard for me to get into it had nothing to do with the text; it was that I was so familiar with the Jules Feiffer illustrations in the book and Jones went with a very different-looking style.

The book is actually one of the most heavy-handed extended allegories written since Pilgrim's Progress. It's amazing to me that it works as well as it does for as long as it does; maybe it's just that the very mid-20C-liberal, pro-intellectual, pro-reconciliation-between-the-Two-Cultures message being delivered is one I'm extremely sympathetic to. But my recollection is that the book does lose interest toward the end as the allegory becomes more straightforward and less imaginative.
[User Picture]
Date:August 19th, 2006 11:40 am (UTC)
You all should come back to the Brattle on Sunday, October 8, at noon. They're having a free 2 1/2 hour screening of short subjects and cartoons from Off The Wall Cinema.

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