Case of the Duplicate Case
Philip Saltzman’s script is a wry, bitter farce about a very bad wife with several lovers and admirers in and around the department store she works for. The husband is a ballplayer turned arch support salesman, lingering on the vine.
The comedy centers around three briefcases, two containing samples and one with money blackmailed from an embezzler.
Goldstone works with the actors closely to achieve the strong notes of tragedy.
Flame and the Pussycat
The warehouse “firebug” with an analytical view by George Clayton Johnson pivoting on girlie magazines in one instance.
A Michael Anderson case of insurance fraud merely, if one likes. The medical supplies go one way (abroad or out on the black market), the warehouse crates another.
Industrious legwork cracks the case, a horse named Firebomb comes in.
Where No Man Has Gone
The pattern of the teleplay is to erect a godlike couple out of the crew and see them divide. This iconic ministration is slowly accomplished as the pair (Gary Lockwood and Sally Kellerman) with their richly glinting eyes and paranormal intuitions make themselves such a threat on an empty mining planet it must be bombed unless they’re stopped.
The unitary godhead, Captain Kirk observes, will not suffer a rival. The two destroy each other in the dry lack of observation that is a deliberate component of the teleplay, leaving only a residue of emotion and monstrosity.
What Are Little Girls
Nigel Kneale’s The Stone Tape has something in common with this, however remotely. It’s the idea of a recording apparatus, in a way, the notion of an android as recipient of all human traits, mind, memories and so forth, yet still a machine.
Bloch goes further and fancies an absolute ultimate fulfillment, even the very spirit and soul of a man should somehow be contained within the apparatus. And it would still be an apparatus.
The drama is a dumb show of lost love, android love and guardianship, a civilization gone underground belonging to “the old ones”, a professor of archæology (Michael Strong), his vaccine, “the secret of durable pigments”, a slur against Spock, and Nurse Chapel.
There are once again two Kirks (“The Enemy Within”), and a beautiful android (Sherry Jackson) dressed rather à la Gernreich by way of Ellsworth Kelly, and Ted Cassidy as a giant murderous voice-mimicking android of old.
With reference to Albers, this is one of Paul Newman’s abstract compositions or Structural Constellations of a dilemma (Harper), and is actually quite simple in its construction.
Wanting to win and winning are two different items, the difference is almost impossible to fathom, as Goldstone indicates.
A key contribution here from Dave Grusin thematically links the winner’s circle and budding romance and the tedium of racing under the rubric of upbeat pop, these are zones of no activity, agreeable or not. The Indy 500 is won by skill and endurance, love in marriage something similar, and winning is the conundrum of the film.
Goldstone shook Howard Thompson out of his stupor and made him look at a film as if for the first time, writing for the New York Times. Stanley Kauffmann in The New Republic wrote an essay implying that he thought it arty, nothing more. Ebert would have recast the picture with Wagner, Pleshette and Avalon. “Overly-long,” said Variety, eager to chop it down to size, “it nevertheless carries sock appeal.”
A real precedent would be Huston’s The Barbarian and the Geisha, which also rests on a paradox.
The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight
The Mafia, in other words.
“An insult to Mafia efficiency” (Howard Thompson, New York Times).
“Somehow, I want a comedy about the Mafia to leave me with something” (Ebert).
Goldstone follows Corman’s brilliant history of The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre by removing the mystique. Instead of dullness and squalor, he gets a complete picture of crookedness by surrealistic means, and ends with the venerable image of a lion in the streets.
A sustained comic genius in every scene leavens the whole lump.
To read the critics, one of the funniest films ever made hardly raised a chuckle at the time.
They Only Kill Their Masters
Two denizens of Eden Landing taste the forbidden fruit and are ejected, a certain Murphy who leads a dog’s life is sentenced to death but lives to bite another day (cf. Stoppard, The Dog It Was That Died).
Howard Thompson of the New York Times found this most enjoyable, “this is the most original and likable whodunit I have seen in years.”
Not the least joke is Goldstone’s “they, hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow...”
Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times) found himself completely resourceless (“I don’t want to give the ending away, if there was one”) and greatly abused by the sight of James Garner acting in a void, “devoid of context, meaning or purpose.”
The distance from Lang’s Die Tausend Augen des Dr. Mabuse is measured by our man’s “neat”.
In Halliwell’s Film Guide, “atmospheric, serio-comic”.
The Three Stooges have their version, offscreen Moe tells the fate of the dog that bit, matter-of-factly, “he died!”
Two rogues plague Jamaica, the pirate Red Ned Lynch and the Acting Governor.
Goldstone strikes a bargain with brilliance and dullness for seriousness of purpose, the fate of the film identified with the island.
The “gaffes” identified by Canby in his dismissive review are thus always followed by shots of perfect beauty. The casting is quite deliberate and effective.
To sweep the wealth of the island off to England and leave no witnesses is the AG’s final recourse, the pirates act on behalf of a lady.
George Segal is in an isolation booth receiving electroshock aversion therapy to stop him from smoking, when he takes a call informing him that a rollercoaster in Ocean View Park has been sabotaged with loss of life.
An ingenious extortionist (Timothy Bottoms) is traveling from amusement park to amusement park with radio-controlled bombs. He wants a pile of money from the owners, and is clever enough to spy on their confab over his demands.
At King’s Dominion in Virginia, he leads Segal by walkie-talkie through the park, and this is where Goldstone really begins to give you the 25¢ tour, up over the crowd on the cable cars to a remarkably tense confrontation.
The final scene takes place at opening day of Magic Mountain’s loop-the-loop rollercoaster called Revolution. Goldstone puts his camera in the first car and takes it on the inaugural ride. After all the hullabaloo, Segal asks a guy in the crowd for a cigarette and then a light. With the case closed, and a cigarette and a book of matches in his hand, Segal walks off through the crowd...
When Time Ran Out...
An Irwin Allen spectacle reaches the primordial simplicity of Max Ernst by way of the technical rigor of Hitchcock. The reaction shot enters a realm of its own, and actors are stretched beyond their capacity into slapstick figures, symbols and archetypes, in a surreal world that can only be compared to Buñuel. The transcendent gag here is that Hell hath no fury etc., and it returns to The Lost World (which antedated Quatermass and the Pit by a number of years) to make its poetic statement of fact in a precise context.
At one point, the actors are arranged so as to pass before the camera in a quick succession of terrified takes, a real symphony of pure acting as Goldstone cuts from Borgnine to Bisset to Holden to Buttons and on and on to Carrera, each in the most difficult position, staring away past the camera at a horrifying situation which isn’t there, and inventing facial masks beyond the Greek. The cornerstone is Paul Newman, who in a helicopter two-shot with Bisset is shown looking left and right down at a terrible catastrophe again and again, with the whole business of the film registered in his stern, unbelieving face.
The elegance of When Time Ran Out... is a great refinement. An oil driller (Paul Newman) brings in a gusher on an island run by a two-timing developer (James Franciscus). A scientist (John Considine) takes them into a live volcano in a sort of bathysphere suspended from a cable, where they’re nearly killed. The driller pulls out, the volcano blows, the Allen genius gets to work.
The alarming failure of this at the box office as well as among critics suggests a staggering plummet of intelligence in the moviegoing public, and so do most successful films of late.
Earth Star Voyager
“If this is tomorrow, I think I’ll take yesterday.”
OTZ, Outlaw Technology Zone, “they know everything.”
“Warrior guilds, they challenge the throne!”
The ex-girlfriend is an onboard computer.
Kids fly a spaceship to Demeter for colonization from sickly Earth, on the way they pick up a captain marooned by his crew in space.
A compromise with the material limitations is Goldstone’s ace in the hole, it preserves his equilibrium without pickling it. This is regularly brilliant, like sparks from flint.
The boy supergenius is an homage to Billy Mumy, Lost in Space is among the countless works indicated (2001: A Space Odyssey, Saturn 3, Spaceballs, ad infinitum). A technique like the serials encompasses all this.
The cyborg who has one glowing eye and one human struggles with his metallic arm and his conscience, he’s Dr. Strangelove.