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Living Doll
The Twilight Zone

The jealousy of the man who cannot create is represented, and this is a very funny representation no doubt based on experience of publishers and Hollywood producers.

The wife has a daughter who has a doll that says, “my name is Talky Tina and I love you very much.”

It annoys the husband as he’s paying bills, an enmity is set between them. And so you have the nursery rhyme of the four and twenty tailors and the little Kyloe cow, “run, tailors, run, or she’ll kill you all e’en now.”

He tries to destroy the doll in his garage workshop, it’s imperishable. Descending the stairs he steps on it, falls and lies dead with it beside him, like the married couple in Un chien andalou.

Savalas has the veneer of brutal madness that is rationality after all, the kind that sees a painting as mud and cloth. Sarafian directs magnificently, with a cool approach that is a trademark of the series.

 

The Night of the Inferno
The Wild Wild West

The curious structure is partly from Andre De Toth’s The Stranger Wore a Gun, a tale of ex-Quantrill men. Quemada in the Adelanto Valley of New Mexico is burned out by one Juan Manolo, yet two buildings are undamaged, Wing Fat’s General Merchandise and Casa Estrella, a “palais de chance”.

President Grant speaks of a revolution there, but full-scale war is envisaged to conquer territory in the name of Mexico. Munitions are housed in an underground cavern reached through a cemetery crypt guarded by rattlesnakes. It connects with the wine cellar of Casa Estrella, owned by a lady felon once sent to prison by West in New Orleans.

Freight wagons move in and out of Quemada constantly, despite the wreckage. Casa Estrella was thus transported “stone by stone from Mexico City, it used to stand on the Plaza there.”

Wing Fat is Juan Manolo (“Wan Man Lo”) in disguise, his general is a hireling, the girl is not involved.

West is “the finest underground intelligence agent we’ve got,” says President Grant. His dual cover is a condemned deserter brought to judgment at Difficult Run, Va., and “the dandiest dude who ever crossed the Mississippi.” Grant speaks of “inflation eating the South alive, Washington full of carpetbaggers,” but this is most pressing at the moment.

The art direction caps a nineteenth-century evocation with the sound of steam to achieve a complete mise en scène.

“West, James West,” he says. Some intricacies of the private railroad car used by him at government expense are shown, especially the private quarters with sliding wardrobe and gun case. Artemus Gordon, who has his own horse-drawn Traveling Emporium, resists the assignment and addresses West in a monitory look almost directly to the camera, “Quemada is a bad place, Jim, be careful.”

West, held captive in the munitions cache, lights a fuse to the gunpowder barrels, blowing Casa Estrella out of apposition and into sky-high appositeness, every stone a brand-new shining star at night, an inferno of meteors, a constellation of cubic building-blocks.

 

Return to Glory
I Spy

A shocking recapitulation of JFK in Dallas reveals the irony of the title.

A question of expenses under review, “the glass pants” notably require explanation, or nothing at all.

Sagely expounded by Fine & Friedkin, sagely directed by Sarafian.

Auden’s position, in a manner of speaking, portrayed as “Ortiz in exile” at Taxco.

 

Home to Judgment
I Spy

A number of “ordinary-looking businessmen” are known to Scott and Robinson as “the biggest saboteurs in America”. This is Nigh’s Black Dragons, the two agents are harried into the past on a farm known to Robinson during his childhood in the Forties.

Scott builds defenses against the onslaught, Robinson apologizes for visiting this on Uncle Harry and Aunt Alta. The farm is attacked by professional killers, Robinson contributes explosive charges to its defense.

The opening scenes and the “cowboy” in sunglasses resemble Rosenberg’s Cool Hand Luke, which premiered nine weeks earlier.

Sarafian’s direction is extremely astute, daring, well-conceived, harmonious and beautiful, particularly in the humorous vortex where Robinson finds himself forced as it were to grow up in a very short time.

Earle Hagen applies the pit band of Stravinsky’s Les Noces to horns and strings, suggesting the bridegroom’s reluctance.

Culp’s script magnifies the torment amid memories of “Green Eyes” and Flash Gordon and the Katzenjammer Kids, all of which return to Robinson while hiding in the barn with injuries received from the saboteurs, Nigh’s film is conspicuous by its absence.

 

Fragment of Fear

A beautiful expostulation of lucid nightmare that despite its critics (the Catholic News Service Media Review Office was “infuriated”) is perfectly serviceable, though the sufferer and hero is represented as broken in mind and spirit, beyond all hope of comprehension, the point being that the terms and elements are given and must be reflected upon.

He has lain down with dogs, the fleas are a blackmailing nuisance but the dogs are deadly, one of them at least has an in at Whitehall.

Pompeii, disco, death of an English aunt. With David Hemmings, a further consideration of Antonioni’s Blowup.

According to Britmovie, “delivers very little of anything.” Halliwell’s Film Guide exactly coincides with the Catholic News Service, but on the calmer side of an English temperament, “the details and character cameos are excellent.” TV Guide, which notably thought the Antonioni a puzzle, has “ultimately frustrating”.

 

 

Man in the Wilderness

A purely abstracted image from A Man Called Horse, manipulated so as to draw out the discourse toward The Martian Chronicles, or an important preparation for The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean.

 

The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing

Wyoming (Wamsutter, Point of Rock, Diamond Mesa).

A very long narrative that begins before the film and starts anew at the end.

The curious feature of this is the false founding on an honorable lie, the rape and murder of Cat Dancing.

That’s finally settled at the Shoshone village, between South Pass (an abandoned mining town) and the cave.

A faithless marriage and a loveless one split and reform, properly united, that is the action.

The unbroken thread of narrative sustained so long and finally unsnarled like a magic trick had the critics vexed in corners, the thing has not been well perceived (some of the performances have been praised, they are all remarkable).

There is a relation to McLaglen’s something big, set up via tenuous crosscurrents to put Mann’s Man of the West in a proper perspective, you might say.

 

Sunburn

A disco player and a teddy bear machine-gunned in Acapulco—there you have the central image, a comical side-throw to Banacek, with a reminiscence of The Long Goodbye.

 

Street Justice

Civic corruption is bounded by city limits, you can drive from contiguous town to town and see where it begins and ends, noting the particular level of depredation, you can read it like Darwin observing geological formations.

Sarafian has the tale of an agent with the CIA now at home in just such a place with its visceral reality. He goes to town.