Purlie Victorious

Ossie Davis’ great dramatic poem on “freedom and Big Bethel” and the girl who “looks more like Cousin Bee than Cousin Bee ever did,” the lively influence of Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is followed by that of Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World in the course of it, as a sidelight. A comic masterpiece with a flavor of Broadway (cp. The Rainmaker, dir. Joseph Anthony, e.g.), “the hell you preach!”

Gone Are the Days! it’s called as well, by the playwright from his play, produced by the director, with cinematography by Boris Kaufman praiseworthy and praised.

New York Times, “the somewhat static quality of Nicholas Webster’s direction, which clings to stage techniques, is not much of a help.” Andrew Sarris (Village Voice), “a messy, disorganized, and undisciplined melange of farce, fantasy and fable... Nicholas Webster hardly displays any directorial acumen... it was a bad play...” TV Guide, “sermonizes about civil rights, bigotry, and intolerance... an audience might not know whether to laugh or cry... a bit preachy in spots... Webster’s direction is sharp and smart, but the dialog gets a bit wordy.” Catholic News Service Media Review Office, “good-natured satire”.


Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

“You can’t dismiss the wisdom of centuries,” says one Martian councillor. “I can,” says Voldar.

A news broadcast from KID TV goes live to Santa’s workshop. On Mars, the children are listless. Off to Earth, to bring back Santa Claus!

They send in the robot Torg, and Santa says it’s “the biggest toy I’ve ever seen!” The elves and Mrs. Claus are temporarily immobilized with a Wham-O air gun, and Santa’s off to Mars.

Before you know it, Santa has the Martians laughing for the first time. Voldar, however, despises these un-Martian shenanigans. He wants a return to the Spartan ways of old, and tries to jettison Santa and the Earth children through an airlock. Santa slips back to the control room through a tiny air duct, but how?

Kimar tells him Mars is his home now. “Oy,” says Santa Claus. He’s given an automated factory where he makes toys by pushing buttons. Voldar gums up the works, so the machines put dolls’ heads on teddy bears.

The children overcome Voldar with toy weapons, and Santa returns to Earth.

The stylish and expressionistic sets belie a laughable budget. At the North Pole, the children are beset by a polar bear (later one of Sarastro’s lions in Bergman’s The Magic Flute). The acting is superb, properly stentorian and witty. The toys come from Louis Marx & Co.

The true connoisseur will accept it with pleasure, and note its influence on Batman and Star Trek.


I Am Curiously Yellow
Get Smart

The Whip on old Buddha’s gong, psychedelic and hypnotic (cf. Furie’s The Ipcress File), his goal a secret Pentagon weapon ten thousand times more powerful than a sonic boom. “A rock and roll festival?”

“It’s not quite that bad, Max.” Robert Middleton with the lacerating moustaches, Victor Sen Yung his henchman Abe Fu Yung. Agent 86 “a man of wisdom, of infinite taste and ability.”