Friday, March 22, 2013
Watching Terror In A Texas Town (1958) is a bit like watching a Twilight Zone episode. We get a bit of strangeness at the very beginning, then a slow build up to the main irony filled denouement that we tuned in to watch in the first place. Kind of like tapping your foot, looking at your watch, waiting for Billy Mummy to turn the "very bad man" into a jack in the box. In Terror In A Texas Town, Sebastian Cabot plays a rich guy who wants other peoples land. Seems that only he knows the land is oil rich. Then a Swedish farmer played by Ted Stanhope finds out about the oil. But before he can warn the frightened farmers, he is killed by Cabot's hired gun Ned Young. Young plays every black clad, cliché western villain all rolled up into one. But he does have a few special features. Like an iron hand which replaces the real one which he lost when it was blown off in a past encounter. This hand is covered by a black glove (most likely because the budget didn't allow for a fake iron hand).
Enter Sterling Hayden. Hayden is the son of the dead Swedish farmer. He's been at sea for the last 18 years doing a bit of whaling. It doesn't take long for fish out of water Hayden to discover that Cabot and Young run the town, most likely killed his father and sees that anyone who stands up to them will be killed. Of course Cabot tries to have Hayden run out of town first. Young, a pragmatist, prefers to pay people off rather than kill them but ultimately we know it’s going to come down to harpoon carrying Hayden vs steel handed Young in one of the craziest showdowns in the history of the genre.
This movie was bad, but in a fun way. How can you not appreciate the giant Frankenstein like Hayden, walking down the dusty street looking to harpoon the bad guy? Ned Young as the villain is also kind of funny. He's never faced a man who isn't afraid to die and it drives him absolutely nuts to meet one for the first time. There's also the implication that he feels impotent due to his iron prosthetic which he bludgeons people with as a form of therapy (this is told to us rather than shown, unfortunately). Carol Kelly is Young's prostitute gal pal, a drunk who only stays with Young because he scares her. But Hayden has a good scene where he delivers a small but effective motivational speech to give her courage. TV level production and cast and unintentionally funny dialogue pretty much places this firmly in the "so bad they're good" category. My favorite line is when Kelly interrupts a church meeting by saying...
"Pepé is dead and George Hansen is walking down the street with a harpoon. I just thought you'd like to know--and maybe help."
Yup, that's pretty much the movie in a nutshell.
Good old Sebastian "Mr. French" Cabot is an amusing villain the likes of which you might find in a typical episode of The Wild Wild West. He has some unintentionally funny scenes as his character seems to only exist to tell us (in hilariously smarmy fashion) the history of iron hand killer Ned Young as well as to push his buttons. I kept thinking how this was a bit of a variation of High Noon (picture Cooper with a harpoon) and then I discovered that Dalton Trumbo wrote the script. I can't say it's a great movie, but I can't say it fails to entertain either. As I mentioned above, there is something about Hayden that makes him inherently watchable and kind of fun. Especially when he's carrying a harpoon.
Terror In A Texas Town is showing on Turner Classic Movies this Tuesday, March 26 at 5 PM Eastern.
Friday, March 1, 2013
|The Five Doctors and K-9|
|Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee in The Three Doctors|
|Patrick Troughton and Colin Baker in The Two Doctors|
Episodes of Doctor Who that united multiple Doctors was a special treat for fans. It gave fans a sense of the characters long history. These team-up episodes united Pertwee fans with Davison fans with Baker fans with Troughton fans and so on and so on, giving Who fans a larger and stronger sense of community. This is something that viewers who are new to Doctor Who have not been able to experience. We have not seen Doctors nine, ten and 11 team up and frankly, I doubt we ever will. It’s possible that we might see an episode that unites David Tennant(Dr.10) and Matt Smith(Dr.11) but I‘m not really holding my breath on that one.
|William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee as Doctors 1, 2 and 3 in The Three Doctors|
|Time Crash. Are you freaking kidding me?|
Recasting new actors would also give more freedom to those actors playing the current Doctor who want to work on different projects but still want to work on Doctor Who. I’d like to see Matt Smith continue on in the role for a few more years but he’s getting ready to leave. If we did a couple seasons of Doctor Who that told new tales of Doctors one thru 7, that would allow Smith to go on hiatus for any length of time and return to the role having sewn his wild oats and sated his wanderlust. That safety net would allow actors to stay in the role of the Doctor for longer periods of time, something that I think is important in maintaining the longevity of the show.
|I miss you Roger Delgado. You really were The Master!|