Tuesday, November 21, 2017

A Most Unusual Tuesday.



It was a most unusual Tuesday to say the least. After Lost, I was kind of at odds with what to follow up on. I had various odds and ends on the DVR I had recorded in the past few weeks, so to free up some space, I chose a Godzilla movie, a very awful Santa short you can locate on the Public Domain I’m sure, and this amazing classic short from France about a big red balloon with a mind of its own. I don’t have time to elaborate much tonight but plan to hopefully fill out with better time Wednesday.


I really thought Godzilla Raids Again (1955) was actually a nice, simple entry from Toho just right after their hit classic, Gojira (1954). It features a second Godzilla located on a wintry island battling a giant dinosaur tortoise called Anguirus by two pilots seeking out fish for their cannery in Osaka. Soon Godzilla and Anguirus are battling it out in Osaka and the cannery eventually is destroyed. Also not helping matters is escaped fugitives in a stolen vehicle crashing, causing a major fire. Once military planes encourage Godzilla to leave after he wounds Anguirus with a serious gnawing to the neck, drawing blood, as the monster tortoise collapses into the drink, the plan is underway to bury him under mounds of white, avalanched from mountainous peaks on the island. Heroes die trying to missile and crashland into the mountains to cause enough snow/ice to bury Godzilla, and in its early stages, the Big G was still not quite defined. The characters, two of which are planning to wed (a pilot and the cannery boss’ daughter, while his other pilot body sacrifices his life to show the others that the avalanche idea is the way to go), are likable and not corny. The plot isn’t that corny, either, deciding to have these dinosaur-like creatures causing unneeded grief while engaged in toothy battle. ***


A Visit to Santa (1963) was more or less a curio located reallllllly early on Sunday morning during the tail end of TCM Underground. If you happen to be up really late at night or early morning, TCM will surprise you with some nifty behind-the-scenes vignettes and obscure shorts. Santa is about 13 minutes and shot on the cheap (reallllly cheap), located primarily in a small town in Pennsylvania near Pittsburgh. Two kids—brother and sister—have sent their request to Santa and he sees that they experience a small town Christmas parade, toy stores, and even his own Workshop (which I believe was in a mall). Getting to the North Pole is the camera zooming into a colored picture, and Santa is shown looking at the letter from the kids to him (which has about two sentences!) in an easy chair of a regular home’s living room. The most curious among us will see this as a trip back to 1963 small town America and the short film is something a few folks made for very little that somehow endures in The Domain, kept on life support by the likes of TCM, where I found it. You can easily locate it on the internet, too. *


Red Balloon (1956), shot in various parts of Paris, won lots of rewards (deservedly), and is an ingenious bit of whimsy which involves a little boy and the red balloon he discovers tied near a window a few floors up on an apartment complex. The balloon “takes to him” and decides to be the boy’s companion while bullies in his class try to destroy it and get a hold of it. The school administrator considers the balloon a pest while others look on in astonishment as the boy moves throughout Paris. The balloon really looks like it is a functioning being! And if you love Paris during this era of film, Red Balloon will especially be a treat. In that glorious Technicolor and the balloon being brought magically to life (and how all the balloons of the city leave their owners for the boy when his own balloon is “killed” by the bully mob at the end is just incredible), adding to the roving camera in Paris just made this film such a worthwhile experience. I will be watching this again, if I don’t eventually outright buy it. *****

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