One sweet, one sour. Let’s open on bitterness.
- This is in regards to the movie review by Scott Marks on May 29 (Run Toward Danger). As usual, the facts about the Vietnam War are misconstrued. The reference to General Nguyễn Ngọc Loan, the chief of police in Saigon, is completely dubious. I wish to read a direct quote from an authority on that subject:
- “[T]he most famous executioner was General Nguyễn Ngọc Loan, who shot a Viet Cong ‘suspect’ on the Saigon street. The Viet Cong had reportedly just shot an ARVN lieutenant and his family. General Loan was well within his rights of summarily executing an enemy soldier caught in civilian clothing. But the Pulitzer-Prize winning photo that captured the incident became part of the Left’s indictment of the war, even though the photographer himself thought Loan was a hero and apologized to him for the way the photo had been used to ruin the general’s reputation.”
- This is from Mr. Phillip Jennings book on the Vietnam War [The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Vietnam War]. Mr. Jennings was a U.S. Marine during that time.
- So, the continual destruction of the true history of the Vietnam War is carried on by Scott Marks, and by people who weren’t there and who don’t know a damn thing about it. I hope that your readers will look into Phillip Jennings’s book and get the true story of Vietnam.
- — Name Withheld, via voicemail
Did you even bother to read what I wrote? This was a review of a war documentary that made me question a cameraperson’s responsibility, not a dissertation on the Vietnam War. Watch the video of Loan sidling up to Lém, swaggering as he waves his gun in the air like Ethan Edwards about to shoot out a Comanche’s eyes to prevent its soul from ever reaching heaven. I think my choice of the word “cavalierly” was appropriate.
South Vietnam’s top cop was performing before a camera, and since Adams later apologized, why am I wrong for questioning his motive for not averting his lens? For whatever reason, we both agree the picture never should have been taken!
Just because something is legal doesn’t make it morally right or good. As of today, 32 states believe they are “well within their rights” to play God and execute people in several states. Sadly, I live in one of them, but at least it’s 72 and sunny every day.
On to a more pleasant subject in the form of another letter penned by my #1 fan, Name Withheld:
- Thanks to Scott Marks for reviving childhood memories of Leo Gorcey and Huntz Hall, and then later, Invasion of the Star Creatures and Attack of the Mushroom People — most deliciously some of the worst movies ever. I really enjoyed the article, even though some of these movies weren’t mentioned (Big Screen: Invasion of the Star Creatures, May 29). I just wanted to give thanks.
- — Name Withheld, via voicemail
You are so very welcome, Name. Anyone who’d single out Attack of the Mushroom People — a film never once referenced in my piece — must be a person on mushrooms.
In his review of the Ray Danton-directed dud The Psychic Killer, former Chicago Reader critic Dave Kehr forever planted the term “So bad it’s educational” in my mental word-hoard. Bad movies are an occupational hazard, but a film that goes out of its way to achieve its awfulness is one to be worshipped and adored.
I’m not sure there’s enough time left in life for me to ever squeeze in another viewing of Star Creatures, particularly when trash such as Hot Rods to Hell, The Babe Ruth Story, Men of Boys Town, Death Wish III, Hitler: Dead or Alive, Jumpin’ Jack Flash, St. Elmo’s Fire, Georgia Rule, Cancel My Reservation, and too many others demand and survive innumerable viewings.
I’m on my knees praying to the Saints of Bad Cinema (and/or Olive Films) for a speedy Blu-ray release of The Oscar, second only to Hell as the one bad film I’ll ask that Satan allow me to pack. The dialogue is so ripe you can pick it, and if you’ve never seen Tony Bennett’s one “dramatic” performance, all I can say is, “Man, what a scene — forget it!” If there is such a thing as “so bad it’s educational,” I’ve learned as much from watching the rise and fall of Frankie Fane as I have Charlie Kane.
The only reason I suggest Olive Films is because they seem to have worked out an agreement with Paramount to bring to home video some of the studio’s more obscure titles. The Oscar was released by Joe Levine’s indy company, Avco Embassy, but something tells me he struck a trick-deal with Paramount to lease their facilities. There are a couple of sets and props left over from The Nutty Professor that I’d love to show you, but the film just ain’t out there for me to screencap!
Seriously, there is an audience for The Oscar, probably the same crowd that stood in line for a copy of Skidoo!, another divine train wreck from hell sparklingly restored by Olive Films.
For the anonymous beauty who wrote the letter, I close with the Castle Films version of my personal favorite Bowery Boys creation, Bowery Blitzkrieg. I have it on good authority that Scorsese had a print of it on set while shooting the pool-room fight in Mean Streets.