* Where’s Poppa? (1970) is excruciating. There’s “politically incorrect” and then there’s incoherent. 1970s “sick” humor at its unfunny worst. However:
Looking beyond the question of whether it’s hilarious fun or just a string of sick jokes, Where’s Poppa? is fascinating as a movie time machine. New York was entering a long and steep decline as the 1970s began infrastructure was crumbling, city services were deteriorating, financial crisis was looming, crime was soaring. Instead of ignoring these enormous problems, Where’s Poppa? fights them off by laughing in their face. Of course it’s offensive to have African-American actors play every hoodlum in the story, but exaggerating a stereotype can sometimes unmask its absurdity and drain away its power.
Good save, TCM!
You can actually see that same pre-Guilliani 1970s New York by sticking on any number of movies, including ambitious giallo failure The Eyes of Laura Mars, which I just watched last week. Yikes! But at least it was trying to be serious instead of funny. (OMG it was bad.)
* The Hypnotic Eye (1960)
I feel like they just ran this two seconds ago. I’ve seen way worse. Bonus? Fake beatniks:
* I’ve never seen 99 River Street (1953) — sounds good, despite this grad school description:
A neglected, un-canon-ized nitty-gritty indie (made by the long-running, low-budget Edward Small Productions) that stalks unceremoniously through a world of black-hearted bad news and spiraling fate, where the meaningful heyday of the war and its homefront promise has given way to lostness and bloodletting.
[T]he wonderful thing about noir is that the intricate fatalistic plotting isn’t just clever entertainment but meaningful. The tighter the story’s noose pulls, the more it expresses a philosophical, proletariat truth about American life in the mid-century – its broken dreams and capitalistic fears and wounded pride. The powerful mistrust that radiates from 99 River Street (and most noirs, and all of Karlson’s) isn’t just story-stuff, it’s social commentary. It’s an EKG of the class struggle, as the little men who fought WWII struggle in lousy jobs to pay the rent, while opportunists and thieves lurk in the backrooms twisting the system and getting rich. The lure of “making it big,” either in show business or sports or crime or anything, is a lie that Payne’s disgusted Everyman spits at in virtually every scene.
* Blow Up (1966)
Duh. Everybody has to see it.
Everyone stay very, VERY still while the Yardbirds are playing!
* Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968) — indistinguishable from every other boring Hammer vampire movie.