I’ve resisted the temptation to start a second blog, maybe called Grown-Up Stuff, about all the other things that I watch without my son. Things like ITC adventure shows, Hammer horror films, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, and so on. Lately I’ve had a hankering to see more of those various productions that tried getting some of the 007 box office in the sixties: Matt Helm, Fu Manchu, Modesty Blaise, Bulldog Drummond, and so on.
I don’t want to do this because it would turn into even more work, but I do love seeing familiar actors in new-to-me roles and noting when they were made. This morning, I watched a pretty good and very, very fun Hammer called Taste the Blood of Dracula, with Christopher Lee and the gorgeous Linda Hayden, along with a pile of stars like Geoffrey Keen, Peter Sallis, Ilsa Blair, Michael Jayston, and Ralph Bates. The movie might have been the very next thing that Roy Kinnear filmed after his guest part in the final episode of The Avengers.
Sadly, the actors in Ultraman live in a vacuum to me. Other than Akiji Kobayashi having a decent role in a early 1990s Godzilla film (the one with King Ghidorah and time travel), I don’t think that I’ve ever seen any of these artists in any other part. The overwhelming majority of Japanese television shows and movies never make it to America, of course. That which we do see is pretty much just science fiction. Police shows and romances and historical dramas and most of the costume dramas and the comedies never make it here.
So I wonder about these actors. Wikipedia tells me that Kobayashi passed away in 1996 and that Masanari Nihei had a few other roles in science fiction and monster movies (including the original Mothra, but I haven’t seen that in thirty years and don’t remember him in it). I love Nihei’s rubber face. He has a great line in slapstick and wacky physical comedy, and Ito keeps threatening to steal every episode. Did he ever get a big part as the overworked dad in a situation comedy that ran for years? He certainly should have.
This episode, for what it’s worth, features a giant fish creature with a drill nose. Our son has suggested that the reason Ultraman was able to defeat it so quickly: it didn’t have much room for a brain with so much space taken by a big mouth and a drill.