Tag Archives: eli wallach

The Moon-Spinners (1964)

I have to admit that every once in a while, I pick a complete flop with our son. He didn’t like Disney’s The Moon-Spinners at all. I thought it was a perfectly fine adventure film for kids, especially American kids in that early sixties sweet spot right before the Beatles exploded into pop culture.

I’ve often felt that Hayley Mills was absolutely in the right place at the right time. She had a legion of young girl fans and she was perfectly cast, often by Disney, as the engaging lead in fun movies like The Parent Trap and In Search of the Castaways, and of course she usually had dreamy boys with English accents around. You know how many of those girls who showed up to scream at the Beatles when they arrived in New York were Hayley Mills devotees? All of them.

But I guess that fifty-four years later, there’s not quite as much in a movie like this to thrill a six year-old boy. It sounded promising enough. There’s danger, intrigue, stolen jewels, and Eli Wallach and Paul Stassino as dangerous criminals. Plus there’s a terrific set of stunts when Hayley gets locked in a windmill by the baddies and everybody climbs out down the sails and blades. Honestly though, the part he liked the best was when Wallach got chased out of some ruins by feral cats.

For slightly older viewers, the story concerns Mills’ character, Nicky, and her aunt, played by Joan Greenwood, visiting a small village in Crete at the same time that a young man arrives in the hopes of finding some emeralds, stolen while under his care in London some months previously. So the young people get to have an adventure while an impressive cast of character actors, including Sheila Hancock, John Le Mesurier, Andre Morell, and George Pastell, provide support.

The lack of any of Disney’s trademark comic slapstick was perhaps one small failure in our son’s eyes, but this is a much more straightforward adventure movie than their seventies output, without a lot of levity. There is one deliciously funny moment where Mills breathlessly recounts her escapades to a millionaire played by Pola Negri, who definitely needs a drink before the recap is finished, but that’s more for the grown-ups in the crowd. I think somebody our son’s age would probably read that scene as played straight, because yes, that’s an accurate recap of the story so far. And viewers his age probably wouldn’t see the small hints to the audience in the way adult characters play certain scenes. We instantly knew that John Le Mesurier’s character wasn’t being completely honest in his explanations, but the reality of what he’s actually up to still eluded our son. And Sheila Hancock brings surprising tension to a scene in which her character gets drunk and talks too much, but all of these adult conversations just seemed like noise to him because it’s more subtle than the Hulk knocking over buildings.

So perhaps six was a little young or perhaps the movie is just a dated piece that’s going to appeal more to older viewers anyway, especially the older viewers who enjoy seeing all these great actors. Maybe we should have waited a couple of years, but I’m certainly glad of the experience and enjoyed the movie very much.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under disney, movies

Batman 2.60 – The Duo Defy

Did you know that Batman keeps live fish in his utility belt? Now you do.

This is dire. It’s the end of the season and there’s no money left. There’s stock footage with voiceovers and old film clips of icebergs. The most entertaining thing that happened tonight was that Daniel repeated his “iceburglars” pun, which really wasn’t funny last night.

It is kind of unfortunate that each Mr. Freeze was less entertaining than the previous one, but Eli Wallach’s “daffy old scientist” take got really old really quickly. Elisha Cook spent all of this part recovering from having dry ice injected into his veins (!) and frozen at 200 below zero (!!), because this show doesn’t make any sense, and fumbled around with a goofball expression and his mouth hanging open and his eyes all bugged out like the producers actually wanted Don Knotts for the part. It’s pretty awful.

We did learn that Bruce Wayne has a municipal ice rink named after himself, which is kind of surprising. We were also reminded that Commissioner Gordon has a daughter at college. Her name is Barbara. Are you listening, audience? This might turn out to be important one day.

Leave a comment

Filed under batman

Batman 2.59 – Ice Spy

My wife and her father share this disquieting, horrible habit of making terrible, terrible puns. Every so often, I get a little evidence that genetics are passing this down to my son. Tonight, summoning his troops for the fight, Mr. Freeze calls them “icemen.” Daniel replied, “He means ICEBURGLARS!” He then repeated this about ten times during the brawl, because four year-olds do that when they come up with something that they think is clever.

Mr. Freeze is played by Eli Wallach for this installment, making him the third actor to play this villain. Allied with him is a besotted ice skater, Glacia Glaze, played by Leslie Parrish. We saw her back in season one as Dawn Robbins in the very first Penguin story. Rounding out the notable guest stars, none other than Elisha Cook Jr., who had played Wilmer in The Maltese Falcon 25 years previously, and had been doing a heck of a lot of television in the mid-sixties.

This episode features one of the all-time goofy phone gags, in which Commissioner Gordon rings Batman at the same time that Chief O’Hara rings Bruce Wayne, and the cops listen in while Adam West talks to himself in slightly different voices into each receiver, and the police are clueless, as usual. When I do go bad and turn into a criminal, I’m moving to Gotham City.

Leave a comment

Filed under batman