Friday, September 30, 2011

Martin Luther (1953)

Minneapolis!  Houston!  And . . . Hickory?  Are you telling me that distributors of Martin Luther were stuck with a movie so unmarketable that they had to boast its box-office earnings in Hickory, North Carolina?  I only hope Sherriff Andy and Aunt Bee could make it to the screening.  In typical “Heroes of the Protestant Reformation” fashion, Luther’s hilariously empty stern facial expression is a mix of Richard Nixon and Sam the Eagle.  It’s no accident that he’s looking in the opposite direction of what appears to be happy, serene scenes of children conversing and women knitting.  There is no place for happiness in upright, dour Protestant ethics!  There’s also no place for 3-D films, which, according to the Associated Press, routinely takes a backseat to Protestant biopics.  Imagine Avatar being dethroned at the box office by Zwingli; or Clash of the Titans finishing second to Jan Hus.  OK, OK, anything’s possible in Hickory, N.C.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Bible: In the Beginning (1966)

One of the many examples where making fun of the poster probably doesn’t come close to the experience of making fun of The Bible: In the Beginning itself, which must have been so bad that Dino de Laurentiis didn’t want any images from it to be seen in close detail.  I mean, Michael Parks as Adam?  Does this mean Richard Harris, playing Cain, could truly be called “son number one?”  And let’s not let Harris off that easily; you gotta think he must have at least been in his thirties or forties by 1966.  A tad old to be playing Cain, hmmm?  Come to think of it, has anyone ever seen Richard Harris without grey hair? (Not too unlike how no picture of Olympia Dukakis exists where she’s under the age of 50.)  Love how audiences depicted here are just clamoring wall-to-wall to get their ticket to the miraculous “entertainment event” that is The Bible: In the Beginning . . . oh wait a second, that’s just EVERYDAY NEW YORK CITY TRAFFIC!  If anything, most of the people appear to be walking on the other side of the street, trying their hardest to ignore the obnoxious poster.  It also doesn’t help that The Bible: In the Beginning appears to be playing at the Paris Wax Museum, giving off the vague impression of one of those creepy Creationist exhibitions where dinosaurs and humans co-exist.  Not that there’s any denying that a film like this was squarely meant for dinosaurs.  

Monday, September 26, 2011

Gold Bricks (1936)

Whenever I think of the words “Hiya, Pal!” I immediately think of the one moment in Home Alone when Joe Pesci finally outwits Kevin by waiting for him in the flooded house next door (before Kindly Old Neighbor beats him on the head with the snow shovel).  His exclamation of “Hiya, Pal” amid water pouring down the basement stairs may have been his single best movie quote not containing the words “Fuck” or “Funny how” in it.  Gold Bricks would definitely be funnier if Bert Lahr’s picture had been replaced by Joe Pesci’s, but that doesn’t take away from the humor of the animated priest trying to pull down his pants and Lahr’s hilarious reaction of apparently shitting out stars from beneath his chaps.  And then there’s the cartoon girl next to him, giving the poster a whole quasi-Kim Basinger in Cool World motif that entirely contradicts the words “stimulate the box-office.”  I wondered, since there weren’t any gold bricks in the poster, if the term had some deeper socio-cultural meaning in the 1930s, so I looked on Wikipedia and found that “gold brick” can refer to: (A) A special item from Lego Star Wars, (B) A 2001 album by the indie rock band Fuck, and (C) A lazy or slow person.  All of these seem to suggest better ways of spending 75 minutes than watching anyone from the Distinguished Order of Funny Men (which sounds like an award whose past recipients include Clement Attlee, the Earl of Salisbury, and Claus von Bulow.) And in the priest’s defense – hey, at least Bert Lahr doesn’t look like Maculay Culkin for once.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Rhodes (1936)

I think we can safely assume by “exploitation” the filmmakers of Rhodes aren't referring to underpaid and oppressed native populations and their subjugation by unscrupulous diamond scavengers with unconvincing accents.  No, they are referring to “exploitation natural,” which is apparently where women sporting Natalie Portman’s mask from Black Swan are sold at auctions to dudes wearing hats.  It is also safe to assume that before Rhodes, conventional wisdom stated that no film could possibly have the critical impact on the sophisticated moviegoing populace as the deep and profound Covered Wagon (which sounds uncannily like a computer generated title for a moderately successful studio picture from the PC game The Movies, circa. 2004).  But then came Cimarron, and now comes Rhodes which, in spite of being heralded as a hybrid of two westerns and starring Walter Huston for chrissake, somehow isn’t a western (nor does it appear to feature any automobiles, hitchhikers, or 20-minute takes of Vincent Gallo, much to the dismay of homonym-loving audiences).  Each of the bold titles at the bottom of the page has great unintentional comic potential in a sexual context, but before divulging too greatly they should be carefully categorized by orientation:

Diamond Master = straight dude.
Empire Builder = gay natural.
Jungle Conqueror = bicurious extraordinary. 
Covered Wagon = virgin.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

All Hands on Deck (1961)

Who hasn't wanted to spend an Easter with Pat Poone?  Especially since All Hands on Deck seems so festive in spirit, complete with traditional Easter imagery, like a midshipmen who has evidently tripped on something and Citizen Kane's Xanadu in the background.  I'm not entirely sure if the person standing behind Barbara Eden is a man or a woman, but whatever is going on, she seems pretty frightened of Buddy Hackett wearing what appears to be a tomahawk cap and clapping. I would be frightened of archaic representations of Native Americans too (according to IMDB, Hackett's character is named Shrieking Eagle Garfield).  Did 20th Century Fox accidentally think that Easter was the holiday with Indians? All of this is framed within the subtle suggestion of gang rape -- the "gang of gobs" who were caught with the lone maiden below the decks.  Pat may be crooning with androgynous enthusiasm (or doing his best Andy Dufresne impersonation), but his pose uncannily resembles a desparate undignified cadet eager to hide the evidence from his superiors. All in the name of Easter spirit!

Welcome and Shit

Welcome to Box Office Shit! Each day, I will upload a movie advertisement from a shitty movie you probably haven't seen or heard of, but will want to soon after reading my pithy, sardonic, nerdy white guy in his mid-20s commentary. If you have a shitty movie you'd like to send me, or have any irrelevant, stupid questions to ask, contact me at: