Friday, March 23, 2012

Mooks, freaks, misfits, aliens, b-girls, monsters & more!

If a person can't find a hitherto undiscovered flick or two to check out on The B List, then that's just sad! Subtitled The National Society of Film Critics on the Low-Budget Beauties, Genre-Bending Mavericks, and Cult Classics We Love, it's cheaper than a box of popcorn and infinitely more nourishing. "Nothing anticipates [its] resourcefulness and stylistic commitment" writes Richard Jameson of the 1950 thriller at right, directed by Joseph H. Lewis.
"The Eisenhower era sprayed sunlight everywhere, but noir is where the shadows went, and in those shadows hid all the things the mainstream denied."—Ty Burr on Samuel Fuller's Pickup on South Street
In J. Hoberman's view, Edgar G. Ulmar (auteur of the noir film Detour) is a poster child for the B-movie director's ability to cobble together something noteworthy out of practically nothing: "Never lacking for adaptive strategies, Ulmer used the saga of a concert-hall cleaning woman as the premise for Carnegie Hall (1947), otherwise a succession of musical performances shot on location.... The musical puppet show that provides the centerpiece for the often brilliant Bluebeard (1944) is almost a metaphor for Ulmer's method.... In some mysterious way, the artist's stylistic conviction dignifies even the most atrocious script ... while raising absurdity to a form of primordial make-believe."
"By 1967 Hollywood was desperately trying to find a way to attract the new youth audience but was too scared to abandon its by-the-book methods. What resulted was often movies that would up looking like a Jaycee in a Nehru jacket: the mod trappings couldn't disguise the square essence."—Charles Taylor re William Friedkin's Point Blank
Roger Ebert writes that Michael Powell's Peeping Tom—which effectively ended his career—"is about the deep psychological process at work when a filmmaker tells his actors to do as he commands while he stands in the shadows and watches."
The Conversation, Croupier, Brother from Another Planet, Tales from the Crypt, The Big Bus, the original The Fly, King Creole, Beat the Devil, Katt Shea's The Rage: Carrie II—both film lore and primo viewing await. Don't miss our noir selections either!
"This is the stuff of Greek tragedy stuffed into a B movie so full of nutso inspiration it seems amazing that critics of the time shrugged it off." Yee Ha!


  1. Wow I want to frame all of these and put them all over my house. Super COOL!!!!!

  2. Ms. Just askin'March 23, 2012 at 6:40 PM

    I fathom B-movie and B-directors. But what on earth is a B-girl (and how do we stay on the A-list?)

    1. You may well ask! I guess stay away from nightclubs, gangsters, girl gangs, ... anything shady!

  3. I love me a good b-flick!! Thanks for reminding me about my favorite (or one of them) thing about spring...

  4. But what on earth is a B-girl...

    In the noir days, B- in that case was not an A to F rating but short for 'Bar girl,' traditionally a cheap dame who tried to induce men to buy drinks in a cheap joint. Today, b-girls more commonly are 'Break girls,' practitioners (along with b-boys) of hip-hop dancing.

    The B List, by the way, is a terrific book, which I bought some time back from Daedalus. Its topics include a number of my very favorite movies (The Conversation, Point Blank, Brother From Another Planet, Targets) as well as some obviously non-B (in the traditional sense) movies. (Platoon, for example, won the Oscar for Best Picture of 1986.) I've only watched about a third of the 59 films included, so I have much left to enjoy.

    1. oops ... i should have read further down. Thanks for this!

    2. Thank you RPS, for your enlightening remarks. I'm happy to know that girls are not rated like chicken eggs, and I agree with your appreciation of The Conversation.
      Now, what about that RPS?