November 21, 2004

i'm tired. stayed up late last night watching an obscure mid-'60s screwball callled john goldfarb, please come home. i can't tell whether it was hilarious, brain-bogglingly awful, or just brain-boggling (exhibit a: william peter blatty of exorcist fame wrote the screenplay).

goldfarb (richard crenna) got his nickname, "wrong way," because of his terrible sense of direction, and when his u2 spy plane lands in the middle east instead of the ussr, well... this way lies comedy gold. peter ustinov plays the peter sellers part, the silly-accented, eccentric, boundlessly hyperactive leader of a small country. shirley maclaine is shirley maclaine, appearing as one of ustinov's harem girls (she'd go on to play hookers in sweet charity and irma la douce). but wait!! she's actually an undercover american journalist on assignment!!

then there's (exhibits b, c, d, ad nauseam) gonzo arabian-rules football, and bellydancing, and toy trains, and jim backus, and jerry orbach, and harry morgan, and borderline-racist middle-east stereotypes that are so dated now you might as well go ahead and laugh cuz you're laughing at the movie as much as with it.

director j. lee thompson has the best filmography ever: the guns of navarone. the original cape fear. conquest of the planet of the apes. BATTLE for the planet of the apes. death wish 4: the crackdown. the man's a real professional, a wizard, a true hack.

can you see why i didn't sleep? damn fox movie channel, putting all the good stuff on at the worst times.


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