Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967)

Millie Dillmount (Julie Andrews) has a goal. Work as a stenographer to a rich man and become his wife. She becomes friends with the naive Miss Dorothy Brown (Mary Tyler Moore) as she checks into the Priscilla Hotel, which has a secret: the house mother Mrs. Meers (Beatrice Lillie) find sgirls with no family or friends and then sells them into servitude.

Yes, this is a musical romantic comedy.

One night at the Friendship Dance in the Dining Hall, Millie makes the acquaintance of paper clip salesman Jimmy Smith (James Fox, who somehow is in both this movie and Performance). Sure, he seems nice, but she has a plan to be Mrs. Trevor Graydon (John Gavin). There’s some tension because Millie thinks Jimmy is in love with Miss Dorothy, but she doesn’t know the whole story. And she’s even more hurt with Trevor marries Miss Dorothy leaving her all alone.

Before Trevor can marry his love, she’s kidnapped by Jack Soo and Pat Morita, who play Chinese white slavers*, which again seems way too dark for a bubbly musical that has Carol Channing as an eccentric rich woman. But it’s Channing who saves the day, rescuing everyone before she reveals that — spoiler warning for a 54 year old movie — Jimmy and Miss Dorothy are actually millionaire siblings and that she’s their stepmother. She’s sent them off to find people who love them for who they are, not how rich they are.

This is probably Becca’s favorite movie of all time. I asked her for a quote and she said, “One of the greatest movies of our times.”

Kino Lorber has just released a 4K blu ray edition of this, featuring the Roadshow Edition of the film and new commentary by author/film historian Lee Gambin and art historian Ian McAnally.

*They’re Japanese, but it would take this entire website to explain how racist Hollywood was. And is, to be perfectly honest.

The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin (1967)

Based on the novel By the Great Horn Spoon! by Sid Fleischman, this was the last Disney film directed by James Neilsen, who also made Dr. Syn, Alias the Scarecrow; The Moon-Spinners; Summer Magic; Gentle Giant and Moon Pilot for the studio. It also boasts songs by the Sherman Brothers, who produced more movie scores than any other songwriting team in history. They’re best known for their songs from Mary Poppins as well as one of the most performed songs of all time, “It’s a Small World (After All).”

After Jack (Bryan Russell) and Arabella Flagg (Suzanne Pleshette) are orphaned in Boston, Jack and the family butler Eric “Bullwhip” Griffin (Roddy McDowall) head for the gold rush in San Francisco. Jack is obsessed with the books he’s been reading about the Wild West, which leads them across the country and into the orbit of the villainous Judge Higgins (Karl Malden).

Wrestling fans will enjoy seeing Mike Mazurki, who in addition to being a grappler and a heavy in plenty of movies, was also the first president of the Cauliflower Alley Club, an association of professional wrestlers. He plays Mountain Ox, who boxes against McDowall.

And Disney history fans will get to see Jimmy MacDonald, the voice of Mickey Mouse from 1947 to 1988, as a percussionist in the saloon scenes.

 

Vengeance Trails: Bandidos (1967)

Richard Martin (Enrico Maria Salerno, who is Jesus in Pasolini’s The Gospel According to St. Matthew and the inspector in The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, but perhaps just as importantly the Italian voice for Clint Eastwood in Leone’s movies) is a master of shooting guns whose hands are ruined when he ends up on a train that’s robbed by his former student Billy Kane (Venantino Venantini, City of the Living Dead).

Now, Martin is left to only be a drunken huckster, taking is traveling carnival to dusty small towns in the hopes of just surviving. He was once a sharpshooter but his mangled hands mean that he can only train others and now that his latest student has been killed, he doesn’t have much hope left. That’s when he meets Ricky Shot (Terry Jenkins, who was only in one other movie, the doomed western musical Paint Your Wagon), the man who was framed for the train robbery. Together, they both have plans for revenge.

Massimo Dallamano is a director that I love that doesn’t get the praise that other Italian genre directors receive. Starting as the cinematographer on Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More, his films are all standouts in their subgenres, like the giallo masterwork What Have You Done to Solange? and the cops vs. mad bombers poliziottesco craziness of Colt 38 Special Squad (recently released by Arrow in their Years of Lead box set). Sadly, Dallamano died in a car accident after that film, robbing the world of what might have been.

Arrow Video’s Vengeance Trails box set has 2K restorations of this movie, as well as Massacre TimeAnd God Said to Cain and My Name is Pecos, as well as a collector’s booklet featuring new writing by author and critic Howard Hughes plus a double-sided poster featuring newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx. Bandidos has new commentary by author and critic Kat Ellinger, as well as new interviews with assistant director Luigi Perelli, Gino Barbacane and Fabio Melelli, plus an alternate end title sequence. You can order this from MVD.

It’s also available on the ARROW player. Head over to ARROW to start your 30 day free trial (subscriptions are available for $4.99 monthly or $49.99 yearly). ARROW is available in the US, Canada and the UK on the following Apps/devices: Roku (all Roku sticks, boxes, devices, etc), Apple TV & iOS devices, Android TV and mobile devices , Fire TV (all Amazon Fire TV Sticks, boxes, etc), and on all web browsers at https://www.arrow-player.com.

Vengeance Trails: My Name Is Pecos (1967)

Robert Woods may have started his career in Hollywood when he was selected by George Hamilton to be his stand-in for Where the Boys Are, but he made his name in Italy, where he appeared in a ton of westerns like Four Dollars for VengeanceSavage GunsThe Belle Starr Story (the only Italian western directed by a woman — Lina Wertmüller — and one of the few which stars a woman in the title role — Elsa Martinelli) and this film, which was followed by Pecos Cleans Up.

Pecos Hernandez (Woods) has returned to Houston, looking for Kline (Pier Paolo Capponi, The Cat o’ Nine Tails), the man who wiped out his family. Unlike most films of this genre, the hero is the Mexican and the Texans are the ones who did him wrong. This means that this movie had a huge impact in other countries where Peco was seen as a man fighting imperialism. It’s a good thing they changed the ending, as when the original version where Pecos was killed was shown, the audience pelted the srceen with chairs.

Umberto Raho (The Eerie Midnight Horror Show) plays an undertaker/priest who is anything but religious and one of the more fun characters you’ll find in an Italian western. This is also the first western that George Eastman made and quite possibly where he met Aristide Massaccesi, who was the cinematographer of this before we started to know him as Joe D’Amato amongst many names.

Director Maurizio Lucidi made movies in just about every genre, including giallo (The Designated Victim), peplum (Hercules the Avenger), crime (Stateline Motel, Street People) and comedy (Il marito in collegio). In the 90s and as late as 2003, he was splitting time between TV movies and making adult videos under the name Mark Lander. Writer Adriano Bolzoni’s scripts include The MercenaryThe Man With Icy EyesYour Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the KeyThe Humanoid and many more.

Arrow Video’s Vengeance Trails box set has 2K restorations of this movie, as well as Massacre TimeAnd God Said to Cain and Bandidos, as well as a collector’s booklet featuring new writing by author and critic Howard Hughes plus a double-sided poster featuring newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx. My Name is Pecos has new commentary by actor Robert Woods and C. Courtney Joyner, new interviews with actor George Eastman and actress Lucia Modugno, a new documentary featuring a new interview with Fabio Melelli and an archival interview with cinematographer Franco Villa, and the Italian trailer. You can order this from MVD.

It’s also available on the ARROW player. Head over to ARROW to start your 30 day free trial (subscriptions are available for $4.99 monthly or $49.99 yearly). ARROW is available in the US, Canada and the UK on the following Apps/devices: Roku (all Roku sticks, boxes, devices, etc), Apple TV & iOS devices, Android TV and mobile devices , Fire TV (all Amazon Fire TV Sticks, boxes, etc), and on all web browsers at https://www.arrow-player.com.

The Sorcerers (1967)

The original story for this movie came from John Burke, who for the majority of his career wrote the novelizations for movies such as A Hard Day’s Night, Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors, two volumes of The Hammer Horror Omnibus, Ian Fleming’s Chitty Chitty Bang BangMoon Zero Two and many more. Director Michael Reeves and his childhood friend Tom Baker — not the scarf-wearer Time Lord — re-wrote the script, including making Boris Karloff’s character more sympathetic at the actor’s request.

Burke only got an idea by credit, but after his death, his estate published a limited edition of the original script, as well as letters and legal documents related to the film.

The Sorcerers is very 1967 and I mean that in the best of ways. There are places within the London of this film that feel ancient and shopworn while others feel vibrant and new. The technology seems old and the movie is more than fifty years old, but it still feels like something that could be made today.

Dr. Marcus Monserrat (Karloff) has invented a hypnosis-based machine that allows him to control people and feel what they feel. His wife Estelle is part of his experiments and as their device allows them to live the lives of others, a frisson occurs between them. Marcus wants to document and publish his experiments; Estelle wants to live a youth free of consequences through others. She destroys the device, making all of his work meaningless, and asserts herself as the stronger of the twosome. Now that she has complete control of Mike (Ian Ogilvy), she uses the young man to race recklessly, to steal and even to kill.

Reeves had only made The She Beast and would only make one more movie, the amazing Witchfinder General, before sadly dying from an accidental overdose at the age of 25. He’d been suffering from insomnia and depression, with a variety of treatments being prescribed to help him. An investigation proved that this was no suicide, just a horrible tragedy.

Berserk! (1967)

Joan Crawford’s second-to-last big-screen appearance — Trog would be the final movie she made — Berserk! posits a world where the ageless Ms. Crawford rules a circus and of course sleeps with the hottest performer in the show. Is she in her late forties? Fifties? Perhaps even nearing sixty? Who can say and who really cares, as the world of Joan’s late career films are all completely wonderful and I for one wish that I lived within them instead of my own reality.

Joan is Monica Rivers, who owns a traveling circus along with business manager Dorando (Michael Gough). Gaspar the Great is killed when his tightrope breaks. The police get involved but nothing comes of it. Did she kill him? Will she also kill her business partner? Will she hook up with the attractive new tightrope walker (Ty Hardin, who after acting formed the anti-tax group the Arizona Patriots that quickly became an anti-semetic, anti-black and anti-immigrant group that was amassing weapons and threatening the lives of Arizona politicians)? Maybe. Maybe. And yes, she totally will.

Monica’s daughter has been expelled from school, which oddly feels like a page out of Mommie Dearest, but art imitates life as they say. She’s played by Judy Geeson right before she became a star in To Sir, With Love, even if producer Herman Cohen wanted Christina Crawford.

There’s also the matter of a younger and some would say more attractive — look, I love Joan but Diana Dors (Nothing but the NightFrom Beyond the Grave) is the kind of woman you ruin your life for — girl trying to get with Joan’s boy. She ends up sawed in half for real.

The end of this goes all The Bad Seed on us, with an electrical wire taking out the evil that bad parenting has created.

Director Jim O’Connolly would later make The Valley of Gwangi and Tower of Evil, but neither of those movies have Joan Crawford wearing Edith Head-designed sheer hose and a majorette uniform in them, do they? You know how much Joan cared about this movie? She got up early to make breakfast for the crew every day.

Frankenstein Created Woman (1967)

From flesh and innocence, Frankenstein has created the ultimate in evil. A beautiful woman with the soul of the devil!

With a tagline like that, how can you not watch this movie?

The fourth film in Hammer’s Frankenstein series, this is the one where we stop thinking about death as a physical matter and start getting into the question of the soul and what it means.

The movie starts with Hans Werner watching his father executed by the guillotine. Then, we see him as a young man, working as an assistant to Dr. Hertz and Baron Victor Frankenstein (Peter Cushing, as it always must be). The doctors have learned how to trap the soul before it leaves the body — they must have been watching The Asphyx* — and think that they can transfer it into another body.

They get their chance when Hans is put to death defending the honor of his girlfriend Christina (Susan Denberg, Playboy Playmate of the Month for August 1966) after several rich men abuse her for her deformities and killing her father. After he follows in his father’s footsteps, the doctors are able to extract his soul.

Unable to live without Hans, Christina drowns herself in a river, but the doctors decide to transfer Hans essence into the body of his lover. For months, the two doctors work to heal her physical maladies and make her the perfect woman. The big problem is that she’s haunted by Hans, who she sees as a ghostly apparition, and begins to hunt down the men who killed him and her father.

As the film closes, Christina realizes that she should have never come back to life, so she drowns herself again as Frankenstein somehow learns a lesson and walks away.

Directed by Terrence Fisher, this is the kind of Hammer film that I love, one that moves away from simply being modern versions of classic horror and creating their own commentary on the world through the lens of the fantastic.

*I realize that movie was made five years after this, but the joke was too simple to not use.

The Terrornauts (1967)

I’ll give The Terrornauts two things: It has a great poster with the tagline “The virgin sacrifice to the gods of a ghastly galaxy!” and it’s only 75 minutes long. Based on The Wailing Asteroid by Murray Leinster, this film was double-billed with The Came from Beyond Space (which we’ll review directly after this) and both are considered amongst the worst films that Amicus released.

Project Star Talk has just ninety days to succeed in its mission to listen for radio signals from intelligent life from outer space. A message brings the entire team of Star Talk to an asteroid where they must defeat an entire planet of savages who are the last survivors of a galactic war. If they don’t, their evil planet will make its way to destroy Earth.

This was directed by Montgomery Tully, who also directed the Edgar Wallace story The Man Who Was Nobody twice — once for TV and again for theaters. He also made Battle Beneath the Earth.

I really want to see the movie that the poster is advertising more than what was made.

They Came from Beyond Space (1967)

We already covered the film that this played double bills with — The Terrornauts — earlier today. And much like that movie, this one has a great poster that advertises a movie I want to see more than the one that I actually watched.

Based on Joseph Millard’s The Gods Hate Kansas, this was directed by Freddie Francis for Amicus. He claimed that the studio spent all of the budget for this on the aforementioned The Terrornauts, leading to an inferior film.

This one is about the Master of the Moon (Michael Gough!) spreading a “Crimson Plague” that wipes out a whole bunch of humanity so that the government will send the bodies of the victims to the moon to hide what really happened to them, at which point he will bring them back to life and use them to fix his spaceship.

It’s a really complicated plan that gets torn apart at the end by hero Dr. Curtis Temple, who basically tells the Master that if he’d just asked for help, humanity would have done it. This causes one of the most powerful beings in the galaxy to just start crying.

Supposedly this was Anwar Sadat’s favorite movie. I only have IMDB as a source for this, but I find that absolutely hilarious and have decided that it must be true.

You can watch this on Tubi.

White Lightnin’ Road (1967) and That Tennessee Beat (1966): A Tribute to Ron Ormond . . . and Earl Sink

For our “Ron Ormond Day” at B&S About Movies, I chose this early hicksploitationer* featuring an early role for Ron’s son, Tim. Tim would grow up to serve as an editor, cinematographer, writer (39 Stripes, The Second Coming), and director (the lost The Second Coming) on several Ormond family productions, which also included wife and mom, June Carr (her 2006 Variety obituary). Tim also acted in Ron’s films — only eight out of forty films — Girl from Tobacco Row, The Exotic Ones, If Footmen Tire You, The Burning Hell, The Grim Reaper, The Believer’s Heaven, and 39 Stripes. So, when in Ormondville, you might as well review White Lightnin’ Road to complete Tim’s acting resume . . . and honor the career of Earl Sinks — also the star of today’s second (non-Ron Ormond) film.

Who?

Read on, B&S surfer!

White Lightin’ Road (1967)

Look at that one-sheet! How can you NOT WATCH this?

This one has it all: Loose n’ tempting femme fatales, red-lining stock cars, driver rivalry, and love triangles between said rivals and femme fatales. So, yeah, the proceedings are just like any red-neckin’ romp with fast cars and faster women. And moonshine. And gangsters. And an illegal auto parts network. And murder. And shotgun weddings. And everything southern fried that we love. (Oh, Tim’s a young lad who hangs around the track that’s befriended by Joe, our ne’er-do-well hero.)

Earl “Snake” Richards — a ’50s rockabilly crooner who also appeared in Ormond’s Girl From Tobacco Row (1966), and a ’50s rock flick, That Tennessee Beat (we’re getting to it), before hanging up the clapboard — stars as Snake Richardson, the rough n’ tumble bad-boy racing rival of Joe (the one and gone Ter’l Bennett): your typical, straight-laced lad who has the need for speed. And, as in other back roadin’, moonshinin’ and asphalt romps, Ruby (the sexy n’ white-trashy, eyeball melting Arline Hunter; Playboy Playmate of the Month for August 1954), the bad guy’s girl, has eyes for the good guy. And she — one not to shriek from a good ol’ girl-on-girl catfight — gets Joe mixed up with Slick (played by Ron Ormond), who cons our lad into being the wheelman for a heist, which results in the death of a nightwatchman.

As you watch the trailer, you’ll take note that, unlike the Elvis (Viva Las Vegas) and Fabian (Fireball 500, Thunder Alley**) racing flicks Ormond emulates, there’s no stock footage: everything is staged and shot in-camera by Ron, himself, which makes White Lightnin’ Road superior to many of the racing flicks of the ’60s.


To say we love Ron Ormond’s films is a trope-laden understatement, as we’ve also reviewed Ron Ormond’s pre-salvation exploiters Mesa of Lost Women and Please Don’t Touch Me. And, if you feel like You Tubin‘ or Googlin’, you’ll discover that, after Buddy Holly went solo and left the Crickets hangin’, Earl Richards, aka Sinks, ended up fronting the Crickets. Oh, and did you know, Earl and the Crickets cut the original version of “I Fought the Law” made famous by the Bobby Fuller Four (and later the Clash; just heard it this week on a classic rock station)? True story.

And, in a real treat, there’s a You Tube upload of the Earl Sinks compilation tribute CD The Man with 1000 Names — a super-fine, hour and a half of music featuring his work under the names Sinks, Earl Henry, Sinx Mitchell, and Earl Richards, as well as his work with the Omegas, the Hollidays, the Mar-Vels, and the Crickets. Embedded below, there’s a wonderful slideshow with Earl and the Crickets to the tune of their lost ’50s hit, “Someone, Someone,” to enjoy.


Earl “Snake” Richards in his acting debut for Ron Ormond.
Earl’s complete, career-spanning compilation/read his full biography on Wikipedia.

That Tennessee Beat (1966)

Earl Richards spotlighted on the newspaper ad for That Tennessee Beat.

The big selling point, here (this is B&S About Movies, after all), is American cinema chain owner and producer Robert L. Lippert, who we’ve waxed nostalgic in our reviews for just a few of his 300-plus films: Jungle Goddess, King Dinosaur, Project Moonbase, and Rocketship-XM. And Ron Ormond — the reason for this review — produced and directed several films for Robert L. Lippert, including many westerns with Lash LaRue. (Ormond also used Lash — as a therapist (!) — in the mondo sex-hypnosis romp, Please Don’t Touch Me. Another western star of old, Tex Ritter, worked with Ormond — as a priest (!) — in Girl from Tobacco Row.)

Star Trek: TOS scribe Paul Schneider — who gave two of the series’ best-known, first-season episodes: “Balance of Terror,” which introduced the Romulans, and “The Squire of Gothos” — pens; he also wrote episodes of The Six Million Dollar Man and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. As for our director, Richard Brill: primarily a producer who worked on the TV series The New Steve Allen Show and Dateline: Hollywood, That Tennessee Beat was his only feature film.

This also proved to be the fifteenth and final film for (hubba-hubba) screen beauty Delores Faith, who wowed us in House of the Black Death (1965) with Lon Chaney and John Carradine, the 1966 Drive-In double-biller of The Human Duplicators and Mutiny in Outer Space, and her debut set in the far-flung future of 1980: The Phantom Planet (1961).

Then there’s our leading-lady, Sharon DeBord: During her slight, fifteen credit-career, she was Darrin Stephens’s secretary on TV’s Bewitched for several episodes. Did anyone one see her work in The Hoax (1972) with the recently passed (June 2021) Frank Bonner of Equinox fame? The Halloween rip Killer’s Delight, aka The Dark Ride (1978)?

Okay. Okay. I know. As Sam the Bossman would say: “Hey, don’t we have a movie to discuss?”

Sink — under his then stage name, Earl “Snake” Richards, is our leading man: Jim “The Nashville Kid” Birdsell. An aspiring country-western music star on the run after stealing money to fund a trip to Nashville, he’s subsequently robbed and left penniless by another road bandit. Luckily, Jim meets a brother and sister with a singing group who take him into the band and help him achieve his rock ‘n’ roll dreams. Jim, of course, falls in love with the sister, Opal Nelson (Sharon DeBord), as she and the Rev. Rose Conley (Minnie Pearl) put him on the straight and narrow.

As you can see from the newsprint ad, this film is packed — as is the case with all ’50s and ’60s rock films (see the similar The Road to Nashville; Mister Rock and Roll starring DJ Alan Freed) — with plenty of musical performances.

No disrespect to the ol’ Snake — and it’s not his fault, as he’s just a musician in an acting role — there’s not much of a story here; but again, as is the case with ’50s and ’60s rock films: the whole point is the performances. Remember, there was no MTV back then. And not everyone could afford a television to watch variety shows to see groups perform. And many couldn’t afford to go to concerts. So, it was movies, like That Tennessee Beat (distributed by 20th Century Fox, of all studios), which, for a mere buck a person (sodas and hamburgers were $.30 each*˟), brought the TV — and concerts — to America’s rural Drive-Ins.

You simply can not see a concert line up featuring Earl “Snake” Richards, Peter Drake, Boots Randolph (best know for the huge sax-driven hit, “Yakkity Yak”), the Statler Brothers, and Merle Travis (the film’s title song), not to mention the comedy stylings of the Grand Ol’ Opry’s grande dame, Minnie Pearl, for one dollar. Well, $4.00, if you toss in the sodas and burgers for you and your sweetie. So goes the genre of the “jukebox musicals” of old before Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert, ABC-TV’s In Concert, and NBC-TV’s The Midnight Special.


Sadly, I only have White Lightin’ Road recorded on an old VHS taped-off UHF TV. I also had That Tennessee Beat on a tape via UHF-TV, but lost that one to the blue screen of death. In all of my grey-market VHS years, I’ve never come across a copy of either film. And there’s no online streams to share of either film.

If there’s ever an actor-musician who deserves a restored, reissue box set of his films — only three, mind you — it’s Earl Sink. Make it happen, Arrow, Kino, and Severin. Yeah, we’re calling you out, our brothers. You can even toss in a restored greatest hits career-spanning CD of Earl’s tunes in the set.

* We paid our tribute to hicksploitation films with our “The Top 70 Good Ol’ Boys Film List” featurette.

** If you need more films with romance and burnin’ rubber (of the asphalt variety, dirty mind), check out our “Drag Racing Week,” as well as our “Savage Cinema (box set)” and “Fast and Furious Week” tributes, featuring review links to over one hundred films.

*˟ “Here’s How Much a ‘Cheap Date’ Cost Every Decade Since the 1940s” by Morgan Greenwald for Best Life.

For Henry Earl Sinks
January 1, 1940 to May 13, 2017
Your rocked, it, Snake!

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.