The Man from Yenta - 1967
Get Smart - The Man from Yenta - Jan 28, 1967
Flare Up - 1969
Flare Up - Released November 10, 1969. Directed by James Neilson
Is Flare Up supposed to somehow be reminiscent of Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow Up? Besides the title, Flare Up co-star James Stacy (as Joe Brodnek) holds a camera in the movie, shooting film of super-model movie star Raquel Welch (as Michele) once or twice, and then there's murder.
But it's a superficial similarity. Flare Up borrows lightly from a few other places, too. The film begins with a credit sequence which takes off in a James Bond style montage with Raquel (and multiple duplicate Raquels) gyrating go-go style while being superimposed within and over silhouettes of a pistol that vanishes, shrinks and enlarges. But this, too, is a superficial item compared to the main tale in Flare Up which is like a better-budgeted episode of any number of TV detective programs. Go-go dancer Raquel is on the run from Vegas to Los Angeles after the jealous Alan Morris (played by Luke Askew) kills his ex-wife Nikki (Sandra Giles) and then blames Michele for "making him do it." Morris is convinced all of his dead ex-wife's female associates (they're all dancers) had been poisoning her mind against him, which hardly seems necessary since he comes across as utterly unlikable.
After the first murder, Morris attempts to shoot Michele and his dead wife's other friend, Iris (Pat Delaney) but fails, though is determined to try again later. When the police offer protection to Michele, she scoffs that it would not be of any value: "Nikki had a restraining order and you see what good it did her!" Michele then escapes town incognito and eventually travels to Los Angeles, and gets a job at a "topless and bottomless" club, and is befriended by the car valet (James Stacy). A whirlwind romance commences and soon the two characters share an intimate horse ride on a sunny California beach, splashing about with the wind kicking their hair up, a sequence that goes on for too long and seems more like a shampoo TV commercial.
Meanwhile Morris has figured out where Michele has gone and is in Los Angeles to finish his cock-eyed revenge plot.
The film is at its best when Welch and Stacey are alone together and awkwardly getting to know each other, and that is where the often stiff acting in Flare Up works to their advantage. But too many scenes contain a lot of people shuffling in and out of rooms and the prosaic dialogue moving the plot forward until we get a final confrontation between Luke and Raquel (which isn't bad, but like a lot of Flare Up, is too long).
The script (by Mark Rogers) is wobbly and seems patched together. At times the story is pretending to be about the subculture of topless dancers, drugs, thugs, and true love amid the dirt, but wrapped around it all are scenes of Vegas casino palaces and show business, as if that shiny veneer is shared by the other, grittier world, but it's all too incongruous to make any kind of point about either. Instead it seems like an artificial springboard for regular interjections of the loose-limbed Miss Welch to dance (which is impressively athletic, but those scenes are, like other parts of Flare Up, too long, as if the director is running out the clock because we just don't have enough story).
Flare Up has some high points. Luke Askew's very first scene has a long monologue where he gives us all the backstory, and it's nicely compact and Askew presents a portrait of a dangerous but pathetic loser, like a menacing Jack Palance character that is only half as repellent but twice as dumb. Askew makes the most of this miniature biographical scene but this is about as demonstrative as Flare Up will allow him to be before mechanically sending him on his obsessive chase to kill Raquel.
Raquel Welch improves parts of Flare Up by just walking across the room and smiling. She has a great wardrobe ensemble in scene after scene. The dialogue in Flare Up doesn't serve anyone very well, particularly Welch, who has to carry a lot of the movie by herself. Too many scenes sound like they've had the audio re-recorded and Welch's breathy line readings do not really match the physical activity on the screen itself.
Flare Up does contain a lot of great location shots of Los Angeles. There is much driving around in the movie and a nice display of 1960s automobiles are on the screen, especially Welch's character's Fiat Spider. The stunt work, especially at the end which features a man on fire, is impressive.
Die Freudiose-Gasse - 1925
Greta Garbo and Valeska Gert
Director Spielberg on the set of Jaws, 1975
Natalie Wood 1960
All the Fine Young Cannibals, 1960
African Treasure - 1952
African Treasure, released May 6, 1952. Directed by Ford Beebe
Bomba (Johnny Sheffield) is called the "jungle boy" and that's accurate in this case, the villains (Arthur Space, Lyle Talbot and Lane Bradford) are considerably taller than the beefy jungle avenger, and are able to knock him out in a face-to-face fight. The bad men are smuggling diamonds out of Africa using slave labor held captive at an extinct volcano. Laurette Luez (as Lita Sebastian) gets rounded up and put in with the other captives, which includes her father Pedro (Martin Garralaga).
On hand to help Bomba is companion Kimbobo the Chimp who helpfully hurls rocks when needed, and other jungle animals supplied mainly through foreign location shots that don't always exactly mix well with the studio footage (Bomba fights a lion and does a lot of travel by swimming underwater). These process sequences vary from acceptable for 1952 to rather poor, though nothing on the scale of awful process work in sub-budget films (for example, Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman).
Though most of African Treasure seems vaguely familiar as a reversion of Tarzan adventures, Beebe's screenplay has an interesting element that as the bad white men perform their evil deeds, the natives smilingly announce that Bomba will soon be coming for them (Bomba is also referred to as the "white devil"), which adds a sense of menace to the otherwise juvenile storyline. The gleeful way this coming doom is mentioned to the gun-toting bad guys by natives adds an inverted dark quality to the interactions of powerful men with guns and the helpless natives. That the bad men repeatedly think they've killed the jungle boy, but he keeps popping back up again and is getting closer to their lair, enlarges the theme of impending doom.
Why Lita (Laurette Luez) has a Spanish accent in Africa and refers to men as "senor" isn't explained, and the scenes of the "jungle telegraph" which features native drummers communicating with one another over distance with beat patterns (which generally sound the same) isn't explored either except through a montage of smiling, drumming men (a sequence features a grinning Bomba pounding out a quasi-jazz beat). It's a little surreal, and though the chief influence is obviously Edgar Rice Burroughs' Lord Greystoke, Bomba seems also patterned after here-and-then-gone Rima the Jungle Queen, another jungle legend of early 20th century literature that seemed an almost supernatural presence ruling the South American jungles.
Sheffield doesn't say much and seems mostly unmoved by what's happening at any given moment, whether he is in jeopardy are just receiving information about whatever mission his mentor (Leonard Mudie as the Scottish-accented Andy Barnes) is sending him on. Sheffield seems determined to get the job done so he can then disappear back into the trees (which he does at the end, pulling a full-on 'Batman' on the grateful Luez).
Laurette Luez is fine, though she doesn't get called on to do very much except look concerned, provide lines for Sheffield to stonily respond to, and to look beautiful, though she does get to deliver one of the imminent notes of doom to the bad guys while coyly smiling about it. Director Beebe takes the trouble to carefully light many of the scenes with Luez and she is obviously one of African Treasure's main special effects.
The film (number 7 in a series of 9 Monogram movies) is held back by the low budget, Tarzan-imitation, some cringingly written scenes with Hollywood Africans (the stoic Woody Strode is on hand), and the under-performing of most of the cast. The 70-minute movie does have a few of its own special qualities, though some patience is required to enjoy it.
African Treasureis currently streaming via Warner Archives online service.
Buster Keaton and Natalie Talmadge, 1921
Atacan las brujas - 1968
Atacan las brujas - Released Feb 23, 1968. Directed by Jose Diaz Morales
la mujer Mercielago - 1968
la mujer mercielago - Released March 28, 1968. Directed by Rene Cardona
Mamie Van Doren
Starring Miss Barbara Stanwyck [Illustrated with 310 Photographs] - amazon.com
- The Stand In - 1937 - Leslie Howard, Bogart and Blondell
- The Black Book - 1949 - Robert Cummings and Arlene Dahl
- Who Done It? - 1942
- Cat-Women of the Moon - 1953
- The Viking Queen - 1967
- Little Miss Marker - 1934
- Get Out - 2017
- Man's Favorite Sport
- Braveheart 1995
- Bringing Up Baby - 1938
- The Comedy of Terrors - 1963
- Day of Anger - 1967
- Central Park - 1932 - Joan Blondell has trouble on her hands when she gets suckered into helping a gangster to rob a charity event. Though this film stars Joan and Wallace Ford, it also features the American Great Depression which is the background for the hunger and desperation that flavors the film.
Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial