Episode 292 – X: the Man with the X-Ray Eyes (1963)

There’s a new superhero in town, the man they call “X”! He has the power to see through things! Clothing! Human skin! Manila file folders! And how does he use this power to fight crime, you ask? Uh . . . well, I guess he could see criminals naked and mock them about any body image problems they might have until they surrendered out of sheer embarrassment and shame. Wow . . . X is kind of a jerk. Lotta nerve calling himself a hero . . . except he doesn’t! That’s entirely on me! What a twist! No, this week’s entry in “Be Like the Cor-Man” does read somewhat like a superhero origin story, except that no one ever calls him “X” (the character’s name is Xavier. No, not “Professor” . . .) and he doesn’t try any super heroics, unless working in a carnival counts. I guess it could; that’s how Dick “Robin” Grayson got started, but anyway! This is considered one of the Cor-man’s better efforts; after all, it’s in color and it stars an Oscar-winning actor (Ray Milland) but how does it stack up against “Little Shop of Horrors”? Tune in and find out! Same Cor-time, same Cor-channel!

Poll question: What non-actor’s performance pleasantly surprised you?

Episode 291 – Little Shop of Horrors (1960)

Tremble before the rise of the Cor-man! We’re in “Be Like the Cor-man” now, up to our necks! For all his chintzy budgets, churned-out scripts, and lilliputian shooting schedules, Roger Corman hardly ever lost money on any of his pictures. Some of those pictures . . . one finds oneself asking “how?” as is the case of the 1960 now-cult-classic “Little Shop of Horrors” (not the musical, but it’s inspiration). This movie may very well hold the record for the shortest shooting time of any Corman film (tune in to find out how short) but it did have the distinction of being one of the first, if not THE first, horror-comedy movies ever. If you don’t agree with that last point, take it up with Bumpy (but really, do tell us if you can think of an earlier example). If nothing else, this movie is probably the best movie about a human-eating plant surrounded by Jewish stereotypes in Los Angeles that is supposed to be New York’s skid row that Jack Nicholson ever appeared in. Probably. Did that not make any sense? Give a listen; it’ll make even less.

Poll question: is there a movie adaptation you’ve seen that is better than the source material? If so, which one?

Episode 290 – The House of Usher (1960)

Spit fire and save matches, we’ve got us a new series! And it’s a doozy, recognizing one of the greatest most talented highly influential directors of the last hundred years. Who you may ask? Ron Howard? Sure, “Apollo 13” is decent and “A Beautiful Mind” won some minor awards like an Oscar but did he bring us “Dinoshark”? No, he did not! Martin Scorsese? Yeah, yeah, “Raging Bull,” “Mean Streets,” those are ok, I guess, but they’re no “Attack of the Crab Monsters”! What about Francis Ford Coppola? I guess some people like “The Godfather” and “Apocalypse Now” but come on, what are they compared to “Teenage Caveman”? But you know what all these directors have in common? They all got their starts working with one man. One exceptional man. One single man. One Cor-man. Yes, these giants of Hollywood, and many others, owe a great debt to recently-departed director/producer/occasional-kind-of-actor Roger Corman, a man who has his name on almost four hundred movies. With this series, we are exhorting you, one and all, to “Be Like the Cor-Man” and we’re starting off with one of his interpretations of an Edgar Allen Poe story (and he did a bunch of those!), “The House of Usher” (or “The Fall of the House of Usher,” as it was sometimes marketed. Or my favorite: “The House of Usher Goes to Hawaii”. Thought that of course was never released). What is it about the Cor-man that has left so indelible a impression upon American film-making? Give a listen, and we’ll try to clue you in!

Poll question: what is your favorite decade/era for film making? If you look closely, which decade has most of your favorites and why?

Episode 289 – The Great Dictator (1940)

Halloyouall! Hier is de ende auf “Hat Nicht Gewonen. Hat Nicht Gewonen. Hat Nicht Gewonen” und der Max und der Mike ist vatchen das moviefilmen von Herr Charles Chaplin “Der Zehr Biggen Leadermensch”. Das ist ein moviefilmen vot nicht winnen das Oskar fur “Müst Gooden Movenpicturspassemachen” und das ist zehr unhappimachen. Or ist das? Maybeezo ist güt? Ist notzogüt? Komm, giben sie ein listenearenhearing zu der sauerbraten und so weit. Der Max und der Mike getalken lotsundlots und maybeezo yü dinken es ist lotsafunnyinterestdinkenmachen. Gesundheit!

Poll question: do you watch any of the major movie award shows, like the Oscars or the Golden Globes?

Episode 288 – Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

Um, ok, this is a bit embarrassing but while we were hoping to discuss “Singin’ in the Rain” as this week’s entry in our “Didn’t Win. Didn’t Win. Didn’t Win” series, we, well I’ll just say it, we couldn’t afford the licensing fees (it’s very complicated; it would take an economist to explain it) BUT don’t despair, because we’ve got something even better: the 1954 Soviet Union. . . homage to this great musical, another great musical called “Make Song During Bad Weather For Praise of Glorious Soviet State.” Oh, it’s a delight! We’ve got Genikoff Kelski, the Dancing Tractor Mechanic, Danilov Conzokoff, the legendary singer/beet farmer, and the lovely, sturdily-built Devrachav Reynavek, former tank commander and Olympic silver-medal winning power-lifter. What a cast! And the songs! So catchy! In addition to the toe-tapping title song, there’s “Induce Happy-Making Laughing in Service of the State,” “It is a Good Morning in Glorious New Russia,” and of course, “You Are Required to Dance”! Who needs that Oscar also-ran from that hack outfit MGM? I mean, that turkey didn’t even get nominated for Best Picture! The only reason “Make Song During Bad Weather For Praise of Glorious Soviet State” didn’t win in ’54 was clearly blatant favoritism on the part of the bourgeoisie capitalist running-dogs of the Academy. Give a listen and find out what did win! [Ok, I wrote what you wanted; you’ll “take care” of Bumpy now, right?]

Poll question: do you like to know the “behind-the-scenes stuff” for your favorite movies or does that spoil the magic?

Episode 287 – 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Ok, this week’s entry in the “Didn’t Win. Didn’t Win. Didn’t Win” series is a bit troubling. I mean, it’s “2001: A Space Odyssey,” right? Well, I don’t know about you but I remember 2001; I remember getting over the Y2K panic; I remember George W. Bush being president. You know what I DON’T remember? Finding a mysterious black monolith on the moon! Know what else I DON’T remember? A manned flight to Jupiter! What the hell is the movie trying to pull?! You know what I think? Now, hear me out, don’t just call me a conspiracy nut or anything, but I think that this whole thing . . . now, hear me out . . . was filmed on a SOUNDSTAGE IN HOLLYWOOD! By acclaimed film director Stanley Kubrick! Yeah, fine, call me crazy, sure, it all looks real, but someone is trying to fool us all here and we won’t let them get away with it! Max, Mike; Movies: delivering the truth, unvarnished and as it appears to us in our bowls of breakfast cereal! Wake up, sheeple! Give a listen! Learn the truth! The Earth isn’t round, either! It’s burrito-shaped! Hey, LISTEN to us!

Poll question: do you think the bias against genre movies like science fiction or westerns is unfair or do you think it’s right for award nominations to go mostly to so-called “real” movies?

Episode 286 – Do The Right Thing (1989)

Please check out this week’s episode of “Didn’t Win. Didn’t Win. Didn’t Win.” Please do. Please baby, please, baby baby baby please! From that ham-handed reference, you can guess that we’re taking on a Spike Lee movie, specifically “Do The Right Thing”, a movie that didn’t win Best Picture, wasn’t even nominated for Best Picture, but a LOT of people thought was the Best Picture of 1989. Heck, give a listen and hear Mike reveal which Oscar presenter used her time to call out the fact that this movie wasn’t nominated! Hint: it’s not Dame Judy Dench (but if she had been there at the time, I bet she would have said something). Anyway, join us for this remarkable, if not easily-watched, movie and stock up on D-cells for your tape player!

Poll question: what is your favorite Samuel L. Jackson performance?

Episode 285 – Juno (2007)

Imagine my disappointment when I discovered that this week’s entry in “Didn’t Win. Didn’t Win. Didn’t Win” was NOT a thrilling docu-drama about the founding and development about the capital of Alaska. I mean, what a missed opportunity! I was hoping to see the on-screen portrayals of the prospectors Richard Harris and Joe Juneau as they struggle to the death to see who gets to name the city (ok, the current name of the city is kind of a spoiler) but imagine Graham Greene as the Tlingit Chief Kowee! Abe Vigoda as the crusty but loveable general store owner! They could have done a touching story about the dog Patsy Anne, the official Canine Greeter of Juneau, or had a massive musical number where everyone does the Ice Worm Wiggle (I’m not making any of that up). Sigh. Ok, so I guess we did get a pretty ok movie about teen pregnancy, with an awesome soundtrack, great performances and some razor-sharp Diablo Cody dialogue but I can’t help think about . . . what could have been . . .

Poll question: What is your favorite Michael Cera performance?

Episode 284 – Citizen Kane (1941)

Welcome to Max Foster Levine and No One Else; Movies. I, and I alone, have come up with our new series “Didn’t Win. Didn’t Win. Didn’t Win.” and don’t you forget it! Yes, yes, I may have had some partner or other at some point but I sent him packing when he showed his vast lack of vision at my brilliant choice of “Citizen Kane” as an example of the Worst Movie Ever. Seriously, what a stinker. You all have probably never even heard of this turkey, given the hideous performances, ludicrous script, and barf-inducing direction and camera work by some hack who sold frozen peas. Everyone hates this movie. Yes, they do! Don’t tell me what you think, I’ll tell YOU what you think! You hear me?! My opinions of movies are the only ones that matter!! You all listen to me and no one else! LISTEN TO ME! I’M MAX FOSTER LEVINE AND I . . . I . . . I . . . my heart . . . {thud} . . . . . {whispered} In July . . . .

Poll question: what do you think is the best motion picture ever made? Not necessarily your favorite, but the best made?