So, we come to the close of our “Monochrome” series, movies that were made back when the world was all in black-and-white, and we’re finishing up with a movie that is often considered a classic of science fiction. But is it? Is it REALLY? Or is that simply what our alien overlords WANT us to think? Get away from me, Mike! You think that just because we’re not doing our “Conspiracy!” series anymore that you can silence me? Never! Listen to me, sheeple! They’re here! The aliens are here! Influencing our actions! Controlling our societies! Contaminating our precious bodily fluids! It’s true . . . dammit, get off me, let go of my keyboard! They have to know! Keep watching the skies! You’re next! I am your father! Multipass! E.T. phone home! Imperial battlecruiser, stop the flow of time! All will be revealed in this week’s podcast episode! I will not be silenced! Bumpy is one of Them!
Poll question:what cinematic disaster scenario is the most frightening for you? Volcanos erupting? Tidal waves? Meteors? Bees?
Hello, dear listeners! Sadly, due to circumstances beyond our control, there will be no episode this week. Fear not; we will rejoin you next week with more biting commentary (or at least gumming commentary). Please don’t worry; this episode absence has nothing to do with Mike’s crippling addiction to Strawberry Qwik or any involvement Max might have in international smuggling of counterfeit Bill Keane “Family Circus” artwork. Those are just silly rumors and I’m surprised you’d bring them up.
What’s that you say, Clarence? You’ve come to me as we near the end of our “Monochrome” series to show me what my life would be like if Bumpy had never been born? Wow . . . what a gift. Maybe this is what it’ll take to get me accept that pony into my life . . . what’s that, there? They’ve invented a new Academy Award for Best Talking About Movies? And I would have won it four years in a row?! Wow, but what about the . . . wait, is that me accepting the Nobel Peace Prize for bringing peace to the Middle East?! And while I’m accepting that, my Medal of Freedom is being accepted for me by my wife . . . Scarlett Johansson?!! Um, gee, Clarence, you’ve sure given me a lot to think about. Uh, no reason but I’m just curious: this is what would have happened if Bumpy had never been born. If he, I don’t know, died suddenly, like, accidentally fell into a woodchipper or whatever, SOME of this stuff could still happen, right? I mean, not all of it, sure, but . . . Clarence? Clarence, where’d you go? Hey, my mouth’s bleeding again. Wow. Maybe it was all a dream . . . but just out of curiosity . . . huh, you actually can buy wood chippers on Amazon. Isn’t that interesting . . . while I’m checking on prices, why don’t you give a listen to Mike and me, as we chat about this enduring holiday classic. Ooo, free shipping . . .
Poll question:What is your favorite holiday movie? It can be any holiday!
Oh no! Mike! This week’s episode of our “Monochrome” series is due to go up and we haven’t discussed any movies! We’re in hot water for sure! Quick, I’ll disguise myself as a strolling violinist while you put on this sailor suit and pretend to be an eight-year-old boy looking for his mommy! Then we’ll sneak into the boss’ hotel room and smear mayonnaise on all his neckties; he’ll be so upset that he’ll forget all about the podcast episode! It’s flawless! C’mon, c’mon we don’t have . . . what do you mean, “we don’t have a boss”? What do you mean, “you can’t pass as eight years old”? Look, we’re doing a zany, screwball comedy thing this week in honor of Billy Wilder’s “Some Like It Hot” so don’t bother me with your pesky notions of “reality”! If Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis can pass as women in the 1920’s, you can be a convincing eight-year-old boy in a sailor suit. That’s just basic logic! Now, help me load this life-sized stuffed giraffe into this Mini Cooper . . . don’t ask questions, it’s essential to the plan. What’s that noise . . . oh no! It’s the Pope! Quick, hide! And the rest of you: quick, listen!
Poll question: is the trope of men dressing up as women still funny? Has it just become problematic?
Well, as you might guess, we’re serving up this week’s edition of “Monochrome” with just a touch . . . OF EVIL! Oh yes, we can tell how surprised you are; you didn’t expect us to serve up our usually tasty podcast with just a hint, perhaps a smattering, nay, just a touch . . . OF EVIL! Cut me some slack, I never realized how much fun it is to add “… OF EVIL!” to the end of every sentence. Mike may have subtly hinted that I was overdoing it, what with all the throwing of horseshoes at my head and such. But massive head injuries aside, this week’s entry is an intriguing cinematic bit of film noir involving a possibly crooked police captain, played by Orson Welles, and a Mexican narcotics agent, played by noted Mexican actor . . . Charleton Heston? Ummm . . . are we sure this one didn’t belong in our “Whitewashing” series? Well, regardless, you’ll only get Charleton’s unconvincing magic-markered mustache away from him when you pry it from his cold, dead upper lip. Which, ew. We’ve also got Janet Leigh, who has learned nothing about checking into an isolated motel from her experience in “Psycho”, Dennis Weaver, at his twitchiest, Zsa Zsa Gabor, at her barely-there-iest, and . . . Marlene Dietrich, at her “what the heck are you doing in this movie, Ms. Dietrich”-iest. Seriously, spoiler alert, but watching Orson Welles act alongside Marlene . . . well, that should have been the whole movie. But it isn’t, so is it worth watching anyway? Hurry and give a listen because I’m not feeling so hot right now. I might be coming down with a touch . . . OF EVIL! (I’ll stop now).
Poll question: Orson Welles: yea or nay? As actor or director, do you like him or is he over-rated?
More “Monochrome”-y goodness this week . . . well, when I say “goodness,” that may give you the wrong idea. Not in terms of quality but in terms of general tone and atmosphere. We’re checking out a not-widely-seen film called “The Lighthouse” and apparently no one told the director that you could do movies in color or in widescreen (sshhh . . . don’t tell him, he’ll only get upset). Or maybe the director just couldn’t afford color; the budget must have been tiny, as he could really only get two actors for speaking parts! So, good for you, Mr. Director, for making the best with what you had! Seriously, it’s pretty interesting to see what a modern director does with the black-and-white medium. But does it work? Can a modern monochromatic film hold our interest? Mike needs lots of bright colors to keep his attention and I need lots of seagulls to keep me interested in a movie. Fortunately, one of us gets what we need in this movie. Give a listen and find out which one!
Poll question:what children’s movie should under no circumstances be shown to children you actually like?
The rain was pounding down hard on the City of Beans, the kind of rain that can almost scrub the filth off the streets . . . but not quite. My partner and I were sitting in our office, staring at our agency name backwards on the glass door: sevitceteD; ekiM, xaM when suddenly . . . SHE clopped in. Another damn pony. Ponies are nothing but trouble; we both remembered our deceased third partner, Bumpy O’Toole, gone to that great glue factory in the sky. This one was definitely trouble; fancy bridle with silver chasings, the best high-heeled horseshoes . . . but you could still sense that there was blood on those hooves . . .
Yes, in this week’s episode of our “Monochrome” series, we’re walking the dark, sullen streets of one of the classics of Film Noir, “The Maltese Falcon.” All the usual suspects are here: Bogey, Peter Lorre, Sidney Greenstreet, Mary Astor, and they’re all looking for . . . wait, I know this . . . some sort of statue . . . of a . . . chicken? Yeah, I’m pretty sure it’s a chicken statue. From . . . I want to say, Cleveland? Well, tune in and find out the fate of the Cleveland Chicken . . . that doesn’t sound right . . . The Des Moines Duck? The Albanian Albatross? Tune in, it’ll come to me.
Poll question: Who is your favorite cinematic detective?
Thanks for joining us here in the land of light and shadow, our series on black-and-white movies called “Monochrome.” I mean, the series is called “Monochrome,” the movies all have their own titles. I think. Maybe there’s a movie called “Monochrome” and I just forgot . . . it seems like I forget so many things these days. I should stay home, not be with other people . . . it could make the madness worse. Who said I was mad? Was it you? Was it me? Whose judgement can I trust? WHAT’S HAPPENING TO ME? Why am I trying to gaslight myself?! Hey, ever wondered where the term “gaslighting somebody” came from? Well, tough, because you’re going to find out anyway! It originated with this week’s movie, George Cukor’s tense psychological thriller “Gaslight” with Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer and (somewhat inexplicably) Joseph Cotton again, no doubt while he was awaiting his nomination for the Manchurian Candidate. So, join us and see which one of us is slowly going mad (spoiler: it’s totally Mike. Mike is completely insane. The tiny people who live in my dental floss container explained it all to me).
Poll question: what movie is your favorite just in terms of costume or wardrobe? What movie makes the wardrobe practically a character on its own?
Hello there, young ‘uns! Us folk here at Max, Mike; Movies got us a brand spanking new series, by cracky! And this time we’re doing PROPER movies, GOOD movies, made the RIGHT way, the way they USED TO MAKE ‘EM before all this new-fangled nonsense showed up. Yup, just like everyone secretly wants but no one will admit, we’re doing a whole series on black-and-white movies! Technicolor, Eastmancolor, Ansco Color . . . phooey! In our day, we only had black, white, and grey and we LIKED it like that! And you’re gonna see why, as we start off with that classic “The Third Man,” starring Joseph Cotton and Orson Welles. And they do it all without using that whole fancy chunk of the visible light spectrum you kids think is the bee’s knees. But don’t think we’re just old fogeys who aren’t up on the latest gimcracks and gizmos! These movies are TALKIES! That’s right, pretty much all of them have actual sound . . . not that we needed that in my day; if you wanted to watch a movie at home, you had to hire a professional pipe organ player to hitch his rig to a team of oxen, haul it over to your house, knock down the back wall, and play while you watched the movie. And we LIKED it like that! So tune in and see what movies are supposed to be like when you don’t need to use the cones in your eyes, by gum!
Poll question: what is your favorite black-and-white movie? When does color just not matter because black-and-white is all you need?
[threatening music, sinister, menacing voice] Mike wants to be your Manchurian candidate. But what do we really know about this so-called “Mike”? Is that even his real name? And is he really his own man, or is he just a puppet for the sinister “Bumpy” cabal? On election day, don’t put your fate in the hooves of this shill for Big Pony! Mike: bad for Manchuria, bad for you. I’m Max and I approve this message. [paid for by the Committee to Hit Mike Over the Head with a Pillowcase Full of Butterscotch Pudding and Skittles]
So yes, we’re closing out our “Conspiracy!” series with a true classic, the original “The Manchurian Candidate,” starring Ol’ Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra, but mostly starring Ol’ Even Bluer Eyes herself, Dame Angela Lansbury in a role that will surprise you. Seriously. Damn. People who’ve never even seen this movie know the term “Manchurian candidate” as a term for a political puppet or some such; that’s just how much the term has become part of the vernacular. And speaking of vernacular, tune in and hear use a bunch of it! That last sentence brought to you by the Committee for Very Clumsy Transitions. Enjoy! Vote Max!
Poll question: what on-screen romantic couple do you think had the worst, most unconvincing chemistry?