Wednesday, March 31, 2010


My only exposure to The Chesterfield Kings previously was on Little Steven's Underground Garage Show on XM Radio(when I used to have a subscription). This movie definitely sounded promising when I ran across it on Netflix:

"When the Chesterfield Kings debuted their 1960s sound in 1979, they kick-started a garage-rock revival that would last well into the 1980s. Backed by songs from the band's "Where the Action Is!" album and "Surfin' Rampage" LP, this black-and-white avant-garde romp follows the band around the world -- through London, Rome, Paris, Las Vegas and Honolulu -- to pry their hapless drummer from the grip of an evil alien."

Unfortunately this is a case where the synopsis is much better than the movie. Where is The Chesterfield King? is a mish-mash of Plan Nine From Outer Space, The Monkees, A Hard Days Night (especially John Lennon's bathtub scene), The Three Stooges, and Batman with Adam West.

All of those things together still sound like it could be one hell of a movie, but the main failure is with The Chesterfield Kings. If they had played their parts straight, this could have been very entertaining; but in a case of, we're so hip we'll overact and show everyone just how crazy and outrageous we can be, what was left was a 70 minute movie that was hard to sit through. Thank God, it wasn't any longer.

The only parts of the movie that I enjoyed were a guest appearance by Mark Lindsay and an inclusion of a color video (rest of the movie is in black and white) of The Chesterfield Kings performing their song Shelby GT 356 (which was a riff on The Beach Boys).

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Sweet Dreams - The Story of The Legendary Country Singer Patsy Cline wasn't a very good biopic. When I watch a movie about someone's life, I go into it knowing that events are going to be condensed and that it is being made for entertainment value with accuracy a second thought. However, I do expect the movie to be about the person promised. Sweet Dreams is more of a story about Charlie Dick (Patsy's second husband) than about Patsy herself.

We do get some basic background on Patsy at the first of the movie. Once Charlie Dick (Ed Harris) enters the movie, everything Patsy (Jessica Lange) does for the rest of the movie seems to revolve around him, even down to the last words she speaks in the movie.

Jessica Lange just couldn't make me believe she was Patsy Cline. First, her body type is not correct, she's a little to thin. Second, it appears that Jessica Lange copied her accent from Sissy Spacek in "Coal Miner's Daughter", since I kept thinking I was listening to Loretta Lynn not Patsy Cline. And finally, Jessica Lange lip-sync's her songs.

Ed Harris made a good Charlie Dick, I guess, since I have no preconceived notions of what Charlie Dick would sound or look like. Since the movie makes Charlie Dick out, for the most part, to be a complete cocky asshole, Ed Harris seems to have been cast correctly for the part. I did have a hard time believing that if Patsy was the strong type of woman she always appeared to be that she wouldn't have taken all the physical and emotional abuse that Charlie Dick heaped on her. And according to some of the things I read about Patsy's real life, she usually won any fight with Charlie Dick.

After sitting through what should have been titled "The Charlie Dick Story featuring Patsy Cline", the movie really goes haywire with Patsy's last scene. As her plane is about to crash into a mountain, they show her last words to be yelling "Charlie". This fabrication is an insult to Patsy and to the viewers of this movie.

For a much better portrayal of Patsy Cline, check out Beverly D'Angelo in "Coal Miner's Daughter".

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


The second person I associate with Act Naturally, the song that contains the lyrics that are the namesake of this blog is Ringo Starr. I feel it is only appropriate to review one of Ringo's movies as my second blog post.

Ringo produced Son of Dracula and it was done under the banner of Apple Corps. The movie stars Ringo and one his long time friends Harry Nilsson. It has been rumored that David Bowie was originally courted for the Nilsson part and after seeing Nilsson's acting, Bowie would definitely have been a better choice.

Son of Dracula starts with a depiction of a Vampire that is reminiscent of Nosferatu. He is killed, but we learn that he had impregnated a human, and his yet to be born son will become King of the Netherworld in 100 years.

Fast forward 100 years and we find Count Downe (Nilsson) going to England to gain his throne. Merlin (Ringo) is going to assist him by letting him know the exact time that his coronation should take place. Along the way The Count falls in love with a mortal and Van Helsing agrees to help him become human. Dr. Frankenstein wants to thwart this plan or become King of the Netherworld himself. That's the basic plot of Son of Dracula and even though it sounds confusing, it's not really that hard to keep up with while watching.

Son of Dracula also includes a Frankenstein Monster, other Vampires, Mummies, Zombies, a Wolfman, and a woman who can turn into a cat. In other words, a little dash of everything from the old Universal horror movies.

Son of Dracula wasn't a very good movie, the acting was poor, the lighting was bad, and it could have used a better editor. Surprisingly, the songs performed were actually placed in logical situations; however, only two songs "Living Without You" and "Daybreak" actually fit within the movie storyline and "Daybreak" was the only song especially written for Son of Dracula. This movie would probably have been better as a comedy and considering that they named their lead character Count Downe, why they didn't go this route is a mystery (even the original movie poster makes it appear to be a comedy); but Son of Dracula is played dead straight with not an ounce of humor to be found.

Ringo can be a much better actor (The Magic Christian, Candy, That'll Be The Day) than seen here, but maybe he didn't have good direction; but let's face the facts, it was his movie and who was going to tell him anything.

Keith Moon, Peter Frampton, and John Bonham are listed in the credits and I know they were the back-up of musicians in some of the musical performances in the movie. I missed them on this first viewing of Son of Dracula, but unfortunately, I don't think I could stand watching a second time in order to see them.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


I borrowed the title of this blog from the lyrics of the song Act Naturally. Even though it wasn't written by Buck Owens (it was written by Johnny Russell and Voni Morrison), Buck was the first to record it to the best of my knowledge and I associate the song first with him and second with Ringo Starr. I thought it only fair that the first movie I should review would have to have Buck Owens in it.

When I researched Buck Owens to see what movies he might have been in, I could only find one where he was acting and not just being Buck Owens. It was a made for TV movie called "Murder Can Hurt You". Unfortunately, I found out that it was not available on vhs or dvd. Luckily, I found it on ioffer from someone who had recorded it back in 1980 and had transferred it to dvd. To my surprise it was a pretty good looking copy and they had even edited out the commercials.

"Murder Can Hurt You" is a spoof of TV cops and detectives. It seems someone is out to kill all the great cops and detectives. Buck Owens plays Sheriff MacSkye (McCloud), Victor Buono plays Ironbottom (Ironside), Tony Danza plays Pony Lambretta (Baretta), Gavin MacLeod plays Nojack (Kojack), Connie Stevens plays Salty Sanderson (Pepper Anderson, Police Woman), Burt Young plays Lt. Palumbo (Columbo) and Jamie Farr and John Byner play Studsky and Hatch (Starsky and Hutch) .

The surprising thing about the cast is that most of the actors (Victor Buono, Tony Danza, Gavin MacLeod, Burt Young) do such a great job of portraying their TV counterparts that its not hard imagining them as the actors in the original roles. Buck Owens holds his own with the rest of the cast, even if his acting is basically the same as you would have seen him doing in his Hee-Haw Skits. Connie Stevens does a good job as Salty and also gets to do a great Dolly Parton take off at one point in the movie. Jamie Farr and John Byner play their characters a little too broad and there is no believability to their roles.

Of course, the humor in the movie is a little too broad for me; it's of the variety of let's see how wacky we can be and put the actors in a lot of outlandish situations. Even the villain appears to be out of the 1960's Batman. Maybe in 1980 when the movie was made this would have been funnier, viewing it today it was hard to even stay awake to the end. But it was nice to catch Buck Owens playing someone other than himself.

Below is part one of the movie from youtube: