Friday, March 13, 2015

Margaret Markov & THE JIMMY STEWART SHOW 1971

Another Day, Another Scholar
Original Air Date Oct. 17 1971


Filipino exploitation babe Margaret Markov attempts to seduce Jimmy Stewart !!


      A few months before heading off to the Philippines to film New World's THE HOT BOX (and later BLACK MAMA WHITE MAMA) here's the very beautiful Margaret Markov making an appearance in Jimmy Stewart's short lived early 70's TV series, which was titled (aptly enough) THE JIMMY STEWART SHOW. Playing Prof. James Howard, a science teacher at a small college, Stewart's small screen debut was highly publicized but untimely failed to connect with viewers only running for one season from 1971-72. Watching the series today on Warner Archives Streaming (I have vague recollections of the show as a child) it seems wanting to juggle back and forth between comedy and drama with Stewart in full "aw shucks..." mode as he gently tries to confront some of the then contemporary social issues of the day. Most of the comedy side of things is centered around his home life with Julie Adams (THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON) playing the wife along with a couple of precocious kids and M. Emmett Walsh as a fellow professor.




   Before she would shower down Pam Grier and blast her way through the sweaty Filipino jungles with  machine guns & machetes, Markov here plays Joyce Gibbs -  a highly flirtatious student who seemingly will go to any lengths not to pass Prof. Howard's class, but to simply be allowed to enroll in it (!). Wearing a variety of low cut dresses along with mini-skirts & leopard-skinned hot pants she seems bound and determined to enjoy the benefits of the professor's folksy science musings, as at one point she even starts to strip down in his office (after offering him a case of beer !). The script makes it plainly obvious that Markov's end game plan is to not only flirt with the slightly befuddled Stewart, but to untimely engage in some office couch "special tutoring"



   Born in 1948 in Stockton Calif., the blonde statuesque Markov appeared in Jack Starret's RUN ANGEL RUN in 1969 and in 1971 would appear in Roger Vadim's  black comedy PRETTY MAIDS ALL IN A ROW. Traveling to the Philippines in 1972 she was in the THE HOT BOX and in 1973 would appear as a revolutionary on the run with Pam Grier in the all time classic BLACK MAMA WHITE MAMA ("Chicks in Chains...On The Run From A Prison Hell !"). In 1974 Roger Corman would transplant the women in prison thing to Ancient Rome with the result being THE ARENA that once again teamed Margaret with Pam Grier as female gladiators that are overseen by Rosalba Neri. Former actor Mark Damon (THE DEVIL'S WEDDING NIGHT) was producer on THE ARENA and he and Margaret were later married (and remain so to this day).









Tuesday, March 10, 2015

PSYCHO FROM TEXAS 1975

"It's a Shocker !"




"A mad man roars out of Texas and sends a beautiful young girl's dreams down the drain.....and a whole town into shock !"

     Produced and directed by Jim Feazell (who worked as an uncredited stuntman on several late 60's westerns), this oddball & off kilter Arkansas produced thriller was originally released regionally in 1974 under the title of WHEELER with a PG rating. In 1980 Feazell shot some additional footage with bit more sleaze and nudity to spice it up for the drive-in crowd with one sequence featuring future scream queen Linnea Quigley in an early role as a barmaid tormented & humiliated by the title character, along with some flashback sequences. With this footage (along with some additional editing done by the distributors) the movie was re-released in 1980 as PSYCHO FROM TEXAS bearing a new "R" rating. The original WHEELER cut has yet to surface, but over the years PSYCHO has turned up occasionally on budget DVD's that all were seemingly sourced from the old Paragon VHS tape. Code Red recently released this as part of one of their "6 packs", which although sourced from a somewhat battered 35mm print is a welcome upgrade none the less.




    Pudgy faced and sleepy eyed drifter Wheeler ("no first name, no middle name...just Wheeler") arrives in a small town Ark. town and upon arrival almost immediately meets up with the local sheriff and later retired oil baron William Phillips & his daughter (all of whom will figure later in the plot). Wheeler (played with slow moving menace by John King III) initially strikes up a bit of a friendship with Phillips and as we learn later has been hired by a local businessman to come to town and kidnap Phillips. Meeting up with the aptly named "Slick" played with twitchy spastics by Tommy Lamey (who doesn't so much chew on toothpicks as devour them) they proceed with the plan. Kidnapping Phillips they haul him out to a remote cabin whereupon Wheeler decides its a good idea to head back to town to score some grass and its here that the film takes some bizarre turns.
    Forcing Phillips to write him a check he brazenly walks into a bank to cash it and wonders about a town bit, buying some KFC (with the constant prominent placement of the KFC logo you know who supplied the catering), smashes a drug pusher in the crotch with a pool cue and ends back at Phillip's house where he's welcomed by by his daughter who's busy planning a party along with her friend (who happens to be the sheriffs daughter). Things go from bad to worse at the Phillips house and back in town he walks into a bar (still clutching his predominately displayed KFC box) and forces barmaid Linnea Quigley to strip nude & dance while he dumps beer over her and finally forces to straddle an unconscious bar patron.




    Concurrently after "Slick" falls asleep Phillips manages to escape which proceeds to develop into a seemingly never ending lopping foot chase through woods, over rivers (and in pig-pens) encompassing what would appear to be about half the state of Arkansas. Throughout the course of the film we keep cutting back to the chase (with the both the protagonist usually about 12 ft. apart) and after not to long it becomes almost comical with "Slick" doing his best Wylie E. Coyote imitation as he stumbles and falls every few minutes.
   Periodically we're shown flashbacks from Wheeler's perspective (with close-ups of his eyes) that show his childhood with his abusive Mother (played by Angela Carnon from 1970's THE BOOBY TRAP) who works as a prostitute bedding down with traveling salesmen while little Wheeler spies on them. There's also a flashback concerning an earlier murder that was likely inserted to add some more blood and a bit of nudity to the proceedings. John King III knocked around both behind and in front of the camera in several low budget films and rather bizarrely would later pop up in a small role in an episode of CAGNEY & LACEY. As Wheeler he brings a strange presence to an already strangely shot & edited movie. Lethargically going about his business he exudes a creepy low key psycho vibe that would send most right minded people fleeing in the opposite direction a few seconds after encountering him.




    An alternately scuzzy and strangely compelling viewing experience, the film is oddly paced (whether intentionally or by happenstance) and befitting its production history features some nonsensical editing with background dialogue looped over & over at some points. As to be expected it has a cobbled together feel with its stitched together Frankenstein style mishmash of footage creating some jarring transitions. With its junk strewn train yards, rusty oil tanks and greasy diners it does give a wonderful atmosphere of a somewhat gone to seed small southern town. The acting as to be expected all over the place with the two minor female roles (Candy Dee as Phillips daughter and Janel King as the sheriff's daughter) coming off best, although it it is fun to watch Tommy Lamey chewing up bushels of scenery while spewing out string of expletives while pursuing Phillips. It would be interesting to see the WHEELER version as far as what was cut and how it would play without the added exploitation elements.







Saturday, February 21, 2015

June Fairchild Sept. 3 1946 - Feb. 17 2015


   
    Some sad news to pass along, as June Fairchild passed away earlier this week at the age of 68. Although perhaps not a well known actress, she did however leave an inedible impression on many a film goer in the 1970's. Born June Edna Wilson on Sept. 3 1946 in Manhattan Beach Ca. she became one of the Gazzarri Dancers on the Hollywood A Go-Go TV show. A locally produced Los Angeles music show that ran from 1964 to 1966, June quickly became one of the shows favorites because of her energetic dancing and infectious personality. Here she is having fun front & center (and assisting with a great scream) with Sam The Sham and the Pharaohs, as the first girl playing hard to get with Lou Rawls and tearin' it up with The Bobby Fuller Four (she's second on the right to the back of the band). Later she moved on to Playboy After Dark and for several years was the girlfriend of Danny Hutton from Three Dog Night (and it's she that's credited with coming up with the group's name).


 THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT 1974

    Changing her her name to Fairchild, she had a small part in an episode of THE MONKEES 1st season ("The Chaperone") and later appeared in HEAD where she showed up twice, first as one of the harem dancers and later as "the jumper". Jack Nicholson, remembering her from HEAD, cast her in his directorial debut DRIVE, HE SAID as a college cheerleader. She made a very memorable impression as "Sonny" in Roger Vadim's PRETTY MAIDS ALL IN A ROW in 1971 and had a small part as a hooker in DETROIT 9000. In 1974's THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT she shared a scene with Clint Eastwood (a scene that showed just what a gifted and natural actress she was) and in 1979 would portray "the ajax lady" in Cheech and Chong's UP IN SMOKE.

THE MONKEES "The Chaperone" 1966



 PRETTY MAIDS ALL IN A ROW 1971

     Later in life she would sadly struggle with substance abuse and at various times ended up homeless and living on the streets of Los Angeles. In 2002 after an arrest (along with stories of her plight on Good Morning America and in the L.A. Times) she along with help from her old friends entered rehab and started the process of putting her life in order. Always trying to be self sufficient she worked jobs such as delivering newspapers and with a small monthly relief check lived in a secession of hotel rooms and had signed a licensing agreement with Paramount Studios for her likeness on an "ajax lady" bobble head. As a result of illnesses including fibromyalgia and liver cancer, the last days of her life were spent in a convalesce home in hospice care where she passed away on Feb. 17. At the time of her passing she had begun working on her autobiography and had always hoped to continue her acting career.


DRIVE, HE SAID  1971

    During the decades of the 60's and 70's (as with decades before and after) untold scores of young women headed to Hollywood, although what makes the above mentioned decades unique was a combination of the proliferation of low budget movies to service the drive-ins and exploitation movie houses along with mainstream Hollywood attempting to court the youth market with road and counter culture movies, all of which created a bounty of opportunities for young & hopeful actresses. A few of them achieved ongoing success (or at the very least name recognition such as Pam Grier), but many of them made a few movies and perhaps because of lack of mainstream success, career moves, along with marriage and family (or sometimes a life cut tragically short) they drifted away from the industry in the late 70's & early 80's.
    Expect for cult and exploitation movie fans actresses such as Claudia Jennings, Linda Haynes, Candice Railson, Tiffany Bolling, Roberta Collins, Tamera Dobson, Joy Bang, Gloria Hendry, Cheri Caffaro, Margaret Markov, Carol Speed and June Fairchild are sadly unknown today - but they were (and are) a huge part of movie history. They were sometimes Playboy centerfolds or bunnies, beauty contest winners, models, go-go dancers, prom queens or home coming queens, but mostly they were just average American girls from towns large and small and their story is a great documentary that's just waiting to be made.


HEAD 1968

   I had planned on doing a post for her on June's birthday last year, but unfortunately time got away from me. Although it's nice to think it could happen, there's a good chance that at the end of this year her name won't get mentioned in the "in memory" sequences such as on TCM and The Oscars, but she will always be remembered in this blog and others. There is a memorial fund set up by her friends to help pay for her final days and funeral expenses and here is a wonderful site on the Gazzarri Dancers.

Here's June on the cover of Kim Fowley's Born To Be Wild album from 1968






Friday, February 20, 2015

ROSALBA NERI FRIDAY - COLPO GROSSO...GROSSISSIMO...ANZI PROBABILE 1972

Rosalba, Terry Thomas AND Luciana Paluzzi (!!) attempt a big heist with comedic results.





    Roughly translated as "Big Shot....Very Big...Indeed Probable" this Italian/Spanish co-production from 1972 stars Terry Thomas, Luciana Paluzzi, Nino Castelnuovo, José Luis López Vázquez and Umberto D'Orsi. Never released outside of Spain and Italy and from what I could discern while watching the Italian language DVD I have, it appears to be a light hearted comedy caper with a group of thieves led by Terry Thomas attempting to rob a huge dept. store.
   The plan seems to involve sneaking the large store safe out in a delivery van and even with the language barrier there was some really funny sequences. It's filled with familiar Italian character faces and being a huge Terry Thomas fan I enjoyed the heck out of this (he's one of those actors that even with just standing there can make you smile).
   Rosalba has a very small cameo in the beginning as she seems to be Terry Thomas's wife, who catches him in the act of messing around with his co-conspirator played by Luciana Paluzzi (So wait a minute - Terry is married to Rosalba AND gets to fool around with Luciana...!!!).



   Paluzzi was one of the busiest actresses of the the 60's and early 70's, appearing in over 80 movies and TV shows. She has a pretty cool resume having appeared in a James Bond film (THUNDERBALL in 1966), a "beach party" movie (MUSCLE BEACH PARTY from 1964), Japanese sci-fi (a co-production with A.I.P - 1968's THE GREEN SLIME), and a women-in-prison with Jess Franco's 99 WOMEN (which also co-starred Rosalba) from 1969.