Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Junk-quake & Flames

Growing up, I refused to see the multitude of disaster movies that plagued the big screens during the better part of the early to mid-1970s. Why have they recently slowly woven through my life with the connecting thread of George Kennedy? The year 1974 seems to be the apex when San Francisco in The Towering Inferno and Los Angeles in Earthquake blasted the screen. Tonight I am watching the later, albeit without the ground breaking Sensurround that accompanied it in theaters. How can you knock a movie that features both Marjoe Gortner and Pedro Armendariz Jr. (who, of course, is nothing compared to Pedro Armendariz Sr.)?

Most amazingly, it unravels the long standing riddle of the Hollywood Sphinx and the 1990s incident of the slapping of a police officer by Zsa Zsa Gabor. One of the earliest action sequences involves a crisis when a police car plows through Zza Zza's hedge and they are distraught. They knew what would follow.

Do these movies make us howl with laughter today because they are so horribly made, or because they so pathetically anticipate a reality that would so gruesomely be realized in the 21st century? Burning and exploding buildings, planes crashing without pilots to guide them and only the young and beautiful surviving. If you are Ava Gardner, a woman over 50 and not fit, you are doomed to be sucked into the sewers of Los Angeles. Same goes for poor Jennifer Jones, her Aqua-netted head bouncing off the gleaming windows of San Francisco's financial district's glistening towers as she meets the bitter fate of no longer being able to pass for 35.

I will only start to worry when these movies outnumber my Criterion collection library.

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8 Comments:

At 7:35 AM, Blogger Salty Miss Jill said...

From the sublime to the absurd and back again. Asthetics lie in the eye of the beholder...no shame in watching 70's disasters back-to-back with Ingmar Bergman.

 
At 8:28 AM, Blogger Gavin Elster said...

Earthquake. Gotta love Senesurround. Little bit of Hollywood mirco-history: The man driving the truck full of cows(the one that dives off the 405 freeway) was played by a man named Steve who used to run the Sunset Ranch located at the end of Beachwood Canyon. I love that film. There is nothing better then seeing your own home town torn to bits.

 
At 8:29 AM, Blogger Gavin Elster said...

Sensurround.

 
At 8:35 AM, Blogger Ladron de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Jill - Bergman's movies are sort of disaster films as well, just without the crashing buildings.

Gavin - Was that Steve's only movie role? I especially love it when the cardboard pillars meant to look like bricks fall.

Correct spelling of Sensurround noted and corrected.

 
At 1:34 PM, Blogger Gavin Elster said...

Sadly it was his last. he suffered a heart attack a few years later.

 
At 10:33 PM, Blogger Ladron de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Gavin - Too bad about Steve. I kinda feel like I know the guy now. He's pretty convincing trying to keep that cattle truck on the road.

 
At 2:00 AM, Blogger m00nchild said...

And then there were the Airport movies ...

I'm assuming I can borrow them all, right?

 
At 10:49 AM, Blogger Ladron de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

m00nchild - I actually own all four in their complete horror, including the last one with Sylvia Crystal and Jimmy J.J. Walker. Sure, you're welcome to borrow, or perhaps I should hold a disaster party.

 

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