Nice to see someone else asking about the responsibilities of the regulatory authorities in banking and financial service (cf. my earlier post on the regulators). Though disappointing not see cited John Braithwaite and Peter Grabosky, ‘Of Manners Gentle: Enforcement Strategies of Australian Business Regulatory Agencies’ (Oxford University Press, 1986). In this Australian empirical study the authors found there was neither enforcement nor strategy, but a great deal of ‘she’ll be right,’ while six-figure salaries were paid to the regulators, evidently on the assumption that nothing so untoward as enforcement would occur.

It seems little has changed. In the 1980s I was surprised to witness the hostile reaction to this book. I heard it denounced more than once as evidence that the authors did not understand the Australian way. That was about the same time the media was ridiculing Dutch bankers who had come to Australia to confront and complain about Alan Bond. The flag was raised and the Dutchmen sent packing. Hypocrisy is always amusing. The more so when it is wrapped in nationalism, since many Australians brag that they are not nationalistic, in between bouts of hysterical nationalism frequently kindled by sports.

A propos of the regulators, I infer from what is not said in O’Brien’s piece that the Royal Commission is carefully steering clear of bringing their role(s) into question. Is that discretion itself another instance of manners gentle?

By chance the other night I spoke to a graduate who works for an unnamed regulator and asked about all of this. In reply I got the corporate line about the technicalities of the legislation. My informant pretended to believe it, and politely I pretended to take its seriously. Ah uh. Regulators who find that their legislation is inadequate have, often, a legal responsibility to point that out to parliament, and, always, a moral responsibly to offer some sort of warning. Sailing on is not an option.

O’Brien also omits the role of the media and those financial wizards in newspapers, on radio, and the television telling one and all about money in all its sizes and shapes. It seems that all those financial reporters were too busy pontificating to do any investigating and reporting. The independent ABC and the independent ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ were as silent on this subject as all the other, numerous media outlets, despite their loud and frequent claims to superiority.

Not only are they passed over, but even let off the hook on reporting about the Royal Commission because the Commission publishes on Fridays. Evidently no reporter can be expected to examine material appears on Friday. Must remember that.

Cut and paste this link into a browser to see the article:
http://www.afr.com/business/banking-and-finance/justice-deferred-hubris-incompetence-and-lost-opportunity-in-the-australian-finance-system-and-its-regulation-20180522-h10efl

Internet Movie Data base meta-date is run time 1 hour and 53 minutes, rated 8.0 by 55,708 cinemitizens.

Audrey finds herself the target of three thugs and Cary comes to her rescue. Stanley Donen, a master of musicals, out Hitchcocked Hitchcock in this confection. It is absolutely marvellous and eye candy from the opening credits.

Charade card.jpg

There is zing between Audrey and the twenty-six years older Cary. The villains are downright villainous and the diplomat is so oily that frequent hand washing is required.

The three thugs thinks she has the moolah for which her unloved husband was killed. There are rifts among them but no doubting their individual and collective willingness to do whatever it takes to get the money. In the brew is Cary, seemingly a bystander, but then it turns out he is has been involved all along. He has convinced the trio he is with them, while convincing Audrey he is not. Sometimes when all parties are in the same room. Is this man teflon or what.

All that romance is nice but where is the green stuff? Then the number of villains is reduced. Whoa! Who did that? Is there another party in this party? The fraternity brothers broke into a sweat at this point. Indeed, no one ever raises the obvious questions, who killed hubby? Well, the underused police inspector did but no one else seems to care.

The plot unfolds, and in so doing makes use of everything, including young Jean-Louis and that dental appointment. The pace is effortless. The direction crisp. The delivery of the lines is perfect enough to please any author. And the lines, including Audrey’s last, are gems.

I enjoyed seeing the American Express office in Paris where once I, too, along with Tyrone Power, collected mail. Niggles, I had a few. I bristled at the bland statement that the OSS was G2, Army Intelligence. No so. Nor was I at all sure that slipping 250,000 American dollars into 1944 France made any sense. Nor did the ease of infiltrating the US Embassy in Paris fit the Cold War milieu. The snapshots of the trio in uniform shows them in post war uniforms and haircuts. Hmm.

Hard though it is to believe, it did not win any Oscars. George Kennedy as the crazed Herman deserved one, along with the director. ‘Tom Jones’ and ‘Hud’ dominated the major awards that year. Granted ‘Hud’ had memorable dramatic performances from two veterans Patricia Neal and Melvyn Douglas. But 'Tom Jones' came and went without a trace. Fun while it lasted but it did not last.

It has to be said that Funny Face carries the film, proven when one reviews the still photographs on the IMDb. She does comedy, romance, drama, determination, fear, alarm, conviction, love, all with elegance and grace. Her star eclipsed Cary's in many a scene, so said the fraternity brothers.

Try this. Imagine a remake today with one of Hollywood’s drug addled egomaniac midgets in the lead, wearing a torn tee-shirt with a drippy nose. Audrey could be a self-centred talentless person famous for being famous on the way in and out of rehab. The writer will be a case of arrested development. This combination seems a sure recipe for success. All it needs is a lot of CGI and a soundtrack of train wrecks.

Instead of dirty money the quest can be….a vaccine to cure stupidity in climate deniers. No, that would not sell. Then the quest can be for… a lot of money to pay for making a trashy remake.

I hesitated to write it up, thinking there was nothing left to say, but the idea of remake and a check of Oscar winners for the year overcame that doubt. Moreover a look at some of the linked reviews brought up some truly ridiculous post-modern interpretations, which are beyond mockery, but there was the reek of PhD theses among them. A masochistic reader may wish to have a look.

IMDb meta-data: run time, 1 hour and 7 minutes; rated 5.4 from 1,610 cinemitizens, and released 14 May 1941.

Handsome, Sidekick, and Comic Relief make a forced landing on a Caribbean island en route to Panama from the Bahamas. Thump and bump and the three emerge in the studio conservatory. Comic Relief gets to work, on whom more later.

The trio find a mansion in a jungle clearing and unbidden enter. Whoops! There they encounter the Mad Scientist who has taken a lot of Prozac for the occasion and speaks slowly with eerily correct grammar and a strudel accent. That grammar alerts viewers that MS is not all he seems. It is going to take more than a few hints to alert Handsome. ‘Well MS seems weird,’ admitted the fraternity brothers, ‘what more could he be?’

Check the release date, lads!

King Zomibies card.jpgThe lobby card is wrong on every count. The ritual is from a Masonic Lodge. There is no torture and no human sacrifice.

Prior to crashing the trio picked up a radio message in German. Though the word ‘German’ never passes their lips for reasons to be explained below. After apologising for the intrusion, Sidekick politely asks to use the radio to call for help. MS denies possession of a radio. Hmmm.

His wife joins them for dinner. She has the vacant eyes and slack jaw of a Republican Senator. She speaks not a word, which MS confides is just her way.

By now even the fraternity brothers would have been suspicious, but not these two. We will leave Comic Relief for later. They blithely get into their jammies, which they must have brought along from the plane, and hit the sack. The two of them are in a double bed! Banned in Alabama!

They snooze through much coming and going elsewhere in the mansion as MS gets about his KPIs. He has in the handy dudgeon a US Navy Admiral whom he is torturing for details of the defences of the Panama Canal! Meanwhile upstairs Handsome is getting his beauty sleep.

All the while Comic Relief, played by that one-man band Mantan Moreland with 130 credits on the IMDb, enlivens proceedings with his black racial stereotype, excitable, ignorant, and incoherent. He has learned the word ‘zombie’ below stairs where he was relegated, and he has seen these hollow-eyed slack jawed GOPers with his own eyes. His several reports of these doings below stairs to Handsome and Sidekick are waved off as delirium induced by his skin colour.

The irony, perhaps unintended, in the very watery script is that Comic Relief is factually correct long before the whitebreads realise what is happening. He noses around, asks questions, checks things, and reports to his superiors who dismiss him. If he is dumb what about Handsome and Sidekick? Beyond dumb.

Handsome rises to the occasion when the MS’s comely niece is introduced. Sotto voce she tries to tell Handsome things are crook; he seems not to hear as he studies her form. Subtle. She is trying to free her aunt, the Mrs MS, from the hypnotism she is under. ‘Hypnotism’ is too big a word for Handsome so he goes to the library. Meanwhile, Comic Relief is trying to explain zombies to him. Whew! Handsome was not cut out for graduate school.

‘What is a zombie,’ he asks. It is a good question. The fraternity brothers thought a zombie was dead risen, like Lazarus. But here as in ‘Revolt of the Zombies’ (1936), reviewed elsewhere on this blog, they are hapless folk hypnotised to lose their wills and become the slack-jawed instruments of another like a Republican.

Finally Handsome realises something beside the niece’s form requires his attention. When Comic Relief and Sidekick go missing he stirs.

He stumbles into action, discovers and frees the admiral, which actor gives the only genuine performance in the movie in a brief scene. Comic Relief and Sidekick reappear to help out, as does Niece.

The grammatically correct Mad Scientist was using VooDoo magic to transfer the mind of the admiral with its secrets to his wife, whose mind an earlier effort had blanked. That is the price of scientific progress. Next up was Niece. MS speaks with a Hollywood German accent and claims to been an Austrian refugee. Of course, Handsome buys that.

The VooDoo magic was aided by a face mask that the MS says is an Irish Druid mask. Smooth talker.

At no time is the word ‘German’ used. Why not? Because at the time other films that did were sometimes boycotted by German-Americans before Germany declared war on the United States on 8 December 1941. One instance had earlier bankrupted the Poverty Row studio that put it out. Still less was there a reference to Nazis. But the German on the radio is there to be heard and MS speaks some German to a black untermenschen. But instead of Germany there is a reference to a ‘European power.’ They speak German in Liechtenstein, right?

Sidekick had been clobbered, stashed, and hypnotised but it seems his will is stronger than the black untermenschen and it wears off. Yet when he attacks MS, the bad doctor pulls a gat and shoots him three times at close range. (It is the sort of thing that the fraternity brothers count to earn NRA demerit badges.) He survives without a visible scratch and Handsome says a few days in the hospital will fix him up.

Huh?

Does being partly hypnotised make the subject bullet proof? It did in this screen play. All the whitebreads leave with Comic Relief. No idea what happens to the remaining zombies and MS’s many black servants, retainers, and co-conspirators.

While picking nits, how did the admiral get there? It is said he was lured by a radio beacon. How does that work. Was Circe on the radio?

That it rates 5.4 must be because the Undead are voting for it.

IMDb meta-data is 1 hour and 4 minutes, rated 4.7 by 1013 raters.

The brother of a kindly and diffident small town physician dies and at his funeral are many grim faces. While no one comes forward to stick pins in the body to make sure it is dead, per Herman (George Kennedy) in ‘Charade’ (1963), the relief at the brother’s death is expressed by one rather distraught woman who flings open the church door and delivers a rant that briefly livens up proceedings.

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It is a nice touch to interrupt this conventional and somber scene with a vicious denouncement delivered by a mousey-looking woman.

She proclaims the deceased to be Satan’s spawn. ‘Must have parked in her drive way,’ mused the fraternity brothers, remembering the times those words had been directed at them.

The deceased is the identical twin brother of George Zucco, and George plays a double role. No, there is no flashback, because dead Brother is much in evidence. See title, though note it should be singular, Dead Man Walks, Talks, Nips, Sips, and More.

No sooner is Brother buried, despite the woman’s suggestion that he be burned, than Igor digs him up and opens him up so that Brother can join the Undead. Pedants note: The Undead also include zombies and that is what I was expecting. But no, here we have a vampire, but a second rate one since he has no cape, and -- more importantly-- he is not the singular Bela Lugosi.

The Undead are those who do not return the many books they have checked out from the library and have learned how to become a vampire by correspondence school. Brother graduated at the top of his class. Risen, this Evil Lazarus preys on the locals, well on George’s niece, sipping her blood every night to sustain himself. Though later an excited crowd accuses him of more, there is no indication in film he did anything more than dine at home on his niece.

This incestuous necking makes her intended mad, though why he is so far away at the sipping times is a mystery. He takes out his bile on innocent George. Denouncing woman offers helpful hints from ‘Women's Weekly’ on how to cope with a vampire uncle in the family. After several bouts of sibling rivalry, George accepts the idea that Brother is Undead.

Igor is the weak link in this exercise, as he rumbles around the coffin on a wheel barrow at all hours. Obviously he is a Villain School drop out.

In the end George has to go down mano-à-mano with his evil twin Brother in the flames. Cain and Abel all over again, once more, anew. The end.

Zucco (1886–1960) played suave villains or mad scientists in many B pictures, including Professor James Moriarty. He has 98 credits on the IMDb and half would fall on the shady side of the moral street. But he always made an impression with his presence.

Here is a change of pace and yet not. In one part he is an innocent who slowly comes to realise the truth about his brother, though how he missed it in the first place is open to question, and also the evil brother. He managed to distinguish the two characters in appearance, voice, manner, and gait. Accomplished was this stager who was born in England but started acting in provincial Canada. Close observers will note he lacks two fingers on his right hand, a war wound.

IMDb meta-data is run time of 1 hour and 18 minutes and rated 6.6 from 792 cinemitizens.

This is film noir at its best, simple, direct, dramatic, and basic. Erich von Stroheim is the title character who has vaudeville shooting act (sponsored by the NRA) where he hits everything but Dan Duryea. It has the requisite very femme very fatale in Mary Beth Hughes (seen in some Charlie Chan movies).

flamrion card.jpg

Femme decides to shed Dan and his many empty bottles, and seduces the Frog with the gun. Erich is no pushover since in an unstated backstory a woman ruined his life by taking his monocle. But over he goes, heels over head. Picture that. Dan has been unreliable for some time and Erich gives him notice with a .38 caliber bullet in the act!

Since Dan was stiff with drink, no charges follow. Frog promises all to Femme and she takes it. Scram. It takes Frog some years to figure out he has taken to the cleaners and dumped. He freed her from husband Dan and she freed him from all his dosh. Off she went.

Thereafter Frog dedicates himself to tracking her down for….revenge! He does and he does. The wages of sin are paid in full per the Code.

At one point Femme has four men on the string, and they not playing yo-yo. Whereas A pictures in 1945 were subject to much restraint both external and internal, B pictures like this one were allowed more license regarding sex. B pictures were often screened after the A picture to a dwindling audience.

Moreover, there is some eroticism with the guns in both the action and the dialogue. Why did I think of Charlton Heston stroking that rifle at the NRA convention? That scene is available on You Tube for those who wish to lose any respect they might yet have for Chest Heston.

Regrettably most of this film is told in flashback, and in this case that takes the air out of the drama. No doubt considerations of timing and cost dictated that approach. It means Frog delivers some of his best lines while dying on the floor.* The gossip mill says the Frog resisted the flashback approach to no avail. He always wanted linear stories and that is another reason to like him.

The director was Anthony Mann at the beginning of an illustrious career and he certainly shows his talents for pace, timing, mood, energy, angle, light and dark. Some of the double shots are startlingly even to this jaded viewer. He elevated a common story on a skimpy budget to something more for over an hour despite the draining flashback.

When trawling through You Tube offerings for Sy Fy I came across a thumbnail for this and recognised Erich von Stroheim. He is always must see, so I did. His transformation from Prussian autocrat to love sick puppy is forced by the run time but he carries it off.

Chapeux to Mary Beth Hughes who delivers lines with double and triple meanings with no apparent effort. She does not miss a beat as she turns from one man to another with a lie. How it is that she did not make the A list of stars is a mystery in itself. Fox Studios failed to renew her contract in 1943 and she found her way to Poverty Row with Republic Pictures. In time, she quit and worked as receptionist in a doctor’s office where she said she met a better class of people than in Hollywood. Perhaps she was a #metoo in her day.

DD also gives a fine performance, combining as only he could vulgarity and vulnerability in one line.

*Yes, I thought of William Holden face down in the pool, too. Why not when Billy Wilder’s older brother was credited as producer for this film as W. Lee Wilder. Of course Erich is there with William in that picture, too. It is perhaps thanks to Mann that this Lee Wilder production is miles better than most of the others he turned out, like 'The Snow Creature' (1954) reviewed elsewhere on this blog.

IMDb meta-data 1 hour and 32 minutes of Dali time, rated 3.9 from 4657 time wasters.

A cheap and cheerful exploitation of Star Wars from the heartland of such ersatz imitations, Cinecittà in Rome. This film is often cited at the spoor that released scores of Italian Sy Fy simulacra. It is also often proclaimed as the worst of the derivative spawn it spewed.

Starcrash cover.dms

First the setup, then the tear-down.

Lord Bad’s lines are ‘Kill. Kill. Kill them.’ He knows what he wants and how to communicate it. His aim is to displace Plummy and rule the Ford Galaxy. Lemmy Caution would then not be able to visit Alphaville.

The only things standing between Lord Bad and success are the bikinis of Stella Starr! The fraternity brothers cheered!

Bond Girl struts around as Stella in a fur bikini on the ice planet, a metallic one at a rock concert, a feathery one with the Amazons, and more, sometimes less. David Hasselhoff’s bouffant displaces Marjoe Gortner near the bikini. The fate of the Samsung Galaxy depends on Bond Girl, Bouffant, and a boy with a woman’s name. Only the scriptwriter could save them.

Gortner had been a child evangelist who turned and tried his hand at this. He needed no make up to look alien. In a pinch Gortner has laser eyes so he can do his own cataract surgery. Handy. Nothing is ever forgotten or done only once at Cinecittà and the same gag is used at the end of ‘Escape from Galaxy 3’ (1981), reviewed elsewhere on this blog.

The effects are coloured paper and so are the characters. The dialogue is speech balloons from comic books. Recall Lord Bad’s dialogue as quoted above more or less in its entirety. There is neither science nor fiction though there is energy and zest. Altogether it looks like a failed animated Marvel Comics pilot, it lacks the pathos characteristic of Marvel heroes.

Looking disconsolate, Christopher Plummer, as Lord Good Guy, aka Plummy, after hiring Dr Who as a consultant, stops time. Indeed watching this treacle feels like time has stopped. Gossip is that Plummer signed for three days but finished in one to get it done and get out. He had to rush back to London to throttle his agent.

Then there is the Texas robot who keeps Bond Girl warm on an ice planet by holding her….hand. 

Lord Bad Guy sports a Princess Leia hairstyle when shouting his monosyllables.  With that hair bun it is hard to take him seriously. 

Bad Hair stella.png See.

Disclosure Statement. About half way through I left it running and took the dog out for a turn in the park for thirty minutes. Did I miss anything?

Be warned! It has been released under a variety of titles to lure audiences to the miasma.

IMDb meta-data 1 Hour and 32 minutes of Dali Time, rated 4.7 by 243 relatives of the producer.

In psychedelic 1969 Chicago the world has been taken over by The Monitors who are silent men in long black over coats, black turtle neck sweaters, and black bowler hats who speak slowly and politely. Only if necessary do they spray sleeping gas to quell a disturbance.

Monitors card.jpg

With the advent of the Monitors peace and prosperity reign for one and all around the world. No more storm clouds over Lake Michigan. No more poverty, racism, corruption, war, disease, or reruns on television. In fact the only television broadcasting is testimonials to the benevolent rule of the Monitors.

In this Eden emerge NRA reactionaries who pine for the good old days when murder and mayhem were a constitutional right. They make SNL efforts to undermine the pacific order of the Monitors who in turn infiltrate secret agents into their ranks. These skits would have been rejected for SNL. Then lust or is it love rears up. This surge briefly aroused the fraternity brothers from their habitual lethargy, but not for long.

There is satire here but it is laid on like a load of bricks. Why would anyone revolt against perfection? So asked the Hall Monitor in Chief, and the hero has no answer. I wondered if the Chief Monitor was related to the Honcho Monitor in 'The Island Earth' (1955), reviewed elsewhere on this blog. He has the hair for it.

There are hip Sixties fashions piled high. There are a great many cameos by one and all from ChiTown from Xavier Cugat, Ed Begley, Sherry Jackson, Alan Arkin, to Everett Dirksen. But no Ernie Banks, Gale Sayers, Harold Washington, or Bob Boozer. Indeed this Chicago is all whitebread as are the Monitors.

Also absent are a story, plot, or purpose. The level varies from Sy Fy to slapstick and back. Then it tries for comedy with the finesse of the Three Stooges. Mugging does not comedy make.

Disjointed is the word for it.

The acting is mostly ham from Corporal Randolph Agarn, though the leads Vina and Dean's older brother try. They act like they are in a different movie, and they would certainly want to be. The sets are bare but the cinematography in, around, under, and above Chicago is delightful.

Though the Monitors are all knowing and all powerful they cannot push open a door and retreat when assailed with rotten fruit. Sure. We never learn anything about them. Where did they come from. How did they take over? What is their purpose? Where did they park the flying saucer? Where did they get those hats? What did they do with Fox News? Did it hurt?

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