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Friday Linkblogging (Mostly Fisticuffs)

By the time you read this, I’ll be under anesthesia, or possibly already home whimpering like a traumatized puppy.

Which is to say, it’s time for another round of dental surgery.

Um... open wide.

Perhaps not quite as scary as the above photo, but plenty bad enough. I’m dreading it. This just seems to be going on and on. I think my dentist isn’t going to be satisfied until I have an entirely bionic jaw.

So this week’s column is a very hit-and-run entry.  Mostly just some internet stuff I found here and there that I thought was worth sharing. I normally wouldn’t do a column of nothing but links but it’s all I have time for, and I hate to miss a Friday. Here’s what I’ve bowled out on YouTube the last week or two.

We’ll start with a fun one I found out about from Dick Cavett, of all people. A clip from Blood on the Sun, starring James Cagney and Sylvia Sidney. The reason this is of interest to us is because this is, I think, the earliest American-made martial arts action movie. Cagney actually was a black belt in judo and helped choreograph the fight scenes.

James Cagney, black-belt badass. Seriously.

It was made in 1945, so it’s a rootin’ tootin’ wartime piece of U.S. propaganda that’s occasionally quite racist, but it’s still a lot of fun. James Cagney is Nick Condon, a tough reporter in pre-war Japan, trying desperately to get the scoop on the Tanaka Document, a blueprint for Japan’s plan for world domination. As luck would have it, Nick’s also a black belt, so there are quite a few scenes of him opening up a can of Oriental whup-ass on Tojo’s minions and other evil secret police types trying to stop him from getting the Tanaka Document into the hands of the Western powers. Check out this clip to see Cagney hand the head of the Japanese secret police a serious beat-down.

And here is the Cavett column that got me interested; it’s worth reading all by itself. Who’d have thought Dick Cavett was as geeky about this sort of thing when he was a kid as I was? (Of course I still am, really, and from the tone of Cavett’s column he still is too.) His pitch was so good that I ended up ordering it for us, for the whopping sum of seventy-five cents plus shipping. And you know what? It really is that much fun, especially for those of you reading this that have an interest in pulp adventure (you know who you are.) The movie’s fallen into public domain so you can find it almost anywhere on DVD for $1.75 or thereabouts.

Speaking of martial arts and exploitation films, here’s a bit from one of my very favorite ones of the 1970′s– the so-bad-it’s-genius Jim Kelly epic, Black Belt Jones.

I should be ashamed of how much I love this movie. Yet somehow I'm not.

Taste the awesome in this clip here.

A little closer to home, this clip is probably the most fondly-remembered of the Bruce Lee fight scenes from The Green Hornet. Unless you count the Batman crossover one where he kicked Burt Ward all over the room.

Speaking of Burt Ward, someone assembled this wonderful montage of Batman fight scenes from the 1966 series, including the very first one from the pilot.

And while we’re on the subject of Batman, here and here are two versions of the Dark Knight trailer that cracked me up.

How about some cool cartoons? Somewhere out in space live The Herculoids. Or check out Frankenstein Jr. vs. The Shocking Electrical Monster. Perhaps you’d enjoy this vintage Space Ghost short, back when he was the galactic Dirty Harry. The first Justice League cartoon I ever saw. The first Teen Titans cartoon I ever saw. The original opening credits for the Hanna-Barbera Fantastic Four. And here are the credits for possibly the greatest adventure cartoon ever: Jonny Quest.

This clip is so deranged I don’t want to spoil it with a description; you really should see it for yourself. But it made me laugh so hard it frightened the cat.

And finally, Adventure House has a whole page of free downloadable pulp-magazine PDFs. I’d especially recommend Charles Beaumont’s wonderful reminiscence, “The Bloody Pulps,” originally published in Playboy and later included in Peter Haining’s terrific anthology The Fantastic Pulps.

That should be enough to keep you folks entertained while I am recuperating. See you next week, bionic jaw and all.

9 Comments

Good luck, Greg. I’ve always felt Philip K. Dick was on to something (as opposed to *on* something, which of course he most certainly was) when he gave his character Palmer Eldritch stainless-steel teeth. Having undergone quite a few dental procedures myself, I’ve long thought that would be a great idea.

That Cagney clip is insane – it’s so much more, I don’t know, visceral than modern fight choreography. The scene has much in common with MMA with punches, takedowns and even a few submission attempts (gotta love when Cagney dives at the downed guy to put him in a choke). Are the other fights in the movie that good, or is that the cream of the crop?

I didn’t even know there was a Batman/Green Hornet crossover. I want to see the cubist Batman and Robin portrait. Dig that crazy show.

Good luck in the chair.

Are the other fights in the movie that good, or is that the cream of the crop?

Oh, that one’s definitely the cream of the crop. But they’re all good. The fights are SHORT, really, from a modern perspective. That’s the main difference.

Thanks for the kind wishes… sadly, my mouth is such a trainwreck that this is going to be going on for a while. Dr. Irene says it’s time to refer me to a specialist, which is depressing. Long journey, tiny steps.

And now I’m going to bed.

” I think my dentist isn’t going to be satisfied until I have an entirely bionic jaw.”

Is anyone else sensing a possible super-hero origin?

FunkyGreenJerusalem

September 21, 2008 at 6:20 pm

Speaking of martial arts and exploitation films, here’s a bit from one of my very favorite ones of the 1970’s– the so-bad-it’s-genius Jim Kelly epic, Black Belt Jones.

Replace ‘so bad’ with ‘so over the top’ and you could be describing the joys of All Star Bat Man and Robin.

Replace ’so bad’ with ’so over the top’ and you could be describing the joys of All Star Bat Man and Robin.

The difference is that I don’t try and sell the idea that it’s done that way on purpose as some sort of brilliant parody. Sometimes bad is just, well, bad.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

September 21, 2008 at 11:07 pm

.
The difference is that I don’t try and sell the idea that it’s done that way on purpose as some sort of brilliant parody. Sometimes bad is just, well, bad.

Have DC?

Or is this just something misguided fans have called it?

I can tell you that DC has pointedly NOT sold the book as a parody.

All the solicits and ads for the book have played it entirely straight.

Or is this just something misguided fans have called it?

I’m thinking of the swarms of fans who show up any time someone dares to suggest the book is crap to yell about how it’s a SATIRE and we just don’t GET IT. In fairness, Funky, you haven’t done that, but none of your defenses of it boil down to anything other than, “I know what it is, but I like it that way.” That doesn’t negate any of the bad things I or anyone else have said about it. It just means you don’t care about them.

Look, it’s one thing to enjoy a crappy piece of work just for fun. It’s quite another to look at it critically and suggest that it’s really a clever, satirical view of crap, which is the defense fans constantly trot out for All-Star Batman. It would be as if I came out and called Black Belt Jones a subtle, subversive parody of then-current blaxploitation trends. That would be ridiculous. Viewed with a critical eye, it’s just dumb. The same goes for All-Star Batman. It’s not “adult” or “mature” and no amount of bleating from fans about its satirical outlook will make it so. It’s still a dumb comic with an arrested-adolescent sensibility.

And as I’ve said, several times, if that’s your thing, fine. But it’s not mine and I think I’ve explained why. I think we’ll just have to agree to disagree, because it seems even more absurd go over it all one more time in a hijacked thread when it was done to death last week.

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