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Seas Beneath Review


OK
John Ford directed this early sound film programmer that is short on any kind of plot that makes sense but crackles with high seas action.

In this World War I yarn, unflinching U.S. Navy Captain Bob Kingsley (George O' Brien -- all smugness and self-assurance) is in charge of a "mystery ship" -- a schooner posing as a merchant vessel decked out with an immense cannon hidden in a giant box -- sent out to hunt down notorious German U-Boat 172 and its dashing commander Franz Schiller (John Loder). It's not much of a secret since when they land in a Spanish port riddled with undercover German spies -- including the luscious blonde Anna Maria (Marion Lessing), who takes a liking to Bob but also happens to be Schiller's sister -- Schiller is there with his boat refueling. Nevertheless, Bob and Schiller continue with the gentlemanly art of war and when they run into each other in a cantina they toast each other with Schiller exiting with, "Until our next meeting." Meet they do, in a rousing battle on the open seas, submarines and ships sinking along with the plot.

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Don't Ask Don't Tell Review


OK
It's very, very broad, but then Woody Allen's What's Up, Tiger Lily? was broad, too. The latter title comes to mind because the concept is the same: Comic writers take an existing movie - something bad, and in the public domain - and dub new dialogue onto it. In the case of the new film Don't Ask Don't Tell, the source material is the 1954 B-thriller Killers from Space; in that film, a scientist (Peter Graves) is reanimated by aliens following his death in a plane crash in order that he can aid them in their plans to conquer Earth. Don't Ask Don't Tell uses the same material, mostly, to bring the conflict up-to-date: Graves, following the same crash, is forced by aliens to undergo a procedure that swaps out his sexual orientation. The aliens' goal this time isn't so much to conquer Earth as to turn it more fabulous, if you see what I mean.

I wrote What's Up, Tiger Lily? above, but was it Mystery Science Theater I really wanted? The presence of bobble-eyed aliens in the (apparently incredibly bad) original footage forces the comparison. Did the first director really use ping pong balls for eyes, as the new director (Doug Miles) suggests? The jokes here connect with less frequency than Allen's did, and the humor runs the gamut from pretty good to dinner theater, with the occasional obscure reference thrown in, just as it was MST. (It seemed to me that Hannah Arendt, author of Eichmann in Jerusalem, was mentioned any time I tuned in to MST; in Don't Ask Don't Tell, James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room is brought into the fray, and although I wish to be corrected if I'm wrong, I don't believe that the title is one that comes up every day.)

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