Weekend Cinema Listomania (Special Danger is My Business Edition)

on December 04, 2009 by Steve Simels


miss mend.jpgVideo Event of the Week: Could Infinity Entertainment's "The Jerry Lewis Show"Collection, a two-disc set of Jerry's 1967-59 tv work, make the cut? Might Overture's Blu-ray edition of Paper Heart, with comedian Charlyne Yi playing a fictionalized version of herself on a tour across America, conceivably get the nod? Or, and I think this highly unlikely, could Warner Home Video's various disc editions of appalling auteur McG's Terminator Salvation, the latest episode in the perhaps too long-running killer robot from the future series, by any chance be The One?

All worthy, to be sure, even (up to a point) that last, but for my money it's got to be Flicker Alley's astonishing new two disc set of Miss Mend, the blockbuster 1926 silent Soviet adventure/detective serial that gave Hollywood a run for its money back in the day.

Unfortunately, my review copy arrived too late to really do it justice, so I'm going to write about the set (which is superb) at some length next week. Which means we'll just jump ahead to the Listomania theme I had planned for the weekend anyway and we'll all have our usual rollicking good time despite the change in schedule.

So -- beause things will doubtless be pretty quiet around here for the next few days, here's a fun and obviously relevant little project for us all:

Best or Worst Screen Undercover Operative -- Hero or Villain, James Bond-ian or Existential!!!

And my totally top of my head Top Five are:

5. Jack E. Leonard in The Fat Spy (Joseph Cates, 1966)


fat spy.jpg


Leonard, the now mostly forgotten 60s insult comic, has a dual role which has something to do with spying on a group of horny teenagers. Or something; I've never really been able to figure the damn thing out.

4. Lucie Mannheim in The Thirty-Nine Steps (Alfred Hitchcock, 1935)

As the mysterious woman who gets poor innocent shlub Robert Donat involved in the espionage plot to end all epsionage plots. "Sounds like a spy story." "That's exactly what it is. Only I prefer the word...agent."

3. Tatsuya Mihashi in What's Up, Tiger Lily? (Woody Allen, 1966)

Re-dubbed from the original Japanese so that he's playing Phil Moscowitz -- amiable zany, loveable rogue and coolest secret agent of the 60s. Even if what's coming out of his mouth is, as Woody says in the film's introduction, something "wholly other."

2. Gene Hackman in The Conversation (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)

As the surveillance expert whose job is slowly rotting his soul. One of the great artifacts of 70s American filmmaking, a Golden Age of inspiration and creative freedom which now seems as remote as the Pleistocene.

And the numero uno Agent Double-O Soul in all of screen history quite obviously has to be ---

1. Kane Richmond in Spy Smasher (William Witney, 1942)

As the costumed anti-Nazi crusader, obviously, in one of Republic's best serials. The incomparable Richmond remains the only actor in movie history who really, really, REALLY looked like he walked out of the pages of a comic book. Seriously -- that profile and that puss simply don't occur in nature.

Alrighty, then -- what would your choices be?


Tags: Charlyne Yi, Paper Heart, The Fat Spy, The Thirty-Nine Steps, What's Up, Tiger Lily?, The Conversation, Spy Smasher

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