Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Back when Columbia wasn't afraid to offend foreign dictators: You Nazty Spy!

Months before Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator reached theaters, The Three Stooges took their own potshots at the posturings of Adolf Hitler in their 1940 short You Nazty Spy! Just how ballsy was this movie in its time? To quote Wikipedia:

The film satirized the Nazis and the Third Reich and helped publicize the Nazi threat in a period when the United States was still neutral about World War II, and isolationist sentiment was prevalent among the public. During this period, isolationist senators such as Burton Wheeler and Gerald Nye objected to Hollywood films on grounds that they were anti-Nazi propaganda vehicles designed to mobilize the American public for war. According to the Internet Movie Database, You Nazty Spy! was the first Hollywood film to spoof Hitler...

The Hays Code discouraged or prohibited many types of political and satirical messages in films, requiring that the history and prominent people of other countries must be portrayed "fairly" [but] short subjects may have been subject to less attention than feature films.

BTW: Both Moe Howard and Larry Fine reportedly cited You Nazty Spy! as their favorite Three Stooges short. No kidding.

Mitt Romney stands up for The Interview. No, really.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Guess the North Koreans didn't see the Red Dawn remake

In the wake of the (alleged) North Korean hacking of Sony Pictures -- a crime (allegedly) triggered by a fictional assassination attempt on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Sony's upcoming The Interview -- one thing seems certain: The folks who made and released the Red Dawn remake must be very, very happy right now that their film flew so low under the radar.

As I noted in Variety when reviewing the remake at Fantastic Fest in 2012:

China was depicted as the aggressor when this Red Dawn was shot in 2009. But after MGM, its original distributor, declared bankruptcy, the producers opted to make the pic more appealing to other distribs (particularly those wary of offending Chinese government officials) by re-filming scenes, relooping dialogue and digitally altering flags and military insignia to transform the bad guys into war-mongering North Koreans.

Thank goodness the North Koreans didn't know about that. At least, I think they didn't know about it. I mean, the fact that the remake premiered in Austin... that wouldn't have anything to do with Austin being on North Korea's must-nuke list, would it?

BTW: I guess the North Koreans didn't see Olympus Has Fallen, either.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

My dream comes true in the Kingsman trailer

For years -- decades, really -- I've thought one of the extended "nah-nah-nah-nah" riffs in Deep Purple's cover of "Hush" (a '60s hit originally recorded by Billy Joe Royal) would work terrifically well on the soundtrack of some kick-ass action flick. Particularly in a scene where there's a great deal of, well, ass-kicking.

Lo and behold, my wish finally has been fulfilled -- sort of -- in the new trailer for Kingsman: The Secret Service. Mind you, they didn't use the Deep Purple version of "Hush" -- instead, they chose Kula Shaker's take, which ain't chopped liver -- but the "nah-nah-nah-nah" stuff works just as well as I've always thought it would. I don't know if this musical selection was approved by the film's director, Matthew Vaughn. But it should be noted that one of the guy's previous credits is.... wait for it... Kick-Ass.

By the way, when I went looking for a video clip of Deep Purple performing "Hush," I found this 24-karat oddity, shot on location at the Playboy Mansion.