TRUST ME, alphabetically: G—-the gross, the godawful, the guaranteed generally goofy….22 to gag on right below the big shiny G letter thingie
#1 GALAXINA—–doomed Playboy Playmate Dorothy Stratten was murdered by her creep boyfriend (see Star 80 ) shortly before the premiere of this unfunny science-fiction sex farce. That tragic note of waste makes a dismal underscore for what feeble, leering drivel this film is. With Stephen Macht (who later became a chaplain) and Avery Shreiber. Directed by William Sachs, it drones for 95 minutes.
#2 GAMMERA THE INVINCIBLE—-another Japanese monster awakened from slumber by an atomic explosion, this giant, flying, fire-breathing turtle with tusks (I find an odd charm as I write those words) spawned seven more ‘Gamera’ films in native Japan, with the extra ‘n’ added for North America. They also added in footage from the career-fading Brian Donlevy and Albert Dekker. Tokyo suffers the rage of the nap-interrupted beast. Immortal theme song by ‘The Moons’. For camp aficionados. Mystery Science Theater 3000 had fun with it, deeming it unworthy enough for two separate episodes.
#3 GET CRAZY—-a spoofy rock musical-comedy from 1983 that aches. The 92 minutes are frenetic to the point of irritation. Of trivia interest only in that it features the mix of Malcolm McDowell (singing), Lou Reed, Bobby Sherman and Fabian. With Allen Garfield (Goorwitz), Daniel Stern, Ed Begley Jr., Mary Woronov, Paul Bartel, Clint Howard, Dick Miller and Linnea Quigley. No scalping needed, just take my ticket for free. That said, the movie has a certain cult status and its fans seem to find it hilarious. Directed by Allan Arkush, it floundered with a take of $1,645,000.
#4 GET YOURSELF A COLLEGE GIRL—-legendary hustler producer (produceur?) Sam Katzman cribbed together some fresh kids, new-scene rockers and suggestive sex tease and the result was this 1964 tripe, best viewed as a window on how weird it was when the Old met the New, once upon a mattress. Hard put to keep you watching for 87 minutes are Mary Ann Mobley, Chad Everett, Joan O’Brien, Chris Noel, Nancy Sinatra, Willard Waterman, The Dave Clark Five, The Animals, Stan Getz, The Standells, Donnie Brooks. Astrud Gilberto sings “Girl From Ipanema”. Best way to watch this is to sit through the preview clip when it’s on You Tube. Scored around $2,000,000 from the young & curious. Lot’s of wild dancing. Director was Sidney Miller.
#5 THE GHOST IN THE INVISIBLE BIKINI—-7th, weakest and last of the AIP ‘Beach Party’ flix that started in 1963. This tagged out in 1966, barely covering its costs. On the ropes: Tommy Kirk, Deborah Walley, Aron Kincaid, Nancy Sinatra, Claudia Martin (Dean’s daughter), Harvey Lembeck, Jesse White, Francis X. Bushman (one of the last credits of this silent film star, who died later that year), Benny Rubin, Bobbi Shaw, Susan Hart, Piccola Pupa (remember her from The Ed Sullivan Show and The Hollywood Palace ?) and for the desperate hell of it—good sports Boris Karloff, Basil Rathbone, Elsa Lanchester and Patsy Kelly. During the 82 minutes directed by Don Weis one footnote comes when The Bobby Fuller Four appear and sing one song, alas it’s not their classic “I Fought The Law”. (A discomfiting note: Fuller was murdered, in a grisly manner, just three months after this film premiered.)
#6 GHOSTBUSTERS 2—-dead-in-the-vapor sequel to the first quite enjoyable hit. Four years on, with director Ivan Reitman, the magic does not re-ignite at all during an eternal 108 minutes. With Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson (“Can I have something to do, this time?”) , Rick Moranis, Annie Potts, Peter MacNicol, Harris Yulin, Janet Margolin, Brian Doyle Murray, Cheech Marin, Philip Baker Hall. It made $215,300,000 around the globe, proof that the Universe is beyond our understanding. I remember not laughing a single time when I saw it. There was a marketing gimmick attached: over 3000 Hardee’s fast-food outlets offered a ‘kid-meal deal’ package that included a battery-operated plastic toy, “Ghostblaster”. Safety experts deemed it “chokable” and 2,000,000 had to recalled. “Ghostbusters 2, the movie that will have your kids absolutely die laughing.”
#7 THE GIANT GILA MONSTER—-directed by Ray Kellogg. We mention this right off because Kellogg had been a praiseworthy director of visual effects with dozens of impressive credits, and he handled second-unit work on big items such as South Pacific, Cleopatra and Tora! Tora! Tora! Later he shared directorial credit with John Wayne on The Green Berets (nothing to be proud of) and also took the reins of the cheesy-but-effective camp classic The Killer Shrews, shot back-to-back with this in 1959, both produced by Ken Curtis.
Now your humble correspondent was lucky enough to meet Ken a few times because he co-starred with my late brother-in-law (Larry Pennell) on Ripcord. Ken was a wonderful guy, but when I met him (first as kid, later as a teenager) I was more interested that he’d played ‘Capt.Dickinson’ in The Alamo, so I didn’t have presence of mind (or good taste?) to bring up this $138,000-budget whooper, featuring a magnified Mexican Beaded Lizard as the title giant,spending 74 minutes wreaking havoc on toy cars and trains, scaring teenagers. This stars Don Sullivan, Fred Graham, one-time Miss Universe (from France) contestant Lisa Simone and the always good-for-a-chuckle Shug Fisher. Shug co-starred on Ripcord as well, and was a sweet guy, too (and very funny). Oh, the monster here is dispatched by using a hot-rod packed with nitroglycerine—the time-tested Texan tactic to deal with aggressive reptiles. As the ad’s thundered, “Only Hell could breed such an enormous beast. Only God could destroy it!”
#8 THE GIANT OF MARATHON—-Steve Reeves sword & sandal silliness from 1959, of camp value perhaps for its goofiness and noted for being co-directed by two guys with some talent: Jacques Tourneur and Mario Bava. It was a moderate hit, earning $2,735,000, as Reeves was hot stuff from his first two outings as Hercules. With Mylene Demongeot, Sergio Fantoni and Daniela Rocca. That these sort of toga tomatoes could inspire loyalty for their goofiness, manly muscles, heaving bosoms and mayhem I must defer to a quote from a fan writing into the Internet Movie Data Base with the enthusiastic comment “Great underwater carnage!” Indeed. 90 minutes worth.
#9 THE GIANTS OF THESSALY—-three years before the immortal Jason And The Argonauts showed us how to fight a squad of skeletons and drain juice from iron giants by uncorking their ankles there was this 1960 pastiche of Jason stories from Italy, starring Roland Carey, Ziva Rodann (great name) and Massimo Girotti. With dialogue containing such gems as “We’re both like trees which produce a marvelous fruit that no one is allowed to gather” and “Her loveliness is ablaze in me like an open furnace”, you might raise hopes, but it’s pretty much a cheapie. 86 minutes of poor direction (courtesy Ricardo Freda), editing, action.
#10 GIDGET GOES TO ROME—-following Gidget Goes Hawaiian and finishing that which began with the 1959 Sandra Dee hit Gidget, this abandons Deborah Walley from #2 for Cindy Carol, but it brings along teen-mag heartthrob James Darren as’Moondoggie’. He has to contest for Gidg’s (‘can I call you Gidg?’) charms against the Roman suaveness of Cesare Danova. With Don Porter, Jeff Donnell, Jessie Royce Landis and Joby Baker. Rome naturally looks great in color, but I’d pick a number of other movies to gawk at it in. Popular in 1963, it made $2,000,000, enough to ensure the 1965 TV series with Sally Field, which led to The Flying Nun, Burt Reynolds, two Oscars, a speech to live down, that damn Gump moron and eventual redemption as Mrs. Lincoln. Paul Wendkos bore the direction of the 104 minutes.
#11 GIRL HAPPY—-Elvis Presley’s 17th feature and not much to offer, beyond the cuteness of Shelley Fabares, Mary Ann Mobley and Chris Noel, as they pretend to be in Fort Lauderdale while on obvious studio sets. It came in a respectable 25th for 1965, making around $8,600,000, but the lockstep was in and follow-ups later in the year were the even worse Tickle Me and Harum Scarum. The King Was Unhappy, but couldn’t figure a way out of the bind Col. Parker had him in. The Elvi and The Shellstress made a good team–she showed up later in Spinout and Clambake, doing her bit to elevate those loafers. In this one Elvis and band-mates Gary Crosby, Jimmy Hawkins and Jody Baker have to contend with a gangster (a nice one, played by the busy Harold J. Stone) while romancing the femmes. Wake up! Directed by Boris Sagal, it consumes 96 minutes.
#12 GOOD GUYS WEAR BLACK—-more Chuck Norris Acting. This 1978 dreck cost $1,000,000 and made $18,400,000 in the States alone—and you thought there was hope for mankind? With the sad participation of Anne Archer, James Franciscus, Dana Andrews, Lloyd Haynes and Jim Backus. 95 minutes long, directed by Ted Post, it’s the sort of movie that inspires heated online discussions about who did the stunt-kick through the car windshield. I’m not going to tell you.
#13 GRAND THEFT AUTO—-director’s have to start somewhere, and in 1977, 23-year-old Ron Howard gambled he’d learned enough from 21 years in front of the camera (starting at age two with a 1956 bit in something called Frontier Woman–the sort of vital knowledge you wait a lifetime to unearth) to get behind it and call shots. Co- scripting with father Rance, he brought this silly sucker in at fifteen days for $602,000 and beamed that warm smile of his as it took in a cool $15,000,000 around Planet Undiscrimina. Basically, it’s a good-natured 84-minute demolition derby, but I say take the passing lane to Howard’s loftier projects.
#14 GREAT GUNS—-Laurel & Hardy could get smiles out of a turnip, but they’re hard-pressed in this 1941 service-comedy (cue to audience:get ready for World War Two) that suffers from tired blood, and plods next to the snappier Buck Privates, with Abbott & Costello, the new kids on the block, for a new generation. A&Cs rapid-fire wisecracks were more in tune with their time: Stan & Ollie had been knocking out features and shorts since 1927. Speaking of dated, poking a vein of irony that’s more sad than funny, the plot has the boys join the cavalry, which was still a large element of the American army at the time, as the always-behind-it brass apparently hadn’t noticed how Hitler’s tanks had knocked over Poland’s treasured lancers like so many bloody dominoes. Short at 74 minutes, it’s a creaker. Alan Ladd has a bit part. Only 74 minutes long, directed by Montague Banks. There’s a kindly and detailed write-up of this by Tim Cook at the site “La La Film”.
#15 THE GREAT SCOUT AND CATHOUSE THURSDAY—-crass and (worse) unfunny 1976 western comedy wastes an interesting cast. Well, for one thing, when you see that it stars Lee Marvin and Oliver Reed and if you know anything about how much hooch those guys could knock back and how much hell they could raise, it’s a wonder the movie ever finished production. As it was, directed by Don Taylor, it flopped stylistically, critically and commercially. Burned out by a series of flops and his lifestyle, Marvin then took a three-year hiatus. With Robert Culp, Elizabeth Ashley (once again poorly used), Kay Lenz (once again a sex object), Strother Martin (once again foul-mouthed), Sylvia Miles (yikes, never again). 102 minutes.
#16 GREEDY—-blah comedy about a rich old guy whose scheming relatives try to one-up each other to get first in line for his will. Cast do what they can, but it’s tiring. Michael J. Fox, Kirk Douglas (who may be a lot of things but funny isn’t one that comes to mind), Nancy Travis, Olivia d’Abo, Phil Hartman, Ed Begley Jr., Colleen Camp, Bob Balaban, Austin Pendleton and Kevin McCarthy. It dropped a stink-bomb at the tills in 1994 with 113 too-long minutes directed by Jonathan Lynn.
#17 THE GREEK TYCOON—-this had some notoriety attached on release in 1978 because it was obvious to everyone but the unborn that it was about Aristotle Onassis and Jackie Kennedy, though here they are ‘Theo Tomasis’ (Anthony Quinn–who else?) and ‘Liz Cassidy’ (Jacqueline Bisset–go for it), with James Franciscus as JFK (‘James Cassidy’). The public had a salivating interest in movies about the rich, beautiful and
useless powerful for a goodly spell during the previous decade—witness The Carpetbaggers, The V.I.P.’s ,Valley Of The Dolls—but ardor had cooled after years of lavish jet-setting James Bond films that not only took you to places inhabited by the upper crust, but did it at light speed and left you feeling good. This flagrant 107 minutes of claptrap didn’t do well money wise ($14,670,000 against a cost of $6,500,000), and the press tore it up. Director was the once-sharp tack-turned-rusty hack J.Lee Thompson. With Edward Albert, Camilla Sparv, Charles Durning, Luciana Paluzzi, Roland Culver. HER: “You’re an animal! How dare you! You bastard!” HIM: “God, what a woman! Let’s go and make love.”
#18 THE GREEN HORNET—-box office scores are so removed from reality nowadays that it’s oxygen-depriving to report a dud like this making $228,000,000. Miscast actors (star Seth Rogen called the movie a “nightmare”), dud jokes, unexciting action, $120,000,000 expended for two hours of flatlined concept. With Jay Chou, Christoph Waltz, Cameron Diaz, Tom Wilkinson, Edward James Olmos and James Franco. Directed by Michael Gondry, in 2011 it joined ranks with a long list of loud, expensive, cruddy big-screen fiascoes off popular old TV shows: Dark Shadows, Miami Vice, The Mod Squad, The Wild Wild West, The Avengers, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Bewitched, I Spy, The A-Team, Maverick, The Lone Ranger…..
#19 GROWN UPS—-a really bad Adam Sandler movie in an entire separate class of Bad Adam Sandler movies, this is about as happy as crime scene footage. Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade & Rob Schneider join the obnoxious manchild for a kind of Unmagnificent Five. More talented and likable than those smug clods are the gals somehow suckered into playing wives: Maria Bello, Salma Hayek, Maya Rudolph. Also suffering are Steve Buscemi, Joyce Van Patten, Tim Meadows and Colin Quinn. Awful writing, direction (Dennis Dugan) and performing, and yet it skunked an astonishing $271,000,000 in 2010, erasing its mystifying $80,000,000 cost and planting germs for a sequel, which was also a hit. This kind of nothing-passed-as-entertainment chips away at the very will to live. 102 minutes.
#20 GRUMPIER OLD MEN—-not like the first Grumpy Old Men was any great shakes, this is a sad vehicle for old hands Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau and their ever-lovely distaff co-stars Ann-Margret and Sophia Loren. mTedious, sappy, stale, forced. Last film of Burgess Meredith, also employing Daryl Hannah, Kevin Pollak and Ann Morgan Guilbert. The sort of 102-minute time-waster that will turn you into a grumpy old person. The generally capable Howard Deutch directed, but came a cropper this time. At least Sophia’s cleavage can wrest your attention away from the 75-year-old Walter’s jet-black hair. From 1995.
#21 A GUNFIGHT—-gimmick western is a snore. Kirk Douglas and Johnny Cash play two aging gunfighters in financial straits. Despite rather liking each other, they agree to face off in an arena for prize money. Wives fret, crowd gathers, lead is finally exchanged after a lot of meaningful looks. Other than the novel presence of the great songster, it’s a slow stroll to a so-what? payoff. Pretentious. With Jane Alexander, Karen Black, Keith Carradine (22, in his debut), Dana Elcar, Raf Vallone and Robert J. Wilke. Main interest in terms of historical trivia is that the $2,000,000 budget was financed by the 1,800 members of the Jicarilla Apache tribe in New Mexico. Directed by Lamont Johnson, the jawin’ lasts 89 minutes, leaving no mark on 1971 or any time thereafter.
#22 GUNS DON’T ARGUE—seldom recognized is that—at least years ago—after boy-kids went through the Dinosaur Phase, the assorted Davy Crockett/Zorro/Annette Phaseiums, and the Frankenstein/Dracula/Wolfman Epoch there bristled a brief Gangster Apprenticeship, as we began to appreciate the bargaining power of the tommygun and the strange cash-procurement advantage of having a nickname like ‘Baby Face’ or ‘Pretty Boy’. Along with well done shootemup forays such as Portrait Of A Mobster, The Rise And Fall Of Legs Diamond and Al Capone came paste-it-together items like this 1957 affair,which re-edited and glued three episodes of the old TV series Gang Busters. Stolid heroes of the FBI mop the floor with Dillinger, Nelson, Floyd, Barker and associates. No less a hoodwinker than Martin Scorsese expressed admiration for this, but I just remember how cheesy it looked, since the costumes, sets and cars are all from the early 1950s while the events are set in the 1930s (“The audience won’t know–unless they’re paying attention…”). It does feature reliable character actor (usually a heavy) Myron Healey, as well as Jim Davis, Lash LaRue, Paul Dubov and Lyle Talbot. 92 stitched minutes, directed by Bill Karn and Richard C. Kahn.