The Doctor is in podcast by Rex Scott · Published August 12, 2021 · Updated August 26, 2021 https://fleming.foundation/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/THE-DOCTER-IS-IN-QA-72921-Export-2.mp3 Bulldog Drummond VS. Indiana Jones!? Rex takes issue with Dr. Fleming's critique. Share Tweet
Good show, gentlemen. Dr Fleming you sound in good voice. Do I take it your recent travails are behind you?
It’s funny to hear the 40 year old Indy movies referred to as modern, but I suppose in one sense film modernism began with the ascent of schlockmeisters like the odious Spielberg. Sorry, Rex. I like Jimmy Page, Eddie van Halen, & Neil Peart, but not Spielberg.
Actually, Spielberg started out okay. His made-for-tv movie “Duel” was pretty good, although it could’ve been condensed to the length of a Twilight Zone. Jaws was, I thought, a pretty entertaining “movie movie,” aided by the presence of vets Roy Scheider & Robert Shaw (“Tiger to Panzer”). But the downhill slide that started with Close Encounters, really cranked up with Raiders of the Lost Ark, appropriately scored by the truly awful John Williams. Perhaps the fault is mine, but from a young age, I’ve thought cinematic fistfights and sword fights—throw in whips too—are two of the most tedious things you could see in a movie. A film might be good in spite of them, but with Indy, that was pretty much all there was. And that’s the other thing. Good action films generally hew close to the formula, for every two action scenes, there should be one reflective scene. In Raiders, it was just one hairball fight scene after another, and precious little reflection. I was 25 at the time, but left the theatre bored, disappointed, & worn out. I never went to another Indy film. The following year, I took a pass on Spielberg’s ET, predicting that it would be the biggest and most overpraised film of the year, and was not surprised to find out my prediction was accurate. Among other things, Spielberg gave us the most annoying children in screen history. I’ve seen no Spielberg movies since then, although I’m wondering if anyone has anything good to say about “Empire of the Sun.” I’m curious about that one because the (I think) talented playwright Tom Stoppard wrote the screenplay.
Speaking of ET, I remember that National Lampoon (I was young back then) did a pretty good parody of ET, at the time. If memory serves, it was premised on a drunken Sammy Davis Jr falling out of a rat pack limousine, barreling through the countryside, and landing in a ditch. Some kids find him and keep him and take care of him. In return, he teaches them to shoot craps, pick up women, and talk like a 60s Vegas hipster. The title of the piece was “SD: The Super Deplorable.” I’d like to find that one again.
I have to say that, before Bulldog Drummond, I had never read or watched a story where a man choked out a gorilla, but I confess I haven’t read all of the Tarzan stories.
I wouldn’t speak in defense of Spielberg (the closer I’ve watched his movies as I got older the more convinced I’ve become that he has some serious and very sick mental problem), but I will say that actual current modern movies make Indiana Jones and the original Star Wars look not all that bad, kind of like how a sharp poke in the eye with a dirty stick is far more preferable than getting fed alive to a pit of rabid hyenas. I can’t think of many popular movies made in the past five years or so (maybe longer) that didn’t have the exact same outrageously stupid story = strong humorless female character with no serious flaws goes on quest/adventure to prove how strong she is and how much better she is than all the men, while all the male characters are either incompetent supporting clowns or evil bad guys easily bested by the woman champion. It usually includes a high percentage of ugly CGI and absurd choreography where a small 115 pound female easily beats up dozens upon dozens of big, burly, but obviously outrageously dumb men.
Not that I actually watch any of these movies, but one can glean more than enough from YouTube reviews and movie trailers. But it all comes full circle – I understand they’ll be making yet another Indiana Jones movie with 80 year old Harrison Ford, and I’m willing to bet dollars against donuts that the plot will show how a sassy but humorless young lady is far smarter and superior to her old man and shows him up at every turn (bonus points if she’s a sexual deviant or a person of color – triple points if both).
I recently rewatched E.T. – part of what I can’t get over is how little actually happens in these movies. After one gets used to watched movies from the 30s, 40s, and 50s, even the cheap movie serials from that era, one can’t help but marvel at how much more story they could pack into the short screen time. I feel like one can sum up E.T.’s “plot” in one or two short, simple sentences. Boy meets friendly alien. Boy helps friendly alien escape government to return to his alien spaceship. There’s nothing that could be considered character development, and the characters do NOTHING that could be considered laudable other than one short scene where they ride their bikes to escape government thugs. Yes, the special effects on E.T. are impressive, even if he is a short, ugly, slimy looking creature he looks believably short, ugly, and slimy (as compared with modern CGI fests), but I’m not sure what else there is other than the special effects.
Just finished a novel featuring Jack Drummond by Jack Higgins (The Iron Tiger). Drummond would not have survived without the help of an Indian Army Officer. Just started my sixth Tony Hillerman novel, The Ghostway.