Tuesday, September 26, 2023

The man who shot Charles Bronson

There's a classic line from the western The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance: "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend." I couldn't help but think that Charles Bronson might have had that line in mind when he was making the movie From Noon Till Three.

Bronson plays Graham Dorsey, a member of Buck Bowers' gang robbing banks in the old west. Graham has a premonition, however, that the next robbery isn't going to go well. Indeed, on the way to the next town Dorsey's horse breaks a leg forcing him to shoot it and forcing the gang to look for a new horse. They stop at the ranch of the wido Starbuck (Jill Ireland, who of course was Charles Bronson's wife in real life) who, amazingly enough, claims not to have a horse.

Dorsey decides to believe this, if only to get the other members of the gang off of him. This is both so that he doesn't have to go in on that robbery and so that he can have some time with Starbuck. Plus, he can claim to the other members of the gang to be holding her hostage so that she doesn't run off to the authorities. She's rather chaste now that her husband has died, and she's not so forthcoming about her past. Dorsey goes along with the ruse, eventually having a brief but passionate affair with the widow Starbuck while he's waiting for the rest of the gang to return.

Of course, they're never going to return, since the robbery goes bad and they get caught, with vigilante justice scheduling them to be hanged that very afternoon. Dorsey is actually OK with this, but Starbuck has romantic notions about Dorsey being loyal to his gang and trying to save them and she might just not love them if he doesn't go into town to free them. Dorsey eventually agrees, but this is another ruse: he intends to go off to the middle of nowhere and wait for the hanging to pass, with the plan to tell Starbuck that he was unsuccessful in freeing the rest of his gang. What a convenient solution.

Except things don't go that way. Dorsey comes across a posse, who must have been told about him by Bowers, so now he's going to have to try to escape. He's fortunate enough to run into one of those itinerant quack dentists, and forces the dentist at gunpoint to switch outfits with him. The posse then shoots the dentist, leaving Dorsey to ride free in the dentist's wagon and return to Starbuck.

However, when Dorsey asks for directions, the people recognize the wagon and bad suit, so have Dorsey arrested and ultimately sentenced to a year in prison for medical malpractice. Starbuck, meanwhile, has had to confront the townsfolk. She tells them such a fantastic story about those three hours that everybody is overcome with emotion and Starbuck becomes a national celebrity, telling her tragic story that's utterly made up in an early version of an "as told to" book that becomes a bestseller.

Dorsey gets out of prison and has the bright idea of returning to Starbuck, who will be thrilled to find that Dorsey is in fact still alive. Except that she's not thrilled. She's made money off that legend, and she's got ideas about what she wants Dorsey to be, not what Dorsey actually is. She's gone and printed the legend, and now she actually believes the legend. What's a man like Dorsey to do?

I really liked the second act of From Noon Till Three, as it took the basic idea behind The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and twisted it inside out, taking it in all sorts of odd directions that mostly work. It certainly helps that Bronson and Ireland, being married in real life, play off each other very well. The one problem with the movie, however, is how long it takes for the story to get to the fun, quirky second act. The payoff is quite good, but you certainly have to wait a while to get to the payoff. Liberty Valance solved the problem by having the story told in flashback, while that probably wouldn't work so well here because of the changes wrought in Bronson's character by becoming a legend.

Still, I would say that the payoff is worth the wait. And people who like 1970s westerns are probably going to have a lot less of a problem with the first half than I did. So From Noon Till Three is absolutely worth watching.

Monday, September 25, 2023

The Password Is Courage

I mentioned at the beginning of the month that the Dirk Bogarde film The Password Is Courage was getting two airings in September: one as part of the Bogarde tribute, and a second as part of a night of World War II prison break movies. That second airing is overnight tonight at 3:15 AM (or early tomorrow in all of the continental US).

Loosely based on a real-life person, that person is Sgt. Maj. Charles Coward (obviously, played by Bogarde). Coward had been captured by the Germans while the British were trying to get their troops out of France before Dunkirk in the spring of 1940, and with a bunch of other soldiers sent to one or another of the POW camps that the Nazis had set up. Of course, like all good officers, Coward has a duty to try to escape, and his first escape is in France, where, at least in the movie, he's mistaken for a German officer and awarded the Iron Cross!

For this, Coward gets sent to Stalag VIII-B, a POW camp in what is now southern Poland, although at the time it was the very eastern portions of Germany. Coward continues his escape attempts, bribing Nazi guards for the materials necessary to build a giant tunnel out of the camp and on to the Czech protectorate, and hopefully to freedom somewhere. The POWs are used to do work details, and this along with more bribes enables Coward to get out and go to the nearby village, where he meets up with optometrist Irena (Maria Perschy), who is a member of the Underground. In the movie, Coward and Irena fall in love, although this is one of the many things in the movie that did not happen in real life.

Eventually, it comes time for the escape, although one of the things making it more difficult is the fact that most of the prisoners speak no German. At least some of them speak languages of one or another Nazi-occupied country, especially French, which enables them to fake work permits claiming these folks are from France. But not being able to speak German is still a real problem, especially for Coward. And not that any of the men in the POW camp could have known it, but their escape was planned for a date only a few months before the camps were liberated.

To be honest, there's not all that much to the plot of The Password is Courage; it could easily be summed up as "soldiers get captured and constantly try to break out of POW camp". That having been said, for the genre it's pretty well done. If it's not well known today, that I think is down to the fact that it was made by MGM's British unit with Dirk Bogarde being the only really well known name, and even he wasn't that big a star here in the States. And with a looming trend toward bigger war movies with action and color photography, it's no wonder The Password Is Courage fell by the wayside.

It also doesn't help to look up Charles Coward, as doing so turns the movie from a well-made example of a genre into something formulaic that ignore's a much more interesting true story. The work camp where Coward was sent was not far from Auschwitz, and the real-life Coward spoke German, which made him useful as a liaison between the German authorities and the soldiers and Red Cross. Coward got himself smuggled into Auschwitz, and used the papers and effects of dead soldiers and laborers to smuggle Jews out of Auschwitz. That, rather than a straightforward attempted escape story, seems like it would be for more worthy of a movie, although I suppose in the early 1960s that wouldn't have been considered commercial enough.

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Warren Oates does comedy!

Another of the movies that I hadn't even heard of before until TCM played it a few months back is The Thief Who Came to Dinner. Once again, it was another of those movies that sounded interesting, so I decided to record it and watch it to do a review on here.

Ryan O'Neal is the star, playing Webster McGee. He's a college graduate, working with computers at a company in Houston in the early mainframe era when everything had banks and banks of reel-to-reel tape drives. However, it's not a very fulfilling life and has led to him getting divorced by his wife Jackie (a young Jill Clayburgh who shows up briefly later in the movie). Webster quits his job to look for something more fulfilling, picking...

Upscale jewel heists. He goes and cases a joint posing as somebody from the water company when only the servants are home, and when he returns late at night he robs the safe. However, he doesn't get all that much in the way of traditional value; instead, he finds a bunch of documents. He's no dummy, and realizes that these documents hold valuable information that would get the guy he stole them from, Henderling (Charles Cioffi) into serious legal trouble. Selling them back to Henderling could give Webster a ton of money.

But that's not quite what he wants, having gotten the jewel heist bug. Henderling being rich knows all the other rich people in Houston's high society, and Webster wants to meet them so that he can case their joints as well and steal their jewels. It's through this that Webster meets Laura Keaton (Jacqueline Bisset). Laura had parents who were house-rich but cash-poor; they've died and left her the house. Instead of selling it, however, she lives there in more or less one room presumably wanting to keep being a part of the higher society. She likes Webster's idea of stealing the rich people's jewels, so she's willing to be an accomplice.

Meanwhile, Webster has made his shtick of a calling card be to write down chess moves, as one of the early robberies was in a room with an ornate chess set. The authorities think he might be a good chess player, and enlist the help of the local newspaper's chess columnist, Zukovsky (Austin Pendleton), to try to figure out Webster's next move. Zukovsky challenges Webster to a correspondence match and Webster, not exactly being good at chess, hacks into a computer to get it to give him good moves (even though it would be close to 20 years before computers would finally be able to take on people of Zukovsky's caliber).

As for Warren Oates, he plays Dave Reilly, an insurance adjuster for Texas Mutual, which insures the jewels of several of the people who were robbed by Webster. They don't want to pay out, of course, so they have an incentive to find Webster and possibly not even press charges in exchange for buying back the jewels at a major discount. He even more than Zukovsky winds up as Webster's comic foil since Dave is smart enough to recognize it's Webster doing the heists.

As I was watching the opening credits, I noticed that The Thief Who Came to Dinner was another Bud Yorkin-Norman Lear production. As with all of the other of their movies that I've seen, there's a lot of potential in the plot, but it unfortunately winds up a bit short of reaching that potential. In this case, I think a lot of that has to do with the chess subplot, as Austin Pendleton seems like he's trying just too hard to be funny (and Eastern European immigrant). It doesn't quite work. Oates, on the other hand, shows he's surprisingly good in the role of something other than a western heavy. Oates died much too young. O'Neal and Bisset also make an appealing enough couple, although both of them later suggested this wasn't their best work.

Despite the flaws, The Thief Who Came to Dinner is an eminently watchable movie.

Saturday, September 23, 2023


In the early days of the movies, it was really expensive to go to exotic locations to film stories, even if the movie-going audiences wanted the escapism of stories in faraway places. So we get a few establishing shots and a lot of either backlot stuff or California locations being asked to double for someplace else in the world. Such is the case with the pre-Code movie Mandalay.

Mandalay is the second-largest city in Burma, which at the time the movie was made was under British colonial rule. It was also the former royal capital, while the British moved the capital to Rangoon (now Yangon) much closer to the coast along the Irawaddy River that flows between the two cities. So almost all of the action in the movie takes place in either Rangoon or on the river. Tony Evans (Ricardo Cortez) has been plying his trade along the river, returning to Rangoon where he has a girlfriend in Tanya (Kay Francis) who fled the Russian Revolution.

But Tony is more or less persona non grata with the British authorities, so he has to beat a hasty escape, leaving Tanya alone in Rangoon and having to work at a nightclub run by Nick (Warner Oland) that seems to serve everybody in much the same way that Rick's café did in Casablanca. The authorities have their eye on the place and even more so on Tanya, eventually deciding that she should be deported because she's a cause for trouble and not British.

Tanya beats the authorities to the punch, getting a fake identity and getting on a boat going upstream to Mandalay. On that boat, she meets Dr. Burton (Lyle Talbot), who's got problems of his own, committing some sort of medical malpractice that he feels compelled to punish himself for, in this case by going upstream into the hinterlands of Burma where there's a disease outbreak and as with The Painted Veil. The two of them eventually begin to fall in love.

But of course Tony is going to show up again, and wouldn't you know that he wants Tanya back. The authorities are still after him, so he comes up with a devious scheme. Tanya has some medicine that's for external use only, and Tony decides to make it look like he's taken some of it internally which would kill him; then he goes and hides in the hold of the ship. Of course, this also makes it look like Tanya may have killed him, leaving her open to a murder rap.

As I said at the beginning, I think that viewers 90 years ago liked exotic locations since the world was much less accessible then. But the story in Mandalay isn't that much, and could have been set pretty much anywhere. It's not bad, but it feels like the sort of thing that's not overly original and that one's seen before if one watches a lot of 1930s films.

Having said that, Francis and Cortez put the slight material over and make Mandalay a movie that's worth watching even if it's not great. Worth a watch if you can find it.

Friday, September 22, 2023

Nicholas Ray's dud

A lot of professional movie critic and film historian types like to praise a director like Nicholas Ray for being a bit of a maverick and doing things that challenged Hollywood and American middle-class society, as in movies like Rebel Without a Cause and Bigger than Life. But even directors like Ray weren't immune from making absolute duds, as you can see if you watch a movie like Hot Blood.

Luther Adler plays Marco Torino, the head of a branch of Roma or Gypsies (the word used since in the 1950s mainstream society would never have used the word "Roma") that emigrated to the US a couple of generations ago but is still trying to keep the cultural norms they had back in Europe. Marco is getting old and has the feeling that he may be dying, so it's time to find a new chief, meaning his kid brother Stephano (Cornel Wilde). And with a new king there's a need for a new king. Stephano kind of likes Velma (Helen Westcott), but there are political implications of the same sort that would have faced the traditional royalty of Europe in centuries past.

In steps the Caldash family, Dad Theodore (Joseph Calleia) has a daughter of marriageable age, Annie (Jane Russell). But what Marco doesn't know is that Theodore is a bit of a con artist. He's been going around the US offering his daughter's hand in marriage, only to faint during the ceremony at some point after the dowry has been paid but before the marriage is official, allowing him to flee the jurisdiction with the money and take the shtick to another city. Their plan is to trick Marco out of a couple thousand dollars, which was a fairly tidy sum in the mid-1950s.

What Theodore doesn't know is that Annie has plans of her own. She tells Stephano about the ruse, figuring this will make him go along with the wedding since he doesn't really want to marry her. But she decides to go through with the wedding for real, never fainting during the ceremony. Stephano is none too happy about having been tricked.

Annie, however, is willing to be married for real and wants Stephano to reciprocate, and when he still doesn't, there's a whole lot of bickering between the two that results in Annie threatening to divorce Stephano in front of the entire Gypsy council. Will the two live happily ever after? Is Marco dying at all?

Hot Blood feels like the sort of movie that could have come from a novel that was really set in the old country and had the action moved to modern-day America for no good reason, resulting in a script that seems utterly unrealistic, even more than something like The Rose Tattoo. It also doesn't help that Russell and Wilde are both badly miscast as Gypsies. Beyond that, I can't figure out what everybody was thinking making this movie.

Hot Blood is currently available on TubiTV and, since it was released on Columbia, may show up on The Roku Channel's Cinevault Classics that seems to be the service with all the old Columbia movies. But The Roku Channel doesn't release schedules in advance, so you'd have to stumble onto this one through pure dumb luck (or dumb bad luck).

Thursday, September 21, 2023


A couple weeks back, I mentioned a movie that TCM ran during Anthony Perkins' day in Summer Under the Stars. Another movie they ran is one in which he had a rather smaller part, Winter Kills.

The star here is Jeff Bridges, who plays Nick Kegan. Nick is doing some sort of work on a ship someplace not too far from Southeast Asia, in oil exploration or some other sort of research. He came from powerful stock, however; his half-brother was president of the United States, at least until he was killed by a sniper close to 20 years ago. Dad (John Huston) is the patriarch of the family, having created the family business.

One of Dad's business associates, Keifetz (Richard Boone), helicopters on board the ship to tell Nick that he's got a guest, a seriously injured man claiming to know something about the brother's assassination. Unfortunately, this man can only get part of what he knows out before he dies. But it's enough to send Nick on a possible wild goose chase back to the States to try to prove that there's more going on. Specifically, that involves a second gun which has allegedly been hidden in the same location for the 20 years since the shooting, in a building, which seems to me like utter bullshit. If it had been buried on somebody's land, especially in a rural area, that might be one thing. But between floors of a highly-trafficked commercial building? And wouldn't they dismantle the murder weapon for parts?

I suppose you could say that the conspirators wanted Nick to find this weapon that wasn't really involved in the shooting, leading him to go on a wild goose chase. But Nick and friends do find the weapon, only to have it stolen right from under their noses and Nick's two friends killed. Nick wants to go to his father for help, not suspecting that perhaps Dad might be involved in everything that's going on.

If any of this sounds familiar to you, it's because it doesn't take much of a leap to compare this to all the conspiracy theory nonsense surrounding the shooting of John F. Kennedy. But while the movie starts off as though it's going to be a political thriller (it's based on a book by Richard Condon, who also gave us The Manchurian Candidate), it eventually morphs into an extremely dark comedy with a plethora of stars. Anothony Perkins plays the executive behind the Kagan family empire. Dorothy Malone is Nick's mom, while Sterling Hayden is one of Pa Kagen's political and business rivals. Eli Wallach gets the Jack Ruby role, and so on.

My first thought was that whether you like Winter Kills or not is likely to depend on your view of the Kennedy era. If you're one of those boomer types who was around for the Kennedy assassination, as the critics who wrote the original reviews on first release were, you're probably going to love this movie.

I, on the other hand, have never bought into the Camelot bullshit, and instead see the Kennedys as little more than the Kardashians of the 1960s who gained political power. So I found the material here too obvious by half, and turgidly unfunny. Maybe when the last of the boomers die off we can finally stop comparing stuff to the 60s.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Trieste Express

One of the movies that kept showing up on the list of recommendations Tubi was giving me is a British film I hadn't heard of but that sounded interesting enough: Sleeping Car to Trieste. It turns out there's a reason it sounded interesting.

The movie starts off in Paris, at the embassy of an unnamed country. A mysterious figure breaks into a safe there during an official function, but that man, Zurta (Albert Lieven), is spotted, and has to kill the servant who spots him. Zurta and his partner Valya (Jean Kent) flee with the diary they've taken, and hand it off to another man, Poole; the three are apparently supposed to meet again someplace else to return the diary, which we can guess contains some sort of secrets like the ones Albert Basserman held in his head in Foreign Correspondent.

But Poole decides that holding on to the diary is worth more than the payoff he's supposed to get from Zurta and Valya, and that he could play various countries off one another. To that end, he boards what would have been the Orient Express in the days before World War II, although after the war it was rather less glamorous. The route the train took in those days went through Trieste, a city that's now part of Italy but for several years after World War II was part of a nominally independent city-state region called Istria. Indeed, I've mentioned this before in conjunction with the movie Diplomatic Courier which is set in Trieste. As a city-state and with its location, it was more or less open to people from every side of the international intrigue game and thus a natural location to fence that diary.

Zurta and Valya figure out that Poole has taken the Orient Express, where Poole is looking for a place to avoid being detected by either Zurta and Valya on the one hand, and the authorities on the other. The train has a plethora of passengers, although they're mostly not quite as glamorous or full of intrigue as other deptictions of the Orient Express. There's MacBain (Finlay Currie), a Scottish writer going to deliver a lecture who is extremely overbearing and treats his assistant like dirt; a couple on a romantic tryst who are married to other people; a friend of the man in that tryst; a bird-watcher who won't shut up; and so on. Murders happen in an attempt to find that diary, and it's up to the French police to find the murderer.

The reason all of this seems vaguely familiar is that Sleping Car to Trieste is a remake of an earlier and also relatively unknown British movie that I blogged about a few years back, Rome Express. Both of them are entertaining enough but also of a type where it's easy to forget the details of exactly what happened such that watching it again is worthwhile. I'd have to watch Rome Express again to decide which of the two versions I like more, but in any case both of them are worth a watch or three.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

The Steel Fist

Another completely new-to-me movie that showed up on TCM not too long ago was The Steel Fist. It was another movie with an interesting-sounding plot, so I recorded it in order to be able to watch it.

Roddy McDowall is the star here, and frankly the closest thing to a big name in the cast. He plays Eric Kardin, a university student in an unnamed Eastern European country in the early days of Communism not too long after the Soviet Union installed all those Communist governments following the war. In order to keep agricultural production up, collectivization having been a massive disaster, the authorities more or less "voluntold" groups of people like university students to go help with the harvest. Eric is having none of this, and leads a protest. The protest turns violent, and the authorities vow to catch whoever started it.

Eric has gone running home to his uncle, who is appalled to hear about how his nephew started the protest. Not because uncle is a communist who doesn't want anybody to protest, but because Eric was so impetuous in his protest that it's going to bring trouble on the uncle as well as the nephew, and the uncle is prominent enough in the underground resistance that he's got to be careful about what he does. So Eric is going to have to get himself out of the country, and as soon as possible.

Fortunately, Uncle knows people who know people, and knows how the underground smuggles people out of the country. Eric is instructed to engage in a parody of a bad spy movie by going down to the train station, buying a particular magazine, and dropping it, all at precise times, whereupon he'll get his next set of equally wacky instructions, and so on.

Eventually, Eric winds up getting off the train just at the last stop. On the way, he met Georg (Rand Brooks), a captain in the border patrol, and his girlfriend Marlina (Kristine Miller), nobody knowing until later in the movie that Marlina is actually one of the underground who shows people the way over the mountains that look suspiciously like southern California instead of central Europe. Marlina lives with her brother where the two of them play at being peasants. Unfortunately, word of the student protest has reached the border areas, so the border patrol is increasing its patrols, making escape that much more difficult.

The Steel Fist isn't exactly a great movie, but it's also not a terrible movie. It was made at Monogram, which gives it a look of a cheaply-made production that would probably have been more suitable for some made-for-TV production if it weren't for the fact that this sort of material wasn't quite yet being done straight for TV. It's a lot closer to TV movie of the week material, and I think most of that was being done live and with more highbrow scripts.

But, The Steel Fist runs only a little over an hour, so if you don't like it it's not as if you've wasted a bunch of your time.

Monday, September 18, 2023

I've Got Your Number

In the latest installment of movies I've got in my Youtube TV library that happen to be coming up again soon on TCM, I noticed a breezy little movie called I've Got Your Number. It's going to be on again tomorrow (Sept. 19) at 11:30 AM, so I made a point of watching it to be able to do a review here to give you all a chance to watch it too.

Joan Blondell is nominally the star here as she gets top billing, but the real star of the proceedings is Pat O'Brien. He plays Terry, a linemen for the phone company. He's good at what he does, as we see when he goes up on the roof of a building to cut some wires in order to prevent more serious problems in the building next door that's on fire. In that incident, Terry saves the life of Schulyer (Henry O'Neill), a wealthy broker in stocks and bonds. But Terry also grates on his boss Mr. Flood (Eugene Pallette) by doing things that bring in customer complaints, especially from the female customers.

Joan Blondell plays Marie, who is a switchboard operator at an apartment hotel. Nicky (Gordon Westcott) shows an interest in her, and gets her to play what she thinks is a practical joke by switching a call intended for someone else to him. That call is in fact the result of a horse race that earns Nicky a ton of money instead of the legitimate target of the call. The hotel manager calls the phone company to check whether the lines could have been tapped, and Flood sends Terry and his partner John (Allen Jenkins).

Terry wastes no time in putting the moves on Marie, basically harassing her until she gives in and agrees to go on a date with him. In some ways, it's a bit fortuitous, since Terry has connections with the phone company that could get her a job as an operator for them, or, if that falls through, calling in a favor from Schuyler. So at least Marie will have a job working for Schuyler. Except that she spills the beans about some bonds to Nicky, who is able to come up with a scheme to get those bonds off of Schulyer. Marie is arrested, and it's up to Terry to try to exonerate Marie, with a little help from his lineman skills.

I've Got Your Number is exactly the sort of programmer-length rapid-fire film that was perfect for the lower half of a bill back in the early 1930s. The plot goes from one point to the next extremely quickly and doesn't always quite make sense, although it never stops entertaining. Warner Bros. also threw in several of its supporting stars, notably a scene with Glenda Farrell as a phony psychic and Louise Beavers as her assistant phoning things in from another room. Ninety years on, of course, people will look at Pat O'Brien's character and be a bit horrified, because he really is nasty in the way he goes after women. As an example, he knocks over Marie's dining table, destroying her dinner and a good portion of her dishes, just so she'll go out for dinner with him.

Still, I've Got Your Number is a fun enough ride for fans of movies from the early 1930s.

Sunday, September 17, 2023

The Apple

Back in December 2021 I reviewed the highly entertaining documentary Electric Boogaloo, about Israeli director-producer Menahem Golan, his cousin Yoran Globus, and their attempt to break into Hollywood that eventually saw them running Cannon Films in the 1980s. One of the things said about Golan in that movie is that he probably sincerely wanted to make good movies, but his lack of Americans' cultural tastes meant that almost everything he did wound up being slightly off. I couldn't help but think about that comment as I was watching one the earliest films he was involved in (this time as director), The Apple.

The movie was released in 1980, but set in the future of... 1994, which is already a sign that there's a good chance the movie is going to be a spectacular mess. The movie opens up at something called the Worldvision Song Contest, an obvious rip-off of Eurovision that sees some formulaic rock band performing a forgettable number that has the audience in a tizzy. That's because the group is managed by BIM, or Boogalow International Music, run by Mr. Boogalow (Vladek Sheybal) and his assistant Shake (Ray Shell in a bizarrely campy portrayal). Next up is a Canadian duo doing something that's totally out of place for a world in which rock and disco merged and remained popular: a love balled. The audience loves it at first, but Boogalow rigs the contest so that the duo, Alphie (George Gilmour) and Bibi (Catherine Mary Stewart), lose the contest.

Boogalow is no dummy however, since he's been successful enough that BIM pretty much runs the rest of the world, this being one of those dystopias in which we're all governed by corporation. (To be fair, Pfizer and Moderna nearly got their way in trying to subject us to a world with mandatory vaccinations designed solely to boost their bottom lines, and half the population was actively rooting for this.) So Boogalow offers Alphie and Bibi a contract! The thinking is that then he'll be able to control Alphie and Bibi and turn their talents toward BIM's propagandistic ends.

Alphie realizes this probably isn't a good thing, particularly considering the amount of pressure BIM is putting on them to sign the contract right now. Alphie has thoughts (or perhaps hallucinations) of this being like a Brodway musical verion of selling one's soul to the devil, complete with a Busby Berkeley-like musical number. Bibi only sees dollar signs, and signs the contract, separating the two.

Bibi becomes a cookie-cutter star in much the same way Korean entertainment companies have churned out one overproduced K-crap group after another like BTS, while Alphie is forced to roam the wilderness like Moses (apparently, a deleted production number made the biblical genesis of the story more explicit), while trying to stay out of trouble with the authorities, who by now have started to do things like mandatory BIM aerobics and forcing everyone to wear the mark of BIM. Alphie has to go back to the BIM underworld to try to rescue Bibi, with the two winding up in a hippie colony that's persecuted even more than anyone thinks 1960s hippies might have been. Along the way, there's a series of spectacularly overdone musical numbers.

Pretty much everybody who writes non-professional reviews of The Apple talks about how unbelievably bad it is, but at the same time how entertaining it is because of how every bit of the movie goes so totally wrong in a way Menahem Golan had no idea was going to happen. The musical numbers are an energetic hoot even if the songs are terrible. The acting is mostly bad or at best over the top, and the plot is a mess even if you can see the way this is a basic good versus evil story. Worst, they didn't know how to end the movie so just have a literal deus ex machina to end things!

And yet, I would highly recommend finding a copy of The Apple and watching it. Like everybody else, I agree that the fact it's such a spectacular disaster is what makes it so incredibly entertaining.