Saturday, January 17, 2015

How to make a film inappropriately

A couple of days ago I blogged about This Property Is Condemned and how I thought it had a whole bunch of inappropriately intrusive camera movements. Another movie with some real inapt workmanship that really intrudes on the rest fo the movie is Raiders From Beneath the Sea, airing tomorrow at 1:45 PM on FXM Retro.

Ken Scott plays Bill Harper, whom we first see at the beginning of the film dealing with a dissatisfied tenant, who wants the refrigerator fixed. Bill, you see, is managing an apartment building owned by his wife Dottie (Merry Anders). Then we see Bill going into a darkened workshop space, where he starts playing with a powerful industrial-strength magnet that he just bought. That is, until his good for nothing brother Buddy (Garth Benton) shows up.

Bill, you see, is managing that apartment because he had some trouble with the law and the IRS. They're going to garnish his wages, so there are only two ways that he can make money. One is to work more or less under the table, as he's doing managing the apartment building. The other is to engage in straight up crime. And that's whree that magnet is going to come in. Bill's previous job was as a scuba diver, and nobody down at the shore wants to deal with him. This includes his old friend Tucker, another former diver now servicing boat engines because he's got a bad heart. Bill shows up to tell Tucker why he's going to use that magnet. It turns out that Bill wants to rob the bank on Catalina Island the day after Labor Day, when it's about to send all the cash deposits the businesses have made to a bank on the mainland. The only way to get the cash off the island is to put it in a watertight container and then use a magnet to stick that container to the hull of the ferry that takes people between Catalina and the mainland. Yes, it's as daft an idea as it sounds.

This criminal plot is going to suffer from complications of course. One is the mysterious Purdy. Purdy shows up to ask Tucker some questions. It turns out that he's the one who originally came up with the idea for this bank robbery back in jail, and that BIll has stolen the idea from him. There's no honor among thieves, it seems. And then there's Buddy. He wants in on the plot too, and is going to hold that over Bill's head. Buddy has been living with Bill and Dottie, and has been particularly creepy, spending his days drinking beer and trying to peep into Dottie's bedroom window when she's changing! It gets even better in the climax, when he tries to seduce her and when she rebuffs his advances gives the game away about the bank robbery plot! What a dumb criminal. He's not the only dumb criminal, though, because the bank robbery actually involves Bill and Tucker going into the bank in full scuba gear, which means they have to walk though the main town on Catalina Island in that scuba gear, including harpoon guns. Is there any way to make criminals more conspicuous?

And to think when I said there was some inappropriate workmanship in this film, I wasn't talking about the screenplay. In fact, I had the score in mind. Almost the entirety of the score is one of those 1960s-style organs that you would hear in beach movements, or in a short like Stop, Look, and Listen. The music is jarring and nearly maddening every time it comes on. The only good thing to be said for the movie is that it's one of those films that's just so awful that it winds up being unintentionally funny. At least, if the music doesn't drive you nuts.

I don't know that Raiders From Beneath the Sea hsa ever been released to DVD. The suits at Fox probably wonder who would ever buy it.

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