Sunday, September 30, 2012

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (2010) - Creepy!

This film debuted on November 19, 2010.  It quickly became one of the highest grossing films of all time, and the top film of 2011 by a wide margin.  It has grossed way over a billion dollars worldwide, which is a lot of money.  Kids love it, and the actors are growing up quickly, so they can give a few adult nuances now and then as well.

So, this is big business.  Nothing too controversial at this point, the series has had plenty of time to smooth over the rough edges.

Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), in my opinion, is starting to take on a "Dr. Who" vibe (I realize you probably violently disagree) and Emma Watson ("Hermione") is developing a few curves that indicate womanhood is not far off.

Early in the series, of course, the two had a confrontational relationship.  As the series has progressed, they have become more partners, consoling each other and so forth.  Nothing wrong with that, just another sign that everybody is growing up.

Rupert Grinty ("Ron Weasley") is the odd man out.  If this were a TV series, he probably would have been written out at some point. As it is, he amiably follows along and adds some complications here and there.  At one point, he has an argument with Harry and leaves, but of course they all reunite later.

It is the two leads, however, who carry the proceedings.  At this point, you are unlikely to start watching the series unless you know something about it.  Let's just say that this film condenses much of the narrative, and not in a bad way.

All in all, though, the film follows the book quite closely, leaving out inconsequential travel scenes and the like.

There are the usual gothic vistas and scary characters, but nothing we all know Harry can't handle.

The children who began the series in the lead roles have grown into fine actors.  This film is well worth watching, and is suitable for small children. The trailer is below.
Click to Purchase

Friday, September 28, 2012

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011) - They Successfuly Blow Stuff Up

OK, But It's A Let-Down That There's No Megan Fox 

transformers dark of the Moon

The first two Transformers movies, which starred Shia LaBeouf as Sam and Megan Fox and Megan Fox as Mikaela, made a ton of money. "Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011), directed by Michael Bay for Paramount, is the third in the series. Of course, it made a ton of money, too. In fact, "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" was the second-highest grossing film of 2011 and one of the highest-grossing films of all time. Obviously, someone knew what they were doing.

transformers dark of the Moon

Either you are a fan of Transformers-style action film or you aren't. Basically, the story involves two different alien races fighting for dominion. Earth happens to be their battleground. One side is good, the other isn't. The good guys are led by Optimus Prime, the bad guys by Megatron. The aliens are giant robots that can change shape ("transform") and have a lot of power to blow things up.

transformers dark of the Moon

A lot of things get blown up in these films. That is why people go to see them.  The makers of these films are very good at blowing things up. They know that is what people want to see, and that it will bring in a ton of money. There is little downside to the explosions because generally the victims aren't people, they are robots, which removes any vestige of human sympathy or empathy. Given the extraordinary excellence of the pyrotechnics, which is the sole point of the film, one could say this is an outstanding film, in fact, it is the high art of the 21st Century.

transformers dark of the Moon

On the down side, there are actors involved.  Megan Fox made a comment early in production that was deemed not politically correct, so she was unceremoniously dumped by the Director, Michael Bay, and producer Steven Spielberg. Let's just say there are certain things you don't speak of lightly in certain company. Anyway, They knew that the film's audience came to see robots, destruction and explosions, not actors, so they couldn't have cared less what bodies walked around in between the fireworks. A simple slur was enough for them to deprive Megan and her fans of her presence in this film. The Borgias of medieval Italy exercised power off-handedly in a similar fashion. You know, "she offends me, so off with her head," that sort of thing.

transformers dark of the Moon

They found a British model with almost no acting experience, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and stuck her in the Megan Fox slot under the character name of "Carly."  She is strikingly beautiful and amazingly inept as an "actress," but she is as adept at grabbing Shia as they wander through the fake smoking ruins as anyone else.  The quality of the explosions did not suffer, and she was almost as pleasant for the mostly teenage-boy audience to look at as Megan, in fact maybe more so for some, so the substitution made little difference.

transformers dark of the Moon

I could go on and on about how silly the script is, how much of it makes no sense, how trashy the whole concept seems when placed in the same category of works that examine the human condition, and how the acting (especially of Rosie) is atrocious. That's kind of like saying that water is wet. The point of the film is not the acting, or the dialog, or the witty insights - it is creating infernos of burning combustibles. The people are there to look pretty. They do that. Problem solved.

transformers dark of the Moon

I don't want to sound condescending or anything like that, so I will let a true authority sum this up. Orson Welles played a version of Unicron in one of his final films, "Transformers: The Movie (1986)." He is quoted as famously saying, "I play a planet. I menace somebody called something-or-other. Then I'm destroyed. My plan to destroy Whoever-it-is is thwarted and I tear myself apart on the screen." He added that Transformers in general is a show where "two groups of toys do awful things to each other."

That's Transformers. Below is the trailer.
Click to Purchase


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Lawrence of Arabia (1962) - Sweeping Grandeur

Peter O'Toole's Tour de Force as Lawrence

Original film poster Lawrence of Arabia 1962 movieloversreviews.blogspot.comt

There are certain films that never should be remade under any circumstances. "Citizen Kane," "Gone with the Wind," and "The Third Man" spring immediately to mind. Add "Lawrence of Arabia" (1962) to that list. The British excel at films like this, recounting their own glorious past (see "Zulu," "Chariots of Fire," and "Ghandi" as prime examples) in exotic environments. While this nominally is a Columbia Pictures presentation, this historical epic is a David Lean production all the way.

Lawrence in new robes Lawrence of Arabia 1962 movieloversreviews.blogspot.comt
Lawrence admiring his new robes. This scene was O'Toole's idea

This is a film about journeys. Lawrence (Peter O'Toole) is a low-level British specialist on the Middle East. He takes a journey through the desert to find the Arab forces and barely survives. Later, the Arab forces journey across the desert to Aquaba and achieve what is thought to be impossible. After that, again Lawrence must journey almost alone across the Sinai desert to get heavy forces in support of his victory. But the most important journey in the film is internal, as Lawrence comes to realize the depth and limitations of his own personal power. The Arabs allies, too, begin to understand where events are leading them and begin to realize their own expanding powers.

In the desert Lawrence of Arabia 1962 movieloversreviews.blogspot.comt
War is taking its toll on Lawrence

Aside from everything else, this film is excellent history. Sure, certain liberties are taken with the character of , who probably wasn't as tortured by his experiences as is made out here, but that is a minor quibble. A career performance by Peter O'Toole in the title role keeps the entire movie rolling and sends this into film Nirvana.

O'Toole and Sharif Lawrence of Arabia 1962 movieloversreviews.blogspot.comt
Lawrence and his best friend

Omar Sharif is around, too, as a sort of voice of reason and stability, along with Anthony Quinn and Alec Guiness. Jack Hawkins plays General Allenby, also known as "Allenby of Armageddon," who provides Lawrence with the necessary support but secretly loathes him. All of these amazing actors did the best work of their storied careers right here, in this film, and that is saying a lot.

Quinn, Sharif, O'Toole Lawrence of Arabia 1962 movieloversreviews.blogspot.comt
Lawrence with his Arab lieutenants

Briefly, the plot (based on Lawrence's memoir "The Seven Pillars of Wisdom") involves an attempt by Allied forces in the Middle East to open a second front against the Ottoman Empire, Germany's ally, which had controlled the entire region since seizing it from the Byzantine Empire centuries before. The best way to do this, they figured, would be to instigate a revolt of the locals, who chafed under foreign rule from Constantinople. It was an alien environment where the British had few friends, so they turned to one of their few officers who actually understood the politics and geography: Lawrence.

Lawrence in native garb Lawrence of Arabia 1962 movieloversreviews.blogspot.comt
Lawrence under great strain

Lawrence, who had traveled extensively throughout the region before the war on Ottoman/German trains, had to ingratiate himself with the locals and earn their respect. The balance of the film shows how he does that, and how the locals, in turn, affect him personally. Not all is good and positive, just as it isn't in real life. He is assisted by local tribesmen who admire him personally, but their admiration is severely tested by events.

Lawrence and his warriors Lawrence of Arabia 1962 movieloversreviews.blogspot.comt
Lawrence and his troops

Once he adapts to the local customs and traditions, Lawrence tries to turn a bunch of disparate and feuding tribes into an effective force against the Turks. This is accomplished, but not without trials and tribulations for all concerned.

Lawrence attacking Lawrence of Arabia 1962 movieloversreviews.blogspot.comt
On the attack

Oscar-winning Director David Lean uses the desert vistas to their maximum impact, and the Oscar-winning music by Maurice Jarre perfectly complements the sweeping desert vistas. The title theme, in fact, is one of the most recognizable in film history. A favorite scene is when Lawrence earns white robes due to a noble deed, and admires himself in the reflection of his own dagger. That scene was O'Toole's idea completely, and Lean was smart enough to go along with it.

Troops in the desert Lawrence of Arabia 1962 movieloversreviews.blogspot.comt
The scenery is intense

Just to give you an idea of how well they cast the leads, Peter O'Toole as Lawrence and Alec Guiness as Faisal, check out the below picture. O'Toole got that slightly impish/eccentric quality of Lawrence down to perfection.

Prince Faisal Lawrence of Arabia
The real deal

You need to see this Best Picture winner film on a big, wide screen with good sound - preferably in a movie theater - to appreciate it. If you do, afterwards you will feel as if you were there, in the desert, with Lawrence and his comrades. This is one of my top films of all time, and I highly recommend you take the time to watch it.

Peter O'Toole passed away in 2013 after having been nominated for 8 Academy Awards. You may view more pictures of O'Toole, learn a bit more about his career, and read a brief tribute here.

The original theatrical trailer is below, followed by Jarre conducting the theme.


North By Northwest (1959) - Hitchcock's and Grant's Peak

My Favorite Film of All, "North By Northwest"

French DVD cover North by Northwest 1959

Alfred Hitchcock's studio, MGM, knew that in him it had a hot director sitting around with nothing to do. MGM gave Hitchcock an untitled turgid drama set at sea to work up, known by everybody simply as "the ship movie." Hitchcock hated the very idea of it, but he had nothing else specific going on. Having something official to work on gave him access to the studio's funding, so he nodded with a smile whenever anyone in the MGM hallways inquired about it or jokingly called him "Admiral" but otherwise completely ignored the project.

This about sums it up

Hitchcock really was at the top of his game, having just wrapped "Vertigo" (which leads many lists of the greatest film ever made, though I think "North By Northwest" is better). He didn't take orders about his projects from anyone, especially studio hacks trying to get him to commit to something as bland as the ship movie. Hitchcock was, instead, interested in doing a spy thriller for which he had a few vague ideas.

Alfred Hitchcock in North by Northwest 1959
Hitchcock's cameo

He found a hot young screenwriter -  - and put him on the payroll, officially, for the ship movie. "Forget about that," Hitchcock Lehman. "I have something better in mind." Indeed he did. Hitchcock gave Lehman some general ideas for his spy movie, which included a dramatic finale on Mount Rushmore, a scene at the UN where a delegate falls asleep during a speech, and a body mysteriously appearing in a just-finished car at a Detroit automotive assembly plant. Lehman took it from there. They never did find a way to fit in the Detroit scene.

Grant and Saint in upper berth North by Northwest 1959
This was very risqué for the 1950s but remains quite marvelous

The result was "North by Northwest" (1959). The (now forgotten) ship movie ("The Wreck of the Mary Deare") was handed off to a hack director (and ultimately starred Gary Cooper and promising newcomer Charlton Heston). Reliable Bernard Herrmann (who had introduced Lehman to Hitchcock) began working up the theme for the spy film, and Hitchcock and Lehman were off and running. Hitchcock would come into Lehman's office every day and sit down and review Lehman's progress. They would chat, Hitchock would give Lehman his random thoughts, and then Lehman would go to work again. Any young associate in any major firm around the world is familiar with that drill.

Cary Grant Alfred Hitchcock North By Northwest
Hitchock and Cary Grant discussing things on the set, probably the key airport scene

Cary Grant was hired for the lead role of the spy despite "Vertigo" star Jimmy Stewart, the biggest star of all, begging for the part. Pretty young Eva Marie Saint, who was at the peak of her loveliness and had won an Oscar a few years earlier for romancing Marlon Brando in "On the Waterfront," signed on as well despite the studio wanting Cyd Charisse.

Grant and Saint kissing North by Northwest 1959
"Shall I climb up and show you?

"North By Northwest" is a general case of mistaken identity. In this case, it proves almost fatal for ordinary advertising executive Roger Thornhill (Grant) who is mistaken for a mysterious secret agent, one George Kaplan. Ultimately, it proves fatal or at least unlucky for several people around him. Incidentally, it would have been neat if Grant's character had been named Jim Blandings, but that's asking a bit much.

Grant running from plane North by Northwest 1959
I had this on my office wall for years

Thornhill/Kaplan winds up being pursued by gangsters who repeatedly rough him up and try to kill him because they think that Kaplan is on to them. They use very inventive means of killing him, though, rather than just shooting or stabbing him, which ultimately leads to their downfall. In this way, "North by Northwest" presages the same such behavior in the James Bond series that began a couple of years after this film's release (and Grant, incidentally, was Ian Fleming's choice to be the first James Bond, so he must have been a fan of this film).

Grant and Saint on Mount Rushmore North by Northwest 1959
"I don't like the way Teddy Roosevelt is looking at me."

Saint plays a mysterious femme fatale who befriends Grant. Her true allegiance is uncertain for a long while, but that ultimately is sorted out when Roger meets The Professor (Leo G. Carroll). Along the way, she flirts with Grant every chance she gets. Is she just playing him, or does she really want him? That's the tacit subplot which really kicks the kettle boiling.

James Mason North by Northwest 1959
"That isn't very sporting of you, using real bullets"

James Mason plays the heavy, Phillip Vandamm a debonaire spy for an un-named foreign government. Martin Landau is his sidekick Leonard, a somewhat effete but malevolent henchman.

Landau and Grant North by Northwest 1959
Leonard pouring Roger a drink. The thug on the left was a major WWII hero in real life

The action begins in New York City and moves progressively westward and eventually in a northerly and westerly direction. Hence, apparently, the title.

Saint and Grant North by Northwest 1959
Roger Thornhill and Eve Kendall bump into each other at just the right time

Despite the fact that she won her Oscar for an earlier film, Eva Marie Saint truly does give the performance of her career here. In fact, this is the high water mark for just about everyone involved. It is one of Hollywood's enduring mysteries why this talented woman wound up relegated to minor TV roles for the rest of her career.

The Master himself

The career performances includes that of Director Alfred Hitchcock. To say that this is his finest work is debatable, but it certainly was one of his best films. To me, it is his most enjoyable, much more so than "Psycho." It holds up extremely well all these years later, unlike a few of his other renowned films.

Eva Marie Saint hugging Grant North by Northwest 1959
Saint never looked better than in this film

Anyone who watches this will be struck by the raw emotion shown by Eva. Grant carries the exposition, but she all but steals the film right out from under him with her awkward advances and emotional reactions. If Grant weren't at the absolute top of his game, this would have been her film. James Mason also delivers a top performance, with a change in attitude late in the film that drives the conclusion.

Grant, Mason, Saint North by Northwest 1959
Mount Rushmore restaurant scene

My opinion of "North By Northwest" is that it only gets better as the years pass. It definitely makes my "Top Ten of All Time" because of its iconic images and twists. The famous cropduster scene alone provides an iconic image which makes this film immortal. It might even be the best film ever made. You should see this at least once if you enjoy fine films.

Below is the original trailer, featuring a nice introduction by Hitchcock himself:


Barbarella (1968) - A Ripe Jane Fonda

Barbarella 1968 original movie poster
The classic "Barbarella" film poster

Some actresses have movies in their past that they needed to make at the time, but later wanted to forget. Jane Fonda was looking for that one little push to become a superstar ("Cat Ballou" had done more for Lee Marvin's career than for hers), and she used "Barbarella" (1968), a science fiction character, to get there.

Barbarella 1968 sexy original film poster

Directed by then-husband Roger Vadim, written by him and from the comic by and , the film accomplished its purpose. Fonda almost never mentioned it again except when asked about it directly. During her protest phase, Fonda disparaged it, but more recently she has spoken of it almost, um, fondly.
“I have a dream – to do a sequel to ‘Barbarella.’ Not a remake, a sequel! Look, I get shtupped by a blind angel, OK? Let’s just take it from there.”
Barbarella 1968

Fonda professes to see the humor in the whole premise.
“I think it could be funny – and feminist.”
Jane is a very complicated woman. While she blows the horn of empowerment and independence, Jane throughout her life has preferred the company of strong men - who she later spitefully disparages after she leaves them. Word is that, at the time, Jane just wanted to do whatever would make Vadim happy, and what made him happy in 1968 was "Barbarella." People who only see the political Jane are missing the underlying comfort she apparently finds in pleasing her man, which is not radical at all. If one wanted to psychoanalyze her, the political stuff that has caused her so much anger through the years can be seen as her acting out like a little girl against her daddy-figure fixation. The real Jane is on display as Barbarella, a sex kitten prancing for her man.

Barbarella 1968 sexy

This film led directly to "They Shoot Horses, Don't They," which she herself apparently considers the turning point of her career.

Barbarella 1968 sexy original film poster
An original movie poster

Some actresses have to go the full Monty and get naked to accomplish this task. Virna Lisi and Sophia Loren both angrily turned the role down. When it's too much for those two.... Jane was close enough to the Big Leagues to get away with only doing the most provocative of clothed poses. This film is a collection of such poses, and little more. All the weapons look like giant dildos. My favorite line of dialog in the film? At the very beginning, when Barbarella is naked and receives a video call from the President, She says, "I'll put something on." His reply? "Don't trouble yourself." Hail to the Chief!

Jane Fonda lying on floor in furs in Barbarella
Jane looks like a giant bird

Yes, there is a plot, something about a space-age heroine who goes looking for the inventor of a machine that gives intense sexual pleasure. Why she didn't just go to the local sex shop is a bit of a mystery.The special effects are actually quite good. The background music, though, can be a bit much, sort of mariachi mixed with proto-disco.

Jane Fonda in black leather on her back holding gun Barbarella

The tone of the film is set right from the opening credits, during which our heroine Barbarella does a teasing little striptease. It doesn't get any more intellectual after that.

Roger Vadim directs Jane Fonda in Barbarella 1968
The production was notorious for rumors of wild times and drug use. Whatever the truth, clearly some of the best visuals were behind the scenes.

It is amazing to hear Jane's flat, no-nonsense accent joined with this wacky character. The dialog is just hilarious if you pay attention: "Have you seen an angel anywhere?"; "What is it?" "Essence of man."'; "Earth woman, do you know what I like" ... "I think I know"; "You are so good, you made the Matmos vomit."; "We are doomed...DOOMED."; "De-crucify him or I melt your face."; "To the Matmos with this winged fruitcake!"; Terry Southern just went to town with this script, it is absolutely hysterical if you can manage to understand all the rushed and mumbled lines.

Roger Vadim directs Jane Fonda in Barbarella 1968
I bet he liked his wife looking like that

Add to that Jane's extremely odd vocal inflections (interrupted during hand sex, she looks up and chirps, "Hello there!" as if the house mother just came in during tea. She has a Dorothy-in-Oz rube-just-fell-off-the-turnip-truck guilelessness about her at times of extreme innuendo - and, at others, perfectly knowing smirks during moments of high camp - that makes it a wildly eccentric (and full of campy deliciousness) performance. Watching her fake a climax is just otherworldly, no other legitimate 60's actress would even have deigned to attempt it.

Jane Fonda topless in Barbarella 1968
Jane in the rebel leader's lair - this scene, though, was re-shot with David Hemmings instead

John Phillip Law shows up as some kind of Angel, with wings and everything. He is as wooden as a California redwood. David Hemmings tries to act (he's pretty much alone in that, except for Fonda), and it just seems to confuse things. Anita Pallenberg keeps saying "pretty pretty," which was one of the film's defining catchphrases when it came out, and veers between wanton lust and maniacal posturing.

Milo O'Shea, as Durand Durand, has some jaw-dropping scenes at the end that define (and had to inspire some Austin Powers sketches) the "maniacally cackling madman thinking he is about the 'Nothing can stop me now... master of the universe... hahahahahahaha.'"   But the focus always remains on our heroine, Jane.

Jane Fonda topless side pose in Barbarella 1968
That is such a terrific expression on Jane's face

And, rightly so. There isn't any other reason to watch this confused piece of Eurotrash other than to ogle Jane Fonda, and I say that with all due respect for "Barbarella" as the first full-length feature film comic book adaptation and thus a classic of the genre. But that is more than enough of a reason. It is incredible that Dino De Laurentiis produced this during a period when he spent a lot of time in Europe, but he always veered between quality and, shall we say, "common fare."

Jane Fonda on hands and knees in Barbarella 1968
Jane wears this memorably in the film
Who else but a New-Wave French auteur would have thought up something like this film? There are all sorts of weird Gothic elements to go along with the film's ultimate purpose, which is to showcase Jane in all her young glory. The production must have been a bit like the later Xanadu, with nobody quite sure what was happening, but just randomly throwing weird ideas out in hopes they would gel into some nuclear blast of pop art.

Jane Fonda kissed by lesbian Barbarella 1968
Apparently, this spicey scene with the Black Queen did not make it into the film :(

You know you are being exploited as you watch this, but I doubt you will care. This is simple fun, don't go looking for any deeper meanings. A favorite scene? When Barbarella gets attacked by killer dolls.

Jane Fonda in white legs spread with gun in Barbarella 1968
Jane Fonda must have spent days working up all these poses

They wanted to raise Jane's profile, and they did. Boy, did they do that. All of her liberal crusades came after this, flowing from the publicity she garnered which led to serious roles as in "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" and "Klute" (both of which, incidentally, also had very sexy scenes).

Jane Fonda as Barbarella posing while holding a dead animal
That is the sexiest fishing gear I ever saw

If she hadn't made this film, she probably wouldn't have become so full of herself and her own wonderfulness and sagacity that she wound up on that North Korean anti-aircraft battery during the height of the Vietnam War. That hurt a lot of people, and she regrets that misstep to this day. Some mistakes can't be retracted. Success can be double-edged. As I like to say, if you judged art by the politics of the artist, you could never enter a museum or turn on the Television. Once you go down that road, you may as well become a hermit, because most art is created by people you would never want to be in the same room with.

Jane Fonda in a bikini as Barabarella with John Phillip Law
Jane, watch those hands!

But that was her mistake, not ours. There is nothing wrong with enjoying Jane showing off her curves before she unwisely got political. You can stir up quite a debate about which of Jane's films shows her off to her best advantage. Some would say "Klute," others "Cat Ballou," still others this film. There are several other good candidates, but the discussion at some point always swings around to "Barbarella."

Jane Fonda in black catsuit in Barabarella 1968
Jane Fonda, Warrior Princess

After all, she is a good-looking woman. What was in her head is completely irrelevant, at least to me, and probably just a way to get back at daddy Henry or something (one does wonder what he thought of this). If you were at a strip club, would the lead dancer's views on Global Warming or the war in Iraq really be at the top of your list of priorities? So what if some bimbo had delusions of grandeur about her own views on politics ("If you understood what Communism was, you would hope, you would pray on your knees that one day we would become Communist" is one of her choicer quotes). Enjoy the view, forget what comes out of her mouth, and the vast majority of viewers will be much happier. If Jane wanted to show herself off, who are we to complain? She's not making money off of her old films, at least not money that she needs now. Ted Turner took care of that.

Jane Fonda waking up after sex in Barbarella
Jane has that just... woken up look

Her anti-Americanism was just a phase. Unfortunately, it was a phase that damaged her image forever. Why not just focus on her image before she did that? She's sexy as Hell. She apparently is in a "Born-again Christian" phase now. Clearly, the woman has no moral center and bounces from one extreme to another. I mean, really, the woman used to claim she was a Communist. Recall that Karl Marx wrote that religion was the opiate of the masses, and that Stalin and Chairman Mao tried to wipe out religious thought. And now Fonda is born again? Give me a break. She was just following the fads of the day, without a thought in her head. The moral of the story is, focus on Jane's body (of work), not on her muddled personal thoughts. You may think I'm going on and on and on and on about her politics, but it's important to get that out of the way. Her opinionated blatherings of the past are the one thing that can get in your way of enjoying her curvaceousness, and really, nothing should intrude on that if you want to live in the present.

Jane Fonda Barbarella in spaceship with man
Hand sex!!!!! Watch Jane's hair go from straight to giant curls during this! His name is Dildano!

Anyway, "Barbarella" was iconic. It had one noticeable effect that lasts to this day: the band Duran Duran took its name from the evil scientist "Durand Durand" (I guess that precise spelling seemed too, well, French for the British boys) whom Barbarella pursues. "I'm looking for Duran Duran," she keeps saying. So were a lot of hot girls in the '80s.

Barbarella 1968 cast
Some scenes are just too corny. The big-hair look got a major boost from "Barbarella."

The film also is notable for another reason. It is one of the first films ripped off from comic books. Before this film, comic book heroes only starred in serials like "Flash Gordon." You have this film to thank for "Iron Man 2"! Barbarella was a huge comic book success in France. It is very sexual, you know how those kinds of foreign comic books are. Could you have guessed?

Durand Durand in Barbarella
Wouldn't he rather be in there with her?

That's the evil Durand Durand in the shot above. Funny, he doesn't look like Simon Le Bon. The more you look at the sets, by the way, the more you realize how much intense thought went into making them look like parts of the female and male reproductive system.

Jane Fonda doggy style in Barbarella 1968
It is the universe of shag carpet! The fellow in the background can hardly contain his excitement.

I know what you're thinking: no 40+ year old film could possibly be sexy. Ha! On the other hand, to just disregard this film as exploitative trash is to underestimate it. This kept an awful lot of fighting men happy back in the late 1960s. Of course, many came to hate her later, but that has nothing to do with this film.

Jane Fonda hands and knees Barbarella 1968
Lips were big in the Sixties

One objective of Vadim seemed to be how many doggy-style poses he could get Jane into. This film pretty much answers that question. I saw somewhere that a very young Morgan Fairchild was Jane's stand-in during this film, which makes you wish for a time machine to visit the set. Incidentally, she tried out a lot of the standing poses in Cat Ballou a few years before this.

Jane Fonda multiple sexy images as Barbarella
I like them all

Hopefully, you get the idea now. She struts, she juts, and every trick of sexual imagery that husband Roger could come up with is used at one point or another. There is talk of a remake, but that never seems to happen - and besides, who could top Fonda in her prime? An awful lot of thought went into making this film, but you won't have a thought in your head as you watch it, except to admire a lovely young woman in her prime. Below is the original trailer.