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July 15, 2007

My Belated Bob Clark Double Feature

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Black Christmas
Bob Clark - 1974
Critical Mass Region 1 DVD

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She-Man
Bob Clark - 1967
Something Weird Video Region 1 DVD

Some of the more serious writings about Bob Clark following his death last April suggested that his earlier films were worthy of reconsideration. What connects these two earlier films with Clark's later work is the penchant for bawdy humor. Although most of Black Christmas is a straight forward thriller, the scenes with Margot Kidder are given to exchanges concerning that most prominent part of male anatomy. The dialogue is such that the infamous locker room scene in Porky's is virtually inevitable. Made at the same time as giallo horror films were made, Black Christmas is quite restrained, with Clark seeming to have studied Psycho so that in the one scene depicting a murder, we only see the glass unicorn getting bloodier in the hand of the unseen killer. One side note - Olivia Hussey is beautifully photographed throughout most of this film.

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She-Man is a much earlier effort that Bob Clark probably would have preferred to leave off his resume. Fortunately this obscurity has been rescued by the maniacs over at Something Weird. The preposterous story is about a former Army officer, Albert Rose, who is kidnapped by the AWOL soldier who served under him. The soldier has become some kind of transgendered secret agent who blackmails various people into service, usually forcing them into cross dressing roles. It takes our "hero" the length of the film to figure out that Dominique, the soldier from his past, is now Dominita, the blackmailing dominatrix. Albert Rose becomes Rose Albert, forced to serve as a maid. One of Dominita's victims is a lesbian named Ruth who falls in love with Albert, or more likely with Rose. Either way, the film is bookended with a doctor who explains that there is nothing wrong with being a transvestite as long as it's kept indoors, or words to that effect. Curiously, Clark made an unreleased film the previous year according to IMDb titled The Emperor's New Clothes that has a similar story, concerning a cross dressing soldier.

She-Man is actually less interesting to see than its description might indicate. There is one hilarious moment with three dancers in oversized top hats that suggested that even if Bob Clark's future as a filmmaker was uncertain, he could be counted on to provide at least one good laugh.

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Posted by peter at July 15, 2007 07:23 PM