Friday, October 27, 2006

SCOTT IN CHARGE

After last week's MLB-inspired semi-hiatus, back today with a standard, Friday Silly Movie Of My Youth Of The Day, with all the inspired hijinks, goofiness, and random tangents & digressions you'd expect. Or maybe no one expects anything. Nevertheless, without any further ado, today's FSMOMYOTD:

Bugsy Malone

Yes, Bugsy Malone. The first (and I'm guessing only) gangster film starring children. The first (and I'm asserting only) time that Scott Baio shared top billing with Jodie Foster. The first (and thank god last) time Scott Baio got top billing with anyone.

(Make your predictions right now for the over/under on cheap-shot Scott Baio jokes for this piece. Done? Ok.)

Was this flick alternatively titled, Jodie Loves Chachi? You see, I couldn't hold out for even one sentence. Scott Baio, like his "Uncle" Henry Winkler, just screams out for mockery. Go back and watch an episode of Happy Days and tell me your first thought isn't, "Wait a second. I thought Fonzie was cool when I was a kid."

So Bugsy Malone, as far as I remember it from my one-and-only viewing 30 years ago, was a standard-issue gangster story, complete with wise guys, thugs, molls, bosses, and the power struggles and romances that drive the genre. Except this one starred children. Including Scott Baio.

Miller's Crossing it ain't. Oh, and another thing I definitely remember: instead of bullets, the tommy guns shoot a creamy, white substance that looked like melted marshmellow. When you combine that with little girls dressed as dancers and "gangster gals," it makes you wonder what was on the director's mind.

And the director was none other than Alan Parker, who later helmed Fame, Angel Heart, and Midnight Express. If you think about it, in addition to men with long fingernails, men who bite off ears, and men who sing and dance while wearing legwarmers, all three movies feature gratuitous tit shots. Not that I'm complaining, believe me (though come to think of it, Irene Cara's "moment" was gratuitously gratuitous). But Bugsy was his training ground apparently. Parker also directed The Wall, complete with not only gratuitous tit shots and a hatred of women so profound it's disturbing, but a series of cartoon representations where nearly every character is penile, vaginal, or both. Remember the Judge in the Trial?

Anyhoo, back to Bugsy. So we got kids shooting each other with white cream, and Scott Baio as a tough guy/leading man. Is that all? Hardly. The actor that played "Fat Sam" was John Cassisi, who went on to play one of the nasty kids that "Fish" and his wife adopted.

In case you don't remember, Fish, played by Abe Vigoda, was the grumpy old cop on Barney Miller, one of the 70's better sitcoms. For some reason, the producers felt that a TV series starring the sad sack actor (who played doomed sad sack gangster "Tessio" in the Godfather), his screachy-voiced wife, and five obnoxious & nasty foster children would be a good idea.

It wasn't.

Anyway, Cassisi played the oldest of these lovely kids. He was basically the same character he played in Bugsy Malone: a fat bully. A fat bully who had it out for Scott Baio. Where was the Fonz when this was going on?

Jodie Foster I'm gonna guess we all know about. Who else was in this? Sheridan Earl Russell, who I've never heard of, but I note that he later appeared in Lords of Discipline, one of those movies that every guy my age has seen, because it was always on cable (no relation to The Lords of Flatbush, which saw a pre-Fonzie Henry Winkler playing a Brooklyn thug along with a pre-Rockie Sylvester Stallone). It was about torture and abuse at a military institute (hmmm, maybe they were just training today's "Specialists"), and featured gold-glove boxer Mark Breland, Bill Paxton and Judge Reinhold early in their careers, and -- by legislative decree, I believe -- G.D. Spradlin as himself, aka, the scary, uptight looking guy with a vaguely Southern accent whom plays a corrupt Senator, corrupt General, or sadistic & corrupt General (think Godfather II & Apocalypse Now). In this one, he was a sadistic & corrupt General.

Where were we? Oh yeah, Bugsy Malone's cast. We also had Dexter Fletcher. Who, you ask? Well, I asked, so I assume you did too. He starred in The Rachel Papers, a mostly insignificant 1989 British comedy, based on a Martin Amis novel. Now, you've gotta be wondering why I need to riff here on a nobody actor in an insignificant movie right?

In-corrrrrrrrrrrect. Like Billy Crystal's "mostly dead" in the Princess Bride, I said that the Rachel Papers was mostly insignificant. And what, you may ask, is that shred of significance? Well, since I introduced the always-worthy theme of "Gratuitous Tit Shots" earlier, I have to tell you that this one had one of the good ones. Think 1989. Ione Skye (only recently dropping "Leitch" from her name, as well as drug-addled Anthony Keidis, before jumping ship to Adam Horowitz, bastard) had just wowed us with her beauty and decidely mediocre acting talents in Say Anything. And I thought she was hot.

Ok, we up on the background facts? Good.

Then, in this obscure British film she had a nice . . . let's call it bathtub scene, with that scrawny, little British nobody. If you haven't seen it, you're warned at your own caution not to see this movie just for that scene. Plus, as we now know, Ione went on to doff her clothes a few more times as the 90's rolled on (pretty girl, early success, non-existent acting chops. Can "nekkid on screen" ever be far behind?). And if you have seen it? Well, then you know what I'm a' talkin about. Uh-huh.

Finally, since I've all-but revealed myself as the hormone-addled, nearly middle-aged man I am (following my hormone-addled youth and young adulthood), might as well go out with a bang as I finish with Bugsy Malone's cast. As in a cream-shooting-gun bang.

(Oh, and did I mention that Scott Baio, he of the hair-parted-in-the-middle 70's hair, even though Happy Days supposedly took place in the 50's, was the star of Bugsy Malone?)

The last name listed in the credits, among the "uncredited" cast, is Julie K. Smith. I'm gonna be honest and admit that I've never heard of her. But her "resume" tells me that some among my (mostly male) readership have. Born around the time I was, in 1967, she did nothing after Bugsy Malone until 1987, when she appeared in Mankillers, Pretty Smart and Disorderlies (yes, the Fat Boys movie) as "High School Girl," "Samantha Falconwright," and "Skinnydipper #2," respectively.

Yes, that's right. 11 years after appearing in a film with Jodie Foster (and Scott Baio!) she was the number two skinnydipper in a movie in which the Fat Boys played hospital orderlies. Clearly, there was but one direction for her career to go at this point. And that's just what she did: after Angel III: The Final Chapter, and an uncredited appearence in The Last Boyscout (which, when you think about it, is actually worse than "Skinnydipper #2" in Disorderlies), she appeared as Penthouse's Pet of the Month for February, 1993.

And from there, just a series of wonderfully named films, including The Bare Wench Project, The Bare Wench Project III: Nymphs of Mystery Mountain (I guess she was busy doing Seinfeld or Hollywood Squares when they filmed Bare Wench II), Baberellas, The Bare Wench Project: Uncensored (what exactly could be the appeal to the censored version???), Bare Wench: The Final Chapter, and my favorite, The Witches of Breastwick. Now that's a career.

(And speaking of careers, what could be more fun than being the guy who makes up the titles of porn movies? NY Post headline writer, maybe. But that's about it.)

Jodie Foster won an Oscar. Dexter Fletcher shared a bathtub with Ione Skye. Vincent Cassisi played Fish's adopted son. And Julie K. Smith starred in four-of-five Bare Wench movies, as well as The Witches of Breastwick. If only Scott Baio could've followed his co-stars down the road to fame & fortune. Instead, he's best remebered as Erin Moran's boyfriend. Hollywood takes no prisoners.

12 Comments:

Blogger Ed in Westchester said...

The Witches of Breatwick? That was on "HBO Zone" in the middle of the night over the weekend. Not that I watched it. I preferred "Call Girl Wives" the night before.
Apparently HBO Zone slips into Skinemax mode a few overnights a week. A while back it was "The Lord of the G Strings".
Just wanted you to be aware of this Mike.

10:25 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Ed-

Thanks. I'm always happy to have one of my "sources" updating me and the rest of the readers (all 4 of them).

So, if I understand you correctly, Ms. Smith has gone the soft-core route since appearing on the pages of Mr. Guccione's flagship magazine (unless she was in Omni, of course).

I'm not sure whether to classify that as good or bad news.

And, please tell us: were Call Girl Wives and Lord of the G-Strings up to the usual Skinamax standards? That mixture of dialogue, erotica, and soft-focus camera work we've come to expect from the industry leader?

10:32 AM  
Blogger Ed in Westchester said...

Well, I do not have skinemax. However, CGW was indeed a soft core classic. No "finales" on screen, no close ups, interesting dialogue. As for the plot, well, you can guess.

Ms. Smith was in a non action sceen in CGW. Thankfully, as she was looking a bit worn. In her scene, she needed help from another girl to put on fishnets, due to carpel tunnel syndrome (Insert Carlos Delgado joke here). It was only after clicking the link in your post that I realized who she was, as "Julie the Understudy" She was there to fill in if one of the main characters could not go through with her job as a CGW.

I only caught the last 5 minutes of TLOTGS" many moons ago when I used to get up at 5 to go to work, so I cannot comment on it fully.

11:37 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Thanks for sharing, Ed.

Your assignment for Monday is to watch all 5 "episodes" of Bare Wench Project and give us a full report.

11:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The first (and thank god last) time Scott Baio got top billing with anyone."

Baio later "top billed" at least one other movie -- "Zapped."

Also, Baio is not best known for being Erin Moran's boyfriend. He's best known for being EVERY HOT-CHICK-IN-HOLLOYWOOD'S boyfriend.

For example, I'd say that being Pamela Anderson' boyfriend got him a little more pub. Oh, and there was Heather Locklear, Nicolette Sheridan, and Denise Richards among others.

Applesaucer

12:08 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Well, we seem to have come across one of the charter members of the Scott Baio fan club. I didn't know he had such an admiration society.

Nor did I know he bagged all these fine young ladies (not a fan of Pam or Heather, but you'll get no arguments from me regarding Nicolette & Denise). Good research, Mr. Saucer. Between you and Ed I've got all my Hollywood babe angles covered.

And good point about Zapped. Complete brain-freeze on that one. Though in that small universe of Willy Ames Movies, I'm a bigger fan of the one that saw him and (barely-clad) Phoebe Cates frolicking on some tropical island, some Blue Lagoon rip-off. Paradise? Paradise Island?

12:22 PM  
Blogger Thrillhous said...

Hey, Bare Wench was a great movie! After approximatley 3 minutes of walking around in the woods the ladies would get overheated and have to play nekkid in a nearby stream. Powerful stuff.

12:53 PM  
Blogger Ed in Westchester said...

Chachi used to go on the Stern Show back in the day and talk about "BaioWatch" since he apparently nailed most of the cast. To think, Nicole Eggert, from Charles in Charge, wound up being one of his conquests. Ick.

As for my mission, I'll see if the wife is ameniable. She was away last weekend (damn partner meeting), hence my late night viewing. I hate sleeping alone. I needed a distraction.

12:53 PM  
Blogger George said...

The Cates movie was Paradise--you can decide if the italics should be there or not.

Ah, dear Ione Skye. Don't forget she's in the actually pretty watchable, in its indie girls coming-of-age way, Gas Food Lodging, with her brother, a young Fairuza Balk, and not quite yet too old Brooke Adams.

12:56 PM  
Blogger bdodgey said...

Has anyone told you how old you are recently Mike? ;)

12:57 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

She was away last weekend . . . hence my late night viewing. I hate sleeping alone. I needed a distraction.

Yeah, I'm the same way. When my wife's out of town I get the urge to "read the articles" in Playboy, check out the swimsuit issue for the fashion, and watch porn to I can tabulate data for my forthcoming "Best Fluffer in the Industry" post.

12:58 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Thrill-

Tahnks for the synopsis. Somehow that's actually more complicated a plot than I expected.

George-

Oh, I remember Gas Food Lodging. Allison Anders directed, right? That was part of the "90s rolled on" period of her career I alluded to in the post.

Brooke was still looking ok at that point. And I've always been a Faruza fan.

BDodg-

Yes, my wife reminds me often. That's why I need to express myself freely in these posts. Are you trying to play the role of the 35 year-old woman here? Huh? HUH?!

1:26 PM  

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