Sep 21, 2020

Young Rebels: Hippie Spies of the American Revolution

In the wake of Woodstock, ABC wanted to capitalize on the hippie counterculture, and someone noticed that the key players of the American Revolution were young, too: in 1776, Alexander Hamilton was 21, James Madison 25, and Thomas Jefferson 33.  But somebody asked for spies, too, to capitalize on the Cold War spy craze.  The result was The Young Rebels (1970-71), about a trio of young-adult spies working to undermine the evil Redcoats.

1. Jeremy (Rick Ely, right), son of the local pro-British mayor.  (No relation to Ron Ely, the first tv Tarzan).

2. Isaak (Louis Gossett, Jr., bottom), a former slave and Civil Rights advocate.
3. Elizabeth (Hilary Johnson), a Women's Rights advocate.

Their mentor, Henry, was an elderly Ben Franklin clone (though played by 28-year old Alex Henteloff, left).







Most of the buddy-bonding occurred between Jeremy and Isak, who went on most of the missions together (and Isak required lots of rescuing).  But I liked the interaction between Jeremy and the Marquis de Lafayette (Philippe Forquet), a real historical figure who came to the U.S. to fight in the Revolutionary War.

The network had high hopes for the program, and heavily invested in tie-in novels, lunch boxes, and comics.  Rick Ely and Philippe Forquet got significant teen idol treatment, sharing the teen magazines with David Cassidy and Davey Jones (Rick Ely even released a teen idol album). My social studies teacher even discussed the series, the first time I had ever heard any teacher talk about tv except in a sneering dismissal of "Brain-rotting junk!"

But there was a problem: Sunday night was already crowded with kid-friendly series, Lassie on CBS and The Wonderful World of Disney on NBC.  Besides, if you wanted a trio of hippies, you could watch Mod Squad. 14 episodes aired in the fall of 1970, and a 15th in January 1971, and that was all.


Afterwards Rick Ely had guest spots on Marcus Welby, MASH, and Gunsmoke, did some soaps, and played a gay prisoner on I Escaped from Devil's Island (1973).  His IMDB filmography ends in the early 1980s. I heard some rumors that he is still alive, still living in Los Angeles, and gay.

Philippe Forquet, who was a French aristocrat in real life, was heralded as the most handsome man in France, and had been busily playing sultry boyfriends to sexually-liberated women: In the French Style (1963), Three Nights of Love (1967), Camille 2000 (1969), and so on.  Afterwards he worked on several tv series before retiring to oversee the family estate and businesses.

Louis Gossett Jr. and Alex Henteloff have both had long careers before the camera. 

Bob Morane: James Bond without the Girls

French class offered a practically infinite amount of riches for the beefcake-and-bonding devotee.  If you tired of the Green Library, you could always move on to the Marabout Junior series, which featured adventurer Bob Morane.

Bob Morane was a former RAF pilot who worked as a reporter and freelance adventurer, often accepting secret-agent or detective assignments.  In later volumes he worked for the Time Patrol, going back to dinosaur times or fighting androids in outer space.

 There weren't a lot of illustrations, but those the books had displayed Bob with a massive chest, usually when one of the bad guys, usually Ming "The Yellow Shadow," had him strung up for weird torture.



Bob's best buddy, a Scotch bodybuilder  usually traveled with him to provide the gay subtexts, and get strung up for a series of "my hero!" rescues.


Ok, there were some girls. But I don't remember Bob actually having sex, and the girl-chasing was minimal, far less than in James Bond.














Belgian author Henri Vernes published 12 volumes of Bob Morane's adventures (1958-67).  Most have been translated into English. There have also been over 100 bandes-dessinee (which I haven't read), a 1964-5 tv series (with Claude Titre as Bob Morane and Billy Kearns as Bob Ballantine), a 1998 animated series, and some tie-in video games and toys.














Sep 20, 2020

Parasite: Grifters, Frisky Heterosexuals, and a Disgusting Plot Twist

 

Friday night is date night.  During the pandemic, that means Chinese food and a red-envelope Netflix dvd.  Bob populates the list, so I have no idea what the movie will be in advance.  But his tastes run to science fiction, superhero, and horror, so when I saw the title Parasite, I assumed it was like Robert Heinlein's puppet masters, slimey bogies that attach to your spinal cord and turn you into a zombie. 

Until we started watching.  It's a parable, about class struggles, the highest grossing South Korean movie in history, and the only one to win best picture at the Academy Awards.  

I still didn't like it.  I hate movies that suddenly shift from comedy to horror.

The Kims, a family of grifters -- Mom, Dad, young adult son and daughter -- live at the bottom of the bottom of Korean society, literally -- in a basement apartment at the bug end of an alley where homeless guys come to piss.  They have jobs as pizza-box folders while waiting for their next score.  



It comes from the ultra-rich Park family, who live at the top of the top in an impossibly elegant house where every room is the size of a football field.  We don't know where Dad Park Dong-ik (Lee Sun-kyun, left, old photo) acquired his wealth; there's a framed magazine article on the wall about him playing in Central Park, so a musician; but he's also shown evaluating electronic gadgets, so an entrepreneur.

1. Old friend Min-hyuk (Park Seo-joon) is going away for a year, and suggests that son Kim Ki-woo (Choi Woo-shik) fake a university degree and take over his job tutoring the Parks' 16-year old daughter.  

Kim Ki-woo gets the job.  He and the daughter also start kissing, which I found distasteful.  He's at least 23 (the actor is 30), and in a position of authority.  Besides, the daughter doesn't seem to be all there.

He suggests that the Parks' 10-year old son, a troubled, hyperactive boy who paints disturbing surreal pictures (how does he sit still long enough?), could benefit from expensive art therapy from:

2. Daughter Kim Ki-jeung.  He pretends that they don't know each other (and 20% of the Korean population is named Kim, so no one comments on the similar name).  

Daughter  gets the chauffeur (Park geun-rok, top photo) fired by leaving her panties in the car, and recommends a new chauffeur:


3. Father Kim Ki-taek (Song Kang-ho, left, old photo).  

Then they get the housekeeper, Gook Moon-gwang, fired by making everyone think that she has tuberculosis.  And recommend as a new housekeeper:

4. Mother Choong-sook.

They've conned their way into their jobs, but they are perfectly competent, so not much of a problem, right?  

Then things start to get bizarre.

The Parks are not aware that there is a secret door in the lower kitchen that leads through a maze of tunnels and stairways to a bunker, where the ex-housekeeper's husband Oh Geun-sae (Park Myung-hoon) has been hiding from loan sharks for four years.  He's gone a bit daffy due to isolation.  Well, a lot daffy.

Each group of grifters wants to expose the other's secrets.  There is a lot of slapstick comedy  violence.  Then suddenly the tone shifts, and things get deadly.  A lot of people get brutally murdered.  I'm not sure who -- people who were lying in pools of blood turn up alive later, and people who were stabbed in the shoulder end up kaput.  According to wikipedia, ex-housekeeper, her husband, the Kim daughter, and Mr. Park, but there could have been others.  

I hate it when you're expecting a comedy and you end up with a tragedy, 


Beefcake:
A lot of hunky Korean actors, but no one takes off a shirt.  

Other Sights: The house is a work of art.

Gay Characters: When Min-hyuk suggests the tutoring job, he tells the Kim son, "I know you won't try anything with her."  I interpreted that to mean that Kim Ki-woo was gay, until the kissing begain.

Heterosexism: Rampant frisky hetero-horniness: "let's do it in the kitchen! Pretend that you're the chauffeur...put on daughter's panties...."  

Disgusting Plot Twists: From Benny Hill hijinks to a stage littered with blood-soaked bodies.

My Grade: D-

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