Thursday, October 16, 2008

From Harlem To Hong Kong

I have all these old newspaper ads for movies and TV shows on my hard drive, so I might as well toss a few up occasionally. I didn't collect these myself, though I wish I had. Most of them, IIRC, came from the collections of Fred Adelman and Robert Richardson.

The death of Filipino filmmaker Cirio H. Santiago recently drew me to post the ad for BAMBOO GODS & IRON MEN, which played as a 1974 American International Pictures double feature with BATTLE OF THE AMAZONS. I haven't seen AMAZONS, which is an Italian production about an Army of female warriors and is probably quite bad, considering it was directed by the abysmal Alfonso Brescia.

Santiago, the legendary schlock director, was the producer of BAMBOO GODS & IRON MEN, which was directed by Cesar Gallardo. It's a fairly obscure hybrid of two of the 1970s' hottest film fads, blaxploitation and kung fu, that has never received any home video release in the U.S.  Big James Iglehart, memorable as the Ali-like boxer in Russ Meyer's BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS, plays Cal Jefferson, an American boxer honeymooning with his wife (Shirley Washington) in Hong Kong.  He saves a mute Chinese straggler (Chiquito), dubbed "Charlie" by Cal, from drowning. To repay the debt, Charlie becomes the reluctant Cal's slave, and, not taking no for an answer, even follows the couple to Manila.

Meanwhile, a bald mobster is after a leather pouch containing a mystical substance that will help him rule the world. He believes the pouch is stashed inside a cheap sculpture the Jeffersons picked up as a souvenir in Hong Kong.  Much like the glowing briefcase in PULP FICTION, the pouch is merely a McGuffin to get the plot, such as it is, rolling.

I like this fun little movie that gets off to a hilarious start during its opening credits, which features slow-motion scenes of guys kicking the crap out of each other while a funky theme plays.  Iglehart and Washington have a charming and relaxed Nick-and-Nora chemistry between them, and the frequent comic relief doesn't come at the expense of the action, which is plentiful indeed.  It also doesn't overwhelm the comic book plot, which is reasonably resolved. 

Director Gallardo began his career as early as the late 1940s, if the Internet Movie Database is to be believed, but was never as popular in the United States—or the Philippines, for that matter—as Santiago. In fact, Santiago directed James Iglehart the same year in SAVAGE!, a typical Santiago movie that substitutes gun-blazing action and gratuitous nude scenes for plot complexity or astute characterizations.

According to one source that I can't recall (it may be James Robert Parish's BLACK ACTION FILMS), Iglehart (who was sometimes billed as James Inglehart) played for the Pittsburgh Pirates. However, but a glance at the BASEBALL ENCYCLOPEDIA confirms that nobody named "Iglehart", "Inglehart" or "Igleheart" has ever played a single inning in the major leagues. He made just a handful of films, including three for Santiago, two for Russ Meyer and one for producer Jonathan Demme (ANGELS HARD AS THEY COME), but apparently vanished in the late '70s. I don't know whatever happened to Iglehart, but his shortlived drive-in career is worth a mention.

1 comment:

elgringo said...

I love these old ads so damn much.
You should make this a weekly series. Maybe a 2-per-week series.
Also, you've got the coolest blog name.