Saturday, July 14, 2018

Taking A Break...But Come See Me At Letterboxd

Hello, all.

Johnny LaRue's Crane Shot has been in service since the end of 2004, first on Tripod, then here at Blogger. Originally I blogged about a variety of subjects, including politics and events in my own life. The blog eventually shifted to books/television/film, but over the past couple of years, it has been strictly film, for the most part.

Because I post regular reviews over at Letterboxed, it has seemed like an extra burden to post both there and here, particularly since I update this blog much less frequently.

So for now, I'm going to take a break from Johnny LaRue's Crane Shot. Whether it ever resumes, I just can't say right now. I will leave it standing, in case you'd like to find any old writings. But if you are interested in my film reviews, please see me over at Letterboxd, where I post something about at least 95% of the movies that I see. You don't have to "join" Letterboxd to follow me, and you can easily add my Letterboxd RSS feed to your reader.

Thank all of your for reading and commenting over the years. I hope to see you again soon.

Friday, July 06, 2018

Night Slaves

Robert Specht (THE IMMORTAL) and Everett Chambers (COLUMBO) adapted Jerry Sohl’s 1965 Gold Medal novel NIGHT SLAVES, which was marketed as science fiction, but really isn’t. Specht and Chambers wisely dumped Sohl’s frustrating ending, but otherwise left the main plot intact. Clay (James Franciscus) and Marjorie (Lee Grant) Howard are an estranged married couple on vacation while Clay recuperates from a serious auto accident.

They visit a sleepy little town that seems normal enough. By day, at least, everybody is abnormally exhausted. At night, everyone turns into a zombie, files into trucks, and heads out of town. They always return by daylight, and nobody has any memory of the night before. Only Clay is unaffected, and nobody — especially Marjorie, who thinks the accident has scrambled Clay’s brain — believes his story.

Director Ted Post’s TWILIGHT ZONE experience came in handy when presenting NIGHT SLAVES’ off-kilter scenario of paranoia and the fear of losing one’s identity. Is Clay slipping into madness, as his wife fears, or is something spooky — and possibly otherworldly — happening in little Eldrid, California? Franciscus’ nicely modulated performance makes Clay a relatable protagonist, though the love story between Clay and a mysterious young woman played by Tisha Sterling (COOGAN’S BLUFF) is unbelievable with a treacly wrap-up (I didn’t buy it in the book either).

Sohl had no problem with the changed ending and spoke highly of the film in interviews. Shooting on the Warners backlot gives NIGHT SLAVES an artificiality that harms the story. Clay’s fear is based on not knowing what is real, but in an obviously fake western town, nothing is real. However, Post’s thoughtful unraveling of the mystery and Franciscus’ sympathetic performance work well enough to get NIGHT SLAVES past its shortcomings.