The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
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by Jesse Walker

Wednesday, May 14, 2003
MOVIES MOVIES MOVIES: Another roundup of movies I've either seen recently or am just now getting around to describing:

Johnny Learns His Manners (Charles McGirl, 1946): A while back I
mentioned a classroom movie they showed us every year at Glenwood Elementary School, in which a little boy named Johnny is so rude that he turns into a pig. I've since learned that this film is called Johnny Learns His Manners, that it was released in 1968, and -- most oddly -- that it's a remake. The original movie (available online) isn't quite as weird as the '60s version, but it tells the same basic story and is filmed in an entertainingly low-budget manner: as a series of hand-drawn still shots that only occasionally seem to move, with a narrator who plays all the parts himself.

The Star Wars Holiday Special (Steve Binder, 1978): Speaking of elementary school: For years I half-remembered the other kids at Glenwood going on about a Star Wars Christmas special. For years I assumed that I had either imagined this or completely misunderstood what they were saying. Then, in 2000, I found a bootleg copy and watched it, mouth agape.

The show is gloriously, hilariously bad. Somehow they managed to bring in most of the cast of the original movie, yet the picture itself is directed on the Ed Wood level. It's over 90 minutes long, with much padding devoted to matters such as domestic life among the wookies (there is a long, preternaturally dull sequence of Chewbacca's wife watching a cooking show) -- and, in what is surely one of the most disturbing sequences ever aired on television, some asexual virtual-reality wookie porn.

I thought I was going to be able to get through the tape without hitting fast-forward, but then special guest star Bea Arthur started to sing...

Shaft (John Singleton, 2000): There's things I like about this movie, and there's things I don't. If you draw just one lesson from it, let it be this: Samuel L. Jackson is one bad motherfucker.

posted by Jesse 11:38 AM
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