An avenger, a hunter and a comedian: Movies and TV

I stumbled onto the movie ALLEY CAT (1984) while hunting unsuccessfully for Black Cat, a Chinese version of La Femme Nikita. Karin Mani plays a black belt who slaps around a couple of giggling psychos she catches swiping her tires. Their PO’d boss sends them to teach her a lesson, resulting in her grandma dead and her grandfather in hospital; when the legal system proves useless (when Mani stops the psychos raping a woman, a cop busts her as the aggressor), Mani takes justice into her own hands. This is low budget but works pretty well, except the film throws in a women’s prison subplot midway through for extra exploitation value (women showering naked! Lesbian sexual assault!) and it’s a waste of film. A minor point is that Amazon for some reason lists this as a 1969 film — it’s getting way harder than it used to be to figure out film dates, because there are so many sources and they often disagree. “It can’t be blackmail as I have asked for neither money nor a favor.”

Richard Connell’s classic short story The Most Dangerous Game is a classic in which a shipwrecked big-game hunter finds his Russian host, Count Zaroff, has taken to hunting humans to compensate for the ease with which he kills everything else. Zaroff’s the best of the best, but this time he has an adversary who might be his equal.

It’s not easy to successfully expand a short story to feature-film length, but 1932’s THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME pulls it off handily. Produced by Merian C. Cooper at the same time he was making King Kong, this has Joel McCrae as the hunter, Leslie Banks as Zaroff, and Fay Wray as an earlier castaway Zaroff has different plans for (“First the kill — then love!”)! Sharing some of King Kong‘s sets and adding some of its own (Zaroff’s isolated castle is fabulous), this is a good-looking, well-made production, well worth seeing. “If you choose to act as a leopard, I shall hunt you as a leopard.”

The second season of THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL continues in the vein of S1: Midge and Susie continue trying to build Midge’s career, despite having earned the hostility of an influential comic and Midge’s family freaking out when they learn what she’s been doing with her evenings. The season doesn’t entirely work; Abe’s (Tony Shalhoub) career woes get tedious and the family’s trip to Paris, while funny, feels like one an old TV special (season openers would often take the show to Paris or Rome or somewhere to grab extra eyeballs). A prolonged visit to the Catskills’ “borscht belt” (Jewish-friendly resorts in the days when many hotels were No Jews — it’s the same setting as Dirty Dancing, on the other hand, worked quite well. There are also subplots involving Midge’s new boyfriend and Joel trying to figure out his post-divorce life. However I do hope the final scenes of the season ender do not lead in the direction I think they might (but I’m not spoiling them).  “I feel like Sisyphus, but without the loincloth and the flowing hair.”

 

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