Saturday, October 23, 2010

FEARLESS FRANK - Meyer Kupferman - "Holding A Handful Of Smoke" (1967)

"Fearless Frank" is writer/director Phillip Kaufman's # ௨ film! Two is the first magic number, and this one's a humdinger! We're talking about the man who wrote the Indiana Jones movies, and directed the 1978 version of "Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, "The Wanderers," and "The Right Stuff," and is still working today! "Fearless Frank" is a quintessential example of the theory that attests to the fact, that everybody has to start somewhere, and it's a lot of fun to boot! The best reference point I can think of is Jerry Warren's "The Wild World Of Bat Woman," that's how diverse this amazing array of talent is!

I thought this film was unavailable anywhere, but I just found out that "Fearless Frank" streams on Netflix, so just go do that! I didn't know anything about this flick until Professor Grewbeard clued me in, I guess that's why he's The Professor, and I'm just the Cro-Magnon!

The credits roll about 10 minutes into the thing, and they look like something out of a comic book for a good reason. Jon Voight is "Fearless Frank! That's right, it's Angelina's Pappy in his first role, and what a place to start! Country bumpkin Frank has left his Ma & Pa to go to the "Big City," and the poor boy's already went and got himself murdered!

One of the first people Frank meets after he leaves home is The Narrator, the stranger Ken Nordine. Ken Nordine was not in very many movies, but you should be able to recognize that voice! Ken Nordine was born April 13, 1920, and is still kicking! More than anything, Ken is probably best known for his "Word Jazz" records that were recorded in the 50's, and have inspired meat trucks full of Beat style poets and others!

Then Frank lays his eyes on Plethora, and falls in love immediately! Plethora was played by Monique van Vooren, who was Miss Clean in a couple of "Batman" TV shows, the Queen of Skulls in The Decameron, and the Baroness Katrin Frankenstein in Andy Warhol's Frankenstein! She hasn't been in any movies since 1987, but has come back to be in a film set to be released next year called "Secretstone," which is a film directed by Sean Stone, the son of Director Oliver Stone!

Severn Darden plays the role of The Doctor who brings Frank back to life, gives him some new hip threads, and controls him! Severn is no longer around, but he was everything from Psychiatrist J.B. Guggins Jr. in a couple of Monkees episodes to the Rev. Jessie Hovah in "Vanishing Point" and Chief Inspector Kolp in "Conquest of the Planet of the Apes" just to name a few!

The Doctor shows Frank that he now has the power to fly!

Frank is sent out to right wrong, and round up the gang of baddies who killed him. The first one is The Rat, played by one of my favorite 60's comedians, David Steinberg! David has since turned into quite The TV Director, and is quite active today!! Frank now is a superhuman, and disposes of The Rat quite easily!!

This cat is The Cat! Actor Ben Carruthers passed away back in 1983. He was also on board for Kaufman's first flick, "Goldstein," along with Severn Darden, and composer Meyer Kupferman!"

The Cat is just about ready to get it, Bam, right in the kisser!!

Composer Meyer Kupferman was a prolific composer and songwriter. Besides writing symphonies and operas, he also wrote the score for "Black Like Me," "Trilogy," and "Blast Of Silence!"

Almost an empty frame, I love this shot!!

This would be Cinematographer Bill Butler's third movie, he went on to work on some minor low budget titles like "Jaws," "Rocky's II, III, & IV," "Grease" and back with Jon Voight again in 1997 in "Anaconda." Bill was also Cinematographer for the TV movie, "Hendrix!"

The third member of the gang was a guy called Needles, named so because he was doping the horses! The guy playing Needles was Nelson Algren, who was only ever in this one movie, but his very serious claim to fame was as a writer!! He wrote both the classic novels that were made into movies, "The Man With The Golden Arm," and "Walk On The Wild Side!" Nelson also played himself in "Goldstein! "These guys must have had a blast making these movies!!

The 4th member of the gang is Screwnose! You can see him here using his very special talent, too bad Frank was inside the safe waiting for him! Screwnose was played by David Fisher, and it must have had a devastating affect on him, because he didn't act again for almost 30 years, but came back and did quite a bit of TV from 1999 to 2006!

Frank now has all the gang members behind bars, but unfortunately, they escape!!

With Plethora's help, the gang passes gas on this nightclub scene, which freezes the swingers, so they can abscond with all the jewels!

I like this shot of the newly formed gang, cockatiel and all! That's Lou Gilbert as The Boss top left, and Severen Darden in his other role in this film, as Claude! Lou Gilbert was also in "Goldstein!"

The Doctor's daughter Lois is very lonely, and it was inevitable that her and Frank would eventually hook up.......

But it really wasn't supposed to happen!! Lois was portrayed by Joan Darling! Joan Darling was not only an actress, she went on to direct the now classic TV show, "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman," and a lotta others!

Oh, and there's more, a whole lot more, and a complete shift of gears. I think the last shot shown here just about says it all!.....and Be Safe!!


Anonymous said...

Boy, this one looks insane even by 1967 standards - I am there.
I've seen Severn Darden a lot (simply by watching lots of tv some 40 years ago)and my favorite role of his is the good-guy Soviet spy in "The President's Analyst", also from 1967, and also with Joan Darling!

prof. grewbeard said...

hah, i'd forgotten about the Have Fun sign! choice collection of stills! the more people know about this film and the more drugs they take before watching it, the better!...

Eegah!! and Tabonga! said...

I was ignorant before, but now I've seen the light, and I'm blind!!!

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