Tuesday, 27 July 2021

My 2000th Blog Post

Missed Opportunities

My 2000th Blog Post


So here I am on my 2000th Blog Post already. I wanted to do something different for this but, I didn’t have anything I could pull out of my hat that I hadn’t already done before so I had nothing really prepared for this moment. I even did an online search to see what other people do for ‘special occasion’ blogs and what the ‘on blog celebration’ ideas might be but, some of them I’ve already done, some of them were just ridiculous and the one which I’d already wanted to do... which is to give away a big prize or something... well, I’m sorry but I don’t have a budget for that kind of stuff right now.

So, I’m sticking to my usual ‘post numbers blog’ format and doing something which isn’t a review and this time it’s... okay, well I have a love/hate (mostly hate) relationship with list articles but, yeah, this is kind of a list... I’d love it if some movie producer just stumbled on this one and got some ideas from it (like that would ever happen). What it is, is a list of ten cool characters who have appeared in movies either only once or, in the case of one of them here, a number of times in one-off attempts to get the character restarted... who really should have become running characters in a series of movies. I think the movie industry should maybe take a look at some of the characters on this list, many of whom could easily be played by the same acting talent in a number of sequels, because I really think these are missed opportunities in terms of creations who have a lot of legs and fictional people who I would love to see more movies made about.

There’s no ranking involved here... there’s no one character from this list of movie juggernauts (in my eyes) who need consideration over the others... I think all of these people deserve another shot at being turned into a franchise. So the order here is just alphabetical, as dictated by the first name of each character (in the case of all but one... you’ll know it when you see it). So, yeah, Happy 2000th to me, NUTS4R2 and, I hope you have an interesting time reading this. In the case of most of those listed here, if you’ve not seen the films in which they appear in some cases, maybe you should take a look at them because these characters are really cool. Most of these are reviewed here so, in most cases, if you click on the title of the movie in the subheading, it should take you into my review of the original film.

Clark Savage Jr
Doc Savage, 1975

Okay, so if you’re a longtime reader of this blog you’ll know of my love of the Doc Savage novels, kick started by seeing this movie in the cinema in 1975. This is a character who starred in over 180 original novels, published initially in the pulp magazines between 1933 and 1949, under the magazine pseudonym Kenneth Robeson (although almost all of these were written by Lester Dent) and then augmented over the years with new stories by the likes of Philip Jose Farmer and Will Murray. It’s a crime that only one movie has ever been made about him, starring Ron Ely and based on the first novel The Man Of Bronze. There should have at least been a 1930s serial based on this character and it’s terrible that I live in a universe where this didn’t happen. There was an attempt to get a movie made starring Chuck Connor’s as the character in the 1960s and you can read about what happened to that production here in my review of the Gold Key comic based on the unfilmed script. Doc has been picked up a few times over the last decade or so but still no movement on getting another film series of Clark’s 1930s adventures in sight. This needs to change.

Eden Sinclair
Doomsday,  2008

Rhona Mitra played special trooper Eden Sinclair in this post-apocaylyptic blend of Mad Max 2 and Escape From New York, where a wall has been put up outside Scotland to keep a lethal virus out of the UK. Many years later, Sinclair leads a team into what’s left of Scotland, to try and bring out a cure which might possibly be there. She’s a great character who has a bionic eye which she can take out and roll around so she can see around corners etc. I’d love to see another movie using this character and Mitra shows just how good she is at playing these kinds of roles.

Florence Cathcart
The Awakening, 2011

Florence Cathcart is a professional sceptic and debunker of the supernatural, until she runs head on into it, of course, in the supernatural thriller The Awakening. When we meet her, she’s played by the great Rebecca Hall and she’s both a tough as nails but also a fairly vulnerable character to throw into the deep end of the spiritual realm. As the film continues, a certain gift for channeling the spirits is exhibited in the character... even though she doesn’t realise it for a long time (although I’m pretty sure most of the audience will figure out just what that special talent is from very early on in the movie). I’d love to see more films where the previously sceptical Cathcart is involved in adventures in the realm of the supernatural, while trying to find a more explicable cause for them. And I’d love to see Rebecca Hall back in the part now (wow, is it ten years ago already since this one came out?).

Gary Seven
Star Trek - Season Two: Assignment Earth, 1968

Gary Seven was a human(ish) secret agent from Earth’s far future who was sent back in time to 1968 to find out why two other ‘time agents’ have failed to report in to his superiors... which is where he encounters Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise, also somewhat misplaced in time. Robert Lansing played Gary Seven and this episode was originally intended as a pilot for a proper full on Gary Seven TV show but, presumably, wasn’t taken up by the studio. He had a sonic screwdriver-like device and a highly intelligent, shape changing cat of dubious origin. The episode also featured actress Terri Garr as someone who was obviously going to carry on as Seven’s new human assistant... you might remember her from such films as Close Encounters Of The Third Kind and Young Frankenstein. Although Lansing is long dead, I’d love to see the full TV series in development sometime with a bright, young star in the role.

It Follows, 2014

Well, I didn’t know what to call this demonic, sexual curse creature but, in some ways, I guess you can imply it’s an ‘It’ from the title, right? This was a big hit horror film when it came out seven years ago and I have no idea why we don’t have at least one sequel to it already... not to mention a franchise. It doesn’t even have to be populated by the same characters as in the first film, obviously, since the sexual chain that 'It' has to kill in descending order can be carried on for anyone, assuming the creature didn’t die at the end of the film... it’s kind of implied that there’s a possibility it’s still out there, still following the chain of sexual encounters back to their centre of origin.

Jerry Cornelius
The Final Programme, 1973

Michael Moorcock’s notorious and changeable Jerry Cornelius character has really only been in one film proper, Robert Feust’s poorly received (at the time) but absolutely incredible The Final Programme. There are a number of stories which could be easily adapted for cinema and, also, some which would not be that easy to adapt (although I believe a couple of them could be cross pollinated as a double adaptation if you wanted to go down that route). Moorcock himself hates this movie but I think it captures the character quite well in the snapshot of the first novel it’s trying to achieve (albeit with a whole load of stuff missed out but... that’s the nature of the medium). Jon Finch did a fine job of bringing Mr. C to life and I think the character, who is supposed to look somewhat like Mick Jagger, could easily be re-tapped for some more ‘truer-to-Moorcock’ on-screen adventures with someone like David Tennant in the role.

John Carter
Princess Of Mars, 2009
John Carter, 2012

I’ve still not seen the decidedly dodgy (by all reports), budget inadequate, 2009 straight to video, very loose adaptation of A Princess Of Mars (aka Under The Moons Of Mars) by Edgar Rice Burroughs but... I’ll get around to it (however much I’m dreading it). I love Burroughs’ series of Martian novels, many of which are headed up by either John Carter, former cavalry man and future Warlord Of Mars or his son Carthoris. The 2012 movie John Carter, starring Taylor Kitsch as the character, was not without two glaring problems... the fact that they wrote in a more scientific way of travelling between worlds rather than the accidental ‘astral projection’ of the novel and, also, the fact that the Martians in the movie wear clothes... but overall it was a pretty great movie and it was just badly marketed. This film deserved at least a couple of sequels and the character is in desperate need of a reboot... which probably won’t happen now due to the poor box office of the 2012 version.

Lilith Silver
Razor Blade Smile, 1998

Jake West’s truly brilliant movie Razor Blade Smile highlights main character Lilith Silver, as played by Eileen Daly. She’s a vampire living in modern times who has been around since she was ‘turned’ sometime in the 19th Century and who is in the thick of it against an evil cult who intend her harm. The film has a marvellous twist to it and it makes it very easy to do any number of sequels. Lilith has a lot of personality (almost like a female version of Jerry Cornelius, see above) and it shines amidst a wonderful atmosphere of blood, nudity and gore. I’d love to see more movies made about this character but, for right now, I’d settle for a decent Blu Ray transfer of this thing by some smart UK label... more people should know about this movie and character. I’m surprised there have been no comic books.

Modesty Blaise
Modesty Blaise, 1966
Modesty Blaise, 1982
My Name Is Modesty, 2004

Peter O’ Donnel’s absolutely brilliant newspaper strip character ran for a long time and, more importantly, was in a string of novels written by him which are absolutely first class ‘ex-head of crime network turns espionage queen’ novels. There have been three attempts to capture the character on screen so far and, each one has had some real problems. The first of these was the Jospeph Losey movie Modesty Blaise, which starred Monica Vitti in the title role. It’s a fantastic film if you can divorce it from the source material but, although it’s based on the first novel, it completely fails to capture the tone of the stories and instead turns it into a comedy. Monica Vitti looks perfect as Modesty... in one scene where she has her trademark black, skin tight jump suit and her dark hair... but looks completely unlike the character for the majority of the film. I can see why O’Donnell hated this one and all subsequent attempts to put her on the screen. The second attempt, Modesty Blaise in 1982, was a failed TV pilot movie and, although I haven’t seen it, the clips I have seen tell you all you need to know as to why it failed. The producers have tried to turn her into something which completely fails, again, to capture the character of the stories. I have recently come into a ‘print’ of this to watch at some stage for the blog but... I’ve not been brave enough yet to unleash that disappointment on myself. In 2004, Quentin Tarantino (who had featured a later edition of the first novel in Pulp Fiction), produced another low budget venture with My Name Is Modesty but, once again, failed to deliver the goods. Although, he and the director really made a rod for their own backs on this by making it an origin story, of sorts, so the only character from the actual stories in this one was a very young version of Modesty herself. O’ Donnel is dead now so I presume the rights to the character may well be on the market again and, seriously, we need someone to do a proper Modesty Blaise franchise of movies... especially since the actress Gal Gadot is an absolutely perfect fit for the character. This needs to happen and someone should tell her she’s perfect for this.

Scarlett Marlowe
As Above, So Below, 2014
Scarlett Marlowe is the young, rogue archaeologist who is the central protagonist in the ‘gates of hell found under the catacombs of Paris’ movie As Above So Below, as played by Perdita Weeks. She’s gutsy, persistent and unflappable... even in the face of being pursued by supernatural demons. It’s an under seen belter of the ‘found footage’ horror cycle and the ending of the film leaves it wide open for us to join the character in another adventure... presumably along the lines of a ‘horror movie meets Lara Croft’ style series of films. I would love to see her further adventures but, like the Florence Cathcart character from The Awakening (as mentioned above) the movie was presumably planned as a one off adventure and, I wish the producers would see the potential of expanding the character out into other adventures.

And that’s me done on the under appreciated, under used characters of film and television over the years... at least as I see them. I think all of the above could be mined for box office gold if done right and the fact that they haven’t been is a real head scratcher to me. Anyway, that’s 2000 posts published and... more reviews to follow. Thanks for reading.

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