Saturday, 10 September 2016

kitsch and clowder

Thanks to Poseidon’s Underworld, a blog dedicated to unearthing forgotten cinematic kitsch, we learn about an obscure but star-studded production of a movie called “The Phynx” by Warner Brothers and the Seven Arts, released to only a few venues in 1970.
It sounds wonderfully dreadful and has an equally byzantine storyline (that’s sort of derivative, hoping to maybe capture some the success that operatic productions like the Beatles’ “Help” found with audiences a few years earlier) that seems to be a light-hearted indictment against Communist Albania, who seems to be systematically kidnapping America’s national treasures in order to lower morale in the West and claim them as part of their own culture. Colonel Sanders is abducted and forced to cook for the Albanian First Lady—Marla Gibbs, Butterfly McQueen and countless other personalities are being disappeared as well and pressed into service as celebrities behind the Iron Curtain.
America’s intelligence agencies meet but are unable to agree jurisdictionally how to proceed, previous efforts to infiltrate the country having failed, and so turn to a “super-computer” called MOTHA (Mechanical Oracle That Helps Americans) for advice. MOTHA suggests quite sensibly that they form a boy-band—the eponymous Phynx—whose members are also trained in the arts of espionage, to take Albania and the whole of the Communist Bloc by storm and liberate their captured compatriots. This looks wacky and deranged but I think just for the sheer number of cameo appearances (the actors and/or their roles of the Lone Ranger, Tarzan, singer James Brown, Charo!, choreographer Busby Berkley and Charlie McCarthy—not the leader of the Communist witch-hunt but rather the ventriloquist dummy), the animated interstitials and musical interludes, it might be worthwhile viewing.