Tag Archives: Jessica Harper

The Set of 400: #77 – My Favorite Face Plunger

Today! Because I was not myself last night/Couldn’t set things right with apologies or flowers –

Phantom of the Paradise (1974)

Directed by Brian De Palma (x3)

Starring William Finley, Paul Williams (x2), Jessica Harper (x2), Gerrit Graham, George Memmoli, Archie Hahn, Jeffrey Comanor, Peter Elbling

Despite being a lifelong Paul Williams fan – who lands fully three musicals in my top 100, er, 77 films – Phantom of the Paradise didn’t get onto my radar for a very long time. In fact, and in fairness, it probably shouldn’t have even been eligible for this list, as I only first saw it a few years ago, almost certainly since the release cut-off date I used for new movies. But I’m exploiting the loophole wherein that rule only applies to new movies, not when I first saw them, plus it’s my list, and who gives a shit? So welcome to the countdown, Winslow!

I have no good sense of what Phantom of the Paradise‘s place is in the world. I don’t remember ever hearing of it before I saw it – I’m pretty dismissive of De Palma films, even if this is his third appearance on this list – but the fact that this is a full blown Williams musical is more surprising it didn’t come up at some point. And I mean, it is pretty bizarro stuff. This Phantom of the Opera/Faust mash-up, updated for the ’70s, is part parody to be sure, but also part horror movie, as a lot of the goings on are played very seriously, after a point. Plus again, there are like ten songs, which don’t always perfectly fit with the plot or the film in general, as they vary from total Broadway to surf rock, and it’s kind of a low budget affair. So I get the feeling this movie is way off in the cult realm, if anywhere.

The aforementioned face plunger

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The Set of 400: #107 – My Favorite Portable Plot of Land

Today! Because the key here, I think, is to not think of death as an end, but think of it more as a very effective way of cutting down on your expenses – 

Love and Death (1975)

Directed by Woody Allen (x8)

Starring Woody Allen (x6), Diane Keaton (x2), James Tolkan (x4), Jessica Harper, Harold Gould, Olga Georges-Picot, Beth Porter, Zvee Scooler, Aubrey Morris, Tony Jay, Howard Vernon

In the next short stretch, there’s going to be a ton of Woody Allen movies, and I apologize. As I’ve stated many times on this list, yes, I’ve got some reservations about Woody, but you’ve gotta realize how madly I loved this guy’s movies for most of my life. My greater concern as far as the list goes is how many of his films seemed to land in this general area. In the next month there are fully four films, including this one. That may seem like a lot, but going back to lists from years prior, this more represents a sliding of his films than some dominated bunching. He’s only got one movie in the top 85. It’s a 1992 situation all over again! Lots of films, not a ton populating the top rungs of the evaluation!

Also, the rare white cloak variation on Death!

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