A. Loudermilk’s Guide to Movies with Personality

The new wave cult classic Liquid Sky (1982) is finally available on DVD (Blu-ray)—from Vinegar Syndrome: Cult Film Preservation & Releasing. Look for Paula E. Sheppard singing “Me and My Rhythm Box.” She stars in only one other movie, a cult classic titled Alice, Sweet Alice (1976) (see Horror A-L) in which she plays bad seed Alice.

Clip from Liquid Sky: “Me and My Rhythm Box”

In terms of inspiring the quirkiest killers in horror, Charles Manson (1934-2017) and Ed Gein (1906-1984) rule supreme. My high school psychology teacher showed the mini-series Helter Skelter to fill up some days and I am still grateful. Steve Railsback is Manson for me as much as Manson is himself, pictured below with George DiCenzo as Vincent Bugliosi, the Los Angeles district attorney who wrote the book Helter Skelter.

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Railsback went on to spearhead and star as Ed Gein in an underrated 2000 horror indie titled In the Light of the Moon a/k/a Ed Gein costarring Carrie Snodgrass. 

Dinner Party: 2017 virtual reality version of the famous Betty and Barney Hill alien-abduction case. For more about the film based on the case, starring Estelle Parsons and James Earl Jones, see The UFO Incident (1975).

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Recommended documentary: Mommy Dead and Dearest (2017, dir. Erin Lee Carr)

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Remembering the incomparable Pat Ast: From being a Warhol star to a bad girl in Donna Summers “Bad Girls” video, Ast possessed both comic quirks and gutter grit. Here she is with Joe Dallesandro (in Warhols Heat from 1972), with Wendy O. Williams (in Reform School Girls from 1986), and in a candid snapshot with Shelley Duvall. For more Saints and Anti-Heroes of Quirky Cinema, see the Saints of the Quirky page.

A Hero Among Zombies, George A. Romero (February 4, 1940 – July 16, 2017) and a Genius with Psychos, Tobe Hooper (January 25, 1943 – August 26, 2017)

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Bela Lugosi (with quote) and Oscar-winning Martin Landau (June 20, 1928 – July 15, 2017) as Lugosi in Tim Burtons film Ed Wood (1994); Landau also known for TV’s Mission: Impossible (1966–1969), Woody Allens Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989), and the horror/sci-fi obscurity Without Warning (1980)

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Please visit my companion website QUIRKY ACTORS, a photo blog starring over 300 quirky, obscure, supporting, or lesser-known actors, from both classic Hollywood and modern-day eras, many of them admired throughout QUIRKY CINEMAs hundreds of entries. Plus find a hardy page dedicated to classic era actors parodied in cartoons of the era as well as a nostalgic page dedicated to retro television actors.

 A. Loudermilk’s QUIRKY ACTORS Photo Blog

The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson (2017, dir. David France): A difficult and gritty (true crime) yet spirited and hopeful (social justice) documentary about the transwomen who figured significantly in the Stonewall Riots.

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The original adaptation of Thomas P. Cullinan’s Civil War-era novel The Beguiled (1971, dir. Don Siegel) starred Geraldine Page, Clint Eastwood, Elizabeth Hartman, Mae Mercer

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PopMatters

Dame Margaret Rutherford as Miss Prism, with Dame Edith Evans, in The Importance of Being Earnest (1952); and as eccentric medium Madame Arcati in Blithe Spirit (1945)

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Danny Perez’s Antibirth (2016) featuring Natasha Lyonne, Chloë Sevigny, and Meg Tilly:  gritty gyno-horror comedy with lots of gross-out splatter

11/9/2016: Had to tune out the election results to watch heroic Marie Dressler as a Depression-era Lysistrata in the pre-Code comedy Politics (1931); the film opens with the statement: “This story is dedicated to women—who have been fighting for their rights ever since Adam and Eve started the loose-leaf system.”
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Alexis Arquette (July 28, 1969 – September 11, 2016), as Georgette in Last Exit to Brooklyn (1989) and promoting Killer Drag Queens on Dope (2003):

Tickled (2016), dirs. David Farrier, Dylan Reeve

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Gene Wilder (June 11, 1933 – August 29, 2016)Geneheader_GettyImages-71494838-1024x631

Laurel and Hardy in Thats My Wife (1929)

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The Stepford Wives (1975)

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Any quirk is quirk too much…in Stepford, Connecticut

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My review of Antonia’s Line (1993) for PopMatters

The escaped lunatic in DW Griffith’s _The House of Darkness_ (1913)

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Woman in White (1917)

Home Before Dark (1958)

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Emily (Mariclare Costello) and Jessica (Zohra Lampert) in Let’s Scare Jessica To Death (1971)

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My article in PopMatters “mak[ing] the case for the recently-escaped-or-released-mental-patient narrative as its own subgenre, replete with a language of recurring themes, plot devices, and character archetypes.”

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“…32 Films That Begin With Someone Leaving a Mental Institution (1904-2012)”

Screengrab from Strait-Jacket (1964)

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“To Gong or Not To Gong The Gong Show Movie?” by A. Loudermilk

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How a major TV phenomenon inspired a flop film

Harper Lee (April 28, 1926 – February 19, 2016) with Mary Badham who played Scout in the classic adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird; also Jem (Phillip Alford) and Dill (John Megna)

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>>> NEW ENTRIES TO QUIRKY CINEMA >>>

CLASSIC ERA: Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), Autumn Leaves (1956), Gildersleeve on Broadway (1943), Hands Across the Table (1935), It! (1966), Ladies in Retirement (1941), Ma & Pa Kettle (1949), The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker (1959), Seventh Victim (1943) >>> COMEDY/DRAMA: Bagdad Cafe (1987), [Andy Warhol’s] Flesh (1968), [Andy Warhol’s] Heat (1972), [Cheech and Chong’s] Nice Dreams (1981), The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader Murdering Mom (1993), Prairie Love (2011), Thundercrack! (1975), [Andy Warhol’s] Trash (1970), The Watermelon Woman (1996) >>> DOCUMENTARY: American Scary (2006), Carmen Miranda: Bananas Is My Business (1995), Jefftowne (1998), Rabbit Hash: The Center of the Universe (2004), Tell Them Who You Are (2004) >>> HORROR: Babadook (2014), House by the Cemetery (1981), Legend of Boggy Creek (1972), Screamplay (1985), Willard (1971), Willard (2003) >>>

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The Babadook (2014)

by director Jennifer Kent (pictured), based on her short film Monster from 2005

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The board game on the big screen, Clue (1985) with Eileen Brennan (Mrs. Peacock), Tim Curry (Wadsworth), Madeline Kahn (Mrs. White), Christopher Lloyd (Professor Plum), Michael McKean (Mr. Green), Martin Mull (Colonel Mustard), and Lesley Ann Warren (Miss Scarlet)

“You’re as funny as a cry for help.” Obscure comedic actor Jody Gilbert to W.C. Fields in the memorable diner sketch in Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941). Look for her as well in Shadow of the Thin Man (also 1941), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), and Willard (1972).

Diner Sketch

American and Czech posters for Hal Ashby’s cult classic Being There (1970) starring Peter Sellers

Bryan Forbes’ stylish classic Seance on a Wet Afternoon (1964)

starring Kim Stanley and Richard Attenborough

   

Tammy (2014)

Patricia Collinge in Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt (1943)

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Susan Tyrrell (1945-2012), a Saint of the Quirky

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The Boulting Brothers’ Twisted Nerve (1968)

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Check out Bernard Hermann’s classic score: Twisted Nerve, Theme

Housebound (2014)

Video for Miss Jeannie Holliman’s “D.U.I. Blues,” from the documentary Mule Skinner Blues (2001)

D.U.I. Blues

>>> NEW ENTRIES TO QUIRKY CINEMA >>>

CLASSIC ERA: Doll Face (1945), Home Sweet Homicide (1942), I Remember Mama (1948), Life with Father (1947), Purlie Victorious a/k/a Gone Are the Days! (1963), Séance on a Wet Afternoon (1964), Three Cornered Moon (1933), Whistle Down the Wind (1961) >>> COMEDY/DRAMA: Blues for Willadean (2012), The Future (2011), The Gong Show Movie (1980), The GoodTimesKid (2005), A New Leaf (1971), Paper Moon (1973), Willy/Milly a/k/a Something Special a/k/a I Was a Teenage Boy (1986) >>> DOCUMENTARY: The Atomic Café (1982), Blank City (2010), Finding Vivian Maier (2013), The Punk Singer (2014), Who Took Johnny (2013) >>> HORROR: Motel Hell (1980), 976-Evil (1988), Paperhouse (1988), Phase IV (1974), Q: The Winged Serpent (1982), The Sender (1982), Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things (1971), Tourist Trap (1979), Two Thousand Maniacs! (1964), Werewolf of Washington (1973), What’s the Matter with Helen? (1971) >>>

Finding Vivian Maier (2013)

Elsa Lanchester is a saint in the scheme of the Quirky, along with her husband Charles Laughton. She’s known most for playing the Bride in Bride of Frankenstein (1932), wife #4 in Private Life of Henry VIII (1933), Aunt Queenie in Bell, Book and Candle (1958), Katie Nanna in Mary Poppins (1964), the domineering mom in Willard (1971), and Jessica Marbles in Murder by Death (1976). My February 2014 article on Elsa Lanchester and songwriter Forman Brown focuses on their time with the queer and eccentric Turnabout Theatre. Read Online: Polari. Also see Turnabout: The Story of the Yale Puppeteers (1992, dir. Dan Bessie) in Documentaries (M-Z).

Polari

Philip Seymour Hoffman (1967 – 2014)

Still waiting for the Zellner Brothers’ Kid-Thing (2012) to be released on DVD

A 2012 movie from the director of Sordid Lives (2000), released on DVD in February 2014

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Viña Delmar (1903 – 1990) wrote the Oscar-winning comedy The Awful Truth (1937) as well as the heartbreaking drama Make Way for Tomorrow the same year, both for director Leo McCarey

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The Mad Room (1969) directed by Bernard Girard,

a remake of Charles Vidor’s gothic-noir classic Ladies in Retirement (1941)

Algonquinite humorist Robert Benchley may not have originated the mockumentary but he was the first to popularize it. His many one-reelers are collected on DVD though hard to found. Try YouTube. Perhaps begin with “How to Sleep” (which one an Oscar) or “The Sex Life of the Polyp.” See entry on How To Sleep: Robert Benchley’s Miniatures in Classic Era (A-L).

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      Steve Buscemi b+w portrait by James Dimmock

A fashion-focused montage of clips from the otherwise impossible to find German film It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Society in Which He Lives (1971); directed by Rosa von Praunheim

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It Is Not the Homosexual

Christopher Guest as Corky St. Clair in Waiting for Guffman (1996) showing us his Remains of the Day lunchbox

Jennifer Coolidge and Patrick Cranshaw in Christopher Guest’s Best in Show (2000)

Jimmy Stewart, Thelma Ritter

From the Mike Leigh classic High Hopes (1988) with Philip Davis and Ruth Sheen

Roddy McDowall reads the stories of H.P. Lovecraft. Click link below to hear “The Outsider”

“The Outsider”

A true and enduring cult classic documentary The Atomic Cafe (1982)

For comics fans, a heroic tale: Miss Robin Hood (1952) with Margaret Rutherford, Richard Hearne (see Classic Era M-Z)

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Bill and Coo (1948): Movie starring birds dressed as humans with a plot reflecting wartime fears and pushing patriotism; the tiny set won a special Academy Award

Bill and Coo (Full-length Movie)

Pages from a Pop Culture Scrapbook I started in 1987

My article in Polari on female impersonator Charles Pierce, the most famous Bette Davis impersonator in the world and supporting player in the film adaptation of Torch Song Trilogy (1988); there’s a link to Pierce’s one-person show, Legendary Ladies of the Silver Screen, at the bottom of the article

Polari

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Misleading poster for the nearly impossible to find 1967 thriller Our Mother’s House with Pamela Franklin and Dirk Bogarde. From Jack Clayton, the director of The Innocents (1961) and The Pumpkin Eater (1964). Links below to trailer and Georges Delerue’s theme.

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Our Mother’s House (Trailer)

Our Mother’s House (Theme Song)

Agnes Moorehead in Orson Welles’ The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)

Still not available on DVD in the US: The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds (1972)

Here’s a link to Caglar Juan Singletary’s song-poem titled “Non-Violent TaeKwonDo Troopers” as featured in Jamie Meltzer’s highly recommended documentary Off the Charts: The Song-Poem Story (2003)

Singletary’s Song-Poem

This 2012 documentary is required viewing for fans of Cinema with Personality and film buffs generally

About UK poet Stevie Smith (1978); see entry in Comedy/Drama (M-Z)

Quirky actor of note: Dick Shawn gave voice to Snow Miser from A Year Without a Santa Claus (1974) and had memorable roles in movies like The Producers (1968) and the first Angel movie (1984). In 1987, he suffered a heart attack onstage while performing his act and died. He was 63-years-old. Check out my entry on his suicidal mockumentary Good-bye Cruel World (1983) in Comedy/Drama (A-L).

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The Secret Garden (1949) with Brian Roper, Dean Stockwell, Margaret O’Brien

Lucio Fulci classics

Shirley Valentine (1989) starring Pauline Collins

I really loved the manservant character in A New Leaf played by George Rose and had a vague memory of reading about him as an obscure gay icon who was murdered by his own recently adopted son. For more on the tragedy, see The Killing of Mr George

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Went from a rather dry documentary, Kraftwerk and the Electronic Revolution (2008), to an Indonesian jungle-cannibal flick Savage Terror (1980) with opening theme song being, of all things, Kraftwerk’s “We Are the Robots.” Thank ye gods of psychotronic cinema for another unpredictable thrill!

Moviegoers could see the ghosts even without the gimmick Ghost Viewer, of course, which allowed William Castle’s delightful 13 Ghosts (1960) to be aired on TV over the years

Illusion-O Viewer

Ray Bradbury’s: The Electric Grandmother (1982) with Maureen Stapleton: A quirky family film that’s perfect for a winter afternoon (60 minutes and, sadly, hard to find)

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House of Psychotic Women program playing at 92YTribeca

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A young Carol Kane

A very young Carol Kane

The much loved gay character Lindy (played by Antonio Fargas) added a queer kind of quirk to the cult classic Car Wash (1979). Censors cut Lindy out of the movie altogether when Car Wash aired on TV, robbing viewers of the movie’s most famous line, delivered with dignified sass (link below).

Scene from Car Wash

Ruth Gordon at four looking 40; Ruth Gordon by Al Hirschfield looking kid-like:

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Fall from Grace (1990)

Virginia O’Brien (1919-2001), quirky vocalist known as “Miss Red Hot Frozen Face” wowed audiences in MGM musicals like The Big Store (1941) with the Marx Brothers and Panama Hattie (1942); see link below

Virginia O’Brien “Rock-a-Bye Baby”

Posters for two movies by the Duplass Brothers

Frequent butler, Eric Blore, here in Picadilly Jim (1936)

Watch clip with E.E. Horton and Eric Blore from Shall We Dance (1937)

Thora Birch as Enid in Terry Zwigoff’s Ghost World (2001)

Judy Garland

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The Amazing Delores

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Please see Documentary A-Z and Jacob Young: Contributions to Different Drummer (1987-92) for details concerning the Amazing Delores documentary

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)

“A scathingly brilliant idea”: The Trouble with Angels (1966) featuring June Harding and Hayley Mills

A scathingly brilliant idea

Michael Redgrave and friend in the original horror anthology film Dead of Night (1945)

Dead of Night (1945)

Strangers in Good Company a/k/a The Company of Strangers (1990)

Girl Stroke Boy (1971)

Revenge of Bigfoot (1979) starring Rory Calhoun, so obscure even I can’t find a copy: “An Indian moves in with a friendly rancher and a local bigot tries to run the Indian out of town. A bigfoot monster gets in his way” (IMDb)

Eating Raoul (1982) with indie legends Paul Bartel and Mary Woronov

EATING RAOUL, Mary Woronov, Paul Bartel, 1982, TM & Copyright (c) 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All ri

Pedro Almodóvar’s High Heels (1991), starring Victoria Abril and Marisa Paredes, with Almodóvar center

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The Baby (1973): A campy nightmare of female power

ZaSu Pitts and Thelma Todd in On The Loose (1931)

ZaSu Pitts and Thelma Todd in On The Loose (1931)

Two actors who can be found throughout the Classic Era sections are Patsy Kelly (Movie Struck a/k/a Pick a Star, My Son the Hero, Nobody’s Baby, Pigskin Parade, Road Show, Topper Returns) and Zasu Pitts (Dames, Life with Father, Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch, So’s Your Aunt Emma! a/k/a Meet the Mob). Patsy Kelly was iconic enough to become the subject of a so-called Tijuana Bible. As for Zasu Pitts, her candy recipes were published posthumously as a book called Candy Hits by Zasu Pitts.

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Paul Dano

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Nick and Nora Charles (William Powell and Myrna Loy) of the Thin Man film-series:

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My essay on stalker movies from a sissy point of view, at BRIGHT LIGHTS FILM JOURNAL:

“Last to Leave the Theater: Sissy Spectatorship of Stalker Movies and the ‘Final Girls’ Who Survive Them”

 Aline MacMahon and Guy Kibbee in Babbit (1934)

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Brother Boy (Leslie Jordan) in Sordid Lives (2000)

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from It Should Happen to You (1954) starring Judy Holliday as Gladys Glover

Tugboat Annie (1933)

Quirky actor extraordinaire Marie Dressler incognito

Click here to see clip of Marie Dressler in Dangerous Females

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Thank you for visiting my website. Enjoy the individual reference sections:  

Comedy/Drama,  Classic Era Comedy/Drama,  Horror/Thriller/Psychodrama,  Documentary

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The marquee of the movie theater in my hometown in southern Illinois, and an old newspaper ad

Legal Notice: This is an online reference guide. All the writing is by me, A. Loudermilk. I do not, however, own copyrights for any of the images. They are offered in the spirit of education, film studies, and cultural criticism. If you own the copyright of a certain image and wish it removed, leave a comment below.

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Clue

Comedy/Drama: 129

Classic Era Comedy/Drama: 139

Documentary: 133

Horror/Thriller/Psychodrama: 128

Total Number of Film Entries (all written by A. Loudermilk) as of Summer 2017: 529

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