A Jabootu Sponsor’s Pick
Note: This is pretty much the third of three related articles. For this to make any sense at all, start here.
It was with a sense of impending closure that I slid the rental DVD into my player. I was at long last about to confront the film Jabootu’s final sponsor, Katherine Evans, had requested so very, very long ago. Soon, I knew, I would be able to die in peace.*[*Well, except for that Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park review I owed going back even further. But, hey, one thing at a time. Plus, it would help if I could remember who I owed that to. Man, that was a loooong time ago. Still, why can’t I find my e-mails?]
Normally, I don’t give a movie a look before I review it. In this case, however, I decided to scan through the thing, just to get a sense of how much it was composed of Planeta Bur. And it was only at this, just as I thought the end was before me, that the magnitude of my mendacity and folly crashed down upon me.
Katherine had, in the beginning (and it was long enough ago that it was very nearly ‘in the beginning’) asked but one thing for her hard-earned money. She asked me to review something called Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women. When she mentioned it starred Mamie Van Doren, I was caught off guard, both surprised and intrigued.
As noted previously, I hadn’t even been aware of the film. I’d undoubtedly seen the title before while reading through hundreds of books and thousands of magazines on genre movies. However, it remained hidden from me, like Frodo stumbling beneath the gaze of Sauron, camouflaged amongst such similar monikers as Prehistoric Women (two of those), Women of the Prehistoric Planet and Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet. Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women was the Purloined Letter of movie titles.
Whilst scanning through the film, however, I was struck by a horrible realization. By insisting (at her expense!) on reviewing the movie as a derivation of Planeta Bur, I realized I could no longer review her choice as requested. Katherine had wanted a review of a stand-alone movie, which is how she had known it. Having imbibed of Planeta Bur and Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet, however, I was unable to deliver such a thing. I could no longer view this thing as a work unto itself, but only as the final part of a larger entity. I thought I was putting a debt behind me. Instead, I had merely incurred another.
I presented these facts to Katherine, and she’s picked an alternate subject. Until I review that, my obligation remains. I wear the chain I forged in idleness. I made it link by link and yard by yard; I girded it of my own free will.
So watch for a review of Attack of the Supermonsters soon. Well, fairly soon. Really. I swear.
We open with narration. This momentarily led me to wonder whether the film would perhaps overdub Planeta Bur a second time. By which I mean, insert entirely new dialogue meant to foist a brand new plot on the original footage, ala What’s Up, Tiger Lilly? However, I soon realized that wouldn’t be the case. With Roger Corman being the producer, why would it? His company had already paid to redub Planeta Bur once, when it was turned into Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet. Dubbing it all over again would cost money. Not much, admittedly, but money nonetheless.
In any case, the fellow charged with the unenviable task of turning this cinematic twice-baked potato into an edible meal was Peter Bogdanovich. Like many nascent directors in Corman’s stable, Bogdanovich worked his way up the production ladder by dint of his talent, passion, and willingness to work for basically nothing.
Bogdanovich’s main obstacle was to mitigate the fact that much of his ‘film’ had been released as another ‘film’ just three years earlier. As such, he strove to switch things up as much as possible while laboring under Corman’s notorious budgetary constraints. I appreciate his efforts in this regard. However, apparently one of the only things he could afford was a large chunk of aerospace museum stock footage. Hence shots of various display models are accompanied by some portentously delivered narration.
“The future of Mankind is being guided behind closed doors. [A vault door pulls open to reveal a model of some lunar exploration equipment.] All over the world, scientists are working on projects designed to take man beyond the confines of this Earth. You are looking at the actual models of spacecraft now being developed [er, yeah] by agencies of the United States Government. This is an Apollo spacecraft, designed for elliptical orbit of the Moon. Its lunar landing vehicle can transport three men safely to and from the Moon’s surfaceâ€¦”
Blah, blah, blah. This goes on a while and gets pretty dry, bombastic music cues or not. I mean, yes, this was probably at least somewhat less boring back at the acme of the Space Race. However, now it plays like a particularly dull vintage educational short. Eventually, though, Bogdanovich’s needs are met. He’s managed to very cheaply eat up two and a half minutes of the movie’s expansive eighty minute running time.
This achieved, we finally (and with some relief on my part) cut away from the museum. My excitement rose, whereupon I found myself treated toâ€¦several minutes of beach shore boulders being pelted by tidal waters. A variety of such shots acts as a backdrop for the opening credits. The most prominent of these is for the picture’sâ€¦uhmâ€¦star, Mamie Van Doren. The film’s rather unwieldy title also appears,* spelled out in a yellow and particularly girly cursive font.[*On the other hand, one of Corman’s own directorial efforts once bore the title The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent. Bogdanovich got off easy, really.]
Eventually—like nearly five minutes into the movie—we hear a whole new narrator, his voice (at least currently) augmented with a slight echo effect, and sounding suspiciously similar to Bogdanovich’s own. Not at anyone at that point in time would have any idea of what Bogdanovich sounded like.
“Venus…Venus…the planet named after the Goddess of Love. This is where I left her, 26 million miles away. Because I know she exists. I know she does! I know it! All the time we were there I heard her. Her and that sweet, haunting sound she makes, like the Sirens that tempted Ulysses….”
“They think I’m crazy, here on Earth. Crazy, or still intoxicated by the atmosphere back there. Butâ€¦wait a minute, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me tell you the whole story. All of it, from the beginning, and see what you think. You be the judge. It was two years ago, in 1998 [*snicker*], that the first manned spaceship left Earth for the planet Venusâ€¦.”
Bogdanovich’s idea, apparently, was to take Andre’s obsession regarding humanoid Venusians and turn it into an explicitly romantic fantasia. And so the narration, which will continue throughout, is his. I know they redubbed some of the Sirius team’s dialogue scenes, but I was too lazy to go back and see if they redubbed all of them. Certainly the scenes with Kern and Sherman retain the original dubbing.
Here, six minutes in, we again watch the Capella being destroyed by a meteor. However, in this version the Capella is a lone craft. Following its destruction, we cut to some elaborate rocket launch f/x footage presumably taken from one of Corman’s other purchased Soviet films. This was probably Nebo Zovyot (1960), which formed the basis of 1962’s Battle Beyond the Sun.
The vehicle being launched is a second rocket, one sent six months later. In a clever bit, Andre explains that “the code name for Earth control was Marsha.” This is presumably to explain unexcisable references to Faith Domergue’s character in the dubbed dialogue retained from Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet. Given this, we can also assume that neither she nor another analogue of her character will be a part of the proceedings this time around.
The rejiggering continues to be pretty severe. Given Masha/Martha’s Stalin-like removal from the official photographic record, the new rocket now boasts but a two man crew. This again is (Howard) Sherman* and the now promoted Captain (Alfred) Kern. Apparently Bogdanovich felt the various characters would be more ‘fleshed out’ is everyone was finally given both first and last names.
(Actually, in a line left over from Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet, we at least once hear Kern call Sherman “Alan.” Bogdanovich may have simply missed this. However, he may have changed the name on purpose, as Alan Sherman was a well-known novelty singer at the time. His biggest hit was ‘Hello Mudduh, Hello, Fadduh.’)
“There was another being with them,” Andre explains. “Kern’s invention, Robot John.” I got a bewildering sensation watching the same scenes appear again in a third context. More footage from Nebo Zovyot is also shown, detailing the craft’s voyage. This involves a “stop at the United States space station Texas for refueling.” Included here is a brief clip that was also used to pad out the beginning of Voyage to a Prehistoric Planet.
It’s here that we officially again meet Andre Frounot, Commander William Lockhart and Hans Walter, who in this version are currently stationed back at Earth control. “We were the command crew,” Andre notes, “and if anything went wrong [with the Vega], we were set to follow.” Unsurprisingly, the footage of the three seen here was originally meant to portray them in the cramped spaceship Sirius. They thus don’t remotely look like they at the expansive mission control seen earlier in Nebo Zovyot stock footage.
Kern calls “Marsha” (again, previously a huge, well-staffed control room; now just these three guys), and his voice doesn’t remotely match the actor who dubbed him last time around and is still otherwise heard here. Kern reports that the Vega has refueled and is preparing to leave space station Texas.* This involves a long hunk of more footage from Nebo Zovyot—featuring two astronauts who do not remotely resemble either Kern or Sherman—mixed in with real life stock footage of a radar dish and (supposed) Marsha team reaction shots from Planeta Bur. Sheesh, this thing is nearly as messed up as Doomsday Machine.[*I guessed they hoped an all-American name like the Texas would mitigate the fact that the rockets themselves boast red star insignia.]
The ship arrives seconds later (screentime, anyway) in an orbit around Venus. Here we will presumably finally shift for a while strictly to footage from Planeta Bur, as redubbed for Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet. I’m not confusing you, am I? I am? Good. Heaven knows you can’t be more confused than I am by all this. Anyway, I was wrong. We see Kern in his jumpsuit, and then suddenly the exact same Nebo Zovyot footage is seen a second time, with the supposedly same characters again strapped down and sporting silvery spacesuits. Mmm, that’s good continuity.
The Vega orbits Venus with rockets still ablaze (uh, yeah), and then footage of the rocket is run backward (!!) to simulate it landing on the surface below. Man, that ‘special effect’ technique was lame back in the early ’50s, much less than in 1968. I mean, this was playing drive-ins the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey came out.
So the Vega again experiences problems, and the Sirius crew (here currently back on Earth) again gives with the concerned expressions as the radio transmission cuts out. Here a near crash that originally occurred on the surface of Venus involves an errant asteroid, which makes no sense but whatever. Orâ€¦wait, is that comparatively tiny piece of space flotsam supposed to be a close-up of Venus?! Man, my head hurts.
Andre tries to radio them with his voice from the last movie, which is intermixed with yet more narration in the other voice. Getting no response, the Sirius team now sets out from Earth to come to their aid. This would have embarrassed the director of Planeta Bur, since in his version a rescue mission from Earth was established to require a much more realistic three months to reach Venus.
Back on Venus, Kern and Sherman again are seen blazing away at some attacking Reptile Men, and again use Iron John to escape. (For those who are interested, we’re a bit over fifteen minutes into this version, with about 64 minutes left to go.) Apparently they didn’t notice—or just didn’t care about—the inept continuity error introduced by some completely unnecessary editing in Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet. Therefore we again watch as Sherman falls to the ground and is jumped by a lizard man, whereupon we cut to a standing Sherman shooting at his doppelganger’s attacker.
The entire sequence plays out, followed by more Nebo Zovyot footage and narration as the Sirius lifts. (Actually, the ships this time around aren’t identified, so I’m sticking with their names from the previous two versions.) And sure enough, they also pause to themselves land on the Texas. This is, I must confess, not exactly the tightest film I’ve ever seen. Anyhoo, then they take off again. Andre’s overheard thoughts now reflect this version’s concerns, and are much more delightfully moronic than those in the previous versions.
“Funny, considering how things turned out, what I was thinking about as we sped through the dark universe on our way to an unexplored planet. I was wondering if there maybe wasn’t some reason that Venus had been named for the Goddess of Love. If maybe there wasn’t some wise old astronomer way back in the dawn of time who knew something. Something he kept to himself. But before I could come to any conclusions about it, we were preparing for our touchdown on Venus [well, that was quick], where maybe I’d find all the answers.”
The guys land on Venus, and we get a good long stretch of dubbed footage from the previous film. This includes the first appearance of the Mysterious Sound that supposedly leads Andre to believe there are human-like beings living on the planet; and then the exploring Andre being attacked by the Giant Carnivorous Plant.
“It was a weird, desolate place,” Narrator Andre is heard musing as he wanders the landscape prior to the attack, “but it fascinated me.” Good. Apparently he isn’t bored by Venus after traveling millions of miles to become the third human to walk its surface. I’m glad the bloom’s not off the rose yet. Meanwhile, Walter tells Lockhart that “Marsha has radar movement,” presumably detecting the Vega crew. Now, in the original versions, Marsha/Masha was a woman detecting such movement from orbit. In this version Marsha is a control center who apparently picked two guys and a robot walking around Venus from back on Earth. Yes, that’s equally credible. Good job.
We continue on with the regular run of things, cutting back and forth from the two crews. (Oddly, we see but a brief glimpse from the scene where the Sirius guys discover the dinosaur, after which the rest of the sequence is removed. I meanâ€¦dinosaur!) By the time we had minus 50 minutes of movie left, I pondered the fact that this didn’t leave overmuch time left in which to introduce and feature the film’s supposed star, Mamie Van Doren. On the other hand, I’ve seen several pictures starring Ms. Van Doran. I therefore can’t really argue that this wasn’t an entirely wise strategy.
However, this concern was soon allayed, as the camera finally finds Ms. Van Doren, wearing tight white pants and a seashell bra (!!) and sleeping on a rock. The camera continues to pan to find a few more similarly-clad actresses, who are also lounging and purportedly slumbering. This probably represents their collectively best acting in the movie, since it can’t be all that comfortable pretending to nap on bumpy stones.
The Mysterious Sound is heard again, rousing Van Doren’s character, who is named Moana. (!!) Apparently she’s a Venusian porn star. She uses telepathy—ooooh, alieny—to rouse her comrades, nothing “Our sisters are calling.” It turns out, moreover, that they are merwomen, albeit sans the traditional fishy tales. They join some others, who move over the rocks rather clumsily for *cough* natives, and enter the surf.
Familiar footage of the Sirius guys arguing whether other astronauts may have earlier visited Venus is intermixed with shots of the girls swimming underwater (obviously in a tank). They are also shown bobbing up on real open water—again, in an oddly awkward manner for merwomen—and eating what appear to be actual raw fish.
First, it’s amazing that their teeth remain so clean and even given their diet. Second, these shots really say something about the perceived glamour of film. These actresses, who presumably were paid basically nothing (this is a Corman film, after all), were willing to go through all this crap just to appear in movie that that at best would be seen by inattentive drive-in patrons. Even Ms. Van Doren nips at a fish, which proves she was a bit of a sport, if not much in the thesping department.
We move on to the Sirius guys flying the Bubble Car over the water to find Kern and Sherman. Here this is apparently supposed to be the same water the girls are swimming around in. Then the Pterodactyl shows up, only here above the women. Sorta. I mean, obviously Bogdanovich didn’t have his own monster puppet—not a working one, anyway, as we’ll see—so their interplay is indicated solely via some predictably unsatisfying editing tricks.
The ‘dactyl is known to women as “our beloved god, Ptera.” (Oh, brother.) Amazing that beings from another planet also ended up using ‘Ptera’ to name these things. What are the odds? They must be ten to one, at least. Anyway, I guess the fact that it is honking and ineptly intercut with footage of them still bobbing upon the water means Ptera “is angry.”
Meanwhile, I was struck by how concerned the women look. If they can live underwater, why wouldn’t they just dive to escape the purportedly enraged Ptera? From this I belatedly deduced that they weren’t, in fact, merwomen. I assumed they were meant to be, since this would explain the underwater city the guys find later. (Also, I mean, seashell-bras, you know?) I guess that’s still just a collection of sunken relics, though. That leaves the question of where the women live, though, unless they just sleep on that remarkably comfortable-looking rocky beach every night.
“We must leave this place!” Moana declares, and they clumsily dog-paddle off. Of course they had to leave. Otherwise they’d be on scene when ‘Ptera’ attacks the Bubble Car, and no amount of editing would make that work.
Back to the Bubble Car traveling over the water, as Andre orders John via radio to give medicine to the sick Kern and Sherman. This, naturally, is then followed by Ptera assaulting their car and their subsequent trip underwater. This all represents a goodly hunk of time, as you’d expect, before we get back to any ‘original’ footage.
For no reason whatsoever (unless it later provokes the Beach Women), Andre’s narration now explains that their gunfire has actually killed Ptera—obviously we don’t actually see anything to indicate that—and that they are sinking purely due to damage to their car. What’s especially moronic is that they retain the shot of them opening their scuttling port, which doesn’t make any sense according to what Andre is telling us. Also, I have to say, much of the pterodactyl footage was excised, as with the Apatosaurus stuff earlier. Seriously, who thought it was a good idea to remove such stuff and leave so much of the original jabbering?
Meanwhile, I really don’t think I’ve properly emphasized how incoherent this mÃ©lange is. Particularly odd is the big chunk of stuff from Nebo Zovyot. I can only assume was Bogdanovich was ordered to dilute the Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet leftovers as much as possible, so that at least a fair portion of this ‘film’ wasn’t just a repeat of that earlier one.
To this add the museum stock footage in the beginning of the film, and the new stuff, and then the radically edited down stuff left over from Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet. Frankly, it’s a mess. You know how some versions of the Frankenstein Monster feature super-obvious stitching and showcase how the various pieces don’t really fit together well? Bingo. It doesn’t help that they didn’t have the time or money to use more advanced techniques, like those employed in Godzilla, King of the Monsters, to integrate all this disparately sourced material.
Anyhoo, the underwater Bubble Guys again find the sunken relics, and blah blah blah. Meanwhile, a supposedly deceased rubber pterodactyl (it seems to have been stitched together from an old wetsuit), which doesn’t overly resemble the Russian puppet, washes ashore right by one of the Beach Bunnies. So yep, the ‘death’ of the creature is a gambit to rile up the natives. “What evil demon has destroyed our god?” Moana telepathically enquires. The girls carry their god off for a burial rite, striving to pretend that it isn’t composed of hollow rubber weighing at best a pound or two.
Back to the guys examining the underwater statue of the pteranodon. This is matched by a shot of a somewhat similar statute the girls are seen praying to. I know I mentioned this is all very incoherent, but I should also allow that it’s boring and annoying, as well. The later complaint mostly arises from the fact that Bogdanovich elected to employ that stupid ‘eerie’ keening sound every second the girls are onscreen. In any case, Moana is apparently their high priestess, or whatever, since she dons a chef’s hat and telepathically promises to wreak vengeance on whoever slew Ptera.
As Andre goes off underwater exploring, he is spied upon by some of the girls, seen down below without any gear. Soâ€¦what? Can they breathe underwater, or are they simply really good at holding their breath? I mean, damn, I don’t know, it would be nice if the movie bothered to explain stuff like that.
Topside, we see the ladies bring Ptera’s body back to the water again—whatever—and return it to the sea. It’s the will of the gods, or something. Just then, the two women who spied upon Andre swim up and inform Moana that they’ve seen a group of “invaders.” Moana deduces that these are the one’s responsible for killing Ptera. “They must die!” she proclaims.
Back to the guys reaching shore and dragging the Bubble Car onto the beach. They yak. Here it was pretty obvious that they had redubbed these characters, at least much of the time. The dialogue is similar, but full of weird small changes. This is particularly noticeable in the scene later where they examine the picture of Walter’s three babies. Instead of saying they are numbered in the photo because “we hadn’t named them yet,” Walter now japes, “With triplets it’s better with numbers.” And instead of noting the three represent “a full [spaceship] crew,” Andre now joshes, “Looks to me like he’s raising his own countdown!” My sides.
Anyway, despite the heavy editing, things remain all too talky in this version. Again, I’m not sure why they kept stuff like this and mostly cut out the dinosaur and such. Add in the narrative incoherence resulting from the Mulligan’s stew of film sources this constructed from, and you end up with a real chore of a viewing experience. I assume it would be even if one hadn’t recently sat through both earlier versions of the film.
Meanwhile, they keep up with Andre’s inner monologue, as he continues to obsess about seeing the Venusian woman he believes is making the keening sound. “I keep staring at that rock I found,” he explains, “as if it might possibly hold an answer.” Well, that’s how things turn out, actually. In the meantime, though, it’s sort of a weird theory.
Meanwhile, the girls walk around a little rocky cairn on the beach. “Oh, God of the Fire Mountain!” Moana implores telepathically. “Let your boiling, red hot earth rain down the invading demons who dare bring death to Ptera!” At this I start thinking, ‘Oh, c’mon!’ Sure enough, the cairn explodes into flame, signally that indeed it’s the women’s entreaty that supposedly causes the volcanic explosion that threatens Kern, Sherman and John. (!!) This power is also handy, presumably, when they get a taste for S’mores.
So the Vega guys are surrounded by molten rock (mostly because Sherman talked Kern into sticking around to grab some ‘samples’), and they order John ferry them to safety across the lava, but John opts for self-preservation and tries to dump them, etc. However, hilarity ensues when we cut back to the ladies. Apparently part of the ritual to keep the lava flowing entails them standing around a circle and telepathically shouting “Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire!” It’s like watching a weird, post-apocalyptic cult based upon the Holy Writ of Beavis.
As before, the Bubble Car guys show up at the last possible second and rescue their comrades. Well, the human ones, anyway. John shorts out and is left to take a gainer into the lava flow. Kern is then morose over the fact of his creation, yada yada. More gabbing on the beach follows. Aiieee! My Dinner with Andre had less talking than this.
Back to the beach, where the ladies are again bunked out on the rocks. They wake to find another object washed ashore, and it turns out to be a lava-encrusted John. Huh? How would John float, especially after gaining a coating of rock? And how did it get here? John met his destruction on the other side of the lake / gulf / sea from here. Admittedly, this version’s a bit dodgier on the geography than others, but still, not enough to have this make sense.
As well, the model they have of John doesn’t really match up with the original. To be fair, it’s close enough to get by, I guess, if you don’t look too close.
The girls look up the beach and see the crew parking near their rocket ship—apparently their craft is parked all of about a city block from their position—and Moana is much annoyed to find them still extant. “They are stronger than the God of the Fire Mountain!” she pouts.
This time they go right to their numero uno deity, their idol of Ptera. “Bring forth the waters of the fiery heavens!” Moana pleads. Uhm, what now? Why would ‘fiery’ heavens haveâ€¦oh, never mind. Sure enough, this succeeds in invoking the massive storms and resultant flash flooding that imperils the earthlings’ rocket.
We get most of the end of Planeta Bur, as the rocket is nearly destroyed, and the crew dumps equipment to lighten the load for take-off, and Andre finally uncovers the proof of hot Venusian chicks he has dreamt of right before he is reluctantly dragged aboard ship right before blast-off.
Moana, however, is even more miffed at seeing them escape a second time. “They are stronger than our god!” she petulantly proclaims. As few things are worth less than a god who has been so thoroughly dissed, she picks up a rock and tosses it at their statue of Ptera. The others are initially shocked, but quickly take up in a like fashion until the idol is toppled. Moana then proclaims an artifact of the invaders, to wit the lava-crusted form of John, to be their new and improved god. The tribe stands John up and begins to worship it. (Here we get our clearest shot of Lava-John, which proves a mistake, since it allows us to see that it doesn’t match the original John much at all. Discretion would have been the better)
We get a final voiceover from Andre, one which unsurprisingly circles back to his opening narration: “Well, that’s the story. It’s been two years [a joke reference to the span between Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet and this?] now, and there’s no plan to return to Venus. [Yeah, other than reptile men, living dinosaurs and proof of intelligent life, what does it have to offer?] Lockhart and Kerns [sic!] have moved on to other missions. There’s Mars to be explored, and Jupiter. But I can’t forget her. And I’m going back. Maybe some day I’ll see her. Maybe I’ll die trying.” (Wow!)
Bogdanovich tried, anyway. The casting down of Ptera and its replacement by John as a religious idol is a potentially interesting idea, as it the (perhaps inadvertently) open-ended nature of the girls’ power. I’d theorize that there never were any gods, and that the rituals they performed merely channeled what turned out to be the women’s spectacularly powerful psychic abilities to manipulate the world around them.
That’s just one interpretation, however. Assuming Bogdanovich meant to provoke such thoughts, well, good on him. Even if that was his intention, however, such nuances will be buried for most under the film’s entirely haphazard construction. Frankly, one wonders how many audience members could have possibly remained engaged enough by the film to bother pondering such matters so late in the game. More likely, most viewers—like Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet, this was released directly to TV—were in the kitchen scrounging up a sandwich by this point.
Voyage to the Planet of the Prehistoric Women remains a pretty grueling watch, one fatally handicapped by its inanely patchwork nature. Even so, it served its director’s purpose. Bogdanovich was soon allowed to make an original low-budget picture. The result was an outright classic, Targets, a movie that remains one of the best examinations of spree killers yet committed to film. So prophetic is it, in fact, that if anything it’s more relevant and henceforth uncomfortable to watch now that it was back when he made it.
Bogdanovich went on to become one of the most famous independent directors of the early ’70s, making such critically acclaimed hits as The Last Picture Show, What’s Up, Doc? and Paper Moon. However, he started pushing his weight around in profoundly unwise ways. Primarily, this involved making films with his girlfriend of the time, the less than talented Cybill Shepherd. Even after she received uniformly scathing notices in his first flop, Daisy Miller, he again insisted on casting her in At Long Last Love. This attempted homage to the musicals of the ’30s proved so overwhelming a fiasco that it seemingly broke him somehow.
It would be ten years before Bogdanovich found directorial success again, making Mask with Cher and Eric Stoltz. That would prove his last flirtation with mainstream popularity, however. Moreover, he was further devastated when the woman he was having an affair with, Playboy model and would-be actress Dorothy Stratten, was murdered by her sleazy husband. (See Star 80 for a cinematic version of the events.) At this point Bogdanovich became a figure of Woody Allen-esque creepiness. Years later, the 48 year-old Bogdanovich married Stratten’s then 20 year-old sister. She had been but twelve when Dorothy was murdered.
Andâ€¦that’s it. I’m out of here. Thank goodness.
The “We Must Agree to Disagree” Dept.
Fred Olen Ray, The New Poverty Row (McFarland & Partners): “The film was a well-structured [!!—well, this is Fred Olen Ray who’s talking here] but weird concoction, helmed by Peter Bogdanovich under the pseudonym of Derek Thomasâ€¦The dubbing is well executed and thought outâ€¦Although it is passed over by many film historians, Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women is actually an entertaining film and better than most low-budget space operas.”
Presentation Note: While I got stuck watching the extremely washed-out, often all but black and white Alpha DVD, none other than Olen Ray himself subsequently released a purportedly better presentation of the film via his Retromedia DVD label. Not a great presentation, I hasten to add, but a much, much better one. Certainly the colors in the stills I’ve seen are much more vibrant. The disc also features an interview with Ms. Van Doren. That certainly looks like the way to go if one should decide to buy the film.