Monster of the Day #72

I always wondered what Ray Milland thought when he went home at night after working on this (or half a dozen other movies he made at the end of his career) and looked at that Best Actor Oscar sitting on his mantle place.  Anyway, this is basically a sci-fi blaxploitation redo of The Desperate Ones with Tony Curtis reconceived as an even more blatantly racist old cracker.  Maybe TCM could do a compare and contrast double feature of those one night.

In any case, they definitely don’t make ’em like that anymore.

  • BeckoningChasm

    I dunno, after looking at his Oscar, Ray might have looked at the mortgage payment coming due and be able to justify a lot of things.

  • Ericb

    At least he was able to get work in his chosen field. That’s more than most people can say.

  • Ericb

    I bet blooper reels for this movie would be interesting.

  • John Campbell

    I can understand how a mortgage payment would provide the impetus to be strapped to Rosie Greer’s sweaty back for a day of shooting.

  • John Nowak

    Trivial nitpick: I believe the title’s The Defiant Ones.

    But yeah, it’s depressing to think about the post-Oscar career slump. It must be like being reminded, every day, that your best work is behind you.

    On the other hand, at least he was in a couple of quite good episodes of Columbo.

  • Milland: “Actually, Rosie’s hair smelled really nice, so it wasn’t as bad as you’d think it would be. Soft, too. Making that movie went by a lot easier, smellin’ that hair of his.”

  • Rock Baker

    I imagine there was much brushing of teeth between scenes as well. At the very least I imagine they were supplied with mints on a regualr basis.

    Few actors have fallen so far in so short a time. Just ten years earlier his genre pictures were much more respectible fare like Panic in Year Zero (which Milland also directed) and X. By 72 it was Frogs and this. I wonder if he ever called up Joseph Cotton for a chat, just to feel better about himself. I’v always liked Ray, and always feel sorry for him when I think of this flick (haven’t seen The Sea Serpent yet). At least we’ll always have Markham. Thanks, Ray, for putting up with it long after lesser men would’ve blown their brains out.

  • “Thanks, Ray, for putting up with it long after lesser men would’ve blown their brains out.”

    Ah, George Sanders.

    Yes, Cotten is definitely another one, going from Citizen Kane, The Magnificent Ambersons, The Third Man and Shadow of a Doubt to Latitude Zero, Baron Blood (sorry, Sandy), The Oscar and Lady Frankenstein.

    Of course, Welles himself ended up in stuff like Butterfly, making a quick buck by acting as a second banana to Pia Zadora.

  • Ericb

    and don’t forget “no wine before it’s time.”

  • Rock Baker

    At least Latitude Zero was kind of cool (in the most comic book-ish way possible). One has to cringe thinking of him in Lady Frankenstein, however. I hated Baron Blood, it was one of the few movies I ever taped over because I didn’t want it in my library. (As for The Oscar, whatever its faults, I have to come clean and admit I enjoyed the parade of stars it offered.)

    Another one who sort of fits into this camp is Kent Taylor, tho one could argue he was never as big a star as Milland or Cotten. I recently got to see Brides of Blood and Brain of Blood. Kent was still the professional, but I couldn’t help but wonder what he was thinking as he chased John Bloom around with a ‘ray gun’ made from the tail light of a 55 Ford.

  • zombiewhacker

    F. Murray Abraham anyone?

    J. Carroll Naish also deserves mention. I didn’t realize until just recently that Naish had been twice nominated for Best Supporting Actor during his career (never won), yet at the end of his days the aging, ailing actor was reduced to playing a wheelchair bound role in the pathetic “Dracula vs. Frankenstein.” I hope for his sake he was doing it as a lark and not because he was desperate for the dough.

    Honorable mention: Ernest Borgnine?

  • BeckoningChasm

    Ernest Borgnine always seemed to be having a lot of fun, no matter what he was in.

    How about Marlon Brando? I kind of get the feeling he stopped caring about his image, though.

  • Petoht

    If we’re talking about falls from grace… let’s not forget poor Béla Lugosi.

  • Marsden

    Wow, I must have taken a wrong turn into the arsy fartsy room. These people are actors doing jobs for pay. What the movie sucked, the money is green. The rest… whatever. Maybe he had a good time making this movie, if not then he’s like 99% of everyone else and hated their job.

    I haven’t seen this since I was a kid, I’d like to see it again.

    I especially liked it when they spoofed it on the Simpsons.

  • Rock Baker

    Well, deserved or not, the bigger stars are granted a certain amount of hero status by their fans. No one wants to see their heroes dropped into the dirt.

    And not every actor may be selfconcious enough to really care about where they find themselves (Michael Caine obviously doesn’t let it bother him), but seeing someone once much loved and respected by both his peers and his public fall out of favor and be forced to take work in the lowest level of his field is a little troubling. I think its because we can see ourselves in the same situation, like going from top executive to a bum in the gutter.

    It becomes even more tragic when someone never actually made it to the top but came close enough to touch it. Jon Hall? Robert Hutton?

  • sandra

    Bruce Dern, who played the Mad Scientist, also considers Thing With Two Heads the low point of his career. I believe he describes it as the movie in which “I ate a baby or something”. I liked his performance, but then I usually do. He was so … reasonable about it all. No Bwahaha for Bruce.

  • Rock Baker

    Bruce Dern’s sleepy scientist appears in The Incridible Two-Headed Transplant, made the same year. ‘Transplant’ was played straight at least, but ‘Thing’ was actually a better movie (whatever that grading is worth).

  • Wait wait wait– somebody listed F. Murray Abraham as an example of a career plummet?

    Ladies and gentlemen- F. Murray Abraham started out in Fruit Of The Loom underwear commercials. I think he was dressed as a giant bunch of grapes. Later he won an Oscar for Salieri in Amadeus.

    After playing underwear fruit, everything else is a step up.