Sunday, August 21, 2016

Enduring the Rotten Tomato of 1970: 'THE PHYNX'

By Steve Crum

I finally saw the notoriously bad 1970 "comedy," The Phynx (pronounce it like "The Finks") that TCM broadcast at 3 a.m. a few days ago. (I DVR'd it.) Having heard about this seldom shown movie for decades, I was compelled to see for myself how embarrassingly terrible it is. Tis true. It is dreadful, and both good and bad to view all the aged Hollywood stars who appear. I cannot imagine what it was like for them in the audience at the film's premiere.

Directed by a guy who should have known better, Lee H. Katzin (Le Mans, Whatever Happened to Aunt Alice?), the movie looks like a poor clone of TV’s The Monkees, but minus a much needed laugh track. Forced laughs ensue, including slapstick and misfired visual gags. Let’s also blame writers Stan Cornyn, Bob Booker and George Foster. These three had made their fame with comedy albums (Booker & Foster: The First Family, You Don’t Have to Be Jewish) and Frank Sinatra Grammy winning album liner notes (Cornyn).


Oh yes, the plot is all about rescuing elderly movie and TV stars who are held captive in Albania by Communists. The lengthy list of celebrities appearing with sparse dialogue includes: Joan Blondell, Martha Raye, Busby Berkeley, Xavier Cugat, George Jessel, Col. Harlan Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame, Huntz Hall, Leo Gorcey, Johnny Weismuller, Maureen O’Sullivan, Ruby Keeler, Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, and Jay Silverheels (as Tonto). Clayton Moore was wise NOT to appear as The Lone Ranger. Instead, John Hart is the masked man, (Hart replaced Moore for one season of the TV series.) 

It's now available on Warner Archives DVD, if you must see the wretchedness for yourself.

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