Thursday, December 18, 2008

Euro Trash Grindhouse Double Feature: Grand Slam and Dog Eat Dog

A Grindhouse staple from the mid 60’s to the late 70’s was a steady stream of low budget European imports. Films from Italy, West Germany, Spain and England were picked up cheap by distributors. Some were used to pad out a double bill. Others were “angelosized” and released on their own.

You had crappy James Bond rippoffs, West German Edger and Bryan Wallace films, War films , and crime dramas. Of special interest would be films with “washed up” American stars who still had some box office clout. Back in those days, a color film would be the headliner and a black & white film would be the co feature. Some really sucked, some were really good. These two films are actually quite good.

Grand Slam 1967 starring Janet Leigh, Edward G Robinson, Klaus Kinski, and Adolfo Celi. Directed by Guiliano Montaldo.

This is an elaborate heist caper in the mode of The Score and Ocean’s Eleven. A school teacher (Robinson) comes up with a plan to ripoff ten million dollars in diamonds from a vault in Rio De Janeiro during the Carnival, His criminal mastermind friend( Celi), backs the plan. They recruit a team of international criminals to pull off the heist.

Each has a specialty that is need to pull off the heist. There are some nail biting moments here. All of the robbers wind up dead. The diamonds are stolen, and the twist ending comes out of nowhere. This was a pretty “cerebal” film for a grindhouse, and the audience was pretty sedate for it. My question would be how did old timer Robinson and the flamboyant Kinski get along?

Dog Eat Dog 1966 starring Jayne Mansfeild, Cameron Mitchell, Ivor Salter and Werner Peters Directed by Ray Nazarro, Richard Cuna & Gustav Gavin. It took three people to direct a fuckin’ movie?

Well a semi naked Jayne Mansfield rolling around on a money covered bed was enough to rouse the more sedate members of the audience. This was a West German production , so it’s dubbed. Mitchell and Salter rip off a cool million from the US treasury. Salter turns on Mitchell, pushing him off a cliff.

Salter and his girl Jayne, who keeps saying “crackers” though out the film , decide to take off with the loot. Mitchell returns with blood on his face and jacket, he spends the remainder of the film not washing his face and wearing the bloody jacket. Cam is pissed, but he, Salter and Jayne grab the loot and head for a deserted island.

The island isn’t deserted. A lady has come home here to die and is assisted by her manservant ( Werner Peters, a fixture in these type of films). Mitchell and crew are followed by a hotel manager who knows they have the money and his ice queen sister. Cam hides the money, but the old lady finds it and hide it herself. Now things start to heat up.

Salter is found dead in a fountain. Mitchell is the likely suspect, but it’s not him. Next up is the ice queen and Jayne get into a vicious cat fight. Peters is found knifed. Someone is knocking off most of the cast. Guess who?

Even though this film is very cool, the real reason to watch it is Jayne Mansfield. She is completely over the top and in rare form. At one point she just starts doing the twist, the frug or some damn dance out of nowhere. A wacky crime caper with two of our most enduring stars.
42nd Street Pete

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