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Sunday, July 01, 2007


A couple of days after losing Kathy, I was wandering in a daze in a supermarket while my dear brother and sister-in-law were loading up a shopping cart on my behalf. I saw a little selection of dollar DVDs. There was a two-for-a-dollar double-feature DVD, "Carnival Story" and "Cassandra Cat." On the back was a small photo from "Carnival Story" of a circus strongman who looked a lot like Tor Johnson (the swedish wrestler who played Lobo opposite Bela Lugosi in Ed Wood's "Bride of the Monster").

In that terrible, terrible time of my life, anything that interrupted my thoughts of the tragedy were few, far between and in their small way, golden. But I didn't buy the DVD; there would be no celebrating for a long while.

Ever since, when I shopped at that supermarket, I would still find copies of that dopey DVD. Every time I looked at it, I flashed back on that desperate moment when life as I knew it had come to an abrupt end. But I still wouldn't buy the DVD. The reason: according to, Tor Johnson was not in "Carnival Story."

However, the more I looked at that little photo, the more I was convinced that this must be a rare instance in which imdb was wrong. Finally, about two weeks ago, I bought the damn thing.

Well, it ain't Tor. It's a guy named Ady Berber who, from a distance, looks like Tor's twin. He plays Groppo, a dimwitted strongman with a heart of gold. Tor would have made a meal of this role, but then again, Tor made a meal of just about everything he encountered.

There were two nice surprises in watching "Carnival Story," a 1954 circus soap opera filmed in Germany with a largely American cast: (1) It was directed by Kurt Neumann, who also made "The Fly," "Kronos," "Rocketship X-M" and four Tarzan movies, and (2) Anne Baxter had a smokin' body. I'm sure a lot of you knew that already, but I only had a 1973 "Columbo" episode to judge by.

Just to bring closure to the experience, I also watched "Cassandra Cat," a fantasy made in 1963 in Czechoslovakia (original title: "Az prijde kocour"). I have to say it's the WEIRDEST MOVIE I'VE EVER SEEN.

On the cobblestone streets of a Czech village, a strange circus comes to town playing Dixieland. The ringmaster is the twin brother of the village hobo. The star of the circus is a female acrobot wearing a red leotard so tight, she might as well be naked. She carries a cat that wears sunglasses. During her act, she removes the sunglasses and the cat looks at the audience, seeing what lurks in their black hearts. This causes the audience to panic. The village schoolmaster, who has as much clout as a mad dictator, orders the cat killed and stuffed. (He doesn't want everyone to know he is shagging his secretary.) In protest, all of the children in the village disappear. I forgot to mention that when the cat looks at people, they change colors according to their sins.

I would describe "Cassandra Cat" this way: It's one of those movies that makes you want to swear off LSD, even though you've never done LSD in your life.


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