Multi-Monday where Ice-T and Bogart Begin a Beautiful Friendship

Heya, folks. I hope everyone had a great weekend. I know I did, and I watched a lot of good stuff so I thought I’d go over a few things today. For starters, I want to say that as I write this Harley Davis and the Marlboro Man has just come on, and that’s a hell of a way to start out your day. It’s pretty much the track I’ve been on for a few days. The first feature I checked out yesterday didn’t have Mickey Rourke in it, but it was all it was missing.

If you haven’t seen 1997’s Mean Guns then you don’t know what you’re missing. A more gloriously silly movie has never been made (although Shoot Em Up came close). Mob boss Vincent Moon (Ice-T) wants to get rid of all the pains in his ass that have been accumulating over the years. So what better way to do it than to invite them all to an unopened jail, pass out guns, and offer a share of one million dollars to the last three standing? It sure works for me. Ice T and Christopher Lambert, oh yes, the Highlander himself, ham it up in this campy flick, but the film really belongs to character actor Michael Halsey. His turn as a stone cold badass gives the movie some gravitas that it richly needs. With the two other leads playing their parts to broadly, a little acting was appreciated.

Mean Guns is directed by Albert Pyun, who made about 6 films with Ice-T, a couple with Nas, and dabbled in Kickboxer sequels. Where I knew him from was the horrid 1990 Captain America flick, Van Damme’s Cyborg, and the classic The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982). As you can probably guess from the quality of the films I mentioned, Pyun is in no danger of winning at Cannes, but he is talented at churning out cheese. Mean Guns is classic late night Cinemax fodder. Stuck in between an episode of Red Shoe Diaries and the fourth showing of Young Einstein is where I’d expect to find this piece of trash cinema, and I think it may have been about where I saw it in the first place. So if you like over the top action, laughable stabs at artsiness, and Lambert doing his thing, I can’t recommend this one enough.

For the other half of my double feature, I watched a film that could not be more different. From cult classic, I went to straight up classic, and one of the films I’ve seen more times than any other. The first time I saw it I have to guess that I was around fourteen or fifteen years old. I was aware of some of the stars, and I’d seen a few of their films, The Maltese Falcon, The Invisible Man, and it had that strange little dude from Muscle Beach Party. (That’s right Peter Lorre co-starred with Frankie and Annette, and yes, that’s right, I’ve seen all the Beach Party films they made.) The film, of course, is Casablanca, and from the first moment Bogart in his white dinner jacket appears on screen, puffing a cigarette, I was sold.

I don’t think I need to go on and on about Casablanca. It’s a classic and even people who don’t like it will tell you the same. It appealed to the hopeless romantic in me when I was a teen, and it still does now. While some may find that to be sappy, Casablanca is no wishy washy love story. Bogart’s Rick is a man’s man, and sometimes such a complete asshole. That is until you consider how you would feel if the love of your life ditched you, showed up after many years, in your bar, with her husband, needing your help, and asking your piano player to play your song for her. Yeah, then you start understanding why he’s so pissed off.

Speaking of the girl, Ingrid Bergman is a stone cold fox and there’s no point in denying it. Not only is her acting just wonderful, her softly lit beauty enhances every single scene she appears in. Every performance is spot on though. Peter Lorre’s bug eyed pleading, Sidney Greenstreet’s smarmy bar owner, Claude Rains' fickle French policeman, and Conrad Veidt’s despicable Nazi all combine to make this film a wonder to behold. Casablanca is a film that absolutely essential, and it’s one that every film lover should have seen.

So that’s it for today, two recommendations, and two very different films. They’re two of my favorites as they so happen, and you’ll be getting a lot more of that this month. Tomorrow I’ve got one of my favorite action horror epics from one of the masters of the genre so join me for Terrifying Tuesday and find out if I’m all out of bubblegum.


  1. Hi T.L.

    Thanks for the very kind words about Mean Guns. And thank you for your honesty about Captain America as well. You might be curious to learn that I am preparing to shoot Mean Guns 2 in November. Hope I can once again conjur up some particularly ripe cheesy trash that will be fun to watch.


  2. the sneering (homo-phobic) snobAugust 3, 2009 at 4:13 PM

    Lightning Bug, i told you last november that i dont bother with "casablanca" anymore, the only bogart film i watch now is "conflict" (1945) it easily trumps all his other films. By the way, do you think Isabella Rossalini is a hotter chick than her mother?.

  3. I love both of these films. Bogart and Lorre are great tastes that taste great together. And Mean Guns kicks ass! Mean Guns 2? Yes,sir, I am there!

  4. Thanks Fran Goria. I think you'll like the direction MG2 is heading. I am getting some pressure to cast MMA fighters into the film. What do you think?

    I am in discussions with MMA fighter Gina Carano's reps to cast her n the last bit of shooting we are doing for Tales of an Ancient Empire. She would work in the film just after her August 15th championship fight for Showtime.


  5. Thanks for all the comments folks. First thing's first Ingrid over Isabella an day of the week.

    Now onto Mr. Pyun. Thanks so much for stopping by. Mean Guns has been a reliable part film for many years now, and I've spread the word of it all over.

    As for Captain America, since I've got you here, let me say that I did like the treatment of the REd Skull in that picture and the makeup was pretty good. On the whole, Cap's a helluva lot better the seventies version with the motorcycle helmet.

    Looking at your upcoming films, I would be very interested in Tales of an Ancient Empire. I have love for the Lambert, but I'm quite the Sorbo fan.

    Very exciting that you might be undertaking Mean Guns 2. As far as MMA guys go, might be good, some of those dudes are ferocious.


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