Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Alex J. Cavanaugh’s Underrated Treasures Blogfest


Prompted by Alex J. Cavanaugh’s Underrated Treasures Blogfest, as posted on one of his follower’s blog, I have come up with this, a day late.  If nothing else it gives me the chance to talk about things I like.  Everyone has a favorite movie or band that no one else has ever heard about. For whatever reason, they remain undiscovered and underrated. Now is your chance to tell the world about this obscure treasure!

Movies: well there are a lot I like that no one seems to have heard of except me, here are some.

1 Les Visiteurs - Jean Reno

 OK so it’s French, but it is a riot. A medieval French knight is magically transported to present day France, where his castle has become a hotel. He was on the point of getting married in his time and is desperate to get back and caused mayhem looking for a means to return home. They tried to make a version in the US, but that one sucks.

 2 Billy the Kid and the Green Baize Vampire – Phil Daniels, Alun Armstrong and Bruce Payne

Nothing supernatural about this one, just a grudge match between the new snooker whizz kid on the block and the old established Snooker champion, set to music. Yes, it is a musical and somehow it works.

3 Hoodwinked – voices Anne Hathaway, Glen Close, Jim Belushi, Patrick Warburton and Anthony Anderson
A brilliant reworking of the Little Red Riding Hood story. It has been, turned into a criminal investigation with surprising and completely logical results. Very clever and wasted on the kids.

4 The Odd Job – Graham Chapman, David Jason, Diana Quick
Arthur Harris, Graham Chapman, is deeply depressed when his wife, Diana Quick, leaves him and decides to commit suicide, but cannot find a quick and painless method. When an odd job man, David Jason, calls at his house on the off chance of work, he hires him to kill him, but on condition he will not know when he is about to die. Shortly after this, his wife returns to him but he cannot find the odd job man to stop him. Soon the inept odd job man manages to off all manner of people all over London, never hitting his proper target. That sounds a bit grim, but it is very funny with David Jason hamming it up as the single-minded hit man trying to kill his contract come what may. After all, he has accepted the fifty quid, so he is honour bound to complete the job.

5 The Ritz – Jack Weston, Jerry Stiller, and F. Murray Abraham
Originally a Broadway farce, the movie is full of rapid humour and great one liners. A man married into the wrong kind of family has a hit put on him by his dying father-in-law and he tries to hide in a bath house his taxi driver recommends. It turns out to be a gay bath house and he is straight. The most outrageous queen, F Murray Abraham, takes him under his wing and then the mayhem steps up a notch when his gangster brother-in-law arrives with the intention of killing him. Mix in a really bad Mexican female entertainer with dreams of stardom, a balding sexual pest who knew him from the army and an undercover cop with a Mickey Mouse voice and you have a really funny film.

 6 The Life of David Gale – Kevin Spacey, Kate Winslet, Laura Linney
This seems to have dropped out of sight, but is a very serious comment on capital punishment. As the blub says, ‘the crime is clear, but the truth is not. ‘ A man in prison for what appears to be an open and shut case of murder will only talk to a particular reporter. His story unfolds slowly through the film and his guilt or innocence depends on a bit of missing video tape and the tension mounts as the reporter searches desperately for this final proof before it is too late. Very well put together, deserves a wider airing.
There are many more but I am probably boring you, so on to TV.

Chelmsford 123 - Rory McGrath, Andy Hamilton, Philip Pope etc A sitcom set in 123AD in Roman occupied Britain. Based in Chelmsford, as you may have gathered from the title, Aulus Paulinus, Philip Pope the new Roman governor has to deal with Badvoc, Rory McGrath the chieftain of the Trinovante, a rather unscrupulous character, always accompanied by his two stalwarts, Blag, Howard Lew Lewis and Mungo, Neil Pearson. Equally as good as Black Adder and much the same kind of humour, but largely ignored because it was aired on Channel 4 early on when hardly anyone could receive that channel.

1 A Year of Wonders – Geraldine Brooks
Set in 1666, it is the story of Eyam the village that quarantined themselves to prevent the plague spreading as seen through the eyes of Anna Frith, an eighteen year old who experiences the ‘year of Wonders.’ Have some Kleenex handy.

2 Passage – Connie Willis
Set in a believably chaotic hospital, research, both good and bad is being done into near death experiences (NDE). A cast of characters who are believable, are wading through the flack thrown at them by an unscrupulous researcher, who only wants to promote his book and the vagaries of working in a busy hospital. Dr Joanna Lander eventually acts as a volunteer to be drugged into a state that closely resembles near death. Soon she is getting closer to the truth about what lies at the end of the passage. Can it really be what she keeps encountering? A good job one of her patients is an expert on the Titanic. Read it you will be intrigued.

3 Pirates in the Deep Green Sea – Eric Linklater
A children’s story of two brothers who meet eccentric Gunner Boles an ancient sailor and his octopus Cully. They discover the world is held together by huge underwater ropes, attended by pirates who have gone to work for Davy Jones when they drowned and a plot is afoot to cut the ropes. This is the work of the unpleasant Dan Scumbril and Inky Poops, who must be stopped at all costs. Harmless and charming fantasy which I devoured as a child and never forgot it. It has been in and out of print since 1949 and was reprinted in paperback in 2001 Well worth a read if you are still a child at heart.

I could think of a lot more books and movies, but I have run out of time, maybe a part two could follow.


  1. That looks like an interesting selection, and I admit there's more than one that piques my interest. But Alun Armstrong in a musical? That's definitely one I have to find!

  2. Not sure how I missed this post, but better late then never. Such an interesting set titles. I have added Year of Wonder, Passage and Pirates in the Deep Green Sea to my Kindle wish list, but it will be a while, since I have almost 100 books downloaded (mostly free or 99 cents)! Enough to last beyond my lifetime! Also put Hoodwinked on my 'to watch' list, especially to download when traveling, since I usually can't find a good one among the ones provided on planes. Thanks sanfu...an interesting post! Look forward to more 'obscure' titles!