krpalmer: (mst3k)
[personal profile] krpalmer
I suppose I was anticipating getting back to "High School Big Shot" without quite remembering just what I was going to see. I did know it was one of the more "legendarily depressing" movies shown on Mystery Science Theater 3000, and it also had a short attached, but again the short wasn't one of my all-time memorable ones...

After Mike tries to nurse a headache (I have the impression this is based on an affliction of the real-life Mike Nelson) only for Crow to enter practicing cymbals, Tom to enter practicing the bagpipes, and Gypsy to enter laughing about Kramer on "Seinfeld," Dr. Forrester is unsympathetic and provides the Satellite of Love with a chemistry set even as TV's Frank creates an adorably vicious puppet dinosaur not that long after Jurassic Park the movie. As the tiny dinosaur mauls Dr. Forrester and Frank chides it with bland resolve, Crow concocts a potion that creates an enormous Tom Servo with a bigger gumball machine head. Mike manages to carry this huge yet dumb Servo into the theatre; the potion wears off after a few "Servo kill?" and "Hate movie!" comments, and we can really get into DuPont's presentation of "Out of this World."

A devil and an angel share the same celestial office, splitting between them the records of good salesmen and bad salesmen. ("They're operating under a different theology.") The devil gloats over the poor record of Bill Dudley, the angel reveals how he's turned things around, and the devil gets the angel to travel to Earth and try to tempt Dudley back to his old ways. Posing as a magazine reporter, the angel boards Dudley's big bread van as he enthuses about buttering up the grocers on his route and placing the "speciality breads" (this being the 1950s, it seems to mean "rasin bread") and baked goods at eye level to make them better impulse purchases. ("Never put doughnuts next to the kitty litter.") At last, Dudley drives off ("Hope you accept bread in your life.") and the angel informs the devil he's failed. After the short, our heroes imitate Bill Dudley and present their own peculiar "speciality breads," and then it's off to the movie.

Things start with the full-lipped, somewhat mop-haired Marvin Grant ("He has a haunting ugliness.") being called on in class to explain a key moment in Hamlet after the classroom thug Vince Rumbo jokes the question off. ("I won't live through the day; thanks a lot, sir." "Now run along and enjoy your beating, son.") Vince's girlfriend Betty Alexander saves Marvin from Vince's wrath, though, and asks him out on a date. Marvin returns home only to find his underemployed and struggling alcoholic father also has a date impending, and they split Marvin's last six dollars. ("Oh, and son, I ate the last can of dog food.") The date with Betty goes well enough, though ("I've never walked to a drive-in before."), and Betty manages to wheedle Marvin into writing her essay on Shakespeare, only to later explain to Vince she's just using him.

Trying to get Betty to marry him, Marvin just happens to overhear a conversation at the dockside warehouse where he works about a million dollars being stashed in the safe to pay for a heroin shipment. As it comes out that he wrote Betty's essay for her, thus blowing his chances of getting a college scholarship ("Where, oh where could a guy find a belltower?") and his father has fallen off the wagon, Marvin trudges off into the night...

All of a sudden, a loveable free-loading lush and his straight-man in-law are on screen ("I like this new movie better."), but Marvin then shows up and it turns out the lush is an accomplished safecracker Marvin just happens to know about. He offers them a large share of the million dollars, then turns around and lets Betty in on the big news. She, though, tells Vince and his fellow high school thugs...

Despite some tension over Marvin's precisely timed caper threatening to unravel ("I hope they didn't miss the film's climax."), he and his two assistants manage to storm the warehouse and start cracking the safe. ("A safe? I thought you said the money was in a toaster.") Vince is waiting, though, and collects the money even as he's driven to shoot the in-law. Betty then shows up, only to be blamed by Vince for driving him to murder and repeatedly shot; Marvin gets winged in the process. ("All this because of a strict English teacher!") Vince, though, gets gunned down by the actual mobsters and the million dollars falls into the water. ("Well, no need to launder the money then.") The police then show up and shoot the mobsters, and even as we've already learned Marvin's father has hung himself from the ceiling fixture Marvin is left sobbing on the docks... ("This is the PTA, reminding you to always do your homework.")

As might be expected, the movie is bleak, dark, and depressing, a sort of cut-rate film noir crossed with juvenile delinquency exploitation and made in a time when on-screen crime had to pay the penalty but not managing to set up a situation where Marvin is just suffering from a lack of parental attention or something. Even so, though, the "riffing" manages to be quite funny in response. "Out of this World" managed to remind me of "The Selling Wizard," "Once Upon a Honeymoon," and even "Mr. B. Natural" itself, but was also entertaining.

Date: 2012-08-19 03:37 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] thrush
I am torn about this episode. I'd love to be able to watch this one more regularly, but it's just kinda hard for me to take.

There are so many things I like about this movie, from the crumby '50s-era delinquency story to the enjoyable second-rate character actors (crowned by the presence of Depressing Dad). I think the skits are quite humorous, too, and the riffing is top-notch.

At the same time, the acting here, while not great, is not that bad either. And although the plot is full of holes it is not as intrinsically ludicrous as either I Accuse My Parents or the Violent Years. This combination makes it much harder for me to shrug off the intensely bleak story.

I love the short, too. I can commiserate with the poor dopes being forced to watch lame corporate brainwashing before starting on their futureless job. ^_^

Date: 2012-08-19 09:19 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] thrush
Ooh, I haven't seen that one. The one I get squeemish about is The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who [...]. I think that episode is hilarious, but the film is really gross. >_

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