Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Burgess Meredith and Gautama Buddha Ate My Brain!!!

Well, thanks to the miracle of dollar DVDs I've finally seen something that I never thought I'd see in a trillion years.. the spectacle of Peter Lind Hayes and Jeff Bridges making out. Truly one of cinema's most "THIS CAN'T BE HAPPENING!!!" moments. The film is The Yin and Yang of Mr. Go (1970), written and directed by none other than Burgess "Penguin" Meredith. Mr. Go is a Fu Manchu-ish supervillain (played by James Mason with a set of false teeth) who is plotting to steal Professor Robert Bannister's (Peter Lind Hayes) "Sidewinder" anti-ballistic missile shield. Go blackmails Bannister by paying James Joyce-obsessive Nero Finnighan (Jeff Bridges) to bed him as he secretly records the proceedings with a fish-eye lens, psychedelic solarized film, and a groovy soundtrack. Watching Jack Lucas hungrily give Mr. Zabladowski a big open-mouthed kiss may be as surreal a moment as ever captured on film, but this scene stands alone in Mr. Go as it actually involves a modicum of cause and effect. The rest is an incoherent jumble that reminds me of a less-lucid version of Otto Preminger's Skidoo. Among the other wonders you'll witness in The Yin and Yang of Mr. Go are:

* A supposedly comic running gag about a gut-shot CIA agent who takes forever to die. The agent is Jack MacGowran, who died of the flu after appearing as Burke Dennings in The Exorcist three years later.

* Soundtrack music by a 5th Dimension sound-alike vocal group which crops up at the least likely moments. ("The Yiiin and the Yaaaaaaaang of Mr. Goooooooooo!!!!")

* Burgess Meredith as a zany and wise Chinese apothecary.

* Irene Tsu and James Mason getting busy inside a giant statue of the Buddha at Mr. Go's phoney funeral (all kinds of weird vibes there).

* Jeff Bridges sitting in Jack MacGowran's lap during a rickshaw ride.

* A man impaled on a wall of acupuncture needles (now that's comedy!).

* Jeff Bridges belting a CIA agent in the head with his portable typewriter (very Hunter S. Thompson).

And did I mention that the film is narrated by Gautama Buddha himself? Who uses his third eye to open Mr. Go's soul to the path of enlightenment? No? Well, you see, Gautama Buddha uses his third eye to open Mr. Go's soul to the path of enlightenment. Mr. Go also has a pet monkey that eats stew bones.

The only rational explanation I can imagine for The Yin and Yang of Mr. Go is that it must have been a thinly veiled excuse for Mason, Bridges, Meredith, and Tsu to head down to Hong Kong, hang out in clubs, get extremely stoned, and get paid for the privilege. Jeff in particular seems to have quite a nice buzz on throughout the movie. God bless dollar DVDs!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let me give you a little comment love, Aaron. Like you, I love those dollar videos. I also enjoyed The Great St. Louis Bank Robbery, with McQueen and the most obsure supporting cast ever, and will soon watch Walter Matthau's directed GANGSTER STORY which was on the same video. My take on Yin and Yan of Mr. Go was pretty much the same as yours. That Meredith and company wanted an excuse to go to Hong Kong. Thought Mason did a pretty good job auditioning for future TV shows of Fu Manchu. Although Henry Silva's performance as Mr. Moto around this time, would give him the nod in my opinion. Jeff Bridges did indeed look unfocussed and all too willing to get down with whatever degradation was going around. Oddly this is the kind of treatment you see from Hong Kong made Hong Kong films around this era, some vague Batman/James Bond/Pulp nonsense. Probably they heard that the Hong Kong film industry was picking up and tried to show they were down for whatever the triads wanted to cast them in. I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't get some investment from the locals, but one would think they lost every single penny.

11:41 AM  

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