Wednesday, July 7, 2010

1969 - THE MONITORS, odd science fiction out of Chicago from Second City

Whenever PBS pledge drives roll around, one of their standard specials is a history of the Second City comedy troupe from Chicago.  The special usually goes on at great lengths about how influential Second City has been and the number of famous comedians that have come out of the troupe like John Belushi, Alan Arkin, Bill Murray etc.  What the PBS special usually manages to avoid is the one film that came out of Second City, The Monitors.

The idea behind The Monitors is that a group of aliens dressed in black and wearing bowlers has arrived on earth to bring peace and prosperity.  Instead of peace, a resistance group on Earth has formed to get rid of The Monitors and return things to the way they were.  This should have been a starting point for some funny comedy stuff.

The production is a real cheap one filmed around Chicago with a rather odd cast of actors headed by Guy Stockwell and Susan Oliver.  And who are Guy Stockwell and Susan Oliver?  Primarily television actors from the 1960's and individuals not known as comedians even on television.  Among the odd things in this film is the decision not to use Second City comedians in major roles.  Instead peppered throughout the film in extremely short appearances are members of the comedy troupe in brief unfunny vignettes.

The whole film is a misfired attempt at social satire, with poor writing and very broad and uneven performances throughout the film.  This is the kind of smug stuff that results from funny people who don't want to let the audience in on the joke.

 92 minutes

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