19 Nov 2017

La belle captive (France, 1983)

La belle captive (France, 1983)

Director: Alain Robbe-Grillet. Stars: Daniel Mesguich, Cyrielle Clair, Daniel Emilfork, Gabrielle Lazure, Arielle Dombasle...

80s-style music video style and I can't say that there's much substance. Anyway, the main character walks into a café and we spot a Genie  (Gottlieb, 1979) pinball machine...



11 Nov 2017

The Stunt Man (USA, 1980)

The Stunt Man (USA, 1980)

Director: Richard Rush. Starring: Peter O'Toole, Steve Railsback, Barbara Hershey...

The film's director talks about the opening credit sequence which is a chain of seemingly innocuous little events, each one leading to the next and that eventually bring us to the introduction of the main character.

The credits are still going when we spot the pinball machine, and in the director's commentary on the film he says "The random bumping of the balls, like random events in life, striking each other, being the cause of other events, kind of a definition of fate. Very topically correct for the film."...

While the guy is playing, a friend walks by and comments:  "Hey, Morton! Is your ass attached to that machine? You wiggle it, that's gonna make ball go where you want it to, huh?!"

Then there's a shot with an anxious man in the foreground watching the cops walk into the place, and we see the whole pinball machine, which is a Fireball (Bally, 1971)...

The cops go to order some food and the anxious guy (Cameron) walks over to the pinball machine, trying to play it cool, but the cops come over...


Cop 1: You're lucky. Someone left you a free ball.
Cameron: Uh-huh.
Cop 2: Hey, you got 20,000. You're gonna win.
Cameron: Win what?
Cop 2: A free game.
Cameron: Terrific. Just what I need, one more chance to lose.


Then they cuff him. And then....

29 Oct 2017

Girls Just Want To Have Fun (USA, 1985)

Girls Just Want To Have Fun (USA, 1985)

Director: Alan Metter. Stars: Biff Yeager, Kristi Somers, Helen Hunt, Sarah Jessica Parker, Shannen Doherty...

Not a very good movie. Early days for a couple of actresses who went on to become more famous.

There's a scene in the house of the "rich enemy girl", wherein she's playing pool with her father in the game room.  We can spot an Old Chicago (Bally, 1976)...

There are also some slot machines (the two on the right might be manufactured by O.D. Jennings & Co.)...



15 Oct 2017

Pinballspotting: Unidentifiables

Several pinballspottings that are too blurry, far in the background or just plain too difficult to identify due to lack of clues. Here are a few, in chronological order...

Black Angel (USA, 1946)
Director: Roy William Neill.  Stars: Dan Duryea, June Vincent, Peter Lorre, Broderick Crawford...

Two flipperless and headless machines. Flippers arrived in 1947, i.e. after this movie was released, and headless machines were pretty much over by the later 30s, in favor of backboxes with illuminated backglasses. However, these are too tough to identify without more clues. For example, for 1935 alone, ipdb lists 309 machines from 54 different manufacturers!



Criss Cross (USA, 1949)
Director: Robert Siodmak.  Stars: Burt Lancaster, Yvonne De Carlo, Dan Duryea...

There's a flipperless and headless pinball machine, and the cabinet artwork looks like one of the ones in the above-mentioned Black Angel, as well as The Man with the Golden Arm (1955) (see this post) and it could well be the exact same machine. e.g. the set dressers ask for an old pinball machine and this is what they have in their props department...




Midnight Cowboy (USA, 1969)
Director: John Schlesinger.  Stars: Dustin Hoffman, Jon Voight, Sylvia Miles, Brenda Vaccaro...

Voight is playing a rifle game, probably a mid-50s Williams (the backglass is similar to Cross Fire but with a different theme). Far in the background, three pinball machines, two of which are the same...


The guy talking to him is in front of another rifle game with a space theme, in the background are two of the same rifle game...


Five Easy Pieces (USA, 1970)
Director: Bob Rafelson.  Stars: Jack Nicholson, Karen Black, Billy Green Bush, Sally Struthers...

Jack and friends are in a bowling alley, and we can spot a row of pinball machines in the background, too blurry to easily make out...




Porky's (USA, 1981)
Director: Bob Clark.  Stars: Dan Monahan, Mark Herrier, Wyatt Knight, Kim Cattrall, Susan Clark...

Set in Florida in 1954. A couple of machines in the corner of Porky's place. In a bad movie like this, I highly doubt that the machines are even remotely from the same time period, so even though I cannot identify them, I will declare this another pinball anachronism.

As an aside, the neon-ringed clock looks just like the one in Montreal's Le cheval blanc brewpub, which I used to frequent...


10 Oct 2017

Escape From New York (USA, 1981)

Escape From New York (USA, 1981) 

Director: John Carpenter.  Stars: Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine, Harry Dean Stanton, Adrienne Barbeau...

Brain (Harry Dean Stanton) rescues the POTUS (Donald Pleasence). In the corner is a very old flipperless pinball machine, which is an Oklahoma (United, 1944), with a repainted cabinet. According to ipdb, it was a conversion of Leader (Exhibit, 1940)...

The machine was already about 36 years old when the movie was shot, and the movie is set in the "future" of 1997, so it's pretty odd to see a machine like this.

Adrienne has to take out some bad guys...
and one of them jostles the machine as he falls...

30 Sep 2017

Project X (USA, 1987)

Project X (USA, 1987)

Director: Jonathan Kaplan.  (Human) Stars: Matthew Broderick, Helen Hunt, William Sadler...

Most of the cast are chimpanzees, but alas none of them play pinball.

There is a short scene in a bar where we can spot some machines behind Broderick's buddies...

From left to right:
- Jungle Hunt (Taito, 1982) video game (but the front of the cabinet seems to be wrong)
- Contact  (Williams, 1978)
- Firepower  (Williams, 1980)
- Skylab (Williams, 1974)
- Asteroids (Atari, 1979) video game



29 Jun 2017

Pawn Sacrifice (USA, 2014)

Pawn Sacrifice (USA, 2014)

Director: Edward Zwick.  Stars: Tobey Maguire, Liev Schreiber, Peter Sarsgaard...

Based on the famous chess match for the World Championship which happened in 1972 in Reykjavík, Iceland. It's still the Cold War, and American chess player Bobby Fischer plays against the Soviet Union's Boris Spassky in a tense match.

In the movie, Spassky (Liev Schreiber) plays pinball in an open-24-hours joint, a Stampede (Stern*, 1977)...


A limo pulls up and his comrade gets out... we can see the reflection of the pinball cabinet in the window...

His comrade scolds him for disappearing and convinces him it's best that he get back to their hotel to rest up for the big match the next day. Spassky tells him that it's his shot, but his comrade just plunges the ball and walks away disdainfully...

This is another example of pinball anachronism, since the machine was made 5 years after the event depicted in the movie.

One would expect pinball machines to be rather rare in Iceland due to high import duties and its remote location. Pretty much all of them were brought in for R & R purposes by the US military when they maintained a base there (so it's a little doubtful that one would be in a bar as depicted in this movie). Nowadays there are only about 60 machines in the entire country. Here's a little article about Keeping pinball alive in the land of fire and ice.

* It's possible that this was made by Chicago Coin. Stern took them over in December 1976 and continued to produce the title.

7 May 2017

Harper (USA, 1966)

Harper (USA, 1966)

Director: Jack Smight. Stars: Paul Newman, Lauren Bacall, Julie Harris, Janet Leigh, Robert Wagner...

Newman plays Harper, a private investigator who gets embroiled in a case and meets some crazy people. His character is a little bit of an S.O.B., tough, but loses some fights, quite witty and very entertaining to watch.

In some joint, he pumps a waitress for information next to a pinball machine...

He then talks to the barman, and finally asks for some dimes, walks over to the pinball machines -- Cross Country (Bally, 1963) and Go-Cart (Keeney, 1963) -- sticks his gum under a table, but before he's able to coin one of them up, he hears a cop car screech in and he goes to hide in the restroom to avoid them...



Although this blog is not about jukeboxes, this one was intriguing and easy enough to identify, so why not... At one point Harper ends up in a bar trying to get some info from Shelley Winters. We can spot a 1963 Rowe/AMI JAL model jukebox with a cool little animation thing (here's a fuzzy animated GIF showing that a bit)...


Not-quite Pinball Bonus:

Nine years later, they made a sequel called The Drowning Pool (USA, 1975)  and Harper embarks on another adventure. It was directed by Stuart Rosenberg and starred Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Anthony Franciosa, Melanie Griffith...

There's a scene in a bar where Harper talks to Richard Jaeckel and in the background, blurry, I believe is a pinball machine, but of course, too hard to identify. There appears to be a jukebox as well, again, too blurry to identify...


No Pinball Bonus:

Paul Newman also starred in The Hustler (USA,1961) which features several pool halls. There are no pinballs, but there are some interesting coin-operated machines...

Intro scene has an All-Star Deluxe Bowler (Bally, 1958)...



In a later scene in a bus station, we can spot a Deluxe Short-Stop (Williams, 1958) baseball (with part of cabinet painted over in a solid color), a rifle game I can't identify, and a Ten Strike (or Ten Pins), (Williams, 1957), two-player, mechanically animated manikin bowling game...

In the rest rooms, we can spot a "fortune teller" machine. The manufacturer is possibly "Zodiac" and the year is unknown, some sources say late 40s, some say mid-50s. I spotted this machine before, in Dazed And Confused (USA, 1993), see this post...


The "Is this your lucky day?" seems to be an optional topper...


22 Mar 2017

La balance (France, 1982)

La balance (France, 1982).
Director: Bob Swaim. Stars: Nathalie Baye, Philippe Léotard, Richard Berry, Tchéky Karyo...

A gritty crime story in a rough Parisian neighbourhood. After one of the cop's major informants ("balance" in French) is murdered, they go after the crime boss who is responsible and stop at nothing. They put pressure on a streetwalker (Baye) and her boyfriend (Léotard) who used be her pimp and work for the boss, and try to get them to inform on the boss.

We can spot a Devil's Dare (Gottlieb, 1982) through the window as the cops give Baye a hard time...

Later in a café we can see a bit of a Barcrest "Amabassadeur" slot machine with the boss' henchman/psycho Tchéky Karyo about to get nasty...

In one scene, five cops drag Léotard into a noisy busy arcade and work on him a bit. The camera pans by a row of machines and punks... we can spot Devil's Dare (Gottlieb, 1982), Black Hole (Gottlieb, 1981) (European model with no infinity mirror lights in backbox)...


... Mars God of War (Gottlieb, 1981), Spectrum (Bally, 1982), Rocky (Gottlieb, 1982), Haunted House (Gottlieb, 1982)...

The camera pans along, passing a 1970s Kasco Clay Shooting rifle game...

Finally the camera finds where the gang of cops have Léotard cornered, where we can spot a bunch of video games including Namco/Midway's Galaxian (or its sequel, Galaga), King Kong, and Pac-Man, and he's got his back against an Armor Attack (Cinematronics, 1980)...

The scene closes with the camera zooming in on the CRT to show an explosion...

Here in this café, we can spot a Rock-Ola 463 jukebox (1976) on the left, and a glimpse of a Barcrest Ambassadeur slot machine...


Bonus connections:
At the police station, there are a few movie posters, one of which is for The Enforcer (1976) with Clint Eastwood, which has a brief pinballspotting (see this post).

Also in the streets outside of a movie theatre, there's a poster of The Hunter (1980), which also had some pinballspottings (see this post).

In Tchao Pantin (1983), another French film set in a gritty part of town around the same time period, we also saw a Barcrest Ambassadeur slot machine as well as a Devil's Dare pinball machine... see this post.

15 Feb 2017

The Blues Brothers (USA, 1980)

The Blues Brothers (USA, 1980).  Director: John Landis. Stars: John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Carrie Fisher, John Candy...

Pure gold comedy classic with Belushi and Aykroyd expanding their characters from a Saturday Night Live sketch into a feature-length film. A fun ride (whilst being chased by cops) and filled with great funny lines. The list of musical talent in cameo and supporting roles is unbelievable...  Cab Calloway, James Brown, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, John Lee Hooker, etc. etc.

In the scene where the Blues Brothers invade Bob's Country Bunker (where they have both types of music: country and western), we can spot several machines...

As Jake and Elwood Blues first walk in, they pass by a jukebox that resembles a Seeburg V200 (1955-6)...

Then they pass pinball 3 machines... from left to right: a 4 Square (Gottlieb, 1971) wedgehead, a Monte Carlo (Bally, 1972) and a Blue Chip (Williams, 1976)...


The famous chicken-wire fronted stage, flanked on both sides by a pinball machine. The one on the left is too hard to make out. The one on the right is a wedgehead, which I'm pretty sure is a Buccaneer (Gottlieb, 1976)...


During the set, Bob expresses his appreciation for the "The Good Ol' Blues Brothers Boys Band" whilst his patrons play the 4 Square and Monte Carlo machines seen earlier. On the wall is a warning to minors about a $500 fine, which, if it's for playing pinball, seems pretty steep...

Bring me four fried chickens and a Coke, please. And some dry white toast.