RIP, Herbert Lom


I missed this one a couple of days ago, but I just wanted to pay tribute to one of my all-time favorite character actors. I remember first seeing Lom when I was 5 years old in “The Return of the Pink Panther,” playing Peter Sellers’ Inspector Clouseau’s character’s long-suffering boss Chief Inspector Dreyfus. He was quite good in any number of movies he appeared in, but in addition to Dreyfus, my favorites are the original “Ladykillers” from 1955, his KGB spy in “Hopscotch” (1980) and as the kindly neurologist in David Cronenberg’s “The Dead Zone” (1983).

Here is one of my favorite Lom / Dreyfus scenes, from the opening of 1976’s “The Pink Panther Strikes Again.” Dreyfus is leaving a mental hospital after being driven mad by being Clouseau’s boss, but goes off the deep end again after running into Clouseau. This is a bit slapsticky (director Blake Edwards’s stock in trade), but it still brings a smile to my face.

“Rock and Roll” – Detroit with Mitch Ryder

An early cover of The Velvet Underground’s “Rock and Roll” by Mitch Ryder’s post Detroit Wheels’ project with the guitars and volume cranked up.  Lou Reed famously said this version was superior to the Velvet’s version, which he confirmed by hiring the producer of this album (Bob Ezrin) for Reed’s 1973 album “Berlin” and guitarist Steve Hunter for his legendary “Rock and Roll Animal” tour.


“Looking for Love” – Lou Reed

From Reed’s highly underrated album “The Bells” from 1979, comes this lovely homage to the Crystals and the Ronnettes, with a rollicking Phil Spector-ish saxophone and swinging beat carrying it along.  Reed was really onto something with his late 1970s Arista-label recordings in binaural sound.  They are truly a wonder to listen to even to this day.

“Fear of a Black Hat” (1994) dir. Rusty Cundieff

The cultural success of 1984’s “This is Spinal Tap” unleashed not only several films, but an entire genre we now know, sometimes love, and sometimes loathe, called “mockumentary.”  Some of the mockumentaries that have followed in “This is Spinal Tap”‘s wake have been good, some bad.  “Fear of a Black Hat” is on the good end of things.  Granted, it’s not a perfect movie and it’s very uneven, but it’s also quite funny, intelligent, and charming.  And if you watch it more than once, it will definitely grow on you like many good comedies inevitably do.  I remember reading about this in “Film Threat” magazine back in 1993 and when it hit one of my local theaters in the spring of 1994, I was intrigued enough to check it out.  I think it was a test release, since it didn’t get national distribution until later that summer.  I remember being one of two paying customers in the theater (and the showtime was a discounted matinee) and I remember liking it a lot.   I saw it many months later when it came out on video and liked it even more.  The attached trailer seems a little corny by today’s standards, but don’t let that dissuade you from checking it out.  It’s a solid mockumentary.  And trivia note: the beautiful female interviewer is Kasi Lemmons, director of the brilliant “Eve’s Bayou,” “The Caveman’s Valentine,” and “Talk to Me”.  (Sorry, I have a bit of a crush on Ms. Lemmons)

Cundieff popped up later on Michael Moore’s 1990s show “TV Nation” and has been involved with many great comedy TV shows, from”Chappelle’s Show” to “The Wanda Sykes Show.”  Cundieff’s a very funny man.  Let’s hope he gives us another feature soon.

“I Am a Demon and I Love Rock n Roll” – Sweatmaster

I love loud, sharp percussion and heavy guitars.  Wait until the full crush of guitars kicks in about 1:05 into the song  It reminds me of the way the wall of guitars kicks in on Ian Hunter’s “Once Bitten, Twice Shy.”   This song has the same beat as my daughter’s favorite schoolyard singalong “Lemonade, Crunchy Ice” and rocks just as hard.  I have no idea what the video has to do with the song, since the song never mentions customized Volkswagens.

“The Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation With At A Party” … From Saturday Night Live (2012)

Probably the funniest thing I’ve seen on SNL in years.   Really dumb people who think they’re smart is always one of my favorite comedic genres.  However, Cecily Strong positively nails it, from the deliberate, thick-tongued way of speaking to the distracted mannerisms to the strongly held convictions about concepts she has no clue about. Positively brilliant.

“Hate to Say I Told You So” – The Hives

For a brief period during the early – mid 2000s, lo-fi garage punk seemed like the “the next big thing.”  While the genre had been around for years, the White Stripes brought it to the mainstream and achieved huge commercial success, surprisingly with little-to-no commercial polish present.  Seriously, those White Stripes recordings from that period sound like they came directly from the Crypt Records catalog.  The Hives (from Sweden)  were another band from that period everyone expected to be big and while they achieved some recognition, it wasn’t on the level of the Stripes.  Still, their music was truly wonderfully grungy stuff.   10 years later, this still packs a punch.  And it’s nice to see they’re carrying on the fine Swedish pop band tradition by wearing matching suits.