Friday, April 30, 2010

Hans Brinker - 1969

I guess you could call this Robin’s first real “starring” role. He landed this fresh out of high school and plays the title role. Hans Brinker is a teenaged boy in mid-1800s small town Holland whose father is a brain-damaged invalid as a result of a work accident 10 years prior. The family struggles along until hope comes in the form of a brain surgeon, whom Hans skates all the way to Amsterdam to beg to heal his father. This is a heartwarming, family-friendly musical which showcases Robin’s talent as a serious actor. His more lighthearted comedic roles are great, but I think they caused people to overlook the reality that he is a natural actor and really could have gone on to star in some more substantial leading man type roles.

Reading his autobiography is a must if you want to learn some funny and interesting “behind-the-scenes” tales from when he was making this! Especially amusing was that he and some of the other boys lied when auditioning for their roles, saying that they were advanced ice skaters, while in reality none of them knew how at all. Resulting in some quick “on the job” training in it at the last minute. I did notice that during all the fancy skating scenes, Robin is not given much screen time, even though he IS the star! Ha ha

Friday, April 23, 2010

Here Come The Double Deckers: “The Go-Karters” – 1970

You would think that this British TV series would be one of the harder appearances to find, but no! You can view this whole episode on YouTube! Amazing. And I for one am very glad to have not paid for it. It’s a really bad children’s show about a group of kids who make their clubhouse/hangout in some garage that houses a double decker London bus. The kids all have a distinct stereotyped persona: (the smart one, the fat one, the black one, the American one, the girl, the little pre-school aged one…) and you wonder how they got to be friends in the first place. They’re all a little bit annoying as well, they all overact. Loudly. This particular episode revolves around a go-kart they are making to put in a race. Not a lot of dialog, but lots of boring scenes of go-karts speeding around the track and speeding OFF the track. Just hilarious, I suppose, if you’re 5. Now for the reallllllly ridiculous part. Robin plays a “Hell’s Angel” biker guy dressed in a leather jacket who for some reason wants to compete in a children’s go-kart race and tries to sabotage the kids’ cart. Why on earth would a grown up (He’s 20 years old at this point in his life!) tough biker dude care about something like this is beyond me.

Friday, April 16, 2010

All Coppers Are… - 1971

An obscure one that isn’t readily available, but I happened to find mine on Ebay from someone who I guess takes British films and puts them onto DVD-Rs compatible with US systems. Probably not legal, but I’m glad he was able to get past Ebay’s strict guidelines about this sort of stuff -- because collectors need this kind of service!

Robin plays a small part as a young thief who gets caught by the main character, a young policeman. He appears only at the beginning and ending: thieving, being chased by the copper, getting thrown in jail…then at the end, bumping into the cop again as he rides around on his bicycle delivering newspapers. I’ve noticed that in a lot of his movies he’s either running for his life or riding a bicycle!

Not disappointed, though. It was really an enjoyable movie aside from having Robin in it. The story’s about the conservative young policeman who is married with a baby. He meets a longhaired guy about his age at a wedding reception – who is played by Nicky Henson. Nicky Henson is also an old favorite of mine from the “Elvira” movies, so I was very happy to see that he and Robin actually made a film together! Next to “Horror Hospital” my favorite Elvira movie was “Psychomania” where he plays a member of a motorcycle gang who find the way to come back from the dead after killing themselves. Apart from an episode of “Fawlty Towers” I have not seen him in anything else, so this was a nice surprise.

Getting back to the story…at the reception they also meet a young girl who Barry (Nicky) falls for but she more has eyes for the married copper, who, in a moment of weakness, winds up having a brief fling with her. When she finds out he’s married, she resorts to moving in with Barry, who is on the “other side of the law”. He’s planning to hijack a truck for some mobsters. Once he’s paid, they hope to flee London together. That is, if they’re not found out by…their old pal the copper!

Good story, good acting. Interesting glimpse of working class London and the people that populate the housing projects in an absolutely dismal looking part of the city. One protest-turned-riot scene was shocking to watch, as the small police force was sent out – with no weapons - to be a barricade against the mob of hundreds of angry young people. I guess it’s really like that over there, police officers not carrying guns, but it seemed almost like suicide to me.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Nicholas and Alexandra – 1971

Early in his career Robin played a very small part in this sweeping epic about the famous Russian ruler. He only has two appearances where he couldn’t be more different. First, he is shown with his family, dressed all in white, happily running through a field of sunflowers to meet an arriving train. Next we see him as a Russian soldier, miserable, dirty and starving, skinning and devouring a rabbit while in combat. He shoots another soldier who has come to admonish him. In his autobiography he mentions that he really was made to skin and eat a real raw rabbit! And how disturbed he was afterward that he did. After having seen that scene, I think that was horrible. It would’ve been very easy to disguise anything else as raw rabbit meat. Shows what a true actor is willing to do for his art.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

U-571 – 2000

Anxious to see Robin in a more recent role, I rented this one via Netflix. I innocently popped it in the player one Saturday night to watch with my husband. “I think I saw this already,” he commented. “Why did you pick THIS?” knowing full well it is not my preferred genre of movie. “Ummmm….I dunno….” I said with an impish smile. “Oh no.” He realized all too fast. “HE isn’t in this, is he???” I looked guilty. “What role could he possibly play in here?” he demanded. “I don’t know anything about it,” I confessed. “All I know is it said he plays a ‘British Seaman’”. So we settled in to scrutinize every scene to see if we could find him. “That’s him,” Jim says knowingly at an early dinner scene. “That young soldier there. I’d know him anywhere.” I roll my eyes. “In 2000, Robin Askwith is 50 years old. That is NOT him.” “Hmmm. Maybe he aged well?” he suggested. “It’s NOT him.” I was firm about it. Try as we might, we never did find him. Oh well. Weeks later, after doing some research, I learned from someone on the web that he was in a lifeboat of guys shot by the Germans. I did vaguely remember that scene, and reported back to my husband. “Why did he even take such a small part?” he wondered. Um, yes, WHY??? Well, actually, rumor is he did have a much longer scene, but it got cut! Humphs!

All in all, not a bad movie, but if you’re just looking for Robin, no need to bother looking for him here.

Update: just before I published this review, my husband found a VHS copy of this for me at a thrift shop. I dare anyone to find a more loyal husband, willing to hunt through thrift shops to make sure his wife accumulates every last movie made by her favorite movie star. Hehe. So, I went back and found that scene and YES now that I knew it was him saw that it WAS recognizably him. The picture I’ve included here is the ONLY time you will see him, so if you’re not interested in this type of movie, just look at this picture and you can say you’ve seen it. He’s the one standing up on the left of the boat. You hear him a little longer than you see him. He’s calling out, pleading to be rescued by a German ship, but they instead shoot the whole boat. Ugh to those bad, bad, Nazis, preventing Robin from popping up again later in the film!

10/5/10 UPDATE:

This'll be my first attempt to upload a scene to YouTube and embed it here. So fans don't have to wade through this whole movie to see his very very small part. Now, if you are unable to watch this clip, it may be because they took it off for copyright reasons or whatever, not sure how much of a film people are allowed to upload there. So far, it's still up and playable. So here goes:

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Queen Kong - 1976

There is no doubt this is the silliest movie ever made. But I just love it! It is not meant to be serious and the actors really play that up. You have to see it to believe it. At the time Robin wrote his autobiography he mentions that the film was never released due to lawsuit problems filed by the “King Kong” people – and he was glad because after seeing it himself, he found it all rather embarrassing. Sorry, Robin, I guess by now everything was resolved because I found a official DVD copy quite easily on Amazon for cheap.

Robin is really at his most beautiful here. Long golden hair bleached by the sun to be the blondest I’d ever seen it. He plays a “Portobello Road hippie” kidnapped by a woman who needs him for a movie she is making in Africa. While there, a tribe of women capture him to sacrifice to the 60 foot tall “Queen Kong”. Who, upon seeing him, does not want to eat him after all, but falls in love with him. She is captured and brought back to London, where she wreaks havoc until Robin manages to talk her out of it and ride off with her into the sunset.

I love the way the women dress him up in flowing white garments and a pink feather boa!