Saturday, June 15, 2019

Dick Barton: Special Agent (1948)

 (This post is part of the Great Amicus-Hammer Blogathon hosted by Gill of Realweegiemidget Reviews and Barry of Cinematic Catharsis )

Hammer Films remains best known for their the many horror movies that they have released over the years, as well as a smattering of psychological thrillers, science fiction movies, and comedies. Prior to the release of The Quatermass Xperiment in 1955, however, Hammer had released films in a wide variety of genres. Among these was the action/adventure film Dick Barton: Special Agent (1948).

Dick Barton: Special Agent (1948) was based on the highly successful BBC Light Programme radio show of the same name. Both the film and the radio show centred on Captain Dick Barton MC, a former Commando who worked as a private investigator and occasionally an agent of the British government. Dick was assisted by his friends, the Scotsman Jock Anderson and former platoon sergeant Snowey White. Dick Barton--Special Agent debuted on the BBC Light Programme on October 7 1946. Its 15 minute episodes aired every weekday evening. The show was created by Norman Collins, who was then Controller of the Light Programme (he would later move to the BBC Television Service and still later he would co-found ATV).

Dick Barton--Special Agent proved wildly popular. At its peak over 15 million listeners tuned into the show every night. It should come as no surprise that Dick Barton--Special Agent was most popular with schoolboys. It is for that reason that the BBC drew up a strict code of what was not permissible on the show. There could be no sex, no liquor, and no foul language. Even the violence was limited to fist fights. Despite this, Dick Barton--Special Agent received the disapproval of clergymen, teachers, and other moral watchdogs. Among those who was not particularly comfortable with Dick Barton--Special Agent was Val Gielgud, head of BBC Drama.  It is perhaps for that reason that Dick Barton--Special Agent went off the air March 30 1951. Its time slot was taken over by a relatively young show, The Archers, which continues to air to this day.

Of course, the phenomenal popularity of Dick Barton--Special Agent meant that a feature film was probably inevitable. In Britain in the 1930s and 1940s it was not unusual for popular radio shows to be adapted as motion pictures. The popular radio programme The Band Waggon provided the basis for the 1940 film of the same name. The popular radio show Send for Paul Temple was adapted as a movie in 1946 and was followed by three more films. British audiences probably were not surprised when Dick Barton made it to the big screen.

Dick Barton: Special Agent  was directed by Alfred J. Goulding, who had directed Harold Lloyd shorts for Hal Roach in the Silent Era and later films featuring Roscoe Arbuckle and Harry Langdon. Dick Barton: Special Agent would be Alfred J. Goulding's penultimate film. His last film would also be for Hammer, The Dark Road (1948).

It is perhaps because of Alfred J. Goulding's experience in comedy that Dick Barton: Special Agent plays as a comedy thriller. Much of the film's running time is devoted to the hi-jinks of  Dick's sidekicks Snowey and Jock, as well as the villain Dr. Caspar's henchmen. This was a large shift from the radio show, which was played with deadly seriousness for the most part. That having been said, the film's plot could have come straight from the radio show. While on vacation in a small village, Dick Barton (played by Don Stannard), Snowey (played by George Ford), and Jock (played by Jack Shaw) come upon a plot by unrepentant Nazi Dr. Caspar (played by Geoffrey Wincott) to pollute Britain's water supply with cholera-laced bombs.

Despite the fact that Dick Barton: Special Agent departed from the radio show, it would prove successful. It led to two more Dick Barton movies: Dick Barton Strikes Back (1949) and Dick Barton at Bay (1950). There were plans for a fourth Dick Barton movie, Dick Barton in Africa, but the series ended following star Don Stannard's death in an automobile accident. The success of Dick Barton: Special Agent would also lead Hammer to adapt more radio shows as movies: The Adventures of P.C. 49 (1949), Doctor Morelle (1949), The Man in Black (1949--based on the radio show Appointment with Fear), Meet Simon Cherry (1949--based on the radio show Meet the Rev.), and A Case for PC 49 (1951).

Today Dick Barton: Special Agent is hardly a respected film. It is not unusual to read reviews that not only refer to it as bad, but as possibly the worst movie Hammer Films ever made. At IMDB it has a relatively low rating of 4.1. It is certainly true that Dick Barton: Special Agent departs from the radio show in its tone. It is also true that it was made on a relatively low budget. Too much of the script is devoted to comedy, and the acting does leave something to be desired. That having been said, it must be considered that Dick Barton: Special Agent was made at a time when Hammer was still making quota-quickies (of which this movie is one). It must also be considered that it was made to primarily appeal to children. Indeed, it is no worse and actually a good deal better than many American serials and B-Westerns made in the Forties. Keeping that in mind, Dick Barton: Special Agent is enjoyable enough a way to spend an hour and eleven minutes. Some of the comedic bits are at least slightly amusing and, while the fight scenes obviously look fake (one can tell the punches don't make contact), there is enough excitement to satisfy fans of old-time movie serials and B-movies. It is also an interesting look back at a time when heroes were still nearly infallible and villains were unapologetically evil. Dick Barton: Special Agent can be fun if one simply doesn't expect too much.

Dick Barton would not completely disappear once his radio show ended in 1951. In 1972 a new version of the very first Dick Barton serial, "The Secret Weapon," was broadcast as part of the BBC's Golden Jubilee. In 2013 the BBC produced a new version of a Dick Barton adventure from 1951. The late Seventies would see several Dick Barton novels. In 1979 Southern Television produced a TV series titled Dick Barton: Special Agent. It seems inevitable, particularly in today's atmosphere of reboots and remakes, that Dick Barton will return.

I would not call Dick Barton: Special Agent a classic. It certainly is not a great movie. I am not even sure that I would call it a good movie. That having been said, I don't think it is nearly as a bad as some people make it out to be. As long as one keeps in mind that it is a quota-quickie made primarily for children, Dick Barton: Special Agent can be simple, harmless fun.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Tales from the Crypt (1972)

(This post is part of the Great Amicus-Hammer Blogathon hosted by Gill of Realweegiemidget Reviews and Barry of Cinematic Catharsis )

From 1989 to 1996 the TV series Tales from the Crypt aired on HBO. The show took its name from the classic EC comic book and adapted stories from the various EC titles. That having been said, HBO's Tales from the Crypt was not the first time stories from EC Comics had been adapted to another medium. Over a quarter century before HBO's TV series aired, Amicus Productions released a movie, also titled Tales from the Crypt, which adapted five stories from various EC titles. 

For those unfamiliar with EC Comics, it was a comic book publishing company founded by M. C. Gaines, who had earlier founded All-American Comics (one of the companies that would become the modern day DC Comics). Originally "EC" stood for "Educational Comics" and Mr. Gaines planned to publish comic books about science, history, and the Bible. Sadly, M. C. Gaines died in a boating accident in 1947. His son William Gaines inherited the company. He kept the initials "EC," but renamed the company "Entertaining Comics." After publishing titles from Westerns to superhero comic books, EC Comics finally found its niche with titles devoted to horror, science fiction, crime, and war, as well as the comic book that would become Mad magazine.

While EC Comics would become well-known for the quality of both their stories and their artwork, its various titles would prove controversial. EC Comics did not shy away from gore or graphic violence, and as a result their titles were a frequent target of moral watchdogs during the moral panic over comic books that ensued following World War II. The outcry over the content of comic books would eventually lead to the formation of the Comics Magazine Association of America and its regulatory body the Comics Code Authority. The Comics Code not only put an end to the gore and graphic violence earlier found in comic books of the era--it very nearly reduced them to children's literature. EC Comics tried to continue without its horror titles, but to little success. Eventually EC Comics cancelled all of its titles except for Mad, which it converted to a magazine format. Mad continues to this day as the only remaining title from EC Comics. 

While EC Comics had ceased its horror titles in 1954, they were hardly forgotten. In 1964 Ballantine Books began publishing black-and-white, paperback collections of stories from EC Comics titles. Among these were two collections of EC horror stories. The first was Tales from the Crypt, published in 1964. The second was The Vault of Horror, published in 1965. Further collections have been published ever since.

Among the fans of EC Comics was Milton Subotsky, one of the two American expatriates who co-founded Amicus Productions.  It occurred to him that EC Comics' stories could provide the basis for a good horror movie. He then convinced his partner and Amicus co-founder Max Rosenberg to get the film rights to the stories. William Gaines sold the film rights to the EC stories with the requirement that he would have script approval. At £170,000 Tales from the Crypt would have a slightly higher budget than most Amicus films, with some funding provided by American International Pictures, who would distribute the movie in the United States. 

Tales from the Crypt would take the form of a portmanteau film or "anthology." Amicus had already produced three such films, including Dr. Terror's House of Horrors (1965), Torture Garden (1967), and The House That Dripped Blood (1971). Both Dr. Terror's House of Horrors and Torture Garden were directed by Freddie Francis, who would also direct Tales from the Crypt

Tales from the Crypt uses a framing device of five strangers who become lost while touring old catacombs. They encounter the Crypt Keeper (played by Ralph Richardson), who then proceeds to tell them tales of how they will each die. The first of the stories was "...And All Through the House," starring Joan Collins as a woman who murders her husband on Christmas Eve only to find herself face to face with a psychotic killer dressed as Santa Claus. The second of the stories was "Reflection of Death," in which Ian Hendry stars as a man who leaves his family to be with his lover. The third of the stories is "Poetic Justice," in which David Markham and Robin Phillips play a father and son plotting to get rid of their elderly neighbour (played by Peter Cushing). The fourth story was "Wish You Were Here," which deals with a Chinese figurine that grants three wishes. The fifth story was "Blind Alleys," in which Patrick Magee plays a resident of a home for the blind who decides to take revenge on the home's callous director (played by Nigel Patrick). 

Despite the film's title, only two of the stories were actually from Tales from the Crypt: "Reflection of Death" and "Blind Alleys." "...And All Through the House" was from Vault of Horror. Both "Poetic Justice" and "Wish You Were Here" were from The Haunt of Fear. The movie Tales from the Crypt would be adapted as a novel by Jack Oleck and published by Bantam in 1972. Jack Oleck had written for EC Comics in the early Fifties. He primarily wrote stories for Crime SuspenStories, but he also wrote stories for The Vault of Horror and Weird Science-Fantasy.

Tales from the Crypt was released in the United States on March 8 1972. It would be released in the United Kingdom on September 28 1972.  Reviewing the film in the March 15 1972 issue of The Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert (who made it clear from the beginning that he was a fan of EC Comics) gave Tales from the Crypt a positive and highly humorous notice. On the other hand, Vincent Canby, who reviewed the movie in the March 9 1972 issue of The New York Times, gave the film a largely negative review, writing "Unfortunately, the only style exhibited by Freddie Francis, who directed the film, and Milton Subotsky, who wrote it, is in their dumb appreciation for ancient plot devices..." Since then the majority of critics have tended to agree more with Roger Ebert than Vincent Canby. Tales from the Crypt is not only one of the better known Amicus movies, but also one that is still held in high regard by many.

There should be little wonder that Tales from the Crypt remains respected in many quarters. Its strength is twofold. Milton Subotsky's script remains faithful to the original EC stories, retaining their original potency as morality tales. The cast is also remarkable, which comes as no surprise given it utilised some of the best known actors in British cinema. It is not every film that can boast Ralph Richardson, Joan Collins, Ian Hendry, Peter Cushing, Richard Greene, and Patrick Magee. What is more, the cast delivers the goods, with some very fine performances. 

Tales from the Crypt would prove successful enough to warrant another film that adapted stories from EC Comics. The Vault of Horror (1973) adapted five more stories from various EC titles. Curiously, all of the stories in The Vault of Horror were from Tales from the Crypt with the exception of one from Shock SuspenStories. None were actually from The Vault of Horror!

While Tales from the Crypt is not as well known as the later HBO television series of the same name, it is still regarded by many with fondness. It is one of Amicus Productions' best known portmanteau films and a true classic of Seventies horror. While Amicus fans will certainly appreciate it, I suspect fans of EC Comics and British horror in general will as well. 



Thursday, June 13, 2019

Where to Find Me on Social Media

I have two posts for the Great Amicus-Hammer Blogathon hosted by Gill of Realweegiemidget Reviews and Barry of Cinematic Catharsis over the next two days. With that in mind, I will simply leave you with where you can follow me on social media. And, yes, I have Facebook, but I hate Facebook.

Twitter

Instagram

Letterboxd

Pinterest


Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Power Pop Songs from the Late Seventies and Early Eighties

Yesterday I wrote a post about the 40th anniversary of The Knack's album Get The Knack. That got me to thinking about the boom in power pop bands that lasted from the mid-Seventies to the early Eighties. A few are known only to power pop connoisseurs. Others remain well known today. Here then are a few power pop songs from the era.

Power pop did not suddenly emerge in the mid-Seventies. The genre actually dates to the Sixties. In fact, the early Seventies saw such power pop artists as Sweet, Badfinger, The Flamin' Groovies, Todd Rundgren, and The Raspberries. Beginning in 1976, however, there would be a boom in power pop artists. Among the power pop bands that would precipitate the boom were The Nerves. The Nerves would form in Los Angeles in 1974 and released a self-titled EP in 1976. While The Nerves would break up in 1978, they paved the way for other Los Angeles power pop bands. Drummer Paul Collins would go onto found the influential power pop band The Beat. Bassist Peter Case would go onto found another influential power pop band, The Plimsouls. Their song "Hanging on the Telephone" would later be covered by Blondie.

Many consider Cheap Trick to be the quintessential American power pop band. They formed in 1973 in Rockford, Illinois. The band's self-titled debut album was released in 1977. While neither it nor their second album, In Color, would see a good deal of success, their third album, Heaven Tonight, would go to no 48 on the Billboard 200. Their single from that album, "Surrender," would go to no. 62 on the Billboard Hot 100. It would their fourth album, Cheap Trick at Budokan, that would really put them on the map. The album peaked at no. 3 on the Billboard 200. The singles from the album also did very well. "I Want You to Want Me" went to no. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100, while their cover of Fats Domino's "Ain't That a Shame" went to no. 35. While Cheap Trick has had its ups and downs, the band has continued recording and touring to this day (I had a friend who saw them just a few nights ago).

Cheap Trick wasn't the only pioneering power pop band to emerge from There was also Shoes. Shoes formed in Zion, Illinois in 1974. Their debut single "Tomorrow Night" was released in 1978 by Bomp! Records, which would lead to a recording contract with Elektra. Although they have never had a major hit, they have continued recording to this very day.

I wrote about The Knack yesterday, so I won't repeat myself here. That having been said, unless one counts songs by The Beatles, "My Sharona" is probably the most successful power pop single of all time. It is also probably the most famous power pop song by an American band.


When writing about the power pop boom of the late Seventies and early Eighties, many treat it as a purely American phenomenon. That having been said, Britain has produced its fair share of power pop bands, including the aforementioned Badfinger and Sweet. The Vapors formed in 1978. Their first album, New Clear Days, was released in 1980. It contained their only major hit, "Turning Japanese." Unfortunately, the band was not able to repeat the success of "Turning Japanese." Their second album Magnets did not sell well and the band broke up in 1982.

Rick Springfield was hardly a new artist when "Jessie's Girl" hit in 1981. He had been a member of Australian pop rock band Zoot from 1969 to 1971. He embarked on a solo career in 1971 and even had a hit with "Speak to the Sky." From 1972 to 1976 he would release four albums. It was in 1981 that "Jessie 's Girl" made a slow climb up the Billboard Hot 100.  It entered the Billboard Hot 100 in March 1981, but would not reach the no. 1 spot until August 1. Rick Springfield would have a few more hit singles, but none of them would be as successful as "Jessie's Girl."



Tommy Tutone was a band that formed in California in 1978. They saw middling success with both their self-titled debut album and their first single "Angel Say No." It would be with a song from their second album that would earn them eternal fame. "867-5309/Jenny" peaked at no. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1982. It also created endless headaches for those who had the number "867-5309." Tommy Tutone would continue recording into the Nineties, but never did repeat the success they had with "867-5309/Jenny."

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The 40th Anniversary of Get The Knack

It was forty years ago today that The Knack's debut album, Get The Knack, was released. The album would be a success right away. The album became Capitol Records' fastest selling album since The Beatles' debut album in the United States, Meet The Beatles. It reached the no. 1 spot on the Billboard album chart, where it stayed for five weeks. It should come as no surprise that the Recording Industry Association of America would certify it platinum for its number of copies sold. The first single from the album, "My Sharona," would reach no. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and remained there for six weeks.

The Knack formed in May 1978. In June the band made their live debut. The Knack were very much in demand at the various clubs along the Sunset Strip, to the point that they played over 50 gigs in six months. Even established rock stars took notice of The Knack, with Ray Manzarek, Tom Petty, and Bruce Springsteen all attending their shows. The record labels even took notice of The Knack, with thirteen labels offering them contracts. Eventually they signed with Capitol Records, who paid them the largest amount of money for singing in the label's history.

Get The Knack was recorded in only two weeks and for only $18,000, this at time when recording an album could take literally months and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.  The tracks on the album, as well as those on their second album (...But the Little Girls Understand) were all written while they performing at various clubs in Los Angeles.

As mentioned earlier, Get The Knack would prove to be a success almost immediately. So too would the first single from the album, "My Sharona." The genesis for the song grew out of a riff created by The Knack's lead guitarist Berton Averre. The band's leader, lead vocalist, and rhythm guitarist Doug Fieger then wrote lyrics for the song. Its inspiration was Sharona Alperin, who would eventually become Mr. Fieger's girl friend. Even after the two broke up, they would remain friends for their rest of their lives. Like the album, Get The Knack, "My Sharona" proved to be successful immediately. It entered the Billboard Hot 100 on June 23 1979. It hit no. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 on August 25.

Initially Get The Knack would receive some good reviews, but the success of both the album Get The Knack and the song "My Sharona" would lead to backlash among critics and others.  Conceptual artist Hugh Brown would even begin a "Knuke The Knack" campaign, which soon grew out of all proportions. Chief among the criticisms that arose from the backlash against The Knack was that The Knack were aping The Beatles. This was largely due to both Capitol's marketing of the band and The Knack's British Invasion-inspired image. The front cover of Get The Knack was a black and white photo evocative of The Beatles' second album With The Beatles. The back cover of the album was a colour photo that evoked scenes from A Hard Day's Night. The Knack's fashion sense was decidedly retro, with the band outfitted in suits, white shirts, and skinny ties. Even their musical style evoked the British Invasion.

What the critics of the time were apparently missing were three things. The first was that The Knack had little control over how Capitol marketed them. Most bands in the Seventies had little say as to their album covers or even the songs selected from their albums to be released as singles. Even if The Knack had objected to the cover of Get The Knack, Capitol could have gone ahead and used it anyway. The second was that The Knack were a power pop band, a subgenre of rock music that draws heavily upon the sounds of the British Invasion and often utilises the imagery from that era as well. Earlier in the decade the power pop band The Raspberries had dressed in suits evocative of the early to mid-Sixties while performing songs evocative of the era as well. Other power pop bands, from Cheap Trick to Shoes, would often utilise a Sixties aesthetic. For that matter many New Wave artists (New Wave being a closely related subgenre to power pop) also dressed in styles evocative of the Sixties, from Blondie to Elvis Costello. Third, The Knack's sound actually owed less to The Beatles than it did The Kinks and The Who. "My Sharona" is closer in sound to "You Really Got Me" than "I Want to Hold Your Hand." The claim that The Knack were ripping off The Beatles then seems to hold little weight in retrospect.

Another source of the backlash were claims that many of The Knack's songs expressed misogynist attitudes. Admittedly, this criticism is harder to dismiss. On Get The Knack there are about three songs that could be at least considered sexist, if not downright misogynistic. That having been said, an argument can be made that critics may have been unfairly singling out The Knack for criticism in this regard. Sadly, misogyny was all too common in rock music in the Seventies and the Eighties. Never mind that The Rolling Stones had produced songs that could be considered misogynistic in the Sixties, in the late Seventies one can find several examples of misogynistic songs from bands ranging from AC/DC to Van Halen. What is more, some of The Knack's contemporaries produced much larger numbers of misogynist songs than The Knack ever did. While I have no wish whatsoever to condone misogyny in rock music, I think attacking The Knack for misogyny while ignoring the many other bands that featured it in their songs at the time is a bit hypocritical.

A final source of the backlash was one that was very much under The Knack's control and seems to have been a mistake on the band's part at the time. Quite simply, The Knack refused to do interviews. This certainly did not endear them to the music press, and could explain why many critics were downright hostile towards the band. It also explains why the critics of the time fully embraced other power pop bands who sounded similar to The Knack, while finding fault with The Knack themselves. Quite simply, other bands would do interviews.

Ultimately the backlash against The Knack would hurt the band. Their second album, ..But the Little Girls Understand, only reached no. 15 on the Billboard album chart. The singles did not perform as well as their earlier work either. "Baby Talks Dirty" only went to no. 38 on the Billboard Hot 100 while "Can't Put a Price on Love" peaked at no. 62. Their third album, Round Trip, performed even more poorly. It only reached no. 93 on the Billboard album chart. To a degree the backlash against The Knack would even affect power pop itself to a small degree. Following "My Sharona," there would be a few power pop songs that would be hits: "Turning Japanese" by The Vapors; "Jessie's Girl," ""I've Done Everything for You," and "Don't Talk to Strangers" by Rick Springfield; "867-5309/Jenny" by Tommy Tutone; and "Talking in My Sleep" by The Romantics. That having been said, for the most part the boom in power pop that had begun around 1976 was over.  Even Cheap Trick, considered by many the quintessential power pop band, would see their fortunes decline in the early Eighties. While their albums continued to do relatively well into the decade, none of them saw the success of  At Budokan and Dream Police.

While Get The Knack would result in an enormous amount of backlash, the album would prove to be historic, as would the song "My Sharona," and not simply because they topped the charts. It was Get The Knack that signalled the end of disco craze, which had lasted nearly three years at that point. For much of 1979, the no. 1 albums were disco, including Rod Stewart's disco-flavoured Blondes Have More Fun, The Bee Gees' Spirits Having Flown, and Donna Summer's Bad Girls. Following Get The Knack, for the next several years the only disco album to top the chart was Donna Summers's On the Radio: Greatest Hits Volumes I & II, which was no. 1 for only one week in 1980. That The Knack signalled the end of disco is even more noticeable when looking at the Billboard Hot 100. In 1979, until "My Sharona" hit no. 1 on August 29, only three songs that were not disco had hit no. 1: The Doobie Brothers' "What a Fool Believes," Blondie's "Heart of Glass,"and Peaches & Herb's "Reunited." For the remainder of 1979 only one disco song would hit no. 1; "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)" by Barbara Streisand and Donna Summer hit no. 1 and remained there for only two weeks.

The success of both The Knack and their initial album, Get The Knack, would also have a lasting influence. Power pop bands from The Plimsouls to Material Issue to Teenage Fanclub appear to have some influence from The Knack. The Knack would even have an impact on bands outside power pop. Kurt Cobain once said of Nirvana, "I think we sound like The Knack and the Bay City Rollers being molested by Black Flag and Black Sabbath."

The Knack would never again repeat the success of Get The Knack or "My Sharona." The band's leader Doug Fieger died of cancer in 2010, effectively bringing The Knack to an end. While their success with their first album and their debut song would lead to a great deal of backlash, the album Get The Knack continues to sell well and "My Sharona" still receives a good deal of airplay to this day. Despite attacks from critics in 1979, The Knack would have a lasting influence.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

IMDB Has Two Errors on Vanessa Marquez's Profile Page

Being as close as I was to Vanessa Marquez, the actress best known for playing Ana Delgado in the classic film Stand and Deliver (1988) and Nurse Wendy Goldman on the TV show ER, I feel that I am one of the stewards of her legacy. Part of that stewardship involves insuring that her career is represented accurately. For the past several months I have been trying to get two glaring errors in her filmography on the Internet Movie Data Base, better known as IMDB, corrected. Unfortunately, it sometimes seems as if I am doing so to no avail.

The first error is under her movie credits. IMDB claims that Vanessa appeared in a film entitled Shift (2013). I know for a fact that she did not. Vanessa herself always acknowledged that her final appearance on screen was a cameo at the end of the fan film Return of Pink Five in 2006 aside from an interview she did with KTLA for Star Wars Day in 2010. Even for those who did not know Vanessa personally as I do, it would not take much research to realise that it is an entirely different Vanessa Marquez who appears in Shift (2013). Indeed, the film was made in the Philippines!

The second error is under her credit for Shorts, according to which she appeared in a short subject titled The Problem with Evolution (2017). Again, I know for fact that Vanessa did not. Not only did Vanessa always say that her final appearance on screen was in Return of Pink Five, but anyone who watched The Problem with Evolution would know that it is an entirely different Vanessa Marquez. The last time I checked, the short was available for viewing on YouTube.

The simple fact is that Vanessa's last appearance in a feature film was as Melanie in Twenty Bucks (1993), which was released on October 23 1993. Her last appearance on narrative television was as Wanda Hernandez in the TV movie Fire & Ice (2001). She certainly did not appear in any feature films, short subjects, or television shows in the Teens.

As to how these errors came about, the fact is that "Vanessa Marquez" is a very common name among Latinas. It is something like the name "James Thomas" among people of British descent or African Americans with regards to how common it is. While my beloved Vanessa Marquez, the Vanessa Rosalia Marquez born in Los Angeles County on December 21 1968, may have been the most famous woman with that name, she was by no means the only one.

Of course, a bigger question may be, "Why are these two errors persisting on Vanessa's profile page?" That I cannot answer. I have corrected them multiple times. There have been a few times that I could have sworn that both Shift (2013) and The Problem with Evolution (2017) had been removed from her profile. Unfortunately, they always seem to reappear. I have informed IMDB that I knew Vanessa personally and, quite honestly, it wouldn't take much research to verify that fact. For that matter, they could simply watch the two films in question and tell that it is not the Vanessa Marquez who played Ana in Stand & Deliver (1988) and Wendy on ER. I must confess I am becoming very frustrated with IMDB, which is the whole reason that I am writing this blog post. At any rate, I know Vanessa would not want to be given credit for things she did not do. If any of you reading this have IMDB accounts, please go to the profile page of my dearest Vanessa Marquez and correct her filmography. Perhaps you could accomplish something I cannot seem to.