HomeMoviesWait! Have You Not Seen... Under The Rainbow?

Wait! Have You Not Seen… Under The Rainbow?

Why does it take me so long to write these? I have a list of films that I think people should see, but the typing is the struggle. To recap where we are: I worked at a bunch of video stores; pretty much watched three movies every night for more years than I can count. So I have horrible taste in movies, but you can’t say I avoid stuff. But I figure if I can I should squeeze a few more for me to write and tell you about. Here is the last of the ones that was a favorite of my father’s. I don’t recall the first time seeing this one, but I only remember it being on a VHS tape my dad had. I know he still has it. Pretty sure the third movie on it was Heartbeeps, but maybe there was one in front of it. All I know is the middle one was all we watched. We for some reason watched this one and laughed. So here it is… 

Under the Rainbow

How do I start with this flick? Well, the film happens to take place in a hotel. It appears to be California and an early Hollywood time. A completely diverse group of people are checking into a hotel. An MGM employee, a secret service agent, a duke and duchess, a Nazi secret agent, and a Japanese man. Did I mention that there are also 150+ little people checking in as well? Yeah, this hotel is where the munchkins were staying before the filming of Wizard of Oz. Haha; no way this flick could ever be made today. The more I write about it the more I realize how have people not seen this, but also how was it made. Anyway, the shenanigans begin in the hotel as the Nazi agent is looking for a map. I don’t even remember what it is for, but that is where I will leave you, because it’s all about the cast. The MGM employee Annie Clark, is played by Carrie Fisher. 1981 Carrie Fisher. This is post-Star Wars, post-Empire Strikes Back and post-Blues Brothers. She is as gorgeous as you remember her, and she is unreal in this. The next main character is the Secret Service escort Bruce Thorpe, played by some guy named Cornelius Crane Chase. You may know him better as Chevy Chase. But again 1981 Chevy Chase. Post-Saturday Night Live, post-Foul Play, post-Caddyshack, and post-Seems Like Old Times. At the start of his rise to comedic superstardom. And both in this flick which now no one would ever even touch. 

Let’s talk about the rest of the cast for this flick because that is where this movie is nuts. I will start with the Nazi secret agent Otto Kriegling. He is played by the greatest “little person” actor of all time, Billy Barty. If you don’t know about Billy Barty, please grab the book “Within Reach”. I read it a few years ago and it blew me away. Well, I will call out his most epic roles. He plays Gwildor in the Dolph Lungren Masters of the Universe, the High Aldwin in Willow, and my favorite Noodle Macintosh in Weird Al’s UHF (I wrote about that flick). He also is who Ralph Bakshi rotoscopes for I think Frodo and Samwise in the Animated Lord of the Rings flick. Okay, next actor. Let’s do the Duke. He is played by Joseph Maher. A face you will immediately recognize from a handful of films. I will call out his amazing performance in Whoopi Goldberg’s Sister Act as Monsignor O’Hara. Brilliant actor who passed away in ‘98 from a brain tumor. He would for sure be stealing scenes even now because he was awesome. And now his partner in the flick, the dutchess. Played by Eve Arden. As someone who early in my movie fandom bit the bullet and watched every black and white film I could see, she is in most of them. She acted with Douglas Fairbanks Jr and Ginger Rodgers in Having a Wonderful Time. Weird title, but I remember it because Lucille Ball is in it as well. She is in At The Circus with the Marx Brothers, which is crazy. But let me bring a more recent reference. She is the Principal in Grease and Grease 2. Yup, you know her. And I am skipping over her Oscar Nomination and her Emmy win. Okay, two more. The Japanese contact for the Nazi agent, Nakamuri. This role is played by Mako, the Wizard of the Mounds in Conan the Barbarian. I don’t use the name they give him in Conan The Destroyer because the first movie is perfect and anything after it taints the first one (Ed. — agreed). So tough to pick a last cast member, but let’s just say if you were a “little person” acting in Hollywood you appeared in this movie. Tony Cox, from Bad Santa, Cork Hubbert, Brown Tom from Legend, Zelda Rubenstein, Tagina in Poltergiest. Great ast. And I even skipped Adam Arkin. 

The people who put this flick together, let’s start with the director. Steve Rash. He started right out of the gate with The Buddy Holly Story with Gary Busey in 1978. This is his next film, but the streak after this is nuts. Can’t Buy Me Love 1987, Son in Law 1993 (Pauly Shore!!! The Weiz!!!), and then a bunch of American Pie, Road Trip, and Bring It On sequels. Sadly all I have seen. Totally decent director and not someone I hunt out for, but solid. The next fascinating bit is the cinematographer, Frank Stanley. I only know him as the cinematographer who worked with Eastwood in a bunch of films. Last was The Eiger Saction which he got injured on and was wheelchair bound I believe after that: random movie knowledge that I have no clue why I remember. One day a Jeopardy question, hopefully. The music is done by Joe Renzetti, who was nominated for the music for The Buddy Holly Story, but I recently learned was a session musician that played on a ton of hits.

And last but not least a few quotes I love from this flick. 

Look! The Hindenburg!

Zee pearl is in zee river!

I have said the last one a million times and no one ever knows what it is from. Maybe my dad and Mako or Billy Barty, but they have passed on. Too good. Like I said earlier, this movie would never be made today, hell probably would not have been made in 1984, but drugs were good back then and go for it. Let’s hit you with some last nuggets. As I said earlier, if you were a “little person” working in Hollywood you were in this movie. Let’s name three more. Phil Fondacaro, this is his first role, but he is Vohnkar in Willow and I also know he is Sir Nigel Pennyweight in Ghoulies II. I love that flick. Next is Debbie Lee Carrigton. This is also her first flick, but you will know her as Thumbalina in Total Recall. She is also in the Tiffany doll in The Bride of Chucky. But her as Thumbalina in Total Recall is the iconic classic. Why don’t I have that as a patch or shirt. And last is Jerry Maren. He was the oldest living munchkin from the original Wizard of Oz. Super cool he is in this flick, even though now it is not viewed as a highlight in his filmography, but I think it is cool. Like most flicks I recommend, this is a four dollar rental from multiple sites. I will get my singles ready because I feel this one is going to hit a bit different than my normal selections.

Steve Uchrin
Steve Uchrin
Steve Uchrin is a former comic shop clerk, a former video store clerk, and current married dad of two girls with zero interest in comics or movies. Owner of 10+ terabytes of flicks and the largest McDonald's "cocaine" spoon collection this side of the Mississippi.


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