Saturday, April 22, 2017

#2,342. Tarzan the Ape Man (1932)

Directed By: W.S. Van Dyke

Starring: Johnny Weissmuller, Maureen O'Sullivan, Neil Hamilton

Tag line: "He Knew Only The Law Of The Jungle...To Seize What He Wanted"

Trivia: Clark Gable was considered for the role of Tarzan, but was deemed too much of an unknown to play the ape man

Tarzan has been a popular cinematic hero since the days of silent movies, and in my lifetime alone there have been a number of films featuring Edgar Rice Burrough’s famous jungle dweller. The year 1981 saw the release of John Derek’s Tarzan the Ape Man (starring his wife, Bo Derek, as Jane); and Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes hit theaters in 1984. Even Disney threw their hat into the ring with an exceptional 1999 animated musical/adventure, and in 2016 Alexander Skarsgård played the title role in The Legend of Tarzan.

But for those of us who love the classics, Johnny Weissmuller will always be Tarzan, and 1932’s Tarzan the Ape Man marked the first of many times he would portray this iconic character.

Jane Parker (Maureen O’Sullivan) has made the long journey from England to Africa to visit her father James (C. Aubrey Smith), who owns a trading post that borders the jungle. But while Jane is busy taking in the rustic beauty of her new surroundings, dear old dad is trying to raise enough cash to leave Africa once and for all, and with the help of his business partner Harry Holt (Neil Hamilton), he’s concocted a scheme that will net more money than he’s ever had before. In short, James and Harry are undertaking an expedition to find the fabled Elephant Graveyard, a place that, if it exists, will surely house enough ivory to make both of them extremely rich. Against the wishes of Harry and her father, Jane decides to tag along, and together the trio (as well as a handful of servants and guides) make their way deep into the jungle.

Many dangers lie ahead of them, including snakes and crocodiles, but one thing they didn’t expect to see was Tarzan (Weissmuller), who, despite his obvious European lineage, lives among the creatures of the jungle, unable to speak or understand a word of English. Swinging through the trees from vine to vine, Tarzan abducts Jane (the first white woman he’s ever seen) and carries her back to his treetop home. As James and Harry search frantically for her, Jane tries to communicate with her captor, and over time she and Tarzan develop feelings for one another, but will love be enough to keep them together, or will their differences ultimately force them apart?

Tarzan the Ape Man is a top-notch adventure movie; even before the title character hits the screen, there’s excitement aplenty (while traveling down river on makeshift rafts, Jane and her companions encounter angry hippos and hungry crocodiles; and a walk along the side of s sheer cliff nearly costs Jane her life). Once the Ape Man himself enters the picture, the action kicks into high gear, with Tarzan and his pet chimp Cheeta dodging a steady stream of ravenous jungle cats (director Van Dyke recruited a number of real animals for the film, though Tarzan’s ape “family” was mostly men in suits).

Weissmuller may not have been the most charismatic actor ever to play Tarzan, but physically he was perfect for the role (a world-class swimmer, he won gold medals at both the 1924 and 1928 Olympics), and O’Sullivan delivers a spirited performance as Jane (carrying the scenes she shares with Weissmuller on her own). But as well-realized as these two characters are, even they take a back seat to the film’s numerous action scenes, all of which are flawlessly staged (the final sequence, when Tarzan must save Jane and the others from a violent pygmy tribe, is as thrilling as it gets).

The first in what would be a long-running series (12 movies in all), Tarzan the Ape Man is arguably the best adventure film to come out of Hollywood during the pre-code era, and one of the greatest of all-time.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

#2,341. The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother (1975)

Directed By: Gene Wilder

Starring: Gene Wilder, Madeline Kahn, Marty Feldman

Line from the film: "Is this rotten or wonderfully brave?"

Trivia: Apparently, Gene Wilder asked Mel Brooks to direct this picture. Brooks declined, stating that he would find it difficult to direct a screenplay that wasn't his own

Fresh off of Young Frankenstein, Gene Wilder wrote and directed The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother, a 1975 comedy that co-starred a trio of Mel Brooks regulars (Madeline Kahn, Marty Feldman, and Dom DeLuise). Brooks himself even lent his voice to the production (he utters one line, spoken off-screen, when a character walks through a wrong door). 

Unfortunately, the “Brooks Touch” could only take this film so far; intended as a spoof of a classic mystery, The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother is funny in parts, but doesn’t match the sustained hilarity of Mel Brooks’ best work, making it a hit and miss affair (with more misses than hits).

A secret document that Queen Victoria (Susan Field) entrusted to the British Foreign Minister, Redcliff (John Le Mesurier), has been stolen. Instead of tackling the theft himself, renowned detective Sherlock Holmes (Douglas Wilmer) passes the case to his younger brother Sigerson (Wilder), who he hasn’t seen in years. To assist his brother, Sherlock hires Sgt. Orville Stanley Sacker (Feldman), a Scotland Yard detective with a photographic sense of hearing, and together Sacker and Sigerson begin looking for clues, knowing full well that if the document falls into the wrong hands, it could plunge England into a costly war.

Sigerson’s first break in the case comes when actress Jenny Hill (Kahn) pays him a visit. Though she’s clearly a pathological liar, the younger Holmes gathers enough information from Ms. Hill to discover that the document is currently in the hands of Opera singer Eduardo Gambetti (Dom DeLuise), who intends to sell it to none other than Sherlock Holmes’ arch-nemesis Dr. Moriarty (Leo McKern)! Despite the fact he cannot trust her, Sigerson soon falls in love with Ms. Hill, and is determined to protect her at all costs. But how does she figure into this bizarre case? Further still, can Sigerson and Sgt. Sacker retrieve the document before Morairty turns it over to a foreign power?

The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother does have some very funny moments, including Sigerson’s first meeting with Jenny Hill (Madeline Kahn, always a gifted comedienne, is especially good throughout the movie); and Moriarty’s initial attempt to buy the document from Gambetti (DeLuise is so deliciously over-the-top that you can’t help but laugh at his antics). In addition, there’s a horse-drawn carriage chase that has a great payoff, but it’s the big opera scene towards the end that is the film’s most uproarious sequence (Gambetti translated an Italian opera into English, putting his own unique spin on the story, and the result is positively hilarious).

But with its straightforward approach to its central mystery (which is never as well-defined as it should be), The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother doesn’t really work as a spoof (aside from a clever bit at the beginning, Sherlock Holmes and his illustrious sidekick Dr. Watson, played by Thorley Walters, are hardly in the movie at all), and many of the jokes fall flat (a ballroom dance scene late in the film, set moments after Sigerson and Sacker have escaped a deadly trap, drags on a bit too long to be fully effective).

I hate to dismiss the film completely, in part because I remember loving it as a kid (I recorded a sanitized version off of network TV in the ‘80s, so this is actually the first time I’ve seen the movie in its unedited form), but if it’s laughs you’re after, The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother is only fitfully successful at delivering them.

Monday, April 17, 2017

#2,340. Lady Frankenstein (1971)

Directed By: Mel Welles

Starring: Joseph Cotten, Rosalba Neri, Paul Muller

Tag line: "Only The Monster She Made Could Satisfy Her Strange Desires!"

Trivia: Rob Zombie sampled a line from this film for his song "Living Dead Girl"

After years of medical training, Tania Frankenstein (Rosalba Neri) returns to her ancestral home, eager to assist her father, the Baron (Joseph Cotten), in his most recent experiment. With the help of his crippled friend (and longtime lab assistant) Charles (Paul Muller), the Baron is ready to show the world that, under the right circumstances, dead tissue can be reanimated. Using cadavers that he purchased from Lynch (Herbert Fux), a professional grave robber, the Baron does, indeed, build a man out of spare parts and bring him to life. Unfortunately, his creation is a hideous monster (Peter Whiteman) that, after murdering the Baron, escapes into the nearby woods.

Distraught over the death of her father, yet at the same time anxious to prove his theories were correct, Nadia sets to work creating a “man” of her own. Learning from the Baron’s mistakes, she intends to use the body of a handsome, backward farm boy named Thomas (Marino Masé) and the brain of her father’s longtime assistant, Charles! But as Nadia toils in the laboratory, The Baron’s monster is busy roaming the countryside, killing villagers and capturing the attention of Constable Harris (Mickey Hargitay). As Harris probes into this very strange case, Nadia draws closer to finishing her grand experiment, but will she actually succeed where her father failed, or is her “man” destined to be as unstable as the monster that is terrorizing the locals?

In the handful of films I’ve seen her in (Jess Franco’s 99 Women, Fernando DiLeo’s Slaughter Hotel), Italian-born actress Rosalba Neri was relegated to supporting roles. In 1971’s Lady Frankenstein, however, she plays Nadia, the lead, and is quite believable as a woman of science hoping to follow in her father’s footsteps. Along with Ms. Neri, Lady Frankenstein co-stars Mickey Hargitay, who, with appearances in Bloody Pit of Horror and Black Magic Rites, was himself no stranger to the cinema’s seedier side, while Joseph Cotten plays the Baron with plenty of gusto, portraying a man of science whose research sets the entire story in motion. Despite an impressive Hollywood track record, which includes Citizen Kane, The Third Man, and Shadow of a Doubt, Mr. Cotten was also an integral part of the Vincent Price vehicle The Abominable Dr. Phibes, and was effective as a scientist (and Barbara Bach’s father) in 1979’s Island of the Fishmen

With a cast like this, you might expect Lady Frankenstein to be just another sleazy European flick, and while it does have a smattering of nudity and a few genuine shocks, this 1971 movie has more in common with Hammer Studio’s classic horror films (Curse of Frankenstein, Horror of Dracula) than it does the standard ‘70s exploitation fare.

For one, the set pieces are superb; the lab in which both of the Frankensteins perform their experiments looks as if it was lifted straight out of a 1930’s Universal film, while the castle that serves as their ancestral home is as eerie as it is extravagant. In addition to its sets, Lady Frankenstein relied on several actual locations to move its story along (its exterior scenes reminded me, in a way, of Jean Rollin, who was himself a master at incorporating real locales into his movies).

Lady Frankenstein does have its weaknesses, chief among them the make-up effects (the Baron’s monster, with its protruding eye and scarred face, isn’t as creepy as it could have been). But with its gothic sensibilities, better-than-average production design, and unique approach to the time-honored story of man acting as God, Lady Frankenstein is a step or two above the typical Eurosleaze flick.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

#2,339. White Slave (1985)

Directed By: Mario Gariazzo

Starring: Elvire Audray, Will Gonzales, Dick Campbell

Tag line: "Only one thing kept her alive"

Trivia: This is the first of two movies that adopted the alternate title of Cannibal Holocaust 2

White Slave, a 1985 horror / adventure set in the jungles of South America, was released under a number of different titles, including Amazonia and, in a few European markets, Cannibal Holocaust 2, a blatant attempt to cash in on the notoriety of 1980’s Cannibal Holocaust. While there are, indeed, similarities between this movie and Deodato’s notorious film, White Slave doesn’t contain nearly as many shocks as Cannibal Holocaust, and at times is even a little dull.

Fresh out of boarding school, teenager Catherine Miles (Elvire Audray) decides to spend the summer at the South American rubber plantation owned and operated by her parents. To celebrate her arrival, Catherine’s father takes the family (including Catherine’s Aunt and Uncle) on a boat trip down the Amazon River. The good times are cut short, however, when the group is attacked by what appears to be a tribe of headhunters. Temporarily paralyzed by a poisonous dart, Catherine is eventually taken prisoner, and forced to watch as Umukai (Will Gonzales), a jungle warrior, beheads her mother and father.

Dragged to the headhunter’s village, Catherine is auctioned off to the highest bidder, who claims her as his wife. This doesn’t sit well with Umukai, who has fallen in love with Catherine, and he challenges her new husband to a fight to the death. Umukai is victorious, and over the course of several months tries to win Catherine’s heart. Because of his role in her parents’ demise, Catherine has sworn she will never submit to Umukai, and does everything she can to escape. But was Umukai actually the one who murdered her mother and father, or were they killed by someone else?

In addition to their similar settings (the jungles of South America), Cannibal Holocaust and White Slave are both presented as if they were documentaries; a large chunk of White Slave takes place inside a courtroom, where Catherine, months after her captivity has ended, is standing trial for murder (to explain this further constitute a spoiler). But with its story of a white person being integrated into a primitive tribe, White Slave has more in common with 1972’s Man from Deep River, the 1972 Umberto Lenzi movie that’s credited with kicking off the cannibal subgenre, than it does Cannibal Holocaust. Unfortunately, White Slave has a few too many scenes set in the headhunters’ village, and after a while Catherine’s ordeal begins to lose its potency. Worse still, there are sequences that are downright boring. And while Cannibal Holocaust did a decent job showing how “civilized” people could be more barbaric than so-called “savages”, White Slave’s attempts to do the same fail to hit the mark (a late scene involving a pair of hunters in a helicopter is anything but subtle).

As with most cannibal films from this era, White Slave has its share of extreme content (Elvire Audray is topless during her entire stay with the natives, and the scene in which Catherine’s parents are beheaded is appropriately gruesome), and even features a couple of animal deaths (unlike Cannibal Holocaust, however, the jungle creatures in White Slave are killed not by humans, but by other animals). The movie is also quite beautiful, taking full advantage of its picturesque setting. In the end, though, White Slave is too lethargically paced to be effective, and even with its handful of exciting moments is never as interesting as its predecessors.

Friday, April 14, 2017

#2,338. The Last Days of Disco (1998)

Directed By: Whit Stillman

Starring: Chloë Sevigny, Kate Beckinsale, Chris Eigeman

Tag line: "History is made at night"

Trivia: The disco seen in the movie was actually an old movie theater being renovated in Jersey City, New Jersey

The third in a trilogy, 1998’s The Last Days of Disco is nonetheless the only Whit Stillman film I’ve seen thus far (this movie, as well as 1990’s Metropolitan and 1994's Barcelona, make up what has been deemed the writer / director’s “Doomed Bourgeois in Love” series). And based on what Stillman accomplished with this movie, which features complex, well-rounded characters that are not nearly as mature as they think, it looks as if I’ve been missing out on something special.

By day, college graduates Alice (Chloë Sevigny) and Charlotte (Kate Beckinsale) work as proofreaders for a prestigious New York publishing company. But when the sun goes down, these two best friends head to New York’s hottest nightclub, where disco music fills the air and many of the city’s most eligible bachelors hang out. Alice, in particular, has the hots for two guys: Tom (Robert Sean Leonard), a lawyer who recently separated from his longtime girlfriend; and Jimmy (Mackenzie Astin), a junior executive at an advertising firm.

Part of Jimmy’s job (as least how he sees it) is to usher his company’s clients to the nightclub and show them a good time. Yet even though he’s friends with Des (Chris Eigeman), one of the club’s managers, Jimmy has been barred by the owner, Bernie (David Thornton), who dislikes people in advertising. Realizing his pal could lose his job, Des continues to sneak Jimmy into the club but learns he himself may be unemployed soon when Josh (Matt Keeslar), an assistant District Attorney, tells Des that Bernie and his nightclub are being investigated for tax evasion and other illegal activities.

Set in the early 1980s, The Last Days of Disco has a great soundtrack that includes some of the period’s biggest hits (“Le Freak” by Chic, “Turn the Beat Around” by Vicki Sue Robinson, Blondie’s “Heart of Glass”, and that perennial disco classic, Alicia Bridges’ “I Love the Nightlife”), and as a result the nightclub scenes have an undeniable energy. But more than a simple homage to a bygone era, The Last Days of Disco is an engrossing character study, throwing the spotlight on a group of well-to-do people who are ultimately very selfish.

Chloe Sevigny delivers an incredibly nuanced performance as Alice, the most down-to-earth of the bunch, who often wonders (along with the rest of us) why she remains friends with the shallow, occasionally cruel Charlotte (much of the so-called “advice” that Charlotte gives Alice, from how to talk to guys to what books they should recommend at work, usually leads to disaster). From early on, it’s clear that Charlotte, played quite well by Beckinsale (in her first American role), is jealous of Alice’s potential, and we sense from the get-go that their friendship isn’t going to last.

Not to be outdone, the male characters in The Last Days of Disco are every bit as self-serving as Charlotte. Tom does eventually hook up with Alice, only to spring the news that he’s reuniting with his girlfriend (but not before giving Alice a going-away present: a venereal disease). Jimmy, who lives in fear of being fired, has no problem putting his buddy Des’s job in jeopardy; at one point, Jimmy and two of his clients don Halloween costumes and sneak into the club. As for Des, he’s a drug addict who dumps women by telling them he’s gay, and while he’s clearly intelligent (his opinions on “Yuppies”, or “Young, upwardly-mobile professionals”, are thought-provoking), he’s also an habitual liar, and has been known to do some very stupid things (he rarely hides the fact he’s using drugs). Josh, who suffered a mental breakdown a few years prior, is more mature than the other guys, yet fails to act when he develops feelings for Alice, choosing instead to sit back and watch as she dates a series of men (including a brief tryst with Des) who aren’t good for her.

Their foibles aside, each and every character in The Last Days of Disco is fascinating in their own right, but most of what makes them so is Stillman’s clever, witty dialogue. Whether it’s Charlotte giving Alice more bad advice, or a debate on the merits (or lack thereof) of Disney’s animated film Lady and the Tramp, Stillman manages to convince us that even the most loathsome, self-absorbed individual can have something interesting to say, 

Across the board, the performances in The Last Days of Disco are top-notch, but it’s Stillman’s script that brings these flawed men and women so convincingly to life.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

#2,337. Terror in the Aisles (1984)

Directed By: Andrew J. Kuehn

Starring: Donald Pleasence, Nancy Allen

Tag line: "It's only a movie, but it's more than enough"

Trivia: The producers had to edit the film in order to avoid an X rating from the MPAA, despite the fact that none of the films featured had received a rating higher than R when they were initially released

As you watch the screen, your heart begins to beat faster. There’s a fluttering in the pit of your stomach. Your throat is dry, your palms damp. Suddenly a chill runs down your spine. You clutch the person next to you

You tell yourself it’s only a movie

Produced in 1984, Terror in the Aisles is a documentary that centers on the horror genre, and features clips from some of the finest fright movies ever made.

Hosted by Donald Pleasance and Nancy Allen (both of whom spend the entire film in a crowded movie theater), Terror in the Aisles covers the gamut, traveling back in time to the early days of horror with scenes from The Wolf Man, Bride of Frankenstein, 1958’s The Fly and Psycho, while also throwing a spotlight on what in 1984 were the genre’s most recent entries (Friday the 13th Part 2, Halloween 2, An American Werewolf in London, The Thing, and Firestarter). In addition to the scares, Terror in the Aisles takes a long, hard look at thrillers; there’s an interview with Alfred Hitchcock in which he discusses the difference between “shock” and “suspense”, as well as clips from such award-winning thrillers as Midnight Express, Klute and Marathon Man

From start to finish, Terror in the Aisles is a loving tribute to cinematic horror, but I have to admit that I was baffled by some of the movies that director Andrew J. Kuehn and his team chose to include. As mentioned above, there’s an extended sequence dedicated to thrillers that focuses primarily on three films: Marathon Man, Nighthawks (a 1981 crime/drama starring Sylvester Stallone and Rutger Hauer) and the underrated Vice Squad. I enjoyed this segment, even if it did feel out of place in a horror documentary, but what really left me scratching my head was the inclusion of a brief scene from Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief (and a romantic one at that)!

Also perplexing was the choice of movies used to fill each segment. At one point, Pleasance waxes poetic about the role that Satan has played in a variety of horror films, which is immediately followed by clips from what I consider the “Big Three” of devil films, namely Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist and The Omen). But in addition, this segment featured scenes from Jaws, Carrie, and even John Carpenter’s The Thing, all classics in their own right, but in no way Satanic in nature.

Yet as confusing as its segments could be, what bothered me most were some of the clips that the filmmakers selected. In short, they spoil a good number of horror classics, highlighting the final scenes from such movies as Psycho, The Exorcist, Rosemary's Baby, ’78’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Halloween 2, and David Cronenberg’s Scanners, just to name a few. Normally, a movie like Terror in the Aisles would be the perfect film to show a new fan of the genre, as a means of introducing him or her to some of horror’s most time-honored motion pictures, but with so many spoilers crammed into its 84-minutes, I’d recommend that novices avoid this documentary completely.

For the rest of us, though, Terror in the Aisles is an entertaining love letter to the best of what horror has to offer, and even with its flaws I found it to be a refreshing, fun-filled walk down memory lane.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

#2,336. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

Directed By: Martin Scorsese

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie

Line from the film: "On a daily basis I consume enough drugs to sedate Manhattan, Long Island, and Queens for a month"

Trivia: The actors snorted crushed B vitamins for scenes that involved cocaine

Even at age 70, director Martin Scorsese can turn out a hip, stylish motion picture, and that's exactly what 2013’s The Wolf of Wall Street is.

Based on a true story, The Wolf of Wall Street introduces us to Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio), who in the 1980’s was an up-and-coming stockbroker, eager to make his mark on Wall Street. Unfortunately, his arrival coincided with the market crash of October 19, 1987, and as a result, his career was seemingly over before it began.

To make ends meet, Jordan accepted a job at a small Long Island brokerage that specialized in penny stocks, and made enough money there to go out on his own. Partnering up with his neighbor Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill), Jordan hired old friends and trained them in the fine art of selling penny stocks to rich suckers. Within a few years, Jordan Belfort was back on Wall Street, and his company, Stratton Oakmont, was raking in millions.

Unfortunately, Jordan's rapid success went straight to his head; he and his co-workers regularly invited prostitutes up to the office, and Jordan began experimenting with every drug imaginable, from Quaaludes to cocaine. He divorced his wife Teresa (Cristin Milioti) to marry supermodel Naomi (Margot Robbie), and the wild parties he threw on his custom yacht would have made a college fraternity blush. Before long, all of New York was talking about Jordan Belfort, and his meteoric rise caught the attention of FBI agent Patrick Denham (Kyle Chandler), who dug deep enough into Stratton Oakmont’s business practices to put Jordan and his team behind bars for many, many years.

Jordan’s father, Max (Rob Reiner), who also acted as his business manager, begged Jordan to make a deal with the feds that would keep him out of prison. But Jordan Belfort wasn’t about to go quietly into the night, and it would take a series of scandals to bring his reign as “The Wolf of Wall Street” to an end.

As with many of Scorsese’s best works, The Wolf of Wall Street has its share of awesome scenes. An early sequence where Jordan demonstrates to Donnie and the others how to unload a worthless stock on a wealthy client is as funny as it is distasteful, and a speech Jordan delivers to his employees late in the movie, in which he was to announce his retirement (he changes his mind midway through), was dramatic enough to bring a tear to my eye. Yet, for my money, the film’s single greatest sequence has Jordan and Donnie taking outdated Quaaludes by the handful, only to discover later on (and at a very inopportune time) that the pills they believed lost their potency simply had a delayed effect.

From top to bottom, the cast of The Wolf of Wall Street is superb; DiCaprio received a Best Actor nomination for his performance as Jordan Belfort (and, in my opinion, he should have won it), while Jonah Hill breathes enough life into Donnie to take what is essentially a scuzzball character and make him a bit more tolerable. In addition, Margot Robbie is as effective as she is sexy playing Naomi, the woman who stood by Jordan’s side through the ups and downs, while Rob Reiner steals a scene or two as Max, the sole voice of reason in Jordan Belfort’s otherwise chaotic life. Yet the true star of The Wolf of Wall Street is its director, whose highly-stylized approach to the material (swooping cameras, slow-motion, engaging narration, etc.) helped make The Wolf of Wall Street the best movie I’ve seen this decade.

Of course, Martin Scorsese is no stranger to greatness; in each of the previous four decades, he managed to turn out at least one masterpiece. In the ‘70s, it was Taxi Driver, and just as the ‘80s were getting underway he hit us with Raging Bull. Throw in Goodfellas (which kicked off the ‘90s) and The Departed (the 2006 movie that finally netted him an Academy Award), and you have what is already one hell of a filmography.

It’s way too early to close the books on Scorsese in the 2010’s. But even if he fails to deliver at his normal level from here on out, at least he gave us The Wolf of Wall Street, and in so doing has continued what is a truly remarkable streak.