See Maitland McDonagh and Ken Fox review this week's new flicks in Movie Talk!

Send your movie questions to FlickChick.

Question: I once read an interview with Eddie and the Cruisers/ Eddie and the Cruisers II star Michael Pare about the possibility of a second sequel. He said he had an idea for one, so when I found a review online for Eddie and the Cruisers 3, I was really excited although I wasn't so happy that Pare had been replaced as Eddie. Maybe that's why it didn't get any attention that, plus it was probably released direct to video. But I'd still kind of like to see it and haven't had any luck tracking it down. Can you help? -- Liz

FlickChick: You sent me on a merry chase, Liz. The fact is, nothing ever came of Michael Pare's idea for a second Eddie and the Cruisers sequel, whatever it was. The "review" you found of "Eddie and the Cruisers 3: Working Man Blues" is a hoax, and a really good one. "Working Man Blues" sounds ridiculous, but no more ridiculous then, say, MGM's upcoming WarGames (1983) sequel, Wargames II: The Dead Code, starring Matt Lanter as a teen computer whiz who hacks into a paranoid super computer programmed to run terrorist-attack simulations and directed by Mark Gillard, who once starred in the '70s Canadian sitcom Pardon My French. No joke.

So yeah, you could substitute 21 Jump Street alumnus Richard Grieco for Pare as an aging rocker, and restage key scenes from the first two films so the flashbacks match. That's basically what Eddie and the Cruisers II: Eddie Lives! (1989) director Jean-Claude Lord did for real: He needed a revised scene between Pare and co-star Tom Berenger, who'd picked up a best supporting actor nomination for Platoon (1986) during the intervening years, wasn't interested in coming back for a reshoot. So Lord just shot a new version of the scene, with Eddie talking to a different character from the first film.

"Dorito's commercial star Ali Landry" as Eddie's new love interest, a die-hard hip-hop fan? Check.

The plot's not-quite-timely spin on Farm Aid, which finds Eddie trying to put together a benefit for downtrodden pipefitters? Check.

Oh, and the director is former Perfect Strangers co-star Mark Linn-Baker (you remember, the second banana to quintessential one-trick pony Bronson Pinchot). Checkmate!

Even the poster is a pitch-perfect pastiche. So kudos to the prankster (and his cohorts -- the other two reviews in the column are bogus too, and equally inspired), but my sympathy to the Cruisers fans whose hopes I'm crushing.

Send your movie questions to FlickChick.

Question: As a small child my mother would keep me entertained in her restaurant by letting me watch TV for hours. About 30 years ago I saw a movie titled "Hell's-A-Poppin." It had what seemed to me at the time, every star in Hollywood making a cameo appearance; I have spent several hours searching the Internet to see if there is any reference to it. All I can remember about the movie is that Fay Wray and Joe E. Brown were in it and that at the beginning a man was walking through a theatre with a very small plant searching for a Mrs. Jones; by the end the tree was huge and he was once again yelling out for Mrs. Jones while the audience watched the show on stage. Any help that you can give me would be great -- I'd like to re-connect with this movie if I could. -- Gwenn

FlickChick: The trouble is that you've been spelling the title in a way consistent with the rules of standard English-language spelling. Try Hellzapoppin' and it's a whole different story.

An anything-goes showcase for hugely successful vaudeville comedians Ole Olson and Chic Johnson, it's anarchic, self-referential, broad, sophisticated, cynical, dated, prescient and just plain weird, all at the same time. There's so much happening on so many different levels that a little girl and a middle-aged movie geek can both get sucked in by its unrestrained looniness.

The plot and I used that word loosely revolves around the tribulations of a pair of comedians called Ole Olson and Chic Johnson as they try to make a movie for Miracle Pictures. The studio's slogan -- "If it's a good picture, it's a Miracle!" was appropriated with all due respect by movie buff-turned-filmmaker Joe Dante in his insider comedy Hollywood Boulevard (1976). The diverse cast includes comedienne Martha Raye, a pre-Stooge Shemp Howard and Savoy Ballroom stars Whitey's Lindy Hoppers.

Interestingly, the only group more anxious to get their hands on Hellzapoppin' than people whose little minds blown by seeing it on TV as kids are ballroom dancing enthusiasts: This clip, the only bit of the film I've been able to find online, shows you why.

Now the bad news as it applies to reacquainting yourself. It's never been available on VHS or Region-1 DVD (though there is a PAL-format tape and it was recently released on Region-2 DVD in the UK) and is rarely shown on US TV anymore. Even bootlegs are scarce and this is the point at which I need to say that bootlegs are illegal and revenues from the sale of such copies do not benefit the creators or legal rights holders, who aren't necessarily the same individuals. Sorry, that was cynical. True, though.

In any event, I'd be lying if I said I'd never bought a bootleg of an otherwise-unavailable film. Like, say, Hellzapoppin', which is entangled in a snarl of underlying rights issues, specifically the rights to the original play on which the movie was based, which Paramount Pictures apparently bought for a set period rather than in perpetuity. What where they thinking, you may ask. Well, what they were thinking back in 1941 was that the shelf life of movies was so short it didn't make sense to pay more than you had to for rights. Theater people had already learned to think long-term about the value of entertainment properties: If Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet could remain viable centuries after it was written, it made sense not to undervalue long-term rights. But back then, movies were as good as worthless a few month after they first appeared in theaters: There was no TV, no video, no DVD there weren't even revival houses. But oh, the frsutrating repercussions!

All thet said, there is a ray of hope: The Marx Brothers' Animal Crackers (1930) was out of circulation for decades for the same reason as Hellzapoppin', and the issues were eventually worked out.

Send your movie questions to FlickChick.


Question: I seem to remember hearing that Pan's Labyrinth, which I thought was one of the top three -- let alone top five -- movies of 2006, wasn't eligible for a best picture nomination at the Oscars. I was recently on the Academy's website and looked up the eligibility rules: I didn't see anything there about a foreign film being ineligible for best picture. Do you know the answer? -- Pat

FlickChick: Pan's Labyrinth was absolutely eligible for nomination in the best picture category. In fact, there's nothing to stop a film being nominated simultaneously in both the best picture category and the best foreign film category. It doesn't happen often but it does happen, witness The Emigrants (1971) and Z (1969).

So Pan was just plain overlooked. I read one theory that makes sense to me: The gist is that Pan made the foreign film cut because there's a special nominating committee for foreign films and they're required to watch all submissions, while best picture nominations are made by the entire membership. They're they're not required to view every eligible film and may not have seen Pan for the same reason many moviegoers haven't: It's in Spanish and they don't like reading subtitles. This is a bias I don't understand and while I'd like to think film-industry professions would feel an obligation to see a movie that garnered such overwhelming acclaim before nominating in the best picture category, I don't.