CineSavant Column

Tuesday July 25, 2023



Okay, here’s an entirely selfish personal question that benefits only ME . . . which is of course never a bad thing.

Back in the early 1960s, a beloved aunt living in France sent me a fancy hand puppet, a toy dragon with big eyes, fangs and spikes on its head, and fuzzy black fur over each eye. It was made of oily green rubber that smelled as if it never properly cured. A cloth sleeve was attached that went all the way up my arm. It was a perfect dragon puppet for a Punch & Judy show, but 10 year-old me decided that it was going to be my Reptilicus . It was an underprivileged time — toys for our favorite movie monsters just weren’t around, the way they are now.

Lo and behold, in an old TV screening of Sid Pink’s 1964 PYRO I just happened to catch a scene with what looked exactly like my hand puppet, but grafted on to a full dragon body.    The movie is a murder thriller in a circus setting; star Barry Sullivan offers to fix the broken dragon toy. I never caught up with Pyro again until now, when it showed up online, in a pretty poor copy.  

I still haven’t much to say about Pyrowhat I’d like to know is if any readers are aware of the toy I’ve described?  For my aunt to have found it, it couldn’t have been that rare of an item. Was I right, did the film’s property man cobble together a full dragon toy from the hand puppet?  Idle minds with better things to do would like to know!



Strange happenings on this illustrious Weekend. With all the hubub over the new movie, I took an expedition into the attic to locate my significant other’s dolls, now 62 years old. I found only these empty boxes, in a fairly advanced state of decomposition.  Too bad, they were a potent relic from the Mad Men years.

Very strange. About 20 years ago I remember seeing the original there, in her black and white-striped swimsuit, pony-tail hairdo, etc.

I’m sure that real collectors have all of these things in perfect condition, and are dusting them off for fun. This sad photo is the best I could do.  I’m not going to have a lot to say when True Believers question my commitment to Sparkle Motion .  After all, is Back in Action again, doing her bit as a Culture Warrior.

WAIT — hold the presses!


The secret cache of treasure has been located, just a few hours before deadline (what does all this have to do with a movie reviewing page?). It seems some proper packing took place a couple of years ago, with an entire complement of dolls nicely sealed up in nice plastic freezer bags. I’m calling it our morgue.    One way or another, a Michael Jackson doll got in there too. (These images get much larger when zoomed.)

As promised, we’ve located an original from 1960 or so, and she’s in dandy condition — I don’t think my significant other was all that into dolls, so it wasn’t played with all that much. I’m told that the legs on this original doll do not bend.

We had a bit of a poolside photo session.    I haven’t seen the movie but the dress seen in the trailer resembles this original. We have the original striped one-piece bathing suit but didn’t want to risk stretching it to put it on. And what good can come of circulating mental images of CineSavant playing with dolls?


Mission accomplished, thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson