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Stagecoach (1986 TV Movie)
Sad. Very, very sad . . .
29 December 2001
Some movies just shouldn't be remade. Gone With the Wind, Casablanca . . . and Stagecoach. For some reason, though, Hollywood can't keep its hands off it. It was remade (badly) in 1966, and this one is even worse. It looks like a bunch of wannabe cowboys with some money decided they could make a western better than John Ford could (Willie Nelson was the executive producer of this), and they couldn't possibly have been more wrong. Everything, absolutely EVERYTHING, about this movie is pathetic. Ted Post is normally a first-rate director, especially of westerns (he did most of the "Rawhide" series with Clint Eastwood), but he either had a really bad day, or (what seems to be more likely) everyone in the cast simply ignored what he told them; there doesn't appear to be any discipline at all in this film. Everybody keeps trying to out-ham everyone else, or they're either so laid-back they're practically comatose. The photography isn't particularly good, the editing is horrendous, the scenery around Old Tucson (where this was shot) is completely wasted . . . and on and on. A really sad waste of time and money. Skip it.
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Good, bad or indifferent, at least Angel's in it!
28 December 2001
Angel didn't make all that many films in her career, but she had several things going for her: she was quite possibly the most stunningly beautiful woman ever to make adult films, her enthusiasm and freshness was intoxicating, and her perfectly proportioned, natural and virtually flawless body should have been classified as the Eighth Wonder of the World. No matter how lousy the movie was--and a few of them were--any film she's in deserves a "9" rating just by the fact that she's in it. This one actually isn't bad, and I'd say it was the best of her movies that I've seen. She seems to actually enjoy what she's doing, unlike many porn actresses who appear to be just going through the motions. If you haven't seen any of Angel's films yet, definitely check this one out.
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The Immortal (2000–2001)
Hilariously bad
23 February 2001
This is a real stinker, even for Lorenzo Lamas. At least his last atrocity, "Renegade," had the advantage of being made by people who knew what they were doing. This thing is so inept and shoddy in every conceivable department that even Ed Wood would be ashamed of it. The "acting" by Lamas and his cohorts (at least "Renegade" had the engaging--and competent--Branscombe Richmond as Sonny Sixkiller, Lamas' partner) is laughable, the scripts defy any kind of logic at all, the special effects appear to consist mainly of badly done overexposures, and the series doesn't know if it is a comedy, a drama or an adventure--which doesn't really matter, as it fails miserably on all three accounts. The premise is that Lamas is an immortal being whose task in life is dispatching demonic beings back to hell by means of a magical samurai-type sword. As one example of the series' stubborn refusal to follow its own conventions, it is stated that the only way Lamas can destroy the demons is to run them through with his sword; however, he is constantly seen pulling out large-caliber handguns and shotguns and blasting away at them when he finds them. All that happens is that the demons are knocked down, and keep getting back up to attack him. If that is so, then why does he continually shoot at them, if he KNOWS it has no effect? Apparently the reason is so that Lamas can be seen pulling out large-caliber handguns and shotguns and blasting away, which makes about as much sense as anything else in this show.

Anyway, the show is almost completely worthless. Good for a laugh, maybe, and every so often the producers will hire some remotely competent actress to play a scantily-clad demon and slink around, but that's pretty much about all it has going for it. The show tries to be all things to all people and winds up being nothing. Avoid it.
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Neat little western
4 February 2001
George Sherman was an old hand at B westerns due to his long stint at Republic, where he specialized in them. His experience shows in this tight little Universal B western. John Lund and Jeff Chandler are stalwart as, respectively, a cavalry officer trying to avert an Indian war and Apache leader Cochise. The cast is filled with veteran character actors, which is always an asset, and the action scenes are extremely well handled. Altogether a tight, enjoyable little western. Recommended.
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A rare good one from Cannon
19 January 2001
Most of Cannon Pictures' product is pretty much junk (they make Chuck Norris and J-C Van Damme movies, so what do you expect?), but this one is different. It doesn't have the rock-bottom cheapie look of most Cannon pictures, and the script, for once, actually makes sense (amazing, considering that Harry Alan Towers was one of the writers). The story concerns a young army lieutenant on his first combat assignment in Vietnam, and how he comes to earn the respect of his men. Michael Dudikoff is surprisingly good as the young officer who arrives at his post not knowing quite what to expect but determined to do his duty, and Robert F. Lyons is outstanding as the platoon's veteran sergeant who doesn't want a new lieutenant to get any of his men killed. The action scenes are very well staged and give you a real sense of being there, as opposed to the cardboard pyrotechnics that Cannon usually grinds out. All in all, a refreshing change from the usual Cannon crap. Recommended.
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Boston Public (2000–2004)
Where were these girls when I was in high school?
26 December 2000
First off, I like the show. It goes over the top a little too often, and Loretta Divine is a bit too much sometimes, but overall I enjoy it. Chi McBride is excellent as the principal, Anthony Heald, one of the best character actors around--remember him as the doctor in "Silence of the Lambs"?--is outstanding as the humorless, semi-fascistic but ultimately very lonely vice principal. The rest of the cast ranges from fair to good, but the main reason I watch the show is Sharon Leal. She's actually quite good as sexy teacher Marilyn Suiter, but it wouldn't really matter if she didn't do anything but stand in one spot for the whole show--I'd watch it. She is so damn gorgeous you can't take your eyes off of her. She has the face of an angel and the body of a porn queen, a great combination.

Not having been to high school for a few years, I can't really say if the portrayal of the student body is accurate or not (I was in high school when "Room 222" came out, and while it was generally a good show, the students were nothing like any high school kids I ever knew), but I doubt it. The students in this school seem to be obsessed with nothing but sex--ah well, I guess some things never change.

Interesting show, pretty well acted, cleverly written. And, of course, it has Sharon Leal. 'Nuff said.
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Admirable attempt
23 December 2000
This is a stop-motion animation film of the Hansel and Gretel fairy tale, done, apparently, somewhere in Europe--the Austrian Apollo Boys Choir does the background vocals, so the film could have been made there or in nearby Hungary or Czechoslovakia, both of which were producing well-done animation films--but passed off as an American film, which it is not. Considering the time it was made and the conditions existing in Europe during that period, it is an admirable attempt indeed. The stop-motion, while not up to the standards of Ray Harryhausen, who was doing similar work at the time, is still well-done, and great care was obviously taken in the dubbing and scoring of the film. The background music is at times a bit overpowering, and there are spots where the dialogue is drowned out by it, but there are some imaginative touches throughout and and some visually beautiful moments. Children who are used to today's high-tech computer animation may not be impressed technically, but the film overall should appeal to them. Recommended.
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A Movie Called Idiotic
23 December 2000
Richard Rush is a good director, Paul Mantee is a first-rate character actor, and Eileen O'Neil is spectacularly beautiful besides being a very good actress. Put them together and what do you get? Junk.

While low-budget doesn't necessarily mean low quality, in this case it applies. The film's cheapness shows through in practically every frame, and there's not much Mantee or Rush can do about that. With all of the film's many faults, though, there are two that it can't overcome--an incoherent script with holes you can drive a truck through, and an hysterically awful performance by comic Jan Murray. Murray plays a Nazi scientist trying to revive the Third Reich and take over the world from a wheelchair. His "research" for the part must have consisted of watching dozens of old silent movies, as his performance is a virtual carbon copy of the stereotypical nostril-flaring, eye-rolling, teeth-gnashing, hand-flailing ham acting from a cheap melodrama of 1915. After a while you find yourself yelling at the screen, "For God's sake, shut up!" It's almost as bad as watching a Madonna movie.

If you're a fan of Paul Mantee (who did such a great job in 1964's "Robinson Crusoe on Mars") or Richard Rush ("The Stunt Man") or just want to stare open-mouthed at the gorgeous Eileen O'Neil, then go ahead and rent this movie. But do yourself a favour--turn the sound off.
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Lumbering, dull epic
9 December 2000
This film should have been much, much better than it is. Robert Rossen was a top-notch director, the cast is full of first-rank British and American actors, and United Artists put a lot of money into it. Unfortunately, the film is almost a complete dud.

Rossen's script is awful (besides the numerous and annoying historical errors, the dialogue is just plain laughable), most of the cast appears to have just woken up from a deep sleep (only Peter Cushing and Frederic March give anything even resembling a performance; Claire Bloom just stands around and looks gorgeous, which she does very well). Richard Burton seems to want to give one, and at times you can see the beginning of a spark, but it appears that he either is reined in or just gives up, which is a shame. Also, for a spectacle, the "action" scenes are pathetic. There's no urgency in them, you don't get any sense of the fanaticism and dedication that carried the Macedonian army to world conquest; it looks like a bunch of extras (in this case, the Spanish army) standing around waiting to get paid and not wanting to work real hard for it. UA obviously had money to spend on this film; they should have hired a top second-unit director like Yakima Canutt or Andrew Marton to do the action scenes and they would have turned out much, much better.

All in all, considering the talent involved, this film is a major disappointment. It moves like molasses, and doesn't reflect well on Rossen, Burton, or anyone else involved with it. Too bad. To paraphrase another movie, "It coulda been a contender."
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Its appeal escapes me
9 December 2000
I saw this movie for the first time a few days ago. I've heard and read a lot about it, and know that it is considered one of the top screwball comedies of the '30s. Unfortunately, I can't figure out why.

I actually like Irene Dunne, and always thought that Melvyn Douglas was in the same league with William Powell when it came to glib, sophisticated comedy, so I was all set to enjoy this one. But about a quarter of the way through it, I found myself asking, "When is this thing going to get funny?" The subject matter--how the reactionary, repressive mentality of a clique of small-town religious zealots stifles any kind of individual creativity at all--is more suited to a drama than a comedy, and I think this film would have actually worked better as a drama with some comedy thrown in, which both Dunne and Douglas were more than capable of, than just as a comedy alone, which it really isn't. There are a few amusing moments in it, but not nearly enough to be classified as a "screwball" comedy. Thurston Hall is his usual amusing, blustery self, and Spring Byington is good as the town's two-faced gossip, but that's about it. Dunne and Douglas try hard, but they're just not given much to work with.

I know that a lot of people think this film is on a par with "Nothing Sacred", "My Man Godfrey" or "Twentieth Century," but I just can't see it.
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The Cindy Margolis Show (2000–2001)
Gives bimbos a bad name
23 October 2000
Absolutely brainless "variety" show--for lack of a better word--starring a bleached blonde who gained fame as the woman whose picture was downloaded the most on the Internet. "Loaded" is the operative word here, as Ms. Margolis comes across as inarticulate, somewhat slow, and incapable of saying anything that isn't written for her on cue cards or a TelePrompter. She comes across as the embodiment of every dumb blonde joke ever made; whether that is a conscious effort on her part or she actually IS the dumbest blonde ever made is hard to tell. What she is, really, is the Zsa Zsa Gabor of the millennium--she's famous for being famous without actually having to do anything. Her "show" consists mainly of her changing into slinky and revealing outfits every 3 or 4 minutes, and the "entertainment" is provided by an audience of mainly drunken and horny frat boys and narcisstic, scantily clad college girls, professional dancers and strippers. Her sidekicks are a mumbling, tattooed nitwit who spins records and calls himself DJ Skribble, and a mugging, leering, supremely untalented "comic" named Lance who apparently believes himself to be the love child of Jerry Lewis and Jim Carrey. Altogether, a complete waste of time. Margolis' attractiveness, on which the show is based, is totally pneumatic, and while the semi-naked women in the audience and on stage provide some entertainment, it's mostly of the embarrassing kind.
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Even for Madonna, this really sucks
17 October 2000
By now the equation is pretty much standardized: Madonna+movie=garbage. Except for "Desperately Seeking Susan"--which wasn't really a Madonna movie, just a movie she was in--Madonna has yet to make an even remotely watchable movie. Even the movies where she doesn't have a very big part ("Dick Tracy," for example) suck. Maybe she's contagious. For some reason, Madonna felt the need to prove that she can do a screwball comedy a la Judy Holliday. She can't. She also tried to prove, once again, that she can act. Once again, she can't. There is not one thing in this movie that is even REMOTELY funny. Madonna somehow felt the need for her "character" to use a squeaky voice; she wound up sounding like Fran Drescher with a head cold. Poor Griffin Dunne must have really needed to pay the rent to find himself in this dreck. Haviland Morris, who was very good in "16 Candles," plays basically the same character here, but because of the lousy writing and almost non-existent direction (James Foley is a good director, but apparently he was overruled by Madonna on just about every directorial decision he tried to make, and it shows), she doesn't come across as well as she did in "16 Candles." The "plot" is something about Madonna being framed for her boyfriend's murder, getting out of prison and becoming involved with Griffin Dunne, who works for the millionaire who framed her. This film is almost a complete waste of time--wait a minute, it IS a complete waste of time. If you find the need to waste an hour and a half of your life, do something more productive, like pounding a hammer against your head. It's not as painful as watching this thing.
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Virginia City (1940)
Another good one
9 October 2000
While not up to Errol Flynn's other great western, "Dodge City," this movie is another in the long list of first-rate films that Flynn and director Michael Curtiz made together. The film has two main drawbacks: the severe miscasting of Humphrey Bogart as a Mexican bandit named Morrell (?!) and Miriam Hopkins as the Flynn/Scott love interest. Maybe she was being punished by Jack Warner for some transgression, or maybe she wanted to try to try something different, but Hopkins just isn't up to it. She plays her part of a saloon girl/spy like a grand dame, when the part calls for the sexy, comedic touch of an Ann Sheridan. Bogart's miscasting should be self-evident (you keep expecting to hear him turn to his gang of bandidos and say, "Alright, you mugs . . ."), and Randolph Scott is somewhat stiff (but still a better choice than Ronald Reagan, who was reportedly offered the part first). Other than that, though, the film has the usual Warner Bros. panache. The action scenes are first-rate, the cast--consisting of what came to be known as The Warner Bros. Stock Company--is top-notch, and the film has a zest and elan that characterizes the films that Flynn and Curtiz made together. A slam-bang western, and highly recommended.
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Major Dundee (1965)
It coulda been a contender . . .
3 July 2000
"Major Dundee" is Sam Peckinpah's rehearsal for "The Wild Bunch." The stories for both films are basically the same (men whose time has come and gone and they know it, and who don't fit in either society they are forced to be in, and they know that, too). "Dundee" has a good story, excellent action scenes and a sterling supporting cast of first-rate character actors (R.G. Armstrong, John Davis Chandler, Warren Oates, among others), but as previously noted, the film tends to fall apart during the second half. Senta Berger, although ravishing to look at, is totally wasted in a superfluous part, and the entire second half of the film has a choppy, disjointed feel to it. The main problem with it, apparently, was some major interference by Columbia Pictures and especially producer Jerry Bresler. Peckinpah's vision of the story and Bresler's were reportedly miles apart, and after the picture was shot and edited, Bresler and Peckinpah had a major blow-up, the producer had Peckinpah barred from the Columbia lot and hired his own editor to help him recut the picture. When star Charlton Heston saw the version that Bresler and his editor came up with, he went to the executives at Columbia and told them that he would have his name taken off the picture and never work for Columbia again if Peckinpah was not allowed back on the lot to cut the picture the way he wanted. Eventually a compromise was reached and Peckinpah was allowed to work on the editing, but the film still wasn't the way he wanted it, and he basically disowned it. It's too bad, as it's still a very good picture, but it could have been a great one.
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True Women (1997 TV Movie)
Wasted potential
1 July 2000
The role of women in the settling of the frontier has always been, to say the least, underreported. Most films about the settling of the west portray women as either saloon girls--in other words, prostitutes--or virginal school'marm types. One day someone is going to make a good movie about the role of women in the settling of the frontier. Unfortunately, this one isn't it.

There are several major problems with this film. First, the script. It's simplistic, overwrought, overheated, preachy and loaded with phony dramatics. Second, there's the sttitude. While most films on this subject pretty much inexcusably ignored women at the expense of men, this one does just the opposite, which is just as inexcusable. There's no real chemistry between Dana Delaney and Powers Boothe, who plays her husband. The rest of the cast is weak, too, and the performances range from adequate to junior high school level. The movie also, for some reason, LOOKS cheap. It has that cheesy look to it that a lot of spaghetti westerns had in the '60s. The whole production looks rushed, like they were running out of money and had to get it done on time.

There's a good story to be told here, but the people who made this movie haven't the slightest idea of how to go about it. Avoid this one.
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Kiss of Death (1995)
Lousy remake of a movie that wasn't all that good to begin with
29 June 2000
I'm a fan of the original 1948 "Kiss of Death," but not for the usual reasons. I know it was the film that made Richard Widmark a star, but why I've never been able to figure out. Widmark's performance was a pure cartoon, a Method actor's idea of what a psycho killer is. For my money, the best performance in that picture was Victor Mature's, by far the best performance of his career. Mature's quiet determination and single-mindedness overhsadows Widmark's snarling and glggling, but recognition for his first-rate performance was lost amidt the accolades for Widmark. This film has the same situation. David Caruso, in Mature's part, is quite good; in my opinion, it's the best performance of his career. Samuel L. Jackson is a New York cop who first dogs Caruso, then grows to like him, is also quite good, as is Ving Rhames as a seemingly unbalanced crime lord. Michael Rappaport is excellent as Caruso's weasely, scheming cousin who gets him in all this trouble in the first place. Nicolas Cage does what he does when he doesn't have a strong director--chews up as much scenery as he possibly can. You never really get a sense of danger from Cage's character, although he's shown doing some despicable things. The whole movie has a sterile, by-the-book feel to it. It's as faceless and impersonal as a Michael Bay movie. See if if you're interested in David Caruso; otherwise, forget it.
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Bud & Lou in their prime
29 June 2000
As several posters have said, this is one of Abbott & Costello's best films. It's consistently hilarious, there's a real chemistry between Lou and Joan Davis, who plays a professional radio screamer--just what you need when you're forced to stay in a haunted house overnight--and the physical and verbal gags are first-rate. Although a low-budget film, it doesn't have the cheap look that their later films have, and a first-rate supporting cast helps things along immensely. This film is evidence of why A&C were the top box office comedy team in the early and mid '40s. Highly recommended.
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Q & A (1990)
Jumbled mess
25 June 2000
Sidney Lumet has made some powerful New York police procedural films, but this is definitely not one of them. The production's troubled history is evident by the fact that on the television prints, Lumet's name as director and writer has been replaced by that of the fictitious Alan Smithee, which is the name the Directors Guild assigns to a production when the director does not want his name associated with it. Although the film has Lumet's trademark first-rate cast (except for his daughter Jenny, who plays Tim Hutton's love interest and is far and away the worst actor in the film), everyone is defeated by a script that has plot holes you could build a subway system through. Armand Assante turns in a nice job as a street-savvy Puerto Rican drug dealer, Charles S. Dutton is a partner of Nolte's who refuses to believe anything bad about him, Luis Guzman is another partner of Nolte's who doesn't quite idolize him as much as Dutton does but is too intimidated by him to do anything about it. The plot, for lack of a better word, revolves around corruption, bribery and murder, but it's incredibly contrived and not even remotely realistic. And the ending is absolutely stupid. Don't waste your time.
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Lumbering costumer
25 June 2000
This is a slow-moving, stodgy, badly-photographed tale of William Penn and his journey from being a member of the upper class in England to his founding of the state of Pennsylvania in the U.S. The movie suffers from the pomposity that afflicted many British epics of the period. The hero is written as an absolute saint (you expect to see a halo around his head and hear a heavenly choir in the background), the secondary characters are completely uninteresting, and once Penn lands in the "new world", the film becomes almost laughable. The "Indians", for example, are dressed like and act like the kinds of Indians you see in westerns. The only thing wrong with that is that Pennsylvania is in the eastern U.S., not the west, and the dozens of tribes there have absolutely nothing in common--culturally, linguistically, ethnically, or in any other way--with what are known as the Plains Indians of the west, a fact that apparently the filmakers either didn't know or ignored.

The film is as slow as molasses, the photography is so dark at times you can barely see anything, the sound is tinny, and the acting is very much of the "old school" type--a lot of flaring nostrils, arched eyebrows, etc. William Penn was a fascinating man, and his life story could make a good movie, but this one isn't it.
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Dusty's Trail (1973– )
Not Dusty enough--you could still see it
24 June 2000
This is the absolute pits. "Gilligan's Island" was never, to say the least, noted for its originality, but it was "Citizen Kane" compared to this thing. Sherwood Schwartz picked up the characters from the island and plunked them down in a wagon heading west, and didn't bother to change anything but the actors (except in Denver's case). Forrest Tucker tries hard, but he and Denver just don't click (Tucker had much better luck with Larry Storch in "F Troop," which had the advantage of at least being funny). Jeanine Riley tries to ape Tina Louise's sultriness as the sexpot of the group and fails miserably, Lori Saunders is cute but is like a mayonnaise sandwich compared to Dawn Wells, Ivor Francis and Lynn Wood can't hold a candle to Jim Backus and Natalie Schaefer. The "scripts" were so horrendously unfunny it made you embarrassed for the actors who were forced to speak them. The show had the production values of "Plan 9 From Outer Space"--but didn't look as good. All in all, quite possibly the worst show ever to appear on television. I understand why it was yanked after the first season; what I don't understand is why it wasn't yanked five minutes into the first episode.
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Sweet and Hot (1958)
Unfortunately, one of their worst
12 June 2000
"Sweet and Hot" is neither sweet nor hot. What it is, actually, is sad. The Stooges were near the end of the line (Columbia would shut down the shorts department and unceremoniously dump them later that year), and it shows. They are old, and they look tired. Columbia cut the budgets for its shorts department to almost nothing, which is obvious by watching this thing. Besides the Stooges, the only other "actor" (for lack of a better word) in this film is Muriel Landers, a woman who is so monumentally untalented it is actually embarrassing to watch her. You wonder if she was related to some Columbia executive, as that could be the only possible explanation for her appearance. She can't sing or dance (although for some unfathomable reason she's given a musical number), and she certainly can't act. There's no real plot to speak of; nothing in this film is anywhere near funny. The whole thing runs about 15 minutes and looks like it was shot in 16 minutes. It is not easy to watch this film, and not just because of its cheapness and ineptitude. It's sad to see two comics (Joe Besser was never considered a real Stooge by true Stooge fans) at the end of their careers in a vehicle that is nowhere near worthy of their talents, and this piece of crap definitely isn't.
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Runaway Train (1985)
Not as lousy as the usual Cannon flick. but . . .
11 June 2000
For the life of me I can't understand the glowing reviews people have given this movie. "Masterpiece," "gem," "best action movie ever made,"--oh, please. The only good thing about this movie is the scenery and the stunts, both of which are breathtaking. Otherwise, this is just an expensive version of a '30s B picture, only not as well written and definitely not as well acted. It's the usual "the convicts are poor misunderstood souls and the prison authorities are all foaming-at-the-mouth sadists"--but that's to be expected in a movie written by an ex-convict like Eddie Bunker. Despite the idiocies of the script, Voight tries to put a different spin on his character; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but at least he tries. Roberts, however, screams, rants and raves and hams it up in his usual off-the-wall self, and it's more annoying and irritating than ever. DeMornay doesn't have much to do, and she doesn't do much with it. Not that it matters; the script is so absolutely idiotic there isn't much the actors can do to get around it. There are plot holes you can drive a truck through, lines that are stupid beyond belief ("Is Jonah alive?" "Yes." "Good, he'll be glad."), character reactions that make absolutely no sense at all, and other idiocies too numerous to mention. Maybe this is a masterpiece by Cannon Films standards, but it's not much of anything by anybody else's standards.
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Outstanding picture, one of the best WW2 movies
4 June 2000
As American forces approach Germany near the end of World War II, it becomes crucial for them to get an idea of the Germans' capacity to resist. In order to do that, they recruit spies from among German POWs, train them and send them into Germany to gather information. This is somewhat of an unusual film about a subject that, as far as I know, had never been dealt with before or since (the movie is based on fact; American military intelligence did indeed use German POWs as spies). The location filming helps the picture greatly, as the war had only been over for a few years and Germany still hadn't rebuilt yet. Performances are universally top notch, notably Oskar Werner as a young German soldier code-named Happy who volunteers to return as a spy, and especially Hans Christian Blech as Happy's tough, opportunistic, and not entirely trustworthy partner. There are some nail-biting moments, notably aboard a train when Happy and his partner come under scrutiny by a suspicious Gestapo agent. The film has a tough, gritty, dangerous look that is totally atypical of the usual 20th Century Fox gloss, and is all the better for it. Gary Merrill as the tough American officer in charge of the operation, and Richard Basehart as an American agent sent in to accompany the two German spies, also turn in first-rate performances, and director Anatole Litvak keeps the film full of twists and surprises, but it's Oskar Werner's show, and he is up to it. An excellent film and one to put on your must-see list.
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Quite possibly the worst Jerry Lewis movie (and that's saying a lot)
31 May 2000
Jerry Lewis was marginally funny when he didn't write his own material and had a good director like Frank Tashlin. When he started writing and directing his own films what little talent he possessed was overshadowed by his egomania. Whenever his films would fail (and deservedly so) in the American market (they made money in France) Lewis always blamed everyone and everything but himself; for example, he blamed the failure of this film on the fact that it was, according to Lewis, released on a double-bill with the porno feature "Deep Throat". If anyone should have complained about that situation, it should have been the producers of "Deep Throat." This is an absolutely idiotic "comedy" about the world's richest man (Lewis) who is rejected for military service during WW2 and decides to outfit a special "squad" to go to Germany and capture Hitler himself. Besides the many faults this film has (the script is mind-numbingly unfunny, Lewis' "direction" is nonexistent, the film has the look of a cheap home movie), Lewis apparently thought that surrounding himself with no-talent, over-the-hill Borscht Belt comics like Jan Murray and Sidney Miller was a good idea; he must have figured that they would be so bad, they would make him look good. He was half-right; they are embarrassingly bad, but he comes out even worse than they do. For a "comedy", Lewis' character is sullen, angry and pushy; the way he heaps abuse on his underlings makes you wonder why they would ever follow a bullying jerk like this on a dangerous mission like trying to capture Hitler. The fact that this movie took in any money at all is astounding. It is by far the worst Jerry Lewis movie I have ever seen--I've heard that "Slapstick" is even more pathetic, but I can't bring myself to see if that's true or not--and is to be avoided at all possible costs.
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Cheap, thoroughly unimpressive
9 May 2000
I first saw this thing several years ago on cable at 3 in the morning. One viewing of this dud will show you why it was on at 3 in the morning. Director Albert Band specialized in cheap Italian westerns in the '60s, and this has the look, feel and sound of one. Only the fact that it was shot in English in Texas, instead of in Italian in Spain, distinguishes it from the stinkers that Band put out back then. His filmmaking skill haven't improved, either. What this film actually looks like is a home movie on a slightly bigger-than-average budget (for a home movie, that is). For some reason Band was able to attract a pretty decent cast, but he doesn't do anything with them. Scott Glenn looks embarrassed, as well he should be, you get the feeling from his "performance" that he wishes he were somewhere else. Freddy Fender, while a good singer, overacts outrageously as Pancho Villa. Ronee Blakeley, another country singer, is a bit better as a pioneer woman caught up in the swirling atmosphere of the Texas/Mexico border during the Mexican Revolution early in this century. It's a good premise, but Band isn't good enough of a director, and the budget is much too low, to do anything interesting with it. A couple of haphazard gun fights and a few flimsy huts set on fire, are just about it for the "action" in the picture. There's a lot of talk, most of which has been said in countless westerns before it and a lot of which makes no sense at all, the photography is poor, the sound is awful, and it apparently was edited with hedge clippers. If you're a fan of Blakeley, Fender or Glenn, don't waste your time on this dud. If you're a western fan, don't waste your time on this dud. If you have seen every movie ever made in the history of mankind except this one, don't waste your time on this dud. Poor in all departments. Avoid it like the plague.
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