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The story of a horse, and the boy who loved him.
"The story of a horse, and the boy who loved him" was the narrative introduction to the show. Years before the Andy Griffith Show, Fury portrayed the relationship between a single father and his son. Fury even had its own version of Barney Fife in the character of Pete (the more than just) the hired hand played by William Fawcett. Episode plots were varied and included good guys and bad guys, occasional comic relief and every so often a possible romance for Jim. Like the Andy Griffith Show, many episodes concluded with a life's lesson learned by Jim and Joey. All in all a much more sophisticated series than most Saturday morning western fare of the day which included Roy Rogers, Sky King, and Annie Oakley.
Gorilla at Large (1954)
Another that should be available on DVD
The title of this film would bring to mind the myriad low budget shockers from the 50's. But with a cast including Anne Bancroft, Lee Marvin, Raymond Burr, Cameron Mitchell, Lee J. Cobb, John Kellogg, and Warren Stevens, we're talking 8 Academy Award nominations, and 2 wins. That doesn't sound like the typical low budget 50's shocker and this Technicolor 3-D thriller is nothing of the sort. Of course, none of the nominations had yet occurred, and whether this film was the springboard that launched the careers of the aforementioned actors is no absolute. But there is no question that shortly after this film all of them began to appear on a regular basis in more important roles and in more important films and television, the most successful examples being Anne Bancroft, Lee Marvin, Raymond Burr and Lee J. Cobb. And this film is a perfect example of Lee Marvin's early work where it was obvious he was emblazoned with "Star". Oddly, it was the director Harmon Jones whose career seemed to go downhill after this film. After having previously directed such notable efforts as, Paddy Chayefsky's "As Young as You Feel", the popular biopic "The Pride of St. Louis", "The Silver Whip", "The Kid from Left Field", and "City of Bad Men", Harmon's career seemed from then on to be destined for weekly television episodes.
As for production values, script, suspense and action, the film is not bad. That is with the exception of the man in a gorilla suit which was supposed to be a real gorilla. I guess they were never able to get that right until "Planet of the Apes"! We're fortunate that Fox Movie Channel had rediscovered this peculiar gem. Although the film's current condition is good, a restoration for release on DVD and the inclusion of 3-D glasses would surely be a success.
Mississippi Burning (1988)
Kweer Klucks Koneheads!
Kweer klucks koneheads on display. Having come from a liberal family from Mississippi, this film hits home. No, not everyone from Mississippi was an ignorant racial bigot, but Mississippi WAS the ground zero for these ignominious peons. Of all the films about southern racial prejudice (In the Heat of the Night, Ghosts of Mississippi etc.) this one best presents the magnitude of ignorant hatred that existed within the South and the corruption of the white authorities. I find it interesting that I remember the names of Cheney, Schwerner and Goodman, but I don't remember the names of the SOBs that killed them. This film was slighted at the Academy Awards. Frances McDormand's performance was superior to any of the actresses nominated for Best Supporting Actress. I think Mississippi Burning was better than the Best Picture winner Rain Man.
Dear Heart (1964)
Can't believe Geraldine Page didn't receive an Oscar nomination!
Perhaps it was the fact she'd already received three nominations. She would eventual be nominated for 8, putting her in 8th place behind only Streep, Hepburn, Nicholson, Davis, Olivier, Newman and Tracy which is pretty impressive territory! She would win one. Or perhaps it was just the strong year for actresses with Sophia Loren in "Marriage Italian Style", Anne Bancroft in "The Pumpkin Eater", Kim Stanley in "Séance on a Wet Afternoon", Debbie Reynolds in "The Unsinkable Molly Brown", or eventual winner Julie Andrews in "Mary Poppins", but I believe Geraldine Page's performance here is the equal of any 1964 female film performance. Her character Evie is one of the most sympathetic ever recorded and Page's expert portrayal captures the hearts of the audience. Along for the ride is the vastly underrated Glenn Ford and the always watchable Barbara Nichols. Too bad we didn't see more of her along with contemporaries Hope Holiday and Sue Ann Langdon. I wish there was more on this site about all three. "Dear Heart" was not intended as a blockbuster and as 1960s films go, it was more or less a "B" picture. But the film features excellent writing, a believable storyline, excellent performances, and a captivating score by Henry Mancini.
Hot Rods to Hell (1967)
Would have passed Hayes code with flying colors!
This movie was my first "car date" when released. Where would you expect to see this first run? Try the Rebel Twin Drive-In in Carrollton, Texas! Everything you'd want in a camp movie. Stiff performances by Dana Andrews and Jeanne Crain and even "stiffer" performances by Paul Bertoya and Mimsy Farmer. See this and you'll have no doubt as to why we didn't see more from these two. Duke's car had to have been the ugliest Vette I've ever seen although at 16 years old at the time, I'd have given my left....well, you know. Part of a double feature, the opening show was the first release of For a Few Dollars More. Remember, like Dr. No, they first released A Fistfull of Dollars which died like Dr. No, but then came For a Few Dollars More (like From Russia With Love) and the rest was history! Easily understood why this became a cult classic.
The Butcher's Wife (1991)
Great cast except for the celebrity!
I guess they couldn't get Julia Roberts. This script was way above Demi Moore's capabilities. She was overshadowed by the talent surrounding her. Mary Steenburgen stole the show with her singing (don't forget, Jessica Lange was nominated for an Oscar in Sweet Dreams for not singing). Well, some have it, and some don't. I can't wait to see Meryl Streep do her own thing in Prairie Home Companion. The last time we heard her vocals was Postcards From the Edge. Jeff Daniels, Frances McDormand, and George Dzundza were fine. It was a good script and an interesting storyline. Butcher's Wife was well directed. Too bad it was brought down by the lead character. A perfect example of how Hollywood has sacrificed art for celebrity. Kudos to the movie and everyone in the cast with the exception of Moore.
Sweet Dreams (1985)
If you think Jessica Lange did her own singing, prepare for spoiler
This is not a bad semi documentary feature. Ed Harris is particularly effective as Patsy's husband Charlie Dick. Ann Wedgeworth again plays the quirky character with which she has become so identified. Be sure and catch a rare major film appearance by Dallas' own Jerry Haynes (Mr. Peppermint) as Patsy's manager Owen Bradley. I wish they'd spent a little more time on the professional side of Patsy's rise to fame and her career rather than focus so much on the relationship with her husband which could have been virtually any John and Jane Doe story about the trials and tribulations of married life.
Jessica Lange is a little stiff and over the top on her hillbilly accent and I don't believe this was a performance worthy of the Oscar nomination she received. Jessica has crafted much better characters and performances than this.
Most importantly, close your eyes and you can almost imagine it's really Patsy Cline singing, which it (unfortunately) is. I don't see why the producers couldn't have found an actress who can really sing rather than lip-sync. Sissy Spacek was fantastic singing as Loretta Lynn in Coal Miner's Daughter so there was no reason to close one's eyes. Mary Steenburgen exhibited her surprising vocal skills and sang like a pro with great pizazz and sexuality in Butcher's Wife and who'd want to close their eyes with Mary Steenburgen on screen. Meryl Streep kicked butt with I'm Checkin' Out Of This Heartbreak Hotel in Post Cards From the Edge. No closed eyes for this performance as everyone in the audience were probably dancing in the isles! And last but not least, why not Beverly D'Angelo who WAS Patsy Cline in Coal Miner's Daughter and did her own singing, quite admiribly I might add. With that kind of talent available, why would they mess with the editing hassles of lip-syncing and why not an actress with talents rounded enough they can perform all aspects of the character? I suppose it's called "Box office". Another another example of Hollywood's departure from art to dollars.
Le divorce (2003)
Kate's Been Coached By Mama
Le Divorce is a thoroughly enjoyable film and a breath of fresh air from the stagnant deluge of inane summer Hollywood blockbusters. There were times in many of Kate Hudson's scenes where I did a double take and I'd think, "This is Goldie!" I believe she received a significant (and healthy) amount of coaching from her extremely talented mother.
All the performances were right on and it was especially gratifying to see Leslie Caron, Stockard Channing, Glenn Close, and Sam Waterston all in well cast talent utilizing roles. The plot has some fairly well interpretable twists and some subtle comic relief such as the Hermes bag and the play on the French "Of course".
As with most French films, the photography and production design was exquisite and I've never seen the Eiffel Tower more beautifully or documentarily represented. I am so thankful films like this play at small neighborhood theaters, instead of mindless megaplexes full of lemmings on their way from or to McDonald's. If you enjoyed Pirates of the Caribbean, you'll probably walk out on this film for lack of understanding, just as I did on Pirates of the Caribbean!
The High and the Mighty (1954)
Patrick and Michael Wayne should have some consideration
I don't need to say anything about this movie. All the comments are positive. The only negative associated with this film is the greed exhibited by the Wayne brothers (Michael and Patrick) who are the executors of the Wayne estate and for the obvious reason of greed they have kept this masterpiece off the market for over 20 years.
There's been many reasons given to release this film but I'd like to advance a new reason that perhaps Michael and Patrick have not considered. Michael and Patrick should think about how many people, John Wayne fans, who die every day without having the opportunity to see this film one last time. For these fans, keeping this film out of commission is tantamount to an act of terrorism! Selfish and cowardly.
The Land That Time Forgot (1974)
Where was Ray Harryhausen when you need him?
What could have been a decent adventure film becomes a farce due to some of the worst special effects ever. Considering the cast and other attributes, why would any producer/director have considered ANYONE other than Harryhausen for a picture such as this in the 50s, 60s, or 70s? The allosaurus couldn't have been more ridiculous if they'd used Barney the Dinosaur! Lack of animation for the flying creatures added to the hilarity, and Doug McClure's battle with the sea serpent belonged on the WWF! Native inhabitants were not very convincing with contrived language that was in the same vain as One Million Years B.C., and Clan of the Cave Bear. Too bad they hadn't seen Caveman!