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A bleak trip and fall down memory lane
There does seem to be something about the 1970's that leads to awkward TV movies and specials. Just one year later the Star Wars holiday special was inflicted upon the public. But anyway...this reunion of the original cast is the best thing going to recommend this show. The direction is very slow. Many scenes just sit there leading to nothing as the gags have long since worn out their welcome. Still however I do enjoy watching this thing no pun intended. The daylight scenes have a bleak gray sky background which lends an odd almost sad air to the proceedings. And the laugh track sounds as if it can't decide whether to join in or sit this one out. So there you have it. I can't imagine anyone is going to finish this movie and declare it a triumph of TV comedy but it will do for a Halloween nostalgia trip. I recall seeing this when it ran the first time and then seeing it on afternoon movie slots during Halloween weeks for a few years after.
Adventure Island (1947)
A lot of activity but still a little dull
There are a lot of happenings crammed into this 66 minute film. Despite all the comings and goings, running around, fire fighting, ship sailing, natives running and danger escaping the overall film just does not move along at a very fast pace. Scenes go on for too long where there is nothing but dialog to carry them. Action scenes are shorter and leave the film feeling a bit out of balance.
The print I watched was in black and white, a little soft in the focus and too dark. Such a shame too. I would have liked to have seen clear color footage of Rhonda Fleming rising out of the ocean surf in a clinging dress. Also the ending copyright date was 1942. So either the date on this site is wrong or the film was held back from release for five years.
The Groom Wore Spurs (1951)
Relatively flat comedy
There are very few genuine laughs in this movie. For most of the running time I was somewhat amused. Overall the direction seemed pretty lackadaisical. Scenes that call for some quick cutting just sit there until they run out of steam. But still I did like to see Ginger Rogers and Jack Carson interact. They deserved better material. The film could have used more scenes with Jack Carson being shown up as the phony cowboy he was and that he did not aspire to be. Getting help mounting his horse was amusing and Jack does a nice job. Had they milked and added ideas such as that this could have been much more enjoyable.
Joan Davis provides some nice comic bits to enliven things. However the scene with her erstwhile boyfriend in which they work on an alarm clock thus making it ring at inopportune moments is just painful to watch due to the sheer mugging required. There again the direction is sorely lacking.
False Pretenses (1935)
When two scams collide
The plot for this movie has been used numerous times before and numerous times since. It's the old 'poor girl' passes herself off as 'rich girl' in order to meet 'rich guy' who in turn is not so rich himself and is hoping to meet a 'rich girl' of his own.
It was nice to see Edward Gargan in one of his usual slow witted character roles. This time around he plays a truck driver who has a very short almost non existent fuse which offsets some of his geniality.
The early scenes between Irene Ware and Sidney Blackmer have some nice repartee particularly in the cooking scene. However most of the later dialogue in the film is fairly flat and standard.
It all wraps up in about 64 minutes so you won't invest a whole lot of time or effort into seeing this through to the end.
The Wrong Road (1937)
Crime does not pay as is made obvious
***SPOILERS*** This almost feels like the kind of movie shown to kids in school so that they don't grow up to be criminals. Everything is fairly cut and dry. Perhaps Bonnie and Clyde inspired the studio to make this as a public service. Oh well whatever the source Lionel Atwill strolls through from time to time to drive home the point in case anyone has a short attention span.
The stars of this film (or Public Service Announcement perhaps) decide that life is too tough and they are owed certain things. Those "things" being a lot of easy cash accompanied by no work. Clever people that they are they decide to rob the bank the man works at and stash the money. They will then confess all, serve their time, retrieve their loot and live happily ever after. Two guesses as to how well that all works.
From Soup to Nuts (1928)
"Some wiggler huh?" Oliver Hardy says while both he and Stan Laurel ogle Anita Garvin's swaying backside (and quite an ogle inducing backside it is).
Quite refreshing to see a pre-code comedy that shows that men were not indifferent to female charms despite what most films from 1935 to 1950-something would have us believe. Nothing smutty like you would see today. Just an appreciation of the female form in all it's glory.
And besides, it's Laurel & Hardy.
Double Danger (1938)
Pretty creaky film by 1938 standards. Seems like it would be more at home circa 1930. While you watch this remember that Gone With The Wind would be released just one year later. Sure Double Danger had a low budget but really...this plays like one of the early talkies. The ones before they figured out how to use sound.
The character of "The Gentleman" jewel thief appears to be a royalty free way to use the character of "The Saint". But then since when has the movie industry been worried about such things? "The Falcon" anyone?
Nice to see a pre-Blondie Arthur Lake acting pretty much the same as he would 15+ years later in that series.
Crime by Night (1944)
Jane, where did you go?
Jane Wyman is given top billing on screen but she sits out most of the movie off screen. It's left up to her co-star Jerome Cowan to carry the load. He has a certain oily/sleazy charm but I wouldn't like to have my life or freedom depend on his detective abilities. It was amusing to observe the way he did anything he felt appropriate to help his client. No matter the legality of it. Hiding witnesses, disturbing evidence at a crime scene, and even downright stealing evidence right from the Sheriff's office.
This movie must be noted for having one of the bloodiest crime scenes in a pre-1960's film. It's a wonder the censors passed it.
Attack on the Iron Coast (1968)
Reminded me of ffolkes
The scenes where Lloyd Bridges is putting some commandos through their paces reminded of ffolkes. Roger Moore had his commandos running an obstacle course and clambering over large scaffolding as well. Perhaps one of the ffolks film makers was inspired by this?
The trivia about Ron Goodwin's score being reused might explain the occasional times where the music seems to be out of sync with the action or overly dramatic for a particular scene.
All in all a mildly entertaining 1960's WWII movie.
Secrets of the French Police (1932)
Smoke 'em if you got 'em
My favorite moments in this film are:
- While the Inspector awaits the results of an examination of cigarette ash found at a crime scene he stands a few feet away from this delicate process, smoking his own cigarette dropping who knows how much ash.
- At a murder scene he once again lights up a cigarette and even flicks his spent match onto the floor.
With this kind of law enforcement it's a wonder France didn't descend into criminal anarchy.
Atomic Twister (2002)
I saw this on TBS the same night another Turner station, TCM showed THE CHINA SYNDROME. Ted must really have it in for nuclear power.
I did enjoy this more than most made-for-TV disaster movies. It kept the stupidity down to a minimum (such as "This is going to make Chernobyl look like a firecracker"). Sharon Lawrence looked great running around in a tank top t-shirt with wind whipped hair and a grease smudged face.
Love Feast (1969)
Ed, whatever they paid you it wasn't enough
Man, after seeing this I feel like I fell down a flight of stairs. I'm not sure I'm going to recover from the sight of Ed Wood on his hands and knees in a pink nightgown licking a girl's boots. Plus one girl pulls off Ed's underwear, hands them to another girl who proceeds to rub them over her chest. Yikes. Celibacy here I come.
The orgy in the bedroom seems as if it was imagined by a small child who knows what all the parts are but is not sure how they fit together. There is a lot of touching and rolling around but no real sexual contact.
Exactly who did the film-makers think this would appeal to???
Der Mönch mit der Peitsche (1967)
Just needs Napoleon Solo to make a cameo
The best way I can think to describe this movie is: suppose a group of German film makers snuck onto the deserted set of a Man From U.N.C.L.E. episode and made a movie there.
The only thing this movie has going for it is the sets. A fireplace where the mantle in front rises up to reveal a hidden doorway, a villain's lair with giant water tank holding large turtles, alligators (or maybe crocodiles) snapping at and eating anything tossed to them and a swimming pool with below surface level viewing windows.
Maybe this thing made sense in it's original language.
Undercover Maisie (1947)
One man playing older one woman playing younger
Barry Nelson, 27 years old at the time but looking about 18 has a wispy mustache that needs to be seen to be believed. The idea seemed to be to try and make him look older as he plays a lieutenant detective on the bunco squad. Ann Sothern does her usual good job as Maisie although at one point her characters age is mentioned as 25. That is stretching it a bit. It's a shame this film was the last in the Maisie series. They were starting to look and feel like Bowery Boys or Abbott & Costello movies by this time. Cheap with a lot of good character actors.
Looks great. Less filling.
Pia Degermark looks great throughout. She wears various costumes as she plays the dual role of a modern day baroness and a vampire ancestor who returns from the dead. She also appears nude for those who are not in to costumes.
Overall this is a very goofy movie with a lot of lame comedy. Still though Pia is breathtaking and worth a look just for that.
On par with some other genre comedies of it's time
Similar to some of Abbott & Costello or The Bowery Boys movies featuring various monsters. This is not too funny but Lugosi is always nice to see. He seems to be enjoying himself and has a surprising amount of dialogue. As for Mother Riley this is the only film I have seen with him/her in it. An acquired taste.
The one scene to watch for occurs early on when Mother Riley is trying to read a telegram. The man collecting rent from her tries to grab the telegram and says "Give that to me you old faggot!" Now before you get all bent out of shape consider that this was 1952. I assume he was saying "...you old pile of sticks" or "...you old woman" which are a couple possible definitions for the word.
Behind Locked Doors (1948)
Hey it's got Tor Johnson in it.
Any movie with Tor can't be all bad and it isn't. Tor gets to do what he does best. Act menacing and remain mute. The main plot of the movie has to do with a female reporter convincing a private eye to go undercover into a sanitarium. Inside he finds abuse and corruption.
They Nest (2000)
Bugs everywhere in under two hours
Bugs swarm. People try to fight them. That's about it. All in all a decent little bug movie. Nicely acted. Some good bug effects. Some of the characters and their actions are stock stereotypes but at least it held my interest for the entire length.
The Sky's on Fire (1999)
ABC is on the disaster trail
Just saw this movie which ABC showed last night. I liked this better than I liked another recent TV-movie about the earth caving in beneath New Orleans. Both are dopey but this one was a lot of fun. Preposterous? Sure but that is the kick in all of these movies. Everything keeps moving and we see the usual scenes of bureaucratic incompetence, animal panic, people panic and various and sundry calamities. All in all a good entry in the TV-movie disaster genre.
The Barbarian and the Geisha (1958)
The Duke takes on John Houston
Not an action packed John Wayne adventure but enjoyable for it's own merits. Those merits include an interesting look at Japan circa 1856 and how the arrival of non-Japanese were looked on with fear and loathing.
There are some odd directorial dead spots such as when Wayne as Townsend Harris is told he cannot fly the American flag. The Duke agrees to take it down but gives a speech stating that he will fly the flag at certain times. The scene trails off somewhat anti-climactically despite seemingly leading up to a dramatic confrontation.
On the whole I found the film entertaining and worth viewing.
Flesh Gordon (1974)
The DVD commentary is better than the movie
The DVD commentary by Howard Ziehm gives some interesting insight into the workings of early 70's porn/underground filmmaking. He dishes the dirt on a lot of his co-workers and shows what a lousy sleazy business it was. Very amusing to hear him recount his unrelated legal troubles that went on during the filming and post production.
I'm not quite sure how many versions there are of this movie. The box says 90 minutes and boasts "15 minutes of restored footage". It actually lasts about 85 minutes. According to Ziehm the cops seized all of the hard-core footage prior to release and he himself trimmed the movie after early screenings proved it to be too long.
Special effects fans will be interested to hear of all the names involved in this (many uncredited). It's like a who's who of 1970's/1980's sci-fi effects people.
High Seas Hijack (1977)
American Movie Classic?
I recently saw this on AMC of all places. It qualifies as a Movie, but is neither American nor a Classic. Pretty inept action story with inserted footage of Peter Graves (ala Raymond Burr in Godzilla). If you want to waste 90 minutes of your life go ahead but otherwise beware.
Good director, standard story
Pretty predictable but well directed. Dick Lowry does a great job of keeping the action moving and the suspense going even though the outcome should be obvious to anyone has seen at least one standard TV disaster movie. It will be fun to watch this movie a few years from now. I'm sure it will have the same camp value as watching something like Logan's Run for it's vision of the future.
Road Rage (1999)
Yasmine battles the malady of the 1990's
Yasmine Bleeth cuts off the driver of a delivery truck and spends the next 2 hours fighting for her life. How appropriate the man is driving a bevRAGE delivery truck. If you ever find yourself in a similar situation you can use this movie as a blueprint for how to avoid disaster. This movie pretty much goes through the motions without too much effort. A little more raving by the villain would have added some camp value.
Witchfinder General (1968)
I wish to think but my mind is blown
Amazing. This film wound into my soul. It amazes me that this is a product of 1968. The clarity and style of the photography is excellent. The acting, the story, the setting all combined into a graceful, brutal, harsh, sad, and haunting film. For a similar yet cruder take on the subject matter see: "Mark of the Devil".