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Pups Is Pups (1930)
Jingle, Jingle, Jingle!
This is a memorable short about poor Wheezer searching for his lost puppies. Just watching him trying to find his Pavlov-trained dogs using any bell available is a trip in nostalgia, from the ice cream man who pushed his wagon down the street, to the hand bell on the bicycle, not to mention the Lindy- influenced helmet on Jackie Cooper's head, and the page uniform worn by Farina. There's a second story, all about how the rest of the Rascals were trying to get into a ritzy pet show (and the mayhem that they cause) but all you can see is Wheezer. Near the end, with childlike faith, he tries one last desperate attempt, and Leroy Shield's great music sets the mood for this so wonderfully, as well as the jubilant ending. A short to watch for laughter, and perhaps a tear at the end. (Well, for me, anyway.)
The Battle of Britain (1943)
The series "Why We Fight" was made so that the soldiers who were fighting knew the history behind the war, and who their enemies were. That being the case, it is also a great source for students who are just learning about World War II. This particular short talks about how brave and steadfast Britain was while being attacked by the Germans. With maps and footage taken from the enemy, plus shots showing the famous English 'stiff upper lip,' you find out just how outnumbered England was, and yet still they prevailed! A very good film, especially if you follow it with a showing of "Mrs. Miniver."
Bionic "Love Story"
This movie introduces Lindsay Wagner as Jaime Sommers, a tennis pro who was a childhood friend of Steve Austin, the world's first bionic man (and government agent). Jaime and Steve meet again in the old hometown, and begin to rekindle their relationship. Unfortunately, a skydiving accident causes Jaime to lose her arm, her legs, and the hearing in one of her ears. Steve talks Oscar Goldman, his boss, into allowing the team that made his bionic replacement parts work on Jaime, in return for her services as an agent alongside Steve. Well, the legs work (she can run 60 mph-- in wedgies too!), the arm works (no tennis balls are safe around her!), and, for a while, her ear can pick up twisted nursery rhymes with no side effects. But then her body starts to reject the bionic transplants, right in the middle of a mission against the "Onassis of Crime." Can anything be done to save her?
Originally a two-part episode of "The Six Million Dollar Man," "The Bionic Woman" was extremely popular, mostly because of the charm and realism of Lindsay Wagner and her rapport with Lee Majors, who is much more subtle and powerful here, especially near the end. Alan Oppenheimer (no stranger to robots, being one of the mechanics in "Westworld") is memorable as Rudy Wells, and Dana Plato can be seen as an adoring Sommers fan. This is the only "Six Million" or "Bionic" episode available in the United States, showing the two leads at their best, and a perfect supporting cast. It will only make you want to be able to buy the whole series. If only we could.
Babes in Arms (1939)
Judy Judy Judy! (And Some Others)
This movie was done right after "Wizard of Oz" and shows Judy Garland in a more appropriate role for her age. It is great to see her and Mickey-- the "Good Morning" duet at the beginning is just priceless! Watch the opera versus swing number she does with Betty Jaynes and you can almost imagine the short "Every Sunday" with Deanna Durbin being an influence. June Preisser plays a spirited Shirley Temple parody, which was weird because I could have sworn Shirley Temple was being signed, or soon to be signed to MGM. Unfortunately, they try to make Judy be the homely one, which mystifies me because she looked absolutely gorgeous in this film. Good songs, and good numbers throughout. Yes, the minstrel scene near the end will make your jaw drop, but if we didn't have things like this on film, we would never know how it really was back then, and therefore not know how hard it really was.
Oh, and Mickey Rooney was good, too. Hyper, but good.
Betty Boop and Grampy (1935)
Grampy has been called Fleischer's alter ego, a creator who comes up with the best inventions in the quickest time. Watch other episodes where he runs for president, makes an indoor carnival, and makes a poor orphanage into a winter wonderland with kitchen accessories, a fan, and heaps of soap!
A Bell for Adano (1945)
John Hodiak and William Bendix reunite (they were in Lifeboat together) as soldiers keeping order in an Italian town. Hodiak is very charismatic, making one wish for more of his movies to be on video. Bendix is great, and Harry Morgan is excellent in this "boning up for Colonel Potter" role. Gene Tierney is both luminescent and down to earth as Tina. This film is funny, touching, and, at times just plain gleeful.
The Best Father
I'm sure there is a big fan club out there wishing that Mike Brady were their dad, or that Ozzie Nelson had room in the back for them. To me, Tom Corbett was the best father, right up there with Hugh Beaumont from "Leave It To Beaver." Not only was Tom attractive, and funny, but he would always take time to talk to Eddie, and really try to understand what was going on in his world. He was the type of father that would never dismiss any idea, and showed a great deal of respect for his "best friend." When I think of Bill Bixby, I don't think of a guy turning green, or a man talking to a martian. I think of a father, and his son, climbing rocks near the ocean, searching for themselves.
Shake!: Otis at Monterey (1987)
This movie (available on video) is the complete set of songs sung by Otis Redding at the Monterey Pop International Festival in 1967. Tom Smothers introduces Redding in an offhand manner, and the crowd starts to file down the aisles, leaving so they can make the curfew. Then Otis jumps on the stage, singing the chorus to "Shake" and bringing the house down! Then he goes on to sing a song he originally wrote, "Respect" which is just a chorus repeated over and over again, but oh what he does with that chorus!! Then Redding slows it down for the 'love crowd' with "I've Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)" agonizing over a love lost. The tempo is brought up again with an amazing version of "Satisfaction" that supposedly brought tears to Brian Jones' eyes. The last song is "Try a Little Tenderness" and while I know it is nice to have montages of the different kinds of people that went to the concert, I would have liked it much better if the camera stayed on Redding. At the end of the set, after singing another chorus, Redding says "I gotta go, I don't want to go." By then, you don't want him to go, either. Six months after this was filmed, Otis Redding was dead. We have this film to remember and rediscover.
The Bionic Woman (1976)
Too Good for TV
_The Bionic Woman_ started out as a two part episode of _The Six Million Dollar Man_. (Which, by the way, is the only Bionic Woman videotape you can buy.) In it, Jaime Sommers, tennis pro and fiancee of Steve Austin, had a skydiving accident, and acquired bionic legs, arm and ear to survive. Later on, after a difficult period of adjustment and even being cryogenically frozen, Jaime awakened with only partial memory, and can only regard Steve as a friend. Oscar Goldman, masterfully played by Richard Anderson, had agreed to make Jaime bionic if she worked for the OSI, a government agency that solved complicated problems. He became Jaime's boss, a hands-on leader who was intelligent as well as sophisticated. This was a wonderful series, with lots of high points: teacher Jaime tearing up a phone book to get tough army brat kids to respect her, Jaime battling it out with ALEX (a HAL-like computer set to destroy the world), Jaime being put in jail while her double tries to steal bionic secrets, and, my personal favorite, the original Fembots! If only Universal would put these episodes on video! I would be the first in line to buy them!