Reviews written by registered user
Ron Oliver

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1358 reviews in total 
Index | Alphabetical | Chronological | Useful

7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Whimsical One-Reeler, 17 April 2006
10/10

An MGM ROBERT BENCHLEY Short Subject.

Trying to quietly spend A NIGHT AT THE MOVIES isn't so simple for hapless Robert Benchley.

Nominated for the Best One-Reel Short Subject Academy Award, this was one of a series of little films to feature the gentle humor of Robert Benchley (1889-1945). Watching him deal with the unexpected difficulties of simply enjoying a movie elicits much quiet amusement.

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Often overlooked or neglected today, the one and two-reel short subjects were useful to the Studios as important training grounds for new or burgeoning talents, both in front & behind the camera. The dynamics for creating a successful short subject was completely different from that of a feature length film, something akin to writing a topnotch short story rather than a novel. Economical to produce in terms of both budget & schedule and capable of portraying a wide range of material, short subjects were the perfect complement to the Studios' feature films.

Pure Feud (1934)
6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Hillbilly Humor, 17 April 2006
10/10

A VITAPHONE Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy Short Subject.

It's a PURE FEUD carried out between the McCarthys and the Jenkins into which city boy Edgar Appleby inadvertently stumbles .

This was one of a series of short films highlighting the remarkable talent of ventriloquist Edgar Bergen. His wisecracking dummy, Charlie McCarthy, effortlessly steals the show. Movie mavens will recognize Shemp Howard as one of the McCarthy kin.

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Often overlooked or neglected today, the one and two-reel short subjects were useful to the Studios as important training grounds for new or burgeoning talents, both in front & behind the camera. The dynamics for creating a successful short subject was completely different from that of a feature length film, something akin to writing a topnotch short story rather than a novel. Economical to produce in terms of both budget & schedule and capable of portraying a wide range of material, short subjects were the perfect complement to the Studios' feature films.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Bugs & Birds, 17 April 2006
10/10

An MGM Short Subject.

THE MIRACLE OF SALT LAKE arrives in answer to Mormon prayers.

A fascinating story from Utah history is the basis for this little film, which explains the reason behind the Salt Lake City statue honoring the humble seagull. Movie mavens will recognize Iron Eyes Cody as a friendly Native American.

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Often overlooked or neglected today, the one and two-reel short subjects were useful to the Studios as important training grounds for new or burgeoning talents, both in front & behind the camera. The dynamics for creating a successful short subject was completely different from that of a feature length film, something akin to writing a topnotch short story rather than a novel. Economical to produce in terms of both budget & schedule and capable of portraying a wide range of material, short subjects were the perfect complement to the Studios' feature films.

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Piercing The Veil, 17 April 2006
10/10

An MGM PROPHECIES OF NOSTRADAMUS Short Subject.

Why do so many people believe in these thousand curious verses? Because NOSTRADAMUS SAYS SO!

This intriguing little film tells of the background of the famous seer Michel de Nostradamus (1503-1566) and of some of his prophecies concerning the 20th Century, including World War Two, the Atomic bomb, the United Nations, the Korean Conflict, and the Succession to the British Throne.

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Often overlooked or neglected today, the one and two-reel short subjects were useful to the Studios as important training grounds for new or burgeoning talents, both in front & behind the camera. The dynamics for creating a successful short subject was completely different from that of a feature length film, something akin to writing a topnotch short story rather than a novel. Economical to produce in terms of both budget & schedule and capable of portraying a wide range of material, short subjects were the perfect complement to the Studios' feature films.

5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Military Overview, 17 April 2006
10/10

An MGM Short Subject.

THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG in 1863 was a turning point in America's history.

This short film, narrated by Leslie Nielsen, relates the story of the great pivotal battle during the War Between The States. Dispassionate & evenhanded, it deals with its subject in a noncontroversial manner. Touching upon each of the major aspects of the days of engagement, the film ends with Abraham Lincoln's beautiful Gettysburg Address.

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Often overlooked or neglected today, the one and two-reel short subjects were useful to the Studios as important training grounds for new or burgeoning talents, both in front & behind the camera. The dynamics for creating a successful short subject was completely different from that of a feature length film, something akin to writing a topnotch short story rather than a novel. Economical to produce in terms of both budget & schedule and capable of portraying a wide range of material, short subjects were the perfect complement to the Studios' feature films.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
For Auld Lang Syne, 17 April 2006
10/10

An MGM TRAVELTALK Short Subject.

Our trip to the Scottish Highlands includes quick looks at Inverness & Loch Ness, but lingers longest at the ancient capital of Perth, the Culloden Battlefield and St. Andrews Golf Club. Sir Walter Scott, the skirl of bagpipes and a sentimental visit to a golfers' cemetery are all part of the tour.

This is one of a large series of succinct travelogues turned out by MGM, beginning in the 1930's. These films were produced & narrated by James A. FitzPatrick and featured Technicolor views of beautiful & unusual sights around the globe, as well as vivid, concise commentary.

3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
History Mystery, 1 April 2006
10/10

An MGM PROPHECIES OF NOSTRADAMUS Short Subject.

The strange story of Michel de NOSTRADAMUS AND THE QUEEN of France is herein related.

This short film tells the intriguing tale of the prophecies of the famous seer (1503-1566) and how they reinforced the ambitions of the rapacious Catherine de Medici (1519-1589) and the fates of her three sons, each of whom would rule France: Francis II (1559-1560), Charles IX (1560-1574) and Henry III (1574-1589).

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Often overlooked or neglected today, the one and two-reel short subjects were useful to the Studios as important training grounds for new or burgeoning talents, both in front & behind the camera. The dynamics for creating a successful short subject was completely different from that of a feature length film, something akin to writing a topnotch short story rather than a novel. Economical to produce in terms of both budget & schedule and capable of portraying a wide range of material, short subjects were the perfect complement to the Studios' feature films.

10 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
East Is East & West Is West, Usually, 26 February 2006
10/10

A wealthy young man, raised as a SON OF THE GODS, must confront his Chinese heritage while living in a White world.

Although the premise upon which this film is based is almost certainly a biological impossibility and the secret of the plot when revealed at the movie's conclusion makes all which has preceded it faintly ludicrous, the story still serves up some decent entertainment and good acting.

Richard Barthelmess has the title role as the sweet-natured Oriental whose life is terribly complicated because he looks Caucasian. Barthelmess keeps the tone of his performance serious throughout, gazing intently into the middle distance (a mannerism he developed during Silent Days) whenever his character is indecently misused. He makes no attempt to replicate his classic performance in D. W. Griffith's BROKEN BLOSSOMS (1919) and this is to his credit. Beautiful Constance Bennett is the millionaire's daughter who makes Barthelmess miserable. She is gorgeous as always, but her behavior does not endear her to the viewer and her terrible illness in the final reel is kept mercifully off screen.

Multi-talented Frank Albertson has a small role as Barthelmess' improvident buddy. Serene E. Alyn Warren and blustery Anders Randolf play the leading stars' very different fathers, while Claude King distinguishes his brief appearance as the English author who befriends Barthelmess.

Movie mavens will recognize little Dickie Moore, uncredited, playing Barthelmess as a tiny child.

The original Technicolor of the flashback sequence has faded with time to a ruddy tint. The shot purporting to be the South of France instead looks suspiciously like Avalon on Santa Catalina Island, off the coast of Southern California.

12 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
Lively & Complicated, 26 February 2006
10/10

It will take FOUR MEN AND A PRAYER to save an old colonel's reputation from disgrace.

Although its complicated plot is faintly ludicrous, this John Ford film offers plenty of action and some good acting to keep its viewers entertained. The production value is of a high order and there's a generous amount of heroics, which almost makes one forget that there's no really despicable villain to hiss.

Barrister George Sanders, diplomat Richard Greene, military pilot David Niven, and Oxford student William Henry are the English brothers who unite to find their father's murderer and clear his good name. All do a fine job with what the script gives them, constantly dashing about and acting terribly energetic, with young Henry more than keeping up with his three better known costars. Greene actually has top billing, but Niven gets the best lines, getting to leaven a good deal of humor into his performance.

Lovely Loretta Young does not fare so well. She's given the ridiculous role of a silly rich girl in love with Greene who follows him first from America to England, then on to Argentina and Egypt. Even witnessing a hideous massacre doesn't entirely sober her, as she begins to behave like a junior league Mata Hari to uncover information for the preternaturally patient Greene. One usually expects more than this from John Ford's heroines.

The rest of the large cast offers able support, however. Wonderful old Sir C. Aubrey Smith graces his brief role as the men's tragic father. Stalwart Reginald Denny plays a captain with too much information for his own good. Affable Alan Hale has fun with his role as a millionaire arms dealer. J. Edward Bromberg is a squalid little South American general and, in a tiny role, John Carradine plays his suave & dangerous enemy. Blustery Berton Churchill plays the powerful tycoon father of Miss Young's character, while bantam Barry Fitzgerald steals his few moments of screen time as a boisterous little Irishman ready for a good fight.

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Garbo Sins, 14 February 2006
10/10

A young woman defies THE SINGLE STANDARD of morality which allows males freedom while restricting the behavior of females.

Greta Garbo stars in this late silent trifle from MGM. Her flawless beauty is thawed somewhat by a script that allows her a sly sense of humor and a more approachable demeanor. Playing a character torn between the duties of a wife and the passions of a lover, she is always entertaining, even if the film isn't terribly significant.

Nils Asther, who could almost match Garbo's exoticism, gives a fine performance as the celebrity artist whose adventurous lifestyle & romantic allure prove such a temptation to Garbo. Handsome Johnny Mack Brown gives a touch of nobility to his rather small role as the dull husband willing to sacrifice everything for Garbo's happiness. Elderly character actress Zeffie Tilbury scores as an observant society matron who speaks her mind.

In unbilled roles, Robert Castle grabs the viewers' attention as Garbo's tragic chauffeur and Wade Boteler provides a few chuckles as the merry masher who confronts Garbo in the rain. Movie mavens will recognize a young Joel McCrea as one of the trio of philandering husbands whose antics amuse Garbo in the film's opening moments.


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