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I tried watching this for awhile....but Mark Cousin is such a horrible narrator I had to give up. Not only is the language florid, but he goes up on the end of each and every sentence! Each one sounds like a question. It's so annoying that you want to stick your fingers in your ears. What a bad choice. A narrator for such a long series as this is critical, and it's literally impossible to listen to him for hours on end. In addition, much of the material covered has been covered better elsewhere. Perhaps with a better narrator I could slog through it, but I just couldn't take it with is voice droning on and on. Maybe I should try with the sound down and closed captioning on!
I have to disagree with the poster who wrote that Dean Stockwell doesn't look remotely Japanese. It was great casting, as Stockwell's eyes didn't require that much makeup to look Asian, and the work that was done on them was done extremely well. In fact, I caught this episode on TV in the middle and thought that they had cast a Japanese actor in the second part! The episode itself falls prone to Serling's not uncommon habit of hitting you over the head with his point. The American Stockwell and the Japanese commander are so extreme as to be cardboard cutouts. But I guess subtlety wasn't really the point of "The Twilight Zone".
Night Flight (1933)
I can see why Saint-Exupéry pulled his rights...
Other than a couple of tense flying sequences, it's pretty much a wasted 84 minutes of your life. John Barrymore has some fun chewing up the scenery, but the rest of the cast is wasted in clichéd melodrama. Lionel Barrymore scratches himself constantly in a vain attempt to give his character some defining quality. Helen Hayes plays a typical wire waiting for her man. Myrna Loy has basically one scene, playing the wife sending her man off. Clark Gable appears only in the cockpit and has about five lines, I think. Robert Montgomery probably has the most fleshed-out character, but in the end even he remains a cypher. Not all lost films are great...
A missed opportunity
I thought the conceit of the film was to juxtapose a micro budget with a lush symphonic score and Godardish realism with tap dance numbers, but that never really happens. The musical numbers are few and far between, and the only real one (Boy in the Park) doesn't come until 3/4 of the way into the film.
If you establish a premise in a film (characters break into song to express their feelings), you must be true to it, not afraid of it. It felt like the filmmaker couldn't decide whether to go all the way - I wish he had. It would've made for a far more watchable film. What we get is a film that is unsatisfying for those watching for the fantasy and for those watching for the realism.
Behind the Lines (1926)
This is one of the most watchable of the Vitaphone shorts included on the Jazz Singer DVD. Elsie Janis has an unaffected style and interacts with the soldiers in a natural manner. The songs are fun, as is the idea of pulling soldiers out of the crowd to share the stage with her. The soldiers demand a French song, and she tries it but doesn't know the words, so a French soldier is dragged on stage. It's strange that they don't sing together, but he does a good job. She then sings an American song, which includes these lyrics: "The Jews and Wops and the Burly Irish cops are all in the Army." She tells the troops she'll sing and then dance if they sing the second verse, but adds, "If you don't sing, I don't hoof!" One of the few shorts I didn't feel the need to use the fast-forward button to get through.
The Real Glory (1939)
Offensive on so many levels!
This film is typical of American films that present us as benevolent occupiers rather than the aggressive colonizers we were.
Contrary to the film's assertion, Filipinos were not simple people who were happy to have Americans occupying their country. The bloody Philippine-American War, during which Filipinos fought for their independence, lasted for four years. Some Americans, including William Jennings Bryan, Mark Twain, and Andrew Carnegie, strongly objected to the annexation of the Philippines. The U.S. declared victory in 1902, but in the south, Muslim Filipinos resisted until 1913, and the Americans never acquired complete control over the Muslim areas of Mindanao.
The word "moro" used in the film to refer to the Muslims is a pejorative term used by the non-Muslim (i.e., Christian) majority, and Muslims o that time would not call themselves "moro." While it is historically accurate that there were Muslims pirates that attacked coastal villages, this film represents most Muslims as "native devils" and the non-Muslim Filipinos s as frightened children who need brave Americans to teach them courage. The reality is that Muslim Filipinos refused to be subjugated by American rule and fought a drawn-ought guerrilla war, the first of its kind in modern history and the only kind possible when faced with the wealth and power of the U.S colonial machinery.
When you are fighting against troops that are illegally occupying your country, is that a rebellion or is it self-defense? The current situation in Iraq shows that not much has changed over 100 years later.
Double Harness (1933)
Ann Harding rocks!
Just saw this on TCM and I have to say I was floored by Harding's performance, who I saw here for the first time. It takes real talent to act in melodramatic scenes and deliver them so naturally that the viewer never questions your authenticity. Harding adds hundreds of little touches - a gesture here, an eye movement there, that make her performance show you what natural acting is all about. In fact, she makes everyone else pale by comparison - Powell is his usual charming self, but next to Harding he comes off as a typical Hollywood performer. And talk about sophistication! Harding has to be the ultimate in "cool". I can only guess the reason she didn't become as big as Hepburn or Davis is that she didn't fight for better films. I'll be sure to look for more of her work soon.
John Henry and the Inky-Poo (1946)
I'm a huge fan of Pal's Puppetoons - they remain some of the most outstanding examples of animated films ever made. But this later work appears to have been done mainly to make amends for Pal's series of "Jasper" films, which feature such strong racial stereotypes it is impossible to show them on television today.
"John Henry," while presenting African-Americans in a more favorable light, displays little of the inventiveness and style of Pal's earlier works. Perhaps concerns about being offensive limited his artistic choices. Whatever the reason, this is not one of his better works. Check out his earlier films, made in Holland and England, for extraordinary flashes of brilliance.
Between Time and Timbuktu (1972)
Could PBS ever do something this bizarre today?
I was mesmerized by this strange film back in 1972, and it lingered in my memories for years until I was finally able to view it a few months ago. The parts that I recall held up beautifully, especially Bob & Ray's work (which was largely ad-libbed). Some of the Vonnegut stories work, some don't: the "Handicapper General" piece is quite scary and all too real, as is the section about ethical suicide parlors. But in the end it's Elliot and Goulding (and Hickey) who save the day.
I still can't think about "ex-astronaut Bud Williams, Jr." telling his story about Tang without smiling. Wish they would release this on DVD (and another early NET special - America, Inc. with Jean Shepherd).
What a waste of talent
I was a huge fan of Kilborn when he hosted "The Daily Show" - his spot-on impersonation of a pompous anchor meshed perfectly with the dumb-as-a-doorknob "correspondents" on the show. In fact, I initially disliked his replacement, Jon Stewart, because he didn't play a character, as Craig had.
But when Craig essentially brought that same character to The Late Late Show, I was skeptical. You can't be a snotty talk-show host - it just doesn't fit. Still, I watched because of Craig. But then I began noticing the that the show was shamefully pandering to TV's favorite audience: 18-34 year old males. It seemed like every joke, every guest, every bit, was designed to appeal to that group alone. Soon the humor got stale and I found myself forgetting to tune in. Eventually, I stopped watching altogether.
At the same time, Jon Stewart elevated "The Daily Show" to a pinnacle of social and political satire and commentary, something unseen since "That Was The Week That Was." And Craig disappeared. It's too bad for him that he left the spot that he was perfectly suited for, but good for us, since Stewart has created an entirely new, and better, show.
Good luck, Craig, wherever you are - next time I hope you'll drop the pandering in favor of pushing the envelope, as you did on "The Daily Show."