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Wonder Woman (2017)
OK, but unbelievable action scenes; didn't appreciate sexual banter
I give the movie a passing grade if you don't think too much, pleasant entertainment, nice visuals and special effects.
I'd like to make two negative observations: (1) I found it impossible to suspend disbelief regarding the action scenes. She's just a mortal (or so it seemed for most of the movie), and she manages to charge lines of armed enemy soldiers, deflecting hundreds of bullets coming at her all at once in different directions (even with her bracelets, etc). (Superman came from a different world and had super powers. Batman was human (like seemingly Wonder Woman) but handled just small crime gangs and individual criminals.) I also cringed at the fierce practice sword fighting scenes among the Amazon women: a wonder no one would get hurt. (2) I am not a prude but at one point in the movie there was continual references to nude Steve Trevor's (offscreen) genitalia -- blatant references and much innuendo. It seemed out of place in a movie like this. Surprised me. I guess we are in a new age.
Beyond Victory (1931)
Wonderful movie. I have become tired writing movie reviews, but I had to write this one when I saw that the film had only a 5.9 User Rating. How could that be?
I chose to watch the film because I am a Hopalong Cassidy fan, who is played by William Boyd, the star of this movie. I had never seen him out of the Cassidy role. My biggest delight was with the actors Lew Cody and Marion Shilling, who was adorable; I have to catch their movies. One of the best parts of the movie was the cinema-photography: the war-time explosions, smoke and noise were great for 1931, and would look likewise today. The film was relatively short time-wise, and it moved along quickly. The anti-war humanitarian theme was the major part of the film, especially the romance, impending marriage and war issues between Boyd (a non-German-American) and Lissy Arna (a German-American). See it, you won't be disappointed.
Pride of the West (1938)
Long, tedious, unbelievable caper
This has to be one of the worst and most unusual Hoppy movies. It has little of the features that make the Hoppy films a great Western series, like William Boyd's warm, commanding personality and the idiosyncrasies of the other characters. Instead we had to suffer through one long, tedious, convoluted, unbelievable "caper" Hoppy's plan to incriminate and identify the bosses of the stage robbers.
Spoilers. The stage is robbed, and only a few people knew that it was carrying $30,000 in gold coins. One person who knew is the sheriff, a friend of Hoppy, and the sheriff comes under suspicion. That begins the first of the unbelievable coincidences. The sheriff's children ride to get Hoppy's help, and on the way happened to come across a usually deserted shack that some men are staying at. They mention this to Hoppy, who presciently decides to investigate the shack, and he immediately overhears the men discussing the stage robbery and their taking $800 from the money bags for their immediate needs. Instead of arresting the men, taking possession of the money and forcing the men to identify their bosses, Hoppy leaves everything as is in the hopes of smoking out the bosses. In doing so, the kids and Hoppy's sidekicks get endangered. Finally, when everyone and the money is brought together at the jail-house, Hoppy explains that two of the men still happen to have the $800 on them (lucky Hoppy). (Incidentally, I could never understand what was the use of Hoppy marking the money bags at the shack.)
Borrowed Trouble (1948)
boring, slight story
This was the 64th of 66 Hoppy movies, and it was one of the worst, unfortunately. The few things to like in the movie are: (1) the neat title to the movie, "Borrowed Trouble;" I always liked that; (2) the wordless scenes at the start of the movie the cowboys driving the cattle through the plains to the railhead; good mountain scenery; (3) Anne O'Neal's performance as the crusty, feisty old schoolmarm was at turns charming and tolerable; and (4) a surprising twist ending when the "mystery" was solved.
Those are all minor good points and are weighted down by the many many minutes of bad aspects: tedious repetitive scenes; lack of action; and California's stupid humor that would try the patience of a child. The plot was no great shakes, relied on coincidences (gifts from heaven). The main story line lacked much interest the noise from a saloon disrupting the teaching of children in the near-by school house.
Silver on the Sage (1939)
Entertaining, good Hoppy movie
Very entertaining movie. Nice pace; moves along to something fresh as it progresses. Very pretty, well-spoken leading lady, Ruth Rogers. Russell Hayden (along with James Ellison) are my favorite young sidekicks, and Gabby Hayes is by far my favorite comic sidekick for Hoppy (Andy Clyde is like fingernails scraping a blackboard, to me). I liked the humor and banter between Ellison and Hayes. It was very funny and cute when twice Happy fired from behind when Hayes was shooting, giving the credit to Hayes. The story was interesting. All the actors were fine. I enjoyed the understated humor, like: seeing one juror at the inquest sleeping; the bar tender trying to break up a brawl by saying "I got some good liquor here; they made a mistake in the shipment this time;" and Gabby haplessly trying to be seen as an outlaw by handing out phony wanted posters with his picture on it (at one point the Marshall turned over one of the posters to use the paper for making notes!). Other good scenes involved Hoppy playing poker, and his noticing who was Talbot and who was the alibi by observing which one licked his thumb while dealing.
I liked the movie even with these silly director and screenplay mistakes: (1) in one scene I noticed to myself how slow Hoppy was in drawing his gun during a poker game. An then shortly later, I almost fell off my chair when one bad guy commented that it must be Hopalong Cassidy because only three people could draw that fast: Hoppy and two others that he knew. (2) the Owner of the Lazy J Ranch (Hamilton) ordered his foreman, Talbot, to go to the ranch to work, but Talbot went to town. Shortly thereafter, Lucky brings Talbot to the ranch, and Hamilton says he and Lucky will bring Talbot to the Marshall for questioning. Why? Hardly a good reason. (3) On the way to the Marshall, the bad guys have Hamilton killed. Why? I couldn't see a good reason. (4) Unbelievable coincidence: The bad guys ride out to the range and happened to stop to talk right next to where Lucky and Hayes are camping, and the two secretly hear an important conversation! (5) Similar to the above, the bad guys happen to leave one guy behind on the range. And he secretly hears Hoppy's plan that Hoppy will mark his trail (with ribbons) so his friends can follow him. (6) at a close distance, as Hoppy is riding away, Talbot draws and fires at Hoppy, and misses!
Pirates on Horseback (1941)
Disappointing, poor Hoppy film: no action, weak plot
To me this was one of the worst, most disappointing Hoppy films. Andy Clyde's never ending comic dialog was childish, unfunny and excruciating. There was hardly any action in the film, save a shoot-out at the cabin near the start of the movie.
The plot was also a big nothing: at the end of the film, bad guy Morris Ankrum gets angry when the heroine won't sell her mine to him. He starts to manhandle her, and Hoppy rescues her. That's it! Not much of a crime to jail him for.
The only fairly interesting and clever thing in the movie was the mysterious clue left behind by the killed miner ("eagle will show way to mine at sundown") and Hoppy's unraveling of it.
As one reviewer pointed out, the title "Pirates on Horseback" has nothing to do with the movie. It also implies action which the film sorely lacks. The bad guy is merely a crooked gambler and conman, some pirate on horseback!
Heart of the West (1936)
Mediocre at best Hoppy film.
I found this to be a mediocre Hoppy film, as compared to the two dozen or so I have already see.. Usually I find the Hoppy films with Ellison and Gabby Hayes as among the best, but not this one. The copy I saw on Cozi TV had terrible sound. The woman who played the heroine, Lynn Gabriel, was the worst sounding one I have ever seen in a Hoppy film; I see she only appeared in two films throughout her "career." And Sidney Blacker (bland and sluggish as he usually is too often) came across as the one of the worst acted and appealing villains in a Hoppy movie. The plot was decent but no shakes; same for the other supporting actors. That didn't leave too much to enjoy.
Renegade Trail (1939)
Enjoyable Hoppy outing, stresses character, lauds Hoppy's
Enjoyable Hoppy outing. This one stresses the camaraderie, love and respect between the Hoppy and his two sidekicks, old-timer Windy (now sheriff) and young Lucky. It also stresses Hoppy's great reputation for decency and competence. There is very little action (OK with me) in the first half of the movie. It is fun to hear Windy brag to a young boy how great Hoppy is and how Windy taught Hoppy and Lucky everything worth knowing. Fun also to hear the banter as the three josh each other. Hoppy shows up, but the young boy and his mother don't know it is Hoppy. The mother even tongue lashes Hoppy, not realizing who he is. Finally, there is some good humor between Windy and Lucky about the chances of the mother getting Hoppy to marry her.
The second half of the movie has the requisite action, and all ends well
The Frontiersmen (1938)
90 percent of the movie devoted to fawning over the pretty new teacher
Wow, the other reviewers here were not exaggerating. This was unlike every other Hoppy film. Some 90% of the movie was dialog with and about the new pretty female teacher. We were repeatedly told how important education is and how many ways the cowhands of the Bar 20 could love her as a husband, brother, father, etc. Constantly fawning over her. It's OK to devote SOME time to things like this; they add local color, character development, flesh out the characters, etc. But it was way overdone here. The movie became a domestic family light comedy. Only ten percent or less of the film was devoted to the cattle rustlers. My advice is: skip the movie.
One observation: I don't know why the leader of the rustlers caused his doom by planning two events at the same time/day: (1) marrying and leaving the West with the school ma-rm, and (2) rustling the Bar-20 cattle with his gang. He couldn't be with the gang, so they exposed him.
Strange Gamble (1948)
very poor pedestrian Hoppy film, the last in the series.
There were 66 films from 1935-1948, all starring William Boyd as Hopalong Cassidy. "Strange Gamble," released in October 1948 was the very last Hoppy FILM made.
Boyd also made some 52 half-hour Hoppy TV episodes between 1952 and 1954. Forty of these were fresh (original) shows co-starring Edgar Buchanan as Red Connors. The others were condensed/edited movies converted into half-hour TV episodes, usually with Boyd narrating parts to aid the editing and condensing. "Strange Gamble" happens to be one of the films which was turned into a half-hour episode; it is episode 3 of TV season 1.
I've seen both the TV episode and the feature film, both by the same name "Strange Gamble." Maybe I am too influenced by the TV episode, but the movie seems like cheap, formula TV. That's my review. Nothing positive to say.