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The Green Hornet (2011)
Could have been a decent film, but not via this property
Even though I did not like this film, I had no trouble sitting all the way through its DVD. This comedy/spoof might have worked if Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg had created an at least ostensibly new character, however obvious the derivation might have been, instead of adapting a long-established and serious property. They even appear to have had an underlying point to make, that no matter what resources you have available to you, putting on a mask and becoming an extra-legal crime-fighter is a stupid thing to do. Again, this doesn't work in an adaptation of a respected and straight character. As is, there are some funny bits here and there. But on top of everything else, Cameron Diaz was too old at least visibly for Casey, and Mike Axford was that character in name only. Granted, a spoof doesn't need a comedy-relief supporting character, but the editor of "The Daily Sentinel" is Gunnigan and Mike is an Irish-American reporter (regardless of whether or not he's an ex-cop and if he ever had any bodyguard duties); no need to change that at all. Poor, but not terrible.
Only one character
Just for the record, deo838 is incorrect. Leonard Nimoy does in fact play just one character here, and it is Theo Van Gogh. On occasion during his eulogy for his late brother, Theo does an "impression" of Vincent, but that's exactly what it is: Nimoy playing Theo who every now and then imitates Vincent. He is also incorrect to refer to this as a filmed version separate from the stage play. This is a videotaped performance of the play as given in Minneapolis' Guthrie Theater.
Those points aside, this is indeed a very interesting program, and goes beyond just the play. Afterwards, the camera follows Nimoy backstage and into his dressing room, where he speaks to the camera, summarizing the remainder of Theo's life. Then the actor launches into a discussion of the artist, including location footage. This sequence is highly reminiscent of the episode of the Nimoy-hosted/narrated series "In Search Of..." about Vincent, and which the actor himself scripted. Fascinating from beginning to end.
Hollywood Story (1951)
A good mystery with a fascinating back story
My position is exactly the same as that of bsnmsn. I saw this on "The Late Show" (for me, a locally-operated movie slot following the post-prime time news), where I saw numerous great, old films. Then, years later I learned about the William Desmond Taylor murder and recognized the parallels to this movie. Just couldn't be coincidence. I think I've seen "Hollywood Story" once since then, either on local TV in the late 70s to early 80s, or on a cable channel (TBS, WGN, WOR) in the early 80s. I keep scouring the listings of Turner Classic Movies for it, but so far no luck. BTW, I gave it a 7 out of 10, dropping a little because I remember it as looking somewhat low-budget; it IS an early William Castle effort.
The Prisoner (2009)
No good at all, except technically
I have been an enthusiastic follower/student of the original "The Prisoner" since the premiere episode "Arrival" had its first USA showing in May 1968. Consequently, I was looking forward to this remake/update. Unfortunately, I was so disappointed that I changed the channel about five minutes into "Harmony." It was well acted, photographed, etc., but the problems were unsurmountable.
Right off, it starts with The Prisoner awakening, but not within The Village. He is instead in a desert, which proves to be not far removed from that community. We are never given any hint of a reason why--or even how--he comes to be there. Even Number Two, in the first interrogation scene, indicates that he does not know. It may be that the producers have disposed with the superficial level storyline, which even Patrick McGoohan considered unimportant, a necessity to get Lew Grade to agree to back the series. However, I feel that it is necessary to initiate audience involvement/sympathy. Here, "they" are trying to get our nameless hero to believe that The Village and environs is the entire world, no other population centers and indeed no other people. The only information sought from him concerns an old man he met in the desert, undoubtedly intended to be played by McGoohan; he even wears Patrick's Village costume. That is resolved in this opening episode.
This version of The Village, despite its name, looks like a small city, and not architecturally distinctive/surreal like "the grounds of the Hotel Portmeirion" (the location credit on the original show's finale), which was the initial inspiration. The residents wear normal clothing instead of distinctive Village costumes; although "Number Six" sports an outfit that would not have looked particularly out of place on a "Star Trek" set, it would not get a second look on a city street, either.
People unfamiliar with the original might not have the problems I had, but I can not guarantee that. For myself, I am done with this program.
The Lone Ranger Rides Again (1955)
Disputing the previous confirmation
I know that this is more suited to a discussion thread, but it is a direct response to a previous comment (and the spoiler warning is a matter of paranoia).
Sorry, Chuck Miller, but the fact that three actors (Jack Clifford, Tristram Coffin and George J. Lewis) all have the attribute "credit only" is impossible to interpret any way but that this is an edited version of the original (and black and white) three-parter from 1949, even using the original's credits. Well, there is the possibility that this IMDb entry is screwed up REAL bad. The fact that Clifford is listed as playing a Cavendish henchman in all three of those episodes does work against the cut-down theory. However, Coffin appears strictly in Part 1, while Lewis' character is killed in the opening moments of Part 2, suggesting that the back-story of Collins (Lewis)'s betrayal of the Rangers, the ambush, Butch turning on Collins, and his surviving Cavendish's treachery to attack our heroes, meeting his actual death in the process, are reduced to being summarized by a narrator. Also note that George Seitz is the credited director of this AND the original three-parter. He is NOT credited with directing an episode of the series after 1951. Furthermore, original producer Jack Chertok gets that credit here, too; admittedly, he was around into '55, but the color remake has been attributed to Jack Wrather, who bought the property from George Trendle and did not retain Chertok. Again, if this is a newly-filmed version of the Lone Ranger's origin, how could three actors not involved be listed in the credits? Please note that I have conceded that a color version was filmed late in the original run, but if the attribute given to Clifford, Coffin and Lewis, and the credits given to Seitz and Chertok are all correct, this cannot be it.
Witness for the Prosecution (1982)
Torpedoed by one piece of gross miscasting!
I am amazed at the number of comments here faulting Sir Ralph Richardson's performance here and praising Dame Diana Rigg's. The situation is, if anything, the reverse. Admittedly, I hadn't seen the Billy Wilder cinema version for some years when I watched this, and therefore couldn't compare Sir Ralph's work to that of Charles Laughton (I haven't viewed this one since, either), but that isn't necessary to evaluate Rigg. She is totally miscast, in a way that is fatal to the twist ending (note the spoiler warning above, please). Unlike Marlene Dietrich, for Rigg the German accent is a complete affectation, while the cockney isn't that far from her own British speech pattern: vocally, she is quite recognizable as the other woman, at least to anyone familiar with her from other work--the fact that Rigg is kept in shadows in this scene (something that was unnecessary with Dietrich) would raise some vague suspicions of any uninitiated but reasonably intelligent viewer as well, even if her voice didn't give her away. But it does.
The Son of Kong (1933)
Just Needed One More Rewrite
"The Son of Kong" is a film unjustly maligned in some circles, as comparing it to its legendary "father" is simply unfair. Any attempt to make the follow-up as another adventure/horror hybrid would have been doomed to be less than the original--lightning just doesn't strike the same place twice that quickly, so Cooper, et. al., intelligently chose another route. And speaking of quickly, it WAS hurriedly put together--only nine months passed between the two openings, and making the first one cost RKO so much money, they had to have waited for the box office returns to come in before giving ANY thought to producing a sequel, let alone actually green-lighting one, further reducing the time available to make it. The real short-comings here are in the script, and I feel strongly that one rewrite--no doubt prohibited by how quickly the studio wanted the film in theaters--would have helped tremendously. I'll admit that the live-action build-up to the Kong's island sequence should have played much better than it did, but the real problem here is that several important aspects of the story are not made very clear. For example, while the main-cast introductions in the opening titles tell us that Helen Mack plays Hilda, the name appears absolutely nowhere else in the picture (Denham calls her "Kid" more than anything else). Similarly, the promotional poster for her and her father's show bears the name "Petersen's" (if you make a point of trying to read it during the moment it's on screen), implying that this is their surname, but again that's the only place in the film you can find it. Minor details, admittedly, but they still point to a need for a rewrite. Elsewhere, Englehorn has perceptively used the term "Dutch jurisdiction" concerning Helstrom's desire to leave Da Kang, yet he and Denham are eager to believe the Norwegian's story of a treasure hidden on Kong's island, and that he didn't tell Carl when he gave him the map and told him everything else because HE was thinking about looking for it some day. By this point, the average viewer has gotten the impression that Denham is cleanly away from the many lawsuits filed against him back in New York, provided he not go back there, but it doesn't really work that way, and things are even worse if that grand jury did indeed hand down one or more criminal indictments against him (all that was actually said was that he was being subpoenaed to testify before it). Also, Englehorn used his savings to get them back to the Orient, and their shipping business is not doing well. They both are in such dire financial straits when Helstrom feeds them this line that neither gives any thought to its credibility, but I saw the film more times than I'd care to try and count before I came to understand all this. I still don't comprehend why Hilda stowed away on their ship instead of waiting for the magistrate and filing her report of her father's death. One good rewrite of the script before they started shooting, and that 40 minute live-action build-up would have had plenty of the dramatic "impetus" that Neil Pettigrew ("The Stop-Motion Filmography", MacFarland & Co., 1999, p. 648, a typical comment) found lacking.
A Documentary about a Mystery that is Itself a Mystery!
The murder of silent movie director William Desmond Taylor is one of those enduring real-life mysteries that continues to pique interest even eighty years later. This documentary, however, does not do it justice. It is by no means worthless, but it is severely flawed. There is absolutely no mention whatsoever of the revelation during the original, official investigation that Taylor was an alias, and that this man had walked out on his wife and children back east and disappeared before resurfacing in California under his new name. Furthermore, late in the program, it is asserted that Taylor was secretly gay, and that this undercut almost every theory about the case. This claim is followed not by the least little shred of supporting evidence, but by a description of how the publicizing of this "fact" would have been devastating to the Hollywood film industry at that time, and so it was consequently suppressed. This contention is in fact flatly contradicted by much evidence in the case, one piece of which is shortly thereafter repeated! One would be much better off finding and reading a copy of the book, "A Cast of Killers," whose author, Sidney Kirkpatrick, is one of the interview subjects here. A strange fact of this production is that it was in fact several years old at the time of its apparent premiere, on the Biography Channel. Its copyright notice bears the year 2000, and it is narrated by Paul Winfield, of "City Confidential" fame, who passed away in early 2004. In fact, several members of this production's staff and crew worked on that A&E series, and the presentation style here bears a marked resemblance to the other's. Given its extended running time, were it not for the fact that no such subject can be found in the "CC" episode guide on A&E's official website, one would think that this was a special edition of that series. Was it intended as such and shelved due to the inaccuracies in the content described above, finally getting "thrown away" on a channel available to a much smaller audience than the parent? We may never know.
UPDATE: I stand by everything that I said about this. No CC episode guide that I can find, not just A&E's own, includes it, which would not be the case if it had been aired as one. I fully intend to submit to the IMDb that the presences of both the series title and 2007 as "year of release" are incompatible, which they are. To deal with dpmccauley1's counter-claims to my criticisms of the program on its own terms: The amount of time that had passed since the murder and official investigation happened does not justify either failing to mention Taylor's original identity and family, or flatly asserting that he was homosexual in direct opposition to evidence that is even presented in the program. Too much of this was too well documented for that oversight and the factual error to be defensible.
The Green Hornet (1940)
Corrections to Leslie Howard Adams
This is not so much a user comment but corrections to Leslie Howard Adams's commentary, as they do need to be made.
1): "John Reid...became The Lone Ranger. Dang right The Lone Ranger had a name." As long as George Trendle and Fran Striker were in control, first names for the Lone Ranger and his ill-fated brother were never given (they sold that property to Jack Wrather in 1955). In the 1960s, both a "Houston Chronicle" (TX) newspaper obituary for Striker and a Gold Key comics adaptation of the origin called THE SURVIVING BROTHER Dan. "John" and "Dan," as are now so familiar--and I therefore do not fault Mr. Adams significantly for accepting them--do not appear to predate the 1970s, perhaps beginning in the awful 1981 big-budget movie version.
2): "One of the great non-true urban myths has it that Kato was introduced on the program as Japanese, and had to change his country-of-origin in 1941 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Not so. Kato was Filipino from day one in 1936 on the radio program....Surprised that somebody hasn't posted that myth on the IMDb site, somewhere." It is an incontestable fact that Kato WAS initially described as Japanese on the radio show, as I have audio recordings of early episodes to prove it. What IS widely believed but untrue is the part that has the change being made as of Monday December 8, 1941, the day after Pearl Harbor. Jim Harmon in his book, "The Great Radio Heroes" (Doubleday, 1967, p.223--and I have photocopies of the pages of the entire Green Hornet chapter right in front of me) wrote, "It's a good story that Kato became Filipino the day after Pearl Harbor. Even some of the people on the show tell it. It isn't true, however. Kato was described as being a Filipino of Japanese ancestry as far back as 1940." This has apparently been misconstrued by many as saying he was NEVER indicated to be Japanese. These people presumably had it related to them second-hand as it is simply not open to that misinterpretation; Harmon is saying nothing about the character's status prior to 1940. The odd result is that one urban legend has been replaced, at least in some minds, by another. I repeat, my audio recordings prove conclusively that early on, Kato was said to be a Japanese (Harmon's intent, incidentally, seems to have been to suggest that the change was made by increments, first adding Filipino to the already existing Japanese, then SUBSEQUENTLY dropping the public-relations-wise problematical original; however, none of my original episode recordings give this dual ethnicity, just one, the other, or nothing more specific than "Oriental" if even that). For Mr.Adams's information, this so-called urban legend HAS been on this title's "Trivia" page for some time, and I recently modified it to remove the "Pearl Harbor" myth-information and add the note that this serial got there first in 1939--note the opening credits' copyright notice--and made him "a Korean."
If Mr. Adams wants to dispute any of this, I invite him to start a thread on this title's message boards, as THIS is not the appropriate venue, but his comments needed to be addressed where they were made.
I update to make an admission: Filipino was indeed said at least a few times in 1940 (and presumably consistently from then on), although these were just passing references in dialogue, not as part the standard opening, where it appears to have been very rarely heard (for whatever that distinction might be worth, if anything). In the only episode recording I have in which this occurs, it is clearly not the intro originally heard on the episode: It also says "...public enemies who try and destroy our America," even though this change--from "...even the G-Men cannot reach," at FBI objection--had yet to be introduced; the intro is read by a different announcer/narrator than the one heard throughout the remainder of the episode, further corroborating the switch. Just to make the information here completely accurate (I am as ready to correct myself as I am anyone else).
Space Angel (1962)
When I was a kid, I loved it!
I loved this when I was a youngster of ten or so. "Clutch Cargo" seems to get all the attention, but I thought this was infinitely better. The plots were fairly complex while "Cargo"'s were downright simplistic. Ditto for the characterizations. I even remember it being somewhat better animated, but still not comparing well even to the Filmation crap of the seventies. Each show, it should be pointed out, was originally serialized, one five-minute chapter a day, Monday through Friday. While "Cargo" had a new story each week (and in the seventies was sometimes seen reedited into half-hour TV shows), "Space Angel," if memory serves, had its stories go on for two and sometimes even three weeks. One bizarre thing about this show was that Space Angel was a secret identity, one that was very, very rarely used, and for good reason. To become SA, Scott McCloud would touch the side of his space helmet, bringing goggles down over his one good eye and eye patch, and a microphone up over his mouth! I swear! This "transformation" was shown in the opening credits of every episode, and that's all there was to it, so you can see why the writers stayed away from it for the most part. When "Cargo" came along, "Angel" disappeared from the airwaves--at least in Houston, Texas--and when the latter cartoons kept getting broadcast, I assumed that the earlier program had been in black and white. However, recent advertisements for videos have described BOTH as being in color. So I don't know why "Space Angel" vanished, but at least it's not forgotten.