Reviews written by registered user
|38 reviews in total|
Friz Freling was notorious for re-using gags in his cartoons. These
include playing "Those Endearing Young Charms" on a booby-trapped
instrument, the trained pigeons gag and many, many others. This cartoon
is a nearly complete remake of 1950's "Stooge For A Mouse". Freling
replaced Mike the Bulldog with Bugsy, Sylvester with Mugsy and the
mouse with Bugs. In fact, if you were to take out everything that was
reused from this cartoon, it would only be thirty seconds long. It
would be interesting to cut all the repeated gags from Freling's
cartoons and see which pile would be larger.
Freling may have once been an innovative director, but as time went on, his cartoons became collections of overworked, reused material.
This combines several elements of previously filmed ideas. The evil
creature/force/spirit inhabiting the bodies of humans to wreak
murderous havoc dates back at least to the 1967 Star Trek episode "Wolf
in the Fold" (#2-14) and recurs in the 1998 movie "Fallen". Also
borrowed from both is the notion that the evil being can move from body
to body but, in an added little touch from "Fallen" has only a small
amount of time to find a new host or die.
However, the ending of this particular story involves a nice little twist that both of its predecessors missed, an ending which will remain undisclosed here but makes this story still worth watching even if you've seen both its forebears.
It's not as bad as 1964's "False Hare" but other than that, there isn't
much good to say about this cartoon. Not only is it a ripo...er...spoof
of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers", but it's also a poorly disguised
clip show (meaning that no imagination was used in the making of this
cartoon). The opening of each sequence with Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam
and Daffy Duck are poorly re-drawn copies from previous cartoons. The
transportation segues between sequences are tedious at best, but better
described as just plain old boring. It was obviously written by
committee, even if that was only a committee of two. Ford & Lennon
couldn't storyboard their way out of a wet paper bag.
If this is the direction of post-Termite Terrace Bugs, Elmer, Sam and the rest, I'd be much happier to never have another Warner cartoon made.
The original CSI did an episode that ripped off...er...riffed on Alfred
Hitchcock's 1951 "Strangers On A Train", so it's only fair that the New
York version do likewise and stage their own version of another
Hitchcock classic, this time 1954's "Rear Window". On the one hand,
L.B. Jeffries, recuperating from a debilitating injury, stuck in his
apartment with nothing to do but watch the pageant of his neighbors'
everyday lives play out through his window while a cast of characters
drift in and out of his recovery room; on the other, Mac Taylor,
recuperating...well, you know. The TV cast is smaller than the movie
cast, so some of the roles need to be switched around, and, of course,
Hitchcock never imagined cell phones with cameras, but, hey, it's 2010.
As T.S. Eliot said, "Bad poets imitate; good poets steal."
There's a lot of good that can be said for this cartoon; the
backgrounds are rich, lushly colored and full of nicely done art deco
details. The animation is up to the usual studio standards of the time,
which are unquestionably higher than those of the present day. However,
I find it tedious for a number of reasons.
The Music: It's definitely not up to Scott Bradley's usual standards. Although it's probably supposed to be evocative of a "Great Gatsby" setting, it ends up being dreary, sleepy, repetitious AND monotonous (repetitious and monotonous are not the same, as Beethoven's 5th Symphony attests). Since most people (including me) tend to close their eyes when they yawn, there's a lot of the visual part of the cartoon that will be missed by the average viewer.
The Storyline: I'm not giving away any secrets that aren't already in the plot summary - country good, city bad. This is a common theme in films, both animated and live, from this era. It's a misplaced nostalgia for a nonexistent rural idyll, which, in the present day, is reflected in a similar nostalgia for "values" that never were.
Not only have I read all 16 of van Gulik's Judge Dee books, but also
his translation of "Dee Goong An", which was the Chinese literary
source for the Judge, and also a number of van Gulik's other works and
source materials (including a very tedious novel in a contemporary
setting). Khigh Dhiegh made an acceptable Judge, but I felt that Mako
as Tao Gan was a bad piece of casting - he played the character as too
fawning and not quite clever enough. Motai (Mo Mo-te in the book) was a
bit overplayed. Probably the best bit of casting was Keye Luke as the
arrogant Sun Ming.
On the other hand, it was refreshing to see and not a complete disappointment. I have a fairly decent tape I made from a rebroadcast of the movie in the mid-'80s with fairly good picture and sound quality.
The A&E Nero Wolfe series set a gold standard for faithfulness to sources that the '70s just weren't up to. I can only hope that someone will turn up to be for Robert H. van Gulik what Timothy Hutton was to Rex Stout.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This cartoon is noted as the first appearance of Porky Pig, but he
definitely wasn't the star. The setting is a school's student recital,
and he gives a painfully stuttered rendition of Longfellow's "The
Midnight Ride of Paul Revere", which abruptly mashes into Tennyson's
"Charge of the Light Brigade". It's not an auspicious start for Porky,
who gets booed off the stage. It's significant to note that Mel Blanc
did not start voicing him until two years later, in 1937's "Porky's
Duck Hunt", taking over from Joe Dougherty.
The stars turn out to be the twin pups Ham and Ex, who sing a creditable rendition of the title song and, in fact, end up with the only successful act of the recital. This is an example of Warner Brothers desperately in search of a strong character to put up against the likes of Mickey Mouse and Oswald Rabbit, and despite starring roles for members of the entire cast, only Porky showed enough staying power, even more so than Bugs Bunny, who didn't appear in his familiar form until 1940. (Versions of Bugs appeared as early as 1938, but are hardly recognizable as the same character. Porky maintained his basic personality, even though he starts out here as a child and becomes an adult in his next outing, Tex Avery's 1936 cartoon "Gold Diggers of '49", in which the rotund one offers to marry off his daughter to Beans.)
Jerry Beck's commentary for "I Haven't Got A Hat" is in volume 3 of the Looney Tunes Golden Collection DVD set.
This is not an abysmal show, though it doesn't take a whole lot of
motivation to get me to look for something else at 8:00 on Friday
evenings. I tend to agree with people on the message boards for this
show who are critical of the dialogue, writing and acting.
However, the same approach was done much better nearly ten years ago, in "The Burning Zone". That show had more drama, more tension, better suspense and less predictability. To add to the mix, there were hints of an overall hidden agenda a la "X-Files". Alas, since that show was good and it was on UPN, it only ran for one season. (A rule of thumb - if you have a bad show, pitch it to UPN and it'll get on the air; if you have a good show, pitch it to UPN and it'll be canceled after one season or less.) In any case, give Medical Investigation another season to settle in and it might mature into a show that can draw viewers from alternatives. If not, I don't give it a favorable prognosis.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This cartoon shows that Friz Freling was ahead of his time - a recycler before anybody know the word. Nearly every gag in this cartoon is recycled from other cartoons, such as Ballot Box Bunny (the bomb gag). Freling was seldom an innovator, though he was competent. I've never been able to tell whether his tendency to re-use gags in cartoons was economy or laziness. The tendency outlived his time at Warner's, with material returning even in his DePatie-Freling days. That feeling of deja vu you might have gotten watching a Pink Panther cartoon was very real. He also never seemed to have gotten himself out of the 1920's, but when this cartoon was made, he could still expect some of the audience to have actually seen a vaudeville-type show.
Episode #5.4 of _"The Twilight Zone" (1959)_(qv), "A Kind of Stop
Watch", has a storyline that is nearly identical to that of "The Girl,
the Gold Watch & Everything". The episode, however, aired in October of
1963, the year after publication of John D. McDonald's novel on which
the movie is based. Some people, obviously unaware of the novel,
considered the movie a ripoff of the episode, and a number of reviewers
who wrote unfavorably on this basis had to spend numerous inches of
column space apologizing.
One of the contributing factors to the misunderstanding is that the novel quickly went out of print, overshadowed by the author's "Travis McGee" detective series and other adventure novels. In 1980, the year the movie aired, three of his science fiction-oriented novels, "Wine of the Dreamers", "The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything" and "Ballroom of the Skies" were published in 1980 in an omnibus volume titled "Time and Tomorrow" by Doubleday and Science Fiction Book Club. This still, however, did not contribute significantly to clearing up the ripoff accusations because of the limited distribution through the book club.
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