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1970s Hairstyles in 1930?
I watched this again after not seeing it in almost 40 years. A good / enjoyable movie which served as the pilot for the Waltons TV series. With so many other Christmas/Holiday specials and stories now available this one seems very dated now. Veteren actress Patricia Neal does not get the majority of screen time. In fact the big names (which also include Cleavon Little and veteran character actor Ellen Corby) are not the main characters in most of the scenes. I remember watching this when in aired in 1974 (not the original airing which was 1971) and I couldn't believe I was hearing the now, younger Walton children using the words "poop" and "piss-ant" which still were quite taboo on TV in 1971, especially in a movie that was aimed at children and families. Today it's no big deal but I remember hearing Mary Ellen call her siblings "piss-ant" and thinking isn't that one of the 7 words George Carlin said you could never say on TV? Details aside, I found the whole premise of waiting for their daddy and worrying about him tended to make the movie drag on even though viewers are given a lot of info on why he might be late. Despite this the pace just built a lot of anxiety - we simply lost interest halfway through it. Also by this time we were familiar with the Walton family because of the now popular series and seeing Olivia and John Sr. portrayed by different (albiet well known and seasoned) actors was a big let down for us. Upon watching it again this year, I actually liked it but mostly due to the nostalgia and not because of the story, which is actually better than I remembered. The one aspect that I found a bit annoying was the hair on Ben, Jason and Jim Bob. It was so 1971. This movie, based on references made to President Hoover, supposedly takes place in the early 1930s and any young boy that had hair over his ears at that time would've been ostracized to say the least. Thirty years after the movie takes place, the Beatles became popular and people thought their hair (which at the time was shorter than that of said characters) was too long. But it is a made-for-TV movie so details are often ignored and it really doesn't add to or detract from the story. I just found it interesting. Anyway, it is not a 'sit down with the family and watch' movie by today's audience standards. Many of the people who would remember the times in which this movie takes place are now long gone and it will not connect well with parents and grandparents of today as it did in 1971. It is now good for serving as a nice memory to the baby boomers but not much beyond that.
John and Yoko: A Love Story (1985)
Pretty good effort but a reflection of the times in which it was made.
I remember hearing about this movie when it was in the planning stages and one news agency was reporting that Mark Lindsay Chapman was turned down for the part of John Lennon, as was Julian Lennon. I saw the last half of this when it originally aired in December 1985 and have wanted to see it again ever since. I purchased a copy on ebay in 2005 and have viewed it several times since. For a TV movie, I'd say it was better than average as far as acting and technical aspects are concerned, with the exception of the actors who played the other 3 Beatles which I felt fell into caricatures of Paul, George and Ringo with obvious fake mustaches, but other than that, overall pretty good. Mark McGann looked a lot like John Lennon but Kim Miroyi really does not look at all like Yoko Ono. I think this was a pretty objective portrayal as far as specific events and characters but overall, I think it falls into the same trap many Lennon tributes do and that is they leave the viewer with the impression that he was more 'saintly' than he really was. John Lennon was not a martyred saint but rather the victim of a random and tragic act of violence. John's ex-wife Cynthia has often stated "He's no saint, never was" but the way this movie raps up you could be left with that impression. Perhaps because it was made in the mid-80s, this movie portrays John Lennon as having changed into "Mr. Conservative" toward the end of his life. While he had matured and embraced and espoused family values, the portrayal of him with short hair and conservative dress toward the end of the movie may be a bit inaccurate. Lennon's untimely death was/is indeed a tragedy and overall this movie is pretty fair in its portrayal but the transformation at the end seems out of place. I still feel that watching it is time well spent.
Zero Hour! (1957)
It's an entirely different kind of movie... altogether!
I love the old disaster/horror B&W movies from the '50s and this one would certainly stand among the best if... not for 'Airplane!' I had the mis-fortune of seeing 'Airplane!' numerous times (yes I'm a big fan) before seeing this movie which is quite good on its own. The problem is, as other reviewers have stated, you can't help but be reminded of 'Airplane!' when viewing this picture now. Many of the same character names, the same basic theme - flight crew and passengers stricken with food poisoning and a passenger, who's best flying days were behind him, must heroically land this plane while an Ex-CO, whom he hates, talks him down. It's unfortunate that this film was intended as drama but any baby-boomer or next-genner who sees it will be laughing all the way through it (just as I was) because they can recite most of the dialog and pretty much predict the outcome. It was intended as drama but it has evolved into an entirely different kind of movie, altogether... Everyone: 'It has evolved into an entirely different kind of movie.'
The Thanksgiving Treasure (1973)
Check your pockets when you leave for home
I remember seeing this "Special" when it first aired in 1973. Some 30 plus years later I tried to recall what it was called but I could not. However, there were several things about it that stuck out in my mind: The main character was a little girl named "Addie", the father had a nemesis named "Mr. Rhenquist", the story took place in rural Nebraska, and there was a great scene where Addie filled her cousin's jacket pockets with mashed potatoes! With that information, I logged onto IMDb.com and did a search for characters named "Addie" and I found it. I also recalled that I had seen the same characters in another holiday special, and thanks to IMDb, I learned that one was "House Without a Christmas Tree." I found VHS copies of both on ebay. Watching this again 33 years later was very enjoyable and I really remembered what it was I liked about it. Unlike sappy shows like the Brady Bunch where everyone gets along and loves everyone, Addie is portrayed as a bossy, sometimes obnoxious, yet always lovable little girl. This seemed much more realistic, especially the tension between her and her younger cousin Henry. She gets him in the end though. Jason Robards does a fine job of playing the, often stern, widower father and Mildred Natwick provided the compassion Addie so needed but never seemed to get from her father. This movie was clearly geared toward children and it was the first special of that type that I recall seeing which used the words "hell" and "damn" (even said once by 10 year old Addie!) in it. In 1973, it seemed much more realistic than the sap that TV was offering at the time. In 2006, this movie now seems sappy too but enjoyable just the same. It has that atmosphere of the "cheap set CBS movies" that many TV movies had in the mid 70s. Much of the acting isn't that good and the sets are not that convincing either but the story still stands. The story is also told with much more humor than I remembered. There are a lot of laughs to be had while watching it. All in all a touching story but today, the settings and characters likely would not connect well with the 21st century audience. One of the reasons it was so popular in 1973 is because most baby boomers had relatives that still lived in small towns, and had parents that grew up on farms and therefore spent time in the rural Midwest - they could relate to the sets and characters. The MTV generation has no clue about any of this so it probably would not work well today. If you saw it in 1973, you'll likely enjoy it again today. If you were born post Watergate, you'll likely find the humor pleasant and the story poignant but it may be difficult to sit through as the sets, and overall atmosphere are very dated which makes it most suitable for nostalgia as opposed to pure entertainment.
It's About Time (1966)
It's About Sherwood Schwartz
I remember watching this show every Sunday evening during the 1966/67 TV season. I still remember the theme song as most who have seen it do. I recently bought the dubbed DVD set on ebay as I wanted just to see this show again. What amazed me the most after having not seen it in 40 years since it originally aired, is how much of it I remembered. I always remembered the characters - Heck, Mac, Gronk, Shad, Breer, Mlor, Boss and Clon. In fact, there is a fellow I encountered at work who is of French origin and his first name is Shadd. I could not help but remember this show every time I had connected with this person. Of course, when I mentioned the show to others, they just thought I was strange as no one else remembered it. As a result of watching this show I became very intrigued by cave men and did a lot of reading on the topic. At 6 years old, it did not occur to me that cave people likely did not speak in 20th century English as they did on this show. I recently viewed all 26 episodes and I was amazed by how many lines, scenes and characters I remembered from 40 years ago. The power of television! After viewing the show again it is so obviously Sherwood Schwartz. It is remarkable how much it parallels his other show Gilligan's Island which was in its third season run when this show was on. It's About Time used the same sets, the same background music, the same effects music and the exact same bumper music as Gilligan's Island. The character of Heck is clearly modeled after the character of Gilligan. Heck's speech, mannerisms and physical comedy are dead-ringers for Gilligan. Schwartz even used many of the same story lines and synopsis for this show that were used in episodes of Gilligan's Island - the belief that evil spirits turned a person into a monkey (actually, it was a chimpanzee), the women leaving the village because their work is not appreciated, primitive people's superstitions, a volcano threatens the village (same footage used!), the village holding an election, using modern technology to frighten primitive peoples etc. Seems the writers didn't have to work very hard on this one. I remember recognizing the space capsule in the episode of Gilligan where the cosmonauts land on the island, as being the same one used in this show. I also recall the dinosaur scenes which I thought were very realistic in 1966. Upon seeing them again, they're cheesy and contrived and clearly borrowed from low-budget movies. Even as a 6 year old, I knew that there was never a time when people and dinosaurs both inhabited the earth - the dinosaurs were gone before the first people appeared but I didn't care, I liked the show and watched every week. The thing I remembered most though, is when Heck and Mac brought Gronk, Shad, Breer and Mlor back to the 20th century! I remember Gronk clubbing a Volkswagon Beetle and Breer being laughed at in school (where all the kids were white, well groomed, hair combed and nicely dressed, ah the 1960s...) and picking up the pointer to use it as a spear. I also remember Gronk and Shad trying to get back to "Heck and Mac's cave" in a "car animal." All of this is on the DVD set and much the same as I remembered. I must admit, Sherwood Schwartz did have a knack for educating viewers. It was this show where I first heard, and learned the terms "Prehistoric", "20th Century", "Primative" and "BC" (in the days before politically correctness). For those who haven't seen it in a while, the copies currently being sold on ebay are not good quality but are definitely watchable. I can tell you, the show is typical Sherwood Schwartz so if you liked the Brady Bunch and Gilligan's Island (come on, admit it, I know many of you did), you'll definitely like this one. If you didn't then you likely won't. It is pretty much the same show as Gilligan's Island, just a different setting, but an interesting setting to be sure. I too remembered the term "Gnook" from that episode and still think of it when I see a small dog. Glad I got see this again. It's About Time is likely the only show to actually become one of the props used in the show; a time capsule. It is not only very Sherwood Schwartz, it's also very 1960s. All good fun in this reviewer's opinion.
Our World (1986)
For the next hour, think of your television set as a time machine
"For the next hour, think of your television set as a time machine." That was lead-off line on most episodes. I really enjoyed this history program. It was always an interesting look back. For someone who had gone through school in the 1970s, much of the history from the 1950s and later was not taught in our schools yet. It was on this show that I learned of Little Rock (1957), the Rosenbergs(1954), Francis Gary Powers and the infamous "U2 incident"(1960), the March on Washington (1963), Brown verses the Board of Education (1954), the great GM strike (1936/37), Jonas Salk, the McCarthy era, the "War of the Worlds" broadcast (1938), Gold Star mothers, the Tet Offensive, Levittown, Detroit race riots, Kent State and countless other events that have now become well known. When Billy Joel's song "We didn't start the fire" came out in 1989, I knew just about every event mentioned in that song, mainly because I had watched this show. The show would take a period in time and review the events/news of that period, for example, "Fall 1973" they reviewed the Tennis match between Billy Jean King and Bobby Riggs, the Yom Kippur war, the Saturday Night Massacre etc. all of which occurred during that period. The time periods featured ranged from 1936 - 1975 and it was amazing what they could pack into an hour. As the closing credits rolled, the hosts (Ray Gandolf and Linda Ellerbee) would rattle off the more obscure events that happened during that period and often tied them to modern day figures ("Also in 1952, Ronald Reagan married Nancy Davis..." etc). I wish there was a show like this on today. Unfortunately, ABC put this show on opposite The Cosby Show which was the most popular TV show on the air at the time so Our World had a hard time finding an audience. I watched, and taped Our World every week. I still enjoy watching the episodes and often watch them with my children when discussing their history lessons. It is sad that the term "Educational TV" has now become an oxi-moron. Shows such as this educated a lot of viewers. Thank you Linda and Ray! You did the job my history teachers did not do. Linda Ellerbee is still a prominent figure in TV, however, Ray Gandolf seems to have disappeared. Both did a fine job on this show. It truly is a forgotten jewel of the 1980s. Our World itself could now be a topic for a modern show looking back on 1986/87 - I wonder how many would remember it?
In Search of Noah's Ark (1976)
I have this on tape and I'm not sure why. I enjoy watching it but I don't believe it. I do find it amusing how several other reviews refer to it as "Christian" when the story of Noah predates Christianity by 2 thousand years or more and is included in the Jewish and Muslim teachings as well - shows what they know (or do not know)about the bible and theology. In any case, whether or not you are a believer, this movie is totally unconvincing. I do not understand how so many people could have climbed the mountain with the sole purpose of finding the ark, and yet not one photograph or piece of video of the ark, exists after all of these endeavors. Oh the movie claims a guy found it and drew maps but he died, a guy photographed it from a helicopter but he was murdered etc. but the most amusing story is that of two atheists that were led up by a Christian and saw it. They became so outraged they wanted to destroy it and kill the Christian! But... one asked the other "If we kill him how will we find our way back...?" so they spare this hapless person's life in exchange for his guidance and silence! Yea right! "How will we get back?" - let's see, you're up on a mountain... seems to me you head in a downward direction and you'll be "back" when you get to the bottom! The man finally breaks his silence on his deathbed. Right! I think Bill Cosby's story of Noah is more credible than this one. This movie could not convince even the most gullible viewer but for some reason I find it entertaining. Perhaps the absurdity of it amuses me, I don't know, it might be convincing if we were still living in 1976 when it was made but not today.
Apollo 11 (1996)
One enjoyable leap
I watched and taped this movie when the Family Channel originally ran it in 1996. They (the Family Channel) promoted it pretty heavily and had trivia questions during the commercial breaks. It was an event geared for family viewing, something the Family Channel has lost site of lately. I recently viewed my tape to see how I would react to it almost 10 years after its release. My opinion has not changed; It is an enjoyable movie but it is what one would expect from a made for TV movie. I don't think the makers of this film can deny that they were cashing in on the waves created in the wake of the successful Apollo 13 which was released the previous year (1995). There was some good information conveyed in the movie, however, it did borrow a number of snippets from Apollo 13 - the wrist watch being put on over the astronaut's space suit, the close up of the traction belt on the tractor moving the rocket to the launch pad (almost the exact same shots used in Apollo 13) and Gene Kranz stating "Work the problem..." The actor who played Gene Kranz seemed to be trying harder to be Ed Harris than Gene Kranz. I like the scenes that showed the astronauts at home with their wives/families before the flight. I felt they were done very well and added some good contrast to the goings-on at NASA. I also found one scene somewhat out of place - Micheal Collins makes a comment which alludes to receiving a T-shirt that says "My husband went to moon and all I got was a lousy..." I doubt that saying was around in 1969. Despite these factors, I would definitely recommend this film as it is well made and informative. It is also a great story about American triumph, something badly needed in a post-9/11 world. I will point out that I too agree - the song at the end is beautiful.
Pistols 'n' Petticoats (1966)
Henrietta could fire a gun with one hand milking a goat...
I'm surprised by how many others remember this show. I still remember most of the theme song "Here's the legend about the Hanks..." and I remember the line "Henrietta could fire a gun with one hand milkin' a goat, and hit a coyote on the run in Pistols'n'Petticoats." A very catchy tune to the theme song and I remember my father started whistling it after watching the show. To this day he still whistles that tune and I recently asked him if he remembered where it came from. He had no clue! The show itself was a comedy/western and full of laughs each week. I remember watching the news one evening, in an era when they seldom showed footage, and they showed a photo of Ann Sheridan in her Henrietta Hank garb. The announcer said she had died that day and mentioned she was currently starring as Henrietta in Pistols 'n' Petticoats. I remember tuning in the next time it aired and the opening credits still showed the footage of Ann Sheridan, as Henrietta, driving a buggy. I thought they had simply replaced her with a look alike. Unfortunately, after the season run, Ann Sheridan was irreplaceable and the show went off the air. The theme song is a very catchy tune and I'm surprised it was not released on its own. "Here's the Legend about the Hanks in Pistols'n'Petticoats. Henrietta could fire a gun with one hand milkin'a goat and hit a coyote on the run in Pistols'n'Petticoats. They say that grandma was the best at shootin' buttons off a rustlers vest, grandpa kept his gun in trim, nobody messed around with him." Others have commented that they'd like to see this on DVD - well it is. It was released a couple of years ago by Platinum Disc as part of their TV Classic Westerns series. You can get four episodes of Frontier Doctor and six of Pistols 'N' Petticoats on the DVD. Search on ebay under Pistols 'n' Peticoats, not Pistols and etc... and you'll find it. Great to see it again.
Not quite like I remembered
I remember seeing this movie the first time it aired in 1973. I actually watched it with my parents who did not like hippies at all yet they were quite moved by this story. I remember discussing it with friends at school and all the young girls commenting on how they cried at the end. Most of us made sure we saw it again when it was rebroadcast a few months later. The movie made such a splash that Cliff Deyoung actually performed "My Sweet Lady" on the Midnight Special around that time. When I learned of IMDb in the 90s, I was surfing around and happened upon a reference to this movie and recalled it and what it meant in 1973/74. For several years I tried finding it so I could see it again. I eventually found a copy on ebay and bought it. I watched it again in June 2005 and it just didn't hold up. It was not at all like I remembered. The story was not as moving as I remembered; the interaction between characters was not what I remembered. Seems Sam and Kate were always fighting, the harmony I thought I remembered wasn't there between them. As with many fond memories of another time, perhaps they're best left as memories. The recent viewing of this movie was quite a disappointment.