Reviews written by registered user
bradnfrank

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14 reviews in total 
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Space Center Houston, 19 July 2015
9/10

This short film was made for Space Center Houston, the visitor area of NASA's Johnson Space Center, in Clear Lake City, Texas, just outside of Houston. It was repeated every hour during opening times. It follows the lives of several astronaut candidates, from the moment they first receive the call that they've been accepted, through training, simulations, and on to their first actual space shuttle flight. It seems to be fairly authentic, although some scenes have obviously been staged (or re-enacted) for the film - but that doesn't detract from it's power. The various astronauts do all of the narration, so you get a very personal view.

I bought a VHS copy in the gift shop over 10 years ago, when the space shuttle program was still active, but I haven't been back to Space Center Houston since then. With the shuttle program canceled, the film is a little bit dated, so I wouldn't be surprised if they no longer show it. But it is still quite an enjoyable film.

4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Not bad, really., 1 March 2013
8/10

Most of the other reviews here rate this rather low, and say it's a poor example of film noir. Well I agree, it isn't great film noir. But it IS a very good mystery film. It's based on the novel "Stranger At Home" by George Sanders, which was actually ghost-written by acclaimed author Leigh Brackett. And the film is an amazingly faithful adaptation of the book.

The main character was probably written with Sanders in mind, but William Sylvester (best known for "2001: A Space Odyssey") is excellent in the role of the stranger who came home. This is not a must-see film, but definitely worth checking out if you have the opportunity.

Great performance by Jon Pertwee, 14 June 2008
5/10

A group of field researchers encounter a series of typical problems while surveying the Sahara desert -- snake bites, thieving natives, automobile break-downs, dehydration, sand storms. They lead a nomadic tribe to a fresh water-hole, cure one of its sick children, then teach them to plant seed and irrigate. All of this adds up to much less drama than it suggests, due to the documentary-like style of filming. There are no safari hunts or wild animal stampedes, and very little plot.

The best thing about this is Jon Pertwee, who had just finished playing the 3rd Doctor Who, as the grizzled safari guide whose experience saves the group from several predicaments. Filmed entirely on location in Africa.

11 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
NOT Buddy and Sally, 10 January 2007
1/10

Writer / Producer Morey Amsterdam attempts to spoof the spy film genre. The style is very similar to "Get Smart", but not nearly as well-written. Most of the jokes fall flat. The endless stream of cameos a la "Mad Mad World" is occasionally amusing, but not enough to save this film.

This was obviously made on the cheap -- most of the action is confined to a bookstore, and there are only about 3 other sets in the entire film.

Morey Amsterdam and Rose Marie were perfect sidekicks on The Dick Van Dyke Show. Their chemistry is one of the reasons that show is such a classic. Unfortunately, they can't carry a film on their own, at least not one as badly written as this. Even their one-liners, of which there are plenty, are pretty lame.

If you think this might be worth a look just for curiosity, especially if you're a Dick Van Dyke Show fan, then do yourself a favor -- skip it.

Brave New World (1980) (TV)
37 out of 39 people found the following review useful:
2 different versions, 19 September 2006
8/10

As others have said, this 1980 version of "Brave New World" is far superior to the 1998 version. But what nobody has mentioned, probably because they aren't even aware of it, is that the 1980 film exists in 2 different versions.

This was originally produced as a 2-part mini-series, running 4 hours (including commercials). But at the last minute, NBC chopped it down to fit into a 3-hour time slot. Allowing for commercials, this means that more than half an hour was removed. When it was later aired on the BBC in England, it ran in its original full length, 2-part form.

There are many collectors offering copies of this movie via the IMDb message boards, or eBay. Before buying, I suggest you ask which version they have. (I can personally recommend the copy offered by "deaks".)

3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
The REAL story, 10 February 2006
10/10

This video is based on the book of the same name, by the same authors, which is the most complete and accurate version ever told of the making of Star Trek. Herb Solow was the "Executive in Charge of Production" for Desilu during the 1960s, and Bob Justman was Gene Roddenberry's right-hand man. Gene made the big decisions, Herb approved them, and Bob was the one who actually got them done. The book is a nice companion to "The Making of Star Trek" by Stephen Whitfield and Gene Roddenberry (published in the 1960s), but it goes into much more detail. It's written as a series of dialog's between Bob and Herb. The video, hosted by Herb Solow, features interviews of dozens of people who were directly involved with the production of the original series. The book is essential reading, and the video is essential viewing for any true fan of the original Star Trek.

14 out of 37 people found the following review useful:
Cheaply made, but still quite good., 10 June 2005
7/10

Pendragon Pictures' new film "H G Wells' War of the Worlds", the first faithful adaptation of the original novel, has been in development for about 5 years. A theatrical release was intended for earlier this year (March, 2005) but this never happened. The DVD was rushed out to coincide with the release of Spielberg's version, which hits theatres June 29.

I liked this film, with certain reservations.

How faithful is the adaptation? It's not quite 100% faithful to Wells' book, but 90 - 95% faithful is good enough for me. At least several scenes were totally new, such as Ogilvy the astronomer's confrontation with a farmer, and the unnamed writer/narrator awkwardly having tea with his cousin. But on the whole, this film follows the book very closely -- certainly much more than the classic 1953 version by George Pal.

Its greatest fault is that it was obviously made on a very cheap budget. The majority of it seems to have been shot blue-screen and composited with digitally rendered backgrounds. This is particularly annoying during most of the interior shots, and scenes of crowded city streets. The overviews of 1898 London look like something from a video game. Numerous scenes in horse-carriages were faked -- I guess they couldn't afford to rent a horse. The only scenes shot for "real" seem to be those in open fields or forests.

But within those budget restrictions, they managed to do quite a lot. Artistically, the film looks right. The Martians and their tripods are quite well done, and very true to Wells' descriptions. I was particularly impressed with the heat ray. Although the Thunder Child sequence, which should have been one of the film's highlights, is very disappointing. It's a great shame that they couldn't afford more actual sets, or better quality animation.

The acting and direction won't win any Oscars. For the most part, they are competent, not bad, but not outstanding. The music is quite good also, though not on a par with any of the major Hollywood composers.

I'm actually glad this didn't get a theatrical release, because the budget limitation would have made it look much worse on a big screen. As it stands, I would rate this similarly to a BBC-TV adaptation of classic literature.

A few nitpicks: Most of the scenes are presented with various colored filters (mostly red). This may have been an artistic choice, but it is used very inconsistently, and seems more like a sloppy job of mastering the DVD. And the writer/narrator's obviously fake moustache mutates from scene to scene.

Bottom line -- Is it worth seeing? If you can look past the technical and budgetary limitations, and get into the story, I think you will enjoy this, especially if you've actually read the original H G Wells novel. If, however, you are easily put off by cheap production values, you'd best pass on this (unless you're a MST3K fan). Be warned, however that the film runs a full 3 hours, so I don't recommend watching it all in one sitting.

BTW: An entirely different version of War of the Worlds starring C. Thomas Howell came out on DVD the same month that Spielberg's hit the theatres: http://imdb.com/title/tt0449040/. This was also made on a budget, and is updated to the present day like the Spielberg film - but it's much better! And to top it off, Jeff Wayne is supposedly making a full-length animated film of his best-selling album from 1978, but it has yet to appear.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Hollywood dreams., 25 November 2004

I saw this short film on TCM's One-Reel Wonders.

This is the "true" story of aspiring actress Jane Barnes, and her hopes for the break that will make her famous. After working as an extra, she gets a contract at MGM, but only as a stand-in, which means that she's never actually seen on-screen. (We see her behind-the-scenes, standing in for Maureen O'Sullivan as "Jane" in an unidentified Tarzan film.) Finally, she's noticed by a casting director, and given her first speaking role. But she doesn't learn until the film's preview that her part has ended up on the cutting room floor. When her contract expires, she goes back to standard extra work. Fortunately, she's tracked down by a director who remembers her, and wants to star her in his next film. Will she make it big? We'll have to wait for the sequel - "Hollywood: The Second Step".

18 out of 20 people found the following review useful:
Hitchcock could have done it better., 12 June 2004

This is a reasonably faithful adaptation of the 1949 novel by Fredric Brown. Reasonably, that is, by 1950s Hollywood standards -- all of the essential story elements are there, although most of the subtleties of the novel are missing. For instance, Sweeney the reporter (Philip Carey) spends most of the novel in a constant hangover, having just come off a drunken binge; and the true relationship between Yolanda (Anita Eckberg) and Greene (Harry Townes), made explicit in the film's opening scenes, isn't revealed until the end of the novel. This is largely because the film presents the story in a straightforward, linear fashion, whereas in the novel, such vital information comes out gradually, via Sweeney's investigations. The film also, understandably, tones down the more lewd elements of the novel: Yolanda's strip-tease becomes merely an exotic dance.

I can't help wondering what Alfred Hitchcock would have done with this story. Hitchcock was certainly familiar with Brown's work -- four of his stories were adapted for the TV series ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS ("The Cream of the Jest", "The Night the World Ended", "The Dangerous People", and "Human Interest Story"). If Hitchcock had directed THE SCREAMING MIMI, it would surely have become a classic on a par with PSYCHO.

As others have commented here, I strongly recommend reading Fredric Brown's original novel. (I re-read it recently, just before seeing the film for the first time.) Brown was a very prolific writer of mystery and science fiction from the 40s through the 60s. (He died in 1972.) He was a master of the short-short story, and of the surprise twist ending. Though most of his works are currently out of print, they can easily be found on eBay or abe.com.

A footnote: The book NIGHTMARE IN DARKNESS, a limited edition of previously uncollected Fredric Brown stories, includes the original, unpublished ending of the novel, in which Sweeney is actually killed by the Ripper.

13 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
Dull film due to dull actor, 17 June 2003

As others have noted, this film is very dull. This is largely due to the extremely slow delivery of actor Gilbert Emery, who plays Sir Frederic Bruce of Scotland Yard. You can almost sense the impatience of the other actors whenever he's onscreen. If you're only curious about Charlie Chan, skip to the last 10 or 15 minutes.

According to THE FILMS OF BORIS KARLOFF, by Richard Bojarski, this was released in both sound and silent versions (a common practice during the early years of sound films). It would be interesting to see if the silent version, running at a faster film speed, is less dull.


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