Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Was this trip necessary?
The portrait of the socially awkward train spotter, trapped in a boring office job is ultimately a strange and pointless one. He is incredibly, white-hot consumed by minutiae of all things railway, down to ridiculous bits like memorising way out-of-date schedules and the sequence of long gone engineer's signals. When he sets out to see and ride the last train to pass through an outmoded tunnel, there are people that are as deeply obsessed as he is, yet people from outside their passion, especially family members, are repulsed by them. They in turn are quite willfully ignoring them at all costs. They are a nasty lot as well. So who are we supposed to take sides with, and how are we supposed to regard them? Pity? Condemnation? They stay in their decaying little bubble, so do we dislike them for not participating in our, fabulous, non trainspotting world, or see it as a desperate bunch, turned weird by our awful non-trainspotting world? In the end, we just don't care.
The idea behind this must have been the simpler the better, so it's a crossword puzzle. But it's a badly done one. Fenneman is not a clever ad libber. He could have had Groucho write all his dialogue and it wouldn't work; he doesn't have the quality,-let's call it charm-to pull it off. Tippi is pretty nondescript, and Lynde is utterly wasted, with nothing much to say about anything. The show is filmed, and it really should have been videotaped. It's happening in a huge theatre, with a large audience. It's very dark, with the game console and screen looking very small on a big stage in long shots. It's also very dark, not the right atmosphere for lighthearted fare like a game show. The spotlights are aimed directly on the participants, and every sag and wrink on Fenneman's face shows, making it appear he's aged a lot since we last saw him on You Bet Your Life. Overall, a listless effort. This pilot only lasts fifteen minutes, perhaps indicating they knew a potential sponsor might be possibly sold after it, but after a full half hour would be firmly sold against it. By WesternOne
The Plot Thickens (1963)
Groucho hijacks pilot.
The real problem with this unsold pilot is not so much it's premise, but it's got a personality problem. It might be a bit flat, but it might work well enough except for Groucho's appearance on the panel.
I state here that I'm a longtime fan of Mr. Marx, but he is too much for this program's brittle format.
The tepid little murder mystery had a chance, but only if one takes it seriously, made even harder when the performers who acted in the film musts sustain their persona's with enough intensity to answer unscripted questions AS the fairly cipherous characters assigned to them.It requires focused attention and concentration to work.
Groucho takes nothing seriously. He asks fresh questions of the girl, talks about the prize money, imagines himself in some plot elements, etc. And more or less tells everyone how silly and undeserving of your attention it all is. and so he utterly torpedoes the show.
You will hate Marty Feldman from here on..
BBC's "Wednesday Play" series will always be one of the most harrowing experiences television offered in the twentieth century. This presentation is no exception.
Marty Feldman was always billed as a comedian, though I always felt the only bit of talent he had was his distictively creepy, insect-eyed appearance. Here he excersises his darker side, by playing an insane sadist, mounting a frightening verbal assault, then a deadly threat with a gun, on a helpless, innocent stranger he's locked into railway coach with. He spews angry rubbish about what a righteous victim of class inequality as he tortures his apparently decently middle class prey.
In the second section he breaks into a home a poor scared woman who's mentally imballanced herself. The tables are turned around in time when they both find they have been in mad houses at one time, and she tries scaring and controlling him.
In a non sequitur ending, he flees the house, and meets his double or twin in the back of an auto with two total strangers in it. If you're contemptuous of your audience enough to force this hour of misery on them, why not have a pointless conclusion. Just so it ends! One is very hard pressed to have a pleasurable go of it with this series, always some heavy-handed liberal effort to make it's suffering audience "think", or something. This might have been their concept of a "comedy". Nasty stuff.
Horace Mann's Miracle (1953)
Serling at his weakest.
This episode of "Hallmark Hall of Fame" would seem a prime example of what Rod Serling used to complain about when he discussed hack-job script writing for television, yet he wrote this little bore. It has a very straight, flat story; problem: college has no money. Offered solution: compromise high standards or go belly up. Main protagonist too noble to do such a thing. Resolve: his goodness is rewarded with tons of free money from unexpected source. Happy ending. No twists or turns or curve balls to give it any fire at all. The actors' lines are pretty cliché, and the acting itself has a stock "great man at momentous time" gravity that I'd expect in an ancient B-picture. It's almost a parody. The odd thing is that Serling actually went to Antioch, the school being celebrated in this story.
Great but flawed.
This is truly one of the gems of Television, and has always been regarded as such. However, it would seem to me that we're coming upon a generation when the subtleties of acting and stylistically composed prose are too slow and complicated to invest any interest in such a literate venture into what might be called explosion-free fantasy. Indeed, the small town, carefree American boyhood of the twentieth century itself is fast becoming something only possible in the realm of fantasy.
There are a few flaws in this film, though the story proceeds so smoothly the first or second time you see it you don't notice them. The first is that after he has found that his younger self and parents, presumably now passed away, alive and living in their old house, he walks down the street to find a 1934 car that is brand new; only then does he realize he's gone back in time. Wouldn't it have made more sense if he saw the car first? The other problem is that everyone is wearing 1959 clothes, which destroys any illusion that it's 1934. I suppose if they were dressed accurately the surprise would not build, but maybe they weren't conscious of the wardrobe at the time.
The George Burns Show (1960)
This special came out when George Burns was trying to establish himself as a single act, after Gracie retired in 1958. He's using Jack Benny as his new partner, with George coming off like an overwhelmed follower, and Jack seems unusually aggressive. Their material is really weak, too. Talking about Jack's poor violin playing seems really tired; all he has to do is mention it and not play, and they're trying to build up a similar trope about George's unbearable singing. Their whole script is practically hung on these hooks.
Polly's performance is quite usual,.... she was never better than a mediocre thrush at best, and this performance is typical of her flat style. As for Miss Grable and Mr. Darren, their time in the spotlight seems bored and just going through the motions, especially Darren's. He's pretending a big voice, bring-down-the-house belt out of "Bill Bailey", but there's no heart in it.
It's an uninspired, cut-by-the-yard generic entertainment product.
Studio One: An Almanac of Liberty (1954)
Self -Righteous political morality play.
This apparently quickly put together one-act play may be rightfully forgotten today but it seemed to be shooting for the same level of easy heroism as "The Crucible". Supposedly it was "inspired" by a book by W.O. Douglas, and Charles Collingwood, one of Murrow's cronies, introduces it to bestow some sort of importance.
It shows how liberals viewed most of fly-over country America was like, even if all we see are the town hall and the people; it's an old, timeworn building with an archaic telephone. The people are unimaginative and dull, easily lead by hotheads who get their way because they have money. They scare easily, and can't make sense of the pure, fair, gentle figure of the stranger who hasn't lifted a finger against those that gave him a punch-out in the prologue.
The antsy town leader rails on about how intolerable someone like him, who doesn't agree with everything he thinks, is Un-American. But as in most straw-man agitprop, precisely what the offending argument was is not stated, just like the words "communist" or "Russia" weren't used. "That Country" is good enough. Only "Americanism" is said, and that's supposed to sound like a curse.
The whole lot of these unwashed middle Americans are hypocrites, as we find there hasn't been a town hall meeting in thirty years! That there having this one on this day- miraculously, constitution day- is because of the weird hand of a mysterious unseen supernatural power. Time itself stops until they see the error of their ways. When they do, the rain stops, time re-starts, and the stranger vanishes! The implication is what? That the almighty staged this little re-education class and the stranger was his son? Is that the side God picked? Leftist propaganda is not noted for it's light touch.
The anti-hero of this story, Danny, is a smiling, low IQ young man designed to pull sympathy. He's tricked (rather incredibly) into attacking a warder in the prison he's serving in. The attack becomes a murder, but since it was intended only to hurt or maim, we're asked to take that as less deserving of a murder's proscribed punishment.That he's not too bright is supposed to mitigate things. We're shown one of his follow prisoners on death row who's obviously quite mad.Maybe Danny is innocent by way of insanity? On the day of his sentence, guards ambush him in his cell to violently bind him up to take him to the gallows-then we cut to quotations from official papers describing just how terrible hangings can be.
Danny is a pretty obvious straw man- based on Timothy Evans, the illiterate falsely convicted and hanged murderer in 1950. We are never supposed to consider or sympathise with a murder victim. Is it any less horrific to have one's head opened with an iron pipe than to have a rope stretch one's neck? This sort of clouding the issue paid off, as really "3 Clear Sundays" is a post-mortem on the death penalty, this transmission coming eight months after the last hanging in Britain.
Hickey & Boggs (1972)
Culp and Cosby go flat.
It would seem that this film would be banking on residual affection for the action spy series of the sixties, "I SPY", where Culp and Cosby played bright, funny pals that joked and wisecracked their way through the cloak-and-dagger adventures. But here, they make no attempt to revive that devil-may-care camaraderie, and apparently thinking they needed to be taken seriously as action stars, play nothing for laughs. They don't kid around at all, in fact they never even smile or get emotional one way or another. They're sullen and tired and cynical with none of the chemistry that worked so well before.It's not like they're hostile to each other, more like indifference, like somebody you work with, but never have any personal stake in. Maybe they thought these characters would be more realistic, but the fantastic situations are not. Several times big exploding catastrophes take place in what should be very public places, yet no one's around. The plot is convoluted and unexciting. Ifyou went in because you liked Cup and Cosby, you'll be disappointed in this downer.