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Pardon My Backfire (1953)
One of the funniest of the Shemp shorts!
"Pardon My Backfire," the second of the 3-D shorts the Stooges made, is one of the funniest Shemp shorts. It is incredibly violent, and the scene where the ignition wire goes into Larry's head is well incredible. There are also plenty of other violent scenes as well that play out well!
One interesting sight gag for me is that we see 1920s and early '30s cars in the garage, and it was filmed in 1953. While many people would not pay attention to this detail, I thought it added to the surrealism of this short.
And speaking of surrealism: Yeah, the 3-D effects may be cheesy as hell, but they add to the charm of this short! I always love watching this short!
Not bad ...
"Northpole" is not a bad Christmas special. It's not totally memorable, but it is definitely better than the 1994 version of "Miracle on 34th Street" and "Frosty Returns."
The story seems a little scattered, but as it progresses, we end up with a major plot twist which throws things for a loop. Fortunately, of course, things get straightened out.
The music is decent, and the location shoots in both Quebec, Canada and Portland, Maine are good. The cast is excellent--but with one exception. I don't consider Robert Wagner's casting as Santa Claus as the best. His voice alone detracts; it's like having Jonathan Hart with long white hair and a white beard. Never mind his negative press over what happened with his late wife, Natalie Wood; he does not seem to project warmth for the role. He might have been better off playing the role of the mayor or the developer.
And as for Jill St. John, it is her first acting role in 12 years, and she was there because of her husband. She pulls off her role much better than Mr. Wagner, since I could hear the age in her voice.
As said earlier, the rest of the cast is great and they carry the special. Very typical of so much of the Hallmark specials out there, and definitely worth a watch.
Summer Love (1958)
The casting carries this movie
"Summer Love" was a sequel to a 1956 movie, "Rock, Pretty Baby," carrying over many of the same cast members. Here, we have the same rock combo in a summer camp setting.
Filmed in summer 1957, and released the following spring, what sticks out for me is the interesting music--and the casting. We have older actors, such as Edward Platt and King Kong's Fay Wray. Rod McKuen makes an appearance here, and Shelly Fabares has an early role here.
The two people who really come to mind here are lead actor John Saxon, and Jill St. John, making her second big-screen appearance. This movie really began her movie career, one that lasted until 2002. One unusual aspect of her role here is that her voice seems lower in pitch than in most of her other movies. But it may be because she plays a teen femme fatale.
Too bad Turner Classic Movies has not aired this. It's not a world classic movie, but definitely worth a watch to see so many performers at an early stage in their career.
Mad Men: The Monolith (2014)
What goes around comes around ...
In this episode, we see Don Draper not coping with his new role at SCP, and after a bad episode with Bertram Cooper, hits the bottle. He ends up in a small bender, only to be rescued by Freddie Rumsen, who seven years before, had a drinking problem and was himself rescued by Don.
Additionally, Don must now contend with Peggy, who is overseeing his work on a new account. At the beginning of the series, she was Don's secretary, putting up with his lack of decency as a boss. Now, the tables have turned.
And we see Roger Sterling get a dose of reality when he has to deal with his daughter, who left her husband and son to go to a commune. She confronts him about his past treatment of her.
While many people are not with the series like they used to be, this final season has been much better than Season Five, and somewhat better than Six. And the season bears watching, because things are reaching their end. Of course, we will have to wait until 2015 to see how it all ends.
PS: We get acknowledgment that Pete Campbell is divorcing Trudy.
Mad Men: Time Zones (2014)
Getting set up for the finale
By now, many people have been turned off to this show. I admit I am not happy with how it often went, especially in Season 5; the following season was a better one.
Owing to the fact that I currently have no cable TV, I downloaded it through iTunes. And I admit the Season 7 opener is a great start to the home stretch of this series, when we may well see thing culminate, for better or worse.
Though it is clear Don has made some peace with his past, it is clear things are slipping away. He has to use Freddie Rumsen as a front to pitch his ad ideas. For Peggy, her career path is coming at a price that is taking its toll. And we see other changes in the main characters as well.
I can clearly tell we ARE being set up for something. What it is, no one knows as of now, but it should be an interesting ride.
The F.B.I.: The Hiding Place (1966)
FYI, this episode NEVER aired.
Who knows why? Maybe because so many performers were Asian? It was likely filmed in 1965, when Barbara Erskine was a factor in the series. But it never saw the light of day until the DVD release.
But it is a fascinating episode, and it is an episode in which we see non- stereotypical portrayals of Asian-Americans. It is NOT a deal in 2014, but in 1965-66 it was. And that is a very sorry statement. Humanity deserves better.
Anyway, this episode deserves a look, because it never aired, and because it is interesting to boot!
Bat Masterson: Double Showdown (1958)
Where it started
"Double Showdown" marked the beginning of the Bat Masterson series. It really set up the series, and its tone. The series was one of the more interesting Western series, because the hero wore a derby and used a cane.
Some critics have not been kind to the series because of the accuracy of the Bat Masterson portrayal. However, this episode addresses this. Toward the end of the episode, we see Gene Barry address the audience himself to explain what is going on with the episode, and compare biographers' accounts. Breaking that wall was a very interesting touch indeed!!!
Well worth a watch!
Family Guy: Life of Brian (2013)
Something was bound to happen
You don't run a series for 12 years and expect to maintain quality without making changes. Not that the changes may be for the better. And I can clearly tell SO MANY fans are irate about Brian's death.
However, Vinnie sounds like an interesting character from what I have seen of him, and he may yet lead the family into some more interesting, spicy adventures a la The Sopranos. We'll have to wait and see what happens here.
One thing I did not appreciate was the treatment of the Native Americans at the beginning of the episode. I thought it was lame and offensive, though that seems to be much of the show's premise.
Overall, I will not rate the episode, as I will see what unfolds.
Killing Kennedy (2013)
Flawed, but great acting and a good human story
I do not agree with the notion that Lee Harvey Oswald was some lone nut assassin who murdered John F. Kennedy. I side with those who believe there was a conspiracy.
That said, "Killing Kennedy" was a very interesting watch, in part because we get to see more of the side of Lee Harvey Oswald and his family life. One thing the movie deserves credit for is its showing of Oswald not as a monster, but as a flawed human being who has been scarred from bad breaks. His defection to the Soviet Union in 1959 seems more like that of a very young idealist who is looking for something to fill a void in his life than anything else. I have my own views on that event, but never mind.
I also liked how we not only saw his relationship with Marina, but also the parallels between the Oswalds and the Kennedys. Both have young families, and both have their own trials and tribulations.
And I can see also how stressed Oswald was with the constant surveillance. He was one of the countless casualties in the Cold War and the resultant FBI spying. Not that Oswald was a saint. Far from it. But it does offer some better understanding of things.
Overall, the acting is outstanding. The actor who played Lyndon Johnson did not have the right physicality, but he seemed to do what he needed to do, and I cannot complain. Overall, an interesting story despite the fact that I do not agree with Bill Maher here (or in other things).
Mad Men: In Care Of (2013)
Exit Don Draper, enter Dick Whitman?
This sign-off to Season 6 of Mad Men packs a wallop!
Pete Campbell's mother is lost at sea, and and Pete himself ends up leaving the agency for California after a terrible time in Detroit. Ted Chaough ends up as the agency member leaving for California, because of his yearning for Peggy Olson.
And Don Draper is facing the fact that he is Dick Whitman.
In a meeting with Hershey executives, he reveals his unsavory past to everyone, including the partners. This, plus all of his behavior during Season Six, results in his being deep-sixed by the partners, in a meeting led by Bertram Cooper, who knows Don all too well.
At the end of the episode, Don shows his children the run-down house he grew up in. Very powerful scene indeed. The acting is terrific, and this makes a great end to what for me has been a better season than Season Five.
Now here's onward to Season Seven!