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schappe1

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The Racket (1951)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
The Racket and Horizons West, 25 November 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

These two Robert Ryan movies form the early 50's would make a great double-feature. Both are good movies full of faces that would become familiar on television in the coming years.

A comparison of the two movies is also interesting The Racket was done for Howard Hughes' RKO studio. Horizons West was a Universal picture. Both had famous directors, John Cromwell, (supplemented by several others, including Nicholas Ray) and Bud Boetticher. The Rackett is a re-working of a successful play and movie from the 1920's with a screenplay by WR Burnett, (High Sierra among others). Horizons West is done by Louis Stevens, a veteran writer of movie westerns, (this appears to be his best work).

Ryan is the main "bad guy" in both movies but in each case, he's much more complex than that. His Nick Scanlon in The racket is violent and intimidating, almost reptilian. He's fully formed as a heavy from the moment we meet him. But we find out he either grew up with or went to school with Robert Mitchum's police Captain: in the grand tradition, they came from the same background but went in different directions. We also learn that Ryan sent his now troublesome younger brother to college to keep him out of the rackets. He clearly doesn't think much of the crooked politicians and new "corporate" crooks that are running things. And in the end, his revenge is to "tell the voters to vote for the honest politicians". Underneath the violence, he has a certain integrity. Something- we never learn what turned him against society while Mitchum remained well-adjusted and on the right side of the law.

In Horzions West, Ryan starts out being a good guy, or at least not a bad guy yet. He comes home from the Civil War with his brother, (Rock Hudson), and a loyal friend named "Tiny", (James Arness). As they arrive in Texas, they have a conversation about the future. Arness wants to raise his family. Hudson wants to work the family ranch, just like before. Ryan shows a harder edge. He wants to make it big. They arrive in town, (Austin) to see that Yankees carpetbaggers have made it big. Ryan ties to associate with them but gets on the wrong side of Burr in poker game and is on the outside looking in. He organizes a band of out-of-work soldiers and deserters into a cattle rustling operation and establishes connections with a Mexican military officer who is running a crooked operation across the border. Eventually he gets even with Burr, who is killed. And has an affair with Burr's pretty young wife, (Julie Adams). In the beginning our sympathy is with him but as he grows more and more powerful, he becomes more ambitious and ruthless, which makes him too many enemies and causes his eventual downfall.

In Horizons West, Hudson becomes the town sheriff and has to take on his brother, thus paralleling the Ryan-Mitchum relationship in The Racket. In that film, Ryan killed a policeman played by William Tallman, who became famous as Hamilton Burgers on Perry mason. In Horizons West, he kills Hudson's deputy, who is played by Jim Arness, soon to be famous as Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke. William Conrad, radio's Matt Dillon, appears as a corrupt policeman in The Racket. That film has two actors from Perry mason, the other being Ray Collins, who played Lt. Tragg. Horizon's West has two actors form Gunsmoke, with Dennis Weaver playing a very un-Chester-like gunman. Both films have a heavy dose of corrupt public officials. Both of them have a major movie star to face off against Ryan, although Rock Hudson was early in his career and never became the dramatic force Mitchum was. But Ryan dominates every scene he's in, no matter who is in it with him.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
The Racket and Horizons West, 25 November 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Both are films made by Robert Ryan in the early 50's and they would make a terrific double feature.

A comparison of the two movies is also interesting The Racket was done for Howard Hughes' RKO studio. Horizons West was a Universal picture. Both had famous directors, John Cromwell, (supplemented by several others, including Nicholas Ray) and Bud Boetticher. The Rackett is a re-working of a successful play and movie from the 1920's with a screenplay by WR Burnett, (High Sierra among others). Horizons West is done by Louis Stevens, a veteran writer of movie westerns, (this appears to be his best work).

Ryan is the main "bad guy" in both movies but in each case, he's much more complex than that. His Nick Scanlon in The racket is violent and intimidating, almost reptilian. He's fully formed as a heavy from the moment we meet him. But we find out he either grew up with or went to school with Robert Mitchum's police Captain: in the grand tradition, they came from the same background but went in different directions. We also learn that Ryan sent his now troublesome younger brother to college to keep him out of the rackets. He clearly doesn't think much of the crooked politicians and new "corporate" crooks that are running things. And in the end, his revenge is to "tell the voters to vote for the honest politicians". Underneath the violence, he has a certain integrity. Something- we never learn what turned him against society while Mitchum remained well-adjusted and on the right side of the law.

In Horzions West, Ryan starts out being a good guy, or at least not a bad guy yet. He comes home from the Civil War with his brother, (Rock Hudson), and a loyal friend named "Tiny", (James Arness). As they arrive in Texas, they have a conversation about the future. Arness wants to raise his family. Hudson wants to work the family ranch, just like before. Ryan shows a harder edge. He wants to make it big. They arrive in town, (Austin) to see that Yankees carpetbaggers have made it big. Ryan ties to associate with them but gets on the wrong side of Burr in poker game and is on the outside looking in. He organizes a band of out-of-work soldiers and deserters into a cattle rustling operation and establishes connections with a Mexican military officer who is running a crooked operation across the border. Eventually he gets even with Burr, who is killed. And has an affair with Burr's pretty young wife, (Julie Adams). In the beginning our sympathy is with him but as he grows more and more powerful, he becomes more ambitious and ruthless, which makes him too many enemies and causes his eventual downfall.

In Horizons West, Hudson becomes the town sheriff and has to take on his brother, thus paralleling the Ryan-Mitchum relationship in The Racket. In that film, Ryan killed a policeman played by William Tallman, who became famous as Hamilton Burgers on Perry mason. In Horizons West, he kills Hudson's deputy, who is played by Jim Arness, soon to be famous as Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke. William Conrad, radio's Matt Dillon, appears as a corrupt policeman in The Racket. That film has two actors from Perry mason, the other being Ray Collins, who played Lt. Tragg. Horizon's West has two actors form Gunsmoke, with Dennis Weaver playing a very un-Chester-like gunman. Both films have a heavy dose of corrupt public officials. Both of them have a major movie star to face off against Ryan, although Rock Hudson was early in his career and never became the dramatic force Mitchum was. But Ryan dominates every scene he's in, no matter who is in it with him.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Money can't buy everything, 12 October 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A very young Richard Jordan is hot-rodding with a couple of friends when a group of hunters step out onto an otherwise deserted road. Three people are killed and Jordan goes on trial. His father, (Harold J. Stone), is a highly successful businessman who has always done whatever is necessary to ensure his won success. He hires the Prestons to defend his son, then offers to back the DA in a run for Congress and finally bribes a juror.

Lawrence has to figure out what to do. The first trial was a hung jury due to the bribed juror. if he reports what he knows, the second trial would be conducted in a hyper-charged atmosphere in which the jury would resent the defendant's status as a rich kid whose father tries to buy his freedom. If he doesn't report it, he could be up for discipline before the bar. Kenneth urges his father to look out for himself but Lawrence feels his ultimate responsibility is to his client.

Meanwhile Jordan is getting sick of being a rich kid and having his father pull all the strings in his life. Another good "What would you do" episode that leaves you thinking, which is what this series is famous for.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A not-so-bad seed, 11 October 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A man is killed and his 9 year old daughter shockingly accuses her grandfather of the crime, saying she saw what happened. The old guy, a former Vaudeville comic with a a joke or story for everyone, seems like the nicest guy in the world. Even his daughter, (now a widow) can't believe it. But circumstantial evidence piles up: Grampa and Daddy were arguing about his living with the family. Daddy was killed by being bludgeoned with a trophy grandpa once won. And the people Grandpa says will give him an alibi, (some other Vaudvillians at a place they hang out, can't vouch for his being there at the time of the crime.

Lawrence Preston has to try to break down the girl's story in court, which makes him seem like a cruel guy but it would be more cruel to let his client be found guilty and possibly executed if her story is wrong.

He succeeds in demonstrating the girl made her story up through a clever procedure. The judge and prosecutor let her off without prosecuting her for perjury. Grandpa forgives her and all is well. One question remains unanswered or even addressed: who did kill Daddy?

The most memorable thing is a splendid performance by young Leslye Hunter as the girl. it's so good she's kind of creepy like the child in "The Bad Seed". Maybe she did it? But we never find out, due to the 'happy' ending.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Oh pardon me thou bleeding piece of earth, 10 October 2016

This is one of those episodes that made this show famous. They take on abortion, which was illegal at the time except where the mother's life was in danger. It's surprisingly sympathetic for the time toward the abortionist and his 'victims'. (Compare this episode to Detective Story 1951). Robert F. Simon, who normally plays garrulous types, is a gentle, idealistic surgeon motivated by the death of his own daughter, whose epitaph is in my title. We are also provided with some amazing statistics: in 1962, (when this was shown), per a witness, 1 in 10 unmarried women were becoming pregnant. There were 6000,000 unmarried pregnant women each year and 9 of 10 got illegal abortions! 175,000 such abortions were done on teenagers.The show makes a strong case that these women would be better off having legal abortions with good doctors in the best of circumstances.

Simon's character makes two claims I disagreed with, one of which I had never heard before. he alleges that the life of an aborted child would be inevitably so unpleasant that it would not be worth living, (so it's OK- even good- that they aren't born), and that it's crueler to have women give birth and then give their babies up for adoption than it to abort them so that they never see the baby to begin with. Maybe it is but there's a lot of assumptions there.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
"The Rack" revisited, 10 October 2016

Paul Newman first became a star when he played Rockey Graziano in Somebody Up there Likes Me in 1956 but he solidified his status with his next film that year, The Rack, playing a Korean War veteran who cracked under psychological torture by the Communists. This episode of the Defenders may have been partially inspired by that.

It's another Kangaroo Court story as Lawrence Preston is called to a hotel room by a group of veterans to offer legal advice on creating a veteran's organization. Their real purpose is to assist them in putting one of their members on trial to see who cracked and told the Commies where the partisan group they were delivering supplies to would meet them. Preston reluctantly agrees to help when the accused says he wants to go through with it to clear himself. This produces a strange scene where the man at first tries to escape and then announces his desire to be tried in the next breath. It's not a very convincing set up but the resulting drama is very good, with a couple of good twists at the end.

The underlying theme is that all men have their limits and how can we judge them when we don't know our own? As usual, there's a cast full of familiar faces, with Lee Philips, (the movie version of Peyton Place), Robert Weber, (another alumni of the movie version of Twelve Angry Men), H. M. Wynant, Woodrow Parfey, Michael Conrad, (much later of "Hill Street Blues"), and, in a brief turn as a waiter, a very young Gene Wilder, RIP.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
The not so blue angel, 7 October 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A college professor has become infatuated with an ecdayist and, in a drunken stupor has signed a paper prepared by her manipulative mother leaving her his estate, which had been promised for a scholarship fund for his university. the man tries to stagger home but fell in front of a subway train and the young stripper is suddenly worth $185,000. The school hires the Prestons to make a case against the new will.

Both Prestons are initially in contempt of the stripper and her mother, viewing them as gold-diggers. They are right about the mother but not about the daughter, a sensitive, intellectually curious young woman who was forced into her sleazy profession by her avaricious mother and who was legitimately in like with the professor and perhaps more than that because he introduced her to a new world and other possibilities.

Ken falls for the young woman while his father remains contemptuous- until the climatic hearing when she rebels against her mother.

Don't let the door hit you on the way out, 6 October 2016

In an effective opening, Arthur Hill, (we only hear his voice in this scene: it's subjective camera), is told my his doctor that he's got 6 months to live. He marches out of the doctor's office, into the street. he contemplates suicide by stepping in front of a car but thinks better of it. Instead he goes to the office of his business, a partnership. he tells his partner what his prognosis is and asks him to agree to pay his family $500/mth after he dies. the partner refuses and Hill strangles him in a cold rage. it was Hill who created and built up the business and then brought this man on as a partner, who will now own the whole thing. His fortunate partner won't even lift a finger to help the founder's family and now he can't lift a finger to do anything.

the prosecutor, (J. D. Cannon) wants to skip the trial and just let the guy die in jail without putting him through it. What Hill doesn't know is that there's a law that he can't profit from committing a crime: his family can't inherit the business, (the partner had no family). Ken Preston takes up his case and tries to prove him innocent, claiming he didn't know what he was doing and is not responsible for his own actions.

A decade alter, Arthur Hill was playing a lawyer himself on Owen Marshall. In October, 1962, Arthur Hill really made his name when he created the role of George in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" on Broadway.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Star chamber, 6 October 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Prestons are visiting a school to give the head of it an award for his creation of a student government that has given local youths a greater sense of responsibility. it's worked to the extent that they blunder into a court hearing set up in the gym to try one of their members for murder.A well-liked janitor was murdered a couple of nights before and the student was seen sneaking into the guys' apartment and later found in possession of a "zip" gun and a cross the old man had insisted was worth $500 because it was covered in gold.

the accused is played by a young Martin Sheen, making his second appearance on the show. the prosecutor is an equally young Ken Kershival of "Dallas. The judge is a young Barry Primus, who has been seen in many shows. A witness is played by an even younger Luke Halpin, later the older boy on Flipper. That, of course, is one the joys of the series- seeing actors who later became famous in their earliest roles. it's also a strong drama, with Lawrence and Kenneth Preston eventually taking over and showing the boys that, while their intentions are good, they are not yet ready to make such judgments.

Particularly effective is the opening sequence, which shows the students silently taking over the gym and setting things up for something but we don't know what - until Sheen realizes that these people intend to kill him.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
One of the episodes that made this show famous, 5 October 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This show made it's name by taking on controversial topics, although most of their episodes don't really fall in that category. For years the only peek we had of the show were pixel-challenged clips of this episode on You-Tube, (they seem to have disappeared but now there is the DVD).

The Prestons are asked to defend a neo-Nazi student who was making a speech on campus and a young man who started heckling him gets badly beaten up by the youthful Fuhrer's followers. The DA wants the boss and offers a deal to the guys who actually did the roughing up to be witnesses against their leader. The DA admits to Preston that his contempt for the leader, (Ben Piazza) has impacted his judgment on how to handle the case.

The Prestons themselves are being pressured by other clients to drop the case and Ken wonders why they are doing it. It all results in a dramatic hearing in the victim's hospital room where Lawrence demonstrates, even to the victim, that the speech in and of itself, was not the cause of his injuries and that to send the speaker to prison would be wrong, regardless of what he was saying. if we bend the law to lash out at those we disagree with, we are descending to their level.

The subject is right-wing extremism but it can easily be seen as an indictment of the reaction to left-wing extremism that was seen in the previous decade. The issues would be the same. Lawrence Preston achieves a victory of sorts when Piazza admits he's not sure of what to think about what has transpired and even thanks the court for being fair to him. maybe there is hope.


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