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Dragnet 1967: Frauds: DR-28 (1969)
Fraud with vintage computers
The title of this Dragnet episode tells you there will be fraud involved - so there is no surprise in what kind of crime Officer Gannon and Sergeant Friday will be dealing with.
What might be interesting to present-day viewers is at the beginning of the episode, when the person suspicious of the crime gives Gannon and Friday a simple explanation of how computers of thirty years ago received and sorted information, with insight into what weak points in the system might have allowed the fraud to be perpetrated.
As always, vaguely familiar guest stars appear in minor roles, Bill Gannon looks mighty skeptical of those new-fangled inventions and Joe Friday has a chance to insert dry humor.
Silk Stockings (1957)
Silk Stockings DVD has some fun extras
As "Silk Stockings" reaches the half-century mark, it is now so dated that it can be enjoyed either as a period piece, as a look at popular attitudes toward the Cold War, as a rather silly but enjoyable setting for the odd couple of Cyd Charisse and Fred Astaire, or as a chance to see character actors like Jules Munchin and Peter Lorre. You know it's an old movie when Technicolor and stereophonic sound are being touted as the new big things!
Whether you like the main movie or not, the DVD extras have their own charm. The Special Features section includes a short film with Cyd Charisse as narrator, made about 2003, in which she talks about Cole Porter, Fred Astaire, and how the film came to be. Another short b/w film from the thirties is called "Paree, Paree". This one stars a very young Bob Hope, and features Cole Porter songs from the musical "20 Million Frenchmen".
Another musical treat is the "Poet and Peasant Overture", written by Franz von Suppe, played by the full studio orchestra. Both the 'Paree' film and this overture will tease you with musical strains familiar to those of us who grew up with old cartoons, so be warned! Listening to this music may induce animation flashback.
The Pied Piper of Hamelin (1957)
A Childhood Memory for Me, Too
The DVD of this movie appeared in a bin for $1 at a one of the chain stores, and as soon as I saw the photo of Van Johnson in that incredible hat, I had to buy it.
My mom had a big crush on Van Johnson so any appearance of his was a must see event - when it was first shown we kids were all gathered around the black & white TV. (Although the show was made in color, we didn't see it that way until later reruns. No one I knew had color television before the mid-sixties.)Certain scenes didn't look too familiar, but others produced a slight chill, reminding me of how spooky those knights on the clock seemed to a kid. (Maybe that's why the medieval clock at Frankenmuth, Michigan was disturbing to me as an adult tourist??) The colors on this particular DVD were bright but not really garish. As a 9 year-old, I was given a copy of the Robert Browning poem with Kate Greenaway illustrations. The original story was a lot simpler, and darker, with no Hollywood ending.
The behavior of the town's government is startlingly relevant for today's world, as the politicians sing about 'Prestige', unfurl long documents full of legal phrases in an attempt to cheat the Piper, show their willingness to accept credit for someone else's work, and refuse to help the neighboring town which has been swept away in a flood. The other town's children are scattered and hungry, but the Mayor and council send a sympathy note on fine vellum instead of food or help.
I don't know if a child of today would sit through the songs, but for the sum of one dollar, you can play it for a child you know and observe their reaction!
Thirty years old but still relevant
Maybe this movie was our rental choice because Anne Bancroft had just died, and "Prisoner" is now on DVD - I'm not sure why we took it, but I'm glad we did! It is definitely comedy toward the dark side, and the mechanisms of life have changed, but the human element is stronger than the 1970's decor and you feel like you know these people. Maybe you don't want to live next to them, but you know them. It's not that dated - aren't we still discussing the prevalence of crime, gay rights, organic food and the effect of talk radio? Anne Bancroft was totally wonderful, it was fun to see Gene Saks - never a big star, but a wonderful actor, and Jack Lemmon was Jack Lemmon, which was perfect.
Great Performances: Operatunity (2004)
Mild spoilers -Series in compact form for American audiences
PBS has been showing a shortened, just under two-hour special version of this series, where you get to meet a group of people who have the dream of singing opera, but have not had the opportunity. They are put through intensive auditions and training, and at the end, someone gets to star in a real opera performance.
It was shown on many PBS stations on Thursday, June 23, 2005. The show had just started when I turned on the TV to put in a movie DVD, but 60 seconds of this compelling program was enough to convince my husband & me to watch this one first.
The most ordinary looking people have the most extraordinary voices and ambitions and backgrounds. You learn their life stories, hear some wonderful singing, and wish every one could win the chance to sing; the judges had a terrible time deciding! After you see the show- Google the names of the winners and you can see what has happened to them in the two-year interval since the original series was broadcast in England.
Man of the House (2005)
Tommy Lee Jones - a treat for the Mature Woman!
Ridiculous premise? Absolutely.
Predictable plot line? Unfortunately.
But I'll tell you what, when I saw this movie, the solidly-packed audience found it quite hilarious, and so did I. Of course, the Austin setting was a plus for me, and it was the first movie filmed around UT that was allowed to use the name and logos. It was fun to see local landmarks including Buffalo Billiards, Threadgill's, the campus and the Governor's mansion, but how could Tommy Lee Jones go to Threadgill's and leave without eating one deep-fried dill pickle??
I made a unofficial poll of the women that I know who are over 40 years of age, and every single one said , " I LOVE Tommy Lee Jones!" If that is part of his demographic, this movie should do really well, with TLJ delivering zingers in that cowboy voice, admitting to his 55+ years, and keeping his smiles for the womanly Anne Archer while wrangling the herd of young cheerleaders.
The supporting cast was also fun to watch - just remember this is not a film - it's a MOVIE!
If You Could Only Cook (1935)
Charming B&W comedy with WiseGuys
The Austin Film Society showed this entertaining old film last week on election night. The receptive audience found laughs in many lines that still seem current, especially about unemployment, the want ads and being broke.
Jean Arthur looked lovely in this movie, and Herbert Marshall was perfect. What a wonderful voice that man had! My husband thinks that his walk may have inspired C3PO's formal motions, although the robot had a metal leg, not a wooden one like Mr. Marshall's.
Lionel Stander was already in full bellow, many decades before 'Hart to Hart', and Leo Carillo was a treat as the gangster employer. It was a surprise to hear them use the term 'wise guy' for a prospective member - I didn't realize it was already being used back then.
Rock Follies of '77 (1977)
Rock Follies DVD Please!
I agree with the previous poster, and wish this were on DVD. Is there a master "Wish List" anywhere?? I'd also want to add "My Mother Fred" to that list if it exists!
Rock Follies was a wonderful series, and I would dearly love to revisit it. It played on PBS in the Chicago area, I think. It was worth the trouble to juggle schedules in order to enjoy this one as a couple, since it was romantic, dramatic, musical, and funny. I do remember the hair commercials by Rula Lenska, who was quite a character.
One song that has always haunted me was sung by the group while dressed in WW2 uniform - something like "Glenn Miller is missing, why do I feel so cold?" There were recent articles about the centenary of Glenn Miller's birth, which made me remember this show.
The Last Polka (1985)
Please put this on DVD!
The DVD of "A Mighty Wind" was so much fun I had to see what older comedies by cast members were available. This romp with Eugene Levy and John Candy was such a favorite, it's a shame it's not available. I would love to be able to see "The Last Polka" again, preferably on DVD. Wish it could appear in time for the 10th anniversary of the death of John Candy (he died in March 1994). I sure would like to see him polka-swinging with Eugene Levy once more.
People in our family still use that catchphrase: Cabbage rolls & coffee! MMMM, MMMMMM, GOOD!
Viewed the movie with an audience last night - audience and cast comments
I saw this movie last night at an Austin Film Society screening, with a very receptive audience. I'm sure someone else will write the in-depth, perceptive review, but I happen to like the shallow stuff:
Whether intended by the makers or not, this audience found some hilarious double entendres (e.g. George Sanders showing off his 9-inch telescope).
A scene with inappropriate dubbing of Mr. Sanders' singing voice brought groans. I would have liked to hear him sing. (Audrey Hepburn's real voice should have been used in 'My Fair Lady', too!)
The older sister of the main character looked so much like Jessica Fletcher that my husband suspected a relationship and we looked her up. The actress was Moyna MacGill, the mother of Angela Lansbury... it was fascinating to see the similarity in motions and gestures.
The family's cook was played by Sara Algood. One of her other roles was as the matron Morton in 'Roxie Hart', the forerunner to 'Chicago'.
There was something very charming about seeing George Sanders without the cynicism.