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|74 reviews in total|
So many reviewers seem to have completely missed the point of this
movie. It was , apparently, meant to be played like a sketch on one of
Hope's TV specials. Perfectly valid approach.
The comedy is broad, farcical and loose. The gags that fall flat are obviously meant to do just that. Bob's character is a ham who has to rely on his own laughs. The bad guys are like something from an episode of the Monkees. Forrest Tucker and Ralph Bellamy are ideal in their respective roles and Keenan Wynne, as the cigar - chomping sheriff, seems to have based his characterization on Yosemite Sam (with great success !)
Paul Bogart was exactly the right director for Hope to be working with at the close of his big screen career. This is a free - wheeling '70s movie. Granted, it definitely isn't one of Bob's most outstanding efforts. But, it was the better than most of the pictures that he made near the end and I like it. In fact, as Hope's last, major movie, it also, happily, turned out to be his best in some time.
A brutal and uninspired revenge Western, this was the second really bad
film that Rod Taylor starred in during 1973 with its immediate
predecessor being the almost - as - bad "Trader Horn".
As for "The Deadly Trackers", The New York Times called it "viciously senile" and warned that it contained nothing more than "fireworks and gore". Even Leonard Maltin, a frequent advocate for the versatile Australian actor, has dismissed it as being just plain "dreadful". And, sadly, I would have to agree.
Indeed, it turned out to be the final bomb that flattened Taylor's movie career.By the mid-'70s he'd become trapped on a runaway train to cinematic oblivion. With his stay at the top seemingly over, he would be increasingly called upon to do nothing more substantial than lend his name to a string of low budget obscurities.Some were fair. But most were unworthy of his talent. Still, he continued to work regularly and better chances came his way on television via guest shots and support roles.
As it turned out, 1973 was destined to be a transitional year for Rod
Taylor. Somewhat deceptively, it began on a comparatively high note in
February when he opened in "The Train Robbers" , a lightweight but
pleasant Western for Warner Bros. Co-starring opposite John Wayne and
Ann-Margaret, it was Taylor's last hurrah as far as box office success
was concerned. With his next release, the golden apple which he had
been carrying on his journey through Movie Land for two decades
suddenly turned into a lemon.
The trouble began in June when he bobbed up in Metro's "Trader Horn", an ill-considered remake of the 1931 Harry Carey picture. As the famed explorer of darkest Africa, Taylor had to lead a safari of day workers from Central Casting through an obstacle course of every conceivable B- movie cliché. There were rampaging natives, tangled vines, quick-sand and assorted wildlife - all of which materialized via a disconcerting gaggle of all-too-obvious stock footage and back projection. It looked liked the former life saver from Sydney had accidentally walked in front of a home movie screen while his brother-in-law was running a bad 1940s travel documentary. All that was missing was a cup of coffee and a piece of cake. It was the beginning of the end for Taylor as far as his big career was concerned
In April, 1971, after ten years away from the small screen, Rod Taylor
made another attempt to gain a permanent spot on television with the
nostalgic CBS series "The Bearcats !". With the story unfolding in
America's dusty Southwest in 1914, it featured Taylor and Dennis Cole
as characters Hank Brackett and Johnny Reach respectively, a pair of
trouble shooters for hire. Loaded with period charm, the show took its
name from the majestic and sporty roadster in which Reach and Brackett
went about their business - a yellow Stutz Bearcat.
As with Taylor s previous series, "Hong Kong", the venture faced stiff competition when it was programmed up against NBC's well established "Flip Wilson Show" and it lasted only thirteen weeks.
The Bearcats ! was a breezy, action - packed and entertaining production based around a novel idea which featured two excellent stars who had an engaging and believable on screen rapport. Sadly, however, the show is now remembered as being yet another of those noble efforts that fell between the cracks and ended up in the "Brilliant but Cancelled" category of television history.
Rod Taylor became a star on both the big and small screens in 1960. His
big movie break came along when he landed the lead role as a strong -
willed inventor in late Victorian London who travels through the fourth
dimension to the future in George Pal's science fiction block buster
"The Time Machine".
Taylor then made his first important move into television the same year with the ABC drama series "Hong Kong".As Glenn Evans, a "two-fisted" news correspondent who had been assigned to cover the Orient, the Aussie he - man was equally adept at solving crimes and romancing lovely ladies.
The show proved to be extremely popular here in Australia, aided no doubt by the star's local origins and also, perhaps, due to our geographical proximity to the title location. However, in a strange twist of fate, its Stateside reception was tinged with more than a touch of irony. Although it managed to win a Golden Globe award, American viewers did not cotton to its sophisticated, upmarket leanings and brought about its rapid demise by staying loyal to NBC's "Wagon Train".
Just as a side note, the producers, 20th Century Fox, had another exotic, off - shore series going to air on ABC at the time that was also based around the Asia - Pacific region - namely "Adventures in Paradise". In fact, Fox music maestro, Lionel Newman wrote the theme for both shows.
As the gin-soaked wreckage of Errol Flynn was being swept off the
Hollywood landscape in the late 1950s, a younger but more stable Aussie
Adonis was training hard down on Santa Monica beach. A former lifeguard
and amateur boxer, his name was Rod Taylor and movie critics of the day
quickly got to the core of what the sandy-haired, blue-eyed newcomer
was all about. He was soon being described as "solid", "ruggedly
handsome", "charming" and, after proving himself in a string of
successful pictures, "reliable".
Following a succession of support roles on both the big and small screen, Taylor finally got his first crack at movie stardom in 1960 when the producer-director George Pal gave him the lead in "The Time Machine", MGM's rendering of the landmark novel of the same name by H.G.Wells.
Ideally cast as George, the strong-willed inventor in late Victorian London who speculates about the possibility of being able to travel through the fourth dimension to the future, Taylor struck gold. In an effort to realize his ambition, he builds an amazing machine, a wondrous creation of brass rails, ivory and rock crystal with a red velvet seat.
Launching himself in a spectacular blaze of flashing colored lights, he hurtles away and, after a blistering burst of speed, he arrives in the year 802,701 where he comes across what looks like a paradise on earth.
Populated by a society of beautiful young people known as the Eloi, the air is fresh and clean and magnificent fruit grows in abundance. But he soon discovers that all is not well. The gentle Eloi are, in fact, being held virtual prisoners by a brutal colony of mutants called the Morlocks who run the place from their underground hideaway. After falling for Weena, a particularly cute Eloi girl, George snaps into hero mode and with, the damsel's life at stake, he decides to save her people from the evil ones. However, there are matters he has to attend to back in his own world. What follows is a study of divided loyalties and a moral dilemma which stretches between the ages.
Unsure about making another foray in science fiction, Taylor was swayed after he met George Pal as he explained in the July,1986 edition of Starlog magazine. "George was a genius. He had a marvelous talent for illustration and I was fascinated by his pre -production drawings".
Movie novice Yvette Mimieux played Weena and provided just the right look of wide-eyed innocence and vulnerability for the brave and chivalrous Taylor to defend. Other cast members included TV regular Alan Young as the inventor's closest friend David Filby together with Sebastian Cabot, Tom Helmore and Whit Bissell. Writer David Duncan supplied an intelligent and imaginative script while veteran cameraman Paul Vogel did the cinematography and Russell Garcia handled the music.
Released on August 16,1960, The Time Machine became an overnight sensation at the box office, with the special effects by Gene Warren and Tim Baer going on to win an Oscar.
Now considered to be a classic of the genre, both the picture in general and Taylor's contribution in particular were hailed by the critics. Pauline Kael, of the New Yorker later described it as being "one of the best of its kind". Bosley Crowther of the New York Times drew attention to the standard of the photography, saying that "The color lends exciting hues to everything from Victorian wine glasses to the Morlocks flashing green eyes". Variety called Taylor's characterization "a gem".
Most significantly, it marked the beginning of Taylor's big career which, as it turned out, barely extended beyond the end of the decade.However, during his stay at the top he stood alone as Australia's only major Hollywood identity. Greatly respected for his range and versatility as an actor, he moved easily and competently between drama, comedy, romance and, later, action movies as he co - starred opposite the likes of Rock Hudson, Doris Day, John Wayne and many others.
Interesting and entertaining. However, there is one significant error in regard to the sequence of events that were involved in Flynn's rise to stardom. Contrary to what's mentioned in the documentary, he did not go straight from New Guinea (or Sydney) to the US where he instantly became a Hollywood star. He, initially, went to England where he spent a year or so gaining experience in stage work. While he was there he also appeared in two movies that were produced at the Warner Bros. studios in Teddington and it was local studio head, Irving Asher, who signed Flynn to a contract for the company. Also, it's been reported that Asher described Flynn to the powers that be in Hollywood as being "Irish". Did he simply jump to an incorrect conclusion, based purely on Errol's surname or had Flynn decided to reinvent himself ? Neither of these points were raised in the documentary
After a break of ten years, this was to be the last entry into the long
-running and extremely popular cycle of "Road" movies.
Hope and Crosby were in their late fifties by the time this one came along and they were obviously due to retire from their familiar, high energy roles as roustabout con men / adventurers. But, even though they may have been slowing down on the running jumping side of things, the generally snappy pace and witty banter of earlier outings remained intact.
This quirky offering was made in England on a seemingly low budget. Shot in black and white, it must have been a visual disappointment for audiences after the color escapades of its immediate predecessor - 1952's "Road to Bali".
As usual, there's a couple of good songs, the best of which, "Team Work", opens the picture.The supporting cast is excellent and the cameo appearances by Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin just before the curtain falls was a nice touch.
Despite it's somewhat bargain basement look, it still manages to provide a fun finale to the series
Unquestionably one of the finest TV music specials ever produced, this
top shelf presentation marked the beginning of what could be called the
"Third Age" of Sinatra's career.
The two previous stages had been followed by extended periods of inactivity. The first, in the early 1950s, was due to a sudden and dramatic decline in his popularity - the inevitable fall out, perhaps, of extreme over exposure (along with other factors). But the second break away from center stage, some twenty years later,was very much a self imposed 'retirement',all be it a fairly brief one as it turned out.
The story of Sinatra's phoenix-like rise from the ashes is now a celebrated part of show business history.
After surviving the collapse of his career, major personal and health problems, he went on to make a spectacular comeback with his Oscar-winning performance in the war movie "From Here to Eternity" (1954?). With that success, his status was restored almost overnight and his career rapidly soared to stratospheric new heights. Throughout the '60s and beyond, he reigned supreme as the world's leading concert performer, most accomplished recording artist and Hollywood power broker. The pace was frenetic.
In 1971, however, he decided to retire, saying that he needed time to reflect upon his life in general. He played golf and prepared lots of home-cooked meals for members of his inner-circle. But the fans grew restless. And some of those admirers were not without influence.
In 1973, U.S. President Richard Nixon put a call through to Sinatra's Palm Springs compound. Nixon was about to play host to Italy's Presient, Mr Andreotti, and both heads of state were hoping that the world's most famous Italian American could be cajoled into singing a few songs at the official banquet.
It seems that Frankie needed very little persuading. His private show at the White House had the small but very select audience pounding their well manicured hands red raw with enthusiasm. Sinatra's chums in the media ran glowing reports of his triumphant 'return' and, later in the same year, Reprise issued "Ol' Blue Eyes is Back", the album that marked the official end of his retirement.
Although a somewhat uneven collection of ballads, it was a generally impressive release. The mood was low key but the album contained some fine songs such as "Let me Try Again", "You Will be my Music" and the inspirational "Winners". But the standout track was Sinatra's extraordinary version of "Send in the Clowns", the show-stopper from the smash Broadway production "A Little Night Music".
Conceived as a dual purpose promotional vehicle to launch both the album of the same name and the "Third Age" of Sinatra's career, the TV special "Ol Blues Eyes is Back" was based around a theme of 'yesterday and today'.
The first part of the show featured the star taking a musical 'look back' at some of his choice cuts from the golden years. Turning on a massive revolving stage, and working with obvious relish to a packed house of Hollywood celebrities and other special guests, Sinatra punches his way through such favorites as "I Get a Kick out of You", "I've Got the World on a String" and "Street of Dreams".
A change of pace then finds him alone in a sprawling bar room set where he presents the wistful ballads "Last Night when We Young" and "Violets for your Fur". The segment also reveals the first signs of rust being scraped away from the famous 'reed' with the usually seamless flow of sound momentarily cracking up in a minor way.
Back with the audience, Sinatra shares some decidedly tongue in cheek memories of the high and low points of his "other" career in the movies. After introducing a brief montage of film clips featuring himself and Gene Kelly in such classics as "Anchors Aweigh" and "Take me out to the Ball Game", the pair are reunited in the studio to do a couple of outstanding songs together. One in particular, "You Can't do that Anymore" brings the house down.
The hour concludes with Sinatra working before the orchestra (led alternatively throughout the program by Nelson Riddle and Don Costa) showcasing a selection of songs from his new album.
All in all, the show was a huge success. Well conceived and presented, it was tight, entertaining and attractively staged.
Although television was never Sinatra's strong point, he really seemed to enjoy doing this one. A fine production, it will probably be remembered as his best effort on the small screen.
Oh, how I miss '70s TV !
It was remarkably tough, comparatively sophisticated and genuinely
Comparisons will always be made between "The Green Hornet" and its TV stable mate "Batman". So what were some of the similarities?
To start with, both were made by 20th Century Fox. In keeping with the time-honored super hero tradition, the "real-life" identities of the respective title characters were successful, well-connected and, we assume, highly respected members of the community. When in character as their alter egos, both drove amazing custom-built cars that were veritable killing machines on wheels, armed with a vast array of deadly, concealed weapons. Both had capable, intelligent and gutsy sidekicks who could more than hold their own when the chips were down and the fists were flying.
But there were some major differences as well.
Where "Batman" was decidedly over the top and essentially in the business of extracting squeals of the delight from the younger set, "The Green Hornet" was deadly serious when it came to crime fighting. In the former show, the resident bad guys were exotic fantasy figures who wore crazy and colorful costumes and had cute names like "The Joker" and "The Penguin". Indeed, the Art department at 20th really pulled out all the stops on "Batman" to cash in on the newly-arrived novelty of color TV.
In "The Green Hornet", the villains of the piece were strictly legit. Although, somewhat curiously, one or two of them seemed to be living relics from "The Adventures of Superman". Dressed in snap-brimmed fedoras with feet wide apart and twitching their shoulders, one fully expected to hear something along the lines of "you dirty rat" at any minute. Still, it was a kid's show (or was it?)so broad portrayals were probably needed in a situation where everyone was decked out in street clothes.
Star Van Williams handled the dual role of Britt Reid, Editor of "The Daily Sentinel" newspaper and the Green Hornet with panache. Creating a stern-faced 007 type of character, Williams proved to be no slouch when it came to manufacturing his own brand of ice-cube intensity in the style of James Bond.
Bruce Lee, as Kato, the Hornet's faithful Chinese partner in crime busting, was there primarily to handle the ultra rough stuff. Still, when he did what he did best, he made for good television.
Generally well-written, sharply directed and competently acted by all those in the cast who really mattered,"The Green Hornet" flashed across our TV screens only fleetingly but it made a lasting and favorable impression on a lot of us.
What it lacked was true fantasy and humor - the two key ingredients that made "Batman" a classic.
"The Green Hornet" was good - very good in fact. But it didn't have those special qualities that guarantee immortality.
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