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Li'l Abner (1959)
Cartoons come to life.
I remember being excited just seeing.the television ads for this movie. I just loved when cartoon characters were brought to life on the big screen. What I didn't expect at the time (I was not even 9 years old when it came out) was that.it was a musical, so as a kid, when the songs were played, I was a trifle bored UNTIL Stubby Kaye sang Jubilation T. Cornpone, then I was hooked.
The incredibly beautiful Leslie Parrish as Daisy Mae didn't hurt either.
The premise involved a military experiment that would turn the scraggly, skinny hillbillies into hulking he-men was fun too.
Remember, this was based on a comic strip created by Al Capp who was from my home town of Cambridge, Massachusetts which I found particularly cool as well.
All the best elements were there as well. Kickapoo Joy Juice, for one, and.or course, Sadie Hawkins Day.
And a great surprise cameo by both the AWESOME Julie Newmar as Stupefyin' Jones, and Jerry Lewis who at that time was my favorite, but that changed when I actually met him.
Anyway, needless to say, I loved it. A true classic that made.me a fan of musical comedies.
Missing Connery makes this a tad disappointing
I loved the Sean Connery James Bond films so much that after seeing Goldfinger, I made a point of buying.the book Thunderball as soon as it came out,and then read.l every one of Fleming's originals. When I read the book On Her Majesty's Secret Service, I believed I had found the best James Bond thriller of all with a very human 007, so I wanted badly to see Sean Connery do this one. It almost happened.
Unfortunately, Connery bowed out at this point, so vague lookalike George Lazenby was hired to play the most coveted hero role of all time.This really.hampered.my.enjoyment of the film.
The fact that. Diana Riggs, TV's Mrs. Emma Peel was.the co-star made it all the more sad.to.me that Sean would not be there to make this the masterpiece it deserved to be.
I also felt that Telly Savalas was the most lackluster Blofeld ever.
The saving graces of this movie were the action sequences, the splendid John Barry score and Louis Armstrong doing what I feel to be the very best song of Armstrong's career and the very best of this series right up there with the title song of Goldfinger.
The story is a great one with what would have been a very touching ending (which I won't give away if you have not seen it) had a better actor played the lead.
The opening gag was a clever one and the great Richard Maibaum wrote an excellent script, yet every time Lazenby came on screen, I tried to imagine Sean Connery instead. That would have been spectacular.
So while it is perhaps one of the best screenplay in the series, I would have preferred that this is the one that made a swan song for Sean Connery than the less satisfying and downright silly Diamonds Are Forever that set the stage for many of the silly Roger Moore outings.
This is why it gets only seven out of ten from me.
Get on Up (2014)
James.Brown, Mr. Dynamite!!!
This is the story masterfully told about the Man known as the hardest working man in show business, and be was.that and.so much more.
As someone who didn't always "get" James Brown, I became a believer later in my life, and after this magnificent biopic . Agreed, it gets a tad confusing with the way it jumps back and forth, but it works like a soulful mosaic that weaves a tale that is truly the story of f the American dream. A black child who came into the world almost unwanted and jailed for a pretty crime with hard time still managed to rise above it all and became a music and entertainment legend
Not all is sweetness and light with the person of James Brown, but then no one is. Regardless of all the rough edges and the sometimes coldness and ruthlessness of the Man, there is no denying the power of the legend.
Other reviews called this cliché' but they are wrong. This is the way a great biopic is done. One said that breaking the fourth wall works against it, but again, not so. The very subtlety of a glance here and there packs power. Unlike The Jersey Boys, it never looks like a play on film or ever amateurish.
The performances of Chadwick Bozeman and all the others shows what truly great acting is. The hard work makes it all seem seamless. I could point out individual performers in this cinematic masterpiece, but I don't think I could type that long so I hope not to lessen the contributions of any of the other exceptional acting talents here.
Both Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis show exactly why they are always Oscar worthy.
I just loved it, and am now a bigger James Brown fan then ever before.
I must lastly say that I am glad that Boston was given (correctly) the credit for being the city in an historic moment following the assassination of. Dr. Martin Luther King when the Godfather of Soul quelled what could have been a race riot. Other films credited other cities and that was taking artistic license too far for me.
Also, credit must be given to Dan Ackroyd and Mick Jagger for their participation in this great tribute.
Not a perfect film, but a total joy!
Going with. a. GRIM.FAIRY TALE
This is the only Quantum Leap episode I absolutely hated. Keep in mind that I'm from Massachusetts, and someone who not only followed the history of the Kennedy family but a part of it. On four different occasions, I met Ted Kennedy, even worked on his presidential campaign and etc members of his family. In addition to that, I have been educating myself for years about the Kennedy assassination, and I know that Mr. Bellasario wrote this in answer to the movie JFK which has more facts than this one does.
The whole cartoonish picture of Lee Harvey Oswald is ridiculous and it is even likely that Oswald wasn't even in the Texas School Book Depository when the shots were fired.
But this is not about a history lesson or even rehashing that horrible day. This is just substandard writing and acting and direction for this series. It's best to pretend it never happened.
I felt that it was a waste of my time as it further backs up the Warren Commission's grim fairy tale of a lone assassin.
And the fact that Oswald was killed before the full truth could be told.says volumes here.
Boston is not New York, but try telling Hollywood that. Falk makes it work.
OMG, I love this movie. In the first place, Peter Falk is in it and that makes any movie at least good. Second, there is Tyne Daly... same thing. Two absolutely natural actors who bring up the real estate wherever they are But what really impressed me was Freddie Prinze Jr. He played a character so despicable, I wanted to spit at the screen Anne hope he'd feel it. (I didn't) The only real Boston accent was from Steve Sweeney who after all is a Boston based comic as well as an actor. I lived around those accents so I'm sort of an expert.
The simple story is that Falk is an Irish guy who really is decent but has to make his way in a less than honorable profession. Now he is saddled with a tough punk (Prinze) There's slightly less cursing than a Scorcese flick but not more than a Tarrantino, but this doesn't hurt the story. It makes it just real enough.
Add a couple of Sopranos cast members and it's even more real. Lauren Holly and Timothy Hutton (doing a great Boston accent) as a couple with their own problems. A husband who's a drunk who would steal his wife's check to gamble and a woman who has to deal with him because she loves him, and he's l she's got.
Once again, Frank Vince.t plays his.usual tough guy character who saddled Falk with the punk in the first place.
Not a perfect movie, but a true slice of the underbelly of Boston life and with a "wow" finish.
I can't believe it had problems finding a distributor. There's magic here.
Cagney & Lacey: To Sir, with Love (1987)
CAgney & Lacey as Lucy and Ethel as cops.
Christine is asked by Inspector Knelman (Michael Fairman) to put together a dinner for Lt. Samuels but the Lieutenant is more concerned about paperwork and the 14th Precinct winning an long overdue award. But he us totally in the dark. The highlight of this episode is some great slapstick between the two principals whipping up some cannoli allegedly Samuels' favorite dessert. The punchline is worth the weight and Daly and La Gless make it all believable somehow, a true testament to their talents as first rate actors AND comedians. I loved this one. Can you tell?
There are.some other.highlights as the 14th crew are.lined up for some cheap entertainment as a talent show. A can't miss moment.
When being gay was criminal
I saw this episode whole watching the shows in chronological order and was given a refresher course on the 70s when you could lose your job for being gay especially if you were a cop. While there are other things going on in the episode, the fact that a cop MAY have been outed could get him a "conduct unbecoming" charge and cost him his job. That term is one used regularly in.the military for a variety of reasons to get someone a less than honorable discharge. The main plot concerns a cache of illegal "Saturday night specials" sold around the city. One of my favorite things about watching these types of shows from the period is spotting. All the great character actors and there are no shortage of them here. The acting is as good as you would expect from this cast and they do not disappoint. It's just frustrating that to he characters, being gay was almost a crime in itself. A topic that is still timely.today, and this show is famous for that.
Groucho: A Life in Revue (2001)
Better.than the Kaplan version.
Gabe Kaplan was great at stand-up and a heck of a nice guy, but an actor he wasn't. Frank Ferrante nailed it with his interpretation of Groucho even doing perfect work in the physical aspects of the role so I don't know what is wrong with the reviewer.who said otherwise. While Kaplan knew Groycho in his later years, he wasn't able to pull off the younger or middle aged Groucho as Ferrannte did splendidly. Added.to this were the make-up changes on stage making the stage presentation all the more exciting.
Abrahmson.didn't look like Chico or Harpo, but he more than made up for it with his comic timing. I just wish he worked more on his Italian dialect. He.even played piano like Chico. It was also better to see both characters on stage unlike the Kaplan version.
I loved the work of the actress Marguerite Lowell who played several roles even doing a magnificent job on Margaret Dumont as well as Thelma Todd.
The set design was letter perfect and as much a star of the show as we're.the actors. Much more realistic than the sparse set on the : NO special.
I would recommend this highly... THEN watch the Gabe Kaplan version.
Kaplan vs. Ferrante
I just watched a VHS of this play from HBO after watching Groucho:A Life In Revue starring Frank Ferrante.and BOTH have their pluses and minuses.For one thing, as one reviewer said on target, Gabe Kaplan is not a very.good actor, but in the scenes as the older Groucho, Kaplan is actually better than Ferrante in both voice and manner. Michael Tucci is perfectly cast as Chico. Unfortunately, Harpo is reduced to a horn offstage.and a harp with no harpist. The set on this HBO show is not as well dressed as the Ferrante set either.
Another thing that drove me a little nuts was how Kaplan get going back and forth on the pronunciation of Chico' s name often incorrectly pronouncing it Cheek-oh instead of Chick-oh!
The actress Connie Danese plays several roles and is quite good except as Margaret Dumont. The actress in the Ferrante production does better here.as well.
I like the way Ferrante captured many more of Groucho' s persona in terms of physical actions many times recreating perfectly all the usual trademarks from the classic Marx Brother movies. Kaplan does none of these save for the stooped Groucho walk. Just watching Frank Ferrante make the make-up changes on stage in front of your eyes is a delight as well as a revelation. Plus the actor playing Chico in that production, while not having as much a resemblance as did Michael Gucci,but he did all the business both Chico and Harpo did in character.
Overall, the HBO Kaplan version is somewhat inferior to the Ferrante presentation.
Both are worth viewing, but I recommend seeing the Ferrante DVD first.
The Godfather: Part III (1990)
Eli Wallach and Joe Mantegna make this worth watching.
I was fortunate to have been given a copy of this film before its release so I knew the story beforehand. Like the two films that preceded it, the story is based on real events and people. In this case, the Vatican and the mysterious death of Pope John Paul I. At this point, Michael Corleone is striving for a clean life in business as a philanthropist but it seems that they pull him back in. Eli Wallach is a.competing Godfather who Connie wants to deal with personally, Michael suddenly gas a half brother with his own violent agenda who is the collegiate son of Sonny Corleone and just as hotheaded. On top of this, he has it in for Joey Zaza, played expertly by Joe Montegna. Unfortunately, Sofia Coppola is absolutely amateurish and dull as Michael's daughter.
The problems in this movie really.get in the way towards the end which.seems to go on forever. But, as I have mentioned, Eli Wallach (whom we just lost at 98) and Joe Mantegna make it all worth the price of admission. That, and a stunningly heartbreaking end scene are the high points of this epic.
Al Pacino actually gives a measured performance as well. So to those who say this film "sucked" your less than objective criticism is what sucks.