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The film had MANY problems...yet, oddly, I enjoyed it., 30 September 2014

The film is set somewhere in the Pacific on some Polynesian Island. To demonstrate this, the filmmakers inserted lots of grainy old stock footage...and it really was obvious. Soon you see that a baddie named Mike Lutz has been cheating a dumbbell, Mr. Armstrong, out of his fortune. As for Armstrong, he's an alcoholic and a womanizer--which is not good because his fiancée, Miss Bradford (Marceline Day), is on her way to the island to marry him. When she arrives, evil Mike makes a play for her but the hero, Thorn (Kenneth Harlan) arrives to save the day--whisking her off to his plantation to stay. It's obvious that Thorn is smitten with Miss Bradford, but because he's the heroic type, he's quite the gentleman. In fact, he tries to help Armstrong throughout the film--even though Armstrong really is a hopeless jerk-face. Through the course of saving the Jerk-face, Thorn gets on evil Captain Lutz's bad side and Lutz plans on revenge. Can Thorn save the day or will Thorn steal everything...including Miss Bradford?

The film is a bit silly and in many ways it plays out like a Popeye cartoon- -with a bunch of sailor beating the crap out of each other. Think of Thorn as Popeye and Lutz as Bluto...and, perhaps, Armstrong as Wimpy...though instead of being addicted to burgers, he's addicted to booze and broads. And, of course, the skinny Miss Bradford is Olive. Additionally, there is a lot of singing--something you wouldn't expect in a South Seas adventure like this one! A few of the songs are completely ridiculous (such as the one Thorn sings with his crew as their ship comes in to port) and one actually was good (the one where he translates the Polynesian song into English), as Harlan had a beautiful voice. He wasn't exactly handsome and perhaps that is why he didn't go on to become a big star--though with a voice like that, I am still rather surprised.

Overall, the film has a lot of crappy stock footage, occasionally offensive stereotypes ('...all the locals are lazy'), a very simplistic plot, one of the DUMBEST sidekicks in movie history (Beauty is a 100% idiot) and some occasionally limp acting. But, it also has a likable leading man and, somehow, the film engaged my interest. Yes, I knew that there'd be a final big showdown between Thorn and Lutz...and I actually found myself caring! Worth seeing if your standards and expectations are both low.

The case was a bit too complicated, but I did enjoy seeing Frank Lovejoy as McGraw, 30 September 2014

Frank Lovejoy stars as McGraw--a character he played several times on "Four Star Playhouse" as well as it's offshoot "Stage 7". Additionally, later there was a TV series about this private detective. However, of the two stories I have so far seen, "Meet McGraw" is the least of them. This is because although it has wonderful characters and acting, the story itself is complicated and hard to believe. When the show begins, Lila Lamont tries to hire McGraw to be a body guard to protect her from dangerous husband. However, Mr. Lamont is apparently a very dangerous mobster and McGraw isn't about to become involved. After all, he isn't stupid. But, in an odd twist, he's pulled into the case when Lila's servants steel McGraw's wallet and only return it after they convince him to come back to their place. What's next? Well, see the show if you want to know--it's available for download for free at

Audrey Trotter and Ellen Corby are wonderful supporting actresses in this one. In particular, Trotter could play a wonderful femme fatale--the sort of sexy but deadly lady who made film noir movies so enjoyable. And, Lovejoy is once again very good as the detective. But the story didn't satisfy me--it just seemed very unrealistic and I never for a moment believed the story.

Fair at best..., 29 September 2014

This is from a series that was based on cases from a real defense attorney, Herbert Maris (MacDonald Carey). However, my assumption is that the cases have been heavily changed for television--mostly because Maris acts more like Charlie Chan or a police investigator than any defense attorney!

When the show begins, a man is murdered at the zoo--shot by someone with a rifle. Maris just happens to be there for some other reason when he gets pulled into the case by a man who is afraid he'll be charged with the killing. And, through the course of the show, Maris uses his smarts to ferret out who the real killer is and all is once again right with the world.

While the show is mildly entertaining, it really seemed VERY unrealistic and even a bit silly. Attorneys do NOT investigate crimes like this and the writing seemed a bit shabby. Not horrible...but also not very good.

Let's Join Joanie (1950) (TV)
A bit silly but it did make me smile, 29 September 2014

Joan Davis stars in "Let's Join Joanie"--a TV pilot for a series that unfortunately was never made. I say unfortunately because it was funny and in many ways it played a bit like "I Love Lucy" but was about a wacky single lady, not a nut married to a Cuban band leader.

When the show begins, Joanie is asleep and quickly wakes up for work. How she got ready for work was quite funny and they played it up well. Soon, however, her morning routine is interrupted when a hunky neighbor arrives. Joanie is all over herself and it's VERY obvious she's smitten with the guy. However, he says he wants a very athletic wife--something Joanie is not. So, she goes to a health club and tells them to give her 'the works'.

The show was a bit uneven--and perhaps this was why the networks passed on this one. I enjoyed it but some of the humor WAS a bit broad and very silly. But, most importantly, I did laugh. If you want to see this cute show, it is available for free viewing or download at be forewarned, the print is a bit washed out and has obviously seen better days.

Excellent, though I still prefer the movie., 29 September 2014

In the 1930s, "The Petrified Forest" was a smashing success on Broadway--so much so that Warner Brothers bought the rights to this play and made a movie out of it starring Leslie Howard. Unfortunately, Howard was killed during WWII, so he could not reprise his leading role. However, the villain in the play and film, Humphrey Bogart, was available and reprises his role of Duke Mantee--the leader of a murderous gang of bank robbers. And so, on May 30, 1955, this play was recreated live on American television for "Producer's Showcase".

The setting is a combination filling station and restaurant in the desert near the Petrified Forest in the American Southwest. For the first half of the film, characters are introduced, you learn their back stories and an important relationship begins between a lonely waitress, Gabrielle (Lauren Bacall) and a drifter (Henry Fonda). The pair are on odd match--she is a woman aching to leave her humdrum life and travel to France and he is a world-weary man who has very little left to show for himself after he traveled to France and became a writer. Then, about midway through the production, Mantee and his compatriots arrive--looking to meet up with the rest of the gang as well as to hide out during a huge police dragnet. Soon they take over the joint and begin barking out orders. What's next? I won't spoil it--see the film.

Had I not already seen and enjoyed the Warner Brothers movie, I would have been much more impressed by this TV teleplay. Now this is NOT to say it's bad--in most ways it is excellent and very compelling (aside from the cheap sound effects for gunfire). But, it's not original--and that I always hold against remakes. However, it IS good enough to see and recommend. And, if you do see it, also look for some interesting appearances by Jack Warden, Natalie Schaffer as well as small parts by Jack Klugman and Richard Jaeckel and Mantee's sidekicks.

Wow, have times changed!, 29 September 2014

Back in the 1940s, Barney Google and Snuffy Smith were immensely popular comic strip stars, so it isn't all that surprising that they put them on the big screen. However, when seen today, the characters seem incredibly annoying and even a bit grotesque! Some of this is because of the horrific makeup they put on the two characters to give them the same bulbous noses they have in the strip. This was a terrible idea in my opinion, as it (combined with horrible dialog) made the characters seem sub-human-- particularly Snuffy. Combining that with a height of only about 4 1/2 feet and his age, it goes way beyond credibility to make the guy a soldier!

The film is a propaganda comedy starring Smith and his weirdo cousin, Barney. Barney apparently helped to invent some rocket (which is hard to imagine, as he is very stupid in the film) and a group of soldiers, including Snuffy, are sent to watch over it. Not surprisingly, Axis agents try to take or destroy the rocket and so it's up to a group including a complete moron (Smith) to save the day.

The problem with all this is that the characters seem too much like the comic strips. You can suspend disbelief with comics--but with live-action, they just seem weird and creepy. Combining this with cartoon-like dialog and you have a movie that is practically impossible to finish it's so bad.

Very early incarnations of Bimbo and Betty...and they didn't quite know what to do with them yet., 28 September 2014

When this picture begins, it says that it's a 'Bimbo cartoon'. However, Bimbo the Dog is NOT to be seen and it's instead of other weird incarnation of the character--one that looks nothing like him. Additionally, Betty Boop is in her early form--with strange little dog ears instead of human ones.

The film consists of this Bimbo trying to sneak into the theater. Eventually he is successful and he sees several acts--including Betty singing a number and showing off even more skin than usual (her dress keeps dropping in the front and you see her bra) and a stage hypnotist. There is a LOT of singing, the gags mostly fall flat and the overall enjoyment level is pretty low compared to the later Betty Boop cartoons. Worth seeing if your goal in life is to see every Betty Boop cartoon--otherwise, you might do best to skip this one. Overall, nice animation (as always) but not much in regard to plot or entertainment value.

Overall, it's pretty good., 28 September 2014

A couple, Shirley and Albert (Ann Dvorak and John Gallaudet), are having financial trouble. To make it worse, their daughter is ill and they were told by doctors to send her out in the country for a rest. They are desperate and Albert tries everything he can to get the money--all to no avail. Later, however, a rich guy (Donald Woods) loses his wallet and Albert gives in to temptation and takes the money-filled wallet. Later, however, he begins to have second thoughts--especially when he finds a touching letter inside the wallet that indicates that without the wallet, Mr. King (the rich guy), will have his life ruined.

The plot is interesting if a bit preachy and schmaltzy. However, what interested me the most was seeing Dvorak in the 1940s. While she'd been a top actress in the 1930s, she sure looked old and far from the more glamorous lady she'd been. Still, she and the rest of the cast did a nice job in this engaging tale.

A bittersweet tale., 28 September 2014

Edmund O'Brien stars as a writer named Ray. Ray has a book coming out and just before its release, he is shocked to see a woman who is EXACTLY like the main character in his story. He chases after her but loses her as she crosses the street. Later, however, they meet and he is shocked to see that she isn't LIKE the character, she IS the character! And, because she is the woman he created, he cannot help but fall in love with her. However, in the story, she is murdered...and he's worried that this will also happen to Jill (Joanne Woodward)!

In many ways, this film reminds me of the episode of "The Twilight Zone" where an author (Keenan Wynn) is able to describe characters on his tape recorder and they magically appear. This plot was played for laughs, whereas "Dark Stranger" is more of a romantic drama. Considering that two top actors (both who would become Oscar winners) star in this one, it's no wonder that it's well acted and quite enjoyable throughout.

Good for its day but very dated today., 28 September 2014

"Sands of Sacrifice" is a very old fashioned silent movie with lots of melodrama which probably played a lot better when the film first debuted. Today, most would think it all too unbelievable and silly to be taken very seriously.

The story is set in Canada and involves a Mountie trying to catch an evil swindler. In the process, he also comes to meet a young lady who is being hidden in an out of the way cabin by her father. By the end of the film, the good guy manages to not only capture the Snidley Whiplash-like baddie but unravel WHY the man and young lady are in the wilderness and fix their problems as well.

The story is incredibly simplistic and most folks would probably never see a film like this in the first place. But, compared to other films of the day, it's about average.

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