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Bonanza: Sweet Annie Laurie (1969)
Before she was Valine Ewing on Dallas Joan Van Ark guest starred on this Bonanza episode as a stowaway in Dan Blocker's buckboard while he's in town for supplies. Van Ark is hiding and running away from James Olson who is her husband and whom she helped fake the death of. Although Olson could now get away clean he just won't leave without his wife. Something that Hoss Cartwright will get himself involved in.
Unlike other Bonanza episodes Joan Van Ark manages to live at the conclusion of the story. In this story where Dan Blocker is the primary Cartwright both Van Ark and Olson register well as a coldblooded killer and his frightened wife.
McMillan & Wife: Buried Alive (1974)
An old friend of Rock Hudson's turns up from his days in Intelligence work from World War II. Hudson thought he died back then, but he gets contacted and still find him, but finds him recently dead on the streets of San Francisco.
Of course this is a murder that the police commissioner by dint of his intelligence training is uniquely qualified to investigate. Susan Saint James tags along as a girl Friday here. More than in most other episodes of McMillan&Wife Hudson and Saint James function like Nick and Nora Charles.
Another old friend from intelligence work is Barry Sullivan and he confirms that the dead man was indeed Hudson's old buddy from World War II and that his death was faked so he could be an agent. Hudson's friend was on the trail of a sleeper agent when he was killed and the trail also leads to the dead man's girl friend Donna Mills.
The episode is nicely and stylishly done as per the standards of McMillan&Wife. Although I think early on you'll figure out what isn't much of a mystery.
Showdown at Boot Hill (1958)
A model citizen?
Showdown On Boot Hill is an interesting western with an unusual plot premise. It's one of the earliest films with Charles Bronson in a starring role and it casts him as a bounty hunter.
I wish the characters had been developed a bit more. With what little we see of Thomas Browne Henry at the beginning before Bronson kills him in a gun duel is he's something of a lout. Bronson has warrants on him for some killings away from his home area. Henry I have to say makes sure he does not do criminal business where he lives and that's only smart. So when Bronson kills him none of the citizens will identify him including the sheriff so he can collect his $200.00 bounty. He is after all bounty hunter with a badge.
We never know why Henry is considered such a model citizen and that's the main weakness of the story. The whole town turn on Bronson and more than a couple want to do him in.
Showdown At Boot Hill had distinct possibilities. Sad it was given such a mediocre treatment.
This episode of McMillan&Wife is one of my favorites. It takes Rock Hudson back to his days in Intelligence work. An old friend named George Marion played by Logan Field is in town. But as he and Hudson are and were in the spy business Field doesn't just give him a ring and tell him where he's staying or even drop by police headquarters.
No he has to play a little game which includes Hudson hearing wherever he goes the song Marianne. Of course all this game playing while amusing ultimately ends with Field dead. Had the two of them just put their heads together they might have solved this mystery quick.
What it concerns is a trail of dead agents and Field winds up the latest one. It could be the handiwork of a mysterious double agent code name Venice. Hudson never met him as have most of his colleagues who show up in and around San Francisco. And since Fields's murder did take place in San Francisco it's the SFPD's case.
A nice cast of former spy associates show up. The murder of Field was done rather cleverly and the culprit nearly gets away with it.
In the end Field leaves a dying clue as to the identity of Venice and his murderer. Definitely see this episode.
Young Guns of Texas (1962)
Young Guns Of Hollywood
I suppose just for the marquee value of the names of Mitchum, McCrea, and Ladd Young Guns Of Texas cast them in the leads. But it's not the people with those names you're familiar with. Young Guns Of Texas stars James Mitchum, Alana Ladd, and Jody McCrea and is set in post Civil War Texas where some former Confederates have robbed a payroll. What would have been an act of war now makes them outlaws.
Mitchum and McCrea team up with Gary Conway who is another young gun looking for the payroll. But Mitchum mixes some pleasure in it when he also runs off with Alana Ladd daughter of the local rancher Robert Lowery who really doesn't like Mitchum. He sics his foreman on Mitchum, but Mitchum kills him. Now Lowery gets a posse going after the young guns.
McCrea is the son of the local preacher Chill Wills who married the couple and Wills joins them.
Did I forget to mention that the payroll robbers, the young guns, and the posse are all riding into Apache territory? Some honeymoon Mitchum and Ladd are going to have.
No credit was reflected on those great movie names by their kids appearing in this western. Yes it's as dumb as I've described it.
San Antone (1953)
For his own pleasure
Rod Cameron has a pair of leading ladies in San Antone, a post Civil War western whose characters have their motivations dating from the years prior to the Civil War. There's Katy Jurado who is sister to Rudolfo Acosta who usually is a villain in westerns. He's not in this case, he's a Mexican peon who gets good and teased by vixen Arleen Whelan and has to be saved by Cameron whom Acosta now owes big time.
Forrest Tucker plays a Confederate cavalry officer who murders Cameron's father who was trying to stay out of Civil War politics. That's someone else Cameron owes.
So when he hears that Tucker is being held by Acosta in Mexico who is now a Juarista chief what does Cameron do. He decides to pay the ransom of cattle demanded by the Juaristas, but save Tucker for his own pleasure.
Best part of this film is Arleen Whelan who plays a southern belle vixen who makes Vivien Leigh in Gone With The Wind and Bette Davis in Jezebel look like convent girls. Too bad her character was not in a better film.
San Antone is a kind of disjointed film off the Republic Pictures assembly line and everyone here has done better work. Except for Whelan, she is "Cherce".
Reba Under Fire
Clearly with its six year run, Reba McEntire's show Reba found an audience in the red state where anything with a top country singer as the star will find an audience. I wish the situation of this comedy had been better. It looked like Reba was trying for a Grace Under Fire for a red state audience.
Reba after years of marriage to Christopher Rich awakes one morning to find that Rich who is a dentist has been rolling in the hay with his hygienist and said hygienist is pregnant. But that was only the first part as their daughter who may have been raised by the Simpson family is pregnant as well.
But Johanna Garcia Swisher is going to keep the baby and her boyfriend, sweet, muscular, and dumb Steve Howey is going to marry her. Nice to see the men doing right by their women even if Reba is left out in the cold.
Howey's parents are these upper middle class country club people and have their son's future already planned. That did not include him marrying a pretty, but dumb cheerleader. So Howey moves in with his bride's mother and that household also includes a younger brother and sister.
I do like Reba McEntire as performer and I'd love to rate this show higher. I'm sure it did well in the market that buys her music recordings, but it sure left me cold.
Enter Casey Novak
Diane Neal who played a perpetrator in an earlier episode of SVU must have made some good impression on the producers because when Stephanie March left the show Neal was hired to replace her as the sex crimes ADA. But in this show what's demonstrated is that she's going to have to get used to the way they operate. As for Benson and Stabler they're not crazy about Casey Novak's 'hands on' approach.
An aborted baby fetus and the mother are found dead in separate places and we learn the victim was a surrogate mother. It gets complicated and I won't say more but the squad gets a hit off the DNA they lift from a suspect and it opens up a new case involving a serial rapist gone undetected.
I always liked Diane Neal's character. She was rather unrealistically brought back for guest star appearances and given how she was written out in the future it was dumb to bring her back. But right now she's getting her feet wet in sex crimes and Neal makes a fine debut.
You have to see how the serial rapist was beating the investigators for years. Good story.
A Hair Trigger Temper
This episode belongs to Stephanie March who exits the show as ADA Alexandra Cabot. Drug dealer Jacinto Taras Riddick takes a personal interest in her and not a good one.
Riddick is no street level dealer he's at the top of the narcotics food chain, an underboss to a Colombian drug lord who has some really good connections and is wired into a lot of places.
The SVU squad gets the case of a girl found only in a coat with her tongue cut out. Turns out she was an undercover cop and that sends the squad on a collision course with the Drug Enforcement Agency and a long term investigation they have on Riddick and his crew.
Riddick has a hair trigger temper and it's what got the undercover killed and Alexandra Cabot sets him off the same way.
David Thornton is around as all around smarmy criminal lawyer Lionel Granger who of course is defending Riddick.
Stephanie March really has the right stuff for her job.
El hombre de Río Malo (1971)
James Mason gets to do a western
American Lee Van Cleef and Englishman James Mason join Gina Lollobrigida and a number of unfamiliar European players for this spaghetti western about the Mexican Revolution of the teen years. For James Mason this marked his first appearance in a horse opera albeit not a genuine American one.
For the most part I'm a firm believer that the only real westerns are done in the western hemisphere and Bad Man's River won't convince any of you I'm wrong. It's a comic western, but western icon Lee Van Cleef just does not have a comic bone in his body. As for Gina Lollobrigida she pairs off far better with Rock Hudson and I'm sure she wished she was making another comedy with him.
Mason is a revolutionary and Gina his wife. She's also the former wife of outlaw Lee Van Cleef and they find it might be to their mutual advantage to pull off a caper. Easier said than done however and Gina has quite the surprise in the end.
According to the Citadel Film series book on the films of James Mason he didn't think much of Bad Man's River and I agree.