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Only in Stoogedom, 23 April 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The post World War II housing shortage is the subject of this 3 Stooges short. Long before Abbott and Costello tried to solve the problem in Buck Privates Come Home, the 3 Stooges beat Bud and Lou with G.I. Wanna Home.

Probably Moe, Larry, and Curly were as useful to the war effort as Bud and Lou and unlike them they have brides, Tessie, Bessie, and Jessie awaiting their arrival. But only in Stoogedom would these three expect to move in together with their wives, presumably to raise little stooges. In the end the girls do the only sane thing possible, walk out on them.

The boys do have a funny bit with a squirrel who takes the place of stuffing in a roast goose they prepared. And only the 3 Stooges would think of having adjoining triple bunk beds for themselves and their brides in their honeymoon post war home.

One of their funniest.

"NCIS" (2003)
Navy Cops, 23 April 2014

Something about the laconic Mark Harmon and his team at Naval Criminal Invesigation Service has caught the fancy of the television public. NCIS is still going strong after a decade.

Interesting stories and characters does the trick for this series. Harmon who is a former Marine has got good instincts to ferret out the truth from people. He's aided by a team with different skills.

Michael Weatherly is the number 2 of the unit. His background is civilian police more than military and he's a bit of a blowhard. In a sense Weatherly has the toughest acting job in the show because if he came at the 'probies' too hard the audience would hate him. Still he does make life miserable for Sean Murray especially in the early episodes.

The need for computer skills in law enforcement has become critical but there is a prejudice against computer geeks that Weatherly shares. Poor Sean Murray was new to the team at the beginning and he was the butt of all of Weatherly's juvenile pranks. Still he stood up to it and the jokes got less and less.

Weatherly was not about to pull anything with Cote DePablo, a former Israeli soldier. Out of necessity those people put and have kept their women at arms and she's no one to mess with.

Two others are part of the team, the most unmilitary like. David McCallum whom I remember well as a teen idol of sorts as Ilya Kuryakin in The Man From UNCLE in the Sixties is a senior citizen now and the medical examiner. I wonder if he and Leslie Hendrix of the Law And Order franchise ever met at a Medical Examiner convention? They sure have the same style.

But the most unmilitary person in the group, but maybe the most loved is Pauley Perrette as Abby Sciuto or "Abs" as everyone calls her. Given her Goth persona and a cheerful outlook on life which those folks seldom have, she's a strange person to be working in a military setting. But the team especially Harmon really love her and she's my main reason for watching the show.

Other than some good stories and a fine ensemble cast.

Keep the legend alive, 22 April 2014

When I reviewed the Jean Arthur/John Wayne film A Lady Takes A Chance one of the things I remarked is that I could not imagine being on a three week bus tour of the USA with Phil Silvers as driver/tour guide. Someone who is 'on' as much as Silvers would have been killed by a passenger who couldn't take it after a while. Good in small doses.

So true is it of British comedian Arthur Askey. This one pulls the emergency cord of a train he was riding on because his bowler hat flew off. The train stops and Askey runs down the tracks to retrieve his hat. Of course this makes him very popular with the other passengers, something that he cannot grasp as he seeks to entertain the group.

The group misses a train connection and are forced to spend a night in a railway station where things start to go bump in the night. The passengers are told of the legend of The Ghost Train which was high balling along and plunged into a river when a draw bridge was left open. The legend says that you can hear the train at night, but to see it is instant death.

Besides Askey for comic relief there is also Kathleen Harrison who gets herself good and soused and misses the action coming. All I can say is there are forces who want to keep The Ghost Train legend alive for their own nefarious purposes.

The Ghost Train is a moderately amusing comedy which I hope that Arthur Askey takes it down a might for other films.

Nimoy makes them pay for the ridicule, 22 April 2014

The chief apostle of calm and logic as an approach to life made a screen debut in this film Kid Monk Baroni. Leonard Nimoy who became famous as Mr. Spock of Star Trek played many a tough guy like the title role in this film.

Nimoy is a kid with a real chip on his shoulder and it's about his looks. Not exactly blessed with the looks Tyrone Power, Nimoy learns the manly art of pugilism courtesy of the neighborhood priest Richard Rober. What to do but make his temper and his new boxing skills pay off. He goes to Bruce Cabot as a manager and soon enough gets into the big time.

For all the years of being teased and ridiculed about his looks, Nimoy makes it all pay in the ring. He even gets himself a fast stepping new girlfriend in Mona Knox to the consternation of Allene Roberts from the old neighborhood.

And then he gets some plastic surgery courtesy of all the money he's made in the ring he hasn't spent on Knox. That leads to quite a change of attitude and style.

Elements of Champion are very much present in the plot of Kid Monk Baroni. Jack Larson is in the film as well in the Arthur Kennedy role as opposed to Nimoy's Kirk Douglas.

Kid Monk Baroni is a no frills independent B picture. It is a nice boxing story however and Nimoy makes an impressive debut.

An early run down the old ski nose, 22 April 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Before he became the best known comedian on the big screen Bob Hope did star on Broadway and already had parts in several Broadway shows, most notably Roberta and Red Hot And Blue. During that time he indulged in doing a few short subjects to gain the attention of filmdom's moguls. The Old Grey Mayor is one of them, done for Warner Brothers.

The Old Grey Mayor gives us a hint of what was to come with Hope. He plays a brash young man who is in love with the mayor's daughter. However Mayor George Watts is determined like some medieval lord to marry off his daughter to Alderman Lionel Stander for the sake of political alliances.

The short divides in two, first as Hope and daughter Ruth Hall get snared in the bureaucracy of City Hall trying to get a marriage license. The second part is Hope trying to rescue the fair maiden by pretending to be an EMT with Hall pretending she's sick.

Will true love triumph. It certainly will, what else, but with a few good laughs. The producer must have had a fondness for exploding cigars because they're used to great effect.

This was also an early film for Lionel Stander who played both straight and comic tough guys. Stander gets almost as many laughs as Hope.

A real find for fans of old ski nose.

Kinsey (2004)
The father of the sexual revolution, 21 April 2014

The sexual revolution as we know it got jump started by the man whom this film is about. Alfred Kinsey may not have been the first man to study sex in the abstract, but he certainly was the first man who became widely popular for doing so.

No doubt his interest in sex was a product of his reaction to his Puritan like father John Lithgow who has made roles like the senior Kinsey a real treat ever since his portrayal as a fundamentalist reverend in Footloose. What kid hasn't wanted to explore forbidden knowledge after some religious authority told them it was a no-no. All that Kinsey did was explore far more than others had done and published his controversial findings.

Liam Neeson plays Alfred Kinsey the patient researcher and biologist who did nothing less than revolutionize traditional mores to their foundation. His portrayal is restrained and dignified. Not really gone into is the fact that Kinsey was bisexual and did have a relationship with the character that Timothy Hutton plays.

Not so with Laura Linney who gained an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress as Mrs. Kinsey. Off the bat she tells him she believes in free love and proves it with Chris O'Donnell while married to Neeson. He's not minding at all though, the work comes first with him.

Linney is the one you'll most remember, but Neeson and the rest give spirited performances and breathe life into the father of the sexual revolution for the silver screen.

Insinuates, Seduces, and Terrorizes, 21 April 2014

Love & Rage is a film set in post Parnell Ireland where a psychotic peasant and Irish Republican Brotherhood member Daniel Craig first insinuates himself into the household of wealthy divorcée Greta Sacchi. Then he seduces and terrorizes her. It's all based on a true incident.

That he's an IRB there is no doubt it's thought first that he's working for the cause. By becoming overseer of Sacchi's estate he can provide a hideout for weapons and people should they become persons of interest as suspected rebels. But it's clear soon enough that Craig has a psychotic agenda all his own.

The film is dominated by Daniel Craig who is both fascinating and repellent in a portrayal of pure evil. Being both British and a divorcée the locals aren't a great source of help for Sacchi. Her personal maid Valerie Edmond is maimed trying to help her and Sacchi herself is disfigured.

How it all end is for you to see the film for, but this one is a must for fans of the newest James Bond in an un Bond like role.

The Mission Comes First, 21 April 2014

Renegade Girl stars Ann Savage in this Lippert Production about a Belle Starr like outlaw who after some service with Quantrill's Raiders leads an outlaw band. The story is a rehashed version not of the real Belle Starr's story, but of the 20th Century Fox film that starred Gene Tierney and Randolph Scott. Elements of that plot are definitely present.

For the tough leader of an outlaw band this woman has a lot of issues. She has a mission that tops all, to get Chief Thundercloud who is another renegade leader who has a grudge against her family the Shelbys. What the grudge is we're not told, but he's wiped out her whole family except for her.

Ann's got Union Cavalry captain Alan Curtis and fellow outlaw Russell Wade panting after her, but her mission comes first.

Renegade Girl is a poorly plotted and shoddily directed affair. Only the most confirmed B western addicts should be looking at this one.

Calling Drs. Moe, Larry, and Curly, 20 April 2014

How anyone can mistake Moe, Larry, and Curly for doctors when they're clearly the building janitors is beyond me in A Gem Of A Jam. The boys are doing a stooge like job as janitors at that.

Still while the boys are doing their thing and they do have some white coats on, three crooks break in, one of them wounded in the arm. The crooks at gunpoint ask them to take a bullet out of their pal. So they decide to take a whack at surgery and that should be taken literally.

After they dump their patient off a gurney, out of a window, and into a police car the other two start chasing the Stooges. Curly gets covered with white plaster and everyone, but his pals think he's a zombie.

Not as funny as some of the shorts, but the fans of Howard, Howard, and Fine will be pleased.

No one gets the bends, 20 April 2014

Through 12 chapters Gene Autry has to fight two sets of villains and keep his radio contract calling for broadcasts from the Melody Ranch in The Phantom Empire. Not easy since he nor anyone else suspects that there's a lost Atlantis type civilization 20,000 plus feet below the surface of Melody Ranch.

To begin with Gene is framed for the murder of his partner by phony professor J. Frank Glendon. His partner's kids Frankie Darro and Betsy King Ross believe him and stick with him throughout the serial. So do a pair of less than helpful sidekicks Smiley Burnette and Peter Potter.

The Professor is after radium which he has reason to believe there is a huge deposit on the Melody Ranch. Little does he or anyone else suspect that there's an underground city called Murania run on the nuclear power this stuff has. It's ruled by Queen Dorothy Christy and she's got a traitorous chancellor in Wheeler Oakman looking to undermine her rule. She's also got access to the surface world with her troop of Thunder Riders who take a really big elevator up and down and then ride around looking for presumably supplies that they can't get down below. They're a mysterious bunch and Darro and Ross have seen them and have formed a junior Thunder Riders club.

That elevator was really the most ridiculous part of the film. These people are taking 20,000 mile trips in a matter of minutes and no one's ears even pop, let alone getting one bad case of 'the bends'.

If this all sounds ridiculous believe me it's even more so when you see it on the big or small screen. But unlike most of the movie serials of the day at least we get a few songs from Gene Autry including the one that launched his career in country music, That Silver Haired Daddy Of Mine.

I'm not one to pass judgment really because I think movie serials in general are ridiculous. It's a genre form that thankfully is gone. But Gene Autry got a career out of this one.

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