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Trouble Man (1972)
Trouble Man should have had a sequel
1972 is the premiere year of some of the best so-called "BLAXPLOITATION" films. Underrated stage, film and television actor Robert Hooks plays the character of "T". "T" is a super cool Brother that bends the rules while getting the job done for his unsavory, criminal clients who can't go to the police when trouble arises in there criminal underworlds.
"T" is asked by the salt and pepper criminals, Chalky and Pete to solve a series of dice game holdups only for "T" to realize that he is part of criminal underworld takeover between up and coming hoodlums and an established Black Los Angeles gangster that goes the name of "MR.BIG". By the end of this film "T" will have to fight his way out of a web of murder, thievery and deceit. "TROUBLE MAN" warranted a sequel but one was never made. This film also includes an excellent score by "MARVIN GAYE". I put this movie right up there with "SHAFT", "SUPERFLY", "BLACK CAESAR" and "THE MACK". Great performances also by Paula Kelly, Paul Winfied, Ralph Waite and Julius Harris. I rate this film **** stars/excellent. It's on video. GET IT!
The Atlanta Child Murders (1985)
Good Movie, not quite an accurate portrayal of Atlanta political establishment
The Atlanta Child Murders, a 1985 CBS mini series of the week is a good movie, but not an accurate portrayal of the political establishment of this still growing city. Former Mayor Andrew Young tried to ban this movie from airing the city of Atlanta and the surrounding counties. I am a resident of Decatur, GA 10 miles outside of Atlanta. I was a seven year old boy when the first of 27 bodies of young Black teenage boys and two Black girls were found in 1979.
As of this writing Dekalb County Police Chief Graham just five days ago announced that he has reopened the cases of five murders of Black teenage boys that was on the original list of the murdered children. Chief Graham believes Wayne Williams could not have committed these murders. The Atlanta Child Murders screenplay was written by Abby Mann. Mann was a strong supporter along with writer James Baldwin and Civil Rights attorney William Kunstler of Wayne Williams innocence.
The Atlanta Child Murders film captures masterfully the fear and outrage that gripped the city (Atlanta) that eventually hosted the 1996 Olympics Summer Games. Mann attempted not to offend the politicians such as Former Governor Busby and Former Mayor Maynard Jackson whom were both in office at the time of the child murders and whom had the most to lose politically if these murders was not quickly solved. In my opinion Wayne Williams did not commit all of these murders. He would have had to been Superman to get around the city to commit all of these murders in the time frame the authorities was finding bodies. Wayne Williams was only convicted of killing two men who was considered the last victims of the list.
I give this movie ***stars. Good, but not excellent. This movie is not on DVD.
James Cagney, one great actor
James Cagney: That Yankee Doodle Dandy, a 1981 PBS documentary explores the career of one of Hollywood's most influential actors of the 1930,s, 1940,s and 1950's. This documentary accompanied the release of James Cagney's last film "RAGTIME" (1981) which ironically he came out of 20yrs of retirement to appear in. James Cagney: That Yankee Doodle Dandy is not a great documentary on Cagney, but it definitely sparks interest in the subject.
This film is told through narration from actor Treat Williams, top dance demonstrations from actor/dancer Bill O'Connor, film clips and an interview with the late, great James Cagney himself. I recommend this documentary as good reference material, but I wait for the day that a well researched documentary will be done on such a talented, charismatic and one of kind actor.
I gave this film *** good/could have been better. I saw it on video in the 1990's. Can't say it is still available.
Half Nelson (1985)
Half Nelson, one silly and fun show to watch
Half Nelson, a 1985 NBC mid season replacement starred Joe Pesci of Raging Bull and Goodfellas fame. Half Nelson is probably one of the funniest and silliest private eye shows to ever hit prime time television. I put Half Nelson right up there with Police Squad Files, a 1982 ABC television series which became the Leslie Nielson Naked Gun comedies of the 1990's and the forgotten t.v. show Cop Rock.
Joe Pesci should have taken a page of Leslie Nielson book and turned Half Nelson into a successful movie franchise. The elements was all there: outrageous dialogue, outrageous car chases, over sized guns with long barrels, and outrageous, but funny as hack story lines. Half Nelson also starred Fred Williamson of Black Caesar and Three The Hard Way fame. I have not seen this show since it originally aired.
I give this show *** stars-good. It is not my knowledge on DVD or have been released on DVD.
City in Fear (1980)
David Janssen gives a superb final screen performance
City in Fear, a 1980 ABC made for television movie,which is loosely based on the Son of Sam murders, is television at it's best. Anyone who gets the chance to view this movie will be in for a treat. The viewer can't lose with veteran actors like Robert Vaughn, Susan Sullivan, Mickey Rourke, Perry King and the forever amazing, but often underrated actor, David Janssen.
David Janssen would have been an Oscar nominee in films had he lived. The character of Vince Perrino played by Janssen is that of a frustrated, cynical alcoholic columnist, who is a man of many excesses one of them being alcohol. Janssen is hired by a wealthy Robert Vaughn, who recalls Janssen as a legendary columnist, who he (Vaugh)hopes can revamp a Los Angeles newspaper that has just been brought by Vaughn, when a series of murders of young women begins, that will by the end of the movie create a reign of terror in the city.
Watching this movie is almost like gradually seeing the curtains close in on the career of one of the finest actors in film and television. David Janssen died of a heart attack on February 13, 1980, he was 48 years old. City in Fear was a three (3) hour movie of the week. City in Fear aired on ABC a month after his death.
City in Fear is like two movies in one for it gives the viewer deep insight how newspapers and television news (Media) will go to extreme lengths to sell papers in a time of a national crisis like Son of Sam. It closely follows the killer's moves, played brilliantly for that time in television by Mickey Rourke whose victims are young women. Rourke would go on to make successful films such as 91/2 Weeks, Angel Heart and Barfly in the 1980's. David Janssen performance is in a class all by it's self, no one in this film can touch him. In my opinion David Janssen should have been awarded an Emmy posthumously for City in Fear. This movie was on video in the 1990's, additional copies may can still be found. City in Fear is not on DVD. Check this movie out, you will not be disappointed. R.I.P. David JANSSEN.
The Reverend Jesse Jackson, great, flawed, and a legend in his own time
The Pilgrimage Of Jesse Jackson, a 1996 PBS documentary accompanied a book written by Southern writer Marshall Frady. Frady serves as the narrator in this film. The Pilgrimage of Jesse Jackson digs deep into the events that have shaped the life of the Reverend Jesse Jackson. The viewer will see how Jesse became the son of a teenage, South Carolina beauty queen, whose hopes of becoming an opera singer was extinguished after she became pregnant by South Carolina businessman Norah Robinson.
Jesse was known as Norah's illegitimate child, who was raised by a decent janitor that his mother actually married and adopted the last name Jackson. The Pilgrimage of Jesse Jackson proves to great effect that Jackson had to prove himself and to others that he was more, much more than the abandoned child of Norah Robinson. This excellent documentary follows Jesse Jackson from his childhood in Greenville, South Carolina to his unsuccessful fight and march in Atlanta against the Republican Party's Contract For America.
The Pilgrimage of Jesse Jackson presents his character flaws like his obsession with the media, Jackson's argument with Martin Luther King days before his assassination because of insubordination, him lying about getting blood on King's shirt after King was shot, abandoning protests and movements when the glare of the spotlight (media) put its attention else where in the world, the alleged statement about Jews while running for President in 1984 and Jackson's near victory within a few hundred, thousand votes for the Democratic Presidential Nomination in 1988. The Pilgrimage of Jesse Jackson provides a well balanced portrait of a man who has done great things, but also have made his mistakes as we all do.
I give this film **** star/excellent. Sorry the documentary is not on video, but request PBS to show it.
Hypnotize Mind's DJ Paul, Juicy J and Project Pat film debut
Choices, a 2001 straight to video release stars Memphis, Tennessee rap legends DJ Paul and Juicy J. It also stars Project Pat, a charismatic actor in his own right, Playa Pancho, and La Chat. I thought before I saw the video that it would be a routine movie about guns, drugs, and killing. I was wrong, Choices is a movie about one mans struggle to overcome a criminal past, poverty, the temptations of his neighborhood friends and the allure of quick money.
The music, an array of hard hitting, haunting songs from the Hypnotize Minds Record catalog gives this film a definite, realistic street edge and exaggerated insight to how dem boyz live in Memphis. The song "Choice Of Colors" by soul legend Curtis Mayfield is used to great effect at the beginning of this film, for it gives the film somewhat of a 1970's retro feel. The main character played by Player Pancho goes through so much in this film, that it is easy for the viewer to identify with him and his struggles.
This film has a surprising ending that demonstrates yes we do have choices, but do we really have a choice in how we end up in life, because of the choices of other people. I give this film **** stars/excellent Music:***1/2 tight. It is on dvd, Check it out.
Montgomery Clift (1983)
Montgomery Clift, troubled and haunted film star of the 1950's that begot Brando, Dean, and Shakur.
I first saw the documentary Montgomery Clift in 1989. This film was part of a series of well produced documentaries on Hollywood rebel actors, released on video. Films on Marlon Brando and James Dean was also apart of the series titled as The Rebels: Montgomery Clift, The Rebels: Marlon Brando and The Rebels: James Dean. These films was produced and directed by Claudio Masenza.
The Rebels: Montgomery Clift is by far one of the most haunting documentaries I have ever seen on a public figure. This film examines in great detail Montgomery Clift lifelong bisexuality, his 1956 car accident that badly disfigured his face, his extensive drug use, his domineering mother, his relationships with Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe, and his feud with director John Huston, that destroyed his film career. The viewer will probably be left with a sympathetic, weird feeling of being happy that Montgomery Clift doesn't have to suffer anymore. Clift existed in a time where people had to hide their sexual attractions, unless conventional. It seemed that the film was saying that by Clift hiding his bisexuality in 1940's and 50's Hollywood, a town that built up macho images of men actors lead to his decline in his film career, which lead to more destructive behavior in later years.
This film is a must for people interested in studying method acting and its innovators, that in essence was the beginning of modern day cinema, that would reach it's peak in the 1960's and 70's. Marlon Brando, James Dean, Rod Steiger, John Cassavetes, Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, Martin Sheen, Robert De Niro, and Tupac Shakur would have never have had a chance with their styles of acting and what each of these actors eventually conveyed to an audience, if one man had of decided to remain a gifted, unique stage actor on university campuses and on Broadway, instead of going to California to do pictures,which at the time in the 1930's and 40's, a not so celebrated luxury amongst stage actors and actresses. That man is Montgomery Clift. Clift was the beginning of method acting, that is used to great effect in films like Red River (1948), The Search (1950), From Here To Eternity (1953) and Indiscretions of an American Wife (1954). Actor John Garfield (1913-1952) is considered by many historians to be the first rebel actor in cinema.
I give this film **** stars/ excellent. It was on video in the late 80's. I haven't seen it on any video rental racks lately. Check it out if you can.
Hollywood Backstage (1964)
The Entertainment Tonight of the 1960's
I first saw Hollywood Backstage in the mid 1990's on American Movie Classics channel, before they sadly changed their format. Hollywood Backstage was a syndicated television series that followed the comings and goings of Hollywood's brightest stars such Katherine Hepburn, Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor, Natalie Wood, Marlon Brando, Jane Fonda, Robert Redford, Groucho Marx,as well as movie executives like Jack Warner, Warner Brothers Pictures to name a few.
Hollywood Backstage was the Entertainment Tonight of the 1960's. The series happened to film the real life heroics of Steve McQueen putting out a fire that had erupted at 20th Century Fox studios during the premiere of his film Nevada Smith(1966). Hollywood Backstage probably would have lasted longer, I don't think the public was ready to see the excitement of movie premieres, celebrity golf tournaments, award ceremonies, celebrity car races, and celebrity charities during the turbulent 60's.
Hollywood Backstage makes an excellent period piece now, for it showed the innocence of a town (Hollywood) whose innocence vanished in the 1970's. I rate this television series **** stars/excellent. Someone should write American Movie Classics and ask them to run the show again.
The Michael Jackson magic and craze of the 1970's and 80's
Michael Jackson: The Legend Continues, a 1988 Showtime on Motown cable special that also included a documentary on Marvin Gaye, is one of the few documentaries on the subject of Michael Jackson that is totally focused on his extraordinary music career. James Earl Jones provides the narration, that is used to great effect, especially to make points on his career milestones. I consider this a fun documentary to watch about Jackson, before he became known as wacko,jacko to the press.
The viewer will see a montage of footage of Michael performing as a member of the Jackson 5ive, performing their hit songs of the day, when he went solo with the Off The Wall album, and the monster that his album Thriller became around the world. The documentaries also shows how success put Michael Jackson in the company of some of Hollywood's most celebrated movie stars of the 30's, 40's, and 50's. Michael Jackson: The Legend Continues features people like Quincy Jones, Sammy Davis Jr., Elizabeth Taylor, Gene Kelly, and Sophie Loren.
Michael Jackson: The Legend Continues is a great documentary that will remind the viewer of what a brilliant, great entertainer Michael Jackson was considered by many people the world over in 1988, long before the scandals started to rock the foundation of Michael Jackson's carefully, constructed, innocent image. I give this film **** stars excellent. The music will make one go searching for his music both when he was with the Jackson 5ive and when he went solo. I saw this on the Showtime cable network and on video. I can't say it is easy to find this title on video today. Check it out if possible.