Reviews written by registered user
markspangler1

9 reviews in total 
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48 out of 53 people found the following review useful:
Eye Opener & Good Show!, 13 December 2004

I was totally shocked when I saw this film as a kid, home sick from school. Here was one of my movie heroes, Kirk Douglas and the lovely Kim Novak at her sexiest, and they were NOT doing good things in their neighborhood. Ahhhhhhhhh... so THIS is what was happening while I was at school.

This "adult" themed soaper showed that Hollywood was beginning to change its tune when it came to dealing with issues like infidelity. Douglas plays a successful architect who starts an affair with Novak because he's, well, bored. Douglas' macho performance is tempered a bit and we really feel that he is in love with Novak. This isn't a tawdry affair, we're supposed to believe, because Douglas' performance is so strong. It isn't until late in the film do we realize that these types of affairs are incredibly damaging to all involved and that there are no heroes here.

For establishing a subtle ground-breaking subject matter, for a strong Douglas performance, for the neat cars and a really cool barbecue on the patio (hello 60s... you can just see the neighborhood gang out there, firing up the steaks, sipping on gin and tonics and watching a space shot on one of those metal portable TVs) and most of all for the gorgeous Kim Novak, this soaper has a little more depth than you'd expect.

Watch it.

6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Great show!, 20 November 2004

Only a handful of episodes were made, but man were they good! I still remember them.

A tongue-in-cheek detective show with Pesci perfect as the gumshoe. Strong supporting cast of actors who didn't take themselves too seriously and a great episode-ending plot device with Dean Martin as himself, talking to Joe. Dean didn't look so good, but it was sure nice to see him on the show after his "roasts" ended in '82. Whenever Dean was on the screen it was a lot of fun. The other supporters included Bubba Smitha and Dick Butkis, I think. The whole security firm plot landed itself to all sorts of Rockford Files type adventures and it's sad that it didn't last.

Anybody else remember this one?

11 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
If ya see it TAPE IT!, 12 September 2004

"Something Big" has always gotten a bad wrap from critics, but I have to disagree with them on this one.

This flick is good, fun, western escapism at it's non political correctness best. Just two years later Mel Brooks was hailed for a much raunchier "Blazing Saddles", but for some reason "Something Big" was deemed way over the top in 1971.

Sad, since by this point, after his "Airport" success, Dean was at the tail end of a hectic 25-year film making career. One senses that as Dean prepares to end his outlaw ways in the film, he was saying goodbye to the movie... after a continuous run of at least one film per year since 1949. Indeed, other than the Cannonball Run nonsense in the 80s, Dean would do only two more films... 1973's "Showdown" with Rock Hudson (a good one!) and 1975's crime drama "Mr. Ricco" (a MUST SEE for Dean fans).

Anyway... onto "Something Big". Dean is on his last legs as an outlaw and wants to pull one more "big" event. This one involves getting a gattling gun, trying to get Albert Salmi a wife, putting some Mexican banditos on ice and ... ah, well, it's kind of a rollicking mish mash, but it's a lot of fun on the way!

Dean is really in his element and shines as the anti-hero. Brian Keith is a hoot as a stiff calvary officer and other great supporting cast members like the great Ben Johnson and the above mentioned Albert Salmi make this one a must see. Like Dean's television show of the time, this flick doesn't take itself too seriously, but you know, deep down, the bad guys really aren't too bad and work with their own sort of code of honor. Speaking of honor, Honor Blackmun is good here too.

Other Dean Martin westerns I'd recommend are Rio Bravo, Rough Night in Jericho and especially Showdown. He did others, but The Sons of Katie Elder and Five Card Stud weren't up to par in my opinion-although they are watchable. Only Four For Texas is truly bad.

Too bad this isn't available on video or DVD. The Dean Martin catalog is seriously under represented in video and DVD and I hope that is rectified sometime soon.

Enjoy "Something Big" for what it is... a bit randier version of "Support Your Local Sheriff" type of thing, with a pretty good cast of A list players, good locations and cinematography and a funny script. The deep blue arid skies and dusty locales are truly beautiful and may have been filmed near the Superstition Mts. in Arizona where I once lived, so the movie has a special place in my heart. The best thing I can say about this film is that it made me want to be one of the characters in it, looking for an adventure and finding it in the old west. No cares, no responsibilities, just a desire, once in life to do something really, really big!

8 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
Still talking..., 28 August 2004

Proof positive of the impact of this film is the number and frequency of reviews that have been posted and that continue to be posted.

Why is this film so compelling? Nancy Kelly. While the little girl is a focal point, it is the slow unravelling of the Kelly character that makes this film so interesting. She knows. We KNOW she knows. She just won't admit it... and in the meantime, people keep getting killed.

The film also asks us... what would YOU do? Probably just what the frustrated mom does.

Eileen Eckhart won an Oscar for this and Ms. Kelly should have too. This is one creepy flick. It was made to make you feel uncomfortable and it sure does.

A murdering child. A sickly, sweet, murdering child. And each time, as we feel like killing the brat just as Henry Jones does, we meet up with Nancy Kelly and remember that this is a small, dysfunctional family. So what WOULD you do? Without her daughter, the mother's life is useless, so everything has to be based on a blood soaked lie, with the little girl at the helm.

Moral lessons... overindulgence makes for killer kids.

Great stuff!

14 out of 19 people found the following review useful:
GREAT TRASH!!!, 28 August 2004

This is an AMC, Tuesday afternoon flick that you CANNOT STOP WATCHING! Great trash! Here we see Esther Williams (and not a glimpse of a swimming suit) as a sexually harassed high school teacher. The object of her harrassment... a young, and not hair challenged John Saxon. Great sets, great love interest in the cop who comes to her aid... This is a very interesting time capsule about sensibilities in the 1950s. It is implied, if not stated, that if poor ole Esther would only give up her crazy career notions and settle down, she's not be in so much trouble!

While Saxon gives a wooden performance (in more ways than one), veteran character actor Edward Andrews shines as the boy's demented father. What a champ he was to go into this B-movie and give it his all. It's not as if he wasn't in demand as a character actor. (He was second only to Whit Bissel as the guy you knew, but couldn't name in the movies.) He was always turning up as the client on "Bewitched" or in a small supporting film role. He was perfect as the big, rotund, Babbitt-like small town banker who got his in the end.

The sets are perfect 50's, especially the school. Esther Williams gives a good performance in a Rosalind Russell script, although after this one, she hung up her bathing suit and retired to a life of luxury. Still, isn't it odd that her character is so naive? She walks about in a daze, wondering how a teenage boy could have a sexual interest in her. Even in middle age, she was quite an attractive woman. Why is this so surprising to her? Of course, this film does what ALL good, exploitive trash films do... it opens doors, says one thing while doing another and asks us to stretch our sensibilities a bit.

Next time you're home, sick from work, flip on AMC on TV. It might be 9am or 1 in the afternoon. If it's "The Unguarded Moment', the trash flickering in front of you will keep you captivated. You'll still be thinking about it at dinner time too!

6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Worth the price of admission..., 10 August 2004

I can imagine teenagers at the drive-in back in 1958. The guys probably anticipated a romantic encounter when the monster jumped out of the bushes and Mary Ellen Rogers jumped into their arms.

Sadly for our young romeos, everybody in the car was far too engrossed in the flick to do much of anything.

As everyone else has commented the title is horrible, but the film is a true classic. It's better than "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" because it personalizes the aliens-among-us theme better. Instead of a swinging bachelor like Dr. Bennell, we get a young, white couple in the suburbs doing everything they're supposed to (including being celibate 'till marriage) and it all goes to hell. How's THAT for fifties conformity?

Ever think you'd see a woman with "female" problems in a fifties sci-fi flick? What about the lecherous alkies in the out-of-town country club and at the local watering holes? I didn't think those types existed in the fifties. Everything about this film flies in the face of the Eisenhower-era, and it does so unapologetically and without remorse... another reason it bests "Snatcher", a great movie in its own right.

Special effects are pretty good. The limited use of them enhances the effectiveness. As a kid, these aliens scared the hell out of me because of what I DIDN'T see. I recall watching it when I was about seven or eight on television, and for weeks I scanned the side of the road whenever the family traveled to the edge of town. I was on the alert to see the glowing creatures that were oh-so-close to the car just on the side of the road.

Writing and direction are tight and Tom Tryon (later Gothic novelist) is good as the wooden alien, but Gloria Talbot is primo as the protagonist. This is really her film and the performance of this late actress was Oscar caliber. Yep, it's that good. Again, not too many U.S. films had a female heroine as the lead.

I hear the new DVD release doesn't have any new information and both Tryon and Talbot are dead so don't look for any interviews. No matter... buy it without shame or embarrassment. This flick still packs a wallop today and I can't imagine what the 1950s sensibilities had to say about the message of the "red scare", alcoholism (there's booze everywhere in this movie), infertility and interplanetary sex. It's like an episode of Maury Povich, but done with class and style.

Despite being on the underbill of "I Was A Teenage Werewolf", this is NOT A B-MOVIE!

3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Not bad.., 19 June 2004

This was a film that my local theatre owner showed year after year for the free "community gift" during the holidays. He'd pick an old movie he could rent for next to nothing and open up the doors of the theatre to all the kids of town and in we'd go to watch his chinzy movies and spend cash at the concession stand. The only other two films I recall taking it's place was Elvis' "Kid Galahad" and "Godzilla Vs. the Smog Monster".

Anyway, overall I remember this as being a neat Tarzan adventure... something about a stolen idol in Africa, wild natives with spears and exotic locales. Since I was a big Phantom comic book fan and I loved these types of exciting jungle adventures, I always enjoyed this flick.

Odd, though, I thought, that Mr. Dixon from Room 222 was cast as an African native, despite his being a history teacher at Walt Whitman High every week on ABC. It kinda threw me a little as a kid.

I understand that this was really a clipped-together film from episodes of the Tarzan TV series, which I really don't remember too much of. I do remember thinking Ron Ely was a cool Tarzan and I thought he was also a great Doc Savage back in 1975 when they tried to give the old pulp hero some life on the big screen. Ely was, in my book, a cool guy, and I liked this film, although I'm sure if I saw it today, it'd be a disappointment.

As a kid though, Tarzan ruled!

3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Hilarious!, 19 June 2004

The only bad thing about this movie is seeing an OBVIOUSLY uncomfortable Dana Andrews in what he knows is a major-league step down from his "Purple Heart", "Laura" and "Best Days of Our Lives" days. That's kind of sad, but it's good to see the old guy working... wondering how he ever got into this kind of exploitation flick. He seems also to be confused about those "darn 60s youth"! Why don't they just behave... plus seeing a legendary tough guy have to play it cowardly because he had an auto accident is interesting in a skin-crawling kind of way. You know the REAL Dana Andrews would've punched the lights out on these punks the first chance he got.

Somehow, though, you end up rooting for the delinquents. I'm not sure why, but there's something so stodgy and Reaganesque about the Andrew's character that you can't help but want to see these kids in their hepped-up cars pound him senseless.

And what about that sleezy hotel owner? He's a riot! So is the stilted dialogue.

Over all a fun, campy experience, if you don't mind seeing a Hollywood legend embarrass himself for the sake of a paycheck.

It's ALL about dreams..., 30 March 2004

This film, as has been previously stated, isn't really about baseball. It's about dreams (and that may or may not include baseball). That the picture succeeds so well dramatically is a tribute to Director Robinson's acumen, and this movie's ability to quickly grab the audience and suck it into the improbable happenings we see on the screen is truly remarkable.

Let's face it, there is something inherently likable about a main character who does something as silly as plow under his main crop to erect a baseball field. How can we dislike this man for this crazy action? He's too driven, too sincere. We like him too much and believe in him despite the fact that we are not quire sure there is going to be a payoff for us as filmgoers, or for Ray as our protagonist.

It's clear the metaphor about religion/faith/belief is easily attained thru the vehicle of baseball, a game that has mystic connections to our own past in our youth as individuals and in the lifeblood of the nation.

The acting is top notch from Costner on down. It seems that everyone exists in a dream-like state in this film... not unusual given the fact that the diverse characters Kinsella-Mann-Graham-Jackson all link together in this film like some sort of intergalactic connect-the-dots puzzle. The humor is well-placed too... the "wave" in the bleachers, Mann attacking Ray with an iron poker until he realizes he's a pacifist, Liotta's comments about why Ty Cobb is absent from the field. Nice to know that, even in heaven, we don't have to get along ALL the time.

What makes this a great BASEBALL movie is the fact that we cannot wait for the action to culminate back on the field. After road trips to Boston, Fenway Park, Minnesota (and trips back in time), we all come together on the silly field that Ray built on his farm, safe in the knowledge that and all will be revealed and make sense to us.

Technically the film is excellent. The cinematography is great, and the outdoor scenes are wonderful (just look at the green grass and that purple sky!) Robinson's direction is understated while making big statements- a very difficult thing to do. The music works well with the action and is properly understated. We can't wait until the next time something mysterious and magical happens and we hear the tinkle of the piano or that deep, impressive bass line on the soundtrack.

The only complaints I have is the idea that James Earl Jones' father is still alive, and that scene in Boston in which Ray is asking for directions to Thomas Mann's apartment. Did we really need to see the gas station attendant with the green Celtics hat and the huge billboard behind him screaming "BOSTON"? We knew where Ray was going... no need to hit us with an anvil.

Fortunately, this film is so well crafted that we all know where we're going too. This movie allows us to replace baseball with dreams of our own, whatever they may be. The true testament to the power of "Fields of Dreams" is the overpowering desire, all these years later, to visit the field in Dyersville, Iowa. I'm going with my nine-year-old son this summer. And I still can't figure out why. A movie that would compel somebody to do that has got to be a pretty good flick.