Reviews written by registered user
|11 reviews in total|
I caught this turkey on late night T.V. and was frankly embarrassed for Taylor and Boyer, two distinguished performers who deserved to end their careers with some kind of dignity and grace. The whole thing was like someone's home movie of a recent nightmare. The movies also illustrates the truth of the adage: "Dying is easy;comedy is hard." Robert Taylor (for one) has never shown any kind of comic flair. The best that can be said of his performance here is that he made the wise decision to play his role "straight", with no attempt to be 'funny" in the delivery of his lines. About the only appeal this film might have would be for devotees of bondage films who enjoy watching the three giggling old ladies tie up and terrorize the heroine.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This comment may contain a "spoiler.
"Dick Powell's Zane Gray Theater" was one of the highlights of my Friday night viewing back in the mid to late 1950's. I remember one episode in particular in which Powell starred as Dan Case , a kind of old west version of the flying Dutchman, who was killed in a gunfight, then doomed to wander the west, repeatedly getting into shootouts and being gunned down. The theme song sums it up: "They draw guns and then/Dan dies again/as he wanders in search of his soul". It was haunting T.V. in several senses of the term. Other episodes, with performances by journeyman actors, like Wendell Corey, Dennis Hopper and others, remain mere fragments in the memory, yet the impression remains of substantial story-telling and satisfying entertainment. I started watching at the age of seven; withing two years I was reading Zane Gray novels like "the Thundering Herd" (having cut my teeth on the comic book associated with the show).
I stumbled upon this gem by accident while channel surfing one day. Pausing briefly on Chicago's public television station I saw a gangly young man cracking walnuts in his large hands and quickly realized that he was portraying George Washington as a young militia colonel. The film realistically portrays young Washington's agonized learning curve as he unwittingly sets off a global conflict between Britain and France by attacking a Fench army detachment somewhere near present-day Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. The frequently repeated theme song's,refrain, "heroes aren't born, heroes are made" is a fitting expression of the movie's theme. Washington makes many blunders but he learns from them and his character is hardened in advance for the future challenges that await him during the American Revolution.
In "Top Secret Affair" both Kirk Douglas and Susan Hayward were allowed to do the things that they did best. They were respectively cast as intense, inner directed, talented people in search of soul mates. their initial antagonism (primarily on Hayward's part with Douglas oblivious to it) is based on her misunderstanding of Douglas' true character and personal qualities. In reality both are highly patriotic , driven individuals with only the good of their country at heart. They are perfect partners with matching vitality and values. This is one instance where Hollywood started over from scratch, ignoring the contents of a good book but creating an original piece of light entertainment in the process.
When I was six years old this show was my idea of high adventure in exotic places! I still think that I became an avid reader of adventure fiction because of the mental stimulation I derived from the globe trotting exploits of Tim Kelly and Tubo smith. If memory serves the writing was first rate for a syndicated half hour show and the acting was enough to convince me that the show meant business. I've always had an irrational attachment to 7-Up as a soft drink because it was the sponsor for the show. Even the theme music was calculated to tickle the adrenal gland. I first learned about volcanic eruptions from one episode ; in another the two heroes hunted whales in open rowboats. In still another episode they brought a Latin American bandit on horseback to justice. Today I teach Global Studies in a High School because "Soldiers of Fortune" I wish it was available in syndication today.
From the opening notes of its musical theme to the last moment of its (standard QM) epilogue "Dan August" provided energetic entertainment. The opening credits alone provided more action than most of the other shows on TV at the time. The supporting cast was superb. Richard Anderson made a great boss. Those who found Norman Fell an unlikely casting choice as a cop probably never saw him as "Detective Meyer Meyer" on 87th Precinct". He was sound , steady back-up for Burt Reynolds's volatile, hyperkinetic style. I miss the days when they used to rebroadcast this series as a summer replacement! Watching Reynolds sliding across floors and rolling over car hoods after bad guys was a hoot! Every week he could be counted on to leap off a tall building onto his prey!
Up until this season I have considered "House" the best drama on television. However, the Detective Tritter sub-plot seems to be sapping the wit and energy from each episode in which he appears. This is no insult to the actor who plays the vindictive policeman (on the contrary, it is a compliment to his convincing performance). The problem is one of dramatic effect and plausibility: Tritter seems to work without supervision, carrying out a personal vendetta against a nationally famous hospital (whose board and administration must have some pull in governmental circles). The courts and legal profession seem to have abdicated any regulatory role as well. The writers need to take the brakes off Hugh Laurie and let his wit and nastiness have full rein again! At the very least some plot device should allow House to occasionally ruffle Tritter's calm facade (as he did to the black billionaire last year).
I saw this film on T.V. as a college student taking a study break from marathon reading sessions to meet rapidly approaching course deadlines. This rare mix of comedy and action ,set in an 18th century frontier that had not often been portrayed in film, was an unexpected pleasure which quickly refreshed my punchy, sleep-deprived brain. Bushrod Jentry's fighting skills are genuine but his ability to intimidate potential opponents with accounts of the damage he has done to previous opponents is priceless comedy- made even more delicious by his disguising his boasts as prayers for advanced forgiveness from God! Victor Mc Laglen(as his myopic future father-in-law) Alan Hale Jr. (as Jentry's blow-hard competitor for a lady's favors) and a youthful James Arness (as a fellow frontier brawler) also add texture and energy to the tale. Better yet, the fight scenes against realistic looking Shawnees (who appear to mean business when they attack) accentuates the comedy with a reminder that it takes place on the margins of a life and death struggle. Finally, the cheerful theme song adds a care-free tone to the soundtrack-perfectly in keeping with Bushrod's approach to life.
I saw this film as a teenager and immediately recognized it as the real thing. This movie had more atomic weight in its characters,setting, plot and theme than most other films of its time (and the year 1950 was indeed a most impressive time for westerns). Its frank and honest treatment of racism and injustice rang true from beginning to end. Taylor was ,as usual, a tough and gritty hero with three dimensions. Louis Calhern filled the role of chief villain and head bigot impeccably.The film was tough, honest, gritty and real; moreover, it was totally devoid of sentimentality or clichés. I wonder if it wouldeven have been made just two years later-during the McCarthy era.Robert Taylor had clearly evolved from a "pretty boy" leading man of the 1930s into a believable ,masculine hero for a tough-minded postwar film environment.
Probably too downbeat and "adult" for its times, the series soon
vanished from network screens. At the age of eleven, having been
beguiled by advance advertising of the series, I was bewildered when it
disappeared before I could locate it on the schedule. In retrospect it
seems like the ideal vehicle to make Brian Keith a top star-something
that never quite happened.
It seems a brilliant touch of writing to make Dave Blassengame (what a name for a hero) an illiterate, itinerant cowpoke with the soul of a knight errant. He is Palidan without the cultural overlay. Guest appearances by distinguished journeyman actors like Slim Pickens, Michael Ansara, Robert Culp and others too numerous to include in this space make "the Westerner" a treat for me-especially when I had to wait forty-five years for it to appear on cable T.V. .
|Page 1 of 2:|| |