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9 reviews in total 
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Navy Spy (1937)
2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Good Nagel, not so good else, 24 January 2011

This is the second of four Alan O'Connor movies made in hopes of having a Boston Blackie type of success. This is not my favorite of the four, but Nagel looks more comfortable here than in his others. He dreadfully out-acts everyone else, and I don't mean overacts. His talent and natural voice would be smooth in this type of role, or even a more mysterious Lone Wolf (William Warren) role, although his facial structure lends him more to the Bob Hope type. Why am I going through all of this? Because, at this time in his career, Nagel was trying to re-find himself or re-launch his career -- without the help of the studios.

Dressed to the Nines, he makes his partner, Eleanor Hunt, look like a wilted flower pot. I mean, Torchy Blane is not that hot, and Torchy Blane, even she is not.

The story is OK. Some sailor gets kidnapped for his secret papers. Nagel and Bobbie run them down each using their talents in their own way. This actually is something other serial detectives lack -- sharing the case with someone else, on an almost equal level.

I've been waiting to see this installment, as it is the last of the four to be made available. It's available on Amazon as a DVD and a Video on Demand. Many of the Sinister Cinema movies are going to VOD, and there are plenty neat little early thirties Brit thrillers, so if it were not for Nagel, this would be much further down my list. The other three Alan O'Connors are available for free download at many archive places.

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Mild bit of nonsense, intrigue, with an out to sea feel, 23 May 2009

I first tried to tape this on the old SPN cable channel that also offered gems like "Port of Missing Girls". It is almost a light version of this movie. Girl gets in trouble with the law; she stows away on William Boyd's ship. Crewmember Edward Gargan is there with nice comic relief, as well as Harold Huber, who must have needed a few bucks when this was being filmed. Though everyone seems to be in trouble here, they have no problem avoiding the law until they want to be confronted by them.

All of that said, it is an enjoyable little cruise with no harm no foul. The ship interior shots are really neat, and for a brief moment in time you get that Arrrrrrrrh, me bucko feel.

Though by any standards, this film doesn't even attain average, I enjoyed it and will look at it again and again, maybe as the first billing in a double feature with "Port of Missing Girls" or "Woman Who Came Back" as the main feature. Definitely much better at two in the morning. That and your deck of "51" will get you through to dawn.

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
I guess no one's read the book, 31 May 2006

To look at a movie from 1931 and say that it has over-the-top acting would be similar to some uncomplicated creature from the past looking at a modern movie and proclaiming too much sex and/or confusing action sequences. I'll place myself among the creatures of the past. Gilbert Parker's "The Right of Way" was performed on stage seven years before any of the movie releases. It comes off a little stagy, but didn't most of the early talkies?

The movie took the usual liberties with a novel, changing a few things here and there - then squeezing it into sixty-five minutes. However, the feel of the book is intact. Nagel's handsome looks and seemingly over-the-top acting personify "Beauty" Steele.

Though I cannot claim someone could have done this better, some of Nagel's best moments kept me riveted to the screen.

Loretta Young played her part well, but I was more impressed with Fred Kohler's performance, next to Conrad Nagel's. I think that had it been a longer movie it would have been very fitting to dwell more on the friendship of this former snob and this lowly, almost hermit-like man (Jo in the movie). There were a few sub-plots that came together very nicely, and I would have liked to have seen a little more of the aftermath that the book explains nicely.

There is much in here that is relevant to our modern society, as well as our very soul. There is much more in the book as well. The book is available freely online, but watch out for typos. I thought enough of the movie to buy a copy of the book, so that speaks for something.

It's easy to see why people feel the acting is a little much, but hey! I like Calamity Jane.

One nice thing about old movies is that you don't have scripts that play to the actors. Were a Tom Cruise (God forbid!) to be in this movie, I could imagine all sorts of personal asides and thinly veiled messages.

Lastly, this movie made me a fan of Nagel, though most of the rest of his serious work was already behind him.

Try to see a little more deeply into the monocle of Charles "Beauty" Steele and check out a wonderful romance book!

"Roots" (1977)
25 out of 32 people found the following review useful:
There is something for everyone, thanks to Roots, 7 January 2006

I normally don't start out this way, but I feel it matters. I am a Southern White, and I have not seen this movie up until the other night.

I thought this mini-series was one of the top three or four I have ever seen. Throughout the years since this came out, I never really bothered, thinking it would be simply white bashing. It was not. I felt it might be in contradiction with the kind people and relatives I grew up knowing. It was not.

I feel that this mini-series realistically blends black history in with the history we have been fed from the Northern side as well as the Southern side.

Most southerners were not slave owners. They were represented. I think this movie strove to show the kindness in people, as well as the darkness. I look at the South with fondness, but I know that what this movie portrayed was true - in spirit, if not fact.

Sometime after this originally came out there was some controversy over Haley faking some of this. I thought (at the time), A HA! It's bull! Again, remember that I had not watched it. Upon seeing it I realized that though some of this might be fiction, it certainly rang true.

What I didn't like about the movie: Watching Sandy Duncan and Leslie Uggams play teenagers. The acting was okay. Duncan reminded me of that spoiled brat in Little House on the Prairie. My guess is that Duncan was cast so she would look like an adult child and not seem out of place compared to Uggams. It is perhaps that during the seventies Hollywood did not want to take such a chance on a younger African-American to play Kizzy. It was an important role, and our society had not allowed Blacks to come into their own. Hollywood seems to want to force their views on society, yet they are often the last to come into line.

John Amos, whom I really like, seemed to be good and bad for his role. Someone said he sounded like he was in "Good Times" at some points. I don't feel that way. I do feel that his dialect seemed slightly out of place during some moments. He did not detract from the story, though. He carried on Burton's eternal fight for freedom with the same bullheadedness.

Ben Vereen: What can I say? When he started doing Variety Shows in the Seventies, I really admired him. He could play instruments, as well as sing, dance, and act. He does not disappoint here. I was so sad when he lost his role in Silk Stalkings due to an accident. Thankfully he has recovered over time.

Madge Sinclair: What an actress! and beautiful woman, to boot. I didn't know she had leukemia during the days I watched her on Trapper John. There were some episodes where she seemed older than her years, though always beautiful. In Roots she manages to capture and portray an inner beauty and let it shine through her bondage.

Most of the white actors were well cast, Duncan aside. I didn't realize how busy Lloyd Bridges was doing so many mini-series. He makes you hate him here, so he did his job.

Ed Asner had a very poignant remark about no one really being free. It was that he felt he was becoming a slave to his job. Please do not think I am comparing the miseries of forced slavery to a large scheme of celestial bondage, but it was pointed out in this film, that at the end of the war, freedom simply meant going from slavery into some other forced form of servitude. I'm retired, yet I often feel bound to government restrictions and the things I am forced to do routinely to simply maintain my retirement. The African-Americans added to Asner's moment by later saying that when someone died, the smile on his face meant he was finally free.

When Roots came out I remember the cries of many saying, "We now have our history!" Yes, and it was blended well into all of our histories, as I have mentioned. About five years ago, when my daughter married a man of color, he made her watch Roots. She asked me what I thought of him doing that. My response was that she needed to look at all things objectively, and know that most of life is a shade of gray. I also mentioned that had I been the same city, I would have liked to have viewed it with them. Now I can at least share my thoughts and hear my son-in-law's thoughts as well.

My biggest complaint is that the DVD is already out of print. HUH? One of the greatest mini-series ever made and I have to pay scalpers' fees for a used copy? (I borrowed my copy from the library) Please, someone! put this in a continual printing, and PLEASE, do not do what you did with others (cutting whole sections out to save a buck).

This movie (along with North and South) should be required viewing for all people. For the African-Americans, this movie should be made available forever, so that it does not simply fade into folk and family lore the way that Kunta-Kinte did - with only bits and pieces remaining.

Gettysburg (1993)
1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
This is no Gods and Generals and Sheen is no Lee, much less..., 2 January 2006

I still have to give this film an 8 out of 10 because of all it is to history, but.....

Martin Sheen had no business playing Robert E. Lee. Duvall and William Schallert did the role proud. Was Lee flawed? Yes, we all are. Could Lee's judgment have been so grossly in error? Yes, but I doubt it was so pathetic as Sheen portrayed him. Come on! Give me someone taller than a elf.

Stephen Lang is riveting, which may have spiritually trained him for his role as Stonewall Jackson in G&G. He reminds me of the old timers I met in Kentucky as a child: ever positive; ever intense, in a kind sort of way.

Jeff Daniels took a little getting used to, only because I saw G&G first. He certainly looks the part. In this role he is quite a bit more believable than in G&G.

Turner's appearance is less of a pain in the butt here than his goofy smile in his other film. That said, praise God that someone cares about bringing these movies out. I'll forgive him his Hitchcock moments.

This movie, on the whole, took a little more getting into than Gods and Generals. However, it did suck you in. It did its job. It was a tale of the North, though. G&G gave our glorious South back some honour. It reminded us the meaning of living and dying in Dixie.

Frankly, give me Stephen Lang, Stonewall, and G&G all day long. Gettysburg makes good filler in between G&G and North and South viewings.

8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Wonderful and offbeat for its time, 29 November 2005

I can't recall if this show was live, but it was very stage like. It was about a young couple that went through all of the mini-trials that newlyweds face. Sometimes it was light drama; other times Robert Morse might be singing.

I also recall that when they had a baby they did a show from the baby's point of view.

Each show offered its own uniqueness.

The endings always came out as two people in love, a la Robert and Laura Petrie, with a little more sentiment that could touch your heart.

I don't know that I would be interested in this being on DVD, but I would sure love to see a couple of the episodes. It was a good family show, too tame (wonderfully so) by today's standards.

15 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
Perfect movie for 4 AM, 14 November 2005

I became a Harry Carey fan because of this movie, having not really noticed him before. I think he was great in his simplicity, and since my first viewing of this on SPN (one of the original satellite stations)I have always paid attention to movies he was in.

I wish there were a way to give a movie like this a distinctive score, say a 5.3; something to denote perfection in its unique way, yet let the reader know that it's no Titanic. The scenery is cheap, save for maybe the opening number, which has Della singing in a nightclub. Milburn Stone is B all the way.

It takes you on a foggy boat ride to ports unknown and back, with a seedy nightclub along the way.

This movie has its intended comic moments, and some moments which are made comic over the passage of time.

I happen to like this kind of film, and go out of my way to pick up copies of everyone (like this) of interest. Most of these movies were made in a day (long gone) of Deco Nightclubs, Offices, and Hotels. It's a style long gone, and when someone in the modern era uses Deco it really stands out, like Jack Palance's office in Batman. In movies like the one I am reviewing, Deco was the order of the day. Even the cheapest movies had that wonderful style.

This movie is available on DVD from Amazon; copy is not that great, but that sort of adds to it. For seven bucks, pick it up and......

Sit back, sip some coffee and forget about CGI.

Ghost Ship (1952)
18 out of 22 people found the following review useful:
Fairly tight little story, 1 November 2005

You can't look at this movie and compare to the blockbusters, but as a B flick it's pretty good, even up at the top (in my mind). The story of the ghost is told in flashbacks and through a séance. The acting is pretty good, though the stars are not memorable. It's almost like watching an old TV show, though I more liken it to "The Woman Who Came Back" (1945). Someone just wrote a nice little mystery with some adequately spooky moments, and that is about all there is to it.

It starts out with a couple trying to buy an older steamboat. The man selling it to them warns them of its haunting. You see moments of the inquiry and story that led to the haunting, but it is not until the séance that you start to get a clue as to what caused the haunting.

This movie has nothing to do with movies of the same title, one from the forties and one from a few years ago.

2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Possibly James Garner's best role, 1 August 2005

James Garner (to me) is the king of flippancy. He always has a cute answer or some nonchalant way of handling things.

I saw this after Dead Man's Walk and before Lonesome Dove. I had not read the books, so I feel my take on the acting is not jaded by expectations.

On first glance I felt the part was weak. Then, after seeing Lonesome Dove and Return to Lonesome Dove, I realized that Garner did right by the part of Woodruff Call. I have never seen him so serious or non-contrived. Even his voice had that slight whine that Tommy Lee Jones had. John Voight had it to an extreme.

On second watching I could see the loose ends that were tied, so I was pretty happy overall. I am not sure why such an inaccuracy as Judge Bean dying "not according to history" was allowed.

For the record, this movie is second to Dead Man's Walk and a tad above Lonesome Dove. I hate to stomp on those that think LD was the greatest mini-series ever made. I did enjoy it, but had to have some extra coffee to stay awake. That was not the case with Laredo or Dead Man's Walk.