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More Like the Avengers Than 77 Sunset Strip
Without giving away too much - this episode reminds me of one or two from the Avengers with Diana Rigg. The set up is a kidnapped agent landing in a strange place with messages and/or instructions to be discovered. In this case it's a ghost town with cowboy mannequins, hanging ropes, a hotel with a ledger book signed by Jesse James, etc. Private eye Stu Bailey spends the episode trying to figure out why he's been taken there. It's a clever episode - ahead of it's time for sure.
It wasn't until I saw the credits for this episode that I realized Efrem Zimbalist Jr was the only actor on screen. He does speak to a few people on the phone, and there is a voice over a loudspeaker so it's not readily apparent.
They Don't Make Shows Like This Anymore!
A 'slice of life' drama - Naked City was filmed on the streets of New York. This wonderfully acted episode was a unique story of a lonely dying traffic dept. worker and her budding romance with Harry Belaver's regular cop character (Frank Arcaro). The scenes with Arcaro and his Italian mother reminded of Marty with Ernest Borgnine. I loved the party scene with Arcaro's Italian relatives dancing and his mother disapproving of the "Irish" Maureen Stapleton (playing a 48 year old at 38!). Wonderful scenes set in gritty apartment and office buildings, restaurants, bars, bowling alleys, etc. I suspect a lot of the extras WERE real New York people - waitresses and salespeople, etc. This particular episode was extremely touching, but the great thing about this series is that every episode was completely different. Well written stories about immigrants, bums, serial killers, lonely people, vengeful spouses, oddballs and eccentrics - well, like they say: "there are eight million stories in the Naked City and this was one of them!"
The Gift of the Magi (1978)
Lovely "Lost" Musical!
This is a musical version of Gift of the Magi - the famous O. Henry story. The music was fantastic (for those who love Broadway show-tune style music), and the storyline credible and quite touching. Debby Boone and John Rubenstein played the young married couple - and while Debby's acting would improve in later years, her voice was glorious - and Rubenstein was completely convincing as the young Irish husband of the Italian immigrant Boone (who looks more Irish than he does LOL).
Where is this?? It would be a natural to rerun every Christmas season - like so many other vintage Christmas specials. As far as I know it was aired once in the 1970s on NBC and never again! It's very frustrating to remember something so entertaining and enjoyable, but not be able to see it!
This movie is so bad it's jaw-dropping. How did Natalie Wood and George Segal agree to be in this mess? Maybe she thought it would be critically acclaimed like Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice - her earlier film about bored upper-class marrieds. No one in the entire film acts remotely like a real human being. Valerie Harper in an unflattering blonde hairdo tries way too hard to be sexy; Bob Dishy, Marilyn Sokol, Dick Benjamin and Alan Arbus play embarrassing roles requiring them to complain non-stop about their sex lives, and Dom Delouise does a bizarre sleazy dance with his hooker-wife! However on the positive side, because it's SOOO bad, it's actually entertaining. Check out the BAD perms on almost everyone - male and female. And how often do you see a star like Natalie Wood say ass****, the f-word, watch a young woman strip naked, AND complain about her period all in the same movie?!
Kiss Me Deadly (1955)
Amazingly Modern for a 50s film
By 1950s standards this film is totally cutting edge. Just off the top of my head here is a list of things in this film that were VERY uncommon in the 50s: 1. African-Americans and non-Americans in several supporting roles 2. Main character has an answering machine (yes it's a giant wall-mounted reel-to-reel, but still..) 3. Location shooting (lots of exteriors and cool cars) 4. Risqué shots of bare legs, sexy actions by female characters, etc. It's implied the characters have a sex life (in most 1950s movies no one had sex EVER). 5. Violence - OK - there is no GRAPHIC violence, but lots of implied violence. Some of the camera angles are quite modern and unusual (punches into the camera, walking into camera to end scene, female character stepping over male characters outstretched legs, etc.) Censorship of EVERYTHING was the norm in the 50s. I don't know how this one made it past the censors but I'm glad it did - it's a quirky gem for film noir fans LK
Pastor Greg (2005)
Terrible Production Values
The budget for season two appears to be less than for season one! Loud humming can be heard in all the church scenes! Sometimes the voices sound muffled or not properly miked. What is up with this?? And don't get me started on the choppy editing and bad slap-sticky acting at times, combined with obvious non-actors in minor roles! If you don't have enough money to do something properly - why do it in such a shabby way and invite certain criticism?? Also, why are major characters being replaced and recast in season two?? This also indicates chaos behind the scenes. I know the creators feel they have a "calling from God" but does a calling indicate doing things you can't afford? On a positive note, something about this series keeps drawing me back - maybe it's the "train-wreck" quality, or maybe the sincerity of all involved is somewhat appealing.