Reviews written by registered user
mrsastor

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48 reviews in total 
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5 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
Not up to Disney's standards, 4 August 2008
3/10

I must agree with the reviewer who said "Dean Jones was just collecting another paycheck," that pretty much sums it up.

I realize this is Disney and did not go into it expecting Oscar worthy drama, but in our home we really enjoyed the earlier films "The Absent-Minded Professor" and "The Shaggy Dog". Family friendly, and entertaining for the adults as well as the kids, as were a number of Disney films throughout the late 1950's to the 1970's.

"The Ugly Dachshund" does not measure up. I recently found the DVD for only a few dollars and remembered going to see this at the drive-in back when it was new. And we had dachshunds back in the 1960's, so I was expecting some happy memory associations. What a disappointment. There are a few cute sequences of the dogs making a mess out of the house, nothing that hasn't been captured equally well on television sitcoms of the day. Outside of this, the story is boring, the couple don't like each other and are trapped in an unhappy marriage, the film manages to drudge up remarkably little sympathy for even the dogs.

I don't think we'll watch this one again anytime soon. If you're looking for wholesome Disney family films of this era, I'd recommend The Shaggy Dog, Freaky Friday, The World's Greatest Athelete, or even The Barefoot Executive. All of them far better than this trouser cloud. This one is a dull and unhappy expenditure of 90 minutes with little entertainment to offer.

9 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Excellent film from a usually weak genre, 10 July 2008
7/10

Youth Runs Wild is an unusually good film for this genre, and given it's short running time and engaging story-telling, I recommend it.

Most Hollywood films of the war era make every effort to depict American family life on the home-front as unrealistically perfect. Those filmmakers who strayed from this prerequisite story often found their efforts on the cutting room floor. Conversely, Youth Runs Wild makes an honest and enjoyable effort to depict the more flawed reality and with a storyline that is not too marred by the passage of time. Our story here deals with what at the time was a relatively new problem in America; parents called away from their household and family obligations to support the war effort and leaving adolescent and even younger children with insufficient supervision. The resulting consequences could just as easily serve as a warning to the parents of today called away from their obligations far too frequently in the less justifiable quest to obtain material possessions.

For what is essentially an exploitive low-budget second-feature, Youth Runs Wild must be credited for its excellent casting. Both A-Listers and unknowns impart depth and warmth to their characters, and the largest contributing factor to the film's impressive honesty is that none of these people are purely good or purely evil.

I think the most touching and heartbreaking event in our story occurs when Danny's parents force him to end his relationship with his girlfriend next door, Sarah. This is exactly the kind of situation that occurs in many a home in real life. Danny has become truant from school, begun to get into all kinds of trouble, and is developing a real surly attitude at home. Sarah's parents would not be considered a good influence by anyone, Danny's parents naturally presume the apple does not fall far from the tree and blame Sarah for Danny's delinquency and forbid him to see her anymore. While entirely well intentioned, it is the worst thing that happens to him in the whole film, they have removed the most positive influence from Danny's life and nothing good comes of it.

The character of Sarah is well played by an unknown Vanessa Brown. This type of character was often given to Cathy O'Donnell, who would never have been able to give Sarah the underlying level of pathos that Ms. Brown does. Once Danny is removed from her life, Sarah attaches herself to the local bad girl, Toddy – played by Bonita Granville who is always wonderful in this type of role. Toddy leads her into a sordid nightlife, badly sanitized to meet 1940's standards of acceptability, but I think even contemporary audiences knew the life Toddy led her to was not being a simple "hostess", but a shill for a clip joint and probably eventually prostitution. Toddy does, after all, live rather well for an essentially orphaned girl in small town middle America.

It might not stand up to repeated viewings for some, and as others have pointed out, Turner Classic Movies' print of Youth Runs Wild is rather beat-up looking; but I would describe this as unusually good work for this particular genre and certainly worth investing an hour of your time. Honest and thought-provoking character film.

27 out of 27 people found the following review useful:
Perfect Rainy-night Fright Film, 25 June 2008
8/10

This campy little coo-coo bird has to be seen to be believed. Beware of anonymously sent bouncy balls. I first saw this film many years ago on the early American Movie Classics (before it was destroyed by commercials and awful movies); I made of point of watching it because I was reading Myrna Loy's autobiography at the time and she mentioned this film.

Modern viewers may be a bit surprised to find that there is really nothing new in film-making; everything in the psychological thrillers and slasher films over the years that terrified you is done here, and better. Like the rest of the reviewers, I am nearly insane with wonder at what the famous missing 15 minutes might hold (I know a scene further developing the Peg Entwistle character was deleted), but the existing version of this film is a tight, entertaining hour of suspense.

Exotic and beautiful Ursula Georgi sets out across America to reek her revenge on those upper crust white gals that ousted her from her school sorority and ruined her chance in life to "pass" as one of the elite. If you can actually locate the book this is based on, it's a very enlightening read, for therein we learn that poor Ursula was whored out as a young girl. An orphanage finally placed in her in the sorority with the rich white girls to save her from her life of degradation and exploitation. I believe Ms. Loy must have read the novel, she plays Ursula with a clear awareness of the horrors of her young past. By ostracizing and then kicking her out of the sorority, the rich snobs destroyed her chance to escape and live among the rich and respectable. No wonder she is murderously furious with them. A round robin letter, horoscopes of dread, the stink-eye from Ursula and former sorority sisters end up in the obituary column one by one.

Even today, this hour long film is tensely paced and engaging. Ricardo Cortez is always a pleasure to watch, a smooth, beautiful man and a superb actor who brings a touch of class to all of his work. Young Myrna Loy is beginning to show the prowess that would make her one of the most successful of all 20th century actors. If you love 1930's films, this is a very unique and interesting one, you won't be sorry.

10 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
Where has the art director gone?, 16 June 2008
3/10

I'm going to side-step the whole Lana Turner murder plot and just address the big flaming hole in this film.

About ten minutes into the film, we flashback about twenty years to approximately 1944, where we remain for at least an hour. No one changes. Not one bit. Everyone looks exactly the same, even wearing the same 1964 costumes and hairstyles. Someone was thoughtful enough to give Luke a 1940s automobile, which he drives down a street full of 1960's cars! (In 1944, there shouldn't be a Corvair parked across the street). Besides the hair and clothes, all the homes are decorated in the same 1964 decor they had prior to the flashback (oh, those AWFUL grays that just ruin Hayward's "studio"...!) It doesn't really matter what redeeming qualities the film might have outside of this, and I didn't really see much, you can't just insult the hell out of your audience with a lousy flashback that is only twenty years earlier because the characters say it is, and expect them to respect the rest of the film. This is really, really bad; the so-called flashback is the worst art and set direction I have ever seen.

14 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
It works, barely, 28 March 2008
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Actually, I'd recommend it if you like Lana Turner.

The Big Cube does have some serious problems. The plot isn't really one of them, it should have worked. Here it is just addled with too many terrible actors, and in need of a better screenwriter. It is, for example, completely unreasonable that daughter Lisa should decide her stepmother hates her and is turning her father against her, simply because they disapproved when they came home to find Lisa and her friends drinking, dropping acid, and stripping! OF COURSE they objected! My daughter should have received considerably more than a disapproving glare from me. The daughter's character is poorly fleshed out, never very believable, and it is further annoying that she has a foreign accent shared by no one else in the family.

It is likewise unbelievable that Adrianna would have automatically rejected her step-daughter's suitor and withheld her inheritance. Adrianna, from what we see in the film, has no idea the boyfriend is a drug pusher or a gigolo, it would seem more probable that she would have had a wait-and-see attitude toward this. This is typical of the numerous instances where our screenwriter chooses expediency over logic, and/or there is more of the screenplay that did not make it to the final cut. Perhaps Adrianna did have clues and they just ended up on the cutting room floor.

Also, Pamela Rodgers character is just disturbing. On Laugh In, her "Stupid Girl" character is often amusing, but when we see it here with nudity and indiscriminate drug usage, it becomes far more base and demeaning. It is typical for the film, all of the "hip" young people are clearly written by someone far too old and out of touch to be writing these characters, and they write them mean-spirited and ill-intentioned with no conception of anything positive that might exist among the younger generation. I often had the impression that the original idea and the actual script are several persons removed from one another.

There are a few things in the film's favor. It is a lovely film to look at, the Mexican exteriors are gorgeous, and on the DVD the color is transfered very nicely. Lana's hairpieces are unfortunate to say the least, but actually would not have been considered nearly so atrocious at the time this was filmed. And most of the music is actually pretty good, not that you'd rush out and buy the record, but not at all bad considering the source. But the main thing that carries the movie, and which it would totally fail without, is that Lana Turner takes it completely seriously. The sincerity she places in this rather absurd character lends the movie its only credibility, and gives us a glimmer of what might have been if only the screenwriter had been half as professional and dedicated to his craft. Lana is clearly playing Adrianna as she should have been, overlooking many of the more stupid things they have her doing and saying.

While it does not really hold up to repeat viewings, for my fellow Lana Turner fans I'd recommend it. It's a rather amusing rainy evenings entertainment if you haven't seen it before.

11 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
The inconvenient truth, 25 March 2008
2/10

Major points off for biased approach and conclusion-selective delivery. For example; using a known propagandist like Priscilla McMillian without revealing her connections to US intelligence organizations is a dishonest trick to play on an uneducated viewer.

The film indeed raises more questions about how or why Oswald would have committed the crime for which he has been accused than it ever answers. Indeed, it seems to be leading clearly to the conclusion that he could not have done it, and then, seeming to have realized their "error", they pitch in the unsubstantiated Walker accusation, the fake backyard photographs, and all join together to reach a conclusion entirely unsupported by the evidence they have presented. This is especially low yellow-journalism for a show with Frontline's prestige.

3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Base the merit of the film on the merit of the film, 13 March 2008
7/10

This is a quite good film; I based that on a) when we played the DVD in our home, it was not stopped or interrupted for any reason, we were engaged enough to not be distracted, and b) you will note that those IMDb reviews which "hate" the film are not taking issue with the film itself, but that they do not believe there is a conspiracy and are therefore compelled to belittle or insult anyone offering a differing opinion.

On the movie's merits alone, it does present a provocative case, it certainly gives rise to at least room for question. I was a bit surprised at some of the conspiracy evidence raised, being it was 1973, but one does tend to forget that we really knew almost as much then as we know today. Burt Lancaster, Robert Ryan, and Will Geer are excellent in their respective roles as rather loosely defined business tycoons and intelligence establishment types who plan and execute the assassination of President Kennedy, based on sincere albeit misguided and backward motivations. This is liberally inter-cut with documentary and newsreel footage of actual events to place our characters in specific time and place, and this is also done quite well.

The viewer, however, will never for a moment believe our characters are actually IN 1963. While it has no bearing on the validity of the points being raised, it is obvious the filmmakers put forth a wholly inadequate effort to make 1973 Dallas look like 1963 Dallas, not at all. The styles of men's fashions (all of the characters are men), haircuts, eyeglasses, shoes, etc., were dramatically different in '73 than '63, but throughout the film our characters are dressed in garish ill-fitting 1970's fashions and wearing shaggy unattractive 1970's haircuts (indeed, both Lancaster and Ryan are sporting the worst do's of their entire careers here). Post 1963 model cars populate the streets in the background. While the central characters are given period correct cars (1959 and 1962 Chevrolets), they are beaten into a state of disrepair quite unlikely for 1963, when they would have still been relatively new cars. Dealey Plaza is used only in long shot, the close shots of the characters entering the Texas School Book Depository or the Dallas County Records Building substitute inaccurate and poorly matched back-lot facades. I do not believe the mansion where they meet is located in Dallas (it actually looks like stately Wayne Manor from Batman). The hit-men arrive in Dallas and lodge in what is obviously a 1970's hotel room. Most "period" pieces in the 1970's are abysmally done, look at American Graffiti or Grease. If this sort of immaterial detail bothers you, this film will drive you nuts.

This aside, this is an excellent study that proposes a theory which is in no way precluded by the known facts. It could have happened in this manner and is indeed believed to have by many well studied researchers.

5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
I was there, it was awesome, 29 February 2008
8/10

I must concur with the other reviewers who have commented on the eerie accuracy of this film. I too attended high school in Texas in the 1970's, and this film is so flawless in recreating this time and place it lends the impression you were being documented without your knowledge. If you are of an age and background that permits you to relate to Dazed & Confused on this level, it will give you an unusual affinity for the film. This is exactly how we dressed and wore our hair, those are the cars we drove, the music we loved, that looks exactly like my high school (with only slight variations in paint colors), those seemed to be my teachers, and all of these people were the people I knew then. There is no question but that the author of this piece had to have been one of us.

As someone who was there, I hope I can clear up or offer some insight into a few of the points people have raised about the film. The drug use; well, it was the 70's. In my high school, really hardcore drugs such as heroin were virtually unknown, we talked about it but never saw it, but both marijuana and LSD were as common and available as sand in your shoes. My generation had a very permissive attitude toward these substances. My own clique would never have had the brass ones required to actually partake on campus, as getting caught would not have meant a detention but a trip to jail; on the other hand it was not infrequent to find us stoned in class. But we did leave campus to blow a joint, absolutely, (usually in either the home of one of us who lived nearby or a van that belonged to another of our group, parking at the shopping center down the street). In D&C we see Slater and some of his friends smoking weed right in the schoolyard, that didn't happen in my school. There wasn't a single teacher at my high school who would not have immediately recognized the odor of marijuana and sought out the source. With the clarity of thirty years hindsight, I remain of the opinion that we frankly had a healthier attitude on this subject than do so-called role models of today. Bad drug problems are bad drug problems, but the recreational use of marijuana is substantially less detrimental than either alcohol or tobacco, which both get a free pass because they're legal. Marijuana also failed to serve as a "gateway" drug in our clique, none of us were led by it into harsher substances. I'm glad I'm not in high school today.

One point of particular discussion I have noticed here on D&C's IMDb page is the movie's rather brutal depiction of hazing, "busting the freshmen". Several have reported that this did not occur at their school. You were lucky, and be glad of it. I attended high school in Dallas in the 1970's and this absolutely was a part of our life. I, like all girls, was spared the brutal whippings that Mitch and his friends have inflicted upon them by the seniors, but it absolutely happened to incoming freshmen boys and was generally sanctioned, or at least overlooked, by the adults in charge. For the record, YES IT IS ASSUALT AND BATTERY. Dang! What else do you call violently beating someone with a board until they cry? Battery, plain and simple. Outrageous, mean spirited and cruel, and frankly the homoerotic ass-fixated nature of this hazing paints a far more unflattering psychological portrait of those dealing out the punishment than of those receiving it. As girls we were at least not physically assaulted, but we did undergo some nasty initiation rituals, but usually only those of us trying to get into an organized club, not just all of us en masse simply because of our age (this is also depicted quite accurately in the film, what those poor girls endure from that bitch to get on the cheerleading squad, God love 'em). And it is likewise plainly obvious in the film just as it was in real life, the senior boys learned this bizarre monkey-like behavior from those bastions of simian progress, their "coaches", roles universally filled by academic failures who represent the Wooderson's of the future.

As disturbing as the hazing is, it belongs in the film because it was there, it was real, it was a part of our lives in that time and place, and I felt a delicious satisfaction when that one kid's mom met O'Bannion at the front porch cocking a shotgun. "I don't think so, creep!" You go girl! As both Mitch and Sabrina deal with the initiation rituals in a manner that is respected by their older peers and grants them access to the cool clique, it is too intrinsic to the storyline to be removed or whitewashed. I might add this is the only movie I have ever seen that captures this.

In summation, this is a movie directed at a rather specific audience. My friends who are of dramatically different age or grew up in a different part of the country do not generally relate to this movie nor enjoy it on the same level, although they often find it entertaining. But if you, like the filmmaker, were a Texas high school student in those amazingly permissive 1970's, and didn't particularly hate your life at the time, I think you'll absolutely love it. Highly recommended.

2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
One of the top 10 movies of all time, 28 February 2008
9/10

Easily one of the ten best movies of the 20th century. In Cold Blood is brilliant in the simplicity and realism of its storytelling, and absolutely riveting.

Robert Blake walks away with the film. The story seems to be presented almost entirely from Perry's viewpoint, despite Dick being the leader and planner of the pair. The viewer will invariable perceive Dick as being more unstable, immature, and generally feel like Perry would not have been pulled into this nightmare but for Dick and his need to be somebody and pull off a big score.

Based on a true story with particular attention to accuracy, In Cold Blood depicts the story behind the brutal and senseless murder of a rural Kansas family one cold, windy night, because Dick has bought into an age-old rural myth about prosperous farmers having a safe full of cash in their home. As "prosecutor" (a character that isn't given a name in the script), played by Will Geer, so astutely points out, their lives are bought for only $10 a head. Director Richard Brooks wisely chooses not to share with us the gruesome details of the murders until the end of the film, prior to this we only know it has happened and watch the lives of Dick and Perry slowly unravel as they attempt to escape not only being apprehended by law enforcement, but also Perry's own ever-escalating sense of impending doom. He repeatedly makes remarks, "No one ever gets away with a thing like that," and "I can't help thinking we left something behind that belongs to us." Dick is neither mature nor moral enough to feel any compelling sense of guilt over their crime, only irritation at Perry's. Indeed, after they are caught, it is Dick who breaks first, and suddenly faints when finally confronted with irrefutable proof that places the two men at the scene of the crime. I felt somewhat sorry for Perry from the very beginning of the film, and more-so as events progressed, but I only loathed Dick.

The genius of the film is the engaging manner in which the story is played. We do not for a moment think we are watching actors portray characters, but that we are watching the actual participants and events as they occurred. The story is unrelenting, taunt, the run time slightly in excess of two hours feels more like just a few minutes.

For those of you who are interested in such things, I noticed a couple of the "Goofs" listed here on the IMDb page for In Cold Blood are incorrect or exaggerated. Such as the "reversed" process shot, at the beginning of the film, as Dick and Perry are driving across the bridge into Kansas. To begin with, this isn't even a process shot, the camera is actually positioned in the backseat and the image you see beyond the windshield of the car is real. A large cargo truck located to the left front of Dick's Pontiac creates the optical illusion that they are going backward because it is traveling at a greater rate of speed, but closer examination will reveal that they are indeed going forward and it is an actual shot filmed from a moving vehicle.

As I previously stated, this is one of the ten best works of 20th century cinema, not recommended for the very young due to some course language and implied and inferred violence (no actual in your face gore as a modern film would resort to), but a thoroughly excellent film.

14 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
The best of the beach films, 13 February 2008
5/10

While none of them would qualify as brilliant film-making, this is easily the best of the drive-in "beach" movies produced by American International Pictures between 1963-67. This is the only beach movie I've ever sat all the way through without looking at my watch, and the IMDb rating of 3.0 it has as of today's date is unduly harsh.

One of the reasons Pajama Party is more enjoyable than the rest is the absence of Frankie Avalon. We only see the back of his head throughout the film, his character only being revealed in the closing segment. For once, Annette (I believe her character is called Connie is this particular outing) is not subjected to Frankie's rather sexist treatment; in the other films he expects her to be chaste and faithful to him alone while he looks at other women and studiously avoids any kind of committed relationship until the finale'. In Pajama Party, the Frankie character has never existed, and Connie instead falls in love with Go-Go, with the biggest obstacle in their relationship presented by the fact that Go-Go is a Martian sent on a scouting mission to precede the invasion of earth by Don Rickles and some other Martians up to no good. Tommy Kirk does pretty well with the awfully shallow part of Go-Go, his only weak point being the unfortunate ballad he has to sing in the convertible with Connie (driving down the highway with the top down, yet there is no wind or noise…!).

The entertainment value in these films today is their ability to provide us with escape into an easier, more innocent time. Those of you familiar with my Mrs. Astor reviews here on IMDb know this is usually my primary objective with any old movie. This film is one non-stop romp through an endless carefree teenage summer. The kids must fight for their right to party against invading Martians, con-artists, and of course quasi-Nazi Erick von Zipper and his Rat Pack, who in this film are outraged that the teens have left footprints on "their" beach (our writers must be running out of reasons to justify Von Zipper's existence by this point).

Guest stars Dorothy Lamour and Buster Keaton add much to the movie. Ms. Lamour is wonderful as the manager of the local dress shop. Mr. Keaton frequently appears in these films as an Indian, he has a brilliant scene here with the perfume counter girl, which can be attributed more to his fifty years of comedic work than any fit of genius that might have been borne by the writers of 1960's beach movies. The real spark of life in Pajama Party is brought by guest star Elsa Lanchester, always an absurd delight, here she is the aunt of the Jody McCrea character…he's always named Chunk or Hunk or Junk, in this one he's named Lunk. Our third set of bad guys, headed by the Maytag Repairman, are out to steal Aunt Wendy's millions, and she is a delightful airhead who manages to continually foil their plots without ever really being aware of their presence.

The film is further populated by the usual band of teens, all of the American International beach films have more or less the same cast, including Donna Loren, a singer far more talented than the material she is given, and Candy Johnson, who must surely be the most violent go-go dancer in the history of the world.

TRIVIA NOTE: It's interesting how a bit of trivia can get out into the movie fan community and be repeated by dozens of folk who apparently don't verify it first. While numerous sources credit Teri Garr's first movie appearance as being in the 1968 film "Head" starring The Monkees, she does in fact appear in 1964's Pajama Party. I recently heard TCM Host Ben Mankowitz state that Ms. Garr "appears just to the right of Annette Funicello in every major scene", a comment that I have also seen repeated verbatim on other IMDb reviews. Interesting, but untrue. Ms. Garr plays the second model in the fashion show sequence (which begins approximately 37 minutes into the film), but the character of Connie does not even arrive at the dress shop until the fashion show is over. Teri Garr can be seen dancing to Annette's right in the final musical number, Pajama Party, but this is hardly "appearing to Annette's right in every scene of the movie".

You may also spot Toni Basil. She is the girl in the red bikini in the first dance sequence, and the girl in the silver bikini at the fashion show. Slow it down, you can tell it's her pretty easy by the shape of her face.

In summation, if you're interested in beach movies or just want some fun post-Camelot escapist entertainment, Pajama Party is the best of the lot. It will keep you smiling and tapping your foot and rooting for those clean wholesome kids. I wished I could just hop into my giant yellow convertible and tool down to the beach for the summer without a care in the world.


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