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The Texas Rangers (1936)
another great movie ruined by Jack Oakie
All you Jack Oakie fans beware, I'm going to dump on him. Any time I see his name in the cast of characters, I think twice about watching that movie. There has to be a big-name leading man that I like enough to overcome the stupid shenanigans of Oakie. In this case, it was Fred MacMurray, of whom I am very fond. Why oh why do the heroes in the early westerns have Bozo the Clowns for partners? Gabby Hayes, Smiley Burnett, Pat Buttram, Dub Taylor, Al St. John, Fuzzy Knight, Max Terhune, Frank McHugh, Slim Pickens, Pat Brady and a score of others all set their sights on being as dumb as possible and hinder the hero in as many ways as possible. There were a few good exceptions, my favorite being Tonto of The Lone Ranger fame. In real life, would Lloyd Nolan put up with Oakie. I don't think so. The least he would have done is kick him out of the gang. Although I didn't approve of the way Nolan did in Oakie under the table, I was glad that Oakie was out of the movie, even though it was only for a short time before the ending. (See The Call of the Wild with Clark Gable if you want to see Oakie spoil another great movie). I loved the action and gunplay in this movie especially the Indian attack. Long-distance shooting with sixguns was a bit hard to take, but all the movie cowboy heroes did it. I thought the romance was particularly well done and I would have given in to Jean Parker a lot sooner than Fred did. Overall I gave this movie a 7, but it would have been an 8 if it took itself a bit more serious. I know a lot of you are going to disagree with me on the partners issue, but I like serious westerns, not comedy westerns.
Man of the Forest (1933)
a neat little western with a great cast
First of all, let me say that I'll watch any movie with Randolph Scott in it. My wife and I agree that he was the best of all the cowboy stars whether the movies were A, B, or Z. This was a thoroughly enjoyable film. It had a familiar but good story line, great scenery, and an outstanding supporting cast headed by Noah Beery and one of my favorites, Big Boy Williams. The acting was above average for this type of movie. Scott was handsome and actually dashing with his little mustache. He showed lots of wit and charm and none of the woodenness that would come later to his acting. I couldn't help laughing at some of the lines concerning women, considering his so- called homo affairs with Cary Grant at the same time that this movie was filmed. "I don't like women, I never have!" is quite a line as well as Harry Carey saying to him "maybe this will change your mind about women". The big blooper of the movie was trying to pass off African lions as mountain lions. They must have come from Buster Crabbes's jungle adventures. I did feel bad for the cubs when the mother was killed. Scott even said that they were too young to drink milk from a bowl And I HATE, HATE, HATE leg traps! Didn't he realize that he could have caught one of his own pet lions? In spite of the leg traps, this is a nice little movie that I won't mind watching again in a few months.
a Rossini opera lover I am not!
I recently purchased a mixed bag of operas at a flea market. Some were DVDs, others were VHS. Some were used, others like new. Among them was this VHS in like new condition. I have heard the Barber of Seville several times and have never really cared that much about it. Except for his overtures, I never cared much for Rossini's music. So when I put this movie on, I was prepared ahead of time to not like it. A few minutes after the overture began, I could tell that I was going to hate it. The orchestra played OK, not great, kind of subdued or restrained. I didn't like any of the singers. Even my wife thought that I sing as good as the lead tenor (Rockwell Blake), which is to say "pretty bad". Figaro was sung by Leo Nucci and I think that the acoustics did him no justice. The biggest gripe I have is that it seems as though there was only one microphone and as the singers moved around the volume went up or down. When Kathleen Battles sang she seemed to try to impress us with how loud and piercing she could sing. At this point, she was giving us a headache and the opera as a whole was making us nervous, so that after watching it for less than 40 minutes, we decided to shut it off and junk it. Now I know that everybody's taste is different. You may listen to it and love it, so I am not one to say don't waste your time or money. Decide for yourself!
Fear Strikes Out (1957)
good acting but some big flaws mar this movie
I don't find movies about illnesses whether they are physical or mental, real or fictitious, to be entertaining, maybe informative or educational, so I am approaching my criticism of this movie from the baseball aspect. Jimmy Piersall was quite a character. He overcame a mental breakdown to become one of the greatest outfielders in baseball history. He was a real crowd pleaser with his fielding and antics, but his hitting left a lot to be desired. He just about ruined his arm showing off how far and hard he could throw the ball. When he hit his 100th homerun, he ran the bases backwards. Living near Boston, I saw him play ball on many occasions and I met him in person at a First National Supermarket opening in Lawrence, Mass. He signed a baseball and a photograph of himself for me, but I had to buy two bags of potato chips (Cains, I think it was) beforehand. As a kid, I could barely afford it, but more than fifty years later, I still have the ball and photo. What a thrill it was! I remember him as being handsome and big and strong, not a skinny guy like Anthony Perkins. As far as the movie goes, it was good, but not very accurate. Did you notice the obvious padding to Perkin's shoulders to make him look bulky? He looked like he never played baseball in real life, he was so awkward. (Gary Cooper as Lou Gehrig and William Bendix as Babe Ruth also looked pretty bad in their baseball movies). Did you notice that the stock footage was of Fenway Park but whenever Perkins was playing they showed some minor league park? Just look at the outfield background, that's not Fenway. What really bothers me is that they only mention one real life Red Sox person, Joe Cronin, and that was wrong, it should have been Pinky Higgins. What happened to Ted Williams, Jackie Jensen (my all time favorite Red Sox player), Dom Dimaggio, Bobby Doerr, Johnny Pesky, and a bunch of others who played on the team with Piersall? Ted's career was actually extended because Piersall was so good as a fielder that he used to run from center to left to catch flyballs so that Williams didn't have to tire himself out trying to get to them. Piersall was eventually traded to another team, so all his euphoria about playing for the Bosox didn't last. Still with all its' faults and disappointments, this movie is well worth watching, especially for baseball fans.
Follow the Fleet (1936)
great movie and I'm glad that Randolph Scott is in it!
This really is a great movie. Some of the songs have become immortal classics and the dancing by Fred and Ginger is among their best ever. But basically, all of Fred and Ginger's movies are the same. After the singing and dancing is over, it's the other characters in the movie who make the movie work. What really bothers me is why all the negative comments about Randolph Scott? His romance with Harriet Hilliard and the sub plot of the movie is the reason why I watch this over and over again. He adds to this movie, he doesn't detract from it. He has a winning personality and a great smile. Randy is in my top ten all time favorites list. It's great to see him as something other than a cowboy. OK, so he isn't really a great actor, but like so many other stars: Errol Flynn, Alan Ladd, Victor Mature, etc. he was very likable and could rise to the top on certain occasions. All of Fred and Ginger's movies had sub plots that depended on other actors to fill in the space between the musical numbers, otherwise the movie would have to be shortened by about a half hour. I just wish more people would appreciate Randy and I felt a need to stand up for him.
The Fastest Guitar Alive (1967)
a warm and entertaining movie!
I LOVE Roy Orbison! I saw him perform live on four different occasions and I own tons of his records, tapes, CD's and this movie. He was not handsome enough to become a matinée idol like Elvis, but he was the GREATEST singer ever, even Elvis said so! This movie is a light hearted comedy with singing. A few of the songs are not so great by Roy's standards, but most are good and a few are really good e.g. "Pistolero" and "Roll On Mighty River". I especially love the the title song, "The Fastest Guitar Alive". The plot of the movie is not that bad. Has anybody besides me noticed the similarity between this movie and the Errol Flynn/Randolph Scott western "Virginia City"? I love that movie and those two actors too. Roy's movie was not looking for critical acclaim. It was just a good "B" flick, certainly better than a thousand other grade "B" westerns out there. It had some very funny scenes and it was good clean fun. You could watch it with your children and not have to worry about sex and violence. Roy might have become a better actor if he had made a few more movies, but since this is his only movie and if you are a true Roy Orbison fan, treasure it!
Canto per te (1953)
greatest tenor, lousy production
To me, Giuseppe DiStefano is the greatest operatic tenor of all time. I have dozens of his recordings on record albums, tapes, and CDs. His period of greatness, however, lasted only about 14 years or so. I saw him in person in Boston after his prime, and the audience actually booed him. I felt terrible for him, but he should have quit sooner. This movie certainly did not enhance his acting career, in fact, it kept him from becoming a movie star like Mario Lanza. But his stage career was tremendous. This movie was a bitter disappointment. First of all, it was in Italian with English subtitles. But the subtitles were all washed out and disappeared into the background, so you couldn't read them and know what was going on. Although he got top billing, he was hardly in the movie. He would appear, strut around a bit, and then be gone for long periods of time. And then the singing or lack of it! The ads stated "thrilling singing" but there was hardly any singing at all. And then, as a most major insult, every time he did sing, people would talk and laugh out loud, blocking him off so that you couldn't hear him. What a disgrace! The director should be shot! I hope DiStefano protested, but if he did, it must not have done any good. Did you see Serpico? DiStefano sang on the radio and Al Pacino mentioned him by name. In Mean Streets, he sang 3 songs. And in Goodfellas, he sang two arias in the background. I'm sorry that this film wasn't a lot better. If you are an opera buff, you won't be happy with this movie, but if you like DiStefano, at least it gives you a chance to see what he looks like.
Long Gone (1987)
one of the worst movies I have ever watched
After reading all the comments praising this movie, I went on a quest to find a copy of it. What a major disappointment! I gave it a 3 instead of a 0 only because Virginia Madsen is beautiful to look at, albeit she is a whore in the movie. The film is pure trash. Baseball is secondary to drinking, swearing, having sex, cheating, and being plain obnoxious. Petersen, whom I like as an actor, is too cocky in this and has very low moral standards. The guy that plays Joe Louis Brown is almost as bad, but not quite. The baseball action isn't bad, but less time is spent on the playing field than in the barroom or bedroom. How can this be called a baseball movie? And you just know how it's going to end, it's so predictable. Two guys come into the game in the last inning and win it for them. The movie would have been better if they had lost the game. And the wedding at the end was anti-climatic. I give each couple six months to a year before they get divorced. This is certainly not a movie to sit down and watch with your family. If real ballplayers are like these guys, then there are no heroes in baseball. A real poor example of sportsmanship and clean-cut living. How did this movie get to TV unless it was really late at night? August 10,2008. So many people have disagreed with me on this movie, that I decided to watch it again. I did, and it still stinks! Now that is my opinion. You may love the movie and that's fine with me. We all have different tastes. You can at least agree with that, right? To each his own.
Last of the Mohicans (1977)
very good, especially for kids
a very good movie that seems to have been written more for children in mind than for adults. This is a great movie to watch with the little kiddies and root for the good guys. Steve Forest is very handsome and likable in the lead and Robert Tessier who played Magua was a really good character actor and villain. He was born in Lowell, Mass., less than a mile from where I am writing this right now. Another person who wrote a review (BCOLQUHO) concentrated only on the 1992 movie with Daniel Day-Lewis. Maybe he didn't see the 1936 movie starring Randolph Scott and Robert Barrat, which I think is the best of the several versions available. For adult entertainment, both the 1936 and 1992 versions are more suitable. Certainly the violence and blood letting of the 1992 version may be too much for some youngsters. There are low-keyed love affairs, but no sex to speak of. One lesson that could be learned from these movies is: don't count on the French to help you. That's as good advice today as it was 250 years ago!
The Last of the Mohicans (1936)
Last of the Mohicans, exciting and enjoyable
Although I have never read the book, I have seen several movies about "The Last of the Mohicans" including those that starred Harry Carey, Michael O'Shea (Buster Crabbe as Magua), Steve Forest, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Randolph Scott as Hawkeye (Nathaniel). Also the TV program starring ex-Lone Ranger, John Hart. For me the number one is Randolph Scott. I'm not saying that the others aren't good, but he is my idea of a clean cut, all American hero whom I'd like to have as a friend especially in time of danger. Actor for actor, the 1936 version has the best cast. Nobody is better than Bruce Cabot as Magua and Robert Barrat is the greatest Chingachgook of all, even though neither one is a real Indian. The final fight to the death between the two of them is far superior than that of any other version and Barrat's homage to his dead son Uncas (Phillip Reed) brings me to tears. There is room for all of these versions, and if you can, watch all of them and pick your own favorite.