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10/10
Whimsical One-Reeler
17 April 2006
An MGM ROBERT BENCHLEY Short Subject.

Trying to quietly spend A NIGHT AT THE MOVIES isn't so simple for hapless Robert Benchley.

Nominated for the Best One-Reel Short Subject Academy Award, this was one of a series of little films to feature the gentle humor of Robert Benchley (1889-1945). Watching him deal with the unexpected difficulties of simply enjoying a movie elicits much quiet amusement.

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Often overlooked or neglected today, the one and two-reel short subjects were useful to the Studios as important training grounds for new or burgeoning talents, both in front & behind the camera. The dynamics for creating a successful short subject was completely different from that of a feature length film, something akin to writing a topnotch short story rather than a novel. Economical to produce in terms of both budget & schedule and capable of portraying a wide range of material, short subjects were the perfect complement to the Studios' feature films.
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Pure Feud (1934)
10/10
Hillbilly Humor
17 April 2006
A VITAPHONE Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy Short Subject.

It's a PURE FEUD carried out between the McCarthys and the Jenkins into which city boy Edgar Appleby inadvertently stumbles .

This was one of a series of short films highlighting the remarkable talent of ventriloquist Edgar Bergen. His wisecracking dummy, Charlie McCarthy, effortlessly steals the show. Movie mavens will recognize Shemp Howard as one of the McCarthy kin.

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Often overlooked or neglected today, the one and two-reel short subjects were useful to the Studios as important training grounds for new or burgeoning talents, both in front & behind the camera. The dynamics for creating a successful short subject was completely different from that of a feature length film, something akin to writing a topnotch short story rather than a novel. Economical to produce in terms of both budget & schedule and capable of portraying a wide range of material, short subjects were the perfect complement to the Studios' feature films.
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10/10
Bugs & Birds
17 April 2006
An MGM Short Subject.

THE MIRACLE OF SALT LAKE arrives in answer to Mormon prayers.

A fascinating story from Utah history is the basis for this little film, which explains the reason behind the Salt Lake City statue honoring the humble seagull. Movie mavens will recognize Iron Eyes Cody as a friendly Native American.

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Often overlooked or neglected today, the one and two-reel short subjects were useful to the Studios as important training grounds for new or burgeoning talents, both in front & behind the camera. The dynamics for creating a successful short subject was completely different from that of a feature length film, something akin to writing a topnotch short story rather than a novel. Economical to produce in terms of both budget & schedule and capable of portraying a wide range of material, short subjects were the perfect complement to the Studios' feature films.
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10/10
Piercing The Veil
17 April 2006
An MGM PROPHECIES OF NOSTRADAMUS Short Subject.

Why do so many people believe in these thousand curious verses? Because NOSTRADAMUS SAYS SO!

This intriguing little film tells of the background of the famous seer Michel de Nostradamus (1503-1566) and of some of his prophecies concerning the 20th Century, including World War Two, the Atomic bomb, the United Nations, the Korean Conflict, and the Succession to the British Throne.

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Often overlooked or neglected today, the one and two-reel short subjects were useful to the Studios as important training grounds for new or burgeoning talents, both in front & behind the camera. The dynamics for creating a successful short subject was completely different from that of a feature length film, something akin to writing a topnotch short story rather than a novel. Economical to produce in terms of both budget & schedule and capable of portraying a wide range of material, short subjects were the perfect complement to the Studios' feature films.
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10/10
Military Overview
17 April 2006
An MGM Short Subject.

THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG in 1863 was a turning point in America's history.

This short film, narrated by Leslie Nielsen, relates the story of the great pivotal battle during the War Between The States. Dispassionate & evenhanded, it deals with its subject in a noncontroversial manner. Touching upon each of the major aspects of the days of engagement, the film ends with Abraham Lincoln's beautiful Gettysburg Address.

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Often overlooked or neglected today, the one and two-reel short subjects were useful to the Studios as important training grounds for new or burgeoning talents, both in front & behind the camera. The dynamics for creating a successful short subject was completely different from that of a feature length film, something akin to writing a topnotch short story rather than a novel. Economical to produce in terms of both budget & schedule and capable of portraying a wide range of material, short subjects were the perfect complement to the Studios' feature films.
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10/10
For Auld Lang Syne
17 April 2006
An MGM TRAVELTALK Short Subject.

Our trip to the Scottish Highlands includes quick looks at Inverness & Loch Ness, but lingers longest at the ancient capital of Perth, the Culloden Battlefield and St. Andrews Golf Club. Sir Walter Scott, the skirl of bagpipes and a sentimental visit to a golfers' cemetery are all part of the tour.

This is one of a large series of succinct travelogues turned out by MGM, beginning in the 1930's. These films were produced & narrated by James A. FitzPatrick and featured Technicolor views of beautiful & unusual sights around the globe, as well as vivid, concise commentary.
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10/10
History Mystery
1 April 2006
An MGM PROPHECIES OF NOSTRADAMUS Short Subject.

The strange story of Michel de NOSTRADAMUS AND THE QUEEN of France is herein related.

This short film tells the intriguing tale of the prophecies of the famous seer (1503-1566) and how they reinforced the ambitions of the rapacious Catherine de Medici (1519-1589) and the fates of her three sons, each of whom would rule France: Francis II (1559-1560), Charles IX (1560-1574) and Henry III (1574-1589).

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Often overlooked or neglected today, the one and two-reel short subjects were useful to the Studios as important training grounds for new or burgeoning talents, both in front & behind the camera. The dynamics for creating a successful short subject was completely different from that of a feature length film, something akin to writing a topnotch short story rather than a novel. Economical to produce in terms of both budget & schedule and capable of portraying a wide range of material, short subjects were the perfect complement to the Studios' feature films.
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10/10
East Is East & West Is West, Usually
26 February 2006
A wealthy young man, raised as a SON OF THE GODS, must confront his Chinese heritage while living in a White world.

Although the premise upon which this film is based is almost certainly a biological impossibility and the secret of the plot when revealed at the movie's conclusion makes all which has preceded it faintly ludicrous, the story still serves up some decent entertainment and good acting.

Richard Barthelmess has the title role as the sweet-natured Oriental whose life is terribly complicated because he looks Caucasian. Barthelmess keeps the tone of his performance serious throughout, gazing intently into the middle distance (a mannerism he developed during Silent Days) whenever his character is indecently misused. He makes no attempt to replicate his classic performance in D. W. Griffith's BROKEN BLOSSOMS (1919) and this is to his credit. Beautiful Constance Bennett is the millionaire's daughter who makes Barthelmess miserable. She is gorgeous as always, but her behavior does not endear her to the viewer and her terrible illness in the final reel is kept mercifully off screen.

Multi-talented Frank Albertson has a small role as Barthelmess' improvident buddy. Serene E. Alyn Warren and blustery Anders Randolf play the leading stars' very different fathers, while Claude King distinguishes his brief appearance as the English author who befriends Barthelmess.

Movie mavens will recognize little Dickie Moore, uncredited, playing Barthelmess as a tiny child.

The original Technicolor of the flashback sequence has faded with time to a ruddy tint. The shot purporting to be the South of France instead looks suspiciously like Avalon on Santa Catalina Island, off the coast of Southern California.
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10/10
Lively & Complicated
26 February 2006
It will take FOUR MEN AND A PRAYER to save an old colonel's reputation from disgrace.

Although its complicated plot is faintly ludicrous, this John Ford film offers plenty of action and some good acting to keep its viewers entertained. The production value is of a high order and there's a generous amount of heroics, which almost makes one forget that there's no really despicable villain to hiss.

Barrister George Sanders, diplomat Richard Greene, military pilot David Niven, and Oxford student William Henry are the English brothers who unite to find their father's murderer and clear his good name. All do a fine job with what the script gives them, constantly dashing about and acting terribly energetic, with young Henry more than keeping up with his three better known costars. Greene actually has top billing, but Niven gets the best lines, getting to leaven a good deal of humor into his performance.

Lovely Loretta Young does not fare so well. She's given the ridiculous role of a silly rich girl in love with Greene who follows him first from America to England, then on to Argentina and Egypt. Even witnessing a hideous massacre doesn't entirely sober her, as she begins to behave like a junior league Mata Hari to uncover information for the preternaturally patient Greene. One usually expects more than this from John Ford's heroines.

The rest of the large cast offers able support, however. Wonderful old Sir C. Aubrey Smith graces his brief role as the men's tragic father. Stalwart Reginald Denny plays a captain with too much information for his own good. Affable Alan Hale has fun with his role as a millionaire arms dealer. J. Edward Bromberg is a squalid little South American general and, in a tiny role, John Carradine plays his suave & dangerous enemy. Blustery Berton Churchill plays the powerful tycoon father of Miss Young's character, while bantam Barry Fitzgerald steals his few moments of screen time as a boisterous little Irishman ready for a good fight.
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10/10
Garbo Sins
14 February 2006
A young woman defies THE SINGLE STANDARD of morality which allows males freedom while restricting the behavior of females.

Greta Garbo stars in this late silent trifle from MGM. Her flawless beauty is thawed somewhat by a script that allows her a sly sense of humor and a more approachable demeanor. Playing a character torn between the duties of a wife and the passions of a lover, she is always entertaining, even if the film isn't terribly significant.

Nils Asther, who could almost match Garbo's exoticism, gives a fine performance as the celebrity artist whose adventurous lifestyle & romantic allure prove such a temptation to Garbo. Handsome Johnny Mack Brown gives a touch of nobility to his rather small role as the dull husband willing to sacrifice everything for Garbo's happiness. Elderly character actress Zeffie Tilbury scores as an observant society matron who speaks her mind.

In unbilled roles, Robert Castle grabs the viewers' attention as Garbo's tragic chauffeur and Wade Boteler provides a few chuckles as the merry masher who confronts Garbo in the rain. Movie mavens will recognize a young Joel McCrea as one of the trio of philandering husbands whose antics amuse Garbo in the film's opening moments.
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10/10
A Glimpse Of Hades
14 February 2006
An amusement pier attraction based on DANTE'S INFERNO helps change the life of an unscrupulous concessionaire.

Spencer Tracy dominates this nifty little drama, which keeps its audience satisfied with good acting and special effects. Two disasters (the first on the pier and the second aboard a luxury party liner) add punch to the plot. Between them comes a remarkable 9-minute tour into the depths of the real Inferno, populated by scores of naked extras writhing in anguish. The Depression Era viewers which first saw this film certainly got their money's worth.

Tracy, always entertaining as he schemes & plots his way to unsavory success, is well served by his supporting players: lovely Claire Trevor as his loyal wife; gaunt Henry B. Walthall as Trevor's saintly father; little Scotty Beckett (one of the OUR GANG kids) as Tracy's innocent son; and Alan Dinehart as a faithful friend. That's Rita Hayworth as the featured dancer aboard the S.S. Paradise.
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10/10
Undying Friendship
14 February 2006
Even after passing BEYOND TOMORROW, three old gentlemen continue to guard their two young friends.

Unfortunately rather obscure, this charming little film, bursting with the joy of life, brings a whimsicality as unexpected as finding a ten dollar bill on a snowy sidewalk.

Texas rodeo cowboy Richard Carlson and children's clinic worker Jean Parker are the two lonely people brought together on a cold New York City Christmas Eve by their new benefactors. They make a perfect couple, young & eager to embrace love - and each other - with open arms. Their enthusiasm at finding relief from their loneliness is genuine and imparts a special glow to the viewer.

The generous trio, who look after their new companions like benevolent uncles, are the very heart of the film. Cheery Irishman Charles Winninger, stalwart English major Sir C. Aubrey Smith, and melancholy Oklahoman Harry Carey, although dealing with their own secret sorrows, share their largess with complete strangers (whom they meet by a most curious stratagem) in order to share the Christmas Spirit. Elderly Maria Ouspenskaya gives a sweetly poignant performance as their beloved housekeeper; this tiny, wizened actress positively radiates joy as she steals her every scene.

Helen Vinson, as a singing temptress trying to corrupt Carlson, is the serpent in this garden. Silent Screen star Rod La Rocque, in one of his final films, gives support as Vinson's theatrical manager.

This would make wonderful Holiday viewing. In fact, one of the most delightful scenes in the film features a spirited singing of Jingle Bells in English, Russian, German & Italian.
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The Unchained Goddess (1958 TV Movie)
10/10
Storms & Squalls
13 February 2006
A Frank Capra WONDERS OF LIFE film.

THE UNCHAINED GODDESS of weather, Meteora, finds two humans who know quite a bit about her secret ways.

In the mid-1950's, AT&T and Bell Science teamed with famed Hollywood director Frank Capra to produce a series of CBS television science films to educate the public about the Universe around them. A far cry from the dreary black & white fodder so often foisted off on young scholars, the Capra films would both instruct and entertain with lively scripts and eye-catching visuals shown in Technicolor. The four films - OUR MR. SUN (1956), THE STRANGE CASE OF THE COSMIC RAYS (1957), HEMO THE MAGNIFICENT (1957), THE UNCHAINED GODDESS (1958) - quickly became schoolhouse favorites, where they were endlessly shown in 16mm format.

The star of the series was Dr. Frank C. Baxter (1896-1982), an affable English professor at the University of Southern California. This avuncular pedagogue proved to be the perfect film instructor, genially imparting to his audience the sometimes complex facts in a manner which never made them seem dull or boring. Dr. Baxter, who won a Peabody Award for his achievements, continued making high quality instructional films after the Capra quartet were concluded.

THE UNCHAINED GODDESS, which was produced & co-written by Capra, relates the story of wind patterns and cloud types, thunder, lightning and rain, using humorous animation and dramatic photography. Film star Richard Carlson, who also directed, appears as the Fiction Writer, energetically helping Dr. Baxter relate the scientific facts.

The devotional sentiment & Scripture quoted by Dr. Baxter at the film's conclusion is completely in tune with the tenor & tone of the production.
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Hemo the Magnificent (1957 TV Movie)
10/10
Heart Facts
30 January 2006
A Frank Capra WONDERS OF LIFE film.

Keeping the blood pumping through our veins is the responsibility of hardworking HEMO THE Magnificent.

In the mid-1950's, AT&T and Bell Science teamed with famed Hollywood director Frank Capra to produce a series of CBS television science films to educate the public about the Universe around them. A far cry from the dreary black & white fodder so often foisted off on young scholars, the Capra films would both instruct and entertain with lively scripts and eye-catching visuals shown in Technicolor. The four films - OUR MR. SUN (1956), THE STRANGE CASE OF THE COSMIC RAYS (1957), HEMO THE MAGNIFICENT (1957), THE UNCHAINED GODDESS (1958) - quickly became schoolhouse favorites, where they were endlessly shown in 16mm format.

The star of the series was Dr. Frank C. Baxter (1896-1982), an affable English professor at the University of Southern California. This avuncular pedagogue proved to be the perfect film instructor, genially imparting to his audience the sometimes complex facts in a manner which never made them seem dull or boring. Dr. Baxter, who won a Peabody Award for his achievements, continued making high quality instructional films after the Capra quartet were concluded.

HEMO THE Magnificent, which was produced, written & directed by Capra, relates the story of the human heart and blood circulation system, using animation and gentle humor. Film star Richard Carlson appears as the Fiction Writer, energetically helping Dr. Baxter tell Hemo's tale.

Movie mavens will recognize Sterling Holloway as part of the TV production crew, and the voices of Marvin Miller, Mel Blanc, June Foray & Pinto Colvig as various cartoon characters, all uncredited.

The devotional Scripture which begins the film is completely in tune with the tenor & tone of the production.
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10/10
Garbo Potboiler
15 December 2005
A young Austrian officer doesn't realize how profoundly THE MYSTERIOUS LADY he meets at the Opera will change his life.

Greta Garbo's entrancing beauty is the main attraction in this Silent drama from MGM. Her face alone would have assured her a place in film history. But this film, which deals with World War One espionage, has other things to offer, including a good performance from Conrad Nagel as Garbo's co-star. The story is a wee bit ludicrous, but MGM graced the film with excellent production values as befits a movie starring their enormously popular star. (The idyllic afternoon sequence shared between the two lovers is especially commendable.) The plot does have some fair degree of excitement and should not disappoint the typical viewer.

Ably filling smaller roles are Gustav von Seyffertitz as the evil Russian spymaster and Edward Connelly as the head of the Austrian Secret Service, who also happens to be Nagel's uncle. Movie mavens will recognize an unbilled big Russ Powell as a rain-drenched carriage driver.

This silent film has been given a fine orchestral background score by Vivek Maddala.
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10/10
Decent Character Study
15 December 2005
A beautiful young woman influences a callous lawyer into regaining THE RIGHT OF WAY to moral decency.

Conrad Nagel dominates this little soap opera, based on Sir Gilbert Parker's novel, with his highly melodramatic performance as a hardhearted Quebecois lawyer who exhibits an enormous distaste for nearly every other human being. His behavior would repulse the viewer, were it not that his acting is so over the top that it becomes quite a bit of fun to watch.

Beautiful Loretta Young appears rather late in the story and ushers in the best scenes of the film, when Nagel is suffering from amnesia. Their moments together, as she cares for him, are touchingly tender.

A small group of character actors add much to their supporting roles: Olive Tell as Nagel's distraught wife; William Janney as her pathetic brother; Fred Kohler as the backwoodsman who saves Nagel's life; Halliwell Hobbes as a benevolent seigneur who loves Miss Young; little Snitz Edwards as a village tailor; and George C. Pearce as a kindly priest.
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10/10
Mysterious Science
12 December 2005
A Frank Capra WONDERS OF LIFE film.

Some of the best scientific sleuthing of the 20th Century was needed to crack THE STRANGE CASE OF THE COSMIC RAYS.

In the mid-1950's, AT&T and Bell Science teamed with famed Hollywood director Frank Capra to produce a series of CBS television science films to educate the public about the Universe around them. A far cry from the dreary black & white fodder so often foisted off on young scholars, the Capra films would both instruct and entertain with lively scripts and eye-catching visuals shown in Technicolor. The four films - OUR MR. SUN (1956), THE STRANGE CASE OF THE COSMIC RAYS (1957), HEMO THE MAGNIFICENT (1957), THE UNCHAINED GODDESS (1958) - quickly became schoolhouse favorites, where they were endlessly shown in 16mm format.

The star of the series was Dr. Frank C. Baxter (1896-1982), an affable English professor at the University of Southern California. This avuncular pedagogue proved to be the perfect film instructor, genially imparting to his audience the sometimes complex facts in a manner which never made them seem dull or boring. Dr. Baxter, who won a Peabody Award for his achievements, continued making high quality instructional films after the Capra quartet were concluded.

THE STRANGE CASE OF THE COSMIC RAYS, which was produced, written & directed by Capra, tells of the search to understand the makeup of the Universe by revealing its most basic components: electrons, neutrons, protons, etc., using experiments, animation and gentle humor. Film star Richard Carlson appears as the Fiction Writer, who presents the story as a scientific mystery to Bil and Cora Baird's marionette figures of Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe & Fydor Dostoevski.

The devotional sentiments voiced by Dr. Baxter at the end of the film are completely in tune with the tenor & tone of the production.
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Our Mr. Sun (1956 TV Movie)
10/10
Sunny Science
30 November 2005
A Frank Capra WONDERS OF LIFE film.

OUR MR. SUN endlessly makes life possible on Earth.

In the mid-1950's, AT&T and Bell Science teamed with famed Hollywood director Frank Capra to produce a series of CBS television science films to educate the public about the Universe around them. A far cry from the dreary black & white fodder so often foisted off on young scholars, the Capra films would both instruct and entertain with lively scripts and eye-catching visuals shown in Technicolor. The four films - OUR MR. SUN (1956), THE STRANGE CASE OF THE COSMIC RAYS (1957), HEMO THE MAGNIFICENT (1957), THE UNCHAINED GODDESS (1958) - quickly became schoolhouse favorites, where they were endlessly shown in 16mm format.

The star of the series was Dr. Frank C. Baxter (1896-1982), an affable English professor at the University of Southern California. This avuncular pedagogue proved to be the perfect film instructor, genially imparting to his audience the sometimes complex facts in a manner which never made them seem dull or boring. Dr. Baxter, who won a Peabody Award for his achievements, continued making instructional films after the Capra quartet were concluded.

OUR MR. SUN, which won an Emmy for its editing, presents the information known about our solar neighbor at mid-century, using spectacular photography, animation and gentle humor. Film star Eddie Albert appears as the Fiction Writer, looking to get an angle on how to present the sun's story. Marvin Miller provides the voice for the animated Mr. Sun.

Strangely uncredited is Lionel Barrymore, one of America's best loved character actors, who gives the voice for Father Time. Barrymore had died back in 1954, making this his very final performance. Movie mavens will also recognize Sterling Holloway as the voice of Chloro Phyll.

The devotional sentiments spoken by Barrymore at the end of the film are completely in tune with the tenor & tone of the production.
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10/10
Fascist Fantasy
19 November 2005
The fabulous exploits of Baron MÜNCHHAUSEN include several wars, numerous plots and beautiful women without number.

At the height of World War Two, as the tide was beginning to turn against the Third Reich, Hitler's Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels commissioned this lavish motion picture as a commemoration of the 25th anniversary of Ufa, the government-run German film association. More importantly, it was also to be a rival of the great fantasy films which had come from the Allied nations, such as THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939) and THE THIEF OF BAGDAD (1940). In that it succeeds brilliantly and needs no comparison to any other film.

The film is a great, lighthearted romp as it follows the adventures of the Baron from Prussia to St. Petersburg, Constantinople, Venice and even the Moon. It is fascinating to see the high quality which the Germans were still able to lavish on the picture, even as their Empire was beginning to crumble around them. The production values are of a very high order and the Technicolor photography is sumptuous to the eye. Remarkably, there is no National Socialist propaganda in the film and the War is never mentioned.

In the title role, Hans Albers gives a surprisingly sensitive performance for such a robust production. He takes the legendary character and gives the viewer a portrait of a dashing, reflective, amorous, compassionate, resourceful man. Whether riding on a cannonball, ingratiating himself with the Ottoman Sultan, or examining the fantastic flora of the lunar planet, Albers always makes Münchhausen totally believable.

All the acting is of a high order, but especially worthy of mention are Ferdinand Marian as the mysterious Count Cagliostro, Brigitte Horney as a flirtatious Catherine the Great, and Gustav Waldau as an aging Casanova.

It should be mentioned that this is not a movie for children. Given its European origins it should come as no surprise that MÜNCHHAUSEN is a good deal more libidinous than the standard Hollywood fare of the time.

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There was a real Baron Karl Friedrich Hieronymus von Münchhausen (1720-1797), a German adventurer and teller of tall tales, but he had nothing to do with the book of fictional exploits which borrowed his name, written by Rudolf Erich Raspe (1737-1794), upon which this film was based.
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10/10
A Hot Time In The Old Town
19 November 2005
A dastardly Chinese criminal in OLD SAN FRANCISCO schemes to possess a lovely señorita and her Spanish land-grant rancho.

Although replete with racial stereotyping, it must be admitted that this vintage Silent film is an awful lot of fun. Produced just before the onset of Talkies, the movie represents the high degree of expertise the Studios had attained in telling a story through the medium of filmed pantomime. Excellent production values, an exciting story and very good acting are all part of the mix in the film's success, while the climaxing special effects depicting the great 1906 San Francisco earthquake & fire are satisfying both visually and as plot development.

Beautiful Dolores Costello is exceptional as the privileged young lady who must survive a terrible adventure into San Francisco's criminal depths, her lovely face & eyes conveying every emotion her character experiences. Joseph Swickard gives a noble performance as her proud, patrician grandfather. High-spirited Charles Emmett Mack ably fills the requisite hero's role as the courageous young Irish lawyer who loves Miss Costello. Looking like evil incarnate, Swedish actor Warner Oland steals a few scenes as the malicious malefactor who plots Miss Costello's undoing.

Exotic Anna May Wong appears briefly as an Underworld minx. Tiny Angelo Rossitto is memorable as Oland's dwarf brother.

Movie mavens will recognize Sojin as a Chinatown elder, John Miljan as a slightly craven Spanish-Californian, and Willie Fung as a smiling servant, all uncredited.
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10/10
A Little Hoodoo
19 November 2005
An RKO-Pathe Screenliner Short Subject.

The nervous have more things to fret about than just the BLACK CATS AND BROOMSTICKS of Halloween.

This humorous little film takes a lighthearted look at fortune predictors (Ouija boards, horoscopes, palmistry, etc.) as well as various superstitions: spilling salt, walking under ladders, Friday the 13th, luck charms, chain letters and so forth.

Often overlooked or neglected today, the one and two-reel short subjects were useful to the Studios as important training grounds for new or burgeoning talents, both in front & behind the camera. The dynamics for creating a successful short subject was completely different from that of a feature length film, something akin to writing a topnotch short story rather than a novel. Economical to produce in terms of both budget & schedule and capable of portraying a wide range of material, short subjects were the perfect complement to the Studios' feature films.
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10/10
Cheap Thrills
7 November 2005
Mysterious murders in a European village seem the result of THE VAMPIRE BAT horde plaguing the terrified community.

This surprisingly effective little thriller was created by Majestic Pictures, one of Hollywood's Poverty Row studios. The sparse production values and rough editing actually add to its eerie atmosphere and lend it an almost expressionistic quality. Overall, it leaves the viewer the feeling of being caught up in a bad dream, which is appropriate for a thriller of this sort.

Even though the eventual explanation for the hideous crimes is quite ludicrous and is not given proper plot development, the film can boast of a good cast. Grave Lionel Atwill gives another one of his typically fine performances, this time as a doctor doing scientific research in an old castle. Beautiful Fay Wray plays his assistant in a role which requires her to do little more than look lovely & alarmed. Dour Melvyn Douglas appears as the perplexed police inspector who also happens to be, conveniently, Miss Wray's boyfriend.

Maude Eburne, who could be extremely funny given the right situation, steals most of her scenes as Miss Wray's hypochondriac aunt. Elderly Lionel Belmore plays the village's terrified burgermeister. And little Dwight Frye, who will always be remembered for his weird roles in the FRANKENSTEIN and Dracula films, here is most effective as a bat-loving lunatic.
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10/10
Sales Wars
7 November 2005
An MGM PETE SMITH SPECIALITY Short Subject

Two housewives engage in BARGAIN MADNESS while competing for the best merchandise at a department store sale.

Eccentric Pete Smith narrates this enjoyable little comedy which illustrates how a couple of friendly neighbors can become bitter rivals over the possession of a bargain-priced girdle.

Often overlooked or neglected today, the one and two-reel short subjects were useful to the Studios as important training grounds for new or burgeoning talents, both in front & behind the camera. The dynamics for creating a successful short subject was completely different from that of a feature length film, something akin to writing a topnotch short story rather than a novel. Economical to produce in terms of both budget & schedule and capable of portraying a wide range of material, short subjects were the perfect complement to the Studios' feature films.
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10/10
Newsreel Oddities
7 November 2005
An MGM PETE SMITH SPECIALITY Short Subject

Some folks will do anything when it comes to CRASHING THE MOVIES.

Narrator Pete Smith gives the viewer an eccentric look at some of the odder sights captured by newsreel photographers, including a fat ladies' diving competition, human cannonballs, and assorted car crashes.

Often overlooked or neglected today, the one and two-reel short subjects were useful to the Studios as important training grounds for new or burgeoning talents, both in front & behind the camera. The dynamics for creating a successful short subject was completely different from that of a feature length film, something akin to writing a topnotch short story rather than a novel. Economical to produce in terms of both budget & schedule and capable of portraying a wide range of material, short subjects were the perfect complement to the Studios' feature films.
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Studio Visit (1946)
10/10
Behind Studio Doors
7 November 2005
An MGM PETE SMITH SPECIALITY Short Subject

Narrator Pete Smith takes the viewer on a tour of a few of the more unusual things to see during a behind-the-scenes STUDIO VISIT.

What gets to be seen is slight-of-hand master Louis Zingone at work; beautiful Lena Horne singing in a bathtub; and remarkable Helen Sue Goldy, aged three, who exhibits her amazing sense of balance.

Often overlooked or neglected today, the one and two-reel short subjects were useful to the Studios as important training grounds for new or burgeoning talents, both in front & behind the camera. The dynamics for creating a successful short subject was completely different from that of a feature length film, something akin to writing a topnotch short story rather than a novel. Economical to produce in terms of both budget & schedule and capable of portraying a wide range of material, short subjects were the perfect complement to the Studios' feature films.
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