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Thriller: Trio for Terror (1961)
OK trio of horror stories
Three short horror stories hosted by Boris Karloff sitting in a London pub. For some reason they all take place in 1905. The first has a man who murders his uncle for his money. Too late he finds out his uncle was a warlock. The second has a man who wins BIG at a casino...but may not live to use his money. The third has a murderer hiding out at a wax museum...but are the figures really wax? Well-acted and well-directed by Ida Lupino. An OK episode of the "Thriler" TV series.
Dr. Frank Cordell (Robert Vaughn) is experimenting with some unknown gas. By mistake he gets a whiff of it. He passes out but wakes up fine. Unfortunately the gas (some how) has a side effect--it makes him go into a murderous rage whenever he hears bells!
Middling episode of the "Thriller" TV series/ The plot is ridiculous and plods along slowly. Also Vaughn gives a rare bad performance. The only bright spots are a good performance by Kathleen Crowley and a small bit by then unknown Marlo Thomas. Also there's a hilarious ending that's supposed to be horrific. This can be skipped.
Not THAT bad but not good either
Mega bomb that chronicles the life of Broadway legend Gertrude Lawrence from the 1930s to the 1940s. Julie Andrews plays the title role. This cost a lot of money to make but it bombed badly. It's easy to see why. Andrews plays Lawrence as a shrill obnoxious woman very full of herself. While that may be factually correct it's not someone you want to spend three hours with. Also the movie is frankly dull. When there's no musical number on the movie comes to a screeching halt and dull dramatic scenes come on. Also this rambles on for three hours!
On the plus side Daniel Massey throws in an Oscar-nominated performance as Noel Coward. He's great! Also all the songs are good and there are eye-popping production numbers. And Andrews wears some beautiful costumes all through the movie. Every scene she has on a different glamorous outfit! Still it doesn't work due to Andrews. She plays her character as such an obnoxious witch that you don't care. Worth seeing for Massey and the musical numbers only.
Thriller: Well of Doom (1961)
Gothic atmospheric Thriller episode
Robert Penrose (Ronald Howard) and friend Jeremy Teal (Torin Thatcher) are being driven through a misty moors to Robert's bachelor party. They're kidnapped by evil Squire Moloch (Henry Daniell) and his helper--the giant muscular Master Styx (Richard Kiel). Moloch and Styx proceed to torture the two men for their own reason.
It's dripping with atmosphere and a strong sense of dread. The acting is good especially by Daniell who chews the scenery. However it's slow in spots and the ending I thought was a huge let down (and highly unlikely). Still 2/3rds of it was great but that ending really hurts. Because of that I can only give it a 6.
Rome Adventure (1962)
For romantics only
Suzanne Pleshette plays librarian Prudence Bell who abandons stuffy New England and moves to Rome. There almost immediately she finds a job and a boyfriend--handsome Tom Porter (Troy Donahue). They date and the picture turns into a travelogue of Rome where they visit all the famous sites. Then they go to the Italian Alps and visit MORE beautiful sites. Then they return to Rome and sadly the last 30 minutes bog down to cornball dramatics with an ex of Dons (Angie Dickinson) showing up. It all ends happily of course.
This film is strictly for romantics. The scenery of Rome is breath-taking and Pleshette and Donahue make a very likable couple. In fact they were briefly married a few years after making this. The movie looks great and has a very lush romantic feel to it. I'm a BIG romantic and I'm not ashamed to admit that I got a little misty-eyed a few times :) There's also good acting by Dickinson and especially Pleshette. Rossano Brazzi also pops up in a small role. Donahue is terrible but looks great. Wonderful romantic film.
Convoluted and boring soap opera
Troy Donahue (in his first starring role) plays Parrish McLean. The plot is VERY confused with too many subplots to get into but here's the main one--Ellen Parrish's widowed mother (Claudette Colbert in her final big screen appearance) marries nasty tobacco famer Judd Raike (Karl Malden) who wants to run all the other tobacco farms out of business. Parrish fights back.
It's too long at 138 minutes and way too plot heavy. A lot of subplots are bought up and dropped completely. The acting is mostly terrible--Donahue is wooden and Malden screams his whole role. Colbert (who came out of retirement for this) tries but the poor woman has nothing to work with. Connie Stevens, Diane McBain and Sharon Hugueny are good in supporting roles but not enough to save the movie. Dull and forgettable. Beware commercial TV prints which cut the movie by about 40 minutes to fit into a two hour time slot.
Deadpool 2 (2018)
Good but familiar
Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) Has todeal with a teen mutant called Firefist (Julian Dennison) who has anger issues. Then Cable (Josh Brolin) comes from the future. It seems Firefist as an adult killed his wife and kid and wants to kill him before he grows up.
Sequel to the wildly successful original. However it's not as good. A LOT of the jokes are carried over from the original and they aren't funnier the second time around. Also at almost two hours it's too long. On the plus side the acting is good and Brolin clearly enjoys playing Cable. Lots of action and violence too. So--it's up to you if you want to see it.
Palm Springs Weekend (1963)
Pretty terrible but harmless
Fluff about a bunch of college kids spending Easter Week vacation in Palm Springs. There's Jim Munroe (Troy Donahue) romancing a local girl (Stefanie Powers) whose overprotective father happens to be the chief of police. Then there's innocent Gail (Connie Stevens) falling for psycho Eric (Robert Conrad) but is watched over by sweet Stretch (Ty Hardin). The odious comic relief of the kids named Biff (Jerry Van Dyke) falls for nerdy Amanda (Zeme North), AND the coach of the boys basketball team (Jack Weston) falls for Rosalind Russell sound alike Naomi (Carole Cook).
The comedy is stupid, the complications predictable and there's zero believability here but I liked it! This falls squarely in the so-bad-it's-good category. The color is strong, the cast is certainly attractive and there's good acting by Stevens and Powers. Only real debit-=Robert Conrad. His character is clearly a psycho and Stevens keeps going out with him! I know she's naïve but THAT naïve? Still this is harmless fluff and terrible but fun.
This takes place in the late 1960s. Claude Bukowski (John Savage) travels from Oklahoma to NYC to join the Army. While in NY he falls in with a group of hippies. They sing and dance about 1960s issues. Claude also falls for rich beautiful Sheila Franklin (Beverly D'Angelo). They all try to prevent Claude from going but he does...and finds basic training is a living hell.
The plot is kind of vague as are the characters but this still works. The songs are great, the acting is on target, the costumes are VERY colorful and the dancing is energetic and directed by the legendary Twyla Tharp. Naturally it's dated but you get caught right up in it. Also, like the stage play this has female AND male nudity! This was a bomb when it came out in 1979 but has since developed a cult following. Highly recommended. Look for the late Nell Carter singing "White Boys".
Thriller: The Merriweather File (1961)
Someone is trying kill Anne Merriwether (Bethel Leslie). Two attempts have already been made on her life Also her husband Charles (Ross Elliott) has been arrested for having a dead body in the trunk of his car He claims he doesn't know who it is...but is he lying? Also is he trying to kill his wife?
Excellent entry in the "Thriller" TV series. It moves quickly and is well-acted. It also has many twists and turns and a surprise ending that shocked me. This has easily got to be one of the best entries for that series.
Book Club (2018)
Minor but enjoyable
Four middle-aged women have a book club that meets once a month to discuss a book. They read Fifty Shades of Grey and they decide to explore their sexual sides. Diane Keaton is a widow who meets a great guy (Andy Garcia) but her adult children control her. Jane Fonda uses men for sex only until she meets an old flame (Don Johnson). Candice Bergen can't seem to let go of her husband who divorced her 18 years ago. Mary Steenburgen has been happily married for 35 years...but they don't have sex anymore.
Basically this is a PG-13 Lifetime movie with a stellar cast. For what it is its not bad. I laughed long and hard more than once and the cast was great in their roles. All the stories had predictable but satisfying outcomes. Worth seeing but wait for it on TV.
Grease 2 (1982)
Terrible but I've seen worse
Sequel to the inexplicably popular "Grease" !1978). It's 1961 and Maxwell Caulfield plays MIchael--an English student who comes to America to attend Rydell High. There he meets beautiful Stephanie (Michelle Pfeiffer before she hit it big) and falls in love. However she only dates bikers and he's not one.
There's lots wrong with this movie. It's too long, all the high school kids look like 30, there's a few REALLY bad songs, the dialogue is terrible and most of the acting is horrid. On the other hand--most of the songs are great (LOVE the "Reproduction" number with Tab Hunter clearly enjoying himself), there are a few great huge production numbers with great dancing and singing and there's some good acting by Pfeiffer, Tab Hunter, Eve Arden (in her last film), Didi Conn and Lorna Luft. Also Caulfield is GORGEOUS and great to look at--even though he can't act. So it is bad but watchable.
Walking Tall (1973)
Drive-in classic doesn't age well
Movie based on the real life exploits of Buford Pusser. He was a sheriff in a small town in Tennessee who, almost single-handedly, cleaned up the corruption that was running the town. In the movie he' s played by Joe Don Baker. He also has a wife (Elizabeth Hartman) and two young kids. For trying to clean up the town Pusser is attacked multiple times, almost has his car driven off the road, is shot at and, in the most disgusting scenes, the family dog is shot dead and his wife is brutally murdered.
I saw this when I was 11 at a drive-in. I remember loving it and being shocked by the amount of blood and violence (it was, for its time, VERY bloody). Seeing it today it's slow, way too long and not as bloody as what we get today. Sometimes it plays like an R rated TV movie with flat direction, silly dialogue and crappy music. Also the filmmakers show no shame when they push the graphic killings of the dog and wife into the audiences face. Good acting by Baker and Hartman only help to a point. Mostly I was bored and disgusted. Only for drive-in movie completists.
Sincerely Yours (1955)
The first (and last) movie that Liberace ever did. He plays a brilliant concert pianist named Anthony Warren. He also has a gruff but lovable manager (William Demarest), a secretary who secretly loves him (Joanne Dru) and a beautiful woman (Dorothy Malone) who inexplicably also loves him and wants to marry him. The first 45 minutes or so are OK. It sets up the characters and has Liberace playing the piano a lot--and he was good. Then he starts to go deaf...and the film falls to pieces. The music stops and ridiculous dramatics take over. Liberace was known for his piano playing---why give him drama to do? He simply can't act and his attempts at emoting are painful to watch. Malone and Dru are also shamefully wasted. Only Demarest is any good. It's shot in rich beautiful color and has a totally improbable happy ending. This was a disaster at the box office and quickly forgotten. Bad and boring. Skip it.
The Sound of Music (1965)
One of the best musicals ever made
Based on a real life story. This takes place in Salzburg, Austria in 1939. Captain Von Trapp (Christopher Plummer) needs a governess to help control his seven children whose mother has died. The captain is VERY stern and treats his children like slaves. Maria (Julie Andrews) a nun is hired for the job. She quickly tames the children and has them singing. She even gets through to the captain. However he is engaged to be married to an evil Baroness (Eleanor Parker) who just wants him for his money.
Beautiful scenery, great songs and a wonderful performance by Andrews. Sure it's syrupy and TOO sweet but I find it irresistible. The three hours just fly by whenever I see it. All the kids are OK and Parker does what she can in the evil woman role. The only real debit here is Plummer. He didn't want to do it and that comes through loud and clear. He called it "The Sound of Mucus" and complained about his singing voice being dubbed. So his performance is bad but doesn't ruin the movie.
All in all I LOVE this movie and heartily recommend it. Best part: Peggy Wood as the Mother Abbess belting out "Climb Every Mountain".
Lousy horror movie about a sea monster attacking and killing 20-somethings at a beach in California. Most of the adults hate the kids because they dance to bad music and go surfing. You also see a killing within the first few minutes. A guy in a stupid suit covered with seaweed, a fish head and claws kills a girl. He just strangles her and casually walks away! The suit is stupid looking and most likely will have viewers laughing! The acting is lousy, the dramatics terrible and the killings just involve the victims being dead with some blood on their face or necks. Some of the kids are good-looking and have nice bodies but that's about it. Skip it.
Invisible Agent (1942)
OK war melodrama
Fran k Griffin (Jon Hall) is the grandson of the original invisible man and still has the formula under lock and key. He has no intention of it being used but decides to help the US in the war effort. He parachutes into Germany and uses his powers of invisibility to help the US. He also gets involved with German and Japanese spies (Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Peter Lorre) and a beautiful British spy (Ilona Massey).
This is an OK war melodrama with touches of invisibility as a gimmick. For what it is it's OK. It moves quickly, the cast is good and the special effects are adequate. This was made solely as a morale booster for WWII audiences and it works on that level. As a horror movie though it's a dud.
The Invisible Woman (1940)
Loud and stupid slapstick comedy
A scientist (a sadly aged John Barrymore) invents a machine that can turn people invisible. He experiments on a young woman (Virginia Bruce) and it works. However the effect wears off after a while. Then some buffoonish gangsters get involved and the movie becomes unbearable.
Squarely aimed at kids and full of violent unfunny slapstick. The cast (which also includes John Howard and Margaret Hamilton) are good but the material isn't there for them. The special effects are good but sparsely used (the film is only 70 minutes). The biggest problem in this film is seeing the great John Barrymore looking terrible in what was one of his last film roles. The role is clearly beneath him but he gives it his all. Still this is an unfunny and violent comedy that is forgettabke. Skip it.
Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Too longbut worthwhile
The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy combine forces to battle Thanos (Josh Brolin). It seems he has a glove that needs five stones to give him power to control the galaxy. He has three on the and will do ANYTHING to get the last two.
It's too long and has no ending but I still loved it! The CGI Is flawless, the action scenes are fast and furious and the story whizzes along. The movie does assume you've seen every Marvel comic book film to get the characters so be warned. The acting is great and the movie manages to juggle multiple characters and plots and still make sense. Can't wait for part 2! :)
Up the Down Staircase (1967)
Well-done comedy drama
Sandy Dennis plays a young teacher who is assigned to an inner city school in NYC in the early 1960s. You see here deal with tons of red tape at the school and students who don't care.
Based on a 1964 book written by an actual NYC teacher. The tone of the film (and book) is light but it doesn't ignore the problems the students have. It offers no solutions but brings up some interesting questions. Shot at an actual NYC high school during the summer break which helps lead realism to the movie. All the acting is excellent.
Gripping but hard to watch
The story of Karen Carpenter. It's all about her rise to fame and her battle with anorexia which killed her at the far too young age of 32. It's all done using dolls to portray the people. Also they show what was going on in the world at the time and cards explaining how anorexia destroys women. This is a deadly serious short and VERY depressing. I almost was in tears as you see and hear Karen trying to fight the disease. It also portrays her family very badly. Her brother is shown as being gay and verbally abusive. Her mother comes across as a controlling witch. Harrowing but fascinating.
This has supposedly banned due to unauthorized use of the Carpenters music but I saw it uncut on YouTube.
The Moon Is Blue (1953)
Amusing sex comedy
Donald Gresham (William Holden) meets young perky Patty O'Neill (Maggie McNamara) atop the Empire State building. They agree to go out to dinner...but no sex. Then Donald's ex Cynthia (Dawn Addams) won't let him go and her father David Slater (David Niven) gedts involved. Then HE falls for Patty and makes the moves on her.
Once considered very risqué (for using the words "virgin" and "seduce") this is now very tame PG rated material. That doesn't mean it's bad though. The script is great, the acting on target (McNamara was nominated for an Academy Award) and it moves quickly. The sexual ;poltics in it are dated but the film IS over 60 years old. Worth a look.
Boring and stupid
Dr .Rodney Barrett (William Prince) is a small town doctor. Nobody likes him because they blame him in the deaths of two sisters. He also has an adorable little girl of his own. One day he returns home to find his child is missing. then his friend gets a phone call telling her that the child has been kidnapped and buried alive. The doctor has four hours to find her before she dies.
Ideal set-up for a great horror film fails. The acting is terrible, the pace lethargic and the countless flashbacks add nothing to the story. I had figured out halfway through who had done it but didn't know the reason why. This was in the famous movie where viewers were given an insurance policy assuring them that their relatives would receive money if they died of fright. The only thing that anyone would die from would be boredom! Skip it.
A Quiet Place (2018)
Disturbing but fascinating
This focuses on a family--father Lee (John Krasinski), mother Evelyn (Emily Blunt) and their two kids. It seems Earth has been invaded by aliens. The aliens are blind but react to sound. When they hear sounds they attack and kill. The family hide out in a remote farmhouse...but can never make a sound or the aliens will attack.
It starts off slow but slowly builds up to a final 20-30 minutes that will have you on the edge of your seat. Virtually the entire movie is in dead silence. You have to see this with a dead quiet audience. There is occasionally some background music and even some dialogue but this is sparse. The acting is great by the whole cast (Blunt is superb) and the aliens are incredibly gruesome. It also includes disturbing but not graphic violence. Worth watching but disturbing. Also this deserves an R rating not the PG-13 it got.
Sagebrush Law (1943)
My first Tim Holt western
I'm not a fan of westerns and usually can't stand the ones that were made quickly in the 1940s and 1950s. They usually ran an hour or so, had ridiculously simple plots and enough fights and action to keep the kids in the audience satisfied. This is no exception. Still, for what it is, it's not bad. The fights and action were exciting and Holt is tall and handsome in the lead. He couldn't act at all but these were not acting films. The only debits were his annoying sidekick (the odious comic relief) and some REALLY bad "humor. Still I was entertained.