Guests included every star of screen, records, and TV you can think of, from Bob Hope, Zsa Zsa Gabor and Burt Reynolds to Michael Jackson, Debbie Reynolds and Vincent Price.
I sure wish Dinah! was available on DVD! Orson Welles, Sammy Davis Jr., Henry Fonda, Shirley MacLaine, Olivia Newton-John, Raquel Welch, Helen Reddy, Frankie Valli -- Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1976! -- George C. Scott, Sean Connery, Victor Borge, Jeff Bridges -- hundreds more stars, see the IMDb cast list for yourself!
George Pal's first science fiction film (earlier he had done Puppetoons and The Great Rupert), Destination Moon earned an Academy Award for Special Effects. Later Mr. Pal would produce more science fiction classics including When World's Collide, War Of The Worlds, and The Time Machine. Photographed in Technicolor with an original musical score by Leith Stevens and stunning artwork by Chesley Bonestell, Destination Moon is a milestone in special effects and a classic in the science fiction genre.
It is said that this film was shown to President Eisenhower to persuade him to support the pre-NASA space programs. On 6 October 1988, after Robert Heinlein's death, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) awarded him the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal: "In recognition of his meritorious service to the Nation and mankind in advocating and promoting the exploration of space. Through dozens of superbly written novels and essays and his epoch-making movie Destination Moon, he helped inspire the Nation to take its first step into space and onto the Moon. Even after his death, his books live on as testimony to a man of purpose and vision, a man dedicated to encouraging others to dream, explore and achieve." -- James C. Fletcher, Administrator, NASA
It's a simple story about a poor family, a timeless story that will ring true to millions of families around the world, similar in type to movies like I Remember Mama, The Human Comedy, and Our Vines Have Tender Grapes, but more serious, and in my opinion even more insightful than those fine films. And it's certainly one of the top five tear-jerkers of all time, up there with films like All Mine to Give, On Borrowed Time, Old Yeller, and Bridge to Terabithia. But it's pleasant to watch, even joyful at times, even if you anticipate the sad part.
Every actor in the film rose to the occasion, bringing the character's of Betty Smith's novel to life with fidelity and veracity, depth and breadth, in several cases giving the best performance of a lifetime. That's certainly the truth in the cases of Peggy Ann Garner as young Francie and James Dunn as her lovable, lovable, and lovable - and alcoholic - lovable father Johnny Nolan, both recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with Oscars for their roles in this movie, for best juvenile performer, and best supporting actor, respectively. But also I think Dorothy McGuire as Francie's mother Katie, Joan Blondell as Aunt Sissy, and Lloyd Nolan as Officer McShane each gave their finest performances ever here. (Funny little coincidence of names: Nolan played Mike Shane in several movies, here he plays McShane in a movie full of Nolans.) There's not much point in detailing the plot here; you should certainly see it for yourself, and it's a shame it's not on DVD yet, as of this writing. Suffice it to say one parent is an irresponsible dreamer, the other a hard provider, both giving love in different ways, and young Francie must learn to retain the best from each. If you've read the book by Betty Smith, this film is very faithful except they left out one incident that would have been considered inappropriate in a film in the 1940s, when young Francie was approached by a molester. The film works perfectly without that.
Another favorite character actor has a small role: James Gleason (Here Comes Mr. Jordan, The Bishop's Wife, Suddenly), as one of Johnny's friends.
It's about a lynch mob preparing to hang a young black woman from a train bridge.
Jada Roberts' performance as the woman is one of the film's strongest points. Another is a "dream" sequence that is more vivid than the "real" parts of the film, adding impact to the conclusion.
The film had a sombre effect on me and, as far as I could detect, the rest of the audience.
The Here Between was mostly filmed in McGraw Park, in Bailey, Colorado, taking advantage of authentic period buildings and other structures along the river, for an historically accurate backdrop.
The two hosts would do a standup bit at the start, like Jack Benny at the start of his old show, then this would be followed by a number of skits. Mainly what I recall is that it was the first time I saw Kevin Pollack's impression of William Shatner. I don't recall any famous guest stars.
The other comedy was usually funny enough to make me laugh, but that was the only thing that stood out enough to recall 20 years later. Still, if it came out on DVD I'd buy it, because it's so hard to find comedy you can be sure will make you laugh, and this was at least that, a sure laugh.
You could tell the film was made with a relatively low budget (occasionally imperfect lighting, for instance), and Arnold's script has a few corny clichés, but on the whole it's original, imaginative, somewhat poignant, and as funny as most comedies out this year. What's more, the film is both entertaining for adults and appropriate for the whole family, with a minimum of the crude humor that permeates most of the other funny movies I've seen this year.
As an added bonus there are a number of cameo appearances by big stars. If you liked Arnold in The Stupids, this one doesn't have quite as much silly humor, but on balance is just as good. Heartily recommended for the whole family.
Ralph (Adam Butcher) is a naughty but naive 14-year-old boy, ready to take almost everything literally, now faced with the paradox of faith. His widowed mother is apparently dying in the hospital, and falls into a coma early in the story. A doctor says it will take a miracle to wake her.
Ralph is an interesting character, his even blend of pure and impure motives providing both the humor that make the film entertaining, and the realism that make it believable. His self-abuse in every sense defines the term, from the usual meaning to literally sanding his knees to pray in a pan of alcohol, the latter recommended by his girlfriend, who aspires to be a nun.
When his Catholic school's cross country coach says it would be a miracle if anyone on his team won the Boston Marathon, Ralph's literal mind seizes a fallacious opportunity. If he wins the Boston Marathon, it would be a miracle, and that's what his mother needs to survive. Most of the movie is about his training to run that race, both physical and spiritual, with the help of a priest (Campbell Scott), a nurse (Jennifer Tilly), and his girlfriend (Tamara Hope).
The blend of comedy and pathos is effective, the film kept entertaining by the comedy in the foreground, while the fact that Ralph's mother is dying keeps us interested in the outcome and rooting for the boy. Even if you don't like running or sports in general, the life at stake, or at least the boy's faith at stake, makes this race important.
There may be a bit too much sexual comedy for most parents to let small children see. For instance, after Ralph's caught in a venal sin in the swimming pool, that involved spying on the girl's locker room, he tells his mother "It was really an accident. The manufacture of the pool was faulty." The incident becomes a running joke, demonstrating Ralph's character trait of not caring what other people think. He later says they didn't really need to drain the pool (I'm not going to explain that, you've got to see it, but it was funny). But it's not as crude as other current comedies like The Wedding Crashers and The Bad News Bears.
I recommend Saint Ralph specifically to anyone who liked Lucas or Rudy, and generally to anyone old enough to take the humor maturely.