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Red Barry (1938)
5/10
From Print To Celluloid With Nary Any Revision
23 June 2018
Warning: Spoilers
WITH THE FILMING and release of this 13 Chapter Serial, Universal brought us the 3rd one of 5 to star Clarence Linden (aka Larry) "Buster Crabbe.* It followed the first 2 of the 3 FLASH GORDON'S and also predated BUCK ROGERS. It would appear the the gang at Universal were puting Mr. Crabbe to good use, especially that he was under contract to Paramount and a loaned commodity.

THE SUBJECT MATTER and tone of RED BARRY widely deviates with the sci-fi base others and even though its plot lines do get a trifle fanciful and far-fetched, it still maintains a felling of contact with reality. The hero,a plainclothes Detective for an unnamed City's Police Department, was a rugged loaner, who managed to get all of the biggest and toughest assignments.

THE TONE AND scenario of the 13 chapters manages to remain faithful to this format and does so by honoring the time tested elements of the "Chapter Play", "the Cliff-Hanger" and any and all types of serialized fiction then popular in all of the weekly magazines. It also keeps the setting right up to date with its inclusion of the conflicts that plagued China from Imperial Japan in the 1930's.

HAVING DESIGNATED AS the central items of interest and corpus delecti of the major crime in the story, the writer/director team has a million dollars worth of bonds, sent via Currier by Nationalist Chinese (Chiang Kai Shek) to America in order to purchase weapons for defense. Well the poor bonds got stolen, recovered and re-stolen countless times in the course of the 13 Chapters, all with Undercover Detective Red Barry's being in hot pursuit. Red manages to shoot, get knocked unconscious, crash several cars, survive fall from a freight train and even gets suspended from the force by the commissioner.

THE SERIAL MAY seem a little "old hat" and dated, particularly in its lack of "Political Correctness" that we are so steeped in today. With regard to its characters of Oriental race, they are treated as very foreign. Even those who are American seem to be very apart. Characters fro the comic strip share this condition with such names as "Hong Kong Cholly (not Charlie) and some of the big shot gang leaders.

THAT THE POPULARITY of thc Red Barry Comic Strip was very high would seem to be a no brainer. It was widely read and distributed by the syndicate (Hearst's King Features) to warrant adaption to the screen. That meant Big Buck$ would travel from Universal to King Features. butits popularity with the public and successes all came to a halt shortly after the release of the serial.

IT SEEMS THAT financial considerations between creator Will Gould and the people at King Features led to his departure and the last case for RED BARRY. Mr. Gould then became a screenwriter and successfully remained so for his lifetime.

WE ENJOYED OUR viewing of this serial, particularly because Turner Classic Movies ran it the old fashioned way, one chapter a week. This brought us back and, thanks to our DVR, we still have all the chapters.

IT HAS BEEN said that Buster Crabbe had felt very self conscious about having his hair bleached blonde for his role of Flash Gordon. Although the serials are in glorious B & W, it does appear that they turned his hair Red for the role. (on this matter we can speak with some authority as this writer (me) is a born and bred redhead.

IN CONCLUSION, WE recommend it for your viewing; if only to see a redheaded Buster without a ray gun or Emperor Ming.
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MacArthur (1977)
8/10
We Did Return (to a Biopic about WW II Military Heroics)
22 June 2018
FOLLOWING ON THE heels of the successes of Frank J. Schaffner's epic story of "Old Blood & Guts" in PATTON (20th Century-Fox, 1970), one could easily come to the conclusion that MAC ARTHUR (Universal, 1977) was imitating a Hollywood trend. That was our mistaken notion up until very recently. We finally screened the movie and discovered our folly.

ADMITTEDLY THERE WERE a few carryovers from the George C. Scott tour-de-force (most notably Producer Frank McCarthy and the original score by Composer Jerry Goldsmith), but that's about how far it goes. The two films bore little in common outside of their both belonging to the same category of Epic Military Biographies.

THE PROBLEMS IN storytelling called for a different approach for MAC ARTHUR as the period of time was much longer and more diverse than was the earlier film. In PATTON, we follow about 3 years in a career that lasted over 35 years. It begins with his assuming Command of II Corps following the disastrous Battle of Kasserine Pass in Tunisia. It ends with the aftermath of V.E. Day; ending the War in Europe.

THE TIMELINE OF the production of MAC ARTHUR called for the earliest days of the War in the Pacific, with General Douglas Mac Arthur's being the Supreme Allied Commander in the Philippines. It extends its timeline through the end of the War and up to the Korean War of 1950-53.

IT WAS THE conduct of the General in disregarding the orders from President Harry S. Truman that led to his being demoted and brought home; albeit to great heaping of a Hero's welcome. (THat included an address before a joint session of the Senate and the House of Representatives.*)

OTHER THAN THESE above mentioned factors, the film MAC ARTHUR was a first class, non copycat production that stands on its own two feet. Its filming locations, military equipment & personnel were very convincing and accurate. The Battle scenes are convincing and did expertly weave in some newsreel footage. The production team really made the viewer feel that he was there.

WE MUST BE sure to pay proper homage and respect to the ensemble cast for acting they provided, that includes all support people. As for the lead role of Douglass Mac Arthur, he did his best to "become" the man he was portraying. The inclusion of not one but two Presidents was handled with the greatest skill. Both Dan O'Herlihy (Franklin D. Roosevelt) and Ed Flanders (Harry S. Truman) filled out their roles to the ultimate level.

NOTE * We feel a particular fondness for this film as this writer (John T. Ryan) as a preschool youngster of about 4 1/2 years old, witnessed the famous "Old soldiers never die, they just fade away !" speech of April 19, 1951. It was on our recently purchased Du Mont Television set. My Mother (Bertha Fuerst Ryan) explained who and what the General was to me. It's one of my earliest recollections and very vivid over 67 years later. Thanks Ma !
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9/10
He Was A Frenchman !
20 June 2018
THIS STATEMENT ABOUT the Errol Flynn character by co-star, Paul Lukas, summed it all up so beautifully !

AS FAR AS being typical fare for the swashbuckling Mr. Flynn, it most definitely was not that. It was, however, a very intelligent mixture of several film genres. It was an excellent specimen of the hybridization of the Detective Story, the Good Buddy picture and at he same time managed to be a not so subtle reminder of the importance of the on going conflict known as World War II.

ANOTHER ASPECT THAT we find deeply en-grained in the films' pedigree is that of the then little known and underused story of the "Anti-hero." This dramatic device would prove to be a top box office element of pictures of the 1970's; but quite possibly had no one known identity during this period.

SET IN NAZI occupied France during 1943, the production team does a fine job of giving us authentic looking French cities and towns and likewise achieves the same effect when it comes to the look and mannerism of the supporting players. Whereas some of the character actors and actresses were charged with affecting a Hollywood style French accent, the practice did not extend to Mr. Flynn's character. (Co-star, Mr. Paul Lukas, was already endowed with a God-given, natural Continental European manner of speech and accent.)

THE MEMBERS OF the supporting cast included Sheldon Leonard (as a Paris Underworld counter-part to his already well known American gangster portrayals), Faye Emerson, the eternal Cop-James Flavin, Dennis Hoey, Douglas Dumbrille, Victor Kilian and Pedro de Cordoba.

IT HAS BEEN said that Mr. Flynn (who by the way became a U.S. Citizen in 1942) wished to use a vehicle such as this to prove his acting ability was extended far beyond that of the Swashbuckler that he so often portrayed so well.

IT CAN BE said with some great certainty that in the production of UNCERTAIN GLORY, that Robin Hood/Gentleman Jim/Captain Blood/Sea Hawk well succeeded with plenty of room to spare.
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5/10
Turning History Into Short Subject
12 June 2018
ONCE AGAIN WE are indebted to the folks over at TURNER CLASSIC MOVIES cable channel for bringing us yet another non-comedic short from the bygone days of a very different Hollywood. Rather than using series such as Laurel & Hardy, the Three Stooges or Leon Errol to warm up an audience by tickling the proverbial funny-bone, the Historical Short uses its one or two reels of allotted time to examine and shed light on any one of a plethora of terms and incidents from our many faceted past.

WHEN ONE TAKES for consideration the subject of today's review, "the Monroe Doctrine", just what does this actually mean ? Surely everyone has run across this phrase many times, but what was or is it in actuality ? The film provided us with at least a fundamental and beginning explanation.

WE ARE MAGICALLY transported via the medium of film to the White House during the Administration of James Monroe (1817-25). We find that certain European Powers have designs on now what were free and independent republics in the Americas. Spain was named as the number one offender in this matter. It was the decisive and bold move by use of Executive Order, as penned and published by President Monroe that gave notice and fair warning to such would be aggressors. By this measure, the United States recognized the newly independent Latin American Republics of Argentina, Peru, Colombia, Chile and Mexico-declaring that any aggression toward these nations or other newly formed independent states, would constitute an act of war against the USA.

WHILE THESE NEWLY free, independent countries were protected, the caveats did not pertain to any then existing colonies. They could remain dominions of any European power (Spain to be exact), but expansion would not e tolerated.

THE FILM THEN cites examples of various invocations of the Monroe Doctrine down through the years. The most famous application of the policy was probably the situation of the French invasion of Mexico during our Civil War, with Louis Napoleon (Napoleon III) bringing in the Hapsburg Prince, Maximilian, to be Emperor. (Skillfully dramatized in feature film, JUAREZ (Warner Brothers, 1939).

ANOTHER NOTEWORTHY ITEM in the short, THE MONROE DOCTRINE, is the casting of actor Sydney Blackmer as President Theodore Roosevelt. It would seem that Mr. Blackmer was indeed doing a good business in the Teddy impersonations; which seemed to be a most common occurrence in film.

THE REAL VALUE of these historical short dramas is not that they provide such a deep and scholarly view of our history; but rather that they give us what is at least a starting point. We can always follow up our movie going with a trip to the public library.
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5/10
The Bully Bully-Pulpit
24 May 2018
ONCE AGAIN WE are indebted to Turner Classic Movies for bringing us together with movie shorts which are not comedies (farce usually) and introducing many to the "educational" or "historic" types. Although confined to the sum of two reels of celluloid, these pictures do serve at least to a sort of primer on a given area of study. Their exhibition invites the viewer to do some further research of his own at rge local public library.

AS FOR THE production itself, TEDDY THE ROUGH RIDER turns in a remarkably Grade "A" look from stem to stern. This was no doubt at least due in part to the resourcefulness of the Warner Brothers'/Vitaphone's extensive experiences at using and reusing just about every sort of action, adventure and dramatic scene and out take available. Hence, you may see many shots here that were taken from the likes of DODGE CITY (Warner Brothers, 1939).

AS FOR THE treatment of History in this Historical Mini-Biography, t is, of necessity condensed, compressed and somewhat freely embellished. We learn that Roosevelt was rapidly promoted up the political ladder from NYC Police Commissioner, New York State Assemblyman, NY Governor and then to the Office of VP under William McKinley -all basically for being a thorn in the side of the Political Machine.

BUT IN THE END, Teddy fooled them, succeeding McKinley as President upon the assassination of the latter on September 14, 1901. This was the ultimate culmination in a most diverse and obstacle laden life, even for a "spoiled" rich kid.

TEDDY HAD STARTED his life as an asthmatic plagued, skinny, little kid. He spent a good deal of his youthful time in making himself bigger, stronger and much more masculine and robust individual. He could have been called the original "97 pound weakling", even before the days of the Charles Atlas ads.

THIS NEED AND drive to both prove and improve his masculine self continued right up to his organizing the famous U.S. Army Rough Riders of the Spanish- American War.

WHICH NEATLY BRINGS us back to the title of this film.
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Victory Quiz (1942)
8/10
Take Out Your Pencils & Paper..........
21 May 2018
..........For Today's Surprise Quiz !

THIS IS ANOTHER in the very long line of specialty shorts that were "Produced and Narrated by a Smith named Pete !" The series was well known at the time of this release and very popular. Years later, during the reign of the Baby Boomer Generation, we even had a PETE SMITH THEATRE on television in the local Chicago market. We believe that it was broadcast over NBC affiliate, WNBQ (now WMAQ), Channel 5 on your dial.

THIS ENTRY INTO the series was comic, though in a more subdued strain. Rather than the raucous and slapstick variety that Mr. Smith and Dave O'Brien usually dished out. If such a thing is possible in a PETE SMITH short, subtlety was the operative. The laughs, which didn't seem to approach the threshold of the belly-laugh, were confined to chuckles and snickers.

BEING THAT THE current time was that of our (USA) active participation in the many fronted World War II, the characters and situations were appropriately chosen to reflect the great conflict. Among the uncredited actors used to perform the snippet scenes depicted were regular Dave O'Brien and "Skipper" himself, a very young Alan Hale, Jr.

THE PART OF the film that was the quiz featured all questions that were relative to the inventions of modern warfare and in having us guess just when the first prototypes were produced. There were also some words about service jargon and the highly specialized terms that military service, as well as just about any and all walks of life have developed.

OVERALL AND WITH all things considered, we found this to be a very amusing and worthwhile short, over 3/4 of a century after its production and initial release.
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Hitler Lives (1945)
4/10
All About Those Bad Germans, But ..........
20 May 2018
...........Nothing About The Versailles Treaty.

OKAY, WE GET it. The War in Europe was over. "The Fuhrer", Adolf Hitler was now history. But we all must be vigilant in seeing that the ideas promulgated by the German Nazi Party, the Italian Fascist Party, the Imperial Japanese or any of the other groups advocating such political systems anywhere and everywhere are held in check. The film gets on to that idea very early on and continues so for the duration of the approximately 17 minutes on the screen.

WHEREAS WE DO understand that we must view a picture like this through the prism of time that was another period. The autocratically crafted narration by then famed newsman, Knox Manning, was appropriate at this time; what with World War II in Europe now just ended and Japan still fanatically fighting for the Land of the Rising Sun and their Emperor.

BUT STILL WE find that the story line (scenario or plot if you will) was just a little too heavy handed with its indictment of the German people as being inherently warlike. While we concede that the militarism of the Kingdom of Prussia was solely responsible for so many past wars.

THIS CONVENTIONAL WISDOM about the cause of World War I was the fault of Germany is flawed and biasedly thought out at best. Although the Imperial German government of Kaiser Wilhelm II would share in the blame, the other major powers of Austria-Hungary, Italy, France, Great Britain and Russia were certainly far from innocent. And we mustn't forget Serbia, whose people had a widespread case of nationalism; which led to the April 28, 1914 assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which in turn was the start of the First World War.

AND THAT EVENT brings us down to the end of hostilities on the 11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month or November 11, 1918. In turn, the Treaty of Versailles was negotiated between the Allied Powers and Germany on June 28, 1919. But rather than restoring a true state of peace, the aim was to punish Germany; as the Versailles agreement would testify to. With about 420 ordnances in the document, 400 were designed to punish Germany.

SUCH A DOCUMENT would surely lead to widespread suffering and resentment among the German people. In turn, one would expect that a radical political party and leader would emerge seeking revenge.

AND WASN'T THAT just what Hitler and thed Nazi Party were ?
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6/10
Minor Effort......Yet Could Be a "Prototypical" Avery Effort
11 April 2018
OTHER THAN THE central character of a love starved skunk who has no problem with trans-species relationships, there is nothing to distinguish this entry into MGM's animation department. That's no to say that it isn't interesting, enjoyable and full of yuks, for it is.

FILLING THE ONE reel of cartoon with such a slim premise is made possible with Director Avery's inclusion of multiple examples of two of his favorite tools. Those would be the sight gag and its literary cousin, the play on words or "pun", if you will.

WELL, ANYWAY THE cartoon was not meant to be the main event; but rather a sort of warm up for the movie going public of the day. It was supposed to get the program progressing along to the feature film in a happy, ,receptive mood.

AND WE BELIEVE that Mr. Frederick Bean "Tex" Avery did well achieve this end!
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Suddenly (1954)
8/10
Vest Pocket Feature
11 April 2018
HERE IS YET another film that has been completely an unknown commodity to us until recently. In spite of an obviously frugal budget, the story and the execution of the plot line proves to be quite captivating. The staging of the scenes that comprise the picture did tend to bring to mind the small screen production of a few years later, namely the ZIV Television Productions' HIGHWAY PATROL; which of course starred Broderick Crawford. Both the film and that series exploited the highways and small towns of California for realistic, yet inexpensive locations.

AS FOR THE cast, it can only be called a mixed bag. It sports a mixture of talent ranging from the starring combo of Frank Sinatra and Sterling Hayden, to topp support from Nancy Gates, James Gleason and Willis Bouchey and lesser known relative newcomers Paul frees (the voice actor extraordinaire), Paul Wexler, Clark Howat and James Liburn (real life brother of Maureen O'Hara).

THIS PRODUCTION BECAME a particularly important chapter in the career of Mr. Sinatra. His interpretation of a psychotic homicidal maniac hired hit man proved to many that his dramatic abilities. His Oscar winning portrayal of Private Angelo Maggio in FROM HERE TO ETERNITY was shown to be no fluke.

AS FOR OUR own observations, we saw a believable, complex, even somewhat sympathetic personality in his rendering of hit man, John Baron. It was this complex or even split personality that made it even more menacing. We also detected a similiarity and possible influence of Richard Widmark's Tommy Udo in KISS OF DEATH (20th Century-Fox, 1947).

THE IDEA OF an attempted assassination of a United States President seemed to be an unlikely and far fetched premise for a film; that is until nine years later when John F. Kennedy was murdered in Dallas. After that, the plot became common place.
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5/10
Well, Well-Whaata ya know ! A Frank Mc Hugh Starring Vehicle !
23 March 2018
WE DIDN'T WRITE that opening title to be neither cruel nor seemingly unappreciative of the talents and body of work of Mr. Mc Hugh. He was a versatile and highly underrated performer. Much as is the case with certain "Stars", Frank's fine work at the comedic, "Comic Relief" if you will, that both put him in great demand, yet held his roles usually to a good buddy to the hero.

BUT THIS PICTURE, although it did exploit the lovable little man persona that Frank had long before mastered, was just a little different. Rather than Mc Hugh's being a friend and sort of "sidekick" to the main character (James Cagney, Bing Crosby, Robert Armstrong), it was his destiny to be the (comedic) center of attention. the Star of the show, the big cheese.

AND IT WAS a fine job and somewhat underplayed characterization that was his ultimate contribution to this, a highly overlooked and even forgotten little comedy. Other than Frank's being in demand as a second bananna, it is a mystery that this role didn't spawn a whole series of Frank Mc Hugh comedies

BUT, OF COURSE, as with any human endeavor, this was not a solo accomplishment. Kudos are awarded to those who labored in rendering a very quick moving, unpretentious and enjoyable second feature ("B"). First up is Director Mervyn LeRoy followed by an outstanding cast of versitile supporting players The lineup boasted of the names: Joan Blondell, Allen Jenkins, Guy Kibbee, Sam Levene, Edgar Kennedy,Carol Hughes, Teddy Hart, Eddie "Rochester" Anderson,Paul Harvey, Virginia Sale, Harry Davenport.

WITH ITS RUNNING time of 86 minutes, it would be a n hour and a half well spent, if only once.
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Fat City (1972)
The unglamours view from the bottom.
24 December 2017
NO MATTER WHAT the field of endeavor, there are always the stories of those successful at the top of the ladder and those who struggle yet remain on the bottom wrung. We are generally exposed to the "glamour"of being Champ or at least being considered a Contender. For every one who is successful at getting to the pinnacle of any particular field, there is a multitude of those who do not make it. Director John Huston chose to show us this view.

THE STORY TELLS us of two sort of "Minor Leaguers"or "Ham & Eggers", whose relationship is not really all that close . It's only through the chance meeting of the young and aspiring pugilist (Jeff Bridges) and the journeyman (Stacey Keach) that the two are acquainted. It was the occasion of a chance meetin at a workout for both at thye local YMCA that they sparred. The "old guy" (30 year old) Keach tells the young (19 year old) Bridges that he had the right stuff to turn pro. He sends him to the veteran trainer Nicholas Colasanto.

OTHER THAN THE beginning of the film ans the end, the two do not hardly cross paths. There's is a relationship that is there for comparison and contrast.

IN MANY WAYS that may not be apparent at first, the settings and overall incidents in the story remind us of an earlier work of Mr. John Huston. That would be THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE (Warner Brothers, 1948); which has come to be revered more and more as a true Classic as the years roll by.

ANOTHER MOST INTERESTING aspect of this film is its settings in the not so pretty worlds of suburbia and the city that we have become all too accustomed to viewing. The characters are flawed to be sure. But they do have hope to better their lot in life.

AS WE ALL know fro our real world experiences; some make it and some do not.
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7/10
"Ounce Of Prevention.........." (you know the rest)
7 July 2017
WE HAVE ONLY recently became aware of this relic from the 1940's & bit of World War II American propaganda. As with so many other titles, we sort of accidentally bumped into it on Youtube.com. Being that the running time was listed at 17 minutes and change, we immediately watched it.

IN MUCH THE same manner as so many other films produced by the United States War effort, it is of surprisingly good, high quality production value, acting and effectiveness. This short manages to reach the subject and bring it in a highly effective manner to us, the viewing audience. And that message is one that is as pertinent to today's America and the whole, cockeyed World.

THE VERY FABRIC is the fact that we, as a people have a more than a casual and abrupt with the sort of discriminations. Although we may be aware and therefore, more or less immune from being taken over by such prejudices. But there is still danger of transferring at least some of these irrational dislike to the area of judging people not by race, creed, color or nationality; but by socio-economic status, income or occupation.

WHILE IT SURELY may be true that at least some of us have managed to recognize and avoid such discriminating when it comes to nationality, ethnicity and race-the same person may be inundated with petty peeves concerning anything that is found in the brotherhood of man.

THE VERY STRAIGHT forward story gets right to the point. There are indeed those who are less than honest with us. They may be sneak thieves, stick-up men or grifters. They are not by any means apt to be looking out for their fellow man, unless of course they can scam him.

THE LITTLE FILM manages to assemble the greatest little cast of players that one could imagine. Our cast includes: Paul Lukas, Chick Chandler, George Chandler, George E. Stone, Richard Lane (hey, it's Inspector Faraday!)and a number of actors that might be familiar to you by their names, but not by name.

ALTHOUGH IT APPEARS that many of our colleagues have panned this little movie, we must register our complaint to take the opposite position. The atrocities that plagued the World, and especially Europe, did not come about over night. It all started small and grew, unchecked.

AS A REMEDY for such happenings, may we suggest application of just a couple of old adages:

Do Unto Others As you Would Have Them Do Unto You.

Judge Not Lest You Will Be Judged.
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Hollywood Remembers (2000– )
5/10
Bargain Basement Biography .............
20 June 2017
....................dominates this series production. From the very opening through a particular installment, it is obvious to the viewer that this is the case. This is the one caveat that we would insist on having disseminated before anyone undertakes watching.

THE FILM CLIPS that are utilized in weaving a coherent half hour are obviously culled from so much "public domain" footage as well as some rather old prints of feature film trailers that must have come down to the production team via some old, 1950's television releases. The "previews of coming attractions" are in b & w, even when the picture being plugged is in color; as are its trailers.

ADDED TO THAT is what is most likely inexpensive, stock music that plays at opening and during the extensive informative narration. To the series' credit, the music is easy on the ears and never rises to the level of being neither competition for the narrator (Greg O'Neil ), nor does it become an annoyance to the viewer.

MAYBE IT MAY sound as if we are being just a trifle harsh in our assessment of film oriented anthology. For this we apologize in advance.

IT IS OBVIOUS that those who brought us Hollywood REMEMBERS did so having strong feelings concerning love of film and "the movies." Just because they lacked those deep pockets needed to finance a big time production, doesn't reflect on their sincerity. And even though most of what is discussed during a particular installment may well be common knowledge to most film buffs, there is always some little tidbit of fact that we greet as enlightening.

PERHAPS THE BIG difference lies in the background of producer, one Dominic J. Pugliese. This series, Hollywood REMEMBERS, is the end result of a guy who, like you and me, is a Movie Fan-not a Producer.

WHAT THE SERIES lacks in amenities, it makes up in sincerity.
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Summer of '42 (1971)
8/10
Oh,Where Were Girls Like This When We Was Comin' Up ?
25 May 2017
Warning: Spoilers
WELL NOW, HERE'S one that we hadn't seen in some time; even ever since its original release in 1971. We really hadn't given it much thought at all and therefore, weren't planning on screening it. This is, after all, a "women's picture", a "chick flick" and certainly not the sort of fare that would show up on the male oriented cable channel, SPIKE. (Conversely we don't see COPS being screened on THE HALLMARK CHANNEL, right Schultz ?)

IF WE SEEM to be just a tad harsh and unfair on THE SUMMER OF '42, we beg your forgiveness. In actuality, it has a much broader base of varying types whose grading of it would be surprisingly high. When views are taken from all angles, we find it to be a much more complex a film with (believe it or not) a very masculine, if adolescent, bias. The story is, after all, centered on the sighting of a beautiful, young bride on this summer vacation community, by a threesome of healthy, red-blooded American teen-aged boys.

WHILE WE SEE that the point of view is that of some middle class Jewish kids, that is not a limiting factor. The socio-economic stratum as well as the ethnicity represented would not have mattered in the story's rendering. We just don't see that the kids of Blue Collar, proletariat families would be spending the whole Summer at the Oceanside. A week maybe or even ten days, but certainly it wouldn't be longer.

BUT AS WE said before, the reactions and basic nature of the beast (the Male Animal) is universal, hereditary, genetic and unmistakably masculine.

WHAT SEEMS TO be the sealing ingredient here is that it is the telling of a story from author Herman Raucher's own life. In recent years, the story came out that he was contacted by the real life "Dorothy", who then just as quickly returned to her desired anonymity.

IF YOU HAVEN'T seen it do it. Isn't that right, Schultz ?
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5/10
For Those Who Cannot Get Enough.........
9 May 2017
OKAY NOW, WE take our film interest as seriously as anyone. Finding even some seemingly insignificant tidbit of info concerning a film, actor/star or any behind the scenes personality is what we live for. But we always must attempt to keep things in perspective. All too often, success and the spotlight on center stage conspire to convince a showbiz celebrity of an alternate hallucinatory world; where he/she/it is a giant in all fields.

THIS LITTLE QUICKIE made short at once finds itself in a dichotomy of moods and goals. It is up to us (the viewers) to recognize this. Once that is accomplished, and we are operating with all of our cylinders of gray matter firing in well timed patterns of ultimate synchronization, we can both successfully analyze and understand this film.

FIRST OF ALL, as you may have already concluded, our feeling about PORTRAIT OF AN ACTOR lead us to recognize the sort of high-brow and pseudo-intellectual approach to the actor in question. And we certainly must say that Mr. George C. Scott does an Academy Award level of filling the bill as a "serious" actor. Fresh from his tour-de-force portrayal of General George S. Patton in PATTON (20th Century-Fox, 1970). Topping his performance, he so famously refused to accept the Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor. (He even publicly stated his intent months before-but still the gave it to him as one in the win column.)

SO THIS MEANT that there'd be a great amount of very esoteric question & answer interview with so many people. They didn't let us down, even up to the point of including the great actor's father, one George D. Scott. Mostly the folks chosen were culled from the cast of Mr. Scott's then current vehicle, THE LAST RUN (MGM, 1971), a caper movie; directed by Richard Fleischer.

WELL, WITH ALL of that included in the way that it was, all of the pretentious, film-class art talk was then relegated to the back burner; as the true purpose of the short became crystal clear. It was done and distributed by MGM in order to promote their new crime drama.

AND WE REALLY find no fault in that. Right on, Leo (the Lion).
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6/10
Revising the End & Wrapping It All Up...................
28 April 2017
WHEN THIS THEATRICAL movie hit the local theatre screens in 1956, the CBS Network powerhouse sitcom was long over the hill and heading toward its eternal reword in Sitcom Heaven. Ignoring the old axiom of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!", those in charge at CBS decided to revamp the series with unnecessary changes of venue (different school), setting (City & state) and cast characters.

WELL, THERE HAD certainly been enough popularity and appeal left in this now "venerable" CBS Radio/Television and someone had the brainstorm to bring its story and original characters to the big screen of our local theaters. Disdaining the changes that had been foisted on us in the waning days of the series, the theatrical version of OUR MISS BROOKS brought the story back to Connie Brooks' arrival at Madison High School and her meeting with Mr. Boynton, Mrs. Davis, Walter Denton, Mr. Conklin, Harriet Conklin, "Stretch" Snodgrass, .....etc.

ADDED TO THE original gang and story-line was a sort of subplot involving Mr. Conklin's running for office of Educational rep and the introduction of Don Porter as widower and well to do newspaper publisher (and potential suitor) Lawrence Nolan. Then Warner Brothers contract player, Nick Adams, portrayed son of the rich guy, Gary Nolan.

ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, the picture was a successful 1950's style comedy that did a great job in closing the OUR MISS BROOKS story with a "....And They Lived Happily Ever After!" fairy tale ending.

THE FILM ALSO gave us a chance to see the members of the supporting cast at their very best. These players are: Gale Gordon (Mr. Conklin), Jane Morgan (Mrs. Davis), Richard Crenna (Walter Denton),Gloria McMillan (Harriet Conklin)and Leonard Smith (Stretch Snodgrass). Robert Rockwell (Mr. Boynton) was perhaps shown to the best as he was allowed to show much of his yet unseen abilities.* Also, before we forget, cameo by lovely, statuesque and non-speaking, uncredited actress is really June Blair; formerly Playboy Magazine's "Playmate of the Year for 1957, as well as the future Mrs. David Nelson ADVENTURES OF OZZIE & HARRIET).

TAKING THE TIME to screen this theatrical film version of OUR MISS BROOKS will prove to be time not wasted by anyone.

NOTE: * The part of Mr. Phillip Boynton on the radio version was portrayed by one Ira Grossel; who would change his name to Jeff Chandler and pursue a most successful, but all too abrupt film career. But whoever was to play the very naive Biology teacher would have to be taller than average; as Miss Eve Arden was, herself, a very tall woman.
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Aqua Babes (1956)
5/10
Human Tadpoles, Pollywogs and Mermaids.
28 April 2017
THIS IS AN interesting addition to the RKO-Sport-scope series. Rather than having snippets that feature such widely scattered subjects as: Pro Wrestlers, Tennis, Bacci and Polo, the production team spends this reel's worth of film short on large group of truly young kids doing some amazing things in the old swimmin' hole (Pool actually).

IN THE NARRATION we are told by the off screen voice of one Harry Wismer that the system being demonstrated so handily was brought across the 'Pond' by the instructing lady from Europe.

JUDGING BY THE performances done by these mainly pre-schoolers, it is truly a superior method. In no way at no time during the film do any of the little, aquatic performers appear to be anything but very enthusiastic.

IT'S BEEN LONG said that swimming is a skill that is best learn young; the younger being the better. Whoever said that was really on to something; as seen on the screen.

OBVIOUSLY THIS IS a truth that would appear to be irrefutable.
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7/10
Very Interesting Retrro-Futuristic Look Back
27 April 2017
Warning: Spoilers
DUE TO SOME other pressing tasks, of late we haven't been very attentive to doing our regular time at the reviewing desk. The just finished screening of this 1931 (original screen version) THE MALTESE FALCON has brought us just about directly to the old keyboard. While we saw many differences, the end result was that of great satisfaction.

BEING DONE A full decade before the John Huston directed/written screenplay had, by virtue of its belonging to a new era of film, a very different mood, feel and appearance. Although there are so many of the typically Warner Brothers' elements in both, the earlier one bore a rather intimate relationship to the Silents; which had of course just recently "rode off into the sunset." Its Humphrey Bogart vehicle remake had the advantage of all of the elements of the highly developed and polished Warner product of the 1940's war years. In essence, it was the Warner Brothers movie being at the very zenith of their power.

BEING THAT THIS production is one of the "pre-code" era, there is a lot of material that is, while not necessarily explicit, very highly implied. We are referring mainly to the sublet of S-E-X. We see ladies' man (now called a "womanizer" in today's vernacular) in several highly 'adult' situations, always in the company of females. The opening scene has Sam revealed to be in a 'private' conference with a briefly shown 'flapper'; who has to adjust her stockings before departing his office. Mr. Spade then tidies up his couch, having to pick up the multitude of throw pillows that are scattered about the floor.

HID LATER MEETING with Miss Wonderly include their sharing his apartment for the night. Although any even partial nudity and simulated sex is never shown, there's no doubt in our minds. (The nudity and intercourse were about 40 years ahead in the Hollywood of the '70's) IN DEFENSE OF this "original" version of the FALCON, in many respects the plot seems to be somewhat clearer to we, the audience. This applies mainly to understanding the relationships between those contesting for possession of "the Black Bird."

HAVING VIEWED THIS '31 version for the first time today, after years of familiarity with the latter, provided us with a sort of scrambling of our Time/Space continuum. The only previous similar experiences were in viewing some other previously made movies after the later, more familiar. They are: THE SPIRIT OF NOTER DAME (Universal, 1931), which in many ways laid the foundation for Warner Brothers KNUTE ROCKNE: ALL-American (1940); RIO BRAVO (Warners, 1959)remade as EL DORADO ()and especially ZERO HOUR (Paramount, 1957) which was fractured and remade into AIRPLANE (1980).

ANY REVIEW OF this film must refer to the casting that was done. Of course we had Bogart in for Ricardo Cortez (Spade) and Bebe Daniels giving away to Mary Astor's Miss Wunderly. Others who were very different than the later cast members are: Walter Long/Jerome Cowan (Miles Archer), J. Farrell McDonald/Ward Bond (Det. Sgt. Tom Pohlhaus0, Una Merkel/Lee Patrick (Essie),Thelma Todd/Gladys George (Iva Archer).

BUT FOR OUR money, the two roles that are so different in casting are that of Dudley Diggs to Sydney Greenstreet's Casper Gutman; as the mannerisms were similar, but where's the bulk, Diggs ? The other is Dwight Frye to Elisha Cook, Jr. as Wilmer. Dwight had a lot less to do and only a few lines. He was also the king of the creepy characters in the 1930's Universal horror epics. Elisha's characterization was able to fully develop that of a psychotic killer. (Oddly enough or maybe because of this fact, Wilmer's surname is given in the '31 version, but not in the latter. It is Cook!)

WE GIVE THIS on many thumbs up and recommend it to any and all !
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10/10
Top Of The Line......................
9 April 2017
Warning: Spoilers
......................as an example of a classic comedy episode/short subject, using outstanding cast of supporting players and adherence to the prime laws of comedy.

STARTING OUT WITH the well known public Gracie Allen scatterbrained characterization, basic elements of gag repetition and mistaken identity are blended in a gourmet recipe. The distinct advantage of doing a series with ongoing happenings to recurring characters is one of short-cutting the laugh process. Hence, we have the audience (us!) already prepared to laugh.

BUT IN GOING even beyond these elements, the production team added and nurtured the episode in its assigned mission of tickling our collective funny bone. Pacing, repetitive actions and the choice of an All-Star team of character actors (all of which were shown in their very best light and role-types).

IN ADDITION TO regulars, such as: Harry Von Zell, Bea Benadarret, Fred Clarke (Harry Morton # 2 *) and Rolf Sedan (Postman Mr. Beazley); veteran screen thugs Sheldon Leonard and Ben Welden provided the presence of comic gangsters. All of this we are given to enjoy, with the added treat of having a cameo by Dutch, himself. Yeah, we mean Ronald Wilson Reagan, then future 40th President of the United States of America !

WE'VE LONG BEEN viewers of the GEORGE BURNS & GRACIE ALLEN SHOW; dating back to our childhood in the 1950's original run. Thanx to the ascent of channels such as ME TV, ANTENNA TV, BUZZR TV, JLTV and others, we can now view the best of the "Good Old Days" television nostalgia on a daily basis.

AS FOR THIS episode, THE GEORGE BURNS & GRACIE ALLEN SHOW: GRACIE SEES A HOLD-UP/JOHNNY VELVET, it deserves to have a special place in comic cinematic history. Yes, we believe that it could well be used in any film making class as an example of how to make a comedy short !
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5/10
Factual, Historical, Dull and Obviously Shameless Plug
26 March 2017
WELL NOW, HOW about this. MGM has a remake of MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY coming out. So, what does their short subjects department cook up ? Tat's right, you guessed it, Schultz ! They brought us a little film about the maiden voyage of their newly launched replica of the H.M.S. BOUNTY, itself !

NOW WE'RE NOT saying that it's not interesting, for it truly is; but to a certain extent. It has the appearance of one of those newsreels, albeit of a very small area of subject matter. This "special" reel sub-genre usually was restricted to something in the sports subject matter (World Series, Bowl Game or Championship Fight), or to an important Political story; such as National Conventions or Presidential Elections.

BUT THIS SHORT Subject was meant to serve one purpose, and one purpose only. And that would be to hype the pending release of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer remake production of MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY; although, to be fair the picture is not mentioned directly. Nor are any of its stars (being Marlon Brando, Trevor Howard and Dondi).

AS FOR ANY Historical significance, there is at least a smattering of that. It proves invaluable to any historian (amateur or professional) who desires archive footage of local Pols and Fair Managers while they are receiving their complimentary 3 cornered hats !
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10/10
Public TV & Pop Music's Crossover/Partnering-Is It Coincidence ?
25 March 2017
IN WHAT CERTAINLY could be called "a sign of the times"; we find this peculiar teaming of the Public Television System and nostalgic collections of Pop Music from Eras long since gone. It would appear that the ever more crowded of the record companies' vaults as combined with the ascent of the generation known as "the Boomers" has provided the impetuous for what was,only a few years earlier, an impossible and oxymoronic alliance.

THE INSTITUTION WHICH we now know as Public TV had begun its life in the 1950's as Educational Television. The name still persists in some quarters and we well recall those early days of yesteryear. An inborn and innate sort of snobbishness permeated this new area of televising and it was by no means subtle or tolerant of other aspects of the industry; particularly of those stations, companies and networks which were so crass as to show entertainment productions which were sponsored by paying commercial interests.

THE EARLY, EMBROYOTIC Educational Television touted its commitment to what was perceived as being "High Class" and "Socially Redeeming" in content. Thus you'd be most likely to view Shakespeare, the Arts, Science (MR. WIZARD) and Classical Music. The system which would soon be rename and rededicated as the Public Television Service, had no place for such commonplace, low and vulgar an item as Pop Music. They wouldn't even give popular music the time of day.

BUT THAT WAS then and this is now. Over the years, certain heretofore lowly subjects and programming incrementally crept into the PBS schedule. Thus, items such as those represented by the likes of MONTY PYTHON'S FLYING CIRCUS, ANTIQUE ROAD SHOW and these T.J. Lubinsky Popular Music productions found their way onto Public Television's regular scheduling.

WITH REGARD TO this particular production, there is little with which we can find fault. The number of veteran performers, who have too long been absent from performing in public, is staggering. With a roster which features the McGuire Sisters, Pat Boone (Emcee), the Four Lads, the Diamonds, the Four Aces, Don Cherry, Gogi Grant, Patti Page, Rosemary Clooney (archive footage), the Chordettes and many others.

IF THERE IS any criticism to be leveled at the production it is that it has built in breaks that are strictly designed to solicit contributions from PBS viewers in return for CD's and DVD's of the program and other old favourite music.

THE PITCHES THAT viewers are subjected to are high pressure, shameless and persistent in their goal of raising fund$ for the local PBS affiliate. If we didn't know better, we'd swear that these were a sort of genre of the "commercial." But this could not be the case;for the PUBLIC/EDUCATIONAL television stations have long bragged that they were "commercial free."

WE MUST BEG to remind them that:"A Rose by any other name smells just as sweet!"
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5/10
Paleolithic Animation (but still Fun!)
21 February 2017
WE WELL RECALL those halcyon days of 1950's television, when any old thing could find its way on to the tiny screen in your living room. Among these, we were treated to the SCRAPPY Cartoon series from Columbia Pictures' SCREEN GEMS Animation.

INASMUCH AS WE were just grade-schoolers then, we probably weren't expected to understand all of those topical, "adult" gags; nor the be able to recognize and identify the then current political leaders as they were caricatured in THE WORLD'S AFFAIR. Save for President Franklin D. Roosevelt, we didn't. Thanks to our Mother (Bertha Fuerst Ryan) we were educated about the rest.

THE SHORT SUBJECT did manage to move along at a rather brisk clip. Although there was very little plot, the shot's rapid fire vignettes into subject matters such as Art, Architecture, Agriculture and Science rendered us unaware of it. We would have to classify it as a "Clothesline" cartoon; by which it is meant that as soon as they had 8 or 10 gags, an opening and closing-they were done.

THESE B & W 1930's cartoons were a staple on the old GARFIELD GOOSE & FRIENDS afternoon kids' show on Channel 9, WGN TV in Chicago. It was created and hosted by Frazier Thomas; who often did his own voice overs in edition to that on the film's soundtrack.

AS A SORT of personal anecdote, we vividly recall our older Sister, Joanne, coming in from high school and viewing the too tightly cropped opening title of one of these 7 minute shorts. "Who's 'Crappy', she asked?

WELL NOW, THERE'S a straight line if you never heard one!
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The Hank McCune Show (1950–1953)
5/10
Predating SEINFELD by nearly 4 decades, it may have been the original "show about nothing!"
9 January 2017
WE DO REMEMBER viewing this show over our local station, Channel 5, WNBQ* way back circa 1952-53. It was a pioneering work in the field of the Sitcom and most likely had a great influence on what would be coming down the pike in years to come. THE HANK McCUNE SHOW was, in its own way, quite prolific and is in possession of a most impressive family tree.

A TYPICAL HALF-HOUR would revolve around a very simple, everyday and totally believable problem. Story lines were big on characterizations of neighbors and their interacting during the current "crisis." Invariably the guy at the heart of the situation and in the eye of the hurricane was main character, Hank (himself).

THE EPISODES STOCKED their playbills with faces and voices familiar from the rosters of movie supporting players and from the annals of what has come to be called "Old Time Radio." Present in the episodes were: Hanley Stafford (voice of BABY SNOOKS father**), Arthur Q. Bryan (immortalized as ELMER FUDD'S voice in Warner Brothers cartoons), Larry Keating, Ellen Corby, Franklin Pangborn, Thurston Hall, Florence Bates and the ever present "Y-e-s-s-s-s man", Frank Nelson.

FOLLOWING ITS CANCELLATION on the tube, producer/star Mr. Henry McCune brought the same characters, concept and situation-type humor to the movie screen in a poverty row "B" comedy titled THE GO GETTER. Unlike the series episodes, THE GO GETTER boasted of having no added laugh track; of which THE HANK McCUNE SHOW was the originator of this soon to be staple of television comedy shows.

NOTE:* Channel 5 in Chicago is a wholly owned subsidiary of the National Broadcasting Company. The original WNBQ Radio station was owned by The Chicago Daily News and the call letters were changed to WMAQ in the mid sixties. The radio station ceased to be when NBC divested itself of radio broadcasting some 20 years or so ago.
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The Lone Ranger: Showdown at Sand Creek (1955)
Season 4, Episode 38
7/10
Slightly Ahead of the Curve
28 December 2016
THIS INSTALLMENT OF the classic series is just a tad better than most, Sure, we admit it has most of the usual elements that are so familiar in the story-line. But here in addition to the towns peoples' problems with ruthless outlaws, we have something usually not emphasized.

IN ADDITION TO the investigative work and decisive action taken by the Lone Ranger & Tonto, it is the dedication of the local rustics that wins the day. When the brother of rancher James Houston (Christian Drake) is killed in the line of duty, he dutifully steps into the job. Of course, Lone Ranger & Tonto do their share of the work of meeting the gang's reign of terror; but it is the younger Houston brother who provides the determined, tenacious and ultimately successful efforts in defeating the gang.

MOST INTERESTING TO us was the presence of a young Paul Burke, who portrayed the gang head-honcho. We did not at first recognize him, and chalked this up to Mr. Burke's acting ability. During this period he shows up often in supporting guest roles in many a series and "B" Picture. Series included shots in DRAGNET, PERRY MASON, several Warner Bros. TV series and three episodes of the ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN.

WE WERE ALSO surprised to see him in an uncredited part in the Bowery Boys entry, SPY CHASERS (Allied Artists (Monogram), 1955. His characterization in this one shou3d a definite displayed a multi leveled talent; who could even "ham it up", when the situation called for same.
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10/10
Where Originates Clichés
23 December 2016
OUTSTANDING FILM FARE from beginning to end, MANHATAN MELODRSMA represents the very zenith of the motion picture of its day. The mounting, the sets, the large cast and the story line all mesh very well into a collectively made work of art.

AS SWE HAVE alluded to in the summary, this is chock full of what we may consider as being clichéd situations and plot twists. In that sense, it also may well be highly predictable. This is only true because it was introducing story lines that would be fed through the Hollywood Xerox machines for the next 20 years or so. After all, nothing succeeds like success and those in Tinsel Town never minded copying, borrowing or stealing from one another. In this manner, many types or genres were established.

THE STORY SHOWCASES big city life among the working poor, the "blue collar" folks, the polyglot of ethnicities that were blended into what we know as Americans Growing up is demonstrated in two diverging paths, one straight the other the criminal. As is the case all too often n real life, the two paths may well move in very different directions; yet they begin perilously close together.

IN ADDITION TOM the outstanding cast of Mr. Gable, Mr. Powell and Miss Loy, the bolstering of their performances by a large and very capable supporting cast and the previously mentioned origination of the genre, the polish that is evident is largely due to its being directed by W.S. Van Dyke.

THE FILM HAS also had an everlasting mystique shrouding it because of the event of July 22, 1931. It seems that notorious bank robber, John Dillinger, wanted to see it very badly and went to see it with two others in Chicago that night at the Biograph Theatre. It was following the showing that Dillinger met his maker in a shoot out with the FBI and local Chicago cops. Because of this, the Biograph, with its "Cooled by Refrigeration" sign, remains open today as a tourist attraction on north Lincoln Avenue.

WE WONDER JUST what sort of review Mr. Dillinger would have given the movie ?
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