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Mainly A Matter Of Taste
8 December 2019
No need to recap the plot after 200-plus reviews or track the parallels with Hitchcock's Psycho (1960).

To me the flick's mainly a matter of taste. In my view, the many silent sequences are dragged out without heightening the suspense. Instead they reminded me that I'm watching a movie and not immersed in it. On the other hand, there are moments of real suspense, but too few to maintain momentum. Much of that has to do with director DiPalma's preference for wordless scene set-ups. Thus the narrative blanks are left up to the viewer. His style here is the non-literal obverse of traditional styles, perhaps to a fault. Then, again, as a movie freak from decades past, maybe I'm just slow to adapt. Anyhow, thanks to continuing close-ups, I now have Angie Dickinson's lovely facial features forever memorized. So I guess things could be a lot worse.
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A Fun Look At TV's Retro Album
7 December 2019
The documentary provides a trip down memory lane for many of us older folks, or a peek into TV's yester-year for younger folks. Anyway, viewers won't get bored since the unfolding segments follow in rapid order depending on content. That's because the interview segments are understandably a little longer than clips from individual series. Of course, this also means favorite performers may not get as much time as a viewer wishes. But then this is a retro over-view that covers a lot of historical ground. My favorite interviews are Tony Randall discussing his career breaks, along with the delightful Betsy Drake who provides program bookends, while Jonathan Harris from Lost In Space supplies theatrics as an cranky old man. My one real complaint is the glaring shortage of TV Westerns from the 50's when that format dominated much of the programming, Gunsmoke, The Rifleman, et al. All in all, take a look at IMDB's "cast" lineup and you should see some of your favorites. Whether they get enough film time, of course, is something else. Nevertheless, it's an extensive documentary so you may want to survey it a number of times as I have.
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Decoy: The Lieutenant Had a Son (1958)
Season 1, Episode 33
Series Strengths Again In Evidence
5 December 2019
Series strengths are again in evidence in this off-beat drama. Lt. Hayes returns unexpectedly from service to confront his wife Ellen over their son. Seems he left her soon after she became pregnant, but now demands aggressively to see their son despite his absence of five or so years. She refuses and contacts the NY police to restrain the brash army officer. Thus, questions of what their respective legal rights are under these conditions are raised. That's especially the case when Ellen has again married without divorcing Hayes, this time to a middle-age man who adores the boy. So how will the legal and emotional entanglements work out. Perhaps Hayes as the natural father is legally entitled to share the boy, but is he morally entitled after deserting the mother and son for five years. That would appear to be the crux.

Fine performance from actress Leversee as Ellen, while actor Leo Penn (Sean Penn's dad) makes a believably presumptuous dad. The premise relating to child custody and bigamy were unusual for a period when male violence dominated cop shows. Nonetheless, the story-line is a suspenseful and emotionally involving one. So catch up if you haven't already.
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Gidget Meets The Zombies
1 December 2019
Excepting the first part, it ain't the fluff stuff of Gidget at the beach, but I wish it were.The flick's almost a thoroughly bad monster cheapo-- bad acting, cartoon monsters, no suspense, and dumb humor. Then too, the series of events unfold like there's no script or narrative to follow. Things just happen. However there are several things on the upside. Director Tenney could have filmed in flat, uninteresting style that fits in with a cheap budget. Instead, he makes his camera set-ups visually interesting at times, though he could have eased up on the close-ups. Then there's the fun mob of beach party-goers in the first part, shaking their tootsies to music of the day. And I really liked the all-girl slumber party and pillow fight that was no doubt unrehearsed. Now, if they could have just kept the limping cartoon zombies away!

However, the rest of the 70-minutes of monsters vs. teens and drunks is otherwise an empty bust
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Into Thin Air (1985 TV Movie)
First-Rate Mystery Based On Fact
25 November 2019
Riveting mystery as we try to find out what happened to young Brian while on his road trip from Canada to Colorado. It's like he just dropped off the planet as Mom, Dad and brothers search for his missing van and clues to the vanishing. There's a subtext here in what the epilogue states is a true story- namely how red-tape, over-work, and general indifference impedes the official investigation that mainly goes nowhere, whether it's cops, FBI, or administrators. In fact, the epilogue states that thousand of kids go missing every year. Let's hope they get better treatment than the Walker family gets from a ineffectual bureaucracy.

As mom Walker, actress Burstyn delivers, in spades. The anguish and frustration almost drips off her as she encounters one dead end after another in search of her son. About half-way through, focus shifts to a private investigator played by Prosky whose professional skills take over for the exhausted Burstyn who has hired him. For an old movie freak like me, Prosky's homely, overweight, and aging appearance are the polar opposite of the sleekly tough PI's of yore. Nonetheless, he's affecting in his dedication. However, I wish we knew why he carries on in what appears personal dedication rather than just professional. Perhaps it's because of Mom's lingering anguish as the trail seems to go nowhere, while the authorities furnish only excuses. On the minor downside, for me at least, there's no definite sense of place as the search supposedly moves from one state to another. Some such would have provided a greater sense of reality for a scenario that stresses realism. That may be because of budget constraints and the fact that filming was limited to the Vancouver area of British Columbia (IMDB).

Anyway, it's a spell-binding flick with a single-minded narrative whose outcome can't be foreseen. Be sure to catch up unless you're feeling really frustrated, like Mom.
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A New Slant On Horror
24 November 2019
Young sweethearts Mike and Debbie wander from their lovers lane into a dark forrest where suddenly there appears what looks like a huge shining circus dome. Intrigued, they enter, but soon find out it's not Barnum and Bailey.

So what 1950's drive-in freak could turn down a title like this. Certainly not me. Actually the flick's more a triumph of visual imagination than anything else. Those elaborate sets are really something, as colorful and unpredictable as heck. I bet the storyboarding took an army and weeks. Anyway, for horror fans of my age, seeing this 1980's entry without the b&w creepy shadows of the classics took some getting used to. It's like going to to a Technicolor extravaganza. And catch that opening scene that's a real hoot-- an ice cream vendor at a lover' lane. No wonder the vendors barely escape with their lives. But most of all, get a load of the Killer Klowns. They bustle around like old ladies really in need of some dental work and brushing. Nonetheless, the up-close facial shots are cringe-worthy, and may have changed my happy view of circus clowns for good. And what about those pink cotton candy sacks they sip blood from. I refrain from saying what body part they resemble. Good also to see old-timers Dano and a nasty Vernon picking up paydays.

Story-wise the flick has its moments, while you never know what's coming next. However, I think editors could have shaved 10-minutes or so from the final cut for more of an edge, while the ending is a little too "Hollywood" for my liking. Still and all, it's a one-of-a-kind, so crank it up when you get the chance, and be prepared to never laugh at a clown again.
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Decoy: Fiesta at Midnight (1958)
Season 1, Episode 32
Okay Entry
21 November 2019
Juan is a lonely recent arrival from Puerto Rico hoping to make friends in the NY latino community. At a dance hall, he meets Anita who's there with her husband. Abruptly, she sends him outside to meet her forlorn friend Maria who's huddled at the front door in rather mysterious fashion. However, a suddenly agitated Maria walks away, leaving him again alone. Worse, a robbery and shooting are committed nearby, while circumstances lead police to arrest Juan. Anita could give him an alibi, but she doesn't. Neither does she confirm his meeting with Maria or even confirm Maria's existence. So what's going on with Anita. Now a sympathetic Casey tries to locate the missing Maria, otherwise hard luck Juan is facing a capital murder case.

Reminding me a bit of actor Tony Perkins, Milian as Juan does a fine job of impersonating the fidgety, sensitive latino. He's easy to identify with as bad luck seems to have followed him upon entering the city. It's an interesting, rather suspenseful episode with Casey helping out. Then too, a religious theme enters at the end, appropriate to what happens at that point. On the whole, fans should be entertained even if parts of the story are a stretch.
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No White-Knuckles Here
17 November 2019
Lon Chaney as a cop in what's otherwise a horror flick, that's a surprise. I expect the producers figured his name on the marquee along with the lurid title would bring in more fans. To me, the 60 or more minutes goes downhill after a promising beginning. A studly Burr throws his weight around in a jungle mansion in the first part, while sexy Payton, dour husband Cavanaugh, and dispassionate doctor Conway look on. Burr's almost scary here, while the plot builds as old witch Al-Long brews up a poisonous plant to curse Burr with. Unfortunately the last part slows down minus any white-knuckle parts. Instead, it's Payton and Conway in lame conversation. In fact, for a horror movie, the expected scary parts fail to emerge, except maybe for the old witch. In fact, we never do get a clear view of the title gorilla. I'm tempted to think writer-director Siodmak was more interested in the romantic aspects than the horror. Anyway Burr's quite animated, while Conway's his usual reserved self. But I wish notorious Hollywood bad girl Payton could get interested. Instead she just sort of floats through with bra leading the way. Then too Chaney's role is almost an after-thought, like it was tacked on for last-minute commercial purposes. All in all, it's a cheapo with maybe two well furbished sets, but also with a surprise ending that raises questions about what Payton's character morally deserves.
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A Splatter-gun Mess
11 November 2019
So how did this teenage drive-in freak miss a title like this back in '57. Just lucky, I guess. However you look at the 90-minutes, the result is a mess. It's a composite made up of episodes from a 1952 TV series "Gangbusters", while the editing shows more fascination with tommy-guns than anything else. It doesn't matter who the real life desperado is- Dillinger, Karpis, Pretty Boy Floyd- it's the tommy guns that do the talking. Then too, I love the way the Hollywood splatter seldom hits its mark. That way, we get extended bursts. Since there's no plot, just a collection of shoot-outs, don't expect a story. One notable exception is Jean Harvey as the formidable Ma Barker. Her fiery demeanor is scarier than any of the male desperadoes. Looks like her talents could fit into an A-production in an otherwise brief career.

True to its "Dragnet" time period, the aim (if you can call it that) is to laud law enforcement ( here, the FBI) as they gun down a succession of Public Enemy #1's. Also true to the period, the gang molls sport twin peaks and tight skirts- so guys, there are two paramount compensations. Nonetheless, it's a movie unlike any I've seen, or ever want to see.
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Doomed to Die (1940)
Very Minor Whodunit
10 November 2019
Minor whodunit, where headliner Wong (Karloff) makes what amounts to just a token appearance, while the main sleuthing is done by Street and Bobbie. In fact the 60-minutes succeeds more for its humorous moments than for its murky mystery. Actors Withers and Reynolds make for an amusing sleuthing team when trading snappy lines at each other; that is, when Reynolds deadly feathered hat isn't skewering Withers first. Good thing the talented Reynolds injects real spunk amidst the gloomy surroundings. My guess is the lighting bill came to about a buck eighty, but then this is a Monogram production. And, oh yeah, the mystery concerns a sunken ocean liner and who killed the liner's owner. It appears a cut-and-dried case against the man who was with the victim in a closed room when he was shot, but is it. Too bad the follow-up is so murky. All in all, tune in only if a few chuckles will suffice for a slow evening.

(In passing- According to IMDB, the ship burning at the beginning is the Morro Castle, a 1934 disaster that killed many and is still listed among the most infamous sea calamities.)
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Les Girls (1957)
Clumsy Concoction
4 November 2019
I remember as a kid being puzzled by the title. I figured the studio dropped a second "s" to get public attention. But then "Less Girls" didn't make much sense. Good thing somebody finally explained it to me.

I wish the movie were as memorable, but it's not. Unfortunately, the screenplay can't decide whether it's a Technicolor MGM musical or a version of Rashomon with a film essay on how each of us can see the same events so differently. Frankly, epistemology and Cole Porter don't mix. As a result, the musical side is given short-shrift-- just one elaborate production number and just one nifty dance number with Kelly and Gaynor. Otherwise, the time's taken up mainly with Elg's and Kendall's contrasting versions of musical impresario Kelly's affections. And that does drag at times despite Cukor's fluid direction. My guess is that MGM was trying to promote the careers of the two lesser knowns, Elg and Kendall, both of whom deserve less congested showcases. Then too, I had trouble at times telling the two newcomers apart. With their knockout eye-liners, they could well be glamorous sisters. Whatever the case, the spectacle in lavish Technicolor amounts to a disappointing waste of Kelly and Gaynor's considerable talents. Too bad.
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Poor Material Fails A Good Cast
2 November 2019
Newsman Doyle drinks himself out of Chicago job, wakes up on train to St.Louis, and meets penniless girl Ann. Together they get mixed up in murder case involving St. Louis's notorious The Eel. So, will Doyle revive his professional reputation, pay his many debts, and keep Ann out of jail. Stay tuned.

The programmer is about what's expected from cheap-jack Monogram. The sets are bare-boned, the script sloppy, and the direction pedestrian. But as the brashly fast-talking Doyle, Armstrong injects real spunk into the screenplay, maybe too much. No wonder he grappled with the legendary King Kong (1933). To me, however, it's really actress Maxine Doyle who shines. Catch how she goes from withdrawn street urchin to newsman Doyle's aggressive helper, and in convincingly agreeable fashion. Her talent really exceeded the matinee oaters she soon turned to. Anyway, the cast, including the supporting players, come off as much better than the material. Nonetheless, don't go out of your way for it.
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Married... with Children (1987–1997)
There's A Reason It Was On For 11-Years
31 October 2019
It sure ain't Father Knows Best, Leave It To Beaver, or Ozzie And Harriet. Those 1950's family shows perfectly defined that air-brushed decade with their fantasy mom, dad, and kids, where no problem couldn't be solved by dad just moving his car and the kids piling in. Against that fantasy world MWC must come from a different planet, or maybe even solar system. Daughter Kelly's Saturday night dates exceed her IQ, while son Bud dates only in his imagination. At the same time, dad Al last smiled when wife Peg almost chopped off her finger, while Peg might one day learn how to turn on a stove. In short, the Bundys amount to the last word in tv's dysfunctional families. For this geezer who grew up with 50's tv families, this 90's version amounts to a hilarious step toward another kind of reality, maybe not the kind we want to be a part of, but a gutsy one for tv to undertake.
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A Rapid Firing "Gun"
28 October 2019
The sight gags fly faster than a politician's excuses . Actually the comedic shenanigans remind me of the old TV series "Get Smart" (1965-1970), where government agent Maxwell Smart turns every serious effort into an occasionally laughable belly-flop. But here, the movie has a much bigger budget and more elaborate set-ups, along with a serious subtext favoring renewable energy over oil and coal. Like Get Smart, if you don't find this gag funny, another follows on its tail. Actually antics pile on too quickly to let viewers enjoy what just passed. But you've got to hand it to a vigorous 65-year old Nielsen even if the stuntman lineup is battalion sized, along with a 46-year old Priscilla Presley who nonetheless looks like a college-age prom queen. And get a load of President Bush, the elder, and wife Barbara-- so real I still can't believe they're actors. Then too, this may be the only credit crawl I'vs seen that plays with the written credits. All in all, Nielsen's Naked Gun series amounts to about the last word in prat-fall comedies. So if that's to your taste, be sure to catch up.
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Chuckles Drop Off In Second Half
21 October 2019
So which one of the three Mikes will new stewardess Marcy end up with as she tries to learn the ropes of feeding people 30,000 feet in the air.

It's a romantic comedy that's really a Wyman showcase. She's coming off her Oscar-winning Johnny Belinda so her screen time is not really surprising. Her airline stewardess Marcy doesn't have to do much except be charming, which she does in subdued fashion. Since none of the four leads-- Wyman, Johnson, Keel, and Sullivan-- are comedic actors, it's the humorous situations that provide the fun.

As a result, the first part is best (at least in my view) where Marcy has to break-in as a new air hostess. Naturally, it takes a bit of doing like remembering to get the food aboard, so there are plenty of chuckles as she fumbles around. Almost all the scenes in this part focus on air travel; thus we get a good view of American Airlines passenger planes, circa 1950, both inside and out. The second part, however, gets her involved with each of the three Mikes, her air travel left mostly behind. Here, unfortunately, we get more blandly romantic overtures than chuckles.

Of the three Mikes, Johnson is best equipped for comedy, while I expected Keel's baritone to break into song any moment. For me, seeing Sullivan as something other than a gangster took some getting used to. Looks like MGM was more interested in screening stars than undergirding comedy, which may be why the film remains pretty obscure. Too bad the script didn't engage the sprightly girls more than they did, especially Donnell and Kirk, who could have added comedic spirit. Then too, I'm surprised MGM, the king of Technicolor, filmed in b&w, not the usual format for their top stars of the time. Frankly, I suspect there's an interesting backstory to this odd production.

Anyway, the 90-minutes is mainly for fans of Wyman and her cute nose.
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Competent Low-Budgeter
20 October 2019
The plot's familiar but pretty well done. Dad and one son Terry are cops, while the other son Joe is drifting into crime. Naturally, this sets up not only legal conflicts but family ones as well. I like that early scene around the breakfast table where the badinage flies thick and fast giving us a sense of the colorful Murphy family. From there, loyalties are strained as Joe, and Dad, get more involved with gangster Moran.

The acting is pretty good. As Terry, Purcell gets top billing, but it's really Quigley's Joe who gets more camera time and chance to emote. But then it's the old Murphy folks, actors Sheridan and Elliott, who steal the show in subdued fashion. Low-budget Monogram's cost cutting shows up in the many darkened scenes, especially the shortened city street where no cars pass. Nonetheless, it's a decent, if unexceptional, time-passer.
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Decoy: Night Light (1958)
Season 1, Episode 31
Poignant
17 October 2019
No need to recap the plot thanks to reviewer Kapel. The 30-minutes amounts to a Martin Balsam showcase as he tries to square love for his son with a yen for easy money. He's a familiar face from that period, especially as Det. Arbogast trying to climb a staircase in Hitchcock's Psycho (1960). Here he manages both tender and conflicted moments in affecting style. And catch Casey who gets to model some upscale upholstery as she goes undercover as a jewel hungry matron. As usual, she helps bring out the human interest side. However, don't look for much action, though that opening scene is a rolling grabber and surprise. NYC locations only figure in the first part as a kind of introduction. On the whole, I've never been able to decide whether I like Garland breaking character to speak to the camera at the end. On one hand, it's usually blended into the rest in fairly smooth visual style; on the other, however, it reminds me that I'm watching a TV show, after all, no matter how well done. Anyway, I'd like to know what the producers' reasoning was behind this rather risky break with TV convention.
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Not Your Usual Western Hero
13 October 2019
Victor Jory as a top-billed leading man! I just had to see this role reversal after years of seeing his commandingly villainous roles. Actually it's a shrewd bit of casting since Jory's Gene Stewart is a flawed hero, to say the least. He picks fights, makes stupid bets, and gets sodden drunk; that is, when he's not running guns to Mexico. In short, he's no Roy Rogers, Hopalong Cassidy, or even Lash LaRue. So will Stewart ever reform and deserve top-billing hero in an oater. Well, maybe if snobby easterner Majesty Hammond (Sayers) will get off her high horse and give him a job at her new ranch. Then maybe he'll have a chance. (Actually that "high horse" is the renowned Trigger of the popular Roy Rogers series.) But first Stewart will have to deal with baddie Hayworth (Ankrum) who also runs guns Mexico way. Good thing Stewart's got Mexican sidekick Poco (Beery Jr.) to fill-in the cracks.

Jory's adept in his conflicted role, but I'm especially impressed with the stately Sayers' range of subtle emotions. Too bad her career ended rather abruptly. The narrative's first part is mainly in town, but once the scenery moves out to the familiar Alabama Hills, things really pick up. Director Selander makes good use of the rock monoliths, while that impressive series of dynamite explosions looks real and not processed. After all, this is Paramount Studio, so they've got the bucks to back up even a 60-minute programmer like this. So, all in all, catch this rather unusual oater if you can.
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Honolulu (1939)
A Powell Showcase Even If Gracie Steals The Show
13 October 2019
It's the kind of fluffy production big-budget MGM excelled at. Actor Young gets dual parts, one as a heart-throb celebrity, the other as an average Smith living in Hawaii. To escape pressures, each is anxious to trade places with his look-alike twin. So heart-throb Mason goes to Honolulu while Smith goes to New York. Trouble is this reciprocal move pairs each with his look-alike's girl, so complications ensue.

Actually, the plot line is heavier than usual for a musical. Nonetheless, director Buzzell keeps things moving. As expected, Powell shows off her flying feet, while I especially like that first number on shipboard that's quite beguiling. However, it's Gracie Allen who steals the show with her shrill comic antics. However, she's got only one skit with under-used husband George Burns that comes at movie's end almost like it's an add-on for George's sake. Also. don't look for popular tunes among the musical selections, after all it's the dancing feet here that's central. There's some flavor of tropical Hawaii with two hula-type dance numbers, otherwise there's not much location scenery. Typical of the time period is the racially stereotyped humor from Willie Fung and Rochchester Anderson, who, whatever else, are adept comedians. All in all, the movie's a crisply done, well-mounted showcase for Powell, Allen, and Young, but nothing special.

(In passing- for old movie fans, especially of the noir classic Detour {1947}, look for notorious Hollywood bad boy Tom Neal as an ambulance attendant with one brief line.)
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Decoy: The Gentle Gun-Man (1958)
Season 1, Episode 30
He's Not Actually A Bad Guy
10 October 2019
No need to recap the plot thanks to reviewer Kapel. To me the show's high point is when the husky slum-dwelling women descend on poor Casey like a flock of vengeful vultures, their dark coats masking poor Casey's pummeling. It's a moment of riveting action in a cop series that didn't depend on action for its appeal. Rather, human interest again comes to the fore with the unfortunate deli owner Knish. His tender scenes with a sympatico Casey are the entry's focal point. Then too, catch the slum-like streets that Casey traverses and the deli sits on. They're a long way from the fabled Wall St. but add real urban atmosphere. All in all, it's 30-minutes with a Jewish slant to the neighborhood and characters that add ethnic color to the proceedings. So tune in to this solid series entry.
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Funny But Over-Done At Times
7 October 2019
A bumbling sanitation worker can't seem to hold a job or his girl, so she gets him a job as a door-to-door Fuller Brush salesman. But can he with his madcap ways hold on to it, and just as importantly win his girl away from his slickster competition.

I hope Red and Janet got extra pay for all those stunts they do at the bang-up climax. In fact, the 15-minutes of non-stop acrobatics may set a slapstick Hollywood record. I really liked the first part where the bumbling Red goes door to door trying to sell his Fuller brushes. The comedic potential of Red and behind-the-door surprises promises a comedic gold mine. However, the screenplay soon transitions into a murder mystery and from there into a lengthy chase ending in a war surplus warehouse and a wildly acrobatic finale. Of course, there's a lot of funny stuff in the latter two, but still there's little chance to catch your breath between stunts. Piling stunts on like that, to me, lessens the chance of enjoying particularly funny ones. My guess is that ex-Disney cartoonist Frank Tashlin was behind these bouncing, swinging, belly-flop antics. They seem right up his alley.

Anyway, Red proves one of the liveliest comics around, while Blair does a lot more than stand around looking pretty. Still, I'm wondering if Columbia owed sexy blonde vixen Jergens a payday since she sort of drops in and out but still leaves her vampish mark. All in all, it's a funny, if at times over-done, Skelton feature. He's at his peak during this period and there's nobody quite like him, so stay tuned. It may not be his best comedy, but it's sure to tease the funny bone in his inimitable style.
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Almost A Sleeper
5 October 2019
It's an unusually intelligent storyline for a horror flick. In short, what are the ethical limits to scientific experimentation, even in finding a cure for cancer. Using what is now called "cryogenics", Dr. Kravaal (Karloff) crowds those limits while experimenting with a cancer cure on a remote island. Unfortunately, the promising experiments require live subjects who may not be so lucky. Dr. Mason (Pryor), one of the men trapped on the island with Kravaal, is torn by Kravaal's challenge to conventional ethics. So he's the one we sympathize with as we struggle with the same dilemma-- just how much can be sacrificed in finding a cure.

By no means does Karloff ham up his role. Instead he's perfect as a dedicated and distinguished medical scientist, more obsessed than evil. Except for actor Brown's overdone Adams, the rest of the cast also manages conflicted roles. Credit Columbia for the riveting sets-- for example, the cabin about to be eaten by dead plants, the many dingy underground scenes that really do look subterranean, the laboratory that really looks worked in. All in all, it's an unusually well mounted flick for its subject matter. If there's a problem, it's with the absence of a clear bad guy to heighten a sense of horror amid the dark surroundings. I don't get a sense of menace common to the genre. Instead, the 74-minutes is more like a "think piece", which all in all, may be more worthwhile than a good scare.
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Dagwood Gets Cement Shoes
2 October 2019
Wow, is that spider woman Adele Jergens in a Dagwood movie. For a minute I thought I'd loaded the wrong DVD. But no, thank goodness. It's Dagwood and in a pickle, as usual. This time he's mistakenly given Jergens' diamond watch to Blondie as an anniversary present. Now he's got to make good with one of 40's-noir best vixens, or he's in big trouble. Then there's I Love Lucy's favorite neighbor, Bill Frawley, to help him out with a loan-- at compound interest, of course. Worse Dagwood's boss is competing for a big construction project against some swindlers that our hero's inadvertently helped. So now his job's in trouble. Good thing Daisy and her pups are on friendly guard.

All in all, Dagwood gets most of the screen time with Blondie mainly on hand. The flick's a pretty good comedy, though I could use more B&D byplay, the series' main spark. A plot involving crime may lend to viewer interest but may also compete with the comedic parts. That's not necessarily the case here, but to me it's life in the suburbs with our ditzy couple that really scores. Anyway, whatever you do, don't let Dagwood dry your dishes.
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When Camera Was King
30 September 2019
You may need a score card to keep up with the plot, but it's fast-moving enough to slide by. Flash is trying to break into newspapers with his talent for photography. But that involves him with a number of tricky characters wanting to use his photos for their own benefit.

I'm glad that lame first scene in a college frat house is not indicative of the flick as a whole. Actually, the cheapo's pretty well acted, though actor Linden could use more fire, while the director is more concerned with pacing than with atmosphere. And how about Boots Malone. Frankly, I'd like a pair of those Boots, though one would be enough. The actress is actually an engagingly sweet persona, a long way from tough strapped leather. Too bad she left the business early on. This is a movie period when press-room flicks like The Front Page (1931) were popular. Looks like this sub-60 minute programmer from budget outfit Grand National was intended to ride the wave, which it does in fairly entertaining if obscure fashion.
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Deadly Duo (1962)
Pretty Good Little Cheapo
29 September 2019
Smoothly done crime flick. By 1961, 60-minute b&w B-movies were largely a relic of the past. But this little indie with B-movie vets like LeBorg and Lowery show that the skills still survive. So what's the deal with the twin sisters, nice girl Sabena and the vixenish Dara, both played by actress Henderson. They're so alike, yet unalike. Then there's struggling attorney Morgan (Hill) who's hired by rich woman to fly to Acapulco to seal a deal where suddenly widowed Sabena gives up her little son for a half-million dollars. At same time, Morgan will get a fat attorney's fee he badly needs. But once there, Morgan meets Dara and her sinister husband Jay (Lowery) and the charming Sabena. Understandably, widowed Sabena doesn't want to give up son for any money amount even to her mother. However, the grasping Dara and Jay have other plans as they hover in the background. Meanwhile, attorney Morgan's beginning to question the ethics of his mission. Thus tensions rise and we wonder how will things turn out.

Henderson really scores, especially as kittenish Dara. In times past, production would have had to split the screen to get the same performer into the same scene. Here, however, technology has apparently triumphed since no split screens are sealed over by such gimmicks as doors jambs or wall ends. Thus the twins are an excellent effect all to Henderson's thespian advantage. Production also does a good job of inserting stock shots of Acapulco into studio scenery, though I did tire of Morgan driving the same car along the same driveway about ten times over. Anyway, it's a good little B-flick with interesting plot, plausible performances, and smooth directing. So cheapos can still entertain.
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