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Roman Holiday (1953)
Audrey Hepburn had a great start in American film with Roman Holiday
I originally watched this maybe about 25 years ago when I was living with a couple of aunts and a young adult piano prodigy in Jacksonville, FL. We all enjoyed it very much but didn't talk too much about it. So now I just watched it again on Amazon Prime Video with Mom here in Baton Rouge, LA, and we laughed at the right places and made some complimentary comments during certain scenes. In her American film debut, Audrey Hepburn is quite luminous, natural, funny, and quite dramatic when the story and her character calls for it. She's a princess wanting to take a brake from her formally scheduled life so she sneaks out from her Rome vacation palace to find what's outside of her bubble. During her medically-induced existence, she accidentally meets a stranger played by Gregory Peck who is later revealed to be a reporter stuck in Italy. Eddie Albert also appears as a photographer friend of Peck. I'll just now say this was very entertaining from start to finish. Ms. Hepburn deserved her Oscar as did Edith Head for her costume design as well as the original story which at the time was credited to Ian McLellan Hunter who fronted for the blacklisted Dalton Trumbo. He was eventually properly credited a few decades later and his widow excepted the award in 1993. Oh, and Eddie Albert also deserved his Best Supporting Actor nomination. Anyway, that's a high recommendation from Mom and me for Roman Holiday.
Love Is a Ball (1963)
Love Is a Ball lives up to its title!
After years of only knowing about the title, I finally watched this on Amazon Prime Video with Mom just now. A nice mixture of romance and slapstick comedy, we both enjoyed much of the goings on that ensured. Fine performances by Glenn Ford and Hope Lange when they were an item at the time as well as Charles Boyer, Ricardo Montalban especially when doing many of the physical gags, and especially Telly Savalas playing a different role than I usually know him as. I'll just now say that Mom and I most highly recommend Love Is a Ball.
40 Carats (1973)
Liv Ullmann and Edward Albert star in 40 Carats
After wondering about this movie for the last several months, I finally watched this on Amazon Prime Video with Mom just now. We both were pretty enthralled with this story of a romance of a middle-aged woman (Liv Ullmann) and a young man (Edward Albert) who meet in Greece. She then returns to New York where she lives with her nearly-grown daughter (Deborah Raffin) and mother (Binnie Barnes). Guess who arrives to date her daughter? She also has an actor ex-husband (Gene Kelly) to deal with. I'll stop there and just say this was quite charmingly funny and a little dramatic. Also appearing are Nancy Walker and Natalie Schafer. Oh, how much of a hoot is it seeing Gene doing the modern '70s-style dances in one sequence? Also, I just watched Ms. Barnes in Abbott & Costello's The Time of Their Lives and I just found out she was married to this film's producer M. J. Frankovich in between watching that and this. This was her final film role, by the way. Anyway, me and Mom highly recommend 40 Carats.
The Time of Their Lives (1946)
The Time of Their Lives was a nice Abott & Costello picture in which they're not really a team
This is one of two pictures that Bud Abbott and Lou Costello made in which they're not technically a team. This was because they were in an off-screen feud in which they rarely talked to each other when not in public. In this one, Lou is a tinker during the Revolutionary War who gets a letter of recommendation from General George Washington. During this part of the movie, Bud is a butler who has designs on Lou's fiancée. Through some mixup, Lou and Marjorie Reynolds end up dead, become ghosts and stuck in a certain area because they got mistaken for traitors. Flashforward to the 20th century in 1946 and Abbott is now the descendant of that butler he portrayed. His profession is now a psychiatrist. I'll stop there and just say Lou is his usual funny self while Bud gets some good funny stuff as well in the present-day sequences. Since Lou is a ghost and Bud is not, when they're in a scene together, they don't physically communicate with each other though Lou does manage to hit Bud quite a bit without retaliation! Anyway, I'll just now say this was both funny and touching. By the way, this was the first A & C film directed by Charles Barton.
This film version of the historical musical 1776 is a little educational if also entertaining enough
With today being the Fourth of July, I thought I'd celebrate that holiday by watching the movie musical that depicted why we celebrate our Independence on that particular day. Actually, 1776 takes place from mid-June to that fateful July day as John Adams keeps trying to keep the Second Continental Congress focused on a consensus to declare America free from British rule despite disagreements among other representatives of the 13 colonies. So he has both Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson trying to talk some sense to other state delegates on the rightness of freedom from colonization. In making some scenes humorous and others serious, this was quite entertaining and educational though as always, liberties were taken with some characterizations and events. The cast of this movie version is mostly the same as the Broadway version: William Daniels as John Adams, Ken Howard as Thomas Jefferson, Howard Da Silva as Benjamin Franklin, and Blythe Danner as Martha Jefferson, Thomas' wife. The songs are enjoyable and one particular one sung by John Cullum is pretty intense concerning slavery of which this particular character approves of. In summary, 1776 is well worth watching whether for history buffs or just a fan who simply likes musicals.
Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
Yankee Doodle Dandy is still quite a great piece of Americana! Especially with James Cagney playing George M. Cohan
Having first watched this on TV as a kid aged 8 on July 4, 1976 during that Bicentennial year and then again 10 years later as a late teen, it's quite a treat to once again watch this on the actual day George M. Cohan was born in 1878. (Yeah, that July 4 birth presented here is not true!) Having just watched the actual Cohan in The Phantom President, it's now easy to see how much of his steps James Cagney actually did perfectly in portraying him. Cagney got his well-deserved Oscar for this one, that's for sure! Also great was Walter Huston as the senior Cohan. I should also note that Cagney's actual sister Jeanne played the Cohan sis here and his brother William was the associate producer. Anyway, all the Cohan songs are great when talked-sung and danced by Cagney and it must have been such a great surprise to his public since most of the time before this movie, he'd been playing tough guys whether good or bad! I mean, once again hearing "Yankee Doodle Boy", "You're a Grand Old Flag", and "Over There" (which he performed with Frances Langford) once again gives me goosebumps! And young leading lady Joan Leslie is quite a nice match with Jimmy here. Nothing more to say except, Yankee Doodle Dandy is still quite a patriotically enjoyable American treat!
The Phantom President (1932)
The Phantom President is the only chance to see the legendary George M. Cohan in a talkie musical
With today being the second day of July, it's also the second day I'm reviewing movies with either a patriotic theme or about a patriotic person, in this case about George M. Cohan. Well, actually, this particular one stars Mr. Cohan-one of only two talkies he made though his other one, Gambling, is lost for now-playing two roles: that of an uncharismatic presidential candidate and also of a medicine show man who makes public appearances playing that candidate. Also starring Claudette Colbert as that candidate's girlfriend and Jimmy Durante as the medicine man's sidekick. The songs are mostly by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart though there were also some tunes by Cohan and Durante. I have to note one more appearance-that of Sidney Toler as one of the campaign managers. If he sounds familiar, then you're probably seen many of his Charlie Chan movies! Anyway, this was a pretty entertaining musical comedy though much of Durante's material is uneven even though he's pretty entertaining throughout and there's some unfortunate blackface concerning Cohan but this is the only time we see his expert hoofing on screen. In fact, if James Cagney had not portrayed Cohan in Yankee Doodle Dandy-which is what I'll review next-years later, the only reason for anyone to watch this movie in modern times would be for fans of Claudette Colbert and Jimmy Durante to complete their viewing of everything they did! By the way, I also liked the beginning sequence in which four presidential portraits were singing to each other! Those portraits were of the same people who eventually were carved on Mount Rushmore...
Stars and Stripes Forever (1952)
Stars and Stripes Forever is quite an entertaining John Philip Sousa musical biopic
Since it's the first day of July, I thought I'd review a movie that either has a patriotic theme or is about someone who is associated with patriotic tunes for each day up to the fourth such as this one about John Philip Sousa who wrote the title tune among others. Clifton Webb plays him and if it's true to the real Sousa, then he did a pretty good job. Not everything in the movie is true, in fact, the characters played by Robert Wagner and Debra Paget are made up, perhaps to provide some romance in the picture. Wagner is his charmingly handsome self while Ms. Paget is quite a sexy presence especially during her first dance. (I can't help thinking there was probably a little too much heat during that as part of that number features lots of cuts to the people watching!) There's also a wonderful rendition of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" as performed by a mixed gender of a black chorus (Stone Mountain Church Choir). Oh and the end with that title tune is, oh, watch the movie if you must get the feeling of it! So that's a high recommendation of Stars and Stripes Forever. Next, I'll review The Phantom President starring the one and only George M. Cohan.
Knives Out (2019)
Knives Out is a fine modern murder mystery
So me and Mom finally watched this movie a few weeks after I found it on Amazon Prime Video. It's a pretty fun mystery with Daniel Craig as the investigating detective, Chris Evans as one of the family suspects, and Ana de Armas as the domestic who helps guide Craig in the solving. Oh, and I also liked Christopher Plummer as the family patriarch. So on that note, Mom and I highly recommend Knives Out.
The Girls from Thunder Strip (1970)
Without Casey Kasem, I wouldn't enjoy The Girls from Thunder Strip as much
This movie starts on the wrong foot when a biker rapes a female hitchhiker. He and a couple of the cycle gang then encounter some women who run a moonshine operation and terrorizes them as well. To tell the truth, the only part I really enjoyed was when Casey Kasem showed up as a federal agent visiting the redneck sheriff. He really chewed the scenery and has some good laughs whether grimacing or getting through some scrapes. The rest of the movie was either depressing or boring. So I only recommend The Girls from Thunder Strip if you're a Casey Kasem completist.
The Irishman (2019)
Martin Scorsese's The Irishman is a fine epic tale starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci
After months of only knowing about this Martin Scorsese picture, I finally watched this on Netflix. It's quite a compelling tale about an aging hitman's (Robert De Niro) telling of his association with a mafia boss (Joe Pesci) and Teamsters Union head Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino). The movie is a little more than three hours so it takes it's own time in going over several decades of the narrative. In doing so, it also uses new technology when depicting those three actors being much younger and older. Quite convincing, those aging and de-aging processes are. I'll just now say The Irishman is another fine film from Scorsese and company.
John Travolta's brother Joey has a good starring showcase in Sunnyside
In the year of 1979 between his more-famous younger brother John's movies of Moment by Moment and Urban Cowboy, Joey Travolta had a starring role of his own in this, a gang drama called Sunnyside. Among Joey's co-stars is Michael Tucci who just had a major supporting role in Joey's brother's blockbuster hit Grease as Sonny! Here, Tucci is Harry to Joey's Nicky. Joey sounds just like his brother and is quite good in his tough guy role as well as when he's also romancing his girlfriend Donna. Also appearing is Talia Balsam as the girlfriend of Joey's onscreen brother. I'll just now say this was quite a good showcase for Joey Travolta. Too bad it didn't do too well at the box office. Then again, maybe there was only one room for a successful acting Travolta in that particular family...
Man and Boy (1971)
Bill Cosby is fine being dramatic in Man and Boy
Between Juneteenth and Father's Day, I thought I'd finally watch this-a Bill Cosby western in which he takes his pre-teen son with him on a journey to recover their stolen horse. Cosby's character is married to a Gloria Foster one. They would team in a couple more TV movies-To All My Friends on Shore and Top Secret and Ms. Foster would also appear in many of Mr. Cosby's TV shows. Anyway, among the people Cosby and his son encounter is a widowed Native American-raised woman played by Shelley Morrison, years before her most famous role as the maid Rosario in "Will and Grace". I'll just now say this was quite an exciting western and also a good drama concerning the bonding of father and son. So that's a recommendation of Man and Boy.
Love Airlines (1978)
Love Airlines is porn aboard an airplane...
Well, here's something I stumbled into when seeing a poster of this on Pinterset which then got me to Google Video to search for which then linked it to RedTube which is where I just saw it. A porn taking place on Sex Airlines with some flashback scenes concerning some of the characters. It's dumb with plenty of sex scenes. Among the characters are a couple of cowboys-one white and one black-who laugh constantly and are the most annoying characters in the film. It's backended by an interview between airline boss Georgina Spelvin and job applicant John Leslie. Of the stewardesses, I was mostly enthralled by Yolanda Smith though she doesn't do too many of the explicit lovemaking compared to the others. I was partly bored and amused by the whole thing so I'm giving this one a 2...
This version of Hair is interesting and fascinating to watch but seemed shallow though it also tries to be poignant
After so many years of knowing of this famous musical by reputation, I and Mom finally watched this-a version of Hair. I know the story and characters are changed from the original play version though not by how much. The music is mostly fine and the dances are pretty entertaining and I admire Milos Forman's direction of the movie version but the story is pretty out there and the characters seem mostly shallow so one doesn't care about them as one probably should. To quote my mom, "This is one weird movie!" I mostly agree...
Elton John: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is a fascinating document about the making of that legendary album
I randomly watched this on Amazon Prime Video just now. It tells of Elton John's recording of perhaps one of his most famous of albums-the double record of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Besides the title song, other tunes showcased include "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting", "Benny and the Jets", and "Candle in the Wind". Besides John, his co-writer Bernie Taupin, and various members of his band are also interviewed as well as some of his record executives and a member of his fan club! This was quite a fascinating doc of one of Sir Elton John's most popular albums so that's a high recommendation!
The First Wives Club (1996)
Having finally watched The First Wives Club, it was an okay comedy
My mom and I just watched this for the first time on Amazon Prime Video just now. She thought it was quite funny, me, not so much. For me, there were some funny lines and scenes but not all the way through. In fact, some of the broadness of some scenes were too broad for me. I did like the teaming of Goldie Hawn, Bette Midler, and Diane Keaton. Appearances of some actors were surprising to me as their names didn't appear in the beginning credits. There were also some surprising celeb cameos as themselves. Overall, The First Wives Club was pretty funny, if not hilariously so.
Book Club (2018)
Book Club was an okay comedy concerning four older women and their men
Mom really wanted to watch this so we both just did on Amazon Prime Video. Four middle-aged women have a book club meeting and the book they're reading is Fifty Shades of Grey. From there they all experience some romantic/sexual troubles. My mom laughed at some of the sexual jokes, I laughed at one concerning a cat when a doctor said a certain word that could either mean that cat or a female body part. Well, the one about an erectile disfunction pill being put in beer resulting in a gag involving a bulge was also pretty amusing. This was an okay comedy for me but Mom probably liked it much better. It's certainly harmless enough...
The Story of the Bee Gees (2011)
The Story of the Bee Gees was a good showcase of them over the years performing their hit tunes
Just watched this on Amazon Prime Video. It tells of Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb as they went from three pre-teen kids forced to sing live after the record they were going to mime to broke before they reached the theater they were going to perform in to having some success in Australia to going back to England with some of their first worldwide hits to Robin leaving for a solo career leaving Barry and Maurice performing as a duo to Robin coming back resulting in their first No. 1 hit with "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" to then not having any more hits before they started doing some Disco songs including their blockbuster status as a result of the soundtrack of Saturday Night Fever to then writing for other artists like Barbra Streisand and Diana Ross... All that plus having younger brother Andy Gibb also becoming a success on his own and him occasionally joining with them like on "You Should Be Dancin'" as seen on film here. This 45 min. doc had quite a number of great Bee Gees songs over the years performed by them. I'll just now say seek this one out on Amazon Prime Video!
After previously watching this several times during my youth, I got a great kick of seeing the sing-a-long version of Grease
Just watched most of the sing-a-long version on CBS hours earlier (I came home from work after the first 30 minutes had already played). My mom claimed she had not seen this movie before but when I was younger, I remember her commenting on some of the scenes when watching the VHS version with my siblings. When I was a pre-teen kid, I had watched this particular movie lots of times, whether at the local library, at the Broadmoor Theatre, or on network TV (which censored certain lyrics of "Greased Lightning" and cut out the mooning scene). The version I just watched on CBS simply muted the offending words-as well as not print them on screen though the sh-one got various typed symbols-from that song and didn't show the bare butts on camera. Anyway, all those times I previously watched it, I enjoyed it sooooo much, it for a while was my favorite movie. Since 1981, It's a Wonderful Life took that place. Still, it's always a treat to watch John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John on screen together whether talking, singing, or dancing together. And the songs are always a thrill to watch and listen to especially since I've heard the songs several times on record before my first time watching this movie. The lyrics printed on screen also added some visual symbols to basically humorously comment on the action on screen. Of the older adult characters, I especially liked the interaction of Eve Arden and Dody Goodman as the principal and her assistant, respectively. And Sid Caesar is aces in those PE training scenes with Travolta, that's for sure! And then there's that John Wilson cartoon during the opening credits while Barry Gibb's title song is playing that's also a fine addition to the movie. Really, all I'll say now is Grease is still the word, after a little more than 40 years... Update-I finally got to see the sing-a-long versions of "Love is a Many Splendored Thing", "Summer Nights" and the first "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee" number on YouTube just now...
The African Queen (1951)
Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn are great in John Huston's The African Queen
After 35 years, I finally got to watch this movie again, this time with Mom who was watching for the first time. This was the only time Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn had teamed up on screen and what a teaming it was! Bogart plays an individual steamboat captain and Hepburn plays a spinster missionary who ends up sailing with him after her brother dies after an attack from Germans on their place of residence in the Belgian Congo. It's mainly those two legendary stars talking and eventually taking a shine to each other and having quite an adventure together. I can see why Bogie won the Oscar for this performance. And Hepburn was deservedly nominated as well as co-writer/director John Huston. Really, all I'll say now is The African Queen deserves its classic status, that's for sure!
The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977)
John Landis and Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker's The Kentucky Fried Movie is still hilarious even with the sophomoric gags
This comedy anthology film basically started the movie careers of writer/performers David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and Jerry Zucker as their next movie would become the hilarious classic Airplane! and director John Landis whose work in this directly led to him helming the box office hit Animal House. It spoofs everything from Kung Fu flicks to TV commercials to morning programs to theatrical movie trailers! See a gorilla loose at a studio! Watch various nude women in a trailer for Catholic High School Girls in Trouble! Witness a young couple making love while the news is on and the people on it see and react to them! Marvel at a board game called "Scott Free" in which players take turns reenacting the events of the aftermath of President Kennedy's assassination! Yes, much of the material is sophomoric but many of that is still funny in my mind! So on that note, I still highly recommend The Kentucky Fried Movie!
Hollywood Boulevard (1976)
Hollywood Boulevard was, to tell the truth, not as entertaining as I hoped it would be...
I suppose if one was a Roger Corman fan and had watched a lot of his movies, one would really get the humor of this one particular one. For the most part, I couldn't since I've only watched just a few of his movies. But since I do know of his reputation of making cheap movies, I was intrigued by how the whole narrative was going and while I didn't think much of it was funny, it did become humorous to me near the end during a scene involving the Hollywood sign. So maybe someday, if I become more familiar with the Roger Corman filmography, I may watch this again and find it more entertaining...
The Brothers Warner (2007)
The Brothers Warner was a fasinating doc about the famous film family
Cass Warner Sperling made this fine documentary of her grandfather Harry Warner and his brothers, Sam, Albert, and Jack, in telling the story of their making history by going into the motion picture business and forming the legendary Warner Bros. Pictures studio. So we see many pics of them and Cass' various siblings and cousins as she interviews some of them. I was most fascinated by Sam's relationship and marriage with Lina Basquette. And also of Jack's eventual betrayal of Harry. In summary, The Brothers Warner was a worthy doc of the famous film family.
The Court Jester (1955)
Danny Kaye is at his comedic best in The Court Jester
For years, I only knew of this movie because of the "pestle in the vessel" sequence of which that clip ran on many specials dedicated to classic movie comedy. I've now seen this with Mom on Amazon Prime Video and we both thought this was a very funny movie. Danny Kaye really seemed at the peak of his comedic talents here not only with that tongue-twisting thing I just mentioned but also because of a hypnotist trick done on him that makes him change characterization with the snap of the fingers! Helped by Angela Lansbury, Basil Rathbone, and Glynis Johns, this was quite a treat to watch! So Mom and me highly recommend The Court Jester!