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I wanted, really wanted, to like this movie. Unfortunately there's mostly low grade melodrama performed by mediocre actors. The kaiju battles were OK but all took place at night for some reason. All-in-all an overlong snoozefest.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (2017)
I just binge watched both seasons of Mrs. Maisel.
Frankly, I was not impressed, especially by Season 2, in which the show went completely off the tracks.
The Mrs. Maisel stand up comedy is, well, not funny, rarely bringing a smile to my face.
Are we to believe 50's audiences would enjoy this woman's constant self-pitying whining and kvetching?
Since the entire premise of the show is what a fantastic talent Mrs. M is (as her Greek chorus of sycophants never tire of telling us), this is a serious problem.
I also have a problem with the rapid rise of Mrs. M in the stand up world and her amazing ability to meet celebrities of the era, it's way too contrived.
But the main problem is that the Mrs. Maisel character isn't likeable - she's a spoiled, self-centered, self-pitying Jewish American princess with an overinflated sense of entitlement. She treats her children like accessories, dumping them off at her parents while she pursues her questionable comedy career.
Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933)
My Favorite Busby Berkeley Musical
Just finished watching "Gold Diggers of 1933". This is arguably one of the best, if not the best, of the Busby Berkeley musicals. Great cast too, although I still have to wonder who ever thought that Ruby Keeler could act. Great subplot involving stuffed-shirts Warren William and Guy Kibbee and gold diggers Joan Blondell and Aline MacMahon. This is a fun film with great songs including the knockout version of "We're In The Money" sung in pig latin by Ginger Rogers in the very beginning of the film.
Riding Shotgun (1954)
Not Randolph Scott's Best
I'll watch any western with Randolph Scott and they run the gamut from great to not so hot. In the latter we have "Riding Shotgun", an illogical, muddled tale of Randy being mistaken as in cahoots with the gang that shot up the stage coach and plans to rob the town. The plot, such as it is, is often only moved forward with Randy proving a voiceover Greek chorus. Randy was in there pitching but is done in with bad dialog and little support from the rest of the cast.
Hands of the Ripper (1971)
Bit of a sleep inducer
This is a not that bad Hammer horror idea dragged down by the dull dialog and deathly slow pacing. The idea itself is a pretty good one, have Jack the Ripper beget another little ripperette, who proves lethal to those unfortunate enough to kiss her. Several bloody killings, prostitutes, and a whispering gallery all contribute to this 4 Star production, making it somewhat less of a snooze-fest than it otherwise would be.
It's unfortunate that this film gets compared to the original Fritz Lang masterpiece as it is an excellent film in its own right.
David Wayne turns in a great performance as the child killer. The location shots in Los Angeles are excellent, especially in the oft used Bradbury Building.
Well worth viewing.
Top Hat (1935)
The Quintessential Fred & Ginger Film
This film defines the Fred & Ginger genre and is a delight from beginning to the (almost) end.
First off, there's terrific songs by Irving Berlin, except for the Picolino, which ends the movie, rather letting down the audience.
But there's Fred & Ginger dancing on air to make one forget all about any shortcomings of the thin plot and the Picolino.
Add veteran character actors like Edward Everett Horton and Eric Blore for comedy relief and this all adds up to the best of the Fred & Ginger oeuvre.
Blood from the Mummy's Tomb (1971)
Where's My Mummy?
This is an astoundingly bad film, even by mummy movie standards.
Problem one is that there's no mummy, insofar as there is no bandage-wrapped gent shambling after the next hapless victim. There's a sort-of mummy, who just happens to be perfectly preserved young woman with big boobs.
The plot is ludicrous and the script is laughably bad.
The direction, such as it is, is trite and amateurish, with no real attempt to set the appropriate mood other than using an intrusive musical score of dubious merit.
The acting ranges from sub-par to utter ham.
Not worth the time it takes to see it.
Kaijû sôshingeki (1968)
Some Great Kaiju Battles
Directed by Ishirō Honda, this film has a silly plot about the Kelok people from outer space controlling the kaiju in their quest to conquer Earth.
Plot and other deficiencies aside, what this film really offers is lots of really great kaiju battle scenes.
I enjoy watching guys in monster costumes destroy cleverly constructed but obvious miniature cities and this film has it in spades.
Admittedly, despite Honda's directing, this is a film best suited to die-hard kaiju fans such as myself.
This is a bad movie.
This is an abominably bad movie, far worse than anything Ed Wood ever did. Wood's oeuvre is at least watchable, if only for camp humor. And Wood's films had a certain loony integrity, a virtue lacking in "The Electronic Monster".
"The Electronic Monster" has none of that, offering only an excruciatingly dull mishmash of a confusing script, dreadful acting, a totally misused electronic music background and grade-Z production values.
Professional lox, Rod Cameron, never any threat the Lawrence Olivier anyway, is egregiously bad and his somewhat fickle paramour, Mary Murphy demonstrates why she was seldom heard from again
Watching this movie makes one wish the dream machine really worked so that they may erase the memory of ever seeing this completely valueless waste of film.
Chrisley Knows Best (2014)
More reality show garbage - this time scrapping the bottom of the barrel.
This is reality show programming at its worst, well maybe not Kardashian bad but that would be pretty much impossible, now wouldn't it?
Anyhoo, this particular swamp in television's vast wasteland is populated by a flamboyant, possibly closeted, extremely obnoxious know-it-all, his idiot wife and his obnoxious brood.
Apparently the USA network had exhausted all other possible suppliers of TV programming and had to choose between this worthless dreck and broadcasting a test pattern.
Personally, I would find watching the old Indian Chief test pattern preferable to the grating Mr. Chrisley.
Newton Minnow was right.
Die Nackte und der Satan (1959)
A very bad movie
This is a ridiculously bad German movie, dubbed (poorly) into English.
Although it plumbs the same depths of cinematic ineptitude as Ed Wood's groundbreaking bad film, "Plan 9 From Outer Space" or Phil Tucker's immortal 3-D saga "Robot Monster", it brings no enjoyment to the viewer, only an intense desire for the film to come to its merciful conclusion.
For fans of bad horror films (like me, for instance) this film is not without its virtues however.
Despite the obvious el cheapo budget, the production values are not too bad and the acting (as far as I could deduce from the dubbing) isn't either.
And I did like the talking head...
Black Friday (1940)
"Black Friday" headlines Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi but the real star is Stanley Ridges.
Karloff is the doctor who must save his Professor friend Ridges life after he gets run down by a gangster (also played by Ridges) who was being pursued by bad guy Lugosi and company.
He transplants the gangster's brain (or part of it, I'm not sure) into the Professor.
The plot thickens when the Professor begins to recall some of the gangster's memories and Karloff thinks to use him to find the gangster's $500,000.00.
Like I said, Ridges is the real star of this picture and his transformations between the mild mannered professor and the psychopathic gangster and back are very effective.
An intelligent script, good acting and typically good Universal production values make this a little "B" movie worth watching.
Blood Feast (1963)
Dreadful, Amateurish Trash
This may well be the worst picture ever made.
For those of you who don't know, the plot involves a loony Egyptian caterer who must prepare the titular Blood Feast for the goddess Ishtar.
Unfortunately for the nubile young women who live in the area, the "Feast" consists of their body parts.
He's an enterprising psycho and goes about the town killing, butchering and dismembering the young women.
There is not one aspect of this film that is not atrocious (maybe with the exception of the cinematography which is barely adequate.) The script is inane and the actors are the worst I have ever seen.
Director Herschell Gordon Lewis makes Ed Wood seem like Cecil B. DeMille in comparison.
This film isn't one of the so-bad-it's-good bad films.
No, it's just bad, bad, bad.
Gangster Squad (2013)
Dreadful, Simply Dreadful
My senses were assaulted by the miserable excuse for a film today.
New words have to be invented to describe how mind-numbingly dreadful this piece of garbage is.
There is no cliché or stereotype you can think of that is not present here.
Professional lox, Josh Brolin, scowls throughout the movies in what he apparently thought was how a supposedly tough cop acted.
The other actors failed to even meet the low standard set by Brolin.
The exception is Sean Penn whose portrayal of Mickey Cohen was redolent of ham but leagues ahead of the rest of the performers.
Although I had never seen "Gangster Squad" before, the script was so hackneyed and trite that I knew how every scene would end as soon as it started.
They even stuck an Abbott & Costello gag in there ("Post Office is a kid's game", "Not the way I play it")
Senseless and ludicrous gunfights abound here. One gunfight scene had a hood holding and firing a Thompson sub-machine gun in each hand without a bit of recoil from the very powerful gun.
This film is unbelievably bad. Not in the so-bad-it's-good way either but in the dreadful I-can't-wait-for-it-to end way.
There is not one redeeming quality to this film.
Every copy of this film should be gathered up and burned.
Night Monster (1942)
This creep-fest from Universal allegedly stars Bela Lugosi & Lionel Atwill, but Atwill gets bumped off early on and Bela as the butler has little to do but lurk around suspiciously.
The plot, such as it is, involves a series of mysterious stranglings in and about the requisite spooky old house owned by a crippled bitter old man.
There's an Indian mystic, a wise-ass writer (Don Porter), a creepy housekeeper, obnoxious chauffeur, an idiot sheriff, and various other characters milling about.
Although I never saw or read about this movie before seeing it Saturday night on Svengoolie's TV show, I figured out the plot by the end of the first reel and you will too, if you chance to see it.
But it was fun to watch and a not unpleasant way to pass an idle hour or so..
The King of Queens (1998)
Not So Good Sitcom
"King of Queens" occasionally has some genuinely funny moments but, unfortunately, they are very few and very far between.
Kevin James is the beer loving dolt who is married to pretty but shrewish wife, Leah Remini. Living with them is her father, the absolutely unbearable Jerry Stiller.
The comedy is mainly based on the husband screwing something up and the wife fixing it. It's all been done a thousand times before and there is very little that is original in this program.
But the worst aspect of the show if the odious Jerry Stiller, who shouts and screams most of his decidedly unfunny lines, you know - just like Frank Costanza on Seinfeld.
The Tattooed Stranger (1950)
Early Police Procedural
"The Tattooed Stranger" is a sub-B quickie with the saving grace of being shot on the streets of post-war New York.
The cinematography is very good. Unfortunately the script and acting is not. The acting seldom rises above the level that one would find in an Ed Wood movie. Ditto for the dialog.
But the film's pacing is very good (as it would have to be to squeeze in the story in its brief running time) and the shots of New York City make the whole film worthwhile.
Look quick to spot Jack Lord in the 1st reel, then later on speaking a few lines toward the end.
Take off a star if you aren't a NYC buff.
Employees' Entrance (1933)
Warren William At His Best!
This just may be the perfect pre-code Warren William film. Warren plays a hard-nosed, hard-charging department store executive. He seduces gorgeous but broke & unemployed Loretta Young with a meal and a job. Loretta then falls for Wallace Ford, who is being groomed by Warren to be another hard-nosed executive. One thing leads to another and Loretta and Wallace wed (secretly so Warren doesn't find out). However, there's trouble in paradise and after a tiff at an employee's party, a drunken Loretta once again sleeps with Warren. In the meantime, the bankers are plotting to oust Warren, which causes him to seek the proxy votes of the vacationing fatuous store owner. In the course of his machinations, the caddish Warren has Wallace listen in secretly to a conversation twixt himself and Loretta in which she admits to cuckolding Wallace. Time is getting tight, with the board of directors meeting at 10AM. At the last minute, Warren gets the proxy votes he needs to forestall the bankers. Loretta and Wallace kiss and make up. The End.
I give this film an "A". Excellent acting and direction. The minor players (almost all familiar to pre-code film fans) are great. Warren William is in his element here, playing a cad and brutal businessman. He was never better. Loretta Young is beautiful and turns in a very good performance too, as does Wally Ford. This aired on TCM the other day and, given TCM's film rotation, is likely to show up again in the next few months. Not to be missed!!!
Criss Cross (1949)
This is an attempt at noir by Universal and doesn't quite hit the mark, IMO. The first half or so of the film deals mostly with mushy stuff between Burt Lancaster and Yvonne Decarlo, and apparent third wheel, Dan Duryea. It creaks along but then takes off when the caper (an armored car heist) begins. Then there's plenty of action, right up to the nihilistic conclusion.
Dan Duryea gives a good performance. Burt is so-so and Yvonne reveals why she never was a major star. Good performances by the minor players. The direction was questionable, as the film slowed to a crawl several times during the seemingly endless first half. Worth watching for Duryea's performance and little else. I give it a C-
The Singing Fool (1928)
Jolie at his finest.
"The Singing Fool" is a hybrid silent/mostly talkie showcase for the inimitable Al Jolson.
Jolie is a singing waiter who gets a big break and zooms to stardom. His parasitic floozy wife is two-timing him with his best friend and finally leaves Jolie, taking his beloved son with her.
Jolie goes into a downward spiral until his old employer sets him right and Jolie once again becomes a star. Just when everything is looking rosy for Jolie, his son becomes ill and dies as Jolie holds him in his arms and warbles "Sonny Boy".
If you like your early musicals with a hefty serving of shmaltz, you can't go wrong here.
Jolie is an idol of mine and this film is one of the best, if not the best, of his oeuvre.
War of the Colossal Beast (1958)
A fitting sequel to The Amazing Colossal Man
War of the Colossal Beast is the sequel to the Amazing Colossal Man and is directed by Bert I. Gordon. Those of you unfamiliar with the first movie just have to know the Col. Glenn Manning was turned into the Colossal Man via that 50's favorite, radioactivity, and was shot off Boulder Dam and presumed deceased at the conclusion of that picture. This picture picks up with Manning being found in Mexico, still a giant but now horribly disfigured and apparently insane. The Army captures him and brings him to Los Angeles on the somewhat shaky presumption that nothing could possibly go wrong with bringing a violently insane 60 foot man to a major population center. Well, of course Manning breaks free and proceeds to terrorize Griffith Park. His loving sister confronts him and snaps him back to sanity. At that point he decides to electrocute himself on some convenient high tension wires. The End.
This American International (the hallmark of quality!) picture is actually pretty good given the genre and its (low) budget. I feel it is superior to The Amazing Colossal Man. The special effects are at once both cheesy and surprisingly effective. There's also plenty of footage from the original picture shown in flashback moments and some stock footage thrown in for good measure. The film moves along at a nice clip and the acting is acceptable, if at times a tad overwrought. A nice touch in the grand electrocution finale is the switch over to glorious color, so the viewer can fully enjoy the disintegration of Col. Manning. My "B" Movie Meter: 8.5*
The Flying Serpent (1946)
This magnificent epic from the good folks at PRC features George Zucco as the mad scientist (division of archeology). Seems Zucco has discovered the lost treasure of the Aztecs and Quetzalcoatl to boot. Not wanting to share the treasure, Zucco plants a feather from Quetzalcoatl on his intended victim and than sics the flying serpent at them. Radio crime reporter Ralph Lewis is hot on the tail of the murderer and eventually finds out the truth but not before several other killings occur. This is a loose remake of PRCs 1940 Lugosi vehicle, "The Devil Bat". Despite some serious logical flaws, this is a pretty good film as far as the genre goes. The scenes with Quetzalcoatl flying are very well done and there are a couple of matte shots of real Aztec ruins that are excellent, especially so for cheapo PRC. Zucco hams it up, of course, but is suitably villainous and the rest of the cast is adequate. Only 59 minutes long! My "B" Movie Meter: 7.5*
The Mysterious Mr. Wong (1934)
No Sot Hot
This isn't the Mr. Wong made famous by Boris Karloff a few years later but stars Bela Lugosi as the titular hero. Featuring Wallace Ford as a wisecracking reporter so popular back in the 30's, the plot revolves around Bela's trying to get the 12 gold coins of Confucius so he can become the ruler of a province in China. Bela makes little to no attempt to disguise his thick Hungarian accent, even when speaking in pidgin English, and the result is rather humorous. There's a lot of milling around on the typically cheap, tiny Monogram sets and the dialog is pretty lame too. My "B" Movie Meter: 4* (add one star if you are a die-hard Lugosi fanatic)
Strangler of the Swamp (1946)
Pretty Good for PRC
This is a PRC quickie that's not bad, not bad at all. The plot revolves around the ghost of titular strangler (Charles "Ming The Merciless" Middleton) who was wrongly executed by the backwoods denizens of the swamp. He out for for revenge, of course, and has already strangled several of the rather dimwitted population. Former Miss America Rosemary La Planche is the descendant of one of the rubes who takes over as ferrywoman after her grandpa is offed by the Strangler. Blake Edwards (!) is her love interest, doomed by the Strangler but saved by the love of Miss La Planche. Most of the picture takes place on the ferry in the soundstage "swamp". Spooky atmosphere and good pacing keep the tension going for the 58 minute running time.