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Outside Bet (2012)
4/10
This plot still itches for a good comedy film
12 October 2019
The plot of this British film had real promise for a comedy. The characters are a mostly good collection for pulling it off. The screenplay is fairly good, and all the cast are okay. The dialog is fairly straight forward. So, it's apparently not intended to be a comedy with much witticism. The scenes are well done and the countryside scenery toward the end is fine.

With all of that, "Outside Bet" still missed the bet of being a very good film. Its feel is very slow. The scenes in the print shop seem to set the mood. The time of this film, with labor and social clashes in England, plays in the story and may be too much for the comedy to stand out. And, with pictures of people who hardly seem to be doing much work at the print business, it's hard for a viewer to empathize with this group.

Toss in the gratuitous sex scenes of modern cinema (although not terribly graphic), and the story and movie here are more ho-hum than interesting. What little comedy there is gets buried in the mix.
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8/10
One of the better non-stop action thrillers
11 October 2019
"Knight and Day" is one of the modern fast action, thrill-a-minute films that has become a staple in a more frenzied world. The appeal of most of these films is the action of the hero. Most don't have very plausible scenarios at all, and they generally have screenplays of the same caliber.

For some reason, I enjoyed this shoot-em-up, smash-bang, adrenaline pumping film more than most. Tom Cruise does very well as the "super" hero here. His fast moves, defenses and physical feats are very good. Toss in his occasional quips for some humor and his Roy Miller is quite entertaining. The latter aspect sort of renders the fear and worry that Cameron Diaz shows at times, as unbelievable.

This is the kind of film when one can enjoy the action, and film production talents, however far-fetched and unreal the action and scenes might be. It's one off the better films of the early 21st century in the non-stop action film category.
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2/10
Scraping the barrel to find funny
11 October 2019
Many years ago, I read a comment by a past great comic (I can't remember who it was) who said that modern examples of toilet humor just meant that the writers couldn't come up with real comedy. That might apply as well to writers of raunchy, distasteful and demeaning material. One hesitates to call it humor or comedy. I am aware, though, that there is a market for such material, so there are those writers (and producers, actors and others) who would want to cash in on it.

Thus we have this 1998 film, "There's Something About Mary." The cast leads in this film all have shaky records of success with comedies. That goes for Cameron Diaz and Ben Stiller, especially. Matt Dillon's career is most promising with drama. Most of these comedies have not been box office hits. And for most such films, the efforts for comedy are primarily situational, along with the crude and crass dialog. There is minimal clever or witty dialog. It does seem that the writers for this film checked their minds at the theater doors.

Other reviewers noted the newness of the comedy approach in this 1998 film. And, while it was a big box office hit (probably because of the interest in the new comedy method), the brand didn't stick as a huge success. For that, there have been more failures (losses) than successes (profits). Most movie fans, it seems, still prefer intelligent, genuine comedy and clever scripts over the obscene and crude. The two stars are for a couple of funny instances in this otherwise dreary attempt at humor.
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7/10
A good comedy that could have been great
11 October 2019
"A Millionaire for Christy" had the potential to be a tremendous comedy. It is a very good comedy, but could have been great. The plot is very good and mostly original. The screenplay is quite good. The script has witty dialog in many places with some hilarious scenes. And, the cast is first-rate. Yet, one role as played by Eleanor Parker, Christy Sloane, casts a shadow over the film that keeps it from being a top comedy.

Parker was a very good actress who played a variety of roles in her career. She was known especially for her dramatic acting and was very good in all of her mystery and thriller films. She made very few comedies, with mixed results. The only very good one was the 1955 film, "Many Rivers to Cross." Its plot was not unlike that of this film. But it had a huge cast and a screenplay with much humorous activity. This film has just three comedy characters and Parker seems wooden with very little energy for her role. Her mind seems to be elsewhere much of the time, as though she were stuck in the daydream scene she has very early in the film.

That leaves Fred MacMurray and Richard Carlson to provide most of the comedy, which they do. The film has some scenes in which MacMurray's Peter Lockwood and Carlson's Dr. Roland Cook have some very witty lines and repartee.

With a fresh version of the screenplay, and an actress like Carole Lombard, Irene Dunne, or Jean Arthur in the Christy Sloane role, this could be a tremendous comedy. It's still good with some very funny dialog, and most movie buffs should enjoy it. Here are some favorite lines from the film.

Christy Sloane, "Rich or handsome, you won't find me running after any man." Patsy Clifford, "Oh, if every single girl felt like that, the race would've died out years ago."

Peter Lockwood, "Oh, no, no, no, it's just a girl." Dr. Roland Cook, "Yes, I know. They taught us the difference in medical school."

Peter Lockwood, "I don't like your attitude much." Dr. Roland Cook, "My attitude? Isn't it enough that you took June away from me while I was studying in Menninger's?" Peter, "Well, you didn't study hard enough. That blond was a total stranger and nuttier than a fruitcake. Couldn't you tell that?" Roland, "Only if she were lying on a couch."

Peter Lockwood, "Who can afford to go crazy at your prices?"

Peter Lockwood, "Now, you be a good girl and get in this phone booth. Pretend you're a princess and you've been locked in a tower by the unhappy dragon."

Peter Lockwood, "You think you're traveling with a fellow who can only talk about prune juice?"

Christy Sloane, "Oh, you know, the Indians have lyrics too." Peter Lockwood, "Yes. I used them on my program last year for Lionel's Lozenges."

Christy Sloane, "Oh, I, I feel like such a heel. I mean, about spending your honeymoon with you." Peter Lockwood, "It couldn't be helped. I don't suppose it's too unusual for people to drive into the ocean. That's life."

Dr. Roland Cook, "This young woman - impressionable, overly sensitive. She's actually formed an emotional attachment from listening to you on the radio." Peter Lockwood, "Oh, one of those mash things, huh?"

Christy Sloane, "Oh, this is insane." Dr. Roland Cook, "That's my racket. Let me do the thinking."

Dr. Roland Cook, "You must realize that the female nervous system is a delicate mechanism." Peter Lockwood, "I can see that." Roland, "Did you kiss her fingertips?" Peter, "Well, why? Did her hand fall off or something?" Roland,, "I'm sorry; I've got to be systematic." Peter, "Well, I'm sorry, but I'm not going to take a cook's tour around the human torso."

Peter Lockwood, "And I knew doc was wrong about... well, I mean, you would never commit suicide, would you?" Christy Sloane, "Not unless you don't get to the point."

Dr. Roland Cook, "You know, this is the first time I've ever had tequila. I like it because it doesn't hit you like those mortoonis do." (sic)

Dr. Roland Cook, "Even in school, I was much brighter too". Christy, "Than who?" Roland, "Peter." Christy, "Oh." Roland, "Had a better mind, was a think quinker." (sic) Christy, "Doctor, you're drunk".
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6/10
Another look at New York high life for Depression audiences
3 October 2019
"Times Square Playboy" is a Depression era comedy about the high life of the well-to-do. One notices that the company that Victor Arnold heads is a stock and bonds firm. This film came out less than seven years after the Wall Street collapse (October 1929) that began the Great Depression worldwide. Perhaps Hollywood was trying to send a message that things were once again healthy, or well on the way to recovery.

It was during this decade that many movies were stories about wealthy people who seemed not to have been hurt by the stock market crash. They were living the good life, especially the good night life. And, the early days of sound pictures seemed to have a fascination for New York City, Broadway and Times Square. Did the movies originate or fuel the myth that every small-town girl dreamed of escaping to the big city?

Most of the people going to the "pictures" in 1936 were in the working class. One wonders what the different thoughts might be when, in this film, the male lead buys a $40,000 bracelet for his fiancé. That would be nearly $740,000 in 2019. The average household income in the U.S. in 1936 was barely $1,000, compared to about $60,000 in 2019. So, that one bracelet then amounted to nearly a lifetime of work for the average working person.

Anyway, this is a comedy that stars some well-known actors of the day. Warren William and Gene Lockhart were seasoned film actors before this, and though William has the male lead, Lockhart has the dominant role here, with more film time. Indeed, this movie seems to be a showcase for Gene, who uses it well with displays of a range of behaviors and moods. He is on the verge of a breakdown, angry to the point of exploding. He is suspicious and amiable, and then rueful and sorry.

Lockhart plays P.H. Bancroft, a long-time best friend of Arnold's. His wife in real life, Kathleen Lockhart, plays his wife here. Lottie Bancroft has her fair share of screen time for some quality acting as well. The Arnold part is rather small for William, who usually had substantial leads. Of course, his physical workouts here detract from the acting, but look quite good as he wrestles, runs and does other workout routines with his butler, Casey (played by Barton MacLane). This reminds one of another comedy in which Lockhart plays a wealthy father who has an array of physical asides with his butler - but I can't think of the title just now.

The rest of the cast are fine. The screenplay seems choppy in places, and the technical quality isn't very good. The plot is familiar but has a nice twist. The story is just so-so, but those who enjoy older films should find this one palatable. Those who are hooked on the adrenalin flows in many modern films will probably be bored.
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G.I. Blues (1960)
6/10
Elvis has a hit film based on his Army service in Germany
1 October 2019
No sooner had Elvis Presley been honorably discharged from the Army, than work cranked up on a movie based on his active duty service in West Germany. That was in March of 1960, but the idea for the film had been hatched by Presley's manager and others before that. Producer Hal Wallis flew to Germany to go over the movie script with Presley in 1959. So, some of the location shots of the countryside and German villages were filmed in the waning weeks of Presley's active duty. But, most of the movie was filmed at Paramount studios in California.

By November of that year, "G.I. Blues" was released in theaters, and teens and other fans at home and abroad were anxious to see the "king of rock 'n roll' back in action. They had been hearing Elvis all along, thanks to clever planning by his managers. Presley had made a number of recordings before he was inducted into the Army, and his handlers released these at intervals during his military service. So, it was as though he were still on stage and singing and recording all along.

Elvis had made just four films before this one, but "G.I. Blues" kicked off a very lucrative run in which the king made 27 films during the decade of the 60s. Of course, during all that time, he continued to top the music charts as well, with one hit song after another. While critics were mostly tepid to negative about this movie, it was a box office hit with the audience for whom it was intended.

Presley plays Tulsa McLean, a GI with a singing voice who dreams of opening a nightclub when he gets out of the service. The story is just so-so, but the songs and situations are what were of most interest in 1960. Since then, this film probably is somewhat enjoyed just as a curiosity about Presley and his career and stint in the U.S. Army. The setting was similar to Presley's service. He was stationed near Friedberg, West Germany (this was during the Cold War when East Germany was in the Soviet bloc) in the 3rrd Armored Division.

Army veterans will wonder at Presley's full and large head of hair. It's not as long and greasy as had been before his military service, but it still is much more than one would see on a GI at that time.

Although I wasn't a huge rock 'n roll fan (still preferring swing and jazz), I enjoyed the movie back then. I was out of high school and in college at the time. Within a couple years, I would be serving myself in the Army in West Germany.
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8/10
The ruler of the roost and the real master homemaker
30 September 2019
"Life with Father" is a superbly subtle comedy about family life in an age long ago. The setting is New York City in 1883. This film is based on a play that was based on the memoirs of Clarence Day. It is a look at family life in an age that is perceived as having husbands and fathers as firm and rigid rulers of their roosts. Of course, any number of books and stories from that time attest that the stereotype was not true for all, or even very widely applicable.

But this film is a snapshot of Clarence Day and his family. It has an unusual twist that winds through the story. The fact that the father, Clarence, can't recall that he was ever baptized guides the outcome of this story.

The film has a superb cast from top to bottom. William Powell and Irene Dunne are the perfect match for the roles of Clarence and Vinnie Day - Father and Mother. The comedy here isn't in the usual clever or funny dialog, or in pratfalls or other humorous antics. Rather, it is an ingeniously subtle humor woven into the parts and acted so excellently by the players. By that stereotype of the family of the time, Clarence is the master of his domain. But Dunne's Vinnie has the cunning and ability to steer things her way after Father has put his foot down on one matter or another. This happens repeatedly, and by Mother's sly changing of topics or the direction of a discussion, Father winds up giving in. Powell's Father isn't frustrated for long, because the challenges of a large brood of boys and a household come one after another.

Two scenes in particular in this film do evoke hearty laughter. Both have to do with money, bills and exchanges. And Dunne's Mother leaves Powell's Father bewildered at the conclusion of each. He is a Wall Street investment and finance broker, but Vinnie's household math logic is beyond his grasp.

In the roles of the children are some up and coming stars and actors with long futures ahead of them. Elizabeth Taylor plays a cousin of the family, Mary Skinner. Marty Milner is in his first of more than 100 films, here playing John Day. And Jimmy Lydon (at 24) plays the oldest teen son, Clarence Day Jr. He already had more than a dozen films behind him and would be in 150 films in his career. Not all child actors go on to have successful film careers as adults. Two of the boys here were such. Johnny Calkins plays Whitney Day and he made only a dozen films before he quit acting in 1949. Derek Scott as Harlan Day is in his only film role.

The rest of the cast are mostly accomplished actors who lend a good hand to the plot with their skills. Leading this bunch is Edmund Gwenn as Rev. Dr. Lloyd. He would win an Oscar for his role as Kris Kringle in the Christmas movie, "Miracle on 34th Street" later in 1947. Another well-known actress is Zasu Pitts who plays Aunt Cora Cartwright.

This is a wonderful film for the whole family, but one which younger members of the family may see only as being about a harsh father. Even with explanation, they may not appreciate the humor of Mother getting her way out of most disputes. On second thought, perhaps only we senior members may enjoy this film for what it is.
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6/10
A little different Western with an unusual leading man
24 September 2019
"The Bushwhackers" is one of the rare movies in which John Ireland had the male lead. Ireland was just an okay actor who did well in many of the supporting and smaller roles he got in films. But, he wasn't a top-drawer actor, and without the more handsome looks he was relegated to being a supporting actor and frequent cast member.

Ireland does well in this film. It's a different type of Western. The film opens with some gritty scenes of the Civil War and the war's end. Ireland's Jefferson Waring has had his fill of killing and guns, and he heads for the West to start life anew - without any firearms. When he reaches Independence, Missouri, he finds himself embroiled in a feud in which a land baron is trying to run off settlers. That was a worn-out plot of many Westerns in the 1950s.

The story has some nice twists, with Waring getting the short end of a couple of encounters and winding up in the hoosegow. And, naturally, there's a girl who eventually helps Waring change his mind about moving on.

Other characters include Marshal John Harding, played by Wayne Morris, and Cathy Sharpe, played by Dorothy Malone. A standard bad guy in Westerns is Jack Elam, here playing Cree. The big extra in this film, and reason to see it, is Lon Chaney Jr. He plays Artemus Taylor. I don't think Chaney was ever in another Western.
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7/10
Back in the U.S., Fulton steams up the Hudson River
23 September 2019
"Little Old New York" is a fictional story about Robert Fulton's invention of the first successful steamboat. It is based on a 1920 Broadway play by Rida Young of the same title that ran for 308 performances. Young was a playwright who became best known for her lyrics to Victor Herbert's operetta, "Naughty Marietta."

Fulton had been living in Europe for some 20 years where he first made a living as a painter and then began working on inventions, sometimes with others. Back in the States, Fulton set out to find backing to build the first steamboat to navigate rivers. Henry Stephenson plays Robert Livingston, a former U.S. ambassador whom Fulton had met and befriended in England. Livingston helped raise the funds for Fulton's steamboat.

Richard Green plays Robert Fulton, and while the story is about his invention, it revolves mostly around another couple. Much, if not most of this is fictional, of course. Alice Faye plays Pat O'Day, a wharf front tavern owner who first is smitten by Fulton, and then helps round up support and finances for him. Her cohort in this adventure is Charles Brownne, played by Fred MacMurray. He's been Pat's beau all along.

This is a light comedy and drama about Fulton's invention. It does have some historical value, but mostly in its pictorial presentation of the docks and shipbuilding of 18th and 19th centuries, The Fox studio did a superb job in replicating the shipbuilding works of New England of the day. And in portraying the craft of shipbuilding at the time.
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Evergreen (1934)
9/10
Early British song and dance star shines in this lavish musical
23 September 2019
"Evergreen" is one of the best musical films that showcases the multi-talented Jessie Matthews. The darling of British stage and early cinema musicals shines in this lavish production with her singing and dancing. The film is a further adaptation of the original 1930 stage musical by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, in which Matthews starred.

The plot is modeled on the story of Edwardian actress, singer and comedienne Marie Lloyd (1870-1922). And, on her daughter's recreation of her mother's most popular stage show. The daughter performed as Marie Lloyd Junior.

This Gaumont film itself is similar to the lavish musicals that MGM made with the expansive choreography of Busby Berkeley. Matthews plays Harriet Green. She is the mother in the first few minutes, and daughter in the bulk of the film. Barry MacKay plays Tommy Thompson, the male lead. Sonnie Hale plays Leslie Benn, and Betty Balfour plays Maudie. Benn is the play director and choreographer who knew young Harriet's mother. He is now the producer and director of a new show that stars the daughter. There is a caveat to the mother-daughter aspect though. Harriet is being billed as the original Harriet returned. The theater press and public are rightly incredulous that this vibrant young-looking star could be a woman of nearly 60.

The story plays out well, with wonderful musical numbers, dancing and singing by Matthews. Her numbers are complimented with other lavishly choreographed and staged routines with large numbers of people.

Few Americans were able to see Matthews in films at the time. Those who traveled to England may have seen British films there. Others may have seen her in cinemas in Canada or overseas. The British cinema industry didn't want to lose Matthews, and she turned down several Hollywood offers in the 1930s.

Today, of course, people everyway can enjoy the talents of Matthews through any number of media. "Evergreen" is one of her best musicals, but there are others. And, Matthews also shines in some straight comedies. One not to be missed is the wacky 1938 comedy, "Climbing High," in which Matthews stars with Michael Redgrave and Alastair Sim.
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7/10
They won't marry for the money
23 September 2019
"The Man from Toronto" is a comedy-romance that stars Jessie Matthews. The talented Matthews made fewer than three dozen films in her career. Her forte was musicals and comedies. She made most of her films in the 1930s and before the end of World War II. She was never able to regain her film stature after the war. She worked mostly in TV after that.

Matthews was all but forgotten as a film star when she died of cancer at the age of 74 in 1981. But she left some splendid films for posterity. She was a superb comedienne and singer whose greatest talent was in her dancing. She was so nimble on her feet that she must have been double-jointed. In most of her dance routines, she would do swooshing kicks in which her left or right leg would touch the side of her head perpendicular to the floor. This film is one of the few she made in which she neither sang nor danced. The plot is somewhat original. She is a widow, Mrs. Leslie Farrar. She is in the will of a deceased wealthy man whom she wouldn't marry. She will inherit 250,000 pounds, but only if she marries his nephew. The nephew, Fergus Wimbbush (played by Ian Hunter) lives in Toronto. But he is wealthy in his own right, and neither he nor Leslie are inclined to marry just for the money - sight unseen. On second thought, of course, they would like to look one another over.

But, Leslie plots a plan to pose as a maid to Mrs. Farrar when Wimbush travels to England to look over Mrs. Farrar. One can imagine where this will go from there. The supporting cast has two characters that play heavily in the story. Frederick Kerr is Bunston, the solicitor and executor of the will. And Margaret Yarde plays Mrs. Hubbard. These and others add some comedy to the story.

The comedy is mostly in situations, so the script has very little by way of witty dialog. The film fits in the category of butler and/or maid comedies. Matthews' character is a bit harsh, sort of spoiled. Wimbush is smitten by the maid, Polly Perkins (Mrs. Farrar in disguise). It's not a roaring comedy but a pleasant one. The film quality is rather poor, and some of the direction and editing appear to have been weak.

This is not one of the better of Jessie Matthews films. But it is a fun film that most people should enjoy.
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5/10
A love triangle that comedy that misses the mark
23 September 2019
"That Uncertain Feeling" doesn't make it as a very good comedy. It has a top cast of the day. The plot is both familiar and yet slightly different. A shrink convinces a woman that she is miserable in her marriage. Her husband is all business and doesn't fawn over her. A third guy enters the picture to take advantage of the situation. So, the standard movie triangle develops. But this plot doesn't seem to click as written. The screenplay is weak, and the characters just don't seem to mix well.

I suspect that's because of the character that Burgess Meredith plays. His Alexander Sebastian is an irritable, dislikable character from the first. His movements and antics seem forced. While they were probably intended for humor, they instead just seem to annoy one. His persona is not believable as someone that Merle Oberon's Jill Baker would fall for. Then there's Oberon herself. She is definitely not at home here. She contributes almost nothing to the comedy.

Most of the comedy is provided by Melvyn Douglas as Larry Baker. For the very short times that three supporting actors are on screen, they all contribute to the humor. Alan Mowbray is Dr. Vengard, Harry davenport is Jones and Eve Arden is Shirley. Of the main characters, Douglas is the only one who could master comedy in many films. And that shows all too well in this film.

Oberon and Burgess were very good actors, but mostly in dramas, mystery or other films. Only toward the end of his career did Burgess show a flair comedy. For all of her beauty and dramatic talent, Oberon's few roles with comedy were hit and miss. Without Douglas, this film would have been a total flop. With a much better screenplay and an established comedienne in the lead female role (and Franchot Tone in the love triangle), this could have been a smashing comedy.

Here is the best of the few funny lines in the film.

Jill Baker, "Doctor, I want to be frank with you. I'm absolutely certain there's absolutely nothing wrong with me." Dr. Vengard, "I'm sure you'll feel differently when you leave this office."

Jones, "Now, you're the best salesman in the business. There's nothing wrong with your marriage. You just have to resell it once in a while."

Larry Baker, "Not so easy." Jones, "Well, who said it was? Was it easy to sell hail insurance in southern California? Just find the right slant. A new one." Larry, "Selling marriage with a new slant, huh?"

Alexander Sebastian, "Anything serious?" Larry Baker, "No, she just fainted." Sebastian, "Oh, well. Women are always fainting. Any particular reason?" Larry, "No,. no. She just thought I was a genius. Then she found out I wasn't and it was too much for her."

Alexander Sebastian, "I am not gonna fight. My hands are my only livelihood, and I'm not gonna risk 'em on your maw." Larry Baker, handing Sebastian smelling salts, "Here, Mozart. Wake up your little credenza."
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7/10
Drama episode from radio of "War of the Worlds"
22 September 2019
The date was Oct. 30, 1938. Europe and Asia were on the brink of war. Americans kept a wary eye on the globe, hoping and praying that the New World would escape the horrors that loomed. But that night, CBS radio broadcast a radio drama based on the H.G. Wells novel, "The War of the Worlds." It was the 17th episode of The Mercury Theatre of the Air. Most CBS stations across the country broadcast the play, beginning at 8 p.m. Eastern Time.

Orson Wells produced and directed the drama. To make it more real, the drama was punctuated by a series of fake news updates. The Mercury Theatre ran without the usual commercial interruptions. That lent a further sense of reality to the broadcast. CBS announced the play and format in advance, and told the radio audience what to expect. But, later listeners tuned into the CBS stations after the play had begun. They had no way of knowing that the news flashes were not real, but part of the play. And in areas of the U.S. Northeast, panic ensued among a small portion of the public, who thought the earth had been invaded by Martians.

While the breadth of public panic, which was mostly in New Jersey and New York, has been disputed, the criticism and outcry of the press afterwards was widespread. And, the one undisputed result of the event was the skyrocketing of Orson Wells as an actor and broadcaster.

This 1957 television movie is a story of that famous night in 1938. It recreates the broadcast as it occurred, but intersperses snippets of various people who react on hearing the program. These were based on known or reported incidents involving people from that October night in 1938. One wonders if they had just waited one more night for the broadcast (Monday, Oct. 31) instead of the regular Sunday night broadcast. Would the public have thought differently about an invasion broadcast on Halloween night?

A notable aspect of this film is the inclusion of Edward R. Murrow as himself. In the early decades of the 20th century, Murrrow was the most well-known and listened to news broadcaster and commentator on radio. This is an interesting look at an event in broadcast history that many movie viewers may find interesting well into the 21st century.
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6/10
Everyman in a light sports comedy
22 September 2019
"Angels in the Outfield" is a light sports comedy and faith fantasy that has Paul Douglas as the new manager of the major league Pittsburgh Pirates, Aloysius X. 'Guffy' McGovern. Baseball managers of the day were known to speak vocabularies punctuated with any number of expletives, especially during games. The film stops just short of such language, but one gets the message by McGovern's persona in the opening.

The Pirates have been on a slump, and under the new manager things begin to change slowly. This is due, in part, to a woman reporter who begins to cover baseball games. Janet Leigh's Jennifer Paige gets the assignment after a tip that a young girl from one of the Catholic schools in the city saw angels on the field during one of the games. McGovern never gets to see the angels, but in time he can talk with them. All of this is meant to change the hard-nosed, gruffy McGovern.

Toward the end, romance seems to be in the air for McGovern and Paige. That is a bit of a stretch with the huge difference in ages and McGovern's rugged physical appearance. Still, in times past, it was common for older men and younger women to marry. And, this is an everyman story.

The story is nice, with light humor in places. Otherwise, it isn't an overly compelling plot. A number of well-known supporting actors contribute to the story. Among them are Keenan Wynn, Lewis Stone, Spring Byington, Bruce Bennett and Marvin Kaplan.

While not of the stature of the more handsome leading men of the time, Paul Douglas was a very good actor. He played a variety of roles, with equal ability - whether comedy, drama or mystery. Douglas was more of the everyman that audiences could then - and can yet, identify with. Hits at the box office were common for the handsome MGM players of the day. But, with stars like Douglas, it depended more on the story, quality of the film, and even moods in the culture at the time. Douglas died eight years after this film was made, at age 52.
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Bloodmoney (2010)
7/10
A gritty look at one business field in the realm of women's health care
19 September 2019
What does health care for women mean? When does it begin... and end? Is it just physical health? Does it include psychological or emotional health? Should it include these? Should unborn girls count?

Women are obviously divided on these questions, as they are on the matter of abortion. This documentary looks at one side of the abortion issue, and specifically one aspect of it. That is the business and marketing of abortion. This film should lead one to ponder the above questions and consider this issue seriously.

So, does any entity truly represent women? Or women's health care? Who, if anyone, truly cares about women and women's health?
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7/10
Good Disney film for the family
17 September 2019
"Babes in Toyland" has been a popular story for the stage and film, since the original 1903 operetta by Victor Herbert. This fairy-tale story has many of the characters from the Mother Goose nursery rhymes. One can't help but note similarities in the story with "The Wizard of Oz." That had been based on a 1900 book by L. Frank Baum, and produced as a lavish and highly successful Broadway musical. This was way before the great MGM musical of 1939. The Oz producer, Fred Hamlin, and director Julian Mitchell, then took on Herbert's operatta, and urged him to help with the stage production.

There are some striking similarities in the stories. They each have a villain (a wicked witch in Oz and a ruthless, scheming cad in Babes). And, both have a savior figure (the Wizard in Oz and the Toymaker in Babes).

The staged musical of Babes was a huge success, and other periodic productions were made, as well as a string of films for cinema and TV. Most of these had various revisions in the story. The best known and most popular film is the 1934 version that stars the comedy team of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. They are fumbling oafs that provide much of the comedy. The 1934 MGM film was renamed "March of the Wooden Soldiers."

The original movie substantially changed the story. This 1960 Disney film is a very good family edition that more closely follows the original play. The young leads in this film were part of the pool of young people for Walt Disney's modern-day family films. Tommy Sands plays Tom Piper and Annette Funicello plays Mary Quite Contrary. But the top billing and lead part for this film is the villain, Barnaby Barnicle, played very well by Ray Bolger. If one looks closely, the lean, bony face of the Scarecrow from "The Wizard of Oz" can be seen through Barrnaby's makeup.

This film combines fairy tale characters and magic with a story that the whole family should enjoy. While the movie contains some of Herbert's more popular songs, the best aspect of the musical nature of the film is in the dancing and choreography of several scenes.
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The Ritz (1976)
4/10
Very little humor in this Ritz hotel from the past
16 September 2019
"The Ritz" is a comedy based on a successful Broadway play of the same name. One can imagine this story acted live on the stage, and how funny much of it may have seemed. Unfortunately, this is one of those instances when a film made from a stage play just doesn't have the same effect. Most of the efforts at humor here seem forced or blatantly contrived situations which defuse the comedy.

The setting had some potential for much humor - a hotel and entertainment spot for gays in the Big Apple. There is no actual nudity. Nor is there very much real comedy. There isn't any witty or outrageous dialog that might cause laughter. And most of the scenes that probably were intended for humor come across quite lame. It might have been different in 1976, but well into the 21st century, this film is mostly a bust for humor.

Jack Weston's Gaetano Proclo stumbles around the Ritz mostly with his mouth open and with a dumb look on his face. Rita Moreno's Googie Gomez overacts wildly. It may have been intended that way, but instead of generating any humor, it tends to tediousness and puts one off.

Jerry Stiller's Carmine Vespucci is the lone laughter character. But there's just a small amount of film time for him and the funny situations that surround his character. This isn't good a comedy, as it was promoted to be. It is definitely dated, and probably wasn't very funny even in its day.
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Pretty Baby (1950)
6/10
A doll can get a subway seat, but that's the best of the comedy here
16 September 2019
Six stars may be pushing it a bit in the rating of this film. "Pretty Baby" has a clever plot device - the use of the female lead, Patsy Douglas, of an actual doll wrapped in a blanket to give the impression she has a baby. This is to get her a seat on the subway system.

This is 1950, so women have been "liberated" and male chauvinism is a thing of the past. Where men formerly gave up their seats to women on buses and trollies, the liberated women now fend for seats with the men. Betsy Drake's Douglas is all for the progress that has been made, but she would have preferred that some of the old manners hadn't been thrown out with women's "liberation."

The scenes with Patsy's doll baby and a few others have some comedy. But there's nothing here to evince rollicking laughter. Edmund Gwenn is very good as the grumpy Cyrus Baxter. Some may think that Gwenn is out of his usual character (i.e., his Kris Kringle from "Miracle on 34th Street"), but Gwenn was an accomplished actor who played diverse roles - including some grouchy or distasteful characters.

The other leads, Zachary Scott as Barry Holmes and Dennis Morgan as Sam Morley, are okay up to a point. But Morley's falling for Patsy just isn't believable. There's nothing in the screenplay to even give a hint of romantic inclination on Morley's part - although there is on Patsy's part initially. All of his encounters have been with a fumbling, accident-prone Patsy. He has been upset with her and even though a plot twist leads to her keeping her job, there's nothing romantic until the very end when Morley just suddenly falls for Patsy. It actually came across as a dumb, poor ending as though the writers couldn't think of anything better.

And that gets to Betsy Drake. While she made a few comedies, she had a certain innocence yet intelligence about her persona. So, one tends to like the characters she plays. But she definitely is not a laugh-inducing comedienne. Nor does she have a personal that suggests or invites romance.

As I said, it's a stretch to give this six stars, but most people should enjoy the film and may find it somewhat amusing.
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Pulp Fiction (1994)
2/10
Blood, guts and garbage talk doesn't entertain this movie buff
14 September 2019
The modern-day movie public seems entranced with the in-your-face barbaric and crude film style of Quentin Tarantino. The writer-producer-actor definitely has talent, and an imagination. But films such as this that have long-running dialogs - some sensible but mostly far-fetched, need to have a solid plot to be interesting. The plot of "Pulp Fiction" is very weak - almost pointless. And when the long stretches of cinematic street philosophy are punctuated with brutal scenes of blood and guts, I don't find much of anything entertaining.

I enjoy great mysteries, including some of the better film noir. But for the gore and guts movies to be good and have appeal, they must at least have an interesting plot and very good screenplay. "Reservoir Dogs" was such a Tarantino movie. But this plot has scenarios that bounce around in a weak screenplay. While there's a thin thread that connects some parts, others don't mesh. So, it comes across as a few short stories put together, some of which have the same characters.

An example of this is when Christopher Walken's Captain Koons tells a tall story to a young boy named Butch Coolidge. Two scenarios or so later, Butch is a full-grown boxer played by Bruce Willis. Other scenarios happen out of order, or in reverse order. This seems to be a style with Tarantino, and one that some movie critics and buffs think is a great talent. I think it's a technique meant to grab an audience where the writer can't figure out a way to do it with a straight story chronologically.

This sort of sets on end the long-standing teaching and methods of storytelling, writing, and playwrighting. And, there are a number of people who still prefer the chronological order of stories. We don't mind the use of flashbacks which are clearly identified as such. But wide changes in time or order, back and forth, from one scenario to another is confusing and says the author couldn't come up with the right ending. So, he or she used some weird techniques to make an ending superfluous. And, some of these films really don't have endings.

This film could have started or ended just about anyplace within the screenplay. Tarantino or the director just needed to shuffle the pages. It ruins what might be a good story for me. As for the acting in this film - what's so outstanding about characters spewing vulgarities back and forth, or screaming and intimidating people with foul threats in running expletives? Seems we all have a tantrum streak within us.

"Pulp Fiction" isn't an enjoyable or entertaining film. It is a look at the underworld of drugs, thugs, blood and guts. The only thing I can see that might attract such near adulation for this film is the huge and diverse cast. But I'll take any number of other types of films that can entertain with solid plots, screenplays with civility, and great acting.
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5/10
Disjointed, weak farcical plot leaves this martial arts actioner mostly flat
14 September 2019
One hopes that Kurt Russell was having fun in the making this film, because his Jack Burton character comes across as farcical. "Big Trouble in Little China" is a far-fetched story about dark magic and sorcery in an underground of China Town. The setting for the film is San Francisco's famous China Town. But most of the filming of that locale is clearly done on sound stages. The only real scenery of the Bay area is in the opening with Burton driving his 18-wheeler across the Golden Gate Bridge.

The film is supposed to be an action, magic and comedy plot. It comes across mostly as a hokey disjointed product with lots of visual effects and martial arts, but very little substance for a plot.

The screenplay is as disjointed as the plot. The film is loaded with special effects for the various magic and witchcraft scenes. The fantasy aspects lean more toward voodoo or satanic powers than magic. Russell's character almost seems out of place with the cast of Asian actors.

Besides the fantasy scenarios, the film is loaded with fighting, chases, and other action scenes. The script is lame for most of the dialog - so that many of the characters sound forced or unrehearsed. The whole film could have been made without Russell's character. And that's what gives one the impression is was intended more as a comedy and farce than as a magic or fantasy and action flick. Or, his addition was thought to be the golden carrot to sell the film.

But, the movie audience of 1986 weren't buying this one. It was a box office flop and barely covered half its budget in the U.S. A better effort to make this a clear cut farce of all the martial arts films might have done more to put this film over. As it is, there's not much to recommend.
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4/10
The best of the series was played out before this lesser and cruder sequel
14 September 2019
As most often happens with movie sequels, the writers had a hard time coming up with plot that would match the original and first sequel of "The Naked Gun." This one is about stopping a bombing at the Academy Awards doesn't provide near the possibilities of the first two films. As the writers aren't able to conjure up nearly as many humorous situations, they resort here to more crudity and crassness.

The same principal four leads and characters are here. Leslie Nielsen as Frank Drebin and George Kennedy as Captain Ed Hocken carry the film. But that's not saying much, with a far interior plot and screenplay. Only die-hard revelers of this type of comedy are likely to enjoy "Naked Gun 33 1/3."
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6/10
Sequel to The Naked Gun can't match the original for plot or humor
14 September 2019
This is the first sequel of the 1988 comedy farce with the same cast. In "Naked Gun 2½," sergeant detective lieutenant Frank Drebin must foil a plot to set back energy conservation efforts by the federal government. The oil and gas industries are behind the plot that has kidnapped the chief advisor to the president, and put a look-alike person in his place.

The original film company all return. Leslie Nielsen is Drebin and George Kennedy is his police captain, Ed Hocken. O.J. Simpson returns as Nordberg and Priscilla Presley is Jane, Drebin's former fiancé. Robert Goulet plays the villain, Quentin Hapsburg.

The mishaps, pratfalls, hijinks and antics continue in this sequel. But, as with most sequels to movies, the plot isn't as good as that of the original film. And, the writers used their best material in the original, and can't quite come up with humor to match it. Also, this one takes on a little more crassness.

Still, mature adults may find enough humor to enjoy this second in the three-film series.
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8/10
A very funny modern slapstick cops and robbers
13 September 2019
"The Naked Gun" is a hilarious adult film that is a "modern day" slapstick comedy. Not since the mid-20th century had there been a slapstick film in the ilk of those of the silent and golden ages of Hollywood. The Marx Brothers and Three Stooges were the last of such films. Some may see this as slight spoofing of the police and crime films and series that were so common into the final decades of the 20th century. But, it's not hard to imagine that someone would eventually capitalize on all the crime and mystery films and series by making a clearly slapstick comedy.

The creators of "The Naked Gun" surely saw "The Pink Panther" of 1963. That film sort of opened the door to the main police character being something of a quirky character, if not an outright buffoon. The sequels with Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau reinforced the appeal of such comedy with audiences.

This film has an extended title, "From the Files of Police Squad." That's an obvious reference to the source of the material for the film. The 1982 ABC TV series, "Police Squad" ran just six episodes. But all the half hour shows were hilarious. British TV may have led the return of such slapstick with the BBC Comedy series, "Monty Python's Flying Circus," that ran from 1969 through 1974.

There were other films that were clear spoofs of the great detectives of literary fiction and film. "Murder by Death" of 1976 spoofed all the best known and great detectives of fiction. Some comedies right after the "Police Squad" series were about police ("Police Academy" of 1984 and sequels), but none were on the level of slapstick in "The Naked Gun." Nor were any others as funny.

So, this film was not so much a satire of police forces or police and crime films. It was instead a plain, but riotously funny slapstick film about a police officer and his equally wacky cohorts and sidekicks. The cast for the film is superb, with Leslie Nielsen and George Kennedy providing the bulk of humor. The film is obviously adult, although it's rated PG-13. It borders on the edge of crass and crude in a couple of instances.

Nielsen's character, Frank Drebin, is so unique that he's a police sergeant detective lieutenant. A sergeant-lieutenant? That's an unheard-of rank in the annals of police forces and military. Drebin's scenario as an umpire in a professional baseball game must be one of the funniest sports scenes ever filmed in a movie.

This is one very funny film that most adults should enjoy. It's probably not for people who don't have much of a sense of humor or who can't laugh at everyday things in life.
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6/10
A summer of fun and learning
9 September 2019
"The Flamingo Kid" is a coming of age film that covers a single summer of Jeffrey Willis. In his job at an exclusive Long Island beach club the summer after his high school graduation, Willis sees a lifestyle that he would like to have. Taken under wing by one of the club members, Phil Brody, he sets his sights on money, getting ahead fast and success. That is as opposed to going to college and studying liberal arts among his subjects.

So, Jeffrey has a falling out with his dad over his choice. Arthur Willis is a plumber who provides well for his family. They live in Brooklyn and he has saved money for his son and daughter to have higher educations.

Jeffrey has a romance with Joyce Brody, niece of Phil and daughter of Phyllis Brody who doesn't have the same attitude as the rest of her family about mingling with club employees. The obvious translation is with anyone not of their higher class.

Something happens at the end of summer that opens Jeffrey's eyes and brings him down to earth and reality.

The cast are all good in their roles. Matt Dillon is Jeffrey, Hector Elizonda is his dad, Richard Crenna plays Phil Brody, Carole Davis is Joyce Brody, and Jessica Walter plays Phyllis. Several other actors have fine supporting roles, including some of the card-playing members of the club, and several parking attendants, cabana boys and others.

The film has a nice moral to it, and a look at class distinctions of the time and place. It also has some funny lines and poignant bits of dialog. Here are some favorite lines from the film.

Phil Brody, "I hate aspic." Phyllis Brody, "Oh, Phil, Lizzy worked all day on this dish. I read it to her from the New York Time." Phil, "I don't want anything on my plate that moves, hmmm! Right, Jeffrey?"

Phil Brody, "You ever hit by a bug going 180 miles an hour? Believe me, it's not a thrill. For you or the bug."

Phil Brody, "The point I'm making is the salesmen of the world make the money. Remember that."

Phil Brody, "See, Jeffrey my boy, God put certain people on the earth to give you money. And your responsibility in life is to go out there and take it."

Phil Brody, speaking of his father being discouraged one time, "And he sat there, and he looked at me. Do you know what he said to me? 'Phil, how many pounds of potatoes will I eat before I die?'"

Jeffrey Willis, "Dad, did you have potatoes tonight?" Arthur Willis, "Oh, yeah, boiled." Jeffrey, "How many potatoes do you think you'll eat before you die?"

Jeffrey Willis, "He says what he sees in me spells salesman." Arthur Willis, "What I see of you spells crap."

Jeffrey Willis, "Listen, pal, I'll have you know that I know jujitsu, karate, judo, and some other big words. So don't mess with me, all right?"

Arthur Willis, "I remember my father telling me there are two important things in life. He said, finding out what you do well, and finding out what makes you happy. And if God is smiling on you, they're both the same thing."
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5/10
Jerry's orderly was probably funnier back then
9 September 2019
"The Disorderly Orderly" is one of the several comedy films Jerry Lewis made after he and Dean Martin split up as a comedy team in the mid-1950s. Without Martin's straight man, Lewis did much more goofy stuff, mostly in antics. It was reminiscent of the type of slapstick and mayhem that the Three Stooges created. Only this is one character, and the running string of mishaps and goofs begin to tire after a while.

One might think that there is something about the differences in cultures of the times. For this film seemed funnier to audiences in 1964 than it does several decades later. So, the humor, or type of humor clearly is dated.

The only characters of notable roles are Nurse Maggie Higgins and Mr. Tuffington. They are played very well by Kathleen Freeman and Everett Sloane. It doesn't take much acting for Jerry Lewis to play Jerome Littlefield. He's the usual stumble-bum character of most of his film.

This isn't a bad film, but many audiences in the 21st century might find it very slow or boring.
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