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The Ed Sullivan Show: Episode #9.14 (1955)
Season 9, Episode 14
5/10
The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell
3 December 2016
In an interview about this particular show Rod Steiger said he and Gary Cooper did a scene from The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell. He added that it was the only time Cooper did a live performance and that he was very nervous about doing it. I think this comment really belongs in the trivia section, but I could not pull it up.

The Ed Sullivan show was one of the most popular shows on the new medium of Television for its entire run and exposed America to everyone from Elvis to the Rolling Stones to the Beatles. Ed Sullivan was a pioneer of this type of TV program which has disappeared from American life but made great viewing during its run.
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Zane Grey Theater: The Law and the Gun (1959)
Season 3, Episode 29
9/10
Great episode.
14 August 2015
This is one of the best episodes I have seen of this famed program. Four Stars used many of it programs to test future series it produced such as the Rifleman, Trackdown, and The Westerner.

This episode looks like it was a pilot for the ever solid Lyle Betteger. He plays a good guy here whereas he generally played nasty villains. Betteger comes off quite well as a man out to avenge the death of his wife.

Paul Carr and Michael Anasara come off well too. There are many twist and turns in this half hour episodes.

Too bad there was no series to come out it.
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The Rifleman: Honest Abe (1961)
Season 4, Episode 8
5/10
Dano as Lincoln
23 November 2013
The great and under-rated character actor Royal Dano, who played Abe Lincoln earlier in the decade in an acclaimed five part series for the TV program Omnibus, gets a chance to reprise his most famous role in this episode of the Rifleman. The hitch is that he is delusional and only believes he is Lincoln. Because he is a kind and harmless man the people of Northfork accept him as the real Lincoln even though they know he is not. However, a bullying stranger from Virginia meets Abe in the town bar and taunts into into a fight. As a result, Abe breaks the man's arm. Seeking revenge, the Southerner vows to kill Abe and goes to the McCain ranch where he confronts him. This episodes is a chance for viewers to see one of Royal's representation of Lincoln, a role he would continue to play throughout his long career. Most of the viewers of that day would have been familiar with Dano's earlier representation of Abe and would have appreciated his performance in this episode. If you are unaware of Mr. Dano's Lincoln portrayals, this episode may seem out of place today.
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7/10
Important Historical Film
21 December 2009
This is an important historical film since it was the the first all-talking feature film.

The film was made for a mere 23,000 dollars.

It grossed over a million dollars upon its release.

This film all so helped define the gangster melodramas that were to become the bread and butter of the Warner's studio in the 1930's.

The popularity of this film ended the silent era more so than its more famous part-talkie predecessor, the Jazz Singer. The film deserves its place in history and not as a mere footnote.

The only actor who might be remember today that is in it was Eugene Palette.
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Telephone Time: The Vestris (1958)
Season 3, Episode 25
7/10
This Story has nothing to do with the 1928 Vestris Disaster.
23 May 2009
This story has nothing to do with the sinking of the Vestris in 1928.

It is based on a story first told by Robert Dale Owens, a 19th century historical figure. It can be seen in the boxed set of From Behind the Veil, featuring Boris Karloff.

It is a story about deja vu. Host Dr. Frank Baxter claims that it is based on a real life story. The story does take place on "The Bark Vestris" which sails out of Plymouth. It is, however, set in the year 1828.

Karloff's role is brief and he plays both a ghostly apparition and a doctor.

The story is well acted, and written. The story is about the ship captain's wife's strange, unexplainable visions, that lead to the discovery of an event that can only be found by steering off course, according to directions left on a chalk slate by the ghost, that only she can see.
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The John Garfield Story (2003 TV Movie)
1/10
An Adoring Mythological Biography of John Garfield
6 October 2007
This is an adoring, mythological biography of John Garfield that offers little insight into the real man, his psychological complexities or his turbulent personal and political relationships that led to his downfall and his death. For example, one of its standard boilerplate story lines is that Warner's misused Garfield. This same tired story-line is used over and over in biographies of Bogart, Cagney, Davis, Robinson, Muni, Flynn, and dozen of other actors who worked for Warners. There is nothing original or insightful into these old half-truths.

The fact is that actors are not necessarily the best judge of the materials they should be in. The fact is that the Warners did necessarily misuse its actors. Proof that Warners was not out of touch is that it managed to make a wealth of memorable classic films in the 1930's and 1940's, starring these so-called misused actors. If one accepts the story line, then one must presume that the studio made these films by accident.

Often the point of using this trite story line in a biography is to make the actor a proletarian victim of the more powerful capitalistic forces in the studio and therefore, someone who does not have control over his destiny, or his fate, or who is not responsible for the decisions that he or she makes. That would seem to be the case in this simplified love poem to Julie Garfield.

In this documentary, one does not get the real story of why Garfield lost his prize role in Golden Boy to Luther Alder, but instead a sugar coated one. The real story is much more interesting and pivotal in the career of Garfield, and had it been told would have made an much more interesting and meaningful biography. It would, however, have exposed much of what was covered-up in this documentary, and have undermined the final verdict of it, namely, John Garfield was a victim.

The outright deceits of this documentary are too numerous to comment upon here, especially those of James Cromwell, who appears as a snotty self-appointed expert on a subject that is obviously miles over his head, nor does it bring up the fact that John Garfield perjured himself when he testified before the House Committee, and that is why he found himself in the deep muddy. His egregious perjuries had little to do with his alleged refusal to name names. Of course, these factoids would undermine the mythologizing that this documentary sets out to achieve.
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Cheyenne: The Argonauts (1955)
Season 1, Episode 3
5/10
Treasure of Sierra Madre retelling
29 November 2006
This episode is basically a retelling of the classic movie The Treasure of the Sierra Madre with big Clint in the role Walter Houston made famous. It is an examination of the effects that Greed has on one of the individuals of a party of Gold Seekers. There is an interesting appearance by Rod Taylor in the Tim Holt role. Long time character actor Edward Andrews gamely attempts the frothing Bogie role. It is somewhat quaint to see this smaller scale version of one of Warner's classic movies, but that was in keeping with Cheyenne which attempted to give a big movie look to the small screen. Cheyenne's side kick Smitty, played by a youthful L. Q. Jones is conspicuously absent in this episode. Story with a moral. Names have been changed to protect the innocent.
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9/10
Goldwyn's Swan song, Gershwin's Shame.
25 August 2006
It is a shame that the Gershwin family and Goldwyn Estate has pulled this great movie from the viewing, thereby depriving the public from seeing some of the most wonderful actors and performances ever packed into one motion picture.

It is also true that the singing voices for Sidney Poitier and Dorothy Dandridge were dubbed for this movie, and that is used as one of the reasons that the Gershwin's do not want this movie ever released again.

For in spite the flaws in the movie and the creative differences between the Gershwins and the Goldwyns, this film has some of the most remarkable performances ever committed to the screen. Sammy Davis, Jr. and Pearl Bailey are especially deserving praise.

This film was the great independent producer Samuel Golwyn's swan song. It was also ironically, the Gershwin's greatest shame.

Finally, it is a loss to the wonderful black actors who appeared in it. For we can no longer see them at their best.
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Mamba (1930)
5/10
A Lost Landmark Production
25 July 2006
Mostly forgotten today, Mamba was a sort of landmark in its day. It was one of the most bold films that the smaller studios, the so-called Poverty rows, ever made. It was a joint project of Tiffany and Color Art Productions. It had ornate costumes, realistic and spectacle sets, and claimed that it was the "First All Technicolor Drama."

Mamba didn't just have a scene or two colored, as did Dixiana, Rio Rita, Broadway Melody or the Great Gabbo. Money poor Mamba was more ambitious than those films. Mamba was filmed in 2-strip Technicolor from beginning to end. It may well have been the first sound feature to have had such a grand treatment. When the film opened at the Gaiety Theatre in New York, it caused a sensation, breaking the two-week box office at the theater.

Apparently, the color was outstanding with lush greens and excellent flesh tones. Overwhelmed by its Technicolor effects, the critics of the day gave the movie and its stars excellent reviews, pointing out how the film appealed to both men and women alike because of its Jungle theme and the beauty and the beast aspect of the romance.

According to the director, Albert Rogell, while in production Mamba kept running out of money. In order to fool, the creditors, the production kept two sets of identical costumes available so that the cast and crew could keep working on the production.

While this cash poor production may have been a grand success in 1930, Father Time has finally collected the bill on this historic landmark film. It exists today only in fragments. Too bad an identical master copy wasn't keep in the vaults.
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9/10
A Full Throttle Tornado.
25 July 2006
Texas Tornado was one of a series of films Frankie Darro and Tom Tyler made for the Film Bookings Offices in the last years of the Roaring Twenties. In all, they made 26 films together between 1925 and 1929. Sadly, most of these films have been lost or destroyed. In these movies, Frankie was often seen galloping full speed atop his fierce Shetland pony with his small dog Beans racing as quickly along side the pony. Both Frankie and Tom were remarkable stunt men. It is said that Frankie idolized strongman Tom, and the two worked well together on screen in these popular films.

Texas Tornado is one of the few FBO films available for viewing. The existing footage was found in Europe. The film may have about 10 minutes or so missing, but those missing parts don't really distract from the story.

Texas Tornado moves from beginning to end like a full throttle Tornado. There are hardly any pauses in the action that builds up to its inevitable conclusion. This film has some terrific action, horse riding, and fierce fist fighting as Tom and ten year old Frankie out-ride, outrace and outfight the outlaws who are after oil found on the Briscoe-Martin lands. There are some remarkable stunts, especially the one the two do on a high wire. Frankie was a member of the Flying Johnsons, an aerialist act. Tom was a record setting champion weight lifter as well as a fantastic rider, and stuntman. These fantastic skills help bring this film together to make it enjoyable to watch despite the unfortunate condition of the print.
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The Thirteen (1937)
5/10
Trinadsat vs. Sahara
22 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
The plot of Trinadsat is also the basis of Bogart's 1943 Tank movie, Sahara. Both films are similar to John Ford's 1934 Lost Patrol about a group of British soldiers who defend an oasis from Arab attackers. Even Ford's film was a remake of earlier version of the Lost Patrol that starred Victor McLaglen's younger brother Cyril. BATAAN (1943), starring Robert Taylor, is a similar film. One should note that Philip MacDonald's novel Patrol is listed as the inspiration of many of these films.

This version is about 11 Soviet soldiers and 2 Soviet civilians who are crossing a desert on horse in Central Asia. Like in Sahara, they encounter hostiles (White Russians) and take refuge in ruin with an almost dry well. Although clearly inferior in number, they decide to make a stand against the hostiles in the same fashion as Bogie in Sahara, water for guns. Like John Ford's Lost Patrol, a patrol comes upon the lone survivor almost dead from thirst. Unlike Ford's, the patrol makes the final attack on the hostiles. Since this is a Soviet propaganda film, the message is that the collective transcends the individual. This is shown as each inalterable Soviet hero replaces the dead one before him.
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2/10
The Sorrows of Joyless Street
15 July 2006
The Sorrows of "The Joyless Street"

Director Georg Wilhelm Pabst's "The Joyless Street" is one of the most censored and mutilated films in history. The film premier on May 18, 1925 in Berlin. The film was a sensation and launched the new reality movement in German film-making.

The film was based on Hugo Bettauer's 1924 serialized novel. The film version would propel Greta Garbo to international fame.

Bettauer would never see the premier of the film based on his novel. On March 26, 1925, Beattauer was dead. Otto Rothstock, a national socialist thug, had shot him to death. Bettauer had ironically written a highly controversial dystopian satirical novel, called "A City Without Jews, A Novel About The Day After Tomorrow." The novel was about the expulsion of the Jews from Austria. Had he lived, Bettauer would have seen his fictitious world become a prophetic reality in 1938.

The original version of "The Joyless Street" was a dark study of life in hyper-inflation Vienna in the wake of the Great War. It was about poverty and despair in a defeated country. In the original film, as in the book, Pabst set out to tell the story how inflation destroyed the sundry spectra of society and led to people to live lives of impoverishment, desperation and despair. Pabst would tell his story through the lives of two main characters, Marie and Greta. Nielson would play Marie, a poverty stricken character with a brutal and cruel father who would prostitute herself for the man she loves but who despises her. Garbo would play Greta, the daughter of a foolish and sickly middle class bureaucrat, would would resist the temptation of easy money and prostitution.

The film shocked European governments. England banned the film from public viewing. Italy, France, Austria and elsewhere would show the film only after it had been considerably mutilated.

Americans thought that the only value of the film was the presence of Greta Garbo. Curiously, Garbo was paid in American dollars rather than worthless German ones.

As a result, most of the available versions of this film were cut to make the international sensation Great Garbo the star the film over the top billed Asta Nielson, who played a woman driven to murder.

Over the years, Nielson's leading part in the film will almost entirely vanish like the Jews in Bettauer's novel.

Garbo was the second lead to the once legendary Asta Nielson.

Most of the story line involving Asta Nielson's character Maria Lechner was cut out of the film.

Most of the story line involving Warner Krauss' abhorrent butcher of Melchoir Street was cut out of the film.

Other story lines, involving other characters, were cut out or toned down.

International censorship removed these segments long ago. They were deemed too controversial and too dangerously political.

When the film was released in America in 1927, Asta Nielson's character was edited out except for a brief part at the beginning.

In 1937, this version was re-released with synchronized music and sound effects. It is this terrible version people have most likely seen.

The result of this censorious butchery a sappy happy Hollywood like ending where an American saves Greta from a life of hunger, misery and prostitution replaced the human tragedy that Pabst was intent on showing in "The Joyless Street".

Rumors persist that Marlene Dietrich had a part in this film. There is no evidence that she ever had a role in this film.

The German actress Herta Von Walther played the part of the woman in Butcher's line who comforts Greta when she collapsed. In the original version, Herta had a bigger part that involved prostituting herself to the Butcher.

Herta Von Walther is forgotten today, but she made four films with director Georg Wilhelm Pabst between the years 1925 and 1928. The four are "The Joyless Street", "Secrets of a Soul", "The Love of Jeanne Ney", "Abwege".

There is no record of director Georg Wilhelm Pabst having ever made any films with Marlene Dietrich. Still the rumors persist.

In 1999, the Munich Filmmuseum partially restored this this film. A 16 mm reduction positive exists in the museum.

Today, the film is mostly remembered as the last European role the timorous, timid Greta Garbo played before coming to America with her mentor Maurice Stiller. In the January 1932 edition of Photoplay magazine, Ruth Biery wrote, "Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer paid her $250 a week to secure him for the movies. It is hard to say, "The Joyless Street" is a good or poor picture in its mutilated form but it did not harm Greta Garbo.
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10/10
Very Powerful Indictment of Nazi Regime
29 December 2005
With the nation of the verge of entering World War II, 20th Century-Fox head, Darryl Zanuck set out to make a series of films to keep Americans up to date on the rapidly changing shape of Europe. The Man I Married was one of those many films. The film was about the rise of Nazism in Germany and the devastating effects it would have on the relationship between Carol Hoffman, played splendidly by Joan Bennett, and her German-American husband, Eric Hoffman, played by Francis Lederer. The story involved their family visit in 1938 to Eric's homeland, where Eric comes to embrace the Nazi regime while his wife becomes horrified by it. This is a powerful film. It was highlighted by the inter-cutting of period news footage that showed the bigotry and brutality of the Nazi regime and Hitler's ugly brand of anti-Semitism. The insight this film shows is all the more remarkable when one considers that it was made before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. It is most unfortunate that this film is not better known or on DVD. UPDATE: Now on DVD.
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Below (2002)
1/10
big boo about nothing
31 May 2005
This film tries to be too many things. It is a ghost story wrapped in a mystery that is hampered with weak characters and vulgar clichés. The crude dialogue is neither witty nor entertaining. Stupid is a more apt description. The fact that the characters are not developed doesn't help the story line. A deus ex ma china device in the form of a ghost is used to resolve the mystery elements of the story. The movie also fails as a ghost story. With the exception of one scene that could have been borrowed from The House on Haunted Hill, the movie fails to induce fear in the audience. More could be said about the series of events where the good become the bad, and the bad become the good but that would invoke a spoiler disclaimer. The final resolution is so hackneyed it's beneath comment but has been used over and over in films and was telegraphed from the moment the guilty party was revealed. In the end, it is a big boo about nothing.
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The Lone Ranger (1949–1957)
One of the Grandfathers of Network Westerns.
23 May 2005
The Lone Ranger appeared on the ABC network on September 15, 1949 in the first of a three part episode that told the history of the famous masked man of the West.

Along with William Boyd's Hopalong Cassidy TV series, which was first telecast on NBC on June 24, 1949, it was among the earliest TV western series. Hopalong Cassidy actually debuted in 1948, when Boyd syndicated his films to NBC. (In 1947, Boyd had bought to the rights to his Hoppy films.)

Fran Stiker and George W. Trendle created the Lone Ranger as a local radio program in 1933. It quickly went nationwide and was the cornerstone of the old Mutual Radio network. Ironically, Hopalong Cassidy was also a Mutual radio program.

When The Lone Ranger was brought to TV in 1949, many of the radio plays were adapted to the younger medium. As a consequence, many of the earliest episodes show their radio origins with the use of a narrator who links the different scenes together. The Lone Ranger was the biggest hit on the new ABC network in its early years.

The first three episodes told the the familiar story of how the Lone Ranger came to be, his connection to Tonto, and the origins of his prize horse Silver. Glenn Strange played the villain Butch Cavandish in these episodes.

The Lone Ranger was also one of the earliest shows to film mostly outdoors. Starting in 1956, the Wrather Company began filming the program in color.

The Cisco Kid, starring Duncan Renaldo and Leo Carrillo had been filmed in color since its first aired in 1950. Jack Wrather, however, was more concerned about the competition to his kid's show from the new adult westerns that had began to appear on TV.

When the Lone Ranger appeared, The New York Times critic Jack Gould ripped the show, as "just another Western, and not a notably good one at that." Gould considered the first three episodes manipulative, mostly because of the cliffhanger endings of the first two episodes. The New York Times writer accused everyone associated with the program of keeping children "emotionally hopped upped." As a result of his criticisms, the cliffhanger type endings were never used after the first two episodes. Gould, however, had been suffering from a misunderstanding. The show had never intended to be broadcast as a serial despite the serial background of its star Clayton Moore.

In 1952, B-film actor John Hart replaced Clayton Moore. Moore had threatened to quit after 1950. He was being paid only $500 an episode for his hit show, and wanted a substantial raise. Audiences rejected Hart in the role, and after 36 episodes Moore was back atop Silver.

The Lone Ranger was the first Western Hit on TV.

The series was filmed in both Utah and in California.
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Bombardier (1943)
5/10
Richard Martin as Chito Rafferty
21 April 2005
Richard Martin first played Chito Rafferty in this movie World War 2 movie. He would go on to play that same character 32 times, mostly in Tim Holt Westerns, but he did play it twice along side Robert Mitchem in Nevada and West of the Pecos. The Chito Rafferty character also appeared alongside James Warren in Wanderer of the Wasteland. One wonders how a character that first appeared in a modern war flick ended up being a longtime sidekick in Westerns. Interestingly, the second time Martin played his famous character was not with Tim Holt, but with Robert Mitchum in Nevada. It would not be until 1947, that the Rafferty character appeared alongside cowboy star Tim Holt in Wild Horse Mesa.
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1/10
Big budget bloated bore.
29 September 2004
Boring, talkative movie, too long, over-acted movie with dull camera work about a wounded, but dull Hemingway-like writer yakking away in an African plain, remembering his dead first wife, while fighting off death.

Half way through you are yelling, "Die Already." When the Hyena shows up, you are hoping that the beast eats the bore.

Nobody shines in this movie.

Peck is awful.

Gardner's character is a cliché.

Hayward isn't even interesting.

King's direction is stuck in the mud.

Big budget bloated bore.
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7/10
one of the most exciting and novel chase scene ever put on film
8 July 2004
Mountain Justice was Ken's first all-talking film. Sometimes this film is described as showing Ken as a singing cowboy, but he plays neither a cowboy nor does he sing in it.

It was made in 1930 while he was at Universal. It is not a typical Ken Maynard film. It is not a Western nor does it have his famous horse Tarzan.

It is a hillbilly film. There used to be lots of hillbilly films, the most famous being Trail of the Lonesome Pine with Henry Fonda and Fred MacMurray.

There is an authenticity to this film that many Hillbilly movies fail to capture.

In Mountain Justice, Ken plays a man in search of his father's killer. In order to do this he journeys into the Kentucky hills where strangers are looked upon with suspicion. The McTavish Klan has made a truce in their long running feud with the Harlan Klan. Since Ken plays a McTavish, he tries to hide his true identity and pretends to be a deaf fiddle player. There is a effective sense of menace and violence in this film, although there no one is killed in it.

Once one gets over the shock of not seeing Ken in a Western, this film is quite interesting. There are a number of good scenes in it, as well as an authentic Hillbilly Jug band.

Whatever failings this film might have for modern viewers may be redeemed by one of the most exciting and novel chase scene ever put on film where Ken pulls out all the stops riding on a buckboard, two horses, jumping on a train.

Paul Hurst is quite effective as illiterate Lem Harland who early on catches onto Ken's game, and causes Ken all kinds of trouble.

There are a number of authentic mountain songs in this film, but they are not forced as you would see in the singing cowboy movies that would come later. Instead they are shown as part of the daily lives of people who make up the Mountain community of Kettle Creek Kentucky.
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7/10
A enjoyable Ken Maynard film
9 June 2004
Made in 1933 while cowboy star Ken Maynard was under contract at Universal, this film has better production values than some of his other sound films. For those curious about Maynard and his famous horse Tarzan, this is really a great, enjoyable and unusual Western. This is not really a shot 'em up Western. There is plenty of action, however, in this story of how a Wild Strawberry Roan comes to be tamed.

If you know the famous song, you know the plot of this film. In fact, part of the plot involves a fictionalized account of how the catchy song came to be. Ken displays his limited but real cowboy-like singing abilities. Maynard is sometimes credited as the first singing cowboy in the movies, although Gary Cooper sang a tune in the 1929 Virginian.

Tarzan also shows why he became the famous horse he once was, and has some

memorable and exciting scenes. Tarzan does not play the Strawberry Roan as he is Ken's horse and the Roan is a Wild Horse.
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The Edge of Night (1956–1984)
10/10
An Interesting Fact
31 May 2004
An interesting fact about this show is that it had its origins in the Perry Mason radio show before it was a TV show.

The radio show ran from 1943 to 1955, five days a week, on the CBS radio network.

It was part soap opera and part detective story.

When the radio show moved, with most of the cast and the production staff, to TV, it was renamed Edge of Night.

The cast members were given new character names.

The Perry Mason character was dropped. On September 21, 1957, CBS aired a new show, Perry Mason, starring Raymond Burr.
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7/10
Enjoyable
31 May 2004
This is an enjoyable programmer from Lippert's Action Pictures with a nice interplay between the lovely Joan Woodbury and Bob Steele. Steele plays a Mountie who is unwillingly assigned to lead Woodbury to a remote region in the Canadian Woodlands. Woodbury's feisty character all but steals this film from action star Steele. She looks great on horseback.

There is nothing serious here, just plenty of action, and nice interplay between the two principles. Troubled silent screen star Madge Bellamy, who had starred in Fox's first ever talkie, Mother Knows Best, makes her final screen appearance as the mistreated wife of one of the bad guys.

The video I saw could have been much better. The two-strip Cinecolor was washed, and the images were not as clear as one would like, but these defects in no way took away from the enjoyable factor.
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Joshua (1976)
2/10
What a waste!
30 May 2004
Warning: Spoilers
********SPOILER************

Fred Williamson's Joshua is your basic Vengeance themed Spaghetti Western. This one is about a black civil war veteran who returns home to find his mother has been murdered by a gang of white thugs. He sets out to track them and extract his vengeance. Although it is well-mounted and beautifully photographed, the film is lacking in about every other respect. It is basically without plot with no twists or turns other than the obligatory hero gets shot and recovers scene. There is little character developed, almost no dialog, a couple scenes that make absolutely no sense and that do not advance the story in any way. There is no intimacy in this film with any of the characters. Isela Vega plays a farmer's wife whom the gang kidnaps and repeatedly rapes. By the end of the movie she has developed an unexplained and unexamined relationship with the head of the Gang. The fetching beauty is totally wasted in this movie in a thankless role.

This is a cynically scripted film that asks very little of the viewer other than to watch Mr. Williamson awkwardly ride a horse across the countryside. Ken Maynard, he is not.

One feels that had Williamson developed his characters and plot more he might have had something here, although the vengeance themed Western has been done ad infinitum with two much better examples being Nevada Smith with Steve McQueen, and Last Train from Gun Hill with Kirk Douglas. By the end of this contemptuous movie, the viewer doesn't really care about any of it.
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9/10
Great Satire of the Spaghetti and Matzo-ball Westerns
30 May 2004
Leonard Maltin gave this film a dreaded BOMB rating in his 1995 Movie and Video Guide. What film was he looking at? Kid Vengeance or God's Gun are bombs. This film is a delight. It is fantastic. It is literate. It is well mounted. It is beautiful photographed, making a brilliant use of colors. Right from the opening scene the film grabs your attention and tips you off that this film is a well-done satire of the whole Spaghetti Western genre. The film is played for laughs from the beginning to the end with homages to Douglas Fairbanks, 77 Sunset Strip, and the famous showdown in the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Edd Byrnes, George Hilton, and Gilbert Roland work brilliantly together to make the satire work. It is too bad Mr. Maltin rated this film so poorly as it is undeserved. One can only guess as to his reason. I suspect that he missed the point of the movie entirely and was expecting something more serious than this film is meant to be. Kudos belong to everyone involved in this project. This film is a little gem waiting to be discovered by people who care about literate movies and appreciate satire.
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