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1/10
I can only assume that a lot of drugs were involve when it comes to this vanity project.
14 August 2020
The Beatles were a sensation when it came to music. They had hit after hit and when they changed styles, the fans followed...and they had more hits. In so many ways, they could do no wrong when it came to music. However, when it came to their creation, 'Apple', well, they could do plenty of wrong! First, they opened a clothing boutique....which folded within about a year. Second, also under the Apple umbrella, they created a record company...which soon folded. Third, they also created Apple Films...which only financed a small number of films which lost a lot of money. In essence, their entities under Apple was all huge money-hemorrhaging projects.

I mention all this about Apple because the film "Son of Dracula" was a project by Apple...and it was so bad it sat on a shelf for a year and a half before ultimately being released...and failing miserably. Why? Well, the film seemed to be a bizarre vanity project more than anything else...one which makes you wonder what they were thinking when they made it. Could it be that a lot of drugs or alcohol was involved? Or, perhaps, just egos? All I know is that as I watched, I was shocked at how unprofessional and bad the film was....something you just need to see to believe.

In the opening scene, Dracula is killed. Soon, Merlin (Ringo Starr) and a friend arrive....and are at least happy that Dracula's pregnant wife survived the attack. Skip ahead a hundred years and the son, Count Downe (Harry Nilsson) is a rock and roll star and vampire! And, Merlin keeps mentioning some nonsense about needing to crown Downe as the King of the Underworld...'when the stars are right'.

So is it any good? Nope. It stinks. The music, while great for Nilsson fans, doesn't fit in the least. What also doesn't fit is seeing Ringo running about in a fake wig and Merlin costume which looks like it came from a cheap Halloween store. Why put Merlin into this mess? And, why have Nilsson sing again and again?! Overall, I think the film is best as a film to show your friends so you can all laugh at it and enjoy its ineptitude...much like if you watch "The Room" or "Plan 9 From Outer Space"!

The film is so bad, it's a contender for the Worst Films of the 1970s list, if you decided to create one.
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6/10
Will he be convicted for murder or for just being a bad husband?
14 August 2020
Had "The Last Man to Hang" not ending on an incredibly improbable and unnecessary twist, I probably would have given it an 8. It was well acted, realistic an very well written. But, with the twist ending, I think it dropped the film to an overall score of 6.

Roderick (Tom Conway) is married to a difficult and neurotic wife. Possibly as a result, he began an affair with another woman. The wife, when told later he wanted a divorce, behaved quite emotionally and irrationally...more so than would be usual in a case like this. Soon after, she is dead from an apparent overdose of a strong sleeping pill....and the husband is being charged for it, as he admits having given her a dose of sleeping pills. While he does not in any way deny this, he does deny that he knew she'd already been given a dose. In other words, he contends he never tried to kill her. It's a case of he says/she says and the film shows not just the events leading up to the trial but the trial and jury deliberations....as well as a completely unnecessary ending that was cool but wasn't logical...leaving MANY questions unanswered...too many to be an ending anyone could enjoy.

Up until the ending, I loved the film. Why, then, come up with such a ridiculous twist which actually contracts much of the film...or at least needs a lot of explaining...which you never got in the movie! Frustrating...especially when the rest of the production was so strong.

By the way, she film showed something that confused me and is perhaps a way that British and American juries differ. In one scene, before the case was handed to the jury to decide, they show the jurors in a room discussing the case and what they thought about Roderick's apparent guilt. If such a meeting and conversations occurred in an American trial, it would be grounds for a mistrial, as jurors are NOT allowed to discuss the case until the defense and prosecution have concluded. It is possible the American and British systems are the same and an editing error placed this scene in the wrong place....instead of about 10 minutes later. I just don't know.
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7/10
His just desserts.
13 August 2020
The story of "Le Puits Fantastique" is a variation of the beginning of "Beauty and the Beast". An old beggar woman tries to get some coins from a man standing outside a well. But instead of helping her, he kicks her and sends her on her way. But in reality, she is a witch and for his nastiness, she curses his well. Then, the well begins to behave VERY strangely...even for a Georges Méliès film!

Using stop-motion and a stage-like set, this film is very typical of many of the director's short films. This means it's quite fun for an early silent...the sort of thing that he did very well. Worth seeing...especially since the man did deserve all the nasty things that happened to him.
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Super Wolf (1949)
6/10
Pleasant and entertaining.
13 August 2020
In addition to the Three Stooges, Columbia Pictures also hired a lot of other comics for their short films of the 1930s-50s. In particular, they had a habit of hiring down-and-out actors well after their careers had stagnated...such as Harry Langdon, Charley Chase and, in this case, Hugh Herbert.

The story begins at the local newspaper where Herbert works. He's 'Aunt Fanny', a Dear Abby-type advice columnist who works for a very grouchy guy...who soon fires him. The grouchy boss is shocked just a bit later when he learns that the unknown criminal genius, Dave the Drip, looks EXACTLY like Herbert. After publishing an article with Dave's photo, everyone Herbert sees thinks he's a dangerous character. So what happens when the real Dave the Drip shows up?

Having Hugh Herbert in this role was a good idea. He was a good choice to play a mousy man mistaken for a vicious criminal. The results, while far from brilliant, are pleasant and enjoyable. And, like all the Columbia shorts, you can hear a lot of sound effects that are familiar for the Stooge's shorts.
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5/10
I think a pack of gorillas would do a better job moving these people!
13 August 2020
"The Suburbanite" is a short film whose message is that moving to the suburbs isn't all it's cracked up to be. During the course of this nine minute film, you see the movers absolutely destroy everything, children getting into trouble, the family having problems keeping servants AND the mother-in-law deciding to move in with them. Surely life was better before they moved!

As I read through JoeytheBrit's review, I noticed that he was right....some of the scenes go on too long and should have been edited. Still, they crammed a lot into nine minutes! Is it hilarious? Probably for those living back in 1904, thugh today it probably isn't the sort of thing normal folks would watch unless paid to do so. I like old films, so I enjoyed it...though my taste is unique!
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6/10
Difficult to understand unless you read the IMDB summary!
13 August 2020
Back in 1908, intertitle cards were still not used very often. So, instead of a card appearing on the screen with dialog written on it, the actors are left in "The Sculptor's Nightmare" to try to convey what is happening. And, like some of the worst films of the era, there is tremendous over-emoting and gesticulating throughout the film...much more so than usual. Subtle it is NOT!

Despite all the broad acting, figuring out what is happening in the film is NOT possible unless you read the IMDB summary. I had to do this to have some semblance of an idea of what was going on in the picture! Additionally, unless you really know your history, you'll probably not know that the busts being commissioned were of the three top presidential contenders in the 1908 election...and although I am a retired history teacher, I had no idea who one of them (Charles W. Fairbanks) was.

So is it any good? Yes and no. While the acting was bad as well as the direction, the stop-motion sequence was fascinating because it was such an early example in film history. Seeing the three busts appear to make themselves out of clay was pretty impressive. Seeing them talk and move about was even more impressive....and rather clever. In fact, it's worth seeing the film just for the animation.
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6/10
This guy is having one awful day!
13 August 2020
In the 1920s, Mack Sennett's best comedians had long gone as were his glory years with Keystone Studio. However, he did continue working independently and his shorts of the 1920s were distributed by Paramount. "Clunked on the Corner" is one of these films.

The film stars Johnny Burke, Carmelita Geraghty, Vernon Dent. Johnny sells newspapers and notices that a guy standing near him on the sidewalk is the wanted man on the front page of the paper! This villain (Dent) slips away but his accomplice (Geraghty) soon bumps into Johnny and plants some valuable pearls on him, as the shop owner is suspicious. Later, she invites Johnny to her house. He thinks he's going to get lucky...she just wants to get the pearls back. Soon, he realizes he's in the thieves' hideout and when the cops soon arrive, he assumes they are members of the gang. What's next? See the film.

This is a very pleasant comedy...despite the leading man being a forgotten comic today. There's very little in it that is hilarious, but it did keep my attention and had a few funny bits. Well worth seeing if you like silent comedies.
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7/10
Who would be desperate enough to hire these idiots?!
13 August 2020
When it comes to comedy, Clark & McCullough were not exactly hilarious. Their antics were even more low-brow than Wheeler & Woolsey or the Three Stooges! This, combined with McCullough's suicide in 1936 help to explain why the pair have been all but forgotten today. And, amazingly, with "In the Devildog House" they actually meet up with someone MORE obnoxious and loud than them!!

When the story begins, a marine (Tom Kennedy) is about to ship out and says goodbye to the wife. However, she suspects he's actually just going to meet his mistress...so she calls a detective (Clark) and asks him to follow Mr. Smith. At about the same time, Mr. Smith calls a detective (McCullough...Clark's business partner) and asks him to follow Mrs. Smith!

Initially, the trail leads to the woman who MIGHT be Mr. Smith's girlfriend. She's leaving but her boss (who is Mrs. Smith's boyfriend) is there. It turns out the man owns a novelty company and he does MANY obnoxious and boorish things to Clark...and follows up each brutal trick with saying "It's all in good fun"!

After leaving this jerk, the pair head to a hotel where Mrs. Smith is waiting to see her boyfriend. Since he hasn't yet shown up, she starts fooling around with Clark. Then, at the same time, McCullough meets the husband downstairs and tells him that there's a wild party going on upstairs....and he invites him to join Mrs. Smith and Clark!

So is it any good? Well, compared to most of their films, it's actually pretty good...though this is faint praise! Most of the reason it's better is because the situation is a bit funny and I also enjoyed Clark's little asides he makes to the audience...which were kind of cute.

By the way, the film's title uses the word 'devildog'. Long ago, it was a nickname for Marines....so that's why they gave the short film this title.
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4/10
Four guys in beards.
13 August 2020
The sound quality of the print to this short on YouTube is really poor....be sure to turn up your volume!

George 'Gabby' Hayes (billed incorrectly as 'Hays' in the credits), the famous cowboy sidekick, plays a rich guy who has been kidnapped. When Clark finds out there is a reward for the bearded man's return, he dresses McCullough up as the rich guy to try to get the money. At the same time, the kidnapper dresses up like the bearded man and goes to his house to rob them. And, soon the kidnapped man arrives. What's Clark to do? Well, he dons a beard and now there are four bearded guys running about the place. If all this sounds hilarious, then you are seriously mistaken. But it is passable and mildly entertaining in a low-brow way. Not among the team's best but watchable.
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4/10
The sort of stuff the Three Stooges were doing over at Columbia
13 August 2020
Clark & McCullough are an acquired taste. In other words, they aren't very good but if you watch enough of their shorts you'll find a few that are pretty enjoyable! Their antics were much like those the Three Stooges would soon begin doing at Columbia in 1934....but more frantic and nonsensical.

When the story begins, some rich guy is having back trouble and he phones for a masseur. Unfortunately, he instead gets Bobby Clark who pretends to be a therapist. Soon, Clark & McCullough arrive at the guy's office for the massage but instead of helping him, they nearly kill him....and the rich guy ends up chasing them away from the place.

At about the same time, the man's wife is trying to organize a party and wants a professional magician to come and entertain her guests. And, once again, she ends up getting Clark who agrees to do his act...though he knows about as much about magic as he does about massages.

They arrive at the party and act, as you'd expect, rather boorish but the guests think it's all rather funny. The injured husband isn't at the party due to his bad back but after learning that Clark destroyed his tophat and jacket, he goes to investigate....and finds the pair who nearly killed him earlier that day.

The film is fast and frenetic as opposed to being particularly funny or subtle. It's all pretty lowbrow and if you like seeing them act like buffoon and annoy a rich guy, then this picture is for you. Otherwise, it's watchable but little more.
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5/10
It's just okay....not much more
13 August 2020
"Pride of the West" is an okay B-western, though MOST Hopalong Cassidy films are better than average. I think much of it is because this one is awfully short. Now it is NOT one of the edited down versions that Cassidy had edited down for television in the 1950s....but it's one that comes in at under an hour in its original form.

The story begins with Windy and Lucky (Gabby Hayes and Russell Hayden) coming back to town after the stage they were driving was robbed. In the process, Lucky was shot but not badly. The bank owner (whose money was stolen in the robbery) is angry and says he's going to bring in an outside detective to investigate. But some of the locals aren't sure if they can trust the banker nor his detective, so they send for Hoppy who investigates.

The biggest problem is that the location of the money and some of the bandits is obvious and it was brought up early in the film....meaning that there isn't a ton of suspense about this. As far as who was behind all this, well, it came as no surprise. Watchable but not among Hoppy's better films.
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7/10
A most unusual sort of Hopalong Cassidy film.
13 August 2020
The entire style of "The Frontiersmen" is very different from the other Hopalong Cassidy films I've seen. In nearly most, Hoppy shows no interest in women at all....and the romancing is usually left to other characters, like Johnny or Lucky...if there's any at all. Additionally, his films generally are about fighting, shooting and cattle rustlers...but the focus of this one is more domestic.

The story begins with Artie (Dickie Jones) acting like a total brat on the Peters ranch. He is an even bigger brat at school and he is beyond just a brat! In fact, Hoppy (Cassidy) and Windy (Gabby Hayes) are called to school to rescue the teacher...who the students have taken prisoner!! Artie and the other kids are going to be tough for the next teacher, as the nasty old prune who was taken prisoner quits after Hoppy frees her! Because Hoppy and Windy were busy with this, a local rustler and his gang are able to attack the Peters ranch and run off with many of their cattle....and he can't keep taking time off work to intervene between Artie and his teachers!

Fortunately for Artie and the other kids, the mayor's choice to become the next school teacher is not sent to the town. Instead of a mean man to intimidate the brats, they send a very pretty young teacher (Evelyn Venable) from back east. And, instantly everyone seems smitten by her...the kids AND adults alike. And, as usual, Hoppy is aloof and avoids romance with her...even though she clearly is interested. So how do the two plots converge? Watch the movie!

Seeing Dickie Jones in any western isn't all that unusual. This young boy could ride horses and act and was very popular in B-westerns as well as TV westerns. He was a regular in many of Hoot Gibson's and Gene Autry's films. He also was the voice of Disney's Pinocchio! He also played a brat rather well in this movie.

So is this any good? Yes...it's a nice change of pace seeing the usual story (in this case rustlers) take a back seat to the main story involving the school teacher and the children. Most unusual but quite enjoyable.
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Flaming Gold (1932)
6/10
Claire is a woman with a past...and Dan is the only one who doesn't know.
13 August 2020
Dan and Ben (William Boyd and Pat O'Brien) are partners and wildcatters. A wildcatter was a name given to small independent outfits where they were trying to find out in order to strike it rich. After some serious problems where they are nearly put out of business by an evil oil company, a friend of theirs offers to go into partnership with them. But Dan will need to first go to New York City to get financing. While there, he meets and falls head over heels for Claire (Mae Clark). He knows absolutely nothing about her but doesn't care...he just wants to take her out west with him when he returns to work.

What Dan doesn't know is that Claire is a woman with a past. Like so many Pre-Code films, very adult content is implied...so that the adults in the audience will put two and two together...but kids will be blissfully ignorant. At least, that was the intention of many Pre-Code films like "Flaming Gold". What is her past? I assume she was a prostitute....and I think most folks seeing the film will assume this as well.

The biggest problem with Claire's past is that Dan is ignorant of this and his partner, Ben DOES....and he obviously resents her and assumes the worst about her. Where does all this end up? Well, in a finale that seems over and done with very, very quickly...too quickly. In fact. the film and the acting are very good but since it as a cheap B-movie, it really looks like they abruptly ended the film and a good 10-15 more minutes would have allowed for a much better and satisfying ending. Still, it is enjoyable and well made in most respects.
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Nocturna (1979)
2/10
I'd possibly place this in the top 100 of the best vampire disco porno movies that I've ever seen!
12 August 2020
"Nocturna" is a disco porno vampire story that came out the same year "Love at First Bite", though despite a few similarities, no one could even confuse the two films! One is an artless mess with boobies, the other an amiable comedy.

Nocturna is the granddaughter of Count Dracula (John Carradine) and she wants to get married and settle down....an odd thing for a vampire. But grandpa is not thrilled when she tells him that she's fallen in love with a human (Antony Hamilton). Soon, she and her lover Jimmy (Hamilton) are on their way from Transylvania to New York City....with TONS of disco music along the way. What you also get is some very gratuitous skin, as it turns out this movie I found on YouTube is a soft-core porno flick...which surprised me.

This film is very bad but not 100% bad. Gloria Gaynor provides the opening song (much of the budget was spent on that one song). Additionally, very competent music by Vickie Sue Robinson and Moment of Truth make the movie sound pretty good....though dated since it's all disco.

As far as the rest of the film goes, well, it's bad. Despite having Carradine and Yvonne De Carlo in the movie, they aren't used very much and so much of the film rests on the acting (such as it is) of Nai Bonet as Nocturna. Much of the acting consists of her dancing about in various outfits as well as a hilarious nude scene where you hear her voice-over as well as that of peeping Tom, Theodore. It's so funny you have to see and hear it...and while it's supposed to be sexy, you can't help but laugh. I literally laughed out loud several times during this scene! I also laughed at the transformation scene as the vampires turned into bats....using bad 70s animation which cost about $3.75 to make! And, seeing a vampire pimp with his bevy of 'ladies'...well, that was a hoot.

Overall, this is a very low-budgeted film with terrible writing and a lot of questionable acting...and tons of disco! The only reason it even achieved a 2 is that at least when the women kept getting naked, they didn't have to act and most of the music wasn't bad at all.

By the way, as I watched, I was saddened to see Antony Hamilton...who I remember from the "Mission: Impossible" TV reboot. This incredibly handsome star and dancer died way too young due to complications from AIDS back in 1995.
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5/10
If you think about it, Hoppy really didn't achieve all that much in this one.
12 August 2020
I was surprised when I searched on YouTube for Hopalong Cassidy films. This is because in the 1950s, his films and those of many other famous B-western stars were hacked to pieces in order to get them to 54 minutes....the perfect length for a one-hour TV time slot. My surprise is that the films posted are the restored original versions in most cases...not the pared down TV ones. This is a blessing, as too many of Roy Rogers' pictures, for example, are only available now in the shortened versions.

As far as Hopalong Cassidy films go, "Bar 20 Rides Again" is a bit of a disappointment. Mostly this is because although Hoppy goes under cover to discover who the evil 'Nevada' is, this cattle rustling boss isn't really taken down by Cassidy at all. Instead, Hoppy mostly just hangs out undercover on this baddie's ranch until ultimately a posse of mad ranch hands arrive to stop Nevada once and for all. The only big plus is that in this film Cassidy meets Windy (George 'Gabby' Hayes) for the first time. Apart from this, a bit of a disappointment.
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7/10
Taking diplomatic relations into their own hands.
11 August 2020
"The Four Just Men" is a film which has two versions. Apparently, shortly after its first release WWII began and a new epilogue was stuck onto the end of the movie. There, it's shows the Nazis--the enemies of the British Empire. In the original version, the filmmakers never mentioned Germany and the enemy was of an unnamed nation. In fact, even in this newer version, the characters never talk about this either...just the epilogue.

The Four Just Men is an organization which works to preserve the British Empire against enemy nations. So, instead of letting the British government take care of this or getting its hands dirty, these four do it on behalf of the nation! In essence, these are private spies working for the nation's good. In the course of the film, they get their hands dirty often....and were not above killing enemy agents or politicians who are working against the UK.

This is mildly exciting stuff....not the best of spy films but a solid and enjoyable one. If you do want to see it, you can currently find it on YouTube.
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6/10
I found the location more interesting than the mystery.
10 August 2020
"The Girl in Black Stockings" is an unusual murder mystery, mostly because of where it was filmed. The Parry Lodge (which is still operating) in Kanab, Utah, hosted this movie shoot. It's not far from Zion National Park and is a lovely part of the country. Too bad you didn't get to see more of the countryside in this film.

The story begins with the body of a woman found at the resort. She'd been stabbed repeatedly and the filmmakers were not timid about applying blood to the 'corpse' in this scene. Because the policeman investigating (John Dehner) assumes a guest of the hotel did it, he orders everyone to stay there. And, soon, bodies start piling up! The identity of the killer is, of course, revealed at the end and it's a bit of a surprise.

Aside from the locale, I never found this film all that exciting. Now I am not saying it's bad in any way, but more of a time-passer. And, by the way, on the poster currently on IMDB, you see mostly Mamie Van Doren on it...but she's not a major character in the film. I think they were just trying to capitalize on her...um....assets.
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9/10
Passing the flame.
9 August 2020
While "The Young Doctors" is not a famous film by any standard, it is an amazingly good movie...mostly because of it's incredibly impressive cast as well as the writing. It really has held up well over time and is well worth seeing.

Speaking of cast, the film stars Frederic March, Ben Gazzara, Ina Balin, Eddie Albert, Aline MacMahon, Edward Andrews and Arthur Hill--all actors who weren't necessarily mega-stars but all amazingly solid and dependable. In other words, it's a who's who of fine character actors of the day. The only seemingly weak link, and he was actually fine here, was sticking the inexperienced Dick Clark into the film as one of the doctors.

The film is naturally set at a hospital. A relatively young but very capable doctor, Dr. Coleman (Gazzara) has just arrived for his first day of work with the pathology department. The chief pathologist, Dr. Pearson (March), obviously did not want Coleman in his department....and it soon becomes obvious this is because he's afraid this new hot-shot doctor will take over or make too many changes. And, change is definitely something Coleman brings...which brings him into a confrontation of Pearson. Along the way, a couple challenging cases are brought to them...and it's make or break for the new versus the old way of doing things.

The film simply is extremely well written and acted. Sure, it's only a hospital drama...but it's also an exceptional one. Well worth seeing and like a textbook example of fine, realistic acting and writing.
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3/10
This really could have been so much better.
9 August 2020
"Another Chance" is an odd film. On one hand, it claims to be a film about the joys of monogamy and commitment. But, on the other, the story is also unabashedly trashy and filled with sex and nudity. In other words, the film wants it BOTH ways!

John (Bruce Greenwood) is a sexaholic actor. His life seems to revolve around bedding women and he is an expert manipulator and liar. The story loses some believably when he meets Jackie (Vanessa Angel) and he suddenly is in love. You know he's in love because there is a lengthy montage...followed quickly by John jumping into bed with (or, more like yanked into bed with) a sexy woman (who might just be a demon). Not surprisingly, his dream girl, Jackie, walks in and their relationship is over. To get over this sad breakup, John quickly beds other girls. Is there any redemption or change in John before the end of this picture?

In many ways, this film is like the Blake Edwards film "Skin Deep"....but with a lot less depth....and because of this, it's a lot less interesting. While I love Bruce Greenwood (he was brilliant in the short-lived TV series, "Nowhere Man"), here he isn't given a lot to do other than look pretty and bed women. The biggest problem is that the 'relationship' with Jackie seemingly impacted on John so much only took a few minutes in the film. You see them meet and him trying to manipulate her...but the actual relationship itself seemed unimportant to show in any detail (other than that montage)...and showing WHY he cared about her (at least to the ability this character COULD love anyone) isn't really in the film. The same could be said about his fall from grace...which happened way too quickly as well. And, don't even get me started about the ultra-cheesy meeting with St. Peter near the end!!

As you can probably tell by now, I was not bowled over by this movie. While the idea was good, the execution seemed cheap and unconvincing. I cannot understand the glowing reviews I just read about this film and think the overall score (a paltry 4.6) is more like what you should expect.
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4/10
Did he or didn't he?
8 August 2020
With "The Catman of Paris", Republic Pictures takes on the horror genre--making a film which seemed like a bit of a ripoff of the RKO film "Cat People"....as well as bit of Universal's "Werewolf of London". And, like a few other horror films Republic made (such as "Valley of the Zombies"), the results are second-rate.

"The Catman of Paris" is set in Paris (or course) in 1895. Charles has returned to the city after time abroad and after following a serious illness. Soon, folks around him start dying and the police begin to suspect Charles is some sort of Catman thingie who kills. As for Charles, because he has memory lapses following his illness, he starts to suspect that he MIGHT actually be the killer. As for the truth...well, it's somewhere in the middle.

The film is watchable. But it's odd that half the actors speak with French accents, half simply don't. And, as for the story, frankly, it's a bit goofy and silly...and the makeup they use for this 'Catman' is poor. Overall, it really wasn't a very good or exciting film...and hardly one to make RKO or Universal scared of the competition.
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Borderland (1937)
7/10
Crazy like a fox!
8 August 2020
Warning: Spoilers
"Borderland" is the most unusual Hopalong Cassidy film I've seen...though I must admit I still have quite a few more of his movies to watch. In nearly all his films, Hoppy is a nice guy who is beloved by everyone. However, in this film, in order to get to the bottom of a gang, he pretends to go bad....and treats those around him like dirt.

The story begins in Mexico. Mexican officials are hosting some American officials and the Mexicans complain that they are sick of incursions into their country by an American gang lead by an unknown character referred to as 'The Fox'. So, they ask Hopalong to help find the guy...but he knows he cannot find him if everyone thinks Hoppy is a do-gooder. He then orchestrates a fight with the authorities and word is leaked he's been helping cattle rustlers! And, as friends reach out to him and try to help, he treats them horribly. The only one who seems to like him now is 'Loco'...one of the most politically incorrect characters you could imagine! How so? Well, he's a guy who is pretending to be addle-brained...but really he is....well, you can guess!

I am pretty sure William Boyd (Cassidy) liked this change of pace. After all, he's a nasty, cold jerk during much of the movie...not the usual sweet guy with a heart of gold. Playing a nice guy was lucrative...but probably a bit boring. This new Hoppy sure isn't boring!! In some ways, he reminds me of the Lighting Bill Carson films with Tim McCoy, where in order to investigate crime, Bill Carson poses as a Mexican bandit! Both portrayals are fun to watch...though I must admit that the hero pretending to go bad isn't exactly unique. Roy Rogers and Gene Autry also played similar types on rare occasions.

So is this any good? Well, yes. I liked the change of pace as well as the more leisurely pace, with a run time of 82 minutes...making it the longest Hopalong Cassidy film. Overall, one of his better efforts and a nice change of pace.
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6/10
Gabby is a bad guy?! So it ain't so, Hoppy!
8 August 2020
In the late 1940s, William Boyd (the real name for Hopalong Cassidy) made a brilliant deal. He bought the rights to all his films and edited them down in order to make a weekly TV show...one that brought tons of marketing money for Hoppy merchandise and kids of the day loved him. But what about the original unedited films? Well, Cassidy apparently kept them and these newly restored originals were recently posted to YouTube. "Call of the Prairie" is just one of many I have found on this site.

As I watched "Call of the Prairie", I felt very confused. Johnny (James Ellison) is a jerk...much more than his usual not exactly bright persona in the Hopalong Cassidy films. But if that wasn't enough, I was shocked when I saw familiar Gabby Hayes....who made many Hopalong Cassidy films...playing a villain, not the lovable coot Windy!!! In fact, it's been a long time since I ever saw Hayes play a baddie. Now I know he did in his earlier westerns...such as a few of John Wayne's B-westerns. But in those earlier westerns, he wore his teeth and played rather dapper villains. In other words, in these pictures, George Hayes isn't playing his Gabby (or Windy) persona at all. By 1936 he was a dependable lovable coot sidekick sort....and casting him as this villain was quite shocking in "Call of the Prairie"! I mean...it's hard to imagine that Gabby had gone bad!

The film begins as Hoppy arrives back at the ranch after selling his boss' stock. Now the boss has a lot of money and Johnny begs him for some. But Buck refuses, as Johnny has been gambling and hanging with jerks....and behaving like a jerk himself. After storming off, Johnny tells his ne'er do well friends about this...and they get him drunk and pump him for information. With this information, they try to rob Buck and end up beating him up in the process AND framing Johnny for it! Now everyone seems to think Johnny is more than a big dummy but also a crook! Naturally, it comes to Hoppy investigating and learning the truth.

I would imagine that many serial B-western fans would dislike "Call of the Prairie" because the trio of Boyd, Ellison and Hayes was familiar and beloved...but here the trio isn't exactly lovable. Hoppy is Hoppy, Johnny is even dumber and much more annoying than usual (he was often headstrong) and Windy (Gabby) is scum!! Of course, I could also imagine a few fans liking this as it prevented the films from all looking the same....and this certainly is a departure in style!

So is it any good in my opinion? Yes, though having Johnny behave this foolishly seems a bit limp. And, despite being a Hopalong Cassidy film, he's really just a secondary character...and Johnny is the lead. Having a weak character playing the lead isn't a great thing...especially because repeatedly Johnny make really foolish choices...even AFTER he realizes his new friends are all crooks. Not a great film but still enjoyable and worth seeing if you like old B-westerns. More Hoppy and less Johnny would have probably made for a better story.



By the way, in an interesting bit of casting, Chester Conklin was cast as a sheriff. Conklin originally gained fame by being in many Mack Sennett films...including his Keystone Kops.

And, finally, early in the film someone calls Hayes 'an old Sour Dough'. This term was used to denote that he was an old, experienced prospector...I looked it up, as I had no idea what it meant.
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5/10
Not one of the better written Hopalong Cassidy flicks.
8 August 2020
In the 1950s, many old series B-westerns were chopped down to a length that would allow them to be placed in a one-hour time slot. Because of this, it's common to find multiple versions of Roy Rogers, Gene Autry and Hopalong Cassidy films. The version of "Heart of Arizona" I saw on YouTube is the recently restored one that returns the picture to its original 68 minute run time.

The story does what MANY series westerns did back in the day...it uses the name of a real life western figure but completely fictionalizes them. In this case, early in the story, a deputy is manhandling Belle Starr following her release from prison. Hoppy witnesses this and like you'd expect, he stands up for her...decking the deputy and freeing her.

Later, after Belle arrives at her ranch, she realizes she has a problem...someone has been stealing her cattle. But how will she and Hoppy find out who's behind all this wickedness?

"Heart of Arizona" is enjoyable but not especially well written. Not only does it fictionalize Starr, but there are some serious logical problems with the script. In one case, a 9 or 10 year-old boy is given a gun and told to guard a prisoner....and this happens two different times!! The worst, however, was near the end when the sheriff is about to make an arrest on the gang who is rustling. He approaches this group of criminals alone...no backup whatsoever!! Take a WILD guess what happens next?!?! The writers just were a bit lazy in this one.
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7/10
A better than expected cast helps this one.
8 August 2020
"Hoppy Serves a Writ" is an interesting Hopalong Cassidy film because of its cast. Victor Jory, George Reeves and Robert Mitchum all star as members of a gang of crooks...though, sadly, Mitchum (in his first film) has barely a line of dialog.

This version of "Hoppy Serves a Writ" is a nice because it's 65 minutes and isn't one of those chopped down to about 54 minutes back in the 1950s. This was done to allow the film to be shown in a one hour time slot back in the day. But apparently, the excised portions of Hopalong Cassidy's films were saved and were recently restored. These nice restored prints recently showed up on YouTube...and are well worth seeing. Unlike many B cowboys, Cassidy is no pretty boy nor is her a singer...just a hard-fighting do-gooer.

The film begins with a stage coach being robbed in Texas. However, the baddies run off to the Oklahoma Territory...out of the jurisdiction of Texas authorities. So, Hoppy and his sidekicks, Johnny and California, head there and go undercover. They need to find the loot and the crooks that stole it...but it doesn't look very easy in this lawless land.

This is pretty much a standard sort of Hopalong Cassidy film...well made and enjoyable.

By the way, in one scene Hoppy has a brutal fight with Tom Jordan (Victor Jory). In real life, Jory probably would have won that one as he used to be the champion wrestler and boxer in the Coast Guard.
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7/10
If you love old B-westerns, then this one is a must!
8 August 2020
"Hop-a-Long Cassidy" is the first appearance of this western hero. In all, William Boyd made 66 of these films and they tended to be among the better B-series films of the era.

When the story begins, there's some tension between two ranchers...to the point that you know sooner or later violence is going to break out and someone's going to get killed. Into this mess arrives Hopalong who has been summoned by one of the ranchers to help deal with this situation. What no one realizes is that one of the foremen is deliberately stoking fires on both sides...and while the ranches are fighting each other, the foreman and his henchmen are rustling their cattle! Fortunately, Hoppy is NOT a guy to jump headfirst into the problem and his slow, cautious approach is bound to bring answers.

This film is quite different from films from the likes of Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. This is no singing cowboy picture and it also is a good bit more violent than most of them as well...with a hanging, plenty of shootings and more! It all makes for a very exciting and more realistic sort of B-western. And, like a B, it runs at about one hour and is relatively low-budgeted...though it does sport an amazingly good cast for such an effort.
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