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From the Hip (1987)
From The Hip very hip
It'a always been a source of fascination how a plot or a subject can be done equally well as drama or comedy. A lot of the same plot elements in Al Pacino's
And Justice For All are found in From The Hip.
Like Al Pacino, Judd Nelson is a young attorney looking to make a name for himself. He's a most junior associate at a Boston white shoe law firm and wants desperateky to be noticed. He takes on a dog of a case involving banker Edward Winter and with some dazzling courtroom theatricality, wins
Winter's case was one where he punched out someone and the man sued because of the bank's deep pockets. It was a civil matter. But Nelson's flamboyance gets him noticed. Now he gets to defend Professor John Hurt who is accused of the murder of a call girl with a claw hammer.
The DA has a flimsy case, but Hurt gives us lots of hints of guilt. He's one scary dude and Nelson realizes this is no game.
This is one well cast film and Judd Nelson getting a courtroom drama which is an actors dream shows his acting chops. He's got a nicepossr of support in girlfriend Elizabeth Perkins and lawyer associates Dan Monahan and David Alan Grier.
A nice trio of partners Nancy Marchand, Darren McGavin and Allan Arbus all react differently to Nelson. The one youill remember in From The Hip is John Hurt.
Nelson faces a most uncertain fate hen the film concludes. You'll have to see foryourself and predict his future.
The Virginian: The Final Hour (1963)
Miners to go with the mine
This final pisode from season 1 of The Virginian has Lee J. Cobb opening up a coal mine on Shiloh and importing Polish coal miners from Pennsylvania to work it. The Poles do't assimilate easily into Wyoming culture.
Cobb sends Doug McClure to supervise and help assimilate. But he becomes one od three men Polish lass Ulla Jacobsson becomes involved with. When miner Dean Fredericks kills rancher Bert Freed's son Don Galloway accidentally during a fist fightthe feud heats up.
This is a fine episode about tolerance and acceptance of people who talk different and act different from themajrity. It sadly takes another tragedy to make people come to their senses.
In addition to those mentioned in this good guest cast Jacques Aubochon plays Fredericks's father and head f the miners and Whit Bissell has a fine scene as the foreman of the coroner's jury delivering a verdict.
The episode among The Virginian regilars belongs to Doug McClure. He has some of his best moments in the history of the show at the climax.
The Australian invasion
A cattlemen vs. sheepmen range war nearly comes to Medicine Bow as an Australian sheepman arrives and has no intentionof compromising in any way
with the cattle ranchers.
Before the sheep arrive The Virginian gets into an altercation with the lout son of the sheepman John Anderson and the loutis killed. No charges are brought gainst James Drury, but that makes no difference to Anderson who is one had and mean man. It ends in the worst of tragedies for Anderson.
A lot of fine playersare in the guest cast. But not one Australian in the bunch and it does take a bit off their performances. I'm sure if this episode was run on Aussie TV the natives had a good laugh.
Daisy Miller (1974)
The Girl From Schenectady
For his first film un color Peter Bodanovich chose a most curious and arcane subject, 19th century novel by Henry James. Daisy Miller on screen is an Americaniized version of onr of those films that the Merchant-Ivory team do
so well with for British subjects.
Our title role is played by Cybill Shepherd and Daisy is a rather ingenuous girl traveling with her mother Cloris Leachman and much younger brother James McMurtry. They're over from, Schenectady where the father made big money and employed a lot of the town.
The Millers are the subject of much gossip by other expatriate Americans like Mildred Natwick and Eileen Brennan. Mainly because they don't know the ropes and Daisy scandalizes them by going out unescorted and with European men who are after American virtue and money.
Barry Brown is Natwick's nephew and an expatriate student. He's the only one who finds Shepherd intriguing, but won't break convention.
Shot on location in Switzerland and Rome the film really captures the look and feel of 19th century Europe. Daisy Miller got an Oscar nomination for costume design. It's beaitifully crafted and sad that the film did not do so well at the box office.
I guess Henry James was out of season.
The Virginian: Run Away Home (1963)
Run on the out of town bank
Lawyer Russ Conway earns his fees when he withdraws Judge Garth's money frpm
an out of town bank to the tune of $40,000.00 before a financial panic sets in and there's a run. But sheepherder Karl Swenson who got there before the bank closed figures part of that is his. He and his sons ain't taking no for an answer.
Anyway it's the problem of James Drury and Gary Clarke to get the Judge's money back to Medicine Bow and elude Swenson and his kids. Drury winds up hitching a ride on a freight train with fellow denizen of the rails Jeannne Riley. Kindly farm couple Stanford Jolley and Ann Doran give them some help.
This was a light and breezy episode and riley's free spirited character is quite captivating.
The early years
Nickelodeon must have been a labor of love for Peter Bogdanovich as both a
filmmaker and film historian. Whatever else you can say about Nickelodeon it
was certainly meticulously researched.
This film is a portrait of the early years of motion pictures. Forthose who doubt the veracity of the film you can find stories like this in the autobiography of Cecil B. DeMille. Back in the early teen years DeMille went to Californiawith his troop and made The Squaw Man against the trust who are the villains here.
His name is not mentioned, but the trust was an effort by Thomas Edison to control all aspects of film making with patents. Unfortunately while it is arguable he was the first to invent moving pictures, he was not alone. Melies in France and Friese-Greene in Great Britain were doing te same work not to mention others in the USA. Ultimately Edison lost the patent wars as portrayed here.
Lawyer Ryan O'Neal and conman Burt Reynolds become director and action star working for Brian Keith an independent producer. They also become romantic rivals for Jane Hitchcock.
Tatum O'Neal as a nicepartas a precocious adolescent with a good imagination who becomes a screenwriter. John Ritter is an early cameramanand Stella Stevens another actress.
I'm surprised at the tepid reviews that Nickelodeon got. It's a well crafted film that shows the love Peter Bogdanovich has for his profession.
The Great American Pastime (1956)
Little Leagues were fairly new
Anyone expecting Little Big Leagur or the Bad News Bears or even Moochie And The Little League will be gravely disappointed. The Great American
Pasttime is a pleasant but strictly sub par family comedy about a lawyer with
wife and son who decides to coach a Little League team. This was the 50s and
the idea of the Little League baseball teams for kids was fairly new.
Tom Ewell is our harrassed and harried protagonist with wife Anne Francis who upon hearing his son's team needs a coach volunteers. He's a lawyer and that kind of training doesn't fit you for athletics.
This was the staid 50s so the concept of sports rage hadn't taken hold. Still just about every father feels he could do a better job, but note none of them volunteer.
There's some romantic rivalry as Francis doesn't like the idea of Ewell spending time with widow Ann Miller and her son ho is one of his players. Clueless Tom makes a hash out of that.
The 50s saw many idiot fathers on the big and small screen/ Rerll was only one of them.
Bonanza: The Auld Sod (1962)
Me Dear old mother
Cheerio Meredith arrives at the Ponderosa just in time to save Hoss who has fallen
into the well. But Dan Blocker does not correct her mistaken impression nor do the other Cartwrights that it is her son James Dunn who is the owner of the
Ponderosa. She's just such a dear sweet old soul and she does do the cleaning and cooking while Hop Sing is away.
Dunn is her deadbeat drunken son who spends half his nights sleeping t off in Roy Coffee's jail. It's only up to a point that the Cartwrights play along with this charade.
Dunn's portrayal is sadly too close to his own real life and close to his Oscar winner from A Tree Grows In Brooklyn. It's a good episode and the scenes with Dunn and Meredith are precious indeed.
Tarnished Angel (1938)
The Revival Racket
Nightclub entertainers Sally Eilers, Paul Guilfoyle, and Ann Miller elude a nightclub raid and become the special project of Detective Jonathan Hale. Failing to find work they end up at a revival meeting of Earl Hodgins where Eilers is
convinced there's a better way to work this game. So the former Broadway
chorus girl becomes a regular Aimee Semple McPherson, a regular Tarnished
Of course with the Code now firmly in place there were now certain parameters that dictated how the plot would go. Our three miscreants try to be bad but can't help being good. In fact Jonathan Hale makes a career bust and his good name is restored.
The pre-Code <iracle Woman was a lot better with the same subject matter though Ann Miller has a nice dance number.
Three Cheers for the Girls (1943)
If you liked it the first time..........................
Busby Berkeley was gone, Dick Powell departed angrily from Warner Brothers because they wouldn't give him drramatic parts. But their work appears here
in this compilation short subject of their work.
Most of the film is dedicated to the shapely women who appeared in those Berkeley numbers reprised here. As befitting the wartime moments when Three Cheers For The Girls Came Out, the last number is Dick Powell's Song Of The Marines with real World War 2 combat coverage attached.
Berkeley and Powell were gone, but Warner Brothers still made some money off them.
Law & Order: Turnstile Justice (2000)
Years of neglect
Back in the 70s budgets across the board, but most definitely in New York State
started being slashed right and left in the mental health field. It started the homeless problem to a large degree. A lot, too many of our homeless are like
Ray Anthony Thompson.
Off his meds, Thompson smacked a woman witha paving stone in a subway station and killed her.
Putting Thompson in prison isn't enough. Sam Waterston takes on an HMO doctor who should have seen Thompson was properly medicated.
Would it were only so in real life.
Law & Order: Standoff (2000)
One dog of a case
I suppose that the New YorkCounty DA's ofice had to prosecute, but this case was
a dog from the start for Jack McCoy.
Two members of the Latin Kings are sabbed at Riker's Island one fatally. The investigation leads to a stone cold white supremacist type Dan Moran. But Moran says he was hired to do it by Corrections Officer Matt Mulheren who had itin for one of the victims.
When the facts become known all sympathy goes to Mulheren, especially since as defense attorney Ned Eisenberg points the Peopl's case rests solely on Moran's testimony. As for the deceased he did a monstrously terrible thing.
Some cases are DOA from the start.
Law & Order: Dissonance (2000)
Conduct unbecominga conddctor
This Law And Order episode concerns the murder of a young female violinist in the symphony orchesta conducted by Ronald Gutman who is Toscanini like in
his tastes and passions. Guttma;s wife Jenny Maxwell is also a member of the
orchestra which makes it all cozy.
Guttman's affairs have been rather public at least in the orchestra community. But we never had a homicide ove one of them.
Guttman is ably defended by George Grizzard and there is some extralegal strategy cooked up to tilt the scales of justice his way.
I'm not sure the financial shenanigans would stand up to reality though.. You'll have to see the episode to know what I'm talking about.
The Virginian: The Money Cage (1963)
Romancing the banker's daughter
Steve Forrest leads a group of grifters into MMedicine Bow working a most
elaborate con game. Part of the con has Forrest posing as an oil geologist and
another part has him romancing banker Dayton Lummis's faughter Bethel Leslie.
It's quite a scheme he's worked out even Lee J. Cobb is duped into helping the crooks out in a small way. But complications ensue n the romance department.
Virginian regulars take back seat to the guest cast here. Gary Clarke and Doug McClure get taken real good after a trip to Denver. Good thing those complications did ensue.
Burt and Liza gravitate to each other
Rent-A-Cop has Burt Reynold as the soul survivor of a massacre of narcotiics
that were killed in a drug bust gone bad. Liza Minnelli is a an escort who was the only witness and can identify the shooter.
When Liza finds Burt working store security because he was bounced off the Chicago PD on general suspicion the two gravitate to each other. She's the only one who can identify the shooter and Burt hopes to get back on the force.
This is a routine action/adventure film with Reynolds and Minnelli fitting comfortably into roles they've done before. Dionne Warick has a non-singing role as an escort booker. Too bad that with Warwick and Minnelli in the same film we do't get a single note.
Standingout are Richard Masur as a corrupt ex-cop who is Burt's friend and James Remar as a ruly deranged assassin.
Par for the course for the 80s.
Arthur 2: On the Rocks (1988)
He'd hae died
Nearly all the cast of Arthur repeated their roles in Arthur 2 On The Rocks, Te
only exception us that od Cynthia Sikes taking the place of Jill Eikenberry as tycoon Stephen Elliott's daughter who the father wants to marry Dudley Moore.
God only knos why, but Elliott envision a merger more than a marriage.
I could not believe the Bath family would leave themselves open to what Elliott does. All their money is tied up in the company, Moore has no money to call his own. Anyway when Elliott gets controlling interest of the company, Moore and Liza Minnelli get the heave ho from their rich digs.
In real life he would have died. He's not equipped in the slightest for work or survival. Even Liza Minnelli knows that.
John Gielgud as a ghost makes an appearance. It's a clumsily written and contrived scene with Moore. But half the beauty of the original Arthur was the chemistry between Moore and Gielgud on screen. So even though he dies Gielgud had to return somehow reasoned the writers.
So while this film has a few laughs it has little of the charm of the original,
Cubicle Warriors (2013)
Kudos to Canada
I wonder if the problem of crushing student loan debt is prevalent in Canada as it
is here. In any event kudos to the Canadians for Bankstas, a comic film about the
efforts of a pair of Canadian students to stop a Gordon Gekko like character from
taking the debt over and profiting from foreclosure.
Michael Seater and Joe Dinicol are the students like Charlie Sheen going to work for their own Gekko type, Alan Thicke. Thicke will wreck lives like Gekko wrecked companies because he can. He and his entitled son Brandon Firla play it broadly for comic effect.
Romantic interests for the boys are Laura Vandervoort and Grace Lynn Kung who really stands out. Her scenes trying to seduce Firla as a ruse to get him out of the way are hilarious. Firla himself as one of the entited is the last word in sexual harassment.
Student loan forgiveness as an issue that brought Bernie Sanders considerable support in the last presidential campaign. Bankstas is a moderately funny film about a most relavent topic.
Bonanza: The Tall Stranger (1962)
Heartbreak for Hoss
Unusual for a Bonanza story in that the romance comes to Dan Blocker. But like
it did in so many episodes the woman does not make it to the altar.
In this case the woman is Kathie Browne, daughter of neighbor Russell Thorsrn who has a few bucks of his own. Said bucks are what attracts con man Sean McClorywho sweeps her off her feet and Browne jilts Bloxker and marries McClory.
What a no good rat of a human being McClory is is revealed at the very end of the story. McClory and Blocker have a fine and dramatic climax scene.
One of Dan Blocker's best episodes.
Izzy & Moe (1985)
It's Not The Honeymooners
When Jackie Gleason and Art Carney signed for this film project both men made it
clear that th would not anything remotely like The Honeymooners. Isidore
Einstein and Moe Smith will never be mistaken for Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton.
This apocryphal tale Izzy And Moe is the story of a pair of Prohibition who ook the job seriously and stepped on a lot of important toes in the colorful wys hey took down speakeasies. Their unpreposessing appearances was in fact a secret weapon. Bootleggers never mistook them for Eliot Ness. What y see here is only a small part of their creativiy.
Gleason and Carney complement each other beautifully. Notice should also be taken of Cynthia Harris on her Texas Guinan type character.
The ambence of the Roaring 20s is well captured here,, This is one enjoyavle film.
Range war developing
John McGiver who usually played eccentric comic role in his career plays it quite
serious as a guest of Lorne Greene's at the Ponderosa. He's got a broken
leg and is mending.
At the same time some settlers have settled on Ponderosa claiming they bought this land from a dealer with their hard earned cash. One fatality on each side happens before he issues are resolved.
Watch tis episode. McGiver will be a revelation.
Sex Kittens Go to College (1960)
Put the blame on Mamie
Sex Kittens Go To College has former stripper Mamie Van Doren bcoming the head of the science department at a collegein Nevada, She was chosen by he
college's new computer. The compter has a sideline as a bookie and some of
the local gangsters want to find out who's muscling in on their action.
That's the barebones plot of a witless comedy that wastes the talents of a lot of good people. Then again Mamie Vnn Doren's pulchriude is the main reason for seeing this film.
When a bongo playing monkey can steal a scene, you know you got troubles.
The Comic (1969)
Full range of talents
In Carl Reiner's The Comic, Dick Van Dyke gets to show his full range of talents
especially in he art of pantomime. In homage to the the great silent screen
comics like Chaplin, Keaton, Lloyd, and Van Dyke's own hero and mentor Stan
Van Dyke really mst have loved working on that whole middle section of the film where we see his character Billy Bright's silent screen work.
The film is done in flashback where Van Dyke in the coffin does voice over commentary. What he says never quite matches up to what he does.
Michele Lee as the first wife and Mickey Rooney as his second banana sidekick stand out in the supporting cast. Also Pert Kelton as a prospective mother-in-law from hell and Scott James as his fashion designer grown son who has one scene and really stands out.
With James though the role is stereotypical it also meant visibility for gay people, one of the first and in the year of Stonewall.
Too bad The Comic isn't out and available. It was worth the wait to see it.
The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)
In The Curse Of Frankenstein, Pter Cushing hives a far more sinister interpretation to the scientist/baron than Colin Clive did in the Universal classic from Hollywood.
He's quite aware of the soulless evil he's created, but goes on and on with his
His friend and tutor Robert Urquhart tries to pull him back but to no avail, He commits urder so he can get the neede body parets. The freshly dead work the best for him.
Christopher Lee plays the monster but sadly without the style of Boris Karloff in fact the whole film is way inferior to the Universal ckassic.
The endng however is unique and original.
One Ironic Name
This Virginian story has James Drury going to the town ifHonesty, Wyoming which
is run by Richard Carlson whose power derives from his marriage to Dorothy Green. he also has a mistress in saloon manager Patricia Crowley.
Carlson is one all around rat and The Virginian is in townto collect $8000.00 he owes Shiloh ranch. But Carlson is killed and Drury is arrested.
Fortunately Drury has Clu Gulager come to town and a good defense attorney who uses some19th century forensics in his case. Harold Gould does a great job as the attorney.
And Gulager shows his nvestigative skills as he does in so mamn episodes. James Drury gets some good help in this story.
Blue Bloods: Inside Jobs (2013)
High Society and low crime
This Blue Bloods story involves Tom Selleck as Comissioner being given a major
headache, security for racist radio host Mark Moses. He takes an example from
his most noted predecessor Theodore Roosevelt for guidance.
Someon letting rats loose at a high society charity event us the opening of a case that Donnie Wah;berg and Bridget Moynahan get involved in from different angles. Wahlberg investigates a nasty assault on the man who ket the rats loose. At the same time Moynahan getsinvited to sit on the board of said charity.
This episode is truly where high society and low crime partner up.