Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Confucius say, maybe stay away
I guess because of the fact that back in the day Charlie Chan, Earl Derr Biggers
famous Chinese detective from the Honolulu PD was played by Occidentals like
Warner Oland, Sidney Toler, and Roland Winters it was OK to have Peter Ustinov do a
spoof. Maybe it could have worked in other hands with a better script and better
direction, but we've kind of grown past that kind of mimicry.
Charlie's come over to San Francisco from retirement in Honolulu for his grandson's wedding. Turns out that Lee Chan the number one son married a nice Jewish girl. His grandson however was raised by his Jewish grandmother Lee Grant who super doted on him. Now Richard Hatch as the grandson wants to follow in his grandfather's footsteps and become a detective. He's also marrying a nice Jewish girl in Michelle Pfeiffer.
Hatch maybe Charlie Chan's grandson, but he acts more like Inspector Clouseau in training. And there've been some random murders or seemingly random murders and looking good for it is Charlie Chan's arch nemesis the Dragon Queen played here by Angie Dickinson.
Hatch investigates, but of course it's Ustinov who solves it. Some others in the cast are Roddy McDowall as the butler and Rachel Roberts as the maid to Lee Grant. Best in this cast is Brian Keith a rather thick police chief who can't quite grasp the subtleties of Ustinov's mind and aphorisms.
This might have worked better if Ustinov spoofed his own character Hercule Poirot. But having us westerners play easterners just does not go over that well any more.
A mule is an animal with long funny ears
This has to be the only football movie where a team does its majority scoring with
field goals. Then again if I had a kicker like Gus the mule I might realign my offense as well especially if it was as weak as the California Atoms.
Ed Asner is the owner of the team and he's made what is a foolish bet with Harold Gould that if his team gets to the Super Bowl Gould will tear up the note that he holds on Asner, a kind of team mortgage. But with Gus the Yugoslavian mule and his handler Gary Grimes the Atoms start winning for Asner and coach Don Knotts. Can't forget Knotts he's quite the inspirational coach.
Gould is down but not out. He hires a pair of recently released con men from jail, Tom Bosley and Tim Conway for some dirty tricks. As you can imagine they come up short. The final sequence with them is chasing the kidnapped but escaped mule through a supermarket. It's a page right out of the Marx Brothers and their chase scene in The Big Store.
Bob Crane has a good bit part as a broadcaster with Hall of Fame Johnny Unitas sharing the play by play with him. He's every know it all announcer you just love to hate and loves the sound of his own voice.
This Disney film holds up well after over 40 years and a lot of familiar players get to do their stuff.
The Biscuit Eater (1972)
Moreover it's a bird dog
The one thing we learn from The Biscuit Eater is what a Biscuit Eater is. It's a dog
that is untrainable and steals eggs. Not good to keep dogs and chickens together, make sure the chickens are protected.
Young Johnny Whitaker and George Spell have such a dog, but they think the label is an aspersion on the dog's character. He's trainable as a hunting dog and they're going to prove it. All this to the amusement of parents Earl Holliman and Patricia Crowley for Whittaker and Beah Richards, Spell's widowed mom.
I did like the chemistry between the boys in the film, they come across as real and genuine.
Rounding out the cast are Lew Ayres, the sportsman for whom Holliman trains hunting dogs, Mantan Moreland as a snoopy butler, Clifton James as a mean neighbor.
Cannot forget Godfrey Cambridge though as a hustling gas station owner who is forever got a cigar in his mouth and is quite a character. You have to see how he hustles Lew Ayres and how he wheedles free meals from Beah Richards.
The Biscuit Eater is a nice family film in the Disney tradition.
Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens (2016)
A new kind of jumped up slippery land shark
Through the first three Sharknado movies at least we could take comfort in the
fact that sharks are fish and they inhabit the ocean. So somewhere out say in
Kansas one had no reason to fear. Well that's all over because now those sharknados are developing out of desert sand storms. How they are breathing
with those gills and no lungs don't ask me.
This film opens with the Shepherd family in Las Vegas and where Ian Ziering and his family go there's sure to be a Sharknado. One comes and father and son Ziering and Cody Linley meet the challenge. Later on grandfather David Hasselhoff a former astronaut get to help and we get three generations of Shepherds saving the planet.
Wife Tara Reid is back, but she's now more of a bionic creature than Jamie Summers back in the day. Of course she pitches in too because battling these beasts is a Shepherd family project.
I swear they're getting stupider and stupider. But producer/star Ian Ziering is laughing all the way to the bank.
Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! (2015)
It's raining sharks again
When there was speculation that Mark Cuban was going to run for president in
2020 one thing was left off his resume. He didn't list that he played a president
in Sharknado 3.
I wouldn't brag on it either. For action above and beyond in fighting flying sharks in the first two Sharknado movies Ian Ziering is getting the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Mark Cuban. Wouldn't you know it, but the sharks come to poop the party and in general wreak havoc on our nation's capital.
But that's the preliminary. What Mother Nature has planned is a series of these storms up and down the Atlantic coast. Ian Ziering can't be everywhere, or can he?
And there were three more Sharknado sequels after this. Somebody must have watched them.
Dark Power (2013)
Dullsville in the thrill department
Dark Power is a film about a conspiratorial group like the Illuminati who have
members in high places and low places and call on them when needed. When
the powers that be decide they want to control an unnamed big city Mayor
Kevin Dobson is assassinated right in city hall where he and a lame brain security
guard are burning the midnight oil. It's the only time an assassination shown in
a movie ever got laughs from me.
Kristianna Loken and Sean Patrick Flannery are the two FBI agents assigned to the case and they never develop any chemistry. The only emotion shown on the screen is sheer boredom.
Just why this secret cult/organization wants this city under its control is never really explained. Everybody involved with this one has done better work.
Power Play (1994)
Way too good looking for hockey
This film from the Billy Graham evangelical association stars Marietta DePrima as
a business sports executive with the Vancouver hockey team and she's got an
assignment. Sign roughhouse player Ken Olandt to Vancouver as he was always
a fan favorite.
But DePrima who has to get to the piney woods to find Olandt who has not only walked away from the game but has embraced evangelical Christianity as well. It's not him any more to be part of the fighting and brawling end of hockey, but let's face it a lot of fans want to see that.
Not only that, the ownership like Walter O'Malley with the Brooklyn Dodgers so many decades ago was going to move the club any way.
Some souls might be saved, but I'm sure that way past the time this film's plot ends the money folks will have their way. Plus quite frankly Ken Olandt looks way too good to be a professional hockey player. Not with all the facial injuries those guys pile up over a career.
The trip to Philadelphia
The cattle drive and the dusty trail towns are left behind in this Rawhide episode
as Eric Fleming goes east to Philadelphia to visit his daughters Candy Moore and
Barbara Beiard who are in the custody of Fleming's sister-in-law Dorothy Green.
To say that Fleming and Green have different ideas on child raising is putting it mildly. Both are concerned with the welfare of the girls.
A different problem arises when Jock Gaynor playing Pawnee chief makes Gil Favor's acquaintance on the train to Philadelphia. He's been hired for a wild west show run by George Wallace. But Wallace has in mind to keep him caged and in shackles as an exhibit. With the help of Sheb Woolley and Paul Brinegar, Eric Fleming deals with that one western style.
One thing Wishbone sure loves an opportunity to cook using a real stove and makes the most of it.
A nice change of pace episode for Rawhide.
The Devil's Saddle Legion (1937)
Diverting the Red River
Bearing in mind that films like The Devil's Saddle Legion were marketed for the
Saturday afternoon kiddie trade, still I had a lot of problems with this Dick Foran
oater from Warner Brothers.
Foran is a pleasant chap come home to Texas and not knowing yet that his father has been bushwhacked and killed. He gets framed for murder of yet another old friend by a crooked sheriff. But in this town the sentence is always one of hard labor. And the crooks have a nefarious scheme to dam up the Red River and steal Texas land when the river changes course and puts said land into the Indian territory later Oklahoma. That includes Foran's former spread.
I have to say though Foran is a true cowboy hero. While working on the construction gang he saves the girl Anne Nagel when her horse bolts. Quick as a flash he steals a horse and runs down the runaway and saves Nagel. So what does he then do? He takes her back to the gang where once again he's slapped in custody. I mean, really. I'll bet the Saturday matinee kids had trouble swallowing that one.
Definitely not one of Foran's better westerns for Warner Brothers.
Everyone abruptly left.
The Twilight Zone anthology series got off to a great beginning in an episode where for most of it Earl Holliman is alone and talking to himself.
There isn't anyone else to give him any conversation. It's like everyone has just up and walked away rather abruptly. Holliman walks into a small town and into a coffee shop where stuff is cooking on the grille but nobody home, no customers, no cooks, no waitstaff.
It's that way throughout the whole of this average American town. Just where did they all go?
More I cannot say lest I give it away. But Earl Holliman gives the Twilight Zone one grand debut performance in this story.
30,000 Leagues Under the Sea (2007)
Deeper is not better, certainly not here
This adventure most loosely based on Jules Verne's novel has Lorenzo Lamas as
a navy officer and scientist who has perfected an air bubble which can be used
in undersea rescue. A submarine and its crew have to be rescued and Lamas
gets the job.
Sadly though this is a lure to get Lamas and his invention to the depths where Captain Nemo played by Sean Lawlor has himself a nice under the sea society. He's decided to obliterate the surface and create a better world with him in charge of course and he's got the nuclear weapons to do the job.
Sean Lawlor plays Nemo and Lawlor follows that old rule that when you are in a turkey you gobble like crazy. His is a scenery inhaling performance to beat McNamara's Band. Everyone else sits around hoping their paychecks clear.
Jules Verne if saw this would have a nervous breakdown.
Law & Order: Choice of Evils (2006)
S. Eptha Merkersen gets to deal with the criminal mothers once again in this
episode where with a bit of a heart to heart with a suspect while Dennis Farina
and Jesse Martin are dealing with her husband.
A homeless teen who was squatting in a building under construction is found shot to death. The first thing for Fontana and Green is to identify him and he's got a great pedigree. His DNA connects with a serial rapist/murderer doing life in Attica.
When they locate Molly Price who is the mother they find her married with two younger kids. Price never told her son about his father, but score this one on the side of nature as opposed to nurture. When his very presence threatens her marriage that is when she shoots him.
Hard not to sympathize with Price and what her kid had to be putting her through. Still will a jury not hold her responsible for the murder that she no doubt committed?
Maybe some people are just born bad. In any event see how this one works out for Sam Waterston.
Law & Order: Magnet (2006)
Sparing no expense
The recent college admission bribery scandals makes this Law And Order episode
a rather timely one as a Dominican kid is murdered in the music room of his rather
upscale high school.
The victim who got there on scholarship but still had economic issues at home took care of them by running a business of writing term papers and selling tests to supplement himself. One of those he took care of was James Sandin who is a rich privileged kid who I'm sure would have gotten his parents to buy him into a prestigious college.
Sandin is a picture of privilege but he's also someone afraid to make it on his own. He attempts suicide when Jesse Martin and Dennis Farina come to arrest him..
The parents spare no expense to get Sandin off. They hire fancy defense lawyer Kathleen Turner who's a celebrity via court TV.
I wonder if Lori Loughlin identifies with this episode?
Return to the Lost World (1992)
Should have stayed home
This is one ridiculous sequel that never should have been made. The team that
discovered The Lost World comes back to the plateau where the dinosaurs roam
come back to help the natives when some oil drillers come to their home and
start drilling. It's British imperialism at its finest and native considerations don't
count for much.
Except for John Rhys-Davies, David Warner, Eric McCormack, Darren Peter Mercer, and Tamara Gaski who did promise to help the natives if they needed.
What the oil drillers do is tap into a sleeping volcano and the way it is dealt with is plain ridiculous. That together with the chintzy special effects from the original make this a bad sequel.
Arthur Conan Doyle would shudder.
The Lost World (1992)
Story back in its Edwardian time
John Rhys-Davies and David Warner play our dueling professors Challenger and
Summerlee in this remake of The Lost World. Unlike the 1962 version that
starred Claude Rains and Richard Haydn this one is set in Arthur Conan Doyle's
own time of Edwardian England and not updated.
Professor Challenger says he's been to a prehistoric Lost World in East Africa and his rival Summerlee disputes him. So Summerlee goes along on this second expedition and they are accompanied by photographer Tamara Gaski and young Darren Peter Mercer just about hitting puberty. Why he was along God only knows though he proves useful getting in and out of tight places.
The dinosaurs are indeed there including some suspicious natives who worship the beasts when the carnivores aren't eating them. Native girl Nathania Stanford also proves useful in a part Dorothy Lamour would have done decades ago.
Sadly this Lost World and its sequel came along around the time of Jurassic Park and the special effects are really cheap and not so special.
Still the dialog with Rhys-Davies and Warner makes this one somewhat enjoyable.
The Slowest Gun in the West (1960)
I think I can see why The Slowest Gun In The West was not picked up as a pilot. It
might have been hard to come up with reasons why someone did not shoot Phil
Silvers despite the plot premise that any self respecting gunfighter would have
been laughed at for killing such a coward. It's a variation on the premise of the
Abbott&Costello classic The Wistful Widow Of Wagon Gap.
Nevertheless this is a pretty funny pilot film especially when the bad guys go find their own cowardly gunslinger in the person of Jack Benny to face Silvers.
A whole lot of western film heavies get to appear in this but as comic foils for Silvers and Benny. Worth watching for them alone.
Murder, She Wrote: Killer Radio (1993)
The shock jocks
The 90s were the decade of the shock jocks who came into their own on radio and
sadly have never left us. Such a one is Jeff Yagher who really gives a bravura
performance on this Murder She Wrote episode.
JB Fletcher is booked as a guest on his show, but her very show of her superior education really is something he's not prepared for. What Yagher is prepared to do is move on to a bigger market. That is if station owner Lyman Ward will let him out of his contract. Ward has ambitions and he likes having a personal attack dog on the payroll.
But it's Ward who winds up dead and it's the son of her publisher's lawyer Stephen Caffrey who is chief suspect. Both Ward and Yagher are such lovable guys there are lots of folks looking to do them in.
This MSW episode didn't go quite in the direction I thought it would. But that's all for the better. One really should see this for Jeff Yagher.
Sharknado 2: The Second One (2014)
It's raining sharks in New York City
This second Sharknado movie has Ian Ziering and Tara Reid coming to visit some
of Ziering's family in New York City. But they're not even arrived when while the
plane is preparing to touch down and those ominous storm clouds appear and
it's the Sharknado once again. They attack the plane but it's Ziering to the rescue
as he brings in the big jet.
That's how it begins, but believe me folks it only gets more ridiculous as things go on. Like King Kong there's a climax on top of the Empire State Building, a romantic one. No Ziering does not marry one of the sharks.
There was an audience for these things. But they get more ridiculous as the sequels are churned out.
The Virginian: The Fortress (1967)
Nielsen has Winthrop City pretty wired
This episode of The Virginian has our title character driving a herd of cattle to
a Canadian border town to be sold to Leslie Nielsen. Only the second that Nielsen
brings in the money and James Drury gets a bank draft the bank is robbed. Drury
has no choice but to trail the robbers and the road leads to Nielsen's town in
Nielsen's the Ben Cartwright of the area and he's got the local Ponderosa. He's not an honest guy like Ben Cartwright and he steals back the $100,000.00 he bought the cattle from The Virginian because he has a cash flow problem. But he's got his town of Winthrop City pretty wired.
He does have a weakness for women and Drury bringing in pretty French coquette Barbara Bouchet to get Kim Hamilton jealous looks like a good gambit. Nielsen and Hamilton are in fact living together without benefit of clergy. It's the 60s now and even in westerns set in the previous century that could now be shown.
Nielsen's a shrewd guy, but The Virginian proves to be foxier.
Melody Cruise (1933)
Charlie cheating again
In this RKO musical Charlie Ruggles was brought over from Paramount but he's
playing his usual role of a cheating playboy who has written an indiscreet letter
and wants it back before wife Marjorie Gateson sees it. She's in Europe and Charlie
is on a delightful cruise to California through the Panama Canal with cuties
June Brewster and Shirley Chambers.
Along for the ride is Ruggles's pal Phil Harris who finds some true love on the cruise with Helen Mack. Some forgettable songs are in Melody Cruise save for its main theme Isn't This A Night For Love repeated throughout and best used as an ice ballet when the ship docks in California and Phil and Helen are in Squaw Valley. I have to say Busby Berkeley could not have done better over at Warner Brothers given the bigger budgets he had than what RKO did here.
What's hard to believe here is that Phil Harris was ever that young for those of us who remember him as Jack Benny's brash bandleader and in only a few more years. Handles his end of the singing nicely.
One only wishes that RKO had borrowed Mary Boland as well as Ruggles from Paramount. Ruggles always did his best work with her though no complaints about Gateson.
Nice ending for Ruggles when he knows the jig is up.
Straw Dogs (2011)
Those reddest of red states
I'm supposing that there would be more identification with America when this
remake of Straw Dogs had its location changed from Cornwall in England to
Mississippi in the USA. It's the reddest of red states with a troubled past and a
propensity to violence among the good old boy villains.
Screenwriter James Marsden and his wife Kate Bosworth have moved back to her small Mississippi hometown where at one time she was going with local redneck Alexander Skarsgard. God only knows why Marsden thought this place would provide peace, quiet and inspiration to finish his screenplay for a film about the battle of Stalingrad. Skarsgard thinks this might be the opportunity to show Bosworth what she's missing.
The other element here is mentally challenged Dominic Purcell who retired football coach James Woods an old pre-civil rights era good old boy who hates him for the attentions he keeps paying to his tease of a daughter Willa Holland. When Marsden and Bosworth offer him some shelter after a tragic event happens the climax starts with the invasion of Skarsgard and his pals.
This version sure matches the violence of the Sam Peckinpah original without the Peckinpah style. Still shows what anyone is capable of if pushed far enough. Marsden's worm really turns here.
The agony of Amanda Rollins
This episode begins with young Rebekah Kennedy running away and catching the
Long Island Railroad at Douglaston which is Northeast Queens for you non-New
Yorkers and two people chasing her down unsuccessfully. When the train reaches
Penn Station the conductor finds Kennedy frightened and silent in the train
bathroom car. It's Ice-T and Kelli Giddish who have to talk with her and it takes
a while but eventually the kid bonds with Rollins.
Turns out she's the daughter of this apocalyptic whack job played by Ray McKinnon and she looks like a juvenile because he and his wife have been starving their kids and she's been malnourished for years.
Sad to say there really are people like McKinnon out there. Just go on some of these rightwing religious websites and you'll see them posting. McKinnon thinks Jesus is due any day now and he's keeping his family out of a sinful society so they will be pure.
Kelli Giddish gives one of her best performances as Amanda Rollins in her history with SVU. Giddish and her character come from Georgia and she no doubt ran into characters like McKinnon in her life.
I can't go into it, but it turns into a gut wrenching tragedy for Rollins and Giddish is wonderful in how she demonstrates it.
A must episode for SVU fans.
Unstable planet and that pesky prime directive
This TNG story is known for Data showing the most humanity of all on the
Enterprise and for Nikki Cox's wonderful performance as Sarjenka an alien child
who Data begins a kind of pen pal correspondence.
The Enterprise is heading for a system where their surveys show that the planet is undergoing severe seismic changes that could destroy it. On that same planet Data answered Nikki Cox's transmissions into unknown space and they begin a pen pal type relationship.
The Prime Directive comes into play and the key scene in this episode are the TNG regulars sitting around in Patrick Stewart's conference room. Note here that it is the women Diana Muldaur and Marina Sirtis who support Data. But it is the android who Brent Spiner plays who shows the real concern. Just a few episodes before StarFleet was considering disassembling him for study and Patrick Stewart had to prove his humanity.
TNG fans and others you really have to see this one.
Against his nature
This TNG story is one of those time travel ones which can leave the viewer with
either entertainment or a headache as they ponder the conundrum the Enterprise
finds itself in.
Particularly Patrick Stewart as the Enterprise picks up a shuttle craft piloted by none other than a duplicate of Jean-Luc Picard.
In the future time the duplicate was operating in the Enterprise had a nasty encounter with a time vortex which brought the duplicate Picard to the Enterprise.
What to do as Patrick Stewart contemplates how to avoid this future if in fact it is avoidable. He might even have to do something against his own nature.
I'd say this conundrum episode was entertaining and no headache.
Baby needs a new pair of shoes at the Royale
The Enterprise finds some space debris and it's from a NASA mission that left
earth in 2037. The nearby planet is an uninhabitable methane/ammonia gas
giant, but there is an artificially created corridor that has earth like atmosphere.
When Riker, Data, and Worf beam down there's nothing but a revolving door
earth style that they go through.
What they find is an earth type resort hotel set in Nevada with all kinds of gaming operations. Once in the Away team can't get out though after awhile they can communicate with the Enterprise.
They also discover the skeletal remains in one of the hotel rooms of an old astronaut NASA together with a pulp fiction novel the Hotel Royale written by some Mickey Spillane type author. The kindly aliens who found the astronaut created this atmosphere bubble and the hotel based on this novel because this is what they thought earth must be like.
This episode is very similar to the Star Trek prime one where a book about the gangster culture of Chicago was left by an earth traveler and the aliens simply followed it along.
How to leave and I will say the abilities of Data the android come in handy here. Don't get into a crap game with Brent Spiner.