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3/10
Falcon on poverty row
18 June 2019
Not that RKO was the cream of studios in Hollywood. But those Falcon movies that were done there looked like Gone With The Wind next to these last Falcon movies with John Calvert. In fact this independent makes a typical PRC film look good.

Calvert is off to Italy and back searching for a pair of paintings that the owner Peter Brocco claims were stolen. When Calvert finds one of them he finds out also it's a fake and the artist who copied it is murdered.

So it's back to Los Angeles and to art dealer Catherine Craig who is involved though Calvert does not know how much.

These Falcon films aren't a patch on the George Sanders/Tom Conway films done at RKO. This one is one dull snooze.
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Miami Vice (2006)
6/10
None of the style of the TV show
18 June 2019
I wish I could have written something better about this film version of the 80s TV series. Miami Vice which starred Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas was a truly hip show, a view of the 80s as 77 Sunset Strip was to the late 50s through the Kennedy years. Don Johnson was quite the fashion style trender in those years and there was a bit of wit in the show.

None of which is present in this film which is a routine police action drama. Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx are a pair of cops going under to try and take down both a drug kingpin Luis Tosar and one mother of all drug shipments at the same time.

Complicating things is Farrell falling for Tosar's wife Li Gong. Talk about urinating where you eat. He should be facing some disciplinary problems soon.

I'm not sure fans of the show will really get into this.
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5/10
A less than Grand Hotel
17 June 2019
A year after MGM released Grand Hotel and got a Best Picture Oscar for it Paramount decided to do a cut down version of the classic. From Hell To Heaven doesn't any marquee names with the exception of Carole Lombard and Jack Oakie. But the structure is the same, a group disparate stories about people gathered at a resort hotel spa that sounds like Saratoga.

The big Capitol Handicap is being run and all there intend to bet and they have a lot of hopes and dreams. Lombard runs into her ex-husband Sidney Blackmer. The current husband left her high and dry and Blackmer who is a bookie offers her a proposition bet that she takes. Won't reveal what it is.

Jack Oakie is his usual obnoxious self as the track announcer who wants to break into show business the way Lucy Ricardo wants to. He's the comic relief in this film.

From Hell To Heaven will never be a Carole Lombard top ten. But it's a competently made drama with a cast perfect in their parts.
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Bonanza: The Dark Past (1964)
Season 5, Episode 31
7/10
Preacher's kid turned bounty hunter
17 June 2019
Dennis Hopper delivers a great performance as a bounty hunter, a man without friends or needing any so he says. The big surprise for the Cartwrights is that Hopper is the son of a preacher that Lorne Greene knew from the old days.

But Hopper has abandoned that and his quarry is outlaw Ron Starr whose wife ran away and is back in Virginia City. He figures that if he hangs around Susan Seaforth Hayes long enough Starr will surface.

All I'll say is that things don't quite go according to Hopper's plans. And he finds he needs friends like the Cartwright's in time of need.

Susan Seaforth Hayes does well too as the very naive girl. I have to say that folks like the Cartwrights don't come along that often in life to lend a helping hand.

Hopper's scenes with Michael Landon are very good as Little Joe shows the upbringing he's had that Hopper has rejected.

All around good episode.
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6/10
Wit, charm and little else
17 June 2019
The only thing I can't figure out is why Carole Lombard playing a movie star very much like Carole Lombard in Fools For Scandal is why she was going out with a drip like Ralph Bellamy in the first place? Can someone answer that question? I can't imagine her ever coming in contact with him except to buy insurance.

Fools For Scandal has Lombard over in Paris where she meets a penniless count played by Fernand Gravey who gets by on wit, charm and little else. He encounters Lombard and manages to charm his way into her household and he turns out to be a pretty good cook. The man has a way with Crepe Suzettes.

Of course this continental charmer is good also at getting Ralph Bellamy's goat. But that's the whole idea. Bellamy gets more than a few laughs with his exasperation.

Fools For Scandal is not one of Lombard's really great films, but it certainly will satisfy her legion of fans. There's also nice parts for Marie Wilson as Lombard's maid as her usual vacuous self and Allen Jenkins who is Gravey's American friend from Brooklyn.

Now how did those two get together?
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Law & Order: Criminal Intent: Maledictus (2002)
Season 1, Episode 19
7/10
Grisly murder
17 June 2019
Vincent D'Onofrio and Kathryn Erbe catch an extremely grisly case. Mailed to her publisher is the head of an author of Russian extraction who wrote of her years growing up in a Russian mob family. That's the only part of the body that's ever"located.

Her expose book led to a few folks going to jail and the Russians who aren't forgiving are natural suspects.

But Robert Goren ferrets out something else in this going way back to the woman's time in a prep school for rich troubled teens. She was going to do a book all right and expose a terrible secret that one rich family wants hidden permanently.

Can't say any more, but trust me it's worse than organized crime business.
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Flight Angels (1940)
5/10
Training the women of aviation
17 June 2019
Despite the exploits of Amelia Earhart which had already passed into legend it was clear that the place for women in the aviation profession was that of stewardess. So while Dennis Morgan and Wayne Morris fly the planes and break women's hearts in every place that has an airport, it's Virginia Bruce who is training the women to serve the passengers. Bruce and her best friend Jane Wyman have it bad for Morgan and Morris. But these two are having a great old time.

That is until some eye trouble grounds Morgan. And airline boss Ralph Bellamy gives Morgan a job showing the stewardesses the rudimentaries of flight. They actually get serious and get married and the usual complications follow.

Flight Angels was your typical routine B programmer from Warner Brothers. Jane Wyman was getting routinely cast in these things in the same part as the heroine's best friend. She could have been a second Eve Arden had she not gotten a break in The Lost Weekend and The Yearling and shown her acting chops.

Enjoyable, but routine.
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Devil's Cargo (1948)
3/10
Only the name
16 June 2019
If you're thinking that there is another Falcon brother after Tom Conway and George Sanders before watching Devil's Cargo you'd be wrong. Actor/magician John Calvert goes by the Falcon, but he's not a Lawrence brother.

He's got a line of chatter that never gives out, a cute dog, and some magic tricks.

Calvert's services are retained by Paul Marton who says he killed a known gambler for fooling around with his wife Rochelle Hudson. Then Marton is killed in custody and a third man is killed in an explosion.

An interesting murder plot is revealed, but the production values are dreadful and Calvert just ain't up to either George Sanders or Tom Conway.
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The Virginian: Dead-Eye Dick (1966)
Season 5, Episode 9
7/10
Didn't know girls read those dime novels
16 June 2019
This Virginian episode has easterners June Vincent and her daughter Alice Rawlings visiting Vincent's sister Patricia Donahue in Medicine Bow. I never knew that girls as well as boys read those penny dreadful dime novels back in those days, but apparently Rawlings does and she has her ideas about the west formed by them.

When James Drury saves a her when her horse runs away she's sure she's found the personification of a cowboy hero. But Drury whose taste does not run to teens underage tries to set her up with fellow rancher William Schallert's son David Macklin who's a nice kid going east to college and law school.

Some really funny scenes are with Macklin and Doug McClure as he tries to teach him some of what being a cowboy is all about.

Some of Rawlings silly notions are washed away when she witnesses a bank robbery and can identify one of the robbers. As for Macklin he does show he has the right stuff.

Very nice and most entertaining episode.
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Duplicity (2009)
4/10
Stealing trade secrets
16 June 2019
I was expecting a lot better from folks like Julia Roberts and Clive Owen. But Duplicity had me thinking that it was the audience that was taken for a ride.

Roberts and Owen play rival industrial spies and they have some bad history between them. Back when they were real secret agents Roberts got Owen burned and he lost his job with MI6. She too leaves the CIA under a bit of a cloud. I thought at least back then our countries were allies.

Post the real spy game these two are now industrial spies stealing trade secrets from competitors. In the end they team up professionally looking for a trade secret that man has been looking for since the dawn of time.

I never felt Roberts and Owen had any real chemistry between them in this movie. Looked a lot like they were going through the motions.

Duplicity drags in spots could have used a half hour less at least. And it would be nice if this secret they were after comes out for real. Folks in my family could use it.
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3/10
We should all have such problems
16 June 2019
Young Aaron Mees is a football star who gets on the bad side of his coach who because of his attitude benches him. Not to be sidelined Mees merely transfers schools where he gets on bad with some of his would be teammates. They 'bully' him, but he meets up with a nice group of Christian kids, joins a church and finds that life ain't so bad.

It usually isn't for folks as good looking and hunky as Mees. To say the least he's not your typical bullied teen. The main thing kids are bullied for is not being heterosexual, but you will not see a Christian movie going in that direction.

Shake Off The World will not be making it out of church basements. We should all have such problems as Mees.
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Bonanza: Enter Thomas Bowers (1964)
Season 5, Episode 30
8/10
Singer or slave
15 June 2019
The civil rights revolution enters this Bonanza story as real life concert singer Thomas Bowers played by William Marshall arrives in Virginia City for a concert. What a surprise it was when he gets off the stagecoach and his race is discovered.

The Cartwrights especially Dan Blocker make him feel welcome but many do not. And one of them Kelly Thordsen hears rumors of a runaway slave in the area and reports same to Ray Teal the sheriff.

William Marshall best known as Blacula on the big screen and Dr. Denkstrom from Star Trek prime really delivers as singer and actor in this episode. It's one of the best Bonanza episodes ever done.
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Rawhide: Incident Before Black Pass (1961)
Season 3, Episode 27
7/10
A most wanted man
15 June 2019
Zachary Scott plays a half breed Kiowa chief who is dying and is sprung from an army prison to go back to his people. When he was active Scott was known as a bloodthirsty warrior and the army is afraid he'll inspire the Kiowa to go back on the warpath.

A young Kiowa warrior with ambitions Leonard Nimoy is hoping for a signal for war. In fact he's grabbed Clint Eastwood and Sheb Woolley from the passing cattle drive to insure Scott's safe return.

Robert Armstrong who is a rich rancher is looking for a little personal vengeance from Scott for having led a raid that left his wife Cathy Downs with disfigurement burns. This is all on top of the army looking for Scott.

This is a most ticklish situation for Eric Fleming who only wants to get Rowdy and Pete back. Some fine performances by the guest cast most especially Zachary Scott.
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5/10
Stuck with hot money
15 June 2019
A gang of modern bank robbers has a hideout in a western state which is pretty remote and generally inaccessible due to an earthquake. But it's the bad luck of Ralph Ince's men that in the last job all they got away with large denomination bills, thousand dollar bills to be exact. Hard to spend and easily traceable.

So Ince and his guys have to resort to a lot of petty thievery in the area just to eat. For reasons I'm still not clear about suspicion falls on our hero William Boyd, the future Hopalong Cassidy. But Italian immigrant farmer Henry Armetta gets wise to the gang and dies for his trouble. Armetta has his usual gang of kids left without a dad.

This is a remote region and apparently has a sheriff that doesn't give it that much attention. So it's up to the folks living there to face down the city gangsters who have tommy guns and they have hunting rifles.

The NRA is certainly going to love this film.

Men Of America is a scant 58 minutes running time but it does pack a lot of plot into it. It's an average B programmer and the cast does well by the material.
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Blue Bloods: Ripple Effect (2019)
Season 9, Episode 13
7/10
Altruism?
15 June 2019
As Vanessa Ray gets closer to her wedding with Will Estes, all the Reagans get into situations where motives and altruism are questioned.

The archbishop himself when he learns that a certain charity he's enthusiastic about is cutting a few corners in its fund raising he goes to Tom Selleck to personally investigate. Selleck does investigate with some surprising results.

Donnie Wahlberg gets a case where a psychic medium gets involved in a case originally thought to be a suicide where a young woman is thought to have hanged herself. Her observations are unnervingly accurate for one who is a complete outsider.

Bridget Moynahan looks into a case for her ex and the ever cynical Steven Schirippa questions his motives and the Reagan sister starts questioning also.

As for Estes and Ray, they help save a life and Vanessa does a truly nice thing for the mother of the little boy they save.

There are some who do good in this world after all.
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Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: Wannabe (2010)
Season 11, Episode 23
5/10
Imposter
14 June 2019
In this SVU story a young officer who is part of a task force patrolling Central Park looking for a serial rapist. Young Graham Davie tackles and arrests Raphael Sbarge and while he looks and acts real green he's congratulated all around.

Only problem is that Davie is not a policeman. He's a wannabe who can't wait for the minmum age to enter the Academy. When the squad discovers the deception they find Davie at his midtown Catholic High School.

This kid was really too much. He keeps insisting on involving himself and it puts him and the squad in danger as they try to salvage the bogus arrest.

Nice story, but hard to believe this kid could be such a jerk.
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Notting Hill (1999)
7/10
Media goldfish bowl
14 June 2019
Notting Hill is a neighborhood in London and it's the title of a romantic comedy starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant. Two of the most unlikely lovers you could ever imagine get together here.

Grant is the respectable, but somewhat dull proprietor of a bookstore in Notting Hill which specializes in travel books. It looks like he's getting by, but truth be told Grant's perfectly happy with just making enough to pay the bills and a little extra.

Back in the day after she retired from the screen for almost 50 years it was one of those urban legends in New York City to spot Greta Garbo out and about and you'd never know but when she might get a notion to stop into a bookstore like Grant's. In this case Julia Roberts plays a movie star not unlike the real Julia Roberts. Garbo mysterious she's not.

For if she was I doubt Hugh Grant would have considered approaching her. As for Roberts she's looking at Grant as a bit of respite from her life in the media goldfish bowl. When she's discovered it's disaster for both of them.

Notting Hill is a nice romantic comedy with very believable leads in a fairy tale fantasy. I mean who doesn't have a fantasy of wooing and winning some celebrity you might admire or be crushing out on. In that sense Notting Hill has a universal appeal.

In an unbilled part Alec Baldwin plays her boyfriend whom we learn little about factually. But he comes across as an egotistical fathead. One thing you're certain of, no matter what happens with Grant, Roberts and Baldwin won't be an item much longer.

Notting Hill, a nice romantic comedy/fantasy. May you win the celebrity of your desires.
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Proximity (2001)
5/10
Free and looking for answers
13 June 2019
Prisoner Rob Lowe in the Ohio State prison system for a vehicular manslaughter charge overhears a murder plot being hatched by a pair of prison guards. Little does he realize he's next on the list and the prison warden has a nice side business in getting rid of prisoners that should have gotten capital punishment.

Lowe was a professor carrying on with one of his teenage students some years back and he was intoxicated and killed her in the crash. When his wife left him after that and he went to jail he got a chance to take a good look at himself.

Still some wanted him dead and guards Jonathan Banks and Terrence Carson and fellow inmate David Flynn are ready to do the deed. But a freak mishap leaves Lowe free and looking for answers.

In this minor thriller Lowe does a good job as an almost Hitchcock like protagonist with forces arrayed against him whom he does not know and their reasons. Joe Santos is the malevolent warden and James Coburn plays a victim's rights advocate to whom this all traces back.

A decent enough if not outstanding thriller.
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Breakaway (2011)
6/10
An unusual hockey team
13 June 2019
Back in his salad Brat Pack days Rob Lowe played in Youngblood where he played a young hockey star with the name of the title on that film. Almost 30 years later and looking good for his age Lowe is the coach of an amateur hockey team.

It's composed of young Sikh immigrants seeking acceptance in Canada and they play their national sport quite well. One of them is Vinay Virmani who has really rebelled against the Sikh tradition by getting rid of the turban and shaving off the beard.

This is a theme going back to Golden Boy in film, the son who wants to please his parents but also sees the need to adjust to the new surroundings that immigrant kids face.

A lot of Indian/Sikh players got some work in this Canadian production. It's a nice film and I highly recommend it especially to young people to learn about a different culture.

This team composed of Sikhs are classic film heroes in the best tradition.
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Bonanza: The Saga of Muley Jones (1964)
Season 5, Episode 26
7/10
One powerful baritone
12 June 2019
Bruce Yarnell playing Cartwright cousin Muley Jones comes to Virginia City to visit his relations. The man has one powerful baritone singing voice and he's not making friends busting all the glass in town when he clears those high notes.

But Yarnell proves quite useful in discovering the identity of some folks making illegal whiskey. His discovery scene at the climax of the episode is quite amusing.

Besides Yarnell who is best known for starring opposite Ethel Merman in a 1968 Lincoln Center revival of Annie Get Your Gun the cast includes Jerome Cowan as an Indian agent, Strother Martin and Jesse White as the still operators and Ralph Moody as an Indian chief.

One of Bonanza's best comic episodes.
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The Fugitive (1993)
8/10
The premises of the TV series
11 June 2019
Back in the 60s I tuned into ABC TV on Tuesday night to see how David Janssen as Dr. Richard Kimble would once again escape the clutches of the law. Kimble was a convicted murderer who escaped execution in a train wreck. Once out Kimble searches for a one armed man he saw leaving his home where his dead wife was who can clear him. Searching for single wing and avoiding the cops was what was behind every episode for four years.

That's still in the film, but it's a more complex motive behind the killing and it involves Kimble's colleagues in the medical field. Harrison Ford who is now Richard Kimble is as resourceful as Janssen was on television. What is a change is instead of the very dour Barry Morse as Lt.Gerard the pursuer and a lone hand pursuer we have good old boy Tommy Lee Jones who is in command of a unit of Fugitive chasers. The voluble and quotable Jones earned himself a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for what he did here.

The tension is good and crackling throughout and both Ford and Jones have their moments. Ford and Jones are evenly matched as adversaries. As the pursuer Jones could easily have been made to look like Wile E. Coyote as Morse was sometimes over the run of the TV series.

Also Joe Pantoliano has some good moments as Jones's 2nd in command. He has some droll lines.

This is one case where a movie adaption of a classic television series did not make you wax nostalgic for the series.
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Bonanza: No Less a Man (1964)
Season 5, Episode 24
6/10
Time for Sheriff Coffee to go?
10 June 2019
Ray Teal who was for so many years a semi-regular on Bonanza as sheriff Roy Coffee he was like a piece of furniture from the Ponderosa house gets center stage in this episode.

Some folks on the Virginia City Town Council think that Teal has seen his best days especially since he was wounded dealing with a drunk. Also the notorious Wagner gang is in the area robbing banks and spreading a lot of mayhem. Some citizens wonder if Teal can still cut it.

Pernell Roberts who is on the town council offers to help Teal out. For the only time in Bonanza's run, Sheriff Coffee opens up about himself. We learn he's a widower with no children and he looks on the citizens of Virginia City as kind of his children. The job is his life.

All I'll say is that in the end it's proved the man still has what it takes to get the job done.

Nice to see Ray Teal get center stage in an episode.
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Law & Order: Venom (1998)
Season 9, Episode 7
8/10
What a trio
10 June 2019
After a concert attended by society folks in tuxedos a man and woman were hit with the same bullet fired from about 20 feet away. The man who is described as a professional escort is killed, the woman Laila Robbins is wounded.

The investigation by Jerry Orbach and Benjamin Bratt leads to Matt Keeslar who is the young husband of another society grande dame Penny Fuller.

I won't say any more other than information develops that puts none pf the principals in a decent light. I'm in agreement with Angie Harmon when she says let it all go before a jury and see who nauseates them the least.

They all may get justice, but not necessarily in New York County.

Law And Order regulars take a back seat to the trio of guest stars.
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Law & Order: Scrambled (1998)
Season 9, Episode 6
6/10
The wisdom of Solomon
10 June 2019
The murder in this episode of Law And Order concerns that of an employee at a fertility clinic. There was a break-in and stored embryos were destroyed.

The embryos targeted although there was collateral destruction to others were that of Lisa Eichhorn former wife of a deceased man who had married Jean Louise Kelly. The embryos of the ex-wife are according to the husband's will the property of the new wife.

Not a situation that the wife 1 likes so her personal chauffeur who is an ex-cop does the break-in and kills the employee. More collateral destruction.

The civil aspects as to owns the embryos would stump Solomon, but the fact is there is a homicide involved and that brings in law enforcement.

Lennie Briscoe and Rey Curtis get a bit testy on this one. Benjamin Bratt could be so terribly self-righteous never more so than in this episode.
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Summer Playhouse: The Jimmy Durante Show (1964)
Season Unknown, Episode Unknown
6/10
Looking for a partner
9 June 2019
This half hour teleplay stars Jimmy Durante as an old time song and dance man who is also guardian of his grandson Eddie Hodges. Durante is thinking of bringing the young man into doing a duo act. But his sister Audrey Christie wants young Hodges to go to John McIntire's posh prep school.

The song and dance numbers with Durante and Hodges are nicely staged. But I really liked when Durante is trying out other kids in case Eddie is committed to the prep school. The audition with Barry Gordon is nicely staged.

But Jimmy and Eddie have a nice chemistry between them. It's a thoroughly enjoyable half hour.
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