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Blue Bloods: Thicker Than Water (2018)
Season 9, Episode 5
7/10
The courtesy card
20 July 2019
The Reagans suffer a family split in this one as young Tony Terraciano gets caught out drinking. Vanessa Ray and Will Estes handle it at the lad's request. But Donnie Wahlberg finds out and doesn't like it.

Wahlberg and Marissa Ramirez get a case involving someone attempting murder on a fertility doctor played by Robin Thomas. This doctor really believes in being fruitful and multiplying.

Tom Selleck has to deal with a wounded police officer who comes from a family not unlike his own. The son who is on the job has stayed away from and Selleck learns a sad truth why.

And the usually shrewd Steven Schirippa gets taken by a woman he met on line. It burns him because he's usually the shrewdest guy around. We males all occasionally think with the male member. Breanna Racino Ferrara is enough to have any red blooded heterosexual males thoughts drift south.

I liked all the stories in this episode.
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Blue Bloods: Guilt by Association (2016)
Season 7, Episode 7
7/10
The Reagans and the Abatemarcos
19 July 2019
My favorite character on Blue Bloods is Steven Schirripa and he is no fan of his boss's brother Donnie Wahlberg. But Bridget Moynahan's case against a gang leader is about to blow up when her lead witness is shot to death. It was Donnie Wahlberg's case so Wahlberg and Schirripa from the DA's office are now joined at the hip until it's made right.

Michael Imperioli is a smarmy political operative from the Attorney General's office who is threatening the NYPD and its commissioner Tom Selleck with a fishing expedition investigation. A bit of drama here, but Selleck makes an enemy.

And for Will Estes he saves a life by talking a bridge jumper out of what he intends to do. That one comes back to bite in a most unexpected way.

Another good story from Blue Bloods.
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Blue Bloods: Whistleblowers (2016)
Season 7, Episode 6
7/10
Good old Jimmy Quinn's
19 July 2019
In this episode Donnie Wahlberg actually witnesses the last minute or so of a victim's life as a young girl mumbling in Gaelic gets struck down by a car. But in fact she had been given a hotshot overdose of heroin with some new designer drug for the flavor.

The investigation takes Wahlberg to a favorite eating establishment of the Irish American's called Jimmy Quinn's. Several generations of Reagans have gone there to drink and dine. The victim worked there.

Tom Selleck has to deal with an overzealous boy scout of a new officer who keeps getting transferred. His latest captain is Robert Wuhl who isn't thrilled with him either. I can't imagine working with such a Dudley Doo right myself. Still young Jefferson White does raise concerns and some fears he might be a snitch.

Good episode here.
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Barn Burning (1980 TV Short)
5/10
Ready to bust
19 July 2019
A young Tommy Lee Jones stars in this short subject production of Barn Burning based on a William Faulkner short story. The film was shot in Faulkner country in Mississippi.

Jones is a sharecropper and an abusive man to his wife and kids. When the planter whom he crops with has a carpet damaged he sues Jones for damage.

These folks are the quintessence of rural poverty not the proverbial pot to do number one in.

Jones feels he's being taken advantage of. But he's got plans.

Jones is great with the mark of stardom on him. The rest of the cast made of local players considerably less so.

For Tommy Lee Jones fans.
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Clarence Darrow (1974 TV Movie)
8/10
Best Darrow
19 July 2019
Henry Fonda brings his Broadway one man show to the screen in this taping of Clarence Darrow. It is in my humble opinion the best Clarence Darrow out there. That would include Spencer Tracy, Jack Lemmon, and Jason Robards from the three Inherit The Wind films and Orson Welles from Compulsion.

The play is taken from Irving Stone's Clarence Darrow For The Defense which I read years ago. I recognized many lines from the book. Stone as author wrote uncritical hagiographies and this was no exception.

Many cases are covered including some forgotten today. Before doing criminal cases primarily Darrow was a lawyer for organized labor. The audience might be fascinated to learn about those.

Fonda keeps our attention all the way. This film comes highly recommended.
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Law & Order: Immortal (2010)
Season 20, Episode 21
7/10
Exploited beyond belief
19 July 2019
This Law And Order story starts out with the stabbing of one cousin by another in a family dispute. But when Jeremy Sisto and Anthony Anderson investigate further the story is beyond belief.

Both cousins had a grandfather who apparently had magic DNA in his cells. Not as magic Michael Clarke Duncan had in The Green Mile, but the code in that DNA might be the cure for---everything.

The family still at the old homestead in the New Jersey woods lives below the poverty level. Some pharmaceutical has been making money, billions off them for years.

Rapper Doug E. Doug is our defendant and he's ably defended by Seth Gilliam. One of the witnesses is PI Jacinto Taras Riddick who is a mean one, a former cop who got kicked off the force for brutality. No doubt about that when you see him in action.

It's a tough case for Linus Roache and your sympathy ain't with the DA in this one.
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The Oldest Living Graduate (1980 TV Movie)
7/10
Cantankerous Old Cuss
19 July 2019
So much of live TV has disappeared that we are fortunate to have this video of The Oldest Living Graduate. This play was done from a theater at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and Henry Fonda leads an impressive cast.

Set in 1980 Fonda though he does not realize it yet is the oldest living graduate of a Texas military academy. Several deaths during the World Wars and by simple attrition have made it so.

Fonda's son George Grizzard has plans for developing some acreage on their land that Fonda doesn't want touched. He also has plans for a media event to celebrate his dad's survival. Both Fonda doesn't want to hear about.

The story is a touching one and Public Television assembled a great cast to support Fonda and Grizzard.

This one should not be missed.
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5/10
Strange Music Indeed
18 July 2019
The team of Robert Wright and Chet Forrest adapted the music of Edvard Grieg into a biographical operetta as they later did for Alexander Borodin in Kismet and it ran on Broadway for 860 performances in 1944-46.

In many ways the film shows imagination. The location cinematography in Norway and Denmark is spectacular and obviously influenced by the Sound Of Music as are the musical numbers. There's an animated sequence involving In The Hall Of The Mountain King that is most imaginative.

But the pace is that of escargot. The actors get no real direction at all. Some movie scene stealers like Edward G. Robinson and Oscar Homolka and Robert Morley have their own bag of tricks which are used.

The plot is simply promising composer Edvard Grieg is forbidden marriage to Christina Schollin by her rich dad Robert Morley. He marries Florence Henderson who sings well and probably was hoping she'd break into the big screen stardom after years on the Brady Bunch. The bad reviews Song Of Norway got killed any chance of that. Schollin who never married becomes Grieg's patron instead.

Toralv Maurstad is a big name in Norwegian cinema. But this also killed his career for international stardom.

But if you like the music of Grieg, Song of Norway is for you.
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Galaxy Quest (1999)
7/10
Brilliant sci-fi satire
18 July 2019
I'm here to say that this film is Tim Allen's best work, big screen or small. Galaxy Quest is a wonderful satire of the Star Trek phenomenon. We have to remember that these people are very good actors and have succeeded in making many believe they are real. If they didn't we wouldn't have Trekkie conventions.

Tim Allen was the star of a Star Trek like show that has inspired cult like devotion and he and the cast make appearances. It's a living and it does keep their names before the public. Of course some have problems getting cast because casting directors won't see them in anything else.

Allen takes it as it comes, the other regulars who include Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Darryl Mitchell, Tony Shalhoub, and Sam Rockwell have varying reactions to the cult status they have achieved.

But in a system far far away some aliens who have monitored the old series from earth and it's 17 years since it ended. It's taken that long to reach these aliens. They are in some deep trouble as an aggressive other group of aliens is trying to take them over and/or exterminate them.

They send for the Galaxy Quest crew figuring this bunch of warriors are who can help. They even have a ship modeled to the spaceship from the show.

The concept of entertainment and make believe is unknown to these people. And the regulars have to recall their episodes to make it through.

I saw this in theater when it came out and loved it. It's fresh today as it was then because these Trekkie type conventions are still with us.

Great job by Tim Allen and the cast.
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Pearson (2019– )
6/10
Grease to the wheels of government
18 July 2019
I see that 10 episodes of the series Pearson have been ordered including the original one introducing us to the characters of which Gina Torres is the chief.

Torres is a carryover character from the series Suits and she has forsaken the world of law for the world of politics. She takes a job with the city administration in Chicago which even today is a byword for garden variety corruption. Of course those involved don't think of themselves as corrupt. Merely applying grease to the wheels of government to make it work.

No city problems exist in a vacuum everything is interrelated in some unexpected ways at time. But Torres as Jessica Pearson is a smart woman, all she has to do is learn the territory.

The introductory episodes give the viewer enough plot strands that makes one curious for more.

I liked the concept, hope Pearson succeeds.
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Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: Net Worth (2017)
Season 18, Episode 14
6/10
A prince of Wall Street
17 July 2019
One fine morning the squad gets a visit from MIssy Peregrym who tells them she was raped. She's a stockbroker and that profession is kind of male dominated. In any event at a party she's raped by a Gordon Gekko type played by Tate Donovan.

Donovan is one powerful figure and few are willing to help Peregrym because no one wants to offend Donovan.

It's a tall order for the DA and the SVU squad to nail this guy. Peregrym gets solid moral support from Mariska Hargitay.

Good performance by Peregrym as the victim.
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The Virginian: Last Grave at Socorro Creek (1969)
Season 7, Episode 16
6/10
He did't deserve his fate.
17 July 2019
The Virginian runs into Larry Ward an old friend with a couple of others. But later on he finds Ward lynched and accused of killing another man whom he had sold cattle to ostensibly.

The folks at Socorro Creek the town this all takes place in supposed to be a peaceable place with not even a town marshal. James Drury questions both Lonny Chapman and Steve Ihnat who were with Ward and they both are mighty suspicious characters.

But the biggest problem he faces is young Kevin Coughlin, Ward's son who wants some payback for his father's lynching. A different problem is Ellen Burstyn the widow who has a thing developing for Drury.

In the end we find that Ward was not exactly a saint, but certainly did not deserve his fate. Also look for a good performance from Jocelyn Brando as the widow of the man Ward supposedly killed.
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6/10
Like a child in wild anticipation
16 July 2019
Get the bath towels out for Sentimental Journey. This story has been remade twice and the tear factor didn't diminish with any incarnation. This was the second of 4 films that Maureen O'Hara made with John Payne.

Payne is a theatrical director and O'Hara his wife who has developed a serious heart condition. They decide to adopt a child Connie Marshall and then O'Hara dies. Her spirit however still makes some appearances for Marshall and soon enough for Payne.

Sentimental Journey is kind of a children's version of Maytime or Smilin' Through with the next world reaching out to comfort the survivors in this world. O'Hara is ethereally beautiful in her role. William Bendix has a nice supporting part. It must have cost Darryl Zanuck a big wad of cash to get Bendix over from Paramount.

You won't watch this one without shedding a bucket of tears.
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5/10
Don't cry for us Argentina
16 July 2019
Had this been done over at 20th Century Fox which was at this time doing a lot of Latin American based musicals we'd have seen technicolor the better to show off Maureen O'Hara's fiery red tresses. Darryl Zanuck would have gotten a better score out of Rodgers&Hart than what was written for RKO.

The threadbare plot consists of a couple of American cowboys in Argentina who are played by James Ellison and Buddy Ebsen. Ellison fails to get some oil leases from Don Robert Barrat. But he might be able to get both daughter Maureen O'Hara and a prize race horse from Barrat if he learns the customs of the gaucho culture and plays his cards right.

Sadly Maureen doesn't sing and Ellison doesn't try. Ebsen has some nice numbers with Diosa Costello and there are a few ensemble numbers. Why didn't they get a singing leading man God only knows.

They Met In Argentina doesn't stack up to what was being done with the same material over at 20th Century Fox.
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The Professor (2018)
8/10
The worst news
16 July 2019
I'm surprised this film is not better known or has gotten more recognition. It certainly fits right in with Johnny Depp's credo of ever expanding his acting range even if the box office doesn't bring the greatest results.

Depp stars in the title role of The Professor and he plays a middle age academic who has been given the worst news. He has stage four pancreatic cancer and his life span now is indefinite.

Depp was always a cautious and conservative academic. Things seem to be getting away from him on all fronts. His wife Rosemarie DeWitt announces she's been having an affair and his daughter Odessa Young comes out as a lesbian. He's supportive, the wife isn't.

With nothing now to lose he decides to make some changes. Those in his English Literature class who are just looking to fill out their academic requirements for a grade. All he wants now is some serious students to share his knowledge now. And he expands the setting of the classroom now, meeting in bars, etc. He tries smoking cigarettes and some serious drinking and other endeavors his conservative soul forbade him till now.

My favorite is when one of the students gives him some oral sex. The wish dream of every gay man who was crushing out on Johnny Depp since 21 Jump Street.

Depp does a lot of reassessing. You do that when you feel the grim reaper close.

This is a really good film and has to rank in there with one Depp's best on the big screen.

And if he's cash short he can always do another Jack Sparrow film.
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6/10
Wanna buy a Ball?
15 July 2019
The teaming of zany Joe Penner and Lucille Ball might incongruous to many the two actually make this RKO comedy work. Though how Lucy ever got hitched to Penner will be one of life's mysteries.

Penner is a dumb as a brick bank clerk who spills the beans on his bank's security measures. When its robbed Penner is thought of as an inside man. Not only that, wouldn't you know it the bank robbers hitch their getaway car to Penner and Ball's new trailer which they just won in a contest. Penner's asleep inside and soon enough the three crooks discover they have a hostage if needed.

Then to Top it all off Penner and the crooks get involved with June Travis who is running away from home to marry Fritz Feld, a no account phony count from some mittel Europa country. And Lucy hooks up with Feld rushing to claim his bride.

The laughs come fast and furious inthis comedy although Penner is something of an acquired taste. He died young and who knows how he might have done on television.

Tom Kennedy who matches Penner in wit and IQ is always a favorite. One of the dumber crooks and/or cops on the big screen when he's on the other side. He's my favorite here.

Lots of laughs in this ancient chestnut.
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6/10
Star Quality Eschewed
15 July 2019
I would not normally think of Baby Face Harrington as a Raoul Walsh type film as Walsh directed action/adventure films with some of Hollywood's leading actors in the lead.

Star quality eschewed in this 1935 release from MGM's B picture unit. A whole flock of familiar character players populate the cast of this one led by Charles Butterworth who plays his usual droll milquetoast character.

Through an innocent mistake Butterworth takes money from skinflint Donald Meek and his wife's uncle Eugene Pallette who is the Chief of Police has to arrest him. When one of the notorious Nat Pendleton's gang, Stanley Fields is arrested Fields breaks jail and Butterworth goes with him and now folks think maybe this mild mannered clerk might be a criminal mastermind.

Butterworth's wife Una Merkel stands by her man. But that doesn't stop the Snidely Whiplash type villain Harvey Stephens moving in.

All those people in this cast makes this almost required viewing. You will not be disappointed.
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The Kid (II) (2019)
6/10
Pat and Billy again
15 July 2019
Billy The Kid is once again our protagonist in another retelling of the tale. Only this time the story of a brother and sister orphaned on the New Mexico frontier have their situation cross with last days of Billy The Kid.

Ethan Hawke is Pat Garrett and Dane DeHaan is Billy who seems to have drawn a lot from what Emilio Estevez did in the Young Guns movies.

Brother and sister Jake Schur and Leila George are on the run after Schur shoots his abusive father who had just killed his mother. They are running from Chris Pratt who is his uncle who wants vengeance on his relations.

It's their fate for the two kids to find shelter in a place Billy The Kid uses as a hideout and he comes there with a posse close behind.

Afterward Pratt catches up with the kids and takes George prisoner. It's then up to young Schur to decide who can help, Pat Garrett or William Bonney,

This is a decent well done western. Hawke makes a properly heroic Garrett, but the recklessness of Billy draws Schur in. Actor Vincent D'Onofrio late of Law And Order Criminal Intent directs this with a brisk style and he has a small part as another sheriff.

I'm sure The Kid will not be the last the big screen sees of Pat and Billy.
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Law & Order: Apocrypha (1993)
Season 4, Episode 7
6/10
Church or cult?
14 July 2019
A bomb goes off in a parking garage and the woman who was planting the bomb gets blown up herself. Jerry Orbach and Chris Noth determine that she was a member of an extreme fundamentalist Christian church.

Church or as some would put it a cult? A question that philosophy classes debate endlessly today. So do the courts.

Michael Moriarty and Jill Hennessy are all for charging cult leader Sam Robards as providing the marching orders. Did the late bomber have any real choice in the thrall of a charismatic leader?

It's a knotty issue revolving around freedom of religion and her free will to leave the cult. Robards is quite the good choice for this role.

This is an episode that will have you thinking.
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The Virginian: Dark Corridor (1968)
Season 7, Episode 10
7/10
Not till the very end
14 July 2019
The Virginian is taking the long way back to Shiloh when he finds an unconscious and mute Judith Lang fallen from a horse, an assumption he makes seeing her riding habit. As he's going to visit old friend Paul Winchell who lives a hermit like existence in the mountains he takes her there.

At first they think she might be deaf and dumb. But when she does regain her voice it's hysterical amnesia. James Drury may be a ranch foreman, but he proves to be a good mental health therapist as well.

John Smith late of Laramie is also here hanging around to see what breaks. We don't find out exactly who he is until the end.

Very nice episode.
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9/10
Heartbreaking episode
13 July 2019
The SVU squad in this one has a real heartbreaking case here of an adopted child abandoned by his mother when she goes through a breakdown crisis.

Father John Benjamin Hickey's job keeps him traveling and his wife Jodie Markell just loses it. Little Duncan Nicholson is a hyperactive kid who is also diabetic and the squad races against time to find him.

What a pair of low lives husband and wife Mark Boone, Jr. and Rosanna Arquette are. These are the two Markell just gave her kid to.

This episode rates high because of the separate interrogation scenes the squad has with Boone and Arquette. Fine acting with these two playing some stomach turning characters.

Best of all is Mariska Hargitay with Markell at the end. Her regret is that there are no good alternatives here.
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Rawhide: Rio Salado (1961)
Season 4, Episode 1
7/10
Rowdy and his dad
13 July 2019
This beginning episode for season 4 of Rawhide has Clint Eastwood meeting up with his father at Rio Salada in Texas which Eric Fleming has designated as the meeting place for those who want to make another drive.

Rowdy Yates had told his fellow drovers that his father had died years ago. But as it turns out he just deserted the family.

Over the years Tom Tully has truly degenerated into a rather loathsome character looking to make a big killing. He does so in every sense of the word by shooting Mexican bandit Carlos Romero in the back for a $5000.00 reward.

Tully really steals this episode, he's quite the lowlife and Clint is having a lot of trouble dealing with it.

A good start to another Rawhide season.
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Silent Tongue (1993)
4/10
Two Irishmen out west with their kids
13 July 2019
Silent Tongue is one strange western, a bit too strange I think for many. It concerns a pair of Irish emigres to the west. Horse trader Richard Harris and his son River Phoenix and Alan Bates and his son Dermot Mulroney. Bates also has two daughters from a Kiowa woman, Sheila Tousey and Tantoo Cardinal and Bates is a medicine show proprietor.

A year back Harris purchased Cardinal as a bride for Phoenix for some horses he broke Among Kiowas that is SOP but as this is a racial thing we're supposed to be outraged. Anyway Cardinal has died in childbirth and Phoenix has gone bonkers refusing to bury her or burn her on a pyre in the Kiowa custom.

Harris purchases Tousey now in the hope she can snap River back to reality. But Mulroney who has a more than brotherly interest in his half sisters sets out after Harris with Bates in tow. And Cardinal now a spirit is busy wreaking havoc on all because she can't pass over.

It all gets kind of weird, not exactly traditional western fare. Best in the film is Bates who has a great part as a thoroughly dissolute character in the west. This was River Phoenix's last released film, I wish his swan song had been My Own Private Idaho.

Definitely not for everyone's tastes.
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7/10
4th incarnation
13 July 2019
And for its fourth incarnation unless you count What Price Hollywood, the story of A Star Is Born is getting its fourth remake. Back in the 70s when it was made for a third time by Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson the setting was changed from the motion picture industry to the music industry.

It remains so in this film which stars Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. Cooper is a country/western singer who is starting the downside of his career and he meets a young aspiring performer Lady Gaga who works in a hotel restaurant and has just about given up her aspirations for a singing career. But when Cooper and his entourage hear her she becomes a project for him.

If you've seen any or all of the other A Star Is Borns than you'll know some of the key scenes already. The plot follows the same path it did with the other three versions.

The beauty of this and the other films is that the story and the performances in all of them are so good that even if you have seen the other versions the film still grabs you. If you haven't seen other versions so much the better.

Lady Gaga was hired as a singer primarily, but she does show enough acting chops to warrant a nomination for Best Actress, matched by Cooper for Best Actor and Sam Elliott as Cooper's manager for Best Supporting Actor. A Star Is Born also was nominated for Best Picture and a flock of other nominations as well. It won for the original song Shallow.

I doubt this will be the last remake, but it will do well until another in the next 10 to 40 years comes along.
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Blue Bloods: Blackout (2018)
Season 9, Episode 4
6/10
The Reagans have their duty to do
13 July 2019
Concerning the story line that involved Donnie Wahlberg and Marissa Ramirez I remember some years ago I stayed in someone's apartment just as their homicide victim does. I was renting for a week someone else's apartment while visiting NYC. This woman sadly rents from the wrong apartment owner. Ramirez has good instincts on this one.

Will Estes is having problems with Vanessa Ray going undercover. Now he's both a sergeant and her fiance and he's got a different perspective on the relationship.

Bridget Moynahan is feeling sorry for a woman who got involved in a robbery with her punk boyfriend. Her judgment and aided and abetted by Steve Schirripa puts her into a clash with her boss.

As for Tom Selleck some distasteful duty involving a high ranking chief in the department makes for an edgy relationship between him and Robert Gormley.

There's a shocking ending to the story with Wahlberg and Ramirez regarding the perpetrator, not to be missed.
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