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A little dry, but nevertheless unsettling
This educational short focuses on how a nation can move from democracy to despotism much quicker than most people would think. It shows how injustice, income inequality, concentration of power in just a few hands, propaganda and various other factors can work to turn a healthy democracy into a despotic, even fascist, state. It's a little dry and somewhat simplistic, but the parallels between 1946, when this was made, and today are, to put it mildly, unsettling. A lot of the conditions this film shows as helping to lead to despotism already exist in this country. If we don't watch out, it could well happen to us.
Devil Riders (1943)
Better-than-average Crabbe PRC western, but not by much
"Billy Carson" (Buster Crabbe) helps a stage line beset by outlaws who are secretly working for a crooked businessman who wants to et rid of it so it won't interfere with his plans to buy valuable land along a proposed railroad route. Not quite as cheesy or inept as the usual Crabbe PRC western, and Patty McCarty is several notches above the the usual PRC heroine in both looks and talent, but it's still PRC, so you know pretty much what to expect, and ;you pretty ;much get it.
Legenda o Kolovrate (2017)
Bit over the top, but good action scenes, hot women--all ruined by ATROCIOUS dubbing
Well made, with good action, story isn't difficult to follow, nicely photographed, acting is a bit raggedy but not distractingly so. It's a bit over the top, but that's to be expected from this kind of film and it doesn't really detract from it.
What DOES detract from it, though, is the absolutely horrific dubbing. The "actors" sound like they just woke up, are having a cup of coffee and reading off a teleprompter. There's not even an attempt at any kind of convincing acting; it sounds like they're ordering a Jumbo Jack from the plastic clown at Jack in the Box. It's hard to take the lead actor seriously when he sounds like Spicoli in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High". The awful dubbing ruined whal was otherwise a not-bad movie for me. They would have been better off just leaving in the Russian language and putting up subtitles.
What a mess.
A gunfighter returns to his home town from the Civil War with a useless left arm, having been shot during the war. He's back to help the sheriff, an old friend, hang a convicted murderer, also an old friend, whose family has vowed to break him out of jail.
Aside from the novelty of a one-armed gunfighter, there's nothing really special to set this series apart from any of the numerous western series of the time. This episode has a good cast--James Coburn as the one to be hanged in the morning, Royal Dano as the sheriff, Hank Patterson as the elder of the family and a very young Jim Hutton, who has a few lines at the opening of the episode before he gets killed off. Unfortunately, the writing by series creator Harry Julian Fink is trite and predictable, and director Richard Whorf does a pedestrian job with what little he's given to work with. Star David McLean doesn't really impress; he's OK, but that's about it.
The series only lasted one season, so I guess it's safe to say that it didn't get much better than this initial episode.
Fort Massacre (1958)
Good twist on familiar theme
The survivors of a cavalry patrol ambushed by Apaches try to ake their way through dangerous territory to an awaiting wagon train, all the while trying not to get wiped out by pursuing Indians and riven by tensions within the unit.
It's a fairly familiar theme in westerns, but director Joseph Newamn does quite a lot with it. The script by Martin Goldsmith is tight and tough, the cinematography by Carl Guthrie of the territory around around Kanab, Utah, and the deserts of Arizona and New Mexico are breathtaking, far better than you would expect in a "B" western. The performances are universally, excellent, although Forrest Tucker's tough Irish sergeant--a role he has played before--keeps losing his Irish accent, but Joel McCrea does a top-notch job as a sergeant who has to assume command after all the officers are killed, and he doesn't want the job--partly because he doesn't. particularly like most of the en in his unit. Veteran western performers Denver Pyle, Robert Ostrerloh and Rayford Barnes turn in their usual solid performances, but a standout is John Russell--soon to come into his own in his own western series, "Lawman" (1958)--who plays a college-educated private who joined the army to "find himself" but doesn't particularly like what he's found.
Some surprising themes are dealt with that you wouldn't expect to see in a "B western, such as racism, introspection and "heroic" characters who may not be quite as heroic as they appear. Combine this with some well-staged action scenes and you've got a crackerjack little western on your hands.
Take the A-Train (1941)
What a great little short!
I haven't seen all that many Soundies, and this is one of the best. The Delta Rhythm Boys--whom I had heard of but never seen before--are terrific, the dancing is great, the girls are absolutely stunning, the harmonies are perfect, everyone looks like they're having a hell of a good time, and you can't help but have one too while you're watching this. Highly recommended.
Of Cash and Hash (1955)
Tired, slapdash and unfunny
Notwithstanding Shemp's attempts to inject some life into i this sloppy, hastily thrown together short is definitely NOT one of their better ones. Columbia was phasing out its shorts department--it shut it down altogethr just three years after this was made--and wasn't putting any effort at all into the Stooges' products. This short consists mostly of painfully obvious stock footage from Shivering Sherlocks (1948) with some cheaply shot new footage thrown in the mix. don't waste your time on this and watch the original instead.
Precious Cargo (2016)
This rancid, festering carcass of a movie--for lack of a better word--was put together by 25 PRODUCERS??? 25??? They should have spent less money on producers and more on writers. Or directors. Or ANYONE who knew what they were doing.
There's nothing I can say about this . . . thing . . . that hasn't been said already. I watched it for about 15 minutes and decided to pop it out and watch a real, honest-to-goodness, professional, well-written, intelligently acted, solidly produced film by comparison--so I put in "Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol".
It was WAY better.
Pretty chintzy, even for a George Montgomery western
George Montgomery didn't make particularly good westerns--like a lot of other western stars he was tall, good-looking,rode a horse fairly well, and was a strapping physical specimen, but he jut didn't that "something" that set him apart from the rest of the crowd. He did make a few better-than-average westerns--1951's "The Texas Rangers" fits that description--but for the most part his stuff was for the lower half of a double bill, ceaplly ade in black and white for low-rent outfit like Allied Artists or some independent ocmpany, and one was pretty much like the next. THere are two things that set this one apart, however--(1) it's in color and (2) it has Lola Albright.
Like many of his westerns, it's cheaply shot, even though it's in color, and is cursed with a surfeit of stock footage, km.ch of which doesn't match the "new" footage. Fortunately, the new footage also contains Lola Albrught, who, even in a long skirt and loose blouse, is incredibly sexy, with that smoky, almost growling voice of hers in full loom, and she's atually thle best part orf the picture. The plot is one that has been done a million times before--white boy's parents die, he is raised by Indians, complications ensue--and better, but Albright is pretty much the oly reason to watch this. Stony-faced Charles Horvath plays--as he has done many times before--a villainous Indian warrior (although he's actually Hungarian), veteran character actor Ralplh Moody plays--as he has many times brfore--a kindly old Indian chief, George Waggner directed and co-wrote the script (and didn't do particularly well i either department).
The film's cheapness shows through at every turn, and overall it's just a fair way to spend an hour or so, but not much more than that.
The Texas Rangers (1951)
Probbly Montgomery's best western
I was never really a fan of George Montgomery's westerns; they were pretty cookie-cutter jobs, one looking pretty much like the next one., cheap black-and-white somewhat shoddy productions with lame scripts and made by mediocre and uninspired director.
this, however, is WAY above his usual product. It's beautifully shot--I never thought SuperCinecolor could look so good--with a terrific cast of great western veterans, such as John Dehner, Ian McDonald, Douglas Kennedy, Noah Beery, Jock Mahoney, Myron Healey, to name just a few--and in Phil Karlson he had probably the best director he ever worked with. Karlson was known for his fast-paced, right, action-filled westerns that moved like lightning, and this one doesn't diappoint. Montgomery is more animated than he usually is--as a director himself maybe he realized just how good Karlson was and put more heart and effort into his performance than he usually did, Whate3ver the case, this is one of Montgomery's best westerns--fast, a lot of action and not slowed down too terribly by the usually hammy Gale Storm as his love interest.
If you're looking for a history lesson, look somewhere else--this isn't a documentary. If you're looking for an interesting, satisfying western with good action, beautiful color and spirited performances, this is one for you.
Saving Christmas (2014)
Would turn Jesus into an atheist
You have to give Kirk Cameron credit for consistency. Every movie he makes is consistently worse than the one that came before it. That's a not inconsiderable accomplishment; even Edward D. Wood Jr. and Uwe Boll have made movies that didn't make you want to rush for the nearest bathroom. That's one more goal Kirk can shoot for. Unfortunately for him, he didn't reach it with this one.
Inept at every conceivable level--and even at some that were previously inconceivable--I wouldn't recommend seeing this just for the laughs (there are plenty of them there, although it's not supposed to be a comedy--I don't think it is, anyway. It's hard to tell). It reminded me of what a friend of mine said not along after he got hit in the cojones by a line drive while playing baseball: "It may have looked funny to you, but it hurt too much to laugh for me".
Now I know how he feels.
Charming little "generation gap" story
George Neise is an an ambitious corporate executive who comes up with a plan to retire--forcibly or otherwise--all employees aged 65 or over, i order to make way for new blood. One "old-timer", however, isn't quite ready to hang up his guns just yet, and decides to fight fire with fire.
Charles Coburn, as the would-be retire, is quite charming as the feisty Tom Carey, who isn't going down without a fight. Neise, a prolific character actor who specialized in playing smarmy corporate drone-types, does a good as "the man with the plan", and as an extra added attraction, the spectacular Joi Lansing has a small but memorable part. All in all, a cute little story,
Cavalier of the West (1931)
Good cast overcomes somewhat choppy presentation
Harry Caey is an army captain whose wastrel kid brother, a lieutenant, is transferred to his post, and they find themselves competing for the same beautiful Mexican girl, when the brother gets mixed up in a murder involving a saloon girl, in addition to trouble with a crooked cantina/gambling-house onwer and a gang of rustlers.
Carey;l is an undeniable presence, and entirely believable as a grizzled cavalry captain, Kane Richmond is cast against type as the crousing, drunken brother and Gabby Hayes--billed here is George Hayes--is terrific as an Irish-born sheriff. In addition, there are two absolutely stunning Mexican actresses, Carmen LaRoux and Christina Montt, playing the girl Carey and his brothers are in love with and the saloon girl, respectively, and both do first-rate jobs. Ted Adams, of course, does his usual fine job of villainy.
Where the film falters is in its presentation. The writing by director John P. McCarthy leaves a lot to be desired, and his direction is choppy and erratic. There is a dearth of action until near the end, when there is a not-bad shootout between the cavalry and the rustler gang.
All things considered, I'd rate this independent (Weiss Bros.) "B" western just a bit below average, but Carey's presence, and the two beautiful Mexican women, made me give it an extra star.Worth a look.
Here Comes Honey Boo Boo (2012)
How in God's name did this rancid pile of vomitus last 5 years?
The fact that this testament to the dangers of inbreeding managed to last for five years is a shameful blot on American society that can never be erased. This show has absolutely no redeeming features whatsoever, at all, period. Watching it for more than five minutes is an exercise in masochism that would be unbearable to any sentient human being with more than 3 functioning brain cells, which of course leaves out both the cast and the audience. This show makes "Duck Dynasty" look like a MENSA meeting. The fact that it lasted on the air for five years goes a long way toward explaining how Donald Trump managed to get elected President.
Unfortunately, IMDb doesn't have a rating of 0--which would actually still be a higher rating than it deserves. Abominable.
Slapstick (Of Another Kind) (1982)
If this isn't the worst movie ever made . . .
. . . it will do until that one comes along. A complete botch job, in every conceivable aspect. Lewis mugs more than usual, which is a stupendous accomplishment, and the movie looks so cheap it gives "cheesy" a bad name. How a major talent like Madeline Kahn got roped into doing this steaming pile is beyond me; I guess she must have needed to pay some bills, since that would be the only even remotely logical explanation. I've emitted beer farts that weren't as rancid as this mess is. A total misfire, embarrassing to watch, maddening to think that they actually were able to find the $4.19 it cost to make this thing.
Avoid at all costs.
The Rider of the Law (1935)
Scrappy Steele vs. Bandit Gang
A tenderfoot arrives in a tough cowtown that's being terrorized by a gang headed by the vicious Tolliver brothers. He finds himself on the receiving end of the gang's ire when two of them are killed and he is blamed for it. However, it turns out that the tenderfoot's feet may not be all that tender.
The film packs a lot of ridin' and shootin' into less thlan an hour. Steele ie scrappy as always, Si Jenks provides comedy relief as a braggart who takes on the job of town marshal thinking it's an easy way to make money, Gertrude Messenger is pretty but doesn't have much to do, and everything gets tied up neatly at the end. It's about par for Steele's westerns for Supreme Pictures. Competently directed by his father Robert Bradbury, it's nothing special but a harmless enough way to pass an hour.
Lackluster mini-western, but Hayden stalwart as always
Sterling Hayden plays the commander of a fort in Apache country with a major problem on his hands: he has captured the son of an Apache war chief, but the Apaches have attacked a wagon transporting the wives f the fort's garrison to another post, and the chief says that if Hayden doesn't return his son and give the Apaches 50,000 rounds of ammunition by 6:00 a.m. the next morning, he will kill all the women. Hayden, for his part, threatens to hang the chief's son if the women aren't returned by that same time. A battle of wills ensues.
This episode of "Schlitz Playhouse" is not one of its better ones, despite a good cast--in addition to Hayden, there's Walter Coy,James Seay and Jim Brown, all veterans of numerous western films. If you're looking for "action", there isn't any. There's tension between Hayden and the hostages' husbands, but that's about it. The production values are minimal, and--at least in the print I saw--the photography is so poor you often can't see who's talking; you only know by recognizing their voice.
Hayden is authoritative and no-nonsense, as usual, but he's done this kind of thing 1000 times before and really doesn't put anything new or different into it. The cast tries hard, but the script is trite hackwork and the "direction" by Roy Kellino is mechanical and by-the-numbers, and the show ends pretty much the way you thought it would.
Worth a look maybe if you're a Sterling Hayden fan, but otherwise it's nothing special.
The Marshall of Trail City (1950)
Failed pilot--for good reason
Wild Bill Elliott plays a rancher who reluctantly takes the job of marshal of a tough cowtown. This was a pilot for a proposed series for Eliott that was aimed squarely at kids, and it shows.The script by veteran wrirer Harold Shumate is sloppy and juvenile; he has done much, much better work. The reliable Dub Taylor plays Elliott's sidekick "Cannonball" and he manages to bring some life to the goings-on, but otherwise the supporting performances are uniformly poor and the photography is dark and muddy. Production values are rock-bottom, even for an early '50s TV show, and its cheapness shows in every frame. The few "action" scenes are poorly done and there's a particularly inept fight scene between Elliott and a former pal who is now a wanted criminal.
There's a reason this wasn't picked up as a series. It's poor all around and an embarrassment to those who fondly remember Elliott's great westerns for Republic. After this misfire he went back to making westerns for Monogram and Allied Artists, all of which are far better than this. Maybe worth a look just for historical purposes, since--as far as I can tell--ttis was Elliott's only appearance on TV. Otherwise, don't bother.
Lively retelling of the old Mark Twain story
Bright, fun musical comedy version of the Mark Twin story about a modern-day mechanic who finds himself transported back to the medieval time of King Arthur. Crosby is his usual relaxed, charming self, Rhonda Fleming has seldom if ever looked so ravishing, William Bendix is hilarious as Crosby's dim-witted sidekick, and Cedric Hardwicke seems to be having the time of his life singing and dancing. The songs are catchy, the Technicolor photography is spectacular, and it's altogether a lot of fun. Highly recommended.
Jiggers, My Wife (1946)
Shemp tries, but nothing works
Tired, forced comedy, obvious and predictable at every turn. Shemp and the rest of the cast have done this kind of thing a thousand times before--and better-- and they give it "the old college try", but the script by Zion Myers is pure by-the-numbers hackwork and producer Jules White does his usual terrible "everything but the kitchen sink" style of directing. It looks cheap, it IS cheap and it doesn't work at all. Not worth your time.
The Quiet Gun (1957)
Not what you'd expect--at all
To tell you the truth, I really wasn't expecting much out of this picture. William F. Claxton was an undistinguished director. Regal Films was 20th Century-Fox's low-rent "B" unit, and I didn't know anything about writer Eric Norden's work. The main reason I watched it was because it had three of my favorite western actors--Forrest Tucker, Jim Davis and Lee Van Cleef.
Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be a well-written, tightly directed, extremely well acted, solid little "B" western with a lot to recommend it. Norden's script is thoughtful and thought-provoking, showing the consequences of mob rule and how "morality" can be manipulated by those who neither have it nor care anything about it. Tucker, who had a tendency to be blustery, gives a very controlled, sympathetic performance as a sheriff whose love for his friend's wife conflicts with his duty as a lawman. and has to go up against a town which is basically one big lynch mob. Davis actually doesn't have all that much screen time, but as always makes the most of what he has. Claxton's direction is tight and controlled, and there are several plot twists that are nicely handled.
A surprising, intelligent, well-made little "B" western, it's not full of gun-blazing action--although there is some--but is a good story told well. Highly recommended.
Shoot to Kill (1947)
Surprisingly effective little Lippert thriller
This low-budget thriller about the wife of a crooked Assistant District Attorney and a reporter who sets out to expose him has some effective moments and several good performances, notably by veteran character actor Charles Trowbridge as the DA and the usually bland Edmund MacDonald as the ADA. Russell Wade, as the reporter, doesn't comer off too badly--usually he's even blander than MacDonald--and Luana Walters turns in a serviceable job as the DA's wife, but it's really Trowgbridge's and MacDonald's show, and they they do well with it. Prolific "B" director William Berke keeps things moving swiftly, and despite some weak supporting performances and a few large-ish plot holes, overall this is a very entertaining little"B".
My Name Is Earl: Pinky (2009)
Very funny, very sweet, very touching
SPOILER: During a summer stay at a lake resort when they were both children, Randy meets "Pinky"--"the only girl who ever loved me"-- a cute little critter who set her sights on him, and they had a "fling". However, before they could "consummate" their love with a romantic kiss on a bridge at night, Pinky disappeared, leaving Randy broken-hearted, disappointed and bitter.
Twenty years later Randy finds out that Earl was actually responsible for Pinky's disappearance. Furthermore, he finds out that "Pinky" was actually Joy. He demands that Earl make up for his breaking up his and "Pinky"'s budding romance.
In addition to being a very funny episode, it is also probably the sweetest one of the series--not sappy or treacly sweet, but it has a genuinely heartfelt, touching sweetness about the power and at the same time the innocence of a first love, greatly helped by John Prine's haunting "Day Is Done" playing in the background, which is the absolutely perfect song for this episode.
Bernie Kopell has a small but hilarious part as the owner of the resort where Joy and Randy met so many years before.
All in all, I think this is just about the finest episode of this wonderfully quirky series. If you haven't seen it yet, be sure to. You won't be sorry.
Adam-12: Million Dollar Buff (1971)
Interesting stories, and Lindsay Wagner's debut
Big, hulking Leo Gordon was a bad guy "to the bone". He terrorized, beat up and generally put the fear of God into scores of Hollywood's "toughest" screen heroes over the years. And it came naturally to him--he was an ex-convict who spent time in San Quentin Prison for armed robbery and once took several bullets in a shootout with police, He turned his life around, though, and eventually became one of the most familiar and in-demand villains in the business. He also turned into a first-rate writer, with several screenplays and a lot of TV series scripts to his credit. This episode of "Adam-12" was one of them--he wrote more than 20 altogether--and it's a good one.
Gordon wrote himself a good part, too, as a retiree who is a police "buff" who turns his fascination with police work into a hobby, and winds up making a nuisance of himself and actually putting himself and others in danger by showing up at the scene of crimes--he has a police scanner in his car--and inserting himself into Reed's and Malloy's cases.
The second story is about a woman who pulls the "palm switch" at jewelry stores, surreptitiously stealing expensive jewelry and replacing them with cheap copies. A young and startlingly beautiful Lindsay Wagner--this was her first TV role--plays a newly hired jewelry-store clerk who is a victim of the palm switch.
The stories move along quite well, thanks to veteran director James Nielsen, with none of the choppiness that often affected this series. Gordon does a good job of playing not a villain, per se, but a man with too much time and money on his hands who doesn't realize that he's doing more harm than good, and Wagner is charming as the nervous and somewhat timid clerk who's afraid of losing her job.
All in all, a very creditable episode.
Three Missing Links (1938)
One of their best
"Three Missing Links" ranks among the best of The Three Stooges' many shorts. They're bumbling janitors in a movie studio, and after wrecking a producer's office, they wind up getting hired as actors in a jungle epic to be shot in the wilds of darkest Africa (which was actually a sound stage in the wilds of darkest Burbank). Curly is to play a gorilla who is the love interest of the beautiful Mirabel Mirabel (the stunning but unfortunately little-known Jane Hamilton, who bears a strong resemblance to the equally stunning but better known
Virginia Mayo). Moe and Larry are cast as cavemen who are competing with Curly for the charms of Mirabel Mirabel. Problems arise when a real gorilla show up on location.
This is one of the Stooges' most consistently funny outings. It's the first one directed by their producer, Jules White, who tended to go overboard on the violence but shows a much more restrained hand here. The scenes in the producer's office are hilarious, with Curly at the top of his game and the great James C. Morton, who often served as a foil for Laurel and Hardy, serving that purpose here and doing a terrific job of it. The routines on the "set" in Africa are among the Stooges' funniest.
All in all, a first-rate entry in the long-running series and one that holds up well with repeated viewings, something that many of their later entries didn't.