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Fluff and more fluff
Just another musical excuse for Powell and Keeler but also a chance to see the choreography and dancing of Paul Draper. The dance sequence in the dress shop with Draper and Keeler would have well been worth the price of admission. Don't look for any plot of substance as this was just made for entertainment for the masses who would never see a Broadway musical but loved seeing the intricate dance numbers and there are some wonderful dance numbers here. It is too bad that Draper never got the exposure of an Astaire or Kelly as I don't believe there was a finer tap dancer anywhere.
These prewar movies were great and cheap entertainment and in this vehicle there is a nice dance sequence with Jack Oakie and Joan Blondell. Watching Oakie you can see the moves of another rising comedian, Jackie Gleason. If you watch this film on a large screen TV (77-86 inch), you get a better idea of why these fluff films were so popular. TCM runs this film every so often, try to watch or DVR it. I feel it is getting harder for today's audience (2019) to put themselves in the mindset of someone watching this film in 1936.
21 Bridges (2019)
Do you like explosions
If you take Serpico and a bit from The Gauntlet and some of the sounds from Batman--the TV series--Biff, Bang, Boom then you have the predictable 21 Bridges. There is nothing with Chadwick Boseman as a Diehard kind of cop as we all like that action hero stereotype and Boseman needs a check between Black Panther films. So this is an entertaining popcorn film and when you watch it again on HBO it will play like a new film as you just won't leave the theater with a lot of memorable moments.
Where is the dog
On MHz this was the first episode and it starts off with a man hanging from a tree but he is tied up to the tree by his outstretched arms. It is a grim crime and the duplicate of one that took place nine years earlier. This is an episode that introduces to the main character Maria Wren, a widowed cop who is raising her young son and daughter. A profiler becomes part of her team; he is Patrick and she had had a relationship with him years ago when they were in the police academy. Her boss is Hartman and is an easy-going but expects his detectives to do their job.
It takes a while to put the pieces of the puzzle together but the police believe they have a suspect. Unfortunately during the attempted take-down, Hartman is alone and is seriously wounded but will recover. What upsets me is that on the way to the arrest, Hartman has his Papillon in his car and we don't find out what happens to the dog. Not important you say, but a dead dog is an important part of the story.
The Kid Who Would Be King (2019)
45 Minutes to Explain
With the success of Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, this film should have garnered a larger audience but it didn't but it might have a chance on HBO. As a child I loved playing with toy knights and knew the story of Arthur and I would have loved this film. That was the 1950's, long before video games thus books and the imagination were the basics of entertainment. My grandchildren are mesmerized by video games with CGI graphics that even my wild imagination would have found beyond anything I could have come up with.
Forty-five minutes into the film one of the characters says, so were supposed to go on a journey, fight dragons and monsters, find a missing father, and save Britain. Yep, that's it. A bullied Alex and his even more bullied friend Bedders have to convince their school tormentors--Lance and Kaye--to join them and get to Cornwall while being pursued by fiery mounted demon knights and aided occasionally by a new student, Mertin Ambrosius Caledonensis.
The young actors are all good and add believably to an unbelievable story. The CGI effects are good and some of the scenery is beautiful. So just sit back and watch the film without negative prejudgements and try to see it through the eyes of the child you once were who believed monsters lurked in closets and under beds. Or if you have young children or grandchildren, huddle on the couch in a darkened room, munch popcorn, and enjoy the story and its messages about trust, courage, friendship, and family.
Charlie's Angels (2019)
To be fair . . .
No doubt the pitch sounded good. A remake of Charlie's Angels but with a twist: Multiple teams of angels and multiple Bosleys: one old, one female, one black.A can't miss idea. Unfortunately someone forgot you need a writer(s) to forge a plot, actors who can first act and second portray characters the audience can like. Someone needed to raise an eyebrow immediately and ask why a reboot was needed. Was there a nascent audience seeking a reboot?And if not then was there a compelling script that would bring in an audience. The 2000 reboot was a nice sort of reminiscence with John Forsythe re-voicing Charlie, and Bill Murray to remind you this was a tongue-in-cheek flick meant to entertain period. This current reboot has no joy, no fun, no acting, and no plot. If you spend $8.50 for a ticket to see this mess then you will never forgive yourself.
His Dark Materials: Lyra's Jordan (2019)
Hopefully this will honor the source material
I have been a fan of Pullman's trilogy for a very long time and was pleased when The Golden Compass was released but disappointed it didn't find an audience. The HBO first episode seems to promise a production worthy of the books. Casting looks good and Dafne Keen and Ruth Wilson should provide us with an excellent Lyra and Mrs. Coulter. I wish the writers could have given us even more context at the start of episode one. I found I had to provide my wife with additional background information during episode one but by the end of the episode she was looking forward to episode two. Pullman's book have been classified under YA fiction for decades but having "taught" the book The Golden Compass, I found students need a great deal of help with establishing context but then most found the book a good read.
HBO has spent money on good CGI but that is expected. Episode one may need a second viewing for some (go DVR's) and I don't mean that as an insult. Episode one does a decent job with establishing the basics but there is a lot to digest. Why does Lyra run wild at Jordan College. Why is dust heretical? What is the Magisterium? Knowing that might help in understanding why the Catholic church was so against the movie. Who are the "gyptions," and why are "gobblers" stealing their children? Of course, all will be explained in future episodes and hopefully the audience will tune in and stick with the story. The did for Game of Thrones, so why not for His Dark Materials.
A Thunder of Drums (1961)
A Oddly Disappointing Film
Do you think a hardened battle experienced calvary trooper, played by Charles Bronson, could lose a fight to a brand new second lieutenant? I couldn't. This should have been a good film. The supporting cast had great character actors like Arthur O'Connell and Slim Pickens. Richard Boone was the lead as Captain Maddocks. But these three were shoved off by the poor performances of a pre-tan George Hamilton, pre-Peyton Place James Douglas, and pre heart-throb Dr. Kildare Richard Chamberlain. Then there was the Casablanca plot borrowing of all of the undermanned army forts in the West, Hamilton's East Coast girlfriend would have preceded him to his assignment as the fiancee of another officer of the fort. I can't even recommend watching this if you like watching train wrecks. This film just sinks to bottom weighed down by some of the worst acting ever put on on the screen by a major studio that invested in a usually good writer and a decent director.
Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)
A depressing story well acted
Melissa McCarthy does a great turn as Lee Israel. a writer whose muse had abandoned her. McCarthy's character finds herself as a literary pariah turned away by her own agent. McCarthy really captures the essence of a woman desperate to save herself from oblivion. One of the scenes that really captures her nearness to the bottom occurs as an exterminator refuses to enter her apartment due to the stench. As she attempts to clean the place the viewer could almost retch at the filth that is exposed.For a brief time, her talent as a literary forger gives her a semblance of her old life back but she over reaches and her life collapses. This is not a happy movie, you don't leave whistling a happy tune. You might leave feeling broken-hearted and sad for yourself but her life rings true for most people who struggled to survived fearing at any moment what little they have would be taken.
Bolívar: Una lucha admirable (2019)
I know little of Simon Bolivar and less about South America and shame on me for my ignorance. No doubt this series will send me to the history books. In the meantime, Bolivar is an entertaining look at the period. We have all the necessary tropes--treacherous relatives, corrupt officials, wavering revolutionaries, and the honest slaves--plus a beautiful background that serves as setting. The actors are good and we don't have the terrible mugging for the camera we see in telenovelas. The series is certainly entertaining and perhaps it might make you curious to learn.
Unexpected Guest (1947)
A Hoppy Whodunnit
Kids might not have picked up the tip of the cowboy hat to Agatha Christie but they would have understood the reference to one of Mickey Mouse's enemies, the Phantom Blot. Great film for a Saturday morning showing at the local movie theater for kids. A haunted house, mysterious voices, the murders of various heirs, sliding secret doors, and California Carlson in danger--could it get any better. If you were a typical ten-year old fan of Hoppy then this was pure yummy hamburger. The story moves along quickly and there are a few scares (opportunity to shout out "Watch Out Hoppy!) and just enough laughs to keep a kid's attention focused on the story. Try and remember that this film was made for the eight to twelve year old boy audience of the 40's and 50's and not today's over-sophisticated middle schooler.
And if you don't know The Phantom Blot then you are not the audience for this film.
12 to the Moon (1960)
Positive in Message
If the budget was $150,000 then it's all up there on the screen. While we get several tropes of the era, the messages of respect, cooperation, and hope are not only worthy but surprising given the politics of the period.
Yes, the special effects are laughable but you have to be impressed by the casting which is remarkable for its diversity. In some ways this film is still ahead of our time. I find it sad that fifty years after the making of this film, we are in the midst of divisive politics that seems to be walking us backwards.
If you get a chance to see this on TCM then at least DVR it for watching at a reasonable hour. It cant hurt to watch something that reminds us of what we can be through sacrifice and hope.
North of the Rio Grande (1937)
Hoppy gives Lee J. Cobb a start
As a Hoppy western this story has some interesting moments. From the start when we see Lucky at a coroner's inquest being run by Henry Stoneham, we know who the bad guy is. Morris Ankrum (Stoneham) seemed to be born to play bad guys and he did a good job. But it was Hoppy's younger brother who was murdered so it's only time until the real villain is brought to justice.
Yet somehow a musical number is inserted with Windy (Gabby Hayes) on the piano belting out The Wearing of the Green at the behest of Bull O'Hara (Walter Long) that has everyone in the cast up dancing and singing.
This film has the first credit for Lee J. Cobb as the owner of the railroad. I was stunned to see a youngish Cobb in the cast and even more surprised to learn Lee J. Cobb was bald at 26. I always believed Lee J.Cobb to be one of our finest actors. In 1968 I took a small group of students to Lincoln Center to see Cobb as King Lear. It was electrifying and every one of my charges was captured by what they were seeing on stage.
You know how the film will end but that was what you wanted to see. I was such a fan that my parents indulged me with a black Hoppy outfit complete with two six guns and a black hat.
No doubt that the two leads-Jane Russel and Claude Akins-are fading from memory but they do fair work here. Mary Taylor (Russel) runs an outpost holding horses for the Union when Caleb Luck (Akins) who is a Confederate calvary man happens by as he is trying to evade capture. Caleb is bitter and nothing would make him happier than killing Mary. A problem with a mare who is having difficulty giving birth affect both Mary and Caleb and provides a way for the story to conclude. Perhaps not the best episode but Jane Russel still has her movie star aura.
Awaiting the return of Craig McLachlan
Most fans of the Dr. Blake Mysteries know Craig McLachlan is Magistrates Court battling accusations of sexual misconduct. It seems someone has decided to keep the idea of the show alive until the court makes its decisions. We have some of the major cast members return for this episode featuring Jean Beazley Blake stepping in to solve several murders past and present. We have a good whodunit here and some new characters are introduced who could become regulars should this format continue or if we have a return of Craig McLachlan then Dr. Blake can pick up just where he left off when his mysterious disappearance is explained. Until then, enjoy this episode for itself.
A Paris Romance (2019)
It is what you expect
Hmm. A Hallmark movie, so girl meets boy and boy romances girls then girl has complication and leaves but boy follows girl and . . .. You still get to have some wonderful glimpses of Paris including Norte Dame before the fire. I wish there was more of Paris but I appreciated the brief stop at Sacre Coeur as it brought back a warm memory of sitting on the steps with my family as we ate our lunch. The movie shoot was very well done for a Hallmark film where you expect to see the kitsch cardboard sets. The acting is okay but Jen Liley just does the big eye roll once too many times. Not the worst Hallmark film that my wife has had me watch but just once could we have a different ending.
A confused Mulligan stew
If you are look for the style and panache of the original, this is s miss. Geraldine Hakewill is Peregrine Fisher and heir to the Fisher estate including Aunt Phryne's pearl handled gold plated revolver. Instead of the Roaring 20's, we have the swinging 60's.
This Miss Fisher is supposed to be our new Emma Peel and she even has her own smitten detective in the person of James Steed (Joel Jackson). Her police nemesis is Chief Inspector Sparrow, a misogynistic throwback to 1940's.
The show is harmless but could have been so much better.
The Code (2019)
Probably not fair to make a judgement after one episode but I expect to see a decent plot and characters I like enough to tune in again. The cast didn't have even a single character I found compelling and then there was no chemistry between characters. I didn't expect "A Few Good Men," but this was a ripoff without style. I don't know why CBS even went with this. A realize military drama is in style now but the Marines deserve better than this.
Rawhide: Incident of Judgment Day (1963)
Claude Rains (who)
The Claude Rains of Casablanca and Notorious plays a washed-up, drunken judge who by chance haunts the ghost town where Rowdy has been brought to stand trial for failed escapes from a Yankee POW camp. The Confederate soldiers who were with Rowdy blame him for the failures and intend to hang him, especially Captain Francis Cabot (John Dehner). But Judge Longford (Rains) recovers from the bottle long enough to present a solid defense of Rowdy. Rains delivers a solid performance that makes a predictable script worth watching.
Capitaine Marleau (2015)
Yes, Corinne Masiero
I am not familiar with Corinne Masiero but she has created a character for the ages. I cannot think of Hercule Poirot without David Suchet and now Corinne Masiero has brought another character to life: Captain Marleau.
Marleau is a brilliant captain in the French Police but is as idiosyncratic as can be. She looks like a homeless person and the beat up winter hunting cap she is never without adds to the characterization. We frequently find her lopping alone in a sort of duck run as she jogs before receiving a call that a body has been discovered and it appears to be murder.
She is frequently added by one of her two assistants who she keeps confused by her quirky but honest demeanor. When dealing with suspects she is completely non PC. They tend to underestimate her which keeps them feeling cocky. We know that she will solve the mystery and bring the perpetrator to justice.
Marleau has odd connection with a few other colleagues, usually pathologists who are as individual as she is. The series is fun to watch and Marleau has enough allusions to American TV to make you chuckle as she will tell a suspect she is no Columbo. There are allusions to matters French but these wont distract an American viewer. You may have to read the subtitles but they are clear and easy to read.
Currently this is running on Mhz, so you will a subscription.
A Mexican infant is given up by his mother as she wants a better life for her son. Now as the boy is a teenager, his Mexican mother wants him back. Nita Garcia agrees to Paladin's plan: he will bring the boy back to her but the boy will choose where he wants to live. Jose decides he will return to the Avery's. But Manuel Garcia, the boys father, a bandit, objects. You can figure out what happens. What makes no sense is Jose speaks no Spanish. He has spent all of his life with his adoptive parents and yet his English is heavily accented by a Spanish accent. The story has a strong moral to it but what was the director thinking? I suspect his prejudice comes through in believing a Mexican infant surrounded by American English speakers would somehow grow up to have an accent regardless of upbringing.
Gun Law Justice (1949)
For old timers like me
Some social problems are here to stay. No one one wants to give an ex-con a break. Once upon a time Hank Cardigan was a big time outlaw. Now he is a old man needing a job but no one will hire him. Hank gets a break to ride shotgun on a stagecoach. but on his first run the coach is held up by the Duke Corliss gang. Corliss had been trained by Hank and now has brought Hank's son into the gang. Hank foils the robbery but recognizes his son as one of the bandits. Hank tracks the gang to one of his old hideouts. He tries to convince his son to leave the gang but to no avail. Duke Corliss tells Hank that he will cut the kid loose and convince him to go straight, but does Hank plan to turn them in. Hank believes in snitches get stitches, he isn't a stool pigeon. Duke's real plan is to use Tom and get Hank and Tom either killed or sent to jail. A perfect opportunity arises as the town people plan a reenactment of Hank's last big robbery. but Duke plans to use the event to pull of a real robbery and have Hank blamed for it.
If you are real, real old (like me) you will recognize some of the bit players like Myron Healey even if you don't know the names. This film is best for nostalgia aficionados who are trying to recapture memories of Saturday matinees that featured cartoons, a serial episode or two, and at least two Westerns. Yippee yi yo kayah..
Not the A-1 episode of the series
Is that Black Jack Savage riding through the village at night and spreading fear. Maybe, but if nothing Disney went for a new opening and dropped the hanging man . Good move.
If we have been paying attention to the rules, we know Black Jack can't leave the castle. So who is pretending to be Black Jack? Why does the Governor General want to buy back the castle. And why is Barry's wife on the island? Wait. Is that Michael Chiklis, the Commish, offering to buy up all the land from the frightened villagers? Something is rotten on the island.
If Barry's wife and Logan Murphy vs the Exorcist and the Governor General vs Otis (Chiklis). Who will win? One other problem. Why does Barry's ex want a smaller offshore island. You will get your answers.
Logan Murphy, Man-Hunter
After watching the start of the third episode, I believe I might have a clue why this show didn't catch on with parents, at the start of each episode we see a noose and then the drop and dangling legs of Black Jack Savage. Now we begin with a drug dealer escaping from a FL chain gang and he has one goal in mind: find Logan Murphy and kill him. Murphy doesn't believe Tarberry and just believes Barry is coning him again.
Barry finds himself getting an offer from the FBI. Barry may be 17th on the most wanted list but Hancock is number three and if he helps them catch Hancock then they will make a deal. Barry has his own deal in mind. Will Barry save Logan? Will Hancock catch Logan? Will the FBI catch anybody?
We have a number of captures, escapes, recaptures, and escapes, and I guess some disappointments for everyone involved, except for the "real" Black Jack Savage.
Do you like cliffhangers?
A young couple and their baby are out boating on the water when they stop to pick up what appears to be a man on a small raft. Turns out it is a trap and the mother and father are executed and the boat scuttled. The papers report a missing couple but Savage tells Barry Tarberry that the baby is alive because the boat hasn't sunk. Savage brings the Lawtons to "speak" with Tarberry. Tarberry refuses to help until Savage aligns the spirit of Jennifer Lawton with Tarberry. Now onboard, so to speak, Tarberry is looking for help and enlists the help of Logan "FX" Murphy. Logan needs money but Tarberry's assets have been frozen by the Feds. Tarberry fast talks Logan into helping. Using Logan's "super boat," Tarberry saves the baby. Now Tarberry and Savage not only need to keep the baby safe but bring the murderous to justice. And they need to act when they learn another couple is in danger. Can they help?
Action and Humor as done best by Stephen J. Cannell
This was the pilot for a proposed action series under the Disney banner and written by Stephen J. Cannell. The Cannell touch is clearly evident. A duo of would be heroes, Barry Tarberry (Daniel Hugh Kelly) and Black Jack Savage (Stoney Jackson) who are assisted by a nerd genius, Logan "FX" Murphy (Steve Hytner) strive to get the bad guys. Tarberry is an American financier whose questionable deals have forced him to flee the country one step ahead of the Feds. And once he takes refuge on a Caribbean island by bribing the President, Tarberry also has to dodge the bounty hunters hired by the bail bondsman that Tarberry stiffed of $500,000. Tarberry discovers the castle he purchased is haunted by the ghost of Black Jack Savage. The two form an unlikely partnership for their own reasons. Kelly is perfect as the handsome hero who has a smidgen of the coward to overcome. Jackson is terrific as the hip 300 year old ghost who has to redeem himself by saving a hundred lives or he will be sent to Hell. Since this was the premise for a series, the movie has much exposition to fill in the background and present the raison detre. The made for TV movie is fun and should be put on a DVD along with the six episodes of the series. It's too bad this didn't click but audiences may have passed on this as a retrofit of Riptide with one of the good guys as a ghost. Regardless, this movie is entertaining with enough action with comedy to appeal to a large audience, but it didn't.