I respect the opinions of other reviewers on IMDb, but sadly, from time to time, you spot a tendency for the writers of these movie reviews to follow the leader. If the first guy says a movie is lousy, the rest play copy cat. I'm going to play Devil's Advocate for this film. It is not a bad movie. It is an entertaining movie. The plot is a little predictable (small town setting; pumpkin festival bringing in the tourists; rugged Sheriff trying to protect the citizens; stupid Mayor squashing Sheriff's effort to warn the citizens; professional monster hunter in town to deal with the menace) and it is not much of a stretch to surmise the script's inspiration was Jaws. It is obviously a low budget film and most of the actors have thin resumes. But if you are looking for a Saturday afternoon fun session sitting around with the guys knocking back a few beers, and this flick comes on the SyFy Channel, ignore the naysayers who wrote such negative reviews, and give this film a try. It will reward you with a couple of hours of solid entertainment.
Impressing Greeks in Limos
25 October 2009Warning: Spoilers
Hyacinth's desire to impress other people is clearly evident in this episode. Rose has a new boyfriend, a Greek named Mr. Marianopolis, and when Rose tells Hyacinth that she will be picked up in a Limo owned by Mr. Marianopolis, Hyacinth goes into high gear making assumptions about Mr. Marianopolis and how she can look good in his eyes. Until the Limo invitation, Hyacinth had not been keen about Onslow's proposed surprise birthday party. With Rose apparently dating someone wealthy for a change, Hyacinth decides Onslow's gift must be gold cuff links. She also begins preparation for an elaborate luncheon at her home with the Vicar, Elizabeth and Emmet, the Major, and many neighbors attending. Unfortunately, the Greek's Limo is in for repairs and he picks up Rose in a hearse! Hyacinth has a houseful of guests when the hearse arrives. Hyacinth goes into panic mode, urging Rose and the Greek to keep circling the block while she tries to keep her guests from learning how badly her plans have gone awry. She practically collapses from exhaustion at the episode's end, vowing that Onslow's engraved cuff links will be returned to the jeweler the next morning. This is a hilarious episode, one of the series best.
Dorothy encounters an author with pretensions of grandeur
5 October 2009Warning: Spoilers
Sophia is cooking lasagna when Blanche comes into the kitchen. Rose comes in with her new costume for the masquerade ball, a zebra. She cannot decide whether or not she wants to be the front end or the rear end. Dorothy comes in and announces her life is totally boring. Blanche tells Dorothy she cannot help being boring, God did this to her to provide variety on the earth. Dorothy says there is a lecture at the school that evening. Novelist Barbara Thorndyke is speaking and she may attend. Later that evening, Dorothy reveals that she had a good time at the lecture and she introduced herself to the author. She has invited Mrs. Thorndyke over to their home. Barbara arrives and she gives Dorothy an autographed copy of her latest book. Dorothy is thrilled. Barbara seems to be upset at some of Rose's remarks. Rose has said a few things which reveal she is not as sophisticated as perhaps Barbara expected from Dorothy's roommates. So she unexpectedly leaves their home, and Dorothy asks to accompany her to her car. Next day, Barbara asks Dorothy to go to the experimental theater downtown, and Dorothy agrees to go. Rose and Blanche decide to invite Barbara over for dinner. Blanche reveals she has read Barbara's book, and she has had problems with some of the metaphors, particularly the waves. Sophia leaves on a date, and Barbara leaves right behind her. Barbara invites Dorothy for an event on the coming Friday night, but Rose is upset because that is the night she planned on Dorothy being the "behind" in her zebra costume at the masquerade ball. Dorothy replies that there is finally a choice in her life: she can either mingle with literary idols or be the rear end of a horse staring at Rose's ass. She says she intends to go to Barbara's soirée. On Friday night, Blanche and Rose are teasing Dorothy about Barbara, and then they admit that they do not like the woman. Rose tells Dorothy she is making a mistake about Barbara. At the restaurant, Dorothy and Barbara are dining and looking over the menu which is much like a book. Dorothy reveals there has been some tension in their home since Barbara came into her life. Barbara suggests that she invite everyone to a grand dinner at the Mortimer Club. Barbara shows up at their home with a date, Norman, who looks like a long-haired teenager. Sophia's date, Murray Guttmann, arrives as well. Barbara asks Dorothy to meet her in the kitchen. She reveals that the Mortimer Club restricts their guests, and they do not allow Jews into the club. Dorothy reacts with horror that Barbara is anti-Semitic. Dorothy tells Barbara that she cannot be friends with someone who is prejudiced. Barbara storms out of the house. Rose and Blanche ask Dorothy if she will go to the masquerade ball after all, and she replies that, after her performance the last few days, she will be honored to be the horse's behind.
Rose dodges a bullet.
5 October 2009Warning: Spoilers
The girls are gathered in the living room discussing Dorothy's new dress. When Rose expresses a liking for the dress, Dorothy decides to take it back to the store. She wants Sophia to go with her when she takes the dress back to the store. As Sophia walks out the door, a man is there with his hand raised to knock. His name is Buddy Hawk and he is an old wartime buddy of Charlie, Rose's former husband. He says he got Rose's address from Charlie's pension records, and he stopped by to pay her his respects. He invites Rose to have lunch with him the next day. At lunch the next day, Buddy tells Rose that Charlie used to read Rose's letters to her during the war. Buddy says he has been searching for someone like Rose all his life, but never found her. He said that he thinks he fell in love with Rose after hearing Charlie's letters. Then, he tenderly kisses Rose in the restaurant. Next day, Dorothy is showing off her new gown to Sophia. Suddenly, Blanche comes into the room wearing the exact same dress. Dorothy insists that Blanche return the duplicate. Rose comes in with the news that Buddy is going back to Boston, and he wants Rose to go with him and they plan on living together. Rose says that she might do it. Dorothy and Blanche become suspicious of Buddy when he asks Rose to give him all her money before they leave for Boston. Dorothy looks into Buddy's background and discovers he has spent 45 years in the Army pensions department. That is where he obtained all the information he has about Charlie. Dorothy and Blanche want to warn Rose about Buddy, but she has gone to the bank and they do not know how to get in touch with her. Then we learn that Rose has met Buddy. Even though Rose does not know he is a con man, she tells him that she does not love him and cannot go to Boston with him. She does reveal that she has a gift for him that she obtained from her safety deposit box. It is Charlie's old pocket watch. She offers it to him. Buddy, apparently is touched by the simple faith that Rose has shown in her memories of Charlie, and he tells her he cannot accept the gift, and he bids her adieu. That night, in her king size bed, Rose offers up a little prayer to Charlie. Her simple good memories of him when he was in her life have saved her from becoming involved in a bad situation.
Judith's Mother, Lenore, is a lush
5 October 2009Warning: Spoilers
Jake really wants to drive Charlie's car. Meanwhile, Judith and her husband want to have a weekend away in Laguna Beach, so they get Judith's mother, Lenore, (played by Annie Potts) to babysit the newborn baby girl. Alan goes over to be with the baby and Lenore. Lenore comes on to Alan in a major way, making suggestive remarks and licking his fingers. We learn that Lenore was kicked out of the Betty Ford Clinic because of drug dependency. She claims she can handle alcohol with no problems, but Alan is not so sure when she begins making sexual comments and suggestions to him. Charlie manages to kill Chelsea's cat, Sir Lancelot, and Jake takes a picture of Charlie and the dead cat so he can use it to blackmail Charlie and drive Charlie's car anytime that he wants to do so. Judith's mother wants Alan to go into the Jacuzzi nude. Judith calls Alan and asks him to go over to her house and check on the baby, but she is not aware that Alan is already there. Chelsea comes into Charlie's house unexpectedly while Charlie and Jake are trying to bury the cat. Alan and Judith's mother are taking the baby somewhere when she gets upset and leaps out of the car. Meanwhile, Jake has finally gotten to drive Charlie's car, and by coincidence, Judith's mother passes across the street in front of them. Chelsea comes home and she has Sir Lancelot, the cat, in her arms. Apparently, the cat Charlie killed was not Sir Lancelot. Suddenly, there is a knock on the door and a huge bald man is standing there, asking Chelsea if she might have seen his lost cat, Puss Puss, who is black and white and identical to Sir Lancelot.
5 October 2009Warning: Spoilers
Onslow and Daisy take Daddy for a ride in his wheelchair. En route, Onslow stops off at a betting shop to place a wager on the ponies. When Daisy thinks he is taking too long, she comes inside the shop to tell him Daddy is getting restless. When they come back outside, they find Daddy has disappeared. Meanwhile, Hyacinth's sister, Violet, is having problems with Bruce, who is cross-dressing and climbing trees on their property. Daisy enlists Hyacinth's help in finding Daddy and he is finally located at the Registry Office. Hyacinth decides Daddy should be taken to Violet's home, but when they arrive, they find the Bruce problem has not been resolved and Hyacinth abandons her plan and they speed away. Highly entertaining episode with good performances by all the actors.
Meddling in local civic affairs
5 October 2009Warning: Spoilers
The country estate of Lionel and Jean is located near a rural village, and in this episode, we learn that the village is in an uproar. A bypass around the village has been proposed by the highway authorities. Protesters have gathered like vultures to oppose the proposition. Meaning well, but totally misunderstanding the situation, Jean assumes the villagers are opposed to the new bypass. She agrees to take a leadership role at the Action Committee which is attempting to deal with the situation. Meanwhile, Lionel has learned that the villagers are actually in favor of the bypass. In the middle of her presentation to the village elders, Lionel interrupts Jean and saves her from an embarrassing faux pas. The moral of the story is that married couples should encourage mutual communication and not leap to conclusions without knowing all the facts.
Rose is becoming a nun?
5 October 2009Warning: Spoilers
In this episode, Richard gets word from his superiors that they would like for him to consider early retirement. He is devastated by this concept because he would then be at home full-time with Hyacinth. But he cannot get Hyacinth to listen so he can tell her about the proposal. She is too busy with a scheme to entertain the old people at the church hall by singing to them with Emmet as her accompanist on the piano. Meanwhile, Rose is having trouble with one of her lovers and she decides to give up men and become a nun. Dressed in a black mini-skirt and sporting a veil, Rose shows up at the church hall, but she is an apparent state of inebriation. Emmet becomes furious with Hyacinth and her pushy ways and storms out of the hall. The Vicar becomes entangled with Rose in a closet as the Vicar's wife bursts in on them. Filled with frenetic energy, this is one of the more entertaining episodes of the series.
Ten Days to Tulara (1958)Entertaining Sterling Hayden Vehicle
22 August 2009Warning: Spoilers
If you are a Sterling Hayden fan, you've got to see this movie just to watch the big guy in action. Made in 1958 and obviously targeted at the drive-in movie crowd, this B&W thriller still delivers solid entertainment half a century later. Robust 6'5" Hayden plays the role of a pilot whose son is kidnapped and held hostage. But, it is not your usual kidnapping flick because the son has been grabbed in order to force Hayden to fly some bandits across country (it was filmed in Mexico) to a place called Tulara. The bandits have stolen some gold bars and flying an old WWII Dakota must have been perceived as a nice quick getaway. Their plan goes awry when the Mexican police attack them at the airport and riddle the old plane with bullets and kill the co-pilot. Sterling is able get airborne and has enough fuel for an hour's flight, so the getaway is partially successful. The lack of fuel forces Sterling to dig out the parachutes so everyone can bail out. Even though his role as pilot is finished, Sterling tags along with the bandits to help out in any way he can because, of course, he still has to save his young son. Along the way, Sterling meets the daughter of the leader of the gang and he learns she does not approve of her bandit father's profession, so as the journey progresses, we see them fall in love. The film ends fairly predictably on the coast as Sterling wades through the surf to welcome his son, and his new girlfriend waits submissively in the sand dunes, and the bandits, at least the ones who are still alive, are handcuffed. Okay, it's not a great film, but it is entertaining. There are worse things you could do with your time.
Famous Boners (1942)Little Mistakes Can Mean A Lot
20 May 2009Warning: Spoilers
This ten-minute-short narrated by John Nesbitt is one of the "Passing Parade" series. It opens with an apparent explanation of the "absent-minded professor" tag which we often associate with men of intellect, and the example given is that of Galileo Galilei who apparently loved a soft-boiled egg for his breakfast, and who meticulously timed the exact three-minutes required with his pocket watch. One morning, Galileo mistakenly boiled his watch for three minutes while holding the egg in his hand as he usually held the watch. In another example, the case of Thomas Carlyle is cited. Carlyle devoted seven years of his life to write his masterpiece entitled "The French Revolution." When completed, he took the manuscript, roughly wrapped in butcher's paper, to the home of a professor friend so he could be the first to see the completed project. His friend was not home when he arrived, so Carlyle fell asleep in front of the fireplace with the manuscript in his lap. During his sleep, the manuscript fell out of his lap onto the floor. The maid came along, tidying the room, and she mistakenly thought the crudely wrapped bundle was trash, so she heaved the whole thing into the fireplace, thus destroying seven years of work for Carlyle. Upon awakening and discovering the loss, over the next few months, working entirely from memory, he rewrote the entire book, and it went on to become the noted work of the author. In a third example, a prison inmate steals a guard's uniform and escapes from captivity. Since his sentences totaled 230 years, one would think he would be motivated to place as much distance as he possibly could between himself and the prison. Yet, the first passing car is tempting to him and he thumbs a ride only to find himself riding between two armed police officers who are not yet aware of the prison break, but who find out and nab the escapee before he is able to escape their company, and he is returned to prison to serve the remainder of his sentences. The last episode cited concerns wartime examination of mail by government censors who spot a letter from a foreign country which leads to capture of a ring of Nazi spies. The one little mistake which led to the investigation of the letter was the fact that the envelope was addressed to a certain "Mr.", but yet the salutation on the letter inside was marked as "Mrs.", and this minor omission of the "s" led to the suspicion of the inspector to flag the letter for followup by government agents.
Primitive Pitcairn (1936)Not a Paradise
16 May 2009
This ten-minute short was shown on TCM on Saturday, May 16, 2009 as a lead-in to the great 1935 movie "Mutiny on the Bounty" starring Clark Gable and Charles Laughton. Unfortunately, I didn't see the opening credits, but I believe the narrator's voice was Carey Wilson. This documentary was extremely well done and it portrays vividly what life was like as a resident of Pitcairn in the 1930's. The film shows the harsh topography of the islands and how difficult it is for longboats to navigate the surf. The population of the island at that time numbered about 200 people, a number which Wikipedia indicates has shrunk to about 50 people as of 2005. No doubt, the harsh living conditions has contributed to the desire of people to leave the islands. Their economy is explored showing how they prepare native crafts for sale and barter with the occasional passing ship, an occurrence which is rare, often being a year apart. The native wood is inferior and almost useless for building construction, so a popular import from the outside world is lumber for their homes and church. Road construction is shown consisting of the entire populace turning out with picks and shovels for the affair. Obviously, such amenities as paving are non-existent. Food preparation appears to be communal and sharing of the available supplies is freely done among the people. The film ends with the ironic observance that so much of the world only has to visit the nearest 5-and-dime store to obtain the necessities of life while those who live on Pitcairn have to devote almost every waking moment to eke out an existence. An island Paradise, it clearly is not. But this peek into their world is truly fascinating and if you have a chance to see this little film, do not miss it.
Murder in the Pullman (1932)Portly Edward Arnold has an unfaithful wife
26 March 2009Warning: Spoilers
Edward Arnold stars in this mystery gem which packs many details into the 20-minute running time. In the beginning, we see Mr. Arnold as an apparently happy husband planning a harmless train trip with his loving wife. Once on the train, however, we begin to learn all is not as cozy as it initially seemed. The young lady who is the wife of the portly Mr. Arnold has, not one, but two lovers who are also passengers on the train. Furthermore, we learn the wife is strictly into the marriage for the money when she sneaks away from her husband for a quick assignation with one of her lovers, and she proudly shows him the diamond ring recently purchased for her by Mr. Arnold. Looking for her, Mr. Arnold discovers her with the lover. The meeting is casual and apparently harmless. Did Mr. Arnold witness the gleeful conversation which the wife and lover were having? We cannot be certain from what we are shown. Later in the evening, Mr. Arnold leaves his compartment to go to the club car for a drink, and the porter overhears him conversing with his wife. In the club car, we see the train passengers include the great crime detective, Mr. Crabtree and his friend, the Inspector. Their presence will become important in the plot because after only one drink, Mr. Arnold asks the waiter to accompany him back to his sleeping compartment with a second drink. Mr. Arnold enters his compartment and finds his wife, apparently sleeping, on the couch. He attempts to rouse her, but she will not stir. He calls for a doctor and several men, including the Inspector and Mr. Crabtree, quickly respond, but she is beyond help. The doctor quickly determines the lady has been strangled. All of her jewelry is missing. Interrogation of the porter and waiter quickly reveals the lady has other men friends on the train. A search of the bunk of one turns up the jewelry, apparently incriminating evidence of his guilt. But further inspection of the quarters reveals other clues. One murder, three suspects. Will the sleuthing skills of Mr. Crabtree and the Inspector reveal the murderer? In the end, all the clues point to only one conclusion and the guilty man attempts to escape. But on a moving train, how many places can he possibly go? All in all, this little Vitaphone short delivers a powerful and entertaining punch. It is well worth watching.
The Week End Mystery (1931)Twisting and Turning in a Sealed Room Mystery
26 March 2009Warning: Spoilers
Richard Crayell is murdered in his own house. Dr. Crabtree and the Inspector are summoned. There were 5 weekend guests at the house plus the butler. The room in which the Inspector and Dr. Crabtree inspect the evidence is overheated, and some candles are bent. The heat is from the gas logs, but the butler says Mr. Crayell rarely used them. The Inspector begins interrogating the guests. Some of the guests left the room during the evening. Some claimed they never left the room. Crayell intended on leaving all his money to one of the guests, a young man. Suddenly, a mirror over the fireplaces cracks noisily. The butler reports hearing an argument between Crayell and one of the guests. A pair of gloves is found with the initials AC, but then Crabtree indicates the gloves are his own. Mr. Crabtree discovers a door leading outside has a string on a knob while the matching door is sealed with a nail. Crabtree calls the Inspector back. He has arranged a demonstration with a pistol. Crabtree shows how Crayell could have been killed when he opened the door to allow some outside air to cool the overheated room. Then a mysterious letter is delivered to Crabtree. He is supposed to come to the garage to meet the writer of the note. While talking to a man outside the garage door, the man is shot. Claire Abbott is suddenly exposed as the killer when lightning strikes a nearby lightning rod. Then the butler delivers yet another clue in the form of a sealed box. The Inspector takes charge of the box, fearlessly opening it, and reveals it is nothing more dangerous than a music box, thus, with a humorous note bringing the viewer to the end of a 20 minute short which has so many twists and turns, it is simply enchanting.
Nature Unleashed: Earthquake (2005 Video)This movie does not deserve such awful reviews
29 December 2008
When you set forth to write a movie review, you should have some theme for your comments, and I believe the creators of this website would prefer you give a prospective viewer some idea about the work, whether or not it is competently crafted, entertaining, or pure crap. Too often, I find that reviewers feed on each other like bottom-feeding snails.....if one or two of the early reviewers hate the film, then most subsequent reviews echo their thoughts. This film was thoroughly trashed by the reviews I have read. But it is truly not that bad. It follows a script, something some of the blockbusters seem to disregard these days. It is entertaining with lots of the elements which seem to attract viewers. It has interesting characters, conflict between the characters, a plot, all elements which tend to please people who want to be shown a story which is not totally predictable. The guys and girls who created this movie ought to be given a break. They did the best they could working with a limited budget. I enjoyed the time I spent with this film. I think you will enjoy it also.
First Comes Courage (1943)World War II Espionage Thriller with Merle Oberon
18 November 2008Warning: Spoilers
If for no other reason, this incredible movie should be seen to enjoy the acting skill of Merle Oberon, especially in the scene where she finally reveals to her husband, the Nazi Major, that she loathes and despises him and that she has only been with him in order to spy on Nazi activities. Directed by Dorothy Arzner, a pioneer among women directors, the movie has an endearing ending in which Merle Oberon turns her back on her lover in order to carry on her underground activities. Made in the middle of World War II, this movie is evidence of the producers and writer's knowledge of the horror of the Nazi occupation in Norway, and it presented a powerful message to the moviegoers of the day that any sacrifice was necessary to defeat the German menace. The script for this movie was based on "The Commandos", a novel by Elliot Arnold.
Chariots of Fire (1981)Glacial
12 October 2008
I saw "Chariots of Fire" just after it won the Academy Award for Best Picture. This viewing was in a big-screen theater, the way movies should be judged. All the Oscar hype was fresh in the minds of the public when we decided to check it out. I should have known something was wrong when we walked into the theater and most of the seats were empty. But we had paid our money, and decided to see what the movie was like. Is there one word that can describe dreary deadly dull movies? One reviewer said that watching grass grow was more exciting. He gave you a good analogy and he was certainly correct. Watching paint dry would be immensely fun compared to watching this drivel. This movie easily fits into a category of top 10 worst movies of all time. My one-word description would be glacial. The movie stars Ben Cross who has had the sort of career you can best describe as unnoticed. As I am writing this review, one of his more recent dreary films, a D-grade flick called "Wicked Little Things" is playing in the background and was the trigger that inspired me to look up the old "Chariots of Fire" film, and to see the path of Cross's career. IMDb reviews are wonderful because they allow freedom of expression about films, but there is a disturbing tendency among reviewers to be sheep-like in their descriptions. If a film is perceived as good, because it wins some awards, then almost everyone who chooses to write about it will follow the leader. Similarly, movies that are perceived as bad, such as the many made-for-TV movies produced by the Sci-Fi channel, will be described as trash. In the reviews, it is astounding to me that anyone could describe "Chariots of Fire" as anything other than what it is: boring and deadly dull. Going back to my first viewing, everyone who was in that theater the night we saw it got up and left before it was over. After two of the most interminable hours of my life, the theater was empty except for us. We were determined to see it to the end, and we did, but I have never been so grateful as I was that night when the closing credits finally scrolled across the screen. Can I recommend this film to anyone? Not if entertainment is your goal. As one other reviewer said, perhaps if you are an insomniac and in need of a sleep-aid, you might want to consider it. Remember, I did give it a one-word description: glacial.
The Moment of Truth (2008– )The absolute worst game show ever
27 May 2008Warning: Spoilers
I have watched a lot of game shows over the years, and this has to be the worst of the bunch. The host is boring; the premise panders to the lowest tastes in American citizens, possibly even lower than the audience for Jerry Springer, if a show can go that low. The show uses the technique which so many game shows use today.....they telegraph the answers coming up in the commercials, presumably so you won't, God forbid, change channels. Frequently the answers being telegraphed are wrong, so they can say "Gotcha" and make you sit through the endless pauses which I'm sure the producers learned in film school would ensure "drama." This program is relentlessly boring, and if it were possible to give it a zero on the rating scale, I would do so. You would think the geniuses who conceive these horrible shows would take a look at the true action and drama on game shows which have withstood the test of time. Look at "Jeopardy" which makes the contestants face 61 questions in 30 minutes, and which never give a contestant a multiple-choice question. And, Jeopardy is a clean show, you will never have to explain to your 9-year-old why the man/woman is so upset over the questions asked. This program was conceived and panders to our base natures of greed, corruption and venality, it will not last, it will join the scrap heap of past failed ventures, and the sooner, the better.
Phantoms, Inc. (1945)A sensible course in "How to Avoid being Conned"
19 October 2007
On the strength of a positive recommendation, I watched this documentary short with little in mind other than to see what it was all about. The title alone, "Phantoms, Inc.", was enough to drag me in, and when someone said it was worth viewing, well, I was hooked. I'm sad to say there is virtually no entertainment value to the offering. It is downright depressing. It is the kind of thing which ought to be shown in schools as part of a course on how to use your common sense in life, and not rely on superstition, supernatural belief systems, and the word of con men. If a person is so gullible as to believe in mediums and soothsayers, then they should view this film. But for someone simply looking for entertainment, don't bother.
Suture (1993)The worst film ever made
12 October 2007
"Plan 9 From Outer Space" is a brilliant accomplishment compared to this piece of crap. Whatever possesses some people to write reviews saying this movie has merit is beyond me. Whenever the discussion of the worst movie of all time comes up, I immediately think of this film "Suture". Some movies are so bad, they leave a vestigial imprint on your memory cells which one wishes could be obliterated. This is such a film. The visual imagery of having two individuals exchange identities, and then no one notices, is absurd. Nothing hangs together throughout the film. The script is preposterous. The miracle is the fact that funding was obtained, a greater miracle that the film was produced, unbelievable that copies are out there for you to rent, and mind-boggling that some people like it.
Private Detective 62 (1933)Beautiful pairing of William Powell and Margaret Lindsay
27 September 2007Warning: Spoilers
Don Free (William Powell) is a down-on-his-luck character in a depression-era big city that reluctantly joins a private detective agency to make a few bucks. Janet Reynolds (Margaret Lindsay) is a gal with a gift for roulette. Janet is either extremely lucky or using an undisclosed system, but however she is doing it, she has been on a winning streak for some time, letting the house hold her winnings so that she won't feel afraid to leave the casino at night. Her gambling gifts have run up a tally of over $50,000, a fortune in the Great Depression. She announces to the management of the casino that she intends to cash her chips so that she can head to Europe, a decision which imposes a deadline on the casino, especially since they don't want to part with that much cash. They devise an elaborate scheme when she agrees to meet with the payout master in his apartment. They know that she always carries a gun for protection, so they arrange for the weapon to be loaded with blanks, and when the payout master aggressively comes on to her, she shoots him in self-defense. She flees the apartment in terror, believing that she has committed a murder. The payout master calls his buddies on the telephone to let them know that she fell for the gag, when suddenly a hand eases through the curtains with a pistol in it, and the payout master is shot again, this time for real. Don Free (William Powell) has become involved with Janet (Margaret Lindsay) because of a case he has undertaken with his shady partner, hoping for a $10,000 fee, but unfortunately for the bad guys in this film, Don Free is an ethical detective, and he begins using his considerable intellect to defend Janet and get her out of the mess. Highly entertaining movie, even though you can see they are falling for each other, but Don and Janet are so appealing in their roles, you're pulling for them all the way through the picture. Masterfully directed by Michael Curtiz, this is one depression-era film which provides solid entertainment.
Hot Rod Herman
8 June 2007Warning: Spoilers
Eddie Munster has a friend whose father is into drag racing. Little Eddie is excited about the sport and he succeeds in getting Herman Munster to go to the track with him. Herman becomes excited also and decides to see how well the family coach can do on the track against competition. He is unaware of the fact that Eddie's friend's father is a professional racing driver and a gambler who enjoys fleecing the innocent. He strikes up a conversation with Herman and asks him if he would like to place a little wager on the race. Herman replies that he has five or six dollars which he could wager. The other guy suggests that a more interesting race would result if they were to put up their cars, with the winner getting the other guy's car. At first, Herman does the sensible thing and refuses but when the guy's son intimates that Herman is chicken, Herman has to accept the offer or he will be unable to live with himself. They race, and of course, Herman has his plow cleaned. Back at home, Herman is suitably contrite in the face of his wife's anger, but he does not see a path out of the dilemma until grandpa decides that he can build a race car out of a coffin and other parts, and they will return to the track next week and challenge the same guy again with the same betting stake. Back at the track, the guy looks over grandpa's car and then the family finds out that the guy has been rebuilding the Munsters coach all week long, and he is confident that he can defeat grandpa's new car. It is with supreme confidence that the wager is placed and accepted by both parties. The guy and his helper become a little concerned that perhaps grandpa's car might be faster than the Munsters old coach, so they decide to steal the parachute braking device from the rear of grandpa's car. The guy reasons that if grandpa hits a wall at the end of the track and is killed, he will not have to pay off the wager. Grandpa and the racer begin to race, and there is never any doubt as to the outcome. Grandpa's racer rules! But without a parachute, grandpa is in big trouble. When grandpa reaches the end of the quarter-mile strip and realizes he has no brakes, he immediately executes a 180° U-turn and heads back down the track. Herman Munster is standing in the middle of the starting line hoping to get a picture of grandpa. Grandpa comes roaring up to Herman and executes another U-turn. Around and around he goes, trying to scrub off some of the excess speed, while Herman just looks dazed, then suddenly Herman has an excellent idea and he grabs the back of grandpa's car, the car begins to drag Herman in a smoking circle, and finally Herman is able to bring the car to a standstill. Smoke is billowing from the soles of Herman's elevator shoes, but everyone is happy because the Munsters have won the race and they have their beloved coach back. They decide to take the coach on a picnic and as they drive down the street, we see that the race was not particularly good for their old car because miscellaneous parts keep falling off of it, culminating with the engine. Apparently the coach doesn't really need an engine because it just keeps merrily moving along. Altogether, one of the better Munster episodes. Highly recommended.
Love Fever (1931)Love Fever Features Thelma Todd
18 May 2007Warning: Spoilers
Thelma Todd, the beautiful blonde comedienne of Hal Roach Studios, is the undisputed star of this 20-minute short. She has an apartment in a rooming house shared by some goofy college kids, most notably Grady Sutton (Alabam) and Mickey Daniels. The guys are collectively known as "The Boyfriends" and other shorts featured them in the 1930's. Thelma is playing the role of an actress rehearsing a role at home, a role which requires her to scream and collapse as a victim onto the floor. Meanwhile, the guys are having their problems with girl friends in adjacent apartments. Look closely at the girls and you will see that one of them is played by Mary Kornman of "Little Rascals" fame. Thelma's screams arouse the curiosity of the guys, and one by one, they investigate. Thelma recognizes the immaturity of the kids and proceeds to entertain herself by spoofing and using their gullible natures. The kids cannot recognize Thelma is pulling their collective legs, and numerous sight-gags and pratfalls ensue. Then the girlfriends decide to rescue their boyfriends from Thelma and the piece ends. If you decide to watch this short, do so to appreciate some rare footage from the short and remarkable career of Thelma Todd. The performances of the other kids is hammy and not noteworthy, thus leading to the average rating assigned to the film.
Slightly Static (1935)Slightly Static Comediennes
18 May 2007Warning: Spoilers
This wacky short was produced by the great Hal Roach Studios and stars Thelma Todd and Patsy Kelly as two actresses who approach Radio Station LOCO looking for a job. Unbeknownst to them, one of the radio station sponsors has a son who fancies himself as a scriptwriter. He has developed a skit which he feels is memorable because it celebrates Spring, simplicity and the animals of the forest. He gives a brief preview of the material to the station manager and to the radio station personnel who regularly provide voices for spoken material in those days (the 1930s). The skit material is awful and is immediately rejected by the radio station manager. However, the father of the scriptwriter is there and he threatens to cancel his advertising program at the radio station if his son's script is not broadcast that day. The radio station manager reluctantly agrees to put the program on the air, but this triggers a walkout by all of the professional voice people. The lovely Thelma Todd and her companion Patsy Kelly are sitting in the lobby when they overhear the station manager's predicament, and they rise and persuade him they can do the jobs. He gives them a break and they go on the air without benefit of a rehearsal. The performance is in front of a live studio audience and the pratfalls and goofs are hilarious. Patsy Kelly reveals some fancy dancing footwork reminiscent of the best vaudeville tap dancers of the era. This short is a great one, highly recommended.
Just a formality
15 May 2007Warning: Spoilers
Amy, Robert and Ray are in the kitchen having a brief conversation, and Robert is surprisingly cool to Amy as she makes her departure. After Amy is gone, Robert turns to Ray and tells him that he has deliberately snubbed Amy because he is planning a secret wedding proposal. Ray immediately wants to start spreading the news, but Robert grabs him by the sweater front and implores him to say nothing to anyone. Robert has decided that he wants to propose to Amy in the old-fashioned way by going to Amy's parents first and asking their permission. Robert drives to Pennsylvania where he finds Amy's parents working on a crossword puzzle of Jesus. After a halting introduction, he finally summons the nerve to ask for Amy's hand in marriage. Hank and Pat, ably played by Fred Willard and Georgia Engel, turn him down. Robert cannot believe what he is hearing. Reinforcing Amy's parents, the little group is joined by Peter (Chris Elliott) Amy's brother. The news that Peter has for Hank and Pat cements their resistance to Robert. Robert returns to Ray and Debra's home where he finds everyone, including Frank and Marie, watching television. Marie senses that Robert is depressed and Robert admits that he wants to propose to Amy, but that he has visited her parents and they have turned him down. Debra convinces Robert that he should propose to Amy anyway. In order to gain credibility and support, Robert persuades Ray to go back with him to visit Amy's parents again, but this confrontation is even more disastrous than the first one. As usual, everything that Raymond says is twisted around so that it works against Robert and his noble cause. The second visit ends when Peter reveals that Robert was the man who deflowered Amy. In spite of the two rejections from the parents, Robert decides to go ahead with his proposal to Amy. The wedding proposal is imaginative and Robert uses his friends in the police force to set up the scenario. Amy and Debra are leaving a theater when suddenly three police cars screech to a halt beside them. A uniformed officer steps up to them, asks Amy to identify herself, then proceeds to read her rights, only the rights have been modified to fit the occasion. A look of extreme despair and horror is on Amy's face as she is confronted by the strange policemen, and this look does not go away when Robert finally makes his appearance in full dress uniform. Robert gets down on his knees and makes a formal proposal of marriage to Amy. Amy finally gets it, and much hugging and celebration ensue, complete with Marie getting out of one of the squad cars to join in the group hug. Finally, back at Ray's house, everybody is in a happy mood until Amy turns to Robert and makes a request of him. She asked that he go to her parents and ask for her hand in marriage in the old-fashioned way. Robert reluctantly reports that he has already done that, and her parents turned him down. Amy considers this, but then she decides that she really wants to get married, and she really wants to get married to Robert, and she is certain that they can overcome the objections of her parents. She turns to Robert and says, "I know what we can do. We'll get my brother Peter to help."
Roaring Guns (1944)Environmental concerns were evident in 1944
15 May 2007
Environmental concerns were evident in 1944 when Warner Brothers decided to use stock footage left over from earlier films, and the end result is this turkey. If you watch this short because it was directed by the great Jean Negulesco, who later went on to direct such hits as "How to Marry a Millionaire" and "The Greatest Story Ever Told", prepare to be disappointed. A weak script, low budget, and excessive use of stock footage combined with a dull leading man, Robert Shayne, results in a 19 minute short whose sole redeeming feature is whatever impact it might have in your becoming concerned about environmental rape and destruction. I think this type of film resulted when a studio had a lot of people, actors, editors and directors who needed something to do. It is just too bad the story by Clements Ripley and the screenplay by Ed Earl Repp was inadequate for the resources assigned to the project. Unless you really want to take a brief look at strip-mining concerns, my advice is to skip viewing this film. You can find something better to do with your 19 minutes of free time.