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Duel at Diablo

some big names in a western
James garner (was so famous for rockford files) is remsberg. The awesome sidney poitier is toller. An army regiment must go through apache territory. And the fact that some of the men have native american wives complicates things. On the plus side, they actually employed native americans for this film. It's okay. Directed by ralph nelson, who also played colonel foster. He was nominated for lilies of the field, also starring poitier. Book by marvin albert; he had a bunch of novels made into film. Music by neil hefit, another pro. This has some big names, but it's just another western.

Timber Stampede

cutting down the trees
Some similarities to big trees from 1952, and valley of the giants in 1938. Clearly, the one from 1938 was first! Each film highlights groups wanting to cut down the timber on land, owned by the U. S. or by someone else. In timber stampede, the "business men" want to sell the trees for lumber, and start out by using fake homesteaders. Of course, the local ranchers don't like this plan, since they graze their cattle on that land. Now it's a showdown over the land. With twenty two year old marj reynolds along for fun. She will go on to co-star with abbott and costello in time of their lives. It's exactly what we expect from a western. Good guys against the bad guys. It moves right along, since it's under one hour run time. George o'brien had started way back, in silents. Early-ish role for chill wills. Directed by david howard. He died quite young at 45, just a couple years after making this film. It's okay.

Kissin' Cousins

fun premise but the musical numbers...
Elvis plays both cousins... he's in the army again, and the army wants to use the land owned by his country relatives. So the army asks josh to talk to his relatives. Some other big names in here. Art o'connell was twice oscar nominated, and jack albertson won for roses. Glenda farrell was HUGE in the 1930s and 1940s. In the story, the country folk are old fashioned and stubborn, and don't want any outsiders on their land, so josh and the army have a lot of work ahead of them. The songs in this one are pretty boring, and according to the soundtracks link, they cut another three that must have been even worse! This starts with a good story line, but it just kind of stumbles along. Elvis made this about halfway through his movie career. Directed by gene nelson, the first of two films he made with elvis. It's okay. It has a fun premise, but the song and dance numbers are just a big yawn.

My Favorite Spy

kay kyser wartime film.
The kay kyser one, not the bob hope one. Although the hope version is also pretty awesome. Kyser only made thirteen films, and this was right in the middle, during WW II. Co-stars ellen drew, jane wyman. Just as kay gets married to terry (drew), he gets inducted to the military. Undercover, even to his wife. Hijinx ensue, with the usual band member comedy bits, like his sidekick ish kabibble. You'll spot chester clute, who pops up in so many black and white films. And the talented william demarest, in his prime, years before mad, mad world or my three sons! It's a wartime story, with some comedy thrown in, since the u.s. Had just been yanked into the war. Directed by tay garnett, who had been in the service, and had started with sennett and roach. Produced by harold lloyd. It's fun. Silly. And entertaining.

A Woman of Affairs

never miss a garbo film
Greta garbo's career spanned the 1920s (silents) and 1930s (talkies). This one came about halfway through, just before the switch to talkies. And because it's a silent, you are forced to really pay attention. Featuring garbo and gilbert, the huge stars of the day. Co-stars a couple more big names.. doug fairbanks and lewis stone. Diana and neville want to be married, but his father wants to prevent it from happening. High drama, in spite of the fact that it's been toned way down from the original story. This started life as a novel, then a play, and later this film! According to the trivia section, because the original story had so many taboo elements, it was all changed around to get past the censors. Interesting, since so many of the production code rules didn't really get enforced until the early 1930s. It's a good film, in spite of all the changes. It was even nominated for best writing. And that's an accomplishment, since the story had been so altered. Directed by clarence brown. And pretty amazing picture quality, since this is coming up on 100 years old. Must have been a good restoration. Never miss a greta garbo film!

Stalag 17

W holden in his prime
A prisoner of war camp, where the prisoners have the upper hand. William holden is sefton, a prisoner of war in the german camp. There's a spy in the p.o.w. Camp, but nobody knows who it is. Some big names in this.... otto preminger, peter graves, sig ruman. A serious but entertaining look at prisoners of war. They finally figure out who the rat is, and take matters into their own hands. Clearly, the model for the tv series, hogan's heroes, great stuff. Directed by billy wilder. Holden won for best actor; was also nominated for sunset boulevard and network.

The Man in Grey

castle intrigue from eleanor smith
Two girls at boarding school get off on the wrong foot. Hesther is poor and dour, while clarissa is bright, rich, and bubbly. They agree to be friends, but a gypsy fortune teller has predicted sadness ahead for them. Clarissa marries lord rohan (james mason ), a nasty nobleman who likes to start fights. But he needs an heir. Later, while clarissa is distracted by a handsome stranger (granger), lord rohan gets cozy with hesther. None of these people are nice humans. Drama and scheming. The gypsy was right. Much sadness ahead. Stand back... they do use the N word, a sign of the times. Directed by les arliss. Written by lady eleanor smith, who died so young at 43. Wrote several novels. Harry scott, the young porter, also died young at 49. Castle intrigue. Good stuff, for the most part.

The Bedford Incident

what could go wrong?
Richard widmark is finlander, captain of a ship in the post WW II, cold war era. While patrolling the north seas, they encounter a russian submarine. And we see that finlander doesn't always follow orders. He's been told to stand down and just observe. But he may not be able to do that. Some other pretty big names here; sidney poitier is a reporter, who can't seem to do anything right, in the captain's eyes. Marty balsam is the ship's doctor. You'll recognize the voice of wally cox from television and commercials; he worked several times with lucy. Sadly, he died young at 48. James macarthur was also dan williams in hawaii five-O. What happens when a rogue captain can't keep his anger and pride in check? Lots of drama, and well done. Doctor strangelove had just come out the year before. Directed and produced by james harris. Based on the book by mark rascovich.

Viva Las Vegas

elvis and ann margret
The magic between ann margret and the elvis! Not many girls could equal the elvis zing. Lucky jackson is a race car driver, but he has to work as a waiter to pay for the car. Co-stars cesare danova. It's old vegas. Most of the old clubs are called something else now. William demarest is martin, rusty's dad. Its silly and cheesy, but very much a typical elvis film. The best part of this film is seeing the original sahara tower, surrounded by nothing but sand! Ah, the good ol days. Rusty must choose between lucky and the count. And of course, E's big number, where he does his big hit viva las vegas! Theoretically, teri garr and kent mccord are extras. Directed by george sidney, the only one he made with elvis. It's goofy and fun. About midway through elvis' movie career.


elvis the race car driver.... again
This one was towards the end of elvis' adventure film career. After this, he and the colonel concentrated on the singing tours. A few familiar faces, with nancy sinatra, bill bixby, gale gordon (oohhh... Mrs. Carmichael! ) and of course, bill schallert! For a while, he held the record for the most bit parts and appearances. Elvis is a race car driver (again!), who sings in his spare time. And helps a family down on their luck. He gets busted for creative income taxes, at over an hour in. Apparently, he's in trouble with the IRS... needs to raise lots of cash fast! There's a song and dance bit at the income tax office, and we have jumped the shark. I love nancy s, but if that "your groovy self" song goes any slower, we'll need to put it out of its misery. It's already the same melody as boots! Too bad they couldn't come up with something better, since they had her for the film. This one is extra corny. Elvis fans must see it, but it aint no shakespeare. Check out the cast list for some actual car racers. Norman taurog had directed nine films with elvis, and only made one more after this. Taurog's one oscar was back in 1931 for skippy. Sadly, bixby died young at 59 of cancer, but had two hugely successful series, courtship and the hulk!

Uptown Saturday Night

sidney poitier acts & directs
HUGE all star cast of poitier, cosby, belafonte, flip wilson, richard pryor. Huge. Huge. When friends jackson and franklin get held up at a gambling joint, they decide to track down the robbers to reclaim their cash. Fist fights, shootouts. Keep an eye out for roscoe browne (the comedians), and even ray parker as an extra. Directed by the awesome mister sidney poitier! Cosby, pryor, and poitier all had huge film careers. Belafonte is probably better known as a musician. It's silly, but fun. Some cussing. Some funny lines. A step up from the blax-ploitation films that were so prevalent in the 1970s.

Public Enemies

gangster period piece.
Snapshot of the gangster crime wave taking place in the 1930s. Depp is dillinger; stephen graham is nelson; tatum is floyd. Capone, nitti. Christian bale is purvis, the fbi agent, trying valiantly to take them all down, at the chicago office. It's pretty good, in spite of some minor liberties with the facts. Told from purvis' point of view. A few digs at hoover, who was all about the public image of the fbi, and was constantly trying to get more funding. As expected, lots of shooting, violence, blood and guts. It's quite good! They focus on catching dillinger. Odd controversy over purvis' (early) cause of death; see wikipedia dot org for more information. Directed by michael mann.

Interior. Leather Bar.

spoilers ** this one gets pretty rough!
Title cards at the start explain the premise of this film. In the film cruising from 1980, al pacino plays an undercover cop, investigating murders in the gay community. Due to the sexual material in the story, some of the footage had to be edited out of the released film. "interior" shows what footage might have been filmed, but not included in cruising. It has a reality feel to it; we see the interviews and discussions between the director and actors on what they are trying to make. So much talking. Actual filming didn't start until thirty minutes in. Masturbation and real sexual activity between men, so definitely not for the kids! More discussion between the director and the actors. Lauren claims to have reservations about the role he is playing, but we don't know how much is acting and how much is his own, actual opinion. Live sexual activity, with franco and the other actors discussing the film. It's good. In the one hour film, there's eight minutes of filmed sexual activity, and another four minutes of filmed dancing and driving. Directed by james franco, travis mathews. Val lauren has worked with franco on ten projects. It's good, but definitely won't be for everyone.

Triple Frontier

robbing a drug lord
When a band of former special ops gets back together to rob a south american drug lord, things go okay at first. And then it starts coming apart. And of course, the owners of the money are going to come after them. It's mostly very good. The expected argument between two old friends, a la treasure of the sierra madre style. In spite of all the trouble they had even getting this made (see the trivia section), it's quite well done. Directed by jc chandor; he was nominated for margin call. Story by mark boal. Two oscars for hurt locker. Seems to be an expert in special ops stories.

Always Leave Them Laughing

uncle milty in the story of comedy
The comedy giants of the black and white era film. Uncle milty. Bert lahr. Alan hale, who must have been in every single movie made before 1950. The top actresses of the day virginia mayo, ruth roman. Kip ( milton berle) is trying to book somewhere, anywhere, but ... he's past his prime, and all his gags are old, dusty vaudeville bits. Television killed off vaudeville way back when. Even one of the agents says "this kind of thing went out ten years ago." there's some funny stuff in here, done by the pro's, but it won't be for everyone. Some fun guests, and many references to other performers. Unfortunately, he does blackface, a reference to al jolson. Possibly the last time it was done in the movies. Fountain pens? Just shows how old the material really was. The story is pretty silly, but we do get to see milty doing comedy. And drag. He did mostly television after this. Directed by roy del ruth, who had started out with the genius mack sennett. Del ruth has an interesting story detailed on wikipedia dot org; he worked with all the greats.

Long Story Short

cute story
After meeting a stranger in the cemetery, teddy's life starts taking strange leaps forward. He (rafe spall) and leanne (zahra newman) are suddenly experiencing things they had not done before. It has a fun, light sense of humor, even while dealing with some serious subject matter. Teddy hems and haws, like a young woody allen. And when he has these time jumps, no-one really seems to notice, or take him seriously. Can he hold it together, while things are falling apart all around him? It's kind of whimsical and tragic, at the same time. It all works. It's cute. Written and directed by josh lawson. He was oscar nominated for "eleven oclock". And plays the psychiatrist. And his brother jordan lawson plays the epipen dude.

Observe and Report

script has some weak moments
Mall cop ronnie (rogen) chases after a flasher, but can't seem to catch him; so local police detective harrison (liotta) is brought in to track him down. Now it's a contest to see who can find the flasher first. The problem with this film is that it isn't sure what it wants to be... the material is so close to being a comedy, but the writing just isn't that funny. It's almost inspirational, but not quite. The writer needed to pick a category and commit to it. And when someone gets shot, they never discuss gun laws, but it does make you stop and think. Small roles for patton oswalt, aziz ansari. Watch for celia weston, who played jolene on the tv series alice. She's the best part of this. Written and directed by jody hill. He's married to collette wolfe, who plays nell in this film! Released april 2009, while paul blart had already been released in january 2009.

Border Cafe

rawtha daring, for the time.
When keith, the senator's son (john beal) can't keep out of trouble, he heads down to texas for a while. While there, he gets drunk and gets into more trouble, losing all his money. So tex (harry carey) takes him under his wing. Keith and the singer share a room, a daring move for the 1930s. When the senator (george irving) comes to check on things, the real adventures begin. Keep an eye out for armida... she sings and dances in the cafe. Directed by lew landers. Directed films and television from the 1930s into the 1960s. Based on the story by thomas gill. It's a pretty simple story, quick moving at 67 minutes. Good stuff.

The Gray Man

new version of an old storyline
Ryan gosling, chris evans. "six" agrees to work for the cia in return for letting him out of prison ten years early. But one of his missions lands six some very valuable information. So now they focus on taking him out! Can he evade the bad guys who are pretending to be the good guys? It's all very dark and mysterious. So many things are never explained. Seems to be intentionally fast moving and all action based. Lots of fighting, violence. So many quick cuts in every action scene. Some of the conversations between hansen and fitzroy are a bit over the top. Exotic locations. Very scenic. The story certainly isn't new, but it's entertaining. Directed by the russo brothers, a netflix project. The music was great, but so many scenes were just way over the top.

Drugstore Cowboy

good one from gus v.s.
Another film directed by the awesome gus van sant. In 1971 portland. Matt dillon, kelly lynch. Bob and his crew knock over the local pharmacies for pills. We can tell when bob is tripping... trees and animals go flying across the screen. They keep making sloppy mistakes, as they try to stay one step ahead of the cops. It doesn't help that bob is superstitious, and they keep on jinxing themselves with bad luck. Or maybe its just because they make really bad decisions. He wants to get into a rehab program, but he's also smart enough to know the challenges he is facing. This one is much more finished and professional than mala noche, an earlier film by gvs. Pretty good stuff. Based on the story by james fogle.

Nikki Glaser: Good Clean Filth

rough but funny.
Hilarious! I've heard her on sirius xm, on raw dog comedy channel. She's awesome! A one hour standup show, now on hbo channel. It gets pretty weird, so you can't take her too seriously. And definitely not for the young ones! Lots of brutally honest talk about sex, so be prepared ! Funny stuff.

The Shining Hour

joanie does it again! spoiler
Mommie dearest in another story where there's a troubled marriage, and the conflict seems to be centered around joan's character. It's what she excelled at. But in this case, it feels like they changed the ending to give a warm, fuzzy, love-story ending to the audience. Olivia's long, serious speech where she tells her husband that it pains her to hurt him so, and that she knows she can't change feels like that the original ending. But then henry (douglas) runs after her anyway.. it would be interesting to know how the original play ended. Huge huge names in this one... m. Sullavan, h. Mcdaniel, r. Young, f. Bainter. Even ogden nash was brought in to spiff up the script. It's a good one.


sign o the times
In spite of all the negative issues surrounding the film, it does have a couple redeeming qualities; if you listen very closely, there is some very clever, naughty, wordplay, hidden in the brit accents. And extra credit to donen, harrison, and burton for even having the guts to make it, in spite of the treatment of gays and gay couples at the time. The 1970 version of boys in the band portrayed them as pretty miserable too. I think all the bickering and insults were pretty indicative of any couple that had been together all those years, and were getting on each other's nerves.

Chung Hing sam lam

wkw was just getting started
Cute one, from wong's earlier days. Two police fall in love. The first thirty minutes are mostly a bunch of fast motion cuts. Someone seems to be smuggling drugs sewn into suits. One toys with the other, stalking him and even going into his apartment. California dreamin, over and over and over. A little weird. She tries to work her way into his life, but will he like the advances?? It's cute, but you'll never want to hear california dreamin ever again!

Fa yeung nin wah

good stuff!
One of wong's better works! So much less trippy and ethereal than fallen angels, it's very plot driven. Two neighbors realized their spouses are having an affair, but they resolve to be platonic friends. Fashion and outfits, and even the weather play a huge part in this one. Good solid plot, unlike some of his films. I really liked this one. Exactly what happens at the end is left up to the viewer, so some may not like it as much as i did.

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