dougdoepke

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Pillow Talk
(1959)

Day Shows Her Winning Stuff
It's Day-glow all the way through, even lifting the ordinarily bland handsomeness of Hudson to a delightful level. No wonder their lively pairing continued through several more romantic comedies of the day. Clad in some colorful outfits, Day's glowing charm darn near turns the flick into a blonde haired showcase even without her usual spotlight songs.

So, what will business woman Jan (Day) do. She can't use her two-party phone line to conduct business since romeo Brad (Hudson) has it tied up with overtures to his many girlfriends. Now Jan hates a guy she's never seen. But what will she do when she finds out that the new guy she's fallen for, Rex Stetson, is one and the same Brad that she still hates. Stay tuned.

Sure, the flick's 1950's romantic fluff. Then too, the many innuendoes, though cutting edge for the time, may seem tame by today's relaxed standards. Nonetheless, the stellar cast and production crews have created a cross-generational appeal for both today's eye and ear. And what a belly laugh when the medical Obstetrics Ward chases Brad down a hallway thinking he's got his gender identity seriously confused. But then he does say wacky things and does exit a ladies restroom. On the other hand, it's comedically gifted Tony Randall as Jonathan, Jan's other man. Here he's not given much to do, but then a display of his usual skillful antics might have detracted from the show's overall theme.

Anyway, the flick remains a lasting delight, thanks mainly to the Day-glow that continues to shine even 60-years later.

Father Knows Best: The Rivals
(1958)
Episode 17, Season 4

Outstanding Entry
So which guy will Betty go out with on date night: steady boyfriend Ralph or handsome newcomer Doyle. Then again, don't discount a long pole and a tied-fly that's hanging in there too.

It's an outstanding entry. Betty's jealous of popular girl Marge and her many boyfriends while Betty only has one. Then too, the blonde Marge (Barbara Eden!) may come in doors here instead of streaming out of magic genie bottles, but she's still awfully cute competition. And speaking of later big TV roles, note Roger Smith as Doyle, soon to star in the popular 77 Sunset Strip.

But maybe most of all, catch that opening scene that briefly shows the excellence of the series' cast and crew. Instead of a more conventional and blander group shot, the director's camera edits into close-ups of each individual Anderson as they bandy about Betty's coming night out. That directorial move both heightens the situational humor and focuses on how skillfully Young, Wyatt, and the kids perform, especially with their expressive eye movements. Sure, it passes quickly, but it's emblematic of the quality that helped carry the show across decades.

And, oh yes, shouldn't forget Betty's date night swirling skirt or the dizzying square dance that still has me grabbing my chair arms. I hope they paid the dance extras double for their flashy aerobics.

Anyhow, in my little book, it's an outstanding entry helping to show why an enduring series remains both enduring and wholesomely humorous. So don't miss it.

The Riders of the Whistling Skull
(1937)

The Mesquiteers Bump Into The Twilight Zone
Plot - The 3 hero buddies join a girl (Russell) and others, all determined to find her missing archaeoloist dad in a strange Indian land far from settler civilization.

The flick's a genuine oater oddity. The 3 Mesquiteers and their allies are arrayed against a mysterious rock skull and its hostile Indian cult, with hints of preternatural happenings surrounding the ugly skull. For example, there's the apparently dead Indian woman suddenly and jarringly coming to life. Now, oaters of old may not have been known for their realism, but here there's a strange air of an 'other world' that may be lurking behind the disappearance of the archaeologist.

And dig that spectacular Technicolor cliff-scape, whose jagged rocks the two warring sides climb, clamber, and fall from. It's a landscape from Mars and unlike the usual cowboy wilderness. Oddly, the effect is all from inspired location filming, with no studio backdrops in sight. And catch the many creative camera angles and set-ups that magnify the strange visual atmosphere.

There's also plenty of action that largely replaces the usual talk or character development; instead, it's the rocks and cliffs that get center stage. Then too, shouldn't overlook that big rock-slide near the end that still has me wondering how they did it, and in only an 8-day filming schedule. My only complaint is the apparent use of a trip-wire to bring down two horses head-over-heels and probably to their doom. Good thing the movie practice was soon outlawed.

I suspect the flick's been generally overlooked because of a strangeness that doesn't easily fit into the matinee cowboy genre. Now, I'm not saying the flick's a sleeper classic or hidden gem. Instead it's definitely a weird one-of-a-kind and should not be missed. So catch it if you can.

Dick Tracy
(1945)

Good Touches Add Up
Better than I expected. The little flick's stylishly done, with atmospheric dark shadow, eye-catching set-ups and strong character close-ups. The storyline's sometimes hard to follow, but maybe that's just me. Then too, there's more to the mystery than just who baddie Splitface really is, such as the deadly significance of the number '14' or the apparently needless money payoffs. And catch that grabber opening, worthy of the best noir - (so why is a sexy woman walking down a dark street in the middle of the night, alone? Good thing it's only a movie.)

Sure, the production's still a cheap programmer, while the acting is just routine. But the flick does have quality background, namely RKO during that studio's noirish 1940's. So give it a try, even if you're not especially a Tracy fan. And even though they don't always blend, the good touches do add up.

(In Passing - Growing up in a small mountain town in the '40's, the Tracy cartoon strip really stimulated my imagination, what with sinister deformed types like Flat-Top, Pruneface, Littleface, and Breathless Mahoney, all pictured here in the opening credits. I guess I've never outgrown them, even as a now geezer. Anyway, thanks again to strip creator and screenwriter Chester Gould for his own contagious imagination that still shows even here.)

The Legend of Lizzie Borden
(1975)

Shrewdly Crafted Version Of The Legend
The flick's a better suspenser than I expected. Whatever the real facts of the Lizzie Borden murder case, the movie can stand on its own, and is especially revealing in its well-crafted symbolism.

By this time I've got actress Montgomery's youthful facial features memorized thanks to the many unsmiling close-ups. So what's going on with debutante Borden. She looks harmless enough. And housed securely in a servant quartered mansion, what could she want for except maybe a life of her own, like the flying pidgeons she so adores. Then too, catch that early full-figure mirror shot suggesting a hidden second self beneath the submissive outer Lizzie. That's not surprising given her step-mother's cruel antics or her father's placing the step-mom ahead of Lizzie in his will. Nor does it help when he cruelly axes Lizzies' domesticated pidgeons in the family barn. How then to explain all this after his apparent lifetime of near wedding-ring devotion to Lizzie. So now, it appears she's caught in a trap not of her own making. In short, her own hidden pidgeon cannot yet fly, nor, it appears, will it ever.

The morbid role of Lizzie amounts to a big turnaround for actress Montgomery. None of that comedic Bewitched's twitchy nose antics here. Instead she brings off the demanding role in engrossing fashion. It's a carefully worn mask she wears with only an occasional wobble.

Then too, actress Helmond gives Lizzie's conflicted sister Emma the kind of soul-searching grief expected of someone aware of the family's insides. Emma is somewhat aware of Lizzie's inner person, but should she confess to the court prosecutor and perhaps seal Lizzie's courtroom fate. That's her predicament such that Emma too must deal with her own inner ordeal.

All in all, the flick's a riveting psychological drama, whose human element remains despite the passing years. So, whatever the legend, give it a try.

A Shriek in the Night
(1933)

Good Parts Awkwardly Combined
Plot- A series of baffling deaths occur in a creepy old mansion as two rival newspaper reporters compete for exclusives.

This cheapo flick has a number of good touches: there's shadowy fright; a romantically humorous twosome; a few neat twists; along with others, like the hissing snake. Trouble is these touches do not blend well with an overly complex murder plot. It's more like awkward storylines bumping each other rather than blending together. Appears a rewrite was in order, after which, maybe a little longer runtime. Too bad, because had the parts blended better, we might have had a genuine sleeper.

Anyhow, it's a good chance to catch Rogers on her way up Hollywood's starlit ladder. Despite her later dancing and fluffy sparkle, she shows here an ability to act out the serious professional woman, a reporter who's humorously sabotaged by rival reporter Talbot. In fact, their final scene shows Rogers' innate versatility that later twirls atop the dance floor.

All in all, check out the flick, not so much as an awkward whodunit, but as an atmospheric drama with comedic overtones, and also a chance to catch a movie icon on her early way up.

Marshal of Cedar Rock
(1953)

Twists and Turns
After a slow start, the flick gets better as it goes along. The plot itself is pretty complex for an oater, but is well thought out despite a number of twists and turns. The storyline has a greedy mastermind scheming to bilk an association of farmers out of their money and land by selling the land to an incoming railroad. But because of the complex scheme and its opponents (Lane) it's not always easy tell who's a goodie or who's a baddie, which adds to interest.

There's plenty of hard riding and fast shooting, while the acting is better than most oaters. Grizzled old Eddie Waller has an unusual role, along with strapping hero Rocky Lane. My only gripe, minor though it is, are the poorly done process shots alongside the buckboard supposedly traveling the countryside. Nonetheless, for a 50 thousand dollar budget and a 5-day shooting schedule (IMDB), I'd say the producers and we matinee cowboys got more than our money's worth. So give the flick a try..

The James Dean Story
(1957)

Some Key Omissions
That first part tracking Dean's growing-up years in small town Indiana is almost poetically rendered. Dean appears an average kid participating in normal school activities, with little hint of the near-tortured soul of later life. The docu itself amounts to a succession of photographs centering on Dean, and are woven together by a very listenable narrator (Gabel), along with a few scattered interviews of family and friends. Generally those contents follow Dean's life in rough chronological order from Indiana to New York to Hollywood and finally to a lonely California road. All in all, the main point appears an effort at penetrating the nature of Dean's tortured soul, its where's and why's. How successfuly the effort does is up to the viewer to decide.

Several points about the account are worth noting. First, there's very little about the actor's career in movie's or TV. So don't expect to see out-takes from either. The narrative's concern is much more with Dean the person than with Dean the celebrity. So don't expect to see much of star-studded Hollywood. Secondly, there's little on the young man's romantic life, except for an anguished clip from an emotional Arlene Sax. Just what the extent of their involvement is left unrevealed, while there's no clippage from actress Pier Angeli with whom he's usually identified. Lastly, there's next to nothing on how Dean supported himself during those struggling apprentice years, a seemingly important element in his life story that also remains largely untouched.

Perhaps these neglected points have something to do with the year the docu was produced, namely 1957. At that point, Hollywood was still trying to cleanse its public image from the taint of nefarious doings claimed by the McCarthy, HUAC hearings of the early 50's. At the same time, about the only thing worse than being gay was being a communist. Thus rumors of Dean's being at least bi-sexual if not simply gay would have sullied his growing iconic image during that highly conservative period. Now, I'm not claiming this as factual reason for the general omissions, but it is a possibility given the nature of the era.

However you take that, there's plenty in the footage to interest Dean fans both old (like me) and new. Then too, a thanks to whoever rescued the docu from what's an apprently self-imposed exile, and also to Amazon for making the footage public. So, if you can, catch up with a cultural icon that somehow managed to escape that lonely California road.

Father Knows Best: Father's Biography
(1958)
Episode 16, Season 4

Good Blend
So which will Dad attend: Kathy's humorous tribute to Dad before an adult PTA meeting, or a session of prestigious city executives that may appoint him their president. Because of scheduling, it can't be both. Margaret urges the latter since Kathy will understand, while hubby will be adding to his modest self for a change. So it's really a conflict of values he must decide between. Which then will it be.

Happily, the series again blends charm with meaning such that neither overwhelms the other. But don't look for much of Bud or Betty; it's really Dad and Kathy's showpiece. And, oh yeah, catch that ethereal climax from above, so nicely underplayed. All in all, the entry again combines those solid entertainment values viewers can depend upon . So catch it if you can.

Hop-a-Long Cassidy
(1935)

Among The Best
Hoppy returns home only to get caught up in a rustlers' sceme that involves his friends Johnny (Ellison) and Uncle Ben (Hayes) and even Buck (Ming The Merciless!).

Aces all around, from great rocky locations, to better than usual acting, to a really surprising twist. From all this I can see why the Hoppy series became so popular following this first entry. Also, note that handsome youngster Ellison gets almost as much screentime as Boyd, maybe to entice younger viewers.

Then too, looks like the producers were intent on a big send-off since there's no stinting on the hard-riding gangs, cattle herds, or sustained outdoor locations.

Moreover, catch the imaginative camera set-ups that make good use of the rocky spire and action sequencess. The plot may be a bit worn, but happily it's imaginatively mounted. Also, catch the standing tree trunk that suddenly becomes a bed, along with cutie Mary's (Stone) jazzy dress that makes her stand out at the dance. All good touches.

Anyway, there's likely no better actor among matinee heroes than Hoppy's Bill Boyd as this flick abundantly shows. Ordinarily, I don't rate matinee westerns, but among them I'd give this one a "10". So, for front-row matinee fans like myself, don't miss it.

The Gorilla
(1939)

Overall, A Mess, But With A Few Good Touches
So just what is going on with the demonic gorilla and the mansion's mysterious powers, along with a chair that disappears people. If you can figure it out, there's a place for you at MIT. Just don't look for an outdoors in the flick. There is none. Instead the world's crammed into a lushly furnished mansion indoors, reflecting, I guess, the movie's stage play origins.

Anyway, for me, every time the stiff-backed Lugosi suddenly appeared, I rose-up and saluted - no one like him before or since. Then too, good thing house-keeper Kelly's there to pick up needed chuckles. She's got the good zany flair, that is, if you can get past her ear-splitting opening. And get a load of stern-faced Atwill as the mansion master. In fact these classic supporting players simply overwhelm the Ritz's feeble antics.

All in all the flick shows why the Ritz Bro's and their limp comedic style have since passed into movie oblivion The plot-line here is also too much for their meager antics. Nonetheless, I'm still trying to figure out the various plot twists and turns, but MIT needn't save a place for me. Meanwhile, I think I'll load up a Gabby Hayes horse opera for some genuine chuckles.

Bells of San Angelo
(1947)

The Series Gets A Boost
Did I see the movie correctly, or did Roy shoot Dale twice with a loaded gun! At least her white blouse showed no blood. After seeing that, I'm really glad that the famous cowboy couple got permanently hitched at the end of '47. In fact, there're a number of unexpected touches in this well-produced Rogers oater, including a baddie who actually grieves over his dead pet bird - how's that for humanizing a bad guy. Then too, looks like Republic popped a hefty budget for this Rogers programmer. The scenic Nevada buttes are a dramatic and eye-catching plus. And get a load of that strung-out silver mine clinging to the mountainside like a giant caterpillar.

So, can Roy, Devine, and Dale stop the smugglers from tunneling silver ore from the Mexico side of the border to the US side where it brings in a lot more dough. Those underground scenes in the cross-border tunnel are grimly well-staged. Meanwhile a really paunchy Sheriff Devine gets to throw his weight around in more than just comedic style -- so watch out bad guys. Meanwhile, the lovely Dale has a more meaningful plot role than usual, as a writer, no less. Then too, there's plenty of hard riding and fast shooting, along with flying fists that may surprise you (it did me). On the brief downside is a loose narrative, and maybe too few songs from the delightful Sons of the Pioneers.

All in all, its a nifty Rogers oater with a number of unusual touches. Also, it looks like Republic was maybe looking for a series uplft. So Front-Row guys and geezers, don't pass it up.

Four Star Playhouse: The Answer
(1954)
Episode 13, Season 3

Mainly A Matter Of Taste
Oddball entry that takes place in a sleazy bar where frustrated Hollywood screenwriter (Caruso) meets up with alcoholic genius (Niven) who knows eveything and apparently has The Answer to the world's most urgent question. So, what is that question and answer.

Good acting makes up for static setting, that is, if you can get past Niven's high-falutin' language, which may require a dictionary for translation. Catch Jones as scarcely veiled barroom hooker, unusually explicit for its time. All in all, the 1953 entry's mainly a matter of taste whose subtext is very much a product of its Cold War era. Niven fans however may exult at his second half spotlight.

In Old Cheyenne
(1941)

Catch The Girlies
That opening sequence in the railroad car is unusual for an oater. It's almost sparkling in an unexpected way, thanks to a lively Woodbury, a handsome Rogers, and a clever script. Anyway, there's more shooting in this hour's runtime than in WWII, but nobody falls no matter what. It's almost like they're shooting cap-pistols. For sure, I don't expect hard-nosed realism in a matinee oater, but this one really goes overboard in that key regard. Then too, maybe you can follow the plot, I couldn't, what with all the twists, turns and impersonations crammed in a short 60-minutes.

All in all, for me, the flick's mainly a personality western thanks to actresses Woodbury, and a feisty Payne who can cowgirl and sidle up to Roy with the best of them. And shouldn't forget crusty old Gabby, who's more here than just a funny sidekick. In fact, the flick has a number of lighter moments even with the baddies. So, despite the drawbacks, there are compensations for a front-row geezer like me.

Hit the Saddle
(1937)

A True Horse Opera
This is a real "horse opera"- that's what these oaters were called when I was a kid. So, catch those thundering four-footed herds as they charge down gulleys and across fields. Then there's the culminating battle between the two boss stallions for head horse of the herd. The Three Mesquiteers are here, but the focus is really on those wild equines that rivet audience eyes.

So, can our stalwart threesome stop rancher MacGowan from disguising his violent stallion Volcano as leader of the protected, wild herd. To do that, he'll have to replace good stallion Pinto as head horse. After all, MacGowan just wants to sell the herd for a big profit, maybe even for slaughter. So, if Volcano can get the herd to do enough damage to towns men, they'll lose protected status. Thus, it's a showdown not just between guys but between big strong critters, as well. So stay tuned.

(In passing - catch the lovely Rita Hayworth in an early film and before her hairline was cosmetically lifted, which in true Hollywood fashion became her ticket to big time movie stardom. So see what you think.)

The Rifleman: The Marshal
(1958)
Episode 4, Season 1

Manages Some Surprises
Some good surprises for a 1950's TV oater, thanks to writer-director Sam Peckinpah, then on his way up the Hollywood ladder. So, can aging ex-lawman Micah (Fix) sober up long enough to not only help fix Lucas's fence, but help stop the baddies who've killed the town marshal. And what the heck is handsome Lloyd (Drury) up to by following around baddies Flory and Andrew, as they menace everything in town. It's a more complex storyline than usual, but comes together pretty well. And catch actor Oates as Andrew goofing it up in colorful fashion. But it's really Fix's Micah who gets main focus as he goes through various character stages. But my real thanks is to playboy Drury, because without him we probably wouldn't see blonde cutie Nancy (Dalton) - boy, what a relief amid all the ugly guys. Anyway, be sure to catch this surprising episode and its stellar lineup of veteran actors.

I'll Take Sweden
(1965)

Not The Usual Hope Romp !
For a Hope fan like me, the flick was a disappointment. Don't look for his comically flustered style til the last part, when he runs amusingly through the many stranger-filled hotel bedrooms -- and just what is it those bedroom couples are doing? It's then that the movie really gels.

That's not to overlook the opening scene where gyrating teens of the mid-1960's could light up a city, while Hope's strait-laced father looks on disapprovingly. So how's he going to keep daughter Weld from marrying into Avalon's reckless crew. By moving to sophisticated Sweden, of course. Trouble is, as Dad finds out, Sweden's even looser sexually than back in the good old USA. Good thing Sweden's Dina Merrill is there to help ease his protective tension. But what about the stiffly handsome Slate whose got his Swedish eye on Weld. So what's Dad to do.

Basically the movie's about sexual innuendo at a time when American mores were changing from the conformist 1950's. (A couple more years and the free-wheeling Hippie movement would appear.) So in that cultural sense the movie appears unfortunately dated with its cutting-edge emphasis of the time. I'm surmising, but I suspect Hope was hoping to connect with the younger generation, given the flick's key aspects. Too bad his brand of delightful humor wasn't better served.

Anyway, for Hope fans, hang on til the last part when the tempo picks up. In the meantime, there's cutie Weld to entertain the eyes of hormonal guys like me.

Sunset on the Desert
(1942)

Difficult Plot, But With Compensations
Plot - Roy assumes role of his visual double, a bad guy, in order to uncover a complex land-grabbing scheme that's threatening his old homesite.

Here Roy has a double role, a bad guy as well as his usual cowboy hero. So, can you keep them straight, since they dress alike. Anyway, it's an overly complex plot in my little book, but not without compensations.

There's lots of scenic hard riding, even though it's the greater LA area. And catch the scenic rock spires of Vasquez Rocks, a cheap place to film being LA county property, which is why oaters of the time loved filming there.

Also, there's some fast shooting, but no flying fists. And, be sure to catch actress Beryl Wallace as good-bad girl Julie, who almost steals the show. She reminds me of voluptuous B-movie vixen Marie Windsor, e.g. (The Killing {1956}). Too bad Beryl died young in a plane crash.

The flick's also a fine baddie threesome of Fowley, Strange, and Barcroft, enough to please any old movie fan. Happily, Gabby adds his usual toothless mugging in amusing style. But what about Trigger. Catch his and Roy's ride down that steep hillside where it looks like the palomino is about to take a bad fall just as the filming shifts away. I sure hope he didn't.

All in all, it's an okay Rogers entry, but to me, the screenplay needs a re-write into a more appropriate 55-minute format. Still, Roy, Gabby and crew carry us along as usual. Thanks guys.

Father Knows Best
(1954)

Wholesome Family Entertainment
Like any long-running series some entries are better than others. Nonetheless, FKB has shown its lasting entertainment value over 60 years of TV revival. Sure, as some critics point out, the series is emblematic of an era long gone, an era of rising suburban prosperity, home appliances, living-room TV, plus the promise of more to come in an age of Eisenhower. Thus, the series now may seem both outdated and idealized to vocal critics.

But of course, that misses much of the point of FKB's continuing appeal, namely the robust entertainment value of a wholesome American family. After all, many comedic movies and radio shows from the Depression Era 30's and war era 40's continue their appeal despite being idealized reflections of their own period. So why not FKB.

And what could be easier chuckles than a bouncy Betty (Donahue), a grouchy Bud (Gray) and a feisty little Kathy (Chapin), along with a loving Dad and Mom (Young & Wyatt) supplying both parental wisdom and security. In fact, just thinking about Kathy's toothy little grin brings me a chuckle. Then there's my teenage crush on pretty Betty, but you don't have to be a hormonal boy to enjoy her swishing here and there. And good old Bud, whose crusty nature keeps things from getting too sticky. All in all, the series adds up to a triumph of casting and comedic scripting.

So, here's hoping the delightful series is around for another 60-years, idealized or not.

Blondie's Big Moment
(1947)

Postman, watch out for Blondie!
Can Dagwood hold on to his job? After all, he's spilled floppy fruit jelly all over his new boss Radcliffe; plus, he can't seem to distinguish dead fish from legal papers, even when his employer hangs in the balance.

But then, he is Dagwood and we do want goofy laughs. Good thing there's plenty in this solid B&D nutty farce. Most of the flick centers in D's office area, while the poor postman gets flattened, as usual. So, sidewalks, better watch out, this time for hard charging B, which I guess shows women can be bulldozers as well as men, even in 1945.

Anyway, the entry again shows why the series continued as long as it did. Chuckles galore. And, oh yeah, catch movie vet Cowan showing that he's got a goofy side as well as his usual Mr. Sober Sides. What a surprise for old movie fans (But why does IMDB list him so far down in the credits; really, the flick's his comic mugging showcase). Whatever the case, I sure hope Daisy and family got extra kibbles for performing on cue, and that B got to keep that sexy sparkly dress she wears to my delight. Then too, what about goggle-eyed little Slugger! Why doesn't he ever speak. Stay tuned to find out.

Meanwhile, I'm getting the next series DVD ready for loading after the next tough work day. In fact, my collection amounts to a reliable treasure for ready viewing, thanks mainly to the incomparable Lake and Singleton. So, chuckle-fest, play on.

Shotgun
(1955)

Meandering to Hear, Dazzling to Watch
Despite the promising setup where Deputy Marshal Clay (Hayden) vows to catch killers of his respected Marshal superior, the suspense of revenge fails to gel. The following pursuit carries him over miles of rugged western desert and sometimes hostile Apache. All in all, these are promising ingredients for a good dramatic oater.

Nonetheless, potential suspense fails to gel mainly because the storyline's cluttered by subplots involving DeCarlo and Scott. As scripted each detracts rather than adds to the main premise. But then both D and S were name performers at the time and I suspect they were added for marquee value. Nonetheless, what may have helped the box-office didn't help the end result, at least as scripted. And that's along with lots of meaningless slow riding that mainly pads the movie's runtime and adds nothing to a showdown build-up.

What the flick does have are dazzling red-rock backdrops of Sedona, Arizona. Thus eyes remain focused even as the story itself meanders. Then too, there are some good minor touches like Clay watering his desert-dry horse with his cowboy hat, a nifty unusual touch. Then there's Clay keeping his dirty shirt on after a dramatically staged fist-fight, thus showing an occasional concern for frontier realism.

My guess is that there's a good western buried somewhere beneath The Shotgun's meandering storyline. Certainly the Gary Cooper-like Hayden's capable of carrying out a really good oater. For example, the following year he would star in the best of all heist films, Kubrick's The Killing (1956), along with his many westerns.

Anyway, if you're more a fan of great natural scenery than a coherent storyline, then I recommend this Allied Artists 1955 flick, flawed though it is.

Father Knows Best: Calypso Bud
(1958)
Episode 15, Season 4

When Calypso Was Cool
Bang-up entry in more ways than one. So Bud's fascinated by bongo drums, wanting to practice day and night. Question is can the family stand his amateur pounding, doors closed or not, or his flopping over everytime he practices. But Bud's insistent, as he improves slowly but steadily. Still Dad and Mom wonder why he's so insistent and fascinated. There seems to be a hidden reason, but what.

Catch that superbly done opening that shows why the series was so successful. It's a great blend of talents. In fact, the whole Anderson family helps center Bud's role here along with the usual chuckles. But please, oh please, can't I take Betty to a party, any party. I've been wanting to since I first saw her so many years ago. Anyway, don't miss this humorous little time-passer, whether you have a crush on Betty or not.

The Woman in Red
(1984)

Mild Comedy at Best
As a comic actor Wilder's a hoot, especially when employed by nutty producer Mel Brooks, e.g. Young Frankenstein (1974). Here, however, it looks like he's bitten off more than he can chew. In short, he's director, writer, and lead actor, for the whole production. That's a big chew for most any show-biz talent including Wilder.

All in all the expected madcap doesn't really gel, even though the billowing red skirt's a real grabber for the plot set-up. No wonder Pierce's (Wilder) obsessed with the red-skirted girl from then on. Trouble is the comedy doesn't blend well with the more serious parts that soon emerge. Then too, looks like Wilder hired his buddies, Grodin, Bologna, (IMDB), and told them to just wing it. And they do in loud silly fashion, as they try to cover up Pierce's adulterous flings. Trouble is they're more clownish than funny. To me, the best part is when an angry Gilda Radner (Wilder's wife at the time) takes revenge on Pierce's car, and he doesn't know why. Thanks to her, I'm guarding my car's aerial from now on.

I hate to say so, but looks like an ego fling for Wilder when he had the luscious red-dressed Charlotte (LeBrock) fall for him romantically. Not only does he resemble wild-haired Harpo Marx, but there's a 27-year age difference, both of which put some distance between me and the movie screen when they clinch. Then too, the many domestic scenes with Pierce's wife Didi (Ivey) and their kids are too poignant to blend in with the overall humor, even when she's confronted by the wild looking Shelly who fondles her breast.

Anyway, Wilder's comedic talents happily remain despite this misfire and I never miss "Blazing Saddles" (1974) when I need a good laugh. Thanks Gene for those many triumphs, if not for this over-bite.

Idaho
(1943)

Good Imaginative Touches, Despite Complex Plot
The oater's got some good imaginative touches, like Roy's car-chasing showdown or the big gun-toting posse hidden behind a ridge. No western cliches here.

It's a complex plot set in contemporary times, as Roy tries to win reward money to save a needy boys' ranch. Trouble is bad girl Bonnie also wants the money for her ritzy beer joint, while bad guy Duke robs a bank, leading people to think reformed good guy Judge Grey has done it. Too bad Sheriff Bob is Roy's rival over sweetie Terry's affections though she keeps rejecting both. So Roy's got his work cut out for him, in more ways than one. Plus, you may need a scorecard to keep up.

Anyway, there's lots of good outdoor visuals, along with plenty of hard riding, but few fast guns, and no flying fists. And catch that opening scene with actress Ona Munson as baddie Bonnie. It fairly oozes an evil of cowboy noir, if there were such a thing. Then too, comical sidekick Burnette gets as much solo screentime as hero Roy, which he uses humorously and in a skillful way. Nonetheless, the youthfully handsome Roy shows who's in charge, despite the lesser screentime.

All in all, it's an imaginative oater with fewer genre cliches than usual, so catch it if you can. And, oh yeah, speaking of leading lady Grey as sweetie Terry, I'd sure like to ride off into the sunset with her. Okay, I can dream can't I.

Maybe I'll Come Home in the Spring
(1971)

Good Thoughtful Little Movie
At film's opening, the very vulnerable-looking Dennie (Field) is thumbing her way home after months away from a life of material comforts. But why has she left. As we soon learn, she left for a hippie life because Mom (Parker) and Dad (Cooper) made home life so difficult. Never mind that their suburban home was the last word in material comfort, from big swimming pool to well upholstered bedroom. After all, Mom was so loud and overbearing, constantly ordering poor teenie Dennie around, while Dad appeared uncaring and uninvolved. As a result, the looseness and love of hippie life with boyfriend Flack (Carradine) beckoned.

But now she's coming back home, tired of a hippie's hand-to-mouth existence and lack of material security, while Flack's drifting away on his own, a long way from suburban marriage. But once home again, can Dennie stay. After all Mom's just as loud and overbearing as usual, while Dad's still at a remove. Most importantly, however, is younger sister Susie (Bradbury), who looks like she too is being turned off by home life, taking pills and envying Sis for leaving. Now Susie can't understand why Dennie's returned, looking like she too yearns for a less submerged life. So what road will the girls take now that difficult alternatives between security and freedom have emerged.

All in all it's a thought-provoking flick for a TV-made movie beaming into conventional living rooms. My guess is that given tensions of the time, 1971, the flick was intended to warn suburbia that comforts alone may not be enough considering the allure of hippie life-style among the young. Whatever the case, whether or not there's a formula for happiness amounts to a good thought-provoking premise for any movie or time. Here, it's pretty well done.

It's a fine cast, really a showcase for the nubile young Sally Field. She's so appealing, we want the best for her, whatever life may hold. I guess my only complaint is that we needed to see more of the presumed hippie life-style, which tends to get crowded out. That may be because the parents are played by two well-known Hollywood actors: Oscar nominated Eleanor Parker and veteran performer Jackie Cooper. Could be that screentime was slanted their way for marquee purposes. Whatever the case, the flick's well worth tuning-in to, whatever a person's preferences might be.

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