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Reviews

Dead Again in Tombstone
(2017)

Tries so hard
I so wanted to like this movie and in some parts it does deliver, there is an excellent stagecoach sequence when the villains are in "hot pursuit". Danny Trego is OK in the lead but I feel he just cannot have enough talent to carry the film through on his own. The plot is discussed elsewhere but the mixture of a western and the supernatural is always interesting and as I said some sequences are rather well done and some of the landscapes are very impressive. The problem is a weak script and the major "downer" for the entire movie is Jake Busey, he may have inherited his father's looks but certainly none of his acting talent. His performance is one of the worst I have ever seen in a movie and has to be seen and heard to believe such bad acting is possible. A shame because the film is a valiant attempt and let down by the second lead.

The Durant Affair
(1962)

Pretty good budget movie
I beg to differ with the previous reviewer of this little film. In the first place several of the cast were quiet well known here in the U.K. Especially Conrad Phillips, here the films leading man and he gives a good performance as the barrister. He was TV's William Tell which was a huge success on both sides of the Atlantic and had a good career for over 40 years on Stage, TV and film. Here he is ably matched by his old William Tell partner- Nigel Green. It is a very interesting, well told little B movie, no fistfights just good dialogue and an interesting premise ( the plot is explained in full elsewhere and I see no reason to repeat it ). The only cliché is the lovey ending which we don't need but all in all an offbeat movie to while away 70 minutes and look for several faces that did much in the acting profession. Here in the U.K the film now has a DVD release.

Midsomer Murders: Death and the Divas
(2013)
Episode 4, Season 15

A missed opportunity
I was really looking forward to this episode. There could have been so much fun or excitement. Instead it is a very tedious episode from a once great series. This time it is not the fault of the lead actor. Yes, John Nettles is sorely missed but Neil Dudgeon is defeated by an abysmal script. Murders are brief and no build up of suspense. This could have been a great horror pastiche. What is really criminal is the waste of Hammer Horror greats John Carson and Caroline Munro. Munro gets one line! Carson, a superb actor does a little better, his opening scene is the only good sequence and leaves one begging for more. Sadly that was it. Anymore like this and Midsomer Murders is going to be killed off itself.

The Mind of Mr. J.G. Reeder
(1969)

The Color is there- but only in 2!!
The Mind of Mr.J.G.Reeder was a unique British series. Based on the Edgar Wallace novels it features Hugh Burden as the mild, meek and seemingly bumbling investigator. Of course in reality he is highly efficient, he always gets his man! Burden is quite brilliant and the series has an evocative atmosphere that lingers in the mind. Willoughby Goddard is also superb as his arrogant, doubting boss, he is quite happy to take the credit for Reeder's successfully solved cases. One of the running gags is that there is a different secretary in every episode. Presumably the boss is too much for them. There were only 16 episodes, two are in colour. At the time colour TV was in it's infancy on British TV. We can assume that either only 2 episodes were filmed in colour or that the colour prints for the rest of the series no longer exist and only survive in black and white. However we are presented with a thoroughly enjoyable series that really does capture the flavour of Wallace's books. Reeder investigates all aspects of crime ranging from murder, through blackmail to burglary.Sit back, relax and enjoy.

Incident at Phantom Hill
(1966)

Good vintage style western
Incident at Phantom Hill was released in 1966 as the western fad was fading- more's the pity as it's a cracking good western film. A great cast of western stalwarts lead by Robert Fuller from TV's Laramie as the hero and Dan Dureya as the ultimate villain. Any film featuring Dureya has class and here he chews up the scenery. Also along, the beautiful Joycelyn Lane and western heavies Claude Akins and Noah Beery jr. The plot involving a search for a lost horde of gold in remote Indian country moves along at a good pace.Directed by old hand Earl Bellamy , we are treated to some great location work and excellent character studies.I wish that all the actors had more time to display their talents but really it's a three way show with Fuller, Dureya and Lane to the fore.However Tom Simcox manages to register well as a survivor of the opening massacre of union soldiers . Dureya leads the confederacy on this attack and he has plans for this gold, just for himself. It is surprising that Fuller did not get more movie leading roles, he should have as he is the classic western hero.This film with it's excellent colour photography merits a DVD release and it has just received one in France, of course it's Pal but there is an English track. About time it was released in USA and U.K.

Glencannon
(1959)

A vintage treat
A wonderful long forgotten show ( by most people anyhow ). Glencannon ran one series of 39 episodes in 1959 . The series was based on the very famous books by Guy Gilpatric. Glencannon is played by the great character actor Thomas Mitchell. Although he didn't fit Gilpatric's description of the character he made a great stab at the role.Mitchell dominates every single scene and he is in almost every one as well.Glencannon is a tight fisted rogue but he really is lovable.His adventures take him all over the world , courtesy of limited stock footage! The series was a delight to watch, the scripts were clever. One episode, The Rolling Stone featured Glencannon hoping to be the beneficiary of his 108 year old uncle, who seemed to go on forever.Outwitting two other relations he finds his sprightly uncle leaving all his money to a bird society.Watching him connive his way back into the will is very funny.Sadly these shows never seem to show up on air these days.More's the pity, I have seven episodes and judging by them I would love to see the series again.I still have vivid, pleasant memories of my family glued to the TV every Monday following the adventures of Glencannon and his crew.Patrick Allen was the first mate, he was amused by Glencannon and often collaborated with him on one of his get rich schemes, the rest of the crew were somewhat more wary.

Come back to these shores Glencannon, we need you!

The Rogues
(1964)

The Rogues is available on DVD.
To all those people that continually ask The wonderful series The Rogues has been released on DVD but only in Germany. You can obtain 20 of the 30 episodes. The picture quality is excellent and you can hear the soundtrack in English.But beware the region coding is fine for any DVD players in Europe but not USA players. This was a wonderful show with a sparkle that is missing from shows today.The whole cast was perfection itself. I have just viewed the episode Mr. White's Christmas and it was superb. A wonderful re working of Dicken's A Christmas Carol, therefore perfect Christmas viewing.I thought the 3 leads were brilliant but the series was made so special by the excellent playing of Gladys Cooper and Robert Coote in almost every episode.The Real Russian Caviar stands as a highlight of the series.

Gone to Earth
(1950)

Magical adaptation of Mary Webb's novel
I heartily recommend this film, but as others have said before me, avoid the dreadfully hacked version- The Wild Heart. It amazes me that Selznick could ruin such a wonderful piece of cinema. For me the locations are stunningly beautiful yet bleak. Based on the Mary Webb novel the movie was filmed in Shropshire , the book , as most of Webb's were, was also set there. The windswept Stiperstones and The Devil's Chair are not make believe. They really do exist and you can easily visit these locations.I always wanted to visit Shropshire, as a child I loved the Lone Pine stories by Malcolm Saville that were set there ( I still do ). They, as Webb's stories all were set in real places. The little church ( Godshill ) in the film is still standing and you can still make out the shape of the baptism pool in the garden. It's a beautiful, atmospheric place.I have now visited these locations several times. The long chimney you see standing in several sequences can still be found in the ruins of the old Snailbeach mines. It is so wonderful to stand in these places, on these hills ( the stiperstones, the Long Mynd ) and imagine 57 years ago when all the actors and crew stood in the very same place, you can't explain how you feel, but it's something very extraordinary.The film itself is a strangely evocative piece that features eerily scored music, wild but effective performances. Cyril Cusack stands out in a restrained, dignified part as the sad parson.It is his character that I felt so sorry for.Although poor Jennifer Jones ( Hazel ) is a tormented soul that you can't help but feel attracted to.A glorious piece of cinema of the past with wonderful locations. The plot may be all too familiar but the scenery, the characters and yes, Foxy all help pass the time in a blink of an eye. Watch it a couple of times, each viewing brings out something else that you may have missed.

Ghost Squad
(1961)

A great film noir series
Ghost Squad was a British series that commenced in 1961. The first 13 episodes were shot on high quality film and still look great today.Unfortunately the second, longer series suffered from a strike at the time and was therefore shot on video tape and it shows.The first series starred Michael Quinn as Nick Craig, special Ghost Squad operator.Also starring as his boss was the legendary theatre actor, Donald Wolfit.This first series is a gem. Espionage, murder, robbery, international intrigue and Nick Craig was always there.Great to see so many British upcoming actors, Honor Blackman, Douglas Wilmer, Roger Delgado, John Cairney, William Hartnell, so many more.The entire series has now been released on DVD in the U.K. I recommend it strongly to the t.v. collector.The second series gave Craig a new boss , Donald Wolfit was gone. Neil Hallett came in as another agent and his stories generally rotated with Craig's.It's still a good show but the loss of quality really does show on video tape.Michael Quinn was an American actor with only a few bit parts to his name when he landed the lead. In the beginning his inexperience shows but to his credit he vastly improves quickly and for me despite other actors appearing as agents , Craig is always the interesting one.Neil Hallett is fine and probably the better actor of the two. However there is something about Quinn as Nick Craig that really does convey the life of a lonely agent.Some sources state that Craig is blown up in the episode "A first class way to die". This is untrue, he is alive and well at the end of series 2.However when the series returned a year later under the title, GS.5 , Nick Craig was gone and Miller ( Neil Hallett) sets out to avenge his death, but Craig's demise is never shown to the audience. Was Quinn dropped or did he leave? We shall never know.Quinn went back to America and only managed small roles in shows like Bewitched and Dallas. I have heard he then went to Australia and appeared in Neighbours as a doctor. I have been unable to verify this, so if anyone could help, please do let me know.Would be interesting to know if he is still alive, if he is it seems a shame he is not there giving a commentary on a landmark t.v. series.Ghost Squad was the first British one hour dramatic show and to this day the majority of the stories stand up well, give it a whirl.

Clash by Night
(1964)

Interesting little "b" movie
I don't agree fully with the first reviewer of this film. Whilst I accept that all the clichés are indeed overworked and obvious as the previous reviewer points out , the film itself is entertaining in other ways. As a period piece of the 60's it is great to see that the British stalwarts are all there. Terence Longdon , the lead is o.k. It's good to see Harry Fowler in a typical wide eyed cockney performance. Also of interest is Alan Wheatley ( t.v's villainous Sheriff of Nottingham in the Richard Greene - Robin Hood series ) and lo and behold there is John Arnatt ( the deputy sheriff from the same series ). This time however they are on opposite sides of the law. I suppose it's especially interesting for me as for many years I was a friend of Alan Wheatley's. He was a fine educated man who enthralled me with his tales of filming and the many stars he worked with. I always enjoy his film performances.Then there is Jennifer Jayne ( from t.v's William Tell ), Peter Sallis, Robert Brown, all great supporting actors of British cinema. Taken as a low budget filler there is much enjoyment to be had from the film. O.k. so prisoner's bus is hi jacked and the passengers who all but one are criminals are left stranded in a barn covered with paraffin. One of the prisoners is a loony, another is a decent guy who may have committed fraud, another is a petty thief who has to discover the error of his ways, plus we have the lead's character who killed a guy attempting to rape his wife. So there you have it, all the plot lines are indeed cliché, but the acting from the stalwarts fleshes out the characters and time flies by. Give it a whirl and don't be too harsh.

The Detectives
(1959)

Good, gritty cop show.
The Detectives was a pretty good cop show that ran 3 seasons, the first two were 30 minute episodes but the last season expanded to 60 minute shows. When you read the above cast list it credits the leads of the series at the very bottom and as only having one episode each. Of course this is incorrect. From the start it was obviously going to be Robert Taylor's show but he had fine support especially from the excellent Tige Andrews who was the only other lead to stay the course of the show. In the first two seasons we had Russell Thorson as the aged experienced detective but when the third season went to 60 minutes he was dropped and two young guys were bought in, Mark Goddard and Adam West.We had an excellent, strong cast and good, gritty stories. High points had to be The Legend Of Jim Riva starring Edward G. Robinson and the wonderfully, evocative, poignant episode Song of the guilty heart starring Inger Stevens and providing an excellent episode for Tige Andrews who has the pivotal, compassionate lead role in that episode.Robert Taylor really disliked t.v but he gave an authoritative performance each week and along with Tige Andrews and of course Adam West, Mark Goddard and Russell Thorson's fine performances this ensured it became a believable show that had some excellent writing. It remains a series that lingers in one's memory. Doubt we will ever get a DVD release but it can still be found playing the cable channels.As a footnote to this review I would like to say that I corresponded with one of Tige Andrew's sons- Tony - a few years ago, he is a real nice guy and to top it all I had a very nice hand written letter from Tige plus a great signed photo, he told me that would be the last time he sent an autographed photo as he had generally stopped working then, it was a very nice personal letter, rest in peace Tige Andrews, a fine actor, a fine person.

Pantomime Quiz: The Rawhide Cast
(1962)

A wonderful TV moment
I so wish I could see all this programme. About 10 minutes of it are shown on a video of TV westerns. Eric Fleming ( trail boss Gil Favor, Clint Eastwood ( Rowdy Yates ), Paul Brinegar ( Wishbone ) all show up in their Rawhide outfits. For fans of the series and especially Eric Fleming, it's a fantastic programme to see.The quiz follows it's usual pattern as the guests play out charades. It is so obvious Eric and the others are really enjoying this change of pace.It's also a very rare opportunity to see Eric Fleming as himself.He and Clint Eastwood seem to get on well during the show.I just can't understand why this has not been released as an extra on the Rawhide DVD release. If you can find this programme you are very lucky indeed. A golden gem from TV's past.

North of the Rio Grande
(1937)

A film that deals with character rather than action
This entry into the Hopalong Cassidy series proves to be an interesting one. Directed by Nate Watt , the film is a character study and is successful in this objective. Nate Watt only directed 7 Cassidy films, more's the pity as he really managed to get under the character's skins more than any other director.All of his Hoppy films are slow in pace, very atmospheric, more adult than the usual series films , and very strong on the principle characters involved. This film features a typical downbeat Nate Watt opening. Hoppy's brother Buddy has been murdered ( he was in a previous Hoppy film ). Hoppy, Lucky and Windy set out to investigate "The Lone Wolf", a bandit and mastermind behind many robberies in the town , plus the instigator of Buddy's murder. Stephen Morris ( aka Morris Ankrum ) is the villain of the piece. Lee J. Cobb is in a small part.The female lead, as in most Watt films is far stronger than usually portrayed in a Hoppy film. Bernadene Hayes has a real charm and really enhances the film. There is an obvious bond between her character and Hoppy , this is nice for a change from the Lucky character's usually silly romances.The final scene is beautifully acted by Boyd and Hayes, watch their eyes as they both convey their true feelings. Another beautifully directed sequence has Hoppy and Faro Annie ( Hayes ) dancing in the saloon whilst Windy plays the piano. Hayes sings "When Irish eyes are smiling ". This is beautifully done and it is obvious to any viewer Boyd is thoroughly enjoying the change of pace.There is a cracking finale with the villain and Windy on board a runaway train and again a poignant scene when Hoppy and Lucky believe Windy to be dead.This is not the finest Cassidy, indeed not Nate Watt's best but it has moments of originality and sheer bliss that should not be missed.

Sadly Nate Watt's career never really took off as it should have. But it should be noted he was assistant director on the classic 1939 film Of Mice and Men. I like to think he contributed a lot to that wonderful film.

The Shop Around the Corner
(1940)

Wonderful, feel good film.
So much has been written about the film's plot, the wonderful acting performance, the script, the melancholy, bittersweet atmosphere, the superb direction - what can I add? Just watch for one of the most heart warming, beautifully acted, poignant scenes ever filmed. It is Christmas eve and Frank Morgan's character (the owner of the shop - Mr. Matuschek)is recovering from his broken marriage and a suicide attempt. As each of his employees leave he invites them to a Christmas dinner. Each and everyone of them politely turn him down. They all have plans for their own Christmas eve. At this stage there is a deep sadness to this moving scene. Frank Morgan gives the performance of his career and this scene easily brings me to tears. Thankfully we have a happy denouement to this very special scene. The new employee, the errand boy, is the last to exit the shop into a beautiful snowy street scene. Desperately Mr. Matuschek approaches this boy and asks him how he would love to spend the evening with him, he will treat him to all the wonderful Christmas food that this errand boy has probably never seen!The chap is overwhelmed, he too is obviously as lonely as Mr. Matuschek and together they can have a wonderful Christmas meal. Every time I see this scene it moves me. If you manage to get the delightful DVD look at the great trailer with Frank Morgan introducing himself as Mr. Matuschek and an appearance by the director of the film- the talented Ernst Lubitsch. This film is a joy from beginning to end.

Fright
(1956)

An interesting little "b" movie
I totally disagree with a previous review to this film. We are presented here with an extremely low budget film with mostly up and coming young actors or unknowns. The story is interesting, the acting is erratic- but Eric Fleming is rather good in his first leading role and shows promise for the future lead in TV's Rawhide.The doctor played by Fleming investigates a rash of murders and discovers a young lady believing herself to be the reincarnation of a princess.Due to a erratic script and lack lustre direction, both leads - Nancy Malone and Eric Fleming have to provide us with the interest and for me they succeed.There is one hauntingly good sequence when Fleming is alone studying and he feels the presence of Malone behind him. If you need blood and gore to satisfy your film needs then this is not for you. On the other hand if you are interested in Fleming's early work and also a rare minor film then this is worth a look. Try to judge the film on it's merits and appreciate when it was made, then you could find it's a worthwhile look.I give it a 6 and recommend it for a true vintage film buff, especially for fans of "b" movies and Eric Fleming. Also I note that another reviewer states the film did little to advance the careers of the lead actors, this is totally incorrect. Eric Fleming of course achieved TV immortality as Gil Favor in the classic TV western series " Rawhide " and is forever remembered for the classic command, "Head em up move em out" at the end of each episode. Nancy Malone was an extremely prolific actress for many years and then moved successfully onto directing. I think that both these people did have successful careers, however Fleming's was cut short by his tragic, untimely death.

Avanti!
(1972)

A bittersweet masterpiece
So much has been said about the plot of Avanti it seems pointless to go over the synopsis again- but I can say although I am a lover of Horror films, Thrillers and Westerns- it is Avanti that is my favourite film of all time.Avanti is gorgeous to look at and features a beautiful music score. How I wish I could obtain a soundtrack of this delightful score. The scene when Pamela Pigott ( Juliet Mills ) tours the city on a horse drawn carriage and later running from her new found admirers is beautiful with the music so perfect.Also when Pamela and Wendell ( Jack Lemmon ) have their evening meal together , it is again a beautiful music score. Jack Lemmon as the bombastic Wendell Armbruster is as always great. Juliet Mills as Pamela Pigott looks far too gorgeous to be ridiculed by Armbruster but she shines in her finest ever role. However for me the film is stolen completely by Clive Revill as the hotel manager- what a sublime performance. Watch his every movement, his every expression, his delivery of every line.It is a captivating performance, totally exquisite. Clive Revill is an actor sorely neglected by the film world.Billy Wilder's film is so very neglected and it's a pity as this is the perfect film. Watch the beautiful, poignant sequence at the mortuary as Pamela and Wendell view the bodies of their mother and father respectively. And again watch Clive Revill alongside Lemmon and Mills- acting with only movement, expression and not a word. The lighting in this scene is so wonderful, it is dark and depressing with the exception of a shaft of sunlight penetrating the smallest of windows. Wilder manages to wring excellent portrayals out of even the most minor of characters. Watch Avanti and savour the acting, the music and the scenery.

Rawhide
(1959)

The finest TV western
Rawhide was a wonderful TV western series. Focusing on a band of trail drovers lead by the trail boss Gil Favor. Most episodes - especially from the first 3 seasons were really character studies of Favor and his men. Guest stars came and went but unlike Wagon Train they seldom dominated the episodes they appeared in. Rawhide was a true, gritty western and Gil Favor stood out as a memorable character never to be forgotten. Thanks to Eric Fleming's performance the show became a massive hit. Of course he was ably supported by a wonderful cast of good actors - Clint Eastwood, Sheb Wooley, Paul Brinegar, Steve Raines, James Murdoch, Rocky Shahan, Robert Cabal. All of these actors left their mark in a piece of television history. Rawhide captured the flavour of that time of the west that no other series has for me, as yet anyhow, managed to do so. Later seasons tended to split the leads and give them individual story lines. For me some of the time this didn't work - the cattle drive and the regulars provided the best stories. However there were still some classic stories and Rawhide remained top drawer affair. The black and white photography added to a bleak, realistic feel that other western series seldom managed to capture. Rustlers, Indians,Commancheroes, beautiful damsels in distress, serial killers, they all showed up to give our heroes problems. The end came for the series quietly when the final season was axed less than half way through. The reason - Eric Fleming had departed and Rawhide was now a head without a body - the gritty realism was gone, Gil Favor commanded respect and exuded authority - he was never infallible and this made him all the more interesting. We shall not see his like again. Watch an episode whenever you can, they seldom disappoint.

Lost in Space: The Anti-Matter Man
(1967)
Episode 15, Season 3

The best episode of the final season?
Anti Matter Man is a wonderful, almost perfect episode. It stands out in an erratic season of episodes. Some of this season had good shows , but it also featured some truly low points ( A day at the zoo, Great vegetable rebellion, to name just 2!) But this episode is superior to any other 3rd season show, Sutton Roley directs assuredly and imaginatively from a script by K.C.Alison ( Robert Hamner and Barney Slater )It is a great pity Roley only did a handful of episodes- everyone he did was good if not great. The story may sound old hat- John Robinson is transported to the anti matter world inhabited by his evil alter-ego, leaving John there in the custody of Don West's alter-ego- the double takes John's place with his family.This episode really is tense, grim and features the comedy scenes in the right proportions and not too often. Several scenes stand out- the evil John virtually clubbing The Robot to pieces, again the evil John stalking Will Robinson through space on an eerie stairway of mist and light, the 2 John's fighting in space amongst a myriad of lights.Dr. Smith, Will and The Robot travel to the anti matter world to find the real John Robinson, their adventures along the way are fascinating.A prime example of the perfect Lost In Space. Check it out.

The Bounty Killer
(1965)

Dureya the magnificent
This amazing and wonderfully evocative film is one of the last films for the fine character actor Dan Dureya. This film provides him with a star role and it is a tour DE force performance. A wonderful cast of b western actors give magnificent support and Audrey Dalton shines as the love interest. Fuzzy Knight gives his best ever screen performance in a poignant role. Buster Crabbe makes a fine villain and Richard Arlen also effective.About the youngest guy is Peter Dureya - this is Dan's son and his role has a chilling significance for the film, you will have to watch it to see why. This western was penned by actor Leo Gordon and it's a strong study of character. Dureya plays an innocent tenderfoot arriving in the west from the civilised East. As he encounters the different characters of the film he absorbs them and totally changes in attitude. At first he is a nice, gentle guy but after witnessing a killing by bad guy Rod Cameron ( who in fact saves his life by doing so ) he sets out to earn money- eventually he becomes a bounty killer and then out for revenge he chases a whole gang . determined to eliminate them all. The ending is memorable and a fitting end to a wonderful film. Long neglected, try and search this one out , it will reward you with a viewing treat. One of the finest westerns ever and all shot on a shoe string. 10 out of 10 without any low points at all.

They Drive by Night
(1938)

Lost moody classic
They Drive By Night is an amazing British classic. It has to be one of the most sombre British films of the thirties.It is also extremely interesting as as a timepiece

The truck drivers and their local pit stops are all captured well in this slice of early British cinema. Shorty , played by Emlyn Williams in a superb performance is released from prison and sets off to see his girlfriend, he discovers her dead body in an amazingly powerful sequence. Terrified he will get the blame he goes on the run hitching a ride from a sympathetic truck driver.On the way he encounters an assortment of various characters , all diverse and entertaining. This film is wonderfully acted by all the cast. If you don't blink you will see William Hartnell who played TV's very first Dr. Who as a bus conductor.

Much later as the tone of the film completely changes from gripping thriller to downright terror he meets Ernest Thesiger who in a remarkable performance completely dominates the last 25 minutes of the film as a very eccentric chap indeed.It is a tragedy that the director Arthur B. Woods died so young, he displayed a unique talent. If you can search this film out you will be highly rewarded with a film that you will never forget.

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