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55 Days at Peking

With Chuck you get eggroll
55 Days in Peking is not the sort of film to watch after having slammed a bunch of MST3K. The riffs came hard and fast even as the show opened with a musical interlude. When the leads playing the Chinese are whitewashed with a cultural understanding of a Charlie Chan movie, I knew this would be a long pull. I saw this as a kid, so I would have seen it on network tv with a huge piece of the total film missing. It wouldn't matter now; I know too many good films to put them with those. This is something that can be watched only if you ran out of things to watch because a pandemic is the only reason to watch this dated piece of junk food. It was a flop when it came out, and they would have been much more forgiving than me.

Lost Continent

Now go out and punch a nun
First, there is no continent. That isn't a spoiler. The only thing lost is an inanimate object. People go around looking for the object. I just watched this thing and I can't remember anything but them climbing a mountain for like half an hour. That and they seem to have an endless supply of cigarettes. I don't smoke so there was nothing there to care about. As they were climbing the mountain, I was reminded of the song "Climb Every Mountain" if it comes up again in my life I just hope a nun isn't singing it or else.

Jungle Goddess

And then I watched...
In this dystopian time, I have not made a lot of good choices with all the time I have not been working, and one of the choices was to gang watch all the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes. This movie was one of the episodes. So, I watched it. When it was over, I stopped watching. I am sure things happened but all I remember was a Mexican girl who seemed to have a lesbian or bisexual relation with a white goddess while a bunch of Black guys were acting very black for even that time. Oh, and in the end, you get to see a weird plane moving so slowly that it violated several laws of physics at the same time. It is not worth watching even through the eyes of two robots. And be sure to vote. May as well. THE END

Forever, Darling

It's either DDT or Talcum powder
A plodding mid 50's comedy staring two of television biggest couples can't settle on just what they want to do with some potentially interesting writing. While you can see what the story might have been it takes to long to set up the point of conflict and then settles into the typical tv sitcom ending where everything is fine, though nothing in the film would have made for a happy ending. I found the film on YouTube although I also found it in Amazon Prime for a two-dollar rental. Either way it would have cost too much and I found myself jumping around until a 90-minute film in about 30 minutes.

'Gung Ho!': The Story of Carlson's Makin Island Raiders

Worse than Propaganda
This flick does what most of the films about WWII did; take a real event, cloud it with logical improbability and allow wartime audiences to continue believing in an America that has never existed and never would. The real raid fell apart almost at the start and the level of success is subject to POV. What it does, is make the case that the racism that surrounds this film has had cause and effect limited to the attack on Pearl Harbor. The racism directed to Asians was in full force at the time of the bombing. Political, social, economic racial prejudice was in full force long before Pearl Harbor. This film tries to say that if not for the war everyone in America was one big happy family. It would take better films at a later time to hint at the reality of America at the time this film depicts, and see what was happening to Americans and America in a way that would make many force change while feeling true shame for what was done to many Americans in the name of patriotism to an imagined country. As films go, this is a film that served its purpose, was mildly distracting and allowed actors to play at war just before many of them would be facing the real thing.

Sands of Iwo Jima

A Film out of time
This is an odd film for its time. Anachronistic in being out of date for 1949 by trying to be like films made only a few years earlier. Films like this would not be made except at the Poverty Road studios and some stories like this would seep into the early television but they stopped making these when the men and women who served in the war simply would not continue these jingoist flag wavers. Actors, directors, and most importantly writers could not feel right in allowing themselves to continue in these formulaic and racist films. There would be more films like Walk In the Sun and just a very short time Hollywood was to find itself being challenged as to its very foundation by being accused of aligning with enemies of this country because they would not support this sort of film. While it served no purpose during its release except in much needed support of the Marines, and would not mean anything in the upcoming war in Korea, some may like to view this for a shot at nostalgia for something that never was and make an effort to see films that were made at the same time that tried to set the record straight even under the limitations of the movie production code. While some things are done in the fog of war, this was made with eyes wide shut.


Wading through Wayne films
John Wayne was the lead in more films than any other American actor, so I have been told. He made over 140 films. All the films between his first film 'The Big Trail' and 'Stagecoach' can easily be ignored and a huge pile of steaming junk that he made for several decades, so you will have in the end a manageable number to watch or miss. This is one to miss. It isn't because it is a bad film, it's just that it isn't anything. A fat old man goes running around terrifying animals to have a beautiful young woman fall in love with the man for no apparent reason while the rest of the cast does stuff that leads to a ridiculous conclusion that takes too long to come. I now realize that you can ignore any John Wayne or John Ford movie for that matter, where most of the characters are referred to by some nickname. You can forget this film, just ask Pockets.


Please quit talking for five minutes, please.
I cannot like Hondo. First is the fact that Hondo never shuts up. In the first thirty minutes, we find out what he thinks about dogs, boys, cooking, Native Americans, horses, ax maintenance, gun safety, animal husbandry, body odor, shirts, economics, politics, and on and on and on. Another thing is the music. Why does it have to be so annoyingly epic? Hondo walks onto a scene with a mother and son, TADA!!! He shoes a horse, TADA!!! He walks into a bar, TADA!!! Everybody he meets except the husband of the woman he meets at the start of the movie, TADA!!!, has this bubbling almost idolatry for him, but you never really know why. So, Hondo is an average Oater, with a mediocre actor playing a talkative narcissist who finishes the movie the way you thought it would end after ten minutes into the story. TADA!!!

The Matrix

It Isn't Over 'til It's Over
The Matrix would only need people to change. A program cannot change itself; it needs an outside human agency to make a change. Change is really the only constant in the universe. To continue and not fall into a collapse of lost data, the Matrix would need a core of changing humans to maintain the necessary evolution of a program. Since a program has no function but to serve, clearly the Matrix exists to continue mankind in a form that can exist after the destruction of the biological world. The Matrix is the real world, after the destruction of the biological world has been completed by the humanity that the Matrix maintains. It is a digital symbiotic relationship. The film is a view like in I Have No Mouth Yet I Must Scream.

The Vagabond King

Not As Bad as It Sounds
Leslie Nielson said on a talk show that the film was a flop before they started to even film. His trouble was that he was under contract and was assigned to the film being told that he would be wearing tights. Nielsen had Rickets as a child and was very self-conscious of what he thought were very bowed legs, but he said he never thought of his legs again after they told him he would be wearing a dancers belt under the tights and then showed what it was. The first time he wore the tights he said he got so many cat whistles from the woman that he stopped wearing the belt until the director told him if he didn't wear it, he would only film him from the neck up.

Visit to a Small Planet

Stopped at 15:27
Life is too short to wade through the antics of Jerry Lewis in this tepid paycheck of a movie. I read the play in junior high, and the teacher loved it so much she got hold of the movie and was able to show it to us uninterrupted. When it was over she turned off the film, put her had on her hips shaking her head. All she said was, "Sorry." I tried to see it fifty years later, and all I can say to myself is, "You should have known better."

Hobson's Choice

No Choice but to Watch
A little claustrophobic period flick is my favorite David Lean film. William and Maggie Mossop are my favorite Lean couples. The story is one that could be done by actors in black pants and turtlenecks and still be as real as this film makes it because the writing is for people and not props and sets, even though every element of the film seems as real as if you were in that place and time though you didn't know a thing about it. Charles Laughton is perfect as the bloated drunken bully of the Hobson of the shoe store, and it is Laughton's size that makes his character so much the barrier for the couples happiness, even though it isn't happiness either of them are really after. What is so great is that Hobson's choice is a choice where you really aren't given any choices and that is what each character has to face at some point in the story and each find their own solution and what happens is just amazing. The kiss I spoke of come after a wedding night that was one of the choices, but in the morning when a new couple start breakfast and a life together, the unexpected kiss shows what is really going to be no choice at all. I wish I could remember Doctor Zhivago with half as much detail as I have for this film. Have a couple of good pub ales for this one, you'll know when to crack them open.

A Kid for Two Farthings

We All Need A Unicorn Every Now and Then
I had gone through a lot of dark and lonely streets walking through early 50s film, when I asked a librarian if she knew of a film that would help me to feel not so much happy as not being ashamed of being human. She got this film for me. It is one of those flicks you find very rarely that makes you think you could feel the spirit of a different country in a different time. I was in England in the 1950s and the first real opening of hope after the war was starting to show itself in the poorest part of the country. Everyone was ready for a new life, or to find life inside themselves again, and this film really brought it out to me. I would say this is one of the best films I stumbled on in the last ten years, maybe even one of the top ten. I even learned the nursery song the title is based on. It is a treat that anyone that still wants to think of having a soul might hope to see. Watch it with my best wishes. And find some Turkish Delights to go with it.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Hat In Hand
The problem I have with this and most of the Capra films is what can be called the fair world bias of his film. No matter the political ideas or patriotic ones all this film really has is a fish out of water quality that irritates more than it makes fun of the character of Smith. As a drama it isn't dramatic, as a comedy it isn't funny, as social commentary it has an adolescent point of view that isn't naïve, it is ignorant. I could not care about the character because he doesn't really do anything other than pose as something, because he doesn't have the content of his patriotism only the façade. The Jean Arthur character is the only one with any depth to her convictions and in the end, she must be a convert to the irrelevancies perpetrated by Smith. I am too old to re-watch films I have seen in the past, so I won't be seeing this one again. On the flip side, I still have nothing but affection for Lost Horizons and It Happened One Night, but as I said, for me this film was always a waste of my efforts.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Never Apologize
This is my favorite film. It has been my favorite for sixty years. When I think I have changed my mind I just watch it again and remember why it is my favorite. I have learned more about this film and how it was made in detail or any historical subject I have encountered. It was a work of art, engineering, creativity, manipulation, and unbridled passion that was the point when all movies had to change to produce anything that came after. The greatest power of the film is not what ended up on the screen, but how it got there. It got there because one man that had the wherewithal to do it wanted to, Walt Disney.

The Day Time Ended

Thank You Power Putty for giving me something to do
You ask so many questions while watching this movie. Who are these people? Where are they? And then you say what? What? What? What? How? What, again? Who a few times. Then a long string of whys. Then I ask myself, why does the firmness of Power Putty go yellow, red, green and finally blue? In the end I will never know, unless I contact the company to find out.

Atlantic Rim

In another life I must have strangled a puppy.
I was watching this film much like when you look at your thumb after accidentally pealing back a thumbnail just waiting for the pain to hit. I had never seen 'Pacific Rim' and now I can't because this film ruined the idea of a movie with giant robots fighting monsters with what I am sure is really loud music. I sat watching this thing thinking they had made the special effects and then they tried to fit a movie around it. The most irritating thing was when they tried to use any term the actors, writers, or the people making the hot dogs for the extras clearly didn't understand; like what a fathom is. The film is unfathomable, but even more unfathomable is that after watching this blackened thumbnail of a movie, I checked and found out they made a sequel. I also saw Grahame Green in this thing and remembered how much I liked him in the Red Green Show. He is less than a thumbnail to me now.

Battle: Los Angeles

Works best as satire than action film
Battle: Los Angeles is a basic dumb movie written for average thirteen year old teens that spend life in front of video gaming screens. Adults that can detach themselves from the testosterone drive antics of a group of Marines who never seem to know what they are doing, where they are, where they're going, or can act in a human way, will notice the movie makes no sense from the first shot. SPOILER ALERT!

It starts with a modification of the War of The Worlds attack with meteors falling all over the world. Meanwhile a middle aged Marine Corp sergeant gets to the top of his mid-life crisis by resigning, sort of, from the corp. We then see all the players in this 100 million dollar recruitment poster. A virgin recruit, think he might die? A Lieutenant, who notably kisses the baby bump of his wife, shows his chances of survival as nil. A young black man with horn rimmed glasses ordering flowers with his best friend, along with his fiancé just before his wedding; will death rear its head on one or both of these men. And other cannon fodder.

Another member of the cast, but with no credit, is the television who is both omnipresent, omnipotent in being able to always be at the right place at the right time, showing exactly what the Marines need to know just at the time they find a TV, which no matter the collateral damage around it finds itself with electrical power,having been left on, and sitting in the very place that the Marines come to.

At the height of battle with an unknown force who stole their attack idea from at least three other movies, a platoon of fully armed Marines are given orders to walk through a no-man's land deep into an area that will soon be bombed in order to do something that has absolutely no tactical or strategic importance to help what may or may not be civilians in a place that nobody is supposed to be, and if any are found the Marines are to ask for a helicopter to get them out. The idea of sending a squad in a 'copter and getting in and out hours before the bombing doesn't seem to be an option even though there are helicopters all over the place, never seeming to be doing anything worthwhile.

While going around a neighborhood in Santa Monica, which had its millions of people evacuated in a couple of hours, the Marines quickly lose any chance of individuality and just become the platoon, which means that for the next hour and a half you can never tell who is who are care when they are shot at, wounded, killed, or over react to anything. The camera work heightens this loss of individuality by filming everyone from the back or side whenever there is action, so close you can't tell who is doing what, or were in relation to other people they are doing anything with. Of course to make it look real they use the shaky cam, making it ever worse.

After fighting the aliens for a while, at least shooting at where the aliens seem to be, the virgin guy pops his cherry by being the first one to kill an alien, except it turns out to be a monster death where it comes back to life just in time to be shot by everybody who happened to show up.

Anyway, people fire a lot of rifles, they run, they scream, yell, or whisper, but only speak normally when they whine about something to do with the back story. All with a background of martial music that never stops even when it makes no sense.

The real meat of an alien invasion movie is always the aliens and in this case you never get to see them close up clearly, or in a way that you can see a face, or anything but an odd mix and match set of what seems to be a cybernetic combination. I had thought with the success of "District 9" we would know to treat aliens in a more thoughtful, and direct way in film, but here all you see is shots of creatures at just out of view, with mechanical junk that looks more stupid than fearful.

In less than 48 hours the aliens are driven back to someplace, LA I suppose and the Marines go in to mop up.

The war would have lasted longer if the aliens had attack as insurrectionists as opposed to a culture that can travel intergalactic space with an armada that didn't learn what the other alien attacks over the years never learned; don't mess with the US until you know you can take out the French.

Have Gun - Will Travel

The great fourth season leap
Having watched the first three seasons of "Have Gun Will Travel" I was pleasantly surprised with some unique characteristics of the series; the most obvious point was the intelligence of the character and the contrasts in the well mannered gentleman, and the gunman for hire. But the one thing that caught my attention the most was that Paladin is one of the only dramatic characters I have ever seen on television or in movies where the lead laughed. Not just an ironic laugh, but a genuine belly laugh at the sight of the human comedy being played out in front of him. His total lack of racism, political ideology, or hypocrisy makes for a unique character.

Though I liked the first three seasons,it is the fourth that knocked me over. It must have changed production companies, and had a shot in the arm as far as budget, because everything goes from good to great in one season.

The first show of the fourth season "The Fatalist" brought in Robert Blake whose nuanced performance so overshadows the actors from previous seasons, that you feel that it was a major change of the producers who stopped bringing in the old near the end of their career character actors from the Republic Pictures school of acting, to one where you where looking at the changes brought in by the method acting crowd who where just starting to take over TV at that time. Even actors that had been seen in the earlier seasons, such as Denver Pyle, James Coburn, and Hal Needham, all seem to be able to fill the screen in a different and better way than just a year or too earlier. Also, the music is crisper, the camera work cleaner and more artfully shot, and an odd observation, there are more extras filling out the scenes; before the limited crowds gave a lot of the earlier shows a very stage sense to it. Anyway the improvement to the quality to the show from the first three season to the fourth caught me by surprise because in all my TV viewing I have never seen a program improve so dramatically and in such a worthwhile way.

Have Gun - Will Travel: The Princess and the Gunfighter
Episode 19, Season 4

Duty over love
Paladin is obviously a ladies' man, but in the first three seasons you never get the idea of a truly emotional relationship, but only sexual. There is something so clearly romantic about this episode and finally sad too. We see Paladin as both a cavalier, and a stoic, and how he is almost cursed with a sense of duty to those who hire him and a personal responsibility to his ideals that he will even lose the love of a lifetime rather than reject who he has become from an act of will. In a way the relationship is of equals, a princess of Europe and a prince of America in the West.

This episode clearly shows the vast improvement of the series during the forth season.

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