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Reviews

As the Earth Turns
(2019)

Strange reviews question the authenticity but a recent TCM showing swears it's really from 1938
Believing this is really from Richard Lyford, then an amateur in Washington state, I rate this an A- for effort.

The directing was ambitious but either it or the editing was lacking. Or both.

The special effects too often looked like something from Columbia.

The story was reminiscent of "Things To Come," perhaps, and had a similar premise to the much later "The Day the Earth Stool Still," and probably many other movies and books.

But whatever flaws might be noted, again I praise the effort.

Hundreds of miles away from Hollywood and its expertise and labs and stunt people, 20-year-old Richard Lyford created something pretty admirable. And he got enough attention for his body of work he was invited to Hollywood, worked for Disney, and earned an Academy Award.

I don't know why IMDb lists its date as 2019. That is bad mislabeling, very misleading. Yes, the finding and re-scoring are recent, but the creation was 1937 with the release in 1938.

TCM deserves our thanks for presenting this on Hallowe'en night of 2021, and I hope it will be shown again soon, and that there is enough advance notice everyone will get the chance to watch.

Arthème opérateur
(1914)

Fascinatingly primitive!
Though the star's acting and that of so many other performers is primitive -- too much emoting to the camera -- the historical setting is fascinating.

The "hero" gets a job as a movie theater projectionist. Watching the procedure of projecting, and seeing the machinery is, to repeat, fascinating.

And watching the audience's reaction and behavior is the funniest part of this short feature.

Truly a treat for any film fan. It can be found on YouTube though you might have to search carefully.

Give it a try. I recommend it.

The Roaring Road
(1926)

Brand-new ... well, first time seen since 1926, and an exciting find
Paul Hurst was a classic villain in silent movies, and a superb character actor in talkies, most notably in "Gone With the Wind" and "Angel and the Bad Man."

Here, he is the director. And does a fine job.

"Roaring Road" had been considered lost but thank goodness it has been found and restored and a score added.

The story is nothing new, not even in 1926, but it's well presented, with good performances from Kenneth MacDonald and the adorable Jane Thomas, who, cute as the proverbial button, carries a cane here. Was that a fashion accessory in 1926?

Several well-known and recognizable character actors round out the cast, and here's a funny: When I started this review, only Kenneth MacDonald was listed with his character's name. And that because I had added that info to the listing.

Now, though, just minutes later, IMDb has the cast listed with their characters!

If I hurry, this will likely still be the first review in about 95 years.

We owe a debt to the people who saved and restored "Roaring Road," and to Turner Classic Movies for presenting it Sunday night, 17 October 2021, at least in Mountain Standard Time (Arizona doesn't change the clocks; but it would have been Monday, 18 October 2021 in the East).

TCM will show it again. Some day. Be on the lookout. You'll want to see it.

Speedway
(1929)

Surely a major reason William Haines retired from movies
William Haines should have retired before appearing in this dreary film. It has to have been his worst performance. He must have been cast just because his name was still bankable. He had been a good-looking, talented, generally likable actor, but, oy, here he was so childishly silly, it was painful to watch.

He didn't even look good. He was puffy, as if ill. Certainly he looked too old for the character.

The director and a trite script are also to blame, although the director and photographer deserve a lot of credit for the exciting car racing scenes at the Indianapolis track.

Haines' fellow players, especially the adorable and lovely Anita Page, but also Karl Dane, Ernest Torrence, and John Miljan did their best -- which is very good! -- but the predictable story and Haines' performance prevent "Speedway" from being worthwhile.

Remember that William Haines had given some great performances in the past. Maybe you will want to see this just to complete your knowledge of him and his career. When, a few years later, he retired from pictures, he became probably the number one most sought-after interior decorator in Los Angeles.

My favorite William Haines quote: "I can only tell you this -- I would rather have taste than either love or money."

The Helpless Helper
(1927)

Not nearly so bad as is claimed; watch it and decide for yourself
Overblown rhetoric calls this "the worst comedy ever." Hogwash! It is not in the same league with some junk from, for example, Larry Semon.

In truth, except for the supposed star, Al Joy -- terribly mis-named -- the acting is pretty good, even from the two hapless henchmen.

And the beautifully under-acting cop deserves some praise but doesn't even get screen credit!

Better than the script and story deserve, director Joseph R. Richmond keeps the story moving, keeps his performers in frame, and keeps them moving too.

He and the story, such as it is, are well served by the editing.

The leading lady, Rose May, as she is billed here and with no information given, is expressive enough and has nice legs. In fact she is quite cute and perhaps if she had been given a chance with a better script and much better co-star, she could have been more successful and more busy: She has only two credits at IMDb.

Perhaps I am being too generous. After all, this is 1927 but looks more like 1917. And perhaps I am trying for some balance against all the excessively negative comments.

But the best bet is to see it for yourself. There is no sound track on this version at YouTube, and that might make a viewer feel less favorable. But, as I said, see it for yourself before judging.

The Traitor
(1936)

Low budget but high-quality cast
Tim McCoy's presence is often alone enough to tell a viewer this is a good movie. But here is is backed up by some of the best-known names in the B Western genre.

Leading lady is Frances Grant, who has the most beautiful smile. The first time we see her, she sees a cowboy riding a bucking horse, and her smile just lights up the screen. I am dumbfounded she was not cast in a thousand movies just for her smile. But that beautiful face is also beautifully expressive. Watching her eyes move, watching her emotions expressed by her face, one can be grateful for the chance to see her this once while at the same time bemoaning Hollywood's short-sightedness.

There were a few and minor directing flaws, but they can be ignored while we watch a story of undercover work unfold.

Tim McCoy has to show different character this time out, and he does it typically well.

All his co-players, even the villains, are just what we hope for and expect.

There is a good print at YouTube and I recommend "The Traitor."

It's Love Again
(1936)

Jessie Matthews makes a so-so movie into something wonderful
"It's Love Again" is rather silly, in a fun way, beautifully acted by every performer, but gloriously performed by Jessie Matthews.

This is the first time -- 16 August 2021 -- I have seen her but I am now a permanent fan.

She was a marvelous actress, with a face that is unique, perhaps not classically beautiful, but so expressive, so bright and charming, that she is beautiful.

She was quite a singer and dancer, too, and whatever it is that slowed down her career is to be condemned. It is a terrible shame there aren't many more of her films available.

Her leading man here is Robert Young, and the occasion of this film being broadcast on TCM's "Summer Under the Stars" was a retrospective of his movies.

Sorry, but "It's Love Again" belongs to Jessie Matthews. It's purely her looks and her performance to bring audiences in and surely back.

The Marshal's Daughter
(1953)

Lots of potential with fair script and talented cast, but badly edited and directed
One of the great losses in Hollywood was Laurie Anders' making only this one movie.

She was beyond adorable. Another reviewer called her "innocently sexy," which is the perfect description.

She was very capable and with a better director, or at least better directing (William Berke has done better work other times), she could have shown herself a good actress.

She was capable in so much, including ventriloquism, jiu-jitsu, and riding, plus she attempted singing and dancing, which did not come across so well in this film.

But, seriously, just to see her makes watching this movie worthwhile.

Her romantic lead was the generally over-looked Harry Lauter, and it was a welcome change to see him in such a role.

Hoot Gibson is still the great Hoot, even in his relatively advanced age. He still showed he was a real cowboy, and still had that charm.

A mess of other people, including Ken Murray (who has to take the blame for most of what is wrong here), and including some great cowboys and a listenable band, fill out the cast, even if with just cameo and supposedly funny roles.

It's not a world-class movie -- except maybe for Laurie Anders.

Again, I have to repeat, what a sad loss not to have much more of her on film.

Mr. Jones
(2019)

Terrible directing, lousy sound recording do not manage to prevent two important stories from being told
Apparently trying to be artsy, or something, the director intrudes so many pointless shots and images -- and not just pointless, but distracting -- a conspiracy theorist might believe she was trying to get attention off the story.

Serious directors, intelligent directors, rational directors don't push themselves into the film. Their job is to lead the actors and crew into telling the story.

There are, in fact, two stories here: One, the vicious, murderous tyranny of Soviet communism, a tyranny that resulted in tens, in scores of millions of deaths and enslavement of hundreds of millions more; the eager alliance of the world's "news" media, lying so blithely to cover up the induced famine in Ukraine, which alone killed possibly 15 million, a holocaust known as Holodomor. (Some cry to claim "only" 4 million.)

Chief among those "news" personnel was Walter Duranty, who was given a Pulitzer Prize for his propagandizing. His employer? The New York Times, which has a long record of supporting communism, or at least opposing anti-communism.

The murderous communists of the Soviet Union were supported not by just the "news" media, but by other governments across the world who, foolishly, ignorantly, hoped to improve their own economies by trading with a supposedly successful revolutionary government of a "workers paradise" that was, in fact, bankrupt.

When adviser to Britain's prime minister, Gareth Jones, tries to tell the PM and his cabinet the Soviet Union was bankrupt, and wondered how it was able to buy so much machinery and weaponry, he was brushed aside. In fact, his job was terminated, with the excuse of the Depression.

He journeyed to Moscow anyway, and the hide-and-seek game began, and Jones literally risked his life to learn the truth and to try to tell the world.

Strangely, once we, viewers and researchers, learn even the barest minimum of this story, we can find the rest of the information, rather an unusual situation these days of "cancel culture" and other aspects of historical cover-ups.

Among the cover-ups is this created famine. On the 50th anniversary of the famine, for example, a documentary was made and, believe it or not, shown on Canadian government-owned TV. But it was not allowed to be shown on the U. S. government TV network, PBS!

This is a horrible story. That is, these are horrible stories, for too long swept under the rug. This movie, with all its flaws, is one that needs to be watched, needs to be shared with as many viewers as possible, and needs to be used as a starting point for more people to begin to research the Holodomor and The New York Times.

A Movie Star
(1916)

Movie star has to compete with theater full of scene stealers
Poor Mack Swain was surrounded by dozens of Steve McQueens, scene-stealing hams -- but who were thoroughly delightful in their hamminess.

Swain was a good actor in more than 150 movies, many of them quite short.

Here his character even gets a few minutes to show he was a good cowboy, riding a horse surprisingly well.

His movie star character, just by being a movie star, draws female fans by the score, and as they all sit in the theatre to watch his latest opus, they ooh and ahh at his on-screen character, then do it some more after the film ends, ingratiating the theater manager but enraging the male companions of those females.

The movie's ending should not be surprising, but it's still funny, and the short time we've been watching seems all the shorter because it is funny, charmingly funny.

Swain is not exactly the hero type, and maybe that makes the character he plays even funnier. He is the only performer here who might be known today but, though he's been gone since 1935, he is known, at least among aficionados of early motion pictures. Please, if you can, do grab the opportunity to watch "A Movie Star."

Next Time I Marry
(1938)

Great performance by James Ellison
I love Lucy, and she's adorable as usual in this pleasant outing, but James Ellison shows why he should have been cast in many more and different roles.

Yes, he was a great cowboy, but as a leading man, he was good-looking and manly and confident and in control.

As another reviewer said, this is pleasant fluff; and it has a story that has been used probably countless times in one form or another, but the four major characters are played so well, with Lee Bowman as the competitor for the rich woman and Mantan Moreland as his chauffeur, it's more than worth watching, just to see them.

Other, even unbilled, performers such as the great Earl Hodgins, work beautifully under director Garson Kanin and make this fun and worth the time. Enjoy.

A Millionaire for Christy
(1951)

Cute story, well directed and acted, but stolen by Richard Carlson
Richard Carlson has been one of my favorites since my childhood, but I don't recall ever seeing him so loose, so allowed to shine and sparkle as he does in "A Millionaire for Christy."

Fred MacMurray and Eleanor Parker are terrific as a somewhat pompous radio performer and a somewhat dizzy attorney's assistant who is sent to tell the former he has inherited money.

Her friend and office mate, and romance encourager, is played, wonderfully (of course), by Una Merkel, who by herself makes a movie more than watchable.

As silly as the story's premise might seem, when one watches this movie, one realizes it's plausible enough. More important, there are lots of likable or at least watchable people to overcome any script flaws.

It's light entertainment, well directed, filled with good actors, including Lane Chandler, uncredited and with only one line (but he has a good and recognizable voice), but above all, it gives Richard Carlson a chance to break loose and show the world what a talent he was.

Let Freedom Ring
(1939)

Nelson Eddy a surprising action hero
Marvelous singer Nelson Eddy surprised me with his athletic performance as a Zorro-like character, just back from college, rather than Spain, who poses as an effete ally of the bad guy.

He still got several chances to sing, and what a great voice!

But his knock-down fisticuffs battle with the chief villain's chief deputy, played so well by Victor McLaglen, shows a ruggedness perhaps even his most dedicated fan didn't know was there.

The story is a Ben Hecht paean to the value of newspapers -- unfortunately not true any more -- and a Ben Hecht denunciation of business and business men, always such a funny script idea from a rich writer.

An excellent cast, from the stars to the withs to the atmosphere players, makes this enjoyable.

Guilty Bystander
(1950)

Extraordinary acting and directing in once "lost" noir film
Zachary Scott was such a fine actor, I have never understood why he is not usually considered among the greats.

Mary Boland is another who has given great and memorable performances, but is not well known today.

And they are just two of the superlative performers in this large and excellent cast, which is so well directed by Joseph Lerner.

It is a dark film with the erstwhile hero usually losing his fights, between bouts of drinking -- and apparently not seeing the connection.

And of course the alcohol washes away his personal relationships, too.

It's probably hard to find, having been restored just two years ago at this writing, but it will no doubt come around again on TCM.

Sunset Pass
(1946)

Script full of holes and a director not paying attention almost ruin a good story
Some very good actors are pretty much wasted in this rather sloppy script of a pretty good story.

There are many holes, including that the hero, Rocky, knows the name of a robber's horse. Conversation between Rocky and Chito that should be whispered, since they're right outside the room where the bad guys are, is almost shouted.

Apparently this production was rushed and no one paid a lot of attention.

However, there is a very capable cast, some good, even very good, running inserts, and the whole thing takes less than an hour.

It's not terrible, but at the end I was fairly miserable, thinking how, with all the talent, the movie was not a whole lot better.

There is a very good print at YouTube, further ruined by moronic and intrusive commercials, sometimes right in the middle of a sentence. Still, it's a Western, so it's watchable.

So This Is Paris
(1926)

Marvelously animated actors wonderfully directed in a script that steals from "Die Fledermaus"
Ernst Lubitsch cannot be over-praised. One of his classics is a silent version of "Lady Windermere's Fan," by that iconic wordsmith, Oscar Wilde.

Lubitsch knew how to use a camera to tell a story, and "So This Is Paris" illustrates -- if you'll pardon the expression -- that facet of his talent perfectly.

But he also had four of the most expressive actors available, especially Lilyan Tashman, who certainly should be better known now, even if nearly a hundred years later.

She was lovely, yes, but what a talented actress, so animated and full of facial and bodily gestures to get her point across.

She lit up the screen, but her character's husband, played by George Beranger, listed here as Andre Beranger, who had a long and busy career, including as director, was not totally in her shadow.

Beranger needed to stand up straighter and hold his shoulders back, but he was obviously in good shape, and even looked as if he lifted weights. It's nice to know he kept busy for so many years since he was talented as well as good looking.

Another good-looking actor was Monte Blue, who eventually accumulated nearly 300 credits, working nearly to the last years of his life, to the credit of Hollywood, which -- sad to say -- so often forgot its pioneers.

The fourth star, and star she was, is Patsy Ruth Miller. Probably her most famous film is "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," with Lon Chaney, but she went on to play in about four score movies, making a praised appearance in her last role as the title character in "Mother," 1978.

When "So This Is Paris" was presented on Turner Classic Movies, 9 May 2021, it was a surprise to me, being totally unfamiliar with it. Apparently it is a refurbished film with a new score, and I hope it plays often, so you can see it.

The script, by the way, steals quite a bit from Strauss's "Die Fledermaus," and I don't know how many others, including critics and reviewers of 1926 as well as audience members of today, realize the source.

Never mind, even if it is plagiarized, "So This Is Paris" is so beautifully performed and directed, we will overlook the theft and just enjoy.

Murder, She Baked: A Chocolate Chip Cookie Mystery
(2015)
Episode 1, Season 1

First entry in mini-series should be enough to lure viewers
Allison Sweeney is cute and pretty and personable and doesn't mug the camera and that makes her a good TV movie heroine. It is a shame she didn't want to perform in more of these "Murder, She Baked" movies.

Probably, though, it's a good idea to make a good impression and leave before getting type-cast, as has happened to so many talented actors and, I think, especially actresses.

This first entry gave us several interesting characters, a clever-enough setting for a mystery, and generally good dialogue well performed by the cast.

Despite my intentions not to be wasting time on television -- it's the first time I've had a TV set and cable in four years -- I succumbed to temptation and have thoroughly enjoyed Hallmark Movies & Mysteries -- except for the infuriating and constant repetition of the same promos again and again and again and again!

But Allison Sweeney and her fellow performers make the time between commercials and promos worthwhile. I do recommend this first entry in the mini-series and hope I can see the rest.

After All These Years
(2013)

Remarkably good TV movie!
Excellent acting from generally not known or not well known performers would probably be enough to endorse this TV movie, but it is also surprisingly well written.

I say "surprisingly" because writing generally has deteriorated in what we generically call "Hollywood," but "After All These Years" is just one more example of quite high quality movie producing.

This was just -- 2 May 2021 -- presented on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, a channel to which I'm becoming increasingly addicted. I swore when I moved into my new apartment where there is a TV set and a cable connection I wouldn't waste my time watching.

Ha!

I have in fact spent far too much time in front of the tube, and one reason is such thoroughly enjoyable films as "After All These Years."

I'm sure it will pop up again and I strongly recommend you watch.

Boots Malone
(1952)

Very talented cast perform with a good script telling a touching racetrack story
So many likable characters are played by so many excellent actors, it's hard to know where to start bragging about "Boots Malone."

But brag I will.

Billed as "introducing" is young Johnny Stewart, though he had performed two roles previously, but for TV. His eager young apprentice is likable, but also vulnerable, except when he flares up at being mistreated. He gives a great performance, but is credited with only 10 roles. Again I ask, What's wrong with Hollywood casting directors?

Starring in the title role is the iconic William Holden, someone I've admired for a very long time. His character is not so admirable. At first. Holden, though, shows that character as being many-faceted so we have hope for him, right up to the end.

Almost stealing the show is Stanley Clements, who is supposedly best-known for the his roles in The Bowery Boys, but again and again he has shown, especially here, that he is an actor, obviously capable of many types of roles. His might be the most likable character in this movie.

Again, all the actors here deserve praise, even if they don't get screen credit. The director and writers have created and produced a good story, showing what seems to be a good slice of actual race-track life and the intriguing "little people" (no pun intended) who populate it.

Between films like this and the books of Dick Francis, I am pretty sure I'll never place another bet on a horse race. By "another," I mean I'll never place that second bet. But I can still admire the horses and many of the people who train and ride them.

Director William Dieterle has shown some great racing shots, exciting even to us who see horse-racing only in movies or on TV. I highly recommend "Boots Malone" and there is a good print at YouTube, at least today, 1 May 2021. I hope you get to see it.

The Man Who Walked Alone
(1945)

Actors best known for action movies turn in wonderful performances
Dave "Tex" O'Brien has been one of my favorites for a long time. He is best known for his cowboy roles, and/or his hapless character in the "Pete Smith" shorts, but here he proved once and for all that He Was An Actor.

Kay Aldridge, best known for "Nyoka," proves to be adorable in her city-slicker role. She was not only lovely, with an expressive face, but she showed herself perfect as a poor little rich girl, who is pressured by her family and their wealth, and always urged to do the right thing -- which is what other people tell her, not what she decides.

There is an excellent cast, including Smith Ballew in a role of the type I've never seen him in before, and he too showed a side of himself that should have had casting directors lining up. Well, he did OK as a recording artist, so maybe that was enough for him. But, to me, he should have been in more movies.

Walter Catlett, Vivian Oakland, Guinn Williams and so many others helped make this PRC production one of the best ever to come from that studio, and absolutely worthy of any studio.

There is one other performer needing special attention: Nancy June Robinson played the precocious little sister, and she was a stand-out! I have seen very few actors her age who were so natural, so expressive, so controlled, yet she made only two movies, according to IMDb. What a shame!

Christy Cabanne, that veteran, was both director and one of the writers, and he deserves mountains of praise for both roles. The other writer, Robert Lee Johnson, and Cabanne produced a charming and often downright funny script, well performed at every level by some of the best character actors in Hollywood.

Frankly, this is not what I would expect from PRC, and perhaps shame on me, for it is thoroughgoing entertainment, produced near the end of World War II, showing some of the costs of that war, and presenting a lot of very likable people we'd enjoy knowing even better.

There is a print at YouTube with a few glitches (and those obnoxious YouTube commercials!) but "The Man Who Walked Alone" is such a joy, a real treasure, you probably won't notice anything but the movie itself.

The Sun Was Setting
(1951)

Excellent acting in a sad story
Angela Stevens, of whom I know nothing, but soon will, is so obviously a superlative actress, it annoys me I have not already been a fan.

Richard Powers is, at other times, Tom Keene, and he perfectly conveys the right attitude and emotions of this short, and what else can we call it but "soap opera" -- and meaning it as a purely cordial description.

One of my favorites is Phyllis Coates, a gorgeous and talented woman who might be best known as one of the "Lois Lane" portrayers but who deserves more than that.

Ed Wood gets laughed at, usually. But except for some editing flaws, which might not be his fault in the print I saw, this is a well-done and emotion-packed film.

The print at YouTube is pretty good, except for the editing goofs, which really do look added.

But any research into Ed Wood must include this moving little short, apparently intended for TV, and it will be proven Wood does not deserve only ridicule.

The Desert Horseman
(1946)

Lot of potential that never happened
More musical than action cowboy feature, "The Desert Horseman" just never really came together.

Some of the music was listenable, and the great Tex Williams was in there somewhere, uncredited and not identified.

Smiley Burnette was too much the focus, and his antics were more silly than funny. It's a shame that his talent was hidden by such foolishness.

It's not a bad movie, just too slow, too many musical interruptions, and never exciting or mystifying or thrilling, and not enough action, except for some pretty good riding inserts.

When I watched on YouTube, I was grateful there were none of those rotten commercial breaks, and the print was very good. Watch it, of course. Lots of great cowboy movie actors, including John Merton. But don't expect too much.

Blazing Guns
(1935)

Lots of action and three messages!
Reb Russell had a lot of ability. He was a good-looking and athletic man, and had a good expressive face. But he couldn't deliver his lines.

He had been to college so I bet all he really needed was some training. Alas, Hollywood apparently just threw him into a series of low-budget B Westerns to exploit his name and football fame.

Message One: Train your athletes, Hollywood, and you might get even more out of them. (Many, such as Chuck Connors and Jim Brown, became very fine actors and sold a lot of tickets and a lot of advertising.)

Message Two: Marion Shilling was a lovely, spirited, adorable actress and should have been cast a lot more often. Her role here would have been proof by itself: Her character was tough, ready and willing to pick up a rifle to defend herself, her home, and another person she knew was not guilty of criminal charges.

And just watch her face. Not just lovely, but expressive. Great to watch.

Shilling herself, by the way, dedicated herself to become a good horse rider, and even got lessons from the great Buck Jones. She really showed herself to be an excellent Westerns performer in "Blazing Guns."

Capital punishment is maybe the law but is a bad idea, and that is Message Three. Reb Russell's character is twice accused of crimes and sentenced -- without a trial! -- to be hanged, although back in them days it was "hung."

This story makes good use of many characters, all or most well played by some good Western performers. There is some good dialogue and, as mentioned above, the "Betty Lou Rickard" character is beautifully acted by the lovely Marion Shilling, even if she is here billed as "Marian."

We get to see Hank Bell, covered by a vigilante mask and not given screen credit, but we veteran viewers know when we're watching a veteran player.

Chuck Morrison, Silver Tip Baker, and Gene Alsace are also here and unbilled, but they and their ilk just make Westerns.

Slim Whitaker, here billed as "Chas.", gets to play a deputy sheriff and some of his personality shines through.

All in all, this is a fun movie, despite its low-budget flaws. There's a not-very-good print at YouTube. I hope you'll watch it.

The Range Rider: Secret of the Red Raven
(1952)
Episode 14, Season 2

Great action from extraordinary cast and writer Oliver Drake
Jock Mahoney and Dick Jones were more than capable stunt performers as well as more than capable actors. For those reasons, this series is seen by many as among the very best ever offered on TV.

This particular story is rather thrown together as Ranger Rider and Dick West just happen to ride onto the scene of an armed hold-up. One man is killed and the robber gets away with the two heroes chasing him. And the two robbery victims, including one still alive, are just forgotten.

So as not to give away the rest of the story, I'll just say we meet characters played by the great Kermit Maynard, the wonderful Sherry Jackson, and some more of the best, including Bob Wilke and Denver Pyle.

An excellent actor, who steals every scene he's in, by his size, his personality, and his just plain dominating presence, but about whom little is known here at IMDb, is Ewing Mitchell. He was busy so there should be more information about such a good actor.

The bad guys want a ranch and an apparently worthless mine, and their nefarious acts to get them make up the rest of this action-packed half-hour.

I wasn't familiar with this series, but now I intend to watch every episode. And I strongly recommend you do too.

Tailspin Tommy
(1934)

Evokes, with enthusiasm, the excitement of aviation's pioneer days
I started watching this great serial, at YouTube, and there are several things I'd like to say: 1) One of many objections I have to modern "hero" movies, especially based on comic books (I don't know of any based on comic strips) is the way "heroes" are just suddenly there, with no introduction. "Tailspin" Tommy, though, is shown as a youngster and ... well, no, I'll let everyone watch. More, I *urge* everyone to watch. It's a lot of fun, and Tommy is *introduced*, not just suddenly there as if everyone knows the backstory. We in the audience see him mature from the small-town garage to a mature pilot. As one reviewer (horn-5) said, it's a serial "most faithful to the original source," a newspaper comic strip. 2) This is such a fascinating look at early aviation. It was, to people like Tommy, *exciting* and was made so to everyone else. Even to me, now, in January of 2021. Crowds of people are shown excited by the mere presence of an airplane, especially one landing in a farmer's field, which apparently actually happened often in those early days. There are some darn good actors in the minor roles, and often some very good dialogue. This rural county I live in, Cochise, containing, for example, Tombstone and Fort Huachuca, where the iconic 10th Cavalry was posted, and Willcox, the home of Rex Allen, also had a visit by Amelia Earhart, and some other notable early aviation minor history. Those visits are still written about. 3) "Tailspin Tommy" has lots of very likable characters. 4) There are lots of all kinds of characters, with many of them having speaking and pivotal roles, a sign of a well-done and watchable movie. It might be not as exciting as, say, "Zorro's Fighting Legion" or "Spy Smasher," and there are few "cliff-hanger" chapter endings, but it is great entertainment, and very great motion picture history. For example, look for the iconic Walter Brennan in an early and uncredited role. And watch some scary aerobatics. OK, it's not perfect. Sound effects and fight scenes were much better done at Republic, for example, but that evocation of the era, the enthusiasm for aviation shown by the characters, the tension of the airline's efforts to meet contractual obligations in order to stay in business, and the sheer number of speaking roles all combine to make this a must-see serial. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

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