rdfarnham

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Reviews

Making History
(2017)

Not surprised it was cancelled
I quit watching after episode 6 Here are two supposedly intelligent men who can't seem to function in any situation. They are constantly doing stupid things, especially Chris, or stating out loud that they have a time machine. They never seem to be interested in actually using the time travel ability to correct some historical disasters such as 9-11. They are constantly doing things that make no sense and Chris, who is a history professor, seems to know less about history than Dan who is supposedly not all that bright. In addition Deborah seems to immediately fit into the future with no sign of culture shock and she even speaks in the modern idiom. I love time travel stories but this series left me cold.

Things That Aren't Here Anymore
(1995)

LA as I remember it
I grew up while a lot of these things were still around. I remember the big red Pacific Electric cars that would take you all over SoCal for just a few cents. I remember eating at Clifton's cafeteria, the alligator farm that used to be next to Knott's Berry Farm, the Helms bakery trucks and riding on the Angels Flight cars. It was always fun to go to the Pike (way before Disneyland), and I remember going downtown at Christmas and see all the window displays. One day they let us out of school so that we could see them taking the parts of the Spruce Goose to the harbor. TV hadn't caught on yet but we used to go to the studios and be part of the audience at live radio shows. I especially remember going to the Gene Autry show, enjoying Lion Country Safari and a lot more. I miss many of these things and mourn their passing. I wish they would release both this show and the follow up "More things that aren't here anymore" on DVD.

Warehouse 13: Endless
(2014)
Episode 6, Season 5

Why?
I have been around and watching TV from the 1950s "golden age" until now and one thing I have never been able to understand is why a network will take a well liked (or even loved) show and end it. There have been hundreds over the years, "Night Court", "M.A.S.H.", "Eureka", "Carol Burnett", the original "Star Trek" and "Warehouse 13" to name but a few. If the show is losing popularity and ratings I can understand it but they keep other shows on long past their time. It seems that there is often no rhyme or reason for how the run of a show is determined. In the 60s they canceled the original "Mission: Impossible" and "Hogan's Heroes" even though both were still popular and had high ratings. I sometimes get the feeling that some idiot on the board of directors just gets a burr under his saddle and cancels a show because he feels like it and wants to prove he is doing something.

The Muppets.
(2015)

Yuck
I used to love the Muppet Show and even own most of the episodes on DVD. After watching the new show I fully expect to experience an earthquake caused by Jim Henson spinning in his grave. If you want the fun, warmth and entertainment you got fro the original Muppets you won't find it here. Miss Piggy has always been a diva but she overdoes it here. Kermit is as useless as most of the members of Congress and none of the other characters step up to fill in the gaps. I don't mind them going after an adult audience but the characters are abrasive, unlikable and even hateful. I have already decided the new show is not for me.

A Ticket to Tomahawk
(1950)

Fun but impossible
The main thrust of the story is that they use mules to drag a locomotive and a tender full of water across the desert. This would be impossible. The loco would weigh in at over 10 tons and the loaded tender at about 8 tons. The wheels would sink into the sand up to the axles and could not be towed. On top of that the front, pilot, wheels of the loco were not steerable nor was the wheels on the tender so they would not be able to pull the things straight, both would tend to veer off even if they could be moved. Still, the overall movie is fun and well worth watching. The musical numbers, and especially Dan Dailey, are very good.

Terror in a Texas Town
(1958)

Yuck
Easily one of the worst westerns I have ever been forced to watch. It starts out with clips from different parts of the movie, including most of the ending, and then settles down to tell the story (such as it is). First of all, though this is a town in Texas NOBODY carries or even seems to own a gun except for the bad guy. Then, this one man terrifies everyone except a Swedish ex-whaler who is basically a pacifist. Not only is the script lame but the acting is poor and unbelievable. Most of the actors seem to be just going through the motions. This is a grade D movie in my opinion. Watch it and make your own decision. I watched it because I had a friend who was an extra in the film.

NCIS: Los Angeles: The Livelong Day
(2013)
Episode 7, Season 5

The writers have never been on a train
As another reviewer noted, there are numerous braking mistakes in the train sequence. As he noted, air pressure is used to hold the brakes OFF, not on. When pressure in the line is lost the brakes set automatically. In addition the loco had dynamic braking built in, when the control is thrown to the brake positions (as it is when coming down long grades) the wheel motors become generators and this power is sent to resistors in the top of the loco. By doing this the generators are loaded and apply braking action. Another thing is---if none of the car brakes were set, then why was there sparks coming from ALL the train wheels? The story was a little far-fetched but the train sequence was a disaster.

The House in the Square
(1951)

A favorite
I saw this as a first run film and was impressed. both by the story (unusual for a teen age boy) and by how beautiful Ann Blyth was (not so unusual). It was, and is, a great film that not many people know about. The only thing that bothered me then, and also now when I watch the DVD, is why a man as brilliant as the professor didn't realize he was getting into trouble? He had plenty of warnings yet he continued doing things that almost anyone else would have realized that people of that time would regard as witchcraft or the work of the devil. Still, even with that defect, I think it is the best time travel film I have ever seen. Maybe not as flashy as some, but it leaves a deeper impression and a nicer memory.

Submarine Raider
(1942)

Where to start
In an era when propaganda films were coming out of Hollywood in a rush there were many that were A class, some which were B class, and then there was this one. I won't even comment on the bone-headed decisions the the two ship captains make or the historical accuracy that was missing. Rarely have I seen such obvious special effects such as planes making almost 90 degree turns in flight and clearly light weight model planes landing on the Japanese carrier. This was poorly written and planned and must have been rushed into production with a budget of about $1.38. If you want a good WW2 sub movie watch almost any film but this one.

Disaster Movie
(2008)

Worst ever
I have had root canal surgeries that were more fun. This mess makes "Plan 9 From Outer Space" (long considered the worst movie ever made) look like an Academy Award contender. The basic idea is good, make fun of all the disaster movies, but the actual movie is horrible. I get the feeling that the makers got high on something and just threw whatever came to mind into the script, figuring the audience would be too dumb to understand. These people should be banned from ever making another film and kept away from all movie cameras. I managed to sit through a total of 15 minutes and felt like I should wash my eyes and brain out with bleach to get rid of the memory. Terrible doesn't begin to describe it.

The Ghosts of Dickens' Past
(1998)

Good but not accurate
As a movie this is highly entertaining. As a biographical account of how Dickens wrote "A Christmas Carol" it is very inaccurate. About the only things that are accurate is that Dickens wrote the story because he needed money, he was always fearful of being poor again and he walked the streets of London at night while he thought about the story. The settings are wonderful and make you feel like you are in the London of the 1840s, the costumes and acting are also very good and the overall story is worthwhile. This is not a "Christmas" story as such but a highly fictionalized look at how Dickens wrote his most famous book. Here he is supposedly led by a young girl whose last name is Crachit (and who might be a ghost) to learn about the hardships of the poor and to see how the drive to make money can be a curse. He also is led to a gravestone where he sees the name "Marley". All in all a good film, but not an accurate portrayal of how Dickens wrote the story.

It's Christmas, Carol!
(2012)

Not bad, could be better
Another re-hash of Dickens' classic the has some interesting points but, as Don Adams used to say in the old "Get Smart" TV series, "Missed it by that much". I am a "Carol" lover and I own more than 20 versions so I can comment on this with a clear conscience. The idea of having Eve, Carol's old (and dead) boss take the place of Marley is understandable. The idea of her also taking the place of the three ghosts is less so. As in all the re-tellings of the story the protagonist, Carol, is Scrooge-like and pretty well hated by all the people who work for her. Again she sees the past, present and future but, unlike other tellings she doesn't gradually realize how nasty she is until the last moment and then she suddenly switches and is a nice person. This alone makes her transformation less than believable. Not a really bad movie, but it lacks the heart of several of the other versions. For the best see the Alastair Sim version with the George C. Scott and Patrick Stewart versions running a close second.

The Lemon Drop Kid
(1951)

Relax and enjoy
Far too many reviewers of these old movies refuse to put aside their modern desire to be offended and harp on things, like smoking, that were accepted and not even noticed or commented on at the time the film was made. So many actually want to be offended that they miss the main story of the movie. There are only a couple of Bob Hope films that I really like, several that I sort of like and a few that were, to say the least, lousy. This is one of his best and shows how even a low-life cheat, gambler and scam artist can turn his life around. The story is flawless, the acting is superb and the main song, "Silver Bells" is a classic. Watch the film with an unbiased and open mind and you will enjoy it.

Sweethearts
(1938)

Sorry, didn't like it
First the good: glorious Technicolor, Jeanette and Nelson in full voice, Ray Bolger's dancing and a fairly interesting story. Now the bad: the idea that a loving husband and wife could break up so suddenly and that the wife instantly assumes the worst and will not even listen to her, up until then wonderful, husband is a little far-fetched though I know it is important to the story. On top of that this is the first of their films that did not have one, to me, memorable song in it. Some decent songs, yes, but none that you hum or whistle after watching the movie. I know that I am in the minority here, but it isn't a film I will ever bother to watch again.

The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin
(1967)

One of my favorite Disney Live Action films
This a Disney film that most people have never heard of and, to me, it is one of the funniest. OK, some of it is a little hokey, but, by and large, it is a film the whole family can enjoy. Roddy McDowall is perfect as the straight-laced butler who tries his best to help his young friend in the gold fields of 1849 California. Suzanne Pleshette (beautiful as ever) plays the love interest that Bullwhip can't bring himself to admit. She can also belt out a pretty good barroom tune. Add a crooked judge who is also a thief, one of the funniest fist fights ever filmed and likable villains and you have an entertaining romp in the old west.

Golden Girl
(1951)

A good musical with a lot of historical mistakes
I have always liked Mitzi and I think she was one of the prettiest, and definitely the spunkiest, actresses of the time. The movie is fun but in no way historically accurate. For example: in the movie Lotta is 16 when she begins to perform. In reality she was only 6. In the movie her father is a gambler and ex-vaudevillian, he was actually an ex-bookseller who, with his wife, opened a boarding house in Grass Valley, California, during the gold rush. In the movie she sees Lola Montez for the first time on stage, actually she and her family were neighbors with Lola and Lotta spent many hours learning how to sing and dance from her. At the end of the film it is obvious that she will marry her fiancé, Tom Richmond. In real life she remained single. If you overlook the historical inaccuracies the movie is great.

Jupiter's Darling
(1955)

What a waste
I had wanted to see this film for a long time since I like Esther Williams, Howard Keel and the Champions. I saw it last night on TCM. What a let down. Not one good, memorable song, no real story and even the dance numbers were uninspired. This could have been a real killer of a movie but it just sort of puttered along on two cylinders, not good enough to be enjoyable but not quite bad enough to say the heck with it and give up. Esther's fantasy swimming number with the living statues is the high point. Howard Keel has no song worthy of his talent and the Champion's dance number with the elephants goes on way too long. The other reviewers have pretty much said it all. The fact that this film is not included in ANY of the Esther Williams DVD collections says a bunch.

I Dream of Jeanie
(1952)

Some good music
This is purportedly the story of Stephen Foster but bears no resemblance to his real life. It is more than 80% pure fiction and its only saving grace is a load of his music and some very good performances of it. Foster is portrayed as a wimp who is so besotted with a girl who is so obviously a self-centered brat that he swears that he will give up writing music if she will marry him (she doesn't). Many of the facts of Foster's life are portrayed here, his association with Christy, his lack of copyrights, his not being paid royalties, etc., but the basic story is pure Hollywood. Watch it for the good old music but beware, there is a long black face Minstrel show which will jolt many who grew up in recent years. Tacky by today's overly sensitive standards the minstrel show was still alive and well in the 1940s and into the 50s. Foster died, penniless and alone, at an early age but his music lives on and is well represented in this film.

Give a Girl a Break
(1953)

A good try, but----
Don Adams (as Maxwell Smart) used the line "missed by that much" a lot and that is the way this film hit me. It had great actors, fantastic dancers, good direction and yet, for me, it was second rate. I know most of the other reviewers will disagree with me but I just couldn't get into it. Some musicals (Singin' In The Rain, Showboat, Kiss Me, Kate and a lot more) grab you from the first frame but this one just didn't do it for me. It was wonderful as always to see the Champions (I always had a crush on Marge) and Debbie Reynolds and Bob Fosse were good as always, but the film just didn't click with me, It is well worth watching at least once (you'll find it often on TCM) but I will never be able to rate it as a favorite.

Two Guys from Texas
(1948)

No, they are not Bing and Bob
Bing Crosby and Bob Hope and their "Road" pictures were some of the hottest properties around during the 1940s and it seems that the Warner studio was trying to recreate the magic with Jack Carson and Dennis Morgan in their shared pictures. Unfortunately it did not work. One of the things that made the "Road" pictures so much fun was the obvious friendship and chemistry between Bing and Bob. A large part of the dialog in their films was ad-libbed, something that Jack and Dennis either could not do or were not allowed to do. No, the songs are not all that memorable and, no, Dennis Morgan doesn't have as good a voice as Bing, but while the songs are forgettable they are still pleasant. Jack Carson was a good actor and a fair comedian, but he was never as funny as Bob Hope. The story here is pretty predictable and Jack's total phobia about animals (and the easy way he gets over it) is slightly silly but even with its shortcomings this film is fun and worth at least one watching. I just recently saw it again on TCM and enjoyed it a lot.

Two Sisters from Boston
(1946)

A fun film
A little on the predictable side but a lot of fun. Lots of misunderstandings and confusion but it all works out in the end. Kathryn Grayson shows a side of herself (no pun intended) that is not seen in her other films. She has a flair for comedy and does a good job as a Bowery singer as well as an Opera star. June Allyson shows that she can handle anything they throw at her as well. No really memorable songs (though I did like "G'wan Home Yer Mudder's Callin'"). Lauritz Melchior is in full voice and Jimmy Durante seemed to be having a lot of fun with his role. I just watched it again on TCM and it was as much fun as when I originally saw it.

Red Garters
(1954)

I liked it
Westerns were huge box office at the time this was made as were musicals. Red Garters was designed as a masterful spoof of both genres. There was the good guy, Reb Randall (Guy Mitchell), the saloon singer, Calaveras Kate (Rosemary Clooney), the OK but not all the way good guy, Rafael Moreno (Gene Barry), the blustering blow-hard Mayor, Jason Carberry (Jack Carson), the token "injun", Minnie Redwing (Cass Daley), the villain, Billy Bucket (Frank Faylen), and the two love interests played by Pat Crowley and Joanne Gilbert. Toss in every cliché from every western movie you have seen (all played straight but tongue in cheek) and a couple of decent, though not highly memorable songs, and you had a fun film. This is not a movie to be taken seriously and it spoofs itself as much as anything. The real star is, of course, Rosie Clooney who was in full voice and at the peak of her career. A great movie? No. A fun movie? Yes. As it says at the beginning of the film "They said that movies should be more like life, but a wise man said, 'No, life should be more like the movies'".

Rango
(2011)

Yuck
Rango has to be one of the two worst animated films I have ever seen (Shark's Tale being the other) and I walked out after the first 45 minutes. Full of violence, racism and profanity I can't see how this was ever promoted as a "family friendly" movie. Not only did it basically say that you can win only if you lie, cheat and steal but that these are the traits of a hero. While I am not overly sensitive I did find the overt racism and constant harshness to be irritating. Since I did walk out early I can't comment on the entire film but I will say that I thoroughly disliked what I did see. I should know by now that if Johnny Depp is associated with a movie in any way I will dislike it. Never again.

The Kissing Bandit
(1948)

Fun, but not great
I saw this when it was first run and enjoyed it (I was 11). I recently saw it on DVD and, while I didn't enjoy it as much as the first time, it was still fun. First the good: Kathryn Grayson is beautiful as ever and her voice is as good as it ever was. Frank Sinatra handles his singing duties in great style. Ricardo Montalban, Ann Miller and Cyd Charisse perform a dance that is the best part of the movie. Now the bad: the story line is weak and unbelievable and both Sinatra and Grayson seem uncomfortable with their roles. Sinatra in particular seems out of place in the action scenes. Sinatra and Grayson have no spark between them which makes the love story part seem a little hard to believe. It is not one of the greatest musicals, but it is far from the worst. The music is forgettable, except for Kathryn's "Love Is Where You Find It", and there are not real laugh-out-loud moments, but all in all it is pleasant enough way to spend a couple of hours.

Torpedo Alley
(1952)

Good, but not great
While not in the class of "Run Silent, Run Deep", "The Enemy Below", "U-571", "Das Boot", "Up Periscope" or "Crash Dive" this is still a very watchable sub film. There are no really gripping battle sequences, though the ones that do occur are well done and at least 35% of the film is devoted to the training of submariners which, while interesting, does make the story slow down. Where many war movies concentrate on battle, here there is more character development, romantic entanglements and inter-character friction and interaction than combat. I enjoyed the movie but I felt it was somewhat plodding in spots and I had trouble really caring about the characters. The actors all did very well with what they had, but there is no major conflict to tie it all together. Perhaps because it revolves around the Korean War era it does not have the urgency found in most of the WW2 movies. A good movie but, in my opinion, not a great one.

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