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From Hell It Came

wonderfully awful
This stinker is so awful it's endearing! I can't top a review I once read about "From Hell It Came"--"Send it back!"


traitors into "heroes"
It beats all that to some people "Good Germans" in WWII are in fact traitors to their country. There is an old saying that "someone convinced against his will is of the same opinion still." I have heard that modern-day Germans are forced to say that Stauffenberg and his fellow traitors were "heroes," (if they do not, they will have to find another job, if they can find one--some "free country") though they swore a personal oath to Hitler (not Germany) and they tried a clumsy plot to assassinate him (they knew what they were doing). And it was not necessary to do it this way, for until July, 1944, every officer who came into contact with Hitler wore the weapon appropriate to the uniform he was wearing and could have easily assassinated him (for some reason, Hitler trusted a man who swore an oath of loyalty). Of course he would have been killed instantly, rather than hatching a clumsy bomb plot and running away like the cowards they were. If you like revisionist history, you will like this film. If the overuse of the word "hero" makes you sick to your stomach, stay away.

The Alfred Hitchcock Hour: The Life Work of Juan Diaz
Episode 4, Season 3

one of the best
I saw this a few nights ago for the first time in many years, and it retained its impression on me. It is not just one of the creepiest teleplays I have ever seen (and there ARE such mummy displays in Mexico) but one of the most moving. Lovely Pina Pellicer plays a widow with young children who must come up with a way to support and feed her and her children after her husband dies. The most moving part occurs just at the end when she stands before her home mummy display and speaks to her husband, begging him to understand and forgive her for what she has had to do to survive. What happens then is reminiscent of the scene in the Boris Karloff "The Mummy" when Im-Ho-Tep is recalled to life when the young Egyptologist reads from the Scroll of Thoth. One of the most memorable of all the Alfred Hitchcock entries!

The Beast of Hollow Mountain

it frightened me so much
The Beast of Hollow Mountain might look a little primitive now, but for its time it was an odd, but first-rate meld of Western and horror. I remember seeing this at the theater when I was about nine years old, and it frightened me terribly. That steer head! The suspense was terrific--where is the monster? Instead of paying attention to the screen, I kept looking behind me, wondering if the monster was going to pounce on me from behind! However, when the Beast finally appeared, he was well worth waiting for--great stop-motion special effects. I especially liked the Beast's tongue, which rippled out now and then in a threatening manner. However, the film has an annoying brat who must be suffered, though he has one of the best scenes in the film when he turns around and sees--guess what? It also has unintentional humor, as the lovely lady, Sarita, and the boy are fleeing from the Beast and take shelter in a broken-down adobe ranch house. Even then, I thought, "That's not much of a shelter!" I'd love to see this film again. It's a natural for a rainy Saturday afternoon matinée and quite good for its type.

Green Grass of Wyoming

a terrible disappointment
Mary O'Hara's trilogy, "My Friend Flicka," "Thunderhead," and "Green Grass of Wyoming" have been a treasured part of my life since I was a child. However, the three films made from them vary widely in quality, meaning specifically to their relationships to the books upon which they are based. "My Friend Flicka" is by far the best of the three, and "Thunderhead, Son of Flicka" (as it was renamed) was not bad, though each contains minor changes from the books. However, "Green Grass of Wyoming" is a total disappointment. The plot is changed so much that it bears almost no resemblance to its source. For instance, "Crown Jewel" is made into a harness horse instead of a "superb English Thoroughbred," as she is described in the book, and Burl Ives appears in a totally unnecessary role. Forget this film and go to your local library and read the book (if you can find it). This is one case in which the book is far better than the film!

Fools' Parade

Anne Baxter steals the show
As others who have reviewed "Fool's Parade," I am deeply regretful that it has never made it to VC or DVD, because it is a total gem! It was last run on television more years ago than I can remember, but it must have been before the VCR came along or I should have taped it in a minute. As a West Virginian myself, I recognize the local color, unique names, and general ambiance of this film. The whole cast is excellent, but some stand out. I have a friend who says she absolutely hates George Kennedy because of the slimy character he portrays (Dallas Council). Morgan Paull plays religious half-wit Junior Kilfong, who kills atheists when Dallas points them out to him, and marvelous Anne Baxter, with her painted-on black eyebrows, just steals the whole movie as Cleo, a patriotic madam fallen on hard times. Her lifelong heartbreak is that she is not allowed into the "DARs," even though her great-great-great-great or however many grandmother served the Colonial Army and died in the doing ("As surely as if she'd died in battle!") *Sob* I remember when "Fool's Parade" was shown on television, and the reason that Cleo's grandmother died was censored. However, the censoring made it sound worse than it really was! How I wish I could see this jewel again! Don't miss it if you get the chance!


heartbreaking, yet hopeful
There are no words fulsome enough to describe "JT." I remember seeing it many years ago, the first time it was shown. Seldom had I been moved so much by anything. Apparently scores of other viewers felt the same way, because it was run again a week later. I remember that Doris Day (a great animal lover) introduced this second showing, saying that the first had been "a happening." And so it was. JT, a little black boy being raised by his mother and grandmother, trying to bring him up right despite all the odds against him, finds a purpose in his life when he finds, adopts, and cares for a scroungy black and white alley cat. "JT" has a kind of double ending, the first so tragic, so sad, and the other hopeful. One gets the impression that JT will finally grow up, because of the responsibility he took for the cat and that the cruelty of his life, the fate of the cat, will make him a man that his mother and grandmother can be proud of. I always associate "JT" with Christmas and, thankfully, I taped it. Watch "JT" if you ever get the chance. Trust me--you will cry--

Christmas in Connecticut

a must-see for Christmas!
"Christmas in Connecticut" is an absolute gem, and a must-see for Christmas! Elizabeth Lane, a precursor to Martha Stewart, is a magazine columnist and the ne plus ultra of homemakers--the perfect wife, mother, and domestic goddess. Only thing is, she is none of these things--a total phony. Unfortunately for her, she is about to be found out. Her publisher, Mr. Alexander Yardley (a brilliant comic turn by Sydney Greenstreet) gets the bright idea of inviting a famous war hero to Elizabeth's "perfect farm" for the Christmas holiday. Only thing, there is no farm, "perfect" or otherwise. The comedy involves how Elizabeth is to keep her real identity under wraps so she will not lose her job. Elizabeth's colleague, John, happens to have a farm in Connecticut, so that solves that problem. However, he wants to marry Liz, but she does not want to marry him. He offers her marriage, though he knows she doesn't feel the same way about him that he does about her. He makes the offer anyway, and assures her that he is willing to wait. And here Barbara Stanwyck, as Liz, delivers one of the most devastating put-downs I have ever heard. With perfect innocence, she replies: "Could you wait that long?" OUCH! In addition, the scenes between Una O'Conner and S.Z. Sakall are hilarious. They don't seem to like one another (though one suspects they really do). They are rivals in the household, and S.Z. Sakall's mangled English is equaled by Nora's strangled pronunciation of his name ("Mr. Basternook"). "My name is FELIX!" It is amazing how Christmas-y these black and white films are. Great character work by all involved. Don't miss this one!

Ma and Pa Kettle at the Fair

good, lightweight entertainment
I watched "Ma and Pa Kettle at the Fair" again yesterday, as I do every year at fair time. Do not expect a profound masterpiece here; the humor is corny and some of the jokes are telegraphed, but you will laugh your head off anyway. Pa thinks up several ways to earn money to help his daughter, Rosie, with her college expenses. Probably the funniest is when he gets the bright idea to apply for unemployment. Rosie reminds her pa that one has to have worked before one can get unemployment. Apparently the only work Pa has ever done is to sire his brood of 14 children ha. The broken-down old mare that Pa has been tricked into "purchasing" has a secret that turns her into a real terror, and here we find one of those "telegraphed" jokes. "Emma" runs away with Ma at the reins, and they charge across a plowed field straight toward a scarecrow. You will just know what is going to happen, but I just about collapse in gales of laughter when it does--twice! The writers of this series used similar situations more than once, such as in one where the farm animals get into the moonshine, and, in this case, when a couple of crows pick at Ma's cement-baked loaves of bread and the obvious happens here, too! "Ma and Pa Kettle at the Fair" is a worthy member in the series, so just settle back and enjoy the yuks!

The Snow Goose

I have always associated The Snow Goose with Christmas, as I believe one of the few times I saw it was at this time. Unfortunately, this was before the VCR came along, so it is now lost to me and everyone else who was lucky enough to have seen this masterpiece. I have read the story upon which it is based, and one of the few changes was that the injured snow goose was named, by Philip, "Le Princesse Perdue," or "The Lost Princess." In the film she is called by Frith (Jenny Agutter), "Fritha," after herself. The casting could not have been better. I must admit that I have never liked Richard Harris, but I make a very big exception here. He is brilliant beyond description, as is Jenny Agutter. I remember reading that the story caused quite a bit of controversy when it first came out, as some people thought it was unfitting for a "normal" girl to have a (you know what kind of) relationship with a deformed man. This was not stressed in the film, as I recall. In any case, the end is just heart-wrenching. Please, please, whoever has control of this gem, make it available again to all of us who remember it, and to those who will fall in love with it as we have!

Piece of Cake

from the horse's mouth
I attended a symposium, dinner, and talk-- in Alexandria, Virginia, in October, 1990, sponsored by Virginia Bader, cousin to the legless RAF ace, Douglas Bader. She had invited General Adolf Galland and Air Vice Marshall Johnnie Johnson and their wives as guests of honor. I was too shy and in awe of General Galland, so I never actually met him (something I shall always regret), but I did meet AVM Johnson. I said, "I am honored, sir," and I meant it. At the talk that followed the symposium, someone in the audience asked Johnnie Johnson what he thought of "Piece of Cake" (which I had seen). He said, "It was bullshit!" Whereupon General Galland and the whole audience simply cracked up. He was there, so I guess he should know--

Alexander the Great

wish I could see this again
If I remember correctly, I only saw this flick once, and that was many years ago. Therefore I don't remember much about it except that it was so bad, it was hilarious. First of all was William Shatner in his usual hammy, overacting mode (did he have any other?). As a horse lover, I could not help but notice that Alexander's famous horse, Bucephalus, was played by an American Saddle Horse, which breed was not developed for many centuries after Alexander's time. However, I must recommend "Alexander the Great" mainly because it contains probably my favorite line in motion picture history. Alexander says of Bucephalus, "Did I not tell you that among horses he too is a God?" This stinker is worth seeing for that alone!

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

fine, but could have been better
With every different version of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" that I have ever seen, I hope again that I will one day see a film that copies the novel exactly. Victor Hugo's novel is a tragedy all the way, and it does NOT have a happy ending, or even a semi-happy one! The only version that is most like "Notre Dame de Paris" is the 1977 film described elsewhere in this site. However, the 1982 version comes closer than the earlier ones, which, because of censorship, could not have an Archbishop feverishly pursuing a heathen gypsy female through the dark streets of Paris, laying aside his priestly vows to lust after her to the death. This dark, Gothic romance cries out for black and white--it just doesn't work in color, and the color here is gorgeous. See the 1939 Laughton version to see what I mean. And speaking of the Laughton version, Anthony Hopkins is obviously copying Charles Laughton's legendary performance, and does it quite well--one great actor's nod to another. Has Anthony Hopkins ever given a bad performance? Or has Derek Jacobi, for that matter? He succeeds in making Dom Claude what I have always considered this character to be--not a villain, but a pathetic, pitiable character torn between his holy vows and his forbidden lust for a beautiful gypsy dancer. Lesley-Ann Down is lovely, to say the least, as Esmeralda, and the supporting cast is solid. David Suchet as Clopin is fine in his own way, but it was a thankless task to try to follow Thomas Mitchell's great, over-the-top turn as the King of the Beggars in the 1939 version. Though this version is not as good as it could have been, it still is one of the best, and well worth your time.

The Cowboy and the Ballerina

I was shocked
When I first saw this film, I was shocked. Lee Majors had aged horrendously from the way he looked as Heath Barkley. Also, whoever wrote the script didn't do their research. John MacIntyre says to Leslie Wing, "I saw Madame Spessysayva dance Giselle." LW corrects his pronunciation by saying, "Spessivyayva." Well, both pronunciations are wrong--they are no doubt referring to Olga Spessivtzeva (Spess-seevt-sa-va). He goes on to say, "You look like her." Well, Leslie Wing bears absolutely NO resemblance to Olga Spessivtzeva. If you have to watch anything connected with ballet, which is the only reason I watched it, you will be disappointed. I wonder why they bothered?

It's a Wonderful Life

what more can be said?
I don't think that I can say much more about this all-time classic than the others here have said. I remember when "It's a Wonderful Life" would be listed in TV Guide on several channels at the same time, with the same description. The casting is inspired, from Jimmy Stewart, wonderful Thomas Mitchell, nasty Lionel Barrymore, "Violet" (what a hot number!), down to the smallest roles. However, and I hope this is not a spoiler, the shared telephone segment with Donna Reed and Jimmy Stewart is one of the most erotic scenes I have ever seen in all my years of motion picture viewing. Nothing is happening, but EVERYTHING is happening! Back then they didn't have to hit you over the head with a club to get the point! Jimmy Stewart has never been a special favorite of mine, as Errol Flynn, Tyrone Power, Rudolph Valentino, and James Cagney have been, but at the very end of "It's a Wonderful Life" I suddenly noticed something--God, Jimmy Stewart was so good-looking! That million megawatt smile! Yes, IaWL is corny, mawkish at times, but it delivers a powerful lesson, for Christmas and any time. Watch it!


everybody famous
I very well remember "Branded" from the 60s. The theme song and the opening scenes, when Jason McCord is cashiered from the army for cowardice, remain in my memory, and especially the outtakes, when the man assigned to tear off McCord's epaulets kept trying and trying, but they just wouldn't tear off! How well I remember Chuck Connors breaking up (everybody else in the scene did, too!). However, this is one of those series when the main character somehow meets up with just about everybody famous who ever came west, including Edwin Booth and George Armstrong Custer (who knew the truth about Bitter Creek and wondered how long McCord was going to cover for his officer). It only lasted two seasons, but I'd certainly watch it again if I had the chance. (Personally, I always thought that Jason McCord DID "run away!")

City for Conquest

typical Warner Brothers gem
I had the very great pleasure this Thanksgiving week of seeing one of my sentimental favorites from the good old Late Show days (nights), City for Conquest. I had not seen it in more years than I should like to remember, but, as I watched, it all came back to me. James Cagney, who has always been a great favorite of mine, plays Danny Kenney (they always seemed to give James Cagney's characters names like "Danny" or "Tommy"), who takes up boxing to finance his younger brother's music career. Sizzling Ann Sheridan is Danny's girlfriend, who has ambitions of her own in the wider world. And indeed Ann Sheridan was a wonderful dancer, and her numbers with Anthony Quinn are erotic in only the way a great dance team can be. Anthony Quinn (man, he was HOT! He looked a lot like Rudolph Valentino) plays a slime ball who fills Peggy's ears with what she wants to hear. They can be a sensational dance team as "Maurice and Margalo" and conquer the world. Of course, she winds up breaking Danny's heart and Danny winds up blind. Soap opera stuff, to be sure, but it WORKS! I believe I once read that Warner Brothers hired a professional boxer to coach James Cagney in this role. Not that he needed much coaching, considering his Hell's Kitchen background. The coach was impressed with Cagney and asked him where he got those moves. "I'm a hoofer," Cagney replied. In any case, if you can avoid bawling your eyes out at the end of City for Conquest," you are stronger than I am! A must-see!

Salem's Lot

passable adaptation of King novel
Having both read Stephen King's novel and watched the original made-for-TV Salem's Lot, I must say that the book is better, though the film made from it is pretty good. "Barlow" in the book is not the skull-faced nightmare he is in the film (wonderful Reggie Nalder, who didn't look much different as himself as he did as Barlow! Stephen King, in his book, "Danse Macabre," refers to actors like Reggie Nalder as "nonentities about to become full-fledged nobodies"--ouch!) Barlow in the book could speak very well for himself, thank you, but, if you have to have somebody do your talking for you, who better than James Mason? Unfortunately, probably my favorite character in the book did not make the transition to this film--Dud Rogers, the hunchbacked dump keeper, whose head bobbled around on his neck as though, King wrote, God had given it an extra twist at Dud's birth. Dud amused himself by distressing old furniture and selling it to gullible antiques collectors as the real thing, shooting the rats that infested the dump, and lusting after Ruthie Crockett, "who wore no bra." I feel his absence-- This Barlow is a throwback to the good old "Nosferatu" days, and, despite its flaws, Salem's Lot is a cracking good view for this Hallowe'en season. It has its startling moments, especially the final staking, but it doesn't scare me. However, one of my best friends, after watching Salem's Lot the first time, vowed that she will NEVER watch it again, she found it that frightening. Oh, well, rent it and see for yourself--it's well worth your time!

Captain Blood

Flynn and his films have been better
Though I have loved Errol Flynn since I was about 13 years old, I have to admit that "Captain Blood" is not my favorite Flynn film. Errol Flynn had not yet hit his stride, as he would a few years later in "Robin Hood." He is awkward in spots, but his physical beauty and physical grace are breathtaking. Some of the dialog is a bit much ("Bedad, it was epic!"), and Basil Rathbone is a worthy precursor to Snidely Whiplash. I kept expecting him to twirl his mustache! BR always said he admired Flynn and Tyrone Power as actors, but they were not expert swordsmen, as he was, but he always had to lose to them because he was always the villain! In addition, Korngold's score is not in any way comparable to those of "The Adventures of Robin Hood" and "The Sea Hawk." Watch "Captain Blood" as the film that launched a great and ill-fated star, but see Flynn at his best in his later swashbucklers.

Immortal Beloved

I couldn't have said it better
tomintoul, having just seen "Immortal Beloved" for the first (and probably last) time, I was going to comment on it here. However, having read your comments, I must admit that I could not have said it better. I bought this film some time ago, but had never gotten around to playing it (now I don't wonder--). When I first approach any film, I usually just put it on to play when I am cleaning house or otherwise going about my business. Then, if I think it is worth it, I will sit down and give it all my attention. Music-wise, this film is wonderful, as how could it be otherwise? I fell in love with Beethoven when I was in grade school (not a few years ago!). I heard the "Ode to Joy" and I was hooked for life. To me, Beethoven was a man among men, and now a god among gods-- However, this piece of you-know-what is totally unworthy of him. When I realized where they were going in the naming of the "Immortal Beloved," I said to myself, "Oh--my--God! They wouldn't DARE!" However, they did dare, and this is what wrecks the film altogether. Get any of von Karajan's recordings. He was the total master of Beethoven's music, and whenever anyone wants to know about Beethoven, just listen to his music--

National Velvet

those golden summer Sunday afternoons
My junior high school girl friends and I all went through the phase of being "horse crazy." Experts say that a lot of children go through this phase, and most of these are girls. The horse films we liked were usually run on a Pittsburgh television station on Sunday afternoons. Then, when we all returned to school on Monday morning, we would excitedly ask each other, "Did you see "My Friend Flicka?" Did you see "Gallant Bess?" And, "Did you see "National Velvet?" This film is a beloved memory from my childhood. It was all our dream to ride a horse in a great race and win it! I read Enid Bagnold's book, and the major change from book to movie was that "The Pi" was called that because he was black and white--a piebald--not because he was very high-spirited and hard to handle--a "pirate." However, I read somewhere that "King Charles," the horse portraying "The Pi," was a son of Man o' War and a chestnut like his sire--no Thoroughbred horse would ever be a piebald! Mickey Rooney played the part he played so many times and which he would make his own--a jockey or a trainer. Elizabeth Taylor was staggeringly beautiful, never more beautiful than she was in this film. Anne Revere is the wise, loving mother everyone wishes they had had. Velvet lives out her dream, and we lived it out with her. Whenever I see this film now (it never ages), I look back with nostalgia to those warm summer afternoons in the shadowy living room in front of the television, imagining myself as Velvet, winning the greatest steeplechase in the world on my beloved horse. A must-see for all children, especially girls!

Andy's Gang

ahead of its time
I was very young when "Andy's Gang" was on TV, but it was a great favorite of mine. I always liked Gunga Ram and his elephant, "Teela," but I always especially remember Froggy saying, "I'll be good, I will, I will!" However, Froggy was very seldom "good." I thought it was really great when Froggy appeared, or vanished, in a flash of light or smoke or whatever-it-was. It is only now that we can see that Froggy was the precursor to Bart Simpson, and that Froggy was subliminally brainwashing us Baby Boomers into rebelling against our parents and the whole Establishment, which came to full fruition in the Vietnam era with all those street demonstrations we remember so well. Oh, come on! Don't believe this? Get some tapes of this show (they have been made and sold) and see if I'm not right! (Also, check out "Froggy the Gremlin" on eBay--those rubber Froggy dolls are selling for hundreds of dollars!) A wonderful nostalgic memory!


where is this film?
"Sequoia" has haunted me since I was about 10 years old. I saw it on black-and-white television, and all I really remember about it is the scene of a mountain lion lying down and a buck deer standing close by. This fascinated me no end, though I joked about it in later years ("The camera was shut off just before the mountain lion got up, jumped on the deer, and killed it!" ha) For many years I was beginning to wonder if this film was just a dream, because I could not find it listed in any of my "movies on TV" type books. I even tried movie search services before I found the right one and they described the plot to me and I finally knew that "Sequoia" did exist! However, I am saddened to learn the information given on others of these postings--that it does not exist anymore, or has been lost. I sincerely hope this is not so, because I'd snap it up in a minute if it became available!


A horse lovers dream!
Frankly, I paid less attention to the plot than to the horses in the early part of the film. My God, where did they get those magnificent animals? Golden Chimes, Grenadier, Torch Bearer were worth the whole film to a horse lover! And the films of the great horses of the period, especially Man o' War, are a special treat. However, having to sit through Bobs Watson, probably the worst child actor in history, is really an effort. Little Bobs didn't cry, he BLUBBERED, with his cheeks swollen like balloons, and that whiney, squally voice--! Oh, well, I guess you can't have everything. Enjoy the horses and forget the rest!

Bud Abbott Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein

a lifetime favorite
Curiously enough, if I remember correctly, I first saw A & C Meet F on black and white television on Christmas morning when I was about ten or eleven years old. Until I saw it again in later years, the thing I remembered most about it was the excellent, old-fashioned animation that opens the film, introducing the "monsters" and naming the actors playing them--first the Wolf Man, then Dracula, then The Monster--then Lenore Aubert (what a dish!) I have read others say that A & C Meet F is a disgrace to the Universal classics it spoofs. Not so! It is both funny (A & C at their best), and creepy (the sliding candle, for instance). However, one of the funniest lines belongs to Lou/Wilbur. He is confined in stocks, awaiting the surgery that will transfer his suitably pliable brain into the head of The Monster. He says to "Frankie" that the brain switch is a "bad deal--I've had this brain for thirty years and it hasn't worked yet!" I taped this film off AMC (before AMC went into the toilet), and I play it every Christmas morning. Don't miss this film, on Christmas morning, Halloween, or any other time!

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