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Going My Way

Sorry, but this is sentimental slop
I love old movies. I consider myself a moderate fan of Bing Crosby, in terms of his recordings, many of his movies, and his television work. But this movie is little more than sentimental slop. I had a negative memory of this film, although the only other time I had seen it was when it began appearing on television years ago when I was but a kid...and I'm 70 now. So this holiday season I thought I'd take a second shot at watching it and, perhaps, changing my viewpoint about it. Nope. Just as bad as I remembered over 50 years ago.

Let's start with the quality of the technical aspects of the film. As I began watching it, I kept thinking that I thought the film dated to the mid-1040s. But in terms of just the style of film it looked like something out of the early 1930s. And the old soundtrack hiss was VERY distracting here, to an extent that I haven't noticed in decades, even though the visual clarity of the print shown on TCM seemed very good.

Despite my memory, I was expecting a pretty good story here. After all, it was one of the projects of Leo McCarey. "The Awful Truth", "My Favorite Wife", "Love Affair", and one of my very favorite films "An Affair To Remember" (the remake of "Love Affair"). Well, this film is not up to the quality of those other films...not even close. How it became the biggest hit of 1944, I'll never understand. The film should have been edited down from its 126 minutes...there's just not enough going on to warrant that running time. And the pace is often VERY slow, made more noticeable by the lack of much background music.

Crosby does alright here. Affable, mildly interesting character. But a big problem to me is Barry Fitzgerald. I guess it's not his fault. I'll have to blame it on McCarey for making him a mere caricature of a crotchety old priest. Cornball portrayal. Frank McHugh was bearable as another priest (sometimes he annoys me greatly). James Brown was fine as a banker's son, and that side story turns out to be one of the slightly more interesting parts of the movie. Gene Lockhart is quite good as the banker-father. Jean Heather as a young girl with odd ideas about singing did little for me. Fortunio Bonanova as an orchestra conductor had a small, but interesting role. Eily Malyon as Mrs. Carmody is interesting. I enjoyed the scenes (but not the singing) with Risë Stevens, an opera singer. William Frawley and Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer have small parts.

Bottom line -- this was a wasted 126 minutes of my life.

Madame X

When Hollywood doesn't work as expected
When I was a boy, I believed that the two most beautiful women in the world were Sophia Loren and Lana Turner. I also thought they were both really good actresses. But this film is a good example of how Hollywood doesn't always work as expected. First, with a fine career behind her, this was Lana Turner's finest acting performance...and essentially the end of her career in respectable films! And not even an Academy Award nomination.

Perhaps it's the baggage attached to tear jerkers...that they're not taken seriously. But this is a film I remembered well from when I saw it at age 17, and I think just as highly of it today when I am 70.

Sure there are some rather implausible plot mechanisms know...sort of like in most films. But it's a visually rich production that Ross Hunter put on, and the only tear jerker film I can think of that might beat this one was another Turner film -- "Imitation Of Life".

John Forsythe is very good here as the politician husband. I'm never impressed with Ricardo Montalbá the philanderer. Burgess Meredith has a strong role as a very unlikable blackmailer. Constance Bennett is excellent as the manipulating mother/mother-in-law; she died shortly after filming ended. And Keir Dullea is totally serious as the son/lawyer.

This is an entertaining film, soapy as it may be, and Lana Turner displays talents she hadn't ever shown before.

Key to the City

I like screwball comedies...
...but here I think it was the writers that were screwy. I almost always enjoy Clark Gable, and I don't recall ever being disappointed in a Loretta Young film. But there was just something off about this film.

Perhaps it's the plot. Mayors going to San Francisco for a convention...okay. Two mayors falling in love...okay. Two mayors getting married by the end of the movie...okay. But some of the stuff in between...not okay. Loretta Young's character in a low class Chinese restaurant where fisticuffs break out after a strip tease...not okay...and not funny. Clark Gable's character climbing an extremely high fire truck ladder to break into Young's hotel room...too absurd. Loretta's Young's jujitsu fight...bizarre. And that's sort of the way this movie goes. It almost seems as if they were thinking that they had to put a film together, but struggled to make it meaningful.

I liked the supporting cast here, although this was not Frank Morgan's best role as a Fire Chief, and unfortunately it was his last film, which was not released until after his death. Marilyn Maxwell...too old to be an exotic dancer. Raymond Burr was fine as the bully villain. James Gleason had a good, though small role as a police sergeant. And the venerable Lewis Stone was showing his age here at age 71, though it was always good seeing him in a film.

Gable had a number of excellent films after this is the decade before his death, including one of my favorite Gable films -- "It Started In Naples", which as a child I saw on the day he died, and again on the day he was buried. This film, however, is unmemorable and nearly an embarrassment.

Night and Day

Good news/bad news
I have very mixed feelings about this film.

Cole Porter is my favorite composer/song writer. My favorite song of his being "Begin The Beguine". This film is often criticized for being a whitewash of Porter's life. It probably is to an extent, but considering that Monty Woolley -- one of Porter's real closest friends -- is an important part of the cast, I like to think that he felt that the film had at least the essence of Porter. On the other hand, we have the bio pic from 2004, "De-Lovely" starring Kevin Kline, which was perhaps just a bit too graphically realistic. In both films, however, Porter's music shines through, although personally, in this film I was not enamored with most of the production numbers, except perhaps for "Begin The Beguine".

The other negative here is Cary Grant's role. Don't get me wrong. It's always a delight watching Cary Grant, and it was here. But because of needing to restrict himself to the role of a real person, we couldn't see the usual Grant persona shine through.

In terms of supporting cast, Alexis Smith was very good here as his wife, I always enjoy character actor Henry Stephenson, Jane Wyman has a role that seems a bit odd for her, Eve Arden is terribly cast as a French singer, I liked Tom D'Andrea as a stage manager (later of the television show "The Life Of Riley"), surprising see Alan Hale Sr. as a song publisher...a rather small role, and a small but good cameo by Mary Martin as herself. And then there's Monty Woolley. Having just watched his film "The Man Who Came To Dinner" a week ago, I'd say that's enough of Monty Woolley for quite some time...but he is a real life character here since he really was a close friend of Cole Porter.

Great Technicolor here, but the print I watched on TCM seemed to have some aging flaws in terms of blurriness is a few scenes.

An enjoyable film to watch, but although I have quite a few of Cary Grant's in my collection, this is not one. In fact, I did once have a copy of it, but gave it away.

And One Was Beautiful

Stick with it
There's no question that this was an MGM B movie. And unfortunately, incredibly lackluster screen writers ruined the first 20 minutes of the film by imagining that every word that comes out of the mouths of fairly well off Americans is clever...which, of course, is so unrealistic. Not knowing what this film was about, based on that 20 minutes, I would have normally turned the film off. However, I think that both Robert Cummings and Laraine Day were terribly underrated actors, so I decided to stick with it. And then, about 20 minutes into the film, like a slap in the face, the film turns from being a failed romantic story to a man being sent to prison for a crime he didn't commit. What a turn-around. The man (Cummings) accepts going to prison to protect a romantic interest (Jean Muir) who is too cowardly to tell the truth. And Muir is haunted by her sister's (Day) constant reminders of her cowardice. Meanwhile, Day is falling in love with Cummings, and almost single-handedly, she gets Cummings a pardon from his 5 year prison sentence. And it seems for a while as if Cummings is going to fall back in love with the WRONG sister! But, Cummings and Day do live happily ever-after.

Robert Cummings is interesting. He had some wonderful films where he showed some real acting ability, such as Hitchcock's "Sabateur", "King's Row", and the bright comedy "The Devil And Miss Jones". But things eventually went downhill, perhaps due to his drug use, and he ended up being a rather successful television star for a while, before practically disappearing. He's very good here as a rather young actor on the verge of real stardom.

Laraine Day was right in the middle of her series of Dr. Kildare films with Lew Ayres when she made this film. She's very right for the part.

The supporting cast here is interesting, as well. Starting with probably the worst actress to ever be a successful film actress -- Billie Burke. To think that she was the wife of Flo Ziegfeld is mind-boggling! Esther Dale is, once again, the perfect maid. Rand Brooks (Charles Hamilton in GWTW) has a role as a suitor; I had no idea he was such a prolific -- if unremarkable -- actor until I looked him up.

One last comment. I mentioned the inappropriate first 20 minutes (roughly) of the film. The low point of the film, however, is the clownish behavior of the family of the manslaughter victim of the plot. Stupid movie-making.

However, this is a film worth watching. It's good. In the right hands (in terms of direction and screen writing) it could have been great. They let down the stars.

Dodge City

1939 does it again!
What was it about 1939? "Dark Victory", "Gone with the Wind", "Goodbye, Mr. Chips", "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington", "Stagecoach", "The Wizard of Oz", and many more great films all from one magical year. And "Dodge City" was another winner.

Make no mistake...this film belongs almost solely to Errol Flynn. It was his first Western, and he is simply great in it. But the rest of the cast is golden, as well. Olivia de Havilland as the love interest (again), Ann Sheridan as a saloon girl in what might be considered here first big role (small though it was), Bruce Cabot as the smiling villain. Alan Hale as Flynn's sidekick (again), Henry Travers as the doctor and uncle of De Havilland's character), Henry O'Neill as Colonel Grenville Dodge, and Victor Jory as the even worse bad guy. Special mention should be made of Frank McHugh, in an odd role for comedy...straight drama...and I enjoyed him this way, while I often tired of his silly roles in most other films.

In terms of the plot, one of our reviewers said the film was "entirely conventional". Well, I think this film was what made some of those plot devices "conventional" -- a stampede, a runaway railway chase, a cliff hanger shoot out, and more. Virtually every Western listed as "one of the greatest" came after 1939 and this film and "Stagecoach".

And, particularly with Blue-Ray, this film -- in Technicolor -- has been restored to its colorful glory.

If you like Westerns at least a little bit, this is one to watch.

Young Mr. Lincoln

I dissent
This film is somewhat of a classic. And there are certainly reasons for that. Henry Fonda's makeup alone is notable, particularly for 1939. And his acting here is beyond reproach. In fact, there are a number of wonderful performances in this film. Alice Brady -- in her last film role -- as the mother of the two young men accused of murder turns in a superb performance, even though she was suffering from cancer while making this film. Interestingly, Milburn Stone (Doc in "Gunsmoke") turns in a fine performance as Stephen Douglas.

Additionally, the John Ford film has some great Ford touches. And the print I just watched on TCM was perfect.

So why do I dissent when most reviewers give this film high marks. Very simply this -- if this film truly represents who Abe Lincoln was, then he should never have become president. Let alone become one of out top three presidents. Why do I say that? How does the film represent Lincoln? As a cheat (the rope pull contest), a buffoon in the courtroom, and a liar when it suited his purposes. I guess the young Mr. Lincoln must have really turned around before he became the middle aged Mr. Lincoln.

A Warm December

Worth watching only for Poitier
There are few actors for whom I have more respect than Sidney Poitier. More than any Black actor, he earned acceptance of Black actors to the broad American film audience. He did it quietly, not unlike how Barack Obama earned acceptance among the general population.

However, that doesn't mean that every Poitier film was top notch...although most were. This is not one of the successes. It was a flop at the box office. The question is -- why? It is well past the first half-hour of the film before we begin to learn what the movie is about. Early on it almost seems like a spy movie...which it is not, at all. Then (other than the give-away title) we learn it is a romance. But why all the secrecy. We don't get into that until almost midway through the film. And the ending...there were three possibilities: the female leads goes back to American with Poitier and his daughter, or she dies, or...well...nothing really happens and the whole film was just a fling. The third option was the weakest, and that was the option chosen.

Poitier's acting is excellent, as always. The daughter was interesting, although seemed a bit unreal. And the female lead seemed a bit too far off center, as well. The film helped bring attention to sickle cell anemia, which, unfortunately is still with us.

If you decide to watch this film, do so for the only right reason -- to revel in another performance by a truly fine actor and a truly fine man.

It Should Happen to You

Another disappointment
I guess it's just me, but with one bright exception (and this isn't it). I've never been impressed with Judy Holliday's film career. But I'm not blaming Judy. I just think that she got put into a series of films that were less than impressive...with the exception of one of the last great musicals -- "Bells Are Ringing" (which of course was her Broadway triumph, as well). And perhaps -- I don't know -- that was where Holliday really belonged...on the stage.

The problem with this film, at least to me, is that the premise is too unlikely. A girl spends her hard earned money (wait a did she earn that money?...modeling girdles. I guess that was supposed to be funny) to buy a billboard with her name on it. Along comes a soap company that just has to have that billboard for their product. The romantic triangle comes with Judy's character being courted by two men -- the honorable (but sometimes overly frentic Jack Lemmon) and the suave, sophisticated Peter Lawford (with dishonest intentions). That's it. For 87 minutes.

Holliday is fine. Lemmon is fine (wasn't he always?). Lawford is fine. Everyone was fine...but no one was inspired. For me, there just wasn't any substance here, and it took me three evenings to struggle through to the end. As far as I'm shouldn't happen to you.

P.S. -- the close of the film was lousy.

In the Good Old Summertime

Right template, wrong chemistry
I like Van Johnson. I liked Judy Garland. I liked MGM musicals. But for me, this film just doesn't click, and I think it comes down to two factors. First, I just didn't feel that Johnson and Garland had any chemistry between them, and as a result, the love affair just seems illogical. Second, I wasn't particularly impressed by the songs in this musical. The title song is a traditional favorite, and certainly nothing new. I did like "Meet me Tonight In Dreamland", but it wasn't outstanding. And while I won't hold it against the film, it seems odd that the film is called "In the Good Old Summertime" when almost all the action takes place around Christmas. Go figure.

The rest of the cast was decent. S. Z. Sakall played himself. Spring Byington was as nurturing as ever. It was nice to see Buster Keaton in a prominent supporting role.

The period sets and such are really nice. And the film has a nice nostalgic feeling to it. But I don't see this as one of the great MGM musicals. Not bad, but certainly not great.

Friendly Persuasion

I'm In The Middle On This One
Lots of tens here in the ratings, and quite a few very dismissive ratings and reviews. I'll land somewhere in the middle.

Let's start out with the negatives. Admittedly, there aren't many. I felt the first half of the film was a bit slow. Too homespun, too sentimental, perhaps too unrealistic. Definitely too long. I also disliked the part of the film where the son (Anthony Perkins) is overwhelmed by Marjorie Mains' daughters. That degree of silliness simply didn't belong in this picture. Handled correctly, it could have been a decent interlude, but this was almost slapstick.

What did I like about the picture? I enjoyed seeing Gary Cooper in this type of role. It lent a nice balance to his career, and was certainly better than the Cooper film that followed it -- "Love In The Afternoon".

I'm also very fond of Dorothy McGuire, and was excellent and believable in this film.

Young Richard Eyer did well as the young son here; he was a cute little actor...and talented. It was nice to see Robert Middleton get a "good guy" role for a change. I was turned off by the role Walter Catlett played as Professor Quigley; again, too silly for this film. Joel Fluellen as Enoch was good, but seemed to disappear too early in the film.

But I want to close with what I think is the biggest weakness of the film. Each of Quakers characters had their own battle with truly behavior...for one day. Everything was peachy dory before that one day, and it appears that everything was peachy dory after that day. That's not at all the way life works.

However, the film has its moments, and I'm still glad I watched it.

Love in the Afternoon

Yuck! 2.0
Another of our reviewers titled their review "Yuck!" I whole heartedly agree.

Before I get to Gary Cooper, I have to comment on two production issues. This was some of the worst cinematography I've ever seen...not something I usually even notice. And the matte paintings of the square beneath the hotel fake looking to be laughable, and so amazing that nothing ever moved in that busy square in front of an important hotel. Sad.

But the problem here is Gary Cooper. Don't get me wrong. I generally admire Cooper. From the 1930s to many fine performances. Fine Westerns. Fine dramas. Fine comedies. And then, toward the end of his career he allowed himself to play a dirty old man. That's what this role really was with him nearly 60 romancing a woman 30 years his junior. But that's the kind of joke that Billy Wilder loved. I'm just surprised Cooper accepted the role. I truly disliked him in this film, although as the film came to a close it was possible to perhaps like his character a little bit more.

Hepburn here was fine. Very good performance. And Maurice Chevalier, as well. I enjoyed seeing him in this role as a father and detective.

But You know who could have pulled this off? Perhaps Cary Grant (my god...he could do anything and make it look good). But I was thinking William Holden. Far more mature than Hepburn, but not in a creepy way.

And by the way, what was WRONG with John McGiver's voice here. I remember the character actor well, and while he had a distinctive voice, here it was out of control.

I dislike the film. For me, the worst of a usually wonderful actor.


An exceptional small film
Giving this film an "8" is perhaps overstating its quality a bit, but the strong performance by Glenn Ford gives this film that extra boost that made it more than just "watchable".

It's actually a pretty complex film, and I have my doubts that all the legal maneuvers here are not very practical, but once you suspend that disbelief you can sit back and enjoy a well-acted and thought-provoking film that seems oddly appropriate now in 2019. Of course, the time represented here was back in the late 1940s, and the specter of communism haunts the film, but in addition to that dark aspect of the film is an unusually good courtroom drama.

Glenn Ford shines here. I'd have to say one of his better roles. Dorothy McGuire is always dependable, and she was here, and a couple of her scenes -- particularly when she admits flirting with communism -- are particularly strong. I have never liked Arthur Kennedy, but I have to begrudgingly admit that he was a capable actor, and did very well here. John Hodiak is good, as well, and I often lament that he died before becoming a more famous actor. This was the last film he totally completed before his death at age 41, although another film of his was released after this, although he died of a heart attack before all the shooting was finished. Katy Jurado's name may not mean much to a lot of viewers, but she was a staple in a lot of roles for Latino women, including quite a few Westerns. She was very talented. The same can be said for Rafael Campos, the boy on trial here. Very talented, and I think very underappreciated. Somehow I was not familiar with Juano Hernandez, who plays the judge here in an interesting casting decision. He does very nicely, and as I looked over his credits, he was in a number of films I have enjoyed...I'll need to pay more attention in the future.

This may not be a "great" film, but it's really very good. Recommended.

When Tomorrow Comes

I really wanted to like this...
...and I did like some aspects of the film. But overall, this film just seemed to stray off course a few times too often.

At the beginning of the film, an inordinate amount of time was spent on the wait staff's union business. It was an okay place to start, but it went on so long that it cheated us in terms of the real meat of the plot. Some dialog here and there actually made me stop and think, "Gee, that was dumb". And then the ending...I found it totally unsatisfactory (was that a code consideration?).

On other hand, I like Irene Dunne, although I didn't like her here as much as I usually do. To me, she doesn't come across as well as a lowly waitress as well as she came across in more somewhat upper class films such as "The Awful Truth" (with Cary Grant). Recently I've been taking a second look at Charles Boyer and I've gained more respect for his acting than I once had. He's really very good here.

I give the film high marks for the special effects. Special effects in a love story? Yes, the hurricane is done quite nicely for 1939, and the scene in the flooded church is nicely done.

I watched this film on TCM, and this was one of the worst prints I've ever seen them present. Of course, that's not the film's fault, but this is one picture that desperately needs to be restored.

Heaven Only Knows

Terribly disappointing
Bob Cummings appeared in a handful of films where his performances were top rate. Number one on my list was the Alfred Hitchcock film "Sabateur", followed by "The Devil And Miss Jones", "King's Row", and "Dial M For Murder". Based on those films I felt he was a very underrated actor. So I was looking forward to seeing this film. But, alas...pee yew!

First of all, this is a very corny religious film. If that kind of film is not typically your taste in movies, then pass this film by. Second, I was often disappointed and distracted by the look on Bob Cummings' face in the film; it made it seem as if he didn't know how to handle being an "angel"...or something of the sort. Third, the leading actress in the film -- Jorja Curtright -- was just horrible. HORRIBLE. Fourth, Stu Erwin, as the sheriff, seemed to be trying to copy the mannerisms of Will didn't work. And fifth...the way the boy dies. Of what?

But let's see...there must be something good about this film. Well, it does give Brian Donlevy, who usually played the heavy, a chance to play the good least toward the end of the film. And, it's a bit interesting to see Marjorie Reynolds -- who later played Bill Bendix's wife in "The Life Of Riley" -- as the second female lead, but it's too bad she never fulfilled her early promise as seen in "Holiday Inn".

Sometimes I'm glad to see a film once, even when it's not a good film. I can't say that in this case.

Seven Cities of Gold

Very dated, but it may hold your attention
Being produced in 1955, this film used a number of stereotypes to justify the Spanish "invasion" of what became southern California. Today, as we look much differently at how conquerors treated indigenous peoples, our view of this film is much different than it probably would have been in 1955...more than half a century later.

This was not a film that was very good for the key actors. Worst of all was what I looked at as an almost silly role for actor Jeffrey the son of the chief and then the chief of the local Indians. I laughed out loud, something that shouldn't happen in a period drama. But the man was handsome! And then there was Anthony Quinn. Quinn was already hitting his stride when this film was made, but this film only scraped the surface of his talent. And then there's Richard Egan. I've never warmed up to Egan as an actor; the most I can say here is that he was pleasant on screen. The actor that comes off the best here is Michael Rennie. I remembered Rennie from his iconic role in "The Day The Earth Stood Still" and "Les Misérables", and he does a nice job here as the historical figure Father Junipero Serra.

I would be overstating it to say that the plot plods along, but I also didn't find myself sitting on the edge of my chair. And I found the ending disappointing because it never really brings in the greater context of how important the role of this mission (both military and religious) had on the history of California for decades to come. It was an opportunity lost.

Of interest here, however, is the role played by a young Rita Moreno.

This is one of those films I was glad to have watched...once. I would never be tempted to watch it again.

Road to Morocco

Best of the Road pictures
This is a winner! Starting right off from the duet with Bing and Bob singing "Off On The Road To Morocco", while riding a camel (and by the way, there's a studio version of this -- in fact two -- available on CD and digitally), to Bing's singing one of his finest ballads ever ("Moonlight Becomes You"), to talking and spitting camels, to the suave Anthony Quinn (once again as the villain)...this romp has it all. For me, it's the best of the Road pictures. As Variety said, "The two (Hope and Crosby) have never teamed better, nor have they, seemingly, romped with such abandon." And it showed at the box office -- the #4 film for 1942.

Another bright feature of this film is the ghost of Aunt Lucy, played by Bob Hope. And then there's the usual question of who will win the heart of Dorothy Lamour...and that's always a given...but it's cleverly done here, all mixed up with prophecies. And then there are the nodding heads...a funny bit. And the segment where Quinn is hosting a rival desert sheikh, which Hope and Crosby turn into a shambles.

I always hate to say that any film is perfect, but this gets pretty close to comedy (and musical) perfection. Even the last scene is truly funny. To be honest, I can't think of anything to criticize in this film...except it would have been nice to have a visit from Jerry Colonna.

A comedy to be savored while you're dreaming about the dance of the seven veils!

Road to Zanzibar

My least favorite of the Road pictures
It had been a long time since I last watched this Road picture, and a few things caught my eye...and not for the positive. First, this may be a comedy, but part of its premise is built on white sex slavery. Yes, that's actually true. It may all be a confidence scheme, but nevertheless part of the picture is based on Black men buying white women at an auction. The second thing that caught my eye was that there are no good Hope-Crosby musical numbers here. No "Captain Custard", for example. And third, it seemed to me that this film sort of dragged on aimlessly during the second half and never quite got off the ground.

Don't get me wrong. There's plenty that's funny here, not the least of which is the carnival scam at the beginning of the film, and the gorilla wrestling match with Bob Hope. And there is a different sort of role here for Una Merkel that's interesting. And Bing's song "It's Only You" is a very nice ballad. But I tend to agree more with the Variety review which said, in part, "The story framework is pretty flimsy foundation for hanging the series of comedy and thrill situations concocted for the pair. It's a fluffy and inconsequential tale...Comedy episodes generally lack sparkle and tempo of 'Singapore'...."

But, it's still a decent comedy pic, and one that any fan of Hope or Crosby will probably enjoy. And, it was in the top ten grossing films of 1941. But it's still probably my least favorite Road picture.

The Happy Sad

I guess my first question about this film is -- couldn't they afford any air conditioning? Why was everyone sweating all the time?

About the only good news here is the acting of one of the principal gay characters -- the one played by Charlie Barnett. Barnett, who is gay in real life, has an uncanny knack for seeming very real in his characterizations. I've watched him in several things lately, and have been impressed. Although here, that ability to act "real" began to falter midway through the film. He has...but back then he should have worked on his acne and dental issues. Didn't they have makeup men for this film?

His partner in the film is played by Leroy McClain. I'm a little undecided here. Let's say he shows promise.

I can't say the same for any of the others in the film, but I want to single out for a grade of F the actor Cameron Scoggins. The acting was "okay", but to give this person a singing role? Let's put it this way, it made me glad I sometimes have to wear hearing aids because I could take them out when he started singing.

As far as the plot...well, it's okay. Sort of. One straight couple (at least they thought they were straight) get into the whole sexual fluidity thing, and the gay couple try an open relationship. Meh. You'll get bored. But I guess we can say that this is one of the few (if any) films where a never-seen character has to have both arms amputated. I guess that says a lot about this picture.

Tales of the City

Lots of flaws, but overall nicely done
The problem with some of the reviews here is that they are written only from the perspective of people who either read the books or watched the earlier mini-series (several of them). I came to this mini-series with an open mind, and -- for the most part -- I enjoyed the more modern perspective on San Francisco.

That's not to say there weren't problems. The first two or three episodes were a little slow, but I have to admit that they did some good character development there before they got into the heart of the plot. Early on I wondered if this story was actually going anywhere And, there were times I felt like something had been left out. When I would sit down another night for a new episode. I would have to go back to the previous episode, feeling that I had missed something. I guess I must have missed how Victor Garber's character went from bad guy to good guy. The ultimate bad guy...or in this case bad girl...well, that was an awful stretch. And what ever happened to Anna's lover? That was sort of a dead end.

But to me this mini-series had a lot of strengths. Not the least of which was that after the climax in the last episode, it didn't just end. There was some closure on what was happening with a number of the characters, and it would have disappointed me if they had not done that.

There was also more diversity here in terms of ethnicity, although I agree with a few other posters about the brother-sister weird Asian couple (that was dumb).

In terms of the acting, at age 88, Olympia Dukakis was just outstanding. What a wonderful characterization! Ellen Page...hmmm...I wanted to like her, but sometimes found her sorta flat in some scenes, not so much in others...perhaps I would have liked her characterization more if she hadn't worn the stupid hat virtually 100% of the time. I wasn't familiar with Murray Bartlett, but I enjoyed his characterization. And I really liked Charlie Barnett here! Garcia shows some promise. But Zosia of the worst acting jobs I've ever seen on television or in a film. Dickie Hearts -- what a sweetie...hope we see more of him. Victor interesting and somewhat confusing role, but I was glad to see him's been a while.Jen RIchards' role as the young Anna Madrigal was top notch, and she's actually trans in real life.

Overall, I liked this production. But I just have one question -- is everyone in San Francisco just a little "unique"?


Surprisingly good
I decided to watch a few minutes of this film simply to see Tommy Lee Jones, whom I begrudgingly like as an actor. Instead, I watched the film all the way through because how to treat Japan after World War II has always been a topic that was difficult for me to reconcile.

The one criticism of the film is that I'm old enough -- barely -- to remember General Douglas MacArthur, and while I liked Tommy Lee Jones in the film, he was playing Tommy Lee Jones, not Douglas MacArthur.

What made the film successful in my view -- although it was not a critical or financial success -- were the two stories that were parallel in the film: the decision on how to treat Emperor Hirohito (retain or hang for war crimes), while the man perhaps most responsible for the decision -- relived in flashbacks his romance with a Japanese woman before the war (and incidentally, that man -- General Bonner Fellers -- was real). The film without the two stories would have been uninteresting to me.

The power of the film is demonstrated by this film. Bonner Fellers comes off as a really good guy, while in real life he later became a member of the John Birch Society.

Matthew Fox is excellent as Fellers.

So in my view, this is a very good film, despite Tommy Lee Jones looking and sounding nothing like MacArthur. But if you're younger than me (and you almost certainly are, that probably won't matter.

Candy Jar

Latimore shines
In general I find Netflix movies to be very hit-or-miss. And to a degree, parts of this movie are hit-or-miss, as well. But there are some good reasons to watch this Netflix film.

First and foremost, the two leads. I'd never been truly aware of Jacob Latimore before, although I see that he is a rapper and actor that is getting around a bit. He's excellent here. I think we're going to be seeing a lot more from this young man. Similarly, I was not familiar with Sami Gayle. Didn't know about her, but her performance was right on target, as well.

I was a lot less impressed with the actresses who played their mothers, but -- at least in the case of one -- I wasn't sure if it was the problem of the actress, or the problem of the director. The performance by Uzo Aduba as Latimore's mother...something just off about it. And the performance by Christina Hendricks as Gayle's mother...well, I didn't care for that, either. In both cases, I can't tell you why...I just know that they didn't fit in with the characters of the college-bound kids.

There were two other problems here. First, Helen Hunt played a counselor here, and midway through the film she dies. Okay. Part of life. But then her character just disappears without any referral back to her later in the film. And because of the purpose of her role, it should have been referred back to later in the film. This was a missed opportunity.

And then there's the way the film ends. The universities they actually get into. Illogical, unlikely, a tried-to-be-clever ending right out of the blue.

However, it's an entertaining LITTLE film. I'll look for some more film work with Latimore. I think he's got what it takes in Hollywood.

The Young Stranger

I have good news and bad news
Interesting to red the other reviews of this film,most of which see this movie as wonderful or awful, with little room in between. But that's what I'll give it: an in-between "7".

The bad news is that this film suffers from the same fate as almost every other film that tries to explore troubled teens: adult film-makers simply can't tell that kind of story. It seems to almost always come across as hokey, as it does here.

The better news here is that there is some good acting. James MacArthur made the best of the situation. I wasn't much younger than him, and I remember really liking him on television and in movies.

I had long since forgotten about actor James Daly, who plays the father here. What came back to me was remembering that it seemed as if he always played very serious to sour roles, as he does here. But he was good at it.

Kim Hunter was not at her best here. Her acting seems a bit awkward.

I wonder: did James Gregory ever play any different character? Or did he just always play himself? Nevertheless, he was entertaining in his own way.

I always thought of Whit Bissell as one of the really good, later character actors.

The last little disappointment in this film is the ending. While the film was awkward, the ending wrapped up way too neatly and quickly. And that perhaps is the film's worst mistake. Here, the dialog between father and son should have been extended a bit. A friendly punch in the should just didn't do the trick.

Still, I'm glad I watched it. Once.

Red Canyon

Great cast, even greater scenery, but otherwise average (though not typical) movie
There are two things outstanding about this film.

First, it has exceptional cast for a Western produced by Universal Pictures. Ann Blyth as the female lead, Howard Duff as the male lead, George Brent as Blyth's father, Edgar Buchanan as...well Edgar Buchannan, John McIntire as the bad father of Duff, Chill Wills as...well Chill Wills, Jane Darwell as Blyth's aunt, and Lloyd Bridges as the bad brother of Duff. Really, that's quite a cast.

Second is the scenery. It was filmed in Utah in places such as Kanab Canyon, Paria, and Bryce Canyon. And, at least with the print shown on one of the premium cable channels, the film was crisp and colorful. In fact, it was gorgeous.

Now, back to the cast. Blyth was good here, and it's clear she could ride horses...not that she did all of the riding herself. Duff, whom I mostly remember later as a television actor, was also good here. I couldn't help but wonder why he didn't do better in his long career. The sad part was that of George Brent. He's quite a bit older here than his glory days with Bette Davis, and he has little dialog. Sad, really; he was a fine actor.

Now, as to the story. Well, not quite stereotypical, it's about a wild stallion (Black Velvet) who eludes being caught by Duff, but succumbs to being caught (and ridden) by Blythe. And it is a beautiful horse! Duff, meanwhile, is the good son of a bad man and bad family, and -- of course -- falls in love with Blythe.

It's not one of the "great" Westerns. But this is pretty good and worth watching if Westerns attract your attention.

Note to Self

Took me a while to decide
This film made me think. Not so much about the content. But about the film and the acting. It took me a while to decide whether the star --Christian Keyes -- was a good actor or not. Sometimes the cadence of his talk results in missing a few words. But in the end I decided that -- at least in this film -- he was pretty decent. Believable. I haven't seen him in anything else.

It also took me a while to decide about the film itself. There were moments that were very dramatic and even profound, and other moments that were a bit on the silly side. But the plot -- and it wraps up well -- was important because it taught a good lesson about the importance of being an honorable (though not perfect) man as one moves toward adulthood.

If there's a point in the plot that caused some problems for me it's that Keyes' character was too good...too close to being perfect. I don't know any people that good. But, something to aim for.

I was particularly touched by the character's relationship with his mother. Quite moving.

My understanding is that Keyes is VERY religious in real life. If this film had taken a religious turn, I wouldn't like it. But instead it taught moral lessons through the story. Well worth a watch.

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