DKosty123

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Perry Mason: The Case of the Killer Kiss
(1993)

A Accidental Prediction Of The Future
This is it, the last time Raymond Burr would play Perry Mason. By now all the details of his fate were in plae pretty much. In a way, it is great that a soap opera is used as the backdrop for the murder. Soaps were already in a major state of decline by 1993 and a murder at one seems to quite fit Raymond Burr's last effort.

Raymond Burr was the perfect choice to play Mason. It is hard to believe that when the original series was casting, he actually was being considered for the District Attorney role. He had played a defense lawyer in the 1956 noir Pleas Murder Me where he gets Angela Lansbury found innocent of a murder, she did commit. That is when he first uttered the words - "No Questions" on the screen.

In this last one, he has several people working against him while defending a young woman he knows very well. As usual she has been framed. With Della and Sgt. Brock on hand it pretty much fits the formula for most of the Perry Mason movies. It takes a lot of leg work to uncover the blackmail scheme that really is the motive for murder.

Overall, a very satisfactory last movie for an actor who did a lot more work in movies than I realized prior to the tv role. While most of his movies were forgettable the original tv series and Ironside and these last movies prove over and over again the great actor he really was. There. Really has not been a Perry Mason since Raymond Burr died, and there may never be another.

Faith Hill: The Lights Go Down
(2002)

Great Music From Faith Hill & Band
Watching this on DVD is a pleasure to the ears and the music is fantastic. There are only bits of Biography Information about Faith. One of the things not surprising is that she started singing in Church as a child. A lot of singers get their start that way. She talks about going to an Elvis concert when she was 8 years old inspiring her and this makes perfect sense. Elvis started singing in Church way back too.

The DVD contains some extra music and backstage materials. All of it is excellent. Carlos Santana makes an appearance on 1 song and Faith has a conversation with Carlos. Santana There is a bonus track in a way featuring the original orchestra backing Faith up doing the theme song from the movie Peral Harbor. There's lots of her music here.

The nice thing is at age 35 Faith Hill is doing music here when she is at the top of her career. She looks great and there are a few very quick glimpses of her children. There are quick takes on the members of her back-up band and they all get to do some outstanding rips and or back up singing.

Make no mistake about it, Faith is the star of this show. She looks as great as she sounds. It is hard to believe it has been 20 years since this came out and her kids are all grown up now. Her music has matured here 20 years ago. She claims she does not dance, though her vocals dance into the air with the greatest of ease. I could look and listen to it all night long. 20 years ago, I could have done more too.

Guilty of Treason
(1950)

Story That Reminds Me Russia Has Not Changed
With the exceptions of Bonita and John Banner most of this cast was largely unknown to me. I have seen some of Charles Bickford work, and being the Cardinal accused of treason here, his work is excellent.

This is Iron Curtain Budapest after the war. The story centers around the Cardinal and an American Journalist whose stationed there, both of who are concerned with the Russian Occupation of the country. The main issues that come up are how surviving the war and Russia's Liberation are central themes to all characters and how Stalin occupation is becoming more and more like the Nazi Occupation was. In fact, the theme at the end that is most prevalent is

Heil Hitler Heil Stalin

As this movie ends hammering home these themes, it is very current in the news. John Banner is excellent in a serious supporting role which is not a reminder of Stalag 13. Still, when watching this film as it goes through how Stalin's forces are basically squashing opposition, it is indeed a training film that helps one understand the current crisis in Ukraine better. In fact, just add this to make it current -

Heil Putin

Now that CNN has reported the reopening of the distant camps in Russia Stalin used to send people to make them disappear, this film based upon a true story is haunting in it's accuracy.

Highway Dragnet
(1954)

Surprising Well Done Noir
Roger Corman the Producer wrote the story for this one. It's a good story that does twist in a direction that the viewer can not anticipate. They do drop a hint or 2 as it goes along but this ride is a pretty solid film for a budget B film. Seems the more films I watch from the mid 1950's, the more films I find that are good stories.

The opening scenes of this film with old Las Vegas and the Apache Hotel are priceless to folks who remember that era when Bugsy and the mob ruled the strip. This film title threw me because when I see the word Dragnet, I think of Jack Webb tv series. This film is far away from it.

An aged showgirl, who used to be a model, is murdered on the strip. An ex-marine who was with her in the Casino is pinned for the murder by a Native American Vegas detective. The evidence is all set up to frame him but who done it? Richard Conte is excellent in a sort of role like the Fugitive on TV. The police keep trying to close in but he enlists the help of 2 women to help him escape several times. Only the women aren't quite what they seem to be when he meets them on the road.

What impresses me for low budget is the quality of the script and the quality of the cast as everyone seems to fit their roles well. The main thing is the plot makes sense as it runs through but am surprised that the cast did not roast to death shooting this. This is Hollywood magic. The beating the cars take is pretty amazing too. Conte works out to be a pretty good roadside mechanic who fixes cars and his life in the process.

I Can See Your Voice
(2020)

Seein Is Believin
Dear Dr. Ken,

While we like the show, there are not quite enough twists to it. To spice it up, it might help to

1 - put some comedians on the panel. The people who are there are way too serious when they should be having fun with this.

2- Create some different characters to have fun with singing. I am not sure about having a singer called "The Terrorist", but then again if you put a paper bag over one of their heads and call them the "Unknown Voice" maybe you can sell something.

3- Get rid of the Golden Mike. This seems to be a useless way to plug a cameo by a celebrity, but comes off flat.

4- Recent show had only 1 good singer. That was pretty cool, and almost a shut out. Maybe a show with all bad singers will prove if a contestant has the need for greed?

5- Don't forget the celebrity doing the duet at the end could also be a bad singer which could throw everything off?

This show is a lot of fun, and works because of RX Dr. Ken. Quite frankly, spotting bad voice's can be pretty fun. I think Putin has a bad voice, along with Kim what's his name, and mumbling Joe. There we have a real mess we have gotten into. This program is more fun than that.

211
(2018)

Predictable Action Film
While the cast members are appealing, the setting and the film are very predictable. There seems to be a few things among the missing like-

Characters that have some depth. Everyone here is a card board cut out and difficult to relate with.

Interpol Agent who seems almost deleted on the final cut. This agent really seems to find their stuff coming in from out of the blue without a clue finding clues.

Ride along who you know is going to be a hero and though you root for them, trying to understand how they are so patient sitting in an suv for hours on end to get rescued?

Bank Robbers who go to the one bank named by a rich guy they kill when they could have gone to any bank, why?

Best dialog in the film- Cage talking to their ride along about school bullies which almost gets you involved.

Worst things about film- the pauses between the action, and the way it goes from day to night in like seconds. The strange powering up of a cell phone using a 9 volt battery. The way characters just pop into sequences from out of nowhere.

While the action is predictable the good thing is it makes the film move along. Another good thing, it is around 90 minutes long and in this case, the shorter is better. Problem is that the final cut appears choppy like maybe the best parts of the film never get into the movie. We wuz robbed?

De la part des copains
(1970)

Uneven Production Harms This Film
Produced in France, this movie was first released in France, and then gradually in other countries finally reaching the United States in 1974.

The Commodore muscle car is unique, Bronson, Liv Ullman, James Mason, and Jill Ireland head up a pretty good cast. With Terrance Young directing, there is a lot of promise here. Unfortunately the film does not add up to the sum of it's parts.

The action and continuity are the problems, strange for an action director like Young who did some of the better Bond films. There are scenes where someone is shown holding a gun with 2 hands and then suddenly holding the gun in one hand and a brief case in the other with no logical explanation. There are hostage situations which make no sense at all.

Finally, every scene without action seems to drag. It's not the casts fault, and the novel this is based upon has got to be better than this film adaptation is. The nice thing is that the scenery is pretty good in Southern France. Other than that, any Bronson fan should be dismayed with the results. Even the Bastille Day Fireworks at the end can't save this one from being mediocre at best, and technically incompetent at it's worst.

The Great
(2020)

Wildly Inaccurate History of Script wasting Talent
I do not understand why I'd take a great cast and good production values and sets, and then just misuse the scripts by ignoring real history. The real History has Peter leaving Russia and then being murdered immediately by Catherine upon return. There is a bunch of nonsense here with Peter coming back and being under house arrest and acting like a clown.

The real story is Catherine taking over the country and having a major affair with the General of the Armies. Now, if your really worried about keeping the actor playing Peter employed, why not recast him as the General having the affair with Catherine? It would align much better with the real story.

There are characters here are named and based upon real people, but the trouble is most of them are not living the way the real people did. While I guess you could call this comedy, it is easier to look at it as tragic. We have Catherine getting pregnant, supposedly Peter's child, while she has her own male stud who supposedly can't make her conceive due to a physical condition that I doubt would have been widely known about at this time in history? Call in Maury Povich and a DNA test to prove whose child this tyke really is? Huzzah !

Meanwhile, we have Peter the Greats son being written into the script and living on and on when he really died. Then we have to believe that Catherine has sympathy for him? The real Catherine and Peter The Great are both spinning in their graves.

The acting here reminds on of a cultured PBS series but the scripts have gone off the axis not just of good taste, but they do not even taste good. The only reason I do not mark this down more is at least Catherine finally does deliver her 2 season baby. She is a hot looking actress so if there is a season 3, it will be nice to see her natural curves back at last. She is a good actress.

For season 3, kill Peter, please. The real Catherine knew better than to even let him come back into Russia. It is an insult that he is still alive, much less he has been a stupid jerk the entire 2 seasons. Granted the actor playing the General really is too old for a young woman like Catherine, so I doubt he was cast properly either. He is a good actor but unfortunately unless we redo the series from season 1, the real affair and story will never see the light of day. That is a shame, as the real story would be much better than the farce.

I do credit some excellent acting by the woman playing Peter's mistress. It takes a lot to make me believe any woman would service a fool, but she makes it believable. At least she seems to wake up by season 2 and cuts off the affair with a man who should be dead. Too bad the scripts are wasting such talent as this could have been a great show. It's just not.

Criss Cross
(1949)

Not Quite What I Expected
I really expected with the loaded cast this would be a better film. To me it has aged badly. It's not bad, but in the film noir category, films like The Glass Key hold up better than this one.

It doesn't help that the story of a guy on the inside of an employer, an armored car company, has been done so many times in film that now the plot seems a bit trite. The cast does bring this off better than the average film. It's just that the sets look old, even when the film was made.

The Big Clock
(1948)

More than Just A Drama Noir
Kenneth Fear who wrote the novel wrote "No Way Out" and a lot of other suspense works. To simply say the plot here is a boss gets upset with his mistress (secretary) and kills her would really be selling this movie way too short. Besides being one of the better films in Noir, this film is not credited with being an exceptional "dark comedy." I think this has to do with Jonathan Latimer writing the script. Latimer wrote a lot of excellent tv and films including Topper Returns and The Glass Key. Because of this background, he was able to make this noir script a genius with some great touches.

The cast is great too. Ray Milland's George Stroud is amazing and is a great counter-balance to Charles Laughton's Earl Janeth. Maureen O'Sullivan's Georgette Stroud gets kind of overshadowed at times because there is so much going on. There is only so much screen time and the mistress whose killed hogs some of it very well before her death. It's kind of funny that George spends so much time with her, yet Georgette hardly bats an eye lash when she finds out George was with her.

The comic element here is that after Earl murders Pauline the chase he starts to find the man who was in her apartment prior to his killing her is one of the great masterworks of dark comedy ever put into a noir film. It becomes comical all the times George ducks witnesses who saw him the night she was murdered. Even George gets a subtle jab in before she is killed - Pauline York : You know, Earl has a passion for obscurity. He won't even have his biography in 'Who's Who'.

George Stroud : Sure. He doesn't want to let his left hand know whose pocket the right one is picking.

Milland delivers this line so dramatically, the humor is not noticed unless you turn on the captions and look for it. During the chase where George is being chased by everyone thinking he is the killer, there are some really dark comedy classic line that makes this one look pale. Yet the elements are here in what is basically a great film on many levels.

Granted the technology is dated, but the script and the cast so good, and Rita Johnson (Pauline) even has some movies that were the type of comedy that is snuck into this one.

This film does start off with a sequence late in the film and then rewinds to the beginning. Usually I find this annoying, but in this one so much happens that it is not a problem. Do not let the title or the category fool you, this film is a classic dark comedy too.

Phantom Lady
(1944)

Despite Plot Holes Cast Brings It Off
Here is a noir with murders galore and the wrong man arrested for one of them. Yes, this is the old boss getting in trouble and the secretary in love with him getting him off, but it is different. The reason it is different is that we have a couple of twists along the way, some which make sense, and some which do not.

The police investigation into the murder after it happens is extremely poorly conducted. It seems they decide the husband is guilty until proven innocent and there are more holes in the railroading he gets than in a stale piece of swiss cheese. The actual phantom lady is a piece of mental work.

The biggest hole of all is when the wife is killed, the police detectives never wonder where her purse is. At the end of the movie, we find out the murderer has it. Any half-baked investigator would have wondered why the wife's purse was missing. Especially when the husband does not have it.

It is a good film to understand that a noir can be made well, with a feel good ending, but can have many flaws in the process.

The Glass Key
(1942)

A Case To Be Made
Veronica Lake and Alan Ladd in another 1942 film, with a Dashiell Hammett script and a Latimer screen play. This noir is good, but with this writing talent it is not as good as the players due to a few small issues with the script. It is just not the same as This Gun For Hire. This is not because Robert Preston is missing.

It is because the writing just does not measure up to the other. As Latimer did lots of good screen plays including over 30 episodes of Perry Mason and more, this is a surprise. I keep thinking as I watch this that maybe Jonathan Latimer should have read the Hammett novel a little better. The script shows a lack of understanding of the characters to an extent.

While this one is a little static, it is worthwhile for a quick look. The film is fairly short and that works in it's favor. I did enjoy this little noir.

This Gun for Hire
(1942)

Good Noir -Great Cast
This film is very good even though it is a bit dated now. The theme of the war and the sale of a secret weapon to our enemies is rather worn but serviceable as it makes the film go. The direction is brisk and the budget was almost certainly razor thin. Still the script is better than average and the cast is outstanding.

In a way, Robert Preston is nearly wasted here. While getting top billing with Veronica Lake was great, the character he plays in this one is the dull good guy who is almost always working from behind on this case until the very end when he catches up at last on what is going on. While he gets solid lines I think he doesn't get enough chance to act here. Veronica is his girl but she is on a slender thread.

Lake has some neat sequences here doing 2 different musical night club acts including one with magic. She nearly gets killed and has to crawl through a drain late in the film and comes out looking great no matter what she has to do. Quite amazing really.

Alan Ladd is fantastic as the Raven who just seems to get led around by the action and gets all the best script. His reactions and escapes remind me a bit of Carey Grant in North By Northwest, though this film is much more basic and less intriguing. He does get the best lines and chances to act in this one. What shows here is he can play the bad guy better than he plays good guy Shane.

Laird Cregar, not remembered by many has one of his best screen roles here. The film has more levels than the average noir. Very worthwhile viewing.

The Undead
(1957)

Smokin Devil Himself
If you have ever watched some early silent films and later some sound films with stories about the devil. The first example I can think of is Cabin in the Sky but there were quite a few early silent films with the devil in this type of role. Roger Corman is kind of sneaky here in that this movie is a tung in cheek send up of those type of films.

Cabin in the Sky is a musical which is really a fine film, so do not get me wrong. This one week wonder has nothing to compare quality wise. That one also has something this one lacks -God. Corman is after portraying the devil here and considering how he is presented, he looks like h*ll.

The highlight of a film with many low lights is Smokin Mel, the grave digger. He spouts off some pretty neat and dark humored prose. As for the plot, a modern shrink has a woman client who has dreams and he probes into her mind to find out in a past life she was falsely accused of being a witch. Then he goes back to visit her past self and encounters a real witch whose there and the devil. Meanwhile, he has to decide if he wants to save his patient's future or let her go to the devil. Meanwhile, his wife goes to visit Stephen Douglas but that comes long after this.

It has ties to many other horror movies but is kind of like the family relative no one wants to come to visit.

Woman in the Dark
(1934)

The Big Gorilla Let Down
What happens after you date a big money? Fay Wray was a very busy actress after King Kong as well as during. This is not when of her best efforts, yet it's not her fault. Trading Kong for Ralph Bellamy and Melvin Douglas in a triangle is a big let down. Not their fault though and here is why Dashiell Hammett who wrote The Thin Man sometimes just does not understand romance the way this one is scripted.

A woman whose forced into a relationship with a Con man falls in love with another whose an ex-con in one night? I guess that is supposed to be different but it seems cliche. The sets look beat and dark but this is the Brooklyn Studio Biograph and the brown stone building does nothing to add to the scenery. Even A Face In The Crowd and Car 54 were nothing scenic, but Fred Gwynn did get a prep for Herman Munster here. As for Andy, his acting over came the studio background along with a great script. Louise Loring is sexy, thanks Fay.

Granville Bates as Sherriff Grant has the pity role as one of the worst lawmen in the history of films. It appears that Grant was responsible for sending Bradley (Bellamy) to jail because of his daughter Helen Grant (O'day) in the first place. Then in this movie he keeps taking late night calls from a con Robson (Douglas) and takes everything a criminal tells him as the truth. This has got to be much different than what Hammett wrote and that I blame on the script writer (Cowan).

Bellamy is not the traditional romantic lead, but he does okay here with the material he is given. Not the worst film ever, just a good cast, limited studio, and script that needed a rewrite here are the weaknesses.

Dune: Part One
(2021)

Sand People
Here is a serious attempt to do a Science Fiction drama which after so many of the Star Wars Popcorn films is refreshing. It is a remake, but Dune deserves remaking and frankly it might still fall short of the novel. Regardless it is the link that fills in the back ground to Star Wars episode 4 reference to the Sand People.

One of the things I thought was nicely done was the way they snuck in the props of the galaxy far away so I could see they were there but they were kept as background. Money usually tempts film makers to try and harness another box office bonanza to make money for yourself too often.

The film keeps focused on the story. They avoid other traps like throwing in relationships which are usually not even in novels to try and spice things up, or put in some Hollywood plot device to try to sell tickets. Here we find the story of the sand people. Getting this done better should have been a goal all along and here it is. Avoided also is speeding up the story to get it in in the traditional 2 hours.

The story is set out dramatically at a pace which indeed is a bit slow, but allows the viewer time to make sense of the characters, and the atmosphere around them. I will not go into the details as it would be impossible to take enough space to describe all of it. Note this is part 1, and in this case I think you need to see this before part 2 comes out so it will make sense. I am hopeful part 2 will stick with this formula because as o b one said in Star Wars - "Sand People, gone for now but they will return in greater numbers."

Pig
(2021)

Not The Boneless Ham I Was Looking For
I am not really sure I can write any spoilers on this plot- a man whose live centers around his pig has it kidnapped by some people who are kinky about stealing pets? I guess that could be a spoiler of sorts.

I like Cage though this drama is not his typical film. He looks gruffy and speaks very little early in the film. Motive here for the pig kidnapping might just be a metaphor for something darker and sinister, I am not sure.

Maybe I could warm up to this, but the first viewing of it left me convinced that the pig has not yet been smoked. If your into off track drama, and quirky goings on this film is for you. If your into light moments of pig like Arnold Ziffel, this one is not what your looking for.

American Traitor: The Trial of Axis Sally
(2021)

Verdict Makes No Sense
This film spends a long time on background, and waits too late to bring the court hearings into it. Al Pacino does do an inspired closing, but the jury decision makes no sense in this context. I wish someone had bothered to go to the court records and pull out what the jury looked at to put it into the film to make sense.

Why would a jury disregard the fact that Axis Sally was scripted and spoke other persons word for 7 counts, but then find her guilty for doing the exact same thing on count number 8? That is the perplexing problem here. With what is presented, the verdict makes no sense. There's something missing that made the jury do that, but it's not in the film.

The sequencing is good, but does ramble going back and forth with Axis Sally's life, but at least when it goes back it says when and where it is going. The script does a poor job bringing the characters to life. The only salvation is in the closing credits when one of the real people in the film gets a chance to talk. I love the history here, but hate the way it is presented. There has got to be another way.

The cast is good, but they do not really get the material to work with.

The Comedian
(2016)

Flawed Senior Fantasy
Finally watched this and came away with a mixed up impression. The bad thing is the plot is predictable, an romance between a Senior Man and a Younger Woman with a one night stand resulting in a child. I could see that coming from the beginning of their meeting. That and the ending with their daughter being a "chip off the old block-head" has been done many times and actually happens in real life.

What is interesting is the evolution of Burke (DeNiro) as a Comedian who never seems to learn anything throughout the film to change other than to score a great one night stand. Leslie Mann as the younger woman is the best role of acting in this plot. She seems quite real in her being a woman driven in one direction who trips over Burke by accident and then decides to have a fling because she wants to and has desires that she has kept bottled up until then.

Burke is a comic who just misses making it big all the time. The only target hit hits a bullseye on is her(Mann). The writers here tried to go somewhere between Lenny Bruce and Robin Williams with Berke's character, but missed both directions. The romance story holds the mess together by a thread.

Highlights of the film are the Comedy Club segments with all the comics doing bits and they really got a lot of the major ones in this era. It is an era, because since this came out Leachman and Grodin have already left us. Billy Crystal's bit on the elevator makes him look very old and the ride isn't very rewarding. Danny Devito plays a character like Louie De Palma on Taxi except he is henpecked to the point of exhaustion. He helps Burke but then catches heck for it. The difference here is Devito does not anyone to insult except Burke. Kind of boring in that way.

There is enough here that the film is not a total waste. JJ Walker and Hannibal Buress and many of the other bits are very good. I never understand why but the blonde that was Grace Under Fire on tv is always attractive to me. This makes no sense but I do enjoy her comedy. Her real life from what I have read is quite tragic. This often happens with Comedians which makes it so sad when they often burn out too soon.

All in all, when I sum this up, I feel this just misses because with all the comedy bits, only DeNiro and Dunn's characters get developed anywhere near properly. A lot of the other support folks like her dad are just card board cut outs which are not worked well into a so-so script. If there exists outtakes of all the comedy club segments along with the ones in the movie, they should be put together as it would present a good history of stand-up in 2016.

Adele: One Night Only
(2021)

Grand Presentation Of Adele
From California a stunning concert with Adele presenting her greatest songs and some new ones from her latest release. Smartly done and the same Director who has worked on her videos before definitely benefits the presentation. CBS/HARPO combined putting this together and Oprah Interview Segments space the concert clips throughout.

What the interview segments reveal is some of the inspirations and personal feelings of Adele. There are also views about the inspiration behind the music. As for her life journey, she is in a way like everyone. She sets out her priorities in life and her wishes for her child. She is kind of like maybe she will have another one.

Adele expresses a dislike of aging and from life experience one thing she should know is have the next child sooner rather than later. Aging makes having a child more difficult for anyone and agreed is her view that aging is no fun.

The presentation in front of a celebrity audience in an outdoor venue which features a luma light presentation on the Observatory behind her which is magnificent. The Marriage Proposal at the show for a surprised woman is staged well. This gets done often in other venues, but here she seems really shocked and in awe of the front row presence she is brought into.

It is nice to see a California sunset on a nice hazy day in the background. While the glances at the Celebrity Audience are fine, the director is smart in not letting those famous mugs distract from the presentation working them into the fabric of the program. Music being done to support her and back=up singers are shown, and also kept to a minimum. The music is a 1 woman show.

The director does a fine job on the Interview segments with Oprah combining a great background enough with Adele and Oprah to make the visual quite enjoyable. This might even be nicer if it comes out with un-aired footage someplace and without the advertising which does get in the way of continuity at times. The ads are the reason I will not go to the highest rating here.

Adele is kind of like The Masters in Golf is to music. The presentation might have been smoother if all the ads were around it instead of interrupting it. However, a dollar is always a dollar and lots of them were spent here and it shows. As far as I am concerned, Adele is a priceless musical treasure. When you encounter one of these, your mouth should open in awe of what your ears experience, and be overpowered.

Climax!: Casino Royale
(1954)
Episode 3, Season 1

Only First Time James Bond Was Ever Live On TV
Here we have a piece of television history from live series Climax on American Television. 1954 was the era where American TV was done live and this is considered by many a film now, but it is easy to tell it was done live. There are a few muffs on some sound portions of it, and the feeling of this kinescope is stage which it should be. Live TV was a unique stage for American television. Back when this was done, most tv was basing their teleplays on novels and good writers. Ian Fleming's novel has nothing to be ashamed of here.

Granted Barry Nelson the first Bond is American, and has no accent, he is doing this live with no editing for goofs. The start of this live Bond is very interesting in that the very first scene is Bond being shot at. So in the very first live Bond, they are already trying to kill him. As for the first Bond Girl, Linda Christian is part Mexican and did something in real life every Bond girl would have liked to do - marry Tyrone Power and have 2 children by him. Her acting name Christian came from Power renaming her after his screen character Fletcher Christian.

The real gift here is seeing Peter Lorre doing a live Bond adversary. You can tell some of the sound issues in one scene as Lorre is speaking but only the last half of his lines are audible due to a sound malfunction. As this show is part of the live tv assembly line you can understand why it is only 50 minutes (got to have those commercial breaks) and why the action is limited throughout.

Most impressive things to watch for is the casino card game sequence which is well staged and rarely done live on tv back then (this is not the gambling channel on modern tv and most of the time those broadcasts with exceptions are not live), Bonds first screen kiss with Mrs. Tyrone Power (not a bad start James), and how they manage to stage live fighting scenes. There is a concession to being live in that not seen is the scenes where the actors are actually shot by the stage guns. They are done in another room.

A must mention here is Michael Pate as Clarence Leiter. Blimey, he is an actor from down under and is quite impressive in his role here. Pate played a lot of character actors roles in films and tv. His roles varied widely but he always seems to know how to play a role. While the first name here is a bit odd, his acting fits his role very well. You can find his work elsewhere to see the variety of roles and he did a lot of television as well. He did a fair amount of live acting on tv in the 1950's and that might explain why he appears very much at ease on screen here.

While we do not have the stunt work and locales of later Bond films, for a live television presentation this is very good. Having Ian Fleming's material really helps. If your into watching live tv from this era besides checking this out, Rod Serling's Kraft Theater script of Patterns done live on Kraft Theater in early 1955 is one I would highly recommend. Several of the live shows done in this era were redone as good movies later. Casino Royale is one that has been done twice with David Niven and Roger Craig as 007. While the films seem like distant relatives to this live presentation, this first Bond is very much worth investing 50 minutes and is on You Tube Currently.

UHF
(1989)

Satire Not Aging Well
Weird Al was a fun guy, whose does have a lot of fun here. Like an episode of Saturday Night Live, the film has some moments of satire that are pretty good. This film sort of stars a pre-Kramer Michael Richards along with Al. There are lots of other people here but the premise is really aging.

VHF and UHF were the 2 types of broadcasts television before todays digital age. VHF was always the stronger signal while UHF was often a snowy type of quality of picture. So the VHF channels always dominated ratings and networks in most areas. UHF. Would be the one that was on the fringe for viewers. This explains some of the humor of the main story. It's the underdog taking over from the big bad network.

For the first part of the movie, Al's UHF channel is languishing against the big bad network. Al seems to be at a creative dead end. Then he walks off the set (al a Dan Rather at CBS News once) in the middle of his show and hands it to his janitor (Richards). It's like handing off to a star and suddenly the janitor makes the UHF station number 1 in the ratings.

The movie utilizes Richards physical comedy better than his verbal as this is a younger Richards and even weird Al is not the writer Larry David would be later when Richards verbal comedy timing would turn on fire.

There are moments though and plenty of parodies of movies and tv from the 1960's to 1980's to be had here. Some of them hit the funny bone mark still, a lot of them miss depending on the audience.

One thing neat about this film as no where near the amount of sexual humor that others later came to rely on. It's more about fun situations some of which might be considered almost politically incorrect now. Though there is enough humor to make this a pleasant experience, the longer we get into an age without UHF and VHF and the more into a streaming world of large screen tv we are getting, the more aged the humor of this film gets.

Some films age like a fine wine while others lose their edge and turn to vinegar. There are a few sections of fine wine here, but the cork has been off this bottle too long for it to hit on all the gags that are thrown machine gun style at the viewer. At least it is a no holds bar poke at tv broadcasting the way it used to be, without the political restrictions that are now a part of SNL.

The Satan Bug
(1965)

Good Cast Looking For Purpose
With Covid-19 going on today, the plot here almost resembles it, but it does not. Granted there is a deadly flu like bug, and it is stolen from a lab, and it kills some people when it gets loose. There are really some problems though.

First there seems to be an effort at extortion by the thief stealing the bug. Trouble is there never seems to be a reason for the extortion that appears to make any sense. It's like they steal the bug and decide to kill people, contact and warn everyone they are going to do it, but don't really seem to have any reason to contact and warn everybody.

While there is a lot of good character actors, few of them are given much script to even try to act with. George Maharis has lots of lines but few memorable ones. This is one of the few films where the leads get to act but have nothing to act with. The support get nothing to act with and folks like Frank Sutton, Ed Asner, and. Richard Basehart. Really suffer from this.

Then by coincidence is poor LA. Ironically LA County has had more Covid-19 deaths and cases than any county and 16 states. Here they get saved but sadly get little comfort from being saved. The film is too busy doing James Bond type helicopter stunts to make anyone care about LA.

This film wastes a lot of talent. Even Sturges direction seems to be lacking here as the sequencing is poorly laid out. Fun it is not, sad it is.

Red Light
(1949)

Raft Loses His Way
This noir is a lot of fun for fans of Harry Morgan, Raymond Burr, and Virginia Mayo. Granted George Raft dominates the film but the other folks get in their roles too. William Frawley of I Love Lucy fame even shows up in a bit role. This shows these actors in a younger era and it is a "B" film of the late 1940's.

So what get's it to 7 on my scale is that Raft actually does a little more acting than usual. He plays the usual tough guy, out to avenge his brother's murder. For once those, he listens to those folks around him and doesn't just go around killing people. In fact, everyone around him seems to be getting hurt and dying.

Burr is Nick, the bad guy who is in jail for cooking Raft's books. He is guilty as we find out, but gets out of jail anyhow and hires Morgan to get revenge by killing Raft's brother. Then there is the final straw, Mayo who strives to save Raft from himself. That despite Raft putting her off and then using her.

While this does not rise to anywhere near a classic film, it is a solid noir effort with lots of dark scenes as the tale twists itself to a conclusion.

No Time to Die
(2021)

A Lot For All Bond Fans To Enjoy
Because of a World Wide Pandemic which in some quarters has motives like the ruin the world, James Bond is back again trying to save the world. In order to do so he must deal with the old criminal organization Spectre and Blowfeld who has been the bad guys for many years it seems. The difference here is that they are really red herrings being used by a mad man who wants to kill a majority of the world's population using a high technology bug that is programmed to kill people by their DNA.

For the long time Bond fan, the biggest hint about the movie is before the opening credits. There is a long sequence where Bond tells the lovely woman he is with they have "all the time in the world". The theme from his Majesty's Secret Service runs through the film. It's closing credits even feature a great stereo remastering of Louis Armstrong doing the original theme from the George L (Bond) only film of the late 1960's.

One strange thing in the world of Bond. Years ago Blowfeld was totally bald. This many years later he has hair. Perhaps he saw those Bosley ads for getting rid of baldness in the years after. Lea Seydoux the second French actress to be a Bond Woman in the series and Madeline for the second straight film after Spectre is indeed a tough Bond woman with a gun. Ralph Fiennes continues his role from Spectre (2015) as M. Naomi Harris is in her second straight as Moneypenny though. She played Eve in Skyfall so this is her third straight Bond and along with Maude Adams has played 2 women characters in the series. This generations regulars are all here along with a portrait of one tough special Judi Dench portrait that appears in a hallway late in the film.

While the film keeps all the Fleming characters and the usual save the world plot, it is done freshly enough for even viewers not born yet when the series began to enjoy the action and the acting. Since Daniel Craig has been Bond the acting has gained more importance and balance with the action. It has been a welcome change. Each man who played Bond had different ways to do it and there were times that action and special effects took priority over acting. That has changed and is one of the strengths of this one.

While the film feels like nonstop action, there is some acting here too. The ending might come as a shock to long time Bond fans, but considering this series it is something which was done in more than 1 of the Bond Films in the beginning, only this time it appears to be done for good. Spoiler- the film also discloses that Bond and Madeline have a daughter now. This is the first actual recorded sibling of Bond though there were enough scenes over the years in Bond films to suggest an episode of Maury Povich doing DNA tests on some of the other ladies he had recreation with. Finally though, yes James, you are the father.

Scenery is still a big part of this and many filming locations were used in this one. This tradition has always been a part of the series. At the end it does say "Bond will return", but the feeling here is that the form of his return will be as a her. The set up very much looks that way. The Bond women are getting nicer curves, but that is nothing unusual. It is a concession to the times, and is welcome too. Women built thin like guys are not in style as much as years ago after so many young ladies starved themselves. Not enough of them tried to have the nice figure of Ursala Andress and we are finally making up for it.

Having lived long enough to remember the late Connery, Lazenby, late Moore, Dalton, Brosnan, late Niven, late Nelson, and Craig is a feat unto itself. Nelson's Climax TV episode live performance of 007 in 1954 led to all the others. It has been an amazing road. While the plots have changed and remained the same, Director Cary Joji Fukunaga does an amazing job making this film feel like it is supposed too. Armstrong at the end is a reminder of how much has changed since all this began. Louis, we've had all the time in the world to follow Bond every step of the way.

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