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Family Feud

I hardly watched FAMILY FEUD when Richard Dawson was the host, and I didn't watch it when Louie Anderson and Richard Karn had their turn.....
.....but I have been watching it because of Steve Harvey who has been doing a far better job as host. He is far funnier than the afore-mentioned hosts. The show does wander off into adult territory, but it's a whole lot of fun, and the looks on his face are a wonder to behold, especially when he gets pranked by whoever sets up the answers to be revealed by the ring of the bell. Some families are more cute than others, but they seem to be having a grand old time. And that's the goal of game shows like this one. Catch FAMILY FEUD and have some fun.

Rizzoli & Isles: See One, Do One, Teach One
Episode 1, Season 1

This episode launched the TNT series.....
....that lasted from 2010 to 2016 and boosted the careers of Angie Harmon (as Boston Police Department Detective Jane Rizzoli) and Sasha Alexander (as that lovable coroner Maura Isles). Rizzoli and Isles liaises with FBI agent Gabriel Dean as the serial killer Charles Hoyt (Michael Massee), known as the Surgeon, is currently behind bars. Yet there are a series of copycat murders. And the Surgeon manages an escape. And Jane's life is on the line. RIZZOLI AND ISLES also introduced the characters of Vince Korzak (Bruce McGill), Barry Frost (the late Lee Thompson Young), Jane's brother Frankie Rizzoli (Jordan Bridges), and their dear sweet mother Angela Rizzoli (Lorraine Branco). In the end, Jane gets the best of the Surgeon and his sidekick known as the Apprentice (Brendan McCarthy). This was a great series, and you can see it on StartTV. And there you have it. Now you know what to do.

The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell

If it had not been for Billy Mitchell.....
.....we would not have a United States Air Force and, by extension, a United States Space Force. And there would not have been a medium bomber aircraft known as the B-25 Mitchell that was used to devastating psychological effect when they were launched from the USS Hornet in 1942 under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle. But I digress. Gary Cooper takes center stage as the aforementioned airman of legend who is serving on active duty in 1921 as a brigadier general. He dares to claim that battleships can be sunk through aerial bombardment, and the Navy and Army tells him to,put his money where his mouth is, but under limited conditions. He snd his fellow fly boys must drop their bombs from an altitude of 5,000 feet and they must use 500-pound bombs. The target is a German battleship dubbed the "Ostfriedland". General Mitchell and his fly boys don't succeed the first time; they succeed the second time around by dropping 2,000-pound payloads at a height of one thousand feet, and it was against orders. Mitchell gets himself in hot water with General John Pershing (Herbert Heyes), is busted down to full bird colonel, and transferred to Fort Sam Houston, Texas. In 1923, Billy Mitchell tries to talk his close friend, U. S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Zachary Lansdowne, out of piloting the Navy dirigible "Shenandoah" to,Ohio on a publicity trip orchestrated by Congressional lawmakers, but Lansdowne goes off instead. The dirigible runs smack into a thunderstorm, which breaks it into three pieces at 7,000 feet and everybody on board dies. This is followed by a crash of six airplanes that were flying in from California to Fort Huachuca, Arizona; the airplanes were badly maintained because of a lack of funds. In 1925 Billy Mitchell dares to speak against Congress and the senior military leadership who have been neglecting the armed forces in general and the aircraft in particular, and the result is a court martial. The two prosecutors, Colonel Sherman Moreland (Fred Clark) and Major Allen Guillon (Rod Steiger), are determined to spike Billy Mitchell to the cross; defending him is United States Congressman Frank Reid (Ralph Bellamy) of Illinois who is a big fan of air power. During the court martial, Billy Mitchell predicts that the naval base at Pearl Harbor will be attacked by airplanes and that Japan will do the deed. In the end, Billy Mitchell was found guilty, and later resigned in 1926. Although Mitchell talked up air power, he could only do so as a civilian with hardly any influence on politicians and military leaders. He passed away in 1936, and was the recipient of a posthumous Congressional Gold Medal. He never did get his previous rank restored. Nowhere in this movie is there any mention that he'd been married twice, or that his first marriage ended in a divorce. Elizabeth Montgomery (BEWITCHED) made her film debut as Margaret Lansdowne, Zachary's widow. This is one of Otto Preminger's best movies, and certainly one of the best courtroom movies ever made. And that's a fact. You can see it on YouTube. Please do.

The Longest Day

Today marks the 78th anniversary of a military operation spearheaded by United States Army General Dwight David Eisenhower.....
.....and this year marks the 60th anniversary of the greatest World War II movie ever made, and it was produced by Darryl F. Zanuck who was shooting the works; his previous films as independent producer tanked at the box office. He hired Ken Annakin for the British and French scenes, Andrew Marton for the American scenes, and Bernhard Wicki for the German scenes. It would have been four directors but Gerd Oswald forgot that Darryl Zanuck was the sheriff in town and he was just one of the deputies. THE LONGEST DAY was based on the non-fiction bestselling book by Irish journalist Cornelius Ryan. It told the story of the Allied invasion that occurred on the morning of June 6, 1944 by American, British, Canadian, and Free French personnel at Normandy, located along France's western coastland. General Eisenhower (portrayed by set decorator Henry Grace in his only film appearance albeit uncredited) was on the horns of a dilemma. Should he order the Allied forces' invasion while the weather was at its worst in the last twenty years, or wait for much better conditions that would not come around until late July or early August. History says Eisenhower gave the go ahead. There are plenty of great scenes to be had. One of them is that of Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Vandervoort (played by John Wayne in a role originally intended for Charlton Heston) engaged in an intense conversation with Brigadier General James Gavin (Robert Ryan) concerning the dropping of Army paratroopers near the French town of Sainte-Mere-Eglise that happens to be surrounded by swampland and the troops are there to fight, not to swim. Well, due to a sudden gust of wind the paratroopers, including Private John Steele (Red Buttons), are shot out of the sky by the Wehrmacht as they descend in the middle of the night; Private Steele fakes his own death as he's suspended by parachute from a building, and the constant ringing of the bells render him deaf. The next morning Colonel Vandervoort and some of the other troops arrive at Sainte-Mere-Eglise, and the lieutenant colonel is extremely pissed from seeing the bodies of the paratroopers hanging all over the village, and an Army lieutenant (Stuart Whitman) can't apologize fast enough to save his life. But the Germans didn't have it any easier. Major General Gunther Blumentritt would like to have the Panzer tanks released to him so that they can be used to beat back the Allied troops, so to that end he requests Colonel General Alfred Jodl make a visit to Adolf Hitler in Berlin and make that happen, but Jodl doesn't want to bend his knee to that Austrian corporal. Well, Jodl arrives in Berlin, only to find out that Hitler went off on a tirade and took a sleeping pill with orders not to be disturbed. Blumentritt is incensed, of course. He has his orderly retrieve a bottle of cognac so that they can toast the inevitable Allied victory and the Fuhrer's stupidity, Then there's the French underground, including Janine Boitard (Irina Demich who was Zanuck's mattress mistress at the time), who derail a German train; for that scene, an actual train was derailed with eight cameras rolling. There's another great scene of a group of demolition engineers who have to blow a hole in a concrete wall after storming Normandy Beach, and one of the engineers is Sergeant John H. Fuller (Jeffrey Hunter) who gets a battlefield commission from Brigadier General Norman Cota (Robert Mitchum). You might enjoy this one scene of Army troops and German troops walking single file past each other along a concrete hedgerow! The Free French forces, under the leadership of Capitaine de Corvette Philippe Kieffer (Christian Marquand) succeed in liberating the coastal town of Ouistreham from the Germans, and both sides pause when a group of nuns show up to render medical aid. Two Luftwaffe pilots strafe the beachside before flying inland to sit out the rest of the war. THE LONGEST DAY was filmed on location in France, except for the Normandy scenes which were shot in Corsica. And it was filmed in black and white, so as to include wartime footage. This movie was colorized and re-issued in 1994 for the 50th anniversary of D-Day; if you have it, do yourself a favor and turn the colorization all the way down. Better yet, get rid of it. THE LONGEST DAY secured two Academy Awards, one for Best Cinematography (Jean Bourgoin and Walter Wottitz) and another for Best Special Effects Robert A. McDonald and Jacques Maumont). Some of the special effects were worked on by various uncredited experts, including Augie Lohmam, David Horsely, Alex Weldon, and Wally Veevers. Darryl Zanuck returned to 20th Century-Fox as chairman after having been in cinematic exile. THE LONGEST DAY was a huge box office hit, and was sometimes shown on TV during the 1960s and early 1970s with the German and French scenes filmed in English. Henry Fonda, Robert Ryan, and Hans Christian Blech were also in BATTLE OF THE BULGE (1965); in addition, Henry Fonda, Robert Ryan, Eddie Albert, Stuart Whitman, and Red Buttons co-starred with John Wayne in various films. Watching THE LONGEST DAY is a good way to remember D-Day. Thanking a World War II veteran is even better. Do it while you have a chance. Your soul will thank you. Enjoy this amazing movie.

Guns Don't Argue

This movie is one great big mixed bag.....
.....because even though there is plenty of tommy-gun action and suspense, there are goofs to be had. Even though the presentation takes place in 1934, there are automobiles from the late 1940s and early 1950s. It's a dead giveaway that this feature was made on an extremely low budget. FBI agents are in hot pursuit of real life gangsters Baby Face Nelson (played by Doug Wilson), John Dillinger (Myron Healey), Ma Barker (Jean Harvey turning in a good performance) and her brood Doc Barker (played by cowboy actor Lash La Rue of all people) and Fred Barker (Sam Edwards), and Baby Face Nelson (Robert Kendall). Then there's Bonnie Parker (Tamar Cooper) and Clyde Barrow (Baynes Barron) and let's not forget Alvin Ksrpis (played by Paul Dubov who was also a screenwriter and novelist). Jim Davis is also in it as Police Captain Stewart; he doubled as narrator. You can also spot Aline Towne (THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN; COMMANDO CODY: SKY MARSHAL OF THE UNIVERSE: RADAR MEN FROM THE MOON; GOG), Jeanne Bates as an FBI agent's wife, and Hank Patterson (GREEN ACRES) as a farmer named Scully Wass. GUNS DON'T ARGUE was made up of three episodes of GANGBUSTERS which hit the airwaves in 1952. The feature was rendered available in 1957. It had been shown on Turner Classic Moviee in 2016 and can be spotted on YouTube. And by the way, the FBI get their bad guys, alive and dead. They used to be a great law outfit one time, but I don't know now. Think of GUNS DON'T ARGUE as a relic of an earlier time.

Air Strike

.....but it's through the use of an extensive amount of stock footage. In-between his science fiction movies, Richard Denning headed the small cast as Commander Stanley Blair, United States Navy who is assigned to the aircraft carrier U. S. S. Essex. A veteran of the Korean War, our hero tries to craft a top-notch attack squadron, but there is some serious rivalry between Lieutenant Richard Huggins (Don Haggerty) and Ensign James Delaney (William Courtney). Huggins' wife, nightclub singer Marg (played by former 1930s child actress Gloria Jean), wants him ashore for duty. Even though this movie was shot on an extremely low budget with plenty of boring dialogue, there is some suspense to be had. A training mission runs into some dense fog where the visibility is just one hundred feet and Huggins' fighter-interceptor has malfunctioning instruments and his radio transmission and reception is iffy. So guess who volunteers to lead Richard Huggins to a safe trapping aboard the Essex? That would be James Delaney. After a few tense moments, both flyboys arrive safe and sound aboard the carrier. Cy Roth' next movie as director was the British-made science fiction classic of some kind, FIRE MAIDENS OF OUTER SPACE (1956). He went to Great Britain after being blacklisted by the House Un-American Activities Committee for insisting that AIR STRIKE have black and Jewish naval personnel as part of the plot, which would have been set during the Second World War. Roth raised hell through a letter to his Congressman and to President Dwight Eisenhower, but this was during the Joseph McCarthy era and the Red Scare and the director was declared persona non grata. Cy Roth passed away in 1969; he was just 57 years old. In making AIR STRIKE, Cy Roth's heart was in the right place. A bigger budget might have made a better film. I never heard of it until just a couple of weeks ago. And by the way, it should have been shown in its black-and-white presentation. That's all.

FBI: Most Wanted: Hunter
Episode 11, Season 3

Topical episode based on the Boy Scouts of America scandal
Those two lovable special agents, Ivan Ortiz (Miguel Gomez) and Hana Gibson (Keisha Castle-Hughes), won't have time to work their way around to being true blue roommates. That's because they, and the rest of their colleagues under the supervision of Supervisory Special Agent Jess LaCroix (Julian McHahon), have to track down local hunter Wally Turner (Nathan Wallace) who's been hunting humans as prey and living out Richard Connell's short story THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME. The twist is that Turner's two-legged prey are sexual predators and the ones who have aided and abetted them. Turner even chops their heads off! At the end of the episode, we find out that Turner had been a sexually molested Boy Scout. We also find out that Hana Gibson had been adopted and never found out about her birth mother--until now. And there you have it.

Leap: Rise of the Beast

Hard to believe that this film's budget was actually $2,000.......
......because it looks like LEAP: RISE OF THE BEAST looked like it was made on a $200,000 budget. Now get this: the Catholic Church, and it's locality of Vatican City, is depicted as the Beast from the Book of Revelations in the New Testament of the Holy Bible. In the near future, the heads of state have given their respective nations over to the Catholic Church. The Pope has mandated that everybody receive a computer chip inserted into the palm of the hand, otherwise nobody can buy or sell; oh yes, and if it's determined that Vatican City is not getting enough love, the chip will be turned off! While most people are getting into world peace and tolerance of other religions and sexual orientation, there's a young hucklebuck named Shane Turner (Alexander J. Bonds) who, with his Leap Crew, are not getting with the program. They are skeptical, and so they are clandestinely spreading the word for the rest of the people not to take the Mark of the Beast and get right with the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And in the meantime, there are a group of operatives from Vatican City, led by vicious agent John West (Jon Jordan), whose job is to find the Leap Crew and eliminate them. West goes so far as to make Luke Shepherd (Benjamin Baker) track down those pesky Christians; Luke winds up taking the Mark. After he fails, he's shot and killed by West. In the end, Shane and his Leap Crew manage their escape from Spokane, Washington (where this feature was shot) and head for the tall timber; there is supposed to be a radio station on top of a mountain. But a backpacker tells them that the broadcast facility does not exist and never did. And the movie ends with the tag line "To Be Continued". All right, so the acting was hambone all the way through. So the visual effects were crappy. So what! The cast and crew had their hearts in the right place. Cast member Chris Tempel was all over the place; he served as producer, director, actor, screenwriter, cinematographer, visual effects supervisor, audio mixer, and that's just off the top of my head. There's a chase scene that takes place at night, but was shot during the daytime, and it's reminiscent of the day for night photography that was the hallmark of a great many big budget movies and television episodes back in the day. According to the Internet Movie Database, LEAP: REVELATION is said to be in the works. I sure hope so. This movie packed more in just 75 minutes than many a super extravagant movie. Just my humble opinion. Have a look. It's up on YouTube.

Rumors of Wars

My second End Times review
This is a rather well done movie that was shot on location in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The plot has to do with a college cutie named Roxy (Jennifer Cooper) who comes to realize that the outfit known as Zurn Global (with a logo in the shape of the horns of a calf) has been behind a series of deliberate bombings that have occurred nationwide, including a military base on the outskirts of Chicago that took the lives of forty people, including her Air Force fiancé. Ben Davies stars as Alliance officer Shaw 408, who finds a reason to question the Alliance. Eric Roberts makes a cameo appearance as bazillionaire moneybags Mr. Zurn who's all about peace, safety, and security; his company has mandated the installation of a radio direction information frequency, or RFID, chip in the hand of everybody. It's known as the Mark of the Beast. And it's being enforced by a paramilitary outfit known as the Alliance, who wear the calf horn symbol on their black uniforms; yeah, and they round up the few Christians left and enslave them, and turn the women into prostitutes, unwilling, of course. RUMOURS OF WARS ends on a cliffhanger note, of course. The few Christians manage to escape, and the movie ends with "To Be Continued". One of the other heavy hitters is Jaci Velasquez, who stars as one of the Christians named Beth. Here's a movie with hardly any visual effects, but it was very well done with Grand Rapids' rundown neighborhoods serving as an effective backdrop. 7/10, have a good look.

The Second Coming of Christ

First time I ever reviewed an End Times movie; it won't be the last
So last night I watched this welcome entry in the End Times genre, and when you consider the low budget of THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST it was rather well done. The feature starts off with Jesus being spiked to the cross, with nails pounded into the palms of his hands. Then we flash forward into the near future, with good ol' Earth plunging into worldwide chaos, with the world's agriculture being destroyed due to the lack of bee pollination and a devastating food shortage that results in food rationing in excess. Civilization is taking a nosedive, and on the scene is a powerful world leader known as the Resident (played by Vincent Rivera) who promises to make all mankind immortal; he is actually the Anti-Christ. Diana Angelson takes center stage as Beatrix Cera who takes it on herself to create a new species of honeybee capable of immortality and the ability to pollinate flowers and plants; however, every new strain created by her drop like flies. Her adopted daughter Alba (played by Jessica Zhou in her only feature film so far) is at her side, only she winds up dying from a rare auto-immune disease. Then there's a preacher named John Zachary who used to be s multi-billionaire until he followed Jesus' command to give all that moolah away, take up the cross, and follow Him. John will meet up with Beatrix later on, pray over Alba, and have his head chopped off by the Resident who is wielding a broadsword in front of the Resident's ornate temple. And just when everybody is dropping like flies from all that smoke in the atmosphere, Jesus returns in glory, and the Anti-Christ and his temple plunge into Hell and the world is restored to its paradise origins, and John Zachary and Alba are resurrected; they reunite with John and become a family. There was no mention of the Rapture and nobody was seen taking the Mark of the Beast, but that was all. My humble opinion: the movies about the End Times are going to have to be made by low budget outfits like Cloud Ten Pictures and PureFlix, because it doesn't look like any of the major studios like Disney and Universal will get it done. And I don't see Jerry Bruckheimer, George Lucas, or Steven Spielberg stepping up to the plate. Yes, sir, the fly by night movie companies will have to get it done. THE SECOND COMING OG CHRIST is a pretty good example. And there were a few heavy hitters, including Academy Award nominee Sally Kirkland and Tom Sizemore (SAVING PRIVATE RYAN). And let's not forget Quinton Aaron (THE BLIND SIDE) and Meredith Salenger. 7/10, go and check it out.

It's a Wonderful Life

I have got to review this movie....
....because it is the greatest Christmas classic ever filmed, and what's ironic is that it was a box office bellyflop at its initial release in December, 1946 by RKO Radio Pictures. What's more, this movie wasn't even RKO's first choice. It was going to be SINBAD THE SAILOR with Douglas Fairbanks Jr. And Maureen O'Hara. But because IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE was filmed in black and white at the behest of master filmmaker Frank Capra, this movie was released first and the Arabian Nights epic was released in 1947. Anyways, this movie was a comeback for Frank Capra and James Stewart, both of whom has served during the Second World War; Capra made documentaries while Stewart was a bomber pilot in the European Theater of Operations. James Stewart owned completely the role of small town banker George Bailey who has spent his entire life in the little Midwestern town of Bedford Falls; repeated attempts to leave his little town have ended in complete failure. One night, George Bailey scrams out of his rundown house because he is about to commit suicide! Repeated prayers are heard by the Almighty, and there are two senior angels who are in deep discussion as to what to do about George Bailey, so they call on Guardian Angel Second Class Clarence Oddbody (played con brio by Henry Travers) who still hasn't gotten his wings and his fellow angels are starting to talk. So we enter flashback territory, when George as a little boy saves his brother Harry from falling through the ice and drowning as he slid down to the frozen pond on a spade. George loses hearing in his left ear, though. He works part time in a drugstore owned by Mr. Gower (H. B. Warner) and see the distraught druggist poisoning a child's prescription, and prevents Gower from doing so even though he gets a slap right across the chips but apologizes afterward. George Bailey grows up some and plans a worldwide tour before going to college and is reintroduced to Mary Hatch (Donna Reed) who has had a crushy crush on him ever since she was a little girl. It goes both ways. But before he takes off, his father (played by Samuel S. Hinds) dies from a stroke brought on by the avaricious Henry Potter (Lionel Barrymore in a once in a lifetime performance) who has wanted to get his meathooks on Bailey Savings and Loan; the greedy SOB controls everything else in Bedford Falls. Potter wants to dissolve it, you see. But if George Bailey runs the financial institution, the board will be able to keep the building. George gets to work alongside his absent-minded Uncle Billy Bailey (Thomas Mitchell), and gives his tuition money to brother Harry (Todd Karns) with the understanding that Harry will take over when he graduates. Unfortunately for George, Harry comes back to Bedford Falls from college having gotten married and with job offer from his rich father-in-law. Aw, damn. So George winds up running the savings and loan, and gets married to Mary Hatch. There's a beautiful wedding, lots of happy tears, and $2000 to start their lives together. But they have to pass by the bank in order to catch a train at the depot, and wouldn't you know, as it's the Great Depression there's a run on the bank and a bunch of panicked customers. George pleads with them to keep their money at Bailey Savings and Loan. But there's word that moneybags Potter will pay the customers 50 cents on the dollar. But just when the smelly stuff is hitting the fan and Potter is taunting George over the telephone line, Mary enters the bank with their honeymoon money and after reimbursing the customers, there is two bucks left over by the 6:00 pm deadline. In due course, a housing development known as Bailey Park is built, rivaling Potter's expensive slum neighborhoods. Potter offers Bailey a job worth $20,000 yearly but declines when it turns out that Potter still intends to shut down the savings and loan. George Bailey had no choice but sit out World War II because of his hearing loss. Harry receives the Congressional Medal of Honor for shooting down a Japanese fighter that was about to do a kamikaze number on a transport plane. Flash forward to Christmas Eve, 1945, as Bedford Falls is about to welcome home Harry Bailey and George and Billy are about to deposit $8,000 in the savings and loan and Henry Potter just happens to be at the bank. Billy goofs on the moneybags, accidentally stashes the eight grand in Potter's newspaper. Potter finds the money but the bastard says nothing, just steals the money. And Uncle Billy thinks he just misplaced the money. George harangues his uncle, calls him a stupid, weak, useless old man, and hares off to home, yells at his family, and runs off in the night. And just as he is about to take his own life, Clarence Oddbody jumps into an icy river, and George saves his life. And Clarence gets to show George what life would be like without him. Bedford Falls does not exist; instead it's called Potterville and it is a neon hellhole. Casinos, gambling houses, pawnshops by the bushel, dance halls. George Bailey's mother Ma Bailey (Beulah Bondi) is an embittered widow, ever since the savings and loan shut down during the Great Depression; Mary Hatch became a repressed spinster working at the library; town flirt Violet Bick (Gloria Grahame) is arrested by the cops and is dragged kicking and screaming into a paddy wagon; the crime rate is off the charts; there are amoral townspeople looking for cheap thrills of all kinds; Gower the drugstore owner went to jail for manslaughter and Is reduced to panhandling, on account of he poisoned the pills and killed a young boy; Uncle Billy Bailey was sent to a mental institution after the savings and loans went out of business; where Bailey Park once stood there is s graveyard where Harry Bailey is buried. Harry in this alternate world did not live to serve during WWII, so of course he didn't save the soldiers on the transport plane. In other words, George Bailey has been a tremendous influence. He pleads with Clarence Oddbody to return to his own world, and the wish is granted. So even though George Bailey may be off to the jailhouse, his friends and neighbors show up with money and checks, do it looks like the savings and loan will stay open. George Bailey has been the most selfless man around, which was why he got in big trouble. What a gray example of filmmaking. Did you know that this movie was remade for TV in 1977 as IT HAPPENED ONE CHRISTMAS with Marlo Thomas as Mary Bailey Hatch and Wayne Rogers as George Hatch. Yeah, that girl worked on this fractured flicker and shoved her feminist point of view down everyone's throat. She got Cloris Leachman to play Clara Oddbody and cast Orson Welles as Henry Potter. And then there was another TV movie called ODDBODY (1990) with Robert Carradine as Clarence Oddbody. But accept no substitutions. Stick with the original. It's hard to believe that IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE was in the public domain during the 1970s and,1980s. Every Christmas, this amazing movie was on every TV station. But then a revived Republic Pictures purchased this movie's copyright and took it out of the public domain; the copyright has since gone over to Paramount. And these days NBC has the exclusive broadcast rights to the film. But it's available on home video and you can stream it, too. You owe yourself the duty and responsibility to watch the James Stewart classic. Do that. You can thank me later.

Blood of Ghastly Horror

I just watched this Al Adamson mess-terpiece...
...and this is the greatest example I can think of on how to make a truly craptacular motion picture. You young kids who watch movies made by The Asylum have no idea of movies that came out when I was a teen, and they were made out of spit and bailing wire and how these same fractured flickers starred screen legends who used to be famous one time until their career hit the skids for no real reason other than it's a case of stuff happens all the time and you get paid on Friday. But even though Al Adamson remains the worst moviemaker in Hollywoodland, he did put the likes of John Carradine, Kent Taylor, and former Walt Disney star Tommy Kirk back to work. In this stupor saga, there's a blue-skinned super strong zombie dubbed Arko (Richard Smedley) who strangled five people in an alley way, including two cops, a streetwalker and her customer, and an innocent young woman who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. John Carradine plays your typical mad scientist Howard Vanard, who implants an electronic device into the brain of former Vietnam War veteran Joe Corey (played by Roy Morton), only to have him become a psychotic killer as he is part of a criminal outfit who have committed a jewel robbery. One of the thieves tosses a bag of the stolen jewels into the flatbed of a pickup truck belonging to construction head honcho (David Clarke). Only, his little girl Nancy (K. K. Riddle) finds the pretty sparking things and stashes them inside her little black doll. She and her mother Linda Clarke (Tacey Robbins) are being held hostage, and David Clarke, husband and father, is in a panic. As for Joe Corey, he kills Dr. Vanard. The doctor's estranged daughter Susan Vanard (played by Al Adamson's wife Regina Carroll) just flew in from France upon hearing of her father's death. Little does she know that her deceased dear old dad has a jealous colleague named Elton Corey (Kent Taylor) who happens to have a son named.....wait for it....wait for it.... Joe Corey. The ol' jewel robber himself. And because Dr. Elton Corey doesn't like how the late Dr. Howard Vanard had treated his beloved son, Dr. Corey decides to exact vengeance by experimenting on Susan Vanard and transform her into an ugly zombie babe. In the meantime Linda Clarke and daughter Nancy manage to escape their captors thanks to one of the robbers who happens to be black, and pays with his life after Joe Corey kills him. He chases after Linda and Nancy, and the chase leads into the foothills near Lake Tahoe, where part of this feature was shot. Joe Corey pays with his life, David Clarke reunites with his wife and little girl, and Elton Corey gets strangled by Arko the zombie; Susan drinks a potion that restores her to her beautiful self. The end. If you can hang in there to this picture's last thirty minutes, there is actually quite a bit of action and suspense. An uncredited Jennifer Bishop plays Dr. Vanard's receptionist; you might remember her from VAMPIRE MEN OF THE LOST PLANET, which made it to the silver screen in 1969. All right, now I want you to stay with me because I am about to lead you into confusion territory. BLOOD OF GHASTLY HORROR started out as a crime thriller from 1964 as ECHO OF TERROR. It sat on the shelf for over a year until Al Adamson and his favorite producer Samuel Sherman shot some scenes of go-go girls dancing their behinds off and some musical numbers, and the modified movie was released in 1965 as PSYCHO A-GO-GO. Two years later, some footage of Al Adamson's favorite actor John Carradine was shot and the modified feature was released as FIEND WITH THE ELECTRONIC BRAIN (1967) by American General Picture, founded by director/producer/screenwriter/visual effects supervisor David L. Hewitt. Well, Al Adamson went back to the well over four years later, removed the dancing scenes and musical footage (BOOOOOOOO); he then filmed new scenes of John Carradine, Kent Taylor, Tommy Kirk, Regina Carroll, Richard Smedley, and Barney Gelfan, and was reissued in 1972 as BLOOD OF GHASTLY HORROR. It was then edited for television and sold to Allied Artists Television as MAN WITH THE SYNTHETIC BRAIN. Then there's a raunchy version of this movie and it's called THE LOVE MANIAC. It was filmed in widescreen Techniscope and advertised as "Chill-O-Rama". See how confusing this was. Try watching this movie sometime. One more thing: one of the directors of photography was Vilmos Zsigmond, who went on to much better things (THE SUGARLAND EXPRESS; CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND; THE DEER HUNTER; THE GHOST AND THE DARKNESS; ASSASSINS; HEAVEN'S GATE). Whew. I'm finished with this review. Thanks for your kind indulgence.

Damnation Alley

One of my top apocalypse movies
This movie came out the same year as STAR WARS, so I didn't really know about this until I returned from West Germany, where I spent three years at Pruem Air Station from 1981 to 1984. Soon after getting settled in at Mill Valley Air Force Station in 1984, I caught DAMNATION ALLEY on KRON Channel 4, an NBC affiliate, one night. The promotion played up George Peppard (THE A-TEAM) and Jan-Michael Vincent (AIRWOLF). They were cast as two Air Force commissioned officers, Major Eugene "Sam" Denton and First Lieutenant Jake Tanner, who assume their duties at Tipton Air Force Base, an intercontinental ballistic missile site. They liaise with Air Force Staff Sergeant Tom Keegan (Paul Winfield), who's an aspiring artist. No sooner do Major Denton and Lieutenant Tanner assume their duties when they have to launch their ICBMs in response to a Soviet missile attack. At least 40% of the Russky missiles don't get through, but the other 60% do! And because of the missile strikes, the earth shifts its axis and the skies are suffused with a permanent aurora borealis. Those incandescent lights are something else. About two years later, Major Denton is still on active duty as is Air Force Lieutenant Tom Perry (Kip Niven). There are mutated giant scorpions nearby, and Jake Tanner (who has gotten out on a honorable discharge) manages to dodge them on a motorcycle with a female mannequin as passenger. There's a natural gas leak, and a careless airman's lit cigarette causes the missile base to explode, courtesy of footage from OPERATION CROSSBOW (1965). After receiving a radio message from Albany, New York, our heroes set out in two Landmasters; they are giant gasoline-fueled 12-wheeled armored personnel carriers equipped with missiles and capable of climbing at a sixty-degree angle and floating on water. Along their journey they encounter supersized tornadoes which take out one of the Landmasters and kills Perry; Keegan hitches a ride with Denton and Tanner. They find a lovely lady named Janice (played by Dominique Sanda who made plenty of movies and TV episodes in her native France) in the ruins of Las Vegas where the slot machines still work; never mind that there is supposed to be no electricity! A stopover in Salt Lake City includes an attack by mutated armored cockroaches that eat Tom Keegan alive. Denton, Tanner and Janice find a teenage survivor named Billy (Jackie Earle Haley) and a bunch of desert rednecks who mean them harm until Denton and Tanner blows them away. Then it's on to Albany with another stopover at an automobile junkyard, but a horrendous laser storm erupts and there's a tremendous flood that uses footage from EARTHQUAKE (1974). Our heroes make contact, of course. 20th Century-Fox was betting on DAMNATION ALLEY to be the huge cinematic event of the year, and almost overlooked the other movie that took place a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Of course, STAR WARS cleaned up at the box office while this feature bellyflopped at the box office. The visual effects are surprisingly well done for such a low-budget endeavor; they were worked on by Milt Rice, Margo Anderson, Mimi Gramstky, Matthew Yuricich, and Allen Blaisdell. This movie was based on Roger Zelazny's novel. He hated the film adaptation. I liked it, and maybe you will as well.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

When Chevy Chase was funny......
....he absolutely owned the role of paterfamilias Clark Griswold, just like Beverly D'Angelo owned the role of his way better half Ellen Griswold. Their two children Audrey and Russ are played by Juliette Lewis and Johnny Galecki respectively. Clark is bound and determined to have the best Christmas ever. Ellen is somewhat supportive, Audrey and Rusty not so much. Clark's parents Clark Sr (John Randolph) and Nora (Diane Ladd) drop in for some criticism, and so do Art (E. G. Marshall) and Frances Smith (Doris Roberts). And leave us not forget Uncle Lewis (William Hickey) who's always smoking smelly cigars and Aunt Bethany (Mae "Betty Boop" Questel in her last film appearance). They bring their Persian cat with them, and the puddy tat meets a grisly end from getting fried by a burning Christmas tree! And how about Eddie Johnson (Randy Quaid), a real slob, and his wife Catherine (Miriam Flynn), Ellen's cousin. They're accompanied by their slob kids Rocky and Ruby Sue, and a gut bucket mutt that answers to the name Snot! Clark's attempt to light up their suburban home ultimately proves successful to the point that a nearby nuclear power plant has tp provide additional power! And then there are the Griswolds' uppity next door neighbors Todd and Margo Chester; they don't believe in celebrating Christmas until the Griswolds' tree crashes through their living room window. They're played by Nicholas Guest and Julia Louis-Dreyfus; she went on to join the cast of SEINFELD as Elaine Benes. The gist of this cute movie is that Clark Griswold is anticipating a big Christmas bonus from his skinflint boss Frank Shirley (Brian Doyle-Murray), who gifts him with a club membership instead! Well, Eddie Johnson takes it upon himself to kidnap Frank Shirley, bring him over to the Griswold domicile, and set things right. There's a SWAT raid, and it turns out that Mr. Shirley decided to cut out the bonuses for everyone in the company. He gets called out, of course, and changes course. Clark gets his bonus, with an additional 20%. This movie came out at a time when Chevy Chase was at the top of his game, and so was Randy Quaid. Their respective careers have hit the skids since then, but Hollywood loves a comeback. One never knows. But get in there and enjoy this Yuletide yarn. Revel in the sight gags, comedies of error, and clever dialogue. You can do it.


One of James Stewart's best films. I mean it!
Jimmy Stewart owned the role of that lovable eccentric Elwood P. Down, a wealthy eccentric who's accompanied by an invisible rabbit-like creature of Celtic mythology known as s "puca"; only Edwood can see this entity as he strolls around his home town and introduces the creature named Harvey to the customers at every juke joint in town. He has been the bane of his much older sister Veta Louise Dowd Simmons' existence since the day he was born. When he crashes a high society soirée hosted by Veta, she and his niece Myrtle Mae Simmons (Victoria Horne) decide to have him committed to Chumley's Rest, a local sanitarium. Through a comedy of errors, Veta is committed instead by Dr. Lyman Sanderson (Charles Drake) with the help of orderly Martin Wilson (Jesse White, best known as the hapless Maytag repairman in a series of TV commercials). For her role of Elwood's sister, Josephine Hull received an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. HARVEY is laugh out loud funny with some serious overtones. It may turn out that Elwood P. Dowd is the sanest one of them all. He is one magnificent matchmaker. Marvin Wilson is coupled up with Myrtle Mae Simmons, and so are Dr. Sanderson and lovely nurse Miss Kelly (Peggy Dow, who quit her actress gig in 1951 after marrying oil driller and businessman Walter Helmerich III; they raised five sons and were married for 60 years until he passed away in 2012). My advice to today's filmmakers: never, never, never, and I do mean never remake this 1950 classic. You're just going to muck it all up with talentless cast members who can't act their way out of a paper bag and gee-whiz special effects generated by a computer. It had been remade in 1972 as a television movie, again with James Stewart; Helen Hayes played his sister and Jesse White reprised his role as well. Enjoy the original and wonder how the surprisingly suggestive dialogue made it past the censors. Maybe they were enjoying the movie all too much.

Holiday Inn

Very good movie musical that I watched with my way better half
So I just got through watching HOLIDAY INN, which told this tale of that lovable singer Jim Hardy (Bing Crosby) and equally lovable tap-dancer Ted Hanover (Fred Astaire), who stage a musical routine with Jim's fiancée Lila Dixon). Everything's rocking steady until Ted and Lila hare off on their own, and Jim winds up buying the farm...as in actual farmlands. He's plowing the land, feeding hogs and cows, cutting logs for the fireplace, and going off his rocker and winding up in a nearby laughing academy. After regaining his sanity, Jim Hardy gets a brainstorm: turning his house into Holiday Inn, a supper club that will be open on every holiday of the year, including Thanksgiving and Christmas. Here's a movie that introduced "White Christmas", "Happy Holiday", "Be Careful, It's My Heart", just to name a few. We even get to hear Der Bingle warble "Song Of Freedom" accompanied by a montage of America's industry scenes of vehicles, ships, and planes in various stages of manufacture, and ends with a shot of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. There's also a musical number called "Abraham" about Abraham Lincoln, and it's sung by Bing Crosby and the other cast members in blackface! Of course that stuff is unacceptable today, but remember that HOLIDAY INN was made at a different time. Anyhoo, getting back to the story, Ted Hanover returns to Holiday Inn drunk off his backside because Lila ran off with some moneybags from Texas and at one point dances with some blonde honey babe and he doesn't remember her name! Jim Hardy and their impresario Danny Reed (Walter Abel) only saw her from the rear. Turns out, it's a promising dancer and singer Linda Mason (Marjorie Reynolds), and Ted Hanover falls instantly in love with her. Trouble is, Jim has it bad for her, too! So, will this tangle of hearts ever get untangled? Yeah, there is a resolution but you're going to have to watch the movie and find out for yourself. Please do that. The black face number may be a turn off, but just remember that times were different in Hollywoodland during the 1940s.

The Equalizer: Shooter
Episode 6, Season 2

Damn, this was a good episode!
My favorite heroine Robyn McCall has to swing into action when a diabolical sniper is targeting innocent people in the streets of the Big Apple. The twist is that Detective Marcus Dante and District Attorney Avery Grafton both need the Equalizer's aid and assistance. The sniper has another purpose altogether: drawing out one of McCall's assistants (that would be Melody "Mel" Bayani), and she winds up trapped by the sniper while her favorite husband Harry Keshegian is on tinder hooks. In the meantime, Robyn McCall's daughter Delilah suffers post traumatic stress disorder while she's in a park with a friend and some chump drops a skateboard and it sounds like a gun going off; she has a flashback to her friend being shot and killed by European gangsters in a previous episode. Will the Equalizer stop this diabolical character? She sure will. And you will enjoy this episode. I sure did.

FBI: Most Wanted: Tough Love
Episode 3, Season 3

Way better than "Patriots", with a case of deja vu
So I just got through with the episode "Tough Love"; it starts with juvenile court judge Stuart Weaver getting murdered (he gives teenagers the strictest sentences ever), and since he was a federal weenie that means Jesse LaCroix and his team must investigate and get the perpetrator off the streets. In this case, it's a juvenile named Luke Hadley who did the deed after managing his escape from the Beech Mountain facility which is being run iron-fisted style by head warden Keith Saunders. It develops that Saunders has been getting kickbacks, as was the late Judge Weaver. Only after Judge Stuart Weaver got some extra bucks in his checking account he decided to be real strict in the sentencing. In the meantime, newly-arrived Kristin Gaines and her teenage daughter try to get themselves settled at an air-and-breakfast place, only to be kicked out. Well, Luke Hadley catches up with a moneybags named Eddie Geoff who had been bribing Weaver and Saunders. So if this episode gives you a feeling of deja vu, that's because there was an episode of LAW AND ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT with Swoosie Kurtz as corrupt family court judge Hilda Marsden who gave juveniles the most strict sentences ever and had them sent to a maximum security prison. This episode was way better than the previous episode "Patriots". Check it out and see for yourself. It's on YouTube TV if you missed it. Sometimes Dick Wolf does come up with an entertaining episode. I wish he did it all the time. That's all.

FBI: Most Wanted: Patriots
Episode 2, Season 3

I watched this episode so you wouldn't have to do so
Yeah, friends and neighbors, I watched 45 minutes of woodchuck-chucking, mother-loving 43 minutes of liberal bias courtesy of Mr. Dick Wolf. Jess LaCroix and his team go after some so-called patriots who are still bent out of shape because of the incidents that happened at the Capitol Building on January 6, 2021. And while one of the redneck militants is making the beast with two backs with the other's wife, it turns out that there's a plan to assassinate the Attorney General of Virginia who just got done certifying Joe Biden ad the 46th President. An FBI clerk snitched out a hotel desk clerk, who was playing investigator and called the local FBI office, and the clerk snitched her out to the militants, one of whom walked up to her and shot her point blank. It felt like I was lectured instead of entertained. And the hell of it is, I have seen far better episodes of this show. If only Dick Wolf would please dial it way back on his liberal rhetoric and quit depicting conservatives as villains, this show would be even greater. But he's a liberal and is not liable to listen.

The Silver Streak

I liked this railroad yarn, how about you?
Well, friends and neighbors, I just got through watching this fast-paced yarn of railroad engineer Tom Caldwell (played by future cowboy star Charles Starrett) who pitches a new proposal for a streamlined diesel-powered locomotive dubbed the Silver Streak to railroad magnate Barney Dexter (William Farnham). Only thing is, Dexter gives Caldwell's proposal a great big hearty thumbs down. So Tom Caldwell takes his proposal elsewhere, has the Silver Streak built, and takes it for a test run. It's supposed to attain speeds of 120 miles per hour but does not surpass 40 miles per hour; it is easily beaten by a steam locomotive. The futuristic choo-choo is consigned to an exhibition in sweet home Chicago, and Caldwell has egg all over his face. Come to find out, there was an engineering flaw that had not been detected during the locomotive's construction but that gets fixed thanks to an expert named Crawford (played by Arthur Lake, who essayed the role of Dagwood Bumstead in the "Blondie" movies). Good thing too, because there's an outbreak of infantile paralysis at the Boulder Dam work site and one of the victims is construction engineer Allan Dexter (Hardie Albright), son of Barney Dexter and brother to Ruth Dexter (played by Loretta Young's sister Sally Blane) with whom Tom Caldwell is crazy about. So now there's a no holds barred race across the country. It's 2,000 miles from Chicago to Boulder Dam, there's an iron lung on board, and the Silver Streak has less than 24 hours to get the iron lung there on time. And to make matters worse, there's an engineer named Herman Bronte (played by actor and film director Irving Pichel) who's about to sabotage the train. Can the Silver Streak make it to Boulder Dam on time? Need you ask? Keep an eye out for Edgar Kennedy; he's well cast as flustered engineer Dan O'Brien. I saw a battered film print posted on YouTube, and it sounded like the audio portion was battered and bruised. This was one of a series of railroad flicks that made it to the silver screen during the 1930s. Among the others were DANGER LIGHTS (1930), HURRICANE EXPRESS (1932), STREAMLINE EXPRESS (1935), and UNION PACIFIC (1939). Tight editing by Fred Knudtson. See if you can spot the visual effects by Vernon Walker. Great cinematography by Roy Hunt. This movie is worth catching at any time, even though it had not been remade in 1976. You're welcome.


I didn't think this movie was going to be good. It wasn't. It was superlative!!!!!
Friends and neighbors, we will never know if GYPSY was going to be any better with Ethel Merman from the 1959 Broadway production. But dig this: Rosalind Russell absolutely owned the role of Rose Hovick, the ultimate stage mother who tried to push her daughter Louise Hovick into show business with some cheesy acts after her other daughter (played by Ann Jillian) takes off and elopes. And they hit every tank town in the United States until they come to an entertainment emporium that turns out to be a burlesque joint! Karl Malden was fine and dandy as Rose's eternally optimistic agent Herbie Sommers who wants to make an honest woman of her, but only if Louise doesn't get to stripping. Well, history says different. This incredible movie racked up three Academy Award nominations for best cinematography (Harry Stradling), best costume design (Orry-Kelly), and best musical score (Frank Perkins). But it was Rosalind Russell and Natalie Wood who made this motion picture work. And it was directed by versatile filmmaker Mervyn LeRoy. There have been quite a few remakes of GYPSY, but since we can't see the Broadway production with Ethel Merman, the film version with Rosalind Russell will do just mighty fine. The songs are terrific; they were made by Jules Styne and Stephen Sondheim. See this movie. Now you know what to do.


Go see this movie!!!
It's a good way to find out how Cruella de Vil felt the need to make a fur coat out of those 101 Dalmatian doggies. She started out as teenage fashion designer wannabe Estella (played con brio by Emma Stone) who had been an orphan as has her sidekicks Jasper and Horace. She encounters top fashion doyenne Baroness von Hellman (also played con brio by Emma Thompson), finds out that the Baroness forced her mother off the edge of a cliff side into the roaring ocean, is chased by three Dalmatian doggies, and is out for revenge. Estella disguises herself as the mysterious Cruella, and crashes the Baroness' soirées. There is just no let-up, especially when you find out that Estella/Cruella just so happens to be the Baroness' daughter! And just when you think that Estella is about to meet her adoptive mother's fate, she deploys a parachute! Great visual effects supervised by Max Wood. If this movie does not get Academy Award nominations for Jenny Beavan's costume design, Fiona Crombie's production design, and Martin Foley's art direction, there's just no justice. You feel like you are in the London of yesteryear. But this movie would have bellyflopped had it not been for both Emma. How both those two ladies getting Oscars for their acting? Let's make that happen. In the meantime, enjoy the movie. I did.

The Very Best of the Football Follies

If you only watch any football follies documentary, watch this one!
Be prepared to laugh yourself silly over Steve Sabol's stentorian narrative, especially when he casually mentions the New Orleans Saints (when they were known as the Ain'ts) and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Their bumbles, fumbles and stumbles were the stuff of legend, but they have come a long way since then. I especially liked Mel Blanc's narration using the voices of Foghorn Leghorn and Porky Pig, and the operatic stylings that had one football player singing "Hi Mom" and "Number One". And how about that coming attraction "Opening Day" styled like a horror movie. It's up on YouTube. Find it and watch it---if you dare.

The Equalizer: Reckoning
Episode 10, Season 1

I liked this episode!!
My favorite heroine Robyn McCall swings into action after her daughter Delilah and her friends have been targeted by an European crime syndicate; those bad guys opened fire and one of Delilah's close friends dies from the gunfire. While that's going on, Marcus Dante pays a visit to his father, a former cop who had been arrested with his buds and charged with ripping off drug dealers and using the financial proceeds for good usage (improving the neighborhood, for example). In the end, Robyn McCall tricks those nasty Europeans and a rival drug gang into opening fire on each other. And although Detective Dante reluctantly goes along with Robyn McCall and her campaign, he still says that either he or somebody else will go after her and take her off the street. And Delilah discovers her mom's secret stash of weapons, passports, wigs--the whole smash. Way better than the last episode. I like it like that. Hope the next season is better.

NCIS: Los Angeles: Signs of Change
Episode 16, Season 12

This episode was so effing good, I saw it twice!!
And that's primarily because of the plot, in which systems engineer Sienna Marchione (played by real-life deaf actress Raquel McPeek Rodriguez) is the only survivor of a break-in at Heptagon Technologies that resulted in top-secret technology uploaded onto somebody's flashdrive before Sienna could have a chance to stop it. In so doing, she manages to take out two mercenaries; unfortunately the third one got away. Now get this: Sienna Marchoine is a computer expert, adept in hand-to-hand combat (she would make an excellent mixed martial artist), comes from a Navy family that first saw combat during the Second World War, knows sign language, and just happens to be deaf. She still wants to serve her country, to the point where she joins Kensi Blye and the rest of the NCIS gang in recovering the technology before a couple of Saudi billionaires put it on the black market. By the by, this technology is a next-generation exo-skeleton that renders its wearers invisible. Not only that, it renders ships, submarines, aircraft, and tanks invisible to radar systems. That changes the rules of combat, does it not? So this episode wanders into science fiction territory. Shane Brennan and Scott Gimmell would make a grave mistake in not adding Raquel McPeek Rodriguez permamently to the cast. I would like to see more of Sienna Marchione. The showrunners already fouled up the Harmon Rabb/Sarah MacKenzie relationship a while back. Don't miss the opportunity to have Raquel McPeek Rodriguez in the cast for good. And this reviewer can hardly wait for Linda Hunt to reprise her role of Hetty Lange; she's supposed to come back for this season's final episode. Nell Jones would be so relieved. She's just not managerial material, is all. And I don't like how her romance with Eric Beale went down the crapper. Thanks for nothing, Brennan and Gimmell. And let's add Gerald McRaney to the cast. Anyway, this was a great episode. And let's have Densi have their child already, okay? Make it happen. That's all.

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