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7/10
A Gentle Madness
19 January 2019
The performances of Kim Stanley and Richard Attenborough dominate the film Seance On A Wet Afternoon. This one will leave with a feeling of creepiness long after you've viewed it.

Stanley who is so good in the role that you barely notice that in this British production she has no trace of any kind of accent. She's a psychic medium whom I guess was spending too much time communicating with the world beyond. Attenborough is her weak and dependent husband. He suffers from asthma and barely works.

Now in a new location they need to advertise her powers. Stanley has this scheme to kidnap a little girl from wealthy parents which of course Attenborough does. Attenborough just obeys Stanley in everything. But the scheme goes horribly wrong.

Ever since the Lindbergh baby kidnapping, juvenile kidnap stories have done well in film. Everyone feels an empathy for the victim and wants to see the innocent returned and the guilty punished.

But Stanley imbues her performance with a certain quiet madness. She 'communicates' with the dead through the spirit of her dead baby. Attenborough knows what she is, but she is completely dominating as far as he's concerned.

Seance On A Wet Afternoon got Oscar recognition in the form of a nomination for Kim Stanley for Best Actress. The slightly more expensive and popular Mary Poppins with Julie Andrews in the lead took home the gold that year.

Still both the performances of Stanley and Attenborough are as fresh today as in 1964 when Seance On A Wet Afternoon was released.
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7/10
A bit of wrangling from RKO
19 January 2019
Someone over at Warner Brothers thought that Philip Barry's play The Animal Kingdom might make a good vehicle for their new male buddy team of Dennis Morgan and Jack Carson. So in roles pioneered by Leslie Howard and William Gargan on stage and in the RKO original film, Morgan and Carson took over the parts and did well with them as the playboy and the butler.

The story is updated to reflect wartime conditions. Morgan is an affable sort of playboy who likes giving parties and one time his little clambake is covered by photographers Ann Sheridan and Jane Wyman. Both are from a liberal type magazine that sounds a lot like PM which was in vogue at the time. Morgan who despite his affluence and his playboy lifestyle is a decent sort. He pulls the magazine out of red ink and takes over as publisher.

But on the homefront scheming society girl Alexis Smith has set her cap for Morgan. When he marries her Sheridan is heartbroken but that sure isn't the end of the story.

Fans of Philip Barry's work will also recognize items in the plot from The Philadelphia Story and Holiday. One More Tomorrow was filmed during the war years, but civilians didn't get to see it until the end of World War II. I imagine our Armed Forces saw it in the interim.

To get the rights to it the Brothers Warner had to buy them from RKO who I am sure was grateful for the coin as it always had financial problems until Howard Hughes bought the studio.

One More Tomorrow holds up well over 70 years later, the performances are fresh and strong and the quintet of leads is cast impeccably. What was interesting was Jane Wyman who in those years went from playing girl Friday roles which she had at Warner Brothers became a serious dramatic actress as she had gotten great reviews for The Lost Weekend and The Yearling. One More Tomorrow fit well into the collection of films that Dennis Morgan and Jack Carson were doing at the time. Alexis Smith got a real juicy part and made the most of it as a woman you really love to hate. This also fits in well with Ann Sheridan, it's a part she gave a lot of Oomph to.

I think Philip Barry fans will be pleased as One More Tomorrow keeps the spirit and message of The Animal Kingdom well intact.
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5/10
Passable Peplum about those early Roman days with the Etruscans
18 January 2019
I really love the crack another viewer made about casting the urbane Louis Jourdan as a barbarian warrior. Was not Cary Grant available? I could not possibly top that.

Other than ludicrous casting Amazons Of Rome is a passably interesting peplum picture concerning those events in early Roman history when it was just trying to survive as a city against some very nasty Etruscans who rule the countryside. The legendary hero Horatio is played by Italian actor Ettore Manni who did more than a few of these kind of films.

While Horatio is trying to regroup and retrain an army, the women of Rome take to the field led by the aristocratic Sylvia Sims. It's there that she meets Jourdan. If they can make peace, is it possible for the rest?

The Etruscan leader is played by Julien Chevrier who would like a permanent peace, but has some folks who are looking for glory and conquest and as long as they get it doesn't matter how much blood is spilled.

Poor Louis Jourdan, he looks like he is annoyed that a table at Maxim's isn't ready.
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9/10
RBG - The early years
18 January 2019
It's nice that a legend gets to see her life portrayed on screen while she is still having a pulse. I kept thinking of Thurgood Marshall also as an advocate for racial equality and his portrayal by Chadwick Boseman in the film Marshall. Both On The Basis Of Sex and Marshall take a couple of people who would serve on the Supreme Court and tell of cases in their years as advocates. On The Basis Of Sex does Ruth Bader Ginsburg justice.

As the movie shows it wasn't always easy. After attending Harvard Law School after undergraduating at Cornell, Ruth Bader married Martin Ginsburg who was a year ahead of her. When Martin gets a job in New York City, she goes to her law school dean Erwin Griswold a pillar of the legal establishment played here by Sam Waterston. Progressive in many ways Griswold did in fact get the first women admitted to Harvard Law. But he did believe women ought to know their place at home and in the courtroom. Jack McCoy, Waterston is not in this film.

Simply because of her sex she could not get a slew of jobs that husband Martin would have gotten easily. She had her own dometic crisis as well when Martin played by Armie Hammer came down with cancer. She was thrust into the role of breadwinner as well as homemaker. And the bread at times was only crumbs.

With that kind of attitude and disdain shown her Ginzburg says this has to all change and that women have to achieve real equality. Oddly enough it's the case of a man played by Chris Mulkey who was denied an income tax deduction for hiring a home attendant for his mother and was forced to stay home and tend to her. Mulkey is a bachelor and he did not want mom going to some substandard nursing home. On the basis of a man challenging gender roles Ginzburg made her first mark.

Felicity Jones of Great Britain played Ruth Bader Ginzburg a girl from Brooklyn. Not only Brooklyn, but my part of Brooklyn as I read she attended James Madison High School which was two blocks from where I lived. Nice Jewish girls from Brooklyn make their mark whether its Barbra Streisand in music or Ruth Bader Ginzburg in the law. There's such passion in her performance I can't believe that Jones will be ignored in the Oscar sweepstakes..

Another who should not be ignored is Cailee Spaeny the young actress who plays daughter Jane Ginzburg. At first glance she looks like your average teen girl of the times. But this young lady has read Gloria Steinem and believes in direct action far more than Mom does. Her scene with Mom with those construction workers is a classic. Hope Spaeny gets some recognition in the Supporting Actress category, she really nails it in her role.

Good gray Sam Waterston as pillar of the legal establishment was one kind of foe. But there is the climax scene at the 10th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals an actor Jack Raynor shows how deeply sinister opposition to change could be. One thing the New Right has always been good at is recognizing threats to its perceived view of society. Recently one of their religious right legal organizations lobbied against including LGBTQ people in anti-lynching bill in Congress. They reasoned that if you simply made it wrong to kill people on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity they might actually ask society to treat them with dignity and respect, legally, economically, and socially.

Raynor with that smug arrogance that the religious right has says that the foundations of society as they see it will be torn asunder if Ginzburg's client wins this case. Felicity Jones who has been told to stick to facts and precedents and keep her passion in check gets up and just demolishes Raynor. With passion in check, Jones impresses those Appellate Judges with the facts but the restrained passion is there. She sure impressed me.

Hope they'll be some Oscar consideration for Jones, for Hammer and for Spaeny. Most of all in that field of 10 for On The Basis Of Sex.
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6/10
Let Fakrash put you in the driver's seat
18 January 2019
Tony Randall hoping to impress his rather stern would be father-in-law Edward Andrews the archeology professor with a big brass urn that he says is authentic. When he sees one in Andrews's home, Randall is rather discouraged. But when he opens his brass urn at home it really is authentic because through the green smoke out pops Burl Ives as Fakrash the genie.

Of course Fakrash who has been imprisoned since the days of King Suleiman, that's Solomon to the shegetz and he wants to do all kinds of things to his new friend and master Randall. Of course he's got a few thousand years of culture to catch up on so he manages to make a hash out of Randall's professional and personal life. That includes his courting of Barbara Eden who is Edward Andrews's daughter.

Randall and Ives play well off each other. Ives with a twinkle in his eye looks like he's having a great old time hamming it up in a role that calls for some generous pork. Randall does well in a role I could see Jack Lemmon possibly as better casting. I'll bet Lemmon got offered this one.

The 20th Century wasn't quite ready for Fakrash the genie, but Ives learns as he observes. As for how it works out, look to how it all worked out for David Niven and Loretta Young after Cary Grant the angel did take his leave of them. Of course this is quite a bit different.

And a lot funnier besides.
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The Gay Bride (1934)
6/10
Mining for gold in the rackets
17 January 2019
Carole Lombard came over from Paramount to star in this MGM film The Gay Bride with Chester Morris. This is a part that fits her like OJ's glove should have fit OJ, a nice wisecracking chorus girl who makes no bones about the fact that she wants a hefty bank balance for her husband.

As chorus girl you don't get to meet the cream of society unless they are out slumming. And speakeasies she frequents usually means gangsters who had the money during Prohibition.

Her cap is set for Nat Pendleton though personally she can't stand him. Pendleton is his usual amiable lug who can't resist giving her anything. Muscle he is, brains he's not.

Lombard who winds up with the only tangible assets when Pendleton is killed has to still go through Sam Hardy and Leo Carrillo before she winds up with Chester Morris, Pendleton's sharp assistant who knows that there is a limited future when Prohibition is repealed.

Morris and Lombard play well off each other. Laughs come in The Gay Bride at the expense of Nat Pendleton. Also from Lombard's sidekick Zasu Pitts who is great at being Zasu Pitts.

This is a good screwball comedy in the Carole Lombard tradition.
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4/10
Tanks a million, a million tanks to Warner Brothers
17 January 2019
The best thing that The Tanks Are Coming is good use of actual combat footage well integrated into the film. A whole lot like the Sands Of Iwo Jima in the Pacific Theater. Unfortunately said footage is tied to a rather pedestrian story.

As a lad I remember reading those Sergeant Rock comic books and watching Steve Cochran and the rest of the cast I got the feeling that I was looking at one of those comic books come to life. It shocks me though that Samuel Fuller wrote the original story. That man certainly went on to do bigger and better things in the war film genre.

Not the best work for any of the cast and crew.
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The Twilight Zone: Two (1961)
Season 3, Episode 1
7/10
If You Were The Only Girl IN The World
16 January 2019
The war to end all wars has come and gone and left a lot of destruction. I'd like to think that what is played out between Charles Bronson on one side and Elizabeth Montgomery was repeated a few times over the globe. Otherwise there might be little hope for the species.

Bronson and Montgomery from two different sides in the previous conflict are still uneasy. Years of ideological pounding has taken its toll, especially with Montgomery.

When do we put aside all our religion and secular ideology and just work for survival? It's the real thought provoking question this Twilight Zone story asks.
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6/10
A real nutty kind of film
16 January 2019
The casting of Edward Everett Horton as a nutty professor is reason enough to watch The Body Disappears. Horton has been experimenting at the small college he teaches with both invisibility and resurrection.

He and his trusted assistant Willie Best steal Jeffrey Lynn's body from the morgue and bring it back to Horton's laboratory at home. Lynn isn't dead, just completely ossified from his batchelor party and his buds thought it would be fun to have him wake up at the morgue.

Horton gives the invisibility potion to Lynn instead of his experimental resurrection concoction and Lynn goes invisible like Claude Rains. Also like a monkey that he had tried it on earlier who escapes.

Meanwhile when he leaves his bride Marguerite Chapman at the altar a manhunt starts for him with the suspicion of foul play in the air.

The Body Disappears is a nice item from the B picture unit at Warner Brothers with none of their big box office stars. Jane Wyman who plays Horton's daughter falls for Lynn invisible though he may be. Lynn has a good line of patter that gets her.

This one really is Horton's film and it is nice to see him carry a film for once as brilliant as he in support.
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Brainstorm (1965)
7/10
Trying to game the system of criminal insanity
16 January 2019
I do some court monitoring volunteering and a few years back I sat in on a murder case where a 19 year killed a 60 something man with whom he was having a sexual relationship with. During the course of the trial this kid gave certain answers to the court appointed scientist that he thought would help his case. As the perpetrator was high school drop out with a GED he wasn't fooling any shrink.

But that's what Jeffrey Hunter tries to do in Brainstorm. Hunter is a top scientist working for billionaire industrialist Dana Andrews. Hunter one nights saves Anne Francis who is the wife of Andrews from a suicide attempt. Risks his own life to do it.

Andrews is a cruel and vicious man and Hunter falls for Francis. Like the way Barbara Stanwyck lures Fred MacMurray into her murder scheme, Francis gets entrapped in her scheme and goes one better in that Hunter thinks it's all his idea.

Like my GED case Hunter being a most educated man figures he can game the insanity defense system. He does to some extent, but the end results are not what he bargained for.

I was pleasantly surprised by this film, mainly because Dana Andrews was doing a lot of mediocre films at this point so I wasn't expecting much from Brainstorm. But I found it refreshingly original, written and directed by actor William Conrad who had a nice sense of style. Jeffrey Hunter was really great in the part of the luckless lead. Kudos also go to Viveca Lindfors as a consulting psychiatrist.

The scenes with Hunter in the insane asylum are really freaky and bizarre. I expected to see Olivia DeHavilland and Dr. Kick come in the ward. The scenes were right of The Snake Pit. Strother Martin is one of the patients and he's memorable too.

And the ending is one for the books. Definitely if you're a fan of any of the players I mentioned you should see this film.
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6/10
The last call for disco
15 January 2019
If you like 70s music than this is the film for you. Other than those BeeGees classics that were in Saturday Night Fever you'll hear just about every popular song going during the era. The producers must have spent a fortune getting the rights for the soundtracks.

The plot is something like St.Elmo's Fire and set about 10 years earlier than the release in 1998. Some affluent 20 somethings two women, Chloe Sevigny and Kate Beckinsale are headed for a night on the town. They get involved with four guys at one point or another Chris Eigerman, Matt Keeslar, Mackenzie Astin, and Robert Sean Leonard. All them newly minted adults who haven't quite figured it out yet.

Eigerman's character was interesting. He's a general all around fixer/handyman at the club whose job is in danger because the right kind who might not fit into the elite it caters to keep getting in. He's really rather clueless but lovable in a strange way.

David Thornton who is a semi-regular on Law And Order, SVU as a sleazy defense attorney plays the equally sleazy club owner. He's got his hands in all kinds of illegality and Eigerman is the cause of his downfall when he shows Matt Keeslar what Thornton is up to. Keeslar has the job to make it stick and unwittingly brings about the end of this Studio 54 type club.

I did kind of like the ending. You could almost that Irving Berlin song from another era, The Song Is Ended, but the melody lingers on in that surreal finale on a subway.

For you aging hustle dancers The Last Days Of Disco is for you.
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Bonanza: Death at Dawn (1960)
Season 1, Episode 32
6/10
Why no jury trial?
15 January 2019
Before Ray Teal became sheriff in Virginia City there was a lot of lawlessness and it had an organized protection racket headed by Robert Middleton one of the mine owners. In its early days there was a lot more emphasis on mining which was why Virginia City was founded.

In any event Nancy Dealle's husband resisited and one of Middleton's thugs, Gregory Walcott just shot him down. Both Dan Blocker and Michael Landon were witnesses and testify as such.

For the life of me I don't know why Walcott didn't ask for a jury trail. He's one hateful lout of a human being, but you would think Middleton could intimidate enough for at least a hung jury.

So in a bench trial he's convicted and he's scheduled to hang promptly. But Middleton and his gang grab Ben Cartwright and threaten to hang him if Walcott swings.

It's here where the Cartwright sons themselves have have a disagreement over what to do. Some fine acting and dialog between Adam, Hoss, and Little Joe.

A good story to wrap season one of Bonanza.
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6/10
Star Wars back story film
14 January 2019
Young Alden Ehrenreich steps into the large shoes of Harrison Ford as we learn about the iconic character Han Solo's beginning, including how he teamed up with a Wookie.

Without disturbing the elements of the three classic Star Wars films that George Lucas did, the Disney company seems determined to explore and dare I say it, exploit the Star Wars franchise since they acquired the rights.

As we saw when we met Han Solo way back in the day he's a guy who's no better than he ought to be, making a living with a little honest smuggling and piracy. In this case he comes under the tutelage of a master criminal played by Woody Harrelson.

Ehrenreich goes out on a job with Harrelson to steal coaxium, a much in demand hyper fuel which will put anything that flies into warp drive or is that that other science fiction franchise? It doesn't go as planned, but during the course of things Han Solo now makes the acquaintance of his lifelong sidekick Chewbacca.

Lando Kalrissian played here by Donald Glover is another guy no better than he ought and he and Solo hit it off. Even before we reach the time of the Star Wars prime films, these two will do much business together.

Ron Howard with both the characters and the spirit of Star Wars does a nice job in keeping the saga going. No doubt Disney will do more back story type films in the future.
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Perry Mason: The Case of the Badgered Brother (1963)
Season 7, Episode 12
5/10
Those battling Baylors
14 January 2019
Robert Harland is one of those battling Baylor brothers who is Perry Mason's client in this episode. Harland and his brother Peter Walker are the heirs of the Baylor Department store although control is in Walker's hands. And he's got a few schemes out there to force his brother out of the business.

These two are from Cain and Abel school of brotherhood and its Harland who is charged when Walker is stabbed to death with some scissors. As usual there are a host of alternatives as Walker was a rather ruthless character in his business and personal life.

I will say this I hope the real murderer either gets Raymond Burr as ab attorney or one as good. The victim here is a real snake.
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Midnight Mary (1933)
6/10
Striving for respectability
14 January 2019
Loretta Young stars in Midnight Mary which opens with her on trial for murder. During a recess she thinks back on her life which was a pretty rough one and how she got to this point with District Attorney Frank Conroy asking for the death penalty.

Young is a girl from the wrong side of the tracks and every time she strove for respectability she got slapped back. She has two men in her life gangster Ricardo Cortez who is suave and dangerous and playboy lawyer Franchot Tone who MGM once again was putting in white tie and tails.

You know this is a pre-code film because at one point Loretta Young is shown to be in an undisguised brothel. Such places later on were only hinted at, never shown.

Such gangster regulars as Harold Huber and Warren Hymer are part of Cortez's mob. Andy Devine has a part as a kind of sidekick to Tone. But the best support in Midnight Mary comes from Una Merkel as a wisecracking easy come, easy go sort of gal.

Both Loretta Young and her two leading men are shown to great advantage in Midnight Mary. A good one for fans of all three to enjoy.
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Stagecoach (1986 TV Movie)
6/10
A quartet of legends
13 January 2019
The iconic characters of Ernest Haycox's Stage To Lordsburg is given yet another remake with four country/western legends in the cast. Kris Kristofferson is the Ringo Kid, with Johnny Cash as the US Marshal, Willie Nelson is Doc Holiday, and Waylon Jennings as the gambler Hatfield. It's not the desert poetical version that John Ford made, but this can hold its own.

As you can see the doctor on the trip is the famous true life Doc Holiday instead of the inebriated former Union Army surgeon that Thomas Mitchell won an Oscar playing in the first version. There are other plot changes as well.

However without the showdown of Ringo Kid with Luke Plummer and the Apache attack on the moving coach this would not be Stagecoach and rest assured it is most definitely included. They are staged well if different from the 1939 and 1966 versions.

Others in the cast are John Schneider as the driver and he's not the comic figure that Andy Devine was. Anthony Newley is the whiskey salesman and Anthony Franciosa is the banker Gatewood who makes a very sudden decision to travel just as in the original.

The women are Elizabeth Ashley as Dallas the saloon girl and Mary Crosby plays the pregnant army captain's wife Mrs. Mallory. Her father Bing Crosby was Doc Boone in the 1966 remake.

The quartet of legends makes this one really work.
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5/10
Cheap satire of monster pictures
13 January 2019
Watching Monster In A Closet I'd say the film hit about 60% of the time with gags it employed in this film. But I warn you had better have seen a lot of classic science fiction about monsters coming to earth or being discovered here already or you won't get half of what is shown.

I think about half the budget must have been spent on getting some name guest stars to do their thing and support the two less than charismatic leads Donald Grant and Denise Dubarry. But when you get folks like Claude Akins as the redneck sheriff, Henry Gibson as an eccentric scientist, Stella Stevens as a woman in a shower, Jesse White as a hardboiled newspaper editor, Howard Duff as a rather vacuous priest, and John Carradine who is one of the first victims this becomes an item to take a look at.

I really liked what Howard Duff did with the priest. He must have watched Alec Guinness did with his vicar character in Kind Hearts And Coronets.

You even get to see young Paul Walker make his screen debut as a genius kid everyone calls the Professor.

You'll recognize so many moments from some classic monster films, I dare not tell you.
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The Lion Man (1936)
3/10
Tarzan of the desert
13 January 2019
The original story that inspired The Lion Man was written by Edgar Rice Burroughs and it certainly has some of the same plot premise that his Tarzan character has. The young boy is the son of British explorer Eric Snowden who is the only survivor of a massacre in the desert by a treacherous Arab sheik Ted Adams. Raised by a jungle mystic among a pride of lions he grows up to be Jon Hall.

I suppose Edgar Rice Burroughs counted himself fortunate that his Tarzan series was originally picked up by MGM that Tiffany of studios. This was a cheaply made independent with scant production values and little direction for the human players.

Too bad Burroughs got the short shrift in this cheapie.
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Bonanza: Dark Star (1960)
Season 1, Episode 31
5/10
To the Cartwrights a witch
12 January 2019
One of the stranger episodes in Bonanza's history has Michael Landon getting involved with a banished gypsy girl he finds on the Ponderosa. She runs from him when they first meet and trips and hits her head. When she wakes up she declares herself a witch and she's an outcast from her tribe who happen to be squatting on the Ponderosa.

If one is thinking strictly with one's hormones then you can certainly understand Little Joe's interest in Susan Harrison. But even he's not that much a tool of his male member.

Some funny scenes take place between tribe leader Hugo Haas and the Cartwrights when he tries to sell them some inferior horse flesh. Fortunately Lorne Greene and Dan Blocker are up to all his tricks.

I wish the whole episode had been done as light as these scenes were.
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Profiles in Courage: Robert A. Taft (1965)
Season 1, Episode 8
7/10
History's most hated
12 January 2019
There were many reasons why Robert A. Taft never got his party's presidential nomination. But surely he did whatever chance he had no good by speaking out against the Nuremberg Trials and the unprecedented punishments meted out to Nazi leaders.

There really was no precedent for what was done, the allied powers were making it up as they went along. As for our constitution it does say you cannot punish someone for breaking a law that hasn't passed yet.

But these folks were among history's most hated and Taft did his White House ambitions no good. But it got him into John F. Kennedy's Profiles In Courage and an episode on the series.

Lee Tracy looks and even sounds a bit like Bob Taft. Check newsreels an you'll agree. It's a good episode from a series that ought to be out on DVD.
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7/10
Captive in Greenpoint
12 January 2019
The north tip neighborhood of Greenpoint turns out to be the scene of unimaginable horror as an abandoned young Xander Franco starts the SVU squad on a case to locate his family. Basically he's a truly undocumented child, there are no records of him anywhere.

The kid is traced to a home in Brooklyn where it is discovered that two other women have been locked up in that house for years. Agatha Nowicki had been snatched from a parochial school when she was about 7. Angela Christian was the perfect beaten and battered spouse, a textbook case.

This is Mariska Hargitay's first return to the job since being held captive by Pablo Schreiber. It's real up in the air as to how she's handling the pressure.

As for the one responsible, the most frightening thing about Michael Massee is his very ordinariness. He could be anyone's next door neighbor including mine.

How he's tracked down is for you to watch this fine episode to see.
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Florence Nightingale (1985 TV Movie)
6/10
A life of service
11 January 2019
Although I might not have thought of former Charley's Angel Jaclyn Smith as my choice for Florence Nightingale, Smith does a nice job in the role. She joins Kay Francis and Anna Neagle who had gone before her playing The Lady with a lamp.

Florence Nightingale quite early on was determined that she would not lead the life of a Jane Austen type Victorian woman. Learn needlepoint and wait for a good match for a husband. And make the best of it if the match ain't so good.

She wanted a life of service and she went to Germany to learn nursing. She went to work in the Crimean War resisted by the military establishment, partly because it was foreign ideas she was espousing and mostly because she was a woman.

Nevertheless she persisted and her ideas on hospital care and nursing care are so standard today they seem obvious. Still a battle had to be fought and won.

In the male cast members to Timothys stand out. Timothy Dalton plays her fiance Richard Milnes whom she painfully rejects for her nursing mission. The other is Timothy West playing William Russell of the London Times whose reporting from the Crimea made her a national heroine. His is a life that a movie could be made from.

Jaclyn Smith joins Kay Francis and Anna Neagle in portraying Florence Nightingale beautifully and well.
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4/10
The twin princesses of Crete
11 January 2019
After having seen The Minotaur I'm surprised that no one recognized the plot elements from Alessandre Dumas's Man In The Iron Mask. Maybe there was no mask for Rosanna Schiaffino to wear, but she plays the twin princesses of Crete as both good and evil.

The star of this peplum epic is Bob Mathias two time decathlon champion and he gets to show off some of the prowess that got him that gold. He's a visiting prince from Greece who rescued good twin Schiaffino where she's been brought up by peasants to keep her safe from the Minotaur. He's one nasty looking 7 foot tall dude with the head of an American bison and teeth like a shark. Virgins are sacrificed regularly to him and royal virgins are his special delicacy.

Evil Schiaffino has overthrown dad with her boyfriend Alberto Lupo and they run things. Mathias as Prince Theseus from Athens is our hero.

I kind of liked the makeup done for the Minotaur. It's not Ray Corrigan in a gorilla suit, some care went into the creation of the beast.

Nothing too special in this peplum. It's a combination of the myth of the Minotaur with the plot The Man In The Iron Mask. Take it fromm there.
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The Mule (2018)
7/10
Just a few extra bucks
11 January 2019
The 88 year old Clint Eastwood who apparently has enough wits about him to keep a driver's license decides at the suggestion of a guest at his daughter's wedding to do some driving for friends who will pay him well, very well. It's only after a few trips that retired horticulturalist Eastwood realizes its drugs he's hauling and he's making too much money now to quit. In fact he's pulled himself out of some serious debt and bequeathing gifts all around.

Being the devil's advocate you got to say that drug dealers are ingenious in terms of finding new methods of smuggling. Who would expect a super senior citizen who is a few years would probably have his license lifted to be a drug mule. I say that because two of my uncles at Eastwood's age had their driver's licenses lifted by the State of New York. But while they were still driving no drug cop or any other kind would have given him a second look.

Which what happens to DEA agent Bradley Cooper and other law enforcement when they come across Eastwood. But the wiretaps that the DEA has gives them chatter about someone who is becoming legendary for the weight he is delivering.

The Mule is a bittersweet picture about old age and Clint Eastwood drew a lot from his own life and others to give us this portrayal. I should also single out Dianne Wiest who plays his estranged ex-wife and mother of his daughter who loves him, but can't stand his irresponsible ways.

What I love about this film is that we leave Eastwood doing exactly what he was doing as the film opened only in a different location. And he has a degree of security he never had before.

Watch the film to see what I'm talking about. God willing Clint may be acting and directing himself in his 90s.
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8/10
They're coming to America
10 January 2019
I saw America America way back when I was a teen and had not seen it since till today. I was surprised at how much I remembered of it. It was like reliving tales told by my grandparents and some of their siblings of their immigration stories.

In this case this was fashioned tales of Elia Kazan's parents and their siblings woven together to create an immigrant story. It's not pretty at times and the black and white cinematography accents the harshness of the experience.

Kazan's protagonist is young Stathis Giallelis and a few familiar character actors are in the cast. No box office names though to accent the reality of the story. Giallelis is a Greek in Turkish Anatolia, a place where during the Ottoman Empire persecuting Greeks and Armenians was a national pasttime. Not that persecution led to any kind of solidarity, the two minorities had it in for each other as much as the Turks.

Giallelis hears of America, a fabled land where this sort of organized persecution and permanent status at the bottom of society doesn't happen. He resolves to go, but his family only sends him as far as Istanbul (as Greeks they still call it Constantinople)to help out one of the relatives.

He hears the fare is 110 English pounds and one way or another he's going.

The last 15 minutes or so is when Giallelis arrives and there's a compelling montage of immigrants including our protagonist doing all kinds of menial jobs that we who are here won't do. It's no different today with the current folks who want to come here, the ones our current administration is bent on scapegoating for its own purposes. Look folks, that montage tells more than the Kazan family story. it's your story or mine unless you were born an American Indian.

And speaking for the Kogans, Lucyshyns, Scrobacks, and Fleischmans, I'm glad Elia Kazan made America America and told the tale.
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