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Boulder Wham! (1965)
7/10
Canyon fodder
27 April 2001
Of Rudy Larriva's Roadrunners, "Boulder Wham!" has the best story. The gags are well set up with uncommonly good suspense-building, and the hypnotism sequence works especially well.

Unfortunately, the Coyote's many canyon falls are repetitive and poorly animated due to the film's low budget (each Larriva Roadrunner cost only $18,000). Fortunately, the animators devised some funny expressions and poses. The result is a cartoon which is no match for Chuck Jones's Roadrunners but may pleasantly surprise those who've endured other 1965-9 Warner's cartoons.
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Hungry? Take a train! (Spoiler)
9 April 2001
Warning: Spoilers
"The Black Scorpion" is a howl with its drooling monsters, bad dubbing and out-of-place romantic subplot. But it has many scary moments thanks to the shadowy lighting (especially effective inside the cavern) and stop-motion animation which belies the film's budgetary constraints. And yes...that train turns out to be one long snack bar.

-Tony
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Of action and tragedy
17 April 2000
"The Great Escape" is a rousing blend of suspense, action and ultimately tragedy, bolstered by an all-star cast, terrific music and beautiful European locations. A few fellow reviewers have cited the unbelievably "pristine" prison conditions, but the German authorities did try to uphold the Geneva Convention for Western Allied POWs. The characters in this film left their well-run 'stalag' anyway, and many paid the ultimate price. While entertaining its viewers, "The Great Escape" effectively depicted the tragic consequences.

-Tony
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"You know who I am, don't you?"
5 December 1999
"White Lightning" is the quintessential Burt Reynolds action movie, well directed in a lush, mid-southern USA setting. Burt plays Gator McClusky, who takes on the evil Sheriff Connors (Ned Beatty, in an effectively hissable performance). The talented supporting cast includes Bo Hopkins, Louise Latham, Diane Ladd, and the beady-eyed R. G. Armstrong. The cars are fast and "the good die young."

-Tony
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"Today's yo' lucky day, Jim!"
4 December 1999
The cucumber-cool Roger Moore makes his debut as Bond and handles the often-corny dialogue better than any other 007 player in the series would have. You just love to groan at some of his bad puns. There's plenty of action and the motor vehicles, boats and 'planes don't exactly get returned in mint condition. The supporting cast is very entertaining, especially Yaphett Kotto, Geoffrey Holder (famous at the time for his 7-Up ads, like the 'Uncola Nuts' spot), Clifton James (peppery!), Julius "Tee Hee" Harris, and Arnold Williams (as a "Bonded Driver").

-Tony
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Has the Pepper, but needs salt!
29 November 1999
"The Man With The Golden Gun" is slickly crafted in lush tropical settings, backed by John Barry's music and by the two best villains (Christopher Lee, Herve Villechaize) in 10 years. Whenever Lee is onscreen, we get the feeling that a smart, "From Russia With Love"- type thriller might emerge from this uneven and ultimately unsatisfying film. Britt Ekland's work here ranges from mediocre to awful; she's one of the weakest Bond heroines. The naked swimmer named "Chew Me" doesn't really belong here. And J.W. Pepper is totally out of place in what is little more than an American Motors plug (look what happened to THAT car maker).
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It's cold!
21 September 1999
"Deadly Harvest" was made at a time when the Earth's climate was thought to be cooling due to a sun-blocking shroud of pollution. The film takes this premise to a setting in which winter begins in August! The world's food supply is almost gone and the social order is breaking down.

Unfortunately, this film mostly comes across as just another cheap, violent 'tax shelter' ripoff. Walker is wooden (and his wood is weaker than usual) as the heroic farmer, while Persoff is inappropriately hammy as the arch-villain. Geraint Wyn-Davies of later "Forever Knight" fame had yet to show talent here.

The film does take on a haunting quality near the end as it tours a frozen, near-deserted Toronto and witnesses a family's last meal.

-Tony
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Not a razzberry, but not a recommendation either.
10 February 1999
"Run, Run, Sweet Road Runner" marked Rudy Larriva's directorial debut at Warner's (he directed a few Mr. Magoo shorts at UPA in the 1950's). Larriva also did the story, which is dominated by two slow, elaborate set-pieces. First, the Coyote erects a series of signs which lead to a bowl of bird seed shaded by covered spikes. But he leaves his binoculars where they focus the sun's rays on the rope which suspends the potentially lethal device. Then he disguises a lightning rod as a female Road Runner, and does a rain dance to attract a thunderstorm. Lightning strikes the disguised rod, which is caressed by the bird, but nothing happens. The Coyote summons another bolt, and gets it. This film isn't repellently tedious, but fails to provide the fast, funny entertainment of earlier Road Runner cartoons.

-Tony
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The Miracle of Kathy Miller (1981 TV Movie)
8/10
A definite recommendation
3 February 1999
"The Miracle Of Kathy Miller" is based on a true story. 13-year-old Kathy remained in a coma for seven weeks after being struck by a car. She lost half her body weight and almost all of her pre-accident abilities. Her recovery began in May 1977 and was only partially complete six months later, but it was enough to run and finish a very trying marathon.

This film is much better than most triumph-over-tragedy stuff at portraying the difficult process, for patient and family alike, of recovery from coma. Just two quibbles: The rehabilitation staff gets short shrift, and a school dance scene where Kathy's friends make fun of her rings false. Fortunately, Helen Hunt is excellent as the crippled but determined Kathy Miller.

-Tony
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Exiled (1998 TV Movie)
7/10
SPOILERS Mixed feelings.
24 November 1998
Warning: Spoilers
"Exiled" could be thought of as a vanity project for Chris Noth, who co-wrote the story and was present as Detective Mike Logan in almost every scene. The results are uneven and not up to the usual "Law & Order" standards, although this would have been an above-average crime drama 10 or more years ago. The story has a 'spur-of-the-moment' feel (the detectives fail to wear gloves when examining a bloody crime scene) which at times makes the film look like an old episode of "Hunter" or "T.J. Hooker". Dabney Coleman is almost wasted as Logan's boss, being barely a notch above the stereotypical antagonistic superior. Noth is wooden in some scenes, good in others (especially when his Mike Logan is with old colleagues). The denouement rings true, as Logan leaves his old precinct in sorrow after exposing a corrupt buddy (well played by John Fiore) and later sees the murder victim's sister (who he appeared to be romancing) for the last time . Noth the actor/storyteller, like Logan the cop, wasn't perfect, but ended up getting jobs done.

Tony
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8/10
Enjoy!
24 November 1998
"War and Pieces" was the last classic Road Runner short and director Chuck Jones evidently knew that the studio was about to close, as he began this film with a slow-motion/freeze frame technique similar to the earliest of the series. Jones followed this with his typical fast, fine comic timing, supported by beautifully stylized backdrops. Caninus Nervous Rex (Coyote) is blasted, dropped, dunked, pressed, shot, run down, and sent clear through to China as he tries to catch that bird.
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