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How Sweet It Is!
23 January 2003
This is a great documentary on the Great One none the less!

Hosted and narrated by John Candy, Teri Garr, John Larroquette, and Art Carney, this program shows Gleason in his heyday on and off the camera. The rarely seen footage is a treat as well as the sampling of outtakes and bloopers from the Golden Age of TV.

This documentary was one of the first programs I ever recorded off television.
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Fail Safe (2000 TV Movie)
Close... but not the original!
10 April 2000
What would happen if a mechanical failure triggered World War III?

On April 9, 2000, CBS broadcast "Fail-Safe" live; the first live broadcast on CBS in 31 years. After being introduced by Walter Cronkite (who had the only flub of the evening), we watched a good remake of the original movie made in 1964.

However, it was clear from the outset, the multi-talented cast were going thru the lines in hopes of not screwing up and left their acting skills on the back burner for the moment. Many of the lines were rushed, spoken without little emotion, leaving the focus of the broadcast on its live aspect.

The only urgency from the cast was from not screwing up instead of mistakenly bombing the Soviet Union. There are many comparisons one can make from the original 1964 film here. Which cast was better, which film had the better direction, etc. However, the tension that gripped the original film was clearly lacking in the live 2000 version; an element that would have improved it immensely.

This was a good film with good performances. It was live. And that's how "Fail-Safe" will come across.
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The Oscar (1966)
Watch this one around Academy Award time for greater (?) effect!
4 March 2000
The Academy Award. The Oscar. Hollywood's token of prestige and honor. Many try for it. Many fail. Some succeed. A lot of films have been made about the Oscars. Some good. Some bad. This one is completely off the map!

This movie is the story of an actor up for an Oscar. Sounds simple right? That's what the name says on the movie poster. We then spend the entire movie watching his slow struggle to the top, going through the ranks, overcoming adversity, and finally achieving the nomination. Sounds pretty good, yes?

But when your hero is Stephen Boyd, an actor who majored in overacting and vein-popping, when the script uses every movie cliche in the book, when the directing is at best horrible, you're in for a rough voyage.

Throw in Milton Berle as Boyd's agent and it gets ugly. Uncle Miltie plays it straight, trying to garner a real Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. An hour into this movie, you're praying Berle will dress in drag just to lighten things up. His whole performance screams "Nominate Me!"

However, this movie was doomed when Tony Bennett was given the role of Boyd's best friend/narrator of the film. This was Tony's only starring role and after 10 seconds, you'll know why. Acting just wasn't his forte. Bennett remains emotionless and motionless when others speak in the film. But when his cue comes up, you can see the twinkle in his eye, his arms flail, and he delivers the line. He wisely stuck to his day job after this movie.

Look for Hedda Hopper in this film, just months before she died.
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My personal favorite of Hitchcock's films!
4 March 2000
It's all too simple really. Hitchcock used this plot device before in many of his films; the innocent man caught up in circumstances beyond his control ("The Wrong Man", "The Man Who Knew Too Much"). However, never will you see Hitchcock use this device more cleverly and stylishly as in "North By Northwest."

Cary Grant plays the innocent man like, well, Cary Grant. Add James Mason as the villain (Mason has a great voice... close your eyes sometimes when watching...chilling!), Martin Landau as his henchman, and Eva Marie Saint as the cool blonde equals a great film.

What other Hitchcock film can boast of not one but two famous suspense scenes? Cary Grant being chased down by a dustcropper will be talked about and studied in film schools for years to come. The chase across Mt. Rushmore is a perfect way to climax the film as well...

There are smaller things to look for too. Watch for the famous kid in the snack shop who covers his ears seconds before a gun is shot and why did Hitchcock use THAT image over "The End"??? Hehehe...
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10 February 2000
I am a James Bond fanatic. I own all the films on video. During my film school days, I sponsored a "James Bond" film fest. I told my wife she MUST be a James Bond fan before we could marry. I introduced her to the films and she is now a Bond fan.

My favorite Bond will always be Sean Connery.

My favorite film will always be "On Her Majesty's Secret Service".

"That film with that Australian actor as Bond? Telly Savalas as Blofeld?"

That's the usual reaction I get when I mention that. But this film has a lot going for it. When Connery left the series before this film began production, the film's producer, Albert Broccoli, knew he was in trouble. The next film could make or break the future of the Bond films.

He knew he couldn't get anyone remotely close to Connery as a new Bond. So he found an unknown, George Lazenby, to play the role. Broccoli knew this film would sink or swim on its assets: the plot, special effects, gadgets, the Bond girls, the music, battle scenes, and the locations.

Boy did he succeed! This film has the BEST of all of the above! The plot is the standout. While James Bond, master spy and savior of the world, battles the forces of evil, he also shows us he is human by falling in love with Diana Rigg (a great choice for a Bond film!).

Many people have passed over this film because it doesn't have a Bond named Connery, Moore, or Brosnan. Lazenby does a decent job as Bond but lacks the refinement and polish of the others. Still, watch this film and imagine what Sean, Roger, or Pierce could have done with the role. It ranks with any of their best Bond roles and stands as the best film of the whole lot.
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Magical Mystery Tour (1967 TV Movie)
My favorite Beatles film!
10 February 2000
Magical Mystery Tour was the first project by the Beatles after the death of their manager and it shows. This film is disorganized, cluttered, plotless, psychadelic, over the top, and represents perfectly what the Beatles were living through at that present time.

And that's what film is all about.

Like "A Hard Day's Night" a mere three years earlier which captured a day in the life of the Beatles, this film shows what the Beatles were living and experiencing then. Imagine it: you're a famous British rock star who captured the world with Beatlemania, you're on your own now, you're watching and helping shape pop culture around the world, you're sampling the sexual, drug, and youth revolutions of 1967, and you want to capture it on film.

The Beatles tried to do that with this film and it's hit and miss. But where else will you see a performance of "I Am The Walrus"? You can see where each of the Beatles were heading: John wrote the spaghetti dream sequence and was in real life deeply into surrealism. George plays "Blue Jay Way" and his Indian mysticism comes through. Paul contributes "The Fool On The Hill" and supervised the film shoot. Ringo is giving the acting job in the film and went on to star in other 1960s films such as "Candy" and "The Magic Christian".

Many people have dismissed this film as a failure and a mess. Watch through the eyes of the Beatles and it's not so bad after all. When I first screened this movie, I watched it at least six times trying to find out the plot, etc. I failed but had fun watching it. And that's the whole point.
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One of the best!
10 February 2000
This is no lie: I have seen "The Great Race" over 500 times and I find myself laughing harder every time I re-watch it.

Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis plays rival in the first ever New York to Paris road race in the early days of auto travel. Throw in Natalie Wood as a sufferagette, Keenen Wynn as Curtis's right hand man, and Peter Falk, who almost steals the movie, as Lemmon's right hand man and you've got a great comedy.

Throw in Blake Edwards as director and you've got a classic.

There are so many moments in this film that it must be viewed to be believed. Car chases, pie fights, swordplay, romance, drama, and belly laughs abound.

"Push the button, Max!"
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My favorite Elvis movie!
10 February 2000
If you've ever thought of renting or buying an Elvis Presley movie musical and never figured out which one to start with, look no further. This is your typical Elvis movie: cheesy plot, great songs, boy meets girl, boy woos girl, boy wins girl, boy loses girl over boy's occupation, boy wins race, and boy wins girl again!

Elvis meets Ann-Margret in Fun Town, U.S.A. (as the movie trailer claims) and woos her while trying to beat his rival in the big race.

The songs are great; highlights include "What I'd Say?", "Viva Las Vegas", "Appreciation", and Today, Tomorrow, And Forever" which was played at my wedding!

This movie introduced me to Ann-Margret. She is the only woman in this solar system I would leave my wife for in a second.

One scene to pay attention to: William Demerest plays Ann-Margret's father who watches her daughter bump and grind during a Vegas talent show. After the number, watch his reactions... a totally mind blowing moment for an Elvis film.
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Hey Louis! Hey Keely!
8 February 2000
Like another commenter, I too saw this on AMC (a million thanks AMC!). However, I wasn't disappointed! When viewing "drive-in" movies of the 1950s and early 1960s, one shouldn't look for great acting or redeeming messages. Watch this for the performances of great artists such as Louis Prima and Keely Smith! Where else will you see the famed duo singing "Hey Boy! Hey Girl!" or to see Sam Butera and the Witnesses wail! I admit this is a cheesy movie and acting skills are mediocre at best. But when they stop acting and play songs, the movie immediately comes to life and for a brief moment, you are watching legends at work. Give it a shot and swing!
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The perfect 1960s film!
26 January 2000
The President's Analyst is a rare film; one that captures (and mocks) the era in which it was filmed in. It has references to hippies, the Cold War, 60's rock music, politics (nationally, internationally, and suburban), spies, psychoanalysis, race relations, and a tip of the hat to James Bond a la James Coburn (Our Man Flint no less!).

Like Citizen Kane, this movie deserves several viewings to pick up on all of the mentioned topics. And also like Citizen Kane, you will find something new everytime. For instance, James Coburn is fleeing from would be captors and runs by a movie theater. The marquee reads "No Running".

See for yourself... You'll never answer the phone the same...
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Little Voice (1998)
i am in love with jane horrocks after watching this film!
10 January 2000
i always knew jane horrocks was funny when i watched her in all those "absolutely fabulous" episodes. but i fell in love with her after watching "little voice" and her outstanding performance as "l.v.". if you haven't seen the film, i won't spoil it for you. for those who have, i want to share this: my 87 yr. old grandmother was resting in our guest room when i was watching the film. she came in mid-way and asked what judy garland film i was watching. she was taken in as well! we rewound the tape and spent the afternoon watching the film. my grandmom said "she's a dead ringer for them all..." high praise indeed!
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