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Canned Corn
20 October 2019
I really wanted to leave the theater several time during the premiere of this cornball turkey, but I stayed till the bitter end. I was not scared; I was not repulsed; I was annoyed. Grand guignol histrionics, laughable dialogue ("fava beans" indeed), impossible plot holes, and as mismatched a pair of leads as one could imagine, made this a tedious experience. And the idiocy of a main character whose parents named him Hannibal and he just happens to grow up to become a cannibal. Really? Sounds like an idea Chester Gould would have discarded as corny and unbelievable.

While Jodie Foster displays no personality at all, Anthony Hopkins gives an outrageously hammy performance that would make Donald Pleasence wince. In fact, Hannibal Lector eats so much scenery in this film, how could he possibly have any room left for people?

The reaction to this dog after I saw it was truly amazing - and very depressing. As far as I am concerned, the Oscars™ have always been beneath contempt, so when this celluloid Necco wafer won several gilded statuettes, I was not surprised. But I am still depressed that it is considered by many to be a classic. Feh!
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A Great Documentary for Yokels
10 September 2018
Fifty years ago or so, I read a letter-to-the-editor in Playboy that went something like this: "Playboy is a magazine for yokels." Even though I was a subscriber, I sort of knew what the correspondent meant. There was something cheesy about the hip bachelor image that Hefner lived and espoused. Despite the great stories by Jean Shepard, the beautiful Vargas paintings, and the lovely naked girls-next-door, it struck me that the Playboy Philosophy was just too damned cornball in the end. The nighttime TV series "Playboy Penthouse" which aired around the same time was equally corny, what with the thirty-plus aged men in their Nehru jackets and medallions pretending to enjoy watching Spanky and Our Gang lip-synching a pop tune.

This puff-piece of a documentary is just as cheesy, just as corny, as the magazine was back then and would continue to be as the years progressed. "Entertainment for Yokels" should be the motto of the magazine and it sure would apply to this silly (albeit entertaining) film.
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A.K.A. Gibson Guitar Odyssey
27 April 2017
The title may be considered misleading in that it tends to conceal the fact that all the guitars displayed in this documentary are Gibsons. (A few Rickenbackers and Fenders can be seen in the background during concert footage.) Be that as it may, this is a very good film thanks to the interviews with a wide variety of guitar pickers (see cast list) telling all about their love of the instrument and their influences. Excerpts from concerts add to the experience. I watched this in the comfort of my living room, holding a Gibson SG Junior — so what do I have to complain about?
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Laramie: The Lost Dutchman (1961)
Season 2, Episode 18
The Maltese Spur
8 September 2015
Warning: Spoilers
"The Lost Dutchman" is a re-working of Dashiell Hammett's "The Maltese Falcon". Robert Fuller's Jess Harper plays the Sam Spade role with Robert Emhardt as the Fat Man. Karen Steele's version of the femme fatale is stimulating viewing. The trouble begins when George Lake (Rayford Barnes) double-crosses Slim Sherman (John Smith) on a cattle-buying deal. Slim is stopped from brawling with Lake by Jess's interference, but moments later, when Lake is shot dead, Slim becomes the obvious suspect and is jailed pending trial and inevitable hanging. It becomes Jess's duty to prove Slim's innocence. Lake's widow, Steele, plays the wide-eyed innocent and Jess is taken in by her — at first. George Kaymas is the trigger-happy Clint Moccasin, a moronic psychopath in the Wilmer Cook tradition. Francis J McDonald, in the Captain Jacoby spot, dies at the hand of the lethal Mary Lake. Like Sam Spade, Jess is slipped a Mickey and later turns Steele's character over to the police (the town Sheriff played by Robert Armstrong). The McGuffin in this story is a silver spur which is supposed to have a map to the Lost Dutchman's gold mine hidden inside it. It is no surprise when it turns out to be a phony. The changes to the original story are just sufficient to make this episode legal and comparing "The Lost Dutchman" to "The Maltese Falcon" is a lot of fun.
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The Best Home Movie Ever
22 December 2014
Disneyland Dream is a surprisingly engaging home movie about a visit to Disneyland, Anaheim, in 1956, by the wonderfully American Barstow family. Robbins Barstow's narration (from 1995) is better than competent and he handles the camera much more skillfully than your average amateur. The best thing about the home movie is the view we have of mid-1950s America: the clothing and customs, pre-jet airline travel, side trips to Universal Studios, Santa Catalina Island, Hollywood Boulevard, and Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park. Living in Orange County, I have been to Disneyland countless times in the last 55 years and it is a thrill to see what it looked like a couple of years before my first visit.
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Adam-12: The Princess and the Pig (1972)
Season 4, Episode 15
Bobby Hill rides along with Pete Malloy!
17 February 2013
Fans of both Hill Street Blues and Adam-12 will get a kick out of seeing Mike Warren (Hill Street's Bobby Hill) as an enthusiastic rookie riding shotgun with Pete Malloy while Jim Reed is on an undercover caper. Ten years later, Warren, by then a seasoned cop, would ride shotgun with Charles Haid (as Andy Renko) for several seasons on Hill Street Blues.

This episode features Leslie Charleson, the "Pearl Drops" girl, as a strung-out pop singer being troubled by drug dealers. There is some real sexual tension between Charleson and McCord, though it's no spoiler to tell you that Reed keeps his hands to himself.

"The Princess and the Pig" is an exciting and suspenseful episode. Look for Bobby Troup in a sinister role.
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