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The Enforcer (1976)
More lighter in tone, but still fun
This is often considered to be the weakest of the Dirty Harry series, but it does still manage to deliver action and violence. Having just completed The Outlaw Josey Wales, Clint Eastwood had plans to direct The Enforcer himself, but instead gave James Fargo a chance in the director's chair. Fargo had worked as an assistant director on many of Clint's previous films, as well as on Steven Spielberg's Duel and The Sugarland Express. Fargo was blown away, but kind of hesitant to take on the job.
Fargo's account of the story really pay off in this third entry of the series. An entertaining rooftop chase, a shootout at the famous Alcatraz prison, and more character development of Harry Callahan. This time, he is teamed with an eager beaver police woman Inspector Kate Moore (Tyne Daly), an idea Harry is not warming up to. The characters really shine through, we see a final portrayal of Harry's comic-relief, but tough-as-nails partner Frank DiGorgio (played by John Mitchum) and the smarmy, no-nonsense Captain McKay (Bradford Dillman), who Harry strongly dislikes. Harry Guardino also reprises his role as Lt. Bressler from the first film, but Guardino really isn't given much to do than serve as yes-man for McKay and trading quips with Harry from his office. The script actually adds a lot of humor which was mostly absent from the first two films, including a man who fakes a heart attack in a restaurant to get a free meal and an ambulance ride and a random scene where Callahan stumbles upon a porno film crew is shooting a stag film inside an apartment.
All in all, this is still an entertaining sequel, even if it does play like a TV movie with some healthy doses of R-rated violence and nudity.
Dad Trap (2016)
Amusing spoof of a popular TV series
Those who are familiar with To Catch a Predator will love this short spoof of the popular TV show where host Hansen Dodge (Dan Sachoff) poses as the father of a girl whose boyfriend is planning to take her to a Homecoming game. Of course, things don't go as planned when the girl and her mother arrive home.
A Fool and His Honey (1952)
Vernon and Quillan do make a decent team
Another Jules White knockabout-fest where Eddie and Wally take great delight running around with other women (since Wally is married with a nagging wife), but eventually Wally comes to the conclusion that Eddie is out to steal his wife. From then on, a wild chase occur, but at the end, Wally eventually learns the truth that Eddie was actually talking about another woman.
A rather standard (plot-wise) short written by Felix Adler and featuring Jean Willes, Frank Sully, and Emil Sitka in a bit role.
What Makes Lizzy Dizzy? (1942)
Though Harry Langdon is teamed with Elsie Ames in this short, this one seems to be an unsold pilot for a new series of two-reelers featuring Ames and Dorothy Appleby. The two had already appeared together in shorts previously, but their own style of physical comedy does do the short justice. Elsie and Dorothy are employees of a laundry company who are enrolling into a bowling tournament against another business and are warned by their fussy boss (Lorin Raker) not to lose.
A subplot involves their detective boyfriends (Langdon and Monte Collins) trying to locate a mad bomber in the city. Sadly, the two aren't given much to do as this short is mostly a showcase for the girls.
General Nuisance (1941)
Another teaming of Buster and Elsie Ames
For some reason, Jules White had paired Buster Keaton in 6 of the 10 shorts he made at Columbia Pictures from 1939-41. Ames was a bizarre burlesque dancer/comedienne who had worked at the studio's shorts department, as well as her husband Nick Arno (who has a small role in this short as an army doctor). Essentially, Buster is a millionaire who is smitten with an army nurse (Dorothy Appleby) and does everything he can to get hurt on the premises so Appleby can treat him, but he's constantly running into her friend (Ames). On the plus, there is an outlandish amount of slapstick in this, including a song-and-dance number between Buster, Elsie, and a stack of spitoons.
Joyride to Nowhere (1977)
Poor script and execution
This muddled, obscure road drama/action film was barely released to theaters and for a good reason. It's a poorly shot movie with bad cinematography, editing, sound design, etc. The two leads are likable enough, but hardly pass them off as the film's heroes. Mel Welles (who had directed/starred in a number of classic B-movies in the '50s and '60s) can't really seem to gel the story too well. The movie starts out as a road drama where two young girls escape their broken families and head to Hollywood for stardom and. shortly after, turns into a crime thriller where they run into local gangster Tank McCall (Welles) whose Cadillac he owns contains $2,000,000 worth of stolen drugs. The girls escape his clutches and in his Cadillac where Tank's bumbling flunkies chase after them.
The car chases are staged rather flat and the secondary characters the girls always run into seem to be total perverts (especially a hotel clerk who tries to grope one of them). Could have been better, but just a total clunker.
Moonshine County Express (1977)
A TV-movie style actioner with good performances
A passable action film about three close sisters: Dot (Susan Howard), Betty (Claudia Jennings), and Sissy (Maureen McCormick). Since Dot is essentially the leader of the pack, she enlists the help of moonshine hot-rodder J.B. Johnson (John Saxon). They suspect local crime boss Jack Starkey (William Conrad) was responsible for their father's death. They receive no help from Sheriff Larkin (Albert Salmi), who is on Starkey's payroll, and must solve the mystery themselves. Morgan Woodward plays Starkey's henchman and Jeff Corey is the seemingly good-guy local preacher who is often seen swilling vodka from a bottle. Some decent car chases are thrown in, but the performances are good for a standard story.
I Can Hardly Wait (1943)
Dentistry at its finest
Another funny Stooges short where Curly suffers from a bad tooth and Moe and Larry do everything they can to extract it, to no avail. As a last resort, they drag a rattled Curly to the dentist, where he continues to resist pain. A lot of the tooth-pulling gags were redone in later Stooges shorts particularly Pardon My Clutch with Shemp. Curly's performance is spot on in this.
Woodchipper Massacre (1988)
The Brady Bunch conducted a chainsaw massacre?
Another amateurish late '80s SOV horror film filmed in rural Connecticut, which was based on a real-life incident, but this film is not to be taken seriously as it's essentially a sitcom with a horror-themed plot. Three kids are left at home when their father goes on a business trip and leaves them in the care of their vile, abusive aunt (played by writer-director Jon McBride's mother), when she is accidentally killed, the kids dispose of her body via a woodchipper and then have to deal with the aunt's loutish son who comes for a visit.
Okay for its weird theme, but nothing really special.
An oddball car crash marathon disguised as a horror film
One of Charles Band's early efforts is this low-budget horror opus about a young woman who is planning to be bumped off by his antique collector husband, who plants a mysterious device inside a Camaro to trigger a series of deadly, but breath-taking car crashes all over the city. Not much in the way of a plot, but it's nice to see old pro Jose Ferrer as the controlling husband and Sue Lyon as his young wife., plus John Carradine as the local doctor.
Blonde and Groom (1943)
Bizarre, but very clever comedy
Harry Langdon had starred in his own series of comedy shorts for Columbia from 1934 until his sudden death in October 1944 after filming had ended on the rather poor western-themed short Pistol Packin' Nitwits co-starring El Brendel. Langdon was a popular silent-screen comedian in the 1920s, on par with both Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd, but by the 1930s, Langdon was now considered a has-been in the comedy world and was reduced to making two-reelers for Educational Pictures and eventually Columbia.
Langdon was also given a chance to write this entry and direction is credited to the rather unreliable Harry Edwards, whose alcoholism and sloppy approach to direction was most notorious for. The rather basic plot has Harry's wife going out of town and is forced to "babysit" his army buddy's girlfriend while he tends to work commitments. In the midst of the dilemma, they also must run afoul of an odd killer (Stanley Blystone). The most surreal gag comes when the girlfriend poses as a nurse to Langdon's suspicious wife and drains all the blood from his body. completely turning him white and eventually reduced to a mound of powder.
So's Your Antenna (1946)
A misfire debut for a promising series
Famous radio announcer Harry von Zell eventually turned his attention to acting and was signed to do a series of two-reel comedies for Columbia Pictures in the late 1940s. Many moviegoers found this series to be the funniest of all the two-reelers the studio produced. Sadly, this first entry is pretty weak, with Harry playing a gangster on a radio program and two escaped bank robbers mistake him as a real one. Most of the comedy is supplied by co-star Tom Kennedy, who plays a stir-crazy convict the robbers kidnapped during their escape from prison. Other than that, it's not a great start.
Action U.S.A. (1989)
Hilariously bad, but packed with stunts
One of the many cheap action movies to come out in the late 1980s and early 1990s. This film is in the territory for MST3K, but despite the hilarious acting, editing, and camerawork, we are treated to a nice series of car chases with over-the-top stunt work. The story-line follows two FBI agents (very Riggs and Murtaugh-esque) assigned to protect a murdered drug dealer's girlfriend from thugs and run into trouble in every direction. With cheesy performances by Ross Hagen, Hoke Howell, and William Smith (!), you can't go wrong with this.
Birds of Prey (1973)
Entertaining helicopter chase movie
This 1973 TV movie starring David Janssen and Ralph Meeker really pays off thanks to its amazing helicopter chases. Janssen is Harry Walker, a helicopter pilot who works for a Salt Lake City radio station who witnesses a bank robbery in progress. The robbers kidnap Theresa Jane (Elayne Heilveil), who happens to work at the bank as a teller. After the police chase their getaway car to a parking garage roof, they take off in another helicopter. Walker chases after them through the Utah mountains and eventually rescues the hostage when she manages to escape from their clutches, but when the remaining robbers eventually track them down, Walker must defeat them for good or die trying. Available on DVD, but its soundtrack has been changed due to copyright issues.
W.B., Blue and the Bean (1989)
A good starring vehicle for Hasselhoff
After Knight Rider and before Baywatch, David Hasselhoff starred in this B-movie actioner about a bumbling trio of bounty hunters (along with stuntmen Tony Brubaker and Thomas Rosales) assigned by a slimy bail bondsman (Charlie Brill) to locate the kidnapped daughter of a millionaire. Their journey takes them all around Los Angeles and eventually to Mexico. Some car chases and gunfights are present, but this is mostly a showcase for the comedy style of the three lead characters. Directed by Max Kleven (who worked as stunt coordinator for many 1970s action pictures).
All in Good Taste (1983)
Well...you get what you pay for
This film was made by Austrian-born Anthony Kramwhether, who was most famous for the the three bizarro movies he produced from 1979-83, Mondo Strip, Mondo Nude, and Mondo Macho. He decided to built a movie around this concept by adding stock footage from those three films. The end result is a mess and what's worse is this was Jim Carrey's acting debut (the movie was shot in 1980, but not released until '83). He only appears for a full three minutes and has no speaking lines, but you do see some backside nudity of him. The movie was co-written by Rick Green, who would later work on one of the best Canadian TV series of the 1990s, The Red Green Show. If you see a DVD copy, with Jim Carrey's face plastered on the front cover, don't be expecting much.
Introducing... Janet (1981)
Decent short film featuring a young Jim Carrey
Many of the previous reviews for this film are given one star because of Jim Carrey's limited screen time in it. This short isn't bad for what it is, even if it does play out like an After School Special (the run time is the same as a regular episode). I do agree that it was foolish and misleading for Vidmark Entertainment to capitalize on Carrey's later success with Ace Ventura, The Mask, and even Dumb and Dumber by re-titling it Rubberface for its 1995 VHS debut (the original film's title was Introducing, Janet) and disguising it as a typical Jim Carrey comedy.
Two Roaming Champs (1950)
Decent scare comedy, but has pacing issues
The first of four two-reelers to feature former professional boxers Max Baer and "Slapsie" Maxie Rosenbloom produced for Columbia in the early 1950s. They open a detective agency, where nervous client Emil Sitka hires them to investigate his greedy relatives, who all want his late grandfather's money he left behind. Though a half-decent effort, the short takes way too long with its character development and most of the action/scares don't happen until the last 5 minutes. It's not director Edward Bernds' fault, it's the editor responsible for it. It's great to see Sitka playing dual roles, but I just wish it would have lasted longer.
Goof on the Roof (1953)
Shemp's last great short, with a grim backstory
This 1953 Stooges entry is the last of the great comedies they made and it was also the last film written by Clyde Bruckman. Bruckman started out as a gag writer for many of the screen's best comedians, W.C. Fields, Buster Keaton, etc. Unfortunately, in later years, Bruckman's alcoholism had worsened and had a tendency to "borrow" gags from several other movies, that sometimes resulted in lawsuits, particularly Harold Lloyd, who had successfully sued Bruckman in 1946 for borrowing a gag involving a magician's coat in the 1942 Stooges short Loco Boy Makes Good. As a result, his career was affected by it and it never bounced back, but did find work writing for The Abbott & Costello television series in the early 1950s, but again continued to borrow plot elements from other films that he was subsequently fired. In January 1955, a despondent Bruckman borrowed a pistol from his longtime friend Buster Keaton, claiming he needed it for a hunting trip, but instead he drove to a restaurant in Santa Monica, went inside a restroom stall and shot himself with the gun. A sad farewell to a once-legendary comedy writer.
All that aside, this is still an entertaining short, where the Stooges try to install a television set and instead destroy the entire house in the process. The first half where they clean up the house is the best, thanks to a pesky bar of soap and numerous buckets of water. This short actually reworks the plot from the 1949 Columbia entry Let Down Your Aerial starring Wally Vernon and Eddie Quillan.
Scrambled Brains (1951)
Hilarious short with an odd premise
Shemp is mostly the showcase for this bizarre outing who is suffering severely from hallunications, so much so that he thinks his ugly nurse Nora (Babe London, a successor to Dee Green, who always played ugly characters in the Shemp shorts)
is a beautiful angel. The supporting performances by Emil Sitka as a near-sighted German doctor and Vernon Dent as Nora's hot-headed father add a lot of belly laughs to a typical Jules White-directed short.
Slaphappy Sleuths (1950)
Slicker than an oil slick
Another great Shemp-era Stooges short that has them as undercover detectives working as gas station attendants to catch a gang of crooks robbing several of them in the city. A number of great gags are included, most of them courtesy of Emil Sitka as a dim-bulb customer and the famous popcorn sequence. Stanley Blystone is great as the gang leader and Gene Roth has a great cameo in the beginning as the owner of the gas station chain.
Gone in 60 Seconds 2 (2003)
A backstory for this unfinished film
In 1987, Toby Halicki had wanted to make a true sequel to his car chase classic Gone in 60 Seconds. Denice Shakarian, who was an executive for New World Pictures and was also dating Halicki at the time, helped him develop the script, along with Toby's brother Ronald and Ronald Moore (who would gain critical acclaim for penning the later Star Trek movies for Paramount). The basic premise is that Halicki's character Colt, a master car thief, must steal 60 exotic cars from around the world, as well as avenge his friend's death, also a car thief.
Filming began in Halicki's hometown of Dunkirk, NY in 1988, but it was very evident that problems immediately began. First, co-writer Ronald Moore's constant fighting with Halicki over the script caused him to be fired from the movie. Second, the city of Dunkirk reneged on their cooperation and made Halicki take out an insurance policy, which in Toby's case, was the ultimate stab in the back. When a news crew came to interview Halicki during filming. He, at the point of insanity, screamed at the camera and promised to sue the entire city after the movie was finished.
The big chase scene with the semi-truck is the major highlight. Halicki had bought 400 cars to wreck for this one sequence alone. However, something major went wrong. The telephone pole that was holding up the water tower at the abandoned warehouse snapped and everybody ran for cover. Sadly, Halicki never got of the way in time and the water tower collapsed on him, killing him instantly. Moore stated in a later interview that his death was considered to be karma for him, due to his unpleasant working relationship with Halicki.
In 2003, a 33-minute excerpt of the incomplete film was released as an extra on the DVD of Halicki's third movie, Deadline Auto Theft (see my review for that). In terms of entertainment, the footage is spectacular. In terms of editing, it's a total mess, as stock footage featuring shots of police cars from 60 and The Junkman are added to think every single cop in the United States is out to get Halicki's character. The extra also includes another chase scene that was shot several years later featuring a custom-built car appropriately called Slicer that can destroy any car in its path.
All Gummed Up (1947)
Emil Sitka steals the show in a mediocre Stooges short
Emil Sitka was always the glue to hold together a lot of middle-of-the-road Stooges comedies in the later years. The one thing that Sitka didn't like about Jules White was how he always wanted to play his characters in an exaggerated manner, but this was one of the very few times where White allowed Sitka to develop his old man character Amos Flint, the crotchety landlord of the drugstore the Stooges run. Though not given much screen time (save for the beginning and near end), he does add a lot of comedy to an otherwise plain Stooges outing.
The Clown Murders (1976)
John Candy as you've never seen him before
Another early film role for a then-unknown John Candy in this psychological drama/horror film about a kidnapping prank gone horribly wrong. If you're expecting Candy to be funny, look elsewhere. His character is a pathetic wuss who is caught in the middle of the situation, but his acting is pretty good in a non-comedic role. The film itself is decent, but goes in several directions, throughout.
Half-decent, but far from a comedy classic
This movie is most famous for Peter Sellers' original involvement with the production, but when he was suddenly hospitalized with a heart condition, the producers replaced him with Bob Dishy, a comic actor who made many one-shot appearances on various TV shows. Dishy does give it his best with a script provided by Mickey Rose, a frequent collaborator for Woody Allen films and wrote and directed the original slasher spoof Student Bodies. The supporting cast of Bill Dana (aka Jose Jimenez), Vito Scotti, Richard Libertini, and a pre-Mr. Miyagi Pat Morita make it watchable, though the movie is not exactly laugh-out-loud funny.