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The African Queen (1951)
Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn are great in John Huston's The African Queen
After 35 years, I finally got to watch this movie again, this time with Mom who was watching for the first time. This was the only time Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn had teamed up on screen and what a teaming it was! Bogart plays an individual steamboat captain and Hepburn plays a spinster missionary who ends up sailing with him after her brother dies after an attack from Germans on their place of residence in the Belgian Congo. It's mainly those two legendary stars talking and eventually taking a shine to each other and having quite an adventure together. I can see why Bogie won the Oscar for this performance. And Hepburn was deservedly nominated as well as co-writer/director John Huston. Really, all I'll say now is The African Queen deserves its classic status, that's for sure!
The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977)
John Landis and Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker's The Kentucky Fried Movie is still hilarious even with the sophomoric gags
This comedy anthology film basically started the movie careers of writer/performers David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and Jerry Zucker as their next movie would become the hilarious classic Airplane! and director John Landis whose work in this directly led to him helming the box office hit Animal House. It spoofs everything from Kung Fu flicks to TV commercials to morning programs to theatrical movie trailers! See a gorilla loose at a studio! Watch various nude women in a trailer for Catholic High School Girls in Trouble! Witness a young couple making love while the news is on and the people on it see and react to them! Marvel at a board game called "Scott Free" in which players take turns reenacting the events of the aftermath of President Kennedy's assassination! Yes, much of the material is sophomoric but many of that is still funny in my mind! So on that note, I still highly recommend The Kentucky Fried Movie!
Hollywood Boulevard (1976)
Hollywood Boulevard was, to tell the truth, not as entertaining as I hoped it would be...
I suppose if one was a Roger Corman fan and had watched a lot of his movies, one would really get the humor of this one particular one. For the most part, I couldn't since I've only watched just a few of his movies. But since I do know of his reputation of making cheap movies, I was intrigued by how the whole narrative was going and while I didn't think much of it was funny, it did become humorous to me near the end during a scene involving the Hollywood sign. So maybe someday, if I become more familiar with the Roger Corman filmography, I may watch this again and find it more entertaining...
The Brothers Warner (2007)
The Brothers Warner was a fasinating doc about the famous film family
Cass Warner Sperling made this fine documentary of her grandfather Harry Warner and his brothers, Sam, Albert, and Jack, in telling the story of their making history by going into the motion picture business and forming the legendary Warner Bros. Pictures studio. So we see many pics of them and Cass' various siblings and cousins as she interviews some of them. I was most fascinated by Sam's relationship and marriage with Lina Basquette. And also of Jack's eventual betrayal of Harry. In summary, The Brothers Warner was a worthy doc of the famous film family.
The Court Jester (1955)
Danny Kaye is at his comedic best in The Court Jester
For years, I only knew of this movie because of the "pestle in the vessel" sequence of which that clip ran on many specials dedicated to classic movie comedy. I've now seen this with Mom on Amazon Prime Video and we both thought this was a very funny movie. Danny Kaye really seemed at the peak of his comedic talents here not only with that tongue-twisting thing I just mentioned but also because of a hypnotist trick done on him that makes him change characterization with the snap of the fingers! Helped by Angela Lansbury, Basil Rathbone, and Glynis Johns, this was quite a treat to watch! So Mom and me highly recommend The Court Jester!
Let's Go Crazy (1951)
Peter Sellers provides many funny moments as various characters in Let's Go Crazy
After months of reading about this-Peter Sellers film debut, I think-I just finally watched this online. Sellers plays various characters as well as impersonates Groucho Marx. He delivery is consistently humorous if not always hilarious. Spike Milligan also provides some funny stuff with Sellers. Then there are various music and dance acts that are either serious or comical that are also pretty entertaining. Among them is a band that seemed inspired by the American Spike Jones. So on that note, I recommend Let's Go Crazy for Peter Sellers fans.
Pardon My Blooper (1974)
Kermit Schafer's Pardon My Blooper should have you in stitches like it did me!
Having just read Kermit Schafer's book "Best of Bloopers", when I stumbled on to this, his movie of those bloopers, on Amazon Prime Video, I knew I had to check it out! Most of those bloopers seemed to be staged for the movie, judging by the one they played from "The Ed Sullivan Show" in which the voice from that show doesn't really sound like Ed! However, when presenting portions of Orson Welles radio broadcast of "The War of the Worlds", that's indeed the actual voice and content of Welles you hear. Most of the bloopers are not suitable for family viewing or hearing so be warned! So, yes, I thought Pardon My Blooper was hilarious!
This film version of Brigadoon is a great distraction in times like these...
When I bought the DVD of this movie years ago, I wasn't completely taken in by the unbelievable logic of the story to the point I couldn't believe the ending. Now that I just watched this again with my mom, I'm more willing to suspend disbelief in order to more enjoy the story. I'll just now say that we liked the dancing of Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse as well as Van Johnson's role of Kelly's cynical friend. Also, we enjoyed the color photography and the scenery even though it was obviously not on location. Director Vincente Minnelli is certainly expert in making fine movie musicals! And, of course, the songs by Frederick Loewe and Alan Jay Lerner were wonderful! So that's a high recommendation of this filmed version of Brigadoon.
Mister Rock and Roll (1957)
Mister Rock and Roll is the second film featuring the late Little Richard I just reviewed on this site
Yesterday, I watched Don't Knock the Rock which featured the recently passed Little Richard singing "Tutti Frutti" and "Long Tall Sally". Today, I just watched this which had him singing "Lucille". Even though that was his only song in this particular movie, he still stands out mainly because of his overall appearance among those of other musical performers like those of Brook Benton, Clyde McPhatter, La Vern Baker, Frankie Lyman and the Teenagers, and even Chuck Berry, the only other performer who only performs one set. One legendary musician who came before all of them, Lionel Hampton, seems to fit right in among them especially when he plays the vibraphone. All of them and more are introed by the legendary DJ Alan Freed who often plays himself in these movies and has introed many of them before and after in other films (Chuck Berry appears in many of them of which I previously reviewed on this site a few years ago when he passed). This one doesn't have too much of a plot-just a few scenes about how awful Rock 'n' Roll is among the older generation-as this is presented more in a revue-type format. For that reason, I definitely recommend Mister Rock and Roll!
Don't Knock the Rock (1956)
I watched Don't Knock the Rock in memory of Little Richard
As with Rock Around the Clock, this film was produced by Sam Katzman, directed by Fred F. Sears, and has an appearance by the music group of Bill Haley and the Comets as well as disc jokey Alan Freed. The main reason I decided to watch this now is because of the passing of Little Richard of which he performs two of his most famous songs-"Tutti Frutti" and "Long Tall Sally" in his unique performing style here. He and Bill Haley were perhaps the most enjoyable parts of this movie which consists of another familiar plot of an elder generation complaining about the kids and their "rock 'n' roll"! If one is willing to get through that again-as I was-then you should like Don't Knock the Rock just fine. Oh, and it does have a dance sequence near the end of the '20s styles which had one particular couple doing deadpan stares that made me laugh a little!
Record City (1977)
Record City funny in an "anything goes" kind of way
This is another obscure movie I stumbled into on Amazon Prime Video. It's so obscure that when it was originally released, it didn't appear in any theatre in my Baton Rouge residence! The movie has lots of familiar TV character actors like Alice Ghostley, Ruth Buzzi, and Larry Storch. Before "The Love Boat" made him familiar, Ted Lange was in this, likewise, Ed Begley Jr. before "St. Elsewhere". Oh, and disc jockey Rick Dees appears here as DJ "The Gorilla" singing a song similar to his "Dis-Gorilla" and hosting a talent contest in which Gallagher and Kinky Friedman appear. None of the songs were familiar Top 40 hits though they could have been judging by the sound and flavor. In summary, Record City was stupid and politically incorrect and sloppy but it was also funny perhaps despite and because of that.
The Farewell (2019)
The Farewell is a fine slice-of-life drama about a sensitive subject
Having previously appeared in the very popular Crazy Rich Asians, Awkwafina then starred in this Lulu Wang film about a young adult woman who decides to visit her grandmother in China after finding out from her immediate family about her having only a few months to live. That family decides to not tell the matriarch, honoring Chinese tradition which Awkwafina disagrees with. I'll just now say this is not a heavy drama, just a matter-of-fact telling about something that happened with Ms. Wang's family. Awkwafina herself handles the drama concerning her character compellingly and deserved her Golden Globe award. This film certainly got my own mom-who's Filipino-to reveal that her own sisters ended up never telling their own mother about her condition before her untimely death. Makes me wonder how different families from various cultures handles such sensitive revelations...
The Black King (1932)
The Black King was pretty entertaining if you can get pass the scrachy soundtrack
This was one of those "race" movies I just stumbled into on Prime Video. It's about a loud-mouthed con man who gets himself to become a deacon of a church which leads him to bigger things. I'll just stop there and just say that while the soundtrack was quite ragged considering its age, I did see some of the charisma of A. B. DeComathiere that seemed to contribute to why the people on the screen seemed to follow his every word of whom among those people would be including was leading lady Vivienne Baber whose character is torn between him and her morally good (and good-looking) other boyfriend Lorenzo Tucker who plays an attorney who's the opposite of DeComathiere. In summary, The Black King was pretty entertaining if not always easy to understand because of the not-always-clear soundtrack.
Ginger in the Morning (1974)
Sissy Spacek makes one of her earliest fim appearances in Ginger in the Morning
This is yet another obscure movie that I stumbled into on Prime Video. It's one of Sissy Spacek's earliest roles (I'm guessing she made this before her breakthrough role in Badlands) playing an aspiring poet and singer who hitchhikes through the southwest. She's picked up by a divorced businessman and after they spend the night at his place, his old army pal unexpectedly shows up. There's more but I'll just say that while the tone is uneven (while I recognized what scenes and lines were supposed to get laughs, I didn't find myself laughing), it's still pretty interesting as a time capsule of the early '70s and Ms. Spacek does write and sing some pretty good songs for the soundtrack. So on that note, give Ginger in the Morning a look.
Embassy was only Richard Roundtree's second starring movie role
When I found out last year that this was only Richard Roundtree's second starring feature after his phenomenal turn in the title role of the original Shaft, I struggled to look for it online until recently when I saw on this site that it was on Prime Video. That Amazon site was also connected to my TV so I finally got to see that there. Roundtree stars with veterans like Ray Milland, Broderick Crawford, Max von Sydow, and Chuck Connors. To tell the truth, despite some of those players, I was partially bored for the first 45 minutes until the arrival of Connors by that point. What he does during that initial intro made the movie real exciting! Oh, and I also liked the song that Carl Douglas sang during the opening titles as well as during some of the exciting scenes and the end credits. This was only a couple of years before his big hit song "Kung Fu Fighting" came out and hit # 1 on the Billboard charts. So on that note, I say give Embassy a chance.
Heartburn was an interesting, if not always entertaining, movie
Based on screenwriter Nora Ephron's novel about her marriage and divorce from Carl Bernstein, Heartburn seems a slice-of-life kind of story meaning there doesn't seem much drama or comedy to mine out of such a "based on real life" kind of tale. When it premiered 34 years ago, I remember my local movie critic David Foil-who wrote for the (Baton Rouge) State Times/Morning Advocate paper-basically saying the movie didn't so much end as stop. He gave this film a one-star. I can see why as the narrative meanders so much. Still, Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson do what they can with their parts and director Mike Nichols fills the movie admirably with atmosphere and familiar supporting players like Jeff Daniels, Stockard Channing, Richard Masur, and Catherine O'Hara. Oh, and Kevin Spacey makes a pretty impressive debut as a guy Ms. Streep meets at a subway ride who then...oh, watch the movie if you want to find out. So on that note, I say give Heartburn a look.
Blue Summer (1973)
Blue Summer is what you would probably expect from a '70s soft core porn film
Being stuck home during this pandemic time, I stumbled on this soft core porn film from writer/director Chuck Vincent on Prime Video. It's about a couple of graduated teen boys going on the road having sex with various girls and women along the way. The way the sex is depicted may have contributed to an X rating in some areas. I'll just say this was quite interesting and pretty sexy in some scenes and also occasionally funny. Nothing more, nothing less.
Funny Face (1957)
Funny Face was a near-classic movie musical
Before this movie, Fred Astaire had previously teamed with Judy Garland in Easter Parade and Audrey Hepburn likewise with Humphrey Bogart in Sabrina so both had romantic scenes with someone much older/younger than them already. They're okay when doing them though one doesn't want to think too much about that when watching. I will say Ms. Hepburn does quite an energetic beatnik dance at one point and Astaire has one nice solo dance spotlight that shows how he still got it late in his middle age. Also the plot-about Astaire's photographer trying to make a model out of bookworm Hepburn-has mainly amusing, as opposed to hilarious, moments especially when also involving fashion magazine boss Kay Thompson. Director Stanley Donen puts the Technicolor schemes front and center and the location scenes in New York and Paris are certainly well done. And the songs, not only the George and Ira Gershwin tunes but also some new ones from Roger Edens and Leonard Gershe who also wrote the screenplay, are mostly entertaining if not overwhelmingly so. If Funny Face is not completely a classic, it's certainly as close to being one involving all those people I just mentioned who had previously done better work.
Super Fly T.N.T. (1973)
Ron O'Neal directed himself in a pretty good sequel called Super Fly T.N.T.
After becoming a star with Super Fly, actor Ron O'Neal decided to co-write and direct the sequel. Actually, he helped think of the story with the resulting screenplay by noted author Alex Haley. Perhaps because of the criticism of the glamorizing of drug life in the previous one, O'Neal's Priest character is totally out of the business (though that was his intent from that first film) but gets roped into a more, perhaps, worthy one in dealing with guns for a country that wants independence. Also, instead of taking place in NY City, the setting is now in Rome where he and his girlfriend, Georgia (Sheila Frazier), from the first one have settled. I'll just say while I found the movie quite dramatic concerning Mustafa (instead of Youngblood) Priest's trials near the end, I can understand why many fans of the first one weren't so enthralled. It's certainly a different flavor, that's for sure! I'm also entertained by the score by Osibisa and the fact that both Robert Guillaume and Roscoe Lee Browne, who subsequently played butler Benson and his replacement Saunders, respectively, on the hit comedy series "Soap", were also in this movie though not together. Guillaume, by the way, shows his singing talents when he does "O Sole Mio" in a restaurant scene, here.
Super Fly (1972)
My second time watching Super Fly was even more enjoyable than the first
A year after Gordon Parks Sr. helped usher in the "Blaxploitation" era with Shaft, his son Gordon Parks Jr. helped extend that trend with this, Super Fly. Ron O'Neal became a star as drug pusher Youngblood Priest with his charismatic performance though it also became a source of controversy over his role being glamorized especially when they show a two-minute steamy bathtub love scene between him and Sheila Frazier. Musician Curtis Mayfield's score and songs are entertaining throughout and what a treat to see him performing as part of the picture. Of the supporting cast, I especially loved Julius Harris as Priest's mentor who had quit a while back and is initially hesitant to help him on one last deal. This was only my second time watching this and it was even a bit more entertaining than before. Now I'm anxious to watch the sequel Super Fly T.N.T. that O'Neal directed himself and is on YouTube right now...
The Search (1948)
The Search is a very compelling post-World War II story
Made and taking place in post-World War II Germany, Fred Zinnemann's The Search is a touching story of a Czech mother's (Jarmila Novotna) search for her pre-teen son after both survived Auschwitz. The son was played by Ivan Jandl who got both a special Oscar and a Golden Globe but since his country was now under the power of Communists, those awards had to be taken to him when he was awarded. Veteran film actress Aline MacMahon played the officer in charge of many abandoned children after the war of which Ivan was one of them and newcomer Montgomery Clift played an army soldier who's soon to leave for America and a new job but not before he discovers Ivan walking among the ruins trying to take his lunch and then taking him to his home believing him to be an orphan. The story is fictional but it seems to be partly based on fact. I'll just now say that The Search is quite touching from beginning to end.
"Lily" was one of the fine specials Ms. Tomlin did after "Laugh-In"
Having just watched all eps of "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In" that gave Lily Tomlin her big break, I then went to YouTube and just saw her second TV special she did for CBS which aired the season after her previous show ended. Among her guest stars in this one are Alan Alda and Richard Pryor. One sketch takes place in a restaurant in which Alan is thinking with his conscience talking to him and Lily is doing the same with hers-while her date is at the table-as their doubles appear vis split screen. That's one of the more consistently funny skits while others-like one taking place in a diner with Pryor among the customers-is more a slice-of-life drama. The upload I watched included the commercials that aired during that program's hour like a Skippy Peanut Butter one with Judd Hirsh or a Max Factor one with Jaclyn Smith. Oh, there was also an Edith Ann skit in which an off-screen voice talks to her as opposed to her "Laugh-In" versions in which she just did a short monologue. I should note that among the writers on this special were Lorne Michaels (who was an "L-I" staff writer before Lily's arrival there) and Ann Elder (who was a cast member of that show during some of Ms. Tomlin's years there). Also on the staff was Herb Sargent who also produced this special and would join the "Saturday Night Live" staff when Lorne created that program two years later. In summary, "Lily" was a fine special for Ms. Tomlin.
Laugh-In: Episode #6.24 (1973)
This final episode of "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In" ends on a high note!
On this, the final episode of "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In", the last guest stars are Ernest Borgnine, Robert Goulet, Rip Taylor, Sammy Davis Jr., and former cast member Jo Anne Worley who starts the show with Dan and Dick inquiring about chicken jokes which gets...well, just watch. Anyway, there are plenty of leftover series of skits which didn't air previously, many of which are pretty funny. Lily Tomlin does her last Edith Ann and Ernestine here, there's one more Laugh-In News segment, one more Joke Wall as well as one more sight of that man-in-raincoat-riding-a-tricycle before the Romart logo comes on screen... This was quite an enjoyable end of the series though four years later, creator George Schlatter tried to revive the show with an all-new cast of which one of those would be an up-and-comer named Robin Williams...
Laugh-In: Episode #6.23 (1973)
Dom DeLuise was the only guest star in the penultimate episode of "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In".
Dom DeLuise is the only guest star on this edition of "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In". The material is the usual hit-or-miss though he is pretty funny much of the time. Frank Welker plays both Dick Cavett and his guest Peter Falk doing his Columbo character via split screen in an amusing skit. Lisa Farringer once again does her one-liner jokes punctuating with "Whoopee!" that are okay concerning the punchlines. It was also fun seeing Dom in a blooper reel near the end as well as with Ruth Buzzi concerning a juggling act. In summary, this was an okay ep of "Laugh-In".
This was the third-to-last ep of "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In"
Well, this being the third to last one ep of "Laugh-In" as well as the last guest appearances of all of the above, I'll just say this was quite funny. I'll also say I liked most of the kid exchanges of those boys Moosie Drier and Tod Bass throughout this particular season. Willie Tyler and Lester are also pretty funny with their back-and-forth about a family Lester met. There's a baby conclusion concerning the Farkels. Oh, and Richard Dawson's Groucho Marx is accompanied by Ruth Buzzi's Harpo and Patti Deutsch's Chico in this one. In summary, this was quite a funny ep of "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In".