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Gunsmoke: The Odyssey of Jubal Tanner (1963)
Season 8, Episode 36
8/10
Garland + Breck = Magic
31 January 2021
Small Screen Magic is the result from the talents of Beverly Garland and Peter Breck in this episode of Gunsmoke. Garland's character, of Leah, the saloon gal has not lost her kindness even if saloon life left her jaded. Jubal Tanner was completely jaded from his time fighting The Civil War, and other events like what happens to him in the story. The story revolves around those two primarily, their interactions with Gunsmoke regulars and others. Without spoiling the story, I assure Gunsmoke fans THIS episode is among the finest of all Gunsmoke stories! "The Odyssey of Jubal Tanner" - A "must see"!
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Wagon Train: The Kate Parker Story (1959)
Season 2, Episode 31
9/10
An Authentic Love. Story + Authentic Western = This W.T. Episode!
17 October 2020
Seldom is the time you can find a believable love story set in an authentic 19th century American western setting that is little more than a modern day romance with the actors sinply dressed in period costumes. "The Kate Parker Story" manages to truly achieve the criteria making it pass the test of an old west love story while avoiding the sappiness pitfall "trap". The episode focuses on 2 love stories. One of which is a younger couple who is derply in love while the other, older couple is together because of greed mostly and thus, focuses on money instead of love. Love is used as a weapon to hurt one another, if anything at all. Without being a spoiler, I will simply say that the moral of the tale is to never abandon the idea that it is ever too late for true love to come into one's life! The story offers hope where there seemingly is none to be found. Even the weather has left love out in the cold where it has no right to exist. Indeed, I recommend "The Kate Parker Story" as one of Wagon Train's best in the romantic genre of a true American old west setting for a story. The cast and crew make excellent use of their approximate 50 minutes given to tell such a full and satisfying story. The scenes are quite wonderful, too!
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Bonanza: Top Hand (1971)
Season 12, Episode 17
9/10
Wow! Now THAT'S a Western!!
24 February 2020
"Top Hand", is Episode 17 from Bonanza's Season #12. Directed by William Claxton, it provides many of the great ingredients that make the Westerns genre so beloved by kids from 8 to 80 - lady or gent. The story is better than most particularly as a story from the last couple of seasons. Most of which were either quite good or else not possessing very much saving grace at all. "Top Hand" is a tremendously enjoyable story, and a fine Western featuring wonderfully skillful horsemanship from Ben Johnson and others. Wow! The great ones make it look effortless. The direction and cinematography, beautiful splashes of *colorful scenery ..... these are ALL necessary parts for a "8","9" or "10" rated show. The action is pounding while the tension is like an elastic band stretched near it's limit. Beauty, yes! This story has SO MUCH Visual Beauty! There is One ANNOYANCE that was resounding throughout virtually the ENTIRETY of the story. Arguably, most folks will agree that the music was constantly flooding over everything else happening. Loudly drowning out the flow of the story. Music is supposed to enhance the story, not overtake it until the viewer says, "Oh Shut Up already!!", and that is why I generously gave the episode a NINE in its entirety. If I think about the music's volume, (too loud) and the amount (virtually constant) of music that was also used in the, "Little House on the Prarie" series, it screams FAMILY, fill in the blank, but NOT Western! Thus, I end this review on a very down note for one of the finest lost episodes of Bonanza, in my opinion. --------------------------------------- *(for color presentations ~ all seasons of Bonanza were filmed in color.)
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Harriet Craig (1950)
9/10
Harriet is one rotten %!+@# !!
18 September 2019
This picture is wonderfully entertaining from start to finish. It is doubtful to think any man would ever be as gullible as Walter Craig but that being said, sit back and watch Harriet spew venom at the world. Joan Crawford is as hateful as Bette Davis at her witchiest best..... and THAT is said with reverence! The end of the story is fulfilling on a few levels. I won't give anything away, but this story has something for everybody to enjoy. This version is far more entertaining than the earlier, "Craig's Wife", with the terrific Rosalind Russell. Ms. Russell just didn't have as much to work with, in my opinion.
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Gunsmoke: Caleb (1964)
Season 9, Episode 26
10/10
"Caleb" is a character we can relate to, for there is some of him in each of us.
12 August 2018
Caleb Marr is a man who has come to the inescapable realization that he has failed in all aspects of what it means to succeed or fail in the eyes of society, as he sees these things. His wife never misses an opportunity to reaffirm his total sum as a man is no greater than the meager crops he yields as a "dirt farmer". Any hopes he had to raise a family as a source of pride and joy will never happen either, as his wife saw no pride, no joy..... rather more messes, chores and meals to make with resources they didnt have for themselves, let alone more mouths they would have had to feed. These bitter realizations were too little too late for Caleb. The least he could do is move to Dodge City to see what, if anything might still be salvaged from the life he believes, to that point, he had squandered. Without giving away any of what happens, the story of Caleb is profound as we see it is never too late to "make it count for something". Caleb is a gentleman and a gentle man. He was kind to his beloved dog, called "Dog-Dog-Dog". He found pleasure in time spent with children who needed help with a broken wheel for their little wagon. He defended a lady's honor because it was the right thing to do. He saw the best and the worst in people but never needed a compass to know where true north was as far as right and wrong were concerned. If my review sounds over the top, I can only say I have not done justice to the writer(s) of the teleplay. The actors and dog trainer are superb, as is typical with Gunsmoke. John Dehner was a remarkably gifted and versatile character actor.
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The Prowler (1951)
9/10
A "Must See" Noir Film to Feast Upon - Again and Again!
19 May 2013
I purchased, "The Prowler" on DVD a few years ago. It includes several extras, with a full length, excellent commentary by Noir expert, Eddie Muller. Van Heflin gives a stellar performance as a cynical police officer who doesn't "protect and serve" anyone other than himself. Officer Webb Garwood (Heflin) blames all of the people along the way in his life, for the fact that he isn't a great success. He is a shiftless and lazy character who sees the finer things in life as his, for the taking. The film opens with Garwood and his partner, Officer Bud Crocker (John Maxwell) responding to the home where a prowler has been reported. Susan Gilvray (Evelyn Keyes) has just finished bathing, and tells the officers she saw a prowler. Bud Crocker is a true-blue cop who loves his job and treats Mrs. Gilvray with courtesy and respect. Garwood doesn't really believe there was a prowler, and doesn't care if there was; for then he might have to do some actual work! Susan's somewhat older husband hosts an all night radio program and thus, she is alone. The Gilvrays are financially secure, but Susan the woman, is insecure. Evelyn Keyes shines in the role of Susan! The body language gives credence to the two main characters, who otherwise might have seemed contrived and caricatured. Webb sees an opening for himself with the vulnerable housewife who is left alone each night. She isn't QUITE alone, as the radio is always on. Her husband's voice (doing his idiotic radio show) in the background, provides a level of quirky tension to the goings-on in the Gilvray residence! I certainly won't give anything more, but hopefully I've given just enough of the plot from, "The Prowler", to interest you! I have seen Van Heflin in numerous films, and he is wonderful; playing a guy choosing to do the "right thing" in those films. Heflin's off the chart performance as Webb Garwood is the complete antithesis of the Van Heflin roles I was familiar with. It's an absolute joy to see him in the role of a morally bankrupt cop who hates the world and wants something for nothing! Evelyn Keyes bangs it out of the park in her role as Susan Gilvray. Keyes wanted a role she could sink her teeth into. She'll leave you with some bite marks, too; giving a believable performance as a married woman without children, and lonely. She has morals, and tries to believe she is happy with her life. Webb Garwood senses her vulnerability and pounces, figuratively and literally. "The Prowler" is fun-fun-fun from start to finish. See it, love it and own it!
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Teresa (1951)
8/10
Angeli Delivers the Goods
28 February 2010
"Teresa", is a movie that is time well spent for several reasons. Patricia Collinge delivers a performance atypical of the most memorable characters she had played to that point in her career. When I think of Collinge, I think of her as the quintessential, albeit clueless mother in Hitchcock's, "Shadow Of A Doubt". The other character was the sympathetic, "Aunt Birdie", from the director, William Wyler's classic film, "The Little Foxes". Collinge, in "Teresa", is spine chilling as a domineering mother / mother-in-law from Hell. She is a great performer. The next reason to recommend spending time viewing this film is for the fine effort by the brilliant director, Fred Zinneman. His talents lend a positive element which makes the film artistically better than good. He was truly a great director. Finally, there is the powerful, yet poignant performance by Pier Angeli. She was perfectly cast as the young girl from post war Italy, who falls in love with an American soldier. Angeli was young, pretty and believable in her role. Zinneman really squeezed a gem of an acting performance from Pier Angeli that left me most moved. The story itself is good, with some predictability, but not to a degree that would make one roll their eyes. I saw this movie just once, several years ago. I am more critical than most when I watch a film. I have been hoping TCM would run it again, as this movie, "Teresa", left a very favorable impression on me. I wholeheartedly recommend this film to lovers of classic films, and to those who like stories from the post WWII era. The other elements are that, "Teresa", offers a good viewing for fans of love stories and stories involving strong, heroic female characters.
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Dead End (1937)
9/10
Dead End is a multi-faceted gem
30 December 2007
Dead End is one of my personal favorites, as I watch it 10 or more times a year. The 1930's New York City setting lends itself to a host of interesting perspectives. The talent assembled for this production is why the film withstands the test of time and makes Dead End a movie which I never get tired of viewing. Greg Toland's cinematography is masterful. Max Steiner's musical score is brilliant. He perfectly blended the feel of a fast paced urban theme which then becomes a beautiful and dramatic orchestral piece. Max Steiner had a real genius for bringing the right mood to whatever the film demanded. Of so many brilliant Steiner scores, I find this to be among his finest. William Wyler's direction is awesome, as always. I particularly like the constant background flow of pedestrians going about their day throughout the entire picture. The movie's cast is stuffed with talent. Character actors like Marjorie Mane and Esther Howard fill small segments with memorable scenes. Claire Trevor's portrayal of a sweet girl who became disillusioned and wound up as a prostitute, is poignant while remaining gritty and realistic. The Dead End Kids are great throughout the movie. Ward Bond brings a plus to the movie in his role as the upscale apartment's doorman. I like Allen Jenkins and think no other actor was better suited to play the sidekick to Bogart's character as the prodigal gangster, returning to his old neighborhood. Dead End is one film that has countless elements to enjoy. The level of talent on both sides of the camera keep me watching it over and over again.
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