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Star Trek: Picard (2020– )
3/10
Even TNG Fans will find this lacking
2 April 2020
Warning: Spoilers
What are the problems with this? Special effects wise there's little new, though some of them look neat. While this one has a short clip of Counselor Troy who has aged gracefully, she is no where near the one who packed the TNG Episodes tight costumes. As for the new women, I find the twin androids the most attractive. The rest are pretty plain, and really, no script to develop their characters any better than their lacking figures.

Real disappointment is how predictable the entire script is. I knew the ending at the end of the first episode - almost at the first scene. I watched the entire series hoping beyond hope that something new and unpredictable would happen. It didn't, and in fact it ends with the looks of another season being like the 1960's series. If this happens, they might as well bring back William Shatner, he's only about 90 so him and Picard could both pitch Medicare plans.

This series might have a record for the most Producers, Co-Producers, and Executive Producers and is over produced, but I guess you have to do this when you forget to write a good new fresh script, which is what Trek deserves. Involving Gene Rod's son here is at best a minimal thing. No new ideas here, just a rehash of the old ideas. If you think anything is a surprise here, it would only be if you have never seen any Star Trek before.

Speaking of where it's gone before, this one makes Enterprise with Bakula look like a work of art. Hopefully he will be smart enough not to make a guest shot on this turkey, but unless the scripts get better the only way to stack a second season with any interest is to have as many guest stars as you could possibly come up with. I doubt that would even help. There are several holes in the plot of this one that a semi-truck could be transported thru. I hope they decide to retire Picard, this one belongs in the home.
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Kraft Theatre: Patterns (1955)
Season 8, Episode 20
9/10
Rod Serling's Most Under Rated Script
26 March 2020
Warning: Spoilers
This is a trip into the dog eat dog office world. It is very realistric. Serling never worked in a office, yet this story is spot on. In fact it is ahead of it's time in some ways. This story highlights the problem of age discrimination years before it was finally made against the law. Yet, it still goes on.

Ed Begley is great in the title role of this drama, the victim. He has an all start cast in this Kraft theater presentation. To top it off, all these people do great in a live broadcast. If there are any mistakes in this they are so small as to be not noticeable. When I first saw this, like much of Serlings work, it is ahead of it's time when it was written.

Serling's best writing and interveiws were always like this. In 1959, almost 40 years ahead of most industries, he spoke in an interview with a young Mike Wallace about Work-Life Balance. This teleplay looks at that issue too, in 1955. The characters are well drawn and the acting superb. The only thing this live telecast lacks is an encore. Serling would write a lot more scripts, but I rate this one as his best, and it's not even Science fiction. Incredible and worth watching.
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Mata Hari (2016– )
4/10
Great Story Rewritten Poorly
19 March 2020
Warning: Spoilers
The period costumes and a lot of things look great on this series. The problem's come from the rewriting of history for no good reason. Mata Hari's tale is not perfectly recorded anyplace because of the fact spy stories are difficult to record properly. Here though, the character's are distorted from anywhere near the facts about their lives that are known. It's called artistic lisense and while the artistic is here, the substance is spoiled.

I don't believe in spoiling plots so I would just tell someone to read the real history before watch the series. That way you have a much better idea how the real known and the story here do not coordinate. Vahina Giocante ... Mata Hari a great job by a Franch actress playing a woman who was actually Dutch. Aleksey Guskov ... George Ladou- excellent acting but most of the the character does is a work of fiction. Viktoriya Isakova Lidia Kireevskaya is once again excellently acted but the story line also lets them down.

You have a character who recovers from near death injuries going around and beating up 3 men. That's not too realistic but that is the best example I can think of for the shortcomings in this series. There is the ignorance of Mata Hari life facts too. This one seems to like sex, the real Mata Hari did not. This one has no children. The real one had 2, one of which died after World War 1, but very little about her in this story.

The political reality is dealt with in an interesting manner, but the white wash of why Mata Hari in real life was executed is a fictional story here. At least at the end she is executed which considering the rest of the artistic license taken here, it is great that it ends at 12 episodes. At least Mata Hari is not presented as someone you should cry for. That is the truth.
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Hunters (2020– )
1/10
Foolish Race Propoganda
9 March 2020
Warning: Spoilers
While the photography and production is here, you have to watch this realizing that the story is really not reality. In fact, the story might be more in the realm of Science Fiction. None of this ever really happened. It's entirely made up. So where does this leave the viewer?

If your gullible you might think it is real as there were actual Nazi Hunters and yes German Scientists were captured at the end of WW2 by both sides for the rocketry science that was used by the Nazis in the V-1 and V-2 rocket programs. Don't forget it is science fact that the Nazi's did the first atom split in a lab in Berlin in 1939. They did not get the atomic bomb though.

That's why you have to realize this is an embellishment of racism that ranks up with some of the most famous ones in history including D.W. Griffith's silent one about the Klu Klux Klan. I thought once we condemned that that we would always be wiser than to recreate it? It appears I was wrong.

Nazi Hunters after WW2 never did the things these people do. There were not the numbers of escapees that are presented here. The CIA might have been involved in some chicanery, but this teleplay plays upon the sympathies of Antisemitism that really got a push when the United States under Barack Obama tried to hack the election in Israel. It has gotten worse since and this plays to it and makes it almost into a soap opera.

The stereotypes here are obvious to anyone who knows how to look for them. Unfortunately a lot of people no longer know enough. They will think this was reality. The violence in this is done like a Mafia story. The trouble is right now we do not need to revisit past mistakes. People are watching this series thinking the story was reality. Quite simply, it's not. ...
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Death Valley Days: Diamond Field Jack (1963)
Season 12, Episode 4
7/10
Interesting Cast But Predictable Plot
7 March 2020
Warning: Spoilers
Before Frank Sutton became Sgt. Carter on Gomer Pyle USMC - Sutton plays Diamond Field Jack Davis. He is a man who wants to become a legendary gunfighter even though he has never shot anyone. He gets accused of a murder he is innocent of but is so hung up on his image that he will not let his lawyer defend him and he is found guilty.

The lawyer played by an actor named Edward Binns (James Hawley) who looks suspiciously like a twin for Simon Oakland, tries to get him to change his mind. Then he goes after the true murderer and catches him only to start digging his own grave. It seems that the murderer got the drop on him. Eventually his clerk gets wise and comes out to help save his boss.

Interesting seeing Sutton in this 1963 Death valley Days episode.
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Game of Thrones (2011–2019)
7/10
Massive Cast Epic HBO Production
5 March 2020
Warning: Spoilers
Yes, this is sort of a middle ages feud, the Lannisters and the Starks and the battles of the 7 kingdoms from north to south. The locales range from the Wall to Winterfell, to Kings Landing. Every episode has opening credits with maps of all the kingdoms which change as events happen. Using an original book OF FIRE AND ICE, the series starts off magnificently with many power grabbing events and executions. The list of characters grows week to week, and some executions end many cast members stay on the show.

The actor who is in the most episodes is a Lannister played by Peter Dinkvage. While Peter is short in stature, his acting is high in caliber. He is nearly killed early in the series, but like a Phoenix he continues to rise from his own demise to become a power broker for the Dragon Lady. She is a Southern Ruler who owns 3 Dragons and heads a powerful army who wants to rule the 12 kingdoms. Normally, this would be an easy task.

Then there are the Starks who rule Winterfell and the North. To complicate matters, there is the army of the dead. Early on in the series they only make brief attacks on small bands of troops. Then as more people are killed, the amry of the dead gets bigger and bigger and become a bigger and bigger threat. There's a lot of excellent character development in the earliest parts of this series. The middle age world of kingdoms have many interesting little asides.

Then as we wind into the last seasons, an alliance is created to face the army of the dead in sort of a middle age world war. The climatic battle is long and drawn out, as the author is no longer working on the scripts and the material has diminished considerably. Overall the series quality is very high up until the segment leading to the big battle. That is when we lose character development and the series is totally immersed in the final battle.

The way to watch this now is to get the DVDs and absorb it at your leisure, Is it worth watching? Definitely. Is the ending satisfactory? That depends on your point of view. It does prove that game on is more than just an hour, and it makes the Middle Age World more complicated than I ever imagined.
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1917 (2019)
7/10
Based Upon An Embellished WW1 Vet Story
20 February 2020
Warning: Spoilers
Right at the beginning of the credits, the story is kind of explained because there is a WW1 vet mentioned as the source of the tale. The Director Sam Mendes wrote this movie with a woman who has the hottest looking pictures on IMDB for a writer. While she has written other movies and TV, this is Sam's first movie writing. The film is technically great but this explains a bit about why the story is a bit like Paul Bunyon, a General relying on 2 people to take important orders to the front lines army charging into a trap.

This story is the reverse of Saving Private Ryan, instead of trying to make rescue a family member, this story sends both brothers into harms way.

Story wise it is written for maximum dramatic effect. It accomplishes that. The direction by the director of Skyfall (one of the better Bond films in recent years) is quite capable. The story rarely bogs down and the film moves along pretty well. The actors could have done better if the story had been based upon a real story. Instead we get a toned down version of a vets embellished story which does not all the actors to really develop their roles.

Considering the 2 guys in a hurry with the General's urgent orders, their detour into the bowels of the abandoned German trench and rat triggering the trip wire explosion makes little sense. The life saving is the reason for it, dramatic, but should not have been needed. Embellishing one character to make it more dramatic is the accomplishment.

As much as the story is off, the film looks good and packs a dramatic power. That and the visual looks get me to rate it okay. So far this expensive film is a loser at the box office. Unless there are some scenes cut from the film to fill in the glaring gaps in character development, it's unlikely this film will break even until it hits DVD, maybe. There were 5 of us in the theater for an evening show.
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5/10
Gotta Love Lon Chaney For This Short Version of Mix-Sci-Fi & Noir
17 February 2020
Warning: Spoilers
This is a low budget film, and Lon Chaney other than the opening sequence acts it out like a silent movie. An electrocuted criminal is brought back to life by a crazy Doctor asissted by 300,000 volts and an assistant who was later named Binghamton. Sadly, Chaney's charge silents him, but hey some women would consider that the perfect husband, perhaps.

This cut up B feature was obviously a sort of Frankenstein with a try at mixing in some film noir with the police. This noir is not as successful here as it is in the sci-fi feature THEM, but it does not have the budget of the other film, much less the scripting. There is no surprise here because Chaney is obviously brought back to life as a man with a mission, kill all those that got him convicted and killed. The only mystery left was how to destroy him. Eventually that happens.

It would have been nice if the back story of the folks he wants to kill is filled in better, but this does create the classic Sci-Fi atmosphere that the 1950's is most famous for. In a way this story is too much overdone in many films. It's worth a look and is out on You Tube.
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6/10
Fawcett Narration Carries Story
16 February 2020
Warning: Spoilers
William Fawcett narrates a story of Indian fighting in Texas. Black Cat is the head Indian Honcho, and Montegomery is the guy assigned to bring him in for trial. The Seminole Indians are no longer on the reservation. Meanwhile the kidnap a hot blonde and are planning to sell her to white men for more guns.

The chief holds out when the troops run short of water taking him in. Then he gets hot for the blonde and decides to show the white men where the water is in order to save her and the men arresting him,

This just shows the power of a woman can overcome savages. Seminoles not wanting to stay on their Texas reservation. They get gums and start picking off white men, forcing them into an easy to defend canyon. This 90 minute story is carried along by Fawcett's narration which he obviously tries to imitate Walter Brennan. A great compliment to the more famous actor.

A forgettable B Western that is now running on GRIT, the Western channel where a lot of films, and things like Death Valley Days TV are running. The channel seems to run movies a lot so I am sure you can catch it again in the next few months.
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6/10
Smallpox Mania
9 February 2020
Warning: Spoilers
The killer is small pox but (spoiler) there;s also a surplus of human killers running around here. While this film was up to date when it was made, the facts that have been found out about smallpox since have badly dated the film. It could be redone better now if this one were pulled out for a remake though with the new disease from China, Smallpox would be no where near as interesting as the real pandemic.

The lead actress here does well in her role. She is one of the few who had a lot of supporting roles in famous films like Gone With The Wind, but her starring roles were nowhere near as famous as her supporting roles. That's a shame as she prove here she can carry a starring role. Evelyn Keyes also had a support role in The Seven Year Itch. Both major films had Monroe and Leigh to overshadow her. Still this is decent noir along with The Prowler, Mr. Magoo voice (Jim Backus) has an uncredited role in this one. The uncredited cast is much larger than the credited one. Probaly has to do with independent Robert Cohn Productions calling in some favors from Columbia films who in turn distributed this one. at 76 minutes, this is definitely intended as the under-card of a double feature.
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According to Jim (2001–2009)
2/10
An UnClassic TV Sit Com
20 January 2020
I liked Jim Belushi, until I started watching this sit com. He is given an obnoxious male lead character much like Ralph Kramden of the Honeymooners. The differences are poorly written scripts and Belushi just isn't Jackie Gleason. These scripts have some of the worst jokes ever written for a sit-com. I can't spoil the plots here, they expired before they were written.

All the characters are self-fish with Jim the most self-fish of all of them. The former school teacher background of Belushi is utilized, but he sound like he is teaching non-sense. At least in school he used to get government scripts, which are pretty dry but not as dry as these ones.

Courtney Thorne-Smith makes me hungry as she does have one of the best figures I have ever seen. She is the reason I give this more than a one rating. The rest of the supporting cast is forgettable and the ensemble that successful sit-coms become classic with does not have the chemistry here. This ran 9 years, but then during these 9 years, paint drying would draw better ratings then most of the stuff on ABC.

Still sometimes timing is great as these folks got plenty of money for doing mediocre comedy for 9 seasons. As for Smith, I know she is over 50 now, but her figure still makes me hungry. Thanks to this and all her other work, I like finding her heavenly body in reruns.
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7/10
Solid Film Using Real Dramatic Footage Within Months of Wars End
19 January 2020
Warning: Spoilers
Leo G. Carrol to me is the great guy to be a spy. This film is no exception to one of the better supporting actors in the history of films. This one precedes his role of government agent in North By Northwest by years, but his effect on this film is as good as any of his roles. Lloyd Nolan dominates the film as Griggs, the FBI guy in charge of getting the US Nazi spy ring. While Nolan is top billed, his role as the FBI agent in charge is more wooden.

That is because the true based story of the Nazi's trying to steal information from the US about the atomic bomb is sensitive, though exciting. It's hard to believe but fortunate for all of us that the Nazi's did not take advantage of the pre-war lead they had on the stomic bomb. The first time an atom was split was in Berlin in 1939. Luckily Hitler did not take advantage of it.

This is a tense drama with the German special agent Kristopher remaining an engima until late in the movie. The operation and Nazi recruitment methods are reminders of how a Government can influence minds and infiltrate an education system with nearly frightening results. There are stock spy films from the FBI used along with actual FBI agents in the cast. Even though it's dated now it is a good film, available currently on You Tube.
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Finger Man (1955)
7/10
Almost 90 Minute B Features Solid Dark Story
16 January 2020
Warning: Spoilers
It isn't hard to imagine Forrest Tucker as a mob king the way he plays him here. Though he is in the background until late in the film, he is the unquestioned boss. Frank Lovejoy plays the 3 time loser who the cops give a choice, life sentence or bring Kinpin Tucker down. Some strange casting as his main body guard seems a little like Corporal Agarn on F Troop, except Timothy Carey is even less intelligent.

The lovely Peggie Castle is the romance hottie with Lovejoy. Seems she worked for the king pin, but has fallen for Lovejoy. Then she knows too much, and well, the mob always takes care of anyone who knows too much. There's a quick uncredited appearance by Lisa Martell, a stunner but here is playing a minor telling the kin pin she is 21. Her curves indicate she is older, not younger.

In a way, the Castle role is a mirror image of her life, as she drank herself to an early grave. This one kills her quicker. There's several dead bodies, and when the kin pin is nailed at the end, he swears Lovejoy won't be around for long. If you think about it, finger men is not an occupation which would have a long life span. Not a bad way to spend this one, as 3 writers put this one together for the film.
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Perry Mason: The Case of the Shifty Shoebox (1963)
Season 7, Episode 2
7/10
Loaded Guest Cast-Story A Bit Dramatic
15 January 2020
Warning: Spoilers
With Denver Pyle, Bill Mumy, and Diane Ladd, this is a major tv guest pass that makes the acting excellent. As for the script. well I suppose there must have been some motive behind all this. Uncle Flick is the obvious red herring. Aunt Lil is the one Mason Defends, but it is never explained what possible motive she could have had. Even if she had stolen the money the murder would not cover it up.

Then there is the dramatic moments when Mumy gets the gun in the case which the police have mysteriously missed while searching at Aunt Lil's, get on the bus with it in a shoe box, rides to LA, and barges into the court room and dumps it in front of the judge. Burger appears more helpless than usual. The ending just does not live up to the antiicipation, as the real motive is all too obvious, but at least it actually takes some work from Paul Drake to bust the murderers alibi.

It is entertaining, and that is what counts. This series is good even when the story is a little weaker. Mumy is already in Will Robinson form but then it seems like he was born to be a child actor. He pretty much was all the time he was growing up. Ironically in this story, he doesn't really have a mommy. That does not compute.
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The Report (I) (2019)
8/10
Adam Driver Raises This Above The Bar
9 January 2020
Warning: Spoilers
This film based upon the true coverup in Washington and the influence of Daniel Jones report on abuses of power and covering up the truth about a lot of important issues is more compeling viewing than the usual film of this type. That is mainly because of Adams Driver (Kylo Ren) great job as Jones. The energy he bring to this role are unmistakable, and if the film has gotten enough attention, he'd be up for an acting Oscar for this role. The film is well done.

Annette Bening helps here in an excellent portrayal of Diane Feinstein. The interaction between Bening and Driver is sparkling conversation. The story being true about this report about US torturing prisoners and more is a strong basis for a fine dramtic film. It is must viewing and a great look at the problems powerbrokers were creating during the years of W Bush through into Obama. Jon Hamm plays Denis McDonough who would become Barack Obamas top ranking person in his second term. His role is more support but an interesting take on the man. The report covers the 911 investigation and beyond. Scott Z. Burns script covers the Bush era CIA investigation up into the Obama administration resistance to release the findings.

Driver makes this role his own and it's great, yes this man can act without a light sabor. " Jones and his team reviewed around 6.3 million pages of internal CIA documents and wrote a roughly 6,700-page report on their findings - often referred to as the "torture report" - which remains classified to this day." It's an amazing story.

The Report depicts how President Barack Obama's administration - specifically John O. Brennan's CIA - worked to undermine the Committee's efforts to make their findings public. " It is based upon the executive 500 page summary which the CIA tried to suppress after the 2011 killing of Osama Bin Laden.

This Amazon exclusive uses archive footage from many of the principals though none of the actual participants play themselves in this one. That's because the movie is based on the report, and this rock solid basis makes this film powerful. Adam Driver makes it more compeling. Catch this, you will not regret you did.
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8/10
The Game Continues with a Whole New Play
4 January 2020
Recently, our deep in trouble mall brought back it's first video arcade in many years. Well, this movie upgraded it's cast from the first one, and it doesn't lose a thing versus the earlier film. I'm not sure if an arcade now will be in time to save our mall (though it would help if they brought movie theaters back into too), but this movie is entertaining and a whole lot of funny.

Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Heart, and additions like veteran Danny Devito are all positive in this one. The plot is exactly the same as the first time around, another video game of Jumanji only with real people thrown into the game. If anything, the script is a solid item indeed and the cast brings it off.

The film never gives a viewer much chance tro rest. There's action on top of action, just like the video game. If they make enough of these, there will come a day when a marathon of them will be playing, and playing and playing and maybe, just maybe the next game will rescue our ailing mall. A lot of malls are being turned into Senior Housing. Rushing in a good game of Jumanji could improve sales- at the Tom Brady Scooter store.

Put your brain away and enjoy this action film.
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Road House (1948)
8/10
Fine Noir Though Aging Is Making It A Little Weaker
29 December 2019
Warning: Spoilers
To me this is one of Richard Widmark's better roles as the crazy owner who obsessed with the singer (Ida Lupino) he has hired to work in his small town road house and bowling alley. What amazes me is how little role the always fetching Celeste Holme is given. I am surprised she doesn't get even more romantic attention though she is kind of in an understated relationship with Lupinos guy. She is in an absurd corner with Lupino, and even Widmark as she works for him too.

The thing is, everybody works for Widmark, and that is why his love for Lupino is so devastating. He literally believes he can just present her with a marriage license and have her come to him. How he gets the license without her with him is a bit of a hole in the story. That should have been impossible, even in the era the film was made.

Kind of fun is watching the opening credits which show the pin boys working in a 1940's bowling alley. While the lanes are not central to the plot, they do get into the film a couple of times. Lupino comes in for a contract job to be a singer/pianist at Widmarks Road House. Things get complicated as his right hand man (O'Brien) tries to get her to leave immediately as he knows what is going to happen to his boss. She doesn't leave and starts working at the small town night club. Overall, it appears Lupino has a decent voice though the vocals are not extrmely strong on the sound track I heard on You Tube. That could just be the age of the film.

The plot is more central, though it is interesting to hear Lupino perform. There is a court room case and Widmark's manuevering to try to get his way and spilt up O'Brien and Lupino. The cast is excellent in this above average film noir. Showing it's age does not diminish the quality of this "B" feature.
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8/10
Action & Sentiment Rule But Ending is But A beginning of Another Order
28 December 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Well, it finally happened, we have a Star Wars film where C3PO is at a loss for words. After 8 episodes of twaddle, C3PO has to be hacked because he is banned from translating Sith language by his own programming. Perhaps the Sith is the only thing that can shut him up. In 9 movies, C3PO has had more lines than any other character in these films.

Whats nice here is seeing all the characters make appearances in the franchsie conculsion. The plot is rather predictable, Emperor Palentine has built the Final Order, a huge fleet of Dreaknots all equpped with planet killer cannons. It appears he wants to take this fleet and destroy every planet in the universe until he eliminates the rebel rebellion.

The are the sub plots of his supposed Grand-Daughter, Rey, and wanting her and Genera; Leia's Son to rule the universe together by killing him? Meanwhile, they plot to get together and kill him. Only there's some detours through battles and of course Ray stops to see Luke Skywalker to finally complete her training. Amazingly, fate has provided more of General Leia than I expected. I think they must have filmed most of the sequences for this movie before Fisher's sudden death. That a big break for this movie as her role is actually still a pivot in the film, and then the General is put to rest right about the time her son and Rey face down Palentine.

Finn has something to tell Rey, but he never does tell her anything. That is one of the films small moments of humor. This one is built more on sentiment and less on humor than previous films in the series. Nice to have Lando back. Even nicer is Solo *Harrison Ford" getting one last time to say goodbye to his son Kylo Ren. It's a well done emotional scene. This series have given so much to so many over the years and like several members of the cast, some of us who first saw episode 4 in the 1970's sis not make it to the last reel of this film. Rey defeats Palentine once and for all with the help of both Luke, and his son Kylo, and the universe is saved.

Then there is this last sequence, an emotional moment back at the beginning where we first met Luke. Rey goes back to the beginning at the end. It is the perfect ending, but it might be a beginning as well. It completes the cycle of Rey looking for her identity. She had to go back to the beginning, establish order back into the force, and to the universe. Thus it ends
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Christmas in Aspen (1988 TV Special)
10/10
Legacy of Denver lives here at Christmas
19 December 2019
This is a very well produce special. There is a lot more than just Denver looking at the camera and singing. Obviously it feature Aspen, Colorado and Denver. Added to that is a nice performance by Ann Murray and The Nitty Gritty Dirst Band, and a lot of traditional Christmas music, plus a few special tunes from Denver.

There is also a film about Aspen being used for skier training in World War 2. Another film features a farm. There is a feel good and warmness to how this is produced and presented. This is the type of Christmas special that dominated all the networks when it was made. Great family fare.
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8/10
Highly Not Logical Events
19 December 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Believe it or not, this Gardener story has caught Perry Mason out shopping in a department store. Before long, he sees an older woman shoplifting stuff in the store. Then when the story closes in, he rebukes the store people and this allows her to leave. Then the plot gets thicker.

It seems that Jewels are being marketed using people in a fencing scheme and the older womans daughter is involved. Then enters Mr. Spock, well logically it's not Spock, but his character seems to be around the murder scene, There's also a casino owner whose involved with the victims as this one has 2 murders. Meanwhile the confused old woman is charged by Tragg & Burger for murder, even though she is hit by a car at the scene of one death.

The complex plot gets better and this a prime Mason to catch for reasons besides seeing Nimoy before eh got his Spock ears. His character is central to what happens, in more ways than one.
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A Christmas Without Snow (1980 TV Movie)
5/10
Choppy TV Film That Has a Lot of Loose Ends
19 December 2019
Warning: Spoilers
It was obvious watching the DVD that the TV movie has a lot of choppy equences. There is a sequence of someone with a baby and no explanation about who they are and why they are there. Some of the commercial breaks go from one sequence to another totally unrelated sequence.

What good is John Houseman playing the new choir director, and Michael Learned playing the divorcee who for some totally unexplained reason (due to the script) has moved to San Francisco alone. Meanwhile, there are the choirs members who go from one whose voice is too old, to another who has a huge ego and quits, to several of them (not Learned) who have great voices. The plot centers around the choir getting a new director and in a short time frame prepare for a performance of the Messiah.

There's more sub plots than the typical TV film, but there are loose ends in the film that make it unsatifsfying because things tend to get choppy. It seems that that Learned is well suited to play a divorcee considering in real life she has had 4 spouses. She has 3 sons, though suddenly her son she left with her mom in the mid-west runs away from home and pops up at her door. There is very little interaction between the 2 of them after he arrives due to the limit of tv movies.

The film tries to do too much, though I was surprised to see a rare view of Leanred throughout the film as a dyed blonde with dark roots. Nothing like Olivia Walton on the TV show in appearance, Houseman does his usual character as the pompous choir director, and is excellent. Meanwhile, the main plot twist is the church being vandalized, but not by the folks you'd suspect. It's a small twist along with Houseman having a stroke before the big concert.

This films biggest asset is the choir music especially the Messiah sequences at the end. Trouble is it too is choppy and can't really save a film that appears to have been made on a shoestring with a strong cast. The tv movie is not aging real well either. It does show diversity in the cast in an era where diversity was not yet a big message in our society. Trouble is even that message comes off as a little shallow.
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The Twilight Zone: The Night of the Meek (1960)
Season 2, Episode 11
10/10
Christmas For All Time Forever Meek
7 December 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Rod Serling by 1960 had been cranking out scripts for the Zone and working long hour days for a long time. When he wrote this script, there was a Christmas magic in the air. It is about even more than the meek, it's about trying to improve us through the ultimate Christmas fantasy. He could not have done it any better, there is even a touch of the script that reminds me of an O'Henry short story.

Art Carney was such a talented actor and how he got this role is one of the greatest accidents of tv history. I can not imagine any other actor who could have brought it off better. Corwins character is cut out of an O'Henry tale. A drunken department store Santa who can't handle reality. That reality is so stark in this black and white world. "Christmas should be something finer" Corwin mutters to the Department store manager when he is fired after drinking too much and taking too long a break on the job.

Can any dialogue ever top this quote - " I can either drink, or I can weep, and drinking is so much more subtle. But as for my insubordination, I was not rude to that woman. Someone should remind her that Christmas is more than barging up and down department store aisles and pushing people out of the way. Someone has to tell her that Christmas is another thing finer than that. Richer, finer, truer, and it should come with patience and love, charity, compassion. That's what I would have told her if you'd given me the chance. I don't know how to tell you, Mr. Dundee. I don't know at all. All I know is that I'm an aging, purposeless, relic of another time, and I live in a dirty rooming house on a street filled with hungry kids and shabby people, where the only thing that comes down the chimney on Christmas Eve is more poverty. Do you know another reason why I drink, Mr. Dundee? So that when I walk down the tenements, I can really think it's the North Pole, and the children are elves, and that I'm really Santa Claus bringing a bag of wondrous gifts for all of them. I just wish, Mr. Dundee, on one Christmas, only one, that I could see some of the hopeless ones and the dreamless ones. Just on one Christmas, I'd like to see the meek inherit the Earth. And that's why I drink, Mr. Dundee, and that's why I weep."

Art Carney as Henry Corwin can only do this and it is so emotional.

This is only in the first half of this episode. From here on this gets even better, as it only can, in the Twilight Zone.
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The Outcast (1954)
7/10
Better Than Some Republic Efforts
6 December 2019
Warning: Spoilers
This is a B feature set up for John Derek, but the supporting cast often gets some attention. The departure here from Rebublics formula is that the women (there are 2 of them) get more script than in most westerns. This makes sense as Derek would go on to marry Uresla Andress, Linda Evans, and Bo Derek. Here he gets the attention of both the main women in the cast.

With Slim Pickens and Jim Davis on board, there's plenty of gun fighting and lots of the standard plot fare. We have a family feud and a missing will, crooked lawyer and a split in a family. Makes for an intense 90 minutes. The music in this one is good and credited to R. Dale Butts. Mr. Butts did music in a lot of films but his real life distinction is he was the guy who married and divorced Dale Evans before Roy Rogers, another major Republic studio star.
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6/10
Big Cast Pulls off Plain Military Comedy
6 December 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Being made in 1941 this film is not war propaganda but is a sort of military comedy in the vein of Sargent Bilko later on tv only with planes and parachutes to dress it up. What got my interest was seeing a young Robert Preston well before he finally scored the role of a life time in the Music Man. Buddy Ebsen in his second role coming back after his near death experience in Oz has pretty good energy here. Hugh O'Brien is in early career here too.

The problem this film really had is films like Abbott & Costello's Buck Privates which raised the bar on military comedy. While this one is amusing, especially thanks to Buddy, it just does not compare. The film is pretty much standard formula with the woman and the romance triangle included. Problem is the direction and filming is pretty standard fair with an ordinary director.

The war footage used here is pretty much World War 1 stuff, and at least it does not get in the way often. This one is on You Tube and even coloized though the coloring looks quite faded. That is realistic as my dads home movies from the 1950's have some of that color look. Not a bad way to see this one.
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Midway (2019)
8/10
CGI Comes of Age And Successful History
3 December 2019
Warning: Spoilers
After seeing the previous movies about Midway, I was not sure an update was needed. This movie says - yes, this one was needed. There are several reasons for it. The movies biggest strength is visual and it's next is no trying to over-reach.

Previous versions of this story were melodramatic and hollywoodized beyond reality. This one isn't, and the best thing is no one cast member has such an ego that they attempt to dominate the movie. That is a refreshing change from previous depictions of this story.

Intelligence information is used properly, and the lead up from 1937 to the Midway battle are really well done. The re-enactment of Pearl Harbor is well done. The miracle that the US Carriers were not in Pearl that day is not dwelled upon, just shown. That is the strength of the entire film. It is done as it happened. It amazes me that the 2 locations are Hawaii and Montreal, Canada. It seems like there are more locales, but this is good film making, the story is rock solid, well written, and actually dominates the film instead of the acting. This does not happen often enough in movies.

Loved the history of the characters at the end of the film, and did not realize that 2019 is the year the last of Doolittles raiders on the first bombing run on Tokyo died. It was important that this little side story got into the film. It was important as a morale boost to our efforts in the Pacific in the war. RIP
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