• Flower Drum Song

    Flower Drum Song

    ★★★

    Having watched and thoroughly enjoyed “Minari,” the new film about a South Korean family settling in the rural U.S., which featured a mostly Asian cast, I decided to break my rule of only exercising to films I’ve never seen before by watching an old musical favorite, “Flower Drum Song” (1961), which I hadn’t seen in forty years. Released between their “South Pacific” and “The Sound of Music” features, this was another classic Rodgers and Hammerstein collaboration, directed by Henry Koster…

  • Land of the Lost

    Land of the Lost

    ★★★

    The search for a decent fantasy film these days can be a case of too much, and too much. Most of these films have great effects – let’s make that astonishing effects – but really lame storylines. I thus approached Universal’s 2009 film, “Land of the Lost” with very little optimism. It’s a Will Ferrell vehicle and he can be hit or miss. It’s also a remake of a 1974 TV series – and remakes are usually uninspired. However, I…

  • The Sunshine Boys

    The Sunshine Boys

    ★★★★★

    There was always something special about Walter Matthau. When he came on screen, particularly in his comedies, you knew something funny was brewing. He didn’t have to say a word. In “The Sunshine Boys” (1975), he was in full flower. Certainly one of Neil Simon’s best film scripts, directed by Herb Ross, Walter plays ex-vaudeville performer Willy Clark – a curmudgeon’s curmudgeon. In his day, Walter was paired for years with Al Lewis (George Burns) and they owned the vaudeville…

  • Minari

    Minari

    ★★★

    I thought this was a thoroughly interesting slice of life film, with strong performances from everyone concerned - particularly the actress who played the grandmother and the little boy who played the son. It’s a sad fish out of water story as this family is not used to living in the south. I particularly found the man of the house’s profession - sexting baby chicks. - a dreary, horribly dull job. Like placing pins in new dress shirts, this would not be something I would gravitate towards.

  • Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

    Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

    ★★★

    I’ve always liked Dana Andrews, dating back to his appearance as the detective in “Laura,” Sergeant Tyne in “A Walk in the Sun” and some of his latter career roles in “Battle of the Bulge” and “In Harm’s Way” (when his characters weren’t so likable). Thus, I was interested in checking out one of his 1950s titles, “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt” (1956), directed by the legendary Fritz Lang (his last film made in America). Andrews plays novelist Tom Garrett, who…

  • He Walked by Night

    He Walked by Night

    ★★★

    One of the fun reasons for checking out Film Noir titles from the 1940s and 1950s is learning about their storied history and discovering their interesting casts. And being an LA resident for most of my life, checking out what the city looked like back then is also fun. “He Walked By Night” is a classic Noir piece from 1948 that stars Richard Basehart (Admiral Nelson in the “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea” series, Adam in “The Twilight…

  • Address Unknown

    Address Unknown

    ★★★

    I have been a student of World War II films ever since I could turn on a TV or walk to the movies. Over the years, I’ve learned that because of propaganda reasons, films produced during the war had very clear missions to support the war effort, boost recruitment and inspire a “we will overcome” attitude. That, combined with the desire to entertain and make money guaranteed the war was going to be sanitized. Thus it was a surprise to…

  • Father Is a Bachelor

    Father Is a Bachelor

    ★★★★

    William Holden was one of Hollywood’s most popular stars of the 1950s. However, before he broke out in 1950’s seminal drama, “Sunset Boulevard,” he was unhappy with his roles. Too many light comedies – nothing to sink his teeth into. Despite this, I found myself completely charmed by his performance in “Father is a Bachelor” (1950). Holden plays Johnny Rutledge, a vagabond performer who tours the backroads of the eastern seaboard with Professor Ford (Charles Winninger) an elixir salesman (Warning:…

  • Bachelor Mother

    Bachelor Mother

    ★★★

    “Bachelor Mother” is a hoot. That’s my reaction to this 1939 Ginger Rogers/David Niven romantic comedy that is currently on TCM on demand. I will admit that my dance card is very light on the queen of dancers, Ms. Rogers. Until this latest, it consisted of one comedy – “Monkey Business” and one drama, “Storm Warning.” So I decided to give it a try. Frankly, anything released in 1939 seems to have caught lightning in a bottle – it was…

  • Seraphim Falls

    Seraphim Falls

    ★★★

    One of the joys of this horrible Covid year is finding films in the streaming verse that I had never seen before. They’re not all classics by any means, but there are some interesting ones. I came across the western “Seraphim Falls” (2006) recently, attracted by the stars – Liam Neeson and Pierce Brosnan. This is an edgy fugitive-on-the-run picture, with a bearded Pierce being chased across the post-Civil War southwest by a posse led by the granite-faced Liam. Like…

  • The Innocents

    The Innocents

    ★★★★

    I tend to prefer ghost stories over horror films - especially elegant ones like director Robert Wise's "The Haunting" and Hitchcock's "Rebecca." Thus, when I saw that TCM was running director Jack Clayton's "The Innocents" (1961)," I decided to fill out my dance card and catch what turned out to be a terrific and creepy journey into the 19th Century British paranormal world. The very elegant Deborah Kerr portrays Miss Giddens, a governess who is hired by Michael Redgrave, whose…

  • Unknown

    Unknown

    ★★★★

    I'm a big Liam Neeson fan. I remember seeing him for the first time as a background bandit in 1983's epic fantasy "Krull," and of course we all saw him as the wonderful title character in "Schindler's List." Since he started doing his action movies like "Taken," I've found he delivers almost every time out. Thus, I looked forward to "Unknown" (2011), which has become one of my favorites. In a plot that begins to resemble an episode of "The…