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I give it 3 stars out of 10. 1 for adorable Diane Lane, 1 for Anthony Michael Hall, and one for the rest of the kids.

No stars for
?
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The Battle at Elderbrush Gulch (1913)

 

Short western (less than 30 minutes) from D. W. Griffith, with an interesting cast and a weird plot. Two girls (one is played by Mae Marsh) move in with their uncle. Nearby, and Indian tribe has just concluded their dog-eating festival. I guess they thought they were in Korea. The Indian Chief’s son (an unrecognizable Henry B. Walthall) arrives too late for the feast and is ticked off. Now the girls just happen to have two puppies. Now the puppies just happen to escape from the girls. Now Walthall just happens to spot his potential meal. Now Marsh goes looking for the puppies and accosts Walthall. Now Marsh’s uncle just happens to be looking for Marsh and shoots Walthall. Now the rest of the Indians are really p***** and decide to attack the town, leading to a gunfight (fairly well staged) which is resolved once the soldiers arrive.

 

Lillian Gish plays the mother of a newborn, and she and her husband (Robert Harron) have just arrived in town. Gish gives the best acting performance as she almost has a nervous breakdown trying to find her baby once the shooting starts. 

 

In one very creepy scene, during the attack, we see a gun being pointed down at Gish, but it is eventually withdrawn. I assumed this scene was meant to illustrate that being shot would be preferable to whatever these dog-crazy Indians would do to you.

 

Untitled1_zpsfwi8ooo4.png

 

Marsh ends up rescuing the baby (and the puppies are just fine, in case you were wondering).

 

Many of the cast members were reunited for The Birth of a Nation.

 

Harry Carey is supposed to be in this, but I couldn't spot him. I did spot Lionel Barrymore as a soldier (below, at right). The dude had some physique back then.

 

 

Untitled2_zpswvsz6jxn.png

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"The Shanghai Gesture" (1941)--Starring Gene Tierney, Victor Mature, and Ona Munson, directed by Josef von Sternberg.

 

  Films' tone is set less than a minute in, when a traffic guard gives arm signals that look like they belong in The Bangles "Walk Like An Egyptian"  music video.  

 

Victor Mature, as Omar, is given to quoting Confucius and other Oriental philosophers.  He actually comes off rather well.  Gene Tierney goes from looking and sounding like a debutante in her first scene, to a drunken gambling addict who doesn't style her hair anymore. Some of her scenes are downright embarrassing.

 

Ona Munson as Mother Gin Sling (originally Mother *******, but The Code forced the name change), does well as an owner of a corrupt gambling den.  She alone gets to the angrier emotions that were rampant in the script before changes were forced.  Her elaborate hair styles provide   menace/amusement, depending on the viewer's mood.

 

Phyllis Brooks is amusing as a stranded chorus girl.  She provides some of the biggest intentional(?) laughs in the film.

 

The film hasn't aged well in some respects.  One Irritating person went around saying "You speakee englishee, chop chop?  I want a drink, chop chop!"  The "chop chop"s went on so long I was expecting a friend to come out with an axe and chop off his head.

 

Slow moving melodrama, is all style, little substance. Failed seriousness.  2.8/4.

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Hour of the Gun (1967) - Westerns generally aren't my thing, so I'm not devoting much time to this 100 Westerns spotlight. Truth be told, usually the Westerns I like best are the ones that take place mostly in town, in the saloon and the barber shop and church and the sheriff's office and jail. The ones that are primarily set on ranches or out in the wilderness are just too dusty and dry for me (I suppose Stagecoach is an exception. I never tire of it). I'm just too much of a city boy to spend too much time in nature, even when watching my movies!

 

Having said that, Gunfight at the OK Corral is easily one of my five or ten favorite Westerns of all time. I wish it had been part of the spotlight, but they're already showing Shane and some silent DeMilles, and that may have been as many Paramounts as TCM could afford in one month. This film, from the same director, was introduced by Keith Carradine as a "sort-of sequel" to Corral, and in years past, Robert Osborne has said the same thing. I can kind of see that. It picks up almost immediately where the other movie leaves off. However, there's a shuffling of some key events that makes it impossible to really watch the two movies as a sustained narrative. I'm pretty sure Ike Clanton either gets killed or captured at the Corral in both OK Corral and My Darling Clementine, but in this movie, he walks away from that legendary fight to exact his revenge on Wyatt Earp. Robert Ryan as the heavy is criminally underutilized in this movie (I kind of feel like it's Ryan's SOTM run all over again, what with About Mrs. Leslie two nights ago, and now Hour of the Gun and Bad Day at Black Rock tonight). Also, the assault on Wyatt's brothers takes place before the legendary shootout in both Corral and Clementine but after in this film.

 

Probably part of the reason I only like Hour and love Corral is the star power of the leads. I'm going to make the highly subjective statement that Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas are legends, while James Garner and Jason Robards, though both among my favorites (particularly Robards) are merely really good actors. Some other differences: Robard's Doc Holliday is lacking the really tortured pathos that was a Douglas staple. Also, the lack of any female protagonists keeps the plot of Hour relentlessly and somewhat monotonously focused on Earp's revenge quest. Sturges probably didn't want to be saddled this time with any silly romance subplots, but giving both Lancaster and Douglas romantic interests in the earlier film gave it an extra dimension, I thought (especially Douglas' romance with Jo Van Fleet, which was so screwed up).

 

Okay, well maybe it's unfair to compare the two. Hour of the Gun stands on its own as an enjoyable diversion. They say Jon Voight is in it, but I missed him. I was cooking dinner and only listening to the movie during parts of it. I did notice a bearded William Schallert, memorialized on a thread here recently, as the judge in a couple of early scenes. As with Corral and Clementine (with Henry Fonda and Victor Mature in the roles), the occasionally tense bromance between Earp and Holliday is the most interesting facet. I wouldn't mind an epic day of Earp/Holliday films on TCM someday: they could air those three plus, if they really wanted to get comprehensive, Tombstone with Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer and Wyatt Earp with Kevin Costner and Dennis Quaid. Or they don't have to all be on one night. I would never watch that many movies in one night anyway! They could show one or two of them every Thursday in a month, for example, plus other filmed versions of the Earp story I may not know about.

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ME IN GREEN- LHF

 

"The Shanghai Gesture" (1941)--Starring Gene Tierney, Victor Mature, and Ona Munson, directed by Josef von Sternberg.

 

Oh yes, this movie. There is a thread about it somewhere in the annals of this site. We had a blast discussing it.

It's kind of like Josef Von Sternberg woke up one morning and was all "you know what? I'm done with making really good movies, I'm just gonna try and make a reeeeeeeally bad one"

 

...and when a German makes up their mind about something...do I even need to finish the sentence?

 

  Films' tone is set less than a minute in, when a traffic guard gives arm signals that look like they belong in The Bangles "Walk Like An Egyptian"  music video.  

 

Victor Mature, as Omar, is given to quoting Confucius and other Oriental philosophers.  He actually comes off rather well.  Gene Tierney goes from looking and sounding like a debutante in her first scene, to a drunken gambling addict who doesn't style her hair anymore. Some of her scenes are downright embarrassing.

 

Oh yeah...but both Gene and Vic are waaaay better actors than I think even they gave themselves credit for; Vic is great in KISS OF DEATH, DARLING CLEMENTINE and (especially) THE ROBE, where frankly- he's better than Burton.

 

It's essential viewing for fans of Tierney though, because- yeah- SHE BAAAAAAAAAAAAAD in this thang, but who would've guessed that within four years, she'd be an Oscar nominee for Best Actress and five years later give  such a lovely turn as MRS. MUIR....I have to admire anyone who steps up their game after an uncertain start in HOLLYWOOD, and Gene did it- all the while dealing with personal issues as bad as any anyone has EVER faced.

 

Ona Munson as Mother Gin Sling (originally Mother *******, but The Code forced the name change), does well as an owner of a corrupt gambling den.  She alone gets to the angrier emotions that were rampant in the script before changes were forced.  Her elaborate hair styles provide   menace/amusement, depending on the viewer's mood.

 

Mother "Goshdarn" for any of you wondering.

I'd bet you ANYTHING Patti LaBelle saw this as a child and the influence was profound.

 

 

The film hasn't aged well in some respects.

 

And by some, you mean "all"- but it's still a lot of fun.

 

Slow moving melodrama, is all style, little substance. Failed seriousness.  2.8/4.

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LHF--I love Gene Tierney, she's a textbook case of learning "on the job".  And her acting is admirable, even in two years time, in "Heaven Can Wait" (1943), and too many others to name.  She basically made her detractors eat their words.

 

I typed in Ona Munson's characters' name, but "Otto" starred it out.  Seriously, starring out a character's name??  That goes back to the Production Code--"Sigh'.

 

OH, just remembered--the starred out name was also the title of Whitney Stine's 1973 biography of Bette Davis--should have put that in last nights' post.

 

Will have to look for the thread you mentioned, LHF.

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"The Shanghai Gesture" (1941)--Starring Gene Tierney, Victor Mature, and Ona Munson, directed by Josef von Sternberg.

 

  Films' tone is set less than a minute in, when a traffic guard gives arm signals that look like they belong in The Bangles "Walk Like An Egyptian"  music video.  

 

Victor Mature, as Omar, is given to quoting Confucius and other Oriental philosophers.  He actually comes off rather well.  Gene Tierney goes from looking and sounding like a debutante in her first scene, to a drunken gambling addict who doesn't style her hair anymore. Some of her scenes are downright embarrassing.

 

Ona Munson as Mother Gin Sling (originally Mother *******, but The Code forced the name change), does well as an owner of a corrupt gambling den.  She alone gets to the angrier emotions that were rampant in the script before changes were forced.  Her elaborate hair styles provide   menace/amusement, depending on the viewer's mood.

 

Phyllis Brooks is amusing as a stranded chorus girl.  She provides some of the biggest intentional(?) laughs in the film.

 

The film hasn't aged well in some respects.  One Irritating person went around saying "You speakee englishee, chop chop?  I want a drink, chop chop!"  The "chop chop"s went on so long I was expecting a friend to come out with an axe and chop off his head.

 

Slow moving melodrama, is all style, little substance. Failed seriousness.  2.8/4.

 

Fine summary of the film The Shanghai Gesture" (1941).    I would still recommend the film to folks since it is very 'out there' but it is more of a camp classic then anything else.    Eric Blore plays a very different type of character then his typically butler\manservant.

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"The Love Parade" (1929)--Ernst Lubitsch musical starring Maurice Chevalier, Jeanette MacDonald (her screen debut), Lillian Roth, and Lupino Lane.

 

Film is first class operetta for an hour and twenty minutes, then goes off the rails by having Count Alfred (Chevalier) humiliate Queen Louise (MacDonald),then rights itself in the final minutes.

 

The plot: Alfred is called back to Sylvania after a series of scandals (there are five minutes of untranslated, rapid-fire French dialogue in the start of the film--maybe someone who's seen the film can summarize what I missed).  There, he meets Louise, who needs to marry to ensure a financial loan for her country.  Plot goes from there.

 

Chevalier is charming for the first hour, then becomes quite the S.O.B., nearly ruining the film. His singing is good.

 

If you've only seen MacDonald in starched ruffles and frills in her MGM films, she's a revelation.  She's relaxed, trades double entendres with Chevalier, wanders about in lingerie, and sings beautifully.

 

Lupino Lane, as Alfreds' valet, and Roth, as Louises' maid are excellent second leads.  They get the best comic song "Let's Be Common", and have a badly needed song in the film's last twenty minutes.

 

Music is fine.  MacDonald's "Dream Lover" and Chevalier's "Nobody's Using It Now" are highlights.

 

Fine operetta, more than half the film is top grade Lubitsch--but most of the last half hour is not funny, unless you read the subtext, that partners should be equals.  Even then, Chevalier's pushing his luck. 3.3/4.

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From the sublime to the ridiculous, in following Film Lover's post about the Lubitsch film I watched this morning:

 

7:00 AM CATALINA CAPER, THE (1967)  

A group of teens try to foil a group of crooks searching for a stolen scroll.

DirLee Sholem Cast:  Tommy Kirk , Del Moore , Peter Duryea .

C-82 mins,

 

Okay, I should have known better since other than Tommy Kirk and Del Moore, no one seemed to have any acting talent.

 

What saved it from being a total bust, was the early appearance in it of the great Little Richard looking as pretty as ever and wearing a total gold lame suit, with zippered jacket and a flowing brown scarf and sounding marvy on the soundtrack.

 

I have no idea what he was singing, as it was not a song from any of his albums that I own, but he still could hit those high notes and had a voice so strong he never needed a microphone to be heard in the back row.

 

D- for the film, but A+ for Mr. Penniman!

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"The Private Affairs of Bel Ami" (1947)--Starring George Sanders and Angela Lansbury, directed by Albert Lewin.

 

Film might be subtitled "The Life of an 1880's Parisian Cad."  

 

Talky film filled with epigrams and biting one liners required an actor known for dry, understated delivery.  George Sanders was an inspired choice, as the success of the film rested on his shoulders.  Sanders rose to the occasion with a performance full of vocal nuance; whether he's getting rid of a lover with a yawn, pretending he Must see someone, or feigning Passion, Sanders is excellent.

 

Angela Lansbury as the dreamy Clotilde is good, and handles her share of the dialogue well.

 

Ann Dvorak contributes a world-weary, acidic performance as Madeline.

 

The amusing score by three different composers helps the film; Lansbury and Sanders get to sing, and both do well (Sanders has a good baritone).  Once again, a Lewin film has a painting (The Temptation of Saint Anthony) as part of the plot.  I haven't read the Guy de Maupassant (sp?) story that the film is based on.

 

Film suffers from too much talk; the  viewer is told things rather than shown them.  Still, an interesting watch, with a fine performance by Sanders.  2.6/4

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I Just Watched fallen to Page Two? Time to remedy that!

 

Okay, so I'm a little slow to writing about it, but I "just" watched Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974). Been some years since my last viewing, also likely on TCM. I was a religious watcher of Alice the TV series as a kid, and although I was dimly aware that it was based on a movie, I didn't see the movie for the first time until I was in college. You don't get to anything recognizable from the TV series until the second hour, so I recall it being a bit jarring, having settled into a groove, all of a sudden being thrust into this alternate universe version of my beloved TV show. I'm just in that age range where I was still in kindergarten or so when this movie came out, so for my first 20 years on the planet, I only knew the TV version. Same thing with M*A*S*H. Like M*A*S*H with Gary Burghoff, there's only one actor carried over from the film version to the TV one, and I have to say, compared to the incredibly one-dimensional work he did for like 10 years on the TV show, Vic Tayback was, dare I say, it subtle and nuanced in the film. You kind of felt like maybe he and Flo hooked up once in a while, something never remotely hinted at on TV. 

 

I find this to be a terrific film. Oddly, it's one I never particularly find myself looking forward to but always end up enjoying it. Scorsese on his ascendancy, this one coming just after Boxcar Bertha and Mean Streets and just before Taxi Driver. He certainly doesn't seem the first choice for a "woman's picture," but he, and of course Ellen Burstyn's bravura performance, lend an earthy sensibility and a lived-in realism. Scorsese's love of classic cinema is well known, and I wonder if it was his decision to go so full Wizard of Oz and Alice Faye in the first scene (except with cussing and threats of violence against children).

 

There are many things I could say about the movie - the brilliance of Alice's reaction as Tommy tells the same joke over and over, Jodie Foster's adorable juvenile delinquent - but I'll limit myself to this one: it made in a way for a sort of depressing double feature with Looking for Mr. Goodbar about the options available to women of the '70s when confronted with violent, psychopathic men. Watching Alice in hindsight, of course you want to scream to Alice, "Run! It's Harvey Keitel, for Pete's sake!", but of course in 1974, no one had ever seen Keitel in anything except Mean Streets, where he's actually the grounded one compared to Robert DeNiro's loose cannon, so his transformation from charming stud to totally bonkers nut job was probably shocking to audiences of the day. Alice plays it more blithely than Goodbar - I think we're even supposed to laugh when panicky Alice is trying to close her suitcase, then accidentally slams it into Tommy's side as they're trying to flee for lives. If these films are viewed as a time capsule, the 70s seems to have been an awful time, when the only choices a woman had were to flee to another city or, in the case of Goodbar, get killed. Also, didn't Alice's husband have any life insurance? Couldn't she qualify for welfare as a single mother? Seems like the idea she only had $1.59 was a little flimsy. Still a great movie, though.

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From the sublime to the ridiculous, in following Film Lover's post about the Lubitsch film I watched this morning:

 

 

7:00 AM CATALINA CAPER, THE (1967)  

A group of teens try to foil a group of crooks searching for a stolen scroll.

DirLee Sholem Cast:  Tommy Kirk , Del Moore , Peter Duryea .

C-82 mins,

 

Okay, I should have known better since other than Tommy Kirk and Del Moore, no one seemed to have any acting talent.

 

 

I was going to mention it during the Beach Parties on TCM thread, but thought it would give away that I'd only seen the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version:

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Send Me No Flowers (1964). Rock Hudson plays a hypochondriac married to Doris Day, living next door to best friend Tony Randall. Hubby overhears conversation from his doctor that a patient has a bad ticker, and since the conversation came right after his appointment and he's a hypochondriac, Rock naturally assumes he's the one who's dying. (He's not.) So he tries to make certain Doris will be comfortable after his death, including being able to remarry.

 

Hudson is irritating, Randall is forced to play a drunk, and Day does a bunch of inexplicable 180s that are much too sudden. There's some nice cinematography of 1960s interiors, however. (Watch for Tony Randall's brick red kitchen appliances. Yowza.)

 

5/10.

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"A*P*E* " (1976)--U.S./South Korean film starring Joanna de Varona.

 

Horrendous rip-off of the 1976 "King Kong" makes it seem as accomplished as "Citizen Kane".

 

The plot: a tanker is taking a 36 foot tall gorilla for exhibition in Disneyland.  Gorilla's tranquilizer wears off: he sinks ship in its' bathtub (yes the "Special Effects" are That Bad).  Among the lowlights:

 

Gorillas' battle with a toy rubber shark after sinking the tanker looks like the ape is teaching the shark how to dance.

 

Ape mercilessly stomps out cardboard villages and Army posts;the viewer hears the cardboard rip and sees the scale models shredded.  The "ape" is a man in a motheaten gorilla costume. Ape destroys a truly Pathetic imitation of Disneyland.  Falling boulders resemble Rice Krispies bars.

 

Deathless Dialogue--An order to evacuate: "Leave in an orderly fashion.  Do not bring your valuables!  They will only slow you down!

 

Angry General to subordinate: "Well, what the hell are You looking at? Is my fly open?"

 

The Low/highlight of the film; at 53:25, just after throwing a toy helicopter into a paper mache mountain, the Ape turns and Flips "The Bird" at the audience.  The filmmaker(s) were thinking:

 

(a)--the audience will know he's flipping off the Army.

 

  b--we Know the critics will attack our film, so let's show them what we think of them.

 

©--the audience will be fast asleep by now, they won't notice. (Actually, De Varonas' screeches keep the viewer awake).

 

(d)--any combination of the above.

 

Serious rating--0/4;  :"So Bad It's Good" rating-- 2.9/4.

 

Saw film on YouTube.

 

De Varona changed her name after this film.  She's better known as Joanna Kerns,best known for her role on the sitcom "Growing Pains".

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Fallen Angel - 1945 (or 46 according to Film Noir (Ward \ Silver).   A  20th Century Fox noir directed by Otto Preminger and starting Dana Andrews,  Linda Darnell, Alice Faye (yes, the singing star, who received top billing),  and Charles Bickford. 

 

Made as a follow-up to Laura "this less celebrated film boast many of the same qualities,  including LaShelle's imaginative lighting,  a romantic Raksin melody that complements the action, and the ideal Preminger actor,  Andrews,  whose presence encourages a moral uncertainty".

 

Saturday is MOVIES-TV noir night and they showed Fox 3 noirs all released around the same time, the other two being The Dark Corner and Somewhere in the Night.

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"A*P*E* " (1976)--U.S./South Korean starring Joanna de Varona.

 

 

De Varona changed her name after this film.  She's better known as Joanna Kerns,best known for her role on the sitcom "Growing Pains".

 

This was her real name; she is the sister of Opympic swimmer Dianna de Varona.  Kerns was her married name.  She seems to have faded after Growing Pains which I liked better than Family Ties but doesn't seem to have its traction in the rerun market.   

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China Moon (1994) Body Heat Redux

 

china_moon%2Bposter.jpg

 

Directed by John Bailey, written by Roy Carlson, cinematography by Willy Kurant. The film stars Ed Harris, Madeleine Stowe, Charles Dance, Patricia Healy, Benicio Del Toro, Tim Powell, and Pruitt Taylor Vince. The film was completed in 1991 and not released till 1994.

 

60 years after James M. Cain's novel The Postman Always Rings Twice, 51 years after its first uncredited screen adaptation Ossessione (1943), 48 years after its official adaptation Tay Garnett's The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) and 13 years after both Lawrence Kasdan's update Body Heat (1981) and  Bob Rafelson's remake The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981) come's China Moon, the same basic story of housewife Rachel Munro (Stowe) out to do her husband Rupert Munro (Dance) harm. The film even takes place again like Body Heat in Florida. The tweeks on the basic story are that this time the housewife is abused physically and mentally. Her husband, a bank president, is a wealthy philanderer. This go round the wife cozzies up to a homicide detective Kyle Bodine (Harris).

 

Noirish%2B08%2BChina%2BMoon%2B%25281994%

 

China Moon is worth a view,  it's a good primer on how a neo noir ought to at least look, but it's not an essential, it's like a "B" grade Neo.   Watch for Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets featuring Sam Myers during the JJ's Lounge sequence. Screencaps are from the MGM DVD. 6.5-7/10.

 

Review in Film Noir/Gangster and with more NSFW screencaps here: http://noirsville.blogspot.com/2016/07/china-moon-1994-body-heat-redux.html

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Check out Doc (1971) for another comparison

 

Harris Yulin is my favorite cinematic Earp.

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Harris Yulin is my favorite cinematic Earp.

 

He was really good in that. An unlikely choice, but a very good one, in the end. I read Keach's autobiography recently, and he talked about the making of Doc, and how they expected it to be a big hit, and launch both he and Yulin into the A-list of movie actors. Alas, it's largely forgotten now, although it has started playing on some of the cable channels in the last few years, so more people are seeing it.

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He was really good in that. An unlikely choice, but a very good one, in the end. I read Keach's autobiography recently, and he talked about the making of Doc, and how they expected it to be a big hit, and launch both he and Yulin into the A-list of movie actors. Alas, it's largely forgotten now, although it has started playing on some of the cable channels in the last few years, so more people are seeing it.

 

Never heard of this version of the Earp\Holliday tale.    I found it interesting that Faye Dunaway,  one of the top actresses at the time, was in the film with two rather 'newcomers',  NOT 'A' list actors,  as the male leads.  

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Never heard of this version of the Earp\Holliday tale.    I found it interesting that Faye Dunaway,  one of the top actresses at the time, was in the film with two rather 'newcomers',  NOT 'A' list actors,  as the male leads.  

 

At that time, Stacy Keach was one of the more highly-touted theater actors. Everyone (in the industry) expected him to hit big, but he never really did in films.

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I'm watching "Souls For Sale" (1923),  covers many directors / stars of the period

 

v-sheik.jpg

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A few of my favorite episodes from The Dick Van Dyke Show. Namely, "It May Look Like a Walnut," "Long Night's Journey Into Day," and "Draw Me a Pear." I plan on watching my favorite episode (as of right now) entitled "The Ghost of A. Chantz," in which Rob, Laura, Buddy, and Sally (and Mel Cooley) drive up to a cabin to spend the weekend in, and various events throughout the night lead the gang to believe the cabin is, in fact, haunted. 

 

I love this show so much. Dick Van Dyke was one of my first crushes ever since I saw him in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang when I was about 3 years old. This is truly a "classic" TV show.

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Did anyone else watch Action in Arabia (shown Friday)?  (* spoilers ahead *)  I enjoyed the first 45 minutes or so  - thought George Sanders was very good/charming and the foreign intrigue storyline had my interest.  Then in the last 15-20 minutes everything went crazy and it was as if they had to wrap everything up and include all the “Action” within a fixed 75-minute runtime.  Did I see George Sanders’ character shot in the back? (Perhaps I missed something.)  But he recovers and is able to continue like nothing has happened, and even wears the same dinner jacket on the return flight home.  It seems such a shame that the movie went off the rails at the end.

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