Posts Tagged ‘Classic’

Movie Review: The Adventures of Robin Hood

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The Adventures of Robin Hood/1938/ Dir. Michael Curtiz & William Keighley

Oh yes, the tights, we must always go back to the tights! Easy for a man to look tough wearing 35 pounds of rubber and latex armor, but it takes a real man to look badass in tights. Not just tights, but tights and what amounts to a velvet mini-dress. You could call it a shirt, or a jerkin, but if anyone wore it today, we’d call it a mini-dress. We’d also call it pretty hot if a girl wore something that short. Point is, TIGHTS! You’ve got to talk about the tights first thin out of the gate, because otherwise it becomes the elephant in the room. Beyond that, this is a pretty great movie. Yes, the costumes and manners make the Renaissance Festival look like Game of Thrones. Yes, it’s about as historically accurate as a Walt Disney cartoon. Yes, yes, yes I’ll agree to most the criticism… BUT! This is also the single best movie about Robin Hood, and is still the most iconic. There are only a few Robin Hood movies that are any good, and this is the best.

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The Great Train Robbery (1903/Edison Studios/Dir. Edwin S. Porter)

Made in 1903, this is possibly the earliest western movie, although even the director of this movie would disagree with that statement. Not important, but he thought another movie was the first western, however I don’t think it was a proper narrative film like this is. See, before this time, most movies were just an event. Not even a series of events but a single scene with the camera simple pointed at whatever was happening. The earliest movies are quite frankly, dull. Unless you’re a movie nerd, or a history nerd, most of the “first” movies in history hold little to no interest because they were primarily just pointing a camera at a city street and capturing what was there. This was back in the day when simply seeing a picture move was enough to get riled up over. Now it’s true that there were movies with plot and editing and before this, but The Great Train Robbery was the first one to really bring everything together in a way that made it a big hit. One might say that this one proved there was something to this whole movie making thing. If you’re able, go out and buy Edison – The Invention of the Movies, which is where my copy of the movie comes from. If you get other versions, you may not get some of the brilliant use of colors that this one has.

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Last year, I almost wrote this review. Several things got in the way and I crapped out. However, this year I did actually write the review, so all is well.

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The Jack Benny Program (1960 CBS dir. James V. Kern)

There is something to be said about a man who could remake the same episode a dozen times and have it called “tradition” rather than “pointless repetition.” What it mostly says is that the guy was some kind of genius. So here is the lowdown on the traditional Jack Benny shopping episode: Jack has trouble deciding on a gift for Don Wilson and proceeds to drive the clerk (played by Mel Blanc) out of his skull with his alterations to that gift. Normally he buys an expensive present and changes his mind about this aspect or that aspect and then goes a head and decides to get the cheap gift by the end of the episode. Is that what happens here? No idea, to be honest I still haven’t watched it. Let’s lay down a fiver right now though. If Jack buys a gift, changes his mind several times and drives Mel Blanc insane, you owe me five bucks. Six if it’s a gift for Don Wilson. If it’s any conciliation, this probably won’t hurt much. I might be a little painful, but most likely it’ll just come off as dated.

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TV Review: Tales from the Darkside “Seasons of Belief”

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Tales from the Darkside: Seasons of Belief (Season 3, Episode 11; First Broadcast December 29, 1986; Laurel Productions; Dir. Michael Mc Dowell)

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What say we get this VEWPRF season started off right? What better way to get a season started than with an episode of my favorite TV show? That’s right, I’ve got a holiday episode of Tales from the Darkside and I’m not afraid to review it! Like so many other Darkside episodes, this one is based on a short story. This time it’s based on a short story by Michael Bishop a Locus and Nebula Award winning writer. The screen play was written by Michael McDowell who also directed the episode. McDowell is also the man who created Beetlejuice as well as wrote some two dozen books. So what I’m saying is, in this episode, we’re in good hands. Unlike some holiday episodes, this will be a joy to watch. And with that, I just guaranteed you won’t even read past the opening paragraph, didn’t I? Look, I like some things, okay? I try to review things I think I’ll enjoy. Of course, since my program is being handed to me by forces I don’t really understand, it might be crap. I can’t see that happening since at worst a Darkside episode is just dull, but it might. C’mon! Read on and see what happens!

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How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966 MGM Television Dir. Chuck Jones)

Well, here we are. One of the biggies. I mean, after Charlie Brown, this is THE cartoon classic for my generation, isn’t it? The story of the meanest guy in the Christmas special stable. How does one get their hate on for The Grinch? Oh sure, there is a logical inconsistency at the end, but it’s a small one. Sure the Whos down in Whoville make one rethink the idea of ethnic cleansing, but how do you hate The Grinch? He’s like the best character for people who are, at best, ambivalent about Christmas. Can I hate The Grinch? I doubt it. Can I hate this special? Only time will tell my darlings…

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It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966 CBS, Dir. Bill Menedez)

What would Halloween be for a Baby Boomer – Gen Xer former kid without Linus Van Pelt sitting in a pumpkin patch waiting for Santa Claus to come? What’s that? Oh yes, the Great Pumpkin was originally devised by Charles Schultz as an amusing story about Linus being badly confused about Christmas and Halloween. Since Linus started out as an eccentric baby in the strip, this was probably a logical extension of that. Oddly, the sun shows up twice inside of 6 seconds in this thing. Right at the opening bit, They pass the sun, and then just as Linus is going to throw the apple away they pass it again.

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Alice in Wonderland (1933 Paramount Dir. Norman McLeod)

Why did Tim Burton feel he needed to make a dark version of Alice in Wonderland? A nightmare-inducing version was made in 1933, and remains as horrifying as ever. Even in its cut down 77-minute version, it can scare an entire orphanage for months of sleepless nights and it wasn’t even trying. It’s just that the make-up is pretty creepy. I’m in my thirties, I’m not particularly squeamish and just the opening credit sequence is creeping me the hell out. I’ll explain about the open credits. See, Paramount wanted to exploit the fact that Lewis Carroll’s 100th birthday had caused a resurgence of interest in the Alice stories. This movie is based on one of the many stage plays going around at that time. In order to pull the studio out of a jam, they put all their biggest stars in the movie. However, the make-up jobs were so over the top that almost none of these big name actors could be recognized. The movie was sort of a massive, amazing, epic, almost studio ending… flop. Yeah, it crashed, burned, and took out a small village. Mae West had to shake her money maker like she’d never shook before in order to save the studio after this thing. A lot of people claimed the failure was that the actors couldn’t be recognized, I say it’s because the make-up creeped out strong men and scared weak and feeble women. Anyway, that’s a long enough opening paragraph, let’s dive in and see what we’ve got shall we?

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