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The Richard Boone Show (1963–1964)
A wonderful show!
16 August 2017
I was five, yes,five, when this show first ran. Until recently, I judged on a single, wonderful episode, "Vote No on Eleven" which I somehow managed to see. Jeannete Nolan was nominated for an Emmy for her portrayal of a bag lady. Recently, I have been able to catch some episodes on You Tube, and what I have seen is truly excellent.It is very sad that this show failed to be a hit, as Richard Boone and Buck Houghton put a lot into it. The cast of the show was uniformly excellent.The shows music was by Henry Mancini, except for the first episode, "Statement of Fact' which featured music by Bernard Hermann.
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The Rover (2014)
illogical, grimy, nihilistic and pointless
24 June 2014
Warning: Spoilers
This is a profoundly nihilist, poorly written and illogical film. To list every gap in logic, far fetched plot element or bit of poor writing would be beside the point. Wait a minute, this must be ten lines long. So here goes. 1: Why did not just move the tires, instead of wasting time stealing a car? 2. Why not just give back the Car for the more useful truck. 3. WHY LEAVE THE GUN? $;.4, What the hell happened to the once proud Australian Army? 5.Why are US Dollars still accepted currency ten years after "The collapse"? 6. How did two mentally challenged rednecks make it all the way y to Australia.I know, this movie has people shouting "profound", " gritty" and "superbly acted". I saw none of this. All I know is that I and a friend just wasted five dollars-and worse, over two hours of our lives.
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Person of Interest: The Devil's Share (2013)
Season 3, Episode 10
One of the peaks of the television medium.
27 November 2013
Does IMDb plant to have a list of the highest rated TV EPISODES? If so, this deserves to be one it. The writers did the impossible. They topped The Crossing. This episode was jaw dropping in its sustained brilliance. I can think of no flaw. The acting, the writing, the music, (finest use of Johnny Cash's Hurt EVER.) and the cinematography was unrelentingly magnificent. I would list the highlights, but there is a problem with that. EVERYTHING was a highlight. The great Greek tragic dramas were originally written as trilogies. However, almost all are now lost, with the exception of the Oresteia. The "Heroes Fall" trilogy, as it mat eventually be known was, perhaps ,the closest thing to Greek tragic trilogy that the TV medium has yet seen. notably, like many of the best episodes of TV drama, the title had at least three meanings. In effect, three devils got a share. One was released from her prison. Another got his comeuppance. Finally , with HR destroyed, a third will move into the vacuum, and resume undisputed sway over organized crime in New York. In short, absolutely magnificent.
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Person of Interest: The Crossing (2013)
Season 3, Episode 9
Probably One of the Peaks of the Television Medium
22 November 2013
I have seen The Crossing twice. Each time, I have been more and more impressed. Unbearable suspense, superbly paced direction, fine camera work, crisp, witty writing, stunning performances from all of the leads and from the villains. It has some of the most exhilarating moments in television history, and one of two or thee most heartbreaking as well. If Kevin Chapman does not get an Emmy for this episode, I will gravely disappointed. If the writers do not, I will be startled. If Taraji Henson does not, I will know the Emmy's are fixed.

I will go further. This was comparable To James Agee's Lincoln (OMNIBUS) Orson Welles' The Fountain of Youth, The greatest episodes of The Twilight Zone and the Honeymooners, Marty, Patterns, The Comedian, Twelve Angry Men, Sam Peckinpah's Noon Wine (And "Line Camp" from The Westerner, , The Fabulous Fifties, the Chief Dan George episode of Kung Fu, "Jose Chung's From Outer Space" and "Postmodern Prometheus" (Kung Fu)My World and Welcome To it, "Fall-out" (The Prisoner) and the best routines of Ernie Kovacs. This episode didn't just PUSH the envelope: It BROKE IT.
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Superb "melodrama" with a deep spiritual-and theological -subtext.
28 May 2013
Godard, Scorsese- and Linklater- show their taste with their admiration for this rich, complex, and profoundly misunderstood film. Adapted from James Jones' overblown 1200 page follow-up to From Here To Eternity, this is one of the best examples of that misunderstood fifties sub genre, the the romantic melodrama/"dramedy", which was brilliantly practiced by Ray, Minelli, Sirk-and, even, sometimes,Robert Aldrich and Delmer Daves . Like the decade which produced them, these films are sadly misunderstood. The Fifties are stereotyped as "the bland leading the bland", however, a closer study of the decade shows inner tensions and paradoxes.Neither Eisenhower nor his decade were "bland " at all, but rather, rich in layers of tragedy and ambiguity, coupled with a suppressed restlessness and undefined spiritual longing in the midst of outward smug prosperity. Similarly, the glossy surface of fifties melodrama conceals profound tensions. On the surface, this films are just melodramatic "glossies", but a closer viewing shows extraordinary power and even depth. In part, this is due to acting that can only be described as excellent. The cast is close to superb. The main cast is divided into two camps; ; Three "rat packers" and f"respected TV stage and movie veterans. The rat packers are Sinatra and his trashy, vulgar pals, Dino and Shirley. Sinatra shows nuances of compassion and sensitivity through the smallest gesture or turn of phrase. Dean Martin, always wearing a not quite pure white hat, is far better than his reputation, playing a doomed small time gambler /hustler quite well. Shirley Mclaine's character, her hair a red crows nest, is a pig, a slut, a drunk,a dummy, and and a floozy. She is also a gentle, sad, human with a soul who truly longs for love, and -who knows-salvation.. They are the Films " Low-life" characters- its "sinners". The other characters are more or less "pharisees"- outwardly respectable but inwardly problematic. They are played by five excellent performers: Arthur Kennedy, Martha Hyer, Nacy Gates, Larry Gates, and Leora Dana. The last three were recurrent faces in fifties and sixties television. They were in EVERYTHING; Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Twilight Zone, Playhouse 90, Naked City, Route 66, The Defenders, Slattery's People, Channing, etc. Kennedy is excellent as Sinatra's estranged small town Babbitt of a brother., a weak and confused man, who alternates between genuine love of his bother, for his " scandalous " behavior, and envy of his honesty. Martha Hyer offers a rich performance as Sinatra's "nice" girlfriend. Despite her love for Franks character and her sincere desire to awaken his talent. she too no more understands him than Shirley does. This is shown by the scene in the classroom. In response to a students question, she goes into a remarkable soliloquy about the moral flaws of great writers , and how these flaws reflect their passion, their appetite for life. While these flaws should not be emulated, they also do not detract from the writers achievements, or lessen their humanity. Then, class is dismissed, and who should walk in but Ginny Moorehead, in all her trashy vulnerability. Hyer pretends to be compassionate and understanding, but instead sees in the poor B-girl every one of her lovers flaws. It is not until Ginny Sacrifices herself at the end that she perceives her essential goodness-and the goodness in Frank's character as well. Finally, there are Larry Gates, Nancy Gates(no relation) and Leora Dana. Larry Gates, who also played the peace-loving Missionary in The Sand Pebbles and the bigoted Fat Cat in The Heat of The night, is very good here as a perceptive and intelligent Small Town/Small college who understands Sinatra's character better than everyone else but remains very much a small town, small college, professor. Nacy Gates is solid as Arthur Kennedy 's girlfriend, who longs to flee Parkman and its insular hypocrisy. Finally, Leora Dana is great as Kennedy's Social climbing wife, who despises Sinatra's character- but still wants to use his literary reputation to inflate her own standing in the community. . The Production design is beautiful-as can be expected in any Minnelli film. In addition, Bernstein's score is driving , bluesy, and occasionally perfectly overwrought. The next to last sequence is Cinemascope at its highest. Finally, there is the subtext of the film. Probably, few who watch it nowadays grasp that the title is taken from The Gospel Of Mark. The "some" who "came running" are the sinners who came "running" to hear Jesus preach. The story , therefore, is implicitly about the search redemption, and about those who, for all their surface sleaziness, would "come running" if they were to actually hear the gospel: failed writers who hang out in dives, dying Gamblers with cirrhosis of the liver, Barroom searching for love. In short, A great film. Not quite an "Eleven", but at least a Nine and a Half teetering on the margin of ten, and sometimes toppling over.
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World War One (1964– )
Stunning documentary series that was a rating failure.
26 May 2013
During the 1964 to 1965 season, there was only one show that was more acclaimed than Slattery's People or Profiles in Courage. Not surprisingly, it was also the only show, other than news specials, to be a bigger flop than either. Weirdly, unlike James Moser's and Richard Crenna's masterpiece or the superb Profiles in Courage, it is not hard to find on DVD. It was World War One, a documentary produced by CBS News, to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the onset of the War That Was Supposed To End All Wars. I have seen individual episodes on The Battle Of Jutland and The little-known Italian campaign- a campaign which featured Hemingway, Wittgenstein, Rommel, Edward the Seventh, Mussolini Pope John The 23rd, and even Fiorello LaGuardia among its participants- and they are nothing short of brilliant. Using superbly edited contemporary footage and a remarkably literate narration by Robert Ryan, as well as featuring magnificent music by Morton Gould, this puts most modern war documentaries to shame. It belongs on The History Channel, or better, The War Channel.
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The Fountain of Youth (1958 TV Short)
probably would have been the greatest television series, ever.
8 May 2013
Television has had a few flashes of true genius: My World And Welcome To It, The Ernie Kovacs Show, the first few seasons of The Twilight Zone, The Fabulous Fifties, large chunks of Omnibus,Twin Peaks, the first five seasons of Lost and about half a dozen others. I would submit that I love Lucy was another flash of genius ( at least before it started to parody himself,) because Desi Arnaz was brilliant enough to use multiple cameras. Arnaz- and Lucy- were good friends of Orson Welles. While the Orson Welles guest spot on I love Lucy was one of the shows weaker episodes, Arnaz and Ball decided to produce an idea that Welles had. It would be a Television version of the old "Orson Welles Almanac". It would have combined non fiction vignettes with adaptations of off-beat short stories, dramatic monologues by Orson, and even bits of animation. The pilot was Welles' adaptation of John Colliers The Fountain of Youth,using stills, quick cuts, and daring camera and editing techniques. It was shown, praised ( It won the Peabody Award.)- and forgotten. Despite the fact that bit was a Desilu Production, none of the "suits" in charge of the Networks in those "Dick Danger " days wanted to schedule a "high -brow" television show made by an erratic genius. So, The Orson Welles Kaleidoscope" never made it to Television. This is an absurd universe.
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Omnibus: Lee at Gettysburg (1957)
Season 5, Episode 16
Fascinating "Omnibus" Verse Drama
27 April 2013
My last review was badly flawed, for two reasons. For one thing, it was based on fragmentary memories of an old book of classic television plays that I read when I was 13 or 14. More inexcusably, I ascribed the script to its director, Delbert Mann, rather than its real author, the brilliant Alvin Sapinsly. I finally saw it. It is on the second DVD of the excellent E1 release, Omnibus: James Agee's Mr. Lincoln and The Civil War. It was very, very good. The verse may have been imitation Stephen Vincent Benet, but it was still verse, metrical,, well rhymed, and fluent. The acting was superb. Above all, James Daly was a revelation- a better Lee Than Martin Sheen, and fully equal to Robert Duvall. Don Gordon, who usually played gangsters and cops, was great as Longstreet, while Dark Shadows fans may notice Dr. Lang, Addison Powell, playing Pickett. In short, this WAS one of the greatest things ever put on Television.
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CBS Playhouse (1967– )
The Last Stand of Golden Age Television Drama.
26 December 2012
Between 1967 and 1970, with a few scattered attempts afterward, CBs made a valiant attempt to revive the "Golden" Age represented by such superb shows as Playhouse 90. It was called CBS Playhouse, and despite usually anemic ratings, it was showered with Emmys. Two episodes were especially noteworthy. One was The Final War of Ollie Winters, starring Ivan Dixon as a black army sergeant in Vietnam. The other was The People Next Door, about a typical suburban couple who discovers to their horror that their favorite daughter has become addictd to narcotics. The whole series was superbly acted, written and directed. Naturally, it now gathers dust in the vaults at CBS Paramount. Do these people have ANY idea of the cultural treasures they keep under lock and key?
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Waterloo (I) (1970)
The (box- office) failure of this film was a tragedy
21 October 2012
After Bondarchuk made his colossal reproduction of War And Peace. ( Comparing King Vidor 's version to it is like comparing a paint by numbers watercolor to The Night Watch.) he was naturally chosen by the notorious Dino DeLaurentis to make the battle film to end all battle films, Waterloo.

Waterloo! Is any battle more famous, or more proverbial? With a superb score, a remarkable eye for detail, and stunning overhead shots. ( Not to mention an entire Soviet Army division ), Bondarchuk recreates the highlights of the Napoleonic battle to end all Napoleonic battles. ( Quite literally.)As far as I can tell, the only historical flaw is that The film makes it appear that Wellington's army was exclusively composed of British redcoats, ( Incidentally, one of the best British regiments wore GREEN coats.)when they were only about a third of the "Iron Dukes" polyglot and multi national army. The Kings German Legion, The Dutch, The Danes, the Hessians and the Belgians, are conspicuous by their absence.)

However, what really makes this film stand out is the excellent acting, beginning with the protagonists. Steiger, with his " New York School " method acting, captures the many shades of Napoleon's character: the brilliance, the rages, the sudden bouts of lethargy, the volcanic Corsican eruptions of love and hate.Plummer, the Canadian product of Stratford in the fifties when Sir Tyrone Guthrie was its guiding spirit, brings a very different style to a very different figure. Plummer's Wellington is dry, ironic, skeptical, a man of extraordinary coolness under fire, whose outward stoicism is relieved by sudden flashes of humor and even compassion. He has a job to do. He does it admirably, and at the end, he has lost all stomach for war. Dan O'Herlihy is superb as Ney, a man of extraordinary courage- and absolutely no judgment. Jack Hawkins, sadly at the end, still captures the gruff doggedness of Picton. Finally, there is Welles. This is from the phase of his career when he would do five minutes as Cardinal Wolsey, then five minutes as General Dreedle, all to raise enough money to somehow, someway, finish Don Quixote. Its Tuesday, so Orson is " working for the Russian on the Waterloo thing", doing five minutes as Louis the Seventeenth- and doing it magnificently, playing the corpulent shadow of the Bourbon dynasty as more of a tragic figure than buffoon.

A tremendous effort. Somehow, poor marketing, studio interference and the poor taste, historical ignorance and general stupidity of the American cinema going public lead to box-office failure, which had even more tragic consequences. Kubrick's proposed biopic on Napoleon was not green lighted, thus depriving the world of what should have an even greater film than Gance's Napoleon.
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Medic (1954–1956)
The first realistic medical show.
10 October 2012
James Moser was one of the outstanding writing talents in Television history. Sadly, he is almost forgotten and is, probably, quite unknown. He graduated from a Catholic college in California, then booked ship as a sailor on a tramp steamer headed to Australia. After working a variety of jobs in Australia, including journalism, he returned to the states and started writing for Radio. Jack Webb noticed his talent and hired him to be head writer on Dragnet. Moser wrote a wide range of teleplays in the fifties, including a dramatization of the life of Charles Proteus Steinmitz. Moser came up for the idea of an intelligent, realistic medical drama, that would star Richard Boone as Dr. Conrad Styner. To make sure the show was authentic, Moser worked as an orderly in a Los Angeles hospital for nearly two years. Medic, while critically acclaimed, lagged in the ratings, and was canceled after several years. Moser later came up with an idea for an even better, equally hard-hitting medical show, Ben Casey. Later Moser created another superb show that flopped in the ratings, Slattery's People. In 1965, he was the first person to receive The Gabriel Award from The Catholic Academy of Broadcast Professionalws for creating "shows that uplifted the human spirit." Of Course, NONE of them can be found on DVD.
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Get Low (2009)
A wonderfully textured, beautifully told story.
29 September 2012
Robert Duvall first burst into the consciousness of moviegoers playing that mysterious Southern hermit, Bo Radley, in the ineffable To Kill a Mockingbird. Now, almost fifty years later, Duvall plays another enigmatic southern hermit in this wonderful film. I cannot begin to explore the riches of this beautiful act of cinematic art. To begin, there is the almost perfect acting. Even the smallest character is painted with precise brush - strokes. Duvall, Murray, Spacek, black and Cobb offer portrayals of subtlety and wit. The script - which never strikes asingle false note- is rich in human interest, while the direction is economical and assured. Finally, the film captures its tie and place with astounding accuracy. This is a superb film, a profoundly American parable of sin, confession, atonement and redemption. 9.5
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Footsteps (1972 TV Movie)
Superb portrayal of the reality of College football.
27 September 2012
I last saw this when I was 14 years old and have still not forgotten it. Five years after he proved he was a superb dramatic actor by starring in the only good TV show about state and local politics, Richard Crenna played a far less likable character than Jim Slattery in this powerful, unblinking look at the cost of College football glory. The cast of this great film included Clu Gallagher, Joanna Pettet,Ned Beatty and Forrest Tucker.Clu Gallager plays the "Footsteps of the title, a mediocre Football coach (and mediocre human being) who needs his old enemy, the ruthless, win at all costs- and brilliant- Richard Crenna to turn his 2 and 8 team into a winner. Forrest Tucker plays an thoroughly sleazy millionaire booster. Needless to say, like the Television show I alluded to earlier, it is NOT available on DVD, and is never likely to be. well, Human stupidity remains as infinite as the Universe itself.
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Stunning Portrayal of One of the Great Rogues of the Twentieth Century.
1 September 2012
When Orson Welles made Mr.Arkadin, he was inspired by two remarkable figures: "Merchant of Death" Basil Zaharoff and "Match King" Ivar Krueger. The whole Zaharoff story has never been brought to the screen, though he was a key figure in that delightful British series, Reilly: Ace Of Spies. The even more incredible tale of Ivar Krueger was brought to the screen shortly after his suicide in Paris, in this obscure, but brilliant "roman a' clef" film from the poor man's major studio, Warner Brothers. This film is incredible, Somehow, two minor directors, unknown writers, and an obscure cinematographer combined to bring a film of considerable power and narrative originality to the screen. Did I mention the acting? That is what really drives the film. The still under-rated and obscure Warren William puts in an remarkably subtle performance as the brilliant, ruthless Kroll, who used borrowed (and stolen) money to build a world -wide empire from the manufacture and sale of that most commonplace and useful of objects, the match. Kroll lies, steals ans seduces. He has a brilliant inventor stuck in a booby hatch. He does not even shrink from murder. In the end, he is destroyed by his obsessive love for a Hungarian actress and his own belief in his invulnerability. In short, this is both an interesting example of how the old studio system could put together an stunning story with ordinary talent and of the far too little appreciated artistry of Warren William.
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The greatest game of GOLF ever played.
19 August 2012
When i first heard the title of this film, I thought it was about either: 1. Centre's Upset of Harvard in 1920. 2. The 1958 NFL Championship. 3. The last game of the 1960 World Series, 0r (a tie) Texas Vs. Arkansas, 1969 2.The sixth Game between Boston and Cincinnati in 1976 or 3. The "confrontation", Southern Cal versus UCLA, 1967. As You may have guessed, I prefer Football and baseball to golf. Having said that, and having seen this movie, I will say that this probably the best golf movie ever, and that the game it tells about WAS the greatest game of golf, ever. It was the greatest, not simply because an unknown 19 year old amateur, Francis Ouimet upset one of the greatest golfers who ever lived, Harry Vardon, (And another very fine golfer, Ted Ray as well), but because it marked a turning point in the history of golf in America, helping to make the game popular among all Americans. However, The greatest books about Sports- Beyond A Boundary, Friday Night Lights,, When The Colts Belonged to Baltimore, The Boys Of summer, and a few others, explore the social, ethical and spiritual context of sport, and so do the best movies about sports. This Is a great sports movie based on a great sports book, and it has both a socio - economic and an ethical subtext.

The socio-economic context in the book and the film is CLASS , and class conflict.Golf began as a game for aristocrats. In the very first scene, aristocrats confiscate the young Harry Vardon's family farm to build a golf course. Twenty years later, the humbly born Vardon is the greatest golfer in the world. Vardon is a self-made gentleman who infuriates the British golf establishment by picking the uncouth Ted Ray as his co-representative for Great Britain at the !919US Golf Championship. Ouimet himself is an social outsider, a working-class youth who stuns the US golf establishment by his superb play, which culminates in a three way playoff who determine the championship. Ouimets eventual upset win created an international sensation, In addition, the book and the film have a moral context as well. They both celebrate the virtues of true sportsmanship; courage, loyalty, perseverance, and hard work. They also show that true aristocracy is a matter of merit, not birth. The humbly born Vardon and Ouimet- even the Falstaff-like Ted Ray, possess more truly aristocratic qualities than the aristocrats of the gold establishment.

On top of all that, this is a well-acted, expertly directed, and superbly edited and shot film. In short, this is the best sports films, ever.
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Channing: A Bang and a Whimper (1964)
Season 1, Episode 24
Robert Stephens as Brendan Behan-and himself.
2 August 2012
Channing was apparently a fascinating, if erratic, Television series, and one of two serious TV dramas with a college setting. ( The other was The Paper Chase.) Channing was one of the first TV shows for such performers as Suzanne Pleshette, Tim Conway, James Caan, Peter Fonda, Bob Crane, Michael Parks,Keir Dullea, Joey Heatherton, and Dawn Wells, all of whom played students at fictional Channing College. Jason Evers, the guy with the fascinating eyes, played Joseph Howe, Korean War Vet, English professor, and would-be Great American Novelist. Henry Jones, the guy with he unforgettable voice, played his mentor, the college dean. In this episode, the great Robert Stephens played an old buddy of Howe, Irish celebrity poet Paddy Riordan, brilliant writer and self-destructive alcoholic and womanizer, ( Sounds like Brendan Behan- and Stephens himself)who visits Channing to lecture and read some poems. While visiting, he attracts a "groupie" ( Yes, Poets used to have groupie like Rock Stars today.), a star-struck young student played by Susan ( Imitation of Life), Kohner. Jones and Howe do their best to keep the young woman fe away from the doomed poet, but in the end, it is Stephens himself who must break the young idolater's balloon, and, in the process, discover the sad truth about himself. Why, or why isn't there a TV equivalent of TCM, to show gems like this?
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One Step Beyond: The Voice (1960)
Season 3, Episode 9
One of the weirdest episodes of the all-time weirdest series.
27 April 2012
I saw this one just once and it scared me almost to death. In fact, I have never forgotten it. It begins with a reporter investigating reports of a talking Racoon. Even weirder, the raccoon is speaking in Hebrew and classical Greek. Then it gets STRANGE. The raccoon isn't really talking, instead, a barely literate farm girl is using the raccoon as her mouth piece . The whole thing climaxes with a bizarre trial scene in which the farm girl starts talking in Latin, Classical Greek, Hebrew , etc. Even more weirdly, she is talking about a woman who was executed for witchcraft in the seventeenth century. Luana Anders is genuinely spooky as the "possesed" girl, and the great Robert Lansing plays reporter Jared Corning. This is one episode that seems utterly unavailale on video.
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Slattery's People: Question: What Is Truth? (1964)
Season 1, Episode 1
Superb first episode of a forgotten TV masterpiece.
21 February 2012
I will be candid. Even though there are copies of this episode at the Museum Of Broadcasting in Chicago and the Smithsonian, I have never actually seen it. Fortunately, the whole script can be found in an excellent book by Coles Trapnell called Teleplay: Writing For Television. Based on the script alone, I will say that this was very fine Televiosn indeed. Veteran scriptwriter James ( Ben Casey/Medic) Moser spent nine months researching the California state legislature, and it shows. the script does an excellent job of introducing all of the characters and portraying the day to day realities of politics. Jim Slattery,(Richard Crenna) eight year veteran of the state house of representatives, and leader of the minority party, is confronted by a very difficult political and moral dilemma. An ambitious-and very unpleasant- young state senator has brought sensational charges against one of Slattery's best friends,, another veteran legislator, Harry Sanborn ( the great James Whitmore). House Speaker Bert Metcalfe( Tol Avery) gives Crenna the unpleasant, but necessary , task of investigating the charges. Then Slattery discovers that the charges might be in fact true. Does he uphold the integrity of the legislative process, even at the risk of endangering his friends career? Democracy is ultimately affirmed, but at a tragic price. It is absurd that this terrific show is not available on DVD. please, CBS, stop being stubborn and stupid and release this magnificent show from the vaults!
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One of the most under-rated comedies of all Time.
17 February 2012
I notice from the IMDb ratings that his film only gets a 6.9 rating overall. Ridiculous. Somebody once called Albert Brooks the funniest man in America. To be honest, i second that emotion. This film, which I always delight in when I get the chance to watch it. ( Which is very, very rarely) packs more genuine laughter into a single word- "nest egg")- than a hundred gr5oss-out comedies and a thosuand dirty words, put together. I rarely agreed with the critic John Simon, but he put it well. Watching this exquisite film, you laugh so hard you cry. And what happens when you laugh and cry all at once? You see rainbows. Moral of the film. The next time you have a large amount of money and decide to drive across America in a Winnebago, drive through Utah, not Nevada.
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Omnibus: Mr. Lincoln: Part 5 (1953)
Season 1, Episode 14
One of televisions legendary classics.
3 February 2012
The 6.7 average rating for this is ludicrous. I know this only from Agee's poetic script and a few excerpts I have occasionally seen on TV.Sadly, it is buried in the archives and will,almost certainly, never appear on DVD. However, the reputation for this series among classic TV "buffs" s extremely high. It was from that magnificent series, "Omnibus", which was one of the first attempts to show that the "idiot box' could be an purveyor of intelligent, informative, entertainment. Royal Dano was excellent as Lincoln. This is the Lincoln saga as symbol and myth. All of the half-legendary lore is here; Jack Kelso(played by Agee himself.), Anne Rutledge, etc. This is the Lincoln archetype, interpreted by James Agee's tortured sensibility.
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1776 (1972)
The greatest film about the American Revolution.
2 February 2012
The American Revolution has not been served well on the Big Screen. Ican only think of three first class films about it; Drums Along the Mohawk, The Devil's Disciple, and this, my favorite. I first saw the Musical 1776 at the fabulous Fisher theater in Detroit back when in 1973. I loved it then. The Movie version fell sadly flat at the box office. There were some reasons for this. For one thing, it was the age of Vietnam and Richard Nixon, and patriotism- especially the intelligent, literate kind found in 1776 was out of style. Another thing that was out of style was Hollywood musicals.Almost every musical at the time was an over-produced flop, and most film-goers apparently thought 1776 would be more of the same. Finally, Columbia did a terrible job marketing the movie. The suits were stupid enough to think that their big hit would be the musical version of Lost Horizon, a film that must rank as one the supreme stinkers of all time, so they decided to focus on that silo of cinematic merde instead of this wonderful film.

I just saw it again in an uncut, restored version on TCM. To be honest, I can see no fault in this movie. The direction ( by Peter Hunt, who as far as I know ], did not direct another significant film in his life - His credits include such immortal series' as "Tucker's Witch") was excellent. The acting is terrific and pitch perfect, by a cast that almost never appeared in major motion picture's again, was very fine. I was amazed to notice the likes of William Hansen, ( who I only knew from a single "Slattery's People" episode.) and Dark Shadows regulars David Ford and Emory Bass in a feature film. I notice carping critics who say that Willam Daniels looked nothing like John Adams.( other than his height). Who cares? He TALKED like Adams, THOUGHT like Adams and FELT like Adams.

Finally,l there are the songs and the script. I noticed people saying that there were no memorable songs. Are these people tone-deaf? "Molasses to Rum", "look Sharp", the magnificent " Can Anybody Hear', the poignant duets between John and Abigail: ( Incidentally, EVERY word in those songs was lifted from the actual letters of Abigail and John.) these are merely the tip of the iceberg.

Then there was the script. It was witty, thoughtful, literate and erudite. This film is testimony to the fact that America was not only founded by bloodshed; it was founded by intelligent , sometimes painful argument. This show was not simplistic patriotism. No one who heard Molasses to Rume could think that. I hope to use this film with my American government students. It is one of greatest films about America-and one of the wisest films about politics- I have ever seen.
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Maverick: Shady Deal at Sunny Acres (1958)
Season 2, Episode 10
One of the best TV episodes, period.
30 January 2012
This has to be one of the greatest TV episodes of all time, ranking with "Sweet Prince of Delancey Street" ( Naked City), "Fly Away Home"(Route 66) "All The Time In the World"( The Twilight Zone-in fact, I can list about seven Twilight Zones on That list) "Who Do you kill", (East Side/West Side), the "Turkey episode" in WKRP, The finale of M.A.S.H, a few Lost's, "Opie The Bridman" and about a dozen others. In it ,Bret has his revenge on a crooked, greedy banker, played by the superb John Dehner, by enlisting ALL of the other con artists in a perfect scam. Dehner, whose character is no fool, almost catches on at one point, but his greed and vanity defeat his intelligence. Hilarious, fast-paced and acted brilliantly by the whole cast.
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Rawhide: Incident with an Executioner (1959)
Season 1, Episode 3
Haunting,weird, episode
24 January 2012
I was only a one year old kid when Rawhide premiered, and I only had fragmentary memories of the show, but judging from what i now know, it was very interesting indeed. Ihave recently caught two very good episodes of Rawhide on Encore Westerns. The first, Incident at Alabastar Plain, featured, among others, Martin Balsam and Troy Donahue. This episode was even better. Gil Favor, Rowdy Yates, and the boys encounter a stagecoach that has just had an accident. They learn that the coach is fleeing a mysterious figure. They soon learn that the mysterious stalker is in fact an enigmatic hired assassin, and that almost all the people on the stage have guilty secrets. In an apparent indirect Homage to John Ford's Stage coach , they include a cowardly 'drummer", ( The indestructible William Schallert), a cocky young gunslinger ( James Drury),and a pompous crooked banker , ( (Stafford Repp)as well as several ladies with 'colorful' pasts. The only person on the stagecoach who seems to have nothing to hide is a young blacksmith, ( Martin Milner) who has just inherited a farm. Who is the executioners intended victim? Then it transpires that the executioner (very well played by Dan Duryea) may have certain secrets of his own. Just what is in that doctor's satchel he always carries? In short, a very fine episode of this classic series.
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Profiles in Courage (1964–1965)
Deserves to be watched by all Americans.
19 January 2012
Though slightly dated ( none of the heroes portrayed are Hispanic, Amerindian or Asian), this was one the great, under-rated and overlooked Television shows of all Time. I first saw it, not on an American network, but on the Windsor ,Canada CBC affiliate, Channel 9, which often showed reruns of US TV classics( Twilight Zone, The Rogues, etc.-but not Slattery's People; perhaps it was too similar to Quentin Durgens, M.P.) They did not show ALL the episodes. ( I don't remember The Robert Taft episode or the Anne Hutchinson one), but they showed plenty, and what they showed, I loved. Together with The Great Adventure, it turned me into a history and political science junkie. For instance, it was the first time I ever heard of Frederick Douglass, whose dialog with Abraham Lincoln later became the subject of my doctoral dissertation. This show MUST be rerun or released on DVD, especially in this time of cynicism about politics and about democracy. Then again, what am I saying? That is like expecting the idiots at CBS to release Slattery's People or The Great Adventure on DVD.
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Route 66 (1960–1964)
Magnificent portrait of New Frontier America.
15 January 2012
Sterling Silliphant created two television series that should live forever, or at least until we have a nuclear war or a meteor hits us. The first was The Naked City, the first truly great Noir Police Procedural,which fashioned the template for almost every great Cop show that followed. The other had few imitators ( Mving On, Banyon, even , God save us, BJ and the Bear.). It was ,of course, Route 66. I had heard of this show for years, and finally caught many of the episodes from the first season on our local RetroTV affiliate. I know realize that it deserves its Iconic status. All I had known about it was that it had an unforgettable theme( NOT to be confused with the classic song by Bobby ( Emergency) Troup.)and a snazzy Red Corvette. I also knew that Martin Milner had starred in before he starred in Adam-12. After watching an episode, in which Lew Ayres played a Nazi-Hunter who meets our heroes on an oil derrick in Louisiana, I was hooked. The local Retro affiliate ran the show every day at Seven O'clock in the morning, right after The Cisco Kid. Forsaking Don Imus and Joe Scarboough, I watched almost every episode for about five weeks. With one or two exceptions, almost every episode was good, and at least seven were superb. I was especially impressed by "Ministering Angels", "Fly Away Home', "Two Drops of Water", "Play it Glissando", and an episode were Darren McGavin played a prize fighter. Perhaps it helped that I had just read On the Road for the first time. The show was well acted, and often poetic. Then, one morning, I learned that the Local station that ran it and other classic TV shows was switching to , God help us, a "life-style " format. Well, maybe, I 'll move to some city which still has its Rero station. Of course, by the time that happens, I'll be too old to enjoy it. We really need more networks like Retro, that rerun the great shows of all time.
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