Getting over disappointment regarding the sadistically misleading title of the 1943 WWII propaganda film "The Gorilla Man" allows thoroughly enjoying the recent Warner Archive DVD release of this B movie. The titular primate is wounded warrior Capt. Craig Killian, who earns that nickname for climbing skills that he demonstrates in our story.
The textbook fun begins with Nazi agent Dr. Dorn, who uses his private sanitarium on the English coast as a cover, learning through his literal spy network that the ship carrying Killian's Heroes back to Mother England from a commando raid was sunk. The rest of the story is that that band of brothers is expected to come ashore near the aforementioned medical facility.
A series of seemingly fortunate events leads to an oblivious Killian becoming a guest of Dorn and the even madder Dr. Ferris. A subsequent reveal that Dorn has a stranglehold on his associate turns out to be very apt. The coercion of Nurse Kruger is more despicable.
The plot thickens on Dorn learning that Killian is desperate to give British General Devon important information about a Nazi incursion. This leads to a collateral damage scheme to discredit Killian so that his superiors literally will not take him at his word.
The insidious Nazi manipulation leads to Killian having his credibility increasingly impaired, trying to stay one step ahead of the London police, and racing to try to keep the body count low. His inadvertently repeatedly acting as his puppetmaster desires does not help things.
Director of 101 projects D. Ross Lederman and writer of 154 scripts Anthony Coldeway earn their filler feature an A with a perfect climax. The usual suspects all convene at the scene of the crime where Ferris does his thing for his fun and for the profit of Dorn. Meanwhile, Killian is on site thanks to his aforementioned talent. The general and his senior staff meeting to discuss the now-imminent threat from the Jerrys provide the final piece of the puzzle.
The real fun come when Dorn overplays his hand and the general's daughter shows that she is capable of far more than lying back and thinking of England; the final shot does strongly indicates that she will be doing that later that evening.; one can only hope that she gets a chocolate bar and a pair of stockings for her trouble.,
The Virgil Films separate DVD and Blu-ray releases of the 2018 drama "Borg v. McEnroe" is one of many examples of those of us who are not sports fans missing out on a great movie because of bias against the overall subject of a movie. A personal example from this guy who has never watched "Raging Bull," "Bull Durham," or any "Rocky" film is that getting a review of the complete series of the Aaron Sorkin dramedy "Sports Night" corrected missing out on that terrific program.
As the title indicates, "Borg" centers around the genuinely historic 1980 Wimbledon showdown between the titular tennis stars. What the title does not indicate is that the movie provides strong insight into the psyches of the competitors and presents the main event in a very compelling manner.
An amusing aspect of "Borg" is having volatile Disney Channel veteran Shia LeBeouf play McEnroe, who is best known for having a short temper that results in throwing his tennis racket and verbally abusing match officials. One such incident evokes thoughts of the "Get That Pigeon" theme from the vintage Hanna-Barbera cartoon "Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines," A scene during the heated titular showdown in which McEnroe first is entirely prone on the court and then gets on his hands and knees may prompt sadistic viewers to have "assume the position" thoughts.
The aforementioned insight comes courtesy of alternating scenes that show the competitors in the years and the days leading up to the main event. Seeing the famously cool and collected Borg lose it on the court in his early years of competitive training is surprising; seeing how he becomes the man that he is in 1980 is an interesting coming-of-age story,
For his part, we see the many quirks of McEnroe that demonstrate the pressure that he feels. We further feel sympathy regarding his valid sense that the entire world is against him. This does not stop us from laughing when he curses out the Wimbledon press corps.
The lack of interest in sports is behind fast-forwarding through roughly one-half of the climatic match. Seeing how that transpires prompts watching the rest of that compelling event with amazing shifting results. The stamina alone of the players warrants each of them getting a trophy.
The excellence continues through the "where are they now" epilogue just before the closing credits. The post-match paths of our subjects is worthy of another film.
The bonus features in the forms of separate interviews with LeBeouf, Borg portrayor Sverrir Gudnason, and director Janus Metz provide further noteworthy insights. Metz expresses the aforementioned sentiments in stating his initial lack of interest in the project because of the surface subject but then reading the entire script in one sitting.
The Warner Archive April 23, 2019 DVD release of the 1936 drama "Jailbreak" reminds us of the good old days when men talked tough and dolls stood by their guys. This is not to mention a smart mouth likely earning you a sock on the jaw or a kick in the pants.
The plot thickens from the opening scenes in which made man Ed Slayden bursts his way into the successful night club of former associate/current truly legitimate businessman Mike Eagen. Slayden is on the lam from a heist gone bad and demands help from a sheepish Eagen. Although he is no longer a baad man, Eagen slugs a copper with the idea that that the anticipated resulting 30 days in stir will keep him out of circulation long enough protect him from Slayden until the heat dies down.
The rub comes in the form of the adage related to the best-laid plans of mice and mobsters. Eagen runs afoul of a two-strikes mandatory-minimum law that results in a two-year sentence, On top of that, prison guard Dan Stone has it out for the new fish based on their prior dealings.
Things go from bad to worse when Slayden and his gang get collared, resulting in becoming fellow guests of the state with Eagen.
The better news is that loyal Girl Friday Jane Rogers and crusading reporter Ken Williams are on Team Eagen. Rogers is diligently keeping the club doors open and doing everything else that she can to help her boss; Williams is using the power-of-the-press to sway public opinion.
A combination of a prison killing and a treasure hunt further rock the institution and transform "Break" into a traditional whodunit. The latter includes adding to the body count and assaulting Williams in the course of his investigation.. This is not to mention Williams proving during a close approximation of a drawing room confrontation that he is much more than a pretty face.
The titular event barely even is a "B" story as a group of cons decide that they want a variation of an early release. They soon learn that successfully going over the wall is not always a good thing.
"Break" being a Hollywood movie from the era in which the Hays Code is enforced ensures that crime does not pay and that at least some good guys get a happy ending. Everyone else simply gets another day older and deeper in debt.
Wrapping up the four-part series of reviews on the uber-diverse Olive Films August 16, 2016 Blur-ray/DVD releases that has dominated Unreal TV this week with the very groovy psychedelic 1968 dramedy "Wild in the Streets" arguably saves the best for last. This is because this satire regarding granting the actual disenfranchised the vote is very relevant in what arguably is a satirical actual presidential campaign makes it the most relevant of the four.
"Wild," which has a wonderful LSD vibe sound track, opens with '60s style surreal scenes of the oppression/abuse and subsequent drug activity and related rebellion during the childhood and teen years of later counterculture rocker 24 year-old Max Frost. Dreamy Christopher Jones of "Ryan's Daughter" does a terrific job playing Max as someone mainstream enough to (initially) not scare parents while being enough of a rebel to be a teen idol in this era of free love.
Using what seems to be the living room set of the wholesome '50s sitcom "Leave it to Beaver" for the childhood home of Max is almost as awesome as casting top-billed Shelley Winters as his status-obsessed (and later borderline-incestuous) typical '60s housewife mother Daphne.
The action soon shifts to the palatial estate where multi-millionaire commodity Frost lives with his entourage/band. These include adorable 15 year-old Yale Law graduate/accountant/guitarist Billy Gage (who looks as if he is one of My Three Sons). Richard Pryor does well in his early film career role as hilariously named drummer Stanley X.
Classic TV fans will enjoy seeing Kellie Flanagan of the '60s fantasycom "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" as the young daughter of Fergus. As a first aside, Flanagan states during a May 2015 Unreal TV interview that "Wild" star Hal Holbrook is extremely caring and nice. As a second aside, Flanagan gets one of the best lines in the film during her final scene in which she takes Frost to old school.
"Youthful" 38 year-old California Congressman/U.S. Senate candidate Johnny Fergus (played by a wonderfully youthful Holbrook) recruiting Max and the band to play at a campaign rally gets those kids thinking about the real-world issue regarding 18 year-olds being eligible to be drafted and sent to Viet Nam but not being allowed to vote until they are 21. A related thought is that the majority of the American population is 25 or younger.
These events soon lead to Fergus losing control of Max, who begins an aggressive campaign to lower the voting age to 14 as shown in an awesome video courtesy of YouTube. This, in turn, lead to other satirical reforms that take the '60s concept of not being able to trust anyone over 30 to a hilarious extreme. The expert handling of this includes every scene with Fergus and Frost having the other appear much taller than the latter and looking like father-son interaction.
The related hilarity includes what can be considered weaponized LSD, an outraged senior in every sense U.S. Senator witnessing the free-spirited debauchery at Chez Frost, and the straight-laced teen son of Fergus engaging in the cutest form of rebellion ever.
Like all great satire, this exagerated version of reality in "Wild" works because it uses a talented writer and director to determine what likable and/or absurd characters say and do. Being given power is a fantasy of the young, and absolute power corrupts absolutely regardless of who yields it.
On a larger level, "Wild" is fun nostalgia for folks old enough to remember psychedelic cinema and a great look at the "ancient" past for folks who have never seen a corded telephone.
The Warner Archive DVD release of the 1977 neo-noir with comic touches film "The Late Show" provides another chance to see that Art Carney of "The Honeymooners" is more than just another pretty face. This movie makes a great companion to the (reviewed) Archive DVD release of the 1979 Carney comedy with serious overtones "Going in Style" and his Oscar-winning performance in the 1974 film "Harry and Tonto."
The behind-the-camera cred. of "Show" includes the work of Oscar winner writer/director Robert Benton. His better known films include "Kramer vs. Kramer," "Bonnie and Clyde," and "Places in the Heart."
This change of pace for Carney and co-star Lily Tomlin gets off on the right note with the perfect balance between exposition and starting the action. Elderly private eye Ira Wells (Carney) is enjoying a quiet evening in his small shabby bachelor pad when an old friend stops by and drops dead within a minute of arriving,
The noirness of this film that showcases the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles continues with Wells reuniting with another old friend at the funeral for the dearly departed. Charlie Hatter (Bill Macy of "Maude") is an increasingly failing talent agent who introduces Wells to former client Margo Sterling (Tomlin).
The deceptively simple case this time is that Sterling wants Wells to rescue her cat Winston, whom a catnapper is holding for ransom in the amount of a debt that Sterling owes that scoundrel.
The plot thickens on Sterling literally bringing her troubles to the front door of Chez Wells by arranging a meeting with the not-so-smooth criminal; this results in gun play that fully sets the game afoot for Wells.
Discovering postage stamps on the body of the recently deceased leads to Wells investigating the theft of that loot in a robbery in which the lady of the house is killed. This investigation brings Wells to the home of fence Ron Birdwell (Eugene Roche). The "muscle" of Ron not hesitating to rough up Wells within a minute of his arrival can be considered nice commentary on a lack of age discrimination.
Wells brings Sterling along on a visit to a usual suspect with hopes of that discussion having the least possible trauma and drama. This pair discovering that someone literally and figuratively beat them to the punch draws our low-rent Remington Steele and Laura Holt deeper into the case.
More fun relates to discovering that Laura Birdwell (Joanna Cassidy) is involved in all the action to an even larger degree then her husband is pure Chandler or Spade.
Wells ultimately shows that snow on the roof does not freeze the brain when he connects the pieces in classic noir fashion. It seems that only pulp fiction can tie together a dead gumshoe, a ditzy damsel in distress, a murder-robbery that involves much more than meets the eye. an extra-marital affair, and a friend who dupes a good buddy into having to figure out all of it.
Benton shows genius in remaining true to gritty noir drama decades after the golden era of that genre, successfully showing new sides of Tomlin and Carney and getting that May-December team to click, and crafting a plot that keeps the twists coming until the end, It is hard to imagine that they can make 'em like that anymore.
Archive keeps the fun coming with a special feature that shows Tomlin bringing Ernestine the telephone operator to the party when she discusses "Show" on "Dinah" with Dinah Shore.
The recent well-remastered Warner Archive DVD release of the 1932 Kafkaesque crime melodrama "Night Court" once again shows that Archive rules regarding shining a spotlight on films that remain highly relevant more than 80 years after their premieres. The same is true regarding the Archive releases of the similar (reviewed) "The Star Witness" and the more campy but good (also reviewed) "Unashamed." These and numerous other Archive titles demonstrate that it is a crying shame that they don't male 'em like that anymore.
The prevalent social commentary in "Witness" and "Unashamed" is even more copious in "Court," which should not be confused with the "Must See" sitcom of the same name. This one based on a play co-written by syndicated columnist and film-producer Mark Hellinger has judicial corruption, a loose woman, and class warfare.
The pedigree of "Court" extends beyond Hellinger to include Oscar-nominated W.S. Van Dyke, whose 91 directing credits include the "Thin Man" films. The equally good cast includes Walter Huston as corrupt night-court judge Andrew J. Moffett and Lewis Stone as crusading member of the judiciary Judge William Osgood.
Our story begins with Moffett essentially having his pre-Code-enforcement kept floozy Lil Baker examining his briefs in his office before his version of a kangaroo court begins its session. A wonderful skeleton in the closet metaphor is a "Court" highlight.
These opening scenes establish both the blatant nature in which Moffett can be bought and the degree to which Osgood is targeting this man. Good humor from the swift administration of "justice" in the titular judicial venue stems from women being arrested for loitering on street corners. Poetic justice would result in fining them two bits.
Osgood closing in on Moffett prompts the latter to sentence Baker to hard-time in an apartment in a working-class neighborhood as part of a plan to hinder the investigation. Her role includes keeping a bank book for a secret account from falling into the right hands.
Both the melodrama and Kafkaesque portion of the film begin on Baker meeting her new neighbors. Mike Thomas is a blue-collar everyman who drives his hack all night while his loving wife Mary stays home with their bouncing baby boy.
Junior innocently taking a "smoking gun" from Lil and Mary inadvertently seeing that evidence puts a target on her back. Moffett initially sets her up for an unfair fall and seals the deal by having her appear in his courtroom. A proceeding that greatly exceeds the constitutional requirement for a speedy trial results in Mary becoming a guest of the state on the same day of her arrest. All of this occurs while Mike is driving his cab.
After approaching a grief-fueled approach to rock bottom, Mike learns the truth and begins to fight back. His lesson regarding the reach of the long arm of the law leads to him taking the law in his own hands.
This excessive trauma and drama culminates in the courtroom climax that particularly is a staple of Golden Age films. An unusual amount of dramatics result in proof that truth, justice, and the American way ultimately prevail. The reality helps explain why Hollywood is known as La La Land.
The Icarus Films February 5, 2019 DVD release of the 2017 Iranian drama "No Date, No Signature" adds more proof to the pile of evidence that world cinema eclipses even indie productions in the United States.
This release comes a few weeks after the announcement of the eight "Best Picture" nominees for the 2019 Oscars. Of this octet. having only seen "Black Panther" and solely doing so to keep up with the "Avengers" franchise reinforces that something is rotten in the state of California (and Wakanda).
On a lighter note, fans of the many (oft-reviewed) Icarus films will recognize the theme of a car striking a pedestrian that is an element of several movies in that catalog. It seems that a filmmaker who wants to increase the odds of Icarus releasing his or her production should have a character take one for the team.
Many of the 13 wins and additional 15 nominations being for rookie writer/director Vahid Jalilvand reinforces that that artist has excellent instincts. The fests that bestow that accolade range from the 2017 Chicago International Film Festival to the Fajr Film Festival the same year.
The following YouTube clip of the official U.S. trailer for "Date" further illustrate the merits of the film. It is a quality production of a compelling story. There is no reliance on the star power of the lead, and the story (mostly) avoids melodrama.
The opening scenes reflect Jalilvand striking a good balance between exposition and getting down to business. We see forensic pathologist Dr. Kaveh Nariman going about his business before getting in his car for the drive that changes everything.
Many of us can relate to the circumstances that lead to to Kaveh striking the motorcycle that Moosa is driving, These events also establish the theme of shared (and arguably ambiguous) culpability that runs throughout "Date."
Kaveh immediately does the right thing by offering medical care and monetary compensation; he also repeatedly urges Moosa to bring his injured young son to a nearby medical clinic. Moosa refuses the offered care and cash but indicates an intent to take his son to the clinic.
Anyone (i.e., all of us) who has experienced thinking that an unpleasant incident is resolved only to have it resurface can relate to Kaveh learning soon after the accident that the injured boy is DOA on arriving at the hospital where that medical professional works. The autopsy form listing the cause of death as unknown does not help matters.
The mystery for the co-workers of our Iranian version of Quincy is why he is so upset regarding the treatment of a boy that he merely identifies as the son of an acquaintance. The first part of the puzzle for Kaveh is whether the injuries from the hit without a run or the diagnosed botulism is the cause of the death of the deceased. A related issue is whether the boy would have fatally succumbed to the disease in a few days regardless of whether the accident occurred.
The survivor's guilt of Moosa manifests itself in his probable role in his child getting botulism. This prompts the distraught parent to confront a man with a role in those events. Suffice it to say that that exchange takes a heavy toll on both men.
All of this leads to resolutions that provide one-and-all realistic but not happy endings. The lessons are that many people can contribute to bad outcomes and that karma is the mother of all bitches.
The Breaking Glass Pictures February 12, 2019 DVD release of the 2018 supernatural mystery "Beyond the Night" shows that there sometimes is much more below the surface regarding himbos. Adrian Grenier of the hilariously rude, crude, and socially unacceptable HBO comedy series "Entourage" produces this small-town drama about a cold case heating up.
The bigger picture is that "Night" is part of a supernatural subgenre in which a youngish member of the military experiences eerie angst on returning to his or her rural working-class town. The review of the Breaking film "Lost Child" on this site describes it as a Gothic tale from the trailer park.
The seemingly obligatory dialogue-free opening scenes of "Night" has 30-ish soldier Ray Marrow rushing through hospital hallways to the bedside of his recently deceased wife. The copious deleted scenes that Breaking provides as a bonus feature puts this in perspective,
Ray next goes into the hospital room of his young son Lawrence; the first sense of the large red discoloration on the face of the boy is that it relates to the incident that lands him and his mother in the hospital. We quickly learn that this feature is a birthmark. Writer/director Jason Noto reveals much later that that distinction may be the source of Lawrence being the boy with something extra,
The first challenges that Ray faces on returning to the declining coal-mining town where he was born and raised are reconnecting with his son whom he barely knows and helping the boy deal with the loss of his mother. A kids say the darnedest thing moment provides further drama that drives much of the film.
Despite the pressures on Ray, a scene in which he fails to pick up a small mess that Lawrence makes in a grocery store is bothersome. Particularly a member of the military should have the courtesy to conduct the clean up in Aisle Four.
Strike one against Lawrence occurs during the graveside "party for Mommy." The lad persistently tugs on the dress blues of his father during the funeral.
Strike two occurs during the reception following the service. On being introduced to the mother of a 15 year-old girl who went missing several years earlier, Lawrence spontaneously says the name of that gone girl. This is despite the boy never having met June Rain or being told about her disappearance.
Those of us who have been on either or both sides of an "out of the mouths of babes" situation can relate to the "stuff" that hits the fan in the immediate wake (pun intended) of Lawrence invoking the name of she of whom one should never speak.
The plot thickens on indications that Lawrence may be the incarnation of June Rain. This greatly distresses folks with a horse in the race and locals who simply do not want to relive the unpleasant past. Meanwhile, Ray is trying to be a supportive parent in the face of his already "original" son calling even more attention to himself and making Dad the focus of the aforementioned scorn.
In the grand decades-long tradition of Lifetime movies, the powers-that-be with a role in June Rain evaporating already are nervous before Lawrence fingers one of them. The fact that the father of June Rain is well connected does not help matters.
All of this leads to a climax that begins with a western staple. The sheriff takes the person-of-interest into protective custody only to have a lynch mob attack the local jail, This leads to a revealing trip to the scene of the crime.
The bigger picture is that the truth reflects a few shameful tales as old as time about beauties and beasts. We see that the nature of man is not so respectable, that many wrongdoers would get away with it but for one or more meddling kids, and that those in whom we place out trust often deserve the level of trust bestowed on Rodney Dangerfield.
Breaking supplements this intriguing film with wonderful bonus features that extend beyond the aforementioned deleted scenes. We see Noto and a couple of stars interviewed on the red carpet at the Los Angeles red carper premiere of the film. This not including Grenier and his entourage is disappointing..
The Gravitas Ventures February 26, 2019 DVD and VOD releases of the Mr. Pictures 2018 dark dramedy "Bullitt County" provides a chance to see a highly entertaining indie film that is set in 1977. The accolades for it include the Best Narrative Feature Award at the 2018 Arizona Underground Film Festival and several wins at the 2018 Hoboken International Film Festival.
The following YouTube clip of the official "Bullitt" trailer perfectly conveys the themes and the tone of this well-produced atmospheric film. The omitted element is the numerous twists that writer/director/star David McCracken delivers. This is not to mention an overall sixth sense regarding the movie,
This film with equally strong live-stage and Coen brothers vibes opens with ghostly pale Wayne sitting in a diner staring into space. Meanwhile, Scott (No stated middle initial) Keaton (McCracken) and accomplice Robin are pulling up to a dark house that they are going to enter for an apparently nefarious purpose.
These partners-in-crime roust the nearly naked sleeping resident of the home, knock him out, and lock him in the trunk of their car. They then drive to their preliminary destination before releasing him.
We soon find that the fairly literally poor slob who is taken for a ride is Gordie, and that his captors are college friends who are throwing him a surprise bachelor party. The rest of this tale with shades of the 2013 Simon Pegg and Nick Frost bar-crawl horror-comedy "The World's End" is that the group (including Wayne) are recreating the journey that they took down the Kentucky Bourbon Trail a decade earlier. The desired final destination of this adventure is the Arcadia distillery. All of this is despite the group knowing that Gordie is an alcoholic with an extended period of sobriety.
The group having to quickly adapt in a manner that reflects the 21st century more than the 20th is one of the most amusing of several funny and clever moments in "Bullitt." Other notable humor relates to the arguably excessive frugality of Scott.
This stop also leads to Gordie reuniting with his first fiancee, whose age a decade earlier reflects a proud Southern tradition. The fruits of this reunion include this woman telling Gordie the story of a buried treasure in the nearby woods.
Things aptly go south on our gang looking for the loot; true darkness enters the picture on the landowner (character actor Richard Riehle) and his wife (Dorothy Lyman of "Mama's Family") finding the trespassers and inviting them into what effectively is a cabin in the woods.
Like all good films of this nature, one moment notches everything up a level. Of course, Gordie is the loose cannon in all this, It is equally predictable that his friends must literally and figuratively help him clean up his mess.
The gang then goes back into the woods, where things go from horrific to worse. There is the expected betrayal, the equally predictable response to that violation of trust, and a further descent into madness.
Also like all good movies with a wonderfully perverse sensibility, the final 15 minutes are the best. This is when the twists kicks into high gear in terms of both frequency and intensity. You often will not expect what is coming next. One aspect of this will be a desire to rewatch the film after knowing the whole story,
The apt epilogue to this post is that "Bullitt" shows that art sometimes still triumphs over commerce in filmmaking. We also see what a talented guy with just a few bucks can produce,
The recent pristinely remastered Warner Archive DVD release of the 1932 crime melodrama "Unashamed" allows folks who think that Golden Age films lack any real salacious edge to see how terribly wrong they are regarding that belief. This pre-Code shouldabeen a classic has plenty of illicit sex, bloodshed, and reprehensible behavior to satisfy the most prurient interest.
The slightly bigger picture this time is that this release roughly coincides with Archive bringing the similar (reviewed) 1931 William Wellman crime melodrama "The Star Witness" out on March 12, 2019. That tale of a typical American family having their lives turned upside down on witnessing a blatant murder has even more social commentary than "Unashamed."
"Unashamed" opens with titular heiress Joan Ogden having a joyous reunion with polo playing playboy beau Harry Swift, who unbeknownst to that loose woman is born Harry Schmidt. The first of many creepy moments involving Joan sibling Dick Ogden (Robert Young of "Father Knows Best" and "Marcus Welby") has the lovebirds joke about the brother and the sister relationship being a source of jealousy.
The audience soon is let on the scheme of Swift; he is after a $3 million inheritance that Joan will receive on whatever comes first regarding her father releasing that money or her having an impending milestone birthday. This lad conning his (apparently very successful) old-world style grocer father out of the seed money reinforces that he deserves the fate that he experiences.
Swift steps up his game by (apparently easily) seducing Joan into spending the night at a hotel with him; the idea is that Mr. Ogden will release the inheritance to facilitate avoiding a scandal by having Joan marry Harry. This is not the premise of the '50s sitcom "I Married Joan."
The existing melodrama amps on the morning after the walk of little if any shame; excitable boy Dick defends his own honor and that of his sister by killing Harry.
This transitions "Unashamed" to a wonderfully Depression-era courtroom drama. A highlight is having Lewis Stone of the "Andy Hardy" film series play defense attorney/family friend Henry Trask. The loyalty of Joan to her dead boyfriend is behind her failure to cooperate regarding the plan of Trask to present an "unwritten law" defense on behalf of Dick.
An uneasy truce results in Joan moving from the family home to a hotel; she agrees to attend the trial of Dick, but not to actively advocate on his behalf, Meanwhile, the prosecutor is asserting that there is not such thing as unwritten law. He further mercilessly grills Dick on the stand.
Things looking dire for Dick leads to arguably the best scene in the film. Joan is seated in an armchair with her hands firmly clasped against the arms of the chair and her legs pressed against the legs of the chair as Trask graphically describes the process of being fried in Old Sparky.
This wake-up call presents a dilemma for Joan in a manner that shows that chops of actress Helen Twelvetrees. Our lady effectively of at least one evening must resolve how to credibly change her story from asserting that Harry did not nothing to provoke the killing and to maintain what she considers her integrity while avoiding becoming an only child.
The 11th-hour solution is a good believable twist that somewhat reflects that the court system delivers justice, It also reflects the impending Hays Code by showing that no sin goes unpunished,
'The Last Ship' S5 DVD & Blu-ray: Tom Clancy Style 'Battlestar Galactica' With Shades of 'Moby Dick'
As they say, you can bring home all the action and adventure when Warner Brothers Home Entertainment releases separate DVD and Blu-ray releases of the 2018 fifth-and-final season of the TNT drama series "The Last Ship" on March 12, 2018. This also is the date that WBHE releases separate DVD and BD CS series sets of "Ship." WBHE does the fictional fighting men and women of the titular Nathan James proud with the copious bonus features in each release,
The proper perspective regarding "Ship" is to not allow any prejudice regarding the overall military theme to deter you from enjoying this well-produced program from action-adventure film legend Michael Bay. A comparable personal bias against westerns and sports-oriented films and television series has prevented seeing "Rocky" and many other quality productions. The setting of "Ship" largely is incidental to the compelling season-long story arc that has heavy shades of both incarnations of the scifi series "Battlestar Galactica."
Just like the opening minutes of the "Galactica" series, everything generally is shipshape and Bristol fashion at the beginning of "Ship" S5. Modern naval legend Admiral Tom Chandler (Eric Dane) happily is teaching at the Naval Academy; his Number One Mike Slattery (Adam Baldwin) still is active-duty but is living a life free of trauma and drama. The rest of their former crew is equally as happy as can be expected after their professional and personal ordeals of the prior seasons,
A celebration of normalcy complete with (ala "Galactica") the Nathan James now being a museum brings the band back together. Meanwhile, a small group of our heroes is trying to persuade a truly duly-elected South American leader to increase his security,
The lighter mood of S5 E1 provides for awesome humor; one of the best scenes in the entire season has tourists asking Chandler to take their photo with a life-size cardboard cutout of him. A real-life equivalent is celeb friends who no longer resemble their characters often sharing tales of fans ignoring them in favor of actors who play supporting roles when the two are out-and-about together,
Two closely-related events change everything for our heroes and everyone else in their world. Colombian terrorist/S5 nemesis Gustavo "Tavo" Barros escalates his rhetoric regarding United States domination of Central and South America to the level of killing the aforementioned South American leader and executing a Pearl Harbor-style attack on the aforementioned festivities that the U.S. naval fleet is attending. The scenes of the latter make excellent use of the skills of "Pearl Harbor" producer Bay.
The attack using an insidious in every sense computer virus that plays a role in knocking our military tech. back to the WWII-era while the enemy enjoys all the modern conveniences adds several interesting elements to S5. We see how the keyboard kids of today are modern heroes and how the old salts use human brainpower to adapt when tech. fails. In other words, everyone brings something to the table.
S5 goes even more old school by having the 19th-century novel Moby Dick play a prominent role; this begins with the Melville prose being a favorite read of Chandler. We also see this text help the squids adapt to the new normal, This is not to mention things being very personal for both Barros and Chandler and the latter facing an enemy that more closely resembles a whale.
A more modern element enters the picture in the form of Chandler rejecting his desk-jockey role to repeatedly throw himself in the midst of the action ala Jack Bauer of "24." This also is a akin to a "Star Trek" captain ignoring the desire of his or her crew to participate in a dangerous away mission.
Much of the action centers around the Trump scenario of very bad hombres marching el norte to add territory to Gran Colombia and ultimately invade the United States. The threat is very real this time, and a wall will not be a significant deterrent.
This war game also involves both Mexico and Cuba having high strategic importance, This requires that Chandler use diplomacy to get the leaders of these two countries with animosity toward each other to kiss and make-up.
Meanwhile back at home, the "24" element is very strong. An aforementioned guy in the chair has identified both the aforementioned virus and the means by which it cripples the Navy. This is only part of the story.
The rest of the tale is that the person who creates the harm does so inadvertently and is the victim of a "24" style betrayal. Although this aspect of "Ship" is as well-written and executed as the rest of the story, it arguably reflects a disliked stereotype of the past that portrays a certain demographic as psychotic.
The discovery of the truth leads to a manhunt that culminates in events that show that the military strategists forget the lesson of the Trojan Horse, This leads to some of wonderfully "Die Hard" style mayhem that includes handling a hostage situation with extreme prejudice.
Devastating losses on both sides have particularly brought Barros to the edge of madness and have taken a heavy toll on Chandler by the season and series finale. Their final showdown is reminiscent of Kirk v. Khan. One lesson here for both sides is to not allow your emotions to take control.
The final adventure also has Chandler take his boldest action ever; this leads to an incredibly surreal sequence that pays homage both to naval tradition and to Charles Dickens. It being the end of a five-year mission makes it equally probable that our hero will experience a fitting death and will return to his teaching duties until the next global crises requires that he once again cowboys up.
As indicated above, "Ship" S5 is a typically compelling Bay thrill ride. It easily passes the "one more" test and will leave you desiring further adventures.
The Warner Archive March 12, 2019 DVD release of the Oscar-nominated 1931 crime melodrama film "The Star Witness" is part of an awesome recent series of Archive releases of this niche genre. Upcoming posts on "Unashamed" and "Woman Wanted" reinforces the star power and the entertainment value of movies with this theme.
"Witness" has the best pedigree and the related most depth of the three films. William Wellman of "The Public Enemy" and the 1937 version of "A Star is Born" directs. The cast includes Walter Huston and vaudeville legend Charles "Chic" Sale.
Written narration at the beginning of "Witness" sets the stage for the story and the theme of the morals by stating that the action occurs in every American city.
The plot thickens a few minutes into the film as the Leeds family settles down to dinner. Father George is a middle-aged middle-management bean counter; spouse Abby is a typical housewife who tries to keep everyone well-fed and clean and also tries to maintain domestic tranquility.
Eldest son Jackie is a cautionary tale; he is an unemployed high-school dropout who spends his days at the pool hall and has unrealistically grand expectations. He also has very little respect for George despite that man providing him a comfortable standard of living in those very rough economic times. Daughter Sue is a modern woman with a job and a boyfriend with whom she openly gets affectionate in his car while parked outside the Leeds family home.
Little Rascal Donny is a tough-talking little-league loving everyboy; he deals with his low position on the family totem by bullying baby of the family Ned. This does not prevent Ned from idolizing his slightly older brother.
The "Grandpa Simpson" of the family is feisty Battle of Bull Run veteran "Private Summerhill." This feisty old codger barges in uninvited playing his fife as the family is eating dinner. The added insult to the injury is his announcement that he staying for a couple of days.
Relative calm has descended when the clan hears a ruckus in the street below; this prompts the group to rush to the window in time to see a wild chase complete with gunfire; this culminates in an essentially front-row seat for a man fatally shooting two others.
The plot further thickens on the gunman rushing into the Leeds home and terrorizing the family before taking a powder.
The cops soon show up and conduct what may be the most laughably suggestive identification process in film history; this leads to arresting gangster Maxey Campo.
The resolve of the Leeds family is tested as Team Campo puts on the heat to get them to change their story; this includes an entertaining beatdown of a gullible George, Meanwhile District Attorney Whitlock (Huston) is trying to get the titular smoking gun to not waiver from fingering the perp. at his trial.
Eleventh hour pressure creates drama as both sides strive for a favorable outcome. A sign of the times that represents a generation gap has Jackie balking at sticking his neck out for the greater good and his grandfather advocating fulfilling a patriotic duty.
The moral of this tribute to truth, justice, and the American way is not let bullies prevent you from doing the right thing despite the cost of standing up to tyranny.
The expertly remastered Warner Archive February 26, 2109 DVD release of the innovative 1947 noir film "Lady in the Lake" provides a chance to watch a well-produced film that is unlike anything that you previously seen. This version provides the sharp visual contrasts between dark and light that enhance the enjoyment of this genre.
The general concept of this film version of the titular novel by pulp-fiction god Raymond Chandler is boilerplate (pun intended); the execution sets it apart from the better-known fare that particularly showcases the talents of Humphrey Bogart.
The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "Lady" both explains and illustrates the aforementioned innovation. This predecessor to the 1996-2007 children's program "Blue's Clues" has Marlowe (Robert Montgomery) lead the viewer through the investigation around which the film is centered. Additionally, the POV entirely shifts to the perspective of Marlowe after he clues (pun intended) us in on the concept of the film.
The manner in which Marlowe gets embroiled in the latest adventure that proves that dames ain't nothin' but trouble and that no one can be trusted also deviates from the norm. Rather than reading a newspaper article about a nefarious act or having a damsel in distress or other asserted innocent come to his office, Marlowe proves to be his own worst enemy from the outset.
Setting the film in the days leading up to Christmas and having it conclude on that special day adds a wonderful touch of cynicism; we learn that death, deceit. and betrayal do not take holidays.
Our adventure begins with the private dick expressing his creativity by writing a short story; this prose catching the eye of pulp-fiction magazine editor A (for Adrienne) Fromsett brings him to her office, On arriving, he learns that the lady doth prevaricate too much.
Fromsett uses the story as a pretense to sell Marlowe on locating the wife/object of monetary-based affection Derace Kinmgsby. The rest of the known story is that Mrs. Kingsby is a runaway spouse purported to run for the border to get a quickie divorce.
The trail stops at the same place that the plot thickens. Fromsett steers Marlowe to a vacation cabin of the Kingsburys. A report of the drowning of the wife of the caretaker validly triggers the spidey sense of Marlowe.
An interview with a local playboy putting Marlowe on the radar of the police, and a cop that Andy Sipowicz of "N.Y.P.D. Blue" would describe as having a hard-on for Marlowe in a not-good way having an interest in the aforementioned death well outside his jurisdiction further prompts potentially fatal curiosity of that cool cat Marlowe.
Marlowe discovering a body and finding himself both repeatedly knocked out and set up for falls keeps things traditional for the noir genre. This climaxes in two gunpoint confrontations that reflect the Bond villain flaw of boasting about your success merely when you have the upper-hand over your pursuer.
The bigger picture is that the experimental nature of "Lake" exceeds the interactive and "through-the-eyes" of perspective, Montgomery is a relatively mild-mannered and light-drinking Marlowe, His quips and Chandleresque imagery is much more subdued than recalled in the novels and definitely in pure classic and neo-noir. All this makes "Lady" more of a traditional murder mystery than a detective novel; thus, it is not your grandfather's Marlowe film.
The recent Warner Archive DVD of the Oscar-winning 1943 Bette Davis anti-fascist drama "Watch on the Rhine" provides a good chance to watch a film with a still highly relevant message, This story beginning life as a play helps explain the live-stage vibe. The thoroughly delightful "Warner Night at the Movies," which includes a newsreel and a HILARIOUS Daffy Duck cartoon, greatly enhances the WWII-era experience of watching "Rhine."
The screen cred. this time extends well beyond Davis; Dashiell Hammett and Lillian Hellman collaborate on the screenplay, We also get Davis co-star Paul Lukas winning a well-deserved Best Actor Oscar. The supporting cast including Geraldine Fitzgerald, Beulah Bondi, and Lucille Watcon reinforces that this is one to add to your home-video library.
Watson and Hammett only being nominated for Oscars shows that "Rhine" don't get nearly the deserved respect. The New York Film Critics awarding "Rhine" Best Picture honors in 1943 and the USA National Board of Review similarly lauding the movie and Lukas is solid compensation.
The following YouTube clip of a "Rhine" trailer highlights all of the elements touched on above; it also shows why the peepers of Bette Davis warrant an '80s pop song.
Our story begins with expat heiress Sara Mueller (nee Farrelly), her German born-and-raised husband Kurt Mueller (Lukas), and their three children heading El Norte across a wall-free border from Mexico to the United States in 1940. They are going to the Virginia family estate of Sara. Widowed Fanny Farrelly (Wilson) still rules the roost with an white-glove-clad iron fist,
One can easily imagine the reactions of the Von Trapp children on landing in Vermont being akin (pun intended) to that of the Mueller kinder on arriving at the home of their grandmother. This would be especially so if the Von Trapps had lived an impoverished nomadic existence for the prior several years.
The action soon shifts to breakfast time at Chez Farrelly. Ala Southfork, the adult kids and extended houseguests call the showplace home. Son David has a respectable job befitting the offspring of a former U.S. Supreme Court justice. However, his personal life is not quite as above reproach, His misdeeds include borderline inappropriate behavior with long-time family friend/houseguest Marthe de Brancovis (Fitzgerald).
The loathsome Count Teck de Brancovis is enjoying a life of luxurious leisure SOLELY courtesy of his marriage. His numerous sins include amassing debt that he has no prayer of repaying and gambling the cash that he acquires. His lenient attitude toward the Nazis displays another of his many characters flaws.
Worlds collide when anti-fascist Kurt moves into the same house as Teck; the political views of the former and suspicions that he raises prompt the latter to develop thoughts of profiting from his poker-playing Aryan brothers at the German Embassy.
The aforementioned suspicions include Sara and Kurt being cagey regarding their life during much of the '30s. They clearly have something to hide, particularly from Teck.
Much of the mastery of "Rhine" relates to the manner in which it depicts the rapidly increasing turmoil in Europe proportionately affecting American families. Our central household goes from daily life and Fanny excitedly preparing for the arrival of her daughter and her grandchildren to the tension that must be seen to be understood,
Things fully come to a head when overseas news equally emboldens Teck and causes Kurt justifiable angst. Anyone familiar with Golden and Silver Age Hollywood fare know that both men react in manners that are very true to their characters. At the same time, the resolution is shocking.
Hammett and Hellman additionally deliver regarding penning a conclusion that is far from a "happily ever after" Hollywood ending. We fully see that war is Hell.
Warner Archive misses it by that much regarding releasing the beautifully remastered Blu-ray of the 1985 crime drama "Year of the Dragon' on February 19 2019, which is a few weeks after Chinese New Year. Although it is is unknown if traditional Chinese culture considers the number 21919 lucky, it is certain that that sequence of digits is lucky for fans of quality neo-noir.
The street creed. of "Dragon" begins with Mickey Rourke doing his unhinged outsider bit very well as crusading police captain/Vietnam vet Stanley White, who changes his name to conceal his Polish ancestry. The pedigree continues with director Michael Cimino, whose credits include "The Deer Hunter;" we do not discuss "Heaven;s Gate." Cimino also provides audio commentary for this release.
The man who needs no introduction Oliver Stone co-writes the sceenplayer. Super-producer Dino De Laurentis oversees the entire project.
The overall theme of "Dragon" is that there is big trouble in Little China (a.k.a. the Manhattan Chinatown). Gangs of young punks are moving in on the territory of the established crime bosses; this largely takes the form of muscling in on the protection rackets and enforcing the "or else" aspect of this with extreme prejudice, For their part, the caught-in-the-middle respectable Italian businessmen are upset with the old bosses for not keeping the kids in line.
Stereotypical son-in-law Joey Tai (John Lone of "The Last Emperor)) also is a man in the middle. His impatience regarding waiting for his father-in-law to retire prompts Joey to commit his own act of extreme prejudice. The consequences of this include the seemingly age-old pattern of a family business suffering each time that the next generation assumes leadership of the enterprise,
The civilian with a horse in the race is Asian television reporter Tracy Tzu, who is investigating the increased violence in Chinatown. The good news is Tzu represents a positive image of a well-educated Asian woman with a success story that begins with a great-grandfather whose life in America consists of difficult menial work under very difficult circumstances.
The bad news is that many folks who are familiar with the long-running crude animated sitcom "Family Guy" will think of the character whose on-air reports always begin with "this is Asian reporter Tricia Takanawa" when they see Tzu on the job. The better news is that such a reprehensible connection prompts deep feelings of shame.
Our oft-transferred White knight, who does not work or play well with others, enters the picture in the midst of all this, Irony appears in the form of the same police officials who look the other way in exchange for the Old Guard keeping the peace in Chinatown calling in White knowing that he does not play that way.
On the homefront, Mrs. Connie White is fully frustrated regarding the prices that she pays regarding the efforts of her husband to protect and serve the general population with doing either her. His teaming up with Tzu does not help matters.
The rest of the story is that a hilarious noir version of divine intervention is helping White with his effort to disrupt a massive drug deal with which Tai is involved. Other humor enters the picture in the form of a rookie being the only reliable option regarding using an undercover cop.
Our team of experts in-front-of and behind-the-camera particularly deliver as events build to the inevitable showdown between White and Tai. The collateral damage is high and more violent than expected, and White learns that no good deed goes unpunished. The lack of a sequel is the real crime.
As the disclaimers (and the reference to Takanawa) regarding the depiction of Chinese culture reflect, "Dragon" sadly is a film that likely would not be made in 2019. The backlash against the stereotypes despite the sympathy expressed toward the treatment of Asian immigrants would be the tip of the iceberg. The violence against women and the lack of female police officials would seal the deal regarding "Dragon" not even seeing the light-of-day as a direct-to-video release in the Wal-Mart bargain bin.
The same right-thinking people who do not judge people based on stereotypes and who find abuse of anyone abhorrent should realize that fictional depictions of those ills are PURELY for entertainment purposes and do not necessarily reflect the views of those associated with the production. It does not seem that depicting a female who ultimately must obey her man and allow him to imprison her in a bottle for merely asserting her views stops anyone from loving "I Dream of Jeannie,"
Context, people. Context.
The recent Film Movement Classics triple feature Blu-ray release of '60s and '70s films by Joe "Chekov of Soft Core" Sarno is the latest addition to Classic's "Joseph W. Sarno Retrospect Series." The Unreal TV post on the most recent double feature of "All the Sins of Sodom" and Vibrations" includes links to the separate posts on the first Classics Blu-ray double feature of Sarno films and on the documentary "My Life in Dirty Movies" about Sarno.
This latest collection of Sarno films begins with That '70s Skin Flick in the form of the early '70s movie "Confessions of a Young American Housewife," This one is notable both for being the only color one in "Retrospect" and for being highly amusing, The humor includes a middle-aged woman actually named Mrs. Robinson who seduces the grocery delivery boy. This enticement is pure porn from the first knock at the door to the final bang in the bed,
The title refers to the aforementioned Jennifer Robinson winning a 1963 "Young American Housewife" award; this is one basis for daughter Carole believing that her now-single mother is living a chaste and celibate life. The audience soon learns that carpets and the drapes of this happy homemaker clash.
Carole also initially thinks that her visiting mother (who enjoys making tasty cream pies) is not cool enough to accept her and the girl-next-door swinging in every possible combination of coupling. Carole learning that her nymphomania is hereditary allows the game to fully get afoot. The modern variations of the Oedipal Complex contribute to the fun.
"Sin in the Suburbs" is an NC-17 version of wonderfully cheesy films about unfulfilled '60s and '70s housewives. The residents of this Peyton Place include the nymphomaniac wife of a young executive, the MILF of a teen daughter with a horny boyfriend, and the grass widow whose divorcee status makes her an outcast. Although her brother is the new man of the house, the fallen woman takes charge of persuading a creditor to not repossess the furniture.
The scandalous secrets extend beyond the aforementioned boyfriend trying to keep it in the family; the copious other action includes a workman who lays down on the job.
All this inspires "Bro" to start a special club for the neighbors. The first two rules of this organization with a strict dress code are that you do not talk about it. Suffice it to say that every member pays his or her dues.
"Warm Nights, Hit Pleasures" can be considered "The Facts of Life After Dark." A freshman coed at an upstate New York college makes a connection that inspires her to persuade her friends to drop out and to move to Manhattan to find fame and fortune. Of course, they end learning the price of fame.
The fun extends beyond nude dancing to showing an out-of-towner a good time. One of the girls also bonds with their landlady, who is a "calendar" model.
Like the other Sarno joints, each of these three movies combine porn-movie acting with good production values and stories with reasonable depth. The set up go well beyond a UPS guy telling a housewife in a negligee that he has a big package for her. Additionally, the artistry of the films leaves a little bit to the imagination.
Several deleted scenes from "Housewife " are a highlight of the DVD extras. Classics saves the best for last by finishing the reel with an orgy scene that seems too hot for Sarno. That one clearly shows that cast loves their work.
The readily-available vintage Warner Archive DVD of the 1955 action-adventure period-piece "Moonfleet" (1955) is a wonderful Band-aid for what ails most of us during our winter of extreme discontent. The bright and wide CinemaScope format greatly enhances this atmospheric piece set in the titular community on the moors of Dorsetshire.
Fritz Lang ("Metropolis") utilizes his off-beat style very well in this Dickens/Stevenson tale of orphaned boy John Mohune going to Moonfleet to start a beautiful friendship with Jeremy Fox (Stewart Granger), who has a history with the mother of the boy. Although not explicitly stated in this '50s film, there is little doubt that the fox made his way into the hen house and that John is the product of that welcome incursion.
The opening scenes have John walking the moors in search of his new life; a fright for both him and the audience leads to his waking up in a tavern surrounded by a motley crew. The dashing upper-class Fox soon arrives on the scene and takes control.
We soon see that the road that is Hell on which to ride on is paved with good intentions as Fox has the lad shoved into a carriage and shipped back to civilization, The manner in which Fox describes the intended schooling of John is hilarious. Our excitable boy will have none of that and escapes.
The journey continues as John arrives at his ancestral house that Fox now owns. The debauchery that the once heir to the manor witnesses furthers his education. Suffice it to say, Fox is not pleased to see this minor inconvenience.
The Robert Louis Stevenson vibe is particularly strong as an eerie night-time wandering by John leads to his literally stumbling into the lair of a group of smugglers. Learning the extent to which this activity hits home is the first shock for our boy; finding himself without an immediate exit strategy is the next.
Additional harrowing events lead to a father-figure and son treasure hunt that they hope will go well. This involves bonding that extends beyond the divorced dad staple of a round of mini-golf. Nothing strengthens family ties more than fleeing from Redcoats.
Fox subsequently taking a powder is slightly surprising; his return is not, but does lead to another surprise. The two lessons are that a leopard cannot change his spots and that you sometimes must be cruel to be kind in the right measure.
The recent Warner Archive Blu-ray of 1941 Hitchcock film "Suspicion" reinforces that The Home Video King of Classic Movies and The Master of Suspense is a match made in cinephile heaven. This tale of the rushed courtship of sheltered heiress Lina McLaidlaw (Joan Fontaine) and shillingless playboy Johnnie Aysgarth (Cary Grant) joins the growing listing of Blu-ray Hitchcock titles in the Archive catalog. The loving restorations alone justify adding these releases to your collection.
A personal cool aspect of this release is noting the same points that Robert Osborne and other film historians state in the documentary "Before the Fact" Suspicious Hitchcock" that is a Blu-ray extra. This feature also tells about the member of the Hitchcock family who plays a supporting role in "Suspicion."
"Suspicion" comes on the heels of the reviewed Archive release of the aptly titled Jane Wyman film "Stage Fright" in which Hitch has director's remorse regarding a Moby-Dick sized red herring. Other notable Hitchcock films that Archive has adopted include the (reviewed) "ripped-from-the-headlines" Henry Fonda film "The Wrong Man," and the (also-reviewed) "I Confess" that has Montgomery Clift playing a priest who is facing the prospect of letting a murderer escape the earthly consequences of his act. Whether God will get either man for that remains unknown.
Our leads are strangers on a train when they meet; steerage passenger Johnnie sneaks into the first-class carriage in which Lina is riding. Learning that he lacks the funds for the upgrade is the first of several red flags in their relationship.
The paths of Johnnie and Lina cross again during a hunt; the latter soon getting a wake-up call regarding her spinsterhood causes her to latch onto the first gigolo that crosses her path.
The honeymoon period ends on the couple moving into their showplace on returning from their post-wedding trip, Lina learns that Johnnie plans to live large on her nickel. One challenge is that the family fisc is smaller than assumed.
Johnnie continues to show his true colors in ways that include digging his debt hole deeper, continuing to gamble, and getting caught with his hand in the company til. Lina discovering all this on her own does not help matters.
Mounting evidence that includes a friendship between Johnnie and murder-mystery writer Isobel Sedbusk is pure Hitchccok in that it increases the titular response in Lina regarding her belief that Johnnie intends to get a divorce by poison. This element of the film puts an amusing spin on the adage about not buying the cow when you can get the milk for free.
Another fun aspect of "Suspicion" involves having Nigel Bruce of the "Sherlock Holmes" films of the era play long-time Johnnie friend Gordon "Binky" Cochran Thwaite. Bruce does his usual good job playing the good-natured sidekick; he also holds himself very well regarding Grant.
All of the action climaxes with Lina reasonably believing that she is facing imminent mortal danger; This scene with Johnnie shows why he and Fontaine get the big bucks. In true Hitchcock style, the plausible conclusion will surprise you.
The combination of quality source material, a skilled director behind the camera, and a talented ensemble easily earn allay any suspicions that this movie is an outdated production that is not worthy your time in 2019.
The numerous delights associated with the 2018 BBC Films biopic "Stan & Ollie" that is enjoying a current limited run in North America makes it tough to select an apt starting point. The strongest endorsement for this film is that this tough audience who likely never laughs at a movie and only occasionally smiles laughed out loud at least three times during this one.
An early detour is calling attention to a post on the very funny Mill Creek Entertainment DVD set "The Laurel and Hardy Collection."
One "Point A" is that this tale of the desperate times of the titular comedy team leading to the desperate measure of a 1950s stage-tour of the U.K. evokes strong memories of the "Trip" films of Laurel portayor Steve Coogan with fellow funny guy/actor Rob Brydon. That comic documentary series has Coogan and Brydon entertaining each other and the audience as they take restaurantcentric extended road trips through places such as Italy and Spain. Their dueling Connerys in what is recalled to be during the "Italy" film is hilarious.
Coogan trades in Brydon for Hardy portrayor John C. Reilly this time around. The strong performance of Reilly and his mastery of the comedy style of Hardy makes up for his recent film pairings with Will Ferrell.
The starting point for "Stan" is a dressing-room conversation during the filming of the 1937 Laurel and Hardy film comic western "Way Out West," This figurative form of pillow talk immediately verifies that a comedy team is like a married couple. Stan is expressing concern regarding both the romantic life and the heavy gambling of Ollie. This exchange includes the very Cooganesque line in which Stan advocates not bothering to marry and simply giving someone whom he hates a house.
A more serious topic sets the stage (no pun intended) for the rest of the film. Stan expresses a centuries' old criticism of capitalism in complaining that producer Hal Roach is horribly exploiting the team by making a fortune off of their films and not paying them very much. This leads to learning about the personal politics of Roach.
A confrontation with Roach prompts the first of many "TV Land" thoughts. Stan walks out on Roach and expects that Ollie will follow suit. However, Ollie stays behind and works with an ersatz Stan.
This development evokes thoughts of an episode of "The Dick Van Dyke Show." Head writer Rob Petrie (Van Dyke) walks out over a conflict regarding his work. Although Rob expects that his team/close friends Buddy and Sally will join him, they stay behind. Comic anger ensues.
A related note regarding Van Dyke is that he befriends Laurel in the early '60s and studies under him.
The action in "Stan" then shifts to the aforementioned tour around which most of the film revolves. The objectives of this venture include giving Ollie much needed money and helping the team revive its popularity in order to make a planned "Robin Hood" parody film a reality for these men in tight spots.
This portion of the film strongly relates to the "Happy Days" empire of super-producer Garry Marshall. On the broader level, the genius of Marshall includes his reasoning that a show that is made in the '70s but set in the '50s never looks dated. This is one way that "Stan," like its subject, is eternal.
A narrower perspective relates to the failed "Days" spin-off "Joanie Loves Chachi." Referring to the well-publicized romance and subsequent break-up of stars Erin Moran and Scott Baio, Marshall notes that making the show is tough when Joanie no longer loves Chachi. The same principle clearly applies regarding the comeback tour of Laurel and Hardy.
The first laugh-out-loud moment comes when our boys do a bit with the bell on the front desk of a hotel. This reinforces the principle that something unexpected is funny and the recent comment by comedy legend Carol Burnett (who currently is touring) that funny always be funny. The more narrow focus this time is the HILARIOUS YouTube video of the two cats sitting side-by-side and using their paws to ring a bell so that they will get a treat,
The pure genius of both the source material and Coogan really comes out in a scene in which the unexpected truly is not anticipated. We see our Balki and Cousin Larry dragging a heavy trunk up a long stairway at a rail station. We instantly know that the trunk is going to fall back down the stairs; Ollie asking Stan for the time at the top of the stairs tells us how the trunk will fall.
Stan sadly looking down at the trunk on the platform below and essentially saying fuck it in a much kinder and gentler manner is where the genius enters the picture.
We additionally see the boys onstage doing a bit in which Stan accidentally puts on the hat of Ollie; a moment in which Ollie shows great exasperation but switches the hats himself makes you feel as if you are watching the '60s versions of Laurel and Hardy Gilligan and the Skipper doing their thing.
A moment in which a dejected Stan is reminded that Abbott and Costello have absconded with his career is not worth more mention than that. A scene in which Stan comments to Ollie outside a hotel that "the girls" are due to arrive is noteworthy for evoking thoughts of Art Carney and Jackie Gleason in "The Honeymooners." A bit of wife swapping occurs in the form of lanky funnyman Stan having a tough and flinty Russian wife and rotund straight man Ollie having the more ditzy and mousy spouse.
All of this climaxes as Stan picks the wrong time and place to vent long-restrained resentment. This threatens the previously successful detente between the men. One could fully expect that to be the end of Laurel and Hardy.
The nature of the subject requires that the show goes on. The enhanced manner in which the guys take more than one for the team further enhances the sense that a comedy team is analogous to a married couple. You may not always like your strange bedfellow, but you always love him or her.
The awesomeness of the beautifully remastered Warner Archive January 15, 2019 Blu-ray of the 1963 Paul Newman drama "The Prize" begins with this release adding another Newman film to the Archive catalog. This inventory includes the (reviewed) "Harper" and the (also reviewed) "Drowning Pool" series in which the salad-dressing king plays gumshoe Lew Harper.
This film based on an Irving Wallace novel also is a perfect example of a Hitchcockian Cold War era movie. This comparison begins with Newman playing rugged everyman/Nobel Prize winning novelist Andrew Craig getting in over his head (pun intended) due to a series of unfortunate circumstances.
60s sex-kitten Elke Sommer fills the role of a Hitchcockian blonde who becomes the partner-in-crime-solving of the leading man. The credits of screenwriter Ernest Lehman including the 1958 Hitchcock film "North by Northwest" further contributes to the Hitch cred. of "Prize." You will want to keep your eyes on this one.
The Cold War element comes courtesy of fellow Nobel winner German physicist Dr. Max Stratman (Edward G. Robinson) not seeming to be himself during the festivities related to the Nobel ceremony. The plot thickeners include current American Max having worked in his native country (for a stated good reason) during WWII. His clandestine meeting with a former colleague and other indications of nefarious doings contribute to the sense that something is rotten in the state of Sweden.
The "Grand Hotel" vibe begins with "Prize" centering around the stays of Andrew, Max, their fellow Nobel winners, and the companions of those folks who are the top members of their professions, The Grand Hotel hosting this group seals the deal even more than an amusing Greta Garbo joke with which Newman runs.
The following YouTube clip of the '60stastic trailer for "Prize" highlights all the above elements in a manner that screams for watching the film.
Sommer plays local handler Inger Lisa Andersson, who finds "problem child" Andrew far more than a handful. This hard-drinking womanizing cynic makes it clear that the cash award is the only prize that interests him.
Andrew divides his romantic pursuits between Inger and Max niece Emily (Diane Baker). Emily almost literally is the girl-next-door but may be far less pure than she seems.
The rest of the gang includes married French scientists Denise and Claude Marceau, who amusingly lack any chemistry between them. Claude keeping his beautiful "secretary" in an adjoining room prompts Denise to dictate to Andrew.
The game fully gets afoot when a puzzling remark by Max triggers the spidey sense of Andrew; this soon leads to our hero obtaining solid proof of an evil plot. Of course, no one believes him.
The lukewarm pursuit sends Andrew to a private sanitarium and then hilariously seeking cover at a meeting of a nudist group; this being a '60s Hollywood film precludes getting a glimpse of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kids.
This leads to Inger Lisa fully becoming a pawn in the intrigue; the ensuing rescue attempt involves a good mix of cunning and brute strength, This leads to a wonderful scene in which it is clear that Andrew does not have a gun in his pocket but is glad to see Inger Lisa.
Of course, the Nobel ceremony provides the setting for the climax of "Prize." Andrew predictably saves the day, but the truly surprising twists at the end deserve a revered place in Hollywood history. This verifies that "Prize" is much more original "Manchurian Candidate" then "White House Down."
The recent Cinema Libre Studio Blu-ray release of the 2016 biopic docudrama "Nelly" contributes to the pile of proof that truth often is more entertaining than fiction, One also wonders why this tale of titular call girl Nelly Arcan is not as large of an international phenomenon as her inaugural novel Whore. One further speculates about the preparation of star Mylene Mackay, who does a superb job,
The following CLS trailer for "Nelly" nicely illustrates the "Hannah Montana" aspect of the life of Nelly; we further see that she would be happy to be Jackie. A personal bonus is the final line in this trailer providing an awesome elevator speech.
In typical docudrama/biopic fashion, we meet Nelly as an awkward teen performing at a school talent show before watching her show off skills that she develops later in life. A "losin' it" scene is one of the best in the film and drives much of the action.
We also see Nelly sitting at (as opposed to laying on) a desk as she works on the aforementioned book. Her inner monologue shows that the theme of a blurred line between truth and fiction extends to her work.
Nelly experiences a dream-come-true for every aspiring writer when a publisher enthusiastically responds to Whore. That book subsequently becoming one of the hottest pieces of prose out there brings things to the next level.
The emotional issues with which Nelly is dealing explains why she does not quit her day job. Her increasingly playful therapy sessions are highlights in the film.
Witnessing the occupational hazards that Nelly experiences reminds us that working girls do not have it easy. Even finding a man, who may no longer be paying for the milk, wanting to put a ring on it has complications., This is not to mention the guy who likes to play rough.
The trauma related to the oldest profession takes its toll on the writing career of Nelly; the public not being as eager to buy what she is selling is an apt metaphor for her other career,
The conclusion is not surprising, but the manner in which it occurs is unexpected. This further puts a human face on practitioners of a trade on which society frowns, Very few of us even think that these pros can form a coherent sentence.
The bigger picture is that "Nelly" reminds us that we really do not know the "stuff" with which one must deal with in his or her life and what is going on in their head. The grass (or ass) may seem greener on the other side but usually is not.
Random Media reinforces its love for the offbeat regarding the January 15, 2019 VOD & DVD releases of the 2018 musical dramedy "Tommy Battles the Silver Sea Dragon." This tale of a 20-something (director/writer Luke Shirock) Walter Mitty with more issues than The New Yorker pulls off the tough trick of making a highly experimental film a delight. An even more notable aspect of "Tommy" is that it proves the merits of filmmaking that honors the tradition of valuing art over commerce.
Personal appreciation of "Tommy" relates to its similarities to all-time fave "Colma The Musical." That one has recent high-school grads in the titular working-class suburb of San Francisco sing and dance as they deal with poseurs and other harsh realities.
The following YouTube clip of a "Tommy" trailer highlights the surreal vibe that runs throughout the film; this promo. also demonstrates how this movie can be considered "Law and Order Rock." This is not to mention the glimpse of a hilarious scene in which Tommy turns a thrift store into his playground.
The symbolism in this mostly sung flick begins with the opening images of a full-frontal Tommy walking out of the ocean; his clothes magically fly to him and perform a reverse Full Monty.
The action takes off a few minutes later when a sleeping Tommy is awoken and quickly dragged Gestapo-style out of his home. He then is thrown into the stereotypical black sedan where he is driven to a court building for a perp. walk followed by the commencement of a trial for the murder of his ex-girlfriend Carolyn. The singing prosecutor, the warbling defense attorney, and the jury being a literal chorus provide the smoking gun that we are in for a wild ride.
Conflicting evidence regarding Tommy having accidentally shot his brother several years early provides solid proof both that we cannot believe everything that we see and that the subconscious mind of our main man drives much of the action, Subsequently learning about the real life of this reel character explains the confusion.
The presentation of evidence rehashes the course of the Tommy/Carolyn relationship from their cute meeting at the prom, through their impromptu "Young Hearts" fleeing from their childhood home, to their honeymoon period, and then to the stage between love and goodbye. This leads to the final exit that is the center of the judicial proceedings.
The nature of this nightmare dreamscape makes the heavy psychological elements very apt. It also reminds of the extent to which our childhoods shape us.
The narrative technique of making this a musical is equally appropriate. As folks who are familiar with the genre know, this form of expression typically expresses strong emotions such as the ones that Carolyn heading out into the city triggers in the man who is not deaf, dumb, or blind regarding this development.
As stated above, Shirock hits all the right notes in presenting this story in this manner. It is unlikely that you will find another quite like it and definitely not one that succeeds any better.
The good news is that anyone reading this post on the recent Warner Archive DVD release of the Gary Cooper/Patricia Neal 1949 drama "The Fountainhead" is at least a potential juror regarding the unusual level of preaching regarding the philosophies of your not-so-humble reviewer and of controversial author/screenwriter Ayn Rand. A related note is that the following takes a much more bloggy approach to the topic than is typical for this site. However, better understanding the relevant concepts requires the personal touch.
The bad news is that Archive shows a limited lack of integrity in not releasing this well remastered black-and-white film in Blu-ray. Director King Vidor ("Stella Dallas") tremendously channels Orson Welles in the use of contrasts, shadows, grand sets, and other Kafkaesque elements. This screams for a format that fully showcases this artistry.
Rand being the GOP elephant in the room requires dealing with her first; many people dislike her harsh personality and hard line regarding standing strong and independent; the rest of the story is that she merely calls for a valiant effort to support yourself before relying on the kindness of strangers. Regarding her stern personality, she simply can be considered a right-wing Hillary Clinton or Notorious RBG.
A related note that segues into "Fountainhead" is that central character architect Howard Roark (Cooper) takes self-reliance to an degree that exceeds the requirements of Rand. This man of integrity is down to his last $14.67 when a successful "sell-out" colleague offers a loan that is absolutely no sacrifice to that creditor. Roark declines that offer and subsequently takes a hot and grueling job in a granite quarry.
Roark (and Rand) strongly speak to me because this talented architect finds himself below the poverty level only because he refuses to compromise his integrity. I would not continue writing about "Fountainhead" and other limited-interest releases if the cost of that work included banging away in a quarry (or working at Wal-Mart), but I pay a price both for what I review and how I operate my site.
Just as Roark openly admits his desire for earning a good living, I would love to have more top releases interspersed among the art-house fare about which I write. I also would like to have my very respectable (and valued) readership grow to the point that equally respectable (sorry, Bezos) companies would advertise on my site. However, I feel very strongly about not directly or indirectly buying readers. I think that my posts are informative and entertaining and remain hopeful that more people will discover them and come on board simply because they value my content.
The many woes regarding the corporate site that recruited me in 2006 to write about my field of graduate study and then allowed me to start a section that "examines" TV on DVD developments includes the blatant way that that site inflates numbers. Writers are constantly told to have social media followers simply click on a post and to tell those followers that they do not need to read the content.
A little closer to home, I have a nice online friendship with an intelligent and well-educated guy who is a true blogger. Like me, he writes well and has an interesting perspective. Unlike me, he essentially prostitutes himself in recognition that sex sells.
The social media activity of my peer heavily focuses on his sexual adventures. He also regularly either posts about plans to upload revealing photos of himself or actually shares those images with the world. A recent example is a selfie in which this man is nude and standing in front of a bathroom mirror; the sink blocks everything right below his trimmed short and curlies. Just the other day finds him groping himself inside his designer unmentionables.
For the record, such a revealing photo of your not-so-humble reviewer would drive away the relatively small population of current supporters. Similarly, it is irrelevant 9.9 times out of ten what I am doing or wearing while watching a review DVD; the same is true regarding with whom I am watching the program or film. Such information is shared only in cases such as "Fountainhead" in which it is highly relevant to the topic.
Finally getting down to the film itself, the philosophy of a friend puts the story in perfect context. This belief is that arrogance is not arrogant if adequate talent supports this 'tude.
The opening scene has Roark being ousted from architecture school for refusing to conform to the norm; we then see him receiving similar treatment in the office of eccentric innovative architect Henry Cameron. Cameron does relent and provide Roark (hopefully) gainful employment.
We then catch up with a struggling Roark several years later with the aforementioned pittance in his pocket and colleague Peter Keating offering the loan. This coincides with Roark being offered a job that provides fame and fortune. His refusal to agree to demanded design changes leads to his pulling a Flintstone.
Meanwhile, socialite/newspaper columnist/Keating fiancee Dominque Franchon (Neal) is fending off the civilized advances of boss/tabloid New York Banner publisher Gail Wynand (Raymond Massey). The stresses in her life drive her to the country estate of her father.
It is lust at first site when Franchon finds a sweaty and muscular Roarke in the quarry near the estate; her intentions and clumsy ruse to get him in her bedroom being transparent do not prevent the pair delivering a very steamy love scene by 1949 standards.
Franchon and Roark ultimately return to the real world. Their lives become fully entangled when a series of circumstances lead to Franchon marrying Wynand, who is oblivious to the history of his wife and his architect when he hires the latter to design a house that is a tribute to the tribute.
Another source of drama relates to prissy Banner architecture columnist Ellsworth M. Toohey having a figurative (if not literal) hard-on for Roark. The nature of this animosity is the film-long theme of the refusals of Roark to conform to the norm and to compromise his integrity for the common good. His designing a luxury apartment building at a time that many people struggle to find decent affordable housing is one pretext for this smear campaign, In other words, Toohey is asserting that the needs of the many do outweigh the needs of the individual.
The extended climax awesomely includes Toohey admitting his covert evil scheme. These concepts that you should not believe everything that you read and that even propaganda that supports your side still is propaganda is highly relevant in 2018.
Meanwhile, Roark agrees to be the ghost architect for Keating on an affordable housing project. Anyone capable of deducing who is the villain in a "Scooby-Doo" episode can predict Keating caving regarding a demand to change the design. This leads to a highly symbolic well-known scene in which Roark demonstrates the extent to which he will protect his integrity.
This turmoil leads to an apt Mexican standoff that is comparable to the current government shutdown; Wynand essentially must decide whether is on Team Roark or Team Keating. An element of this is facing the consequences of creating a monster in a couple of senses of that word.
In what seemingly is obligatory for most movies of the '30s and '40s, the climax includes a highly charged courtroom scene. Of course, Roark makes an impassioned speech, The possibility that the integrity of Rand wins out over the demanded norm of a Hollywood ending leaves the conclusion in doubt until the judge declares the judgment.
The Warner Archive November 20, 2018 DVD release of the 1965 Natalie Wood drama "Inside Daisy Clover" evokes memories of the gritty "tell it like it is" films, such as "Easy Rider" (1969) and "Five Easy Pieces" (1970). of the era. The larger picture is that "Daisy" arguably is a brutal semi-fictionalized portrait of Judy Garland and of Wood herself to a lesser extent. Wood being 26 when she makes this film about America's 15 year-old "little Valentine" is the smoking gun regarding this theory.
Although Ruth Gordon only receives an Oscar nomination for her perfect portrayal of the senile mother of Clover, that role nets her a Golden Globe. Cast member Robert Redford gets a Golden Globe for "Most Promising Newcomer - Male" for his role as macho man movie star Wade Lewis, who is fond of beards. It is interesting that Redford is two years older than Wood but plays a character who is roughly a decade older than Clover.
The following YouTube clip of a '60stastic trailer for "Daisy" uses an entertaining apt newsreel tone to convey the "True Hollywood Story" aspect of the film.
"Daisy" opens in August 1936 with Angel Beach, California tough street kid Clover telling the audience that it is her 15th birthday; the graffiti that she adds to the wall against which she is slouching reflects her disdain for her older sister Gloria; a latter scene establishes that marrying up is the chosen route of Gloria to escape the trailer-trash existence of Clover and their mother.
Other glimpses of the "before she was a star" life of Daisy include her hilarious fending off the advances of her horny teen boy friend. We also see Gordon just now reporting the disappearance of her long-absent husband. The rationale for this delay is one of the best lines in this well-written film by Alan J. Pakula ("To Kill A Mockingbird") and Robert Mulligan ("Mockingbird" and "Summer of '42".)
Stardom literally arrives on the doorstep of the double-wide that Daisy and her mother share when Hollywood producer Raymond Swan (Christopher Plummer) sends a limousine to deliver Daisy to a screen test in response to a record of herself that she submits as an entry in a talent contest.
The realities of fame soon set in for Daisy. Gloria swoops in to get a piece of the action; Ma gets shipped off to Shady Pines, and Swan invents a new life story for his latest discovery. This is not to mention coercing Daisy into adapting her private life to conform with her public image. A notable scene in which the studio goes well beyond having Daisy wearing a Kansas farm girl outfit and toting (pun intended) a terrier is one of the most memorable in this exceptional film,
Redford showing up at just the right place and time leads to sweeping away Daisy; sadly, in true Hollywood style, the honeymoon period is cut short. Additional trauma and drama pushes our starlet closer to the edge.
All of this climaxes with the dam breaking; the final scenes truly show the price of fame.
The appeal of all this is that both Daisy and the audience learn a moral. Resenting a celebrity for earning far more in a few months than most of us earn in a lifetime is reasonable. We must remember that, especially in this Internet Age and #MeToo era, that that compensation includes payment for sacrificing any privacy and for never dropping a facade, Tom Cruise deserves tremendous credit for never responding to a cry of "show me the money" by showing that moron the finger.
Archive lightens the mood by including the 1964 Road Runner cartoon "War and Pieces" as a DVD extra. The epic name for this outing is apt based on it being the last Chuck Jones cartoon for Warner Bros until the '80s. The cleverness of the variations on the theme of traps backfiring on Wile E. Coyote are too amusing to spoil. Suffice it to say that Jones goes way beyond our villain holding a stick of dynamite when it explodes.
A year-end rush is behind a criminal delay in requesting a copy of the Mill Creek Entertainment award-worthy December 18, 2018 complete-series Blu-ray release of "The Shield." Not getting a set in time to declare this set the top release of 2018 elevates the delay-related offense from a misdemeanor to a felony.
Stating that MCE greatly outshines itself and hits almost every Unreal TV criteria for an exceptional home-video release is not hyperbole. The lack of a play-all feature is the non-fatal flaw that prevents declaring that this CS set is perfect. The serial nature of the series makes this sin a little worse than it would be in other cases; requiring a little extra navigation in the main menu adds insult to injury.
The near-perfection begins with the design-award worthy packaging. The sturdy outer-cardboard box is the first indication of love of product and attention to detail. This opens and folds out to an image of tough-as-nail rogue L.A. police detective Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis) and his strike team around which "Shield" centers. This motley crew is accompanied by their colleagues who play by the rules to varying degrees.
The solidly bound book (complete with embossed shield) is encased in a holster that feature the very apt tag line "The road to justice is twisted." This reflects the Mackey philosophy that just about any means justify a proper end that includes savings his own flank. His not blinking as he brutally exterminates a rat with extreme prejudice in the pilot hits that point home.
The first page in the book is a love letter to fans by creator/producer/ "Angel" veteran Shawn Ryan, who bears a passing resemblance to Mackey. This correspondence nicely confirms that Ryan and viewers share the same high regard for the series; the answer to the question of whether "Shield" survives the test of time is a resounding yes despite the mentioned outdated tech. and references.
On a general level, having a rough average of 13 episodes in each of the seven seasons reflects the "less is more" philosophy of British series. The idea is that a handful of high-quality episodes is better than presenting 20-or-more mediocre outings,
Each subsequent well-secured page in the book includes a detailed episode synopsis and puts the corresponding BD disc in a slot that allows removing and replacing it without risk of scratching. We also get a description of the Bonus Features on the disc.
The two discs of Bonus Features are the icing on the cake. a 2018 reunion that includes Ryan, Chiklis, and other cast members that include CCH Pounder provides something to which to look forward when time permits. Theses copious extras also include an ATX Television Festival Writer's Room Panel in which Ryan also participates.
Another voluntary confession regarding this 2002-08 FX series is that an ongoing struggle to clear enough space on my two Tivos and to otherwise keep up with the many strong programs of that era are behind not watching "Shield" during its initial run; the current chance to remedy that sin of omission is another valued attribute of the MCE release.
The strongest accolade for "Shield" is IMDb users ranking it as #86 on the list of top-rated shows of all time. The series has an additional 15 wins and 58 more nominations that must include "they waz robbed" losses. One can only fantasize about putting the people responsible for those slights alone in a room with Mackey.
"Shield," which is a perfect companion to (reviewed) overlapping FX hit "Rescue Me," tells the tales of the men and women who wok out of "The Barn" in the inner-city Farmington (a.k.a. Farm) District of Los Angeles. As indicated above, Mackey and his team are more concerned with taking gaping and bleeding bites out of crime than following either police procedures or Constitutional requirements.
This theme requires a brief aside, The philosophy of Mackey reflects the dilemma that plagues law enforcement personnel. Prohibiting things such as beating a subject and many warrantless searches are in response to those tactics despite their solid results. Tying the hands of the police validly protects important rights of suspects at the expense of allowing many criminals to go free.
Another way of looking at this is that most people would say what is required to make a beating stop; we also would not want the police to knock down our front door, subject us to an extensive body search, or rip apart our car without an assurance that they have valid cause for doing so,
The cowboy tactics of Team Mackey at best earn them tacit approval; it also gets them the animosity of two colleagues who object to this coloring outside the lines.
Police Captain David Acevada is a competent Col. Klink in that he gets the corner office without spending any time in the trenches and in that his efforts to hold Mackey accountable for his misconduct (at least in S1) prove fruitless. Mackey is more like the Road Runner than Col. Hogan in that it seems that Acevada is destined to succeed until his plan explodes in his face at the last minute.
Partner-in-crime-solving Detective Holland "Dutch" Wagenbach is another thorn in the side of Team Mackey. This nerd who seems to have a night stick shoved up his butt is in constant conflict with the jocks whom he hates for their Dartmouth frat boy approach to their jobs. Good hilarity related to Wagenbach comes in the form of comeuppance that he receives. Revealing the perpetrator of that prank is icing on the cake.
Wagenbach often getting his man and showing that he has game in bringing down a particularly elusive bad hombre shows that this honor student has chops and can school the cool kids.
The central crime in the pilot perfectly illustrates both the tone of "Shield" and the arguable merits of Mackey. Initially discovering that the young daughter of a murder victim is missing leads to learning that the girl ends up in the hands of one pedophile, who transfers her to an even more twisted child molester. These desperate times lead to the desperate measure of calling in Mackey with full knowledge of how he will interrogate a suspect. It is ironic that he does not phone it in.
The pilot further establishes the pattern of snitches getting stitches. A later "student" further learns of the collateral damage regarding such well-intentioned efforts.
What starts as essentially aside comments regarding plumbing problems developing into a hilarious disaster further demonstrates the genius of "Shield." The show is like a box of chocolates in that you never know what you will get.
One S1 episode that also proves the unpredictability of "Shield" has an almost literal smoking gun leading to breaking up the strike team. This disbanding the brothers leads to pairing them up with other "Barn" animals.
The most amusing reassignment gives loose cannon team member Shane Vendrell a dutch treat in the form of working with Wagenbach. As "The Breakfast Club" shows us, the hall monitor and the QB do not need to be at the throats of each other.
Mackey teams up with pragmatic detective Claudette Wyms (Pounder). His scene-stealing moment consists of proposing that they first do things her way and then his way. He notes that the order is based on the chivalrous principle of ladies first.
Chickens aptly come home to roost in a phenomenal S1-ending story arc. The numerous hilarious cock jokes greatly contribute to the fun.
The already extensive length of this post precludes delving into the interesting private lives of our men and women in plain clothes or even into the many more cases that provide them continuing on-the-job training, The overall message is that you should trust Ryan; he knows what he is doing.