Friday, February 27, 2015


Not one of the best westerns ever, or even of its ear, this 1971 Louis L'amour adaptation is best remembered today as the first big screen film appearance from the post-Spock Leonard Nimoy.

R.I.P. Leonard Nimoy

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Mantan Moreland Movies

I guess I first encountered the fast-talking African-American comic Mantan Moreland as Charlie Chan's chauffeur but he was already a vaudeville veteran and, in fact, appeared in more than a few movies as the star! These low budget "race movies" were generally aimed at black audiences only and often gave the performers a chance to avoid the stereotyped characters they were forced to play in major films. Often...but not always. Mantan was always recognizably Mantan, smiling, charismatic and hilarious as always.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

My First M-Rated Film--Eye of the Cat

Largely forgotten today, this 1969 movie was--as far as I remember--the first M-Rated feature I ever saw. My friend Terry and I saw it twice and each time the blood and violence squicked us out just as it was intended to do--the way a dark carnival ride would.

I didn't know anyone connected with it at the time. The writer was largely responsible for OUTER LIMITS and PSYCHO. The director would go on to do some enjoyable TV movies and some big screen flops. The composer went on to become my favorite screen composer. The star, Michael Sarrazin, was hot for about 10 years and was said to be the one true love of murdered actress Christa Helm. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Well It's Groundhog Day...Again.

One of my all-time favorite comedies is 1993's GROUNDHOG DAY. I actually had no intention of seeing it but one night when I went to pick up my wife from work she ended up having to work late. With a couple hours to kill, I remember deciding to see a movie at the theater across the street. 

And I loved every minute! It's one of those I can watch over and over again and not get tired of it...which I guess is the point. 

In fact, someone once suggested that they announce a GROUNDHOG DAY II...and then simply re-release this one! Works!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Dr. Kildare and Dr. Gillespie

One of the most popular film series of Hollywood's Golden Age was the Dr. Kildare series from MGM. The first film based on the character came from Paramount and starred Joel McCrea as the young doctor.

Lew Ayres took over the role in a series of 9 B movies. B movies from MGM looked costlier than A movies from anybody else! 

The movies had fairly tight continuity with the same actors returning over an dover and multiple plot lines per movie. The running plot was the new doctor's relationship with his mentor, the crusty, wheelchair bound Dr. Gillespie, played by the great Lionel Barrymore.

When Ayres left the series, Louis B Mayer's studio felt the soap/detective series was too profitable to lose so no less than SIX more pictures were made, highlighting the Gillespie character with a series of new assistants including hot star Van Johnson for several installments.

Ayres returned to the role, again opposite Barrymore, for a radio version in the 1950s.

Lionel Barrymore had long passed by the time TV took a look at Kildare but Ayres shot a pilot. Ultimately it was newcomer Richard Chamberlain who made the role his own on TV, with veteran Raymond Massey bring his gravitas to the role of Dr. Gillespie.