Movie Fan Man: Cinema Connoisseur

Traditional, Artsy, Genre-Within-Genre: A Little Something for Everyone

Game Opinion From a Non-Gamer

by Tony Nash

(All opinions are from the author alone)

Red Dead Online on Steam
Original Art Work (from Steam)

Hello to my followers, those I’m following, and all curious visitors,

With the craziness of the pandemic and a few other things I haven’t been able to devote much time to the blog, but I do want to keep monthly content going, so here’s something I wanted to write about for a couple of weeks, and I figured I take the opportunity to share my thoughts here.

Red Dead Online game crashing & throwing FFFFF error after update
Promotional Title (from PlunikaWeb)

Being stuck in the early days of the Pandemic allowed me to revisit the nostalgia of video games that I played as a little boy, and for my birthday last year I got an Xbox. Initially I was going to stick to the WWE 2K series as they featured many of the classic characters and such of my childhood, but as a big Italian Westerns fan, I was curious about the game Red Dead Redemption 2. I found the game highly enjoyable and the characters very much in line with the SW genre I love so much I decided to give the online feature Red Dead Online a try.

Red Dead Online Blood Money: Title Update 1.27 Patch Notes (RDR2)
RDO Blood Money (from GTA Base)

Now first and foremost, I AM NOT a gamer, I have no aspirations to become #1 in a particular group of people, no aspirations to earn as a much as I can in the game, etc, I’m just a film buff who enjoys the occasional switch up with a little game play. RDO‘s recent update, Blood Money, has caused a recent uproar/stir within the gaming community and the consensus is that Rockstar Games no longer cares about keeping the Western themed game up to date and good to keep fans coming back for more. Now of course I can sympathize and understand how long term and dedicated gamers find this a let down as they enjoy the constant flow of new content, as any fan of the varied entertainment genres would, but I myself haven’t had a problem with this new feature. Like I said, I’m not looking reach a certain echaleon within the world of gaming, I’m not looking to do absolutely everything that the open has to offer, so I can go into the game, just enjoying being able to explore and do what I like. As a Blu Ray guy I’ll admit I’m a ‘bells and whistles’ type of a guy with extras and audio options, and again I can understand where the gamers are coming from with Rockstar’s idea of new content, but for some reason this isn’t as issue for me.

Red Dead Online's Blood Money update is good, but not enough - Polygon
An example of an RDO character (from Polygon)

I tend to look at both Red Dead Redemption 2 and Red Dead Online via the eyes of a filmmaker, and am always experimenting with new ways to approach missions and how to complete them, so each play time is always unique and different. I think because gaming isn’t a passion like films are, I look at the updates and content more objectively and enjoy them for what they are. This isn’t to say the gaming community is wrong about how Rockstar has been handling the Red Dead universe/franchise, Rockstar may very much indeed need to come up with something more interesting, this is just me giving my opinion on the game itself. I think because I’m a casual gamer I can overlook flaws and just have fun with what’s available.

Red Dead Online: Rockstar Reveals Price, Date & More Details About  Standalone Release - The Direct
RDO & RDR2 Co-Promotion (from the Direct)

This blog will always be about films and Blu Rays/DVDs, but I felt this particular game needed a little spotlight. I’m not defending Rockstar’s choices in any way, shape, or form, but I felt the perspective of someone who’s more of a casual gamer was needed. I personally like both RDR2 and RDO, and have enjoyed my experiences on both. While I do like some games, I’m not a full on gamer, mainly because of my Asperger’s Syndrome in that I can get easily frustrated if things don’t go the way I expect in a game, hence why I’ve never gone into the stuff that requires major rankings and needing so many hours of game time to get to certain places. For me the experience can get ruined if I put far too much emphasis on trying to reach something that I don’t necessarily need to get to in order to feel like I’ve accomplished anything playing. I’m perfectly fine with going at my own pace and doing what I enjoy most with what’s available to the player and just having a good and relaxing time.

All images courtesy of Images and their respective owners

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Filed under: Film & TV: Potpourri

Mary Ann or Ginger?: I’ve Got the Answer

by Tony Nash

(All opinions are of the author alone)

Dedicated to the memory of Dawn Wells (1938-2020), our beloved Mary Ann. Gone, but never forgotten.

All the rest – Fame Hungry
Dawn Wells as Mary Ann Sommers
Tina Louise as Ginger Grant - Gilligan's Island Image (21429747) - Fanpop
Tina Louise as Ginger Grant

A long standing, and long popular question, amongst the classic TV series Gilligan’s Island is who was the more preferable: Ginger or Mary Ann? Now everybody has their own particular answer to this question, and for differing reasons as well, but I think I can lay down an essential that answers the question in a majority fashion that allows for concise reasons.

TV Q&A: Did Gilligan and the gang escape from 'Gilligan's Island'? |  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Mary Ann Listening to Her Favorite Radio Soap Opera (from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Ginger Modeling a Swimsuit (from Pinterest)Gilligan's Island | Ginger gilligans island, Tina louise, Ginger grant

First let’s go with some information on the characters themselves.

Mary Ann is a working middle class girl from the state of Kansas. Depending on which story arch creator Sherwood Schwartz wanted fans to follow, she either works at the local general store or is her father’s main assistant on the family farm. She has a homespun feel and manner to her, very sweet and gentle, and always tries to be fair. Ginger is an actress and aspiring movie star. She has made a few pictures, mainly “B” features that attracted the grade school and teenage crowd, but still popular. While she never made it to high level films, she does know several big time actors like Cary Grant, Rock Hudson, and Gregory Peck, hinting that while she wasn’t high echelon as far as roles go, she was a frequent guest as social events all the actors and actresses attended, and also hinting she got to know the various big names in a more personal, off camera way. Despite being exotic and legend like, she’s highly approachable, has no vanity or ego, though still likes using her charms and beauty if the situation calls for it.

5 Things You Didn't Know About 'Gilligan's Island' | Tv show halloween  costumes, Vintage halloween costume, Giligans island
Mary Ann Trying to Lift Gilligan’s Morale (from Pinterest)
Gilligan's Island" Seer Gilligan (TV Episode 1966) - IMDb
Ginger Trying Some Night Time Seduction on Gilligan (from IMDb)

Now let’s look at an interesting the behind the scenes aspect of the characters.

While Bob Denver and Dawn Wells were tied for the most fan letters of all the cast, it was Dawn Wells who had the most varying letters, coming from kids, teenagers, and adults. This showed that she connected with a vast multitude and demographic of people, almost all walks of life finding one connection or another with the homespun beauty. Tina Louise, by contrast, received letters primarily from middle aged males and, to a smaller scale, high school age boys. This showed she was the object of affection from afar for young males coming into adulthood, and the wandering eye of some older gentlemen who were looking at recapturing their youth.

Dawn Wells Gilligan's Island #19 Original Autographed 8X10 Photo at  Amazon's Entertainment Collectibles Store
Mary Ann, When a Head Injury Had Her Briefly Thinking She Was Ginger (from Amazon)
Gilligan's Island' Star Tina Louise on the Show's 55th Anniversary
Ginger Reminiscing Past Kisses (from Closer Weekly)

And the undisputed winner is…….

MARY ANN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dawn Wells, Mary Ann on 'Gilligan's Island,' Dies at 82 - The New York Times
Publicity Still (from the New York Times)

The vast majority of people when asked the question have picked Mary Ann for the winner, and quite a good number share similar reasons. At the heart of the whole matter is that Ginger is the woman most guys (and some girls) will dream and fantasize about, and Mary Ann is the woman most guys (and some girls) know they would have a chance with. Mary Ann is the prototype of the girl next door, the girl who lived down the block, the girl seen at school, and the girl at the community functions. She was relatable to a far higher demographic of folks as she represented the young lady everybody has at some point known or seen in their lives. She is a fine example of the girl you wouldn’t be afraid to approach and talk to, and even ask out on a date or to the school dance. That she kind of was a presentation of what middle America was in the 60’s helped a lot in audiences being reminded of someone from their youth or a first sweetheart.

This doesn’t mean of course that no one ever would have a shot with Ginger, she was very down to earth and approachable, but because she’s a high profile actress and someone everyone has seen a photo of, she’s far more out of reach. Not so much the forbidden fruit, but Ginger would probably have throngs of eligible singles following her around like moths to a flame making her not so much hard to approach, but swallowed up by the masses clinging to her. Ginger represented the ideal of what men wanted their wives to be like, but because the ideal is often a far too high reach, it becomes unattainable, and more of a happy thought to look back on every so often.

Gilligan's Island: A fateful trip behind-the-scenes | History 101
The Duo Together (from History 101)

(I had intended to include a little thing from a College paper I wrote 10 years ago in Mass Media about Gilligan’s Island, but I think I deleted my original copy. I didn’t go into Ginger or Mary Ann part too much, more of how it continued to be a popular Pop Culture phenomenon. I know I haven’t truly settled the debate on who’s the fairest between the two, but it sure has been fun giving what I hope will be an interesting take on the subject. To quench anyone ‘s curiosity of who I prefer, I can wholeheartedly say it’s a split decision between Ginger and Mary Ann, but a slight leaning toward Mary Ann.)

All images courtesy of Images and Their Respective Owners

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Filed under: Film & TV: Potpourri, TV: Special Topics

HAPPY (Belated) 55TH, JIM AND ARTIE!!!!

by Tony Nash

(All Opinions are of the Author Alone)

Tickle Me: The Wild Wild West: The Night of the Watery Death (1966)
The Iconic Opening Title (from Tickle Me)

The Wild Wild West (1965-1969) ***** TV-PG

Robert Conrad: James T. “Jim” West

Ross Martin: Artemus “Artie” Gordon

Michael Dunn: Dr. Miguelito Quixote Loveless

Phoebe Dorin: Antoinette

Roy Engel: President Ulysses S. Grant

Douglas Henderson: Colonel Richmond

William Schallert: Frank Harper/Silas Grigsby/Rufus Krause

Nehemiah Persoff: Gen. Andreas Cassinello/Adam Barclay/Major Hazard

Victor Buono: Count Carlos Manzeppi/Juan Manolo

Ford Rainey: Hellfire Simon/Pa Garrison/Adm. Charles Hammond

Anthony Caruso: Chief Bright Star/Deuce/Jose Aguila

Robert Ellenstein: Dr. Horatio Occularis/ Dr. Theobald Raker/Luis Vasquez/Arthur Tickle

Christopher Carey: Tycho/Snakes Tolliver

Theodore Marcuse: Abdul Hassan/Gustave Mauvais/Dr. Jonathan Kirby (as Theo Marcuse)

Richard Kiel: Voltaire/Dimas Buckley

Charles Aidman: Jeremy Pike

Other Notable Guest Stars Including: Boris Karloff, Sammy Davis Jr, Peter Lawford, Jackie Coogan, Leslie Neilson, Robert Duvall, James Gregory, Jack Elam, Alan Hale Jr., Jim Backus, Floyd Patterson, Keenan Wynn, Martin Landau, Agnes Moorehead, Burgess Meredith, Barbara Luna, Nick Adams, Brad Dillman, Beverly Garland, Don Rickles, Ed Asner, and Simon Oakland

Created by: Michael Garrison

Produced by: Bruce Lansbury

Synopsis: In post Civil War America, government agents Jim West and Artie Gordon, under direct orders from President Grant, save the world from varying maniacal madmen, corrupt businessmen & politicians, and sometimes elements bordering the fantastical/supernatural.

Robert Conrad, Two-Fisted TV Star of 'Wild Wild West,' Dies at 84 - The New  York Times
Jim and Artie Investigating a Lead (from NY Times)

This September will mark the 55th Anniversary of my 2nd all time favorite TV show from childhood, The Wild Wild West. I can still recall many a Saturday and Sunday morning watching this show with my Dad on TNT (back when stations still aired classic TV), and thoroughly have a good time. Finally getting the TV show for varying Christmas and Birthday gifts allows me (and my Dad) to revisit the show anytime I want.

Artie Reads a Note to Jim About the Large Crate Sent to Them (from aboard the wanderer)

What made the show so cool for me was the unique adventures Jim and Artie would have, the varying gadgets they would employ to escape and outsmart the bad guys, and the seemingly endless array of disguises Artie would use to help Jim out of a jam and to infiltrate suspects to get info they needed. The fight scenes with Robert Conrad taking on the various henchmen of the villain or villains at hand were always my favorite parts to watch as Conrad did all of his own fight choreography and the majority other stunts (he would’ve done the full 100% had one particularly tricky stunt not gone haywire and put him in the hospital). Seeing Jim West take on legions of baddies and kicking ass every time was/and still is a big thrill for me, something not a lot of TV Westerns I was able to catch glimpses of here and there did. Even now I prefer a good solid storyline with well timed action over to character study Westerns any day, although now that I’m older I do find I enjoy some of those types of stories as well.

Cool Ass Cinema: From Beyond Television: The Wildest Episodes of The Wild,  Wild West Season 1
West and Dr. Loveless – Sworn Enemies (from Cool Ass Cinema)

I may need to backtrack my previous statement about character depth, as some of the best episodes were the frequent battle of barbs, wit, and wills between Jim West and Dr. Miguelito Loveless, who labeled West as his archenemy. Robert Conrad and Michael Dunn had a fantastic chemistry (as good as the chemistry Conrad had with Ross Martin) together that led to great dialogue and spicing up the storyline the duo were involved in. Whether Loveless was trying to threaten the US government with violence if he didn’t get what he wanted, or was simply looking to take over the World, West was always around to confound and drive Loveless batty. The ultimate irony was is that over time, both men developed a type of respect for one another, although West would never approve of Loveless’ methods and Loveless would always be baffled by West’s unwavering optimism in his government and country. Michael Dunn’s increasing poor health stemming from Dwarfism resulted in the actor’s less frequent appearances after Season 2, and while several attempts were made to give West a couple other recurring villains so Dunn wouldn’t have as high a workload, no one ever matched the same click chemistry Dunn and Conrad enjoyed.

Classic TV & Movie Hits - The Wild Wild West / The Wild, Wild West
A Promotional Still (from Classic TV Hits)

Another cool thing that separated the series from others like it was the take on violence. While there were gunfights, they were often instigated by the baddies, West and Gordon acting completely in self defense. The producers and writers focused more on well choreographed fight scenes where West and Gordon would knock the baddies out and send them to the nearest police or federal officers. When death usually happened on the show, usually the bad guys did the killing, and when West often did kill someone, it was because he had no other choice. Ironically, all the fighting is why people demanded the show be canceled, though in all honestly there wasn’t a whole lot of killing, in fact shows like Gunsmoke, Bonanza, The Rifleman, The High Chaparral, etc. had far more deaths each episode than the Wild Wild West per season. Granted, sometimes it was nice seeing the bad guy get the ultimate comeuppance, but I more often I find it a lot more refreshing to see them get the ever loving crap beat out them as their taken to jail.

Only a true fan of 'The Wild Wild West' can score 8/10 on this quiz
Some of the Noted Guest Stars (from MeTV)

The show also broke ground by having several high profile actors and actresses make guest appearances. Legends like Boris Karloff, Sammy Davis Jr., Ida Lupino, Peter Lawford, Agnes Moorehead, and Jackie Coogan all became known to future new audiences thanks to the series. Future successes like Robert Duvall and Richard Kiel had some of their earliest big time gigs with the series that would lead to more work and their eventual work with The Godfather and James Bond franchises respectively. For stuntmen, working on the Wild Wild West meant for good paychecks as Robert Conrad would sometimes get to fight up to 20 men for the stunt fights, some guys appearing in multiple fights per episodes.

(I missed out on doing this post last year thanks to the craziness of COVID, but better late than never. What great childhood memories this show has for me, and will continue to have. I highly recommend the show. seasons 2 and 3 in particular as they have some of the cleverest stuff. It’s just pure all around fun. I know Robert Conrad had some regrets with the show, claiming after it ended that no other producers took him seriously for more character driven roles, but I still thank him for the hours of entertainment and joy he gave me and probably loads of other boys over the years )

All images courtesy of Images and their respective owners

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Filed under: TV: Analysis/Overview, TV: Special Topics

Summer of Spaghetti: Arrow Video’s 1st Italo Western Box!!!!!!!!!!!!!

From Tony Nash

Arrow Video’s Cover (from DiabolikDVD)
Arrow Video’s Overview Image (from DiabolikDVD)

To coin the phrase of fellow WordPress blogger MMC! (Make Mine Criterion!) “Arrow Made Mine”, and that’s exactly what Arrow Video has done with a foursome of awesome Italian Westerns. Vengeance and Revenge in its various forms play a huge role in the Italian Westerns, and Arrow has appropriately titled there set Vengeance Trails, and all four films feature the protagonists going on journeys to avenge past injustices. Featured in the set are: Le Colt Cantarono la Morte e Fu…Tempo di Massacro (Massacre Time), Due Once di Piombo (Il Mio Nome Pecos/2 Ounces of Lead/My Name is Pecos), Bandidos, and E Dio Disse a Caino (And God Said to Cain), all very good, dark, and gritty Westerns that exemplify the genre well. Arrow will include its usually high quality book/booklet, a small poster, and a slew of extras including interviews with genre icons Franco Nero and George Hilton.

I do have Massacre Time on Blu Ray in a cool Mediabook/Digibook from Germany and My Name is Pecos in a DVD boxset, again from Germany, but as a collector and lover of the Italo West genre, this is a must buy as I don’t have Bandidos and And God Said to Cain in my collection yet. The only negatives I can find with the set is that Robert Woods’ interview about Pecos from the Wild East DVD and the German set and one of Hilton’s interviews from the Massacre Time German Blu Ray will likely not be included, but this isn’t a deal breaker as I don’t plan on selling the earlier purchases. The price is also a little on the high side, but given the current times, this is to be expected, and of course sales and price drops always happen.

Arrow Video has really outdone themselves with this release and I hope they do a lot more like it in the coming months and into 2022.

All images courtesy of Jesse Nelson’s DiabolikDVD

Filed under: Annoucements, Film & TV: Potpourri, Film: Special Topics

An Unscheduled In Memoriam

from Tony Nash,

Hello to my Followers, those I’m Following, and any Curious Visitors,

Today is a little bit of somber post for me, as I had really hoped I wouldn’t have to write it, at least for a while longer. Just now I learned that one of my favorite Classic Rap artists of my teen years, Earl “DMX” Simmons, has passed away at the age of 50 from a drug related heart attack that left him in a vegetative coma. While I did lose a lot of interest in Rap music as I matured into college, DMX and Snoop Dogg were two of the guys I still took time to listen to on YouTube, something about their songs and styles that just struck me as great listening. Like any teen, you kinda wanna try your hand as what people you like do, and for a while I had Rap aspirations to work with the artists I listened to, especially Snoop, X, and Eve (Philly born like myself). I never wanted to exactly emulate any of the Rap guys I listened to as I never found getting into trouble Romantic in any way, but I tried not to pass judgements on them either.

As we all know, most Rap artists have their problems and controversies, but I think DMX was a little different in that he did try not to repeatedly fall into the same holes his contemporaries did, but the demons of his childhood and teen years proved to be very powerful foes that just wouldn’t leave him alone. This certainly doesn’t justify many of his own wrongdoings, but that he never denied anything he did I think made others less harsh on him.

I’m certainly sad that DMX is no longer around and making music, but I do want to thank him for giving me something to like during a period where I was trying all sorts of things figuring out what I wanted to do for a career. Like a lot of people during this crazy COVID time, I’ve felt all out of sorts, and what happened with DMX did put things back into perspective and reality, and helped me a great deal to see that the Pandemic will eventually come to an end.

RIP DMX, you will be missed and always remembered

DMX dead at 50, family confirms | WWLP
Earl “DMX” Simmons (1970-2021)

(This is probably the most personal I’ve ever gotten with a post, but something was compelling me to write it the moment I knew DMX passed away. It’s always a little sad when something like someone’s passing or troubles is what puts everything back in perspective when you’re feeling low, but at the same time those same individuals help you in that they give you the strength to pull yourself out of your funk, move forward, and think more positively.)

All images courtesy of Images and their respective owners

Filed under: Annoucements

Here Comes Peter Cottontail

Happy Easter! - FFWPU USA

HAPPY EASTER to all my WordPress Followers, those I’m Following, and all the Curious Visitors

Stay safe, enjoy all the goodies the Easter Bunny gives out, and make sure to check out Easter Parade with Fred Astaire and Judy Garland

Filed under: Annoucements


by Tony Nash

(any and all opinions are soley of the author)

Actor Profile: Toshiro Mifune
“The ordinary Japanese actor might need ten feet of film to get across an impression; Mifune needed only three” – Akira Kurosawa (image from FilmDoo)

I know today is April Fools Day, and everybody is probably enjoying the jovial jokes and pranks associated to it. But for me, today is special because it’s the Birthday of the great Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune, he’d have been 101. For those of us film aficionados, today being Mifune’s birthday is a little on the humorous side. Mifune of course was known for his very stern and hardened facial expressions that sometimes hid very humane emotions, and so for a man to be born on a day for humor and having become famous for playing subtly complex characters makes for very interesting conversation.

100 Years of Genius: The Toshiro Mifune Hall of Fame - The Ringer
Mifune showing a rare warm smile on camera (image from The Ringer)

(Mifune is one of my all time favorite foreign language cinema actors, and one I’ve always felt aspiring actors should look at and study due to the naturalness with which he approached every role. That he, along with his best known colleague Akira Kurosawa, transcended culture and were able to speak to not only their native countrymen, but to people from all over the world is something to behold and admire. All of his collaborations with Kurosawa are available on DVD and Blu Ray from The Criterion Collection, and some of his non Kurosawa films are on DVD and Blu Ray as well.)

All images courtesy of Images and their respective owners

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Filed under: Film: Actor/Actress Spotlight

A Play Within a Play, Or How Shakespeare Saves a Marriage

by Tony Nash

(WordPress Follower Appreciation #4: Master Mix Movies)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(Mild Spoilers)

Image result for kiss me kate movie
Original Poster (from the IMDb)

Kiss Me Kate (1953) ***** PG

Kathryn Grayson: Lilli Vanessi/”Katherine ‘Kate'”

Howard Keel: Fred Graham/”Petruchio”

Anne Miller: Lois Lane/”Bianca”

Keenan Wynn: Lippy, Mob Collector

James Whitmore: Slug, Mob Collector

Tommy Rall: Bill Calhoun/”Lucentio”

Kurt Kasznar: “Baptista”

Bobby Van: “Gremio”

Bob Fosse: “Hortensio”

Ron Randell: Cole Porter

Written by: Dorothy Kingsley, adapted from the stage play by Sam Spewack (as Samuel Spewack) & Bella Spewack, freely based on The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare

Directed by: George Sidney

Synopsis: A divorced acting couple put aside personal animosity to put on a production of Cole Porter’s musical take on Shakespeare’s romantic comedy The Taming of the Shrew. The film mixes both the production itself, and the backstage antics of the couple, and two of the other cast members as they figure out their romantic feelings, all while the lead actor does whatever it takes to keep his ex on the stage.

Image result for kiss me kate movie
Lois Showing Fred, Lilli, and Cole Porter Her Tap Dancing Skills (from NZIFF)

While the 3D craze was still the fashion of the early to mid 1950’s, the Musical genre got its taste of the fad with the film Kiss Me Kate. The film within a film, which explores both a theater company’s performance of a production and the backstage antics of the cast, and others associated to them, is a fine setting for the 3D process as it allows actors to punt items to the camera in a believable fashion that doesn’t feel as if they’re entirely playing to the camera for the sake of the effect, whether it be the throwing of a prop or the extended in focus view of an object. The film’s main comic element is the two leads constant bickering that finally has the leading lady having enough of her ex husband/male lead’s manipulations and ego, and the man’s zany efforts to keep her from leaving, and to keep the show from ending up a financial and critical disaster. Destiny or luck seems to be on his side when a member of the cast signs an IOU with the lead’s name for a gambling debt that has two Mob enforcers coming to collect, prompting the “hero” to play the mix up to his advantage, stating he won’t be able to “pay” if his leading lady walks out on the show, leading to very funny and outlandish events and situations. A solid side plot has an aspiring acting/dancing couple who’s budding romance is on the skids because of the woman’s flirtatious nature and the man’s bad luck in games of chance, which ignites the chaotic events of the night.

(Author’s Note: Cole Porter, who wrote the songs and music for the original stage version and the film, is given a small cameo played by Ron Randall in the film, isn’t a character in the original stage performances, only mentioned as being the author of the play.)

Image result for kiss me kate movie
The first big number of the play (from the IMDb)

Kiss Me Kate was one of the many successful modern takes on a Shakespeare classic, and one of the few Hollywood efforts to show what possibly might go on backstage before and in between the acts of a play/musical, including the tensions between big name stars who can’t seem to coexist in the same production. A lot of changes had to be made before MGM gave the film the greenlight to begin filming. The original script by married couple Sam and Bella Spewack had quite a bit of colorful language, swear words, and a lot of sexual innuendo. “Brush Up Your Shakespeare”, sung by the two hoods, had them performing the number during the Broadway version in a more comical manner that hinted the duo may have been homosexuals, which was a major no-no in the then still enforced Hayes Code, moved as a diversion by the hoods while Fred and Lilli had their big spat about Fred’s deception to keep her from quitting acting to right before the ending as a means of cheering Fred up after he believes he’s lost Lilli for good. There’s quite a bit else changed for the sake of cleanliness, but that’s the main bit everybody talks about.

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Lilli Being Swept off Her Feet (from Pinterest)
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Lilli as Kate the Shrew Singing “I Hate Men” (from Pinterest)

Kathryn Grayson, the Opera Soprano trained singer who went to Hollywood, is a sheer delight as both Lilli Vanessi and the title character of Shakespeare’s famous Shrew. Grayson’s voice and style is perfect for the nearly always frustrated Lilli who has a love/hate relationship with both her ex-husband and the acting profession, her voice going deep Alto every time someone gets her mad. While it’s clear she loves performing, the tough time she had with ex Fred Graham has soured her to the calling, and wanting to start afresh by marrying a wealthy and doting Texas Cattle Baron. The mix of the film going from the performance to the backstage shows Lilli is very much like the character of Kate in that the she’s quick temper, isn’t afraid to get physical, and would gladly punch the lights out of her would be suitor, but unlike Kate, Lilli loves to be romanced and dotted upon, just wanting the man she marries to treat her like an equal and a partner, rather than just a cog in the theater machine to success. Her ire really gets up when Fred stoops to a new low and cons two hoods into making her stay with the production, falsely believing Fred owes their boss money for a gambling loss, making the hoods wish they hadn’t taken the job when, during a scene in the play, she begins throwing very real dishes, pots, and vases at them. Her emotions eventually become conflicted upon realizing that Fred truly does care about her, but at the same time feels he did her wrong so many times when they were married the first time that she wonders if she can honestly trust him.

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Fred Trying to Remind Lilli of the Good Times They Shared (from TCM)
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The Wiley and Cunning Petruchio Making Plans With Father-in-Law Baptista (from The Blonde at the Film)

Howard Keel, with his Tenor-Baritone pipes and rascally persona, does a fine job in the roles of Fred Graham and Petruchio. A Poster Boy example of what a hammy ego-maniac star usually is like, Fred Graham is the kind of guy who may very well make a struggling actor or actress a name in the business, the main question really being how long will it take before the performer wants to strangle him for being too demanding and difficult. Fred is an actor/director who knows what he wants and knows what will make a show a success, but his methods for getting the job done are fairly questionable. Not above using jealousies and professional competition as a means to coercing hard to get actors and actresses to accept roles in his productions, Fred may have bit off more than he could chew when he goes too far in trying to match ex wife Lilli’s verbal barbs and she finally has enough and decides to quit show business. Panicking over the failure of the show, in both money and within the theater community, and what it’ll mean for his reputation, Fred once again gets far too desperate in his actions to save the show. After a co-star, who’s jealous of the swoons his girlfriend gives Fred, signs his gambling IOU debt with Fred’s name, Fred equally deceives the hoodlums who intend to break the debt holder’s body parts unless the money’s coughed up, by making them think Lilli’s performance is the only way the show will make money to pay them off, thus using force to make her stay. The plan goes awry in the end when Lilli manages to scare the hoods and Fred into letting her go by threatening kidnapping charges to the police. Realizing Lilli’s on to all his tricks, Fred tries being honest with her, saying theater, and he himself, are nothing without her talent and gracefulness, and admitting that it was his ego that fouled up their marriage. He then must wait and see what happens.

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Lilli is Unimpressed as Lois Shows Her Range (from SMITH RAFAEL FILM CENTER – California Film Institute)
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The Lovely Bianca Laments Her Marriage Woes (from Ultimate Movie Rankings)
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The Comic Hoodlums Lippy and Slug (from YouTube)
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The Duo in Disguise as Extras (from NZIFF)
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Bianca’s Vying Suitors (from Pinterest)
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The Frustrated Poppa Baptista (from Aveleyman)

Ms. Grayson and Mr. Keel are joined by a bevy of talented theater and film performers.

Anne Miller, the Queen of Tap Dance, is a hit as the other woman Lois Lane (no pun on Superman here) and the late casted Bianca for the Graham production. Lois is an aspiring performer actress/dancer who innocently flirts with Fred Graham to help move her career along. Her problem is that her boyfriend Bill Calhoun is content with being just another nameless hoofer in the chorus, and prefers the thrill of gambling over the excitement of applause and performing. His frustration over Lois and his bad luck is what leads to the crazy events later on, but in the end things work out for them. Keenan Wynn (Disney Legend Ed Wynn’s son) and James Whitmore, two of Hollywood’s more reliable heavies and antagonists, are blasts in the respective roles of Lippy and Slug, Mob debt collectors. When Bill’s losses at gambling round up to $2000, the duo’s boss sends them to either get the money owed to him, or to break the welching gambler’s arms and legs. Because they didn’t see Bill at the gaming joint, and only know the IOU bears the signature Fred Graham, the duo immediately head for the known Broadway star’s dressing room. Eventually they come to like Graham, and don’t relish the idea of beating him to a pulp for not paying, never finding out they’ve been given a bum steer by Bill. Oddly enough, both Wynn and Whitmore come off as more comical than menacing, as per script, and audiences can’t help but like them. Broadway fans will like that icon Bob Fosse made his first film appearance in Kate as one of Bianca’s suitors, Hortensio to be exact, and even in this small role, his song and dance talent can be clearly seen. Kurt Kasznar, known to most people as the bumbling and shifty Mr. Fitzhugh in Irwin Allen’s Land of the Giants, plays another unnamed actor playing the role of Kate and Bianca’s father Baptista. This guy clearly has no clue Fred and Lilli are at the breaking point of civility to each other, and shows the professionalism of actor’s by trying to keep the show going in spite of the mayhem.

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All The World’s A Stage (from The Blonde at the Movies)

The film is a highlight of the Golden Age of Musicals, along with Singin’ in the Rain, The Band Wagon, and Easter Parade, and while some of the film’s content can be seen as dated, old fashion, and borderline sexist/chauvinistic, the music and performances make up for the flaws, and the flaws of course can also be overlooked as an object of the time it was made in. It’s surprising the Musical didn’t do more in the 3D realm as 3D was perfect for the genre, allowing for the gimmicks to used in believable ways that didn’t look like playing to the camera.

(I do highly recommend this very well done Musical for anyone who likes the genre, and for those looking for a good place to start with it. There are some clichés involved with it, and some material that is dated, or hasn’t translated well for future viewers, but the film overall can still speak to many generations about the pratfalls of being in the theater, and how temperament amongst actors can make or break both personal and professional relationships. I do this one in honor of one of my more recent Followers Master Mix Movies, who loves all sorts of genre cinema, and seems to really like films that mix genres together, so I hope he takes a liking to this one. There is a Blu Ray available from the Warner Archives label, and while the transfer of the film is immaculate, only the original 3D print is used for the release that requires the specialized 3D TV and 3D capable Blu Ray player. The original release Blu Ray had both the 2D and 3D versions, but has long been out of print. The DVD is still a great option as it has the same transfer of the Blu Ray, but is the 2D version.)

all images courtesy of Images and their respective owners

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Filed under: Film & TV: Potpourri, Film: Analysis/Overview, Film: Special Topics


from Tony Nash

Hello to all my Followers, those I’m Following, and all Curious Visitors,

The New Year has gotten off to a slow start for me here on MOVIE FAN MAN, the Lockdowns because of COVID 19 have made my usual groove of writing and watching movies go a little haywire, from the usual 360 degrees to whatever anyone would consider a loopy number. For a little while posts may be infrequent, but rest assured I’ll be back to my usual form soon. I do apologize to anyone and everyone who eagerly looks forward every week to what I’ll be writing about, but as we’re all in the same boat I’m sure everyone can relate and understand. A big thanks to everyone for the continued support of of the blog, it’ll only be bumpy on here for a time, soon a big wave of exciting new stuff will be posted here.

I do plan on finishing up my Follower Appreciation Special this month, I’ve got about two or three more selectees to give the spotlight to.

In other interesting news, today I got the first dose of the COVID vaccination. So far I’m feeling pretty good, and I will update if I feel the common side effects of headaches and sluggishness associated with it, but I have a pretty good constitution when it comes to my health, but I’ll still be keeping a careful on how I feel in the coming days. I get the second and last dose on the 22nd of this month.

Stay safe and stay healthy everybody, and thanks again for the support and interest of my blog.

Filed under: Annoucements

Murder by the Clock

by Tony Nash

(WordPress Follower Appreciation #3: Debbi-IFatM)

(All Opinions are of the author alone)

(Mild Spoilers)

The Big Clock (1948) - IMDb
Original Poster

The Big Clock (1948) ***** PG-13

Ray Milland: George Stroud

Charles Laughton: Earl Janoth

Maureen O’Sullivan: Georgette Stroud

George Macready: Steve Hagen

Elsa Lanchester: Louise Patterson

Harold Vermilyea: Don Klausmeyer

Dan Tobin: Ray Cordette

Rita Johnson: Pauline York

Harry Morgan: Bill Womack (as Henry Morgan)

Richard Webb: Nate Sperling

Elaine Riley: Lily Gold

Written by: Johnathan Latimer, based on the novel by Kenneth Fearing

Directed by: John Farrow

Synopsis: George Stroud is struggling to save his marriage when his wife accuses him of fooling around and being a yes man for his megalomaniac newspaper boss Earl Janoth. When Janoth’s mistress reveals she’s been fooling around on him, he kills her in a rage. Wrongly believing Stroud is the other man, Janoth has evidence planted to incriminate him, and goes so far as having Stroud look for “the killer”. When Stroud discovers the truth, a race ensues to prove his innocence.

Blu-ray: The Big Clock review - brilliantly constructed comedy noir, ripe  for rediscovery
Stroud on the Case (from The Arts Desk)

The Post WWII Years are considered the beginning of pure Film Noir, the mix of light and shadows, and peoples uncertainty of who could be trusted as trust and loyalty were shattered by war time actions becoming the forefront of the genre. The Big Clock was a unique piece in the Post War era as it mixed the unease of the time with the classic procedural detective stories of the 1930’s and early 1940’s, making for a concoction that’s both thrilling and immersive. A talented writer’s gotten stuck in a lingering funk as he’s torn between continuing a well paying but overwhelming job, and saving his loving but strife’ d marriage. His life takes a whirlwind shock turn when his boss murders his two-timing mistress and, believing the writer is the other man, frames him for the crime. To make matters even stranger, the tyrant killer sets it up so the writer will discover he’s been framed by giving him the job of “finding the killer”. The entire film becomes of a mix of detective style investigative drama and mystery suspense as the boss and his henchman look to prevent the reporter from finding out he was framed and exposes his boss for the crazed tyrant he is.

Blu-Ray Review | The Big Clock (Blu-ray) | Blu-ray Authority
Stroud in Hot Water After a Bender (from Blu Ray Authority)

Ray Milland offers up a solid and nuanced performance as George Stroud. While a good guy for the most part, Stroud lacks the ability to decide between what is right and what is necessary for his personal ethics and life. He’s a talented writer wasting his time in a “yellow journalism” paper that also acts as a gossip column While his newspaper reporter’s job offers a nice salary to keep a roof over his and his wife’s head, the ridiculous hours and assignments he’s often given, leave him little opportunity and time to be the devoted and loving husband he desires to be. His wife, while supportive and sympathetic, constantly harangues him for thinking more of his job than of her, even though his job is what keeps them in house, food, and clothing. That Stroud can’t seem to reconcile both worlds makes things a lot tougher, and the strain of being unable to prove his devotion to the woman he loves, almost leads him astray. When he innocently flirts with a woman who ends up being the newspaper boss’s mistress, and who is later murdered by the magnate, Stroud inadvertently gets mistaken for the “other man”, and must use his wits and ability as a reporter to prevent his boss from successfully making him look guilty of murder and infidelity.

OZU TEAPOT — The Big Clock | John Farrow | 1948 Charles...
Janoth Is Calmed by Hagen (from OZU TEAPOT Tumblr)

Charles Laughton, one of Hollywood’s most prolific and versatile character actors, gets his magnum opus of slimy villainy as Earl Janoth. Janoth is a Hearst style newspaper magnate in that he’s ruthless, cunning, and will make his employees do whatever it takes to get a story out. He makes a huge mistake however when he falls for an equally devious woman who manages to put one over on him and makes him look like a fool. Enraged, Janoth coldly murders her and, thinking his ace reporter is the other man and saw what had happened, uses his power and influence to make the man the patsy in the woman’s death. Letting the reporter believe he has to solve the murder because of how close to home it hits the paper, Janoth sets up a wave of planted evidence, false leads and witnesses, and a false suspect to be found, all in hopes the police will be led to the reporter. Unbeknownst to Janoth, the reporter has figured out his scheme, and soon plans are unraveling as Janoth tries to stay two steps ahead.

THE BIG CLOCK (1948) - Comic Book and Movie Reviews
An Eccentric Artist Helps Stroud (from Comic Book and Movie Reviews)
The Big Clock - The Big Clock (1948) - Film -
Hagen, Janoth’s Right Hand (from Cinemagia)
Test DVD - La Grande Horloge (The Big Clock) 1948 - Carlotta Films * Film  Noir CineFaniac - Tout sur les films noirs
Stroud and His Wife (from Cinefanatic)
The Big Clock (1948) Film Noir. Harry Morgan, John Farrow | Film noir,  Noir, Film
Janoth’s Silent Henchman (from Pinterest)

A slew of Golden Age actors and actresses join Milland and Laughton in the whirlwind mystery Thriller. Maureen O’Sullivan, known to many as the mother of actress Mia Farrow, came out of retirement at director/husband John Farrow’s (Mia’s Dad) request to play Stroud’s loving and supportive, but frazzled wife Georgette (what a pun there huh?). Sullivan mainly plays the typical loyal wife who has her reserves, but Sullivan always played whatever part she got with believability. George Macready, who could play both good guys and bad guys, does a fantastic job as Janoth’s secretary and partner in crime Steve Hagen. Hagen, who at times feels he’ll forever be in Janoth’s shadow, ends up being the weak link in Janoth’s scheme when jealousy and betrayal circle into bigger problems. Elsa Lanchester, one of the quintessential British character actresses, whose fame was cemented as The Bride in 1936’s Bride of Frankenstein and later in 1964 as Katie Nanna in Disney’s Mary Poppins, gets to ham it up well as the bohemian artist Louise Patterson. A painting of Patterson’s proves vital in helping Stroud prove his innocence, and she tags along in the investigation to not only help Stroud, but get his aid in locating her long runnoft husband. MASH fans will be pleasantly surprised to learn that Harry Morgan, credited as Henry Morgan, plays a fairly big part in the film as Janoth’s brutish enforcer Mr. Womack. Morgan doesn’t speak at all in the film, but his facial features give away a ruthless tough who’ll do what he’s told, and do it well.

The Big Clock (1948) - John Farrow - RoweReviews
Stroud Stays a Step Ahead (from RoweReviews)

The film for a time was in a limbo before actually starting production. Author and poet Kenneth Fearing wrote the main villain of the book, Earl Janoth, as a blatant caricature ripoff to Time Magazine publisher Henry Luce, who had given Fearing loads of grief when Fearing’s financial troubles forced him to take a job with the magazine. Paramount Pictures bought the rights to the book before it even hit stores, but had to wait to greenlight it until critic reviews came out, and were fearful of the project going down in flames should Henry Luce decide to sue Fearing for slander and defamation of character. To everyone’s sigh of relief amazement, Luce didn’t make the connection between Janoth and himself, and Paramount greenlight the film.

The Big Clock (1948) - John Farrow - RoweReviews
A Night View of the Outside of the Janoth Publication (from RoweReviews)

In spite of fears of the author being sued, the creative issues between director Farrow and Paramount Producers, and usual on set antics of the cast, The Big Clock is still one of the best Post WWII era Noirs, and showcases the uncertainty of that trying period.

(A great Noir Thriller that movie fans should check out at least once, and another high recommendation from this author. Anyone new to Noir will find this film a good starting point to begin, and long term fans of the genre will find it the perfect film to frequently revisit. The plot and action have the hallmarks of an Agatha Christie story, but the cinematography definitely makes it a proper Noir. The Blu Ray from Arrow Video’s Arrow Academy Line offers up a solid transfer in the both the video and audio of the film, making it look exactly as it did in 1948. I dedicate this one to the lovely and wonderful Debbi, who runs the blog I Found It at the Movies. Her Blog does a varied amount of content, but her main interest seems to be Noir and Gangster movies, and I figured this film would be the perfect compliment to show my appreciation for her following my blog.)

all images courtesy of Images and their respective owners

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buying options

Filed under: Film & TV: Potpourri, Film: Analysis/Overview, TV: Analysis/Overview