“JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass” (2021) / Z-View

JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass (2021)

Director:  Ibrahim Hamdan, Oliver Stone

Starring: John F. Kennedy, Walter Cronkite, Lyndon B. Johnson, Jacqueline Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald, Jack Ruby, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Gerald Ford, Oliver Stone, Whoopi Goldberg (narration) and Donald Sutherland (narration)

Tagline:  None

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

Ibrahim Hamdan and Oliver Stone look at documents and findings declassified by the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992 that bring into question the finding that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.  If you’re at all interested in the conspiracy theories behind the assassination of President Kennedy, then JFK Revisited is worth a watch!

JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass earns 4 of 5 stars.

RIP: Clu Gulager

Clu Gulager passed away last night from natural causes.  He was 93 years old.

After a two year stint in the US Marine Corp, Mr. Gulager attended Northeastern State University in Oklahoma.  He later transferred to Baylor University where he graduated.

Mr. Gulager’s career began with guest appearance on the television series Omnibus.  He would continue with tv guest appearances until he landed a co-starring role as Billy the Kid in The Tall Man series which ran for 75 episodes.  Mr. Gulager’s first feature film appearance was a co-starring role in The Killers with Lee Marvin.  Mr. Gulager spent the rest of his career alternating between television and feature film roles.

Television appearances included: Wanted Dead or Alive; Have Gun – Will Travel; The Untouchables; Alfred Hitchcock Presents; Wagon Train; The Alfred Hitchcock Hour; Dr. Kildare; The Name of the Game; The F.B.I.; The Glass House (movie); Medical Center; Bonanza; Mannix; The Wonderful World of Disney; Kung Fu; Ironside; McCloud; Cannon; The Streets of San Francisco; Police Story; Hawaii 5-0; Knight Rider; Magnum PI; The Fall Guy; and Walker, Texas Ranger.

Some Clu Gulager’s feature films include: The Killers; The Last Picture Show; McQ; Shaft; Get Christie Love; A Force of One; The Return of the Living Dead; A Nightmare on Elm Street 2; The Hidden; I’m Gonna Git You Sucka; Vic and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

I am a Clu Gulager fan.  He would pop up in many, many of the television shows I watched as a kid.  Mr. Gulager also co-starred in The Glass House a television movie that was ahead of it’s time for the portrayal of life in a prison.  Clu Gulager also starred in Vic, a short directed by Sage Stallone.  Mr. Gulager continued to appear in television shows and movies throughout his career making everything that he appeared in better.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Clu Gulager’s family, friends and fans.

“Ida Red” (2021) starring Josh Hartnett and Frank Grillo / Z-View

Ida Red (2021)

Director:  John Swab

Screenplay by:  John Swab

Starring:  Josh Hartnett, Frank Grillo, Melissa Leo, Sofia Hublitz, William Forsythe, Deborah Ann Woll, George Carroll, Mark Boone Junior and Nicholas Cirillo

Tagline:  Crime runs in the family

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

Ida “Red” Walker (Leo) is the head of her family since her husband was killed in the robbery that put her behind bars.  Red’s two grown sons, Wyatt (Harnett) and Dallas (Grillo) continue to commit crimes under mom’s direction.

When Red learns that she has terminal cancer she makes it her (and her sons’) goal to get her out.  She has a two-pronged plan: 1) Pay off the head of the parole board and 2) commit a dangerous heist that will get them enough money to get the family out of the law’s reach.  Wyatt and Dallas agree to the plan despite the fact that they’re under the watchful eye of FBI Special Agent Lawrence Twilley (Forsythe) and a local cop who has a connection to the family!

Ida Red is a well written, well directed low budget crime film.  It boasts an excellent cast.  Frank Grillo steals every scene (especially memorable is his dance that will bring back memories of Michael Madsen in Reservoir Dogs).  Sofia Hublitz has a subplot that shows the pull of being in a crime family (and a nice plot twist to boot).  It’s nice seeing William Forsythe back in action and I always enjoy it when Mark Boone Junior shows up.

Ida Red earns 4 of 5 stars.

“Dead Zone” starring Michael Jai White and Jeff Fahey – The Trailer is Here!

Ok, it’s not Stephen King’s Dead Zone, but this Dead Zone does star Michael Jai White and Jeff Fahey.  And it does have soldiers going into a town full of what look like zombies and other creatures.  So, yeah, I’ll check it out.

To stop the collapse of humanity, an elite team of soldiers must descend on a radiation-poisoned town and perform the ultimate stealth mission using high-tech armor and weapons.

CAST: Michael Jai White, Chad Michael Collins, Jeff Fahey

DIRECTOR: Hank Braxtan

“The Satan Bug” (1965) / Z-View

The Satan Bug (1965)

Director:  John Sturges

Screenplay by:  James Clavell and Edward Anhalt based on The Satan Bug novel by Alistair MacLean

Starring:  George Maharis, Richard Basehart, Anne Francis, Dana Andrews, Frank Sutton, Edward Asner, Simon Oakland, John Anderson and James Hong

Tagline:  The price for uncovering the secret of the satan bug comes high – YOUR LIFE!

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

When a newly developed virus known as The Satan Bug is stolen from a research lab, Lee Barrett (Maharis), a former intelligence agent is brought back to track down the thieves before the bug is released to kill everyone in Los Angeles.

The Satan Bug story was ahead of it’s time.  The idea of a lab-created virus that gets loose seems commonplace today, but in 1965, this was first rate science fiction!

The cast consists of several familiar faces from popular television shows of the era.  George Maharis was the co-star of Route 66.  Richard Basehart starred on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.  Anne Francis was the star of Honey West.  Frank Sutton would soon play Sgt. Carter on Gomer Pyle.  Ed Asner would go on to play Lou Grant on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Lou Grant spin-off series.   If you’re a child of the era, it adds a bit of charm to The Satan Bug, but if you’re not of the right age, the cast won’t give you the same joy.

The Satan Bug has a great plot, but there’s more talk than action.  Then when the action comes, it doesn’t live up to the expectation.  For these reasons The Satan Bug earns 2 of 5 stars.

“Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” (2022) / Z-View

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (2022)

Director:  Akiva Goldsman (Ep.1); Maja Vrvilo (Ep. 2); Leslie Hope (Ep. 3); Dan Liu (Ep. 4); Rachel Leiterman (Ep. 5); Andi Armaganian (Ep. 6); Sydney Freeland (Ep. 7); Amanda Row (Ep. 8); Christopher J. Byrne (Ep. 9); Chris Fisher (Ep. 10)

Teleplay by:  Akiva Goldsman (Ep. 1 based on a story by Akiva Goldsman & Alex Kurtzman & Jenny Lumet); Henry Alonso Myers & Sarah Tarkoff (Ep.2); Akela Cooper & Bill Wolkoff (Ep. 3); Davy Perez & Beau DeMayo (Ep. 4); Henry Alonso Myers & Robin Wasserman (Ep. 5); Robin Wasserman & Bill Wolkoff (Ep. 6); Beau DeMayo & Sarah Tarkoff (Ep. 7); Akela Cooper & Onitra Johnson (Ep. 8); Davy Perez (Ep. 9); Henry Alonso Myers & Akiva Goldsman (Ep. 10)

Starring:  Anson Mount, Ethan Peck, Jess Bush, Melissa Navia, Christina Chong, Rebecca Romijn, Celia Rose Gooding, Babs Olusanmokun, Gia Sandhu and Paul Wesley.

Tagline:  None

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is the prequel to the original Star Trek series.  Set ten years prior to Star Trek, Strange New Worlds follows the adventures of the crew of the Enterprise under the command of Christopher Pike (Mount).  Characters from the original series (Spock, Nurse Christine Chapel, Nyota Uhura, T’Pring and Captain James T. Kirk) are joined by new crew members (Erica Ortegas, La’an Noonien-Singh, Una Chin-Riley).

I was a fan of the original Star Trek.  I never watched any of the other Star Trek television series until Strange New Worlds.  So I’m not a die hard fan of everything Star Trek, so believe me when I say that Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is exceptional.  Everything from the production values of the sets, the cast, the direction and the music is spot on.  Star Trek: Strange New Worlds isn’t a copy of the original series, but instead a love letter to everything it strived to be.

The series is perfectly cast.  Anson Mount is amazing in his role, but so are Ethan Peck, Jess Bush, Celia Rose Gooding and Melissa Navia.  The series is well written with each major cast member displaying personality and the feel that they have a life beyond the scenes that they’re in.  If you’re a fan of the original series there are things that begin in Strange New Worlds that will reverberate in the original series (the relationship between Spock and Nurse Chapel; seeing Nyota Uhura’s growth into a Star Fleet officer, the romance that will fail between Spock and T’Pring, and more).

I loved every episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds and cannot wait for season 2.  Star Trek: Strange New Worlds earns 5 of 5 stars.

“The Gray Man” (2022) Starring Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans / Z-View

The Gray Man (2022)

Director:  Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

Screenplay by:  Joe Russo, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely

Starring:  Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Billy Bob Thornton and Alfre Woodard

Tagline:  None

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

A man known as Six (Gosling) is a CIA assassin.  When a mission goes sideways, Six gains information about corruption within the CIA.  A team led by Lloyd Hansen (Evans), a sociopathic mercenary is then sent to kill Six.

The Gray Man is a fast paced action thriller that is fun while you’re watching it, but doesn’t have much substance to stick with you later.  Chris Evans steals the show as the crazy ex-CIA hitman.  It’s always good to see Billy Bob Thornton and Alfre Woodard.

The Gray Man earns 3 of 5 stars.

“Death Pursuit” – The Poster and Trailer are Here!

Death Pursuit has the look of an old-school action film and I’m always ready for that!

Death Pursuit is a full-throttle action thriller boasting jaw-dropping stunts and featuring action superstar Vinnie Jones.

A Thief (James Clayton) who only looks out for number one, finally pulls off his long-gestating heist: the robbery of psychotic crime lord, Temple (Vinnie Jones). The plan goes off without a hitch until he discovers a stowaway in his getaway car – Temple’s wife, Mia along with Temple’s elite assassin, the deadly and mysterious man known simply as The Frenchman, hot on their heels. The Thief is torn between disappearing with the money or taking a risky detour to help Mia escape her husband’s abusive grasp. But with Temple, The Frenchman, and their deadly convoy of goons in pursuit, they quickly discover the only way to get out alive is to drive out.

Texas Carnival (1949) / Z-View

Texas Carnival (1949)

Director:  Charles Walters

Screenplay by:  Dorothy Kingsley, George Wells (story)

Starring:  Esther Williams, Red Skelton, Howard Keel, Ann Miller, Keenan Wynn, Paula Raymond,
Tom Tully
and Glenn Strange

Tagline:  FOR THE MILLIONS WHO LOVED “THE GREAT CARUSO” AND “SHOW BOAT” ANOTHER BIG MGM MUSICAL!

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

Cornie Quinell (Skelton) and his partner, Debbie Telford (Williams) run the dunk tank at the Texas carnival.  When Cornie sees a drunk man (Wynn) being taken advantage of by two of the carnies, Cornie comes to his rescue.  It turns out the drunk is Dan Sabinas, a rich cattleman.  Dan tries to give Cornie several thousand dollars for his help.  Cornie refuses the cash.  The Dan tries to give him his car.  Again Cornie refuses and instead gets drunken Dan into a cab to take him home.  As the cab leaves, Dan invites Cornie to visit the hotel he’s staying in.

Cornie and Debbie drive Dan’s car to the hotel where Cornie is mistaken for the rich cattleman.  Because of Dan’s invite they stay in his hotel suite waiting for Dan to arrive. Cornie meets Sunshine Jackson and a mutual attraction develops, meanwhile Debbie and Dan’s foreman, Slim Shelby (Keel) begin to hit it off.  Cornie ends up loosing $17,000 in a high stakes poker game meant for Dan.

When Dan arrives, he’s sobered up and doesn’t remember meeting Cornie! Cornie has a plan though…

Texas Carnival rates 3 of 5 stars.

“Neptune’s Daughter” (1949) / Z-View

Neptune’s Daughter (1949)

Director:  Edward Buzzell

Screenplay by:  Dorothy Kingsley, Ray Singer (additional dialogue), Dick Chevillat (additional dialogue)

Starring:  Esther Williams, Red Skelton Ricardo Montalban, Betty Garrett, Keenan Wynn, Xavier Cugat, Mike Mazurki and Mel Blanc

Tagline:  With a Great Cast of Stars! Bathing Beauties! Songs and Spectacle!

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

It’s a case of mistaken identity when Betty Barrett (Garrett) falls for Jack Spratt (Skelton) thinking he is super-suave, Jose O’Rourke (Montalban).  When Betty’s sister, Eve (Williams) finds out that the Latin lover has her sister in his sights, she steps in only to find herself falling for the real Jose O’Rourke!

Meanwhile, gangsters plan to kidnap O’Rourke who is in town for a polo match. They figure to make a bundle with the star player out.  Of course there’s that little problem of mistaken identity…

Red Skelton has some funny scenes.  “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” gets a new meaning when Williams & Montalban followed by Garrett and Skelton perform it.  Mike Mazurki is great as the dumb thug and Keenan Wynn makes every movie better.

Neptune’s Daughter rates 3 of 5 stars.

RIP: Nichelle Nichols

Nichelle Nichols passed away last night from natural causes.  She was 89 years old.

Although best known for her role as Nyota Uhura on the original Star Trek television series, Ms. Nichols first became famous for her role in the play Kicks and Co.  This led to roles in a Chicago production of Carmen Jones and later a New York production of Porgy and Bess.  Nichelle Nichols also did singing and modeling jobs.

Prior to her groundbreaking role on Star Trek, Ms. Nichols began getting roles on television (The Lieutenant; CBS Repertoire Workshop; Payton Place; Tarzan) and theatrical films (Made in Paris; Mister Buddwing; Doctor, You’ve Got to be Kidding).  With her role on Star Trek, Nichelle Nichols became one of the first African-American women to be featured in such a prominent co-starring role on a television series.

When she was offered a role on Broadway, Ms. Nichols planned to leave the series.  However Martin Luther King, Jr. convinced her by saying, “…you cannot, you cannot (leave the show)…for the first time on television, we will be seen as we should be seen every day, as intelligent, quality, beautiful, people.”   Not only did Nichelle Nichols stay for the entire series, she voiced Nyota Uhura on Star Trek: The Animated Series, and returned for the Star Trek feature films (Star Trek; The Motion Picture; Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan; Star Trek III: The Search for Spock; Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home; Star Trek V: The Voyage Home and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country).

When Star Trek the series ended, and when she wasn’t making Star Trek feature films, Nichelle Nichols continued to act on television and feature films, worked with NASA to recruit minority and females, released two albums and did voice work for animation! Talk about multi-talented!

My first exposure to Nichelle Nichols was her role on Star Trek.  I can remember the controversy when she and William Shatner had one of the first interracial kisses on television.  I was just a kid, but thought, “What’s the big deal?  She’s a beautiful, smart women.  Kirk would be a fool not to kiss her.”  By all accounts Nichelle Nichols was as beautiful a person inside as out.  I’ve never heard a bad story about her.  Fans love her and rightly so.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Nichelle Nichols family, friends and fans.

“Hellboy” (2019) / Z-View

Hellboy (2019)

Director:  Neil Marshall

Screenplay by:  Andrew Cosby based on the world and characters created by Mike Mignola

Starring:  David Harbour, Milla Jovovich, Ian McShane, Sasha Lane, Daniel Dae Kim and Thomas Haden Church

Tagline  Demons Have Demons Too.

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

In the final days of World War II, the Nazis make a last ditch effort to win the war by attempting to summon demons from Hell.  Lobster Johnson and American forces stop the Nazis, but not before a demon child that will be called Hellboy appears.  Hellboy is raised by Professor Trevor “Broom” Bruttenholm (McShane) to fight things that go bump in the night.  You know, witches, demons and the like.

Vivienne Nimue, the Blood Queen (Jovovich) has a plan to get Hellboy to turn his back on humans and rule as her King.  Normally we wouldn’t have to worry, but lately Hellboy has been having self-doubt and “daddy issues.”

I’m a fan of Mike Mignola’s Hellboy as well as the first two Hellboy films starring Ron Perlman and directed by Guillermo del Toro.  While I would have loved them to return for a third film, I was open to a new director, star and take on the character.  When the first posters/photos started coming out, I liked the look.  Sadly the movie is nowhere as bad ass as the publicity materials.  Hellboy has a cool appearance, but is physically too small.  He should be huge,  In the film he looks to be the height of an average person.  Hellboy also came off as whiney.  If Hellboy doesn’t work, the film is in trouble.

As to the story, it’s all over the place.  We get the origin of the Blood Queen.  We get the origin of Hellboy.  We get extended scenes of Hellboy fighting giants.  We get Hellboy fighting a pig-fairy,  We get Hellboy fighting a one-eyed witch.  In between we get Hellboy complaining to his “dad”, showing what a rebel he is by refusing to take his feet off Winston Churchill’s desk and jokes that often fall flat.

I wanted to like Hellboy, but can only give it 2 of 5 stars.

Rocky by Colin Murdoch!

Colin Murdoch is a freelance artist based in North Yorkshire, UK.  Mr. Murdoch created the Rocky art above as a private commission.  Here’s his description…

This poster was illustrated as a private commission for a Rocky fan and collector, to be shown alongside a set of black gloves signed in silver pen, and we felt it would be appropriate to paint the image in black and white.

I tried to keep the illustration in a painterly style to give it a feeling of action.

You can see more of Colin Murdoch’s art at his website.  He is available for commissions.

RIP: Burt Metcalfe

Burt Metcalfe died on Wednesday, July 27th at the age of 87.  Mr. Metcalfe was an actor, writer, director and producer.

Burt Metcalfe began his career as an actor with an uncredited role in The Bridges at Toko-Ri.  That was followed by roles on the tv series The Man Behind the Badge and General Electric Theater.  Mr. Metcalfe was then drafted and spent two years in the Navy.  Burt Metcalfe then resumed his acting career.  Some of his roles included parts on Gidget; Have Gun, Will Travel; Death Valley Days; The Twilight Zone; The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis; The Outer Limits; Perry Mason; The Fugitive and the James Bond film Diamonds are Forever.

Burt Metcalfe was recruited to serve as the casting agent for the television series M*A*S*H.  He was given the title Associate Producer.  Mr. Metcalfe would go on to serve as a writer, Associate Producer, Line Producer and Executive Producer of M*A*S*H.  In fact Burt Metcalfe was the only Producer to stay with the series for its entire run.  Mr. Metcalfe was nominated 13 times for Primetime Emmy Awards for his work as a writer on the series!  He even returned to serve as the executive producer for the M*A*S*H 30th Anniversary Reunion Special in 2002.

It’s interesting that Burt Metcalfe  was a successful actor but then transitioned to behind the camera work where he experienced even more success.  Mr. Metcalfe appears in one of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes, The Monsters are Due on Maple Street!

Ken Levine, who worked with Mr. Metcalfe as a writer on M*A*S*H has a nice write-up about him.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Burt Metcalfe’s family, friends and fans.