Category: Movies

“The Raven” (1963) starring Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff and Jack Nicholson / Z-View

The Raven (1963)

Director:  Roger Corman

Screenplay:  Richard Matheson based on “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe

Stars: Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff, Hazel Court, Jack Nicholson and Leo Gordon (voice uncredited)

Tagline: Wits and wizardry run a-fowl!

The Plot…

A talking raven shows up at the castle of Dr. Erasmus Craven (Price).  It turns out the raven is actually Dr. Adolphus Bedlo (Lorre)!  Bedlo was transformed into a raven by Dr. Scarabus (Karloff) when the two had a duel of magic.  Craven is able to restore Bedlo to human form.  They decide to go to Scarabus’ castle for a confrontation.  Bedlo wants revenge for being turned into a bird.  Craven is on a mission to find his missing wife Lenore.

Before it is over Bedlo, Craven and Scarabus will be in a battle of magic with the losers facing certain death!

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

The Raven is very loosely based on Edgar Allan Poe’s poem.  Director, Roger Corman, and writer, Richard Matheson wanted more humor and less terror for this film.  It was shot in just 15 days and Corman allowed the actors to play loose with their dialogue.  This suited Peter Lorre, who improvised many of his lines.  Boris Karloff didn’t enjoy this method, while Vincent Price caught on quickly.  It’s interesting to note that Peter Lore and Jack Nicholson reportedly didn’t get along when the cameras weren’t rolling.

The highlight is the duel between Price and Karloff.  It’s an extended sequence that kids of all ages will enjoy.

The Raven earns 3 of 5 stars.

“Three Little Sew and Sews” (1939) starring The Three Stooges / Z-View

Three Little Sew and Sews (1939)

Director:  Del Lord

Screenplay:  Ewart Adamson

Stars: Curly Howard, Larry Fine, Moe Howard, Ned Glass, Charles Dorety, Lane Chandler, Vernon Dent, Bud Jamison, Al Thompson and Cy Schindell

Tagline: None.

The Plot…

Our boys are Navy tailors getting ready for shore leave.  As they clean up, Curly gets the bright idea to “borrow” an Admiral’s uniform.  Using Curly’s new identity the boys get into a high class party.  Nazi spies decide to take advantage of “the Admiral and his two escorts”.  It will be up to our boys to save a US submarine.  What could go wrong?

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Three Little Sew and Sews uses the tried and true gag of a spring getting attached to a person’s rear.  In this case it is Curly’s and is the funniest example of them all.  Curly really shines in this one.  He has a scene where he’s taunting Moe and Larry while they are in jail.  It’s a simple scene but Curly makes it work.  Of course the same could be said of his other moments.

This is also one of the few Stooges shorts where they die at the end… the good news is they earn their wings.  ; )

The Little Sew and Sews earns 5 of 5 stars.

John Wayne’s Best Films!

Jack Hawkins at /Film ranked his favorite John Wayne films.  It got me thinking about how I’d rate the Duke’s best.  So without further jibber-jabber, here’s how thinks shook out.

Hawkins

Zablo

10. The Cowboys 10. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
9. Stagecoach 9. The Shootist
8. Fort Apache 8. Red River
7. The Longest Day 7. 3 Godfathers
6. El Dorado 6. Rio Bravo
5. Baby Face 5. Hondo
4. Hatari! 4. True Grit
3. True Grit 3. The Cowboys
2. The Shootist 2. Stagecoach
1. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance 1. The Searchers

“Last Looks” (2021) starring Charlie Hunnam & Mel Gibson / Z-View

Last Looks (2021)

Director:  Tim Kirkby

Screenplay:  Howard Michael Gould based on this novel Last Looks

Stars: Charlie Hunnam, Mel Gibson, Lucy Fry, Clancy Brown, Robin Givens, CC Castillo, Method Man, Dominic Monaghan, Paul Ben-Victor and Josh McDermitt

Tagline:  This city is a bad place to be a good guy.

The Plot…

Charlie Waldo (Hunnam) is an ex-cop who has withdrawn from society.  He lives a quiet life in a trailer outside the city.  All of that changes when he is convinced to look into the murder of a Alastair Pinch’s wife.  Pinch (Gibson) is a an arrogant, alcoholic, but extremely popular tv star.  Pinch is also the prime suspect in his wife’s murder.  He claims he was blackout drunk when she was killed.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Last Looks has a great cast with Gibson and Hunnam leading the way.  Although Hunnam gets top billing, Gibson steals the show with his take on Alastair Pinch.  It’s fun to see see Clancy Brown, Dominic Monagham and Josh McDermitt show up as well.

Last Looks has the feel of a quirky detective show from the 1970s or 80s. You know the shows where the “guest star” gets the flashy part and there’s plenty of interesting characters along the way. I enjoyed Last Looks and could see it producing a sequel if the box office would support it.

Last Looks earns 4 of 5 stars.

“Merry Mavericks” (1951) starring The Three Stooges / Z-View

Merry Mavericks (1951)

Director:  Edward Bernds

Screenplay:  Edward Bernds

Stars: Shemp Howard, Larry Fine, Moe Howard, Emil Sitka, Al Thompson and Blackie Whiteford

Tagline:  Meet The Three Stooges as up-and-coming… always leave-’em-laughing con-men in the wild and woolly west!

The Plot…

The boys are kicked out of a frontier town as vagrants.  When they arrive at the next town, our guys are mistaken for gunfighters who’ve come to clean up the place. What could go wrong?

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Merry Mavericks finds the Stooges in the old west PLUS we get a haunted house!

Merry Mavericks earns 5 of 5 stars.

“Shot in the Frontier” (1954) starring The Three Stooges / Z-View

Shot in the Frontier (1954)

Director:  Jules White

Screenplay:  Felix Adler

Stars: Shemp Howard, Larry Fine, Moe Howard, Diana Darrin, Kenneth MacDonald, Mort Mills and Emil Sitka

Tagline:  Hey! Here’s hilarious horseplay!

The Plot…

Our guys are cowboys in the wild west.  Immediately after getting hitched, they guys learn that the dastardly Noonan brothers are coming to kill them and steal their wives.  The boys can run or fight.  They decide to run, but they’re too late!  Now Shemp, Larry and Moe was go gun to gun and toe to toe with the Noonan brothers. What could go wrong?

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Shot in the Frontier uses sets from the classic western High Noon!

Shot in the Frontier earns 4 of 5 stars.

“Jurassic World: Dominion” (2022) / Z-View

Jurassic World: Dominion (2022)

Director: Colin Trevorrow

Screenplay by: Emily Carmichael, Colin Trevorrow from a story by Derek Connolly, Colin Trevorrow based on characters created by Michael Crichton

Stars: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Laura Dern, Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum, DeWanda Wise, Mamoudou Athie, Isabella Sermon, Campbell Scott, BD Wong, Omar Sy, Daniella Pineda  and Scott Haze

Tagline: The epic conclusion of the Jurassic era.

The Plot…

It’s four years after the events of the last Jurassic Park sequel.  Dr. Ellie Sattler (Dern) is trying to determine a way to stop genetically enhanced locusts from destroying crops around the world.  Alan Grant (Neil) is studying dinosaur fossils.  Owen Grady (Pratt) and Claire Deering (Howard) are raising Maisie Lockwood (Sermon) and their “pet” raptor.  Meanwhile Ian Malcolm (Goldblum) is the guest on a billionaire’s dinosaur island that — you know what, let me cut to the chase.  All the stars are going to end up together battling dinosaurs as they attempt to thwart a billionaire’s evil plans.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Dinosaurs are cool.  Dinosaurs in a modern world are even cooler.  It’s great that all the past stars of the Jurassic Park films return for this one.  There are some excellent scenes with dinosaurs chasing / attacking people, but we know that our stars are going to survive.

Part of the problem with Jurassic World: Dominion is the writing.  Any time a dinosaur is about to attack (and it doesn’t matter if it’s a raptor or a t-rex), raise your right hand in front of you and your left hand away from your side.  This stops them in their tracks.

Characters who should know better, do stupid things.  You’re walking across thin ice and it begins to crack.  Instead of flattening out, moving away from the person next to you and sliding across the ice, you look at the other person next to you and both begin to run.  When the group is moving through the jungle, you have the ones with weapons talking to each other behind the group and the weakest leading.  I could go on, but why?  We get plenty of dinosaur action and that’s the selling point.

Jurassic World: Dominion earns 3 of 5 stars.

“Rockin’ Thru The Rockies” (1940) starring The Three Stooges / Z-View

Rockin’ Thru The Rockies (1940)

Director:  Jules White

Screenplay:  Clyde Buckman

Stars: Curly Howard, Larry Fine, Moe Howard, Dorothy Comingore, Dick Curtis and Cy Schindell

Tagline:  None.

The Plot…

The boys are frontier guides taking a female acting troupe through Indian territory.  The chief of a local tribe has given them a deadline to be out of the area (with an emphasis on DEAD).  Time is running out.  What could go wrong?

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Rockin’ Thru The Rockies gives Curly a lot of solo screen time!  There’s also an fun gag with Curly and Moe ice fishing in different holes.  They both catch a big fish at the same time.  You can guess the rest!

Rockin’ Thru The Rockies earns 4 of 5 stars.

RIP: Cindy Williams

Cindy Williams, best known as Shirley Feeney who first appeared on Happy Days, and then in the popular television series Laverne & Shirley, died on January 25, 2023.  Today her family announced Ms. Williams passing after a short illness.  She was 75.

Cindy Williams wrote and acted in high school.  She attended Los Angles Community College as a theater major.  After graduation Ms. Williams began getting roles in commercials.  In 1970, Cindy Williams won roles in both a feature film and two television series. She would continue to get work in both television and feature films for the rest of her career.

Some of Cindy Williams’ television appearances include: My World and Welcome to It; Nanny and the Professor; Room 222 (3 episodes); Love American Style (2 episodes); Hawaii 5-0; Cannon; Police Story; Laugh-In (2 episodes); Happy Days (5 episodes); Laverne & Shirley (158 episodes); CHiPs (2 episodes); Laverne & Shirley in the Army (13 episodes); Mork & Mindy/Laverne & Shirley/Fonz Hour; The Magical World of Disney (2 episodes); Just Like Family (5 episodes); Perry Mason: The Case of the Poison Pen; Normal Life (13 episodes); Getting By (31 episodes); Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman; Touched by an Angel; Strip Mall (6 episodes); For Your Love (4 episodes); Law & Order: Special Victims Unit; Girlfriends (2 episodes) and Drive (3 episodes).

Some of Cindy Williams’ feature film appearances include: Drive, He Said; Beware! The Blob; American Graffiti; The Conversation; The First Nudie Musical and More American Graffiti.

Although Cindy Williams played Shirley Feeney on Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley (and other places), her career encompassed so much more.  She appeared in so many popular television series before and after getting that role.  Jack Nicholson directed her in Drive, He Said.  She had a featured role in the classic American Graffiti.  The same could be said for Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation. While I wasn’t a Laverne & Shirley fan, Cindy Williams always seemed the anchor of it when I watched.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Cindy Williams’ family, friends and fans.

“Viking Wolf” – The Poster and Trailer are Here!

I like the poster and trailer for Viking Wolf.  Since it will be on Netflix, watching will be a no-brainer.  Deal me in.

17-year-old Thale must move with her parents to a small town when her mother gets a job at the local police department. After a student is brutally murdered at a party that Thale attends, she suddenly becomes a key witness. Who, or rather what, was the killer?

RIP: Lisa Loring

Lisa Loring, best known as Wednesday on The Addams Family, died on January 28, 2023.  Ms. Loring suffered a massive stroke four days earlier and had been on life support.

Lisa Loring began her career as a child model at the age of three.  She appeared on an episode of Dr. Kildare in 1964.  This was the same year that The Addams Family premiered.  The series ran for two years.  Following that Lisa Loring occasionally worked on television and in feature films.

Some of Lisa Loring’s television appearances include: Dr. Kildare; The Addams Family (64 episodes); The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.; Halloween with the New Addams Family; Fantasy Island; Barnaby Jones (2 episodes) and As the World Turns (7 episodes).

Some of Lisa Loring’s feature film appearances include: Blood Frenzy; Savage Harbor and Doctor Spine.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Lisa Loring’s family, friends and fans.

“Up in the Air” (1940) starring Frankie Darro & Mantan Moreland / Z-View

Up in the Air (1940)

Director: Howard Bretherton

Screenplay: Edmond Kelso

Stars: Frankie Darro, Mantan Moreland, Tristram Coffin, Dick Elliott, John Holland and Carleton Young

Tagline: Murder in a radio station…while the public listens!

The Plot…

Frankie Ryan (Darro) is a radio station page.  Jeff Jefferson (Moreland) is a janitor at the same station.  They dream of becoming a comedy team.  Their antics have almost gotten them fired more than once.  When one of the radio’s singers is murdered at the station, Frankie and Jeff hope to solve the crime before the cops.  What could go wrong?

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Mantan Moreland was the reason I decided to check out Up in the Air.  Mantan is good, the movie less so.

Up in the Air is a low-budget production that clocks in at just 62 minutes.  If you’re a Mantan Moreland fan, then it’s worth a view.  Even so, be advised that there’s a scene where Darro and Moreland do a comedy bit with Darro in blackface. Darro and Moreland made several films together.  I plan to check out as many as possible.

Up in the Air earns 2 of 5 stars.

“Tricky Dicks” starring The Three Stooges / Z-View

Tricky Dicks (1953)

Director:  Jules White

Screenplay:  Felix Adler

Stars: Shemp Howard, Larry Fine, Moe Howard, Phil Arnold, and Murray Alper

Tagline:  A Mad Melee of Mirth!

The Plot…

The boys are police detectives dealing with folks (a pickpocket, a compulsive confesser to crimes, an organ grinder, his monkey, and a person off the street).   What could go wrong?

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Tricky Dicks reuses the file cabinet gag from Hold That Lion.  The killer fires his gun 85 times without reloading!

Tricky Dicks earns 3 of 5 stars.