Category: Humor

“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.

“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.

“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: 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.

“Mummy’s Dummies” (1948) starring The Three Stooges / Z-View

Mummy’s Dummies (1948)

Director:  Edward Bernds

Screenplay:  Elwood Ullman

Stars: Shemp Howard, Larry Fine, Moe Howard, Vernon Dent, and Philip Van Zandt

Tagline: The Stooges run riot through ancient Egypt!

The Plot…

The boys are shyster used chariot salesmen.  When they are caught swindling the Captain of the Royal Guard, they are taken before King Rootentootin, who is suffering a terrible tooth ache.  The King agrees to spare their lives if they can cure his toothache.  What could go wrong?

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

The boys get a lot of mileage as incompetent dentists and the scene in Mummy’s Dummies is no exception.  Get Shemp in the Coke-bottle-bottom glasses, give him a pair of pliers and all bets are off.  There are some good laughs when the boys are on the run after discovering a plot to cheat the King out of tax money.

Mummy’s Dummies earns 4 of 5 stars.

“Dark Alibi” (1946) starring Sidney Toler & Mantan Moreland / Z-View

Dark Alibi (1946)

Director:  Phil Karlson

Screenplay: George Callahan, based on characters created by Earl Derr Biggers

Stars: Sidney Toler, Mantan Moreland, Ben Carter, Benson Fong, John Eldredge, Tim Ryan, Ray Walker and Milton Parsons

Tagline:  THE MASTER OF MYSTERY EXPOSES A GENIUS OF CRIME!

The Plot…

When Thomas Harley is sentenced to death for a crime he didn’t commit it will be up to Charlie Chan to prove his innocence.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Mantan Mooreland, who plays Charlie Chan’s valet, Birmingham, is the reason I started watching.  Mooreland is one of my favorite comedians from that era.  His timing and physical comedy are pure perfection.  Mooreland has three scenes in Dark Alibi with his former vaudeville partner, Ben Carter, that are shoehorned into the film.

The Charlie Chan films are low-budget and run just over an hour.  They’re a great way to close out a day.  The Chan films often set the viewer up to think one person is the villain only for it to turn out to be another.  Thankfully, we have Charlie Chan to set us straight.

Dark Alibi earns 4 of 5 stars.

“Knutzy Knights” (1954) starring The Three Stooges / Z-View

Knutzy Knights (1954)

Director:  Jules White

Screenplay:  Felix Adler, Edward Bernds (uncredited)

Stars: Shemp Howard, Larry Fine, Moe Howard, Jock Mahoney, Vernon Dent, Christine McIntyre, Philip Van Zandt and Kenner G. Kemp

Tagline:  Hits a New High in High-Jinks!

The Plot…

Princess Elaine (McIntyre) loves Cedric the Blacksmith (Mahoney). Unfortunately the King (Dent) has promised his daughter’s hand in marriage to The Black Prince (Van Zandt).  When the boys learn that the Black Prince has evil intentions, our guys are determined to help the young lovers.  What could go wrong?

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Knutzy Knights has the same basic plot as the Stooges short Squareheads of the Round Table made just six years earlier.  Although slight changes occur in the remake there’s a lot of re-used footage.

This is the last Stooges short to feature new footage with Vernon Dent who regularly appeared with the boys.  Dent was suffering from diabetes and going blind.

Jock Mahony appeared in Squareheads of the Round Table.  When Knutzy Knights was made six years later, Mahony was a much bigger star, regularly appearing in films and starring in his own television series.  Despite his increased star status, Mahony returned to film new scenes for the update. (Mahony would go on to a long career in movies and television.  He played Tarzan in two feature films,  He was also the stepfather of Sally Field.)

Knutzy Knights earns 4 of 5 stars.

“Matri-Phony” (1942) starring The Three Stooges / Z-View

Matri-Phony (1942)

Director:  Harry Edwards, Del Lord (uncredited)

Screenplay: Monte Collins, Elwood Ullman

Stars: Curly Howard, Larry Fine, Moe Howard, Vernon Dent, Bobby Barber, Cy Schindell and Max Wagner

Tagline: Goofiest comedy you ever saw!

The Plot…

When a woman on the run enters the boy’s Ye Olde Pottery shop they learn that Emperor Grabus plans to marry her against her will.  The boys help her hide.  When she is discovered they are taken into custody.  Grabus condemns the boys and moves forward with his marriage plans.  The boys must escape and save the young lass.  What could go wrong?

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Matri-Phony was plagued with problems, most of which were caused by the director, Harry Edwards.  Most Stooges shorts were filmed in 3 to 5 days.  Matri-Phony took three weeks to complete.  Edwards was abusive towards the actors and crew.  Reshoots were needed.  Some shots are out of focus, some scenes lacked coverage for smooth edits.  The Stooges worked with him on one other short and then asked to never have him direct them again.

The highlight is an extended scene with Curly in drag and chased around the room by the nearly blind Emperor Grabus!

Matri-Phony earns 4 of 5 stars.

“We Have a Ghost” starring David Harbour, Jahi Winston & Anthony Mackie – The Poster and Trailer are Here!

We Have a Ghost starring David Harbour, Jahi Winston and Anthony Mackie looks like a lot of fun.  Deal me in.

Finding a ghost named Ernest haunting their new home turns Kevin’s family into overnight social media sensations. But when Kevin and Ernest go rogue to investigate the mystery of Ernest’s past, they become a target of the CIA.

“Restless Knights” (1935) starring The Three Stooges / Z-View

Restless Knights (1935)

Director:  Charles Lamont

Screenplay: Felix Adler

Stars: Curly Howard, Larry Fine, Moe Howard, Stanley Blystone and Walter Brennan

Tagline: None.

The Plot…

The boys learn they’re royalty!  Larry is the Duke of Durham, Moe the Count of Fife  and Curly is Baron of Grey Matter.  They are tasked with protecting the Queen.  Little do they know that a plan is underway to kill her and make our boys the fall guys!

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Restless Knights was the first Stooges short to feature the now famous triple slap!  The castle sets were originally created for Boris Karloff’s The Black Room.

Restless Knights earns 4 of 5 stars.