Category: Humor

“Flagpole Jitters” (1956) starring The Three Stooges / Z-View

Flagpole Jitters (1956)

Director: Jules White

Writer: Felix Adler, Jack White

Stars: Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Shemp Howard, David Bond, Vernon Dent, Richard Alexander, Ned Glass and Frank Sully.

Tagline:  The Three Stooges hit a new high in low-down laughs

The Plot…

The boys are working as janitors to raise money for their invalid neighbor, Mary.  Their goal is to get enough dough that Mary can have an operation to allow her to walk again.  A criminal known as The Great Svengarlic hypnotizes Larry, Shemp and Moe to dance on a flagpole high above the street.  While the crowd watches Svengarlic’s act, his accomplices rob a jewelry store.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Flagpole Jitters (1956) is a reworking of the Stooges’ 1949 short Hokus Pokus.  It makes use of quite a bit of footage from the original.  In the original Mary was faking her disability, in this one she’s not.  Changing this aspect of the short weakens the ending.

Flagpole Jitters is the last Stooges’ short that features new footage of Shemp.  He died less than five months after the filming of this one.

The funniest scene is when Shemp gets physical with the insurance adjuster! (And that came from the original short.)

Hot Stuff (1956) rates 2 of 5 stars.

RIP: Marty Krofft

Marty Krofft died yesterday at the age of 86, the result of kidney failure.

Marty Krofft was born on April 9, 1937 in Montréal, Québec, Canada.  Marty’s older brother, Sid, was a famous puppeteer.  Sid worked in vaudeville, as a featured player in the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and toured with a one-man puppet show.  In the mid-1950s, Marty joined Sid.  They began touring as well as making television appearances with their puppets.  

Marty and Sid became even more famous when they designed characters and sets for the Saturday morning television series H.R. Pufnstuf.  For the remainder of their careers, Marty and Sid would produce series, specials and movies for television.  

Some of the projects produced by Marty and Sid Krofft include: H.R. Pufnstuf (17 episodes); Pufnstuf (feature film); The Bugaloos (17 epsides); Lidsville (17 episodes); The Brady Bunch Meets ABC’s Saturday Superstars; The World of Sid & Marty Krofft at the Hollywood Bowl; The NBC Saturday Morning Review; Sigmund and the Sea Monsters (29 episodes); Far Out Space Nuts (15 episodes); The Lost Saucer (16 episodes); ABC’s Saturday Sneak Peak; Land of the Lost (43 episodes); Electra Woman and Dyna Girl (16 episodes); Dr. Shrinker (16 episodes); Donny & Marie (37 episodes); The Brady Bunch Variety Hour (9 episodes); Wonderbug (22 episodes); Magic Mongo (16 episodes); The Krofft Supershow (32 episodes); The Bay City Rollers Meet the Saturday Superstars; Bobby Vinton’s Rock ‘n Rollers; The Bay City Rollers Show (13 episodes); Bigfoot and Wildboy (20 episodes); Pink Lady (6 episodes); Middle Age Crazy (feature film); Oral Roberts Celebration; Harry Tracy: The Last of the Wild Bunch (feature film); Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters (35 episodes); The CBS Saturday Morning Preview Special; Saturday’s the Place; Pryor’s Place (13 episodes); All Star Rock ‘n’ Wrestling Saturday Spectacular; The Patti LaBelle Show; D.C. Follies (45 episodes); Krofft Late Night; Land of the Lost (9 episodes); Toby Terrier and His Video Pals (8 episodes); Electra Woman and Dyna Girl (2001); Family Affair (2002 – 16 episodes); Electra Woman and Dyna Girl (2016 – 8 episodes); Sigmund and the Sea Monsters (2016 – 7 episodes); Mutt & Stuff (74 episodes); The Bugaloos (2017) and Mondays with Marty (7 episodes).

Marty Krofft’s award nominations and wins include:

  • 1985: Nominee – Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Children’s Series for Pryor’s Place
  • 2003: Winner – Lifetime Achievement Award from Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA
  • 2016: Nominee – Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Pre-School Children’s Series for Mutt & Stuff
  • 2017: Nominee – Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Pre-School Children’s Series for Mutt & Stuff
  • 2018: Winner – Daytime Emmy for Lifetime Achievement
  • 2020 Winner – Star on the Walk of Fame (Television)

I was at the top end of the right age for H.R. Pufnstuf.  I can remember my youngest sister getting my mom to tell me to stop calling her Witcheepoo.  Looking at Marty Krofft’s resume shows an impressive body of work.  Marty and Sid Krofft were called the Kings of Saturday Morning Television, but as you can see they were much more than that. 

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Marty Krofft’s family, friends and fans.

The Death Kiss (1932) starring Bela Lugosi, David Manners, Edward Van Sloan, Adrienne Ames & Vince Barnett / Z-View

The Death Kiss (1932)

Director: Edwin L. Marin

Screenplay by: Gordon Kahn, Barry Barringer based on THE DEATH KISS by Madelon St. Dennis

Starring: Bela Lugosi, David Manners, John Wray, Adrienne Ames, Vince Barnett and Edward Van Sloan.


The Story:

When a movie’s leading man is killed on stage during the filming of a scene, in full view of everyone, the only question is: Who did it?  Evidence seems to point to one person, then another.  Finally it looks like the murder was committed by the leading lady.  Franklyn Drew (Manning) believes she was set up.  Drew begins to follow clues that will lead him to the true killer and maybe get him killed as well.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)

Three stars (Bela Lugosi, David Manners and Edward Van Sloan) of Dracula, made the year before, return to star in The Death Kiss.

The film’s copyright wasn’t renewed, so the film fell into the public domain.  Beware of poor copies!

David Manners as Franklyn Drew is charming.  Vince Barnett as Movie Studio Police Officer Gulliver is a hoot.  They make the perfect duo as together they investigate the murder.  Barnett in a way is Barney Fife to Manners Andy Griffith.  I would have loved to have seen them in a series of murder comedies.

Although Bela Lugosi gets top billing, it is actually David Manners who gets the most screen time.  He’s never been better.

The gunfight at the end of the movie is hand-tinted.  This produces a cool effect for gunshots and flashlights.

“That’s the Spirit” (1933) starring Noble Sissle, Cora La Redd, F.E. Miller & Mantan Moreland / Z-View

That’s the Spirit (1933)

Director: Roy Mack

Screenplay by:  Unknown

Starring: Noble Sissle, Mantan Moreland, F. E. Miller, Buster Bailey, Cora La Redd

Tagline:  None.

The Story:

F.E. Miller and Mantan Moreland play two night watchmen assigned to a pawn shop rumored to be haunted.  The rumors are true. As Miller and Moreland look on, small figures come alive and perform.  Ghosts make appearances.  Miller and Moreland are supposed to protect the pawn shop… but who will protect them?

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)

That’s the Spirit is a short featuring an all black cast.  It is thought to be Mantan Moreland’s first film appearance. That alone makes it worth a watch.  That’s the Spirit  also features some of the finest musical / dance performers of the day, No wonder one fan said it was “one of the greatest all-black jazz shorts ever made.”

“Around the World” (1943) starring Kay Kyser, Mischa Auer & Joan Davis / Z-View

Around the World (1943)

Director:  Allan Dwan

Screenplay by:  Ralph Spence

Starring: Kay Kyser, Mischa Auer, Joan Davis, Wally Brown, Alan Carney, M.A. Bogue,  Georgia Carroll, Chester Conklin, Barbara Hale and Marcy McGuire.

Tagline: The musical that’s going places – and momma does she move!

The Story:

World War II is underway.  Kay Kyser takes his band on a tour of military bases around the world to entertain our troops with song, comedy and pretty girls.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)

Kay Kyser and his band were popular on radio, feature films and television.  Kyser combined real musical talent with comedy and wasn’t afraid to let members of his troupe shine.  Around the World is filled with songs interspersed with one liners, sight gags, double talk and musical silliness.  Oh, and there’s a story that runs through the different stops.  It has a surprisingly sad, yet inspirational ending.

“Top Secret!” (1984) directed by Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker, starring Val Kilmer / Z-View

Top Secret! (1984)

Director:  Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker

Screenplay by:  Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker, Martyn Burke

Starring: Val Kilmer, Lucy Gutteridge, Omar Sharif, Jeremy Kemp, Warren Clarke, Ian McNeice,  Michael Gough and Peter Cushing.

Tagline: Shhh!

The Story:

While on tour in East Germany (a very Nazi-like place), rock-and-roll superstar, Nick Rivers (Kilmer) falls in love and is drawn into international intrigue.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)

I put off seeing Top Secret! for years decades because of less than stellar reviews.  Recently I saw a clip of Val Kilmer, Lucy Gutteridge and Peter Cushing in the Swedish bookstore scene.  The scene was staged so that it could run backwards in the movie.  The end result is English dialogue playing backwards for Swedish and the actors pulling off very interesting effects. Check out the scene and see what I mean.  I thought that was extremely clever, so I decided to give the movie a chance.

There are sight-gags galore.  I was surprised/amused by the abuse that Omar Sharif took.  The cow-disguise and the underwater fight scenes were worth the price of admission.  If I was to pick any nits, I’d say take out a song or two and add more silliness.  Still, if you’re a fan of Airplane-type humor, then you’d probably enjoy Top Secret!.

“Fargo: Installment 5” – The Teaser – “You’re In Trouble” is Here!

Deal me in!

“This is all just a misunderstanding.” Installment 5 of FX’s Fargo premieres 11.21 on FX. Stream on Hulu.

The latest installment of Fargo is set in Minnesota and North Dakota, 2019. After an unexpected series of events lands “Dorothy ‘Dot’ Lyon” (Juno Temple) in hot water with the authorities, this seemingly typical Midwestern housewife is suddenly plunged back into a life she thought she had left behind.

“Old Dads” (2023) directed by Bill Burr, starring Bill Burr, Bobby Cannavale & Bokeem Woodbine / Z-View

Old Dads (2023)

Director: Bill Burr

Screenplay by: Bill Burr, Ben Tishler

Starring: Bill Burr, Bobby Cannavale, Bokeem Woodbine, Miles Robbins, Rachael Harris, C. Thomas Howell and Bruce Dern.

Tagline: Times have changed. They didn’t get the fax.

The Story: 

Jack (Burr), Connor (Cannavale) and Mike (Woodbine) are long time friends and business partners.  They are each also dealing with the joys of being an “old dad”.  They’re out of step and struggling with new ways of thinking.  Growing old ain’t for sissies.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)

I liked Old Dads better than I thought I would.  Hats off to Bill Burr who co-wrote, directed and starred.  Bobby Cannavale and Bokeem Woodbine are excellent as Burr’s friends.  C. Thomas Howell and Bruce Dern appear in small but important roles.

I enjoyed Old Dads and think it could easily be adapted into a tv series.  There’s a lot of potential about three old dads who are out of touch with modern society.

“Fargo” Installment 5 starring Juno Temple, Jon Hamm & Jennifer Jason Leigh – The Trailer is Here!

I’m a fan of Fargo.  Deal me in.

Starring Juno Temple, Jon Hamm and Jennifer Jason Leigh. FX’s Fargo returns 11.21 on FX. Stream on Hulu. #FargoFX

The latest installment of Fargo is set in Minnesota and North Dakota, 2019. After an unexpected series of events lands “Dorothy ‘Dot’ Lyon” (Juno Temple) in hot water with the authorities, this seemingly typical Midwestern housewife is suddenly plunged back into a life she thought she had left behind.

“They Cloned Tyrone” (2023) starring John Boyega, Jamie Foxx & Teyonah Parris / Z-View

They Cloned Tyrone (2023)

Director: Juel Taylor

Screenwriter: Tony Rettenmaier, Juel Taylor

Cast: John Boyega, Jamie Foxx, Teyonah Parris, Kiefer Sutherland and David Alan Grier.

Tagline: Damn…

The Plot…

Fontaine (Boyega) is a small time drug dealer.  When he goes to collect money from a pimp known as Slick Charles (Foxx), Fontaine is ambushed.  He’s shot several times and left for dead. Slick Charles and one of his girls, Yo-Yo are shocked to witness the murder.

They are even more amazed the next day.  Fontaine comes back to collect the debt.  He has no recollection of being shot.  He has no wounds.  As Slick Charles and Yo-Yo discuss what they saw, some memories come back to Fontaine.  The three end up following clues that lead them to discover a widespread government conspiracy.

Fontaine, Slick Charles and Yo-Yo have to figure out a way to quickly expose the powerful cabal behind the conspiracy, If they can’t, well… we all know what happens to people who discover the truth behind big time deceptions.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)

This is the second film I’ve seen with John Boyega. He was excellent in The Woman King and is even better here.  Jamie Foxx is always good.  I loved seeing Keifer Sutherland and David Allan Grier pop up in supporting roles.

My simple description of They Cloned Tyrone is cross Three the Hard Way with Invasion of the Body Snatchers minus the aliens. Add a touch of humor.

I liked They Cloned Tyrone but think it could have gotten to the conspiracy a bit faster.  I also wish that they had leaned into the humor a bit more.

A lot of the film reminded me of a 70s blaxploitation movie.  I thought that maybe the film should have been set in that time period.  Another thought then occurred, perhaps the folks behind the film wanted us to see the situation as though it takes place now because the issues are still relevant.

They Cloned Tyrone (2023) rates 3 of 5 stars.

“The Mystery of the 13th Guest” (1943) / Z-View

The Mystery of the 13th Guest (1943)

Director: William Beaudine

Screenwriter: Tim Ryan, Charles R. Marion, Arthur Hoerl based on THE 13TH GUEST by Armitage Trail

Cast: Helen Parrish, Dick Purcell, Bill Pullman, Dean Norris, Mik Scriba, J.T. Walsh, Herb Mitchell and Bill Nunn.

Tagline: IT’S MURDER! An Unseen terror holds an entire family in fear!

The Plot…

When Marie Morgan was eight years old she attended a gathering called by her dying grandfather.  In attendance were Marie’s aunts, uncles, cousins and her grandfather’s lawyer.  Grandfather tells everyone that Marie is to return on her 21st birthday by herself to read his will.  It’s clear that Grandpa doesn’t much care for any of them except Marie.

Thirteen years have passed.  Marie returns to the old house.  It hasn’t been lived in for over a decade.  As Marie thinks back she remembers that there was an empty seat next to her grandpa.  Twelve people were in attendance.  She wonders who the empty seat was for.  Marie opens the sealed will.  As she does someone enters the house and a gunshot is fired.

When the police arrive they find Marie dead… but not from a gunshot.  But wait, that’s not really Marie.  And now another person who was at the original meeting is found in his seat murdered!

How many will die before the Mystery of the 13th Guest is discovered?

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)

The Mystery of the 13th Guest is a low budget quickie typical of many “B” pictures of the era.  It’s directed by William “One Shot” Beaudine who knocked out over 400 films during his career.  They didn’t call him “one shot” for nothing.  If you’ve seen a Bowery Boys flick, odds are you’ve seen his work.

If you know what you’re getting going in, and you have an hour to kill, you won’t be disappointed.

The Mystery of the 13th Guest (1943) rates 2 of 5 stars.

“American Dream” Written & Directed by Cord Jefferson, Starring Jeffrey Wright – The Trailer is Here!

The American Dream trailer has me sold.  I’m a fan of Jeffrey Wright and Sterling K. Brown.  Deal me in.

Watch the official trailer for #AmericanFiction, starring Jeffrey Wright, Tracee Ellis Ross, Issa Rae, and Sterling K. Brown. From Writer/Director Cord Jefferson. Only in theaters this December.

AMERICAN FICTION is Cord Jefferson’s hilarious directorial debut, which confronts our culture’s obsession with reducing people to outrageous stereotypes. Jeffrey Wright stars as Monk, a frustrated novelist who’s fed up with the establishment profiting from “Black” entertainment that relies on tired and offensive tropes. To prove his point, Monk uses a pen name to write an outlandish “Black” book of his own, a book that propels him to the heart of hypocrisy and the madness he claims to disdain.

RIP: Suzanne Somers

Suzanne Somers, born Suzanne Mahoney, died today the result of cancer.  Ms. Somers was 76. Suzanne Somers was a model, actress, singer, author and business woman.

When Suzanne Mahoney was 19, she married Bruce Somers.  They had one child and the couple divorced three years later. Suzanne Somers’ career began with her getting modeling gigs and small, often uncredited parts in television shows and movies.  Her big break came when she landed the role of Chrissy Snow on Three’s Company.  The show was an instant hit and made Suzanne Somers a household name.  Ms. Somers stayed with the series through four seasons.

For the rest of her career Suzanne Somers would act in movies and television.  She became a commercial spokesperson for the exercise product Thighmaster.  Suzanne Somers also authored two autobiographies, a book of poetry as well as four diet books.  In 2001, Ms. Somers was diagnosed with breast cancer.  She elected to have a lumpectomy and radiation.  She declined chemotherapy and instead used alternative cancer treatments.  Although criticized by the American Cancer Society and many doctors, Suzanne Somers became a proponent of alternative treatments to chemotherapy.

Some of Suzanne Somer’s television appearances include: The Rockford Files; Sky Heist; One Day at a Time; The Love Boat; Starsky & Hutch (3 episodes); The Six Million Dollar Man; Zuma Beach; Three’s Company (100 episodes); The Ropers; Hollywood Wives (3 episodes); She’s the Sheriff (44 episodes); Sisters; The Larry Sanders Show; The Simpsons and Step-By-Step (160 episodes).

Some of Suzanne Somer’s feature film appearances include: Bullit; Daddy’s Gone A-Hunting; American Graffiti; Magnum Force; Billy Jack Goes to Washington; Nothing Personal and The Nutty Professor.

I first remember seeing Suzanne Somers in a magazine ad.  She was a hot babe on a beach.  Of course I remember her best from Three’s Company.  Although I didn’t regularly watch the show, her fame brought her magazine covers, feature stories and appearances on other shows.  For a while Suzanne Somers was everywhere!  It’s funny because I probably saw her on The Rockford Files, Starsky & Hutch or The Six Million Dollar Man before Three’s Company ever hit the air waves.  But it’s Chrissy Snow that first comes to mind when I think of Suzanne Somers.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Suzanne Somers family, friends and fans.

“Hard Boiled Mahoney” (1947) starring Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall, Dan Seymour & the Bowery Boys / Z-View

Hard Boiled Mahoney (1947)

Director: William Beaudine

Screenplay: Cy Endfield, Edmond Seward, Tim Ryan

Stars: Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall, Gabriel Dell, William ‘Billy’ Benedict, David Gorcey, Dan Seymour, Pierre Watkin, Bernard Gorcey, Patti Brill and Noble Johnson.


The Plot…

A woman mistakenly thinks that Slip (L. Gorcey) and Satch (Hall) are detectives.  She hires them to find her sister.  The clues lead to Dr. Rolfe Carter (Watkin).  Slip and Satch arrive at Dr. Carter’s office just as he’s being murdered.  Slip is knocked unconscious.  He awakens to find that he’s been set up to take the fall.

Slip escapes.  Now Slip, Satch and the rest of the Bowery Boys need to find the real killer.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)

This is one of the Bowery Boys better outings.

Dan Seymour is a welcome addition to the cast.  He plays the main bad guy.  You may know Seymour from his appearances in To Have and Have Not, Key Largo, The Big Heat, or another of his over 100 acting credits.

Patti Brill is in only a few scenes as Slip’s girl, but she makes an impact.

Heads up: There is a scene where two of the Bowery Boys are disguised as a shoe shiner and customer.  The shoe shiner is in blackface.

Hard Boiled Mahoney (1947) rates 3 of 5 stars.