“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.

“Dangerous Money” (1946) starring Sidney Toler / Z-View

Dangerous Money (1946)

Director: Terry O. Morse

Screenplay: Miriam Kissinger, based on characters created by Earl Derr Biggers

Stars: Sidney Toler, Victor Sen Yung, John Harmon, Dick Elliott, Tristram Coffin, Selmer Jackson and Dudley Dickerson

Tagline: THE RIDDLE OF THE “KNIVES OF DEATH!”

The Plot…

While traveling on an ocean liner Charlie Chan is approached by a Scott Pearson, a Treasury Agent.  Pearson is on a case involving counterfeit money and stolen art.  There have been two attempts on his life when Chan saves Pearson from a third!  When Pearson is later murdered, Chan is determined to find the killer.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Mantan Mooreland doesn’t appear in Dangerous Money.  Charlie Chan’s valet is now Chattanooga Brown (perhaps Birmingham’s nephew?), played by Willie Best. Chattanooga and Charlie Chan’s son make an interesting team, but I missed Mooreland.

Dangerous Money, like all Charlie Chan films, is a low-budget affair that runs just over an hour.  It gives us several likely suspects for the killer, with most folks getting it wrong.  Not Charlie Chan though.  That dude is like Columbo before there was a Columbo.

Dangerous Money 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.

SPILLANE: KING OF PULP FICTION by Max Allan Collins and James L. Traylor

SPILLANE: KING OF PULP FICTION by Max Allan Collins and James L. Traylor is coming!

The first-ever biography of the most popular and most influential pulp writer of all time, written by the collaborator who knew him best

There has never been a full-length biography of Mickey Spillane, the most popular and influential mystery writer of his era―until now.

Beginning in 1947 with I, the Jury, and continuing with his next six novels, Spillane quickly amassed a readership in the tens of millions, becoming the bestselling novelist in the history of American publishing. Surrounded by controversy for the overt violence and suggestive sexual content of his iconic Mike Hammer private eye novels, Spillane was loathed by critics but beloved by his readers.

There is, however, more to Spillane’s life than the books. He also starred as Hammer in a movie, was a circus performer, worked with the FBI in capturing a notorious criminal, and starred in Miller Light beer commercials that were so popular they ran for a quarter of a century.

Max Allan Collins became Spillane’s friend and collaborator, continuing the Mike Hammer series for years after the author’s death, building upon unfinished manuscripts the writer left behind. Now, with co-author James Traylor, Collins has produced the first comprehensive and authoritative profile of the Mystery Writers of America Grand Master. It is a must-read for any fan of the author―or of the generations of crime writers that were influenced by his work.

SPILLANE: KING OF PULP FICTION  Hardcover

SPILLANE: KING OF PULP FICTION  Kindle

Challenger Shuttle Disaster Facts That You May Not Know

On this day in 1986, at 11:38am EST, the space shuttle Challenger lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida. On board were F. Richard Scobee (Mission Commander), Michael J. Smith (Pilot), Mission Specialists Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Judith Resnik, Payload Specialist Gregory Jarvis and Payload Specialist/Teacher Christa McAuliffe. Seventy-three seconds into the flight, the shuttle broke apart in a cloud of fire. There were no survivors.

I was a middle school science teacher in Holly Hill, Florida on that day.  I’d just walked my students to lunch.  Since the shuttle was going up, I walked outside. We could see shuttle launches once they reached altitude.  It was cold so there were only a few of us watching.  We saw the shuttle vapor trail and it looked like a normal launch until it didn’t.  We all commented that this launch was different.  We’d never seen a vapor trail split like that before.

I went to the teacher’s lunch room.  As I was sitting down we received word that the shuttle had exploded.  We ate in silence.  I picked up my students and we went back to class.  Students had so many questions.  At that point we had no answers.  One of my students, a class clown, said he wished there had been more teachers on board.  The class shut him down quicker than I could.

Today History.com posted 5 Things You May Not Know About the Challenger Shuttle Disaster.  Before you click over for the full story, here are my thoughts on each.

1. The Challenger didn’t actually explode. (Although news media and even NASA at first referred to the disaster as the result of an explosion, it wasn’t.  There was a leak from the fuel tank and a fireball but not an explosion.  Many still think the Challenger exploded. – Craig)

2. The astronauts aboard the shuttle didn’t die instantly. (This was the topic of much speculation.  It’s rumored there are tapes which have never been released of the astronauts aware there was a major problem.  I hope that they lost consciousness and the end came quickly for them. – Craig)

3. Relatively few people actually saw the Challenger disaster unfold on live television. (Living in Florida, shuttle launches have always generated a lot of interest.  Since we’re close enough to see launches once they reach altitude most folks will go outside to watch.  On that January day, because it was so cold, there were only 3 or 4 of us watching. – Craig)

4. In the aftermath of the tragedy, some suggested that the White House pushed NASA to launch the shuttle in time for President Ronald Reagan’s State of the Union address, scheduled for later on January 28. (There was pressure, but it wasn’t from the White House.  Ronald Reagan was applauded for his words about the astronauts. – Craig)

5. More than a decade after the Challenger disaster, two large pieces from the spacecraft washed ashore at a local beach. 

“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.

“Rabbit Hole” starring Kiefer Sutherland – The Poster and Teaser are Here!

What do you think of the poster and teaser for Rabbit Hole starring Kiefer Sutherland?  I like the teaser better than the poster.  It will definitely be worth a look.

The enemy is everywhere.

Kiefer Sutherland stars as John Weir in the new series Rabbit Hole, where nothing is what it seems. A master of deception in the world of corporate espionage, Weir must use all the resources at his disposal when he’s framed for murder by powerful forces with the ability to influence and control populations.

Rabbit Hole also stars Charles Dance, Meta Golding, Enid Graham, Jason Butler Harner, Walt Klink, and Rob Yang.

Stream the series premiere of Rabbit Hole on Sunday, Mar. 26, exclusively on Paramount+.

CAVE 13: A JOE LEDGER & ROGUE TEAM INTERNATIONAL by Jonathan Maberry is Coming!

Jonathan Maberry’s Joe Ledger and Rogue Team International will be back in a new adventure titled CAVE 13.  Here’s the synopsis…

After years of searching, a new cave filled with Dead Sea Scrolls is found, and among them are bizarre books of actual magic. Terrorist groups and multinational corporations scramble to acquire these treasures in the hopes that magic is the true WMD of the 21st Century. But everyone who goes near those scrolls goes insane. The fabric of reality is shredding. Is this the result of ancient magic, or is it a new bioweapon that fractures the mind of anyone exposed?

Joe Ledger and Rogue Team International plunge into mortal peril as this new and deadly arms race threatens to ignite new wars throughout the Middle East.

Cave 13 pits Joe Ledger against warring factions of ideological terrorism, corporate greed, and massive international crime syndicates in what might well become a new Age of Miracles.

Jonathan Maberry like Joe Ledger never disappoints.  Pre-orders for CAVE 13 are available now for the August 29, 2023 release.

Cave 13 Paperback

Cave 13 Kindle