Category: Z-View

Phony Express (1943) starring The Three Stooges / Z-View

Phony Express (1943)

Director:  Del Lord

Writer:  Elwood Ullman, Monte Collins

Stars: Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Curly Howard, Shirley Patterson, Bud Jamison, Chester Conklin and ‘Snub’ Pollard.

Tagline:  None.

The Plot…

Our boys skip town, wanted for vagrancy.  They end up in Peaceful Gulch, which is anything but.  With no money, the see a help wanted sign at a saloon.  Our guys head in and say they’re there to clean up the place.  Red Morgan and his gang overhear this and think that Larry, Curly and Moe are lawmen who’ve come to take them to jail.  What could go wrong?

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

This plot was popular enough to be used, along with some of the footage in The Stooges’ 1951 short Merry Mavericks.

Curly makes the most of a scene with Larry as he mixes up a snake oil potion that will cure anything!

Phony Express (1943) rates 4 of 5 stars.

“1923”: Season 1 (2022 – 2023) created by Taylor Sheridan, starring Helen Mirren & Harrison Ford / Z-View

1923: Season 1 (2022 – 2023)

Written by: Taylor Sheridan

Directed by: Ben Richardson (ep. 1 – 4; 7 & 8); Guy Ferland (ep. 5 & 6)

Stars: Helen Mirren, Harrison Ford, Brandon Sklenar, Julia Schlaepfer, Jerome Flynn, Darren Mann, Isabel May, Brian Geraghty, Aminah Nieves, Michelle Randolph, Caleb Martin, Robert Patrick, Marley Shelton, Brian Konowal, Timothy Dalton, Michael Greyeyes, Sebastian Roché, Dakota Ogden, Brian Brown, James Badge Dale, Jamie McShane, Joseph Mawle, Bruce Davison and Michael Spears 

Tagline: None.

The Plot…

Forty years have passed since the events in 1883.  Jacob (Ford) and Cara Dutton (Mirren) raised their nephews John and Spencer Dutton to adulthood.  Along the way they built one of the largest cattle ranches in Montana.

1923 follows three main storylines:

  • John, Cara as well as family and friends work the Dutton ranch.  John Dutton is trying to hold the ranch together.  Cattle prices are down. It is going to be a hard winter.  The bank won’t loan enough money to buy hay to feed the heard.  Then sheepherders begin encroaching the Dutton Land.  Behind the scenes rich landowner Donald Whitfield (Dalton) has plans to steal the Dutton spread.  When the Duttons go to war with the sheepherders, people on both sides are killed.  Things are escalating.   Cara writes Spencer and says he is needed at home.
  • Spencer Dutton (Sklenar) fought in World War I and then traveled the world as a big game hunter.  While in Africa he meets Alexandra.  She’s British and engaged to be married to a man she doesn’t love.  When Spencer leaves for his next assignment, Alexandra leaves with him.  They will have several adventures and another run-in with Alexandra’s ex before they receive the letter to come back to the ranch.
  • Teonna Rainwater (Nieves) is a young Native American suffering abuse at an Indian Boarding School run by the Catholic church. Teonna is headstrong and has several confrontations with the sister and priest running the school.  Things continue to go downhill with Teonna being beaten and abused until she can take it no more.  She kills two of the abusive sisters and goes on the run.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Each storyline is compelling and features interesting characters that you love or hate.  It’s so well written, acted and directed that when the storyline shifts from one to the next, you don’t mind.  It will be interesting to see how everything comes together.  Taylor Sheridan has another winner.

1923 is perfectly cast from the starring roles to the smallest guest appearances.  The direction, editing and music jell to create one of the best shows on television.  Bring on season 2.

1923: Season 1 (2023) earns 5 of 5 stars.

“In the Sweet Pie and Pie” (1941) starring The Three Stooges / Z-View

In the Sweet Pie and Pie (1941)

Director:  Jules White

Writer:  Clyde Bruckman from a story by Ewart Adamson

Stars: Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Curly Howard, Symona Boniface, Richard Fiske, Lynton Brent and Vernon Dent.

Tagline:  None.

The Plot…

Three women need to be married and fast.  If they’re wed, they’ll inherit a fortune.  If not, not.  They don’t want to wed, but they want the wealth.  Their lawyer comes up a genius idea.  Three idiots on death row are about to be executed.  If the girls marry these bozos, they will be widows a few days after.  Wealthy widows.  As fate would have it, it’s our guys who are about to be put to death!

Moe, Larry and Curly agree to the wedding.  Later, as our boys are about to be hanged, the real murderers confess.  Our boys are given a pardon and released.  Larry, Curly and Moe show up at their new wives’ mansion ready to live the good life.  What could go wrong?

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Richard Fisk appeared in 19 Stooges shorts.  In the Sweet Pie and Pie was his last appearance.  He had achieved the rank of 1st Lieutenant (9th Infantry, 2nd Division) when he was killed in action during World War II.

The footage of the Stooges being taught to dance by a woman who has a bee fly down her dress first appeared in Hoi Polloi.  It’s just as funny the second time around.

In the Sweet Pie and Pie (1941) rates 4 of 5 stars.

“Let’s Go Collegiate” (1941) starring Frankie Darro & Mantan Moreland / Z-View

Let’s Go Collegiate (1941)

Director:  Jean Yarbrough

Writer:  Edmond Kelso

Stars: Frankie Darro, Marcia Mae Jones, Jackie Moran, Keye Luke, Mantan Moreland, Frank Sully, Gale Storm, Barton Yarborough, Frank Faylen and Tristram Coffin 

Tagline: Hollywood’s young stars put a new kind of zig in the old kind of zag…in the freshest college story ever filmed…A riot!

The Plot…

Frankie (Darro) and Tad (Moran) are on the rowing team for Rawley University.  When the boys learn that top rowing recruit, Bob Terry has been drafted, they don’t have the heart to tell their girls who have planned a big welcoming party.  Then the boys meet Hercules ‘Herk’ Bevans (Sully).  Frankie and Tad decide to pass Herk off as Bob Terry.

Soon Herk is on the rowing team and trying to steal Frankie and Tad’s girls.  And what neither Frankie or Tad know is that Herk is a wanted criminal!

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

I wanted to see Let’s Go Collegiate because of Mantan Moreland.  Sadly, he’s given little to do.  But of course it’s Mantan, so he makes the most of it.

Let’s Go Collegiate is a low-budget feature that gives little thought to logic.  Frankie and Tad know the top rowing recruit has been drafted into the army, but no one else does?  Herk is brought on the team and entered into the college and there are no issues with proper identification?  Later in the film, a cop is knocked out so that Herk can row in a race.  The cop wakes up and isn’t upset since Herk’s team won.  These are just a few things that viewers have to “go with”.

If it wasn’t for Mantan, I’d have passed on this one.

Let’s Go Collegiate (1941) rates 2 of 5 stars.

“Income Tax Sappy (1954)” starring The Three Stooges / Z-View

Income Tax Sappy (1954)

Director:  Jules White

Writer: Felix Adler

Stars: Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Shemp Howard, Vernon Dent and Benny Rubin.

Tagline:  None.

The Plot…

Our boys fake some deductions on their taxes and get away with it.  Thinking this is an easy way to make money, they bill themselves as “tax experts” and begin cheating on other people’s taxes.  It makes them rich!  What could go wrong?

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Income Tax Sappy is notable for a couple of reasons:

1) It is one of two Stooges shorts in 1954 that features all new footage. Although it did recycle the gag where something in the soup fights with the person about to it it.

2) Shemp’s hair isn’t greasy and slicked back.  This is because Shemp had started dying his hair and the grease wouldn’t work well with the hair dye!

Income Tax Sappy (1954) rates 2 of 5 stars.

“Hokus Pokus” (1949) starring The Three Stooges / Z-View

Hokus Pokus (1949)

Director:  Jules White

Writer: Felix Adler

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

Tagline:  None.

The Plot…

Our guys have been taking care of Mary.  She lives upstairs and has been left unable to walk by an accident.  She’s waiting on an insurance settlement so she can leave the area since she’s scamming the insurance company and our boys.  While at work our guys get hooked up with a hypnotist named Svengarlic (His act will take your breath away!) who plans to use Larry, Moe and Shemp in a publicity.  What could go wrong?

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

The funniest scene is when Shemp gets physical with the insurance adjuster!

Hokus Pokus (1949) rates 3 of 5 stars.

“Booty and the Beast” (1953) starring The Three Stooges / Z-View

Booty and the Beast (1953)

Director:  Jules White

Writer: Jack White,  Felix Adler

Stars: Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Shemp Howard, Kenneth MacDonald, Heinie Conklin, Vernon Dent, Dudley Dickerson, Sam Lufkin, Blackie Whiteford and Curly Howard.

Tagline:  Bellows! Boffos! And Belly-Laffs!

The Plot…

Our guys are suckered in to helping a crook break into a house and steal money from a safe.  When the crook makes a getaway, our boys follow him on to a train.  They plan to get the money back.  What could go wrong?

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

The first half of this short is new with the second part on the train using footage from 1947’s Stooges short, Hold That Lion.  While the recycled footage isn’t great news, the fact that Curly’s cameo is in it is.

Booty and the Beast (1953) rates 3 of 5 stars.

“Risen” (2021) / Z-View

Risen (2021)

Director:  Eddie Arya

Writer: Eddie Arya

Stars: Nicole Schalmo

Tagline:  “We’re at the edge of a mass extinction”

The Plot…

When a meteor strikes near a small town, toxic gas is released and people begin dropping dead.  A containment perimeter is set up.  The government calls in Lauren Stone, an astrobiologist to assist with the study of the meteor impact zone.  When some of the dead bodies reanimate it becomes clear we have a problem.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Risen starts off well enough.  A meteor impacts near a remote house, almost destroying it.  We are left to wonder if the family inside survives.  The movie then jumps about 20 years into the future.  One of the children who survived the meteor blast is now an astrobiologist.  She struggles with terrible memories of the meteor strike.

Then it happens again.  Another meteor strikes near a remote town.  The astrobiologist is called in to assist.  This isn’t a bad set-up.  The problem is Risen moves so slowly.  I kept thinking it would get better after the dead re-animated.  I was wrong.  I finally tapped out at 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Risen (2021) rates 1 of 5 stars.

“The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot” (2018) starring Sam Elliott / Z-View

The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot (2018)

Director:  Robert D. Krzykowski

Writer: Robert D. Krzykowski

Stars: Sam Elliott, Rocco Gioffre, Aidan Turner and Larry Miller

Tagline: An American myth

The Plot…

The year is 1987.  Calvin Barr (Elliott), an old man who lives alone with his dog, spends a his days (and nights) thinking about the past.  The woman he loved and lost.  The war.  How one impacted the other.  During World War II Barr was recruited for a secret special ops mission.  He was sent behind enemy lines to kill Adolph Hitler.  Although the mission was a success, the truth was never revealed.  Now Barr is a bitter man haunted by the past.

One evening two government agents, one from Canada and the other from the US, come to Barr’s home.  A strange virus in Canada is killing people and animals.  The source of the virus is, believe it or not, Bigfoot.  Unless the virus can be eradicated the Earth’s entire population will be wiped out.  Barr is one of the few people who is immune to the virus.  That and he’s a seasoned tracker/killer make him perfect for the mission.  To kill Bigfoot.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

You might think that a movie about killing Hitler and Bigfoot would be an action fest.  It is more of a slow burn character study.  The good news is Sam Elliott is playing the character.

The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot (2018) rates 3 of 5 stars.

“Crime on Their Hands” (1948) starring The Three Stooges / Z-View

Crime on Their Hands (1948)

Director:  Edward Bernds

Writer:  Elwood Ullman

Stars: Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Shemp Howard, Kenneth MacDonald, Christine McIntyre, Heinie Conklin, Ray Corrigan, Cy Schindell and Blackie Whiteford

Tagline: The Stooges’ funniest monkey business!

The Plot…

Our guys are janitors at a newspaper.  They dream of being hotshot reporters.  When they get a tip the whereabouts of the stolen and priceless Punjab diamond, they decide to follow-up.  The lead takes them to a hotspot for tough-guy criminals and a pet gorilla.  What could go wrong?

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

The Stooges trying to play it like they are tough guys is funny!

Any time you put a gorilla in a Stooges short, you have a winner.

When a woman says, “Any halfwit can see I’m telling the truth.”  Shemp responds, “Yeah, I can see you’re tellin’ the truth.”

Crime on Their Hands (1948) rates 4 of 5 stars.

“The Night Agent”: Season 1 (2023) starring Gabriel Basso & Luciane Buchanan / Z-View

The Night Agent: Season 1 (2023)

Teleplay by: Shawn Ryan (ep. 1 & 2); Munis Rashid & Shawn Ryan (ep. 3); Seth Fisher (ep. 4 & 10); Corey Deshon (ep. 5); Imogen Browder (ep. 6); Tiffany Shaw Ho (ep. 7); Rachel Wolf (ep. 8); Munis Rashid (ep. 9)

Directed by: Seth Gordon (ep. 1 & 2); Guy Ferland (ep. 3 & 5); Ramaa Mosley (ep. 4 & 6); Adam Arkin (ep. 7 & 8); Millicent Shelton (ep. 9 & 10)

Stars: Gabriel Basso, Luciane Buchanan, Fola Evans-Akingbola, Sarah Desjardins, Eve Harlow, Phoenix Raei, Enrique Murciano, D.B. Woodside, Hong Chau, Christopher Shyer, Kari Matchett, Jessie Liang, Andres Collantes, Philip Prajoux, Greyston Holt, Robert Patrick, Tim Kelleher and Paolina van Kleef

Tagline:  Heroes Aren’t Born. They Answer the Call.

The Plot…

After FBI Agent Peter Sutherland (Basso) thwarts a terrorist bombing, he is offered a low-level position in the White House.  Sutherland is given the 8pm – 4am shift manning a phone that never rings.  The phone is a last-ditch safety line for agents in trouble.  The job is tedious and boring.  The phone never rings.

Until one night it does.

Rose Larkin (Buchanan) is a civilian who says she was given the number by her Aunt and Uncle after someone broke into their house.  She escaped to a neighbor’s place, but someone is coming after her.  She thinks her Aunt and Uncle may have been murdered.

With that call Peter Sutherland finds himself in the middle of a conspiracy.  Nothing is what it seems.  Someone in the White House could be planning the murder of the President.  In way over his head, Sutherland doesn’t know who to trust as the conspiracy grows and his superiors begin to distrust him.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

I loved The Night Agent.  It’s fast moving, full of action, plays with the troupes of the genre, has twists, likeable leads, and unlikable (but interesting) villains.

Gabriel Basso and Luciane Buchanan are the leads.  They have chemistry but don’t (as you might expect) immediately fall for each other.  I liked that Buchanan wasn’t just a damsel in distress.  Both Basso and Buchanan get many opportunities to display their prowess with action scenes.

The Night Agent is well cast.  Supporting the leads are Robert Patrick, Fola Evans-Akingbola, Sarah Desjardins, Eve Harlow, Phoenix Raei and D.B. Woodside.  They’re all perfect for their roles. There are two additional actresses stole that deserve special mention.  Eve Harlow and Hong Chau owned every scene that they were in.

Part of the fun of The Night Agent is trying to figure out who is behind the conspiracy and why. If you’re a fan of 24, Reacher, Jack Ryan and the like, then this one is for you.

The Night Agent: Season 1 (2023) earns 5 of 5 stars.

“Baby Sitters Jitters” (1951) starring The Three Stooges / Z-View

Baby Sitters Jitters (1951)

Director:  Jules White

Writer:  Felix Adler

Stars: Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Shemp Howard

Tagline: Howl at the Stooges as Baby-Sitters!

The Plot…

When the Stooges get behind in their rent they agree to become babysitters.  What could go wrong?

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Baby Sitters Jitters is one of the weakest of the Stooges outings.  It’s not terrible, just not one of their best.

Baby Sitters Jitters (1951) rates 2 of 5 stars.

“Prospect” (2018) starring Sophie Thatcher & Pedro Pascal / Z-View

Prospect (2018)

Director:  Zeek Earl, Chris Caldwell

Writer: Zeek Earl, Chris Caldwell

Stars: Sophie Thatcher, Jay Duplass, Pedro Pascal and Anwan Glover

Tagline: No One Survives Alone

The Plot…

Damon (Duplass) and his teenage daughter, Cree (Thatcher) are prospectors who’ve just landed on a remote planet full of danger. The atmosphere is toxic.  There are rival prospectors who will kill them for their goods.  They are on a strict timeline to return to the transport ship that will get them home.  To make matters worse, their pod was damaged during the landing.

On the way to their dig, Damon and Cree find an abandoned mine. Damon works an area and comes up with a fleshy substance.  He carefully dissects it to reveal a valuable gem worth more than enough to get Damon and Cree home.  Cree begs her father for them to take the gem and leave.  She’s worried that they will be delayed and miss the transport.  Damon refuses. They will continue to the main dig aka the “Queen’s Lair”.  He believes that it contains unimaginable riches.

As they head out, Damon takes the lead with Cree trailing behind.  Suddenly Damon is stopped by two men holding weapons.  They plan to rob him.  Cree is out of sight as her father suggests that the men join him in mining the Queen’s Lair.  One of the prospectors, Ezra (Pascal) agrees.  The other remains silent.  Damon sees Cree with her weapon drawn.  When she comes into full view, Damon grabs Ezra’s weapon.

With the tables turned, Damon decides to rob the two men.  Suddenly the silent one shoots Damon who in turn returns fire killing the man.  As her father lies dying, Ezra shoots and kills him.  Cree turns and runs back to the pod .  Unable to get the it ready to launch, Cree finds herself trapped inside when Ezra shows up.  He suggests that they work together to escape from the hostile planet  and other mercenaries who would kill them on sight.

With no option but to trust her father’s killer, she allows him into the pod.  The clock is ticking and the transport ship won’t wait.  Cree and Ezra head out into the wilderness…

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

I’d never seen Sophie Thatcher before.  She more than holds her own.  Pedro Pascal is excellent.  They are the heart and soul of the film.

Zeek Earl and  Chris Caldwell, the writers/directors of Prospect came up with very cool ideas.  The remote, toxic planet, the young girl and her father’s killer who must team up, the mercenaries and other strange characters that they meet along the way as well as the deadline to get back to the transport ship looms.  All of these things play out in the movie.  I just wish that each concept was better developed.

Prospect (2018) rates 3 of 5 stars.

“A Snitch in Time” (1950) starring The Three Stooges / Z-View

A Snitch in Time (1950)

Director:  Edward Bernds

Writer:  Elwood Ullman

Stars: Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Shemp Howard, Jean Willes, John Merton, Henry Kulky and Emil Sitka

Tagline: None

The Plot…

When wealthy Mr. Goodrich (Sitka) receives a note from a serial killer saying Goodrich will be his next victim, he hires our boys to guard him.  When our guys arrive they are greeted by Goodrich’s niece who says her uncle is missing.  Little do Larry, Moe and Shemp know, but the niece and her two accomplices are behind this!

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Who Done It? is one of my favorite Shemp shorts.  It contains the mansion with hidden panels, a scary looking monster/creep and the hijinks that come when our boys are running for their lives from room to room.

Moe sprained his ankle crashing through a door and so in scenes where he’s limping, the limp is real!

Who Done It? (1949) rates 5 of 5 stars.

“The Belko Experiment” (2016) written by James Gunn / Z-View

The Belko Experiment (2016)

Director:  Greg McLean

Writer: James Gunn

Stars: John Gallagher Jr., Tony Goldwyn, Adria Arjona, John C. McGinley, Sean Gunn, David Dastmalchian, Gregg Henry, Michael Rooker,   and Abraham Benrubi.

Tagline: This Is Not A Drill

The Plot…

Belko Industries is situated in a remote building on the outskirts of Bogotá, Colombia. It hires people from all over the world to work for them.  On for the first day of work an implant is placed in the base of a new employee’s neck in case something happens to them.

One day when Mike (Gallagher) arrives at work, he notices a new squad of security guards telling the Bogotá staff to go home.  Mike thinks little of it and checks in.  A short time later a voice comes over the intercom.  It instructs everyone to stop and listen.  They are told that unless two employees are killed within 30 minutes, more will die. Suddenly steel shutters come down on all windows and doors sealing everyone in the building.

Reactions vary, but most believe it to be a terrible prank.  When 30 minutes pass and no one is killed the voice returns to the intercom.  It announces since the group did not comply, instead of two people dying, four will.  Four employees are killed when the implants in their heads detonate.  The voice then says that unless thirty employees are dead within two hours sixty will die.

All hell breaks loose.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

James Gunn of The Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, Suicide Squad, and Peacemaker fame wrote the screenplay with the intention of directing it.  When the film was ready for production, Gunn was going through a divorce and passed on directing.  Still, several actors who regularly appear in Gunn’s films were cast including Sean Gunn (his brother), Michael Rooker, Gregg Henry and Stephen Blackehart.

I loved the concept, but felt that we didn’t get to know any of the characters.  I would have preferred to care/know more about who lived and died with less emphasis on gore.

The Belko Experiment (2016) rates 2 of 5 stars.