Category: Movies

RIP: Larry Storch

Larry Storch, actor and comedian, has died.  Mr. Storch was 99.  Below is the Facebook post that appeared on Mr. Storch’s page…

“It is with the heaviest of hearts that we share with you the news our beloved Larry passed away in his sleep overnight. We are shocked and at a loss for words at the moment. Please remember he loved each and every one of you and wouldn’t want you to cry over his passing. He is reunited with his wife Norma and his beloved F Troop cast and so many friends and family,”

Larry Storch attended DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx where Don Adams was one of his classmates. (They became life-long friends).  Mr. Storch quit high school before graduating and began working as a comedian.  During World War II, Larry Storch served in the Navy where he was a shipmate with Tony Curtis!

After the war, Larry Storch returned to comedy and his versatility led to work on stage, television, feature films, voice-over work and comedy records!  Mr. Storch’s IMDb resume lists 249 credits!

Some of the television programs that featured Larry Storch include: The Phil Silvers Show, The Ed Sullivan Show, Car 54 Where Are You?, Underdog, Gilligan’s Island, Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales (regular, voiced Phineas J. Whoopee), F Troop (regular, Cp;. Agorn), I Dream of Jeannie, Garrison’s Gorillas, Get Smart, That Girl, Gomer Pyle, The Batman/Superman Hour (regular, voiced The Joker), The Flying Nun, The Name of the Game, Groovie Goolies (regular), The Doris Day Show, All in the Family, The Brady Kids (regular), Love American Style, Mannix, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Columbo, Police Story, The Love Boat, CHiPs, Fantasy Island, The Fall Guy, Knight Rider and Married with Children.

Feature films include: Stalag 17 (uncredited, played Sgt. Bagradian), The Great Race, The Great Bank Robbery, Airport 75 and SOB.

I probably first saw Larry Storch in one of his many television appearances before his best known role as Corporal Randolph Agarn on F-Troop.  But THAT is the role I think of when Larry Storch’s name is mentioned.  He was so good that he was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Comedy Series.  When Don Adams won for his role on Get Smart, Mr. Storch reportedly told Don Adams, “You kept it on the block.”

Unlike some actors/actresses who attempt to distance themselves from roles that they had years ago, Mr. Storch embraced the part that brought him so many fans.  It speaks to Mr. Storch’s talent that he was so versatile that he could stay busy acting on stage, television, feature films and providing voice-overs for 60 years!

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Larry Storch’s family, friends and fans.

RIP: Gregory Itzin

Gregory Itzin died today at the age of 74.  No cause of death was given.

Gregory Itzin was a character actor perhaps best known for his role as Vice President (and later President) Charles Logan on the television series 24.  Mr. Itzin was nominated for an Emmy for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama for his performance in this role.  The Charles Logan character (thanks to Mr. Itzin) proved so popular that he was brought back as the now disgraced former President in season 10!  He was honored with another Emmy nomination for Guest Actor in a Drama!

Although Mr. Itzin was best known for his role on 24, it was just one of the many, many parts on his resume.  Gregory Itzin intended to be a stage actor and in addition to television and feature films, he also appeared on stages across the country as a member of the Los Angeles Matrix Theatre Company.  As a stage actor, Mr. Itzin was nominated for a Tony Award and multiple L.A. Drama Critics Circle Awards.  Gregory Itzin alternated between stage, television and feature film roles throughout his career.

Some of the television shows that featured Gregory Itzin include: Mork & Mindy, Charlie’s Angels, Lou Grant, Falcon Crest, Dallas, Tales from the Darkside, Hill Street Blues, The A-Team, St. Elsewhere, Murphy Brown, Night Court, Eerie Indiana (regular), Matlock, Quantum Leap, LA Law, ER, Murder One (regular), The Pretender, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Profiler, The West Wing, Firefly, NYPD Blue, Friends, Boston Legal, 24, The Mentalist, Covert Affairs (regular), Mob City (regular) and NICS.

Feature films in which Gregory Itzin appeared include: Airplane, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Airplane II: The Sequel, Teen Wolf, The Fabulous Baker Boys and Lincoln.

Gregory Itzin was a talented actor who could work on stage or screen in a comedy or drama and make the production better.  He was perfect as Vice President/President Charles Logan on 24.  But that character aside, what a career Mr. Itzin had!  He epitomized what a true character actor should be.

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

“Double Whoopee” (1929) Starring Laurel & Hardy / Z-View

Double Whoopee (1929)

Director:  Lewis R. Foster

Screenplay by:  H.M. Walker (titles), Leo McCarey (story)

Starring:  Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy and Jean Harlow

Tagline:  None

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers

Stanley (Laurel) and Ollie (Hardy) show up for their temp services jobs at a posh hotel when they are mistaken for visiting dignitaries.  Things go downhill from there once they begin their jobs as a doorman and bellman.  Jean Harlow who was just 17 during filming appears in one of her earliest roles.

RIP: James Caan

James Caan died yesterday at the age of 82.  No cause of death was given.  Mr. Caan’s family  released the following statement:

“It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of Jimmy on the evening of July 6.  The family appreciates the outpouring of love and heartfelt condolences and asks that you continue to respect their privacy during this difficult time.”

James Caan attended Michigan State University for two years where he played football.  He then transferred to Hofstra University in New York.  This is where he developed his interest in acting.  Mr. Caan’s first roles were in off-Broadway plays.  Soon he was getting guest appearances on television.  Some of James Caan’s roles included parts on Naked City, Route 66, The Untouchables, Dr. Kildare, Combat!, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and Get Smart.

James Caan’s first feature film appearance was in Lady in a Cage.  More film roles followed.  A few of his appearances include Red Line 7000, El Dorado, Countdown and The Rain People.

In 1971, James Caan starred as Brian Piccolo in Brian’s SongBrian’s Song was a tv movie that co-starred Billy Dee Williams as Gayle Sayers.  Piccolo and Sayers played for the Chicago Bears and became good friends before Piccolo tragically died from cancer.  The movie was a huge success.

The following year Mr. Caan appeared as Sonny Corleone in The Godfather.  After that there was no looking back.  James Caan racked up over 135 credits on his resume including films such as The Gambler, Rollerball, The Killer Elite, Thief, Alien Nation, Misery, Eraser, Poodle Springs, The Way of the Gun and Elf.  James Caan also starred in the television series Las Vegas from 2003 – 2007.

I probably first saw James Caan on one of his many television appearances since he appeared on many shows that I watched.  But it was his role as Brian Piccolo that got my attention.  Everyone was talking about the movie the next day at school.  James Caan was cool!  Then he followed that role up as Sonny Corleone, the hothead brother in The Godfather!  What a one-two punch.

Many people are listing their favorite James Caan roles in films such as Misery, Thief and The Godfather.  Those were all great Jimmy Caan roles, but I wish more folks were recognizing his part as Joe Sarno in The Way of the Gun.  Sarno was my favorite character in the film and Caan was perfect as the tough, old guy, (years before Jonathan Banks became a fan favorite as Mike Ehrmantraut on Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul).  Caan as Sarno had the perfect delivery on lines such as, “The only thing you can guess about a broken down old man is that he is a survivor” and “I promise you a day of reckoning that you won’t live long enough to never forget.”

I was glad to see Sly Stallone and James Caan acting together in two episodes of Caan’s series Las  Vegas.

James Caan was not only an excellent actor, he was a legit tough guy and athlete.  He did many of his own stunts. As a young man he participated in rodeos.  He played college football.  And perhaps the thing I admired most about James Caan was that what you saw is what you got.  He came across the same in all his interviews as a guy who enjoyed life.

James Caan has one final film in post-production.  It’s called Fast Charlie.  The screenplay is based on Victor Gischler’s Gun Monkeys.  (I’ve read the book and highly recommend it!)  Pierce Brosnan is the lead.  I’m happy that we have one more James Caan film coming and it should be a banger!  Of course anything that James Caan was in was better because of him.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to James Caan’s family, friends and fans.

“The Last Movie Stars” – Paul Newman & Joanne Woodward Documentary – The Poster & Trailer are Here!

The Last Movie Stars looks interesting.  HBOMax makes it an easy choice.  Deal me in.

The Last Movie Stars is an epic 6-part documentary from CNN Films and HBO Max that chronicles Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward’s iconic careers and decades-long partnership. Director Ethan Hawke brings life and color to this definitive history of their dedication to their art, philanthropy and each other. Through long lost transcriptions of interviews with Paul, Joanne and those close to them, brought to life by the voices of contemporary actors, we’re given an intimate front row seat to the lives and careers of the couple that would go on to forge an unmatched cultural legacy. Academy Award-winning director, writer and producer Martin Scorsese serves as executive producer. #TheLastMovieStars

“The Open House” (2018) / Z-View

The Open House (2018)

Director:  Matt Angel, Suzanne Coote

Screenplay by:  Matt Angel, Suzanne Coote

Starring:  Dylan Minnette, Piercey Dalton, Patricia Bethune and Sharif Atkins

Tagline:  You can’t lock out what’s already Inside.

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers

When her husband is hit by a car and dies, Naomi (Dalton) and her son, Logan (Minnette) are left in a financial bind.  Naomi’s sister allows them to live in her secluded house that is up for sale.

During the day, it is an open house which creeps out Logan.  He hates the idea that strangers roam through the house that he and his mother sleep in at night.  Soon after Naomi and Logan move in, weird things begin to happen.  Objects are moved, someone telephones but doesn’t speak, the pilot light on the water heater keeps going out and more.  Logan and his mom realize that it could be one of the strange people that they’ve met in the neighborhood… but is this person a prankster or dangerous?  They will soon find out.

The Open House sets up an excellent premise for a horror film.  It provides a supporting cast of possible folks who could be responsible for the weird stuff going on.  Then it makes the two leads fairly unlikable and gives us an ending that (my wife) and I absolutely hated.  In all fairness up until the ending, The Open House was on track to a two star rating, but that ending brought it down to one star of five.

“Emily the Criminal” – The Poster and Trailer are Here!

The Emily the Criminal poster and trailer are here.  This looks good, so deal me in!

Emily (Aubrey Plaza) is saddled with student debt and locked out of the job market due to a minor criminal record. Desperate for income, she takes a shady gig as a “dummy shopper,” buying goods with stolen credit cards supplied by a handsome and charismatic middleman named Youcef (Theo Rossi). Faced with a series of dead-end job interviews, Emily soon finds herself seduced by the quick cash and illicit thrills of black-market capitalism, and increasingly interested in her mentor Youcef. Together, they hatch a plan to bring their business to the next level in Los Angeles.

“Amsterdam” Starring Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, John David Washington, Chris Rock, Zoe Saldana, Mike Myers, Michael Shannon, Timothy Olyphant, Taylor Swift, Rami Malek and Robert De Niro! The Trailer is Here!

Wow!  Just look at this cast: Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, John David Washington, Chris Rock, Zoe Saldana, Mike Myers, Michael Shannon, Timothy Olyphant, Taylor Swift, Rami Malek and Robert De Niro.  Deal me in!

A lot of this actually happened.

Amsterdam, a new film from David O. Russell, arrives in theaters November 2022.

“You’re Darn Tootin’ (1928) Starring Laurel & Hardy / Z-View

You’re Darn Tootin’ (1928)

Director:  Edgar Kennedy

Screenplay by:  H.M. Walker (titles), Hal Roach (story)

Starring:  Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy

Tagline:  None

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers

Stanley (Laurel) and Ollie (Hardy) are already behind in their rent when they are fired from a band.  Desperate to raise money they begin playing on the street, hoping for donations.  Things take a turn for the worst when they raise the ire of a local policeman.  Soon enough they’re having problems with uncovered manholes, sewer workers, and each other!

The final scene is Laurel and Hardy at their best.  They are upset and strike out at each other.  Before it is over they’ve caused a riot with everyone getting de-pantsed!

“Do Detectives Think?” (1927) Starring Laurel & Hardy / Z-View

Do Detectives Think? (1927)

Director:  Fred Guiol

Screenplay by:  H.M. Walker (titles), Hal Roach (story)

Starring:  Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, James Finlayson, Viola Richard and Noah Young

Tagline:  None

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers

Ferdinand Finkleberry (Laurel) and Sherlock Pinkham (Hardy) are the world’s two worst detectives.  When a killer (Young) who has vowed to slit the throat of the judge (Finlayson) who sentenced him escapes prison, Finkleberry and Pinkham are assigned to protect him.

This early Laurel and Hardy film features the first time they wore the derby hats that became one of their trademarks.  It also features their famous derby hat mix-up routine. James Finlayson as the scared judge gets his share of laughs.  Do Detectives Think? is a solid Laurel & Hardy film and rates 3 of 5 stars.

“The Man from Toronto” (2022) Starring Kevin Hart & Woody Harrelson / Z-View

The Man from Toronto (2022)

Director: Patrick Hughes

Screenplay by:  Robbie Fox, Chris Bremner from a story by Robbie Fox, Jason Blumenthal

Starring:  Kevin Hart, Woody Harrelson, Jasmine Mathews, Kaley Cuoco, Pierson Fode and Ellen Barkin

Tagline:  Hitman Meets Dead Man

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers

Teddy (Hart), a mild mannered man,  is mistaken for an elite assassin/torturer known as The Man from Toronto (Harrelson).  The FBI convince Teddy to continue playing as The Man from Toronto in an effort to stop an upcoming hit on a visiting dignitary.  Everything goes sideways when the real Man from Toronto shows up…

The Man from Toronto has a great premise.  Kevin Hart is the right choice to play Teddy and Woody Harrelson makes a convincing hitman.  Director Patrick Hughes knows his way around action scenes.  The movie starts off well enough, but the last act went way over the top (some may say that it happened even sooner).  Still there were enough laughs to rate 3 of 5 stars.

“How to Make a Monster” (1958) / Z-View

How to Make a Monster (1958)

Director: Herbert L. Strock

Screenplay by:  Herman Cohen. Aben Kandel

Starring:  Robert H. Harris, Paul Brinegar, Gary Conway and Gary Clarke

Tagline:  See the ghastly ghouls… IN FLAMING COLOR!

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers

Pete Dumond (Harris) has been a monster movie make-up man for American International Pictures for decades.  When the studio is sold, the new owners decide that monster movies are on the way out.  They fire Dumond and his long-time assistant, Rivero (Brinegar).  Dumond uses mind control to get the actors playing the teenage werewolf (Clarke) and teenage Frankenstein (Conway) to kill the new owners one-by-one.  When the clues begin to point towards Dumond all bets are off on who will be the next to die!

How to Make a Monster is more clever than good.  It’s clever because…

  • It brings back monsters (Teenage Frankenstein and Teenage Werewolf) from their past movies for a team-up.
  • It uses American International Pictures (the real movie studio that released the film) as the studio in the movie.
  • It takes us behind the scenes on the studio of American International Pictures when in reality AIP didn’t own a studio!  They rented space from other studios.
  • The monster head props and movie posters that appear in the background of scenes are from past AIP monster movies.
  • The ads say that you will see the monsters (Teenage Frankenstein and Wolfman) in color for the first time, but only the last scenes were shot in color to save money!

How to Make a Monster rates 2 of 5 stars.