Category: Z-View

“Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” (2023) starring Harrison Ford, Phoebe Waller-Bridge & Mads Mikkelsen / Z-View

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023)

Director:  James Mangold

Screenplay: Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth, David Koepp, James Mangold based on characters created by George Lucas, Philip Kaufman

Stars: Harrison Ford, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Antonio Banderas, Karen Allen, John Rhys-Davies, Shaunette Renée  Wilson, Thomas Kretschmann, Toby Jones, Boyd Holbrook, Ethann Isidore, Mads Mikkelsen  and Olivier Richters.

Tagline: A legend will face his destiny.

The Plot…

The year is 1969.  Man has landed on the moon. The world is a very different place than the one Indiana Jones (Ford) knew as a young man.  Indy’s about to retire, but his golden years ain’t so golden.  His wife, Marion (Allen), has filed for separation.  She still grieves for their son who was killed in the Viet Nam war as does Indy.  Things change when Jones’ goddaughter, Helena (Waller-Bridge) shows up.

Helena wants information about the Archimedes’ Dial.  The Archimedes Dial is an ancient artifact that legend says can find “fissures” that allow time travel. Indy and Helena’s father stole the Dial from Nazis at the end of the war. Her father nearly went crazy trying to figure out how to use it.  He finally gave it to Indy to destroy.  Instead Indy had it placed in storage at the college where he taught.

Indy takes Helena to the room holding the artifact.  Just then Dr. Voller (Mikkelsen), a Nazi, arrives with gunmen who attack Helena and Indy.  Helena (with the Dial) and Indy escape, but are separated.  Voller and his gun thugs give chase.

Voller believes that with the Dial of Destiny he can go back in time and assassinate Hitler!  Voller will then lead Germany to victory and rule the world!  Indy, on the run and framed for two murders, must get to Helena before Voller can track her down.  Helena’s life and the future of the world count on it.

“Give ’em hell, Indiana Jones!”

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Director James Mangold was the perfect choice since Steven Spielberg decided not to return for Indy’s final outing.

The de-agging of Harrison Ford is effective.  Some have nitpicked that the voice sounded older and some of his de-agged movements seem like those of an older man.  Either I didn’t notice or this things didn’t bug me.  I was having too much fun on Indy’s last ride.

Harrison Ford is Indiana Jones.  It was great to see Karen Allen and John Rhys-Davies back. Mads Mikkelsen was an excellent choice to play the Nazi Voller.  I am a huge Boyd Holbrook fan and loved that he’s in the cast. Toby Jones makes a fun partner for younger Indy.  I’d love to see more of their adventures in animated tales.   If ANY movie needs a huge bad guy, Olivier Richters proves here that he’s up for it. (How about getting him to go against Reacher?)

I’d put the first 25 minutes of Dial of Destiny against ANY segment in the Indiana Jones franchise.

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is a nice bookend to Raiders.  Kudos to all involved.

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023) earns 5 of 5 stars.

“Black Angel” (1946) starring Dan Duryea, June Vincent, Peter Lorre & Broderick Crawford / Z-View

Black Angel (1946)

Director:  Roy William Neill

Screenplay: Roy Chanslor based on the novel THE BLACK ANGEL by Cornell Woolrich

Stars: Dan Duryea, June Vincent, Peter Lorre, Broderick Crawford, Wallace Ford, Robert B. Williams and George Ford.

Tagline: DURYEA! …that fascinating tough-guy of “Scarlet Street”!

The Plot…

Martin Blair (Duryea) wants to see his estranged wife, Mavis Marlowe.  It’s their anniversary and he’s sent Mavis a large ruby brooch in an effort to win her back.  Yet, she’s told the doorman to NOT allow Martin up.  Dejected and rejected, Martin goes to get drunk.  He then stumbles to his room, where a friend locks him in for the night.

Later, Kirk Bennet goes up to see Mavis.  He finds her on the floor.  She’s dead.  Kirk notices she’s wearing a huge ruby brooch.  When Kirk hears a noise in the apartment, he realizes he’s not alone.  As he carefully makes his way through the bedroom, he hears someone running out.  Kirk goes back to find the brooch missing and the front door open.  Kirk realizes he’s in a bad spot and runs to the stairwell.  He’s seen as he flees.

When the cops pick up Kirk, it becomes clear that he was having an affair with Mavis, despite being married.  Kirk’s wife, Catherine (Vincent) doesn’t believe her husband is a killer.  Kirk claims Mavis was blackmailing him. This just gives the cops more reason to think he killed Mavis.

Catherine is grasping at straws to find evidence to clear her husband when she meets Martin.  Catherine believes he could be the killer.  Martin says the police thought so too at first.  Except he couldn’t have killed Mavis since he was knock-down drunk and locked in his room when the murder occurred.  Martin takes pity on Catherine and offers to help her find the killer.

Kirk is on death row and the clock is ticking.  What chance does a housewife and functioning alcoholic have of finding the real murderer?  Tick tock tick toc…

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Black Angel is loosely based on Cornell Woolrich’s novel of the same name.  Woolrich is said to dislike the film because of the changes made.  Since I haven’t read the book, I wasn’t hindered by expectations. I thought I knew how it would play out.  Boy, was I wrong.  I was surprised by twist ending.

This was the last film directed by Roy William Neill.  He died shortly after the release of Black Angel.  Neill is best known as the director of several Sherlock Holmes‘ films as well as the classic Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman.

Dan Duryea, on the other hand, had a career that was heating up.  He’s even the subject of Black Angel‘s tagline.  Broderick Crawford has a small but important role.  Four years later Crawford would win an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for All the King’s Men.

Black Angel (1946) earns 4 of 5 stars.

“Leave the World Behind” (2023) starring Julia Roberts, Mahershala Ali, Ethan Hawke, Myha’la and Kevin Bacon / Z-View

Leave the World Behind (2023)

Director:  Sam Esmail

Screenplay: Sam Esmail based on the novel LEAVE THE WORLD BEHIND by Rumaan Alam

Stars: Julia Roberts, Mahershala Ali, Ethan Hawke, Myha’la and Kevin Bacon.

Tagline:  There’s No Going Back to Normal

The Plot…

Amanda (Roberts) and Clay Sanford (Hawke) rent a modern isolated house away from the city for a spur of the moment vacation with their two children.  As the weekend progresses strange things happen.  They lose internet access.  Several deer wander onto the property and just stand still.  At the beach an oil tanker loses control and runs ashore as beachgoers scramble for safety.  That evening the wifi is still out and television channels are off the air.

Later that night, Amanda and Clay are awakened by two well dressed strangers.  The man claims to be George H. Scott (Ali).  He says that the young woman with him is his daughter, Ruth (Myha’la).  George says that the house is his and a blackout in the city is the reason for their return home.  Ruth immediately distrusts them.  George cannot prove who he is. He claims to have lost his wallet.  His wife, Ruth’s mother is due back from a business trip later that day.  George is not asking Amanda and her family to leave. He just wants to stay with Ruth in his own home.  Despite reservations, the two families agree to share the house.

The next day, they learn that the United States is under some sort of attack.  Planes are crashing.  GPS and electronics no longer work.  The emergency alert system warns that the US is at war.  Their worst fears have become reality.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Leave the World Behind reminded me of a M. Night Shyamalan movie written by Rod Serling.  In other words, I loved it. It was well written, well directed and well acted.  Sam Esmail who adapted the screenplay and directed made interesting choices that helped build tension as strange things began happening.  Julia Roberts, Mahershala Ali, Ethan Hawke, Myha’la and Kevin Bacon are excellent.  I think this may be the first movie where I didn’t care for a Julia Roberts character.

I like movies that make me think, “What would I do”. Once Leave the World Behind kicks in, I did that a lot.  There were no easy answers since no one was sure what was going on.  I’ve seen a few bad reviews and they’re unanimously because the movie doesn’t wrap things up with a definitive answer.  That’s one of the things I enjoyed about it.  So, as always, but with this one a little more, your mileage could vary.

Leave the World Behind (2023) earns 5 of 5 stars.

“Guns a Poppin!” (1957) starring The Three Stooges

Guns a Poppin! (1957)

Director:  Jules White

Screenplay: Jack White, Elwood Ullman

Stars: Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Joe Besser,  Frank Sully, Vernon Dent and Joe Palma.

Tagline: None.

The Plot…

Moe is on trial for assaulting Larry and Joe.  As Moe explains to the judge what happened we see the story told through flashback.  Moe’s nerves were on edge.  He was deep in debt and had lost his business.  The boys decide a relaxing weekend at a cabin in the woods is just what is needed.  Add in a bear, some outlaws, and our guys’ usual hijinks and you can see why Moe was ready to commit murder!

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Guns a Poppin! is a reboot of Idiot’s Deluxe with Joe replacing Curly.  More new scenes were shot for this than you might expect. Reused footage included only Moe in court, as well as the bear and Moe eating breakfast.

Guns a Poppin! (1957) earns 3 of 5 stars.

“Rustin” (2023) directed by George C. Wolfe, starring Colman Domingo, Chris Rock & Glynn Turman / Z-View

Rustin (2023)

Director:  George C. Wolfe

Screenplay: Julian Breece, Dustin Lance Black from a story by Julian Breece

Stars: Colman Domingo, Chris Rock, Glynn Turman, Aml Ameen, Gus Halper, Johnny Ramey, Jeffrey Wright and CCH Pounder.

Tagline: Own Your Power

The Plot…

Most everyone knows about the 1963 March on Washington which brought together 250,000 people to protest for civil rights.  Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his I Have a Dream speech at this event.  Bayard Rustin was the man who came up with the idea and against all odds (even the NAACP was against the idea at first) was able to build support and bring the idea to reality.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Rustin (2023) has been nominated for two Critics Choice Awards: Best Actor – Colman Domingo and Best Song -Lenny Kravitz – “Road to Freedom”

Rustin (2023) has been nominated for two Golden Globe Awards: Best Performance by a Male Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama – Colman Domingo and Best Original Song, Motion Picture – Lenny Kravitz – “Road to Freedom”

Director George C. Wolfe who last directed Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is back with another winner.

Colman Domingo gives an amazing performance as does his supporting cast.  Glynn Turman also deserves special recognition for his powerful performance.

Rustin isn’t a documentary, so I’m not clear what liberties were taken with the story.  Bayard Rustin isn’t shown as simply a heroic figure. There are shades to his character as well as other better known figures from history. Rustin, the film, works as a biographical drama with strong performances and direction.

Rustin (2023) earns 4 of 5 stars.

“A Merry Mix-up” (1957) starring The Three Stooges / Z-View

A Merry Mix-up (1957)

Director:  Jules White

Screenplay: Felix Adler

Stars: Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Joe Besser and Diana Darrin.

Tagline: Hilarious?  Better Than Ever!

The Plot…

Three sets of triplets (played by Larry, Moe and Joe) lose track of each other after the war.  Moe, Larry and Joe are single.  Morris, Luke and Jeff are engaged and soon to be married.  Max, Louie and Jack are all happily married.  None of the brothers have told their girls about the brothers that they haven’t seen in years.

As luck would have it, all the brothers and their girls show up at the same nightclub at different times.  Unfortunately when the girls arrive they mistake the wrong set of brothers as their guys.  All of the girls think their guys are cheating and the guys have no clue what is going on.

Let the hijinks begin.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

The one-sheet poster for A Merry Mix-up lists the Stooges as Shemp, Larry and Joe!

Most of the shots when there is more than one set of twins was accomplished with doubles for each Stooge.  The final shot with a 9 brothers in the same scene was accomplished with a matte shot using a triple exposure.

A Merry Mix-up (1957) earns 4 of 5 stars.

“Naked Alibi” (1954) starring Sterling Hayden, Gloria Grahame & Gene Barry / Z-View

Naked Alibi (1954)

Director:  Jerry Hopper

Screenplay: Lawrence Roman based on the story Cry Copper by Gladys Atwater, J. Robert Bren

Stars: Sterling Hayden, Gloria Grahame, Gene Barry, Max Showalter, Billy Chapin, Stuart Randall, John Alvin, Dee Carroll  and Chuck Connors.

Tagline: The Cop, The Killer and the Border Town Woman!

The Plot…

Albert Willis (Barry) is brought in for questioning about some recent robberies.  Although drunk, Willis has no record, is married and owns a local bakery.  Willis becomes more and more angry as the questioning continues.  He ends up hitting a cop.  In retaliation, they work him over.  Willis, vows to get even with the cops who beat him.

Willis’ lawyer gets him released with no charges.  This only angers Chief Joseph E. Conroy (Hayden), who has no doubt Willis is guilty.  That evening one of the cops who beat Willis is murdered.  Chief Conroy is sure WIllis is the killer.  Conroy and a couple of his buddies begin tailing Willis everywhere he goes.  When Conroy is told to back off, he refuses.  Conroy is then fired.

Now, more than ever Conroy is determined to prove that Albert Willis is a thief and murderer.  Willis tells his wife he needs to get away from the publicity and to clear his head.  He decides to go to Border City for the weekend.  Little does he know Conroy is close behind.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Naked Alibi doesn’t play out at all like I thought it would.  I like that.  Who’s the “good guy” or better yet, who’s the bad guy?

Gloria Grahame is always good.  It’s fun seeing a young Chuck Connors years before The Rifleman fame.

Naked Alibi (1954) earns 4 of 5 stars.

“Muscle Up A Little Closer” (1957) starring The Three Stooges / Z-View

Muscle Up A Little Closer (1957)

Director:  Jules White

Screenplay: Felix Adler

Stars: Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Joe Besser and Maxine Gates.

Tagline: Hilarious?  Better Than Ever!

The Plot…

Joe, Larry and Moe plan to propose marriage to their girls.  Joe discovers that the ring he bought for his sweetheart is missing.  The boys believe that a bully from work stole it.  Our guys decide to confront the lug in the company gym.  What could go wrong?

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

In Muscle Up A Little Closer Larry and Moe wear more conservative haircuts for the first time in the series. The new haircuts would appear from time to time in the Stooges’ shorts with Joe Besser (he suggested the new style do’s).  The problem was that most of the new shorts contained footage from previous Stooges’ outings and the hairstyles wouldn’t match.

Muscle Up A Little Closer (1957) earns 3 of 5 stars.

THE ABRUM FILES: A BISHOP RIDER BOOK by Beau Johnson

THE ABRUM FILES: A BISHOP RIDER BOOK by Beau Johnson

First sentence…

I tell him I was a child when my father is ripped apart.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Marcel Abrum was the worst kid of predator, a human trafficker.  Rich and powerful, he thought that made him safe. But when Marcel Abrum brutally murdered Bishop Rider’s wife and sister, he discovered the truth,  Bishop Rider extracted a payback on Abrum equal to the horrors Abram had inflicted on so many women and children,

Then Bishop Rider made it his mission to hunt human traffickers and end their lives in ways that would make his name whispered in fear by those who targeted the weak.  Along the way others joined Rider’s cause. But nothing prepared Bishop Rider for the day when Jeramiah Abrum, the son of Marcel Abrum became a part of Rider’s group.  It took time for Rider to fully trust Jeramiah.  But the fire for vengeance that burned in Rider also blazed in Jeramiah.  For years they worked together brutally wiping out pedophiles and human traffickers.  The mission looked to be over when Rider’s cancer finally finished him.

But it wasn’t.

Jeramiah Abrum decided the operation would continue.  He and other like-minded individuals would carry on Bishop Rider’s work.  They would hunt down and brutally murder those that preyed on the weakest members of society.

THE ABRUM FILES: A BISHOP RIDER BOOK by Beau Johnson is a series of short stories detailing the work of Jeramiah Abrum.  It’s violent, brutal and bloody.  One reviewer called it “chainsaw noir”.  I like that description.

Every review speaks of the book’s violence.  It permeates each story.  Thankfully, Johnson adds just the right amount of humor to take the edge off. He also has his main character, Jeramiah Abrum, realize that he’s not a good guy.  He’s wanted by the police.  The ways he kills are terrible.  But Jeramiah is doing these things to perverts and criminals who do much worse to their victims.  It’s old school, medieval, old testament justice.  And I like it.

The stories are self-contained.  When all are read the bigger picture forms.  Johnson has a unique format that usually takes us right to the start of the criminal’s certain demise.  It’s amazing how many unique ways Johnson comes up with for Rider to get justice.  The book is a fast read.  Because of the brutality and violence readers may want to pace themselves.

This was my first book by Beau Johnson.  It won’t be my last.

Rating:

“Hoofs and Goofs” (1957) starring The Three Stooges / Z-View

Hoofs and Goofs (1957)

Director:  Jules White

Screenplay: Jack White

Stars: Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Joe Besser and Joe Palma.

Tagline: The Biggest Wave of Wackiness Yet!

The Plot…

Joe cannot get over the passing of his sister, Birdie.  He believes that she will come back reincarnated.  Larry and Moe think it best to not argue.  In an effort to get Joe out and clear his mind, they convince Joe that they will come across Birdie as they walk through the city.  To their surprise, they discover Birdie has been reincarnated as a horse!  Joe demands they take the horse home.  Let the hijinks begin.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Hoofs and Goofs is Joe Besser’s first outing as a Stooge.  Sadly, this short isn’t one of their finest.  Joe and the boys do the best they can with the material given.  When I was a kid, I didn’t much care for Joe’s act.  As an adult, I’ve grown to like it.

Hoofs and Goofs (1957) earns 2 of 5 stars.

“Commotion on the Ocean” (1956) starring The Three Stooges / Z-View

Commotion on the Ocean (1956)

Director:  Jules White

Screenplay: Felix Adler

Stars: Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Shemp Howard and Emil Sitka.

Tagline: The Biggest Wave of Wackiness Yet!

The Plot…

Our guys are janitors who dream of being hotshot reporters.  When the boys get home their neighbor tells them that he has to return to his country.  He asks our boys to carry three watermelons to the ship.  Little do Larry, Moe and Shemp know, the melons contain microfilm.  The neighbor is a foreign spy!  He then traps the boys on board the ship.  When our guys finally discover the agent’s evil plan, it is up to them to get the microfilm back.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Commotion on the Ocean is the last Stooges’ short featuring Shemp.  The short is mainly composed of footage from Crime on Their Hands (1948) and Dunked in Deep (1949).  The new footage consists of Larry and Moe trying to steal a fish off of a woman’s plate.  Joe Palma doubles for Shemp in a few scenes for continuity.

Commotion on the Ocean (1956) earns 3 of 5 stars.

“Tarzan’s New York Adventure” (1942) starring Johnny Weismuller / Z-View

Tarzan’s New York Adventure (1942)

Director:  Richard Thorpe

Screenplay: William R. Lipman, Myles Connolly based on characters created by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Stars: Johnny Weissmuller, Maureen O’Sullivan, Johnny Sheffield, Howard Hickman, Charles Lane, Matthew Boulton, Mantan Mooreland, Elmo Lincoln and Chill Wills.

Tagline: IMAGINE THE THRILLS OF THE JUNGLE SUPERMAN TURNED LOOSE IN NEW-YORK!

The Plot…

Tarzan (Weissmuller), along with Jane (O’Sullivan) must travel out of the jungle to New York City in an effort to save Boy (Sheffield) who was kidnapped by crooked circus owners.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Tarzan’s New York Adventure is Johnny Weissmuller’s 6th outing as the Lord of the Jungle.  He would make at total of 12 Tarzan movies.  This was Maureen O’Sullivan’s last outing as Jane.

Tarzan’s New York Adventure was one of the most profitable MGM Tarzan movies, but it was also the last one produced by MGM.  The series would continue at other studios.

Elmo Lincoln who played the movie’s first Tarzan (back in 1919) appears in a cameo as a circus roustabout.  Mantan Mooreland also has a cameo has a nightclub janitor.

This was one of my favorite Tarzan movies when I was a kid.  I loved the idea of Tarzan making his way through the concrete jungle.  I especially remember his rooftop escape, climbing skyscrapers, swinging from one building to another using a flagpole rope and of course the daring dive off the Brooklyn Bridge.

Tarzan’s New York Adventure (1942) earns 3 of 5 stars.

“Tarzan’s Desert Mystery” (1943) starring Johnny Weissmuller / Z-View

Tarzan’s Desert Mystery (1943)

Director:  Wilhelm Thiele

Screenplay: Edward T. Lowe Jr. based on a story by Carroll Young based on characters created by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Stars: Johnny Weissmuller, Nancy Kelly, Johnny Sheffield, Otto Kruger, Joe Sawyer, Lloyd Corrigan, Philip Van Zandt, Bobby Barber, Frank Faylen, Nestor Paiva and John Dehner

Tagline: THRILL AFTER AMAZING THRILL…as savage hordes…inflamed by crafty foes…hunt down TARZAN and the lovely maiden he is guarding!

The Plot…

Tarzan (Weissmuller), along with Boy and Cheetah, is on a mercy mission to deliver a serum that will save service members wounded in the war.  His errand will take him across the desert.  Along the way, Tarzan meets Connie Bryce (Kelly).  Connie is a performer who has been entertaining the troops.  Connie has a secret message she is to deliver to an Arab king.  When foreign agents attempt to kill Connie, Tarzan comes to the rescue… along with Boy and Cheetah.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Tarzan’s Desert Mystery is Johnny Weissmuller’s 8th outing as the Lord of the Jungle.  He would make at total of 12 Tarzan movies.

Ben Johnson, who would become a star himself and an Academy Award winner (1972 – Best Supporting Actor in The Last Picture Show), was Johnny Weissmuller’s stunt double for the horse sequences.

I have fond memories of watching Tarzan movies, especially this one, with my grandpa.  He particularly got a kick out of the last scene when Nazis finally get someone on the radio.  They think they are talking to Hitler and get up to salute.  It’s actually Cheetah they’re talking to.

Tarzan’s Desert Mystery (1943) earns 3 of 5 stars.

“Rumpus in the Harem” (1956) starring The Three Stooges / Z-View

Rumpus in the Harem (1956)

Director:  Jules White

Screenplay: Felix Adler, Jack White

Stars: Shemp Howard, Larry Fine, Moe Howard, Vernon Dent and Everett Brown

Tagline: Ha-Ha-Harem Hi-Hi-Hijinks!

The Plot…

The boys are diner owners whose customers end up wearing more food than they eat.  After the boys learn that their girls need money to pay off debts, the overhear two crooks discussing the whereabouts of a stolen diamond. Shemp, Larry and Moe decide to recover and return the gem for a reward.  What could go wrong?

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Rumpus in the Harem is a reboot of Malice in the Palace.  Rumpus in the Harem was the first to make use of a “fake Shemp” for new scenes.

Rumpus in the Harem earns 3 of 5 stars.

“For Crimin’ Out Loud” (1956) starring The Three Stooges / Z-View

For Crimin’ Out Loud (1956)

Director:  Jules White, Edward Bernds (stock footage)

Writer: Felix Adler, story by Edward Bernds

Stars: Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Shemp Howard, Christine McIntyre and Emil Sitka

Tagline: None

The Plot…

When Councilman John 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)…

For Crimin’ Out Loud is a reboot of the Stooges’ 1949 short, Who Done It?.  They shot a new opening scene and the rest uses scenes from Who Done It?.

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!

For Crimin’ Out Loud (1956) rates 5 of 5 stars.