Category: Trivia

“Revolution in the Ring” (2017) / Z-View

Revolution in the Ring (2017)

Director:  Jason Sklaver

Writer: Jason Sklaver

Tagline: None

The Plot…

Teófilo Stevenson was a Cuban amateur boxer who won Gold Medals in the 1972, 1976 and 1980 Olympics.  Because Cuba outlawed professional sports in 1962, Stevenson was never allowed to turn pro.  With Stevenson’s Gold Medal wins, many wondered how he would fare against the best heavyweight boxers in the world.  Several promoters offered Stevenson one million dollars to challenge Muhammad Ali for the title.  The fight never happened.  Revolution in the Ring is that story.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

A couple of times it appeared that the Ali vs Stevenson fight would be made.  Fight aficionados still debate who would have won. Ali fought the best professionals in the world in battles that went 15 rounds.  Stevenson fought the world’s best amateurs in matches that lasted 3 rounds at most.  The edge would go to Ali in a professional fight.  Yet, if the fight was held in 1977, Ali was past his prime and Stevenson was still in his.  So maybe Stevenson would have the edge.  The fight never happened but the debate will never end.

Revolution in the Ring (2017) rates 5 of 5 stars.

“The League” (2023) / Z-View

The League (2023)

Director:  Sam Pollard

Writers:  Bob Motley, Byron Motley

Stars:  Hank Aaron, Monte Irvin, Ernie Banks, Willie Mays, Jackie Robinson and Maya Angelou

Tagline: None.

The Plot…

The League details the birth, rise and demise of the Professional Negro Baseball Leagues and the outstanding players who made it popular.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

The League shows that black players have been playing baseball since it’s invention.  It wasn’t until the major leagues wouldn’t allow players of color to participate that the Negro leagues came to be.  Cities that had a Negro League team saw their economies improve.  Fans saw a faster paced, more exciting game.

The League does an amazing job of presenting the social issues and history that brought about the formation of Negro Professional Baseball Leagues.  In addition to learning about the stars who played the game we learn about the folks behind the scenes who made the leagues possible.

The League earns my highest recommendation.

The League (2023) earns 5 of 5 stars.

“Lincoln’s Last Day” (2015) / Z-View

Lincoln’s Last Day (2015)

Director:  Molly Hermann

Writer: Molly Hermann

Cast: William Frasca, Tuesday Beebe, Fritz Klein and William Mark McCullough

Tagline: None.

The Plot…

Everyone knows that John Wilkes Booth assassinated Abraham Lincoln.  What many don’t know is that Booth was in a conspiracy that as he killed Lincoln, his associates would also kill Secretary of State William H. Seward and Vice President Andrew Johnson.  Lincoln’s Last Day details the plot as well as an almost hour by hour movement of all involved.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Lincoln’s Last Day is extremely well done.  Seeing actual artifacts worn by Lincoln on his last day as well as the derringer Booth used to kill the President add gravitas.

Lincoln’s Last Day (2015) rates 5 of 5 stars.

“Attack of the Hollywood Cliches!” (2021) hosted by Rob Lowe / Z-View

Attack of the Hollywood Cliches! (2021)

Directors:  Sean Doherty, Ricky Kelehar, Alice Mathias

Writers:  Dane Baptiste, Ben Caudell, Sean Doherty

Stars: Rob Lowe, Andie MacDowell

Tagline: None.

The Plot…

Rob Lowe hosts an exploration of movie cliches like the hero walking calmly away as something behind him explodes, one-man super-soldiers, kissing in the rain, a character coming from the grocery store always has a loaf of French bread sticking out of the bag and more.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

A harmless way to spend an hour.

Attack of the Hollywood Cliches! (2021) rates 3 of 5 stars.

“The Greatest Night in Pop” (2024) / Z-View

The Greatest Night in Pop (2024)

Director:  Bao Nguyen

Stars: Lionel Richie, Harry Belafonte, Quincy Jones, Cyndi Lauper, Bruce Springsteen, Kenny Loggins, Huey Lewis, Smokey Robinson, Dionne Warwick, Sheila E.,  Kenny Rogers, Dan Aykroyd, Christie Brinkley, Lindsey Buckingham, David Byrne, Kim Carnes, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Bob Geldof, Daryl Hall, James Ingram, Jackie Jackson, La Toya Jackson, Marlon Jackson, Michael Jackson, Randy Jackson, Tito Jackson, Al Jarreau, Billy Joel, Madonna, Bette Midler, Willie Nelson, John Oates, Jeffrey Osborne, Steve Perry, Anita Pointer, June Pointer, Ruth Pointer, Prince, Diana Ross, Paul Simon, Tina Turner, Stevie Wonder and Waylon Jennings

Tagline: None.

The Plot…

The Greatest Night in Pop chronicles everything from the birth of the idea to the night that dozens of the greatest recording stars in the world came together for a single session to create We Are the World.  The record went on to raise millions for African famine relief.  To this day, the song continues to raise money for the charity.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

It’s amazing that dozens of the biggest singing stars of the era could be brought together for one recording session.  Egos had to be left at the door.  Lionel Richie and Quincy Jones were able to keep the process moving.

At one point Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles both walked to the restroom together.  One of the stars remarked, “That’s truly the blind leading the blind.”

Paul Simon said that if a bomb was dropped on the studio, John Denver would be back on top.

It’s surprising that Madonna wasn’t included.  She was a huge star at the time.  Dan Aykroyd gets to be on the record, but not Madonna?

At one point Stevie Wonder wanted to include some lyrics Swahili.  Quincy Jones and others tried to see if they could make it work.  Waylon Jennings got frustrated with the attempts and left the recording.  Someone ultimately pointed out that Swahili wasn’t the language of the famine area.  The idea was dropped.

Having stars who are star-struck by being in the same room with their idols is fun.  Bob Dylan and others weren’t sure how to sing their solos. Things like that humanized them.  Hats off for having the soloists get parts that made the singers instantly identifiable.

The Greatest Night in Pop (2024) rates 5 of 5 stars.

“Woman in Hiding” (1950) starring Ida Lupino, Howard Duff & Stephen McNally / Z-View

Woman in Hiding (1950)

Director:  Michael Gordon

Screenplay: Oscar Saul, Roy Huggins (adaptation) based on the story “Fugitive from Terror” by James Webb

Stars: Ida Lupino, Stephen McNally, Howard Duff, Peggy Dow, Irving Bacon, Don Beddoe and Joe Besser

Tagline: Hounded for money … pursued for love … hunted by a KILLER.

The Plot…

After her father falls to his death at his mill, Deborah (Lupino) decides to marry Selden Clark (McNally), her father’s second-in-command.  Soon Deborah learns that Seldon married her for her father’s business.  Seldon has a girl on the side and may have killed her father.

Realizing that Seldon has plans to kill her, Deborah goes on the run… with Seldon in hot pursuit.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Ida Lupino didn’t want to work with co-star Howard Duff.  She thought he was arrogant.  They married a year after the film’s release.

Look for Joe (The Three Stooges) Besser in a small but important role.

Woman in Hiding (1950) rates 4 of 5 stars.

“The Why Files”: Season 3 (2022) / Z-View

The Why Files: Season 3 (2022)

Creator:  Andrew Gentile

Stars: Andrew Gentile

Tagline: Where Cool Nerds Laugh and Learn

The Plot…

The Why Files started as a weekly Youtube podcast where the host, Andrew Gentile looked at myths, legends, strange phenomena and more.  Gentile approaches each subject with respect and the right touch of humor.  After explaining the subject he then explains what part is true, debunks parts that can be and admits if the truth isn’t known.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Andrew Gentile is an excellent host.  His sidekick is a Hecklefish that adds humor.

Some of my favorite episodes from season three include: Dyatlov Pass Mystery Solved; Edgar Cayce – The Coming Storm; Computer Predicts the End of the World; The Dodleston Time Travel Mystery; The Dead Internet Theory; Alien Bases on the Moon; Why Ancient People Didn’t See the Color Blue; Legend of the Immortal – The Count of Saint Germaine and How a UFO Caused the Battle of Los Angeles.

The Why Files: Season 3 (2022) earns 5 of 5 stars.

“The Incredible Shrinking Man” (1957) directed by Jack Arnold / Z-View

The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)

Director:  Jack Arnold

Screenplay: Richard Matheson, Richard Alan Simmons based on THE SHRINKING MAN by Richard Matheson

Stars: Grant Williams, Randy Stuart, April Kent, Paul Langton, William Schallert, Frank J. Scannell, Helene Marshall, Billy Curtis and Raymond Bailey.

Tagline: Victim of weird mist ! Day by day he shrinks! Science is baffled! Cat becomes monster! Terror at every turn! Deadly spider attacks! Lost in a flood’s fury!

The Plot…

Scott Carey (Williams) and his wife, Louise (Stuart) are vacationing on a small boat.  When his wife goes down to get some drinks a strange mist passes over the craft.  Scott is covered with particles from the mist.  Six months later Scott realizes he’s shrinking.

The best doctors confirm that Scott is shrinking and begin searching for a cure.  As Scott continues to shrink life becomes more difficult.  Before too long even the household cat becomes a danger.

If no cure is found, what will become of Scott as he continues to shrink…

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

The Incredible Shrinking Man is based on Richard Matheson’s novel THE SHRINKING MAN.  Some scenes from the book were to risqué for 1957 and probably still are today.  They include Scott sleeping with a female midget, Scott abused by a drunk homosexual, and Scott peering through the window to watch a teenage baby-sitter.

Although the story ends with no cure found to save Scott, the studio got cold feet as filming progressed.  Director Jack Arnold, hot off The Creature from the Black Lagoon, refused.  Instead Arnold came up with a soliloquy for Scott to speak that ends the film.  Test audiences proved the decision to be a winner.

The large props used when Scott shrinks were later used on the Universal Studios Tour and the television series Land of the Giants.

Look for Mr. Drysdale (Raymond Bailey) of The Beverly Hillbillies fame playing a doctor.

The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) rates 5 of 5 stars.

RIP: Carl Weathers

Carl Weathers died peacefully in his sleep on February 1, 2024.  He was 76.

Carl Weathers attended St. Augustine High School in New Orleans, Louisiana on an athletic scholarship.  Mr. Weathers was an athlete who excelled in football, boxing, gymnastics, soccer, wrestling and judo.  At San Diego St. University, Carl Weathers played defensive end for the Aztecs football team.  As an undrafted free agent, Mr. Weathers was picked up by the Oakland Raiders in 1970 to play linebacker.  When he was released the following year, he headed to Canada where he played for the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League.  In the off seasons, Carl Weathers returned to the states to earn a earned a bachelor’s degree in drama.  In 1974, Mr. Weathers retired from football to pursue a career in acting.

Carl Weathers’ first feature film role was uncredited.  He played a demonstrator in Magnum Force.  Mr. Weathers’ first television role was as a jealous husband in an episode of Good Times.  Carl Weathers breakout role was as Apollo Creed in Rocky.  He would return to that role three more times.  Other of Carl Weathers’ signature roles include: Fortune Dane in Fortune Dane (1986); Colonel Al Dillon in Predator (1987); Jericho Jackson in Action Jackson (1988); Adam Beaudreaux in Street Justice (1991); Hampton Forbes in In the Heat of the Night (1993); Chubbs in Happy Gilmore (1996); Joe Clark in The Shield (2003); Combat Carl in Toy Story 4 (2019) and Greef Karga in The Mandalorian.  Although he would alternate throughout his career acting in feature films and television roles, Carl Weathers also branched out as a director and producer.

Television appearances of Carl Weathers include: Good Times; Kung Fu; S.W.A.T.; The Six Million Dollar Man; Cannon; Switch; McCloud; Starsky and Hutch; Barnaby Jones; The Streets of San Francisco; The Defiant Ones; Fortune Dane (6 episodes); Tour of Duty (9 episodes); Street Justice (44 episodes); In the Heat of the Night (28 episodes); The Shield (2 episodes); ER; Brothers (13 episodes); Chadam (3 episodes); Psych; Arrested Development (4 episodes); Toy Story of Terror; Regular Show (2 episodes); Colony (7 episodes); Chicago Fire (2 episodes); Chicago PD (4 episodes); Chicago Justice (13 episodes); Magnum PI (2018); Law and Order: Special Victims Unit; Star vs the Forces of Evil (10 episodes) and The Mandalorian (9 episodes).

Feature film appearances of Carl Weathers include: Magnum Force; Friday Foster; Rocky; Close Encounters of the Third Kind; Semi-Tough; Force Ten from Navarone; Rocky II; Death Hunt; Rocky III; Rocky IV; Predator; Action Jackson; Happy Gilmore and Toy Story 4.

Projects that Carl Weathers directed include: Renegade; Silk Stockings (8 episodes); Pensacola: Wings of Gold (2 episodes); 18 Wheels of Justice (3 episodes); Sheena (5 episodes); Hawaii 5-0: The Last O.G. (2 episodes); Law & Order; Chicago Med (2 episodes) and The Mandalorian (2 episodes).

When I think of his career, of course his role as Apollo Creed first comes to mind. Sly Stallone posted a touching tribute to Carl Weathers tonight that spoke to his importance in making Rocky a success.  Part of what Sly Stallone said:  “We lost a legend yesterday. My life was forever changed for the better the day I met Carl Weathers. Rest in power and keeping punching.”  My favorite Carl Weathers story occurred when he auditioned for the role of Apollo Creed.  Mr. Weathers was told that the writer of Rocky would be reading with him.  As the audition continued, Carl Weathers felt he wasn’t doing well.  He told the producers, “I’d do better if I was reading with a real actor.”  Sly said he knew right then Carl Weathers was the choice to play Apollo.

Although it only ran for six episodes, I was a fan of Carl Weathers’ Fortune Dane series.  I’ve been planning to seek it out for a re-watch.  The same could be said for his feature film Action Jackson.  Of course everyone loves his role in Predator and I’m no exception.  Anything that Carl Weathers was in was better because of him.

I was truly surprised by Carl Weathers’ death.  He was always in shape and appeared to be the picture of health. Some celebrity deaths hit harder than others.  Carl Weathers death was like a head-on car crash.  In addition to his acting, directing and producing, Carl Weathers will be remembered for his positive attitude.  He focused on the good in people.  He was humble and appreciative of his fans.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Carl Weather’s family, friends and fans.

The Invisible Woman (1940) / Z-View

The Invisible Woman (1940)

Director:  A. Edward Sutherland

Screenplay: Robert Lees, Frederic I. Rinaldo, Gertrude Purcell, story by Curt Siodmak, Joe May

Stars: Virginia Bruce, John Barrymore, John Howard, Oscar Homolka, Donald MacBride, Margaret Hamilton, Charles Lane, Mary Gordon  and Shemp Howard.

Tagline: The YEAR’S FUNNIEST FUN!

The Plot…

Richard Russell (Howard) has always used part of his wealth to fund eccentric Professor Gibbs’ (Barrymore) inventions.  When Gibbs comes up with a method to turn people invisible he needs a test subject.  Out-of-work model, Kitty Carroll (Bruce) volunteers.  When gangsters learn of the device, they decide to steal it.  Kitty, Professor Gibbs and Richard are in over their heads.

Let the fun begin!

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

The Invisible Woman was a 1942 Oscar Nominee for Best Special Effects.

If at times John Barrymore seems to be looking past who he’s talking to or in different directions as he speaks, it’s because cue cards were placed in strategic locations around the room.  Sadly Barrymore’s alcoholism had taken a toll.

Watch for Shemp Howard as the gangster named Frankie!  Margaret Hamilton of Wizard of Oz fame also has a supporting role.

The Invisible Woman (1940) earns 3 of 5 stars.

The Why Files: Season 1 (2020) starring Andrew Gentile / Z-View

The Why Files: Season 1 (2020)

Creator:  Andrew Gentile

Stars: Andrew Gentile

Tagline: Where Cool Nerds Laugh and Learn

The Plot…

The Why Files started as a weekly Youtube podcast where the host, Andrew Gentile looked at myths, legends, strange phenomena and more.  Gentile approaches each subject with respect and the right touch of humor.  After explaining the subject he then explains what part is true, debunks parts that can be and admits if the truth isn’t known.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Andrew Gentile is an excellent host.  His sidekick is a Hecklefish that adds humor.

Some of my favorite episodes from season one include: Top Scariest Places You Can Actually Visit; Rain of Terror; The Most Top Secret Places in the World; Nanorobotics & Nanotechnology – Can We Live Forever?; The Voynich Manuscript; Stay out of the Nevada Triangle; CIA Declassifies UFO Documents; The Philadelphia Experiment and Time Travelers Caught on Film.

The Why Files: Season 1 (2020) earns 5 of 5 stars.

“Room 237” (2012) / Z-View

Room 237 (2012)

Director:  Rodney Ascher

Screenplay: Rodney Ascher

Stars: Archival footage featuring Stanley Kubrick, Stephen King, Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd, Scatman Crothers, Joe Turkel, Barry Nelson, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.

Tagline: Some movies stay with you forever…and ever…and ever.

The Plot…

Room 237 features nine segments that explore theories that Stanley Kubrick imbedded hidden messages and themes within The Shining.  Some of the theories include that Kubrick directed fake footage of the first moon landing since we really didn’t land with Apollo 11, cultural assimilation of Native Americans or American Imperialism or Genocide are the real themes of the film.  There are more.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

If you don’t like one of the theories, don’t worry, another will soon be presented.  A lot of sizzle, but no steak.

Room 237 (2012) earns 2 of 5 stars.

“The Underground: Director’s Cut” (2021) / Z-View

The Underground: Director’s Cut (2021)

Director:  Darcy Weir

Stars: Darcy Weir

Tagline: A hidden reality and the true story of Phil Schneider.

The Plot…

In 1995, Phil Schneider made a splash at UFO conventions.  Schneider claimed his father was a former German U-boat commander who came to the US after the war. Schneider said his father worked as part of the Philadelphia Experiment. According to legend the US did an experiment to make a US destroyer disappear.  The ship was teleported briefly from the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard to Norfolk, Virginia.  When the ship returned some members of the crew had disappeared, while others were melded into the ship and some went insane.

Phil Schneider said that he worked for the government as part of the team making Deep Underground Military Bases across the United States.  Schneider claimed that on one of the deep digs he and marines became involved in battle with aliens.  Schneider said he was gravely wounded, and that a marine died saving his life.  Schneider said the US government knows that we have aliens among us and some have evil intent.

Phil Schneider died in 1996.  The official result was suicide although some conspiracy theorists believe he was murdered.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

The Underground: Director’s Cut presents video footage of Schneider speaking at a UFO convention.  Most of the film is stock footage and anecdotal theories.  If you’re looking for solid evidence of aliens or government coverups, this isn’t the place.

The Underground: Director’s Cut (2021) earns 2 of 5 stars.

“Son of Frankenstein” (1939) starring Boris Karloff, Basil Rathbone & Bela Lugosi / Z-View

Son of Frankenstein (1939)

Director:  Rowland V. Lee

Screenplay: Wyllis Cooper based on characters created by Mary Shelley

Stars: Boris Karloff, Basil Rathbone, Bela Lugosi, Lionel Atwill and Josephine Hutchinson.

Tagline: AFTER 20 YEARS Driven by the same crazy ambition that made his father create the terrifying monster that stalks in the night! See his juggernaut of destruction loosed upon the world!

The Plot…

Baron Wolf von Frankenstein (Rathbone), son of Henry Frankenstein, has brought his wife and young son back to live in Castle Frankenstein.  Baron hopes to rebuild the family reputation, but is surprised to find that the villagers still harbor deep resentment.  The haven’t forgotten the murders and destruction brought about by his father’s creation.

Wolf meets Ygor (Lugosi), a strange, deformed man who survived being hung for robbing graves.  When Ygor shows Wolf that his father’s creation lies in a coma below the castle, Wolf decides to revive the creature.  The operation is a success.  Sadly the creature will on follow the commands of Ygor.  Unknown to Wolf, Ygor has scores that he plans to settle using the monster.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Director Rowland V. Lee felt that producers had low-balled Bela Lugosi’s salary.  Since the script wasn’t complete as filming started, Lee continued to pad Lugosi’s part.  This increased Lugosi’s pay and created one of his best non-Dracula roles.

Surprisingly, this is the first Frankenstein film that shows the electrodes in the monster’s neck being hit with electricity to bring him to life.

Son of Frankenstein (1939) earns 5 of 5 stars.