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Danger Lights 1930

Danger LightsFor starters, let me let you know that this is 'A-number one entertainment.' There is a love story floating around but, for the most part, that's not what moviegoers wanted to see; They wanted to see 'ye olde' trains, and this movie shows them off beautifully. It is 10-star entertainment.

The flick dates back to the early '30s when those big, beautiful, noisy, smoky steam engines ran across America. The railroad scenes are so doggone impressive you will want to do what I did - turn the film back on and start all over again.

There are so many scenes that are so impressive, including the train in a swift-moving run to Chi-Town. Its lone passenger is quite sick and, naturally, no local docs have the equipment to handle his case. The odds of getting to that 'dawdling town' are not in the choo-choo's favor. The viewer can take it from there.

More excitement: The 'down 'n out' battle between two locomotives pushing against each other in a tug of war to see who can cross the line first. That has been done before but with lowly human beings.

The authentic scenes in the rail yard are massive and fascinating. I lived several miles from the old Sunnyside, Long Island yards and can testify that the look is for real. (We had the added attractions of some subway cars thrown in); The scenes of the men doing their every day jobs on the massive engines are grabbers; Any and all scenes involving the locomotive: They are what moviegoers want to see, and such scenes dominate the movie.

To deviate. Of course, there has to be a love story - and that has to involve two very different types of the male species. The men are vying for Jean Arthur's attention (and who wouldn't vy?). In one corner we have the dapper looking, nattily dressed Robert Armstrong going against the rough-looking Louis Wolheim.

He is a pal of her daddy's and all concerned just know that 'he' and 'she' will eventually become one and, just maybe - might give birth to little engineers; Wolheim, best known for his excellent role in "All Quiet On the Western Front," plays his part to the hilt. It's the old 'mean-but-with-a-heart-of-gold' syndrome.

Armstrong who, in those years, seemed to be in, at least, every other movie, is on the sidelines at first but, as you might well imagine, he becomes the main man.

As I noted - that is the plot involving human beings. Miss Arthur only shows signs of the darling girl who is later to become - and rightfully so - a box-office favorite.

Getting back to what you most want to see - the movie opens with an engine chugging away and moving swiftly in your face. It is exciting to watch and the excitement never lets up.

Trains have been a favorite topic since movies began, but "Danger Lights" is top of the list. The sights and sounds of trains coming and going are photographed wonderfully. There are documentary shots mixed with the Hollywood offerings - and it is a mix that really works.

Another scene to look for - and this had been done so many times before and after - is Mr. Armstrong getting his foot caught in locked tracks, and the train is bearing down. Hold your breath for that one.

Of course, there has to be comedy relief and Hugh Herbert, who was also the movie's dialogue director, is in and out for no particular reason.

But, do what they did in the movie - clear the tracks so that the mercy train can get to Chicago in record time. Speaking of time, the movie is just over an hour long, but the time speeds by. Let's say it goes as fast as a speeding train. (chortle- chortle).

To re-iterate - if you like train movies, you will love "Danger Lights" and, you might be surprised how wonderful and well done this movie is, considering its age. Let's face it - smoke-belching locomotives are more interesting and more fun, than are today's hip, speedy, clean counterparts.

An interesting thing is Jean Arthur's house, where she lives with poppa. It is just a few feet from the tracks and they can watch the trains go by from their own backyard.

Gotta keep the trains moving, and no train movie moves as swiftly as "Danger Lights." Watch it, and see for yourself.

Watch the movie: Danger Lights —»


Oh, Yeah? 1929

Danger LightsWill you have a good time watching, "Oh, Yeah?" Oh, yeah. First, park your brains, then click on to the movie and get ready for an hour's worth of 'nuttiness'.

The paper thin plot has to do with a couple of freight train hopping buddies, their girlfriends who have more sense than they do and, of course, a couple of baddies. Sure, you've seen all that before but the heroes and heroines of those pics were nowhere near as entertaining as folks in this movie. Our 'heroes' go through life without a care.

There are moments of 'let's get serious' which I will get to in a few paragraphs. What I want to emphasize is that this movie gives you very little to think about, but plenty to laugh about.

Most of the films similar to this take life seriously. The two stars, Robert Armstrong and James Gleason are carefree wanderers, exchanging one-liners with a Brooklyn accent. Youse guys'll get a kick listening to dem convoice - freight hoppers with a Brooklyn accent. You know: "Toity tree poiple boids sittin' in a tree, choipin and boipon." My first wife was from that borough so I know whereof I speak.

The title of this - er - epic should be, "Oh, Yeah? Oh, Yeah." The twosome end every argument exchanging 'oh, yeahs..

Movies with choo-choo's have always intrigued me. This movie? A '15' on a scale of 1 to 10, it seldom puts you in a state of hysterics but, throughout, it comes close. As they say on those aggravating teevee ads - "you have my personal guarantee."

First of all, the 1929 film (I was a whole year old when it came out) has two excellent movie favorites in the lead roles and, if you're a fan of films from that era, you might not recognize them. Naturally, they dress in clothes that look as if they came right out of a dumpster. Armstrong fans are used to seeing him nattily dressed and very serious about solving crimes and talking smoothly. Gleason enthusiasts also see their star usually neatly clad. Both of them fit their characters smoothly in this movie - and they ARE characters - r.r. bums,seemingly satisfied with their lot in life.

They come to a town where they meet two somewhat comely ladies. Our heroes are quite bashful, so the romance moves slowly. It takes forever before we get to that initial kiss. Miss Caron does everything - well, nearly everything - to get Lowery to smooch. Miss Pitts, a Hollywood character for umpteen years, has less trouble.

Naturally, there have to be 'bad guys' or there wouldn't be a story, such as it is. Without agitating you by revealing too much, I will just say it becomes a battle of nitwit wits - witless characters going against a pair of meanies. Of course, there are fist fights, the fists seldom connecting. My one complaint is that those scenes are poorly staged.

Gleason, who is also a scenario and dialogue director for this movie, adapted from a Saturday Evening Post (remember?) short story has the foursome meeting at a freight stop where the gals woik - 'scuse me - work. Right off the bat, Miss Caron is smitten with Mr. Lowery and gives him what they called in those days - googoo eyes.

Lowery, as Dude Cowan is hot to trot, but can't get up the courage to go lip-to-lip. One scene which should have led to kiss number one, shows the twosome saying 'goodnight' a couple dozen times; Gleason, as Dusty Riley, is ahead of the game.

The movie is ostensibly about freight trains, so there has to be some action on the tracks. Let's make it a fast-moving runaway freight train. The action that ensues is very well done. Coming swiftly toward the car with our heroes inside is a passenger train. Do they go boom? If they don't, how come? Is Miss Caron involved? Check the movie and find out. You will see some excellent footage of the trains speeding down the tracks. The scenes are nail-biters.

Meanwhile, there is 'discussion' about the men's dislike involving railroad timekeepers. One of our heroes is set up for the blame involving the trains.

The discussions feature lines which border from chortle to downright hilarious. They are offered jobs by a nice boss-man. They have been spending their time freight-hopping without a worry in the world, causing Gleason to complain, "it looks like we're not gettin' no vacation."

In mid-argument, Gleason scowls at his buddy, and says, "your parents should be arrested for commitin' a misdemeanor."

The humor is rude and crude and, for the most part, quite funny. The performances, from all concerned, range from lightly funny to crazy. The double plot works beautifully. See, "Oh, Yeah?" It's fun from top to bottom, with some exciting action tossed in. Is it a hoot? The answer is obvious - oh, yeah!

Watch the movie: Danger Lights —»


The Private Life of Henry VIII 1933

Danger LightsThe estimable Jimbo wrote a good-sized prelude to the movie, "The Private Life of Henry VIII," praising it to the skies and beyond, going the route of almost every critic that happily sat through this masterpiece.

The bulk of the praise was for 'bulk-y' Charles Laughton who justifiably won an Academy Award for his performance - the title role in the movie that mixes history with comedy.

As 'J' pointed out, you needn't be a history buff to enjoy this film. I'm not - and I did. Most of the enjoyment comes from watching the star 'ham it up', particularly in the many scenes showing him scarfing down his meal of turkey legs and/or mutton. He was a mutton glutton, and he happily 'gobbled' the bird.

Those several scenes lasted just long enough to get the point across: His Highness was a slob. In one scene he eats the meat and tosses the bones over his shoulders, while bemoaning the lack of decency and courtesy in his kingdom. Like Captain Bligh, he was tyrannical (although the 'Mutiny' captain was not that way in real life).

Some of the funniest scenes involve Mr. and Mrs. Charles Laughton. Elsa Lanchester sort-of steals some of those moments. (Note - also in real life, gorgeous Merle Oberon, who portrays wife number two later married director, Alexander Korda).

You may not notice it, but there is the usual stamp of approval by the Brit government. This one, in fairly small print, notes that the king's story is for adults. These days it would get a PG rating.

Said king is a combination of moods. He has a grim sense of humor, head-chopping draws happy crowds. Illicit romance brings him 'joy'. (Was she one of his ladies in waiting?). Ann of Cleve (short for Cleveland?), portrayed by the scene-stealing Lanchester, who can 'out-ham' him, shared the royal bed - BUT - seemingly they didn't - er - you know. It is said that they spent their wedding night playing cards. And, it is said that she usually won. And, it is said that she cheated.

What really ruffles the king's royal feathers are those of his subjects who dare to defy him.

His marriages are described as "failed." There are a variety of reasons which you will realize as you watch this watchable flick. He loves 'em, gets rid of them one way or the other, and it's all done with a sense of merriment. There's a term for that: gallows humor. To accent that, we watch a grinning French executioner getting his sword ready to chop off a pretty head. While that goes on, the l.i.w's - all right, ladies in waiting - discuss who will be the next bride. One of them wonders what he would look like in bed to which another 'cat' says, "you'll never know." OOooo - mean!

To sum it up - the first wife was a nice lady so she only occupies a few minutes of discussion in the movie. Wives 2 to 6 are the main characters of discussion.

Historically, it may not stick to the truth (but it does come close), but the castle, which is about the only scene seen in the movie, certainly smacks of authenticity. The period clothing looks quite authentic. The king's skinny legs and the way he sits are sort-of fascinating.

One joke I remember - he knocks on one of the castle doors and someone asks 'who's there?' He says "Henry." The clown asks 'Henry who?'

We learn about Henry and his six wives. Six? Not a record. In showbiz Mickey Rooney, Elizabeth Taylor, and Lana Turner all had eight marriages. Comedian Richard Pryor has 'em beat. He had nine spouses.

Several Biblical characters had multiple wives but, Zion Chana of India had 39 wives, marrying 10 of them in one year. It must have been leap year. For about 90 minutes your attention in this film will be on the hubby of the many wives of good, ole King Henry the Eighth.

Let us sing -- 'for he's a jolly good fellow.' His story makes a jolly good movie.

Watch the movie: The Private Life of Henry VIII —»


Cheers for Miss Bishop 1941

Danger LightsChristmas, 1941. Just before the attack at Pearl Harbor, most people were concentrating on the coming holidays. In New York City several thousand city-zens were planning on a visit to Radio City Music Hall. Their holiday shows were particularly impressive. The Rockettes, well known for their dance routines, were dancing their way into the season.

The theater itself was probably the most beautiful motion picture theater in the country. And management was noted for finding an appropriate movie, every season looking for the cream of the crop. All the major studios vied against each other to convince the movie house's powers-that-be to book one of their products.

It had to be classy, it had to be family oriented. That year they chose, "Cheers For Miss Bihop." My mother always made it a point for the two of us to go out to a nice restaurant - well, the Automat - and then head for the Music Hall

She opted for that theater again that year - I know - because, as I re-viewed the movie recently it brought back enough memories for me. I wanted to see it again so I got a 'ticket' from Jimbo and settled in - without popcorn. (Sorry, Jimbo but that stuff sticks in my teeth).

Anyway, I watched it once more and, as it neared the end I really began to choke up. I had a hankie handy for my 87-year-old tears.

When you watch the film it should affect you the same way. If it doesn't, you shouldn't have watched it in the first place.

It starred Martha Scott, and we saw her as a teenager and, before 'THE END' flashed on the screen, we saw her as a white-haired senior citizen. The make-up was extraordinary, as was her performance. And, she was surrounded by some of the best - William Gargan, Edmund Gwenn, Sterling Holloway, Sidney Blackmer, Marsha Hunt and, making her screen debut - Rosemary DeCamp.

Their lives centered around a mid-western college where Miss Bishop began as a student, and wound up as a respected teacher. The time-line was the 1880s to 1941.

"Cheers For Miss Bishop" equaled cheers for Miss Scott. The early scenes showed a classroom of students, most of whom were eager to learn. Try that on for size in this day and age. The young Miss Bishop was a charming dreamer who, 'twas said, "loves and understands books." And, try THAT on for size these days.

The film was filled with lots of sugar and syrup. The whole idea was to make the viewer sad - and, it worked, except for the jaded.

Miss B was going to New York City (home of the Music Hall) to work as a librarian but, her ole prof stepped in and convinced her to stay where she was and teach where she was taught. The ole prof was Santa Claus - well - Edmund Gwenn who portrayed the man in the red suit in "Miracle On 34th Street" - just a few blocks from the Music Hall.

So, Miss B was happy and content but, there has to be a problem. It was a romance rivalry. The man of her dreams took off with her vixen-ish cousin. They had a baby and momma died in childbirth so, who brought up the little one? Altogether now, students: "Miss Bishop."

The movie had a lot of ground to cover, and did it the easy way - quick shots of newspaper headlines covering Prohibition, the big war, the Depression, etc. etc.

Toward the end of her life, she declines an invitation to the umpteenth school reunion but, something is going on, and, naturally, she gets talked into going. What happens? Literally, cheers for Miss Bishop. The program at the school begins with a - whoa! - prayer. Hey, you can get arrested for that these days.

Then students pay tribute and, what students. One is a Nobel Peace Prize winner. There's a senator, and a famous historian among others.

Getting personal, I couldn't fit in that package. My principal, on graduation day, told my mother, and I remember this clearly: "Mrs. Roberts - he just made it by the skin of his teeth."

Back to the movie. There are a series of stories within the story - a disagreement with the new principal and, of course, they later become friends; There is Miss B driving one of those new-fangled 'motor cars,' one lady whispering, "where's the horse?"

Sterling Holloway does what he usually does - talks with a 'Svedeesh' accent, bemoaning Miss Bishop driving her car in his cared-for flower garden. For the 123rd time in his movie career he says, "yumpin yiminy."

Some of the wonderful things about the movie are the asides, the people of the town, the school, itself, and much more.

But, the main attraction is Miss Ella Bishop - and Martha Scott's beautiful portrait of that beautiful lady - no matter her age, so, "Cheers For Miss Bishop."

Watch the movie: Cheers for Miss Bishop —»


Waterfront Lady 1935

Danger Lights"Waterfront Lady," starring Ann Rutherford, Frank Albertson, J. Farrell MacDonald, Barbara Pepper, Grant Withers, Jack LaRue, Ward Bond, Smiley Burnette.

The "Waterfront Lady" never made a big splash, but 'she' keeps afloat for about an hour. It's not the greatest thing since Swiss cheese, but it will keep you happily occupied.

If you are an honest-to-God old movie buff, you will especially delight in checking out the cast of 'characters'. You will note that most of them are familiar folk, all gathered at the 'waterfront' for a story about the usual -- murder.

It is advertised as Ann Rutherford's first movie. Essentially, that is true, although she did appear in a serial. She got the starring role in this film because the actress originally chosen to portray Joan O'Brien opted for marriage instead. The lady with the lovely name of Ann Darling found her darling lolling about in the world of insurance. It helped that he was an executive.

How did Miss Rutherford step into her shoes? Sheer luck, sort-of like the Lauren Bacall story. Miss R was doing a radio show and 'this-here-now' movie producer saw her picture in the paper and - voila! Some scenes with the aforementioned Darling lady had already been shot, and the 'powers-that be' felt that Miss R resembled the banker's wife, so they put the Rutherford name on the dotted line, and put her to work. Following that flick came a host of other fairly decent roles, and she kept very busy during the '40s and '50s.

Yeah, but what about the 'waterfront' adventure? Well, Rutherford is so cotton pickin' cute she wound up in just about every scene in the adventure flick that takes place around the docks, and in a gambling club on a yacht.

She is befriended, and that is the right word for a change, by the guy who owns the sumptious boat on which the wheels and cards are located. With the exception of a murder all is right with the world on the water, except for a fight - more like a 'free-for-all' in which most of the cast of characters get 'bopped' around.

In the middle of the melee is baby-faced Frank Albertson, as Ronny who, for obvious reasons sets his cap, as they used to say, for Miss Rutherford. The romance goes back 'n forth, forth 'n back, disrupted by an accusation that Ronny did the shooting. Since the film's running time is about 60 minutes it doesn't take long to solve the 'who-done-it'. Was it Ronny? Mayhap but, as they say in this type of movie - "I ain't talkin'."

Meanwhile, a whole lot of familiar-looking faces run in and out and, of course there's a 'copper' - O'Brien who figures out what happened, and why.

Some of those involved in this low-priced Majestic movie include Barbara Pepper as Gloria 'other woman' Vance, and Grant Withers as Tod. He was involved in these 'cheapies' for many, many years; Jack LaRue slips out of his western attire to portray the appropriately named, Tom Burden; Ward Bond is Jess and you 'jess' know that familiar face. More often than not he was a resident bad guy. Did he pull the trigger? You will know some time after you put "The Waterfront Lady" on.

Absolutely, the strangest piece of casting involves Smiley Burnette - Gene Autry's not too bright sidekick. This go-'round he is an Italian - yes, I said Italian, complete with telltale mustach.

He plays the accordion and sings two self-penned songs - "Deep Dark River," and "What I Wouldn't Do." I have an article in Jimbo's line-up about spending a few hours with him, and I am pretty sure he enjoyed his brief role because he always liked to display his musical talents and, aside from 'rasping' thru some numbers when Autry was relaxing, he didn't get too many opportunities to display his musicianship.

He was only onscreen for about 10 minutes but, for his fans, that was enough time to view the 'real' Smiley.

So, all in all, if you want to spend an enjoyable 60 minutes, check out this movie. As the old Jolson song so aptly put it - 'oh, oh, oh, oh what a gal' - that waterfront lady.

Watch the movie: Waterfront Lady —»


Rogues Tavern 1936

Rogues TavernThe dog howls, and the picture is a howl. It's built along the lines of the "Thin Man" series - sharp cop, and pesky wife. The latter finds some of the necessary clues to the murder of a trio of visitors in "The Rogues Tavern."

The cast is excellent. They are some of the bright and personable people who graced the best 'B' movies of the '30s and '40s. We have the suspect(s), the murdered, the problem solvers, the hangers-on, and the 'duh' people. It's a merry mix not meant to be taken too seriously. Some of'em are dead.

Wallace Ford as Jimmy Kelly, and Barbara Pepper as Marjorie Burns are looking for a Justice of the Peace so they can get married and live happily ever after -- well, ever after, at least.

As luck, and a sharp story would have it they wind up at The Rogues Tavern. The clerk who checks them in asks Ford if he is married. "No," the detective said, "I was born this way." Thus begins the wise crack laden script." The scenery never changes. It ranges from the interior to the exterior of the tavern which really sports the name of Red Rock Tavern. I guess the producer felt that didn't have the right threatening sound, so they called it what I said above.

The first thing the moviegoer hears is a howling wind. A howling animal is next, and it even becomes a canine suspect. In a few scenes the animal is given a rough time. In reply, it wags its tail. I guess he ate the script which probably describes him as angry. He is most likely awaiting his end-of-scene Purina. It should be noted that S. W. is quite a handsome animal.

Ford, taking time out from 'detectiv-ing' to take a wife he can cleave unto gets sucked into the mystery. Who done dun it?

Is there a scene stealer? I mean besides Red Wolf (he gets bottom billing). Yep - just about every human involved, and, remember, one of them is a killer - a very vicious killer who knocked off three and, of course, is prepared to up that number.

Joan Woodbury is surely made to look guilty - sporting make-up that hides the usually pretty face. She sort-of looks like the wicked bi -- er -- witch. Some of the visitors are knocked off (there's that cheap phrase again) like clockwork - a murder an hour. Miss Pepper - Ford's intended - is a fine wise cracker-ess. (That means she's female). She delivers her lines a-la Loy.

Her intended, looking dead serious about the dead, is searching for clues. He even looks in the 'clues closet'. At first, of course, he is stymied. Meanwhile, Miss Pepper keeps trying to get his attention to let him knows she has found something important, something, as they usually say in these movies, that will crack the case wide open.

It is an hour-long film so, of course, he ignores her, eager to prove that men are brighter than women. In the mean time phone lines are cut, and lights constantly go off and on. The method for that? The li'l ole switch, of course. Sheesh - why didn't I think of that? Why didn't Erle Stanley Gardner think of that?

In most of these pictures there is - to put it politely - a none too bright character. This time, it's the janitor. Ford tells him he came to the tavern 'incognito'. The janitor's reply? "I thought you came on a bus." It's funnier on the screen.

Another character is in a wheelchair. Wife-to-be tells the gang she saw him standing up. He is pulled out of the chair, and he does stand but, certainly not with certainty.

Anyway, the detecting goes on and the tavern visitors realize that every window in the building has bars. (No, wise guys - not a place for drinks). Meanwhile, the number of murders goes up like an Otis elevator. (three). Our bright detective finds a bullet lying around and, in true Perry Mason style, he makes the statement that the dead were killed by a human. Up to now Silver Wolf seemed to be the guilty party. (I never found out if Silver Wolf was the name of the canine, or his character's name. Both, I think)

The animal is obviously not guilty. A dog-like mask was found - a poor excuse for a guilty dog to use. Just to point the finger of guilt at him, one scene shows him baring his teeth, and growling fiercely. He is an innocent animal, so the mystery thickens and, to be honest, I don't think anyone but the brightest of y'all will figure it out initially. Just to wrap up that part of the plot, the bright detective declares, "the victim was killed by humans." Yay and woof.

So, we have to find out who's guilty, right? The next line is obvious. Mr. Ford says, "all right folks, line up." He tells everyone not to leave. Again, his sweetie tries to get his attention, but he still doesn't realize that 'she' is brighter than 'he'. Things get a little confusing when one of the men declares that he is the murderer. The character shouts, "I'm the murderer. I was mad with hatred. I confessed, didn't I?" Well - yeah - but -- (Old Chinese saying I just made up): He who confesses to clime usually innocent).

Finally, just before THE END flashes on the screen is one of movie's funniest scenes.

So-o-o, if you have an hour to kill, find out who had a victim to kill. Bottom line: ___ . End of joke. The bottom line is this: The movie is interesting, and fun. I recommend - no - highly recommend visiting "The Rogues Tavern." It is time well spent. And, you don't have to 'spent' a dime, thanks to Jimbo.

Watch the movie: The Rogues Tavern —»


Leather Burners 1943

Leather BurnersWilliam Boyd as Hopalong Cassidy, or "Hoppy" is this reviewers favor-ite cowboy. The movie, "Leather Burners," is not a product of Republic, Monogram or PRC. This one comes from United Artists, an upscale studio.

There is a little less humor than most of his films but his 'nice guy' personality shines thru. He looks like somebody's favorite silver-haired grampaw.

As expected, there is a lot of action, gunplay all over the place, a nice guy, a host of bad guys, and Bobby Larson. With a name like that you know he is a juvenile lead. The town seems devoid of female citizens, but the one who rides in and out of this picture is - to put it crudely - a knockout. She has the colorful name of Ellanora Needles. (Her second cousin is Mary Pinz).

The story? Oh, you've seen it many, many times. The bad guys are trying to take over a mine, and the chief bad guy is giving the landowners a hard time, 'dis-allowing' them to ride thru his territory to let the cattle get some water. Just a few seconds after the credits we see a burning building, hear a lot of bang-bang-bang, and note that one man is injured.

Then, the movie gets into the bad guys-vs.-good guys plot. When it is established that the bad guys are doing everything possible to steer the steers away from the water hole, someone complains, "they broke my water." Love that line.

The scenery is fine - wiiide open spaces which, nowadays, is probably a Wal-Mart parking lot. The movie was made in 1943. So, what's going on? It's the old saw about the 'hero' riding into town and most of the good people in the community know him.

But, they're not thrilled with him when they find out he's going to work for the chief bad guy, the always reliable Victor Jory. So, was Hoppy really going to do that? Duh!

Conveniently, there is the usual pretty girl. But she is not interested in our Hoppy. She already has a boyfriend and a boy, little brother Bobby. The dark-haired beauty is the lovely - make that, very lovely - Sharon Longstreet, and I can't help but wonder why she wasn't seen before.

Andy Clyde has been seen before - plenty of times and, as you can imagine, he is the sidekick - and a darned good one. In one scene he gets into a fight with several of the 'baddies' and what makes the scene so much fun is the fisticuffs. Ole, skinny Andy, as California Carlson really gets into it and, I have to say this: I've seen fistfights galore, but this one is very realistic. It looks like every pow, bam, sock connects. And, it's great fun to watch Andy deliver a few healthy knockouts. I only wish the fight would have lasted longer.

Some of the action takes place in an abandoned mine (they are plentiful in these movies) and, naturally, while a lotta folks are in there, an old gent tears it to pieces.

He is another cowboy movie screen presence - George Givot. He portrays - love this name - Sam Bucktoe. He is thought to be dead but he shows up in a cozy little room he put together inside the mine - which used to be his. He has a little phonograph in that room, and an old 78, of course. Is he playing, "You Are My Sunshine," or "Ride, Cowboy, Ride?" Heck no. He has a symphony going - out of place, but what the hey.

Speaking of music, Mr. Clyde chirps a few lines from, "Jingle, Jangle, Jingle?" Remember that? Top of the Hit Parade when you were a little fella or gal.

A future cowboy - bad guy - good guy - leading man is listed, but I'll be hornswaggled (I've been seeing too many cowboy movies) if it ain't Robert Mitchum. If you're a sharp-eyed galoot you might see him. Me? I looked hard, but I couldn't eye him. His name is in the credits.

Essentially, that's about it. If you like a good, exciting, action-filled cowboy movie with a decent plot, etc. I recommend - no, highly recommend - "Leather Burners." Podner, it's a durn good Hoppy flick.

The preceding preview was torn from the pages of the New York Times. (Yeah, right). They think 'Hoppy' is a cowboy frog.

Watch the movie: Leather Burners —»


Kid Dynamite 1943

Kid Dynamite"Kid Dynamite," an East Side Kids movie with Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall, Bobby Jordan, Gabriel Dell, Pamela Blake, Minerva Urecal, Mike Riley's Orchestra.

The East Side Kids are up to their usual antics but, since Monogram made this film in 1943, you can bet there is a serious side to the goings-on. There is the headline: "Peaceful Czech Town Wiped Out By Nazis." This gives Gorcey, as Muggs, the opportunity to feel bad when he listens to a refugee from that country talk about our freedoms.

An important scene is the boxing ring. Mugs, you see, was supposed to box for the East Siders against the West Side Kids, but he is kidnapped by some unscrupulous gamblers (are there such things as 'scrupulous gamblers?) who figured that Mugs was hot stuff with the big gloves, and bound to win. So, they drive him around the Big Apple and put their greenbacks on his opponent. If all goes according to plan they should win a hunk-a hunk-a dough. (Apologies to Elvis).

In desperation they put the gloves on a very reluctant Danny Lyons (Gabriel Dell). He's a lover, not a fighter - but he's game and, unbelievable as it seems, he trounces his West Side opponent. That knocks for a loop the gamblers' plan to win a pot load of dough.

The boxing scene by the way is quite convincing. Well, Danny wins and Mugs gets sore. You can take it from there.

There is bad blood between nastier-than-usual Mugs and sweet as honey Danny, who, incidentally, is the only handsome East Side Kid. At one serious point, Mugs asks his 'ma' what makes him so mean. Like a good mama, she assures him he really ain't.
Mugs is also ticked because his very cute sister, Ivy McGinnis, (so many of the characters in these melodramas seem to be Irish. So was half my neighborhood - O'Brien and McCarthy to name two) loves Danny and vice-versa. She is portrayed by ultra-cute Pamela Blake. Oh - real life imitates art. Those two were husband and wife, off screen as well as on.

The un-scrubbed scrubby clubhouse is still the gang's meeting place. Later, the Eastern gang sort-of participates in a weird dance contest. Again, Mugs is the odds-on favorite. Does he win? Does his arch enemy win? Well, no and yes.

Of course, you can't have a nice, crazy picture like this without the inevitable clowning around by Huntz Hall as Glimpy McGleavey. He is a natural nutcase who mugs more than Mugs. He wrinkles his face, moves about crazily, talks as funny as he acts, reminding us of a Disney character - Dopey. They could be second cousins, although Gimpy carries on more interesting conversations.

That dance contest should have been lengthened. Mugs is at his wildest. Gimpy is even wilder as he dances (?) about with a partner much taller than he. She is Kay Marvis who, offscreen was, for a while one of the Mrs. Gorcey's. Later, she became Mrs. Groucho Marx. Gorcey to Groucho. I would love to see her biography.

A favorite scene is when Glimpy tells his friends that Mugs once told Joe Louis where to get off. "Sure, the Glimp said, "they was both ridin' the same streetcar."

There are some musical moments during the dance contest which also should have been lengthened. The band is billed as Mike Riley's Orchestra. A little correction here. They were better known as Mike Riley and his Round and Round Boys. If you're old enough you should remember their giant-sized hit, "The Music Goes 'Round and 'Round."

The band's singer-dancer, a wild one, was Marion Miller, my first wife's brother. Later, if I remember my ex's family history, she was a semi-regular on Jackie Gleason's show. Her husband was a theatrical agent.

The "Kid Dynamite" ending is a happy one. Danny is sharing popcorn with his 'goil' and takes an engagement ring out of the bag. Earlier, she declared to her mother - "oh, ma, I really love him." So you know she will accept. Muggs describes the scene: "Oh, look, Romeo and Cleopatra."

Patriotism enters the picture again. Earlier Danny joined the Army. Now, Mugs is in the Navy, and Glimpy is wearing a uniform of undetermined origin - probably a Marine. Oh, Ivy is a nurse, outranking them all. There is a bit of truth here. Jordan did join the Army.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the judge, portrayed by veteran Minerva Urecal. She is in the picture for about three minutes showing a wonderful stern, no-nonsense face. As Glimpy puts it - "oh, look, a lady judge." Come to think about it that would have been a rarity in '43.
A couple more mentions: Bobby Stone portrays Stoney Stone. Honest; Also, Sunshine Sammy was a regular member of the gang. The young African-American is treated as an equal - no preaching needed; Snub Pollard of silent film days has a very small role; and what is Mugs' real name? Ethelbert or, as they would pronounce it - Et-illboit.

A 'preachment' from yours truly. If you, like millions of others, enjoy the antics of these movies, don't miss this one. "Kid Dynamite" is dynamite. Dinah 'might' not enjoy it, but you will.

Watch the movie: Kid Dynamite —»


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