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Frank M. Roberts Favorites - Page 3

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Mooch Goes to Hollywood - 1971

Five Minutes to Love"Mooch Goes To Hollywood." Mooch and all-star cast. 1971.

Note: This was a television program. It was not made for theatrical release. We're including it in the movie category since its main purpose was to 'show off' many of the stars of the day. FR.

I recommend this movie if you're about 5-years-old or if you're an A number one dog lover. There is no plot. It is just concerned with a shaggy, adorable mutt who makes its way to Hollywood, checks out many of the tourist attractions and, while he is doing all that he is making friends with Lord knows how many of the stars of the '60s and '70s.

If that fascinates you, stick with it but, pay very, very close attention since almost all of them are on screen for just a few minutes - some for just a few seconds. You can play 'Name That Star' and give a prize - a box of popcorn - to the winner. The release lasts for only 50-minutes. Remember, time flies when you're having fun.

Mooch is 'portrayed' by Higgins and, if he looks familiar that's because the dog was Dog in "Petticoat Junction" and, he was the original Benji. The 'barker' has star power and, he probably has an agent. One of his co-stars and producer of this canine production, is Jim Backus - yes, Mr. Magoo who must have spent a lot of time on the telephone to convince so many of the biggies to play second fiddle to a pooch.

Zsa Zsa narrates the first part of the show and, no less a personage than Richard Burton handles part two. Can you believe that? The story has something to do with the animal seeking movie stardom. The first time we see him, he's jumping off a freight train. He is hoping that, one day, he can put his paws in the Grauman Theater cement. (It worked for Lassie).

The scruffy one gets off to a bad start. He goes into the Brown Derby and, believe it or not, we see him getting tossed out of that club - mercilessly. No wonder that club went out of biz.

There he is in Hollywood with not even a bone to his name. Luckily, the first human he meets is Vincent Price, looking weirder than usual; Star number two is James Darren who just about adopts the animal, taking him to the beach where he meets bikini-clad young ladies who gush.

Eventually, he winds up in an animal hospital which looks like the kind of place the ASPCA would shut down. It's crappy, the attendant is mean, and the doctor is a meanie. Others in the waiting room include a duck, a monkey, and a Siamese cat (I have two - twin sisters) that shows his dislike of the canine race by hissing at him. (Mine don't hiss).

Zsa (I know her well) in her narration tells Mooch where to roam. In one scene, he comes across a group of hippies, looking even more scruffy than Mooch - and Miss Gabor gives the animal some good advice - keep walking. Most of them look so stoned they probably couldn't tell if the animal was canine or feline.

Anyway, Mooch gets the hell outta there and gets back to trotting around Hollywood. In a rather weird scene, he comes across two mini-skirted gals. He sits there and looks up - I guess like any red blooded canine/human would do.

The main reason for watching all of that is to play 'Name That Star'. So - here goes. Jill St. John, Jerry Hausner who also co-produced this - er - film. And, there is Marty Allen, Henny Backus (Jim's wife who is probably tired of people addressing her as Mrs. Magoo), Grace Albertson, Jay Jostyn, Phyllis Diller, Jay C. Flippen, Sam Jaffe, Rose Marie, Darren McGavin, Edward G. Robinson (this may have been his last appearance on screen), Cesar Romero (wherefore art thou? Pup pettin'), Mickey Rooney, David Wayne.

I may have missed one or three but, you get the idea behind "Mooch Goes To Hollywood." The dog is cute. You may want to smooch Mooch. A rating? Three woofs.

Watch the movie: Mooch Goes to Hollywood —»

Wake Me Up When the War is Over - 1969

Five Minutes to Love"Wake Me When the War Is Over." Ken Berry, Eva Gabor, Werner Klemperer, Danielle De Metz, Hans Conried, Jim Backus, Alan Hewitt, Parley Baer. 1969.

Say this fast 27 times: The fearless flyer's fliers flew. They drifted down, landing in enemy territory - telling said enemy to throw in the towel - and maybe a washrag. Thanks to an inept AF lieutenant the papers are scattered hither, thither, and also yon. The packages came loose. Some scattered in the plane, most hit the ground. Well, paperwork was always aggravating. I speak from experience as a former member of the Army Signal Corps who was often tied to his trusty Royal.

Things aboard the plane got so crazy, the inept officer (Is that a contradictory term 'inept' and officer?) fell out of his craft. The flyer went down with his fliers. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, but it turned out to be a recipe for fun, and lots of it. The theme of "Wake Me When the War Is Over" is that it is, except for Lt. Roger Carrington. The name was chosen to get rid of some of those Roger, roger jokes.

Lt. Duh, Ken Berry in real life, is 'imprisoned' in a beautiful Baroness's bed and breakfast. In less than no time at all she has her eyes on him, and her hands all over him. Anyway, the flier is not the brightest bird on the limb, so he believes her when she tells him that Germany is still the ene-me. She figures that will keep him around for a spell. S-p-e-l-l is how you spell spell. As for the seemingly barren Baroness, Marlene (not Dietrich) sees him as potential husband/lover. He could be a future baron. Lieutenant Roger, though, is thinking of home, but he ain't going there. Why? You may ask. 'Cause she has him convinced the war is still raging and, if he tried to run off, he would be dead meat - and that's the worst kind. I know. I had some for supper last night.

So, the officer is socked in at the mansion. Marlene is lusting after him but, he is not hot to trot.

She has him convinced that the Feuhrer furor is still rampant. There are jokes a-plenty and a host of crazy, inane situations to go along with them. Lots of laughs from Berry, who pretty much dominates the flick.

So, he continues hanging around the biiig house, afraid to go afar, or even a-near, because he remains convinced that Heil Hitler is still the phrase of the day. Also in the Baroness's home-sweet-home is a slightly loco butler, portrayed by the ever present, Parley Baer, whose brother is Smokey the ----.

Best of all in the household is a beautiful maid, one who is to die for. In the movie she is Eva so, in the story we have Eva and Eva. Her real name is Danielle De Metz of whom it has oft been said, Wunderschone schouspie lerin. You're damn right.

The story, of course, concerns the flyer's fliers, and it is centered around that not-too-bright Air Force officer whose paperwork went awry. The propaganda papers were designed to let the German populace know that life as a democracy will be beneficial, something they eventually discover.

You will discover a recipe for laughter. If you're a Gloomy Gus, annoying Annie, a Miserable Michael, or a joyless Jenny - this film is the cure, and it's cheaper than a bottle of Bayer. If your momma done told you - that you have the "Blues In the Night," this pic can 'un-blue' you. "Wake Me When the War Is Over" has to do with what happens when the war is kaput, for everyone, except you-know-who.

The man-hungry baroness continues to convince Carrington that the war that's over - ain't and, she continues to keep him close as she falls in love with the goofball lt. She is not about to turn him in - the swastika on the house and picture of Adolph, are there to keep the Nazi wolves away.

To further convince the poor shloop, she hires some uniformed German soldiers to raid the house every Thursday and, bless their hearts, they knock before entering. In a serious movie, they'd kick the door open. When they come in, it's like watching Nazi Keystone Cops.

The funny lieutenant is anxious to get home, so he can make another movie. Maybe he figures his prior military experience might help him. If you remember, he used to lead the "F Troop."

The Baroness wants him around. It's safe to say she has the 'hotzenfeferrs' for him. For five years, he is her love slave. The fictitious war is winding down - i.e. not yet over, supposedly. He has room and 'bored' in the cellar. Initially, she showed him her bedroom. He went in to look around, only to discover she got there first. Nothing happened. The censors were beginning to frown.

Eventually, the maid, 'Miss Knockout' joins him to roam the countryside, hoping to find neutral territory. To reiterate, the whole cotton pickin' territory is neutral. He takes the lesser of two 'Eva's with him to act as a translator. He knows no German - the Germans he encounters speak-a no English.

The twosome (a foursome if you count her - uh - size 36 attributes) make quite a pair. So, class, remember - De Metz is Eva, and Eva is the Baroness.

I promised myself - no jokes about 'maid/made in Germany'. I will say this, though - and it's true: Wunderschone schauspie lerin.

Yeah, she's a beaut, so it's no surprise that the leader of the Thursday night troops is smitten. Meanwhile, the love slave officer wants to hike around Europe until he can cross into a neutral country. The sly baroness shows him a map and gives him some gobbledegook instructions. The maid, it turns out, was a member of the underground. As all this is going on you, watching nicely, is laughing at the shenanigans. How best to describe the maid? wunderschone schauspie lebin. Honest!

There is narration about the war, the radio blares and the headlines headline. When the soldiers knock (in a more serious flick they would break the door down) the Baroness quickly takes down her swastika flag and picture of Adolph. Yeah, the head knocker is in love. His tiny heart goes pitty-pat, pitty-pat. The neutral Baroness cares not.

There are several funny scenes between our airman and Germans, neither understanding what the other one is saying. Anyway, the man and the maid are running about until he sees an American newspaper headlining the war's end.

So, nothing for the Lt. to do but try to find his way back to 'our' troops. Involved, is a car or two, and even a tank which he blows up.

As the movie goes on, things get crazier, but the laughs come easier. Man and maid get on a train and the conductor's uniform scares him. He thinks the guy is Gestapo. A German colonel - the always funny Jim Backus - gets in on the act. Meanwhile, our hero wants to keep der maidenhoffen safe so, he keeps kissing her bye-bye; she keeps turning up.

At one point, he is preparing to blow up a bridge, declaring "this is a blow for democracy." If the bridge goes, the water 'neath it flows and screws up a dam. But, he did give a 'damn' as he rowed his explosives-filled boat around to safety. Eventually, it goes 'boom'.

Next, some of the wildest car chases you will ever see. The chases precede the 'The End' sign but, by all means stay put. The last several minutes wrap things up 'funnily' - an ending that might surprise you. Watch the movie - enjoy - don't try to make much sense out of it - just have a helluva good time, and try not to choke on your popcorn. If you know your history, you will realize du ghest mir tier auf den keks.

* * * *

I mentioned Berry's connection with "F Troop" but, as you may remember, he took charge of the law when Andy Griffith retired. The series was appropriately titled, "Mayberry R.F.D." On all occastions - gotta say it - Berry was 'berry' funny. He and his wife, actress Jackie Joseph, adopted two children. Both parents came from Moline, IL. Berry's showbiz hero was Fred Astaire - hero to many performers. In the Army, Berry was good friends with a sergeant - Leonard Nimoy.

The WW2 comedy was produced by Aaron Spelling and Danny Thomas. Hans Conreid, all over the screens in those days, had a small role in this picture. A friend of mine, a movie reviewer of about 30 or so years for a major newspaper, gave that actor two thumbs down. No love lost.

Finally this, did it happen story: A GI, a prisoner in a Nazi camp, was aggravating his captors. All day long, he shouted, "Hitler smells, Goering smells, Goebbels smells. Naturally, he was brought up before the commandant who scolded him, saying, "all day long you keep saying that Hitler smells, Goebbels smells, Goering smells. Let me tell you something, American dog - Clark Gable smells."

Watch the movie: Wake Me Up When the War is Over —»

C.C. and Company - 1968

Five Minutes to Love"C. C. And Company." Joe Namath, Ann-Margret, William Smith, Jennifer Billingsley. 1970.

It's motorcycle madness with "C. C. And Company," made in 1970, right after Joe Namath and his pigskin pals won Super Bowl III. So, it was off the field, and on to the dirt track - so long to playing ball, hello to playing ball with lovely, Ann Margret. Football has been his life and, he was so good at it most fans and critics proclaimed him Great - with that capital 'G'.

The ex-footballer was now C. C. Ryder, ready to supply excitement of a different sort to motorcycle race enthusiasts and, of course to the hyphenated star of many a man's dreams.

So, there was excitement, tense rivalry, and warm - no, not hot - love scenes with one of Hollywood's loveliest ladies. First, though, he had to rev his cycle and race against the leader of a rival gang. Our Joe was relatively decent, t'other guy was a thief, i.e, he stole every scene he was in. That would be William Smith as Moon.

If scowling villains are your thing, you will enjoy hating him. Man, he was one mean Moon. The two eventually became rivals for Ann-Margret's hand and, of course, the rest of her.

The movie begins innocently enough. Namath, as C. C. Ryder is grocery shopping. No, that's not the right word. He was grocery stealing. To his credit he did pay for a pack of gum on the way out. By not paying for everything he missed the opportunity to abide by a sign in the store - one that shows its age. Remember, S&H Green Stamps? (I still have a few I have saved for all these years).

Most of Namath's time, of course, is spent on his beloved Kawasaki. The company must have traded cycles for ads all over the screen - visually and verbally.

So, he exits the store and joins his fellow highway hopping buddies. Eventually, they came across an area devoted to motorcycle racing, and that's where the fun begins. Two of the dum-dums from the evil side come over to put their hands all over A. M. that p.m. while our hero is trying to fixes her car. In a strange scene, he works on her engine while they are working on her. He just looks. Anyway, things get too rough, and it becomes an opportunity to show us that he is a man's man. He gets an 'A' in fisticuffs.

A. M. is a photographer, riding in a limo, no less, and those two join her - uninvited. They get in, drink and watch teevee (cartoons, of course) while slopping over our heroine. Later, some bikers gather to watch the lass (get the 'l' out of there) as she cavorts in a pond. They are acting like 'stoopid' schoolboys. She just grins, figuring they're dumb, but harmless. To be honest, they don't see much. She stays waist deep, a waste of time for the dum-dums.

C. C., senor, puts a stop to their childishness. They strongly object to our hero interrupting their fun.

You know that is going to lead up to something - something exciting. It looks like action is a-waiting on the obstacle-laden dirt course. A C. C. doesn't have a dirt bike so, he finds a hotshot dealer who gives him a fancy spiel about a certain bike to fill his needs. Our 'hero' has to try it out first. Does he ever. He leaves the dealership five bucks promising to pay the rest asap.

As the pic builds toward the race, film extras show up so the race has a good crowd. Somehow, it's a sanctioned race with a pot of gold at the end of the dirt bike rainbow. Oh, the bike he sort-of bought? A Kawasaki, of course.

C. C.'s main purpose of winning is Ann McCalley (Ann-Margret). The excitement builds and, when you hear the ominous sound of a fat drum, you know the fun is about to start.

The race, of course, is the raison d'etre for the movie. It's a night race, and the course's lights, of course(s) are on and, as Jackie Gleason used to say - 'awaaay, we go'. Raise your hands if you think you know who'll win.

Hey, but guess what? Shades of originality, he comes in second in a field of several. Ah, but that's just race number one. Folks who watch this movie want more than one race to watch. So, there are beaucoup races and, when the 'score' is added up, he sits in first place.

He wins $600 and, admiring glances from A. M., described as a pro photographer. Actually, she just directs the guy with the camera and, it's all very official.

Wait - halt - stop!! There's more. Our hero does something to show the crowd what a helluva nice guy he is. What it is? Pop your corn and watch.

In the meantime, Moon is Seething - with a capital 'S.' At this point, it should be mentioned that while Moon is drooling in Miss McCalley's direction, his own g. f. joins him in 'seething'. So, the guys are rivals, the gals are rivals.

We interrupt the racing excitement - and that's the proper word - to go to a dance. Namath and A. M. show off some hot 1970s steps. They're grooving.

The next day, our two lovebirds go to her house, and it looks like a palace. Photographers have been my sidekicks for years, and I know doggone well they didn't make that kind of money. To use photog parlance - something ain't 'clicking'.

The $ probably came from her 'real' boyfriend, the cat who owns the track and, heaven knows what else. Just when it looks like the film is ready for re-wind - more excitement. The 'gang guys' invade the palatial home-sweet-home and, when Moon returns from shopping, he sees them spread all over the sumptious home. They're there, but she ain't. She's been kidnapped; then, C. C. is kidnapped. All are brought to the hide-out.

So, what next? And, what about the money? And, what about the C. C.-McCalley affair? Let's say, --it hits the fan. And, if you're a fan of such movies, you'll have a good time with this one. Also, you'll get all those questions answered.

Yeah, the film is dated but, it ain't boring and, if nothing else, you can 'gape' at its lovely female star. I will add one thing - if you like to see burning motorcycles, you will have even more fun.

A couple of items. One is that Namath does most of the riding but, for the 'dangerous-er' scenes a stunt man helps out. (Hate to point this out but, in "The Great Escape," Steve McQueen did it all).

And, there is a reason Ann-Margret comes to no harm. The story was written by Roger Smith - her hubby - her lucky hubby. The for-real group, Wayne Cochran and the C. C. Ryders provide some good music.

The film was made in Tucson, home-sweet-home for director, Seymour Robbie. On a personal note, the Mrs. Namath at the time, and when he was doing stocking commercials, was 41 when he wed his 28-year-old wife, Deborah, who lived in Elizabeth City, N. C., about 10 miles from my home in Hertford, N. C. home. He visited there often. (We have our own claim to fame - Jimmy 'Catfish' Hunter, whose high school football and baseball games I broadcast).

* * * *

Speaking of football, that sport is supposed to build bodies. Nah! I watched four games last weekend and I still have my flab. And, here's an old story - new, if you've not heard about the attractive middle-aged woman, dressed in the team colors and, obviously, a big fan. She was sitting in a two-seat box, all alone. The usher approached her and asked, "why is the seat empty?" The woman said it was her husband's seat. The usher, of course, asked her, "where is he?" She said, "he died." The usher asked why she didn't give the seat to a friend or somebody in the family. The woman shook her head and said, "oh, no. They're all at his funeral."

Watch the movie: C.C. and Company —»

Night of the Living Dead - 1968

Five Minutes to Love"Night Of the Living Dead." Duane Jones, Judith O'Dea, Karl Hardman, Marilyn Eastman, Zombies galore. 1968.

"Pilot to fans, pilot to fans. It's Corman cult time, Corman cult time." Fans: "Roger, Roger." Pilot: "We will soon land at Zombie Land." Once you are there the fun and horror begin. This is the original version of "Night Of the Living Dead," co-starring a bunch of unknown performers, several of whom play two parts and, the real stars of the flick - the zombies, who look like large, walking, grunting Band-Aids.

If you like this kind of thing, you will love the film that started it all, 28-year-old George A. Romero's (wherefore art though, Romero?) tribute to slow-walkin', slow talkin' ex humans. The movie begins innocently enough - a brother and sister stopping at a graveyard to put flowers on momma's grave.

Wrong locale. Zombies freely roam about there - gruntin', groanin', and shufflin' their feet. Their object? Knock off human beings (as they once were) so that the zombie tribe will increase.

The action heats up - where else? - in a deserted farm area, complete with abandoned house. The twosome soon realize there are sinister-as-hell others there. She sees 'em first. He disbelieves and, to make matters worse, he roams about the gravesites, doing a not-too-bad imitation of Karloff/Frankenstein, calling out - "coming to get you, Barbara." With brothers like that, who needs enemas - whoops - I mean enemies.

The house, they believe, is 'empty city'. They go inside. It is Creepyville. She tries to use the phone. (Naturally, as in all such movies, the car won't go, but, you've seen enough of these pix to know darn well, the phone ain't workin' either).

Well, hell, it ain't connected. PAY THE BILL. Soon, they find a tall, dark stranger (he's African-American and, as you will soon see he has more smarts than anyone else they encounter). Anywho, he tells them what's going on so, he and the brother, spend a lot of time boarding the house. The house is 'board-ed, but you won't be bored, Ed. The tingly excitement gets 'tinglier and tinglier' as time goes by. (Apologies to Bogie).

Eventually, more strand-ees show up. The men continue hammering, the girl runs around and screams, screams, screams. Meanwhile, outside, the zombies continue to grunt, groan and move closer and closer to the abode. All the hammerin' work the guys did are eventually going for naught. The zombies, of course, are greater in number. Kill 'em. Uh-uh - been there, done that. They are out for blood, and they don't care where - or, who - it comes from.

The continuous spooky music lets us know this ain't no outdoor rock concert - although there is a resemblance. The phone doesn't work but, the radio does and an announcer is going on and on about the horror, the dead bodies, etc. plaguing the eastern portion of our nation.

The broadcast originates from Pittsburgh, and even the Pirates are scared. His vivid descriptions are - well - vivid. And, back at the old house the situation worsens as the z's bam their way into the house. Somewhere down the line, they realize the zombies are less than enthusiastic about fire - even after all the work done by cavemen to create it.

The zombies move slowly, but determinedly and it's - hi-ho, hi-ho - it's to the house we go. Meanwhile, our heroine finds a shotgun (yes, she has a permit) and prepares to 'ready-aim-fire' which might seem unnecessary to some since the zombies are already dead. Their goal, of course is to find more recruits before they run out of Band-Aids.

That announcer (Bill Chilly Billy Cardille, a real Pittsburgh radio personality, who also makes it into the next 'living dead' movie) talks about high level radiation. Our heroes Ben and Tom (Duane Jones and Keith Wayne) want to get outside, because there is a shack there, complete with a gas pump. They care not if it's regular or Ethyl. They just want to get some of the liquid and douse-douse-douse the dousable zombies.

The end - of the movie, that is - quickly approaches, so it's time for some gory scenes - stabbings, blood and more blood. All hell breaks loose - the zombies get closer and closer and, if you like these kind of movies, you will enjoy these scenes. Since this is the first movie of its kind, more blood is seen in the follow-up films.

The National Guard, some armed forces members and some angry police dogs, eventually get into the fray. The animals haven't had their pet food yet, so --- . The bloody end approaches and, what happens to reach that point, is yours for the viewing. Recommendation: Call up "Night Of the Living Dead." It will have you biting down - hard on your popcorn. Send your dental bills to Jimbo. ONLY KIDDING.

Seriously, this is the pioneer of these movies. See it because of that and, see it because you like a good horror movie that will stay in your mind.

* * * *

Are you a glutton for zombiepunishment? "Dawn Of the Dead," the second version of the above picture, came out in '78. Want still more? "Day Of the Dead," "Land Of the Dead," "Diary Of the Dead," "Survival Of the Dead," "GWTW." the Beguine." (Huh??).

And, I leave you with this thought: "Girls who fall for vampires, are like cows falling for butchers."

Watch the movie: Night of the Living Dead —»

Five Minutes to Love - 1963

Five Minutes to Love"Five Minutes To Love." Rue McClanahan, Paul Leder, King Moody, Will Gregory, Gaye Gordon. 1963.

I hate to admit it but, sometimes when I review a movie, and it 'sux' I rub my hands together and I think - 'ah-ha' -- I don't have to write a serious review. I can try for 'funny'.

I recently reviewed, "Five Minutes To Live." This one is, "Five Minutes To Love." It's a disaster movie but not like 'Poseidon' or 'Inferno'. This one is putrid, with a capital 'pu'.

It begins with some noisy, nothing music and a dark mood where you can hardly see what's going on. Well, lucky you. What's going on is some Smithfield acting by a bunch of unknowns who deserved to stay unknown. The only 'known' was a very young Rue McClanahan who, in this mess, gives nary a hint that she would go on to become one of television's top performers. She was a golden girl but, in this movie, she was a - dare I say it? - brass bitch.

The plot? Guy, wife, and baby are heading to sunny California. Their car breaks down. Where? Right smack in front of a junky junk yard. Since these are the pre cellphone days, he goes to said junkyard to get help in fixing the car. A dumb move in a dumb movie.

He meets up with a screwball who claims a 180 i.q. - which is more than the writers of this mess could claim; there is a 'duh' character, a real dim bulb and a few other nothings.

The dialogue, at times, makes an attempt, a very weak attempt, at spouting philosophically about life, etc. And, don't worry about hearing the words. In this movie, no one talks - everyone SCREAMS. Do you hear me? SCREAMS!! Some of the spiel is intended to sound intellectual - like Orson Welles doing Shakespeare. It's more like Orson Bean. (Remember him?) I will, mercifully, give you only one line: "I got no criminal intention - just crime." Jeez, Louise.

At the opening, mention is made of the film's title and it's so-called performers - no other credits, and it's just as well. The other folks probably wanted to divorce themselves of this mess - excuse me - MESS!

The picture ends with nothing solved, not that any viewer would care. When the words 'THE END' pop on the screen it's like being saved from drowning in the nick of time.

Oh, and one of the characters limps. It's a movie thing - one character has to limp. It gives the character character. Speaking of limp, I am reminded once again that the so-called script is just that.

Enough. You've been more than patient. Jimbo has some great stuff in his files. This one is not 'great' but 'grat-ing'. Skip it. Twidle your thumbs instead. AAaargh!!

Watch the movie: Five Minutes to Love —»

The Bewitched Inn - 1897

The Bewitched Inn"The Bewitched Inn." Georges Melies. 1897.

Welcome - to a review of the shortest movie ever filmed - so - this will be the shortest review ever reviewed.

The movie lasts for 23 seconds and features a funny guy and, some of the damndest filmed tricks you ever did see - stuff seen in so many movies over so many decades.

This is a must-see for anyone with a short attention span.

It is appropriately called, "The Bewitched Inn" and - it is a one-man show. It was directed, written and stars George Melies. (There a good, old accent egue over the 'e's, but my computer can't handle that).
On the serious side Melies, of course, was a motion picture pioneer who travelled to Paris in a covered French wagon. Appropriately enough, he operated the Harry Houdini Theatre in - excuse the expression - gay Paree. What he put on film was later copied by Thomas Edison - i.e Spencer Tracy.

Now, for the story - such as it is. It opens with Melies going into a cheap-looking inn for a night's rest but, as the title implies - he may be a weary traveller but, there is no rest for the weary.

The first thing is that a table lamp - well - leaves the table. It falls, then takes off. In the next scene he opens the door - to the bathroom, I guess - but the door goes boom. It explodes.

At this point, Melies is probably cussing - in French - the language that gave us the immortal phrase: "oo la la."

He is still in the inn, and the enchanted inn is still continuing its quest to drive Melies - as they say in French - 'nutso'.

Melies has not yet lost it, but he would like to go to bed. The bed, however, doesn't want him to go to ---. First, he sits on another chair as he strips down to his long underwear. He removes some books from the bedhead. It was not necessary. The books removed themselves. They got out of the shelf and walked away - maybe returning themselves to le librairie.

He continues trying to strip. He is ready to go night-night but this, after all, is a bewitched inn. He tries to get to bed but, as you probably figured by now - the bed disappears. Actually, it takes itself out the door.
Do I recommend this - er - movie? Damn right! It has really excellent special effects, it is literary (books) and, seriously, folks, it ages really well. You might be surprised how it works.

So, grab some popcorn and watch the movie but, you'll have to gulp that popcorn down fast. As I said - this is an epic, but a mini, mini epic.

Oh, there's no sign of Elizabeth Montgomery. (That joke will work on you. Give it time).

The End. Sorry, I meant - le fini.

Watch the movie: The Bewitched Inn —»

The Deadly Companions - 1961

The Deadly Companions "The Deadly Companions." Maureen O'Hara, Brian Keith, Steve Cochran, Chill Wills, Strother Martin, Will Wright, James O'Hara.

Excuse me but, "The Deadly Companions" is deadly dull. I give it four yawns. It's Sam Peckinpah's first feature, after working teevee including, "The Westerner" which also starred Brian Keith.

After this movie, of course, the director picked up the pace. His action was a swift horse race; this movie was horses grazing in a pasture. You get the picture about the picture. It's sloow. Most annoyiing is that, while watching the flick, visions of O'Hara-Wayne danced in my head. Normally, I enjoy watching Keith but, in this movie he was a faux Wayne. Also, Miss O'Hara looked uncomfortable.

The story has to do with an opening gunfight in which Yellowleg (Keith) accidentally kills a little boy who was seen earlier standing on a roof, playing the harmonica.

During the first part of the movie we see church services held in a bar (speaking of contrasts). Strother Martin takes advantage of his brief time on screen preaching the word in a sort-of hellfire way. Of course, all sing "Rock Of Ages" which, I believe, is the only hymn Hollywood producers know.

The barroom, more formerly known as the Black Garter Dance Hall (a name that tells it all) is O'Hara's place of dubious employment. She works there as a cabaret singer. (Mommy, mommy, say it isn't so).

After church, comes the gun fight - hardly the most exciting in a western - speaking of which, Peckinpah or no Peckinpah there is very little violence in this film. You get violins, not violence. Ominous music reigns.

Well Wayne, 'scuse me, Keith (as Yellowleg) wants to make amends for killing the little boy. He decides to escort Kit Tildon (O'Hara) to the burial site of her late husband. He feels she needs him because she has to cross Indian territory and, therein, lies another 'thing' about the movie. Every few miles they hear native American drum solos then, the camera pans to a meeaan-looking Indian and, that's it. Onward they go - more Krupa - more mean looks.

It's Apache territory - that's native American for 'film-need-patch. Back to the semi-plot. At first, of course, Keith and O'Hara stare daggers at each other and get into a couple of arguments. Later, of course, most is forgiven and they cozy up to one another. John Wayne has also argued with the Irish redhead, then cozied up. Those scenes are always more exciting, offering more oomph. Sorry, Keith fans, but your hero is 'oomph-less' in this pic.

When they get to the area where O'Hara's first husband is buried, they have a hard time finding the grave - a grave situation. But lo, and also behold, they find it. Yay.

There is a shootout, and guess who wins? At one point, while en-route, the wagon is overturned, so Keith gets out his trusty carpenter tools and fashions a flat piece of sturdy wood to carry whatever. And, there is the scene where the horse rears back after seeing a snake and, as you may imagine, our hero knocks if off with one bang.

When they get to the area where the grave is localed, Billy Keplinger (Steve Cochran) and Turk (Chill Wills) turn up to give the duo more trouble. It probably goes without saying, but Mr. Wills - as usual - steals the show. Someone should have made a movie with him co-starring with Marjorie Main.

Eventually, the grave is found. The 'about time' ending is near. O'Hara and Keith build a neat suburban home. He opens a hardware store, makes a lot of money - enough to send their two perfect children to a nice school. After graduation, the girl changes her name to Judy Garland, and the boy changes his name to Mickey Rooney. They take singin' and dancin' lessons and often perform for senior citizens.

You can watch "The Deadly Companions" if your day has been deadly dull. Then, you can re-read this review and mutter something like - "that Roberts don't know what he's talking about." Wouldn't be the first time. On the plus side, the Arizona scenery was beautiful and, beautifully photographed.

Maureen O'Hara's brother, James has a bit part as owner of a general store. He also helped with production of the pic; The little boy is played by Billy Vaughan - no relation to the famed conductor.

O'Hara didn't like Peckinpah, she noted in her bio. She claimed he was cruel to animals and, he spent a lot of time scratching his crotch. (Remember the old saying "if it itches, I scratches). Charlton Heston also had negative thoughts about Mr. P. In some areas, the title was changed to "Trigger Happy." I think that meant they liked Roy Rogers' horse.

O'Hara, who died recently at 95, divided her time between Hollywood, Ireland, and a Boise, Idaho ranch. She and Keith also co-starred in "The Rare Breed," and were beautifully matched in the first "Parent Trap" movie.

And, if you think my review was negative - get this: Mr. Peckinpah didn't like the movie. HA! I've been vindicated.

Watch the movie: The Deadly Companions —»

Five Minutes to Live - 1961

The Little Shop of Horrors"Five Minutes To Live." Johnny Cash, Donald Woods, Cay Forester, Pamela Mason, Merle Travis, Ron Howard. 1961.

You Have "Five Minutes To Live" and, since you have it, check the wild 'n wooly 1961 movie with that title and watch Johnny Cash, sociopath, turn his 'mean' on high. The film is noir at its 'noirest'. Watch JC threaten, sneer and press every button on his mean machine.

He heads a cast of interesting performers in the movie about a gangster who holds a woman hostage in her own home, while wily partner, Vic Tayback, as Fred Dorella (rhymes with gorilla) can't get thru on the phone to tell his partner that time is running out. It's kind of like a teevee quiz show when the emcee tells the contestant - "you have ----- minutes to give me the answer."

You see, his boss Dorella (Vic Tayback) is busy at the bank writing out a check for $70,000 from his account - but - he ain't got an account. Meanwhile, Johnny Cash as Johnny Cabot (similarity city) is busy at the home of the bank vice president. His task? Threaten and scare the hell out of the gent's wife. She is a phonic prisoner in her own suburban home. All will be well after Dorella gets the do-re-mi and calls Cabot and the two men do a Jackie Gleason i.e awaaay they go. Hallelujah, she is rid of vermin Cabot and her life returns to normal.

WRONG! Oh, no! If everything ran that smoothly we'd have a selected short subject instead of a movie. That phone line between bank and home is tied up and, you know, there is only a few minutes before her life and the movie's end.

The phone stays busy, though,and the baddies are probably cussing Alexander Graham Bell, and Don Ameche.

The plan was for the Dorella fella to get thru to his partner-in-crime. The nice housewife's hubby, Ken Wilson (pleasant looking Donald Woods) will tell the missus that all is well and, of course her nemesis will believe that everything is kopasetic. Then, the s.o.b.'s will take off for Vegas where they will probably lose the stash of cash (no, not Johnny) at the tables.

Everything going as planned? To quote Don Knotts: "Noop." If their seemingly foolproof plan works all will be well, but the phone is still buzzing busy and, it looks like Mrs. Veep - that's Cay Forester as Nancy Wilson (no, she doesn't sing)- is a goner. She might be history.

It's a loong five minutes. Cabot is still waiting for the call that will free nice Nancy, and let him get outta the house.

Frustration - because the bank adventure worked well, but the Veep home is still chillingly - er - disruptive. Now, why so many busy signals? One reason is that the cheating v. p.'s girlfriend (Pamela Mason as Ellen Harcourt) keeps calling. Another reason is that a yapping busybody lady is trying to talk Ellen into talking her hubby to become president of the PTA. So, the blankety-blank phone lines remain busy, and Ms. Housewife suffers for it.

Cabot is getting antsy and, the antsier he gets the meaner he gets. The busy signals continue, and Cabot is not even put on hold. No one tells him to stay on the line and someone with a foreign accent will help him. Cabot will continue to harass his 'prisoner'. She is a prisoner in her own home - a sure sign that she's married.

Mrs. Forester (whose brother works in the woods - a Forester forester) continues to be held hostage. But, hold on. Don't forget the Vice's vice - that other woman. That means we get a mental picture of Mr. Forester with a light bulb over his head.

He figures that his wife will be done away with and he will be able to join his gal pal, and they will be off and running.

The calls continue to tie up the phone, so Dorella still can't get through. Meanwhile, we find that Cabot has a weak spot -- kids! He didn't know that one of them will be home from school.

So, the vicious potential killer may be thwarted. The 'kid' is 6-year-old Ron Howard as Bobby Wilson and, as you well know, he is having a fantastic career as actor and exec in the moom pitcha business.

Finally, the wifey gets through and, quickly, the police arrive on the scene. In this film the 6-year old youngster acquits himself well, and you can see the potential.

Since I despise reviewers who feel it's their sworn duty to write the plot - I ain't gonna do it. But, I can tell you what you probably figured out. There is music. Cabot enters the veep's house, purportedly to give Mrs. Veep a helluva hard time. His secret for entry? He offers - get this - guitar lessons and, of course he is hauling the case around with the guitar inside.

In between threats to the Mrs., and having a jolly time destroying her precious vase collection, he catches his breath long enough to start pluckin' and chirping'. What does he sing? Check the movie's title.

Said movie belongs to Cash/Cabot. He is in just about every scene, and does an expert job of acting like a number one bad guy. At one point, the missus gets the idea to wear a sexy gown and lure our Christian friend. This is '61, so all we get is a quick shot of the bedroom and this fascinating remark by Cabot, "I like a messy bed." OOOooo.

Wifey, herself, manages to get a quickie call to the local gendarms. Once they arrive, there is gunplay galore. Carson grabs the kid and tries to use him as a lure to get the police to stop firing. What follows is quite interesting and, I think, innovative. Check it out. Watch, especially, what the youngster does. Beautiful!

There are plot holes here and there but, for the most part, this is an exciting movie and I guarantee, you will enjoy it. I do repeat - the acting is really good, but the movie belongs to the man in black. He dives, headlong, into being mean and miserable. The performance is A-1 on my chart - and on my steak.

A final note. In some scenes, Cash seems to be - to put it crudely - 'hamming' it up but, even in those scenes he is quite convincing. Whenever he is on screen, whatever he is doing -- I am convinced.

* * * *

The movie had three different titles, changing with each release. "Five Minutes To Live" was also "Door To Door Maniac" -- and -- "Door To Door Killer." I mentioned that the cast is quite interesting. Tayback, you should remember, was the boss of "Alice." And, you probably figured out that Pamela Mason was Mrs. James Mason. Golden Girl, Rue McClanahan has a small, teensy-weensy part. Watch for Pamela. Cash's buddy, singer-songwriter, Merle Travis portrays Max, a not-too-bright goofball.

Cay Forester, (Mrs. Wilson) co-wrote the screen play. Finally, get this, there are plans - pretty firm - of another version of "Five Minutes To Kill." Wesley Snipes is scheduled for the lead.

In the movie of Cash's life, Joaquin Phoenix portrayed our musical hero. Finally, all together now - his opening line on stage. He gets right to the point as he entered and always said, "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash." Justified applause always followed.

Watch the movie: Five Minutes to Live —»

The Little Shop of Horrors 1960

The Little Shop of Horrors"The Little Shop Of Horrors." Jonathan Haze, Jackie Joseph, Mel Welles, Dick Miller, Myrtle Vail, Karyn Kupcinet, and readassmallprint because he has such a small part - Jack Nicholson. 1960.

At last, finally, 'bout time, geez. I got to see the cult film of cult films, the end-all, see-all -- the ultra-infamous -- "LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS." I felt I was one of the few humans on Planet Earth that never got to see this crazy Roger Corman movie which, over the years, has been a staple of midnight showings on the big screen, and late night showings at home, while you cuddle with your 'pajama-ed' sweetie.

Worth the wait? Hell, yes. It is nuts-o, unique, wild 'n wooly and - bottom line - a piece of daffy fun. The movie was produced and directed by Corman - sort-of a double whammy. Is there a plot? Well, yes and no -- mostly no. Will you care? Not on your life, booby. The only thing resembling a story is that it concerns an ugly little plant that grows and grows and grows and grows and -- once more -- grows.

It is introduced to the world at Mushnick's Florist Shop located on Skid Row - home of many flower shops and boutiques. At first, it is a cute little thing - weird, but cute - sort-of like my first wife. Well, Welles - Mel Welles, that is, is a fussbudget who owns the shop and leans more toward orchids, roses and such - prettier than the plant, but not as interesting.

His lone employee is Seymore, and you 'see more' of him during the movie than just about anyone else. Seymore Krelboin of the Lower East Side Krelboins, is easily described as a nerd. He is fired, re-hired, fired, re-hired almost on a daily basis. Mushnick keeps Seymore on because a customer thought the little plant was unusual - so toothy Seymore is put in charge.

He is aided and abetted by his super-cute girl friend, Audrey Fulquard, of the East Side Fulquards, very nicely portrayed by Jackie Joseph. The movie is strange, and all the characters in it have strange names - Burson Fouch, Winifred Kolboin, Mrs. Siddie Shiva, Mrs. Hortense Fishwanger, Dr. Phoebus Farb, and Meri Welles.

The big surprise is Wilbur Force - not Wilberforce - and the actor is a very young, Jack Nicholson, seen for just a few minutes. Dr. Phoebus Farb, as played by John Herman Shaner, is also on for just a few minutes. He is the merciless drillin' dentist. The screaming patient is Kloy, who is also seen as the flower shop burgler. Charles B. Griffith is the one man double feature.

Back to the plant. Fouch brings it in. The actor is the munificent, Dick Miller, in the biggest role of his career. He is an actor who shows up almost everywhere and usually stays on screen for a few minutes.

Seymore feeds and nourishes the little planty (it's sort of cute, initially). He nurses it and all is fine until - the nasty little thing bites him - - just a nip at first but, as you probably know even if you've never seen this epic - it grows a little more each day. It grows and grows - whoops, I went thru that in paragraph two.

The more it grows, the meaner it becomes and, it becomes a talker with a one track mind. It keeps saying -"feed me, feed me, feed me." And, he ain't talkin' asparagus. This little devil has a taste for -- ta-da -- human flesh. The bigger he gets, the hungrier he gets, and the nastier his disposition.

If you've not seen this little movie gem there is no way I'm going to talk about the end and ruin it for you but, I will say that it's worth the wait. Oh, and pay attention to Detective Sergeant Joe Fink. He is the narrator -THE FINK.

Mr. Mushnick, by the way is, as I noted, portrayed by Mr. Mel Welles, who is also credited with co-writing this gem.

Get some of Jimbo's popcorn if you wish but, during this movie, you might darn well choke on it - and that's no (ch)joke.

* * * *

The movie was funny, but the short-lived cartoon version was not. "The Little Shop Of Horrors" was, however, an off-Broadway hit.

A couple of unhappy notes: Several of the original numbers were cut from this screen version and, speaking of cutting, the original ending was eliminated. Said original ending was on the gruesome side.

Watch the movie: The Little Shop of Horrors —»

The Wasp Woman 1960

The Road to Bali"The Wasp Woman." Susan Cabot, Anthony Eisley, Barboura Morris, William Roerick, Michael Mark. 1960.

If it's Roger Corman, it must be scary and, "The Wasp Woman" is - for about 10 minutes. If, however, you like 'campy' drive-in flicks, you should enjoy this. It is a 'talkie' - talk, talk, talk before you get to see Ms. W. W.

Very much on the plus side is the acting. Everyone in this film is excellent, particularly leading lady Susan Cabot who was in several Corman movies. In this flick she is middle-aged lovely but wants to be 'young-lovely' so, since no time machine is available she works out a deal with Michael Mark, who is Eric Zinthrop (where DO they get these names?) who is messing around with some kind of something that will do the trick.

Janice Starlin (Cabot) is the head (excuse the expression) knocker of a cosmetics company that is, financially, going downhill. What-to-do, what-to-do? As luck would have it old Zinthrop enters the scene. She is so impressed with his sales pitch she turns over a lotta space for his laboratory where, as far as we can see, he spends his time with bunnies and kitties. Seems he developed a serum, coming from nothing less than wasp enzyme, that makes the 'injectee' look younger. (Speaking of kitties, I could have done without the 'choking the cat') scene.

All well and good but, Miss Starlin gets piggish and 'over injects' herself. The result - big surprise - she turns into one big, ugly wasp, the bearer - sorry - of atrocious make-up. A lovely, friendly waspie she ain't. The nice 'White Anglo Saxon Protestant (WASP) becomes a 'wild angry stupid pest - WASP.

Meanwhile, Mark, who hits the mark as scientist Zinthrop, gets hit by a car and is temporarily out of commission. He is needed so that everyone will know that there may be an anti-serum.

So-o-o, the story is good but it takes soo-o-o long to get around to seeing the title character. Wasp-o may have seen one too many Dracula movies. She picked up his neck biting habit. That is followed by a strangely small amount of flowing blood. All told there are four hapless victims.

Somewhere toward the end of the movie, she may have repented. We see her wearing a large cross on her neck. As I noted, there is a lot of 'necking' in the movie, but not the old drive-in kind.

An interesting scene, to me, anyway, is when some of the office folk drive around NYC looking for the injured beekeeper/scientist. They drive past several post '60s cars - pretty clever for the year of 1960. Their first stop was West 73rd Street- 13 blocks past my high school.

One of the fun things about the movie are the variety of wise cracks by the office staff who are pretty (female) and handsome (male). They deliver their lines 'Thin Man' style.

I noted that the acting was quite good, and that even goes for the guy who portrayed a doctor. His name? Roger Corman. Bruno VeSota portrays the night watchman. Well, he doesn't do much -- I just like the name.

"The Wasp Woman" was passed over for an Academy Award nomination but - what the hey - you just might get a kick out of it.

* * * *

A few other weird films: "The Crab Monster," "The Giant Leeches," "The Haunted Sea Creatures," "Killer Shrews." Oh - a must, must see is - honestly, this is the title: "Frankenhooker." And, yes, sadly it, too, was passed over by the Academy.

* * * * *

The life of Miss Cabot would make an excellent movie. A Jewish girl from Boston, her early years were unbelievable. She was raised in 18 different foster homes. When she was in her early 20s she went to NYC and got a job as an illustrator. She got bit parts in movies, got signed by Columbia then skipped over to Universal.

She played in quite a few westerns - then quit showbiz. Back to NYC, then back to Hollywood. "The Wasp Woman," as I noted in my review, was her final movie. It is her personal life that is true-life frightening. She was married twice. There was a son, but each husband claimed paternity. Between marriages, her - er - boyfriend, for several years, was King Hussein of Jordan (and, no, I'm not making that up).

That son, Timothy Scott Roman, a dwarf, beat her to death in their home in Encino. The weapon of choice was a weightlifting bar. He was convicted of involuntary manslaughter. His grandmother praised the verdict.

If you want to read about another Hollywood tragedy, check the life of Frances Farmer.

Watch the movie: The Wasp Woman —»

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