We are here to bicker our way through pop culture for YOU.
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The Bickering Critics – Anita and George
We are here to bicker our way through pop culture for YOU.
As our blog gets bigger we suggest that you check out content by clicking on a “Category” to the right.
The Bickering Critics – Anita and George
A musical comedy starring a great opera singer and a raft of comedians, with two leading men and a journey from Paris to Africa and on to New York.
We start with Lucius B. Blynn (Edward Everett Horton) alone in his expensive Paris hotel room striking poses with his rifle. Then his press agent Corny (Jack Oakie) enters to tell him that the new discovery for the New York opera is ready for his approval. Her name is Suzette (Lily Pons) and she is currently singing at a night club. Blynn sneers and says he’s leaving for big game hunting in Africa, and did you get the lion? They move into the next room of the suite where a photographer is waiting, his camera already focused on the dead lion on the floor. Blynn is delighted with the lion and commends Corny, who says he’ll tell the taxidermist. Of course the lion is only sleeping.
Corny goes alone to the night club, and Suzette is a wow, singing a song that features a lot of the amazing trills Pons was famous for. The band leader, Jimmy (John Howard) considers her his girlfriend and wants her aboard when they leave for New York, promising her a big future. However, she really wants to sing opera, and yes, her ambitions include New York, but not the clubbing part of the city Jimmy knows. This leads to a disagreement over the next number, and she leaves the bandstand, and the room.
He follows and tries to persuade her and he succeeds.Then he overplays his hand and she walks out.
There’s a clarinetist in the band, Cosmo (Eric Blore), who adds to the laughs, and gets involved in the various plots as well.
Corny devises a plan to get Lucius to hear her sing, but it’s very involved. Corny and Lucius go to Africa and are on safari, but Suzette is in place to meet them at a waterhole in a part of the jungle crowded with birds. She is dressed all in feathers. Corny is in secret contact with her and when Blynn and his bearers get close enough, Suzette begins to sing exotic bird calls. Corny can communicate with her, by bird song of course, and introduces her to Blynn as Oogalunga, the Bird Girl. Hardly need to say, Blynn is entranced and wants to take her to New York immediately.
In New York there’s an opera buff, Mazzini (Eduardo Ciannelli), who wants to be her sponsor, so he and Blynn don’t get along, and Suzette misses Jimmy and wants to sing with the band as well as the opera. To introduce her to the opera crowd, Blynn hosts a performance by Suzette singing The Mad Scene from Lucia di Lammermoor by Donizetti. Really marvelous!
The film is light on its feet, almost trivial, and yet sufficiently fast-moving to keep the laughs coming.
Story by Robert Harari and Maxwell Shane, Screen Play by Gertrude Purcell and John Twist, Songs: Music by James McHugh and Lyrics by Harold Adamson, Musical Director Andre Kostelanetz, Directed by Raoul Walsh.
Episode 4: Henny Penny The Sky Is Falling
The episode begins with a married couple returning to their apartment after it has been used as a vacay by a firm whose rep is trying to calm them down. The renters were unusually destructive, and, among other things, left a poker sticking out of the wall. The furious husband grabs the thing and pulls without fully appreciating that he’s pulling on the poker end, not the handle. And while he struggles, the camera roams up into a crawl space and around and enters the adjoining apartment where the handle of the poker is sticking out of a young man who is now fairly firmly attached to the wall.
Detective Bell (Jon Michael Hill) calls Sherlock and Joan (Lucy Liu) over, and tells them the victim owns his apartment and his name is Russell Cole. Cole’s boss Mitch Barrett (Richard Thomas) tells Sherlock and Joan that he has no idea what Russell was working on: “I gave him a long leash because he always came back with gold.”
Turns out the case revolves around corporate competition of a radical nature: some want the asteroid belt over Earth to be destroyed before another extinction event occurs and man goes the way of the dinosaurs, and some want to mine the gold and other minerals the asteroids contain.
And at the same time Deputy Chief Prosky (Gordon Clapp) is setting up an award infrequently given, but given to an entire department, and this year it is finally going to Major Case. Captain Gregson (Aidan Quinn) cites the fact that civilian employees are included, but Prosky is giving him pushback. Gregson wants Sherlock and Joan included and Prosky does not. And naturally Sherlock agrees with Prosky.
Written by Bob Goodman, Directed by John Polson.
Episode 5: To Catch a Predator Predator
Joan is helping Shinwell (Nelsan Ellis) prep for an interview as a kitchen worker for a chain restaurant – and – a man in a motel room with wine chilling in a bucket is telling his wife he’s still in the office and has to work late. Well, he and his lies are only important because a predator of teenage girls is shot dead in the parking lot close enough to the building to crash through the lying husband’s first floor room window. The victim is found to have been lured there by a catfish – a man on the Internet posing as a young girl seeking sex. He has savagely beaten several men, but this is his first murder.
This catfish preys on predators, and as the investigation continues it looks more and more likely that the victim had not been lured there, but was the catfish himself.
Written by Tamara Jaron, Directed by Guy Ferland.
Episode 6: Ill Tidings
The title is from a line in Shakespeare’s “Anthony and Cleopatra” and has to do with delivering bad news.
Sherlock has been dating Fiona Helbron (Betty Gilpin) since several cases ago, but they have not seen each other for some time while she fulfills a work assignment in Pennsylvania. They regularly chat via Internet and here (before the credits) they arrange to meet halfway – at a place in New Jersey.
Then the episode actually begins at an upscale restaurant in New York City where Chef Joe Leshner (David Aaron Baker), a real bastard, is loudly berating one of his underlings for undercooking his mushrooms, and he tells her to remove her cranium from her anal aperture and do it again – right. She confides to a fellow under-cook that someday she’s going to murder that guy, and he replies, “Get in line.” Moments later the chef seems unwell, starts bleeding from his eyes, and drops dead.
Bell is testifying at a murder trial, so Gregson is at the restaurant crime scene. One of the cooks, Mateo Lima (Julian Acosta), is sick, and Sherlock is looking for the source of the inferred poison eaten by Chef Joe. He tastes several of the day’s dishes, but when he gets to the foie gras, view halloo, that’s it. He has picked up on the flavor of snake venom. Gregson asks what they can do for him, and Sherlock says nothing, it’s quite safe taken by mouth. Then why is Chef Joe dead? Because, look at this, and he points out very finely ground fiberglass which he had noticed and therefore only gingerly touched the stuff with his tongue. Similarly Lima, the fortunate underling who is sick and hospital-bound, only took a small taste. But before he’s trundled away he tells them that they had a reservation for a party of seven specifically requesting the restaurant’s specialty, a 13 dish tasting which included the foie gras.
Dr. Eugene Hawes (Jordan Gelber ) is back as Medical Examiner! And he says, “What a welcome! It’ll take weeks to compare knowns to the venom in the foie gras to identify the snake species used.”
But finding the seven people at that reserved table may be a better way to find the killer of Chef Joe. Only what they figure out is that the chef was collateral damage; the seven at the table were the target. They were all involved with Internet security and they’re all dead, so it appears an attack on the Web is coming.
Others involved: Ajit Dalai (Sendhil Ramamurthy) and Lillian Dunbar (Elizabeth Ward Land), who are questioned about Internet matters, and Mrs. Sydney Shea (Katie Kreisler) who was having an affair with one of the victims.
Also Detective Bell has a crush on a prosecuting attorney, Chantal Milner (Chasen Harmon) and his confiding to Sherlock opens Sherlock’s eyes to his own affair with Fiona.
Written by Jeffrey Paul King, Directed by Ron Fortunato.
MeTV has done it again and changed their line-up, staying true to form bringing back a blast from the past. They have added some really fun stuff: not only cartoons but some crime dramas that are the birth of today’s crime/investigation/drama. I love that they do that. Being a fan of laugh tracks and cheesy sitcoms, of course I watch MeTV. OH, I have mentioned I don’t have cable, dish, etc. haven’t I? MeTV is a staple to the analog follower. However what I love about them doing this is the nostalgia. I grew up watching these shows and if I wanted to change the channel I had to brave several feet of shag carpet to get to the channel dial on the TV. So I’m excited to remind you of some fun shows that don’t need any research just pure enjoyment.
As of recently (very recently) MeTV has added Dragnet (1951-1959), an American TV show based on an old radio series of the same name. Both created by Jack Webb. Dragnet is a term used by police when they are coordinating a system to catch a criminal. Lots of cloak and dagger stuff. Sgt. Joe Friday (Jack Webb) and Officer Frank Smith (Ben Alexander) and later in 1967 when the show made a come back with Officer Gannon (Harry Morgan) are the most awesome detectives. You can catch them in the early morning hours Monday through Friday. Once you hear that beginning strum of the theme song you know you are watching the very serious Friday. He cracks me up. If you only really recognize Harry Morgan as Colonel Potter (M*A*S*H) you will get a kick out of him as the equally serious side kick. Both characters go above and beyond to right the wrongs. It’s great!
Adam-12 (1968-1975) is in the afternoon line-up. In this drama LAPD Officers’ Pete Malloy (Martin Milner) and Jim Reed (Kent McCord) patrol a growing Los Angeles, California. There are around 174 episodes of this series so you can for sure get your fill before they start to re-run this re-run. Malloy and Reed have a comfortable partnership. You can tell both are friends and have each other’s back no matter what they face in the crime ridden streets of LA. Malloy is that charming single bachelor and Reed the serious married family man. They are the perfect duo. Good looking, heroes in blue. And the theme music Adam-12 is an ear worm, trust me.
What I wanted to point out why these are worth watching is not so much for the technique used in filming or exceptional acting per se. Mainly it boils down to these are some of the very first real crime docudramas as we watch them today. Both of these shows changed the names to protect the innocent but they were based on actual cases. They chronicled the daily lives of men who protected the city’s streets. The language and moral compass are extremely different from today’s bar. In some cases I think we have regressed; in many we have moved forward. As I’ve mentioned often art and life tend to mirror each other, this stands out strongly when you watch these two police dramas. I must have drawn 50 parallels and repeats and you will too. On a lighter note they are just fun to watch. So do it!
Like litle guy against the system movies? Especially when the system is rigged? Like suspense in your flicks? Like Jennifer Garner? So do I!
Riley North (Jennifer), her husband Chris (Jeff Hephner), and her little girl Carly (Cailey Fleming) are the central characters, and today has been an eventful day. They’re seriously short on money, and Chris (unknown to Riley) has accepted driver duty for a heist that will take place later. It’s Carly’s birthday and Riley has a party planned for her schoolmates. And a rich bitch, Peg (Pell James) is upset because of where Riley parked to pick up Carly at school. Peg hurls insults and makes herself look just as rude and unrefined as she is snooty.
Later, with Chris watching Carly, Riley returns from the store with the birthday cake to find Chris and Carly are the only ones there. “Where is everybody?” Chris nods toward the phone. Riley listens to the message, which is from Peg, and is a big brag about how everybody is at her house for her daughter’s impromptu party and don’t expect guests for poor Carly.
Well, Riley is a smart one and she wants Carly’s mind off this horrible mistreatment of a child, so they all go to the carnival. As they’re leaving the house Chris calls his buddy and opts out on the scheme.
Diego Garcia (Juan Pablo Raba), a drug dealer and boss of the robbery crew, says nobody opts out on him, and he sends some guys out with guns. The family has had a great time and as they head for their car, Diego’s hoods do a drive-by and kill Chris and Carly. Riley is seriously wounded (a headshot that misses the brain), but survives.
When she gets out of the hospital she starts going to identification lineups and they are really conducted fairly for the suspects: of the three men she has described, each one appears with four other guys, so there are three separate lineups, but Riley ID’s the three easily. Then at the trial Diego owns the defense attorney and Judge Stevens (Jeff Harlan), so the trial ends in dismissal. The two detectives helping her through this are Stan Carmichael (John Gallagher Jr.) and Moises Beltran (John Ortiz). And years later an FBI agent, Lisa Inman (Annie Ilonzeh), will help out too.
Riley disappears to Europe for five years and comes back a fighting machine and a potent force for justice, ready to take Diego down.
The suspense approaches unbearable twice: first when she actually infiltrates Diego’s secret location, and again when she surrenders herself to Diego to save another little girl.
A super movie – for adults only.
Written by Chad St. John, Directed by Pierre Morel.
Great acting by a great cast in a very depressing movie.
Clint Willart (Brandon deWilde) arrives in the Florida Keys by bus to find his brother, Berry-Berry Willart (Warren Beatty). He walks to the really nice-looking hotel where Berry-Berry is working and is told, “He ain’t here. He’s in jail, Thank God.” Then the man directs Clint to a bar where he should ask for Hedy. He finds Hedy (Evans Evans) and she lifts the hair hanging over her forehead to expose the scar, that took 9 stitches to close, where Berry-Berry threw her across the bar-room and she crashed into the television set. Then the bartender throws Clint out for being under-age.
He goes to the jail, and we (and the jailer) find out that Berry-Berry requested his brother visit so Clint could bring him $200 to buy a shrimp boat. The jailer then says he can release Berry-Berry for $200 bail.
They hitch to a bar where Mrs. Mandel (Constance Ford) gets a look at B-B, and promptly hires him to help crew her husband’s yacht. The brothers say goodbye and Clint uses money B-B cons out of Mrs. Mandel to take a bus home.
When Clint gets home his parents, Annabel and Ralph (Angela Lansbury and Karl Malden) are glad to see him, but still the first words out of their mouths are about B-B. Is he okay? Did he buy the boat? Clint breaks away and goes to bed.
Then Annabel’s friend Bernice calls to say that her daughter Echo (Eva Marie Saint) is coming to town for Christmas, and Annabel insists that Echo stay with them.
In the meantime B-B has taken up with a school teacher (Barbara Baxley), whom he assaults in a bar. So he’s in jail again. And Ralph and Clint drive south to bail him out.
And now he meets Echo.
Berry-Berry is a complete waste of space and maybe a psycho, driven mad by Annabel’s obsessive clinging love (which she doesn’t show to Clint). But he’s still totally unsympathetic, despite the fact that his looks draw women like flies to Jello. And his final destination is tragedy, not for him, but for those who care for him.
Based on the Novel by James Leo Herlihy, Screen Play by William Inge, Directed by John Frankenheimer.
Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) are in Ixtenco, Mexico looking at the ruined village and Maria says, “There’s nothing we can do here. We don’t fight the weather.” And Nick reminds her, “The locals say the cyclone had a face.”
Two aliens appear and despite the fact that they do look like storm clouds, Nick starts firing at them.
Cut to a video tribute made by Jason Ionello (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.) and Betty Brant (Angourie Rice): “in memoriam” which shows photos of Tony Stark, a man I didn’t recognize, Scarlet Witch, and Tony again. The video continues with Betty saying,. “Over five years ago half of all life in the universe. including our own Midtown High, was wiped from existence. But then eight months ago a band of brave heroes brought us back. They called it The Blip. Those of us who blipped came back the same age. But our classmates who didn’t blip had grown five years older.” Jason says that now he’s younger than his little brother, and Betty says that even though when we blipped it was halfway through the school year, the school board made them start the first half of the year over again.
Cut to Peter Parker (Tom Holland) and Ned Leeds (Jacob Batalon) talking about the class trip to Europe and Peter’s plan to tell MJ (Zendaya) how he feels. And Ned says, “Don’t do any of that. We’re gonna be in Europe, man!”
Nick Fury was blipped, but now that he’s back he introduces Peter to Maria, Dimitri (Numan Acar) and Quentin Beck, or “Mysterio” (Jake Gyllenhaal). They know that the aliens are Elementals, creatures made of Earth, Wind, Fire, and Water. And they know that Fire is due in Prague in 48 hours, so Nick has the high school group diverted to Prague, a fact that confuses the two teachers in charge of the students, Mr. Harrington (Martin Starr) and Mr. Dell (JB Smoove). Nick also gives Peter “Edith”, a pair of glasses with special properties.
Boy, is this movie packed with action and surprises!
Based on the Marvel Comic Book by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, Written by Chris McKenna & Erik Sommers, Directed by Jon Watts.
Mr. William Cardew of Lowndes and Cardew, Publishers, drowned a year ago, and Mr. Henry Lowdes (Melvyn Douglas) is notifying staff that the firm is now Henry Lowndes. Publisher. But his secretary Miss Gertrude Houlihan (Dorothy Peterson) cannot maintain her office manner. She asks if Henry has told Mrs. Lowndes (Vicky, played by Jean Arthur) that he is removing Cardew’s name. After all, she was Mrs. Cardew before she was Mrs. Lowndes, and she has expressed her pleasure to Miss Houlihan that Henry has kept William’s name on the firm.
Henry is upset and considers her comment intrusive criticism and none of her business. He goes into Cardew’s old office and tells Houlihan to stop the staff from using it as a dumping ground. “We could put two or three of our readers in here.”
Then he sees a photo of Vicky and Bill on their honeymoon, and after Houlihan leaves he tears it up. Unknown to him Vicky has arrived to take him to lunch and she has seen him rip the picture. However, she isn’t upset at all and they start to leave to eat.
But WE have seen the photo, and it shows that Bill is played by Fred MacMurray. And there you have the title of the movie: he can’t be dead, he got second billing. And sure enough, he calls from Norfolk that he is on his way home (he has been rescued from an island by the Coast Guard).
Entertaining, but ultimately more silly than funny, and Vicky, who holds all the power, is quite incapable of making up her somewhat feeble mind, at least until the last reel.
Best line: Vicky’s father George (Harry Davenport), after the two husbands have left in a small rage: “If they’re going to do something desperate, let’s get a good night’s sleep. Then tomorrow we can call the morgue.”
Based upon the play by W. Somerset Maugham, Screen Play by Claude Binyon, Directed by Wesley Ruggles.
Episode 1: Folie a Deux
After a truly shocking start, Joan (Lucy Liu) and Sherlock (uninvolved so far) are catching the murderer of Yanis. “I didn’t want to kill Yanis. I loved him. He introduced me to my wife, for crying out loud.”
Then they join Gregson (Aidan Quinn) and Detective Bell (Jon Michael Hill) in a park in Flushing where a murder has been committed. Sherlock sees a man acting suspiciously and chases him. Unfortunately Sherlock is hit by a car and loses the dude. However, he holds a taxi (not the car that hit him) very much against the drivers will until Bell and Joan arrive. And the prints of the guy he chased are definitely in the system. The man’s name is Nathan Resor (Matthew Del Negro). As the case proceeds Joan runs into a former addict she knows, Shinwell Johnson (Nelsan Ellis), now working in a gym doing scutwork, and ex-con Cray Fielder (Lee Tergesen) gets pulled in for questioning.
Plus, if you chew gum in the manner Sherlock suggests, you might improve your cognitive function.
Written by Robert Doherty and Jeffrey Paul King, Directed by Christine Moore.
Episode 2: Worth Several Cities
Joan has found Shinwell a place to live for free if he does minor but regular jobs for the common areas and the other tenants. So he’s left that crappy gym job. That’s good, but the bad: Sherlock has been kidnapped by Halcon Zelaya (Jon Huertas), the head of Mara Tres New York branch, and shown an arrangement of dead bodies in a storage area. Holmes is saying something about their being unable to kill him without direct consequences, but Zelaya says he doesn’t want to kill him, he wants to hire him to find out who did this to his men. The chief of the dead men, Rey Torres, was probably the chief target. Halcon says that Rey brought things into this country, things Halcon needs to do his business. Holmes: “He was a smuggler then.” Holmes studies the place and concludes that the killers stole methamphetamines, and that Torres was pistol whipped to force him to give up the hiding place (which Holmes finds easily).
The case gets bigger daily, and comes to involve the Imperial Jade Seal of China, political dealing over land in China, and representatives from several Asian countries.
Written by Robert Hewitt Wolfe, Directed by Guy Ferland.
Episode 3: Render, and Then Seize Her
Paige Cowan (Virginia Madsen), Gregson’s girlfriend who has MS, wants to hire Sherlock, but to keep it absolutely secret. She thinks the nice ladies at the front desk of her doctor’s office are running off extra copies of her paperwork (doctor’s notes, prescriptions, etc.) because people who shouldn’t, seem to know about her condition and treatment. And the ladies have started sporting expensive jewelry.
Sherlock breaks into the office in the middle of the night and makes copies of every piece of paper in the place. But he and Joan have no chance to start reading – Bell calls to get their help on a murder at a nudist colony. The victim is Kenneth Tolan, and they had to get that information from the woman who runs the colony because obviously Kenny didn’t have any ID on him. He did have his phone, which contains pictures taken through the window of one of the cabins showing a woman being kidnapped. So the theory is that the kidnapper caught Kenny filming and killed him (and left the phone? Must have been in a quite a hurry).
Now as they look for the woman, Beth Stone (Kim Director), they learn a lot about her husband Aaron Stone (Zachary Knighton) and their business. A very interesting case.
Plus there’s the thing about Paige’s doctor, which culminates with Sherlock urging Gregson to marry her.
Written by Jason Tracey, Directed by Alex Chapple.
As Hallmark shifts the major focus from Christmas movies to Winter movies, we move on as well, though I can’t guarantee more Winter movies than this one, which is a very good example and also a very good movie.
Chelsea Whitmore (Lacey Chabert) is recognized by all her coworkers as the best event planner on staff. Unfortunately, her boss Trish Simmons (Constance Marie), brusque, self-absorbed, doesn’t agree. In a meeting of the whole staff Chelsea is about to present her plan for an event for a new music company, which will be held at a ballroom in the Swiss Alps, and Chelsea’s plan calls for converting the ballroom into an Ice Palace. Just as Chelsea begins, Trish jumps up and leaves to take a call. Then another attendee, also a planner, leaves.
Vienna North (Marla Renae) tries to cheer Chelsea by telling her that the whole staff knows she’s the best, and one of them actually overheard Trish mention the newly created position of Directer of Event Development and Chelsea’s name in the same sentence.
Well, they should have listened to the whole paragraph, because when Trish calls Chelsea into her office it’s to tell her that Trish wants her to “welcome the new hire and get him up to speed on our procedures – you’ve heard of Danny Abernathy?”
But at lunch something to pick up her spirits: the will of her Uncle Grady, who died several months ago, has finally been probated, and he left her a chalet in Vail, Colorado. So she has the pleasure of calling for a meeting with Trish – and quitting.
She drives up to Vail (not just in elevation: she’s coming from L.A.), and is met downtown by a guy she considers totally unwelcoming. He tells he she has parked illegally and threatens her with Kevin, the local policeman who keeps tourists straight on all the signage.
Next she meets Karl Becker (Greg Lawson), owner of a restaurant called Edelweiss, whose welcome makes up for that first guy, Molly (Sage Kitchen) who is a waitress at the Edelweiss, and then Bev Hankins (Karen Barker) the real estate agent who is waiting for her at the chalet with the key. Bev warns that Grady died in the middle of remodeling, and that stopped the work. They go inside and find more than saw horses and drop cloths – the heating is on the fritz. So Bev calls the contractor to hurry over and fix it. Of course he’s the guy who harasses tourists, Owen Becker (Tyler Hynes), Karl’s son.
She also meets Hans (SSE) who plays accordion for the Edelweiss, and Rob (Chris Cook) who is Owen’s helper in his contracting business.
Chelsea makes discoveries about Uncle Grady that tighten her bond with the town (and Karl), and eventually decides to plan an event for the original part of Vail, which has been overshadowed by the new areas.
A nice bit: Owen, looking at Chelsea from across the room, says,”She’s really something, isn’t she?” And Karl and Bev do a coordinated double-take.
Written by Delondra Mesa and Duane Poole, Directed by Terry Ingram.