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The Bickering Critics – Anita and George

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Jessie Matthews in “It’s Love Again” (1936) – reviewed by George

Elaine Bradford (Jessie Matthews) auditions for the important producer Mr. Raymond (Ernest Milton) in his flat and he pays no attention at all until a much older actress arrives to visit, and Raymond, who at a public audition had announced his decision to quit the theater and join a monastery, now is suddenly alive and enthusiastic. He wants this older woman to star in his new show, which now is on again. Elaine turns to Raymond’s live-in accompanist Woolf (Warren Jenkins) and asks what has she got that I don’t, and Woolf replies “Hardening of the arteries”.
Freddy Rathbone (Sonnie Hale) used to be a society reporter for the Daily Record, but was so beaten scoop-wise by the Tribune’s Gerald Montague (Cyril Raymond) that he was fired and now works for and lives with his replacement Peter Carlton (Robert Young). Peter lives right across the hall from Mr. Raymond, so when Elaine leaves the semi-audition she runs into Peter on the landing, and they meet.
At a society party which Freddy crashes while Peter stays home, Freddy tries to interview the latest craze, a painter who paints scenes on rich people’s bedroom ceilings, and is warned off by Montague who reveals his secret: the painter is only a celebrity because Montague found him and made him one, and other journalists better stay away. So Freddy goes home and tells Peter they have to make up somebody to write about that nobody else can ever find any scoop on, because they’re imaginary. So the guys invent a society woman/adventuress who flies her own plane all over India and Persia, shoots tigers, and is involved with the Maharajah of (they stick a pin in a map of India) Mira-something I didn’t understand. I got the first try, when Freddy stuck the pin below the actual map that Boys (Robb Wilton), Peter’s valet, was holding, and asked Boys where the pin went. Boys replied “In my tummy, sir”, and Freddy turned to Peter and said “The Maharajah of Inmatummysah”. They decide on the name “Mrs. Smythe-Smythe”, and they have created a permanent job for themselves. The sales of the Daily Record increase and Mrs. Smythe-Smythe is on the minds of the whole population.
So now Elaine decides to BE Mrs. Smythe-Smythe, and to parlay the attention she expects to get into a stage role. She calls a male friend and tells him to make reservations at this very high-toned nightclub, where they dance together and make a huge splash. Now Peter is worried; his child of the imagination is walking around London out of his control.
The film is a bit silly, but the humor and especially the production numbers more than make up for that. I was especially impressed by “I’m Gonna Dance My Way To Heaven In Your Arms”, which was staged as an impromptu audition in a public park, with all the passersby joining in on the singing. Another triumph for Ms. Matthews.
Music and Lyrics by Sam Coslow and Harry Woods, Musical Score by Louis Levy & Bretton Byrd, Dances Arranged by Buddy Bradley, Original Screenplay by Marion Dix and Lesser Samuels, Directed by Victor Saville.

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TV Quote # 68 – Good Witch, Season 4, Episode 4, “Family Time”

Sam (James Denton):  What are you drinking?
Cassie (Catherine Bell):  Green tea with honey and almond milk.
Sam:  Exactly why you’ll never hear me say, ‘I’ll have what she’s having.’

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To Catch a Thief (1954) – reviewed by George

Highly entertaining and beautifully photographed, with a really smashing score, Alfred Hitchcock’s 42nd film unflaggingly kept my interest. The film begins with shots of women screaming right into the camera that their jewels have been stolen, and then cleverly intercuts shots of black-gloved hands doing the stealing (one with the jewels being removed from under the pillow of a sleeper), with shots of a black cat walking on roofing. An Art Buchwald column is shown that asks if Le Chat is back, and says he must be because the crimes are exactly in his style.
Le Chat, jewel thief extraordinaire of the French Riviera, has come out of retirement! Except that he has not. John Robie (Cary Grant), American hero of the French Resistance, was The Cat some years ago right after the War, but when he had enough money to  live on for a very long time, he quit. And he regards this imitator as a real problem because he himself  could be imprisoned for this new activity.
Robie is working on his plantings (all in pots or boxes on his huge courtyard patio) when he sees a car racing up the mountain road to his home. He goes inside, warns the housekeeper, and goes to an upper floor where he can see the arrival. The car stops, four men get out, and the driver backs up out of view. Two men go to the front door, the other two around the house to cut off escape. Robie comes down to greet the men and they say they are from the Surete, and they believe he can provide them with information. They want him to come with them to a formal interview at the office in Nice. He pulls a trick so great that it is two tricks and gets on a bus going down the mountain. He chooses the far back of the bus and finds himself seated between a woman with a huge birdcage – and a celebrity you will recognize.
He gets off the bus at a restaurant with outdoor seating and an ocean view. The place is run by and staffed with his old friends from the Resistance and he expects help, but encounters resistance (ha-ha): seems his friends are always the first suspected when any crime is committed, and they are tired of it. However, the owner Bertani (Charles Vanel), gets the head waiter Foussard (Jean Martinelli) to get his daughter Danielle (Brigitte Auber) to use their boat to take Robie to the beach club in Cannes.
Here he meets an insurance agent Hughson (John Williams) who is willing to believe his story, and help him with a list of the most valuable jewels in the area presently. Robie will watch and protect them in secret and hopefully catch the new Cat. The first choice is the rich American Mrs. Stevens (Jessie Royce Landis), the one with the diamonds and the daughter, Francie (Grace Kelly). And a love triangle develops between Robie, Francie, and Danielle.
The movie is basically an adventure-romance, but with Robie hiding on a roof expecting Le Chat there is an orchestral sound when Robie hears someone else on the roof, and the suspense has begun with only six-and-a-half minutes left. A real achievement and fun to boot.
Music Scored by Lyn Murray, Based on the Novel by David Dodge, Screenplay by John Michael Hayes, Directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

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Dancing with the Stars-Reviewed by Anita **

If you are wondering why I went from negative stars to 2 stars, I believe it is because it is over.  Last night’s final show was a bit better than I expected, but it was still bad.  I just do not see this as ballroom level.  I’ve watched lots of ballroom competitions over the years and have even taken a class or two in college, so I do understand ballroom.  This show is a circus.  Don’t get me wrong: the dancing is fun and they have talent on the show, however, it is not ballroom. It is too noisy for one thing, the costumes are big-tent caliber, and  that Bruno should not be a judge.  Will I watch next season?  Doubtful, unless there is nothing on Monday night and this show hits me like a train wreck you can’t turn away from.  In the mean-time I’m glad to play ‘Taps’ for the good-bye season 26.

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Black Panther (2018) – reviewed by George

Spectacular in every way: sets (some CGI), outdoor settings (some CGI), costumes, fights, performances, and so satisfying on an action level, but also on a teaching level. Talk about entertaining, and this is it.
T’Chaka, the King of Wakanda, has died and his son T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) is about to take the throne, but first comes Challenge Day, when any citizen can challenge the new king’s right to the throne and if he wins in mortal combat, can take the throne himself. We see various delegations step forward and follow the ritual: “The Merchant Tribe will not challenge today.” “The Border Tribe will not challenge today.” The River Tribe will not challenge today.” The Mining Tribe will not challenge today.”
And then, “M’Baku of Jabari will challenge today.”
And after T’Challa wins the challenge we learn that Wakanda is startlingly modern, with incredible technology based on a mineral found within their borders: vibranium, whose properties could easily win any war.
However, problems begin with the arrival in Wakanda of T’Challa’s cousin, his father’s brother’s son, named Erik but preferring to be called Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), who challenges the king to combat and wins. And Erik has previously helped Ulyyses Klaue (Andy Serkis) steal a vibranium hammer from a British museum, with considerable loss of life. And at a club in South Korea, where T’Challa hopes to capture Klaue, since his friend W’Kabi (Daniel Kaluuya) reports that that is where he can be found, you will see Martin Freeman as an argumentative CIA agent and Stan Lee as a dishonest gambler.
Also in the cast: Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) T’Challa’s ex, who attends the coronation with his mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett) and younger sister Shuri (Letitia Wright), and Zuri the shaman (Forest Whitaker). The bad uncle N’Jobu is played by Sterling K. Brown.
And you’re gonna love the midway-through-the-closing-credits scene where Wakanda joins the United Nations! The last line here is priceless.
Written by Ryan Coogler & Joe Robert Cole, Directed by Ryan Coogler.

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Wonder Woman (2017) – reviewed by George

It sounds strange, but it’s true: I had literally read nothing about this movie before watching it. I knew of Gal Gadot, but all other casting was unknown to me.
Well, this is a super superhero (or superheroine) movie with tons of great effects, solid performances, and a director who really knows what she’s doing.
Diana, very appealing child princess of the Amazons (Lilly Aspell), is the daughter of Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen), and really wants to be treated more like an adult. Even when she’s 12 (Emily Carey), she wants to hurry her Amazon training along, and the great warrior Antiope (Robin Wright) obliges, with the Queen’s somewhat grudging and regretful assent.
Then one day when she’s a young adult (Gal Gadot), a plane crashes in the ocean near the island. As it breaks up, the pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), is caught in the wreckage and is drowning. Diana dives in and saves him. Unfortunately his plane has been followed by a boatload of German soldiers, who try to kill him and thereby have to attack the Amazons. After the battle Steve tells the Amazons of a Great War that is taking place and involving almost the entire world, with fateful consequences for the whole world if the wrong side wins. Diana wants to go fight, but Hippolyta discourages her and then tries to stop her altogether, but Diana leaves with Steve, on a mission to find and defeat Ares, the God of War, whose desire is to destroy mankind and return the world to the gods. Or at least to himself, since it seems all the other gods are gone.
Steve has obtained a notebook that details the plans of one Ludendorff (Danny Huston), who is working with a scientist, Dr. Maru, or “Dr. Poison” (Elena Anaya), on a gas that will, upon release, kill everybody within a very large radius. The British must have this information ASAP, so Steve and Diana make their way to London and hand it over to Sir Patrick (David Thewlis), who is actually working hard on an Armistice, so is not too hot about winning the war by destroying the production of this gas.
Steve and Diana pick up some confederates, Sameer or Sammy (Said Taghmaoui), Charlie (Ewen Bremner), and Chief (Eugene Brave Rock), and strike out for the Front, called No Man’s Land. The battle on the Amazon Island was already fantastically staged and executed; now we get battles with the German army, with Ludendorff, and with the guards at the poison production plant. A really wonderful action movie, filled with excitement and surprises, that cannot fail to please.
Story by Zack Snyder & Allan Heinberg and Jason Fuchs, Screenplay by Allan Heinberg, Directed by Patty Jenkins.

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Dancing With The Stars current season-Reviewed by Anita 0.**

Has any one been watching Dancing with the Stars?  Sadly, I have.  The last competition is Monday night (05-21-18), and it has been a very long four weeks.  This season’s competitors have been athletes, and they have not been ballroom standard to say the least.  This show has been running 26 seasons so you would expect a certain level of structure and class.  Well, not this season!  I’ve listed the cast in the tag below so I won’t bore you with that here, instead I’d like to bring ya up to speed for tomorrow night’s big bang.

Highlighting a few of the athletes you might have missed, I’d like to start with everybody’s favorite basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (from here on KAJ). Giant JOKE!  His first appearance he wasn’t dancing, rather the dancing ‘staff’ twirled around his freakish self.  All dressed in gold, what a spectacle that was; ballroom dancers globally threw up a little bit.  When KAJ and his partner did a salsa it was laughable.  This is usually a sexy, fast paced dance; however these two managed to make it look like it belonged under the big tent.  KAJ’s partner was sitting on top of the shoulders of a fellow dancer making her taller.  The only real talent demonstrated here was the dancer on the bottom.  She had to keep up while being under a big, ruffled skirt.  No air.  No vision.

Tonya’s breakdown the first night was a weak attempt at gaining sympathy.  With that being said, sympathy is the very thing she needed.  If you haven’t been taking care of yourself high definition TV is just the medium you want to avoid.  Wow… Dancing with the Stars is her avenue to being back in competition.  If you remember her little stunt back in the 80’s when she had Nancy Cardigan taken out of Olympic figure skating competition, you will also recall Harding was given a life-time ban from figure skating competitions.  Amazingly Harding has managed to stay on board till tomorrow night. America has been kind to her.

Ballroom has very elegant dress.  Men in sharp tux and woman draped in lace and silk all pooled around delicate complicated steps.  This season Arike Ogunbowale graced the floor in tennis shoes.  Granted they were shiny, but something tells me Ginger Rodgers would rather die then step on the floor in something so common.   For some reason this season’s male dancers don’t feel the same need to be presented so well dressed.  Hell, they don’t even feel the need to button up the shirt they have on. Or I should say they ‘kind of’ have on.

In all fairness the figure skaters Mirai Nagasu and Chris Mazdzer do show some real talent.  Only if I could just like one of them… Mirai has the kind of personality presence that says “hey, I’m so Hello Kitty cute”, but not really.  Chris, WEAR A SHIRT ALWAYS please.  NFL cornerback Josh Norman is actually pretty good.  It’s kind of OK he doesn’t button his shirt all the way up.  I’m on the fence about a romance between him and partner Sharna Burgess. They both appeared to be enamored with each other from first meeting.  Could be some good gossip there; keep in mind you read it first here.

Monday night it all comes to a head with the remaining dancers.  Like I said it has been a long four weeks.   I hope you will tune in.  If you missed any I know you can check them out online.  I hope you do.  I will be front row in my living room watching with a mixture of disgust and amazement, wondering how are the real ballroom dancers dealing with this?

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Girls Trip (2017) – reviewed by George

Four girlfriends, known in college as the Flossy Posse, have not gotten together for five years, but that means nothing now that they are together again – they are still the Flossy Posse: Ryan Pierce (Regina Hall), Sasha Franklin (Queen Latifah), Lisa Cooper (Jada Pinkett Smith), and Dina (Tiffany Haddish). They are in New Orleans for the Essence Festival, which is fun for three, but a work opportunity for Ryan and her husband Stewart (Mike Colter) who are a brand, mixing commentary and endorsements. They are wildly popular and their agent Elizabeth Davelli (Kate Walsh) has accompanied them. Sasha is also an important online personality blogging about everyone well-known.
One of the first bumps is Dina’s discovery that Stewart is having an affair – there are pictures online. There is disagreement: should Ryan be told? Well, of course, but here, where she and Stewart are publicizing their strong marriage and enlarging their fame (and money)? And who is to blame for the appearance of the pictures anyway? Sasha suspects the girl, but when Ryan finally does find out, she suspects Sasha.
Can the posse survive? Hey, can the marriage survive? Well, we’re pretty sure that sisterhood will win, but a little doubtful that Stewart will. Especially after Julian Stevens (Larenz Tate), who used to be crazy about Ryan, turns out to be in town.
A film about friendship and marriage and the role that fame and money can play in both, and also about how comfortable money can make you (or not) in the face of disillusion.
Well-made, well-acted, with important things to say. And you’re gonna like the zip line that goes from one hotel to another across a busy city intersection!
Story by Erica Rivinoja and Kenya Barris & Tracy Oliver, Screenplay by Kenya Barris & Tracy Oliver, Directed by Malcolm D. Lee.

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The Man from U.N.C.L.E.: Season Two, Disc Nine (1966) – Reviewed by George

# 25: The King of Diamonds Affair
In a tea shop in Soho a Cockney girl breaks a tooth on a piece of glass and raises a stink, as indeed she should. But a jeweler having lunch identifies the “glass” as a diamond, worth three to four hundred pounds.
Since the diamond was in a tin of Pogue’s Plum Pudding, Napoleon and Illya (Robert Vaughn and David McCallum) visit Pogue’s factory and are told off by Miss Victoria Pogue (Nancy Kovack) – nothing could ever contaminate Pogue’s Puddings. When they leave they are followed and cut off by a fleet of identical cars, only escaping by crashing through a store front. As their mild head injuries are being tended to, Mr. Waverly (Leo G. Carroll) catches them up on the case. Victoria will be left to the London office; what he really wants to know is who is rocking the world market for diamonds and why. Conventional wisdom says the diamonds flooding the market are Brazilian, but U.N.C.L.E.’s research people say that the diamonds are from the Peacock mines in Africa, and they have identified the buyer: Sir Percival Peacock (Gregory Morton) himself, who insists that his diamonds all are still in his vault, and since his inventory is worth billions he can afford to spend a few millions removing the Brazilian stones, which are the only ones ever to so closely resemble his, from circulation. And he seems open enough and shows them his heavily-guarded vault. The guys tell Waverly that they need another look at that vault, and he sends them to an authority in that line of endeavor, Rafael Delgado, also known as the Count de Foix, and Dapper Dan of Transatlantic Lines (Guest Star Ricardo Montalban). They go to see Rafael in prison, masquerading as a Hollywood producer and his head writer. The problem being that Delgado has spotted them as law enforcement immediately. He plays along until he’s bored, then throws them out.
How they get him to join them, and what they find, make up the rest of the episode.
Story by Edwin Blum, Teleplay by Edwin Blum and Leo Townsend, Directed by Joseph Sargent.

#26: The Deephole Affair
Thrush attempted to kidnap one of the top two experts on sedimentation in the world, but he was killed in the attempt, so now they are after the other man, Dr. Remington (Ralph J. Rose). Unfortunately for Thrush, but a break for U.N.C.L.E., while Thrush is watching Remington’s hotel and getting ready to move, a four-flusher named Buzz Conway (Guest Star Jack Weston) is leaving out his window because he can’t pay the bill. They take Buzz, thinking he is Remington, and he is smart enough to play along. Amusing that he took college geology, so he can actually tell them what to do about their drill. In the meantime Solo and Kuryakin are hiding Remington, trying to save Conway, and getting closer to finding Narcissus Darling (Guest Star Barbara Bouchet) who is in charge of the project, but is reporting to a senior Thrush exec, Marvin Elom (Leon Askin). Does Narcissus resent Elom? She doesn’t seem very happy to be taking orders, and almost seems to welcome U.N.C.L.E.’s interference.
Lots of action and a nice explosion.
Written by Dean Hargrove, Directed by Alex March.

#27: The Round Table Affair
Knighthood is in flower again – well, sort of, as Solo and Kuryakin tackle gangsters in the castle, when they learn that Prince Fredrick (Reginald Gardiner) of Ingolstein has taken advantage of the fact that his small country has no extradition agreements with anybody and has welcomed a criminal class that pays very well. What he doesn’t know is that the very worst bad guy, Lucho Nostra (Also Starring Bruce Gordon), is tired of paying rent and wants to own Ingolstein and charge rent. As a first step Solo goes to Victoria Adelaide Dagmar Alexandra Maude Xenia (Valora Noland), twenty-third sovereign ruler of the duchy, who works in another country and has no idea what her uncle has been up to. When she finds out, she and our two agents arrive in Ingolstein, which seems to be a small to medium-sized town with a stone wall around it. “Vicky” meets Artie King (Special Guest Star Don Francks), sort of the brains of the operation, who figures there must be a better way to stay put, than killing Vicky and Fredrick, and Lucho says, “Sure, marry her. Then you’ll be regent.” Artie would rather die than give up his single status, but Lucho has established himself as boss, and he has all the gunmen with him.  So Napoleon and Illya encourage Artie to put on armor and fight Lucho to the death. Looks like Artie is gonna die no matter what.
Funny and silly, but sure to please.
Story by Henry Slesar, Teleplay by Robert Hill, Directed by E. Darrell Hallenbeck.

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Basil of Baker Street as Sherlock Holmes in “The Great Mouse Detective” (1986) – reviewed by George

Yes, the human Sherlock has a bit, too small to be called a cameo and too small to mess up my title. The only reason it’s interesting (okay, there are two) is that the voice is that of Basil Rathbone, lifted from a 1966 vocal performance of a Holmes story, and it establishes that Basil the mouse detective lives in 221B; he just enters through the foundation.
This film is delightful, fresh (in both senses of the term), funny, exciting, and in places, touching. I really love and admire this Walt Disney animated movie.
London, 1897: the Queen’s Jubilee, 60 years of rule celebrated by both queens, Queen Victoria and the Mouse Queen. And that quintessential villain Professor Ratigan (voice of Vincent Price) has plans to take the throne (the mouse one, don’t let’s be silly). His first step is to kidnap the toymaker Flaversham (voice of Alan Young), and get him working on the grand centerpiece of the plot, a robotic Mouse Queen. However, since the bat with a crippled wing and a peg leg, Fidget (voice of Candy Candido), is assigned to the kidnapping, it is anything but subtle and is witnessed by Flaversham’s young daughter Olivia (voice of Susanna Pollatschek), who knows exactly what to do: get Basil of Baker Street on the case. At the same time Dr. David Q. Dawson (voice of Val Bettin) has just arrived in London back from Afghanistan and is looking for affordable lodging. He and Olivia meet in the street and he helps her find Basil (voice of Barrie Ingham). Basil also has a helper or a landlady or something, Mrs Judson (voice of Diana Chesney).
So the major thrust is to rescue Flaversham for Olivia, but then as Ratigan’s plan becomes more known, it becomes to save the Queen and the country (and Flaversham).
One of the things I love about this film: at one point Basil denigrates Dawson’s contributions and his thinking, as Holmes frequently does to Watson, but here when Basil sees the effect it has upon Dawson he immediately hurries to take the sting out of his comments. And also there’s a sequence in a waterfront dive for sailors and toughs which Basil and Dawson infiltrate, where a sexy mouse (voice of Melissa Manchester) sings “Let Me Be Good To You”, a song written by Manchester. And one of the sources of humor is that Rattigan is clearly a rat, but insists that he is a mouse, just a large one.
The finale of the movie takes place in the clocktower of Big Ben (and in the air around it), and is pretty fantastic. If the animators didn’t get credit for stretching CGI to new heights they certainly should have; this doesn’t look like 1986 at all.
A truly great and somewhat overlooked animated movie that deserves much more attention.
Music by Henry Mancini, Songs “The World’s Greatest Criminal Mind” and “Goodbye So Soon” – lyrics by Larry Grossman and Ellen Fitzhugh and music by Henry Mancini, Song “Let Me Be Good To You” written by Melissa Manchester, Based on the “Basil of Baker Street” Book Series by Eve Titus and Paul Galdone, Story Adapted by Pete Young, Vance Gerry, Steve Hulett, Ron Clements, John Musker, Bruce M. Morris, Matthew O’Callaghan, Burny Mattinson, Dave Michener, and Melvin Shaw, Directed by John Musker, Dave Michener, Ron Clements, and Burny Mattinson.

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