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The Bickering Critics – Anita and George

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The Farmer’s Wife (1928) – reviewed by George

A;fred Hitchcock’s sixth film is a domestic comedy, at least once you get past the set-up. The stars are Jameson Thomas as Farmer Sweetland, Lilian Hall-Davis as his housekeeper Araminta Dench, and Gordon Harker as his handyman Churdles Ash.
Mrs. Sweetland is dying, and while farm work goes on, her spaniels are sad. In s series of short shots they come in from outdoors and move up the stairs toward her bedroom. They stop, however, on the top step and lie down with their chins on the landing. Well-imagined and very effective.
Mrs. Sweetland dies, with her last words to Araminta, “Don’t forget to air your master’s pants, ‘Minta.” Next: a montage of waist-down long johns being aired in every possible place: at the fireplace, on a line, etc.
Cut to a happy time: the daughter of the house is getting married. The farmer cannot hide how much he misses his wife, but as he looks around at the single women of the right age who are there, the idea of remarrying begins to form. And Churdles contributes some wisdom words, “To see an old man in love is worse than seeing him with the whooping cough.” And also, “Holy Matrimony be a proper steamroller for flattening the hope out of a man and the joy out of a woman.”
After the wedding guests have left, Sweetland has ‘Minta help him make a list of the eligible women in the district. And ASAP he dudes up and goes courting. He is so sure that all the women (but especially the one he has decided to ask) are crazy for him that his self-confidence is laugh-out-loud funny. When the confused woman, Widow Louisa Windeatt (Louie Pounds), finally sees where he is headed she quickly turns him down. Since he can’t believe or understand what has just happened, he becomes worse-mannered and insulting. Then he goes home and takes it out on Churdles and ‘Minta.
So he moves on down the list to Thirza Tapper (Maud Gill), where he pretty much destroys a party she is throwing, to the postmistress Mary Hearn (Olga Slade), and he is contemplating Mercy Bassett (Ruth Maitland) when he decides he is unwanted and must stop this foolishness.
We know where all this is going; indeed, we have known from the beginning. But there’s more fun to be had in getting there.
This is not the funniest comedy you’ve ever seen, but it has a strong element of charm, and Hitchcock has done a good job of laying out the sequences. And Thirza’s party is the highpoint of the film.
Screenplay by Eliot Stannard, from the play by Eden Phillpots, directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

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Douglas Wilmer is Sherlock Holmes in “Sherlock Holmes” (1964-1965): Episodes 5-8 – reviewed by George

5. The Red-Headed League
Jabez Wilson (Toke Townley) has fiery red hair. He also has a new assistant, Vincent Spaulding (David Andrews) in his shop. Vincent tells him about the Red-Headed League and how he would be foolish not to at least find out about the benefits available to red-headed men. Jabez is finally convinced and goes to the offices to check it out. He is offered a scut job copying out the Encyclopedia Britannica at a rate of pay that is truly phenomenal, AND he only has to work a few hours a day.
We’ve seen this before with Ronald Howard, and it is a genuine opportunity for humor, which is not wasted here. Toke Townley is really funny, but does not push it farther than it can go, which is a gift. Good job by all.
Script by Anthony Read, directed by Peter Duguid.

6. The Six Napoleons
At the beginning Sherlock has been working for some time on a case, and declares himself “Baffled!” I liked that because the first, the earliest, Sherlock film I reviewed was called “Sherlock Holmes Baffled”. I also like that in this episode at last Lestrade appears, played by Peter Madden. Lestrade tells Holmes and Watson a tale of plaster busts (of little worth – a few shillings each) of Napoleon Bonaparte being smashed in a shop, and in two separate places belonging to Doctor Barnicot (James Bree), who bought his two busts from that shop, one for his home and one for his surgery.
When the threesome interviews Barnicot he tells them that at least the busts are replaceable. They are from a cast made from the original, which was created by the French sculptor Devine, and is now in the Louvre. Dr. Barnicot is a short man who seems to identify with the Little Corporal a bit too much.
As Holmes et al track the remaining busts Holmes develops a theory of what the smasher is really doing. This is a good episode, but not as good as a version I’ve seen and cannot now find. Is it something with a different name? At any rate the one I really like is one in which each of several porcelain collectors is found beaten to death lying in the wreckage of their collection – everything has been smashed. This way it takes some time to figure out that each large collection had in common a cheap bust of Napoleon.
Script by Giles Cooper, directed by Gareth Davies.

7. The Man with the Twisted Lip
We’ve seen one other version of this story: Eille Norwood (1921), review posted October 27, 2016. This is the better version, due to a better adaptation by Jan Read, and also to the fact that it’s about twice as long, so has more content.
A man is arrested and charged with public begging: interesting because he doesn’t ask for money, but just says “Good morning” or “Thank you. God bless you” to passersby. Perhaps he is a regular sight at this location in London. Or perhaps they just react to his manner or to the scar on his face, which reaches from the corner of his mouth halfway up his right cheek. One man, however, one fat, ugly man (Norman Pitt), reacts to a tentative “God bless you” with a rough “What the devil do you mean?”
“What I said, sir. God bless you, sir.”
“Damned insolence! Has it occurred to you that there are police regulations about begging?”
“Beggin’, sir? Oh no, sir. I’m an honest tradesman.” He says he is selling vestas and produces  a few cigars to substantiate the claim. “Half pence each.”
But the man yells, “Constable!”
At the jail a police Sergeant (Manning Wilson) tells Hugh Boone (Anton Rodgers), for that is his name, that he is about to prefer a charge against him. Part of the charge is that he “did shout, bawl, curse, and swear…”. Hugh says “It was the toff who used the bad language. Not me, Sergeant.” A copper present says, “There are ways and ways of saying God bless you”. As they are about to lock him up Boone says he wants bail. The Sergeant says, “Ten..”, and Boone interrupts, “I know, I know.Ten shillings.” The Sergeant smiles and says, “In respect of each charge.” And Boone indulges in a mild swear: “Stone the crows!” and pays the 240 pence.
Cut to a Mrs. St. Clair (Anna Cropper), who is picking up a package her husband was to get, but he is busy in the city. The package contains diamonds from her uncle in Johannesburg. She accepts and signs for the package, and then asks how to get back to London, since she came by cab. The clerk (Robin Parkinson) tells her that Swandam Lane will take her right to the city, but it is not a salubrious neighborhood. She decides to chance it and leaves. As Swandam Lane becomes more threatening, she begins to run and stops at a corner to catch her breath. She looks up and sees her husband Neville looking out a second story window. She calls, but he withdraws as if pulled. She stumbles in at the door and finds herself in an opium den.
Seven minutes and forty seconds has passed in an episode of approximately 49 minutes. The story has been exceptionally well set up in a very short time.
Mrs. St. Clair goes to Holmes after the police can find nothing of her husband except the clothes he was wearing and some building blocks he had promised their son that morning. AND they have charged Hugh Boone with St. Clair’s disappearance since apparently he lives near or in the opium den. The lascar (Olaf Pooley) who runs the den (first floor only) claims to know neither man. Holmes tells Mrs. St. Clair that he has seen Boone, who is crippled, but adds that a crippled limb frequently results in much greater strength in the other three. Holmes then proceeds to examine the land around the opium den and the river behind it, and soon solves the case.
Script by Jan Read, directed by Eric Tayler.
NOTE: Anton Rodgers played the young debtor who sings “Thank You Very Much” to reformed Scrooge (Albert Finney) in the 1970 version of A Christmas Carol: “Scrooge”. Anton also established himself as a strong presence in British sitcoms, especially with “Fresh Fields” and “French Fields”, both with Julia McKenzie,

8. The Beryl Coronet
Holder (Leonard Sachs) is a trustworthy man. So much so that he is trusted to conceal a very valuable piece for a person of high regard until it is needed. The piece? A coronet decorated with large and beautiful beryls. But as we see so often in the Bible, a good father has a bad son and vice versa. Arthur Holder (Richard Carpenter), I suppose is not bad, just very foolish. He plays poker, considering it a game of chance rather than of mathematics, and he allows the game to go on after the bet has exceeded the limits of the cash on his person. He is played for a chump very professionally by Sir George Burnwell (David Burke), and now owes Burnwell 200 pounds he doesn’t have. And none of his friends will lend him money to cover the loss. He faces social ruin, and while his father could pay the debt, Arthur fears his father a little more than disgrace, so will not ask.
When he arrives home his cousin Mary (Suzan Farmer), who has been taken in by Mr. Holder, wants very much to see the coronet, so Holder shows both Mary and Arthur the piece, unfortunately revealing the location of the key. The housemaid Lucy (Sandra Hampton), who has been acting suspiciously, also learns the secret.
Trust is a funny thing. If you are trustworthy, you tend to trust that others are worthy of your trust.
The next morning the coronet has been stolen and Holder is facing the loss of his reputation. Arthur is immediately blamed, but Holmes is brought in by Mr. Holder and finds the real thief. Satisfactory ending, except that one does hope that Gamblers Anonymous has already been chartered.
Script by Nicholas Palmer, directed by Max Varnel.

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Cool Runnings (1993) – reviewed by George

Disney has a long history of producing sports pictures that are both inspirational and openly emotional. And they sure got me with this one. Toward the end I had tears running down my cheeks. If you watch the film, you will know what caused the tears – it is good, not bad.
This film is based on the true story of the 1988 Jamaican Olympic Bobsled Team, but a slide toward the end says that names may have been changed, so bear with.
Jamaica has, for long years, been the birthplace of world class sprinters, and the film begins with races for an Olympic berth. Derice Bannock (Leon) is the son of an Olympic sprinter and dearly wants to represent Jamaica in the same way his father did. Yul Brenner (Malik Yoba) has the same ambition, and the two of them are expected to take the top two slots. Junior Bevil (Rawle D. Lewis) is expected to win slot 3 or 4. But Junior trips and in falling takes both Derice and Yul out with him. So much for Olympic hopes.
But then Derice hears that bobsledding registrations are still being accepted, AND that Irv Blitzer (John Candy), who is a bookie on the island, was first a bobsledder and then a coach. To at least be in the Olympics, Derice will do what it takes.
So the next section of the film is devoted to convincing Irv to take on coaching the team, finding a team, asking for monetary help from the local Olympic Committee, and getting first a sled and then donations from local businessmen. This takes a lot of moxie. The team is made up of (predictably) Yul and Junior, plus Derice’s best friend Sanka Coffie (Doug E. Doug), who is a pushcart driver. A pushcart is a competition vehicle pushed by most of the team and driven (or steered) by one member.
The hoops that must be jumped through to get the bobsledders supplied and trained are entertaining, yet frustrating for both the team (and a little bit for the audience).
When they get to Calgary, Alberta, Canada they run into rudeness and almost hate. How dare these guy make a mockery of our sport! The Jamaicans show a lot of class (after being talked to by Irv), while other teams, especially the Swiss, show a total lack of same. Peter Outerbridge is good as the worst Swiss of all.
I knew the bare bones of the story, because I always watch the Olympics on TV, but I guess NBC didn’t dwell much on the prejudice the guys encountered.
This is a really good movie, and I will definitely watch it again. Incidentally, Cool Runnings was the name they gave their sled.
Screenplay by Lynn Siefert and Tommy Swerdlow & Michael Goldberg, directed by Jon Turteltaub.

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The World’s End (2013) – reviewed by George

At 19 years of age five graduating seniors in Newton Haven decide to conquer The Golden Mile – a pub crawl of Newton Haven’s 12 pubs, drinking a pint in each. They are Gary King, the leader, who uses the self-created moniker King Gary (Simon Pegg), Oliver or Ollie (Martin Freeman), Peter (Eddie Marsan), Steve (Paddy Considine), and Andy (Nick Frost).   Needless to say at 19 they do not make it – 12 pints is a lot.
Now, pushing 40 and not terribly successful at life or relationships, Gary wants to try again, and he wants his mates with him. He starts wrangling and he rounds them all up, by cajoling, coaxing, conning, and revealing that he is a master manipulator. Andy flatly refuses to go, after Gary has used the line, “Andy is coming” to seal the deal with the first three guys. So Andy is the hardest to con, but eventually, by telling an emotional lie, Gary gets him. To show his sincerity Gary also pays Andy the 600 pounds he has owed him forever. Later we learn where he got the money.
They travel to their old hometown in Gary’s car The Beast. One remarks that this car looks just like The Beast, and Gary replies that it is the Beast. He even has the same old mix tape.
As they travel, the guys get into the mood, and by the time they arrive they are all convinced this is a good idea – all but Andy, who still has major reservations. But the fact that they are there reduces the effectiveness of whatever he says.
The 12 pubs are: The First Post, The Old Familiar, The Famous Cock, The Cross Hands, The Good Companions, The Trusty Servant, The Two-Headed Dog, The Mermaid, The Beehive, The King’s Head, The Hole in the Wall, and The World’s End. As they move through the first four, drinking and occasionally seeing someone they recognize, like old Basil (David Bradley, currently on “The Strain”), or their favorite teacher, Guy Shepherd (Pierce Brosnan), and actually coming across Ollie’s sister Sam (Rosamund Pike, “Gone Girl”) who does not live there, we and they realize that something is seriously wrong in Newton Haven. The boys have come to town to do their pub crawl during an alien invasion.
They have to get out, but Gary insists that they leave on the path of the crawl. Not everyone agrees but they all go along – Gary has the keys to the car. Of course in fleeing they get separated and Gary and Sam are stuck on the flat roof of one of the pubs looking down at Sam’s car. Sam says, “Let’s climb down the drainpipe.” Gary says, ‘I’ve got a better idea.” And he jumps onto the roof of the car, landing flat on his back and breaking all the windows. He looks up at Sam and gasps, “Climb down the drainpipe.”
This is a fun film, made funnier if you watch a lot of British comedies and recognize some of the townsfolk.  Mark Heap is very funny as the barman (or “publican”) at The Two-Headed Dog, and Darren Boyd, of “Spy” and Julia Louis Dreyfus’s wonderful old NBC sitcom “Watching Ellie”, turns up too (but is more sinister).
Written by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg and directed by Edgar Wright, this is the third movie in a trilogy consisting of “Shaun of the Dead”, “Hot Fuzz”, and “The World’s End”.  I thought the trilogy was Shaun, Fuzz, and “Paul”, but on reflection I see that “Paul” was not written by Wright and Pegg and took place in the US. However, I don’t really understand how themes introduced in the first two films are resolved in the third, as stated in the Special Features part of “The World’s End” DVD. The only similarity I see is that in “Shaun” Pegg’s friends are slowly, one by one, turning into zombies and in “World’s” they are slowly, one by one, turning into aliens. So the resolution is ….?
Anyway, taken alone or in sequence this is an excellent movie. And it has more fence-jumping!

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‘Will’ TV series (2017) Reviewed by Anita ***

Do you like Shakespeare?  Do you get what he is saying?  I do, and I do again.  A new series is airing Monday nights on TNT called ‘Will’ .  There are 10 episodes and it just started July 10 so you have time to catch up and  be current by next Monday.

The series is a fictional drama about the life of William Shakespeare when he was in his early 20’s trying to make a name for himself as a playwright.  He leaves his wife and three children to go to London to make this dream come true.  Shakespeare (Laurie Davidson) ends up selling a play to the theater owner James Burbage (Colm Meaney) and befriending the rest of the company.  Will is so good he pushes out the previous playwright and falls in love with the lovely Alice (Olivia DeJonge) who just happens to be Burbage’s daughter.

While seeking his fame and fortune he has a hard time making it in London.  He must keep his Catholicism a secret, come to terms with the fact he is in love with Alice, and keep his family going.  Not to mention living with the guilt he feels for the death of a playwright, the adultery he has committed, and that he will do it all again.    All the while he is fulfilling his heart’s desire and that is to be a famous playwright.  As he goes along trying to keep a roof over his head and paper to write on he finds himself saddled with the dying theater company to boot.

It has a very modern feel to it.  The sets are very well done, authentic.  I also give a two thumbs up to wardrobe.  As for character developement I’m in process of developing that opinion.  So far I like them all.  Even the bad guys.

Episode three is airing Monday July 24 th.  Hope you get a chance to check it out.  To watch or not to watch…. Now that is the question.

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Beguiled (1971) Reviewed by Anita ****

Looking for a  creepy, American Gothic story?  This one is a good one.  Beguiled (the 1971 version) is twisted, openly dealing with sexuality on a raw animal level.  Very organic in feel.  Directed by Don Siegel, the story is based on a novel by Thomas P. Cullman called Painted Devil (1966).  Starring as the wounded Union Solider is Clint Eastwood.

As I said, this American Southern Gothic is set during the Civil War,  1863.  The story opens with an injured Union Solider (Eastwood) who goes by John McBurney.  He is rescued by a 12-year-old  Amy who is a student at an all-girl boarding school set in rural Mississippi.  The girls have been hidden away from the war and what’s going on in the world at Mrs. Farnsworth School for Girls. The eponymous headmistress, Martha Farnsworth (Geraldine Page) runs a tight school and has some outlandish ways of thinking.

Farnsworth reluctantly agrees to allow the wounded solider to stay only until he is healthy enough to leave.  He must stay locked up in the music room as well as be kept under a guard watch.  The girls immediately like John, especially Edwina (Elizabeth Hartman), the school teacher.  Another one that falls very hard for the handsome McBurney is Carol (Jo Ann Harris), a teenager who is completely love-struck over John.

McBurney’s presence in the house-hold turns things upside down.  Each of the women begins to experience sexually repressed feelings or needs where he is concerned.  Some even remembering sexual taboos they had taken part in.  As predicted McBurney bonds with them all including the only slave Hallie (Mae Mercer).  The more his charms work on the women the more tense the sexually repressed atmosphere of the house grows.  The boarding school becomes a pit of jealously, and deceit, forcing the women to turn on each other.  Finally the ongoing jealously between the women begins to manifest itself in acts of revenge, and violence.  All of this comes to a head when a jealous rage erupts between Edwina and Carol.  Edwina catches Carol and John making love and she goes berserk. Edwina beats John with a candle stick causing him to fall down some stairs.  Edwina in a panic seeks help from Martha.  Martha insists John will die of gangrene as a result of his broken bone if they don’t act quickly.  Martha gets no argument as she saws off the leg at the knee on the kitchen table.

John wakes up to find he is missing a leg and swears Martha did it out of revenge because he spurred her advances.  In the aftermath of the amputation John and Edwina grow ever closer and plan to run away.  At the same time Edwina and John are getting closer the relationships with the other women begins to deteriorate.  Tension building and the household getting crazier by the day, John and Edwina get ready to run away.  Sadly Martha puts an end to that idea in a big way.  Needless to say poor John.  Poor, poor, John.

Beguiled is a pulp psychodrama for sure.  Creepy, backward, isolated and just strange.  I began to wonder if John is a helpless victim or an aggressive man willing to do whatever it takes to stay alive and get the hell out of there?  Either way I like this movie.  I am really looking forward to seeing the new one out directed by Coppola.  I recommend seeing them both.

 

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Downhill (1927) – reviewed by George

Alfred Hitchcock’s fifth movie is based on a tale by David L’Estrange, with a screenplay by Eliot Stannard. Like “The Lodger” it stars Ivor Novello, but in this case the leading lady is Isabel Jeans, who appeared in a couple of other Hitchcock movies (coming up), and who in 1958 could be seen in “Gigi” as Aunt Alicia who taught Gigi how to select a cigar for a gentleman and how to assess the value of jewelry (among other things).
“Downhill” is the original title, but imdb.com has it listed as “When Boys Leave Home”, which I guess is the retitle for American audiences. Should have been “When a Boy Leaves Home” because in the film only one does.
The film opens with s sign: “Here is a tale of two schoolboys who made a pact of loyalty. One of them kept it – at a price.” Roddy Berwick (Ivor) is the star player on the school team (is it rugby? is it soccer? Laugh if you will – I couldn’t tell), and his father Sir Thomas Berwick (Norman McKinnel) is wealthy, and Roddy is well-liked and good-looking. His best friend Tim Wakeley (Robert Irvine) is the son of a reverend, and Tim has just won a scholarship. His father The Reverend Henry Wakeley (Jerrold Robertshaw) is very proud and tells Tim that with the scholarship and what they can afford, there is the hope of a really good school.
Roddy is attracted to a serving girl in the dining hall of his dorm. She is Mabel (Annette Benson) and she works during the day at a candy shop in town. Roddy goes to see her at work, taking Tim along, and while Roddy is diverted taking care of some young customers, Tim and Mabel slip into another room. Mabel turns up pregnant and names Roddy to the Headmaster (after all he’s the rich one), and Roddy is dismissed from the school that very day. He confronts Tim as he is leaving and Tim pleads for understanding, saying that he could never tell his father and then lose the scholarship too.
When he arrives home, Roddy tries to explain to his father, but Sir Thomas yells at him, “Liar!” And Roddy replies, “Do you think I could stay here after being called a liar?!”, and he leaves with only the clothes on his back.
Thus begins Roddy’s downhill trip to desperation and degradation. He begins as a bit player in a stage musical who is being kept by the star Julia Fotheringale (Isabel Jeans). Julia’s former boyfriend Archie (Ian Hunter, Bob Corby in “The Ring”) is still very much around. Then Roddy comes into some money and marries Julia. Archie is still around. Looking at her new acquisitions he says, “Better send them to your own bank before the crash comes.” And it comes very soon – Roddy gets a notice from his bank that he is overdrawn to the extent of 212 pounds. The breakup comes quickly with Roddy yelling, “Get out! Both of you!”, and Julia replying, “You signed the flat over to me, so you get out!”
And lower he goes, finally in France working as a dime-a-dance boy for wealthy women (actually the charge is fifty francs, but it is never stated how much, or how little, Roddy gets of that). Then he gets seriously ill.
Is this a soap opera with a happy ending or a morality tale with a “In this life you get what you deserve” ending? Or an amalgam of both?
It’s a good film with a leading man you really invest it, and want to survive. And while I didn’t like Mabel at all, I did find Julia appealing despite her dishonesty and opportunism.
NOTE: A friend asked me what nationality “Novello” is. Ivor’s real name was David Ivor Davies and he was born in Cardiff, Wales in 1893. A good actor, he felt his real talent was music. He eventually quit film and devoted himself to music, writing 250 songs in his lifetime. He did appear in stage productions after leaving the movies.

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The Veil (1958) Reviewed by Anita ***

The Veil is an American TV series I accidentally ran across on Amazon Prime.  Produced by Hal Roach Studios, this Twilight Zone styled TV series never made it to TV.  The show was based on real life supernatural events, and it was hosted by Boris Karloff who also starred in the reenactments.

The reason it never made it to TV was problems within the studio.  Also the collapse of a preliminary co-production by National Telefilm Associates.  The whole series was cancelled after only 10 episodes. In the late 1960’s footage from several episodes was combined to make films for late night TV.  In 1990’s 10 episodes were released on DVD by a company called Something Weird Video.  You can read more about this series in an article by Tom Weaver titled “Lifting the Veil of Mystery” #29 of Cult Movies magazine.

I haven’t watched all of them but I did watch  #5 The Crystal Ball with Booth Colman and Roxanne Berard.  I will say it got my interest up and I plan on watching a few more.  If you are a Twilight Zone fan you really will like this take on that same format.  Give it a try one late night.

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Did you mean to say that? Comment by Anita 2017

I don’t know where to start?  As you know I watch commercials like mini-short-films.  I find them fascinating on a nauseating level.  They both irritate and entertain me at the same time.  Which means I pay attention to the crap they are pushing.  With that being said I have found some really stupid folks out there when it comes to marketing.   Sadly it is not just marketing, it is also anytime someone is on live TV.  For some reason news reporters have lost their ability to speak when the little red light goes on.

OK: complaint #1 is with Lysol.  The ad is telling us that Lysol is what keeps children from becoming walking germ monsters.  All is believable until this line, “children miss 250 million school days a year because of germs that Lysol prevents.”  WHAT!  I realize they are adding all the children together, however it sounds completely stupid.  There are not even 500 days in a year!  I’m thinking they can find a better way to get that idea out there.

Complaint #2: News reporters.  As I mentioned for some reason they can’t be live.  I was watching a broadcast about the Wall fire (in Northern California) and the reporter was very animated about how hard the firemen and women were working to put it out.  He explained that after speaking with the Fire Chief the crew was going to stay on the fire until it was contained completely.  OK…. So, are you saying they usually only stay around till it is under control enough to pass off the work to the homeowner?  Again, another stupid statement made about a common sense reality.

Have you heard something so outrageous you had to blink and listen again?  Share it with us!  We love hearing from you.  In the meantime really listen to that spokesperson – chances are they just learned how to speak right before shooting that commercial.

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Two Arabian Knights (1927) – reviewed by George

This is a comedy about the adventures away from World War I of two incompatible soldiers: a rich Private, W. Dangerfield Phelps III (William Boyd) and a poor Sergeant, Peter O’Gaffney (Louis Wolheim). The guys dislike each other for most of the film, but have to depend on each other to survive.
The movie begins in the mud and rain of no-man’s land where W. falls into a foxhole that is so big that it has a bench cut out of the dirt. Minutes later there’s another huge explosion of artillery and Peter falls in too. They might have killed each other, but the German Army shows up and captures them both. They are quick-marched with other Allied prisoners – the title card says Americans, French, English, Belgians, Arabs – to a POW camp in northern Germany – lots of snow. Here their first stop is the delousing station which the caption calls “The Cootie Crematory”. After that they are assigned to a barracks and they spend days trying to figure out an escape that will work.
Then they look at the Arab prisoners in their white burnooses and Click! The white burnooses against the snow – unseen! So they steal a couple and get away. They try to get to the sea in order to catch a boat back to France, but are almost caught and have to get on an Arab boat, destination not France, but back to an Arab nation on the north coast of Africa, specific name not supplied. On the boat, still in the burnooses, they see the Emir (Michael Vavitch) and meet his daughter Mirza (Mary Astor). Both soldiers fall for her, and now they have another reason to  dislike each other (or as Dorothy Lamour says in “Road to Rio”, “I hate you, I loathe you, I despise you.”). And look for Boris Karloff in the tiny role of The Purser on the Emir’s boat.
Eventually the guys work together to leave the Emir’s palace, and we have a happy ending. Now you tell me who Mirza ends up with (of course you already know).
This is pretty funny stuff, but needs something – maybe a less deadly background? Or more slapstick? Anyway, written by Wallace Smith and Cyril Gardner from the original story by Donald McGibeny, and directed by Lewis Milestone, this is light-weight entertainment from the silent era, and you will probably like it (if you like silents).
NOTE: I had never heard of Arabs in WW I, so tried to check it out. Merriam-Webster defines burnoose as a one-piece hooded cloak worn by Arabs and Bedouins, so maybe it’s just a plot device to get white coverall clothing into the story.
And Wikipedia says that Muslims from Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh fought alongside the English forces. So there’s some basis to go on, but only Arabs wear the clothing required for the escape.

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