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The Bickering Critics – Anita and George

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Ronald Howard as Sherlock Holmes in “Sherlock Holmes” (1954-1955) – Episodes 6-10 – reviewed by George

6. “The Case of the Shy Ballerina”
A man who wanted to write music for the ballet is found dead in a park, and his wife Mrs. Shelton, (Nathalie Schafer from “Gilligan’s Island”) tells Holmes that their recent trip to Russia was specifically made to attempt to have Serge Smernoff  (Eugene Deckers), a director of ballet, purchase “The Spider Web Ballet”, for his prima ballerina Olga Yaclanoff (Martine Alexis). Despite the temperaments involved Holmes solves the case.
Written by Sheldon Reynolds, Original Screenplay by Charles Early.

7. “The Case of the Winthrop Legend”
The legend says the heir will die with a gold doubloon in his pocket, and it seems to have come true. The older and younger Winthrop brothers are played by Peter Copley and Ivan Desny, with Meg LeMonnier as the younger brother’s wife. Holmes prevails despite the distractions.
Original Story by Harold Jack Bloom, Adapted by Sheldon Reynolds, and Directed by Jack Gage.

8. “The Case of the Blind Man’s Bluff”
Eugene Deckers also appears in this episodes and in fact will show up again in # 9. Here he gets top guest billing as Vickers in a tale of a ship’s crew being murdered one by one (on land). Involved are Jocko Faraday (Gregoire Aslan), Dr, Jonas (Colin Drake), Pitt (Yves Brainville), and the welcome return of Sgt.Wilkins (Richard K. Larke).
Original Story by Sheldon Reynolds, Screenplay by Lou Morheim, Directed by Sheldon Reynolds.

9. “The Case of Harry Crocker”
This is the perfect episode to demonstrate fully the light-hearted approach that Sheldon Reynolds imparts to the series. Guest Star Eugene Deckers plays Harry Crocker, an escape artist a la Houdini. Deckers exhibits incredible energy as he keeps disappearing and giving  Lestrade (Archie Duncan) apoplexy. But if he didn’t kill the chorus girl, as he claims, who did?
Original Screenplay by Harold Jack Bloom, Directed by Sheldon Reynolds.

10. “The Mother Hubbard Case”
Truly sinister and much less amusing because of it, this case involves the disappearance of men from normal days, simply walking from one place to another, and then never seen again – until Holmes finds the body of one in the fireplace of an abandoned home. However, we know that a little girl is central to the murders because the episode begins with the child claiming to be lost and enlisting the help of a prosperous-looking young man to find her way home. No jokes at all, but the best of these five.
Screenplay by Lou Morheim, Directed by Jack Gage.
Also features Sgt. Wilkins (Richard K. Larke), and it should be noted that at this point Archie Duncan is receiving billing at the beginning of each episode after Howard and H. Marion Crawford, who plays Watson so wonderfully.

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Thanks so much, Anita!

It’s great to feel missed, but it’s super to have your best friend express that in writing! Thanks again for the warm welcome back!

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Welcome Back George!

Welcome Back!  It is great to have you posting again.  We have missed your witty styles and personal takes on film, play and actors.  I have missed ya tons!

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The Love Witch (2016) Reviewed by Anita ***.5

A visual style straight out of the 60’s, The Love Witch is a very entertaining comedy/horror.  The story is about a modern-day witch who uses magic to get love.  She is very narcissistic, just what a young, hungry witch would be.  Director Anna Biller creates the ultimate fantasy though the beautiful and bewitching Elaine (Samantha Robinson). In her gothic Victorian apartment the crafty Elaine creates spells and potions to bring her dream man into her life. The beautiful witch’s spells work all too well leaving a string of love-lorn victims  behind her on going hunt for the perfect match.  When she meets the man of her dreams all comes to a screaming halt as the enchanting Elaine goes mad and flies into a murdering rage.  It is really cool.

The film is almost an homage to a bygone era of film making.  For example the opening scene a 1960’s red Mustang convertible toddling along the California coast line.  We meet the ever enterprising Elaine as she ponders a thoughtful monologue.  The shot is framed in a cheesy rear projection, with the stilled voice over makes for a great organic feeling to the over all story visually.  I love a low-budget film with that 60’s, 70’s style about it.  Fun!

Themes such as magic, religion, social acceptance, and the age-old  battle of the sexes are all here.  Biller does an excellent job connecting characters and action by the use of colors (red for blood and love).  Ultimately Biller has made the color red as much of a character in the story telling as she has made the actors.  It is a great method of story telling.

In the mood for an off beat movie give this one a try.  It’s a trip.  Trust me, a real trip Man…

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I’m back! After a month of surgery and kidney failure, I’m back, not with a review but with THE BEST COMMERCIAL IN YEARS!

Attractive Woman in mink with packed suitcases (Arielle Vandenberg): “I’m leaving you, Wesley.”
Wesley, an Attractive Man, leaping out of a chair: “But why?”
Attractive Woman: “You haven’t noticed me in two years.”
Wesley: “I was in a coma!”
Attractive Woman: “Well, I still deserve appreciation.”
Wesley: “Who was there for you when you had amnesia?”
Attractive Woman: “You know I can’t remember that!”
The Maid, played by our old friend Flo (Stehanie Courtney): “Stop this madness. If it’s appreciation you want, you should both get Snapshot from Progressive. It rewards good drivers with big discounts on car insurance.”
Susan Lucci appears on the staircase, dressed beautifully with lots of jewels and looking really glamorous: “I have also awoken from my coma.”
Wesley: “It’s called a nap, Susan Lucci.”

If anyone knows who plays Wesley, please leave a comment. I would really like to give him credit. Also the director and writer(s).

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What are you watching this Mother’s Day? comment by Anita 2017

Happy Mother’s Day weekend fans and followers.

I don’t know about your mom but mine is a movie buff from way back.  Our teething ring was Godzilla and our teen training was Meet Me in St. Louis.  By the way my sisters and I know every song by heart.  We have danced  with Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and gained personal power watching the Unsinkable Molly Brown.  My mom and I saw the lovely and talented Debbie Reynolds in concert and it was fabulous.   We have even learned how to be grateful only have to share a room with two rather than a dozen, as in Cheaper by the Dozen.  She taught us to stay organic with Logan’s Run and made sure when knew how to cook thanks to Solent Green.  We learned animals are very smart thanks to Planet of the Apes and let me tell you we have a healthy dose of religion thank you Exorcism.  A real healthy dose.  And we will always appreciate the paranormal, odd and possibilities thank you Twilight Zone.

I guess what I’m sharing is I’m very grateful to my mom for putting me on the path of film and art.  I’m looking forward to a pj day and pop corn in front of our 55″ TV with her.  We will watch some good old movies like when were kids.  Hope you have a wonderful day with your mom.   And , Hey!  let us know what you watched.  You know I will.


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My take on live action Beauty and the Beast-Reviewed by Anita ***

Well I have to agree with our guest reviewer.  I liked the film but I was not wowed by it.  One of the points Miss Vi brought up was it being just the same.  As I was watching it I began to reflect on the recent Cinderella (2015) live action.  The story (yes) is the same but the telling is an interpretation.  All the key players are in place.  The theme is still very clear,  but different takes on each character (in my opinion) gave this film its own story as well as staying within the Disney theme.  For example we all know the step-sisters are rotten but in the live action version they are funny, and you plainly see they are just as much of a victim of their mother as poor Cinderella.

However let all agree we have been changing up and changing out characters of fairy tales since Brother’s Grimm wrote them down.   This is still a great movie.  Well acted, loved the soundtrack and the characters are over the top as they should be.  Do see it.  Take the whole family!  Just in mind if you have the animated version you are not missing anything aside of cartoon characters.

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Guest Review: Beauty and the Beast (2017) Reviewed by Violet ***.5

Hello movie fans.  Today we have real treat.  My friend and a fellow movie go-er Violet has offered to share her take on the latest live action Disney production Beauty and the Beast.   Violet has just recently turned 9 years old, and is in the third grade.  Looking forward to fourth grade.  Movies are one of her hobbies and she knows a lot about the Disney Princess’.  The following review in her words:

As a fan of Walt Disney films the newest Beauty and the Beast  is one of  the best.   Belle (Emma Watson) makes the movie amazing.  She is just right for the role.   The Beast (Dan Stevens) was a very good Beast. Maybe a little more expressions on the Beast face would have been nice.   All I saw for most of the movie was him frowning.  I know he is sad but come on… maybe a little bit of a different expression sometimes would have made it better.   Anyway as I said,  the Beast was very good Beast  besides the expression problem on his face.  In the movie Gaston (Luke Evans) wants Belle to marry him just like in the original story. Luke did an excellent job being jerk; Gaston is supposed to be a jerk and as I said Luke did a very good job.

When Belle was in the Beast’s castle Chip (Nathan Mack) was the funny, curious character he was ment to be.  Mrs. Potts, played by Emma Thompson is Chip’s mom and she is very loving and caring.  The way Mrs. Pott’s words are said is amazing.  I like the way she pronounced them, and I like the way she sounds.

Now I have to tell you some things I did not like about the movie.  I didn’t like how the movie was pretty much word for word of the original.  I would like to have seen a new way of how the characters talked to each other.  A little bit of different wording would have been nice.  Not every actor or actress was perfect for the part.   For example I didn’t like the actor who was Mrs. Potts’ husband (Gerard Horan).  One other example is I didn’t like character of the wardrobe.

In my opinion you should go see this version of Beauty and the Beast.  You will really like the music, I did.  And tell us on Bickering Critics what you think of the movie.

Thank you Violet for your very informative take on this great story.  We are looking forward to hearing more from you over the summer.  Keep going to the movies!

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Ronald Howard as Sherlock Holmes in “Sherlock Holmes” (1954-1955) Episodes 1-5 – reviewed by George

So far we’ve had a couple of TV programs featuring Holmes which were shown as part of anthology series, but this is the first actual television series about Holmes (as far as I can tell). It lasted one season, 39 episodes. Made by an American company, it was shot in Paris, and stars Ronald Howard (son of Leslie Howard) as Holmes, H. Marion Crawford as Dr. Watson, and Archie Duncan as Inspector Lestrade (pronounced “Lestraid” instead of “Lestrod”). Each week for a while I’ll be reviewing 5 episodes until I’ve commented briefly on each one.
The first five are not based on Doyle stories, but are originals written for this program, the first three by the producer Sheldon Reynolds. Four of the first five are delightful, with fine performances by the three principals, excellent dialogue, and a frequent use of humor, always based on the personalities of the three men.
1. “The Case of the Cunningham Heritage” shows Watson returning to London with a wound to his left arm, earned as an army officer serving in the war in Afghanistan. He discusses his situation with an old friend at his club, stating that he wishes to share expenses, and this gentleman knows of a person ready to move into a flat and looking for a flatmate. So Watson and Holmes meet, take the flat in Marylebone W-1 at 221B Baker Street, and move in the next day. They soon are joining Lestrade at a murder scene. A young man has been murdered, ostensibly by his fiancee (Ursula Howells), and Holmes disputes all of Lestrade’s findings. Later Lestrade tells Watson, “I warn you to keep away from that man Holmes. or you’ll be insane in less than a week!”
Directed by Jack Gage.
2. “The Case of Lady Beryl” involves the murder of a man strongly suspected of offering big money for government secrets. He has been killed in the home of Lord and Lady Beryl, and Lady Beryl (Paulette Goddard!) has confessed. Peter Copley plays Lord Beryl (of the Foreign Office), and a bobby (K. Richard Larke) is introduced in a funny bit about being sent to Baker Street to tell Holmes to meet Lestrade and Watson at the murder scene, but then he stays the rest of the day helping Holmes with his experiments and is found by Lestrade, having made himself at home by removing his hat and jacket and rolling up his sleeves, with his suspenders showing.
Directed by Jack Gage.
3. “The Case of the Pennsylvania Gun” is about an impossible murder committed in Sussex inside a manor that has a moat forty feet wide to cut it off from unwelcome guests. They meet Inspector MacLeod (Russell Waters) and Holmes irritates him fairly quickly. “Where is the dumbbell?” “It’s right there!” “Where is the OTHER dumbbell?”
Directed by Sheldon Reynolds.
4. “The Case of the Texas Cowgirl” introduces our heroes to the the American West in the form of Minnie (Lucille Vines) from Bison Jack’s Wild West Rodeo, who has returned form the last show of the day to find a dead body in her hotel room. She wants to hire Holmes to help her move the body to another room – any other room. Only here is the humor outdated and tired: Chief Running Water has set up his teepee in his hotel room, the bobby speaks Black Foot, Watson lassoes the fleeing killer, and so on.
Written by Charles and Joseph Early and directed by Steve Previn.
5. “The Case of the Belligerent Ghost”
Watson sees a man die, then an hour later is punched in the eye by the dead man. The ghost is the key to the theft of a painting on loan from the Italian government. This is more in tune with the first three episodes.
Written by Charles Early and directed by Sheldon Reynolds.

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Rushmore (1998)–Reviewed by Anita-*****

We have all been that awkward student.  Let’s face it High School sucks.  At least being high school age can.  Especially if you are a misunderstood nerd like Max Fischer.  Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman) is a 10th grade scholarship student attending the very prestigious prep school Rushmore (Directed by Wes Anderson).  Max it is the epitome of extracurricular king.  He is editor of the school newspaper, the yearbook; founder of the debt team, the dodgeball society and the Max Fischer Players; he is president of the French Club and the German club as well as the chess club.  Just to name a few of this ambitious teenagers accomplishments.  However while applying for early admission to Oxford, holding Harvard as his safety school he gets a reality check.  For all of Fischer’s accomplishments  he is sadly a terrible student.  Actually the worst student Rushmore has ever had to deal with. Threatened with expulsion Max changes gears and begins on a single-minded goal of becoming the lover to the new first-grade teacher Rosemary Cross (Oliva Williams).

In an effort to get a  game plan Max turns to the father of two of his classmates Herman Blume (Bill Murray).   Blume, a factory magnate,  is a mentor to the troubled, very odd teenager. Blume is also depressed  and after meeting the lovely Rosemary himself he falls in love with her also.  When the tycoon starts an affair with her on his own it drives Max mad.  These two engage in a battle royal both trying to woo the young widow Rosemary.

Rushmore is one of the best cult films I’ve seen.  Chronicling the life of a teenager, a lonely man and a real War of the Roses (1989) this is a must watch.  Very funny, touching in many parts and happy ending as only a cult film could have.  Don’t be late to class!  Watch Rushmore. 

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