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Found 11 results

  1. If anyone likes Rom-Coms, but gets annoyed by how *bad* they are, try "The Fuller Brush Man," starring the inimitable Red Skelton. This is a genuinely funny movie, and will surprise people by how not-stupid it is - you just have to prepare yourselves for ninety minutes of clean comedy. It's free on Amazon Prime (*), and would be a *perfect* first-date movie for a nervous young couple. I need to rewatch "Duck Soup" (it's been over twenty years) but I don't remember that film as being all that much better than this. That said, I should warn potential viewers about what is the longest, non-stop slapstick ending I can ever remember seeing - parts of it are laugh-out-loud funny, but for me, it's too much, so, the final fifteen minutes of "The Fuller Brush Man" are caveat emptor - some people will love it; others won't. I had the privilege of seeing Red Skelton - much to the amazement of my parents - at Clemson. Somewhere, there may even be an autographed program by him (which further amazed my parents). Anyone unfamiliar with the genius of Skelton (*not* to be confused by the corny, sometimes cringe-worthy, Red Buttons) need only watch this little film, which shows Skelton doing a stand-up show in Canada when he was probably in his 70s. (*) Trivia - A bit of blown dialogue at the 59-minute mark: The Lieutenant says, "Low on closets, eh?" Skelton replies, "No, just long on coats." (It's pretty safe to assume the question should have been spoken, "Short on closets, eh?") Trivia - At 1:04.10 in the movie, Skelton recites the same gag, almost word-for-word, as he does at 2:10 in the YouTube stand-up routine - the "I got a joke for you" line.
  2. North Korea was annexed by Japan in 1910, and liberated in 1945. Its current Constitution was written in 2009. Since the nation's inception in 1948, it has had only three "Supreme Leaders," all of whom are in the same family, with a paternal lineage: Kim Il-Sung (1948-1994) Kim Jong-Il (1994-2011) Kim Jong-Un (2011-) The nation is 46,540 square miles in area, or about the size of Pennsylvania, our 33rd-largest state.
  3. This is my absolute favorite U.S. President trivia question, because it's one where you hear the answer, say, "I don't believe it," and go running off to Google to disprove it. Here's the question: Between the 1948 "Dewey defeats Truman" election, and the 2008 "First Barack Obama" election, how many Presidential elections didn't include Nixon, Dole, or Bush on the ticket? Run your mouse over this for the answer, which will simply floor you: ONE
  4. "Bicycle Thieves" is the simple story of a poor Italian man, his son and a stolen bicycle. It is one of the finest films I have ever seen. Considered by many to be a masterpiece of Italian neorealism, the movie is bleak, beautiful, sad, joyous, hopeful, moving and sublime. I was confused when I started searching for this film online, because it is also called "The Bicycle Thief." Both titles refer to the same film. They are merely different translations of the Italian title. "Bicycle Thieves" was adapted for the screen by Cesare Zavattini from a novel by Luigi Bartolini. At 69 years old, the film does not seem dated. It is a timeless tale that still feels fresh and relevant today. One of the earmarks of neorealism is the use of non-actors. Neither Lamberto Maggiorani , who plays the father, nor eight-year-old Enzo Staiola, who portrays his son, were trained actors. Both give magnificent, moving performances. Staiola is irresistible as the little man, trying as hard as he can to keep up with his father as they search the streets of Rome for the bicycle. He has the most expressive eyes, and is able to communicate a full range of emotions with a simple glance up at his father. I felt the deep bond between these two, and the scene where they share a well-earned meal of mozzarella sandwiches is one of the best moments I have seen captured on film. Shot in black-and-white, the film is lovely looking, with artistic images of the grittier side of Rome. The story is simple, yet compelling. I was completely caught up in the tale, and felt as if I was running alongside the pair, racing against time, trying to help them find the bicycle and a way out of their life of poverty. "Bicycle Thieves" reminded me a lot of the French film "The 400 Blows," a movie that I adore. I highly recommend these two films. Watch them both. You won't regret it.
  5. "Fort Apache" is the first of John Ford's "Cavalry Trilogy," all of which were based on stories by James Warner Bellah. It stars Henry Fonda as a widowed, uppity, West Point-educated Lieutenant-Colonel from back East who doesn't want to be at this frontier post, Shirley Temple, his spoiled - but kind and beautiful - daughter, Philadelphia Thursday, and John Wayne, the savvy, respected Major Captain Kirby York, who was expected to get the job of running Fort Apache, except the telegraph lines were down, and nobody knew that Lieutenant-Colonel Green got the job. There's a wonderful shot of (a rather disgruntled) Henry Fonda and Shirley Temple riding out west towards Fort Apache early in the film. And, during a scene at the little, makeshift tavern, these four men, the leftmost of whom is feeling generous, and the man to his right not quite getting it: *** SPOILERS FOLLOW *** Green is rather full-of-himself, and unqualified to deal with the Apache tribe, mistakenly thinking that the Sioux are just as fierce - this, despite Major York advising him that the best way to tell a Sioux is by the bones of their corpses lying on the ground, in retreat from Apache territory. Green dismissed this comment, despite York's practical experience, and said the Sioux's reputation was as being equally fierce. Green is a stickler for military protocol, and doesn't tolerate any type of violation of the hierarchical system. Two other important characters are a father and son: Sergeant-Major Michael O'Rourke (Wade Bond) and his son, who has just returned from West Point after four years, Second-Lieutenant Michael Shannon "Mickey" O'Rourke (John Agar). The O'Rourke family is close-knit, and an important part of this film - although West Point-trained Mickey is "by the book," he's still a nice person, a handsome man, and he and Philadelphia Thursday (Shirley Temple) have most certainly caught each other's eye. There's a wonderful little sequence of events when Mickey first comes home - Mickeys father (whom he now technically outranks because he's an officer) wants to go back to a party being thrown in honor of George Washington's birthday, and give Mickey and his mom (Irene Rich) some time together. Again, this takes place after a warm greeting, ten minutes of catching up, and is detailed pictorially on another, even more appropriate thread here - click here for the hilarious sequence of events (it's worth the click, trust me). Mickey takes Thursday our riding for several hours one morning, and when her father finds out, he is livid. They return to Fort Apache after seeing two dead bodies, burned, tied spread-eagle across some wagon tires. Colonel Green asks if his daughter saw this, and Mickey says yes, which does not go over well. In face, Colonel Green forbids Micky from riding with, or even seeing, his daughter again - he is a possessive father, and entirely unfair to a decent and civilized officer. This comes at about the fifty-minute point of an otherwise (I hate to say it) dreadfully boring film. I once read where a war-weary United States wasn't in the mood to be watching a film about soldiers and Indians going around killing each other - we'll see what happens going forward, but even Major York (John Wayne) has played an almost non-existent role in this slow-moving film so far. I'm hoping it gets better, although there has been some decent character development, along with the signature John Ford use of Monument Valley at the beginning. Major York has been incredibly deferential to this point, when he needs to request a one-on-one session with Lieutenant-Colonel Green, asking for permission to speak freely - if you know what I mean. A small rescue team rides out to recover the bodies, but a very large band of Apaches is waiting for them, and pursues them, which would almost certainly ride to their death, but an assembled A-Troop (the cavalry) rode out to their rescue, and overpowered the Apaches. This would be lesson number one for Colonel Green - let's hope he's starting to understand the gravity of the situation he's in. So far, Cochise (Miguel Inclán, yet to be seen) has been mentioned several times. If you've been following along, you'll remember Cochise as featuring prominently in "Broken Arrow," which was released two years *after* this film, and was directed by Delmer Daves, not John Ford, so as honorable a man as Cochise was in "Broken Arrow," that is entirely irrelevant in this movie. Wow, I've seen several films lately where Henry Fonda was an antagonist - I never knew he played so many dark roles before, but sure enough, he did seem to have his share. In fact, in the first films of the two western trilogies I'm currently watching (John Ford's "Fort Apache" and Sergio Leone's "For a Few Dollars More"), he's the lead antagonist. Silas Meacham (Grant Withers), a trading post owner, is, on the surface, a decent fellow, but one look beneath the surface (followed by accusations from Major York) reveal him to be a terrible kind of profiteer, and a trusted Indian agent. He was assigned this post by the U.S. Army, and has been involved in fraudulent, personal gain with some type of deal with the Apaches and anyone else who would come through and purchase his cheap wares. Boxes marked "Bibles," for example, contained rotgut whiskey. When Green and York to tell Sergeant Mulcahy (Victor McLaglan) to destroy the contents, he turns to his three friends, and the following pictures say all that needs to be said: After which they obviously got unbelievably drunk, thrown into the guardhouse, were (temporarily and humiliatingly) demoted to privates, and dressed down in a rather dramatic fashion by Sergeant-Major O'Rourke before being put on manure detail. At 1'30" into the film, York *wisely and openly* defies Colonel Green at an NCO dance, saying Cochise agreed to come back to American soil to discuss peace, but only with three people; York, Meacham (the trader), and Green. Green, on the other hand is planning on sending an entire regiment at dawn (a regiment in modern terms is a couple thousand people). This is a direct betrayal of York's trust, and Cochise will see it as a clear sign of war and betrayal. This dialogue says it all: York: "Colonel, if you send out the Regiment, Cochise will think I've tricked him." Green: "Exactly. We have tricked him - tricked him into returning to American soil and I intend to see that he stays here." York: "Colonel, on Thursday, I gave my word to Cochise. No man is going to make a liar out of me, sir." Green: "Your word to a breach-clouted savage? An illiterate, uncivilized murderer and treaty breaker? There's no question of honor, sir, between an American officer and Cochise." York; "There is to me, sir." This is the talk they should have had at the beginning of the film. Needless to say, Captain York was overridden by the egotistical Colonel Green. The regiment leaves the following dawn. My only hope is that York left the previous evening, to go warn Cochise to turn around, and that it's a trick - this is what any honorable man would do. It's what John Wayne would do. (Response, no, he's riding out with the regiment - not 2,000-soldiers strong, but certainly hundreds. This is a sad, dishonorable moment, but let's see what happens going forward.) And, of course, the regiment is slaughtered by the superior Apaches. Green dismisses Ford as a coward, and tells him to wait in safety - Green will determine whether it is to be demotion or court marshal - of course, Green won't be around to do it, because he'll be dead, like all the others (and this is even after Ford went back to try and rescue him once). At the end of the massacre, the Apaches ride up to the remaining (retreated) calvalry, and Comise plants his stalk in the ground, symbolizing that *now* is the time that we can talk about peace - this is exactly the way the film should have gone from the very beginning, were it not for some arrogant Lieutenant-Colonel. Incidentally, Philadelphia accepted Willie's hand in marriage, and they had an adorable baby. And in the end, Wayne made sure that Green, and all the other slaughtered troops, went down in history as gallant warriors instead of fools. When you've finished the film, this is worth reading: Jul 22, 2013 - "Uncovering Forgotten History through Fiction: 'Fort Apache'" by Amy C. Nickless on amsscrpbag.wordpress.com
  6. "Once a Jayhawk, Always a Jayhawk" on kuathletics.com "'I Hadn't Run in Years': Ex-Kansas Player, 89, Scores in Scrimmage" on cbsnews.com
  7. I'd call this "trivia," except that it's too historically significant to be trivia; it's simply an amazing statistic that you'll need to self-verify in order to believe: How many Presidential elections between 1948 and 2008 (not including 1948 and 2008) had a Republican Ticket *without* Nixon, Dole, or Bush on it? Answer: One. Look it up. If we add Roosevelt and include both Tickets, we can go back to 1928 and the answer will be Two (1948 and 1964) - that's eighty years! This is presented as interesting, historical fact, and isn't subject to partisan commentary. Sorry.
  8. "Rope," Hitchcock's first Technicolor film, was an experiment of sorts for the director. The action takes place in real time, edited to appear as a single, continuous shot through the use of long takes. This movie is based on a play of the same name, and this filming technique makes the viewer feel as if they are watching a play rather than a film. *** SPOILER ALERT! *** "Rope" is the tale of two young roomnates who strangle a former classmate minutes before they host a dinner party. The corpse is stuffed into a large chest, on which they decide to serve their meal to their guests. The men had no issues with the deceased; they merely wanted to murder for murder's sake. Among the guests at the dinner party are the dead boy's father and fiancee. James Stewart plays the young men's prep school housemaster, who eventually unravels the mystery. John Dall is outstanding as the arrogant Brandon Shaw, who thinks commiting the perfect murder makes him superior to other men. Constance Collier gives a delightful performance as the dead man's aunt. James Stewart seems miscast in his role, and Farley Granger overacts on occasion as the nervous pianist. There is, however, a wonderful scene with Granger playing the piano while Stewart's character questions him. The metronome ticks faster and faster while the music becomes increasingly dissonant, creating a palpable sense of terror and suspense.
  9. With apologies for the lousy formatting, Don had this quote in the thread about who is the greatest men's tennis player of all time: "I read this article the other day which says that there are two athletes in American history that 'transcended and transformed' their sport: Babe Ruth and Wilt Chamberlain. I can't disagree with this - not even Gretsky had the impact those two had." The author picked the wrong hockey player. If you're looking at someone who "transcended and transformed" hockey based on offensive stats, it's Bobby Orr. He was the first offensive defenceman, and I mean "offensive" in the most positive light. As an example, without his example would Hall-of-Fame players like Paul Coffey or Ray Bourque played the way they did? (Disclaimer: I know a lot about Orr because he is my mom's favorite hockey player. Over a decade ago I bought her an autographed black-and-white 14"x20" of him flying through the air after his Stanley Cup-winning goal. Happiness is making your mom cry in a good way. BTW, his birthday is March 20.)
  10. Strandbeests are the kinetic sculptures of Dutch artist Theo Jansen. Created out of PVC piping, chords, and plastic sheeting, the beests march across the wind swept beaches of Scheveningen, Netherlands. From Dec. 3-7, 2014, Jansen will be bringing his creations to Art Basel Miami Beach. The presentation at Art Basel Miami Beach will be a preview for his first major US tour, with stops in NYC, Los Angeles, and Chicago during September 2015. But really you need to watch them to believe them: Video
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