Read/Watchlist + Music x Monday



  • the_aeronauts_windlassThe Aeronaut’s Windlass, Jim Butcher – I like this book and am excited for the sequel. (Psst, the figure on the front cover isn’t Captain Grimm,  it’s XO Creedy.)
  • Some Federation of the Hub stories–Legacy, and The Searcher–by James H. Schmitz. (Legacy is available as a free audiobook from Librivox, BTW.) Really good stuff from the golden age of science fiction: optimistic, imaginative, adventurous, funny, exciting. Highly recommend all Schmitz stuff to everyone.
  • Outlaws of Sherwood, Robin McKinley – a comfortably low-key variant on the Howard Pyle/N. C. Wyeth type of Robin Hood legend. It’s also very obviously written by a woman: it’s a lot more interested in the interpersonal relationships than the adventures, and is almost completely uninterested in making the villains threatening or the outlawry exciting. Not to say that it’s not a good book, only that it made me think fondly of the Toby Venables Knight of Shadows version.
  • Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett – …✨…


  • The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester – This has been described as The Count of Monte Cristo–in Space! It’s really not. For one thing, it’s about four hundred pages too short. Still, it’s a good story told in headlong pulp style, raw-edged and colorful, with just enough thought to hint at deeper meaning but without the self indulgence to pretend that depth is what makes it interesting.
  • Captain Blood, Rafael Sabatini – This is a historical fiction adventure-romance, not a pulp novel. You can tell by the way the protagonist keeps bouncing back and forth between different groups without making up his mind until almost the final chapter. Sidenote: during one of my college classes, Doc S was offering extra credit for reading “books,” preferably from his curated collection but also for various classics. I got probably an extra ten points by introducing him to Rafael Sabatini and also to this song. I wonder how Doc S is doing these days? (He also brought ice cream to the finals.)


  • Captain Blood (1935) – Accept no substitutes.
  • The Buccaneer (1938) – Cecil B. DeMille’s first take on the Battle for New Orleans. This version lacks the star power of the 1958 remake, but it has its own charm. One of the things that older-slash-better movies do is a) allow there to be background characters, b) give them visually distinct appearances, c) give them distinctive personalities. Even if these personalities are individually over the top, because the characters aren’t on screen for very long, they rarely have the chance to become grating. You’ll notice this trick was used to great effect in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
  • What Women Want – I thought I’d take advantage of a mild fever and watch something I normally wouldn’t.
    • Next time I’ll just take more pills and stare at the ceiling.

QuikReview: Ondine (2009)

4c5ff60086c9bSo sometime during the weekend I watched Ondine, a 2009 film starring a young/er Colin Farrell, Colin Farrell’s eyebrows, some actress as the titular character, and a cute kid as the cute kid in a wheelchair. It’s directed by Neil Jordan, who has also directed a number of other movies you may have heard of but not seen because they sound dumb, like Interview with a VampireOndine is, however the plot description may take you, a worthwhile little movie in itself: just a little bit grounded, just a little bit mysterious, and with just enough aplomb to wrap everything up in just a satisfactory enough way.

I’m not sure how many entries this particular genre has besides The Secret of Roan Inish, but so far it seems to be a worthy one. Selkies also feature in a couple of The Dragon Knight books, though. Hm.

Anyhow, Farrell is Syracuse (nee Circus), a fisherman who pulls a mysterious woman out of the ocean in his fishing nets. She gives her name as Ondine, wants absolutely nobody to know of her existence, and Syracuse hauls in weirdly good catches when she sings her mysterious, haunting songs in an unknown language. Syracuse’s disabled but precocious daughter immediately concludes that Ondine is a selkie (and never mind that selkies are Scottish, this movie is Irish, “Ondine” is French, and the actress playing her is “Mexican-born Polish.” Nice.) In a manner which makes subsequent twists crucially obvious to students of the genre, Ondine fails to deny this, and in fact recruits young Annie’s help to conceal her seal coat, washed up to land in the form of a bundle of seaweed. Syracuse himself isn’t totally convinced, but…what if this beautiful, wonderful woman is one of the seal-women who come to land only for love of the men they have chosen and can also grant wishes….?

Annie is, y’know, eight or nine. Syracuse just isn’t very bright.

I don’t have a lot to say about this movie and probably won’t watch it again unless The Mother of Skaith has a hankering for Irish accents, but it caught my interest and held my attention. The actors have great chemistry and the script is never embarrassing.

That’s not actually damning with faint praise, I swear.

Rated: So if the Coast Guard had them surrounded, why didn’t they arrest….?

The Mother of Skaith Reviews – Tombstone (1993)

“I am very sleepy! I watched that movie you gave me all the way through last night! It is very violent! But I watched it. I even started to watch that other thing. The Director’s Commentary. That man in it was very good! He was funny. No, he is not Sam Elliott! I know Sam Elliott! He was Virgil Earp. What was the last Earp man? There was Wyatt, and Virgil, and who was the other? Morgan Earp.

“Who played him? Don’t give me that, I know people! I just don’t know their names. Who was he!? Oh. No, I don’t know that person. Well, who was the other man? The funny man. The other bad man did the spinning thing with the gun, he did this and that and up and down, all fancy thing. And then the other fool man, he did the same thing with a cup! Doc. He was just mocking the man! I was laughing so much. How do you come up with that sort of thing? I tell you what, it was very good writing. How did they come up with that ? Like that man doing that, and Doc doing that to mock him. You have to really appreciate how good the writers are who come up with that sort of thing. I mean, real authors.

“How did Doc become a Doc? Was he a real doctor? Why did he go west if he was a doctor? How do you become a gunfighter if you go west? Oh, he had TB? What is TB again? Well, how did that make him decide he was going to become a gunfighter? You have TB and you gonna be a fighter?

“So when that Wyatt said, he sees the sash, which is what the Cowboys wear, he’s gonna shoot the man wearing it, and that Ike Clanton–was Ike Clanton the leader? Or was the man in the red shirt the leader?

“–so Ike Clanton, he out there running away and they’re running after chasing him, and he takes off his sash and throws it away. Did they still shoot him after that? The man is not wearing a sash any more! That’s what I said, it is very violent. There is a lot of running around and shooting and fighting. And those men were bad! The bad men in The Magnificent Seven, they just go there to rob the people, they don’t kill the people! Unless, you see the man come running out to kill you. He just wants to steal from the people. But these in this one, they go and they just be killing for no reason! Oh, were they stealing too? What were they stealing? What were they doing with cattle? I didn’t see any cattle in the movie.

“And was that opium? When the man in the red shirt comes out and he’s all shooting the moon. It was opium! The Director’s Commentary said so. You could just buy it back then, like over the counter medications today. But it is so addictive! And that girl, Wyatt’s wife. She was addicted to it! That’s very sad. What happened to her? No, in real life, I want to know, what happened to her?

“I know they died, Riders. It was a long time ago. Everybody in the movie is dead now in real life, yes, I know that. Thank you for telling me. I would not have known otherwise.

Warlock? Who is in that movie?”

(Reposted from 2019)

Femme-centric Read/Watchlist

I haven’t been able to watch movies that much lately, for which I blame my now retired 10+ year-old laptop. It has now been replaced by a model which can handle files like while also split-screening to browser/ Word/ Calibre, etc, or split-screening Youtube with other browser windows. Pretty basic, you’d think, but it’s been months since I could play youtube videos without them being annoyingly laggy.

Anyhow, I recently watched:

Bedelia – with Margaret Lockwood, after seeing the qualified recommendation on Riding the High Country. I actually became a lot less interested in reading the book (which is by Vera Caspary, author of Laura) upon learning that Caspary was at least somewhat a dirty Commie. Well, Laura was excellent, especially the movie version. Bedelia is OK and completely watchable but not great.

– Lightning Strikes Twice – starring Ruth Romans and the only other name I remember is Mercedes McCambridge (Romans is one of the female leads in The Far Country, and McCambridge was the powerhouse villain in Johnny Guitar.) It’s also a qualified recommend. It’s got the trappings of noir: snazzy hats, dubious motives, Byronic heroes, a persistent air of mystery and secrecy, and a murdered wife….thing is, it’s actually just a pretty straightfoward romance with the trappings of noir. Romans, the heroine, is a likeable, sympathetic, watchable heroine of the type they don’t write any more. She’s plucky and kind, outgoing, confident, and self-assured. But she’s also totally girly, without any pretensions of being a tomboy or tough girl, and prone to just flat-out running away when frightened, which happens more and more as she realizes that she may have just gotten in over her head…way over. McCambridge, though she has the smaller point, is the standout performance: tightly-wound, flute-voiced, and compulsively watchable.

Not bad at all, in a “they don’t make movies like this anymore–why?” way.

– The Scarf – starring John Ireland and Mercedes McCambridge,  and Discount James Mason. So McCambridge was the standout performance in the previous oeuvre, even though she played second fiddle there. She’s in a similar position, though not a similar role, here. Ireland (he was the one of the obnoxiously vengeful brothers in Vengeance Valley) is fine. McCambridge is the tough girl with a deeply buried heart of, eh, say about 16 carats. There’s also a philosophical turkey farmer. The movie is slow to take off, and the plot thins out considerably near the end, but it’s still overall a decent little movie.


– Dark Lord of Derkholm – Diana Wynne Jones. If I ever do get another dog, if it’s a black dog, it will be named Kit. (If it’s not and it’s a German Shepherd, it’ll be either Karrin or Audie Murphy. A merle of any breed will probably be Jezebel.)

– Chronology of Shadows: a Timeline of The Shadow’s Exploits – Rick Lai. I take some comfort in the fact that, two hundred and forty-eight books into this series, I am still not autistic enough to try and order them by internal chronological context clues.

Unless somebody offers to pay me to.

Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD – pt2 – With My Mother

Movie Review – Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD, pt1


I knew I’d find that notebook eventually. Additional pics are not included in this for the reason of time.

Fury goes to the lab of not-Q, (“Who is that guy? He’s not James Earl Jones….No.” “Nooo…” “No, don’t you recognize him?” “No, who is he?” “He’s the guy who’s in everything!” “What’s his name?” “….Not James Earl Jones.”) and instroduced to the Life Model Decoy: “I don’t know whether to congratulate you or stick a stake in its heart.”

“Why would it repeat what he says? They’re trying to get his voice?…They cloning him?”

Then gets briefed. Or, to be more accurate, briefs Rookie and Mindreader. Instead of being someone who gets spoonfed the plot by the experts, our hero is instead someone who does know what’s going on, and what to do with it. Competence! (also exposition.)

The current villainess, Blondie, is the daughter of the prior supervillain, whom Fury killed in the early 1990s. The raid at the beginning was to recover Daddy’s body and from it, with the help of Dr. McEvil, turn it into Bioweapon Very Dangerous: the Death’s-Head virus.

Fury and Co. head out–

“Where they going?”
“To go talk to the Doctor.”
“They have him?”
“But he’s not on their side! Is he?”

Meanwhile, Blondie is asserting her authority on her organization.

“Who all this?”
“She called all her henchmen.”
“Those are henchmen?”
“They’re lieutenants.”

If you guessed that this involves an elderly but lower-ranking member of said organization expressing his doubts about her leadership abilities (to say nothing of sanity, which is optional), her shooting a man in cold blood, getting off on it, and then laughing maniacally, you were spot on.

“Who is he, though?”
“He was one of the lieutenants.”
“Why’d she shoot him!”
“To make an example out of him?”

“That laugh was stupid….it’s not stupid. I can’t find a word. It was cartoony.”

(It really was, though.)

“A mind reader. Oh gosh.”

So off they go to somewhere else to go talk to the good (bad) doctor.

Nick and the Countess, finding themselves alone, exchange a few words concerning their breakup, but the real highlight of this part (“Oh, watch this, watch this, watch this!” “Watch what?”) is the password exchange between the SHIELD agents and their Interpol contact….

Contact: “I died for beauty, but was scarce adjusted (sp?) in the tomb–”
Nick: “–When one who died for truth was laid to rest in the adjoining room.”
Contact: [rounds corner, is a glamorous blonde in a beret and trenchcoat. Y’know, standard policing gear.] “Colonel Fury? Contessa? Inspector Gail Runceter. Interpol….is something wrong?”
Nick: [checks out] “Truth is beauty and beauty truth. That’s all ye on this Earth know and all ye need to know.”
Contact: “….is that part of the password?”
Nick: “Nah, I just felt like saying it.”

This was the point at which, the first time I saw this movie, the switch flipped from “Heh” to “Oh this is Awesome.”

“You got to admit that was funny.”
“It’s funny!”
“It is not realistic. They don’t do those codes any more. Might as well just use a thingy in the lapel.”

Haste is indicated; the Inspector has stumbled over a dead body. So they head for the safe house…

“What does the Countess do?”
“She’s Nick’s ex and his sidekick. Also the second in command on the strike team.”
“The blonde woman?”
“No, the black haired one!”
“Who is the blonde?”
“She’s with Interpol.”

The doctor is being held in the safehouse; he’s not cooperative.

“All they need is some scopalamine!”

They don’t have scopalamine, since it’s no longer 1944, but they do have a mind reader. She has some trouble getting through, but does manage to pull the required information. The Inspector subsequently pulls Fury aside with an urgent message.

“They’re inside, here?”
“So one of them is a traitor?”
“What? Her! Why?”

“Oh, it’s the other girl.”

The Mother of Skaith had a bit of trouble with this twist, since it’s hard to tell a black-haired woman who has been in the movie from the beginning from a blonde who hasn’t.

“So what happened to the Countess?”
“That girl was the Inspector. She was pretending to be the Inspector. The Countess is the girlfriend.”
“Oh! She’s a countess?….why?”

Meanwhile, in the confusion, the false-Inspector has infected Fury with the Death’s-head virus and made a clean getaway. Death is expected within 48 hours.

“Death….don’t they have a thingy?”

The antidote is only possible if they get a sample of Blondie/Viper’s DNA. Fury vows to get it, even if he has to “suck blood out of that vampire’s neck.”

“Oh! This is so…so…dramatic! I hope no children look at this!”
“Y’know, I would have loved this movie when I was a kid.”

It really is awesome, though.

The Contessa and Fury share another scene. In light of the fact that they have a Shared Past, and that he is Now Dying, you’d think it’d be a reconciliation….and you’d be wrong. We’re still only a third of the way through.

“What’s this? I thought you said she was his girlfriend.”
“Ex. And future.”
“I mean, they’re gonna get back together.”
“After he treated her like that?”
“Like what?”
“He was sleeping around!”
“She was, too! Look, they’re just mad at each other and hurling insults.”
“Hmph. Well, maybe he will learn. Maybe there will be character development and he will be a different person at the end.”

Now that the danger has gone global, there is another debriefing, this one with all the top brass and not just the team members and rookies. Fury has just exchanged sneers with the Officious Boss when he spots Officious Boss’s double. He shoots it.

“What! What! Who is he? What’s going on!”

It doesn’t seem to do any good; the double is a robot who projects a hologram of Blondie/Viper, issuing an ultimatum. A Lot of Money, or Manhattan gets the Death’s-Head. And, there’s a pretty cool line to cap it off:

“Against a force such as ours, there is no protection. Against Hydra, there is no SHIELD.”

That’s badass. It’s awesome, it’s cheesy, it’s simple and to the point and it works perfectly in context. Man, this movie rocks. I’d have loved it when I was a kid.

So. New threat equals new mission.

(Oh, and the robot double self-destructs. “Aha! It is like Mission impossible! It burned up the thingy!” There is also some amount of trouble with this twist as well… “How did he know which one to shoot?” “One of them was walking up and ignoring him and the other one was chewing him out.”)

Also, to prove the seriousness of her threat, Viper has sent an example: the real Inspector Runciter, infected with the Death’s-head.

“Why is she screaming now? She should have been screaming all along?”

They brief the President, who gives them (Fury) effective carte blanche on his plan. This pisses off Officious Boss, who wasn’t consulted about this plan. To be fair, Nick did undermine him a bit there. But most importantly, what the President signs off with is, “Our prayers are with you.”

“They wouldn’t say that these days.”

What is Nick’s plan? Part 1) find the virus launch platform. The Countess will do that. Part 2) find Viper, stop her and get the virus launch codes to stop it. Nick and his strike team of Mindreader and Rookie, will get that. Get it? Got it. Good.

“Did you hear that?”
“They said, ‘get it’, ‘got it,’ ‘good.'”

Despite Officious Boss’s disapproval (and the fact that post-poison Fury is not operating on all cylinders), the teams gear up and head out.

“Hero shot!”

They also take the LMD.

“The what?”
“The robot double.”

This leads to some interesting philosophical considerations.

“If the robot was leading them, would the people know? Who wants to be lead by a robot?”

Due to some handwavy detective work, Fury’s team has a location, though the Countess’s only has leads.

“How did they figure this truck was the one?”
“They’re the government. They have satellites.”
“It’s the wrong one!”
“They’re not necessarily good satellites….”

Aside from being sent the wrong coordinates by the HQ desk jockeys, the Countess’s team works with flawless professionalism, which gives me nothing of substance to complain about.

“I don’t think the Countess is pretty.”
“She is pretty.”
“She is, but her makeup is ugly.”

The real virus truck, under command of Viper’s brother, is parked in a warehouse somewhere, guarded by the pale minions who look like robots.

“That looks like a robot.”

Anyhow, so, long story short: the Contessa’s team finds and contains the virus truck,
(“What is it?”
“It’s too easy.”)
–but can’t risk pulling the plug on the missiles or pushing any buttons in case of a failsafe. So the countdown is still on. This is a stupid Hollywood cliche, and if they were really that worried about it, either the Countess’s team should have had a bomb disposal expert ON HAND, or someone from HQ should have been able to walk them through disarming it. Ah well. It’s the one and only sour note in this whole movie, so I’ll let it slide.

The countdown being still on and controlled from Nick’s side of the globe is important, because Nick and his team get thrown into the brig in about ten minutes, to Viper’s disgust.

“Just don’t let me hear her laugh again. It’s too foolish.”

Luckily, Nick’s eyepatch contains an electronic lockpick. Unluckily, that gets confiscated. What does not get confiscated is the fake eye beneath it. That’s made out of C4.

So they break free and go for round 2.

Round 2 is more successful; the LMD makes its reappearance, as does the gun Not-Q gave Nick. They take Viper prisoner, Mind Reader extracts the all-important code from her mind, and the Contessa is able to shut down the missiles in the nick (heh heh heh, get it?) of time. Manhattan and most of the Northeastern US is saved. Horay!

Viper does escape to villain another day, but on the plus side, Nick gets his antiserum, his old position back, his girlfriend back, and a Cuban cigar. The Helicarrier drifts into the sunset.

This movie rocks. Watch it.

Rated: Ten LMDs out of ten.

Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD, pt. 1 – With My Mother


[A/N: still pretty mentally exhausted. Pls enjoy repost, thx.]

Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD (1998)–wait, yes, I can hear the mental brakes squealing, please finish the paragraph–may just be the best comic book movie ever. Yes, comic book movies existed way back in the dim days of the dawn of time–before the beginning of the Marvel Universe, before the X-Men came, when woolly mammoths roamed the Earth. Granted, most of them weren’t all that good, but when they were, you get a masterpiece like this one.

Masterpiece? Welllllll….yeah. It’s a word I will stand by. This movie has the all-to-rare blend of cheese, competence, gusto, earnestness, cool–and (attempted) depth that makes it genuinely watchable, enjoyable, and even rewatchable.

Most of all: it tried. It kept trying all the way through. And most of it? Hits the mark.

Hasselhoff is excellent as the cigar-chewing (…and smoking, I guess), gives-no-darns tough guy, leader, and Father to His Men. He goes whole hog on the role, gives it his all, growls, scowls, grins, menaces, and muscles his way through with enormous success. It also helps that he’s got the physical build to play a larger-than-life character. Hasselhoff is 6’4 and consistently paired off with shorter actors, his costumes emphasize his shoulders, and, yeah, he looks good. Just about everybody else is well-cast, too: from the scrawny but he’ll-grow-into-it Rookie to the utterly punchable supercilious bureaucrat, to the slavering villainess.

Conflicted divorce lawyer single mom? Or glamorous super-spy?

The only real weakness is the action sequences. They’re extremely small-scale, and pretty darned flat. A little more money and a few dozen more stuntmen would have done wonders. I’d also point out that Lisa Rinna, Contessa Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine, “an old hand at the sexpionage game” and second in command on the strike team, appears not to have been informed that she’s in a comic book movie. Oh well.

So, plot:

Opening in A Bunker, Somewhere,

“Ooo! He’s gonna shoot him!…who shot him?”
“Ok, so, that guy–”
“No, no, I know who got shot, it was that guy who was talking. Why?”
“Because the other guy is a traitor.”

HYDRA infiltrates and then attacks a SHIELD base to steal the corpse of Baron von Germanname, last of the global bogeymen. As to why there is a corpse on ice and not a pile of ashes in an unmarked urn somewhere, well, no clue. There is some slight resistance–

“Who this? Oh, the guy who was shot. Is he not dead?”

–a little bit of action–
“I don’t know what is going on.”

–Our first one-liner–

“That was a stupid saying. ‘Lets rock and let’s roll.’ For what?”

“What is going on? Still don’t know.”

–and a reveal of our female villain. The almost-dead-guy gasps out some dying words…
“What? What? He thought she was a boy? A man?”
“No, he was talking to Nick.”
“Like, just in general. Like, his last words. Like, ‘Mama!’ Only, he says Nick.”

And we are introduced to Nick Fury, a retired badass who is for reasons known only to himself spending his days in an abandoned mine in the Yukon, whaling on a rock wall with a pickaxe. Hey…wonder if he knows anyone else up there….

However, duty calls in the shape of a slightly-gormless new recruit who doesn’t even mind that Fury’s first response to the intrusion is a rather resentful beatdown.

“Is that Nick? Nick Fury? Why is he doing that?”
“He didn’t know who it was.”
“He had no call to beat the man!”
“It could have been an enemy!”
“You look first, and then you beat people! You do not beat them first! This is not a good Nick Fury.”

Fury, it turns out, is rather bitter about having been put out to pasture, and isn’t interested, until he’s told about SceneOne McDeadGuy.

“They killed who?”
“That guy who said ‘Nick’.”

After exchanging barbs with Contessa Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine, “an old hand at the sexpionage game,” and yes, that is a direct quote from the movie, matters proceed.

“What is this girl’s name? Pretty girl.”


“The eyepatch is not necessary.”
“He only has one eye!”
“Right. They didn’t have to have him that way.”
“He was that way in the original.”

Onboard the Helicarrier, we are introduced to PaleFace MindReader, an mind reader, who introduces herself by reading Fury’s mind.

“Did she know him?”
“No. She’s a mind reader.”
“She is?”

The Helicarrier set is quite a nice one. Yes, it’s a leftover from whatever submarine flick was released that year, but it has excellent set dressing and depth of field or whatever that sort of thing is called. And having background chatter, PA announcements, lots of extras moving around, so on and so forth, is also good for setting up verisimilitude. I mostly just like the fact that it’s not 110% CGI.

Notice the depth of the set on that second image: the heroes have already gone through one set of airlocks, the current space they’re standing in, and then the Contessa in the background is opening up the elevator, which they enter on camera in a single tracking shot. That’s cool!vlcsnap-2018-05-31-11h20m08s557(Fury is grinning because he can’t hear the No Smoking sign over the sound of how awesome he is)

So Nick Fury, un-retired badass, gets straight to the butting of heads with his supercilious, obstructive, and petty supervisor. We know this guy is obstructive and petty because he tells Fury to put out that cigar.

“He shouldn’t be smoking! Breaking the rules is when you do good to break the rules. He is not a hero. That is an anti-hero….no matter how many people like him.”
“Nicotine is addictive.”
“That is not an excuse.”
“Look, he has to have the cigar when he says those lines, because they’d sound stupider if he didn’t have it.”
“I bet it helps him keep a straight face!”

The standard debriefing/cool toys scene follows:

“James Bond! He is M…? Q, no, he’s Q.”

As does a quick one that spoke deeply to my ex-payroll preparer heart:

“Heh, heh, heh, did you get that? It’s his W4. They’re trying to get him to sign his W4.”
“And he should!”

We are also introduced to the Life Model Decoys, a concept which plays quite an important part in the comics and also (HINT HINT FORESHADOWIIIIIING HINT) in this very movie. We also get a pretty cool line: “I don’t know whether to congratulate you or put a stake in its heart.”
Meanwhile, The Rookie is asking leading questions so the senior agents can explain the plot to him. The scene is a bit on the nose, but it serves its purpose to a) provide exposition for the audience, b) make it clear that the senior agents know what they’re talking about….so it really isn’t Rookie’s fault he’s a bit gormless.


“This guy…is he gonna be a crook?”
“He looks like a crook.”
“He’s a rookie. That’s why they have him chasing the W4s around.”
“Well then why doesn’t he know this stuff? This is important history.”
“Because he’s a rookie!”
“He’s an agent, isn’t he?”
“He just graduated from spy school! He’s not supposed to know anything!…heh heh heh, did you get that, spy school? High school? Heh heh. That was funny.”

To be continued later on account of my notebook went missing.

Raw Edge (1956 ) – Western Movie Review (rerepost)

raw-edge-hs[A/N: currently I have enough mental energy to work, work out, and eat food that isn’t the emergency pizza stash. Please enjoy this repost. ]

So I stumbled across this movie via Jeff Arnold’s Western movie blog). His review indicated, in short, that this movie is One Weird Puppy, but also that it starred Yvonne DeCarlo (she was in The Ten Commandments! And Criss Cross, and Brute Force. Really, IMDB, Brute Force? Huh.) Also, it has Rory Calhoun (Look, if you don’t watch 1950s B-Westerns, I don’t know what to say to you), and a couple of those other bit actors that you always can have fun spotting in the background going “sure, boss,” leering, and attempting the shoot the hero in the back.

IMDB: “In the lawless Oregon country of 1842, local magnate Gerald Montgomery decrees that any unattached woman belongs to the first taker. Dan Kirby is lynched, starting a stampede to claim his half-Indian wife Paca. Trouble starts with the local tribe, but worse is in store when Dan’s tough brother Tex rides in. The zeal of Montgomery’s men to protect him from Tex is tempered by their lust for Hannah, who’d be his widow.”

Soooo….yep, this is a weird movie all right. The person set up as the main villain does not have a big showdown with the hero; he’s absent most of the movie and the person whom the hero does confront and conquer is the two-bit thug we have been seen being a despicable lech the entire time. And there is the, uh, extremely weird setup for the plot to begin with.

(Quoth the Mother of Skaith: “Was that actually the law?” “No, mom. They made it up for the movie.” “Oh. Why?”)

What sets this movie apart from pure exploitation is the fact that all the characters–including the women–actively and intelligently work in their own interests. In both cases (yes, there’s only two women in the movie), their own interests prioritize: staying alive, protecting their loved ones, or avenging their loved ones, as well as conforming–or attempting to conform to–to standards of human decency.

Plot: So after the lynching of the guy who is going to be avenged by a handsome stranger with a gun, Mrs Montgomery/Hannah attempts to get his widow, Paca, to safety with her tribe. This doesn’t work; Paca is claimed by one of Montgomery’s men. She isn’t happy with the situation, needless to say, but sticking with the guy who can protect her is the only way to stay alive. She sticks with him, until the time comes when she can safely turn it around and…well….it’s not really a satisfying revenge, because it’s over too quickly. Meanwhile, Mr. Montgomery is absent (doing stuff. What stuff? The kind of stuff that keeps you out of the house when a handsome mysterious stranger with a gun arrives after you’ve lynched his brother), Mrs. Montgomery is not, and a handsome stranger mysterious stranger has just showed up with a gun.

You can kind of guess what happens from there on out. And even if you don’t, it’s unpredictably fun to watch happen.

Mrs. Montgomery is the damsel in distress of the movie and as such, given the expectations of modern audiences, is, well, actually slightly annoying. I kept yelling for her to get a freaking gun of her own. However, she is a genuinely likeable character regardless, and moreover, she’s consistently written. She remains ladylike and resourceful throughout all. You buy her personality and don’t want her to be hurt. She’s a loyal wife who loved (past tense) her husband, and is also semi-aware that the entire situation is his and partly therefore her fault. Still, Lady, get a freaking gun. (She does, however, attempt to brain a thuggish lech [Neville Brand, flashing his best teeth for the camera] with a candlestick in the final shootout. Which is something.)

The Indians are also given a treatment rather unusual for early westerns. They don’t whoop, they don’t shoot arrows, and they don’t get mowed down by the white men. They react to the murder of one of their own in a measured, reasonable way, and it’s quite satisfying.

The photography and acting is also very good; color is nicely used, scenery is lush, sets nice, etc. Yvonne looks spectacular and Rory is more than adequately handsome. I’m also out of time, so,

Rated: Four ornamental bull’s heads out of five.

Quik ReReview: Fort Bowie (1958)

Fort BowieFort Bowie is a 1958 Western movie that stars Ben Johnson and a bunch of other names I don’t recognize. Probably no one else will, either. Anyhow:


– Heh, he mentioned Mangas Coloradas (AKA, Lex Barker in the Barker-Johnson vehicle War Paint. Or War Pony. Or something like that. Previously reviewed on this blog somewhere.)  (Do I watch too many ’50s Westerns? Nooooooo of course not.)

– I’d watch a movie called War Pony.

– Well, you can’t say that this movie isn’t quick and to the point as far as characterization and plotting goes. We’re at 6 minutes flat and we know who is who and what’s what. Ben is Tomahawk Thompson, the Good Captain. The Bad Major is a Washington stooge who shoots Indians under a truce flag. The wishy-washy Colonel isn’t going to like this. (Neither are the Indians, but really, who cares?)

– Mind, the writing is pretty clunky. But it’s still fast-moving and fast-moving cheese is the best kind of cheese.

– OK, the Colonel just said he wanted his wife…alive, in one piece, and with her hair still on, three separate times in one conversation. If that isn’t a code for “murder that b*tch please” I don’t know what ain’t.

– Heh, “The woman of Victorio” was cast out by the Apache, who don’t trust her. Quoth Ben: “Seems to me you’re in a bad spot, lady. We don’t trust you, either.”

– Wow, that was direct of her.

– Oh, OUCH.

– You’d probably get in trouble for beating up a civilian.

– Wow, Ben is a magnet for forward women in this film, ain’t he. (…even though it’s hard to tell at bootleg resolution) (still not obsessed).

– Wow, Ben gets lucky a lot in this movie. Mind you, this is not a good idea. It’s not even as though the Colonel is particularly bad: he’s even resisting the Political Officer’s insinuations about genocide.

– The Colonel even dotes on her, she’s just a witch!

– Why are we spending so much time watching this witch?


– YIKES SHE CAME RIGHT OUT AND SAID IT?! (Ben, we told you it was a bad idea!)


– So Ben gets what’s probably a suicide mission: take terms to Victorio while the other cavalry troops go rampaging around meanwhile. He points out that it might not be definite suicide, if the terms are such that Victorio likes them. Why do I get the sudden feeling that Victorio is not going to be offered reasonable terms….?

– “But sir, Victorio will chop Thompson into pieces and throw them at us!” (Direct quote).

– I love this movie. It’s pure cheese, but it moves fast, it thinks about things on an adult level, and then it does something juvenile while giggling instead.

– Ben salvages his conscience, dignity, and honor out of the wreckage of a conversation with Mrs. Colonel. That takes some doing…..ohh, so he actually didn’t sleep with her. He turned her down and she took it poorly. Well, obviously, he’s the hero.

– Ben points out that if Victorio smells a trap, he, Ben, will be in deep trouble.
“Yes, you’d be the first victim.”
“But not the last, sir.”

– So: there is a possibility Ben might survive the Colonel’s Uriah Gambit. On the other hand, there is a strong possibility Mrs. Colonel is going to end up dead by the end of the movie. AND GOOD RIDDANCE. The Indian girl is much nicer, Ben.

– Oops, the negociations failed. Well, who could have possibly seen that happening?

– Aww, Victorio rides a white horse, and he gets to kill the evil Major himself. And then scalp him. See, that’s what we call progress!

– ….mind you, he does leave orders for Ben and Co. to be tortured. It’s an incremental process.

– That was the most lackluster stampede I’ve ever seen. Sheesh.

– See, this film has kind of set things up to the point where I’m actually hoping the Apaches take Fort Bowie. And that’s not really a good thing, honestly, because aside from Victorio there are no Indian characters to be rooting for.

– Lady, loading rifles is honestly the least you could do. And shut up and stop trying to manipulate your husband. WHAT THE HECK DO YOU MEAN, YOU’VE NEVER LOVED ANY MAN BUT HIM? WHAT? ARGH.

– Oh no, darn it, the cavalry has arrived. Drat. I was hoping they’d take the fort!

– Tomahawk fight! A clinch! Oh no! Who will the Colonel shoot with his last bullet!?

– Well, Ben survived.

– Also the Colonel has apologized.

– Indian Girl is injured, but at least she’s got Ben….


Rated: Lol, it’s a B-grade Western, what do you expect?

ReReview: Broken Arrow (1996)

mv5bmty1ntqzmdqwmf5bml5banbnxkftztywotq1otk4._v1_uy1200_cr10706301200_al_I kind of really wanted to like this movie. Unfortunately, it[‘s actors] lack…charisma. John Woo wasn’t exactly dealing with the cream of acting crop, sure, and it’s a big step down to end up with Christian Slater when you’re used to Chow Yun-fat, but when he can’t even make flying through the air sideways while firing two guns cool…you’ve got problems. (Apparently, this is the fault of the studio execs, who trimmed most of the violence and an unknown amount of the characterization.)

So…it’s…it’s not good. But it’s not actually….bad. It’s not nearly as stupid a stupid action movie could be, because every time something is happening that looks like it’s going to be utterly moronic…something else that’s only moderately stupid happens instead. And there are some bits that are just beautiful. Mainly, I think the problem is the cast. While John Travolta has plenty of material to go ham on (and does), Christian Slater and Samantha Mathis as our embattled heroes have a lot less dialogue, and a lot more action-interaction. And while on paper they become a fire-forged, nuke-disarming team…they just utterly and completely lack any spark together. (IMDB claims they were exes, which might explain it.) Slater actually does pretty well too with the bonkers dialogue (“When the day comes when we have to go to war against Utah, we are really going to kick ass.”)–but without it, well…

As far as other performances go, they’re fine. Look, I don’t know anyone else’s name. The black guy who played the good-guy colonel, and the weasely guy who played the weasely-guy analyst were also quite fine.

Plot: Travolta and Slater are Air Force pilots. Travolta is the senior and more colorful Colonel, while Slater is the Captain guy who, if he had a family, would be showing pictures of them to his coworkers. [OH SHIT I’VE BEEN DOING THAT] brokenarrows1However, since he’s the heartthrob hero, he manages to eject and survive when Colonel Travolta turns out to be working with a crew of bad guys, crashes of the triangle-stealth-aircraft thingy and steals the nukes. While the Pentagon is sending guys to rappel down canyons (no idea why they couldn’t just walk in, but it does look really fun) and scrambling a weasely-looking analyst to the scene, STAT (….why?), Captain Hero has landed in a national park and is discovered by a cute park ranger girl.


And, well…look, if you’re going to have your lead characters meet and hit it off with a martial-arts-infused knife versus gun Mexican Standoff that becomes a No I Have The Upper Hand But Look I Gave You Your Gun Back Please Trust Me…it ought to be well-choreographed and they ought to have insane levels of chemistry. Neither of these things apply.

Anyhow, whenever John Woo actually has something to sink his stylistic teeth into (the loading a revolver while the attack helicopter approaches montage), it’s great. On the other hand, while our heroes are wandering around in the desert with no way of affecting the plot and nothing to do but attempt to act in the midst of an interpersonal-chemical void, it’s not great.

(Although, the action sequence with the cars was great.) I mean, in what other movie ever have you seen a car chase end with the villain hosing his own car down with a fire extinguisher?


Still, this movie has an interesting degree of charm, partly because it thinks it’s really cool (slow-mo John Travolta in aviator shades striding through the desert! John Travolta chowing down on scenery in teeth-baring display of low-volume hamminess!) and partly because it, well, it kind of is cool. I mean, you’ve got helicopters (that are real helicopters), desert settings (that are real deserts), natural colors (that aren’t washed out with orange and blue filters), explosions (that are real gasoline explosions), and stuff like depth of field (that isn’t zoomed in on some jackass actor’s face as he tries to be theatrical–you get real desert vistas and canyon walls. Quality stuff, especially these days when everything except the jackass actors is CGI.) Woo and company took a crew and a brace of actors and a set of vehicles that they took out into the desert, lined everything up, and hit Go. And it looks good.

(Stupid, but good.)

Anyhoo, the plot proceeds, with our heroes disposing of one nuke relatively safely in an abandoned copper mine (I mean, it does go off), but the other one still at large. Also, the EMP blast has ensured that the government’s response is going to be even more incompetent than it has been so far. Which is pretty freaking incompetent. Nevertheless, our heroes persevere. And if they’d been played by people who could act or at least sell the lame dialogue they’re forced to recite, it would have been a lot more exciting. (The heroine is set up to almost be a cool, tough, actiony but still vulnerable heroine. She just….can’t act, isn’t athletic, can’t do martial arts, has zero chemistry with the hero [even when doing the mandated post-riverborne escape scene cuddling], and isn’t even all that good-looking, though that might just be the 90s’-style makeup.)

So anyway, the heroine ends up on the truck with the nuke whilst the heroes have a brief argument re: SAVE THE GIRL versus I HAVE ORDERS (haha, j/k, we’re gonna save the girl.)

So there’s a helicopter-vs-train action scene, until the helicopter explodes because the pilot forgot that he had ONE JOB and flies INTO A MOUNTAIN. DUDE. It’s a really, really egregious way of turning the battle into a gun-vs-gun fight, which devolves into a fistfight which, what do you expect, the hero wins and oh boy he manages to click-disarm the nuke whilst diving sideways out of the speeding train okay, okay, FINE, yes it is very cool.

Nailed it.

Anyhow, day saved, villain killed, heroes hug (so terribly awkwardly it’s probably for the best Woo cuts away quickly). And, well….quiverfull?

Rated: it coulda been a contender.

ReReview: Female on the Beach (1955)

025192118982OH MY GOSH LADY CALL THE COPS. (throw him out first). (and before that, make him give you back his key.) (and then, buy a gun.) OH MY GOSH. This isn’t going to end well.

Although it’s no wonder he’s got an inflated opinion of himself, if he knows he’s able to drive women to attempted murder-suicide and this isn’t even a chick he slept with….this really isn’t going to end well.

Ladies, when you are talking to a creepy little f*cker, even if he’s managing to be less creepy and explain himself, DO NOT APOLOGIZE FOR BEING QUOTE RUDE UNQUOTE. Especially when he’s explaining to you that he’s a gigolo who is chasing you for your money and oh yes he was involved with the previous tenant, who, BY THE WAY, fell to her death mysteriously FROM YOUR BALCONY. Two days ago. I mean, seriously, they haven’t even fixed the railing yet, good grief!

(This isn’t going to end well.)

Zing! I like this detective. He’s going to be the guy who picks up all the pieces afterwards, isn’t he? (Unless he’s the AKTUAL MURDERER, but I doubt that.)

EFF OFF YOU CREEPY LITTLE F*CKER! AND TAKE YOUR PUSHERS WITH YOU…oh good, she sent them packing. BUT NOT HIM, SHEESH LADY. Oh, this isn’t going to end well….Oh. Kay. Riiiiiiiiiiiight.

Getting zinged by the cleaning lady: you ain’t doing well.

Lady, that’s just embarassing. All that? At your age?

OKAY, the detective is definitely smelling fishy, and it isn’t because of the shark hook.

Okay, we have now progressed to a) romantic bridal carrying, b) the detectives now have binoculars. What the heck is up with this movie?

You pimps are annoying.

I’m on Team Detective….

This scene in its native tongue:
– Meow grr hiss.
– Meow?
– Hissss
– Meow, mew, mew, licks paw.
– licks paw, cleans ear, licks paw again: mew?
Hissssss, flicks tail, leaves, tail still flicking.
As entertaining as that was, in hindsight, it’s kind of obvious that the writers didn’t actually know how to end this script and were fishing around for an actual villain.


Ugh you pimps are really annoying. Ahaha. Gosh. That guy’s even more of an obvious loser than Drummond is.

Okay, explain to me how you managed to knock him all the way to the floor with one slap? He’s a foot taller than you and made of stacked muscle. Seriously? You also gave him a concussion??

Gah, I really hate you catty lady. Oh no! She switched them! She set them up it was her doing OH MY GOSH!

Oh, and the detective is watching.

(Oh whew she’s okay. ((How did she make it out the water without even getting her hair wet?)))

Ugh gross it’s another kissing scene.

Well, that was underwhelming. I expected someone was going to die.

Rated: it’s a romance, we’ll be generous. 3/5 stars.