Saturday, September 29, 2018

MLP:FIM Sounds of Silence S8 Ep23

This morning's episode introduces us to a new writer, Gregory Bonsignore. This episode was storyboarded by Cory Toomey (Who has been boarding for the show since season 2) and Megan Willis (who has been boarding for the show since season 6). In this episode Applejack and Fluttershy are sent to solve a friendship problem in the land of the Kirin, who have taken a vow of silence after an argument causes damage.

This episode very closely follows the formula set by the map episodes. The map tells two ponies to got to one place to solve a friendship problem. The problem happens to resemble a conflict those two ponies have with each other. Both conflicts get solved and it is a job well done. Honestly I was happy to get away from the redundancy of these storylines with the episodes revolving around the kids lately. Still I have to admit this episode does the story quite well. The lesson here about how you can't just give up living your life because you might hurt someone is an important lesson. Autumn Blaze is a great character and she is a joy to watch. The humor is very funny, and there are quite a few good laughs here. The animation is excellent, with the characters' facial expressions and reactions are just as funny and sometimes even funnier than the jokes. Overall this is a fun episode that has quite a bit to offer even if it all is very familiar.

-Michael J. Ruhland

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Movie Review: Smallfoot

Review Written By Michael J. Ruhland

Michael's Movie Grade: B

Review: A delightfully enjoyable movie.

There is a lot to recommend this movie. The characters here are fantastic. There are no bad guys in this movie, as everybody has a very understandable reason for what they do. Nobody is out to hurt anybody else, they are instead out to either protect others or themselves, enlighten, learn or just trying to keep themselves from financial difficultly. Because of this these conflicts feel so human and completely relatable. We understand perfectly where they come from at all times, and it is easy to put ourselves in their shoes and feel what they feel. Among these conflicts are lessons about blindly believing and following what others tell you and about the importance of keeping your own integrity in a world that doesn't value it. These lessons are not subtle and in fact there is dialogue that directly states these exact things. However these lessons are beautifully worked into the movie. There is never a feeling that the entertainment stops so the movie can preach. Instead the lessons come naturally from the stories and characters. As well as any of this though the movie is just a lot of fun. The design work is fantastic. The characters have a goofy and silly look that is automatically appealing and enhances many of the slapstick scenes. However it is not too silly for us to take the story serious enough for the serious scenes to work. Speaking about the humor it is very good. There are many scenes in this movie that make me laugh. Of course Warner Brothers Animation has been known for its great slapstick comedies since the days of Looney Tunes, and it continues that legacy here. The slapstick is perfectly timed and the character's facial expressions always enhance the slapstick and make it even funnier. Still these jokes again always come directly from the story and add to it instead of detract from it.

The story in this movie is simple and charming. However its familiarity is obvious. We have seen much of this before and from the first song number you can probably guess the majority of the story and get it right. The whole movie is very predictable and because of this at times we feel we have seen this before. One scene in the bottom of a cave showing cave drawings even made me think of a movie as recent as Early Man. Still it is a story that is well told despite its predictability. The songs are also very familiar. Though the are new songs they don't feel new, but instead like so many other songs from recent animated movies. The songs are still pleasant to listen to and there was never a song that I actually disliked. Still there is nothing that I am going to remember tomorrow.

Overall a charming and fun, if familiar movie.

-Michael J. Ruhland      

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Hold That Ghost (1941)

With Halloween coming up, I am going to look at and write about each of the spooky-themed Abbott and Costello feature film. First up is Hold That Ghost.

Hold That Ghost was Abbott and Costello's fourth appearance in a feature film and the third one in which they were the stars. It was supposed to be their third film overall and was the third completed. However after Buck Privates became such a smash hit, it was decided to make the next movie another service comedy. So the release of this film was delayed  as the boy's made In The Navy. This plan worked out well as In the Navy was the highest earning film of 1941. Hold That Ghost was originally going to be titled, Oh, Charlie! after a scene where Lou is looking to find a man (who has been killed) named Charlie. Lou as he looks around keeps saying "Oh Charlie." Hold That Ghost was again another giant hit for the boys and is my personal favorite Abbott and Costello film.

This movie was the first Abbott and Costello movie written by Robert Lees and Fredric I. Rinaldo. This writing team would prove to be perfect for the boys' scare comedies as they would also write Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein and Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man. In my opinion these are the three best of the boys' scare comedies. This is one of the five Abbott and Costello pictures directed by Arthur Lubin. His other four being Buck Privates, In the Navy, Keep 'Em Flying and Ride 'Em Cowboy.

Like many of Abbott and Costello's early pictures, this movie features musical numbers as well as comedy. The film originally was not going to have any musical numbers. However when shown an early version of the movie, a preview audience asked where The Andrew Sisters were (they had been in the Bud and Lou's previous two films). Additional scenes were than added with The Andrews Sisters performing two song numbers, Sleepy Serenade and Aurora. As an Andrews Sisters fan, I am very happy for these additions, especially since both of them are such great songs. Aurora is especially one of my favorite Andrew Sisters songs. Sleepy Serenade was written by Lou Singer and Mort Greene and The Andrew Sisters released it on record shortly before its use in this film with the words on the record stating "From New Universal Picture 'Oh Charlie!" Aurora was written by Mario Lago and Roberto Roberti, with new English lyrics by Harold Adamson. The Andrews Sisters would later again record this song for there 1957 album, The Andrew Sisters in Hi-Fi for Capitol Records. Also performing a couple songs in this movie is Ted Lewis and his orchestra. One of these songs was When My Baby Smiles at MeThis song was written by Bill Murno, Andrew B. Sterling and Lewis himself. Lewis had originally recorded and released the song in 1920, and it became on of his biggest hits. He also performed in this movie Me and My Shadow, written by Al Jolson, Billy Rose and Dave Dreyer. This song had been an important part of Lewis' live performances since it was written in 1927. Both of these are again excellent songs, but unfortunately we only hear parts of them unlike The Andrews Sisters songs which get a full treatment here. Still what we hear of these two songs is completely delightful. Maybe it is because I am a fan of music from this era, but I actually find the song numbers in these early Abbott and Costello movies to add to my enjoyment instead of detract like it does for so many others today. Whatever the reason I love the musical numbers in these movies and this movie is no exception. 

Production was set back because of the scenes where Bud and Lou work at a gas station. The studio had a hard time finding an appropriate gas station. Eventually the studio up making a gas station set themselves. This set would be reused for the Abbott and Costello movie Pardon My Sarong.     

One joke in the script did not make it past the censors. When working at the gas station Bud would explain why Ethel costs more stating "You can go further with Ethel." Not surprisingly this was cut out of the film. However a shockingly risqué joke would actually be in the finished movie. Lou accidently breaks his bed, and Camille (Joan Davis) says they will have to share a bed. Lou then does his trademark whistle.

Some gag sequences would be reused in later Abbott and Costello films. One of them would be a comic ballet between Lou Costello and Joan Davis. Lou would later do a similar (though not as funny) bit with Dorothy Ford in Jack in the Beanstalk. A sequence of a moving candle would be reworked into Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. That moving candle routine was actually where the idea to make Hold That Ghost came from. They had performed this routine on burlesque and also for their original audition for Universal. One joke written for this movie, but that didn't make it into the film was actually used in the later Abbott and Costello film, Ride 'Em Cowboy. In this joke Bud mentions a herd of cows to which Lou responds "Of course I've heard of cows."

Because Lou's scared act went over so well with audiences, a scene with Lou scared would be put into the next Abbott and Costello movie, Keep 'Em Flying.

There is so much to recommend about this movie. It has some of the funniest scenes the team ever did. These include the amazing comic ballet, the changing rooms and Lou's failed attempt at being a waiter. Many individual jokes here are also very funny. I love when Lou states that he is scared to go into the dark with no one to talk to. Bud asks him why he doesn't just talk to himself. Lou responds "I get too many stupid answers." Also adding to the comedy here is an amazing comedic performance by Joan Davis. Her comedic chemistry with the boys is perfect and she adds so many great laughs to this movie. Watching her and Lou do the comic ballet is a wonder to behold. The musical numbers are again great here. Filled with energy and excitement these songs are just a joy. As many of you know at this time, Universal excelled at making horror films, and the same care and attention seems to be on this movie. The look of this movie, from the lighting to the cinematography is incredible. It gives an amazing sense of atmosphere that is absent from most slapstick comedies. Due to this the movie gives much of the same amazement that is seen in the best of those Universal horror films and the images as well as the jokes and the songs stay in one's mind after the movie is over. Beyond all this though the movie is just tremendously entertaining. There is not one dull spot and the whole film just puts a smile on my face each time I watch it. No wonder this is my favorite Abbott and Costello movie. 

-Michael J. Ruhland

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Movie Review: The House With a Clock in its Walls

Review Written By Michael J. Ruhland

Michael's Movie Grade: B

Review: A delightful mixture of comedy and horror.

What makes this movie work so well is that the comedy and horror blend so well. Neither overpowers or takes the spotlight away from the other. Instead they both complement each other perfectly. Both are completely part of the story and characters and feel like they grow naturally out of them, instead of being inserted in for their own sake. The horror gives a dark edge to the comedy, while the comedy helps move the story along without us feeling like we are waiting for the next scary thing to happen. On top of this both are quite well done. There may be jokes that don't land in this film, but the ones that do are quite funny. This is a family movie so naturally the horror isn't as horrifying as it is in so many strictly adult aimed horror films, but it is still effective. Some of the images seen here are legitimately creepy and cause a definite sense of unease. Even though this is a family movie, I have no doubt some kids will have bad dreams after watching it. This creepiness will make much of the audience uncomfortable and this uncomfortableness adds extra depth to the sense of atmosphere in this film. The director Eli Roth has worked on some extremely violent R rated movies in the past but he shows here he can still , creating something as effectively dark within a PG rating. Also great here is the cast. As always there is just something so likable about Jack Black in his role, that gives the movie great charm and adds to its humor. Cate Blanchett proves just as effective as a powerful but emotionally hurt witch. Young Owen Vaccaro is definitely good enough to hold his own with these two seasoned pros.    

Sadly many of the scenes that take place at school feel like we have seen them before and done much better (though two basketball scenes are very funny). These scenes feel like they are going through the motions making them feel disappointing compared to the rest of the movie.

All in all this a delightful movie and good Halloween fun.

-Michael J. Ruhland

Overlooked Classics: My Pal Paul (1930)

A movie that is happily getting more attention lately is King of Jazz starring Paul Whiteman. This is an excellent film, with many great songs, some corny but funny comedy and a lovely two stirp Technicolor look. One of the highlights of that movie is a brief animated sequence from Walter Lantz about how Paul Whiteman was crowned the King of Jazz. This sequence was fast paced, funny and represented Lantz and his team at its best. This sequence however was not Walter Lantz's only work that had to doe with King of Jazz. Lantz also made a Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon that was in many ways an advertisement for the feature film.

 This cartoon was titled My Pal Paul. As this film starts a silhouette resembling Paul Whiteman is standing in front of a billboard poster for King of Jazz. This silhouette turns around and reveals himself as Oswald. Oswald is playing a dog's tail as a musical instrument with a bow similar to what Mickey Mouse did with a cat two years earlier in Steamboat Willie. However a small dog finds that Oswald is not really playing the music as he discovers a record player underneath Oswald's "bandstand." All the animals in the barnyard make fun of Oswald and this upsets Oswald so much he decides to hang himself. He is stopped by none other than Paul Whiteman. Oswald decides to show off to his new pal by taking apart Paul's car and playing each part as a musical instrument. They join together in a jam session that includes songs from King of Jazz, such as Happy Feet, Song of the Dawn (Written by Jack Yellen and Milton Ager), It Happened in Monterey (Written by Billy Rose and Mabel Wayne) and Ragamuffin Romeo (Written by Mabel Wayne and Harry Da Costa). This is all fun until Paul realizes what his "pal" has done to his car.

It seems that many of the best Walter Lantz cartoons center around music, whether classical or jazz. There is something about music that always seemed to bring out the most energy in the films of this studio. One only has to think of the great Swing Symphony cartoons or the Woody Woodpecker classics Barber of Seville and Convict Concerto. My Pal Paul is no exception. James Dietrich's music direction here is fantastic as it is in all these early Lantz cartoons. There is a sense of pure fun and energy in this cartoon that I find irresistible. While the animation itself doesn't reach the level of what Disney was doing at this time, it is well above average for a Lantz short of this time. Adding to the fun of fun is that we get to here Paul Whiteman's real voice here singing some of the songs.


Also working on this film is a great crew of animators. Animating here are Ray Abrams, Bill Nolan, Clyde Geronimi, Manuel Moreno and Pinto Colvig. Geronimi would become a legendary Disney animator and director. He would go on to codirect such films as Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp and 101 Dalmatians. Abrams would continued animating for Lantz all the way through the 1950's. Nolan was an incredible animator who played a huge role in this early Lantz cartoons, and he would go onto to become an important animator and director for the Fleischer studio and later Famous Studios. Moreno would spend most of his career animating on these 1930's Lantz cartoons. Though Colvig worked as an animator for Lantz and as a writer for Fleischer, he is probably best remembered as the voice of Goofy for Disney.

Though many today recognize Oswald as a Disney character at this time he was not. Walt Disney would learn that he did not actually own the rights to Oswald, and after refusing to take a pay cut would have the character taken away from him. The man who was responsible for taking the character away was Charles Mintz. However Universal which was distributing these cartoons took the character away from him and gave it to the head of their new animation department, Walter Lantz, who would continue making Oswald cartoons until 1943.

This cartoon can be found on the Criterion release of King of Jazz along with another Lantz Oswald entitled Africa which features animation that is reused from the animated segment of King of Jazz. My Pal Paul can also be found on youtube.

-Michael J. Ruhland  

MLP:FIM What Lies Beneath S8 Ep22

Today's episode was written by Michael Vogel, who has been writing for the show since season 6 and worked on the development crew since Season 2. It was storyboarded by Cat Tang (who has been boarding for the show since season 6) and Krista Porter. In this episode the students discover something beneath the school and their fears are put to the ultimate test.

This is a very enjoyable episode and shows just how developed these characters have become over the course of this show. They show they are more than the simple stereotypes they could easily be and are accused of being towards the begging of the episode. They have some personality traits that conform to these stereotypes, but also some that are in direct conflict with them. The fears of the characters are especially interesting, and in some cases add another dimension to the personalities. Smolder is afraid of his tough image being challenged by other creatures figuring out he likes some stuff that guys against it. Ocellus has the fear that he will always be viewed as a monster and that maybe deep inside he still is one. Silverstream is afraid of going into hiding again. All this shows just how much they have developed and become real to us. Also featured in this episode is excellent character animation, some great humor and a story that opens up more into what is possible in the world of this show without ever stretching into the field of being unbelievable.

-Michael J. Ruhland  

Friday, September 21, 2018

Movie Review: Unbroken: Path to Redemption

Review Written By Michael J. Ruhland

Michael's Movie Grade: B

Review: Not everything in this movie may work, but what does work is very moving and emotional.

Maybe it is because this film was made first and foremost as Christian movie that were this movie really shines is its Christian message. While few of us can truly understand what the real man went through and the pain this caused, the movie does an amazing job of showing us that it was much to overwhelming for any man to overcome on his own. The nightmare sequences are very intense and Harold Cronk's (God's Not Dead 1 &2, God Bless the Broken Road) direction of these scenes is very good. Watching this film, you understand that the character needed help from a higher power to just continue going on. His struggle with faith is played very well here and is definitely enhanced by a great human performance by Samuel Hunt. This movie conveys the message of God being able to help anybody no matter how much they hurt is powerful. However I will admit there was one thing I would have liked to have seen more of in this department. This was his visit to Japan, to meet with those who had hurt him so much. I would have liked to see him come to terms with the fact that he must forgive them and how and what he would say to them. I admit that is critiquing the movie for what it isn't instead of what it is, but I would have liked to see its take on this subject that is even difficult for many strong Christians. Still the message it has is done very well.

Where this movie falters is the romance and sadly this is a large part of the movie. Cynthia, while well played by Merritt Patterson is not the most interesting part of this movie. The way she is portrayed here bears little difference from so many similar characters we have seen. Also these romance scenes can feel rushed and like they are just going through the motions. Still what was good about this movie was more than good enough to overcome what was bad.

-Michael J. Ruhland   

Monday, September 17, 2018

Movie Review: Feliz Año Tijuana

Review written by Michael J. Ruhland

Michael's Movie Grade: A-

Review: A very powerful and moving film, takes a simple story line and creates something profoundly moving from it.

To look at a simple plot summary, one might think this is a paper thin story that could not support a whole feature-length film. However though this story is extremely simple and not elaborate, the film actually uses this to its advantage. This movie is like watching a couple days in our main character's life. In this film, while forced to stay in Tijuana after missing his flight, a college professor runs into one of his former students and a hooker. What comes out of this is a plethora of powerful emotions. We feel sad, happy, confused, curious and uncomfortable. This works so well because this is just what our main character is feeling. For 75 minutes, we become this character. During many scenes we see and know little more than he does. This is especially true of a rather uncomfortable and shocking scene in the bathroom. We know little more than what he does about what is happening there. The movie drifts from fast paced comedy to uncomfortably dark places. However the transitions between these works incredible as they all revolve around what the character is feeling. When he is partying very hard, the film is quite funny, but in a scene where he is becoming very paranoid the movie becomes almost painful to watch. At the beginning of the film the tone is especially light as we see him getting a hotel room that is very different from what he expected. These early scenes are downright hilarious. However even at this time, we get a sense of the uncomfortableness to come. He is an outsider in this room as he will mostly remain for the rest of the film.

Supposedly this film was done without a script. If this is true it works incredibly to the film's advantage. The movie feels very natural and none of the dialogue feels forced. Each line and look from the characters seems to happen as if no one knows what is going to happen next, creating a feeling of uncertainty and spontaneity that is hard to resist as it pulls us further and further into the shoes of its main character.

This movie probably won't receive the recognition, it definitely deserves. This is a small film in many ways that will never reach the same crowd that flock to so many Hollywood blockbusters. Some of my fellow Non-Spanish speakers will not want to have to read subtitles (something I have never minded).Many others will have no interest in a character study with little action and some uncomfortable scenes. Still I urge some of these people to try something new and see this movie. Maybe it will leave the strong impact on some of you that it did on me.

-Michael J. Ruhland      

Saturday, September 15, 2018

MLP:FIM A Rockhoof and a Hard Place

Today's episode is the second written by Kaita Mpambara (her previous episode being Horse Play). The episode was storyboarded by Kat Dela Cruz (Who has been boarding for the show since season 6) and Ward Jenkins (Who has also been boarding for the show since season 6). In this episode Rockhoof tries to fit into the modern world.

This is an excellent episode. It is a very comedy based episode that made me laugh several times. Especially excellent is the scene where Rockhoof is teaching a class. Watching him get too carried away in his own stories is fantastic. The animation in this scene is also excellent, especially the students awe-inspired reactions to the story. I also loved that when he had them all practice a growl, Silverstream barked like a small puppy. Beyond just the humor the story is very relatable. While this isn't an especially emotional episode, the serious moments do have a sweetness to them that I really like. We never really got to know Rockhoof much before this episode, and to be honest, I found him a somewhat uninteresting character. However having an episode centered on him, shows that he is more than just a one trick pony and can carry a whole story by himself.

-Michael J. Ruhland  

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Alfred Hitchcock's Foreign Correspondent's Three Trailer Plan and Launch Film Festival

The following is a quick article from the Motion Picture Herald (dated July 27, 1940).

"Three trailers are being made by Walter Wagner for his 'Foreign Correspondent' to be released by United Artists. The first 80 feet in length, will incorporate scenes directed by Alfred Hitchcock; the second, 120 feet, will stress the film's leading players, and the third, 265 feet will be general. They will be released three, two weeks and one week prior to first run openings."

The next article is not only in the same issue of Motion Picture Herald, but on the same page.

"The Newark Sunday Call has launched a 12-week film festival for under privileged children on a non-profit basis at the Little Theater, Newark. The films to be shown during the festival will be revivals chosen by readers in a poll conducted by the newspaper. Readers also, in the poll, voted for duals two to one. The films selected, alphabetically, are 'A Star is Born' 'The Awful Truth' 'Captains Courageous' 'Cavalcade' 'The Citadel' 'Count of Monte Cristo' 'Dark Victory' 'Dodsworth' 'Goodbye Mr. Chips' 'The Good Earth' 'It Happened One Night' 'Lost Horizon' 'Mr. Deeds Goes to Town' 'Mutiny on the Bounty' 'My Man Godfrey' 'Nothing Sacred' ' Of Human Bondage' 'Pygmalion' 'Rose Marie' 'San Francisco' 'Sweethearts' 'Theodora Goes Wild' 'Three Smart Girls' and 'The Women.'"

-Michael J. Ruhland      

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Movie Review: God Bless the Broken Road

Review Written By Michael J. Ruhland

Michael's Movie Grade: B+

Review: With its extremely overt Christian themes and patriotism, there was no doubt this movie was not going to be a critical darling. However I personally felt it was an excellent movie in its own right. Of course the fact that I am a Christian doesn't hurt this at all.

What really makes this movie work is the main character. We can argue with her actions at times, but this is what makes her so real. She doesn't make her mistakes from any form of malice, but rather because she doesn't know what to do. The truth is in her situation, many of us would have no idea what we are supposed to do. Of course being a Christian film, what she is supposed to do is trust God. However as every Christian knows there are times when we have trouble trusting God, because in our own humanness we can't see him working in our lives and think he has abandoned us. This is heightened by a powerful and moving performance by actress Lindsay Pulsipher. Her performance is so real and human, that we can not help but feel the full emotion of her character. The whole cast is fantastic in fact. All of them put there full effort into their roles and it shows. Despite the lower budget the film looks quite good, and uses the visual art form of film to its advantage. I love one scene in which our main character's love interest looks at a picture of her dead husband and while looking at it sees his date's reflection in the picture. The fact that in this scene we are introduced to her this way shows how much she is still letting herself be defined by this with no one having to say a word. This scene is very powerful and quite impressive.

This isn't a perfect movie. Sometimes there is forced dialogue that even the great cast can't make work and the story is predictable and familiar. Still the movie overcomes these obstacles and is a good film in spite of them.

-Michael J. Ruhland

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Roy Rogers in New York

The following is an article from The Exhibitor dated November 24, 1943. To see it as it originally was with illustrations click here.

-Michael J. Ruhland

"Republic employed extensive newspaper, billboard and radio coverage, in addition to a widespread publicity campaign, to promote Roy Rogers in the more than 235 theaters in Metropolitan New York and suburbs which played his Republic big-budget specials during the personal appearance of the King of the Cowboys as guest-star of the World's Championship Rodeo at Madison Square Garden recently.  

"One-Thousand line advertisements appeared in 73 daily, semi-weekly and weekly newspapers in New York City, Westchester, Nassau, and Suffolk Counties, with a combined circulation of 975,905. These newspapers which cater to Brooklyn readers carried advertisements on 'Man From Music Mountain' in connection with the first-run engagement of this production at Brooklyn Strand and also featured a box of copy reading 'Roy Rogers' Day in Brooklyn.'

"Three-sheets were posted in Long Island railroad terminals as far out as Hempstead, L. I; New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad terminals as far out as Stamford Conn. and all New York ferry terminals. One-sheets were posted in the Hudson tubes and in all New York subways and elevated platforms. For several days prior to the Brooklyn Strand opening of 'Man From Music Mountain' one sheets in that borough heralded this booking later to be stripped to call attention to the Rodeo appearance and showings 'at your favorite theater.'

"Radio spot announcements were heard by the listening audiences.

"A theater contest promotion arranged in collaboration with Madison Square Garden was employed by many theaters. Heralds were distributed outlining the contest and theaters distributed numbered tickets to all attending performances with winners with lucky tickets being guests of Rogers at a luncheon and at the rodeo performance. The number of tickets was limited only by the number of theater visits.

"The Skouras theaters employed a variation of the contest by having youngsters compete in a cartoon coloring contest for the same prizes.

"Fan-club members were guests of the King of the Cowboys at a special reception held at the Hotel Astor.

"A fan-club booth was set up for a three-day period in the lobby of the Tivoli through the cooperation of manager Bert Korbel. Members distributed their publication, the RR Ranch News and enlisted new members.  

"Many stores throughout the city promoted the rodeo appearance by Roy Rogers windows, Decca records cooperated in arranging for the use of a Roy Rogers display card, calling attention to the recordings of the star under this label and to his rodeo appearances.

     "During his visit, Rogers made many personal appearances highlighted by visits to the Stagedoor Canteen with Trigger; the Merchant Marine Base, at sheepshead Bay; L. I., the St. John's home and Jewish Hospital, Brooklyn; the New York Infirmary, Bellevue Hospital and the fat drive at the Chrysler building.

"He appeared on such radio programs as Steamboat Johnson, WNEW; Bessy Beatty, WOR; the Edgar Bergan Chase and Sanborn hour, NBC; Nick Kenny's Youthopia program, WMCA; Truth and Consequences, NBC; Bill Stern, NBC; the Army Air Show, MUTAL; Mary Spaulding Broadcast, NBC; and Shirley Eder, WMCA, among others."


MLP:FIM The Washouts S8 Ep20

This episode was written by Nick Confalone, who has been boarding for the show since Season 5. It was storyboarded by Kaylea Chard (Who has been boarding for the show since season 3) and Nicole Wang (Who has been boarding for the show since the 1st season). I this episode Scootaloo becomes obsessed with a new team of daredevil flyers called The Washouts led by Lighting Dust.

*Slight spoilers coming*

This is an enjoyable episode, however it is not one of the season's best. It has a good story and some funny moments (especially Spitfire's scene and Twilight becoming a fan of The Washouts). However what I was disappointed in here was the depiction of Lighting Dust. In her first episode (Wonderbolts Academy), despite how reckless she was, she seemed more misguided than anything else. She seemed to truly consider Rainbow Dash her friend and at the end seemed hurt when Rainbow told on her. She definitely did not seem like somepony who would actually risk a child's life to put on a good show and not care. The way she is here certainty feels less interesting than the previous depiction of her. Also in this episode how Rainbow Dash acts towards the beginning of this episode is not at her most likable. Later on she is worried about Scootaloo's safety and this is much more likable, but at first she seems to be a little mean to Scootaloo for the simple fact that the foal is looking up to someone else as well. This kind of feels pretty mean spirited.

Still this episode has one of the show's most touching moments, when Scootaloo tells Rainbow Dash, he will never be as good as her, because she can't fly. The emotion in this scene is so real and heartfelt, that it easily makes up for the episode's short comings.

-Michael J. Ruhland  

Friday, September 7, 2018

Movie Review: Operation Finale

Review Written By Michael J. Ruhland

Michael's Movie Grade: A-

Review: Sometimes even as a movie reviewer I don't understand why some movies get such negative reviews from critics. This is one of those movies. Despite what many critics said, I found this movie completely engrossing, and fascinating to watch.

In this day and age of fast paced action filled thrillers, a film like this can't help but stand out as something quite different. Rather than action this movie leans more on dialogue. Actually many scenes in this movie just involve two people talking. This could be deadly if the dialogue wasn't so good. However the dialogue is fantastic. Helping out is how truly great the performances are. Ben Kingsley is incredible as Adolf Eichmann. In fact the whole depiction of Eichmann here is fantastic. He is so calm and mild mannered and knows just how to play each person just the way he wants to. He is truly frightening in just how calm he is when talking about all the horrible atrocities he made possible. He is also scary in how well he can lie and how many of us would believe those lies if we were the characters in this movie. Ben Kingsley performs all of this perfectly. There are quite a few character arcs going on here, but they are very well treated. Each is given the time they are needed and we get to feel we know each of the characters. While Kingsley is the stand out performance, every member in the cast does a great job. Though to be honest a big part of the reason for this is the way the movie is written. Each performance is still filled with honest and sincerity and we completely believe these characters on screen. Despite this being a very dialogue heavy movie the few action scenes it has are truly exciting and put me on the edge of my seat. All around this is just a great movie.

-Michael J. Ruhland  

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Movie Review: Juliet Naked

Review Written by Michael J. Ruhland

Michael's Movie Grade: B

Review: A delightful romantic comedy.

We are all used to the basic story of romantic comedies and this one follows that story to a tee. Woman thinks she is love with a guy, who is really a bit of jerk, but meets another guy somewhere else and falls for him, learning she was never in love with the other guy. Yes that is the basic story here. The film also uses the plot device of the woman meeting the other guy over the mail (or Email) familiar from such films as The Shop Around the Corner, In the Good Old Summertime and You've Got Mail. With a story that we have seen before, the movie needed to work on pure charm. Luckily that's just where this movie successeds. This movie is filled with the easygoing natural charm that you wish was in all these romantic comedies. There's something just so likable about watching this story unfold, even if we know what is going to happen. The characters are very likable and the performances from the cast are so natural and believable. Rose Byrne and Ethan Hawke have fantastic chemistry and the truth is it is just nice to watch them share the screen. We believe every moment of their relationship and are always hoping for the best. Just because the romance is really sweet and charming doesn't mean the humor is lacking. While this may not be a movie that will having you laughing your head off all the way through, most of the humor works very well. Watching our main character's boyfriend (Chris O'Dowd) giving monologues (technically online V-logs) about an obscure rocker his is obsessed with is downright hilarious. It is even funnier because any of us who have ever been obsessed with anything see ourselves in these scenes and see how ridiculous we have been at times. This is an absurd story in many ways and the script (by Jim Taylor, Tamara Jenkins and Evgenia Peretz (sister of the movie's director Jesse Peretz))knows this and makes fun of itself in very funny ways. However the kidding never goes too far as to cut into the believability of the story.

In a movie where much of the story revolves around music, good music is essential. Luckily that is provided here. As well as featuring songs by The Stone Poneys, the Pretenders and more (these songs fit in with the film like a charm), there are also quite a few original songs here. As Ethan Hawke's character was supposed to have created an album that our main character's boyfriend is obsessed with it needs to be good enough for us to believe that someone could fall so much in love with it. Three years were spent trying to make these songs are good as possible. These songs were written by seasoned professionals such as Ryan Adams, Robyn Hitchcock, M. Ward and Conor Oberst. They were all supervised by Nathan Larson and Marguerite Phillips. The result was a success as these songs are fantastic. To make matters even better we get to hear two of them in full form over the end credits. Leaving the film listening to such great music is not a bad way to end at all.

-Michael J. Ruhland      

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Movie Review: Searching

Review Written By Michael J. Ruhland

Michael's Movie Grade: A+

Review: Fantastic, extremely involving story that is told in a brilliant cinematic way and always keeps you on the edge of your seat.

This entire movie is seen on the computer screen. There is never one shot that is not what appears on the main character's computer screen. This can be seen as an experiment for trying something new out for the sake of seeing if it would work. However I do not believe that is the case here. This is a story of a father looking for his lost daughter on the internet. The fact that we never see anything but the computer shows just how tirelessly he is looking. He never turns off his computer, because he never stops looking and never takes time to rest. To drive this point further home people tell him (via video chatting or messaging) that he should turn off his computer and get some rest. Despite this the computer doesn't turn off because he is not going to stop looking until she is found. This cinematic device that could have so easily been an experiment makes the main character more real and relatable to us. It also allows the film's most touching moments to take place. Since on the computer he can watch many videos from the past, this allows us to see flashbacks in a perfectly natural and unforced way. Also the fact that he is re-watching these videos gives us a better insight into who this character is.

The story itself is also extremely good. The suspense is always felt and I spent much of the film on the edge of my seat. I was always wondering what was going to happen next, and was constantly surprised but what did happen. Despite this each plot twist made perfect sense when I saw it. I will not touch much more on this aspect as to not give anything away.

-Michael J. Ruhland

Monday, September 3, 2018

Harry Langdon Moves to Feature Films

The following is a short article from the Exhibitors Herald (dated May 9, 1925).

"Coincident with reports that Harry Langdon is going over to only feature length productions, the Pathe comedian has his entire staff working with him on his most ambitious picture carrying the working title 'His First Flame.' The same technical force is in harness and Ruth Hiatt shares honors with Natalie Kingston as the only change in cast. Harry Edwards is directing and Arthur Ripley has charge of scenario duties.

"Langdon has called on his own fund of experiences as a trouper in suggesting most of the story itself. As a professional for many years he covered almost ever branch of showdom in playing virtually every city of any size in the nation. Hence he is abundantly supplied with material for original stories for the company, with the comedy angle predominating.

"Harry Langdon's style has been described as 'very scarce yet very necessary' with pathos and humor mingling in an unusual technique, making his name a byword in the comedy field. Furthermore his rise to a place among the elect has been accomplished in only one and one-half years of appearing in motion pictures."

As some of you might be aware, Harry's producer (the legendary Mack Sennett) put His First Flame on the shelf and had Harry continue to work in short subjects. Sennett would release His First Flame until after three features (Tramp, Tramp, Tramp, The Strong Man and Long Pants) starring Harry Langdon for First National had already been released.

-Michael J. Ruhland

Saturday, September 1, 2018

MLP:FIM Road to Freindship S8 Ep 19

Today's episode was written By Josh Haber, who has been writing for the show since season 4. It was storyboarded by Karine Charlebois (who started boarding for the show in season 6), Aynsley King (Who has been boarding for the show since season 4) and Mincheul Park (Who has been boarding for the show since Season 5). In this episode Starlight and Trixie hit the road together for a great and powerful road trip, which puts their friendship to the test.

This is so far my favorite episode of season 8 and I might even go further and call this one of my favorite episodes. The reason for this is very simple. This episode is laugh out loud hilarious. Even with all the episodes so far with Starlight and Trixie, the chemistry between them has never been this great. The chemistry is perfect, both when they are getting along and when they are fighting. The exchanges of dialogue between them here is absolutely hilarious, while staying completely in character for them. As well as this the episode has some fantastic visual gags and great animation. I love the character animation of Starlight and Trixie making up a chant off the fly. The expressions on their faces and the awkwardly not synchronized with each other movements of their bodies made me laugh very loud. As a classic movie buff myself, my favorite part of the episode was the song number Road to Friendship, written by Josh Haber and Daniel Ingram. For those who have not seen the movie as many times as I have, it is obviously a parody of the title song from the Bob Hope/ Bing Crosby road picture, Road to Morocco (1942). This is a dead on and extremely funny parody. It even parodies the rattling on Bing and Bob do at the end of that musical number. Even beyond just the parody there are plenty of really clever visual jokes during this scene.

All in all this episode is a complete delight and I highly recommend it.

-Michael J. Ruhland     

Silent Film of the Month: Isn't Life Terrrible (1925)

Run Time: 25 minutes. Studio: Hal Roach Studios. Director: Leo McCarey.  Main Cast: Charley Chase, Katherine Grant, Oliver Hardy, Lon Puff. Producer: Hal Roach. Cinematographers: Fred Jackman, Len Powers.

While Charley Chase may not be as well remembered as Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd or Laurel and Hardy, he is certainty not without his fans today. There are quite a few of my fellow silent film fans, whose eyes light up when talking about Chase's films. One viewing of one of his classic short subject perfectly show why his fans today, though not as numerous as Chaplin or Keaton fans, love Charley so much. These are fast paced and extremely funny movies that never fail to make me laugh each time I see them. This is why this month we are going to look at one of Charley Chase's many great comedies, Isn't Life Terrible.

Like most of Charley Chase's best silent films this one was directed by Leo McCarey. McCarey may be one of the finest directors in the history of Hollywood. He showed his comedic talents not only with not only Charley Chase, but also Laurel and Hardy (directing some of that team's best shorts as well), The Marx Brothers (he directed the infamous Duck Soup) and Harold Lloyd (He directed The Milky Way, one of Lloyd's best talkies). However his filmography includes much more than just this. He also directed such widely hailed classics as Make Way For Tomorrow, The Awful Truth, Love Affair, Going My Way, The Bells of St. Mary and An Affair to Remember. His short comedies with Charley Chase alone, show why he was a master director. The humor in this shorts comes fast and often, yet never seems to miss the mark. Isn't Life Terrible is a fantastic example of just this.

In this film Charley plays a hard working man with a wife (Katherine Grant) and daughter (Nancy McKee) who is looking forward to a camping vacation. However his wife talks him into them all going on a cruise. This doesn't work put well as soon their luggage falls into the ocean and they wind up with the wrong child (Dorothy Morrison (Younger sister of Our Gang's Ernie Morrison)). Things get worse when Charley learns that the ship is falling apart and becomes a nervous wreck.

There is so much I enjoy about this short. I love Charley's reactions to the ship falling apart. I also really enjoy seeing a young Oliver Hardy (credited here as "Babe" Hardy (Babe being his real life nickname)) in a very different role as the extremely lazy brother in law, who does nothing but get Charley into trouble. He (as he does in many of his early films) shows that he is adept at playing characters quite different from Ollie in the Laurel and Hardy films. My favorite bit of humor is that when they wind up with the wrong child, at first this kid follows them around, but soon becomes as good as a member of the family. Most of all though this is just an extremely funny short showing Charley Chase and Leo McCarey at their best.

Around the time of this short, Charley's co-star Katherine Grant signed a 5 year contract with Hal Roach. To read an article from Moving Picture World about this film click here.

In 1932 one could rent a 16mm version of this film to play on a home projector for $2.50. To see the advertisement click here.  In 1936 it could be ordered for $2. To see that advertisement click here.

To see an original review of this film in Moving Picture World click here. Despite this film being a Hal Roach comedy, a review in Exhibitors World Herald refers to this as a Mack Sennett comedy, you can read this review by clicking here.

-Michael J. Ruhland