Sunday, March 31, 2019

Cowboy Church #3

Happy Sunday my friends, welcome back to Cowboy Church.

For our musical selection today we begin with Roy Rogers and Dale Evans singing a gospel song Dale wrote herself, The Bible Tells Me So from the husband and wife team's 1959 album Jesus Loves Me. Next up comes the title track from Willie Nelson's 1976 gospel album, The Troublemaker. This is a song that manages to be both a gospel song and a protest song. Next comes Ray Price singing a classic gospel song Softly and Tenderly. Then we have the possum himself, George Jones singing What a Friend We Have in Jesus. Next is The Carter Family performing Can the Circle Be Unbroken. This recording comes from 1935. Based off a traditional gospel song, A.P. Carter wrote new lyrics for this version which would soon become the lyrics all country singers use. Now we end with the 1991 music video for Johnny Cash's Goin' By The Book

                                               The following is a 1955 article about Roy Rogers, Dale Evans and their daughter Marion from the TV Radio Mirror (the top half of the second page is unrelated).


The following is a 1939 article from Silver Screen about the classic John Ford western (staring the one and only John Wayne) Stagecoach (1939). Note that the majority of the 3rd page is from a different article and only the top of the 6th page is from this article.

"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

"Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love." 1John 4:8

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Galatians 3:28

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11

-Michael J. Ruhland 

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Some Cartoons For Saturday Morning #10

Happy Saturday morning again my friends, it is time once again to enjoy some classic cartoons. 

Let us begin with some of those great bumpers for The Yogi Bear Show (1961-1962). Yogi had originally started as a segment on The Huckleberry Hound Show (1958-1962) and was eventually spun off into his own series. Like The Huckleberry Hound Show, an episode of The Yogi Bear Show featured three short cartoons. Each one would star a different character. One would star Yogi, one would star Snagglepuss and one would star Yakky Doodle. Also like Huck's show, this series would feature little mini cartoons or "bumpers" between the three cartoons. Here are some of those.


Here is one of my favorite Terry Toon cartoons, The Power of Thought (1948). This cartoon stars two of Terry Toons most famous and most entertaining characters, Heckle and Jeckle. This cartoon is one of the most clever of the duo's cartoons having the very fact that they are animated characters be the premise of the story. 

Next up is the first of the Fleischer Brothers' great series of Superman cartoons, titled Superman (1941) though sometimes referred to as The Mad Scientist. Paramount (the distributors of the Fleischer cartoons) brought the screen rights to the famous superhero in 1940, and gave it to the Fleischers to make a cartoon series out of. The studio was not quite sure about this venture after all animated cartoons had not yet done anything similar to a pure action film. They tried to dissuade Paramount by asking for four times the usual budget for one of the studio's cartoon shorts ($100,000) thinking Paramount would refuse. Shockingly they accepted and the series began production. Voicing Superman himself was Bud Collyer, who was already the character's voice on radio. The famous lines "Look up in the sky- it's a bird - no, its a plane - no its superman" made their first appearance in Superman lore with this cartoon. This cartoon was nominated for an Oscar but did not win. This cartoon also received the 33rd spot in Jerry Beck's excellent book, The 50 Greatest Cartoons.


Now for one of Chuck Jones' great Bugs Bunny cartoons, Wackiki Wabbit (1943). The two castaways who try to eat Bugs in this cartoon, were caricatured to look like and were voiced by Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies writers, Michael Maltese and Tedd Pierce. Many of Chuck's cartoons of this time had great experimentation with background art, and that is certainly true here. The background art is delightfully abstract, in a way that works perfectly. The background art is credited to Bernyce Polifka, though it has been debated whether or not John McGrew had anything to do with the backgrounds here considering he left the studio during the making of the film.

Now to end with one of Walt Disney's great silent Alice Comedies, Alice the Whaler (1927). This is a later entry in the series and by this time Alice herself was playing a much smaller role. There is no longer the live action wrap around scenes and the live action Alice only makes a brief obligatory appearance. This cartoon also features what has to be one of the earliest anvil gags in cartoon history. Also doesn't the mouse pealing potatoes make you think of Steamboat Willie (1928)?

Stay tooned next week for more cartoon greats. Until then peace love and cartoons.

-Michael J. Ruhland

Friday, March 29, 2019

RIP Agnes Varda

Sad news my friends, Agnes Varda has passed away at the age of 90. She was a legendary director in every sense of the word. I am definitely not throwing words around here, Agnes was truly of the all time greats of French Cinema, easily deserving a place among François Truffaut, Jean Luc Goddard and Jean Renoir. Every time I watch one of her films I am left with a sense of awe and wonder as if I was falling in love with movies all over again. Movies like La Pointe Courte (1954), Cleo From 5 to 7 (1961), Vagabond (1985) and Documenteur (1981) are as good as cinema gets.

Agnes has often been called "the mother (or grandmother) of the new wave." This is because she was in many ways a founder of the great French New Wave movement (she was also the only female director in the French New Wave). Her first feature film, La Pointe Courte (1954) can in many ways be called the first movie of the French New Wave predating the popularization of the movement by 5 years. At this time François Truffaut, Jean Luc Godard and Claude Chabrol had yet to make any of their great feature films. This fantastic movie was made by Agnes' own small company, Cin'e-Tamaris. Much of this film's groundbreaking style came from both necessity and unrestricted creative freedom. The use of location shooting and using both professional and unprofessional actors were things unhears of at this time in French cinema and things that would later become staples of The French New Wave.

Despite being a member of the French New Wave she differed heavily from its other major directors. Unlike them she was never a film critic. She instead was a still photographer (This had a huge influence on her filmmaking as can be especially seen in the opening scenes of La Bonheur (1964)). She was also not as well versed in movie history. Agnes would state that before making La Pointe Courte she had seen very few movies and off the top of her head could only think of Citizen Kane (1941).
Despite her being best known as a member of the French New Wave, Agnes also made some fantastic films in California. Some of these were documentaries about what was happening in the US at these time periods. These could differ quite a bit from each other. For instance Black Panthers (1968) was about the civil rights movement (probably her most political film) and Mur-Murs (1980) is about the murals around Los Angles.

Though she made fictional films as well as documentaries she would once say, "Fiction films are beautiful but documentaries put you at peace with the world. You try to make the world understandable, make people come near to you."

Still her most famous film is one of her fictional movies, Cleo From 5 to 7 (1961). The popularity of this movie is justified, it is a brilliant film on all levels. The movie offers two of Agnes' most powerful assets as a filmmaker, the humanity she bestows upon her subjects (rather fictional or non-fictional) and her beautiful way of showing the world around her. This is also one of the few and best examples of a movie done in real time as it shows us an hour and a half of a woman's life leaving nothing out.

The best way to appreciate Agnes Varda's cinema is to watch it yourself. So do yourself a favor and find and watch one of her films you won't regret it.

RIP and thanks for the incredible movies you have given us.

-Michael J. Ruhland  


Movie Review: Dumbo

Michael's Movie Grade: D

Review: The 1941 Dumbo is my favorite animated Disney movie. It is a film I can watch over and over again and love just as much each time. My love for that movie knows no bounds. Sadly I can't say the same for this movie.

This film can be split into two parts. The first is a retelling of the 1941 movie and the second is essentially what would happen after people see an elephant fly. Neither part is honestly very good. The first part seems like a surprisingly rushed version of the 1941 film. This is strange considering that movie's short runtime (64 minutes) and the fact that quite a bit was left out (Timothy Mouse, the crows, most of the songs). However everything here feels like it could have been given much more time to develop. What its clearly missing here because of that is any emotional connection. Even in this versions take on Baby Mine is completely tear free, missing all of what made the original one of the most powerful scenes in Disney history. There is also the fact that too much here is said in dialogue rather than the mostly visual way the first movie was told. Dumbo himself is also a problem here. True he may look more realistic, but he doesn't emote as well as the 1941 version. Under Bill Tytla's animation the original Dumbo was a perfect example of what character animation can be. It is impossible not to emotionally attach to that Dumbo. This Dumbo never feels as real because we don't get the same amount of emotion from him. The first part of this movie just makes one think of how much better the 1941 version is. The second part is even worse. It feels like it comes out of nowhere and belongs in a completely different movie. The second part is also incredibly clichéd and dull. Most of this revolves around the human characters, who are simply boring. They are all just one dimensional stereotypes of movie characters we have seen a million times before. Due to the clichés it is also hard to find anybody who can't guess what is going to happen next. The 1941 movie's charm lied heavily in its simplicity and dedication to telling a very simply story as well as possible. This part is lacking such simplicity. There are too many characters and not enough focus on one thing. It doesn't help that there is a big action scene towards the end of this movie, that could not feel more forced or out of place.

There are still a few good things about this movie but they are far and in-between. Danny Elfman's score is as usual quite good, some of the flying scenes are quite impressive and I like the creative way to put the pink elephants in this movie. Still this is downed out by what doesn't work.

To be honest I didn't hate this movie as much as I thought I would. I still didn't like the movie though and I certainly would never call it a good movie. My recommendation is to stick with the classic 1941 movie.

-Michael J. Ruhland      

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Silent Films on TCM this April.

Hello my friends, I feel it is safe to assume that many of you are silent movie fans by how much I write about silent films here on this blog. Sadly there are too few TV channels today playing silent movies. Luckily we still have TCM. For your pleasure I am listing what silent movies will be on TCM this April, so you don't miss them.

Monday April 1st

(1926) Director: Monta Bell. Starring Greta Garbo and Ricardo Cortez. 5pm Pacific, 8pm Eastern.

The Temptress (1926) Director: Fred Niblo. Starring Greta Garbo and Antonio Moreno. 6:45 pm Pacific, 9:45 Eastern.

The Mysterious Lady (1928) Director: Fred Niblo. Starring Greta Garbo and Conrad Nagel. 8:45 pm Pacific, 11:45 pm Eastern.

The Kiss (1929) Director: Jacques Feyder. Starring Greta Garbo and Conrad Nagel. 10:30pm Pacific, 1: 30 am Eastern.

The Single Standard (1929). Director: John S. Robertson. Starring Greta Garbo and Nils Asther. 11:45 pm Pacific, 2:45 Am Eastern.

Tuesday April 2nd

Wild Orchids
(1929) Director: Sidney Franklin. Starring Greta Garbo and Lewis Stone. 1:15 AM Pacific, 4:15 Am Eastern.

The Saga of Gosta Berling (1924) Director: Mauritz Stiller. Starring Lars Hansen and Greta Garbo. 3:00 AM Pacific, 6:00 Am Eastern.

The Gold Rush (1925) Director: Charlie Chaplin. Starring Charlie Chaplin and Mack Swain. 6:15 AM Pacific, 9:15 AM Eastern.

Sunnyside (1919) Director: Charlie Chaplin. Starring Charlie Chaplin and Enda Purviance. 8am Pacific. 11 am Eastern.

Wednesday April 3rd

The Battleship Potekin
(1925) Director: Sergei Eisenstien. Starring Alexander Antonov and Vladimir Barsky. 3 am Pacific, 6 am Eastern.

Thursday April 4th

Flesh and the Devil
(1926) Director: Clarence Brown. Starring Greta Garbo and John Gilbert. 5pm Pacific, 8pm Eastern.

Love (1927) Director: Edmund Golding. Starring Greta Garbo and John Gilbert. 7:15 pm Pacific, 10:15 pm Eastern.

A Woman of Affairs (1928) Director: Clarence Brown. Starring Greta Garbo and John Gilbert. 9 pm Pacific. 12am Eastern.

Friday April 5th

La Bohme
(1926) Director: King Vidor. Starring Lillian Gish and John Gilbert. 1:30am Pacific, 4:30am Eastern.

Sunday April 7th

The Best Man
(1928) Director: Harry Edwards. Starring Jimmy Hertz and Joy Lind. 9:30pm Pacific, 12:30 am Eastern.

Thundering Fleas (1926) Director: Robert F. McGowan. Starring Our Gang. 9:51pm Pacific, 12:51am Eastern.

Bright Eyes (1922) Director: Malcom St. Clair. Starring Dave Anderson and John J. Richardson. 10:11pm Pacific, 1:11am Eastern.

Thursday April 16th

The Gold Rush
(1925) Director: Charlie Chaplin. Starring Charlie Chaplin and Mack Swain. 5pm Pacific, 9pm Eastern.

Sunday April 21st

King of Kings
(1927) Director: Cecil B. De Mille. Starring H.B. Warner and Ernest Torrance. 10pm Pacific, 1am Eastern.

-Michael J. Ruhland

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Movie Review: No Manches Frida 2

Michael's Movie Grade: F

Review: Astonishingly bad comedy not only is extremely clichéd, but is also completely laugh free.

This movie is about as juvenile as a comedy can get. In fact one of the film's main plot points is put into play by a long vomit joke. To some this would be an immediate turn off. However the comedy being immature is the least of its problems. The main problem is just how phoned in it is. Not a single joke is actually funny. Each one instead feels like a joke we have heard a million times, being told by someone who doesn't understand why it was funny in the first place. Not only does this movie go for the cheapest and easiest jokes possibly, but doing so it doesn't even get any cheap and easy laughs from the audience. Instead this movie is just going through the motions and even the biggest fans of immature comedies will find themselves having laughed very little by the time the movie is done.

This is a Mexican film, but the influence of Hollywood cinema can more than easily be felt. However rather than feeling like an homage to Hollywood movies, it simply takes all of their clichés. This movie takes clichés from underdog movies, romantic comedies and raunchy comedies. Anyone who has seen more than a couple Hollywood movies can tell you how each plot point will end up as soon as that plot point is announced. Rather than telling a fun story that happens to be clichéd, this movie dutifully and obviously follows each rule of these clichés adding nothing along the way. There seems to be no desire to actually have fun with these clichés instead they feel as cheap and easy as the comedy.

I don't except every comedy to be high art or thought provoking (after all I'm a Three Stooges fan), what I do except however is for one to be enjoyable. I want to laugh and have fun at a movie like this, but this movie is completely lacking in both laughs and fun.

-Michael J. Ruhland

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Movie Review: Gloria Bell

Michael's Movie Grade: A-

Review: This is one of those all too rare movies that manages to feel both happy and sad at the same time. The way this movie accomplishes this is simple, the film is real and at times all too real. Though there are times of only joy or sorrow in life, the majority of life is not that simple. Life is a mixture of complex emotions and so is this movie. This movie captures that part of life very well and it is rare watching this movie that you will feel just one emotion.

Helping this movie feel all the more real and powerful is the main character, Gloria Bell (Julianne Moore) herself. Here we have a complex and completely real character. This is a necessary ingredient to this movie. That's because the movie itself does not revolve around a traditional plot. In fact once you stop and think about it not much really happens in the storyline. This is instead a pure character study and nor only the story, but the way it is told is completely controlled by this character. She constantly lives in the moment and so does this film. It never stays too long on any one scene but instead naturally but quickly transitions to what happens next. Most of all though this is a character we can fully respect and love. The character is a fighter and no matter what happens she will never stop fighting. There are times that life brings her down, but she never allows it to keep her down, instead when she falls off the horse she always gets back on again. This is something we wish to find in ourselves and we are always proud to see her do it no matter what. She says at one point in the movie "When the world blows up I hope to go down dancing." Though the character loves dancing there is more to this line than just that. Her survivor instinct and inner strength allow her not to let anything else (even her world falling apart) keep her from living life to its fullest. What can seem like a quick joke, actually shows her and the movie's philosophy on life. One that may seem alarmingly simple, but is also powerful and true. Adding to the realness of this character is Julianne Moore's incredible performance. The way she plays this character includes a number of subtleties that make her feel more real. This is a complex character and the actress gives a performance to match.

Maybe the story of a woman simply living her life may not appeal to everybody and some may desire something bigger. However for the people this will appeal to (like me), this is a fantastic movie that will make you feel many emotions and will stay with you quite a bit after watching it.

-Michael J. Ruhland      

Monday, March 25, 2019

...And The Blue Ribbon Goes to The Parent Trap

Here is a 1961 article about Disney's great live action feature The Parent Trap.

During the 1960's many of these Blue Ribbon Awards went to Disney features. I will post more of these articles about 1960's Disney films winning Box Office Magazine's Blue Ribbon Award.

-Michael J. Ruhland  

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Cowboy Church #2

Happy Sunday my friends and welcome back to cowboy church. 

For our musical selection we begin with the King of the Cowboys, Roy Rogers, singing A Cowboy's Prayer from his and Dale Evans' 1959 album, Jesus Loves Me. Next comes Waylon Jennings performing the classic gospel song Precious Memories from his 1976 album Are You Ready For the Country. Now comes Johnny Cash performing his self penned The Greatest Cowboy of Them All on his 1978 Christmas TV special. Next comes Gene Autry singing The Last Round Up, this version coming from his feature film, The Singing Hill (1941). This song was written by the one and only Cole Porter. Next comes Tennessee Ernie Ford singing The Old Rugged Cross. We end with Kris Kristofferson singing the self penned Why Me Lord and telling the story of how he wrote this great song.

The following is a 1949 article about Roy Rogers in Radio and Television Mirror.

Now for our feature presentation a silent western, Riders of the Purple Sage (1925). This film stars the legendary screen cowboy Tom Mix and is directed by Lynn Reynolds a regular director for Tom Mix during this period. This film was shot in Lone Pine, California. There have been tons of great films shot in Lone Pine and though it is not as common today, films still continue to be shot there. If you have ever been there (which I highly recommend), it is easy to see why. You immediately feel like you just stepped into an old western movie. Though Tom Mix did a lot of shooting in Lone Pine, it would usually just be a few scenes. Riders of the Purple Sage was the one time where the majority of the film was shot there. This film was based loosely around the 1912 Zane Grey novel of the same name. This was not the first time this novel would be made into a movie and it would not be the last. It had been adapted for the screen earlier in 1918, would be again in 1931 and 1941 for the big screen and finally as a TV movie in 1996. However this 1925 version remains my favorite. The novel had Mormons who practiced polygamy as the villains. However this film version and the other movie versions there was no mention of the Mormon religion and this part of the story was simply overlooked. This movie was in production from November 7, 1924 to December 13, 1924. Grey wrote a sequel book in 1915 called The Rainbow Trail. Later in 1925 a movie version of that book also starring Tom Mix and directed by Lynn Reynolds would be released. Without further ado enjoy Riders of the Purple Sage (1925).


Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”2 Corinthians 4:16-18 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,  as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

1 Corinthians 10:13  No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

-Michael J. Ruhland 

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Some Cartoons For Saturday Morning #9

Hello again my friends, once again it is Saturday morning, and that means it is time to watch some more classic cartoons. So sit back relax and enjoy some cartoons.

First up is a Hokey Wolf cartoon, from The Huckleberry Hound Show (1958-1961).

Next up is a very early Mickey Mouse cartoon, the fourth one in fact, The Barn Dance (1929). Unlike the previous three Mickeys (Plane Crazy (1928), The Galloping Gaucho (1928) and Steamboat Willie (1928)), Walt Disney was not able to supervise the animation very closely. This was because at this time Walt was in New York, while his main animator Ub Iwerks was in California. Though Walt asked Ub to cut corners in the animation, because of a strict deadline, when he received the first of the animation on October 22nd of 1928, he was not happy and wrote Ub a page of criticisms of the animation. However watching this film now, it is actually a very entertaining cartoon and it is hard to see anything actually wrong with the animation. However Walt was working to achieve a level of perfection in his cartoons and this one as good as it is did not meet that requirement in his mind. The gag involving the stretching of Minnie's leg was the type of joke that would soon fade from these cartoons, as Walt would treat the body more solidly in future outings.

Now for one of Frank Tashlin's classic Looney Tune cartoons, Porky Pig's Feat (1943). Tashlin spent much of his cartoon directing career dreaming of directing live action features. Because of this his cartoons are some of the most cinematic of the era, featuring a lot of great camera angles and brilliant cutting and timing. This one is no exception. In fact this is one of his finest Looney Tunes shorts. This film was also released during the same year as the last black and white Looney Tune, Puss 'n Booty (1943, also directed by Tashlin). However cartoons like this make one sad that black and white left the Looney Tunes series. Tashlin's use of black and white here is incredible and the look of this cartoon is simply breathtaking in a completely different way than a color cartoon ever could be.

Next comes one of the best cartoons to ever come out of the UPA studio, this is Rooty Toot Toot (1952) directed by the one and only John Hubley. The UPA studio was known for its brilliantly stylized design choices that looked much more like the modern art movement of the era rather than a typical cartoon short (the closest thing any past cartoon shorts came to this kind of a design were John McGrew's backgrounds for various 1940's Chuck Jones Warner Brothers cartoons). These stylized designs would soon have a major effect on nearly every animation studio out there, but few would use them as brilliantly or artistically as the UPA studio. This stylized modern art look was rarely as radical as what can be seen in Rooty Toot Toot. The incredibly daring background look was created by the one and only Paul Julian, who at Warner Brothers not only as a background artist for director Friz Freleng but also as the voice of the Roadrunner. Him and Hubley were a perfect pair creating some of the most original and all together best films to come from UPA. The animation here while stylized can be deceptively simplistic. This is not at all like later TV limited animation, where great design work and writing covered up for the lack of full animation. Actually the animation here is quite elaborate and no two characters move in the same way, each having a type of movement that fits their personality. This cartoon is based around a jazzy version of the old folk tune, Frankie and Johnny. The jazz was provided by a real jazz musician Phil Moore, who had over the years worked with such legends as Lena Horne, Frank Sinatra and Harry James. He did a lot of film music, but this is a rare time he was actually credited. Hubley later stated that he believed this cartoon was the first time a black composer had been credited with a film score. This cartoon would receive the #41 spot in Jerry Beck's excellent book, The 50 Greatest Cartoons.

Today Oswald the Lucky Rabbit is finally getting some of the attention he deserves. Now that Disney has the rights it is naturally that everybody thinks of him as a Disney character. Many know the history that Walt Disney created Oswald. However distributor Charles Mintz hired away Walt's animators and let Walt know that if he did not give into Mintz's demands Mintz could make Oswald cartoons without him, because Walt had no rights to the character. Walt would leave and create Mickey Mouse. However this is where the character's history ends for many people. However that is not when Oswald's film career stopped. Mintz made a few cartoons with Oswald until Universal took the rights away from Mintz and put another Walt in charge of the series. This other Walt was Walter Lantz, later of Woody Woodpecker fame. From 1929 through 1943 Lantz would produce Oswald cartoons. These are little remarked upon today, but they are often highly entertaining films and here is one of my favorites. This is Merry Old Soul (1933). Many of my fellow old movie buffs will have fun trying to name all the celebrity caricatures they can. So watch this film and see how many you can name.

-Michael J. Ruhland

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Elvis Presley Not a Bad Influence

The following is a 1957 article about Elvis Presley from TV Radio Mirror.

Now for today's musical selection with two songs from 1957. We start with a fast paced rocker, Got a Lot o' Living to Do. This version is from his feature film, Loving You (1957). The song was written by Aaron Schroder and Ben Weisman. Weisman would later write such songs as Follow That Dream, Rock-a-Hula Baby and Crawfish for Elvis. Next comes a classic gospel song, It is No Secret What God Can Do written by Stuart Hamblen, who also wrote such songs as (Remember Me) I'm the One That Loves You and This Ole House.


-Michael J. Ruhland 

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Movie Review: Five Feet Apart

Michael's Movie Grade: F

Review: It doesn't get much worse than this folks.

This movie may be a tearjerker, but the only emotions it got out of me were boredom and impatience. It is hard to think of how a story like this could have possibly been told in a worse way. We gain no emotional connection with anything because every character and every line of dialogue feels forced and unreal. With the dialogue here I have to think somebody working on the movie simply watched a bunch of romantic movies and copied down the cheesiest dialogue there. There is little of the romantic dialogue that feels like it ever flows naturally from the two lovers and all of it will sound familiar to anyone who has ever watched a romantic movie before. Sometimes I could have said an upcoming line before the character, because I just saw it coming. The characters themselves are just as clichéd as the dialogue. They feel like characters we have seen in a hundred different movies, only less interesting here. There is never a point where any of these characters feels completely real. The major plot points and the tearjerker moments feel no less than emotionally manipulative. They are so forced and only carry the weight that as people we don't like to see other people go through these things. Even if those people are as bland and boring as they are here.

One of the worst scenes happens near the climax (if you can call it that) of the story. The problem with this scene is it is much too obvious what is going to happen. It has been set up in an earlier conversation and again in the dialogue at the beginning of this scene. We all know what is going to happen. This however is not the problem. The problem is it takes forever to happen. I kept waiting and waiting for it to happen and it felt like an eternity before it did. During this scene, I simply began to feel an unbearable amount of impatience for this scene to be finished. When it happened what should have been a tearjerker moment instead became one of relief. Without giving much away, there are things I should not every want to happen to a character I am meant to like. However because this scene was so poorly done, I kept wanting it to finally happen so I could be done with this scene.

Hollywood will never stop making movies like this one. However this movie makes you want them to, and quickly.

-Michael J. Ruhland    

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Movie Review: Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase

Michael's Movie Grade: B

Review: Maybe not something very original, but for a fun night at the movies this is a darn good choice.

No other word can describe this movie better than fun. I simply had tons of fun watching this movie. For the brisk hour and a half length there was hardly a moment I was not entertained. The mystery is fun to try to figure out. It is not the hardest mystery to solve in the world, but it has enough twists and turns to keep the audience interested. The haunting of the house brings an extremely vivid and atmospheric feel to the film, and even if you figure out who done it, there is still the question of how. All this fits into a solution that works extremely well. The interplay between Nancy (Sophia Lillis) and Helen (Laura Wiggins) is fantastic. The actresses play off each other very well and the relationship is written in a completely believable way. This is a hard type of relationship to pull off in a movie and it is done perfectly here. Some of the scenes between them are even a bit touching and genuinely so. Nancy's relationship with her dad is also very sweet and engaging. This movie uses quite a bit of humor and most of it is well done. This probably won't be a movie you will often laugh out loud at, but more jokes land than fall, and many definitely made me smile. A lot of these moments came from Flora (Linda Lavin), a delightfully enjoyable character who gets the best comedic lines. Sophia Lillis as Nancy Drew is perfect. She is very charismatic and likable. She also brings just a lot of undeniable charm to even the corniest parts of this movie.

This movie takes place in modern day and not all of the modernization works. The opening with Nancy skateboarding down the street with a rock song on the soundtrack, makes it feel like the movie is trying to hard too make her cool, as if there every could be a time when Nancy Drew wasn't cool. Luckily she proves herself to be naturally very cool very quickly. Talking about modernization, the less said about the virial video the better (that scene is the only part of the movie that actually feels embarrassing).

Despite these faults, again if you are looking for a fun time at the movies, Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase is it.

-Michael J. Ruhland  

Monday, March 18, 2019

Tillie's Punctured Romance 1920 Revival

Here is a very silly 1920 article about a rerelease of Tillie's Punctured Romance (1914), often considered the first feature length film comedy.

The following pages of The Motion Picture Herald discusses this 1920 revival more seriously.

Here is a classic advertisement for this revival.

The movie is in public domain so you can watch it on YouTube.


-Michael J. Ruhland

Sunday, March 17, 2019

1959 Americans and Foreign Movies

The following pages are from a 1959 issue of Boxoffice Barometer. How times have changed. Hopefully someday great foreign films will again receive the love and attention they deserve here in the US.

-Michael J. Ruhland

Cowboy Church #1

Welcome to a new weekly instalment on this blog entitled Cowboy Church. A Cowboy Church post will go up every Sunday. Each post will feature some classic country gospel music, some bible verses and various items about one of more old western movies.
First up our music selection begins with one of country music's all time finest singer-songwriters Hank Williams, performing his own self penned I Saw the Light on one of his rare TV appearances, look for a young June Carter (before she married Johnny Cash) in this video. Next up comes Willie Nelson and Dyan Cannon performing the old gospel tune, Unclouded Day in the movie, Honeysuckle Rose (1980). How can you have Cowboy Church without Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. Here we have them performing a gospel song each. Gene sings a great gospel song written by Johnny Lange, Hy Heath and Sonny Burke, called Somebody Bigger than You or I. This version is from Gene's feature film, The Old West (1952). Roy sings the gospel classic Peace in the Valley. This recording comes from the 42nd episode (The Rene Eigen Case) of Roy's radio show.  After this comes Johnny Cash performing his self penned I Was There When it Happened on TV. Next Charlie Daniels Band's version of Somebody Was Praying For Me. We end with the Hee Haw Gospel Quartet (Buck Owens, Roy Clark, Grandpa Jones, Kenney Price) performing Where Could I Go but to the Lord on a 1980 episode of Hee Haw

“Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; ‘For YAH, the LORD, is my strength and song; He also has become my salvation.’" Isaiah 12:2

"“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
"So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,  as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Movie preview for King of the Cowboys starring Roy Rogers.

An article from Hollywood Magazine About Gene Autry, from 1940.

Now to end with here is a silent short western film starring none other than Tom Mix. So enjoy, Sagebrush Tom (1915).

-Michael J. Ruhland

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Some Cartoons For Saturday Morning #8

Happy Saturday morning again my friends. That's right it is time to look at more classic cartoons, so sit back and enjoy.

As I have stated before while Popeye cartoons are often assumed to be simply the same storyline over and over, this was not the case, as there were many that did not revolve around Popeye and Bluto fighting over Olive. One of the great cartoons that don't follow this formula is Goonland (1938). This film introduces new characters to the animated cartoons. However these characters were not brand new. They had existed previously in E.C. Segar's comic strip, Thimble Theatre for which Popeye was also originally created. The characters of the goons would first appear in the comic strip in 1933, before appearing in this cartoon. This was the only of the theatrical cartoon shorts to feature the goons, however they would later appear in animated Popeye TV cartoons. Poopdeck Pappy first appeared in the comic strip in 1936. While Goonland was his first appearance in a theatrical cartoon short, it was hardly his last, as he would become a reoccurring character in the cartoons. This film would later be remade as Popeye's Pappy (1952), though that cartoon would replace the goons with stereotypical African natives.

One thing that Looney Tunes director Norm McCabe hardly ever gets the credit he deserves for is helping establish the personality of Daffy Duck. His cartoon Daffy's Southern Exposure (1942) was one of the first films to show Daffy as a fully formed character that was more than just a crazy duck. He was crazy mind you but that hardly defined his personality here. Personally this is one of my favorite black and white Daffy cartoons and I hope you enjoy it as well.


Next up comes a cartoon short from The Huckleberry Hound Show (1958-1961). This cartoon stars Hokey Wolf, whose cartoons replaced Yogi Bear's spot on the show when Yogi got his own spinoff show. Hokey was not dissimilar to Yogi as he was also a con-man (animal) that was constantly in search of something to eat and like Yogi, he also had a little sidekick he also functioned as his conscience while still looking up to him.


Now for what is possibly my favorite of Walt Disney's Alice Comedies, Alice's Wild West Show (1924). One may notice that this film uses more live action than later entries, but it is so entertaining that who cares? During the animated scenes one may notice that Alice's sidekick is a dog instead of Julius the cat. Disturber Margert Winkler was not happy with this even writing Walt saying "I might suggest in your cartoon stuff you use a cat whenever possible and don't be afraid to let him do ridiculous things." In the next film, Alice's Fishy Story Alice's sidekick was a cat. From all evidence it seems as if she wanted to create another Felix (whose cartoons she also distributed) or to make sure Felix's producer Pat Sullivan knew that she was the boss.  
Let us end with another silent cartoon from Walt Disney, an Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon called Rival Romeos (1928). Notice that a gag involving a goat eating the sheet music was repeated more famously in the landmark Mickey Mouse cartoon, Steamboat Willie (1928). Also notice that Oswald's rival is Pete, later Mickey's rival.

Stay tooned next week for more classic cartoons, until then peace love and cartoons.
-Michael J. Ruhland