Saturday, May 30, 2020

Silent Films on TCM For June

Man With A Movie Camera (1929)
Hello my friends. Again as many of you are like me TCM viewers and silent movie fans, I am listing all the silent films on TCM this June.

Sunday, June 7th

(1923) Director: Rex Ingram. Starring Roman Novarro and Alice Terry. 9pm Pacific. 12am Eastern.

Sunday June 14th
Man With a Movie Camera (1929) Director: Dziga Vertov. 9:15pm Pacific. 12:15am Eastern.

Sunday June 21st

The Kid
 (1921) Director: Charlie Chaplin. Starring Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Coogan. 2:45am. Pacific. 5:45am Eastern.

July Days (1923) Director: Robert F. McGowan. Starring: Our Gang. 9pm Pacific. 12am Eastern.

Every Man For Himself (1924) Director: Robert F. McGowan. Starring Our Gang. 9:20pm Pacific. 12:20am Eastern.

No Noise (1923) Director: Robert F. McGowan. Starring Our Gang. 9:35pm Pacific. 12:35am Eastern.

It's A Bear (1924) Director: Robert F. McGowan. Starring Our Gang. 9:49pm Pacific. 12:49am Eastern.

High Society (1924) Director: Robert F. McGowan. Starring Our Gang. 10:10pm Pacific. 1:10am Eastern.

The Buccaneers  (1924) Director: Robert F. McGowan. Starring Our Gang. 10:30pm Pacific. 1:30 am Eastern.

Sunday, June 28th
The Crowd (1928) Director: King Vidor. Starring James Murray and Eleanor Boardman. 9pm Pacific. 12am Eastern.

-Michael J. Ruhland  

Cowboy Church #59

Hello my friends and welcome to another service of Cowboy Church.

Today's musical selection begins with the King of the Cowboys, Roy Rogers, singing The Circuit Riding Preacher from his and Dale's 1959 album, Jesus Loves Me. Circuit riders were real men back in the late 1700's and 1800's. They were part of the Methodist Episcopal Church and rode on horse across the early United States, preaching the gospel. Naturally this was a perfect subject for Roy to sing about as the lore was similar to that of the cowboy and Roy was a Christian. This song is set to the tune of The Battle Hymn of the Old Republic with a few choruses of Leaning on the Everlasting Arms inserted in there.   Keeping on the subject of the circuit rider, here is one of the Ride This Train segments from The Johnny Cash Show (1969-1971). These segments had John talking about part of history and inserting a medley of songs in there. This was inspired by Johnny's fantastic 1960 concept album, Ride This Train, where John told various stories about U.S. history with many great songs woven in as well. This was often the best part of the TV show and these segments always put a smile on my face. This segment has John telling a story about a circuit rider and inserting a medley of gospel songs in there. This is followed by Bill Monroe's 1958 recording of Lord Lead Me On. Afterwards is The Maddox Brothers and Rose with their 1950 recording of In a Land Where We'll Never Grow Old. This song was written James Cleveland Moore. His father led the singing at church and when he heard his father's voice failing from age one day at church he went home and wrote this song. Next comes Merle Haggard covering Woody Guthrie's Jesus Christ. As many of Woody's compositions had strong social messages so does this song. It about how Jesus said we should help those less fortune than us and how today we can be just as reluctant to do so as so many where back when Jesus said it. While Woody was hardly a gospel songwriter, this was a message that fit strongly with the songs he would write. Of course Merle Haggard recorded many traditional hymns as well as songs like this. Next is The Sons of the Pioneers with their 1947 recording of The Old Rugged Cross. At this time the lineup of the group was Bob Nolan, Tim Spencer, Lloyd Perryman, Ken Carson and Hugh Farr. This is followed by The Hee Haw Gospel Quartet with Power in the Blood. Normally the lineup for The Hee Haw Gospel Quartet was Buck Owens, Grandpa Jones, Roy Clark and Kenny Price. However Kenny Price's part is filled in for by Gordie Tapp. This comes from a 1974 episode of Hee Haw. Ending today's music selection is The Killer, Jerry Lee Lewis singing My God is Real. Remember my friends our God is real and he is with us always. 

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Isaiah 40:29

Whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:11

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

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. 1 Corinthians 10:13

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. Romans 6:12-14

Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord. Proverbs 16:20

Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 1 John 3:18

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, Proverbs 3:13

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Acts 2:21

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? Mark 8:34-36

Seek good and not evil, that you may live; And thus may the Lord God of hosts be with you, Just as you have said! Hate evil, love good, And establish justice in the gate! Perhaps the Lord God of hosts
May be gracious to the remnant of Joseph. Amos 5:14-15

Thanks for joining me come back next week for another service of Cowboy Church. Happy trails to you until we meet again.


-Michael J. Ruhland


Some Cartoons For Saturday Morning #73

Hello my friends and Happy Saturday Morning. Once again it is tie for more classic cartoons.

Today's selection begins with one of the most popular and best pairings of Mickey, Donald and Goofy, Lonesome Ghosts (1937). This film provides one with everything they could want from one of these cartoons. It has tons of fast-paced slapstick and creativity throughout. The story of this movie changed over the time it was being made, originally the haunted house was going to be a fake created by gangster Pete to scare others away. As you will see when you watch the film, the ghosts here are completely real. This caused a review for Motion Picture News too call the movie, "rather scary for tiny tots." A review in The Film Daily however said just the opposite stating "The Ghost stuff is all played for laughs instead of spookiness and the kids will eat it up." The following are a couple exhibitors' reviews from The Motion Picture Herald. "Lonesome Ghosts: Walt Disney cartoons - Another Disney of outstanding entertainment. - Harland Rankin, Plaza Theatre, Tilbury, Ontario, Canada. General Patronage." "Lonesome Ghosts: Walt Disney cartoons - I feel that Disney is living on his Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs reputation and his cartoons are not up to the usual standard he formally had. Running Time seven minutes - A.J. Jinks, Crystal Theatre, Ligonier, Ind. Small town patronage." 

Motion Picture Herald, 1937
  Next comes the first Daffy Duck cartoon directed by Chuck Jones, Daffy Duck and the Dinosaur (1939). Today many cartoon fans associate Chuck with being one of the main people who changed Daffy from his early high energy crazy self into a more vain, jealous and greedy character. This film however features Daffy in his early crazy high energy mode. A review in The Motion Picture Herald even stated, "The gags and situations are appropriately matched to the zany personality of the duck." Another review in The Motion Picture Daily stated "Leon Schlesinger delivers good color cartoon work in this "Merrie Melody," but the striving for whimsy hits only in spots." The following is an exhibitors' review also from The Motion Picture Herald, "Daffy Duck and the Dinosaur: Merrie Melodies—Very few laughs in this one. Not up to standard of most cartoons in this series. Running time seven minutes. - Don Bloxham, Place Theatre, Exira, Iowa, General and rural patronage."

In the late 1940's Columbia was unhappy with its Screen Gems Studio and was looking a new studio to make cartoons for them. Steve Bosustow, producer of the UPA cartoons and one of the founders of the studio, interested them in distributing UPA's output. Columbia agreed to a trail run, if UPA could make a couple cartoons starring Columbia's biggest cartoon stars, The Fox and the Crow. The result was three great films (Robin Hoodlum (1948), The Magic Fluke (1949), Punchy DeLeon (1950) that were decisively different from what had been done with the characters before. Director John Hubley would later say " It [Robin Hoodlum] was funny and very sophisticated. Columbia didn't like it -it wasn't a standard audience film. We made another one called The Magic Fluke, which was a more popular story using the same characters, the Fox and the Crow. It was more successful." Regardless of how Columbia felt both Robin Hoodlum and The Magic Fluke would be nominated for Academy Awards and Columbia would become the distributor for UPA's cartoons.


Thanks for joining me come back next week for more animated treasures. Peace, love and cartoons.

-Michael J. Ruhland

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Monday, May 25, 2020

The Wall: A Memorial Day Poem by Michael J. Ruhland

This is a poem I wrote years ago after seeing the Vietnam monument. It is dedicated to all those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for this country. 

 We have seen heaven.
We have seen hell.
We have felt things
no lips could ever tell.
All the tears I can recall
as they wrote your name on the wall
I'm still there in my mind.
There must be another place in time.
To God my head starts to bow,
because only he can help me now.
Too many good men I've seen fall.
Too many names upon the wall.

-Michael J. Ruhland

Happy Memorial Day From Movies With Michael

Hello my friends. Happy Memorial Day, I hope all is well with all of you. Today we remember those who gave their lives for this great country, doing things many of us could never imagine. Without these men and women, we could not be here today able to enjoy the great freedoms of this country. Also God bless all of our veterans and those currently in the military, I am grateful for everything you have done and do.

What is better watching for today than World War Two cartoon shorts?

And of course there are the Private Snafu cartoons.

Though not as groundbreaking as Birth of a Nation (1915) or Intolerance (1916). D.W. Griffith's Hearts of the World (1918) is an excellent war movie.

One of the greatest silent war epics (as many of you know) is actually a slapstick comedy. Of course I am speaking of Buster Keaton's The General (1926).

Before the U.S. Entered World War 2, Charlie Chaplin took on one of history's greatest villains with The Great Dictator (1940).


Though it pales in comparison with the Hemmingway book, A Farewell to Arms (1932) is an excellent war related romance.

Many musicians have performed songs giving turbine to those who have fought and given their lives  for our country.

One of the most overlooked feature films from the Disney Studio is Victory Through Airpower (1943), a documentary on the importance of using airpower to win World War 2.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends. John 15:13
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. 1 Chronicles 16:34

give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Thank you again to everyone who has ever fought for this great country. I am so grateful to you for all of the freedoms we have.

-Michael J. Ruhland

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Cowboy Church #58

Hello my friends and welcome back for another service of Cowboy Church.

Today's musical selection begins with The Statler Brothers singing Precious Memories. This is a song that shows us how something beautiful can come out of something tragic. This song was written in 1925 by John Braselton Fillmore and came out of the death of his son three years earlier at the age of five. John would later state, "’Precious Memories’ was born in the midnight hours as I bathed by pillow with tears, likewise all my songs came through life’s severest tests.” Even though this song was and is one of the most popular hymns, Fillmore lived his life as a poor janitor struggling to get by. He would only get $36 for writing this song, not even much for the 1920's. Next comes Bradley Kincaid singing Life's Railroad to Heaven. Next comes The Louvin Brothers with their 1953 recording of Preach the Gospel, a self-penned song that appeared on their 1958 album, The Family That Prays. While this is a fast and fun song, it is also a bit of a challenging one. Preaching the gospel is something that is difficult and scary to many Christians, yet it is also something God commanded us to do. This song tells us to preach despite our fears and many are still not fully willing to do that. Yet if God commands us to do something it is what we should do. This is followed by The Sons of the Pioneers with their 1937 recording of Hear Dem Bells. During this period, The Sons of the Pioneers had my favorite line up. This was Bob Nolan, Tim Spencer, Leonard Slye (better known as Roy Rogers), Lloyd Perryman, Karl Farr and Hugh Farr. I could listen to these many all day. After this is Southern Raised with their 2020 version of the gospel classic Wayfaring Stranger. Next is Johnny Cash with his self-penned My Children Walk in Truth. This song comes from a place that John worked very hard to get to. John had done most every sin their is and thought he could find pleasure in them. Yet no matter how hard he tried there was still no pleasure to be found. He had prayed many selfish prayers that God in his wisdom did not answer. Yet over time he learned that true joy is only to be found in Jesus Christ himself and sharing the gospel with others, and that it is hard to share the word of God when you aren't living it yourself. Next is some old school Hank Williams Jr. from back when he was still doing music in a more countrypolitan  style instead of his mixture of pure honky tonk and southern rock he would later be known for. Still his voice is fantastic here and he delivers a great version of this song. The song is Jesus Don't Give Up on Me from his excellent 1969 album, Sunday Morning. Next comes the Queen of Rockabilly Wanda Jackson singing Jesus Put a Yodel in My Soul, proving that she could yodel just as well as she could rock out. Today's musical selection continues with Charlie Rich singing Just a Closer Walk With Thee off his 1976 gospel album, Silver Linings. Today's musical selection ends with The Charlie Daniels Band with a lovely version of What a Friend We Have in Jesus.

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Romans 16:20
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6-7

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. Deuteronomy 31:8

 Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the Lord has comforted his people and will have compassion on his afflicted. Isaiah 49:15

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. Matthew 6:34

So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. 1 Peter 5:6-7

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Proverbs 30:5

This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus. Revelations 14:12

And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love. 2 John 1:6

As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 1 Peter 1:14

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Matthew 6:33

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. James 1:22

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. Romans 13:8

And God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

“You shall have no other gods before me.

“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me,  but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.  Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

“You shall not murder.

 “You shall not commit adultery.

 “You shall not steal.

 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

“You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's.”

Exodus 20:1-17

For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.” Romans 10:13

That you for joining me come back next week for another service of Cowboy Church. Happy trails to you until we meet again.

-Michael J. Ruhland

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Some Cartoons For Saturday Morning #72

Hello my friends and happy Saturday morning. As you have probably guessed it is time for more classic cartoons.

Today's first cartoon features the introduction of the one and only Tweety, A Tale of Two Kitties (1942). However he is not yet named Tweety. His name in this film is Orson, though that is never directly stated in the dialogue. However decades later in an episode of the TV show, The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries (1995-2000) called Seeing Double Tweety would meet a bird who looks much like him and is named Orson. The director of this cartoon, Bob Clampett, would state that the design of Tweety is based off of a nude baby picture of him. However Tweety is not the star of the cartoon. This film instead stars Babbitt and Catstello, a feline version of the popular comedy team Abbott and Costello. The boices of these characters were provided by Tedd Peirce and Mel Blanc. Though some people have stated that Mel's Costello impression can get a little annoying, it is interesting to note that a review of this movie at the time stated "Either the famous comedy pair furnished the accompanying dialogue themselves or the impersonators are the last word in perfection." Another review from the time stated "The take-off on Abbott and Costello is cleverly managed, with the voices a perfect match for those of the comedians." Another review called the early Tweety, "a tiny bird, who has some Red Skelton characteristics." The early Tweety definitely does have more than a bit of Red's mean little kid character in him. This movie was reissued to theatres in 1948.

Next comes a typically fun Fox and the Crow cartoon, Way Down Yonder in the Corn (1943). This film was reissued to theatres in 1954. A review in Showman's Trade Review stated "This is perhaps the best of the Fox and Crow cartoons to date." The review went on to state, "The two cartoon characters, the Fox and the Crow, seem to be improving in stature."


Next comes a great silent Out of the Inkwell short, Bed Time (1923).

This is followed by what I consider one of the better of Van Bueren's Rainbow Parade shorts, Bird Scouts (1935). This a simple but charming little cartoon that may not be that funny, but is appealing in its own way. A review in The Film Daily called this a "Dandy Color Cartoon" and stated "containing plenty of gags and action, this cartoon comedy in color, made by Burt Gillett, fills its purpose very nicely."

In the 1940's Columbia made five cartoons based off of Al Capp's comic strip Li'l Abner. Up next is the last of these films, Kickapoo Juice (1944). A review in The Film Daily stated, "Only fairly diverting is the verdict on the latest of the Li'l Abner Technicolor cartoons." A review in Boxoffice simply called the movie, "Mediocre."


Ending off today's selection of classic cartoons is Popeye The Sailor Meets Sinbad The Sailor (1936). This is the first of the three Popeye two-reel specials (plus the first color Popeye) and one of the most popular Popeye cartoons. Running at 17 minutes this is twice as long as the usual Popeye film, yet the filmmakers work this to their full advantage. It never feels too long and the extra time lets the filmmakers put in a more atmospheric fantasy like feel to this movie. This would be the first Popeye nominated for an Academy Award and received the 17th spot in Jerry Beck's book, The 50 Greatest Cartoons. A review in The Film Daily called the cartoon "Top Notch." However not everybody was so impressed by this movie as evidenced by the following Exhibitors reviews from The Motion Picture Herald. "Popeye the Sailor Meets Sinbad the Sailor: Popeye the Sailor series - Good color but did not bring extra business like Paramount said  it would. -Fisher & Bichler, Mattray Theatre, Strasburg, N.D." "Popeye the Sailor Meets Sinbad the Sailor: Popeye the Sailor special - Worth twice as much as regular Popeye but no more. I paid more and that makes me a dissatisfied customer. - W. H. Brenner, Cozy Theatre, Winchester, Ind. General Patronage." "Popeye the Sailor Meets Sinbad the Sailor: Popeye the Sailor cartoons - This much Balley-hooed two-reeler, all color, third dimensional cartoon failed to come up to the entertainment value of the single reel black and white Popeye series. - M.R. Harrington, Avalon Theatre, Clatskanie, Ore. - Small Town and rural patronage." 


'Thank you for joining me come back next week for more animated treasures. Peace, love and cartoons.

-Michael J. Ruhland.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

My Top Classic Comfort Movies

Hello my friends, The Classic Movie Blog Association is having a blogathon in which various bloggers are posting their top 5 classic comfort movies. I personally would like to weigh in on my personal comfort movies. Three things first. Since this is about classic movies, I will include nothing after the 1950’s here. Also since cartoons and two reel comedies are such easy go-to films for comfort movies and would take up too much of this list, I will be limiting this list to only feature films. Last since this is my blog and I can do whatever I want I will be making a top ten list instead of a top five. Keep in mind that these are comfort movies. They are not what I consider the best films ever made and how though provoking or how impressive the filmmaking techniques are will have nothing to do with this list. These are simply movies, I watch when I feeling down and want a quick simple lift me up.

10. The Yodeling Kid From Pine Ridge (1937)

This movie is everything you could want from a Gene Autry film and in my opinion is one of his finest works. The story is rather slight but of course all we want from a film like this is fast paced action and good old fashioned country music. This movie gives us both of those in spades. Gene Autry gets to show just why he was known as the singing cowboy, perfectly crooning these old school country songs, and the band The Tennessee Ramblers also delight with their few performances in this movie. Comic relief and singer, Smiley Burnette gets one of his finest roles here as well.

9. My Pal Trigger (1946)

Being a lover of both horses and old B westerns, a Roy Rogers movie where Trigger in in the titular role of course has great appeal to me. It doesn't hurt that this is one of Roy's best films with fast paced action, great songs and more heart than you'd find in any other Roy Rogers movie. This is a treat.

8.  Buck Privates (1941)

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, Hold That Ghost and The Time of Their Lives are in my opinion Abbott and Costello's finest films, but Buck Privates holds a special place in my heart that those don't. It was the movie that turned me on to classic film comedy. I was a small kid and watching Abbott and Costello perform some of their great routines with such great youthful energy was the funniest thing I had ever seen. If I hadn't fallen in love with this movie perhaps I wouldn't have discovered Laurel and Hardy, Buster Keaton, The Marx Brothers, Harold Lloyd, Charlie Chaplin, Harry Langdon and so many more. The Andrew Sisters' musical numbers also taught me how great music was around before rock and roll. Whenever I watch this film, it brings me back to childhood and discovering my love of classic film comedy.

7. Sherlock Jr. (1924)

If The General is Buster Keaton's best made film, than Sherlock Jr. is his funniest. This barely feature length movie moves at a brisk pace and brings us gag after gag. What is incredible with this break neck pace and never stopping gags is that all of them work. This is the definition of a laugh out loud funny comedy and it has me doing that for its whole length.

6. The Gay Divorcee (1934)

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers never fail to brighten my mood. Their art is pure escapism at its finest and all of their movies put a smile on my face. These films exist in a world completely separate from ours. They do for urban life what Roy Rogers and Gene Autry movies did for western life. They romanticize it to a point where the films exist in their own reality that all of us wish we could live in and for the length of their movies we do live in it. It is hard to pick for a favorite among these movies, but The Gay Divorcee might be mine.  

5. Duck Soup (1933)

What do you get when you combine one of the great film directors (Leo McCarey) and one of the great comedy teams (The Marx Brothers)? One of the all time classic comedies. If there is a movie I can quote from beginning to end and do so often, it is Duck Soup. The Marx Brothers are at their best here and I laugh through the entire film each time I watch it. This movie will pick me up every time I feel even slightly down.

4. A Chump at Oxford (1944)

There is something initially heartwarming about Laurel and Hardy films. The friendship between these two characters is honestly quite lovely and because of this their movies never need to try for pathos or touching moments because it is already there in the relationship. This movie highlights the friendship between the two and the ending always makes me feel all warm inside. Despite this the rest of the film is completely made of classic slapstick comedy of the highest order. This feature has Stan and Ollie at their funniest and is one of my favorite features from the duo.

3. Dumbo (1941)
This is by far my favorite Disney animated feature film. As a huge cartoon fan I love that this movie is completely and unashamedly a cartoon. This is like a feature length Silly Symphony and I love every second of it. The world is so bright and colorful, the gags and musical numbers are so much fun and the emotional moments are so incredible effective. This is perfect filmmaking (animated or otherwise) at its finest.

2. For Heaven's Sake (1926)
Out of all of the Harold Lloyd films, this is the one I have watched more than any other. Yet I never get tired of it. This to me is one of the finest feature length silent comedies ever made. The jokes come fast and furious and all of them hit home perfectly. This movie has so many perfect silent comedy moments, such as how Harold gets all the drunks into the church building and the fantastic race to the chapel at the end. This is a film that once you see you will never forget. 

1. Show People (1928)

One of my favorite movies and a perfect mixture of comedy and romance. Marion Davies and William Haines receive their best roles in this movie and have perfect chemistry together. King Vidor is one of the all time best movie directors and gets to perfectly show why here. The humor here is absolutely perfect and I laugh out loud often whenever I watch it. Scenes such as Peggy trying to cry as well as her showing her range of acting emotions are as funny as anything done in any of the great silent comedies. As well as one of the all time great romantic comedies this is also a lovely tribute to silent film, not long before the silent era would be over. As a silent movie fan there is so much in this film from the cameos to the view of the classic studios to the excellent tributes to Mack Sennett and Keystone. A movie as delightful and fun as this is something that should be celebrated and no matter how many times I watch this film, I am never going to get tired of it.

-Michael J. Ruhland 

Sunday, May 17, 2020

A French Critic on Monsieur Verdoux

Monsieur Verdoux (1947) is easily the most shocking and daring Charlie Chaplin film. It is also in my mind and in many others Charlie's best talkie. The movie is a pitch black comedy were Charlie plays not the little tramp but instead a man who marries many women simply to murder them. Charlie's strong politic beliefs had already by this time made him a controversial figure in the U.S.A. This movie being his most political film as well as being a film that would alienate those who simply wanted the type of overt slapstick comedy that he had been known for in the 1920's and 30's, did little to help its success. The movie was not a success at the Box Office and American critics were not very impressed.

I love the following review from a French critic that looks at this film for what it is, a very smart and clever movie. If you have any trouble reading the following page simply click on it and use your touch screen to zoom in. 

-Michael J. Ruhland 


Those Charlie Chaplin Feet Are Back in The Gold Rush

The Gold Rush (1925) is in my opinion one of the finest if not the finest of Charlie Chaplin's feature films. From beginning to end it is a near perfect movie. It features many of Charlie's funniest comedy moments as well as one of the best uses of sentimentality in Charlie's work.

Below is a page from a 1925 issue of The Exhibitors Trade Review, advertising that masterpiece of a movie. If you have any trouble reading the following page click on it and use your touch screen to zoom in.

-Michael J. Ruhland 

Cowboy Church #57

Hello my friends and welcome back for another service of Cowboy Church.

Today's musical selection begins with The Statler Brothers with an all time gospel classic, Amazing Grace. It is impossible to count the amount of artists who recorded this song, however in my mind no one ever did it better than the Statlers. Despite how familiar this song is to all gospel music fans, The Statlers managed to make the song feel fresh and new each time they sang it and this is far from an easy feat. Jimmy Fortune gets to show off how incredible his high tenor voice can be here and he has never sounded better. Next comes a song from one of the pioneers of country music, Bardley Kincaid (who is best remembered today not for his music, but for giving Grandpa Jones the nickname Grandpa). This is his 1950 recording of the self-penned tune, Brush The Dust From That Old Bible. This song's references to the atom bomb date it today, but its basic message remains just as true today. Jesus said "Keep watch, then, because you are not certain of the day or of the hour" (Matthew 25:13) and this song tells us to live our lives for the Lord now and not put him off until some future day because we never know how long we have left until either we pass or God will release his wrath upon this world. This is followed by Roy Acuff with his 1946 recording of the gospel classic, That Glory Bound Train. Make sure you stay on the train Roy is singing about instead of The Devil's Train that Hank Williams will warn us about in the song following. Though Hank Williams Jr. is best known for his country-rock party songs, this is far from all he recorded. He has released a lot of sentimental heartfelt ballads, as well as some gospel songs.. In fact he has made whole albums of gospel songs. One of the best of these is the 1969 album Sunday Morning. Following is one of the great tracks off this album, I'm Gonna Sing, which had previously been recorded by his father. Jr. sounds more than a little bit like his daddy here. This is one of those fast paced upbeat gospel songs, that remind us that following God is not all about following a set of rules but that there is a great deal of joy in salvation. Next is an early Sons of the Pioneers recording from 1934, Open Up Them Pearly Gates. Despite being so early in the band's career their signature style is already completely in view, including their great sense of humor. This is followed Roy Rogers, Dale Evans and a bunch of kids singing A Rusty Old Halo on their TV variety show in 1962. Johnny Cash's last album was one that was very near and dear to his heart and one that showed him looking back at where his faith in God and love of music started. The album was called, My Mother's Hymn Book and would be made up of gospel songs he learned from his mother growing up. Despite this album being released in 2004 the songs were recorded in 1993 and 1994, so his voice sounds younger than it did on The Man Comes Around album, released before it. John would personally call this his favorite album he recorded and it is truly a treasure. Next is one of the songs from this album, When He Reached Down. John felt compelled to include this song not only because it is a great one but because it was one of his mother's favorites. Today's musical selection ends with Loretta Lynn singing the gospel classic, What a Friend We Have in Jesus.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men. Proverbs 22:29

Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Ephesians 4:28

In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." Acts 20:35

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. 1 John 5:3

By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 1 John 2:3

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. Romans 1:16

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. Revelations 3:20

This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. 1 Timothy 1:15

that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9

For whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. Romans 10:13

But Samuel declared: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, obedience is better than sacrifice, and attentiveness is better than the fat of rams..." 1 Samuel 15:22

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6

But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. Micah 7:7

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe. Proverbs 18:10

Thank you for joining me come back next week for another service of Cowboy Church. Happy trails to you until we meet again.

-Michael J. Ruhland

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Some Cartoons For Saturday Morning #71

Hello my friends and happy Saturday morning. You guessed it, it is time for more classic cartoons. 

 First up is one of the most famous and all together best of the Mickey Mouse short films, The Brave Little Tailor (1938). This cartoon was a comeback of sorts for Mickey, whose popularity had been overshadowed by the likes of Donald Duck and Pluto, who were the real stars of the Mickey cartoons of the time. This movie however would put the mouse front and center. The basis of the story came from the Brothers Grimm's story The Gallant Tailor. This story had already been kicking around the Disney studio for years, and a Silly Symphony short based on it was planned in 1934. Walt always having a special fondness for the mouse and seeing great potential in the film made sure this cartoon received special interest and care in its production. This was a case of Walt's dedication to the art of filmmaking. This short film was going to have all the lavish production values of a feature, even though that guaranteed that it would not turn a profit. This movie would also feature a line up of some of the greatest Disney animators of the era including Fred Moore, Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnson, Les Clark, Bill Tytla (my personal favorite Disney animator) and more (to see who animated what click here and scroll down to the cartoon's title). In later years Walt would still talk about The Brave Little Tailor in meetings and story conferences stating that he wished he could make more Mickey pictures as good as this one. The cartoon receives the 26th spot in Jerry Beck's excellent book, The 50 Greatest Cartoons. Beginning on September 15, 1938, Disney art would be on display in Julien Levy Galleries of New York for a three week exhibit. Most of the art would be from this film as well as the feature length Snow White. The following is a quote from an article in The Film Daily discussing this, "Mr. Levy head of the art galleries in question, is convinced that the Disney drawings are definitely a new form in American caricature that from an art point of view will be of lasting value." More art from The Brave Little Tailor would be on display in The Hotel New Yorker for Mickey's tenth birthday party celebration on September 27, 1938 (today, the mouse celebrates his birthday on September 18th). 

In our next film for this morning, the late Gene Deitch will educate us in How to Avoid Friendship (1964).

Again I feel why the Van Beuren Studios are so often forgotten today is that while their cartoons are quite entertaining, the characters have mostly been forgotten today, because they were rather forgettable. For example the following film stars Waffles the Cat and Don the Dog. The Haunted Ship (1930) is a fun and entertaining little movie, if not a very memorable one.  Notice how there is little difference between these characters and the Studio's own Tom and Jerry (not the cat and mouse but a human duo with the same name). The Tom and Jerry films would start the very next year.

I personally really enjoy the Columbia Fox and the Crow cartoons and I wish that more of my fellow cartoon fans were fans as well. Next is one of the favorite of The Fox and Crow films, Slay it With Flowers (1943). The following is an exhibitor's review from The Motion Picture Herald. "Slay it With Flowers: Color Rhapsodies - These Fox and Crow cartoons are developing a following here. This one is quite good. - W.V. Nevins III, Alfred Co-op theatre, Alfred, N.Y."

Though the Speedy Gonzales and Daffy Duck cartoons are far from the best films the Warner Brothers cartoon studio put out, but I find them enjoyable on their own weird merits. The last film for today is one of these, Chili Corn Corny (1965). I personally like the ending of this cartoon.

Thank you for joining me come back next week for more animated treasures until then peace, love and cartoons.

-Michael J. Ruhland

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

William S. Hart: The Good Bad Man

As many of you reading this blog know I love westerns. There is simply something so incredible about the atmosphere of the old west that is just as magical and engrossing as any of the fantasy lands of the movies. During the silent era few were masters of the genre on the level of actor, director and producer William S. Hart. Few filmmakers of any era could capture the magic and appeal of the old west as well as Hart. I often feel that silent era westerns too often go overlooked by both silent movie fans and western fans. That is a shame considering how great a silent western could be. Anyone interested in getting into this often overlooked part of film history have no better place to start than William S. Hart's movies.

Here is a 1916 article from Picture-Play Magazine about William S. Hart. If you have any trouble reading the following pages, you can click on them and use your touch screen to zoom in.

-Michael J. Ruhland 


Behind the Laughter With Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle and Mabel Normand

Before Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, The Marx Brothers and Our Gang, there was Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle and Mabel Normand. While both did many very good films without the other, they had a chemistry with each other that was perfect. The early short comedies with the two of them are among my favorite movies from the Keystone Studio. That is why I was so happy to find the following 1916 article from Picture Play Magazine discussing the making of these films. If you have any trouble reading any of the following pages click on them and use your touch screen to zoom in.  

-Michael J. Ruhland 

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Charlie Chaplin Refuses to Talk

Hello my friends. As many of you know, Charlie Chaplin was reluctant to get into talkies and made City Lights (1931) as a silent film after all of his contemporaries had moved to talkies. This is also rather interesting in hindsight as we know when Charlie started making talkies, those films would feature long speech's and many dialogue heavy scenes. We can all be grateful that City Lights was made as a silent as it is a near perfect movie just the way it is.

The following is a 1930 article from Silver Screen Magazine, discussing Charlie's decision to make City Lights as a silent. If you have trouble reading any of these pages click on them and use your touch screen to zoom in.

-Michael J. Ruhland 


Cowboy Church #56

Hello my friends and welcome back to another service of Cowboy Church.

Today's musical selection begins with The Statler Brothers singing In The Garden. The introduction of this song has Harold Reid showing why his bass voice was just so undeniably cool. How many times I wish I had his voice, cannot be counted. However just as great is all of them harmonizing perfectly at the end. Few vocal groups reach as close to perfection with their harmonies as The Statler Brothers did and this is most evident on the group's gospel recordings. This is followed by Merle Haggard with a beautiful rendition of Softly and Tenderly. This may be one of my favorite versions of this great gospel classic. The song was written by an Ohio business man named Will Thompson in 1880. When evangelist Dwight L. Moody was on his death bed he told the songwriter, "Will, I would rather have written ‘Softly and Tenderly Jesus Is Calling’ than anything I have been able to do in my whole life." This was appropriate as Will decided to make songwriting his career while at a meeting held by Moody. Next is The Monroe Brothers with their 1937 recording of My Last Moving Day. Though this song is much less known than the many already established gospel classics the group recorded at this time it is just as good. This is followed by Cowboy Copas with Four Books in the Bible. This is a song with a very important lesson for us Christians, especially at a time like this. Right now many people are worried about what is happening now s well as what the future holds. This song reminds us that at times like this, the best place to turn is the Bible. We can take comfort in knowing that God has overcome the evils of this world and that the same God loves each of us dearly. As Romans 8:31 says "What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?" No matter how scary this world gets, God knows what he is doing and will always be there for us. Afterwards is Roy Rogers, Dale Evans and The Sons of the Pioneers performing The Place Where I Worship on TV in 1962. Next comes George Strait with I Found Jesus on the Jail House Floor. This song was written by Earl Clark and Greg Hudik and part of his 2003 album Honkytonkville. This song besides just being very fast paced and fun, also reminds us that Jesus is there for us even in the darkest places and can use the dark times in our lives as a way to bring us to the light of his pure goodness. What song could possibly fit one of these Cowboy Church posts more than Omar Stiefer's Cowboy For Christ? Nobody could do bluegrass gospel music quite like the Stanley Brothers and that is shown by their great version of Over in the Glory Land from their 1959 album, For The Good People. Despite the fact that at times Johnny Cash's father could be cruel, even once stating that "God took the wrong son" (referring to John's brother Jack, who died at a very young age), John never stopped loving his father. This is especially evident when John spoke about the gospel song, Let the Lower Lights be Burning for the booklet accompanying the Unearthed Box Set. There Johnny wrote, "This is a very special song for me and I'll tell you what it means to me now. When my father was dying he was in a coma, and all my brothers and sisters and I were gathered around the bed and we felt we were telling him goodbye. But my oldest sister Louise said, 'Let's sing to him.' So we started singing 'Let the Lower Lights be Burning.' At one point I looked at him and though he had been asleep in a coma for days, his lips started moving and he started singing that song along with us. The more we sang it the more he sang. And he opened his eyes and he looked around at us as we were singing. And of course everybody had a good cry as we watched him and listened to him as he sang, 'Let the Lower Lights be Burning' with us. So when I was picking songs for this album, this had to be in it." Today's musical selection ends with George Jones singing Where We'll Never Grow Old.

The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15

The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. Proverbs 18:10

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:8

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 1 John 3:6

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! Romans 6:15

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. Matthew 6:14

Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. James 3:10

Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Galatians 6:8

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Galatians 5:16

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. Romans 1:16

that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. Revelations 3:20

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit. Proverbs 15:13

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

Thank you for joining me and come back next week for another service of Cowboy Church. Happy trails to you, until we meet again.

-Michael J. Ruhland

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Some Cartoons For Saturday Morning #70

Hello my friends and welcome back for another selection of classic cartoons.

First up is one of the classic Mickey, Donald and Goofy cartoons Clock Cleaners (1937). It is often said that the cartoons of the 1930's, 40's and 50's kept silent era type comedy alive. This film would be a perfect example of this. There is a scene with Goofy tangling on the edge of the clock tour, where he keeps getting to the point of almost falling off, but never does fall off. As the scene moves along the Goof ends up a tightrope. This resembles the daredevil type of humor that is visible in silent comedies like Harold Lloyd's Safety Last (1923).  Like many of the Mickey Donald and Goofy cartoons, the trio don't really work as a team as the movie has them split up and go on separate adventures. A review in The Film Daily called the movie "first rate" and stated "The genius of Disney for unique locals and backgrounds for his family of delightful brainchildren is evidenced in this reel." The following is a review in The Motion Picture Daily (whose writer obviously didn't know the difference between Pluto and Goofy), "If this, the first in the new Walt Disney series, is any indication of the Mickey Mouse and Silly Symphony cartoons to be released by RKO this season, the distributor will have a formidable lineup to offer exhibitors. It's a Mickey Mouse subject with subject with Pluto and Donald Duck assisting the rodent in cleaning a gigantic clock in a tower. There are ramifications, complications and a varied assortment of antics which provide nine minutes of wholesome humor. At a trade showing at the Astor, 1,000 exhibitors, their wives and children were in a riot of laughter. And when a short can do that, it's in the bag. The music and color are swell too." The following is an exhibitor's review from The Motion Picture Herald, "Clock Cleaners, The: Walt Disney Cartoons - This is one of Walt Disney's best. 'Donald Duck' and 'Goofy' have been stealing the show from Mickey Mouse for quite a while now Audience well pleased. - C.S. Caporal, Bison Theatre, Oklahoma City, Olka. General and neighborhood patronage." The movie was placed at 27 in Jerry Beck's must read book, 50 Greatest Cartoons. To who animated what scene click here and scroll down to the film title.

Next the late Gene Deitch teaches us Self Defense...For Cowards (1962).


  Next we join our old friend Krazy Kat for his first sound cartoon, Ratskin (1929). Krazy's design here is much closer to the character's comic strip counterpart than would be used in later Columbia  cartoons. However the character's personality and the film's storyline don't resemble the comics in the slightest. Appropriate for an early sound cartoon, this movie is filled with gags relating directly to music. A review in The Film Daily states that Ratskin "hits the intended spot" and I agree. 

When one thinks of Pink Panther cartoons, what comes to mind are films with little to no dialogue and especially none from the panther himself. However the panther spoke in two cartoon shorts and one of them is up next. The cartoon is Pink Ice (1965). While in the other cartoon where the panther speaks, (Sink Pink (1965)), the panther only delivers the film's punchline with dialogue, here our pink friend speaks throughout the movie. His voice is provided by Rich Little who also provide the voices of this film's other two characters. Despite the distinct departure for the series' norm, it proves to be a really fun little movie.


Today's cartoons selection ends with a silent Out of the Inkwell cartoon, Bubbles (1922)/

-Michael J. Ruhland