Monday, August 31, 2020

Movie Review: Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Candace Against the Universe


Michael's Movie Grade: B

This movie feels like an extended episode of the TV show, however it is like a really good episode. 

While the story is larger than the average episode of the show, it remains (like the show) more about the characters and humor than the story. Candace takes center stage here (as you might have guessed from the title) and this movie shows how good of a character she really is. She could have easily been the one note antagonist for her brothers and in lesser hands she definitely would have been. This movie shows us that beyond all her annoyance she truly loves her brothers and as silly and over the top as this movie is, this emotional center works and keeps the film relatable. I also love how Phineas and Ferb love their sister as well and aren't simply trying to drive her crazy as they would in lesser hands. This movie reaffirms and expands on these relationships in a way that is honestly quite touching. This of course does not mean that the humor takes a backseat. The examination of these characters is so well woven in that it can still be there and effective while the film spends most of its running time focusing on the humor. While not every joke in this movie works (it definitely has its share of clunkers), there are definitely some laugh out loud moments to be found. The songs while not especially memorable are a lot of fun and often feature quite clever lyrics. 

This may not be a masterpiece but for cartoon lovers and fans of the show there is a lot to enjoy. 

-Michael J. Ruhland   

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Cowboy Church #73

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

Today's music selection begins with Charley Pride's recording of This Highway Leads to Glory. This song was written by Lassaye Holmes, who also wrote a Christmas song Charley recorded called Christmas in My Home Town. This recording comes from Charley's first gospel album 1971's Did You Think to Pray. Next comes the Queen of Rockabilly herself, Wanda Jackson with the song Jesus Cares For Me. This comes from Wanda's 1973 album Country Gospel. For this album, Wanda leaves behind her rock and roll to do some gospel songs in a pure country style. She proves that she is just as great at country ballads as she is at fast rockers and singing this type of music you quickly realize just how great her voice really is. This is followed by Alan Jackson singing How Great Thou Art. This classic hymn was originally based on a poem by Swedish Pastor Carl Gustav Boberg. He wrote this poem after walking home one day and a sudden storm came. When the storm stopped he saw the clear bay in front of him and heard a church bell in the distance. This inspired him to write the poem. He first published it in 1886. When he published it again in Witness of the Truth (A Newspaper he edited in 1891, it included both words and music. The English language version we all know was translated by missionary Stuart K. Hine. This is followed by Roy Rogers and Dale Evans with Jesus Loves the Little Children. This comes from a 1955 Little Golden Record that also included them singing The Good Lord is Going to Take Care of You.   This song was written by C. Herbert Woolston and is said to have been inspired by Matthew 19:14 ( “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.”) The song is to the tune of the 1864 Civil War song, Tramp Tramp Tramp (written by George Fredrick Root). Roy and Dale only sing the refrain of this song as that is all that was commonly used in Sunday schools. However these are not the only lyrics to this song. To see the full lyrics click here: . This is followed by The Sons of the Pioneers performing Suddenly There's a Valley from their 1963 gospel album, Hymns of the Cowboy. Today's musical selection ends with Johnny Cash singing I Talk to Jesus Everyday. This recording comes from his 1971 album Man in Black. It is important for us Christians to remember that God is not just our Lord but our friend and we can and should have a personal relationship with him. This is a true blessing that the Lord and creator of everything should want to be our friend and spend time with each one of us. At the beginning Johnny talks about how all superstars pale in comparison with Jesus Christ. As much as anyone who reads a blog like this loves great entertainers and as much as I love them, there is only one God and he is infinitely greater than all of the great entertainers put together.

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

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. John 4:18

Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.' Mark 10:27

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 3:3-6

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

The hope of the righteous will be gladness, but the expectation of the wicked will perish. Proverbs 10:28

Happy are the people whose God is the LORD! Psalm 144:15

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Philippians 4:4

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  Romans 10:9

 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Hebrews 7:25

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out. Acts 3:19

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

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

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Silent Films on TCM This September

 Hello my fellow TCM fans and silent film lovers, to make sure you don't miss a thing here is a list of all the silent films that will be playing on TCM this September. Unfortunately there is not much this month. After taking a month long break for Summer Under the Stars, Silent Sunday Nights seems to be taking another month long break as Sundays are dedicated to September's Star of the Month, Dorothy Dandridge. Luckily from looking forward at the schedule Silent Sunday Nights appears to be coming back in October, but the lack of silents for September is very disappointing. Still the very few that will be shown are great movies that I always enjoy seeing. Also on the bright side (though not silent) I am looking forward to Leonard Maltin hosting classic short subjects on the 14th. 


Wednesday, September 9th

The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926) Director: Lotte Reiniger. 4:45am Pacific. 7:45 am Eastern.

Sunday September, 13th

The Ace of Hearts (1921) Director: Wallace Worsley. Starring Lon Chaney and John Bowers. 10:15pm Pacific. 1:15am Eastern. 

Monday, September, 21st

Flesh and the Devil (1926) Director: Clarence Brown. Starring John Gilbert and Greta Garbo. 

-Michael J. Ruhland 

Some Cartoons For Saturday Morning #86

 Hello my friends and happy Saturday morning, once again it is time for another selection of classic cartoons. 

First up is a classic World War 2 themed Merrie Melodies cartoon, The Fifth-Column Mouse (1943). This film differs from most of the World War Two propaganda cartoons of this era as there is no sign of Nazis, Hitler or Japanese soldiers. The cartoon is more of an allegory, albeit not a subtle one. While the political overtones may go over a modern kid's head (if the child is not familiar with World War 2 history) there is no doubt that movie audiences knew exactly what this cartoon was referring to upon its release. The music in this film is delightful and I especially love the rendition of  Blues in the Night .

Next comes another Merrie Melodies cartoon from 1943, Fin N' Catty (1943). Though this is not one of the better known Warner Brothers cartoons, it is one I have always had a special fondness for since I first saw it as a kid. The storyline is a simple cartoon story we are all familiar with a cat tries to eat a fish with little luck. Yet director Chuck Jones and writer Michael Maltase (the same team who brought us the Coyote and Roadrunner cartoons as the "Duck Season, Rabbit Season trilogy) find a nice twist on this formula often playing on fact that cats hate water. The ending gag and the opening narration definitely make this cartoon stand out for me. One exhibitors review (from the Motion Picture Herald) shows the writer confusing this with another Warner Brothers cartoon. This is that review: "FIN-N-CATTY: Merrie Melodies Cartoons—Good cartoon with the 'Jerry Colona Worm.'—Ralph Raspa, State Theatre, Rivesville, W. Va." The "Jerry Colona Worm" appears in only two cartoons, The Wacky Worm (1941) and Greetings Bait (1943). The cat's design here is similar to the one used in later Warner Brothers cartoons (directed by Robert McKimson) It's Hummer Time (1950), A Fractured Leghorn (1950) and Early to Bet (1951). The design is also very similar to a differently colored cat Chuck Jones used in The Aristo-Cat (1943).

Next comes a cartoon who's title explains the basic story, Cat Meets Mouse (1942). If any of you have ever seen a cartoon before, you know the basic storyline from reading that title. If the opening gag of this Terry-Toon seems completely tasteless today, it must be remembered that in 1942, nobody working on this cartoon knew the true horrors of a concentration camp. This may not be on the level of say Tom and Jerry but it is a delightful cartoon in its own right. A 1942 issue of the Motion Picture Herald lets us know that this cartoon played with the feature To The Shores of Tripoli (1942) at the Roxy the "week of April 4th" and the "week of April 11th." A review in The Motion Picture Herald describes this cartoon by stating "Paul Terry's appealing characters, the cat and the mouse, are engaged in a naval conflict in this reel." The review later states, "It should bring laughs."

Now for a Garfield Quickie.

What are Saturday Morning cartoons without cereal.

Hanna-Barbera's Abbott and Costello TV cartoon from 1967 is of special interest to Abbott and Costello fans because Bud Abbott does his own voice. Unfortunately Lou Costello had passed by this time and the part was taken over by Stan Irwin.

Let us end with a song.

Thanks for joining me come back next week for more animated treasures. Until then may all your tunes be looney and your melodies merry.

-Michael J. Ruhland 

Monday, August 24, 2020

The Grand Ole Opry in 1948 and 1957

 For any country music fan (like me), The Grand Ole Opry is a place with a special magic that can never be described. It is not just where many great country singers preform, but it is a place where so much important music history has happened and in many ways the home of country music. Even though Waylon Jennings and Nashville did not even come close to seeing eye to eye, still in his song Bob Wills is Still the King he sang "You can hear the Grand Ol' Opry in Nashville Tennessee. Its the home of country music on that we all agree." It is hard to even guess where country music would be today if it wasn't for the Grand Ole Opry, but the history of the genre would be drastically different. 

Tonight let us take a look at two years of the Grand Ole Opry, 1948 and 1957. The following pages come from a 1948 issue and a 1957 issue of Radio and Television Mirror. If you have trouble reading these pages click on them and use your touch screen to zoom in. 



-Michael J. Ruhland 

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Cowboy Church #72

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

Since for some reason videos on this blog seem to not show up on some devices for some reason each video will be followed by a link to where you watch the video elsewhere. 

Today's musical selection begins with Little Jimmy Dickens singing Alone With God. Though Jimmy Dickens is best remembered today for his joking around and novelty songs like May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose, he could deliver a powerful emotional song with the best of them. Listening to his vocal treatment of this song it is hard not to the notice the pure emotion in his voice. This is followed by Hank Snow singing My Religion's Not Old-Fashioned (But It's Real Genuine). This recording comes from his 1966 gospel album Gospel Train. The song was written by one of the true giants of cowboy gospel music, Stuart Hamblin (It's No Secret What God Can Do). This song has a message that is just as important to us today (if not more so) than when Hank recorded this song. Being a Christian should not become something old fashioned. The world often tries to look at it as such, but the word of God is just as true today as it always has been and therefore God is always relevant regardless of what is happening in the world around us. Speaking of Stuart Hamblin, up next is one of his most popular compositions, This Ole House. This is the very first recording of the song, sung by Stuart himself in 1954. Later the same year Rosemary Clooney would record the song and take it to number 1 on the charts. The story goes that Stuart was inspired to write this song when he and John Wayne went hunting and came across a hut with a dead man inside but a dog outside still faithfully guarding the place. This is followed by Roy Rogers with A Cowboy's Sunday Prayer. This recording comes from his (and his wife Dale Evans') 1959 gospel album Jesus Loves Me. Next is Johnny Cash (joined by The Carter Family and the Statler Brothers) on a 1971 episode of The Johnny Cash TV Show, performing a medley of gospel songs ( Old Time Religion, The Fourth Man and The Old Account). Despite how many tough outlaw songs he recorded, gospel music was always the music closest to Johnny's heart and when he decided to become a singer professionally, he wanted to be a gospel singer. When he got his own TV show, he wanted to make sure that gospel music played a prominent part. This was not something the networks and executives were happy about, but Johnny made sure that all throughout his shows run there would be gospel music mixed in with the country and rock and roll. Today's musical selection ends with The Sons of the Pioneers singing, He Walks With the Wild and the Lonely. This recording comes from their 1963 gospel album Hymns of the Cowboy

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD himself, is my strength and my defense ; he has become my salvation. Isaiah 12:2

Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD. Proverbs 16:20

 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. Isaiah 12:3

Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions. Mark 11:35

For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. Matthew 6:14-15

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32 

Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. Proverbs 28:13

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 1 John 2:1

If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink Proverbs 25:31

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you Matthew 5:44 

Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. Romans 12:17

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

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Some Cartoons For Saturday Morning #85 - Silent Edition

Note: As for some reason lately videos do not seem to appear on every device when posted on this blog, each video will feature a link under it where you can watch the cartoon. If you do not see a video please use these links. 

 It has been a while since I have done a silent edition of my Saturday Morning Cartoons posts. However it is simply an idea I love too much to stay away from too long. So happy Saturday morning my friends and let us enjoy some silent era cartoons. 

Colonel Heeza Lair is considered by many to be the first cartoon star with his own series. He began his career in 1913 with the short, Colonel Heeza Lair in Africa (1913). After 1917 his series seemed to come to an end. The Bray studio made quite a few successful series thanks to such animation greats as Earl Hurd, Paul Terry and Max and Dave Fleischer. However when those artists left in the early 1920's, the studio descided to revive the Colonel to make up for the great talent they lost. Up first we have one of these films, Forbidden Fruit (1923). The new cartoons with the character took on the format of the Out of the Inkwell cartoons that the Fleischer Brothers had done for the Bray Studio, but now were doing on their own. This is to say the animated Colonel interacts with his live action animators (in this movie that includes Walter Lantz, the future Woody Woodpecker creator). 

Motion Picture News, 1916

Motion Picture World, 1916

Many film historians consider Émile Cohl's Fantasmagorie (1908) to be one of the first (if not the first) hand drawn completely animated films. What makes this incredible is how entertaining and imaginative this film still is today.

Next comes one of my all time favorite silent era cartoons, Bobby Bumps Puts a Beanery on the Bum (1918). Earl Hurd's Bobby Bumps series though forgotten today is one of the finest cartoon series of its era and these films never fail to put a smile on my face.

Following is one of my favorite Mutt and Jeff cartoons, Playing With Fire (1926).

Last but certainly not least is the Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon, Africa Before Dark (1928). The silent era was probally the most cartoon-y era of Disney cartoons, as unlike for later Disney characters nothing is impossible for Oswald to do with his body. Though Walt would later disregard these surreal body gags, there is no doubt they worked extremely well within the context of these Oswald films. A gag involving Oswald detacthing his face was used in an earlier Disney film, the Alice Comedy, Alice Gets Stung, in which the gag would be preformed by the now forgotten Julis the cat. Less surreal gags from this cartoon would later be reused by Mickey Mouse in his newspaper comic strip (January 29, 30, 31, 1930). 

Friday, August 21, 2020

Movie Review: The One and Only Ivan


Michael's Movie Grade: B-

I am going to be honest when this Disney + Original Movie started I had little to no faith that I was going to enjoy this at all. Live action talking animal films have honestly been terrible lately and I thought this was going to be another failure in the long string of misses lately. When the animals started telling terrible jokes, horrible flashbacks of Doolittle started to settle in. I was completely ready to hate this, when something strange happened, I started to find myself involved with the story. It wasn't the most original story, but the emotion felt so real and I discovered underneath the horrible jokes, Ivan and Ruby were very likable and relatable. While the other animals were simply there for reasons of terrible jokes, they are kept very much in the background, while the two animals I cared about held this story together. I was also pleased that the ringleader was not the one dimensional villain he could of easily been. Though he sometimes loses his temper (like any of us do) and his desire to put on a perfect show makes him do less than likable things, you actually get the feeling that he cares for these animals, even if what he thinks is best for them isn't always what is best. The humor never gets better and there is entirely too much of it in this movie, but this movie overcomes its faults with a good heart and likable lead characters. 

-Michael J. Ruhland   

Thursday, August 20, 2020

The Foreign Language Films of Laurel and Hardy

 Laurel and Hardy had been popular overseas since they started working as a team. In interest of keeping this popularity in countries that did not speak English, producer Hal Roach suggested that some Laurel and Hardy films would be made in multiple languages. Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy would read the foreign lines phonetically off cue cards. In the audio commentary for Hog Wild Historian Richard W. Bann stated that for that film all three versions (English, Spanish and French) were shot simultaneously. For this film, each scene would be shot at least three times, before shooting the next scene. Interestingly these foreign language films were different in more ways than just what language the actors were speaking. Often scenes would be added for these films and sometimes multiple shorts would be put together to make one film. This sometimes would make English language shorts into foreign language features. Despite Pardon Us being the team’s first staring feature released in the US, the first staring feature film (that I am aware of) the boys appeared in was the 1930 Spanish language, Noche De Duendes . This was the Spanish version of the short The Laurel and Hardy Murder Case (though scenes from Berthmarks were incorporated in). This film was 49 minutes, while a feature only needs to be 40. This was done because of higher film rental prices overseas. Often to pad out the length performances were added. For instance, in Politiquesias the party Ollie is throwing includes the popular vaudeville entertainer Hadji Ali’s bizarre act (I cannot possibly explain it in words, watch the film) and the magician AJ Cantu doing his stuff.  As well as length these foreign language films also featured more risqué moments than those that appeared in the original versions. For instance, in La Vida Nocturna (the Spanish version of Blotto), there is a dance number with a barely dressed woman. In Politiquesias one of the characters is directly called a slut. In Les Carottiers (The French version of Be Big and Laughing Gravy), the landlord says, “They can go to Hell.”  Though these were done in the pre-code Hollywood era, pre-code Hollywood was not always as free to do anything as you might think. Films could be banned in various theaters (The Mickey Mouse cartoon The Whoopee Party was banned from some theaters due to Clarabelle Cow’s dangling udder for instance) and they had to be careful how far they went with vulgarity, which is why stuff like this did not appear in the team’s English language films. The most surprising change to any of these films however appeared in Ladrones (The Spanish version of Night Owls). Here the ending was changed completely. In the original just Edgar Kennedy gets arrested, however in the Spanish version Stan and Ollie also get arrested. Then a new scene is added. As Stan and Ollie are being taken to jail in a convertible car, they grab hold of a tree branch and accidentally end in the police chief’s car, which then drives into a river. Pardon Us turned out to be the only one of the boy’s English language features to get the foreign language treatment, as soon this method would be abandoned in favor of dubbing. Those who have seen these films will be quick to note that Oliver Hardy seems to adapt to speaking foreign languages while Stan Laurel seems a bit more uncomfortable. These foreign language films not only prove fascinating to Laurel and Hardy buffs but are highly entertaining to the casual fan as well. In foreign countries these films proved to be extremely popular.

Variety talked about Gleuckline Kindheit (the German version of Brats) saying “Away from the U.S. in foreign countries, Laurel and Hardy appear to be the ace film attraction. Though in shorts, they are heavily billed, with the foreign theater where one of their shorts is playing seemingly certain of a profitable period. In Spanish territories Laurel and Hardy are a panic as soon as they speak. This is regardless of any action, they speak with a comical accent to the natives; their Spanish must sound like Milt Gross does to Americans… This is The Brats in its original English version as far as action is concerned. Comedy teams speaks German. L & H’s German occasionally possess a decided American twang”      

-Michael J. Ruhland 

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Leonard Maltin's Short Film Showcase on TCM 9/14

 Hello my friends and fellow film lovers. Good news on TCM this September 14th, film historian and critic (and major influence on me) Leonard Maltin will be hosting an evening of classic short films starting at 5pm Pacific and 8pm Eastern. Here are the list of films to be shown.

Star Night at the Cocoanut Grove (1934) Staring Leo Carrillo.

A Night at the Movies (1937) Director: Roy Rowald. Staring Robert Benchly. 

A Pip From Pittsburg (1931) Director: James Parrott. Staring Charley Chase. 

Movie Pests
(1944) Director: Will Jason. Staring Heinie Conklin. 

So You Want to Be a Detective
(1948) Director: Richard Bare. Staring George Hamlin. 

(1935) Narrator: James Fitz Patrick. 

The Man in the Barn (1937) Director: Jacques Tourneur. 

Smash Your Baggage (1932) Director: Roy Mack. Staring  Carrie Marrier.

Asleep in the Feet (1933) Director: Gus Meins. Staring Zazu Pitts and Thelma Todd. 

Top Flat (1935) Director: William Terhune. Staring Thelma Todd and Pasty Kelly. 

Bargain of the Century (1933) Director: Charley Chase. Staring Thelma Todd and ZaSu Pitts.

You're Telling Me (1932) Directors: Lloyd French, Anthony Mack. Staring The Boyfriends. 

Call a Cop (1931) Director: George Stevens. Staring The Boyfriends.

Too Many Women (1932) Director: Lloyd French. Staring The Boyfriends.

Air Tight (1931) Director: George Stevens. Staring The Boyfriends. 

Buzzing Around (1933) Director: Alfred J. Goulding. Staring Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle. 

Whispering Whoopee (1930) Director: James W. Horne. Staring Charley Chase.

Women in Hiding (1940) Director: Joseph Newman. Staring Wilfred Lucas. 

Drunk Driving (1939) Director: David Miller. Staring John Dilson. 

The Public Pays (1936) Director: Errol Taggart. Staring William Prawley. 

His Silent Racket (1933) Staring Chet Brandenburg.

Girl Shock (1930) Director: James W. Horne. Staring Charley Chase. 

Fallen Arches (1933) Director: Gus Meins. Staring Charley Chase. 

The Chase's of Pimple Street (1934) Director: Charles Parrott. Staring Charlie Chase. 

Four Parts (1934) Director: Eddie Dunn. Staring Charley Chase. 

So You Want to Play the Piano (1956) Director: Richard L. Bare. Staring George O' Hanlon.

Apples To You (1934) Director: Leigh Jason. Staring Lillian Miles.

Zion Canyon of Color (1934) Narrator: James Fitzpatrick. 

How to Sleep
(1935) Director: Nick Grinde. Staring Robert Benchly. 

Double Talk (1937) Director: Lloyd French. Staring Charles Dingle. 

Pony Express Days (1940) Director:   B. Reeves Eason. Staring David Bruce. 

Important Business (1944) Director: Will Jason. Staring Bert Moorehouse. 

The Black Network (1936) Director: Roy Mack. Staring Emmett Wallace. 

And She Learned About Dames (1934) Staring Martha Merrill.

The Fabulous Fraud (1948) Director: Edward L. Cahn. Staring  Marcia Mae Jones. 

-Michael J. Ruhland 

Monday, August 17, 2020

Movie Review: Magic Camp


Michael's Movie Grade: C

This is the first Disney + original movie to completely feel like it belongs on the Disney channel. This film completely feels like a made for TV movie. Like many made for TV movies this film has no pretentions about being anything great, it simply tries to be an entertaining way to pass some time. It successeds pretty well at this. 

The story here is full of clichés that we have seen a million times in an environment that doesn't feel new at all. If you can't see what is going to happen at least 99% of time, you haven't seen many movies before. Yet it kind of works because of sheer likability. Our main character (Nathaniel Logan McIntyre) (Adam Devine may be the first one credited, but this is one of the too often instances of the adult star being credited over the child star, who is actually the main character), is the true heart of the movie and brings some real emotion to the movie. He is instantly likable and while his character arc is nothing new it works surprisingly well, keeping our interest in even the film's weaker moments. In fact the kids steal the movie from the bigger name adult stars. The funniest moments don't come from Adam Devine's mugging but rather from Ruth's (Isabella Crovetti) obsession with bunnies. To be honest the moments focusing on the adults don't quite work. Adam Devine is given little actually funny to do and despite the fact that he is giving it his best, he can't save how unfunny his character is. His mean spirited feud with a more successful magician (Gillian Jacobs) that he used to be partners with, honestly makes him a bit too unlikable at times. Yet the pure charm of the kid characters and the unpretentiousness of the movie, make this work. 

This will never be a Disney classic but for an enjoyable way to pass some time, it is a good choice. 

-Michael J. Ruhland  

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Alice Joyce Though the Looking Glass

Though she is not talked about the way she should be today, actress Alice Joyce was a Hollywood legend. With a career dating back to 1910 and hundreds of films to her name, Alice surely left her mark on movies. 

The following is an article from The Modern Screen Magazine from 1930, the same year as her last movie, Song o' My Heart. It was written by Thyra Samter Winslow (a popular author of the time). 

"She has a quality which makes her an amazing paradox. Alice Joyce is a product of the movies -of Hollywood - and she is a lady. 

"I'm sure there must be other ladies of Hollywood. Unfortunately I have met few of them. I have met delightful gamins, charming schemers, amusing gold diggers, amazing exhibitionists, interesting psychopathic cases that would interest my friends, Dr. Smith Ely Jelliffe and Dr. A. A. Brill. But these fascinating girls after you've seen them do their tricks and have heard them constantly talk about their own little world in which they are God and chief votary, rather pall. Alice Joyce is a human, understanding and understandable person. She seems to me to be unusually free from neuroses and delusions. She looks at life calmly, with mild amusement, with a nice sense of balance. She is a delightful person. A like to think she is my friend.

"When I told Alice Joyce that I wanted to do a story about her she smiled with an uplifted eyebrow. We had talked over a hundred small topics of the day. I had been amused and interested in her view of life. She and her younger daughter, little Peggy Regan, going on nine, had come out for a swim and for tea. I looked at Alice at ease in one of those low wicker chairs in my sun room. I knew she had been in movies since the old Biograph days and yet, a sort of miracle, there is the about her the same youthfulness that there is about Peggy. Her hazel eyes are wide apart, beautifully spaced. Her brown hair is bobbed but it isn't one of the long mussed-looking bobs that so many Hollywood stars think necessary for their 'parts' nor is it one of the close-cropped bizarre effects or the shaving like curls other screen actresses have achieved. Usually it is rather straight and Alice has a distracting way of pushing her hat back with a gesture that would make anyone else look hideous, but which successeds in making her look naïve and young. For that matter the line under her chin has the softness of youth - the fullness which disappears under too many messages and is always gone after a facelift or a 'restoration' which women resort to in vain clutchings for youth. Alice Joyce's face is pale and she uses no make-up except vivid scarlet lip rouge - you know her mouth's sensuous quality. She is restless always underneath. And outwardly she has the lovely calm of a person who nothing seems to disturb. 

"'How did you get started?' I asked. And waited to hear one of those usual romantic stories that stars tell about grand old ancestral homes and money loses.  

"'I got a job as a telephone operator. Gramercy. I went from there to the old hotel Oxford. And made thirty dollars a month. After work I went home to the Bronx -my stepfather could have a house with room enough for his dogs there.'

"Even that job didn't last. Alice was laid off. Then at a dance an artist asked her to pose. 

"'That was better.' She smiled reminiscently. 'Five dollars a day and I could stop at 5 o clock. Even now I think a good director is one who stops sharp at five.'

"It was interesting, posing. She was sixteen now. She posed for Coles Phillips, C. D. Williams, Orson Lowell.

"A girl told Alice about the old Biograph company. You could make ten dollars a day and extra for overtime. Alice went to Biograph - got a job. D.W. Griffith was directing She was in pictures with Mary Pickford and Arthur Johnson and Willette Kershaw. And she did get ten dollars a day! When she worked. 

"But there where too many days when even a lovely, slim extra girl wasn't needed. Alice went back to posing. If you weren't at the studio when the artist wanted you, he got another model. 

"She grew restless. She wanted more than posing. She rehearsed with Lew Fields in 'The Summer Widowers.' That was fun and then she was late. The director's temper uncertain. She was fired. Three weeks of rehearsals gone for nothing. 

"She got a job posing for song slides. A man with whom she had posed went into pictures. His company was having trouble finding a girl who could ride. Alice had ridden a horse, once, on a farm. 

"'I can ride' she said.

"She fell off the horse was bruised black and blue. But she made ten dollars. And riding got her a regular job.

"Kalem had made her an offer and asked what salary she wanted. Friends said 'Don't be cheap!' She knew that Gene Gaither got thirty five dollars a week for writing and acting. Alice trembling a little asked for fifty dollars. And got it!

"Fifty dollars a week! Seventy Five! And there was never a nickel left over. Funny as you make more money your expenses seem to go up. For a year and a half Alice did Indian and Western pictures. 'The Engineers Sweetheart!' Then came recognition. 

"Of all her pictures Alice Joyce likes 'Stella Dallas,' 'The Little French Girl,' and the picture she finished only last April, 'He Knew Women.' This was adapted from the Theatre Guild's success, 'The Second Man' and she played opposite Lowell Sherman. She did not like as well 'Song o My Heart' with McCormack. Last year she was especially pleased because George Arliss chose her for the second time to play in 'The Green Goddess.' And the day I am writing this she is completing her plans to go to California for another picture. 

"I don't believe Alice Joyce ever gave a wild party in her life. She doesn't like them. She has a charmingly appointed apartment in New York, a beach bungalow in Hollywood. She keeps her servants for years and they adore her. She is interested in the things that interest other civilized people. She has no weird fads. Her clothes are conservative. In spite of a a lot of rumors all stars must contend with, I believe she is in love with Jack Regan, her own husband. She treats him with the amused but tolerant air that a woman learns to take towards her husband after years of marriage, especially if that husband is Irish and a bit prone to jealousy and is humorous and fond. She was married once before, to Tom Moore. They are still good friends. 

"'The business of staying together for the children's sake is nonsense' she said. 'Children are less happy in a home without harmony than with one parent in a pleasant home.'

"Alice has two children. Wisely she has kept them away from public life. Young is Alice Moore is calm-eyed, dignified and altogether charming. Little Peggy Regan is about the nicest child I know. She is gay, generous, frank, without a trace of self consciousness, delighted with the simplest pleasures, good company. 

"An interview isn't complete without favorites. I found the A.E. Matthews is Alice Joyce's favorite actor. Jane Cowl and Mrs. Fiske her favorite actresses. Brown is her favorite color. Her favorite author is Somerset Maugham - he gave her three of his autographed books. She likes 'The Moon and Sixpence' best of all. She enjoys a good mystery story and just finished Edgar Wallace's 'Red Circle.' 

"She prefers living in New York - is a city person - doesn't like the country a great deal. She like England too. And China - Hong Kong still holds romance."

"I asked her who she'd like to be if she wasn't herself."

"'Any little girl of eight to eleven.' She said. 'Any little girl know that is. Children seem to have better times these days than when I was a youngster.' 

"She is not a demanding mother - she wants her daughter to be individuals - to get what they want most out of life. If they want to go on the stage or into the movies she will help them all she can though she thinks the work is hard. Alice at fourteen has already shown a talent for writing - is on the school paper. Alice is too busy being happy to think about careers. 

"Nor is an interview with an actress complete with talking about beauty secrets. Alice still looks younger than most of the new stars. And she doesn't seem to have any secrets at all! She hardly ever takes time for a massage. She uses cold cream when she thinks of it which isn't very often. Her life is that of hundreds of other sophisticated New York Women. She likes good things to eat, an occasional drink, little parties and the theatre. 

"At eight she has coffee usually with warm milk. Or hot water and lemon juice. When she feels the need of it she takes bending exercise, which suffice to keep her trim.

"Her favorite luncheon dish is a steak sandwich. Sometimes she has a poached egg on spinach, or a baked potato  and buttermilk and white rock. She never snacks during the day. Tea is at five, a social hour, and Alice usually has only a nibble of a sandwich. Her dinner is simple; soup, meat, green vegetables, a salad, crackers, cheese, coffee. No sweets - though she likes candy and perhaps, once a month, goes on a candy bat and devours a whole box of fudge. 

"Alice is five feet five and three quarter inches in height and she weighs one hundred and twenty two pounds. She has a very simple way of losing. 

"'On my way to Hollywood I live on buttermilk. I'm never much overweight. When I get there I usually find I reduced enough. I weigh a little more when I play with a tall man.'

"No sensation - no lurid past or crimson future. A little telephone girl who become a gracious and lovely little lady. If that can happen, maybe, after all, there's something pretty fine about the movies."

-Michael J. Ruhland

Cowboy Church #71

Note: Since when I put up a post with videos the videos only show up on certain devices, I have decided to post any blogpost with videos on two blogs in case the videos don't play for you on this blog. If the videos don't appear here, click here to see the post on the other blog.

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

Today's music selection begins with Johnny Cash performing, Truth. It had been assumed that this song was a poem written by Muhammad Ali that he had handed to John. However when House of Cash employee, Gregg Geller heard the song, he simply didn't think it sounded like one of Ali's poems and so he googled the first line of the song, which lead him to a website for Hazrat Inayat Khan. Khan was one of the leaders of the Universal Sufi movement in the early 20th century and among his writers was this poem in full. While Ali did in fact introduce John to the poem he did not write it himself. With the 1976 album, The Troublemaker Willie Nelson proved that he was just as great at gospel music as he was at the rough edged Outlaw country. All fans of Willie Nelson or gospel music in general will find many delights in this great album. One of these delights is Willie's lively and joy filled rendition of the gospel classic, Where the Soul Never Dies. Willie puts all his heart and soul into this music and it is easy to see that he is just as passionate about gospel music as he is about country music or old jazz standards. This song also gives Willie a chance to show us just how great of a guitarist he is and he and his old pal Trigger (the name of his guitar) really give their all to this gospel standard. Next is The King of the Cowboys and the Queen of the West, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, with a great gospel song written by Dale herself, The Bible Tells Me So. Though The Roy Rogers Show on TV didn't have as many musical numbers as Roy and Dale's movies did, this song found its way into that show. Though he is not as well remembered today as he should be Jim Reeves was an extremely popular country singer of his era and one of the finest vocalists of the Countrypolitan movement (a commercially successful movement from the rough edged honky tonk country of the 1940's into a softer more pop friendly easy listening sound) of the late 1950's and early 1960's. This is his lovely rendition of the gospel classic, Where We'll Never Grow Old. This song was written by James Cleveland Moore in 1914. This song was inspired by him listening to his father sing, but his father's voice failing him because of old age. Matthew 7:5 says, "Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye." Too often we judge other people's sins but have no problem with our own sins. This is what The Charlie Daniels Band song New Pharisees is about. This song comes from their 1996 Christian album, Steel Witness. Charlie Daniels stated in his memoir, Never Look at the Empty Seats, that he took special care writing his Christian songs because in his younger years, though he believed in God, he did not fully understand what the Bible actually said and he wanted his band's Christian albums to speak to those who are like he was. Today's musical selection continues with The Sons of the Pioneers' 1937 recording of Leaning on the Everlasting Arms. At this time the group was made up of Bob Nolan, Tim Spencer, Leonard Slye (later to leave the band for a movie career under the name Roy Rogers), Lloyd Perryman, Karl Farr and Hugh Farr. This is personally my favorite line up for the band (though I love this band under any incarnation). Today's musical selection ends with Cowboy Copas' 1956 recording of Don't Shake Hands With The Devil. 


Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. Hebrews 6:19

 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6 

To the person who pleases Him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. Ecclesiastes 2:26

Deceit is in the hearts of those who plot evil, but those who promote peace have joy. Proverbs 12:20

Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life. Luke 12:24-25

Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad. Proverbs 12:25

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29

Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? Romans 2:4

There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.  Proverbs 14:12

Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Proverbs 30:5

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1

In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.  Proverbs 3:6

Many are the plans in a human heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9

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

-Michael J. Ruhland 

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Some Cartoons For Saturday Morning #84

Note: Hi my friends, I originally thought to move to another site because of when I made posts featuring lots of video's they only showed up on some devices. Because of this I am doing these video posts on two blogs, so that all of you can see the videos and I will share the link to the other blog here. Click here if the videos are not showing up. 

 Happy Saturday morning my friends it is once again time for some classic cartoons.

Today's selection starts off with the first and (in my opinion) best of the Goofy Gophers cartoons simply titled, The Goofy Gophers (1947). These characters (like Tweety) can get written off simply as cute, but people who think of them simply as cute characters are missing the joke. What makes these characters so appeal is that their overly polite dialogue is followed by pure acts of slapstick violence against their enemies. It also is often claimed that these two characters were rip offs of Disney's Chip and Dale, however while I can see how their designs are similar, they are very different personality wise. This film was at first going to be directed by Bob Clampett, who began working on it. However he left Warner Brothers before finishing, so Art Davis took over the direction. Both directors personal styles can be felt here. This cartoon also marks the only time the gophers are colored grey instead of brown. A review in The Film Daily called this "A definite laugh getter with plenty of appeal." A review in Showman's Trade Review stated "Two gophers with exaggerated mannerisms in politeness may become standard characters in future Warner Brothers cartoons, if the actions of the duo in this short may be taken as criterion." 


Next comes one of my favorite of The New Three Stooges cartoons, Curly in Wonderland. I love that every character except for Curly Joe looks and sounds just like Moe and Larry. 

Next is a delightful early black and white Silly Symphony, Midnight in a Toy Shop (1930). The main character of this cartoon is a small curious spider. This character was actually a reoccurring Symphonies character. He does not have much personality or action wise, but instead is simply a observer of all that is happening around him. Midnight in a Toy Shop marks this character's film debut. The character never received a name. This is before the Disney films were full of original songs and instead what is heard in the score is mostly classical music. Two of the pieces featured here are Leo Delbies' Pizzicato Polka and Adabert Keler-Bela's Lustspiel-Ouverture. Both of these pieces were not featured in foreign releases of the cartoon. 

 Now it is time for a Garfield Quickie.

Today's cartoon selection continues with an episode of Filmation's TV Flash (the superhero, not the animation style) cartoons. 

To end today's cartoon selection Let's Sing Along With Popeye (1934).

-Michael J. Ruhland 

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Cowboy Church #70

Hello my friends and welcome back for another service of Cowboy Church. Today's musical selection begins with Kitty Wells singing My loved One's Are Waiting For Me from her 1959 gospel album Dust on the Bible. One of the great comforts of being a Christian is knowing that when a loved one dies they are not gone forever and we will be able to spend time with them again in Heaven. This song tells of this comfort and joy. This is followed by Pasty Cline's 1959 recording of the gospel classic, Just a Closer Walk With Thee. While this song has been recorded by many artists over the years, Pasty's voice fits it perfectly and there is a soulful and emotional feeling to this version that makes it stand out. Next is Ray Price singing Don't Give Up When Your Down from his 1974 gospel album This Time Lord. Christians should remember (and too often forget) that Christianity isn't just some rules we follow or things we do. It should give us joy, because what is more joyful than how much God loves us and will do (and has done) for us, or that we have a God who has overcome all the evils and unhappiness of the world. This is followed by Roy Rogers and Dale Evan's with their 1956 recording Thank You God. The Ranch Hands and Mitch Miller & His Orchestra. God has given us so much that we too often take for granted. Every good thing we have is a blessing from God and yet too often we focus simply on the things that make us unhappy, and forget to enjoy the incredible gifts we have. This is followed by George Jones singing one of the all time great Hymns, What a Friend We Have in Jesus. After is Conway Twitty singing Who Will Pray For Me, from his 1973 gospel album Clinging To A Saving Hand / Steal Away. Today's musical selection ends with The Sons of the Pioneers singing one of my favorite gospel songs, There's Power in the Blood. Though many have recorded this song, The Sons of the Pioneers' version is my favorite. I love the pure energy and joy found in this version.

He who heeds the word wisely will find good, And whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he. Proverbs 16:20

Happy is the man who finds wisdom, And the man who gains understanding Proverbs 3:13

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Philippians 4:4

The joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10

These things have I spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. John 15:11

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15

 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. James 5:13

"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.” Matthew 11:29-30

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

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

And above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32 

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you Matthew 5:44

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Romans 12:14

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

Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses. Proverbs 10:12

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:34-35

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord. Leviticus 19:18 

-Michael J. Ruhland 

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Some Cartoons For Saturday Morning #83

 Hello my friends and happy Saturday Morning. Once again it is time for classic cartoons. 

Today's cartoon selection begins with one of Bob Clampett's great color Merrie Melodies, A Corny Concerto (1943). This is an unusual film as it is written by but not directed by Frank Tashlin. Tash had been working at the Disney studio after having been a director at Warner Brothers. After coming back to Warners, he found himself briefly in the writing department before returning to the director's chair (taking over Norm McCabe's unit). Appropriately this movie is a Disney parody. A Corny Concerto is a parody of Fantasia (1940). However while this cartoon certainly has its fun with Fantasia there is definitely more than a little respect for Disney's ambitious feature. This cartoon while not as elaborate as a Disney feature, the look of this cartoon is definitely more elaborate than the average Merrie Melodies short. Even as a fan of Fantasia I have to state that the satire is dead on here. Probably the best bit of satire is Elmer Fudd serving in the Deems Taylor role, as he captures the part visually, but is still Elmer Fudd and hilariously lacking the sophistication of Taylor. This movie also has one of the few times Bugs Bunny and Porky Pig share the screen in the golden age of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies and even though neither speaks, they work off each other very well. 

Next up is an early black and white Silly Symphony, The Cat's Nightmare (1931). You may notice the video below titles the cartoon, The Cat's Out. J.B. Kaufman and Russell Merritt's excellent book on the Silly Symphonies explains this, "Modern sources have sometimes identified this film as The Cat's Out. This was the working title and survives today in an original vault print. However the finished film was copyrighted and released as The Cat's Nightmare." Interestingly this movie played on The Mickey Mouse Club under both names (The Cat's Out on January 23, 1956 and The Cat's Nightmare on February 27, 1956). Whatever the name this is a darn good cartoon. It contains all of the atmosphere that enhances so many of the early Symphonies (especially the ones with a spooky theme). It may not quite be The Skelton Dance (1929), but it is a good film in its own right. Speaking of The Skelton Dance the animation of a rooster crowing (by Wilfred Jackson) is reused from that more famous Symphony. A review in The Film Daily states, "Right up to the high standard of this popular animated cartoon series." The following is a review from the Motion Picture Herald, "A clever piece of cartoon work, typical Silly Symphony number. The theme is as the titles suggests, and the animators have taken full advantage of its laugh making possibilities." However a review in Motion Picture Reviews warns us, "A Halloween spooky atmosphere is so well done that it might frighten a sensitive child."

Motion Picture Herald, 1937

The next cartoon may seem like a run of the mill average Terry-Toon from the late 1930's, but it is actually one of historical importance. It is the last one in which Paul Terry would serve as a director (he co-directed with John Foster). The cartoon is Bugs Beetle and His Orchestra (1938). The following is an exhibitor's review from The Motion Picture Herald, "Bugs Beetle and His Orchestra: Terry-Toons - We would rate this cartoon from Educational as being fair. It is done in the new tint and tone process and, while not real color, we think it is an improvement over the old black and white cartoons. At least the dirt and scratches don't show up so bad. Running time, seven minutes - George W. Pettengill Jr., Cameo Theatre, Mattawamkeag, Me., Rural patronage." 

Let us end today's cartoon selection with A Fractured Fairy Tale. 

-Michael J. Ruhland 

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Short Film Corner: The English Teacher (2020)

Hello my friends and welcome back to Short Film Corner. Many of us film lovers are fans of old shorts, but when it comes to modern films we watch the features and miss most of the short films. However there are many great shorts still being made today. That is what Short Film Corner is for. This is not a place for film history or critical examination. Rather I will just be posting videos of shorts I really like. Today's film is The English Teacher, directed by and starring Blake Ridder. 

-Michael J. Ruhland 

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Movie Review: Artemis Fowl

Michael's Movie Grade: F

It is hard to believe that a high level filmmaker like Kenneth Branagh and as popular a studio as Disney could possibly create and release a film as terrible as Artemis Fowl. This movie could serve as a guideline of how not to make a fantasy film, as everything that can go wrong did. 

This movie fails on every imaginable level. The characters are completely bland and some are even so forgettable you forget about them while you are watching the film, the action scenes are horribly executed  (how this could be the same director that made Thor is beyond my understanding), the CGI is unpleasant to look at, the story is beyond rushed, there is a lot of horribly forced exposition, the narration often tells us what we can clearly see on screen, the humor is cringeworthy and a fantasy world that never feels real. I have never read the books, as I don't read much Young Adult fantasy, but from what I have heard, Artemis is more of an anti-hero in the books and how I wish he was that here. Why? Because that would have given him some sort of personality, which he is completely lacking here. What makes many of the best fantasy movies work is that the characters feel real and believable. This allows us to accept and believe the fantasy because we believe the characters. When we don't believe those characters, than everything feels artificial and there is therefore no reason to visit the world of the movie. I also being one who has never read the books, will assume that the books take more time to tell the story than this film does,  because this movie seems like it is trying to do to much in too little of a time, leaving the film with little time to do any of that properly. The worst thing I can say about this movie, is that I simply can't see one thing to recommend it to anyone for. 

This movie is proof that talented filmmakers are not perfect and sometimes can put out a complete and utter dud that is well below what they are capable of doing. 

Note: This movie so obviously wants a sequel, but will hopefully never get one. 

-Michael J. Ruhland 

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Tales of a Script Girl

When we film buffs talk about movies, there are certain people we discuss. This includes actors, directors, writers, cinematographers and composers. One person we hardly ever discuss is the script person. That is why an article that discusses what it is like to be a script girl immediately caught my eye when going through old movie magazines. To make this article all the more interesting was that it was written by a script girl herself, Jeanne de Korty. Here is that article, dated 1931, from Picture Play Magazine and titled "The Ups and Downs of a Script Girl." 

"'You're fired!' Director George Archainbaud wrathfully eyed his twenty-year-old script clerk Willy. The company had just returned from location at Catalina Island; and the script clerk, who possessed the only copy of the scenario which contained complete notes on action, wardrobe, and other detail on 'The Storm Daughter,' had left these valuable notes at Catalina. 

"The company was in a quandary. A director depends on his script clerk to make notations of action and wardrobe and to assist in matching scenes. Remembering all the little details that go into the making of a picture is a tremendous task, almost impossible without the script clerk's notes, in many instances and Willy had lost all the valuable data which had been recorded during shooting the scenes on location.

"Willy's gait as he left the studio, was confident and carefree. He had been fired and having been in America but a short time; talked with a marked German accent; but his misfortunes could not squelch Willy - he knew what he could do and the opinions of other mattered little to him. 

"Director Archainbaud was not so carefree. Upon his shoulders had fallen the task of recalling from memory all the things which Willy's notes should have informed him. A mistake might cost hundreds of dollars. 

"What an awful situation that kid Willy got the company into! He had no business trying to break into motion pictures. Nobody could play around the day he did and succeed in the business. 

"Not long ago director, William Wyler sat in his chair watching action on 'The Storm' a success was doubly difficult, since it was a great box office hit as a silent picture, and must be an even better talkie, in order to command public attention. 

"Willy had, at the age of 28 become one of the most promising directors of Hollywood. To him had been entrusted the making of a picture that involved a small fortune. His cast included Lupe Velez, William Boyd, and Paul Cavanaugh, whose salaries alone amount to several thousand dollars a week. 

"In studio jargon Willy had become a big shot. Director Archainbaud may be hard on script clerks - we won't discuss that question- but woe to the girl who makes a mistake on a Wyler production. 

"Consider the time when Jeanne, the script girl on 'The Storm,' forgot that in one scene Cavanaugh was smoking a cigarette. Close ups of the shot were made several weeks later, and the heavy had no cigarette in his hand. Retakes of the scene cost the producers somewhere between $1000 and $1,500; and if you don't think Jeanne got the dickens - well just ask her. 

"'The nerve! The very never of any one suggesting that a girl with my brains become an actress!' Carmelita Geraghty, she of the big brown eyes and personality which has delighted thousands of fans was speaking. 'I was a script girl. It takes brains to be a script girl despite popular opinion that all script clerks are a little bit crazy, but all one has to do to be an actress is look pretty - anyway that's what I thought before I tried it.'

"It took a mistake to convince Carmelita that she might be wrong. She was just another script girl to Mickey Neilan who was directing 'Fool's First,' at the old Metropolitan studio. The company had been shooting almost sixteen hours without a rest and Carmelita being a healthy child still in her teens was growing sleepy. 

"The company had moved from an interior to an exterior set. The cameras were grinding, the actors were emoting and Mickey Neilan was engrossed in the scene. Carmelita glanced at her notes. Heavens! There it was along the side of her script - 'Ray Griffith - beard'! While inside the house, the leading man had displayed a luxuriant growth of a bread and now, in the exterior scene, his beard had like a magic cloak in a Grimm fairytale, suddenly melted into thin air!

"'It must have cost at least $1200 to remake that scene,' laughed Carmelita. She can afford to laugh now. To the girl who once worked night and day for $35.00 a week, that modest stipend has become a mere pittance; but at the time the occurrence was so serious that the script girl decided to become an actress at the very first opportunity, because she was a dismal failure as a taker of notes. 

"Dorothy Arzner, at present the only really famous woman director, was one script girl who made a mistake - but then Dorothy is like that. She is perhaps the only director who does not depend upon her script clerks to help her remember details. 

"'I think a script clerk is of my value to the cutter than the director,' says this unusual young woman. 'I never worry about my script girls. I know they are doing their work well; if they weren't, they wouldn't be working for me. I believe it is the director's duty to remember everything that happens on the set. He is responsible for the picture and should not have to trust anyone else for things he should know. I know that if I attend to my business while working on a production everything will be alright. I never worry about the other fellow.'  

 "Miss Arzner directed 'The Wild Party,' with Clara Bow, 'Sarah and Son' and 'Anybody's Woman,' with Ruth Chatterton, and she is next to direct Claudette Colbert. 

"For anyone who wishes to break into any branch, particularly scenario writing script work is extraordinary experience. The script girl works constantly at the side of the director. Her job includes making notations of all the costumes worn the action of each scene and since the advent of talking pictures, to check all dialogue.  

"If a heroine wears a coat in one scene, she must be seen removing the coat, or she must continue to wear the coat for the rest of the sequence. It is the script girls job to see that this is done. 

"Matching scenes is one of the difficult tasks in making a picture. Usually a master scene is made in medium or long shots. When this is completed, the camera is moved to get closeups of the characters. In close ups each actor must go through the same actions or business in the long shots, so the scene can be cut at any point of action, from a long shot to close up or vice versa, and the scene will continue smoothly. 

"If a man is seen in a standing position in a long shot, he cannot suddenly be seated in a closeup, but must be shown in the act of sitting down. If he is seen in one end of the room, he cannot suddenly fly to the other end of the room without taking a step, but must be seen walking across the set. 

"Often mistakes are made by the cutter for which the script clerk is blamed. A man may apparently jump from one end to the other, although a scene showing him walking across has been taken. The script clerk may be blamed for neglect, while in reality it is the cutter who has omitted the scene from the picture. 

"In sound pictures it is as important for dialogue to match as it is for action. Exactly the same words must be spoken in long shots as in closeups, so that the cutter can change from one shot to another in the middle of the word, should he so desire, and the sentence will continue smoothly, without repetition or omission of words. 

"Many cutters have broken into this specialty as script clerks. Other script clerks have become writers, as in the case of Marion Dix, Paramount's twenty-four-year-old writer, who only a short time ago was just a script girl. She made use of every opportunity to talk with scenario writers and directors and, through her constant contact with them, she was finally given an opportunity to prove she could write.   

"Alice White is another former script girl who took advantage of her opportunity to meet and talk with directors - the only script girl to become a star. 

"A visitor walking onto the set may envy the script girl her job as she sits on her chair apparently doing nothing. If the same visitor attempted to keep track of action, dialogue and a hundred other details at the same time, he would realize that the script girl has no easy task. She takes the blame for her own mistakes and those of nearly everybody else on the set - in fact the poor script girl stands plenty of gaff! No wonder they say that all of them are crazy." 

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Cowboy Church #69

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

Stuart Hamblen's story is one of a person whose life God completely changed. He was a country music singer/songwriter, radio host and actor in many cowboy movies (including ones starring Roy Rogers, John Wayne and Gene Autry). Despite his popularity and talent, he unfortunately fell deep into alcoholism. His alcoholism lead to him fighting and destroying property. Because of this he frequently found himself in jail, only for his radio sponsors to bail him out only so he could return to his destructive ways and wind up there again. In 1949 he attended a Billy Graham Crusade and gave his life to the Lord. He gave up his drinking and even got fired from his radio job when he refused to do beer commercials. This was not a set back at all as he soon got into the world of Christian broadcasting with a radio show called Cowboy Church of the Air. Today's musical selection begins with him singing Teach Me Lord to Wait. This is followed by Hank Thompson singing This Train is Bound For Glory on a 1964 episode of The Jimmy Dean Show. Molly Bee, Roy Clark and Jimmy Dean all join him for this song. Following is our good friend the King of the Cowboys himself Roy Rogers singing Peace in the Valley. This song was written by one of the best songwriters in the history of gospel music, Thomas A. Dorsey (who also wrote Precious Lord Take My Hand). This is followed by The Possum himself, George Jones singing Lord You've Been Mighty Good to Me. This great song comes from his 1966 gospel album, Old Brush Arbors. George was on top of the country music world for much of his great career, yet he always made sure scared songs would always continue to play a part in his repertoire. Like many country singers of his era, he grew up with gospel music and these songs stayed with him his whole life. This song has an important message for us. We can too often get caught up in what we don't like about our lives that we fail to realize what God truly has done for us. I know I have done this and I am sure many of you have as well. Next comes one of the best Ride This Train segments from The Johnny Cash Show. This segments feature Johnny taking us on a little trip and through a mixture of spoken word story telling and the singing of related songs. The segment was based off his similarly done 1960 album, Ride This Train. In this version of the segment Johnny takes us on a trip to Israel including some great holy songs. Today's musical selection ends with The Sons of the Pioneers with their reminder to Read the Bible Everyday

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. Deuteronomy 6:4

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17

 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2 Corinthians 4:16-17

Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. Romans 14:1

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33

My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ. Colossians 2:2

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15 

The wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion. Proverbs 28:1

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you." John 5:14

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

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

And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. Mark 11:25

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord. Acts 3:19

And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Acts 2:21

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1

Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city. Proverbs 16:32

But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Colossians 3:8

Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:30-31

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

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