Thursday, June 10, 2021

Movie Review: Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway


Michael's Movie Grade: B

Fast paced and silly family fun and a sequel that tops the original. 

All movie fans have learned when it comes to sequels that bigger does not always in fact equal better. Yet this sequel is both bigger and better. Still it is not the scope that makes this movie better. One thing that makes this film work better though is the role of Peter himself. While I found him likable and entertaining in the first film, I didn't relate to him the way I do here. He is put in a situation that all of us can understand and emphasize with. He has made mistakes in the past and is trying to get away from them, yet the whole world seems to see him as a "bad seed." With this it becomes easy to identify with Peter, because we all have wanted to prove ourselves to be something more than others think we are. McGregor is given a much better role here than he had in the first movie. He is much more interesting, funny and charming as a new father figure, who doesn't quite know how to be one. Here he even provides the film with its most heartfelt moments. What also makes the larger scale work is that the movie knows that it is cliché and both satirizes and embraces the cliché at the same time. These very clever jokes on sequels having to be bigger than the original are often the comedic highlights of the movie and the climatic scene put a big smile on face all the through. Yet the filmmakers manage to do this without ever treating the story like a joke, allowing us to get involved with the emotions of the story while laughing at the silliness of it all at the same time. 

This movie feels like it has to constantly throw jokes at us. Because of this some really funny moments will sit side by side with jokes that fall completely flat. Unfortunately some of the jokes that fall flat become running jokes. Still this doesn't change that the jokes that work are genuinely funny and I found myself laughing quite a bit. But if there is a third film, I hope that very annoying rooster will be left out.   

There is very little in this movie that hasn't been seen before and it is easy to see what will happen next. There are also a few subplots that simply go nowhere and the villain is not very interesting.  

All in all this film provided me with just what I wanted from it, a really fun time at the movies.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

My Pal Trigger (1946)


Maybe it is the horse lover in me, but My Pal Trigger stands as my favorite Roy Rogers movie and with how much I love these films this is saying a lot. I am in good company as Roy himself considered this movie to be his favorite that he made. 

This film tells a fictionalized story about how Roy met his famous horse. Roy is a horse trader who wants to mate his mare with rancher Gabby's (Gabby Hayes (a regular in Roy's movies at this time)) star stallion. Gabby refuses this offer, feeling that Roy's horse is not good enough. When the villainous Brett Scoville (Jack Holt (who would later play a major role in Roy's movie, Trail of Robin Hood (1950))) steals Gabby's horse, the stallion escapes and finds and mates with Roy's mare. Brett tracks the stallion down and accidently kills him. Gabby accuses Roy of this killing and our cowboy hero must go on the lam. The mare gives birth to a colt, who Roy names Trigger. 

This story may be a bit corny and predictable at times but throughout his career, Roy Rogers had a talent for making something that would be corny and predictable in other hands feel sincere and heartfelt (one just needs to listen to the many children songs he recorded). Sincerity is the main reason this movie works so well. Everything is so heartfelt and put together with care that the film simply becomes irresistible. There is more drama here than there is in the average Roy Rogers movie with some scenes that pack a surprising emotional punch. These scenes show that Roy is much better actor than he is often given credit for. Yet this does not mean that the film in any way is lacking in the fast paced action and great country music that all of us want from a Roy Rogers movie. Director Frank McDonald (who directed 3 other Roy Rogers movies in 1946 alone (Song of Arizona, Rainbow Over Texas and Under Nevada Skies (as well as the Gene Autry picture Sioux City Sue of the same year))) keeps the action moving at a brisk fast pace that is simply a joy to watch. Roy Rogers, Dale Evans (who the following year would marry Roy) and the Sons of the Pioneers (one of the greatest country music groups of all time and one that Roy was a founding member of) are all at the top of their game here and remind us just why we love vintage country music so much.

Some musical highlights include the lovely wistful and nostalgic Livin' Western Style (sung by Roy and written by Don Swander and June Hershey (the team that wrote Deep of the Heart of Texas)), the lively western swing number Harriet (sung by Roy and Dale and written by Abel Baer and Paul Cunningham (the team that wrote Piggy Wiggy Woo)) and fast paced and fun Alla En El Rancho Grande (performed by The Sons of the Pioneers, a Spanish langue song written by Silvano Ramos with some English lyrics by Bartley Costello). The last of those songs listed has also been recorded by the likes of Elvis Presley, Dean Martin and Gene Autry. 

Showman's Trade Review, 1947

The following is an article from Showman's Trade Review (dated June 29, 1946). "Republic Pictures has announced an unique, nation-wide contest in connection with the forth coming release of 'My Pal Trigger,' Roy Rogers outdoor film in which $1000 in cash prizes will be donated to the authors of the best names of twin colts sired by Trigger, star movie horse. Birth of the twin colts is an integral part of the film's plot. The contest has been especially designed to enable participating exhibitors to stage local contests, coincident with their showing of the film. While Republic has announced that $1000 in cash will be divided among 18 national winners, selected from the best five entries from each theatre participating. There is nothing in the contest rules to prevent exhibitors rom promoting additional prizes locally for the best five local entries, these to be selected by exhibitors or by a board of local judges of their own choosing. Contest aids have been prepared by Republic, including two-color window cards suitable for lobby display ; contest blanks telling the contest story ; special publicity stories planned for local planting with newspapers, etc. Contest blanks are intended for distribution through schools, stores, clubs, milk companies, etc. All contests aids are to be made available to exhibitors without charge. The press book for 'My Pal Trigger' suggests that exhibitors contact local branches of The Roy Rogers Fan Clun for exploitation plans for the pictures. Entries in the Colt naming contest close December 31, 1946."

The following is a review from Photoplay Magazine. "Like all films of this series, this is a very good Roy Rogers and an excellent Trigger up to all sorts of tricks to insure you a fine western. The picture is tightknit, has genuine sincerity, is filled with well worked suspense. Rogers is accused of killing the great Golden Sovereign; after being bailed out of jail, he clears town in a hurry. In the midst of his wandering his Mare Lady, presents him with a foal, Trigger, the image of Golden Sovereign. From there on in Roy and Trigger fight their way over a rough western road to handshakes for Roy from his old enemy and laurel wreaths for Trigger. Familiar faces grace the struggle - George "Gabby" Hayes, Dale Evans and Bob Nolan and the Sons of the Pioneers. If you're in mind to go west for a couple of hours buy your ticket. The trip will turn out fine. Your Reviewer Says: Roy and Trigger know their monkey business."

Motion Picture Herald, 1944

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Always Remember


June 6th, 1998

Cowboy Church #122

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

Today's musical selection begins with Roy Rogers and Dale Evans singing, Sweet Hour of Prayer. The words of this hymn are believed to have come from William W. Walford, a blind preacher from Warwickshire, England. It is believed that when fellow minister and friend, Thomas Salmon visited him in 1842, he asked Salmon to write down the words of a poem he had written about prayer. When Salmon was in the United States, three years later, he showed the poem to an editor of The New York Observer. It was then printed in an issue dated September 13, 1845. In 1861, William Bradbury would write the music for this hymn. Bradbury had also written the music for such Hymns as Just as I Am, He Leadeth Me and The Solid Rock. This recording of the hymn was the title track of Roy and Dale's 1957 gospel album. Up next is Johnny Cash with Jesus was a Carpenter. This recording is a live performance of the song, John did at the White House on April 17, 1970 (Richard Nixon was president at this time). It would be released as part of the 2011 Bootleg Vol. III: Live Around The World, two CD set. Though Gene Autry was never as vocal about his faith as Roy Rogers was the church played a major role in his musical life. His grandfather, E.W. Autry had been a Baptist preacher and the first time Gene ever sang in public (at the age of five) was at the Missionary Baptist Church, where his grandfather preached. He wasn't the only member of the family to perform music at that church as his mother also played the organ there. With that in mind my next musical choice is When Mother Played the Organ (And Daddy Sang a Hymn). This song was written by Dick Sanford and George McConnell. The recording comes from an episode of Gene's Melody Ranch Radio Show (dated 8/25/46) and Gene is backed by The Cass County Boys, The Kettle Sisters, Johnny Bond and Carl Cotner's Orchestra. This song features a tiny bit of the hymn Beautiful Isle of Somewhere, which Gene sang in the movie, Colorado Sunset (1939). The Cass County Boys would appear in a number of Gene's movies including Valley of Fire (1951), Indian Territory (1950), Wagon Team (1952), Twilight on the Rio Grande (1947) and Robin Hood of Texas (1947). Next comes Elvis Presley with It is No Secret (What God Can Do). This song was written by cowboy singer and actor Stuart Hamblen. Before turning to God, this man's life could hardly be considered Godly. He often drank and fought and this often landed him in jail. When in 1949 Hamblin went to a Billy Graham crusade, he turned his life over to God. The drinking and fighting were put behind him and his whole life changing. One day he was talking about this change to his good friend John Wayne (yes that John Wayne) and that it was no secret what God had done for him. John Wayne said, that he should write a song with those lyrics. This is followed by The Louvin Brothers with The Christian Life. This recording comes from their 1960 album, Satan is Real. Next is Randy Travis with Blessed Assurance. This recording comes from his 2003 gospel album, Worship and Faith. Afterwards comes The Carter Family with their 1934 recording of Working on a Building. Many who write and discuss Bob Dylan tend to overlook and dismiss what is known as his "Christian Period". This took place from 1979 to 1981. At this time he became a born again Christian and was very vocal about it. His albums at this time were full of nothing but Christian songs and at concerts he left out many of his past hits to make them all about his Christian music. This alienated much of the audience that had once embraced him as the voice of a generation and felt that he was no longer speaking for them. As well as alienated they felt Bob was betraying them. Many still feel this way when looking back at this part of his career and some Dylan fans feel it should just be forgotten. Yet one song from this period that actually receives praise from those who dismiss this period is Every Grain of Sand. While this song is just as overtly Christian as any others from this period, it is simply too beautifully written for anyone who appreciates Bob's song writing to resist. This song truly shows how amazing of a song Bob could right just as much as any of his work from the 1960's and its lyrics always speak to me each time I listen. Today's musical selection ends with The Sons of the Pioneers with their 1937 recording of Lord You Made the Cowboy Happy. Whether you are or are not a cowboy, this song should remind you just how many blessing the Lord has given you each day that you don't even think about.

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

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

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3:15

 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21

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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6

Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:4-6

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8

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

God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Numbers 23:19

And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise. Luke 23:43

 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

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

                                                                        Resources Used

Liner notes for the CD Gene Autry: Cowboy Hymns and Songs of Inspiration by Holly George-Warren


Saturday, June 5, 2021

Video: June on TCM

Some Cartoons For Saturday Morning #126

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

Today's cartoon selection starts off with a black and white Porky Pig short, Who's Who in the Zoo (1942). Actually to call this a Porky Pig short is a bit of a stretch. Like many Looney Tunes of this era, Porky plays a minor role that is little more than a glorified cameo. This film also has no real story. It is instead a spot gag cartoon of the type Tex Avery was directing a few years earlier. The gags are really excuses to see how many corny puns writer Melvin "Tubby" Miller can fit in. While not every joke works the ones that do are really darn funny. This movie was directed by Norm McCabe and is quite possibly the first time he directed a full cartoon. While Norm McCabe may not be as talked about by cartoon fans as other Warner Brothers directors, he was a solid director who made a lot of really good cartoons. He would return to the Looney Tunes universe well after the golden age as a timing director on such TV shows as Tiny Tunes Adventures, Taz-Mania and The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries. The following an exhibitor review from the Motion Picture Herald, "WHO'S WHO IN THE ZOO: Looney Tunes Cartoons—If another cartoon is produced trying to create funny expressions by various animals, we certainly will not use it. This had only one laugh and that seemed strained. - Horn and Morgan Inc., Star Theatre, Hay Springs, Neb. Small Town Patronage."

Up next is an especially good Pink Panther cartoon, The Hand is Pinker Than the Eye (1967). This short was directed Hawley Pratt, who had been Friz Freleng's (producer of the Pink Panther shorts) layout artist when he was a director at Warner Brothers. 

Before they brought us Mighty Mouse and Heckle and Jeckle, the Terry-Toons studio brought us a cast of characters that are pretty much forgotten today. One of these characters is Kiko the Kangroo. Kiko was a mostly pantomime character, who really didn't have much in the way of personality. Yet his cartoons are still quite charming and fun. Some advertisements at the time, advertised Terry-Toons with Kiko featured very prominently, perhaps hoping for him to become the studios big name cartoon character. This morning's cartoon selection continues with his first starring cartoon, Kiko and the Honey Bears (1936), though Kiko made his first appearance earlier the same year with the Farmer Alfalfa cartoon, Farmer Alfalfa's Surprise Package (1936). The following is a review from The Film Daily. "Introducing the new cartoon character, Kiko the Kangaroo. He proves to be a very amusing, lovable and diverting character and will no doubt please the kids to no end. He has plenty of snap in his movements, making tremendous leaps across the screen. In this one he hires out as a nurse to three little bears, and saves them from a hunter who comes upon them in the forest with his three hounds. Kiko looks like a real contribution to the cartoon division for the funny gent has plenty of personality." 

Motion Picture Herald, 1936

Ferdinand the Bull (1938) began production as a Silly Symphony short but in the end the Disney studio released it as a Special. Unlike many Disney cartoons of the time which were either original stories or based off stories that dated quite a ways back, this film was based off a contemporary story. The book had been published in 1936 and though there was controversy for its pacifist themes, it became a real best seller, even outselling Gone With the Wind. Walt bought the rights to the book in October, 1937. Albert Hay Malotte, who wrote the score for this movie, would co-write a song called Fernand the Bull with Larry Morey. Though this song does not appear in the film it was used to promote the cartoon. The matador seen in this cartoon is a caricature of Walt Disney himself. The scene in which the matador enters was animated by Ward Kimball, who included himself as the little man carrying the sword. Animation for this cartoon would be reused by Disney in a wartime training film, Stop the Tank (1942), the Goofy cartoon, For Whom the Bulls Toil (1953) and the feature length, Fun and Fancy Free (1947). The following is an article in Boxoffice Magazine (Dated January 7th, 1939). "Sioux Falls, S.D. Manager Joe Floyd of the Granada covered nearly all the angles for the RKO-Disney short, 'Ferdinand the Bull' the subject rated a holdover. A 14 foot cutout of Ferdinand, was used in the lobby illuminated by two Klieg lights. Another large cutout was anchored a sound truck which blasted announcements and played the show's records. Four illuminated billboards were used with two thirds of the space given over to the Disney picture. Window displays were especially made by Floyd and there were 12 in select locations. A feature of the advertising was a teaser campaign: newspaper space was in editorial columns were large throughout the run. There were extra announcements on the radio and records of 'Ferdinand the Bull' were broadcast several times through station KELO, which reaches about 150,000 persons." 

Motion Picture Daily, 1939

Next is a highly enjoyable post golden age Looney Tunes short, Box Office Bunny (1990). 

Though many today only know Felix the Cat from his 1958-1960 TV show, the famous feline started his career in silent movies. In Felix in Hollywood (1923), Felix meets his fellow silent movie star including Charlie Chaplin, who Otto Messmer and Pat Sullivan (two of the main contributors to Felix's silent cartoons) made a cartoon series starring. Felix was the most popular cartoon star of the silent era and watching a film like this it is beyond easy to see why. This cartoon received spot #50 in Jerry Beck's book, The 50 Greatest Cartoons

Today's cartoon selection ends with a real treat, some bumpers from The Yogi Bear Show.

Resources Used

Of Mice and Magic: A History of the American Animated Cartoon by Leonard Maltin

Silly Symphonies: A Companion Guide to the Classic Cartoon Series by Russell Merritt and J.B. Kaufman

The 50 Greatest Cartoons Edited by Jerry Beck

Friday, June 4, 2021

Seeing "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (1981) on the Big Screen


One thing I love that theaters have done since reopening is that they have taken more time to show movies from the past that many have not seen on the big screen but still love. While this is probably done either to get more people back to the theaters or to account for the fact that there aren't as many new movies out right now as there usually are around this time. Regardless of the reasons, it is so much fun to visit these movies that have earned their way into our hearts and become a part of our lives on the way they were meant to be seen. This afternoon I saw the debut of Indiana Jones, Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) on the big screen and what a pure joy that was 

This movie achieved near perfection for action movie filmmaking and has justifiably became the bar that so many action filmmakers try to reach. Watching the opening scenes on a big screen make it so clear why this is. No matter how many movies have tried to copy what these opening scenes did, very few can give you the pure excitement and fun as that Raiders does. To see this on the big screen has made something I have loved for so long on the small screen feel completely fresh and new. 

I was also very happy to see that the audience was mostly made up of parent and their kids, as you can see a great movie being passed from generation to generation the way it is supposed to be. While this is a brief post, I just wanted to quickly thank AMC for these great opportunities they have been providing and share some love for a great movie that I love.   

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Movie Review: Spirit Untamed


Michael's Movie Grade: C+

While nowhere near as good as the first Spirit movie, this film is still quite charming and fun.

What makes this movie work is that it is pure wish fulfillment for both kids and horse lovers. I know that have often dreamed about simply taking off a horse for a huge adventure into dangerous place, yet unknown to me. Taming a wild horse and having him love me like one of his own herd (something that will be amplified for kids with the grown-ups not being able to do the same), just increases the wish fulfillment as does proving everyone who doesn't believe in you wrong. While this wish fulfillment will definitely speak to kids, it will also speak to those of us who remember what it was like to be a kid and the fantasies we had. This film is also is helped by a very likable and relatable lead character. While this movie is less than an hour and a half and is not slow moving by any means, it still gives us the time and all we need to connect with this character and see ourselves in her boots. Also while I do miss the beautiful hand drawn animation of the first Spirit movie, the horse animation is pretty darn good here. It may be exaggerated for cartoon-like effect but there is no doubt the animators studied and learned how horses interact with humans and there are some nice little acting touches that horse lovers (like myself) will notice. It is also nice to see such an pretentious movie tell a simple story simple. In a time with so many "big" movies, it is nice and charming to see a small one sometimes.

This movie certainly does have its share of faults though. Though our main character is very easy for us to relate to, much of the supporting characters are rather bland and one note. This is especially true of the villains, who are not only boring but never even as threatening as they should be. While this movie is full of jokes most of them fall flat and the very few that work raise only a smile. This film also has a story that is very familiar at times and it is hard not see where it is going at any time. 

This is definitely rather minor compared to the best of DreamWorks' animated out put, but there is a sweet and simple charm that works despite the faults.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Silent Film of the Month: The Rounders (1914)


Runtime: 13 minutes. Studio: Keystone. Director: Charlie Chaplin. Main Cast: Charlie Chaplin, Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, Phyllis Allen, Minta Durfee. Cinematographer: Frank D. Williams. 

Charlie Chaplin and Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle are two of the greats of movie comedy, and it is no surprise that the two paired together they make a really comedy team. While the two were in six other films together (A Film Johnnie (1914), Tango Tangles (1914), His Favorite Pastime (1914), The Knockout (1914),  The Masquerader (1914), His New Profession (1914)), they duo only worked as a true team in one short film, The Rounders, and what a delightful movie it is. The two comedians have incredible chemistry together and it looks like they are having a ball working with one another. In The Chaplin Encyclopedia, Glen Mitchell states, "In  The Rounders, the two comedians complement each other perfectly, even to the point where it is Arbuckle rather than Chaplin who uses a cane to steal a handbag." Roscoe would later say,  "I have always regretted having not been his partner in a longer film than these one reelers we made so rapidly. He is a complete comic genius, undoubtedly the only one of our time and he will be the only one who will still be talked about a century from now."

Like many of the best shorts from the Keystone Studio, this film has a very basic storyline that is simply an excuse for gags. Our heroes (Charlie Chaplin, Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle) come home drunk and after fights with their wives (Minta Durfee, Phyllis Allen), decide to sneak out and have a night on the town. The story and the gags look forward to the Chaplin short  A Night Out (1915) and the scenes with the tramp and the drunk in Charlie's feature-length City Lights (1931). 

Like many Keystone shorts of this time period, this film is full of rough and tumble slapstick. A review in Moving Picture World says it best,  ROUNDERS (Keystone), September 7.—A picture of a "glorious" drunk and of two wives who try to mend matters. There is plenty of funny action and, though it is of the kind that one can't help laughing at, one is. nevertheless, not flattered by it. It's a rough picture for rough people, that people, whether rough or gentle, will probably have to laugh over when it is on screen." I can not argue with this. There is nothing subtle or sophisticated about this movie and those who except the more polished films that the two main comedians would turn yet later will be in for a surprise. Yet there is something about the unpretentiousness and unapologetically slapstick feeling to this film that I can not resist and can not help but put a smile on my face. Much of the humor holds up very well and I have to admit I laughed quite a few times watching this.  

Moving Picture World, 1914

Picture Play, 1917

Charlie's role as a drunk here was a normal role for this time. Comic drunkenness had been a major part of Charlie's act before he entered the movies. When on stage as part of the Fred Karno Troupe, he played a drunk in the comedy sketch Mumming Birds (which Charlie would later make into the short film, A Night in the Show (1915)). Comic drunkenness would remain a major part of Charlie's act through his time at Keystone and then at Essanay (directly after). However his two best known drunk roles would come later with the short film One Am (1916) and certain scenes of the feature length City Lights (1931). He would approach alcoholism in a more serious matter in the feature length Limelight (1952). In real life, Charlie was not much of a drinker, something common with many of the great movie drunks. Though today Charlie Chaplin is not known as much for his drunk act as he was in the 1910's, watching films like this today make it clear that he is one of the greatest comic drunks to ever grace the movie screen.

Stars of the Photoplay, 1924

As well as the two great starring comedians, this film also sports a fine supporting cast. Roscoe's wife is played by Minta Durfee, who was in fact his first wife in real life. Charlie's wife is played by Phyllis Allen. She appeared in many Keystones around this time supporting both Roscoe and Charlie. Her work at Keystone also included multiple films with Charlie's half-brother Syd Chaplin and Mack Swain (who is best known today for his role in the Chaplin feature, The Gold Rush (1925)). She would later work with Charlie in the short, Pay Day (1922). In a brief role as a bellboy is Al St. John. Al was Roscoe's nephew and was a talented trick bicycle rider. His parents did not wish for Al to get into the movies, but Minta Durfee arranged for Keystone founder and producer, Mack Sennett to see Al's bicycle riding which got him a movie contract. He would continue working with his uncle in the short films Roscoe made after leaving the Keystone Studio. In the sound era, Al often played sidekicks in westerns under the name Fuzzy St. John. In westerns, he would appear with such B-Western stars as Bob Steele. Fred Scott and Buster Crabbe. His character would even be the title character of the Buster Crabbe western, Fuzzy Settles Down (1944). In a tiny appearance as one of the people dinning is future comedy star, Charley Chase, who would go on to star in a hilarious series of short comedies.  Another dinner (the one who our two heroes annoy) is Fritz Schade, who appeared in quite a few of the Chaplin Keystones. Glenn Mitchell states in his A-Z of Silent Film Comedy, "In recent times, opinions have started to differ concerning Schade's credits; there are claims that the roles ascribed to Schade are in fact variously the work of two actors, the other as of yet unidentified." He spent four years four years at Keystone, starting in 1913, and during that time had sometimes been referred to as "Keystone Fritz." He had even played the chief of the Keystone Cops in the short, For Better- But Worse (1915). His career ended when a leg injury caused him to retire. He died at only 46 years old, when under going brain surgery on June 17, 1926. 

Variety, 1917

(Warning the Following Paragraph Contians Spoilers) The ending of this film features our two heroes sinking into the sea in a boat. It has been said that this came about because Charlie had an aversion to water and Roscoe wanted to play a practical joke on him. The story goes that Roscoe removed the bung without his friend excepting it. 

This film can be found on YouTube. 

Resources Used

The Chaplin Encyclopedia by Glenn Mitchell. 

A-Z of Silent Film Comedy
 by Glen Mitchell

Chase! A Tribute to the Keystone Cops
 Complied and Edited by Lon and Debra Davis.


Sunday, May 30, 2021

Cowboy Church #121

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

Today's musical selection begins with The Sons of the Pioneers with their 1937 recording of Power in the Blood. This hymn was written by Lewis Edgar Jones in 1899 while he was attending a camp meeting at Mountain Lake Park, MD. Though he wrote nearly 200 hymns, this song remains his best known. Other hymns by Lewis Edgar Jones include, I've Anchored in Jesus and We Shall See the King Some Day. In this recording the lead vocal is done by Leonard Slye, who would later change his name to Roy Rogers. The bass vocal is done by Hugh Farr. Next is George Jones singing Family Bible. This song was written by Willie Nelson, when he was an aspiring songwriter hoping to make it in the country music industry. Yet when this song was first recorded Willie did not receive any credit for writing it. The credit instead went to Claude Gray, Walter Breeland, Paul Buskirk. Paul Buskirk was a guitar instructor and when he and Willie were having dinner together Willie could not pay for the check. Willie then sold this song to Buskirk for the check plus $50. Buskirk would give the song to singer Claude Gray. Claude would have the first major hit of this song in 1960. George Jones recorded the song later the same year and also had a hit off of it. Willie himself would not record it until his 1971 album, Yesterday's Wine. Speaking of Claude Gray, here he is with another song he recorded in 1960, Home Coming in Heaven. Though many music critics and Dylan fans either look down on or just overlook, Bob Dylan's Christian period, I think Bob's work of this period is simply fantastic. Bob made three Christian music albums that caught the music world by complete surprise from 1979 to 1981. These albums (Slow Train Coming, Saved and Shot of Love) received incredible criticism from his peers, who could not understand Bob's sudden change into a Christian. Long time fans became upset when at concerts Bob would only perform Christian songs, leaving out many of his biggest hits from the past. Keith Richards may have referred to this period as a cash grab, but to me it seems like personally alienating your audience and creating Christian rock music before Christian rock music became a thing is an incredible risk and not something you would do to make a quick buck. Yet I admit that his Christian albums truly touch and move me whenever I listen to them. For this Cowboy Church post I have picked Bob's 1980 live performance of Pressing On from his second Christian album, Saved (released the same year as this performance). Next comes Johnny Cash with He'll Be A Friend. The song was written by John himself and comes from his 1959 gospel album, Hymns By Johnny Cash. This was John's second album for Columbia records.  John would state that his main reason for leaving Sun Records and moving to Columbia is because producer Sam Phillips would not allow him to record a gospel album. This was especially important to John because he never set out to be a country singer or a rock and roll singer, but a gospel singer. Therefore it should come as no surprise that as soon as he left Sun he would set out to make a gospel record. Hymns By Johnny Cash became his first of many gospel albums and proved to be a success with his fans. Out of all of the recordings done of Carl Boberg's classic hymn, How Great Thou Art, Elvis Presley's 1972 live version is by far my favorite. Next is Ray Price with Now the Day is Over from his 1960 album, Faith. This is followed by Roy Rogers and Dale Evans with Jesus in the Morning. This song comes from their 1973 gospel album, In the Sweet Bye and Bye. Then comes The Charlie Daniels Band with an original song from their 1997 Christian album, Whose Side Are You On. Today's musical selection ends with Gene Autry and Dinah Shore singing Old Rugged Cross. The song itself dates back to 1913 and was written by evangelist, George Bennard. Actually the first verse was written in 1912. It was written while Bennard was a part of a series of revival meetings in Albion, Michigan. He was worried about the complete disregard for the gospel around him and wrote this verse as a repose. Of writing it Bennard said, "I seemed to have a vision ... I saw the Christ and the cross inseparable." The song wouldn't be completed for several months, when he was leading meetings at a local church in Pokagan, Michigan. He played it for Rev. Leroy (the sponsoring pastor) and his wife, Ruby Bostwick, both of whom found themselves moved to tears. It was then incorporated into a service at that church on June 7, 1913.

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

Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Acts 16:30-33

The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God. Leviticus 19:34

Salvation belongs to the Lord; your blessing be on your people! Selah Psalm 3:8

Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. Romans 10:9-10

Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. Isaiah 55:7

No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” Jerimiah 31:34 

Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy. Proverbs 28:13

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. Romans 13:8

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

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Romans 12:10

But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Luke 6:35

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. Colossians 2:8

 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 1 Corinthians 15:22

 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people. Proverbs 14:34

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

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Some Cartoons For Saturday Morning #125

 Hello my friends and happy Saturday Morning, once again it is time for some classic cartoons. 

In the 1930's the Fleischer Studio's Popeye cartoon had reached an incredible level of popularity even rivaling that of Mickey Mouse. These simple black and white seven minute cartoons captured the hearts of moviegoers just as much as any feature film. Because of this both Paramount encouraged the cartoon studio to create something bigger with Popeye. The result was a series of three two-reel full color cartoons starring the cartoon sailor. These films were over twice the length of an average Popeye cartoon and they felt bigger in every way possible. My personal favorite of the three is the second, Popeye the Sailor Meets Ali Baba and His Forty Thieves (1937). This one has the same larger than usual and visual gorgeous look as the others, but in my opinion the humor in this short is probably the funniest. The cartoon was later edited down to a seven minute short with some new animation featuring Popeye and his nephews for a cheater cartoon, Popeye Makes a Movie (1950). The following are some exhibitor reviews from the Motion Picture Herald, "Popeye the Sailor Meets Ali Baba and His Forty Thieves (Color Special): Popeye the Sailor - A two reel cartoon that means nothing more at the box office than a single. Does not compare with 'Sinbad the Sailor' in entertainment. Running time, 17 minutes. A. Goldson, Gold Coast Theatre, Chicago, Ill. Neighborhood Patronage." "Popeye the Sailor Meets Ali Baba and His Forty Thieves: Popeye the Sailor - Not nearly as funny as it ought to have been. Still most everyone enjoyed it. Popeye needs a change of diet anyway. One tires of too much spinach. - L. A. Irwin, Palace Theatre, Penacook, N.H. General Patronage." "Popeye the Sailor Meets Ali Baba and His Forty Thieves: Popeye the Sailor - Ran it to bolster 'Rosalie' and really believe it drove in a few. Play it. They'll enjoy it. Running time, 20 minutes. - A.E. Eliassen, Rialto Theatre, Paynesville, Minn., Small Town and Rural Patronage." "Popeye the Sailor Meets Ali Baba and His Forty Thieves: Popeye the Sailor - Played this with 'College Holiday.' We put this in as a double attraction and which met with a great success. Played the Easter Sunday with very good business. Had a large matinee. Popeye sure pleases the children. -Edelstein Amusement Company, Homer Theatre, Hibbing, Minn. General Patronage." "Popeye the Sailor Meets Ali Baba and His Forty Thieves: Color Special - This is an extra price cartoon of two reels, which was just one reel too long. They can't sustain an audience's attention for the extra length and it got boresome before it was halfway through. Don't buy it. Kids will like it of course but you don't pay off with them. - A.E. Hancock, Columbia Theatre, Columbia City, Ind. General Patronage."

Next comes an especially good Pink Panther cartoon, Pink of the Litter (1967). In this film like in many others, Pink's co-star is the little man. It has often been said that this little man was a take-off on producer Friz Freleng. 

The famous cat an mouse duo were not the first cartoon characters to be named Tom and Jerry. During the 1930's the Van Beuren cartoon studio made a series of shorts starring a human duo with the same name. While these shorts would never reach the same fame as the latter cat and mouse cartoons, they are often very entertaining in their own right. The duo began with the idea from director John Foster to create a Mutt and Jeff like cat and dog duo. When New York artists George Stallings and George Rufle joined the studio they thought to take this idea but turn the characters into humans. To not be confused with a more famous cartoon duo in the 1950's Tom and Jerry were renamed Dick and Larry when they aired on TV. Next is one of my favorite cartoons starring this duo, Barnyard Bunk (1932). Gene Rodemich's musical score is especially excellent in this short.

Next comes a delightful modernized version of the Cinderella tale from the Terry Toons studio. Appropriately it is titled, Cinderella (1933). 

Now it is time to sing along, I am sure you know all the words. 

Though Chuck Jones would be one of the main contributors into Daffy Duck changing from his early wild, unhinged and well Daffy personality into the later self absorbed and greedy duck, Chuck's earliest cartoons with Daffy featured the duck as completely crazy. In my opinion one of the best of these films is To Duck or Not To Duck (1943). This is a wild and crazy and very funny cartoon that is instantly quotable. This short has fallen in the public domain and therefore those who collect VHS and DVDs of classic cartoons will instantly recognize it. A review in The Film Daily stated, "Leon Schlesinger has turned out another ace Technicolor cartoon featuring the characters of Daffy Duck and the Goofy hunter."

Up next is another Chuck Jones directed cartoon, Prest-o Change-o (1939). This film features an early prototype for Bugs Bunny, as well as a pair of short lived Chuck Jones characters, know as Two Curious Dogs. These dogs didn't really have much personality despite being curious but they worked perfectly for Chuck's early love of pure pantomime cartoons. Many of Chuck's films around this time featured minimal dialogue and lots of visual acting. Pantomime is of course something that would play an important role later when Chuck did his Coyote and Roadrunner cartoons. 


Today's cartoon selection concludes with one of Walt Disney's great Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoons, The Ocean Hop (1927). Like the early Mickey Mouse cartoon, Plane Crazy (1928), in this film Oswald takes to the skies in his self-made plane. Here though Oswald is in a race against a variety of competitors including an early version of the later Mickey Mouse nemesis Peg Leg Pete. When it comes to the early Disney cartoons, the animator most cartoon buffs think of is Ub Iwerks. However Iwerks animates surprisingly little footage in this movie.  Still what he does animate shows his skill to its finest level. For instance there is an incredible scene (animated by Iwerks) in which Oswald's "plane" is spinning wildly out of control and rotating around the sky. Rollin "Ham" Hamilton's animation looks crude in comparison with other Disney animators, but there is some great acting in his scenes that come across perfectly. This is something that is well seen when Oswald tells a couple of mice to blow up a balloon. Hugh Harman animates the majority of action in this cartoon including a great scene in which Pete uses a stick of gum to prevent Oswald from winning. There is unfortunately a missing scene from this film. That scene involves the dog falling into a taxi's engine and coming out as a series of sausages. While that joke sounds mean spirited today, it was a common joke during this time period and Walt Disney himself had previously used a similar gag in the Alice Comedy, Alice’s Mysterious Mystery (1926). These Oswald cartoons were later released in the 1930's with new soundtracks and unfortunately scenes shuffled around and left out.

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

Resources Used

Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons by Leonard Maltin.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Movie Review: Cruella


Michael's Movie Grade: B

A stylish and fun (if surprisingly dark) take on the classic Disney villain.

When I first saw the preview for this movie, I had one question on my mind. How will Disney manage to make a movie where the protagonist is an evil character who was often referred to as a "devil woman?" The answer is a simple one, give the film a villain who is even more evil than Cruella. It works fantastically. Cruella herself may be cruel (as the name implies) but just like her animated counter part, she is a joy to watch. Much of this is due to an excellent performance by Emma Stone, who seems to be having the time of her life playing this role. Her energy is infectious and I found myself often fully giving in to this energy and the sense of fun. This is only heightened by the scenes she shares with the film's real villain. Much of this is due to how much pure chemistry Emma Stone and Emma Thompson have with each other and what a joy it is to watch these characters' battle of wits and egos. This movie is also a pure wonder to look at. Everything that appears on screen is as stylish and over the top as our main character and the look of the film draws us further into the mad world of these characters. Special shout outs must go to costume designer, Jenny Beavan and set designer, Alice Felton for going above and beyond in giving this film its incredible look. Plus I must praise director Craig Gillespie, for not being afraid to go a little over the top with the look of this movie, as it couldn't have worked as well any other way. The film is also helped by an excellent soundtrack. Music and song choices play an important role in this movie and every major scene is accentuated with a song. These songs are mostly rock songs from the 1960's and 70's and they not only perfectly fit the onscreen action but enhance it as well.

This movie also seems to be much more interested in an adult audience than a kids one. This is heightened by a number of surprisingly dark scenes that make one forget they are watching a Disney film. There were times when I excepted the movie to go even darker, but then remembered this is after all Disney. I was surprised at first to see that this movie was rated PG-13, but after watching it I can't help but feel it is earned. Yet the movie never becomes too dark to lose its sense of over the top fun, in fact the darkness adds to fun. 

On the downside while this movie is certainly in many ways darker than most Disney films, there are quite a few little winking references to the animated movie. These are too cute and obvious to fit the rest of the film's tone. Because of this they take you completely out of the movie. The film also features too much obvious on the nose dialogue that again takes you out of the movie. Cruella is also a bit overlong and could definitely have used a short run time. There are a few scenes that seem to drag a bit, as well as some that feel like complete padding. 

This movie is like Cruella herself, wild, crazy and a lot of fun.   

Movie Review: Final Account


Michael's Movie Grade: A

An important, startling and powerful documentary that will leave a huge effect on all those who watch it. 

Two questions that come to the mind of anyone who has ever read a history book is how the horrors of Nazi Germany could have ever took place and how the German people could allow it. While these questions can never have the full answers they deserve this movie gives incredible insight. In this the last film for documentary filmmaker Luke Holland, Holland speaks with the last surviving generation of those who lived in Nazi Germany. While many of us would like to think of all those who either subscribed to Nazi ideology or did not stand up to it as something inhuman, this documentary shows us something much more terrifying. What we see here is people who are just as human as anyone we might meet on the street. Some were products of a society that raised, molded and brainwashed them into believing whatever they were told to believe in. Others knew the horrors going on, but felt powerless and helpless to stand up to them, or feared for their lives if they dare say something against the party. Multiple of the people interviewed said that everyone knew of the horrors but no one said anything not in secret. Many of us like to think that if we were there we have done something but watching this movie makes us question whether we really would have or if we would have been just like the people depicted here. The fact that we will never know the answer to what we'd do is absolutely terrifying. This question is what makes this film feel much more personal and moving than so many other World War 2 documentaries.

It is also fascinating to see how differently the interviewees react to their past. Some are very regretful and are horrified by the part they played in this great evil, while others are still in complete denial. 

This movie being the last effort from director Luke Holland, it is also a very personal one. Holland was the son of a Jewish refugee from Vienna and had ancestors who were murdered by Nazi Germany. These interviews and research for this movie were made over the last decade as he felt this was a story that needed to be told. The result is a powerful movie that left me extremely affected by what I just saw and with a lot on my mind.  

Thursday, May 27, 2021

The Sacrifice (Offret) (1986)


There are few filmmakers as completely daring as Andrei Tarkovsky. Tarkovsky's cinema is one that makes no accommodations for your average audience. His film's are intentionally slow moving, ponderous and demand a lot of the viewer. To watch his movies you have to give yourself completely to the screen and if you fail to do so then they will have little to offer you. They can not be background noise or something you mindlessly have on the TV. Yet when you give a Tarkovsky film all that it requires of you, then you will find yourself very moved and affected in a way few other filmmakers can make you feel. 

Those of you familiar with the films have Ingmar Bergman, may find that this movie can quite often feel like a Bergman's cinema. This is hardly a coincidence. The movie is produced by the Swedish Film Institute (the only Swedish film from this Russian filmmaker), was shot in the island of Faro (where Bergman shot many of his movies), was shot by Bergman's regular cinematographer, Sven Nykvist, and stars Erland Josephson (who was in such Bergman movies as The Magician (1958), Hour of the Wolf (1968), The Passion of Anna (1969), Cries & Whispers (1972), Scenes from a Marriage (1974) and Autumn Sonata (1978)). However while the Bergman connections are unmistakable, this movie never feels like an imitation of Bergman, but instead like a passionate and personal movie for Tarkovsky. Knowing that the director was dying of cancer while making this film makes it feel even more personal.  

A plot summary of this film would be pointless. While this is a clearly a narrative film, the story itself is purposely vague and there are long spaces between the major plot points where not much happens. However it is these moments that stay with us. One of my favorite moments is a long scene in which our main character talks for a long period about philosophy to his young son. Both we and him know that he is really talking to himself and this becomes even clearer when the son leaves and he doesn't even notice but keeps on talking. He even notes that he is tired of people simply talking endlessly and not doing anything but this does not stop him from doing just that. This scene is told in one long shot held for what can feel like an incredibly long time. This is something that no Hollywood filmmaker would ever dare to do and something that could never be seen in a mainstream movie. Yet under the direction of Tarkovsky it becomes something beautiful and powerful. 

One thing that even those who hate Tarkovsky's cinema will admit is that his movies are visually beautiful. Add to this that he is working with one of the world's greatest cinematographers and you know you have a beautiful looking movie. Many images from this movie will stay with you and haunt your mind long after the film is over. The climatic scene is as visually perfect a moment as a filmmaker could ever capture.

This is simply an incredible work of art. 

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Cowboy Church #120

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

Today's musical selection begins with Roy Rogers, Dale Evans and the Sons of the Pioneers with a lovely version of The Place Where I Worship. Up next is Johnny Cash with The Fourth Man in the Fire. This song is based off of a story from the book of Daniel. Though this story takes place during old testament times many (including myself) believe the fourth man to be Jesus. While most of us will not be thrown in a fiery furnace, this song reminds us that there is no place that through every hardship in life, Jesus is always walking with us and watching out for us. In the liner notes for the Unearthed box set, Rick Ruben remembered this song being recorded, "I can't tell you much about the song except that again it was one that he liked , but I can tell you why it sounds like he's getting frustrated. We were working in my living room and we didn't have any editing equipment or engineering person - I'm not an engineer - we were just rolling the tape and everything was live. If you're in the studio and you're doing a song with a long spoken intro, and you got the intro right but there's something wrong with the song, you wouldn't have to do the intro over and over every time you redid the song. We didn't have that kind of editing capacity at my house, which is why when Johnny says 'Are you going to keep the intro from the last take? It was good' and I say 'We can't do that,' you can hear the frustration in his voice." Next comes Gene Autry with his 1949 recording of Bible on the Table. In this song Gene sings "People say that I'm a bit old fashioned." This is something still being said about many Christians today. However loving and trusting in God is something that will never be old fashioned. This is because the Bible is just as true today as the day the words were written and God cares just as much about us today, as he did any other generation and he wants to be just as much a part of our lives as he ever did before. God is the same yesterday, today and forever and we should never be ashamed of being Christians but instead we should feel blessed that our God wants to be a part of our lives. Recently I was re-listening to southern Christian rock band, Third Day's 1995 debut album. While I loved the whole album, Love Song especially stood out to me as I listened to the lyrics. The message of this song is simple, Jesus loves us so much that he bared the cross just for us. Yet the simplicity of this message is extremely beautiful and touching. We too often forget just how much Jesus loves us but this song reminds us how great and loving our lord truly is. This is followed by Kris Kristofferson with They Killed Him. Written by Kris himself, this song is tribute to three of his heroes, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesus Christ. Next is Tennessee Ernie Ford with I Love to Tell the Story. The origins of this hymn began with Arabella Katherine Hankey. At the age of 30 she was recovering from a long illness and during that time wrote a poem about Jesus. This poem was separated into two parts. The first was called The Story Wanted and the second was called The Story Told (both were published in 1886). The lyrics for this hymn came from the second part. Arabella was also a composer and wrote her own music for these words, but the tune she wrote is not the one we use today.  William G. Fisher wrote the music we know today as well as the words for the refrain. When Fisher's version of the hymn was published in 1875's  Gospel Hymns and Sacred Songs, the hymn reached a new level of popularity. This version comes from Cousin Ernie's 1960 album Sing a Hymn with me. Now for the Queen of Rockabilly, Wanda Jackson with Jesus Loves Cowgirls from her 1984 gospel album, My Kind of Gospel. Afterwards is Red Foley with his 1949 recording of Just a Closer Walk With Thee. Today's musical selection ends with The Purple Hulls with singing What a Friend We Have in Jesus. This recording comes from their 2012 album, Closer to Home

Psalm 27
1 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?

2 When the wicked advance against me
    to devour[a] me,
it is my enemies and my foes
    who will stumble and fall.
3 Though an army besiege me,
    my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
    even then I will be confident.

4 One thing I ask from the Lord,
    this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
    and to seek him in his temple.
5 For in the day of trouble
    he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
    and set me high upon a rock.

6 Then my head will be exalted
    above the enemies who surround me;
at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy;
    I will sing and make music to the Lord.

7 Hear my voice when I call, Lord;
    be merciful to me and answer me.
8 My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
    Your face, Lord, I will seek.
9 Do not hide your face from me,
    do not turn your servant away in anger;
    you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
    God my Savior.
10 Though my father and mother forsake me,
    the Lord will receive me.
11 Teach me your way, Lord;
    lead me in a straight path
    because of my oppressors.
12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
    for false witnesses rise up against me,
    spouting malicious accusations.

13 I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord.

The righteous hate what is false, but the wicked make themselves a stench and bring shame on themselves. Proverbs 13:5

They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Acts 16:31

He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time. 2 Timothy 1:9

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

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:8-9

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. Romans 1:16

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18

Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. James 1:21

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:18

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. Isaiah 11:6

 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

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

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

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Movie Review: Dream Horse


Michael's Movie Grade: B+

An excellent feel good movie. 

The main job of a feel good movie is obviously to make the viewer feel good and judged by this standard the film does a darn good job. Much of this is due to our main character. Thanks both to the script and Toni Collette's performance, the character is instantly likable. This is true even at the start of the film when she is bored of life. The transformation between her earlier bored self and her latter passionate about life self is incredibly well done. It does not happen instantaneously. Instead we see her gradually come further out of her shell as she becomes more and more attached to the horse. The first time we see a big smile on her face, we are overcome with joy because the movie has fully earned even this seemingly small moment. Of course it has long been said that you can't have happiness without sadness. This movie knows and understands that saying. Along with the moments of great joy, we also have moments that are not so joyful. In the end we connect with these characters more because we have felt both joy and sadness with them. However this of course does not mean the filmmakers ever forget what kind of movie this is and I definitely had a big smile on my face through much of this film.  

The humor in this movie can be a bit hit or miss. There are moments were it is very funny and other times when the jokes fall a little flat. Still the funny jokes make up for the misses. 

This movie has two real problems though. The first of these is that the horse simply has too many owners, to make them all well rounded characters in the length of a less than two hour movie. Therefore some of them are very well defined, while others come off as stereotypes of movie characters. There is also the fact that we have seen this movie too many times to not know what is going to happen in any given scene. 

All in all if you want to go to the movies and put a smile on your face when you are there, this film will do a darn good job of that.  

Some Cartoons For Saturday Morning #124

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

One thing I have always loved about DePatie-Freleng Inspector cartoons is the wide variety of strange and creative villains, our hero finds himself up against. One time villains in this series prove to be just as memorable as the regular characters. Case in point here is Canadian Can-Can (1967). 

Chess-Nuts (1932) has everything I love about the early Betty Boop cartoons. In other words it is absolutely insane. In the style of the Fleischer Studio's earlier Out of the Inkwell shorts, this film starts off in live action before our cartoon heroes take over. In typical Fleischer fashion this is done to surreal and very funny effect. As the movie goes along, it only gets more surreal and funnier. This cartoon was made during the pre-code era and the short could not make this more obvious (if you don't know what pre-code means click here). Betty's dress comes off multiple times and it is obvious that the evil king is only interested in one thing. The following is an exhibitor's review (for Betty Boop cartoons as a whole) from the Motion Picture Herald. "Betty Boop Cartoons: I believe these cartoons are getting better all the time. My Patrons like them better than Mickey Mouse and I am running them both. The sound on these cartoons is wonderful and the cartoon is original and clever. Get the Betty Boop and Bimbo buttons and give them to the kids. The Bimbo and Betty Boop dolls are clever and worth the price for advertising. -S.H. Rich, Rich Theatre, Montpelier, Idaho. Town and rural Patronage." 

                                              Motion Picture Herald, 1934

Some of Disney's best and funniest cartoon shorts are those that teamed Mickey, Donald and Goofy as a comedy trio. Next up I have the second of these cartoons and the first one in color, Mickey's Fire Brigade (1935). This movie opens with the title card burning away in flames, a creative touch by effects animator Cy Young. In this short Mickey is the fire chief, a role he had played earlier in The Fire Fighters (1930). Two of the animators on this film are Bill Tytla (possibly my favorite Disney animator) and Grim Natwick, both of whom had joined the studio in 1934. They animate the majority of the scenes with Clarabella Cow. The scene where Goofy tries to take a coffee break is animated by Wolfgang “Woolie” Reitherman, who would later become a specialist at animating the character. Jack Kinney, who would go on to direct some of the funniest cartoons to ever come out of the Disney studio, animated Donald's struggles with flypaper and pails of water. It is common for cartoon fans to think of the old Disney shorts as being slow moving and sentimental, however that is not the case here at all. This is a fast moving and very funny film that puts a smile on my face every time. The following is from an issue of The film Daily (dated Sept. 5, 1935), " 'Mickey's Fire Brigade,' is to have its premiere in the New York theatrical sector this evening when it opens at the Rivoli Theater with the new Samuel Goldwyn production, 'The Dark Angel.'" A review in National Board of Review Magazine stated, "Noisier and less clever than most of this series but still better than most of its kind." A review in The Film Daily states, "This is one of the liveliest and funniest of the Walt Disney cartoon creations." The following is an exhibitor's review from The Motion Picture Herald, "MICKEY'S FIRE BRIGADE: Mickey Mouse—One of the best of the Mickey Mouse series. Running time, eight minutes.—M. H. Harrington, Avalon Theatre, Clatskanie, Ore. Small Town and Rural Patronage."

Not long ago I shared the post-golden age Looney Tune, Little Go Beep (2000). Here is another very good later Looney Tune effort, Blooper Bunny (1991). This short was directed by Greg Ford and Terry Lennon, who also brought us the feature length, Daffy Duck's Quackbusters (1988). 

Now to go to a much earlier Looney Tune, up next is Bosko's Store (1932). Bosko was the first major Looney Tune character and he was created by Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising. Learning for their former boss Walt Disney not owning the rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, they kept the rights to Bosko. So when in 1933, they left the Warner Brothers Studio, Bosko no longer could appear in the Looney Tunes cartoons. Harman and Ising would make a few more Bosko cartoons for MGM though. Despite this Bosko would later make apperances in Looney Tunes media with the TV show, Tiny Tunes Adventures and the feature length Space Jam (1996). The following is a review from The Film Daily, "A thoroughly entertaining animated cartoon number. Shows Bosko at work in a grocery store, where he performs various amusing antics in slicing boloney and doing other chores around the shop. Lively and tuneful."

Next comes a delightful Terry-Toon, A Hare-Breadth Finish (1957). This short is a take-off on the story of the tortoise and the hare, but more than that it bares a quite close resemblance to Warner Brothers' Bugs vs. Cecil Turtle cartoons. Some of these jokes are very similar to those used in the pre-mentioned Warners cartoons, especially the last two jokes. The hare's personality here is also quite similar to that of Bugs Bunny in those cartoons. One of the best bits of animation here is the tortoise in Hawaiian get-up, this gag was animated hilariously by Jim Tyler. In my opinion this is one of the best Terry-Toons from this time period. 

One of my favorite parts of the Garfield and Friends TV show is the Garfield quickies. These short skits were taken directly from Jim Davis' newspaper comic strip.

Today's cartoon selection ends with a classic Pink Panther, In the Pink of the Night (1969). The title is a take off of the then recent movie, In the Heat of the Night (1967). 

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