Saturday, June 26, 2021

Movie Review: F9


Michael's Movie Grade: B-

A completely silly, over the top and absurd action movie, but a ton of fun. 

What do you call it when a franchise starts off about car racing and then later ends up with cars in space and over the top supervillain plans? Jumping the shark. What do you call it when a franchise so gleefully and knowingly jumps the shark that it simply decides to see how over the top it can go? A heck of a lot of fun. It seems that each Fast and Furious tries to outdo the last in sheer absurdity and this is no exception. We have left reality far behind long ago and to enjoy this movie you need not only to accept this but embrace it as well. With so many gleefully over the top action scenes and some truly funny scenes this is not hard to do. Believe it or not this movie has a somewhat dramatic story at time about the rivalry between two brothers who different reactions to a tragedy lead them down two completely different paths. While the emotion of this story wisely stays in the background it does work. No you are not going to cry or find that this movie has a large emotional effect on you but it does its job pretty well.  

This movie does however suffer from overlength, an excessive use of flashbacks and some obviously very expositional scenes. Despite the overlength and plenty of scenes that could have easily been cut, the ending of the storyline between the two brothers feels extremely rushed. One wishes they could have cut the unnecessary scenes and replaced them with scenes that would have made what happens after the final action scene work better.

This is a mindless action movie but it knows it is. So turn your mind off and have a good time. 

-Michael J. Ruhland 

Some Cartoons For Saturday Morning #129

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

Today's cartoon selection begins with a late Fleischer Studios Popeye short, I'll Never Crow Again (1941). The year after the release of this cartoon Max and Dave Fleischer would find themselves no longer making cartoons for Paramount and many of their employees continuing to make Popeye and Superman shorts for Paramount without them. Many critics of the Popeye series claim that all the cartoons simply feature Popeye and Bluto fighting over Olive. However a look at the sailor's filmography shows that there were in fact many cartoons that did not follow this formula in the slightest. The song that Popeye and Olive sing at the beginning of this cartoon is from the first of Fleischer Studio's two feature films, Gulliver's Travels (1939). A review in The Motion Picture Daily called this cartoon, "Good for a few laughs." A review in Showman's Trade Review stated, "While this is not the usual type of Popeye cartoon, the novelty is not sufficient enough to raise it out of the 'fair' class." The following is an exhibitor's review from The Motion Picture Herald, "I'LL NEVER CROW AGAIN: Popeye the Sailor— Popeye Cartoons are always enjoyed, but this was not as good as average. Running time, 7 minutes.—J. M. Thomsen, Center Theatre, Marlette, Mich. Rural patronage."
Next Yakko, Wakko and Dot answer that age old question.

Many of us cartoon lovers have a similar experience. We saw an old cartoon short on TV as a kid that we knew next to nothing about. It featured none of our favorite characters, yet something about it stuck in our heads. As an adult we run into this cartoon and are now are able to put into context just where and when this cartoon came from and most of all that it was not something that we imagined as kids. So often with me these cartoons turned out to be Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising's Happy Harmonies cartoons for MGM. This series has often been referred to as an imitation of Disney's Silly Symphonies cartoons and there is no denying that this is true but something about them stuck in my head before I knew what they were. One cartoon that especially stuck in my mind was The Calico Dragon (1935). I always remembered the scene (animated by Bob Allen) where the title character introduces himself through song and states the he might even eat "you." Future Looney Tunes director Cal Dalton animates the closing scene as well as the introduction to the toy bunnies. Tome McKimson, brother of Looney Tunes director Robert McKimson, as well a great animator and comic book artist in his own right animates the scene in which we first truly enter the fantasy land, where the hero is riding his horse and the dog is following close behind, as well as the dragon peeking its heads out through the top of the castle. Animator Jim Pabian shows some great acting as our hero tells us that "these knights of old were not so bold," and proceeds to turn his nose up at the knights only to be frightened by the little girl snoring. Pete Burness also gives some great acting with his scenes involving the little dog, especially with the dog running from the dragon's tongue. The following is a review from The Film Daily, "It looks like a smash novelty in the animated field that may revolutionize the whole technique. Done in Technicolor, with most of the characters presented dressed in calico material that actually shows as material on the screen. Not the lines of a cartoon character. How the intriguing effect is produced is a secret of the producers. But it's a pip. The young hero of the skit travels with his horse and dog into the castle of a fearsome dragon, with some amazing adventures resulting."

Now it is time for a Garfield quickie.

Up next is a Norm McCabe directed Looney Tune, Hobby Horse Laffs (1942). Norm McCabe was a director of Looney Tunes for a relatively short amount of time, from 1940 to 1943. His cartoons are not among the best known Looney Tunes for the reason that they were all in black and white and many of them are very impolitically correct. Still many cartoon fans including myself love his cartoons and wish he had directed more. He would return to the world of Looney Tunes much later and serve as a timing director on such TV shows as Tiny Toon Adventures, Taz-Mania and The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries. He would be credited as the director on the Tiny Toons cartoon, Life Guard Lunacy (1991). Hobby Horse Laffs is a take-off on the radio program, Hobby Lobby which ran from 1937 to 1938. The following is a review from The Showman's Trade Review, "For some time now the Leon Schlesinger produced cartoons have been successfully satirizing the more serious aspects of screen and radio entertainment. Now the animations enter a new field, with 'Hobby Horse Laffs' burlesquing the well-known Hobby Lobby program. It's a succession of clever gags, whose appeal, oddly enough, is principally for adults."

Up next comes probably the most popular and well known of Disney's Silly Symphonies, Three Little Pigs (1933). This cartoon is considered to be a breakthrough in personality animation. No less than Chuck Jones would say, "That was the first time that anybody ever brought characters to life. There were three characters, who looked alike and acted differently; the way the moved is what made them who they were. Before that in things like Steamboat Willie [1928], the villain was a big heavy guy and the hero was a little guy; everybody moved the same. Even in the Fleischer's stuff, the basic difference between Popeye and Bluto was the size difference not the action difference." The animation of the three pigs is mostly handled by Fred Moore and Dick Lundy. Dick Lundy animated all of the dancing scenes. Jack King animated one excellent scene in which Practical Pig is playing the piano. Norm Ferguson animated the majority of the Big Bad Wolf. Art Babbitt animates only two scenes, one in which the wolf catches the pig's by their tails and one in which he falls into a boiling pot. These were some of the best Disney animators of the time and their work here perfectly shows why. This is not just a milestone for its time, but remains a hugely entertaining cartoon today, heavily because of the work of these animators. Walt Disney later remembered this film's premiere, "It caused no excitement at its Radio City premiere. In fact many critics preferred Father Noah's Ark [1933], which was released at the same time. I was told that some exhibitor's and even United Artists considered The Pigs a 'cheater' because it only had four characters in it. The picture bounced back to fame from the neighborhood theatres." Three Little Pigs would become not only a hit cartoon but a sensation with movie goers everywhere. The short also gave the Disney studio its first of many hit songs, Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf (written by Frank Churchill), a song that is still instantly recognizable to Disney fans today. Time Magazine referred to the song as "the tune by which 1933 will be remembered." Despite all this Walt would later discuss the making of the cartoon stating, "It was just another story to us and we were gaging it up just like any other picture." The following is from a 1933 issue of Modern Screen Magazine, "Here's some good news for you 'Three Little Pigs' fans: This Silly Symphony has met with such tremendous success that Walt Disney is going to feature them (plus the Big Bad Wolf) in several other Mother Goose rhymes. In other words they're going to become regular stars like Mickey Mouse. Incidentally folks are seeing 'Three Little Pigs for the umptieth time and still enjoying it." There would only be three sequels (The Big Bad Wolf (1934), Three Little Wolves (1936) and The Practical Pig (1939)), none of which would as successful as the first leading Walt to infamously say, "you can't top pigs with pigs." This cartoon reached the number 11 spot in Jerry Beck's book, The 50 Greatest Cartoons.

Up next comes another animated take on The Three Little Pigs. This one is a Merrie Melody directed by Friz Freleng, Pigs in a Polka (1943). This cartoon serves as a parody of both the Silly Symphony and the Disney feature film, Fantasia (1940). It is no surprise that this cartoon was directed by Friz Freleng, who specialized in musical cartoons and perfectly synching a gag to music. Here he marries the cartoon action with Braham's Hungarian Dances, and the result is pure cartoon magic. This short appears in Jerry Beck's book, The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes.

Now we join our old friend Scrappy in Sunday Clothes (1931). 

Today's cartoon selection ends with Mickey Mouse in Hickory Dickory Mickey (2001). This short comes from the first episode of the TV show, House of Mouse.

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 Resources Used The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes Cartoons Edited by Jerry Beck. Walt Disney's Silly Symphonies: A Companion to the Classic Cartoon Series by Russell Merritt and J.B. Kaufman. Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons by Leonard Maltin The 50 Greatest Cartoons Edited by Jerry Beck Hollywood Cartoons: American Animation in its Golden Age by Michael Barrier.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Movie Review: 12 Mighty Orphans


Michael's Movie Grade: B

A good hearted and truly feel good underdog story. 

We have all seen many sports underdog stories in movies and truth be told this one adds nothing we haven't seen before. However it tells its story in such a sincere and heartfelt way that I couldn't help but be overcome by its charms. Much of this is due to our main character (Luke Wilson) a football coach who like the boys on his team grew up an orphan and have been hurt by the harshness of life (in his case the horrors of WW1). This is a man who has life knock him down and the past often comes back to haunt him, but who still fights to be optimistic and believe that with hard work and dedication he can accomplish anything. In this extremely pessimistic age, this is kind of unabashed optimism is just what we need. 12 Mighty Orphans is optimistic in all the right ways and this main point of the story comes across incredible well. We get the feeling that the filmmakers truly believe in what they are saying with this film and this sincerity makes us leave the theater feeling the same optimism that our main character feels. One of the most heartfelt scenes involves the coach talking to his star player (Jake Austin Walker) about the pain he still feels. This scene is surprisingly emotionally effective and very well written. It perfectly conveys the message of this film without sugarcoating or talking down to its audience. The movie also benefits from a very authentic feeling 1930's setting and a fantastic cast all around. Martian Sheen in particular often steals the show.  

Unfortunately this movie's two main antagonists (Wayne Knight, Lane Garrison) are bland, uninteresting and incredibly over the top. In fact they are so over the top that they feel like they came out of a parody rather than a legitimate sports movie. This puts them at odds with the sincere and down to earth feeling of the rest of the film. The use of a narrator proves pointless as he just describes what we have already seen and can infer for ourselves. 

All and all, if you like feel good underdog movies, you should really enjoy this. 

Michael J. Ruhland 

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Movie Review: The Sparks Brothers


Michael's Movie Grade: B+

An excellent music documentary for a very talented band that deserves to be better known than they are. 

Sparks has often been a band that has been on the verge of a breakthrough very often since the 1970's, yet strangely they never had that breakthrough. This has not stopped them from having very devoted fans for the length of their career (including this film's director Edgar Wright (Scott Pilgrim, Baby Driver, Shaun of the Dead)) and having inspired many more famous bands. If this movie gains the band more fans then I assure you that it did exactly what Wright planned it to do. And I assure you many who see this movie will become fans of the band. 

While when we think of Edgar Wright, we do not think of documentaries, it is hard to think of a better director for this film. Sparks is extremely quirky, creative and not afraid to be silly. Therefore Wright's similarly quirky sense of humor works exceptionally well here. From the band themselves taking parts in puns to the humorous introductory subtitles to many of those being interviewed to visual references to the art house films that the band are huge fans of, this film definitely stands out as something different and more daring than the average music documentary and a good companion to the band's music. There is also Wright's clear passion for the subject matter and how clearly this passion comes across. 

Of course every music documentary clearly depends on how good the music it is about is. Luckily Sparks is a darn good band and we get to here some excellent music from them here. It is clear to see why all the people interviewed here are such fans. 

Interviews have become a staple of music documentaries and somehow it seems appropriate that this the most conventional part of the film is also the weakest part. While many well respect artists are interviewed here, most have them simply say the same things. Especially considering the long runtime (2 hours and 21 minutes), this can be more than bit repetitive. We hear that they are brilliant, original and should be better known too times throughout this movie without one ounce of criticism of any of their work. It wouldn't have hurt to trim these interviews to cut out these more repetitive bits.

This movie will make fans out of newcomers, will please die hard fans and will widen the appreciation of causal fans. That is of course just what a film like this should do.

-Michael J. Ruhland    

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Rain in Tennessee: A Poem by Michael J. Ruhland

 Since this is my blog and I can do whatever the heck I want here is a short poem that I wrote. I was listening to a lot of sad country songs when I wrote this, and I think the influence is incredibly obvious. 

Lonely stream of water running down a hill. 
For a moment time stands completely still. 
Giving lonely people time to think 
and for the drunkard to put down his drink.

It's raining in Tennessee once again.
This is when I miss you most my friend. 
But there is no use trying to pretend.
I know you'll never pass this way again.
And when I look upon the ground
is that a raindrop or a teardrop falling down.  

Cowboy Church #124

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

Todays musical selection begins with The Sons of the Pioneers with He Walks with the Wild and Lonely. This song was written by Bob Nolan, one of the group's founding members and the front man for the band when they appeared in the movies. This recording comes from their 1963 album, Hymns of the Cowboy. This is followed by the one and only Tennessee Ernie Ford singing Nearer My God to Thee. This hymn was written by stage actress Sarah Flower Adams. She had had great success on the stage and was especially praised for her role in a 1837 production of Macbeth. However her failing health made her have to leave the stage. During this time she took comfort in writing hymns and poems. In 1841, her pastor was having trouble coming up with a hymn to fit a sermon about Jacob's Ladder . Sarah decided to write a hymn for this sermon and to get it done in time for the church service she wrote it in just a week's time. Next comes Johnny Cash with God is Not Dead. This is not the Newsboys song that spawned a series of popular movies, but rather an original song written by John himself. This song comes from John's 1969 album, The Holy Land, an album inspired by when he and his wife, June Carter Cash, took a trip to Israel. The back ground vocals on this song are provided by The Carter Family and The Statler Brothers, while early rock and roll star, Carl Perkins plays guitar. Next we join Tammy Wynette with the title track of her 1978 album, Womanhood. This is followed by Bob Dylan with Man Gave Names To All the Animals. This song is based off the book of Genesis in which before partaking of the apple and letting sin into the world, Adam gave names to all the animals and everything he saw. Some have compared this song to a nursey rhyme. While it might seem strange that the man who has been called "The Voice of a Generation" and one of the greatest poets of the 20th century to be singing and writing nursey rhymes, they would later seem to be the basis for his 1990 album, Under the Red Sky. When Johnny Cash was asked about Bob's Christian music period in an interview the Man in Black stated, "I didn't see him during that time. I don't think Bob was ever into organized church religion. Some of the songs were good gospel. I did 'Man Gave Names to the Animals' in a Christmas TV special I recorded in Scotland. I loved 'Slow Train Coming' but in those years I was very much the observer. He lived in California in half seclusion. No one saw him that much. Bob is very much his own person. He is a loner and a very shy person. I can respect that because I like my time alone. I was sick in the hospital over a year ago and I got a telegram from him. That's all I've heard from him in over seven years. I had no influence at all on his religion." Next is Roy Rogers with Lord Have Mercy on My Soul. This song reminds us that even the best of us are sinners in need of a savior. There is not one of us who can be saved by our good works, but only by turning to God and repenting of our sin. Luckily for us God is willing to forgive and wash clean any of us willing to do those two things. This is followed by Pasty Cline with Just a Closer Walk With Thee. The exact origin or songwriter for this hymn is not known, but many believe it to be an African-American hymn and to pre-date the Civil War. Today's musical selection ends with Randy Travis and Mac Powell (lead singer of Christian rock band, Third Day) singing Love Lifted Me. This hymn was written in 1912 by James Rowe and Howard E. Smith. Rowe's daughter would later state,  “ I can see them now, my father striding up and down humming a bar or two, and Howard E. playing it and jotting it down…The two huddled together, working line by line, bar by bar, composing this hymn in tandem.”

Psalm 136

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
2 Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.

4 to him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever.
5 who by his understanding made the heavens,
His love endures forever.
6 who spread out the earth upon the waters,
His love endures forever.
7 who made the great lights—
His love endures forever.
8 the sun to govern the day,
His love endures forever.
9 the moon and stars to govern the night;
His love endures forever.

10 to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt
His love endures forever.
11 and brought Israel out from among them
His love endures forever.
12 with a mighty hand and outstretched arm;
His love endures forever.

13 to him who divided the Red Sea[a] asunder
His love endures forever.
14 and brought Israel through the midst of it,
His love endures forever.
15 but swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea;
His love endures forever.

16 to him who led his people through the wilderness;
His love endures forever.

17 to him who struck down great kings,
His love endures forever.
18 and killed mighty kings—
His love endures forever.
19 Sihon king of the Amorites
His love endures forever.
20 and Og king of Bashan—
His love endures forever.
21 and gave their land as an inheritance,
His love endures forever.
22 an inheritance to his servant Israel.
His love endures forever.

23 He remembered us in our low estate
His love endures forever.
24 and freed us from our enemies.
His love endures forever.
25 He gives food to every creature.
His love endures forever.

26 Give thanks to the God of heaven.
His love endures forever.

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7

So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. Matthew 6:4

But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand. 1 Chronicles 29:14

  And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:9

If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 1 John 3:17

Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done. Proverbs 19:17

Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses. Proverbs 28:27

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

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

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

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

Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs. Proverbs 10:12

Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. Matthew 5:42

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28

Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly. John 7:24

And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. Deuteronomy 10:19

 When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. Leviticus 19:13

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

The Man Called Cash by Steve Turner

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Movie Review: Luca


Note: This film is only available on Disney +

Michael's Movie Grade: B

Maybe not Pixar's finest hour, but a darn good movie in its own right. 

One of the best things about this movie is the sheer atmosphere and the film's excellent animated interpretation of Italy. Director Enrico Casarosa grew up in Italy and had the crew takes trips there with him to show them so many of the places that made his childhood so special. As such this movie does not take place in a vaguely Italian village like so many similar films would do, but instead a beautiful, immersive and nostalgic place that feels completely real to the audience. Like is common in Pixar movies a lot of work was put into even the tiniest details. Yet at the same time the movie has a cartoony look that at first glance is deceptively simple. When many animated movies try to look as real as possible this movie is not ashamed to look like a cartoon and to exaggerate for cartoony effect. However because of the love and care put into this film, we get caught up in the emotion just as much as any great live action film. This proves that a film being ashamedly a cartoon does not mean that it can't have an emotional impact. The three main characters here are wonderful as well. Overcoming the simple stereotypes, they could have been, they feel like real people. We all know someone just like each of these three characters and can relate and care for them very easy. I also love that this film is not afraid to slow down and let us enjoy the little moments as it is moments like these that can truly make a film stand out.

Unfortunately this movie suffers from a weak, cliché and all together boring villain in a story that would have been just fine without such a character. The storyline is also very familiar and it is hard at anytime to not see exactly where it is going to go. The humor while not bad certainly is not as funny as we have come to except from Pixar.

This will not become one of my most watched Pixar movies, but it is one that I know I will truly enjoy each time I watch it.    

Movie Review: Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It


Michael's Movie Grade: A-

An extremely informative, entertaining and engrossing documentary on the great actress of movies, TV and stage. 

Rita Moreno has always been an actress I have loved the work of. I saw West Side Story and Singing in the Rain at an early age and they were two of the first movies that I truly feel in love with. Still I must admit that my knowledge of her has mostly been who she was and what roles she played. This helped make this documentary all the more fascinating to me. Rita has always had a very likable presence in all the movies she appeared in, and with this film it becomes obvious that she has the same presence off screen. Though she has gone through times of self-doubt and depression, we see here that she has not let this turn herself into a figure of pity. Instead she still has a fun and silly child-like side to her that shines through whenever she is on screen. It is hard to watch and listen to her without liking her. Though there are some interviews with friends and co-workers, much of the movie is spent simply with her and that is when it shines its brightest. This movie often addresses the racism she fought and how hard it was for a Latina woman to make it in Hollywood during that era. This film is able to intelligently talk about and discuss these important issues while being very much Rita's personal story at the same time. 

For those of you who don't know the majority of Rita's story (like me), I feel like I should not go into much more detail about this film. Yet I can tell you that you will find it very informative and entertaining. 

Some Cartoons For Saturday Morning #128

 Happy Saturday morning and welcome back for another selection of classic cartoons. 

Today's selection begins with a Porky Pig short, Notes to You (1941). This cartoon was later remade as Back Alley Uproar (1948), which is considered an all time classic. Back Alley Uproar would replace Porky with Elmer Fudd and the unnamed cat with Sylvester. Yet there are many scenes that when compared to each other are nearly identical in the two versions. This should come as no surprise considering that director Friz Freleng and writer Michael Maltese would work on both shorts. That remake seems to overshadow this film, yet taken on its own terms is very entertaining and a joy to watch. The following is an exhibitor's review from The Motion Picture Herald, "Notes to You: Looney Tunes Cartoons - Here is one of the funniest cartoons for some time. New gags and highly amusing. Running time, 7 minutes. - H. Goldson, Plaza Theatre, Chicago, Ill. General Patronage." 

Next comes another classic black and white Looney Tune, Eatin' on the Cuff or The Moth Who Came to Dinner (1942). This cartoon was included in Jerry Beck's book, The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes and has become a favorite of some cartoon buffs. The oddball nature of this short becomes obvious from the very opening in which a live action piano player begins to tell us the story. The actor used here is silent era veteran Leo White, who will be familiar to a lot of my fellow Charlie Chaplin fans. However the voice we hear is not that of Leo but rather of Mel Blanc, who voiced countless characters in the Looney Tunes shorts. It is easy to see why Looney Tunes fans love this short so much. It is a fast paced and crazy short with a wild anything for a laugh attitude. It should come as no surprise that the film was directed by Bob Clampett, whose work was often wild and energetic even by Looney Tunes standards.  It also features some excellent animation such as Virgil Ross' scene of the bee and the spider's duel and Rod Scribner's animation of the spider's huge nose emerging from her wig (a dirty joke that would have only been attempted in a Clampett cartoon). A reviewer for The Film Daily stated, " This cartoon is interesting chiefly because it veers away from the usual formula for this type of short."

Next we join Pink Panther for Extinct Pink (1969). 

One thing that makes Hanna-Barbera's Abbott and Costello TV cartoons appealing to fans of the movie comedy team is that Bud Abbott was still alive to voice himself. The age can definitely be heard in his voice but he still remains one of comedy's greatest straight men. Unfortunately Lou Costello passed away in 1959, so Stan Irwin voices the character here. The duo met ghosts and monsters multiple times in their movies and they do in the following cartoon, Gone Ghosts (1968). 

Next comes one of Disney's classic Silly Symphonies shorts, Woodland Café (1937). A working title for this cartoon was Bug Cabaret and that describes this film perfectly. There is no real story here, but the filmmakers are able to get plenty of entertainment out of the basic premise of a nightclub for bugs. While Disney cartoons have often be thought of as resembling classical music, this film is a jazz filled experience. Appropriately one of the studio's greatest jazz nuts worked as an animator on this film. That was Ward Kimball, who animated the very jazzy finale of the short. This finale includes animation of a grasshopper who moves like Cab Calloway. Ward Kimball biographer, Todd James Pierce stated that these scenes were possibly based off of Cab's appearance in the Warner Brothers movie, The Singing Kid (1936). Adding to the jazz feeling of this film, the short uses a popular recent jazz song Truckin'. Having made its debut in 1935 this song (written by Ted Koehler and Rube Bloom) had already been recording by a wide variety of great jazz artists including Fats Waller, Duke Ellington and Harry Allen. The use of a recent popular song in a Disney film was certainly unusual as the studio had mostly used either newly written material and old classical music. Some exhibitor's were surprisingly disappointed by this cartoon as is evidenced from the following exhibitor's reviews for the Motion Picture Herald, "WOODLAND CAFE: Silly Symphonies—Probably we are expecting too much from Walt Disney, but from comments this did not seem to come up to par; something lacking. Running time, 8 minutes.—A Gold- son, Gold Coast Theatre, Chicago, Ill. Neighborhood patronage."  "WOODLAND CAFE: Silly Symphonies—Not up to the standard of Silly Symphony.—C. L. Niles, Niles Theatre, Anamosa, Iowa. General patronage." This cartoon would be reissued to theaters in 1948. 


Next we join your friend and mine, Scrappy in Scrappy's Party (1933). As you can see from the following cartoon, Scrappy was one of Hollywood's true men about town and anybody who was anyone had to attend his parties. They were the true Hollywood social events of the year. 

Director Jack Kinney's cartoons are the wildest and craziest the Disney studio ever produced and while I know that many cartoon fans will disagree with me, his cartoons make me laugh just as much as those of Tex Avery and Bob Clampett. Once offered a job at MGM (they offered him a higher salary but the Disney studio matched this amount of money to keep Kinney) one wonders what he would of done at the studio where Tex Avery shined his brightest. Though he is best known for his work with Goofy, he also directed some fine cartoons starring the other Disney characters. I especially love his Donald Duck cartoons, including Duck Pimples (1945), which is coming up next. To say that this cartoon is surreal and crazy is a major understatement. Yet not all of this is due to Kinney but also to the film's writers, Virgil “Vip” Partch and Dick Shaw. Partch is best known for his work in magazine cartoons for such magazines as  Collier's, The New Yorker, Playboy, and True, as well as his comic strips Big George and The Captain's Gig. Dick Shaw wrote the Mickey Mouse comic strip from 1942-1943. The two remained close friends their whole lives. Animator Marc Davis was not a fan of this short telling Disney historian Don Peri, “It was pretty bad…it was one of those tongue-in-cheek things. Walt was never tongue-in-cheek, and I think our own development didn’t permit it.” Yet Marc provided some excellent animation here of the book's author talking to our main cast and the crook's confession and attempted getaway. Despite his dislike of this type of cartoons, Marc's animation is pretty darn funny and adds to the humor of these scenes. Other highlights in the animation include Fred Moore's animation of the detective being very affectionate towards Donald, Hal King's animation of Donald being frightened by the radio show, John Sibley's animation of a mysterious man in a raincoat and Milt Kahl's scene of a hot iron salesman. 

Let us end with a song.

Thanks for joining me. Come back next week for another batch of animated treasures. Until then may all your tunes be Looney and your melodies merry.

Resources Used

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

The Life and Times of Ward Kimball by Todd James Pierce

The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes Cartoons Edited by Jerry Beck

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Animated Movie Making With Felix the Cat

 The following is an article from a 1928 issue of Amateur  Movie Makers magazine. If you have trouble reading the following pages click on them and use your touch screen to zoom in. If that still doesn't work click here.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Movie Review: Domino: Battle of the Bones


Michael's Movie Grade: B

A darn funny movie. 

This movie is a pure comedy with no pretentions of doing anything more than providing you with a good time at the movies and it does just that. The idea of an intense domino tournament as the basis for a whole movie is already funny and this film finds plenty of good humor to wring out of this premise. The tone of the film is already set from the very opening, where we get a lecture on the history and the importance of dominos by the "pimp-fessor" of Dominology aka Snoop Dog (who also produced this movie). His lecture is over the top, silly and quite foul mouthed as well as very funny. As the movie goes on it is able to keep this tone throughout and provide plenty of laughs along the way. This film is full of incredibly over the top silliness that only multiplies as it goes along. Though much of this movie is based on cultural differences  between a black grandfather and his white step-grandson, it is not a message movie by any means, but instead a very impolitically correct, foul mouthed, nothing is off limits comedy. Yet there is something sweet and good-hearted about the relationship between the two main characters that keeps the movie from feeling mean spirited. Much of this is due to the excellent chemistry between  Lou Beatty Jr. and Nathan Dana. This also allows some of the supporting characters to be as over the top, crazy and not exactly likable but just plain funny. These characters include the extremely down on his luck and desperate man running the tournament (David Arquette), a "man of God" who acts like anything but (director Baron Davis) and a scene stealing cocaine-loving and out of his mind villain (Tom Lister Jr.). All these characters bring plenty of laugh out loud moments.

Unfortunately this movie also has a B-plot involving a woman (Valeria Vallejos) who wants to prove herself to her family (who doesn't believe women have any place in dominos) that simply is neither as funny or emotionally involving as it should be. The basic story is also very predictable and familiar, but in a comedy like this that is a fairly small fault. 


Monday, June 14, 2021

Movie Review: The House Next Door: Meet the Blacks 2


Michael's Movie Grade: C+

A fun, if uneven, parody of horror movies. 

I did not go into this movie excepting a genre parody on par with the best work of Mel Brooks, but simply looking for a fun time at the movies with a few good laughs and that is exactly what I got. This is a film that is purely out for laughs and nothing else and is not afraid to be very silly, which is something that is becoming too rare today and something that I very much appreciated. Still it is obvious as you watch this movie that the humor is very hit and miss. For all the jokes that work there are just as many that fall flat. This does not change though that the jokes that work are pretty darn funny. And while I didn't laugh out loud from start to finish, there were definitely quite a few good laughs here. Both the jokes that work and the jokes that don't are helped heavily by a cast (including Mike Epps, Katt Williams, Zulay Henao and Lil Duval) that gives their all to every comedic moment as well as lending quite a bit of likability to the whole film. Almost all good genre parodies are those that pay tribute to as well as parody a certain genre. That is definitely true here and a lot of care was put into having this film look and feel like a classic horror movie. Because of this despite being a silly comedy, the movie is very visually appealing to look at. 

This is not a great comedy by any means but it will provide movie-goers with a fun trip to the movies which is just what they want from a film like this. 

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Cowboy Church #123

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

Today's musical selection begins with Roy Rogers and Dale Evans singing a medley of Whispering Hope and Star of Hope. Whispering Hope beautiful hymn comes from the pen of Alice Hawthorne (the pen name for poet Septimus Winner), who is best known for her contributions to children's music with songs like, Where, Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone? and Ten Little Indians. This lovely medley comes from Roy and Dale's 1973 gospel album, In the Sweet Bye and Bye. Next is Johnny Cash with He'll Understand and Say Well Done. Jesus said that we are meant to share the good news of the gospel. However many of us can be afraid to do this for this simple reason of God's word being rejected. This hymn is a song of encouragement reminding us that no matter what people on this Earth think of us, when we do God's will he is proud of us. This song was written by Lucy Eddie Campbell-Williams and was first published in 1933. African-American Gospel Scholar Horace Clarence Boyer  wrote about the song's author, "From 1930 to 1962, [Campbell] introduced a new song each year at the National Baptist Convention. Her songs became gospel standards, sung by all races and creeds. Campbell had the distinction of having composed the second most popular song in all Black Christendom after Thomas A. Dorsey’s song ‘Precious Lord’, which is, of course, 'He understands; He’ll Say, ‘Well Done’.' One can go to a Black church at the time of a funeral and find Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, Baptists, and Holiness singing this song, and they will be singing it without sheet music." This lovely recording comes from John's 1962 gospel album, Hymns From the Heart. Next comes The Louvin Brothers with their self-penned If We Forget God, from their 1958 gospel album, The Family Who Prays. Next comes The Carter Family's classic 1927 recording of Can The Circle Be Unbroken. This song was based off of the 1907 Christian hymn (written by Charles H. Gabriel and Ada R. Habershon), Will the Circle Be Unbroken. Uncle A.P. Carter reworked this song changing the lyrics to be about the death of a mother. Though this version would be covered by an incredible amount of artists, many of them would change the title back to Will the Circle Be Unbroken as well as changing that one word in the chorus. However these cover versions would use A.P.'s lyrics for the rest of the song. This is one of my all time favorite songs, because it is a sad song, but one which also finds hope within its darkness. This is a song about trusting in God in times when it is very difficult to, which is something many gospel songs don't cover but which many Christians struggle with. Country music has often focused more on the singers and the lyrics than anything else. That is why it is surprising that someone like Chet Atkins could make it as big as he did in Nashville. Chet Atkins was a guitarist rather than a singer and most of his output was purely instrumental. Yet his talent on the guitar can hardly be denied and he rightfully earned the nickname, "Mr. Guitar." His playing is a soulful and expressive as the voices of any of the great country singers. In 1962 Chet put out what I view as one of his finest albums, Chet Atkins Plays Back Home Hymns. This album is made up of instrumental versions of classic gospel songs. In this Cowboy Church post I have included his lovely version of Amazing Grace from this album. Next is Christian southern rock band, Third Day with the beautiful self-penned, Your Love Oh Lord from their 3rd album 2000's Time. Much of the lyrics to this song come directly from the bible, Psalm 36 in fact. Many of us today associate folk music with the political and social minded songs of the 1960's. These songs were predated by the work of Woody Guthrie, whose songs were just as filled with social commentary as anything that came out in the 60's. One of my favorite of his songs of this type is Jesus Christ. This song speaks of how Jesus spoke about giving to the poor and helping those in need and uses it to tie into how such a message is still needed in more modern times. This recording of the song comes from 1944, but is still just as powerful and affecting today. We continue with The Sons of the Pioneers with their 1948 recording of Read the Bible Everyday. This song was a Sons original and was written by one of the group's founding members Tim Spencer. While the advice this song gives is simple, it is pivotal for all Christians. Too often we (and I have certainly been guilty of this too) drift away from our bibles and when we do this we find ourselves drifting further from God and greater into sin. God's word is a mighty sword against Satan and something we must all hold on to. Today's musical selection ends with Charley Pride singing Take My Hand Precious Lord.  This song was written by Thomas A. Dorsey after the passing of his wife and newborn son in 1932. Though Dorsey had given his life to the Lord and was moving away from his career as a blues singer instead writing gospel songs and even pastoring churches. Still after the death of his beloved wife and child, he began to question his faith. Instead of giving up his faith he turned to prayer. He prayed that God would lead him through all the troubles of life. He put his prayer to music (George Allen's Maitland) and this turned out to be one of his most popular songs. 

Do to others as you would have them do to you! Luke 6:31

Love is patient and is kind; love doesn’t envy. Love doesn’t brag, is not proud. 1 Corinthians 13:4

For God didn’t give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7

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

For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. Romans 6:14

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. John 2:24

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

Then I said, ‘I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His name.’ But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, and I could not. Jeremiah 20:9

 But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:4-5

 But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. Genesis 50:20

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

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Movie Review: The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard


Michael's Movie Grade: B-

A highly entertaining if very familiar action comedy.

The humor here is hardly what you would call sophisticated or witty. Because of this I don't imagine this film winning many favors with critics. Yet humor neither needs to be sophisticated or witty to be funny. Sometimes something is just funny because it makes you laugh and this movie certainly made me laugh. Much of this is due to the incredible chemistry and comic delivery from the movie's main three stars (Samuel L. Jackson, Selma Hayek, Ryan Reynolds). The trio make an perfect comedy team and even make some jokes that on paper would be unfunny, actually funny. To be honest the movie doesn't really kick into gear until these three first share the screen but at that moments the laughs often come steadily. I saw this in a theatre with an audience and that is by far the the best way to see it. The audience was clearly really enjoying themselves and it is hard not to get caught up in the pure enjoyment. 

That said while this film successeds quite well as a comedy as an action movie it leads a little to be desired. The stakes and the storyline are completely silly, familiar and cliché , which works perfectly for the comedy but makes it so the action scenes are hard to get involved in and lack suspense needed to make them as exciting as could be. This movie also suffers from a bland and boring villain (in fact most of the characters who aren't our main three characters or played by Morgan Freeman aren't very interesting), which doesn't help the movie in this department. Still the action scenes do have some of that good old fashioned R rated fun many will want from them and they are quite enjoyable for what they are. Plus with a movie that really truly makes you laugh you may not care about this. 

All in all this is a truly funny comedy and an enjoyable action movie. 


Video: The Lasting Legacy of Oscar Micheaux's The Symbol of the Unconquered -TCM

Video: Silents, Please! A Love Letter to the Silent Era - TCM

Some Cartoons For Saturday Morning #127

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

Today's cartoon selection begins with a classic Pink Panther short, Pink Plunk Plink (1966). This is a clever cartoon in which once again our Pink hero engages in a battle of wits with the little man (who is often said to be a caricature of producer Friz Freleng). This time the setting for their battle is an orchestral concert. The little man trying to play the classical Beethoven's Fifth Symphony and the Pink Panther trying to playing the jazzy Henry Mancini's Pink Panther theme creates an excellent musical contrast that adds greatly to the action on screen. Though this cartoon is a lot of fun the whole way through, the ending gag is what truly makes it stand out. 

It has often been said that while the Warner Brothers and MGM cartoons were wild and crazy, the Disney cartoons were sweet and sentimental. However there is an exception to every rule and there is no bigger exception than the Goofy cartoon, Hockey Homicide (1945). This cartoon is as wild crazy and funny as anything Warner Brothers or MGM ever put out. It should come as no surprise that the short was directed by Jack Kinney, who was the Disney studio's wildest and craziest directors.  Comparing Kinney's Goofy films with the slower paced and very sweet Pluto cartoons that Charles Nichols was making at the same time, it is hard to believe that they came from the same studio. At this time Kinney mostly worked with Goofy and his shorts often had the Goof providing us with examples of how to do something (or really how not to). This is one of the sports cartoons in which every character looks like Goofy. One treat for Disney buffs is the names of the players, which are take offs on people who worked for the studio. For instance the referee is "Clean Game Kinney" , and two of the players are “Fearless Ferguson” and “Ice-Box Bertino,” take-offs on animators Norm Ferguson and Al Bertino. This cartoon also features an all star cast of animators including Milt Kahl, John Sibley, Ward Kimball, Les Clark, Al Bertino, Cliff Norberg and Hal King. Despite Les Clark being a legendary animator and one of Walt's nine old men, he animates very little here. His sole scene involves the referee droping the puck and quickly running off. John Sibley is a perfect animator for a film like this as he was excellent at broad and exaggerated animation. Two of his best scenes here include the many pucks being scooped up into the net and a pile of pucks being hit with incredible speed by one hockey player. Milt Kahl also shows talent for comedy with his animation Ferguson and Bertino's rivalry and the referee's discipline of them. Ward Kimball handles the very funny scene in which the referee wears a suit of armor. Look for reuse of animation from the feature length Pinocchio (1940) during the short's climax. The following is an exhibitor's review from The Motion Picture Herald. "HOCKEY HOMICIDE: Disney Cartoons—Boy, if your patrons don't die laughing on this, they ain't human. Disney can sure make these Goofy series. - Nick Raspa, State Theatre, Rivesville, W, Va." 

Next comes one of Columbia's Krazy Kat cartoons, Whacks Museum (1933). Despite being based off of George Herriman's classic newspaper comic strip, these films bare little resemblance to the comic strip. Krazy in these shorts more resembles Mickey Mouse than the comic strip character and has become clearly a male character instead of the character of indeterminate gender that was in the comics. A review in The Film Daily stated, "This one ranks just so-so among animated cartoon comedies." The following is an exhibitor's review from The Motion Picture Herald, "WHACKS MUSEUM: Krazy Kat Kartoons—I sure liked this one. My audience liked it also. Running time, eight minutes.—Louis Perretta, Crescent Theatre, Mahoningtown, Pa, General Patronage." 

Next comes an early Chuck Jones directed Looney Tune, Porky's Prize Pony (1941). Like many Chuck Jones cartoons of this time there is very little dialogue here and the story is mostly told in pantomime (something that would become a staple of his later Roadrunner cartoons). The dialogue here only consists of a song Porky sings at the start and a quick announcement to begin a race. This film does have echoes of a later series of cartoons Chuck would make. Just like how Charlie Dog would try desperately to become Porky's dog, the horse here tries just as hard to get get Porky to ride him. 

In the Tiny Toon Adventures TV show, there was an episode titled Tiny Toon Music Television (1991). This episode parodied MTV and featured a some short music videos staring the show's cast. Two songs by the alternative rock band, They Might Be Giants (a band I love) received music videos in this episode. The following is the Tiny Toons music video for the song Particle Man

Next comes one of my favorite silent era Felix the Cat cartoons, Comicalamities (1928). 

Broadcasting, 1959

We continue with the Ant and the Aardvark cartoon, Don't Hustle an Ant With Muscle (1970). This short was directed by Art Davis, who directed some of the finest shorts out of the DeDaptie-Freleng studio and had earlier directed some fan favorite Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons. Voicing the two characters is impressionist, John Byrner who is doing imitations of Dean Martin and Jackie Mason. Note as well that this is one of the rare theatrical cartoon series in which the individual musicians are named in the open credits. 


Today's cartoon selection ends with Kiko the Kangaroo in Kiko's Cleaning Day (1937). Kiko had made his debut a year earlier in Farmer Alfalfa's Prize Package (1936). This short was directed by George Gordon who had just recently moved up to director but would soon leave the Terrytoons studio and is best known by animation fans today for his work as an animator at MGM. George was one of studio boss Paul Terry's favorites and Bill Weiss would later say, "If he had stayed, Terry had enough faith in him to let him run the place." 

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

Resources Used[23143]/7/

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


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