Monday, August 30, 2021

Movie Review: Paw Patrol: The Movie


Michael's Movie Grade: C+

Although aimed at young children, this movie (based off the popular TV show), is still surprisingly enjoyable for those who don't fit in to that demographic.  

As one might suspect the storyline is pretty simplistic. However it does not ever feel like a TV episode stretched to reach feature length. Instead the runtime feels just right for the film. The best part of the story was Chase's character arc. Chase was a pup who grew up in the big city and spent much of that time scared out of his mind. Upon returning to the big city, he feels that he is still the scared little pup he was back then instead of a real hero. This is instantly relatable to both kids and adults. We have all had similar feelings and have let these feelings run our life. This makes this a surprisingly emotionally effective part of the story and provides the film with its strongest moments. The message conveyed by this is also very well done without ever once talking down to any little kids watching. The other best part of the movie is the new character Liberty. An excitable fangirl of the pups, this dog actually earns some real legitimate laughs, while being an instantly likable character. The action scenes are also pretty fun, even if they are not spectacular. The animation itself may show the film's TV origins but while it may not be Disney-level it is still pretty good for what it is.  

This is another one of those family films that tries to constantly be funny throughout its whole runtime. As is normal for these types of movies, this makes the humor pretty hit and miss with some jokes being pretty funny and others falling completely flat. 

The weakest part of the film is the villain. While I get the point that he is supposed to stupid and more childish than the actual kid characters, this is all there is too him. Adding to this is that the comedy that comes from him is the weakest in the movie. As one might except there is also a fair share of corny and forced dialogue that doesn't quite work. The film is also instantly predictable to anyone who has seen a movie before. 

No one excepts a cinematic masterpiece form Paw Patrol: The Movie but I personally was pleasantly surprised that this movie is as fun it was.  

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Video Link: Buster Keaton - The Art of the Gag - Every Frame a Painting

Cowboy Church #134

 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 on their 1957 album of the same name. This hymn was written by William Walford. Walford was a wood craver who had little to no formal education. However what he did have was a very close relationship with God. Those who knew him said that he knew the bible by heart and this man was even asked to share sermons at his church. One day around  1845 Pastor Thomas Salmon visited William Walford. Walford asked Salmon to write down a poem he had in his head. Salmon was so amazed by this poem that he right away sought to get it published. After Walford's death, William Bradbury wrote music for this poem and the hymn as we know it first appeared in the 1859 hymnal, Church Melodies. Bradbury had also composed music for such hymns as Just as I Am and He Leadeth Me. Next comes a real classic Red Foley's 1951 recording of Peace in the Valley. On September 19, 1968, Red Foley was doing a show in Fort Wayne, Indiana with Billy Walker and Hank Williams Jr. Billy Walker took the time they had together and share his faith in Christ. Red asked Billy, “Do you think God could ever forgive a sinner like me?” Billy told his friend, "Red, if God can forgive me, He can forgive you." The two then prayed together. Red ended that night's set with Peace in the Valley. After his set was over Red said to Billy, "Billy, I’ve never sung that song and feel the way I do tonight.” Later that night Red died in his sleep of respiratory failure. Hank Jr. would write a song about this last day entitled  I Was With Red Foley (The Night He Passed Away). This is followed by Sonny James with Be With Me Lord from his 1966 gospel album, Til the Last Leaf Shall Fall. Johnny Cash once asked Sonny James (when John was first starting out), how to live the life of an entertainer and still be a strong Christian. Sonny responded with "John the way I do it is by being the way I am. I am not just an entertainer who became a Christian. I am a Christian who chose to be an entertainer. I am first a Christian. Remember that what you are and the life you live sings louder than any song. And don't forget to pray." Next we join The Sons of the Pioneers with their 1946 recording of Cowboy Camp Meeting. This song was written by one of the group's founding members Tim Spencer. Next is Billy Cate singing God Must Have Been a Cowboy at Heart from his 2017 album, A Cowboy's Prayer. This is followed by singer, banjo player and first star of the Grand Old Opry, Uncle Dave Macon with his 1927 recording of Shall We Gather at the River. Today's musical selection ends with Johnny Cash and U2 with The Wanderer. This song was written by Bono in 1993 (under the working title The Preacher). The song was inspired by the book of Ecclesiastes, but takes place in a future time with a narrator who is worried about the lack of God in society. It is considered to be one of Bono's best songs, but for some reason whenever he tried to record it himself, it didn't work for him. Then he came up with the brilliant idea of having Johnny Cash sing the song (this idea came to Bono when he learned Johnny was going to be in Dublin). Bono would say that Johnny would teach him a lot about how to deliver a song like this during this recording section giving advice about how to put over each word effectively. Johnny told a reporter, "I don't know if it will ever be released or even what it's called." The song would be released on the U2 album, Zooropa  (one of U2's most experimental albums) and John would state that this song gave him a sense of artistic renewal.

The following is an episode of Gene Autry's Melody Ranch radio show, that aired July 26, 1942. 

Up next is C.S. Lewis reading his essay, Two Ways With the Self.

And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Luke 12:15

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.
Proverbs 11:24

Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor. Proverbs 22:9

In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty. Proverbs 14:23

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

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

For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure.
 John 3:34

Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. Colossians 3:11

Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt. Exodus 22:21

When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. Leviticus 19:33

Now the man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all the living. Genesis 3:20

 Do we not all have one father? Has not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously each against his brother so as to profane the covenant of our fathers? Malachi 2:10

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3

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 5:24

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

This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. 1 Timothy 2:3-6 

 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name's sake. I am writing to you, fathers,
    because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children,  because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men,  because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life.  I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him. And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him. 1 John 2:1-29

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

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Some Cartoons For Saturday Morning #138

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

Today's cartoon selection begins with a true Mickey Mouse classic, Thru the Mirror (1936). Well before the Disney Studios feature length adaption of Alice in Wonderland (1951), this short film adapts Lewis Carrol's Alice Through the Looking Glass. It is a very loose adaption, but it captures the spirit better than most feature length versions of Carrol's Alice books do. I have always loved Disney cartoons that or not afraid to be silly. This is one of the perfect examples of that. One of the highlights is a sequence with Mickey do a Fred Astaire type dance which was animated by Dick Lundy, who specialized in dancing animation. Dick Lundy would later direct some great cartoons for Walter Lantz and MGM. Elements of this movie would play a major role in the video game Epic Mickey.

Motion Picture Herald, 1933

Next we join Sylvester and Tweety in Tweet Zoo (1957). Director Friz Freleng once said about Tweety, "I made him look more like a charming baby, with a bigger head and big blue eyes. He's a canary because we say he's a canary … He doesn't look like a canary. We didn't have time to develop characters. When you see Yosemite Sam, you know he's a villain, when you see Tweety the audience is sympathetic."
Next up comes a masterpiece of a Silly Symphony, The Flying Mouse (1934). This cartoon perfectly shows how advanced the filmmaking from the Disney staff was by this time. While these cartoons are not stylized in the way later UPA cartoons were, the filmmaker how to use bits of stylization to help tell the story. For instance watch how the color of certain scenes changes to fit the mood. These colors are obviously not used for realism but rather to get us involved in the emotion of the story. Here in 1934, they accomplished a feat similar to the ones UPA was praised for in the 1950's but since the filmmaking does not call attention to itself here, it has easily gone unnoticed by many. However this subtlety shows just how sophisticated these cartoons are. It did not hurt that an excellent group of animators worked on this movie. Mickey Mouse specialist, Fred Moore, animated this more realistic mouse in the scenes in which he interacts with the fairy and looks at his reflection in the pond. Ben Sharpsteen (later the supervising director for such features as Pinocchio (1940) and Bambi (1942)) animates the dramatic scene of the mouse escaping from the cave. Ham Luske (the first animator Walt Disney cast for the feature length Snow White) animates the mouse being spanked, seeing the butterfly and the scene with the bats. In 1939-40, there were plans to release shot for shot remakes of earlier Disney shorts including this one, but most of them were abandoned.
Now it is time for a commercial break.
Up next is Magoo's Three Point Landing (1958). Mr. Magoo is a character who has often been overlooked by animation fans, many of who dismiss his films. However when one looks at his filmography, there are some true gems there. This may not be his best short, but it is quite delightful in its own right. I like Magoo best when he is purely a grumpy old man. He is not funny because he can't see, but because he is too stubborn to admit it. That is perfectly the case here. While more limited than the Disney cartoons discussed earlier, the animators bring some fine acting within that limited animation. Maurie Faigin animates the opening scene. Ed Freidman animates a lengthy scene (which is also one of the movie's highlights) were Magoo hitchhikes. Barney Posner also gets some great scenes animating Magoo driving through the airplane garage and arguing with the people therein, as well as the two pilots. Speaking of the two pilots notice that one is named Sully and is known for his "emergency landings." One of them also is voiced by Daws Butler doing a voice that sounds like The Huckleberry Hound Show's Mr. Jinx.
Next is Roland and Ratfink in Robin Goodhood (1970).
Now for one of The Fleischer Studios' silent Out of the Inkwell cartoons, Ko-Ko's Queen (1926). This movie like many others in the series, combines live action and animation. Ko-Ko's live action creator is played by producer Max Fleischer who proved in these shorts to be a fairly good silent comedy actor. This movie is filled with all the imagination and clever gags that fans of the Fleischers have come to except from their cartoons.
Today's cartoon selection ends with an entire episode of TV's Linus the Lionhearted.
Resources Used Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse: The Ultimate History by J.B. Kaufman and David Gerstein Walt Disney's Silly Symphonies: A Companion to the Classic Cartoon Series by Russell Merritt and J.B. Kaufman "I Tawt I Taw A Puddy Tat": Fifty Years of Sylvester and Tweety by Jerry Beck

Friday, August 27, 2021

Movie Review: Un rescate de huevitos


Michael's Movie Grade: C

An enjoyable little animated comedy from Mexico. 

To anyone familiar with animated movies, this film will feel incredibly familiar. The story of a father animal looking for his children who are in the hands of dangerous humans closely resembles that of Finding Nemo and many other animated feature films. Still there is a reason why stories become clichés and that is because they work and the story works pretty well here. Both the parents and the kids are likable and easy to root for. Because of this you care about what happens in the story. The villains are over the top enough to be fun, while still being threatening enough to serve their part in the story well. The action scenes (while nothing that will keep you on the edge of your seat) are fun and quite effective. While I doubt this film will make any of you cry, the more emotional parts of the movie hit surprisingly well.   

This movie unfortunately falls into the trap that too many family films do, constantly throwing jokes at the audience for a feature length story. While this approach can work, more often than not it proves to be a fault. It is truly difficult to be constantly funny in a feature film and that was why even the feature films with comedy teams like Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello and The Three Stooges had romantic subplots and songs. Because of this for every joke that works here (and there are quite a few), there are multiple ones that fall flat. Still that does not take away that there are times when the movie is truly funny. 

The worst part of the movie is that many of the side characters seem to be relegated to being one joke characters and for some of them that joke isn't even funny. This movie can also be pretty heavy handed when it comes to the film's message.

This is not a great movie by any means but it does provide a fun trip to the movies. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Roy Rogers' Little Buck-arina

 The following is a 1943 article from Movieland magazine. If you have any trouble reading, click on the pages and use your touch screen to zoom in. If that doesn't work click here.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Movie Review: Reminiscence


Michael's Movie Grade: C+

A pretty good but far from great Neo-Noir.

The best thing about this movie is the sci-fi world in which it takes place. It is clear the filmmakers put a lot of thought and effort into this world. While it certainly shows echoes from worlds in other sci-fi movies, there is enough here to make the world feel like its own. This world is very cleverly thought out and even upstages the film's story at times. Not only is it creative but it looks beautiful, making this film a joy to look at. The story itself is a rather typical film-noir story and there is nothing that we haven't seen before. However while lacking the depth of the best film-noir inspired stories it does its job quite well. We become emotionally attached enough to care and want to see what happens next. Because of this the film never bores, even when its faults are most evident. Adding to this is that there are some plot twists that are actually pretty clever and unexpected.  

The worst thing about this movie is the dialogue. There is a lot of clumsy dialogue that even great performances from the cast can't make work. This dialogue at best sounds forced and at worst pretentious. The narration is the worst contender giving the film an unneeded and unearned feeling of self importance. There is not enough depth here to make such dialogue necessary. This film also tries to insert commentary on contemporary  issues, but this commentary is never used well enough to make us think about these issues in a new light and can feel intrusive when brought up in dialogue.

This will not live up to the film-noirs of old, but it has enough to keep an audience entertained for its runtime.    


Sunday, August 22, 2021

Cowboy Church #133

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

Today's musical selection begins with Billy Cate singing Every Cowboy Knows There's a God Above. This song comes from his 2017 album, A Cowboy's Prayer. Next comes Johnny Cash with his self-penned My Children Walk in Truth. This song has an important message to all my fellow Christians. One of the most important things in any believer's life should be leading others to Christ or strengthening struggling  Christians. I hope and pray that I have done this with my life and that hopefully through my blog posts, God can speak to those who need to be spoken to. If this can be true than my life has been more than worthwhile. Yet if this happens, I know that it is not me doing it, but God doing it through me. Still just to play a part in God's master plan means everything to me. However it must be remembered that we not only speak to people through our words but our actions as well. Johnny Cash once said, "There's three different kinds of Christian. There's preaching Christians, church-playing Christians, and there's practicing Christians. I'm trying very hard to be a practicing Christian. If you take the words of Jesus literally and apply them to your everyday life, you discover that the greatest fulfillment you'll ever find really does lie in giving. That is why I do things like the prison concerts."  Next comes the Carter Family with their 1935 recording of Gospel Ship. This is followed by The Sons of the Pioneers with their 1941 recording, What Wonderful Joy. This song has a simple but very true message for each of us. While Christianity does tell us how to live our lives it should not be simply some rigid rules to follow but something that should give us true joy beyond anything the world could ever offer. After all we as Christians are incredibly blessed and one day will be able to spend entirety with God in heaven and there we will know joy beyond anything we can understand right now.  Following is Sonny James with How Great Thou Art. Around 1886 Swedish pastor, Carl Boberg is said to have been caught in a violent thunderstorm. When soon after he saw the sun return and birds singing, he fell to his knees in amazement of God's incredible majesty. He then wrote the words to this song as a poem. Supposedly serval years later he was surprised to hear a congregation singing his poem to an old Swedish folk melody. Its first English translation was in 1925 by E. Gustav Johnson. However this version simply never caught on and has faded into obscurity. In 1927 it received a Russian version by Ivan S. Prokhanoff. This version inspired English missionary Stuart K. Hine, who began writing his own version. When Hine returned back to England in 1939, he brought this song with him and it is this version that we know so well today. The hymn reached a new popularity with Billy Graham's crusades. George Beverly Shea later remembered, "We first sang in the Toronto, Canada, Crusade of 1955. Cliff Barrows and his large volunteer choir assisted in the majestic refrains. Soon after, we used it in the ‘Hour of Decision’ [radio broadcasts] and in American crusades. In the New York meetings of 1957 the choir joined me in singing it ninety-three times!" This version of the song comes Sonny's 1966 gospel album Till The Last Leaf Shall Fall. Up next is Hank Snow with his 1951 recording of the simply titled Pray. Today's musical selection ends with a real classic, Hank Williams singing, I Saw the Light. Hank wrote this song as he was heading home from a dance in Fort Deposit, Alabama. His mother was driving him home and told her son "Hank, wake up, we're nearly home. I just saw the light" (she was referring to the light near Dannelly Field Airport). Hank wrote the song on the rest of the way home. The song melody-wise strongly resembles Albert E. Brumley's He Set Me Free, but I Saw the Light has certainly taken on a life of its own apart from the earlier song, heavily through the powerful and inspiring lyrics that do what Hank did best as a songwriter, convey something powerful and moving in a way that seems so simple and unpretentious. Hank recorded this song on his first MGM recording session (April 21, 1947). However even though he was the first to record this song, his version was not the first released. Producer Fred Rose gave it to two other singers (Clyde Grubbs and Roy Acuff), both of whom had their versions released before Hank.

Up next is a 1945 episode of Roy Rogers' radio show. 

Here is C.S. Lewis' essay, What Are We to Make of Jesus Christ

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

He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. Acts 16:30-33

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

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

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

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:28-31

Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways. Proverbs 3:31

Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil. Proverbs 4:27

Treasures of wickedness profit nothing: but righteousness delivereth from death. Proverbs 10:2

 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. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 

 But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD. Joshua 24:15

Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends. Proverbs 17:9

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13

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

Resources Used

The Man Called Cash by Steve Turner

Liner notes for the Hank Williams boxset, The Complete Mother's Best Recordings

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Some Cartoons For Saturday Morning #137

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

Our cartoon selection begins with Sylvester and Tweety in Catty Cornered (1953). In this cartoon Tweety is kidnapped by gangster Rocky. Rocky was a character who was only used by director Friz Freleng. He had earlier been the villain in the Daffy Duck cartoon, Golden Yeggs (1950). Most cartoon fans associate Rocky with his dumb partner in crime Mugsy. However this cartoon was made before the character was created. Mugsy first appeared in Bugs and Thugs (1954). This short would later be edited into the feature-length compilation film,  The Looney Looney Looney Bugs Bunny Movie (1981). 

Up next is the last theatrical cartoon short from Tex Avery, Sh-h-h-h-h-h (1955). This short was made for the Walter Lantz studio. Tex had been an animator for this studio in the 1930's before he began directing. After an incredible stint of directing classic cartoons for MGM, he returned to Lantz in the late 1950's as a director. Though he did not direct many cartoons for Lantz at this time the ones he did direct were excellent. This movie uses audio from a 1923 novelty record, OKeh Laughing Record.

Next up we join our good friend, Betty in Betty Boop's Museum (1932). The following is an exhibitor's review from the Motion Picture Herald, "BETTY BOOP'S MUSEUM: Talkartoons—A pretty good little cartoon. Some fine music while the skeletons perform.—Erma L. Raeburn, Arcade Theatre, Newell, S. D. Family and General Patronage." A review in The Film Daily states, "This one is up to Max Fleischer's standard." 

Up next is the Columbia Color Rhapsody cartoon, Cinderella Goes to a Party (1942). A review in the Showman's Trade Review called this film, "Only Fair." The following is an exhibitor's review from The Motion Picture, "CINDERELLA GOES TO A PARTY: Cartoon- Clever burlesque of the Cinderella story; one of the best cartoons from Columbia this season." The movie would be re-issued to theaters in 1952. 

Motion Picture Herald, 1934

Up next is the Looney Tunes cartoon, 3 Ring Wing-Ding (1968). This movie features Cool Cat, one of the last characters to come out of Looney Tunes original theatrical run and his archenemies Colonel Rimfire. Cool Cat will be familiar to fans of the TV series, Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries, as he made brief cameos in many episodes. He and Colonel Rimfire can also be seen in the feature length direct to video movie, Tweety's High Flying Adventure (2000). 

The Film Daily, 1936

Next comes an episode of Filmation's TV Justice League cartoon, Bad Day on Black Mountain (1967).

Today's cartoon selection ends with one of the all time great Disney cartoon shorts, Clock Cleaners (1937). The original plan for this movie was quite different from the finished film. In the original outline, Mickey, Donald and Goofy had their own clock repair business where they advertised that they could clean any clock for only one dollar. When Pete hears of this he makes them an offer, they accept only to find out that the clock Pete was talking about was at the top of a tower. This movie does away with all that exposition and instead starts with our heroes atop the tower cleaning the clock. In many ways this short is a thrill comedy of the type that was popular in the silent era (most famously with Harold Lloyd's feature length Safety Last (1923)). This influence is especially felt during the scenes in which Goofy walks dazed after being hit. That scenes is heavily animated by Wolfgang Reitherman. Reitherman was one of Walt Disney's Nine Old Men and excelled at fast paced action scenes (something that can be seen to full advantage with the Monstro the Whale scenes in Pinocchio (1940), as well as the fight with the rat in Lady and the Tramp (1955)). He would later become a director of animated feature films including The Jungle Book (1967), The Aristocats (1970), Robin Hood (1973), and The Rescuers (1977). The following is an Exhibitor's review from the Motion Picture Herald, "CLOCK CLEANERS, THE: Mickey Mouse—Excel- lent. One of the best series of shorts on the market. If you advertise your shorts heavy and take pride in showing them, by all means book in this series." This movie received the number 27 spot in Jerry Beck's book, The 50 Greatest Cartoons

The Film Daily, 1937

Thanks for joining me come back next week for another selection of classic cartoons. Until then may all your tunes be looney and your melodies merry. 

Resources Used

The 50 Greatest Cartoons Edited by Jerry Beck.

Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse: The Ultimate History by J.B. Kaufman and David Gerstein




Friday, August 20, 2021

Movie Review: The Protégé


Michael's Movie Grade: B-

An effective thriller helped by good action scenes and great performances. 

This movie may not offer us anything new or different but it does a darn good job given audiences just what they would want from a film like this. Director Martin Campbell (GoldenEye (1995), The Legend of Zorro (2005),  Casino Royale (2006), Green Lantern (2011)) certainly knows his way around an action scene as he shows to great effect here. The action scenes are excellent. They are full of all the energy violence and suspense that one could possibly want. They are perfectly choreographed and paced as well. The cast is also excellent here. Maggie Q. is very impressive and more than holds her own with the likes of Samuel L. Jackson and Michael Keaton. Her and Keaton have great chemistry and the scenes they share are in many ways the highlight of this movie. They play killers who are both out to kill each other but find a strong sexual attraction between them. The mixture of violence and flirting is handled extremely well. Samuel L. Jackson has a smaller role than one might except (though still not a tiny role of course) but being himself he makes the best of every second he is on screen. 

The storyline is pretty slight, which is fine as not every storyline needs to be something huge. However because of this when the film needs to turn serious, it rings a little hollow. Certain scenes do not have the emotional impact they should. Also whenever the film tries to examine the moral implications of the characters lives, it is less than effective. Adding to this is that the flashbacks to our main character as a little girl can feel like padding. 

This is by no means anything groundbreaking but it still provides its audience with what they want.    

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Strange History of Boris Karloff

 The following is an article from a 1933 issue of Modern Screen Magazine. If you have any trouble reading click on the pages and use your touch screen to zoom in. If that still doesn't work for you click here.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Cowboy Church #132

 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 Lead Me Gently Home, Father. This is followed by The Charlie Daniels Band with Softly and Tenderly. This hymn was written Will Lamartine Thompson. As well as writing gospel songs Thompson also wrote quite a few secular songs and parotic songs. When the songs he wrote were rejected by publishers he created his own company,  Will L. Thompson & Company. This company would not only publish music by sell musical instruments. Softly and Tenderly first appeared in 1880's Sparkling Gems, Nos. 1 and 2, a collection of songs from the company. This version of the song comes from CDB's 2001 gospel album, How Sweet the Sound. Unlike earlier Christian albums from the band, this album featured no original songs, instead relying on traditional gospel numbers. Next comes Kris Kristofferson with Burden of Freedom. This version of the song comes from Kris' 1972 album, Burden of Freedom. He would later make another version for his 2006 album, This Old Road. A year before Kris wrote this song he had responded to an alter call and this song and Why Me Lord were responses to what that spiritual experience, one that Kris himself admitted he didn't fully understand yet. Around this time a resurgence was happening with Christian music. A lot had happened in recent years and as many young people had turned to God, they brought along their own types of music, that meant something to them personally. Therefore much Christian music was no longer hymns but mire contemporary sounding music that payed tribute to God while reflecting the world these young Christians had grown up in. Johnny Cash would often play before these audiences as part of concerts mostly made up of the younger artists. Feeling it would be good for Kris to be in such an environment, John invited Kris and his wife Rita Coolidge to perform as well. Kris would play his own songs like Burden of Freedom or Why Me Lord. Yet Kris felt decidedly uncomfortable at these concerts. He would say about the experience, "I was singing songs, I thought were spiritual but people wanted to hear more songs specifically about Jesus. Eventually I had to tell John that I couldn't do these type of shows anymore I felt like a hypocrite."  Next comes Billy Cate with Christian Cowboy. This is followed by Dwight Yoakam and Ralph Stanley with Miner's Prayer. The music continues with Tennessee Ernie Ford singing I Love to Tell the Story.  When recovering from a sickness, Arabella Katherine Hankey wrote a poem about the life of Christ. This poem was broken into two parts the first being called The Story Wanted (published in January, 1866) and the second called The Story Told (published in November, 1866). I Love to Tell the Story comes from this second part. In 1869 William G. Fisher put this text to music and that is the version we know today. Still it is worth noting that Hankey wrote her own music for these words, but her music was seldom used and is now forgotten. Today's musical selection ends with The Purple Hulls with What a Friend We Have in Jesus. Despite being Joseph Medlicott Scriven's most famous composition,  when he made a collection of his writings entitled  Hymns and Other Verses it did not appear. It has been assumed that the reason for this is that he probably wrote it for his mother when she was sick and not for the public. It is believed that it is through his mother that the hymn reached the public. It first appeared in 1865's Social Hymns, Original and Selected credited as anonymous. 


Here is an episode of Roy Rogers' radio show. It guest stars Sara Berner (who did voices for quite a few Looney Tunes cartoons and appeared in live action in Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window (1954)). 

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 4:16

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:18

The LORD detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him. Proverbs 15:8

 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

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

Let the words of my mouth Meaning either his speech in common conversation, which should not be filthy and foolish, rotten and corrupt; but such as ministers grace to the hearer: or else his address to God, both in prayer and thanksgiving; and the meditation of my heart. Psalm 19:14

Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you. Jeremiah 32:17

Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always. 1 Chronicles 16:11

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Isaiah 40:29

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. Zephaniah 3:17

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


Saturday, August 14, 2021

Movie Review: Respect


                                                             Michael's Movie Grade: B+

                                    An excellent biopic.

                              I'll start this review off with the most obvious praise. The music is fantastic. There is a reason that Aretha Franklin's music is so revered, it is incredible music that moved audiences when first released and will continue to do so for as long as people continue to hear it. Though no one can replace Aretha, Jennifer Hudson does an incredible job with these songs and reminds us why we love them so much. Aretha Franklin personally picked Hudson to play this role and when you hear her perform these songs, you will quickly understand why. This is not to say that she is not impressive in the dramatic scenes, because she does a truly great job with them. However I must also give equal credit to child actress Skye Dakota Turner (in her film debut) who does a fantastic job playing Aretha as a young girl. She does not have an easy role to play here, but her performance captures the emotion of these scenes perfectly. What I also really appreciated about this movie is that the characters felt real. I admit to not being an expert on Aretha's personal life, so I don't know how much they are like the real people. Still I bought into the reality of these characters perfectly. The characters have both major faults and really likable traits as well instead of being the simple cardboard good or bad highlights they could be. After so many biopics which makes some people simple black and white villains or heroes, this is very refreshing. Many of the emotional moments in this film work quite well, and some are legitimately moving. 

Like many biopics, this movie does have the problem that you can not tell this whole story in one movie. Because of this certain elements can feel rushed or not fully played out (Aretha's involvement in the Civil Rights movement is a major example of this). The film can also jump from one element of the story to another with a real abrupt feeling. 

All in all this is an excellent if faulted biopic. 

Some Cartoons For Saturday Morning #136

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

Today's selection begins with The Grocery Boy (1932) starring Mickey Mouse. This is a sweet simple little cartoon of the type that the Disney studio excelled at. The movie is helped by some truly excellent character animation and a great cast of animators. David Hand (who would be the supervising director for Snow White (1937) and Bambi) animates the film's opening. Tom Palmer animates Mickey and Minnie on the phone, a long sequence that begins with Mickey and Pluto entering the house and ends with Minnie kissing a bump on Mickey's head and the closing moment. Ben Sharpsteen (who would be the supervising director for Pinocchio (1940) and Fantasia (1940)) animates Pluto pulling at the table as well as the statue falling on Mickey. Rudy Zamora animates Mickey and Pluto running to Minnie's house. Future Donald Duck director, Jack King animates Minnie stirring and Mickey shelling the peas. Les Clark (one of Walt's Nine Old Men and one of the studio's top Mickey animators) animates Mickey getting the stuffing out of the turkey. A review in Variety stated, "Nothing outstanding in this one, but a good example of the Disney product." The climatic ending of this cartoon would later be adapted for the Mickey Mouse newspaper comic strip.
Next comes Porky Pig in Meet John Doughboy (1941). This is very much a movie of its time. At this time the U.S.A. had yet to enter World War 2, yet it was very much excepted that we would join. Because of this a peace time draft was initiated. American films (often very patriotic) dealing with the draft became increasingly popular. Though this is technically a Porky Pig cartoon, Porky has little to do and simply serves to introduce the picture. This was something that director Bob Clampett was doing often around this point. Porky was still very much the star of Looney Tunes but Bob seemed disinterested in making cartoons revolving around the character at this time instead wanting to focus on other characters or make spot gag cartoons. Therefore using Porky in tiny inconsequential roles was the ideal way to make the cartoons he wanted while still using the series' star character.
While I personally strongly dislike many of the Filmation Studio's comedy cartoons (what they did to Tom and Jerry and Droopy is incredibly awful), I really like their superhero cartoons. True they are corny as all get out, but I have a special fondness for really corny superhero stories. Here is the first episode of the studio's TV cartoons starring The Flash, The Chemo-Creature (1967). Worried about bad guys taking over. Don't worry The Flash will be there in a flash.
Stephan Bosustow, cartoon producer and one of the founders of the UPA studio (home of Mr. Magoo and Gerald McBoing Boing) had a strong interest in creating an animated feature film based on the work of writer James Thurber. However he could not get the funding for this, so he asked UPA director William T. Hurtz to adapt one of Thurber's stories as an animated short film. Hurtz took this idea very seriously and studied nearly every drawing Thurber made. The result was A Unicorn in the Garden (1953). Bosustow was reportedly disappointed with the end result. Because of this he refused to submit the movie for consideration for an Academy Award and changed plans for the studio's first feature to one starring Mr. Magoo. Cartoon fans certainly aren't disappointed by the result. This movie is not only beloved by cartoon fans but received the 48th spot in Jerry Beck's book, The 50 Greatest Cartoons.

Now it is time for a commercial break.
Next comes a great Fleischer Brother's Talkartoon, The Grand Uproar (1930). This movie has everything you could want out of a Fleischer cartoon, lots of weird bizarre gags that are filled with the creativity that makes their Betty Boop and Popeye cartoons so beloved. If the mice characters look a bit like Mickey and Minnie, it should be noted that nearly every studio was doing this at this time.

Next comes The Inspector in Cock-A-Doodle Deux Deux (1966).

Now let us end with a song.

-Mchael J. Ruhland Resources Used The 50 Greatest Cartoons edited by Jerry Beck Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse: The Ultimate History by J.B. Kaufman and David Gerstein