Thursday, September 30, 2021

Movie Review: Addams Family 2

Michael's Movie Grade: B

A fast paced and fun feature length cartoon and a sequel that is better than the original. 

It is often times thought that when an animated film is going to be feature length, that it needs to be more than simply a cartoon. This movie has no such pretentions and that is precisely what makes it so delightful. It is instead only concerned about being fun and that is exactly what this movie is. There are gags a plenty and they come at such a fast pace that even the ones that miss still add to overall feel and momentum of the film. The gags are anything but subtle, instead they are completely silly and embrace the fact that this movie is a cartoon. Quite a few of the jokes are also pretty darn funny in their over the top silliness. Wednesday's various tortures for Pugsly, the fact that none of the family could realize what was wrong with Uncle Fester, Gomez's ridiculously fake Texan accent and even a reference to the Donner Party put a big smile on my face. At the same time the basic storyline is pretty good and manages not to ever feel like it is taking a backseat to the pure cartoon humor. The story may be very predictable but I found myself connecting with and relating to Gomez and Wednesday, both of whom are also very likable here. 

On the downside, just like in the first movie, the designs for the normal regular people are quite unappealing and simply feel off. This movie also tries too hard to be hip and modern. From the music choices to background characters whose dialogue tries too hard to sound like what the cool kids are saying, this can be felt. 

All in all this is just a fun movie that should delight cartoon fans. 

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Happy National Silent Movie Day

 Hello my friends, today is an important day for all of us, National Silent Movie Day. This is a day dedicated to all things silent film related, so naturally it will have to be celebrated on this blog.

Probably no face is more associated with silent movies than Charlie Chaplin. At the time, he was referred to as "The Funniest Man in the Movies" and this might still be true. His films are just as delightful, entertaining and magical as they were back then. 

If anyone can make me laugh as much as Charlie Chaplin, it would be Laurel and Hardy.

To me Buster Keaton's One Week (1920) is one of the finest short comedies ever made.

Though best known for big scale and long length epics like Birth of a Nation (1915) and Intolerance (1916), some of D.W. Griffith's best movies are the short films he made for Biograph. 

Oscar Micheaux has gained fame among movie buffs for being one of the first black filmmakers in America. He was truly a master of his craft.

Lately I have been really enjoying watching John Bunny's comedy shorts.

I really love this video made by TCM.

Of course when you talk about silent movies, Georges Méliès has to be included.

Of course silent movies include cartoons too. 

If you were to ask me who my celebrity crush is, the answer will always be Mabel Normand.

Next is a pair of comedy shorts, one starring Lloyd Hamilton and one starring Harold Lloyd. 

It feels right to end this post with a full feature length film. 

Monday, September 27, 2021

Movie Review: Dear Evan Hansen


Michael's Movie Grade: C

This movie's heart is in the right place and that can be felt even underneath its major faults. 

What works best about this movie is the main character and what he is going through. He is instantly likable and relatable. While at first I was afraid he was simply going to come off as a caricature of those with anxiety, rather than a real human being. Yet as the film moved on and he began to put more of himself on display, he began to feel more and more like a real person and it became easy to identify with him and hope that everything would work out. The supporting characters may not be extremely devolped but they are likable and easy to relate to. This movie also addresses a serious and unpleasant subject matter. While this is not done perfectly, it is never done in a patronizing way. It treats its audience with resect and never talks down to them or diminishes the seriousness of the subject matter. True there is some forced dialogue and scenes that don't work, but even in these scenes the heart is obviously in the right place and I have to respect that. There are also a few scenes that hit their emotional marks well and those scenes are worth sitting through the ones that don't work.

Unfortunately this movie has some major faults. One is the film's use of songs, which is obviously a major problem when the movie is a musical. The main problem with the songs isn't the songs themselves but the lack of any transition before the song. The best musicals make the characters singing seem like the most natural thing in the world. In this film the songs come out of nowhere. The characters are simply having an everyday conversation when all the sudden one of them begins singing. This immediately takes you out of the story and is simply very distracting. Another problem with the songs is that they are too similar. This creates a repetitive feeling and also does not allow any song to truly stand out. This is a shame because they are not bad songs. The music is pleasant and some of the lyrics are quite good. Two other major faults are how predictable the story is and how long the movie is. Anyone who has seen a movie before, will know what has to happen eventually. Unfortunately this film takes forever to get to that part. There are times when it can really drag and leave you wanting them to get to this unavoidable plot point. This can cause impatience which is never a good thing in a movie. There are also quite a few scenes which could have been left on the cutting room floor and made for a tighter film.  Despite these faults though this is still a good hearted movie that doesn't talk down to its audience.


Sunday, September 26, 2021

Cowboy Church #138

 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 Leaning on the Everlasting Arms. This hymn began creation with a man named Anthony Showalter. As a fan of gospel music and an elder in a Presbyterian church, he held many "singing schools" at various churches in the south. One day he received two letters from former students who were struggling after their wives had passed. To respond to these letters, Showalter consulted scripture. He came across Deuteronomy 33:27, "The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms." After reading this verse lyrics for a song chorus went through his head and he wrote down, "“Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms; Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.” After using this in the letters to his former students he sent this chorus to his friend hymnist, Elisha Hoffman. In the letter he also wrote, “Here is the chorus for a good hymn from Deuteronomy 33:27, but I can’t come up with the verses.” Hoffman then wrote the rest of the lyrics to which Showalter put to music. The hymn was published in 1887. Up next is Johnny Cash with I Shall Not Be Moved. In the liner notes for the Unearthed box set, John states about this recording, "It's the same song as the black gospel song, We Shall Not Be Moved. I guess mine steams from the white church, the church I was raised in, but that's not something I ever thought about. As a boy I would hear these songs at church or on the radio, and radio was wonderful back then. It played everything - The Louvin Brothers, The Carter Family, Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Sometimes there might be a morning show where it was all country - or hillbilly as they called it then - but otherwise the music was all mixed up. And the black station played what they called 'race music' all day and night. Radio was my lifeline. I was always the one in the family running the radio and getting the stations and finding the songs that I wanted to hear coming over the air, and I was the one singing along."  Next comes Hank Williams Jr. singing one of his dad's best gospel songs, House of Gold. This recording comes from Hank Jr's 1969 gospel album, Sunday Morning. Next comes a (sadly low quality) 1960 recording of Bob Dylan singing Jesus Christ. This song was written by Woody Guthrie, who at this time was very much Bob Dylan's hero. This becomes clear when you listen to Bob's vocal performance where he tries to sound as much like Woody as possible. This is followed with Billy Cate singing The Place Where I Worship. This recording comes from his 2017 gospel album, A Cowboy's Prayer. Next is Leadbelly singing a medley of Every Time I Feel The Spirit, Swing Low Sweet Chariot and They Hung Him on the Cross. Afterwards comes Roy Rogers and Dale Evans with Open Up Your Heart (And Let The Sunshine In). This song was written by cowboy music legend, Stuart Hamblen (This Ole House, It Is No Secret What God Can Do, The Lord is Counting on You). Hamblen had acted in the Roy Rogers film, The Arizona Kid (1939) before Roy recorded any of his songs. Cartoon fans might recognize this song from its use in The Flintstones episode,  No Biz Like Show Biz (1965), where Pebbles and Bam Bam sang it. Roy and Dale's version of the song comes from a 1954, Little Golden Record. Today's musical selection ends with The Charlie Daniels Band, Awesome God

Next is an episode of Gene Autry's Melody Ranch radio show (that aired January 29, 1956).

Next is Billy Graham on The Johnny Cash Show.

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

I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it. Ezra 10:4

In all the work you are doing, work the best you can. Work like you are working for the Lord, not for people. Colossians 3:23

We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1

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

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14

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

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27

And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 1 John 3:23

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,  who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. Micah 5:2

And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls. Joel 2:32

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

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Some Cartoons For Saturday Morning #142

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

Mickey’s Fire Brigade (1935) teams up Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy for the second time (and the first time in color). This time they were firemen. Walt had earlier used the idea of firefighters for slapstick comedy with the silent Alice Comedy Alice the Firefighter (1926) and the Mickey Mouse cartoon The Firefighters (1930). This cartoon opens on a fantastic note. The title of the film appears on screen like an average Disney cartoon of this time. However soon a fire burns the title letting the cartoon officially start. This imaginative opening sets us up perfectly for the great cartoon we are about to watch. Though Art Babbitt did not animate on this cartoon the personality he had already injected into Goofy can be seen here. This is especially true of a scene where Goofy tries to throw things out of the window (animated by Woolie Reitherman) and a scene where he tries to tell Clarabelle Cow her house is on fire (animated by Bill Tytla). In this film Clarabelle Cow spends most of the time taking a bath unaware of the fire around her. However, she is very upset by “peeping toms” Mickey, Donald and Goofy, who of course are just trying to tell her about the fire. Her animation is mostly handled by Grim Natwick and Bill Tytla. There is of course some great slapstick humor in this short. Though the studio was doing much less gags involving long stretching or detachable body parts they were still doing quite a few impossible gags that can only be done in a cartoon. Such an example here has to do with the treatment of the fire itself. It is given human characteristic and often appears to be having its own thoughts and feelings. One of the best uses of this is when the fire chases Donald up a ladder and is seemingly taunting him along the way. The following is an exhibitor's review from the Motion Picture Herald, "Mickey's Fire Brigade: Mickey Mouse: One of the best of the Mickey Mouse series. Running time, eight minutes. -M.H. Harrington, Avalon Theatre, Clatskanie, Ore. Small Town and Rural patronage." A review in the Flim Daily stated, "This is one of the liveliest and funniest of the Walt Disney cartoon creations."

Next comes the third of The Dogfather films, Heist and Seek (1974). This film is a remake of the Bugs Bunny cartoon, Bugsy and Mugsy (1957) which was a remake of the Sylvester short, Stooge For a Mouse (1950). This cartoon also reworks the ending gag from the Bugs Bunny film, Bugs and Thugs (1954). 

Next comes the first star of the Looney Tunes Bosko in Bosko's Holiday (1931). Unlike later Looney Tunes character Bosko was human instead of a funny animal. However with the strive at the time to imamate Disney, he ended up resembling the funny animals that the other studios were doing. Once a porter asked animator Jack Zander about this character stating, "I want to ask you something about that character you've got. I know Mickey Mouse and Krazy Kat and Oswald the Rabbit … but Bosko the what?" 


Now we join The Three Stooges in What's Mew Pussycat (1965). This is one of the trio's The New Three Stooges TV cartoons, where they voiced themselves. 

Now it is time for a commercial break. 

Now for one of the all time great animated short films, Bambi Meets Godzilla (1969). This film came about because Marv Newland was unable to get a shot of a sunrise for a live action short he was making. Because of this he would turn and make this cartoon during the last two weeks of his semester at Art Center College of Design in Los Angles. This short became the first animated film to be produced at the school. The film was placed at #38 in Jerry Beck's book, The 50 Greatest Cartoons.

Now an important message for those of you who ride skateboards. 

Now we join Popeye in The House-Builder Upper (1938). 

In the mid-1960's Warner Brothers began to team up Daffy Duck and Speedy Gonzales for a series of cartoons were they were mostly adversaries. Up next is one of the best of these films (and one where Speedy plays a smaller role than usual), A Taste of Catnip (1965). 

Let us end this post with a song.

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

Resources Used

The 50 Greatest Cartoons Edited by Jerry Beck

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

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


Sunday, September 19, 2021

Cowboy Church #137

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

Today's musical selection begins with Roy Rogers and Dale Evans singing, In The Sweet Bye and Bye.  This song came about because of a friendship between composer, Joseph Webster and poet, Dr. Sanford Fillmore Bennett. One day Webster was depressed and Dr. Bennett recognized this. Dr. Bennett asked his friend what was wrong. Webster replied, "Oh nothing. Everything will be alright by and by." This words brought up an idea in Bennett and he wrote down three verses and a chorus to this song as soon as he could. He handed it to his friend saying, “Here is your prescription, Joe.” Webster loved the lyrics and wrote music for them in practically no time at all. Dr. Bennett later said,  “It was not over thirty minutes from the time I took my pen to write the words before two friends with Webster and myself were singing the hymn.” The hymn was first published in 1868 and went on to great fame since. This version of the song comes from Roy and Dale's 1973 gospel album, In the Sweet Bye and Bye. This is followed by Dennis Agajanian singing Outlaw. While Dennis Agajanian is not a household name (as he should be) he has sang and played on stage with such greats as Johnny Cash, The Charlie Daniels Band, Ricky Skaggs, Darius Rucker and Michael W. Smith. He was a close friend of Billy Graham and performed numerous times on his crusades as well. Up next is George Jones with Lord, You've Been Mighty Good Me. This song reminds us that no matter what troubles us at any time, we should still be thankful for all God has given to us, because he has blessed off with so much that we take for granted each and every day. Afterwards is Hank Williams Jr. with Wealth Won't Save Your Soul. The Hank we hear here is not the rowdy country-rock outlaw, we all know. Hank here sounds much more like his daddy (who also recorded this song) and like his father, he sings this gospel number with all his heart in the most moving way possible. This beautiful recording comes from Hank Jr.'s 1969 gospel album, Sunday Morning. Next is Willie Nelson 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. This is followed by the Sons of the Pioneers with their 1937 recording of Heavenly Airplane. This song was written by one of the group's founding members, Bob Nolan. Bob also sings lead on this song. Hugh Farr's fiddle playing is also especially excellent. The music continues with The Statesman Quartet with Cowboy Camp Meeting. Today's musical selection ends with Billy Cate with A Cowboy's Prayer. This was the title track of his 2017 gospel album. 

Up next is an episode of Gene Autry's Melody Ranch Radio Show that aired September 30, 1950.

Now is C.S. Lewis reading his essay, Good Work and Good Works.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 

The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; he is their stronghold in the time of trouble. Psalm 37:39

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

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

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:29

For thus the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, has said, “In repentance and rest you will be saved, in quietness and trust is your strength.” But you were not willing. Isaiah 30:15

Now in those days John the Baptist *came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 3:1-2

We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19

Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. 1 Timothy 5:8

My son, keep your father’s command and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. Proverbs 6:20

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

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Movie Review: Copshop


Michael's Movie Grade: C+

A fun action thriller with a dark sense of humor. 

The storyline of this movie may stretch the suspension of disbelief even for a film like this. To say it is over the top and silly is an understatement. In fact the movie knows this and even covers a major part of the exposition in a brief and rushed dialogue scene, so we don't have to think about it too much. Yet despite this the movie won me over through its corny charm. One thing that sets this apart from similar movies is its sense of humor. This film has a really offbeat and very dark sense of humor that is quite funny. This is probably most evident in the character of Anthony Lamb. This is a psychopathically killer, who enjoys his job and jokes around while doing it a lot. Toby Huss gives such an over the top but completely committed performance that it is hard not to enjoy watching it. This character cracked me up often and was certainly a highlight of the movie. Yet not only the great funny moments came from him. For comments about one character's man-bun to the incredibly cheesy but charming ending, there are quite a few moments that put a real smile on my face. The cast in this movie was excellent. Alexis Louder was especially good even stealing the scenes from actors like Gerald Butler and Frank Grillo. Her acting even makes some of the most ridiculous scenes kind of work dramatically. This film also benefits from plenty of atmosphere and a good sense of cinematic playfulness, which recalls 1970's movies and TV shows (this is perfectly captured in the extremely 70's opening credits). The characters themselves are nothing fantastic but they do their job well enough. Our protagonist is very likable and easy to root for. On the same level the bad guys are easy to hate, but fun to watch. 

Anyways this is a fun little movie, just don't think about it too much. 

Some Cartoons For Saturday Morning #141

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

Today's cartoon selection begins with one of my favorite early Bugs Bunny films, The Wabbit Who Came to Supper (1942). One of the things you will notice first about this cartoon is how the characters are drawn. Bugs will often go off model in a way you would never see in a later short (around 1944 this would come to an end). Elmer is also in his heavier set design. Bob Clampett had redesigned the character for his cartoon Wabbit Twouble (1941) and that design would stick for four more cartoons (including this one). The design was based off of Elmer's voice artist, Arthur Q. Bryan. Yet there is so much to enjoy about this cartoon that you won't care how the characters look. Director Friz Freleng is known for how perfectly he could time a gag and this is incredibly evident. There are also plenty of incredibly clever gags from writer Michael Maltese (who would go on to form a writer/director partnership with director Chuck Jones that would result in some of the funniest and most famous cartoons of all time). Many of these gags would take cartoon logic to ridiculous and hilarious extremes. A review in The Film Daily called this short, "Tremendously hilarious." A review in The Exhibitor stated, "This has many humorous moments, even if not ranking with the best of the B.B. series. However with that title and his popularity, this offers an opportunity." The following is an exhibitor's review from the Motion Picture Herald, "Wabbit Who Came to Supper: Merrie Melodies Cartoons- Good. This series is taking off fast. They are asking when we are having our next 'carrot eating rabbit.' - A.H. Goldson, Plaza Theatre, Chicago, Ill." 

Next we join the Pink Panther in Pink on the Cob (1969).

Next comes one of DePatie-Freleng's Dogfather cartoons, The Goose That Laid a Golden Egg (1974). By this time cartoons made for movie theaters were fading as TV was taking over the cartoon game. DePatie-Freleng was one of the few cartoon studios left that was keeping the animated short film alive. The Dogfather series were some of the cartoons that the studio was making for theatres at this time. This film is a remake of the Daffy Duck cartoon Golden Yeggs (1950), even reusing the exact same ending gag. It should no surprise that this film was written by Friz Freleng as he directed that earlier short. 

Up next is one of Walt Disney's silent Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoons, Africa Before Dark (1928). This film came out before Walt would start to solidify the bodies of his cartoon characters and stop using many of the impossible gags you see here. The short also moves at a fast speed offering gag after gag and many of them being very funny. Some of the gags from this film would later turn up in the Mickey Mouse comic strip (those strips would appear in newspapers January 29, 30 and 31st of 1930). These gags reused involve Oswald's encounter with a lion and an owl. The gag involving the flying elephant resembles a similar joke involving Pluto in the later Mickey Mouse cartoon, The Moose Hunt (1931). The gag of Oswald detaching his face was borrowed from one of Walt's earlier films, the Alice Comedy, Alice Gets Stung (1925). 

Now for a commercial break. 

Next comes the Terry-Toons cartoon, The Newcomer (1938). This film was directed by Mannie Davis. 


Sponsor, 1957

Next comes an especially great Silly Symphony from Disney, The Country Cousin (1936). Like many Disney films of this time this short is especially notable for its great animation. Some of the best Disney animators worked on this cartoon. Probally the one who has been singled out the most has been Art Babbitt for his excellent animation of the drunken mouse. This is appropriate because this animation is a highlight of the film. Still there is much more great animation to be found. In fact Cy Young's animation of the traffic montage was so good that the studio reused it later in the Mickey Mouse cartoon, Mickey's Delayed Date (1947).  The opening animation of the country mouse leaving for the city was by Milt Schaffer. Johnny Cannon animates the two mice meeting as well as the country mouse finding his way into a light socket and the film's ending. Marvin Woodward animates the scene with the mouse trap. Les Clark (a future member of Walt's nine old men and expert Mickey Mouse animator) gets to shine with his animation of of the mice on the table and the country mouse after eating hot mustard. Future Donald Duck director, Jack Hannah doesn't have much to animate in this film. He only animates the plates falling on the floor. Paul Allen animates the two mice parachuting and some of the action with the cat. This cartoon won the Academy Award for best animated short film. 

Today's cartoon selection ends with an episode of TV's Calvin and the Colonel

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

Resources Used

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.

Pink Panther: The Ultimate Guide to the Coolest Cat in Town! by Jerry Beck

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit: The Search For the Lost Disney Cartoons by David A. Bossert


Friday, September 17, 2021

Movie Review: Cry Macho


Michael's Movie Grade: A-

At 91 years old Clint Eastwood still proves himself to be a filmmaker and actor of the highest rank. 

It's not the destination it's the journey. This adage perfectly describes this movie. The storyline its self to be fair very slight. Not much actually happens over the course of this film. Yet despite this it still manages to be a great movie. It is the little moments in this film that make it work. The movie moves at a slower place and lets us truly spend time with the characters and the town they find themselves in. As we spend time with them we find many delightful and touching episodes. We fall in love with the old tavern that our two heroes find themselves in, we enjoy watching Clint's character take care of animals and help tame wild horses, we are charmed by them sleeping in a church and finding a lady leaving breakfast for them in the morning, we enjoy watching Clint's American cowboy fall in love with a small Mexican town and the people there. Most of all though we enjoy the relationship between our two main characters. To be honest there is nothing original about an old man who is hired to transport a young teenage boy and the two beginning a meaningful friendship. Yet I have seldom seen it done so well. The friendship feels completely believable, is never rushed and allows for some very touching moments. Despite his tough guy persona, Clint Eastwood has never been one to shy away from sentimentality in his films. While sentimentality may be frowned upon by many today, when it is done well, it can be truly effective and few can do it better than Clint. Here he uses that sentimentality to create something extremely charming and moving. 

There is also a lot to be said for Clint playing the main character. The director/actor has mostly stayed behind the camera in recent years, but he must have known this role shouldn't be played by anyone but him. Often times it is best to separate the actor and the character when watching a movie, but this is an exception. Clint Eastwood, who has played much of his younger days playing characters that were pure tough macho guys, is just right to play a character who used to be one of those type of characters he used to play. The character having grown older and wiser and seeing the problems with always having to be macho gains an extra poignancy by Clint playing the main role. Even at 91 he has lost none of his acting talent and he is truly great in this film.

This movie is a must see especially if you are a fan of the old man.  

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Movie Review: Small Engine Repair


Michael's Movie Grade: F

This may rank as one of the worst movies I had seen in a theater. 

This film is incredibly mean spirited, unpleasant and vulgar. Unfortunately these three things are all the movie is. If there was enough depth or social commentary behind all this perhaps it would be forgivable. There is not though.  As soon as we meet our main characters the problem becomes apparent. Their dialogue is completely made up of them cussing like sailors and talking too in depth about their sexual experiences. One gets the feeling that this is supposed to be funny and satirical. However there is nothing funny about anything they say. Instead this dialogue quickly becomes simply monotonous and annoying. So the fact that this is an especially dialogue heavy film does not help in the least. With this making up so much of the dialogue I found it impossible to relate to and nothing more than mean spirited male stereotypes. The problem with that is that when a character is nothing but a walking stereotype, he becomes hard to connect to enough to care about what happens. A simple stereotype can easily be a comic relief but is never capable of being a main character. At least there needs to be more to the character than the stereotypical elements. This becomes very clear when the film takes its dark and dramatic turn. After this point all we seem to be watching is terrible people doing terrible things to a terrible person. This is neither entertaining or thought provoking but just unpleasant. 

The film also suffers from a real sense of being stage bound. It is no surprise to learn this movie was based off a stage play. It feels much more like a stage play then it does a film and there is little to anything cinematic or visually interesting in this movie.

Avoid at all costs.

Video Link: Behind the Tunes - "Once Upon A Looney Tune"

Monday, September 13, 2021

Movie Review: The Alpinist


Michael's Movie Grade: B+

An excellent documentary about mountain climber, Marc-André Leclerc. 

As with any film about mountain climbing the most obvious praise is that the movie looks beautiful. There is a reason that these people are so drawn to places like these. They are incredible and awe inspiring to look at. While nothing compares with seeing them in person, they still look incredible on a movie screen (you really need to see this in a theater). This is reason enough to see the film, but it is not the only reason at all. 

This movie is just as much of a character study of its Marc-André as it is about mountain climbing. Luckily he is a fascinating person to watch. He is social awkward and never fully comfortable around the camera, but this only makes him come off as more genuine and natural. You never have any doubt that you are seeing the real deal in front of the camera. What is also fascinating is how he looks so confident, comfortable and calm on these incredibly dangerous climbs. Looking at him you would think that he is simply talking a walk around the block. It is impossible to watch this movie and not be a little envious of him and inspired by him. Yet at the same time the film does not hide his faults (including his past drug addiction) but talks about them openly and honestly without ever once taking away our respect for the guy. His relationships with his girlfriend, mother and even the filmmakers is fascinating to watch unfold as he has a quite different relationship with all of them. 

Still this movie can lose its focus at times as with when we get a brief history lesson about mountain climbing that interrupts the story of our main character and focus. There are also times when various people being interviewed say essentially the same thing and that can feel a little repetitive.

Despite any faults this is an excellent documentary.  

Movie Review: Show Me the Father


Michael's Movie Grade: B+

A heartfelt and movie documentary and one of the Kendrick Brothers' most mature movies. 

One thing that can not be denied when talking about this film is that it is an open, honest and heartfelt movie. The people talking here are truly pouring their hearts out in front of the camera and the sincerity can even be felt by the largest of cynics. The premise behind this film at first seems like it might be too loose but it works perfectly, because this movie handles it so well. The film talks about the relationship various people have had with fathers in their lives and uses it as a way to illustrate how God is a perfect father. Some of these relationships with fathers are close and admiring, others are distant or non-existent, while others still are cold and strict. These differences are perfectly used to illustrate God's love. The loving fatherhoods are shown in how they can give us an earthly glimpse of God's love, while the less perfect are shown in how God can be more than enough of a father for those who never felt the fatherly love they desired here on earth. This is handled intelligently and in a way that feels genuine and heartfelt. 

Unfortunately this movie has too short of a runtime for the sheer amount of stories it tells and some of the stories simply can't get the time that others do or that they deserve. This is also far from one of the most visually interesting documentaries as most of the time we are simply watching people talk. You could close your eyes and get just as much from this film. However neither of these faults take away from just how sincere and heartfelt the movie is. 

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Short Film: Busy Bodies (1933)


Release Date: October, 7, 1933. Director: Lloyd French. Cast: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Tiny Sandford, Charlie Hall, Dick Gilbert. Producer: Hal Roach. Cinematographer: Art Lloyd. Editor: Bet Jordon. 

The following is an Exhibitor's Review from the Motion Picture Herald.

"Busy Bodies: Laurel and Hardy - Very good. One of their best. Lots of good laughs. Running Time, 2 reels. - Mr. and Mrs. Wilfred Rancine, Ideal Theatre, Burns, Oregon, Small Town Patronage." 

Photoplay, 1933


The Film Daily, 1934

Cowboy Church #136

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

Today's musical selection begins with the title song of Mac Powell's new album, River of Life. I have long been a fan of Third Day and it was a sad day when they decided to say farewell. Yet I am very happy that Mac Powell's solo work so far has been excellent and this song is no exception. Up next is the Sons of the Pioneers with their 1937 recording of What You Gonna Say to Peter. This song was written by Bob Nolan, one of the founding members of the band and one of my favorite songwriters. Bob also sings lead on this song. Hugh Farr's fiddle playing is especially excellent on this recording. This is followed by George Jones singing Lilly of the Valley. When Charles Fry wrote this hymn, he was inspired by The Song of Solomon, especially the following, “‘I am the rose of Sharon, the lily of the valleys.’ Like a lily among the thorns, so is my darling among the maidens. Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men. In his shade I took great delight and sat down…He has brought me to his banquet hall, and his banner over me is love.” Song of Solomon 2:1-4. After he read these words he began to write about his relationship with Jesus and what he wrote would become this hymn. It was first published in an issue of the Salvation Army's magazine The War Cry, dated December, 29, 1881. This recording comes George's 1966 gospel album, Old Brush Arbors. Next is Marty Robbins with Have Thine Own Way Lord. This hymn was written by Adelaide A. Pollard. It was partly inspired by how in 1902, she heard an old woman praying at a prayer meeting, "It really doesn't matter what you do with us, Lord -- just have your way with our lives." Adelaide wanted to be a missionary in Africa, but this was not happening as quickly as she would have hoped it would happen. Not long before writing this song, she tried to raise funds to go to Africa but this proved not as successful as she had hoped. This lead her to follow into what she called a "distress of soul." It was then that she attended this prayer meeting, heard that prayer and wrote this hymn. She eventually did become a missionary in Africa, even if it was only for a brief time. Next is Charley Pride with Little Delta Church from his 1976 gospel album, Sunday Morning With Charley Pride. Today's musical selection ends with Roy Rogers with A Cowboy's Sunday Prayer from his and Dale Evans' 1959 album, Jesus Loves Me.

Up next is the short film, The Making of Broncho Billy (1913). 

Here is C.S. Lewis reading his essay, Meditation on the Third Commandment.

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. Romans 10:9

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. Romans 6:14

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

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

But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. James 2:18

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned." Mark 16:15-16

For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. Romans 3:20

Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Colossians 3:16

“Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker— An earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth!
Will the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you doing?’ or the thing you are making say, ‘He has no hands’? “Woe to him who says to a father, ‘What are you begetting?’ Or to a woman, ‘To what are you giving birth?’” Thus says the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker: “Ask Me about the things to come concerning My sons, And you shall commit to Me the work of My hands." Isaiah 45:9-11

 He was also driven away from mankind, and his heart was made like that of beasts, and his dwelling place was with the wild donkeys. He was given grass to eat like cattle, and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven until he recognized that the Most High God is ruler over the realm of mankind and that He sets over it whomever He wishes. Daniel 5:21

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

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. Corinthians 10:13

Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. Hebrews 2:18

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

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

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

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 1 Timothy 1:12

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

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

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Movie Review: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings


Michael's Movie Grade: A-

A top notch Marvel movie that holds its own with the best films of the franchise.

If Black Widow was a return to the type of MCU stories I love, then this film goes beyond that by being just as good as the best of Marvel. This movie has a small scale and self contained storyline that functions extremely well on its own, but at the same time ties into the main storyline perfectly. Tie-ins  to Iron Man 3, Infinity War, Endgame and Doctor Strange make perfect sense even to someone that hasn't seen those films and never makes the story feel like just another episode of the larger story. Yet it perfectly complements these movies' stories (and in the case of Iron Man 3 adds much to) and gets us excited about what will come next. 

Of course the action scenes are fantastic. They perfectly combine the art of kung-fu movies with the big budget large scale action scenes that the MCU is known for. The action scenes are also extremely well paced and never drag or feel rushed. There is also quite a bit of comedy and drama present in these action scenes which is handled very well and keeps the action from become monotonous. Most of the best MCU films have a great sense of humor and this movie is no exception. Awkwafina has proven herself to be a very good comedic actress and she is in top form here. Her comic delivery is spot on and she delivers plenty of great laughs. Yet she does this without ever going to over the top to make her character a joke and let us take her seriously when we need to. The other comedic standout in this film is Ben Kingsley doing a fantastic job reprising his role from Iron Man 3. While his character is not called upon to do much dramatic, his comedy scenes are perfect and get some of the best laughs in the movie. 

The characters are excellent. Shang-Chi  (Sumi Lui) and Katy's (Awkwafina) friendship is surprisingly quite sweet and warm. Honestly I would watch a movie that is just these two characters hanging out, that is how much I love them together. This is perfectly helped by the sheer chemistry between the two actors. It is great to see such a close friendship (that does not develop into a romance) handled so perfectly in a Hollywood movie, and I wish I could see more of that. This film also contains one of the MCU's best villains to date (Tony Leung). This is not a simple cut and paste villain but one who has a lot more going on. He is clearly a villain but yet at the same time we can relate to and even almost feel sorry for him at times. Despite this he never becomes a "misunderstood good guy" or someone who are supposed to wonder whether he was such a bad guy. To walk this tight rope so well shows really good writing and a great performance.

If you are a fan of the MCU, this is a real must see. 

Some Cartoons For Saturday Morning #140

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

Today's cartoon selection begins with one of the Fleischer Brothers' Superman films, The Mechanical Monsters (1941). In 1940 Paramount bought the movie rights to the Superman character. They approached the Fleischer Brothers about making a series of short films starring the character. The Fleischer Brothers were initially skeptical about this feeling that this was far from what they had done previously. The studio was best known for making over the top comedy shorts like the Betty Boop and Popeye cartoons. To make cartoons that were more serious and action oriented would provide quite a challenge.  They also knew that these films would require higher budgets. Paramount luckily gave them the higher budgets. The first cartoon only had a budget of $100,000. That was four times the budget for a Popeye short. Though there has been plenty of good Superman animation since, cartoons fans still consider the Fleischer cartoons to be the definitive animated Superman and for good reason. A review in the Motion Picture Daily states, "The cartoon is cleverly done in color, is certainly exploitable and should bring results wherever the fantastic makes for entertainment."  

The Exhibitor, 1940

Up next we join Donald Duck in Trombone Trouble (1944). This is one of my favorite Donald Duck cartoons. The film begins with a typical cartoon storyline, but then goes in a completely different direction with it. Typical of director Jack King's Donald films, the cartoon moves at a fast pace and the gags never let up. This movie has a fantastic ending. A review in The Film Daily states, "This Technicolor animated cartoon is supercharged with laughs." 

Broadcasting, 1949

Next comes a very important film, Porky's Hare Hunt (1938). This cartoon features the first appearance of a prototype of Bugs Bunny. "Bugs" here is far from the rabbit who would emerge a few years later with Tex Avery's A Wild Hare (1940). The version that appears here is much closer to the early Daffy Duck (who made his film-debut a year earlier with Porky's Duck Hunt (1937)). The rabbit also looks very little like the later Bugs and is simply a small white rabbit. This same design would be used by Chuck Jones in Presto Change-O (1939). Besides Daffy Duck, this bunny resembled another famous cartoon character in another way. This way was the rabbit's laugh which sounds a lot like Woody Woodpecker (who had yet to be created at this time). This is not just a coincidence as both characters were voiced by Mel Blanc. The director of the cartoon was Ben Hardaway. Ben's nickname was Bugs and although the character was not named on screen he was known as Bugs' Bunny. 

Now for a commercial break.

While by the 1970's most studios were no longer making cartoons for movie theaters, DePatie-Freleng was helping keep the animated short film alive with multiple series. One of these series were the Dogfather cartoons for the mid-1970's. These shorts were a take-off of Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather (1972) with the titular character even sounding like Marlin Brando. 17 theatrical cartoon shorts were made of these series. Here is the first film in the series, The Dogfather (1974). This film is a slight remake of the Merrie Melodies cartoon, Tree For Two (1952). 

Director Art Davis only directed two cartoons with Sylvester, both of which were rather off-beat. One of them, Doggone Cats (1947) gives Sylvester no dialogue at all. The other, Catch as Cats Can (1947) gives the cat a completely different dopey sounding voice. It is the latter that is featured next.  

Up next comes The Pink Panther in Pink Blue Plate (1971). 

Today's cartoon selection ends with the Terry Toons cartoon, Chris Columbo (1938). I love the Terry Toons of this era and this film perfectly shows why. There is little regard for anything making sense or the story being coherent  and instead the film is simply made up of whatever bizarre gags the filmmakers can come up with. I especially love the cartoon's opening scene where Columbo tries to convince the crowd that the world is round. There is some very fun character animation by Carlo Vinci here (the brief appearances of the queen in this scene are animated by Gordon Whitter and is equally fun). Gordon Whitter's animation of the gambling scene is very good and is funnier than the scene itself. George Cannata's animation of the monkeys creating an amusement park ride for themselves is another highlight. The following is an exhibitor's review from The Motion Picture Herald, "Chris Columbo: Terry-Toons - Very good indeed. We make a steady policy of showing this series every Sunday and Monday and find that after plugging them right that they do bring in extra business. A swell series to book. - Pearce Parkhurst, Paramount Theatre, Schroon Lake, N.Y. Small town and summer patronage." 

  Thanks for joining me come back next week for another selection of animated classics until then, may all your tunes be looney and your melodies merry. 

Resources Used

Hollywood Cartoons: American Animation in its Golden Age  by Michael Barrier.

The 50 Greatest Cartoons Edited by Jerry Beck

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


Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Buck Privates Come Home (1947)


Buck Privates Come Home is the only true sequel in the Abbott and Costello filmography. It is also a film that stands among the comedy duo's best work. 

Before this movie Abbott and Costello had made two films that were major departures for the team. These were Little Giant (1946) and The Time of Their Lives (1946). In both of these pictures Bud and Lou didn't work as a team but rather simply as two actors in the same film. Producer Robert Arthur felt that after this the team should return to their roots. The best way to do this was to make a sequel to the duo's first starring movie, Buck Privates (1941). 

As the duo was entering the army in the first film, the sequel centers around them coming home after their stay in the army. The movie opens with clips from the first Buck Privates (including the famous drilling scene). After these clips we get right into the story. Our two heroes befriended a six year old orphan girl (Beverly Simmons) while in France. Herbie (Lou Costello) has tried to sneak her away in his bag on his way home. After this attempt fails, the boys decide to adopt the girl. However to do this one of them must be married and have a good income. This proves not to be easy for these two bachelor tie peddlers. The basic plot of a comedy team returning from war and taking care of an orphan while hiding her from the authorities is similar to the earlier Laurel and Hardy feature film, Pack Up Your Troubles (1932). However that is where the similarities end. The movies go in quite different directions with this plot and Abbott and Costello's comedy is very different from that of Laurel and Hardy. 

Buck Privates Come Home is everything you could want from an Abbott and Costello film. The whole movie is jam packed with jokes that come at an incredibly fast pace. There are even jokes in the background (look for a sign advertising "Abbott and Costello in Romeo Jr."). What is amazing is the sheer amount of these jokes that hit the mark perfectly. This movie has quite a few excellent comic set pieces including Lou's attempt to sleep on a clothesline, the bank sequence and the climatic car chase. All of these scenes got hearty laughs from me and I am sure they will for many of you too. Bud and Lou are in excellent form here, and in many ways the energy and delivery of many of the comedic moments remind one of the duo's earlier films. Unlike the original Buck Privates Bud and Lou are front and center in this film's story and play a part in the dramatic moments as well as the comedic. While this is by no means a hard-hitting drama, the boys are more than up for the task of handling the non-comedic scenes as well as the comedic. Beverly Simmons is excellent as the little girl Bud and Lou want to adopt. She is cute and sweet without ever making that feel in the least way forced. Because of her naturally sweetness, she is able to give the film an emotional center without making it feel sentimental or distract from the zany comedy. 

This film was directed by Charles Barton. Barton was one of the finest directors the comedy duo ever had. During his time directing the team he directed what many consider Bud and Lou's two best films,  The Time of Their Lives and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948). Disney fans will know him for directing The Shaggy Dog (1959). This movie also featured the last film role for Nat Pendleton. Besides Bud and Lou, he was the only returning cast member (other than Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, of course) from the original Buck Privates. Comedy fans will find him  a very familiar face as he also worked with the Marx Brothers in Horse Feathers (1932) and At the Circus (1939). Most film buffs probably recognize him for his role in both The Thin Man (1934) and Another Thin Man (1937). Here he reprises his Buck Privates role, Sgt. Collins. His character's relationship to Bud and Lou's characters has not improved between the two movies. This is a delight for us as the scenes between the three of them are really darn funny.  

Motion Picture Herald, 1947

A review in The Motion Picture Herald states, "For the many Abbott and Costello fans who have followed the escapades of the two comedians through their wacky radio program and numerous motion pictures, 'Buck Privates Come Home' is all they desire in the way of slapstick comedy, rapid fire gags and all around comedy. For the other theatre-goers who are only slightly acquainted with the comedy pair this will be a delightful surprise, as it is an above average Abbott and Costello picture." A review in The Showman's Trade Review states, "'Buck Privates Come Home' is a welcome addition to the Abbott and Costello series and may very well re-establish the comics in the top rung of box-office stars." A review in The Motion Picture Daily states, "Theatre patrons who like their Abbott and Costello served in healthy chunks will definitely go for this one." A review in the Independent Exhibitor's Film Bulletins calls this, "by far the most hilarious comedy ever made by Abbott and Costello..." The review went on to state, "... funnier even than 'Buck Privates.'" 

The following is a 1947 article from Boxoffice Magazine.

"Rounding out a thorough advertising campaign on 'Buck Privates Come Home,' Stanley A. Gere, manager of the Rialto Theatre, Racine, Wis., tied up with the U.S. Army recruiting service to pay tribute to all ex-buck privates and buck privates in Racine.  

"A meeting with the city mayor, Francis H. Went, resulted in a proclamation setting aside 'Buck Privates' day. Included on the agenda of activities was the army's participation of reveille in front of the theatre, a motorcycle rodeo at the lake front park in the rear of the theatre, a parade and full retreat. 

"Universal Pictures offered a grand prize of a second honeymoon trip to Chicago for Mr. and Mrs. Buck Private who were selected on the basis of neatness, appearance and personality.

"Contestants were registered by army recruiting in the local American legion post. All but six entrants were screened out out and the final selection was held on the theatre stage. 

"The Racine Journal Times broke front page stories covering the promotion from all angles. Stories on the Racine promotion broke in Milwaukee, Kenosha and all county newspapers. 

"The picture was also plugged strongly at the baseball park, via the army's radio spots and through a mobile sound truck. Radio promotions included spot announcements, free plugs on the 'Buck Privates' day and interviews for the contest winners over the station.

"Local newspaper columnists maintained a steady flow of copy on the promotion, retail stores plugged the film production in cooperative ads and the army paid for a 4-column by 15-inch display ad plugging the picture."        

Monday, September 6, 2021

Short Film: Hide and Shriek (1938)


Released June 18, 1938. Length: 10 mins. Producer: Hal Roach. Director: Gordon Douglas. Cast: Our Gang (Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer, Billie "Buckwheat" Thomas, Darla Hood, Eugene "Porky" Lee, Gary "Junior" Jasgar, Leonard "Percy" Landy), Fred Holmes (Janitor), Billy Bletcher (Voice). Cinematographer: Norbert Brodine. Editor: William Ziegler. 

Note: This was the last Our Gang film produced by Hal Roach.

The following is a review from Boxoffice magazine.

"A rather hilarious comedy is this Our Gang effort in which Alfalfa and the boys take detective work. They try to trace a box of candy and wind up in one of those amusement park 'Haunted House' contraptions. Their experiences there are enough to make them give up Sherlock Holmes stuff. It's good program stuff."  

The following are some exhibitor's reviews from the Motion Picture Herald.

"Hide and Shriek: Our Gang - A good gang but this series has too much Alfalfa and not enough of the gang. The last half dozen have been 80 per cent, Alfalfa. He is good but it is the kids the people like. - C. I. Niles, Niles Theatre, Anamosa, Iowa. General Patronage." 

"Hide and Shriek: Our Gang Comedy - I thought this was a little better than the rest. Running time 11 minutes - Charles Rossi, Strand Theatre, Schroon Lake, N.Y." 

Motion Picture News, 1929

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Movie Review: The Lost Leonardo


Michael's Movie Grade: B

A gripping and fascinating documentary. 

Despite in many ways being a rather traditional documentary, director Andreas Koefoed knows how to make it not feel like one we have seen before. One way to do this is to frame the story in the style of a heist film. This is very effective and makes the story quite gripping and fascinating. The movie is presented in such a way that it creates tension and builds upon the tension perfectly to make scenes such as the art biding, 100% edge of your seat entertainment.  

If you are like me then the art world is something you don't fully know or understand. While I enjoy a good painting, I don't seek out the history of it or pay huge amounts of many to own it and I definitely don't know much about the world the curates, preserves or studies this type of art. That actually worked perfectly to my advantage as I got to see the art world in a way I never had thought of before. This movie shows the greed and manipulation that goes into making these art pieces a product not unlike movies or TV. Facts are bent and out and out lied about and "facts" that have not been confirmed are they were. The film never tells us if the painting is in fact an authentic Leonardo Da Vinci painting. We hear experts from all sides of the debate speak about this. All of them do so intelligently and knowledgeably. Because of that it is hard for us to know for sure what to make of the painting as we leave. This adds a wonderful sense of mystery and awe to the film that I found completely gripping. Yet at the same time with how well the movie set up the tension, certain uncertainties can feel a bit anticlimactic (though I understand the filmmakers had no control over that).   

Strangely even at only 100 minutes this film can feel a bit overlong and could have used a bit more editing. On the other hand it seems strange that while, the movie does a great job making this story interesting for an average audience, it fails to explain why this piece has an impact on those who see it except for the name of an artist who may or may not have painted it. Those watching who may not be interested in painting may be at a loss as to why some would consider this a great painting.

  All and all this is a very entertaining and well made documentary that will even be exciting for those who have no interest in paintings.   

Cowboy Church #135

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

Today's musical selection begins with Roy Rogers and Dale Evans singing The Lord is Counting on You. This song is directed heavily at the duo's younger fans and is about the importance of Sunday school. This is appropriate because Roy had long been an advocate for Sunday School. In the early 1940's the rules for the Roy Rogers Riders Club included "love god and go to Sunday school regularly." This rule is especially interesting considering that it was before Roy gave his life fully to the Lord. After that of course his support for Sunday school grew even stronger. One time when he and Dale where taking part in a rodeo at Madison Garden, Roy spoke to his audience, "I heard some kid say it is sissy stuff to go to Sunday school. Don't you believe him. Sunday school is for he-men." Up next is Johnny Cash with Look Unto the East. When John was making his weekly Johnny Cash Show, he ran into conflict with the producers when he wished to speak about his faith on television. They stood firmly against him doing this but John stood even more firm. He made one big speech on his show that they really wanted to cut. In this speech he stated, "All my life I have believed that there are two powerful forces: the force of good and the force of evil; the force of right and the force of wrong; or if you will, the force of God and the force of the devil. Well now, the force of God is naturally the number one most powerful force, although the number two most powerful force, the devil tries to take over every once in a while. And he can make it plenty tough on you when he tries to take over. I know. In my time I fought him, I fought back, I clawed, I kicked him. When I didn't have the strength to kick him, I gnawed him. Well here lately I think we've made the devil pretty mad because on our show we've been mentioning God's name. We've been talking about Jesus, Moses, even Paul and Silas and John the Baptist. Well this will probably make the devil mad all right and he may be coming after me again but I'll be ready for him. In the meantime, while he's coming, I'd like to get one more lick in for number 1." While John had messed up many times in his life, his faith in God was absolute and there is no doubt that he did turn from these many sins and give his life completely to the Lord.  Marty Robbins' 1959 album, Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs is one of the greatest and best loved concept albums in the history of country music. Despite being a country singer, Marty Robbins had a varied taste in music and would record a wide variety of songs ranging from country to rock and roll to Hawaiian to pop. He would however always keep a special fondness for western music and the tales and songs of the cowboys. He had this instilled in him from a very young age. His grandfather, Bob Heckle had been an ex-Texas Ranger and Marty would listen often to the stories this man told. As a kid, he was also a massive fan of Gene Autry movies, and wanted to grow up to be a singing cowboy. Making an album completely made up with songs about the old west was therefore a naturally for the singer. Most of the album was made up of covers of popular songs and traditionally favorites. However Marty wrote three songs for this album. These were El Paso, Big Iron and The Master's Call. Though The Master's Call is the least known of these, it holds it own very well with those more popular songs. Next comes The Sons of the Pioneers with their 1947 recording of The Old Rugged Cross. The hymn dates back to 1913 and was written by evangelist, George Bennard. Actually the first verse was written in 1912. It was written while Bennard was a part of a series of revival meetings in Albion, Michigan. He was worried about the complete disregard for the gospel around him and wrote this verse as a repose. Of writing it Bennard said, "I seemed to have a vision ... I saw the Christ and the cross inseparable." The song wouldn't be completed for several months, when he was leading meetings at a local church in Pokagan, Michigan. He played it for Rev. Leroy (the sponsoring pastor) and his wife, Ruby Bostwick, both of whom found themselves moved to tears. It was then incorporated into a service at that church on June 7, 1913. The song has the same effect today as it must have back then. This is followed by Dennis Agajanian with the title song off of his 1984 album, Where Are the Heroes. Today's musical selection ends with Billy Cate singing Christ is a Wonderful Savior.

Next is a short film starring Broncho Billy Anderson, Broncho Billy's Last Hold Up (1912).

Here is C.S. Lewis with his essay, Evil and God

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. Matthew 3:8

I confess my iniquity; I am sorry for my sin. Psalm 38:18

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12

 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Psalm 37:7

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

Then David said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the Lord God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished..." 1 Chronicles 28:20

But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” Matthew 14:27

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load. Galatians 6:1-5

 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. Matthew 19:29

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. Colossians 2:8

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

Resources Used

The Man Called Cash by Steve Turner.

Angel Unaware by Dale Evans Rogers 

The Life of Roy Rogers by Charles River Editors