Sunday, July 31, 2022

Cowboy Church #183

 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 1948 recording with Rounded Up in Glory.

This is followed by Loretta Lynn with He's Got the Whole World in His Hands.  It is unknown who exactly wrote this song because it had been passed down through oral tradition long before it was ever published. However we do know that it was first published in 1927 in a Hymnal titled  Spirituals Triumphant, Old and New. In 1933 Frank Warner, a folk art collector and singer, heard Sue Thomas sing this in North Carolina. Frank Warner then preformed and introduced this song throughout the U.S.A. In 1941 Robert Sonkin recorded a version of this wonderful hymn. This version of the song comes from Lorretta's 1968 album, The Gospel Spirit

Now for Randy Travis with Open the Eyes of My Heart

Next is Guy Penrod with Nothing But the Blood of Jesus. This hymn was written by Robert Lowry who wrote more than 500 hymns. About his hymn writing Lowry stated “Music, with me has been a side issue… I would rather preach a gospel sermon to an appreciative audience than write a hymn. I have always looked upon myself as a preacher and felt a sort of depreciation when I began to be known more as a composer.” 

Afterwards is Kris Kristofferson with They Killed Him. This song (written by Kris) pays tribute to three heroes of Kris. Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr. and our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. It is a shame that in this world, people who preach a message of love can often get killed for doing it. As Christians though love for others should be a major priority. After all God us love and it is through love that we can best see him.  Despite Kris writing this song he was not the first to record it. Kris would record the song in 1986, but Johnny Cash had already recorded it in 1984. In 1986 Bob Dylan also recorded the song for his Knocked Out Loaded album. 

Next Gene Autry sings the cowboy gospel classic The Last Roundup in a clip from the movie, The Last Round Up (1947). This isn't the first time he recorded this song. He made a studio recording of it on October 9, 1933. Though the song had previously appeared in Ziegfield Follies of 1933, it was Gene's recording that made this a cowboy music standard. He would also sing it again in the movie The Singing Hill (1941). With how popular this song was for Gene, it is no surprise that it would become the title tune for one of his movies. This song was written by Tin Pan Alley songwriter Billy Hill. Billy Hill had also written the cowboy music standard, Empty Saddles which was recorded by such great artists as Bing Crosby, Sons of the Pioneers, Roy Rogers, Dean Martin, Sons of the San Joaquin and even Gene himself. 

Now for Roy Rogers and Dale Evans singing, It is No Secret. This song was written by cowboy singer and actor Stuart Hamblen. Before turning to God, this man's life could hardly be considered Godly. He often drank and fought and this often landed him in jail. When in 1949 Hamblin went to a Billy Graham crusade, he turned his life over to God. The drinking and fighting were put behind him and his whole life changing. One day he was talking about this change to his good friend John Wayne (yes that John Wayne) and that it was no secret what God had done for him. John Wayne said, that he should write a song with those lyrics.  Stuart Hamblen had also had a brief movie career and appeared in the Roy Rogers movie, The Arizona Kid (1939).

Today's musical selection ends with Alan Jackson singing Standing on the Promises of God. This hymn was written by Russell Carter in 1886. Working as a sheep herder he developed a heart condition. This led him to pray much more often, and he began to get closer to God every day. When he was healed, he vowed to "stand on the promises of God" and wrote this song. 

Today's movie trailer is for the wonderful Howard Hawks western, Rio Bravo (1959). This film has a fantastic cast including John Wayne, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson, Angie Dickinson, Ward Bond and Walter Brennen and has rightful gone down in film history as a truly great western. For cowboy music fans, this movie features the wonderful song, My Riffle, My Pony and Me which is sung as a duet between Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson. This film has become a favorite of many great filmmakers with Quention Tarantino even once stating that if his date didn't like this movie there will be no relationship. 

The following is a 1959 article from American Cinematographer, talking about the cinematography for Rio Bravo. If you have any trouble reading it click on the pages and use your touch screen to zoom in.  

Next is a short message from the Rev. Billy Graham.

Better to be a poor person who has integrity than to be rich and double-dealing. Proverbs 28:6

Rich and poor have this in common: The LORD is the Maker of them all. Proverbs 22:2

Whoever gives to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to poverty will be cursed. Proverbs 28:27

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. 1 Corinthians 13:4-5

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 1 John 4:16

No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 1 John 4:12

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

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8

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

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

Resources Used

Public Cowboy no. 1: The Life and Times of Gene Autry by Holly George-Warren


Saturday, July 30, 2022

Some Cartoons For Saturday Morning #186

 Hello my friends and happy Saturday morning. It is time to get yourself ready for another round of classic cartoons. 

Today's cartoon selection begins with a classic Mickey Mouse film, The Delivery Boy (1931). This short film, like all of the 1930's Mickeys, features a wonderful cast of animators. Johnny Cannon animates the opening scene with Mickey riding the delivery wagon and the scene with the dog playing the accordion. Rudy Zamora, who would later direct many of the Hanna-Barbera TV cartoons of the 1980's, animates Minnie washing her clothes. Jack Cutting animates the underwear washing itself. Norm Ferguson (who as an animator helped define the character of Pluto) animates the first scene of Mickey and Minnie's dance, Pluto getting his feet caught in the tar and doing his little dance and the two workers with the dynamite.  Frenchy de Trémaudan animates the gag with the goat. David Hand, who would later be the supervising director on the feature films Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) and Bambi (1942) animates Mickey climbing into the pants, the scene with the hornets and the birds whistling and dancing. Future Donald Duck, Woody Woodpecker and Barney Bear director, Dick Lundy animates the second scene of Mickey and Minnie's dance. George Lane animates the instruments nearly falling on the animals and them running away. Tom Palmer, who would later direct a few cartoons for Warner Brothers and Van Beuren, animates Mickey and Minnie on the Piano. Les Clark, one of the best Mickey Mouse animators, animates Mickey and Minnie playing the trombone, trumpet and drum as well as the gag with the turtle and the mule. Future Looney Tunes and Donald Duck director, Jack King animates the ending sequence from when Pluto picks up the dynamite to the end. 

Movie buffs know Jack Hannah best for directing Donald Duck cartoons and Jack Kinney best for directing Goofy cartoons. However, there were times when Hannah would direct Goofy and Kinney would direct Donald. They're Off (1948) has Hannah directing an excellent Goofy short. This film is still very much in the style of Kinney's Goofy cartoons though. 


Next up is the 1st Hoot Kloot film, Kloot's Kounty (1973).

Next comes a classic Porky Pig cartoon, Injun Trouble (1938). This short film would later be remade in color as Wagon Heels (1945). The title would later be reused as the name of another Looney Tunes cartoon, a 1969 Cool Cat short that would mark the last of the original Looney Tunes shorts.

Now it is time for a commercial break.


Next comes one of the wonderful Fleischer Superman cartoons, The Artic Giant (1942).

Boxoffice, 1940

Now for a silent movie starring Mutt and Jeff, A Kick For Cinderella (1925).


Next comes a wonderful later Looney Tunes cartoon, Daffy's Rhapsody (2015). Despite this movie being made after Mel Blanc's death, Daffy's voice is still obviously Mel. This is because Daffy's song comes from a 1950 children's record Mel Blanc made that was also entitled Daffy's Rhapsody. This short film was released in movie theaters before the feature film, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012). 

Today's cartoon selection ends with some Saturday Morning Minions. 

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

The Disney Films by Leonard Maltin

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Movie Review: DC League of Super-Pets


Michael's Movie Grade: B+

An excellent animated family film. 

I am someone who really enjoys the sillier aspects of superhero stories and therefore I am always glad when a superhero film comes out that not only has these aspects but fully embraces them. This is a film that only aspires to bring you a fun time at the movies, and it does so excellently.  This is a fast moving and unabashedly silly movie that is simply a lot of fun. This should come as no surprise as the director and co-writer of this movie is Jared Stern, who was also a writer on the wonderful, The Lego Batman Movie (2017) and his co-writer on League of Super-Pets was John Whittington who was also a writer on that movie. This film has the same charm that that movie had. While it pokes fun at superhero movies and conventions, it also shows the utmost respect for them. There are many little touches and moments here that are simply thrown in to make those who know their DC Comics smile, and thew humor is obviously done from a place of passion. Meanwhile this movie is also a superhero movie in itself and it is a darn entertaining one. The story, while familiar, is a lot of fun and even though it moves at a fast pace it never feels rushed. The villain is fantastic. Lulu the guinea pig (one of the few original main characters created for this movie) is a wonderfully fun villain and can even make the idea of a guinea pig being a threat against the Justice League somehow believable. It doesn't hurt that she is excellently voiced by Kate McKinnon. Our heroes are just as great. These characters are all very likable and the relationships between them was very well done. Each of the pets has their own unique personalities and are given their own chance to shine. The evolution of them as a superhero team is also done very well. Krypto and Ace's character arcs are very well handled and there is a surprising amount of real emotion in these scenes. The action is excellent and the big climatic action scene is a lot of fun. 

This movie is really a joke a minute type of film and this can cause the humor to be a bit hit and miss. However the humor that hits is more than funny enough to make up for the jokes that miss. 

On the downside this movie follows the superhero movie format so closely that it is very predictable. I am also not a fan of some of the Justice League designs, though the characters are handled very well (Batman gets some great laughs here). 

This is an excellent movie that superhero and cartoons fans everywhere should enjoy.    

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Happy 82nd Birthday Bugs Bunny

 Today marks the 82nd Birthday of everybody's favorite wascally wabbit, Bugs Bunny. Bugs' first officially appearance was Tex Avery's A Wild Hare (1940), which first played in movie theaters on July 27th, 1940. To be fair the point as to whether this was the first Bugs cartoon has been argued. A wacky rabbit character first appeared in a Looney Tunes film with the Porky cartoon, Porky's Hare Hunt (1938). Some cartoon fans believe that to be the first Bugs cartoon, while others veiw it as a diffrent character. Never the less, Bugs first appeared fully formed as the character we know today in A Wild Hare

Like many cartoon stars of the day old movie magazines never got Bugs' birthday right. Neither July 27th or the day Porky's Hare Hunt was released, April 30th, where given as Bugs' birthday. Often times being a rabbit, his birthday was given as Easter Sunday, whatever day that happened to be on. These following articles should give you an idea what I mean. If you have trouble reading either of them click on the pages and use your touch screen to zoom in.


Box Office, 1947

Boxoffice, 1948

My favorite of these articles is the following one from 1961 which lists Bugs as being 25 years old. I'll let you do the math to figure out what is wrong with that. 

Boxoffice, 1961

I love that on Easter Sunday, a movie theater would have a special Bugs Bunny day as evidenced by the below page.

Showman's Trade Review, 1946

Film Daily, 1948

Like many movie fans, I have been a fan of Bugs since as far back as I can remember and my fondness for him has not died down in any way. His best films are timeless and will never lose any of their charm. If you have ever seen a Bugs cartoon in a movie theater, than you know just the effect Bugs still has on audiences. Bugs has never stopped staring in cartoons, whether for movie theaters, TV or streaming services, Bugs will always be up to something new because audiences will never stop wanting more Bugs Bunny. Just recently there Bugs Bunny show, Bugs Bunny Builders


A movie I am going to watch today to celebrate Bugs' birthday is the wonderful feature-length compilation movie, The Bugs Bunny/ Roadrunner Movie (1979). This was the first (and best) of three feature length compilation films starring Bugs Bunny and I watch the movie every year on Bugs' Birthday. 

Let us end this birthday celebration with a classic Bugs short film. 


Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Movie Review: My Donkey, My Lover & I (Antoinette dans les Cévennes)


Michael's Movie Grade: B 
A really charming comedy from France. 

This film has a very basic premise but one that is incredibly charming. A woman, who has a tendency to be very selfish, finds herself making a long trek with only a donkey as her companion. Though this journey she learns more about herself and develops a close relationship with the donkey. While this story may be nothing new or groundbreaking, it is a simple story well told and sometimes that can be more than enough. Director and writer, Caroline Vignal knows just how to keep the story moving and the audience constantly invested. The heart of this movie is the relationship between our main character and her donkey. Wisely even though there is a romance, after the donkey is introduced this always remains the focal point. Since this relationship is very well handled, the movie works extremely well. This relationship is never rushed or forced. Instead it feels completely natural and the evolution of the relationship never feels any less than real. You perfectly believe as you see this relationship grow over the course of the movie, especially if you have ever had a great relationship with an animal yourself. Much of this is due to a wonderful performance from Laure Calamy. Though she is far from the only one in the cast, her character is the one who carries the whole film. Luckily the actress is more than up to the task, bringing out the perfect blend of humor and humanity. It has often been said that it is not the destination but the journey and that is definitely true of this film. Caroline Vignal knows that the smaller scenes are the most important in a movie like this and the little moments are the most charming parts of this film. This movie is also a comedy and a really good one at that. While it doesn't start as funny as it should, when this movie gets going it is absolutely hilarious. There are many laugh out loud moments in this movie and they only increase as the film goes on. 

Unfortunately as well as My Donkey & I, there is also My Lover. The romance in this film is not really that interesting or well fleshed out. The scenes with her lover's wife and daughter are equally uninteresting. Luckily this is not the focus of the film and as soon as the donkey appears, it is thankfully pushed to the background. This is also a movie where you know what is going to happen every step of the way. 

Despite any faults, this is an excellent movie and one that will leave you with a smile on your face as you exit the theater. 

Monday, July 25, 2022

Overlooked Classics: Brother Orchid (1940)


Brother Orchid
is definitely one of the more oddball Warner Brothers gangster films of the 1930’s and 40’s. This film starts as a rather normal Warner Brothers gangster movie, but then takes a turn for the strange and never quite comes back from that. However this is exactly what makes this film so enjoyable to watch. 

Edward G. Robinson stars in this movie however he was originally very hesitant about playing the part. He felt he was being too typecast as a movie gangster and he knew he could play other roles just as well. One movie Robinson especially wanted to be in was Confessions of a Nazi Spy (1939, which he would star in). This was heavily because he was Jewish and felt that movie would be a great service to his people. Robinson agreed to be in Brother Orchid only after the studio also offered him the lead role in The Sea Wolf (1941). Playing a bit part in this movie was a then fairly unknown but promising up-comer named Humphry Bogart. This is the fourth movie that both appeared in and they wouldn’t appear together again until Key Largo (1948). Like the previous movies they costarred in, Bogie played an evil gangster with absolutely no redeeming qualities, while Robinson played a more fully fleshed out character, we are allowed to like and relate to.  This movie was directed by Lloyd Bacon, one of my favorite studio directors. A studio director was a director, who did as the studio told him and directed whatever type of film he was given. Out of these directors Lloyd Bacon’s movies were possibly the most consistently great. His other films include 42nd Street (1933), Action in the North Atlantic (1943), Marked Woman (1937), The Good Humor Man (1950), Footlight Parade (1933), and many more pure classics. 

The wacky premise of this movie truly gets underway when gangster, Johnny Sarto (Edward G. Robinson) is set up to be murdered. After surviving this attempt on his life Sarto is taken in by kindly monks and nursed back to health. At first he tries to use this situation to his own advantage but as he spends more time there he grows a greater respect for the monks and considers this his new home. However he learns the new boss of his gang Buck (Humphry Bogart) is stopping the monks from selling flowers, and of course you know this means war.

Beyond just its odd and intriguing premise, this is just a very fun movie. Like almost all of Lloyd Bacon’s movies this film moves at a fast pace, and crams as much fun as it can into its run time. The humor is excellent, the characters are quite well written and most of all there is not a dull moment in the film. Despite his reluctance to be in this film, Robinson sure appears to be having a lot of fun making this movie. His performance is just as full of energy as Bacon’s direction. Honestly, I don’t see how any classic movie fan, cannot have fun watching this movie, I sure do. 

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Cowboy Church #182

 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 1948 recording of The Touch of God's Hand. This song was written by one of the group's founding members (and one of my favorite songwriters), Bob Nolan.

This is followed by Uncle Dave Macon's 1928 recording of Jesus Lover of My Soul. Uncle Dave was a faithful member of Haynes Chapel Methodist Church in Kittrell, Tennessee. Before becoming famous he was even a Sunday School teacher and took the pulpit when the pastor was unavailable. Naturally he also helped out with the music. Gospel songs would play a major role in his live shows. Yet for a while he didn't perform them on the Grand Ole Opry. His oldest son convinced him he should perform these songs there. So in the early 1930's he performed Shall We Gather at the River. This was met with huge applause and gospel songs would soon become a part of his Opry performances as well. 

Now for Glen Campbell with Softly and Tenderly.  The song was written by an Ohio businessman named Will Thompson in 1880.  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. When evangelist Dwight L. Moody was on his death bed he told the songwriter, "Will, I would rather have written ‘Softly and Tenderly Jesus Is Calling’ than anything I have been able to do in my whole life." This was appropriate as Will decided to make songwriting his career while at a meeting held by Moody. 

Now we join The Gatlin Brothers with Do Lord. This song was first recorded by The Garner Brothers in 1924. However it is believed to be an African American song dating back to the 1860's.

A Singer of Songs in my mind gets down to the essence of Johnny Cash and honestly when I first I found out I was surprised he had not written it. What is interesting is that when interviewed about this recording for the Unearthed Box set, Johnny stated, "Good song but I don't know whose it is." Producer Rick Rubin in comments for the box set stated that he felt this was "one of the most touching and emotional of all the songs." However, he admitted "I have no idea where it came from. I don't even remember recording it." He wondered how he could have possibly missed putting this song on one of the albums he and Johnny did together. Johnny's song John Carter Cash however shed light on where this song came from. "Every once in a while, I'd bring in a song or two - he knows instantly, when he hears a song, whether it will work out for him or not. This was written by Tim O'Connell." This song was recorded during the sessions for Johnny's third album for Rick Rubin, Solitary Man. Johnny was a heart simply a singer and a storyteller and he knew that there was no greater story than that of Jesus Christ. 

Now we join Randy Travis for the wonderful old hymn, Are You Washed in the Blood. While I believe that water baptisms are important in the life of a believer, nothing matters more than being washed in the blood of Jesus. This means to let Jesus be Lord of your life and to live said life for him. As wonderful as water baptisms are they mean nothing if you are not also washed in the blood of the lamb.

Next is the King of the Cowboys Roy Rogers with The Circuit Riding Preacher. For someone who was a Christian and often preached the gospel, and whose career was steeped in the lore of the old west, there is no surprise that a song about circuit riders would appeal to him. Back in the days of the old west circuit riders were preachers who would ride across the U.S.A. preaching the gospel as he traveled. A circuit rider would especially preach in densely populated and rural areas, where there may not be a regular church for people to visit. 

Today's musical selection ends with The Petersens with Near the Cross  

Today's movie trailer is for Winchester '73. This film stars James Stewart and is directed by Anothony Mann. These two worked very well together and the films they made together are legendary. Those films include Bend of the River (1952), Thunder Bay (1953), The Naked Spur (1953), The Glenn Miller Story (1954), The Far Country (1954) and The Man from Laramie (1955).

Now for Dr. Ralph Bell speaking about Billy Graham. 

Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him. Proverbs 14:31

And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” Luke 3:10-11

But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 1 John 3:17-18

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

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

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

  And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness. Genesis 15:6

A voice cries: In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. Isaiah 40:3-4

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

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Movie Trailer: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Movie Trailer: Black Adam

Movie Trailer: Shazam! Fury of the Gods

Some Cartoons For Saturday Morning #185

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

Starting off is a delightful black and white Porky Pig cartoon, Get Rich Quick Porky (1937). This was an early cartoon for director Bob Clampett (1937 was his first year as a director) and while it may not be as wild as some of the director's later work, there is plenty to enjoy here. This cartoon also marked the last appearance of Porky's sidekick, Gabby Goat. There is not much to Gabby besides him being grumpy and easily irritated, but the contrast between him and the more optimistic Porky makes for delightful watching. Two of the animators on this movie would later become great Looney Tune directors in their own right. Chuck Jones animates the wonderful scene with the dog, the gopher and a bone as well as the film's ending. Norm McCabe animates Gabby underground with his jackhammer as well as Porky handing the deed to Honest John. 

Next comes a wonderful Donald Duck cartoon, Modern Inventions (1937). A review in The Film Daily called this picture, "One of the funniest episodes in which Donald Duck has been featured." In a 1938 article from World Film News Richard Ford writes, "Several Disney Cartoons - Donald and Pluto and Modern Inventions have Machiavellian incidents to which many children are frightening. This fear subsequently gives way to sympathy for the victim, so that Donald Duck is liked on a basis of tragedy rather than comedy." In the June 26, 1937 issue of Boxoffice magazine this movie was named "Short of the Week." The following is the review from that issue. "Donald Duck stamps himself as pre-eminent among cartoon comedians by his hilarious antics in his creator's final Technicolor subject for United Artists release. Unquestionably one of the most laugh-provoking subjects to issue from Disney studios since Donald first made his timid entrance as a minor cartoon character over a year ago. In this clever satire on the machine age Donald enters an exhibit where a robot butler immediately moves his hat much to the duck's fury. His irritability increases as he is cradled in an automatic baby carriage and is forcibly fed with a bottle and clothed with a diaper. However the piece de resistance is Donald's struggles while placed upside down in a barber chair with the mechanical attendant clipping off his tail feathers and blackening his face. The laughs follow in such quick succession that they are practically continuous." Though no director is credited on this short, it was directed by Jack King, who directed many of Donald's finest cartoons. 

Next we join The Terry Bears in The Reluctant Pup (1953). This cartoon was directed by Mannie Davis. 

Movie fans tend to agree that some of the funniest cartoons ever made are the shorts that Tex Avery directed for MGM. A great example of why can be seen in today's next cartoon, Doggone Tired (1949). Tex once described to historian Joe Adamson, "I found out the eye can register an action in five frames of film. Five frames of film at twenty-four a second, so it's roughly a fifth of a second to register something, from the screen to your eye to your brain. I found out that if you want something to barely be seen five frames was all it needed ... Say we had an anvil falling, we would bring it in perhaps four or five frames before the hit, that's all you need - djuuuuuu ... Bam! it's there, and you don't need to know where in the hell it came from. It makes the gag that much funnier. If you saw this thing coming down, and you panned down with it, and it hits - uh uh." 

Now it is time for a commercial break.


Now for some Saturday Morning Minions. 

Up next comes a silent movie starring Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Tall Timber (1928). 

Today's cartoon selection ends with the TV special It's the Pied Piper Charlie Brown (2000). Though this is not one of the most remembered specials, it is one of the most important ones. It is the first special of the 21st century, it is the last one that Charles Schultz had any involvement in, and it is the first special to be released after Charles Schultz's death. This is also an unusual special by Peanuts standards. Most of you sure familiar with the fact that most Peanuts animation never showed the adults and had a trombone replace the sound of their voices. In this special you get to see and hear the adults. This actually wasn't the first time it was done in Peanuts animation though. A couple of other examples of animated Peanuts adventures that included speaking and visible adults are the mini-series This is America Charlie Brown (1988-1989) and the theatrically released feature length movie, Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (And Don't Come Back!!) (1980) (and these are only two examples). This is also a rare special to adapt a classic children's story with Peanuts characters in it. While this is a common practice with many cartoon characters it is rare for the Peanuts gang. 

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

Resources Used

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


Friday, July 22, 2022

Movie Trailer: John Wick: Chapter 4

Movie Review: Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris


Michael's Movie Grade: B+

A very sweet and warmhearted movie.

This film is very much a fairytale. This is not as much true in what happens but in how the story is told. Like most fairytales this film is dedicated to all those who dare to dream and who believe their dreams can really come true. This is a very important factor because it is what makes the film feel so completely believable. While nothing in this movie is impossible, most everything is very improbable. Yet it is just the kind of dreams come true type of story that so many people love. To simply see a good-hearted person, achieve all their dreams is something that simply makes one feel good, and that is just what happens in this movie. Mrs. Harris here is a character who is hard not to like. While she is not completely perfect, she is the type of person we would all want for a friend. In other words she is someone who knows how to put other people in front of herself. Yet at the same time she always conducts herself with dignity and respect. There is no doubt she belongs just as much in the fashion world as any of the wealthier characters in the movie.  Her dream to see herself in one of these expensive dresses, makes so much sense because there is a certain indescribable elegance to her even as a house cleaner. She is a Pollyanna type of character, who can even turn around the most cynical people in the fashion world. Yet this is handled in a way that is never cloying. None of this would work though if she wasn't played by the right actress. Luckily Lesley Manville (who you may remember played a very different character in a fashion-based film in Phantom Thread (2017)) is wonderful. She plays the character with such charm and grace that even the most sugar-coated moments feel believable. 

This is also a very beautiful looking movie. Important for a movie about fashion, the costume work is wonderful. As beautiful as a lot of the fancy dresses made at Dior's are, where I really appreciated this work was in how Mrs. Harris was dressed as a cleaning lady. The clothes she wore may not have been expensive or fancy, but they looked good on her and showed us that this is a character, who cares about looking nice and keeping a good appearance. She is not a character who would ever be out in raggedy or ugly clothes and this just illustrates the dignity that she conducts herself with. This movie could also be an advertisement for Paris. While countless films have shown us how beautiful Paris is, the magic of Paris in the movies has never faded. This film captures everything that people love about Paris in the movies. 

This movie is admittedly very familiar and there is no time, when you cannot guess what is going to happen next. There are no real surprises in this film's story. However this is overcome by this movie having considerably more charm than many of the similar films.   

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Overlooked Classics: Below the Sea (1933)

 There is little doubt that Below the Sea is a cheesy little B movie but it is just so fun.

The story is very simple. A wealthy woman (Fay Wray, the same year she was in King Kong) decides to fund and join a sea expedition to search for marine life. Because she is so unexperienced she gets on the nerves of a sea diver (Ralph Bellamy). However they soon start a romance. At the same time some of the crew is looking for a buried treasure.

This film is nothing too original, but it is just so fun. The humor hits home very well, the characters are very likable and the cinematography is fantastic. The underwater photography is absolutely amazing and just gorgeous to look at. It is well ahead of its time, and still remains quite impressive today. As well as this the movie has a lot of action and these scenes are very exciting (especially one involving an octopus). These scenes are also quite well filmed. This excitement is only helped by the fact that we like these characters. They may not be complex characters, but they are charming enough for us to care about what happens to them. Such a predictable movie as this needs to still keep the viewers’ interest on its way to what we all know will happen. Luckily this is just what the film provides. The film moves at a fast pace and is just so fun to watch.

For one romantic scene, director Albert Rogell thought it would work better if there were seagulls in the background. Food was put on the ground to attract some. However the seagulls quickly grabbed the food and flew away before the camera stopped rolling. Rogell then got angry and shouted to make the birds fly through one at a time.


Supposedly color footage under the ocean was shot for the film, but it didn't wind up in the finished film for some unknown (at least to me) reason, the film instead is completely in black and white. Critics still praised the black and white undersea cinematography at the time.

The movie also became a big box office hit, but unfortunately has become almost completely forgotten today. It doesn’t deserve this obscurity and hopefully one day more classic movie fans will discover that a fun film this is.

An article in The Film Daily (dated June 10, 1933) gives us insight into another title for this film. This article states “Originally released as ‘Below the Sea’ and playing in the Rialto under the title, this picture will be titled ‘Hell’s Cargo’ following its Rialto run, though exhibitors have the option of using either name. ‘Below the Sea’ is not a particularly sparkling title, implying more a travel film than an active drama. While ‘Hell’s Cargo’ is considerably more lively as a name, it has the unfortunate inclusion of the word ‘hell,’ which is occasionally noted by exhibitors as not readily salable.”     

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Shirley MacLaine: Alone and Lonesome

How can you not love Shirley MacLaine? With a screen career that began in the 1950's and is still going on today, she has the ability to brighten up every movie she is in.

Here is a 1960 article from Screenland Magazine about Shirley. If you have any trouble reading these pages click on them and use your touch screen to zoom in.   

Shirley MacLaine began her film career on a high note with Alfred Hitchcock's wonderful dark comedy, The Trouble With Harry (1955). Watching this great film today, it is no wonder that she would become a major star. Fans of classic TV sitcoms will also recognize that her son in this film was played by Jerry Mathers who would soon go on to fame as The Beaver in Leave it to Beaver

Monday, July 18, 2022

Movie Review: Both Sides of the Blade (Avec amour et acharnement)


Michael's Movie Grade: A

A wonderful romance movie from France. 

Though this is a romance film, the movie is also an excellent character study and a deep examination of infidelity. This is a dialogue heavy film, but yet this dialogue is never expository. Instead, the dialogue adds to this film's great character study. Much of the dialogue is manipulation or lies. Even though these characters never tell the truth, their lies tell more about who they are then they could ever say telling the truth. While the characters are lying to each other, one gets the feeling that they are lying just as much to themselves. They so deeply want to believe these lies they say that one gets the feeling that they actually believe them to an extent. Nearly every scene between the trio in the love triangle shows each character trying to have the moral high ground. They spend of much time not only accusing each other but asserting their own moral superiority over the other. This comes off as not only a way to get back at the other person, but also to make themselves believe that they are the better person as well as the victim in each situation. Each conversation ends with each character feeling only surer of their guiltlessness and the other's guilt. Yet the self-deception is not just in the dialogue. For instance one of the characters drives far out of his way to simply go grocery shopping and it just so happens that his mom and son live around that grocery store. There is no way this could be just a coincidence, but when he gets home he tells his wife, he didn't visit them because he just went out to grocery shop. Yet he seemingly never questions this hypocrisy himself and the few times he sees his mother or son, he once again takes the moral high ground and nothing either of them can say will have any effect on how he perceives each decision. This true regardless of how much he tells his son that these decisions are "his choice." 

Most romantic movies will either view infidelity as an obstacle to overcome or the last straw in a relationship and little else. Yet this is no average movie and director and co-writer Claire Denis is no average filmmaker. This film truly examines why such a thing could happen in a seemingly happy relationship. Our main female character is married but has been in love with another man before. After running into this man again she begins to fall back in love with him. She doesn't just immediately sleep with this man though, but just meets him as a way of spending time with an old friend. When that relationship though grows physical she does not view herself as wrong in any way for participating. The affair just feels so right, but doesn't make her stop loving her husband, so she figures what could be wrong with this double life. All the while this movie never praises nor condemns her actions, it just simply shows them and lets us make out the complexities of these implications. This film never takes a moralizing tone with any of the characters, but instead we just see them flaws, virtues and all. Because of this it truly challenges us to examine the moral implications of what each character does in ways that can make us feel uncomfortable at times. Because of this it may not always be a pleasant movie but it is always an engaging one. 

This is a one of a kind movie and one in which your appreciation will grow for after you leave the theater and really think about what you just saw. Clarie Denis is a brilliant filmmaker and her first film since 2018, will not disappoint her fans one bit. 

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Cowboy Church #181

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

Today's musical selection begins with The Sons of the Pioneers with Suddenly There's a Valley. This song was written by Chuck Meyer and Biff Jones in 1955. Over the years it has been recorded by many artists including Bing Crosby, The Mills Brothers, The Drifters, Glen Campbell, Andy Williams, Reba McEntire and many more. This version of the song comes from the Sons' 1963 gospel album, Hymns of the Cowboy.

This is followed by Glen Campbell with Softly and Tenderly. The song was written by an Ohio businessman named Will Thompson in 1880.  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. When evangelist Dwight L. Moody was on his death bed he told the songwriter, "Will, I would rather have written ‘Softly and Tenderly Jesus Is Calling’ than anything I have been able to do in my whole life." This was appropriate as Will decided to make songwriting his career while at a meeting held by Moody.

Next is Bill Anderson with Deck of Cards. This song reminds us that we can see God in anything even a deck of cards. 

Now we join The Petersens with Pass Me Not O Gentle Savior.  This hymn was written by Fanny Crosby (Blessed Assurance, Near the Cross, Take the World, But Give Me Jesus). The song first appeared in Christian Associations' Songs of Devotion in 1870.  Hymnologist, William J. Reynolds told the story how this song was written during Fanny's visit to a prison in 1868 with fellow gospel songwriters, William Bradbury, William Doane, Robert Lowry and Ira Sankey, “After she had spoken and some of her hymns had been sung, she heard one of the prisoners cry out in a pleading voice, ‘Good Lord, do not pass me by’; Following [William] Doane’s suggestion, she wrote a hymn that evening incorporating the line, “Pass me not, O gentle Savior.” Pass Me Not is said to be her first hymn to reach this level of fame.

Now we join Roy Rogers and Dale Evans with a wonderful version of the classic hymn, How Great Thou Art. In the book, Happy Trails: Our Life Story, Roy tells of a story that had to do with this song. "I'll tell you about one time we nearly got into a real war with the promoters: at the World Championship Rodeo at Madison Square Garden in 1952. During the first rehearsal I started to practice 'How Great Thou Art,' a religious song I wanted to make the centerpiece of our musical act. There's a line in that song that goes, 'Then sings my soul my Savior God to Thee...' Someone in the front office heard the rehersal and came to me that night to tell me I wasn't allowed to mention Christ at the rodeo. 'It might work for the kids in Houston, Texas' he told me, 'But this is New York. You can't preach to kids here.' I told him I wasn't preaching but that the Savior was a part of the song and I fully intended to sing that song in New York or anywhere else we performed. They suggested that I could change the words of the song so it didn't mention Him. I'm not one for grandstand plays but I told those fellas that if I couldn't sing 'How Great thou Art' just how it was written, Dale and I would pack up and leave town. The song stayed in the show. That year we did forty-three performances over twenty-six days and broke all Madison Square Garden attendance records."

It is hard to believe that a song like The Man Comes Around was so late in Johnny Cash's career. Most of the time singer/songwriters don't release and certainly don't write their best music in their sixth decade, but as all music fans know Johnny was one of the rare artists with such a long career, who left this world at the top of his game musically.  At this time John was on fire for the lord. No longer was he the wild crazy man he had been in the 1950's and 60's, instead by this time he had become a true man of God, and wanted to do all he could for the lord before he passed away. He knew he had wasted too much of his life being controlled by sin and finally wanted to be a servant to God instead of to his own fleshly desires. At this time he was also seeing a musically resurgence, where he was more popular than ever and young audiences were embracing his new music just as much as they did any younger artist of their generation. What he wanted to do was to create a modern day gospel song that would speak directly to this younger audience and The Man Comes Around more than fit that bill. Because this song was so near and dear to him he spent more time writing it than any other song he had composed. In his book, Johnny Cash: The Redemption of an American Icon, Pastor Greg Laurie wrote "Personally I think it is the strongest song Johnny ever wrote. It is both biblical and personal, powerful and poetic." 

We Continue with Gene Autry singing God Must Have Loved America. This version comes from an episode of Gene Autry's radio show that aired July 26, 1942. This is the famous episode where Gene got sworn into the United States Army Air Forces live on the radio. 

Today's musical selection ends with The Carter Family's 1935 recording of Gospel Ship

Today's movie trailer is for John Wayne's final film, The Shootist (1976). This movie was directed by Don Seigal who had previous directed Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry (1971) and the Elvis Presley western, Flaming Star (1960). Though James Stewart had not appeared in a movie for five years, he agreed to be in this film at the request of John Wayne. 

Silver Screen, 1940

Next is a message from the Rev. Billy Graham.

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

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

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. James 3:17

The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. Romans 8:6

Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. 1 Timothy 6:17

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 1 John 4:7

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:1-13

Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he would be utterly despised. Song of Solomon 8:7

 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

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

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

Resources Used

Happy Trails: Our Life Story by Roy Rogers and Dale Evans

Johnny Cash: The Redemption of an American Icon by Greg Laurie

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Some Cartoons for Saturday Morning #184

 Good morning my friends and welcome back for another selection of classic cartoons. 

Today's cartoon selection begins with a wonderful Friz Freleng directed cartoon, D' Fightin' Ones (1961). This short film is a wonderful parody of the Stanley Kramer movie The Defiant Ones (1958). In that movie a white man and a black man who are chained together escape from prison. Despite the white man being a racist and the two having a strong hatred for each other the two must work together to survive. In this cartoon we have instead of a white man and a black man, we have Sylvester the cat and a big dog chained together. This idea in itself its very funny, but the cartoon is still wonderful even for those who don't know what it is parodying.  

Next we join Gandy Goose and Sourpuss in Sham Battle Shenanigans (1942). This was the first of a series of cartoons made during World War 2 which put Gandy and Sourpuss in the army. They were not the only cartoon characters to be drafted into the army for a series of cartoons during World War 2. Disney's Donald Duck (despite wearing a sailor suit in civilian life) also joined the army. The following is a review from The Film Daily, "Done in Technicolor, this Terry-Toon confection is a sweet source of laughter - loud and plentiful. The action has to do with the mishaps that befall a cat and duck during war maneuvers. Being thoroughly inexperienced soldiers, the two get themselves into a lot of silly situations, out of which they manage to work themselves in an extremely funny manner. Some of the incidents are good for howls." Enjoy the cartoon and remember to have some Dunker's Donuts while watching it. 


Director's Jack Kinney's Goofy cartoons are the closest the Disney studio came to Tex Avery's MGM cartoons. These short films are fast paced gag filled satires that take full advantage of the cartoon medium. They are also some of my personal favorite cartoon shorts. A great example of why these films are so great can be seen in this next cartoon, Tomorrow We Diet (1951). 

Now it is time to join our flapper friend Betty Boop in one of her early appearances, Kitty From Kansas City (1931). This short film was released a year before Betty got her own series, so it is part of the Fleischer Brothers' Screen Songs series. This is the series where movie goers would follow the bouncing ball and sing along with popular songs. In many of these films there would be a popular singer of the time performing the song. Here that singer is the crooner Rudy Vallee, who had recorded the title song in 1930 and had a hit with it. The same year as this movie, Rudy would appear in Betty Co-ed (1931), another Fleischer screen song cartoon. Paramount Around the World magazine would state "Speaking of Screen Songs, 'Kitty from Kansas City,' in which Rudy Vallee appears in person, is easily the best short that this radio and stage celebrity has ever made." Of course, Paramount may have been more than a little biased here.

Motion Picture Herald, 1931

Now it is time for a commercial break. 

Now for an episode of The New Three Stooges featuring the voices of the real Stooges who also appear in the opening and closing live action segments. The live action segments would often be repeated even when the cartoon was new. Curly Joe DeRita felt that this hurt the show. He thought that people would see a live action segment they had seen before and assume the show was a rerun and change the channel not knowing the cartoon was new. 

Now for a silent movie starring Felix the Cat, Felix Revolts (1923). 

Last but certainly not least comes an all time classic, The Dover Boys at Pimento University (1942). This is one of Chuck Jones' most daring (and arguably one of his best) films. The stylized design and animation were unlike most anything being done at this time and look forward to what UPA would become known for in the 1950's. Many have cited Chuck Jones as a very strong influence on UPA and with a cartoon like this who could argue? It is worth noting that the credited animator on this film is Robert Cannon, who would become an important director for UPA (he directed Gerald McBoing-Boing (1950) there). Much of this film's charm came from background artist, Gene Fleury and layout artist John McGrew. These were two very experimental artists and Chuck gave them plenty of room to experiment. They are a huge part of why Chuck's cartoons for this era really stand out. If you are a fan of Disney's Goofy cartoons, you will probably recognize the narrator, John McLeisch (who narrated most of the Goofy "how to..." shorts). The film's writer Ted Pierce does the voice of Tom. However the scene stealer of the voice actors is Mel Blanc as he seems to be having a blast voicing the villainous Dan Backslide (coward, bully, cad and thief). Visually Dan Backslide is a caricature of Warner's animator, Ken Harris. This film appropriately appears in Jerry Beck's book, The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes

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

The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes edited by Jerry Beck