Cites & Insights: Crawford at Large
ISSN 1534-0937
Libraries · Policy · Technology · Media

Selection from Cites & Insights 8, Number 5: May 2008

Offtopic Perspective

50 Movie Hollywood Legends, Part 1

Like the original Family Classics 50 Movie Pack (C&I 5:4 and 5:7, March and May 2005) and 50-Movie All Stars Collection (C&I 6:4 and 6:14, March and December 2006), this collection isn’t limited to one genre. Like the Family Classics set, it’s mostly very old movies and includes quite a few that do qualify as classics or at least significant films of the times. (The All Stars Collection was TV movies.)

A quick reminder of the ground rules for the Mill Creek packs and how I’m dealing with the reviews:

Ø Date, director and the first run time are taken from IMDB, as are most names of stars and featured players (listed selectively and arbitrarily).

Ø When there’s a bracketed time, it’s because the actual runtime (as RealPlayer shows it) is at least a minute different from the IMDB run time.

Ø Unless otherwise stated, assume VHS-quality video—not DVD quality—with few major problems and OK mono sound quality, and assume “full screen” or pan-and-scan, not wide-screen. Most pre-TV movies were filmed full-screen, so that’s not an issue for the oldest movies.

Ø The dollar amount is what I might be willing to pay for this movie in this condition separately, with a $2.50 maximum for any single movie. If there’s no dollar amount, I wouldn’t pay anything for the movie.

Ø Any movie that gets $2 or more (“or more” is rare) is a winner. Any movie $1.50 or more is probably worth rewatching. Those at $1 and $1.25 are good but with flaws.

Disc 1

Dishonored Lady, 1947, b&w. Robert Stevenson (dir.), Hedy Lamarr, Dennis O’Keefe, John Loder, William Lundigan, Margaret Hamilton. 1:25.

Hedy Lamarr is a successful magazine editor by day, a love-’em-and-leave-’em type at night, and it’s killing her. She drops out, moves to Greenwich Village to paint, falls in love with a scientist in the same building (O’Keefe)—and can’t escape an old paramour. Murder ensues, with a solid attempt to frame her. The naïve scientist is disillusioned, but things work out. Fine drama, well acted. Downgraded for a noisy soundtrack, but still worth $1.25.

Good News, 1947, color. Charles Walters (dir.), June Allyson, Peter Lawford, Patricia Marshall, Joan McCracken, Mel Tormé. 1:35 [1:33].

This one should have been in the Musicals pack—it’s a full-fledged big-show-number musical set at Tait College, with Peter Lawford as the quarterback and June Allyson as a shy coed. There’s more to the plot, of course, but this is a big, full-Technicolor, big-production-number musical including numbers such as “The Best Things in Life are Free.” The picture’s in excellent shape, as is the sound. $2.00.

Tom Brown’s School Days, 1940, b&w. Robert Stevenson (dir.), Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Freddy Bartholomew, Jimmy Lydon, Gale Storm. 1:26 [1:20]

The problems of a boy new to Rugby (the school) and the headmaster trying to reform it from a rowdy bunch of hooligans into a first-rate school. Well played. Downrated for seriously damaged soundtrack. $1.25.

Second Chorus, 1940, b&w. H.C. Potter (dir.), Fred Astaire, Paulette Goddard, Artie Shaw, Charles Butterworth, Burgess Meredith. 1:24.

[Film also appears in Musical Classics; review repeated from C&I 7:5] The timeless Fred Astaire and a very young Burgess Meredith as two “friendly”-rival musicians who’ve managed to stay in college, running a collegiate band, for seven years. They hire a gorgeous (and effective) manager, somehow both graduate, and both try to get into Artie Shaw’s band, sabotaging each other along the way. Some slapstick, decent plot, lots of Shaw’s music and some other good numbers, and there’s a little dancing in there too. $1.50.

Disc 2

A Walk in the Sun, 1945, b&w. Lewis Milestone (dir.), Dana Andrews, Richard Conte, George Tyne, John Ireland, Lloyd Bridges, Huntz Hall. 1:57.

The walk is from the beach at Salerno to a farmhouse six miles inland. The time, the Allied invasion of Italy in World War II. Quite a good movie, with (as the sleeve says) “long quiet stretches of talk with random bursts of violent action whose relevance to the big picture is often unknown to the soldiers.” There’s some print damage, but it’s a fine war movie with good performances. $1.50.

The Most Dangerous Game, 1932, b&w. Irving Pichel and Ernest B. Schoedsack (dirs.), Joel McCrea, Fay Wray, Leslie Banks, Robert Armstrong. 1:03.

Rich hunter on a boat trip. The buoys don’t look quite right to the captain, but the hunter insists they continue—leading to a shipwreck which he alone survives. He winds up at a castle on a remote island, hosted by Count Zaroff, who recognizes him as a great hunter and boasts of hunting “the most dangerous game.” Other than a bunch of Russian-only servants, the only other ones there are a couple (also survivors of a shipwreck), with the man a somewhat drunken mess. Eventually, it becomes clear just what the most dangerous game is. Scratchy soundtrack but an effective, fast-moving flick. $1.50.

The Stars Look Down, 1940, b&w. Carol Reed (dir.), Michael Redgrave, Margaret Lockwood, Emlyn Williams. 1:50 [1:40]

British drama set in a coal mining community and apparently full of social implications. The union has pretty much deserted the working men, the mine owner’s hiding a map that indicates the mine is in danger of being flooded, a strike doesn’t help (and finally fails). Strike leader’s son goes off to university on scholarship but somehow drops out before the last year to marry a gold-digger he’s barely met—who is, of course, desperately unhappy (and indolent) in the mining town. The problem is that the movie doesn’t go anywhere. Sure, there’s the expected flood, sure, the conniving wife runs off with someone else, but there’s no sense of conclusion. Maybe the missing 10 minutes would help? $1.00.

The Bigamist, 1953, b&w. Ida Lupino (dir.), Joan Fontaine, Ida Lupino, Edmund Gwenn, Edmond O’Brien. 1:20.

Harry Graham is a traveling salesman for the company he and his wife run in San Francisco. He seems to spend most of his traveling time around LA. He’s grown a little distant from his wife of eight years, and somehow winds up in bed with Ida Lupino in LA. That one occasion, naturally, leaves her pregnant. Thus the title. The film seems to say “well, he’s a decent man who got mixed up.” I could suggest that decent men don’t cheat on their wives, but I suppose that would be Puritanical. Scratchy but well acted (with Joan Fontaine and Ida Lupino, what would you expect?). $1.25.

Disc 3

Monsoon, 1943, b&w. Edgar G. Ulmer (dir.), John Carradine, Gale Sondergaard, Sidney Toler, Frank Fenton, Veda Ann Borg, Rita Quickley, Rick Vallin. Original title: Isle of Forgotten Sins. 1:22 [1:16]

The sleeve description says, “A young couple travel to India to a remote jungle village, to announce their betrothal to the bride’s parents…” and so on, and lists George Nader as the star. If the person preparing the sleeve copy checked IMDB or standard reference works, they no doubt based that on the 1952 flick Monsoon.

This is an entirely different movie with an entirely different plot, filmed nine years earlier (with an entirely different title) and not even set in the same country. It’s about greed, gold, diving and weather. It starts in a South Seas gambling hall/brothel and winds up in a similar establishment. In between? Better than you might expect, partly because there really are no heroes among this strong cast. $1.25.

Borderline, 1950, b&w. William A. Seiter (dir.), Fred MacMurray, Claire Trevor, Raymond Burr, José Torvay, Morris Ankrum. 1:28.

Maybe I saw too much of Raymond Burr on TV, but his bad-guy movie roles always strike me as suiting him better than Perry Mason. This one’s no exception. Burr is a drug ringleader (or one rung below leader) in Mexico. MacMurray and Trevor are two different American agents sent—by two different agencies—to infiltrate the gang. Naturally, each of them thinks the other one’s part of the gang. Naturally, they fall in love. Naturally, it all works out. It’s an odd combination—part comedy, part noir, part “melodrama” as the sleeve says—but, to my mind, it works pretty well. For that matter, MacMurray makes a fine leading man and tough guy. I found it enjoyable and the print’s pretty good. $1.50.

Indiscretion of an American Wife, 1953, b&w. Vittorio de Sica (dir.), Jennifer Jones, Montgomery Clift, Richard Beymer, Gino Cervi. Dialogue by Truman Capote. Original title: Stazione Termini. 1:12, 1:30, 1:03 in U.S. release [1:03].

This one’s supposed to be a minor classic, but of course anything by Vittorio de Sica is supposed to be at least a minor classic. The plot’s pretty simple. Jennifer Jones (the “American wife”) has been somehow involved with the “Italian” Montgomery Clift and is now returning to her husband and child. The two meet in a train station and talk and talk and emote and talk and…

Unfortunately, Capote or no Capote, it’s not very interesting talk. I’m not anti-romantic: I saw and loved Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, and generally like good romances. This one…well, at just over an hour it seemed way too long. I can’t imagine sitting through the 90-minute version. For serious fans of de Sica or Jones, I’d reluctantly give it $1.

The North Star, 1943, b&w. Lewis Milestone (dir.), Lillian Hellman (screenplay & story), Anne Baxter, Dana Andrews, Walter Huston, Walter Brennan, Ann Harding, Farley Granger, Erich von Stroheim, Dean Jagger. Music by Aaron Copland. 1:48 [1:45].

What star power! What historical drama! What sweep! What…well, nonsense, at least historically. The first quarter of the movie is bizarre, as it depicts the healthy, happy, well-fed, joyous occupants of a Ukraine farming village who all have what they need thanks to benevolent Communism. They sing, they dance. Then their idyllic way of life is shattered by the Nazi invasion. The remainder of the movie is all about the occupation of their village, barbaric draining of children’s blood by evil doctors, and the brave defense by a group of horse-riding village men hiding in the hills.

If you read the whole set of IMDB reviews, you might think this is some sort of early Hollywood Communist plot (you know that old Commie Walter Brennan, right?)—as opposed to a wartime propaganda film made at the request of the President, to help convince Americans that Russians were our allies and should be thought of more favorably. This is, then, a true period piece: A picture that could not have been made with that much star power two years earlier or five years later. All that said, and all those fine actors admired, it’s just not a very good movie—not only does it romanticize the USSR, it’s sort of a mess romantically and dramatically. At most $1.

Disc 4

Starting here, I’m doing something I should have started long ago: When feasible, writing the first part of the review immediately after finishing the flick—before checking date, run length, director, etc. on IMDB. I need to offer my views before “informing” them through IMDB, particularly some of the axe-grinding reviewers at IMDB. The first movie here is a case in point.

Diamond Thieves (aka The Squeeze), 1978, color. Antonio Margheriti (dir.), Lee Van Cleef, Karen Black, Edward Albert, Lionel Stander, Robert Alda. 1:39 [1:26].

Good cast, well filmed, fast moving—and for some reason I’m pretty sure it’s a TV movie. Or, if it isn’t, it has the hallmarks of an “action” TV movie. How so? Strong cast but no real “openers” (stars who can assure a strong opening week). Catchy music that seems entirely derivative. Some odd plot holes at points. And, maybe most of all: I didn’t feel anything about any of the characters, so I wasn’t saddened or shocked when they were killed. Oh, and the fact that it’s on a disc like this even though it can’t possibly be more than 30 years old, given the cast.

The title gives you much of the plot. Thieves stealing from what I take to be other thieves. Things go badly. An imported safecracker survives (wounded) and interacts with various other actors. Lots of double-crosses. Several shootings. Lionel Stander—sidekick Max in Hart to Hart—doesn’t overact in his role as a pawnbroker/fence. Karen Black chews the scenery, as does Van Cleef. And it ends. So, now I’ll go check IMDB. Hold on… Well, look at that: Not a TV movie. Instead, a cheap Italian/West German production with many different titles in different countries—and the version here is missing several minutes, which may explain some of the plot holes. One IMDB reviewer calls it “European Trash Cinema” and that may be a good description. Well, it could have been a TV movie, even though it got an R rating (presumably for shootings with no gore). I’ll give it $1.25.

Treasure of the Jamaica Reef, 1976, color. Virginia L. Stone (dir.), Stephen Boyd, David Ladd, Chuck Woolery, Rosey Grier, Darby Hinton, Cheryl Stoppelmoor, Art Metrano. Original title Evil in the Deep. 1:36 [1:32]

This one’s a little odd, in several ways. The title and some other opening titles are slightly out of focus (maybe a digitization problem). Much of the movie’s filmed underwater—at the site of a real sunken ship off Grenada—and generally very good, although a little murky at times. Lots of voice-overs from Stephen Boyd. It’s about a group of friends who get salvage rights for a sunken 200-year-old Spanish Galleon off Jamaica and set about finding it. They seem undercapitalized, very informal in their methods and way overtrusting. For some reason, they’re not at all concerned when two people on another boat show up more than once—naturally, as it turns out, intending to kill them and take the treasure. The only significant female in the cast spends most of her time in a bikini, but does a credible acting job. At the time she was Cheryl Stoppelmoor; she changed that second name to Ladd (by marrying David Ladd, who she met during the filming) and went on to greater fame. For that matter, the cast could suggest a TV movie (Chuck Woolery?), but it’s not.

The sleeve description seems bizarre in one respect: “There’s a proverbial fly in the ointment: a big grey fly, known as a killer shark. Made before Jaws, its producers were accused of trying to rip off the Spielberg film.” Well, there’s a mention of sharks, but the cast is never imperiled by killer sharks, at least not in the version I saw. The peril is the people on the other boat. Apparently this is the G-rated version: The uncut version includes shark violence (and apparently a lot more other violence). I must admit, I suspect I prefer this without the shark; I give it $1.25.

The Klansman, 1974, color. Terence Young (dir.), Lee Marvin, Richard Burton, Cameron Mitchell, O.J. Simpson, Lola Falana, David Huddleston, Luciana Paluzzi, Linda Evans, David Ladd. 1:52 [1:41]

Excellent cast. Mostly decent acting, although nobody was likely to get any award nominations. A “narrow” movie—set over a few days and entirely in one small backwoods Alabama town. Good color, good print, good sound. The missing footage mostly isn’t obvious –most likely omitting a rape scene (and other violence you really couldn’t show on TV) and otherwise cleaning it up for TV. A jarring movie, not surprisingly, since it deals with coldblooded Klan racism and violence in a period that’s uncomfortably contemporary—a few years after the Voting Rights Act, while some Southern towns still managed to keep blacks from voting. Without giving away much of anything, it’s a dismal ending: Lots of people wind up dead, with no real resolution in sight.

It’s not a terrible film. As trimmed here, it’s mediocre, most flawed because it’s somewhere between a violent melodrama and a message picture. As cinema, it’s a mess. As a flick, it’s so-so. $1.25.

Lola, 1969, color. Richard Donner (dir.), Charles Bronson, Orson Bean, Honor Blackman, Michael Craig, Paul Ford, Trevor Howard, Robert Morley, Susan George. Original title Twinky. 1:36 [1:18].

An odd one, and if you think the name bears some resemblance to Lolita, you may not be entirely wrong. Charles Bronson (back in his pre-action days) plays a mid-30s American writer (of novels hot enough to get banned in some places) in London, who gets involved with a 16-year-old schoolgirl (in a short-skirted uniform quite plausible for the time). She convinces her to marry him: In Scotland, at the time, she’s apparently legal without parental consent. Her parents are shocked—but her grandfather (Trevor Howard), somewhat of a dirty old man, seems delighted. They go to America. Things don’t go terribly well. Orson Bean has a good role as Bronson’s lawyer, who thinks the marriage is absurd. The biggest problem, really, other than titles that seem to focus primarily on the exposed thigh and bent leg of a bicycling schoolgirl, is a total lack of resolution. There’s no ending to speak of. Not that this would have been a great picture anyway—it’s remarkably superficial given the story line. (That could be the missing 18 minutes; they’re not obvious as it stands.) Looking at IMDB after writing the above: Susan George was Lola/Twinky, and 18 at the time. Good print, good sound, surprisingly good cast, generally good acting. Just not much depth or closure. $1.25.

Disc 5

Boy in the Plastic Bubble, 1976, Color, made for TV. Randal Kleiser (dir.), John Travolta, Glynnis O’Connor, Robert Reed, Diana Hyland, Ralph Bellamy, Buzz Aldrin, 1:40 [1:35].

Note: I reviewed this flick back in 2004 as part of the “DoubleDouble Feature Pack.” Technically, that means I should watch it again, as this is likely to be an entirely different print. But I’m not sure I can bring myself to watch John Travolta’s early “acting” again—so I spot-checked it for print quality and timing.

Here’s the original review. This is an Aaron Spelling production: A TV movie with a very young John Travolta. I’m not sure where the five minutes went (or if the IMDB info is correct); it seems to be a decent print. I’d have to say Robert Reed, Glynnis O’Connor, Diana Hyland, and Ralph Bellamy all out-act Travolta, who seems unformed as an actor at this point. As TV movies go, it’s mediocre but watchable. $1.00.

Oh, Alfie, 1975, color. Ken Hughes (dir.), Alan Price, Jill Townsend, Paul Copley, Joan Collins, Rula Lenska. Original title Alfie Darling. 1:42 [1:19]

Make a successful picture (Alfie) and what do you get? A sequel of sorts. It’s about a good-looking but vapid truck driver who has his way with several women, married or not, and finds one who doesn’t fall for him immediately. Naturally, he pursues her; naturally, she catches him. After a little nonsense (he gets punched out by one of the cuckolds, his codriver falls in love, gets married and needs advice), all ends well. That’s pretty much all there is to it.

The sleeve description (apart from spelling “truckor” with an “o”) says Alfie “uses his job as a way to commute from tryst to tryst in his travels across the United States,” that the woman in question is “as callous and fond of one-night stands as he is” and that their relationship faces “dangers waiting in the shadows.” Hmm. The movie I saw was set in England and France both in fact and in dialog, I saw no sign that the woman (a magazine editor) was callous or fond of one-night stands, and if there were any dangers they might have been that she’d come to her senses and see what a himbo she was hitching up with. No such luck. Then again, IMDB mentions “female nudity” which certainly isn’t the case—this is probably a TV version with quite a bit lost from the original. Ah well, it’s reasonably well filmed with a good print. For that, I’ll give it $1.00.

Carnival Story, 1954, color. Kurt Neumann (dir.), Anne Baxter, Steve Cochran, Lyle Bettger, George Nader, Jay C. Flippen. 1:35 [1:33].

A carnival isn’t making it in America so they decamp to Germany—where a beautiful woman clumsily pickpockets one of the carnival folk (who appears to have pocketed a portion of the gate). He catches her, she’s down on her luck, he invites her to join the carnival (as a general helper) and, of course, makes his move. He’s abusive, but she takes it (or maybe “and she loves it”—that’s never entirely clear). Then she meets up with the high-diving artist, who adds her to his act, courts her and marries her. Then the high-diver plunges to his death when a rung of the ladder is loose.

Sure, it’s ruled accidental. Sure, nobody even checks the ladder. You can’t possibly imagine that the sleazy ex-boyfriend could have anything to do with it… Later, he shows up again. The husband had willed his entire fortune to her ($5,000, but this was a while back), all in cash, all hidden behind a mirror. The no-good boyfriend who she can’t resist disappears with the five large. Oh, there’s another man involved: a photographer who’s sympathetic to her plight and, naturally, also falls for her. I’ve probably left out her attempt to spice up the act after her husband’s death by doing a 360 in midair, which causes her to land badly and be out of commission for some time. Eventually, it all ends—with a minor character playing a major role. If this all sounds melodramatic, it is. But it’s also well filmed and not badly acted by a good cast, with a pretty good print. $1.50.

Four Deuces, 1976, color. William H. Bushnell (dir.), Jack Palance, Carol Lynley, Warren Berlinger, Adam Roarke. 1:27 [1:24].

The sleeve calls it a “tongue-in-cheek crime melodrama” and it has a fine cast, with Jack Palance, Warren Berlinger and Carol Lynley (among others). It’s done comic-book style, with big color captions popping up on some scene changes. The print’s pretty good, sound is fine, good Roaring 20s music, reasonably well filmed.

Maybe that’s enough. It’s a lively story with loads of action, double crossing, explosions, gunsels, maidens in distress… No heroes, really, but a variety of villains in what’s basically an old-fashioned prohibition-era gang-vs.-gang war, with each gang having a speakeasy as headquarters. Somehow I couldn’t get into it. Sure, you could say it’s all comic-book violence, but it seemed as though the only ways to move the plot forward were machine guns and arson. I don’t know about tongue-in-cheek, but I found it offputting. You might think it’s great good fun. I didn’t, and wind up with (charitably) $1.00.

Disc 6

Smash-Up: The Story of a Woman, 1947, b&w. Stuart Heisler (dir.), Susan Hayward, Lee Bowman, Marsha Hunt, Eddie Albert. 1:43 [1:30]

A nightclub singer helps her boyfriend get a job as a radio singer. He succeeds. They marry. He succeeds more. She quits her job—after all, he’s making all the money they need or want. She has a baby. He’s gone a lot of the time. Meanwhile—well, the opening scene shows her downing a double (straight up) in about five seconds before going on, and as time goes on she has lots of doubles, to the point of seeing double, falling down drunk and starting out again the next morning. Also, she smokes and has a bad habit of dropping the lit cigarette when she’s pretty well lit. Eventually, her husband files for divorce and custody, she kidnaps the child…and, well, you can pretty much guess what happens next. After that, according to the sleeve, “with hard work and her husband’s support, she overcomes her addiction.”

Except that, in the version I saw (which appears to be missing a scene or three), the last minute of film has her going from being bandaged in a hospital bed to sitting up and assuring her husband that it’s all going to be OK from now on. No hard work, just instant cure. Never mind that. Susan Hayward is quite effective (good enough for an Oscar nomination), Eddie Albert is excellent as her husband’s songwriting partner and her friend and accompanist (the only constant through the breakup), and it’s well filmed (and a decent print), but certainly not a landmark in cinema, even as a “sudser” and precursor of all those Lifetime TV movies. Supposedly based on the life of Bing Crosby’s wife Dixie Lee. $1.25.

The Big Wheel, 1949, b&w. Edward Ludwig (dir.), Mickey Rooney, Thomas Mitchell, Mary Hatcher, Michael O’Shea, Spring Byington, Hattie McDaniel. 1:32 [1:23].

If you go by the sleeve, this is a similar story to Smash-Up, but with a racecar driver as protagonist. He gets drunk, ruins his life (by killing another driver because he doesn’t recognize that alcohol and gasoline don’t mix), and eventually manages to recover. Well, no. Set aside the fact that alcohol (i.e., ethanol) and gasoline mix very nicely; that’s not really the plot.

Mickey Rooney stars as a young would-be racecar driver whose father was also a racecar driver, killed in a crash at the Indy 500. The start of that sentence may tell you a lot about how you’ll approach this flick. If you find Rooney immensely irritating as an actor, it helps that he’s playing an arrogant, bullheaded young driver—but makes him less sympathetic than I think he’s supposed to be. Anyway, yes, he crashes into another driver. Yes, he was drunk at one point, but that was the night before, and he was trying to warn the other driver that his wheel was about to fall off. But, of course, since this punk was fond of saying “I’ll drive right over ‘em” with regard to other drivers, people aren’t likely to believe his story. That’s the key plot turn. Naturally, it all sort of works out in the end.

I’m not fond of Rooney and that may color my rating. It’s reasonably well filmed and not badly acted. Lots of car racing scenes. All things considered, it’s another middling $1.25.

Killing Heat (original title Gräset sjunger), 1981, color. Michael Raeburn (dir.), Karen Black, John Thaw, John Kani, John Moulder-Brown. 1:45 [1:30].

Let’s see if I can summarize the plot. A man asks a woman to marry him. She says yes. They wind up in South Africa (the old apartheid South Africa), on his badly run farm. She’s miserable from the get-go, and doesn’t especially hide it, mostly moping around looking like death warmed over. He gets terribly ill from time to time. She winds up dead—but since the film begins with her dead, we knew that already.

The sleeve says something about her being a successful woman and having a hard time coping with the new country, and being involved with another man. None of that comes through in the picture. What comes through is…well, nothing much, as far as I could tell. It might make more sense with the other 15 minutes. Maybe. Karen Black gives perhaps the most dispirited, dreary, flat performance of her career (or at least of any of her movies I’ve seen). I didn’t care about any of the characters. If I was watching this from start to end, I would have given up a third of the way in: It’s slow, uninteresting, with no particular point that I could find. It’s just blah, and unpleasant blah at that. Maybe I’m missing something, but I think I’m being charitable even to give it $0.25.

The Fat Spy, 1966, color. Joseph Cates (dir.), Phyllis Diller, Jack E. Leonard (twice), Brian Donlevy, Johnny Tillotson, Jayne Mansfield, “the Wild Ones.” 1:20

I’d call this a triumph of programming. On its own, this teen/bikini/singing flick is a poor example of its kind, with third-rate songs (I’m being kind here), a plot that’s thin even by the standards of the genre, and dancers who don’t seem to much like dancing. But as the second disc on this side, it’s badly-needed comic relief with a little life to it, making it watchable nonsense.

It’s nonsense, to be sure, and mediocre nonsense at that. Maybe it’s intended as a spoof on the teen-bikini movies, but those always seemed to be spoofing themselves. Phyllis Diller is, well, Phyllis Diller. Jack E. Leonard is so-so in his twin parts. Jayne Mansfield makes the most of an odd part, but the script gives her nothing to work with. The Wild Ones were a very minor and (on evidence) not very talented band—apparently best known for doing the first, non-hit, version of “Wild Thing.” The print is very good and the sound is fine. Independently, probably $0.75. Through the genius move of pairing it with a depressing, badly-done downer, it shoots up to $1.00.

Summing Up

Good News is a fine film. Second Chorus, A Walk in the Sun, The Most Dangerous Game, Borderline, Carnival Story are all probably worth second viewings. That’s six good movies on the first six discs, which sounds good—or one-quarter of the total, which isn’t quite so great. On the other hand, there’s only one total loser; the rest are mostly “middling”—not great, not awful. I count a total of $29.25, or $22 if you leave out everything below $1.25.

Cites & Insights: Crawford at Large, Volume 8, Number 5, Whole Issue 102, ISSN 1534-0937, a journal of libraries, policy, technology and media, is written and produced by Walt Crawford, Director and Managing Editor of the PALINET Leadership Network.

Cites & Insights is sponsored by YBP Library Services,

Opinions herein may not represent those of PALINET or YBP Library Services.

Comments should be sent to Cites & Insights: Crawford at Large is copyright © 2008 by Walt Crawford: Some rights reserved.

All original material in this work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons. org/licenses/by-nc/1.0 or send a letter to Creative Commons, 559 Nathan Abbott Way, Stanford, California 94305, USA.