About

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Hi. Thanks so much for stopping by.  We offer some opinions, some facts, some fun. Accent on fairness, no highbrow snob action, free of p.c. bleats and axe-grinding.  While I don’t isolate in a darkened room, spilling a diet soda while talking back to the screen, and can run, jump & throw a ball like other people, over six decades I’ve somehow managed to see more than 6,000 movies. I like to share my takes on the stories they tell and the people who tell them. That’s pretty much it in a nutshell, but below we’ll give you an idea of what you might notice the site includes and also what is missing.

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Kid with special effect, fort and friend. 1962, maybe just after seeing “Lawrence Of Arabia”, “The Longest Day”, “Mutiny On The Bounty”–or, hey, wait a sec –“The 300 Spartans!”

We struggle to keep write-ups fair enough to applaud what works in films that may not be successful and nudge what may be lacking in those that are, and favor putting things in historical and thematic context, if the specific production calls for it. As to synopses, let’s keep those as brief as possible. It’s a cheat when reviewers use up half or more of the text of a piece to go in detail over the plot. War Of The Worlds: Martians attack the Earth. Bingo! All I need to know.  Now, is it good or bad, and why, why not?–that’s what I’m after. Too much info on the storyline is like getting directions to a store so complicated you need a secretary and a camera.  Plus, I want people to read all the way to the end, and get as much clue as they can without losing patience or giving away the experience of seeing the movie. Cut to the chase.

The reviews are of standard theatrical releases. No made-for-TV films, no HBO & friends mini-series (a shame, as these are often movie-quality work), no short subjects. The only exceptions are a very few incidences where productions made for the tube were later released as features (something like Davy Crockett, King Of The Wild Frontier would be an example).

We’ll often note the ages of some of the cast members at the time the film was made, sort of placing these screen-people we feel we “know” in their own stage of development as artist or person. “Wow, Lancaster was 44 and he could still jump over that log like a teenager!”

Academy Award winners and nominations are cited.  Oscars are noted since they’re the industry gold standard, whether you agree with them or not.  Wheezing brouhaha over their relevance, fairness, silliness, oversights, scandals, is chewed to death elsewhere.  Like most fans, I have opinions on the choices and comment on them (for fun).  The Oscars provide—aside from amusement and being a nice way of saying “bravo”—a time capsule of what people in the business felt about peers efforts, and a sort of barometric reflection of critical and public response to a given slice of cinema. Gushing “oh my God, it won seven Oscars: it must be fabulous!” or “those dumb statues don’t mean a damn thing!” are two sides of the aisle that both need to stop kicking my seat.

Figures on production costs and grosses are included with the caveat that they are never 100% reliable (accounting often shifted around by studios to address other worries, punish errant producers, hide, cheat…).  With demonic inflation, things get more screwy to pin down.  I leave it to the reader to factor in that a million bucks in 1952 doesn’t equal the same amount today.  Looking at $$ figures can also help place a film in a greater historical context as to The Market—“wow, it’s so famous, but no-one went to see it!”  A little romantic comedy that cost a million-five in 1962 now swallows sixty times that.  The astronomical grosses today reflect both inflated prices and a doubled population.

I welcome comments and am keen to share viewpoints and impressions, but getting into hissy-fits is not worth my time: the dwindling supply of life sand is too precious, better spent re-watching The Wind And The Lion or The Magnificent Seven for the fortieth time. Want to trade lines from It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World or The Wild Bunch, compare Bernard Herrmann to Jerry Goldsmith or just plug a comedy or monster movie you like? You came to the right place.

Some of my musings you’ll agree with, others you’ll dismiss with a snort, but whichever lane you choose, do come along on memory trips to steamy jungles, raging seas, distant planets, to boudoirs and battlefields, peals of laughter and screams of fright. Rumble with Jets and Sharks, try to reach ‘The Big W’ before Ethel, see ‘the varmint’ with Linus, take Aqaba by camel and Ft. Knox by Galore.      Cheers, Mark

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Larry Pennell, actor and a great brother-in-law

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