Since I started seriously tracking the movies I watched in 2012, the actor I've seen the most is William Powell (33 times). That isn't an accident.

Powell is one of those "actors" who always turned the characters he played into some variation of himself. We usually call that class of actor — which includes the likes of Jimmy Stewart, Clint Eastwood, and Tom Cruise — "movie stars."

Powell's cool, confident, and sarcastic persona was perfect for playing con men, attorneys, and especially gumshoes. He's most famous as Nick Charles, the detective who caught the Thin Man in seven movies (the best of which is the first), but you may recognize him as Philo Vance who he played in five other films (beginning with the silent-turned-talky The Canary Murder Case).

I mention this because tomorrow, July 29, would be Mr. Powell's 107th birthday. TCM is celebrating with seven films between 6AM and 6PM. Manhattan Melodrama is in the middle (11:15AM). That's the movie that Public Enemy Number One John Dillinger was walking out of when he was gunned down by G-Men. It's also the first film to pair Powell with his on-screen soul mate Myrna Loy, the future Nora Charles (and not-coincidentally, the actress I've seen the most, 35 times). Oh, and Cary Grant is in it, too (14 times).

Happy Birthday, Mr. Powell.

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As my father's late mother would have said, there's always time for picture shows!

104. (1543.) John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum (2019)
Seeing this in a theater was my treat to Dad treat before his heart surgery, and it was a worthwhile experience... if you like bloody murder-fest actioners, which Dad certainly does. Unlike many reviewers, I thought it was better than Chapter 2. Kill 'em all, John.

105. (1544.) Lady of Burlesque (1943)
A very enjoyable B-picture murder mystery based on a book written by, of all people, the burlesque queen Gypsy Rose Lee. You go, girl! The protagonist is played by Barbara Stanwyck, who I should mention is the greatest actress who should have played Lois Lane but didn't.

107. (1546.) The Bishop Misbehaves (1935)
This film is more a comedic crime caper than the sort of whodunit it's lampooning. Disappointed by the lack of mystery, I found it a bit tedious. Your mileage may vary.

108. (1547.) Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970)
If this film is to be believed, America is almost as responsible for Pearl Harbor as the Japanese. Another case of victim blaming? From what I've read, the history is pretty solid.

109. (1548.) Kong: Skull Island (2017)
Historical accuracy has no relationship with this film. They couldn't even keep Kong's height consistent. I suspect if plays well with the Pacific Rim crowd. I liked the style, but most 1960s comic books were better written.

110. (1549.) Get Out (2017)
I can see why this was such a big hit. More psychological thriller than horror, it is very well made and a lot of fun. It drags a bit late when the writing is on the wall and you're waiting for the reckoning that is obviously coming, but I found that reckoning to be plenty satisfying enough to make up for the wait.

More to come.

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Forest Lawn Memorial Park is just around the corner from my Dad's new house. It's been there since 1956, which means it was there when I was in high school. I must have passed it hundreds of times, but I'd never been in. Not until this week when the beautiful weather made a side trip necessary.

Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful grave

I've never liked it. Oak Hill is the older cemetery closer to town. As previous posts on this blog prove, I like it fine. Forest Lawn, on the other hand, has always seemed to me more like a small, sterile golf course than a cemetery. Now that I've been in, I'll second my own first impression.

Fore

I've never been a believer that cemeteries should remain solemn and unused plots of ground. If you can't celebrate the lives of the dead, why remember them at all? Besides, a tiny metal plate with a stack of fake flowers is hardly how I'd want anyone to remember me.

Please Refrain From Loud Noises Or Activities That Disturb The Serenity Of The Park

The rules are posted by the entrance. The first one is no kids (living ones, I assume). The second is no recreational equipment (read: no fun). The third is no pets ("Leashed Or Unleashed": even fish are out). That sounds awfully exclusionary, but read to the bottom and you'll see that "Properly Attired Walkers And Joggers Are Welcome Except During Funeral Services." Thanks for that offer, but I think we'll keep on passing by.

Choose life

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The Shadow knows what I sing in the shower. It's this:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CXpWfd1BNkQ

Wind? Strobe lights? Hammerpants? Oh, early 1990s, where have you gone?

Seriously though, this is always the song I think of when I see Talyor Dayne's name come up, which isn't often enough. Tell it to my heart, indeed.

And while I'm on the subject, with apologies to The Hunt for Red October, I still consider The Shadow to be the best Alec Baldwin movie. (I like Royal Tenenbaums more, much more — it may well be my favorite movie ever — but Baldwin's only the narrator, so it doesn't really count. For similar reasons, the best Sam Elliot movie is Road House, not The Big Lebowski.)

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Meanwhile, dogkind had already long mastered leaping

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Maybe I'm just jealous that they didn't sell poop-shaped toys when I was three years old, but no. Just no.

I *wouldn't* buy that for a dollar

I don't know what's wrong with kids in 2019. Back in my day, everyone came with their own poop slime formula.

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Mom and I continue watching Hallmark mystery movies. We've discovered that they're a uneven bunch, often relying on formula to overcome a lack of characterization and charisma. As an actor, it must be a good paycheck if you can get it.

We were big fans of the "Murder She Baked" series. Mom had read the books, and the actors had a rapport better than most of the comparables. Sadly, that series was canceled, and much of the cast moved on to other things. Specifically, these things.

89. (1528.) The Chronicle Mysteries: Recovered (2019)
Alison Sweeney, formerly Hannah the baker, here plays podcaster Alex who investigates an unsolved missing persons case. (Sound familiar? I have to wonder if the "Serial" podcast is getting a cut.) The missing person is played by the actress who played Hannah's sister, and Alex is romantically linked to the actor who played Hannah's sister's husband. It's really a head trip, which is good because the mystery is not. The ending is astonishingly bad.

93. (1532.) The Chronicle Mysteries: The Wrong Man (2019)
The Chronicle cast is back, this time with two mysteries. Alex is now editor of a newspaper and sets out to solve a crime involving dead lawyers and mobsters. Speaking of lawyers, Hannah the baker's mother's lawyer is now a farmer-turned-engineer. The resolution hinges on the improbably timely arrival of a piece of evidence and an unusually talkative stevedore. But if you can swallow the ending to the first one....

106. (1545.) The Chronicle Mysteries: Vines That Bind (2019)
There's a third one! As a favor to the newspaper gossip columnist, Hannah Alex travels to another state to solve a double murder in a vineyard that may have been committed by the daughter of the victim. Or his wife. His daughter! His wife! The guilty party is telegraphed far too early, so it felt like we spent most of the second half looking for red herrings. Bah.

Obviously, these are not the best that Hallmark has to offer. (Personally, I still like Darrow & Darrow.)

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What? I skipped a post again? Dammit.

In my defense, I've been busy these past few days. As you know, I've been supervising Dad's medications and dog-sitting Rambo and Scarlett (and trying to make July not jealous). Also, there have been issues with our commercial rental property, including an AC failure and an (unrelated) fallen tree that damaged the roof and destroyed the gutter over the back door that has a bad tendency to flood. Add to those that I have an end-of-July deadline on a coding project. And I helped one friend build some shelves and another fix her cable system. And my own ISP was down for most of Friday and Saturday. And I've been trying to find time to write more. And and and and.

But that's all just excuses.

On the up side, I did just recently discover that my phone takes great panoramic photos, a feature which I have been using exclusively to take photos of clouds.

Beautiful Clouds: Polution's one redeeming feature

So that's good. And that's enough.

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Poor Toto was still black in Oz

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I don't mean to tell the King of the Sea his business, but he's doing it wrong.

Left to loosen, son!
Aquaman #1 (Jan-Feb 1962)

Yes, I am willing to accept the premise that Aquaman and Aqualad have been magically reduced to three inches in height by a water sprite (named Quisp!) in an attempt to save them from rampaging Inner Earth fire trolls.

And every DC fan knows that Atlanteans can only survive out of the water — salty or otherwise — for one hour, so obviously they need to get into this Army Jeep's radiator to stay alive. (Antifreeze poisoning? Never heard of it.)

Yet I just can't get past the fact that Aquaman doesn't know how to open a radiator cap.

My suspension of disbelief only goes so far.

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To be continued...

 

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