Thursday, July 28, 2005

Bochco Botches Battle Scenes

Last night the much-awaited premiere of Steven Bochco's "OVER THERE" aired on the FX Network. For nearly four decades Mr. Bochco has created some of the finest televison programs ever made: "L.A. LAW", "HILL STREET BLUES" and "NYPD BLUE" to name only a few. His controversial new show will, I am sure, evolve into a classic as well, and all-in-all the opening installment was a big step towards his possibly winning an eleventh Emmy.

Having said this, I must also point out that, much to my surprise, the battle scenes were clumsily shot and disappointing in terms of both drama and realism. In fact, these key scenes were as engaging to watch as a paint ball skirmish I once observed between two groups of Ernst & Winney accountants. Given Mr. Bocho's proven capabilities, I cannot help but believe future battle scenes will resonate with greater authenticity. I know I'll tune in next week; I encourage you to do the same.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Is "CRAPPIE" pronounced with a hard "A" or a soft "A"? Actually, I enjoyed meeting Wally Marshall, aka "Mr. Crappie." He's a fine fellow, indeed.

Invasion Of The Mexican Leaf Blower

God help me -- God help us all!

Not too long ago we were told that KILLER BEES were making their way northward, from Mexico and beyond, and life as we knew it would never be the same. Well, I don't know about you, but I sure as Hell haven't been bothered by a swarm of these winged, hairy-bodied insects of the order Hymenoptera. Have you?

However, I recently spent what seemed to be an interminably long period of time in a typical white, upper class, mostly Republican suburb where I encountered something more vexing and more horrific than any damn Killer Bee, much less an entire swarm of them. I'm referring, of course, to a horde of Mexican Leaf Blowers, each splaying at supersonic speed grass clippings and other refuse back and forth from one household to another in an orchestrated cacophony of futility. The decible level clearly exceeded that of yesterday's shuttle launch, and what is just as annoying is that the same lawn cuttings, dust and assorted debris will simply travel from one household to another until, eventually, it is jetted back to where it came from originally. Other than watching the Rice University football team, I do not believe I have ever witnessed a group of guys who are more ineffective or more inept.

In all fairness, the Mexican Leaf Blower is simply following orders. "Gonna blow your crap over onto my sidewalk, huh? Well just you wait until my Julio arrives and you'll think you were imbeded in Operation Desert Storm old buddy." And so the cyclical cyclone continues...there will be no peace (or quiet) in our time.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Quote Of The Week

Carlos Mencia, the self-proclaimed "beaner" who refries political correctness, mentioned on his show recently that the executives at Comedy Central had requested he refrain from bashing gays. Carlos responded: "Hey, if they can take a penis, they can take a joke."


The Western is perhaps the only genre in cinema that is 100% American in its origin. Without going into detail concerning the obvious, i.e. the Western's inherent confinement to a specific time period and regionalized geographic location, it should be noted that most Westerns also possess another distinct characteristic -- the "tripartite division" between the peace loving, civilized 'townspeople', the evil, larger-than-life 'outlaw' and the frequently reluctant 'hero' who ultimately triumphs and restores law and order. What makes NO NAME ON THE BULLET an extremely interesting and entertaining motion picture is that in this case many of the townspeople are unworthy of protection and the hero is by no means a traditional one. Originally released in 1959, this film remains both insightful and relevant -- especially within the context of today's political climate

Audie Murphy plays John Gant, a hired killer who rides into Lordsburg, a tranquil, seemingly prosperous town in the old West. His reputation precedes him. Despite numerous attempts at trying to get Gant to reveal the name of the person he has been contracted to kill, the hired gun remains silent. Everyone knows he will eventually confront his prey, goading him to "draw first" so that he will kill in self defense, but for days on end Gant is content to simply hang around town and let the suspense build.

Tension mounts and one by one some of the more "upstanding" townspeople begin to panic due to previous indescretions. The banker, for example, commits suicide, convinced he's the one Gant was sent to kill. And that's only the beginning as mass guilt and paranoia quickly turn seemingly law-abiding citizens into a mob of vigilantes.

The hero is Dr. Luke Canfield (played by Charles Drake), a medical doctor who meets Gant within minutes of his arrival in town. Canfield tries to understand the mindset of this killer, and he initially serves as the voice of reason. When things apparently turn very personal, he decides to take a stand. Rather than give away the ending, let me simply say that the denouement is both surprising and inspired. As Gant says, "Everything comes to a finish."

Directed by Jack Arnold (who also directed CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON), this CinemaScope production, shot in glorious Technicolor, was released on DVD by Universal in 2004. Blessed with a terrific cast of supporting actors -- R. G. Armstrong, Willis Bouchey, Edgar Stehli to name but a few -- NO NAME ON THE BULLET is a truly fascinating, untraditional Western.

I earlier alluded to the fact that this film remains highly relevant today. Let me explain. In Lordsburg, everything on the surface appears to be benign. The town is growing, people are going about their everyday lives in a relatively carefree maner. Then, quite unexpectedly, danger arrives (in this case it is a "terrorist" in the form of a hired gunman) and the facade of comfort and harmony erodes rapidly. Many of those in power, both in terms of the town's politics and the town's business structure, overreact. They collectively succeed in getting the rank and file townfolk to unite behind their call for action, citing protection and safety for one and all as justification, but doing so primarily for their own hidden agendas and for their own personal, profitable motives. Yes, the good citizens of Lordsburg are duped and they prepare to go to war against what they perceive to be a common enemy. Luckily for them, this ruse lasts less than a day. As for us, in 2005, the clock continues to tick.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Robert A. Nowotny being "tortured" on the set of THE RADICALS. (He hasn't been the same since).



The entire staff of is excited about establishing this blog. (That's a great word -- blog -- don't you think?) We hope you will make this a frequent and regular stop on your cyberspace journeys.

Please check back soon as we begin to post movie reviews -- both long form and in the Haiku format -- plus a lot of other interesting stuff.