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Beautiful scenery, important story, badly presented by lousy directing
There are so many extraneous and disruptive non-essential scenes, the important story of the history of The Liberator, Simon Bolivar, and those of us who would like to know that story, are badly short-changed.
Yes, it is a very big-budget film, with apparently thousands of extras amid the mountainous grandeur of South America, but so much is shown almost as a collage or montage, it never holds together as a narrative.
Good actors are wasted when a director is as apparently narcissistic as this one seems to be. Tell The Story! But, no, he wants to impress us with his directing. And fails.
Too much camera work is obviously shakily hand-held and wobbly, and probably "The Liberator" or "Libertador" could have been saved by better editing, but my guess is the director bossed that.
Other than the acting and the score by Dudamel, oh, and the scenery, and I suppose the scope, for viewers who might care about that, there is not a lot to recommend here.
Author Oliver Drake was having an off day, but lots of action
Oliver Drake is one of my script-writing heroes, but his work here is just not up to his usual standard. Much of the story doesn't quite hold together, and, besides, it looks like somebody's idea for a serial after somebody (Pappy Yates?) changed his mind.
However, it does star the Three Mesquiteers, and all three get a chance to shine.
In fact, Crash Corrigan even gets to remove his shirt. (What a gorgeous specimen he was, even still when I met him, just a month before he died. He started as a physical fitness expert and continued to take care of himself.)
Probably the best way to enjoy "Riders of the Whistling Skull" is to ignore the story and appreciate the action, of which there is plenty, and the scenery, including the Whistling Skull of the title.
Yakima Canutt is present so you know there will be lots of stunts, and some very good ones.
Another reviewer mentions the "comradery" among the three and it's true there is almost no friction this time, except for a little joshing.
Lullaby, in an interesting change, ends up with a lady, but "ends up" surely means only till the next entry in the series.
It's a rather weak 3M movie, but the series itself was always uneven, with different eras and different roles for the heroes. Still, it's a pleasant enough way to spend about an hour.
The Mikado (1984)
This is the best "Mikado" I've ever seen -- just magnificent!
Individually and as an ensemble, the performers are wonderful, marvelously talented, thoroughly watchable, and downright enchanting.
Because a Facebook friend was in a recent Los Angeles production of "The Mikado," and I cheered him on, other friends mentioned other versions, including the English National Opera version (with Eric Idle). I had started the festival by linking the 1939 movie version, available at YouTube, and so have now watched several different productions.
All are good. Of course.
This is the best.
There is a sparkle, a brightness, a joy in the performances I don't find quite matched in any other that I've seen.
The singing, the acting, the dancing, the directing, the camera work -- all work together wonderfully. As old and crippled as I am, I found myself wanting to see a local production with me as ... well, that's where reality stepped in. So I just will re-watch this CBC video and marvel.
There is one sad note: That extraordinary talent who played Katisha died in May of last year, 2018. I sat absolutely enthralled by her scene with Ko-Ko when he sang "Tit Willow." Christina James' obituary said that, despite her astonishing talent as a performer, she would be best remembered as a teacher. If she were a better teacher than performer, then her students must considered among the luckiest in the world.
I highly recommend this superior version of "The Mikado," and you can find it at YouTube.
The Mikado (1987)
Magnificent individual performances, but ...
There is one bad bit of casting: Felicity Palmer, of that extraordinary voice, most definitely does not have "a caricature of a face." Even if she weren't lovely to look at, she is so very lovely to listen to.
This production of "The Mikado" in formal English dress does not quite fit with the songs and general story. Yes, "The Mikado" has been produced in many different settings, and perhaps the people who do the producing figure, "Well, heck, we don't have any Japanese performers, why should anything else be Japanese?"
OK, we have already suspended our disbelief, so let's do it completely.
That's about it for criticism and complaint. The singers are simply magnificent, even Eric Idle, who is still mostly known as a "Monty Python" comic. Probably it would be wrong to try to single out anybody else because in this English National Opera production, the individual performers are, again, simply magnificent, and each and every one deserves huge bravos and plaudits.
Since this "The Mikado" is one of several at YouTube, you can watch it, compare it to any of the several others, and watch it again. And re-watch it again. "The Mikado" is apparently the most popular of the Gilbert and Sullivan creations, and there is even a motion picture version, also at YouTube, released in1938, in addition to one more produced the same year as this one, 1987, one from Canada, and still more.
Probably none of them are not worth watching at least once, and I certainly recommend this ENO version.
The Flying Ace (1926)
Even more interesting than entertaining, but quite enjoyable
Why the hero was made a "Flying Ace" I don't know. The only black American flyer in the Great War was never allowed into the U.S. forces and so flew for the French.
But, so what? The hero here looks both heroic and like a flyer, and he and his one-legged buddy get back home just in time to help solve a robbery.
The one-legger, playing a character known as Peg, is Steve "Peg" Reynolds and I think he steals the movie: Just watching him scurry around on his left leg and crutch is alone enough to make a viewer want to see this movie.
An introductory title card mentions all the players are "colored artists," and they truly are artists. Perhaps not great, still all are competent or better, all are worthy of more and better parts, and that they mostly didn't get more chances speaks badly of the motion picture business.
Florida was in competition for movie production with California for a while, and such big stars as Oliver Hardy began their careers there. So the players of "The Flying Ace" could and should have gone on to bigger and better billings, perhaps especially Kathryn Boyd.
She was cute, fun to watch just walk into and out of a scene, and visually charming. It was easy to understand why one of the villains was so taken with her, and that the hero decided to stay around to get to know her better.
That hero, Laurence (here "Lawrence") Criner, kept acting through 1950 and "The Jackie Robinson Story," racking up 27 credits. As the "Ace," he did most of his acting with his arm, but somehow still came across as a believable strong leading man.
(Ironic historical note: In one movie, his character was "Bull Connors," awfully close to "Bull Connor," the public safety commissioner of Birmingham, denounced for his acts against civil rights demonstrators, and later a Democrat member of the Alabama legislature.)
The production company, the Norman Film Manufacturing Company, was apparently Richard Norman, who wrote, produced, and directed "The Flying Ace," and I think he showed enough ability here, except for the static camera, he could have made many more movies. In fact, he could have taught a few lessons to Oscar Micheaux.
Since Mr. Micheaux seemed to be better at raising money for film production, and Mr. Norman was better at creating and producing moving pictures, they would probably have been a team we'd all be cheering these decades later.
"The Flying Ace" is not a great movie. It can never be considered a classic, but it is a fascinating bit of motion picture history. I recommend you watch it because it's a creation of a little-known production company, with little-known cast and crew, in a state barely known for movie production. It's a real horizon widener.
Boothill Brigade (1937)
Another Olmstead-Plympton script, with lots of well-played action
Other reviewers must have seen a different movie. Except for some mis-firing "comedy" by Horace Murphy, and except for the generic title, which does actually have a reference in the dialogue, "Boothill Brigade" is another good Johnny Mack Brown B Western.
Olmstead's stories usually hold up well, even after 80-plus years, and George Plympton's script adaptions are generally impressive.
This low-budget company usually produces enjoyable movies with good scripts and good production values, especially considering the budgets. And "Boothill Brigade" is no exception.
Despite the carping from other reviewers about the land-grabbing premise, this one is handled differently, and well.
Among the glories of these films are the number and variety of characters with speaking parts. These characters are mostly played by more-than-competent veterans who make their roles and the story come alive and seem plausible.
No, it's not perfect, but it's darn good and I highly recommend "Boothill Brigade," of which there is good enough print at YouTube.
A Lawman Is Born (1937)
Unusual Olmstead story played by excellent cast
Harry Olmstead is credited with the story, and George Plympton's part in the writing is not explained, but the script for "A Lawman Is Born" seems to bear a lot of the Plympton touch.
There are unusual touches and twists making this B Western several notches above the average, with some of the twists making the viewer wonder just who is the bad guy, and just how good is the good guy.
Sam Newfield outdoes himself with the characterizations of his players, and watching the byplay between and among them is impressive.
Johnny Mack Brown was simply one of the most likable performers, in Westerns or anything else, and as the store clerk pressured to do something about the pending violence, he scores again.
Earl Hodgins gets another chance to be something other than the barker type he did so often, and as usual does it well. He was a very capable actor.
Mary McLaren played the sister of the sheriff, and she nearly stole the whole movie. She has 173 credits here at IMDb, including some classics.
Warner Richmond and Charles King are backed by Dick Curtis, and they make an extraordinary team.
All cast members stand out, but Al St. John was mis-used. He and director Newfield needed tighter control on St. John's characterization, which was just over-done and over the top. But my only complaint.
The fight scenes didn't have the Yakima Canutt quality that would soon become the standard, but they were OK.
I had been discussing some movie remakes that really shouldn't have been made. But "A Lawman Is Born" is one that should be re-made, if we could find good Western performers worthy of the story.
It's not perfect, but I do recommend "A Lawman Is Born," which can be found at YouTube, though in a print that is too dark but bearable.
The Rats of Tobruk (1944)
Bad sound recording, some bad acting, but made in the middle of the war
Trying to watch "The Rats of Tobruk" at Kanopy, the library service, I was often frustrated by the too-dark print and by the frequent sound errors.
I don't like war movies anyway, and this one did what I expect from a war movie: It showed the sheer insanity of war, and how, as usual, the people in charge, meaning governments and their component politicians, manage to get people killed for pretty much no reason.
Yes, this was made in 1944, getting on toward the end of World War II, but I did expect higher quality. The Brits made good movies during the war, and they were often directly under attack.
Still, everything considered, I can recommend "The Rats of Tobruk" as an interesting experience: It's an Australian movie, which in my opinion we don't see enough of here in these United States.
Rangle River (1936)
Some silliness and poor acting at beginning evolve into exciting large-scale action
Australia and our United States have a lot in common: Both were used as dumping grounds for criminals and cast-offs, and our West and most of Australia had and have lots of room for large herds of cattle, with accompanying horse-mounted heroes.
Victor Jory got one of his rare chances to be one of those heroes, and he made a good cowboy. (Somehow, his non-Aussie speech was never explained, but probably doesn't really matter.)
Most of the rest of the very good cast is probably as unknown to most U.S. viewers as to me, except for Robert Coote. His character here is mostly just silly, and badly done ... until he arrives at the ranch and grows some. Although, come to think of it, I guess it's a "station," not a ranch.
There are more cattle in this movie than I can recall seeing in any other movie, and it's fascinating to see both the similarities and differences in how they are herded.
Supposedly Zane Grey wrote this story after having a long fishing visit Down Under, and I guess he was the appropriate writer. The story could have been placed perhaps in many countries, but especially Australia or these United States.
I found "Rangle River" quite by accident via a new-to-me subscription service called Kanopy, which one joins through one's library. Or through a library. I was able to use an old card from a large-enough system that is connected. I highly recommend Kanopy, even though it also offers more pure garbage than I knew even existed.
But Kanopy has quite a few of these classic and/or fascinating Australian movies, too, and having access to them more than makes up for having to scroll through the garbage.
If you like the history and, for that matter, the geography of movies, I do urge you to watch "Rangle River."
Alongside Night (2014)
Astonishingly well done, and writer-director's loss is made even worse
Knowing something about the difficulties in the making of this movie, I sat in genuine open-mouthed awe.
Author, producer, and director J. Neil Schulman just died a couple nights ago, as I type, and I have cried buckets already. Watching this astonishingly good movie, I have cried even more: What an extraordinary talent we have lost.
J. Neil and I never met, but we exchanged many communications. I felt we were more than acquaintances, and we were certainly allies.
I have been impressed by his writings for decades now, and recently I discovered his short posts on Facebook were often hilarious.
J. Neil was an advocate of human liberty. I notice many of the negative reviewers here dislike that concept. They prefer authoritarianism, or even tyranny, judging by their words. Of course they won't like this movie.
But it is so good, it has such an engrossing story, and it is so well acted, so well directed, so well photographed, one need not be in philosophical agreement to appreciate, admire, and like "Alongside Night."
Of course I was predisposed to like it, but what I saw just overwhelmed me with its inventiveness and great production values, and even a good score.
My only complaint, and I am crying as I type this, is that I didn't see and review this excellent creation so J. Neil could know how much more I admire him, how much more I marvel at his talent, after watching "Alongside Night."
I do highly recommend this movie, and hope millions of people will buy a copy. It won't help J. Neil now, and he desperately needed the money in his last years, but it will be a tribute to him, a small way to say "J. Neil Schulman, R.I.P."
It Happens Every Thursday (1953)
Delightful look at serious problems of small-town paper
As a long-time and former journalist, I was hooked early when a character bought a copy of the magazine "Editor & Publisher," the bible of the newspaper industry -- or it was then. And was into the many years of my being in the industry. (I even wrote an article for it.) But it might not even exist now, since newspapers themselves are dying like the proverbial flies, or cutting days of publication from seven to as few as three.
What the magazine-buying character found was an ad selling a small-town weekly, the owning of which, at one time, was many a journalist's dream.
And, for some, maybe for many, the dream still exists, although it is probably more difficult now to make a living with such a publication.
Many of the difficulties shown in this movie are drawn from real life. People will not subscribe. People will not advertise.
But they by gosh expect to have their stories covered, their clubs, their sewing circles, their engagements and weddings, their schools, their churches. "And be sure to spell my name right this time: It's 'D-O-W.' With a 'D' and not a 'C.' "
(I once misspelled "Raul" as "Raoul," French vs. the correct Spanish. First rule: ASK the spelling, especially names.)
When a farmer complained about no coverage for the drought, he expressed a valid complaint. With an almost non-existent staff, a paper might not be able to cover much outside the nearest neighborhoods around the paper's office.
The editor's response here is rather extreme, even for California, and takes the story out of the mundane.
The cast in this Universal Picture is top of the line, and they are handed some excellent well-written dialogue.
I highly recommend "It Happens Every Thursday," a very good copy of which is available at YouTube.
The Last of the Clintons (1935)
Very talented cast in story with twists and turns
Harry Carey was one of the best of the cowboy heroes, and even at an age best described as "no longer young," he was still the hero.
Here his character is opposed by one of the busiest of great character actors, Tom London. According to one source, London was in probably in excess of 2,000 roles!
Charles "Slim" Whittaker plays a worried father, an anxious rancher, and a temporary sheriff, with his worrying daughter played by a lovely and talented, but not well known today, Betty Mack. Really, with her looks and ability, she should have many more credits, but apparently most of her roles were uncredited!
Conflict is provided by cattle rustling as well as a romance frowned upon by the aforesaid father, and some undercover investigating that gets discovered too soon.
Character Victor Potel is almost unknown today, but he plays the title role, the last of the Clintons -- which title has absolutely nothing to do with the story! I will never understand why Hollywood seemed to love pointless titles.
But Potel, Earl Dwire, Lafe McKee, and the others performing here made Hollywood movies, and especially Westerns, possible. "The Last of the Clintons" is not one of the greatest of motion pictures, but it is a very good one that I recommend.
Drum Taps (1933)
Ken Maynard and a great collection of Gower Gulch cowboys
Ken Maynard nearly always provided an entertaining Western, and the oddly named "Drum Taps" is no exception.
That title is a reference to the one time a message is delivered via, yes, drum taps. Other times, messages are sent via heliograph.
Coded messaging figures because a troop of Boy Scouts have come to visit. Played by a real-life Los Angeles troop, they are led by the real-life brother of Ken Maynard, Kermit, who doesn't even get screen credit!
Leading lady is Dorothy Dix, an adorable pixie of a pretty good actress, but who quit acting early, with only 21 credits. (She was sister to actor Tex Harding.)
Strangely, the chief bad guy is played by Hooper Atchley, and he too doesn't get screen credit, although he was a fine actor, always in control and fully involved in his role. He died awfully young, but still shows 215 credits here at IMDb.
Other bad guys include Al Bridge, Charles Stevens, and Slim Whitaker, and some others of the best cowboys and stunt men in Hollywood.
"Drum Taps" never gets really exciting, although there is never a really dull moment. There's always something going on, but somehow, either because of script, by Alan James and J.P. McGowan, or McGowan's directing, it seems rather slow.
Still, it's very worth watching, and there is a good copy at YouTube.
Sea Racketeers (1937)
Despite some excellent players, not so hot
Penny Singleton stole this, and she was billed under her birth name of Dorothy McNulty. The script makes references to her legs, and in fact she was one of the prime singer-dancer performers, not just in movies but all aspects of show business.
In fact, she was eventually president of the American Guild of Variety Artists, and was the first woman president of an AFL-CIO union, leading a strike of Rockettes in 1966.
But she was so eminently watchable, even with this very minor script, very capable as performer, and just delightful to look at and listen to. Later she was the title character when Chic Young's comic strip "Blondie" was turned into a motion picture series.
In my opinion, Syd Saylor was the number two thief. He so often was cast as an at least somewhat bumbling character that seeing him here as such a strong and confident character, even though one of the villains, showed him in a new light. He stole almost every scene he was in with a great performance.
J. Carroll Naish was one of the most talented actors in Hollywood history, being able to play just about every type of role, and almost every nationality, even, as here, a United Statesian.
The two alleged heroes have pretty poor parts, though they do their best. Warren Hymer seldom got the chance to be a leading man but he showed he could do it, even with this script.
Second-billed Jeanne Madden was an excellent singer, and performed more often as a singer than actress, having only three credits listed at IMDb. Probably, with that beautiful smile, she could have done more, but now we'll never know.
Well, it lasts just an hour, and if you don't expect too much, it's a nice hour.
There is also a lesson, since the "crime" is about smuggling: Governments are quite concerned about taxing every possible item, including food. So much of what is called "crime" is really nothing but an effort by someone to keep his own money. Yet the Coast Guard here, and in real life, risks the lives of often innocent people as well as of the sailors themselves, just for government revenue.
But, again, it's a nice hour and there is a fair copy of "Sea Racketeers" at YouTube.
The Bounty Man (1972)
Except for presence of Clint Walker, too many flaws
Clint Walker was, of course, great, in a not very pleasant role. Most of the rest of the cast were good to great, even Margot Kidder.
But the music background was often stupid and intrusive, and the opening song, if it can be so dignified, was terrible.
During some tense or dramatic scenes, the performing group was giving us some old Irish tunes that were not appropriate, although at least some of them would have been very pretty in another setting.
One really irritating habit of so many movie scorers of this era was the use of sound effects. For example, during some scenes here, there is a sound like a rattlesnake, and a viewer might well expect one to pop up. It's the right country. But, no, it's just a very poor excuse for a music background.
Finally, the ending was very unsatisfactory. To me. Rather trite and obvious. Although some people will like it, including the writer. I guess.
But I give it an 8 because of Clint Walker, the scenery, and that it's a Western, even if only a TV movie.
La Bohème (1988)
Superlative production of one of the greatest operas
Wondrous! Magical! As many times as I have seen a production of "La Boheme," I am always moved to tears.
"La Boheme" is, I believe, always Number One or Two in any survey or poll as to "Your favorite opera." Deservedly.
Stars Mirella Freni and Luciano Pavarotti are matched here by the other performers, who are, simply, among the very best I have ever seen.
There is a version of this 1988 production at YouTube among some others. I think I will try to watch each and every one. But I'll return to this one again and again.
Second entry in "Tate" TV series almost as good as first
Fascinating juxtaposition of characters helps make this second entry in the "Tate" series awfully good. Credit goes to director Ida Lupino, writer Harry Julian Fink, and another extraordinary cast.
William Tennant is tightly wound as his character is ready to explode; Peggy Ann Garner is also rather intense as the "saloon girl"; and veteran Vaughn Taylor is the calm and resigned bartender -- and each and every one is captivating.
David McLean shows again why he was such a permanent fixture in Hollywood, playing the strong, decent character around whom the action revolves.
Apparently there are only 11 more entries in this series, a truly adult Western without being vulgar or cynical. I intend to see them all and I recommend this series.
This is truly an adult Western
When a first-rate cast led by a first-rate director performs a good script, it almost seems a shame to waste it on a 30-minute TV drama. Almost.
David McLean was outstanding in the series entry as the title character, but even he was overshadowed by that iconic Royal Dano.
James Coburn was also mesmerizing as the condemned prisoner whose family members, even if they don't like him, feel compelled to risk their lives to save him from the gallows.
Harry Julian Fink is author and Richard Whorf the director, and this series I had never heard of before June of 2019 gets off to such a rousing start, I have no hesitation in recommending it.
Storm in a Teacup (1937)
Very uneven but mostly enjoyable Scots-English tale
Flaws include too many cutaways for reaction, and a bit of obviousness in the plot, but those flaws are vastly out-numbered by the pleasures and joys of the total production.
As with other reviewers, I had never even heard of this movie and most of the players, so it was a surprise and delight to discover it.
I am always happy to see a motion picture present the evils of tyrannical government, even local government.
And the bullying of the chief government official, over what is to him such a minor, even trivial, matter shows just exactly what all of us, even 82 years after the release of this movie, and even thousands of miles from its setting, need to be aware of from even our neighborhood politicians and bureaucrats.
At the same time, the particular bully shows a lot of personal courage and is to be admired for it, and for his moral self-confidence.
However, as philosopher Sidney Hook warned us, and often unsuccessfully warned us, confidence in one's moral code is not good enough when that code is wrong; and courage to continue to believe in a wrong code is a dangerous courage.
As light-hearted as this production ultimately is, it is still both a lot of fun and a nice under-stated message. I highly recommend it, and there is a print available via Kanopy (for subscribers) and at YouTube.
Police Story: The Ripper (1974)
Gays are people: One of the best entries in one of the best TV series
Darren McGavin has one of his strongest and most sympathetic roles as lead detective, partnered by Michael Cole who, in one of his best roles, gives one of his best performances.
As another review says, "ahead of its time." This powerful story, with one of the best scripts of the series, also has one of its best casts.
For example, Pat Carroll, usually in a funny role, gives a strong and emotional portrayal of a gay homicide victim's mother.
Peter Mark Richman is such a strong personality, his brief appearance as a magazine publisher is scene-stealing just because of his voice and presence.
Lew Horn, about whom nothing is known here at IMDb, steals every scene he is in. What a performance! He has been a fairly busy actor, although apparently not since 1996.
What makes this a seemingly pioneering script is, simply, it's about gays, not as stereotypes -- although many of the characters so see them -- but as people, real, flesh and blood people.
When detective Baker expresses his dismay that a woman he liked, or wanted to like, is "such as waste," as he watches her dancing with another woman, his partner asks, "Can't you still like her?"
Dramatic and powerful stuff. I highly recommend this entry in the "Police Story" series. An excellent version is available at YouTube.
And the Angels Sing (1944)
Talented bunch in minor musical, and Eddie Foy Jr. shines
Fred MacMurray singing and dancing? Believe it or not. And he's surprisingly good at it.
Four young ladies of the Angel family get coerced into singing for their, and their daddy's, supper. In fact, they're, however reluctant, not only quite good but quite well received by their audiences.
Three of them are played by actresses very talented and well known for musical abilities. The fourth, Mimi Chandler, daughter of Kentucky governor "Happy" Chandler, made only one other movie. But no reason is given here at IMDb. Judging just by her performance in "And the Angels Sing," it was a great loss to the industry and to us.
The story is cute, most of the time, but gets silly and even annoying at other times as thwarted love and stalled career gets in the way.
But there is a lot more good, and I mean a LOT MORE good, than bad, and getting a chance to see Eddie Foy Jr. being other than goofy almost alone would make this movie worthwhile. Seeing him and Fred MacMurray as a nightclub act definitely makes this a must-see movie.
There is a very good print at YouTube and I highly recommend "And the Angels Sing."
The Cheyenne Tornado (1935)
Surprisingly good, though flawed
Great supporting cast, including Hank Bell as a sheriff, though as usual uncredited, and Tina Menard as a Mexican spitfire overcome the stock footage at the beginning and the star's fairly inept acting.
Tina Menard was a real Mexican, and it's good to see her role properly filled, rather than by a Gringa with a fake accent.
Reb Russell, the nominal star, had many great qualities: He was athletic, a good cowboy, but maybe he could have given a better performance with a better director.
William A. O'Connor has 10 credits as director, and many, many more as assistant or second-unit director. He was quite inventive and creative with camera placement but not so much with his star.
Oliver Drake has written a good story, and, except for Reb, it is very well presented here.
By the way, even if not very believable as a cowboy star, Reb Russell is likable and it's too bad he wasn't given training and support. He could have become a bigger name.
There is a fairly good print of "The Cheyenne Tornado" at YouTube and I do recommend your giving it a try.
The Law Rides (1936)
Powerful, gritty tale very well done
As an actor, Bob Steele just got better and better. His scripts, though, didn't get much better than this one.
The title is apparently one of those generic ones and doesn't apply here worth shucks, but the story and the great cast make "The Law Rides" one of the best of anybody's Westerns.
Leading lady Harley Wood is better known as Jill Jackson Miller, song writer, whose biggest hit was "Let There Be Peace in the World." But she was awfully good in this role, and really attractive.
Bad guy Charlie King got to show all his chops, including his extraordinary fighting ability (many times I have watched his films and wondered how he escaped serious injury). He had some wonderfully evil side-kicks, including especially Barney Furey as "Pete."
The hero's side-kick was "Whitey," well played by Buck Connors; Jack Rockwell gave a great performance as the sheriff.
Writer credits go to Al Martin and Forbes Parkhill and "credit" is the apt word. They have created a good story, with nice twists and turns, and they and director Robert N. Bradbury paid attention to details.
There is a print at YouTube that is awfully dark but otherwise in good shape. I highly recommend this excellent Bob Steele B Western.
The Land of Missing Men (1930)
Exciting story of aroused townfolks, including women, attacking outlaws
John P. McCarthy directed an excellent cast in his own script of some clever dialogue, not always well delivered, but shown against some gorgeous Western scenery, with some beautifully framed shots.
Bob Steele -- and pardon me for saying it -- looked kinda funny in a mustache, an affectation not common to him, but not unique here. But what an action star!
He even sings, several times. It did sound like him, though apparently re-recorded later in a studio. (His brother supposedly dubbed for John Wayne in those "Singin' Sandy" roles.)
Several Mexican characters were played by real Mexicans, which seems so reasonable one can't help wondering why that was not the norm. After all, it was Los Angeles and there were plenty of Mexican and Spanish people, including plenty of actors.
One of the great aspects of this early and action-packed sound Western is that there are many speaking parts, and so very many of the individual characters get a chance to stand out.
Al Jennings, a one-time real-life outlaw, plays the former sheriff and shows he actually could act.
However, Fern Emmett, playing his character's wife, steals every scene she's in. Fern Emmett has nearly 250 credits listed here at IMDb and it's easy to see why. What a performer!
One more veteran -- yes, even this early he was already a veteran -- is Al St. John. His eventual "Fuzzy" character is only embryonic here, but he shows such professional presence,
Keep watching, even though the ending is rather anti-climactic -- but visually fascinating. And again even the minor players get a chance to shine.
It's a good enough movie in and of itself, but it's even better as Hollywood history, seeing early Bob Steele and Al St. John, and late Al Jennings.
Oh, and Hank Bell has another uncredited role, but he too stands out.
There's a pretty lousy print at YouTube, and it's lousy enough you might want to watch it bits at a time. But you do want to watch it.
The Amazing Mr. Williams (1939)
Blondell is ravishing and Douglas gives what might be his best performance
With a clever and inventive script, perhaps any cast could give good performances, but "The Amazing Mr. Williams" has a wonderful, top-notch cast.
Sorry I've never heard of director Alexander Hall, but it's obviously my loss. As good as the players are, they couldn't have created such an enjoyable ensemble production without a very able director.
Probably there is no reason to list all the actors because you can see that in the IMDb listings, and, really, they were ALL so good, it would be a shame to leave out anyone.
This is a fairly low-budget movie, since it's from Columbia, but it is an incredibly high-quality motion picture, one I recommend very highly.
There is a very good print at YouTube. Please watch it.