Category Archives: TV and Film

Kissin’ Cousins

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I’ve never considered myself to be a really big Elvis fan, yet I’ve found that I have a bit of a soft spot for his movies. They are often a very simple premise with some fun songs and a few pretty girls for the King to get sweet on. Often it seems that they just plop Elvis in an interesting locale and then let the thing write itself. We get Elvis in Hawaii, Elvis in Vegas, Elvis at the races, Elvis in prison…well this time it’s Elvis goes to hillbilly country. Here he comes in dual role in 1964’s Kissin’ Cousins.

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Elvis plays Josh Morgan, a second lieutenant in the Air Force who is given a special assignment. Because of his country roots, he is assigned to accompany Captain Salbo (Jack Albertson) to the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee to convince Pappy Tatum (Arthur O’Connell) to turn over part of his mountain home to the military for a new missile silo. Upon arriving in the hills, Josh and his squad are greeted with gunfire courtesy his blonde haired double Jodie Tatum (also Elvis) and cousins Selena (Pamela Austin) and Azalea (Yvonne Craig). Josh is, in fact, a distant cousin to all of them.

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Well, it’s no easy task convincing Pappy to cooperate with the military. All the while, Josh has to contend with the flirtations of both Selena and Azalea…with Batgirl winning out. Meanwhile, Jodie starts to get cozy with the lovely PVC Riley (Cynthia Pepper). Oh, and on the other side of the mountain is a bunch of man hungry mountain women known as the Kittyhawks who keep showing up to cause trouble or try on bikinis.

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There’s always a certain degree of charm built into any Elvis film. After all, they didn’t call him “The King” for nothing. Even through the goofiest outings, he still has a pretty magnetic screen presence. Not to mention the fact that he managed to get some rather stellar leading ladies throughout his film career. Ann-Margaret, Shelly Fabres, Mary Tyler Moore, Nancy Sinatra…gimme a break!! Yvonne Craig certainly earns a place with those other ladies in this one. She’s absolutely delightful in this. Yet, despite having some strong things going for it, Kissin’ Cousins ends up being a bit flat.

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Ultimately, there’s not a lot to move the rather thin storyline forward. The whole thing hinges on a slightly absent-minded old guy being stubborn about not letting the army put a nuclear missile in his backyard. The weird part is that Elvis’ plan for getting Pappy to change his mind is to romance his daughters and take them to Knoxville to buy bikinis. Now, no one’s complaining about Yvonne Craig in a yellow bikini, but I’m not sure about this approach to diplomacy. While we’re on the subject that things are a bit questionable… we have the blossoming romance between Josh and Azaela. They are technically related, you know!!

Acting wise, Elvis is fine, but considering that he is playing dual roles, I hoped for a bit more. There’s nothing to really set Josh and Jodie apart, other than the fact that one has black hair and the other is blonde. Otherwise, they feel like the same character. Speaking of the hair color, in the first scene featuring both Elvis’, they look a bit like the Duke boys circa 1964. The filmmakers use some pretty basic split-screen effects to put both Josh and Jodie in the same scene, not to mention several shots involving doubles whose primary direction seems to have been “be sure to turn your head away from the camera.”

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Perhaps the biggest disappointment with this film, though, is on the music front. Even the sillier Elvis films tend to have at least one musical moment the stands out. Sadly, none of the songs in Kissin’ Cousins are terribly memorable. There’s no iconic numbers like you see in Jailhouse Rock or Viva Las Vegas, or even an earworm theme song like you get in, say, Clambake. I’m looking at the list of tunes featured in this flick right now and for the life of me I can’t remember how any of them go.

Kissin’ Cousins is not without a few fun moments, but most of it just kind of drags along. The presence of Yvonne Craig at least makes it slightly enjoyable. It certainly wouldn’t be toward the top of my list when it comes to Elvis films. It’s called Kissin’ Cousins, after all. Inbreeding just isn’t a good idea, folks.

Note: This post is my contribution to the Summer Under the Stars blogathon being run by my Walt Sent Me cohost, Kristen, over at her main site, Journeys in Classic Film.  Be sure to check out other Summer Under the Stars posts throughout the month.

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Forgotten Filmcast Episode 94: One False Move

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On the latest episode of the Forgotten Filmcast Todd is joined by Courtney Small from Cinema Axis to discuss a movie that was meant to be a direct-to-video film, but earned a theatrical release instead…1992’s One False Move.

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Show Notes:
Cinema Axis
Courtney on Twitter

Film’s Discussed:
One False Move
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three

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This article is from Forgotten Films. Click the title to hop over there.

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Movies and TV shows are just full of all sorts of ordinary people who take it upon themselves to solve crimes. Don’t worry about pesky things like rule of law or chain of evidence…as long as we’ve got little old ladies who write murder mysteries, or meddling kids who drive around in psychedelic vans with their pet dog, criminals better beware. Well in our film today, it’s up to a punch of plucky old vets to get to the bottom of things in the 1939 film Sabotage.

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Now, before you get all confused…this is not the Hitchcock film of the same name.  That came three years earlier.  In this film our story focuses on Tommy Grayson (Gordon Oliver), a young man who works as a mechanic at his small hometown’s aircraft factory. Most of the town works there, in fact, including his father, known as the “Major” (Charley Grapewine), who works as night security guard. Things seem good for Tommy, after all, he’s about to marry a former showgirl named Gail (Arleen Whelan). Unfortunately, there have been several problems with planes made at the factory. After the most recent military test ends in a crash that leaves several men dead, investigators determine that the defective parts came from Tommy’s work station. He is locked up, accused of being a saboteur.

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Right about the same time, the Major has an odd encounter with some men sneaking around the factory at night. He captures one of the men, who reveals his name only to then be shot by his buddy who got away. After the Major calls the cops, though, he returns to find no body. Of course, everyone thinks the old man has lost it. Things get worse when the factory closes due to the controversy and the whole town takes out their anger on the Grayson family. The Major and Gail are determined to get to the bottom of things, though, so they enlist the help of three of the Major’s old military buddies as they track down a ring of saboteurs working in their own little all-american town.

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Sabotage is an entertaining little thriller that, though only a compact 65 minutes in length, gets a little too complicated for its own good. I admit, I wasn’t always successful at following things when it starts getting into the tools from Tommy’s desk being faulty, etc, etc. I just kinda had to roll with it and take the character’s word that they’d discovered some sort of damning evidence. Speaking of evidence, though, I kept thinking, “that’ll never hold up in court,” as the Major kept moving forward with his investigation. I mean, the old dude is finding what he believes to be evidence, but then he pockets the stuff and heads off to the authorities. Then he’s like, “here’s the faulty tools and their from so-in-so’s desk.” If I were the cops I’d be thinking, “Yeah old man, prove it.” I mean he pretty much contaminates every piece of evidence he finds!

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Despite the major problems with the story, what makes the film enjoyable is some fun characters filling up this little one-factory town. The highlight is definitely the three old vets who are the Major’s gang of accomplices. Lucien Littlefield is especially fun as a Civil War vet named Eli. A scene where he uses his pipe as a gun to hold a security guard at bay is a real joy. There are a few other fun supporting characters, such as the local busybody Mrs. Hopkins (Maude Eburne). If only the villains were a bit more colorful. They’re pretty bland and we never really get a good impression of what they’re whole MO is. They’re un-american, though, that’s for sure.

Sabotage is ultimately a pleasant little B-flick. It’s got some major holes in the storytelling, but there’s still something irresistible about seeing these old codgers play detective. They ain’t doin’ the DA any favors with their investigative style, but hey, it’s just a movie.

Note: Sabotage was recently released on DVD and Blu Ray by Olive Films.  Thanks to them for letting us take a look at the film.

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Walt Sent Me Episode 80: The Lone Ranger

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Hi Ho Silver! Away! It’s time for Todd and Kristen to tackle one of Disney’s most notorious flops…2013’s The Lone Ranger. They also discuss the 1934 Mickey Mouse short Two-Gun Mickey and cover a TON of Disney movie news.

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King Solomon’s Mines

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Back in the days of VHS, I taped tons of movies off of television. My mom, on the other hand, did not. There was one big exception, though. I remember her taping the miniseries The Thorn Birds. That thing took up like three tapes in our collection! To a teenage movie freak, that felt like wasted tape space. I needed those tapes to record stuff like Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise. Now, the star of The Thorn Birds was Richard Chamberlain, who pretty much was the go-to guy for miniseries in the 80’s. There was an attempt, though, to turn him into a movie star, which brings us to our film today. It’s Cannon’s answer to Indiana Jones…1985’s King Solomon’s Mines.

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The film follows adventurer Allan Quartermain (Chamberlain) who is working for a young archaeology student, Jesse Huston (Sharon Stone), as she tries to find her missing professor father. It seems that he has information regarding the whereabouts of the legendary diamond mines of King Solomon, which has led to him being kidnapped by a Turkish slave trader (John Rhys-Davies) and a German colonel (Herbert Lom). After being at the center of a chase through a busy market, our heroes track down dear old dad on a train full of German troops.

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Unfortunately, the professor had to give up the location of the mines to the bad guys, so now it’s up to Quartermain and Jesse to beat the baddies to the loot. Along the way they encounter several tribes of natives, including some cannibals who try to boil them in a massive jug and some weirdos who like to hang around in trees upside down. Eventually, though, they make it inside the Temple-of-Doomish mines with all the baddies on their tail, plus a weird witch woman trying give Jesse a lava bath.

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Back in the 80’s, I had pretty much written this one off as a cheap Indiana Jones ripoff. I had never seen it before. Make no mistake…it most certainly is an Indiana Jones ripoff. What’s more, it has very little to do with the 1885 novel it gets its inspiration from. To all that I say, “so what!?” This is a loony, roller coaster ride of a movie and I couldn’t resist it. Pretty much every jungle adventure trope is thrown into the mix here. There’s a chase through a busy marketplace, there’s a train sequence, there’s flying around in an out-of-control bi-plane, cannibals, witch doctors, crocodiles, attempted human sacrifices…it’s all here, campers. Well, except for maybe a story. What we really have here is a simple premise that gives us the opportunity to jump quickly from one set piece to another. Did I mind? Not at all. It’s a wild and fun ride!

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Richard Chamberlain actually ends up being a real treat in this film. He very wisely is not trying to be Harrison Ford. His Quartermain can handle himself, but he’s also got a few moments of goofiness. Several sequences are played slightly tongue-in-cheek, but not quite to the extreme of say Kurt Russell in Big Trouble in Little China. Still, there are some strange little touches that Chamberlain inserts into his performance that are weirdly delightful. Call me crude, but I can’t help but chuckle the first time Quartermain spots the twin mountains, the “breasts” of Sheba, and makes a gesture with his hands like he’s…shall we say, massaging them. Likewise, Sharon Stone is quite good, too. It may actually be one of my favorites of her performances. She’s not quite as tough as a Marion Ravenwood, but also not as helpless and annoying as Willie Scott. Stone navigates that middle ground between the two quite well. While we’re making comparisons to the Indiana Jones films…what a treat it is to have John Rhys-Davies as the villain! Good ole’ loveable Sallah is just plain nasty and blood-thirsty in this. His method for navigating across a pool of killer quicksand is brutal and not to be missed.

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It is a bit surprising how brutal this film is. It’s a PG-13 movie and, though a bit tame alongside something like the Temple of Doom, it has a few shocking moments. I guess it’s not all that surprising when you realize that the director is J. Lee Thompson, who churned out several films for Cannon in the 80’s, most notably several over-the-top violent Charles Bronson flicks. I guess the cartoonish feel of the film softens the blow a bit when, for example, a guy is flattened against a door by a panel of spikes before the opening titles even run. I will say, though, that the action sequences are quite good. A few moments of cheesy rear-projection aside, the scenes are well staged and edited. They’re pretty exciting when all is said and done. The rousing Jerry Goldsmith score is just the icing on the cake.

Cannon had big plans for Allan Quartermain. In fact, a sequel, Allan Quartermain and the Lost City of Gold, was well into production by the time this film was released. Though King Solomon’s Mines turned a respectable profit, it wouldn’t necessarily have warranted a sequel. Personally, I’m anxious to check out the follow-up film as this one was an awful lot of fun.

Note: King Solomon’s Mines was recently released on DVD and Blu Ray by Olive Films.  Big thanks to them for letting us take a look!

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CRASH – the Annual

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CRASH, the Spectrum magazine from the 80s and 90s, is back in a one-off crowdfunded hardback annual!

Fusion Retro Books, producers of many retro themed publications, has teamed up with a few original CRASH employees to bring us a brand new issue. Finally, issue 99! CRASH originally ended in 1992 at issue 98, leaving millions (probably) of Spectrum owners agog with disappointment.

Already fully funded, (within 9 hours of starting!) you can share your support and own a copy from as little as £7 for the full colour PDF version. The hardback annual, like the annuals you used to get at Christmas, will cost you £15 or you can opt to get other perks with it, like a CRASH wallet or cup, or a logo emblazoned t-shirt for slightly more. You can even get a canvas of Oli Freys front cover artwork if you fancy!

Familiar names have re-joined the project, the most notable of which are original CRASH artist Oli Frey, who is producing who produced the front cover, and Lloyd Mangram who has agreed to retake the helm of the Letters page again.

There will also be reviews of modern Spectrum games and the return of the Tips section, to name a few of the features.

Fusion Retro Books have delivered on every Kickstarter they have run, and all previous publications are available to buy directly from their website.

CRASH issue 99 should be in backers hands before December this year. If you manage to keep your CRASH annual wrapped until Christmas Day, you have better will power than I do!

To check out the CRASH annual, click here –

To visit Fusion Retro books, click here –

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