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J. Michael Click RSS Feed (Pineville, Missouri, USA)
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Zane Grey Theater: Season 2
Zane Grey Theater: Season 2
DVD ~ Dick Powell
Price: $26.94

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stanwyck! Colbert! But not, unfortunately, "The Rifleman", April 11, 2014
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This review is from: Zane Grey Theater: Season 2 (DVD)
Almost five years after VCI released the complete first season of Zane Grey Theater on DVD, Timeless Media has stepped up to offer fans the second season of this great western anthology series hosted by Dick Powell. And what a season it is! The 28 episodes feature Hollywood legends like Barbara Stanwyck, Claudette Colbert, Robert Ryan, Howard Keel and Hedy Lamarr, as well as future television stars like Michael Landon, Dan Blocker, Pernell Roberts, James Drury, and DeForest Kelley.

As originally aired, the season also included the pilot for the popular television series "The Rifleman", here presented as "The Sharpshooter" (episode 2.21). Due to legal complications, this episode will NOT be included on the four-disc set. That's disappointing ... but there are still enough treasures here to qualify as five-star, "must-see" viewing.

Thank you, Timeless Media! Here's hoping you won't make us wait another 5 years before you release Zane Grey Theater, Season Three!

EPISODES INCLUDED:

2.01 - "The Deserters" - Margaret Hayes, Tom Pittman, Joe De Santis

2.02 - "Blood in the Dust" - Claudette Colbert, Jeff Morrow, Barry Atwater, Denver Pyle

2.03 - "A Gun is For Killing" - Edmund O'Brien, Marsha Hunt, Robert Vaughn

2.04 - "Proud Woman" - Hedy Lamarr, Paul Richards, Roy Roberts

2.05 - "Ride a Lonely Trail" - Walter Brennan, Val Dufour, John Zaremba

2.06 - "The Promise" - Tommy Sands, Gary Merrill, Whitney Blake, Carl Benton Reid

2.07 - "Episode in Darkness" - Dewey Martin, Anne Bancroft, Phil Pine

2.08 - "The Open Cell" - Dick Powell, Marshall Thompson, Steve Terrell

2.09 - "A Man to Look Up To" - Lew Ayres, Diane Brewster, Will Wright

2.10 - "The Bitter Land" - Peggy Wood, Dan O'Herlihy, Marian Seldes, Richard Beymer

2.11 - "Gift From a Gunman" - Howard Keel, John Dehner, Jean Willes, Michael Landon

2.12 - "A Gun for My Bride" - Jane Greer, Eddie Albert, Onslow Stevens

2.13 - "Man Unforgiving" - Joseph Cotten, Claude Akins, Johnny Crawford, Dan Blocker

2.14 - "Trial by Fear" - Robert Ryan, Harold J. Stone, Ed Platt, David Janssen

2.15 - "The Freighter" - Barbara Stanwyck, Robert H. Harris, John Archer, James Bell

2.16 - "This Man Must Die" - Dan Duryea, Carole Mathews, Karl Swenson

2.17 - "Wire" - Lloyd Bridges, June Vincent, Edward Binns, James Drury

2.18 - "License to Kill" - MacDonald Carey, John Ericson, Jacques Aubuchon

2.19 - "Sundown at Bitter Creek" - Dick Powell, Cathy O'Donnell, Nick Adams, Jeanne Cooper, Peter Breck, Tex Ritter

2.20 - "The Stranger" - Mark Stevens, Dan Barton, Denver Pyle

2.21 - "The Sharpshooter" - Chuck Connors, Johnny Crawford, Leif Erickson, Dennis Hopper, Sidney Blackmer, R. G. Armstrong (NOT INCLUDED)

2.22 - "Man of Fear" - Dewey Martin, Julie Adams, Arthur Franz

2.23 - "The Doctor Keeps a Promise" - Cameron Mitchell, Carolyn Kearney, Peter Breck

2.24 - "Three Days to Death" - Michael Rennie, Chris Alcaide, Earle Hodgins

2.25 - "Shadow of a Dead Man" - Barry Sullivan, Carl Benton Reid, Whitney Blake, DeForest Kelley

2.26 - "Debt of Gratitude" - Steve Cochran, James Whitmore, Walter Sande

2.27 - "A Handful of Ashes" - Thomas Mitchell, June Lockhart, Gene Evans, Dabbs Greer

2.28 - "Threat of Violence" - Cesar Romero, Lyle Bettger, Chris Alcaide

2.29 - "Utopia, Wyoming" - Gary Merrill, Joanne Gilbert, Pernell Roberts


Giant [Blu-ray]
Giant [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Elizabeth Taylor
Price: $14.96
27 used & new from $7.80

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Beware the One-Disc Blu-Ray from 2014 --- The Packaging is Incorrect, March 25, 2014
This review is from: Giant [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Before you order the single-disc blu-ray of George Stevens' "Giant" which was released in 2014 (as opposed to the 3-disc Digibook blu-ray which was released in 2013), you need to be aware that Warner Brothers made a mistake on the initial packaging, and that you won't be getting all the Bonus Features advertised on the insert. The only extras included on the blu-ray are: the introduction by George Stevens, Jr.; the audio commentary by Stevens, screenwriter Ivan Moffat and critic Stephen Farber; and the 46 minute documentary "George Stevens: Filmmakers Who Knew Him".

Despite what's promised on the packaging, you will NOT get: the documentaries "George Stevens: A Filmmaker's Journey", "Return to Giant" and "Memories of Giant". You will NOT receive: the TV footage of the New York premiere; the film footage of the Hollywood premiere; the Behind the Scenes footage; the stills and documents gallery; the original and reissue trailers and TV spots; or any of the other goodies listed. All these extras are included ONLY in the two DVDs included with the 3-disc Digibook release (which includes 1 blu-ray and 2 DVDs).

I would imagine that Warner Brothers will probably correct the packaging at some point, either through a recall or during a subsequent pressing, but in the meantime ... you've been warned and hopefully won't be as disappointed as I was.


Rocketship X-M
Rocketship X-M
DVD ~ Lloyd Bridges
Price: $4.38
49 used & new from $0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Jaw-droppingly Ridiculous ... But Fun Nonetheless, February 12, 2014
This review is from: Rocketship X-M (DVD)
Silly claptrap about a manned rocketship headed for the Moon which goes off-course and lands on Mars instead! This may have been one of the first movies in the sci-fi wave of the 1950's, but it's about as believable as Georges Melies' "A Trip to the Moon", made back in 1902. (That's the one in which the rocketship pokes the Man in the Moon in the eye upon landing!) Here we have a crew that doesn't board the spaceship until it's five minutes away from launching; a beautiful woman scientist who is constantly being asked why being a housewife and mother wasn't enough to satisfy her; and a group of scientists who decide to lie down and take a nap in the Martian soil when they get tired.

The strange thing about this film is that, despite being appallingly inept, it's still kind of fun to watch. Certainly the cast is a huge plus: Lloyd Bridges and Osa Massen make a beautiful romantic couple, and the impossibly handsome Hugh O'Brian displays an affable charm in one of his first sizeable roles. (Despite the claim on the DVD insert, O'Brian did not make his debut in this film. He'd already had a couple of walk-on parts in other movies, had played a large supporting role in "Beyond the Purple Hills" and had been seen in a co-starring role in "Never Fear" which was released the year before.) The special effects are amateurish (the meteors look like pieces of flying Cracker Jack popcorn), but the Martian sequences are impressively filmed in sepiatone and the set decorations are clever, especially in context of the film's limited budget. The ending of the film is somewhat surprising; I won't spoil it by revealing any specifics, but I can say it wasn't at all what I was expecting.

The DVD transfer of "Rocketship X-M" is outstanding, especially considering its provenance. This feature was originally released by Lippert, a low-end distributor not known for the quality of its prints. This film has been remastered and, despite a few minor glitches, looks and sounds great. The disc includes a nice bonus in the form of the original theatrical trailer: "You've READ about it! You've TALKED about it! Now SEE it!"). Recommended to genre aficionados and to fans of the vastly underrated Lloyd Bridges and Hugh O'Brian, two actors who richly deserved the later success they enjoyed in, respectively, "Sea Hunt" and "The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp" on television.

TRIVIA NOTE: Bridges and O'Brian later became off-screen business partners, owning and operating a hotel in Palm Springs along with Dennis Weaver, Aaron Spelling and Spelling's then-wife, actress Carolyn Jones.


Sleeping with the Enemy [Blu-ray]
Sleeping with the Enemy [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Roberts
Price: $10.13
28 used & new from $2.44

3.0 out of 5 stars Toying with the Audience, February 4, 2014
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It's bad enough that "Sleeping with the Enemy" is totally predictable, with holes in the plot that are insultingly big and obvious. What is truly terrible is that it wastes the talents of some incredibly gifted actors and filmmakers.

Julia Roberts plays Laura, a woman who fakes her own death to escape the clutches of her monstrously abusive husband (Patrick Bergin). She flees to a small town in the heartland, where she assumes a new identity and eventually falls in love with a gentle neighbor (Kevin Anderson). Now, you'll never guess what happens next! (Or maybe you will.) Could it be that her husband picks up her trail and comes after her? Naw ... that would be too cliche, wouldn't it? And how does he figure out she's alive? Oh, surely not because she actually left clues behind that are the equivalent of giant neon signs saying "Hey! I'm still alive and I ran away from you!" So guess how the story ends ...? Oh, never mind, you won't catch me ruining any "surprises."

This movie might never have been released if it didn't star the luminous Miss Roberts, who manages to hold the audience's attention through the force of her legendary on-screen charisma. She's helped immensely by the intensely likeable performance of Kevin Anderson, a dazzling actor whose failure to achieve major stardom is both inexplicable and lamentable. Patrick Bergin is unable to do much with the hateful husband, but his failure has less to do with his natural talent than it does with the role, which is both one-dimensional and underwritten. John W. Lindley's beautiful and moody cinematography is a huge plus.

Despite is amateurish failings, "Sleeping with the Enemy" was a huge hit at the box office. 20th Century-Fox was astute enough to release it in February of 1991, just after Miss Roberts had received a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her work in the smash hit, "Pretty Woman." The blu-ray release offers a solid transfer of the film, but precious little in terms of bonus features ... only a short featurette from the time of the film's original release and the original theatrical trailer. It's interesting, and instructive, to note how the film was marketed: as a Julia Roberts vehicle that in addition to displaying her megawatt smile, also happened to be a thriller. Recommended, with reservations, to fans of Roberts and Anderson. Audiences looking for an unpredictable suspense thriller would be better off looking elsewhere.


Celeste and Jesse Forever [Blu-ray]
Celeste and Jesse Forever [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Rashida Jones
Price: $11.49
37 used & new from $3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars "Would you rather be right, or would you rather be happy?", February 4, 2014
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Comedy and drama are deftly blended in this touching and unusual movie about a couple on the verge of divorce who are having trouble letting go and moving on. Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg are perfectly cast in the title roles; their characters are flawed but lovable, and both actors give sensitive and honest performances. The supporting players are uniformly excellent, and director Lee Toland Krieger capitalizes on all the inherent laughter and heartache in the clever script which was written by leading lady Jones and Will McCormack (who also plays the part of Skillz in the film).

The blu-ray offers superb picture and sound, and contains a numbers of bonus features, including a "making of" featurette, a Q&A session conducted at the LA Film Fest where the film made its debut, a few deleted scenes, two commentaries, and the theatrical trailer for this film and several other Sony Pictures Classics releases. For me, the biggest surprise contained in the bonus material was interview footage of Andy Samberg, in which he expressed a certain level of insecurity about his ability to play the more serious scenes in the film; I've always detected a layer of truth in his comedy, even when he was playing slapstick, and so it didn't surprise me at all that he was able to tap into that same humanity and play drama convincingly.

"Celeste and Jesse Forever" is highly recommended to fans of the various cast members, to moviegoers looking for a new spin on an old theme (romantic comedies about divorced couples), and to student filmmakers interested in seeing how a small, modestly budgeted film can be expertly put together. A gem.


Jingle All the Way (Family Fun Edition) [Blu-ray]
Jingle All the Way (Family Fun Edition) [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Arnold Schwarzenegger
Price: $10.98
35 used & new from $4.04

5.0 out of 5 stars Don't Skip the Bonus Features, January 10, 2014
Arnold Schwarzeneggar gets a chance to display his formidable comedy chops in this bright and funny holiday romp about an absent husband and father trying to redeem himself on Christmas Eve. The one toy his young son really wants, the popular Turbo-Man action figure, is sold out everywhere and Arnold's on a mission to get one by hook or crook ... but he's got competition in the form of a disgruntled postal worker (Sinbad) who's also on the hunt, and dogging Arnold's every step. Randy Kornfield's knowing script deftly blends slapstick and satire, and director Brian Levant keeps things careening merrily along, but the film wouldn't work half as well without its clever cast. Arnold good-naturedly send up his own super-hero image as the hapless father, and Phil Hartman is a riot as the smarmy neighbor who's trying to make a play for Arnold's wife, the gloriously funny Rita Wilson. Pay close attention to Wilson's reaction shots throughout the film; she displays perfect comedic timing. The supporting cast is uniformly excellent, with sparkling performances from Robert Conrad, Martin Mull, James Belushi, and the inimitable Harvey Korman.

As funny as the movie is ... and it's a five-star hit ... you won't want to miss the extra featurettes included on the Family Fun edition blu-ray. There's a cute segment in which real kids describe what king of superhero they'd most like to be, and what powers they would give themselves, and there's also a fascinating short film about the making of the film. Best of all, and worth five stars all by itself, is a faux "reality show" that purports to follow up on the sordid decline of "Turbo-Man" following the completion of the movie. Actor Daniel Riordan, who played Turbo-Man in the TV show clips seen in the original 1996 film, returns for this gag shot in 2007 and he's absolutely brilliant.

Highly and enthusiastically recommended, "Jingle All the Way" is everything a holiday comedy should be. Enjoy!


Legion [Blu-ray]
Legion [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Paul Bettany
Price: $13.92
135 used & new from $1.58

2.0 out of 5 stars "Legion" Errs, January 8, 2014
This review is from: Legion [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Forget the misleading image of a ripped avenging angel used to promote director Scott Stewart's "Legion"; you won't find it anywhere in this cheesy apocalyptic dud. This poorly written travesty revolves around the archangel Michael, who's been sent by a peeved God to destroy an unborn baby who represents the world's last hope. (Don't ask why this one child is the world's last hope; screenwriters Stewart and Peter Schink never bother trying to make sense of anything going on.) Of course, the mother is living in the desert at a truck stop named ... are you ready? Paradise Falls! (Get it? Paradise falls ... ba-da-bing!) Michael defies God's orders by protecting the child and its mother because, as he explains, God is unable to distinguish between what God wants and what God truly needs. God sends a legion of angels in the form of vampiric zombies to fight Michael, and when that doesn't work, He sends Gabriel who arrives on the scene blowing his horn like crazy. The two angels wrestle each other, and ... well, the movie finally limps to its lame conclusion.

The only thing that saves this movie from a one-star rating is the performance of Charles S. Dutton as the cook at Paradise Falls. (Paradise falls ... get it? Heh, heh, heh.) Bless his heart, Dutton tries hard to invest his character with some warmth and dimension, which is more than can be said for the rest of the cast. Top-billed Paul Bettany is colorless as Michael, Lucas Black overdoes the naive hick schtick as the nominal romantic lead, and Adrianne Palicki brings no shading to the character of the mother-to-be. Worst of all is Dennis Quaid, who at least has the grace to look and to sound like he's ashamed to be cast in this tripe.

I can't in all good conscience recommend this waste of celluloid to anyone. Between the inane screenplay, the foul language, the bastardized theology, the inept editing and the lackluster special effects, there's nothing here to champion. "Paradise Falls", indeed.


Bear Creek Soup Mix Tortilla 9.0 OZ
Bear Creek Soup Mix Tortilla 9.0 OZ
Offered by Online Grocery Outlet
Price: $6.75
11 used & new from $4.51

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly Delicious Tortilla Soup / Stew, December 31, 2013
Bear Creek Tortilla Soup is one of my all-time favorite comfort foods, especially in the fall and winter time. It has a rich, robust flavor that is vaguely reminiscent of brown gravy, mildly seasoned and not at all what I would call overly "spicy". I like to use the mix as a basis for a thick and hearty stew: in a cast iron skillet, I brown a pound of 93% lean ground beef. Then I make the soup as directed, gradually whisking the contents of the packet into 8 cups of boiling water. Next, I add the ground beef. I cook the soup on high, covered, for between 3 to 5 minutes and stir. Next I reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook it, covered, for another 10 minutes, stirring frequently. The result is a meaty stew that is out of this world. I like mine in a bowl "as is", but other members of the family like to add shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, chopped green onion, sour cream, and either Tabasco Sauce or pepper sauce to suit their own tastes. That's another wonderful thing about Bear Creek Tortilla Soup ... there are lots of garnishes and ingredients you can add to personalize your meal.

My family and I all love this soup, and I'm pleased to recommend it you. One note of caution: depending on where you buy it, the price of this and other Bear Creek Soup mixes can vary wildly. I've been lucky enough to find it locally at various supermarkets, discount stores, and national chain stores, and I've always paid between $3.00 and $3.50 per packet. So shop around before you buy! And bon appetit!


The Town [Blu-ray]
The Town [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Ben Affleck
Price: $9.70
166 used & new from $1.82

5.0 out of 5 stars Affleck: Auteur on the Rise, December 13, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Town [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
What a film! "The Town" is a powerful testament to the skills of Ben Affleck, who did triple duty as the co-writer, director, and star of this taut, exciting crime-thriller. The film is set in Charlestown, the oldest neighborhood in the city of Boston, a one-square mile hotbed of drugs, muggings, armed robberies and other assorted nefarious activities. Affleck plays a member of a gang of second-generation criminals who were born and raised in ... and seemingly unable to escape from ... this toxic environment. Following a daring bank robbery, Affleck makes the mistake of falling in love with one of the bank's employees (Rebecca Hall), who is unaware that he was the thief who took her hostage during the heist. Complicating matters is the fact that the FBI is closing in, putting all sorts of pressure on the gang, particularly the violent hothead (Jeremy Renner) whose family took Affleck under their wing when his father went to prison. Now the gang is being pressured by an underworld kingmaker (Pete Postlethwaite) to pull off another huge, tremendously complicated and risky job.

Not only does Affleck do yeoman's service as an actor and director, he manages to pull amazing performances from the rest of the cast, especially Renner who received a boatload of Supporting Actor nominations, including bids for the Oscar and the Golden Globe. In his penultimate performance (he died before the movie was released), Pete Postlethwaite oozes barely contained menace, and actress Blake Lively is disturbingly effective as Renner's junkie sister. Kudos also to Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm (as a hard-nosed FBI agent), and Chris Cooper, who makes a strong impression in his brief scene as Affleck's bitter father.

There are numerous versions of the film available on video, including the theatrical cut, an extended cut, and a special collector's edition. I viewed the single-disc blu-ray, which offered both the theatrical version and the extended cut on the same disc. Many enthusiasts were concerned about the possibility of compression issues affecting this release, but I thought it looked and sounded fantastic. I'm usually kind of picky about such things, but I was so involved in the story and the performances that any flaws went unnoticed. "The Town" is a harbinger of a blossoming film talent that would come to fruition in Affleck's award-winning "Argo" two years later. Highly recommended.


Eyes of Charles Sand
Eyes of Charles Sand
DVD ~ Barbara Rush, Sharon Farrell, Bradford Dillman, Adam West, Joan Bennett Peter Haskell
Price: $15.99
16 used & new from $14.57

2.0 out of 5 stars Poor "Eyes" is a Sad Sight, December 9, 2013
This review is from: Eyes of Charles Sand (DVD)
I remember how excited I was back in 1972 when "The Eyes of Charles Sand" was first announced. "Dark Shadows" had recently ended its original run, and star Joan Bennett had been cast in this TV movie, which was the pilot for a proposed new prime time series. I was in middle school, and the prospect of a new weekly show that dealt with the occult sounded like a sure-fire, can't-miss proposition. For some reason, I missed the broadcast of the movie; I was doubly disappointed when I later read that ABC had passed on the whole idea.

Well, over forty years have gone by, and having finally seen the DVD-R issued by the Warner Archives, I can well understand why "The Eyes of Charles Sand" disappeared so quickly. It starts out promisingly enough, with the title character (Peter Haskell) dreaming of his sightless uncle popping up out of a coffin; seconds later the phone rings and his Aunt Alexandria (Miss Bennett) tells him that his uncle has, in fact, just died, and that she knows about the dream. It seems that Charles has inherited "The Sight", the ability to see into the world of the dead. Sure enough, at his uncle's funeral, Sand sees the corpse of a woman who died 100 years ago beckoning to him, and the main credits, a far-out blend of op-art letters and circles of light, begin to roll.

Unfortunately, it's all downhill from that point on. The main "plot", something about a girl (Sharon Farrell) who has read about a murder in an old diary and confused it with what might have been the murder of her absentee brother, is rambling and unbelievable, and the performances of Miss Farrell as the heroine, and Barbara Rush and Bradford Dillman as her sister and brother-in-law, are shrill and amateurish. The discordant musical score, blatantly ripped off from Henry Mancini's masterful composition for "Wait Until Dark" (Mancini sued the producers for copyright infringement and won the case), is annoyingly over-utilized, and the production values are an abomination, with what appears to be thick pink nail polish substituting for blood. The only assets are the earnest performances of Mr. Haskell, Miss Bennett, and Adam "Batman" West, playing a shrink. This film is cautiously recommended to die-hard fans of these three performers; others will probably find the entire enterprise a visual embarrassment.


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