Profile for Gary F. Taylor > Reviews

Browse

Gary F. Taylor's Profile

Customer Reviews: 1761
Top Reviewer Ranking: 131
Helpful Votes: 30566




Community Features
Review Discussion Boards
Top Reviewers

Guidelines: Learn more about the ins and outs of Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Gary F. Taylor "GFT" RSS Feed (Biloxi, MS USA)
(VINE VOICE)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20
pixel
The Marvelous Land of Oz
The Marvelous Land of Oz
Price: $5.38

5.0 out of 5 stars The Riches of Content, July 13, 2014
L. Frank Baum (1856-1919) failed repeatedly through one bad career choice after another--until 1900, when he wrote THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ. Although the book was the most famous he wrote, due in large part to the celebrated 1939 film, Baum's writing style was distinctly improved when he sat down to write THE MARVELOUS LAND OF OZ, which was published four years later in 1904. The characters are more carefully drawn, the plot is more cohesive, and it possesses a sense of whimsey and fun that the original novel lacked.

Although the book revisits the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and Glinda the Good, it focuses on a boy named Tip, who is the unwilling ward and servant of a wicked witch named Mombi. When Tip builds a dummy with a carved pumpkin head to frighten her, Mombi responds by bringing the thing to life, and announces that she will command Jack Pumpkinhead to work for her and rid herself of Tip by turning him into a marble statue. Tip escapes, taking Jack with him, and the two travel to the Emerald City, where they find that the Scarecrow, who rules there, is under attack by General Jinjur and her all-girl army of revolt, who are determined to overthrow the Scarecrow and run the city to suit themselves. Ironically, Jinjur's revolution prompts Glinda the Good to search for the true ruler of Oz: the Princess Ozma, who has for many years been concealed from discovery by magic.

The book has a light, breezy tone, and it introduces a number of characters that become reoccuring figures in the Oz books, most particularly Jack Pumpkinhead, H.M. Wogglebug T.E., and the flying Gump. Baum was a strong supporter of voting rights for women, and it may have been this interest that prompts the central plot, which pits General Jinjur and her all-girl army of revolt against Glenda the Good and her own female military forces. The conclusion is startling in an unexectedly Freudian sort of way, but the book is no less the worse for that, and it remains one of the best written (and a personal favorite) in Baum's Oz series.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer


The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
by L. Frank Baum
Edition: Paperback
Price: $8.99
39 used & new from $1.42

4.0 out of 5 stars I Am Oz, The Great and Powerful, July 13, 2014
L. Frank Baum (1856-1919) failed repeatedly through one bad career choice after another--until 1900, when he wrote THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ, which was published with memorable illustrations by W.W. Denslow. Literary critics have never been greatly enthusiastic about the book or the sequels that followed it, but children and the general reading public adored them. A 1902 stage show and the famous 1939 film fueled interest, and one way or another, Oz has been with us ever since.

Most people know the story. A little girl named Dorothy Gale, who lives in Kansas, is whisked into the air by a passing cyclone and ultimately lands in Oz, where she encounters good witches, bad witches, a humbug wizard, and most particularly a scarecrow, a tin man, and a cowardly lion, who become her friends and helpers as she struggles to find a way return home. But the book is quite different from the various stage and film versions in terms of detail. There are two good witches, not one; the flying monkeys are not specifically evil; during their travels Dorothy and her friends encounter strange animals, an entire village made of living china, the flatheads, and a spider-like monster the lion fights to gain a kingdom.

The story is very episodic and the characters are not as well developed as they will become in Baum's later books, but all the foundations are here, and Baum would go on to write thirteen popular sequels, not to mention a host of other novels, plays, scripts, and poems. Many of Baum's works, especially the Oz novels, gently satirize social conventions and norms, and quite a few anticipate technological rises in the form of telephone, radio, television, and the like. The Oz books are particularly noteworthy because they tend to center on female protagonists who find themselves more than equal to the men who oppose them.

THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ is past copyright, which means that anybody and everybody can and do publish it, and you will find it in every form imaginable. Whether you want a digital or hardcopy, the thing to look for are editions that have the original Denslow illustrations, which add so much charm to the novel and which are quite unlike anything seen in later stage and film versions. Recommended for children and clever adults everywhere.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer


The Wonderful Wizard of Oz [Illustrated]
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz [Illustrated]
Price: $0.00

4.0 out of 5 stars I Am Oz, The Great and Powerful, July 13, 2014
L. Frank Baum (1856-1919) failed repeatedly through one bad career choice after another--until 1900, when he wrote THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ, which was published with memorable illustrations by W.W. Denslow. Literary critics have never been greatly enthusiastic about the book or the sequels that followed it, but children and the general reading public adored them. A 1902 stage show and the famous 1939 film fueled interest, and one way or another, Oz has been with us ever since.

Most people know the story. A little girl named Dorothy Gale, who lives in Kansas, is whisked into the air by a passing cyclone and ultimately lands in Oz, where she encounters good witches, bad witches, a humbug wizard, and most particularly a scarecrow, a tin man, and a cowardly lion, who become her friends and helpers as she struggles to find a way return home. But the book is quite different from the various stage and film versions in terms of detail. There are two good witches, not one; the flying monkeys are not specifically evil; during their travels Dorothy and her friends encounter strange animals, an entire village made of living china, the flatheads, and a spider-like monster the lion fights to gain a kingdom.

The story is very episodic and the characters are not as well developed as they will become in Baum's later books, but all the foundations are here, and Baum would go on to write thirteen popular sequels, not to mention a host of other novels, plays, scripts, and poems. Many of Baum's works, especially the Oz novels, gently satirize social conventions and norms, and quite a few anticipate technological rises in the form of telephone, radio, television, and the like. The Oz books are particularly noteworthy because they tend to center on female protagonists who find themselves more than equal to the men who oppose them.

THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ is past copyright, which means that anybody and everybody can and do publish it, and you will find it in every form imaginable. Whether you want a digital or hardcopy, the thing to look for are editions that have the original Denslow illustrations, which add so much charm to the novel and which are quite unlike anything seen in later stage and film versions. Recommended for children and clever adults everywhere.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer


Period of Adjustment.
Period of Adjustment.
by Tennessee Williams
Edition: Paperback
Price: $8.55
31 used & new from $2.16

3.0 out of 5 stars Williams' Only Comedy Is Best Left to Fans and Scholars, July 8, 2014
This review is from: Period of Adjustment. (Paperback)
Tennessee Williams (1911-1983) is best known his plays of the 1940s and 1950s, most particularly for THE GLASS MENAGERIE, A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, and CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF. His plays are generally dark dramas of desperate personalities trapped in sordid circumstances, written in a style that might be called poetic realism. Although all his plays contain elements of humor, Williams only attemped a full-fledged comedy once: the 1960 PERIOD OF ADJUSTMENT, also known as PERIOD OF ADJUST OR HIGH POINT IS BUILT ON A CAVERN.

Subtitled "A Serious Comedy," the play requires a single but somewhat elaborate set, four men, and four women. Set on a Christmas Eve in Nashville, it concerns the foibles of two married couples. Ralph Bates lives in a neighborhood named "High Point," a subdivision unfortunately built over a cavern; the foundation is sinking and his house is cracking--both literally and figuratively. He married the boss' daughter and now finds himself unexpectedly jobless and wifeless, and it is in this state that he welcomes army buddy George Haverstick, who arrives with his newly acquired wife Isabel. The Haverstick marriage is also on uneven ground, having gotten off to a bad start when George's vulgarity offended Isabel, and in consequent the marriage has not been consumated.

George hears out the newlywed's complaints, and before the evening is over he finds himself confronting his obnoxious in-laws and ultimately his own wife. Can either marriage be saved? In the world of Tennessee Williams, sex is always a cure, and if the two couples can end up in the right beds, each in a proper mood ... well, it's a strong possibility.

PERIOD OF ADJUSTMENT was not among Williams' more successful plays. A few critics admired it, but the play ran only 132 performances, quite a come down from the likes of A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, which ran 855 in New York alone, to say nothing of London and various tours. Today, ADJUSTMENT is not considered one of Williams' major plays, and it is rarely read or performed. Simply put, comedy isn't really William's forte; the characters and their stories are not very memorable, and the overall play is clunky and uneven. This is a Williams plays that is really best left to fans and scholars determined to read every scrap of material Williams wrote.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer


The Moonstone (Dover Thrift Editions)
The Moonstone (Dover Thrift Editions)
by Wilkie Collins
Edition: Paperback
Price: $5.23
102 used & new from $0.77

4.0 out of 5 stars A Classic of the Genre, July 8, 2014
Because they were often serialized in magazines, Victorian novels tend to be wordy and convoluted--the more words, the more episodes; the more episodes, the more money the author was paid. The upshot is often a novel that is desperately overwritten. But now and then you encounter a writer of the era who knew how to make the format work for him, and Wilkie Collins is one such. Today Collins is chiefly recalled for two novels, THE WOMAN IN WHITE (1860) and THE MOONSTONE (1868.)

Although Poe is generally regarded as the creator of the detective story, Collins is generally thought of as the first writer to expand the notion into a full length novel. THE MOONSTONE is not a detective story or a mystery in any modern sense, but there is a detective (several, in fact) and a mystery. The story concerns a large diamond that was stolen from the forehead of an Indian idol some years earlier. It has now--more as an act of revenge than a legacy of love--been willed to Rachel Verinder on her eighteenth birthday. Even before Rachel receive the diamond, the household is plagued by a number of odd circumstances, including the arrival of three questionable Brahmins, and the jewel is scarcely in her hands before it is stolen from her rooms.

THE MOONSTONE has multiple narrators, including servants, gentlemen, doctors, and religious fanatics, and they relate the various events in styles specific to their own characters. It is a device that Collins carries off extremely well. The "detection" involved is mainly a matter of evolving personal opinion than detection per se, and quite often the coincidences and details (most notably a long description of the effects of morphine) strain credibility. Even so, THE MOONSTONE is entertaining and amusing, an essential of fans of the mystery genre, and lots of fun for those who enjoy the Victorian style.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer


Are You Being Served?: The Movie
Are You Being Served?: The Movie
DVD ~ Wendy Richard
Price: $6.30
30 used & new from $3.32

3.0 out of 5 stars "I Am Unanimous in This!", July 4, 2014
ARE YOU BEING SERVED? was a popular BBC television comedy series that mixed broad farce and double entendre in its on-going depiction of employees at a large London department store. The original series ran from 1972 to 1985 and ultimately became very popular in the United States through PBS broadcasts. Although the cast changed from time to time, the "classic" line-up featured Ladies Wear sales clerks Mrs. Slocombe (Mollie Sugden) and Miss Brahams (Wendy Richard); Men's Wear sales clerks Mr. Grainger (Arthur Bough), Mr. Humphries (John Inman), and Mr. Lucas (Trevor Bannister.) Management was represented by floor supervisor Capt. Peacock (Frank Thornton), manager Mr. Rumbold (Nicholas Smith), and store owner "young" Mr. Grace (Harold Bennett.) Maintenance was embodied by Mr. Harmon (Arthur English.) Each episode found the characters in unexpectedly bizarre situations that arose from everything from cold weather to stuck elevators to a general strike, often with doing battle with difficult customers, and always doing battle with each other.

Apparently it is not unusual for a BBC series to be adapted into a feature film during the series run, and it is this particular cast the 1977 feature film uses. The movie finds Grace Brothers closing for major renovations--and the department staff taking a group vacation for the two weeks the renovations will require. They go to the fictional Costa Plonka, only to find that the hotel does not have rooms for them. They are assigned to separate tents as a temporary measure--and Mr. Lucas writes a sexy note to Miss Brahams that goes astray, falling into the hands of Mrs. Slocombe, who assumes the note has been sent to her by Captain Peacock. Confusion reigns as various characters chase each other in and out of tents through the night, and then overflows when a revolution breaks out the next morning, leaving everyone stranded and in fear for their lives. But this is ARE YOU BEING SERVED? so we know everything will turn out all right in the end.

Someone who hasn't seen the series is unlikely to enjoy the movie, which relies heavily on prior knowledge; at the same time, quite a few people who have seen the series seem to dislike the film as unoriginal and lacking the fun of the original. I have to say that over all I found it very small beer--but there are worse ways to spend an hour an half. Series fans who don't expect too much will likely enjoy it.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer


The Yesterday Machine
The Yesterday Machine
DVD ~ James Britton
Price: $12.83
21 used & new from $7.95

2.0 out of 5 stars "I Don't Understand A Word of It!", July 2, 2014
This review is from: The Yesterday Machine (DVD)
THE YESTERDAY MACHINE begins with a series of shots that show a man working on his car while a young woman twirling a baton stands nearby, grinding her hips to a rock and roll beat as she spins the silver shaft. Then she opens her mouth, and her Texass accent is such that it could peel your socks off. The duo decide to seek help from a nearby farm house, but unexpectedly run into two Confederate soliders! The boy is shot and the girl disappears! Gee, what's going on? A total waste of your time, that's what.

The story continues as a newspaper reporter and a really bad lounge singer go in search of the missing girl and find themselves confronted by a Nazi who has invented a time machine to bring back Hitler. The performances are ... well, let's just say that Ed Wood's actors were Oscar-winning in comparison. The men talk with terse lips. The mad scientist draws diagrams on a chalk board. The women swoon. An Egyptian woman in bad costume comes to the rescue. And so on.

Now and then you come across a bad movie that is bad in an entertaining sort of way, and to a certain extent that is true of THE YESTERDAY MACHINE. The opening scenes of the baton twirler are a scream, and the cast is so ludicrously bad that it's hard to supress a snicker, especially when they are tossing off some of the worst dialogue since MANOS, HANDS OF FATE. Even so, there's a limit to the amusement to be had in this film, and I paid for each chuckle with a tooth-grinding moment. If you're really into obscure and very bad movies, this one is for you--but all others should look away.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer


The Last Woman on Earth
The Last Woman on Earth
DVD ~ Betsy Jones-Moreland
Price: $5.98
32 used & new from $0.24

1.0 out of 5 stars Uninteresting Corman Quickie, June 25, 2014
This review is from: The Last Woman on Earth (DVD)
The 1960 LAST WOMAN ON EARTH opens with what seems to be genuine footage of a cockfight--and this cheap-o Corman Quickie goes down hill from there, with a ho-hum story about two men and a marginally attractive woman who survive what seems to be the end of the world, only to find themselves stuck in a beautiful beach house in lush and lovely Pureto Rico. After a while the men begin to argue over the woman. The conclusion is abrupt and the movie doesn't so much end as it just stops. Mercifully.

This is one of those grade C- flicks that lured the gullible into the local drive-in via a lurid title and lurid poster and which was typically shown as one of two short features ... but even at a mere seventy minutes LAST WOMAN ON EARTH can't be short enough. The film has slipped into public domain, so there are several variations out there. This one is presented in grainy, washed-out color. Worth going out of your way to miss.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer


The Moonstone
The Moonstone
Price: $0.00

4.0 out of 5 stars A Classic of the Genre, June 25, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Moonstone (Kindle Edition)
Because they were often serialized in magazines, Victorian novels tend to be wordy and convoluted--the more words, the more episodes; the more episodes, the more money the author was paid. The upshot is often a novel that is desperately overwritten. But now and then you encounter a writer of the era who knew how to make the format work for him, and Wilkie Collins is one such. Today Collins is chiefly recalled for two novels, THE WOMAN IN WHITE (1860) and THE MOONSTONE (1868.)

Although Poe is generally regarded as the creator of the detective story, Collins is generally thought of as the first writer to expand the notion into a full length novel. THE MOONSTONE is not a detective story or a mystery in any modern sense, but there is a detective (several, in fact) and a mystery. The story concerns a large diamond that was stolen from the forehead of an Indian idol some years earlier. It has now--more as an act of revenge than a legacy of love--been willed to Rachel Verinder on her eighteenth birthday. Even before Rachel receive the diamond, the household is plagued by a number of odd circumstances, including the arrival of three questionable Brahmins, and the jewel is scarcely in her hands before it is stolen from her rooms.

THE MOONSTONE has multiple narrators, including servants, gentlemen, doctors, and religious fanatics, and they relate the various events in styles specific to their own characters. It is a device that Collins carries off extremely well. The "detection" involved is mainly a matter of evolving personal opinion than detection per se, and quite often the coincidences and details (most notably a long description of the effects of morphine) strain credibility. Even so, THE MOONSTONE is entertaining and amusing, an essential of fans of the mystery genre, and lots of fun for those who enjoy the Victorian style.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer


Night of the Blood Beast
Night of the Blood Beast
DVD ~ John Baer
Price: $5.98
33 used & new from $1.09

3.0 out of 5 stars For Fans of 1950s Corman Schlock Only, June 22, 2014
This review is from: Night of the Blood Beast (DVD)
Produced by Roger and Gene Corman, NIGHT OF THE BLOOD BEAST was filmed in seven days on a budget of less than seventy thousand dollars, and it looks it. The movie is more or less a riff on the Howard Hawks classic THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD, the story of astronaut John (Michael Emmet) who crashes to earth and who's dead body is rescued by a team of five scientists including his fiancee Julie (Angela Benson.) But it soon transpires that John is not dead and he has brought a little something back from space with him.

In some ways the movie anticipates the iconic 1979 ALIEN, but not enough for fans of that movie to go out of their way to see this one. The actors aren't bad, but the script is silly, with dialogue that borders on the Ed-Woodsian, the premise is silly, and the monster itself is ludicrous. While it isn't as incredibly bad as some AIP releases by Roger Corman, it certainly isn't going to win any prizes, and the most you can hope for is a giggle or two at the absurdity of it all. Watchable for fans of grade C and D 1950s horror flicks, but that's all.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20