Tag Archives: HBO

“…I love you, but we only have fourteen hours to save the Earth!”

I watched this next one on HBO, almost as much as “The Beastmaster.”

It was probably my first experience with science fiction.

My first, definitely not “the best,” but it was still very memorable for me.  A big part of it was the bright colors and “enormity” that Mike Hodges decided to use for the sets and costumes.

It’s a movie whose theme song was written and performed by Queen, and has a supporting role from the most underrated James Bond ever.  Need I say more?

As always, of course I do…

Flash Gordon” was one of those movies that I watched with my cousins more than five times.  Even at four years old I knew it was a corny movie, but we enjoyed it regardless, I think because of the scope of the action.  We used to act out the scenes in our back yard with our toy guns…I was the youngest.  That meant I had to be Ming the Merciless.


Pretty easy to kick a four-year-old’s ass at pretend fighting “Flash Gordon” style.

I watched “Ted” when it came out and was pleasantly surprised that Seth MacFarlane chose “Flash Gordon” as the movie of John’s (Mark Wahlberg) childhood that made the most impact on him and Ted (voiced by MacFarlane).  Watching their interaction with the real Sam J. Jones (Flash Gordon) was very amusing.  It also refreshed some of the memories that I have of the film.

Outside of Queen and Timothy Dalton, the key scenes I remember are Flash almost getting eaten by a very green plant type monster, the feat of strength where you put your hand in the base of a shrub and hope that a random little critter doesn’t poison your arm causing the need for amputation, and of course; the “hawk people.”

Looking back on some of the dialogue for a quote, it was hard not to laugh…so I did laugh a little.  It doesn’t work on just paper, but for some odd reason, as fantastic as the world is, the campy dialogue when presented the way it is, works on this movie…if you’re 4 to 8 years old.

I was visiting my parents a while back before my dad passed.  We were flipping through the channels on DirecTV and came upon “Flash Gordon” right before Flash and the “hawk people’s” assault on Ming.  We had to finish the movie and I had a smile on my face like I was 4 years old again.

One of the great memories I hope I never lose being that it was close to one of the last times I would see my father.

Another example of how movies can be so powerful…when you allow them.


Please join my newsletter #Clintington on Film Dope Sheet.

“I’m a kid that’s my job.”

We watched this next one as a family.  Everyone except my sister.  She was a very busy high school student, had a lot of after school activities, and then came home and studied (she graduated in the top 10 in her class–nerd alert!)

This was one of those movies that I wish she could’ve been there with us to see for the first time.  Her perspective would’ve gone a long way.

I always like to call it the forgotten John Hughes gem.

This was another of our “fall back” movies.  My dad and I probably watched this movie together over 10 times.  He was always game for it.

I don’t think anyone would meet a bigger John Candy fan than my father, and “Uncle Buck” was probably his favorite “Candy Movie.”

The gist: There is a family “health emergency” and the parents of the family have to go and attend to it (mom’s grandfather is very sick and has almost died)…However, they know that it could be a very extended period of time that they will need to be gone and the kids cannot miss that amount of school.  They try EVERYONE and the only option–dad’s deadbeat-jobless-never-invited-to-Thanksgiving-dinner-brother, “Buck” Russell.

buck russell

It’s unfortunate that there was only one movie.  The character Candy was able to make out of “Buck” always seemed to be larger than just one movie.  I thought it would’ve been awesome to see Buck come back to save the day when the youngest daughter got into high school too.  There would’ve been a different dynamic, given that he had a good relationship with her as an adolescent, but at the end of the day, she still would’ve been a teenager….

I digress.

Long story short, Buck is great with the young children, he clashes major with the teenage daughter:


Buck: “When I was his age, I was a guy zooming girls like you. Pretty face, good chip on your shoulder.”

The funniest scenes in the movie come from Buck tormenting the teenager’s (Tia’s) boyfriend, “Bug.”

To spoil you of seeing how Buck torments Bug for the first time would be foul play on my part.  Trust me, there are laugh-out-loud moments, that have a level of discomfort to go along with them.

I remember talking with my dad on our third or fourth viewing about whether or not he would do those things.

Dad: “For my niece?  You bet I would.”

Me: “Niece?  What about Beth?”

(Beth is my sister)

Dad: “I don’t need to worry about your sister, she’d be meaner to those boys than me or Buck ever could be.”

That statement is no bullshit.  My dad prepared my sister very well.  One of the most independent people I know.  Again, I would’ve loved to ask her about her impressions of the Tia character from a teenage girl’s point-of-view.  It would’ve been very interesting.  Tia isn’t a bad person, she was just an angry teenager.  Who hasn’t been one at some point?

The great thing about the conflict in the movie between Buck and Tia, is that I can see both sides to the argument.  Buck has been tasked with keeping his niece safe and does it in the only way he knows how; understanding the male teenager mind.  Tia uses what Buck has become as an adult against him.  Buck’s not the most eligible bachelor, being that he is closer to 50 than 40 and unemployed with no prospects.  Not the best example to be giving out strict orders to a rebellious teen.

We have another brilliant screenplay by the amazing John Hughes, and an actor that was born for this role.  Candy is very underrated as an actor in general.  Most people right him off as a large clown.  Movies like this and “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles”  prove otherwise.

The greatness with a lot of the dialogue is how Buck engages with the young children too.  He is gentle, but he treats and communicates with them like they are his equal.  He doesn’t try to talk down to them or make them feel that they do not have a voice too.  He is a good listener and acknowledges the things they have to contribute.

buck and kids

I have an “Uncle Buck” in my family too (in moments, I feel I have more than one).  I like to believe that everyone does.  For those of you that don’t, I feel a little sorry for you.  “Uncle Bucks” make family gatherings very interesting….

….and authentic…


Please join my newsletter #Clintington on Film Dope Sheet.

“I don’t want to hurt you! I just want to make you kosher!”

It’s difficult to try and label this next movie with a genre.

If I had to, I’d definitely say it is a comedy.  There are others though that would label it as a western.  Like “McLintock!,” I feel that it is a comedy and the American West happens to be the backdrop.

I remember this movie being one that I laughed at as a child, and that my parents laughed at as adults.  That is quite a feat for a contemporary comedy (at that time) to be able to throw enough adult humor in, and not cross the line so that your children can enjoy it with you.

That is what I remember doing. Watching “The Frisco Kid” with my parents, multiple times.

The gist:

A Polish rabbi, Avram (Gene Wilder) has been chosen to run a synagogue in San Francisco, CA.  He takes a boat from Poland to Philadelphia, PA where he runs into a small group of bandits that rob him and throw him alongside the road.  Beaten down, he is however determined to get to San Francisco.


Along the way he runs into the Amish who aid him, works along the railroad line for enough money to buy a horse and supplies, and eventually he runs in with his guardian “angel,” Tommy (a very young and wily Harrison Ford).


To divulge on the history and character of Tommy would spoil you of some effective storytelling.  Let’s agree that he is a man that knows who he is.

The majority of the humor comes from Gene Wilder’s Avram.

His thick accent is quite humorous, and his uncanny world view on doing the right thing without judging others is a characteristic to envy in such a goofy protagonist.  There is also some major culture clash along the way that sets up some funny situations when Tommy’s style and Avram’s beliefs don’t see eye-to-eye.

The trek across the old American West is quite a major one, and Michael Elias and Frank Shaw did a great job of showing the common difficulties of that journey in their screenplay.

It is nice to watch a very young Ford fresh off his fame from Star Wars interact in a comedy with the brilliant timing of Gene Wilder.  I feel that Ford learned a lot on this picture and shows his comedy skills (even in moments of his dramas) after this movie debuted in 1979.

For me I will always remember this as a movie we watched as a family when we wanted a laugh.  There are a lot of them, and watching Wilder carry a picture was a joy.  It’s a shame he’s not seen much anymore.  Great talent.



Please join my newsletter #Clintington on Film Dope Sheet.

“Too erudite?”

This next one is probably my favorite movie that I forget about all the time.  I can easily say that I have never seen anything like it (even its sequel) and it will never be remade or duplicated because it was so unique and perfect.  It should always get a mention in my “top ten” when people ask me, but I ALWAYS forget about it.  I need to buy it and watch it once a month.

It wouldn’t get old for me, I love it so much.

There were times when I would come home from soccer and we’d have some movies that were ready to be viewed.  We knew what we were getting when dad rented them–car bombs, gun fights, car bombs, fist fights, car bombs, and death…except for the lead action star.

Just double-checking the car bomb references.  Yep, got ’em.

When mom rented them it was hit and miss.  She wasn’t afraid to give any movie a try (unless she knew it had nudity, prior–then it was notta).  As an eight-year-old boy, it annoyed me when mom rented the movies because I was like my dad…action, action, and more action (I was 8, I don’t know what my dad’s excuse was).  We were not always guaranteed an action movie when mom was the one renting the movies and there were some movies that I watched with them that I did not have an appreciation for until later when I matured.

So, as you can imagine, when I came home from soccer and saw the title of a movie that i did not recognize, and found out that mom was the one that picked it out, I felt defeated (I think we lost our game that day–might have played into the emotions I was feeling).

I almost pouted in my room rather than give this movie a shot…

I am so glad I decided to watch “The Gods Must be Crazy.”

This is another movie in which I wished I could’ve been there when they tried to pitch the story:

“Okay, we’re going to take a tribe of “bushmen” and drop a glass coca cola bottle (they all used to be glass back in the 70s and 80s) in their midst.  We will watch this amazing “tool” destroy their tribe from the inside out until they decide that they need to throw it off the end of the earth.  While this is happening deep in the Kalahari, there will be a rebel force on the run from the government, terrorizing the countryside in their wake, as we also meet a cute teacher and scientist slowly bumble into love over the course of the movie.”


That paragraph is the “gist” of the movie…IT IS SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT PITIFUL DESCRIPTION I JUST GAVE.


The “screwball” humor is on par with Hawks’ “Bringing up Baby.” I have never seen “time lapse” used so well and consistently to tell a story on film.  To bring all three story lines together and complete its telling the way Jamie Uys was able to do with a masterful use of character development and storytelling was similar to what I imagine Orson Welles and Herman J. Mankiewicz were doing behind closed doors when they started writing “Citizen Kane.” I also had the joy of learning about different cultures along the way.

I learned a very valuable life lesson too…where would any of us be if we didn’t start to trust that our mothers actually know what they are doing?


Not as well off.


Please join my newsletter #Clintington on Film Dope Sheet.

“Insanity doesn’t run in my family, it practically gallops.”

When I posted my “Father Goose” essay, I felt that Grant was always going to be way larger than one post.  He is definitely on the short list of actors that deserve more than just another movie, but a list of the “bests.”

So I’ve decided to do another “Best of,” Cary Grant style.

Topper” was the next Grant movie that I watched with my mom and sister on another weekend that my dad was gone hunting.  I remember watching some scenes and having uncontrollable laughter.  The premise is very creative and I don’t want to give it away.  Roland Young plays the title character and is the straight man through much of the film being tossed between Constance Bennett and Grant. If you like Grant and are able to find this movie, it is a must see.  

Bringing up Baby” is often times mentioned as the first or second choice of Grant fans.  Rightly so.  I don’t know that there was a better screwball comedy duo than Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn.  Trying to explain this film would do it no justice as from start to finish, you jump from so many circumstances and so many different locations that you have to catch your breath after the first 20 minutes.  Get ready to laugh, it’s going to be harder to stop yourself from it.  

His Girl Friday” Was there a better adapted screenplay in 1940?  The genius move behind this movie was changing the Hildy Johnson character from a man into a woman and casting the talented Rosalind Russell.  Grant and Russell are brilliant with their delivery of the dialogue here.  The timing cannot be matched.  Ralph Bellamy deserves a lot of credit for holding his own between these two verbal aggressors, using their phrases like sharp knives.  There have been attempts to remake this movie (“Switching Channels” 1988). It was a brave effort (Christopher Reeve is the entire reason to watch this movie, taking on the role that Bellamy originally played–makes it worth a view), but the brilliance of Russel and Grant together cannot be matched.  Enjoy!

The Philadelphia Story” Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn (together again), and now Jimmy Stewart…I don’t know that I have to say much more.  This is a movie about being honest with yourself.  The honesty that rings true with Grant and Hepburn comes out in the dialogue that they share and two of the best performances of their careers is a result of that.  …  Jimmy Stewart was pretty good too…

Arsenic and Old Lace” This is my go to Cary Grant movie.  It is hands down my favorite stage play and my favorite Cary Grant movie.  His slapstick, goofy facial expressions, and precise comedic dialogue timing are all on display here.  He plays a man that feels he has to endure the “loonies” that are his family as outrageous shenanigans ensue.  I dare you not to laugh.

Grant worked with some of the best directors that Hollywood has ever produced: Howard Hawks (“Bringing Up Baby” and “His Girl Friday“), George Cukor (“The Philadelphia Story“) Frank Capra (“Arsenic and Old Lace“) Hitchcock (“North by Northwest,” “Notorious,” “To Catch a Thief“) and then some….

Worth a mention: “Charade“–Great plot.  The majority of the movie is Audrey Hepburn as Grant floats in and out of it.  “Operation Petticoat“–Directed by Blake Edwards (one of the best comedic directors) this one kept me laughing.  “The Bishop’s Wife“–Plenty of Grant, not enough David Niven in my opinion, but a great heartwarming Christmas story for the holiday season.

I’ve given you plenty to work with…



Please join my newsletter #Clintington on Film Dope Sheet.

“Just like old times.”– “Yeah. You start trouble and I start bleedin’.”

Before I was old enough to go hunting with my dad on open weekends, my mom and I used to stay in during the cold winters and catch a few movies together.

Shocking! I know.

We would sometimes go to the store and rent some, and sometimes we’d just sit back with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate and peruse through our inventory of copied movies.

We had a lot of movies that we would watch when we weren’t sure what we were in the mood for.  We’d call them “fall back” movies, now.  “Jaws” was a big one and “Father Goose.”  There was one movie that my mom and I picked as our “no matter what” movie, however, when we kept searching and reading and suggesting and just couldn’t think of any that’d hit the spot.

It was a movie that had a lot of what we liked:

  • great cast
  • great writing
  • camaraderie
  • comedy
  • drama
  • heroes
  • damsels
  • tragedy
  • multiple characters doing many different things
  • and redemption

It is a movie that rarely comes to mind when you mention “the greats” of all time, but if someone were to mention it as one, I wouldn’t argue with them.  A lot of people have never even heard about it when I mention the title, but when I tell them to go watch it, I have yet to have someone tell me they didn’t enjoy it.

I might be lucky with that last bit of history, but I really feel this movie holds up over time.

Bite the Bullet” is definitely a favorite of mine all time.  Let alone a favorite western, it holds up as pure cinema to me.  A lot of that probably had to do with the multiple viewings that my mom and I shared during those cold Idaho winters, but I highly recommend this film if you have never seen it.

It stars (try and catch your breath by the end of this list):

Gene Hackman, Candice BergenJames Coburn, Ben JohnsonJan-Michael Vincent, and Dabney Coleman makes a brief appearance.  

Those are just the stars.  

The people that played the supporting characters were very excellent in their roles as well including Mario ArteagaIan Bannen, and Walter Scott.  Ian Bannen’s character, Sir Harry Norfolk, has a heartbreaking scene in which I defy anyone with half-a-heart to watch without shedding a tear.  The passion and pain he shared in that scene is ironed-onto my brain and won’t leave, even if I want it to someday.  

Ian Bannen 

Mario Arteaga also comes to a very heroic, self-sacrificing end in a scene that will cause even more tears by the time you get to it.

Wow, I don’t know that I’m really selling this movie…

I’ll talk about the premise and you decide if it is something worth your time.

It is a western about a horse race across the desert.  There are 9 people that enter the race, and we gradually learn about their character(s) in the open of the movie, prior to the race starting.  We join all of them on their own separate adventures along the way.  Some of their adventures intertwine and some of them don’t.  There are characters you love and characters you love to hate.  There are even characters you love to hate that you end up loving…period; by the end. Hence the redemption that I mentioned earlier.

Bite the Bullet,” isn’t just a great title or mantra for this movie.  As the movie goes along, you realize how literal Richard Brooks was when he chose to run with that title.

 With that last comment, you kinda have to see it now, right?


Please join my newsletter #Clintington on Film Dope Sheet.

“…nothing grinds my gears worse than some chowderhead that doesn’t know when to keep his big trap shut…”

This movie was viewed on the down low and never mentioned to my parents.

When you hear the title, you’ll laugh at that notion.  You have to remember that my parents were 80s conservative in Idaho.  That’s like America 50s conservative for the rest of the world at that time…and I’m being generous.

There was A-lot-o ef words used in this movie and slight sexual innuendos (really one scene).

Mom wanted to protect us.

Everyone else I talked to said it was uproarious and I had to see it.

That’s why “heathen” cousins with mom and dads that don’t care what they watch are the best for kids like me in the situation I found myself in.

My cousins rented it and I remember starting it with my cousins, but being that they had already seen it, they were in-and-out as I sat through the entire thing, glued; frame-by-frame.

I remember smiling a lot, laughing out loud, but by the time the film was over, I was satisfied with a very warm, happy ending for an almost begrudging relationship that the two lead characters shared throughout.

It was an underrated masterpiece that I was unaware of in my first viewing.

Damn I wish comedies could get the credit they deserve.

We open with our lead character Neal, sitting silently in a meeting, checking his watch as his superior looks over some photos for an ad campaign.

The superior shuffles through the pictures…back and forth…back and forth…back…

Neal checks his plane ticket and sees that his flight is at 6:00 and is most likely to miss it if the superior can’t make a decision.  Neal wants to get home for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Eventually we learn that the decision is postponed and everyone is allowed to leave.

This, of course, only upsets our lead (Neal) even more as their presence wasn’t even necessary for the superior to have to come to that conclusion.

Steve Martin is the perfect Neal Page.  Cynical, sarcastic, bitter, and only obsessed with his need to get home in order to keep his wife happy.

Neal PTaA

Neal has a set of obstacles (we find out later that it has only been one obstacle) set in front of him that impede him from reaching his family in time.

Enter Del Griffith (John Candy).

Candy PTaA

He is a long talking, happy-go-lucky, naivete that has placed his luggage on the side of the street to trip up Neal from reaching his first cab.  He also takes Neal’s second cab while he is bickering with another would-be-cab attendant, and he ends up being his companion in coach (Neal originally had a First Class ticket, but was late and got booted) on his flight back home.

Of course the plane cannot land in Chicago…we’re only 30 minutes into the movie.  Due to the weather, the plane is redirected to Wichita and Neal and Del find themselves as companions on their rigorous trek back to Chicago.

Hence the title “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” becomes extremely effective/prophetic.

Later in my life I would watch a movie that I loved called “Tommy Boy.”  One of my favorite comedies.  “Tommy Boy‘s” roots are entwined in this movie.  Not the overall plot and arc, but the subtle comparisons with Candy and Farley and the cynical Martin and Spade on a road trip together create a variety of contrasts and comparisons.

The first shared bed, hotel scene (and the morning after) sells this movie undoubtedly.  We are first given an amazing bit of acting from Candy when he is being persecuted by Martin.  His monologue retort is telling and heart-felt, swaying the audience to his side of the conundrum plot.  We then get one of the most funny scenes ever put on film the next morning when the two find themselves cuddling in the queen hotel bed together.

The “between two pillows” line is the quote that is most notably remembered for this movie and rightly so.  But my favorite line comes after that awkward moment.

“See that Bear’s game last week?”

“Yeah, hell of a game.”

John Hughes is another creator that we never give enough credit to.

He is always written off as a writer/directer of the “80s teen angst melodrama,” but his filmography shows so much more than that:

Director/Writer = “Sixteen Candles,” “The Breakfast Club,” (I know, not helping my case for someone that is more than just an 80s teen angst supporter) “Weird Science,” “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles,” “She’s Having a Baby,” “Uncle Buck,” and “Curly Sue.”  Outside of “Curly Sue,” I enjoy each of these movies.  Some have already been given an essay and some will be given one in the future.  His movies to me always walked on a line of absurdity, while maintaining a seriousness that justified real actions by the protagonists.

I have only mentioned the movies that he wrote/directed.  He wrote original screenplays for:

ALL of  the National Lampoon’s Vacation movies, “Mr. Mom,” “Pretty in Pink,” “Some Kind of Wonderful,” “The Great Outdoors,” “Career Opportunities,” and “Home Alone.”

It’s a shame he passed at age 59.  I get the feeling he had one more movie to “say something” in.


Please join my newsletter #Clintington on Film Dope Sheet.

“Stick around.”

Remember when I mentioned that thing about “firsts?”  Here’s another one.  It’s a little more “abstract” for a “first,” but a type of “first” none-the-less.

So, the first Arnold Schwarzenegger movie I ever saw was “Commando,”  Sunday Night Movie and edited for television.  The second was “The Terminator,” also edited for television.

This next one was the first one I was allowed to watch, with my dad, completely unedited on VHS.

It starts like “The Magnificent Seven,” and ends up being “Silver Bullet.”

A special military team is sent into the jungle on what is believed to be a rescue mission.  As we start our journey with them, they prove to be a formidable force.

Prior to reaching the enemy outpost, they discover a multitude of concerning circumstances that no one can explain.  There was another team that went missing on the same mission.  The group stumbles along their aircraft, and can find no explanation as to why it was brought down.  They also find a large majority of the team members corpses, hanging from a tree with their hides removed.  They know it is them because of their dog tags.

Bent on retribution now, they invade the enemy hideaway with stealth precision and eliminate all of them with no casualties on their team.


Dutch (Schwarzenegger) finds out that it was anything but a rescue mission all along and he has been duped by an old “friend.”  They have also been cut off from their transport out, and have to take “the long way” around the South American Jungle.

Little did any of them know that this would be the least of their problems.

At the very, very start of this movie, there appears to be a “Mothership” alien vessel that launches a life pod down through earth’s atmosphere.  I always felt that this would’ve been a slightly more interesting movie if they would’ve left that scene out of the beginning.  Jim & John Thomas developed a great script with disturbing visuals and haunting scenes that created a lot of suspense as we watch our heroes trudge along in the forest, only to get picked off one by one.  Being that we as the viewer are in on the “alien invasion,” we don’t get to be in the thick of it with the heroes as much, knowing that they are being hunted by a monster from another world.

Don’t get me wrong, “Predator” is still one bad ass action extravaganza that changed the way I’d play with my G. I. Joe action figures moving forward.  I remember looking at all of the action figures I had, and compiling a team much like the one in the movie.  I would get all of the similar weapons that they had in the movie and match them up with the character’s and pick them off one by one.  The problem was, I did not have a predator action figure, so that was all make-believe (i.e. me).  I still pretty much reenacted this movie when I played with my G. I. Joe’s, predator available or not.

I remember being so thankful that my mom allowed me to watch that movie with my dad.  I could finally share in some of the conversations my friends had at school about the movie.  It also loosened my parents up a little on future “R” rated movies.

Pretty good “first” …

…even if it is a little abstract.


Please join my newsletter #Clintington on Film Dope Sheet.

“What? Lit?”

Pleasantly unexpected.

That’s how I’d describe this next one.

It was a movie that my friends told me about at school.  After they talked about some of the story elements, I went home and asked my mom if we could rent it.

We got to the rental store and she read the case like she always did.  She had a raised eyebrow as it was written by Stephen King.  She checked the rating and had some concerns, but she let us watch it.

There was a certain scene in which the great James Woods’ character is sneaking around his house at night during a thunder and lightning storm.  As he goes down into his living room, there is a lightning flash as he sees himself in the mirror–startled–he screams and then realizes it was his reflection as he gathers his emotions.

I don’t remember my father laughing harder at a particular scene in a movie.  My dad was always very excited when he got to use the VCR.  He would rewind scenes that he wanted to see over and over again.  I remember him rewinding the first time we got to see the Millennium Falcon jump into hyper space.

He rewound this scene 3 times!

That outburst from my dad set the tone for the rest of the movie, and we enjoyed it.

Cat’s Eye” is a movie with three stories to tell from a cat’s point of view.  It is cast very well and we were able to enjoy three short movies in one.

james alan

The first story stars James Woods and the great comedian Alan King.  Woods hires King to help him kick his smoking habit.  King uses questionable tactics to get his clients to quit smoking.  Fear of physical harm to you and all the people you love.  This creates suspense and puts our point of view (the cat’s) in danger as well.  Creative story telling.

hays cats eye

We follow our cat voyeur to the next story and he is immediately put in peril. As a “fat cat” dirty businessman uses him as sport, gambling on whether the cat will survive crossing the very busy boulevard downtown.  The “fat cat” bets on the feline and takes him home when he makes it across.  At home we find Robert Hays who is forced by the “fat cat” to climb around the 12″ ledge of his 12 story building if he wants to live after committing adultery with the “fat cat’s” wife.  Disturbing, gripping, and a hint of redemption.  What can you expect from Stephen King?

troll cats eye

The final story is the one that spurred me to run home and tell my mom to rent this as an 8 year old when my friends told me about it at school.  Drew Barrymore (I knew her as the little sister on “E. T.” at this point) is a child that is being robbed of her breath at night from a troll that is the size of a rat.  Her trusted new kitty is there to protect her, in spite of her parents that do not trust the pesky feline for a number of reasons.  Suspense, horror, and a little bit of comedy in this one.

I hope I never forget the outburst of laughter my father had the first time he saw James Woods startle himself in his own mirror.  It made it easier for my mom to relax with the subject matter, giving us an enjoyable little film to watch together.

Can’t ask for more than that.


Please join my newsletter #Clintington on Film Dope Sheet.

“If you can dream it, you can do it.”

I watched a TON of Disney movies growing up.  I don’t just mean their animated movies.  We had cable television from 1980-1984.  That included the Disney Channel.  Not to mention, ABC aired two-and-a-half Disney movies a week after school from 4pm-5pm Mountain Time until I was about 12 years old (1989-it might have gone on longer, but I started competitive sports around that age and watched way less television because of practice after school) .

Being that there were so many, a lot of them flow together in my mind (“Bedknobs and Broomsticks,” “Mary Poppins,” “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” “The Gnome-Mobile,” “Pete’s Dragon,” etc.).  All of these are great, but they do not stand out apart in my mind.  There are four that do:


I love movies that have heart.  This one is huge.  I remember watching a bunch of boring, snobby adults at the beginning of this movie.  Enter Pollyanna.  Hayley Mills as a child star in the 60s for Disney was what Henry Thomas and River Phoenix were as child stars in the 80s. This is the first movie I remember watching where I saw a young lady light up the screen by walking into frame.  The costumes, lighting, and direction deserve a lot of that credit, but there was nothing like young Hayley Mills.  To watch the story of a very depressed neighborhood being influenced on very deep emotional levels by an unapologetic, inspiring little Buddha of a girl was quite moving.  Like “E. T.” this movie made me feel many emotions from beginning to end and I challenge people that generally cry at movies not to cry at this one.


There is a lot of cool stuff about this movie.  A boy that gets cursed and turns into a dog.  It sounds like a horror movie, and it does have some of those elements, but it plays as a mild-adventure/comedy.  It has Annette Funicello (hubba hubba) as the teenage love interest and one of my favorite underrated actors, Fred MacMurray as the father.  Its’ a very interesting comedy with slight dark elements and a loving boy that wants to protect his family.  It stuck with me I think because of the transformation special effects.  I saw it at a very young age, before I was jaded and thought that cursed people might really turn into dogs.


Sweet Hayley again, and this time, it’s double trouble.  I love the story.  Twin sisters, who had no clue about the other, meet at camp for the first time, and decide to switch places (the daughter that lives with mother goes home with dad and vice versa).  Needless to say, shenanigans ensue in many different scenes and the story ends up taking off on levels that I didn’t see coming.  This film features Brian Keith (another underrated actor) and the boisterous Maureen O’Hara.  The story and the acting all around are what stuck with me over the years with this romantic comedy, and I try and watch it at least once a year.

…and my favorite Disney “kids” movie (probably of all time)…


This was a visual extravaganza for me at a very young age.  I wanted flubber to be real, so bad.  I was a runt of a kid and I could’ve used anti-gravity on many occasions at recess.  To see a man role up flubber into a ball and watch it continue to bounce and bounce all over the room was incredible to me.  I couldn’t look away.  My dad was a racquet ball player and the balls that the professor made reminded me of the racquet balls my dad had lying around the house when he came home from a match.  Our unlikely hero used flubber on his shoes at a dance to impress some town folk (and his estranged love interest), on the local height-challenged varsity basketball team’s sneakers, and on his own shoes to fight local gangsters. I’d like to thank Mitchell Francis @mjfrancis59 for reminding me of this wonderful gem that I adored all those years ago as a wide-eyed five-year-old.  I can’t wait to revisit it again, soon.


Please join my newsletter #Clintington on Film Dope Sheet.