Friday, June 30, 2017

Old movies and TV: Secret Service

Holly and I have been watching a Supermarionation show called Secret Service, which featured a priest and a man who got shrunken for spy work. I'd never seen it before, but I enjoy it.


I had never seen all of the 1977 movie Capricorn One before this past week. Three astronauts are supposed to go to Mars, but something goes wrong and the government pulls them out and pretends they're still out in space.

The three astronauts (Jim Brolin, Sam Waterston and O.J. Simpson) are kept hidden, but they escape. The government goons catch two of them, but Brolin gets away.

Reporter Elliott Gould finds out what's going on, and he winds up helping Brolin with the aid of a goofy biplane pilot played by the marvelous Telly Savalas (who loves ya, baby?).

I loved the ending, as Brolin and Gould encroached on Brolin's supposed funeral. Great movie? Nah. Good movie? Yes.


I just watched a 1942 movie called The Man Who Wouldn't Die featuring one of my favorite oldie actors, Lloyd Nolan. The story is convoluted and hard to follow, but it has humor as well as drama. So I kept watching it.

Would I watch it again? Probably not.

Spoiler alert: He finally DID die. And Nolan solved the case.


Years ago, I found a British TV show called Secret Agent. I tried to find it on YouTube, with no luck, but I did find a revamped version of the Patrick McGoohan show called Danger Man.

I love the music and the stories. It's fast-paced and dramatic, and I've always liked McGoohan.

Last night, I saw an episode featuring James Bond's Moneypenny, Lois Maxwell, and well-known character actor Donald Pleasence, who actually was one of the actors to play Blofeld in a James Bond movie (You Only Live Twice).

I have to start watching a Danger Man episode to see if I've seen it before, but I'll keep trying. It's worth it.


I've been watching something called The Forsaken Westerns on YouTube. Last night, I found a TV pilot called The Texas Ranger, featuring Dennis Morgan (Christmas in Connecticut), and today I'm watching a half-hour show called The Buckskin Rangers.

The interesting thing about the Rangers is that two of them (Crash Corrigan and Max Terhune) are two-thirds of the semi-famous Three Mesquiteers. They've changed Terhune's name from Lullaby to Alibi, but it's pretty much the same thing.

It's a shame the Ranger pilot didn't become a regular series; it had potential.


I just found a Forsaken Western called Luke and the Tenderfoot. The story is OK, but it has a great cast. The star is Edgar Buchanan, and the supporting cast includes Leonard Nimoy, Lee Van Cleef, Michael Landon and Dabbs Greer.


I recently found an old TV series called Laredo, and I just watched an episode on YouTube called A Matter of Policy. It's a funny western series featuring Neville Brand, Peter Brown, William Smith and Philip Carey. The first three are Texas Rangers, and Carey plays their captain.

I spend each episode thinking that the three amigos are nuts, and it's obvious their hare-brained schemes should be avoided. But things always work out at the end, and Laredo might be my all-time favorite western series (other than, possibly, Have Gun Will Travel).


Today, I re-watched a really old movie called Bulldog Drummond in Africa, one of the better movies in the 1930s series featuring actor John Howard. I loved those movies when I was young, and it's nice to find them again.

The interesting thing about Drummond in Africa is the appearance of standout character actor J. Carrol Naish and future superstar actor Anthony Quinn.


I just watched an old movie called Phffft. The title came from famed newspaper columnist/radio personality Walter Winchell, who wrote or said phffft when a marriage was going sour.

In this movie, Jack Lemmon and Judy Holliday are having marital problems, so Holliday decides she wants a divorce. She gets one in Reno, Nevada, but then they soon begin to realize they love each other.

The movie sort of drags until Lemmon's friend, Jack Carson, fixes him up with Kim Novak, who does a wonderful imitation of Marilyn Monroe. The highlight, though, comes when Lemmon and Holliday are dancing with other partners, but our hero and heroine wind up switching partners in mid-dance and doing one of the strangest dances I've seen.

I won't give away the ending, but that's one of the best parts of the movie; I watched it (and the dance scene) twice. I'd give Phffft four stars out of five.


I just found the 1957 movie called Operation Mad Ball, featuring Jack LemmonArthur McConnell, Mickey RooneyErnie KovacsRoger Smith and others. I'd never heard of it until recently, and I was a little apprehensive getting it mailed from Netflix.

It was wonderful. Lemmon did his usual fine job, and most of the others were good, too. And Rooney almost stole the movie in a supporting role.

Kathryn Grant, Lemmon's love interest, looked suspiciously like the future Mrs. Bing Crosby. I'll have to check.


I had never seen the movie The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao until tonight. It was billed as a tour-de-force performance by the late Tony Randall, and I was hoping for something great.

It reminded me a bit of Peter Sellers' performance in Dr. Strangelove. It took me 15 or 20 minutes to really get into the movie, but finally I began to like it. Randall became interesting, not irritating.

I don't know if it was a great movie or a tour de force. Liking it is enough. Hey, I almost stopped it early to send it back to Netflix.


I recently saw the movie The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry  and spent much of the movie worried that Harry had killed one of his sisters and doomed another to capital punishment. The ending was a huge surprise. I rarely have liked George Sanders' characters, but I enjoyed this one. Check it out.


I was admittedly a little nervous when I signed up to get Charlie Chan at the Opera from Netflix. The photos of Boris Karloff looked melodramatic and campy, and I was afraid that this could be a disaster.

This was the best Charlie Chan movie I've seen, either with Warner Oland or Sidney Toler, and I've seen nearly all of them. Instead of sending it right back, we'll watch the backstory, then watch the movie again.


More blog entries by Tom Gillispie
• Advice for be Eand would-be novelists

Anecdotes by Tom Gillispie

EDITOR@WORK blog entries

Entries from The Dog Blog

Blog entries from The Auto Racing Journal
(a book of great stories about the Intimidator)
(the book of great NASCAR stories)

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