Movies and TV (#SFWApro)

Wrapping up the Abbott & Costello eight-pack that I bought last year, we have BUCK PRIVATES COME HOME (1947), a sequel to their earlier hit Buck Privates. In the original film, they were two street peddlars who wound up in basic training by mistake; here, they demobilize at the end of the war, try to pick up their old life … only Lou’s smuggled home an adorable French orphan the platoon quasi-adopted in his dufflebag. Now they have to keep her away from immigration, stay ahead of the cops (their old sergeant is now a beat cop) and find some way to get honest jobs. Not quite as good as I remembered it, but entertaining; a shame one scene in which Lou Costello’s character confronts Lou Costello (who jumps off a movie screen and gets into a fight) got cut. “For today, and today only, I am selling $15 ties for just 35 cents!”
Finishing up the set, THE WISTFUL WIDOW OF WAGON GAP (1947) was much funnier than expected, because I’d confused it with Lou’s later film The 30 Foot Bride of Candy Rock. In this Western comedy, Lou gets framed for murdering a man, so an old Montana law makes him responsible for maintaining the guy’s family, including virago wife Marjorie Main (who’d just scored a hit as a crotchety farm wife in The Egg and I). Then Lou realizes that as nobody else wants to deal with Main, he can do anything he likes and no-one will dare shoot him … which results in a great deal of fun. The screenwriter wrote the original version several years earlier with Jimmy Stewart in mind (making me wonder if the ending is a take-off on Stewart’s Destry Rides Again) and later wrote the TV-movie Wild Wild West Revisited (which is why several scenes take place in Wagon Gap). “Very well, I fine the deceased $12 for carrying concealed weapons!”

TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY adapts John LeCarré’s novel for British TV, with Alec Guinness as intelligence officer George Smiley, recently out to pasture after the death of his mentor and a power shake-up built around one careerist schemer’s access to an A-list source of Russian intelligence. But now Smiley has confirmation one of the schemer’s allies is a double agent, but can he figure out which one? A more forceful Smiley than I imagined him, but still a superb performance—I can see why LeCarré had trouble thinking of Smiley as anyone but Guinness after this. With Ian Richardson (the British House of Cards, Hogfather) as one of the suspects. “I still believe nations’ secret services are the true expression of their character.”
THE MOD SQUAD was a 1960s/1970s hit, a cop show built around a (based on truth) team of twentysomethings recruited by the LAPD (I think it was Los Angeles) to catch crooks preying on the counter-culture. Like Green Lantern/Green Arrow and Forever People, this is very much tied in to the sixties zeitgeist, though not to the same extreme—the third episode on this Netflix DVD (a scheme to rob the federal reserve) would have worked on any cop show (but TV Guide once argued that mixing “hip” stories with standard cops-and-robbers fare is why it outlasted most other shows in this vein). Like other products of this era, I’m not sure how well it would work for someone who wasn’t around back then. Another problem is that typically for the time, Julie (Peggy Lipton) is purely decorative: the guys kick butt, she charms guys to squeeze out information. Still, as I missed this in the original run, interesting to see a few. “Murder and money—they’re never more than a switchblade apart.”

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Filed under Movies, TV

One response to “Movies and TV (#SFWApro)

  1. Pingback: Hugos and Popularity: Eric Flint’s insights (#SFWApro) | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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