Thursday, May 28, 2015

Take Me Back to Oklahoma (1940)

An American western musical comedy directed by Albert Herman, starring Tex Ritter.
A gang of outlaws are systematically shutting down a stagecoach line for their own evil schemes. A singing cowboy and his comedic relief sidekick arrive to defeat the outlaws.
This was stereotypical and poorly made. The plot was not clearly communicated and the only identifiable character was the sidekick. The audio was standard for the time (poor) and the video was worse. Again, the musical performances were mimed and lip-synched. I could almost hear the director saying "smile real big and wave the violin around so they can't tell that you're not playing it" as the actor sawed away with his fretting hand fisted on the strings. I'm rating this bad because it was poorly made and I didn't like it. Probably best left unwatched because it can't be unmade.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Stagecoach to Denver (1946)

An American western from the Red Ryder series directed by R.G. Springsteen.
It's complicated and I really don't want to deal with the plot on a piece of crap like this.
Every shot was underexposed. The plot was overly complicated, muddy, murky and vague. The characters were stereotypical and had back-stories that were not included in this film. Seriously, this is the WORST western I've seen. I rate it shit. DO NOT WATCH!!!!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Springtime in the Rockies (1937)

An American western musical directed by Joseph Kane, starring Gene Autry and Smiley Burnette.
A ranch foreman averts disaster in mixed up dealings over land and sheep between a rancher who is out for money and innocent college girls who have just moved in.
The complex plot was followable, but not as clearly presented as I would have liked. The characters were identifiable, but stereotypical of the genre and time. Audio and video as expected. The only thing to note is Smiley Burnette's repeated use of low vocals during his songs. I rate it poor because I just didn't like it.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

South of Santa Fe (1942)

An American western musical directed by Joseph Kane, starring Roy Rogers and George "Gabby" Hayes.
A singing cowboy and his sidekick help a woman who owns a mine to summon businessmen to visit and hopefully invest in the enterprise. A city gangster poses as one of the cowboys in their riding gang and a kidnapping of the businessmen and hero cowboys takes place.
This was pretty standard. Plot, characters, audio and video as expected. The only thing to note is the live musical performance and wild dancing of a pair of kids. I rate it tolerable.

Song of the Gringo A.K.A. The Old Corral (1936)

An American western musical directed by John P. McCarthy, starring Tex Ritter.
A Texas ranger, who is supposedly an outlaw on the run, gets hired by an outlaw boss to expose the gang's crimes and win the heart of the crime boss's daughter.
I don't follow plots well when people are pretending to be someone they're not or when lies are involved. The characters were pretty clearly presented, but stereotypical of the old western genre. The video was blurry/grainy but fairly visible. The audio was about as one would expect from this type of film from this time. Again, I was disappointed that here was this famous guitar-slinging, singing cowboy, yet he was miming his guitar playing. This became painfully obvious during a scene in the garden when he was playing for the boss's daughter. His hands did not move, yet the audio had guitar playing. An interesting note is that this was Tex Ritter's first film. Overall, standard and as expected. I rate it o.k.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Son of the Renegade (1953)

An American western directed by Reg Browne.
A man becomes an outlaw by winning a gunfight and recruits a gang of harriers. Unfortunately, a sheriff moles his way into the gang and breaks it up. When the old outlaw dies, his son inherits the family ranch and the father's reputation.
The heavy narration in the first section was working well, but it ended with the life of the father. Then they brought in way too many characters without back-stories and tried to cram in as many sub-plots as they could until the 56 minute mark. The style was classic western, with good settings and clear camera-work. Cowboy costumes were top-notch and the leading female villain was an extremely attractive, but unknown actress. It looks like they had all the right stuff to make a western, but only half a plot. Yes, I'm giving them flak for lack of planning. I rate this bad. There are so many better things to watch.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Psychedelic Messiah (2014)

A documentary by Adam Miller.
In extremely exhaustive and in-depth study of history, religion, agriculture, gender and drugs is presented, accompanied by classical music and art.
OH YEAH! This is the kind of stuff that I spend hours looking for online and rarely find. The audio was about 95% clear, with some small volume fluctuations and audio artifacts. The video was nothing less than FUCKING AMAZING! As the narrator speaks, relevant pictures and videos are shown to fully illustrate the points that he is speaking on. The narrative takes us from a war between ancient Rome and the Jews all the way up to the zombie apocalypse films of today. Some of the more detailed sections were about how ancient Romans "cultivated" or "tamed" strong and wild plants by placing them among and grafting them onto other species. This is then applied to the Romans editing the Jewish texts to basically make a mockery of them. Another related section was about portraying Jesus as feminine with a purple menstral robe and associating him with the feminine aspects of the mushroom. I got a detailed education in mycology and the life-cycle of mushrooms while watching this. At this point, my rudimental understanding of the vast subject matter begins to degrade, rather than promote the film. It was very well made and I enjoyed it. Some folks who are not interested in deep analysis of this subject matter may find it to by dry and boring. Video game fans will notice the Sephiroth theme from Final Fantasy VII later in the film. I rate it best. WATCH IT!

Six-Gun Rhythm (1939)

An American western musical directed by Sam Newfield, starring Tex Fletcher.
A cowboy turned football player returns to his hometown to find that his lawman father is missing and a gang of outlaws now run the town.
This is very representative of the old western genre. It had a charismatic lead male singing cowboy, ridiculous comic refief sidekick, outlaws, editing mistakes, audio and video artifacts, loud dead-air hiss and spotty camera exposure. If you pay careful attention, you'll notice that Fletcher plays guitar left-handed (even though he mimes this activity in the film).
Wikipedia has a little info that I really like about Fletcher:
"He drove from town to town with his own 16mm print of "Six Gun Rhythm," custom made Martin D-42 guitar and his cowboy outfits in the back seat. He would perform a few songs, show the picture, sign autographs and then move on to the next town. This action is what many believe to be the reason the B-Western has enjoyed such a long shelf life and has been held in such high esteem among collectors, as it would have otherwise been virtually unknown."
For being such a prime example of the genre, I rate it adequate and the Wikipedia quote made me decide to keep it. If you've been watching or reading about these '30s and '40s westerns, this would definitely be one to watch.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Sing, Cowboy, Sing (1937)

An American western directed by Robert N. Bradbury, starring Tex Ritter.
A singing cowboy and his sidekick happen upon a disaster scene where a freight wagon has been destroyed. They deliver the dead bodies and lone survivor to the nearest town where they work to find the criminals responsible.
This was old and not very clearly presented. I lost the plot a few times (partially from being distracted) and had trouble identifying some characters (same reason). The video had artifacts, mostly vertical white lines and the audio wasn't great. Overall, this is low on the quality scale of old westerns, but not annoying. I rate it tolerable because it wasn't terrible.

Silver Spurs (1943)

An American western directed by Joseph Kane, starring Roy Rogers, Smiley Burnette, Trigger and John Carradine.
A newspaper woman and her secretary are sent by her boss to marry an unknown and wealthy man who owns land in the country in order to get a "hot story". When they arrive, they find that the man is corrupt and she befriends a singing cowboy, with the secretary befriending the cowboy's sidekick. Together, the team work to expose the corrupt businessman and his gang and secure land raights to allow a railroad to be built.
The complex plot was clearly communicated and most of the characters were easily identifiable. The pacing was really fast to fit all of this into 53 minutes and the style was standard for '40s westerns. The audio and video were decent and clear enough to not cause problems. There were some really good action scenes involving men, horses, wagons and cars in which I noticed good camera-work. Overall, not too shabby. I rate it o.k.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Macross: Do You Remember Love? A.K.A. The Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Do You Remember Love?, Chōjikū Yōsai Makurosu: Ai Oboete Imasu ka, Super Spacefortress Macross, DYRL (1984)

A Japanese science fiction anime directed by Shoji Kawamori and Noboru Ishiguro.
A giant space station is attacked by giant male alien warriors. A pilot then takes his singer girlfriend out for an illegal joyride on a fighter-jet/robot and they are captured by the aliens. Upon escaping, they land on Earth to find it completely destroyed and discover an alien spaceship/city from yet another race of beings. They are rescued and a final battle is fought between multiple space-based civilizations.
This was typical of '80s anime, but that's why I liked it. The video was very good and they did a great job of traditional anime. The version that I watched was English dubbed and missing some audio. The epic plot was clearly communicated and the main characters presented well. I think I've covered style pretty well already. The pacing was very slow, but this allows the viewer to get comfortable with a scene before moving on to the next. Overall, standard, but good '80s anime. I rate it adequate.

Sheriff of Tombstone (1941)

An American western directed by Joseph Kane, starring Roy Rogers and George "Gabby" Hayes.
A cowboy sheriff impersonates a corrupt sheriff to expose the leaders of a town as criminals.
This was pretty much what I've come to expect. Some vagueness of plot and few clearly defined characters, lo-fi audio and video that are still audible and can be seen. there were not many musical numbers in this one. Because it blends in with the crowd so well, I will rate it tolerable.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Shadows of Death (1945)

An American western directed by Sam Newfield, starring Buster Crabbe.
A good cowboy has a bearded friend who runs a shop. There is an outlaw who breaks matches and a romantic interest as well.
This was standard and badly presented. The plot and characters were not clear, except for the leading man and his friend. The style looked more like 1925 than 1945 to me and the pacing didn't really matter. I didn't like it, but it wasn't annoying. I'll rate it poor.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Seven Alone (1974)

An American western adventure directed by Earl Bellamy.
The true story of the Sager family of pioneers is depicted in a fictionalized account. The parents die and the oldest son, who has only caused mischief, leads his siblings to finish their journey.
The plot and characters were pretty much clearly presented. There were some slight gaps with lack of information. The storay was also a little on the sappy side. The audio sounded alright and the video was in color and looked o.k. to me. The pacing was on the slow side and the style was very much of the time. Overall, it wasn't bad, but not that great either. I rate it o.k.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Savage Journey (1977 1983)

An American western adventure directed by Tom McGowan, starring Maurice Grandmaison.
Religious pioneers travel, take many wives and settle land.
If it weren't for the blatant mormonist propaganda, this would have been a really good movie. The video all looked really good with nice, clean shots showing exactly what was going on. The audio was a little rough, but not too shabby. The plot and characters were VERY clearly communicated. I watched this in about 3-4 chunks between doing other things and STILL the plot popped for me! I was interested in what was happenning all the way through. For me to be that distracted and still keep track of the movie, it has to be very well made. I'm rating this adequate and it's a keeper. The detracting factor is the obvious religious overtones.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Savage Guns A.K.A. Era Sam Wallach... lo chiamavano 'così sia', His Name Was Sam Walbash, But They Call Him Amen (1971)

An Italian spaghetti western directed by Demofilo Fidani.
Cowboys... ummmm... outlaws... I seriously don't know what the plot was.
This was pretty terrible. I normally like '70s spaghetti westerns, so it takes some really shitty filmmaking to make me dislike a film of this genre. The plot and characters were not clearly communicated. I got who the main character was, but that was it. As typical with this style, the video was good and they had some good shots, but to no avail this time. The audio was deafeningly loud. I have to rate this shit.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Sagebrush Trail A.K.A. An Innocent Man (1933)

An American western directed by Armand Schaefer, starring John Wayne.
An apparent murderer on the run from the law falls in with a band of outlaws. It becomes apparent that he is not guilty and the real killer is revealed.
This was very standard, but not annoying. Plot and characters were mostly clear and the audio and video were passable. Most of all, this was boring. All of these western films got cranked out because they were the thing to do, but watching ALL of them seems an interminable and unrewarding task. I have doubts if I will finish my viewing and review writing of public domain films. I rate this tolerable.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Saddle Mountain Roundup (1941)

An American western mystery directed by S. Roy Luby.
A rich old man is murdered and a group of cowboys solve the crime.
This was standard through and through. The only thing that differentiated it from the other westerns was the murder mystery element in the plot. Audio and video standard for 1941. Stretching REALLY far, I noticed that the old man had a pet raven. I rate it tolerable.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Round-up Time in Texas (1937)

An American western musical directed by Joseph Kane, starring Gene Autry and Smiley Burnette.
A cowboy in Texas gets a letter from his brother who is mining diamonds in Africa. The American brother rounds up the horses requested and goes to Africa in search of his brother.
This was pretty standard. The plot and characters were clearly communicated and there was plenty of music and comic relief. All of the songs were diegetic, but seemed to be from pre-recorded audio with actors miming and lip synching. It just boggles my mind how few actual music performances there are in movies. The audio and video were standard for the date, but clear enough to pass my inspection. Overall, it's a standard 1937 western musical with Gene Autry. What other description would be necessary? I rate it o.k.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Rough Riders' Round-up (1939)

An American musical western directed by Joseph Kane, starring Roy Rogers.
A group of border patrol cowboy/soldiers detain a woman who is supposed to cross the Mexican border to marry a man who owns a mine there.
This just seemed very old to me. The plot was a little vague or murky in some areas, but the main characters were clearly identifiable and easy to keep track of. The audio and video were very old and not the best, but not bad. There was one scene where I noticed good directing. The male lead duo were getting on their horses in unison and I thought it looked cool. The songs were good, with the exception of the intro "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" which I found annoying. Overall, pretty standard and blends into the crowd of old westerns I've been watching. I rate it tolerable.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Rollin' Plains (1938)

An American western directed by Albert Herman, starring Tex Ritter.
A ranger and his sidekicks settle a feud between sheep men and cattle men.
The plot was not clearly presented. It just seemed thrown together. The characters were alright. The sidekicks provided comic relief, but I was disappointed that the musicians in the film were lip synching and miming guitar playing. The video had lots of scribbly artifacts and the audio had lots of hiss and pops. I have to rate this poor because it was poorly made.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Rim of the Canyon (1949)

An American western directed by John English, starring Gene Autry.
A cowboy crashes his stagecoach in a race and meets a woman in a ghost town. The woman has been in communication with the ghosts and a plot involving 20 year old treasure, the cowboy's father and a group of bandits is revealed.
The plot and characters were clearly presented. I liked how the backstory got filled in with flashbacks. Another general aspect that I noticed was the romantic interest replacement. There were lots of underexposed shots on the video and the audio had too much dead air hiss. There were some good shots in the stagecoach race, the fist fight and the cowboy jumping onto his horse. Overall, it was a regular western with some good things and some bad things. I rate it o.k.