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Around 2018, I decided to start posting screen shots, etc to some of comedian Charley Chase's listings. It was rather fun, so after re-discovering actor Patrick McGoohan in late 2019, I began doing the same for some of his listings.
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Chaplin, Lloyd, and Keaton are still popular after a century, but they weren't the only comedians out there!
Which of these silent-only comedians who worked only in silents do you feel deserves more exposure to modern audiences?
Can you suggest anyone not on this list? Discuss this poll here
Two Living, One Dead (1961)
Who is the REAL coward?
As of early 2020, this film doesn't appear to be available commercially. There is a low-quality version which can be found online that looks like it came from an old VHS recording. Because of the image quality, I can't really attest to the overall look of the film. This also makes it difficult to tell if Patrick McGoohan is made to look pale and tired with bags under his eyes, which would befit his character, or if it is just... well... not a Blue Ray DVD! There is very little music soundtrack, which does make an already rather stark-looking film even more so at times. It is also a little confusing having a mainly British cast put in a Swedish setting.
The best performances are by Alf Kjellin (Rogers) and McGoohan (Berger). Granted, Bill Travers' character (Andersson) is basically a big oaf, and you can't do too much with that in a drama. Virginia McKenna as McGoohan's wife is ok, and their son Rolf is played well by John Moulder-Brown.
As for the subject matter, and who is in the right, that is up to the viewer. Most of the cast views Berger as a coward for not risking his life to keep a large amount of money away from two robbers who had already injured two people. Berger was thinking of his wife and son, but his boss thinks he should have sacrificed his life to the Postal Service. The audience is left to ponder just who was right or wrong.
McGoohan plays Berger as very quiet, but obviously warm hearted and intelligent. As the story progresses, and his marriage falls apart, he becomes even more of a lost soul, though he never really gives in and try to change for the sake of others. He knows who he is and why he did what he did. But any display of emotion is very low key. No "Number Six" outburst of anger here. In fact, the second to last scene, where Berger goes a bit batty and confronts Andersson at gunpoint, he is actually ever-so-slightly "hammy", though this may simply be how he felt a quiet, unassuming man like Berger would behave in that situation. If a man isn't prone to loosing his temper, doing so may actually be frightening to himself, and McGoohan's Berger does indeed seem afraid of what he is doing in that scene.
All in all, I did expect a better film. Perhaps if it were a less stark production, perhaps set in Britain, and McGoohan gave his Berger just a smidge more emotion, it would be a bit more engaging.
His Bridal Fright (1940)
A rather peppy Chase at the end of his too-short life...
Watching this short is a little depressing, given Chase passed away soon after. While he appears a bit older than his 46 years and had been in bad health, he actually seems full of pep. His search for postage stamps is rather cute (especially to this stamp collecting-fan!), with some good, silent-era style gags, but the last part of the film, where he attempts to get married, slows things down too much.
If only he had lived longer, who knows what he could have done for screen comedy, if only behind the cameras...
Life for Ruth (1962)
Fairly deals with a touchy topic
I have to admit I wasn't looking forward to watching this film. I sought it out only to see Patrick McGoohan's performance, which in my opinion could have been larger.
Having said that, I did indeed watch the whole film, and it actually went by rather quickly, meaning it wasn't the chore I expected it to be.
The premise of the plot is simple: a couple's daughter, Ruth, and their neighbor's son get into a boat accident, and the girl's father (Harris) saves the both of them. But the man saves the boy first, causing his daughter to end up with more severe injuries. Those injuries result in blood loss requiring a transfusion at the local hospital. But her parents refuse to allow the doctor (McGoohan) to perform the transfusion, due to their religious beliefs. Despite the staff's pleads, and eventually the mother's change of mind, the girl dies.
From this point, the plot revolves around parent's relationship, and the doctor trying to get what he feels is justice for Ruth, in order to prevent other children from dying due to what he feels are fanatical religious beliefs. It all culminates in the father's trial under a British child-cruelty law.
The film never flat out tells us just what Ruth's parents religion is (I am guessing to protect the studio from libel), but it appears they are Jehovah's Witnesses. Other characters are identified as Jewish, Catholic, and Church of England, while the doctor is portrayed as more of a man of science. The wife converted in order to marry Harris, but never really agreed with his beliefs.
Not only is the idea of religious freedom covered, but also the idea of The State having more control over people's children. The doctor mentions more than once that he feels the State should be able to step in and give treatment regardless of parents' views.
In the end, the viewer gets the point of the story, without their own religion being insulted. No one is proven right or wrong. You can side with whichever character you wish, for the most part. Only the most fanatical may be offended.
As for production, there are some interesting shots showing ominous skies and seas, interesting camera angles, etc. Acting is good overall, Harris being perfect as the father. Munro was a bit "weepy" for my tastes, but her portrayal of a conflicted mother and wife is for the most part not too "syrupy". McGoohan plays the doctor in a very quiet and restrained manner. I expected at least one major burst of anger from him (ala "Danger Man" or "Prisoner"), but he kept things low-key. In fact, his first batch of lines are delivered so softly I had to turn up the volume to hear them!
All in all, I'd say this was a rather dark, but well made film of a touchy topic, which is handled fairly and doesn't insult or take sides. I'd like to have seen a little more "fire" in certain scenes, but that's one person's opinion.
Danger Man: Sting in the Tail (1965)
This installment is a little different...
I viewed this episode for the second time last night... Something about this one is just "different". It was directed by Peter "Bullitt" Yates, which may be one reason. But one thing that is very noticeable is how McGoohan delivers much of his dialogue, very "cut and dry", almost no "embellishment", and I found his technique of not even looking at Derren Nesbitt most of the time very interesting. Pure McGoohan in my view, but not usually used to such an extent.
The plot itself is actually rather weak, as most of the story revolves around Nesbitt trying to keep Drake away from his gal, as Drake uses the gal to get to Nesbitt. The story could be used for a TV show not about spies at all.
The ending is a rare example of Drake looking & feeling like a real heel. But female viewers will no doubt forgive him if only for the scene where he is drying his hair ...
1950s British Equivalent of America's Lighter Westerns
This sort of show was no doubt the 1950s British equivalent of America's lighter westerns, safe for kids and not too taxing on the brain. Makeup and costumes are not the best, acting is so-so, depending on the actor. We see a young Patrick McGoohan as the "bad guy", not too long after he shared the stage with none other than Orson Welles in "Moby Dick", but a good four years before "Secret Agent" brought him the start of fame "across the pond". Shame he wasn't given more to do here.
The Prisoner: Hammer Into Anvil (1967)
Number Two gets his comeuppance...
This episode seems to be very popular with fans, and I can see why, though it is not one of my tip-top-favorites.
Number 6 shows us he does indeed have morals after witnessing the suicide of Number 73. He feels he must get revenge on Number 2 for her. His subtle, but really rather brutal, plan to drive away Number 2's allies, discredit him totally, and basically drive him nuts has a very non-moral feel to it.
This is just one person's opinion, but it just feels... well... wrong.
The best solution for me is looking at Number 6's techniques. He says very little in this episode, which means his actions alone are what do Number 2 in. Two reads into every one of Six's results his own way. When looked at that way, it isn't really Six who ruins Two... it is Two himself... which, oddly enough, I just remembered........... is a point made by Six himself at the very end of the episode!
(Light-bulb moment... )
McGoohan is the best thing about this episode...
My family used to watch "Murder She Wrote" in it's first seasons. Since then, if it is on TV during lunch, I will have it on in the kitchen. So while I have not seen every episode, I have seen enough, I feel, to rate this one.
I sought this episode out to see Patrick McGoohan's performance. It is always a treat to watch him, even if he isn't in his best roles. Here we get to hear his British accent, but it is a wee-bit over the top for a story taking place in Canada. Still, his unique speech pattern is still a joy to hear. And he adds humor to the show. (Long-time McGoohan fans will chuckle at the mere idea of Oliver Quayle's telephone calls with his multiple ex-wives.)
Alas, there is not much else here that is any good. Plot is weak, acting is horrible. Even Lansbury seemed to have "phoned it in" this episode. Again, while I haven't seen every episode, I have seen enough to say this one is a stinker...
A few great scenes, but too many flaws ruin what could have been an excellent episode
After watching this episode, I couldn't help but feel an interesting plot could have been executed better, especially for this particular series. The idea of a woman pitting wits with Number 6 while he tries to escape her assassination attempts could have resulted in some very tense scenes. Instead of being infused with drama, it was infused with humor, and that ruins a potentially great episode.
THE BAD: At first, I thought Justine Lord was well cast as "Death", but as the episode went on, I found her rather annoying. She's too proud of herself, when she really isn't all that good at what she is doing. Number 6's various "escapes" vary in quality, some leaving you wishing you were watching Secret Agent instead. Another issue is the blatantly obvious use of doubles and rear-projection, mostly during the amusement park scenes (I think McGoohan was in the US at the time filming "Ice Station Zebra"). How McGoohan allowed such low-budget-looking snippets into his pet-project amazes me. And the last scenes where "Napoleon" is in his lighthouse are just plain silly. (Though the "lighthouse" idea seems to factor into things later in the series...) Six's Irish brogue would have worked better had the dubbing been of better quality.
THE GOOD: The early John Drake-like scenes are the best. We get to see Number 6 basically AS Drake. He is pretty much dressed the same, sounds the same, acts the same, and as a bonus, he is in COLOR! The absolute best assassination escape is the one in the bar. I don't want to spoil it, so all I'll say is the "reveal" is very unique, and at first I didn't understand Number 6's response. Once I did, I had to chuckle! (Oh, and ladies... two words for you: THOSE EYES). As a car nut, I enjoyed seeing Drake... I MEAN Number 6, driving a different Lotus, this one a silver Elan. Then there's Death's Jaguar XKE.
The ending could fit under both of the above headings. In one way, I was confused and a bit let down. Between each scene, we see hands turning pages of some sort of story book. But no voice-over. Odd, but this IS The Prisoner after all. Once we see at the very end that Six has been "reading" (??) a story to some children (I assumed sex wasn't allowed on The Island), and that Number 2 has been hoping to learn something from these stories, well... to me that means Number 2 thinks Six is some sort of braggadocios idiot. Six knows everything he does is monitored, and doesn't need to pretend he was good in his job, so why would he brag and boast and let his guard down with the stories? In that way, the ending is weak.
On the other hand, it is nice to see Six with kids. Though to me, it was more seeing Patrick McGoohan putting a young girl to bed, like he must have done so many times with his own three daughters. In that respect, the scene is almost a fleeting glimpse into a very private man's home life.
Danger Man: Position of Trust (1960)
Three Good Actors Together
A good early episode with Donald Pleasence and Lois Maxwell (aka: Moneypenny). It was fun to see the quiet and restrained Pleasence together and caged-rage suave spy McGoohan together, and I dare say what the former lacked in hair (he has a small hairpiece in this episode) he made up for with his blue eyes, arguably even more impressive than McGoohan's! Good chemistry between Drake and "the dame", who is one of the stronger female characters of the series so far.
The only thing about this episode that I had issue with, and it isn't the script's fault, is trying to follow Drake's accent. McGoohan was an Irishman living in England trying to sound like an American spy trying to sound British!
But that doesn't matter... his tuxedos make up for that... ;-)
Danger Man: The Blue Veil (1960)
Our first look at the drunk Drake character
This is one of the better early episodes, with McGoohan playing his drunken rouge character. While the plot is so-so, it is fun to watch him stumble around knowing he's really watching every little thing the other characters are doing. And ladies, lots of shots of those baby-blues!
Danger Man: The Galloping Major (1964)
Very weak episode
Unless you have interest in 1960s African politics, this is a very weak episode. Drake's purpose in being there is rather vague, the plot is rather dull, the finale is a let-down. McGoohan looks nice in his military garb, but that is about all that makes this episode worth watching. OH, and NO the actor who plays the corrupt colonel is NOT the boss from "Death in Paradise". I had to check on that one!
The Three Lives of Thomasina (1963)
A Pleasant Surprise to this Disney Hater!
First and foremost, let me confess to you all I am NOT a Disney fan. Just about the only Disney films I can stand are the 1940s cartoon shorts. I also dislike most children's films.
The only reason I decided to watch this film was to see Patrick McGoohan, who I recently rediscovered and have a new-found appreciation of.
Last night I watched the film on an outdated tablet, in bed, via You Tube, with a spotty connection. I expected to skip most scenes... but I didn't.
I am pleased to confess something else... I liked this movie! I was pleasantly surprised that the dialog was mostly very good, especially for the kids in the cast, who were actually fun to watch. They were funny with just enough cute mixed in. Excellent casting, and great acting from the gang of youngsters.
I was expecting a sappy love story, or a doting father trying to make his daughter happy after she looses her cat. But that isn't what we get. More on that later...
There actually isn't as much "cat" in the story as you'd expect, which actually works out fine. There are other animals featured, including of all things a badger.
Susan Hampshire was good in her role as Lori, but I wasn't thrilled with that type of character. I am a woman who feels that females slow down plots, etc (I know, I'm weird). But the plot needed someone like her and she fits the bill.
Karen Dotrice plays Mary, the young daughter of newly arrived veterinarian Andrew McDhui (McGoohan). Thomasina the cat means the world to her.
Without getting too far into the realm of spoilers, Thomasina gets hurt and Mary and her friends interrupt her father while he is trying to save a blind man's dog, begging for him to save the cat. But the cat is too far gone, and is put down.
Here's where things get dark.
Mary is heartbroken over the loss of her cat, which is understandable. But in her grief, she puts all blame on her father and declares him dead as well, and refuses to acknowledge him in any way. He loves his daughter, but doesn't seem to know how to deal with her after Thomasina's death. Every time he tries to communicate with Mary, he is spurned, and doesn't take it well. He is obviously an unhappy man, very private and still having issues with his wife's death. He seems to be all business as a way to cope.
Being a Disney flick, this is where the woman meets the man and things are supposed to get better for everyone. I was glad to see there was no sappy falling in love tripe. It is inferred, but not wasted on film. What would you show anyway? Andrew is not the type of man who would display affection at the drop of a hat (just like with most of McGoohan's other roles).
Everything works out in the end, which seems rather rushed. More should have been made of Andrew at Mary's bedside. More should have been explained about Thomasina's "second life". It almost feels like the last ¼ of the film had a different writer.
So all in all, a well made and acted film. But I would NOT let kids watch it. I don't think it makes a good kids movie at all! Then again, perhaps it would be a good way for parents to bring up certain topics; the effect of death on different people, the effects of gossip, life priorities, etc.
Lastly, did I enjoy adding this film to my McGoohan Discovery Binge? Yup. I thoroughly enjoyed just looking at him. I even put up with the Scottish accent (he was born in America, raised in Ireland, acted in England, then moved to the USA in the 1970s). He plays his character as perhaps a bit too serious, too grumpy, but once the film is over, you realize that he couldn't play it any other way. Andrew is really a lost soul. And McGoohan makes you feel it.
A Must for Fans of "The Prisoner"
I thought this was a strange episode until I saw the credits... and the name Patrick McGoohan.
A little research explained the strangeness. The Island is a take-off of the cult TV show "The Prisoner", with McGoohan. And wouldn't you know it, an obscure cable station was airing that very show! Viewing ensued...
I now understand every reference this episode makes. BUT, if you have never seen "The Prisoner", you will be VERY clueless. (Incidentally, there were no flamingos in the original, not sure where those are from UNLESS maybe Fantasy Island?)
As far as I know, this was the last role that McGoohan took, and I find it interesting that a man who shunned the press and seemed to want to keep his show's secrets secret, would lend his voice to his famous alter-ego once more, in cartoon form! I only wish he had been given more lines...
Danger Man: The Man on the Beach (1965)
A "beautiful" episode with dramatic ending
Without giving any real spoilers, this is a good episode with lots of Patrick McGoohan in casual-wear, tons of tobacco and alcohol, some paid-for information, and some real danger near the end.
Of note, Drake gains the attention of a young woman who thinks he is "beautiful". He humors her, but he knows better than to get too involved. Modern audiences must find his behavior odd. Personally, I am a woman who thinks women slow down plots, so I welcome the coldness Drake usually gives to them!
But seriously, McGoohan does a good job in this one, especially in the last 1/4 or so. And the ladies out there can decide for themselves if he was indeed "beautiful".
By the way, you may want to open a window while watching this one if you don't want to become victim to second-hand smoke!
Danger Man: The Man with the Foot (1966)
Lighthearted episode and yes, there is a "foot"
Patrick McGoohan has to "cool off" after a botched mission. He heads to Spain, off season, to meet up with a friend who is tagging wolves for study.
There is no real "danger" to Danger Man this time around, though we are lead to believe there is. Drake is more of a subject than a character, as a counterpart of his feels he must spy on him. There's a car chase, a misunderstanding pertaining to a firearm, and yes, a "foot".
Lighthearted episode, with an ending that I feel could have been wrapped up better.
Straight ahead Cold War plot, nothing earth shattering
I only recently began watching episodes of "Danger Man", aka "Secret Agent". I have liked Patrick McGoohan for years, but only now have had the opportunity to see his TV shows.
I personally feel it is a bit unfair to rate single episodes of any series, only because everyone likes different things in a TV show. I am a woman who hates it when women are part of the plot! I'm also not big on "international intrigue". Especially during the Cold War... what a depressing time that must have been!
This episode has that dreary Cold War feel. It is more of a straight-ahead story, with no real tidbits to make you chuckle, or wonder how they made a certain prop, etc.
Danger Man: Bury the Dead (1960)
Some Familiar Faces
Patrick McGoohan... Robert Shaw... Beverly Garland... even Patrick Troughton... what a cast! Too bad the script is a bit lacking... Still, a decent episode where we get to hear McGoohan's American AND British accents (he was born in the US to Irish parents, but moved back to Ireland, then Britain when he was young).
Ice Station Zebra (1968)
McGoohan Steals the Show
After discovering the TV series "The Prisoner" with Patrick McGoohan, I decided to give this film a try. I had heard the title mentioned for years, but had no clue what it was about.
The overall look of the film was rather impressive. I appreciated most of the technical aspects. You really feel like you would NOT want to be stationed on(in?) a submarine! The special effects weren't bad for 1968.
When you have Borgnine and Jim Brown in a movie, you automatically think in terms of "The Dirty Dozen". They both did better in that film...
I have never been at all impressed with Rock Hudson, and found his acting to be rather wooden here. He does a good job with the regulation "sub speak", but, for example, in the post-flooding scene with McGoohan, he is very obviously not as impressive an actor as the Englishman (ok ok, McGoohan was born in the US to Irish parents, but they moved to Europe as a young child).
In fact, I feel McGoohan steals the movie. He had to take time off from "The Prisoner" to make Zebra, and the two characters are very similar, so this film may have been a cake-walk for him... just speak a bit more and trade in a black & white blazer for a warm parka!
If you like submarines, spies, and mild action, you should like Zebra.
Possibly Better Than the "Famous" Version
I watched this 1940 version of Gaslight last night and I have to say, it may possibly be better than the better known 1944 version.
Many of the scenes are VERY similar, if not exactly the same, especially when Bella finds the "missing picture".
Anton Walbrook is very good as the reserved (usually) evil husband, and pretty Diana Wynyard is also very good as the innocent wife being "gaslit". Walbrook pulls off the "subtle evil" better than Boyer did in 1944. Cathleen Cordell is easier to take as the naughty maid than Angela Lansbury, but only because so many of us think of her as Mrs. Fletcher.
If you liked the 1944 Gaslight, you have to give this earlier, less "Hollywood" (I like Joseph Cotten but why would an American be in this story?) feeling version a chance.
Not as bad as everyone makes out...
This is one of those old films that modern audiences have "issues" with. Thing is, contemporary audiences did as well! Period trade magazine reviews stated in no uncertain terms the use of actual circus freaks was an abomination to decency. Some had issue with the plot alone, regardless of cast (cheating a dwarf of his money by marrying him, then humiliating him and trying to kill him off).
Now, I understand all of this. I understand why people thought it was awful to exploit people who now would today be considered either severely handicapped, or at least visually "different". But, in my humble opinion, I smell a hint of hypocrisy from the critics of this film.
Would the period film critics have taken these "freaks" into their homes? I think not, hence some of the hypocrisy. As far as today's critics, they are shocked at this film but ultra-violence, rape, hardcore sex, and the rest... all of that is a-ok in a modern film. Hypocrisy.
Many of the "freaks" in this film were of the top of the heap, well known. They weren't exactly living in squalor, whipped and abused like so many others stuck in fly-by-night carnivals (the Elephant Man comes to mind). None of them look like they didn't want to be in the film. In fact, other than in a couple of short scenes, the freaks actually are made to be "of better stuff" than the "normals". It is easy as a viewer to side with the freaks.
If these freaks were not working for big name circuses like Barnum & Bailey or the Ringling's, they would most likely be either dead, in a mental institution, or living in absolute squalor, abused and neglected. While still not ideal, working for a large outfit gave them a purpose and income. Did people ogle and scream and laugh at them? Sure... but they had a place to live and people to help care for them. They had a home.
No doubt some of the original anger at the film was due to scenes which were cut and now missing. They appear to have shown the freaks in a pretty bad way, inflicting violence on the "normals" in revenge of their treatment of Hans (Harry Earles). The existing cut implies violence at their hands more than shows it. If those original scenes were still in the film, I'd understand more the issues the original reviewers had.
But as we see the film now, YES it is strange... YES it could be seen as low class... but it is decently acted, decently shot, and isn't nearly as bad as today's PC world thinks. Of course, that is just one person's opinion, and I can be way off base on this one.
The Dream Team (1989)
A Lighthearted 1980s Flick
I watched this movie for the second time last night, the first being, most likely, in the early 1990s.
In short, this is a nice, light, funny movie, safe for kids other than a few swears here and there (and Peter Boyle's bare backside). Each actor does a good job being "nuts". Michael Keaton is trying to overcome his anger issues, Peter Boyle thinks he is Jesus, Christopher Lloyd thinks he is a doctor and is also a control freak, and Stephen Furst only speaks in quotes and slogans. Their psychiatrist Dennis Boutsikaris is a typical 1980s yuppie type with glasses, beard and long hair, but comes across as a pleasant guy that deserves to be found once "lost" (I won't get into spoilers).
The Falcon in San Francisco (1945)
One of the better Falcon entries
I found this installment in the Falcon series to be rather fun, thanks to Edward Brophy. Sure, it still has that lower budget matinee feel, but Tom Conway is still suave, and Sharyn Moffett is fun as the little girl.
Not the happiest of films...
The series really starts getting dark now... Harry is "touchy", loosing his temper and not knowing why (hey, he's a teen!). Dolores Umbridge is highly disturbing, which means Imelda Staunton did a good job with the character. But the feeling of the film is depressing...
If you like bad guys, there are lots of them in this one. Even Robert Hardy's Fudge character is a meany this time. I don't know why Hardy's scenes were always so short, you only got a whiff of him. A bit more Snape in this one. Mark William's hairpiece is awful this go-around, not sure what's up with that one!
The loss of the fun and mystical sets adds to the depressing feel of the film. And we haven't even got to the REALLY depressing parts of the Potter timeline yet!
Not the best installment of the series...
I found this installment of the Potter series hard to follow, and frankly, dull and boring. The "extra" characters from other schools dilute the "feel" of the film. It departs too far from the magic as it pertains to Harry Potter's life and destiny, and relies too much on special effects.
Also, not enough Snape ;-)
Since the kids are getting older, they have to be given boys and girls to fall for, which turns me right off, as such storylines always slow down films. (I'm a female who HATES chick flicks)... and that is exactly what happens.
Not as strong as the first two installments
Potter film #3 starts to get a bit dark. The plot isn't as riveting, the kids aren't as "cute", and the special effects start to get too "digital". And the magic isn't as plausible.
As a fan of Robert Hardy, it was nice to see him as Fudge, even if his role was minor at this point. We knew Mark Williams from the "Father Brown" series, and liked him in his red hair! And I think I prefer Gambon as Dumbledore.
So while not as strong as the first two films, not as depressing as the ones that follow.