Newsday TV Book Reviews

Medium Fun and Games: The Newsday Reviews of John Cashman

"Thanks for this! I grew up reading Newsday and remember Cashman's byline. Nice tribute!" -Shawn Levy, film critic (The Oregonian)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

REVIEWS: A-F

Across the Wide Missouri (1951) "Clark Gable blazes a trail west from St. Louis. It's a slow burn."

The Adventures of Hajji Baba (1954) "Minor fun."

The Adventure of Tortuga (1964) "Pirates and stuff and a bomb."

Air Raid Wardens (1943) "Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy don't exactly go to war, but it's a battle. Not vintage L & H, but it does have Edgar Kennedy."

Alaska Seas (1954) "Fishing and canning in Alaska, with Robert Ryan and Brian Keith vying for the salmon and Jan Sterling. The salmon are pretty."

Alphaville (1965) "Jean-Luc Godard on an off day. A private eye, electronic brains and a planetary visitor. Confused."

The Amazing Colossal Man (1957) "An explosion mucks up this army officer and throws off his metabolism so that he grows and grows and grows. In the bargain, he goes walnuts. Amazing isn't the word."

The Amazing Dr. G (1965) "Somebody is out to turn top government leaders into robots, which isn't a bad idea. Making the film was."

Amityville II: The Possession (1982) [given a one star rating] "If you live in Amityville, delete the star."

Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders (1965) "An attempt at a female 'Tom Jones' that doesn't quite make it because Kim Novak is no Albert Finney. Everyone else is fine, wenches, scoundrels and rakes alike. Give it a try, but be aware that it's long."

Angels Wash Their Faces (1939) "The title has nothing to do with the picture, but 'Angels with Dirty Faces' did so well the year before, Warners figured it had a hot title. So much for art."

Apache Drums (1951) "The townspeople don't like to have this gambler around except when the Mescalero Apaches are attacking. Root for the Mescaleros."

Apache Trail (1972) "When somebody steals their ceremonial pipe, the Apaches get ticked off. About ten minutes into the film, you will, too."

Apache Uprising (1966) "Rory Calhoun flutters his eyelashes a lot. So does Corinne Calvet. The Indians look stoned."

The Apple (1980) "Futuristic rock fantasy/martial arts film. A little bit of everything done badly."

Assault on a Queen (1966) "Even Frank Sinatra doesn't keep it from becoming an assault on your senses."

The Atomic Brain (1964) "About a brain transplant. It was formerly titled 'Monstrosity.' And it is."

The Atomic Submarine (1959) "An underwater flying saucer is eating submarines in the Arctic, which is about as exciting as a bowl of cold gruel."

Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958) "A giantess from a satellite causes her victims to grow to giant size. Better laugh it off." [Second version] "From the astral outback comes a bite that causes a woman to grow to inordinate heights in a film that plumbs new depths of dumbness."

Attack of the Mayan Mummy (1963) "Not to be confused with the attacks of the puppet people, mushroom people, crab monsters or giant leeches. Quit while you're ahead."

Bachelor Flat (1962) "Dizzy and mild."

Back From the Dead (1957) "Spirit possession and other deadly stuff. Bury it."

The Bad Seed (1956) Bad genetics, but a good show. Patty McCormack is properly menacing in the title role as an evil little girl. Stagey in parts, especially the final bows."

Bataan (1943) "Weirdly nostalgic."

Bathing Beauty (1944) "Red Skelton, a loser in love, enrolls at a girls' school. Esther Williams is the swimming teacher. What more do you need to know? Xavier Cugat and his dog and an embarrassed Basil Rathbone."

Battle at Bloody Beach (1961) "You find something else to watch."

Battle Circus (1953) "Love and gore, nothing more."

Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973) "Pierre Boulle is still shaking his head in disbelief."

Battle of the Worlds (1961) " A sad twilight for Claude Rains."

Beach Ball (1965) "Girls in bathing suits, rock musicians, surfing, sand and girls in bathing suits. Very healthy cast, very sick script."

Beast From the Haunted Cave (1959) Take some gangsters, mix well with a legendary beast, throw in a blizzard to spice it up, then watch it all jell into cold pablum."

Beat Generation (1959) "A mishmash of bad lines, situations and performances sprinkled with music. Jack Kerouac would retch."

The Beginning of the End (1957) "[With] Peter Graves. Would you believe, a small town is mysteriously wiped out by giant grasshoppers eight feet tall? How's that for a mission impossible."

Belle le Grand (1951) "Lady gambler and her boyfriend and le stupid. Vera Hruba Ralston is not pretty."

The Bells of St. Mary's (1945) "Smiles and tears, the works."

Be My Guest (1963) "English and noisy."

Ben (1972) "With Willard out of the way, little Ben gets his own film. Rats."

Bengazi (1955) [from a 4:15 am listing] "Go to sleep."

Berlin Correspondent (1942) "Flag waver as an early Dana Andrews (he plays the title) helps a couple of nice persons escape the Nazis. Also starring Virginia Gilmore and, of course, Martin Kosleck."

Berserk (1968) "This circus features a maniacal killer, healthy Ty Hardin, sexy Diana Dors and Joan Crawford, who at 60 plus still had great legs."

Best Foot Forward (1943) "...including a stirring version of the unforgettable ''Buckle Down Winsockie.' Youthful vigor buoys any slack."

Better a Widow (1969) "The original mafia operating on its home grounds on behalf of the peasants. It's enough to send Mario Puzo up a wall."

Beyond Mombasa (1957) "Cornel Wilde does his muscular best to save this flaccid tale."

The Big Beat (1958) "A square recording executive brings his jazzed-up son into the business and together they beat the film to death."

The Big Sleep (1946) "Watch for Bogart's hat-turned-up imitation of a bookworm."

Billy Jack (1971) "A violent paean to non-violence that mixes Indians, free schools and might-as-right into intriguing simple-mindedness. Great movie for one-dimensional heads."

Billy the Kid vs. Dracula (1966) "From the folks who brought you 'Pancho Villa Meets Godzilla.'"

Black Like Me (1964) "It has absolutely nothing to say and says that badly."

Black Patch (1957) "Aaaarrgghh!"

Black Sunday (1961) "One day each century, Satan comes to life and mucks things up. This is one of those days."

Blast of Silence (1961) "Professional gunman in New York City to lean on a racketeer. Title sums it up."

The Blob (1958) "An interesting monster is on the loose, but this time a bunch of teenagers, not scientists, must save the world. Not bad--if you're a teenager or interested in watching Steve McQueen learn his trade."

Blondie Knows Best (1947) "Of course she does. Dagwood blows his job again and winds up taking truth serum. Dagwood's a boob."

Blood Alley (1955) "John Wayne vs. the Chinese Commies on their home turf. He's beautiful. Treats them just like Indians."

Blood and Black Lace (1965) "A gory Italian-made mystery that confuses cheap shock with entertainment. Some of the blood and stuff will be cut and that will leave nothing."

Blood on the Arrow (1964) "If you don't think an attempt to rescue a small child from a band of Apaches can be dull, try this."

Blue Hawaii (1962) "A mixed blessing for the Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce."

The Blue Lagoon (1980) "Extraordinarily lovely to look at, appalling to listen to."

Boeing, Boeing (1965) "Christine Schmidtmeir is a large woman."

Bomb at 10:10 (1967) "Never was a title more explicit."

The Bottom of the Bottle (1956) "A baddie."

Boy on a Dolphin (1957) "[Sophia] Loren and the Greek islands are a feast for the eyes. The story and Alan Ladd are a drag."

The Brain From Planet Arous (1958) "A being floats in outer space, which is the signal for everybody to float off to another channel. Strictly for the brainless."

Brainstorm (1965) "It plays." [Familiar Cashman non-endorsement]

The Brain That Wouldn't Die (1963) "Oh, wow."

Break in the Circle (1957) "A boat owner gets involved with a large red herring."

Broken Arrow (1950) "Just a sensational guy, this Cochise."

The Brotherhood (1968) "As a movie, it plays. As philosophy, it stinks."

Brushfire (1962) "A cliche a minute."

Buck Benny Rides Again (1940) "Jack Benny carries a radio characterization and his radio gang (Phil Harris, Dennis Day, Rochester) into a movie that would be better heard than seen."

Buffalo Bill (1966) "Gordon Scott rides the Sicilian west and finds bisons or whatever they call them over there."

A Bullet For Sandoval (1970) "A rent-money outing for Ernest Borgnine."

Bullets Don't Argue (1965) "Good and bad bank robbers, an understanding sheriff and all the excitement of cold oatmeal."

The Burning Hills (1956) "His brother already dead, a man hides from the killers with the help of a halfbreed girl. Also needing help, but not getting it, are the director, script writer and the actors."

The Butterfly Affair (1971) "Henri 'Papillion' Charriere in his first and only screen appearance."

By the Light of the Silvery Moon (1953) Wholesome and dated family fun with Doris Day and Gordon MacRae who just happen to sing all around the house and outdoors, just like everyone else."

Cairo (1963) "George Sanders, Richard Johnson and that old favorite, Faten Hamama."

Calamity Jane (1953) "How Calamity won the heart of Wild Bill Hickok. You've got to wonder about those two."

California (1961) "In the fight to free California from Mexico, it is brother against half-brother. Root for the Mexicans."

California Passage (1950) "A horse opera to sleep by. [With] Vera Hruba Ralston's stand-in, Adele Mara."

Call Him Mr. Shatter (1975) "Call him anything you like."

Call of the Wild (1935) "It's about gold, the Klondike, a dog race and other mush."

Camille 2000 (1980) "A rotten movie."

The Candy Man (1968) "LSD and kidnaping, involving show biz and other strange persons down Mexico way. Why is George Sanders in this movie?"

Cannibal Attack (1954) "The only way this quickie could have been saved would be for the cannibals to have eaten Jungle Jim behind the title credits."

Caprice (1967) "Cosmetics, dope, Doris Day, Richard Harris and other frivolities."

Captain Falcon (1964) "An Italian Robin Hood saves 13th Century Italy from a wicked baron... As you recall we last saw Captain Falcon hanging by his teeth from a fern at the cliff's edge. In this week's chapter..."

Captain Nemo and the Underwater City (1970) "Basic seaweed. Children might like it. Jules Verne wouldn't."

Captain Pirate (1953) "Errol Flynn couldn't have saved this one, and Louis Hayward is no Errol Flynn."

Carrie (1952) "Nice line outside the soup kitchen."

Casablanca (1943) "This is it. The Humphrey Bogart legend defined. He's Rick and he owns a gambling joint, into which comes an old girlfriend (Ingrid Bergman), her underground hero husband (Paul Henreid) and other assorted characters (Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet, Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt). Dooley Wilson fakes the piano (Elliot Carpenter plays it) and sings 'As Time Goes By.' Beautiful job all around. A must see. Oscars for best picture, direction and screenplay."

The Castilian (1963) "Spanish made and ragged, with an American cast picking up some fast pesetas."

Castle on the Hudson (1940) "Try it, but not for its simple-minded penology."

The Cat Creeps (1946) "And so does everything else in this fizzle about a murdered girl's soul now occupying a cat. Even Douglas Dumbrille can't save it."

Chain Lightning (1950) "Not one of Humphrey Bogart's finer moments."

Charge at Feather River (1953) "Watch for things coming at the camera because this is another 3-D flick gone straight to dullsville. Cavalry and Indians this time. Vera Miles is pretty."

China (1943) "Alan Ladd is a profiteer working China early in WWII when his conscience gets the better of him. So he slaughters some Japanese to make amends. It has not aged well."

China Clipper (1936) "Old story, old planes. Add a star if you're into reverie."

Chisum (1970) "This is a John Wayne movie. It was directed by Andrew McLaglen, the poor man's John Ford. That's all you need to know. Add a star if John Wayne makes you feel secure."

A Christmas Carol (1951) "The film, as the story, carries its own benedictions. Happy Christmas to all."

Circus World (1964) "If you've seen one circus film, you've seen them all. This one ends with a fire. If you've seen one circus fire, you've seen them all."

Cobra Woman (1943) "Maria Montez and good ole Sabu save the day."

Code of Scotland Yard (1948) "An antique dealer formerly spent some time on Devil's Island, from whence he escaped. British and slow."

Code 7, Victim 5 (1964) "In this one, the butler didn't do it, he got it done to him. How about that, mystery fans?"

The College Girl Murders (1968) "Stiffs galore, including the film. Joachim Fuchsberger, Uschi Glass and other old favorites."

The Colossus of New York (1958) "A brain surgeon transplants his dead scientist son's brain into the head of a nine-foot 480 pound automaton. Brainless."

The Colosseus of Rhodes (1954) "It's 300 B.C. and the Phoenicians are coming. Nothing."

Column South (1957) "The titles change but the story of the Union officers and the Indians never does."

Confessions of a Nazi Spy (1939) "[with] a quick early look at Jackie Gleason."

The Cool Ones (1967) "[With] that professional audience person, Mrs. Miller."

Corruption (1969) "Peter Cushing is a plastic surgeon this time, but he's as weird as ever. He develops a new technique for treating scars, which, of course, requires bodies. Of course."

Corvette K-225 (1943) "On convoy duty in WWII. Add a star if actual war footage turns you on."

Countess Dracula (1972) " The Countess not only drinks blood, she bathes in it. It flows along."

Creation of the Humanoids (1962) "Atom blast creates war for survival between humans and robots called 'clickers,' who become humanistic through transfusions. Nothing much clicks in this clinker."

Creature From the Haunted Sea (1961) "A mobster creates a fake monster, then what should happen but there appears a real monster. Laugh along with the mobster, the mobster's monster and the monster monster."

Creatures of Destruction (1968) "A hypnotist seems to have mystic powers. There is no doubt that he can put you to sleep."

The Curse of Bigfoot (1972) "He's big, but not good."

The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) "The Baron is doing his needlepoint again and dropping the same stitches, which allows Christopher Lee to run amuck."

Curse of Nostradamus (1960) "Bet you didn't know Nostradamus was a vampire. That's what it says here, badly."

Curse of the Swamp Creature (1966) "A mad doctor is out to cross a man with a lizard. It is to laugh."

Curse of the Undead (1956) "Vampires go west in this attempt at a horror western. It is successful in that it is horrible."

Curucu, Beast of the Amazon (1956) "Something is killing the natives. It is rumored they died laughing."

Daughter of Dr. Jekyll (1957) "Tainted bloody bore."

Day of the Triffids (1963) "A kind of Euell Gibbons nightmare..."

Dead Man's Eyes (1944) "Lon Chaney Jr. struggles with the load."

Death Curse of Tartu (1966) "From out of the Aztec ruins comes the legendary Gor. Is it animal or is it human? Or is it both? With any luck at all, you will never know. Edge-of-the-chair suspense in this #$%*& tale..."

Death Race 2000 (1975) "Strictly for popsicle suckers."

Death Valley (1982) "Sunbelt psycho stalks Manhattan moppet of separated parents---'Kramer vs. Creeper.'"

The Demon Planet (1965) "Strange happenings on the planet Aura that must be placed high on your must miss list."

Desert Detour (1958) "Death duel in the desert, under the sun. The hot sun. The hot, hot sun."

Desert Legion (1953) "Alan Ladd is a French Legionnaire. Richard Conte is a bad sheik. If you can buy that casting, watch it. Akim Tamiroff supplies the acting. Arlene Dahl is pretty."

The Desperados (1969) "The Galt boys are crazy in one way or another. Dad is a madman and Mom is a ghost. Everybody gets it in the end. A mean film of tragic revenge for mental health researchers."

Destination Fury (1963) "It's silly, it's dubbed and stars somebody named Dorian Grey. That's three strikes in any league."

Destroyer (1943) "Edward G. Robinson is an old salt. Glenn Ford is a new salt. Marguerite Chapman is the old salt's daughter, who is in love with the new salt. It's salty."

Diary of a Madman (1963) "Good for demon freaks and other weirdos."

Did You Hear the One About the Traveling Saleslady? (1968) "If they mean this one, anybody who hasn't, shouldn't. Phyllis Diller plays the title role."

Dirty Larry, Crazy Mary (1974) "It will leave you numb with disbelief."

Doctor X (1932) "It's been done a hundred times and this early effort is the equal of the other 99. Just try to ignore the then-standard 'comic relief.'"

Doctor, You've Got to Be Kidding! (1967) "The doctor and everybody else in this excruciatingly cutesy tale of a young secretary who is after a career in the old show biz. A healthy cast is swamped by the blandness. Sandra Dee, George Hamilton (complete with lighthouse teeth)."

Don't Forget to Wipe the Blood Off (1966) "Remember to miss it."

Don't Knock the Twist (1966) "Just forget it."

Don't Make Waves (1967) "Well-built boys and girls, including Claudia Cardinale and Sharon Tate, and Tony Curtis trying to arrange bed and board. Tight and sitthoughable."

Doomwatch (1972) "...one of the last outings for George Sanders."

Double Trouble (1967) "Only Colonel Parker could sit through this."

Dracula Has Risen From the Grave (1969) "Christopher Lee is properly creepy as Transylvania's leading citizen, but Bela he's not."

Dr. Blood's Coffin (1961) "Can a weird scientist be far behind? No, he can't."

Dr. Cyclops (1940) "Albert Dekker is a myopic doctor in the wilds of Peru who has learned how to shrink humans to doll size for science and fun. Fondly remembered by the over-40 crowd."

Dr. Who and the Daleks (1966) "A paste-up of a BBC-TV serial that has something of a camp following. If you don't know from Daleks and Thals, forget it."

Drums (1938) "The English film's title was 'The Drum,' which makes sense. In this country, they changed it to 'Drums,' which doesn't."

Duffy's Tavern (1945) "This is a really dumb picture about the old radio show cast trying to save the tavern, but it's interesting for the guest shots by Paramount's big guns at the time, from Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake to Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour. For buffs and nostalgia addicts only."

The Eagle Has Landed (1977) "...an overstuffed and under-cooked turkey."

Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956) "Buy the premise, buy the flick." [A favorite Cashman caveat]

Elephant Walk (1954) "Elizabeth Taylor stars, but that's Vivien Leigh in some of the long shots before she got sick and had to be replaced."

The Elusive Corporal (1962) "Still another escape from a German POW camp. This one is more camp than escape."

Embryo (1976) "The movie is so bad it hurts."

Emergency Squad (1940) "If you can picture Brenda Starr working with Dick Tracy to knock off a crime syndicate, you win your black orchid for watching this one."

Enter the Devil (1971) "Hail, Satan---and let you-know-who take the hindmost."

Equinox (1969) "An archeologist is missing and up jumps the devil. In California, of course."

The Evil of Frankenstein (1964) "It limps along."

Face of Marble (1946) "A mad doctor tries to bring the dead back to life. Would that the director could have performed the same miracle."

Fair Wind to Java (1952) "Vera Hruba Ralston is not pretty." [Mentioned in every review of a movie with her]

Fall of the Roman Empire (1964) "This inept spectacle led to the fall of the movie empire of producer Samuel Bronston."

The Fallen Sparrow (1943) "The limping man is up to no good."

The Family (1973) "It's pure lasagna."

Fangs of the Living Dead (1969) "You watch something with a title like this, you get what you deserve."

The Far Horizons (1955) "Fred MacMurray and Charlton Heston snap jaw muscles at each other in this very loose Hollywood version of the Lewis-Clark Expedition. Bad history aside, it plays."

The Fat Man (1951) "Fatty J. Scott Smart recreates his role in the old radio series to find out why a dentist was murdered. An early Rock Hudson wanders through. Lightweight except for Smart."

Female on the Beach (1955) "Joan Crawford square shoulders her way through another offshoot of 'Suspicion,' while Jeff Chandler square-jaws around acting strange."

Fiend Without a Face (1958) "Deadly brain monsters start a reign of terror near a U.S. Air Force radar station in Canada. Brainless."

Fighter Attack (1953) "Flashbacks to WW II and who cares."

The Firefly (1937) "...the answer to the trivia question about where and when Allan Jones first sang 'Donkey Serenade.'"

A Fistful of Dollars (1966) "Clop-clop, grunt-grunt, boom-boom."

Five Golden Dragons (1968) "A drug cartel run by five masked men is broken up by a reporter who lucks into the story while in Hong Kong. Ah, those movie reporters."

Follow That Dream (1962) "A family squats on some unclaimed Florida land, which supplies five song cues for Elvis Presley and some inane down-home dialogue."

Footsteps in the Fog (1955) "A widowed murderer and a blackmailing Cockney maid square off in Victorian England and almost talk each other to death."

The Foreman Went to France (1941) "And so he does, to keep a certain secret piece of equipment from falling into Nazi hands. Early WWII and British."

The Forest Rangers (1942) " Give it a yawn and a half."

Four Guns to the Border (1945) "An ex-gunslinger going straight, a band of outlaws, the ex-gunslinger's daughter, a bank robbery, an indian attack, assorted gunplay, and a mild morality lesson to round things off. In other words, another routine western."

Frankenstein (1931) "It's about this baron who builds things."

Frankenstein Conquers the World (1966) "Nick Adams is spliced into a Japanese quickie and you won't notice because with any luck you won't be watching."

Frankenstein Created Woman (1967) "The Baron gets blamed for everything. Wait for The Bride of Frankenstein for the real story."

Frankenstein's Bloody Terror (1971) "And a bloody bore to boot."

Frankenstein's Daughter (1959) "Suffice to say that she's a monster."

Frankie and Johnny (1966) "[With] Elvis Presley. Watch him wiggle on a Mississippi riverboat."

The French Line (1954) "Shot in 3-D, which means you should watch for things coming at the camera--if you watch it at all."

From Istanbul, Orders to Kill (1965) "The old look-a-like-taking-place-of-gangster gambit. The orders to kill should have included the film."

Fun in Acapulco (1963) "For Elvis Presley, perhaps, but it's not contagious. Romance, songs, sand, surf, sun and about 14 blinding sets of capped teeth."

Fun with Dick and Jane (1977) "See Dick lose his job. See Jane worry. See Dick and Jane turn to crime. The crime is fun. Dick and Jane are screwballs. George Segal is Dick. Jane Fonda is Jane. Ed McMahon is Charlie. See Charlie drink."


The Fury of the Wolfman (1973) "On bringing out the beast in man, which, in this case, is a drag."

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