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)

Monday, May 21, 2007

REVIEWS: O-S

Octaman (1972) "Are you ready for a mutant squid? Or how about an octopus that walks like a man? An angry herring?"

On an Island with You (1948) "If Esther Williams in a bathing suit turns you on, this is your film."

One Foot in Heaven (1941) "If this story of the trials and tribulations of a minister and his wife doesn't warm your heart, you're dead."

One Million B.C. (1940) "The struggle of cavemen to survive during prehistoric times. Different."

One Step to Hell (1968) "It is."

Operation Diplomatic Passport (1961) "To protect her diplomat father, a woman becomes a double agent. To protect yourself, turn it off."

Oregon Passage (1959) "A do-gooder cavalryman inadvertently does bad by the Shoshone tribe. The Shoshone know bad when they see it."

Our Men in Bagdad (1967) "Counterespionage in the Middle East and the biggest mystery is why they bothered."

Our Very Own (1950) "Ann Blyth accidentally discovers she's adopted, which causes a few interesting and many not so interesting problems."

The Outer Space Connection (1974) " More 'Chariots of the Gods?' nonsense designed to make you wonder if Earth wasn't founded by space travelers. All questions and no answers, which is an easy game to play."

Outpost in Indochina (1961) "Relax and watch the French attempt to hold their own in Vietnam. They didn't do any better than us." [From a 1972 guide]

Pajama Party (1968) "It's so dumb, it's funny."

Pancho Villa (1972) "Bet you didn't know the title once invaded the United States. He did---it says here. Not well, but positively."

Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (1952) "For the love of a woman, James Mason is condemned to sail the seas forever. There's no future in that until along comes Ava Gardner. They talk a lot. There's no future in that, either."

Panic in Year Zero (1962) "Ray Milland is star and director of this interesting, if sometimes outlandish, tale of family survival after the bomb. Milland's greatest feat is not letting Frankie Avalon ruin things."

Paranoiac (1963) "A tepid English brew."

Pariahs of Glory (1964) "Whoever translated the title should be shot."

Paris Does Strange Things (1957) Ingrid Bergman in a period piece about a Polish princess involved in love and war. A dozen Polish jokes come to mind, all bad. Jean Renoir, way off his form, directed."

Passage West (1951) "There are bullwhips for the sadists."

Passion (1954) "In Old California, a young man avenges his murdered family. Cornel Wilde is properly ticked off, but passionate, no. Yvonne DeCarlo is always passionate, even when there's no reason, like here."

Phantom From 10,000 Leagues (1956) "An early radiation-will-screw-up-the-world entry that makes you wish it did, starting with people who make dumb movies about radiation."

The Pharoah's Woman (1961) "An Egyptian prince fights for love and empire. Where is George Zucco now that we need him?"

Picnic at Hanging Rock (1979) "...exquisitely photographed, excruciatingly boring metaphysical mystery."

Pin-Up Girl (1944) It's about a sailor and his girl, but it's really about what Betty Grable has that's worth pinning up. No plot, no songs worth remembering, no fun."

A Place For Lovers (1969) "Marcello Mastroianni has trouble with his English, Vittorio De Sica has trouble with his material and Faye Dunaway just has trouble in this visually good, emotionally trashy soap opera. The hopeless love wrings about half a handkerchief."

Planets Against Us (1961) "The ultimate in paranoia and a bummer."

Play it Cool (1963) "A young heiress finds out about some unpleasantness concerning her singer boyfriend. With any luck at all, you'll be watching something else by then."

The Plunderers (1960) "Average turmoil."

Portrait in Black (1960) Lana Turner changes clothes with the speed of light, Anthony Quinn agonizes over lust and medical ethics and Ross Hunter buries it all in heavy cream. It's murder."

Princess of the Nile (1954) "13th Century Egypt takes a beating in this mummified story of love and power."

Prisoner of the Iron Mask (1960) "The son of a duke is captured and held in an iron mask. Would that it was an iron maiden."

Prison Farm (1938) "Preserving this one was a waste of mothballs."

Prudence and the Pill (1968) "This is the story of Gerald and Prudence Hardcastle and how they switched birth control pills and partners. Gerald and Prudence Hardcastle are nauseating."

The Purple Mask (1955) "[Tony Curtis] is undoubtedly the fastest sword in the East Bronx."

Queen of the Pirates (1961) "No man would cross swords with her. Oh, wow."

The Racetrack Murders (1954) "The race is fixed. The film isn't."

Racing Fever (1964) "This one gets off and running on a bad startand equally bad finish as a hydro-plane racer rescues a playboy who almost killed his father. See, I told you."

Rainbow Island (1944) "Medium fun and games."

Ramrod (1947) "Ranching and other relative stuff that Joel McCrea always makes better than it actually is. Unfortunately, Veronica Lake is around to make it seem worse than it is."

Raw Wind in Eden (1958) "Jet-setters dumped on island where survival is more basic. Some movement and a lot of heavy breathing."

The Redhead From Wyoming (1953) "About a dance hall queen and a sheriff and as satisfying as a flat beer."

Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967) "This is basically a bad movie version of the Carson McCullers novel of sexual aberration and violence at a Georgia Army post, but it has some interesting performances, especially those of Marlon Brando and Brian Keith. Director John Huston tried for something and missed."

The Relentless Four (1965) "Another mean Italian western... John Wayne would cry."

The Reluctant Astronaut (1967) "Don Knotts as the silly, nervous nut who, volunteered by his father, is accepted into the astronaut training program. More of a Pfft than a blast."

Retreat Hell (1951) "Every war has its famous line. This is from the Korean war. Great line, routine movie."

Return From the Past (1956) "For beyond the grave freaks only."

Return to Macon County (1975) "Two guys, a car and an evil county. The movie that almost killed Nick Nolte's career before it started. Don Johnson and Robin Mattson have yet to recover."

Revenge of the Conquered (1960) "A couple of Gypsy lovers and how they suffer. Join them."

Revenge of the Gladiators (1962) "Watch it and see why."

Ride and Kill (1965) "The title says it all."

The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond (1960) "Which about says it. He's a mobster, by the way, not a track star."

Robinson Crusoe and the Tiger (1972) "The story told from an animal's point of view. Forget it."

Rodan (1957) "From the bowels of the earth comes a berserk pterodactyl. As the poet says, the bird is on the wing."

Room Service (1938)


Rose of Cimarron (1952) "Notable as Jack Buetel's other movie."

Run for Cover (1955) "...the last appearance of Jean Hersholt."

Sabrina (1954) "Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn, William Holden and--yes, grandma--Francis X. Bushman."

Safe at Home (1962) "A Little Leaguer tells his teammates he knows some big baseball stars and then has to produce them for a league dinner. Nauseatingly cloying. Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris don't help."

Sandokan the Great (1965) "The son of a sultan flexes everything but his head muscles as he plods off to rescue dear old dad. Let him go."

Santa Fe Passage (1955) "The wagon train, Indians, love, hate and a whoopee-tie-yo. Routine."

Saratoga (1937) "This was Jean Harlow's last film. She died during production and Mary Dees was used as a stand-in to finish several of the scenes by shooting over her shoulder."

Scared to Death (1947) "Notable as [Bela] Lugosi's only film in color, which is great for trivia quizzes but does nothing for the movie."

Search for the Evil One (1968) "Is Hitler alive and well and living in South America? Who cares?"

The Secret Sex Lives of Romeo and Juliet (1978) "Shakespeare would not have liked this. So it goes."

Seven Golden Men (1967) "Routine Big Caper involving the Swiss National Bank and the usual cool pros. Enough already."

79 A.D. (1960) "It was a very good year for vicious slave traders, fearless gladiators and Susan Paget and Brad Harris were there."

She Demons (1956) "Another shipwreck on a Pacific island where some strange men do some strange things with women. Coconuts."

She Done Him Wrong (1933) "Mae West does her broad best in this Gay Nineties spoof based on the play Diamond Lil. And this is where she gets to say "Come up and see me sometime." An unbelievably young Cary Grant is at the other end of the offer. Good fun."

She Wolf of London (1946) "The mental warpage is infectious."

Shootout at Medicine Bend (1957) "After the Indian wars, three men avenge a death. Randolph Scott doing his thing. The titles change, but he doesn't."

Sidney Sheldon's Bloodline (1979) "Classy/trashy."

Sign of the Cross (1932) "...a prologue was added in 1944 to make all the decadence and piety seem more meaningful."

Sign of the Pagan (1955) "You haven't lived until you've seen jack Palance playing Attila The Hun. Coat heavily with hack religion and try to swallow it."

Silent Night, Bloody Night (1969) "Another small New England town with a horrendous secret that won't stay buried. What is it with New England?"

Silkwood (1983) "The story of Karen Silkwood, an atomic age Rosie the Riveter."

Silver Star (1955) "For Jimmy Wakely fans only."

Sincerely Yours (1955) "An all-time baddie, in spite of or because of its star Liberace, who comes complete with neon teeth, dimples and candelabra."

633 Squadron (1964) "Fatigue is setting in."

The Skull (1965) "The Marquis de Sade is long gone, but his head bone is still around causing sadistic things to happen to this weird collector and other persons. A tingling moment here and there, but basically boneheaded."

Slaughter of the Vampires (1962) "The vampires arrange to take over the world and it's just horrible."

The Snake People (1968) "Voodoo, LSD, sloppy camera work and Boris Karloff in a not very thrilling combination."

So Darling, So Deadly (1967) "Darling, no. Deadly, yes."

Sombra, the Spider Woman (1966) "Her father wants to conquer the world from the fourth dimension. So like a good daughter, this sinister but beautiful fortune teller begins a campaign of murder. Far out stuff."

Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956) "Stars... a ringer for Tony Zale named Courtland Shepard."

Some People (1964) "An object lesson in why this country has cornered the market on singing, swinging movies. This English try has a choirmaster getting his kids to do their thing for the church social. Very flat."

Son of El Cid (1965) "It is hoped the old man never lived to see his son in action."

Son of Kong (1933) "Sued by half of New York (4,000,000 people?--it could only happen in New York) for the destruction that King Kong has wrought, producer Carl Denham sails back to Skull Island to find the mighty ape's offspring."

So This is Paris (1955) "Gloria DeHaven is pretty."

South of Pago Pago (1940) "Terrific title, then downhill..."

South Sea Sinner (1950) "...that piano player, isn't he...?"

S*P*Y*S (1974) "This was supposed to be M*A*S*H joins the C*I*A, but it's N*O*T..."

Spaceways (1953) " A quickie about a flight into space. A quiet day at Cape Kennedy has more thrills."

The Spider Woman Strikes Back (1946) "A young girl fears that her predecessors may have been used to feed a strange plant. Root for the plant."

Spook Chasers (1957) "An old house, stolen money and some bumbling crooks. The Bowery Boys are getting older and dumber."

Starship Invasions (1978) "An idiotic bit of nonsense that ties the future of the universe to a battle between some bald-headed rabbits and a few scuba-suited strangeos with coat-hanger shoulders."

Station Six Sahara (1964) "Some isolated engineers start breathing heavy when Carroll Baker arrives breathing heavy. Who ever thought lust could be dull?"

Storm in Jamaica (1959) "A plane crash and stranded passengers. Also titled 'Passionate Summer,' which gives you an idea of how they work it out."

Stranger of the Tower (1966) "A legendary emerald is gone and there is an unknown assassin on the loose. It doesn't sound dull, but it is."

Strangler in the Swamp (1946) "A hanged man returns to seek vengeance because he was innocent. He mucks about. Beware."

Summer Holiday (1963) "Dumb, but not bad considering it's English."

Superdad (1974) "Dad's a boob."

Supernatural (1933) "From the vault comes spirit possession and other murky stuff, including Randolph Scott without a horse. A vaguely interesting oldie."

Susan and God (1940) "Joan Crawford gets religion and everybody else gets nervous. Mild, with some pointed dialogue by Anita Loos. Frederic March, an early Rita Hayworth and Gloria DeHaven in her first film."

The Swinger (1966) "Ann-Margaret lies about being hip and loose, then sets out to prove it in the worst movie of 1966 and, quite probably, the five years before and after."

Swingers Paradise (1969) "Quick, name two good English musicals."

The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982) "Dungeons, daggers, doxies, dim light, dopey. But sort of likable, too."

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