Arizona Bound (1941, directed by Spencer Gordon Bennett)

The town of Mesa City, Arizona has a problem.  A gang of thieves are holding up stagecoaches and shooting the drivers.  Stagecoach lines are removing Mesa City from their list of destinations and the town is having to depend on the services of corrupt businessman Steve Taggert (Tristram Coffin).  After the death of her father and the shooting of her boyfriend, Ruth Masters (Launa Walters) takes over her family’s stagecoach line and is determined to keep it running.  But who will drive her coaches?

Cattle salesman and former marshal Buck Roberts (Buck Jones) rides into town and volunteers to drive the next stagecoach.  Because the stagecoach is carrying a gold shipment, everyone suspects that it will probably be targeted by the thieves.  Volunteering to help Buck is another cattleman named Sandy Hopkins (Raymond Hatton) and the town’s newly arrived preacher, Parson McCall (Tim McCoy).  McCall has already run afoul Taggert because of his crusade to close down Taggert’s saloon.  What Taggert and the other citizens of Mesa City don’t know is that Buck, Hopkins, and McCall are the Rough Riders, undercover government agents who have a plan to both protect the gold and to reveal the identities of the culprits.

Arizona Bound was the first of seven films about the Rough Riders.  While the plots were never anything special, these films stood out because they paired Buck Jones and Tim McCoy, two B-western mainstays who had been active since the silent era and who both brought a good deal of authentic toughness to their performances.  In Arizona Bound, both Jones and McCoy don’t hesitate to show that they’re not going to put up with any nonsense from Taggert and his men.  There’s a great scene where McCoy proves that even a preacher can outdraw and intimidate an entire saloon full of roughnecks.  Jones, McCoy, and Hatton made a good team, though world events would come together to prevent the Rough Riders from having too many adventures.  After the U.S. entered World War II, McCoy volunteered for active duty.  Meanwhile, Jones died in a tragic night club fire.  Raymond Hatton continued to play Sandy Hopkins in other films but none with the original Rough Riders.

Retro Television Reviews: Hang Time 4.19 “Rocky Road To The Playoffs” and 4.20 “Kristy Nightingale”

Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Mondays, I will be reviewing Hang Time, which ran on NBC from 1995 to 2000.  The entire show is currently streaming on YouTube!

The championship is approaching, yet again!  Hang time!

Episode 4.19 “Rocky Road To The Playoffs”

(Dir by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on November 14th, 1998)

It’s that time of year again!  The team just has to win one more game to make it to the playoffs.  Unfortunately, because Michael has been distracted, it’s starting to look like it might not happen.  It turns out that Michael has gotten a really bad report card, one that has more C’s than B’s.  His father has said that Michael can only play basketball as long as he keeps his grades up.  Technically, C’s are passing so I’m not really sure what the problem is but whatever.

After Michael has a shouting match with his father, Coach K says that, while he sympathizes with Michael, he can’t let him play in the big game because Michael has got too much on his mind.  As a result, the Tornadoes finish the first half of the game with the score tied!  Fortunately, Michael’s father shows up during halftime and has a conversation with his son.  Michael agrees to go to summer school and his father says that Michael can keep playing.  Michael enters the game during the second half and — yay!  The Tornadoes win!

Actually, that’s not a surprise.  The Tornadoes haven’t lost an important game since the second season.

While this is going on, Mary Beth and Kristy play a game of one-and-one basketball in order to win a car.  It wasn’t a terrible B-plot.  Megan Parlen and Amber Barretto were always at their best when they got to do something ridiculous together.

This wasn’t a bad episode.  I don’t think there was ever any doubt that the Tornadoes would win that game but the episode finally gave Adam Frost something to do and Frost proved himself to be a better actor than one might have previously expected.  All in all, this was a good episode.  Even Julie was a little less self-centered than usual.  Way to go, Hang Time!

Episode 4.20 “Kristy Nightingale”

(Dir by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on November 14th, 1998)

Meanwhile, back at the camp….


Well, seriously, can you blame her?  I mean, what do we know about Rico?  First, he got addicted to marijuana.  (Seriously, do you have any idea how much weed you have to smoke to get addicted to a non-addictive drug?)  Secondly, he freaked out because he was dating a tall girl.  Finally, at camp, Rico got stung by a bee.  Kristy, who is apparently now working as the camp’s nurse, removes the stinger but she doesn’t realize that you’re supposed to keep an eye on someone after they get stung by a bee.  Instead, she sends Rico back to his cabin, where Rico nearly dies as a result of an allergic reaction!  Luckily, there’s a real doctor at the camp and she gives Rico a shot that saves his life.

Kristy feels terrible.  Everyone tells her that she’s being too hard on herself, despite the fact that Kristy did nearly kill someone.  Kristy worries that she might not be cut out to be a doctor and, again, that would seem like a fair assessment considering that she nearly killed someone.  Still, all the members of the team start faking injuries so that Kristy can fix them.  Awww, that’s nice of them!  Unfortunately, Kristy overhears everyone talking about how they faked all of their injuries and she loses her confidence again.  Fortunately, Michael makes himself useful by breaking his arm for real and Kristy gets to help him and regain her confidence.


While all of this is going on, the counselors engage in a prank war and remind me of why I’m glad to have never gone to any sort of camp.

As far as the basketball camp episodes are concerned, this was an okay one.  But Hang Time is a show that is at it’s best when it focuses on high school.  Hopefully, this is the last of this season’s camp episodes.

We’ll find out next week!

Film Review: The Girl On A Motorcycle (dir by Jack Cardiff)

Who would have guessed that a film from 1968, starring Marianne Faithfull and Alain Delon, would be a little bit pretentious?  I’m as shocked, as anyone.

The Girl On A Motorcycle is Rebecca (Marianne Faithfull), the wife of Raymond (Roger Mutton).  One day, Rebecca wakes up, puts on a black leather jumpsuit, and gets on her motorcycle.  Abandoning her husband and her home, she rides through France and eventually reaches Germany.  Along the way, she thinks about how the motorcycle represents freedom and how no one is truly free unless they’re doing what they want to do.  We hear her inner monologue and it’s hard not to notice that, for someone riding a motorcycle across two countries, she often doesn’t seem to be paying that much attention to the road.  Rebecca has more important things to think about, like free love and Vietnam.  She watches as a transport of soldiers drive past her and she silently tells them not to look at her.  She drives through a city and starts to laugh while shouting “Bastard!” at the top of her lungs.  Pedestrians, all of whom are unhappy and middle-aged, stare at her in shock.

Along the way, Rebecca thinks about her life.  She’s married to Roger, who is a mild-mannered teacher who is so ridiculed by his students that even the local gas station attendant mentions how little respect anyone has for him.  However, Rebecca is haunted by memories of Daniel (Alain Delon), who is very, very French.

How French? This French.

Rebecca first met Daniel while working in her father’s bookstore and they had a passionate affair, despite the fact that Rebecca was already engaged to boring old Raymond.  Daniel even taught her how to ride a motorcycle.  When Rebecca got married, Daniel sent her the motorcycle that she is now riding as a wedding gift.  Rebecca is racing through Germany to be reunited Daniel, though it’s never quite clear if she’s truly leaving her husband or if she just wants to have a quick tryst before returning home.  Will Rebecca make it or will the unpredictable whims of fate intervene?

The Girl on a Motorcycle was directed by Jack Cardiff, a veteran cinematographer who first found acclaim working with directors like Michael Powell, Alfred Hitchcock, and John Huston.  Not surprisingly, the film is full of striking shots.  Unfortunately, Cardiff was 54 when he directed The Girl On A Motorcycle and he had been involved in the film industry since he was a child.  Watching the film, one gets the feeling that Cardiff was trying a bit too had to appeal to a young counterculture audience that he didn’t really have much of a natural affinity for.  As such, Cardiff drags out every psychedelic trick in the book.  Do you want excessive use of the zoom lens, ludicrously skewed camera angles, pointlessly surreal flashbacks, portentous narration, extreme close-ups, retina-burning solarization effects, and an ending that feels like it was stolen from Godard?  The Girl On A Motorcycle has all of them!  For every impressive shot of Rebecca riding on her motorcycle, there are several more shots that feel as if they were filmed in migrainevision.

There’s also quite a few shots that make remarkably poor use of rear projection.

The Girl On A Motorcycle is definitely a film of its time.  To give credit where credit is due, Alain Delon is handsome and charismatic as the enigmatic Daniel.  The viewer gets the feeling that Rebecca is probably idealizing him and assuming that he has more depth than he actually does but it’s still easy to understand why she would not be able to resist the temptation.  Marianne Faithfull seems a bit lost as Rebecca.  She smiles a lot and she laughs a lot but her inner monologue is flatly delivered and, as a result, the character comes across as being vapid.  The ideal Rebecca probably would have been a young Helen Mirren.

As it is, The Girl On A Motorcycle is a time capsule of the 60s aesthetic (albeit an aesthetic translated through the lens of a director who seems to be trying too hard to remain relevant).  Due to a few flashes of nudity and some sex scenes that are so psychedelic that they’re nearly impossible to watch, Girl On A Motorcycle was the first film to be slapped with an X rating in the United States.  It seems rather tame today.

Monday Live Tweet Alert: Join Us For Survival Game and The Rundown!

As some of our regular readers undoubtedly know, I am involved in hosting a few weekly live tweets on twitter and occasion ally Mastodon.  I host #FridayNightFlix every Friday, I co-host #ScarySocial on Saturday, and I am one of the five hosts of Mastodon’s #MondayActionMovie!  Every week, we get together.  We watch a movie.  We snark our way through it.

Tonight, for #MondayActionMovie, the film will be 1987s Survival Game!  Selected and hosted by Rev. Magdalen, this movie features Mike Norris!  So, you know it has to be good!

Following #MondayActionMovie, Brad and Sierra will be hosting the #MondayMuggers live tweet.  We will be watching 2003’s The Rundown, starring Seann William Scott and The Rock!  The film is on Prime!

It should make for a night of fun viewing and I invite all of you to join in.  If you want to join the live tweets, just hop onto Mastodon, pull up Survival Game on YouTube, start the movie at 8 pm et, and use the #MondayActionMovie hashtag!  Then, at 10 pm et, switch over to Twitter and Prime, start The Rundown, and use the #MondayMuggers hashtag!  The live tweet community is a friendly group and welcoming of newcomers so don’t be shy.