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Archive for the ‘Lucille Juliano’s film reviews’ Category

by Lucille Juliano

It is hard to believe that 40 years have gone by since Taxi began its run on ABC with its final season on NBC. The show was produced by the John Charles Walters Company, in association with Paramount Network Television, and was created by James L. Brooks,  Stan Daniels, David Davis, and Ed Weinberger.  The series won 18 Emmy Awards including three for Outstanding Comedy Series.

Taxi is a sitcom that reveals the world of a crew of NYC taxi drivers who work for the Sunshine Cab Company.  Many of the cab drivers consider their job with the cab company as interim until they are able to realize their true dreams. Elaine Nardo (MaryLu Henner) is a single mom working at an art gallery. Her dream is to have one of her own someday.  Tony Banta (Tony Danza) is a boxer with the dream of becoming a champ. Bobby Wheeler (Jeff Conaway) is an actor waiting for that big break.  “Reverend” Jim Ignatowski (Christopher Lloyd) is an aging hippie minister, a 1960s drug abuse survivor, who seems to be in his own world. Alex Reiger (Judd Hirsch) is the “leader” of the group.  Everyone goes to him for advice. He is the only member of the crew that considers himself to be just a cab driver. The cast is rounded out with Latka Gravas (Andy Kaufman) a naive and simple-minded mechanic from some unknown country and Louie De Palma (Danny DeVito) the tyrannical, short-tempered dispatcher. (more…)

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by Lucille Juliano

This drama series was based on the classic and beloved “Little House” book series written by Laura Ingalls Wilder and published HarperCollins.  The first publication of the Little House on the Prairie novel was in 1935 and has won the hearts as well as the imaginations of young people around the world.  Laura’s books are a memoir of her real-life experiences growing up during the trying times of the Midwest during the late 1800s.  They tell a story of when life was much simpler. A time when your neighbors would lend a helping hand and obliging communities would work together to prevail against ill fortune. The stories had family values, were inspirational, and told about connections, love, courage, optimism, and happiness.  Since the “Little House” book series has had legions of fans for generations, it should be no surprise that the television series remained on the air for nine seasons and had three TV movies during its tenth year. “Little House on the Prairie” can be found on television today and is broadcast in many countries worldwide.  The complete series is available on DVD and individual seasons are available on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital HD.

The Ingalls Family was introduced to millions of viewers in March of 1974 in a made-for-TV movie entitled, “Little House on the Prairie:The Pilot”  and was picked up as a series in September of 1974 on NBC. The show was considered a top-rated series and earned several Emmy, Golden Globe, and Western Heritage Award nominations and wins.  It also has two international awards to its credit.

At the show’s inception Charles and Caroline Ingalls (played by Michael Landon and Karen Grassle) had three young daughters, Mary (Melissa Sue Anderson), Laura (Melissa Gilbert) and Carrie (Rachel and Sidney Greenbush).  These girls literally grew up on the show and were a part of many coming of age stories. Caroline and Charles were also the center of some of the episodes and let us not forget the family’s lovable mutt, Jack, who was also a part of the mix. (more…)

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by Lucille Juliano

1313 Mockingbird Lane.  The address of one of the most funny “outside the box” families of 60s sitcoms.   A product of Universal Studios, the show was masterfully filmed in black and white to be modeled after the old monster movies.  The Munsters on the surface appears to be a “fish out of water” story where the family sees themselves as your average American family while the community at large has a completely different perspective on things.  In fact, that is precisely where much of the humor stems from.

But, The Munsters is much more than that.  Its writer/developers, Norm Lieberman and Ed Haas put the show’s characters into various situations that were absolutely hysterical and the physical comedy was outrageous.  Along with its talented team of writers, the casting for the show was phenomenal. Fred Gwynne (Herman) and Al Lewis (Grandpa) were a brilliant comedic team that have been likened to Laurel and Hardy and/or Abbott and Costello.  Yvonne DeCarlo as Lily was the shows center and kept the family grounded. It has been said that these three actors were irreplaceable and that the show never would have existed without them. The show’s set, a gothic Victorian house, to Grandpa’s lab to the Munster Koach were one home run after the other.

The Munsters were a different kind of family and that includes the family pets!  

(These descriptions were taken from “The Munsters – a trip down Mockingbird Lane” by Stephen Cox)

Herman Munster (Fred Gwynne) — 150 years old, size 26C shoe, 7’ 3”,

steel bolts in neck, green complexion, flat head, ears don’t match, lantern jaw, lightning bolt on forehead, built in Germany by Dr. Frankenstein.

Works in a mortuary – Gateman, Goodbury, and Graves.

(more…)

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by Lucille Juliano

There are so many iconic props from film and television that are a part of pop culture.  When you see them, you immediately link them to the movie or television show that they were a part of.  The Wizard of Oz has Dorothy’s ruby slippers.  Back to the Future has the delorean.  Reese’s pieces are a link to ET.  How about the leg lamp from A Christmas Story,  Archie Bunker’s chair,  or a dalek from Doctor Who?  Well, I would safely say that when any fan of sixties sitcoms sees an ornate purple glass decanter it brings them right back to one of my favorite sitcoms, I Dream of Jeannie.

I Dream of Jeannie was NBC’s answer to ABC’s hit, Bewitched.  Created and produced by Sidney Sheldon, the series is about a beautiful blonde haired genie who meets a young handsome astronaut.  They fall in love and eventually get married. I detect some similarities—blonde, magic, love… Both were Screen Gems productions.  That being said, the show went in it’s own direction and has many admirers in its own right.

I Dream of Jeannie had a great ensemble cast of characters and that includes Djinn Djinn, Jeannie’s dog.

Jeannie (Barbara Eden) the central character of the show.  During the first season, you find out that Jeannie did not want to marry an evil blue djinn so he turned her into a  genie and placed her in a bottle for 2000 years as a punishment. Her bottle washes up on a beach and it is found by Captain Anthony Nelson (Larry Hagman) who is returning from a mission.  He opens the bottle freeing her from her imprisonment and as a result he becomes her master for life. He accidentally takes her home to Cocoa Beach, Florida.  Jeannie is young and naive. Tony is good-hearted and a practical-minded kind of guy. (more…)

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by Lucille Juliano

It’s a simple fact, that throughout show business history, there has never been such a success story.  Who in the world has had thirty years in one spot? It never happened before.  There’s nothing to compare it to.  Sometimes old-timers hang on and they’re not so good, but the audience likes them and forgives.  You don’t have to forgive him.  He’s as good as the day he started.                                      -Phyllis Diller                                                                                                                   

                                                                                                                                     

I loved being on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.  Nobody listened as good as Johnny.  He’s also a great actor.  He laughed at my jokes like he’d never heard them before.

-George Burns

He is, he was, and will always be the best there was.  It’s been thirty years of the best television we will ever have.  There is not another Johnny Carson . . . unless there’ll be another Charlie Chaplin.

-Jerry Lewis

I have nothing but the greatest admiration for him.  I think that when he quits, it’s kind of an end of an era.

-Jack Paar

(taken from the foreword of Here’s Johnny! revised edition by Stephen Cox, 1992, 2002)

 

Johnny became the host of The Tonight Show about a year or so before I was born.  My parents watched him religiously and as soon as we were old enough to stay up late, my sister and I became regulars as well.  Apparently, Johnny had become an institution in our lives just as he had for countless Americans around the country. Like clockwork, he returned each night and we as admirers, banked on it.   When I think about it, he was always there right after the 11 o’clock news on NBC for more than half my life.  My family and I watched him every night Monday through Friday no matter where we were at home, visiting family or friends or on vacation.  For three decades, Johnny was seated behind the desk and entertained us in so many ways. He was more than just an anchor to late-night audiences.  He was the “King of Late-Night Television”.  It has been said that Johnny had some of the greatest comedy writers around.  His timing and delivery aged like fine wine and only got better.   It could be that we just got so used to him that any errors really didn’t matter.  We went easy on him because even his blunders were amusing.   During his reign, seven presidents passed through the White House and the country moved through wars, victories, and taxes.

I can still remember watching his last show on May 22, 1992 with guests, Robin Williams and Bette Midler.  Robin was his typical crazy self and had Johnny in stitches not knowing what he would do next.  Bette was his official last guest.  During the show, she sang three times including a duet with Johnny himself.  Her rendition “You Made Me Love You” or should I say “You Made Me Watch You” was absolutely hysterical and a real roast of Johnny and his career.  During the finale, Bette came out and sang her own rendition of “One More for My Baby (and One More for the Road) which was so touching and sentimental that there was not a dry eye on either side of the camera.  You could see that Johnny was holding back tears as she sang and hear it in his voice as he said goodnight to his audience.   (more…)

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by Lucille Juliano

                                    “Once upon a time, there was a typical American girl

                                     who happened to bump into a typical red-blooded

                                     American boy…And she bumped into him…And

                                     bumped into him…And bumped into him. So they

                                     decided they’d better sit down and talk this over

                                     before they had an accident. They became good

                                     friends.  They found they had a lot of interests in

                                     common…Movies…Television…Radio…Bridges

                                     Trains…And when the boy found the girl attractive,

                                     desirable, irresistible…he did what any red-blooded

                                     American boy would do. He asked her to marry him.

                                     They had a typical wedding…Went on a typical

                                     Honeymoon…In a typical bridal suite…EXCEPT

                                    It so happens that this girl is a witch!”

(Opening narration, pilot episode, I, Darrin, Take This Witch, Samantha, aired Sept. 17, 1964)

Though Bewitched was primarily designed to amuse its audience and deliver laughter, it was also at heart a love story about two very different people, Samantha and Darrin.  The show actually addressed inter-racial marriage and prejudice right from the start.  During the pilot episode, Endora, Samantha’s mother pops in the bedroom of the bridal suite while Samantha is changing.  When Samantha tells her that she is married, Endora assumes it is to a warlock.  Samantha cautiously announces that she married a mortal.  As the conversation continues, Endora states that mortals are prejudice against witches because they think that all witches are ugly, evil, wear black, and ride brooms on Halloween.  Samantha assures her that Darrin is not like that and is a good person.  Endora prods her to tell Darrin that she is a witch.  Endora leaves and Samantha proceeds to tell Darrin.  His immediate reaction after Samantha provides proof that she has magical powers is to ask about wearing black and flying a broom on Halloween.  During the episode, Darrin decides that he will not tell his family and friends about Samantha being a witch.  Darrin tells Samantha that he accepts her as she is and loves her very much.  Samantha promises to comply with Darrin’s wishes to not use witchcraft and to do things herself because she loves him very much. This marked the beginning of what would be an eight season run on ABC.

The moral of every episode is the same: No matter how much one tries to conceal one’s innate attributes in order to fit into the society at large, it will fail.  Spirituality must always triumph over matters of commerce.  Love conquers all.  While Samantha adapts to Darrin’s wishes for her to become a traditional suburban housewife, her magical family opposes the very idea of this mixed marriage and regularly intrudes in the couple’s lives.  Episodes often commence with Darrin becoming the pawn of a family member who casts a spell on him.  The results of these incantations often cause mayhem amongst mortals such as his boss, clients, parents, and neighbors.  By the conclusion of every episode, however, Darrin and Samantha usually hug each other having beaten the shrewd elements that failed to split them up. (more…)

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by Lucille Juliano

I challenge anyone who is old enough to have seen The Waltons when it originally aired not to admit that they have not at least once in their lives quoted those immortal words from the show.  Those words that I myself will use do when put into a group sleepover situation.  In fact, a few weeks ago on our trip to Gettysburg, PA a family friend said to me, “Goodnight, Mary Ellen” to which I replied, “Goodnight, John-Boy” before we retired for the night.  Richard Thomas (John-Boy Walton) himself says that to this day people will yell out “Good-night, John-Boy!” when they see him whether it’s in a restaurant, on the streets in NYC or even while he is performing in a play.

I can recall sitting in front of the television every Thursday night at 8:00 pm with my family to watch The Waltons on CBS.  Yes, we could have been watching The Flip Wilson Show on NBC or The Mod Squad on ABC but there was just something about this show that kept us coming back.  Rumor has it that CBS put it up against these two popular shows in response to congressional hearings on the quality of television.  The network did not have the confidence that it would survive.  Ralph Waite (John Walton) was hesitant to audition because he didn’t want to be hooked up with a long-running TV series.  His agent convinced him that it would never sell and to just do the pilot.  The network executives may have been fooled, but not us!

The show went for nine seasons and had six television movie sequels in the decades that followed.  The Waltons did reasonably well in the Nielson Ratings (measures audience size and composition) during its first six seasons.  It ranked its highest for the second season placing at #2 and tied with The Partridge Family, Medical Center, M*A*S*H, Little House on the Prairie, and ABC Sunday Night Movie during its run.  The Waltons won a number of Primetime Emmy Awards including Outstanding Drama Series, Lead Actor in a Drama Series, Lead Actress in a Drama Series, Supporting Actress and Actor in a Drama Series as well as Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series.  So what was it about this show that kept audiences watching and enabled it to win about a dozen Primetime Emmy Awards?

 Earl Hamner Jr. is the creator of the show as it is based on his book, Spencer’s Mountain, in which he wrote about his real-life family and their experiences.  Walton’s Mountain is a fictional place in fictional Jefferson County, Virginia. The show takes place from about 1933 to 1946, during the Great Depression and World War II, and the presidencies of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman.  Admittedly there could be some chronological errors historically with the show, but it was the Walton family, the relationships between them and others, the acts of kindness, the life lessons, the teachable moments and a general sense of the importance of home and family that kept audiences watching. (more…)

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the-miracle-worker-anne-bancroft-patty-duke-1962

by Lucille Juliano

Biography, Drama

Director……Arthur Penn

Screenplay…….William Gibson (based on his stage play)

Starring…..Anne Bancroft, Patty Duke, Victor Jory, Inga Swenson, Andrew Prine

The Miracle Worker tells the story of Annie Sullivan’s struggles to teach the blind and deaf Helen Keller how to interact in her world.  Despite this subject matter, Penn does not give into manipulating the viewer’s emotions.  He made the story very realistic.  The use of black and white cinematography adds to the simplicity of the sets and locations.  The background music helps to carry the story to a degree but is quite nonintrusive.  The film draws much of its power from the performances of Anne Bancroft (Annie) and Patty Duke (Helen).

This realistic portrayal features an 8-minute sequence of Annie trying to teach Helen table manners.  Most critics agree that this segment may just be one of the most electrifying and honest sequences ever committed to film.  This is just one example of the physicality of Bancroft and Duke’s performances.  There are many other confrontations between the two throughout the film as Annie and Helen are what you might call spirited.

Annie uses humor, compassion, and a large dose of stubbornness as she deals with Helen’s behavior.  Annie was virtually blind as a child and went through 9 surgeries to regain most of her sight.  Light sensitivity is what remains and causes her to wear tinted lenses.  She grew up in an asylum with her younger crippled brother, which taught her many life lessons.  She attended the Perkin’s School for the Blind in Massachusetts where she gained experience working with the blind and the deaf. (more…)

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PORTADA-somewhere_in_time1

by Lucille Juliano

 

Somewhere in Time     1h 48 min   Drama/Fantasy/Romance   Rated PG

Directed by Jeannot Szwarc

Screenplay by Richard Matheson

Based on the novel “Bid Time Return” by Richard Matheson

Music by John Barry

Produced by Ray Stark and Stephen Deutsch

Rastar Pictures

 

Released in the fall of 1980, Somewhere in Time takes Superman out of Metropolis, away from Lois Lane, and sends him “back in time” about five years before Marty McFly came on the scene.  Now, you must know that by saying Superman, I am actually referring to actor, Christopher Reeve.  Oh and by the way, in this movie, Margot Kidder (Lois Lane) is replaced by actress Jane Seymour and Gene Hackman (Lex Luthor) is replaced by Christopher Plummer.

      Somewhere in Time is the tale of a young playwright who gives up his life in the present to find what he hopes to be true love in the past.   Early in the movie, a young Richard Collier (Reeve) is approached by an elderly woman who hands him an antique gold pocket watch and pleads,  “Come back to me”.  Eight years later, a photograph of a young actress at the Grand Hotel intrigues Richard.  When he researches about her, he finds a picture of the young actress in her later years.  To his amazement, he realizes that the actress and the elderly woman that gave him the gold pocket watch years before are one in the same.  Collier then becomes obsessed with returning to 1912 and the beautiful young actress that is there waiting for him. (more…)

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