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Robert S. Clay Jr. (St. Louis, MO., USA)
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Penguin Classics Prime Minister
Penguin Classics Prime Minister
by Anthony Trollope
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.00
60 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars The Pallisers in Power., March 25 2003
Plantagenet Palliser reluctantly becomes the Prime Minister of England. Lady Glencora continues her self-appointed task as a meddler in affairs of the heart and now politics. We are glad to see the couple back at the forefront of our story, the 5th entry of the Palliser saga. Re-appearing characters Lizzie Eustace and Phineas Finn are present, but only in minor roles. The delightful Marie, now Mrs. Finn, stands by Cora in triumph and trouble. Lopez slithers on the scene and courts Emily Wharton, much to her family's dismay. The novels of Anthony Trollope are the Victorian equivalent of daytime TV dramas. They are lightweight, but entertaining. The pace is leisurely, and the book goes on for 700+ pages. Graham Greene once wrote that Trollope's novels ease stress levels because nothing much happens. The stylish presentation in smoothly written prose compensates the reader nicely. Besides, nobody captured the comic essence of Victorian manners and morals as Trollope. The unyielding men and women are often the cause of their own dilemmas. This book is a pleasant contrast to the noise, bustle, and electronic hardware of modern life. Recommended reading. ;-)

Prince of Lost Places
Prince of Lost Places
by Kathy Hepinstall
Edition: Hardcover
21 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars The Illusions of Your Mind., March 11 2003
This review is from: Prince of Lost Places (Hardcover)
Martha, an Ohio wife and mother, flees to a cave along the Rio Grande when violence disrupts her peaceful home. Her husband sends a detective on her trail, and love blossoms. This quirky little tale is fine for readers who enjoy their suspense flavored with plot twists and psychological overtones. The pace is leisurely. Tension builds slowly. The climax of the novel is sudden and leaves the readers putting their own spin on the story. Knowing the difference between reality and illusion plays a major part. Think of a romantic Twilight Zone episode and you get the idea. Kathy Hepinstall enjoys a credible reputation as a rising author of suspense novels. This is good lite reading. ;-)

Outlaw, the
Outlaw, the
VHS
3 used & new from CDN$ 9.80

2.0 out of 5 stars "Don't, Billy!", March 6 2003
This review is from: Outlaw, the (VHS Tape)
This movie regularly appears on local PBS stations struggling with a cash-strapped budget. Doc Holliday (Walter Huston) is a friend of Sheriff Pat Garrett (Thomas Mitchell). When Billy the Kid (Jack Beutel) rides into town, Doc spends time schmoozing with the Kid, and Garrett gets upset. Jane Russell's 44s show up with Jane right behind them. Doc and Billy vie for her love, when they are not arguing over a strawberry roan horse. I kept waiting for a logical plot to materialize. I was still waiting when the movie ended. This film tells us of the vision of Howard Hughes. Mainly that Hughes wanted to feature the natural assets of a young Jane Russell. He succeeded, points taken. Speaking of the white hills of Arizona, there is a weak attempt to tell a gunfighter vs. gunfighter story. There is even some Western-type action. At one point, Indians on the warpath suddenly appear and then proceed to get lost in a cloud of dust. Only in Hollywood. Howard Hawks assisted with the director task, but he just told the camera guy to focus on Jane's cleavage and left the set. Wearing a low-cut top, she leans over the neck of a galloping horse, and the camera angle is full frontal. This is not Shakespeare. The movie had a notorious reputation in its day. Obviously, standards have changed. This is only slightly adult material. Be careful of the "so bad, it's good" label. Sometimes, we overuse it. There is no accounting for taste. ;-)

The Golden Voyage of Sinbad
The Golden Voyage of Sinbad
DVD ~ John Phillip Law
Price: CDN$ 7.83
18 used & new from CDN$ 7.83

4.0 out of 5 stars Tie up your camel!, March 4 2003
This review is from: The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (DVD)
Sinbad embarks on another adventure of magic and monsters. In the pre-George Lucas/Steven Spielberg days, the greatest fantasy adventure films were the ones that featured the eye-popping special effects of Ray Harryhausen. This 1974 movie recalls the halcyon days of the late '50s and early '60s when Saturday matinees at the local movie theater ruled the entertainment world of pre-teens. Although this flick suffers in comparison with the superior "7th Voyage of Sinbad," there is enough to like about it to recommend viewing and ownership. The monsters are good, especially the centaur/cyclops that threatens the delectable Caroline Munro. The sword fight with the multi-limbed statue of the goddess Kali recall's RH's previous work in "Jason and the Argonauts" with the hydra-headed dragon and the army of skeletons. The animation and non-computerized FX are eye pleasing enough that one wishes for more screen time for the monsters. The plot occasionally gets in the way of the action. Once the FX kicks in, things get livelier. John Phillip Law is okay, if a little bland, as Sinbad. Caroline Munro in a slave girl costume distracts the male viewer from quibbling over minor faults along the way. Sometime Doctor Who, Tom Baker, is effective as Koura, the evil magician. This is good "G" rated entertainment that pleases Ray Harryhausen fans and pre-teens of all ages. Suspend disbelief and have fun. ;-)

With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa
With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa
by E. B. Sledge
Edition: Paperback
21 used & new from CDN$ 0.32

5.0 out of 5 stars Portrait of a Fighting Man., Feb. 4 2003
To say that this book is powerful is inadequate. 235 men of Company K, 3d Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division went ashore at Peleliu in September of 1944. In June of 1945, after mopping up at Okinawa, only 26 of the original K/3/5 made it through. Note E. B. Sledge's integrity as an objective observer of war. Sledge, known as "Sledgehammer" by the raggedy-... Marines, tells his horrific story without whining or self-pity. Neither is he grinding an anti-war, "peace at any price" ax. His experience is of the face of battle reduced to its most sickening level. Never mind the position movements on maps at headquarters; the stench of battle prevails. From Sledge's viewpoint, grand strategy gave way to one-on-one enemy action in his sector. Fear and survival exclude swagger. Men in battle persevere to kill the enemy and to support their buddies. Naive expectations fade quickly as maggots infest the dead and torrential jungle rain fills the foxholes. Bloody Nose Ridge and the Shuri Line grind the Marines. The snap of bullets, the whine of artillery shells, and the agonized cries of wounded comrades are the only soundtrack. Mental and emotional fatigue takes a fearful toll, right along with bloody wounds and dreadful field sanitation. Sledge deplores the brutish nature of war, but recognizes its occasional inevitability, humanity's great dilemma. The privilege of freedom carries its own responsibilities. Heed the writing of a fighting man who knows. This book should be required reading for all persons on both sides of the war controversy. ;-)

Three Stooges:Stop Look and La
Three Stooges:Stop Look and La
VHS
3 used & new from CDN$ 96.97

4.0 out of 5 stars The Three Stooges and the Ventriloquist., Jan. 22 2003
I'm going out on a limb with this review. This is a funny little movie. Paul Winchell and his wise cracking dummy, Jerry Mahoney, are a hoot. Almost as good is the lovably wacky Knucklehead Smiff. Notice how lunch counter-man Knuck deals with Winch's slice of suspicious raisin bread. The spliced in scenes of various Three Stooges comedies are fun, if somewhat diluted for staunch Stooge fanatics. Everything moves along nicely. The laughs are frequent. Does anyone really care that it's all low budget nonsense? Observe as Winch teaches Jerry appropriate table etiquette, especially the correct method of consuming an ear of corn. The plumbing segment is also hilarious. First time viewers beware, about three-quarters along the way, there is a terrible bump in the road. The Marquis Chimps do Cinderella in hokey costumes. What was the producer thinking? Even for a cheesy movie freak such as me, this 10-minute interlude is too much schlock. Fast-forward through this mistake, and preserve your sanity. This little movie is good for nostalgia buffs, and middle-age kiddies everywhere. From this point forward, you are on your own. ;-)

Most Dangerous Game, the
Most Dangerous Game, the
VHS
2 used & new from CDN$ 55.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Manhunt in Kong's Jungle., Dec 23 2002
Bob, a big-game hunter shipwrecked off a remote island, encounters Zaroff (Leslie Banks). Typical of guys named "Bob," Bob (Joel McCrea) is handsome and rugged. Zaroff is wide-eyed and quite mad on the subject of hunting. Finding that animals are a lesser challenge, Zaroff moved on to hunting humans. Zaroff's houseguests, Eve (Fay Wray) and her drunken brother Martin (Robert Armstrong), were also shipwrecked. It seems that Zaroff keeps moving the buoys. Since Bob is a famous hunter, Zaroff finds particular pleasure in making him the prey. After Martin disappears, Bob and the delectable Eve get a head start. Zaroff releases the pack, and the grim fun begins. If nothing else, this old movie proves that it is possible to make a great action/suspense flick without fiery explosions, computer-generated FX, and stylized violence. Since some of the same people who made "King Kong" also made this flick, it has a familiar look, even for a first time viewer. For example, Bob and Eve race across the log bridge where Kong encountered the sailors, albeit from the opposite direction. Eve wears a tattered dress, much the same as the famous one in "Kong." Nobody looks better in revealing rags than Fay Wray. There aren't any giant monsters running through this murky jungle. Zaroff is monstrous enough. Finally, Zaroff gets the point of the real danger. The stone-faced Noble Johnson is around as one of Zaroff's menacing minions. The story races right along and doesn't waste time on subplots. Based on the often-anthologized story by Richard Connell, this little film is a good change of pace. ;-)

Undefeated, the
Undefeated, the
VHS
6 used & new from CDN$ 7.51

4.0 out of 5 stars Best of Enemies., Dec 18 2002
This review is from: Undefeated, the (VHS Tape)
Various factors combine to make this an enjoyable bit of action-adventure fluff. This applies both before and behind the camera. John Wayne worked very well with director Andrew McLaglen. For the record, the typical result was less artistic than Wayne's efforts with John Ford, Howard Hawks, etc. Wayne and McLaglen adeptly collaborated on an entertaining string of big budget B pictures. Much of the cast is from the Batjac production company players, and features Western stalwarts such as Ben Johnson and Dub Taylor. Then, of course, there is Rock Hudson. Hudson and Wayne both display enthusiasm and humor in their roles as former Civil War enemies that form an unlikely alliance. After the war ends, Wayne and his herders drive wild horses down to Mexico for profit. They find Hudson leading a group of ex-Confederates seeking to resettle around Durango. After fighting off an army of bandits, the Wayne and Hudson contingents are caught between Mexican revolutionary factions and they have to shoot their way out. This flick features an ample amount of shoot-'em-up violence that never gets more explicit than "PG." A highpoint is the hilarious drunken brawl at the Confederates' July 4 picnic. (Why die-hard Confederates want to celebrate July 4 is not explained). Colorful outdoor locations, a small-scale Civil War battle, and a romantic subplot rounds two hours of action-packed fun. Look for football stars Merlin Olsen and Roman Gabriel in supporting roles. Recommended viewing. ;-)

House By the Cemetary
House By the Cemetary
VHS
2 used & new from CDN$ 25.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Dr. Freudstein and a Boy Named Bob., Dec 13 2002
This review is from: House By the Cemetary (VHS Tape)
A young professor, his Barbie-doll wife, and their young son go on a sabbatical. They move into an old house by an ancient cemetery, and bloody death ensues. After a steady diet of classic horror flicks and '50s style sci-fi schlock, come along as we venture into '80s stylized violence. Talk about culture shock! Vampires, werewolves, and radioactive dinosaurs seem mild compared to a deranged killer that sprays blood around in glorious color. Horrible death notwithstanding, the scariest thing in this movie is the whiny little kid named Bob. (Why pick on guys named Bob?). Bob gets our vote for the Donnie Dunagan award. Little Dunagan played the cutesy and annoying tyke in "Son of Frankenstein." Bob sees dead people, of course. Mainly a little girl dressed in 19th century garb. Also, he can't stay out of the basement. The house is haunted by the undead remnant of Dr. Freudstein. We assume that the Freud and Frankenstein family lines crossed at some point in the distant past. Freudstein needs plentiful amounts of human blood to keep going. The script has difficulty focusing between a slasher flick and a ghost story. The plot is both suspenseful and silly. At times, it even gets confusing. Who, for example, is the enigmatic baby-sitter that has strange ties to a store-window mannequin? The story doesn't conclude, it just stops after 80+ minutes. Maybe they were setting up a sequel. The killing is gory, but limited in scope. There is not a new victim every five minutes. Italian director Lucio Fulci enjoys a loyal following among genre fans and cult enthusiasts. For collectors, this gem is worth the price. ;-)

First Rumpole Omnibus
First Rumpole Omnibus
by John Mortimer
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.67
118 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tales of Rumpole., Dec 2 2002
This review is from: First Rumpole Omnibus (Paperback)
Horace Rumpole, the Old Bailey hack, shines in this collection of John Mortimer's stories. Rumpole is the master of acerbic wit and keen observation. Donned in a wig and robe, he thrusts and parries his way through the English criminal justice system, soldiering on for his mostly shady clients. One of Rumpole's rules is "never plead guilty." He also stands fast on the principle that hearing the truth from one's client can be dangerous. It usually puts the lawyer in an awkward position. Rumpole fortifies himself with an ample supply of little cigars, modestly priced claret, and an old copy of the "Oxford Book of English Verse," from which he quotes Wordsworth and others from memory. Amidst an hilarious ensemble of reappearing supporting characters, Rumpole goes forth daily to fight the good fight and also keep the legal fees and refreshers coming in to the Rumpole bank account. He fears only She Who Must Be Obeyed. His wife, Hilda, who rules their home in Froxbury Court with an iron hand. Written with humor, affection, and intelligence these stories are pure delight. The stories vary in length, but average 40-50 pages. Take Sherlock Holmes and P. G. Wodehouse, mix with Mortimer's background as a barrister, flavor with amusing vernacular and chatty first-person narrative, and you have good lite reading. Especially recommended for busy readers in the era of weighty tomes that populate popular fiction. ;-)

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