Profile for Mcgivern Owen L > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Mcgivern Owen L
Top Reviewer Ranking: 411,016
Helpful Votes: 38

Guidelines: Learn more about the ins and outs of Amazon Communities.

Reviews Written by
Mcgivern Owen L (NY, NY USA)

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20
pixel
Phantom Lady [Import]
Phantom Lady [Import]
2 used & new from CDN$ 44.97

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Talk About a Loyal Secretary!!, July 5 2004
This review is from: Phantom Lady [Import] (VHS Tape)
"Phantom Lady" is a solid detective/true crime movie. This reviewer hesitates to label it "noir" due to some rather strange structural attributes. The film opens as a lonely and unhappy Alan Curtis meets a lonely and unhappy woman (Ann Terry), in a bar and impulsively asks her to a play. Soon afterward, she dumps him and goes to her apartment. Curtis arrives at his own home to find the cops waiting! His wife has been strangled and he is the suspect. (Husbands always are). When Curtis cannot establish an alibi, he is quickly convicted and sent to prison. The elusive Terry becomes the "Phantom Lady". Curtis has 2 factors working for him: One is the lead detective, Thomas Gomez, who believes Curtis' story. The other is his devoted secretary Ella Raines. Here is the most loyal employee ever seen on screen! She is determined to track down witnesses, especially Terry, who can spring her boss. Viewers are perfectly aware that Raines' loyalty is well placed! They know the alibis are valid! As noted above, there are 2 main defects: One is that that the actual murderer tips his/her hand to the observant. The other is that PL was OBVIOUSLY filmed in a studio and not on a "big city" location. This greatly lessens the noir effect of night shots, dark streets, high heels on lonely sidewalks, shadows, gloomy bars and all the standard tricks of the trade. Furthermore that scene on the elevated subway platform is almost comical! Who was the director kidding? That was an insult to all the subways of the world, especially New York's. This is why this reviewer urges viewers to forget the noir aspects of PL and concentrate on the searches for the real killer and Terry. Despite the aforementioned "tipped hand", this is still a great mystery. Whodunit? Does Raines find the phantom? This reviewer does not give away endings. The curious will have to watch for themselves. Suffice to say, Raines carries PL virtually single-handed. This is her flick! PL is highly recommended to police/detective aficionados. As a treat, and a test, try to spot the cameo by the veteran actor Milburn Stone. He later played Doc in the long running "Gunsmoke" TV series. If you catch him, give yourself a gold star. And pay attention to what the ladies are wearing! Fashion matters!

Secrets Of Inchon
Secrets Of Inchon
by Eugene Clark
Edition: Hardcover
34 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars The Publisher/Editor Falls Down, June 29 2004
This review is from: Secrets Of Inchon (Hardcover)
Full disclosure: This reviewer failed to read "The Secrets of Inchon" as closely as he would have preferred. The Inchon Landing of September, 1950 was one of the most heroic and timely exploits in U.S. military history. It came at the lowest point in the Korean War as our troops were trapped in the far Southeast corner of the peninsula ("the Pusan Perimeter"). The invasion, behind enemy lines, broke the back of the North Korean Army, virtually eliminating it as a military force. In the weeks before the invasion, the author landed a commando team on the islands surrounding Inchon. His team obtained critical information on the size of the local garrison, disposition of machine gun nests, artillery emplacements, and the height of the seawalls. This should have made for an exciting military story and for others it did. However, this reviewer was distracted to the point of total frustration by the inadequacies of the physical book. There are 3 major problems: 1) Most of all, the MAPS are of TOTAL inadequacy. This is a major defect in an operation where geography was of overriding importance. Why do publishers permit such lapses? 2) The centerfold photos are dull and serve virtually no purpose. Surely the Navy could have provided better. 3) The typesetting is completely unprofessional. More than that, it hurts the eye. There is no spacing between the paragraphs through the ENTIRE text! I found myself skimming pages to save my sight! The bottom line is that mistakes and omissions by the publisher have marred a potentially superior tale. Hopefully, future reprintings can address these shortcomings. Perhaps the hardcover edition does not contain them at all. The call from this corner is a reduction in rank from 5 stars to 3. This is solely due to the sloppy or otherwise disinterested publisher-or sleeping editor-who failed to support a superior piece of military reporting.

Executive Action
Executive Action
VHS
2 used & new from CDN$ 39.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Chillingly On Target!, June 23 2004
This review is from: Executive Action (VHS Tape)
"Executive Action" is about the conspiracy to assassinate President John F. Kennedy. The title refers to covert organizations' euphemism for selected killings. Distinctions are important because EA does not try to prove that a deadly plot existed. EA is ABOUT the conspiracy itself! The pace is slow and chillingly deliberate. The film is totally free of excess and editorial. The conspirators are so calm, the dialog so matter of fact that the viewer could almost be eavesdropping on casual conversation between friends. Their motivation lay in Kennedy's failure to fully support the Bay of Pigs invasion, a nuclear treaty with Russia and his support of Civil Rights. Then there is Topic # 1-J.F.K.s apparent (!) intention to begin withdrawing troops from Vietnam in 1965. Profits decline in peacetime! Two veteran actors, Robert Ryan and Burt Lancaster are the right wing fanatics who decide to take "executive action" against the President. Both are excellent, especially the cynical Ryan. It is their calm "everyone is expendable" iciness that bites to the bone. They have "Done this Before". To them there is no difference between eliminating JFK or dispatching a troublesome Third World dictator. These string-pullers calmly put together a hit team as casually as forming a new finance department. There are two significant details: 1) there were not 1 but 3 shooters in Dallas that day and 2) the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald is treated as an unplanned afterthought. A strong point is the intermingling of historical documentary form the early 60s, which gives EA body and context. A weak point is the supporting cast. The supposedly professional assassins look liked they were drafted from the company softball team. The role of strip club owner Jack Ruby would be laughable if he had not been so important in real life. EA is a first rate low key film that failed to win recognition when it was first released. Conspiracy fans and conspiracy haters alike are encouraged to watch EA. Those who can't learn anything will at least be entertained. A final thought. EA would have been ideal for a black and white format. It's curious the producers chose to colorize such a somber film.

On the Trail of the Assassins
On the Trail of the Assassins
by Jim Garrison
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
51 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Search for the Truth, June 22 2004
"On the Trail of the Assassins" is an excellent starting point for those trying to make sense of the 1963 assassination of John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States. The author was the District Attorney of New Orleans, Louisiana at the time of the shooting. He felt, rightly it seems, that his jurisdiction contained a hotbed of intrigue against J.F.K. OTA is 2 tales in one: The first marshals the virtual kaleidoscope of sinister information, actual events, recreated events, innuendo, questions, malfeasance, lying, ineptitude, charges and countercharges behind the killing. The second relates the author's frustrating attempts to convict a real life person with plotting the act. The first effort is highly successful. This is true at least to the extent that the attentive reader should be convinced that 1) Lee Harvey Oswald certainly DID NOT assassinate Kennedy on his own and 2) was in every likelihood not DIRECTLY involved with the shooting -period. Furthermore, the author proved, to this reviewer's satisfaction that 3) Oswald also did not shoot Dallas Police Officer J.D.Tipitt that fateful afternoon. Linking Tippit to Oswald is critical in determining guilt. Finally, the author effectively eliminates the Mafia as the culprits in the crime. The foregoing is no small accomplishment. Left unanswered are the mysteries that have plagued virtually anyone who is unsatisfied with the Warren Commission or subsequent House investigation into the affair. A partial list of these issues encompass: the virtual criminal activities surrounding Kennedy's "so called autopsy", the presence of a second and even third (!) gunman in Dallas that day, the outright theft of the President's brain from the National Archives and the total and complete failure of the Secret Service to protect J.F.K. in Dallas. The author properly raises the right questions. Like most investigators, he is unable to provide answers. The most tantalizing questions of all concern Oswald: Who was he? If he did not shoot the President, why is he so prominent And what on the fringes of the event? He certainly was on the scene that day? Was he set up to take the fall? Was he a patsy? His own murder two days after the President's proved that someone wanted him silenced. The second tale surrounds the trial of one Clay Shaw, a local prominent business leader. Shaw was not charged with the murder but in forming a plot to carry out the assassination. No reader should be surprised at Shaw's acquittal. Garrison's case was unspecific and not coherently put together for such a serious charge. The jury's decision does not detract from the book one iota. There are so many unanswered questions and unexplained events to the Kennedy assassination it boggles the mind. The overriding burden lies in assigning specificity . At least Garrison tried to bring someone to justice. Conspiracy theorists will have to read further to get more answers to the frustrating questions. One weak point is the inadequacy of the one map of Dealey Plaza, the murder site. A more serious detraction is that so many facts are spread out over the text, many buried in footnotes. Readers will have to work hard! These facts, like Shaw's prosecution are not always coherently presented, a strange omission from such an experienced lawyer. In fairness to the author, this may reflect poor editing, not poor writing. One cautionary note from this observer: The Kennedy assassination is highly similar to another troubling affair: The missing POWs and MIAs from Indochina. In both instances, our Government failed us. And in both cases, the full truth will never be known. There remains no reason not to continue to seek answers no matter how frustrating. If enough of us try hard enough for long enough, perhaps more of the truth will one day emerge.

Grave Accusations: A True Story of Lies, Family Secrets, and Death
Grave Accusations: A True Story of Lies, Family Secrets, and Death
by Andrea Egger
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
37 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars With a New Mexico accent, June 19 2004
"Grave Accusations" concerns the suspicious death of Monica Dunn. She was the former wife of Paul Dunn, a Farmington, New Mexico cop. The circumstances of Monica's demise are questionable, to say the least. In an apparent rush to judgement by the local District Attorney, Paul is charged with her murder. Officer Dunn claims Monica committed suicide. GA proceeds from this adversarial stating point and follows the cases of both prosecution and defense. Although the text is slow paced and frequently repetitive, suspense is maintained until the jury renders its verdict. Readers are advised that despite the "maintenance of suspense", authoress Egger is scarcely an impartial observer. She wrote GA in cooperation with the defendant! Consequently, the prosecution's viewpoint is downplayed, if not almost scorned. The local D.A.and his expert witnesses are labeled as venal, politically motivated and even incompetent. Egger then proceeds to portray the defense team as crusaders for justice when they really are just well -paid hired guns. Two observations on those centerfold photos: They are boring and far from " startling", as the book jacket claims. They are as bland as can be. They neither shed light on the resolution nor do they humanize the characters. The "Ann Rule rule" is NOT in effect! GA is still recommended. At least it is different. How many true crime tales are set in remote Northwestern New Mexico? True crime aficionados should be satisfied with GA if they can ignore the overstated evidence and hold Egger's preset prejudices in abeyance.

Crime of Passion [Import]
Crime of Passion [Import]
3 used & new from CDN$ 23.95

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Marry in Haste....., June 5 2004
"Crime of Passion" is a solid basic film noir. It lacks much of the dark exteriors, night shots, strange camera angles and gloomy interiors of a complete noir film but this is still the real thing. Barbara Stanwyck is a successful newspaper columnist in San Francisco. She impulsively marries an L.A. cop, Sterling Hayden. The suddenness of the marriage might signal some future "problems". The newlyweds settle down to a neat little suburban house, which would appear right at home on an "Ozzie and Harriet" set. Hayden is happy as a clam but not the Mrs! She wants more! She quickly becomes bored with the stilted little dinner parties and catty gossip of the other police wives. Who could blame her! Then Stanwyck over reaches! She has an affair with her hubby's boss. The intent was getting him a promotion. The guy is none other than Raymond Burr, the soon to be Perry Mason of 50s TV fame. Can we imagine Perry getting involved with a hot girl like Barbara? This reviewer is straining not to give away the ending, so I'll just reveal that matters start to unravel. At least one person winds up dead! The gossip columnist is out of her league. Her ploy does not exactly work. The hard-nosed ending is quite satisfying and in line with 40s and 50s cop/noir films. A star is subtracted for the rather sudden "resolution". 2 final notes: True crime fans may be appalled at one especially egregious example of shoddy police work. Does anyone remember the term "protection of evidence"? No wonder O.J. walked 35 years later! Silver and Ward's "Film Noir" states that CP was a prime example of the "malaise infecting suburbia" in the 1950s. While that does not apply to Hayden it certainly does to his conniving spouse. If only she had stayed in San Francisco!

Pitfall [Import]
Pitfall [Import]
VHS

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Hardboiled Noir!, June 5 2004
This review is from: Pitfall [Import] (VHS Tape)
Now here is a serious noir film! The cast features Dick Powell, Jane Wyatt, Raymond Burr and Lizabeth Scott. Powell is an L.A. insurance man, slowly becoming bored with his predictable suburban lifestyle. His wife is Jane Wyatt, the perfect 40s/50s homemaker. Trouble brews when Powell hires a smarmy P.I. (Burr) to investigate a theft of property. This is long before his role of Perry Mason. Burr gets the perpetrator (Byron Barr) arrested. Powell visits Barr's girlfriend to "wrap things up" and reclaim the remaining goods. But this is no ordinary lady! This is the classic noir good girl/bad girl-Lizabeth Scott. The two have the requisite noir affair, even though Barr is her supposed boyfriend! The plot thickener is that P.I. Burr also is interested in Scott, leaving the 3 male leads pining for the same girl! The by now obvious villain, Burr, visits boyfriend Barr in the slammer, teasing him with tales of Powell and Scott. Matters intensify more when Burr pays the boyfriend's bail and gets him drunk enough to try to kill Powell. Good girl Scott phones Powell to warn him. In the deadly showdown, Powell kills the boyfriend. LAPD presses no charges. This reviewer won't reveal the resolution of "The Pitfall" but at this point Burr and Scott are still standing. Most viewers may side with Scott but fate does not exactly smile on either. There is one more dead body and one more live one on the way to San Quentin. The film fades out after Powell has confessed all to the wife. She stands by him in the true 40s/50s tradition but allows that things will never be the same again. One doesn't know who to feel sorriest for, the dead characters, the one on the way to the Big House or Powell-who will have to face his wife every morning for the rest of his life while still trapped in his hum drum middle class life. While working at an insurance company, no less! A staple of noir films is the essentially good but basically weak human caught in a maelstrom set in place by others more devious than (s)he. That is an apt capsule description of "The Pitfall"-and it has an excellent film wrapped around it. It may be short of those murky night shots, dark streets and strange camera angles of other noir classics. "The Pitfall" remains a wonderful 40s/50s showcase, with a large dab of "middle class malaise" tossed in- all in a run time of 86 minutes! Highly recommended!

Shake Hands With the Devil
Shake Hands With the Devil
VHS
2 used & new from CDN$ 50.00

4.0 out of 5 stars There is More to It Than the Clancy Brothers!!!!, May 31 2004
"Shake Hands with the Devil" is a highly intelligent movie. It is a virtual miniature Irish history lesson. It is set around 1920-at the height of the Revolution against England that led to Irish independence. Most Irish movies this reviewer has seen suffer from a common ailment: They require some foreknowledge of that troubled island's past to be fully appreciated. SHD is no exception. To those who pick up on the historical allegories, there is much to relish. The principal character is James Cagney. Ostensibly he is a professor in a Dublin Medical School. Behind the scenes he is a commander of an IRA brigade. Militarily, he reports to Michael Redgrave. The two are polar opposites. Gagney is rough and ready. Redgrave is dignified and reserved. There is an uneasy alliance between them. Though the true-life roles are reversed, the images of Michael Collins and Eamon de Valera shine through. Viewers who know their history will quickly sense the impending deadly conflict between the male leads. A high point to SHD is the outstanding work of the female leads in particular and the supporting cast in general. The latter include the dreaded Black and Tans, the IRA men and the regular Brit soldiers. All look the part. The former includes Glynis Johns, Dana Wynter and Sybil Thorndike. Thorndike is an upper class matron caught concealing an IRA soldier. She refuses to inform her contacts to the Brits and is thrown into Mountjoy Gaol, which housed so many patriots. She promptly goes on a hunger strike -and dies in prison. How very Irish- and allegorical. One is reminded of the patriot Terrence MacSwiney. By day, he was Lord Mayor of Cork. He was actually the local IRA commander! He too was tossed into a London prison and died on a hunger strike. (His case is notable because the Irish petitioned the Brits to allow his funeral cortege to pass through the streets of London on the way to the docks. The Brits actually granted the request! The result was a huge propaganda boost for the Irish cause. Londoners apparently were impressed with the young, spit and polished supporters of the demised!) Johns' role too is historical. Cagney suspects the barmaid/hanger on as an informer. Informers on both sides have had their own "history" in the Irish Troubles. My amazon friends will have to watch SHD to learn Johns' true sympathies. She is central to a stirring and deadly dockside shootout between the IRA and the Brits. This scene is one of the best this reviewer has seen anywhere! All the lads give a good account of themselves- in the finest traditions of both sides! Wynter too performs well as the kidnapped daughter of a Brit big shot. She is to be swapped for the Thorndike character but the hunger striker's death "complicates" matters. Some of us may remember Wynter from "Sink the Bismark!" Finally there is the matter of the Black and Tans. The Tans were a para-military group who went about randomly terrorizing Catholics or anyone remotely suspect of supporting the Republican cause. They were WWI vets who certainly would have been otherwise unemployed if not deployed to Ireland. The Tans remain a nasty blot on British Army to this day. There is so much more to the story of Ireland's troubles than "the Clancy Brothers and Irish rebel drinking songs" as a previous reviewer states. If only the Troubles were that prosaic. The curious should enjoy SHD-more so if they are able to connect the dots of Ireland's past. Those who know their Irish history should truly appreciate this under-shown film. Fair warning: SHD is unstintingly unsentimental. There is nary a trace of John Ford romanticism here. If those who have read this far wonder why only 4 stars are awarded, the answer lies in the unsatisfactory ending. Perhaps the Director got lost in the Collins/ de Valera allegory. Or perhaps he didn't know how to end the movie. The resolution of dealing with the kidnapped Wynter leads to a bizarre final scene that should not harm an otherwise superior historical movie. A final observation: This is one b/w film that should have been colorized. The Irish countryside looks much better in living color!

The All-Time Greatest Hits of Roy Orbison, Vols. 1 & 2
The All-Time Greatest Hits of Roy Orbison, Vols. 1 & 2
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 26.95
12 used & new from CDN$ 5.51

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Go Ahead! You Already Know the Words!, May 11 2004
There are few surprises here: This 20 track, 2 volume in one CD is a first rate compilation of Roy's golden years with Monument records in the early to mid 1960s. Naming favorite tracks is highly subjective, for each of us has our pet choices. Roy had so many hits and most were done his unique triple octave voice that led up to climactic fadeouts or endings. (This reviewer does not actually know what a "triple octave" voice is but I have heard it used often in referring to Roy). The best goldies from this viewpoint are "It's Over" and the ultimate climax song "In Dreams". Who else could hit that high note? Who else would dare attempt it? This reviewer also liked "Blue Bayou" and "I'm Hurtin". And yes, "Pretty Woman" is here too. Some amazon friends have complained that none of Roy's selections from his later years are included but those are beyond the scope of this CD. It is vital to note that amazon has an extensive (!) selection of Roy CDs. I don't know of any that match the value of this particular one. Why keep scrolling down? Why wait? Hit the "add to shopping cart" button. It's difficult to end a positive review on a negative note but the skimpy and thinly written informational jacket insert is truly pathetic! Surely Roy derves more respect!

Flamingo Road [Import]
Flamingo Road [Import]
VHS
5 used & new from CDN$ 15.40

4.0 out of 5 stars Sydney Steals It!, May 11 2004
This review is from: Flamingo Road [Import] (VHS Tape)
Most reviews of "Flamingo Road" center on the leading lady, Joan Crawford. Joan is cast as the good girl we should all root for. She does indeed play that role, but there is more to "Flamingo Road" than that: FR opens as a fly by night circus leaves town-one step ahead of the law. Joan is left behind and decides to stay in town. She quickly makes some wrong choices in men. They (Zachary Scott and David Brian) are both decent enough guys but her love interests place her on the wrong side of the local sheriff- an evil, smarmy. corpulent overbearing, elephantine Sydney Greenstreet. The pair are like oil and water as Greenstreet tries to run Joan out of town and she fights to stay. The opinion here is that Greenstreet steals the movie. It is true that his character is overdrawn and his acting overbearing. He virtually tears up certain scenes, but at times he makes the movie sizzle. Director Michael Curtiz had worked with SG before in films as "Casablanca" and "Passage to Marseille". Did Curtiz give SG free rein here or was he unable to control him? FR is highly recommended. Viewers will enjoy watching the central conflict play out. (This reviewer tries not to divulge endings). FR is yet another example of why old classics should not be colorized. The b&w filming is perfect background as the plot unfolds.

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20