Thursday, April 30, 2009

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Newsreel: Sen. Huey Long

For some reason I have taken in interest in a very ancient way of digesting news. This ancient way is referred to as the Newsreel. Certainly in the days before TV this is the primary reason beyond probably radio or newspapers that people got their news. Like short subjects consisting of movie serials, comedies, or even cartoons these presentations would precede the feature film. Even better some of these newsreels were attractions at those theaters dedicated to exhibiting newsreels.

In an era where people can often produce pieces of original citizen journalism I wouldn't mind if these types of media made a comeback. People with a video camera and decenting videographing and editing skills can share their vids even if such work won't proceed the main attraction. Especially if we have tools like YouTube to share this work.

In any event this newsreel comes to us courtesy of Paramount News. I'm sure most of us have heard of at least FOX Movietone News, especially if we've seen them on either AMC (when they actually showed classic movies) or even on FOX News Channel when there was an hour devoted to showing old FOX newsreels on the weekends.

Anyway this story was a documentary on the life of former Louisiana Governor and US Senator Huey Long. There is a lot of discussion of the man and his role in Louisiana and future aspirations of this very brash and bold politician. It was thought that he might be a candidate for President in 1936 until he was shot in the Louisiana state capitol where he contiued to hold his sway. That's where this newsreels ends talking about the assassination and footage of his casket leaving the grounds of the Louisiana capitol.

I hope that I can show more newsreels in the future.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

The vid you see is the film trailer.

I finally saw it last night on TCM. It started off so great and then bam here comes trouble. The only thing that made Jimmy Stewart's character, Sen. Jefferson Smith a US Senator was a coin toss. Turn out that Governor may have chosen the wrong man for the job.

He finds himself ridiculed, a picture of him pinching his nose with the headline taking a wiff of Washington was published in the newspaper. Man, when he saw a person laughing reading the paper he took a punch at all of them. Not exactly good conduct for a new US Senator. But that wasn't the real test.

It was when he wanted to right legislation for securing some land for his Boy Rangers group. Unfortunately the land to be set aside was to be used by the prevaling political machine in Smith's home state. And this sets aside the betrayal.

The betrayal was set aside by Smith's senior Senate colleague, Sen. Joseph Paine, who was helped along in his career by the machine. He doesn't want to go after Smith. Apparently Smith's father and Paine go back a few years. The betrayal is about Smith owning the land in question for his boy rangers and Washington really has a field day with these accusations.

At the best of his secretary, Clarissa Saunders we see Smith engage in a fillibuster. And that's how the film ends, Mr. Smith collapses as he vows to continue his fillibuster. Paine attempts to kill himself but confesses that hes not fit to sit in that august body and to the trickery. Looks like Mr. Smith has won his first victory.

In this film well we do see some black faces. One that sticks out in my mind is one with a little black boy who is a member of the Boy Rangers. He is active in helping the Boy Rangers get some news out about Sen. Smith. Unfortunately the political machine is making sure that only negative news gets out about Smith so this black boy had his wagon run right over.

Other boy rangers in this movie well had their papers and newsletter snatched from them by the machine. They even went to their presses to take away messages with one of the Boy Rangers getting a nice slap across the face for standing in his way. One can only expect mild behavior like this in places where freedom of speech can be taken away on a whim.

There's nothing very childish about this movie. Realistic in some ways yes, and still relevant because there are still corrupt politicians amongst us. Perhaps there are no political machines today that can excert the force that the one in this movie was able to.

I was pondering this. Because I watched Duck Soup one night this week. It seems movies during the Golden Age of Hollywood ended suddenly. Mr. Smith goes to Washington ends with Smith collapsing his victory won and colleague having a breakdown. Then here's "THE END"!

Todays movie endings seem to meander. It's like a conclusion to sum up the points of an essay, but back in the late 30s the conclusion was more the action then a summing up. Sometimes I wish we can go back to that style.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
I've gotta find this movie

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Woe to Wo Fat

I've followed this season often on either Me-TV in Chicago or their sister station Me-Too. They offer many classic series and if possible I try not to miss Hawaii Five-0. Better yet I watch this program on video on demand services such as Fancast. The best dramatic police series I've ever seen and it makes me say that they don't make good TV like they used to. I was too young to even know this program even existed.

Watching this clip there probably are those who can't tell that that show was once a great program. Even the best series loses some quality at some point. That moment might start with, whenever the show "jumps the shark".

Of course what causes a TV program to "jump the shark" is subjective at best. I can't tell you when this program jumped the shark. Perhaps it was when many of the important characters of the show left. Perhaps when Chin was murdered or the departure of Danny Williams. At some point the quality will go to despite good efforts to bring back quality.

That being said, I know this scene is from the very last episode of Five-0. I heard some not so very flattering things about the fight scene. Jack Lord and Khiegh Dhiegh were showing their age in playing their respective roles of Steve McGarret and Wo Fat. For some that might ruin this fight scene. Some will even say that there shouldn't even be a fight scene between these two characters as their on-screen antagonism is often more mental than physical.

What was very comical about the last minutes of Five-0 as a running TV program was watching Wo Fat in a cell in a classic striped prison suit. That just made the ending of this show silly. Was such outfits even in use by 1980 and Wo Fat isn't exactly in prison yet just booked and sent to jail with his day in court coming.

Perhaps if the program ended a few years earlier, there could have been a much better series finale. Maybe we would know where Danny would go, perhaps Chin could have been offed in a very dramatic fashion. At that point the fourth member of the team was Duke who knows what the future would have in store for him. Perhaps the Governor announces his retirement. Just a few ideas.

There are often rumors that the series could be revived, even a feature film. I just hope that who even develops either project won't insult some of the good work made by the creators and crew of this great TV police series.

Hawaii Five-0 Home Page