More Little Things

Leaves from my neighbor’s tree, our yard

I finally took a picture of autumn leaves. Now I have to get them out of the yard. The leaves on the trees in our yard have barely started to fall.


In my last post I commented on a trope found in murder mysteries. Well, I have another to discuss today.

Perhaps you have noticed those mysteries where the hero/heroine surreptitiously enters the home of someone. Often there will be a television or sound system playing. The protagonist, who doesn’t want to be caught, immediately turns off the sound coming from the electronic device. Why? Wouldn’t that notify the occupant that someone had entered their domicile?

We know that nobody will notice the lack of background noise because they are (GASP) dead. Gosh, we never saw that one coming. The only person surprised by this development is the body finder. It makes one wonder about the script writer’s skill.

I would be glad to hear any movie/TV tropes that cause you to sigh and shake your head. Feel free to comment.


I attended a concert by the Brubeck Brothers Quartet a few weeks ago, and it was great. If you like jazz, you should see them if they come to a venue near you. Everyone sitting around me had good things to say about the group. But I must admit that while I eavesdropped on their conversations during the intermission and after the concert, I felt that they were saying some of the most inane things I had ever heard.

But while I was driving home I realized how unkind my thoughts had been. I’m sure that if I attended a classical music concert, other people might find my opinions, while positive, vacuous. We all come to music in our own way. For me, I base my musical likes and dislikes on the skill of the artist(s) as well as their choice of repertoire. Others might have different criteria, and that is fine for them.

I’m still working on being a better, more tolerant person. I have a lot of work to do on that project.

Saturday movie #16

The Presidio
The Presidio

On Saturday I went back and re-watched one of my favorite mystery movies from the 1980’s, “The Presidio” starring Sean Connery, Mark Harmon, Meg Ryan and Jack Warden. The movie wasn’t universally loved, but I like it.

A murder on the U.S. Army base, The Presidio, brings together the base Provost Marshall, played by Sean Connery and a San Francisco detective played by Mark Harmon. Connery’s character had been the commanding officer of Harmon’s character, and when Harmon left the military they parted on bad terms. Meg Ryan played Connery’s daughter who became romantically involved with Harmon’s character. Jack Warden played Connery’s best friend, a retired Sgt. Major.

Sean Connery plays…well…Sean Connery. He has an excellent fight scene, though he doesn’t quite keep his word to his opponent. He comes close. Mark Harmon is much younger, of course, than his character on the TV show NCIS. He also shows a lot more emotion. I think that this was the first movie in which I saw Meg Ryan. That’s because I have never watched the movie “Top Gun.” I know that is hard to believe, but so far I have been able to insulate myself from that particular Tom Cruise movie. Of course, Jack Warden puts in his normal yeoman-like performance.

It occurs to me that the only negative comment I have received directly from a reader was in response to a comment I made about Meg Ryan a few years ago. I have learned my lesson to never say anything that might upset one of her fans. If it helps, I am one of her fans. So please take the next paragraph as pure befuddlement on my part.

I don’t know if it was the editing, but I felt like I was missing scenes in the movie. I may need to buy a copy of the movie to see if I’m truly missing something. Also, it seemed like Meg Ryan’s character was all over the lot emotionally. I didn’t understand what her motivation was for some of her actions. But I still enjoy the movie, so if you get a chance, watch it. Oh! And they solve the murder.

Saturday movie #15

Ocean's Eleven
Ocean’s Eleven

I wanted to watch the original “Ocean’s Eleven” that starred Frank Sinatra and other members of the Rat Pack. Though it was titled “Ocean’s 11,” using the digits rather than the word. I wasn’t able to see it because I don’t own it and our library doesn’t have a copy. I hadn’t seen that version in years, and I guess I won’t be watching it any time soon. More’s the pity.

Still, I have to admit a fondness for the updated Ocean’s movie. The fact that I am a  fan of George Clooney, Matt Damon and Don Cheadle has very little to do with it, except that they drew me in to see the film in the first place. It has a well written script, a fine director, and the ensemble cast works well together.

And it is a caper film! Or is it a con film? Or is it a heist film? Is there a difference? Those are good questions, and I don’t know the answers. I just know that I love caper/con/heist movies. Any time there are unforseen twists in the plot, I like it. If humor is involved, I like it even more. And happy endings are always good. “Ocean’s Eleven” has all of those elements.

Now I just have to find time to watch “Ocean’s Twelve” and “Ocean’s Thirteen.”

Saturday movie#14

The Net
The Net

Saturday I watched “The Net” starring Sandra Bullock and Jeremy Northam. Dennis Miller also had a significant role. The movie was released in 1995. The DVD was released in 1997.

I suppose you could call this movie a cyber-thriller, though I prefer just plain  thriller. I’m funny that way. The film has been lauded as one of the first movies to point out the dangers of using the Internet for identity theft, and other things scary. It was well done. I thought that it was more realistic than “Hackers” which was also released in 1995. That movie starred Angelina Jolie and Johnny Lee Miller. Miller, of course, now stars as Sherlock Holmes in “Elementary.”

A lot of the computer graphics seem lame by today’s standards, but it was the 1990’s. Things have changed so much, so quickly,since then. For instance, it seems jarring to me to see them using dial-up modems. I don’t know if they were using 14.4 kbit/s or 28.8 kbit/s. I do remember how excited I was when I switched to the 28.8, and later to the 33.6. They are also using 3.5″ floppy discs in the movie. And yet, as out of date as the technology is in the movie, I love it. I think that I love it because it melds believable technology threats with an old-fashioned good guy/girl vs villain thriller. The fact that it gives me a nostalgic feeling also is a reason for me to love the movie.

I remember recommending this movie to a person I’ll call him Dickie because I don’t know anyone named Dickie. Dickie was about to buy his first PC. He watched the movie and dropped his plans to buy the PC for at least two years. That is the power of the media, and a well told thriller.

If, like me, you enjoy watching old movies, I highly recommend this one.


Saturday movie #13

Marathon Man
Marathon Man

This past Saturday I went back to an old favorite movie, “Marathon Man” starring Dustin Hoffman, Laurence Olivier, Roy Scheider, William Devane, and Marthe Keller. This thriller, released in 1976, touches on many of the themes that catch my attention. There is conspiracy, betrayal,  really evil villains, love interest, and an underdog who is dragged into the whole thing against his will.

Anybody who watches television in these times know that the levels of violence have increased in a major way. But I have to say that much of the violence in this movie, from forty years ago, make me cringe and want to look away. In fact, I found myself walking out of the room when a particular part of the movie rolled around. I’m pretty sure my youngest granddaughter would call it boring, but it bothers me. It is, perhaps, because I am older and prefer some things left to my imagination. Or maybe I’m just a wimp with old fashioned ideas.

William Goldman wrote the screenplay from his novel of the same name. Goldman has written the screenplays of many of my favorite movies such as, “Harper,” “Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid,” “Papillion,” “The Stepford Wives,” and “All the President’s Men.” He has probably written others that are among your favorites. After all, he started writing screenplays in 1965 and is still writing them. In my opinion, he is a master of his craft. I hope he continues writing them for a long time.

I am sure that you have detected the theme that most of the movies I watch are from the 20th century. It isn’t that I don’t watch newer films, but I tend to use my Saturdays to re-watch movies that I know will please me. Some times, when I try something that I haven’t seen before, I am disappointed, that is why I usually watch something tried and true.

If you can handle the violence, I recommend “Marathon Man” highly.

Saturday movie #12

Legal Eagles
Legal Eagles

I went back to our collection of DVDs to choose one Saturday. I decided on “Legal Eagles,” and it was a good choice. The movie was released in 1986 and starred Robert Redford, Debra Winger and Darly Hannah. Brian Dennehy and Terrence Stamp also had key roles in the film.

I think that the movie is best described as a mystery/thriller/romantic comedy; though I didn’t think it was a head-scratching mystery. Maybe I’ve watched so many mysteries over the years that I’m seldom puzzled anymore; or maybe I just have a devious mind.

It has been a long time since I watched a movie with Debra Winger that wasn’t a drama, and so I was pleasantly reminded how good she is when being comedic. Redford, who is also at ease with comedy, seems to me to keep it low-key so that the transition back to drama is never jarring. Together, you get more chuckles than guffaws, and I like that.

The movie was directed and partially written by Ivan Reitman. To me, he is best known for producing and directing “Ghostbusters,” as well as producing and writing “Animal House.” He has worked both in film and television, live action and animation.

If you enjoy light-hearted films, I suggest that you watch “Legal Eagles.”

Saturday movie #11

Kiss Me Deadly
Kiss Me Deadly

Usually on Saturdays I choose a movie from the DVDs that Cindy and I have accumulated over the years. This past weekend, however, I decided to try a movie from our county library’s holdings. I checked out a copy of “Kiss Me Deadly” starring Ralph Meeker.

At first glance it You might think that this would be a movie that I loved, since it is touted as a film noir classic. It is a black and white movie released in 1955, and was directed by Robert Aldrich. The movie is based on a novel by Mickey Spillane, and stars his character Mike Hammer who is played by Ralph Meeker.

I didn’t like the movie. I should like the movie. I understand that it was selected for preservation by the Library of Congress because it is culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant. Maybe it is historically significant, but I can’t believe that anyone would find it culturally or aesthetically significant.

Here are the positives that I found in the film: 1) It opens with Cloris Leachman (in her first film role) running barefoot down a two-lane highway, trying to flag down a ride. She has on a trench coat, and supposedly nothing else. 2) Jack Elam has a small part. Any time that Jack Elam is in a film is a positive. 3) There are some interesting camera angles and sites with photogenic staircases. 4) There is no number 4.

Here are some of the negatives for me. 1) The movie is based on a Mickey Spillane novel. I have tried many times to read and enjoy Spillane novels, and have never succeeded. I have liked two of the actors who played Mike Hammer on television: Darren McGavin and Stacey Keach, but I still didn’t like the character. 2) I don’t believe that all of the plot points were resolved. But I have to admit that I dozed off for a bit in the middle of the film. Maybe everything I didn’t understand was explained in that five or so minutes when I was spared from watching. 3) If you think that Donald Trump has trouble with women, show this movie to a group of women and they will burn down the studio. 4) I don’t know whether to blame the bad acting on the actors or the director. I thought about pointing out one portrayal in particular, but I don’t want to speak ill of the dead.

Next week I’m going back to a film that I have on hand.

Saturday movie #10

Junior Bonner
Junior Bonner

On Saturday evening I watched a Steve McQueen movie, “Junior Bonner.” I like this movie a lot. It has been a number of years since I last watched it. The movie stars McQueen in the title role. In the movie he plays a rodeo cowboy who travels from rodeo to rodeo in his old convertible, towing his horse trailer. He arrives in Prescott, Arizona, his home town,to take part in he rodeo. There he reconnects with his father Ace, played by Robert Preston; his mother Ellie, played by Ida Lupino; and his brother Curly, played by Joe Don Baker. There are other familiar faces in the cast, such as Dub Taylor as the bartender, Ben Johnson as Buck Roan, and Bill McKinney as a friendly rival in the rodeo.

Sam Peckinpah directed the movie. I must say that this was the least violent film directed by him that I can remember. In fact, there is only one person in the film whom I found to be unlikable. I don’t know, but you might even like that person.

Don’t get me wrong; there is conflict, but for the most part it takes place in the dialogue and shows in the acting. While some punches are thrown, nobody seems to hold a grudge. The most violent exchanges occur in the rodeo ring between cowboys and bulls.

Why do I like the movie? Part of the reason is the acting performances. Also, it was released back in the early 1970’s, before CGI took over the movie industry. Issues are raised that have no easy solutions, and the movie doesn’t pretend to have the solutions. In the end, McQueen’s character tries to do what he thinks is best for the individual members of his family. Who can do more than that?

Saturday movie #9

The Invisible Man
The Invisible Man

After Indiana University’s disappointing loss to North Carolina in the NCAA tournament Friday night, I decided to watch a light-hearted movie from the 1930’s. So I chose “The Invisible Man.” It is a movie about a scientist who experimented upon himself, and while successful, drove himself mad. Cheery, don’t you think?

The movie starred Claude Rains in his first Hollywood movie. He had a large speaking part, but it was hard to tell if his facial expressions went along with the words. Gloria Stuart played the perpetually distraught fiancée, Flora. Henry Travers plays Flora’s un-mad scientist father, and William Harrigan is her unlucky suitor, Kemp.

There are many extras who play buffoonish police constables and villagers. All seem to have amazing faces. Una O’Connor plays the wife of the pub owner. John Carradine has a small, uncredited part as one of the villagers. Also, Walter Brennan had an uncredited part. To be honest, I didn’t recognize Brennan until I did a spot check in Wikipedia.

The movie was directed by James Whale, who is best known to me as the director of “Frankenstein,” which was made two years prior to “The Invisible Man.” He also directed “The Bride of Frankenstein,” “Showboat,” and “The Man In The Iron Mask” among many others.

The story is loosely based on the book of the same name by H.G. Wells. I don’t know what Wells thought of the movie, but it is said that he generally thought his books would not translate well to film.

One last thing, when the movie started I was struck that the opening music was the same as in the Flash Gordon serials starring Buster Crabbe; the first of which was made seven years after “The Invisible Man.” . I love that music! Oh, and I like the moviea lot as well.

Saturday movie #8

Hour Of The Gun
Hour Of The Gun

I had hadn’t planned on watching “Hour Of The Gun” on Saturday. Because high school and college basketball is in the final tournament stage of the season, I had planned on watching “Hoosiers,” the best basketball film of all time. But, I first watched my Indiana Hoosiers beat Kentucky in the NCAA tournament, and I knew that “Hoosiers” would be anti-climactic. So I went with “Hour Of The Gun.”

There have been many movies concerning the battles between the Earp brothers, led by Wyatt, and the Clantons. The first that I remember seeing was “My Darling Clementine” starring Henry Fonda as Wyatt Earp. There was also “Gunfight At The O.K. Corral,” “Tombstone,” and “Wyatt Earp.” There have been more, but those are the ones that I remember.

“Hour Of The Gun” is unlike most of these movies in that it begins with the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and moves forward from there. I particularly like this movie for the actors who played Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, James Garner and Jason Robards. It seems to me that they brought a feeling of true friendship to the film. They would criticize each other, but at the end, despite their differences, they were there for each other. The other films that I mentioned also had memorable Earp/Holliday duos: Henry Fonda and Victor Mature, Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas, Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer, and of course Kevin Costner and Dennis Quaid. If Garner and Robards was the most satisfying duo for me, Costner and Quaid was the least. That’s just my opinion.

None of the movies is completely historically accurate, though “Hour Of The Gun” comes close in many respects. Dramatic license is always issued in movies that are based in fact. If you watch it, I think that you’ll like it.

I’ll get around to watching “Hoosiers” some other time.