Category Archives: Fantastic Movie Reviews

KID RUSSELL: EPISODE FOUR

For Episode One plus background information click HERE  For a look at the Kid Russell legend click HERE 

William Smith Kid Russell 2

William Smith would have made a good Kid Russell in the 60s.

KID RUSSELL

EPISODE FOUR

Title: Vigilante Justice

The Year: 1884

Synopsis: By April of 1884 the cattle ranchers of Montana are so plagued by rustlers that they are willing to form vigilante groups for the first time since the Montana Gold Rush days of the 1860s. Granville Stuart gathers at least 14 men around himself to take the law into their own hands against the rampant rustling. Continue reading

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Filed under Fantastic Movie Reviews, FRONTIERADO

KID RUSSELL: EPISODE TWO

For Episode One plus background information click HERE

William Smith Kid Russell 2

William Smith would have made a good Kid Russell in the 60s.

KID RUSSELL

EPISODE TWO

Title: LUCKY BOY

The Year: 1882

Synopsis: We move on to the period in which future artist Kid Russell was working for the famed Jake “Lucky Boy” Hoover. Lucky Boy was a former prospector turned trapper, guide and professional big game hunter. After having been fired by his previous employer in 1881 (see Episode One), Russell struck up a friendship with Hoover.

William Smith good Kid Russell 2During the two years that Kid Russell worked for Lucky Boy, he learned all about trapping and hunting, though he never fully warmed up to either trade, however, since he preferred painting wildlife to blood-sports. He took much more enthusiastically to learning the survival lore that went hand-in-hand with them.

Charley’s favorite of all the businesses he and Lucky Boy pursued was serving as guides for wealthy Easterners as well as European and Russian Nobility and tycoons, many of whom flocked to the Montana area in the 1880s. These magnates and blue-bloods loved vacationing in the already romantic Wild West and enjoyed the scenery plus the big-game hunting. (See the Euro-Western Shalako as well as The Hunting Party for the kind of dangers such expeditions could encounter.)  Continue reading

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Filed under Fantastic Movie Reviews, FRONTIERADO, Spaghetti Westerns

KID RUSSELL: THE TELEVISION SERIES – EPISODE ONE

Kid Russell

Self-portrait by Kid Russell

With the Frontierado Holiday coming up in just over a month and a half, Balladeer’s Blog decided to whet readers’ appetites with this look at a gritty cable western series based on the real-life gunslinger turned artist Kid Russell (Charles Marion Russell).

As always, Frontierado is about the myth of the American West, not the grinding reality. This ties it in with Balladeer’s Blog’s examinations of myth and folklore and the ways in which the human tendency toward embellishment crafts everything from religious lore to heroic legends.

Even in the 1800s the exploits of real-life gunslingers were being exaggerated in Dime Novels or overblown newspaper accounts to the degree that the surviving tales of Western figures often bear little resemblance to their actual lives. Television added another layer of distortion as the need for weekly stories saw Western shows presenting the likes of Doc Holliday, Wild Bill Hickok, Bat Masterson and many others in adventures that dropped all pretense of being based on anything “real.”

Even a figure like Annie Oakley, who actually saw no action against outlaws, was depicted fighting crime out west in a weekly series. In that same spirit here’s my presentation of how the framework of fictional adventures can be used to familiarize modern audiences with occasional facts about the adventurers themselves.

William Smith good Kid RussellKID RUSSELL (Cable Series) – “Before he made the art, he LIVED it!” would be the kind of eye-rolling advertising tagline that one could picture being used for a show like this. I’m not implying any disrespect to Kid Russell or his artistic legacy. Regular readers of Balladeer’s Blog are familiar with my regard for the man. (FOR MY LOOK AT THE KID RUSSELL LEGEND CLICK HERE )

I can’t help but speculate that the Kid’s fondness for “windies” would make him smile at the kind of concentrated embellishment I’m about to bring to his real-life adventures. Russell’s famously coy line about how he “… never said how law-abiding I was or wasn’t” made many of the wildest legends about the man seem like there might be more than a kernel or two of truth to them.     Continue reading

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Filed under Fantastic Movie Reviews, FRONTIERADO

GLADIATOR: AN OPERA VERSION OF PHILIP WYLIE’S NOVEL

GladiatorEven though there are signs here and there that audiences are getting fatigued with the oversaturation of superhero adaptations for the big and small screens, there still doesn’t seem to be any end in sight.

What better time for an OPERA version of Philip Wylie’s science fiction novel Gladiator, from 1930? Wylie’s work is often credited with inspiring the creation of Superman and every other superhero that followed.

Long before the overrated and overpraised Alan Moore wrote The Watchmen, this very first look at a superhero presented the figure struggling with the moral issues regarding the use of his superior abilities.

Gladiator 2The central character uses his powers in World War One but afterward must cope with the limits of “super-powers” when it comes to dealing with political corruption and other problems that can’t be solved with violence. Or in which flexing his super-muscles would be counter-productive, maybe even ushering in a dictatorship.

In other words, the same type of stories which today are praised as “innovative” for “deconstructing the superhero mythos” WERE ALREADY EXPLORED IN THIS NOVEL EIGHTY-NINE YEARS AGO! 

As a break from movie and television superhero tales I think an Opera format would be an intriguing and unexpected way of adapting Gladiator. Let’s face it – if it was done for television or movies today it would be criticized as “derivative” (irony of ironies) and “talky.”

Gladiator 4 Man God

Marvel Comics’ 1976 adaptation

That talkyness would slide nicely into a staged opera since, as I often point out in my examinations of 1970s Marvel stories, operas – like many comic books – are filled with lengthy expository monologues, but in song form. (There are countless “senses-shattering” origin stories and villain rants that are sung in operas.) 

Think of this piece as a way of using the familiar superhero formula to encourage more people to “give opera a chance.” I love sharing my enthusiasms and I was very happy with the reception of those blog posts where I wrote about Ancient Greek Comedies to make them seem relevant. I want to try doing the same with operas.

Many people may disagree, but operas and superheroics are made for each other. Look at all the operas adapted from tales of ancient gods or other mythical supernatural figures. When you get right down to it, every larger-than life hero or heroine in any given story can be interpreted from a superhero angle. Continue reading

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Filed under Fantastic Movie Reviews, Superheroes

ASK BALLADEER: WHATEVER HAPPENED TO “AGENTS OF I.S.L.A.M?”

Mascot FOUR original pics

Balladeer’s Blog

As ever I’m all about you readers, so here’s another edition of Ask Balladeer. Many of you have been asking whatever happened to my mock t.v. series Agents of I.S.L.A.M.

Now that’ll take ya back!

Actually, that non-existent program was just a maneuver of mine years ago when my blog posts about Muslim fanatics were temporarily being shadow-banned. That conflict has been over and done with for a long time now, so I won’t dredge it back up by mentioning specific sites that were doing it.

What happened was they had started screening and blocking any blog posts from me which included the words “Muslim” or “Islam.” Since they thought I was being “controversial” by writing about those violent attacks I then played a game of being even MORE outrageous, getting the point across but without ever using the words “Muslim” or “Islam.”

The result was my series of mock reviews about episodes of a non-existent television series called Agents of I.S.L.A.M. (Intolerant Savages Loathing All Modernity)

Without using the two trigger words I would go on and on describing these Agents of I.S.L.A.M. and their attacks on innocent people. With tongue in cheek I even used to pretend to be baffled about what particular religion, if any, the deadly agents of the title belonged to.

In the end a compromise was reached. The offending sites agreed not to shadow-ban EVERY post I made regardless of subject matter as long as I went back to my usual, less sensational Muslim Fascist Atrocity Roundup format. They also agreed not to shadow-ban THOSE blog posts anymore. And we’ve all kept our ends of the bargain since. 

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Filed under Fantastic Movie Reviews, LIBERALS AND CONSERVATIVES, opinion

A GOLEM BATTLES HAMAS: 21st CENTURY GOLEM

It seemed like a good time for a quick take on each individual episode of the cableGolem of Prague series 21st Century Golem. For two seasons that edgy, irreverent show presented Jewish folklore’s clay monster the Golem defending Israeli children and the elderly from blood-crazed Hamas butchers with time out to battle the Muslim Brotherhood and Boko Haram for good measure.

The pro-Hamas Barack Obama was the blustering comic-relief villain of the series and the actor portraying him has since been subjected to an IRS audit. Here’s a look at the highest-rated cable series in history!

EPISODE ONE – “21st Century Golem” – In the premier episode a Rabbi in Israel brings the clay monster called the Golem to life to fulfill its usual mission of protecting Jews from the hatemongers who always want them dead.

The Golem heroically fights off dozens of murderous Hamas child-killers, but Pallywood – the Hamas propoganda arm – tries to make it seem like the Golem is to blame for all the violence. Barack Obama is the only world leader fooled by this and he calls on the U.N. to denounce Israel, which it does with giddy abandon. FOR THE FULL REVIEW CLICK HERE:  https://glitternight.com/2013/10/25/twenty-first-century-golem-new-cable-tv-series/

EPISODE TWO – “Tears Fall From the Sky” – A group of delusional college students from America show up to show their solidarity with Hamas despite Hamas’ misogyny and homophobia. In a possible reference to the real-life Rachel Corrie incident the episode featured the college students summoning up the ghost of a naive young woman who died showing her devotion to terrorism. Continue reading

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ZOMBIES OF MONTICELLO (2013)

Thomas JeffersonBy reader request here’s my semi-regular Halloween Season blog post Zombies of Monticello, my mock movie review. I first ran this in 2013, but it may not seem as irreverent this year in the wake of the large-scale criticism of Thomas Jefferson.

ZOMBIES OF MONTICELLO (2013) – Halloween month continues at Balladeer’s Blog with this review of cult director Eddie Wozniak’s blood-soaked combination of horror and commentary.

Learn the REAL cause of Thomas Jefferson’s death on July 4th, 1826! On the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence the zombified corpses of all of Jefferson’s dead slaves rise from their graves and besiege him and his extended family in the Jefferson mansion at Monticello!

The pompous hypocrite who penned noble words about freedom and equality while OWNING other human beings tries everything to wipe out the undead legions pressing in on all sides. Continue reading

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Filed under Bad and weird movies, Fantastic Movie Reviews, Halloween Season, humor