Tag Archives: movie reviews



One Little IndianONE LITTLE INDIAN (1973) – Light-hearted family western. James Garner portrays Corporal Clint Keyes, who, after clashing with his Indian-hating superior, escapes a potential hanging for it and rides off into the desert with a pair of camels left over from the ill-advised American Camel Corps attempt in the 1800s.

Clay O’Brien was the title character, Mark, a white boy who had been raised by Native Americans and who winds up tagging along with Keyes, Lone Wolf and Cub-style. Vera Miles plays the widowed Doris McIver and a very young Jodie Foster has the role of her daughter Martha. (“Why did you say that NAME!?”)

Morgan Woodward portrays the bad guy Sgt Raines, who relentlessly pursues Keyes to bring him back to be executed for mutiny and desertion. Robert Pine, Andrew Prine and Dallas‘ Jim Davis are in the cast as well. Naturally there’s a happy ending with Mark, the widow McIver and her daughter serving as a pre-packaged family for Garner’s character in the finale. Continue reading


Filed under FRONTIERADO, opinion


James Garner 2Balladeer’s Blog’s theme of Top 20 lists for the year 2020 continues with this look at a score of James Garner films. NOTE: The Great Escape is not included, only because Garner was part of an ensemble cast in that movie. 

Best remembered for his portrayal of slick-talking gambler/ gunslinger Brett Maverick and Westlake-esque private detective Jim Rockford, Garner inspired the term “marshmallow macho”. That description perfectly captured Garner’s special appeal.

James GarnerFor many American males James Garner and the characters he brought to life represented a happy medium between psychotically macho men and unbearably femmey men. I hate the term “role model” but for lack of a better choice that’s what we’ll go with.

In addition Garner served in the Korean War and won two Purple Hearts.

MaverickMAVERICK (1994) – Though James Garner was technically playing a supporting role to Mel Gibson in this film, Gibson was portraying Bret Maverick, the character Garner had turned into a sensation in the 1950s. Since this movie would not exist without the cultural cache built up by James’ portrayal of both Bret AND “Pappy” Beauregard Maverick (in old age makeup) this definitely counts as a Garner film.

NECESSARY SPOILER: The lawman character that Garner portrays in the film turns out to really be Pappy Maverick, with Mel Gibson’s Bret simply playing along with his father’s impersonation. FOR MY FULL-LENGTH REVIEW OF THIS FILM CLICK HERE   

Barbarians at the GateBARBARIANS AT THE GATE (1993) – In this telefilm based on the best-selling non-fiction book, Jim plays F. Ross Johnson, the real-life president of RJR-Nabisco who unleashed one of the most chaotic and frenzied leveraged buyouts in Wall Street history during the “greed is good” 1980s.

The real Ross Johnson was close with Warren Beatty and other major players in the entertainment industry, which may be why he gets painted in a less villainous light in the movie. (Being played by the ever-charming Garner certainly helps.) In reality FEWER jobs were lost by the ultimately triumphant Henry Kravis’ LBO plan than would have been lost if Johnson came out on top.

Teddy Forstmann, the lone Wall Street figure of the 80s who was a voice in the wilderness condemning LBOs and the damage they did to the economy, gets depicted as a virtual loon. Very odd, since Forstmann’s real-life views on LBOs were closer to the sentiments of Larry Gelbart and the others behind this flick than Johnson’s or Kravis’ were.

Ultimately Barbarians at the Gate is a dark comedy classic, it’s true, but read the book if you want the real low-down on the eventful RJR-Nabisco buyout. Continue reading


Filed under FRONTIERADO, opinion


MandyMANDY (2018) – For anyone who was alive back then, 1983 was apparently different than you remember. Panos Cosmatos directed and co-wrote this blood-soaked, trippy combination of Hellraiser, Father’s Day, Werewolves on Wheels and Thou Shalt Not Kill … Except.

Balladeer’s Blog readers who remember how much I enjoyed Cosmatos’ previous film Beyond the Black Rainbow will not be surprised to find that I love this prime example of a “love it or hate it” movie. Despite the story’s 1983 setting, Mandy is not quite as slavish a faux-80s piece as Beyond the Black Rainbow. This psychedelic work mixes in plenty of stylistic touches that are beyond anything a 1980s flick would have served up.

masc graveyard newThe soundtrack by the late Johann Johannsson is so effective it practically deserves a co-director credit. Meanwhile, serving as something of a humanoid special effect is madman-in-residence Nicolas Cage, who stars as Red Miller.

Red is a lumberjack, and he’s okay (Had to be said). He lives in a cabin in the idyllic forests of the Shadow Mountains with his true love, Mandy. The title character is played by Andrea Riseborough, who gives off a kind of creepy Sissy Spaceck/ Shelley Duvall vibe. Continue reading


Filed under Bad and weird movies, Halloween Season


masc chair and bottleBalladeer’s Blog takes a look at several controversial pieces of entertainment too edgy for the mainstream.

… BUT NAMES WILL NEVER HURT ME (2016) – Is it real? If it is, is it MEANT to be as funny as it is? Left-wingers and right-wingers try to shame into silence the contestants on a game show. This is done by calling them “racists” if they are pro-freedom of expression and “baby-killers” if they are pro-choice on abortion.  Real or fake, this game show is sure to offend almost everybody. Continue reading

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Filed under Fantastic Movie Reviews


The StrangerTHE STRANGER – Given the current uproar over the disastrous Chibnall retcon, Balladeer’s Blog takes a look at the “brief shining moment” when Colin Baker was starring in what is often called a bootleg Doctor Who series. Less antagonistic interpretations call the BBV series a pastiche or a knowing “homage” to Doctor Who.  

When The Stranger series of stories first came out it was a few years after the original run of Doctor Who was over. For the many Colin Baker fans who felt he got robbed of an opportunity to shine as the Doctor for reasons beyond his control, these episodes were basically just barely-concealed stories featuring Colin’s regeneration of the timelord from Gallifrey. 


*** Colin Baker went from playing an enigmatic traveler in time and space known only as the Doctor to playing an enigmatic traveler in time and space known only as the Stranger.     

Colin Baker*** The most popular companion of Baker’s Doctor was Peri Brown, played by Nicola Bryant. The Stranger’s companion was “Miss Brown,” played by Nicola Bryant.

*** The Doctor and his companions traveled in a time/space vehicle called the Tardis. The Stranger and his companions traveled in a never-seen vehicle coyly referred to as their “mode of transportation.” Continue reading


Filed under Forgotten Television


Balladeer’s Blog takes a look at some sites you’ll kick yourself for not visiting on a daily basis.


InfogalacticNature: Informational

Comment: Called “The planetary knowledge core,” Infogalactic.com proves you don’t ever need to use W-pedia OR the g-word. Well, you can use the g-word if you want search results that prioritize sites which PAY the g-barons to place them higher than sites that are actually more relevant to your search. And unlike W-pedia, Infogalactic.com doesn’t allow fools with an axe to grind to “edit” entries.


Ethan Van Sciver picNature: Irreverent takes on pop culture … and mummies

Comment: C.A.P.S. stands for Comic Artist Pro Secrets but don’t let that specificity fool you. Van Sciver is like a new King of All Media in the way that he irreverently addresses any and every pop culture topic that enters his crosshairs (And I think we all know how painful that can be). Called “Caesar” and “Uncle Ethan” by his fans, EVS’s YT channel makes for addictive viewing and/or listening. The jovial genius embodies the old clichés like “you know him, you love him, you can’t live without him.” Balladeer’s Blog’s regulars know that I know funny, and Ethan is hilarious! Continue reading


Filed under opinion


CasablancaCASABLANCA (1942) – Happy Valentine’s Day! A few readers of Balladeer’s Blog have asked me for my opinion on this classic movie so I figured Valentine’s Day was the perfect opportunity.

People are often surprised when I like movies that so many other people rate highly. I like plenty of the old, old classics, it’s just that I prefer to blog about much more offbeat and obscure items. My favorite film of all time is Citizen Kane. Really. But I’ve never reviewed it here because I wasn’t in the mood to write the 100 millionth glowing review of that particular movie.

masc chair and bottleGetting back to Casablanca, it’s possibly the greatest “bittersweet ending” romantic flick ever made. I find that it appeals to almost everyone. If you’re young and naïve it can make you ache at the thought of persevering despite your broken heart. If you’re older and cynical it makes you nostalgic for a time when you actually thought a broken heart was the worst thing that could happen to you. Continue reading


Filed under opinion