Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Hot Time in the Old Town





 This is my entry in the 6th Annual Golden Boy Blogathon hosted by The Wonderful World of Cinema and The Flapper Dame





The 50's were a different time altogether.  One can look at the average 50's drama and either wax nostalgic for lost innocence or maybe cringe at the closed-minded mores that governed what constituted "polite" society.  I have to admit I would probably have not fit in well in the 50's.  But then again, that stems from an upbringing that began sometime around 1970 (when I would have been 8, BTW).

Even so, those halcyon days did have a few things going for it that you would be hard pressed to find in today's world.  In the 50's people actually did things like give an itinerant bum a meal for doing a few chores around the house. And people did not look askance, and with a touch of suspicion at said stranger when he showed up.

William Holden, the aforementioned "bum", was 37 when this movie was made.  Not sure how old he is supposed to be in this film. For the sake of talking about the character, I'm going to say his character, Hal, is about 25, though.  Hal went to college (but flunked out in his junior year) and did a stint in the Army, and then bummed around for a bit.

But Holden looks damn good for 37, especially when his shirt is off.  According to my research, they had to shave his chest for those scenes.  (Possibly because they couldn't convincingly dye the hair on his chest good enough so it looked convincingly young?)

Picnic is based on an original play written by William Inge, a playwright who had some limited success on Broadway with four big hits, but later in life fell into depression because he felt nothing ever lived up to his first successes. Sad note: that depression eventually led to him committing suicide in 1973. 





Picnic (1955):

Pulling in to an unnamed town in Kansas (the opening train scene was filmed in Salina, as noticed by the sign on a building as it comes into town, but most of the film was shot in Hutchison), a train conductor lets Hal (William Holden) out of one of the cargo cars.  Hal tells the conductor he has a bigwig friend in town that he has come to see.  The conductor is, not surprisingly, unconvinced, but wishes him luck anyway.  Hal goes to use a nearby creek to wash up and then wanders in to town.

He sees young Millie (Susan Strasberg) playing in her yard, and while he watches her, the neighbor Mrs. Potts (Verna Felton) invites him in for a meal.  He repays the hospitality by doing some yard work.  Which is an excuse for him to take off his shirt.  Which garners attention from the whole family of girls next door; Millie, Madge (Kim Novak), and their mom, Flo (Betty Field).  As well as town schoolteacher, Rosemary (Rosalind Russell).



Mrs. Potts and Flo


Madge has a part time boy friend, Alan (Cliff Robertson), but she also has several admirers, including "Bomber" (Nick Adams).  She has plenty of potential prospects, obviously, but her mother says her time is short.  She only has her looks to snare a man for a short time because it is a quick leap from 20 to 40.  (She is just 19 at the time of the film).

Mom tells her that they made a mistake doting on her as a child, and that she spends more time and attention on Millie because she doesn't want to make the same mistakes.  She also tells her that she should get serious with Alan, because marriage to him, he being the richest prospect in town, would be a good thing for her.

(The idea that a woman is nothing on her own and needs to be married to be important in life is one of the issues I struggle with in watching 50's films.  But fortunately, that is one of the issues that this film addresses and, I think, attempts to dismantle, in it's own way.)

It turns out that Alan is the "old friend" that Hal has in town, so his tale of having a bigwig friend he told the conductor at the beginning is actually true.  Hal goes to Alan seeking out a job.  Hal has dreams of a cushy office job, but Alan tells him if he comes to work he'll basically have to start off small. Like as a laborer.

 At a local swimming hole, all the girls are entranced by this sexy new guy in town.  Millie tells her friends that Hal is taking her to the picnic. Although Millie is only about 15, if my math is right (Madge is 4 years older than Millie), and Hal is not interested in her other than just as a friend tagging along to the picnic, even Millie exhibits some attraction to him.

Mom is starting to get a little put off by Hal.  She wonders how he ever got in to college (it was a football scholarship), and how come the fraternity he joined with Alan pledged him, since apparently in those days fraternities usually had a little more :breeding" in their selection of candidates. (Mom is starting to show her feathers as an elitist, surprising since she is not in such an elitist environment.)

She is not the only elitist in the film.  Alan's father disapproves of Madge because she is from a lower economic class.  But elitism is not the main focal point of the film.  I may or may not be in the minority on this (and it's possible I am getting different signals, since this movie is often described as a tender and old-fashioned film), but I think there are a lot of proto-feminist ideas being put forth, at least in subtext.  The film seems to be saying that the old-fashioned view that women are nothing without a man in their lives is outdated. 

After all, Madge is resistant to the idea that she is only supposed to marry for the advancement of her status in town.  And Rosemary, who is on the verge of becoming the classic spinster and old maid, is desperate to get married. Not because she wants a man in her life, necessarily, else why should she try to latch on to a guy like Howard (Arthur O'Connell), who doesn't seem like all that much of a catch to me? Even Flo, as the mother whose husband left her to raise her two girls alone, seems to be a counterpoint to that tradition in the way she is portrayed.

The picnic scenes include several classic contests, none of which add to the movie in any way, but are apparently needed to convey the old-fashioned feeling of the small town  tradition. (And at least one reviewer I read during the preparations for this blog suggests that the director just took advantage of the use of the extras at a real celebration where he was filming to bulk up the film...)  But as the day winds down, we get a little more insight into the character of Hal and who he thinks he is (or who he wishes he was...) Never having become the man he wants to be in real life, he is not averse to building himself up in the eyes of the people with whom he is hanging out.

But is Hal anymore guilty than anyone else? It feels like everyone else in town is either running from their past, hiding from the future, or both. Alan seems to struggling with living up to his father's ideals Rosemary is, well, worried about becoming an old maid. Millie seems to hide behind books because she has to compete with her older sister who is "the pretty one" ( I kept expecting her to say "Everyone loves Madge. It's always Madge. Madge, Madge, Madge!) and she has to settle for what she can get. Flo has worries about her daughters futures because of the things she went through in her own past.  The only one who really seems comfortable in his own life is Howard..

At the end of the picnic is a dance.  Hal dances with Millie, which causes Madge to become a little jealous and she ends up dancing with Hal. (And James Wong Howe's lighting of this scene is one of the more impressive, because the camera makes the scene look more like a painting than an actual movie scene).  And Rosemary, who is getting drunk, decides she wants to dance with Hal, too.  But Hal rejects her advances and she tears his shirt in the struggle. And when Millie gets sick, and is discovered to have been drinking, Rosemary tries to pin the blame on Hal.

Hal, struggling with his own demons, to be sure, is becoming less and less enamored of this idyllic setting. He leaves the picnic, but Madge tags along. The relationship between Madge and Hal comes to a head, because Madge, like nearly all the women in the town, finds herself attracted to Hal. But Madge's attraction is more than just superficial.  Made likes the way that Hal doesn't make her feel like just a pretty face and nice figure. And the two kiss.

Meanwhile, on the other side of town, Rosemary confronts Howard, making him come to a final decision over their long-term courtship. She insists that Howard HAS to marry her, and thus, we find that even Howard has his own little fears about the future.  As he he tells Rosemary, sometimes, as time goes on, you become complacent with the lot in life you've been given,, "until it becomes too late to change".  (and thus, for me, Howard becomes the most relatable character, since his lot in life is similar to mine.)

When Hal returns Alan's car, the police are waiting at his house. It seems Alan is a bit perturbed that Hal has been horning in on his relationship with Madge and has filed a report that Hal stole the car (when, after all, Hal has been loaned the car by Alan). Hal has a scuffle with Alan and then runs, but is chased by the police. He manages to elude them and shows up at Howard's house, asking for Howard to let him stay the night, planning to leave town the next day.

There is a (somewhat) happy ending to it all, as eventually, most of the people facing bleak or uncertain futures do find fulfillment.  (Of sorts. Perhaps Howard's eventual change may not have been fulfilling enough for him as it was for Rosemary.  And I can identify with his resignation to go forward even if he was initially reluctant.) 

But that's not necessarily how it was planned out..  Apparently the original Inge play had a grimmer and starker ending,  Note: I got this information from Joe Bob Brigg's phenomenal treatise on "Sexy Movies That Changed History" Profoundly Erotic. Apparently the director, Joshua Logan, wanted a less bleak ending to the film than the playwright, William Inge, had initially conceived.  The play, as originally written, ended with Madge having turned into an old maid herself, rejected not only by Hal, but also having lost Alan's love, too, and is living a life in despair and shame.  This from the days when it was still a Broadway play.

 So some interesting tidbits of information I garnered;

First: Even though Holden himself thought he was too old for the role, he took it, mainly to fulfill a contract he had signed. It was the last one he had to make for the contract.  And he did not like his co-star Kim Novak all that much. And he had such a hard shoot with her, especially the scene where they had to dance. According to my info, he finally asked to be allowed to shoot that scene drunk, because it was the only way he could feel comfortable with dancing, especially with her.

And Novak, for her part, felt she was not quite adept enough for her role.  And it sometimes shows, if you ask me, The director apparently begged and pleaded to be able to cast someone (ANYBODY) else.  But producer was adamant that his new "ingenue" be given the primary role.  I personally was never that impressed with her as an actress.  Even Vertigo, which is probably considered her top performance, just never really clicked with me.

Rosalind Russell declined to be nominated for Best Supporting Actress in the movie because she felt her good days were still ahead of her and didn't want what she thought would be the death knell for her potential starring roles if she was classed in a "supporting actress" mold. And since at least two bravura performances were still in her future (in Auntie Mame and Gypsy) perhaps she wasn't wrong.

Cliff Robertson was just getting his start in the business. This was his first credited role.  And you know he had a pretty good career.  After all John F. Kennedy himself tagged Robertson as being the best choice to play him in P.T. 109 and he an Oscar for Charly.

But the most interesting piece of trivia I found concerned the woman who played Mrs. Potts, (whom I consider the most likeable character in the film). She had a pretty good career up until her death in 1966.  But one of her most memorable "roles"? Her picture was the one on the desk of Colonel Potter (Harry Morgan), who was identified as his wife, Mildred in the series. And this long after her passing. (Morgan's connection with her had to do with his long term association with Felton in two other TV series from the 50's, December Bride and Pete and Gladys).

I don't consider Picnic to be a true gem of the classic 50's small town life that some critics seem to identify it.  To me it seems hardly a step above Peyton Place, which is definitely not a movie you would associate with being a love letter to life as it was in those days.  But is it horrible? No, not really.  I just come away from it with a different view.

For further review: Previous entries in Golden Boy Blogathons:

The Horse Soldiers

The Devil's Brigade

Bridge on the River Kwai (as well as The Bridges of Toko-Ri)

Sunday, April 14, 2024

MCU #15: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2


 Preface: As promised last year, I plan to review every single currently available movie in what is known as the  Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) over the year 2024. These will appear in order of their release over that time period. This is the fifteenth installment. (Oh, and by the way, after I've exhausted all of the currently available MCU movies I will be rounding out the year with some of the other available movies made from the Marvel comics pantheon.)

Notes: In each of the MCU installments you will be seeing references to two recurring events that occur in nearly every MCU movie.

Where is Stan Lee?: Stan Lee was the driving genius behind Marvel Comics.  He usually shows up in a cameo.  Sometimes these are so quick you gotta be sure you don't blink. Occasionally he gets a line  of dialogue.

And the Credits Roll: You should always stay in the theater for the credits when watching a MCU movie, because during the credits and at the end there is a teaser (or two) that is worth the wait.  Often they were a teaser for the next installment of the films.


One of the best parts of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol .2 is the reunion of Kurt Russell and Sylvester Stallone in another film.  Not sure why Kurt Russell was never cast in the Expendables, although one site said it was because he didn't like the idea of ensemble casts in films. (Sort of like, I guess, "I'm OK with another star sharing screen time, but 6 or 7?  No,  thanks.") Anyway, after Tango and Cash, which was a success at the box office, you would think the pairing might have happened again, but it didn't.

Now, admittedly, this is not the same, since they never appear in the same scene in this one, but to have both in one film again was pretty cool. And, by the way, if you have a quick eye, you might also spot Ving Rhames in Stallone's character's crew of associates. 



The opening scenes involve a young couple driving down the road, singing along to the looking Glass song "Brandy". as it turns out, the couple is Peter Quill's (Star-Lord) parents, Meredith (Laura Haddock). an Earthling, and Ego (Kurt Russell/Aaron Schwartz), an alien. 

(Author question: Obviously Ego has told Meredith he is an alien, but did she accept it on face value or did he have to show his anatomically enhanced prowess first?)

Ego has taken her to a forest to show here something he has planted, which he says will grow and soon be all over the universe.  (That's some serious reproductive capabilities).

Flash forward to present day.  Our heroes, the Guardians, have been hired to protect some fancy batteries from a inter-dimensional creature called an Abelisk. 


Having succeeded in defeating the giant alien squid, the Guardians return the batteries to their employer and collect their reward, which turns out to be Gamora's (Zoe Saldana) sister, Nebula (Karen Gillian).  The plan from there is to turn over Nebula to the Xandars in exchange for a bounty on her.

But Rocket (Bradley Cooper) has stolen some of the batteries for his own purposes.  And, of course, the employers, the Sovereign are not exactly sympathetic and seen forces out to take the batteries back, They need to escape and are helped by a mysterious figure who destroys the entire fleet of remotely controlled Sovereign ships and crash land on the planet of Berhert.

So who is this mysterious figure who helped them?  We don't have to wait long to find out, as he has followed through the portal to Berhert.  It is Ego, who informs Peter that he is Ego, Peter's long lost father.


It turns out that Ego is a Celestial, (possibly the only one his kind),  and he created life in order to find purpose in life. (or at least, that's what I gathered,) He met Peter's mother during his quest and fathered him.  After his mother died, Ego hired Yondu (Michael Rooker) and the Ravager's to bring Peter to him.

But Yondu, being less scrupulous, betrayed his mission and kept him. So Ego has spent his life trying to track his son down.  And after hearing that Peter had held an Infinity Stone in his hands without suffering immediate death, he knew that Peter must be his long lost son (because, apparently  only a Celestial, or his progeny, can do that.)

Back on Berhent, Yondu attempts to recapture the Guardians.  But only Rocket, Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) and the hostage, Nebula, are on the planet.  Nebula convinces Baby Groot that she must be freed from her bondage so she can help.  But her purposes are not exactly altruistic (of course).

When Yondu proves to be too sympathetic to Peter, a mutiny occurs and Taserface (Chis Sullivan) takes command, capturing Yondu as his prisoner and executing all of those who side with Yondu.  Nebula agrees to help them, but she wants Gamora for her own, because she wants to kill her sister. And also, she wants to collect the bounty on the Guardians by the Sovereign. Using the Ravagers sense of mercenary tactics, she convinces them to join with her, taking only as her part, her sister and 10% of the bounty.  The money she plans to use to buy a warship to take and fight her father, Thanos, whom she hates almost, but not quite, as much as Gamora.

Oh, and something I forgot.  Apparently Yondu had too much of a tendency to go out on his own, disregarding the edicts of his Ravager race, so he has been an outcast from his own society.  And Stakar (Sylvester Stallone) has been holding on to a grudge against him ever since. 


Yondu and Rocket break out of prison and go looking for Peter, while Nebula is also looking for Gamora.  They use a kind of warp drive to get to where he his, passing through 100s of other worlds, which includes one populated by a race called The Watchers (See the Marvel comic book or the TV series What If for more on these guys.)

Where is Stan Lee? 

Stan is on the Watchers world giving a background on himself as says "Well, at that time I was a Federal Express man" (referring to his cameo on Captain America: Civil War, which some people postulate means that he is basically playing the same character throughout the series, only in different guises...) 

 Nebula finds Gamora and attempts to kill her, but wrecks her ship and Gamora saves her.  The two end up reconciling after a heart to heart talk, although Nebula still holds on to her grudge against her father for pitting the two of them together in the first place (and his sadistic dismantling of her physical being to be replaced by mechanical things...)

Ego and Peter have a talk and Ego reveals to Peter his true nature as the son of a Celestial.  But Ego has some ulterior motives that are not revealed to Peter at the time.  Yet Ego's "ally", Mantis (Pom Kiementieff), has a line on what Ego really intends, which she eventually reveals to Drax (Dave Bautista).  Yet Ego does reveal that he has impregnated thousands of women on thousands of worlds, but when the offspring failed to show signs of Celestial power, he had them killed.  He also reveals that he was the one who caused this death of Peter's mother (which of course does not set well with Peter). 

So Peter, it turns out, is not on board with his father's plans to remake the universe in his own image.  And thus the real villain of the film is revealed.  And the guardians now have a goal to prevent Ego from following through with his nefarious plans.  But can a cadre of mortals really defeat a god?

And the Credits Roll:

 In one scene, Kraglin (Sean Gunn, brother of the director James) tries to learn how to use Yondu's mind arrow. In a second scene Stakar addresses some allies reuniting the Ravagers. In a third(!) scene, the leader of the Sovereign has created a new A.I. which she hopes will be capable of destroying the Guardians.  And it yet even another (fourth!) post credit scene, Peter admonishes a now teenager Groot for having such a messy room.


The final solution may (or may not) be satisfying. Personally I think it was too easy, considering that he is indeed one of the most powerful villains to appear in the franchise. Of course, if they didn't defeat him it would still be an ongoing battle even now.  As much as I liked the interaction here, though, I have to say that Vol 2 is not in the top 10 of my favorites (even now with only 15 movies reviewed.) It remains to be seen how long it stays as far at the bottom it is, however, since I am only ranking these upon this cycle of viewings.

Time to fire up the old Plymouth and head home.  I sure am glad I don't have to pass through 700 dimensions before I get there.  Drive safely, folks. 



Friday, April 12, 2024

Is There A Doctor in the House?


This is my entry for the Favorite Stars in B Movies Blogathon hosted by Films from Beyond the Time Barrier.

If Roger Corman can be considered the king of "B" movies, then the King of "B" movie stars would almost certainly be Vincent Price. Price made almost his entire career out of the kind of movies that would be standard fare at the drive-in. And he had a voice that is instantly recognizable. You don't even have to know beforehand that he appears at the end of the Michael Jackson song "Thriller". Once the words come across "Darkness falls across the land...", everybody knew, "Hey, that's Vincent Price!"

And absolutely nobody could emit an evil laugh that could send chills down your spine like Price.

American International Pictures, the distributors of the Dr. Phibes movies, went to the Price well a number of times over it's almost 30 years of existence.  The reason that AIP is one of my favorite studios is that it was one of the primary distributors of what are now classics in the drive-in movie pantheon. (If you've read this blog for a while, you know that, even though I have strayed from the original premise of the blog, my primary interest is in the low budget horror and sci-fi stuff that was primarily the fare du jour for the average drive-in.)

And although it can't be said that Price kept the studio afloat during those years, enough of it's output featured this drive-in movie hero that it can safely be said he made them a lot of money.

Over the years Price made a variety of films, some true horror, and some with such comic feel to them, despite the horror aspect, that they could almost be considered comedies.  I think the Dr. Phibes films could fall into that second category.  Black comedy (not "black" as in race, but "black" as in dark) is something that sometimes takes a special (some might say twisted) mind.

The gothic horror theme was in decline by the 70's, although it had had a nice run through the 60's. Was this a last hurrah for the theme?  Not entirely, although it didn't quite crop up all that often afterwards.  But if anyone could have still pulled it off, it was Price.  

OK, after extolling the virtues of Price, I need to add something else. The movie starts out in the titles with words that always get my heart pumping: 

"James H. Nicholson and Samuel Z. Arkoff Present" 

Those words meant I was getting high quality stuff in the next hour and a half or so,  They were the driving genius behind bringing us such classics as:

I Was a Teenage Werewolf

A Bucket of Blood

X: the Man with X-Ray Eyes

Panic in the Year Zero!

Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine

The Amazing Colossal Man

And a slew of others.  They were the driving force behind and original creators of American Pictures International and were highly influential in creating my love of trashy drive-in movies (none of which I was old enough to see during the first run, of course, but highly attractive to me now).  The fact that all of the above have links to previous posts on The Midnite Drive-In are a testament to how much I appreciate these two guys.

The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971):

"Love means never having to say you're ugly." That (corrupted) line from a (then) recent movie Love Story was the tag line for the film. (I didn't make it up, so don't blame me... There it is on the poster.)

The story takes place sometime in the 1920's. Mad genius Dr. Anton Phibes lives his life in a secluded mansion where he is the leader of his own band. Not a band in the traditional sense of the word. The band consists solely of one real person, Dr. Phibes himself, playing the oversized organ (and with an oversized ego to match...). The rest are animatronic players. 


Dr. Phibes has his doctorate in music and was a renowned musician in his heyday.  But he must be a genius in other realms too, because he didn't just buy that animatronic band or the other things he uses throughout this film at the neighborhood flea market. 

Doc spends his life in seclusion because the whole world thinks he is dead. Which helps when he begins his systematic attempt to exact revenge on the doctors who tried (but failed) to keep his wife alive after an accident.  And the reason the world thinks he is dead is because he was supposedly killed while racing back to London from Switzerland after hearing of his wife's predicament.

Phibes blames the doctors in charge of his wife's surgery for incompetence in their profession.  And thus has determined that each should die.  The method of their deaths is based on the Biblical plagues of the Old Testament, visited upon the Egyptians by the Hebrew God for their reluctance to free the Jews from captivity.  Why Biblical plagues? I have no idea.  It's not as if he is Jewish, at least I don't THINK he is...

(Of course, this being Hollywood, since some of those plagues in the Bible story were  not melodramatic enough, some changes were made.  For instance, there were no bats in the Biblical version, but the first victim is dispatched with them. Some of the others are just as tenuous.  Turning water to blood, for instance, appears to have been changed to draining one of his victims of their own blood.)

Assisting him is an assistant, called Vulnavia (Virginia North). Not his wife, just a helper who helps him in his quest.

Investigating these mysterious deaths is a police inspector, Trout (Peter Jeffrey), who despite the misgivings of his superiors, is convinced there must be some connection between the deaths of the doctors. 

(I guess having a sudden spate of odd deaths of people in the doctor profession all at once didn't raise any red flags with the superiors.  Or maybe they were just worried about the widespread panic that would result if the press got wind of it. Which is a legitimate concern with at least one of the bosses Trout confers with during his investigation.)

Doc hangs a Hebrew medallion on a wax sculpture after every death and burns the wax figure. I can't read ancient Hebrew, so I'm only assuming it is Hebrew, however, but otherwise the connection to the Biblical plagues and the medallions wouldn't make sense.

So Phibes' first victim (on screen), Dr. Dunwoody (Edward Burnham) is dispatched by bats (which apparently corresponds to the Biblical plague of flies. But flies can't be trained to act, and bats can, so...)


A reference to another victim who had recently been killed by bees, Dr. Cornton. (Possibly paralleled to the plague of boils, which may be similar to bee stings)  Which is where Inspector Trout begins his investigation, based on the coincidence of two doctors dying in mysterious ways.

The third victim, Dr, Hargreaves (Alex Scott), is choked to death by a frog mask (frogs plague, of course)


Trout finds out that the three victims had all worked under Dr. Vesalius (Joseph Cotten) and goes to him to find out some answers.

The fourth victim, Dr. Longsteet (Terry-Thomas), has his blood drained from him (which corresponds to the water turned to blood plague). You may not feel it so bad that Longstreet dies, because he is a pervert.  His last act on Earth is watching some 1920's porn...


Phibes ends up leaving behind the medallion he intended to hang on the wax sculpture.  It is found by Trout who goes to the guy who made them where he finds out that it is one of a set of ten he had made. And is told that the symbol is, indeed, Hebrew.  Which leads him to a rabbi who tells him that this particular one is a symbol of blood. And he also learns of the ten plagues. which is revealing, of course, since the first four victims have been dispatched in similar ways to the plagues.

30 minutes into the movie we FINALLY hear Vincent Price's voice (sort of: he has lost the use of his mouth because of the accident, but he can put a stethoscope-like device to his neck and vocalize, after a fashion), 30 minutes into a film starring Price before he even says one word seems like a long time, since Price's voice was probably the most noticeable part of his performances. 

Between his expounding that "nine killed you; nine shall die" to a picture of his wife, and Trout finding out from Vesalius that all the victims (plus a few others) had worked to try to save Phibes' wife, we get the full picture.  And there are potentially 5 more victims...

But since Phibes himself was apparently killed in a car accident while trying to race back to London, Trout is not sure who could be behind these strange occurrences.

The fifth victim is Dr. Hedgepath (David Hutcheson), who is killed by a hail making machine in his own car. (the plague of hailstones).


Gradually, based on the background that Trout discovers about Phibes' past, he starts to think that maybe, just maybe, Dr. Phibes didn't really die. An investigation of  the Phibes crypt reveals that there is a container with the ashes of someone inside, but that only proves that SOMEONE'S ashes were entombed.  Not necessarily Phibes himself. And Phibes' wife's crypt is empty.

Dr. Pitaj (Peter Gilmore) is the sixth victim, attacked by rats while trying to fly a plane ( the pestilence plague, perhaps?). Despite the efforts of the police to stop the plane before it takes off, he ends up dying by the rats and crashing the plane. (I read that originally they were going to do the scene on a boat, but some more rational person said "well, couldn't he just jump in the water and save himself?  Believe me, this is the better route, and the scarier one, if you ask me.)


And the seventh victim, Dr. Whitcombe (Maurice Kaufman) is skewered by the statue of a unicorn (the livestock plague? it's a stretch, I know. At this point, my being able to decipher those Hebrew symbols might have been helpful).


The eighth victim is not actually a doctor but a nurse (Susan Travers) who had been in attendance at the scene when Phibes' wife died.  She is dispatched by locusts, attracted by a goo he made from what appeared to be Brussels sprouts  (yet another reason for me to hate Brussels sprouts). And this despite the fact that "half of Scotland Yard" is surrounding the building complex. (Boy, this Phibes guy, he do get around.)


That leaves only the head doctor, Vesalius. (And, if you're keeping count, two plagues). So "darkness" and "first born" plagues remain. But Vesalius says his older brother is dead, so it's probably not going to be the "first born" one...  But, wait..., he DOES have a son himself...

OK, so I'll leave off here so you have something to maybe motivate and inspire you to watch. Gee, ain't I a stinker...?

But before I let you go to the intermission: 

Would you believe that Peter Cushing was in line for the Joseph Cotten role? The reason he had to back out was because his wife was very sick (she would actually pass away during the time the movie was filmed). Not that Joseph Cotten was bad, but I can see Vesalius being a very different character if Cushing had played him.

And while on the subject of Cotten, it's interesting to see how his star waxed and waned over the span of his career.  Although he never actually got nominated for an Oscar, he was in some very Oscar-worthy roles. And worked with the likes of Orson Welles and Alfred Hitchcock on numerous occasions. But he was also very obviously not ashamed to take a buck wherever it was. (Notably The Hearse, which was reviewed on this blog several years ago.)


Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972):

You just can't keep a bad man down... especially if there's money in a sequel...

It's only been a year since the release of The Abominable Dr. Phibes (or one minute since you read the story in the previous portion of this post).  But in terms of the history of the events in the two films,  it has been three years.

And just in case you may have forgotten the diabolical actions of our villain, the film starts out by giving you an encapsulation of said events.  It also tells us that Phibes put himself in suspended animation, as opposed to having killed himself.

See, he was waiting until the moon is in the seventh house and Jupiter aligns with Mars... Wait, sorry,  that's a different movie... But he is waiting for a special alignment of the moon and the planets, one which had not occurred for 2000 years.  When that happens, the events that sent him into this suspended animation reverses and Dr. Phibes Rises Again.

Phibes has a goal.  His goal now is to find a way to get his beloved wife, Victoria (Caroline Munro), back from the dead and to eternal life.  Apparently, as stated by Phibes, he had been alive at that time and prepared for this moment.  (Wait a minute, Phibes already has eternal life?  And he had been preparing for this moment even then?  This is interesting.  Maybe there's more to Phibes than we previously thought...)

He has a map to an ancient Pharaoh's  tomb, beneath which, only every 2000 years flows a "River of Life". He revives his trusted assistant, Vulnavia (this time played by Valli Kemp), and none the worse for wear (which, if you watched the previous entry, you know her exit was not all that simple,,,) But upon reaching the secret room where he has stored the map, he finds it demolished and the map stolen.  Only one man could be responsible... Dr. Biederbeck (Robert Quarry).

Biederbeckand his friend Ambrose (Hugh Griffith {who, BTW, appeared in the first Phibes movie as the rabbi}) discuss their upcoming trip to Egypt.  Biederbeck has only one goal, to find the same "River of Life" that Phibes seeks, so all the treasure they find he graciously concedes to his friend.

Phibes breaks into the house after Biederbeck and Ambrose leave, dispatching Biederbeck's butler with a golden snake. 

Hours later, Inspector Trout (Peter Jeffrey) shows up.  Despite Biederbeck's insistence that discovering who stole the papyrus is more important, Trout, to his credit, insists that capturing the murderer is more paramount.  But as Biederbeck points out, if Trout finds the papyrus, whoever has it will in fact be the murderer.

Having regained his precious papyrus, Phibes takes Vulnavia and the corpse of his wife, and boards a ship bound for Egypt.  Without the papyrus, Biederbeck and Ambrose also board the same ship. (apparently they are just going to wing it...) But the purpose that Biederbeck has is stronger than any threat of failure.  For it seems he has been keeping himself alive with an elixir of life.

Ambrose goes searching the boat hold for Biederbeck's model of a mountain that will help explain Biederbeck's theories.  Unfortunately, instead of the model, Ambrose finds the corpse of Phibes' wife.  And Phibes dispatches him (through the rather mundane act of choking him..). And throws the body, encased in a large jar, overboard.  (It's amazing, given the genius that Phibes exhibits, that he doesn't know the jar will not actually sink. It floats to shore, where it is discovered by Trout.

The captain of the ship (Peter Cushing, who finally got his chance in a Phibes film) wants to spend precious time trying to find the body, but Biederbeck exhibits the same indifference to the mystery of his missing friend as he did for the murderer of his butler.  

The ship MUST continue it's journey forward. (And here, Biederbeck starts to take on the less appealing of the two villains.  At least Phibes does have some sympathetic feelings, even if it is only for his dead wife.)

In Egypt, Phibes and Vulnavia enter a secret passage under a statue of an ancient pharaoh, and behold! A modern (or 1920's modern, anyway) room, complete with art deco decorations.  (Phibes must have been a psychic as well as an ancient sorcerer to have envisioned how things would be in style at this time...)

Trout and his boss go to the shipping agent, Lombardo (Terry-Thomas (who had previously played one of Phibes victims in the first movie}). Lombardo reveals that among the passengers was a woman who had arranged to have an organ put in the manifest for her employer.  Immediately they ask if the employer's name was Phibes. (Now why on Earth would they ask that? Surely they thought he had really gone on to his eternal "reward" 3 years ago...) Lombardo tells them, however, that his name was "Smith". (yeah, right, like that is a real name of someone...)

Biederbeck arrives at the mountain to find that part of his investigation crew has already gone on.  A man named Hackett (Gerald Sim) tells him that Baker (Lewis Flander) and Shaver (John Thaw) would not wait, despite Biederbeck's insistence, and have proceeded without him.  Baker is dispatched by an eagle that guards the entrance.

Meanwhile, Phibes discovers a secret compartment under the mountain which, inside, contains the pharaoh's crypt. and a key, which although he apparently does not know where it fits, he does know that it fits some lock which will help him revive Victoria.  And so, he puts Victoria is a glass coffin and, using the available trolley cart tracks, puts her under the crypt. Where he knows that the River of Life will flow on the full moon and revive her.

(Side note: If you are having trouble with all this modern technology having been created centuries before, you are not alone.  But then, it is apparent that Phibes is not only a wizard at concocting odd deaths of his enemies, a wizard at creating musical automatons, a wizard at avoiding any unecessary complications from his actions, but just plain truth, a wizard...)

Biederbeck's inamorata, Diana (Fiona Lewis). whom he has brought along, begins to wonder about her lover and what drives him.  She has observed that he is obsessed with the mountain and it's secrets, but lacks anything revealing sympathy or concern for the bodies that keep piling up around him.  She demands to know more, but he won't tell her. 

And bodies DO keep piling up. Phibes dispatches one man by locking him up and killing him off with a batch of scorpions.  Another is crushed in a vise. Biederbeck is determined in his goal, however.  But he does exhibit some sense of sympathy. He sends Diana off with the only remaining member of his entourage, Hackett, to safety. But he did not take into consideration Phibes' own sense of determination. He tricks Hackett into leaving Diana alone and wile he is gone takes her hostage.  Then dispatches Hackett with a trick car cigarette lighter which is rigged to turn into a sand blaster (one of the most ingenious devices Phibes comes up with in both movies!)

Once again, I will leave the denouement for you to discover on your own.  If you are a Vincent Price fan you may already know how it turns out, anyway.  Or if you are a fan of these types of movies, you can probably make an educated guess. (But you'd probably be wrong... Now, you are curious, aren't you/  Hahahahahaha!)

Unfortunately, the Phibes saga ended here. Although AIP tried to get yet another Phibes movie going, none of the proposed sequels ever got off the ground floor. Imagine, if you will, though The Seven Fates of Dr. Phibes. Or even The Brides of Dr. Phibes. (Both were proposed titles that never got completed to the satisfaction of the potential producers.)

This post is dedicated to the memory of the man who made horror both scary and funny.  No one could pull off adding humor to horror like Price.  Thanks, Vincent, for 50+ years of scaring the hell out of (and making us laugh while doing it.)

Home awaits. Time to get this old Plymouth rolling.  Drive safely, folks.




Sunday, April 7, 2024

MCU Sunday #14: Doctor Strange

 Preface: As promised last year, I plan to review every single currently available movie in what is known as the  Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) over the year 2024. These will appear in order of their release over that time period. This is the fourteenth installment. (Oh, and by the way, after I've exhausted all of the currently available MCU movies I will be rounding out the year with some of the other available movies made from the Marvel comics pantheon.)

Notes: In each of the MCU installments you will be seeing references to two recurring events that occur in nearly every MCU movie.

Where is Stan Lee?: Stan Lee was the driving genius behind Marvel Comics.  He usually shows up in a cameo.  Sometimes these are so quick you gotta be sure you don't blink. Occasionally he gets a line  of dialogue.

And the Credits Roll: You should always stay in the theater for the credits when watching a MCU movie, because during the credits and at the end there is a teaser (or two) that is worth the wait.  Often they were a teaser for the next installment of the films.




The star of Doctor Strange, Benedict Cumberbatch, was not entirely unfamiliar to me going in.  I had first seen him in Sherlock Holmes, the BBC series in which he stars with Martin Freeman in a modernized version of the title character.  And sometime afterwards I saw him in the reboot of the Star Trek universe,  Star Trek: Into Darkness, in which played the character previously made famous by Ricardo Montalban, Khan.

But also in the film, as the star villain, is Mads Mikkelsen.  Don't know much about him.  The only things I remember him from was as the villain in Casino Royale, the first James Bond movie to feature Daniel Craig, and later as the villain in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. (Obviously I haven't seen him as a sympathetic character, but he must have played at least one or two.  A fellow blogger of my acquaintance thinks he's hot stuff, and I doubt she is enamored with him because he's such a cute bad boy.. or maybe not...)

Doctor (or "Dr." as his name appears on the front of the comic book series) Strange appeared first on the scene in 1963. I honestly don't remember seeing this title during my days in my father's store.  Remember back in my Marvel post I mentioned that I got into the Marvel comics through the magazine rack my father stocked at his gas station/convenience store/garage when I was a kid.  Of course he occasionally appeared in some of the comics I read, but I don't recall reading specifically a "Dr. Strange" issue.

As with about 95% of all comics I read back in those days, the character of Dr. Strange had already been established before I ever came across him. (Being born only in 1961, Marvel had several years jump on me in characters by the time I was old enough to read...)  I have to say that I was fairly unfamiliar with the Doctor before the movie came out.  

BTW, it turns out this is not the first film introduction o Strange.  Although I missed it, a TV pilot movie was made in 1978, starring Peter Hooten (a name probably no one here has ever heard of, myself included). I probably would have watched it if I had the opportunity, but a check of the TV schedule reveals that it was my sister's turn to pick the TV shows, because there were shows on that night I remember she always watched.




Doctor Strange (2016):

The film opens with a raid on a library in a  monastery library in Nepal.  The sorcerer Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) and his cohorts kill the librarian an steal some pages from an ancient text.  Even though .another sorcerer, known as the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), attempts to stop him, he escapes.


In New York City we meet Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch). Strange is a brilliant big time neurosurgeon, with a brilliant  big time ego to match.  (Something like Tony Stark, maybe?)  Of course, without his ability to prove his own ability is not just overinflated self-importance, he wouldn't be worth it.  But he really is as good as he thinks he is.  He saves a man whom a fellow doctor has already pronounced dead.  A skilled man whose hands are his life.


Oh, did I mention he is rich, also? (Ego and rich? This Tony Stark comparison is getting more gelled...) So, Doc has a speaking engagement which he tries to get a fellow female colleague, Dr. Palmer (Rachel McAdams) to attend with him, but she declines.  So off he races to the show by himself in his fancy car.  While driving he has a subordinate find him a new challenge for his surgical wizardry. And has him text him the pictures...  Which he looks at...  While driving... Seems to me that even as egocentric as he is, a "brilliant" guy would know that you need to keep your eyes on the road while driving...  ("Stay Alive. Don't Text and Drive", people.) Oh, well, maybe next time.

Because, of course, he gets in an accident. He is lucky to survive.  But the accident ends up costing him anyway.  He no longer has the steady skilled hands he had.  Nerve damage during the accident caused almost irreparable  damage to them. But is he thankful?  Hell, no.  He tells the doctor who saved his life: "You've ruined me."  And all the money he has can't help him, because the nerve damage is too severe.

So the doctor is forced to find other avenues.  He seeks out a man whom he had previously refused to treat because, in his opinion, the situation was hopeless.  But the man found a solution and, instead of being paralyzed from the waist down, he is not only mobile, but physically active.  The guy turns him on to gurus and a secret place that he went to called Kamar-Taj. In Nepal, of course.

And guess what?  When he gets there, his whole world is going to HAVE to change.  The completely logical and rational mind with which Strange approaches life will have to be expanded.  Such things that he does not want to accept as reality, such as chakras and spirits, will have to be accepted if he is to continue.  And the Ancient One is going to help him, if only he will put those narrow visions of the world on the back burner.

(The CGI used during this sequence, and the rest of the movie, for that matter, will blow your mind.  But I would like to add, if you have access to it, a stereo, or multi speaker, system, will enhance the mind-blowing somewhat.  I listened with my primitive headphones, but when the Ancient One talks to Strange during this sequence the vocal part is also a bit impressive.)

But the Ancient One initially rejects helping Strange because of his arrogance,  He reminds her of a former student, Kaecilius.  But a master, Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), convinces her that despite the failure to keep Kaecilius under reins, that Strange may be the one hope of defeating Kaecilius and preventing the end of life as we know it. See, those pages he stole at the beginning are a threat if he figures out their secret.


The training of Strange in the ancient arts means that he will have to learn to surrender to grow stronger.  While that may seem cryptic, it is actually quite useful. (Side note from the blogger:Trust me on that one.  I have 15 years of sobriety because I surrendered in order to have some control over my addiction...)

This film has what seems at the outside to be an interminably long training session before we get to the real action.  But, really, it doesn't seem all that long.  What happens during the training never grows dull, and this from someone who really craves action over exposition. 

The exposition turns out to be necessary however, as Strange is far more advanced a student.  He gets one of the sacred books that he has been told are farther beyond his comprehension and manages to use the Eye of Agamotto, a relic, to control time. And repairs the missing pages from the book.  But is stopped and warned of the potential dangers of tampering with time.  Such as creating alternate timelines. (Boy, gotta love those...)

So Mordo and the current librarian Wong inform him of the ancient past, which includes the creation of three shields (Sanctums) which were made to protect the Earth from dark demons, specifically Dormammu (which is something akin to the Devil, if you wish)  from beyond.  One in Hong Kong, one in New York and one in London.  And he is told that the masters of the ancient One's temple are the only thing helping keep the dark demons from taking over the earth.

Except Kaecilius stole the pages from the ancient text in order to facilitate just that.  And though Strange intimates that he is not there to become one of the ancient One's cadre of defenders, it becomes aparent that he will not have much choice, as Kaecilius has taken the first steps in his goal by destroying the London Sanctum.

A battle ensues, but Strange is wounded and has to use a portal to get himself to the hospital where Dr. Palmer helps keep his body alive while he defeats one of Kaecilius' minions on the astral plane.  Strange is devastated that he, as a doctor who is committed to SAVING lives has taken one.  But it's not going to be so easy to dismiss his (unwanted) mission to save the Earth from the Dark Dimension. 


 Where is Stan Lee?:

During a battle between Kaecilius and Strange and Mordo, a scene focuses on a bus going by where Stan is one of the riders.  He is engrossed in reading and doesn't even notice the action. 


Ultimately, the Ancient One is killed, but not before passing on one final truth to Strange; he needs to over come his ego. "It's not about you" she tells him, and in that truth, maybe he has more power than he ultimately thought he already had in his own life as a doctor.

And thus the final battle between Kaecilius and his people against Strange and Mordo. Sounds a little one-sided? Well, actually Strange can use the time amulet to repair the damage that Kaecilius caused, And, eventually, cause Dormammu to give up his quest to conquer the Earth (or there will be Hell to pay...)

Ultimately we find out that the Eye contains one of the Infinity Stones, which is taken back to nepal. (Where it won't stay for all that long, but that's for a future movie.) And Mordo decides he no longer wants to be a part of the "saving the world" society and departs.

And the Credits Roll

In mid-credits, Doc confers with Thor where Doc informs Thor that one of his missions is to keep an eye on inter dimensional beings who may be a threat, and that Thor's brother, Loki, is one of those perceived threats.  He tells Thor he will help him find Loki. And in  post credits we find Mordo may have his own agenda.

OK, I absolutely loved Doctor Strange.  I don't understand why it ranks so low on the lists I've seen of the MCU rankings.  Maybe some of that has to do with some of the spiritual enlightenment I got from it.  I make no apologies for that. (see the above references to my own path to redemption from addiction.) So as of this posting, Doctor Strange is now ranked very high on the list.

And despite that fairly long build up, it doesn't lose anything because of it.  Which is probably astounding to some readers considering how I've railed against long sequences in these films with no action .  I still crave action sequences, and will probably revert to my former impatient self by next movie, but it was worth the build up in this one.

Time to fire up those engines on the Plymouth now. Unfortunately I can't warp time and space, so I'm dependent on the 8 cylinder primitive engine in the car to get me home.  Drive safely, folks.



Sunday, March 31, 2024

MCU Sunday#13 Captain America: Civil War

 Preface: As promised last year, I plan to review every single currently available movie in what is known as the  Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) over the year 2024. These will appear in order of their release over that time period. This is the thirteenth installment. (Oh, and by the way, after I've exhausted all of the currently available MCU movies I will be rounding out the year with some of the other available movies made from the Marvel comics pantheon.)

Notes: In each of the MCU installments you will be seeing references to two recurring events that occur in nearly every MCU movie.

Where is Stan Lee?: Stan Lee was the driving genius behind Marvel Comics.  He usually shows up in a cameo.  Sometimes these are so quick you gotta be sure you don't blink. Occasionally he gets a line  of dialogue.

And the Credits Roll: You should always stay in the theater for the credits when watching a MCU movie, because during the credits and at the end there is a teaser (or two) that is worth the wait.  Often they were a teaser for the next installment of the films.





First: A big reveal.  Although this movie is titled Captain America: Civil War, it is basically another Avengers movie.  After all, even with the beginning (after the opening sequence), several members of the pantheon makes it's presence known in the first sequence.  We get Captain America (of course), but helping him in his endeavor are  Wanda Maximoff and Falcon.

Civil War took as it's basic story line, the story that had appeared previously in the graphic novel of the same name.  In this one we would also end up getting introduced to a couple of "new" superheroes, one that had been previously introduced in a separate (non MCU story line; see the last portion of this review) series, Spiderman, as well as a preview to one that would be on the horizon for his own future MCU movie, Black Panther.

Most  of the rest of The Avengers appeared later, during the Civil War part. Notably missing was Bruce Banner as The Hulk and Thor, which is probably one of the reasons this wasn't labelled as  another Avengers movie by title.

Captain America: Civil War (2016):

At the start of the movie, Russians, who later turn out to be a part of Hydra, revives Bucky "The Winter Soldier" Barnes (Sebastian Stan) from cryostasis to do a hit on a vehicle and retrieve some samples of super serum.

Flash forward to present day (sometime after the events in The Avengers: Age of Ultron). As stated above, Cap (Chris Evans)  and Falcon (Anthony Mackie)  and Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) are on the trail of  Brock Rumlow (Frank Grillo), a renegade former SHIELD agent who is out to steal a biological weapon in Nigeria (which is a neighboring country of Wakanda... see it coming?).


It's almost, but not quite, more than these three can handle.  Rumlow (who has become a super villain known as Crossbones) has a lot of fancy weaponry and is not afraid to use them (but then what kind of super villain would he be if he were...?)


In the process and his ultimate defeat at the hands of Cap, Crossbones blows himself up, attempting to take Cap with him.  But Wanda, with her power of telekenisis sends the blast to a nearby building. (Remember that...)

In New York, Tony Stark addresses a group of students and tells them, basically, that they are the future, and that the Stark Foundation is going to fund their projects. After the event, Stark meets the mother of one of the people who were killed in the battle with Ultron in Sokovia.  Tony has some guilt over his actions, which becomes relevant as this movie continues.

Well, the building that was inadvertently damaged during the battle in Nigeria included 11 Wakandans who were on an outreach mission. (see the Wakanda connection now?). As the king of Wakanda says in a TV interview "Victory at the expense of the innocent is no victory at all." 

Which leads to the appearance of the US Secretary of State, Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt), who informs the collected group of Avengers assembled (notably missing Thor and the Hulk)  that some people consider them "vigilantes" and a "threat" and that therefore the nations of the world have created a protocol, called the Sokovia accords, which deem the Avengers to not be able to act independently, but be under the control of the United nations.  Thus they would only be able to act if that group decided their help was "necessary". He says they can talk it over, but if they do not agree to it they will be forced to retire.

(Author's interjection: Having witnessed for most of my life how such committees like this can "work together" so "well", I'm sure you can see which side of the coin I would fall on.) 

Tony, for his part, because of his guilty conscience, more or less, is behind the idea. Cap on the other hand says that if they sign the agreement they will surrender their right to choose.  There are some good points to both arguments (but once again interjecting: if you know me, giving up the freedom to make my own decisions, and giving them to another, is an anathema to me. Sorry. This may be the one movie that gets me on my soapbox.  I apologize.)

Meanwhile Helmut Zemo (Daniel Bruhl) has appeared on the scene.  He kills a Hydra bigwig and steals a book which will help him revive the brainwashing that activates The Winter Soldier.


Cap attends the funeral of his enamorata from the 40's Peggy, where he hears her daughter deliver a eulogy which inspires him to stay firm in his conviction. as he tells her later, despite the agreement of some of the others on The Avengers, he just can't agree to the accords.

At a conference to sign the accords, while the king of Wakanda is speakin,  the event is bombed, killing the king.  His son, T'Challa (Chadwick Bozeman) vows revenge. It turns out that The Winter soldier was behind the bombing. Rogers, still having a deep friendship for Bucky, thinks he can reform him and wants to take him alive, however.

Cap and Falcon track Bucky to Bucharest, despite the fact that others have orders to either arrest or kill them. He finds Bucky, but his attempts to try to take him peacefully are thwarted by the appearance of a group of police forces.  Bucky attempts to escape and runs smack dab into T'Challa, now transformed into the Black Panther, who attempts to exact his promised revenge.  None are successful however, as Rogers, Wilson, T'Challa and Bucky end up arrested. Tony attempts to get Steve to give up and sign the accords, promising that they can be amended later. (yeah, right.)

Zemo appears, disguised as a psychiatrist to talk with Bucky.  Meanwhile, he initiates a plan which shuts down the security grid of the prison, among other things. And says the words that reinstates his brainwashing.  Goal? To discuss what happened in 1991 (Remember the opening sequence?) 

During an ensuing battle, Rogers discovers that Bucky was framed and it was actually Zemo who bombed the accords and framed Bucky. And that Bucky is not the only "Winter Soldier".  It seems Zemo has some ulterior motives.

Eventually Cap and Falcon decide they can't wait for "authorization" to go after Zemo and recruit the help of Wanda, Hawkeye and Ant-man.  Iron Man, on the other hand, still trying to keep the Accords in action, forms his own team which consists of Black Panther, Vision, War Machine, Black Widow and newcomer Spiderman, not to go after Zemo, but after these renegade superheroes who are acting of their own initiative.  (The "civil war" of the movie's title).









(And Spiderman by the way has already been established as a viable superhero had an arc that created his background, but is only briefly touched on in the film. If you want to know his background watch this site after the MCU cycle and I'll get to those).

Allies and brothers should NOT have to fight each other, and it usually doesn't go well when they do. (Remember that disagreement from the US history past?)  Things go better when you work together for a common good. And these guys are much better when they do that.

We get to find out in the battle that Ant-man has another power in his suit that no one else knew about which helps the situation get better.

The ultimate outcome is that eventually there is sort of a reconciliation as everyone has to come together.  Leading up to our final battle. Which is a battle on on one with Cap and Iron Man.  Which as it turns out was Zemo's whole plan in the first place, as revenge for what happened in his home country.

Where is Stan Lee?  

Stan shows up at the end of the movie, as a FedEx driver, delivering a package for Tony "Stank"...


And the Credits Roll:

In mid credits Bucky, now in Wakanda, . voluntarily goes back into cryostasis, hoping that some time in the future somebody may figure out the secret to getting him un-brainwashed.

And post-credits: Peter "Spiderman' checks out a new gadget that Tony made for him.


Captain America: Civil War has some problems. For one thing, the villain is not all that impressive.  He's just a psycho and doesn't even have any super powers.  So he ought to be a quick meal for the Avengers, right? But then if you watched until the end you know the REAL reason he was doing what he was doing. Despite that, I really, really liked it.  Especially that battle between the two sets of friends.  So this one ALMOST, but not quite, ends up surpassing The Winter Soldier

Well folks, that's it for this installment.  See you next week.  Drive safely.