I Saw That!

One woman's opinions about popular entertainment.

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Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Amateur boxing coach, Christian (but not so heavenly-minded that I'm no earthly good) singer, writer, self-defense advocate, childfree. feminist www.smartwomenboxingtraining.org

Monday, November 27, 2006

Casino Royale (2006)

James Bond is back, and he is blond and buff. Daniel Craig takes over the title role in another installment of one of the world's longest running movie franchises.

The movie starts with Bond chasing an African man who runs into a consulate carrying a bomb. It is a nice long chase sequence done mostly on foot, complete with fantastic leaps and dives. We learn that Bond has just acquired 007 status, but the fracas at the consulate makes it into the papers. Bond's superior, M (Judi Dench), is not amused, wondering if she promoted the agent too soon. The incident points up to a bigger problem, involving La Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), an man who supplies money to terrorists, even investing it to get more. La Chiffre is going to enter a high stakes poker game which, if he wins, will give him more money to fund terrorism. Bond enters the game with the help of funds provided by accountant Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), who is assigned to watch the money.

A decent entry in the Bond series, but not the best--my favorite is Thunderball. Craig's take on Bond is more like that of Sean Connery and Timothy Dalton, a cold, vicious guy in Her Majesty's Secret Service, who will do whatever it takes to squash the bad guys. None of Roger Moore's winking, Pierce Brosnan's double entendres, or George Lazenby's restraint here. Craig is not classically handsome, but he is rugged, and a good fit for the role.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

"The Colbys" (1985-1987)

In some places, this show is listed as "Dynasty II", which is appropriate, since it was a spin-off of the popular 1980's nighttime soap opera. The focus was on Jeff Colby's (John James) family, who had just as many issues as the Carringtons on the other show (Jeff was married to Fallon Carrington). Fallon had gone missing, and Jeff was determined to find her. His travels led him to California, where he also intended to be a part of his uncle Jason's (Charleston Heston) vast corporate empire.

Jeff had an ally in his aunt Constance (Barbara Stanwyck), but Jason's underhanded wife Sable (Stephanie Beacham) viewed Jeff as a threat to the inheritance her three children should have. Sable was a cousin to Alexis Colby Carrington (Joan Collins), the resident mean witch on "Dynasty", proof that evil runs in families. Some of Sable's low down actions included trying to make strong-willed Constance look as if she was senile. She was so busy pulling games on people that she failed to see that Jason was in love with her sister Francesca (Katherine Ross). Sable was also hiding a secret: years before, she had been raped by a rival of Jason's, a man named Zachary Powers (Ricardo Montalban). Her twins, Miles and Monica (Maxwell Caulfield, Tracy Scoggins) were Power's children, not Jason's. Bliss (Claire Yarlett), a somewhat naive young woman, was the only child she actually had with Jason.

The usual messy twists and turns associated with these glossy soap operas took place, but unlike "Dynasty", "The Colbys" didn't have enough staying power to keep the various storylines going. The show came under fire for one of the most improbable cliffhangers ever: Fallon (Emma Samms), who had amnesia and showed up in time to have an affair with Miles (who didn't know she was married to Jeff), was kidnapped by aliens and whisked away in a spaceship. When the show was canceled at the end of its second season, Fallon was back on "Dynasty" with nary a mention of her outer space adventure.

My favorite character on this show was Barbara Stanwyck's character, a tough old chick who had Sable's number. Her character was killed off in Napal at the beginning of the second season. I believe Ms. Stanwyck was in failing health at that point and passed away a few years later. She was in the classic film noir, Double Indemnity (1944) as well as the TV Western, "The Big Valley" (1965-1969). Charleston Heston was in the films Ben-Hur (1959) and Planet Of The Apes (1968). Maxwell Caulfield appeared in Grease 2 (1982). Katherine Ross was in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969). Ricardo Montalbon was Mr. Roarke on "Fantasy Island" (1978-1984) and the granddad in Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams (2002).

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"Gidget" (1965)

When I see the mature actress that Sally Field is today, it is hard to reconcile that woman with the girl she played on the 60s sitcom "Gidget". This was not the first trifle of a sitcom to be aired on TV, and it probably won't be the last. The show was based on a 1959 movie of the same name, that starred Sandra Dee.

Gidget was actually Francine Lawrence's (Field) nickname. It was a melding of the words "girl" and "midget". As Gidget was female and short (Ms. Field is under 5 feet tall, I believe), the name fit. The teenager lived at home with her dad, a widower who was a college professor. Anne and John Cooper (Betty Conner and Peter Deuel) were Gidget's sister and brother-in-law. Gidget and her friend Larue (Lynette Winter) found as much fun as they did trouble in school and on the sunny California beaches they hung out on. Gidget's college boyfriend Jeff (Stephen Mines) was out of the picture a lot.

Ms. Field appeared in a couple of more sitcoms including "The Flying Nun" (1967-1970), then rocked the world by proving she could take on serious roles. Peter Deuel later appeared in the short-lived Western, "Alias Smith and Jones" (1971-1973).

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