Disney

The Million Dollar Duck (1971)

MillionDollarDuckPosterDean Jones, who appeared in every single movie the Walt Disney Company made from 1965-1975, stars as a scientist who is trying to teach animals stuff. For reasons never adequately explained, he is fixated on trying to teach an obviously dull-witted duck how to do something. His boss ridicules him for this, but once you get a gander at Dean’s home life, you begin to understand why he feels a duty to try and help the brain damaged of the animal kingdom. More

The Ghost of Cypress Swamp (1977)

GhostOfCypressSwampTitleThe poet/philosopher Tupac once opined “a coward dies a thousand deaths… a soldier dies but once.” You know who else only dies but once in The Ghost Of Cypress Swamp? Lonny’s brave dog who got eaten by the evil panther named Weakfoot while the wimpy Lonny stood around doing nothing to save him! More

Escapade in Florence (1962)

EscapadeInFlorence PosterThe movies culled from re-editing multi-part episodes of the old Disneyland TV series are a mixed bag. Some of them like Dr. Syn, Alias The Scarecrow stand with any of Walt’s theatrical projects in terms of story, production values, and execution. Others, such as Mystery In Dracula’s Castle suffer from weak scripts and a decidedly workmanlike effort both in front of and behind the camera. Escapade In Florence falls somewhere in between these two extremes as it’s hampered by a lousy script, but is made bearable by the location shooting in Italy and the winning performances of stars Tommy Kirk and Annette Funicello. More

Johnny Tremain (1957)

JohnnyTremainPosterI always suspected that those snobby British goons who tried to stifle all our basic human rights by laying a big tax on our imported tea were defeated through the interference of some plucky kids.

Since the novel this movie is based on won a Newbery Medal, I have to assume that it’s the God’s honest truth and that the colonists were such great guys that after they stormed the ships in Boston Harbor and dumped all the tea overboard, that they then took time to swab the decks and generally cleaned up the boat when they finished with their consumer protest. More

Menace on the Mountain (1970)

MenaceOnTheMountainVHSCoverMenace On The Mountain (another two part Disney show from the 1970s taped together into a TV movie) is as toothless as one of the old coots that hung around town cowering before the villainous Poss Timmerlake.

The story of an ugly red headed kid (Jed) with big pouty lips who constantly whines about how his pa was last seen gutshot at some Civil War battle and that he wished he was man enough to take on this Poss dude, doesn’t generate much interest beyond the questionable thrill you get from watching Jed chase after his pet pig. More

The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove (1971)

Strawberry Cove TitleI suppose that when a TV show runs something like 35 years, you’re bound to run into some episodes that feel like they were just thrown on the air to fulfill whatever commitment the production company had to the network for original programming. Disneyland, after all, couldn’t exactly run Pinocchio, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea or Pollyanna once a month. Sometimes you had to rely on that tried and true variation of kids getting mixed up in small time crime that could be resolved in two one hour long episodes.

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The Wacky Zoo of Morgan City (1970)

WackyZooOfMorganCityTitleYou can have Dr. Seuss’s If I Ran the Zoo with its totally made up monsters, exotic lands, and that praise-craving brat Gerald McGrew. If I ran a freaking zoo, I’d do it just like Mitch Collins (Hal Holbrook) did in Wacky Zoo of Morgan City with its run down and surely dangerous and inhumane cages, toothless lion that has low blood pressure and eats oatmeal, camel who can only eat a couple of carrots at a time due to digestive issues, and penguin who demands to swim in warm water. More

The Monkey’s Uncle (1965)

Monkey'sUnclePosterOnce the movie actually starts (the opening credits take long enough that we have to hear every bit of that horrible, horrible song sung by co-star Annette Funicello with the Beach Boys inexplicably backing her up) director Robert Stevenson (Jane Eyre, The Gnome-Mobile) slavishly hews to the same structure as its predecessor, The Misadventures of Merlin Jones. That means there’s not so much an actual movie going on, but rather two more installments of the Merlin Jones TV show which never existed. Of course, when you’re dealing with a gizmo that lets you learn in your sleep and a flying machine you pedal yourself, this is a good thing. More