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Monday, March 19, 2018

The Frisco Kid

I don't buy a lot of movies anymore, but this one I had to add to my collection. The critics didn't much like it. They complained that the humor was too "ethnic". It was Jewish humor which treated Jewish culture kindly so, of course, Hollywood's leftists wouldn't like it. There wasn't much cursing in it. There weren't any major gay characters and it treated religion with respect.

If you've never seen it, it's my favorite Gene Wilder film and a gem of a Harrison Ford performance that makes him one of my favorite actors. The movie is gently funny. There's nothing harsh about it. Wilder plays a young Jewish rabbi from Poland crossing pre-Civil War America to get to his new synagogue in San Francisco. A trusting soul, he falls in with thieves who take his money and abandon him along the road. He runs into a string of kindly characters, Amish farmers, wild Indians, railroad workers of various nationalities, a nice horsie, some overly friendly raccoons and a prairie chicken who is quite reluctant to stay for dinner. He teaches Native Americans how Jews dance and disrupts the silence of a Catholic monastery. When he finally meets a kindly bank robber (Ford) who helps him find his way to San Francisco. Along the way he inadvertently robs a bank. At the next town he sends the money back to the bank to Ford's immense frustration.

Wilder's tenacity is irresistible.   The movie has a happy and very satisfying ending. Wilder's simple goodness will make you tear up in places and plays a perfect counterpoint to Ford's impatient, if confused cowboy. It's one of those movies you're glad you spent some time with. It's not on any of the major streaming services, but you can rent it on Youtube and Amazon.

If you're like me, you need a gentle couple of hours with some likeable people once in a while. This movie gives you that. I give this movie my highest rating - three pineapples.

Tom King

© 2018

Monday, March 12, 2018

"A Wrinkle in Time" Falls Flat on Oprah's Face

The Disney movie version of one of my favorite childhood books "A Wrinkle in Time" by Madeleine L' Engle debuted this weekend.
It was given the Disney treatment (not the Walt Disney, but the post Uncle Walt version). Then Oprah got hold of it. When they were done, all the Bible verses and Christian themes were stripped out of it so that it's barely recognizable as the original book. They had to wait 10 years after L' Engle's death to butcher her masterpiece, but they managed to do it.

It made less than half what they hoped over the weekend. And after the critics gave it less than enthusiastic reviews and word got around the Christian community about the heart being cut out of it, they'll be lucky to break even on it.

Disney's AWIT gets a raspberry for cutting the
beating heart out of L'Engle's book.
The screenwriter argues that Madeleine L'Engle wanted to express all the ideas in the film but couldn't do it in the book way back in those ancient and unenlightened days, so she chose to use Christian themes. She assures us that this is how the author would have done it if she'd been more progressively enlightened and less dependent on religion.
L'Engle could not be reached for comment. Disney and Oprah waited till she was safely dead and could no longer object to the brutalization of her lovely little Newberry Award winning book.

© 2018 by Tom King