Say “Cheese” 008 – A Minor Miracle (1983)

This past Christmas my son got me a Mill Creek box set called Awesomely Cheesy Movies. 100 movies on 24 disks, it’s actually a combination of two of their earlier released sets, “The Swinging Seventies”, and “The Excellent Eighties”.

For those of you who may not be familiar with these Mill Creek sets, they are generally comprised of  public domain or made-for-television movies that are reproduced without embellishment, enhancement, or extras and are sold in large collections for very low prices. This means that the quality on them can be quite variable, and they often show signs of age and wear. Nonetheless, there are often hidden gems amongst what can be large swaths of dross.

Anyway, I’ve decided to wend my way through this collection, starting with the first movie on the first disk of the 70s collection, then the first movie in the 80s set, then back to the 70s, and so on, and see just what turns up. If nothing else, it should be interesting. Come along, won’t you?

On, man, we’re back into the realm of seventh-generation VHS transfers with this almost unwatchable Mill Creek entry.

There was a time when Pele was one of the hottest sports stars in the world, and that popularity has to be the only reason for the existence of A Minor Miracle.

Young Catholic priest Father Reilly wants to go to New England to teach at a parochial school. He is assigned, however, to help at a San Diego orphanage where an older priest has been running things for years.

Father Cardenas (played by elder film statesman John Huston) has been at the orpanage for so long that it has become as much his home as it is one for the boys in his charge, and though he knows he is likely soon to die and suspects that the younger man has been sent there solely to help out until he is gone at which point the church will foster out the boys and sell the property, he is determined to do all that he can to keep the facility going and to provide for the boys.

There are also unscrupulous real estate developers who have their eye on the land and who have a city councilman in their back pocket. Also, the building itself is in bad need of repairs and the church has refused to allocate any money for the purpose.

Thus, Father Cardenas comes up with a desperate last-minute scheme. You see, he used to be a missionary in Brazil, and was instrumental in Pele’s early education. Thus, he feels he has a special connection to the soccer player, and writes a letter asking him to come to San Diego and put on a soccer clinic at an exhibition match between the boys of the orphanage and the team from an elite private high school.

Unfortunately, the letter gets lost in the mail and Pele is a no-show, putting the school in even further danger as the city, which agreed to promote the clinic and Pele’s appearance is considering fraud charges against the orphanage.

Oh, and it turns out Father Cardenas is dying of cancer.

While not a bad movie, A Minor Miracle is one of those heart-string tuggers that unfortunately all-too often passes for family fare. It diligently ticks all of the necessary boxes, including a training montage featuring Pele and the kids from the orphanage.

Sorry, no enbeddable trailer for this one, but if you’ve any interest at all in watching the movie, here’s the full thing on YouTube, in a quality that’s actually better than the version found on the Mill Creek disk:

Up Next: The Swinging 70s  Disk 2 Movie 1: Crypt of the Living Dead – Let’s crown a new vampire queen!

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Say “Cheese” 007 – The Klansman (1974)

This past Christmas my son got me a Mill Creek box set called Awesomely Cheesy Movies. 100 movies on 24 disks, it’s actually a combination of two of their earlier released sets, “The Swinging Seventies”, and “The Excellent Eighties”.

For those of you who may not be familiar with these Mill Creek sets, they are generally comprised of  public domain or made-for-television movies that are reproduced without embellishment, enhancement, or extras and are sold in large collections for very low prices. This means that the quality on them can be quite variable, and they often show signs of age and wear. Nonetheless, there are often hidden gems amongst what can be large swaths of dross.

Anyway, I’ve decided to wend my way through this collection, starting with the first movie on the first disk of the 70s collection, then the first movie in the 80s set, then back to the 70s, and so on, and see just what turns up. If nothing else, it should be interesting. Come along, won’t you?

The good news is: Lee Marvin is always a bad-ass.The bad news is: He’s stuck trying to be a bad-ass in The Klansman.

The complete and utter wrong-headedness of this movie is obvious from the very beginning, but I wasn’t completely convinced of how terrible it was going to be until about thirty minutes in, when Bobby Poteet, whose wife Nancy (Linda Evans) has been raped on a country back road – presumably by a black man – comes to Lee Marvin’s sheriff Track Bascomb to tell him he’s leaving town. But not with his wife. It seems Poteet can’t take the stares of his fellow citizens whom he knows must be wanting to ask him what it’s like to be with his wife who has – no, not who has been raped – who has “been with a black man”. What bothers him most, though, Poteet goes on to say, is that she just doesn’t seem to care. “She’s got no shame.” When asked where he will go, Poteets responds that he doesn’t know. All he knows is that he will be going by Greyhound. “Just like the n*ggers,” he says, laughing at how low his life has gotten. He then goes on to lament “Dammit! Why did this thing have to happen to me?” He then leaves, but before he does, he hands the sheriff an envelope, asking his to give it to his wife. Inside is his life insurance policy and $34. “I divided it up. Half for her, and half for Greyhound.”

Do I really have to go into everything that is wrong with this scene? No, I didn’t really think so. But just in case you think this is an isolated incident, perhaps try to give it something of a spin by saying maybe it’s just one man blaming his wife in a misguided attempt to process the grief he is feeling over what has happened, we cut to the net scene, which takes place in the town’s church, where the preacher is railing against the downfall of family values and blaming it on “them with the mark of the black beast” who are intermingling with their children and the goo upstanding citizens. Enter Nancy Poteet, who is met not with comfort and concern for her well-being by these upright citizens, but with shock and outrage that she would dare to show up and sully them with her tainted presence. “How can you push yourself on these good Christian folks?” she is asked. An the preacher tell her from the pulpit that if she has any decency lin her she will leave. The, when she expresses her outrage at being blamed for what was done to her, she is forcibly dragged from the church,

Oh, did I happen to n\mention that all of this is taking place in Wallace County, a fact we are informed of in the opening shot which focuses on a “drive safely” sign?

Yeah, to say that The Klansman is not exactly a subtle discussion of the state of race relations in the south in the seventies is more than a mild understatement.

The movie also takes an odd turn when it comes to the mayor/head klansman (“Hell, I’m the damn Exalted Cyclops.”) explaining his motivations. In a discussion with the sheriff (who apparently everyone in the town turns to to lend an unsympathetic ear). Interestingly, he isn’t driven by some pathological hatred of blacks as a race – he doesn’t see them as inferior or anything like that. Well, he probably does, actually, he definitely does, but that main motivation behind his actions is money.

Because of the black/white conflict, as he calls it, the blacks are leaving the south and moving north. “They’re moving to Chicago, they’re joining the army so they can get a fifteen hundred dollar bonus.Then they go to Germany for two years and become ski instructors! And what happens to me? I gotta replace ’em with whites. But no self-respecting white will do grunt labor for what I pay the n*gger.”

That’s right, his business is suffering because all the black folks are leaving this wonderful town to become ski instructors in Germany.

Yeah, I’m like you. I got absolutely no response to this.

Oh, and just for the record, according to the mayor, he’s not the heavy in all this “If you wanna know who the heavy is,” he says, “I’ll tell ya. It’s the system. And we’re all of us caught up in it.”

All of this, and we still haven’t even gotten to our other two leads in the film. Richard Burton co-stars as Breck Stancill, a virtual hermit living on a mountain on the outskirts of town, and the only white person in town who seems to be on the side of the blacks and willing to stand up to the rest of the town.

Burton’s involvement in the film is especially interesting, considering that he was so drunk through most of the shooting that director Terence Young had to shoot most of his scenes sitting down because he was too drunk to stand up. Not that Lee Marvin was exactly sober during filming either. However, no matter how drunk either of them might have been, reports are that they both showed up to the set on time and were ready with their lines. And honestly, drunk Lee Marvin and Richard Burton are still better actors than so many other when they’re stone cold sober.

O.J. Simpson also takes a turn (his first acting role) as Garth, a black man who decides he has had enough of the town and the klan, and takes matters into his own hand. He gets a shotgun and begins to take out the klansmen one by one, eventually leading to a full-blown shootout.

Oh, and then there’s the ending. Oh, my, the ending. I’m completely tempted to just go ahead and spoil this film by outlining it, but no, if there;s anyone out there who might be intrigued enough to check out this train wreck, I don’t want to take all of the “thrills” away from you. Suffice to say I feel sure that there’s supposed to be some kind of symbolism or message being given, but if so, it completely escapes me.

Actually considering the talent both in front of and behind the camera, there’s only one reason for this movie to be as bad as it is, and what it all really comes down to is the script. Well, that and the basic ideas behind it. I can’t imagine what the people behind it were thinking, but the end result that they have produced is so completely offensive that even if they were trying to perhaps make a good point, it gets completely lost in the abhorrent scenario.

Here’s your trailer:

Up Next: The Excellent 80s  Disk 1 Movie 1: Intimate Agony – General Hospital’s Anthony Geary discovers herpes!

Say “Cheese” 006 – Second Sight: A Love Story (1984)

This past Christmas my son got me a Mill Creek box set called Awesomely Cheesy Movies. 100 movies on 24 disks, it’s actually a combination of two of their earlier released sets, “The Swinging Seventies”, and “The Excellent Eighties”.

For those of you who may not be familiar with these Mill Creek sets, they are generally comprised of  public domain or made-for-television movies that are reproduced without embellishment, enhancement, or extras and are sold in large collections for very low prices. This means that the quality on them can be quite variable, and they often show signs of age and wear. Nonetheless, there are often hidden gems amongst what can be large swaths of dross.

Anyway, I’ve decided to wend my way through this collection, starting with the first movie on the first disk of the 70s collection, then the first movie in the 80s set, then back to the 70s, and so on, and see just what turns up. If nothing else, it should be interesting. Come along, won’t you?

Loathe though I am to admit it, there was at least one tear forcibly jerked from my eyes during Second Sight: A Love Story.

It’s not something I’m proud of, but it happened.

Elizabeth Montgomery is probably not someone known to my younger readers unless they are fans of old sitcoms. Those of you in my generation, however, will immediately recognize Montgomery as Samantha, the witch who married a mortal man in the classic Bewitched. Even through the change from Dick York to Dick Sargent as her husband Darrin, Montgomery remained the charming center of the series.

(By the way, someday I will write about both Bewitched and the similarly themed I Dream of Jeannie as representative of the concept of women being constrained by the men in their lives to hide their inner powers in order to not disrupt the “normalcy” of their suburban settings, but that’s an essay for another time.)

Anyway, after Bewitched was finally cancelled in 1972, rather than trying to find a new sitcom home, Montgomery instead turned her talents to TV films where she could greatly expand her range and show more of her true talent. Starring in such acclaimed movies as A Case of Rape and The Legend of Lizzie Borden, the actress proved that she had much more talent than she had previously had the opportunity to show.

In Second Sight, Montgomery plays Alexandra McKay, a woman who has been blind for more than twenty years. Over the years she has learned not only to be incredibly self-sufficient, but has built up a number of walls to keep herself both from what she perceives as the pity of others and from her own emotional pain.For Alexandra, letting anyone see what she is really going on with her is a sign of weakness

Into her highly regulated life comes Richard Chapman who manages to begin to break down her defenses and attempts to convince her that he loves her despite her disability.

Once Alexandra begins to open herself to new possibilities, she takes a further step that she has been long resisting – she agrees to try getting a guide dog.

This leads to a very interesting section of the film where Alexandra must spend four weeks living at the International Guiding Eyes school learning how to interact with her new companion, a blonde lab named Emma. The movie does a good job of showing that Alex needs to be trained as much as Emma and that the bond of trust must go both ways.

Eventually, the possibility arises of a surgery that might be able to restore Alexandra’s sight. However, despite the fact that she has already made such drastic changes in her life, she is understandably reluctant to make this drastic step, especially considering that her father ha a horrifying experience losing his sight completely due to surgeries that he underwent.

Compounding her anxiousness is the bond that she has established with Emma and what regaining her sight might mean to her relationship with her canine best friend thus adding an extra layer to the movie’s subtitle – this is not just the story of the love between a man and a woman, but also of a woman for her dog.

What sets Second Sight apart from such PSA style dreck as Intimate Agony (which is what I feared I was in for before watching the movie) is the performance of Elizabeth Montgomery, She does an excellent job of portraying both the inner and outer conflicts Alexandra is facing, allowing her innate charm to come through despite the character’s initial prickly nature.

Up Next: The Swinging 70s  Disk 1 Movie 4: The Klansman – Who would believe All-American OJ Simpson might have raped a white woman?

Say “Cheese” 005 – The Last of The Belles (1974)

This past Christmas my son got me a Mill Creek box set called Awesomely Cheesy Movies. 100 movies on 24 disks, it’s actually a combination of two of their earlier released sets, “The Swinging Seventies”, and “The Excellent Eighties”.

For those of you who may not be familiar with these Mill Creek sets, they are generally comprised of  public domain or made-for-television movies that are reproduced without embellishment, enhancement, or extras and are sold in large collections for very low prices. This means that the quality on them can be quite variable, and they often show signs of age and wear. Nonetheless, there are often hidden gems amongst what can be large swaths of dross.

Anyway, I’ve decided to wend my way through this collection, starting with the first movie on the first disk of the 70s collection, then the first movie in the 80s set, then back to the 70s, and so on, and see just what turns up. If nothing else, it should be interesting. Come along, won’t you?

Back to the 70s this time around with movie three of disk one 1974’s F. Scott Fitzgerald and “The Last of the Belles”. (to give it its full on screen title).

There was a time when Richard Chamberlain was the king of television  miniseries an movies. Centennial, Shogun, The Thorn Birds, he was all over the place, and was one of those acts who, if you could get him for your show you were pretty much guaranteed a hit..

However there was a time before he became this ratings juggernaut, and it was during this time that he starred in this sleeper of a film. And just to be clear, I don’t use “sleeper”to ean “stealth” or “unknown hit”. No, I mean it as in I had to back this film up about half way through because I had taken an inadvertent nap while it was running.

Seriously, I’m considering keeping this one handy for those nights wh insomnia strikes.

Okay, I’ll admit here that I’ve never really bee a fan of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s stories. I ‘t really say why, but they’ve just never clicked with me. So I’ve never rea his story “The Last of the Belles”, and can’t comment on how good an adaptation of the story the “movie within a movie” presented here is. Nor do I know enough about life of the author to comment on the accuracy of the biographical details. Insteadi I simply have to take the presentation at face value.

Still, even with all of that said, I decided to approach this simply as a movie, without any additional baggage.

Well, you can infer the results from what I said above about it turning nto nap time.

I’d love to at least be able to say that there are performances within the movie that redeem it, but honestly, even with the presence of Blythe Danner as Fitzgerald’s wife Zelda and the usually at least entertaining Susan Sarandon as her younger fictional avatar, there’s still just nothing to make it stand out at all.

I will give the film makers one positive point. For a while it seems as though the eventual outcome of this exercise is going to be a redemption of Fitzgerald or some sort of reconciliation between him and his emotionally estranged wife through this journey through the past, but the writers and producers at least have the guts not to go for the happy ending.

Okay, I’ve spent enough time and words on this one. Let’s just put it in the “I watched it so you don’t have to” file. You’re welcome.

Up Next: The Excellent 80s  Disk 1 Movie 3: Second Sight: A Love Story– To see or not to see: Is that the question?

Say “Cheese” 004 – Intimate Agony (1983)

This past Christmas my son got me a Mill Creek box set called Awesomely Cheesy Movies. 100 movies on 24 disks, it’s actually a combination of two of their earlier released sets, “The Swinging Seventies”, and “The Excellent Eighties”.

For those of you who may not be familiar with these Mill Creek sets, they are generally comprised of  public domain or made-for-television movies that are reproduced without embellishment, enhancement, or extras and are sold in large collections for very low prices. This means that the quality on them can be quite variable, and they often show signs of age and wear. Nonetheless, there are often hidden gems amongst what can be large swaths of dross.

Anyway, I’ve decided to wend my way through this collection, starting with the first movie on the first disk of the 70s collection, then the first movie in the 80s set, then back to the 70s, and so on, and see just what turns up. If nothing else, it should be interesting. Come along, won’t you?

Okay, confession time: Back in the early eighties, I was a huge fan of General Hospital. For those of you who were not around at the time, it might be surprising to know the cultural impact that a daytime soap opera had.

For some reason, the romance between Luke Spenser and Laura Webber (the main characters in the show at the time, played by Anthony Geary and Genie Francis) had caught something in the cultural zeitgeist and led to the show expanding beyond the typical soap opera audience. Their marriage ocurred on the show on November 17, 1981; and was watched by 30 million viewers. To this day it remains the highest-rated hour in American soap opera history.

Of course it didn’t hurt that at the time the show also moved away from its focus on the day-to-day goings on at the hospital and the typical storylines that followed from that and instead became more of an adventure.spy show featuring the couple and various other characters fighting villains intent on taking over the world.

All of which is to say that it’s easy to see why Anthony Geary was chosen to play Dr. Kyle Richards in the TV movie Intimate Agony. He certainly had enough of a background in delivering the necessary medical information to play the role while at the same time being well qualified to handle the more melodramatic aspects of the film.

And trust me, the melodrama abounds. Fortunately, Geary is not alone in having to shoulder that burden. Judith Light, best known from TV’s Who’s The Boss? is Geary’s love interest. The Man From Uncle himself, Robert Vaughn, is an unscrupulous real estate developer who doesn’t want word of the spreading infection getting out lest it compromise his new condo plans. Of course once his daughter Katy (Cindy Fisher) finds herself infected, he may have to change his point of view. Or not.

The movie also prominently features Mark Harmon and his terrific 80s porn ‘stache as the island’s resident tennis pro and womanizer who, upon finding out that he, too has the dreaded disease, wonders just what the future may hold for him since he feels reduced to, as he puts it, an overpaid tennis shoe salesman.

Even more melodrama is heaped on when a young man named Nick finds out that he, too, has herpes. The problem here is that Nick’s wife is pregnant, and she doesn’t understand why he suddenly won’t make love to her. Is it because of her pregnancy or is there some deeper problem?  Rather than admit to her what the real problem is (thereby also admitting that he’d been unfaithful to her, Nick eventually acquiesces, a decision which he will live to regret as he also infects her, and they lose their baby due to it picking up the disease during childbirth,

 

I mentioned at the start that Anthony Geary was particularly suited for this role because of his role as a doctor on General Hospital. This is especially true because throughout the film he is required to lecture his patients (and anyone else he can get to give him an ear) about not only the angers of the disease, but also possible treatments and the best way to get on with living a “relatively normal lifestyle”.

Because herpes is a virus, we learn, there is no cure, and those who are infected are subject to recurring outbreaks. The trick, we are told, is to be aware of the potential dangers and to inform any potential sexual partner of the problem. Of course, this movie came out just before the HIV epidemic became a national concern and would turn things like herpes into relatively minor concerns.

In the end, Intimate Agony is not exactly a bad film, but it does come across as something of an Afterschool Special for grown-ups. With Geary’s frequent lectures on the disease (culminating in a community-wide meeting for those suffering from the disease an/or wanting to learn more) it works overtime to get its message across. Still, there is enough going on in the community and enough good character work that it is not completely bogged down by its subject matter.

Of course, there is one question that the movie left me with and never quite answers: Should Mark Harmon’s mustache also be considered an infection, an if so, is it in any way related to whatever caused Anthony Geary’s epic white-guy-fro mullet?

Up Next: The Swinging 70  Disk 1 Movie 3: The  Last of the Belles – F. Scott Fitzgerald writes a story! Woo hoo!

Say “Cheese” 003 – The Gun And The Pulpit (1974)

This past Christmas my son got me a Mill Creek box set called Awesomely Cheesy Movies. 100 movies on 24 disks, it’s actually a combination of two of their earlier released sets, “The Swinging Seventies”, and “The Excellent Eighties”.

For those of you who may not be familiar with these Mill Creek sets, they are generally comprised of  public domain or made-for-television movies that are reproduced without embellishment, enhancement, or extras and are sold in large collections for very low prices. This means that the quality on them can be quite variable, and they often show signs of age and wear. Nonetheless, there are often hidden gems amongst what can be large swaths of dross.

Anyway, I’ve decided to wend my way through this collection, starting with the first movie on the first disk of the 70s collection, then the first movie in the 80s set, then back to the 70s, and so on, and see just what turns up. If nothing else, it should be interesting. Come along, won’t you?

Well we’re back in the realm of made for TV movies this time with 1974’s The Gun and the Pulpit starring Marjoe Gortner. Oh, and we’re also back in Western territory.

This time out we actually begin mid-hanging, with Gortner, as gunslinger Ernie Parsons at the wrong end of the rope. Just as he is about to be set swinging, salvation arrives in the form of a cute girl who is smitten with him an tells the posse that someone else has confessed to the murder he has been convicted of. Parsons is released and sent on his way, but when he refuses to take the girl with him, she admits that she lied about the confession, and the chase is on.

Once the credits have finished, Parsons figures he’s far enough ahead that he can stop and rest for a moment.When he does, he runs across the dead body of a preacher who was on his way to a new town. Fortunately for Ernie, the townsfolk had never met their new preacher, so he assumes the dead man’s identity and his role as the new preacher.

As it happens, Parsons arrival coincides with the funeral of a man named Sam Underwood who was murdered under the orders of the town boss known as Mr. Ross. Though he is reluctant to stay, Ernie takes a liking to Underwood’s daughter Sally (Pamela Sue Martin), and decides to attempt to rally the townfolk to fight against the evil Ross.

Parsons is aided in his efforts by an old gunslinger known as Bolly One-Eye, played by the always entertaining western veteran Slim Pickens.  There’s also an interesting turn by character actor Geoffrey Lewis as rival gunslinger Jason McCoy.

This is an interesting role for Gortner, whose parents arranged to have him ordained as an evangelical preacher when he was only four years old. He then spent most of his early childhood performing on the revival circuit until he found out his family seemed actually more interested in amassing a fortune than in serving the lord. Then shortly after Gortner’s sixteenth birthday his father ran off with what was later estimated to be around three million dollars.

In 1970 his dissatisfaction with the church and his lifestyle grew to the point where he agreed to participate in what was to become the Academy Award winning documentary Marjoe, an expose of the practices of the evangelical revival movement. Ir was after this that Gortner began his acting career.

The Gun and the Pulpit was based on the novel The Fastest Gun in the Pulpit by Jack Ehrlich and was, like The Hanged Man, intended to be the pilot for a possible series.Would it have made it had it been picked up? It’s hard to say, but Gortner is engaging in the role, an the script is light and has just the right amount of humor to keep things moving along briskly.

I couldn’t find an embeddable trailer for the movie (not surprising for a made for TV film), but here’s  a short clip showing the confrontation between Parsons and McCoy:

Up Next: The Excellent 80s  Disk 1 Movie 1: Intimate Agony – General Hospital’s Anthony Geary discovers herpes!

Say “Cheese” 002 – Dear Mr. Wonderful (1982)

This past Christmas my son got me a Mill Creek box set called Awesomely Cheesy Movies. 100 movies on 24 disks, it’s actually a combination of two of their earlier released sets, “The Swinging Seventies”, and “The Excellent Eighties”.

For those of you who may not be familiar with these Mill Creek sets, they are generally comprised of  public domain or made-for-television movies that are reproduced without embellishment, enhancement, or extras and are sold in large collections for very low prices. This means that the quality on them can be quite variable, and they often show signs of age and wear. Nonetheless, there are often hidden gems amongst what can be large swaths of dross.

Anyway, I’ve decided to wend my way through this collection, starting with the first movie on the first disk of the 70s collection, then the first movie in the 80s set, then back to the 70s, and so on, and see just what turns up. If nothing else, it should be interesting. Come along, won’t you?

Oy. So we move into the 80s this time with the first movie from the Excellent Eighties collection, and I’m afraid we’re off to a bit rougher start.

Before we even get to the movie itself, let’s talk about the reproduction. I mentioned in the intro that one of the ways Mill Creek manages to keep the price down on these collections is to not spend any money on refurbishing the movies presented in these sets. Sometimes this isn’t really a factor, but at other times, as in the case of Dear Mr. Wonderful, it is. The movie looks like it was taken from an early VHS release, and perhaps not even a first-generation copy at that. It’s not unwatchable, but in this case the age really shows.

Of course, if this were some kind of hidden gem, then that might not be quite so much of a problem. There are some movies that it’s worth suffering through a less than adequate transfer simply to be able to say you have seen them. Unfortunately, Dear Mr. Wonderful isn’t one of those movies.

mw2The film stars a young (or at least as young as he ever was) Joe Pesci as aspiring lounge singer Ruby Dennis. Dennis is the part owner of a combination lounge/bowling alley. That’s right, while Ruby is singing, there are picture windows behind the audience where one can watch people bowling. Actually, considering Pesci’s crooning, it might be a good move to remove the windows and let the sounds of strikes and spares drown out the singing.

Of course, Ruby’s not content with his lounge singing/bowling alley life. Instead he figures it’s time to make the big move to Vegas. In he meantime, however, he’s stuck living with his sister and her teenaged son. Well, stuck for a while, anyway, because she, too, is dissatisfied with her life and soon moves out to dedicate more of it to her work with the homeless and destitute, leaving Ruby to try to raise the boy alone.

Oh, and when I mentioned above that Ruby was the part owner of the alley/club, I neglected to mention that the other owner is “the mob”. Yep, Ruby is in well over his head. Especially since the gangsters in question are wanting to take over the place in order to tear it own and  develop the site.. Oh, and he also has to contend with the fact that his nephew is beginning to fall into a life of crime.

Ruby’s life finally hits its lowest point when his idol, Tony Martin, shows up at the lounge one night then leaves in the middle of a song Ruby has dedicated to him. Actually he doesn’t just leave, but before his exit he takes he time to bowl, completely embarrassing Ruby and causing him to leave the stage in chagrin without even finishing the song.

Eventually, Ruby manages to recover and finds the will to return to the stage.

And that’s it. Yep. No showdown with the mob, no big confrontation with his nephew (who appears at the end to be on the verge of getting himself a legitimate job), not even a convergence of the sister’s storyline with some type of gangster threat. Nor any kind of big break for Ruby which will allow him to make his Vegas dream come true. Nope. Just Ruby getting ready to go back on stage

Whew! Let’s be honest here: if Dear Mr. Wonderful is an example of what’s to come in the Excellent Eighties set, then it may be very mistitled.

Here’s a short clip from the movie which features the highly imitable song stylings of Joe Pesci:

Up Next: The Swinging 70s  Disk 1 Movie 2: The Gun and The Pulpit– Marjoe Gortner takes on the wild west!