Wednesday, February 13, 2013


Haven't seen many of the old Warner Brother mooms ever since they left the local television screens in the eighties, but when I do see 'em the memories sure come rushin' back. Memories of not just what I was doing and where my adolescent mindset was headin' when I first started paying attention to film as something more'n electronic babysitter backdrop, but memories of how people used to behave and interacted with one another in a definitely pre-modern (and more human) way. You used to see it with your grandfolk and uncles and aunts who actually made it through the thirties and forties intact, though today the ones who are left have become so jaded with the way things are that even they couldn't care anymore. But when I settle back and watch an old Warner Brothers movie (or television program, or anything made prior to 1967 for that matter) I can still get an inkling of just what it was kinda like back then, when things like family and friendship and duty and all of those other dirty words still had meaning, long before the peace and love generation took hold of the reigns and EVERYTHING became so back-stabbing you wonder when these so-called starry-eyed types have the time to be so everybody but us peons natch!

Watching JUKE GIRL this past Sunday afternoon naturally flashed me back to the Golden Days of Tee-Vee, or at least the days when films like these and many more were cluttering up your local station's morning/afternoon and late night (or even prime time if you lived near an indie!) schedules long before the court room cases and talk show hosts of an even more questionable sexuality than Merv Griffin's began popping up on your screen. This is the kind of film that, along with repeated LITTLE RASCALS/OUR GANG shorts, really gave us kiddies an education in cinema history that you never could get in any college elective course, and with the jam-packtus talent both in front of and behind the camera you really know you're in for a funtime watching this 'un unravel before your very eyes...I mean, it's so good that even Ronald Reagan does an above average job in it and you'll admit so even if you still haven't taken down your Mondale/Ferraro campaign signs off the front lawn!

The whole shebang has to do with two itinerants played by Reagan and future BEVERLY HILLBILLIES director Richard Whorf who end up in the sleepy Florida backwater of Cat Tail. While there, Reagan teams up with a Greek farmer (George Tobias, or Abner Kravitz to you!) who's tired of being pushed around and cheated by the local packing bigwig Madden, done up particularly wicked-like by June's own pop Gene Lockhart. Whorf however decides to stake his claim with Madden which, along with vying for the affections of a local "Juke Girl" (I think they now call 'em whores) played by the always watchable Ann Sheridan, leads to a split between the two which intensifies once Reagan and Tobias manage to get the local pickers to work for them thus resulting in a very successful snap bean payoff in Atlanta. Naturally that's when the funzies really start, and although I don't wanna give too much away let's just say that what happens next leads to a big rip roaring climax unseen since the days of BIRTH OF A NATION, and if you ain't sitting at the edge of your seat waiting for the entire humongous outcome to burst all over you like a festering pimple then you have all of the nerve, stamina and mental capabilities of a Karen Quinlan and boy do I pity you!

The Warners stable is out in full force here from the oft-used Tobias to the even more oft-used Alan Hale playing the kinda big buddy type his son would use to great capacity on GILLIGAN'S ISLAND. Not only that, but the likes of Guy Wilkerson, Fuzzy Knight and even William Hopper pop up in the mix lending their talents to the great Warner's drive to show everyone what a putz studio MGM really was. Also be on the lookout for the infamous Willie Best as "Jo Mo" selling lucky charms in front of the juke joint almost like he would have done in real life, though in reality he would have been selling "something else" in front of one, ifyouknowaddamean...

Really, I couldn't've thought of a better way to spend my freebee time than watching JUKE GIRL, and millions of thanks be to Bill Shute for sending me a dub of this. Now if Bill could only send me some other items to rekindle those adolescent obsessions of mine, like a complete run of 1961-1973 Marvel Comics, the entire PATTY DUKE SHOW collection, fried to a crackly crunch Cheetos and maybe some old NATIONAL GEOGRAPHICs and a jar of Vaseline. And while yer at it, remind me to keep the water runnin'!

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