The Over-the-Hill Gang, 1969, color. Jean Yarbrough (dir.), Walter Brennan, Edgar Buchanan, Andy Devine, Jack Elam, Gypsy Rose Lee, Ricky Nelson (and Kristen Nelson), Pat O’Brien, Chill Wills, Edward Andrews. 1:15 [1:10].
Age and guile beat youth and speed every time—one lesson from this charming lightweight western. A retired Texas Ranger goes to visit his son (Ricky Nelson!), the crusading newspaper editor of a corrupt Nevada town who’s running for mayor against the boss (who owns the local saloon/casino and runs the sheriff and judge). When he sees how bad the situation is, he calls for his squad—three other truly over-the-hill ex-Texas Rangers, but also a squad of Hollywood’s elder stars.
Fun, funny, with an interesting plot and a truly stellar cast. I probably saw this when it first aired and enjoyed it thoroughly again. The sound’s off a bit at times and it is, after all, a TV movie, cutting this to $1.75.
The Over-the-Hill Gang Rides Again, 1970, color. George McGowan (dir.), Walter Brennan, Fred Astaire, Edgar Buchanan, Andy Devine, Chill Wills. 1:15.
This sequel is set in Waco, where an ex-Texas Ranger named the Baltimore Kid has supposedly been arrested and is in danger of being lynched. The three “others” from the previous film ride off to Waco (precluding the near-immediate wedding of one of them), only to find the Kid’s already been lynched…and the newspaper editor is the deposed judge from Boulder (turned good guy, apparently).
Turns out the Baltimore Kid’s not so much dead (somebody stole his wallet) as trying to preserve himself several drinks at a time…and the plot moves on from there. Once again, it’s age and guile vs. speed and stupidity. While some of the stellar cast from the original is missing, there’s one magnificent addition—Fred Astaire, the Baltimore Kid, in a great turn both as hopeless drunk and as spiffed-up marshal. The print’s odd, with some color shifts and sound problems. Still, an easy $1.50.
Angel on My Shoulder, 1946, b&w. Archie Mayo (dir.), Paul Muni, Anne Baxter, Claude Rains. 1:40 [1:30].
A second-rate hood, Eddie Kagel, gets out of the joint after a four-term term. His sidekick, who’s been running his operation, picks him up and gives him back his gun—or at least four bullets’ worth. We’re then treated to a fairly long slice of a fairly impressive Hell, whose overlord really never does feel quite warm enough. Nicky (or Mephistopheles if you prefer) spots Kagel’s resemblance to a Good Judge and gubernatorial candidate who’s a little too good for Nicky’s taste—and is aware that Kagel wants nothing more than revenge on his sidekick.
The plot’s afoot. They arise; Kagel occupies Judge Parker’s body; and somehow all Nicky’s evil plans backfire… It’s not exactly a laugh-a-minute comedy, but it’s quite a picture, particularly Kagel’s interactions with the judge’s fiancée (Anne Baxter), a fine upstanding girl, and his butler—neither of whom quite understands his new speech patterns. Claude Rains is suave and effective as Nick. Well played and a good print, this really is a classic. Unfortunately, the sound track’s noisy (and ten minutes are missing), reducing this to $1.75.
Eternally Yours, 1939, b&w. Tay Garnett (dir.), Loretta Young, David Niven, Hugh Herbert, Billie Burke, C. Aubrey Smith, Zasu Pitts, Broderick Crawford, Eve Arden. 1:35 [1:29].
An engaged young woman (Young), granddaughter of a minister (Smith), goes from her shower to a show—at which she falls instantly (and mutually) for Arturo (Niven), a magician. Abandoning her man, she goes off with the magician—getting married and going on a world tour. She’s not thrilled by the lipstick on his collar and even less by his tendency to try dangerous stunts—but finally leaves him because he never wants to settle down, and she does.
She divorces him (in Reno), he falls apart, tries to find her…and, well, the rest of the plot includes a cruise, an on-board marriage, and another example of the heroine’s attitude toward men who love her but aren’t Arturo. Sorry if that’s cynical, but I was less than enthralled by this woman’s attitude toward every other man. Certainly well-acted, great cast, and the print’s OK but the soundtrack’s noisy. I’ll give it $1.50.