50-Movie All Stars Collection, Disc 7

Hmm. Since I try to average two posts a week, today takes care of next week entirely…

Before I put the finishing touches on C&I 6:6 (and I’m sure there are goofs–aren’t there always?), I was on the treadmill as usual, finishing up the fourth TV-movie on this set. One winner, one that would be a winner if the picture wasn’t dark, and two OK…

The Pride of Jesse Hallum, 1981, color, Gary Nelson (dir.), Johnny Cash, Brenda Vaccaro, Eli Wallach. 1:37.

Johnny Cash plays Jesse Hallum, an illiterate coal minor who has to move to Cleveland so his daughter can have surgery for scoliosis. After he admits to being illiterate (to Eli Wallach as an aging owner of a produce distribution company, where Hallum gets a menial job), he lowers his pride enough so that vice principal Brenda Vaccaro (daughter of the produce man) can teach him to read. Well done, but the print is dark and occasionally damaged. Even with that, it’s worth $1.25.

Voyage of the Yes, 1973, color, Lee H. Katzin (dir.), Desi Arnaz, Jr., Mike Evans, Scoey Mitchell, Della Reese, Beverly Garland. 1:15.

I was immediately put off by Arnaz and Evans (both sitcom veterans) mauling “El Condor Pasa” under the titles. The story’s absurd: A spoiled high-school grad with his own sailboat wants to sail to Hawaii before entering Stanford, but he’s such a charmer that none of his friends will go along and his parents won’t let him sail solo. Enter Evans, who’s fleeing because he accidentally killed his abusive uncle (Scoey Mitchell, who like Della Reese gets about five minutes in the picture); Arnaz picks him up as a hitchhiker and takes him along. Events ensue, naturally, with distrust, storms, near-death, and bonding…great scenery, acceptable acting. If you can completely turn off your logic switch, not bad; the video quality is very good. $0.75.

Cry of the Innocent, 1980, color, Michael O’Herlihy (dir.), Rod Taylor, Joanna Pettet, Nigel Davenport, Cyril Cusack. 1:33.

A Frederick Forsyth thriller, made (and set) in Ireland, and quite well done. Taylor’s an insurance man who used to be some sort of operative. On holiday, he’s out of the house when a plane crashes into the house, killing his family. The crash turns out to have been intentional, with machinations involving a multinational corporation. Taylor turns the tables on hired guns out to get him. Good video quality, Cusack’s charming as a laid-back Irish police officer, Taylor and Pettet are OK. Good enough to be a second feature. $1.50.

All the Kind Strangers, 1974, color, Burt Kennedy (dir.), Stacy Keach, Samantha Eggar, John Savage, Robby Benson, Arlene Farber. 1:13.

I’m not sure what to say about this one. Photojournalist Keach picks up a kid carrying heavy groceries, delivers him to a house way off in the woods, is forced to accept a dinner invitation when the car won’t start. The household consists of seven children—and a woman in the kitchen they call Mom, who writes “HELP” in the flour she’s working with, when they’re alone for a moment (in a kitchen with a lock outside the door and barred windows). The kids don’t have any parents, and pick up kind strangers who either act as their parents or are “voted out.” Moderately chilling, but it doesn’t go anywhere—the ending basically falls apart. Benson’s better than usual, and the video quality is good. The picture, though, is a real disappointment. Being generous, I’ll say $1.00.

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