Category Archives: steve friedman

The Story of Mankind

The Story of Mankind ~ I had heard about this film for the first time on the Steve Friedman Mr. Movie radio show, but had never had a chance to see it until recently on TCM.

It is the story of two angels, Ronald Colman and Sir Cedric Hardwicke, arguing over the fate of mankind. A sort of history of the world with a star-studded cast, The Story of Mankind is also known for being the last Marx Brothers film (although they appear separately), and also Colman’s final film appearance. It was also produced, directed and screenwriter by the master of disaster films, Irwin Allen.

Vincent Price is delightful as The Devil, and as narrator, but that us just the beginning of the odd and sometimes inspired casting of stars as historical figures. Peter Lorre as Nero is fun, but Hedy Lamarr is painful as Joan of Arc, and the Marx Brothers should never have shown up to this party.

The Story of Mankind is a fairly fun flick even with all its flaws. Worth seeing once, and definitely a good choice for kids if you want to sneak some education into their entertainment. Check it out.

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RIP Steve Friedman

Mr. Movie has passed away, and I didn’t know. I just thought he was sick and folks were filling in for him. But he had died, sadly of kidney failure, more than a month ago, and he just isn’t there any more.

Radio is a strange thing. We always assume it’s going to be there, and by connection, the people on the radio will be there as well. Tonight I heard an errant comment by the hosts of “Remember When” on 1210 AM where it was said Steve was looking down from heaven. I raced to the internet, and there it was, over a month ago, Steve Friedman had passed.

The man they called Mr. Movie had been a radio fixture in the Delaware Valley for more than three decades. Even when I disagreed with the man, which was quite often, I loved him. His passion for movies and his scary encyclopedic knowledge of them was awesome by any stretch of the imagination. In the three decades he was on the air I went from a casual lover of film to running a video store to being somewhat of a movie critic myself – and I can’t help but think that he had some indirect influence over that.

For most of his uneven run on Philadelphia radio I was a regular listener. I called and spoke with him on more than one occasion – notably once trying to recover from the serious WTF experience of seeing Blue Velvet for the first time.

He taught me more about film than I can’t to admit. I don’t think I see any new movie without thinking ‘I wonder what Mr. Movie will think of this.’ Steve Friedman is a voice in the night that will be missed.

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Borat


I owe Steve Friedman a huge apology. He’s Mr. Movie, heard locally on talk radio in the Philadelphia area for nearly twenty-five years (currently at WPHT 1210 AM Saturday nights), is one of the foremost experts on film and cinema ever – he knows almost as much as I do. 😉

We frequently disagree, but as has been said a million times, Opinions are like a-holes, everyone has one. This past Saturday night Steve went on about how Stranger Than Fiction wasn’t a great flick and how he didn’t like it. I thought it was brilliant, nothing new, as I said, we frequently disagree. He then followed that opinion up with his thoughts on Borat, which he said he walked out on. That’s a pretty forceful statement coming from any film critic, something is so awful that they had to walk out of it.

Upon hearing that I immediately relayed the info to my bride and said, “We MUST see Borat, if Steve hated it that much, it’s probably good!” Additionally, there was also all that hype about it being the funniest movie ever made, and of course, it was also number one at the box office (not that that is a big deal, hell, Wedding Crashers was number one at one point). So we went to see Borat.

I sincerely apologize, Steve. This is one where we agree completely. I wanted out of the theatre almost at once. I did not, however, walk out, though I wish I did.

Borat is a racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-Semitic piece of shit.

DO NOT SEE THIS FILM.

13th Child

“IS CLIFF ROBERTSON RELATED TO ADAM SANDLER?”

A Film Review of 13th Child: The Legend of the Jersey Devil: Volume One

Copyright 2002 Glenn Walker

Oh boy. Oh. Boy. Where do I start? Let’s go from the title. 13th Child: The Legend of the Jersey Devil: Volume One is just so short and concise it just rolls off the tongue perfectly. Sarcasm mode off. But only for the moment.

“13th Child” actually relates to the real legend of the Jersey Devil, of which there is precious little in this movie. According to the legend, Mrs. Leeds (or Shourds, depending on which version you believe) gave birth to a thirteenth child. So sick of childbirth was she that she cursed the baby to be a devil. Lo and behold it was and promptly flew up the chimney and out into the south Jersey wilderness known as the Pine Barrens. There it has roamed for well over two hundred years. No mention of that makes it into the film.

The thirteenth child here is a non-sensical reference to an ancient Native American (Leni Lenape, to be exact, at least they got the name of the tribe that roamed the area right) curse about a thirteenth child being a shape-shifter. Like I said, nonsense.

Why ruin a perfectly good centuries-old horror story with crap like that? The other thing about the title that bothers me is “Volume One.” It mocks us with its arrogant intent for sequels. The last movie that tried that was Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins and I think we all know how many sequels that one had.

Other than professionals (and I use the word loosely) like Robert Guillaume and Cliff Robertson (who unbelievably had a hand in writing and producing this mess) the acting is horrible. It’s the worst. I can act better than these idiots and anyone who’s seen me act (check out “Standard Issue” or “Elbow Talk” at http://www.whitevioletpictures.com) knows what a terrible insult that is.

Not only does the acting suck the directing is slipshod and the story is a sloppily written flasbacked mess. At some points it hurt to watch. I really want to slap Cliff Robertson.

There are good parts. At times it seems like an early Roger Corman work with Ed Wood sensibilities. With some Band-Aids here and there it could (maaaaybe) have been good. It does have an old school 1970s horror flick vibe going for it.

The music is superior, better than most of the crap we get in horror movies lately. It’s very suspenseful and builds wonderfully. It even punches up scary scenes that might normally have been dull without it thanks to what passes for actors in this mess.

The best part for me, and it’s only a novelty for myself and other folks who actually live in south Jersey, is that it’s filmed here. A majority is filmed at Batsto, an old historical village that is now a park. The town made cannonballs for the American Revolution, it doubles for a creepy old man’s property. Very cool, for some of us at least. Also for the locals, look for a brief cameo of Mr. Movie, Steve Friedman, but not his voice.

The special effects aren’t bad, the Jersey Devil seems to owe quite a bit to Alien and is genuinely scary until we get a close-up in the light – bad move. Lit up, it just looks cheap.

More bad than good. Let’s hope we never see “Volume Two.”