Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

CM Year in Review 2022

Well, I can’t say 2022 was the greatest of years for the Monolith, but at least I posted more reviews (4) and articles (2) than I did the previous year, which for me was a step in the right direction. As for movie watching, I was also surprised that I’d upped that amount – by 85 – compared to 2021…though part of that success could be attributed to being out of work for the entire year. Trust me, when you can stay up as late as you want every day, it leaves plenty of free time for movies, day and night (but apparently not enough time for writing reviews and articles).

I was also hoping to participate in more blogathons as well, but I ended up taking part in none…not even for the two I’m actually part of, and helped create! (Maybe this year, Mike, Mikey, Greg, and Lindsey!). I also cut back quite a bit on movie-related purchases, hoping to save some money for rent and food, but a few discs found their way to my shelves anyway, which you’ll read about below.

So like last year, I’m going to do my best to increase my output on the site, and at the very least, try to get at least one review or article posted per month, which would automatically double my total from 2022. As always, thanks to everyone who visited and commented, and once again, pop yourself some corn, get comfortable on your futon, answer the phone for Alan Ladd, and check out what the Monolith had to offer in ’22!

Movie Totals

Total films watched in 2022: 206
Total from 2021: 121
New to me in 2022: 114
Total CM reviews in 2022: 4
Total CM reviews since start of blog: 231

Viewing Locations

At home: 152
At the theater: 0
At a friend’s house: 52
At a local park: 1
On a passenger jet: 1

Source Breakdown

DVD – 47
Blu-ray – 29
HD-DVD – 0
VHS – 0
Beta – 0
Theatrical – 0
Broadcast on TV – 34
Digital file on TV – 31
Pay-per-view on TV – 2
Free on-demand on TV – 14
Streaming on laptop – 48
Streaming on Delta Airlines – 1

Decade Breakdown

1920s – 0
1930s – 10
1940s – 25
1950s – 41
1960s – 18
1970s – 40
1980s – 30
1990s – 8
2000s – 8
2010s – 16
2020s – 10


• I watched 28 episodes of Svengoolie on MeTV.
• I borrowed no movies from the library (I decided to stop that practice in 2021).
• I watched four movies twice: John Wick 3, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood,
Nobody, and It! The Terror from Beyond Space.
I watched 15 film noir, seven vampire films, and six baseball movies.
• March was my busiest month, with 27 movies watched.
• My movie for Halloween night was Terror Train.
• My Christmas Eve movie was National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

A Series of Series

Whether it was by chance, on purpose, or my subconscious hard at work, I ended up watching eight different movie franchises last year, a feat that kicked off with the classic Thin Man series, which I watched in January while staying with my friend Julie in Tucson, who happened to own the DVD set. That series included the most entries of the bunch, with six, followed closely by The Exorcist and its four sequels, the three Bad News Bears films of the ’70s (and the 2005 remake), the three British sci-fi Quatermass films, and the Godfather trilogy, a Blu-ray gift from my friend Doug. Three of the series I watched consisted of just two films each: 2001 and 2010, the two Count Yorga vampire films, and the classic 1976 Jaws rip-off Grizzly and it’s 44-years-too-late sequel, Grizzly II: Revenge. One series I plan on watching this year is a big one: every episode from all six seasons of the Canadian sketch comedy show SCTV.

My Five Favorite ‘New-to-Me’ Films

As most of you know, I no longer see films at theaters, whether they be current releases or revival screenings, and instead watch all my movies at home. So like the two previous years, all of these new-to-me favorites came from the small screen, which ranged in size from 65″ all the way down to 5″. And I was happy to discover that my five picks were from five different decades!

5. As Young as You Feel (1951)

My last movie of the year turned out to be one of my favorites; I stumbled upon it by chance, and decided to give it a watch strictly because of two of its stars: Monty Woolley and Marilyn Monroe. Perhaps it caught me on a good night, but I had a really nice, fun time with it, in an easy-going, low-key kind of way. Woolly plays a 65-year-old working at a large printing company, who’s forced into retirement because of his age. Upset about losing his job, he goes back to the company pretending to be the president of the parent company, on a surprise inspection tour, causing panic and mayhem in the process. Just a blissful, innocent, happy little film, that I’m surprised isn’t more appreciated than it is.

4. Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

Yes, yes, I know…a 2022 theatrical release…but I watched it on a big at-home screen with some crackling good sound, so I kept my ‘no cinema’ promise. I never expected this movie to match – or pay such great homage to – the original, but it certainly did, and I was impressed with everything about it. Tom Cruise returns as Pete Mitchell, aka ‘Maverick’, now a test pilot, who is sent to San Diego to train a recent group of Top Gun graduates on a mission to destroy a Soviet uranium plant. He soon becomes their team leader, and the group heads off on what could be a suicide mission. The in-flight action sequences were simply above and beyond, and though I expected these scenes to be top-notch, I also found myself involved in the dramatic, character-drive aspects of the story as well. For me, an unexpected winner.

3. Fail Safe (1964)

Talk about intense and scary as hell, this movie is chock-full of both! An error in communication results in a squadron of U.S. military jets heading to Russia to drop nuclear bombs on Moscow; they ignore all attempts to stop them, thinking it’s a Soviet ploy. Henry Fonda is the U.S. President, tasked with trying to convince the jet pilots to return, or to have them shot down, while Russia threatens to retaliate with an attack on the U.S. if the jets succeed. Fonda is outstanding as the President, grappling with an impossible decision that could affect millions; Sidney Lumet’s black-and-white photography and extreme close-ups add to the stark gravity of the situation. The film and its story are nearly sixty years old, but they’re still as relevant – and frightening – as they were back then.

2. The Stratton Story (1949)

I’m a big fan of baseball films, but only when they’re done right…and this one was done right. Based on a true story, Jimmy Stewart plays Monty Stratton, a White Sox pitcher in the 1930s who loses a leg in an accident, and must overcome depression and his physical handicap to not only walk again, but perhaps even learn to pitch again. This was first and foremost a baseball movie, and a character study of a man overcoming the odds, but it was also a sweet romantic drama focusing on Stratton and his wife, played by June Allyson, who was just adorable. The director was Sam Wood, who also helmed the equally-moving Pride of the Yankees, and I was thrilled not only to see real players and ballparks take part in the action, but to see the baseball scenes played out realistically, and convincingly.

1. Hard Times (1975)

Good lord, was this one ever good…simply outstanding from start to finish. Bronson plays a Depression-era drifter who, in need of money, becomes a bare-fisted street fighter. He partners with manager James Coburn, and they head to New Orleans for more profitable matches; after a shady deal, Bronson must take on a professional fighter to save Coburn’s life. I haven’t seen that many Bronson films, and I’ve liked most of what I’ve seen, but I never, ever knew he could be so good in a film! Everything about this was commendable, from Bronson and Coburn playing their characters to perfection, to the direction and screenplay by Walter Hill (his first directing job), to the period atmosphere, to the brutal, well-choreographed fight scenes, and right down to the satisfying conclusion. A must see in all regards.

And Three That Struck Out on Three Pitches, and Looked Horrible Doing So

1. The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training

2. The Bad News Bears Go to Japan

3. Bad News Bears (2005)

Additions to the Monolith

Two favorite television series on DVD, and two movie Blu-rays to replace their counterparts on DVD…and that was it for movie-related purchases for me for the year. First, the Blu-rays, both from Amazon: a collector’s edition of The Thing, loaded with extras, that I grabbed at a reduced price of $13.99, and on the same order, The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection, which includes their first five films, plus commentaries and extras, and a great steal at just $14.99.

As for the TV series, I’d wanted to pick up the Blu-ray of Kolchak: The Night Stalker, but at sixty bucks, the older DVD set looked to be the more affordable deal, at just $14. And another childhood favorite, that I rediscovered on TV during the month I was sick: Adam-12, where I picked up all seven seasons through Amazon, eBay, and my local Zia Records stores. While watching on MeTV, I began to notice that – along with suffering through commercials and the general lack of picture clarity – most if not all episodes were being edited for time, and too often, important details were being cut out of scenes. So I thought, to hell with this, and immediately bought the DVD sets, which as expected were a definite improvement.

If You Only See One Film This Year…

…by all means, make it The Beast of Yucca Flats! Why it took me so long to watch this, I’ll never know….a best-worst classic in every regard, and one that can be enjoyed again and again in all its inept, low-budget, laugh-out-loud glory. Yes, that’s Tor Johnson, of Plan 9 from Outer Space fame, playing the part of a Russian scientist who wanders into a nuclear test zone, gets irradiated, and goes on a murderous rampage, and almost eats a rabbit alive. If you have friends or family who appreciate this sort of thing, I suggest inviting them over for a group screening…this is best enjoyed with like-minded viewers, who will engage in MST3K-type quips, questions, and putdowns right along with you. I honestly wish this was available on Blu-ray, in a cleaned-up print with audio commentaries, a behind-the-scenes documentary, and whatever else could be added as bonus features; I’d buy it without hesitation. In the meantime, there’s a good print here (with tacked-on nude scene included), a Trailers from Hell segment with Joe Dante here, and you can read all about the demented behind-the-scenes making of the film here.

And in Conclusion…

As always, a hearty ‘thank you’ to those who visited and commented here on the site in the lean year of 2022, and I hope to see you here again in more-productive year of 2023! And remember last year, I mentioned those dozen or so reviews that were about three-quarters done, and some articles that just needed a fine-tuning before posting? Well, this year I hope to get those up on the site, as well as a few other things I have in the works, so don’t despair. And once more, I look forward to chatting with you all in the comment sections, and hearing your stories, thoughts, and memories of your movie adventures and whatever reviews I happen to put up in the meantime.

30 comments on “CM Year in Review 2022

  1. butterboy44

    May 2023 be filled with more movies, more posts, and above all, more succulent corn… lightly salted.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Todd B

      Thank you, and may your wishes be proven correct! As for the popcorn: I’m already stocked, with Orville Redenbacher’s Naturals…Simply Salted.


  2. Lindsey

    Hey, even though you didn’t write as much as you wanted, you still did better than me! I watched 143 films last year, but not as many classics as I would have liked, and I reviewed nothing. Also, somehow (according to Letterboxd) my most-watched director was Tyler Perry…. not sure what that says about me or my 2022. 😂 Maybe I should post a recap for laughs.

    I will add The Beast of Yucca Flats to my watchlist on your recommendation. A “best-worst classic” discovery is exactly what I need!

    Cheers to a (hopefully) better and more productive ‘23 for both of us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Todd B

      Hi Lindsey! I can’t believe I did better than you, either…usually I wind up last – everywhere – when it comes to number of movies watched. 143 is still good, though…and it sounds like 59 of those entries were directed by Tyler Perry! And here I thought you ran a classic blog site!

      And awesome that you’re adding Yucca to your list…you MUST let me know what you think after you’ve watched it. And being a connoisseur of cheese as much as I am, I’m sure you’re going to love it. (And hopefully your fave Tyler Perry soon directs a remake).

      And…cheers right back at ya for an outrageously prosperous 2023 on the blogs, and in general!


      • Lindsey

        Actually, 142 of them were Tyler Perry… the real reason for the silence at TMP is that my time has been gobbled up by my duties as the founder and president of the Tyler Perry Fan Club!

        In all seriousness, I think I actually watched three or four of his movies haha. My sister and I marathoned a few over the holidays when we weren’t feeling the spirit. Some of them have corn classic potential if we expand the definition of corn to include pure melodrama. Think Douglas Sirk, but with worse cinematography and weaker scripts. There are a few scenes in Acrimony that make me laugh out loud.

        Yucca should be good for my Friday or Saturday night “after work” movie, so I’ll report back!


      • Todd B

        I hate to say this but…I’ve never seen a Tyler Perry movie! Therefore, I will not be joining your melodramatic fan club. But he apparently has another film in the works, so looking forward to seeing that total of yours climb to 143!

        Pretty funny, though…watch three movies and you’re labeled for life. And what’s the point of making a movie with bad cinematography and lousy scripts? Oh yeah…to entertain the likes of you and I!

        Can’t wait to hear what you thought about Yucca…I can think of no better way to spend a weekend. Wait…I think what I’ll do is, while you’re watching the original, I’ll watch the MST3K version, which I’ve never seen before. Then we can BOTH have outstanding weekends!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. dracula

    Surprised by only 15 film noir and also Top Gun: Maverick. Had no intentions of seeing Top Gun but maybe you changed my mind. What was the Delta Airlines movie? I just saw a good film festival movie on United the other day from Houston, A Coffee in Berlin.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Todd B

      Yeah, I’m going to have to boost those noir totals this year…I found a few movie sites that have a ton I’ve never seen, that I’m eager to get to. And the film I watched on Delta was Three Days of the Condor, which I’d already seen before, but it had been a while. Still as good, though.

      And the film you watched on the plane…I just checked out the trailer, and I can’t say I understand what it’s about (even with subtitles!), but I sure do love the black-and-white photography. Hard to believe a German-language indie film was being shown on a flight from Houston!


  4. geelw

    Funny thing, I STILL don’t own a copy of Jaws! Need to fix that soon, lol!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Todd B

      Greg, I must say, somehow I feel slighted by this admission! BUT, if you act now, you can get the Blu-ray, which includes a lot of cool bonus features, for just $7.50. Then, and only then, will I accept your apology.

      Liked by 1 person

      • geelw

        Here’s the really funny thing: a friend just reminded me that I lent him my Jaws DVD back when the lockdowns were rampant (he never saw it, even as a TV version), and I actually told him that he could keep it (oops!) Anyway, I’ll be replacing it with a blu-ray version soon enough!


      • Todd B

        I was about to denounce you right here on the site for your eye-popping indiscretion, but then you mentioned wanting to upgrade from DVD to Blu-ray, so all is forgiven. Until I find out you bought Jaws: The Revenge instead, at which point the denouncing shall begin in earnest.

        But seriously, considering what we’ve been discussing, that IS a pretty funny story.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow Todd that’s an awesome detailed watched list! Top Gun was a surprise wasn’t it. I’d gone in with zero expectations and ended up whooping gunho at the end. Fail Safe is truly masterful and keeps you on the edge of your seat with just good dialogue. So impressive, so haunting. Great to see you finally hit Hard Times. I guess Mike’s Take On The Movies will start talking to you again now. LOL…

    The Marilyn and Jimmy two films have been added to the look out for list.

    Off to investigate The Beast of Yucca Flats.

    HAHAHA now back.. LOL 1.9/10! What even with that fantastic premise? “A defecting Soviet scientist is hit by a nuclear explosion near Yucca Flats and roams around as a beast.” Will be checking out all those links to the film soon. Sounds like perfect fun-time is to be had.

    Here’s to 12 posts this year bro.


    • Todd B

      Ha, so I got you hooked into watching The Beast of Yucca Flats…let me know what you think, so I know to lock my doors and disconnect the phone! Also, you should check out the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version, also on YT…that has a lot of good laughs in it as well. And Tor Johnson is sooooo Tor Johnson in this…but there’s so much more! “Touch a button…things happen.”

      Is that all it took for Mike’s Take to start talking to me again…compliment a Bronson film? Wait…I never knew he stopped talking to me! What’s going on! What do you know that I don’t? I knew I never should’ve disparaged The Dirty Dozen!

      And here’s to a lot of posts from both of us this year, Wolfman.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. geelw

    Wait a sec. lol. Is that the uncensored cut with the surprise nude scene? I think I traded my copy of Jaws for that (Just kidding!!! Really!!)


    • Todd B

      If you had actually traded Jaws for a three-disc Criterion edition of The Beast of Yucca Flats…well, I would be quite envious.

      (And yes, the link in my post takes you right to the uncensored cut…enjoy!)


  7. geelw

    oh, I saw that cut already thanks to a video store rental mistake. Didn’t expect nudity, got nudity. It happens all the time!


    • Todd B

      Yeah, the same thing happened to me with Casablanca


      • geelw

        I was thinking more like Blue Velvet, but you get the point!


      • Todd B

        Yes, agreed…that moment was a bit of an eye-opener, that I was not expecting.


  8. geelw

    BTW, Saw JAWS: THE REVENGE new for $5 today. but I wasn’t biting (heh)…


  9. Eric Binford

    Fail Safe (1964) is a timeless classic, and, in my opinion, Hard Times (1975) contains Bronson’s best screen performance… it’s a reminder that he was a really good actor. BTW, I love MeTV! 😉


    • Todd B

      I can’t say I’ve seen anything from Sidney Lumet that I haven’t liked (though I haven’t yet seen The Wiz), and I’m hoping to watch more Bronson films this year…I think Breakheart Pass will be next on my list. And MeTV is about the only channel I watch…especially on Saturday nights!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Eric Binford

        I tend to like Lumet’s movies. I’m sure you’ve seen Network (1976), Dog Day Afternoon (1975), Serpico (1973), The Verdict (1982), etc. all great movies. I also enjoyed some of his least popular movies like The Hill (1965), Prince of the City (1981), Daniel (1983), Running on Empty (1988), and Q&A (1990) (very underrated crime drama). The Wiz (1978) is an acquired taste: some people like it, some people hate it. I thought it was good, but not great. I didn’t care for Just Tell Me What You Want (1980), A Stranger Among Us (1992) or Guilty as Sin (1993).

        As for Bronson, I think he was a very good actor who, unfortunately, got typecast quickly. Anyhow, Breakheart Pass (1975) is a cool whodunit-western. It has a great cast. I also liked Bronson in Rider on the Rain (1970), The Mechanic (1972), Telefon (1978) and the offbeat western-comedy From Noon Till Three (1976). The Indian Runner (1991) gave him a rare opportunity to stretch his acting muscles, and he is wonderful.


      • Todd B

        Thanks for the recommendations! Of the Lumet movies you listed, only Daniel and A Stranger Among Us are ones I haven’t seen (and I never realized he directed Just Tell Me What You Want, which I’ve never seen either, but have always been curious about, being Myrna Loy’s last film). And if you’ve never seen Lumet’s first, 12 Angry Men, I’d say it’s definitely worth checking out.

        As for Bronson, I’ve seen all from your list except Rider on the Rain and The Indian Runner…and both I had to look up, because I’d never heard of either of them! (Interesting that Rider is a French film, yet sure enough, there was Jill Ireland in the cast as well!). And I seem to remember liking St. Ives, but it’s been a year or two since I watched it, and now I’m not sure…I might be confusing it with a few others of his I’ve seen recently…perhaps Telefon.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Eric Binford

        I like St. Ives too. I can see why you are confusing it with Telefon. They have the same vibe. In fact, Warners released both movies together on DVD. Anyhow, I love Bronson’s ’70s output. His ’80s movies are harder to defend.


      • Todd B

        Agreed…I’d definitely go with Bronson’s ’70s work over his ’80s, though I still have a handful of his films from both decades left to see, which could sway my vote one way or the other! And that DVD two-pack you mentioned sounds like a winner…until I just now checked the price on Amazon…$47! Argh!

        And going back a comment or two, I also just checked the synopses for both of those films, and St. Ives was the one that I really liked.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Eric Binford

        $47.00? I think I paid $5.00 at Walmart. I guess it has now become a collector’s item. 😉


      • Todd B

        I own a few like that as well…my Criterion version of The Third Man, found in a discount bin, cost me a buck!

        Liked by 1 person

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Review Totals

Movies Reviewed: 232

From the Monolith: 129

Movies by Decade

1920s – 0
1930s – 6
1940s – 20
1950s – 39
1960s – 34
1970s – 36
1980s – 36
1990s – 7
2000s – 13
2010s – 41

Movies by Genre

Action/Adventure – 43
Comedy – 35
Crime – 23
Documentary – 5
Drama – 28
Horror – 38
Musical – 1
Mystery/Thriller – 19
Romance – 3
Sci-Fi/Fantasy – 28
Western – 8

Movies by CM Rating

10 star – 10
9 star – 28
8 star – 36
7 star – 34
6 star – 22
5 star – 23
4 star – 25
3 star – 18
2 star – 20
1 star – 13
0 star – 3

Movies by MPAA Rating

Pre-1968 – 94
G – 1
PG – 32
PG-13 – 35
R – 60
NC-17 – 0
TV and Unrated – 10

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