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Found 15 results

  1. I'd seen clips from the early Woody Allen comedy, "Everything You Always Wanted To Know about Sex* (*But Were Afraid To Ask)," and when I was in elementary school, heard little "secrets" about this racy movie, which consists of seven semi-short segments - each unrelated to the others, but all related to questions about sex (which remain pertinent to this day). I was expecting virtually nothing from this film, but it delivered more than anticipated. Very few things are "ha-ha funny," but much of it is clever, and it has aged surprisingly well. In terms of recommending it, I'd say that if you like "The Kentucky Fried Movie" and "Sleeper," you'll probably enjoy this. Actors include Gene Wilder (in an outrageous role that will make you cringe if you're seeing this on a first date), Burt Reynolds, Woody Allen, John Carradine, Lou Jacobi, Louise Lasser, Regis Philbin (!), Anthony Quayle, and Tony Randall. If you look at our small list of 1971-1972 Films in the Film Index, you'll see that this movie fits right in with its time.
  2. So, about Allen Funt's theatrical, x-rated version of "Candid Camera" - the 1970 film, "What Do You Say to a Naked Lady?" The first actor in this trailer sure looks like a younger version of the guy in "Kentucky Fried Movie" (1977) being on the receiving end of Feel-Around.
  3. None other than Dr. William Lessne, a noteworthy film buff, advised me to watch the early Stanley Kubrick film, "Paths of Glory." This film is to Kubrick as "Johnny Got His Gun" is to Dalton Trumbo - following in footsteps of "All Quiet on the Western Front," this is a patently anti-war, WWI film - all three of these are must-sees within this narrow genre, although unlike the other two, "Paths of Glory" focuses more on bureaucratic corruption, rather than the simple horrors of war (this will be made clear within minutes). Kubrick trivia: Only two actors have been in three Kubrick films - Philip Stone, and Joe Turkel, who was in "Paths of Glory," and who also played the ghostly bartender in "The Shining." Film historian Robert Osborne says this was the favorite war film of Sen. John McCain. How many young men and women do you think are prepared to do this for our country right now? A country needs to be worth fighting for ...
  4. The connection between "Carrie" and "The Handmaid's Tale" is stronger than one might initially think - the difference in stifling oppression occurring between that of an insanely religious, psychopathic mother, and a falsely religious, psychopathic, male-dominated society. Both are tales of attempts at absolute female submission - Carrie by one, sick individual (while tormented by a Lord of the Flies-like hell-school); Handmaid by an entire, dystopian society. Sissy Spacek distanced herself from the rest of the cast (hopefully via Director's decision) early on in the film, during her amazingly poignant and sad shower scene (interestingly, Brian De Palma used nearly the exact same, piercing sounds that Alfred Hitchcock used in "Psycho," shortly following the shower scene (if he had used it during, this film would have immediately descended into farce, and would have been ruined)). Has anyone else noticed this? Some of the scenes in this film are so poorly acted that it nearly comes across as farce, despite itself. PS - Remember Nancy Allen, the High School Bitch from Hell, that fellated John Travolta, and was the mastermind of the entire prom plot? Guess who married Brian De Palma three-years after Carrie was released? A classic chicken-and-egg mystery. Sissy Spacek was beautiful in this movie; not so much physically beautiful, as just a beautiful person -her "first kiss" scene at the prom was as touching as it was tragic to the viewers who knew something awful was about to happen. Stephen King is a real prick for the ending, which I had completely forgotten about.
  5. "For a Few Dollars More" is the second movie in Director Sergio Leone's "Dollars Trilogy" or "Man with No Name Trilogy" (depending on your preference). Unlike its predecessor, "A Fistful of Dollars" (which is completely unrelated in plot), there's a chance you'll recognize an actor other than Clint Eastwood - Lee Van Cleef plays a memorable supporting role as a competing bounty hunter to Eastwood (if - and only if - you've watched "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence," Van Cleef is one of Valence's henchmen in this clip (most noticeable upon exiting the restaurant). Also, instead of two family clans fighting, there is a singular, despicable villain in the character of Indio (Gian Maria Volontè), whom film director Alex Cox described as "the most diabolical Western villain of all-time." Although more concise, and "tighter" in story line than "Fistful," this film is still, as Roger Ebert said, "composed of situations and not plots." If you're a younger reader, and have heard of the term "Spaghetti Western," but don't quite know what it means, all you need to do is watch this trilogy, and you'll understand completely - these movies are to Westerns what strip-mall Chinese-American restaurants are to Chinese cuisine. They're not bad, mind you, but they're really closer in spirit to the Wuxia martial arts films of China, than the beautiful masterpieces of John Ford (think, cheap dubbed martial arts fights with people doing triple somersaults in the air before kicking). Okay, they're not *that* bad, but they're sort of in the same vein. If you're only going to watch one of these first two, make it this one (I don't remember the final film. "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly," well enough to comment right now, and after just the first two movies, I'm pretty much "Spaghetti-Westerned out") - it's more coherent, and has better character development and story arc. Clint Eastwood is *perfect* in his roles, and you can easily see how he became a screen legend, but these movies just aren't all that great - they're "fun" for young adults, but I doubt they were serious threats at the Cannes Film Festival. *** SPOILER FOLLOWS *** Can anyone explain why Eastwood left with the sack of money at the end? He was a bounty hunter, yes - a killer - but he didn't come across to me as dishonest. Was he going to give it back to someone?
  6. For those wishing to watch all the films in Sergio Leone's "Man with No Name Trilogy," (or "Dollars Trilogy," if you prefer), all three were released in America in 1967, but they were filmed in Spain in the following order: 1964 - "A Fistful of Dollars" 1965 - "For a Few Dollars More" 1966 - "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" You'll be doing yourself a favor to watch them in order, and to pay close attention to names and faces early on in "A Fistful of Dollars" - Clint Eastwood is quite possibly the only actor or actress you'll know in this film, so it's important to sort things out, and to be mindful of both the Rojo brothers, and the Baxter gang - two rival families vying for control of this nasty little pueblo, the fictional San Miguel, just south of the Texas border. *** SPOILERS FOLLOW *** Eastwood rides into San Miguel, and immediately proves his prowess with a gun, earning grudging respect from both factions - the Rojos and the Baxters - and spots a deviant way to profit from the situation, pitting one family against the other. It all sounds very interesting, and this movie is rated *very* highly by almost everyone, but 45 minutes into a 1'40" movie, I think it's pretty damned boring. I know this was Sergio Leone's first "Spaghetti Western," and he felt that American Westerns of the late 1950s and early 1960s had become stolid and dull; but so far, I think *this* is stolid and dull. Well, it has another 55 minutes to sort itself out, and it's only the first of a trilogy, so maybe I should cut Leone - a legend - something of a break, given that I have very limited knowledge of the American Western pre-1964. Leone wanted to offer Eastwood's role to Henry Fonda, but couldn't afford him. Then, his second choice was Charles Bronson, who felt the script wasn't very good (so far, I'm in the Bronson camp). Fully *seven* other actors turned down the role, before Leone reached out to Eastwood, a relative unknown at the time who could be hired on the cheap - the fact that he was the *tenth* choice for the role tells me that this movie might be more about "the making of a star" than "the making of a good movie." Okay, I'm going to keep watching with an open mind, 100% Rotten Tomatoes rating be damned - if this movie ends, and I think it's boring, I'm going to come right out and say so. There's no doubt, however, that Eastwood brings a serious panache to the role, and I can easily see how a star was born with this film. I must admit that Eastwood is playing a fascinating, deadly, and profitable game of chess - but he's neither white nor black; he's controlling the chessboard from up above, wearing both opponents down, piece-by-piece, and pocketing some money each time he does. Also, 1'15" into this film, things have *really* picked up. After a *brilliant* gambit, a terrible turn of events resulted in Eastwood getting the Holy Hell beaten out of him, and all bets are now off - this last 25 minutes is going to be about whether he can survive (and of course, he will). But, wow, has this film taken a turn towards the upside. The Baxters aren't exactly saints, but the Rojo clan is pure evil - they have massacred two groups of innocent people in this movie, and deserve whatever punishment and retribution come their way. And come it did.
  7. "Lenny" (1974) - Directed by Bob Fosse (Academy Award Winner for Best Director of "Caberet," Academy Award Nominee for Best Director of "All That Jazz," Academy Award Nominee for Best Original Screenplay for "All That Jazz") Produced by Marvin Worth (Co-Producer of "Malcolm X") Written by Julian Berry (Co-Writer of "The River") Featuring Dustin Hoffman as Lenny Bruce (Academy Award Winner for Best Actor as Ted Kramer in "Kramer vs. Kramer" and as Raymond Babbitt in "Rain Man," Academy Award Nominee for Best Actor as Benjamin Braddock in "The Graduate," as Enrico Salvatore "Razzo" Rizzo in "Midnight Cowboy," as Michael Dorsey in "Tootsie," and as Stanley Motts in "Wag the Dog," Thomas Babington "Babe" Levy in "Marathon Man,"), Valerie Perrine (Montana Wildhack in "Slaughterhouse-Five," Eve Teschmacher in "Superman" and "Superman II"), Jan Miner as Sally Marr (Madge the Manicurist) --- As of this writing, "Lenny" is one of 43 films to be nominated for the Academy Awards "Big 5" - Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, and Best Actress (it didn't win any, but with "The Godfather, Part II" and "Chinatown," there was some stiff competition that year. *** SPOILERS FOLLOW *** One interesting thing that viewers may not notice is the scene where Bruce is talking about "stag films," and how harmless they are compared to, for example, "King of Kings." However, right after that, Bruce is driving away in a rainstorm, gets T-boned by another car, and then smashes into a ... stag. I'm not sure what this means, but it can't possibly be a coincidence. The cinematographer Bruce Surtees gets credit for this, and numerous other shots, such as Lenny and Honey glancing at each-other between the legs of other people. I found the initial threesome scene utterly fascinating - there was no dialogue, and no music; just facial expressions on top of complete silence. Yet, the eye contact "spoke" more than any words could ever say. And this is another example of Bruce using real-life situations to give him inspiration for his stand-up comedy routines (obviously, many comedians do, but it's *really* apparent in this film that Bruce positively milks his antics, extracting all he can from them). Like so many stand-up comedians, I don't find Lenny Bruce to be the least bit funny - he comes across to me as more of an Andy Kaufman: a performance artist; at least Richard Pryor made me laugh, and George Carlin, even if I wasn't always laughing, entertained me endlessly. Similarly, this film had certain things in common with "Man on the Moon," which was more depressing than funny.
  8. "Rebecca," Alfred Hitchcock's first American project, is a Gothic tale filled with suspense. There is fine acting, beautiful cinematography and more twists and turns than your favorite roller-coaster. I wanted to see this film because I have watched a number of movies lately starring Joan Fontaine, and this is considered by many to be her finest work. "Rebecca" is the only Alfred Hitchcock-directed film to win an Academy Award for Best Picture. It is based on the 1938 novel of the same name written by Daphne du Maurier. Filmed in black-and-white, "Rebecca" has a darkly brooding, mysterious feel to it. Fontaine is perfect as the naively sweet second Mrs. De Winter, living in the shadow of her predecessor, Rebecca. Fontaine and Laurence Olivier have wonderful chemistry in this film. All of the actors are top-notch, but Dame Judith Anderson is simply unforgettable in her role as the demented housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers. "Rebecca" is a sweeping, captivating picture that every lover of classic films should see.
  9. I have every intention to watch the classic, 1954, Japanese film "Seven Samurai" by Akira Kurosawa, and since I've been riding so high in the saddle with American Westerns recently, I decided to watch the classic, 1960 remake first: "The Magnificent Seven," pretty-much knowing that Seven Samurai will be better, and possibly a lot better. Now, that I've watched it, I hope "Seven Samurai" is a *lot* better, because "The Magnificent Seven" was merely a good - not great - American Western, even though you'll hear otherwise from plenty of critics. Perhaps I think so because I've watched *so* many great American Westerns lately, or perhaps movie critics are like so many restaurant critics - going for big celebrities, lots of PR, tons of hype, free meals, and God knows what else. Of the so-called "great" American Westerns I've seen, only "Shane" has disappointed me more. Don't get me wrong: "The Magnificent Seven" isn't a bad movie; it's just not a great movie ... it falls somewhere in-between. It was worth watching for me only because I'm recently fixated on the genre, and also as a preparatory exercise for "Seven Samarai." Only two of the seven (plus the villain) get billing before the movie title: Yul Brynner (Chris Adams), Eli Wallach (the bandit Calvera), and Steve McQueen (Vin Tanner). The other four, Charles Bronson (Bernardo O'Reilly), Robert Vaughn (Lee, the war veteran), Brad Dexter (the mercenary), James Coburn (the knife fighter), and Horst Buchholtz (the kid, Chico), each had their own screen, but were presented after the title. The movie was filmed entirely in Mexico, which helped; I only wish the Mexican actors were either better-trained, or didn't use English as a second language, because it really showed up - granted, this is how it would be in real life, but in contrast with the suave, dramatically and well-versed Americans, the difference in acting - particularly the diction - was rather dramatic. Wow, my first impression is that Calvera is a lot like Negan on "The Walking Dead." *** SPOILERS FOLLOW *** The most beautiful scene in the movie was Harry Luck's (Brad Dexter's) dying scene, in Chris Adams' (Yul Brynner's) arms. Each of "The Magnificent Seven" took this low-paying ($20 for six weeks) job for different reasons. Luck's primary reason was that he had always thought that there was something more in it for him than just a measly $20. He said to Chris, "I'd hate to die a sucker. We didn't come here just to keep an eye on a lotta corn and chili peppers, did we? ...." Chris answered, knowing Chris had mere moments to live, "Yes, Harry. You had it pegged right all along," and then told him there was a half-million dollars in buried gold, from which his share would be about $70,000 - it was all a lie to make Harry die with a smile on his face, which he did. Here are the following two stills, less than one-second apart from each other: Make note: Despite Harry Luck being a mercenary, he was a good person, and the "little white lie" told by Chris was entirely appropriate, and absolutely compelling. Harry's last words, delivered during the first photo, were, "I'll be damned." Chris's words, delivered immediately after Harry died, were, "Maybe you won't be." If only the rest of the film could have been this profound, it would have been a great movie. "The Turbulent Three": Nobody in the Seven was more dimwitted, or more wise, than Chico (Horst Buchholtz). As dumb as dirt, he was the only of the seven who walked away with First Prize. For all its hype, and for all its stars, "The Magnificent Seven" was simply not a great film; it was a good film, but it lacked coherence, and dare I say logic? Now I'm *really* hoping that "Seven Samurai" simply didn't transfer well to the Western genre - with the stars and the budget this film had, it should have been absolutely fantastic; it wasn't. It's a good movie, and worth seeing, and that's as far as I'm willing to go - what I'm really hoping is that it will deepen my appreciation for "Seven Samurai," but now I"m wondering whether or not I should see "A Bug's Life" first as well. I hate to come right out and say, "All the critics are wrong," because Rotten Tomatoes uses either a thumbs-up or thumbs-down model, and I have no problem giving this a "thumbs up," but once you get into more nuance than a simple, binary, "yes-or-no," once again, I find myself agreeing with Dave Kehr more than any other active critic: And I know I lack the specific experience to come right out and say that all the professional movie critics are wrong, but ... all the professional movie critics are wrong.
  10. I remember watching "The Mechanic" (1972) with my dad when I was a child. I'm in yet another "Jack Reacher" mood, but don't want to completely waste my time - I remembered enjoying this as a child, and it's in a similar genre (sort of), so why not relive my childhood, and watch something with some historical merit? Besides, it features bad-ass Charles Bronson as an assassin - what more could you want in a mindless action film? Note also that producers Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler would go on to produce "Raging Bull" eight years later. What a difference a superstar director (Martin Scorsese) makes! "The Mechanic" is noteworthy in that it has *no* dialogue of any kind for the first sixteen minutes (I knew this going into the film). This was particularly interesting to me because at around the two-minute point, a single, dissonant, ominous-sounding, organ chord starts to build up, Bolero-style, and you wonder how it could possibly go on for another 13 minutes - mercifully, there's a lull in the tension, and it dies down. One thing this sixteen minutes of no dialogue does is allow for a leisurely presentation of the opening credits, which you don't mind, because there is action taking place on the screen. The first shot of Arthur Bishop (Charles Bronson) in his own environment shows that he is a man of taste - while alone in his thoughtfully furnished abode, he turns on a beautiful, overture-like piece on a cassette recorder - probably a slow movement from a symphony - highlighted by angelic-sounding violins, and (this is the advantage of having a food and wine critic do your film reviews, because I suspect I'm the first person in history to mention this) is drinking a bottle of Cheval Blanc, and given the age of the film, and Cheval Blanc's vintage track-record in the 60s, my guess would be that it's a '64 - he didn't decant it, so it couldn't be too old - but he needs a better claret glass than he has. This type of juxtaposition with the gritty and the urbane is exactly why "Road House" is a guilty pleasure of mine, and why I occasionally enjoy films like The Mechanic. How's this for a blast-from-the-past and product placement? The Mechanic is an interesting take on the classic tale of The Great Master taking on an apprentice, with some natural talent, under his wing. Early in the movie, you may recognize Keenan Wynn, who starred in "The Man in the Funny Suit" (he was the son of Ed Wynn), and thus, once again, so many things trace back to Rod Serling. Keenan Wynn played Harry McKenna, whose son, Steve McKenna, was played by the rising (and since hard-fallen) star Jan-Michael Vincent, who is The Mechanic's apprentice. This is sort of like an amoral version of "Jiro Dreams of Sushi." *** SPOILER ALERT *** Given that they only touched on Bishop's character development (albeit clearly showing he's depressed, anxious, and lonely), I'm not convinced that a man of his skill-set - which is nearly superhuman - would so willingly take on an apprentice without testing him "to the max" first - and by "to the max," I mean, having him kill someone and putting his (McKenna's) entire life in Bishop's hands - Bishop never tested him like that, and it's simply not plausible that he would have taken McKenna on so willingly without having done so first, not when he's playing at this level. (I should add that I'm only an hour into the film, and have forty minutes left, so he may have something else up his sleeve, but Bishop essentially showed his hand to a virtual unknown, without asking anything in return first). Someone *this* good, with this much invested into his lifestyle (and I mean, Bishop was the *ultimate* assassin), would never take that risk without having something heavy and lethal to hang over McKenna's head - just in case. Well, there are less than twenty minutes left in the movie, and it's been obvious for awhile that the entire paragraph above was justified, but naive. I am very curious to see how this is going to play out, and wondering how Bishop is keeping his sanity. You'll know what I mean when you see the film (they recently arrived in Italy). Funny, I just rewatched "The Departed," and there is some overlapping thematic material in these two movies (as in, "rats like cheese"). Who's going to crack first, I wonder - the underlying tension introduced in the past 10-20 minutes is now permanent until something happens. All I know is this: Any film that makes you worry about the fate of a cold-blooded killer can't be all bad, but I'm nearly 100% confident that Bishop is going to be okay, and I'll tell you why when I finish the film - the answer was right before my eyes about forty-five minutes ago. The movie is over, and I was wrong. I thought *sure* the karate match between the old master and the young, cocky kid who broke the rules (about an hour into the movie) was a direct parallel to what would happen at the end. It wasn't, and I'm shocked that Bishop would put himself in the position he did, regardless of what eventually happened to McKenna. This movie "broke the rules" of drama by not letting me take advantage of the foreshadowing I saw, but I guess everyone got their comeuppance in the end, so it's dramatically complete, and really - where was Bishop going to go? For that matter, where was McKenna going to go? His snuffing of Bishop was *not* sanctioned by Bishop's employers (even though the film could have made that more clear), and they were angry about Bishop taking him on as an apprentice. It's still not clear to me why Bishop would unilaterally take on a partner without even asking his mysterious, shady, yet clearly *very* powerful bosses - he was only asking for trouble, and sure enough, he got it. I also remember the last scene of the movie very well, although I didn't remember it was from this film (I last saw this with my dad when I was eleven). It is just not reconcilable that Bishop would do this to himself, and that's the one fatal flaw in The Mechanic - he was too smart, with too much to lose, to let himself slip up like this, especially when he knew it was coming. Yes, he essentially "insured" his life, but to what end? Thus, The Mechanic just isn't a great film - it's a good action flick, with slightly insufficient character development, and inadequate justification of the choices Bishop made - it's worth watching as long as you know you're not seeing anything profound, but it just doesn't make enough sense for any intelligent person to buy into. And there you have the opinion of DonRocks.
  11. Gosh I've seen Cloris Leachman a lot lately - it's so easy to become familiar with actors and actresses in older films, because there just weren't as many. Leachman is the very first thing you'll see in "Kiss Me Deadly," a genuine classic, independently made, archetypal example of film noir from 1955. (The lower-body shots are certainly a stunt-double (either that, or they were sped up), because I'd bet my bottom dollar that Cloris Leachman couldn't run that fast. Interestingly, that opening shot was the very first time Leachman ever appeared on camera - likewise Maxine Cooper, who plays Mike Hammer's secretary, Velda.) Mike Hammer, a stereotypical Mickey Spillane detective, is played by Ralph Meeker, who has a somewhat similar role in Season 1, Episode 1 of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" later in 1955 - I suspect playing Hammer is what got Meeker his part in HItchcock's excellent "Revenge" (which you should watch on Hulu, if you're a member). Just in case you hear the name Christina Rossetti, and don't know who she is. *** SPOILERS FOLLOW *** Boy, what is it about 1955? There is a *very* disturbing, albeit non-graphic, scene towards the beginning of this movie - certainly more than enough to make you pity Cloris Leachman. Wow, about the car bombs: I *just* saw an episode of "The Saint" called "The Careful Terrorist" which used a "double-bomb" method, planting an obvious one, but also a second, non-obvious one that was supposed to be the *real* agent of death. That episode, shall we say, "borrowed" that sequence of events from this film - fortunately, the "good guy" in both cases was somewhat superhuman in his intuitive abilities, and had the wits to figure out the sinister plot. This may be the most violent movie I've ever seen from the 1950s; the difference is that none of the violence is graphic (which, to me, makes it scarier) - I'm surprised at just how far they're willing to go with this. "Thugs" is too gentle of a word for what these mobsters are. Hammer is led to Christina Bailey's (Cloris Leachman's) "roommate," Gabrielle (Lily Carver), and it's very hard to tell what to think of her - this is one of the main elements in Film Noir - it's the story line, not the character development, that drives things. We know nothing about *any* of these people - it's almost Photographic in a way, since we're capturing moments in time. This particular film, after all, had a major influence on the French New Wave movement. This film has allegory written all over it - this is *not* the finish you'll be expecting. What a fascinating movie this was - a perfect fusion of Film Noir and hard science fiction. Jean-Luc Godard, a seminal figure in French New Wave cinema, was apparently deeply influenced by "Kiss Me Deadly," and it's not hard to see why - who knew that *Mickey Spillane* would indirectly influence an entire movement in Europe?! In "The Usual Suspects," I mentioned how annoyed I am at at internet know-it-alls who try to sound smart by misusing the term Film Noir (which "Kiss Me Deadly" most certainly *is*). Now, I'm going to say that I'm equally annoyed by people who misuse the term MacGuffin (which the suitcase in "Kiss Me Deadly" most certainly *is not* - when the reveal is made, the viewer realizes they've just seen a film unlike anything else they've ever seen before - it was no fluke that those opening credits were rolling in reverse order). "Kiss Me Deadly" is available for free, with good quality, on oldmovietime.com (and there are no Czech subtitles - I'm not sure why it says there are).
  12. When I was in my mid-20s (maybe in the late 80s), "The Manchurian Candidate" made a revival on the big screen, and I saw it, and really enjoyed it while also thinking it was something almost campy. Now that I've seen it a second time, I realize that I was too uneducated to appreciate the film - this was an incredibly well-done movie, somehow able to take the absolutely unbelievable - bordering on the ridiculous - and make it seem positively realistic and possible. For me, The Manchurian Candidate is almost like a "Greatest Hits" album of actors, and I cannot imagine how Frank Sinatra - and for that matter, Lawrence Harvey - weren't nominated for Best Actor (the great Angela Lansbury was nominated for Best Supporting Actress, which is reasonable, but she was outperformed by both of these men). It says a lot that The Manchurian Candidate would speak louder and more clearly, and also be more believable, to an educated 55-year-old man than an enthusiastic, but ultimately ignorant 24-year-old boy. Back in the 1980s, I considered myself very knowledgeable about film for an amateur; what I wasn't knowledgeable about was life itself. Back then, I distinctly remember talking with a Vietnam Veteran, who made an off-the-cuff remark to the extent of, "I really have trouble watching that stuff, because it messes with my mind," and I can easily see how he thought that ... now; back then, I didn't really understand. I just cannot get over how this movie managed to make something so utterly implausible seem so incredibly realistic and possible. Although I had no memory of how the film ended, I did manage to guess the ending sequence with a high degree of accuracy, but though I knew what was coming (or thought I did), nothing was ruined or compromised - the film ended exactly how it needed to - it was a heart-wrenching, but beautiful, ending to a heart-wrenching film. The Manchurian Candidate is a *big* film, with *big*, *bold* ideas and messages, and it succeeds on that level, but what makes it truly great is the individual-level, human tragedy that unfolds before our eyes. The irony of a sabotage-themed work invoking such strong feelings of patriotism - all without overtly manipulating the viewer in that regard - is amazing in-and-of itself. I'm not sure how "good" this film is rated by critics, but this is absolutely one of the most important Cold War movies I've ever seen. Sadly, people who are any younger than I am will simply not be able to relate to this in the way that I can, as my formative years were spent during the apogee of the Cold War - in elementary school, we'd crawl under our desks to simulate how we'd act in case of a nuclear-bomb attack. Although I suppose this generation of children has their own cross to bear, with being trained how to deal with school shootings - the more things change, the more they stay the same. There is a *ton* of symbolism in this movie - much of it obvious, some of it more subtle, but it's probably nearly impossible to pick it all out. You could watch this film a second time, just looking for symbols, and not waste your time. An absolutely classic film in several regards, and the best work I've ever seen from both Frank Sinatra and Lawrence Harvey.
  13. in 2007, the American Film Institute voted "12 Angry Men" the #2 Courtroom Drama of all-time (it doesn't take much to guess #1). This is a really good movie that is deeply flawed in a couple of spots, forcing resolution much sooner than would actually occur in order to finish the play (variants on Deus ex Machina). Still, it's a wonderful character study and drama that has essentially one setting, but was filmed in several hundred takes (!), with 12 men deciding the life-or-death fate over a young Puerto Rican man (who sure looked Pakistani to me, but I guess back then, "what's the difference?"). Jack Klugman is of special interest to me because he's a Baltimore Orioles fan, and this film takes place in 1954 - the first year that the St. Louis Browns moved to Baltimore and became the Orioles. If you watch this film, you'll know why I think Brooks Robinson should be nicknamed "The Groundskeeper" instead of "The Human Vacuum Cleaner." There were a couple moments that were simply so improbable that I felt they tainted the story - imagine unbreakable steel, withstanding all sorts of assaults, and finally buckling when a gnat flies into it - you get the point. But if you can forgive that - and I can - it's an important film that would also make for a solid play. I don't know if this was actually a theatrical production, but it would be very, very easy to stage, and it is in no way dated. A lot of the names up above you won't recognize, but you'd absolutely recognize their faces (Robert Webber, for example, in "Private Benjamin"). "12 Angry Men" is a great way to spend ninety minutes, and you'll enjoy trying to guess what happens at the end. The *actual* end, i.e., the final scene, which takes place in a moment of time outside the courthouse, is a small blip of genius.
  14. Yes to Stagecoach! I love westerns too much to pick a top one, or five, or even ten, but Stagecoach is right up there for me, not Shane. I like elements of the Shane story better in Pale Rider with Clint Eastwood, Carrie Snodgrass, Michael Moriarty, and Sydney Penny. I like the supernatural element in Pale Rider.
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