The Painted Veil, The****   1934


A W. Somerset Maugham novel was the source for the fair-to-middling Greta Garbo vehicle The Painted Veil. In a situation

 comparable to the plotlines of most of her silent films, Garbo is lovelessly married to Herbert Marshall, but carries a flaming 

torch for George Brent. (Also harking back to Garbo's silent days is the fact that neither one of the men in her life is 

particularly interesting!) Marshall, a brilliant physician, is compelled to go into the interior regions of China to quell a cholera 

epidemic. He knows that Garbo has been having an affair with politician Brent, and chivalrously gives her the choice of 

remaining with Brent or accompanying him. Fearing a scandal, Brent bids farewell to Garbo. Once they're in the midst of the 

epidemic, Garbo tirelessly works by her husband's side; eventually she falls in love with him for the first time. Seriously injured 

in a peasant uprising, Marshall hovers near death. Brent reappears, offering to take Garbo back with him. She refuses, electing 

to stay with her husband no matter what the future brings. Among the supporting players in The Painted Veil are Warner Oland 

and Keye Luke, one year away from their memorable pairing in Fox's Charlie Chan films.

Pandora's Box****     1929


 One of the masters of early German cinema, G. W. Pabst had an innate talent for discovering actresses (including Greta Garbo). And perhaps none of his

 female stars shone brighter than Kansas native and onetime Ziegfeld girl Louise Brooks, whose legendary persona was defined by Pabst’s lurid, controversial

 melodrama Pandora’s Box. Sensationally modern, the film follows the downward spiral of the fiery, brash, yet innocent showgirl Lulu, whose sexual vivacity

 has a devastating effect on everyone she comes in contact with. Daring and stylish, Pandora’s Box is one of silent cinema’s great masterworks and a

 testament to Brooks’s dazzling individuality.

Party, The****    1968 


Hrundi V. Bakshi, an actor on the New Delhi stage, is brought to Hollywood to play the title role in Son of Gunga Din. Bakshi is a 

bungler, however, and before long he has accidentally blown up the picture's most expensive location set. The enraged studio 

head, Fred Clutterbuck, vows that the Indian will never work in Hollywood again and writes his name on a slip of paper. 

Clutterbuck's secretary, however, misinterprets the memo and adds Bakshi's name to the guest list for a lavish party her boss is 

giving at his home. Once at the party, Bakshi stumbles into the producer's flower bed, loses his muddy shoe in the hors d'oeuvres, 

knocks a servant through a plate glass window, inadvertently turns on the lawn sprinklers, and slides off the roof into the pool. 

Then Clutterbuck's daughter Molly arrives with some of her college friends and a baby elephant painted in psychedelic colors. 

Shocked that one of India's revered beasts should be treated with such disrespect, Bakshi talks Molly and her fellow students into 

washing the elephant in one of the indoor pools. As some of the other guests join in, the house and lawn become engulfed in 

mountains of soapsuds, and before the party finally ends, the driveway is jammed with fire engines, police cars, an ambulance, 

and an SPCA truck. Clutterbuck eventually recognizes Bakshi and tries to strangle him, but the Indian manages to escape with a 

pretty starlet, Michele Monet. 


Pastor's Wife, The***1/2     2011

Based on the true story of Matthew Winkler, a beloved minister who, in 2006, was found shot and killed in his Selmer, Tennessee home, his wife and 

young daughters missing. Authorities soon zeroed in on Matthew's wife, Mary, as the prime suspect in the murder. After her capture, the residents of 

Selmer were left to wonder what would drive Mary to shoot her husband in the back as he slept. They would get their answers during her trial, when 

what went on behind the closed doors of this seemingly perfect family was revealed for all to see.


Paths of Glory*****   1957

Stanley Kubrick had already made his talent known with the outstanding racetrack heist thriller The Killing, but it was the 1957 

antiwar masterpiece Paths of Glory that catapulted Kubrick to international acclaim. Based on the novel by Humphrey Cobb, the 

film was initiated by Kirk Douglas, who chose the young Kubrick to direct what would become one of the most powerful films 

about the wasteful insanity of warfare. In one of his finest roles, Douglas plays Colonel Dax, commander of a battle-worn 

regiment of the French army along the western front during World War I. Held in their trenches under the threat of German 

artillery, the regiment is ordered on a suicidal mission to capture an enemy stronghold. When the mission inevitably fails, 

French generals order the selection of three soldiers to be tried and executed on the charge of cowardice. Dax is appointed as 

defence attorney for the chosen scapegoats, and what follows is a travesty of justice that has remained relevant and powerful 

for decades. In the wake of some of the most authentic and devastating battle sequences ever filmed, Kubrick brilliantly 

explores the political machinations and selfish personal ambitions that result in battlefield slaughter and senseless executions. 

The film is unflinching in its condemnation of war and the self-indulgence of military leaders who orchestrate the deaths of 

thousands from the comfort of their luxurious headquarters. For many years, Paths of Glory was banned in France as a 

slanderous attack on French honor, but it's clear that Kubrick's intense drama is aimed at all nations and all men. Though it 

touches on themes of courage and loyalty in the context of warfare, the film is specifically about the historical realities of 

World War I, but its impact and artistic achievement remain timeless and universal. --Jeff Shannon 

Pearl of Death, The***1/2    1944


Here is another strong entry (beautifully restored by the UCLA Film and Television Archive) from the peak of Basil Rathbone's

 prolific, seven-year run as a definitive Sherlock Holmes for the big screen. In the gripping Pearl of Death (1944), a

 then-contemporary update (set in the World War II years, as with most of the Rathbone-Holmes features) of Sir Arthur

 Conan Doyle's "The Six Napoleons," a reluctant Holmes agrees to help a London museum recover a stolen, rare pearl. But

 the investigation takes a strange turn when the great detective and his sidekick, Dr. Watson (Nigel Bruce), find their mystery

 linked to a series of odd murders involving the destruction of porcelain china. Typically, "Pearl of Death" has its share of

 inside jokes for true Sherlockians, including Holmes's declaration, "If I'm wrong, I'll move to Sussex and raise bees." Of

 course, that's exactly what Doyle's most famous character did upon retirement. --Tom Keogh


Penny Serenade***1/2   1941


 While listening to a recording of "Penny Serenade," Julie Gardiner Adams (Irene Dunne) begins reflecting on her past. Roger

 (Cary Grant) and Julie Adams suffer a tragedy when shemiscarries in an earthquake during their trip to Japan. They are told that

 she cannot have children. They request to adopt a two-year old boy, but ultimately adopt a much younger girl. They struggle to

 make ends meet and to retain their parental rights when Roger loses his job. When the little girl dies suddenly, the emotional strain

 threatens to destroy their marriage. Songs mark episodes in the action from records from their collection—the title refers to a song

 of the same name. In the end, they are offered the opportunity to adopt a little boy who matches their original request, miraculously

 saving their marriage.[1] 

Period of Adjustment****   1962

Shortly after his discharge from the hospital where he has been treated for the shakes, Korean War veteran George Haverstick 

marries Isabel, his nurse, a good-natured, romantic Southern belle. Their honeymoon gets off to a bad start when Isabel 

discovers that George has quit his job, that his "station wagon" is actually a hearse, and that their wedding night is to be spent

in a cheap motel. Despite his conspicuous display of masculinity, George feels inadequate, and to avoid failure on his wedding 

night he gets drunk and passes out in a chair. The next morning, he takes his disenchanted bride to Tennessee to visit a 

wartime buddy, Ralph Baitz, who married for money but now genuinely loves his wife, Dorothea. Because of trouble with his 

domineering in-laws, the McGills, Ralph has decided to quit the family business, and Dorothea has left him, convinced by her 

parents that she, too, will be abandoned. When Ralph's in-laws arrive to claim their daughter's possessions, a fight ensues, and 

everyone ends up at the police station. George and Isabel, forgetting their own problems, commiserate with Ralph and 

Dorothea. With their help and Ralph's gift of a fur coat to convince Dorothea that he isn't after her money, the Baitzes become

reconciled. George confesses his nervous anxiety, and Isabel lovingly reminds him that the best thing about marriage is that 

there is so much time to work out problems. 

Personal History, Adventures , Experience &
        Observation of David Copperfield the Younger
, The*****     1935

David Copperfield was MGM's major Christmas release for its 1934-1935 season and also the first of producer David O. Selznick's 

major "literary" films for that studio. While a great deal of editing and streamlining was necessary to distill Charles Dickens' 

massive novel into 133 minutes of screen time, the end result was so successful that only the nittiest of nitpickers complained 

about the excised characters and events. Freddie Bartholomew plays the young Copperfield, who, after the death of his mother 

(Elizabeth Allan), is cruelly mistreated by his stepfather, Mr. Murdstone (Basil Rathbone). David's life brightens when he meets the 

ever-in-debt Mr. Micawber (W.C. Fields), and he is sheltered by Micawber's large and loving family until Micawber is carted off to 

debtor's prison. Forced once more to seek a home, David makes his way to the Dover estate of his Aunt Betsey (Edna May Oliver), 

where he meets another colorful cast of characters, none more so than the childlike Mr. Dick (Lennox Pawle). When Murdstone 

arrives, insisting that David be returned to him, Aunt Betsey and Mr. Dick form a united front to protect the boy. Flash-forward 

several years: the grown David (now played by Frank Lawton) is attending school, where he meets the lovely Agnes Wickfield 

(Madge Evans). David discovers that Agnes' businessman father (Lewis Stone) is under the thumb of the "'umble" prevaricator Uriah 

Heep (Roland Young) and the equally disreputable Steerforth (Hugh Williams). With the help of Mr. Micawber-who in a weak 

moment has taken a job working side-by-side with Heep-David proves Heep's treachery and rescues the Wickfields. By rights, he 

should marry Agnes, but David impulsively weds the empty-headed Dora (Maureen O'Sullivan). Only after Dora's death does David 

come to his senses, realizing that Agnes is the true love of his life. Originally, Charles Laughton was slated to play Micawber, but 

he pulled out of the production, worried that he wouldn't be funny enough. The casting of W.C. Fields was an inspired choice: 

although he injects his own established screen personality at every opportunity, Fields was born to play Micawber. Likewise, 

second-billed Lionel Barrymore fits his portrayal of crusty old Dan Peggoty like a glove. In fact, there isn't a false bit of casting in

the whole production, and this, as much as Selznick's sumptuous production values, is the key to David Copperfield's enormous 

success. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Pete Kelly's Blues***1/2   1951's_Blues_(film)


In 1927 Kansas City Pete Kelly and his jazz band play nightly at a speakeasy. A local gangster starts to move in on them and when 

their drummer is killed Kelly gives in, even though this also means taking the thug's alcoholic girl as a singer. Kelly soon realises he 

has made a big mistake selling out in this way and that rich girl Ivy is now the only decent thing in his life. Written by Jeremy 

Perkins <> 

In 1919, returning soldier Pete Kelly wins a cornet in a crap game. By 1927, he has a small jazz band playing in a Kansas City 

speakeasy. Gangster Fran McCarg wants extortion money from Pete; hot flapper Ivy Conrad wants Pete in person; but Pete just 

wants to keep the band together. Against a background of Dixieland jazz, pervasive corruption and angst may finally force Pete to 

take action. Written by Rod Crawford <>

Petrified Forest, The***1/2   1934


Burned-out British intellectual Alan Squier (Leslie Howard) wanders into the desert service station/restaurant owned by Jason 

Maple (Porter Hall). Alan finds himself an object of fascination for Jason's starry-eyed daughter, Gabrielle Bette Davis, who 

dreams of moving to France and establishing herself. Boze Hertzlinger (Dick Foran), Gabrielle's gas-jockey boyfriend, grows 

jealous of Alan, but the penniless, dissipated Briton has no intention of settling down; in fact, as soon as he mooches a ride 

from wealthy tourists Mr. and Mrs. Chisholm (Paul Harvey and Genevieve Tobin), he's on his way out of Gabrielle's life...or so 

everyone thinks. Later that same day, Alan, Gabrielle, Jason, Boze, and Mr. and Mrs. Chisholm are huddled together in the 

selfsame restaurant, held at gunpoint by Dillinger-like desperado Duke Mantee (Humphrey Bogart) and his gang. Alan seems 

indifferent to the danger, toasting Duke as "the last great apostle of rugged individualism." Sensing an opportunity to give his 

life meaning, Alan takes Duke aside, begging the outlaw to kill him so that Gabrielle can travel to Paris on the money provided 

by Alan's insurance policy. When the police converge on the restaurant, Duke announces that he intends to use Mr. and Mrs.

Chisholm as a shield in order to make his escape. Alan tries to stop him, receiving a bullet in the belly for his troubles. "So long, 

pal," growls Duke fatalistically, moments before his own death, "I'll be seein' ya soon." Alan dies in Gabrielle's arms, secure in 

the knowledge that, alone among the film's principals, she will be able to escape the trap of her existence. When originally 

presented on Broadway, Robert E. Sherwood's The Petrified Forest starred Leslie Howard and Humphrey BogartWarner Bros

intended to cast Edward G. Robinson in Duke's role, only to be thwarted by Howard, who told the studio that he himself would 

drop out of the project if Bogart wasn't retained. The film proved to be just the break that Bogart needed; years later, he 

expressed his undying gratitude to Howard by naming his daughter Leslie Bogart. One year after The Petrified Forest, 

Humphrey Bogart and Leslie Howard co-starred in The Stand-In. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide 

Phenix City Story, The****     1955 


Based on actual events, The Phenix City Story tells the tale of a wide-open "Sin City" in Alabama (across a bridge from Columbus, GA, and just a stone's

 throw from the Ft. Benning Army base) where gambling, prostitution, and any number of other vices were tolerated openly by the law, most of it centered

 on the main downtown drag, 14th Street, thanks to the 50-year influence of organized crime on the local government. Reform groups, mostly in the form

 of vigilantes, had tried to clean up "the wickedest city in the United States" before, even taking the law into their own hands and wrecking some of the

 establishments, only to be stymied by the courts (which were otherwise indifferent to activities on 14th Street). At the outset of the movie, set in 1954 --

 when the actual events took place -- a new reform group is trying to organize and attempting to get the city's most prominent attorney, Albert Patterson

 (John McIntire) on their side; so are the club owners on 14th Street, led by Rhett Tanner (Edward Andrews), a cheerful, affable sort with a mean streak

 not far from the surface. But Patterson wants no part of either side's activities -- he's been a reformer, even a successful candidate, only to see his efforts

 come to little, and has also successfully defended Tanner and the others on 14th Street in an investigation of a murder of which they weren't guilty.

 Now he's old, and he wants to sit back with his wife and enjoy the return of his army office/lawyer son, John (Richard Kiley), and his family from Germany.

 But when the 14th Street boys, led by Clem Wilson (John Larch), go too far beating up Patterson's friends, and involve his son John, and then turn to

 murder and intimidation, it forces the elder Patterson and his son to join the reformers.

 The Phenix City Story runs 87 minutes, but most prints also include a 13-minute preface, compiled from newsreel footage and interviews with the original

 participants, that provides background on the events that inspired the film (and also spoils a few plot points). Ironically, given the negative image that it

 portrays of Alabama, the movie was surprisingly well-received in the state at the time; residents were simply fascinated by and taken with the notion of a

 feature film set in their home state and even including a couple of actual local residents in its cast. Director Phil Karlson was to enjoy even greater

 success 18 years later with a similar story about one man fighting a city turned bad, Walking Tall, which included many similarly staged action scenes

 amid its somewhat wider plot-canvas

. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi 


Philadelphia Story, The*****   1940

I have seen this film at least fifty times and still enjoy it for the sheer majesty and opulance. James 

Stewart, Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn provide electric performances, not to be outdone by classic 

supporting performances by Ruth Hussey and Virginia Weidler. My two favourite scenes are firstly, when 

C.K. Dexter Haven meets Macauley Connor in the library and have a conversation of sensational scripting,

 while slightly inebriated. There is an element of intimacy in this scene that sharply and dramatically 

contrasts the rest of the film where everyone seems to be tripping over one another.  The second is the 

pool scene where Connor romances Tracy Lord, who is "slightly worse for the wine". The script hits a 

climax at this point. Virginia Weidler plays the classic snoop, who innocently (not really!) oversees the 

shenanigans. She, like the viewer, is the voyeur.  There has never been a more entertaining film!!



Tracy Samantha Lord Haven (Katharine Hepburn) is a wealthy Main Line Philadelphia socialite who had divorced C. K. Dexter Haven 

(Cary Grant), a member of her social set, because he did not measure up to her exacting standards. (He was an alcoholic, and her 

lack of faith in him exacerbated his condition.) She is about to marry nouveau riche "man of the people" George Kittredge 

(John Howard).

Spy magazine publisher Sidney Kidd (Henry Daniell) is eager to cover the wedding, and blackmails Dexter into introducing tabloid 

reporter Macaulay "Mike" Connor (James Stewart) and photographer Liz Imbrie (Ruth Hussey) as friends of the family so they can 

report on the wedding. Tracy is not fooled, but reluctantly agrees to let them stay, after Dexter explains that Kidd has an innuendo-

laden article about Tracy's father, Seth (John Halliday), who, Tracy believes, is having an affair with a dancer. Though Seth is 

separated from Tracy's mother Margaret (Mary Nash) and Tracy harbors great resentment against him, she wants to protect her 

family's reputation.

Dexter is welcomed back with open arms by Margaret and Dinah (Virginia Weidler), who is Tracy's teenage sister - much to Tracy's 

annoyance. In addition, Tracy gradually discovers that Mike has admirable qualities. Thus, as the wedding nears, Tracy finds herself 

torn between her fiancé, her ex-husband, and the reporter.

The night before the wedding, Tracy gets drunk for only the second time in her life and takes an innocent swim with Mike. When 

George sees Mike carrying an intoxicated Tracy into the house afterwards, he thinks the worst. The next day, he tells her that he 

was shocked and feels entitled to an explanation before going ahead with the wedding. Tracy takes exception to his lack of faith in 

her and breaks off the engagement. Then she realizes that all the guests have arrived and are waiting for the ceremony to begin. 

Mike volunteers to marry her (much to Liz's distress), but Tracy graciously declines. At this point, Dexter makes his bid for her 

hand, which she accepts.

Piano, The*****   1993


Writer/director Jane Campion's third feature unearthed emotional undercurrents and churning intensity in the story of a mute 
woman's rebellion in the recently colonized New Zealand wilderness of Victorian times. Ada McGrath (Holly Hunter), a mute who 
has willed herself not to speak, and her strong-willed young daughter Flora (Anna Paquin) find themselves in the New Zealand 
wilderness, with Ada the imported bride of dullard land-grabber Stewart (Sam Neill). Ada immediately takes a dislike to Stewart 
when he refuses to carry her beloved piano home with them. But Stewart makes a deal with his overseer George Baines (Harvey
Keitel) to take the piano off his hands. Attracted to Ada, Baines agrees to return the piano in exchange for a series of piano 
lessons that become a series of increasingly charged sexual encounters. As pent-up emotions of rage and desire swirl around all 
three characters, the savage wilderness begins to consume the tiny European enclave. Campion imbues her tale with an over-
ripe tactility and a murky, poetic undertow that betray the characters' confined yet overpowering emotions: Ada's buried 
sensuality, Baines' hidden tenderness, and Stewart's suppressed anger and violence. The story unfolds like a Greek tragedy of 
the Outback, complete with a Greek chorus of Maori tribesmen and a blithely uncaring natural environment that envelops the 
characters like an additional player. Campion directs with discreet detachment, observing one character through the glances 
and squints of another as they peer through wooden slats, airy curtains, and the spaces between a character's fingers. She 
makes the film immediate and urgent by implicating the audience in characters' gazes. And she guides Hunter to a revelatory 
performance of silent film majesty. Relying on expressive glances and using body language to convey her soulful depths, Hunter 
became a modern Lillian Gish and won an Oscar for her performance, as did Paquin and Campion for her screenplay. Campion 
achieved something rare in contemporary cinema: a poetry of expression told in the form of an off-center melodrama.

Picnic***1/2   1955


One of the biggest box-office attractions of the 1950s, Picnic was adapted by Daniel Taradash from the Pulitzer Prize-winning William Inge play. William Holden plays Hal Carter, a handsome drifter who ambles into a small Kansas town during the Labor Day celebration to look up old college chum Alan (Cliff Robertson, in his film debut). Hoping to hit up Alan for a job--or a handout--Hal ends up stealing his buddy's fiancee Madge Owens (Kim Novak). Hal also has a catnip effect on spinster schoolteacher Rosemary Sydney (Rosalind Russell), so much so that Rosemary makes a fool of herself in front of the whole town, nearly driving away her longtime beau Howard Bevans (Arthur O'Connell). Persuaded by his friends and family that Hal is no damn good, Madge is prepared to break off her relationship. As anyone who remembers the film's famous overhead closing shot knows, however, Madge is ultimately ruled by her heart and not her head. For a film set in Kansas, there's an awful lot of New York talent in the supporting cast (Susan Strasberg and Phyllis Newman come immediately to mind); still, the Midwestern ambience comes through loud and clear, especially during the perceptively detailed Labor Day picnic sequence. Broadening the film's appeal is its George Duning-Steve Allen title song, a variation of the old standard Moonglow. Two sidebars: The original Broadway production of Picnic starred Ralph Meeker and Paul Newman; for the film version of Picnic, William Holden was obliged to shave his chest, lest his hairy torso cause the female moviegoers to conjure up impure thoughts.~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Picnic at Hanging Rock****     1975

This is an Australian film which takes on it's period effects with simplicity and dignity. The pace is very 

slow, which allows us to pan the atmosphere and variety of expressions that decorate the screen. The 

characters  are placed on the screen with a sense of displacement and temporariness. This aspect gives the 

viewer a feeling of spinning into a doomful experience. There was no "ending" which gave me a sense of 

falling into a black hole or drawing my own conclusion, which I actually never managed to do.


A revered classic of Australian cinema, credited by many as being the first film to receive acclaim in the international arena, Peter 

Weir's 1975 film is also remarkable in its wider influence on the mystery thriller as a whole. Taking the plight of the disappearance 

of three school girls and their teacher as its base, Picnic At Hanging Rock brings in themes on the power of dreams, of freedom and

of institutionalism, without ever suggesting a conclusion to any of the questions it raises. Indeed, Weir's film is incredibly brave, 

even in modern terms, in simply presenting material and occurrences and leaving audiences to judge the drip-fed facts from there.

That Picnic does all of this inside a distinctly individual aesthetic, created in a dream-like state of floating natural shots and eerie 

string music, is all the more praise to Weir's creative talent and well-delivered visual mastery. Picnic is a film which shoots for the 

ethereal and, unlike some efforts, succeeds in not marginalising its content with whimsical flights of fancy.

Indeed, whilst the film is eager to emphasise its dream-like nature (within the first few moments someone has uttered the line 'like 

a dream within a dream'), some moments are more nightmarish, leaving a distinct feeling of unease as the story of the girl's 

disappearance winds back into a look at their college and brief glances at townsfolk invested in some way in their vanishing. The 

second attempt to find the girls on the rock by Michael and Albert (Dominic Guard and John Jarratt) and the return of a certain 

character to the college are particularly haunting and powerful scenes, laced with an unknown threat and a real appreciation by Weir 

of how to unsettle an audience. In the director's cut, shorter than the original version by eight minutes, running to just one-hundred 

and seven in total, it's a shame that a decent amount of the running time is given over to the opening which mixes in far too much

severely dated panpipe music with a detailed look at the girls disappearing which borders on the ponderous. After this is over 

though, the film quickly becomes terrifyingly gripping, producing an enigma of a mystery film which is less about the perhaps 

miraculous and fatalistic 'how' and much more about the ambiguous 'why'.

Plastic Age, The***1/2     1925 


 Clara Bow is another of our silent era icons. Her wild party-girl screen persona wasn’t far from the truth as it turned out. Ultimately, the very

 stuff that made her so popular with film audiences of the 1920s turned out to be her undoing by the end of the decade. But the fascinating thing

 about shooting-star personalities — the thing that makes their self-destructive lives so enthralling — is our observation of how brightly their

 stars burn before exhausting themselves in one sense and exhausting their audience in another.

 Our hero, Hugh, is attending college. His parents are proud. Hugh meets our heroine Cynthia. She’s a wild party girl (guess who?). She falls for

 the geeky Hugh. College pranks, hazing, parties, dancing, smoking and implied drinking follow. Hugh’s grades and athletics slip. His parents are

 not so proud. To further complicate matters, Carl is also vying for Cynthia’s affections. Through this all, Cynthia still wants to party. A police

 raid on a speakeasy, and a fight. But Hugh keeps Carl from being expelled by helping him escape the raid. Cynthia courageously dumps Hugh

 to save him from her lifestyle. Two years later, Hugh wants Cynthia. Cynthia wants Hugh. Carl wants quarterback. Hugh wants quarterback.

 Carl will cheat. Carl is inadequate in the big game. Hugh turns out to be the hero. Cynthia finds out in their senior year that Hugh still wants

 her, but Hugh sees Cynthia in Carl’s arms. Will they ever get back together? Do you really care?

 The Plastic Age is a run-of-the-mill college student programmer, and is nothing more now than it was in the 1920s — a Clara Bow vehicle.

 And while a number of better-looking and higher-quality Bow films survive, The Plastic Age is an important component in the assessment of

 Bow’s career and in study of the 1920s college film subgenre. — Carl Bennett 

Platinum Blonde***1/2   1931


A rather bleak comedy-drama from Frank Capra, Platinum Blonde basically starts where Capra's later and much more buoyant It 

Happened One Night (1934) ends: the marriage between a brash newspaperman and a society dame. But where the latter comedy 

was enhanced by the director's patented optimism, Platinum Blonde, produced at the height of the Great Depression, expresses no 

faith in a common ground between the classes. Star reporter Stew Smith (Robert Williams) falls in love with the sister 

(Jean Harlow) of his latest victim (Donald Dillaway). They marry despite the misgivings of Ann Schuyler's blue-nosed mother (Louise 

Closser Hale) and Stew's cynical colleagues ("Ann Schuyler's in the blue book. You're not even in the phone book!"). Unable to stand 

life in a gilded cage for long, Stew upsets the Schuyler mansion by inviting his friends to a wild and woolly party. Returning home 

unexpected in the middle of the drunken revelry, Ann lays down the law and Stew bolts -- right into the arms of girl reporter 

Gallagher (Loretta Young), whom he has loved all along without realizing it. Jean Harlow is surprisingly realistic as the callous 

society girl but Robert Williams' wisecracking reporter comes across as rather grating. An up-and-coming comic lead, Williams died 

after an operation for appendicitis on November 3, 1931, less than a month after Platinum Blonde had premiered to mostly positive 

reviews. Ironically, Loretta Young, who received top billing, had demanded to star in this film when it was still known as "Gallagher,"

the name of her character. Harlow, needless to stay, stole the limelight completely and Capra changed the title much to Young's 

chagrin. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Pleasantville***1/2  1998


Flawed, yet much more intelligent than the majority of films released Stateside during 1998, the directorial debut of screenwriter 

Gary Ross (Big, Dave) could have been pitched as Back To The Future meets The Truman Show. Or The Wizard Of Oz meets The 

Twilight Zone. Pleasantville's main strength lies in its concept - - although the idea of people being zapped into a TV show was 

explored in 1992 comedy Stay Tuned. Undaunted, Ross has lifted elements from various cinematic sources, binding them together 

into a postmodern fairytale that tackles, albeit clumsily, a wide variety of themes and ideas.

Having pointed out the perils of modern living (no jobs, HIV, etc), Ross' sanitised, suburban nirvana seems like a monochromatic 

Heaven On Earth. Thus in the squeaky-clean Pleasantville, life is always `swell'. Everybody is white, middle-class and two-

dimensional. There's no crime, no one ages and the sun always shines. George Parker (a deliberately clichéd William H Macy) even 

has his own audience-participation soundbite ('"Honey, I'm home!"') which he cheerfully hollers each night.

But rather than imitating a sitcom, the impact of the movie hangs on the fact that Pleasantville is the scripted, set-dressed world 

of a TV show: all the books are blank, nothing can burn (the fire brigade only exists to rescue cats from trees) while the roads 

simply loop back on themselves, going nowhere. It's a community where the wisdom: "'You can't win them all'" is redundant, for in 

Pleasantville you can; the basketball team have never lost while tenpin bowlers get a strike every time. And because this is a '50s 

show, with a strict moral code, there's no sex. Hand-holding is the dizzy height of romantic entanglement.

The presence of two '90s kids (Reese Witherspoon and Tobey Maguire) knocks Pleasantville's ordered life from its safely scripted 

course, bringing splashes of modern colour to the pallid town. Innocent teens discover sex; stay-at-home mom (Joan Allen) learns 

that women can pleasure themselves; while firemen stare dumbfounded at a blazing tree before putting it out with hoses that 

they've never had to use. Little by little, the black-and-white town is transformed, embracing a dubious morality which preaches 

that change is good - even when it means a wife dumping her husband to sleep with the guy (Jeff Daniels) from the malt shop.

Despite being funny and tender, it's a pity Pleasantville the film isn't as perfect as Pleasantville the TV toytown. In trying to 

encompass too much, the story whips through the themes of freedom of expression, redemption, individuality, racism and the 

importance of change, hammering them home without ever addressing them fully. And although it's only two hours long, the languid 

pace of Ross' screenplay makes it feel more like four. Watching Pleasantville is like listening to a bedtime story. At the end, you 

could easily curl up and fall asleep.

Prairie Home Companion, A****     2006


What a lovely film this is, so gentle and whimsical, so simple and profound. Robert Altman's "A Prairie Home Companion" is faithful to the 

spirit of the radio program, a spirit both robust and fragile, and yet achieves something more than simply reproducing a performance of the 

show. It is nothing less than an elegy, a memorial to memories of times gone by, to dreams that died but left the dreamers dreaming, to 

appreciating what you've had instead of insisting on more.

This elegiac strain is explained by the premise that we are watching the last performance of the weekly show. After a final singing of "Red 

River Valley" (the saddest of all songs), the paradise of the Fitzgerald Theater will be torn down so they can put up a parking lot. After 30 

years, the show will be no more.

The show is hosted by a man referred to as G.K., and played by Garrison Keillor as a version of himself, which is about right, because he 

always seems to be a version of himself. Keillor, whose verbal and storytelling genius has spun a whole world out of thin air, always seems 

a step removed from what he does, as if bemused to find himself doing it. Here his character refuses to get all sentimental about the last 

program, and has a dialogue with Lola (Lindsay Lohan), a young poet who likes suicide as a subject. It seems to her G.K. should offer up a 

eulogy; there is sufficient cause, not only because of the death of the program, but because a veteran of the show actually dies during the 


"I'm of an age when if I started to do eulogies, I'd be doing nothing else," he says.

"You don't want to be remembered?"

"I don't want them to be told to remember me."

So the last show is treated like any other. In the dressing room, incredibly cluttered with bric-a-brac and old photos, we meet Lola's mother 

and her aunt, Yolanda and Rhonda Johnson (Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin). They are the two survivors from a four-sister singing act: "The 

Carter Family was like us, only famous." Their onstage duets are hilarious, depending on a timing that rises above the brilliant to the 

transcendent; they were doing this double act on the Academy Award telecast last March.

We also meet Chuck Akers (L. Q. Jones), an old-time C&W singer, and Dusty and Lefty (Woody Harrelson and John C. Reilly), two cowboy 

singers who threaten to make the last program endless as they improvise one corny joke after another. We also meet the people who make 

the show work: The stage manager Molly (Maya Rudolph), and, borrowed from the show itself, the makeup lady (Sue Scott), Al the 

backstage guy (Tim Russell), the sound effects man (Tom Keith), the bandleader (Rich Dworsky) and the P.H.C. house band. Molly is surely 

so pregnant she should stay calm, but she is driven to distraction by G.K.'s habit of never planning anything, and moseying up to the 

microphone at the last conceivable moment.

Adding another level is the materialization in the real world of Guy Noir, Private Eye (Kevin Kline). Listeners of the program will know that 

Keillor and his stock company perform adventures from the life of Noir, as a salute to old-time radio drama. In Altman's movie, Noir is a 

real person, a broken-down gumshoe who handles security for the show (he lights his cigarettes with wooden kitchen matches, just like 

Philip Marlowe in Altman's "The Long Goodbye"). Guy is visited by a character described as the Dangerous Woman (Virginia Madsen), who 

may perhaps be an angelic one.

The final visitor to the Fitzgerald theater is Axeman (Tommy Lee Jones ), who represents the investors who have bought the lovely theater 

and will tear it down. He doesn't recognize the bust of a man in the theater's private box, but we do: It is F. Scott Fitzgerald, that native son 

of St. Paul in whose honor the theater is named. A little later, Ed Lachman's camera helps Altman observe that Fitzgerald and Guy Noir have 

profiles so similar as to make no difference.

Like the show that inspired it, "A Prairie Home Companion" is not about anything in particular. Perhaps it is about everything in general: 

About remembering, and treasuring the past, and loving performers not because they are new but because they have lasted. About smiling 

and being amused, but not laughing out loud, because in Minnesota loud laughter is seen as a vice practiced on the coasts. About how all 

things pass away, but if you live your life well, everything was fun while it lasted. There is so much of the ghost of Scott Fitzgerald hovering 

in the shadows of this movie that at the end I quoted to myself the closing words of The Great Gatsby. I'm sure you remember them, so let's 

say them together: And so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.


Pressure Point***1/2     1962 


A young psychiatrist is unable to make progress with a black patient who hates whites, and he asks his superior, a black, to remove him from the case.

 The superior, however, tells the younger man of a similar assignment he dealt with years before. While serving on the staff of a Federal prison during

 World War II, the psychiatrist is asked to treat a young Nazi imprisoned for subversion. The prisoner suffers from sleeplessness, nightmares, and black

outs. Despite his hatred of blacks, the patient submits to therapy in hopes that it will end his terror. Events from the man's past help explain some of his

 disturbances: his father was a drunken sadist who resented the boy for being the cause of his marriage to a whining semi-invalid; the patient created

 an imaginary playmate whom he bullied; he left home at an early age and exhibited sadistic tendencies in a drunken barroom orgy; and he joined the

 Nazi party after he was barred from the home of a Jewish girl whose father felt him unworthy of his daughter. The patient finds relief after the

 psychiatrist explains the causes of his nightmares, but, once able to sleep, he refuses to continue his therapy. Because the patient is still a Nazi, the

 psychiatrist refuses to recommend his release, but prison authorities prevail and the patient is paroled. The psychiatrist regards himself as a failure

 because the patient's racism has swayed him from a disinterested role as an analyst. Shortly after his release, the patient brutally murders an old

 man and is executed. After hearing of his superior's experience, the younger doctor decides to continue with his case. 



Pride and Prejudice

     Pride and Prejudice     1940****1/2  


     Pride and Prejudice is a moderately faithful re-telling of Jane Austen's best-known novel. The protagonists are appropriately composed in the pre-Victorian England

 setting, championing Austen's rebellion against what she saw as the excessive emotionalism and romantic world view of the literature of her time. Austen's aim of

 puncturing holes in the snootiness of upper-middle class figures is retained in Aldous Huxley's screenplay and Robert Leonard's occasionally stiff direction. The unlikely

 romance of the leads, played conventionally but effectively by the attractive pair of Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson, evolves from contempt to understanding to affection,

 retaining a modern appeal in its focus on illusory first impressions and the follies of personal pride and class prejudice. Sometimes Leonard gets the details wrong -- the

 costumes and sets seem more at home in a late Victorian setting than in Austen's early 19th century -- but the overall effect is truthful, transporting us to a world different

 from but related to our own. The gentle satire of Austen's novel sits quietly, just beneath the surface, only to rise up and take the occasional bite out of offending characters at

 opportune moments.

 ~ Dan Jardine, Rovi


        Pride and Prejudice     2005****


        In this lavish adaptation of Jane Austen's classical romance, Elizabeth Bennett is a strong-willed yet sensible young woman 

whose father is a gentleman with a quite modest estate and whose uncle suffers in status from being a businessman in Cheapside. 

She has four sisters, a long-suffering but loving father, and a mother anxious to marry them to wealthy young gentlemen. At a local 

ball, she encounters one such wealthy young man, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy -- and as Mr. Darcy is arrogant, cold and rude, it is hatred at 

first sight. As her older  sister Jane falls in love with Mr. Darcy's best friend Mr. Bingley, and her youngest sister Lydia flirts with 

anyone in a military uniform, Lizzie finds herself fighting off the attentions of the unctuous Mr. Collins and quite taken by the charming 

Mr. Wickham - who also happens to be an enemy of Mr. Darcy. However, as the characters succumb in many ways to pride and

prejudice, Lizzie learns that not all is quite as it seems...and that Mr. Darcy might not be so disagreeable after all. Written by Scott

Primary Colours***1/2      1998


A long time ago in a galaxy far far away there was a sweet-talking Presidential candidate, a Southern governor who felt our pain.

 governor who felt our pain. And created some of it, since his idealism and political infighting skills were not easily reconciled. 

Expediency carried him through crisis after crisis, offering the electorate  lesson in how to turn moral compromise into campaign


Now it is the basis for ''Primary Colors,'' a polished Hollywood diorama that visits political Pompeii, with an array of vivid 

caricatures whose real-life role models aren't easy acts to follow. As directed by Mike Nichols and written by Elaine May, it's a 

movie struggling with its own identity crisis, and with the obvious constraints created by its subject matter. Affectionately 

satirical at first, it switches gears in its later stages to attempt a serious assessment of political realities, as 

displayed through the example of Gov. Jack Stanton (John Travolta). He has a salt-and-pepper coiffure, a hoarse drawl,    

a patina of doughnut dust and a set of disarming mannerisms that make him a brilliantly seductive listener. Perhaps you've seen 

him somewhere before.

''Primary Colors'' is adapted from the novel by Anonymous, a k a Joe Klein, who fictionalized much of what he saw from the 

vantage point of the campaign trail. (The author, a longtime friend and colleague of mine, was not directly involved in the 

filmmaking process.) Part of the book's drama was extracurricular, but the movie can't take advantage of that. So as its central 

figure, it has only Henry Burton, the cardboard character dreamed up by the author to disguise his identity. As played politely by

Adrian Lester, who has a voice like Sidney Poitier's and solid English stage credentials, Henry is a bland, passive presence 

occupying a good deal of screen time. The real action is on the sidelines, wherever Jack Stanton and his smart, stoical wife,

Susan (Emma Thompson), happen to be.

In describing the delicate balance between Jack and Susan, the movie is finely nuanced without revealing what anyone with 

access to a radio can't already imagine. But courtesy of the Accidental Press Agent in the Oval Office, the movie does have 

strong flashes of timeliness (when Susan learns of one of Jack's infidelities and throws a key ring at his head, she speaks for a 

nation) where these two are concerned.

Susan, played keenly by Ms. Thompson, makes an attractive and especially compelling figure, since she contends not only with 

an uphill political battle, but also with a philandering husband to whom her hopes are attached. Though she chews him out (for 

being ''faithless, thoughtless, disorganized, undisciplined'') and bails him out (on a ''60 Minutes''-like show after a Gennifer 

Flowers-like embarrassment), the strength of their connection is never in doubt. Neither is Susan's shrewdness. ''You don't mind 

us talking business, do you?'' asks a politician who is meeting with her husband. ''No, no,'' answers Susan, with Ms. May's 

welcome wryness. ''How else could I learn?''

The film likes Jack. Of course it does. As played amusingly if not quite Presidentially by Mr. Travolta, the Governor is an 

instinctive winner and an enjoyably familiar mass of contradictions. Mixing ruthlessness with real empathy and political passion, 

he is exasperating even to those closest to him, and yet his powers of seduction always manage to prevail. The star, an 

astonishing mimic, has the mannerisms down cold. Yet even in ''Face/Off,'' which drew on those same uncanny skills, he had a 

more fully drawn, dramatically viable character to play than he has here. The movie studies Jack raptly, but it doesn't get under 

his skin.

As the Stanton campaign takes shape and begins vaulting the famous historical hurdles of six years ago, ''Primary Colors'' calls 

on a couple of attention-getting Stanton aides. Kathy Bates's Libby Holden is a showstopper, the movie's most heartfelt 

character and the one who most stirringly articulates its frustrations about the candidate. The film's single best and most 

serious scene, arriving in its abruptly melodramatic third act, finds Libby desperately begging the Stantons to assess their 

campaign ethics. It's not easy to drop a monologue about Senator Thomas Eagleton into a mainstream movie, but in this case 

it works.

Then there's Richard Jemmons, the canny Southern strategist who loves his Mama and has a tart thought for every situation. 

Richard also has a wonderful way of speaking in unintelligibly folksy metaphors, as in one anecdote that has something to do 

with a boar and britches. ''I think I speak for all of us when I say no,'' Susan observes, when Richard asks if she knows what he's 

saying. Billy Bob Thornton plays Richard with sly finesse, although James Carville plays him better.

Beyond these conspicuously colorful figures, ''Primary Colors'' also has its share of bland ones. Several campaign staff characters

were funnier and more alive on the page than they are here. Mr. Nichols, who shows much skill in eliciting individual 

performances, doesn't often make them mesh with the delectable ensemble cleverness of ''Wag the Dog,'' the recent film to 

which ''Primary Colors'' must inevitably be compared. ''Wag the Dog'' was faster and funnier, shrewder in its background details 

and spookily ahead of the news. The slower-moving ''Primary Colors'' has more serious ambitions to capture something 

important and disturbing about this era's political atmosphere. Sometimes it does.

It says a lot about the movie atmosphere that ads for ''Primary Colors'' describe Mr. Nichols solely as ''the director of 'The 

Birdcage.' '' Mr. Nichols's satirical talents are less evident here than his way with broader shtick (there's a very funny bit from 

Rob Reiner as a radio talk show host), and the film seldom displays much in the way of directorial hallmarks. Only occasionally 

does it strike sharply at an essential target, a taste for the trivial that is more damning than any Stanton-esque foibles. As the 

candidate and his wife are forced onto television to defend the state of their marriage, viewers are seen commenting. A man 

thinks Jack's babe wasn't bad looking. A woman decides that she likes Susan's hair. 

''Primary Colors'' is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). It includes profanity and implicit sexual 


Produced and directed by Mike Nichols; written by Elaine May, based on the novel by Anonymous; director of photography, 

Michael Ballhaus; edited by Arthur Schmidt; music by Ry Cooder; production designer, Bo Welch; released by Universal Pictures. 

Running time: 140 minutes. This film is rated R. 

WITH: John Travolta (Gov. Jack Stanton), Emma Thompson (Susan Stanton), Billy Bob Thornton (Richard Jemmons), 

Kathy Bates (Libby Holden), Rob Reiner (Izzy Rosenblatt) and Adrian Lester (Henry Burton). 

Prisoner of Zenda, The****     1937


 King Rudolf V, of the small Balkan country of Ruritania, meets his exact double, Major Rudolf Rassendyll, an English cousin of his who is on holiday,

 the night before his coronation. The king then takes his cousin to his lodge, where they toast their shared ancestors. The dissolute king unknowingly

 drinks wine that has been drugged by his villainous half-brother "Black Michael," Duke of Streslau and Lord of Zenda Castle, who wants the throne.

 The next day, Rudolf poses as the king while the real monarch lies unconscious in the lodge cellar. The coronation is a success, but Rudolf unwittingly

 falls in love with the king's intended, Princess Flavia, who, upon finding him a reformed man, loves him for the first time. Colonel Zapt, determined to

 make the real king an honorable man, returns to the lodge and finds Josef, a loyal servant, dead and the king missing. Rupert of Hentzau, a courtier,

 is seemingly in league with Michael, but is really after the king's mistress, Lady Antoinette. As part of Michael's scheme to murder Rudolf and bury him

 as the king, Rupert blackmails Rudolf into meeting him alone, demanding ransom money for the king's return. Rudolf goes to Antoinette's room at the

 castle and she offers to help him if the king's men let Michael live. She then gives Rudolf an earring and tells him to watch for a messenger bearing its

 match, and he escapes. Michael and Rupert then have the king moved to Zenda Castle, where they keep him in chains. After Rupert tries to bribe

 Rudolf into keeping the kingdom for the two of them, Michael tries to force the king to write an abdication, but he refuses. Antoinette's messenger

 arrives with plans for Rudolf to swim across the moat to Antoinette's room that night. Because the king will be killed at first alarm, Rudolf must fight

 the guards and rescue the king before the drawbridge is lowered for Colonel Zapt's approaching army. The plan works until Rupert, seeing Antoinette's

 door open, enters and kisses her. When Michael walks in on them, he and Rupert fight and Rupert stabs him. Antoinette then confesses her scheme to

 save the king and Rupert kills the messenger as he tries to lower the drawbridge. Rudolf then kills the guards who are about to kill the king and,

 following a sword fight with Rupert, slices the drawbridge rope. When the troops storm the castle, Rupert dives into the moat. The king lives and is now

 kind-hearted and sober. Crediting Rudolf with teaching him how to be a ruler, the king wants to exonerate his cousin, but Zapt insists on keeping the

 double identity a secret to all but Flavia. When she and Rudolf meet again, they swear their love and she nearly gives up the throne to be with him,

 but, with the words "honor binds a woman, too" chooses to forfeit her love for Rudolf and become Ruritania's queen.



Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex, The***1/2    1939


It is no secret that Bette Davis and Errol Flynn were at each other's throats throughout the filming of The Private Lives of 

Elizabeth and Essex. Boiled down to essentials: Davis felt that Flynn was unprofessional, while Flynn thought that Davis took 

herself too damned seriously. Besides, Davis had wanted Laurence Olivier to play the Earl of Essex opposite her Queen Elizabeth 

I. She was forced to compromise on this point, but refused to allow Flynn proxy top billing via his suggestion that the film be 

retitled The Knight and the Lady. The finished product, a lavish Technicolor costumer allowing full scope to Davis' histrionics 

and Flynn's derring-do, betrays little of the backstage hostilities (though Flynn does seem uncomfortably hammy in his scenes 

with Davis). Adapted by Norman Reilly Raine and Aeneas McKenzie from Maxwell Anderson's blank-verse play Elizabeth the 

Queen (which served as the film's reissue title), the story concerns the tempestuous relationship between the middle-aged 

Elizabeth and the ambitious Essex. At one point, the Queen intends to marry Essex and relinquish her throne, until she realizes 

that his plans for advancement would ultimately prove disastrous for England. When afforded the opportunity to execute Essex 

for treason, she reluctantly signs his death warrant. Minutes before his final walk to the chopping block, Elizabeth begs Essex to 

ask for a pardon. But Essex, fully aware that his warlike policies will only resurface if he is permitted to live, refuses to accept 

the Queen's mercy, and goes off to meet his doom. Olivia de Havilland is wasted in the role of a lady-in-waiting who carries a 

torch for  Essex. If the scenes of Essex' triumphant return to London after winning the battle of Cadiz seem familiar, it is 

because they were reused as stock footage in Warner Bros.The Adventures of Don Juan (1949) and The Story of Mankind 

(1957). ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide 

Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio, The****   2005


Based on the true story of Evelyn Ryan, a midwestern housewife who managed to rescue her family from debt by entering 

contests for ad slogans sponsored by consumer product companies. 

Public Enemy, The ***1/2   1931


Tom Powers and Matt Doyle, two tough young kids growing up poor in Chicago, work for Putty Nose, a fence. He sets up a 

robbery deal for them, promising to get them out of trouble if anything goes wrong, but when they bungle the job he abandons 

them. During Prohibition, they find a new ally, Paddy Ryan, who sets them up in the illegal brewery business. When Mike, Tom's 

older brother returns from World War I, he berates Tom for his dealings with gangsters and Tom angrily leaves home. The 

gang's big boss, Nails Nathan, uses Tom and Matt to pressure the local speakeasies, which are caught between rival gangs, into 

using only the beer that they sell. Tom grows into a ruthless gangster. One day he takes out his frustrations on his girl Kitty, 

shoving a grapefruit in her face and dumping her in favor of glamorous Texan Gwen Allen. Later, celebrating in an expensive 

night club, Tom spots their old pal Putty Nose. Tom and Matt follow him to his apartment, where Tom kills him. When Nails dies 

after a fall from a horse, his death precipitates a gang war. Paddy sends the gang into hiding, but Tom refuses to stay. He and 

Matt are ambushed by the rival gang as they leave, and Matt is killed in the shootout. Tom vows revenge and single-handedly 

takes on his rivals. He kills several, but he is wounded himself and collapses outside in the pouring rain. He survives, but the

gang kidnaps him from the hospital and delivers his bandage-wrapped dead body to the door of his mother's house. 


Queen, The****1/2    2009


Full of wit, humor, and pathos, Stephen Frears' moving portrait of the British royals during the period after Princess Diana's death 

features not one but two remarkable performances, that of Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II and Michael Sheen as the 

newly-ordained Prime Minister Tony Blair. They embody their characters and lay bare the motivations behind these prominent 

people, giving viewers a glimpse into the inner workings of the British monarchy. 

Queen Christina***1/2    1933


Queen Christina (1933) is one of Greta Garbo's quintessential, most-remembered screen portrayals (and one of her finest films),

with glowing scenes (enhanced by her favorite cinematographer William Daniels) that reflect the mystique of the lovely, 

enigmatic actress. This MGM film, Garbo's first and only film with director Rouben Mamoulian, luxuriously captures the graceful 

allure and persona of one of Hollywood's most famous and lovely performers - especially in its final enigmatic closeup. However, 

the romantic tragedy was poorly received if measured by its box-office appeal. But Garbo would go on to make some of her 

greatest films: including Anna Karenina (1935)Camille (1936), and Ninotchka (1939)The biopic of independent-minded, 

controversial Christina, queen of 17th century Sweden, paired Garbo with popular silent-screen actor John Gilbert (her former 

fiancee and co-star was also purported to have been her passionate, off-screen lover). Although Gilbert's career star was fading,

Garbo insisted that he play the male lead role (although Laurence Olivier had been the original choice). The plot, ending with 

the Queen's abdication from her kingdom and self-imposed exile and withdrawal (for the ill-fated love of a Spanish nobleman-

envoy), in order to follow her heart to Spain (to return her slain lover to his homeland), prophetically echoed the same sort of 

conflict that Garbo struggled with in her private life. It was Garbo's first film in a year and a half. Her long absence from the 

screen and residence in her native Sweden were being interpreted as a retreat from cinema altogether.

 [She gave up film-making eight years later in 1941.] And Gilbert, who had been relegated to second-class status following the 

advent of the talkies, starred in only one other film (in 1934) before his 1936 death.

The screenplay for the semi-historical, costume melodrama, written by H.M. Harwood, Salka Viertel (an actress-writer, and 

Garbo's personal friend and professional colleague), and with dialogue by S. N. Behrman was based on Viertel's own original 

screen story (co-authored with Margaret P. LeVino). History is partially rewritten in the tale of sacrificial love, duty, and 

strength. Taglines advertising the film proclaimed: "A 17th century maiden who loved with a 20th century madness," and "She 

was crowned King of Sweden...lived and ruled as a man...But surrendered to Love." Since the actual Queen Christina of Sweden 

(1626-1689) was bisexual in orientation, this provided the story with a pretext for its lesbian leanings. Furthermore, the cross-

dressing and gender disguises of Garbo, her romantic attraction to her own lady-in-waiting, and her notorious bedroom scene in 

the inn with Gilbert further troubled film censors, but engendered curiosity for the glamorous star. The film was not nominated 

for Academy Awards.


Raging Bull*****   1980


     In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy
 Reeves, suffering his first loss and igniting a brawl in which audience members are trampled underfoot. Following Jake's defeat, Salvy Batts, who works for
 boxing racketeer Tommy Como, informs Jake's brother and manager Joey that an association with Tommy could advance Jake's career. Although Joey agrees
 with Salvy, he observes that his stubborn brother, whom he affectionately calls "Jack," has "a head like concrete" and insists upon remaining independent. 
     Nevertheless, Joey promises to present Salvy's offer to Jake, and proceeds to his brother's dreary, run-down apartment, where Jake is in the middle of a
 screaming match with his wife Irma. Once Joey mollifies his enraged brother, the mercurial Jake laments that his small, girlish hands limit his ability to rise
 to the top. Suddenly hostile, Jake provokes Joey into hitting him in the face. Later, when Salvy comes to watch Jake in a sparring match with Joey, Jake
 becomes so angered by Salvy's presence that he pummels Joey. At the neighborhood swimming pool one day, Jake spots blonde, fifteen-year-old Vickie Thailer,
 who piques his interest and passion. When Jake questions Joey about Vickie, Joey reminds him that he is a married man. Leaving Irma at home one night,
 Jake attends a church charity dance with Joey, where he sees Vickie seated across the room with Salvy. Watching Vickie drive off with Salvy, Jake sends Joey
 to the pool the next day to arrange an introduction to her. When Vickie admires Jake's shiny convertible, he invites her for a ride, and after changing from her
 swimsuit into a virginal white outfit, she joins him. After a visit to a miniature golf course, Jake takes her to the apartment he purchased for his father and
 ushers her into the bedroom, where a crucifix perches above the headboard. He nudges her onto the bed, but she quickly rises and walks to the bureau, where
 she looks at a photo of Jake and Joey sparring, a rosary dangling over its frame. 
    In 1943, Jake scores a major victory against Sugar Ray Robinson, Robinson's first loss and the beginning of a life-long rivalry between the two boxers. 
 Following the fight, Vickie, who is now living with Jake, kisses his blackened eye, but when he becomes sexually aroused, he pours a pitcher of ice water down
 his crotch in order to preserve his energy for the next match with Robinson, which is to take place three weeks later. Although Robinson is named winner of
 the bout by the unanimous decision of the judges, Jake's career takes off when he wins a series of victories and, now successful, he marries Vickie and buys
 a new home in the Bronx. Joey has also married and moved into a nearby house with his wife Lenore. In 1947, after having had three babies and living a
 relatively quiet life in the suburbs, Jake has gained weight and bristles when Joey enters him into a match with newcomer Tony Janiro, for which Jake will
 have to lose fifteen pounds. When Joey explains that he set up the match because established boxers are afraid to face Jake, Vickie supports Joey, noting
 that Janiro would be an apt opponent because he is so good-looking and popular.
    Vickie's comment triggers Jake's obsessive jealousy, and he balks at going to training camp and thus leaving Vickie alone. When Jake asks Joey to keep an
 eye on Vickie while he is gone, Joey suggests taking her out for a night on the town before he leaves. They all go to the Copacabana nightclub, and when Vickie
 excuses herself to go the ladies room, Salvy, who is there with Tommy, invites her to join them for a drink. Jake warily watches their encounter, and when
 Vickie returns to the table, accuses her of flirting with Salvy and Tommy. During his match with Janiro, Jake viciously pummels his opponent in the face,
 destroying his good looks and winning the bout. Following his victory, Jake returns to training camp, and one night while at a nightclub, Joey spots Vickie enter
 with Salvy and his friends. Pulling her away from Salvy's table, Joey orders Vickie to leave with him, then smashes a glass in Salvy's face. When Salvy follows
 Joey outside, Joey kicks him, then bangs him in the head with a taxicab door.
    Afterward, Tommy summons Joey and Salvy, his arm in a sling and his face bandaged, to his headquarters at the Debonair Social Club and orders them to
 forget their argument and shake hands. After Salvy departs, Tommy warns Joey that Jake is embarrassing him by not accepting his patronage. Although Joey
 argues that Jake wants to make it on his own, Tommy counters that Jake will never get a chance at the title without his help. Upon Jake's return from training
 camp, Joey reports that Tommy has offered him a shot at the title in exchange for throwing a match with Billy Fox. During the fight, Jake offers no resistance
 to Fox, allowing his opponent to strike him at will until being declared the victor. As Jake later tearfully relates to his cornermen, he did not know any other
 way to lose. Following the fight, Jake is suspended by the boxing board while the district attorney probes into the possibility of a fixed fight. Two years later,
 in 1949, Jake faces middleweight champion Marcel Cerdan in a title bout. Before the match, Tommy comes to Jake's hotel room to wish him good luck, but 
 after Tommy kisses Vickie goodbye and leaves, Jake slaps her and demands to know why she is so friendly with Tommy. After Jake wins the bout on a
 technical knockout in the tenth round, the referee straps the championship belt around his waist. 
     By 1950, Jake has developed a paunch from his extensive binges of eating and drinking, although he is set to defend his title in a month. Still insanely
 jealous of Vickie, Jake suspects that she and Salvy had an affair, and when Joey denies it, Jake irrationally accuses him of having an affair with her. In
 response, Joey advises Jake to indulge in more sex and less food. Jake then goes to Vickie's bedroom to ask if she had sex with his brother. Offended, she
 locks herself in the bathroom, after which he breaks down the door and slaps her. Proceeding to Joey's house, Jake pulls his brother away from dinner with his
 family and begins to beat him, accusing him of adultery with Vickie. When Vickie arrives, he punches her, prompting her to go home and pack her things. She
 later tells Jake that she is leaving him, but his more subdued, contrite demeanor causes her to relent and she agrees to stay, although the brothers remain
 estranged. In 1951 Jake faces Robinson to defend his championship title in the "fight of the year." As Joey watches the bout on television, Robinson viciously
 pounds Jake, sending streams of blood trickling down his legs and spewing from his mouth. Even though Robinson is declared the new champion, Jake remains
 cocky and defiant. Five years later, in 1956, Jake, now living in Florida and grown fat and bloated, announces his retirement from boxing and the opening of
 his eponymous nightclub. As emcee, Jake tells crude jokes and flirts with underage women customers.
     Tired of Jake's abuse, Vickie finally files for divorce and takes custody of the children. One evening, while sleeping in his office, Jake is arrested for
 pandering to underage customers. To pay his legal fees, Jake smashes his championship belt to pry out the jewels, only to be informed by the pawnbroker that
 the belt was worth much more intact. Unable to raise the money for his defense, Jake, bellicose and belligerent, is thrown into solitary confinement, where he
 slams his head against the wall and sobs that he is not an animal. By 1958, Jake, now out of jail and living in New York, has been reduced to introducing his
 new wife, Emma, a stripper known as "Miss 48's," in a dive bar. One night, he spots Joey walking down the street and runs after him. Although Jake smothers
 him with hugs and kisses, Joey, still angry, shrugs him off. In 1964, Jake rehearses his lines for his one-night show at the Barbizon Plaza Hotel. As he stands
 in front of his dressing room mirror, Jake recites the famous speech from On the Waterfront in which "Terry Malloy" accuses his brother, "Charley," of
 betraying him, saying "I could have had class. I could've been a contender, I could've been somebody¿instead of a bum, which is what I am." Before going on
 stage, Jake gazes into the mirror and sparring with his reflection, declares, "Go get `em champ. I'm the boss."

Random Harvest****   1942

This was  a difficult film to ignore for my top 375. For two reasons actually. First, as Miss Garson is my favorite actress, this

may have been her top performance. She is totally irresistible in her Scottish Highlander outfit and does a masterful job of

playing both Paula and Margaret, who are both same character, but totally different contextually. The switch from Smithy to

Charles Rainier for Ronald Coleman was well done because it was done subtly, essentially the same composed character,

but as Mr. Rainier he was preoccupied with a strange insecurity despite his success. Susan Peters was flawless as Kitty Chilcet,

as she matured ethereally in order to make her romance with Charles believable. Their break-up up was slightly over-inventive,

but it worked because of Peter's peformance in the Church scene. The ending was simple and predictable, as we knew that Charles

would test the key in the cottage door, and we were not at all surprised that the last words were Paula crying "Smithy". But 

sometimes it is best when the audience gets exactly what it wants!! 


On 11 Nov 1918, "Smith," an amnesiac, shell-shocked officer, who has lived in a county asylum in Melbridge, England for many 

months, wanders into town for the first time, attracted by the sounds of celebration at the end of World War I. In a tobacconist's

shop, Smith's hesitating speech alerts the owner that he is from the asylum, but a kindly entertainer, known as Paula Ridgeway, 

whispers that he should leave, then takes him to a local pub. Paula invites him to her show and gently draws him out. Because 

"Smithy," as Paula calls him, has come down with the influenza, she and her friend, barkeep "Biffer," take him in and nurse him 

back to health. Smithy thrives under Paula's care and she obtains a job for him with her troupe. When an asylum caretaker 

reveals that they are still looking for a missing inmate, though, Paula runs away with Smithy and takes him to a small town in 

Devon. They stay at a local inn, and soon she gets a job as a typist, while a thriving Smithy begins to write. When he sells his 

first article to the Liverpool Mercury , Smithy tells Paula that he loves her and proposes. After their marriage they move into a 

small cottage, and in November 1920, Paula gives birth to a baby boy. A few days later, Smithy receives a telegram from the 

Mercury asking him to come to Liverpoool to discuss a permanent position on the paper. Because Paula is still recovering from a 

difficult birth, he reluctantly travels alone, planning to return the following night. After checking into his hotel, Smithy walks 

toward the Mercury office but is hit by a car and knocked unconscious. When he comes to, he has no memory of the past three 

years and recalls only his life as aristocrat Charles Rainier. Although confused, Charles returns home, where he finds that his 

father has died and his siblings are anticipating their inheritance. He also meets Kitty, the teenaged daughter of his sister's new

husband. By 1932, Charles has become known as "the industrial prince of England" for vastly increasing his family's fortunes, but

is haunted by the missing past that is tied to a latchkey he found in his vest pocket after the accident. He has been loyally

served for two years by his private secretary, Margaret Hanson, whom Charles does not recognize as Paula. One day, while 

dining with Kitty in a London restaurant, Charles hears the voice of Melbridge psychiatrist Dr. Jonathan Benet and is briefly 

reminded of something in his past, but, as always, the memory passes before he can capture it. That same day, Charles tells 

Kitty, who has always loved him, that he returns her feelings and later announces to Margaret that he is going to marry Kitty. 

Margaret, whose son died in infancy, struggles to maintain her composure and that night begs Benet, who has become a good 

friend, to let her tell Charles everything. Benet makes her realize that Charles has to find memories of "Smithy" on his own. On 

the day that Kitty and Charles are selecting music for their wedding, one melody inexplicably reminds him of his past and he 

momentarily looks at Kitty as if she were a stranger. Seeing her cry brings him back to the present, but she tells him that they 

cannot go through with the wedding because he can never return feelings for her that belong to someone from his past. After 

Charles goes to Liverpool for clues to his past, Margaret follows him to say that the Liberal party has requested that he stand for 

election to a newly vacated seat in Parliament. While in Liverpool, Margaret tries gently to lead him to clues about his lost life, 

but even finding "Smithy's" suitcase does not jar his memory. Charles is soon elected to Parliament and confesses to Margaret 

that from time to time he has had the feeling that he knew her in the past. He then proposes that they marry in a kind of 

"merger" in which she would help him in his political life and says that he can offer only sincere friendship. She discusses the 

proposal with Benet, who loves Magaret himself, and disregards his admonition that she will be hurt. After Margaret and Charles 

marry, she becomes his greatest asset and dearest friend. Charles is soon knighted and on their third anniversary Charles gives 

her an expensive necklace. Despite Charles' affection and friendship, Margaret yearns for the love she shared with Smithy and 

decides that she needs to go away for a few weeks. As Charles uneasily sees her off on the train, he receives word that there is 

labor unrest in his cableworks in Melbridge. He soon settles the dispute, and as he goes through the town, he surprises his 

assistant, Harrison, by going right to the tobacconist's shop, even though he had just said that he had never been in Melbridge 

before. The next day, Margaret, who had been staying at the old Devon inn, learns from the proprietress that a man has just 

been by asking for the former owner and inquiring about a nearby cottage. Margaret then rushes to her old home. At the 

cottage, Charles's memories begin to flood back as his latchkey opens the front door. When Margaret arrives and calls him 

"Smithy," he finally recognizes that Margaret is Paula and the two happily embrace.

Rat Race, The****    1960 


Wishing to pursue a career as a jazz saxophonist, Pete Hammond Jr. (Curtis) takes a bus from his home in MilwaukeeWisconsin

to New York City and optimistically begins looking for work. However, jobs are extremely hard to find.

He crosses paths with Peggy Brown (Reynolds), a model and dancer who has become jaded and cynical after years of struggling to 

survive in the city. She has just been evicted from an apartment rented to Pete, and because she is penniless and has no home to 

return to, he offers to let her stay with him. She is forced to rely on his generosity, and as the two of them work at various low-

paying jobs, they stay together in the apartment as friends.

Peggy warns him that people can't be trusted, but Pete is encouraged when a band auditions him for a job. When the other 

musicians send him out for beer, Pete returns to find that they have stolen his instruments and that he is the victim of a scam.

When Pete finds a part-time job on a cruise ship, he writes to Peggy every day. She is in debt to an abusive club owner, Nelly Miller 

(Don Rickles), who strips Peggy of her dress and jewelry as a down payment and threatens her with violence. In love with Peggy 

and afraid for her, Pete gives up his wristwatch and saxophone to Nelly, who punches him as a further warning. Pete tells Peggy he

loves her, so she agrees to tentatively begin a romantic relationship.


Raven, The****     1935


When Jean Thatcher is severely injured in an automobile wreck, her father, a judge, and her fiancé, Dr. Jerry Halden, request the eccentric but 

brilliant Dr. Richard Vollin to operate. Although retired to Hillview Heights, Vollin finally agrees to perform the surgery and falls in love with Jean. 

Vollin's hobby is the work of Edgar Allan Poe, and for him, Poe's poem "The Raven" is a talisman, symbolizing death, which for Vollin is the only 

certain part of life. Judge Thatcher realizes Vollin's infatuation with his daughter when, after she is recovered, she performs a dance interpretation 

of Poe's poem. The two men quarrel when the judge forbids Vollin to see his daughter, and Vollin argues that he needs her. Edmond Bateman, a 

murderer and thief who is trying to reform, demands that Vollin change his facial structure. Bateman is not only trying to escape the police, but he 

also believes that his ugly appearance causes him to do ugly deeds. Vollin cruelly alters Bateman's facial muscles to make him blind in one eye and 

truly hideous, then demands that Bateman serve him and promises to repair the damage in a later operation. Jean and Jerry accept Vollin's 

invitation to a weekend party, despite the judge's opposition. The guests, including Colonel Bertram Grant and his wife, are horrified at the sight of 

Bateman, who is introduced as a victim of Arab torture. During the party, Vollin shares his interpretation of "The Raven." According to Vollin, Poe, 

a man of genius like himself, decided to impress on others the torture he was feeling when deprived of his beloved "Lenore." Later, Jean apologizes 

to Bateman for being afraid of him, and Bateman tries to warn her of Vollin's evil intent. Vollin tells Bateman to take the sleeping judge into the 

basement and place him on a full-size model based on Poe's story "The Pit and the Pendulum." An elevator then lowers Jean's room into the torture 

chamber. When Jerry discovers that her room has disappeared, he awakens one of the other guests, Geoffrey, and his girl friend to assist him. 

Vollin closes metal shutters over the windows, however, and locks them in. Vollin then places Jean and Jerry into a shrinking room, so that in death 

they will be inseparable. This cruelty is more than Bateman will allow, and though shot by Vollin, he saves Jean and Jerry and Vollin dies in the 

shrinking room. After escaping, the others release the judge before the swinging pendulum blade can strike him.


Reader, The****    2008



THE READER opens in post-war Germany when teenager Michael Berg becomes ill and is helped home by Hanna, a stranger twice

his age. Michael recovers from scarlet fever and seeks out Hanna to thank her. The two are quickly drawn into a passionate but 

secretive affair. Michael discovers that Hanna loves being read to and their physical relationship deepens. Hanna is enthralled as 

Michael reads to her from "The Odyssey," "Huck Finn" and "The Lady with the Little Dog." Despite their intense bond, Hanna 

mysteriously disappears one day and Michael is left confused and heartbroken. Eight years later, while Michael is a law student 

observing the Nazi war crime trials, he is stunned to find Hanna back in his life - this time as a defendant in the courtroom. As 

Hanna's past is revealed, Michael uncovers a deep secret that will impact both of their lives. THE READER is a story about truth

and reconciliation, about how one generation comes to terms with the crimes of another. Written by The Weinstein Company 

Red-Headed Woman***1/2          1932 


 Jack Conway complained about being assigned to direct this comedy, claiming that a woman like the title character had

 almost ruined his own marriage. In a way he had a point , but only Jean Harlow could have made gold digger Lil

 Andrews a sympathetic protagonist. And Katherine Brush's racy novel (which first appeared, serial-fashion, in the

 Saturday Evening Post) could only have been filmed in the pre-Code days of the early 1930s. Helping both star and

 story is the snappy dialogue written by Anita Loos. Lil is the classic girl "from the wrong side of the tracks" -- she's a

 secretary with a bootlegger boyfriend and a wisecracking roommate named Sal (Una Merkel, who was a delightful foil

 to Harlow in several films). But Lil has ambitions -- she's "strictly on the level, like a flight of stairs," as one character

 says. She plans to snag Bill Legendre (Chester Morris), son of the venerable company head (Lewis Stone) -- no matter

 that he's happily married to his childhood sweetheart, Irene (Leila Hyams). Lil throws herself at Legendre until he can

 resist no longer and she snares him. But things don't work out as planned. Instead of making a big splash in society,

 she bombs -- so she casts her attention ever upwards to Gaersate, a coal king (Henry Stephenson). But a wrench is

 thrown into her scheme when she goes mad for his French chauffeur (Charles Boyer). "I've fallen in love and I'm going

 to be married!" she gleefully tells Sal, before explaining that it's the chauffeur she loves and Gaersate whom she will

 marry. However, Legendre Sr. has put a detective on Lil's trail and he shows Gaersate a handful of compromising

 photos. It looks like her game is up, but the last we see of the mercenary miss, she's leaving a fashionable Paris

 racetrack with a bearded old sugar daddy -- and her beloved chauffeur driving them away. In spite of all her blatant

 manipulations, Harlow gives Lil a childlike appeal, which makes her actions nearly forgivable (it also helps that the men

 are such dolts). But not everyone was able to accept a movie bad-girl who did not pay for her sins and, in fact, actually

 benefited from them -- the film was banned in Germany and England. It may not have gotten much play in France either

, but certainly not because of Lil's wantonness. Charles Boyer, who was a star in his native country, was embarrassed

 at his failure to make a splash in America and didn't want his fellow Frenchmen to see him play a tiny bit-part.

 Depending on the source, he reportedly convinced MGM to either 1) release the film in France with his parts edited out

 (which would have made it quite confusing) or 2) not release the film there at all. ~ Janiss Garza, Rovi

more: h

Reincarnation of Peter Proud****    1975


Peter Proud is having recurring dreams, of places he's never been, people he doesn't know, and in a time before he was born. Vividly, he also 

feels that he's been swimming in a lake at night, just before being violently murdered. While he tries to stop the dreams through sleep therapy 

and psychoanalysis, he starts to recognise elements of these dreams in real life. They're not in his imagination after all. A car, actual landmarks 

and eventually faces that are all familiar. Past-life regression was one of many psychic bandwagons that got popular. Hypnotism helped people 

remember the experiences of their former selves (just before they started remembering alien abduction scenarios). When science fails him, Peter 

has to seek the advice of less conventional experts... But he quickly (too quickly) decides he's reincarnated and sets off in search of who he was 

in his previous life... This is a very seventies, very adult thriller, strong on a sexual theme. It's a good example of just how far you could go in a 

mainstream film. While the men flashed their chests and bums, the women were expected to go further, more often - while baring their chests 

was a big deal, full frontal nudity was both encouraged and permitted. Two of the actresses seem to have been picked for their willingness to 

get sexual, rather than be able to act. The result is that the film opens rather shakily with some rather flat punny dialogue. Not helped by Corinne 

O'Neil (Peter's girlfriend, Nora) who exclaims her way through the early scenes. But she looks good in bed, so she got the part I guess. There's a 

bizarre scene where even a helpful teenager tries to vamp Peter, and seems disappointed that she doesn't get jumped. Her only reason to be in 

the film is for a car washing scene in cutoff denim shorts - all very seventies. She's useless to the plot, except for making Peter look less like Mr 

Average and more like James Bond. The acting settles down when Margot Kidder (inbetween Black Christmas and The Amityville Horror) and 

Jennifer O'Neill (before Scanners and Cover Up) get involved, though both get compulsory sex scenes. Kidder famously also gets very naked 

in the bath, during a flashback of a sexual assault. In true 70s style, it's ambiguous whether she's actually enjoying the memory. - See more 



Remember the Night***1/2   1940

 Barbara Stanwyck made two Christmas themed movies, “Christmas in Connecticut”, and the lesser known, though my favorite of the two “Remember the Night.” Released in 1940 the film co-stars Fred MacMurray, Beulah Bondi and Sterling Holloway. This was their first of four screen appearances Stanwyck and MacMurray made together. In 1944, they made the classic “Double Indemnity” 

followed by “The Moonlighter” (1953) and “There’s Always Tomorrow “(1956). The film was directed by Mitchell Leisen with a screenplay by 

Preston Sturges.

    Lee Leander (Stanwyck) is arrested during the holiday season for shoplifting a bracelet from a department store in New York City. The New 

York D.A. assigns A.D.A. John Sargent (MacMurray) to prosecute the case. Sympathetic that she will be spending Christmas behind bars due 

to some legal maneuvering he did during the trial, he arranges for her to be released on bail. They soon discover they are both from Indiana 

and John offers to drop her off at her mother’s home whom she has not seen since she left town years ago.  The reunion with Lee’s mother 

goes badly. She has not forgiven Lee for past misdeeds and has no interest in rekindling any relationship.  Crushed by her mother’s cold 

heartedness John takes Lee with him and they go to his mother’s home for the holidays. The welcome reception from John’s mother 

(Beulah Bondi) and his Aunt Emma (Elizabeth Patterson) are the complete opposite of what Lee’s family reception was like. Warmth and love 

runs through the home. They welcome Lee in as John’s friend and Lee gets to enjoy the kind of homespun warm family holiday that she never 

had. Over the weeklong holidays, Lee and John fall in love. Of course, hanging over them is the  large shadow of Lee’s trial that both will have 

to face upon their return to New York,

Repulsion****   1965

Carol Ledoux, a beautiful, reserved Belgian woman, works in London as a manicurist and lives in an apartment with her sister 

Helen. Although she has an admiring boyfriend, Colin, Carol is repulsed by sexuality, and particularly by Michael, her sister's 

married lover. Carol is repelled by his razor and toothbrush in their bathroom and especially by the sounds of their lovemaking at 

night. Helen and Michael leave for a vacation in Italy, and left alone, Carol falls into a tortured state of mind. She leaves her job 

at the beauty salon and barricades herself in the apartment. Her mind becomes further unhinged when she receives an abusive 

telephone call, intended for her sister, from Michael's wife. She tears out the telephone, shutting herself in totally. She imagines 

a rapist coming through the door and sees arms reaching out of the walls to ravish her. The slight cracks in the apartment walls 

appear to enlarge and the walls to crumble. An uncooked rabbit in a dish decays and appears grotesque and hideous. Colin, 

concerned about Carol's condition, breaks down the door; when he turns his back, she bludgeons him with a candlestick and 

places his lifeless body in the bathtub. The landlord comes to collect the rent, and when he interprets Carol's scanty dress as a 

sexual invitation, she slashes him to death with Michael's razor. Returning from their vacation, Helen and Michael find Carol in 

a trance on the floor and telephone the police.

Requiem for a Heavyweight****1/2     1962



Heavyweight prizefighter Mountain Rivera is knocked out in the 7th round after suffering a brutal beating from a young contender. 

Upon learning from his doctor that he may become blind, Mountain quits the ring. Army, his trainer, and Maish Rennick, his manager,

are equally distressed that Mountain's 17-year career has ended, especially since Maish assured gambler Ma Greeny that Mountain 

would not last beyond the early rounds; the manager is now faced with repaying her losses. Desperate for work, Mountain visits a 

state unemployment agency and wins the sympathy of Grace Miller, a young social worker. When Grace arranges an interview 

between Mountain and an elderly couple seeking an athletic director for their summer camp, Maish ruins the deal by deliberately 

getting Mountain drunk before the meeting. The manager, who needs $3000 to pay Ma Greeny, then proposes that Mountain 

commercialize on his American Indian ancestry by becoming a wrestler. Mountain, appalled to learn that Maish bet against him in 

the final bout, initially refuses the deal but finally relents when he realizes that Maish's life will be endangered if he fails to raise the 

money. As Mountain walks into the arena in his Indian suit, the crowd starts laughing at him; stripped of all dignity, he performs a 

war dance and waves his tomahawk at the jeering audience. 

Return to Me***1/2   2000

It's that hoary Hollywood chestnut: boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, girl turns out to have the transplanted heart of boy's 

deceased wife...
Where some romantic comedies use religion, class or social standing to keep their would_be lovers apart, Bonnie Hunt's 

directorial debut opts for human biology. It sounds somewhat daft, but thanks to the good humour of the actors and script, 

Return To Me proves a charming addition to the genre. rchitect Bob Rueland (David Duchovny) has the American Dream: a 

beautiful wife, Elizabeth (Joely Richardson), a gorgeous Chicago apartment and a great job. When fate conspires to wreck Bob's 

fairy-tale by taking Elizabeth away from him in a car accident, he responds by devoting all of his energies to realising her 

dream: a gorilla sanctuary at Lincoln Park Zoo where she used to work. It takes almost a year before Bob agrees to begin dating 

again, albeit reluctantly, whereupon he meets waitress Grace (Minnie Driver), with whom he feels an inexplicable bond.

Plucking up the courage to ask Grace out on a date, and weathering the questions of her overly protective grandfather Marty 

(Carroll O'Connor) and his card_playing circle, Bob experiences the first pangs of love for a very long time. However, behind the 

smile and the quick wit, Grace conceals a secret which has completely changed her life: 12 months ago she received a heart 

transplant. A heart, they will soon both learn, donated by Bob's wife...

The central gimmick of the transplant is arguably the film's weakest element. The script never discusses the issue in any real 

depth. Before the operation, the only time we see Grace is gasping for breath on a hospital gurney, so there is no tangible 

comparison of life before and after the heart. Driver is delightful as the emotionally and physically scarred Grace, who gambles 

everything on Bob, while Duchovny proves his acting range far exceeds what little we see of him as Agent Mulder in The X-Files.

They make an incredibly attractive couple and share a palpable chemistry but it's not exactly the fireworks you'd expect from 

fated lovers, but it is a refreshingly old-fashioned romance (they go bowling and talk incessantly in the garden) which is 

something of a rarity nowadays. The supporting cast frequently steals the show, gifted the majority of the best lines. Hunt and 

James Belushi are a constant source of joy as Grace's wise-cracking sister and her hubby whose married life - screaming kids, 

bickering - is the recipe for a surprisingly strong and fruitful marriage.

O'Connor, Robert Loggia and co are wonderful as Grace's family and protectors who take an immediate shine to Bob, and scheme

to bring the couple together. The banter between the old men around the card table, which tends to involve animated arguments 

about whether Dean Martin was a better singer than Frank Sinatra, provides some of the most touching and real moments in the 

whole film.

The film opens with a loving husband and wife preparing for a very important fund raising dinner. The evening ends with the 

loss of the wife. In a hospital a weak young woman who may die soon if she can not get a new heart. Jump ahead one year the 

young woman received a heart and is trying to adjust to a life no longer counted by hours or days, she can actually make plans. 

The grieving husband and his dog are still trying to adjust to life without his wife. His friends keep trying to pry him from his 

"work is my life" existence by setting him up on blinds dates. Finally he actually shows up for one at an Irish-Italian restaurant 

where he finds himself more attracted to the waitress than his blind date. He finds an excuse to return to the restaurant in 

hopes of seeing the waitress again, there's just something attractive about her. Unknown to both the attraction they both feel 

for one another is Grace has the heart of Bob's dead wife. What can you say after that! Carroll O'Connor says exactly the right 

thing to Bob after he finds out this ironic coincidence. Written by Gremma

River Runs Through It, A ***1/2    1992

The film tells the autobiographical story about two young men, Norman (Craig Sheffer) and Paul (Brad Pitt), growing up in 1920s

Missoula, Montana under the watchful eye of their father, a Presbyterian minister. Their mornings are spent in school and 

religious study, while their afternoons are devoted to fly fishing in the nearby Blackfoot River. At home, however, the family's 

stoic emotions hint that trouble is to come. Norman goes to the east coast for college and lives there for six years, without 

returning home until then. In the meantime, Paul gets a job as a prolific journalist and makes a name for himself back home. 

The movie is about Norman's return home and his and Paul's summer together.

As adults, Paul is a rebellious journalist and his brother, Norman, a level-headed, grounded teacher. Norman matures and 

channels his rebellion through his writing while dating Jessie Burns, while his reckless brother Paul turns to gambling and liquor. 

The film chronicles their intertwining and often conflicting lives, focusing on Norman's point of view, as they grow up in the 

shadow of their minister father. A great deal of the film surrounds the men's love of fly fishing for trout in Montana's rivers, and 

their shared experiences through it while growing up.

River's End****     1930 


No clip avail.

Temporarily I have submitted a clip from the 1940 remake... 

 Conniston goes into the Far North in search of Keith, who is wanted for murder; he gets his man, but on their return trip Conniston

 dies. MacDonald, Conniston's guide, takes a liking to Keith and suggests that since Keith resembles Conniston, he should pretend

 to be Conniston. Keith agrees, but when he arrives, he finds that the fraud is unnecessary since he has been cleared of guilt. He

 meets Conniston's girl, Miriam, who, taken in by the deception, loves him more than the real Conniston; but when she is informed

 by a jealous suitor, Martin, of Conniston's previous and still valid marriage, Keith is forced to tell Evelyn the truth. He does not

 reveal the true story to the Mounties and consequently is flogged. But when he leaves town, he finds Evelyn on the boat waiting for


Roaring Twenties, The***   1939

In France, as the Armistice is signed, three American soldiers speculate about their future. Eddie Bartlett believes that his old 

job as a garage mechanic awaits him, while George Hally, a saloon keeper, has no fears of the just enacted prohibition and 

Lloyd Hart, a law graduate, plans to take up the law. However, the America to which they return home has changed. Eddie finds 

his old job filled and,in the face of rampant unemployment, is forced to drive a cab. One night, he unwittingly delivers a 

package of liquor to Panama Smith, a nightclub hostess, and the two are arrested. Eddie refuses to testify against Panama, and 

out of gratitude, she pays his fine and backs him in the bootlegging business, where he soars to prosperity and power. While at 

a show one night, Eddie meets Jean Sherman, his penpal during the war who is now an aspiring singer, and falls in love, not 

realizing that the girl is interested in Lloyd, who is now working as Eddie's attorney. Another person from his war days comes 

back into his life when Eddie meets George while hijacking a load of liquor from bootlegger Nick Brown. The two old army pals 

become partners, but are destined to become enemies. Ruined in the stock market crash, Eddie goes back to driving a cab and 

meets Jean, who is now happily married to Lloyd. George, the object of a criminal investigation, learns that Lloyd, who is now 

employed in the district attorney's office, has gathered evidence against him, and sends a death warning to Jean, who appeals 

to Eddie for help. When Eddie goes to George to urge him not to harm Lloyd and Jean, George orders Eddie killed. Pulling a gun, 

Eddie shoots George, but then meets his own death at the hands of George's gunmen.

Rockabye***1/2     1932


After Broadway actress Judy Carroll testifies in court on behalf of accused embezzler Commissioner Al Howard, her former lover, she loses custody

 of orphan Elizabeth, called "Lilybet", whom she had longed to adopt. Devastated by the loss, Judy takes the advice of her longtime manager and

 would-be lover, Antonie "Tony" de Sola, and travels to Europe with her alcoholic mother. While in Europe, she reads a play called Rockabye , whose

 plot echoes much of her recent life and, against Tony's wishes, pushes to do a production of it on Broadway. Playwright Jacob "Jake" Van Riker Pell,

 however, has doubts about Judy's ability to play the part of a tough "Second Avenue" girl, stating that she is too sophisticated, but has a change of

 heart when Judy reveals that she was brought up on Second Avenue and learned to be a "lady" from Tony. After a fun-filled, romantic evening on the

 town with Jake, whom Judy learns is soon to be divorced, Judy convinces Tony to produce Rockabye . Soon after, while they are picnicking together,

 Jake suggests to Judy that they marry as soon as his divorce is final and is accepted by Judy without reservations. At a party for the successful

 premiere of Rockabye , however, which Jake fails to attend, Jake's mother visits Judy and, reporting that Jake's wife has just had a baby, admonishes

 Judy to relinquish Jake from his promise of marriage. Stunned by the news, Judy announces her intention to marry Tony and sarcastically dismisses

 Jake when he finally arrives at the party. Although Jake vows that he will leave his wife for her, Judy adamantly insists that he return to his family.

 Her love sacrificed, Judy then finds solace in the faithful, understanding arms of Tony.



Romance of Limberlost****     1938


Deep in the swamplands of Indiana, pretty Laurie slavesaway for her heartless Aunt Nora, who tortures her orphaned niece. The 

bright and optimistic girl falls in love with aspiring lawyer Wayne. Her aunt puts an end to the romance by blackmailing the 

heartbroken Laurie into marrying Corson, the richest and most uncouth man in the county. Just before the ceremony, Corson is 

shot, and the girl's innocent friend, Chris, is arrested for the murder. Wayne's first case will be a grave challenge, as he attempts 

to save Chris from the gallows.

Beautiful Jean Parker appeared in 70 films between 1932 and 1965 including The Flying Deuces (1939) with Laurel and Hardy and 

Frank Capra'sLady For A Day (1933), but is best remembered for her role as Beth in the original production of Little Women 

(1933). Beginning in the silent era, William Nigh directed some 120 films, most notably Mr. Wong, Detective (1938), Black 

Dragons (1942) and Lady from Chunking (1942).


George Cleveland, Jean Parker, Sarah Padden, Marjorie Main           The incomparable Betty Blythe with Parker and Main



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