David's Top 500 Movies




Films listed below are being evaluated:


After Life 1998                                                                         

American Blue Note 1989                                                                         

Anne of Windy Poplars 1940

And Then There Were None 1945

Applause 1929

Aria 1988                                                                       

Ballet Shoes   2007

The Battle of Algiers 1965

Beloved 1998                                                          

A Bill of Divorcement 1932                                                                    

Black Robe 1991

The Black Cat 1934                                                                     

Boomerang! 1947

Breakdown 1997

The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith 1978

Chariots of Fire 1989

Chocolat 2000

The Citadel 1938

Crime of the Century 1996                                                                          

Death by Hanging 1968                                        

Dreamchild 1985

The Keyhole 1933

The Enforcer 1950

Evelyn Prentice 1934                                                                   

15 Minutes 2000

42nd Street 1933

Fresh 1994

Frida 2002

George Washington 2000

The Godfather 1972

Golddiggers of 1933 1933

The Golden Age of Comedy 1957                     

Husbands and Wives 1992          

Kids 1995

The King's Speech 2010 

Land and Freedom 1975

The Last Command 1928

Lenin in October 1937                                                                            

Let the Right One In  2008         

Manhattan Murder Mystery 1999                                      

Mrs. Miniver 1942

Murder Inc. 1960

A Night to Remember  1955

1984 1955

Nosferatu 1922

Olympische Spiele 1936                                                                   

Pollock 2000

27 Dresses                                                                             

Radio Days 1987 

The Round Up 2010                         

Son of Frankenstein 1939

Stardust Memories 1980                                                                   

Sunnyside Up 1929                          

The Trip to Bountiful 1985

What Price Hollywood?                                     

War and Peace   1965

Weekend 1968

Whatever Happened to Aunt Alice?  1969

Where the Spirit Lives 1989

Whiskey Galore! 1949

Woodstock 1970

When Ladies Meet 1933, 1941

Ace In the Hole****   1951




  As his car is being towed through downtown Albuquerque, New Mexico, down-and-out reporter Charles "Chuck" Tatum passes by

 the Sun Bulletin newspaper office and rushes inside. After Chuck boldly informs conservative editor Jacob Q. Boot that he is a

 $250-a-week reporter but can be had for $50 a week, Boot offers him a job on condition he stay clean and sober. Chuck, who

 admits his reckless, caustic behavior led to his dismissal from many prestigious Eastern newspapers, embraces Boot's terms,

 confident that his next big break will soon come. A year later, however, Chuck is still working at the Bulletin when Boot assigns

 him and cub reporter-photographer Herbie Cook to cover a rattlesnake hunt. On the way, Herbie and Chuck stop for gas at a

 remote trading post and soon discover that the young proprietor, Leo Minosa, is trapped in a cave in a nearby Indian cliff

dwelling. When an Indian tells Chuck that the cave is in the sacred Mountain  of the Seven Vultures, Chuck senses a story

 opportunity. Ignoring a deputy sheriff, Chuck pushes his way into the cave with Herbie and locates Leo, pinned under a heavy

 plank inside a narrow, unstable crevice. Chuck soothes the frightened Leo, who had crawled into the crevice in search of Indian

 artifacts, and snaps a photo of him. As soon as he returns to the trading post, Chuck calls Boot and boasts that he has a front

 page feature. Chuck then arranges with Leo's cynical wife Lorraine to stay in her in-laws's bedroom, and while he is typing up

 his first article, they talk about Leo. Lorraine reveals that she married Leo, a veteran, right after the war, but quickly became

 disillusioned and bored.

 When Lorraine declares that she is leaving Leo while she can, Chuck, mindful of how her desertion will hurt his story, tries to

 shame her into staying. Lorraine refuses to feel guilty, but changes her mind about going after the vacationing Federber family

 shows up, eager to observe Leo's rescue and buy food and trinkets. Along with Chuck, Lorraine realizes that as news about Leo's

 predicament spreads, business at the trading post will explode. The next day, after Chuck's first story appears in the Bulletin,

 the trading post is besieged by visitors. After learning from Dr. Hilton, who has gone into the cave, that Leo can survive a week

 of entrapment, Chuck approaches Sheriff Gus Kretzer with a proposition. Noting how much publicity the sheriff would earn if the

 rescue went on for a week, Chuck convinces Kretzer to use his position to prolong the operation and, in exchange for Chuck's

 silence and support, guarantee him exclusive access to the story. By threatening to ruin his career, the sheriff then coerces 

 engineer Sam Smollett to drill a shaft from the top of the cave down to Leo, instead of shoring up the walls and getting Leo out

 in a day. That evening, Lorraine, now flush with cash, tries to flirt with Chuck, but he slaps her. As Smollett's rescue team

 begins drilling the next day, the area is flooded with reporters, cameramen and tourists. Taking in the spectacle, Chuck tells the

 wide-eyed Herbie that they are quitting the Bulletin . When other reporters complain about Chuck's favored position, the sheriff 

 announces that he has deputized Chuck and will not allow anyone else inside the cave for safety reasons. In the cave, Leo tells

 Chuck about his upcoming anniversary and his hope that his predicament will somehow save his marriage. Chuck again

 reassures Leo and is nonplussed when Leo declares him his best friend. At the trading post, Chuck runs into Boot, who has

 deduced Chuck's scheme and condemns his "below-the-belt" journalism. Nagel, a New York editor, then calls and agrees to pay

 Chuck $1,000 a day to cover the story. While the sheriff makes campaign speeches, spectators and newsmen continue to pour

 into the area, which now boasts a full-fledged carnival. Restless, Lorraine asks Chuck to take her to New York with him, and he

 responds with a hard kiss. Five and a half days into the ordeal, Dr. Hilton informs Chuck that Leo has developed pneumonia

 and will only last twelve more hours in the cave. Leo begs Chuck to stop the drilling, which is only twenty-six feet away, and

 bring a priest. Although Chuck refuses, he asks Smollett to shore up the walls as originally proposed but learns that because of

 the drilling, the walls have become dangerously weak, making shoring impossible. The next morning, Leo, struggling for breath,

 asks Chuck to give Lorraine the anniversary present he bought for her. Desperate and angry, Chuck finds Lorraine as she is

 about to cut her platinum hair and forces her to put on Leo's present--a cheap fur stole. When Lorraine protests, Chuck starts to

 strangle her with the stole, and she stabs him with her scissors. Though bleeding, Chuck stumbles to the sheriff's car and 

 drives the priest to the cave. Leo dies as the priest prays, and once outside, Chuck grabs a microphone and announces his death.

 As the stunned crowd takes in the news, Chuck's rivals rush to file the story. Numb with pain and guilt, Chuck calls Nagel,

 declaring that he has murdered Leo, and drives Herbie to the Bulletin office. After shoving Herbie back to his desk, Chuck tells

 Boot, "You can have me for nothing," then collapses and dies.

Actress, The****   1953





A film flawless in it's simplicity. A naive young girl in World War 1 America, named Ruth Gordon Jones, played by Jean Simmons, 

is driven by her dreams and her sense of worthlessness. Clifton Jones, her father, played  by Spencer Tracy, is driven by anger,

due to his menial job and perceived poverty. The stabilizing force in their lives is Mrs. Annie Jones, played by Teresa Wright. She is driven

by faith and patience. Her husband and daughter on on the verge of chaos, but with the love and patience of Annie, things always end 

up being in perspective. The acting is perfect, Tracy keeps his anger lassoed by using his heart when he senses his responsibility regarding

This daughter's future. Simmons is sometimes selfish in her vision of acting infamy, balances her performance with innocence, and

learns of her father's dedication, and finds humility. Wright is her usual consistent self, performing with her uniquely deep sense of warmth and

humanity. This story is also a perfect blend of situational comedy, with moments of darkness.

Teenage student Ruth Gordon Jones (Jean Simmons) dreams of a theatrical career after becoming mesmerized by a performance of 

The Pink Lady in a Boston theater. Encouraged to pursue her dream by real-life leading lady Hazel Dawn in response to a fan letter 

she sent her, Ruth schemes to drop out of school and move to New York City, much to the dismay of her father, Clinton Jones 

(Spencer Tracy), a former seaman now working at a menial factory job, who urges her to continue her education and become a 

physical education instructor instead. When Ruth's audition with a leading producer proves disastrous and the girl's enthusiasm is 

crushed, her father offers to support her during her first few months in New York if she will at least get her high school diploma.

The film basically is a series of vignettes involving Ruth, her parents, her best friends, and the college boy romantically pursuing her. 

Although Gordon did in fact become an accomplishedAcademy Award-winning actress and a successful writer, the film ends before 

the audience knows if the girl will achieve her goals.


Adventures of Robin Hood, The***1/2   1938




A great early colour film. The script is somewhat cliched and frothy, but it can be said also, to be witty, deliciously

funny and slightly amoral. More than anything else, the film is an exercise in inexhaustive energy. It is made  fun with

the usual stable of brilliant character actors. The "romance" between Much and Nurse Bess (Herbert Mundin and Una

O'Connor) is particularly amusing. Claude Rains and Basil Rathbone are successfully devious. 

The new Technicolor provides us with a clean, fantastical setting, not one of realism, but it is certainly fanciful.

Errol Flynn is the quintessential Robin Hood. Flynn choreographs his own stunts, not just with masculinity, but with

a musical abandon. Up close camera work makes use of Flynn's bright comical sneer, which illustrates his modest

arrogance and mockery of the corrupt political world of Saxony. The character is also complex enough to be interesting,

as Flynn's character displays heroism and courage but never displays reckless confidence. I have, although not initially,

grown fond of the Maid Marian portrayal, by Olivia de Havilland. It is slightly plastic but her eyes show a quiet strength

and you realize that though timid she is cautiously observing everything around her. She takes stock of the identity

of her friends and foes, and therefore makes decisions with careful calculation. It is noteworthy that she is the

character driven less by ego and more by morality and virtue. 

Rathburn, as Guy of Gisbourne, is the main protagonist because he displays a degree of courage and cunning, and is

intent on making Maid Marian his wife.

The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) is one of the greatest, most colorful costume dramas, swashbucklers, and

 romantically-tinged adventure films in film history. After the icy restrictions placed on the film industry following the

 establishment of the Production Code Administration (Breen Office) in the mid 1930s, Warner Bros. Studios decided to find

 relief from censorship by bringing about a renaissance of the historical-costume adventure film, with swordplay, sweeping

 action, and romantic charm. It expertly tells the story of the heroic Robin and his Sherwood Forest followers, who saved England

 from royal treachery by scheming nobles during the absence of the crusading and captured-ransomed King Richard the

 Lion-Hearted. And it tells the fairy-tale romance with nostalgic chivalry, colorful pageantry, simple righteousness triumphant

 over villainous and evil might, and spectacular action. The spectacle includes superb casting of memorable characters, a

 light-hearted, but spirited story, exciting dueling and action scenes requiring extensive stunt work, and the ideal love team

 of de Havilland and gallant Flynn with their witty and tender romantic scenes together. [It was their third of eight films

 together - the first two were Captain Blood (1935) and The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936) - and this was the first of their

 pairings in color.] Flynn did most of his own dueling and other action stunts except for the expert archery shooting,

 and was coached by fencing master Fred Cavens.

The film was nominated for four Academy Awards: Best Interior Direction (Carl J. Weyl), Best Original Score (Erich Wolfgang

Korngold), Best Film Editing (Ralph Dawson), and Best Picture, and lost only its Best Picture recognition to Frank Capra's You

Can't Take It With You (1938).

Advice and Consent**** 1963





This film represented the political period of the earl sixties in a very  special way. The infrastructure of political

 decision-making as well as the issue of the privacy rights of politicians was at issue. This Kennedy era film was made

 at a time when the new president represented a supposedly  a new openness and tolerance towards style and political

 differentiation. Ironically, Kennedy's career became very much contingent upon secrecy. It also showcased the careers

 of many great actors who were in the twilight of their acting years: Gene Tierney, Franchot Tone, Walter Pidgeon,

 Lew Ayres, Charles Laughton, and Henry Fonda (a veteran, but still a long way to go). Dom Murray and George Grizzard

 represented the new wave.  

 The film is perfectly paced, and stays suspenseful throughout without ever letting up. 

 There were so many great performances, they cannot all be detailed, but it suffice to say that the particular talents if each actor

was utilized to the maximum. Franchot Tone was effective as a wearing leader, Lew Ayres is dynamic as the great

compromiser , Walter Pidgeon was authoritative, Fonda had a quiet charm, and Laughton was verging on being over the top

was skillfully believable as the nasty and unscrupulous, Senator Cooley Sebright, white suit and all. Betty White appears, as

 well as Peter Lawford as an uncoincidentally Kennedy-like Senator. 

As Senator Brig Anderson has to deal with the ghosts in his closet (past homosexual relationships) he feels morally obligated 

to reveal Senator Leffingwell's alleged Communist associations. In a way this parallels the Kennedy hypocricy of

the administrations fight against organized crime, while on the other hand obligated to it.

A great film that accentuates the characters and battles of conscience (or lack od conscience) that they face, unlike the

more action-based films of today.

The first of Allen Drury "all names changed to protect the guilty" political novels, Advise and Consent was brought to the screen by

 producer/director Otto Preminger. The film hinges upon the appointment of Robert Leffingwell (Henry Fonda) to Secretary of State. Leffingwell

 has been hand-picked by the President (Franchot Tone), meaning that there'll be a battle on the Senate floor between adherents of and

 opponents to the current administration. Among the participants are veteran Dixiecrat Charles Laughton, freshman Senator Don Murray and

 powerseeker George Grizzard. Burgess Meredith also shows up as a man who is brought into the Senate to "prove" that Leffingwell is a

 communist. To neutralize Murray, Grizzard threatens to dredge up a homosexual incident in Murray's past, which results in the latter's suicide.

 Advise and Consent is a slow and old-fashioned film, coming to life only when Laughton and Grizzard are on screen--and in the climax, in

 which the fate of Leffingwell's appointment is left in the hands of acting President Lew Ayres. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi 

Afflication****1/2   1997




This film is intense and numbing. Nick Nolte who I generally find over-acts is perfectly suited for this role (Wade

Whitehouse), where his seemingly latent madness is the character himself. James Coburn plays the cruel Glen

Whitehouse with startling brutality. Brigid Tierney plays the victimized daughter of Wade Whitehouse, showing

her emotional injuries with severity, but also a courageous pugnacity. 

The emotional impact of the film is that it does not depict hope or confidence. The characters are suffering from

a background of violence. Wade Whitehouse does try to escape from his despair by seeing a crime where guilt is

misplaced. His chance to bring justice is motivating, but his invariable solution is tragic. 

Sissy Spacek plays Wade's girlfriend, and she weaves her magic by being the only one who seems to be able to reach

Wade. This could only be done with Spacek's unique lack of pretension.

The film is narrated by Wade's brother Rolfe (Willem Dafoe), who reveals early on that Wade (Nick Nolte) disappeared from town

after the events related in the story, and was never found. Rolfe' speriodic narration is in the present, so the movie is effectively

a flashback from the perspective of Rolfe's narration. As the film begins, it is a snowy Halloween night. Wade is driving his

daughter, Jill, to a Halloween party he has helped organize, but it is clear she would rather be trick-or-treating. At the party

herdisaffection and moodiness continues. She tells Wade she wants to go home. Jill eventually calls her mother to come and pick

her up. When his ex-wife (Mary Beth Hurt) finally arrives, Wade shoves her lover against their car and watches them drive away

with Jill. Wade vows to get a divorce lawyer to help gain custody of his daughter.

The next morning, Wade rushes to the scene of a crime. A hunting guide named Jack (Jim True) comes back from the woods

claiming that the man with whom he was hunting accidentally shot and killed himself. The police believe Jack, but Wade, after

noticing bloodstains on Jack's shoulder, slowly grows suspicious, believing that the man's death was no accident.

One day, Wade and his girlfriend Margie Fogg (Sissy Spacek) arrive at the house of Wade's abusive father, Glen Whitehouse

(James Coburn), whose brutal treatment of Wade and Rolfe as children is seen through home video-style flashbacks throughout

the film. Wade goes upstairs and finds his mother lying dead in her bed from hypothermia. Glen Whitehouse reacts to her death

with little surprise, and at the funeral wake, while everyone else displays grief, he gets drunk and loudly exclaims, "Not one of

you is worth one hair on that woman's head!" At the wake Wade behaves aggressively toward his father, at one point holding him

up against a wall in front of everyone.

Rolfe, who has come home for the funeral, has a long talk with Wade about the hunting accident, and suggests that Wade's

murder theory is correct. Wade becomes so convinced by Rolfe's advice that he becomes obsessed with the idea of becoming the

town hero. At one point in the film he begins to follow Jack in a car chase, convinced that Jack is running away from something

and is involved in a conspiracy ring with the other police officers. A curiously nervous Jack finally pulls over, threatens Wade with

a rifle, shoots out his tires, and drives off. Wade is so dumbfounded that he doesn't tell anyone.

Later in the film, Wade is confronted with a multitude of crises. He is fired from both of his jobs at the police station for his

constant harassment of Jack. He has a painful toothache, and is forced to pull out the tooth with a pair of pliers (there is a brief

shot of him crying from the pain). He collects Jill from his ex-wife's house, takes her to the local restaurant, and attacks the

bartender in front of his daughter after he insults Wade. Then Wade takes Jill home to find Margie leaving him. Wade grabs

Margie and begs her to stay with him, but Jill rushes up and tries to push Wade away. In response, Wade pushed Jill, causing her

nose to bleed. She and Margie drive off.

Wade is then approached by his father Glen, who congratulates him for finally showing his angry side, but Glen is more concerned

that the farmhouse is almost out of alcohol. Wade, however, refuses to let his father drive to town. An enraged Glen follows

Wade into the barn, sneaks up behind him, and hits him on the head with a bottle of Brown's whiskey. Wade quickly recovers,

jumps up from the ground and knocks Glen unconscious with a rifle, accidentally killing him. He then pours gasoline on Glen,

sets him alight with a cigarette lighter and as a consequence, sets the entire barn on fire. We see him watching the burning

barn from a window of his house. Rolfe's narration reveals that Wade eventually murdered Jack the hunter out of his own false

suspicions), and left town (possibly to Canada, where they found Jack's truck 3 months later), never to return.

Ah! Wilderness****1/2




A very early coming of age film. This story of Richard Miller (Eric Linden) develops a character who sees himself

ahead of his time and is often thwarted in his attempts to be "a man of the future". His girlfriends father forces

his daughter to denounce Richard, and Richard's father (Lionel Barrymore) fears his sons ideals are to socialist 

(in a time of reactionary pre-WW1 America). Interestingly his younger brother Tommy, who is played by Mickey

Rooney, typifies the character that does become the coming of age portrayal of future Hollywood film,

and coincidentally, or not!, Mickey Rooney plays that character in Andy Hardy films. Richard has experiences

which expand his view of society, as he deals with the ambiguity regarding his drunken uncle (Wallace Beery).

On the one hand he is told of the inappropriateness of his uncles behavior, but on the other he witnesses that the 

family cannot help but laugh at his shenanigans. When dealing with constant authority, Richard in frustration goes,

to a bar, encounters a women of the evening, and is easily coerced into inebriation and gets taken for a sum of


Nat Miller (a brilliant, sensitive and sometimes solemn performance) tries to give Richard a candid talk on sexuality.

He refers comically to whited sepulchres and shadowboxes futilely around the subject, as his embarrassment

escalates. Aline MacMahon, one of the most talented comic actresses on screen, plays Aunt Lily, who is understanding,

warm, but also capable of wit and sarcasm.

This film is highly entertaining, well balanced between drama (that is not overly sentimentalized), situational comedy,

and character portrayals that are not excessively stereotyped. Great cinematography capturing a fascinating

period...an interesting comparison to Meet Me in St. Louis (1944). The city of St. Louis could actually be paralleled to

that of Richard Miller, in that it was growing, bursting at the seems, and looking for a new identity.  


                                                                                                                   The filming of Ah! Wilderness 

Playwright Eugene O'Neill's only comedy, Ah, Wilderness! was filmed by MGM in 1935. Impressionable turn-of-the-century lad Eric

Linden, whose knowledge of the ways of the world has come from French novels, is anxious to taste life to the fullest. Linden's

father Lionel Barrymore sternly advises the boy to be good and be careful, while Barrymore's shiftless, bibulous brother-in-law

Wallace Beery (replacing MGM's first choice, W.C. Fields) encourages Linden to get out, get drunk and get...you know what.

After a frightening encounter with lady of the evening Helen Flint (a surprisingly frank characterization for a Production Code

film), Linden runs home, nursing a monster hangover the next day. The boy eventually accepts the sedate affections of his

childhood sweetheart Jean Parker, while a chastened Beery promises to mend his ways--and Barrymore decides to be more of a

father and less of an autocrat to his son. Ah, Wilderness would be musicalized (and bowdlerized) by MGM as the 1947 film

Summer Holiday. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi 

There's an aching melancholy beneath the surface of Ah, Wilderness!, the wistful and charming, if not completely successful

adaptation of the Eugene O'Neill comedy. Director Clarence Brown has unfortunately coddled the material a bit much, with the

result that some of the acerbic edges have been softened in favor of a nostalgic glow, and -- despite a pretty terrific sequence

involving Richard's run-in with a looser member of the fair sex -- has applied a patina of good taste that dampens some of the

fun. The material itself has also dated somewhat, most damagingly in terms of Uncle Sid's "amusing" alcoholism; many will also

find the Miller family a tad too enthusiastically wholesome. These caveats aside, there's still a good deal to enjoy here,

especially in the performances of a nicely understated Lionel Barrymore, a sensitive Spring Byington, and a moving Aline

MacMahon. Eric Linden is not quite up to carrying as much of the film as he is called upon to do, but overall he's fine and acquits

himself respectfully. As the younger brother, Mickey Rooney goes a bit overboard, but he's more than bearable. As befits an

MGM film of the era, production values are top-notch. If Wilderness could stand a little more wildness, it's still an entertaining

and touching little film. ~ Craig Butler, Rovi

Airplane!***   1980




A true comic farce. A script full of gags, some hilarious, some funny, some corny, and some simply

miss the target. This reaches above some of the others for a few reasons. First, it does have a plot

which gives the film a rhythm (it's a parody on the drama Zero Hour). Secondly the array of comic

talent gives a degree of interesting characterizations. 

Lloyd Bridges, as the tower supervisor, plays the role with an intensity, as if mocking the film itself.

He shows the effects of the pressure upon him by lighting his cigarettes in various fervent ways.

One unforgettable scene is when a gentlemen takes a swig of whiskey, and then proceeds to offer a

matronly old lady across the aisle, some of the same. She looks at him with disgust, refusing his offer.

Then we witness her in the act of snorting cocaine!

Here are a few of the best gags from the film.

  1.  Elaine Dickinson: "A hospital? What is it?" - Dr. Rumack: "It's a big building with patients, but that's not important 
  2.  right now." This is an example of the quick wit used to create the best "Airplane!" (1980) movie quotes. In what
  3.  seems to be a serious discussion between a Dr. Rumack (Leslie Neilson) and stewardess Elaine Dickinson (Julie Hagerty)
  4.  on an airplane in trouble, there is still time to quickly describe a hospital.
  5.  Johnny: "Oh, it's a big pretty white plane with red stripes, curtains in the windows and wheels and it looks like a big
  6.  Tylenol."
  7.  It seems like the only reason Johnny (Stephen Stucker) is in this movie is to create entries into the list of the best
  8.  "Airplane!" movie quotes.
  9.  As a reporter asks Johnny to describe what kind of plane the passengers are on, this is the answer Johnny gives.
  10.  Jive Lady: "Excuse me stewardess, I speak jive." Mrs. Cleaver makes an appearance in "Airplane!" billed only as the
  11.  Jive Lady (Barbara Billingsley). This is just one example of the brilliant gags used in the movie as America's favorite
  12.  1950's mom speaks in an urban language to some distressed passengers.
  13.  Steve McCroskey: "Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit drinking." Almost everything in "Airplane!" is a parody
  14.  of something, and that is what helps to create the memorable "Airplane!" (1980) movie quotes. Flight controller Steve
  15.  McCroskey (Lloyd Bridges) is a parody of several airport disaster movie roles that adds more and more vices to the
  16.  list of things he shouldn't have quit as the movie rolls along, including sniffing glue and smoking.
  17.  Elaine Dickinson: "There's no reason to become alarmed, and we hope you'll enjoy the rest of your flight. By the
  18.  way, is there anyone on board who knows how to fly a plane?" As Elaine Dickinson attempts to calm the passengers
  19.  she also takes some time to throw out a quick question about whether or not there were any pilots on board.
  20.  Ted Striker: "Surely, you can't be serious." - Dr. Rumack: "I am serious, and don't call me Shirley." Ted Striker (Robert
  21.  Hayes) plays straight man to a lot of quick jokes based on word pronunciation. This is one of the most classic lines
  22.  from the movie and definitely an entry into the list of the best "Airplane!" movie quotes.
  23.  Dr. Rumack: "Captain, how soon can you land?" - Captain Oveur: "I can't tell." - Dr. Rumack: "You can tell me, I'm 
  24.  a doctor."
  25.  Captain Oveur (Peter Graves) sticks around long enough to deliver two of the best "Airplane!" movie quotes. This
  26.  one is part of the word play that is expertly written into the script.
  27.  Captain Oveur: "You ever seen a grown man naked?" Captain Oveur invites a passenger named Joey (Rossie Harris)
  28.  into the cockpit, and then proceeds to ask some pretty uncomfortable questions. This is just one on the list of four
  29.  or five questions that would be inappropriate in any situation!
  30.  Ted Striker: "Excuse me doc, I've got a plane to land." One of the ultimate goals of "Airplane!" was to parody as many
  31.  cliche movie situations as possible. This entry into the list of the best "Airplane!"  movie quotes helped to cap off a
  32.  speech by Dr. Rumack that made fun of just about every pep talk ever put on film.
  33.  Captain Oveur: "Alright, give me a Hamm on five, hold the Mayo." The jokes in "Airplane!" can be fast, and set-ups are
  34.  sometimes done so well that you do not see the joke coming until the punchline. This quote is an example of one of
  35.  the best jokes done in the movie.
 Airplane was shown is Australia and New Zealand, as "Flying High". 

Ex-fighter pilot Ted Striker (Robert Hays) became traumatized after an incident during the "war", leading to his fear of flying and

his "drinking problem" (implying alcoholism, but specifically the "problem" refers to the fact that he misses his mouth every time).

Recovering his courage, Striker attempts to regain the love of his life from the war, Elaine Dickinson (Julie Hagerty),

now a stewardess. In order to win her love, Striker overcomes his fear and buys a ticket on a flight she is serving on, from

Los Angeles to Chicago. However, during the flight, Elaine rebuffs his attempts.

After dinner is served, many of the passengers fall ill, and fellow passenger Dr. Rumack (Leslie Nielsen) quickly realizes that one

of the meal options, which was fish, gave the passengers  food poisoning. The stewards discover that the pilot crew, including

pilot Clarence Oveur (Peter Graves) and co-pilot Roger Murdock (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), have all come down with food

poisoning, leaving no one aboard to fly the plane. Elaine informs the passengers that everything is fine. She then asks everyone

on the plane if anyone knows how to fly a plane. Elaine then contacts the Chicago control tower for help, and is instructed by

tower supervisor Steve McCroskey (Lloyd Bridges) to activate the plane's autopilot, a large blow-up doll named "Otto", which

will get them to Chicago but will not be able to land the plane. Elaine realizes that Striker, being the only pilot on board who has

not succumbed to food poisoning, is their only chance, and he is convinced to fly the plane, though he still feels his trauma will

prevent him from safely landing it.

McCroskey knows that he must get someone else to help take the plane down and calls Rex Kramer (Robert Stack). Striker and

Kramer served together in the war and must overcome their negative history. As the plane nears Chicago, Striker becomes

increasingly stressed and can only land the plane after a pep talk from Dr. Rumack. With Kramer's endless stream of advice,

Striker is able to overcome his fears and safely land the plane with only minor injuries to some passengers, and damage to the

landing gear. Striker's courage rekindles Elaine's love for him, and the two share a kiss while Otto takes off in the evacuated

plane after inflating a female companion.

Scene from Airplane, below is the parallel scene from Zero Hour

Another set of parallels as the replacement pilot and girlfriend are portrayed;

Alice Adams****1/2 1935




Another Hollywood homespun family drama. A wonderful timepiece that captures the imagination and takes a nostalgic journey

without sentimentalism. Katharine Hepburn plays the shy Alice Adams, who has dreams of marrying a class above herself.

Her performance is wonderful, as it, like many performances of the day, combines the intended qualities of the character,

along with the qualities of the actress herself. Alice is a chatty, imaginative, slightly precocious character, not unlike Jo from

Little Women (a role Hepburn played two years earlier). This made Hepburn's films highly entertaining, and also allowed her

to represent women in film. The theme of the heroic, opinionated woman, working against all odds in a "man's world" to attain

a degree of independence and respect was a very popular and common one. Bette Davis, Mirian Hopkins, and Myrna Loy

were but  a few of the actresses that attended to this theme. 

Fred McMurray (as Arthur Russell)  was a somewhat unlikely beau for Alice; rich, charming, handsome. It is not really 

demonstrated why he was so quickly infatuated with her but he shows great resolve in the courtship. Alice faces many

obstacles including her careless brother and awkward father, who lacks ambition, and is made well aware of it by his

wife. The film clearly depicts men as highly flawed, either weak, timid, selfish, greedy, noncommittal, arrogant and

only compromising if profit ensues. Alice is a heroine because she manages to keep her man, as well as managing to get

her father, his boss, and her brother, all in accordance despite their initial conflicts. 

Alice Adams (Katharine Hepburn) is the youngest daughter of the Adams family. Her father (Fred Stone) is an invalid who used to

work in Mr. Lamb's factory as a clerk. Her mother (Ann Shoemaker) is embittered by her husband's lack of ambition and upset by

 the snubs her daughter endures because of their poverty. Alice's older brother, Walter (Frank Albertson), is a gambler who cannot 

hold a job and who associates with African Americans (which, given the time period in which the film is set, is considered a major 

social embarrassment). As the film begins, Alice attends a dance given by the wealthy Henrietta Lamb (Janet McLeod). She has no

 date, and is escorted to the occasion by Walter. Alice is a social climber like her mother, and engages in socially inappropriate

 behavior and conversation in an attempt to impress others. At the dance, Alice meets wealthy Arthur Russell (Fred MacMurray),

 who is charmed by her despite her poverty.

Alice's father is employed as a clerk in a factory owned by Mr. Lamb (Charles Grapewin), who has kept Adams on salary for years

 despite his lengthy illness. Alice's mother nags her husband into quitting his job and pouring his life savings into a glue factory. Mr.

 Lamb ostracizes Mr. Adams from society, believing that Adams stole the glue formula from him. Alice is the subject of cruel town

 gossip, which Russell ignores.

Alice invites Russell to the Adams home for a fancy meal. She and her mother put on airs, the entire family dresses inappropriately

 in formal wear despite the hot summer night, and the Adams pretend that they eat caviar and fancy, rich-tasting food all the time.

 The dinner is ruined by the slovenly behavior and poor cooking skills of the maid the Adams have hired for the occasion, Malena

 (Hattie McDaniel). Mr. Adams unwittingly embarrasses Alice by exposing the many lies she has told Russell. When Walter shows

 up with bad financial news, Alice gently expels Russell from the house now that everything is "ruined".

Walter reveals that "a friend" has gambling debts, and that he stole $150 from Mr. Lamb to cover them. Mr. Adams decides to take

 out a loan against his new factory to save Walter from jail. Just then, Mr. Lamb appears at the Adams house. He accuses Adams

 of stealing the glue formula from him, and declares his intention to ruin Adams by building a glue factory directly across the street

 from the Adams plant. The men argue violently, but their friendship is saved when Alice confesses that her parents took the glue

formula only so she could have a better life and some social status. Lamb and Adams reconcile, and Lamb indicates he will no

 prosecute Walter. Alice wanders out onto the porch where Russell has been waiting for her. He confesses his love for her despite

 her poverty and family problems.


All About Eve***1/2   1950





For some reason, all a part of self-evaluation I guess, I had issues with this film the first few times that

I watched. But it did pass one very important test. Even if i didn't particularly want to watch it when it

appeared on my TV screen, I watched it through each time. Some sort of hypnotizing affect. 

This film had what i call the power of inclusion. What this means is that you become a character in the

film itself, which of course has a very powerful effect. The main interaction and conflict is between Margo

(Bette Davis) and Eve (Ann Baxter). It evolves from a simple mentoring relationship to one of conflict,

jealousy, manipulation and deceit. The great supporting cast are all witnessing this metamorphasis before 

their eyes and we join them in the experience. This creates a situation where we observe the motivations 

of these characters. We are not totally clear as to these motivations, which makes us delve into these

characters emotionally as we feel obliged to take sides. Addison de Witt, the perfect name for George

Sanders, is a character who finds the truth, which results in blackmail, but we are still not comfortable

with his purpose. Celeste Holm plays Karen, a friend of the protagonist, who seems to have nothing but 

the best of intentions, but a love triangle complicates matters. The other two supporting performers,

Margo's mate Bill (Gary Merrill) and the playwright, Lloyd (Hugh Marlowe) have their heads spinning with 

the web of mind games they are witnessing. Celeste Holm steals the show, as she often does (as she did in

High Society and The Tender Trap) and Thelma Ritter and Marilyn Monroe add perfect touches. Marilyn 

appearing at a social gathering stirs up jealousies and suspicions beyond what have already been implanted. 

The 1950 classic takes place on Broadway, where Margo Channing (Davis) is its biggest star. Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter) is her

 biggest fan. The young secretary and war widow is at every performance of Channing's play, often standing outside waiting for

 seats. Eve, always wearing the same trench coat and floppy hat, catches the attention of Margo's friend, Karen (Celeste Holm),

 who introduces Eve to her idol.

 Margo, a diva extraordinaire, is won over by Eve's appreciation and her emotional life story, which has 'everything but the hounds

 snapping at her rear end.' For Eve, being part of the creative process has always been with her. As a girl, she would play pretend,

 and 'the unreal seemed more real to me.' Margo offers Eve a place to stay and a job as her assistant, both of which a grateful

 Eve accepts.

 What starts as an ideal hire for Margo soon becomes tempestuous. Margo, the star on- and offstage, is convinced that her

 longtime boyfriend and director (Gary Merrill) has an interest in the much-younger Eve. Margo's jealousy begins a prolonged and

 subtle struggle: Margo, 40, is in the twilight of her career; Eve is 24, eager to please, and has more savvy than her background

 suggests. All that and she's caught the acting bug. This conflict gives writer/director Joseph L. Mankiewicz the opportunity to

 plumb the depths of Margo's emotions, as she confronts her mortality as an actress and as a woman. Davis gives a brilliant

 performance, alternately grand and introspective and always riveting.

 Mankiewicz doesn't just offer Davis a chance to let loose, which is why All About Eve is such a tasty, nasty film. Every character

 has an issue with Margo, who's been riding high for so long. Aside from Margo's mid-life crisis, we see how the appearance of the

 next bright starlet corrupts everyone -- from good friends like Karen to theater critic Addison DeWitt (Oscar winner George

 Sanders, who is phenomenal; he's like George Bernard Shaw crossed with Dr. Evil). As Eve becomes more successful -- she proves

 to be quite the actress -- we start seeing a different side of her, one that is remote from her aw-shucks introduction.

 Mankiewicz's script transitions to each segment so effortlessly, you never see the seams. From that, the motives, the barbed

 one-liners, and the conniving antics fall right into place. Screenwriting students, you have your Bible. Movie lovers, you have a

 film that is impervious to the rigors of time, not to mention an inspiration for every prime-time soap opera. And you'll finally

 get that quote right. It's all she knows.

 Many people know All About Eve from its famous (and often misquoted) line: 'Fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy

 night.' Guess what? There are a whole bunch of other lines in this superb movie which sound like the greatest hits of the

 Algonquin Round Table. You don't see movies that are so smart and so fun very often, but in this era of Larry the Cable Guy,

 what would be the point?

All Quiet on the Western Front****1/2   1930






The comment of beauty in simplicity definitely surfaces here. The theme couldn't be more simple. 

War is hell. This message is illustrated by the description of a German military unit that faces

impossible odds and is victimized by cruel leadership that has no intention of risking anything

personally. The film has two elements...firstly we see the soldiers gradually de-personalized

and effected by constant shelling, and secondly we see the decisions being made militarily that

are totally void of consideration for the soldiers. The society of the military becomes simplified 

and altered from real life. We see the school teacher using almost hypnotizing tactics to motivate

the young students, even though they have no idea of what war is, or why they are fighting. 

Himmelstoss, a man of no particular standing in society, becomes their commander, and uses this

sudden elevation in status to act with cruelty and arrogance. 

One scene which really drives home home the message powerfully is when the protagonists stabs a

French soldier, but ends up spending the night with him, and realizes that he is a man with loved ones

who is not in any way an enemy, but has only been arbitrarily labeled as such. The guilt is unbearable.

Another scene involves Paul Baumer arriving home on leave, fnding out that he is only viewed as a 

soldier, and a hero, but not human being, glamorized by a manufactured image of a soldier.

In terms of supporting characters, besides Himmelstoss, Katczinsky (Louis Wolheim) represents the

"new" hero. He finds ways to find food and create amusement with ingenuity and courage. War is a 

new game, so new rules and new standards ensue. 

  In 1914, a group of German teenagers volunteer for action on the Western Front. Paul Baumer is a sensitive youth, but is

 persuaded to join up by a war-mongering professor advocating glory for the Fatherland. Paul and his friends are trained under

 Himmelstoss, a kindly postmaster turned brutal corporal, and then sent to the front lines to taste battle, blood and death.

All Fall Down****1/2     1962





 Berry-Berry Willart (Beatty) is a young, handsome hedonistic drifter who hates life and who has no trouble living off the women of all ages he

 seduces. When the women become too attached to him, his charm turns sadistic and frequently lands him in jail for battery. Berry-Berry is

 always on the road far from home, is rarely seen by his drunken father Ralph (Karl Malden), his controlling, manipulative mother, Annabel

 (Angela Lansbury), and his sixteen-year-old brother Clinton (Brandon deWilde). The story follows Clinton, who idolizes Berry-Berry but soon

 finds out his brother's darker side during the many times he has to bail Berry-Berry out of jail. Clinton is in love with a family friend, Echo O'Brien

 (Saint), and is forced to realize the type of person his brother is when Berry-Berry tragically sets his sights on Echo.

One common aspect of any good and successful story, is that you have to have empathy with the main character regardless

of it's qualities. Berry, Berry (Warren Beatty) is a selfish and contemptable womanizer. We do not have any idea why he is 

this way, although we see certain issues with his parents. His father Karl Malden is a drunkard and seems capable only of 

silly, simple conversation. His mother is domineering, and sees Berry Berry as someone who never does wrong. This

is obviously a slight toward her husband. We also observe his brothers complete admiration (Brandon de Wilde), but

this does not seem to generate any sense of responsible behavior in Berry Berry. 

This is certainly a film of performance as Angela Lansbury and Karl Malden are both rivetting...but what really

decorates the film with colour are the portrayals of Echo O'Brien (Eva Marie Saint) and the schoolteacher (Barbara Baxley),

Echo is a family friend who is beautiful and intelligent. Berry berry's young brother has an intense crush on her, but she 

acknowledges him with the love of a sister. When Berry Berry returns home, a romance ensues with a tragic result.

The schoolteacher is beaten in a brutal emotional scene, in which Baxley shows tremendous emotional energy and


We see a family swallowed up by denial, and distorted values. A tragic ending asks the question, "Will they learn from 

a hallowing lesson?"


All the President's Men****   1976




Not only a great film, but an important one. The filmakers had a great responsibility...first to tell the

truth and secondly to live up to the expectations of telling a story about one of American history's biggest 

political events. 

The film had the potential to enlighten, as well as dramatize, with effectiveness, not needing

embellishment to enhance. 

The main ingredients that made the film fulfilling was firstly, the role of the Washington Post

in it's ability to balance it's obligation along with it's legal restrictions, and secondly the personal

agony and fear of each member of the team that set out to re-elect Richard Nixon, right down

to office staff who were only indirectly involved (but could be manipulated into suspicion). 

Publisher Ben Bradlee (Jason Robards) had to constantly monitor the Bernstein-Woodward 

investigation. he knew the incredible importance of the report, had to put trust in his reporters,

but also knew of the implications of slander and unproven statements. He expresses his position

as follows:

 Ben Bradlee: You know the results of the latest Gallup Poll? Half the country never even heard of the word Watergate. Nobody gives a shit.

 You guys are probably pretty tired, right? Well, you should be. Go on home, get a nice hot bath. Rest up... 15 minutes. Then get your asses back

 in gear. We're under a lot of pressure, you know, and you put us there. Nothing's riding on this except the, uh, first amendment to the Constitution,

 freedom of the press, and maybe the future of the country. Not that any of that matters, but if you guys fuck up again, I'm going to get mad.


Throughout the film, we see the scrutiny many so called innocent bystanders are under, and become aware of the fact that anyone with any

association whatever with any event or person, directly or indirectly involved, could be in serious jeopardy, for the simple fact that the "big guys"

have the money and power to protect themselves. 

Here is an example of what an office girl has to go through. Sally Aiken is played brilliantly by Penny Fuller.

 Sally Aiken: Ken Clawson told me he wrote the Canuck letter. 
 Carl Bernstein: The letter that said Muskie was slurring the Canadians. 
 Bob Woodward: Clawson. 
 Carl Bernstein: The deputy director of White House communications wrote the Canuck letter. When'd he tell you this? 
 Sally Aiken: When we were having drinks. 
 Carl Bernstein: Where were you? 
 Sally Aiken: My apartment. 
 Carl Bernstein: When did you say he told you? 
 Sally Aiken: Two weeks ago. 
 Carl Bernstein: What else did he say? He didn't say anything? Come on, you're hedging. 
 Bob Woodward: Do you think he said it to impress you, to try to get you to go to bed with him? 
 Carl Bernstein: Jesus! 
 Bob Woodward: No, I want to hear her say it. Do you think he said that to impress you, to try to get you to go to bed with him? 
 Carl Bernstein: Why did it take you two weeks to tell us this, Sally? 
 Sally Aiken: I guess I don't have the taste for the jugular you guys have. 

The follow up is as follows, 

 Ken Clawson: Please, listen, now, if you're going to refer to that alleged conversation with Sally Aiken, you can't print that it took

 place in her

 apartment. I have a wife and a family and a dog and a cat. 
 Ben Bradlee: A wife and a family and a dog and a cat. Right, Ken, right, yeah. Uh, Ken, I don't want to print that you were in

 Sally's apartment... 

 Ken Clawson: Thank God. 
 Ben Bradlee: I just want to know what you said, in Sally's apartment. 

We see the apprehension when the reporter's come to the house of Hugh Sloan Jr. (Sloan played by Stephen Collins, 

his wife played by Meredith Baxter). Hugh Sloan's wife is trying to protect him, but Hugh himself knows he is

in trouble and decides that honesty and transparency is now the best policy. 

 Debbie Sloan: This is an honest house. 

 Bob Woodward: That's why we'd like to see your husband. 
 Carl Bernstein: Facing certain criminal charges that might be brought against some people that are innocent, we just feel that it would be... 
 Bob Woodward: It's really for his benefit. 
 Debbie Sloan: No, it's not. 
 Bob Woodward: No, it's not. 

 Hugh Sloan Jr.: Debbie, tell them to come in. 

Other characters who best illustrated this incredible stress and apprehension were the bookkeeper (Jane Alexander),

Sharon Lyons (Penny Peyser), and Don Segretti (Robert Walden).   

Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford were almost unbelievably perfect in their roles, Hoffman, the more impulsive,

informal Bernstein, Redford, the more calculating and reserved Woodward.

Phenomenal film...an historic event within itself!

On June 1972, a security guard (Frank Wills, playing himself) at the Watergate complex finds a door kept unlocked with tape. The

police arrest burglars in the Democratic National Committee headquarters within the complex. The Washington Post assigns new

reporter Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) to the unimportant story.

Woodward learns that the five men—four Cuban Americans from Miami and James W. McCord, Jr.—had bugging equipment and

have their own "country club" attorney. McCord identifies himself in court as having recently left the Central Intelligence Agency,

and the others also have CIA ties. The reporter connects the burglars to E. Howard Hunt, formerly of the CIA, and President

Richard Nixon's Special Counsel Charles Colson.

Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman), also assigned to the story, and Woodward are reluctant partners but work well together.

Executive editor Ben Bradlee (Jason Robards) believes their work is incomplete, however, and not worthy of the Post's front page.

He encourages them to continue to gather information.

Woodward contacts "Deep Throat" (Hal Holbrook), a senior government official and anonymous source he has used before.

Communicating through copies of the Times and a balcony flower pot, they meet in a parking garage. Deep Throat speaks in

riddles and metaphors, but advises Woodward to "follow the money".

Woodward and Bernstein connect the burglars to thousands of dollars in diverted campaign contributions to Nixon's Committee to

Re-elect the President (CREEP). Their story appears on the front page, but not above the fold. Bradlee and others at the Post

dislike the two young reporters' reliance on unnamed sources like Deep Throat, and wonder why the Nixon administration would

break the law when the president is likely to easily defeat Democratic nominee George McGovern.

Through former CREEP treasurer Hugh W. Sloan, Jr. (Stephen Collins), Woodward and Bernstein connect a slush fund of hundreds

of thousands of dollars to White House Chief of  Staff H. R. Haldeman—"the second most important man in this country"—and

former Nixon Attorney General John N. Mitchell, now head of CREEP. They learn that CREEP used the fund to begin a "ratfucking"

campaign to sabotage Democratic presidential candidates a year before the Watergate burglary, when Nixon was behind Edmund Muskie

in the polls; Deep Throat implies that Muskie's loss in the primaries to McGovern, in part due to the Canuck letter, was what the

White House wanted.

Bradlee's demand for thoroughness forces the reporters to obtain other sources to confirm the Haldeman connection; when the

White House issues a non-denial denial of the Post's above-the-fold story, the editor thus continues to support them. Deep

Throat claims that the coverup was not to hide the burglaries but "covert operations" involving "the entire U.S. intelligence

community", and warns that Woodward, Bernstein, and others' lives are in danger. Bradlee urges the reporters to continue

despite the risk and Nixon's reelection. The film ends with a montage of Watergate-related teletype headlines from the following

years, ending with Nixon's resignation and the inauguration of Gerald Ford in August 1974.

Almost Famous****    2000





Writer and director Cameron Crowe's experiences as a teenage rock journalist -- he was a regular contributor to Rolling Stone while still in high school

 -- inspired this coming-of-age story about a 15-year-old boy hitting the road with an up-and-coming rock band in the early 1970s. Elaine Miller (Frances

 McDormand) is a bright, loving, but strict single parent whose distrust of rock music and fears about drug use have helped to drive a wedge

 between herself and her two children, Anita (Zooey Deschanel) and William (Patrick Fugit). Anita rebels by dropping out of school and becoming a stewardess,

 but William makes something of his love of rock & roll by writing album reviews for a local underground newspaper. William's work attracts the attention of

 Lester Bangs (Philip Seymour Hoffman), editor of renegade rock magazine Creem, who takes William under his wing and gives him his first professional

 writing assignment -- covering a Black Sabbath concert. While William is unable to score an interview with the headliners, the opening act, Stillwater, are more

 than happy to chat with a reporter, even if he's still too young to drive, and William's piece on the group in Creem gains him a new admirer in Ben Fong-Torres

 (Terry Chen), an editor at Rolling Stone. Torres offers William an assignment for a 3,000-word cover story on Stillwater, and over the objections of his mother 

 (whose parting words are "Don't use drugs!"), and after some stern advice from Bangs (who says under no circumstances should he become friends with a

 band he's covering), Williams joins Stillwater on tour, where he becomes friendly with guitarist Russell Hammond (Billy Crudup) and singer Jeff Bebe (Jason

 Lee). William also becomes enamored of Penny Lane (Kate Hudson), a groupie traveling with the band who is no older than William, but is deeply involved with

 Russell. Lester Bangs and Ben Fong-Torres, incidentally, were real-life rock writers Crowe worked with closely during his days as a journalist. Almost

 Famous' original score was composed by Nancy Wilson of Heart (who is also Crowe's wife). ~ Mark Deming, Rovi 

Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse, The***1/2     1938





Dr. Clitterhouse is a brilliant, well-respected Park Avenue physician who becomes obsessed with understanding the psychology of 

the criminal mind. He burgles the homes of four high society acquaintances, stealing high-end jewelry in order to gauge his own 

physiological reactions to the experience, which he finds exhilarating. On his fourth robbery he crosses paths with professional 

thieves and seeks out their leaders, Jo Keller, a woman fence, and Rocks Madison, a vicious sociopath. They form an unholy 

alliance: Clitterhouse masterminds the high-end robberies, which greatly increases the gang's take, while the Runtonesque thieves 

allow themselves to have their blood and vital signs monitored. Keller's growing attraction to Clitterhouse and the loyalty the gang 

shows him feeds Rock's growing resentment at being displaced, and his growing paranoia pushes him to try to commit the greatest 

crime of all, homicide. Written by duke1029@aol.com 


American Beauty****1/2   1999





 Poor, poor Lester. At age 42, he is stuck in a dead-end job, a meaningless marriage, and a love-less family. Every single day is

 just one more step towards the end of his life. He has nothing to look forward to besides his morning shower/jerk-off session.

 But his life takes a turnaround the moment he meets his daughter’s friend Angela (American Pie’s Mena Suvari). Seduced by her

 good looks, he decides to start living again. He starts doing what he wants to do, acting how he wants to act, and saying what

 he wants to say.

 That is only one of the intertwining plots in this enthralling dark-comedy. Other’s include Lester’s wife, Carolyn (Annette Bening),

 a career obsessed ice-queen; their daughter Jane who becomes the target of the creepy next-door neighbor who films her every

 move; the relationship between the creepy next door neighbor (Wes Bently) and his military father (Chris Cooper). This is one of

 those movies that is nearly impossible to describe, because one doesn’t want to spoil anything for the viewer.

 Performances are fantastic all around. Even when a character goes a little over-the-top they are still likable. Even the seemingly

 bloodless Carolyn. Spacey, Bening and Cooper all deserve Oscar nods. Thora Birch and Wes Bently are both very talented young

 actors, and Men Suvari gives a hilarious performance that is completely different from her role in this year’s other "American"

 film (the one about the pie).

 The first hour of this movie is hilarious, perhaps one of the funniest hours I’ve seen all year. From there the movie slowly slides

 from pitch black humor to emotionally complex drama. The transition is seamless. By the end of the movie you’ll be amazed

 that such a funny film could be so emotionally heart-felt. American Beauty never holds back but never feels the need to push the

 viewer into the realm of disturbia.

 One aspect of the movie I really liked was that, in the first few minutes we are delivered a line of information that stays with

 us all the way until the end when it is revealed. It’s a mystery that makes us think throughout the movie and may even taint

 our feelings about certain characters. It’s possible to hate a character during the movie all the way up to the final 5 minutes

 when we realize we were wrong about them the whole time. You’ll want to apologize to the characters.

 The movie made many good points, but an underlying theme was the concept of being normal. Trying extremely hard just to be

 normal, is anything except normal. But the people I saw the movie with came out with other ideas. I don’t think I’ve though so

 much during a movie all year and intellectual stimulation is one of the greatest gifts cinema can offer. Please see American

 Beauty. It’s an enormously entertaining picture that is worthy of all the buzz surrounding it.

One of the best films of the year.

Americanization of Emily, The****     1964

An intriguing and dark comedy, with startingly effective and realistic fictionalized scenes of D-Day. A 

very sophisticated political farce.




 LCDR Charlie Madison (James Garner), USNR, is a cynical and highly efficient adjutant to RADM William Jessup (Melvyn Douglas)

 in London. Madison's job as a dog robber is to keep his boss and other high-ranking officers supplied with luxury goods and

 amiable Englishwomen. He falls in love with a driver from the motor pool, Emily Barham (Julie Andrews), who has lost her

 husband, brother, and father in the war. Madison's sybaritic, "American" lifestyle amid wartime scarcity both fascinates and

 disgusts Emily, but she does not want to lose another loved one to war and finds the "practicing coward" Madison irresistible.

 Under stress since the death of his wife, Jessup obsesses over the Army and its Air Corps overshadowing the Navy in the

 forthcoming D-Day invasion. The mentally unstable admiral decides that "The first dead man on Omaha Beach must be a sailor."

 A film will document the death, and the casualty will be buried in a "Tomb of the Unknown Sailor." Despite his best efforts to

 avoid the duty, Madison and his gung-ho friend, LCDR "Bus" Cummings (James Coburn), find themselves and a film crew with

 the combat engineers who will be the first on shore. When Madison tries to retreat to safety, Cummings forces him forward with

 a pistol. A German shell lands near Madison, making him the first American to die on Omaha Beach. Hundreds of newspaper and

 magazine covers reprint a photograph of Madison on the shore, making him a martyr. Jessup, having recovered from his

 breakdown, regrets his part in Madison's death but plans to use it in support of the Navy when testifying before a

 Senate committee in Washington. Losing another man she loves to the war devastates Emily. Then comes unexpected news:

 Madison is not dead, but alive and well in an English hospital. A relieved Jessup now plans to show him during the Senate

 testimony as the heroic "first man on Omaha Beach". Madison, angry about his senseless near-death, uncharacteristically plans

 to act nobly by telling the world the truth of what happened on the beach, even if it means being imprisoned for cowardice.

 Emily convinces him to instead choose happiness with her by keeping quiet and accepting his heroic role.

American President, The***   1995  




 How does the widowed leader of the free world balance his many obligations to his country with the ordinary demands and

 everyday rites of courtship? When President Andrew Shepherd, quite unexpectedly, falls in love with Sydney Wade, an

 environmental lobbyist, he must overcome obstacles not faced by average citizens; he must worry that the public's right to

 know will collide with the desire for personal privacy. He must contend with approval ratings, an inquiring press and an

 aggressive political opponent just to go on a date. The President's advisors, chief of staff, domestic policy advisor, White

 House pollster and press secretary help him get through his busy schedule, deal with demands of congress and quell any global

 predicaments. But political crises are different than personal ones and somehow the American President alone must find a way

 to balance his love for his country with his love for an incredible woman.

American Tragedy, An***     1931





 Though his parents are street evangelists, Clyde Griffiths (Phillips Holmesgrows up in squalor, but not without ambitions. He

 first works as a bellhop in Kansas City, but when he's the passenger in a car that kills a little girl, Clyde fears he'll be arrested

 and flees town. His wealthy uncle Samuel Griffiths (Frederick Burton) gets Clyde a job at a shirt factory in upstate New York

 where the young man soon becomes foreman of a department that employs only young women. He is attracted to Roberta Alden

 (Sylvia Sidney), known as "Bert," and though company policy forbids them to fraternize, they begin secretly dating on weekends.

 Eventually, Clyde seduces the smitten Bert,even though he has already become attracted to Sondra Finchley (Frances Dee),

 the daughter of a wealthy family. Clyde and Sondra fall in love, and she promises to marry him when she's of age, but by now,

 Bert has informed Clyde that she is pregnant. With vague thoughts of drowning her in mind, Clyde takes Bert on a vacation in

 the Adirondacks. While canoeing, he decides not to kill her, but to honorably marry her instead. He reveals to Bert what he'd

 planned, and in shock, she accidentally falls overboard. However, instead of rescuing her, Clyde swims to shore, and Bert drowns.

 Eventually, the police track him down and he is arrested, resulting in a trial that gains national attention. ~ Bill Warren,

All Movie Guide 

Anatomy of a Murder*****    1959 





 Based on the best-selling novel by Robert Traver (the pseudonym for Michigan Supreme Court justice John D. Voelker), Anatomy of a

 Murder stars James Stewart as seat-of-the-pants Michigan lawyer Paul Biegler. Through the intervention of his alcoholic mentor,

 Parnell McCarthy (Arthur O'Connell), Biegler accepts the case of one Lt. Manion (Ben Gazzara), an unlovable lout who has murdered

 a local bar owner. Manion admits that he committed the crime, citing as his motive the victim's rape of the alluring Mrs. Manion

 (Lee Remick). Faced with the formidable opposition of big-city prosecutor Claude Dancer (George C. Scott), Biegler hopes to win

 freedom for his client by using as his defense the argument of "irresistible impulse." Also featured in the cast is Eve Arden as

 Biegler's sardonic secretary, Katherine Grant as the woman who inherits the dead man's business, and Joseph N. Welch -- who in real

 life was the defense attorney in the Army-McCarthy hearings -- as the ever-patient judge. The progressive-jazz musical score is

 provided by Duke Ellington, who also appears in a brief scene. Producer/director Otto Preminger once more pushed the envelope in

 Anatomy of a Murder by utilizing technical terminology referring to sexual penetration, which up until 1959 was a cinematic no-no.

 Contrary to popular belief, Preminger was not merely being faithful to the novel; most of the banter about "panties" and "semen,"

 not to mention the 11-hour courtroom revelation, was invented for the film. Anatomy of a Murder was filmed on location in Michigan's

 Upper Peninsula. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Andy Hardy Series


    Andy Hardy's Double Life***1/2   1942




 This particular Andy Hardy film was not on my favorite list originally but on another viewing, a few things

 impressed me. Firstly the James Hardy character (Lewis Stone) was stretched a bit further, and the 'man

 to man' chat between Andy and himself actually had preceptive and strong dramatic overtones. 

 Scondly the legal case that James Hardy was involved in was touching and utilized other characters

 fittingly, which also shed light a deeper light on the Judge. Thirdly the romantic 'fun' of Andy, was even

 a bit provocative, as Esther Williams was surprisingly sexy and naughty. 

 Incredible as it may seem, rambunctious 18-year-old Andy Hardy (Mickey Rooney) finally makes it to college in Andy Hardy's

 Double Life. Just as he did at Carvel High School, Andy majors in "girls" at college, at one point finding himself engaged

 simultaneously to two different coeds. On a more serious note, Andy has his first major row with his father Judge Hardy

 (Lewis_Stone) over such vital matters as money and poor grades. But in keeping with the "honor thy parents" edicts of MGM 

 head-man Louis_B._Mayer, the plot manages to reunite father and son in the final footage, with Andy respectfully bowing to the

 wisdom of the good grey judge. Much of Andy Hardy's Double Life is a showcase for MGM's new swimming star Esther_Williams,

 as cute as all get out in a two-piece bathing suit. Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Andy Hardy Meets Debutante***1/2   1940




 Judge Hardy takes his family to New York City, where he has to appear in court against a law firm that is disputing payments

 from a trust fund that supports an orphanageIn Carvel, Andy had bragged about knowing a socialite, but he hasn't actually

 met her. In New York, he manages to do so, thanks to a friend. But he finds the high society life too expensive, and eventually 

 decides that he liked it better back home.

    Love Finds Andy Hardy***1/2  1938




 Christmas vacation finds Andy Hardy involved in his usual combination of financial scheming and romantic troubles. The

 situation is especially complicated this time, as he finds himself involved with no fewer than three young women: Steady

 girlfriend Polly Benedict; his buddy's girlfriend Cynthia Potter (Lana Turner); and next door visitor Betsy Booth (Judy Garland).

    Life Begins For Andy Hardy***1/2   1941




 With high school behind him, Andy Hardy (Mickey Rooney) decides that as an adult, it's time to start living his life. Judge Hardy

 (Lewis Stone) had hoped that his son would go to college and study law, but Andy isn't sure that's what he wants to do so he

 heads off to New York City to find a job. Too proud to accept financial help from his longtime friend Betsy Booth (Judy Garland),

 he at least lets her drive him to the city. Andy soon meets there another young man who has just been fired as "office boy" at

 a midtown firm. When Andy rushes there unannounced to apply for the vacancy, Betsy runs out of gasoline after patiently

 circling the congested streets for hours waiting for him to come out afterwards. Andy lands the job, and even gets to repeatedly

 date the office receptionist, a more worldly woman who with the office staff are amused at his naivete and sometimes 

 clumsiness. He learns that daily expenses, including gifts and dates for his new girlfriend, quickly add up as well as mourning

 over the death of his new friend who commits suicide. Andy is nearly fired after, due to drowsiness, he mixes up two outgoing

 letters in the office mail. Although ashamed to let his parents know of his difficulties, they hear of his circumstances from

 Betsy, and his father goes to bring him home. After facing these several lessons of life, Andy concludes that he may still

 have some growing up to do.

    You're Only Young Once***   1937





The Hardy family goes to 
Catalina for a two week vacation, where Judge Hardy tries to catch a swordfish, Marian falls in love with
 a married lawyer/lifeguard, and Andy goes around with a "sophisticated" girl. They return home to Carvel to find that by having
 endorsed a note for Frank Redmond, Judge Hardy has lost all their property to Hoyt Wells. Luckily, through an old law that Judge
 Hardy learned about while fishing with Capt. Swenson, their home is saved and Hoyt Wells is run out of town.

Anna Christie****   1931




 Old sailor Chris Christofferson eagerly awaits the arrival of his grown daughter Anna, whom he sent at five years old to live with

 relatives in Minnesota. He has not seen her since, but believes her to be a decent and respectably employed young woman. When

 Anna arrives, however, it is clear that she has lived a hard life in the dregs of society, and that much of spirit has been extinguished.

 She falls in love with a young sailor rescued at sea by her father, but dreads to reveal to him the truth of her past. Both father and

 young man are deluded about her background, yet Anna cannot quite bring herself to allow them to remain deluded.

Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Anne of Green Gables**** 1934





At the turn of the century, Ann Shirley, a precocious, tempermental, red-headed orphan, is sent from an asylum in Nova Scotia

 to Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert's farm, Green Gables, on Prince Edward Island. Although her quiet brother Matthew takes an

 immediate liking to the imaginative Anne, stoic Marilla Cuthbert, who had "ordered" a boy, resists her charms and threatens

 repeatedly to return her to the orphanage. Gradually, however, Anne wins over Marilla and earns a permanent place at Green

 Gables. Although Anne curses the brightness of her red hair, Gilbert Blythe, a handsome schoolmate, admires it shamelessly during

 class, and his attentions both please and confuse Anne. From her best friend, Diana Barry, Anne learns that years before, Gilbert's

 father ran off with Matthew's fiancée, and that since that incident, the entire Blythe family has been condemned by Marilla. After a

 tempestuous start, the forbidden love affair between Anne and Gilbert blossoms, but as soon as Marilla learns of it, she orders the

 teenagers to stop seeing each other. Despondent, Gilbert leaves town and Anne is sent off to normal school. Years later, Anne is

 visited by Diana, who divulges the fact that Matthew is seriously ill with heart trouble. Anne rushes home and finds out that because

 of her education costs, the Cuthberts cannot afford a medical specialist. Knowing that Gilbert is studying with the specialist whom

 Matthew needs, Anne goes to see him and begs his help.

 As a favor to Gilbert, the specialist agrees to treat Matthew, and Marilla, grateful for Gilbert's aid, at last gives in and blesses the

 young couple.


Anthony Adverse*****   1936

 A great drama of the Napoleonic period. Frederick March (as Adverse) is a well documented

 chararacter who faces a moral dilemma when given the responsibility of recovering money from

 the debtors of his employer, some of whom are invovlved in slave trading. His antagonist is the

 nasty Marquis Don Luis (Claude Rains), who is accompanied by the scheming seductress

 Faith Palologus (Gale Sondergaard) who steals many scenes with her menacing smile and cunning.






 The plot of the epic costume drama follows the globe-trotting adventures of the title character, the illegitimate offspring of Maria

 Bonnyfeather, the wife of the cruel and devious middle-aged nobleman Marquis Don Luis, and Denis Moore. When he learns of his

 wife's affair, Don Luis challenges her lover to a duel. Denis is killed, and shortly thereafter Maria dies in childbirth. Don Luis leaves

 the infant at a convent, where the nuns christen him Anthony, and lie to wealthy merchant John Bonnyfeather, Maria's father, telling

 him that the infant is also dead. Ten years later, completely by coincidence, the child is apprenticed to Bonnyfeather, his real

 grandfather, who discovers his relationship to the boy but keeps it a secret from him. He gives the boy the surname Adverse in

 acknowledgement of the difficult life he has led.

 As an adult, Anthony falls in love with Angela Giuseppe, the cook's daughter, and the couple wed. Soon after the ceremony, Anthony

 departs for Havana to save Bonnyfeather's fortune. The note Angela leaves Anthony is blown away and he is unaware that she has

 gone to another city. Instead, assuming he has abandoned her, she pursues a career as an opera singer. Anthony leaves Cuba

for Africa, where he becomes corrupted by his involvement with the slave trade. He is redeemed by his friendship with Brother

 François, and following the friar's death he returns to Italy to find Bonnyfeather has died and his housekeeper, Faith Paleologus

 (now married to Don Luis), will inherit the man's estate fortune unless Anthony goes to Paris to claim his inheritance. In Paris,

 Anthony is reunited with his friend, prominent banker Vincent Nolte, whom he saves from bankruptcy by giving him his fortune.

 Through the intercession of impressario Debrulle, Anthony finds Angela and discovers she bore him a son. She fails to reveal she is

 Mlle. Georges, a famous opera star and the mistress of Napoleon Bonaparte. When Anthony learns her secret, he departs for America with his son in search of a better life.

Apartment, The*****   1960






 Earlier in the year, a movie about a mall security guard chasing down a pervert came out to the mixed reactions of people shouting

 “genius!” from the back row and others shouting obscenities from somewhere near the middle. Observe and Report is the natural 

 heir to a new lineage of dramatic comedies that has sprouted in the past decade (much to the horror of film marketers who

 have only two presets). The movement of comedic dramas or dramatic comedies has been a strong one, especially for audiences that

 got tired of the strict separation of the two that took place in the 1990s – sprinkled with a healthy dose of romantic comedies that 

 required a box of tissues. Much like the great prognosticator of trends that he always was, Billy Wilder drew from the past and

 anticipated the future by creating a hilarious movie that also happens to deal realistically with infidelity, occupational depression,

 and suicide. Funny. Jack Lemmon stars as C.C. Baxter , a middling executive who endears himself to his higher-ups by

 letting them use his apartment for their extra-marital activities. This puts him on the fast track to promotion (no matter how

 sniveling he is) and gives him a reputation with his neighbors as a man who brings home a new girl almost every night. One of those

 higher-ups is Jeff Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray) who acts as a smarmy, passive-aggressive forerunner to Bill Lumbergh and manages to

 drive a young girl to suicide. During Christmas. Then doesn’t bother to even talk to her over the phone. That young woman happens

 to be Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine), the only girl that C.C. has seemed to take a shine to. Luckily, he’ll be seeing a lot more of her.

As with any movie about sexual politics, there is a delicate balance that has to be struck. Fran has to be naive and obsessed with her

 boss/lover but not too insane. C.C. has to seem like a nice guy, but not so weak that he can’t make a stand when he needs to. As a

 boss, Sheldrake just needs to see his affair like those tissues the women use at romantic comedies – something easily disposable to

 leave wet and used and left in the trash can of your buddy’s apartment. The balance of it all comes in a dangerous proposition: that

 you can’t really show any of that, except for C.C.’s character development, on screen. Fortunately, in his genius, Wilder takes the

 narrow path and leaves the sex off camera, choosing instead to focus it completely on both the budding love affair between C.C. and

 Fran and the utter devastation she feels when the man who’s using her grows tired of her. This all provides a lot of comedic fodder,

 but when all of that boils away, the tension is reduced to an ethical question of whether C.C. will continue his path up the corporate

 ladder or fight for a woman who, honestly, he’s just now getting to know (and who has a sordid very-recent past). The mastery of

 storytelling here is that it’s a complex emotional tale that’s given its due. With so many stock comedies today weaving together a

 feel-good plot and tacking on a schmaltzy faux-heartening lesson at the end (even if it is learned while laughing), it’s good to see that

 there are some movies that are brave enough to blend the comedic with the dramatic and do so with some degree of skill. They have

 many films to thank, definitely, but one of them has to be The Apartment. It’s brave and frustrating in the way most matters of the

 heart are, but it also allows for the natural humor of a dark situation to emerge and leave everyone watching in stitches.

 The beauty here is that once you’re rolling in the aisles, The Apartment hits you right in the gut and reminds you that you watched a

 girl try to kill herself and a man try to escape from the thumb of corporate bribery. Shame on you for laughing (but that was pretty

 funny, wasn’t it?).

 This movie is a perfect candidate for this column because it seems modern even by today’s standards. In fact, modern audiences

 might actually find themselves a little shocked by some of the subject matter and how bluntly it’s dealt with. Who knows. With a good

 enough HD transfer, people might mistake this for a ballsy new release. Probably not, but even so, it’s a movie that demands to be

 sought out by anyone who loves comedy, who loves drama, and who wants to pay their respects to the forerunners of the modern

 movement in dramadies.

Apollo 13****     1995





 The scene cuts to the big city and to the days when everyone seemed to wear a hat and puff unfiltered Camels. Crowds of Americans

 are gathered in Times Square watching a floating marquee spell out the news of some impending crisis. That's how some Americans

 got the word about the trouble facing NASA's Apollo 13 on the evening of April 13, 1970. Twenty-five years have gone by. But interest

 in Apollo 13 is higher than ever thanks, in part, to a new film directed by Ron Howard. The film stars Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon and

 Bill Paxton as Astronauts Jim Lovell, Fred Haise, and Jack Swigert. The film is expected to have special meaning for Huntsville

 residents. The Marshall Center was responsible for providing the Saturn V launch vehicles for all of the Apollo missions. The crisis

 aboard Apollo 13 had nothing to do with the Saturn V launch vehicle. However, some employees at the Center served as consultants

 to the boards that investigated Apollo 13. One of those employees was Marshall's Robert Schwinghamer. He and others were

 summoned to Houston where they stayed several weeks conducting tests and other data. Schwinghamer and his group focused on

 tests involving liquid and gaseous oxygen. He said some of the lessons learned were later applied to the development of the wiring

 for the Space Shuttle External Tank. Aside from being involved in the technical investigations into the cause of the accident,

 Schwinghamer also remembers the feelings that NASA employees shared during the week that Apollo 13 was in danger. "Despair was

 not evident," he said. "It was a challenging engineering problem," he added, but one "in which  human lives were at stake." Howard's

 film about Apollo 13 is also expected to have additional meaning for Huntsville. Howard, Tom Hanks and other cast members made

 an unpublicized visit  to Huntsville last year to learn more about space exploration and to orient themselves for the film production.

 The group visited the United States Space and Rocket Center and the Marshall Center. Marshall Protocol Officer Sandra Turner

 conducted the MSFC tour and arranged for briefings by Marshall employees. "The visitors were all just as down to earth as they could

 be," Turner  said, adding that Hanks loved to crack jokes.

 The group visited the Marshall Test Area, the Neutral Buoyancy Simulator and other sites. Along with Turner, Rodney Grubbs, Motion

 Picture Production specialist for the Marshall Center's Information Systems Services office was cited in the credits of the film. Grubbs

 assisted the film's editors by helping them determine the possible  use of NASA's original film footage for the launch sequence.

 The real Apollo 13 mission was, said Commander James Lovell, "strictly a case of survival." Apollo 13 was launched at 1:13 p.m. CST

 April 11 at Cape Kennedy -- a perfect launch under slightly cloudy skies. About 2 1/2 hours after launch, the spacecraft was placed on

 a path to the moon and, as the crew trained its television cameras, the command/service module was separated, turned and docked.

 The astronauts began taking photos and doing housekeeping chores. The mission was going faultlessly. Astronaut Fred Haise played

 the Marine Corps hymn on a small tape recorder in the spacecraft. The morning of the second day of the flight found the astronauts

 swapping off for long 10-hour rest periods. Mission Control went into a phase of what it called quiet planning. Astronaut Jack Swigert

 joked about forgetting to file his income tax. Commander Jim Lovell ate a hot dog. On Monday morning, Mission Control was

 predicting that Apollo 13 would enter the moon's influence the following day, Tuesday on schedule--with the landing to follow the

 next day. At about that time, the spacecraft was on such a good trajectory to the moon that a mid- course correction was eliminated.

 Monday evening, now in their third full day in space, the astronauts -- in a television broadcast -- showed millions of viewers some of 

 the electronic equipment in the spacecraft. But about 9 p.m. that evening -- Monday evening -- trouble developed. There was a thump

 in the service module behind the astronauts. An oxygen tank had ruptured. Pressure dropped alarmingly.

 "Thirteen minutes after the explosion, I happened to look out of the left-hand window, and saw the final evidence pointing toward

 potential catastrophe," Lovell later recalled. "It was a gas -- oxygen -- escaping at a high rate from our second, and last, oxygen

 tank." Mission Control canceled the lunar landing and rushed plans to bring the spacecraft back to earth as soon as possible.

 It was decided that the swiftest and easiest method would be to have Apollo 13 continue to the moon, swing around it and return to

 earth and try for a landing in the Pacific Ocean. Meanwhile, on the ground at Mission Control, Chris Kraft, deputy director of the

 Manned Spacecraft Center, was expressing assurance that there was enough oxygen, water and power to return the three astronauts

 safely to earth. Now about 215,000 miles from earth, a make-shift plan was devised. The astronauts would move into the lunar

 module and use its life support systems after they had powered down the command module. "With only 15 minutes of power left in

 the CM, CapCom told us to make our way into the LM," Lovell said. "There were many, many things to do. In the first place, did we

have enough consumables to get home?" Tuesday evening, the spacecraft looped around the moon and then completed a 30 second

 burn of the lunar module's descent engine. Now on the way home, the astronauts turned down some systems on the lunar module to

 conserve power and the men resumed regular but shorter rest periods. "We would have died of the exhaust from our own lungs if

 Mission Control hadn't come up with a marvelous fix," Lovell said. Using spare parts and spacecraft canisters, the astronauts

 improvised a method to reduce the carbon dioxide concentration in the spacecraft. Mission Control verified again that the crew 

 would have enough water, oxygen and power to last the remainder of the abbreviated mission. But conditions inside the Lunar Module

 were awful. "The trip was marked by discomfort beyond the lack of food and water," said Lovell, who lost 14 pounds of body weight

 during the mission. "Sleep was almost impossible because of the cold. When we turned off electrical systems, we lost our source of

 heat, and the Sun streaming in the windows didn't help much. We were as cold as frogs in a frozen pool," Lovell said. On Wednesday

 evening, Apollo 13 underwent another mid-course correction -- again a burn of the lunar module's descent engine -- and refined its

 trajectory toward the Pacific splashdown point. By Friday morning, discussion had turned to entry angles and the weather in the

 splashdown area. The Iwo Jima, the recovery ship, was on station. After a final mid-course correction Friday morning, hours before

 splashdown, the astronauts jettisoned the service module and the lunar module, Aquarius, which had served as their life boat since

 the trouble on Monday evening. The astronauts entered the command module and prepared for their return home. "We found the CM

 a cold, clammy tin can when we started to power up. The walls, ceilings, floor, wire harnesses, and panels were all covered with

 droplets of water. We suspected conditions were the same behind the panels," Lovell recalled. The chances for short circuits and fire

 were great. Fortunately no arcing took place and hours later the crew splashed down gently in the Pacific Ocean near Samoa. It was

 "a beautiful landing in a blue-ink ocean on a lovely, lovely planet, " Lovell said. Apollo 13 captured America's attention. Lovell,

 Swigert, and Haise were greeted by the President and parades following their return. "We never dreamed a billion people were

 following us on television and radio, and reading about us in banner headlines of every newspaper published."

 Interest in amazing but true stories like Apollo 13 will always be popular in America. And, Ron Howard's version of Apollo 13 will

 make the real story even more popular. In addition, many who see the film, and others who may not, can download text, still images,

 video and sound on Apollo 13 from the World Wide Web. The address is


 (Portions of the above article were adapted from The Marshall Star of April 22, 1970; "Houston, We've Had a Problem," in NASA's

 "Apollo Expeditions to the Moon," edited by Edgar M. Cortright; 

 and from other NASA sources.) 

Arlington Road 1999 




Michael Faraday is a recently widowed college history professor living alone with his ten-year-old son Grant in the suburbs of 

Washington, DC. The death of Michael's wife Leah, an FBI agent killed in the line of duty, continues to haunt both father and son.

Michael and Grant are soon befriended by the Langs, a vivacious, All-American family new to the neighborhood. The parents, Oliver

and Cheryl Lang, go out of their way to draw Michael into their lives. Soon, Grant and young Brody Lang become inseparable friends.

The Faradays' long period of mourning seems finally to be over. As the two families become closer, Michael begins to have

misgivings about the gregarious Oliver. After catching Oliver in a few insignificant lies, the more Michael learns about Oliver, the

more his uneasiness grows. With Grant spending more and more time at the Langs, Michael decides to check into the background

of his neighbors. What he discovers deepens the mystery, arousing suspicions that shake Michael to the core of his existence. The

Langs are definitely not who they claim to be; but who are they? Why have they come to Washington, DC? Written by PFE publicity 


Asphalt Jungle, The****   1950




When police track hoodlum and ex-convict Dix Handley to a café, Dix's friend, the owner, Gus Minissi, saves him from arrest by hiding

 his gun. Police Commissioner Hardy reprimands Lt. Ditrich for failing to catch Dix, whom they know has committed the crime, but,

 not realizing that Ditrich is a crooked cop, gives him one more chance by assigning him the task of trailing recently released

 convict Doc Erwin Reidenshneider. Meanwhile, Doc visits Cobby, a gambling bookie, with a proposition to make half a million dollars

 in return for a fifty thousand dollar loan from Cobby's contact, wealthy but corrupt lawyer Alonzo D. Emmerich. Later, Doll Conovan,

 a beautiful but lonely waitress, visits Dix and asks if she can stay with him for a few days, and Dix brusquely agrees. That night,

 Doc impresses Emmerich with his plan for a massive jewelry store robbery, and after closing the bargain by offering to act as both

 backer and bagman, Emmerich runs to his mistress, the young and gorgeous Angela Phinlay. The next morning before he leaves to

 meet Cobby, Dix talks with Doll about his past on his family's Kentucky farm and how much he longs to go back. At Cobby's, he meets

 Doc, who has heard that Emmerich has gone bankrupt spending all his money on Angela. At the same time, Emmerich admits to his

 private detective, Bob Brannom, that he is broke, prompting them to plan together to swindle Doc out of the stolen jewels. Emmerich

 asks Cobby to advance him the fifty thousand dollars, and on the night of the crime, manages to pull himself away from his lonely

 wife May to meet Brannom. Meanwhile, Doc, Dix, safe cracker Louis Ciavelli and driver Gus rob the store expertly, but when a

 watchman happens by, Dix hits him and fires his gun accidentally, wounding Louis. Gus, afraid to take Louis to a doctor, delivers him

 to his home, where his wife Maria cries helplessly watching him die. Dix and Doc go to Emmerich's as planned and realize he is

 trying to cheat them when Brannom pulls out his gun. Brannom and Dix end up shooting each other, and as Brannom dies, Doc advises

 a terrified Emmerich to ask the insurance company to pay for the return of the jewels, no questions asked, or else Dix will kill him.

 Soon after, Emmerich dumps Brannom in the river, and Dix and Doc escape to Doll's new apartment, where Dix refuses to see a

 doctor, though he is bleeding. Soon, the police find Brannom's body with a piece of Emmerich's stationery in his pocket, and though

 Emmerich uses Angela as his alibi, his story is quickly destroyed when a taxi driver tells Hardy that he once dropped Doc off at

 Cobby's, and Cobby confesses the whole scheme. Hardy then pushes a willing Angela to tell the truth about Emmerich, who

 immediately shoots himself. After Doc hears about the suicide, he says goodbye to Dix and leaves town. By lingering at a café 

 outside of the city in order to leer at a young girl dancing, however, Doc gives the police just enough time to catch him. Meanwhile,

 the weakening Dix agrees to let Doll escape with him to Kentucky, barely making it to his family farm. As he dies in the pasture,

 Hardy speaks to the press about the pervasiveness of crime in the urban jungle.

Atonement****1/2   2007





 In 1935, Briony Tallis (Saoirse Ronan), a 13-year-old girl from a wealthy English family, has just finished writing a play. As Briony

 attempts to stage the play with her cousins, they get bored and decide to go swimming. Briony stays behind and witnesses a

 significant moment of sexual tension between her older sister, Cecilia (Keira Knightley), and Robbie Turner (James McAvoy), a man

 Briony has a childish crush on. Robbie returns home and writes several drafts of letters to Cecilia, including one, explicit and

 erotically charged. He does not, however, intend to send it and sets it aside. On his way to join the Tallis family celebration, Robbie

 asks Briony to deliver his letter, only to later realise that he has mistakenly given her the prurient one. Briony secretly reads the

 letter and becomes still more suspicious of Robbie's intentions.

 That evening, Cecilia and Robbie meet in the library, where they spontaneously have sex. During the act, Briony walks in on the

 couple and mistakenly believes that Robbie is raping her sister. At dinner it is revealed that the twin cousins have run away. Briony

 goes off alone into the woods looking for them and stumbles upon a man running away from apparently raping her teenaged cousin

 Lola. Lola claims that she does not know the identity of her attacker, but Briony is certain that it was Robbie, and tells everyone this,

 including the police, claiming she saw Robbie commit the act. She shows the shocking letter to her mother. Everyone believes her

 story – except for Cecilia. Robbie is arrested and sent to prison.

 Four years later, in 1939, Robbie is released from prison on condition that he join the British Army. He is assigned to A Company,

 1st Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment. He is reunited with Cecilia in London, where they renew their love before he is shipped off to

 the French front. Briony (Romola Garai), now 18, has joined Cecilia's old nursing corps at St. Thomas's in London. Her attempts

 at contacting her sister go unanswered, as Cecilia blames her for Robbie's imprisonment. Later, Robbie, wounded and very ill, finally

 arrives at the beaches of Dunkirk, where he waits to be evacuated. Briony, now fully understanding the impact of her accusation,

 later visits Cecilia to apologize to her directly; Cecilia coldly replies that she will never forgive her. Robbie, in a rage that almost

 becomes physical, confronts Briony and demands that she immediately tell her family and the authorities the truth. Briony reveals

 that the rapist was actually family friend Paul Marshall (Benedict Cumberbatch), who was an adult at the time of the rape, and that

 he cannot be implicated in a court of law because he has married Lola. Decades later, an elderly Briony (Vanessa Redgrave) reveals in

 an interview that she is dying of vascular dementia, and that her novel, Atonement, which she has been working on for most of her

 adult life, will be her last. Briony reveals that the book's ending where she apologized to Cecilia and Robbie is fictional. In reality,

 Robbie actually died at Dunkirk of septicemia while awaiting evacuation, and that Cecilia died a few months later as one of the

 65 flood victims in the Balham tube station of the London Underground during The Blitz. Briony hopes that, by reuniting them in

 fiction, she can give them the happy conclusion to their lives that they have always deserved.

Awful Truth, The****    1937


This great film actually started off a bit slowly, and rather bromidically. The script lacked intensity.
It seems that when Joyce Compton performs, hilariously, Gone With the Wind, that things
decidedly pick up.
In the second half, Irene Dunne's comic skills take over the film, and her performance ranks 
with that of Katharine Hepburn in Bringing up Baby. Her uncanny ability to combine warmth
and seductiveness is captivating. The final scene in the cabin gives us Dunne (Lucy) at her
best as she works her way around a very naughty dialogue, which enables her to wrap Cary
Grant, as Jerry, around her little finger. He is forced to demonstrate humility, a characteristic
he seemed unable to show previously.

 Jerry and Lucy Warriner lead madcap screwball high society lives in New York City. Despite being very happy, they start to doubt
 each other's fidelity. Finally they decide to divorce. Lucy wins custody of the dog but Jerry secures visitation rights. Before their
 divorce is final they both become engaged to other people. She meets Dan Leeson, a rich but boring Oklahoma oil man who travels
 with his mother. Jerry courts Barbara Vance,debutante and heiress. Each does their best to foil the other's plans, with hilarious
 results. Written by Gary Jackson <garyjack5@cogeco.ca> 



Ball of Fire***1/2   1941





 At the Daniel S. Totten Foundation in New York, Bertram Potts, a somber, dedicated linguistics professor, oversees the writing of an

 encyclopedia, on which he and his eight uniquely qualified colleagues have been toiling for nine years. When their financial backer,

 Miss Totten, drops by the foundation and threatens to withdraw her support, Bertram is prodded by the others to flirt with her.

 Charmed by Bertram's flattery, Miss Totten changes her mind, agreeing to back the encyclopedia to its completion. Soon after, a

 garbage man appears in the foundation's library and asks the professors for help on some radio quiz show questions. Intrigued by the

 garbage man's picturesque slang, Bertram declares that his section on slang is already outdated and requires further research.

 Bertram then takes to the streets, where he eavesdrops on a series of conversations and invites several people to participate in a

 slang symposium. When he invites sexy nightclub performer Sugarpuss O'Shea to attend, Sugarpuss abruptly dismisses him. Unknown

 to Bertram, Sugarpuss is being sought by the district attorney in connection with a murder that her gangster boyfriend, Joe Lilac,

 is suspected of committing, and she and Joe's henchmen, Asthma Anderson and Duke Pastrami, flee the club one step ahead of a

 subpoena. With no safe place to hide, Sugarpuss decides to take Bertram up on his invitation and shows up at the foundation later

 that night. Although pleased to see the still scantily clad Sugarpuss, Bertram, whom Sugarpuss calls "Pottsie," refuses to allow her to

 stay the night, but is overruled by his sex-starved colleagues. At the district attorney's office, meanwhile, Joe is confronted about a

 monogrammed bathrobe found in the murdered man's suitcase, which the district attorney suspects once belonged to Joe and was

 given to him by Sugarpuss. Concerned that Sugarpuss might be compelled to testify against Joe, his lawyer advises him to marry her.

 Three days later, Sugarpuss, who has been helping Bertram dissect a long list of slang expressions as well as teaching the other

 professors the conga, is visited by Asthma and Pastrami. The thugs present her with a pricey diamond engagement ring from Joe,

 and eager to become the wealthy Mrs. Lilac, Sugarpuss accepts the ring and agrees to stay at the foundation until she can safely

 meet Joe. Just then, however, Miss Bragg, the professors' prim housekeeper, demands that Sugarpuss leave, as she has become too

 much of a disruption. When Bertram asks Sugarpuss to go, admitting that her feminine ways have distracted him from his work,

 Sugarpuss declares that she is "just plain wacky" for him and kisses him. Bertram is so taken with Sugarpuss' kisses that he decides

 to propose to her, and the next morning, he gives her a small diamond engagement ring. Bertram's ardor saddens and confuses

 Sugarpuss, but before she can respond, Joe telephones from New Jersey. As Joe has identified himself as "Daddy," Bertram assumes

 he is Sugarpuss' father and asks him for permission to marry. Joe, seeing an opportunity to get Sugarpuss past the police's dragnet,

 goes along with the misconception and requests that the wedding be performed in New Jersey. Before the wedding party departs,

 however, Miss Bragg, having seen Sugarpuss' photo in the newspaper, threatens to call the police on her. After Sugarpuss slugs Miss

 Bragg and locks her in a closet, Bertram and the other unsuspecting professors excitedly depart for New Jersey. On the way,

 Professor Gurkakoff, who is driving, crashes into a signpost, disabling the car. The wedding party is forced to spend the night at an

 auto court, but when Sugarpuss calls Joe with the news, he insists on picking her up that night. While she waits in her bungalow,

 Professor Oddly, a widowed botanist, tells Bertram about his genteel honeymoon, then retires for the night. Perturbed by Oddly's

 remarks, Bertram seeks him out for clarification, but accidentally ends up in Sugarpuss' darkened bungalow. Believing that he is

 speaking to Oddly, Bertram describes his deeply felt passion for Sugarpuss, and moved by his words, she reveals herself and kisses

 him. At that moment, however, Joe and his gang arrive and expose Sugarpuss' deception. Finding lipstick on Bertram's face, Joe

 then pummels the hapless professor. After directing Miss Bragg, who escaped from the closet, and the police away from the auto

 court, Bertram confronts Sugarpuss. She tearfully apologizes, but Bertram returns to New York, angry and humiliated. Later, at the

 foundation, Oddly reveals that Sugarpuss gave him a ring to deliver to Bertram, not his, but Joe's. Bertram is buoyed by the

 professors' deduction that the singer is in love with him, and is unshaken when a scandalized Miss Totten arrives to announce their

 termination. Asthma and Pastrami then appear and, while holding the professors and Miss Totten at gunpoint, tell Sugarpuss

 over the phone that they are going to open fire unless she marries Joe. To protect the professors, Sugarpuss proceeds with the

 ceremony, which is being conducted in New Jersey by an addled-brain justice of the peace. Sugarpuss' fate appears sealed until the 

 professors cause a heavy portrait to fall on Pastrami and then take Asthma by surprise. With help from the garbage man, the

 professors tickle Pastrami into revealing Sugarpuss' location and race to New Jersey, arriving seconds before she is officially wed.

 After Bertram beats up Joe and delivers the gangsters to the police, he convinces Sugarpuss she is worthy of him by giving her a

 passionate, "yum-yum" kiss.

Bastard Out of Carolina****1/2   1996




 Plot: In post-WWII South Carolina, a young woman named Anney gives birth to an illegitimate child, nicknamed Bone. A few years

 later, Anney marries the seemingly decent Glen, who does not get along with Bone. Annie's miscarriage of a boy enrages her husband,

 who, behind his wife's back, begins to physically abuse Bone on a regular basis. After Anney discovers what her husband has been

 doing, she leaves Glen. But her need for a man's love eventually compels her to return to Glen, setting the stage for a heinous

 incident between Glen and his stepdaughter. As a result, a rift forms between mother and daughter -- that may never be healed. A

 made-for-cable adaptation of Dorothy Allison's best-selling novel. Anjelica Huston makes her directorial debut.

Beautiful Girls****   1996





 One of the characters in Ted Demme's "Beautiful Girls" has made his room a shrine to fashion models, plastering their pictures all

 over his walls. Sure, he knows these images are a little rosy and dishonest, but they make him feel good anyway. The same can be

 said for this companionable date movie, a "Big Chill" knockoff reuniting high school buddies in their drab, snowbound hometown.

 The characters are brighter and funnier than verisimilitude should allow (just look at the inspired cast list to see why), but they still

 work as welcome, entertaining company. Even if "Beautiful Girls" isn't as seductive as that title, or quite as cozy as its ads appear

 (the characters have been pasted into a composite bar scene), it still has warmth and good cheer. The film is loosely focused, but its

 ensemble cast is as affable as anything on television these days. And the mood is much more buoyant than the setting. Since the tone

 here is lightly comic, with only the occasional stab at rueful wisdom, there's not even much cause to complain about obvious

 sugar-coating. For instance: the male buddies in this film talk about nothing but their girlfriends, and every one of these guys has

 a heart of gold. As for women, the film duly notes that beauty is only skin deep, then crams as many great-looking actresses

 as possible into its cast.

 The other bit of dishonesty is endemic to this film and every other feel-good ensemble story like it: the notion that a brief reunion

 may just change the lives of almost all the principals in a few days'  time. But "Beautiful Girls" doesn't strain to accentuate the

 positive all that often. Thanks to those actors and to Scott Rosenberg's easygoing, colorful dialogue, it stays nicely inviting most

 of the time. Mr. Rosenberg's screenplay, vastly more conversational than his overbearing script for "Things to Do in Denver When

 You're Dead," invents a small-town brotherhood of lovable lugs. Funniest of these is Michael Rapaport's Paul, the man with the model

 fixation. Mr. Rapaport, who has a real genius for playing dumb, is given the chance to wax eloquent about the pin-ups on his walls,

 and he brings it off comfortably. "That's all they are: bottled promise," he extols. "Scenes from a brand new day. Hope dancing in

 stiletto heels." The film is generous enough to enjoy these daydreams while still planting Paul in something like the real world.

 During the course of the story, Paul becomes jealous about the romance his girlfriend (Martha Plimpton) has been having with a

 butcher. So he tries to give her a diamond ring that is the color of either Champagne or dirt, depending on who is describing it. Paul

 is egged on by his roommate, Tommy (Matt Dillon, another casting coup), but Tommy is confused, too. Tommy's longtime

 girlfriend (Mira Sorvino) knows he has been having an affair with a predatory married woman (Lauren Holly), and it's time for him to

 make up his mind. Meanwhile, Willie Conway (Timothy Hutton) comes home from New York to his none too happy family. ("If nice is

 London, they are Tokyo," he says about his relatives.) Willie, a sad-eyed, boozy piano player, has a nice girlfriend (Annabeth Gish)

 who bores him slightly. But he had no idea, until this reunion, that he was bored enough to fall for Marty (Natalie Portman), the

 13-year-old next door. No wonder: this Lolita has the film's archest dialogue. (Mr. Hutton, leaning out his window: "Hey!" Marty:

 "Romeo and Juliet, the dyslexic version.") And Ms. Portman, a budding knockout, is scene-stealingly good even in an overly showy

 role. Speaking of knockouts, the film also introduces Andera (Uma Thurman), who is either visiting her bartender cousin

 (Pruitt Taylor Vince) or is an apparition these small-town buddies have conjured. Showing the same take-charge attitude that worked

 so well for her in "Pulp Fiction," Ms. Thurman winds up showing several men in the story important things about beauty. For one thing,

 beautiful women don't stick around forever in a town where birthday parties unfold at the V.F.W. hall, with the jukebox playing

 "Never on Sunday."

 Actually, "Beautiful Girls" has an effervescent pop soundtrack to make its feel-good mood feel even better, not to mention its Neil

 Diamond sing-along staged in a bar. Also notable: Rosie O'Donnell delivering an uproariously memorable analysis of idealized

 femininity as she takes no prisoners while marching through a drugstore. Rounding out the cast are Noah Emmerich as Mo, who

 makes  marriage look like a not-great alternative to girlfriend trouble, and Max Perlich, who delivers a heartfelt benediction:

 "Stay cool. Stay cool forever." This film tries its best to make that wish come true.

Bed of Roses***1/2     1933




  As soon as they are released from prison, crafty and tough Lorry Evans and Minnie Brown board a Mississippi River steamboat bound for New Orleans.

 Short on cash, the women invite two boll weevil exterminators to their cabin and, after getting them drunk, steal their money. When Lorry's activities

 are reported to the captain, she jumps overboard rather than be arrested, but loses the stolen cash as she is pulled from the water by Dan, the

 skipper of a passing cotton barge. Although she is attracted to the manly Dan, Lorry robs him of sixty dollars and, once docked in New Orleans, heads

 for the office of Stephen Paige, a wealthy publisher whom she had spotted on the steamboat. Using an array of feminine tricks, Lorry seduces the

 straight-laced Stephen and then blackmails him into making her his well-kept mistress. Once established with Stephen, Lorry returns to Dan's barge

 to repay him for his involuntary loan and ends up falling in love with him. Although she at first accepts Dan's marriage proposal, Lorry, who has kept

 her affair a secret, changes her mind when a lovesick Stephen convinces her that her past deceptions will one day lead to Dan's ruin. Lorry abandons

 Dan but, rather than stay with Stephen, moves to a roominghouse and takes a job in a department store. With Minnie's help, Stephen locates Lorry

 and, during a Mardi Gras party, makes a final, unsuccessful bid for her return. Minnie, seeing her friend's desperation, tracks down Dan and, after

 revealing her friend's past, reunites the two lovers. 


Before the Devil Knows Your Dead****1/2   2007





 Andy Hanson (Hoffman) is a finance executive who, facing an upcoming audit, is in desperate need of money to cover funds he

 embezzled from his employer. His brother Hank (Hawke) needs money to pay child support and his daughter's private school tuition.

 Meanwhile, Hank has been having a long-standing affair with Andy's wife, Gina (Marisa Tomei), who has been unsatisfied with her


 Andy devises a plan to rob their parents' jewelry store, to which Hank reluctantly agrees. Andy argues that he cannot go himself

 because he has been in the neighborhood recently, and could therefore be recognized. They assume that only Doris, an elderly woman

 who works for their parents, will be in the store. Andy states that just a toy gun is needed and that it is a victimless crime, because

 insurance will repay their parents for the stolen items. Andy plans to fence the jewelry via a New York City dealer his father knows,

 and expects to net about $120,000 from the robbery.

 Without consulting Andy, Hank hires Bobby Lasorda (Brian F. O'Byrne), an acquaintance who is an experienced thief, to help him

 in the robbery. Bobby reveals a real gun and decides he will commit the robbery himself; Hank just needs to wait in the car.

 Unbeknown to the robbers, the brothers' mother Nanette (Rosemary Harris) happens to be filling in for Doris. The robbery goes awry

 when Nanette pulls a hidden gun on Bobby, causing a shootout; Bobby dies on the scene, and Nanette falls into a coma, dying a week

 later in the hospital after her husband Charles (Finney) agrees to take her off life support. Charles, unsatisfied with the police's help,

 decides to investigate on his own, and he becomes obsessed with finding information about the crime and others involved in it.

 Shortly after the botched robbery, Hank is confronted by Bobby's brother-in-law Dex (Michael Shannon) who demands financial

 compensation for Bobby's death to provide for his sister, Chris (Aleksa Palladino), Bobby's widow.

 Meanwhile, while Andy is away from his office dealing with his mother's death, his superiors at work repeatedly try to contact him

 regarding irregularities in his department's accounts that have been revealed by the audit. At the wake for Nanette, Andy and

 Charles have a complex and emotional exchange, wherein Charles states he loves Andy despite their long-standing differences;

 Andy says he has always felt like an outsider in his father's house. When Andy questions his biological heritage, Charles slaps him.

 Andy and Gina immediately depart, and on the drive home Andy has an emotional breakdown over his relationship with his father.

 Later, at home, Gina tells Andy his boss been trying to get in touch with him, and expresses her frustration with their marriage and

 Andy's growing coldness. Andy, preoccupied with covering up his embezzlement and trying to help Hank deal with Dex's blackmail,

 hardly reacts when Gina announces she is leaving him. Her desperate attempt to extract an emotional response from him – revealing

 her affair with Hank – fails, and she leaves.

 Charles, searching for information about the robbery, visits the same fence Andy had contacted in New York City. After an

 acrimonious exchange that indicates Charles and the jeweler have known and disliked each other for decades, the jeweler hands

 Andy's business card to Charles, revealing to Charles that Andy recently came to him looking to fence some jewels. Charles

 immediately goes looking for Andy.

 At this time, Andy decides to resolve the blackmail situation with Hank by robbing a heroin dealer that he frequents. At the dealer's

 apartment, Andy and Hank overpower the dealer and steal his money. Hank is shocked when Andy kills the dealer and a client who

 happened to be present. The brothers then go to pay off Dex, but Andy impulsively kills him from fear of continued blackmail.

 Andy appears ready to kill Chris (Bobby's wife) when Hank objects. Andy turns the gun on Hank, revealing that he knows about Hank

 and Gina's relationship. Hank begs Andy to kill him, but Andy hesitates. As Andy pauses over whether to shoot his brother, Chris

 shoots Andy with her brother's gun, wounding him. Hank leaves his brother and guiltily leaves some of the money behind

 for Chris before fleeing with the money, drugs and paraphernalia they robbed from the heroin dealer.

 After leaving the fence, Charles tailed Andy. He followed Andy from his apartment tower, watched as he went to Hank's apartment,

 then followed his sons to their meeting with Chris, and finally followed Andy to the hospital where the paramedics took his wounded

 son. Andy breaks down and vulnerably apologizes to his estranged father for everything, explaining Nanette's death was an accident.

 Charles seemingly accepts his apology. Charles then attaches Andy's heart monitor to himself and suffocates his son to death with 

 a pillow. Andy struggles to stop his father, but in his weakened condition he is over-powered. As nurses rush to help Andy, Charles

 walks away.

Belonging****1/2     2004 (TV)

A beautifully crafted film, with a straight-on, incredibly believable and touching performance by Brenda

Blethyn (as Jess). Kevin Whately (as Jacob) seems awash in a state of bewilderment over his unfaithfullness 

to Jess. A beautifully illustrated comparison between two people in a broken relationship, one pro-active

and motivated, the other deadened in spirit.




 Happily married Jess and Jacob live in a riverside house with Jacob's elderly relatives "the oldies." Jacob cares for them all until, one

 day, he goes out for a pint and never returns. Stars Brenda Blethyn and Kevin Whateley.Starring two of Britain's finest actors, Brenda

 Blethyn (SECRETS & LIES) and Kevin Whately (INSPECTOR MORSE), BELONGING is a moving tale of love and loss. Blethyn plays Jess,

 loving wife of Jacob (Whately). Spending much of her time caring for Jacob's elderly parents, she is devastated when her husband

 suddenly and mysteriously leaves her for another woman. A gritty slice of life drama that follows in the best traditions of British

 filmmakers such as Ken Loach and Mike Leigh, BELONGING is directed by Christopher Menaul, who is known for his TV work in the


Benny Goodman Story, The***   1955



 Poor though they are, Dave and Dora Goodman are determined to secure a good education for their sons. In 1919, Prof. Schepp offers

 music classes to Chicago's tenement dwellers at Hull House, and although young Benny Goodman dislikes the instrument at first, he

 becomes an excellent clarinetist by the time he is fourteen. Benny practices his Mozart passages, but when an opportunity to

 play in a ragtime band arises, he joins the musicians' union and begins his performance career. During a break, Benny listens with

 awe to the New Orleans jazz band of Edward "Kid" Ory, who advises him to play the way he feels and invites him to sit in. Later,

 Benny, still two years away from high school graduation, joins the Ben Pollack band and plays at dances throughout the country.

 On his first visit back home, Benny is dismayed to learn that his father, who always supported his musical aspirations, has been

 killed in an accident on the way to the train station. The Pollack band secures a job in the speakeasy of Benny's former neighbor,

 Little Jake Primo, who is now a gangster. There he meets wealthy John Hammond, a jazz lover and music critic, and John's sister

 Alice, who prefers classical to "hot" music and is uncomfortable in Benny's presence. Pollack's band flops in New York, and Benny,

 full of ideas but worried that there is no audience for his kind of music, is forced to perform with more traditional dance bands in

 order to earn a meager living. Still impressed with Benny's talent, Hammond invites him to perform a Mozart clarinet concerto

 before an audience of blue bloods in the Hammond mansion. Alice is pleasantly surprised by Benny's performance and remarks that

 although he seems calm and quiet, "all this emotion comes pouring out" when he plays. Benny forms a band and begins to perform

 on an NBC Saturday night radio program. Admired jazz musician Fletcher Henderson hears the program from his home base in Harlem

 and is so impressed that he begins to contribute musical arrangements to the band. After the show is canceled, Benny's orchestra

 goes on tour, but before he leaves, he and Alice declare their strong but confusing feelings for each other. The tour is a failure until

 the orchestra reaches Palomar, California, where, the group, having won a large following of young fans on the West Coast, is

 a tremendous success. Benny sees Alice in the audience and plays "Memories of You" for her, and after the show, the two kiss. Benny

 forms a quartet that includes Lionel Hampton, Teddy Wilson and Gene Krupa, and by the time Benny, his orchestra and his quartet

 return to Chicago, they are making headlines in Variety . Alice attends the orchestra's New York debut, where a surging crowd

 dances in the aisles, and later that day, she is relieved to learn that her father approves of the romance. Benny's mother, however,

 informs her son that his love for Alice is "like a knife in my heart." Worried, Alice visits Mrs. Goodman, who declares that "you don't

 mix caviar with bagels." Benny is booked into Carnegie Hall, but he wonders why Alice is not planning to attend and worries that "a

 hall full of longhairs" will disapprove of the orchestra's music. Finally realizing how much Benny loves Alice, Mrs. Goodman secretly

 invites her to attend the concert, which will feature the orchestra and guest performers Harry James, Ziggy Elman and Martha

 Tilton. Travel delays nearly cause Alice to miss Benny's triumphant performance, but she arrives in time for a standing ovation and

 an encore performance of "Memories of You."

Best Man, The****  1964


 William Russell (Henry Fonda) and Joe Cantwell (Cliff Robertson) are the two leading candidates for the presidential nomination

 of an unspecified political party. Both have potentially fatal vulnerabilities. Russell is a principled intellectual (believed by many

 critics and fans to be based on Adlai Stevenson). A sexual indiscretion has alienated his wife Alice (Margaret Leighton). In addition,

 he has a past nervous breakdown to live down. Cantwell (believed to be based upon John F. Kennedy with some Richard Nixon and

 Joseph McCarthy mixed in) portrays himself as a populist "man of the people", and patriotic anti-communist campaigning to end "the

 missile gap" (a Kennedy campaign catch-phrase), but is a ruthless opportunist, willing to go to any lengths to get the nomination.

 Neither man can stand the other; neither believes his rival qualified to be President.

 They clash at the nominating convention and lobby for the crucial support of dying former President Art Hockstader (Lee Tracy).

 The pragmatic Hockstader (a character based on Harry Truman, particularly his comments on "striking a blow for liberty" whenever

 he drinks a bourbon) prefers Russell, but worries about his indecisiveness and overdedication to principle; he despises Cantwell,

 but appreciates his toughness and willingness to do what it takes. In fact, Hockstader had intended to publicly support Cantwell, but

 the candidate blunders badly. When the two speak privately, Cantwell attacks Russell with illegally-obtained psychological reports

 (obtained by his brother and campaign manager, Don Cantwell, based on Robert F. Kennedy[citation needed]) mistakenly

 assuming that Hockstader was for the more liberal man. The former president tells Cantwell that he doesn't mind a "bastard",

 but objects to a stupid one, and switches to Russell. However, in his opening-night speech, he endorses neither.

 Cantwell's wife actively campaigns, while Russell's pretends for the time being that everything is fine with their marriage.

 The candidates go to the convention trying to outmaneuver the other, Russell finding out to his chagrin that Hockstader has offered

 the vice-presidential spot on the ticket to all three of the other candidates, Oscar Anderson, T.T. Claypoole and John Merwin.

 One of Russell's aides digs up Sheldon Bascomb (Shelley Berman). He served in the military with Cantwell, and is willing to link him

 to homosexual activity while stationed in Alaska during World War II. Hockstader and Russell's closest advisors press Russell to grab

 the opportunity, but he resists. As the first round of voting begins, he arranges to meet Cantwell privately, to let his rival

 know what he can do. However, Cantwell confronts Bascomb and refutes his slander. Russell threatens to use the allegation anyway,

 but though Cantwell does not understand what makes his opponent tick, he knows this much - Russell does not have the stomach for

 tactics that dirty. In the end, Russell shocks him by throwing his support behind a third candidate, Governor John Merwin,

 ending both their chances.

Best of Everything, The***1/2   1959


 Caroline Bender (Lange) is an ambitious young secretary in a publishing firm who, when jilted, finds consolation in the arms of editor

 Mike Rice (Stephen Boyd). Gregg Adams (Parker) is a typist and an aspiring actress romantically involved with stage director David

 Savage (Louis Jourdan). When the director dumps her, she is devastated, falls from a fire escape and dies. April Morrison

 (Baker) winds up pregnant, and jumps from a car when her unborn infant's father Dexter Key (Robert Evans) urges an abortion.

 All three women are under the supervision of editor Amanda Farrow (Joan Crawford), an exacting professional and a frustrated

 woman who marries, leaves the firm, and returns when she finds the simple life of home and marriage not to her liking.

Best Years of Our Lives, The****1/2  1946



 Three veterans returning home at the end of WW II must deal with the challenges of starting their lives and returning to the families

 they left behind. Each man faces his own demons in becoming a civilian again after many years in combat. One of the men, played

 by real-life disabled veteran Harold Russell must learn to overcome his own doubts and fears about being accepted for who he really is

 in spite of his severe disability, after losing both of his hands. It is a poignant, honest and emotional portrayal of each man and how  

 he deals with facing his post-war life, love and relationships at work and at home.

 As the movie opens, we meet the three veterans flying home. Al Stephenson is an Army Sergeant who will be returning to his job

 as a banker. Fred Derry was a drugstore soda jerk before the war, but found his niche in the Air Corps, attaining the rank of Captain

 as a bombardier. Al and Fred's complete reversal of position in moving from military to civilian life could make for some

 awkwardness, but both are the kind of men who won't let that happen. Homer Parrish is a former high school football star who lost

 both hands in an explosion. Rather than being bitter, he is grateful to the Navy for providing him with a pair of artificial hands and

 help in rehabilitation, and is upbeat about his future. Even as time goes by and he starts to lose some of his optimism, you will 

 never hear him say (or tolerate anyone saying) anything negative about the Navy or his war experiences. The movie then follows the

 separate but often intersecting paths of the three as they readjust to civilian life. Al moves back in with his wife Milly, his grown

 daughter Peggy, and his son Rob. He has been gone so long that he hardly recognizes his children, but the adjustment is not

 nearly as uncomfortable as it could be, due in large part to his wife's understanding and forbearance. What frustrations he

 encounters have more to do with his job. On the one hand, he is enthusiastically welcomed back by his boss, who so respects him

 that even when he goes against the boss's wishes, his job is never in jeopardy. But in handling loan applications by returning

 veterans, he is torn between the interests of the bank and his belief that returning veterans deserve a break after all they've given for

 their country. Fred's adjustment is more difficult. The drugstore takes him back less than enthusiastically, and he finds that a

 younger former co-worker whom he once helped train is now his boss. His performance is not well regarded, and he is eventually

 fired when he punches a customer who insulted Homer. He diligently searches for other job opportunities, but quickly and

 repeatedly learns that there is just no market for out of work bombardiers. Returning to his wife Marie, to whom he was only married

 briefly before the war, is no less difficult. She is excited to have him back initially, but her enthusiasm soon wanes when he wants

 her to cut back on her active social life. He also refuses to wear his military uniform, wanting to leave that behind and get on with

 his life, whereas she enjoys the status symbol of being seen with a man in an officer's uniform. The final straw is when Fred loses

 his job and can't find another, making it clear to her that he will not be the man to provide her with all the material comforts she

 craves. It is she who utters the movie's title phrase, complaining that she and others like her gave up the best years of their lives

 waiting for the men who were off fighting the war. Ultimately she leaves him. Behind his upbeat exterior, Homer is self-conscious

 about his new handicap, particularly around his old girlfriend Wilma. He still loves her, but is convinced that she cannot possibly

 want to live the rest of her life with someone who will be such a burden, and consequently is cold toward her. A climactic scene is

 where Homer invites Wilma to take him through the nightly routine of taking off his artificial hands and getting into bed, expecting her to give up in exasperation. Instead she professes her love more strongly than ever. There is no looking back for the two of them after that.

 Fred eventually finds work when he convinces a foreman who is also a veteran that he can learn new skills just as he learned to be

 a bombardier. He also finds love in the form of Peggy Stephenson. Al and Milly are opposed at first, but when Fred's marriage

 finally ends, they become supportive. The movie ends with the Stephenson family, Homer and Wilma, and Fred and Peggy all

 facing challenging but nonetheless bright futures.

Bicycle Thieves   (The Bicycle Thief)****1/2   1948


 A struggling father tries to make ends meet for his wife and young son with the bicycle he uses to post flyers around Rome. But,

 when his bicycle is stolen he loses the only means for supporting his family. Forced into desperation, he tries to redeem himself

 in the eyes of his young son.  

Big****   1988




MoAfter being told he is too short for a carnival ride while attempting to impress an older girl (Kimberlee M. Davis), 

 12-year-old Josh Baskin (David Moscow) from Cliffside Park, New Jerseygoes to a wishing machine called Zoltar Speaks, and

 wishes that he was "big." His wish is granted, but he finds out that the machine is unplugged, and backs away. By the next

 morning he is shocked to discover that he has been transformed into a 30-year-old man (Tom Hanks), and when he goes back to

 the wishing machine he finds that the carnival has already left. Fleeing from his mother (Mercedes Ruehl), who thinks he is a

 strange man who has kidnapped her son, Josh then finds his best friend, Billy Kopecki (Jared Rushton), at the school they both

 attend; Billy is shocked at first, but Josh convinces him of his identity by singing a secret song that only the two of them know.

 With Billy's help, he learns that it would take a couple of months to find the Zoltar Speaks machine, so Josh rents a flophouse

 room in New York Cityand gets a data entry job at MacMillan Toy Company.

 By chance, Josh meets the company's owner, Mr. MacMillan (Robert Loggia), checking out the products at FAO Schwarz

 and impresses him with both his extensive knowledge of current toys and his happy-go-lucky childlike enthusiasm. In a now-famous

 scene, the two end up playing duets together on a foot-operated electronic keyboard, performing "Heart and Soul" and "Chopsticks".

 This earns Josh a promotion to a dream job: testing toys all day long and getting paid for it. With his promotion, Josh's larger salary

 enables him to move out of the workingman's hotel and into a spacious apartment, which he and Billy fill with toys, their own 

 Pepsi vending machine and a pinball machine. Josh soon attracts the attention of Susan Lawrence (Elizabeth Perkins), a fellow toy

 executive. A romance begins to develop, much to the annoyance of Susan's competitive boyfriend, Paul Davenport (John Heard).

 Josh becomes increasingly entwined in his "adult" life by spending more time with Susan, mingling with her friends and moving in

 with her. His new ideas become valuable assets to MacMillan Toys; however, Billy begins feeling annoyed and neglected, feeling

 that Josh has forgotten who he really is.

MacMillan asks Josh to come up with proposals for a new line of toys. Josh is intimidated by the need to formulate the business

 aspects of such a proposal, and Susan insists that she will handle the business end; that Josh need only rely on his affinity for toys

 to come up with a good idea. Nonetheless, Josh soon begins to feel overly pressured by this new life. When he expresses doubts

 to Susan and attempts to explain that he is really a child, she interprets this as fear of commitment on his part, and dismisses his

 explanation in frustration. Longing to return to the life of a child, Josh eventually learns from Billy that the Zoltar Speaks machine

 is at Sea Point Park. In the middle of presenting their proposal to MacMillan and other executives, Josh leaves. After Susan realizes

 something is wrong, she leaves as well and encounters Billy, who tells her where Josh went. At the park, Josh finds the machine

 and makes a wish to become "a kid again." He is then confronted by Susan, who, seeing the machine and the fortune it gave Josh,

 realizes he was telling the truth. Susan becomes despondent at realizing their relationship is over. Josh tells Susan she was the

 one thing about his adult life he wishes would not end, and suggests she use the machine to turn herself into a little girl. She

 declines, indicating that being a child once was enough, and takes Josh home. After sharing an emotional goodbye, Josh reverts to

 his child form and is reunited with his family.ything else, 13-year old New Jerseyite Josh (David Moscow) wants to be "big". That's the

 wish he makes at an odd-looking amusement pier fortunetelling machine. The next morning, Josh wakes up-only to discover that he's

 grown to manhood overnight! (At this point, the part is taken over by Tom Hanks). Still a 13-year-old mentally and emotionally, Josh decides

 to hide out in New York City until he can figure out what to do next. He lucks into a job with a major toy company run by kid-at-heart McMillan

 (Robert Loggia). By cannily bringing a child's eye view to McMillan's business, Josh rises to the top-and in process, he falls in love with

 fellow employee Susan (Elizabeth Perkins). But he's still a kid, and he'd like to go back to his own world and own body. 

 Written by Gary Ross and Anne Spielberg, Big proved a crucial success for budding director Penny Marshall, who'd work harmoniously

 with Hanks again on the radically different A League of Their Own. The cinematography was by Barry Sonenfeld, who went on to become a

 director himself with The Addams Family. That Big was heavily reliant upon the input of Tom Hanks and Penny Marshall was proven by the

 failed attempt to turn the property into a Broadway musical.

 ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi 

Big Business****     1929





 Stan (Stan Laurel) and Ollie (Oliver Hardy) are selling Christmas trees door-to-door. Stan unintentionally insults their first customer (a single

 woman) when he asks, "If you had a husband, would he buy a tree?" The second house has a sign up that says "No Peddlers." Ollie rings

 the bell anyway and gets a couple of knocks on the head with a hammer. When they come to Jimmy Finlayson's (James Finlayson) house,

 he tells them that he doesn't want a tree, and he closes the door -- on a tree branch. They ring the bell again, and Finlayson says that he

 still doesn't want a tree. He closes the door again, and Stan's coat is stuck in it. So they ring the bell again. Soon, tempers begin to flare,

 and the orgy of destruction starts small. Finlayson chops their tree in half and cuts Ollie's tie with scissors. Laurel and Hardy rip out

 Finlayson's phone and the doorbell. By the end of the movie, Finlayson has destroyed our boys' trees and their car. They have smashed his

 furniture, dug up his yard, and cut down all of his landscaping, as a crowd forms to watch the spectacle. ~ Rovi 


Big Heat, The ****1/2  1950


  After the suicide of detective Sgt. Tom Duncan, his wife Bertha takes his detailed notes on racketeer Mike Lagana's

 organization, then demands money and protection from the mob boss to keep the notes secret. Lagana places the Duncan

 situation with his right-hand man, Vince Stone. Homicide detective Sgt. Dave Bannion is assigned to investigate Duncan's death

 and upon questioning a bereft Bertha, finds her explanation that Duncan suffered a mysterious malady suspicious. Later at

 home with his wife Katie and young daughter Joyce, Dave reads that the police department has accepted Bertha's assertions

 without question. That evening Lucy Chapman, a fading B-girl, contacts Dave and they meet at The Retreat bar where Lucy

 debunks Bertha's story, claiming that she and Duncan dated and that Bertha had just agreed to give her husband a divorce.

 When Dave cautions Lucy not to attempt to blackmail Bertha, Lucy angrily threatens to take her information to the

 newspapers. Dave then visits Bertha, who dismisses the divorce story, despite her knowledge of Duncan's relationship with Lucy.

 The next day at headquarters, Dave learns of the discovery of an unidentified woman who had been thrown from a car after 

 being beaten and tortured. At the coroner's, Dave identifies the victim as Lucy, and the coroner reveals that she suffered

 numerous cigarette burns before being strangled. Department head Lt. Ted Wilkes summons Dave and advises him to stop 

 harassing Bertha. Dave returns to The Retreat to question bartender-owner Tierney, who reveals nothing. That evening, Katie

 and Dave are interrupted by a phone caller, who insults Katie then threatens Dave. Furious, Dave goes to Lagana's house, where

 he accuses Lagana of corruption and Lucy's murder. The next day, Wilkes chastises Dave and insists he stop inquiring into Lucy's

 death as it is under the county sheriff's jurisdiction. Later, preparing for a night out with Katie, Dave angrily tells her that he

 should resign, but Katie encourages him to follow his instincts. Moments later, when Katie starts the Bannions' car, it explodes,

 killing her. After Katie's funeral, Dave demands help from Wilkes and Commissioner Higgins, but when the commissioner airily

 assures him of his assistance, Dave accuses both of being paid stooges for Lagana and is suspended. Dave places Joyce with his 

 brother-in-law Al, and moves into a hotel. Meanwhile, Lagana reproaches Stone for hiring Larry Gordon, who botched Lucy's

 murder and accidentally killed Katie instead of Dave. Stone claims he was not involved and fires Gordon. Lagana admits to

 Stone that Bertha is demanding more money and has arranged to have Duncan's notes sent to the newspaper in the event of her

 death. Concerned about the mounting publicity over the recent spate of deaths, Lagana hesitates at Stone's offer to kill Dave.

 After several days, Dave, acting on a tip regarding Lucy, goes to a junkyard, where the owner, Atkins, informs him that the

 man he seeks, Slim, is dead. Upon leaving, Atkins' secretary, elderly Selma Parker, stops Dave and reveals that shortly before

 his death, Slim was visited by two men, one of whom, "Larry," mentioned The Retreat. Dave returns to the bar and spots Stone

 and Debby Marsh. Stone is rolling dice with a woman and when he suspects her of cheating, he brutally burns her hand with his

 cigarette, provoking Dave's anger. Stone apologizes, gives the woman money and leaves, but Debby remains and offers to buy

 Dave a drink. Dave refuses, but when Debby follows him, he takes her to his hotel room in hopes of learning Larry's identity.

 Debby reveals no information, and when her flirting upsets Dave, she leaves. Back at Stone's apartment, Debby finds him with

 several men, including Higgins. When Stone questions her about going off with Dave, she assures him that she said nothing.

 Outraged, Stone attacks Debby, then hurls a pot of boiling coffee into her face. Shortly afterward, Debby, her face swathed in 

 bandages, returns to Dave's hotel, pleading for protection. She describes Stone's attack upon her and how Commissioner

 Higgins took her to the hospital. Realizing Dave's genuine concern for her, Debby divulges that "Larry" is Gordon, a hit man

 hired by Stone. Armed with this information, Dave locates Gordon and through physical coercion learns that Duncan was on

 Lagana's payroll for years and that Lucy was murdered because she may have known about it. Gordon insists he does not know

 why Bertha has been spared, and Dave speculates she must have evidence with which she is blackmailing Lagana.  Dave leaves,

 promising to make it known that Gordon has talked, and soon after, Lagana has Gordon killed. Stone repeats his offer to kill

 Dave, but Lagana is fearful about what Dave may have done with his newly acquired knowledge, so considers a plan to kidnap

 Joyce to gain Dave's silence. Later, a panicked Bertha telephones Lagana asking for help when Dave shows up at her house.

 Dave demands information on the papers Duncan left behind and Bertha initially feigns ignorance before taunting him with her

 secure position and his inability to prove anything. The police, summoned by Lagana, arrive, forcing Dave's withdrawal. Dave

 returns to the hotel and tries to answer Debby's questions about Katie before confiding his frustration that Bertha is unbreakable

 as long as she has Duncan's notes. They are interrupted when Al's wife calls to say the police guard around the house has

 vanished. When Dave arrives, he discovers Al has rounded up several Army buddies to protect Joyce. Debby goes to see Bertha,

 who receives her coldly, then threatens to call Stone. Debby calmly shoots Bertha and leaves the gun behind. Meanwhile,

 Dave watches Stone's place and sees him arrive. Inside Stone's darkened apartment, Debby waits and throws a pot of boiling 

 water into Stone's face and tells him she has just murdered Bertha. Stone shoots Debby in the back just as Dave bursts in.

 A shootout on the balcony ensues, then Debby manages to tell Dave about Bertha. Dave calls an ambulance and holds Stone

 hostage. After Wilkes and Dave's former partner arrive, Stone is duly arrested while Dave tells a dying Debby about Katie.

 A few days later, after the arrest of Lagana and Higgins, Dave is returned to duty.                                                                                                                                                  

Big House***1/2   1930


 Kent Marlowe, a frightened young man convicted of manslaughter while driving drunk, becomes cellmates with hardened

 prisoners "Machine Gun" Butch Schmidt and John Morgan, who are serving time, respectively, for homicide and robbery.

 Conditions at the prison are extremely harsh, especially in the prison mess, where the convicts are fed small amounts of spoiled,

 inedible food. One day, when Butch loudly objects to the food, causing an unruly outpouring of complaints from the other

 prisoners, Warden James Adams orders him to be placed in solitary confinement, called "the dungeon," for thirty days. Before

 he is taken away, Bush passes his contraband knife down a row of prisoners until it reaches an anxious Kent. When yard snitch

 Oliver later tells Kent that his time in prison could be significantly shortened if he passes on information to the guards, his

 naiveté and fear cause him to hide the knife among Morgan's things. When head guard Wallace searches Morgan's bunk, he

 finds the knife and sends him to the dungeon, even though Morgan was to be paroled the next day and swears that the knife

 is not his. At the end of his time in the dungeon, Morgan feigns unconsciousness and is taken to the prison hospital. Late that

 night, by sneaking away from his hospital bed and changing places with the corpse of another prisoner who has just died,

 Morgan is able to escape the prison in the mortician's wagon. Intending to get back at Kent, whom he deduces planted the knife,

 Morgan goes to a bookstore owned by his sister Anne, whom Morgan had briefly seen visiting Kent in prison. Although Anne

 recognizes Morgan, when a policeman acquaintance, Sgt. Donlin, comes into her shop while Morgan is there, she covers for him,

 saying he is an old friend named Everett. Morgan starts a job and begins to spend time with Anne and her family, and the two

 fall in love, but his freedom is short-lived when Donlin, who had recognized Morgan, arrests him at the Marlowes' home. Back

 at prison, Morgan determines that he will serve his time and start life over when he is released. Butch wants Morgan to come

 with him, Kent and some of the other prisoners who are planning a prison break, but Morgan refuses, saying that he plans to go

 straight, despite the wretched food and horrible conditions at the prison. On the day of the planned escape, just before noon,

 when the attempt will be made, Morgan is called into the prison office. When Butch and some of the others start to break

 through the prison gates, which were momentarily opened to allow fellow conspirator Gopher, the prison gardener, hand a

 bunch of flowers to a guard, they are greeted by Wallace's men firing machine guns at them. Butch is convinced that Morgan

 had revealed their plans, even though Morgan refused to give Wallace any information. Unknown to Butch, Wallace has

 confirmed to Morgan that Kent is the informer. After some of the prisoners are killed in the escape attempt, Butch and his

 remaining cohorts barricade themselves inside a cellblock and, using prison machine guns they have confiscated, threaten to

 kill all of the guards they have taken prisoner. Morgan risks his life to save some of the guards, despite being wounded. As tear 

 gas canisters and finally an army tank enter the cell block, a panicked Kent is killed. Butch, who has been mortally wounded, is

 about to kill Morgan when one of the other prisoners reveals that it was Kent who was the informer. As he dies, Butch smiles

 at his friend, saying he would never kill him and was "just kidding." After the riot is quelled, Morgan is proclaimed a hero and

 pardoned by the governor. He promises Adams that he will go straight from now on and plans to move to the islands or another

 country where government lands are available. As he leaves the prison gates, Morgan is embraced by Anne, who has been 

 waiting for him.

Big Parade, The ****1/2   1925


 In the spring of 1917, America enjoys peaceful prosperity, while war rages in Europe. In New York, laborer Slim Jensen toils on
 a skyscraper, while in the Bowery, Michael "Bull" O'Hara tends bar. On the other side of town, wealthy idler James Apperson
 scoffs at the idea of working in his father's factory. All three men's lives are interrupted by the news of America's declaration
 of war against Germany. Disinterested in the war news, Jim is bewildered by the patriotic fervor that stirs the crowds and
 inspires an enthusiastic parade. When a group of Jim's buddies excitedly tell him that they are enlisting, Jim impulsively joins
 them. That evening, Jim avoids telling his family he has enlisted, so as not to worry his anxious mother. Jim's father berates
 him for his indolence and points out that Jim's brother Harry has already placed the family factory in war production. Jim's proud
 fiancée, Justyn Reed, then accidentally reveals Jim's enlistment, which dismays Mrs. Apperson, but cheers Mr. Apperson.
 Several days later in boot camp, Jim meets Slim and Bull. After a hasty training period, Bull is made sergeant and the company
 is shipped to France where, after several days march into the countryside, set up camp in the farming village of Champillon and 
 are welcomed by the villagers. A few days later, Jim receives a cake from Justyn that he shares with Bull and Slim. To break up
 the monotony of camp life, Jim decides to rig a shower for the men near the river and searches for a barrel in the village. There,
 he is spotted by farm girl Melisande, who lives alone with her mother.
 Curious about Jim's actions, Melisande follows him back to the river and watches Bull and Slim try out the primitive shower. Jim
 then introduces himself to Melisande, although he speaks no French and she does not understand English. Jim is annoyed when
 Bull and Slim also show interest in Melisande, but she rejects them in favor of Jim. That evening, Jim waits for Melisande in
 front of her home and when she appears, shyly offers her a stick of gum and shows her how to chew it. Using a French
 dictionary, Jim and Melisande manage to communicate their mutual attraction to each other and over the next several weeks,
 Jim sees Melisande as often as possible, despite constant teasing from Bull and Slim. At mail call, some days later, Bull is angry
 when someone playfully takes his letter, causing Bull to mistakenly attack an officer he believes responsible. The officer angrily
 then angrily demotes Bull. Upon retrieving the letter, Bull is taken aback to learn that he is going to be a father. Meanwhile, Jim
 is overcome by guilt when he receives a letter and photo from Justyn, who frets at not hearing from him. Melisande finds Jim
 and the two quarrel when she realizes that Jim is engaged. Despite Jim's insistence that he genuinely cares for her, Melisande
 is hurt and departs in tears. Moments later, the company receives orders to move to the front immediately and Jim hurries to
 gather his equipment. The villagers rush to bid the soldiers farewell as trucks and equipment begin speeding through
 Champillion. After hastily packing, Jim searches frantically for Melisande, but is forced to join his unit. Attracted by the bustle
 of the army's sudden departure, Melisande anxiously joins the crowd of soldiers marching through the village, desperately hoping
 to find Jim. Jim finally spots Melisande and, rushing to her, vows that he will return. An officer orders Jim to return to his truck
 and as the transport moves off, Melisande frantically hangs on to the truck's side in a vain effort to stop its departure. When
 she is forced to let go, Jim throws Melisande a necklace and a shoe, which she clings to as the caravan of soldiers speeds away.
 Jim, Bull, Slim and the company then proceed toward enemy lines under the protection of fighter planes. When the company
 must continue on foot, the men are strafed by a German planes and Jim sees his first wounded and dead. Jim and his company
 are then ordered to spread out to march through a forest filled with German snipers. Continuing on, the men are bombed by
 shells and gas and, putting on their masks, seek shelter in the trenches. After surviving an afternoon-long attack, night falls
 and Jim, Slim and Bull take turns napping and eating canned ham. While the Germans lob shells over the trenches every few
 minutes, Jim tries some of Slim's chewing tobacco for the first time. Later, an officer creeps into their trench to order one of 
 them to destroy the German cannon. Knowing that he is the best spitter, Slim suggests a spitting contest to see who will take
 on the dangerous mission. After winning the contest, Slim slowly crawls through the dirt, hiding behind dead bodies until he
 reaches the German cannon nest, which he destroys with a hand grenade. As he crawls back, however, flares illuminate Slim,
 and German machine gunners shoot at him as Jim and Bull listen tensely from their trench. When Slim does not return, Jim and
 Bull begin calling for him anxiously, until they are reprimanded by an officer. A little later, Jim and Bull hear Slim feebly calling
 for help and, frantic, Jim disobeys orders and leaves the fox hole to rescue Slim. Bull joins Jim and upon finding Slim dead, both
 men grieve, then, in a fury, destroy the German machine gun nest. While moving in on a second nest, Bull is killed and Jim
 wounded in the leg. Jim attacks a German with his bayonet and the two tumble into a shell hole together. His rage abruptly
 spent, Jim cannot kill the young soldier and instead offers him a cigarette, but the soldier dies minutes later. A few days later,
 Jim awakens in a church turned into a makeshift infirmary. A fellow patient tells Jim that he was wounded in nearby Champillon
 which was subsequently overrun by the Germans. Alarmed, Jim escapes from the hospital on crutches to go in search of
 Melisande, unaware that the village has been evacuated. Jim collapses upon arriving at the shattered village, where he is later
 found by a medical unit. Upon the declaration of peace, Jim returns home, an amputee as a result of his wounds. Although
 Justyn and Harry have become involved in Jim's absence, she is determined to maintain her engagement to Jim. Despite his
 family's sincere relief at his return, Jim realizes that they can never understand how his war experiences have changed him.
 When he later confesses to his mother that he is in love with Melisande, she encourages him to find her. Much later
 in France, Melisande and her mother are working in the fields when Melisande spots a distant figure coming across the hills
 towards them slowly. Incredulous, Melisande recognizes Jim and the two are reunited.

Big Sleep, The****    1947





 First, the Raymond Chandler novel: he took hold of LA like it was one of those glass balls of a winter scene filled with water - he

 turned it upside down and shook it well, then put it back down and described the action. The book had everything in the hard boiled

 mystery novel of that time, and many elements that had been deleted from others, plus it was extremely well written. He included

 (then illegal) homosexuality, (then) illegal sex photos, (then) illegal gambling, corrupt police; Chandler used Marlowe like a pinball,

 bouncing among the rich, the corrupt, the criminals, the scam artists, the thugs, the vulnerable, andthe protected playgrounds of

 the rich, to track down an extortion attempt that rapidly escalates into several murders. It was a densely written work that

 demonstrated superior skills at the same time also knowledge of relatively unknown subjects and how these all fit together in the

 LA of 1939 (unseen and unknown, for the most      part, by the local population or anyone else in the US, which made it great

 reading and obviously eye popping at the theatres.)

 The movie is a brilliant and straightforward use of the novel to present a complex and compelling set of mysteries, solved by

 Marlowe using methods subtle and grim. One of the mysteries is never obviously solved in the movie, but like most viewers, no one

 seems to care. Bogart and Bacall were brilliant in this film; Hawks knew exactly how to direct them; the work of the whole was and

 remains amazing to watch. Bogart did for Marlowe what Gable did for Rhett Butler.

 It is also interesting to watch the 1945 version of the film - as well as the documentary prepared by UCLA which detailed the

 differences between the two - all changes wrought by the strengthening of the Bacall character to leverage the chemistry between

 her and Bogart. The scene in the book store was also quite a display of chemistry between Bogart and Dorothy Malone.
 The Big Sleep is worth watching about a dozen times. 


Birds, The***1/2   1963


 While in a San Francisco pet shop, wealthy Melanie Daniels becomes attracted to Mitch Brenner, a young lawyer who is trying

 unsuccessfully to find a pair of lovebirds for his little sister Cathy. Acting on a sudden impulse, Melanie buys two of the birds

 and decides to deliver them to Mitch's home on an island in Bodega Bay. After secretly leaving the birds in the Brenner house,

 she is returning to the mainland by motor boat when a seagull swoops down on her, gashes her forehead, and then flies away.

 Mitch meets her at the mainland pier and brings her back to his home. The next day a group of birds attack Cathy and her

 friends during a birthday party. That evening hundreds of finches fly down a chimney and terrorize Melanie and the Brenners.

 Panic in the small town mounts as birds murder a chicken farmer by pecking him to death, create a flash fire at a gas station,

 and swarm over the local children as they leave school. Following the death of schoolteacher Annie Hayworth, most of the

 townspeople leave their homes and head for San Francisco. Mitch boards up all entrances to his home and awaits the onslaught.

 The birds dive against the house, tearing at shingles and gnawing at doors, but they are unable to get inside. When Melanie

 goes to the attic, however, she is attacked by a roomful of crows who have made a hole in the roof. Mitch manages to rescue

 her but realizes the house is no longer safe. With the coming of morning, the birds are momentarily quiet. Taking advantage

 of the silence, he puts Melanie and his family into his car and leaves for San Francisco as thousands of birds watch their


Bishop's Wife, The ***1/2   1947




Henry Brougham (Niven) prays for divine guidance with the troubled building of a newcathedral. His plea is seemingly

 answered by a suave angel named Dudley (Grant), who reveals his identity initially only to the clergyman.

 However, Dudley's mission is not to help with the construction of the cathedral. He is there to guide Henry and the people around

 him. Henry has become obsessed with the building to the detriment of his duties and marriage to his neglected, unhappy wife,

 Julia (Young). Everyone, except for Henry, is charmed by the newcomer, even the non-religious Professor Wutheridge

 (Monty Woolley). Dudley persuades the wealthy parishioners, particularly Mrs. Hamilton (Gladys Cooper), to contribute the needed

 funds, but not to build the cathedral. He helps Mrs. Hamilton decide to give her money to feed and clothe the needy—much to

 Henry's chagrin. He also redecorates the Broghams' Christmas tree in two seconds, saves an old church by restoring interest in

 the boys' choir, and arranges for the typewriter to automatically type Henry's new sermon - which Dudley dictates without Henry's knowledge.

When Dudley spends time cheering up Julia, there is an unexpected development: Dudley finds himself strongly attracted to her. Sensing this, Henry becomes jealous and anxious for his unwelcome guest to finish and depart. Eventually, he stands up to the angel. With his mission completed and knowing that Julia loves her husband, Dudley leaves, promising never to return. All memory of him is erased, and on Christmas Eve at midnight, Henry delivers the sermon that he believes he has written.

Black Christmas***1/2    1974


  A sorority house is hosting a Christmas party late into the night. A seemingly disoriented man climbs up the house's trellis and

 through an open attic window. During the party, sorority sister Jess Bradford (Olivia Hussey) receives an obscene phone call 

 from a recurrent caller the house has named "the moaner". After Barbara "Barb" Coard (Margot Kidder) jokingly provokes the

 caller, he replies, "I'm going to kill you," then hangs up. Soon after, Clare Harrison (Lynne Griffin) is offended by Barb and goes

 upstairs to finish packing for her trip home. In her room, she finds Claude the cat on the bed. She tells him to move as he's got

 some things to do. While she's packing, she hears the cat's cries and goes to investigate. Clare is attacked by the disoriented

 man and asphyxiated with plastic sheeting over her head. He carries her dead body to the attic and places it in a rocking chair

 next to the attic window and puts a doll in her lap.The next day, Mr. Harrison (James Edmond Jr.), Clare's father, arrives to

 take Clare home for the holidays. When Clare is not at their agreed-upon meeting place, he goes to the sorority house.

 Meanwhile, Jess meets her boyfriend, Peter Smythe (Keir Dullea), a neurotic aspiring pianist, and informs him that she is

 pregnant and wants to have an abortion. Peter is upset by her decision and orders her to discuss the situation with him later.

 Mr. Harrison and sorority sisters Barb and Phyllis "Phyl" Carlson (Andrea Martin) arrive at the police station to report Clare's

 disappearance. Sgt. Nash dismisses the report and says that Clare is probably "hiding with a lover". After Jess informs Clare's

 boyfriend, Chris (Art Hindle), about Clare's disappearance and Sgt. Nash's dismissive attitude, they rush back to the police

 station to discuss the disappearance with Lt. Kenneth Fuller (John Saxon). A local mother reports that her daughter, Janice, is

 missing as well.

That evening, Mr. Harrison, Chris, and the sorority sisters join a search party aiming to find Janice or Clare. Back at the house,

 Mrs. MacHenry (Marian Waldman), the sorority's housemother, hears Claude's meows in the attic and investigates. She discovers

 Clare's body, but the killer launches a crane hook into Mrs. MacHenry's head and hangs her. After the search party finds

 Janice's dead body near the park, Jess returns home and receives another obscene phone call. Jess phones the police about the

 caller. Later, Peter arrives and argues with Jess about her decision to have an abortion. Peter becomes frustrated and leaves

 after Lt. Fuller arrives to discuss the phone calls with Jess. A technician places a tap "bug tracer" onto the sorority house

 phone to trace the phone calls. An officer is also stationed outside the house.

After Barb is sent to bed for being "too drunk", the killer appears in her room and stabs her to death with a unicorn ornament.

 Door-to-door Christmas carolers drown out the noise of the attack. Jess receives another obscene phone call that quotes a part

 of the argument she had with Peter. Jess suspects Peter of being the caller, but she and Phyl decide that it cannot be him

 since Peter was present during one of the earlier calls. Phyl goes upstairs to bed, but decides to check on Barb first. As Phyl 

goes into the room to check on Barb, the door closes suddenly. The calls continue to come in. Jess manages to keep the caller

 on the phone for a minute, allowing the police to trace the location of the call to inside the house (from Mrs. MacHenry's

 separate phone line). Jess is ordered to leave the house immediately, but she puts down the phone to call up to Barb and Phyl.

 Lt. Fuller is informed of the situation and leaves for the house. Jess arms herself with a fire poker and ventures upstairs,

 finding both Barb and Phyl dead. The unseen caller attacks her and chases her through the house, resulting in Jess locking

 herself in the basement. As she hides in the basement, Peter appears outside one of the windows, telling her he heard 

 screaming. He breaks the glass and enters the room as Jess, believing him to be the attacker, backs into a corner. Lt. Fuller

 and the police arrive at the house and find the officer stationed outside dead in his car. Jess's scream is heard from the house,

 and they find her in the basement with Peter dead, having been bludgeoned to death by Jess's fire poker in self-defense. Later,

 Jess is asleep in her bed as Fuller and the officers discuss how Peter must have been the killer. They also discuss the fact that

 Clare's body still hasn't been found, revealing that they neglected to look in the attic. The officers leave Jess to sleep in her bed,

 stating that a man will be right outside the front door. Once the house is quiet, the phone starts to ring. The audience is shown

 the attic, with Clare and Mrs. MacHenry's bodies still undisturbed as the killer whispers, "Agnes? it's me, Billy."

Black Legion**1/2   1937


 When he is passed over for promotion in favor of a foreign-born friend, Frank Taylor (Humphrey Bogart), a midwestern factory

 worker, joins the anti-immigrant Black Legion, a secret white supremicist organization[2] portrayed as a northern chapter of

 the Ku Klux Klan. Dressed in black robes, Taylor and the Legion mount a torchlight raid and burn down the friend's chicken farm,

 driving him out of town, so that Taylor can take the job he believed was his. Soon, however, Taylor's recruiting activities with

 the Legion get in the way of his work, and he is demoted in favor of Mike Grogan (Clifford Soubier), Taylor's neighbor. Once

 again, the Legion takes action, attacking Grogan.

 Under the continued influence of the Legion, Taylor becomes a brutal racist,[2] and alienates his wife (Erin O'Brien-Moore). He

 starts drinking heavily and takes up with a loose woman (Helen Flint). Taylor's friend, Ed Jackson (Dick Foran), tries to counsel

 him, and a drunken Taylor winds up confessing about his Legion activities. When he reports this to the leadership of the Legion,

 they order that Jackson be kidnapped. The Legion plans to flog Jackson but he tries to escape by punching one of the men 

 restraining him and causing a ruckus. As he is running away he is shot by Taylor. Taylor breaks down and exclaims "I didn't mean

 to shoot!".[3]

 Taylor is arrested for the murder, and the Legion threatens his wife and son to stop him from implicating the Legion in the

 crime, but, ultimately, Frank breaks down and tells the truth, resulting in the entire Black Legion being convicted of murder 

 and sentenced to life in prison.[4]

Black Swan****1/2     2010




 A psychological thriller set in the world of New York City ballet, BLACK SWAN stars Natalie Portman as Nina, a featured dancer who finds herself locked in a

 web of competitive intrigue with a new rival at the company (Mila Kunis). A Fox Searchlight Pictures release by visionary director Darren Aronofsky (THE

 WRESTLER), BLACK SWAN takes a thrilling and at times terrifying journey through the psyche of a young ballerina whose starring role as the duplicitous

 swan queen turns out to be a part for which she becomes frighteningly perfect. BLACK SWAN follows the story of Nina (Portman), a ballerina in a New York

 City ballet company whose life, like all those in her profession, is completely consumed with dance. She lives with her retired ballerina mother Erica (Barbara

 Hershey) who zealously supports her daughter,s professional ambition. When artistic director Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) decides to replace prima

 ballerina Beth MacIntyre (Winona Ryder) for the opening production of their new season, Swan Lake, Nina is his first choice. But Nina has competition: a

 new dancer, Lily (Kunis), who impresses Leroy as well. Swan Lake requires a dancer who can play both the White Swan with innocence and grace, and the

 Black Swan, who represents guile and sensuality. Nina fits the White Swan role perfectly but Lily is the personification of the Black Swan. As the two young

 dancers expand their rivalry into a twisted friendship, Nina begins to get more in touch with her dark side with a recklessness that threatens to destroy her.

 -- (C) Official Site

Blonde Venus*****    1932





American chemist Ned Faraday marries a German entertainer and starts a family. However, he becomes poisoned

with Radium and needs an expensive treatment in Germany to have any chance at being cured. Wife Helen

returns to night club work to attempt to raise the money and becomes popular as the Blonde Venus. In an effort

to get enough money sooner, she prostitutes herself to millionaire Nick Townsend. While Ned is away in Europe,

she continues with Nick but when Ned returns cured, he discovers her infidelity. Now Ned despises Helen but she

grabs son Johnny and lives on the run, just one step ahead of the Missing Persons Bureau. When they do finally

catch her, she loses her son to Ned. Once again she returns to entertaining, this time in Paris, and her fame 

once again brings her and Townsend together. Helen and Nick return to America engaged, but she is irresistibly 

drawn back to her son and Ned. In which life does she truly belong? 

Blot, The****     1921




 Downtrodden Professor Griggs has a daughter, Amelia, a clerk in the public library, who is admired by Phil West, one of her father's

 pupils; but because he is from a wealthy family she keeps her distance. She is likewise admired by a poor minister and by young

 Olsen, their neighbor's son. When Amelia is taken ill, her mother is unable to provide her with enough nourishment and steals a

 chicken from her neighbor's kitchen. Phil West intervenes to help the Griggs family; and after persuading his father, a college

 trustee, to increase the professor's salary, Amelia and Phil become engaged. Amelia finds that her mother has returned the

 chicken, and happiness comes to all. 

Blossums in the Dust****   1941


 Greer Garson is dignity and integrity personified in the role of the real-life Edna Gladney. After several life

 experiences which rival daytime drama for unrelenting misery and melodrama, Edna marries flour-mill owner

 Sam Gladney (Walter Pidgeon). They have a baby, who dies shortly after Edna discovers that she can never have

 any other children. To give her life some meaning, Edna sets up the Texas Children's Home and Aid Society,

 which specializes in caring for illegitimate children and offering them for adoption. After her husband's death,

 Edna becomes a powerful political figure, succeeding in removing the stigma of illegitimacy by having that word

 stricken from all future Texas birth certificates; in this way, she honors the memory of her own half sister, who

 had killed herself upon discovering she was born out of wedlock. MGM thought enough of Blossoms in the Dust

 to film the production in Technicolor, a luxury usually reserved in 1941 for musicals or Westerns. 

Blue Dahlia ***1/2   1946


 Three discharged United States Navy officers, Johnny Morrison, Buzz Wanchek and George Copeland, arrive in Hollywood,

 California. Buzz is suffering from shell shock and has a metal plate in his head above his ear; George was released for bad

 eyesight; and Johnny was given leave after heroic actions in the South Pacific. Johnny surprises his wife Helen and discovers

 that she is having an affair with Eddie Harwood, owner of the Blue Dahlia nightclub on the Sunset Strip. Helen, drunk,

 confesses to Johnny that their son Dickie, whom Johnny believed died of diptheria, actually died in a car crash that occurred

 because she was driving drunk. Johnny pulls a gun on Helen, but drops it and leaves. Unaware of Helen's identity, Buzz goes to

 her bungalow for a drink. After Eddie ends the affair, Helen blackmails him into seeing her again. Johnny, meanwhile, is picked

 up in the rain by Joyce Harwood, who is separated from Eddie. Neither reveals their name, and they spend the night in separate

 rooms in a Malibu inn. The next morning, the radio announces that Helen has been murdered and that Johnny is suspected.

 "Dad" Newell, a house detective who saw Johnny fight with Helen and witnessed Buzz and Eddie enter her bungalow, goes to the

 police. Buzz and George are picked up for questioning, but Buzz remembers nothing. After Johnny checks into a cheap hotel

 under an assumed name, Corelli, the hotel manager, finds Johnny's photo of himself with Dickie and tries to blackmail him.

 Johnny beats Corelli up, then discovers that on the back of the photo, Helen has revealed that Eddie is really Bauer, a murderer

 wanted in New Jersey. Corelli revives and sells information on Johnny's identity to a gangster named Leo, who kidnaps him.

 Buzz and George visit Eddie at the Blue Dahlia, and Joyce introduces herself. As Joyce picks at a blue dahlia flower, the

 nightclub's music sets off a painful ring in Buzz's head, and lapsing into a fit, he remembers the agonizing music he heard while

 at Helen's bungalow as she played with a blue dahlia. Johnny escapes Leo's henchmen as Eddie arrives and forces him to admit

 that fifteen years before he was involved in the shooting of a bank messenger. Leo tries to shoot Johnny, but hits Eddie

 instead. Johnny flees to the Blue Dahlia, where the police are trying to force a confused Buzz to admit he killed Helen. Johnny

 enters and suggests that Joyce turn up the music. As his head pounds, Buzz remembers leaving Helen alive in her bungalow.

 Police Captain Henrickson then confronts Dad with the accusation that he he tried to blackmail Helen about her affair, and when

 she refused to comply, killed her. Dad then tries to escape from the office, but is shot by Henrickson. Later, outside the Blue

 Dahlia, Buzz and George decide to go for a drink, leaving Johnny and Joyce together.

Blue Lamp, The****     1950




 We follow the daily activities of two London bobbies, veteran George Dixon and rookie Andy Mitchell. Meanwhile, young hoods

 Tom and Spud plan a series of robberies with Tom's girl Diana, a discontented beauty, as inside worker. But in their second crime,.

 one of our heroes is shot, setting off a citywide manhunt. The killer is clever, but will he outsmart himself?

 Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Blues In the Night***   1941

A film not without its flaws, but as so many movies made in the prime time of the film noire genre, it 

was powerfully atmospheric and full of action. It was balanced, as few films are today with hard drama,

melodrama, light comedy, and more edgy comedy. Some comic moments were almost slapstick and

actually didn't fit. It seems the director didn't know exactly what kind of film he was making....who

knows...maybe it didn't matter to him in the least!. The ending is actually quite ridiculous (it seemed like

the ending of back-stage musical, more fit for Buddy Ebsen and Mickey Rooney). And...Lloyd Nolan was

deliciously vicious as a gangster. Priscilla Lane is her delightful and courageous self, and Elia Kazan makes

an interesting appearance as Nickie the clarinetist. 


 The big-band mystique of the 1940s was explored by Blues in the Night. Future directors Richard Whorf and Elia Kazan star as,

respectively, a neurotic band-leader and a carefree clarinettist. 

Their jazz band travels from one small-time gig to another, always hoping for their big break but always denied fame thanks to

their own personal demons. Priscilla Lane and Betty Field portray (again respectively) the good and bad girls in the musicians'

lives. While we're never treated to a full rendition of the title song, Blues in the Night scores with its melodramatic set pieces,

including a gutsy climactic murder/suicide sequence involving Betty Field and escaped convict Lloyd Nolan

Born to Love****    1931





In war-torn London, in 1919, Red Cross nurse Doris Kendall meets Captain Barry Craig, an American Army Air Corps officer, and soon falls in love

 with him. On the night before he is to ship out, Barry proposes marriage, but Doris refuses him, saying that if they marry, she will be sent back to

 America. Instead, the couple spends the night together and says a hopeful but sad goodbye the next morning. Soon after, Doris receives a letter

 from Leslie Darrow, Barry's friend, which states that Barry is missing in action and assumed dead. Devastated, Doris finds comfort in her longtime

 admirer and former patient, Sir Wilfred Drake, who invites her to recuperate at his aunt Agatha and uncle James's country estate. Later, on Armistice

 Day, Wilfred declares his love and proposes to Doris, who rejects him because she is pregnant by Barry. In spite of Doris' protests, Wilfred insists

 that they marry, and Doris finally agrees. Soon after the baby is born, Doris, now Lady Drake, receives a phone call from Barry, who has just arrived

 from France where he had been recovering from a serious war injury. Numb with surprise, Doris goes to see Barry and soon discovers that her love

 for him still thrives. For the sake of her child, Doris rejects Barry's plea that they run away together and returns to Wilfred. That night, Wilfred,

 sensing Doris' revived passion, rails against her and decides to divorce her, taking complete custody of the child. Two years later, Doris, who is now

 living in a roominghouse, receives permission from Wilfred to visit her son. On her way to the estate, Doris meets Barry, who has heard of her

 divorce, and once again, she rejects him. When she arrives at Wilfred's, however, she finds her son dead and her husband gutted by guilt. After

 wandering the streets on the verge of suicide, Doris finally ends up in the loving, faithful arms of Barry.

Breakfast at Tiffany's****   1961


 Holly Golightly lives in a brownstone on Manhattan's swank East Side. Totally madcap, she has a partially furnished apartment,

 owns a cat with no name, gets rid of the "mean reds" by visiting Tiffany's, and is forever misplacing her door key, much to the

 dismay of her upstairs neighbor Mr. Yunioshi, a Japanese photographer. Holly makes her living in two ways: she receive $50

 from her gentlemen escorts whenever she needs powder room money, and she is paid $100 for each weekly trip she makes to

 Sing Sing, where she visits Sally Tomato, an ex-mobster. One day Paul Varjak, a young writer who is supported by an older

 woman nicknamed "2E," comes into Holly's life. Following one of Holly's wild cocktail parties, Paul unexpectedly meets Doc

 Golightly, a gentle Texan whom Holly married when she was only 15 years old. Holly explains to Paul that the marriage was 

 annulled long ago, and he helps her send the heartbroken Doc away. After a day on the town together, Paul realizes that he is

 in love with Holly and proposes to her; but she is determined to marry José, a South American millionaire. However, when it is

 publicly revealed that Holly has been innocently carrying narcotics ring information from Sally Tomato to his New York associates,

 the stuffy José abandons her. Furious at everything and everyone, Holly throws Cat into the rain and decides to leave town,

 but Paul lectures her and then goes out to find Cat. Holly realizes how much she is giving up and races through the wet streets

 to a happy reunion with Paul and Cat.

Breaking the Waves****     1995





With Breaking The Waves, director Lars von Trier fashions an often disturbing tale of the singular power of love. Bess (the Oscar-nominated Emily Watson) is a

 naïve, borderline simple young woman who lives in a Scottish coastal town ruled by the religious doctrine of its council of elders. Recovering from a mental

 breakdown caused by the death of her brother, Bess marries a rough yet compassionate and attentive oil rig worker named Jan (Stellan Skarsgård). For a

 brief time, the couple enjoys peaceful wedded bliss, with the worldly Jan introducing Bess to the mysteries of sex. Jan must soon return to his job on the rig,

 however, where he is paralyzed from the neck down in a freak accident. Bess' emotional trauma over Jan's injury turns into obsession as she prays to God for

 his recovery and offers to do anything to have her husband back whole. Jan, constantly medicated and profoundly depressed, asks Bess to have sex with other

 men and tell him about it, thinking this will allow her to return to a normal life. Bess, on the other hand, sees it as an expression of her devotion to Jan that even

 God won't be able to ignore. Bess's resultant downward spiral leads to a finale of both tragedy and spirituality. Breaking the Waves is widely regarded as one

 of the most distinctive European movies of the 1990s, marking von Trier's movement toward his influential Dogma 95 school of filmmaking, which emphasizes

 realistic situations of contemporary life, filmed without background music and with a hand-held, restlessly moving camera. ~ Don Kaye, Rovi 

Brief Encounter****   1946


 Laura Jesson (Johnson), a suburban housewife in a dull but affectionate marriage, tells her story in the first person while at home

 with her husband, imagining that she is confessing her affair to him.

 Conventional Laura, as with most women of her class at that time, goes to the nearby town of Milford once a week for shopping

 and to the cinema for a matinée. Returning home from one of her weekly excursions, at the station she gets a piece of grit in

 her eye which is removed by another passenger, a doctor called Alec Harvey (Howard). Both are in their thirties; each is

 married, with two children. The doctor is a general practitioner who also works one day a week as a consultant at the local

 hospital, but his passion is for preventive medicine, such as addressing the causes of respiratory illness in miners.

 Enjoying each other's company, the two arrange to meet again. They are soon troubled to find their innocent and casual

 relationship quickly developing into love. For a while, they meet furtively, constantly fearing chance meetings with friends.

 After several meetings, they go to a room belonging to a friend and fellow doctor of Alec's, Stephen (Valentine Dyall). But they

 are interrupted by Stephen's unexpected return. This brings home the fact that a future together is impossible and, wishing not

 to hurt their families, they agree to part.

 Alec has been offered a job in Johannesburg, South Africa, where his brother lives. Their final meeting is at the railway station

 refreshment room which we see for the second time with the poignant perspective of their story. As they await a sad and final

 parting, Dolly Messiter, a talkative acquaintance of Laura, invites herself to join them and is soon chattering away, totally

 oblivious to the couple's inner misery. As they realise that they have been robbed of the chance for a final goodbye, Alec's train

 arrives. With Dolly still chattering, Alec departs with a last look at Laura but without the passionate farewell for which they both

 long. After shaking Messiter's hand, he lightly squeezes Laura on the shoulder and leaves. Laura waits for a moment, anxiously

 hoping that Alec will walk back into the refreshment room; he does not. As the train is heard pulling away, Laura suddenly

 dashes out onto the platform. The lights of a passing express train flash across her face as she conquers her impulse to commit

 suicide; she then returns home to her family. In the final scene of the film, which does not appear in the original Coward play,

 Laura's bland but kind husband Fred suddenly shows that he has not been completely oblivious to her distress in the past weeks,

 and takes her in his arms.

Bringing Up Baby***1/2   1938


On the eve of his wedding, Dr. David Huxley, a dedicated paleontologist at the Stuyvesant Museum of Natural History, is sent by

 his fiancée and assistant, Alice Swallow, to play golf with Alexander Peabody, the lawyer for Mrs. Carleton Random, a potential

 million-dollar donor to the museum. At the golf course, flighty heiress Susan Vance plays David's ball instead of her own and then,

 mistaking his car for hers, drives off with him clinging to his runningboard. That night while hunting for Peabody at an exclusive

 restaurant, David again encounters Susan, who causes him to slip on his top hat, embarrass himself in front of psychologist Dr.

 Fritz Lehman, tear his jacket and split the back of her gown. The next morning, Susan telephones David, who is preparing to

 meet Alice with his new  possession, a rare brontasaurus fossil, and begs him to help her with her new possession, "Baby," a

 tamed leopard that her brother has shipped to her from Brazil. David, however, refuses to get involved with Baby until he hears

 Susan's phony cries of distress over the telephone. After rushing to her apartment, David finds Susan unmaimed, and Baby

 yearning to hear his favorite record, "I Can't Give You Anything But Love." Disgusted by Susan's antics, David marches out of

 the apartment, but is followed down the street by both Susan and an unleashed Baby. Thus cornered, David finally agrees to help

 Susan take Baby to her aunt Elizabeth's home in Connecticut, but admonishes her that he has to return to the city to marry Alice

 by nightfall. While driving on the road to Aunt Elizabeth's, a distracted Susan rams into a truck carrying a load of fowl, and its

 cargo spills out and is devoured by Baby. Later, while David is buying raw meat for Baby in a small town store, Susan is forced

 to steal a stranger's car whose back seat the leopard has suddenly occupied. Finally arriving in Connecticut, David, who has

 donned Susan's dressing gown because Susan has sent his feather-encrusted clothes to the cleaners, runs into the befuddled,

 suspicious Aunt Elizabeth, whose married name is Mrs. Carleton Random. Because David has asked her not to reveal his full

 name to Elizabeth, Susan tells her aunt that David's last name is "Bone" and that he is a big game hunter who has suffered a

 nervous breakdown. At the same time, Elizabeth's dog George steals David's bone and buries it on the vast estate. While David

 frantically follows George around the wooded estate in an attempt to discover the whereabouts of his fossil, Susan confesses to

 Elizabeth that she is in love with David and plans to marry him. Unwilling to leave Elizabeth's without his fossil, David joins

 Susan, Elizabeth and Major Horace Applegate, a true big game hunter, for dinner. While David carefully watches George from

 the table, Mr. Gogarty, a heavy-drinking family servant, accidentally releases Baby from his makeshift cage in the garage.

 Alerted by Gogarty's screams, Susan orders David to telephone the local zoo, but then tells him to cancel his request for help

 after she learns that her brother intended Baby as a gift for Elizabeth. On the estate grounds, Susan and David search for Baby,

 harmonizing "I Can't Give You Anything But Love" as a lure, but mistake a caged, vicious circus leopard, which is being trucked

 to Bridgeport, for their tame animal. After Susan surreptitiously releases the other leopard from the stalled truck, it escapes

 into the woods and ends up on the roof of Dr. Lehman's house, where she and David attempt to coax it down. Lehman comes to

 his front door and, seeing only Susan, drags her into his house, convinced that she is deranged. Constable Slocum then arrives

 on the scene, spots David slinking around the house and arrests him for voyeurism. At the jail, Slocum refuses to believe

 Susan's and David's stories and arrests both Elizabeth and Applegate when they come to bail out Susan because he is sure they

 are only impersonating his wealthy constituents. Unable to persuade the dim-witted Slocum of her true dilemma, Susan changes

 her tactics and pretends to be "Swinging Door Susie," a gangster's moll. Eventually, Peabody shows up to verify everyone's

 identity, and after Baby and George stroll into the station, Susan, who has snuck out of a window, unwittingly captures the

 circus leopard. A few weeks later, Susan finds David, who has been jilted by Alice, working on his brontasaurus reconstruction

 at the museum. After presenting him with his bone, which George finally had returned, Susan informs David that she is

 donating a million dollars that Elizabeth has given to her to the museum. Then while perched on a tall ladder that scales the

 dinosaur, she extracts a confession of love from David. Although the excited Susan causes the one-of-a-kind reconstruction

 to collapse in a heap, David laughs at his misfortune and embraces his bride-to-be.


British Agent****     1944





In the wake of the Russian Revolution, Stephen Locke, a young British diplomat, argues that Great Britain must recognize the provisional government

 in order to prevent them from establishing a separate peace with the Germans, which would free German soldiers to face the remaining allies on the

 Western front. The night that the provisional government falls to Lenin's party, Stephen witnesses Elena Moura shoot a Cossack who is attacking a

 woman and her child. He helps her escape into the embassy and learns that she is a Communist. Most of the Allies close down their embassies, leaving

 behind only a token staff. Bored and frustrated by their inability to act, Stephen, LeFarge, the French representative, Tito Del Val, the Italian, and Bob

 Medill, the American, spend their days playing cards and their nights in a gypsy cafe. One night, Elena comes into the cafe and Stephen persuades

 her to leave with him. Although politically they are on opposite sides, they fall in love, but Elena's first loyalty is to her country, as she proves when

 she informs the Central Committee that Stephen is not Britain's official ambassador. Betrayed by the woman he loves, Stephen is also let down by his

 country, which once again ignores his advice. When the Czar is assassinated, the White army tries to reorganize and Stephen, LaFarge, Medill and Del

 Val come to their aid. An attempt is made against Lenin's life by Dora Kaplan, and the Russian secret police ask Elena to provide evidence of Stephen's

 counter-revolutionary actions. She agrees but when she learns that the Russians intend to explode the warehouse where Stephen is hiding, she joins

 him there, intending to die with the man she loves. Just as the soldiers are about to kill them, Lenin recovers from his wounds and pardons all political

 prisoners. Elena and Stephen leave for England to start a new life together.

Broadway: The Golden Age*****2004




 I grew up in a small town in Indiana—in love with movies and with Broadway. It was only a matter of time till they came together

 for me. When I started shooting Broadway: The Golden Agemy time-traveling, cinematic search for a lost era of live theatre, I

 had no backer or budget. Little did I realize that I would end up shooting over one hundred and thirty legendary stars in four 

 countries over five years—all on my own, with no crew. I read a Russian proverb early in the process that had said, “The work

 will teach you.” I’ll say. I started by sending out letters to about ten legends of the theatre. Not many responded, but Gwen

 Verdon did. I knew that she had been the force behind legendary choreographer/director Bob Fosse, as well as being a four-time

 Tony Award-winner herself.

 Gwen showed up for her interview—tall, elegant, fit and charming. She was seventy-five or so at the time and we began an easy

 rapport as I finished setting up the lights. I asked her why she had not done more films. “I hated how I looked on film. The first

 day of shooting Damn Yankees, my husband Bob Fosse showed the co-director a moment that was a good place for a close-up

 and he said, ‘There will be no close-ups for Miss Verdon in this picture. She is too unattractive.’ Well, I never forgot it. I

 thought, ‘I don’t need this. I have Broadway.’ I never went back to film till I was playing everyone’s grandmother. There was a

 time during the ’50s and ’60s that I couldn’t walk down a NYC street without being mobbed, but now if anyone knows me at all,

 it’s as the old lady in the Cocoon movies.”

 That turned out to be Gwen’s last interview. She died soon after, peacefully, in her sleep. But, as my film got bigger and bigger

 and I shot more interviews, I found that there were many others who seemed to have signed what was almost a secret contract.

 It was as if they had silently agreed to forgo immortality on celluloid in return for the chance to collaborate with the writer and

 director to really create the roles—on stage, and before anyone in movies—and to do it eight times a week, without a

 microphone or an editor to choose the best take. As incredible as these legends were in our interviews, I knew I had to deliver

 the goods with the actual performances—which didn’t exist. I began to feel like Bogart in a Raymond Chandler film noir

 as I started my search. It wasn’t easy since the magic of theatre is ephemeral by nature—living on only in the memories of

 those who were there. But, little by little I made progress. The incredible archivist Jane Klain turned out to be my Rosetta stone.

 With her help I uncovered footage of Gwen Verdon and Bob Fosse creating Damn Yankees on stage; Robert Goulet re-enacting

 his Camelot  audition over forty years ago; Kim Stanley and Elaine Stritch in Bus Stop—with a live audience, on stage in a 

 Broadway theatre—ditto Ben Gazzara creating the role of “Brick” in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof—footage that he said “could not

 possibly exist,” not to mention Angela Lansbury’s Mame in home movies. My film now opens with footage of Carol Channing,

 not Barbra Streisand, singing “Before the Parade Passes By” from Hello, Dolly! and we hear young Marlon Brando and Jessica

 Tandy (instead of the film’s Vivien Leigh) in the original stage version of A Streetcar Named Desire. I have watched young

 audiences that have never seen live theatre gasp when they experience the legendary star of The Glass Menagerie, Laurette

 Taylor’s only sound film footage in a long lost screen test that has not been seen since David O. Selznick decided not to hire her

 almost seventy years ago. And there is something amazingly thrilling about sitting in a movie theatre—not a Broadway theatre—

 and hearing an entire audience erupt in applause and cheers when John Raitt (not Hollywood’s Gordon MacRae) hits the high B

 flat in “Soliloquy” from Carousel sixty years ago.Live.

 Most of these legends never were allowed to reprise the roles they created in the screen versions. But could they have held their

 own if Hollywood had let them? Look at Kim Stanley (who made a handful of films under duress) in The Goddess, Séance on a

 Wet Afternoon or as Jessica Lange’s mother in Frances; Angela Lansbury in The Manchurian Candidate or All Fall Down; John

 Raitt in Pajama Game; or Ben Gazarra in any of John Cassavettes’s films.

 Clearly they had the chops—and the charisma. But, as Uta Hagen, who created the roles in The Country Girl and Who’s Afraid

 of Virginia Woolf? that Grace Kelly and Elizabeth Taylor went on to win Oscars for, said it pretty well. “I wasn’t tempted to sell

 out to the devil. Actors back then were dreaming that Hollywood might give them hundreds of thousands of dollars so that they

 could do the plays they wanted later, but it never works that way. They either use up the money very quickly or they begin to

 think it is important that they have a Porsche instead of a VW, or that their pool is the biggest on the block. But, they never

 really come back.”

 We might never know what we may have missed if these actors had “gone Hollywood,” but for the first time in history we can

 see these stage legends of the golden age on the silver screen. These stage stars may not have had the chance to have their

 greatest moments immortalized on celluloid, but I like to think that by going back in time and playing detective, we have given

 future generations a chance to be inspired by legends that they might never have known existed.

Brute Force****      1947 


 The film opens on a dark, rainy morning at Westgate Prison. Prisoners crammed into a small cell watch through the window as Joe

 Collins (Burt Lancaster) leaves his term in solitary confinement. Joe is angry and talks about escape. The beleaguered warden is

 under pressure to improve discipline. His chief of security, Capt. Munsey (Hume Cronyn), is a sadist who manipulates prisoners to

 inform on one another and create trouble so he can inflict punishment. The prison doctor (Art Smith) warns that the prison is a

 powder keg and will explode if they are not careful. He denounces Munsey's approach and complains that the public and

 government officials fail to understand the need for rehabilitation. Joe's attorney visits and tells Joe his wife Ruth (Ann Blyth) is not

 willing to have an operation for cancer unless Joe can be there with her. He takes his revenge on fellow inmate Wilson (James

 O'Rear), who at Munsey's instigation had planted a weapon on Joe that earned him a stay in solitary. Joe has organized the brutal

 attack on Wilson in the prison machine shop, but provides himself with an alibi by talking with the doctor in his office while the

 murder occurs.

 Joe presses another inmate, Gallagher (Charles Bickford), to help him escape but Gallagher has a good job at the prison

 newspaper and Munsey has promised him parole soon. Munsey then instigates a prisoner's suicide, giving higher authorities the

 opportunity to revoke all prisoner privileges and cancel parole hearings. Gallagher feels betrayed and decides to join Joe's escape

 plan. Joe and Gallagher plan an assault on the guard tower where they can get access to the lever that lowers a bridge that controls

 access to the prison. While the escape plan is taking shape, each of the inmates in cell R17 tells a story via flashback. In every

 case, his love for a woman got him in trouble with the law. Munsey learns the details of the escape plan from an informer, one of

 the men in cell R17, and the break goes badly. The normally subdued prison yard turns into a violent and bloody riot.

Butler, The****     2013




The Butler is an emotional father/son love story across multiple decades.

The Butler is also a sweeping history of the American civil rights movement, from the cotton-field slavery of the 1920s through the social

 unrest of the 1960s and up to the 2008 election of Barack Obama as the first African-American U.S. president.

To pack all this and more into a two-hour movie seems like madness, especially considering that title character Cecil Gaines (played by

 Forest Whitaker and loosely based on real White House butler Eugene Allen) is required to keep his emotions bottled up for most of the film.

 It’s a bravura feat that is almost entirely interior, a marvel of containment, but we can always intuit what he’s thinking.

Cecil’s job serving America’s top leader requires absolute focus and discretion: “You hear nothing, you say nothing. You only serve,” he’s

 told on Day 1 of his White House assignment.

That’s tough to illustrate, much less make dramatic, but Daniels (PreciousThe Paperboy) has never been one to shirk from a challenge. And

this one comes with the Oscar catnip of not only Whitaker’s shining performance but also strong turns by Oprah Winfrey (as Cecil’s

 alcoholic wife Gloria) and David Oyelowo (as Cecil’s righteous and rebellious son Louis).

The movie opens in current times, with a 90-year-old Cecil staring at a portrait of George Washington, as he awaits a White House meeting

that will symbolize his life’s work and dreams.

Daniels and screenwriter Danny Strong (Game Change) soon flash us back to Cecil’s younger days, as a cotton picker in Macon, Ga., where

he witnesses horrific brutality to his family at the hands of a racist white sharecropper.

A plantation elder (Vanessa Redgrave) takes pity on young Cecil and, in a gesture considered kindly for the era, she promises to train him to be a “house

 n....er",  so he can escape violence.

Some 31 years and a mentor or two later, Cecil finds himself with a wife and two young sons and a new job as butler to President Dwight D. Eisenhower (Robin

Williams) at the start of Ike’s second term of office.

The clock seems to tick faster as Cecil gets to know the White House backstage routines, with the kibitzing help of a cook and a fellow butler,  played by Cuba

Gooding Jr. and Lenny Kravitz, respectively.

He’s obliged to keep up with changing administrations, from Republican to Democratic and back again, as Eisenhower is followed by John F. Kennedy (James

 Marsden), Lyndon B. Johnson (Liev Schreiber), Richard Nixon (John Cusack) and later Ronald Reagan (Alan Rickman). A few presidents are skipped, wisely,

 avoiding a numbing countdown and allowing us to savour presidential turns that sometimes yield to caricature but are never less than entertaining. Some are

even revealing, as is the case with Rickman’s multi-layered Reagan.

Outside of the dignified calm of the White House, there’s a riot goin’ on, with racially charged civil rights confrontations that involve Cecil’s headstrong son

Louis, who is determined to participate in every protest going, from diner sit-ins to Freedom Rides to Black Panther fist-waving.

The life roles of Cecil and Louis couldn’t be different, something Daniels underscores by cutting between scenes of the father sedately serving toffs while the son

is noisily assaulted by racist yokels.

The tension between a father espousing devotion and dignity and a son demanding justice helps maintain continuity in The Butler, as does another subplot

involving Gloria’s depression and her illicit interest in a neighbour (Terrence Howard). Love bonds are really put to the test in the film.

Daniels isn’t the most subtle of directors, but he’s an arresting one. His casting choices are frequently inspired and he can be surprisingly conservative. The

soundtrack, for example, has more classical music in it than it does rock, soul and R&B.

“We got two faces: ours and the ones we’ve got to show white people,” Cecil says in The Butler, giving voice to America’s unjust racial divide. The film

covers a lot of ground with many players, sometimes risking collapse, but it never lets us forget the quest for wholeness at the heart of the story.



Bye Bye Blues****   1989




 Anne Wheeler’s 30-year career as a Canadian filmmaker has been punctuated by many fine moments, among which was the release in 1989 of her third

 feature film, Bye Bye Blues. Nominated for thirteen Genie awards and winner of three awards for best actress (Rebecca Jenkins), best supporting actress (

 Robyn Stevan) and best original song ("When I Sing" by Bill Henderson), Bye Bye Blues was written and directed by Wheeler and produced by the Alberta Motion

 Picture Development Corporation and Allarcom Ltd.

 In all her films, Wheeler attempts to tell authentic stories of ordinary people, especially women, as realistically as she can. In this movie, she has given us the

 story of her mother’s experiences during WW II. After Wheeler’s father was transferred from India to Singapore as a doctor with the British army, her mother

 returned to Canada with her young family; she supported them by singing in a dance band until her husband’s return from a Japanese POW camp at war’s

 end. This movie completes the wartime saga of the Wheeler family, complementing an earlier film, A War Story (1981), which documents the experiences of

 Anne Wheeler’s father during the same era.

 Like so many grass widows in film and literature, Daisy Cooper (Rebecca Jenkins) quite suddenly finds herself alone; the war has taken her man away and

 she must now cope on her own. As an undefended female, her first option is to return to her father’s house, thus reversing the process of marriage, which

 passed her from her father’s care to that of her husband.  Going home is safe, but not necessarily easy. The movie makes this contrast clear by juxtaposing

 rich scenes of colonial privilege under the British Raj with the wintry landscape of a lonely Alberta farm. Daisy will have no servants in Canada. Although she

 is welcomed home, her family has no money. Western Canada has not yet recovered from the Great Depression. And, for some reason, Daisy never receives

 Teddy’s (Michael Ontkean) British army pay.

 Daisy solves her financial woes with a bold move. She will play piano and sing in a local dance band. This decision leaves her open to moral criticism: she is

 a mother and a “good” woman. Yet, she is the only woman in a band that plays in clubs frequented by soldiers. She comes home at all hours smelling of

 tobacco. Her father is furious; he threatens that she cannot continue to live under his roof while still working in the band. This argument triggers her second

 rite of passage: she rents a house in town for her and the children. Now, Daisy has a space that she controls. It is the first, truly independent, adult moment of

 her life.

 The plot ripples out from this decision, each time testing Daisy’s determination to support her family by her own labour. The band begins to find work further and

 further away from the town. As the distance between Daisy and her children grows, a gap widens between her duties as a mother and those of a provider. She

 misses her son’s birthday because of a recording session in Edmonton. She comes home to find her sister-in-law entertaining soldiers instead of putting the

 children to bed on time.

 Not only is Daisy tested as a “good” mother, she is tested as a “good” woman. Over the years, she begins to lose faith that Teddy is still alive. Her letters are all

 returned. Her growing loneliness and despair are complicated by a realization that the band’s trombone player, Max (Luke Reilly), loves her and wants to marry

 her. Daisy’s innate decency has converted Max to a sincere desire for family life.

 Daisy is also tested as a “good” person. She must make moral judgments that have nothing to do with her own emotions. When sister-in-law, Frances (Robyn

 Stevan) finds herself pregnant and asks for money to go to the city for an abortion, Daisy hesitates before agreeing, saying that the older she gets, the less she

 is sure of. 

 Even though Daisy flouts the norm by having paid employment that takes her away from her children, she can still retain a measure of community support

 because so many families are suffering in similar ways in the 1940s. Her mother-in-law, mother and sister-in-law all help her out. The men in the band look

 after her on the road. When a drunk hits Daisy after a performance, the band goes to her rescue.

 In its mid-twentieth century setting, Bye Bye Blues can supply a supportive context for a narrative of female becoming. However, not all treatments of the grass

 widow in Canadian film are as positive. It is useful to compare this movie with Jean Beaudin’s Cordélia, which was released a decade earlier. This tragedy

 about an abandoned wife in a small Québec village in the late nineteenth century has a very different outcome from Anne Wheeler’s film. In the five decades

 that separate the settings of the two movies, society seems to have become more forgiving of women acting outside the home, if just as critical. Nevertheless,

 when the soldiers come home, the women are still expected to leave their paid employment. Daisy’s mother-in-law loses her job as post-mistress. And Teddy’s

 return forces Daisy to decide between the band and her marriage. She will, quite naturally, stay home.

 Bye Bye Blues is a feel-good movie that begs to be watched over and over again. Its coming-of-age plot is full of courage and hope. It is filled with sing-able

 dance band tunes performed beautifully by Rebecca Jenkins. The music alone sets its audience humming and the cinematography shows the central Alberta

 landscape to advantage. The dialogue has an authentic ring. The movie benefits from strong, believable performances and characters with whom any

 audience could relate, including two impossibly cute little kids. But Bye Bye Blues is saved from the merely anodyne by the sum of all its parts; it is quite simply an excellent movie.



Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, The****   1920




 One of my all-time favorite horror films, The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari starts off with a young man named Francis (Friedrich Feher) telling the

 tale  of him and his fiancée Jane’s recent horrors at a fair. Werner Krauss portrays one of the most iconic names in horror, the maniacal

 Dr. Caligari,  in what many consider one of the first true horror films in cinema history. The film revolves around the doctor who has a

 mysterious exhibit at  an annual fair in Holstenwall. The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari features the creepy looking doctor controlling his

 somnambulist Cesare, played  spectacularly by Conrad Veidt (CasablancaThe Man Who Laughs). After Dr. Caligari proclaims his

 somnambulist can prophesize the future,  the zombie-like Cesare awakens to tell a young man he will be dead by dawn. The next morning

 comes and the young man is found dead.  Francis, who accompanied the victim to the fair the day before, suspects Cesare is the murderer.

 Thus begins Francis’ vigilante investigation on both the sleepwalker and the mad doctor.  The next night, Cesare sneaks into the room of the

 beautiful Jane, intent on killing her. Cesare shows a glimmer of humanity by not stabbing Jane, instead abducting her and running from a pack

 of outraged townsfolk who are hunting  down the murderer. One final spark of humanity comes when Cesare gives up and gently lays Jane on

 the ground, then running for a bit more before dying of exhaustion. Amidst all this, Francis is still hot on the trail of Dr. Caligari, bringing a

 group of policemen to Caligari’s abode to investigate. This brings forth one of the most suspense-filled moments in the film, in which we

 realize Cesare is not in Dr. Caligari’s possession at that time and the doctor successfully eludes the policemen. Caligari dashes into an asylum,

 and Francis quickly catches up to him. This is where Francis makes a mortifying discovery, only to slip into madness himself. These days, we

 are suffocated with CGI effects and mindless story lines in far too many horror flicks. People seem to not realize the magic and work that went

 into films of yesterday, particularly this one, which is nearly 100 years old. It’s interesting to note this film was the first German film 

acknowledged in Steven Schneider’s “1001 Movies

 You Must See Before You Die” book. A silent film where all backgrounds were painted on paper and shadows were painted on, The Cabinet 

 Of Dr. Caligari packs a fantastic psychological punch and it certainly deserves all the credit it receives and then some. 


Caged***   1950


A married 19-year-old (played by Eleanor Parker) named Marie Allen is sent to prison, after a botched armed robbery attempt

 with her equally young husband, Tom (who is killed). While receiving her prison physical, she finds out that she is two months

 pregnant. Despite the hardships she is put through under Matron Evelyn Harper, she gives birth to a healthy baby and wants to 

 "temporarily" grant full custody to her mother. The intent is to get the baby back after she is released. However, her mother

 informs Marie that her callous step-father has decided that under no circumstances will he allow the baby into his house, and

 she uses the excuses that she's "too old" and "hasn't a penny in [her] name" as reasons why she can't leave him and help Marie.

 The prison is forced to permanently give the child up for adoption. Marie never sees her baby again. After her exposure to

 hardened criminals and truly sadistic guards, by the end of the film she leaves prison a hardened woman with debts to the

 criminals who helped get her released from jail.


Calender Girls, The****   2003


 When Annie Clarke's husband John dies from leukaemia at an early age, her close friend Chris Harper, anxious to purchase a

 comfortable sofa for the visitors lounge in the hospital where he was treated, hits upon the idea of printing a calendar

 featuring some of the members of the Knapely chapter of the Women's Institute discreetly posing nude while engaged in

 everyday activities, such as baking and knitting, in order to raise funds. Her proposal initially is met with great scepticism,

 but she eventually convinces ten women to participate in the project with her. They enlist one of the hospital workers, an

 amateur photographer named Lawrence, to help them with the concept. The head of the local Women's Institute chapter

 refuses to sanction the calendar, and Chris and Annie go to a national congress of the Women's Institute in London

 to plead their case. They are told the final decision rests with the local leader, who grudgingly agrees to the calendar's sale. The

 initial printing quickly sells out, and before long the tiny village is bombarded with members of the international media

 anxious to report the feel-good story. The women are invited to appear on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in Los Angeles.

 While there, tensions arise between Chris and Annie. All the publicity surrounding the calendar has taken a toll on their personal

 lives, and they lash out at each other in angry frustration. Annie accuses Chris of ignoring her husband and son and the

 demands of the family business in favour of her newfound celebrity, while Chris believes Annie welcomes the Mother Teresa-like

 status to which she's been elevated that allows her to cater to the ill and bereaved who have bombarded her with fan mail. All

 is resolved eventually, and the women return home to resume life as it was before they removed their clothing. 

Call Northside 777***1/2     1948




 In this documentary-inspired thriller, P.J. McNeal (James Stewart) is a reporter who is asked by his editor to look into a potential story: their

 newspaper has been carrying an ad offering a substantial reward for information regarding the murder of a policeman that occurred eleven

 years ago. It turns out the ad was placed by a cleaning woman named Tillie Wiecek (Kasia Orzazewski); her son Frank (Richard Conte)

 was convicted of the crime, but she is thoroughly convinced her son had nothing to do with the killing. McNeal doesn't believe for a moment 

 that Frank could be innocent, but he sees a good human interest story in Tillie and writes a piece that receives a great deal of favorable

 attention. Brian Kelly (Lee J. Cobb), McNeal's editor, thinks there might be more to this story and asks P.J. to look into the original murder

 case. To McNeal's surprise, Frank passes a lie detector test in which he proclaims his innocence, and the more he digs into records on

 the case, the more he finds wrong with the original investigation; some evidence is missing, much is inconclusive, and the reporter begins

 to wonder if Frank might have been railroaded after all, or if the police might be trying to keep something quiet. Call Northside 777 was

 based on a true story. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi 

Candidate, The ***1/2   1972 


 Have you ever been in a situation where you have lost sight of what you are fighting for, become so enmeshed in the battle,

 that the objective has been ignored and ultimately forgotten? ‘The Candidate’ explores the dilemma of Bill McKay, a man who

 is roped in by the Democrats to fight a seemingly impossible battle against the incumbent Californian Republican Senator

 Crocker Jarmon.

 The plot revolves around McKay, son of a former California Governor who has chosen to stay away from politics and works as a

 lawyer. He is approached by Marvin Lucas, an election specialist to contest against Jarmon because no senior Democrat is willing

 to give it a shot. The carrot for McKay is that he is entering a losing battle anyway and he can rant as much as he wants against

 the system and uphold his reform agenda and have his voice heard. But, as the campaign is underway, he finds himself 

 becoming increasingly popular and increasingly similar to the politician that he does not want to end up as. How he deals with

 this dilemma even though he is gaining on his rival is what the film explores. Director Michael Ritchie keeps the treatment less

 dramatic and more realistic as McKay goes about meeting the public on his campaign trial. The key aspect of his direction is

 that he is able to show the discomfort of the man who feels the walls closing in on him as he encounters success after success

 in the election battle, but is further and further away from what he wants to achieve. Robert Redford delivers a passable

 performance as the increasingly suffocated McKay. Being an actor of limitation he does a decent job of showing McKay’s

 frustration, but his expressions are largely one-sided as grumpy or irritated. Melvyn Douglas as McKay's father lends a powerful

 presence as the father who sees his son embrace the same system that he loathed. Peter Boyle, as Lucas plays an able

 supporting role as the spin doctor, who manages McKay’s campaign and image. Redford and Boyle display good chemistry on

 screen as they trade opinions and viewpoints. The final scene of the film between the two characters is most weighty.

Capote*****     2005





 The creation of one of the most memorable books of the 1960s -- and the impact the writing and research would have on its author -- is explored in this drama

 based on a true story. In 1959, Truman Capote (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman) was a critically acclaimed novelist who had earned a small degree of 

 celebrity for his work when he read a short newspaper item about a multiple murder in a small Kansas town. For some reason, the story fascinated Capote,

 and he asked William Shawn (Bob Balaban), his editor at The New Yorker, to let him write a piece about the case. Capote had long believed that in the right

 hands, a true story could be molded into a tale as compelling as any fiction, and he believed this event, in which the brutal and unimaginable was visited upon

 a community where it was least expected, could be just the right material. Capote traveled to Kansas with his close friend Harper Lee (Catherine Keener),

 herself becoming a major literary figure with the success of To Kill a Mockingbird, and while Capote's effete and mannered personal style stuck out like a sore

 thumb in Kansas, in time he gained the trust of Alvin Dewey (Chris Cooper), the Kansas Bureau of Investigation agent investigating the murder of the Clutter

 family, and with his help Capote's magazine piece grew into a full-length book. Capote also became familiar with the petty criminals who killed the Clutter

 family, Dick Hickock (Mark Pellegrino) and Perry Smith (Clifton Collins Jr.), and in Smith he found a troubling kindred spirit more like himself than he wanted to

 admit. After attaining a sort of friendship with Smith under the assumption that the man would be executed before the book was ever published, Capote finds

 himself forced to directly confront the moral implications of his actions with regards to both his role in the man's death, and the way that he would be

 remembered. Capote also co-stars Bruce Greenwood as Capote's longtime companion Jack Dunphy, and Amy Ryan as Mary Dewey, Alvin's wife who became

 a confidante of Capote's. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi


Captain Blood***1/2   1935


 Arrested during the Monmouth Rebellion and falsely convicted of treason, Dr. Peter Blood is banished to the West Indies and

 sold into slavery. In Port Royal, Jamaica the Governor's daughter Arabella Bishop buys him for £10 to spite her uncle, Col. Bishop

 who owns a major plantation. Life is hard for the men and for Blood as well. By chance he treats the Governor's gout and is

 soon part of the medical service. He dreams of freedom and when the opportunity strikes, he and his friends rebel taking over

 a Spanish ship that has attacked the city. Soon, they are the most feared pirates on the seas, men without a country attacking

 all ships. When Arabella is prisoner, Blood decides to return her to Port Royal only to find that it is under the control of 

 England's new enemy, France. All of them must decide if they are to fight for their new King. Written by garykmcd 

Captain January****    1924




 A decade before Shirley Temple there was Baby Peggy, one of the biggest child stars of the silent era. Born Peggy-Jean Montgomery in

 1918, she began her film career entirely by chance at just 19 months old. Her father Jack Montgomery, a former cowboy and horse

 trainer, moved his family to Los Angeles and found work as a stunt-double for western star Tom Mix. One day Peggy’s mother, with

 children in tow, visited Century Studios on Sunset Boulevard’s Poverty Row, and when director Fred Fishbach came across the dark-eyed,

 curiously self-possessed Peggy, he knew he had found his costar for Century’s own Brownie the Wonder Dog.

 At the end of five days’ filming, Century Studios signed the toddler to a seven year, $300-a-month contract. Soon she began starring

 in her own Baby Peggy Comedies, an incredibly popular series of two-reelers that parodied fairy tales, novels, current Hollywood films,

 and grand opera. Audiences marveled that two-and-a-half-year-old Baby Peggy, who played satirical adult roles, both male and female,

 was able to perform these parts, including takeoffs of Rudolph Valentino and Pola Negri. Her father, who had difficulty accepting that his

 baby daughter had become the family breadwinner, took credit for the Baby Peggy phenomenon. An expert trainer of horses and dogs,

 Jack Montgomery applied his belief in absolute obedience to his daughter. He insisted on supervising Peggy on the set, directing her with

 hand signals and spoken commands. Baby Peggy herself deserves credit for bringing her own instinctive touches to the performances. 

Turning out these two-reelers, dubbed “Five-Day Wonders,” was not easy. Her eight-hour workday, six days a week, started at 7 a.m. with

 no time for the nap now required by California child labor laws. Scripts called for location shooting and increasingly put Baby Peggy in

 dangerous situations, from being dunked in ten-foot waves to nearly being tossed from a speeding truck. Surrounded only by adults,

 Peggy assumed that all children supported their parents, and by age three she sensed that the family’s fate — and improved lifestyle —

 depended on her. She viewed the child on-screen as a separate person, initiating a psychological detachment from Baby Peggy that

 endured until adulthood. The Peggy-Jean Corporation moved to Universal Studios in 1922, and Peggy was guaranteed roles in

 feature-length films that emphasized melodrama over comedy. Her continuing box-office success put her in the same league as another

 contemporary child actor, Jackie Coogan. In 1923, she became a “Million Dollar Baby” when producer Sol Lesser of Principal Pictures

 signed her to an extraordinary $1.5 million contract. With money and fame came personal appearances, magazine covers, international

 fan mail, Baby Peggy dolls, and Baby Peggy look-alike contests. In 1924, she was chosen as mascot for the Democratic National

 Convention and appeared at a rally in Madison Square Garden with Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Captain January was the first film she

 made under the terms of her new contract; she starred in just one more feature for Sol Lesser, Helen’s Babies (1924), before her career

 took a series of disastrous turns. Her step-grandfather, who had also been her business manager, absconded with every penny of her

 earnings. Jack Montgomery’s bitter arguments with producers succeeded in getting Baby Peggy blacklisted from studios, and her last

 starring role, The April Fool (1926), was filmed on Poverty Row. Unable to relinquish their stake in Baby Peggy, her parents dragged her

 on an arduous vaudeville tour. In the mid-1930s, Peggy enrolled in a school for professional movie children attended by child stars Judy

 Garland and Mickey Rooney and appeared in bit parts well into her teens under her full name, Peggy Montgomery. Never addicted to

 fame, she took advantage of hard times to escape her Baby Peggy alter ego. 

Carry on Screaming***   1966

 The British "Carry On" films were the ultimate example of British humour over a period

 beginning in the late fifties. It is what I call "tits and ass" humour. It is very physical and

 impersonal, which makes it very underogatory and universal. The suggestiveness comes from

 blundering and comical misuse of the English language.  This compares to American humour

 which is more personally suggestive, and more injected with cynicism. Benny Hill was the further

 extent and less subtle version of this this type of humour, while Monty Python often used

 physical humour at it's simplest but juxtaposes it with absurdity. 



htt8 p://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jPn4g-eR4

One of several satirical films in the British "Carry On" series, this is a broad spoof of horror films in general and of Universal

monster movies in particular. The buffoonish heroes -- a pair of inept Scotland Yard inspectors named Bung and Slowbottom --

are investigating the disappearance of several women in the vicinity of Hocomb Woods when they cross paths with mad

scientist Dr. Watt (Kenneth Williams) and his slinky, sexy vampire sister Valaria (Fenella Fielding), both of whom have been

turning the abducted women into statues. Joining in the fun are the resident werewolf, the mummy, a pseudo-Frankenstein

monster and a gaggle of ghouls resurrected by Watt's diabolical experiments. Goofy fun for those looking for a decidedly British

take on Addams Family-style monster antics. ~ Cavett Binion, Rovi

Other favourites:

Carry on Nurse 1959

Carry on Teacher 1959

Carry on Spying 1964

Carry on...Up the Khyber 1968

Carry on Camping 1969

Casino****    1995 


 The running of a modern casino involves more than just blackjack tables, and slot machines. In the movie Casino, it involves

 mob connections, skimming off the top, and hitman to whack your enemies or persuade your "friends." The movie stars the

 trio of Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone, and Joe Pesci. Robert Dinero plays the manager of the Casino. Sharon Stone is his wife, and Joe

 Pesci plays the role of the "fixer" that takes care of the various loose ends that can enter into the scene. Everything is going well

 when the casino is going well. The mob got large bags of money each day so they could evade taxes. But as the film progresses

 the bags get progressively smaller. It becomes difficult to convince them that money counters who skim off the top are just

 going to steal some for themselves too. Suspicion abounds and bad times are ahead. Dinero has troubles with his wife. 

 Joe Pesci stabs someone who insults the casino boss in one scene and promtly sets out to dispose of the body. The movie ends

 with a mob fearful of people testifying against them. A group of old mob bosses kill Pesci and one of his associates with

 baseball bats. Sometimes running a casino is about more than glamour and glitz and the chief characters of this film discover 

 that all to painfully.

Catered Affair, The ****   1956


 As New Yorker Tom Hurley completes his shift, his friend, Sam Leiter, tells him the cab they have been wanting to purchase is
 available at an affordable price. Thrilled that his dream of owning his own cab is about to come true, Tom returns to his
 cramped Bronx apartment to find his wife, grown children and brother-in-law just beginning their day. Daughter Jane remarks
 that as her fiancé, Ralph Halloran, has been asked to drive a car to California on the following Tuesday, she and Ralph have
 decided to get married beforehand and honeymoon on the way. Jane's mother Aggie wants to give her daughter a big wedding, 
 but Jane insists that there be "no wedding reception, no nothin'," just a simple ceremony with immediate family. When Aggie
 breaks the news to her Irish-born brother Jack, who has lived in the Hurley apartment for the past twelve years, he is thoroughly
 delighted. Upon learning that he is not invited to the wedding, however, Uncle Jack indignantly exits the apartment. News of the
 impending marriage travels quickly, and at the fish market, Aggie is besieged with questions from curious friends and neighbors.
 Why the rush, they ask, is Jane in trouble? Ralph's parents, who live in a nicer part of town, also want a big wedding, and while
 having dinner at the Hurley apartment that evening, they reminisce about the grand affairs they staged for Ralph's sisters. Just
 then, Uncle Jack stumbles in and drunkenly announces that because the couple does not consider him part of the immediate
 family, he will be moving out in the morning. Embarrassed by Jack's behavior and ashamed of her family's sorry financial
 situation, Aggie insists that Jane have a large wedding, even though, as Tom reminds her, the expense will deplete their
 savings. Aggie's regrets about her own unceremonious wedding following her brother's offering money to Tom to marry her,
 and the disappointing years of marriage that followed it, trouble her so deeply that Jane finally consents to having a catered
 affair. Jane's best friend Alice, who is to be the matron of honor, meets mother and daughter at a bridal salon, but later, she
 shamefully confesses that her husband has lost his job and that she has no money for a dress. That afternoon, while interviewing
 the caterer at the Hotel Concourse Plaza, Tom repeatedly expresses horror at the cost of the food, flowers and limousines, and
 that night, Jane learns that Ralph's mother has invited twice as many guests as she had originally listed. On Sunday, Sam arrives
 to discuss the cab partnership, and as Jane listens, her father explains that he will be unable to participate. Uncle Jack
 announces that he has given a wedding invitation to his good friend, Mrs. Rafferty, and when Tom forbids this, Jack again
 threatens to move out. Aggie argues with Tom, and as the shouting reaches its peak, Jane exclaims that she is calling off the
 wedding. Later, Ralph and Jane meet Alice and her husband Bill, who have borrowed money in order to participate in the wedding.
 Touched, Jane explains that the wedding will be small, as originally planned. Meanwhile, Jack and Mrs. Rafferty decide that as
 he is moving out of the Hurley house anyway, they should marry and share an apartment. Realizing that when her son leaves for
 Fort Dix in the fall, she will be alone with her husband for the first time since they were married, Aggie bursts into tears. Tom
 protests that Aggie should have offered him sympathy rather than criticism for being unable to provide a better life for his
 children, and when she refuses to listen, he gets drunk and falls asleep. On the morning of the wedding, Aggie gazes at her
 sleeping husband, and when he finally awakens, she admits that she was wrong. The important thing, she declares, is that
 together, they witness their daughter's marriage. Aggie then telephones Sam, who drives the now happy couple to church in the
 new cab.

Chance at Heaven****   1933


 After two years of dating, Blackstone "Blacky" Gorman, the owner of a gas station in the resort town of Silver Beach,

 Massachusetts, finally proposes to Marje Harris, his devoted girl friend. Soon after, however, the wealthy, pretty Glory Franklyn

 moves to Silver Beach with her family, and the moment she sees handsome Blacky, she falls in love. Blacky falls for Glory's

 deliberate, youthful charms, and allows himself to be swayed by her teary tales of parental tyranny. Wise to Blacky's activities

 and feelings, Marje nobly terminates their engagement, freeing him to propose to Glory. Although her status-conscious mother

 strongly disapproves of Blacky, Glory elopes with him and moves into his small house, an act of defiance that fuels the gossip

 columns and makes Blacky an overnight celebrity. Because she still loves Blacky, Marje happily instructs the childish Glory on

 how to be a proper housewife, redecorating the house with her and even showing her how to make Blacky's favorite dish,

 chicken pie. When Glory discovers she is pregnant, however, she panics, suddenly realizing the seriousness of the marriage

 "game," and flees to New York to be with her mother. After several months of separation, Blacky learns from Marje that his

 wife is leaving for California and rushes to New York to stop her. No longer pregnant, a coldly matured Glory informs Blacky that

 she wants out of the marriage. Heartbroken, Blacky drifts for a time, but eventually returns to Silver Beach and his faithful


Changeling****1/2     2008


 Inspired by actual events that occurred in 1920s-era Los Angeles, Clint Eastwood's The Changeling tells the story of a woman

 driven to confront a corrupted LAPD after her abducted son is retrieved and she begins to suspect that the boy returned to her

 is not the same boy she gave birth to. The year was 1928, and the setting a working-class suburb of Los Angeles. As Christine

 (Angelina Jolie) said goodbye to her son, Walter, and departed for work, she never anticipated that this was the day her life

 would be forever changed. Upon returning home, Christine was distressed to discover that Walter was nowhere to be found.

 Over the course of the following months, the desperate mother would launch a search that would ultimately prove fruitless.

 Yet just when it seemed that all hope was lost, a nine-year-old boy claiming to be Christine's son seemed to appear out of thin

 air. Overcome with emotions and uncertain how to face the authorities or the press, Christine invites the child to stay in her

 home despite knowing without a doubt that he is not her son. As much as Christine would like to accept the fact that her son

 has been returned to her, she cannot accept the injustice being pushed upon her and continues to challenge the Prohibition-era

 Los Angeles police force at every turn. As a result, Christine is slandered by the powers that be, and painted as an unfit mother.

 In this town, a woman who challenges the system is putting her life on the line, and as the situation grows desperate, the only

 person willing to aid her in her search is benevolent local activist Reverend Briegleb (John Malkovich). - Jason Buchanan, Rovi

Charade****   1963

 Another Hitchcock masterpiece that once again, possibly his most supreme example,  balances suspense

 and comedy. This was Audrey Hepburn's only partnership with Cary Grant and there performances are so

 smooth that they look as compatible as Hepburn (the other one) and Tracy. The script crackles and is

 surprisingly suggestive for a major studio productin, but Hitchcock was always ahead of his time with

 witty provocation. As is always the case, Hitchcock unites the setting with the state of mind of the

 characters. the dizzying chase through the subway tunnels, perfectly parallels the head-spinning

 confusion being experienced by Regina Lambert. George Kennedy, Walter Matthau and James Coburn

 play tastefully over-the top villains. 


 Often described as "the best Hitchcock movie Hitchcock never made," Charade stars Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn in a

 sparkling thriller with overtones of screwball romantic comedy — or is it the other way around?

 Directed by Stanley Donen, Charade’s blend of genres allows it to have its cake and eat it too. The thrilleresque double-crosses

 and reversals pull the rug out from under the initially naive Hepburn, making her deeply skeptical and suspicious of everyone

 and everything; yet the element of romantic comedy calls for her to learn to trust and love Grant despite the web of uncertainty

 that surrounds them both.

 On the surface Charade seems cynical and morally ambiguous, as we meet a heroine who talks of divorcing her husband and a

 hero who seems to be divorced, though nothing is certain where he’s concerned. Ultimately, though, the film reveals its

 reassuringly principled intentions.

 Grant and Hepburn have considerable charisma and chemistry, and Walter Matthau, James Coburn, and George Kennedy enliven

 the proceedings in strong supporting roles. Terrific action sequences include a sprawling fight scene that ends on a hotel roof

 and a riveting climactic showdown. The film’s real climax, though, is the romantic final scene.

Charge of the Light Brigade, The****          1936




 In 1854, Major Geoffrey Vickers (Errol Flynn) and his brother, Captain Perry Vickers (Patric Knowles), are stationed at the fictional city of Chukoti in

 India, with the 27th Lancers of the British Army during the period of East India Company dominance over theIndian subcontinent. Perry has secretly

 betrayed Geoffrey by stealing the love of his fiancee Elsa (Olivia de Havilland).

 During an official visit to local tributary rajah, Surat Khan (C. Henry Gordon), Geoffrey saves the rajah's life. Later, Surat Khan massacres the

 inhabitants of Chukoti (mainly the dependents of the lancers), and allies himself with the Russians, whom the British are fighting in the Crimean War.

 He spares Elsa and Geoffrey as they flee the slaughter to repay his debt to Geoffrey.

 The love triangle and the quest for vengeance are both resolved at the Battle of Balaclava (Balaklava). Aware that Surat Khan is inspecting the Russian

 position opposite the 27th Lancers, Geoffrey Vickers secretly replaces the written orders of Sir Charles Macefield (Henry Stephenson) to the

 commander of the Light Brigade, Sir Benjamin Warrenton (Nigel Bruce). Vickers orders the famous suicidal attack so the lancers can avenge the

 Chukoti massacre. He writes a note to Macefield explaining his actions and forces his brother to deliver it, sparing him from almost certain death.

 Just as in real life, the attack succeeds in reaching the Russian artillery positions. There, Vickers finds and kills Surat Khan, at the cost of his own life.


Childhood of Maxim Gorky, The****1/2    1938





The affinity of Russian writer Maxim Gorky (born Alexei Pyeshkov) for the downtrodden and the outcasts of society is easily understandable after

 watching this account of his preadolescence. Brought by his widowed mother to live with her parents, young Alexei

 watches as a family celebration turns from joyous to violent, dramatizing the enmity between his grandfather and the

 old man's two worthless sons, who labor in his dye works and resent their father's penny-pinching ways. The party

 sets the tone for the film's events, which alternate between moments of childhood happiness and sorrow. The

 constant is Alexei's search for friendship; he first finds it in two father figures, "Gypsy" (Daniil Sagal), an apprentice

 to his grandfather, and Grigor, the foreman, but both men are victimized by tragedies, and when his grandfather's

 business suffers a catastrophic loss (implicitly blamed on one of the uncles), the spiral toward poverty begins. Alexei's

 determination to educate himself and to protect his kindly grandmother from physical assault by her increasingly

 erratic husband prefigure his own transformation into a literary giant. Director Mark Donskoi skillfully captures the

 mood swings of Alexei's life, offering an unflinching look at his impoverished circumstances but also dramatizing how

 the optimism of youth is an instinctive survival technique in any country at any time. ~ Tom Wiener, Rovi



Read more: 

Children's Hour, The ****   1961 


 Karen Wright and Martha Dobie are the head-mistresses of a small private school for girls. Their major disciplinary problem is

 12-year-old Mary Tilford, the granddaughter of the town's most influential citizen. When the child is punished for telling a lie,

 she runs to her grandmother and tells another--and much more devastating--lie from which it may be inferred that the two

 teachers are having an "unnatural" relationship. Although Mary herself only dimly understands what she has said, the effect upon

 her shocked grandmother is obvious; and Mary elaborates upon her story. Horrified, Mrs. Tilford takes Mary out of the school

 and urges other guardians and parents to do the same. Karen and Martha, forced into taking drastic action, bring a slander suit

 against Mrs. Tilford but lose the much-publicized case when their chief witness, Martha's irresponsible Aunt Lily, deserts them

 under pressure and refuses to testify in their behalf. Not only is the school destroyed, but Karen realizes that Mary's lie has even

 created doubts in the mind of her fiancé, Dr. Joe Cardin. After she has released him, Karen suggests to Martha that they go

 away somewhere to make new lives for themselves. But the scandal has brought to Martha the terrible realization that the child's

 lie has uncovered a suppressed emotion, and she hysterically confesses her love for Karen. Then, sick with despair, she hangs

 herself. The vicious lie is eventually exposed, but for Karen it is too late: following Martha's funeral, she walks silently past Joe,

 Mrs. Tilford, and the other  repentant townspeople.

China Syndrome, The****    1979 





This gripping 1979 drama about the dangers of nuclear power carried an extra jolt when a real-life accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in

 Pennsylvania occurred just weeks after the film opened. Kimberly Wells (Jane Fonda) is a TV reporter trying to advance from fluff pieces to harder news.

 Wells and cameraman Richard Adams (Michael Douglas, who also produced) are doing a story on energy when they happen to witness a near-meltdown at

 a local nuclear plant, averted only by quick-thinking engineer Jack Godell (Jack Lemmon). While Wells and Adams fruitlessly attempt to get the story on their

 station, Godell begins his own investigation and discovers that corporate greed and cost-trimming have led to potentially deadly faults in the plant's construction.

 He provides evidence of the faulty equipment, which could lead to another meltdown (the "China syndrome" of the title), to the station's soundman to deliver to

 Wells and Adams at a hearing on nuclear power. However, on the way to the hearing, the soundman is run off the road by evil henchmen, leading Godell to

 realize that his own life is threatened, possibly by his bosses at the plant. Driven to the edge of a breakdown, Godell takes over the plant's control room at

 gunpoint and demands to reveal his findings on TV. The plant's management, however, has other plans, and the facility itself is becoming dangerously

 unstable. Whether or not you agree with the film's clear anti-nuclear bias, its sobering message and riveting, realistic story and performances are still

 difficult to ignore. ~ Don Kaye, Rovi 

Christmas In Connecticut ***1/2  1945


 Although Elizabeth Lane, author of the popular magazine column "Diary of a Housewife," lives alone in a New York apartment and

 cannot cook, she writes about a bucolic life on a Connecticut farm with her husband and child and publishes as her own recipes

 she obtains from her chef friend, Felix Bassenak. During his recovery, Nurse Mary Lee reads Elizabeth's column to injured war

 hero Jefferson Jones and, hoping to interest Jeff in marriage, writes to Jonathan Yardley, the magazine's publisher, asking him

 to arrange for Jeff to spend Christmas on Elizabeth's farm. Yardley, who is a stickler for the truth, has no idea that Elizabeth has

 been inventing the details in her column and insists that she invite Jeff for the holidays. To make matters worse, Yardley invites

 himself to join them. Convinced that she is about to lose her job, Elizabeth accepts the marriage proposal of her friend,

 architect John Sloan, even though she does not love him. When Elizabeth's editor, Dudley Beecham, learns that John owns a

 Connecticut farm, however, he suggests that they use it to recreate the situation she has devised for the column. John arranges

 for the local judge to marry them at the farm, and Felix agrees to do the cooking. The practical John even arranges for a

 stand-in baby--one that his maid Norah cares for while its mother is at work in a defence plant. The planned marriage ceremony

 is interrupted when Jeff arrives earlier than scheduled. Elizabeth is immediately attracted to him and begins to regret her

 promise to marry John. Yardley's arrival completes the party. Elizabeth successfully carries out her deception despite a slight

 setback when she learns that the baby is a girl, not a boy as she first assumed. Felix, pretending to be Elizabeth's uncle, cooks

 a wonderful meal, and while Elizabeth decorates the Christmas tree, Jeff sings Christmas carols. After everyone has gone to

 bed, the judge returns, but once again the wedding is canceled when Yardley and Jeff sneak downstairs for a snack. When Jeff

 helps Elizabeth put the cow in the barn, she discovers that he is also attracted to her. On Christmas morning, Elizabeth 

 confides in Felix, who eagerly comes to her aid. When the judge returns, Felix lies that the baby has swallowed a watch, and

 once again the wedding is postponed. That evening, at a community dance, Jeff and Elizabeth have eyes only for each other.

 They take a walk outside and sit in a sleigh to continue their conversation. Feeling their weight, the horse wanders off, and the

 couple is arrested for stealing the sleigh. Meanwhile, Yardley has returned to the farm and sees the baby's mother carrying her

 out. He believes that the baby has been kidnapped and notifies the police. In the morning, Elizabeth and Jeff return home, and

 Elizabeth tells the incredulous Yardley the truth. Furious at the deception, Yardley fires Elizabeth. Then Elizabeth and John

 quarrel and break up. The way seems clear for Elizabeth to marry Jeff, but her hopes are dashed when Mary arrives and

 announces that she is Jeff's fiancée. Soon, however, Felix learns that Mary has married another man and then convinces Yardley

 to rehire Elizabeth. Although Yardley offers Elizabeth a raise and offers John a contract as well, Elizabeth refuses to return. Then

 Jeff proposes, even though Felix warns him that Elizabeth cannot cook.

Cider House Rules, The****1/2     1999  

 Homer Wells (Tobey Maguire), an orphan, is the film's protagonist. He grew up in an orphanage directed by Dr. Wilbur Larch

 (Michael Caine) after being returned twice by foster parents. His first foster parents thought he was too quiet and the second

 parents beat him. Dr. Larch is addicted to ether and is also secretly an abortionist. Larch trains Homer in obstetrics and

 abortions as an apprentice, despite Homer never even having attended high school.

 The film continues as Homer decides to leave the orphanage with Candy Kendall (Charlize Theron) and her boyfriend, Wally

 Worthington (Paul Rudd), a young couple who work at the Worthington family apple orchard. They had come to the clinic to have

 an abortion. Wally leaves to fight in World War II. While Wally is away, Homer and Candy have an affair. Later, Wally's plane

 is shot down and he is paralyzed from the waist down. When he returns home, Candy takes care of him and leaves Homer.

 While he is away from the orphanage, Homer lives on the Worthington estate. He goes to work picking apples with Arthur Rose's

 (Delroy Lindo) team. Arthur and his team are migrant workers who are employed seasonally at the orchard by the Worthingtons.

 Mr. Rose impregnates his own daughter (Erykah Badu), and Homer, who disapproves of abortions, realizes that in Rose's case,

 he must perform one for her. Later, when Arthur makes another amorous advance toward his daughter, she stabs him, and as a

 last request, the dying Arthur asks the other workers to tell the police that his death was a suicide. Eventually Homer decides to

 return to the orphanage after Dr. Larch's death from inhaling an ether overdose, and works as the new director. At the end of

 the film, Homer learns that Larch had faked Homer's medical record to keep him out of the war, and later made fake credentials

 for Homer in order to convince the board overseeing the orphanage to appoint him as the next director. Finally, Homer fills the

 paternal role that Larch previously held for the children of the orphanage.

City Lights****   1931


 The plot centers around Chaplin's tramp, broke and homeless he runs into a drunken millionaire and talks him out of committing

 suicide. A running gag throughout the film is that when the millionaire is drunk he is the best of friends with the tramp right up

 until he sobers up and cannot remember him. The millionaire takes to the tramp as his "best friend for life," giving him nice

 clothes, going to parties and even giving him his Rolls Royce. The tramp meets a poor blind girl whom he sees selling flowers on

 the street. He falls in love with her and when the girl mistakes him for a millionaire he keeps up the charade.

 To keep up the illusion that he is wealthy while the millionaire is traveling abroad in Europe, he gets a job as a street sweeper.

 The tramp learns that the girl's rent is overdue and she and her grandmother are in danger of being evicted from their

 apartment. However the Tramp must find a way to raise the $22 overnight after losing his sweeping job. In one of the funniest 

 and most memorable scenes he enters a boxing contest to raise money for the girl, which also fails. Eventually it is a casual gift

 of one thousand dollars from the returning millionaire which will pay for not only the rent but also an operation for the girl's eyes

 the Tramp read about in the paper. Unfortunately like many of the tramp's efforts things go wrong and he is mistakenly accused

 of stealing  the money when the millionaire is sober. The tramp manages to get the money to the girl, telling her that he is

 going away shortly, before he is arrested and imprisoned.

 Several months later, the tramp has been released, and, searching for the little flower girl, he goes back to the street corner

 where he first saw her, but she isn't there..he goes further into the city, next to where the flower girl, with her sight restored,

 has opened up a flower shop with her grandmother. Every time a rich man comes into the shop the girl wonders if he was her

 mysterious benefactor. When the tramp sees a flower lying in the gutter he bends over to pick it up and is kicked in the seat of

 his pants by two schoolboys. The girl laughs and when the tramp turns around he sees her through the store window, he stares

 in disbelief and joy. The girl jokes to her co-worker that she has "made a conquest." Seeing the flower fall apart in his hand, the

 girl offers him one of her flowers and a coin. The tramp begins to scurry away then stops and slowly reaches for the flower. The

 girl then takes hold of his hand and places the coin in. But, in a wonderfully  under-played final scene, when she feels his hand,

 she slowly and beautifully realizes who he is... "You?" she says, and he nervously nods, asking, "You can see now?" She squeezes

 his hand and whispers, "Yes, I can see now," holding back her tears and appearing uncertain as to how she feels or what to do,

 as the film closes and fades on Chaplin's emotional smile of love and achievement.

Closely Watched Trains****1/2   1966


 Germany is losing at all her fronts at the end of the Second World War. Young Miloš Hrma is engaged as an unpaid employee in

 a small railway station. The stationmaster, an enthusiastic pigeon-breeder, has a kind wife, but is envious of the train

 dispatcher Hubička's success with women. Miloš holds a platonic love for young conductor Máša. The experienced Hubička tries

 to explain to him the "matters of love" and discovers that Miloš is a virgin.

 The idyll of the railway station is disturbed by the arrival of the councillor, Zednicek, a Nazi supporter. Máša spends the night

 with Miloš, but he finds no success and, the next day, he attempts suicide. He is saved, and the doctor explains to him that

 ejaculatio praecox is normal at Miloš's age. The doctor recommends that Miloš seek the assistance of an experienced woman.

 During the nightshift, Hubička flirts with the telegraphist, Zdenička, and imprints her buttocks with the office's rubber stamps.

 Her mother complains to Hubička's superiors. The scandal prevents the stationmaster from becoming inspector. The Germans

 are nervous, since their trains are attacked and blown up by the partisans. An attack is also planned for this station.

 Young artiste Viktoria Freie delivers a bomb to the station. At Hubička's request, Viktoria also helps Miloš to "resolve" his

 problem with virginity. The encouraged Miloš sets up the booby-trap himself. The endeavor is successful, but the young man

 also dies during the course of events.[1]

Coal Miner's Daughter, The****     1980     




Loretta Lynn was one of the first female superstars in country music and remains a defining presence within the genre; with her strong, clear, hard-country voice

 and tough, no-nonsense songs about husbands who cheat and wives who weren't about to be pushed around, Lynn introduced a feminist mindset to Nashville

 years before the phrase "women's liberation" became common currency. Coal Miner's Daughter is a screen adaptation of Lynn's autobiography, starring Sissy

 Spacek as Loretta Lynn. One of eight children born to Ted Webb (Levon Helm), a coal miner raising a family despite grinding poverty in Butcher's Holler, KY,

 Loretta married Dolittle "Mooney" Lynn (Tommy Lee Jones) when she was only 13 years old. A mother of four by the time she was 20, Lynn began singing the

 occasional song at local honky-tonks on weekends, and at 25, she cut (at Mooney's suggestion) a demo tape that earned her a deal with an independent

 record label. Loretta and Mooney's tireless promotion of the record (including a long road trip through the south in which they stopped at every country radio

 station they could find) paid off -- Loretta's first single, "Honky Tonk Girl," hit the charts and earned her a spot on the Grand Ole Opry. Stardom called and Loretta

 never looked back, but success brought with it both joy (a long string of hit records and sold-out concerts and a close friendship with Patsy Cline) and sorrow

 (a nervous breakdown brought on by overwork and a great deal of stress to a marriage that endured -- but just barely). Sissy Spacek won an Academy award

 for her vivid, thoroughly natural performance as Loretta (she also did her own singing), and Levon Helm (drummer for the legendary rock group the Band) made

 an impressive screen debut as her father. Ernest Tubb makes a cameo appearance as himself. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi 

Cold Turkey***   1971


 "Cold Turkey" is a satirical comedy film released in 1971. It stars a long list of comedic actors, several of whom are well-known

 to North American television audiences. The film was directed, co-produced and co-written by Norman Lear and is based on the

 novel "I'm Giving Them Up for Good" by Margaret and Neil Rau. "Cold Turkey" features original music by Randy Newman including

 "He Gives Us All His Love", a sparsely-arranged ballad with gospel influence that serves as the film's theme song. The film was

 made in 1969, but was shelved for two years by the distributor due to concerns about its box-office potential. As part of a public

 relations and marketing strategy, a large tobacco company offers $25,000,000 (about $126,000,000 in 2007 dollars) to any town

 that can stop smoking for thirty days. Rev. Clayton Brooks (Dick Van Dyke), a kindly minister, leads his community

 (population 4,006) to accept the challenge and strives to help them find the strength to succeedWanting to see the townspeople

 fail, the tobacco company sends flunky Merwin Wren (Bob Newhart) to undermine their efforts by targeting the weaker-willed

 members of the community such as alcoholic Edgar Stopworth (Tom Poston), elderly Dr. Proctor (Barnard Hughes) and

 anxiety-ridden Mrs. Wappler (Jean Stapleton). The attention of newscasters (Bob and Ray) turns the community's efforts into a

 matter of highly-publicized failure or success.

Come and Get It***1/2    1935



The story focuses on ruthless Barney Glasgow (Edward Arnold), who will stop at nothing to achieve his goal as he rises in rank from

lowly lumberjack to the head of the logging industry in 19th century Wisconsin. His determination to succeed eventually leads him

to end his relationship with saloon singer Lotta Morgan (Frances Farmer) and marry Emma Louise Hewitt (Mary Nash), the daughter 

of his boss Jed Hewett (Charles Halton), in order to secure a partnership in his business.

Two decades later, Barney and Emma Louise's son Richard (Joel McCrea) strongly objects to his father's practice of destroying

forests without planting new trees. Barney visits his old friend Swan Bostrom (Walter Brennan), who married Lotta when Barney

rejected her. Swan is now a widower raising a daughter, also named Lotta (also played by Frances Farmer), who bears a striking

 resemblance to her mother. Barney finds himself attracted to the girl and, foolishly hoping to recapture the love he abandoned as

 a young man, offers to finance her education. Complications arise when Richard meets Lotta and takes a strong interest in her,

 which is reciprocated, much to Barney's displeasure and jealousy.

Comic, The ****   1969


 This is a movie seen by few, but what a classic. Dick van Dyke performs brilliantly as the pathetic

 has-been Billy Bright, who was once a silent film star. He narrates the story which is truly poignant and

 touching. Michelle Lee is captivating as his former wife and a former star, who left him years before for

 his abusive behavior. The scene 'forget-me-nots' is a brilliant skit by Van Dyke and Lee, which is

 reminiscent of the Charlie Chaplin/Virginia Cherrill scene from City Lights. Surprisingly it compares to

 that original clsassic performance. Mickey Rooney is the perfect side-kick, playing 'Cock-eye'. Dick Van

 Dyke demonstrates here that he is a brilliant pantomimist who has capabilities and technique similar to

 Buster Keaton and Stan Laurel. This could very well have been an Academy Award winning performance. 

 Bright (Dick Van Dyke), a silent-era film comedian, narrates this film which begins at his character's funeral and tells his life

 story in flashbacks. At the funeral his sidekick Cockeye (Mickey Rooney) honors his last request by hitting the preacher in the

 face with a pieBright was a popular silent picture comedian in the era of Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel. He

 has difficulty making the transition to talkies, and sinks into despair and alcoholism. Bright's wife Mary (Michele Lee) becomes

 alienated by his drunk and abusive behavior. Steve Allen (as himself) revives Bright's career towards the end of his life.

 Billy Bright (Dick Van Dyke), a silent-era film comedian, narrates this film which begins at his character's funeral and tells his life

 story in flashbacks. At the funeral his sidekick Cockeye (Mickey Rooney) honors his last request by hitting the preacher in the

 face with a pie.

Bright was a popular silent picture comedian in the era of Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel. He has difficulty

 making the transition to talkies, and sinks into despair and alcoholism. Bright's wife Mary (Michele Lee) becomes alienated by

 his drunk and abusive behavior. Steve Allen (as himself) revives Bright's career towards the end of his life.

Compulsion****   1959


 In 1924, Judd Steiner and Artie Straus, two young University of Chicago law school geniuses from socially prominent families,

 steal a typewriter from a campus fraternity house and then drink to the execution of the perfect crime, which they consider a

 true test of their superior intellect. In their jubilation, they nearly run over a drunk, and when the man yells at them, the

 domineering, sadistic Artie orders Judd to turn around and run him down, but Judd swerves at the last minute, allowing the

 drunk to jump out of the speeding car's path. The next day in class, Artie challenges his professor's conception of justice, and

 instead advocates the Nietzschean idea of a superman detached from all human emotions. After class, Sid Brooks, one of the

 poorer students who works as a reporter to pay for his education, goes to the newspaper office and is assigned to cover a story

 about a drowned boy found in the park. Once the medical examiner pronounces that the boy was killed by a blunt instrument,

 Sid matches the victim's description to that of the unsolved kidnapping of Paulie Kessler and notifies Tom Daly, the reporter 

 covering the kidnap story. A pair of glasses were found near the body, and when Paulie's uncle states that his nephew never

 wore glasses, Sid realizes that they must belong to the murderer. Afterward, Sid joins his girl friend, Ruth Evans, Artie, Judd

 and a few other students at a nightclub, and after he reveals that a pair of glasses were found near the body, Judd discovers

 that his own glasses are missing. Upon returning home, Judd frantically searches for his spectacles as he and Artie blame each

 other for their loss. The boys then concoct an alibi in which Judd will say he dropped his glasses while bird watching in the park

 and that on the night of the murder, they were cruising for girls in Judd's Stutz Bearcat. The next day, the police are questioning

 potential witnesses at Paulie's school  when Artie intrudes and volunteers his help as a former student. Lt. Johnson then inquires

 if there were any odd teachers at the school, and Artie relishes impugning the reputation of several 

of his old instructors. Later, Ruth meets Judd at a diner and is intrigued when the introverted boy invites her to go bird watching with him. Artie, meanwhile, delights in phoning in false leads 

about the murder and pumps Sid for news about the case. When Sid mentions that the typewriter on which the ransom note was written has been identified, Artie, who had been avoiding Judd's 

calls, hurries to the Steiner house, where he berates Judd for failing to dispose of the typewriter. After Artie learns that Judd has a date with Ruth to go bird watching, the diabolic Artie orders 

Judd to rape her, thus "exploring all the possibilities of human experience." Later, while in the park with Ruth, Judd begins ranting about beauty in evil and then tries to sexually assault her. 

 When Ruth responds not with fear but compassion, Judd breaks down in tears of shame. Soon after, the police come to question Judd about the glasses found at the murder scene and escort

 him to see State's Attorney Harold Horn. After Horn informs Judd that the glasses have been identified as his because of their

 unusual hinges, he interrogates the boy throughout the rest of

 the afternoon until Judd finally recounts his alibi. Summoned to Horn's hotel suite, Artie asserts that he was at the movies alone that night, thus undercutting Judd's alibi. Artie then cleverly 

recants his story and admits that he was with Judd, thus convincing Horn of their veracity. Horn is about to release the boys when the Steiner's chauffeur inadvertently mentions that the Stutz 

was out of commission on the day of the murder. Determined to get the truth, Horn tricks Judd into confessing by claiming that Artie named him as Paulie's killer. Crazed by betrayal, 

Artie blurts out that Judd is the real murderer. After each of the boys accuses the other of murder, famed attorney Jonathan Wilk is hired by their families to defend them. The state's

 doctors have decreed that the boys are sane, thus depriving Wilk of an insanity plea. When Horn argues that the death penalty can be the only just verdict, Wilk, realizing that he has no 

 chance of a jury acquittal, unexpectedly enters a plea of guilty with unmitigating circumstances, thus avoiding a jury trial and

 putting the verdict in the judge's hands. After the psychiatrists testify that Judd is paranoid and Artie schizophrenic, Wilk calls

 Ruth to the stand, and when Ruth voices her empathy for Judd, Judd passes out in the courtroom. In his lengthy summation,

 Wilk appeals to the judge's conscience and regard for human life. In an emotional plea, Wilk argues that cruelty only begets

 cruelty and that mercy is the highest attribute of man. After careful consideration, the judge sentences Judd and Artie to life

 in prison, but Artie remains bitter and unrepentant.

Conflict*** 1945



 The seemingly perfect marriage of Kathryn and Richard Mason is the envy of their friends, but on the day of their fifth wedding

 anniversary, the couple quarrels bitterly over Richard's infatuation with Kathryn's younger sister, Evelyn Turner. Later, at a party

 in the Masons' honor, which is being given by psychologist Dr. Mark Hamilton, the discussion turns to the nature of psychology. 

 Hamilton explains that a thought can be like a malignant disease and it is his job to help a patient get rid of that thought. He

 adds that love is often at the root of psychological problems. On the way home, Richard loses control of the car and crashes.

 Kathryn and Evelyn come through with only minor injuries, but Richard suffers a broken leg. Later, although x-rays show that

 Richard's leg is healed, he insists that he cannot stand on it. When the doctor recommends swimming to strengthen the injured

 leg, Kathryn and Richard plan a trip to the mountains. At the last minute, however, work keeps Richard in town, and he sends

 Kathryn on alone, promising to join her the following day. On the way, Kathryn stops at Hamilton's to ask him to look in on

 Richard, and he presents her with one of his prize roses. Several miles from the lodge, Kathryn's road is blocked by another car,

 and Richard steps out of the fog and strangles her. He then pushes her car over the cliff and rolls a pile of logs on top of it. That

 night, he establishes an alibi with a business associate and feigns worry when Kathryn does not arrive at the lodge on time.

 When Hamilton telephones as Kathryn asked, Richard tells him that she is missing and then calls the Highway Patrol and

 institutes a search. He also notifies Evelyn, who has been staying with her mother. The police are unable to find Kathryn, but a

 short time later, a hobo is spotted trying to pawn her distinctive cameo ring. At home, Richard smells Kathryn's perfume in their

 bedroom and discovers her safe key on his desk. Richard frantically calls the police when he finds Kathryn's wedding ring inside

 the safe. Richard's response leads Hamilton to suggest that he and Evelyn accompany him to the mountains for some fishing.

 Hamilton also invites Professor Norman Holdsworth, a young doctor who is interested in Evelyn, to join them in the mountains.

 After Evelyn turns down Norman's proposal, Richard tells her how he feels about her. Although Richard insists that she rejected

 Norman because she returns his love, Evelyn vehemently denies this. Richard returns to his office for a day, where a letter 

 addressed in Kathryn's handwriting and containing a pawn ticket is waiting for him. He traces the ticket to a pawnshop and finds

 Kathryn's locket. When he brings the police to the pawnshop, however, the locket is no longer in the case, and the pawnbroker

 denies Richard's story. Then, Richard sees a woman he believes to be Kathryn and follows her to an apartment house before 

 losing her. Richard visits Hamilton's office to ask his advice and is told that the psychologist can do nothing for him. Desperate,

 Richard drives back to the scene of the crime. The pile of logs is still on the car, so Richard climbs down the mountain, where

 Hamilton and the police are waiting. Hamilton explains that he knew Richard was lying when he said Kathryn was wearing a rose

 when she left the house, because Hamilton had given her the rose himself. The police found Kathryn's body the day after the

 murder, but because there was no proof of Richard's guilt, they agreed to stage Hamilton's trap and let Richard's own fears

 convict him.  

Convicted****     1950

 A big surprise when I viewed it December 7, 2010. A phenomenal supporting cast of filme noire character

 actors. This is a Dorothy Malone performance  before she became established as one of the queens of

 melodrama. It was a subtle, balanced performance. Broderick Crawford played a stern character, but

 not as "over-the-top" as some later offerings. The Glenn Ford character was intelligently projected as an

 inmate whose philosophy was altered as he developed a more protective attitude, then he would have

 if he was not a victim of the court system.


 The prison drama tells of Joe Hufford (Ford), a man convicted of manslaughter. George Knowland (Crawford) is the warden who

 understands Hufford and tries to help him adjust to prison life. Hufford witnesses the murder of a rat by another convict

 (Millard Mitchell), but he sticks to the prison's "silent code" and refuses to talk, even though it means he will be accused of the

 killing. He is wounded by a guard in a subsequent fight and eventually is locked in solitary confinement. In the end, the real 

 murderer confesses and Hufford escapes the electric chair and into the arms of the warden's daughter (Dorothy Malone), with

 whom he has fallen in love.

Corn is Green, The***1/2      1945

 I saw this film for the second or third time recently (August 2011) and drew different conclusions from

 previously. Obviously, my more studious approach to watching movies has changed my perspective

 somewhat. The faults I found in this film were noteworthy, but managed to survive my criticism. The

 long line of young coal miners, singing while they walked their way home might not have been

 unrealistic. They were exhausted and likely tortured in spirit. Singing was a way to express unity and

 avoid the encroachment of severe depression. The boys when more intimate with the camera were

 depicted as child-like in spirit and playful. I found this a little too much Hollywood. John Dall, as Morgan

 Evans was characterized a little simplistically, and Dall's acting was a little cartoonish. I believe his

 response to academic success would have been expressed better through a showing of more humility,

 and even a touch of ambivalence. Bette Davis was stoic as Libby Cristobel Moffatt, but carefully exposed

 just enough vulnerability to be believable. Mildred Dunnock was outstanding, as usual (one of my all-time

 favourite character actresses) as Miss Ronberry. Joan Lorring, as the devilish Besse Watty jumped

 explosively out of the screen. Throughout the film you could see her spirit gradually unwind from

 innocently promiscuous to obscenely malicious and immoral. One of the great supporting performances

 on screen. 



 Middle-aged Lily Cristobel Moffatt (Bette Davis) sets up a school in a Welsh coal mining town, despite the determined opposition

 of the local squire (Nigel Bruce). Eventually, she considers giving up. Then she discovers a promising student, Morgan Evans, a

 miner seemingly destined for a life of hard work and heavy drink. With renewed hope, she works hard to help him realise his


 Through diligence and perseverance, Morgan gets the opportunity to take an examination for Oxford University with, hopefully,

 a prized scholarship. Moffatt, the rest of the teachers, and their students are hopeful Morgan will pass the Oxford interview,

 and so he does. However, Bessie Watty (Joan Lorring), a young woman who has recently given birth to Morgan's child, blackmails

 the faculty into giving her  part of Morgan's scholarship money in order to help raise the baby. The conniving young woman has designs

 on another male suitor. Instead, Moffatt volunteers to adopt the child so that Morgan's academic future will not be ruined and Watty will

 be free to marry another man, unfettered by her responsibility to the child (since she and her affianced never really cared for it in the

 first place). Morgan quickly hears about Watty's scandalous, self-serving motives, and insists upon raising the child himself. Through

 a heartfelt and persuasive conversation, Moffatt convinces the young man to continue his higher education and contribute something

 to the world.

Country Girl, The****   1956


 In a theatre where auditions are being held for a new musical production, the director, Bernie Dodd, watches a number performed

 by fading star Frank Elgin and suggests he be cast. This is met with strong opposition from Cook, the show's producer.

 Bernie insists on the down-on-his-luck Elgin, who is living in a modest apartment with his wife Georgie, a cold and bitter woman

 who has aged far beyond her years. They are grateful, though not entirely certain Elgin can handle the work.

 Based on comments Elgin makes about her privately, Bernie assumes that Georgie is the reason for Frank's career decline. He

 strongly criticizes her, first behind her back and eventually to her face. What he doesn't know is that the real reason Elgin's

 career has ended is the death of their five-year-old son Johnny, who was hit by a car while in the care of his father.

 Mealy-mouthed to the director's face, Elgin is actually a demanding alcoholic who is totally dependent on his wife. Bernie

 mistakenly blames her for everything that happens during rehearsals, including Elgin's requests for a dresser and a 

 run-of-the-show contract. He believes Georgie to be suicidal and a drunk, when it is actually Frank who is both. Humiliated when

 he learns the truth, Bernie realizes that behind his hatred of Georgie was a strong attraction to her. He kisses her and falls in

 love. Elgin succeeds in the role on opening night. Afterward he demands respect from the producer that he and his wife had not

 been given previously. At a party to celebrate, Bernie believes that now that Elgin has recovered his self-respect and stature,

 Georgie will be free to leave him. But she stands by her husband instead.

Crime Wave (The City is Dark) ***1/2     1954



 In Los Angeles, escaped convicts from San Quentin, Doc Penny, Ben Hastings and Gat Morgan, hold up a gas station, and although they get away with a small amount of

 money, a policeman is killed and Gat is wounded. Leaving behind Gat with part of the loot and a stolen car, Doc and Hastings head south to do a robbery, hoping to trick

 the police into believing they are heading for San Diego. The injured Gat proceeds unannounced to the apartment of Steve Lacey, a San Quentin parolee who has gone

 straight. Steve, who now has a loving wife, Ellen, and a good job as an airplane mechanic, has much to lose by harboring a criminal, but is forced at gunpoint to let in Gat,

 who then dies in the living room. To Steve's surprise, Otto Hessler, a former physician and ex-convict whom Gat called to treat him, shows up, and after pocketing the stolen

 money, leaves the Laceys to deal with Gat's body. Fearing that the police will not believe in his innocence, Steve calls his parole officer, Daniel O'Keefe, for help at Ellen's

 urging. However, Steve convinces Ellen not to mention Hessler's appearance at their home, as having two ex-cons on the premises would look more suspicious. Meanwhile,

 Los Angeles police sergeant Sims has obtained an identification of the robbers from the gas station attendant and, guessing that they will contact their former prison mate

 Steve for help, proceeds to the Laceys' apartment. Treating Steve's story with skepticism, Sims arrests Steve and holds him for three days, but then offers to let Steve off 

 easy if he will work with the police in locating the robbers. Although Steve refuses, knowing that communication with his old acquaintances would endanger his new life with

 Ellen, Sims releases him, and the Laceys return home. Steve and Ellen's relief is short-lived when they find that Doc and Hastings, who have circled back to Los Angeles, 

 are hiding in their apartment. To scare them away, Steve declares that the police are closely watching him, but this does not dissuade Doc, who wants Steve's help with

 another bank holdup in Glendale they are planning. Meanwhile, Sims confronts Hessler at the animal hospital where he now works as a veterinarian, and after tricking the

 drunken doctor into confessing that he was at Steve's apartment, orders him to return there to get information about the robbers. When Hessler again shows up at the Lacey

 apartment, Steve prevents him from entering, but Doc and Hastings overhear the conversation and Hastings trails him back to the animal hospital and kills him. A pedestrian

 witnesses the murder through the window and calls the police, and Steve's car, which Hastings stole, is found in the vicinity. By the time Hastings has returned to the Laceys'

 apartment, an all-points bulletin has been issued for Steve's arrest, and the thugs realize they must flee. Although Steve and Ellen are forced to accompany them, Steve

 manages to leave a cryptic note in the apartment that gives the place and time of the intended robbery. At the new hideout, Doc and Hastings reunite with two other criminals,

 Zenner and Johnny Haslett, who keep track of pertinent news on a police radio. By threatening Ellen's well-being, the criminals make Steve agree to drive the getaway car

 during the robbery, then, as he has a pilot's license, fly them to Mexico. Meanwhile, the police return to the Laceys' apartment and after searching it, find the note. On 

 Saturday, the bank is filled with policemen disguised as bank personnel and customers, and the robbery fails. Doc, Hastings and Zenner are shot, but Steve drives off wildly 

 through traffic. Although pursued by Sims, Steve arrives at the hideout in time to save Ellen from the psychopathic Haslett, who has heard about the failed robbery on the

 police channel. Steve fights Haslett, who is arrested when Sims and his men arrive. Sims also pretends to arrest Steve, but after taking Ellen and Steve away in a different

 police car, he scolds Steve for not calling the police when Gat first arrived on their doorstep. After admitting to Steve that he separates the good men from the bad by riding

 them hard, Sims drops all charges against him and sends the Laceys home to continue their lives.

Crowd, The****   1928


 From a very early age, John Sims, born on American Independence Day 1900, was constantly told by his family that he was

 destined for greatness, which he believed himself. At age twenty-one, he moves to New York City to make it big, New York being

 a city where one has to distinguish oneself to achieve greatness. There, he quickly meets Mary. They fall in love and get married.

 Mary too gets caught up in the dream of his supposed destiny. But John does nothing to achieve greatness and blames everyone

 but himself for problems in his life. For every small step he takes forward, something makes him take two steps back. It isn't until

 something or someone shows him that he is responsible for what happens in his life that things can progress to his dreams.

 Written by Huggo 


Dam Busters, The****   1955


 The film falls into two parts. The first part involves Wallis struggling to develop a means of attacking Germany's dams in the

 hope of crippling German heavy industry. Working for the Ministry of Aircraft Production, as well as doing his own job at Vickers,

 he works feverishly to make practical his theory of a bouncing bomb which would skip over the water to avoid protective torpedo

 nets. When it came into contact with the dam, it would sink before exploding, making it much more destructive. Wallis

 calculates that the aircraft will have to fly extremely low (150 ft) to enable the bombs to skip over the water correctly, but when

 he takes his conclusions to the Ministry he is told that lack of production capacity means they cannot go ahead with his proposals.

 Angry and frustrated, Wallis secures an interview with Sir Arthur "Bomber" Harris (played by Basil Sydney), the head of

 RAF Bomber Command, who at first is reluctant to take the idea seriously. But he is eventually convinced and takes the idea to

 the Prime Minister, who authorises the project.

 The second part of the film involves Bomber Command forming a special squadron of Lancaster bombers, 617 Squadron, to be

 commanded by Wing Commander Guy Gibson. He recruits experienced crews, especially those with low-altitude flight experience.

 While they train for the mission, Wallis continues his development of the bomb but has problems, such as the bomb breaking

 apart upon hitting the water. This requires the drop altitude to be reduced to 60 feet. With only a few weeks to go, he succeeds

 in fixing the problems and the mission can go ahead. The bombers attack the dams. Several Lancasters and their crews are lost,

 but the overall mission succeeds and two dams are breached. The film's reflective last minutes convey the poignant mix of 

 emotions felt by the characters – triumph over striking a successful blow against the enemy's industrial base is greatly tempered

 by the sobering knowledge that many died in the process of delivering it. 

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




David O. Selznick dearly wanted to film David Copperfield, as his Russian father Lewis J. Selznick had learned the English

language through it, and read it to his sons every night.

Cedric Gibbons designed a recreation of 19th century London on the MGM backlot.[2] The scenes set outside Aunt Betsey's

 house atop the white cliffs of Dover were filmed at Malibu. MGM even filmed the exterior of Canterbury Cathedral, which only

 appears in the film for less than a minute. Special effects, including many matte shots, were by Slavko Vorkapić.[2]

Charles Laughton was originally cast in the role of Mr. Micawber, and was authentically made-up with a bald cap, since Dickens 

describes the character as hairless. After two days of work, he disliked his performance in the dailies and asked to be replaced.[3]

 Selznick let him go, and Laughton recommended comedian and Dickens scholar W. C. Fields for the part, who was borrowed from

 Paramount Pictures. A clause in Fields' contract stated that he had to play the part with a British accent, but as he had difficulty

 learning the lines he had to read off cue cards and thus speaks in his own accent in the role. His defense: "My father was an

Englishman and I inherited this accent from him! Are you trying to go against nature?!" This is the only film where Fields doesn't

 ad lib, and he plays the character in a straightforward manner (although he did want to add a juggling sequence, and when this

 was denied, an anecdote about snakes, which was also denied). DirectorGeorge Cukor said that when Fields did make a

 suggestion for a visual bit, such as accidentally his dipping his quill in a teacup instead of an inkwell, it was always within the

 parameters of the character. The result was one of the finest performances of that year.[3]

The film was well-received on its release in January 1935. One New York Times critic called it "The most profoundly satisfying

 screen manipulation of a great novel the camera has ever given us". It was nominated for three Academy Awards, including

 Academy Award for Best Picture (losing out to Mutiny on the Bounty), Best Film Editing, and Best Assistant Director, and was

 nominated for the Mussolini Cup for Best Foreign Film at the Venice Film Festival (losing out to Anna Karenina).

There were several notable differences in the film from the book. For instance, in the film David never attends Salem House boarding

 school, and so the characters he met there do not appear, with the exception of Steerforth, who instead made his appearance as

 head boy of David's school he attended after going to live with Betsey Trotwood.

It is still shown in many countries on television at Christmas. It is rated with four out of four stars every year in Halliwell's Film


This was selected by The New York Times as one of the 1000 greatest movies ever made.

In another significant film, Gone with the Wind, which was also produced by Selznick, Melanie Wilkes (Olivia de Havilland) reads

 aloud from the novel David Copperfield while she waits for the vigilantes to come home from the raid. In Margaret Mitchell's novel,

 Melanie actually read Les Misérables at this point.

Dangerous****   1935


 Don Bellows, a prominent New York architect, is engaged to the beautiful and wealthy Gail Armitage, when he meets

 down-and-out Joyce Heath, who was once the most promising young actress on Broadway. Don feels deeply indebted to Joyce

 because her performance as Juliet inspired him to become an architect. While rehabilitating her, Don falls in love with the

 tempestuous actress. Joyce warns him that she is a jinx, convinced that she destroys anything and anyone she touches.

 Compelled to save her, Don breaks his engagement to Gail and risks his fortune to back the actress in a Broadway show.

 Before opening night, he insists that they marry, but Joyce resists his proposal, hiding the fact that she is still married to

 Gordon Heath, an ineffectual but devoted man who was financially ruined by their marriage. Joyce goes to Gordon and begs

 him for a divorce. When he refuses, she causes an automobile accident that cripples him for life. Her own injuries keep her

 from opening the show, which fails. Don is ruined, and when he learns that Joyce has deceived him, he accuses her of being

 a completely selfish woman, her only true jinx. Joyce briefly considers suicide, but eventually sees the truth in Don's accusation.

 She re-opens the show and, although she truly loves Don, sends him away to marry Gail. The show is a success, and Joyce, now

 dedicated to a responsible life, goes to visit Gordon and salvage her marriage.

Dantes Inferno***1/2     1934


Dante’s Inferno (1935)

In this movie, directed by Harry Lachman, Tracy once again plays a tough, arrogant character who is nonetheless  more vulnerable than he at

 first appears. This time he is cast as a ruthless fairground worker who won’t let anyone or anything get in his way, as he rises to wealth by taking

 over and massively expanding a hi-tech attraction based on, you guessed it, Dante’s Inferno.

However, Tracy has nothing to do with the most striking scene in this movie – an amazing eight-minute vision of hell based on Gustav Doré’s

 famous illustrations to the great poem, showing the torments of the damned as they writhe in lakes of fire. I have read the poem (in translation!),

 and this section of the film does recall it, though the rest of the movie has little or nothing to do with Dante. It’s a stunning sequence and I find

 hard to imagine quite how it could have been made.   Unfortunately, it seems to be difficult to find out exactly who did make it and when.

The imdb entry for the movie directly contradicts itself, saying in its “trivia” section on the one hand that this sequence is stock footage lifted from

the 1924 Henry Otto movie of the same title… and on the other that, according to a 28 July 1935 New York Times article, there were 4,950

 technicians, architects, artists, carpenters, stone masons and labourers, 250 electricians and 3,000 extras in the Inferno scene. Both these

 accounts surely can’t be right.

I’ve searched through web pages and Google books, but failed to find a definitive answer either way. Is there anyone who has seen both the

 1935 film and the obscure 1924 movie, which was thought to be lost but still exists in UCLA film and television archives, and who can confirm

 whether the two sequences are the same? Assuming this footage  is indeed the silent sequence re-used, which seems quite likely given the

 amount of recycling of old special effects which used to take place, then it may in fact date back even further than 1924, since some accounts

 I’ve found of the Otto movie say that its central hell sequence is thought to be lifted from a lost German expressionist epic!

Getting back to Tracy, this film has the same grittiness about it which I’ve liked in other early films of his. It  also has a strong flavour of the Great

 Depression, with most of the characters struggling to make a living, and an atmosphere of gambling and recklessness. At the start of the film

 Tracy’s character, Jim Carter, is a stoker aboard a luxury liner, and furious when a society lady on the deck above laughs at him. He vows that

 one day he will be the one up on that deck. After being sacked from the ship, he is soon also sacked from a fairground stall, but kindly Pop

 McWade (silent film star Henry B. Walthall) takes pity on him and  offers him work helping with his attraction, a down-at-heel presentation of

 Dante’s Inferno. Inspired by a figure of Alexander the Great in the display, Carter vows to conquer his own worlds. He is soon running the

 concession, as well as planning to make it bigger and better – even if it means ruining rival stallholders who get in his way. Jim romances and

 marries Pop’s daughter, Betty (Claire Trevor), and proves to be a devoted husband and father – with a sharp contrast between his ruthless

 gangster-style “business” methods and his loving family life. This really reminded me of more recent presentations of gangsters like

 The Sopranos. Betty does seem rather naive and too inclined to believe what Jim tells her even when it’s obvious he is lying – but Trevor makes

 the character believable and likeable all the same. As a result of Jim’s dog-eat-dog methods, soon one disaster is piling on top of another. At at

 the launch of the new improved Inferno attraction, a man he has ruined hurls himself to his death in the lake of fire – then later at a charity

 fundraiser the whole attraction collapses because of Jim’s refusal to consider health and safety. Pop is trapped in the rubble and nearly dies, and,

 while half-asleep at his hospital bedside, Jim sees the film’s set piece vision of hell – but even that can’t stop him on the road to destruction. He

 goes on to create his own version of a fiery hell by setting up a floating gambling palace, which catches fire on its first night, a disaster  apparently

 inspired by the real-life Morro Castle tragedy. (A teenage Rita Hayworth, billed as Rita Cansino,  features as a dancer aboard the cruise ship.)

When the fire breaks out, Carter has to use all the skills he learned as a stoker at the start of the film, but this time he is desperately trying to put

 out the fire rather than stoking it – and there are dramatic scenes where you can see him sobbing with exhaustion as he puts his own life at risk to

 save the ship and crew. Tracy himself hated this film, describing it as one of the worst ever made, and parted company with Fox once production

 had finished. However, I think he was rather  too hard on it – since, while it may not be a masterpiece, the quality of his own acting lifts the

 script. The sleazy fairground setting also has a certain fascination, while the special effects, especially in that haunting vision of hell, are simply out

 of this  world. For anyone who wants to know more about this film, and to see some more stills of the hell sequence, here’s a link to

 a good blog review at The Big Whatsit, which has some interesting background information.


Dark Victory****    1939





 When Judith Traherne, a gay, irrepressible member of the Long Island horsey set begins to suffer from chronic headaches, her

 family physician, Dr. Parsons, insists that she see Dr. Frederick Steele, a brilliant young brain surgeon. Judith arrives at Steele's

 office on the day that he is to retire from surgery because of the death of one of his patients, but, intrigued by Judith's symptoms

 and charmed by her spirit, he postpones his retirement and takes her case. After performing delicate brain surgery on Judith,

 Steele discovers that her tumor is malignant and that she has only ten months to live. Her doctors decide to hide the grim truth

 from Judith, but Steele is unable to conceal the facts from her best friend, Ann King. After her recovery from surgery, Judith and

 Steele fall in love and plan to be married. While packing for their move to Vermont, Judith accidentally comes across her case

 history file and learns of her hopeless prognosis. Angered at Steele and Ann's betrayal, Judith spurns Steele and begins a frivolous

 pursuit of pleasure, hiding her heartbreak with deceitful gaiety. When Steele admonishes her to find peace so that she can meet

 death beautifully and finely, however, Judith realizes that she must extract from life a full measure of happiness in the few brief

 months she has left with the man she loves. She and Steele are married and decide to carry on as if an entire life stretched ahead

 of them, ignoring the shadow of death that is ever present. Then, one morning, death comes to Judith and she faces it with courage

 and dignity, thus winning a victory over the forces of darkness


Days of Wine and Roses*****   1962


This film classic was an early insert on my list. It had great impact from first viewing. The topic of alcoholism was

explained in a very intelligent way. Joe Clay (Jack Lemmon) is a public relations consultant, whose drinking is a social

habit as well as being a public relations tool. When we see him drinking with clients and associates, we see him as a man

carrying out "obligations". The partying lifestyle is accepted, and expected. But as the story develops we see his drunkedness

as socially unacceptable and out of place. He is naturally confused with the ambiguity of social mores. After marriage, he

and his wife (Lee Remick) become drinking partners. When he sees the light, he explains to her that their life was a threesome,

the two of them, and booze. Her unwillingness to stop drinking forces him to go it alone, as he receives treatment. 

The look on her face when he tells her that he will not come back to her if it involves drinking, is tragic and powerful. 

The contrast between the early carefree existence of the Clays, and their evolving life of horror is very dramatic.

 Public relations man Joe Clay (Jack Lemmon) meets and falls in love with Kirsten Arnesen (Lee Remick), a secretary. Kirsten is

 a teetotaler until Joe introduces her to social drinking. Reluctant at first, after her first few Brandy Alexanders, she admits that

 having a drink "made me feel good." Despite the misgivings of her father (Charles Bickford), who runs a San Mateo landscaping

 business, they get married and have a daughter named Debbie.

 Joe slowly goes from the "two-martini lunch" to full-blown alcoholism. It affects his work and, in due time, he and Kirsten both

 succumb to the pleasures and pain of addiction. Joe is demoted due to poor performance brought on by too much booze. He is

 sent out of town on business. Kirsten finds the best way to pass the time is to drink, and drink a lot. While drunk one afternoon,

 she causes a fire in their apartment and almost kills herself and their child. Joe eventually gets fired from the PR firm and goes

 from job to job over the next several years. One day, Joe walks by a bar and sees his reflection in the window. He goes home

 and says to his wife: "I walked by Union Square Bar. I was going to go in. Then I saw myself, my reflection in the window, and I

 thought, 'I wonder who that bum is.' And then I saw it was me. Now look at me. I'm a bum. Look at me! Look at you. You're a

 bum. Look at you. And look at us. Look at us. C'mon, look at us! See? A couple of bums."

 Seeking escape from their addiction, Joe and Kirsten work together in Mr. Arnesen's business and succeed in staying sober for

 a while. However, the urges are too strong and after a late-night drinking binge, Joe destroys an entire greenhouse of his

 father-in-law's plants looking for a stashed bottle of liquor. After commitment to a sanitarium, Joe finally gets sober for a while,

 with the help of Alcoholics Anonymous, a dedicated sponsor named Jim Hungerford (Jack Klugman) and regular AA meetings.

 When Joe tries to help Kirsten, he instead ends up drinking again, and goes to a liquor store that closed for the night. When the

 owner, whose home is on the second floor, yells to Joe to beat it because he is closed, Joe breaks into the store and shoplifts,

 resulting in another trip to the sanitarium. As Joe sobers up, he is greeted by Jim, who says that Joe has to keep sober no

 matter what, even if that means staying away from Kirsten. Joe also explains that to some alcoholics the craving for alcohol can

 overcome all else, and points out that because Kirsten was a chocolate lover, that may be first sign of the addictive personality.

 Joe eventually becomes sober for good and becomes a responsible father to his child while holding down a steady job. However,

 Kirsten begins disappearing for long stretches of time and picking up strangers in bars, hopelessly lost to alcoholism. When Joe 

 tries to make amends with his father-in-law by offering him an envelope full of cash for the damaged greenhouse, Mr. Arnesen

 lashes out at Joe for getting Kirsten involved in the alcoholic lifestyle. One night, after Debbie is asleep, Kirsten comes to Joe's

 apartment to attempt a reconciliation. However, Joe sees that if he were to give in, it would lead to the same self-destructive

 behavior of what he did at the liquor store. Joe explains to Kirsten: "You remember how it really was? You and me and booze — a

 threesome. You and I were a couple of drunks on the sea of booze, and the boat sank. I got hold of something that kept me

 from going under, and I'm not going to let go of it. Not for you. Not for anyone. If you want to grab on, grab on. But there's just

 room for you and me — no threesome." Kirsten admits that alcohol has taken over everything, but leaves as Joe has to fight the

 urge to go after her. The film ends with Joe watching Kirsten walk down the street from the window of his apartment with a

 "BAR" sign flashing in the background.

Day the Earth Stood Still, The ***1/2   1951



 Not very many sci-fi films of this period are meant to be taken seriously. This one is the exception. The

 theme of this great film turns the ethos upside down and makes mankind more of a threat to himself

 than any extra-terrestrail force can be. The invasion to America of an advanced civilization is shrewdly

 devised by the quiet infiltration of Klaatu, who moves in with a middle-class family. He looks and talks

 like a human being and is not suspected, except by Helen Benson, a woman who finds his behavior

 strange, though she cannot detect the source of her suspicion. The scene that I find particularly

 interesting is when Klaatu is scouring the buildings of a university and happens upon an open door to the

 office of one of America's great physicists. He studies the workings upon a blackboard and finds flaws in

 the formula. He makes corrections, and then leaves. When they confront one another the physicist

 (played by San Jaffe) is amazed at his intelligence, is acutely aware of the power this man possesses,

 and makes an unforgettably bemused expression. Jaffe has a very Einsteinian appearance, which I

 believe is not accidental. The modus operandi of Klaatu is based upon the fear of the atomic bomb

 accompanied with the aggressiveness of the Earth's inhabitants, as well as their inability to compromise. 


 All of Washington, D.C., is thrown into a panic when an extraterrestrial spacecraft lands near the White House. Out steps Klaatu

 (Michael Rennie, in a role intended for Claude Rains), a handsome and soft-spoken interplanetary traveler, whose "bodyguard" is

 Gort (Lock Martin), a huge robot who spews forth laser-like death rays when danger threatens. After being wounded by an

 overzealous soldier, Klaatu announces that he has a message of the gravest importance for all humankind, which he will deliver

 only when all the leaders of all nations will agree to meet with him. World politics being what they are in 1951, Klaatu's demands

 are turned down and he is ordered to remain in the hospital, where his wounds are being tended. Klaatu escapes, taking refuge

 in a boarding house, where he poses as one "Mr. Carpenter" (one of the film's many parallels between Klaatu and Christ). There

 the benign alien gains the confidence of a lovely widow (Patricia Neal) and her son, Bobby (Billy Gray), neither of whom tumble

 to his other-worldly origins, and seeks out the gentleman whom Bobby regards as "the smartest man in the world" -- an Einstein

 -like scientist, Dr. Barnhardt (Sam Jaffe). The next day, at precisely 12 o'clock, Klaatu arranges for the world to "stand still"

 -- he shuts down all electrical power in the world, with the exception of essentials like hospitals and planes in flight.

 Directed by Robert Wise, who edited Citizen Kane (1941) and The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) for director Orson Welles

 before going on to direct such major 1960s musicals as West Side Story (1961) and The Sound of Music (1965), The Day the

 Earth Stood Still was based on the story Farewell to the Master by Harry Bates. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Dazed and Confused***1/2     1999




 Like George Lucas' American Graffiti, Richard Linklater's Dazed and Confused is an affectionate look at the youth culture of a bygone era. 

 While Lucas took aim at the conservative 1950's, Linklater jumps ahead a generation to the bicentennial year of 1976 to celebrate the joys

 of beer blasts, pot smoking and Frampton Comes Alive. Set on the last day of the academic year, the film follows the random activities of a

 sprawling group of Texas high schoolers as they celebrate the arrival of summer, their paths variously intersecting at a freshmen hazing, a

 local pool parlor and finally at a keg party. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi 

Dead of Night****1/2     1945




Considered the greatest horror anthology film, the classic British chiller Dead of Night features five stories of supernatural terror from four

 different directors, yet it ultimately feels like a unified whole. The framing device is simple but unsettling, as a group of strangers find

 themselves inexplicably gathered at an isolated country estate, uncertain why they have come. The topic of conversation soon turns to the

 world of dreams and nightmares, and each guest shares a frightening event from his/her own past. Many of these tales have become

 famous, including Basil Dearden's opening vignette about a ghostly driver with "room for one more" in the back of his hearse. Equally eerie

 are Robert Hamer's look at a haunted antique mirror that gradually begins to possess its owner's soul, and Alberto Cavalcanti's ghost 

story about a mysterious young girl during a Christmas party. Legendary Ealing comedy director Charles Crichton lightens the mood with

 an amusing interlude about the spirit of a deceased golfer haunting his former partner, leaving viewers vulnerable to Cavalcanti's superb

 and much-imitated closing segment, about a ventriloquist (Michael Redgrave) slowly driven mad when his dummy appears to come to life.

 Deservedly acclaimed and highly influential, Dead of Night's episodic structure inspired an entire genre of lesser imitators.

 ~ Judd Blaise, Rovi 

Dear Heart****    1964

 I first saw this film when I was quite young and I did not really respond to it in any particular way. But

 after seeing it recently, as a more mature viewer, it really impacted me. Evie Jackson, played flawlessly

 by Geraldine Page was a 'lonely hearts' character, who was eccentric, but believable. Her idiosyncracies

 were touching and were ingeniously lined up one after another to form a chain of ideas that somehow

 formed a life philosophy that was prophetic and profound. Glenn Ford seemed at first an odd fit for the

 character of Harry Monk, but his atypicality works to advantage, and he falls in love with Evie, and is

 drawn to her unwittingly. 

 There is a classic group of character actors, some of whom worked together to create a successful

 montage in "Days of Wine and Roses' two years earlier. In particular the threesome of Mary Wickes,

 Ruth McDevitt and Alice Pearce, formed a comic version of the ugly stepsisters, who were the perfect

 foil for Evie.


 Evie Jackson, a smalltown postmistress whose compulsive friendliness causes men to avoid her, arrives in New York City to

 attend a postmasters' convention and meets Harry Mork, a recently-promoted greeting card salesman staying at the same hotel.

 Harry, who is engaged to Phyllis, a widow from Altoona, Pennsylvania, looks forward to settling down after years on the road.

 Like other men, he is wary of Evie, but after an unhappy rendezvous with June, a magazine salesgirl, he accepts Evie's

 invitation to a party. He enjoys her company, and she begins to fall in love with him. Evie learns of Harry's forthcoming

 wedding when he takes her to see the apartment he has rented for himself and his wife, and she decides to return home.

 Phyllis arrives in New York and visits the apartment with Harry. They find Phyllis' teenaged son, Patrick, living there with his

 beatnik girl friend, Zola, and learn that the boy plans to stay. Phyllis announces that she prefers to live in hotels because she is

 tired of housekeeping, and it becomes apparent that she plans to marry Harry to unburden herself of responsibilities and chiefly

 of the problems involved in raising a son. Harry leaves her and rushes to Pennsylvania Station in time to prevent Evie's


Decline of the American Empire****    1986




Eight intellectual friends - four men and four women from the Department of History at theUniversité de Montréal - prepare to have

dinner together. The ensuing conversations range from their professional lives to politics, but primarily concern their sexual exploits

The group has plans to gather at a secluded house for dinner. While the four men prepare the food and reflect on their promiscuity,

the four women discuss their own affairs at a nearby gym. At the dinner table, conflicts soon arise when Dominique reveals that she

herself has had affairs with two of the men there, one of whom is married to Louise (also present). 


Detective Story, The****   1951


 Kirk Douglas, once again, stars in a movie that packs a punch.  The film manages not to be banal, despite

 it's melodramatic potential. Kirk Douglas is intense as the emotionally frayed detective,

 Eleanor Parker is sensational as the vulnerable, but surprisingly resilient wife, and Lee Grant is sassy as the

 shop-lifter. An entertaining treat.

 William Wyler tries not to let the stage seams show in this excellent film version of Sidney Kingsley’s play, and as usual, he

 succeeds. Set almost entirely within the detective squadroom of New York Precinct 21, the film documents the comings and 

 goings of arrested criminals contrasted with the workaday pressues of some of the city’s smoothest detectives, giving

 practically everyone in sight some human dimension. Kirk Douglas gives one of his best performances as the tough,

 uncompromising detective who doesn’t believe in coddling criminals; when he discovers that a secret in the past of his wife

 (Eleanor Parker) may jeopardize his marriage and impact his job, it makes for powerful drama. This was Douglas’ year. Besides

 his work here, he did his best-of-career acting in Billy Wilder’s Ace in the Hole, but the Oscar nomination he deserved for one

 performance or the other in 1951 didn’t come his way. Eleanor Parker, following her huge success in Caged, shines as the

 troubled wife. There are fine supporting performances by almost everyone (William Bendix, Frank Faylen, Cathy O’Donnell,

 Joseph Wiseman), although I am not a fan of Lee Grant’s overheated performance. Usually just a little bit of Lee Grant is

 enough, but here a little bit is too much.

Diabolique, Les****1/2    1955




 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEdyDocH4xY   (French)

In a French provincial town, Michel Delassalle, a sadistic headmaster of a school belonging to his wife Christina, a fragile young 

woman with a weak heart, carries on an affair with Nicole Horner, a strong, forceful teacher who has been his mistress from the day 

she arrived. He has, however, treated her as badly as his wife, and the two women have been driven into an alliance against him.

Together they work out an elaborate plan to rid themselves of their common tormentor. Luring him away from the school to Nocole's

cheap lodging house, they induce him to drink some doctored whiskey - and drown him in a bath. The body is later wrapped in a

nylon tablecloth, packed into a laundry basket, taken back to the school, and at dark tipped into the grimy water of the school

swimming pool. When, shortly after, the pool is drained, watched in anguished expectation from a window by the women, no corpse

is there. Soon other mysterious events begin to occur...Written by alfiehitchie 


Divorce American Style****    1/2   1957


   This film has many merits, including the fact that it confirms Debbie Reynolds, Dick van Dyke and Jean

 Simmons as brilliant actors, noting in particular that van Dyke and Reynolds are under-rated and extremely

 versatile. The opening scene really gives the film a terrific start and very effectively sends the message

 that if a relationship is suffering, it can only be rectified from within, as society at large and it's

 institutions will likely be unsuited for the challenge. As Barbara and Richard Harmon search for new

 companions they are caught in a web of confusion and social values that only devalidate monogamy

 and decency. Richard finds a seductive and intelligent woman, but she is much too contemporary of

 mind, and Barbara finds a man who sees himself as rescuing a damsel in distress. His hocum also turns off

 the Harmon boys, but they gracefully accept his generosity. Van Dyke and Reynolds illustrate the

 growing realization that love can be the foundation of happiness, and they learn to accept the perils of

 the sometimes emotional imbalance of it. 

 An unhappy couple discover breaking up really is hard to do in this satiric comedy. Richard Harmon (Dick Van Dyke) and his wife,

 Barbara (Debbie Reynolds), are a typical married couple in American Suburbia -- which is to say they're not very happy with each

 other. After 15 years together, Richard and Barbara decide they've reached the end of their collective rope, and after several

 rounds of marriage counseling proves fruitless, they file for divorce. Between negotiating child custody, alimony, and finding

 new places to live, Richard and Barbara discover divorce isn't appreciably easier than being married; meanwhile, Richard makes

 a new friend in Nelson Downes (Jason Robards), a fellow divorcé who would love nothing more than for Richard to marry his

 former wife, Nancy (Jean Simmons), and take away the burden of alimony. Also featuring Van Johnson, Lee Grant, Shelley

 Berman, and Eileen Brennan in her first film role, Divorce American Style earned an Oscar nomination for Norman Lear and 

 Robert Kaufman's original screenplay. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

D. O. A.***1/2    1950



Both of these pics are great examples of filme noire cinematography

 In Los Angeles, Frank Bigelow enters a police station to report that he was poisoned the previous night in San Francisco and will

 soon die. Upon questioning by the police chief, Frank recounts the events that led him to this fateful moment: Two days earlier

 in Banning, California, Frank, a notary and tax consultant, bids farewell to his secretary and girl friend, Paula Gibson, departing

 for a short vacation to San Francisco. When Frank arrives at his hotel, Paula telephones to tell him that Eugene Philips, of

 Philips' Import and Exporting Company, urgently needs to speak with him and refuses to leave a message. That evening Sam

 Haskell, a guest in the room opposite Frank's, invites him to a party which eventually ends up at a bar on the Embarcadero.

 In the bar, Frank leaves his drink momentarily unattended and a shadowy figures replaces it with another without Frank's

 knowledge. Frank drinks from the glass, noticing a strange taste, but nothing more. The next morning Frank feels vaguely ill

 and is eventually disturbed enough to go to a medical center for an examination. After several tests, the doctor informs Frank

 he has ingested a fatal amount of luminous toxic poison that will kill him in the next few days. Panicked, Frank goes to another

 hospital where he receives the same prognosis. Frantic to find out why he has been poisoned, Frank returns to the Embarcadero

 bar, which is closed, then looks for Haskell, who has already checked out. Later, Paula telephones again and informs him that

 Philips, the man trying so desperately to contact him, died the day before. Driven by an impulse, Frank goes to Philips'

 Los Angeles office, where his secretary, Miss Foster, tells him that Philips committed suicide by jumping from the balcony of his

 highrise apartment. The company controller, Halliday, claims no knowledge of why Philips sought to speak to Frank. Frank then

 goes to see Philips' widow and brother Stanley, but both are evasive, although Stanley does explain that his brother had sold a

 rare form of iridium, a luminous toxine, and faced possible imprisonment, which drove him to suicide. Back at the hotel, Paula

 again telephones Frank to say she has discovered that some months prior, Frank notarized a bill of sale of iridium from a

 George Reynolds to Philips. Returning to question Mrs. Philips, Frank discovers that both the bill of sale and Reynolds have

 disappeared. Believing that all evidence of the sale is being systematically eliminated, Frank thinks he has the motive for his

 poisoning and is determined to find the culprit. Convinced that Philips was also murdered, Frank again questions Miss Foster,

 who reveals that on the day of his death Philips saw Marla Rakubian, a model and former girl friend. Frank goes to see Marla

 and accuses her of being in league with Reynolds, then takes a portrait picture she has of Reynolds. Frank tries to locate

 Reynolds through the portrait studio, but instead discovers Reynolds' real name is Raymond Rakubian. When he goes to see

 Reynolds at the address provided by the photographers, Frank finds an abandoned warehouse and is fired upon. After returning

 to Philips' office, Frank is kidnapped by Chester, a henchman of Reynolds' gangster uncle, Mr. Majak, the illegal purchaser of

 the iridium. Majak insists that his nephew cannot be connected to the murders as he has been dead for five months. Frank

 escapes from Majak, and goes back to Philips' office where Stanley, who has just been poisoned by Halliday, gives him evidence

 that the controller and Mrs. Philips had been having an affair for over two years. At her apartment, Mrs. Philips admits that her

 husband had just discovered the affair and fallen from the balcony in a struggle with Halliday. The critical bill of sale proved the

 original transaction was legal and was not motive for a suicide. Believing Philips had succeeded in contacting Frank, Halliday

 poisoned him. Frank returns to Philips' office, finds Halliday and kills him. As he finishes reciting his story at the police station,

 Frank calls out for Paula before slumping to the floor, dead.

Docks of New York***1/2   1928


 The smokily erotic ambience of Josef Von Sternberg's silent Docks of New York is best appreciated on a big theatrical screen--but only if

 the available print is at the very least second-generation. George Bancroft plays a two-fisted ship's stoker on shore leave. He saves

 Betty Compson from committing suicide; though the girl displays little gratitude, the inebriated Bancroft impulsively marries her. After he

 sobers up, Bancroft is prepared to set sail and leave his new wife waiting for him...perhaps forever. The story is secondary to the virtuosity

 of the direction and camerawork (one scene is framed in the eye of a needle!) Considered by many to be Von Sternberg's greatest film,

 Docks of New York is a prime example of the silent cinema at its zenith. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi 

Doorway to Hell, The**1/2   1930


 This film was in many ways the proto-type for the gangland style films of the pre-code era. Full of tough

 talk, rapid fire action (though mostly long distance). a love-triangle and dramatic cinematography.

 Jimmy Cagney was a supporting cast member, with Lew Ayres the solo top-billed performer. Ayres

 performance, as a gangster trying to leave the racket,  was above the norm, more dynamic and

 multi-layered than the often wisecracking, sharp-tongued bully. On TCM, it was expressed that the film

 was miscast, suggesting that Cagney should have been the protagonist. Actually, I think that Lew Ayres

 played a textured and complex leading role, the only mistake being that he should not have been given

 the name Louie Ricarno, rather he should have represented the Irish mafia, with a name such as 'Mossy'


 In this early talkie, a vicious crime lord (played by Lew Ayres in a rare villainous role) decides that he has had enough and much

 to the shock of his colleagues decides to give the business to his second in command (James Cagney in hi second film role) and

 retire to Florida after marrying his moll. Unfortunately, he has no idea that she and Cagney are lovers. Part of the reason the

 don wants to leave is to keep his young brother, who idolizes him, from learning the awful truth about his avocation. Soon after

 moving down to Florida, former rivals kidnap the brother and kill him, causing the reformed gangster to come back for deadly

 revenge. This was an innovative film and featured a lot of elements that would become standards in the gangster genre

 including tommy guns carried in violin cases, terrible shoot-outs, and lots of rum-running rivalry. ~ Sandra Brennan, All Movie


Double Indemnity******   1944 


   This classic is a top ten of all time, the number one film noire. The dialogue is as sharp as a knife, and

 MacMurray and Stanwyck are the absolute best at delivering dialogue with wicked incisiveness. The plot

 is very simple, but is so intense that it can never find the blanket of infinity which devours it. Neff

 (MacMurray) knows Dietrichson (Stanwyck) is up to no good and is a deviant of the highest stature. He

 dislikes her, possibly even hates her, but is entangled by her magnetism and potent sexuality. He is a fly

 caught in her web. He has much opportunity to escape from this nightmare, but never does. What tops

 it all off, is that I, as the viewer, and I think I can speak for most others, root for them to commit their

 crime and live happily ever after. Why? Because we always root for romance, especially when it is 

 star-crossed. If Romeo and Juliet were evil, we would still be heart-broken by their demise. 

 Sexual attraction—especially in cases where it happens instantaneously rather than building up over time—is a phenomenon

 that's nearly impossible to capture in words. I had a girlfriend once who told me, years after the fact, that she knew the precise

 moment when I first wanted her; she then related an incident I'd completely forgotten, in which we were both squatting on our

 heels looking for something in a floor-level cupboard and she suddenly knocked me over with her index finger, right in the

 middle of an innocuous sentence. "I so wish I had a picture of the look in your eyes right then," she said, kind of wistfully.

 Thankfully, a film camera can take 24 such pictures every second, which is why movies wipe the mat with even the most torrid

 prose when it comes to depicting surging libidos. And I know of few first encounters more unforgettably electric than the one

 between insurance salesman Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) and bored, homicidal housewife Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara

 Stanwyck) in Double Indemnity, Billy Wilder's film noir masterpiece. Watch it once for the words, then again for the faces.

Downfall****    2004




 The last ten days of Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime are seen through the eyes of a young woman in his employ in this historical drama from Germany. Traudl

 Junge (Alexandra Maria Lara) was 22 years old when, in the fall of 1942, she was hired to be personal secretary to Adolf Hitler (Bruno Ganz). In April of 1945,

 Junge was still working for Hitler as forces were bearing down on Germany and the leader retreated to a secret bunker in Berlin for what would prove to be the

 last ten days of his life, as well as that of the Third Reich. As Hitler's mistress Eva Braun (Juliane Köhler) attempts to throw a cheerful birthday party for her man,

 Hitler's closest associates, including Heinrich Himmler (Ulrich Noethen), Joseph Goebbels (Ulrich Matthes), and Albert Speer (Heino Ferch), urge him to flee

 the city with only Goebbels maintaining any illusions that the Third Reich has any hope of survival. Hitler refuses to leave Berlin, and he spends his final days

 ranting and raving to Junge, blaming all around him as he tries to understand where his leadership went wrong. Meanwhile, Goebbels and his wife round up 

 their six children and bring them to the bunker as Berlin begins to topple, determined to take their lives rather than face the Allies after Germany's certain defeat.

 Der Untergang (aka The Downfall) was based in part on the memoirs of the real-life Traudl Junge, whose experiences also formed the basis of the 2002

 documentary Im Toten Winkel: Hitlers Sekretarin (aka Blind Spot: Hitler's Secretary). ~ Mark Deming, Rovi 

Downhill Racer***1/2   1969


 Director Michael Ritchie's ongoing satirical spin on the American Dream is dressed up in quasi-documentary fashion in Downhill

 Racer. Robert Redford stars as an Olympic-grade skier, whose talent is matched only by his aloof self-involvement. As the

 cocksure Redford rises to the top of his class, he discards any emotional attachments that might impede his progress, ranging

 from girlfriends to his own father. When Redford finally attains his goal in life, the thrill of victory is an empty one indeed. The

 cold-bloodedness of Redford's character may have worked against Downhill Racer at the box office; on the other hand, Ritchie's

 similarly structured political satire The Candidate offered a "warmer" Redford -- but it, too, was a box-office disappointment.

 ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi 

Dr. Kildare Series  featuring Lew Ayres, Lionel Barrymore, Laraine Day,  Alma Kruger, Nat Pendleton,

Walter Kingsford, Marie Blake, (Van Johnson)

Best rated:

     Dr. Kildare Goes Home***1/2     1940



     It's a happy day for Dr. Jimmy Kildare when he successfully completes his internship and is one of the lucky few who also obtains a staff

 position at the hospital. His mother's somewhat subdued response to his good news leads him to go home where he finds that she is terribly worried

 about his father, Dr. Stephen Kildare. He is overworked following the departure of a doctor in a nearby town and Jimmy decides to stay on for a few

 weeks to help him out, much to the consternation of Dr. Leonard Gillespie who was expecting him back at Blair General Hospital to take up his new

 duties. Kildare comes up with a scheme to have community pay a small amount every week for guaranteed medical service. He recruits unemployed

 doctors for the job but the townsfolk aren't keen on the idea. Written by garykmcd


     3 Men in White***1/2     1944



     Gillespie has to finally choose his official assistant, or Red and Lee are going to kill themselves in competition. So, it's another diagnosis competition.

 Lee's assignment is a small girl who falls ill whenever she eats candy. Red has to cure a girl's mother of a debilitating case of arthritis. But when Red needs Lee's

 help, will either one live with Gillespie's choice? Written by Kathy Li


     The People vs Dr. Kildare***1/2     1941 



     Dr. Kildare finds himself being sued after a professional ice skater, Frances Marlow, loses the use of her right leg. Marlowe is a professional ice skater who

 had just signed a contract with the Ice Capades. She was on her way to New York for publicity photos when the car she was driving is hit by a truck at an

 intersection. Kildate and Nurse Mary Lamont were driving by at the time and he decides he has to operate immediately. Marlow's leg was badly broken but Kildare

 is certain he did nothing wrong from a medical point of view. Things are looking grim in court until Kildare and Dr. Gillespie diagnose the possibility of a rare spinal

 disorder. Written by garykmcd


     Dr. Kildare's Victory***1/2     1942



      Dr. Jimmy Kildare is back at work at Blair General hospital, though several people admit that he is not himself since suffering his loss. He's taken a liking

 to a young intern, Don Winthrop, and tries to help him out when he transports an accident victim, socialite Cynthia "Cookie" Charles, to Blair General from outside

 the hospital's agreed territory. When the other hospital complains, Winthrop is fired. Soon after, his girlfriend, Nurse Anabelle Kirke, is also let go when she too

 misapplies hospital policy. Kildare pleads their case with the hospital Board but with little luck. He then gets the well-connected Cookie, who has a thing for him,

 to help to sort it out Written by garykmcd


Dumbo*****   1941



 As a circus train makes it's way to the first of many show stops, a stork arrives with a baby for one elephant, named Mrs Jumbo.

 The other female pachyderms are charmed by the little baby, until he sneezes, revealing that he has a pair of oversized ears.

 Their words take on a different tune as they make fun of the little baby, giving him the ridiculing name of Dumbo. Dumbo's

 Mother just ignores their taunts and still cares for her child. At the circus' first venue, the elephants are put on exhibition for a

 number of people. However, one young boy makes fun of Dumbo, and also ends up pulling on his ears. This causes Mrs Jumbo to

 protect her son, but her actions cause the Ringmaster and the other circus people to claim her to be a mad elephant, and she is

 locked away. After this incident, none of the other elephants show any compassion or want to help Dumbo after his Mother is

 taken away. The only one who comes to his aid in friendship is a little mouse named Timothy. Dumbo is at first scared of 

 Timothy (as he is a mouse), but Timothy's words of wanting to help get Dumbo's Mother released makes him realize the little

 mouse also means well. Timothy feels that Dumbo just needs to prove himself, and while the Ringmaster is asleep, whispers the

 idea for an elaborate performance by the elephants. The elephants climb on top of each other, and the plan is for Dumbo to be

 launched to the top, holding a little flag. However, Dumbo trips over his ears, and ends up toppling the stacked elephants, which

 causes the circus tent to collapse. After this, Dumbo is given the rather embarrassing role of being painted as a clown, and put
 into a rather degrading circus act. Dumbo just feels even worse, but Timothy manages to take him to see his Mother, which

 cheers him up a little. Later on in the evening, Dumbo develops the hiccups, and Timothy finds a tub of water in the clown's tent.

 However, one of the clowns has knocked some liquor into it, and Dumbo and Timothy end up getting tipsy, and soon start

 hallucinating, seeing pink elephants.The next day, Dumbo and Timothy find themselves up a tree, and badgered by a gang of

 crows. Timothy is at a loss as to how they got up in the tree, until he hits on the obvious reason: Dumbo's ears act like wings,

 making him a flying elephant! However, the idea of this is ridiculed by the crows, who laugh and sing a mocking song about 

 Dumbo. This causes Timothy to lose his temper, and he relates to the crows everything that Dumbo has been through. The

 crows then change their tune, and give Dumbo a 'magic feather,' to give him the confidence to fly. Sure enough, Dumbo can fly,

 and Timothy plans to have him surprise the audience that night when they do their performance with the clowns. Dumbo goes

 through his performance, but on his freefall to the ground, loses the magic feather. With Dumbo in a panic, Timothy pleads

 that he can fly even without the feather. In the nick of time, Dumbo manages to fly, and ridicules the clowns, before pelting the

 other elephants who made fun of him with peanuts. In the aftermath, it is shown that Dumbo's fame spreads, and he soon

 becomes famous. The last scene shows Dumbo's mother having been released, in the rear of a special train car, as Dumbo lands

 in her arms.

Dynamite***1/2   1929

 An entertaining , well acted and beautifully shot film. Cecil B. DeMille demonstrates his directorial skills

 (his first talking picture) in creating an almost circus-like atmosphere, without over-stepping his artistic

 skills. He perfectly juxtaposed the settings of the two protagonists, with the mining village set that

 corresponds with the perfectly named Hagon, and the oppulant set , orgies included, that corresponds

 to the socialite, Cynthia.



Wealthy Cynthia is in love with not-so-wealthy Roger, who is married to Marcia. The threesome is terribly modern about the

situation, and Marcia will gladly divorce Roger if Cynthia agrees to a financial settlement. But Cynthia’s wealth is in jeopardy

because her trust fund will expire if she is not married by a certain date. To satisfy that condition, Cynthia arranges to marry

Hagon Derk, who is condemned to die for a crime he didn’t commit. She pays him so he can provide for his little sister. But

at the last minute, Derk is freed when the true criminal is discovered. Expecting to be a rich widow, Cynthia finds herself married

to a man she doesn’t know and doesn’t want to. —IMDb


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