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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

I'll Rate MANHATTAN...that Wondrous TV Series of Long Ago 5/10

5/10
Author: Marcin Kukuczka from Cieszyn, Poland
1 March 2009

"I'll Take Mahnattan" based on the novel by Judith Krantz was one of the first American movies that one could watch on Polish TV in the 1980s. No one seemed to understand fully the highlighted social situations of the New York and New Yorkers depicted here: rat race of wild capitalism, magazine empire, luxury...who could get its idea in the gray communist times of the late 1980s? Polish reality differed so much that owning big private properties or running individual businesses were entirely alien.

Yet, what mattered was its "American character" (for us anything to do with the 'promised land' of America). As a child, I remember people flocking to see MANHATTAN (as everyone called it) on Sunday evenings humming the melody of the title song. It was indeed a 'dream of a boy and girl' unfulfilled, an 'isle of joy' as the title song says, the 'joy' unreachable. They were all so much absorbed by the strange fate of Maxi Amberville (Valerie Bertinelli), a true businesswoman and a good daughter of her wealthy father that you could openly say: "Tell me, what other TV series compares with this one?"...perhaps ESCRAVA ISAURA or RICH MAN POOR MAN, but indeed not many. What was so special about it?

Everything! Scenes and characters observed attentively remained in memory for good. These were Zachary Amberville (Barry Bostwick) who people sympathized with and whose tragic death saddened most audience to tears; Maxi (Valerie Bertinelli) was perceived as a vital young lady whose radical decisions and assertive behavior appeared to people as something absolutely new and challenging to follow; Maxi's handsome husband Rocco with whom lots of Polish girls fell in love as with most Italian macho; finally, the wretched character of a womanizer and a Cain-like brother Cutter (Perry King), for all, the true villain... Therefore, if you had asked someone in Poland in 1989 to rate MANHATTAN on the scale of 1-10, no one would have hesitated to say 10/10...masterpiece!

Now, when watching MANHATTAN 20 years later and having achieved a much wider film experience, there seems to be nothing 'wondrous' about it. It is just an average TV series that, unfortunately, has lost most of its interest, action appears to be slow-paced, some performances are clichéd and some parts of script are, so seriously to say, rubbish. Cutter Amberville (Perry King), being the villain of the story but at the same time one of the characters people pay their greatest attention to, appears to lack continuity: once we see him young, once old - when he kills his brother, he has some gray hair; yet, after his brother's funeral, he plays golf and looks as young as he looked at the beginning of the story. However, the case of Cutter is forgivable due to King's good acting. Yet, the character of Lili Amberville has been ruined by the two actresses, first Georgia Slowe and then Francesca Annis. While Ms Slowe is unconvincing in her role, Ms Annis gives hardly any insight into her character's contradiction. Barry Bostwick attempts to give a genuine performance; yet, much slips through his fingers. Valerie Bertinelli is better in the role of Maxi: too much chaotic and talkative sometimes, but not bad... yet far from something that would deserve particular attention.

Besides, the soap opera elements are clearly noticeable here, which makes MAHHATTAN a sort of movie ambitious movie buffs will probably dislike. Sex, money, jealousy, marital treason, quarrels, silly talks of young girls, marriage and divorce, life as adventure in Monte Carlo. One of the most typical soap opera element is, I think, the focus on Justin's character: his homosexuality used as a means for deceit and revenge of others. On the one hand, his character seems to be ridiculed through kitschy script; on the other hand, it seems to be promoted through his assertiveness. The end seems to justify the means of immorality, which is another aspect of sheer soap opera. However, thank goodness it only seems to...

Let me praise something about MANHATTAN or, in other words, find something valuable about it that people must have seen then and can notice nowadays. It is the aspect for which we can be grateful to Judith Krantz but, at the same time, be glad that the producers of the novel adaptation did not skip: family presentation with a wonderful insight into marriage. At the same time, the stories develop such dilemmas as huge wealth leading to 'race of jealousy' among people, hatred leading to wretchedness of fratricide, children as a saving goodness of marriage, love of life as a defeating force against all fear of blindness or other disabilities. The abortion that Cutter offers Lili Amberville is rejected by her and the birth of a child never makes her regret that decision. That is great about MANHATTAN and makes it a TV series, despite everything else, worth seeing.

So, you probably wonder why I rate this TV series from a bit different perspective. Having a pretty unique experience with this story and some very personal memories I identify with it, I don't attempt to praise it as people in Poland did years ago nor criticize it thoroughly. With an objective eye, I recommend you to see it and try to find something positive about it.

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6 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

I Liked the Movie and thought it was great

Author: cdawson-2 (cdawson@pd.state.gov) from U.S. A. - Manassas, VA
29 January 2003

I liked the movied. Do you know where I can purchase this movie. I like Valerie Bertnallie and the other actors and actresses. It was really well done. The book is good too. It is a little like the movie. I recommend getting the book and movie if I can find it.

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2 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Glitzy, but forgettable

Author: budikavlan from Austin, Texas
5 June 2002

Not the worst high-gloss melodramatic miniseries ever, but nothing to write home about, either. The most memorable thing about this multi-generational tale of romantic and business intrigue is the skunk stripe in Valerie Bertinelli's hair. Perry King makes a hammy villain, Valerie B. is too lightweight for her role, and Francesca Annis does little with a rare role on this side of the pond. There are too many people to keep straight at times, too. All told, an okay way to kill time if you have nothing better to do.

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0 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Ok for desperate evenings. But, what happened to the rest of the series?

Author: agfischier from NYC
25 June 2003

I know this book very well. Love Krantz: sex and shopping fun. But, this series has been hacked to pieces. Roughly half of the film has been discarded. The credits show scenes from Maxi's other marriages, scenes with India, et al, all somewhere in lost-TV Land. Snippets of Maxi with Dennis at the Casino in Monte would be nice, and on that yacht. Whither Castle Kirkgordon? The brothers and their interesting problems have disappeared from the version in circulation on TV. Bertinelli is, of course, ludicrous as Maxi. Cannot wear clothes, short with a dumpy figure, and nothing hair; some siren! Jack Scalia as Rocco is photographed in an erratic fashion: he looks like an Adonis in the better scenes only. They haven't even matched his hair between shots taking place on the Same Day. What slop! Perhaps this will go into re-release in a restored version. Why not? Mini-series will be made no more.

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4 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

The Transforming Woman

Author: tedg (tedg@filmsfolded.com) from Virginia Beach
14 October 2007

Oh my. This is so bad in so many ways. It may qualify for my list of worst film experiences I have ever had, and that's quite an achievement. Its not only bad, its a huge investment.

Sure, the production values are poor and the acting is quite literally at the Ed Wood level. But we forgive those shortcomings in other projects that have life. That's supposed to be supplied here by our spunky heroine who redeems herself. There's supposed to be some narrative folding here: the story is about a story-telling organization, a magazine company, that reinvents itself as the woman who is doing the reinventing reinvents herself.

She previously was a spoiled rich girl, incapable of a real relationship. Well, it could have worked, but what we have here is a personal reinvention because she says so.

Why did I waste so many hours of my shortening life on this drek? Because it is a nominally folded project that has Julianne Moore in it.

There are many filmmakers that I follow, but very few actors and she's one. There's a very special quality a few actresses have. It may not matter to many others, this quality, but I find it fascinating. Its the ability to enhance a self-referential narrative by assuming a dual persona: the character of course plus some other dimension that observes, mirrors or annotates that character. It creates an intimacy between the viewer and the film, placing the actress partially in the role of storyteller as well as token.

Its a skill that is much discussed in certain circles, and indeed in late 91, a small group of like-minded actors met to develop their skills in this direction. These workshops became quite famous, coalescing on Checkov projects. In '93 they were talked into an extremely folded film, producing something you really must see: "Vanya on 42nd Street." That experience sent our Julianne into the world of intelligent film, where for five years she was our most interesting and intelligent actress. Then around five years ago, she started to waver. The reason could simply be weariness, appreciation of the costs, or investing in a relationship that she didn't want to risk.

But the question still matters a bit about what she was like before those appreciated workshops?

As it happens, she's in this project in a very minor role. She plays an actress, which in later times she would have wrestled into value in spite of the lunkheads around her. She doesn't. For some reason during this part of her career she tried to play the pretty girl only. Eyes, smile twinkling. Its as lackluster as what surrounds her.

What a transformation, from a nobody to a somebody, apparently through the sort of reinvention this movie thinks about but doesn't accomplish. But she did, and I suppose we should celebrate what we have.

Ted's Evaluation -- 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.

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0 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

crap version of good book

Author: (ever_and_ever1592@hotmail.com) from north carolina
22 September 2002

don't watch this. go read the book. tv cannot do this story justice, what with rating restrictions and all. the best parts of books like I.T.M. lie in being privy to the characters thoughts (and their sex lives as well) which do not translate to screen, and especially not in '87! so give this a pass, and let it rot in peace.

final words: waste of time.

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