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|41 reviews in total|
Released in 1962 a week after Lawrence Of Arabia, Taras Bulba, was not
a thinking man's epic like Lawrence or any of the other epics of the
time, such as Ben-Hur, Spartacus, El Cid, King Of Kings it was more
of a grand adventure yarn and critics and audiences of the time were
just not that interested, despite the film having two big stars in Yul
Brynner and Tony Curtis, and a director, J. Lee Thompson, who'd just
come off a huge smash hit with The Guns Of Navarone. What Taras Bulba
did have was an absolutely brilliant score by the great Franz Waxman.
For me the Best Sequence in the film is the Ride to Dubno where the various Cossack legions meet up with each other in long extended gallop march sequence.
This film is largely overlooked now despite some broadcasts on TCM where I had the privilege of seeing it for the first time. It appears to be a throwback to that epic film-making style in the 1950s and 1960s but appears to be a bit truncated in its length to retell the Gogol story. The subplot love story between Andrei (Tony Curtis) and Christine Kaufmann is uninspired to say the least. The one interesting fact to note is that Tony Curtis married Christine Kaufmann after meeting her on this film.
For those of you too young to remember---African Killer Bees were considered a real threat to US populated areas and US crop. Looking back now it was popular fodder for a disaster/horror films to be made...Also to put things into perspective a bit, Irwin Allen was riding the zenith of his career during the production of this film having just come off the success of both the Poseidon Adventure and Towering Inferno...Both of those films are on the Top 10 list of box office champions of the 1970's so it was not difficult for Allen to assemble such an myriad of A-list stars and even convince some legends like MacMurray and DeHavilland to sign on for the project. Without going into the specifics of the film since most of the previous comments have done that...Its interesting to note that this film and Concorde Airport 1979 had pretty much closed the lid on the big disaster film genre in Hollywood...Producers were focusing on the big stars and budget and not the script since this was not considered serious drama...For disaster film buffs - Check out the early Airport films, Earthquake, or Poseidon and Towering Inferno...Allen directed here due to an implausible script so this film is just recommended as a curiosity now..And this film was meant to be taken straight and not camp.
I will underscore what has been said here on this 1974 remake of the 1947 Classic. The 1947 was such an original classic with wonderful performances by all the leads and supporting. Here Sebastian Cabot is probably the best choice to play the Santa but just cant compare to Edmund Gwenn's twinkle in the eyes..First the Miracle song in the Main title appears so "hokey" today but it does set the tone for the rest of the movie. The film in general does a credible job in updating the story for the 1970's but it has an impossible task to overcome as the world has changed and we have grown even more cynical of the Santa Claus story. I recommend it for curiosity only and I suppose there is a reason why this version hasn't really survived in the collective memory of repeated television broadcasts.
Moviegoers of the period must have been tiring of these grand spectacles to lure them away from television because this film is such a grand disappointment from what could have been. The pinnacle of these films was 1959's Ben Hur and only in five short years a film with such star-power and production values falls on its face like a ton of bricks. This was the last mega-production of independent producer, Samuel Bronston who rivaled in getting all the money put on the screen such as having the most expensive international cast and building a mammoth Roman Forum - which is probably one of the most impressive sets ever constructed in movie history. But unfortunately, it is the script most of all that is so horribly disjointed and badly conceived in its fictionalization of the sweeping historical events depicted in the fall of the roman empire. As far as acting most everyone is competent when they are on screen- again when there are so many characters we seem to get more cameo performances and one-scene speeches here, but this doesn't make a movie. Perhaps the most shining character is Christopher Plummer in his pre-Sound of Music days as the Emperor Commodus. Also merit should go to veteran character actor, Finaly Currie as an aging Roman Senator- but even he who has a short five minute scene can't save the film. Finally, one thing that disturbed me about this film was the suprisingly bland performance that Stephen Boyd gave in the lead - after his wonderful Ben-Hur performance he seemed subdued in this role - I think its a combination of that his character was poorly written and he wasn't a strong enough lead as Charlton Heston might have been who strangely enough rejected this role. This film is rememberred for closing the curtain on the historical epic for a time. It would not be until the movie "Gladiator" which parallel this movie in some ways that this genre would be back on the screen but with computer generated sets
This movie probably should never have been produced. But it was due to the box office successes of Lemmon-Matthau films like Grumpy Old Men, et al that governed its production. While it was sheer delight seeing these two film legends reprising their 1968 film roles, I also found it difficult to be kind to the script after being away from the original for so many years. The original Neil Simon scripted film is such a classic that revisiting it and coming up with amusing original material is an almost impossible task, even for the "herculean" playwright, Neil Simon. Thirty years have passed and we are to accept these classic characters as if time has stood still almost - this subtlety in the film makes the movie very difficult to watch. Seeing Lemmon and Matthau look so old since we last saw them in these characters was very unsettling for me and I found myself cringing in places where humor was supposed to be. Yes, there are some amusing situations and classic "Simon" dialogue" but the whole film is way off the mark and just unoriginal because a sequel to a classic just never seems to work. In summary however, this will go down in film history as another one of the classic film teamups with the great Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon. On that basis alone, the film is worth one viewing at least.
As a student of film history - this film will be rememberred for its groundbreaking car chase sequence with Steve McQueen actually doing much of his own driving. It set the standard for two other classic car sequences (French Connection and The Seven-Ups) and forever changed action sequences in film. As for the other parts of the film, I found it to be a rather routine cop drama even with McQueen who exemplified "cool" in the sixties. In 1968, this must have thrilled moviegoing audiences, but now the pace is a bit slow and the script doesn't tie together well in the conclusion. I fear this film will survive only for the car chase sequence. Recommended for the film historian in you.
We can never forget the horrors of the Holocaust which were committed by the Nazis during World War II. It is this theme that future generations of film viewers will see overwhelmingly portrayed mostly as the "embodiment of evil". This story is so critical in our understanding of how individuals who for duty to their country somehow perverted their political and military policies for mass murder to such an extent unlike the world has never seen. This miniseries does an excellent job in capturing the thought processes of the defendants (dramatically) and how the prosecution went about in convicting them. Notably, Brian Cox as Hermann Goering gives a compelling performance showing the former Reichmarshall's final days as prisoner believing his own propaganda. One Interesting thing, Goering admits that the mass murders were senseless. This is good drama but we don't know if this something he actually felt or said. Bottom line is that all of the defendants were equally guilty in the voluntary complicity in the formation of Nazi Germany and its responsiblities of its actions. This miniseries factually portrays the speeches of the prosecution and the politics of the Allies during these times. More or less, convictions were pre-determined. Finally, TNT should be applauded for producing a difficult subject that touches all of us and is so vastly reprehensible that it will never be forgotten and never allowed to occur again.
This film is interesting for only one reason - Cary Grant - he is the star and he stands head and shoulders above everyone in this film - even if you dont believe him in the character he is portraying here. As for the story - it focuses on what it must have like to be on shore leave in San Fransisco during World War II. This was based on a popular play in its day - but 20th Century Fox needed something to do with their new sex symbol - Jayne Mansfield - so they dumped her in these party scenes showing off her figure.(not bad) but it seems misplaced. The big tragedy of this film is gorgeous Suzy Parker - who wasn't that bad in this but didn't have much of a career after this apparently. Thats a tragedy.
Interesting things about comedies with social themes are that they tend to date themselves. On the surface, this clever written film about male fantasies about cheating on their wives is still relevant today in many respects. The only thing that perhaps dates the film is that all the husbands appear to be "executive" hard-working types while their wives seem to stay home and raise the family. Women didn't work in the sixties I suppose. Men and women will probably still conspire about adultery so the theme of the film won't go out of style. If the film had been made today - there would be alot more sex shown of course. What makes the film fun to watch are the episodes of wife cheaters supplied by famous celebrity cameos of the period. Obviously, the producers tried to copy "Mad, Mad World" but fell short.
Watch this movie for only one reason - Faye Dunaway's over-the-top performance as the legendary actress Joan Crawford. This film when originally released went throught alot of hullaboo just as did the book as it was based upon. I've never read the book by Christine Crawford so I can only accept what I see as this aging movie idol who takes on the "man's" world and vents her frustration out on her adopted daughter. There is no doubt that this is Dunaway's picture. She probably would have been recognized more for this performance if the subject matter wasn't so Hollywood trashy. As for this being a definitive "biopic" of Crawford's life it probably fails - it is so transfixed on the episodes of the ill-treatment that Crawford's daughter went through - we get no real sense of how Crawford gave us those entertaining performances on screen and how she turned into Mr. Hyde at home. But this was based on a tell-all book by her daughter.
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