Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
A Fine Romance (1981)
The Good Adjectives Are Already Taken
"A Fine Romance" *is* a charming, low-key show with delightful and appealing characters and performances. We first started watching it on video during a pledge-drive Britcom dry spell on our local PBS station and were hooked with the very first episode. The unfolding relationship between Laura and Mike is sweetly humorous, and the performances of Judi Dench and Michael Williams create completely engaging characters. You really feel for them and their awkwardness and wish them well in their efforts to forge a life together.
As other reviewers have said, this is definitely not a show with an American sensibility, and that accounts for so much of its charm and appeal. The principals are beyond the blush of youth, something rarely seen Stateside, at least in a non-family-centered show. The episodes are often character rather than "situation" driven, and even the situations generally reveal something of the characters; thus, many of the silly, overused devices of the American sitcom are mercifully absent.
In sum, a mild-mannered and well-written show beautifully pulled together by all involved.
That's My Boy (1981)
Lots of Sit, Little Com
This Mollie Sugden vehicle is based on the less-than-hilarious premise of a woman coincidentally being sent to work as a domestic for the son she gave up for adoption 28 years before and lives up to its promise. Though Ms. Sugden continues her crusty broad persona that was used to riotous effect on "Are You Being Served," and Jennifer Lonsdale is an appealing presence as her newly discovered daughter-in-law, the show falls terribly flat. The character of her son, Robert, is quite badly realized, though Christopher Blake makes a game try with the little he's given. None of this character's reactions seem realistic in the least, regardless of which mother he's treating boorishly. I've seen the first three episodes and have no desire to see more. The 483rd viewing of any of the hijinks on the floor of Grace Brothers provides more laughs than this mirthless exercise.
What's My Line? (1950)
A True TV Gem!
Watching reruns of the original What's My Line on the Game Show Network (which has just cancelled its "Black & White Sunday Night," much to my dismay) reminds me of what is missing in today's entertainment: Genuine wit and intelligence. The celebrity participants in this and other "early TV" panel shows simply sparkle in a natural way that is rarely if ever seen in today's world of airbrushed, stage-managed "images." There's an innocence, too, that could never be duplicated 40+ years beyond the heyday of these shows. It's really sad these programs can't find appreciation among a new audience, but perhaps the very qualities that seem so appealing are what hinder that. I hope some day this version of this show gets another chance to captivate audiences the way it captivates me.
See This Movie!
I saw it when it first came out, I've seen it several times since, and my last viewing was just a few weeks ago. It never seems flat or old.
It takes a look at an issue that doesn't necessarily seem to be a goldmine of laughs (racial difficulties in the early '60s) and turns it into just that without robbing it of any dignity or sense of importance. John Waters seems to have pulled out all the stops to insure this outcome, and it really paid off.
The "pleasingly plump" pre-talk show Ricki Lake turns in a great performance in a role that's an inspiration to "chunky" girls everywhere.
As always, Waters picks cameo and supporting actors that are dead-on perfect. His own turn as a psychologist is an absolute scream! Brimming with hysterical lines and set-ups, this is a comedy you need to see, if you haven't already.
Read the Book, See the Movie...
Definitely in that order. It increases comprehension. In fact, from reading some of the other reviews here, it may be the only way to enjoy this movie.
A great read; a better-than-I-expected screen adaptation. I had to see it, because I couldn't imagine how such a character-driven work would be handled on film. I will tell you that I was predisposed to think that it would not be handled well, but I was pleasantly surprised.
All in all, this movie manages to do a good job of condensing the book into a non-butt-busting film length, while remaining generally faithful to it. The length and the slowness of the movie are really the only ways to convey the meanderings of the book. It's part of the way this movie creates the slow Southern atmosphere that is such an integral part of the story. Savannah is a character in the book, and the only unifying force other than the author. It's easier to convey that in words than pictures, but Eastwood has done a good job of getting the point across here.
The casting is mostly great, particularly the supporting characters. Irma P. Hall's portrayal of Minerva is somehow soothing and slightly menacing, just as the woman seems in the book. I didn't know how the casting of the actual Chablis would affect the film, but she really delivers the goods without seeming like stunt casting.
I was irritated by what I felt were John's and Chablis' too-active roles in the court case, but I suppose I can understand the reasoning behind it. I don't have to like it, but I understand it. Just as irritating, and entirely disposable, was the romantic subplot. These two elements seemed out of the role of observer that Berendt makes for himself the book. Also, the Mandy character is sapped by taking a big, beautiful, interesting woman and making her a generic cute chick. Alison Eastwood does what she can with this bland creation, but I have a feeling that the movie character never would have been featured the book.
No, it's not the book, but no movie ever could be. A slavish adaptation would have been a truly boring film, not to mention way longer than this effort. (Can you say, "Just rent the AudioBook?") And no, it's not a twisting, turning thrill-ride, because the book isn't exactly jam-packed with plot. It is, however, a decent movie if viewed on its own terms and for its own merits. And after you've read the book.
The Feminist and the Fuzz (1971)
Archetypal Early-'70s TV Movie
If you're looking for the state-of-the-art of TV movies from this time period, look no further. Everything about this movie is serviceable and familiar. Just a bit more memorable than some TV movies, if only for the fact that it has more than its share of well-known players and some above average (if somewhat overblown) writing. Puts a comic spin on its battle-of-the-sexes/mores clash premise and churns out a mildly entertaining, ever-so-slightly provocative and risque (for the time) look at the relationship between a supposed feminist activist and her police officer roommate. It certainly does not go out of its way to make any statements for the ages. Formula from beginning to end...nary a plot twist in sight!!
There are certainly better uses of your time, but if you're home sick, and it's on, it could be an amusing way to pass the time.
Raucous, Uneven Fun
Next to Victor/Victoria, S.O.B. is probably my favorite Blake Edwards film. I'm not a great fan of his movies, but when his films are funny, they're usually hilarious. This movie has its fair share of laugh out loud moments that more than make up for some of the slow and less-well-scripted parts. It features a number of wonderful, if sometimes over-the-top, performances by many well-known performers. Most of the scenery chewing is very well in tune with the theme of this Hollywood harpooning. Given the ever-increasingly cynical nature of movie producing, some of S.O.B.'s elements even seem quaint.
The Viking send-off is one of my all-time most memorable movie scenes, and the fact that this is also William Holden's last role gives this section an added air of sadness.
Excellent Adaptation of a Great Story
A superior production. Stands up well, even compared to the classic Hitchcock film taken from the same work. More faithful to the original story than the film, most particularly in the wonderful, unglamorous portrayal of the second Mrs. DeWinter by Joanna David. Jeremy Brett's Maxim is brittle and at times nasty, as this character should be, but he also conveys the complex, wounded interior that has produced this outer man. Anna Massey is perfectly frightening as the imperious Mrs. Danvers, subtly but constantly threatening. The set design is gorgeous. Definitely recommended for fans of the book.
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)
What's not to love? The story is compelling and ultra-romantic, with deft comic touches. The performances are impeccable. Gene Tierney's great beauty adds poignancy to the story, but Rex Harrison makes the Captain into a man worth waiting for until you get to "the other side." One of the very few movies guaranteed to make me cry every time.
So Stupid It's Entertaining
When this movie was released, it spawned one of the all-time great capsule movie reviews: Sphinx Stinks. It does, but in a mesmerizing sort of way. The casting is silly, starting at the top: Frank Langella and Sir John Gielgud as Egyptians? Not enough makeup in Cairo for that, at least not while this film was being made. But it's rather amusing to see them try. The performances run the gamut from mummy-like (sorry, the obvious observation) to over-the-top, with very few stops in between. The Lesley-Anne Down character seems as though she couldn't find Egypt on a map, much less expound upon its archaeological treasures. That's due at least in part to some really bad writing, one of the curses that will be visited upon every viewer of this movie. It's my opinion that movies involving a curse or that draw their basis from a subject that is somewhat esoteric, such as Egyptology, are ripe for silly, overwritten dialogue. It doesn't disappoint, and the convergence proves a double-whammy. The plot has one driving source of dramatic tension: Can this get dumber and less believable? The answer is, usually, YES. The location shots are beautiful, and the set design is generally very good, the only consistent reminders that this wasn't some low-budget production. That and the fact that there are so many well-known faces doing service in such an unintentional laugher. Cheap, no; cheesy, yes.