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One of the most truthful movies on teenagers, 27 July 2014

Jim Stark (James Dean) is a teenage boy who is always getting into trouble. His parents give him lots of things but never listen to him. Judy (Natalie Wood) has an understanding mother but a father who hates her. Plato (Sal Mineo) has a father who never sees him and a mother who's never around and has no friends and is gay (implied heavily). He falls in love with Jim and Jim becomes attracted to Judy...but it all leads to tragedy and death.

Rightfully classic movie. It caught EXACTLY how it feels to be a teenager and treated its characters with sympathy. It spoke to a whole generation of kids and was a huge hit. Also it defined James Dean forever. He was already dead when this came out but that didn't stop him from becoming an idol to thousands of teenage boys who wanted to be just like him. Also it dared to have a gay character. Plato is (obviously) in love with Jim. It's never made explicit that he's gay (the Production Code wouldn't allow that in a movie back then) but it's pretty obvious through the looks Plato is constantly giving Jim. The acting is excellent across the board but Dean, Wood and Mineo are superb--especially Dean. When Dean yells out, "You're tearing me apart!" in one scene his anger and pain comes leaping off the screen. Also it's kind of fun to see Dennis Hopper so young. It is dated in terms of some dialogue and situations but I think any teenager can relate to the characters and their feelings. A must-see movie.

Constance Ford almost saves this...almost, 26 July 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Third episode on the first season of the Thriller TV series. Constance Ford plays an evil woman who married a rich man but he died in a car crash. She keeps getting money from her mother-in-law who hates her. She plans to inherit a lot from a rich old uncle who is dying...but he passes on leaving no will. Then she finds a diary he kept that (more or less) makes it clear that his sister (her mother-in-law) was poisoning him. Guess what she plans to do with the information.

Overly convoluted and just plain boring TV show. The twists and turns are thoroughly predictable and I actually laughed at a deathbed confession sequence (which neatly ties everything up). The cast is OK but its Fords show all the way. She's great and steamrolls through the show taking no prisoners. Unfortunately even her great acting can't make this show more than bearable. Too dull and predictable to bother with.

A well done drama but hardly a thriller, 24 July 2014

An episode of the "Thriller" TV series. It's about the Hattering family--father Bart (Frank Overton), mother Gale (Bethel Leslie) and only child Hank (Tommy Nolan). Bart has very little time for his wife and son. He's always busy writing articles for work. Gale and Tommy both feel neglected and alone. They rent a cabin in the woods one summer. Tommy is left to his own devices while his parents argue or work. Also his dad bought along two guns. Tommy gets one, loads it up and goes out hunting....

It's a good domestic drama. Most of the time is spent seeing Bart and Gale arguing and talking about whether should break up. The dialogue is good and both of the actors are excellent in their roles. However this is supposed to be a thriller...and it isn't. When we focus on Hank roaming around with his gun it gets kind of dull. Also since it's a 1960s TV drama we know how it will all end. It is well-done but just doesn't live up to the title of the series.

Interesting but ultimately not successful, 18 July 2014

Businessman Alan Patterson (Leslie Nielsen) is very successful. He also has a loving wife (Dianne Foster) and a small child. A seriously deranged woman named Lily (Natalie Trundy) falls in love with him and immediately declares they're lovers no matter how much Alan tells her they're not. Evil mail worker Merle Jenkins (George Grizzard) notices and decides to use it to his advantage. It all leads to a murder and various other complications.

The premiere episode of the "Thriller" TV series hosted by Boris Karloff. It's hardly a thriller. It's little more than a psychological drama with a killing thrown in. It is well-done and acted but it falls apart half-way through. Characters act incredibly stupid and do REALLY dumb things (especially Alan and Merle), there are great leaps of logic and it all ends up pretty predictably. Still it's worth seeing for Nielsen and Grizzard in two early roles.

Very good documentary, 10 July 2014

Very good and interesting documentary on Rod Serling. It focuses on his early TV work on Playhouse 90 and most notably The Twilight Zone. There are many clips from the old TV shows and lots of talking heads discussing Serling--his work and personality. What comes across is a very complex man. He was (obviously) a fantastic writer who changed the course of TV but was riddled with self-doubt and insecurities. It also goes on about how he was constantly fighting with TV censors who did their best to tone down his work. It's a fascinating portrait of a pioneer of TV and a nice look at how TV was run in the 1950s. This is a must for Twilight Zone fans especially.

1 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Well-done but where's the color?, 30 June 2014

Story of the rise (and fall) of the 60s group Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.

I saw the play this was based on and hated it. The songs were great but the dramatics were obvious and (frankly) quite boring. The movie doesn't change the play at all--it's almost a word by word copy. However I did like the movie a lot. For some reason the cornball dramatics actually worked better on screen than on stage. Usually it's the opposite. Also (with one exception) all the acting was great--especially John Lloyd Young as Valli (which he won a Tony Award for back in 2006). However there are two glaring problems here. One is Christopher Walken. He plays a gangster here who helps the boys. He's TERRIBLE! He looks bad and he gives a lousy performance. The other is the color--or lack of it! For whatever reason director Clint Eastwood shot the film in muted color. Bad decision. This is a MUSICAL--not some gritty drama. The bad color really weakens the film and makes the actors look like ghosts. And what's with all the swearing? The play had next to no swearing at all. However when they're on stage singing all is forgiven. I give a 7. Stronger color might have boosted my rating.

Somewhat preachy and dated but still powerful, 22 June 2014

Magazine writer Philip Green (Gregory Peck) is hired to write a series on anti-Semitism. He decides to let everybody thinks he's Jewish and see what happens. He quickly finds out how strong bigotry and hatred against jews really is.

I've read back when this was made in the 1940s anti-Semitism was accepted and tolerated and this movie showed people how evil it was. I'm not Jewish but I've never had a problem with it and find it hard to believe people ever did. So this movie was an eye-opener for many people. Unfortunately it also comes across as obvious and sometimes overly preachy especially at the end when we get THREE speeches against it. Still it's not a bad movie at all and went on to win three Academy Awards including Best Picture.

Peck is good in his role and Dorothy McGuire was also OK as his girlfriend--but those two had no romantic spark between them. Their kisses came across as awkward and forced and I never believed they were in love. Celeste Holm is great in a supporting role and won an Oscar for it. Also John Garfield has a small but crucial role. Wonderful character actress Anne Revere is also in this. The script is sharp and intelligent and doesn't pull punches in its dialogue. It moves quickly too. Still, as a very liberal guy, I found it so obvious that it didn't really have a huge impact on me. I give it a 7.

Fun atmospheric horror film, 19 June 2014

This is a dubbed Italian horror film that takes place in 1884 France. Emily has just come home to the huge spooky family castle after finishing school. With her are her fiancé John Taylor and his sister Alice. At home she discovers her father has died and her brother is in charge with all new servants and a suspicious doctor. Then there are screams in the night, a disfigured monster roaming about and a family curse that threatens Emily.

It doesn't make a whole lot of sense but it works. This is they type of horror film they used to show late at night on local TV stations. There's no nudity, sex or swearing and very minor blood and no gore. It takes place in a beautiful and very eerie castle drenched with atmosphere. The black and white photography only helps and there are even a few dark and stormy nights thrown in! This isn't really scary but it is lots of fun. The kind of horror movie to watch late at night with the lights off and some popcorn handy. I give it a 7.

Great French short, 15 June 2014

During the Civil War a man is about to be hanged from Owl Creek bridge for attempted sabotage. When he is hung the rope breaks. He quickly escapes and begins his long trip home.

I knew the surprise ending before I saw it so the ending didn't hit as hard as it might have. Still it works. There's next to no dialogue (except for some dubbed in English lines)--only music and a short ballad (sung in English). The acting is good, the direction excellent and there's some beautiful black and white cinematography. This is based on a short story by Ambrose Bierce. It's also available as an episode from "The Twilight Zone" TV series--although slightly edited. This deservedly won an Academy Award for Best Short Short Subject, Live Action. Well worth catching.

Good drama/comedy--not really a gay movie, 14 June 2014

Omar (Gordon Warnecke) is a Pakistani boy living in London caring for his sick father. His father gets his uncle to get him a job. Omar starts by washing cars but ends up buying a falling apart launderette from his uncle. He also meets his ex Johnny (Daniel Day-Lewis) a punk British kid. They refurbish the place and start having sex. But Johnny's friends HATE Pakistanis and the class differences between Omar and Johnny threaten to tear them apart.

This is often called a gay movie but I disagree. Yes there are two gay characters in it but their love story is just one of many elements. It deals mostly with the war between the British and Pakistani immigrants. The love story consists only of a few long and incredibly uncomfortable kisses. Both of the actors are str8 and (by all accounts) hated the kissing scenes. It comes through clearly on screen. That aside there lots of drama and comedy about Omar and his family and Johnny and his friends. This takes place in 1985 Britain and was originally shot for British TV so I didn't get all the cultural references and know very little about British life back then. Still I was able to pretty much follow it. The acting is very good by the supporting cast but the two leads don't really work. Warnecke is way too naïve to be believable and when he tries to act like he's tough it's laughable. Day-Lewis is VERY badly miscast as a punk. He was about 27 when he did this and looks older. He's a great actor NOW but back then had a lot to learn. Still this was an interesting comedy/drama about 1985 Britain.

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