Reviews written by registered user
chrstphrtully

Send an IMDb private message to this author or view their message board profile.

Page 1 of 5:[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [Next]
48 reviews in total 
Index | Alphabetical | Chronological | Useful

Brilliant Lawyer, Stupid Mistake, 26 January 2016
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Two ad men are found murdered in a rooftop parking garage, and the investigation leads to a potential third victim and a conspiracy between a hit-man, a defendant in a major Federal case, and the attorney in the middle. This is a marvelously intricate episode -- heavy on the law, but extremely well-thought out -- focusing on conspiracies, legal principles of severance and joinder, and a grudge match between Stone (Moriarty) and renowned genius attorney Arthur Gold, played by the late, great George Grizzard in a delightful performance.

This episode is presented as one in which Stone's hubris comes home to roost with a stupid mistake, but what is truly ironic is that the stupid mistake comes from Gold, not Stone. The key piece of evidence in the case involving all three key players is a tape that is suppressed (due to the failure to honor the middleman's right to counsel); when Gold tries to manipulate Stone to sever the defendants (by implying that Stone has a conflict of interest with the middleman -- one which is dubious from an legally ethical standpoint, but works dramatically), it backfires since New York allows suppressed evidence against one member in a conspiracy to be admitted in a severed trial against another defendant who is not party to the severed case. How Gold misses this from a legal standpoint is unfathomable, but it makes for a very satisfying ending.

The cast here is fantastic. Moriarty is superb fencing opposing Grizzard, Sam Groom (as the middleman) is wonderfully slick, and Ralph Bell as the judge hearing the cases is hilarious as his limited patience for Stone's and Gold's pissing contest becomes obvious. One of my favorite episodes, despite its flaws.

Wickedly Clever Episode, With Two Superb Performances, 16 June 2015
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A skeleton found on Roosevelt Island turns out to be the victim of a murder prosecuted by Stone wit years earlier. The only problem is that the body is nowhere near the location Stone's prime witness said it had been buried, and the cause of death is different. Enter Philip Swann (Zeljko Ivanek), the Wall Street manipulator Stone prosecuted eight years before, seeking a new trial, just as the evidence supporting the conviction starts to disappear.

This episode stands out as one of the best of Michael Moriarty's last season on the show, establishing yet one more case that puts Stone's undying faith in the justice system to the test, with this case as the most personal yet. Ivanek is superb as the slick defendant, who has an answer to every question, and takes an almost sociopathic glee in building the walls around Stone; Moriarty is every bit his equal, subtly conveying the growing frustration with being headed off at every proverbial pass by Swann's machinations. Steven Hill nicely rounds the performances out, as Schiff's amazement at the effectiveness of Swann's plan counterpoints Stone's growing desperation.

***SPOILER*** While the episode is, for the most part, extremely well written, it does have two glaring plot holes (at least, from the perspective of this lawyer) that prove critical to the plot and, specifically, how Stone draws the connection fhat enables him to finally trip Swann up. While Swann's lawsuit against Stone is believable (given the character's ego), Swann's comment in deposing Stone that, because he was acquitted in his second trial, Stone was somehow legally precluded from arguing in his own defense that the key witness in the first trial was testifying truthfully, is simply wrong as a matter of law (something both Stone and Kincaid should pick up on). Further, contrary to what Kincaid states, the names of "jailhouse lawyers" don't normally appear on the briefs filed by inmates in court documents -- thus, the clue that leads Stone to be able to prove Swann's fraud upon the court is nothing more than a contrivance -- perhaps a minor point, but one that kind of what mars an otherwise elegant and wickedly clever episode.

Wickedly Clever Episode, With Two Superb Performances, 15 June 2015
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A skeleton found on Roosevelt Island turns out to be the victim of a murder prosecuted by Stone wit years earlier. The only problem is that the body is nowhere near the location Stone's prime witness said it had been buried, and the cause of death is different. Enter Philip Swann (Zeljko Ivanek), the Wall Street manipulator Stone prosecuted eight years before, seeking a new trial, just as the evidence supporting the conviction starts to disappear.

This episode stands out as one of the best of Michael Moriarty's last season on the show, establishing yet one more case that puts Stone's undying faith in the justice system to the test, with this case as the most personal yet. Ivanek is superb as the slick defendant, who has an answer to every question, and takes an almost sociopathic glee in building the walls around Stone; Moriarty is every bit his equal, subtly conveying the growing frustration with being headed off at every proverbial pass by Swann's machinations. Steven Hill nicely rounds the performances out, as Schiff's amazement at the effectiveness of Swann's plan counterpoints Stone's growing desperation.

***SPOILER*** While the episode is, for the most part, extremely well written, it does have two glaring plot holes (at least, from the perspective of this lawyer) that prove critical to the plot and, specifically, how Stone draws the connection fhat enables him to finally trip Swann up. While Swann's lawsuit against Stone is believable (given the character's ego), Swann's comment in deposing Stone that, because he was acquitted in his second trial, Stone was somehow legally precluded from arguing in his own defense that the key witness in the first trial was testifying truthfully, is simply wrong as a matter of law (something both Stone and Kincaid should pick up on). Further, contrary to what Kincaid states, the names of "jailhouse lawyers" don't normally appear on the briefs filed by inmates in court documents -- thus, the clue that leads Stone to be able to prove Swann's fraud upon the court is nothing more than a contrivance -- perhaps a minor point, but one that kind of what mars an otherwise elegant and wickedly clever episode.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Arguably the Best of the Series, 31 May 2015
10/10

While his car is being worked on, burned out adman Martin Sloan takes a walk into his old hometown, and finds that it hasn't changed a bit since he was a young boy.

Along with "Patterns", "Requiem for a Heavyweight", "A Passage for Trumpet", and "They're Tearing Down Tim Riley's Bar" (from "Night Gallery"), "Walking Distance" is probably in the top five scripts Serling wrote for television. A brilliant story that taps into a universal desire -- to recapture the best moments of our past at the worst times of our present -- and it delivers in every respect. Serling uses his own personal recollections of his youth to create the town of Homewood, and it's equally clear that Martin's current frustrations find their source in Serling's own experiences in Hollywood. His script is spot on in establishing the high stakes Martin has at the beginning of the story, as well as the genuineness of Martin's fond (but not overly-sentimental) recollections of his hometown.

Gig Young's performance in the lead is superb, subtly blending the warmth and intelligence of the character with the more evident world-weariness, making for a fully- rounded interpretation. As Martin's father, Frank Overton (better known to many as either the sheriff in "To Kill a Mockingbird" or from the Star Trek episode "This Side of Paradise") is equally strong, and his final scene with Young is one of the most touching ever shot for the series. And Serling's monologues fit beautifully within the narrative, rather than serving as mere framing devices.

In short, one of the series' top episodes, if not the best.

An Erstwhile "Sunset Boulevard" Rerun, Minus the Pathos, 31 May 2015

Former movie queen Barbara Jean Trenton insists upon spending all of her time locked away in the projection room of her mansion, lost in her past cinematic glories. Her agent desperately tries to find her work playing characters her own age, but Barbara refuses to bring herself out of the past, and into reality.

What would have happened if Rod Serling had written the screenplay for "Sunset Boulevard"? This episode more or less answers the question, and not very promisingly. The real problem here is the character of Barbara who (as written by Serling and played by Ida Lupino) is so cold and narcissistic, it's impossible to care very much for her, or to figure out why her agent (well-played by Martin Balsam) is willing to go the lengths he does. What made the delusional Norma Desmond character so much more affecting in "Sunset Boulevard" is that we got a sense of someone who -- at least in her own mind -- was trying to atone for what she perceived as her greatest sin (leaving her fans by retiring), she came off as sympathetic. Lupino, on the other hand, comes off entirely rational and, consequently, entirely undeserving of the audience's sympathy. This approach seriously undermines the power the episode might otherwise have.

That's not to say the episode doesn't have its strengths -- Balsam's performance being the primary one. Jerome Cowan (Miles Archer in "The Maltese Falcon") also gives a nice turn as a former leading man of Barbara's, who tries to convince her to act her age, and Mitchell Leisen's direction also plays nicely with illusion/reality motif.

In a later season, this might have been one of the better episodes; for the first season of this series, however, it's a little disappointing.

Superb Story of Redemption, With One of the Series' Best Lead Performances, 27 May 2015
9/10

Drunken ex-gunfighter Al Denton, after being harassed by local thugs, is approached by a mysterious peddler, who gives him a potion that allows 10 seconds of deadly shooting accuracy.

While the Twilight Zone is best remembered for twist endings, it's best episodes almost always featured richly developed characters and/or sharply delivered plots that set enormously high stakes for those characters. "Mr. Denton on Doomsday" delivers on both in spades. Dan Duryea made his career as a villain throughout the 40s and 50s -- a character with a charming smile and a deadly sneer to match the personality. In this episode, he creates a character wallowing in alcoholic desperation arising from the loss of what he perceives is his greatest gift (his abilities as a gunman), ready to grab at anything that will revive this gift; the real twist in this episode is what his character learns from reviving that gift, a moral lesson delivered by Serling without unnecessary syrup (something many later Serling-written episode would be all too full of).

The performance that Duryea creates hits all of these notes brilliantly, and he is richly supported by the entire cast -- Jeanne Cooper and Ken Lynch as the sympathetic saloon owner and bartender, Malcolm Atterbury as the inscrutable peddler, and Martin Landau as a sadistic thug who terrorizes the Duryea character. Further, Allen Reisner's direction keeps the look as a standard Western, giving the audience a familiar surrounding in which to allow the story to unfold.

This episode is not the one most think of when they think of classic Twilight Zone episodes, but it should be.

An Episode That Lives Up To Its Title, 27 May 2015
8/10

Death comes to claim beloved door-to-door salesman Lew Bookman, who is beloved by the local children, but Bookman convinces Death to allow him to stay alive long enough to make the pitch of a lifetime. When Death suspects that Bookman is simply playing for time, he decides to take a substitute.

"One for the Angels" is Serling's first great Twilight Zone script, anchoring itself in well- defined characters with believable (under the circumstances) emotional stakes. With a different actor in the lead, the Bookman character might seem too good to be true; in Ed Wynn's hands, however, the character's warmth and bond with the children of the neighborhood is genuine, and his charm at putting off Death is equally believable (again, given the circumstances). Equally impressive is Murray Hamilton (an often-underrated character actor) as Death, taking an otherwise metaphysical figure, and imbuing him with genuine stakes (maintaining the balance of the world) while at the same time adding a bit of subdued sympathy for the plight of his mark.

To be sure, this is not a perfect episode, as the "pitch of a lifetime" does leave a little to be desired. Nonetheless, the balance between the Wynn and Hamilton characters makes the story strangely believable on its own terms, and deeply affecting. In other words, the definition of a classic Twilight Zone episode.

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Got the Series Going, But Little Else, 27 May 2015
4/10

Ferris (Earl Holliman) appears in what otherwise appears to be a typical urban setting, wearing an Air Force jumpsuit -- so why can't he find anyone else in the town?

"Where Is Everybody?" was the premiere episode for the classic series but, ironically, it lacks much of what made the series so great -- sharp writing, moral lesson (or at least ingenious plotting) and, of course, a wickedly clever twist. To be sure, Serling's original teleplay sets up what figures to be a clever (albeit straightforward) mystery, but the story runs out of gas pretty quickly; after all, the Ferris character appears to speak every thought in his head, and neither the script nor Holliman's flat performance does anything to make those thoughts interesting enough to sustain a 30 minute script. Further, while the twist isn't bad, it would have an even bigger impact if the token in question had more meaning.

In the end, this episode's biggest asset is that it got the show on the air; good as a nice piece of history, but not much else to recommend it.

6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
A Comeuppance of Sorts, 11 June 2014
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

After a scream, a woman is found at the bottom of her stairs, unconscious, and the investigation leads to her possibly being stalked beforehand. However, when some parts of her story don't add up, Briscoe and Curtis drop the case, thinking she's made the story up -- with tragic results. When the best evidence to catch the killer is excluded (based on the police's prior conclusion that the prior attack was faked), Briscoe has a change of heart, and offers to testify that he made a mistake, while Curtis and Van Buren believe that he's committing perjury.

This story is well-drawn, and very well-acted, playing off Briscoe's tendency to skirt the the rules, and Orbach's portrayal of Briscoe's understated anguish over the case is superb. Bratt is very good as well, but the weakness of this episode lies in the Curtis character as a whole (and as written) -- specifically, Curtis' insufferable self-righteousness and unwillingness to even entertain the possibility that he might have been wrong (worse still, Van Buren takes the same view). While a more shaded point of view from Curtis' character might have made this more compelling (Briscoe's testimony makes it clear there was evidence that the cops plainly overlooked), the way he's portrayed in this case plainly shows he's never entertained the possibility of being wrong.

While it could have been much better, the show is still often compelling, with additional fine performances from Susan Floyd as the terrified victim, and Steven Gevedom as the sleazy suspect.

1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Very Weak Adaptation, With Plenty of Blame to Go Around, 12 March 2011
4/10

Of the entire Shakespearean canon, "Julius Caesar" is probably one of my five most favorite plays (and, yes, I have read all 38, counting Edward III), because it really does have a great deal to say about the complexities of politics, even in the current day. Unfortunately, this production seriously misses the mark.

One of the core problems with the film is the cheapness of the production. Roger Ebert noted in his review of the film 40 years ago that the sets looked like they would wobble and fall if someone simply touched them, and he wasn't kidding. Equally problematic, however, is the poor dramaturgy of the play, as for key scenes it seems that key lines were removed at random, while more trivial lines were left in for simple convenience's sake. Stuart Burge directed one other Shakespearean play for film (Olivier's 1965 "Othello", which brilliantly used the limited scope of the budget to convey Othello's claustrophobic view of his own world as the play progressed), but this one seriously suffered from his minimal experience with medium, as the use of cheap effects (e.g., Caesar's 1970s-style appearance during at the end of the tent scene) clearly shows.

The acting is truly disappointing. Jason Robards' performance as Brutus has historically come in for vitriol, and not without reason. At the outset, he is somewhat "zombieish", but the performance does improve somewhat at the piece goes on, with some nice work in the tent scene, and in his final scene with Strato. Charlton Heston as Antony, on the other hand, is completely unconvincing -- several of his key speeches ("O, pardon me, though bleeding piece of earthy" and "Friends, Romans, countrymen") are completely unconvincing -- indeed, the latter of these two is completely shallow, telegraphing Antony's motives from the outset, which really submarines the effect of what follows. Gielgud is all right as Caesar, as is Robert Vaughn as Casca, but Richard Chamberlain is outright embarrassing as Octavius, conveying a sort of pinup idea of the character, with little indication of how dangerous he truly is. Diana Rigg (Portia) and Jill Bennett (Calphuania) are all right, though their parts are edited beyond recognition (e.g., Portia is never given the opportunity to show her self-inflicted wound to Brutus, which really demonstrates who devoted she is to him).

The only performance that really emerges unscathed is Richard Johnson, as Cassius, as only he seems to have a real idea for how to subvert his ego to the text and character -- the editing of the film clearly shows that much of his best work is badly edited, cutting off in the middle of key speeches (e.g., "Well, Brutus, thou art noble...") and embarrassing speeding his death scene to the point it looks like a Benny Hill spoof. Notwithstanding this, he still manages to project his role as a man who truly believes he is being marginalized by the hero worship of Caesar.

Having directed this play myself, and being a great fan of several of its leads (Robards, Johnson, Rigg, Gielgud), I can't help but wonder what might have emerged from a different director and either different actors or actors at different points in their careers (e.g., Robards and Gielgud). Lord knows in the days of the Tea Party and Fox News (read, Antony's plea to the Plebeians), this play is ripe for revisiting.


Page 1 of 5:[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [Next]