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96 reviews in total 
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Throwing Caution to the Wind, 17 August 2016

Though the plot of "The Sandpiper" is thin and obvious, the film has enough virtues to make watching it time well spent. Mainly, the chance to wallow in Elizabeth Taylor's beauty, here just about as undone and natural as she ever allowed; Hair blowing in the gentle breeze wafting off the magnificent Big Sur coastline. Richard Burton looks pretty good too, the couple still oozing the magnetism that brought the stars together in the first place. Eva Marie Saint gives expert support in the thankless role of a neglected wife. The scenery is fantastic, the music ('The Shadow of Your Smile") nothing short of sublime, and last but not least, are Herb Rosenthal's gorgeous calligraphic titles.

Bye Bye Bir-Hee, 20 July 2016

On the surface, this film is still moderately entertaining. But there's much to take away from it half a century later that was never intended. It depicts a world that suddenly disappeared soon after. Clinging to the last vestiges of Eisenhower-era innocence (when the Broadway production played) the film was dated by the time it opened. 1963 ushered in a slew of events that changed everything - the Kennedy assassination, the civil rights movement, The Beatles. The people of "Bye Bye Birdie" didn't know what was about to hit them. Ann- Margret's chaste romance with Bobby Rydell is way too saccharine. Janet Leigh is an uncomfortable choice as a Latina spitfire (a role played onstage by Chita Rivera who apparently wasn't palatable for movie audiences). Paul Lynde steals the show with his hilarious signature shtick, which today would be openly gay. It's hard to take any of this without a grain of salt. Not to be overlooked are the embarrassing opening and closing sequences where Ann-Margret sings and mugs for the camera while inexplicably mispronouncing "Birdie."

Half Thriller, Half Love Story, Half Baked, 9 June 2016

I like this movie despite its many flaws and would cautiously recommend it. Possibly because Deneuve and Belmondo are such an attractive couple it doesn't matter what they do. The first half of the film is a Hitchcockian thriller about deceit, greed, and obsession set against the exotic backdrop of Reunion Island. But the mystery is cleared up quickly and it becomes a rather unconvincing lovers-on-the-run drama, not unlike Belmondo's "Breathless." I found the ending to be a colossal letdown in light of everything leading up to it. This was Truffaut's second attempt at a "Hitchcock" movie, and I think "The Bride Wore Black" succeeds better than this one because Truffaut maintains the suspense throughout. It's also got the edge thanks to the Bernard Herrmann score. Had "Mississippi Mermaid" stuck to its roots as typically offbeat Cornell Woolrich pulp fiction it could have been great.

The World According to Welles, 5 June 2016

Despite watching this movie several dozen times, I still don't quite understand the plot. Nevertheless, it doesn't take away from the many pleasures of this unusual film. It may be disjointed, but it's never dull. For me, it's a visual feast. The camera-work alone, much like "Citizen Kane," is vastly innovative. How fascinating to watch the aquarium scene with its magnified fish overpowering the conversation. Rita Hayworth looks beautiful - lovingly photographed, often in closeup, with her then-controversial short blonde haircut. I chuckle when she's chasing after Orson Welles in Chinatown and suddenly starts speaking Chinese with the locals! Or entering a room in silhouette, like a spider woman, after Broome is shot. The justly-famous ending in the Hall of Mirrors remains one of the most vivid sequences in film history. Credit goes to Welles for once again pushing the envelope and coming up with something unique and daring.

An Atmospheric Guilty Pleasure, 25 May 2016

This is an odd, somewhat offbeat film, best appreciated if you're in the mood for a satisfying guilty pleasure. It helps to have a certain taste for this sort of thing - an atmospheric adult melodrama of the kind they don't make anymore. The plot meanders and the suspense falls flat, but there's enough going on to keep the viewer interested. Susan Hayward looks beautiful and though she has a tendency to overact in many of her movies, here she's a bit more subdued while still maintaining her tough-as-nails persona. Peter Finch brings his reliably commanding presence to his role. Diane Cilento looks great and gets to act crazy. The ending tries to be a clever twist but is rather ludicrous, just like the rest of the film. Overall "I Thank a Fool" provides a pleasant diversion.

Murder Most Civilized., 28 March 2016

Entertaining and absorbing tale of greed, deception and murder, all carried out with a very civilized British accent. Indeed, so civilized you keep hoping the villain will get away with his crimes. Dirk Bogarde exudes an undertone of menace beneath the serene exterior, which makes him so interesting to watch. But as soon as Margaret Lockwood enters the picture, she completely steals the show. Her character is quick on the uptake and never at a loss for words. A truly great performance. Kay Walsh and Mona Washbourne bring expert support in their roles. The story moves along rapidly and is filled with twists and turns and though it falls apart at the end, that doesn't take away from the fun of everything that's preceded it. Highly recommend "Cast a Dark Shadow" and wish it was more readily available on DVD.

The Birds (1963)
Let's Talk About Tippi, 24 January 2016

From the day "The Birds" opened in 1963, Tippi Hedren has been subjected to some very harsh judgment for her acting. Critics were unimpressed. Perhaps they resented an unknown with no acting experience following in the footsteps of stars like Ingrid Bergman and Grace Kelly. Viewers to this day still insist her performance is "wooden." I think they're wrong.

Tippi Hedren for me is the ultimate Hitchcock heroine, created from the ground up by the Master who took all the best elements of his former leading ladies and produced his ideal blonde beauty. Just what James Stewart attempted with Kim Novak in "Vertigo."

Watch "The Birds" again, solely for her performance (And to a somewhat lesser degree, "Marnie"). You can see Hitchcock directing every flicker of the eyelid, every purse of the lips. Lovingly made up, clothed and photographed, she is, as aptly described by Camille Paglia, a "walking work of art."

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
The Bride Wore Black (and Blue), 22 January 2016

Take out all that endless sword fighting and what you have is a remake of Francois Truffaut's 1968 Hitchcock homage, "The Bride Wore Black." And just in case you didn't quite get it, Tarantino throws in composer Bernard Herrmann's whistling theme from his score for Roy Boulting's 1968 British thriller "Twisted Nerve." You have to hand it to Tarantino, he knows what he's after and how to get it. He simply steals from the best. To his credit, the direction is always smooth, inventive and sure-handed. Whether his films are good or bad, they always look great. No expense is spared and no detail is too small to fill the screen with eye-popping visuals. Now, if only he could refrain from all that blood and guts, he might make a good movie someday.

Hopelessly Dated, 18 January 2016

Maybe this film was shocking and avant-garde in its day, but try sitting through this thing today and you'll find it mind-numbingly dull, self-conscious and embarrassingly over- indulgent. Putting aside all the visual tropes that take up the majority of this film's achingly long 137 minutes and examining the plot, the idea of a woman questioning her life and whether to endure a cheating husband dovetailed nicely with the emerging women's movement of the time. We're over it. We get it. We recognize that women are smarter than that. No need to read more into it than what we see here on screen, which is pretty shallow and way too artsy. For a much better take on the same subject, see Paul Mazursky's 1978 "An Unmarried Woman." The one redeeming feature of "Juliet of the Spirits" is the lively score by Nino Rota which may possibly keep the viewer awake.

Call Me Crazy, But I Like This Film, 28 November 2015

Yes, it's talky and disjointed. The dialog is stilted. The actors look uncomfortable. The gowns are atrocious. But like many of writer and director Joseph L. Mankiewicz's gabfests there's a lot of intelligent observation going on, which elevates its soap opera plot. And Ava looks great. As an exposé of Hollywood foibles it falls flat, especially since the whole thing looks more like one of those international productions where everyone's speaking different languages and are badly dubbed. Bogie comes off well, though his appearance is sadly dissipated. Rossano Brazzi brings his reliably handsome and commanding presence. Edmond O'Brien's Oscar winning supporting role is hardly a standout. It's Ava's show all the way, and when she's not on screen is when you realize how awful the film really could have been. If you pay close attention, it's not so bad.

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