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drednm

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822 reviews in total 
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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Brian Donlevy in an Epic B Film, 11 August 2017
8/10

Brian Donlevy stars as an immigrant who comes to America in the late 19th century and rises through hard work to become a success.

This film was written, produced, and directed by the great King Vidor at MGM and was meant to be an American industrial epic culminating in a WW II propaganda piece with bombers flying in formation. It was also supposed to be the story of an immigrant and his family. The film was screened at 150 minutes, and Louis B. Mayer demanded the film cut down to 120 minutes. Vidor has no part in the edit, so what remains is a choppy story with lots of documentary-like scenes of industry. Most of the family story got deleted.

Initially set up at MGM to star Spencer Tracy, Ingrid Bergman, and Joseph Cotten, by the time Vidor was ready to film, Mayer balked at the cost and proceeded with a B cast of Brian Donlevy, Ann Richards, and Walter Abel. John Qualen and Stephen McNally are the only other name actors in the cast.

Saddled with a B cast, Vidor still tried to make the film he envisioned, but there are far too many cost-saving things going on, especially the cheesy sets. While there are some location shots, these are pretty much confined to industrial scenes.

The real pity is that Donlevy gives a terrific performance as does Abel in a much-reduced part. Australian-born Richards, however, is pretty bad, and her accent seems to change in every scene. With the family stuff omitted by Mayer, the narrative is choppy and the "heart" of the film is gone.

It's no surprise that after this bowdlerized version was released in 1944, it was a major flop. MGM lost a bundle and Vidor never worked for the studio again.

"Flickers" (1980)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Joyous Spoof of Silent Films, 11 August 2017
10/10

This 6-part series is a joyous spoof of the beginnings of the British film industry with low-born Arnie Cole (Bob Hoskins) and sidekick Llewellyn (Fraser Cains) desperate to become filmmakers. Arnie is so desperate, he even forms a loveless marriage with a well-to-do spinster Maud (Frances de la Tour) to get the money to start his film company.

Many film "types" are spoofed, including the little comedian who's quite nasty in real life, the adult woman posing as a child star, the foreign-born auteurs, the great star who deigns to be in films ... for a price, and the unsung technical genius behind the camera who makes it all work.

Plot also shows what a cutthroat business it really was in those early years with sabotage and theft as usual business practices.

Driven by catchy music by Ron Grainer and star-making performance by Hoskins and De la Tour, the six episodes whiz by, leaving the audience wishing for more.

The subplot of the loveless marriage and how it grows makes the characters human and lovable.

Besides Bob Hoskins, Frances de la Tour, and Fraser Cains, there are many familiar faces in the large cast. Sherrie Hewson plays the hapless Letty, Andy de la Tour plays Maud's brother, Dickie Arnold plays Corky Brown, Jim Hooper plays Percy, Sheila Reid plays Lily, Philip Madoc plays Jack, Granville Saxton plays Legendre, Sheri Shepstone plays Violet, Peggy Ann Wood play nanny, Teddy Turner plays Eddy Marco, Joanna Foster plays Clara, and Maxine Audley plays the imperious Gwendolyn Harper.

Great fun. Not to be missed.

Beware the Silver Fish, 10 August 2017
9/10

This is a stunning B&W film shot on location on the Isle of Skye (for the most part), a weird story of sibling rivalry, lust, family honor, and age-old traditions and superstitions. In 1900, an orphaned "girl" arrives on the island to be the drudge of a dour family (a father and two sons). She is lusted after by one brother, but she loves the other. Eventually she's blamed for everything that befalls the family. Basic story is set against the rugged sea coast and a series of "old stories" that are mirrored by their modern-day life.

Patricia Roc is the girl. Finlay Currie is the old father. Maxwell Reed and Duncan Macrae (in a stunning film debut) are the brothers. Will Fyffe gets good billing for a small role as the jovial captain. Andrew Crawford plays Willie, and Megs Jenkins is Angustina. Certainly some stunning scenery. The film seems somewhat lacking in narrative structure, but you'll never forget the story of the little silver fish.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Frank Middlemass and Alan MacNaughtan, 28 July 2017
9/10

Wonderfully moving miniseries that comes awfully close to the classic GOODBYE, MR. CHIPS in many ways, but this one has a life and spirit all its own.

John Duttine stars as a Welsh veteran of the First World War who has been invalided out of service with a bad leg and shell shock. He arrives at a remote boys' school for a job as a teacher. He has no experience and no degree, but the headmaster (a towering performance by Frank Middlemass) knows instantly that the young man has the makings of a good teacher.

The series follows his years at the school, his marriage, his disappointments, and the many boys who pass through his life. The English settings are beautiful and the school is perfect.

One of the joys of this series is the acting. Duttine and Middlesmass are perfect as Powlett-Jones and Herries. They are joined by Alan MacNaughtan as Howerth, the older English teacher who's always ready with a sardonic jab and a glass of gin, and Belinda Lang as life-loving Beth. There's a nice turn by Neil Stacy as Carter, the very picture of pomposity, Patricia Lawrence as the ever-wise Mrs. Herries, and Tim Wylton as Griff.

Belinda Lang, Frank Middlemass, and Tim Wylton starred together in another terrific series, THE BRETTS in the late 1980s. Middlemass and Wylton also appeared on Judi Dench's long-running series AS TIME GOES BY.

Wonderful series may be kind of hard to find now. Not sure if it's ever been released on DVD.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Great Actors, 27 July 2017
8/10

This disjointed film noir is hobbled by a rambling narrative that spends too much time on a flashback and then devolves into a silly ending in North Dakota (with some hideous rear projection).

David Janssen stars as a finder of missing persons, especially heirs. He gets involved in a decade-old mystery in which a movie star vanished. Seems her rich daddy paid lots of hush money and she's long forgotten until her name comes up again after a woman is murdered.

Somehow, the case seems to involve a famous movie actor who seems to show up in odd places. Then there's an erudite fat man following him as well as an ex-wife who suddenly pops up.

Janssen gets hooked after visiting a a boozy ex-reporter who lets slips a few juicy details about the dead movie star. After a visit to her mother, he's on the trail that takes him, ultimately, to a shack in North Dakota.

The mystery isn't much and is given away in the flashback, after which the viewer just waits it out. But there are several excellent performances in this film. Janssen is solid. Jeanne Crain is wasted as the ex-wife. Dina Merrill is surprisingly good as Nikki. William Demarest is excellent as the boozy reporter as is Agnes Moorehead as the flinty mother. Jacques Aubuchon is also very good as the fat man, and Will Wright has a nice bit as the records keeper. Robert Strauss is good as Janssen's pal. That's TCM host Robert Osborne as the sailor with dance tickets. Brad Dexter is badly cast as the movie actor.

Certainy worth a look for some great acting and Gerald Fried's driving jazz score.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Thelma Ritter Steals the Show, 20 July 2017
9/10

Although Jeanne Crain gets star billing in this comedy/drama, and even Scott Brady as the X-Ray guy gets billing over Thelma Ritter, this is Ritter's film from the get-go.

She plays Mae Swasey, a no-nonsense marriage broker with a heart of gold. She makes a small living helping life's lonely plain-janes and balding swains find a little happiness. And some of her clients are real doozies. She holds little Sunday afternoon "parties" where the lonely and desperate come together over coffee and cakes and get nudged into pairs.

Of course Mae has a secret of her own: she's in the business because her husband was stolen away 20 years before and she knows loneliness. When she accidentally runs across a naive model (Crain) being strung along by a married man, she knows the score.

So Mae manipulates the model and a struggling X-Ray guy who makes only $75 a week in New York City into some sort of relationship. But they get resentful and send Mae packing. The trouble is that while these glamorous types might not need her help (but they do), many others really do.

Crain learns this after Mae closes shop and goes off to a resort for a rest. Crain meets a few of Mae's customers who can't make a move without her compassion and sage advice. Crain catches on and does a little manipulating of her own.

Thelma Ritter is sensational as Mae. She funny and down to earth and can spit a cherry pit across a room with the best of them. Jeanne Crain is good as the model, and Scott Brady does well as a X-Ray guy. Excellent supporting cast includes Zero Mostel, Nancy Kulp (in her film debut), Dennie Moore, Frank Fontaine, Helen Ford, Michael O'Shea, Allison Daniell as Mae's secretary, Maudie Prickett, Frank Ferguson, JOhn Alexander, Jay C. Flippen, Mae Marsh, Kathryn Card, and Joyce Mackenzie.

They don't make films like this anymore. More's the pity.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Felicity Kendal and Pam Ferris, 20 July 2017
10/10

This wonderful "who done it" British TV series lasted only three seasons and was canceled because of budget concerns. As it is, 22 episodes are available on DVD.

Basic plot has Rosemary Boxer (Felicity Kendal) who's been fired from her job as a university lecturer in plant pathology, and Laura Thyme (Pam Ferris) a housewife (and former police woman) dumped by her husband. The two meet by chance and form a fast friendship that leads them to start a business as gardeners. But they get more than they bargained for when they get involved in local politics, family squabbles, and (invariably) in murder.

The two women use their natural curiosity and knowledge of plants to help the cops solve the murders.

The show is notable for never showing the actual violence of murder and for having two women of a certain age who are not involved in relationships or with cutesy kiddies. Another big bonus is the gorgeous location filming at various estates around the UK and a few trips to the continent. The viewer can also pick up bits and pieces of garden lore and tips.

Kendal is of course a major TV star with hit series like THE GOOD NEIGHBORS and SOLO to her credit. Ferris also has a long list of TV credits. They work perfectly together. These women are smart, independent, and funny.

The series boasts a lot of familiar faces as guests like Anthony Andrews, Phyllida Law, Suzanne Bertish, Belinda Lang, Michael Cochrane, Mel Martin, Crispin Bonham-Carter, Margaret Tyzack, Tilly Blackwood, Julian Firth, Murray Head, Diana Hardcastle, Christopher Bowen, and Neil McDermott.

Terrific!

3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Charming Marceline Day, 14 July 2017
8/10

Simple story of young woman (Marceline Day) who gets a job as a French model. The problem is she's not French. It's all a pose, a clever idea by the manager of a fashion house when the real French model doesn't show up. It's also a favor to a wealthy patron. Of course she meets a handsome man (Bert Lytell) but has to maintain the ruse of being French and not speaking English.

Things come to a head when Lytell discovers she is "under obligation" to the other guy and that Lucette is really just plain Jane Miller. Will the mix-up be settled? Will love win out? Slight story is well handled and Day is quite charming. Lytell (at 41 years of age) is a tad long in the tooth, but seems to pull it off. Eileen Percy plays the pal, Ward Crane plays the cad, Arthur Hoyt plays the manager. Otto Lederer plays Katz with the usual Jewish schtick intertitles of broken English. And Miss Dupont plays Lila.

Highlights include the fashion show of outrageous "Paris gowns" that drip fringe, fur, and spangles, and the funny scene at the restaurant where everyone keeps speaking French to the poor dear and she ends up with a surprise meal.

3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Rosalind Russell and Kay Francis, 9 July 2017
9/10

Rambling and over-long comedy about a married couple (Rosalind Russell, Don Ameche) who argue over the idea of jealousy in marriage. He's a college professor who has written a dull book without having a clue what real jealousy is; she's the little wifey who secretly pines for a caveman type. They get involved with an unmarried publisher and his editor (Van Heflin, Kay Francis) who throw a monkey wrench into the marriage. It seems he's too flighty and she wants his full attention. Everything comes to a head when Heflin runs off to his island in the Adirondacks, only to be followed by Russell and then by Ameche and Francis. There, the men duke it out and the gals get down to a cat fight. Of course this silliness settles everything and both couples end up happy.

Sometimes way too talky and at other times just plain silly, but it's all quite watchable thanks to the four stars. The slapstick fight between Ameche and Heflin is the low point. But there's a dream sequence a la Salvador Dali that is quite funny.

Others in the cast include Donald Meek, Sidney Blackmer, Cecil Cunningham, Grant Mitchell, Gordon Jones, Anne O'Neal, Bernard Nedell, Henry Daniell, Julie Gibson as the singer (no, it's not Peggy Lee), and Robert Ryan as an extra playing a cop.

Rosalind Russell and Kay Francis come off best ... no surprise.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Show About Nothing ... but Larry David, 2 July 2017
10/10

Extremely funny show about nothing but Larry David who plays a fictional Larry David based on the real Larry David.

Storyline follows the everyday annoyances of Larry David (played by Larry David) in Los Angeles. He has a wife (Cheryl Hines), a manager (Jeff Garlin), his wife (Susie Essman) and a circle of friends, acquaintances, and guest stars.

The stories are brilliant and usually contain an ironic ending. No detail of life is too small to be obsessed over, as Larry (who hardly ever works) fills his life with friends and errands, grievances and bickering, and lots of apologies.

All the main characters can be annoying as hell and just plain hilarious.

The arc with the Blacks was probably way too long and more annoying than funny. And Hines' wife character is very annoying. She basically does nothing but arrange flower and furniture and does nothing useful.

Semi-regulars and guest stars over the years have included Richard Lewis, Jerry Seinfeld, Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Michael Richards, Wanda Sykes, Ted Danson, Mary Steenburgen, Shelley Berman, Paul Dooley, Julie Payne, Bob Einstein, Mel Brooks, David Schwimmer, Ben Stiller, Beatrice Arthur, Michael York, Rob Coddry, Cady Huffman, Dustin Hoffman, Sacha Baron Cohen, Kym Whitley, Vivica A. Fox, J.B. Smoove, Catherine O'Hara, Gina Gershon, Cheri Oteri, Philip Baker Hall, Lucy Lawless, Kathy Griffin, Edward Asner, Rita Wilson, Rob Reiner, Joan Rivers, Paul Sand, Anne Bancroft, Nathan Lane, Richard Kind, Jo Anne Worley, Kevin Nealon, June Squib, Steve Coogan, Michael McKean, Rosie O'Donnell, Wayne Knight, Estelle Harris, Ricky Gervais, and Stephen Colbert.

The show is a gem.


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