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Sentimental and sweet
An old-fashioned sweet movie, sort of Being There meets Cocoon. Only Shelly Winters is out of place in a one-note portrayal as the evil owner. This is a fitting valedictory for Carroll O'Connor who trots out his Archie Bunker accent for the occasion. Barbara Bain is marvelous and steals every scene she is in. Charlton Heston and Shirley Jones make me wish I could look, talk, and act like them at their age --- heck, make that even at my age, and they have 30 years on me. This has a sweet and winning charm, It may be a bit too much saccharine for hardened hearts, must most of us sentimental softies will want to watch it again and again.
Well-acted offbeat cop yarn
Joe Pantaliano, Wade Dominguez, and Robert Townsend make for a most interesting crimestopping team. This is a blue collar, unglamorous tale. Pantaliano's character is no superhero: he's a tax investigator and a family man (Great line: "I'm not interested in sex. I'm married.") with a rough-hewn manner and an unpleasant disposition. Dominguez is a great balance who goes along with Pantiliano for the ride as he does in life. The film is dedicated to his memory so he died very young. Townsend is perfect as the ambitious D. A. who finally agrees to take the case. Michael Chiklis (The Commish) nearly steals the film as a sympathetic Russian businessman being hunted by Russian mafia hit men. He is terrific in all of his scenes and teaches the boys about Russian life in Brighton Beach.
So Long at the Fair (1950)
This is an unsung masterpiece. The atmosphere of the 1896 Paris Exhibition is superbly recreated. Jean Simmons is magnificent as the heroine, and Dirk Bogarde has genuine chemistry with her as an aspiring artist who is the only one who believes her. Cathleen Nesbitt is perfection itself in her role, and a young Honor Blackman scores points in an important bit part. And David Tomlinson (later George Banks of Mary Poppins fame) is memorable as Simmons' brother. The sound track and art direction are also terrific. The script is taut and the dialogue crisp. All this and perfect pacing too. I've seen this five times and still look for it whenever it is on. Most highly recommended.
By the way, another reviewer thought this was some sort of re-working of Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes. Aside from the fact that someone vanishes (a man), not much else relates. This is much closer to a Jeanne Crain B-movie that came out a few years later called Dangerous Crossing.
Dangerous Crossing (1953)
This taut atmospheric mystery-at-sea gets great performances by Jeanne Crain, Michael Rennie, Max Showalter, and Carl Betz. The pacing is fast, and the characterizations are well-crafted. I have seen this movie six times, and I never tire of it. Everything is handled so professionally. I highly recommend it.
Gaily, Gaily (1969)
Atmospheric coming-of-age Jewison comedy
I originally saw this atmospheric turn-of-the-century comedy in the theaters in 1969, and recently saw it during the wee hours on a cable station. It still is charming and a lot of fun. Hume Cronyn is a standout in a key supporting role as a crooked politician. George Kennedy supplies a marvelous counterpoint to Bridges' wide-eyed male inguenue. And Margot Kidder nearly steals the film in her film debut as the prostitute who guides Bridges on his journey to manhood.
FYI -- another reviewer mistakenly referred to this as Beau Bridges' first movie, but he was only 20 years off. As a juvenile Bridges appeaed in 3 films -- most notably The Red Pony. As a teen, he was marvelous in the Explosive Generation as high school sex-ed teacher William Shatner's classroom nemesis. In 1967, he was riveting as the crippled hero in Larry Peerce's classic, The Incident.
The Incident (1967)
The narrative grimly details the emptiness of daily life and marriage in the living cesspool we euphemistically call New York. The acting is first rate with an excellent performance by Mike Kellin. Young Beau Bridges is especially good in a poignant role, and Martin Sheen and Tony Musante are brilliant as the two punks. The real star is the subway train itself.
Map of the Human Heart (1992)
Bad art house film
If your gig is imagery and art direction, you may find this opus fascinating.
But, if you care one iota about plot, consistent and or logical character motivation, and pacing, avoid this never-ending series of outrageous vignettes masquerading as a movie. To be certain, there are a number of vividly memorable scenes, but the characters played by the actors in one scene are completely inconsistent with what they do in the next scene.
The one thing the three leads do have in common is that they all act masochistically at the drop of a hat for no apparent reason. This is not my idea of a good time or good film making.
Warm, sentimental and winning
This is a sweet old-fashioned and knowing valentine to Chinese American family life in San Francisco. In many ways, it seems like a predecessor to the Joy Luck Club, complete with Joan Chen as a young Mah Jongg player. The pace here is somewhat leisurely, but the vignettes are warm and satisfying enough to sustain interest throughout.
Hec Ramsey: The Century Turns (1972)
Above average pilot for western mystery movie series
Richard Boone is superior as aging Hec Ramsey. Rick Lenz is fascinating in a character that provides a modern-leaning counterpoint to Ramsey's set ways. The always-resilient Sharon Acker is on hand to provide character. And, the ubiquitous Harry Morgan contributes his special brand of cynicism to a well-crafted, if somewhat leisurely paced, western mystery.
Die 3 Groschen-Oper (1931)
The duality of the classic opus is magnificently captured by G. W. Pabst. As the street singer, Ernst Busch perfectly captures the cynicism of the day and Pabst's filming of his songs falling on deaf ears precisely captures the fascination of the Germans with the hypocracy and corruption of the British. If you wish to attempt to understand what made Hitler's rise to power possible, the bitterness and hopelessness captured vividly, cynically, and oh-so-lyrically by this timeless classic provides an unparalleled perspective. Lotte Lenya show-stopping "Pirate Jenny" not only captures up the bitterness and thirst for revenge, but 70 years later still stands as the most memorable song in a movie ever.