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Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
My love/hate relationship with this film
Once again, after waiting about a year, I watched the Director's cut of this movie. I've watched it about six times over the past 20 years. And once again I have no idea why I like it so much. It is so disjointed and filled with so many unresolved sub-plots, undeveloped characters and ludicrous situations that it should be classified as abstract, even non-objective art. If it weren't for Morricone's wonderful music, I would not have watched it a second time, much less a sixth.
I'm not an unwashed Philistine, with no culture or taste, but I'm damned if I know why this film is regarded so highly. And why I will most likely watch it again in the future.
It has some indefinable charisma. The music,the photography and the scattered storyline somehow come together and create an entrancing, compelling movie that really, in the long run, goes nowhere. I gave it a 9. I held back the last number because the movie still leaves me frustrated at the end.
It's been 47 years since I saw this episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, but I've never forgotten it. I couldn't remember who the stars were and the title of the episode. I finally typed in "Childhood of a gangster" under "Plots" and damned! There is was all along. The story is a good reminder of how many of us have had our bubbles burst when we discover that our fathers are not the larger-than-life heroes we always thought them to be, but human and fallible, after all. Sometimes the shock can be devastating, as seen here through the eyes of young Iggy. I, too, will always remember the haunting way little Iggy ran away from his friend at the end, telling him that Mr. Rose would protect him from his father. And the fading lines as he disappeared down the dark street: "...you'll see!!...you'll see!!....you'll see!!"
The Woman in Black (1989)
Where to find a copy of the movie that will play on U.S. VHS and DVD players?
I recently heard about this movie from a friend who said it had the most frightening scene he had ever watched. The reviews I've read mostly say the same thing, so I am intrigued about the film. Blockbuster and the other video outlets in my area do not carry the movie. I went to e-bay, but all the DVD formats are Region 2 (Western Europe) and the VHS versions are PAL. Can anyone help? To me, the most terrifying image is that of a human face distorted by psychotic, homicidal glee, like Anthony Perkins in the final scene of "Psycho", dressed in a wig and brandishing that butcher knife. His leering, maniacal grin was the scariest thing in the movie. So, I'm guessing that this terrifying scene is akin to that. But don't tell me. If anyone has a suggestion about where to find the movie, please e-mail me.Thanks. Sfoxly
The Power (1968)
Lost information on the 1956 TV version of this story.
This story was first televised live during the summer of 1956 on one of the high quality drama series that flourished during the 1950's. Perhaps it was The United States Steel Hour. I was an eleven year old kid at the time and was fascinated with the basic plot. I have searched for information about the original teleplay, but have been unsuccessful. Does anyone out there have any info on the TV broadcast of this story?
Several years later, I read Frank M. Robinson's novel, from which the two movies were made and enjoyed the 1968 film version. It had a terrific musical score, featuring a zither-like instrument played with felt hammers. George Hamilton did a fine job in the lead role.
The greatest war novel of all time
The 1979 TV movie is true to the novel, whereas the 1930 movie is not, although they are both very powerful films.
I read All Quiet On The Western Front while serving in the U.S. Marines in Vietnam, 1966-1967. It is without question the greatest war novel ever written. It is the universal story of the "grunt", all those who have ever fought on the front lines and experienced battle and death. Remarque served in the German army and lived through the hells he describes. Do not mistake his plain style of writing for a lack of literary ability - his simple telling of the events is one of the things that make this book so great. For example, after the company has been called back to the rear for reinforcements, the captain calls the roll several times. Half of the names are not there - they are dead, wounded or missing. Paul (the story teller) says "A line, a short line, trudges off...". Remarkable, this terse imagery of the depth of violence that happened at the front. Another line comes from one of soldiers while discussing how to stop the war (referring to the generals and politicians): "Give 'em all the same grub and all the same pay, and the war would be over and done in a day." Still true today. When describing what happens to common men fighting for their lives in battle, Paul says: "...this wave..that..turns us into thugs, into murderers, into God only knows what devils...". As Colonel Kurtz would say: "The Horror, the horror". This novel will forever speak across the years for all soldiers in combat everywhere.
The Omen (2006)
New remake is better all around.
I'm doing all I can to celebrate 06/06/06 and honor The Number of The Beast. With that in mind, I went to see the remake of "The Omen" today. It's the same script but I think this new version is better all around. They've added some special effects that are frightening, such as the mother having horrifying visions. The set design and location shooting are very good, especially the scene of an eerie monastery that is accessible only by rowboat. The music and photography are excellent. Damien is more obviously evil in this new movie, with no hint of innocence and Mia Farrow as the evil nanny is inspired casting. There has been some criticism of the acting by the principal characters, but I thought everyone did as well, if not better, in their roles than the original cast.
The decapitation scene toward the end is the best I've ever seen in the movies. There was a middle-aged couple sitting near me in the theater and when the guy gets his head cut off, the woman squealed loudly with a mixture of shock and pure delight. I wanted to applaud and vomit at the same time. Absolutely the finest "head getting completely whacked off" I've ever seen in the cinema. I give the movie an "8".
The Naked Prey (1965)
The Naked Prey as pure cinema
The Naked Prey is one of my favorite adventure movies. It is pure visual cinema. By that I mean the film can be shown anywhere in the world to any age audience without translations or sub-titles. Everyone viewing the action will understand everything that is happening on the screen whether they understand the languages or not. Like the movie Zulu, the antagonists are African tribesmen, but in both films, I never had the sense the natives were evil villains. Rather, the story is about the clash between two alien cultures, a life-or-death struggle that keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. Like Psycho, The Naked Prey should be taught in every film class around the world. It is perfect and pure just the way it is.
One Hour Photo (2002)
Cy without pity
The first time I saw this movie, I felt sympathy for Cy. A lonely and lost man, he seemed pitiful. Why couldn't he have any meaningful relationships? So sad. But I recently watched the movie again and as each new scene unfolded, I realized what a despicable character he really is. Each time he humbly ingratiated himself to the Yorkin family members, his sickening behavior became more nauseating - the hidden manipulations, the deceit and the prying. I saw him as a clinging, destructive parasite and I wanted to hit him. And that's the creative talent of this film: it made me believe the story. Robin Williams is terrific in this role. He gives real depth to Cy, with many layers. Perhaps if I watch it one more time, I'll once again find some sympathy and understanding for "Cy, the Photo Guy". A very well-made film.
This movie seemed to be the career turning point for Sally Field. For me at least, Sybil was the role that ensured her stardom and respect as a talented actress. She forever shattered the powder-puff images of "Gidget" and "The Flying Nun" with her stunning performance. This movie is not only a great story about love and hope, it is a psychological thriller. And like any great thriller, I could feel the tension building throughout the film as the psychiatrist led Sybil ever inward to face her terrifying past with its final horror of the green kitchen and the monster mother who tortured her there. Joanne Woodward and Sally Field took the audience with them on that scary journey. I saw Sybil again today and it was just as moving as it was when I first saw it almost twenty-eight years ago. An outstanding movie in every way. Billy H.
De-Lovely It Ain't
One of the problems I found with this movie is that it never could decide whether it wanted to be a full-blown musical or a biography. The scriptwriter and director apparently thought it could be both, but it failed on both counts with me. I enjoyed most of the music when the guest singers performed, but let's face it, Kevin Kline cannot sing and his flat warbling accompanied by only a piano grew more irritating as the film went on and on.
My main objection to this movie is that I never saw any real passion or emotional range from Kline in this film. Academy Award performance? No way. The politically correct among us will fawn over this movie because of the homosexual issue, but even those scenes that hinted at Porter's male lovers were flat and uninspired. A man who could write such beautiful, classical love ballads had to have been more emotional in real life than the two-dimensional character glossed over in this movie.