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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Last part too long, 5 October 2014

It is OK that they made a sequel concerning Patton's life at the end of the war. Proud of his Anglo-Saxon heritage, he has some identification with the Germans for this reason and because he was strongly anti-communist. Whether he made some of the specific remarks he made here is open to question (it can more easily be proved that he said something than he did not say something, of course). In any event, it is historically true that he made an impolitic remark that, like his soldier-slapping, got him into trouble and transferred away from his military governor position.

But after he is seriously injured (spinal column and paralysis) in the auto accident, the movie drags on way too long, over an hour when he is in a hospital bed. There are reminisces from him and many parties, flashbacks, and many well wishers and helpers. The problem is that nothing really happens of significance, it is just a failed attempt at tear-jerking. Patton himself was fiery, so not a person who lends to easy identification with all the softness. For those worried about being bored, I would stay away or leave halfway through. Clearly, a maximum of 20 minutes was needed to cover this period and the director's insistence on doing much more wrecked the movie, in my book. Adding to the pre-injury time would have been a better decision.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Did Spielberg Succeed?, 20 April 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In recreating Tintin novels for a movie, Spielberg faced a difficult challenge. Did he succeed?

I think Spielberg made a good try, particularly in the early scenes. The depiction of the story locations the Old Street Market, 26 Labrador Road, Marlinspike Hall, and aboard the "Karaboudjan" ship made me feel I was in a Tintin book in a fair attempt. Snowy's chase of the cat was right on point with one and more actual occurrences in Herge's books.

But recreating Tintin in another medium for more than 100 minutes is a big task. As one other commentator on this board put it, the panels in the Tintin books are uniquely stylized, and this raises two questions. First, can they be recreated on screen, and second, if not, can Spielberg do anything that in its own way equals Herge's stylization -- artwork, dialogue, atmosphere, action, progression -- in terms of magnitude of achievement?

My answer in both cases is no. Except for the first three not-fully-developed (and sometimes silly) Tintin books and the last, with its mediocre story, to me, there is nothing like Herge's accomplishments with Tintin. It is hard to think of anything that will grip a reader more. Tintin books are so fully absorbing, unique, and compelling in storyline, atmosphere, and drawing detail that I do not think they can ever be matched on film, by Spielberg or anyone else. Even if Spielberg literally copied the dialogue, art, and panels, something would be lost with the film continuum as opposed to separate panels in the books. But no one is going to do that anyway, which leaves me to declare only that no one who makes a Tintin film with his own touches is ever going to match Herge. This is different from, say, taking something that was based only on written prose such as The Godfather, the story of Gordon of Khartoum, and the Seven Pillars of Wisdom and putting it on the big screen (incidentally, "Lawrence of Arabia" will always be No. #1 with me on visuals). Yes, you can outdo prose and some drawing in terms of dramatic impact and entertainment (although some will subjectively say, a written format was still better for them).

Having said that, I have a positive comment on the visuals. I went into this movie expecting overfast, confusing, and bloated action scenes because that is the trend of today. It is true of standard movies with regular people, so with a 3-D, motion-capture, computer-animated adventure movie, I certainly expected even more, as the norm. I am happy to say, I did not find anything overdone until the falcon chase scene and the final conflict, starting around 1:20. Otherwise, I found enough breathing room and thought the action scenes were fitting when measured against the action-packed Tintin books themselves. Starting at the very beginning with "Tintin in the Land of the Soviets," we know that the series will have a lot of wild rides, escapes, and chases on land, sea, air, and under water, even in outer space, as well as frequent fighting and combat, plus slapstick.

The portrayal of the characters themselves I consider separately. Herge's Tintin was incorruptible and had character, poise, and heroic qualities. However, it is not an original comment to say he did not have much personality, as compared with, say, his basically equal co-hero Captain Haddock, Professor Calculus, Bianca Castafiore, and others. But should we demand Spielberg deviate from this and give him more personality?

I suggest yes, some embellishment could have been done. There could have been some introspective discussion between Tintin and Haddock, for example, or Tintin could say more and emote more, or some inner thoughts of his could be revealed. He could even express his likes and dislikes for food or products or have hobbies. Perhaps it was decided that with this first film, which also captures the first meeting between Tintin and Haddock, not much would be done, but embellishment of Tintin's personality is a possibility for future films. In any event, I and others would welcome such an effort.

As for the complaint that linking Captain Haddock to the bottle was overemphasized vs. the Captain as a person, I felt this a little on the first watch, but on the subsequent watch, I said not really. For one key thing, he even lectures Tintin on not giving up, reversing roles that were displayed in several different Tintin books (including two cases in which Tintin used the bottle to change the Captain's mind). I also note that the two books this was based on, "The Secret of the Unicorn" and "The Crab with the Golden Claws," were the ones in which the Captain's whiskey and rum-guzzling were most prominent. So I cannot find much fault here, and even in other books, his drinking is always a theme.

I also had no problem with the inclusion of Bianca Castafiore, though she is not in either of the two books on which the film was (mainly) based. Her persona and physical appearance added something, and Spielberg's engineering of a voice for the glass-shattering Milanese Nightingale complemented Herge's genius. Captain Allan, Haddock's ancient rival, could have been given more personality. The absent Professor Calculus? Ready for the sequel. As for Thompson and Thomson, I thought Spielberg, using wit, actually managed to make them even more dense and bumbling in their quest for the pickpocket than in Herge's "Secret of the Unicorn."

All in all, a good effort by Spielberg, but I hope to see improvements in characterization in other Tintin films by him or whomever.

War Horse (2011)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Refreshing Sentimentality, 7 April 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"War Horse" is a wonderful movie. Not too many movies are able to entertain and, at the same time, depict at length the cruel and exploitative mistreatment of animals in war, and it stands out for this. But it is the storyline that is the strongest point. Take it from someone who does not accept sentimentality from typical modern "character" movies like "Godfather II" or "Pulp Fiction." I'm into nice people, not sleazy ones. For me, the sentimentality of "War Horse" works, all the way. The viewer is removed from overcomplicated, convoluted movies of the Hollywood of today to a simpler world. In spite of the horrors of the Great War, "War Horse" is a movie of optimism and hope.

Albert Narracott is a boy who lives in Devon, England, before World War I. His father Ted overpays for a thoroughbred horse to be used as a plough animal, and young Albert becomes close to the horse, "Joey." When the crop from a ploughing job is destroyed by the weather, Ted is forced to sell "Joey" off to the armed forces, but Albert, who himself later goes into the military, hopes to get Joey back some day.

Joey's circle of experiences during WWI are great and terrible. The throwback world of a century ago that is presented still receives, for its war scenes, the modern fast, furious, and overdone treatment characterizing modern action movies. Then there is an exaggerated sequence in which Joey is entangled with barbed wire over a long haul, and dubiously survives. But that is compensated by the beauty of the countryside of northeastern France and the warmth of the characters in the movie. Admittedly, sometimes I got confused with accents as emitted here. Joey's sojourn with a young French girl and her grandfather is touching, but does his not sound like a German rather than French accent? Similarly, Albert's mother seems to have an Irish accent, and their home and some of the surroundings seem to evoke Ireland more than England. But you know it is England with the local folks' support for their country when the war breaks out.

What was particularly pleasurable to watch during "War Horse" was the depiction of the high level of civility and respect for human feelings, setting aside the general plight of animals in war. For example, there is the sensitivity of War Horse's new owner — Captain Nicholls — toward Albert. He promises to care for the horse and return him after the war to Albert, who so loved the horse. Later, the officer feels compelled to write Albert about how wonderful Joey is looking. Much more transpires before we reach the ending, which is really moving, highly evocative. The wonderfully sympathetic scenes between horse and humans are in stark contrast to the crassness and lack of sensitivity in today's society.

"War Horse" is enjoyable, moving, and visually beautiful in its depiction of the strong bonds that can develop between humans and horses, even during times of turmoil and war. I am an animal lover; my wife is not a horse lover, but this film turned her into one.

20 out of 23 people found the following review useful:
Footage New, Commentary Not, and Waiting for Ray to...Come Along, 28 May 2010

As an avid Doors fan for more than 40 years, and with the vast growth of the DVD/Video market and the enormous reservoir for footage that the Internet and YouTube have, I have seen almost all there is to see of The Doors. That includes Jim Morrison's own films "A Feast of Friends" and "HWY," footage from which is contained in "When You're Strange." And most everyone has seen some things on "When You're Strange," such as the scene of The Doors descending from the stairs of an airplane on their European tour, and the bright-eyed look when Jim turns and identifies himself as "Jim."

But setting that aside, this documentary film contains considerable behind-the-scenes and archival footage that I have never seen. The tone is set early with scenes of Jim driving a car through a desert. His own home movie, Doors-like atmosphere, and dialogue. And yes, there are a lot of scenes with the group together, on the road, and interacting, as well as context shots, of locations and other things. The Miami Incident? I must confess, while some people writing about this movie say it gives you a definite answer of what happened, that is not true of this viewer; actually, I don't think anyone will ever know for sure. Still, it has a good presentation.

But the narrative, the commentary? Sorry, it leaves something to be desired. It was very superficial. To have something new and insightful for a hard core fan like myself would be challenging, but still viable. However, I believe it is accurate to say that even for casual fans who know just the basics, there are no revelations. There is certainly nothing on the songwriting process, which some of the more recently released DVDs have some discussion on. Narrator Johnny Depp's words are just the same old story.

It is time for Ray Manzarek to take it upon himself to conceptualize a film containing the very elements whose absence from the Oliver Stone film he used as a basis for criticizing it: namely, Jim's fascination with various French and other literary and theatrical figures. We know many of those names: Rimbaud, Nietzsche, Blake, Artaud, Baudelaire, beat writer Jack Kerouac, and of course Celine: "Take a Highway to the End of the Night." Fans of Jim know, from the many books about him and The Doors, that he memorized many passages of his favorite authors and would challenge visitors to his dorm room to read him the passages so he could cite the page numbers, which could make for a great scene. He was really absorbed. The film could convey how those influences shaped Jim and contributed to his writing of the great songs from The Doors powerful first two albums, The Doors and Strange Days; a few songs on later albums; and his poetry. This could be combined with other elements, including Jim's acid trips in the days when he was sleeping on the Venice rooftops and seeing "television skies." I am surprised that Director Tom DiCillo did not try to find a way to include some of this in his film, whose audience would be looking for something new.

12 out of 19 people found the following review useful:
Dream Team Fails to Acquit Pink Panther 2, But Entertaining Enough to See, 10 February 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Pink Panther 2" is not a great movie, but it is not as bad as some say. A new villain, The Tornado, snatches away the Pink Panther diamond. But The Tornado has also swiped other big-name treasures: The Magna Carta, The Shroud of Turin, and the Emperor's Sword. It is an international "Dream Team" of detectives, not just Inspector Jacques Clouseau, who investigate. Joining Steve Martin (Clouseau) are some accomplished actors: Andy Garcia plays (very well) Italian businessman Vicenzo, Alfred Molina is British inspector Pepperidge, and Yuki Matsuzaki is Japanese electronics expert Kenji. The odd lady out, and a very key person, is the exotic and very pretty Sonia (Aishwarya Rai). She is an expert on criminology and, specifically, The Tornado.

***The following may contain spoilers***

Martin is no Peter Sellers. The Englishman ever had poise and charm as Clouseau: Something about him fit so well into a French policeman's uniform or a trench coat. Sellers carried himself well when not tripping over something, and when he did, he seemed oblivious. His manner of speaking was deliberate yet natural: sophisticated, arrogant, comedic aplomb, if you will, and one reason he was funny was that he was almost always serious. Martin's Clouseau is also egotistical and certainly has presence, but not the same poise. He is too goofy. He is taller and gawkier, older, and more nervous. He also gets depressed when he screws up. Martin is fairly funny when he engages in French-to-English mispronunciation dialogue, but I take Sellers' smooth manner over Martin's verbose. In fairness, part of the problem is the script. Attempting to make the movie funny, the screenwriters concocted a substantial amount of cheap lines, especially politically incorrect dialogue and behavior, for Martin, having him contradict his political correctness mentor Mrs. Berenger (Lily Tomlin) by ogling women and making a bad joke about his "yellow" friend Kenji and sushi. He embarrasses a comrade in front of others by saying "I'm sorry you cannot satisfy your wife," and of his secretary, he says to a group of detectives: "Nicole is here to service your needs...use her in any way you wish." The low sexual humor, of which there is plenty, is not always terrible; but if you go there, limit it and assign it to characters other than Clouseau. Blake Edwards' Clouseau had wit, not cheap humor, including in romantic situations.

As for the slapstick and other humor, it is often predictable and silly. In a less-than-stellar scene at the film's beginning, Clouseau bumbles a parking ticket issuance in a hint of more forced humor to come. Still, there is enough here for viewers to laugh at and enjoy, exerting the right to relax. The same restaurant is accidentally burned down twice by guess who [?], and Clouseau has a meeting with the Pope that ends up with Clouseau encountering some fearsome heights. There is a lot of crashing, bashing, and banging; at some point, this is overdone. Vicenzo and Chief Inspector Dreyfus (John Cleese) have a few good moments of humor. An encounter between The Dream Team and a falsely accused Tornado (played by Jeremy Irons) is fairly funny. This is one of a few moderately good twists concerning The Tornado and those in the villain's orbit.

My favorite aspect of the movie is the romantic tension between Clouseau and his sweetheart of a secretary, Nicole (Emily Mortimer). She is the most compelling person of the film. Finding it difficult to express their love for each other, Clouseau and Nicole still feel it, and this makes for a good climax (seriously, no pun intended). Nicole is very beautiful and so is Sonia, who has a sexier look and, for a while, eyes for Clouseau.

But the reality is that the overall script does not match the four great "Pink Panther" works. In the original series of movies, things started going downhill in "Revenge of the Pink Panther" (and continued much further in the follow-ups without Sellers). Sellers could not salvage "Revenge," in which there was too much klutzy humor including overuse of Cato. But Cato fighting is better than fighting with a colleague's young karate kids, as Martin does here. Overall, the silly overrides the witty or sophisticated in "Pink Panther 2."

Taken (2008/I)
1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Dynamic Action Movie, with a Vengeance, 1 February 2009

"Taken" is a great movie and distinctive among modern action movies, combining more realistic heart-thumping action scenes with a straightforward story line. I find it tiresome when a film has nonstop, gratuitous action that is unrealistic, pompous, and too drawn out. I thought "Quantum of Solace" fell into this category, although it was not as bad as something like "Charlie's Angels" in terms of exaggerated effects. By contrast, I thought the action scenes in "Taken" worked really well, in a suspense movie that steadily lets the mystery unfold.

The continual suspense is presented in an easy-to-follow manner that naturally leads to the next stage. Liam Neeson plays Bryan Mills, a semiretired CIA agent whose daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) wants to go to Paris for a while, ostensibly to visit museums, but later it is revealed that she and her friend want to trail U2 on the rock group's full European tour. Mills was reluctant to let her go in the first place, in conflict with his ex-wife Lenore (that's Bond woman Famke Janssen). The characters have some personality, but Mills is a regular guy, and there is no over-dwelling on their psychology. (I could meet "Dark Knight" halfway on the psychology, but I thought it went too far.) Mills remains skeptical about the trip, and then finds that Kim has been kidnapped into an Albanian sex-slave ring. That's the way I like it: good guys versus bad guys. I had a similar sort of visceral satisfaction as in "Delta Force," in which Chuck Norris really gives it to the terrorists.

The movie's intensive action is mostly in close quarters: a room, an elevator, a car, or just a regular face-to-face confrontation. Skillful filming and sharp editing give scenes an aura of believability. Besides, Mills is an agent skilled in hand-to-hand combat, helping us believe. He does mostly one-on-one nailings, but he dishes it out to a few groups of bad guys too. The fighting and shooting scenes are not padded or overblown, and the viewer is left with the sense that the filmmakers were relying more on coordination and execution of quick movements than on special effects. As for wide-open action scenes, Mills, in a fast-paced, realistic sequence, chases down a villain, who falls onto a lower highway. Wide-open action scenes in "Quantum" and some other movies contain too many unbelievable stunts (in "Quantum," e.g., exaggerated jumps from buildings or to other buildings).

Shalako (1968)
4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Indians Engage in Snobfighting, 27 December 2008

A group of arrogant European hunters takes to the North American West to pursue game. Apaches? Am I about to say, little do they know that they will have to encounter hostile Apaches? Nope. Actually, it is, once they find out there are hostile Apaches, the more they want to stay. That is the tone set by the group's arrogant leader, Baron Frederick Von Hallstatt (Peter van Eyck). He and his haughty group, a German and a bunch with supercilious British accents, do not want to yield to "savages," but desire to teach them a lesson, even though the Apaches have treaty rights on their side.

Sean Connery plays Carlin, a hunter and tracker, but he is known as Shalako, a name given to him by the Indians. The tracker who leads the group, however, is Bosky Fulton (Steven Boyd). Rivaling Connery's celebrity in the film are those beautiful European actresses Brigitte Bardot (Countess Irina Lazaar) and Honor Blackman (Lady Julia Daggett). The Countess is supposedly being matched with the Baron, but she and Shalako later have eyes for each other. As for Lady Julia, she is married to Sir Charles Daggett, who loves her, but Lady Julia and Fulton have something cooking. The other leading couple is Senator Henry Clarke (Alexander Knox) and his wife Elena (played by the also-beautiful Valerie French). There are a few others in the Europeans' coterie, and Fulton leads a slightly larger group of American frontier types who escort them. Toward the start of the movie, when the Countess is hunting on her own, the Apaches kill the Countess' companion but let her and Shalako, who was passing by, go. This is after Shalako promises to tell the group to get off Apache territory. The group does not cooperate, and the Apaches attack the Europeans' encampment, and I will stop my narrative.

By and large, the characters, including Shalako, are uninteresting. As the protagonist, he continues to make the right moves, in contrast to the loser Baron, but is given no character development and is not a compelling presence. Yes, Sean Connery is miscast and boring here. His character is not even worthy of the mediocre eponymous score. The Europeans have their boring and condescending say; sometimes, one gets the sense that director Edward Dmytryk deliberately has them muttering or whispering inaudibly to emphasize their emptiness, nothing to listen to anyway.

Still, I like the movie, and the reason is its atmosphere. I am not aware of other movies in which Indians are fighting not white American settlers but aristocratic Europeans. Not only is the tension grounded more tightly because the supercilious Europeans add the level of snobbery to the typical superior attitude of whites, but we also know they are unfamiliar with Indians. Like the men, Lady Julia thinks the Indians are savages. She has the stereotypical terror of them one might think a member of 19th-century European nobility might feel. Such a group is not made up of people of the land in the sense of American whites, but people with a silver spoon in their mouth. Perhaps the tension in "Shalako" is comparable to the tension in some flicks in which well-to-do Europeans go to African jungles. Here, the backdrop is instead the wide open expanses of Western plains and mountains, shot well by the cinematographers, who do very well with the distance shots as well as the closer-up action scenes.

Also, the story involves some intrigue, if uncomplicated, including the treachery of Fulton and Lady Julia. Honor Blackman is not a femme fatale Pussy Galore, but she is a traitoress of sorts. Some fairly graphic combat scenes are included, as was beginning to be the trend in the late 1960s in American and European films; Lady Julia screams in a gruesome scene involving a spearing, and in another, suffice it to say she is "handled" by the Indians. That is quite an intense one, worth seeing. However, as a final note, don't expect much from the ending, which as one might expect involves a face-off with the Indians. It befits the mediocrity of the overall script and characters, except it is perhaps worse.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Just Silly, 27 December 2008

When I was living overseas, a kid in elementary school in the 1960s, I had heard that Batman was now playing on U.S. TV. I couldn't wait to see the show on home leave during the summer. However, when I did, I was disappointed. I wanted Batman to be a dark imposing figure and Robin not to be a golly-gee cartoon character. As for the villains, it was OK for them to be colorful. However, I wanted them not to be goofs, but authentically threatening. Like a James Bond villain. I wanted the show to be real, like the spy shows of the 1960s. Still, when the TV show was on, I watched it and grew to accept it as it was. Familiarity breeds content. The comic series was extremely popular, more popular than anything else, for a reason, and the show still presented the heroes and criminals. And like other types of humor, campy humor can have its moments. Plus, the females were always very sexy, and there were lots of celebrities: It was all part of popular culture.

"Batman" the movie is like the TV show, a campy satire. All the good-guy actors are the same: Batman & Robin, Commissioner Gordon & Chief O'Hara, Alfred & Aunt Harriet. The three male arch criminals are played by the same actors; only Catwoman (Lee Meriwether) is different, but she is just as voluptuous as Julie Newmar. This being a full-length movie, it was a good idea to include all the leading criminals. They do their pompous cackling and laughing, as on the show. Their hired thugs are the familiar impersonal, subservient losers.

The plot is grandiose: The four villains kidnap the nine members of the U.N. Security Council by dehydrating them into dust with a newfangled machine (rehydration is possible). The villains operate on board a surplus navy submarine. Their intent is to conquer the world. Bruce Wayne is kidnapped, set up through a romantic encounter by a Russian journalist, "Miss Kitka," who is really Catwoman. (Listen to those corny lines between her and Bruce.) The final fight scene takes place on top of the submarine, over the water.

The latter-day Batman films are real by the standards desired by the younger persona of yours truly. As with anyone else, I have my positive and negative comments about them, set forth elsewhere. Can there exist an idealized Batman movie for me? Regardless of the answer, if another Batman movie is coming, I will see it, as an adult. "Batman" of 1966 I would not see as an adult; perhaps some others would. Maybe some creativity went in, but this stuff cannot be taken seriously or have any meaning. As an adult, I can only say it is silly, which is what I thought as a kid too.

4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
The Best Is First, 27 December 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Various elements of this movie make it worth seeing, but this does not include the Last Stand itself, which is poorly done, a big disappointment. It fails in every category. After Lieutenant Colonel Custer (Robert Shaw) returns from giving testimony in Washington, he abruptly tells Captain Benteen (Jeffrey Hunter) and Major Reno (Ty Hardin) of the three-way march against the Sioux and Cheyenne that will take place, and the Seventh Cavalry takes off. There is no captivating dialogue. The scenes are rigid, unorganized, uninteresting, with no substantive interpretation of the cavalry's movements. The death of Custer is done in a pathetic, historically inaccurate attempt at dramatics that completely backfires. The viewer is left with no sense of drama or legacy of the battle. Still, the rest of the film is interesting. It represents a good effort at capturing the real-life chemistry of Custer and the flavor of the period's conflict between whites and Indians in the Midwest/Dakotas.

**The comments below may contain spoilers**

Custer is not portrayed like the hero in "They Died with Their Boots On." Instead, the portrait of Custer in this film seems close to the truth. "Custer of the West" was made only two years before "Little Big Man," during the Vietnam War. But it is not a satirized Custer that is presented; rather, it is a straight-shooting one. Robert Shaw plays Custer the glory hound, the one who desires action, the military man who will execute his duties without regard to whether they offend one's sense of ethics in mistreatment of Indians. He is a cold, rigid, hard-ass person. He takes over his camp with a preoccupation for discipline in the face of lazy soldiers who want to feign diseases when Indian-fighting duty calls. Major Reno is put down for his well-known alcoholism, and Custer makes clear to Captain Benteen he does not care about Benteen's sense of honor toward the Indians. It is an historical fact that Benteen hated Custer and refused to aid him when Custer requested help at The Battle of the Little Bighorn ("Custer's Last Stand"). This film seems to want to explain why.

Would you really find the person described in the previous paragraph interesting? Libby Custer (Mary Ure) is worked into the movie more than incidentally, but nowhere are the inner workings of the man explored, with her or anywhere else. Shaw's Custer is an impersonal Custer, without much in emotions. Still, as he is cast, Shaw puts on a good performance, and I disagree with some of the commentators on this board who say he displays an English accent. He sounds American.

The early parts of the film have a number of scenes involving good action, with some imagination, and wide-open-space cinematography. Whites are encroaching on Indian land; they are interested in mining and railroads. Indians attack railroads and stagecoaches and, at one point, a large white settlement celebrating Independence Day. Custer has a couple of minor skirmishes with the Indians. In one, he pursues the Indians across a desert and attacks them from below the rock face they have scaled in their retreat. As for major action, Custer's Seventh Cavalry, on orders from General Phil Sheridan, attacks and destroys Cheyenne Chief Black Kettle's village in the Battle of the Washita River, in Kansas. General Sheridan had been Custer's Civil War commander and long-time patron, and he was the one who gave Custer his post in the Dakotas. He calls Benteen a "bleeding heart" for being sympathetic to the Indians. Sheridan claims he has told all his officers "The only good Indian is a dead Indian." The real-life Sheridan claimed he never said that. Regardless, it is an historical fact that he was contemptuous of the Indians, and his attitude represented the mindset of the time. In the battle, The Seventh Cavalry kills not only Black Kettle and numerous warriors, but many women and children. Director Robert Siodmark holds back nothing in presenting what occurred in Custer's only major engagement against the Indians before the Last Stand.

The most important scene of the film occurs after this battle. It, rather than the Last Stand, encapsulates the movie. A Cheyenne Indian visits Custer's HQ to ask him about his intentions, as Custer correctly perceives. Custer makes it clear he is not a moralist. He is not in a position to make the substantive decisions, he is an officer in the army, and will obey orders. If that involves trampling the Indians in violation of some ethical notion, so be it. Custer tells the Indian the problem is that the whites are more advanced than the Indians. He tells him that the Cheyenne were stronger than tribes from whom they took land, so they can expect the same from the whites who want their land. Later, the writers try to acquit Custer a little bit by 1) his remarks that the railroad being built will just lead to trouble from the Indians and complaining about what the Indians have to put up with and 2) his testimony in Washington on Indian Bureau corruption that the "Indian Problem" is the fault of the policymakers. This is historically true; according to Custer's testimony, corruption in the granting of Western post traderships and various other dishonest dealings were cheating Indians as well as the U.S. Cavalry. However, although the film presents miners intruding on Indian territory, it does not treat Custer's personal interest in gold mining.

As I previously observed, I think "Custer of the West" is worth seeing in spite of the Last Stand's being poorly done. It would be most interesting for people who know some of the history surrounding Custer's post–Civil War life and the conflicts with the Plains Indians leading up to the Last Stand.

The Bunker (1981) (TV)
2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Loudness of the Wolf, 21 December 2008

Anthony Hopkins displays a commanding presence as Hitler in this TV-made version of Hitler's final days in his underground Berlin bunker. Albert Speer, played by Richard Jordan, somewhat rivals him in prominence.

The film writers put a major focus on Hitler's scorched earth policy of the final days, to destroy civilian infrastructure and life staples of the German people as enemy armies advanced. This is without regard to their survival, and Hitler wants to kill anyone who resists. No Germans really wanted to obey this order, and only Martin Bormann and, we know, Dr. Goebbels, were willing to support it. Speer had received this order on March 19, 1945, and had no interest in enforcing it. He came to the Bunker on April 22, about 10 days before Hitler's death, and left shortly before it. Speer resists Hitler's orders to his face while swearing loyalty and vaguely agreeing to execute them, sort of, always citing obstacles. Later, he tells Hitler to his face he did not implement the orders. Whether this occurred is doubted by some historians. If it did, one might question Hitler's compassionate response.

As evil as he was, Hitler's hypnotic effect on all German people is a reality, and this remained until the days of his death. The women were blindly loyal, idolaters, but then they did not have to give him all the negative military news and be on the wrong end of his tantrums. As for the men who had to, even though they grimaced in the face of Hitler's rants and rolled their eyes behind his back, their faces and conduct at other times in Hitler's presence always seemed to reflect a sincere, unwavering loyalty and idolization. Ultimately, Hitler saw the German people as cattle just like the Nazi-declared inferior races, for he never showed any reluctance to inflict murder and cruelty on German soldiers and civilians. So, those who surrounded him — they liked the person, just not what he did? Hitler's female cook (played by Pam St. Clement) remarks "His eyes, so clear and strong as always. The man is a God…" Hopkins displays the intensity and mannerisms that director George Schaefer uses to make the audience understand this.

A distinctive feature here vs. other Bunker films is a substantial focus on the physical layout and maintenance of the Bunker and the people in charge of the maintenance: Machinist Johannes Hentschel (Martin Jarvis) is one of the main characters. We even see Speer considering the logistics of a poison attack on the Bunker as an alternative to letting the resistance to Hitler's scorched earth policy come to a head (another thing questioned by historians).

I got annoyed with the non-moderated British accents all over the place, but on the part of the supporting cast only (Hopkins' accent as Hitler, like that of Alec Guiness in "Hitler: The Last Ten Days," is not as bad as Robert Carlyle's in "Hitler: The Rise of Evil"). Setting this aside, the acting performances are all solid. Goebbels and Bormann are effectively portrayed as the disgusting persons they were. The generals and others are shown as combinations of military men and lackeys who occasionally show some sense of right and wrong. I have noticed that Bunker films — after all, this is the movies — tend to portray the German women as quite glamorous, and Eva Braun (Susan Blakely) and Magda Goebbels (Piper Laurie) are eye Candy, along with other ladies. Richard Jordan is a dapper, handsome Speer, not creepy at all. Maybe the real Speer did not want to liquidate all German civilians, but Jordan's portrayal does too much kindness to a creepy guy. No worries, for Hopkins as Hitler is the focal point, and any human feelings he shows are superseded by the obvious incarnate evil he represents.

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