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In Celebration (1975)
Hard to find, but well worth it.
As one of the American Film Theatre movies, "In Celebration" is difficult to find on tape, but this story of an English family gathering for the parents' anniversary deserves a wider audience. Three grown sons argue over their individual problems while Mum bustles about cluelessly and Da waits uneasily for whichever crisis might erupt first. As the angry brother with some unresolved issues, Alan Bates makes the strongest impression, but the other actors are excellent as well.
A Face in the Crowd (1957)
A story even more relevant today
It had been years since I'd seen this film, and then AMC showed it at 4 a.m. one morning--thank goodness for VCRs! I was much too young to enjoy it the first time around. The story of a rural smart-aleck who gains fame through an enthusiastic journalist and his own crafty understanding of "the common people," this film was supposedly based on radio & TV personality Arthur Godfrey, but went much further than that to make a comment on the power of celebrity--a situation even more relevant today than it was in the fifties. Andy Griffith and Patricia Neal were outstanding; unfortunately Griffith never played another role as serious as this one, since his public wouldn't accept him as a "villain."
Just the best.
When I first saw this film, Ben Butley fascinated me (my cousin, who saw it with me, hated him). I've seen the film many times since then--I bought the video before I had a VCR to play it on--and it remains my favorite movie. And Alan Bates remains my favorite actor, although he's not at all like Butley. I wouldn't recommend the film to everybody, because it's a filmed play, totally in one room, all talk. Ah, but what talk, what dynamics between characters, what vicious game-playing and ruthlessness and humor. Simon Gray's never written a better play.