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The Blue and the Gray (1982)
Focus on family, not the war.
`The Blue and The Gray' is not a story about the Civil War. It is a long drama about a family set at the time of that war. Running more than six hours, it is indeed long. Yet, anyone interested in human relationships will find that the time is well spent and that no dead points exist. The snippets of the Civil War form a focus for the story and explain some of the relationship issues. They also remind the viewer what a truly difficult time it was for families and for our nation.
All the emotion, but totally believable.
All of the well-made stories of persecution of Jews and others by the Hitler regime before and during World War II bring forth emotional responses. This film is unique in that it combines that reality with totally believable characters. The film is well written, well directed, and well acted. The viewer must ask: 'Could you imagine going through something like that?'
Jacqueline Bisset plays the part of a young German with liberal views very well. Jürgen Prochnow comes across quite well as young man of Jewish heritage who wants very much to be totally German. It is also interesting how the Swedish church plays a key role in protecting the Jews who have escaped deportation. Many questions are stimulated by the film about various parts of German society, but those are questions raised by all coverage of those terrible events.
The Maldonado Miracle (2003)
Unusual and worth viewing.
Sometimes, films exist outside the formulas. Sometimes, they can make the viewer uncomfortable. The Maldonado Miracle fits both categories. It deals with United States/Mexico border issues with frankness, and that makes many very uncomfortable. Then, it moves into religion and raises questions like: What is a miracle? How different people react is extremely interesting. The viewer must consider some basic issues in his or her own faith, something else that most are not comfortable with. Yet, these issues are what makes this film well worth viewing.
Broken Arrow (1950)
Filmed in the wrong place.
`Broken Arrow' is a good film for the reasons other positive comments indicate. The historic accuracy claimed at the opening was not the whole story, for the peace was temporary, and Geronimo emerged later than portrayed. My main
problem with the film is that Delmer Daves, like so many other western
filmmakers insisted on shooting dramatic fairytale backgrounds, not the real
places. My home, north of Tucson, is about 50 miles west of Mt. Graham, the
historic site of much of the action. Daves shot it in the Sedona area, some 200 miles to the north, so that he would have beautiful big red rocks in the
background. They are beautiful, but it tends to destroy the sense of place.
Gods and Generals (2003)
My Attempt to Explain Some of the Negative Response
This is a fine film and one that is historically accurate. At the same time, the viewer must appreciate that it is from the Southern perspective. The South saw itself as defending its homeland. Of course, the Northern view was defense of the Union. Slavery was an issue behind both perspectives. For example, the film leaves the impression that Lincoln started the war by calling for volunteers to form an Army. The attack on Fort Sumter really started the military conflict, and Lincoln's call was in response to that. At least, that was the Union view.
A second factor explaining the negative reaction, I believe, is the emphasis on the religious faith of the generals. People today fail to appreciate that such faith, constant reference to God, and frequent prayer were accepted behavior at that time.
Florence Nightingale (1985)
The lady with the lamp comes to life.
A plot SPOILER follows. Of course, it is based on historic fact.
As Florence Nightingale is portrayed in this film, she achieved through confrontation with her family, her friends, the medical profession, and the British military authorities. Whether such conflicts were at the root of her success I cannot say. It is clear, however, that she is responsible for several very important revolutions in health care. First, she introduced cleanliness as of primary importance. Then, she raised the duties and the perception of nurses to the level of a profession. Lastly, she established formal education for nurses.
The British television production clearly shows conditions as they were when Florence arrived at adulthood. She was of the gentry, but her heart was with the sick and injured of whatever class. Rejecting a worthy suitor, she set off to Kaiserswerth in Germany to get nursing training, such as it was at the time.
Upon her return, she shocked her family by entering and then working in a hospital, the type of institution where ladies just didn't set foot. Hospitals were filthy, like prisons, where the attendants treated patients with utter distain and where the environment was vile indeed.
Miss Nightingale came into her own during 1854, in the Crimean War. This film does an excellent job of portraying that. She took a group of nurses to a military hospital and revolutionized it over the constant objections of the military commanders and the doctors. She did gain some support as word of her changes began to be reported back home in Britain.
Anyone with a background or interest in health care, especially in nursing or hospital administration will enjoy this film for its subject matter. The filmmaking is a bit uneven and episodic, which you might expect from a television series.
Jaclyn Smith portrays Florence with sensitivity, thereby creating a believable and engaging character.
My Darling Clementine (1946)
The Geography is Not Accurate Either
Other comments cover the filmmaking and acting well. Yes, this is a good film. Others have said that it is not historically accurate, and that is correct. One more thing bothers me. John Ford selected the spectacular setting of Monument
Valley as the location. Tombstone is about 340 miles south as the crow flies. Then, he stuck fake saguaro all around the set. Those plants are not native to either Monument Valley or to the Tombstone area. I guess if historical fact can go, so can geography.
A Documentary on Making Documentaries
For American tastes, this documentary is much too long for the subject matter. Yet, it is worth watching for several reasons. Considerable insight into the early appeal of Hitler to the German people shows through Frau Riefenstahl's comments. More than that, though, is the detailed presentation of a master documentary filmmaker and her secrets. As evidenced through her later work in Africa and under the sea, she is an amazing woman. Her comments and her work are presented in such a way that both can be appreciated.
This Is the Army (1943)
Superb Peek into History with Great Music.
Sure, there is little story here, and the technical quality of the VHS
tape is rather bad. That has nothing to do with why this is a great
The point is the music and the peek into history it permits. In
addition to the overview of patriotic feelings at a time of war, there
are three specific reasons why the film is unique and of great
value: (1) A young Ronald Reagan playing a key role; (2) Kate
Smith introducing Irving Berlin's new number, "God Bless
America;" and a solo by Irving Berlin himself of "Oh, How I Hate To
Get Up In The Morning."
Shows the miracle of crew skill and community organization.
Although I scored this film as a "6" because it suffered some from lack of character development and pedestrian acting, it is a powerful viewing experience. A skilled United Airlines crew and unprecedented community organization saved many. In fact, the emergency workers in the Sioux City area achieved, on a smaller scale, what those in New York did in 2001. Charlton Heston was ideal in the role of Captain Al Haynes.
I worked in the city government at Sioux City and then at St. Luke's Regional Medical Center years before these events. I participated in some of the very early planning that paid off in 1998. What I saw in the film rings true.