Reviews written by registered user
Chance2000esl

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179 reviews in total 
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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Tex Sings and Shows His Acting Ability!, 31 December 2008
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

For those who don't know, but can probably guess, Tex Ritter was the father of the 'Three's Company' TV situation comedy star and actor John Ritter. Here, in one of Grand National Films' best, Tex displays his singing, fighting and acting talents.

First, he sings "Rollin' Plains" three times, over the beginning and ending credits and an extended version in the middle of the film. The song was a big hit in 1938; I have the complete version by Kenny Baker from the radio show 'The Jello Program Starring Jack Benny' from January 1938. I love it. There are actually three other songs in the film, with Tex singing "My Pal My Pony and Me" which explains in detail the feelings of the cow puncher. The film, as was usual in many 30s and 40s westerns, casts the sheepherders as the villains, encroaching on the free use of the range and water rights by the dominant longhorn cattlemen. Remember, they were called cowboys not sheepboys. This is the background for the story.

The film really follows Tex and his involvement with 'Gospel' Moody and proving his innocence on a murder charge. When confronting the henchmen who waylaid him while he was obtaining Moody's pardon from the governor, Tex has another of his classic fights with Charles King, here known as 'Trigger Gargan'. Looking closely, you can see there were no stunt doubles-- they really mixed it up having practiced this routine in a dozen films.

Finally, Tex gets an extended acting sequence with Cain Moody (played by veteran 'uncredited' actor of over 400 films, Ernie Adams), giving a funeral oration for 'Gospel' and reading from the Bible in a darkly lit setting which is capped off by Adams getting his fifteen minutes of fame by playing off Tex in a frantic and terrified way. You don't see a sequence like this of 95% of the other low grade programmers. Credits to the script writer and the director on this one. The director, Al Herman, directed over 190 films, including more of Tex's westerns as well as all 30 of the 'Mickey McGuire' comedy shorts with Mickey Rooney.

Then we have the obligatory final chase / shoot out ending, in this case a for no reason shooting race between cattle men and sheep herders, with Tex finally trapping the villain on a cliff, where the desperado falls to his doom.

Except for the odd chase at the end, what we have is a better than average 30s western. I'll give it a 5.

Surprise note: The music when Horace Murphy and Snub Pollard walk into a 'ghost building' can be heard again in Bela Lugosi's 'The Corpse Vanishes' (1942). (Snub Pollard, from the 'Keystone Kops' days of silent film slapstick acts awfully gay, but apparently he was happily married.)

5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
A Groundbreaking 50s Film by a Blacklisted Writer!, 31 December 2008
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

First of all, this is a groundbreaking film from the early fifties about racial tolerance and peace disguised as a beautifully scenic Technicolor western starring James Stewart, Jeff Chandler and Debra Paget. Then it turns out to have been written by Albert Maltz one of the original Hollywood Ten who was blacklisted for not naming names at HUAC (the House Unamerican Activities Committee) hearings in the late forties.

It was a dramatization of a true incident in American history when in 1872 Tom Jeffords (played by James Stewart) helped negotiate a peace treaty with Cochise (Jeff Chandler) the Chief of the Chiricahua Apaches. Several elements are historically accurate, including Jefford's lone ride into Cochise's camp, the mail riders, the presence of General "The Christian General" Howard, and most intriguing of all, the portrayal of Apache life.

The tension and distrust of warring nations seeking peace is a problem both the 'Americans' and the Apaches try to resolve. Jefford's realization that Apaches, like other nations, want merely to be left in peace, and wage war only to protect their own is contrasted with scenes of Apache cruelty towards whites. Indians are not just presented idyllically as 'noble savages,' but are subject to the same forces that pull men to war. In spite of these murders and Indians attacks that he sees and hears about, Jeffords trusts the Indians to be men of honor and seeks treaties with them. Jeff Chandler plays Cochise with strength, nobility and a touch of tenderness. No wonder he was nominated for an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor. So striking was he that he played Cochise in two more films.

To further the theme of brotherhood, Tom falls in love with and marries a young Apache girl, Sonseeahray, played by a 16 year old Debra Paget, with perfect skin, undeveloped body, and white teeth that blind you when she smiles. We can see her 'in full flower' in Roger Corman's great 'Tales of Terror' (1962) and 'The Haunted Palace' (1963), as well as in 'The 10 Commandments' (1956). She also had stand out roles in Fritz Lange's two part film released here as 'Journey to the Lost City' (1959) and 'The Indian Tomb' (1959), and, of course, in Elvis Presley's first film, 'Love Me Tender' (1956).

'Broken Arrow' uses the two stories -- the inter racial love affair and the quest for peace -- to develop its theme of tolerance. You won't see a positive treatment like this in another film of the 1950s! Only a handful of films then confronted racial hatred, though often in a negative way, such as the mind boggling first teaming (of three) between Richard Widmark and Sidney Potier in 'No Way Out' (1950). 'Broken Arrow' won a Golden Globe that year for 'Best Film Promoting International Understanding'. Maltz also wrote the Frank Sinatra plea for tolerance short 'The House I Live In' (1945), containing the title song that both Sinatra and Paul Robeson continued to sing the rest of their careers.

Another wonderful aspect of the film is the deeply color saturated Technicolor photography, particularly of scenic Arizona. The cinematography was also nominated for a Golden Globe and an Oscar. Some of the composed landscape shots are priceless.

Other little bonuses: we get Jay Silverheels playing a strong willed Geromino instead of the meek Tonto. He played Geronimo in two later films as well. And there is the deep voiced Basil Ruysdael who plays General Howard. He started his career as an opera singer at The Met, and was a radio announcer for 'Cavalcade of America' in the late 1930s , and can be seen as Andrew Jackson in the 'Davy Crockett' (1954-1955) films of Walt Disney.

Then there's James Stewart, who looks here like he was born on a horse. Except for making some flippant hand gestures, he does a good job. I first saw this movie when it came out (I was about 7), and was impressed by the way the Indians were shown, and especially Debra Paget. Now I can see how wonderfully constructed this film is, and how it was years ahead of its time as an 'adult Western.' I'll give it an 8.

P.S. I shouldn't spoil it by telling you that the peace treaty only lasted until 1875, when the Chiricahua were forced to move to a reservation since the 'Americans' wanted the copper and silver on Apache land. The renewed war continued until Geronimo's surrender in 1886. So much for the brotherhood of man.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A Great Song But the Film Doesn't Match It, 26 December 2008
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It was a common practice for a western film to have a current popular song's title as its own title, but the song almost never related to the theme, content or action of the movie. Here an attempt was made to integrate the terrifying story song 'Ghost Riders in the Sky' into this Gene Autry vehicle.

Over and after the opening credits, Gene is riding the trail with his wranglers singing the song and then starting to tell how he believes in the ghost riders. When his foreman asks why, Gene starts telling the story in flashback. Towards the middle of the film he sings the song again in full, and a third time at the end, when we rejoin Gene on the trail where the movie began.

Oh, that the story of the song could have really been what the movie was about! Instead we get your third rate oater. The only high point is seeing Gene sing it during a lightning filled rain storm in an almost music video production number, with Tom London playing the old prospector, with multiple exposures of sky and ghost herds and riders, and a dark close up of London reminiscent of those in 'The Passion of Joan of Arc' (1928)! Another of Gene's films with a music video like production number is 'Boots and Saddles' (1937), in which he sings in a slightly resigned tone 'Ridin' the Trail' a lament about how he'll be ridin' the trail the rest of his life.

The other high point is seeing a thin Alan Hale, Jr. (Gilligan's 'skipper') as an evil sheriff. But that's about it. Mary Beth Hughes, the 'breakout' star of 'I Accuse My Parents' (1944) is a saloon hall girl; the 'Prairie Flower' is played by Gloria Henry, who went on to fame as Alice, Dennis' mother in TVs 'Dennis the Menace' (1959-1963). Pat Buttram appears as Gene's sidekick, a role he played from 1948-1955. Before his 1960s TV successes, Pat had his own daily radio show in the 50s. The author of 'Ghost Riders in the Sky' Stan Jones? He graduated from Petaluma High School, where I also went to school.

The movie only gets a 4.

3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
A Low Italian Sword and Sandal Sex Comedy, 26 December 2008
2/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is not a 'Colossus,' 'Ursus', or 'Hercules' sword and sandal movie. Though using a lot of the settings of these Italian epics, we get instead a typical Italian low sex comedy of a (literal) Battle Between the Sexes: Amazon women and Greek men.

It does have a few brief inspired scenes of gender reversal with the enslaved men complaining about their housework to their returning battle weary warrior Amazon female captors, but this wonderful kind of satire does not dominate the film, which unfortunately consists mostly of the male actors mugging for the camera, particularly the lead Rod Taylor himself (with his dialog dubbed by some one else).

The script, in fact, is primarily the product of Ennio De Concini, who went on to win an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for 'Divorce Italian Style' the following year (a film which also features Daniella Rocca, who plays Rod Taylor's Amazon 'wife' here). A prodigious screen writer of over 160 films, De Concini was responsible for some of our other favorite remainder bin cheapies such as 'Assignment Outer Space' (1960), 'Battle of the Worlds' (1961) (both credited to his SF pseudonym 'Vassily Petrov'), 'The Colossus of Rhodes' (1961) with Rory Calhoun, and the Mario Bava classic 'Black Sunday' (1960) among his many, many credits.

The other American actor, Ed Fury, who plays the supposed 'Colossus' hero Glauco, starred in three 'Ursus' movies as well among his six Italian 'epics'. Rod Taylor's efforts at comedy seem mostly too silly and effete, probably the result of the direction. Rather than being enjoyably camp, this is more of a "Finally it's over!" movie.

The eclectic score of various musical styles (a lot of which sounds like 'McHale's Navy', or 'F Troop', type comic xylophone march music) tells you from the opening credits that this film is a total comedy, and not a muscleman flick with comic relief. The humor, and the film itself, come off as tedious rather than funny.

I'll generously give it a 2 for the gender reversal elements.

4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Amazing Photography Carries the Film and Heightens Its Impact!, 25 December 2008
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This film is amazing on several counts. First, the cinematography is mind boggling: we've got tons of extreme closeups, lots of low angle shots, pans and swish pans, even upside down shots. Dreyer is using the camera to tell the story of Joan of Arc's trial for heresy and her being burned at the stake.

Second, Dreyer wants the viewers to really become involved in the reality of the story. Like other films with unconventional takes on Jesus or other historical figures (such as by Martin Scorsese or Ken Russell), Carl Dreyer is really doing his own thing here, by telescoping her trial and execution into one day, without much referencing to her historical activities or character. In fact, Maria Falconetti portrays Joan as a naive, simple farm girl of deep faith, hardly conveying the image of someone capable of having led the French against the English. She spends most of her closeups either crying or saying "Oui," looking wide eyed like a deer caught in the headlights. Dreyer must have been saying here that Joan (actually Jeanne) was resigned to the inescapability of her situation. (The film is titled 'The Passion of Joan of Arc' not 'The History of Joan of Arc.')

Dreyer's whole purpose is to make the experience of her trial and death have a strong impact on the viewer. To further the reality of this, no makeup was used on any person, and the sets (when seen beyond the close-ups) were spare and almost bare, so as to not to detract from the interactions of the characters. Again, to emphasizes its reality, Dreyer introduces the story by showing that the dialogue in the film was taken directly from the real transcript of Joan's 1431 trial.

Dreyer's most formal contemporary critic complained that the 'irksome monotony' and 'maniacal' use of closeups resulted in a loss of spatial orientation for the characters, that is, you couldn't always tell who they were looking at or addressing. There was hardly any sense of the characters being in a room at all. In fact, Eisenstein's response on seeing the film was to call it 'a collection of pictures.' For Dreyer, however, his mostly all closeups approach was to show and emphasize the conflict between Joan and her interrogators.

But here's the thing: the impact of this film is undeniable. The intensity of the closeups accomplishes Dreyer's stated goal to shake up the audience and have them feel the suffering. Her being burned at the stake is equally uncompromising. As the scholar on the commentary track noted, this film makes most other films seem trivial.

The film is a compendium of French, German and Russian film making techniques. It gets a 10.

Note: The cinematographer, Rudolph Mate, who had previously worked extensively with Karl Freund, went on to his own successful career in the United States, showcasing Rita Hayworth and her hair in both 'Gilda' (1946) and 'The Lady From Shanghai' (1947)-- yes! the movie with the great Fun House Mirror shots, and as a director for 'When Worlds Collide' (1951), and the noir films 'Union Station' (1950) and 'D.O.A.' (1950) among others.

Sunrise (1927)
1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
A Stunning Cinematographic Achievement!, 25 December 2008
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A film is a visual experience. The greatest films are those that are so well composed and shot cinematographically, one can only be amazed by the visual genius on display, frequently the result of the intense vision and collaboration between director / auteur and the cinematographer. This is one of those films.

Impressed by F.W. Murnau's amazing 'The Last Laugh' (1924), William Fox did for him what RKO would later do for Orson Welles -- bring him to Hollywood and grant him carte blanche to make a movie. It was Fox's most expensive silent picture. And as Welles and Gregg Toland did in the forties with 'Citizen Kane,' Murnau, Charles Rosher and Karl Struss did in the twenties revolutionizing film making technique with 'Sunrise.' Both Rosher and Struss received the first Oscar the following year for Best Cinematography. It also won Best Picture and Best Actress. The movie really stands out as German Expressionist film made in Los Angeles. A lot of it looks like 19th Century European paintings, which had a large impact on Furnau.

At first being caught up in the Hitchcockian melodrama of the story, I almost failed to notice how the amazing composition of shots, camera movements, editing, set design, in fact every aspect of the film were all so brilliantly combined. Repeated viewings only made the film more fascinating and spectacular. It's easy (and profitable) to watch this movie over and over.

For a film to be called one of the best films of all time, you'd expect extravagant sets, and perhaps a long complicated story with lots of action. But instead we get practically bare backgrounds (for the most part) and a deceptively simple plot: an unfaithful husband, after failing to kill his wife, rebuilds his relationship with her. We keep learning the same lesson over and over from all the great film makers: it's the way that a story is told that makes a film great or not.

And this is certainly one of the greats. I'll give it a 10.

Note: While Murnau died unfortunately in a car accident in 1931, Rosher and Struss went on to long careers in Hollywood. Struss was cinematographer for countless films including 'Limelight' (1952), as well as science fiction favorites 'Rocketship X-M' (1950), 'The Fly' (1958), and the Jackie Coogan classic 'Mesa of Lost Women' (1950). In addition to 'The Yearling' (1946), Rosher did any number of musicals including 'Annie Get Your Gun' (1950), 'Showboat' (1951), and 'Kiss Me Kate' (1953).

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Sets the Tone and Style For Gene's Later Pictures, 22 December 2008
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As Gene heads off into the forties' sunset, John English does the directing, the movies lengthen up to almost 80 minutes, and the stories become a mixture of songs, dances, fights, horseback chases, the fight for land and / or water rights, and Gene's romancing of the young lady (though at the end they are often just seen arm in arm). These films, however, seem to go on too long, and are not suspensefully edited or fast paced.

This one, though, is marked by some interesting elements, and has a little bit more action than Gene's later ones when the older 50s Gene fades into the background as he does in 'Sons of New Mexico' (1950), which really centers around Dick Jones / Dick West. Actually partially shot in Tucson, Arizona, 'The Last Round-Up' centers around Gene's helping the local Indians (the name Navajo is not mentioned).

There are several good musical numbers, especially the long and slow version of 'The Last Round Up' towards the end; Gene singing with the Texas Ramblers on several songs; Gene's version of Bing Crosby's 1937 hit 'An Apple for the Teacher'; and a slow barn dance version of 'Red River Valley' and school kids singing 'She'll Be Comin Round the Mountain' in their classroom with Bobby and Gene.

To help the Indians, Gene is even shown on a TV show broadcast to 'the old red school house' in his pitch to get them to move to a beautiful valley. Robert 'Bobby' Blake has a prominent role, somehow looking older than he did in 'The Treasure of the Sierra Madre' (1948).

Even though this one is a LONG 77 minutes, I enjoyed the musical numbers; so I'll give it a four and half.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
It's a Must See Stunning Visual Achievement!, 20 December 2008
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This film is a must see; it's a stunning visual achievement. The most expensive silent film ever made. The staggeringly elaborate sets, the camera-work, the Technicolor segments, and the special effects are absolutely spectacular.

The sea battle and chariot race sequences are better here than they are in the more famous sound version. 'Breezy' Eason, the race's second unit director had 62 assistant directors working on the fantastic chariot race sequence, one of whom was William Wyler, who made the sound version of 'Ben Hur' in 1959, and who repeated much of what we see in these two seminal parts of both versions. The chariot race camera work is amazing: it's exciting, tight, fast and expertly edited, even including shots of horses seen from the ground looking up. No wonder the race's editing was so remarkable -- 200,000 feet of shot film was cut to 750 feet! Action director Eason was notorious for his cavalier treatment of animal safety, so much so that as a result of so many wounded or killed horses on his 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' (1936), the Humane Society started monitoring animal safety during film shooting. Here, at the end of the race we see a massive pile up of chariot teams of horses, like cars on a freeway. The only really grim moment.

Ramon Novarro does more than a creditable job as Judah, Ben-Hur, if you can get that image of the huskier Charlton Heston out of your mind. Actually, Ramon does a better job-- he's not playing his own stereotype. He didn't have much later success in films, though you can find him in an episode of Boris Karloff's 'Thriller' (1962) TV show. May McAvoy, who plays Esther, left films when sound came in, but returned in the forties to only uncredited parts. Betty Bronson, after her star turn 'Peter Pan' (1924) appears briefly here as a beatific (but very unpregnant looking) Mary mother of Jesus during the opening Nativity sequences (some in color!). You can see her still playing pixie girls as Gene Autry's love interest in 'Yodelin' Kid from Pine Ridge' (1937).

The person who had the most continuing success was Francis X. Bushman (Massala), whom we are used to seeing as an old man in 50s and 60s TV shows and junk movies. As the villain, he was not in this movie enough, or was bad enough, as was Stephen Boyd in the sound version. Here his face and makeup reminded me of Al Lewis as 'Grandpa' in 'The Munsters.' He can be seen as the police chief in the first self-titled Dick Tracy serial (1937).

A real bonus to the film, in the crystal clear four disk set from M-G-M is the new magnificent music soundtrack by Carl Davis, composer of not only the TV series 'World at War', but of original scores for 'Intolerance' (1916), 'Greed' (1924), 'The Thief of Bagdad' (1924), 'The Phantom of the Opera' (1924), 'The General' (1927) and 'Napoleon' (1927). Needless to say he knows how to fit the score to the film; knowing when to put it in the background, as he does in the extended touching emotional scene where Judah's mother and sister discover him sleeping, and when to pump it up into the foreground as he does for the chariot race. Great placement and use of music!

A cast of 125,000 people. Almost two and a half hours, that go by quickly. The whole story told as in the remake, but with a little more added here. This version emphasizes the expectations the Jewish people had for a Deliverer, and it also adds depth to the revolutionary message of Christianity. Unbelievable sets, great camera-work, action and visual story telling. You've got to give it at least an 8.

So why not a 10? Ultimately it's not up to the great 10s of Silent German Cinema. Here we get a film about Ben 'Horatio Alger' Hur's fall and rise to fame and fortune told in easy and continuing coincidences, especially in the final ten minutes, with a lot of overwrought acting not very much controlled by silent film director Niblo.

But still, this a definite must see silent film for the magnificent achievement that it is. I give it an 8.

Jungle Jim (1937)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Not The Worst Serial But Not That Much Either, 18 December 2008
3/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

When I'm about to play a DVD of a serial I've never seen before, I feel a thrill of anticipation of heroic characters and tension filled exciting cliffhangers. Alas, here, as in the majority of movie serials, you get let downs and disappointments: let downs from poor cliffhangers, less than strong heroes and villains and disappointingly weak plotting.

In this one we do not have a well plotted sequence of chapters as in 'The Perils of Pauline' (1934), 'The Return of Chandu' (1934) or the three 'Flash Gordon' serials (1936, 1938, 1940), 'Tim Tyler's Luck' (1937) or the 'Empty Doom' chapters of 'Superman vs. Atom Man' (1950); there's not a great music track utilizing original or classical music to either signal and build suspense during danger sequences, as in 'Zorro's Fighting Legion' (1939) 'Don Winslow of the Navy' (1942) or the three 'Flash Gordon' serials. Stock Universal music is used in 'Jungle Jim', including snatches from Franz Waxman's amazing score from 1934's 'The Bride of Frankenstein', but none of it is used to build tension or signal danger.

Like so many serials, it is nothing more than back and forth escapes and returns to and from somewhere, in this case, the castle of the Cobra (Henry Brandon) and the African jungle.

Jungle Jim (Grant Withers) and his sidekick Malay Mike (Raymond Hatton) are searching for and then find a missing girl, Joan Redmond (Betty Jane Rhodes), who had been shipwrecked in Africa sixteen years earlier. Now a 'Lion Goddess', she shares a castle with the evil Cobra and his sister Shanghai Lil (Evelyn Brent). Then begins 12 chapters of back and forth movement, with the usual thirties mix of 'African' wild life, crocodile, lion and tiger stock footage with a few attacks and maulings thrown in. Fortunately we are spared seeing men in gorilla suits that would otherwise further strain our credulity. The fist fights are poor, with the combatants mostly swinging their arms sideways at each other-- where was Yakima Canutt when we needed him?

Grant Withers has almost no acting ability, and displays no knowledge of the jungle that would qualify him to be a 'Jungle' Jim. By contrast, Raymond Hatton comes off the best in the whole serial. He seems to be an authentic adventurer. He started in films in 1909 (appearing in over 400 films), and by this time was a seasoned veteran capable of playing well to the camera whenever he was on screen, with a wide range of gestures and little bits of business, in addition to his sometimes snappy dialogue. He also had the best lines:

Jim: (while both are locked in a jail cell) "There's always a way out of a situation like this if you put your mind to it." Mike: "Well, you may be able to open that door with your mind, but I'd need a crowbar."

Henry Brandon appears here without facial disguises that marked such great roles as Silas Barnaby in 'Babes in Toyland' (1934), which he reprised in 'Our Gang Follies of 1938' (1937), or as Fu Manchu in 'The Drums of Fu Manchu' (1940), or as the hermit in 'The Land Unknown' (1958). You can see his mature face in one of the original 'Outer Limits' episodes. Here he is given little to do and exudes almost no menace; there's no rhyme or reason for him to be called the Cobra: he doesn't have one, dress like one, act like one or change into one.

16-year-old Betty Jane Rhodes plays Joan in a watchable, tight, short one piece classic Jungle Goddess outfit. She went on to be a successful pop singer in the 1940s. It'll be almost another ten years before we get a strong action heroine (Linda Stirling). Evelyn Brent plays The Cobra's sister in a stridently one note performance; quite a contrast to the magnificent acting she does as the prostitute Cherry Malotte in the fantastic action / soap opera, 'The Silver Horde' (1930) with Joel McCrea and Raymond Hatton, who also turns in another good performance there.

Not much to recommend here except for watching Betty Jane in her Jungle Goddess outfit, or Raymond Hatton showing us his on screen acting skills. As a serial, it's certainly not the worst, but it doesn't give us anything to make us call it very good. It's just a little below fair: that's a 3.

Crazy Love (2007/I)
3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
An Expertly Crafted Documentary, 1 December 2008
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is an expertly crafted documentary superbly edited. It's no wonder it won awards for best documentary.

It chronicles the bizarre story of Burton Pugach and his life long relationship / obsession with Linda Riss, as narrated by them on camera, with extensive archival footage, home movies, photographs, news clips, newspaper headlines, contemporary music samples, and first person interviews, all parading before us at an almost dizzying speed. Just compare this with other documentaries that may contain some or most of these elements, but those mostly come off as being too 'Frontline' -ish or preachy. This one, however, grabs hold of you from the beginning and keeps your attention even up through the final credits (with the great and appropriate 'Burning Love' by Elvis Presley-- what a heck of an ending!).

Given the extensive media coverage given to the Burt / Linda Pugach story during his crime, two trials and their shocking marriage, all of which the filmmakers could draw from, it's amazing how seamlessly and effortlessly this work of art appears to have been crafted. A superlative example of documentary film making.

One clever little editing device for me was that for most of the film, while the camera showed Linda narrating her story and reactions, it would show Burton narrating his story separately. It wasn't until after they got married that you see they have actually been sitting side by side the whole time! A subtle little way to show the development of their story.

The film passes no judgment on either Burton or Linda. The ending where they are dancing on a cruise ship was especially poignant for me: as the narration describes how only they know how they see each other, and it may be as a vision of their past when they were first together. As my own wife and I are approaching 'cruise ship age,' I began thinking how will we see each other as we grow into old age? Needless to say, the image of them dancing is something that will be a part of my thoughts for many years, when my wife and I take their place on that ship.

The bizarre story of Burt and Linda has so many twists and turns that your attention is constantly focused on it; but the superb editing and masterful use of sources are so adroitly done that you're barely aware of how carefully this film was constructed. I'll give it a 10.


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