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233 reviews in total 
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Class of '61 (1993) (TV)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Class of 61: A Movie Glorifying The Southron Cause of Slavery, 7 May 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Recent history has produced several made-for-TV movies which have glorified the southron cause of slavery and secession even more than DW Griffith's film Birth of A Nation. In this film Slaves obey their masters in conformance with Holy Writ (Colossians 3:22) and regard the plantation as home.

This is a generous reading of the sands of time. Even as early as the 1950s with a real right wing star John Wayne in HORSE SOLDIERS, Hollywood showed how Black Southerners warmly greeted US Army troops. The answer to the writers of this film comes from Mr Lincoln himself: "Anyone who thinks slavery is a good idea ought to try it out." On the other hand the costuming was excellent and the scenery was well done.

10 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
Victorian Romance, 15 February 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I was surprised to see the number of negative commentary on this made for TV film. Much of it I think fails to understand the limitations of the genre of the story book Victorian Romance.

A client once told me, "Middle class marriages of that era were all arranged; that is why they were more enduring!"

Of course in MAKING OF A LADY, we're dealing with the upper crust. In England, that's the landed aristocracy, enjoying its last hurrah in the time of the Queen-regnant Victoria.

In reality making of the Lady is two stories in one. The first story is how Emily is selected to become the Lady of the Manor.

Meet Emily Fox-Seton (Lydia Wilson) good-natured, tall, with a respected family name but no money. Boarding with the Cupps, mother and daughter, Emily acts as a as a secretary to Lady Maria Byrne. (Joanna Lumley). At Lady Marie's country home, Emily meets Maria's cousin Lord James Walderhurst, a retired 50 year old colonel.

Lord James is widower who needs to get marry and quickly produce an heir to his fortune. It's a set up and Emily elected. Notwithstanding a little hesitation, Emily trots off in white to wed Lord James in an impressive church service which concludes with the arch of swords.

Now, James for all his hurry proves to be a bit of a shy breeder, until he shows Emily the "priest hole," a secret passage that connects their rooms. Mission accomplished. Had the story ended there, this would be a cute Victorian Romantic comedy with the cheery assurance that life goes on.

Enter Part II: The struggle for the Family Estate. A critical facet of the Victorian Romance was the struggle for the family estate and wealth.

By the time James is recalled to service in India, Emily is pregnant. Against the advice of Jame's loyal servants who are abit frosty to Emily, Emily admits two of Jame's relatives: Captain Alec Osborn (James D'Arcy) and Alec's Anglo-Indian wife dark complexioned Hester Osborn (Hasina Haque) to the Estate. They stand to inherit the entire Estate if James and Emily are unsuccessful in producing a new generation of Walderhursts. There's an interesting play on words at work in Walder (forest) Hurst (treed hill) suggesting Emily is riding a slippery slope.

Naturally, Captain Alec, his Anglo-Indian wife and her Indian servant with the frightfully sounding name Ameerah though syrupy friendly to Emily at least initially hatch plot after plot against the pregnant Emily. James returns from India in the nick-of-time to keep Emily from being suffocated by the powerful servant Ameerah.

The art form is the Victorian romance: the conflict is preserving the family line. Told in the version adapted by MAKING OF A LADY, the forces of evil are the fallen cousin who is wasteful and profligate and has moved from the protection of the caste structure by marrying beneath his station.

There are variations on the basic structure of the Victorian Romance where the wife of the lord of the manor and a servant are plotting against order and stability of the realm. This sometimes takes the form of the Butler did it. A more modern version of this yarn might daringly make the Anglo-Indian wife of the spent-thrift poorer relative the heroine of the story.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Great Score: Credible Acting, 12 February 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I saw the film 633 squadron when it was first released in '64. The film follows in the tradition of many great Air War Stories including DAWN PATROL. The score for the film is the finest musical adaptation or imitation of the revving aircraft engine.

Cliff Robertson who was a good American actor played a credible leading role as wing commander. We did deem it odd that the British would make an American a Major in the Royal Air Force and appoint him wing commander. That could be the work of studios trying to sell the story here in the US.

The perception of the colonial audience was that the mission portrayed was an attack on German Heavy Water experiments and that the attack took place earlier in the war.

The scene of bombing the GESTAPO HQs came right out of an earlier film, 13 Rue Madeleine (1947)starring Jimmy Carney.

Pre-Star Wars films like the live stage required a measure of "willing suspension of disbelief." I try to adjust myself to that before watching old films.

Doctor's mistakes are buried, 28 October 2013

This film is based loosely on (a) US sponsored psychological experiment in which a prominent psychiatrist ran amok creating a prison in the basement of a noted liberal University. It follows in the steps of a German film Das Experiment (2001), highlighting lack of originality in the US theatre.

Very different from from the real life experiment in which the participants, recruited from students between semesters received rather chincy emoluments, the movie version claims that the test subjects, were offered stupendous incentives for their collaboration.

The film correctly states that volunteers were assigned roles and that as the experiment went on the participants fell into the roles that were given them. Like the German film, the experiment devolves into ever increasing dosages of violence.

In the US version, the feel good ending is even better than the German version. Travis (Adrien Brody) one of the prisoners has such a will to resist the torture and degradation that he busts out. Everyone follows him and they all receive their handsome checks.

In real life, there was no busting out but there was some busting back in. Some who had under intimidation quit the experiment returned and applied to be re-instated. They had formed a camaraderie with the others in the project and wanted to see it through.

In the film version the consequences for the authors of this fiendish experiment was severe. In an investigation that follows, the mad scientist, a rather small and squat gnomish sort behind the experiment, is indicted.

In real life nothing of the kind occurred. Jocularly speaking of the escapade a quarter century later, the real life psychiatrist hosted a US sponsored college course on psychology.

Doctor's mistakes are buried with ...., 28 October 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I was impressed with this German made film which I found to be superior to its American copy starring Sean Penn later produced.

This film is based loosely on a US sponsored experiment in which a prominent psychiatrist ran amok creating a prison in the basement of a noted liberal University. However differing from the real life experiment in which the participants, recruited from students between semesters received rather small emoluments, the movie version claims that the test subjects, recruited from newspaper ads were offered stupendous incentives for their collaboration.

The film correctly states that volunteers were assigned roles and that as the experiment went on the participants fell into the roles that were given them. Indeed at one point the 'guards' kidnap one of the staff and throw her behind bars.

In this version, a MI undercover agent has been inserted in the scenario in the role of a prisoner to act as a controller. He knows an escape route and can break up the experiment if he has to.

There is a feel-good ending in which the mad scientist behind the experiment comes down on charges.

In real life that never happened. Jocularly speaking of it a quarter century later, the real life psychiatrist hosted a US sponsored college course on psychology.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
John Wayne's Finest Movie, 26 October 2012

Horse Soldiers ranks with Major Dundee and Twelve O'Clock High in its study of the personality of command. Colonel John Marlowe is the man with the mission: break rebel supply lines supporting besieged Vicksburgh. On one hand he must deal with a meddlesome Regular Army Surgeon Major Henry Kendall (William Holden) and on the other an ambitious, backbiting subordinate Colonel Phil Secord who expects the campaign to launch him into politics. Along the way, the raiding force is constrained to internee Miss Hannah Hunter, (Constance Towers) a Southern Belle laced with a poisonous, duplicit charm.

Miss Hannah Hunter: (bending over with a plate of chicken, revealing ample cleavage) Do you prefer the leg... or the breast? Col. John Marlowe: I've had quite enough of both, thank you.

The raid must proceed with stealth and speed until it reaches it's target. Any man who can't continue must be left to the clemency of the enemy. Deep in rebel held territory, quarter is not to be expected. With such parameters, there is a constant clash between Dr Kendall and Colonel Marlowe. Behind his back, Kendall calls Colonel Marlowe 'Old Iron Head.' To his face Kendall is generally glib but subtle:

Major Kendall: That's a pretty primitive outlook; medically speaking, that is. Col. John Marlowe: Well, doctor, war isn't exactly a civilized business.


Col. John Marlowe: (during firefight) I didn't want this. I tried to avoid a fight! Major Kendall: That's why I took up medicine.

The US Army takes the rebel supply depot at Newton Station and routs a rebel attempt to retake it. The grim work is about to be done:

Miss Hannah Hunter: You're not going to burn the town down Major? Maj. Richard Gray: No ma'am just war supplies; cotton, railroad equipment, contraband ma'am.

But Marlowe a Railroad Engineer in civilian life does not revel in the task as does the would-be politician Phil Secord. The plan is to skedaddle South to US held Baton Rouge. Along the way PVT Dunker develops an infection which Dr Kendall treats with tree moss. The photography of the scene is incredibly well done with John Wayne's standing in the shadows looking on in horror. "You're putting dirt on a wound?"

There's a powerful ending. A dramatic Cavalry charge breaks through rebel lines and brings the US Cavalry across a creek and back into US held territory.

The skill with which the movie was done cannot be under-stressed. The film accurately shows the terrifying impact of the war on the civilian population and the enthusiastic greeting US forces received from the Black Southerners.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A Crack in the Mirror, 6 August 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The film deserved all the commentary it received both pro and con. I was surprised and gratified that a film which deals with tragedy and the tragic attracted this much attention in a country which is dedicated to the patented formula Hollywood ending.

Meet Rhoda Williams (Brit Marling) she's got everything, pretty, a brilliant astronomy affectionado and on her way to MIT. Like most teens, she went out to celebrate and drove home drunk. On her way home, distracted by a strange phenomena in the sky, another earth which has come into view, she slams into John Burroughs' (William Mapother) car which was stopped at a light. John Burroughs' pregnant wife and son are killed in the collision. Burroughs goes into a coma.

Rhoda draws a four year stretch. Flash ahead 4 years, Rhoda is out of jail and Burroughs is out of a coma. Returning home to her room which was left as it was when she prepared to go out on the night of the collision, a sullen, morose Rhoda dismantles the room and sleeps on the floor. While her parole officer encourages her to return to school, she opts for a job cleaning the local high school so that she can avoid contact with other people. Wandering around in a fog, she gives up her flashy clothes and dresses as unattractively as possible, like a bum.

She has an important need to apologize to Burrows for his loss but ends up cleaning his house. Burrows might have remained in the alcohol numbed stupor into which he slid after recovering from the coma but Rhoda never cashed his checks. He therefore seeks her out and their relationship blossoms into a love interest. Burroughs returns to pursue the music he had laid aside, advising Rhoda that right before the tragic accident he had reached a state of contentment.

The implication is clear and Rhoda uses it to justify her actions to herself by believing she is making Mr Burrow's life a bit better every day. Even the distant, morose Rhoda seems to become more lively.

But Rhoda's past catches up with her when her essay wins a seat on the privately funded expedition to the alternate earth. Will her path cross over Mr Burroughs or will they collide once again? The photography nicely complements the script and imparts that distant or disconnected feeling to which a morose Rhoda is subject.

The ending has a powerful message on that subject, but see the film and come to your own conclusion.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Strac Troops, 2 August 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Welcome to the Mobile Infantry. The Federation's strac force. Earth is united not in some pipe dream democracy but in a Spartan state where the only citizens are the warriors given preference in reproduction.

As the movie opens Johnny Rico (Casper Van Dien), Dizzy Flores (Dina Meyer), Carmen Ibanez (Denise Richards)and Carl Jenkins (Neil Patrick Harris) are finishing up high school. Their teacher Jean Rasczak (Michael Ironside) preaches the value of citizenship in the militarized state. Although Johnny is under Raszack's spell, his primary reason for signing up is to follow his girl friend Carmen who wants to be a pilot. Dizzy the quarterback of the High School's indoor football team signs up to follow Johnny, one of the Ends on the team.

Carl, a genius, gets sent to games and strategies. Carmen is tapped for pilot training; with low scores on aptitude tests, Johnny is sent for a rugged basic training in Mobile Infantry. After some contra-temps in training, Johnny nearly drops out but the enemy of the human race a species of bugs attacks earth and strikes Buenos Aires, Johnny's hometown. Johnny is out for revenge on the entire bug race.

There are some brutal battles on the bug's home planet and at an outpost of the federation on Planet P before the MI captures the brain bug.

The film came out in 1999 two years before the 9-11 attack on NYC. It is interesting to see where the writers correctly gauged the likely reaction and where they failed.

The acting if not stellar is extremely well done. The story line of young people fumbling around with adult responsibilities is credible. The phony newsreels that carry the script along and bring out background material might bring a smile to people old enough to remember Movietone news in the Theatres.

The film is highly recommended. The costuming is excellent with a decided tendency for a German look in the uniforms.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Cat and Mouse, 25 July 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Scarlet and the Black is billed as the real life story of Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty, an Irish Roman-Catholic priest who rescued Allied POWs from German captors.

The year is 1943. Italy has surrendered. The Germans now occupying Rome are resisting an invasion by the US and the UK.Monsignor O'Flaherty (Gregory Peck), an Irish national runs an underground organization to provide safe haven to escaped US and British PoWs and other refugees. Father O'Flaherty is dogged by SS LTC Herbert Kappler (Christopher Plummer) who is in charge of military police operations. Anxious to prevent US and UK escapees from fleeing into the Vatican, theoretically an independent country recognized by The Reich, the Colonel has painted a white line across St. Peter's Square to mark the limits of Vatican sovereignty.

It's quite a cat and mouse game with Father O'Flaherty one step ahead of the SS both in the movement of US and UK personnel through Rome and in the war of wits. Audaciously, O'Flaherty recommends democracy to the German SS as an alternative to their brutish ways.

The made for TV movie suffers from an important historical lapse. Though Pope Pius as played by Sir John Gielgud is antagonistic to the Germans, real life Pius armed his Swiss Guard and instructed them to deny entry to the Vatican enclave to allied escapees. The role of Pius in World War II will always be a matter of controversy.

O'Flaherty and this story are supposedly based on real life events. If so, O'Flaherty was playing cat and mouse not only with the Germans but also with the Pope who at this point was unwilling to get involved. The big question I have is Why would O'Flaherty help Britons who were his country's enemy only recently expelled from his homeland or Americans who were allied with Britain? The film does not answer the question, but proceeds to show O'Flaherty help the wife and children of his nemesis escape retribution from the victors as an humanitarian gesture.

It is a good movie nonetheless and highly recommended.

A rising Star in Troubled Times, 25 July 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I was surprised to read the many criticisms of this film as dated. In a real sense, as the film belongs to a particular historical era, it along with any film set in a particular time period would be dated. It is against that historical background, the licentiousness of the 1920s, the rise of dictatorships and totalitarian regimes in the roman church's heartland of southern Germany, Austria and Italy, and the onset of world war II that the priest, Stephen Fermoyle (Tom Tryon), always with an element of self-doubt, rises up the roman church's rigid hierarchy during those turbulent times to receive the red hat and deliver the acceptance speech at the end.

The prime motivation for rushing this film into production was the uproar over the controversial play THE DEPUTY which openly criticized the Vatican for its involvement with Germany. This film suggests that the church of Rome was more a victim of the fascists than a conspirator with them. That issue may be the subject of endless debate.

Yet, there is an important historical lapse in the film. The film correctly states that many officials of the roman church collaborated with the German New World Order, but the portrayal of the occupation of Austria as a violent act of aggression accompanied by a brutal assault on a church is not true. The Germans entered Austria with oompah bands and were enthusiastically greeted there.

The US however never treated Austria as a full-fledged opponent and thus Austria needed to be liberated rather than defeated.

Tom Tryon's performance received much criticism from others as weak. I found it worthy of a Jeffrey Hunter, a better known star of that time. Indeed Tryon's performance could stand up to Gregory Peck's portrayal of Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty in The Scarlet and the Black (1983) which dealt with similar issues.

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