Reviews written by
(aandersen@landmark.edu)

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74 reviews in total 
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11 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
Ann-Margret's original "take" on Blanche is the only reason to view this, 12 August 2005
5/10

This second film version of the famous Pulitzer Prize-winning Tennessee Williams play is the lesser of its three film incarnations.

The original 1951 film's only drawback is the excised 20 minutes of original play material. The third version (Jessica Lange) is the complete play on film and her performance is exceptional.

The Ann-Margret version suffers visually (it's extremely darkly lit and faces are hard to make out). The terrible "bleed" on the VHS release mixes reds and blacks to a degree that eliminates clarity in over 50% of the visuals. The casting is also uninspired. Williams is physically perfect for Stanley, but is not up to the acting requirements. Quaid is good as Mitch, but not outstanding. D'Angelo seems anachronistic and more suited to 1984 than the post-WWII setting.

Ann-Margret is a stronger and sexier Blanche than either Leigh or Lange. She is no-nonsense when she arrives - there is an almost complete lack of flirtation and mannerism, so that we are surprised later how quickly this "in-charge" woman loses her grip on reality. Neither the director nor Ann-Margret have prepared us for the Blanche we encounter at the end of the film. They almost seem like two different women.

By casting Blanche as a younger woman and not that removed from the age level of her other cast members, the sexuality can be emphasized and played for real without seeming tawdry. The mutual attraction between Blanche and Stanley is made obvious here from the beginning. The rape is between equals, not the brutish overwhelming of a scared old maid.

This desperately needs visual restoration before anyone tries to give it back to the public. Even the VHS box lists the film erroneously as 96 minutes, when it is 119 minutes (correctly labeled on the cassette itself).

See this if you are a fan of the play - it will expand your understanding of the many depths and dimensions of the characters - without actually ever seeming to "work."

Tombstone (1993)
157 out of 193 people found the following review useful:
Kilmer Steals The Show, But A Fine Show It Is, 11 August 2005
10/10

A terrific Western- a thoughtful screenplay - uniformly fine performances - Russell has never been better - quality widescreen cinematography - and a knockout character performance by Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday that should have won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar. This is a winner all the way.

Kilmer has only 31 scenes but manages to steal every one of them with a solid, beautifully thought and felt impersonation of a Southern gentleman, owing a bit to Tennessee Williams' famous drawl. His constantly drunken state - "I have two guns, one for each of you." -and his slow, sad death from tuberculosis - are masterworks of acting technique. Even if you don't like westerns, see it for his remarkable performance.

4 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Poorly made expose of nasty, sociopathic college students, 18 July 2005
2/10

It would seem that the only reason this film was made was in order to trash youth. According to its premise, college students are narcissistic, mean, nasty, drug and sex-crazed monsters. At least everyone in this film is -with one glaring exception- the only "together" character and the only likable one is Paul, the gay boy, sensitively played by Ian Somerhalder.

For the rest, it is a pointless plunge into a dark world. What makes it even worse is the totally inept direction. Yes, the backing up of the camera to go back in time was clever once - but the director was so pleased with himself, he kept repeating the effect until it wore on the nerves. Ditto the stupid fast action, fast talking summary of one student's summer in Europe - that seemed to go on for decades.

A real piece of trash with one true note - Ian Somerhalder's lovely characterization of Paul - full of humor, wit and serious devotion.

Lifeboat (1944)
36 out of 47 people found the following review useful:
Superb Hitchcock and superb Bankhead, 8 July 2005
10/10

How difficult is it to make a 96 minute film with one set and keep it consistently interesting and fascinating? Answer: Extremely - but Hitchcock and his cinematographer pulled it off brilliantly.

Bankhead is brilliant and deserved an Oscar nom for Best Actress - likewise William Bendix is superb and deserved a Best Supporting Actor nom -neither made the Academy's final list. A shame! (I found Bendix in WAKE ISLAND, for which he was nominated, rather forgettable).

This one did get noms for direction, cinematography and original story- all deserved. The ensemble playing from everyone is exceptional - it's dark and harrowing, but a masterpiece nonetheless. Don't miss it!

15 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
A masterpiece of editing and one of Keaton's two best features, 7 July 2005
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Although short by comparison to his other features (by up to half an hour) this is Buster's most cinematic feature and shows all his mastery of film technique and the magic of special effects editing. In fact it's a primer on brilliant editing - the best edited silent film I've ever seen.

The classic moments are many:

***WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD ****

1. The lost dollar gag with a wallet hidden in trash. 2. The gift of a small diamond and a magnifying glass to view it with. 3. The brilliant nine shot/three minute editing sequence with Keaton in the film he is projecting with constantly changing backdrops. 4. The explosive pool ball always miraculously "missed" in the solo pool game. 5. The home with the mirrored room and the safe as entry door. 6. The jump through the window into an old lady costume. 7. The jump through the middle of his assistant. 8. The perfectly timed motorcycle ride over the gapped bridge. 9. The swamped car as boat complete with sail.

This has to be the cleverest film ever imagined. Along with SEVEN CHANCES, it's my favorite Keaton and a must see for anyone interested in either film art or Keaton's comedy.

The KINO print is crisp and clear and the score (part old fashioned jazz, part modern) is provided by the Club Foot Orchestra.

5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Keaton's family members perform in delightful morality tale., 6 July 2005
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is one of Buster's best features. It's far more serious than any other film he ever made with its deadly feud and its plea for tolerance. It neatly divides in half, the first half on one of the first trains ever constructed, not a replica but a borrowed museum piece. The second half takes place at and around the home of his new girlfriend, trying to evade her murdering father and brothers.

The train journey is inspired and far funnier than the gags used in the later THE GENERAL, and some are repeated in that later film, primarily the engine and train disconnecting and the latter going off on a side rail, only to come back onto the main track, ahead of the engine.

What is most marvelous is that Keaton's father, Joe (the engineer), his son, Buster, Jr. (his character as an infant), and his wife, Natalie Talmadge (the girl, Mary), are all in the film with him.

***ALERT - SPOILERS AHEAD**** Great gags in the train sequence: the dog keeping up with the slow moving train throughout the journey; the ruse of rock throwing to get free firewood; moving the track to go around a stubborn mule; getting off the track entirely and meandering down a country road.

Once in town, we have the classic attempted rescue of a woman from her abusive spouse only to be clobbered himself, his dream estate actually blowing up when confronted by the miserable truth, the sudden new waterfall that miraculously hides him from his foes, the indoor/outdoor chase to avoid being shot, the dog fetching the unwanted hat, the horse made up to look like the escaping Keaton disguised as a woman with an umbrella; the fall from the train into the stream and the nonchalant paddle as the car is turned into a boat; and of course the extraordinary precision of the final waterfall rescue.

Oddly enough the KINO print (crisp, clear)makes use of two Jerome Kern tunes in its score for horns, violin, and drum - WHIPPOORWILL and LOOK FOR THE SILVER LINING.

This is a wonderfully inventive comedy and safely walks the line of making its serious points without bringing high spirits down. A must-see, especially as a double bill with his later, THE GENERAL.

3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Brilliant editing makes this Buster's most cinematic short, 28 June 2005
8/10

During the first five minutes of this short, we see Buster assume over two dozen characters (including three pairs of audience members, conductor, six orchestra members, a stage technician and an astonishing nine minstrels all in a row.) He also manages to dance with himself on stage. The multiple exposures had to take place within the camera - accurately masking off sections of the film, then re-running it to expose parts while those already filmed are covered. Special effects had not come to the labs as yet. This brilliant knowledge of film and film editing shows why he is the greatest of all silent film comedians - he understood the craft and the art of film making.

The remainder of the film does not live up to those first five minutes. Buster pursues twins (actually the same girl-again making use of multiple exposures). There is a great impersonation of a monkey but other than that not much to amuse us. The pair of war veterans, each with one arm, clapping their remaining hands together when both liking something comes a cropper when one refuses to lend his hand to an act he doesn't care for. Other than these two inspired bits, the rest of the film is not inspired. It moves very fast and is amusing. Those first five minutes, though, and the edited screen sequence in SHERLOCK JR. are Keaton's greatest moments on film.

Kino's print is crisp and clear, using violin, piano, drum, flute accompaniment. A must-see.

Cops (1922)
7 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
Amusing Keaton short but derivative, 28 June 2005
5/10

This is certainly an amusing short, but I differ from most reviewers who maintain that it is Keaton's best. It is short of inventiveness, rerunning ideas found elsewhere - mainly the chase sequence at the end.

There are some clever bits - the empty wallet/auto gag at the beginning, the boxing glove extension for making left turns, placing phone calls to the horse and the climaxing seesaw ladder. These however are merely good for a chuckle or two - missing is the sheer inventiveness of Keaton's best work.

Kino's print is crisp and clear and contains an organ musical accompaniment. Worth seeing, but not worth cherishing.

2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Atypical Keaton but solid film comedy, 28 June 2005
8/10

Although this is an excellent film, it has never grabbed me the way it has others. It's very professionally made with the editing a standout. It's greatest value for me is the forever lost vistas and landscapes of the unspoiled land we constantly see whizzing by in the background of most shots. I find it clever and amusing, but never really funny. The attempt to turn a serious historical event into a comic romp never quite works all the way for me.

There are moments, however: The father sorting the mail and Buster's photo along with it, Buster's famous train engine piston ride, the shifting cannon and the sheer brilliance of the setup for its actual demolishing shot, the errant boxcar, and the hordes of retreating Southerners and advancing Northerners rushing by Keaton's train while he is blithely unaware - these are great moments, but not enough to sustain an entire film. Frankly, I get bored watching this. Keaton's pacing and rhythms and gag invention for his other features seem to be missing here. It's almost as if we're watching a "serious" comedy - if that is possible.

Kino's print is sharp, clear and looks like it was made yesterday. There are sepia and blue tints throughout. The musical accompaniment is violin, piano, drums, flute.

It is certainly a very good film and worth seeing - I just don't find it top of the line Keaton.

Three Ages (1923)
7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Anachronisms and sight gags abound in Keaton's first feature, 21 June 2005
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This was Keaton's first feature and is in actuality three shorts, set in different periods (Stone Age, Roman Age, Modern Age) on the eternal triangle of romance. The stories parallel each other as in Griffith's INTOLERANCE, which this was intended to satirize. The strengths of the jokes and gags almost all rely on anachronisms, bringing modern day business into ancient settings.

**** WARNING - SPOILERS FOLLOW TO ELABORATE BEST POINTS ******

Here are the classic moments:

Using a turtle as a wee-gee board (Stone Age); A wrist watch containing a sun dial (Roman Age); A chariot with a spare wheel (Roman Age); Using a helmet as a tire lock (Roman Age); Early golf with clubs and rocks(Stone Age); Dictating a will being carved into a rock (Stone Age); The changing weather forecaster (Roman Age); The chariot race in snow -Buster using skis and huskies with a spare dog in the chariot's boot(Roman Age).

The above are all throw-away gags that keep us chuckling. There are however unforgettable moments as well:

Buster taking out shaving equipment to match girl putting on make-up; The fantastic double take when an inebriated Buster gazes at his plate to discover a crab staring up at him (within one second he has leaped to stand on his chair from a sitting position and leaped again into the arms of the waiter - one of the funniest moments I've ever seen). And that lion - the manicure -just brilliant.

There's also an off-color bit of racism when four African-American litter bearers abandon their mistress for a Roman crap game.

Kino's print is a bit fuzzy and contains numerous sequences of both nitrate deterioration and film damage- most probably at ends of reels. The Metro feature is scored with piano and flute and borrows heavily from Grieg.

Lots of fun and full of laughs.


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