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A meditation on war!, 13 November 2016

** spoiler alert **

One of the series' very best episodes, tragic news arrives at Eaton Place for Rose. Sgt. Wilmont has been killed, Rose is inconsolable, and the entire downstairs is rocked. Hazel does her best to comfort Rose but is dealing with her grief with the news of Lt. Jack Dyson's death, which is front page news. In an incandescent scene, one grief- stricken woman does her best to calm another with the advice to seek comfort in prayer. In the meantime, a broken James returns home and does his best to explain to his wife what's happened and why he no longer believes in the unimaginable horror of this conflict. It's here that we begin to see the unhinging of James Bellamy. "The Glorious Dead" are not only the heroes who have sacrificed their lives - they are used and, even manipulated, by the living for the purpose of psychological survival. The episode is a tour de force, thematically, dramatically and, without revealing the denouement, fiercely and intensely moving. It is a bravura 50 minutes of riveting television viewing and, a searing meditation on the abject waste and nightmare of violent conflict.

3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
A great loss to the series, indeed., 26 November 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This review may contain SPOILERS.

I can only applaud what the previous reviewer has said about this episode. I was shocked when I first viewed it many years ago, and I still find it hard to watch.

A dreadfully tempered James, upon hearing of the incipient marriage of his father to Virginia Hamilton, has a bitter quarrel with Hazel. He throws her out of the morning room and, as she is down with the Spanish flu, trips as she runs upstairs.It is Rose who looks after her, takes her temperature and summons Dr. Foley. Richard, smitten with Virginia, seems to have forgotten all about Hazel, which, indeed, I found very odd. Hazel was the mighty fortress who kept the household together and coherent in the aftermath of Lady Marjorie's death and all throughout the Great War.

Though it is hard to watch both upstairs and downstairs go through the motions of attending Hazel's funeral, I do think that, despite Richard's aberrant behavior, the writer is spot on. The reactions are in direct proportion to how all and sundry viewed Hazel.

Kudos to the magnificent Meg Wynn Owen - she is incandescent in this episode, and the ensuing series is not quite the same without her. Though Meg Wynn Owen is on record, saying that the writers had done all they could with Hazel and that she was not a woman for the 1920s, Series Five, is never quite the same without her.

I am glad that a broken James Bellamy never remarried. I couldn't abide seeing him with another woman, particularly Georgina, who will reject him in the end. Rose, true to form, is the only character who grieves the loss of her mistress. I think Virgina's behavior was entirely proper - had Hazel lived, she would have had a great friend in Virginia. As I have written in a previous review, seldom have I encountered a character as memorable and beloved as Hazel, in any medium. The marriage of a great actress, a beautifully drawn character, superbly directed. Meg Wynn Owen is breathtaking and gave a bravura performance, whenever she appeared on the screen.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
An alternative viewpoint to Series Three., 17 April 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

While it is true that Rachel Gurney, who hated playing Lady Marjorie, and Nicole Paget, Pauline Collins and John Alderton left after the Season Two, there are many who were tiring of Sarah and Watkins and the producers had done all that they could with Elizabeth's character. When producer John Hawkesworth and series' Script Editor, Alfred Shaughnessy, begged Rachel Gurney NOT to leave the series, she was adamant (a decision she would later regret for the rest of her life), producer and writers made certain that Lady Marjorie Bellamy would NEVER return to the series by placing her and her ladies' maid, Maude Roberts (Patsy Smart) on the Titanic. Before Lady Marjorie leaves for America, there is a domestic dispute when James, in his parent's absence, orders luncheon in the dining room with Richard's secretary, Hazel Forrest. Hudson is outraged at James's orders and upon, Lady Marjorie and Richard's return, tenders his resignation. A carfuffel ensues, but all is settle before her Ladyship and Roberts depart for America.

Simon Williams is on record as saying that bringing Meg Wynn Owen, as "Miss Forrest" was a stroke of genius. An absolutely incandescent performance by a hugely gifted actress (Meg Wynn Owen) who realized a beautifully crafted character and was superbly directed, Hazel introduces a middle class character to this third season ~ an entirely sympathetic character, a favorite among viewers because Hazel brought a middle class sensibility with whom viewers could identify. Meg Wynn Owen really managed to save the series.

I can't understand this assertion that Series Three is the weakest of the series (many would say that this is true of Series Five). The script for "Miss Forrest" and for "The Bolter" were nominated for Emmy awards, director Bill Bain WON the Emmy for his direction of the last episode in this third season, "The Sudden Storm," Jean Marsh won her Emmy for Best Actress in a Drama Series and "Upstairs, Downstairs," for the first time won the Emmy for Best Drama Series. Part of the beauty of this third series is its variety and each character is given an episode which focuses on them and allows them to shine: there is the ongoing arc of the relationship between Hazel and James, Rose is featured, prominently, in "Rose's Pigeon" and "A Perfect Stranger" ~ Richard is the prime focus of "Word of Honour," Hudson in "A Change of Scene, the introduction of Georgina Worsley (Leslie Anne Down)and Daisy Peel (Jacqueline Tong), Christopher Beeny's as Edward in "What the Footman Saw" and Mrs. Bridges (Angela Baddely) in "A Sudden Storm" FOR ANY ONE interested in screen acting writing or direction, the magnificent "Distant Thunder" an absolute tour de force, is a MUST.

So there is my rebuttal to claims to a weak Series Three.

Red Dawn (2012)
32 out of 68 people found the following review useful:
The Chaos theory plays out in Spokane., 13 November 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

One of the basic tenets of the chaos theory is that events are deterministic, suggesting that, given initial conditions, events are not susceptible to randomness. However, it is this precise determinism that, paradoxically, does NOT make them predictable at all, but vulnerable to… chaos. This is the key premise to director Dan Bradley's "Red Dawn."

Chris Hemsworth, (Jed Eckert) a US Marine, has recently returned to his native Spokane, after a six year tour of duty in Iraq. His father, Tom Eckert (Brett Cullen) is the city's chief of police. Chris's younger brother, Matt, (Josh Peck) looks up to his older brother, whom he thinks heroic. The brothers, along with Danny (Edwin Hodge), Matt's best friend, Robert (Josh Hutcherson), tech guru extraordinaries and Daryl (Connor Cruise) Robert's best friend and the mayor's son, are a close cadre and live and enjoy a relatively typical and happy existence in their small corner of the city. Matt has a girlfriend, Erica (Isabel Lucas) and then there's the 'no nonsense' Toni (Adrianne Palicki) who has eyes for Chris.

One quiet morning, the city is besieged by air and on land, by a group of North Korean militia and Chris and company finds themselves prisoners under enemy occupation. Chris determined to fight back at all costs, because as he says, the fight is on their home turf and, "When you're fighting for your family, it all hurts a little less and makes a little more sense" takes full command. The group galvanizes and the games begin.

"Red Dawn" is an updated version of 1984 cult classic, which several teen icons of the 1980s. Of course, these were the waning days of Soviet Russia, but what with President Ronald Reagan calling the Soviet Union, an "evil empire," the plot, in its day had great resonance. Dan Bradley, making his directorial debut, has selected material that suits him. His years of experience as stunt coordinator, serve him very well. As action films go, this is a perfectly adequate film, with impressive special effects, and all of the attendant trappings of the genre – tanks, AKA 47's and all manner of weapons, but for the faint of heart, take note. The film contains several protracted scenes that are very violent, some a bit gratuitous and ear plugs might come in handy, as well. The film, in Dolby 88, may have some scurrying for aspirin - the action scenes are exceedingly loud. However, the cast deliver uniformly good performances, and, as is so often the case, there are the usual twists and turns and a few surprises.

The film's fundamental concept would have made for an excellent political thriller. However, Bradley says that, in comparison to its 1984 counterpart, the 2012 version of "Red Dawn," the invasion seemed "an apt metaphor" for the unease Americans feel about the world today and opines that, "Americans just don't feel as secure as they once were." Perhaps, without having heard of it, Americans are, increasingly, subscribing to the afore-mentioned chaos theory.

26 out of 39 people found the following review useful:
Not for the PC police., 22 October 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Price Check" is a very brave film. Its characters are not the most sympathetic and its message may be off putting to many in the audience. However the questions it raises and the inner conflict of its protagonist will resonate with viewers, particularly men, especially in the current zeitgeist.

When we first meet Pete Cozy, (Eric Mabius) he is a happily married family man of modest means. His wife, Sarah (Annie Parisse) is a stay at home mom, and despite mounting debt, has a rather nonchalant attitude towards paying bills. Pete, who had worked in the music industry years before and loved what he did, is now responsible for looking after his family and works in marketing for a moribund supermarket chain in suburban New York City. Enter Susan Felders (Parker Posey) as textbook Type A personality, who is brought in to save the fledgling business.

Susan is a foul mouthed termagant. She lives for her career, she belittles her staff mercilessly, and she is bombastic and thoroughly unpleasant. But she is a slave driver and is on a jihad to bolster sales and get the job done. However, she does take a particular shine to Pete, immediately doubles his salary, she is very impressed to learn that he was graduated from an Ivy League university. She drops by his house to meet his wife and, seemingly, shows her soft side when she meets the Cozy's toddler – an adorable blond boy, Henry (Finn Donoghue) who is very enthused about the upcoming Halloween party at his preschool. Susan asks Sarah if she could attend this event, much to Sarah's surprise. Sarah signs off on it and Susan finds the entire event charming - to the point that she demands that everyone in the office dress up in costume and initiates the staff's first Halloween party.

Despite all of her treacle, in true Machiavellian fashion, Susan enlists Pete as her confidante. She asks his opinion on who should be made redundant and confers many important projects upon him. Pete is very conflicted in this role - he is very flattered and his salary is sweet, but, increasingly and, perhaps, inevitably, he is spending less time with his wife, who is very keen to have another child and his co- workers feel betrayed by him. It's all very Faustian, but Pete goes along with it, despite his misgivings.

Susan and Pete travel to Los Angeles to make a presentation at a very key board meeting. In a scene reminiscent of Norma Desmond and Joe in "Sunset Boulevard," Susan buys Pete a very expensive suit and a $300 haircut. Nicely groomed and preened, Mr. Bennington, chairman of the board (Edward Hermann) is very impressed with this young man. Bennington asks Pete if he would consider pulling up stakes and moving to Los Angeles for an executive position. Susan, who feels entitled to this job, is wary, but that night, back at their hotel, Susan is drunk and pleads with Pete to make love to her. She says she wants to get pregnant and wants his seed. Pete, eventually, relents and the affair continues upon their return to New York. Sarah discovers what's happened, but doesn't confront her husband.

Pete promises Bennington that his New York staff can get an important project done in six weeks, Susan is at her histrionic worst, it's Christmas and there's very little joy in the office. Susan, now convinced that Bennington will hire Pete, does a background check on him and discovers a secret from his past, fires him on the spot, ice water coursing through her veins. Shocked, Pete views this as an opportunity to follow his passion and return to the music business, but he burned his contacts and is at a complete loss, with Sarah, now pregnant, harangues him. As if by magic, an executive head hunter calls and offers Pete a great job with a fabulous salary and the family move to California, his wife, with new born baby and toddler, in tow, very happy, indeed. Pete is clearly unhappy despite his good fortune.

The film is beautifully directed and written by Michael Walker ("Chasing Sleep" ) The cast are uniformly excellent. Eric Mabius's does an excellent job of conveying Pete's inner turmoil, trying to reconcile his family life, which is very important to him and the increasingly important role, thrust upon him, in the corporate world. Parker Posey is very good as Susan, the ultimate shrew – but her character is a bit one dimensional. She is the quintessential Dragon Lady, but the why and the wherefore of her character are never exposed and mores' the pity. Annie Parisse does a fine job, with what little she has and kudos to the supporting cast – especially to Edward Hermann as Bennington, in an honest, subtle and a very fine performance, Remy Auberjonois as Todd Kenner and special kudos to Josh Pais as Doug, numbers crunchers extraordinaries, who is luminous in a beautifully executed scene, when discussing his sex life with Pete.

The issue of careerism is nothing new in modern fiction and film, but it is usually the woman who is the victim. Walker is a very brave director and writer, for here, Pete is the victim. The women in this film get EVERYTHING they want and neither Susan nor Sarah come off well here. Pete, does what responsible men do – he provides for his family, at the expense of his own happiness and passion. Feminists might despise "Price Check," but the message that the MAN in the family is, invariably, the breadwinner and all expectations and responsibilities fall to him is something we've not seen in films in recent years. Equal pay for women, when it is the man who brings home the bacon? Walker says, "The Emperor Has No Clothes."

8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
What a gem!, 12 February 2004

I remember seeing this movie years ago and I wonder why it has never played on any of the cable stations. It is deeply moving and the acting is excellent. Polly Holliday is incandescent as the spinster aunt and she managed to do something that is virtually impossible. She moved me to tears. A wonderful, warm gem of a film. How I miss Lee Remick! She died too young and we have been deprived of her ample acting talent and wonderful presence. I do hope that one of the cable networks airs this movie one of these holiday seasons. It is one of the very best TV films made, hands down, IMO!

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
I was thinking of this film the other day!, 31 October 2003

I, too, remember this film from my childhood and was always deeply moved by it. I couldn't remember the name of it for love or money. All one needs to do at the IMDb is post a query and you will get an response.

I remember the CBS Children's Film Festival. I haven't thought about it for years.

And I would like to add something regarding WHO killed Christ. As a Christian, it is my understanding that Jesus was born to DIE for our sins. It is silly and wrong headed to blame the Jews or the Romans. It is not only anti-Semitic, it is anti-Christian.

Does anyone know if I could obtain a copy of the film? You can e-mail me @ Thanks to all!

10 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
Winded, but the last half hour is a MUST, 27 October 2003

This movie is long, talky and winded, but there are some wonderful performances. And, the last scene with Bette Davis (can't say more for fear of divulging too much) is a marvel. Deeply moving and Davis is luminous. All of the talk, talk, talk is worth the look on Davis' face at the end of the film. Enjoy it, warts and all.

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
A superb film!, 5 April 2003

This is an excellent film, beautifully acted and directed. Lancaster earned every inch of his Oscar, as did Shirley Jones, who played a prostitute with a conscience. I ALWAYS think that this is Jean Simmons best performance and that she was not only robbed of an Oscar nomination, but indeed, the Oscar itself. Simmons brings to Sister Sharon a multi-layered, complex character, a woman torn by her "worldly" desires and goals and her deep and abiding faith. We see, in the end and without divulging too much, that she is indeed, a very holy and devout woman and a true believer. She is luminous. It is a stunning performance. Interesting to note that director Richard Brooks married Jean Simmons, shortly after the film was completed. So, she was in very capable and knowing hands.

This is a very good film and a meditation on the unique and singular form of Christianity and its many permutations in these United States in the decadent 1920's.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Reruns are back!, 6 February 2003

Nick at Nite has started the series from the beginning... set your VCR to tape at 3:30 AM Eastern. Enjoy. It does bring me back to the great 80's! The series holds up very well. Wonder what has become of Mark Linn Baker and Bronson Pinchot. The series, as I said, is very 80's. It brings back great memories. So, a heads up to you! Enjoy!

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