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14 out of 21 people found the following review useful:
Masterclass in Movie-making, 23 December 2005

The first time I am aware of seeing IAWL I managed to catch the last 5 Min's of the movie. It seemed to feature a character running around shouting 'Merry Christmas' at everybody, followed by a party where everyone handed over money To be frank, I wasn't in a hurry to see the rest of the movie.

Then several years later, I started to watch IAWL from the beginning, unaware that it was the same movie. I was struck by how comprehensive the character study of George Bailey was. He was a good man, but his ambitions were frustrated at every turn. He wanted an Education, that was just outside his grasp. He wanted to travel, life conspired against him. At every step of the way, one person saw George 'rolling with the blows', that was Mary Hatch. This woman loved George and wanted to stand at his side, so they can face the slings and arrows of misfortune together. This is love of the purest kind.

But even Mary's love cannot prevent George contemplating suicide. A single bad day that sees George on the top of the World at the beginning and thinking that taking his own life is the only way out by 10.45 pm.

I was stunned when the ending turned into the movie I had seen some time before. But this time I understood, this wasn't just sentiment for it's own sake. To understand the ending you need to have gone on the same dark journey that George Bailey had been on.

Many others have commented on the feel good aspects of the movie, so I won't. What I would like to say is that there are a number of scenes which live in the memory long after the end credits.

Young George trying to persuade Mr Gower that he had prescribed poison (with young Mary Hatch Looking on).

George hurrying home when he heard his father had had a stroke (with Mary Hatch looking on).

George waiting at the station with Uncle Billy for Harry to come back from college (only to find Harry is already married and has a job that will keep him away from Bedford Falls).

That kiss (I have to check that I am earthed, there is so much electricity in the air).

Mary giving up their honeymoon money, to keep the Building and Loan out of Potters grasp.

The Bridal Suit (with Ernie & Bert).

Trying to talk to Mary in the alternate reality, but managing frighten her.

The Ending.

I don't think I have seen a better character study, or for that matter a better movie.

Oliver! (1968)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Oliver Reed at the top of his game., 9 October 2005

I saw this recently on a cable channel. The movie is great; it's one of the few musicals I have seen that doesn't shy away from the light and dark. It portrays some of the splendour of the age along with a lot of the squalor. Some of the set piece dance sequences so much is going on, I didn't know where to look next. One day I shall go and see this on the big screen, just so that I see what's happening. But what really lifts this to another level is Oliver Reed's performance as Bill Sykes. Not only is a thoroughly mean and menacing man but there is something else, some inner demons. He gave me the impression that if you pushed him into a corner, he was capable of anything. It was almost as if the Sykes character was on the edge of madness, just awaiting the trigger. I have seen the Robert Newton's Bill Sykes from the 1948 movie, and I thought he was 'just' a bad egg, but Oliver Reed's performance intimidated me in my own living room.

11 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
Awe Inspiring, 7 December 2003

Another winner for the BBC. Writing excellent, production values high, good special effects. Thing that I got from the series was what these Engineers had in bucket loads was ambition. Not necessarily for there own fame and fortune (though if that came then so be it), but for the project. To build a sewage system for London, build the Panama Canal or build a Railway across America needed that ambition and drive. Every episode left me feeling humble; we have technology, which these engineers could have scarcely imagined. But somewhere along the line we have lost that ambition. To see what could be achieved with primitive technology, human toil, imagination and ambition makes me wonder what could be achieved today if we put our mind to it.

I would recommend this to anybody has a passing interest or uses technology. Watch this and you will feel humble.

11 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
Chills running up and down my spine., 5 December 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

SPOILER Brilliant movie, spoilt me from ever being able to enjoy the 'James Bond' films (flashy nonsense). I have seen it a number of times, and each time I see some subtle aspect I had missed before.

But the thing that really sends shivers up and down my spine is Lemas's interview with Control. When I first saw this scene my first reaction was 'Control has lost the plot', talking small talk about good and evil whilst Lemas life is crashing and burning. But when the plot unfolded I realised that what he said was very profound. The only way this can work is if we sacrifice the innocent (Nan Perry). Her death was not an unfortunate accident, it was pivotal in the whole plot.

No wonder Lemas preferred having something to die for rather than having nothing to live for.

Having seen this movie I have now read the whole Smiley series, and if this review intrigues you, I suggest you do the same.