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Dead Poets Society (1989)
It could have been a good film, but it was almost as if Writer #1 wrote up to the play within the play, and then Writer #2 (who only knew how to write clichés and knew nothing about characters or plot development) took over. Why it got any Oscar nominations is beyond me (but then a lot about the Oscar process is beyond me) much less an award for best screenplay????? What, was 1989 a really bad year? The story takes such a wrong turn at the end that the leading character (Keeting) and one huge story line (Knox's romance) just vanish and stock B movie plot and characters are pulled off the shelf and plugged in. I don't get the raves some people give it. The world is full of better films.
The Murder of Mary Phagan (1988)
This TV miniseries would put most feature films to shame. First rate story, historically based, first rate cast all at the top of their game, all seemed to know that this was an important story to tell. The late Jack Lemmon, the late Richard Jordan, Peter Gallagher, Charles Dutton and Robert Prosky were spot on, and I thought Rebecca Miller as Lucille Frank was marvelous. Even the more minor characters (which included a young William H. Macy as "W.H.Macy") were letter perfect. The only thing that keeps me from giving the film a 10 is that it needed to be tightened up in the last hour or so, but if you edited it a bit and otherwise released it as a feature right now, Oscars would be handed out. It's that compelling and that well executed.
Old Boyfriends (1979)
I'd like to take Richard Jordan home to mother
Talia Shire's marriage goes belly up and she decides to find old boyfriends to see who she was then, so she can find out who she is now. First up is old college beau Richard Jordan who asked her to marry him 3 times, but she turned him down. Don't know why, he sure is adorable, but she runs out on him again and moves on to high school beau John Belushi who shamed her, then quickly on to find a grammar school beau but that doesn't work out either. Meanwhile, Richard Jordan is looking everywhere for her because he and his daughter (Jordan's real life daughter) want her back. Heaven knows why, but he just doesn't give up easily. Talia Shire's character is not very sympathetic for the lead heroine, but Jordan's is and makes up for it. The scenes between them are sweet.
Captains and the Kings (1976)
Coming out on DVD in January
Finally! Powerful and spectacular miniseries. Marvelous actors, led by the always brilliant Richard Jordan (may he rest in peace) who makes us adore Joseph Armagh before he takes him to a ruthless, power-hungry SOB we still somehow care about. Bit by bit he destroys his life while he thinks he's building it. Harvey Jason is terrific as the only friend who always believes in him. Other supporting actors are the likes of Henry Fonda (brief but absolutely mesmerizing), Vic Morrow, Ray Bolger, Patty Duke Astin, Jane Seymour and a score of others at the top of their craft. Our terrible loss is that so many of them are gone now, but boy, what they left behind. Having so many of them in one work is a genuine treat.