Reviews

24 ReviewsOrdered By: Date
5/10
If I didn't know better, I'd have thought this was a satire on Southern Gothic
19 November 2015
This movie hits all the Southern Gothic marks and then some.

Elizabeth Taylor playing a shrill (strike that, she always played shrill) unfaithful wife, and daughter of an Army officer she's always referring to, is in 'Well, Daddy said..." Gotta have a Daddy- obsessed cheater. Bonus points: This is her one and only late career role where she's not playing the craziest person in the room. So there's that.

Marlon Brando. He always brought at least a soupçon of crazy to the table, so he's well-placed here. Unfortunately, you can barely understand what he's saying most of the time, so you have to go on the occasional flicker in his wooden expression. This has been interpreted by critics as homosexual desire. (is the naked guy on the horse he keeps seeing real? If he's real, is he really naked? Is he really riding a horse?) Bonus points: he fills out that uniform very well.

Julie Harris: according to the script, she's the craziest in the bunch, having chopped off her nipples with garden shears when her baby died. (Only in the South...) But her character seems WAY more sane than...

Zorro David as Anacleto, her cray cray Filipino houseboy. He makes Rip Taylor look like... well, I can't come up with anyone. But compared to Anacleto, Rip Taylor is normal and serious. Speaking of which,

Brian Keith, who seems to have wandered in from another movie entirely. Something with a good script, directed by Fred Zinnemann or someone similar. He plays Julie Harris's husband, Liz's adulterous honey.

The tally: three crazy people, one of whom with a semi-disturbing back story (33 hours in labor, with her houseboy playing doula. Only in the South.) One adulterous affair. One Daddy's girl. One naked guy riding a horse. One of the crazy people beating a horse. (Feel free to turn away, or go to the fridge for a soda during that scene. I wish I had.) Two deaths, on on-screen. One of those was not the horse, otherwise, I'd give this movie an even lower rating.
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2/10
stagey,NOISY, and tedious
1 February 2015
My husband and I sat through this last night on TCM. We should have been warned by the lead-in, where Robert Osborne issued a list all the positive words in his vocabulary, and Drew Barrymore mewled for five minutes over how much she missed, or loved, or whatever her grandfather, John Barrymore. Neither one said anything very specific about the movie. Just that it was a great great treasure, yada, yada, yada.

Rather than a great anything, it's one of those grossly-overrated 'comedies' written by two guys the cultural gatekeepers worship: Charles McArthur and Ben Hecht.

Their idea of comedy was to keep people running around, yelling as loud as their lungs will permit.

Maybe people found that hilarious in 1934.

The plot has John Barrymore as an impossible theatre producer (gee, that's something new) and Carole Lombard as a clueless would-be actress, who flourishes under his tutelage, even to the point of dumping him and becoming a star in Hollywood.

Then she hates him, and he needs money, they both accidentally show up on the same train, and amazingly, no one else on the train complains about the endless screaming of Lombard, Barrymore, and the pool of supporting players.

The only redeeming thing about this movie is that it shows John Barrymore really was a good actor, and not one of those talent-free critics' darlings so many of his contemporaries were.

What he could have done with a far FAR better script is a tragic missed opportunity.
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Fitzwilly (1967)
4/10
Huh?
12 December 2014
I love tame little 1960s movies, but this was just a mess.

The plot, simple as it is,i.e. rich lady's staff stays on even though rich lady is bankrupt, doesn't make sense until about 30 minutes in, and barely even then. (I'm still puzzled about the thrift store in Philadelphia angle.) Dick Van Dyke's character and Barbara Feldon's character initially don't like one another, but by their third meeting -- their THIRD meeting -- they're suddenly in love and getting married. And the ending... If someday TCM has a program called 'Film History's Most Implausible Endings' Fitzwilly will definitely get a nod.

The only upside here is that performances are pretty good, plus you get to see a very young Sam Waterston.

I'm guessing this was rushed into the theaters because in 1967 anything with Dick Van Dyke in it couldn't help but be a hit.
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Shampoo (1975)
2/10
grossly overrated and with ZERO plot - not quite spoiler
14 September 2014
I remember back in the day this being a monster hit. It was on TV recently, and I decided not to miss it, having never seen it.

Ay yi yi, what a disappointment.

Here's the 'plot.'

Over the course of maybe two days, hairdresser juggling three girlfriends (including one who's married) loses all three.

The end.

You'd think a premise like that would be rich with plot possibilities, but Towne and Beatty apparently thought that people with good bodies in nice clothes -- with the occasional flash of nudity -- would be plot enough.
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Market Warriors (2012– )
2/10
Who in their right mind thought this was a good idea???
9 July 2013
A bunch of dealers go to flea markets, etc. looking for things to make a killing on. OK, I get that.

But then they put their finds on a plane and take it to an auction house hundreds of miles away, thereby eating up most of the profit. If any.

I work as an antiques dealer, and many of the "finds" on this show are stuff I see all the time. The vintage fan the one guy found? They're everywhere, and don't usually command more than $20. You'd be lucky to get $50 retail.

The only good thing I can say about Market Warriors is that they got rid of the unbelievably annoying and unfunny Fred Willard.
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7/10
this is actually two movies
22 September 2007
... the first being a rather original piece of Southern Gothic - oppressed wife and mother of seven children poisons and decapitates husband in order to free herself to become a star in Hollywood, and the second a by-the-numbers Civil Rights tract. The first movie is completely daffy and charming, and the second is... just there. Although the Civil Rights angle is fairly well-acted, it's everything you've seen in at least 20 other movies -- it's like the Lucille story is the candy and this part is the medicine. As Lucille, Melanie Griffith is sooo adorable (which is quite a surprise for anyone who finds her babydoll voice more irritating than nails on a blackboard) and as for the others who appear here, it's just pleasure upon pleasure: the seldom-seen, ever-brittle Cathy Moriarity as Lucille's sister-in-law, Fannie Flagg as a sympathetic and much-married diner waitress, Robert Wagner as Lucille's Hollywood agent, Rod Steiger as the judge at Lucille's murder trial, and on and on. If the filmmakers had just stuck to making the Lucille story, this might have been a classic.
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10/10
AWESOME & did see the light of day again before late '80s!
24 September 2006
Every time you read something about this film, you're told that it was shelved immediately after JFK's assassination, and was not seen again until a late 1980's (or was it the early '90s?) re-release. That simply is not true. I vividly remember around age 8 -- i.e. circa 1970 or so -- seeing the film on TV, or at least some of it. After Bobby Lembeck was shot, I pleaded with my mother to change the channel, and so she did and we watched something less scary to an 8-year old, like Petticoat Junction or whatever. I never forgot that scene, although I did not remember the name of the movie. Fast forward about 20 years, my boyfriend and I had gone to see the movie in downtown Phila., and THERE WAS THAT SCENE AGAIN. I couldn't believe it.

In my opinion, this is one of the 100 or so best films ever made. John Frankenheimer was one of the two or three best directors working in the 1960's. They could not have chosen a better Raymond than Laurence Harvey -- if you read the original novel, you could well assume that the character is based on Laurence Harvey, who was known to be rather cold and condescending in real life. Sinatra does his best work here, Angela Lansbury is freaking brilliant, and Laurence Harvey is really should have received some sort of acting nomination -- while the character is cold-hearted prick on the surface, he also shows you flashes of the pain, and later horror, beneath. The camera work is awesome -- so many images here that will imprint on your brain forever. The script pulls no punches (L. B. Mayer, who venerated the American mother, must have been spinning in his grave) and is far more sophisticated than is common in American films of any era. This is one of those very rare movies that do not appear dated in any way, although it might have somewhat if shot in color. In the current political climate, it is VERY timely, and worth a look on that basis.

The Manchurian Candidate is definitely disturbing -- intentionally so, but if you want to see something intelligent and provocative, and you've already seen American Beauty five times, you should really check this out. And if you're REALLY into disturbing, intelligent and provocative, have a look at the Frankenheimer film released four years after this one, Seconds.
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9/10
routine Western w/ one AWESOME performance
27 August 2006
First, let me say that I am not really a fan of Westerns, but if I've seen this once, I've seen it 20 times, since discovering it maybe fifteen years ago while channel-surfing. The plot -- to me at least --isn't all that interesting. It's standard good guys vs. bad guys out west. The main reason to see this is to see Kirk Douglas as Doc Holiday. Only very rarely in the days of the studio system do you see such a layered performance. This is a guy whose life has become a huge disappointment -- back east he had a family that was proud of him, and a career as a dentist. Now he's slowly dying of TB, exiled to what is essentially the middle of nowhere, supporting himself and his blowsy woman as a gambler, and developing a reputation as a gunslinger. The average Hollywood star circa 1957 would have dutifully hit all the notes that the script indicates, but Douglas goes way, WAY beyond. Doc's rage is palpable, and his veneer of cynicism is what enables him to keep a lid on it. Nevertheless, the stress shows. Doc is not only complex, but EXTREMELY sexy.

The only problem with the film is that Burt Lancaster is the most wooden actor this side of Gary Cooper, and watching him play against the volcano that is Kirk Douglas is almost painful. The film almost always flags when Douglas is not on the screen.

The supporting players are all well-cast, particularly Jo Van Fleet as Doc's lover/punching bag. Here again is somebody who hits the notes and then some.
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8/10
Fascinating
5 August 2006
I can't say I'm Judy Garland fan, but I've always been fascinated by her story. While this film doesn't exactly do the story justice -- how could it in 2-1/2 hours? -- it does offer two performances that you'd almost SWEAR were by Judy herself.

Lots here that's familiar (drugs, drugs, and more drugs) and very little that's not, but it's all done in such a way that if you'd never heard of Judy, you'd have an excellent idea of what she was about just from watching this.

I have to agree with the many people who said that Judy Davis took over the role way too early in the film -- it's pretty unsettling to see young, dewy Judy morph into nervous neurotic Judy so quickly. My only other complaint is that while Hugh Laurie gave a fine performance as Vincente Minelli, he looks NOTHING like him. Odd that they strained so hard to get the actresses playing Judy to look like and move like Judy, but didn't extend the same care to the rest of the cast, or at least with those we're familiar with, i.e. while most of us probably couldn't pick Roger Edens out of a lineup, I think most film fans know what Vincente Minelli looked like.

Judy's story is meaty enough that the network should have made a much longer film -- maybe more of a four- or five-episode miniseries. I'm sure it would have paid off in a big way, and we could have seen fully developed scenes of events which are just hinted at in this film.
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10/10
most romantic horror movie EVER
23 May 2006
This is far and away my very favorite horror movie -- not only is it truly scary, it is extremely well-acted, has a very intelligent script, great direction, super photography. What's most unusual about it is the relationship among the Professor Taylor (the devastatingly yummy Peter Wyngarde)and his wife Tansy (Janet Blair) -- these two have amazing chemistry and along with the horror, you get a very realistic story of a married couple very much in love, who struggle with the wife's admission of being a witch.

Much of the horror here is simply implied, making it that much scarier, but what is shown is truly chilling. If you've never seen a believable performance in a horror movie, check out Wyngarde in this --his final scene should be shown in every drama school -- his fear is that palpable.
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9/10
two words: Vincent Price
13 May 2006
Why this movie is not considered up there with the great comedies of the 1950's is beyond me - I mean, Some Like It Hot is funny for two viewings, tops. There are scenes in this movie that never ever fail to make me laugh, and I've seen the film six or seven times by now. All of these are scenes with Vincent Price, who gives what is probably among the top five comedic performances in the history of American film here -- at least if you consider those by non-comedians. It's no surprise that Price could go over the top, as he did in all those Roger Corman horror movies, but here, it's expressly for comic effect (rather than camp effect -- not the same thing). He was at a transitional point in his career: he was through playing hunky-but-wimpy second male leads and tormented romantic heroes, and was soon to embark on his second career as Mr. Drive-In Horror Movie Star. So this is really his only true comedy performance, and he is brilliant as corporate nutjob Burnbridge Waters.

Everybody else here is great*: Ronald Colman is simply perfect as Beauregard Bottomley, an unemployable with a genius range IQ. (I am of the opinion that Alex Trebek wanted to grow up to be Ronald Colman -- not necessarily as this character, just in general). Celeste Holm is great as always as temptress Flame O'Neill, hired by Waters to rattle Colman's character to the point where he starts losing on the quiz show. She's very much in the tradition of Carole Lombard: beautiful and a super actress in anything, very adept at comedy and always intensely likable. Barbara Britton as Bottomley's sister Gwenn is another charmer, cute as a bug's ear.

*Then there's Art Linkletter: OK, he's great as the quiz show host -- he did that for a living in real life. But there's something kinda creepy about him, plus he's no matinée idol, and I always feel a little skeeved at his scenes romancing Barbara Britton. It's taken as gospel that no unattached lead character remain unattached at the end of a movie, but couldn't they have paired her off with one of Waters' employees, a cab driver, ANYBODY? OR could they have hired some second-tier pretty boy to play Linkletter's role? This is my only quibble with the film, and it's why I rate it a 9 rather than a 10.
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My Name Is Earl (2005–2009)
Finally, an original sitcom
17 March 2006
I have been waiting lo these many years since "Get a Life" was canceled for another original sitcom to watch. Just as I despaired that all there was ever gonna be from now until the end of the world were fat husband/hot wife family shows and cookie-cutter workplace shows, some genius came up with "My Name Is Earl."

What amazes me most about this show is that while it is pretty outrageous and somewhat politically incorrect, it also manages to be sweet, without coming anywhere near to hitting you over the head. I can't think of another show, sitcom or not, that has such a deft touch.

The casting is brilliant -- everyone is exactly the right person for the role. My favorite is the well-meaning, pitifully dopey Randy, who has at least three side-splitting lines per show.
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Winter of the Witch (1969 TV Short)
5/10
a grade school classic
1 March 2006
I had to laugh at the other comments that mention seeing this film in school -- Disston School in Philadelphia used to show it too, when they weren't running The Red Balloon (which I must have seen 10 times) or Paddle to the Sea (maybe 12 times, but better than The Red Balloon, for sure). All I remember from it was a witch and pancakes -- the acoustics in our auditorium weren't the greatest. They also would run Alan Arkin's film "People Soup," which was worlds more entertaining than any of the above. They also showed us "Brian's Song" once, but we girls cried so hard I don't think they wanted to risk it again.

You have to hand it to the filmmakers, though -- they must have done something right to make us remember it -- even if it was just the witch/pancake angle.
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Houseboat (1958)
2/10
for Sophia Loren fans only
1 March 2006
Ordinarily, I kind of enjoy these tame old Sixties comedies, but watching Cary Grant in a role written for a B- or C-lister is always painful. As a romantic male lead, there's never been anybody better, but comic dad parts are best left to the Paul Dooleys of the world.

The kids are remarkably charm-free, the novelty of the houseboat is tiresome, and the plot is entirely predictable.

However, if Sophia Loren is your cup of tea, then by all means feast your eyes. She's at her luscious prime here. A better idea for all concerned might have been to dispense with the family angle, and have it be a romantic drama with Grant and Harry Guardino -- who does a lot with a little here -- vying for her charms.
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Lotsa Luck (1973–1974)
One of the best of the '73 season
17 February 2006
I was just a kid at the time, but I remember this show as being hilarious. The cast was SUPER, and you simply can't do better than Kathleen Freeman if a script needs a loud, frumpy pain-in-the-A. I once remember reading a description of her as being someone particularly adept at opening doors rudely. The show revolved around her and her ever-bathrobed husband versus Dom DeLuise as the bus company lost-&-found department employee who supports them.

Dom DeLuise has never been better - he's sadly underused, considering there's a lot more to him than being a professional cuddly Italian.

What probably killed this show was that everybody was trying to get their noisy urban sitcom on the air ("The Montefuscos" anyone?) in the wake of All in the Family, and this -- DEFINITELY one of the best -- somehow got lost in the shuffle. Sad. It was just as funny as All the the Family, but without the occasional tastelessness and Norman Lear's annoying politics.
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Oliver Beene (2003–2004)
Too high-quality for Fox
5 February 2006
"Oliver Beene" was one of the very, VERY rare family sitcoms that was actually funny, and often hilarious. Well-acted, well-written, and almost entirely anachronism-free. Plus, Andrew Lawrence had to be the cutest thing to appear on TV since George Clooney.

Although Fox's animated programming is mainly daring, high-quality product, they don't support live action sitcoms the same way -- if they did, "Oliver Beene" and "Get a Life" would have run a lot longer.

Rupert Murdoch must have handed down a memo to the effect that Fox's non-cartoon comedies must be all-junk-all-the-time, in order to reach that huge demographic comprised of those who find tired sex jokes ("The War at Home," et. al) and/or people incessantly screaming at one another ("Malcolm in the Middle") to be hilarious.
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The Aviator (2004)
6/10
Why Leonardo DiCaprio?
22 January 2006
This is one of those rare films where, if you can ignore the main character, you'll enjoy it a whole lot. Not for one minute did I buy Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes -- I'm guessing the only reason he was cast was his ability to sell lots and lots of tickets to that other big-budget movie he was in. If he weren't a big name, you'd assume the casting people scoured the nation's high school drama clubs, found the prettiest boy, and dressed and made him up to resemble a mature man. DiCaprio IS a competent actor, just 100% wrong for this movie. I also took issue with the pitifully inane reason they came up with to explain all Hughes's mental health problems. Rather than take time to fully explore this in the script, in their haste to get those tickets sold, there is a scene early in the film, with Hughes at age 6 or so, which we're supposed to believe explains EVERYTHING. Not the only biopic to take the easy road -- screenwriters were doing this as far back as Words and Music, wherein we're expected to believe that Lorenz Hart drank himself to death because he couldn't deal with being so short. If you can get past the Hughes portrayal, there's a lot here to enjoy: Cate Blanchett as the insufferable Katherine Hepburn; Alec Baldwin and Alan Alda in the Bad Guy slots; exceptionally fine supporting performances; and some neat special effects. If they had only cast an actor who could convincingly portray a grown man -- not a stretch by any means -- I would probably have given this a 9.
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good clean fun
19 March 2004
I saw this movie when it was first released, then again on television sometime in the Eighties. Why this film is largely forgotten is beyond me. For that matter, why are some of the most entertaining films of the Seventies collecting dust, while the critics continue to insist that we bow and scrape to pretentious self-absorbed WoodyBogdanovichMazurskyAltman? Anyhoo, this film is funny -- maybe not side-splitting, but certainly a lot more entertaining than many films calling themselves comedies. It's atmospheric, with that yellow/sepia look Coppola first introduced in Godfather II. It's well-acted: James Caan is a great comic actor -- let's face it, a great actor, period. Michael Caine is especially good as the kid glove villain. Almost nothing here to offend anybody, (but kids under age 10 might have trouble following it). And after all these years, I still remember the "owls who" joke.
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If you've wondered why people loved Carole Lombard so much,
6 July 2003
...then you ought to rent this movie. She is just adorable, and charming beyond belief, as avowed gold-digger Regi Allen. All the supporting players here are wonderful. However, male lead Fred MacMurray comes off -- at least to me -- as a very cold fish. His endless "humorous" comments have an angry undercurrent, and the script, while admitting the guy is very shallow (shallow, angry -- sounds like a keeper), also insists he's this wacky dreamboat.

When you get down to it, all he has to offer Regi over the love-struck, crippled Allen Macklyn (Ralph Bellamy, playing what I think is the first of his many second male leads dumped by the leading lady for the first male lead) is that he can walk.
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The Night Stalker (1972 TV Movie)
10/10
WOW!
4 June 2003
This movie premiered on TV when I was in fourth grade -- the commercials advertising it had been going on for weeks, and the night it aired, I think every kid in my school planned to watch it. The only TV that worked in my house at the time (and we only had two) was in my parents' bedroom. So my parents, my younger brother and I all parked on the rug in there, with the lights out, to watch what we had been looking forward to for weeks. This was long before cable and VCRs, so it's hard to understand today what a HUGE event this was. And, unlike a lot of highly touted TV flicks, The Nightstalker did not disappoint. IT WAS SCARY!! And funny, when it wasn't being scary. And overall, just enormously entertaining. Darren McGavin, who is in my top ten list of most under-rated actors, is just so much fun to watch. When it was over, all four of us went downstairs at the same time, practically on top of one another, we were so scared stiff. My older brother, who had a night job at a label factory had watched the movie there, and before leaving to take the trolley home, put a two-by-four in his back pocket, just in case.

I saw the movie again several years ago, and it was just as good as it was way back in 1972. Unlike today's horror movies, which are usually just gross or violent, this one is truly scary, and manages it with a minimum of gore and violence.
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1/10
one of the worst movies I've ever seen
11 May 2003
I saw this when it first came out, thinking it would be really funny, or at least entertaining. WRONG. It's one of the two or three most boring movies I've ever seen, it's tasteless, and just generally inept. Every time the action slows to a crawl -- which is about once every ten minutes -- there is a food fight, or something similarly juvenile, like somebody's clothes flying off. This was AGONY to sit through.
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8/10
if this were released today, it would be a huge hit
21 February 2003
... and maybe pick up an award or two. This movie is very well-done on every level, and LOT of fun to watch. Stallone's characterization of a lazy goofball who wants everybody else to bust their butts to make his dreams come true for him is just brilliant, possibly his very best performance. Actually, there's not a single bad performance in this whole movie and that's saying a lot, considering that some of the major roles were filled by guys who were professional boxers or wrestlers. In addition, the sets/costumes/lighting give a very good sense of place and time -- only the hairdos on the female leads tip you off that this was made in the late '70s.
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Sexy Beast (2000)
Kingsley is buh-rilliant!
31 December 2002
Although I sat down to watch this movie expecting more of a plot, the beauty of it is that the plot is quite simple. This film is more of a character study, and as such, is very, VERY well-done, although I admit I would have liked a little more exposition here and there.

Kingsley is UNBELIEVABLE, and as others have commented, it's great to see him playing something so down and dirty. What I've noticed in the British gangster films I've seen -- The Limey, The Long Good Friday, etc. -- is that even the most Neanderthal crook is worlds more eloquent (in an extremely foul-mouthed way) than his American equivalent. I also liked Ian McShane's performance, as I am used to seeing him as the charming Lovejoy. His Teddy Bass is very scary -- and you only see it in his eyes. Ray Winstone gives a wonderful, very real performance.

I could go on and on about what is good in this film. That said, I would recommend that anybody who is overly sensitive pass it by -- the creepy rabbity thing that turns up two or three times is enough to create years of nightmares.
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agony to sit through
17 November 2002
There are three major things wrong with this movie: Joan Crawford, playing a role that should have gone to Carole Lombard; and the script, which they must have been writing as they were shooting, and the direction -- you can almost pinpoint the moments when the director must have been screaming "More energy, I want more energy up there!" Joan and Brian Aherne meet cute at an archaelogical dig in Greece, then fall in love (Joan has to lie about her wealthy background), part, Brian travels from Greece to marry her, and then they go back and forth and back and forth -- we love each other, we don't love each other, we're getting married, we're not getting married. It must have been hard on the screenwriters to keep having to come up with endless boring and unplausible reasons for keeping them apart. Obviously, I didn't enjoy this, but I must say you haven't lived until you've watched the scene here where Joan verbally attacks her wedding gown -- honest, like two pages of dialogue -- before ripping it to shreds.
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