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|6 reviews in total|
I watched "Winds of War" and "War and Remembrance" when they were first aired in 1983 and 1988 respectively. With five years in between I had no problem adjusting to the appearance of new actors in "War and Remembrance." Having just watched both again with no break between the two I am very conscious of the substitution of new actors. First, Sir John Gielgud was superb as Aaron Jastrow. He brought a warmth and humanity to the role that was lacking in John Houseman's cold personality. But why, oh why was Ali McGraw dropped in favor of Jane Seymour? Ali was marvelous as Natalie. Depending on what the script called for every emotion flitted across her face - determination, fear, love, stubbornness, flirtatiousness, humor. In contrast Jane Seymour most of the time had a blank expression on her face She has a nice smile but you rarely see it. Even at moments of high drama like her reunion with her husband and with her child she was largely expressionless. And why was the excellent Jan-Michael Vincent dropped for Hart Bochner? Bochner is a good looking young actor indistinguishable from many others. In scenes where he was in a room with other officers I had trouble picking him out. But in spite of these criticisms the "Winds of War" and "War and Remembrance" are magnificent epics which keep viewers enthralled, particularly people like me who lived through World War II.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I was 15 years old when I first read the book "Lost Horizon." At that age one is just emerging from the cocoon of the family in which one spends one's childhood and moving out into the big wide world beyond. I did not like what I saw - the Great Depression, countries trying to recover from the Great War and yet preparing for a new one. I was electrified by the theme of "Lost Horizon" - " haven't you ever dreamed of a place where there was peace and security, where living was not a last struggle but a lasting delight?" Four years later the movie came out and, although it made some changes in the book, it still presents the message effectively. Frank Capra's direction is masterful and the acting is excellent except for a few cases of over-acting by John Howard and Isabel Jewell. I preferred the ending of the film where Conway finally succeeds in returning to Shangri La to the ambiguous ending of the book. Ronald Colman is perfect as Conway and his sessions with the High Lama are transfixing. I'm 93 now and just watched the movie again. I realized that the dream of Shangri La has always been with me and, as Lord Gainsford says in the final scene of the movie, "I believe in it because I want to believe in it." By the way, if you like the book and the 1937 movie, stay away from the monstrous 1971 remake in which "Lost Horizon" was turned into a musical. I walked out on this. Why can't Hollywood leave the classics alone?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
An abomination. Whoever came up with the crazy idea of trying to make what is basically a conventional cops-and-robbers shoot 'em up blow'em up show special by linking it to one of the classiest shows ever produced should have his membership card in the scriptwriters union revoked. Did they think the nostalgia factor would attract new viewers? Why call the two leads Steve McGarrett and Danny Williams when their age, appearance, mannerisms, behavior, and above all their relationship bear no resemblance whatsoever to Jack Lord and James MacArthur? Why change the sex of Kono? Why include an abbreviated version of the original theme music? Hawaii is an exotic backdrop for any show but the original Hawaii Five-0 introduced it naturally as the action took us from the mansions of Kahala to the slums of King Street and to such places as the campus of the university, Kapiolani Park, the Iolani Palace, the Punchbowl Cemetery, and the hotels of Waikiki. The new version just gives us periodic quick flashes of scenery some of which look like they are not real shots but artificially created ones. Finally, there was the plot of the new show, - confusing, conventional, and not comparable to the thoughtful, suspenseful plots of the original that dealt with such issues as the theft of art work, espionage, child kidnapping, and con jobs performed on servicemen enjoying R & R from Vietnam. I remember with particular pleasure the the three part series on the Vashon crime family and the attempts of first Harold Gould as the father and then Luther Adler as the grandfather to destroy McGarrett because of the death of the grandson. There were great guest stars too, including Hal Holbrook, Ed Asner, Hume Cronyn, and even Helen Hayes. The original Hawaii Five-0 was unique. I resent the attempt to use it to gussy up an otherwise conventional show that on its own might not last a year.
I agree with all the enthusiastic comments of the previous reviewers but would like to add two more related ones. First, all the singers sang with perfect clarity. You could understand every word being sung - such a contrast to most of today's singers who tend to shout (or even screech) so that you cannot understand a word of the lyrics. Second, "Kiss Me Kate's" singers had to sing clearly so that one could hear the incredibly clever, witty, and elegant Cole Porter lyrics. No composer since has come anywhere near Cole Porter when it comes to sophisticated lyrics. Recall "lovely Lisa - she gave a new meaning to the Leaning Tower of Pisa" or 'If a Harris pat means a Paris hat" or all the lines from "Brush Up Your Shakespeare". "Kiss Me Kate" was made 54 years ago and just about the only survivor, James Whitmore now 86, has just opened on Broadway in a revival of another classic of the 1950's "The Man Who Came to Dinner." I'll be 90 next month and I mourn for the great musicals of the past.
This movie is notable for reasons unrelated to the plot, the acting, or the direction. First of all, it assembled an absolutely incredible cast - four Oscar winners (DeHavilland, Sinatra, Crawford, and Grahame), two Oscar nominees (Mitchum and - three times - Bickford), several great old timers, (Bickford, Chaney Jr, and even Mae Clarke 24 years after she achieved fame when James Cagney pushed a grapefruit in her face in "Public Enemy."), several performers in small parts who later became famous (Lee Marvin, Harry Morgan, and two who became TV commercial stars, Virginia Christine as Mrs Olsen, the coffee lady, and Jesse White, the lonely washer repairman), and several reliable small part players who turned up in numerous movies in the 50's and 60's like Whit Bissell. Now for some curious things. DeHavilland was 39 when this movie was made and relied on the makeup people to make her look younger. They did a poor job. In closeups her face looked waxen devoid of all normal lines. This was a reversal of DeHavilland's Oscar-winning role in "To Each His Own" (1946) when she was 30 but for much of the movie made up to be a woman in her late 40's. Moreover, DeHavilland in 1955 was four years older than Virginia Christine who played her mother!! And why did they turn DeHavilland into a blonde and give her a Swedish accent? (Meryl Streep is the only actress who can get away with foreign accents) and why did they turn the sexy blonde Gloria Grahame into a brunette? Hollywood does strange things. And still on age. When this movie was made Mitchum was 38, Sinatra 40, and Marvin 31. A little bit old to be first year medical students. This movie was made 51 years ago and certainly some things have changed for the better. Back in the 50's not only did everyone smoke continuously but apparently they even smoked in hospitals! The acting was uniformly good, particularly DeHavilland, except for Mitchum who had the same expressionless face all the waythrough that he still had 30 years later as Pug Henry in "Winds of War." except for the very final scene where he enters their home and collapses in DeHavilland's arms crying "Help me." Stanley Kramer made some of the greatest movies of all times, including "Judgment at Nuremberg', "On the Beach","Inherit the Wind","High Noon", and "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," but "Not As A Stranger" is not one of his best. It's worth seeing but not memorable.
As a member of an older generation whose memories of Cole Porter's music go back to the 1930's I thought "De-Lovely" a really "lovely" movie worth seeing if only for the presentation of so much of Porter's songs - a nostalgic trip into the past (even during the final credits) that reminds us of the elegance, wit, and sophistication that characterized popular music in those days. Younger viewers whose memories only coincide with the popular music that evolved after the Elvis/Beatles revolution may not appreciate this movie as much as I did. The musical numbers are great with the exception of "Begin the Beguine" which was almost unrecognizable. The rendition of "So In Love" from "Kiss Me Kate" took me back to the days when you could actually hear the words of the songs being sung. But in addition to the music "De-Lovely" presents an absorbing and adult story of Porter's complex relations with his wife and his bi-sexuality, brilliantly acted by Kevin Kline and Ashley Judd, both of whom give Oscar-worthy performances. All in all a really great movie.