Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
The Gold Standard
My favorite comedy. I must have seen it 10 times, laughing just as much each time. Billy Wilder at his best, aided by a wonderful cast of character actors, headed by the marvelous Clive Revill. Then there is the coroner, with his ever-ready official stamp, Bruno the valet, the restaurant head waiter, and the hilarious Trotta brothers - all set against beautiful Mediterranean scenery and gorgeous Neapolitan music. Who could ask for anything more? Juliet Mills is perfect in the female lead, and Jack Lemmon, while too edgy for my taste, is more than adequate. The movie gives you one great scene after another. If you've never seen it, I envy you. You will probably want to watch it again and again.
For Love of the Game (1999)
Too much psychobabble
The producers were obviously trying to cash in on the popularity of Bull Durham, but this was a bad misfire. 5 percent baseball. 95 percent psychobabble, with Costner and Preston endlessly discussing their relationship, the rules of the game, etc, etc. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan without the humor. And what the Tiger's ace pitcher could see in this messed- up gal is a mystery. At 40 years old, he should have known better. Susan Sarandon was a much more convincing match for him.
If you like juvenile dialog about love affairs, you may find this interesting. But if you're looking for a baseball movie like Bull Durham or Field of Dreams, forget this one. It's a love story, and not a very good one.
Impeccably cast, directed miniseries from Down Under
The only miniseries that compares with this one in the sweep of its story and the quality of the acting and production is Brideshead Revisited. This is the story of two, dirt-poor, tragedy-scarred Australian families in the 40s and 50s - and of the large house near Perth that they share. For an American viewer, the effect is heightened by the unfamiliarity of the actors, who are instantly and credibly the characters they play. They are all decent if flawed people, and you find yourself pulling for them to succeed. At the heart of the story is a young Lamb boy, called Fish, who nearly drowns at the outset and as a result is retarded. The telling of the tale is poetic, with the large, ramshackle house (on Cloud Street) and the sea (Fish's "water") playing major roles. Not for all tastes, and there is enough explicit sex to keep it off Masterpiece Theater, but it is a production that will move a lot of viewers. It certainly moved this one.
Dear Heart (1964)
Geraldine Page is always a treat
There are two reasons for watching this film. The most important one is the chance to watch one of the great actresses of our time at work. The other is Mancini's beautiful theme. Evie Jackson is in NYC for the annual postmasters' convention,and Harry Mork is apartment-hunting. Harry and Evie are staying at the same hotel and meet. Harry tells Evie he's engaged and asks her to supply a woman's appraisal of an apartment he's considering. The scene at the apartment, where Evie slowly realizes that he really IS engaged (and not wooing her) is an acting tour de force. That one scene is worth the price of admission. I saw the film at its opening, at Radio City Music Hall, and I'll never forget it - or Geraldine Page.
Comfort and Joy (2003)
Good acting can't overcome sappy plot
The intention was to make a Christmas fantasy, sort of like "It's a Wonderful Life." But, whereas "Life" had its angel (Clarence) to warn you up front that it was a fantasy, "Comfort" played it straight, inviting you to expect a rational explanation for the time travel. There was no explanation, because this is a totally incoherent screenplay. Worse, the film tries too hard to send PC messages. I'm all for films with morals and for films that uplift, but when the overriding message is that career women are nice but home-making women are nice, too, straights are nice but gays are nice, too - well, you get the idea. The first priority of a screenwriter is to tell a good story, not to send messages. This is a badly flawed story, because it is neither pure fantasy nor pure realism, and it leaves you feeling cheated at the end. The leads are good actors who did the best they could with the sappy material. The writers deserve the blame. The movie was obviously made on a shoestring, which was appropriate.
Screen Two: Quartermaine's Terms (1987)
Solid gold, not to be missed if you can find it.
Superb mounting of a marvelous play, with every member of the cast pitch-perfect, especially John Gielgud as Eddie, the assistant principal of an English school to teach foreigners the customs and language of England, and Edward Fox, as St. John Quartermaine, a slow-witted teacher. The action takes place in the teachers' lounge, as each of the half-dozen staffers reveals his or her problems in the course of often oblique conversations. The play is a masterpiece of dramatic construction, and with every viewing some new facets are exposed. The play was shown on TV over 20 years ago and then disappeared, as did so many dramatic gems ("Relatively Speaking," "Season's Greetings," "Waters of the Moon"). What's wrong with TV producers these days? While they pay idiots good money to write trash, wonderful plays like this one lie forgotten in some vault. I'm glad I was lucky enough or smart enough to tape it, and I've transfered it to DVD, but it's a bit tired, and I'd love it if the master could be given another spin.
Rare TV production of a classic
Not up to the original, which I saw on Broadway, but it's the only version to be televised, so it's churlish to complain. I taped it (Great Performances) in 1980, and I'm so glad I did. Giorgio Tozzi, apparently unhappy with the live audio, post-recorded it, and it's obvious. Sharon Daniels is an adequate Rosabella, and the supporting players (Richard Muenz as Joey, Louise Flaningam as Cleo, and especially Adriene Leonetti as Marie) are all excellent. The dancing is topnotch, and the orchestra handles the Don Walker arrangements flawlessly. Whatever the shortcomings of this production, the Loesser music is the real star, and what music! The story (from Howard's "They Knew What They Wanted") tells of Tony, a rancher in the Napa Valley, who falls for a San Francisco waitress, courts her by mail, and, because he is at least 30 if not 40 years older than she, sends her a picture of his handsome young foreman, Joe. She accepts his proposal and arrives in Napa by train, still thinking that Tony is young and handsome. The period is circa 1930. This is Loesser's masterpiece, even surpassing "Guys and Dolls." The music is operatic, and those who have the original full-score LP have a gem, worth preserving. Still, it's nice to see it as well as hear it, and I will second the opinions of those who lament the disappearance of this video. It and so many other wonderful old PBS broadcasts should be recycled. Let's hope someone decides to mine the gold that's in those vaults.
Relatively Speaking (1990)
Another wonderful play, televised in 1989 and now lost, with no VHS tape or DVD available. Mistaken identity lies at the core of the farce, as the boyfriend travels out of London to meet his girlfriend's parents for the first time. Only they aren't her parents, for he picked up the wrong address and landed at the home of his girlfriend's old flame. The trio - young man, old flame, and the old flame's dotty wife - talk at cross-purposes, extending the mistaken identities to the point of hilarity. This is Ayckbourn at his best, helped greatly by a top-drawer cast, headed by Nigel Hawthorne. It was broadcast on PBS as a Great Performances special and then, tragically, disappeared forever, along with a number of other fine British plays. Someone at PBS should smarten up; instead of mindless "pledge breaks," the network could coin money by selling DVDs of these treasures.
Just for You (1952)
The Harry Warren score carries the day
The story is sappy, but one doesn't expect War and Peace in a Bing Crosby musical. The color photography is excellent, Crosby and Jane Wyman are attractive and credible, and Robert Arthur and Natalie Wood play Crosby's problem kids competently. The real star for me, though, was composer Harry Warren. The old pro delivered 11 songs, most of high quality, including the catchy "Zing a Little Zong" and the title song, a beautiful ballad now forgotten. Ethel Barrymore is an added treat, giving the film a touch of class. All in all, this is better than dozens of better- known musicals and not a bad way to spend an hour and a half.
The Far Country (1988)
A good novel spoiled
The book was good, but apparently not good enough for the screenwriter. Some flagrant differences: In the book, Zlinter's coworkers are good, companionable fellows, who all like him and defend him when he is in trouble; in the film they beat him up when they find he was in the German army. In the book, the Australian doctor rose to Zlinter's defense; in the film, he is a heel. In the book, not a word appears about the Holocaust; in film, it is in your face, both at the start and at a crucial scene where an Australian Jew undertakes to erase a swastika painted on Zlinter's door (a scene totally fabricated for the film). The book ends with the lovers in England; in the film they are in Australia. In the book, Zlinter tries to learn about a namesake who lived in Australia. This entire subplot was deleted from the film. The good news: Michael York gives a first-rate performance as Zlinter. The bad news: Sigrid Thornton is an unconvincing Jennifer. Bottom line: Nevil Shute must have been spinning in his grave.