Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
A pleasant and entertaining tale of Edwardian skulduggery, based on characters created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle but somewhat deficient in the charm of the originals. The rather flimsy plot depends on a number of highly unlikely twists and at least one impossible situation: in the late Victorian and early Edwardian eras -- that is to say, before World War I, which changed everything, parents who lost a child wore deep mourning for at least nine months followed by half-mourning for another three. During deep mourning women wore absolutely nothing not made of black crepe. Men wore plain black suits with black armbands. They certainly would not have been wearing formal dress to attend a gala and to dance.
Disorienting in 1960
Too many reviewers, I think, overlook one of Hitchcock's most effective and disorienting touches. When this film was released in 1960, Janet Leigh was a major star and John Gavin was an important leading man. Those of us who saw it then watched those stars, Leigh and Gavin, plotting a robbery. They seemed to be getting away with it when, with absolutely no warning, the top-billed star gets killed.
With the star missing, and the robbery apparently forgotten, the audience was left in the very upsetting position of having no idea as to the possible direction of the story or the identity of the star. In those days Anthony Perkins was little more than a minor juvenile who was listed in a supporting role. Now anybody who sees the movie, even before the first showing, knows that Perkins is the star, and that original disorientation cannot be recreated.
The Grass Harp (1995)
Superb gentle story
Directed by Walter Mathau's son Walter, this is a superb adaptation of on one of Truman Capote's best stories about how Southern misfits in the 1930's help each other survive. Both Piper Laurie and Sissy Spacek, as the wealthy Talbo sisters, are perfectly cast and neither has ever been better. Walther Mathau, under his son's direction, in his most sympathetic roles, plays a retired judge. Every member of the spectacular cast is completely understandable: Jack Lemon and Mary Steenburgen are a pair of hilarious but unrelated con-artists. Nell Carter is the Talbo sister's very feisty cook, Joe Don Baker is the bumbling sheriff, Charles During the preacher, and Roddy McDowall is the gossipy barber. Look for Doris Roberts (Ray Romano's 'mom') as Mrs. Richards and for the director himself, Charles Mathau, as a barbershop regular.
You've Got Mail (1998)
Highly entertaining version of an old play
This is the second adaptation of a play by Hungarian author Miklos Laszlo, who died in 1973. Both versions feature stars whose battles are highly entertaining; the 1998 version is certainly more up to date, but both films are well worth watching.
The Shop Around the Corner, released in 1940, stared James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan as battling co-workers in a small shop in Budapest. They can't stand each other in person but each is writing to an unknown pen pal. What neither realizes is that without knowing it, they are falling in love with each other.
In You've Got Mail (1998), Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) is the owner of a small book store, threatened by the arrival of a huge corporate book chain next door, owned by Joe Fox (Tom Hanks). Both of them are more or less satisfactorily involved with someone else, but each starts e-mailing an unknown friend.
The Mambo Kings (1992)
pleasant overcoming hardship story
A better than average re-hash of the standard "rags-to-riches" formula: two Cuban musicians go to New York and overcome great hardships to find success as "The Mambo Kings."
Spanish speakers, who might otherwise be a receptive audience, find it strange to watch two attractive but very white guys -- one French (Armand Assante) and one Spanish (Antonio Banderas) -- pretending to be Cuban without even trying for a Cuban accent. Even Desi Arnaz, Jr., playing his father, has a pronounced English accent. Linda Ronstadt, by contrast, does a wonderful job on Perfidia, but that song is only used as background music.
The incomparable Celia Cruz, whose life is a genuine Cuban rags-to-riches story, has a small part, but is mostly limited to singing in English except for a bit of the classic "Guantanamera". It's too bad the producers didn't decide to film her story instead: at least she, her music and her speech are all genuine Cuban.
The Marrying Man (1991)
A very rich toothpaste heir playboy (Baldwin) lets raging testosterone make all of his major decisions, which results in tiresomely predictable but never really fatal results. The object of most of his affection is a Las Vegas cabaret singer who is the girlfriend of Bugsy Siegel (Armand Assante in a too-brief appearance). Kim Bassinger does a lot of singing and even more shimmying, but that's about all she contributes to a script which consists mostly of a tiresome series of not very funny one-liners. Don't be misled by the Neil Simon credit. Simon has done far better plays, and should have known enough to burn the script of this disaster before letting anyone film it.
Based on the memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee, who painted a much more affectionate picture of their mother than did her sister, actress "Baby" June Havoc, in her autobiography, "Early Havoc" on which "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" was loosely based. I saw Ethyl Merman in the original Broadway production of Gypsy, and she was great as "Mama Rose" but certainly more "Merman" than Rose. I was disappointed with Rosalind Russell's portrayal in the 1962 movie version. An otherwise excellent actress, Russell was a very wooden substitute for Merman. Bette Midler, by contrast, was better and more believable than Merman and I'd recommend her performance as the definitive one.