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|6 reviews in total|
If you haven't seen any of the other "Lonesome Dove" movies, "Streets
of Laredo" is a strong drama with an excellent cast. James Garner is
arguably America's least appreciated actor because he was always so
handsome and charismatic. News flash: He's a terrific actor, not just a
movie/TV star. Sissy Spacek is always wonderful. And all supporting
parts filled with fine actors.
Problem is, for those of us who've seen the others in this saga, much of this one doesn't make sense. We have no idea of the year. "Lonesome Dove" was set in 1877, a year after "Custer's Last Stand." Gus, Woodrow and Pea Eye were "old men" about 50 years old who'd been together for 30 years. Lorena was in her early 20s, shy and illiterate. Now Woodrow is perhaps ten years older, Lorena is much older, and is a strong, worldly schoolteacher married to a Pea Eye who's at least ten years younger than the original Pea Eye. They've been married for at least 15 years, and have five children. And Woodrow and Pea Eye have STILL known each other only 30 years.
We wonder why Woodrow is in Laredo instead of at his thriving ranch in Montana. We wonder how and where Lorena and Pea Eye got together, given she went to San Francisco while Pea Eye stayed at the Montana ranch.
The novel doubtless fills in lots of these gaps, but the movie shouldn't require reading the novel. Perhaps McMurtry, a true American literary treasure, just threw this screenplay together.
But even those of us who know and love "Lonesome Dove," still one of the three best things ever made for television (with "Gettysburg" and "Band of Brothers"), can detach "Streets of Laredo" from the other three, ignore its many flaws, and just watch it on its own. When we do that, we enjoy a lot of wonderful acting in a very good drama.
During WWII, there were two kinds of war movies: The musical and/or
comedy flag-waver for selling war bonds, and the serious flag-waver for
selling war bonds. But after the war, returning veterans wrote and
directed darker, more cynical movies reflecting what they experienced
in the war.
Warner Brothers didn't much care for the cynical war movies. They made pretty much the same kinds of war movies they'd made during the war, but with somewhat bigger budgets. In comparison with the darker movies made by other studios, these WB war movies come off as comic books, a description I use with the utmost affection.
These movies didn't deal with the gore and high cost of war. They continued to glorify the fighting man and, to some extent, his war machines. Warner Brothers made such good war movies as BREAKTHROUGH, TARGET ZERO. By the middle 1950s, WB got too big for their britches and made either over-budgeted dogs like BATTLE CRY or under-budgeted dogs like DARBY'S RANGERS.
But for a few, short years WB reigned supreme and left us with treasures from the early '50s. THE TANKS ARE COMING is probably their best. For what it's worth, it's still the only "tank" movie of any note.
Trivia: George O'Hanlon (Tucker, the tank driver) was the original "George Jetson." You'll recognize his voice immediately.
My all-time favorite actor, Peter O'Toole, does a marvelous combination
of Erroll Flynn and, well, Peter O'Toole. At one point King says, "But
is he funny?" Boy, howdy, is O'Toole funny in this. And charming,
flamboyant, endearing, heroic, sad, and everything else an actor can be
in one role.
Baker, on the other hand, does a pretty fair version of a young Richard Dreyfuss. He's very likable, but two-dimensional and barely Jewish.
It's interesting to compare the work of a mature genius like O'Toole and a rookie so-so talent like Baker side by side in a movie. The vast disparities in their gifts notwithstanding (it's hardly fair to compare anyone with O'Toole), what stands out is the apparent ease with which O'Toole glides through this movie, and the sweaty effort exhibited by young Baker.
The script's ultimate irony is in O'Toole's immortal line, "I'm not an actor, I'm a movie star!" If ever anyone was both, it was O'Toole. The ultimate shame is that there have been so few screenplays worthy of his magic.
Contrary to what some believe, no one awaited this remake of Josh
Logan's 1958 masterpiece. Simply put, this TV version is a Navy garbage
scow filled to overflowing with every manner of rotting refuse.
Everything about this production stinks to the high heavens. The inexplicably rewritten and mangled script makes little sense from one scene to the next, much less as a whole. There is no magic, no romance, no wartime nostalgia, no, well, writing. The magnificent score, arguably Broadway's greatest, is watered down to near-Muzak levels, and is at times barely recognizable.
Glen Close is a fine singer, but does little of interest with a lapful of jewels. The other principals appear apologetic for forcing people to put up with their singing IN A MUSICAL.
The only bright spots were when the chorus, both the sailors and the nurses, sang. They had little worthwhile to do, but, boy, could they sing! I suspect the choral numbers were recorded by professional singers and lip-synched by the actors since the sound, particularly the soloists, was most unlike what one hears onstage anymore.
If this had opened on Broadway in 1949, it would have died a quick and painful death within a week, and SOUTH PACIFIC would have been lost to the ages. And this abominable remake is equal to the other ABC/Disney tragedies of recent years--ANNIE, Cinderella and particularly THE MUSIC MAN, the second worst offender of the lot.
They are to be avoided at all cost. Under no circumstances should anyone ever waste time watching these horror shows. I am certain their creators are rolling in their graves at their existence. ("Jerry Herman is alive." "The ANNIE remake will kill him.")
Now, I love bad, old skifee movies as much as most people. And I understand that a budget is a budget. That said, Planet of the Dinosaurs is as bad as a bad movie can get. The thing has no actors, and only one attractive female whom they kill off two minutes after swimming ashore. There are literally no redeeming qualities to be found in this pile of wasted celluloid. The only thing not wasted was paper...the screenplay must have been no more than four pages long. Surely no one actually WROTE dialogue this pointless. I'm constantly amazed that such movies ever got made, much less released. I'm only glad I didn't pay to see this waste of time. It's 75 minutes of my life I'll never get back.
First, FINIAN'S RAINBOW does not take place in Tennessee. The movie
only mentions Rainbow Valley, but onstage the valley is in Missitucky,
home to Fort Knox and the gold depository that was thankfully saved by
James Bond in later (for the movie, earlier) years.
The movie's flaws lie not so much in the updating to 1968 as in the eyes of today's viewers. We have sadly grown used to movies that are paced much faster than this one. As a result, those too young to have grown up with older movies will consider FINIAN'S RAINBOW very slow and overlong.
Fundamentally, though, FINIAN'S RAINBOW suffers the same afflictions all stage musicals suffer when transcribed to the big screen: Loss of intimacy. Hollywood always makes stage musicals 'way too big. They think musicals have to take place all over the continent. Oddly, a single stage worked for the play, and still does. (Possibly the rare exception to this is THE MUSIC MAN which was "opened up" only enough, not too much.) All movies are of their times, especially movie musicals. Accept that and enjoy FINIAN'S RAINBOW's wonderful score and excellent performances by the entire cast.