Reviews written by registered user
|32 reviews in total|
Having lately seen Kevin Spacey's marvellous 'King Richard III' at London's Old Vic (on Broadway in a month or two) I had to see again this splendid exploration of Shakespeare, Richard and the wariness by the American public of WS and the phobic approach to his work of some actors. Yet years ago Brando joined John Gielgud and James Mason to play a thrilling Mark Antony in Mankiewicz's 'Julius Caesar', and here an American cast show themselves fine Shakespearean actors. Spacey (young and handsome!) is most enjoyable as Richard's conniving spin=doctor, Buckingham, and in his inevitably fragmented portrayal Pacino shows what a dark, deadly and witty Crookback he would be - on film or stage.
John Guillermin had just started his career a a British director when he made this trifling B picture, from a neat screenplay by Alec Coppel who wrote scripts for many major films and was Oscar-nominated for the Alec Guinness hit 'The Captain's Paradise'. Their star, Herbert Lom, a refugees from Czechoslovakia (who played Napoleon twice in his long career and the psychiatrist in the sensational 'The Seventh Veil') was here a suave butler who, with his seductive wife Ingeborg Wells (later, I believe, a Hammer Horror star), tries a spot of blackmail on erring couple Hugh McDermott and Brenda Bruce. Canadian McDermott is somewhat OTT, and Bruce, a gifted comedienne, isn't quite glamorous enough, but the film (a bit risqué for 1951!) is rather good fun and doesn't outstay its welcome. Some of the action must have been on a liner (I last saw the film in the year of its release!) because children's TV favourite Humphrey Lestocq is cast as a purser.
I saw this twice today on DVD and loved it. Of course, it's pure fantasy and I wish it had really been shot in one of Suffolk's Stratfords, though the Isle of Man serves well enough. Burt Reynolds does grumpy very well and, as ever, isn't afraid to send himself up - and nor is the great Derek Jacobi as his bitchy rival. I thought Imelda Staunton's turn as his adoring, then disillusioned fan overdone, but Samantha Bond is a tour de force as his less enchanted director. The build-up to the storm scene is ingenious and when he gets out of his vehicle Reynolds shows that he can cut the mustard as Lear. Of course, the other members of the Stratford Theatre Company are improbably good actors, but I shan't complain. The final twist is an extra treat. What a shame only Her Majesty seems to have seen the film in the cinema
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I bought this DVD expecting to see Marius Goring (who heads the cast in the IMDb listing) as Karenin. However as soon as I saw Karenin I knew that the actor wasn't Goring but the no less admirable Albert Lieven! Oddly his filmography doesn't credit him with this film and Goring's does: but the arbiter must be the film's final credits which duly give the role to Lieven! Otherwise this version, though it eliminates the Levin plot and Anna's delirium after childbirth, is worth seeing - mainly for the exquisite Claire Bloom's reckless commitment to the illicit love aroused in her by Sean Connery's likely Vronsky. The treatment, in a series of longish scenes, is somewhat theatrical, but the costumes are splendid and director Rudolph Cartier sweeps the film to its shocking conclusion.
What a pity that Robert Hanks' callow review of the first episode is the only external assessment of this gripping thriller. I must confess, though, that when I saw it on TV I couldn't follow it - the simultaneous plots in past and present puzzled me, or perhaps I was 'as tired as a newt'! Anyway,I was sufficiently intrigued to get the DVD,and I'm so glad I did. Juliet Stevenson, too often under cast these days, is at her brilliant best as the dedicated TV reporter, 'crap mother' Catherine Heathcote, investigating the disappearance of 13-year old Alison Carter some 50 years ago. Elizabeth Day is so good as her troubled, overlooked daughter Saha, while Liz Moscrop as Catherine's novelist mother shows how Catherine was comparably overlooked. Catherine befriends George Bennett (the great Philip Jackson), whose eager beaver younger self is played by Lee Ingleby; Tom Maudsley and Dave Hill are both Fine as his loyal if sceptical sergeant. Then there's Greg Wise,supremely arrogant as the man you'd love to hate - but is he a murderer? There are astonishing twists at the end, yet they all make sense: wow!
Here's another mini-masterpiece from the animated versions of the Bard's plays. Not many of the historical tragedies have been included, but this, perhaps the most accessible of the Roman works, in the cartoon format which I generally prefer, proves thoroughly suitable for such treatment. We enjoy remarkably fine acting, thrilling images, stirring music with the usual deft abbreviation by Leon Garfield which leaves the basic plot and argument intact. Caesar himself (voiced by Joss Ackland) is particularly impressive, and Peter Woodthorpe is a relishably wry and witty Casca. David Robb and Jim Carter speak well for Brutus and Marc Antony, and Royal Shakespeare Company veteran Hugh Quarshie is a spirited, malign yet vulnerable Cassius. Visually, the storm before he Ides of March and Caesar's ghostly appearance before Phillipi are especially exciting. What a great little series this has been!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
At their best, the Animated Shakespeare plays bring the essence of the dramas to a wider audience than might read them or see them in the theatre. Leon Garfield's screenplay, married to thrilling animation, voiced by fine actors, achieves such power that I'm amazed that this 'Othello', with its allusions to 'the beast with two backs' and Cassio's 'lying in or on Desdemona' got a 'U' certificate. Colin McFarlane is a great bull of a Moor, destroyed by a Hibernian matador - Gerald McSorley's brilliantly devious Iago. Sian Thomas is a poignant Desdemona and all the essential characters - Cassio, Emilia, Bianca, Brabantio, Roderigo are present and correct. After Welles' version this is the best screen adaptation I can recall. (I'm working my way through the 12 plays in the collection: the 'Macbeth' is as good as this.)
I first (and last!) saw this film in 1951, when I was 19. The theme (from James Bridie's play 'A Sleeping Clergyman') was heredity. Richard Todd, fresh from his triumph in 'The Hasty Heart' (with Ronald Reagan and Patricia Neal) played father and son, supported by delectable leading ladies Glynis Johns and Joan Greenwood and the stalwart Andre Morell, as well as Patrick Macnee, Michael Hordern and George Cole, who, amazingly, is still with us - the veteran of veterans! Come to think of it, so is Richard Todd. 'Every moment was of interest'. I'd love to see it again. Todd had another success with 'The Dambusters' but rapidly fell from favour thereafter, having seemed particularly ridiculous in a South African 'Western' ('The Hellions') which opposed his squat short-trousered policeman to OTT James Booth and Lionel Jeffries. Glynis Johns moved across the pond to Hollywood, and Michael Hordern became the great 'Sir Michael'[.
No, I'm not referring to Gene Wilder (extravagantly OTT) and Gilda Radner (in her tentative big screen debut) but to Richard Widmark, whose dour villain Ransom is a long, long way from his laughing killer Tommy Uddo way back in 1947, and director Poitier who played the noble victim of rat-like racist Widmark in Joseph L Mankiewicz's 'No Way Out' in 1950. Widmark was, it is said, troubled by the ferocity of his role but Poitier took it in good part and they acted together again in the daft but entertaining 'The Long Ships' in 1963, and, more rewardingly, in 'The Bedford Incident' in 1965. So, was Poitier doing veteran Widmark a favour by casting him in this so-so comedy, or was Widmark playing a (frankly unworthy) role for old time's sake? Anyway, seeing the film again 26 years on, in the wake of Widmark's death last month, I found myself laughing more than I'd expected (as well as lamenting the early demise of the gorgeous Kathleen Quinlan!).
I didn't know this film existed till I was intrigued to find it available on DVD. Mine is the Spanish version, with even Orson dubbed into Spanish. Under-edited it is far too long (almost 3 hours!) and, thrilling though the bull run in Pamplona undoubtedly is, Sancho P's quest for the 'box' (TV) is wearisomely protracted - likewise his dance on his return to his home town. However,Tamiroff plays him to perfection as does Reiguera as an 'El Greco' Quixote, and the essence of Cervantes' picaresque saga is there. The print is variable, but the Spanish exteriors, especially in the countryside, are ravishing. Bravo, Orson!
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