Reviews written by registered user
|23 reviews in total|
I had the privilege of seeing EL ULTIMO CUPLE in Paris during the Festival d'Automne in December 1981. Sarita Montiel, absolutely gorgeous in a mink coat, was in attendance and was given a standing ovation at the Saint-Germain-des-Près movie theater where three Montiel films were shown in an all-night presentation. EL ULTIMO CUPLE opened the evening and I was in awe at the beauty and talent of Sarita Montiel. She was charming in her speech to the house, that was fully packed, and I left the movie theater completely in love with the great Spanish star. I had already seen LA VIOLETERA, CARMEN LA DE RONDA, PECADO DE AMOR, MI ULTIMO TANGO, LA REINA DEL CHANTECLER and other Montiel films, but EL ULTIMO CUPLE may well be Montiel's signature performance, followed by LA VIOLETERA, and I have always gone back to it, time after time. This film is a national treasure. I am glad it has been restored and given the proper treatment it deserves.
When I first saw THE HAPPY ENDING, back in 1970, I was blown over by the film's sensitive portrayal of an unhappy housewife trying to decide what to do with her life. I took family and friends to see it and most people liked the film, finding it unusually frank as a portrayal of a failed marriage. I still find THE HAPPY ENDING very good. It is aesthetically rooted in the late sixties but that does not diminish its essential value. The all-star cast is excellent (Jean Simmons, John Forsythe, Teresa Wright, Nanette Fabray, Shirley Jones, Bobby Darin, Lloyd Bridges, Tina Louise) and Jean Simmons might have shared the Oscar with Maggie Smith that year. Both actresses deserved to receive acting honors for their respective roles. I love the jazzy music score by Michel Legrand; Marilyn & Alan Bergman's beautiful song-theme for the film is a perennial favorite of mine as far as romantic songs are concerned. All in all, I will always have a special place in my heart for THE HAPPY ENDING.
I saw SOLOMON AND SHEBA (1959) when I was 10 years-old and remember being quite impressed with King Vidor's last film. The production values seemed above average and the actors really stood as ancient figures in a frieze in my schoolboy's imagination. I have been able to watch the film several times since then and can only say that I am happy they did try to finish the film after the catastrophe of Tyrone Power's death. The situation faced by all must have been so desperate that everyone deserves praise for the great common effort necessary to pull the production through. I have reservations regarding the casting of several actors who seem totally wrong in their respective roles, notably George Sanders/Adonijah and David Farrar/Pharaoh. Yul Brynner does a decent job for someone who was rushed into Solomon's role. It is unfair to criticize him, trying to compare his performance to Tyrone Power's as we imagine it to have been. Gina Lollobrigida is excellent as Sheba. In fact, I see her at the center of the whole film, its unifying element. Her beauty is truly breathtaking and her orgiastic dance is the only good thing in a pagan ritual that deserved to be better choreographed. No doubt King Vidor deserved to end his illustrious career with a better film, but SOLOMON AND SHEBA remains a valid effort, nothing he should be ashamed of. Seen today, the film does stand as one of the finer biblical spectacles of the era, way better than THE ROBE (1953), THE SILVER CHALICE (1954) or ESTHER AND THE KING (1960).
THE GODDESS is not exactly a great film but it is a very interesting one from the point of view of the Hollywood Star System. The production had obviously a very limited budget and the Paddy Chayefsky script could have been altered to better fit Kim Stanley's screen persona (the actress is obviously too old and does not have the beauty to convincingly play a poor young country girl who becomes a highly successful movie star), but in the end that matters little. Kim Stanley's performance is so brilliant, so complex, so achingly true, that one forgets the film's limitations and what remains is a feeling of deep awe in face of so much talent. This is quite possibly the most harrowing, emotionally devastating acting job I have ever seen, along with Liv Ullman's performance in FACE TO FACE. How wonderful to be able to see it over 50 years later! And what a pity that Stanley was not in films more often!
I was not expecting much out of this made-for-TV film but found myself enjoying it mostly on account of its production values. The scenes filmed on location in Venice, Rome and London were especially exciting, and the finale was definitely very well done. The only fault: Southern California is unmistakable and cannot pass for Portofino (the yacht scene). Other than that, we are very noticeably in the 80's (hairstyles, fashion), the story has its originality and most of the acting is adequate. Gina Lollobrigida as a sexy movie star-turned-princess is highly enjoyable and glamorous as always. Stefanie Powers does very well as the twin sisters, registering both roles with credibility.
It is unconceivable that TILL THE END OF TIME is not celebrated enough for the excellent, superb film that it is. I am still under its spell, having watched it last evening on a DVD I bought in Italy this winter. It is incredible that Europeans are better able to appreciate this fine film than most Americans, as TILL THE END OF TIME has not yet been made available in DVD format in the United States and was released in VHS over twenty years ago! This is a story about young soldiers that come back home from the war, physically or mentally shattered by their recent experiences and often unable to adjust easily to civilian life. The film portrays their feelings with total honesty and we are transported to 1945 Los Angeles in a way that no other films seem able to do. Edward Dmytryk must be praised for his sensitive direction of the material. Guy Madison is very fine indeed in his role, giving a performance worthy of a young Montgomery Clift. Robert Mitchum, still quite young, made me think of Sean Penn in his rough but ultimately warm, sincere way of connecting with people. Finally, all accolades must go to Dorothy McGuire for her handling of a most difficult part. She is totally convincing as the young, sad widow who is trying to make a new start in life, not knowing exactly how. How brilliant she is here! How wonderful she always was throughout her career! I cannot understand how she never got an Academy Award for her work when several lesser actresses did.
I have never expected a great deal from Bob Hope's comedies and know perfectly well that his films were meant to amuse their audiences in a lighthearted, unpretentious way. Hope was always the same as an actor but even his sameness was somewhat brilliant and I tend to like him. I remember having had lots of fun seeing THE PALEFACE, Paris HOLIDAY, BACHELOR IN PARADISE and other of his films. THE PRIVATE NAVY OF SGT. O'FARRELL is just an average effort. Frank Tashlin was an excellent director but this is not one of his major comedies. The plot could have resulted in a more substantial screenplay, in better devised and more entertaining comic scenes. The film has an obvious 60's look and no effort was made to give it a more authentic 40's atmosphere. Hope and Diller are their usual selves, and occasionally make one laugh. Gina Lollobrigida is as beautiful as ever but has very little to do. As usual, she is merely seen as a decorative presence. She could be so much more, as we know from films such as COME September, HOTEL PARADISO and BUONA SERA, MRS. CAMPBELL. Mylène Demongeot does a sort of cameo. It would have been to the film's advantage to give her more screen time.
William Dieterle did very good work with the material at hand. For such an unknown piece of filmmaking, the viewing experience is surprisingly pleasant. First of all, this is a spy thriller shot in Europe and Asia, with beautiful location scenes in Stockholm, the French Riviera, Naples, Bangkok, the Thai jungle and Angkor-Vat. The color photography is indeed excellent and one wonders how they managed to get such fine results without incurring into huge expenses. Add to that, a few very decent special effects, keeping in mind the film was produced in 1959-1960. The plot involves typical Cold War themes, dealing with espionage concerning a top secret formula that must not get into the wrong hands. The film could be 20 minutes shorter but one watches it without any difficulty. The international cast deserves praise, especially the excellent Micheline Presle as a spy working for the enemy. Martha Hyer is, as always, a welcome presence in any film. Why Hitchcock never did significant work with her? Incredible!
I have not read Ercole Patti's novel but Bolognini's UN BELLISSIMO NOVEMBRE seems to be a serious attempt at evoking the Sicilian society depicted by the writer in cinematic terms. This is not a pleasant film. None of the characters are likable and some of them strike one as definitely grotesque. Still, Bolognini shows great understanding of his chosen subject and UBN has many qualities: interesting scenes that comment quite satisfactorily on this particular social milieu, haunting Sicilian locations, excellent cinematography, and a melancholy undercurrent that stays impressed on one's mind. Gina Lollobrigida's Cettina is by far the film's most striking character, a frivolous, amoral woman who does as she pleases in a tightly-controlled, basically rotten family milieu. The actress is most beautiful and portrays her character with her usual intelligence and sensibility, even though most people are unable to see her very real qualities as a performer.
I saw Sunday,BLOODY Sunday when it came out and own it in DVD format. Being born in 1949, I feel totally in touch with this story, its characters, and the superb way John Schlesinger translated it into film. I have seldom seen such a deep, adult treatment of human relationships. SBS is particularly sensitive to the smallest details of what it means to live and love in our times. The Penelope Gilliatt screenplay is so masterful in showing the many aspects of the personal universe of each character that every emotion is perfectly rendered, balancing dark and light moments in just the right way. Peter Finch, Glenda Jackson,Peggy Ashcroft and Bessie Love are a joy to watch, to say nothing of the other actors, all splendid. I treasure this film.
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