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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
While I don't condone infidelity, affairs can make for great cinema.
However, not in this movie despite featuring two stars, Meryl Steep and
Clint Eastwood, whose talents are wasted here. Streep's at times
compelling performance is expended on a film which manipulates viewer
emotions so they don't see this affair for what it is. It shouldn't be
considered a great love story just because it's the wife who is
cheating on the husband, not the reverse. It is not poignant,
sensitive, and romantic (as often described) but instead involves
boredom, lust, and naive schoolgirl thinking far more than genuine
love. Yes, it does have wonderful cinematography but viewers shouldn't
confuse the beauty of the Iowa scenery as indicating that this illicit
relationship was in any way beautiful. When you get past the acting and
Here we have a housewife, Francesca, longing to travel and bored with her faithful, hard working, and decent but dull farmer husband and unexciting country life. While her husband is off at the State Fair with their teenage children, she has an affair with a stranger who chances her way, a ruggedly handsome, world traveling photographer named Robert. She foolishly concludes, after a few conversations and sexual encounters (some of which occur in the marital bed she shares with her husband, not exactly endearing), that her new man, a charismatic wanderer, is her true love. Of course her husband 'doesn't understand her' but her lover, who has known her for a few days, is her soul mate who understands her completely. (Would viewers be as sympathetic to a man whose wife didn't understand him, who had an affair because he suddenly found his soul mate and contemplated leaving his family so he could go off with his lover to follow his dreams???)
From the onset Francesca is miserable living in a house in the middle of nowhere but she has only herself to blame. Wasn't she aware when she married him that her husband was a farmer, that they would be living in the country?? There would have been hobbies and interests she could have pursued, even living in the country, where she might have found some degree of fulfillment and which wouldn't have upset her husband, especially given that her children were getting older all the time so likely to permit her more freedom.
Francesca should have discussed her needs, wants, and dreams WITH HER HUSBAND! Admittedly he wasn't exactly sensitive but neither did he appear to be a monster who would have cared nothing about his wife's unhappiness, had she made him aware of the full extent of it. She never really made much effort to open her heart up to him. While she did remain with her family, playing the self sacrificing martyr and suffering for years in silence are not admirable, IMO. She stoically 'did her duty' but never attempted to make anything better of her marriage.
Who is to say that if she had gone off with Robert, he wouldn't have dumped her when she started to bore him? Having one failed marriage behind him and a history of reluctance to commit, he didn't come across to me as a very promising life partner. If Robert had really loved Francesca, he would have thought of her best interests instead of selfishly encouraging her to abandon her children. The dancing scene where they end up in bed comes across as a cliché seduction, nothing original or memorable. The truck scene in the rain is supposedly so moving but how can anyone sympathize with a woman even considering leaving her teenage children for her lover of four days?
Unwisely, Francesca chooses to write a tell-all journal about the affair to be read by her adult children after her death, requesting that her ashes be scattered off a particular covered bridge to join her lover's ashes. I found this neither romantic nor touching but selfish and pointless, serving only to upset and potentially hurt her adult children. If she and Robert genuinely had this great love, surely it wouldn't have required some grand romantic mingling of their ashes off that bridge to prove it. Of course these children, a rather uninspiring pair who contributed nothing positive to this movie, quickly become understanding and are not (as would be more believable) devastated about their mother's infidelity and especially learning that their father wasn't her true love. In fact, we're to believe this revelation actually helped them sort out their own romantic messes. The modern Hollywood message, I guess.
Had she not chosen to risk hurting her children with her after-death revelations, I might have felt some sympathy for Francesca wasting so much of her life based on four days of the romantic, exciting, passionate early phase of a new relationship, foolishly pining for a man who likely would have brought her unhappiness even if she had been free.
Those who want a truly moving film about an affair should watch the 1945 Brief Encounter. It has class. Much the same idea -- bored middle-aged housewife has short term liaison with exciting new man but unlike this film, the wife realizes what she does have in her husband and, contrary to the cliché about not being understood, relates her tale as though addressing her husband, the only person in the world who would understand. It perfectly contrasts committed married love versus the excitement of a new romance. And its heroine, a very sympathetic character, would NEVER have deliberately hurt her adult children for such a pointless whim as the ashes. Alas, Bridges is no Brief Encounter.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is surely the most famous film jury drama, quite riveting in its
dialogue, its claustrophobic jury deliberation room setting, its
brilliantly depicted characters, its atmosphere of oppressive heat and
tension between these jurors. The twelve angry men are admittedly
largely one dimensional stereotypes but they are brought vividly to
life by a star studded cast including Henry Fonda, E.G. Marshall, Leo
J. Cobb, and Jack Klugman.
The jurors include an arrogant stockbroker, a stressed out man from a poor social background, a wise and endearing old gentleman, a quiet and respectful immigrant, an extreme bigot, a loud and pushy businessman with son issues, an advertising executive who sees everything in terms of sales, and a sports fan interested only in getting out in time to see his ballgame. The jury foreman tries to keep the group organized but isn't a particularly bright or thoughtful man himself and seems in over his depth. The (supposed at least) hero of the piece is the intelligent juror number 8, an architect, who appears to take his responsibilities seriously. He encourages full discussion of the evidence when others seem happy to return an immediate Guilty verdict for a young Hispanic defendant accused of fatally stabbing his abusive father. As a result of this juror's persuasive powers, the vote changes from 11-1 for Guilty to a unanimous final Not Guilty verdict.
No one would be interested in watching a movie about twelve calm jurors politely and rationally debating the evidence. Thus we have this drama which makes for compelling viewing but isn't for those preferring some degree of subtlety. The case itself is ultra dramatic 'all or nothing', acquittal or the death penalty with no possibility of life imprisonment. Juror 8 has illegally purchased a duplicate knife to the murder weapon and slams it dramatically on the table. These jurors are constantly bickering. One juror threatens to kill another. Eventually the other jurors all turn their backs one by one on the bigot.
Surely this must be a textbook example of everything a jury should NOT be! While real life jurors do bring their prejudices and life experiences into the jury room, some of these jurors were simply too unbelievable. For example, 'the bigot' seemed to flaunt his bigotry at every turn rather than, as would be much more realistic, making some effort to conceal it. I believe one would need to look far and wide to find a juror with so little regard for human life that he would happily send a possibly innocent kid off to the electric chair rather than miss his ballgame.
As for juror number 8, at first I admired his sense of responsibility and calm, reasoned questioning. However, by the end of the movie, after he had raised doubts (whether reasonable or not is up to individual interpretation) about every single piece of evidence and testimony, I no longer saw him as the heroic champion of justice we're manipulated into believing, but almost felt as though he had some agenda of his own to acquit and would never convict anyone of any crime, whatever the evidence! This jury didn't rationally debate the case at all but as juror 8 would raise some 'doubt', one or other juror would suddenly change his vote, ignoring all the other evidence. A good case could be made that this jury let a murderer go free because they lost sight of the cumulative nature of the evidence as a whole.
While this movie is often classed as a character study, a psychological drama, or a study in small group dynamics, it's also considered a commentary on the American jury system. As such, I feel that the writers should have 'done their homework' and had these jurors follow standard jury instructions rather than the gross jury misconduct they displayed -- juror 8 doing his own independent research by purchasing that knife, their questionable little experiment with the old man's rate of walking, their improper acceptance of one of their number as a switchblade 'expert' and taking his opinion of stabbing techniques as gospel. If all this had become known to court officials in real life, this grievous misconduct would almost certainly have resulted in a mistrial.
I also felt the movie quite manipulative in casting a defendant who could hardly be more sympathetic, a young kid with poor social opportunities, the victim of bigotry and paternal abuse. What viewer would ever want this boy to receive the death penalty? This film would have packed a greater punch for me if the defendant had been a rather despicable character (or at least neutral in terms of sympathy factor), yet the jury been able to acquit him anyway due to finding reasonable doubt.
Therefore, while this film is a 'must see' classic, a thoroughly engaging way to spend an hour and a half, and a masterpiece by comparison with most modern movies, I don't consider it flawless. At least in my case, it hasn't held up well during subsequent viewings and further scrutiny. Entertaining, yes, but I have a big problem with its clearly intended message that this jury, which I see as a lynch mob-turned-group of pushovers, has ultimately served the cause of justice.
Considering the short length and limited budget, this BBC production is
an excellent version. It does appear like a theatrical production
that's been put on video and some of the sets are simply painted
backgrounds. However, none of this bothered me and I actually prefer it
to some higher budget versions. I agree with another reviewer here who
claimed you could feel the cold in Scrooge's office when Cratchit is
warming his hands at the candle!
Michael Hordern certainly looks the part of Scrooge. However, he is not compelling in the role, no match for Alastair Sim who really draws the viewer in. There seems no emotional engagement with Scrooge, little of the warmth that some actors bring to the role. It's Scrooge himself who drives the story and the attachment a viewer should feel to the character simply wasn't there. This may be partly due to the short length and the fact that the older, present day Scrooge isn't very involved in the storytelling. The spirits present their flashbacks and glimpses with little input from him.
The major problem with this adaptation is length, it being impossible to do the story justice in one hour. Either vital characters and scenes must be omitted and/or there's a rushed feeling. Here the major characters are present -- even debtors Caroline and her husband showing relief at Scrooge's death (not shown in most versions). The main scenes are also depicted though sometimes quite abbreviated. There is a rushed feeling to the production, especially at the end. For instance, when Scrooge joins Fred and his wife for Christmas dinner, barely do they exchange greetings. The scene is simply too hurried to get the proper dramatic sense of the joy these relatives feel in connecting.
This production features an excellent supporting cast. This is one of only two versions I've seen (the other being the 1999 Patrick Stewart) where Christmas Present ages during the course of his visit, as he does according to Dickens. I loved nephew Fred and found Bob Cratchit one of the most compelling I've seen. The Cratchit children are reduced from six in number to four -- budget constraints perhaps!
One aspect I appreciated, despite its deviation from the original, was Fred's 'scaled down' dinner party. Instead of the large gathering typically shown, there's only a foursome -- Fred, his wife, and one other couple sitting in the parlour. This gives the scene what I've aptly heard described as a charming intimacy. Another notable deviation from the novelette is the children Ignorance and Want appearing apart from the Spirit of Christmas Present rather than underneath his robe.
The primary attraction of this adaptation is its faithfulness to Dickens, apart from these minor exceptions mentioned. Almost all the dialogue is verbatim, albeit Scrooge fails to mention 'smoking bishop' in his final conversation with Bob! For all true fans of the Carol, I consider this a 'must see' version, if only to watch 'Marley' from the famous 1951 Alastair Sim version himself playing Scrooge!
I bought the Bing Crosby / Kate Smith Christmas DVD specifically for
the inclusion of this 1954 Frederic March version of A Christmas Carol
as a bonus. For those who are real Carol fans and simply must see every
version, naturally this shouldn't be missed. However, if this were the
only adaptation available to me, I'd feel quite deprived!
Frederic March makes a fairly good Scrooge, in my opinion. The rest of the cast didn't much stand out with me one way or the other except that I didn't really like them 'doubling up' on roles. The same actress played both the Ghost of Christmas Past and Belle, and the same actor both nephew Fred and the Ghost of Christmas Present. I suppose it must have been fairly low budget and this was cheaper.
I found odd and objectionable the writers having Marley's ghost repeatedly moaning "Oh God!" The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come was ridiculous -- some sort of blackbird! Even the Ghost of Christmas Present was miscast. Instead of a cheery, benevolent, bare chested giant clothed in a green robe, he wore tunic and pants and seemed rather slovenly, lolling about on the floor singing! They modernized or Americanized the story a bit, having one of the songs refer to Santa and the Cratchits trim a Christmas tree.
The movie seemed to start out better than it ended. I found the first scenes preferable to later sequences, mainly because less seemed to be omitted early on! I prefer non-musical versions to musical ones anyway but find it especially irritating when they find time for several songs but omit crucial characters such as Ebenezer's sister Fan and eliminate numerous vital scenes. This version is short anyway, only about 50 minutes, and the story is pretty bare bones. Most of the details that enrich the tale are simply left out.
The music was pleasant enough and seemed to fit in suitably but for most of the numbers, I found they contributed little and I merely wanted them to get on with the story! Unlike the 1970 Albert Finney musical which did boast some truly catchy tunes, none of these songs were the least bit memorable. However, I did enjoy the carolers at the beginning of the movie. Also, Tiny Tim sings a song at the end which, if I heard correctly, tells the Christmas story (religious context) and it appeared as though Scrooge was truly moved.
Lest I appear too critical, this adaptation is a fairly traditional (if summarized) telling of Dickens' story and certainly maintains the original spirit. Again, I enjoyed March in the role and really loved some of the sets, especially the street scenes with the carolers and the drawing room with Fezziwig's party. I'd certainly recommend it to any Carol enthusiasts. Just keep an open mind and you'll enjoy it, but don't get your hopes up too high because you'll probably be disappointed!
Although I have seen this on several occasions, I'm writing this mainly
on behalf of my husband who loves this show! From my few viewings, I
can see how the program effectively combines humour, romance, and drama
with great cooking.
For those who have not seen this show, a little introduction --- The young male chef named Curtis visits a market where he chooses a female shopper, explaining to her that he would like to cook a gourmet meal for her and her husband/boyfriend or sometimes a female friend. He then pays for all the culinary ingredients, goes home with her and proceeds to prepare the feast, in the process providing her (and viewers) with his cooking tips. The woman generally sees to it via telephone that her husband's return is delayed until dinner is ready. Naturally this unsuspecting male receives the surprise of his life when he arrives home, and the couple is then wined and dined in style, compliments of this 'take home chef'.
I note complaints here that the entire show is a setup, but it wouldn't be practical to have a truly random selection. Some complain that the girls selected for his surprise dinner preparations are too pretty and others that they aren't pretty enough! However, the selections seem to me quite reasonable, and the little scenarios where they surprise the men in their lives with this gourmet feast are cute. It's always fun to watch the man opening his door to discover this good looking chef and his television crew!
I've also noted complaints about the kitchens being generally quite luxurious and while I haven't watched that many episodes personally, my husband claims that such is definitely not the case. I recall him remarking to me at the time that one kitchen was really very modest, and he actually felt quite sympathetic for the female guest in that episode because of it.
The cooking is always intriguing with no question as to this chef's considerable skills! Curtis himself is handsome (my own opinion here!) and unquestionably charismatic but also seems like 'just a really nice guy' -- not phony but truly personable, highly skilled yet modest, loves his work, shows genuine interest in the people on his show, and has a relaxed and refreshing air. Sometimes the women flirt a tad with him but he never reciprocates -- nothing is ever offensive.
I'm not much of a fan of cooking programs myself but of all the ones I've seen, this one with its little story in every episode most appeals to me, and my husband watches it faithfully every day. Great show, Curtis, I'd love to see you in MY kitchen!
I'm not an expert on the subject, having never read Shaw's play
Pygmalion and being quite unfamiliar with any stage production of My
Fair Lady. However, while I'm not normally a tremendous fan of
musicals, I found this a wonderfully entertaining film adaptation.
Of course this movie tells the tale of the English phonetics expert, Dr. Henry Higgins, who wagers with his colleague, Colonel Pickering, that he can transform the gritty Cockney flower seller, Eliza Doolittle, into a sophisticated lady simply by improving her diction, and pass her off as a Duchess at the upcoming Embassy Ball.
Professor Higgins must be the most outrageous, most insufferable character ever to grace the silver screen, yet I loved this absurd champion of the Queen's English! Rex Harrison is so perfect, so hilariously entertaining in the role that I can imagine no one else filling it. I'd also sing the praises of Wilfrid Hyde-White as Higgins' kind, gentlemanly academic cohort, Colonel Pickering. Likewise, Stanley Holloway is brilliant as Eliza's ne'er do well father, that spirited scoundrel Alfred P. Doolittle.
Regarding Eliza herself, there has been much controversy as to who should have been given the role, Audrey Hepburn or Julie Andrews, and I can thoroughly understand supporters of both these lovely ladies. Certainly Andrews had the voice and it has been argued, might have played the Cockney flower seller Eliza more convincingly. I feel that her career is one she can justifiably be proud of without having any regrets for missing out on the role she apparently captured so well on the stage.
However, I found Hepburn perfect as Eliza and personally had no objections to her casting or any problem with the dubbing. I found her transformation from flower seller to elegant lady completely believable, her appearance stunning and demeanour impeccable at the Embassy Ball, her underlying intelligence, kindness, and wit frequently apparent, her original plight and later her unrecognized feelings for Higgins poignantly portrayed.
The costumes are of course incredible, with the highlight surely being those atrocious, highly exaggerated hats at the Ascot races! In terms of the sets, I personally loved Professor Higgins' library with that spiral staircase! For me, the highlight of this film is the magnificent musical score by Lerner and Loewe. I like to leave the theatre after a musical humming one of its tunes, and there's barely a number in this one that didn't remain with me long afterward.
In "Wouldn't it be Loverly", we glimpse the hardships of Eliza's life and her longing for the simple comforts and a good man to share them with, while "I Could Have Danced All Night", gives us an inkling of her burgeoning feelings for her woefully inconsiderate tutor. Where else in the musical world is there such a celebration of triumph as in the ridiculous "The Rain in Spain"? And...sigh...the light seems to finally dawn upon our Professor in his musing "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face". However, perhaps my favourites are Alfred P's lively "With A little Bit of Luck" and "Get Me to the Church on Time", both perfect for singing in the shower!
Perhaps My Fair Lady has its flaws as some claim, but I found it to be a stunning production and a timeless musical classic with unforgettable characters, gorgeous costuming, and incredibly catchy tunes. Of course there's also Audrey Hepburn, who was always such a radiant and gracious fair lady, whether on screen or off.
This is my absolute favourite coming of age movie! It has an endearing
teenage hero, an engaging story, a touching theme, an amazing musical
score, and an abundance of humour. The story revolves around Dave
Stoller and his three buddies, four misfits who have just graduated
from high school.
Dave recently received a bicycle as a gift, has become a good racer locally, and his heroes are the Italian Cinzano racing team. To the consternation of some, his life begins to revolve around his dreams of becoming a racing champion, to the extent that he basically tries to turn himself into an Italian. He learns the language, absorbs the culture, listens to its operas, and gives his cat an Italian name Fellini! He even pretends to be an Italian exchange student in order to impress a pretty sorority girl named Katherine, whom he calls Caterina and feels would otherwise be beyond his reach.
Dave makes an appealing hero, wonderfully portrayed by Dennis Christopher, vulnerable but with an amazing joie de vivre. His hilarious attempts at becoming Italian, for example shaving his legs like their men but not their women, proved one of the highlights of the movie. The scene where he serenades his Caterina at her sorority house has to be one of the most charming in all filmdom. I was also bowled over by his endearing enthusiasm when he discovers "The Italians are coming!", that his racing heroes will soon be arriving in his hometown of Bloomington, Indiana where the entire tale is set, culminating in the Indiana Little 500 cycling race.
Dave is a kid who doesn't think he is good enough for college, lives in a fantasy world of Italian cycling, and wants to break away from his own aimless, mundane life. This is a typical coming of age movie in that he learns a lot about himself and the realities of life, especially from the behaviour of his heroes, the Cinzano racing team. His three sidekicks are a sympathetic bunch -- the rebellious, angry Mike, the short, feisty Moocher, and the goofy, appealing Cyril who seems to have no family. Through competing against the college crowd in the Little 500, they learn lessons in self esteem and team spirit, believing in yourself and striving toward reachable goals.
Breaking Away is a movie with obvious social class themes. Dave and his friends are "townies" called Cutters, named for the stonecutters from the town's quarries. The students at the nearby college campus look down their noses at these Cutters. However, Dave's father, who is a car salesman lacking a college education himself, teaches his son to take pride in the name, that it was stonecutters who built these impressive college buildings.
The film is refreshingly unusual in having a major sympathetic role played by Dave's parents. I absolutely loved the father, portrayed by Paul Dooley, the source of much of the film's humour, announcing for example that he doesn't want anything in his house that ends with 'ini'! Mr. Stoller despairs of his son's Italian phase, fearing verbally that Dave is going to wind up an Italian bum! Both the marital relationship between Dave's parents and the bond between father and son are captured with poignancy as well as humour.
When I first saw this movie after its original release, the thing that remained with me besides the charming joie de vivre of its hero was the wonderful Italian music, from Mendelssohn's Italian Symphony and a Rossini opera. This musical score provides magnificent accompaniment to the bicycle racing sequences, especially one in which Dave is racing the Cinzano truck on a highway heading toward Bloomington!
This is a heartwarming movie that no one should miss. It may be almost thirty years old but its characters and story are as engaging as the day it was released. I won't give it away, but that last scene is priceless!
This is a mindless, entertaining series from the 1960's that baby
boomers such as myself grew up on. Petitcoat Junction is something of a
first cousin to The Beverly Hillbillies and Green Acres. The series
portrays the goings on at the Shady Rest Hotel, which is located on the
outskirts of the little village of Hooterville. The hotel is run by the
widowed Kate Bradley and her three lovely young daughters, Billie Jo,
Bobbie Jo, and Betty Jo...all without much assistance from their lazy
but protective Ol' Uncle Joe. Much of hotel life revolves around the
local steam train, the Cannonball, operated by Floyd and Charlie, who
make regular stops during their runs to Sam Drucker's little country
The two main stars wonderful, with Bea Benadaret playing the widow, Kate, and Edgar Buchanan Uncle Joe, who's mainly seen concocting get rich quick schemes while lazing about on the hotel's porch in his rocking chair. Yes, he's a-movin' kinda slow at the Junction. The three beautiful daughters are adequately cast, though with various actress changes mid way through the series.
The show gets its name from the three daughters at the Shady Rest. Naturally many of the plot lines revolve around the suitors of these lovely young ladies. Betty Jo, the youngest, is the one given the most character portrayal, initially something of a tomboy but eventually growing up to wed sweetheart Steve, the first Bradley sister to marry. Unlike some viewers, I don't recall her two sisters having very distinctive personalities, except for Billie Jo being starstruck. In my opinion, they mainly seem to look pretty, banter a bit with each other & their mom, and attract beaux. Assorted guests come & go from the Shady Rest, and it's all a leisurely, amusing tale of their various misadventures. All in all, it's a cute, fun, and harmless little series.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is the moving tale of Scotland's legendary hero, Rob Roy, and his
battles with the feudal landowners. Like Braveheart to which it is
frequently compared, it is not very historical. Despite their primarily
fictional nature, I rate both of these movies highly and would be hard
pressed to choose between the two. The 13 Century William Wallace is,
as others have noted, a larger than life national figure, while the
early 18th Century Rob Roy comes across as an honourable but ordinary
The story revolves around a clan chieftain, Robert Roy McGregor, who lives in a Scottish highland cottage with his wife Mary and their two young sons. As the movie begins, he and his fellow clansmen are hunting down some thieves who have stolen the local lord's cattle. Rob Roy then wishes to improve the living conditions of his people so arranges to borrow one thousand Scottish pounds from a local noble, the Marquis of Montrose, in order to buy cattle to herd to market. He temporarily entrusts this money to his friend, Alan McDonald. When both McDonald and the money turn up missing, Rob Roy finds himself in conflict with Montrose as well as his despicable protégé, Archibald Cunningham, and his sleazy factor, Killearn. Rob Roy's honour is also tested when Montrose seeks to involve him in false testimony against his rival, the Duke of Argyle, whom he wishes to accuse of being a Jacobite.
The charismatic Liam Leeson is brilliant as the kilted highlander Rob Roy, an intelligent, virile, and noble hero and a man whose sense of honour is pivotal to this tale. Personally, I feel that this is Neeson's best performance, his brogue (albeit Irish) adding authenticity for the average viewer. Rob Roy is a stubborn, proud, courageous, and honest man whose word can be trusted. He is a loving husband & father, and also touchingly loyal to his friend, McDonald, who is accused of robbing him.
Tim Roth masterfully portrays his major adversary and surely one of the most heinous and sadistic cinematic villains, Archibald Cunningham, an egotistical, ruthless strutting peacock. He is very effeminate for someone who makes it his major business to ravish the local women, whether willing or otherwise. The pathetic Cunningham himself constantly refers to the fact that he is a bastard unaware of his own father's identity, though this hardly justifies his horrendous misdeeds of murder, rape, and thievery. Also, he mercilessly casts aside the young servant girl, Betty, after she becomes pregnant with his child, resulting in her suicide. John Hurt plays the arrogant and foppish Montrose, who is eventually implied to be Cunningham's father.
The movie is essentially the very believable love story between an ordinary man and his wife, beautifully depicting the passionate relationship between Rob Roy and Mary. Those who question the presence of passion within marriage should watch this husband and wife! I think the phrase used by this pair, 'How fine you are to me...' is surely one of the most beautiful expressions of love in all cinema.
The most compelling performance is possibly by Jessica Lange as Rob's wife, Mary McGregor. Lacking make up, she has the pretty but natural look of a sturdy peasant wife and mother. The actress brings great courage and dignity to her role when she is brutally raped by the despicable Cunningham, while the disgusting Killearn looks on. Her dialogue is plain spoken but filled with pride and grace. I give Hollywood its due that for once they showed just enough in the rape scene to reveal its cruelty as well as Mary's pain and humiliation, but nothing intended to sensationalize. Their kinsman, Alastair McGregor, shows emotional anguish when he learns of Mary's rape, and further torment when she swears him to secrecy never to reveal to her husband her violation by Cunningham.
Of course this film features the beautiful scenery of the Scottish highlands, also lavish period costumes and appropriate musical scoring. There are no grand battle scenes as in Braveheart, but continuous engaging action and a particularly gripping sword fight in the final duel between Rob Roy and Cunningham. This is a captivating movie featuring both tense action and a beautiful love tale.
I admit to being somewhat disappointed in this movie as I'd had great
expectations, considering its cast with three of my favorite stars,
Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour, and Christopher Plummer. The old
fashioned love tale is beautiful, but I felt that the context of time
travel should have been managed more skillfully.
The story centers around a Chicago playwright, Richard Collier, who is approached on the opening night of his first play by an old lady who begs him "Come back to me", and presses into his hand a classic pocket watch. Several years later he discovers that this lady is Elise McKenna, a famous stage actress from the early 1900's, whose vintage portrait hangs in the Grand Hotel. Through self hypnosis, he manages to travel back in time to that era, where he meets the beautiful Elise and they fall in love, despite the objections of her manager. Also, despite the difficulties of being separated by almost a century in time.
The actors are all wonderful in their roles, the handsome and charming Christopher Reeve playing Richard, with Jane Seymour as Elise, absolutely beautiful, elegant, and radiant in every scene. Christopher Plummer is cast in the part of the overbearing, overprotective, mean spirited, and possessive manager, William Fawcett Robinson. Though Plummer's role isn't intended to be sympathetic, his acting is of course impeccable, and he's such a favorite of mine that I can never quite picture him as the villain of the piece. Personally...don't get angry with me...but I kind of wished he'd ended up settling down himself with this lovely actress for which he obviously has unrequited feelings.
My main problem lies with the time travel. This is definitely NOT a science fiction movie. While I wouldn't have expected technical scientific methods in a romance movie, surely the screenwriters could have come up with something a bit more believable than this silly self hypnosis. Though I'm quite a romantic myself, this really made the whole plot seem a little foolish. Also, there are just so many loose ends in connecting the 1912 Elise and the late 20th Century Richard. By the end, I wondered whether I had missed something along the way, so was a bit relieved to discover that a few others had the same problem. With such sloppy screen writing, I felt the producers were relying a little too much on the famous name stars and the dramatic High Romance of it all.
It's all pure dreamy romance, fantasy, and fairy tale throughout. Wonderful cinematography, beautiful scenes of Michigan's Mackinac Island and the Grand Hotel, and lavish Oscar nominated turn of the century period costumes. If you can just suspend all critical thought processes, you can enjoy this movie as a haunting fairy tale, an escapist romantic fantasy.
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