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BBC Play of the Month: Pygmalion (1973)
Lynn Redgrave is Heartbreaking as Eliza Doolittle!
George Bernard Shaw's best known play is about Eliza Doolittle, a cockney girl who sells flowers by Covent Garden. Lynn Redgrave was divine in the role and heartbreaking as Eliza Doolittle. The BBC taped plays for television. While the taped productions are done without an audience. You will enjoy this production especially if you are a Lynn Redgrave fan. She slowly transforms herself from a poor little London girl to a proper lady with the help of Professor Henry Higgins and Professor Pickering. The actors do a terrific job. Shaw makes a social point that just because somebody is poor and working class doesn't mean they don't have the abilities. Eliza doesn't want to be patronized at the end but she wants respect for herself and how she has been given an opportunity. She was born into poverty which explains her situation.
I Shall Call This Heartbreak House!
The late great actor, Sir John Gielgud, played the patriarch of this unusual family with two middle aged daughters, Dame Sian Phillips and Barbara Murray. The story of Ellie Dunn coming to spend a dinner party at a house in Sussex. The story is strange to me and perhaps dated like one of the reviewers said. The cast is first rate and solid British stock like Gielgud, Phillips, Massey and Joyce Grant. The state of the play was taped for television audiences as if you're there in the seats. I didn't care for it as much. The play is set during the Great War or World War I.
Psycho IV: The Beginning (1990)
I know that in the cosmic scheme of things, little boys are small, but some days they can be... some days little boys can be giants.
Anthony Perkins played Norman Bates for the last and final time. He died the following year of AIDS related illness. In this film, Norman Bates has married a nurse, Connie, and they're having a baby. Olivia Hussey played Norma Bates in flashback. Henry Thomas did a terrific job in playing a young Norman Bates. Norman calls a radio call-in-show, Dr. Fran Ambrose, where he confesses and reveals his past to C.C.H. Pounder in the role. The film returns to the Bates house where it all began. The older Norman revealed the truths about his relationship with his mother. A woman he loved and hated at once. Olivia Hussey is memorable as the mother in the film. The film is in the last of the Psycho series besides Bates Motel. In the end, audiences couldn't get enough of Tony Perkins and Psycho. An actor like Tony Perkins is sorely missed today even decades later.
Psycho III (1986)
I figured Bates was a geek, but a full fledged Looney Tune.
Anthony Perkins returns again as Norman Bates, the role that made him famous and a household name. In this less than satisfying sequel to the last film, the film takes off after the second film. They're looking for Mrs. Emma Spool. Diana Scarwid played a nun who almost commits suicide. She ends up at the Bates Motel of all places. Roberta Maxwell played a journalist seeking a story. The film is okay though.
Psycho II (1983)
Mister Toomey, if this is you, you're sicker than I ever was.
Twenty years later, the sequel to Psycho seemed obvious. Anthony Perkins returned as Norman Bates, the troubled motel owner. Vera Miles reprises her role as Lila Crane. She married Sam Loomis, her sister Marion's boyfriend., and had a daughter, Mary. Meg Tilly does a decent job in playing Mary Samuels. Dennis Franz played the sleazy motel manager. There is a surprise twist at the end that you don't see coming. Robert Loggia played his parole officer. The film is a satisfying sequel though.
You could say Madison kids were born into racing, the same way some folks were born into the oil business or farming.
Madison is about Madison, Indiana and the 1971 hydroplane competition where Jim McCormick, the underdog, would bring his small town of about 10,000 residents to host the event much to the chagrin of of the bigger and wealthier surroundings. The film has a feel-good story with Jim Caviezel played Jim McCormick. Mary McCormack played his wife, Mary. The film has a good feeling about David v. Goliath. The cast and crew do a terrific job in recreating the events. Hydroplane racing can be a dangerous sport too on the water.
Some people build fences to keep people out, and other people build fences to keep people in.
Denzel Washington deserved a third Academy Award for his performance as Troy Maxson, a Pittsburgh garbage collector in the late fifties. He lives in the city with his loving and devoted wife, Ruth (Academy Award winner Viola Davis) and son, Cory. Troy and Cory are at odds with life and choices. Troy was once a promising baseball player but life dealt them a hard blow. Jimmy Bono, Troy's best friend and colleague, was played by Stephen McKinley Henderson (a veteran August Wilson actor in many productions). Henderson himself should have been nominate for best supporting actor. The production is faithful to the stage production. There is a lot of dialogue among the lead actors. The film stayed true to August Wilson's message about life and lessons about African American life through history. Viola Davis should have won for leading Actress in the role as Ruth.
Lorna Doone (2000)
For the first time in my life, I am truly happy. I am loved for who I am, not for selfish reasons.
A love story set in 1675 England where there are political and family rivalries. Jack Ridd was a farmer in Exmoor, England in the countryside where he lived with his wife, son John and two daughters. The Doones, an aristocratic family banished from their homeland, survive on looting, theft and murder. Lorna Doone is set to inherit the Doone empire. She falls in love with John Ridd whose father was killed by her family. The cast does an excellent job. It's an entertaining and enlightening film overall.
Mork & Mindy (1978)
I don't know why people are unhappy when there are so many clowns in government.
Robin Williams will be forever missed for his comic genius and natural talent. Robin played Mork from Ork who first appeared in "Happy Days." Garry Marshall was smart enough to get him his own sitcom immediately. This sitcom was the perfect venue to showcase his many talents. Pam Dawber played Mindy and she deserved an Emmy for her performance as the straight-laced college graduate. They lived in Boulder, Colorado. Mork and Mindy's relationship heat up by the last season. In this season, they learned how much they mean to each other. After watching the third season on DVD, I can't help but miss Robin Williams more. He was such a gift. While he would go on to superstardom, his performance as Mork is a lesson in masterclass acting. Pam Dawber deserves a lot of respect for her performance as the patient and kind Mindy.
The Scarlet Pimpernel (1999)
Marriage isn't a word, it's a sentence.
Richard E. Grant played the title character in this series based on the classic novel. The episodes are predictable where Sir Percy and his wife played by Elizabeth McGovern are in peril in saving and rescuing others like the king's son; an aristocrat's daughter and others. They filmed the entire series in the Czech republic. Richard E. Grant has the charm and ability to make you believe in him. The costumes and art direction are first rate. Guest performers like Suzanne Bertish in "The Kidnapped King" was sensational among others.
Beware of powerful men, Berniece. They spawn unspeakable whelps!
I would have loved to have seen the entire production but my second DVD broke in half literally. The cast is decent overall. My favorite character in the novel is Rebecca. She is such a heartbreaking complex female character torn between her father and her religion than falling in love with Ivanhoe. The art direction and costumes is true to the time period. I felt the production was a bit long overall and could have been concise.
Jane Eyre (1997)
A Decent Adaptation of The Classic Novel!
There are so many Jane Eyre adaptations out there. This production with BBC and A&E is a decent adaptation of one great novel about Jane Eyre. Samantha Morton is adequate in the performance. Gemma Jones who played Mrs. Fairfax is long overdue for her dame hood. She does a terrific job as always. I thought Ciaran Hinds was a miscast for Rochester. The film is a satisfactory adaptation overall. The production value is done well with period costumes and art direction.
Victoria & Albert (2001)
I'm not speaking as your husband I am speaking as Vicky's Father!
I only saw the first part of this television film with an excellent cast like Dame Diana Rigg as Victoria's loyal loving governess; Dame Penelope Wilton as Victoria's scheming and manipulative mother; Sir Peter Ustinov as the King; Joyce Redman as the older Victoria and many others. When A&E worked with British television, they produced first rate television adaptations of classic novels and historical fiction. Victoria Hamilton and Jonathan Furth are believable as the Queen and Prince Albert. I don't get to see the second part. Sir Nigel Hawthorne among others round up the cast.
Calendar Girls (2003)
Which one of us are you talking to, Eddie? The one who makes a tart of herself by taking her clothes off or me?
Fifteen years later, the film still holds up with three of the actresses becoming Dames (Julie Walters, Penelope Wilton and Helen Mirren). The film is about twelve Yorkshire women, ordinary wives and mothers who bare all for charity to raise money for leukemia research. The cast is first rate with Celia Imrie, Annette Crosbie and Linda Bassett as well. The film does a believable job in recreating how a simple idea changed so many lives for the better. I enjoyed their trip to Hollywood and being on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Julie Walters and Helen Mirren played best friends and do a terrific job as well. The cast and the film is first rate. The film inspired a West End musical adaptation as well.
Manchester by the Sea (2016)
I can't beat it. I can't beat it. I'm sorry.
Casey Affleck deserved an Academy Award for his performance as Lee, a Boston janitor, with a dark history under his belt. The cast is first rate with Lucas Hedges as his nephew; Gretchen Mol as his former-sister-in-law; Michelle Williams as his ex-wife and others in the cast. The beauty of the snow in Boston is quite striking to the view. The film is a series of flashbacks to help explain the story and the relationships. It's heartbreaking tear jerker. Kenneth Lonergan directed and wrote the film. Set in Northern Massachusetts by the sea, he delivered beautiful visions of wintertime in New England. It's really heartbreaking overall. The film will make you want to cry and you need to pay close attention to detail about it.
Tim Conway's Always a Delight!
Think of Dorf with paddle ball or table tennis. Tim Conway played Oldie Hollis, the oldest champion of table tennis. This episode followed the others like Dorf on Golf etc. Tim Conway does his best to entertain the audiences. I wished Louise Du Art was involved in this episode.
Cesar Chavez (2014)
I'm angry that I live in a world where a man who picks your food can't feed his family.
This movie followed the life of Cesar Chavez who led a revolution from 1965 to 1970 in California to help organize the farm workers who were working under terrible conditions and measly wages. Michael Pena should have earned awards for his performance as the title character, The film does it's best to stay faithful to the story about his crusade for a better life for thousands of people. The story of Cesar Chavez must and should be told especially in film. His struggles showed his determination. The cast is first rate with Rosario Dawson and America Ferrera in the cast. John Malkovich was also another surprise. The film is real, candid and heartbreaking.
This is not a retirement home, it is a madhouse!
A first rate cast included Dame Maggie Smith; Sir Billy Connolly; Pauline Collins and Sir Tom Courtenay as the quartet in the film. The cast also included Dame Gwyneth Jones, the Welsh soprano, and others who have made their living in the performing arts. You can see them in the closing credits with past pictures. The film has Jean, a retired soprano, going to the Beechum Home for Retired musicians and singers. They casted real life retired musicians and performers to make it authentic and real. Jean comes and reunites with an old love. Great American actor Dustin Hoffman directed this film with a first rate cast and scenery. I loved Pauline Collins as well.
Dorf da Bingo King (2001)
The last of the Dorf Tapes!
Tim Conway became famous in the eighties for his adorable Dorf in his videotapes. Dorf is a short man and he's here in Bingo this time. I did admire Louise Du Art as the celebrity impersonator. They've been friends for years as well. Tim Conway leaves us wanting more. It's an okay episode of Dorf. You always want more of Dorf and Tim Conway in anything.
Dorf on the Diamond (1996)
ll right! Now, you step into that batter's box, you own this territory, you got that? You let that pitcher know that you are here to stay. Got that?
Tim Conway's Dorf goes to baseball in this mildly amusing episode. The location is Lancaster Municipal Stadium in Lancaster, California. He enjoyed the game and showed why it's still considered America's great pastime. Dorf entertains a kid in the seats and there are junior leaguers as well. Dorf brings the enjoyment of baseball to the small screen.
Dorf Goes Fishing (1993)
Dorf brings his wife, Mrs. Dorf, fishing!
Tim Conway's Dorf is back as an avid fisherman. Yvonne Wilder is perfectly cast as his wife, Mrs. Dorf. When Dorf's best friend can't make it fishing, he brought his wife along and she does very well for a first timer. Dorf's usual episode is centered around fishing for a change. He explained the history of fishing in the world as a caveman. It's an okay episode. I enjoyed watching him with his wife and would have liked to have seen more of her in the episodes.
Closer to the Moon (2014)
The Red Army didn't free, but enslaved the country, along with the whole Eastern and Central Europe. An iron-fist regime was installed.
Vera Farmiga and Mark Strong played Romanian Jewish Communists who along with three others plot to rob the Romanian State Bank, a crime punishable by death. The court and country decide to use the case to teach a lesson in propaganda film. The burglars are acting as themselves in this film. The burglary was more about robbing the bank but anti-Communist. There is a nice romance in the film as well. Vera Farmiga and Mark Strong gave the best performances in the film. I would have liked to know more about it. The film was shot on location abroad.
Dorf Goes Auto Racing (1990)
Dorf Goes Racing!
Dorf goes auto racing in this delightful episode. Tim Conway is back as Dorf. The film about Dorf being a famous car racer is really to parody sports car racing films of the time. Dorf is a likable character. Dorf comes from Europe and tries to conquer American racing.
Leonard's back and now's its the Olympics!
Dorf explained how the Olympics started and the first sports to be included in the first games in Greece. Leonard (Vincent Schiavelli) is back as Dorf's sidekick. I'm not much of a golf fan so this is far more interesting to me. Tim Conway is always welcome on the television screen even as Dorf explaining the origins of the first Olympic games.
Whip It (2009)
Ma'am, put down the lip gloss and step away from the mirror.
Drew Barrymore made her directorial debut in this funny, realistic tale about a girl named Bliss Cavendar from suburban Austin, Texas who became a roller derby girl on a team. Her mother, Brooke (Academy Award winner Marcia Gay Harden) wants her daughter to become a pageant winner. Ellen Page played Bliss very well. The supporting cast is first rate with Jimmy Fallon; Drew Barrymore; Academy Award nominees Kristen Wiig as a single mother and Juliette Lewis; Daniel Stern as Bliss' father and other familiar faces. Drew takes a story about a girl who rebelled against the norms and parental expectations. Drew did a terrific job in directing and acting. The film is first rate, funny and memorable. You would never know it was Drew's film debut and a worthy one as that.