With more running time and fewer constraints as a theatrical release, all the richness inherent in the original three-part story of the ominous ultramodern house could have been explored and nurtured, especially the climactic revelation near the very end.
Still, the whole cast does well in this thoughtful tale of mindless malevolence. There are a few unnecessary cheap shocks but the growing atmosphere of dread is well developed. Actually, one of the most disturbing scenes involves an abstract painting of the house by its next-door amateur-artist neighbor who is trying to visualize its corruption on canvas.
Be sure to read the great novel.
As friction mounts, revelations come forth from a tipster that a famous American might be connected to the destructive episodes. But the informant is found murdered, and when Pearl Harbor is attacked the reporter's investigations intensify, much to the consternation of his employers who keep insisting on only straightforward reporting of known facts, not conjecture.
'Stand By All Networks' wastes no words or actions painting a concise portrait of complacent isolationist America just before and after the sudden Pearl Harbor attacks and, as the story progresses, you'll be reminded of another attack on America nearly sixty years later.
A tiny drop of perspiration on the end of a nose catches the bright sunshine, and leaves no doubt as to its significance. Scenes like this abound and bear watching again and again. As with "Jane Eyre" and "Rebecca" (to which this masterpiece is so often compared), the closeups of the actors' faces as they experience the slow dawning of the great love-that-is-not-to-be will haunt you forever.
The now-classic RC soundtrack score, with its creative and unique use of solo synthesizer, emphasizes the emotion that drips throughout like a leaky crankcase.
If I had any criticisms at all by mentioning what I consider a minor flaw (and dared to risk the wrath of the millions of fans who hold this classic so dear to their hearts), I would say that the hallmark of "Runaway Car" - its sense of mounting sexual tension - is briefly broken by the highway scene, which now after repeated viewings seems just a bit overlong (and probably even unnecessary?) to the eternal, bittersweet tale of Love Interrupted.
Dare I advance what I perceive as the tiniest of flaws in this critically-acclaimed triumph of modern cinema? 'Citizen Kane' had its 'Rosebud' . . . 'Runaway Car' should have its catchword as well. Perhaps the film could have opened with an extreme closeup of Judge Reinhold saying something such as "A car is an extension of its owner!", and the rest of the storyline could then be dedicated to parsing every syllable, subtlety and nuance of that phrase. Had that plot line been done, this film could have topped "Titanic" at the Golden Globes that year, I'm convinced.
My one regret? That I didn't read the novel first.
Oh, sure, it's still drawing crowds, but I believe it's doing that at the cost of serious filmgoers swearing off any further such efforts towards seeing what Hollywood thinks is funny nowadays. In short, Preston Sturges and Frank Capra this is not.
There is some quick-and-snappy frat-boy dialog, okay. Not okay is that it's delivered to Henry Gibson, get it? You know, the stereotypical old guy with a befuddled expression at all the oh-so-hip talk from these modern whippersnappers, or so we're supposed to think? Let's see ... oh, yeah, the brutal beating outside the wedding. Fun-NY! Then there's the Plot 217-B ending, the Big Scene In Church Where Everything Changes. Ho-hum; it was old when "The Graduate" did it, and much better.
Ah, Hollywood, Hollywood, we hardly knew ye ...
This particular house, however, has the chance to live again when a couple secures the property and searches out the now-retired architect to draw blueprints for a new structure on the old foundations.
The initial reticence he feels is soon replaced with a growing excitement in the possibility of raising the lost structure once again, though it becomes apparent that the wishes and goals of the couple vary from his renewed exercise in architectural creativity. Actually the couple seems to be on separate paths themselves, and they each begin to display a shallowness that injects a growing unease within the architect, dampening his reborn spirit in what might be the last project of his life.
This is a profound tale of disappointments. We learn more about the house's past, and the architect's broken dreams, and the personal hollowness of the husband and wife who had initially recalled him from inactivity.
These are great performances all around. Shirley Knight and James Karen illuminate the screen as usual in supporting roles.
The biggest flaw is in the casting of slackjawed Gwyneth Paltrow, who glides mannequinlike through nearly all the proceedings with such a deadpan expression that the sympathy we need to make her character work just doesn't click. Worse, her early-on relationship with her charismatic, flawed artist friend seems to fly in the face of the devotion we see from Steven, her husband. That she would consider sacrificing her position for the penniless David is possible, sure, but hardly believable. Considering her husband's seeming early attentions and what we learn of her secret life, we find ourselves less indignant than we should have a right to at the point when Steven makes his proposal to David.
The list of achievements attributed to Crosley and his companies is impressive. Crosley Field in Cincinnati, Ohio pioneered night baseball in 1936. His hometown radio station WLW ("The Nation's Station") transmitted with 500,000 watts of power. Crosley automobiles pioneered in efficient and direct design, overhead-cam engines, four-wheel disc brakes, envelope bodies, all-steel station wagons, and the first modern American sports cars: the HotShot and Super Sports.
Bill Nimmo holds the proceedings together well, and there are occasional almost-dreamlike dramatizations that portray legendary vignettes such as the development of the Shelvador refrigerator.
Interviews with Crosley associates, owners and family members give a qualified and at times humorous perspective to the life, dreams and aspirations of "the Baron in homespun", as he was thought of by admirers.
Still, his goals were not always met, as in the case of his longtime dream, the Crosley automobile project which, after a brief success, began a downhill slide that Powel Crosley's mightiest efforts could not reverse, and the saga is well-documented here. When that lifelong dream finally ended in July 1952, Powel Crosley was heartbroken, and lived but four more years.
As this bio-documentary story unwinds, you may wonder as I did where the Powel Crosleys of the 21st Century are, all the stick-to-it dreamers and innovators who made the last century so vibrant.
This film is a must-see for students of American industrial history, and a fond tribute to Powel Crosley, Jr., Cincinnati's favorite son.
In retrospect, however, with what we now know about the recording industry at that time, this film has historical value. You'll gather some insight into the values of the era, and a form of music - doo-wop - that has completely vanished. (So much for "rock and roll will never die", right?)
One act, though - the quartet Cirino and the Bowties - is terrific, and easily the equivalent of their contemporaries the Preps, Freshmen, Aces, Lettermen and Lads. One wonders why their popularity was so brief. I hope it wasn't because of their exposure in this film, though they do elevate the goings-on during their on-screen moments with their wonderful and memorable "Ever Since I Can Remember".
Look for "Gog". There have to be copies out there somewhere.
It's impossible to not compare "Gulliver's Travels", and its songs, to today's animated product, and it's sad when I try. The knack seems to be lost in all regards.
Lanny Ross and Jessica Dragonette, top radio stars of the period, actually enunciate the lyrics, and in tune, and with varying dynamics. What a relief to remember a time when that was mandatory in film music.
And we can also luxuriate in the well-drawn visuals, which allows the audience time to wallow in the rich colors and narrative (without the slam-bang short-attention-span cutting that sea-sickened me during "Atlantis" and similar Y2K material).
Give the youngsters a taste of the Golden Age of animation, songwriting and storytelling with "Gulliver's Travels", and take the time to enjoy it with them.
Highest recommendation. ****
Here we have a few good moments (averything with Don Novello) and lots of pap ... unconnected, too-short sequences that will frustrate anyone with an attention-span longer than that of a flea. The film looks like it was edited with a hedge-clipper.
And parents, beware: the character of Mrs. Packard smokes endlessly. (Disney couldn't create her without a cigarette? That shows how the creativity-process runs throughout this film.)
It's a sumptuous visual banquet, including top-notch music with wry lyrics. (One tune, 'Dream Stuff', slows things down somewhat but, like "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" in "The Wizard of Oz", I'm glad it's there, though today's kids will squirm.)
Hans Conried is a hoot, as always. Mary Healy is gorgeous, the epitome of feminine class, and this is an all-too-rare chance to witness her flawless diction and singing/dancing grace. Peter Lind Hayes' talents likewise should have been seen more during his prime. Tommy Rettig seems a bit uncomfortable at times, but it all comes off well.
The ongoing Daliesque surrealism is a knockout. You'll replay the film just to wallow in the expressionistic sets and to memorize the Dr. Seuss lyrics.
"5,000 Fingers" should have been a multiple Award winner; it's that great.
If you're not into fantasy, see this anyway as a great swashbuckler a la the Errol Flynn-as-hero genre. (And Lee Horsley even resembles Errol throughout this film, which I was fortunate enough to see theatrically at time of release.)
There are terrific villains galore, rip-roaring adventure, great castles and dungeons, complicated skullduggery, and comeuppance aplenty, all done with delicate humor.
This is great screen entertainment with a '40s-'50s look to it, and that's a compliment. There are no wasted moments. The fast-moving story relies much more on quality writing, acting and expert direction rather than copping out with the sort of elaborate special-effects that producers/directors of such films seem to lean on so heavily now, nearly two decades later.
I think it's a classic, and a model, of its type.
Highly recommended to all except small children.
I recall at the time missing the original and lush Disney-style animation I had grown up with. Having seen "Snow White", "Pinocchio", "Fantasia", "Dumbo", "Cinderella", "Alice in Wonderland", and all the other Thirties-Forties Disney Studios classics, "Sleeping Beauty" uses a somewhat more sparse and flat look then in vogue with avant-garde animators. In retrospect, however, I think the 'look' of "Sleeping Beauty" has held up well, unlike many of the experimental super-minimalist animation efforts of that time. Background artist Eyvind Earle had said he was attempting a 'primitive' look, with emphasis on vertical and horizontal lines, in the manner of Botticelli but with Persian and Japanese influences. (Notice that the trees are squared.) Looking back, this creativity does lend a mood of fantasy and surrealism, in order with the theme.
If I missed the "Bambi" look in 1959, however, today I miss the "Sleeping Beauty" look, and sound, among all the recent Disney efforts!
This really was the end of an era at Disney, a 'serious' and romantic story with glorious songs and music. Here Disney once again elevated his audience, giving us immortal music with a full chorus and the incomparable voice of Mary Costa (and compare to the feeble, forgettable tunes and 'pop'-style singers of recent Disney offerings).
See and hear "Sleeping Beauty" and remember how it was before the 'knack' was seemingly lost.
Highly recommended. ****
This may be one of the first and best-known "sure I'm a wacko but it's not my fault" films. More a series of impressions than an actual story, we have impossibly-young Richard Gere (who provides some of the funniest lines, though unintentionally) and Tom Berenger, both trying hard to do Marlon Brando impersonations. And Tuesday Weld's hair-tossing frenzies are so overacted that I wished she'd just stand still for a moment so we could remember what she looks like.
Watch for Brian Dennehy in a funny fantasy sequence.
The film is not without merit, but be prepared for a parade of unlikeable characters. 'Double Indemnity' pulled that off, and still managed greatness.
LFMG could have been a memorable classic, instead of just the title. Too many cardboard characters; too little substance; too many excuses. It's as shallow as the lead character.
Some of the memorable moments:
Clark Gable spends much time staring off into space, chewing a huge stogie in silence. Yvonne de Carlo, with much panting and eye-rolling, fights off the leering slave-trader (who may have some of the worst lines any actor has ever had to struggle with). I almost expected her to gaze heavenward with wrist pressed to forehead.
And you can spot all the bad guys right off by their stubbly, unshaven faces.
Other characters walk onstage, recite inane dialogue, then vanish without a trace.
Music blares when emphasis is needed to punctuate spoken revelations, in case we missed something.
When Gable finally grabs de Carlo, he does it with a silent-movie-type clinch, as the camera swings coyly away.
de Carlo can't quite close the French windows in a windstorm, so she rolls around on the floor instead. (Really.)
Torin Thatcher, as the grizzled sea captain, would be perfect as the host of a Saturday cartoon show. He did every cliche except break into a sailor's hornpipe.
Gable mainly just puts in his time by sitting around, watching the non sequiturs fall where they may. No wonder the theatres were empty by the late Fifties.
Film teachers, this is the ultimate how-not-to example of sloppy cinematic pretentiousness you've been looking to show to your class.
But there's really no room in quality film for that cheap, ages-old adolescent shock device of a disembodied hand emerging from offscreen onto the unsuspecting shoulder of our heroine who gasps and does a 180° whirl only to see ... her loving-but-worried husband. Come ON, okay?
Likewise, the climax used some recycled chichés that should have been retired decades ago.
Otherwise, this film is finely-finished, with well-drawn characterizations, and with strong reminiscences of the plotline and mood within the excellent "Ghost Story" (1981) and a tip of the hat to "Rear Window" (1954).
The rating is nine, but I could have given it a ten had the wornout Grade-C shoulder-touching business and similar childishness been omitted. See it anyway, because it's well worth your time.
Personally, I think it's absorbing. I wasn't exposed to alcoholism, but I've been around, and once the viewer puts away the preconceived notions toward 1990s Saturday Night Live humor (note that I bravely resisted using quote-marks around the word humor as it applies to recent SNL), the film plays out wonderfully.
Franken avoids heavy-handedness in delivering the goods. And the bads. The oafs who make up the Smalley family have their niche of dysfunctionality all carved out in advance, and Franken treads lightly and with humor, making television's near-repulsive Stuart into a Woody Allen-like hero. In the end, Stuart saves his family. If only he could save Saturday Night Live...
But that's the onus this film will always bear, and that's unfair. See it on its merits instead. I recommend it highly.
A certain suspension of disbelief is necessary in "The Manchurian Candidate", which will forgive some plot holes here and there. The most serious flaw is James Gregory's cartoonishly-overacted, overdrawn performance as Senator Iselin. I could never believe that an oaf such as Iselin, as Gregory portrays him, could rise to such heights of political power. Furthermore it's clear that the character of Iselin had precious little respect from his fictional colleagues to begin with, and suddenly there he is, a sitcom-like clown, up for the office of vice-president. The small part of Iselin could have been given great sensitivity, even pathos, by an understated performance. (I think Gig Young could have pulled it off well.)
As for Janet Leigh: any excuse to include her in any film is acceptible, in my book. Her two main scenes lit up the screen, whether directly-relevant to the plot or not. The Sinatra-Leigh and Harvey-Parrish love scenes added welcome contrast to the self-serving harshness within the Gregory-Lansbury pairing.
Highly recommended to all but the very sensitive, and especially recommended to all students of film.
Bernard and Leo Gorcey along with Huntz make a great comic film trio indeed. But in 'Blues Busters', Huntz becomes a teen singing idol following a tonsillectomy which changes his voice to a rich baritone a la Bing Crosby. (There's flawless dubbing to the real voice of John Lorenz.) Louie's Sweet Shoppe is transformed into a nightclub, as Louis Dumbrowsky and the Boys attempt to capitalize on Sach's newly-developed gift of song.
The great title tune "Bluebirds Keep Singing in the Rain" and other ditties make 'Blues Busters' a rare and offbeat must-see entry in the Bowery Boys saga, and will be a reminder of the great old moviegoing days when you left the theatre humming.
Highly recommended to all.
The stretch of imagination is too much to make, and try though I might, I kept seeing Korman and Hackett, whose resemblances to A&C, both physical and in mannerism, were nonexistent. (Better they had starred K&H in an original story, and left the A&C biopic to be done right, as was the masterful 'The Three Stooges' of 2000.) But to their professional credit, K&H soldier on in the roles.
The conclusion is unnecessarily downbeat, and doesn't correllate with our memories of those two great men, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, the legendary partners in comedy who entertained millions and dedicated so much of their personal resources and private efforts to charitable causes and the public good, not the least of which were the War Bond drives.
Though it's not a successful portrait of the team, I believe all concerned did do what they could with the material, and at times the film does have its moments. See it and satisfy your curiosity.