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Very good, but . . .
20 March 2006
I was already familiar with the 1945 version of Dorian Gray, and saw this only because Jeremy Brett was in it. In this I felt he made Basil Hallward quite unlike any other character, secluded yet very humane and wiser than even Lord Henry (John Gielgud) and Dorian Gray (Peter Firth). Unfortunately, Brett hardly ever gets to be emotionally dramatic (and those parts are wonderful!) The acting between the three leads in particular is quite good, with Frith getting several chances for drama.

Lord Henry and Dorian are two of a kind in snobbishness and insincerity, and it became crystal clear at the end that despite Lord Henry appearing to know much, he hardly knows anything and can almost be pitied. I hated both of the characters. Peter Firth is so much like a boy who thinks he knows everything. His appearance, though very attractive at 24, is much younger. Someone at least in their late 20s would have been generally better, but not here. Blame the curly hair--it actually makes the very handsome Jeremy Brett look ridiculous when he is the one lead character that is farthest from that!

Dorian's painting (at the end) is appropriate without being downright grotesque. The reactions to it are over the top. Also, what I felt was worst of all, the look seems to suffer from too much dim lighting. I suppose it is done to convey the impression of the film being very dark and stagy. But the acting does that.
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Wonderful but maybe inaccurate
31 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The portrayal of the Civil War is quite good, but the issue of the treatment of slaves isn't bad here. John Boles and Karen Morley (as Mr. and Mrs. Cary) apparently have about as good a rapport with their slaves as one would expect. Both do an excellent job, but Shirley Temple always steals the show. Willie Best is silly as usual (I've seen him be that in several films, so the "dumb slave" stereotype he seems to get is merely comic relief--and I'm not being racist, I think he's wonderful!). Billy "Bojangles" Robinson gets the most spotlight besides Shirley, with John Boles close behind. Boles plays a well-known Confederate spy, but is fascinating when he's quick-thinking and authoritative, and so tender with Shirley--a bit similar to those that "Uncle Billy" has with her. Jack Holt is also noteworthy as a principled Yankee out to capture Cary (as are many more Yanks), but is tender-hearted when he meets Shirley that when her Dad is discovered in his own Yankee uniform, takes a big risk and gives Cary a pass for Shirley to get to Richmond. Cary says he'll never let her out of her arms again, and Colonel Morrison (Jack Holt) said, "I don't think my country expects me to make war on babies." The value placed on human life here is plain in those two lines.
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Curly Top (1935)
It's All So New to Me
10 August 2005
I must have been blind to hardly remember a thing about this film when I was a preteen! That's quite unusual because since that time, and this is a quintessential Shirley Temple film, very fun with a wonderful cast all around.

This was the first remake Shirley did of a Mary Pickford film (Daddy Long Legs). (Shirley) and her young adult sister Mary (Rochelle Hudson) are orphans adopted by wealthy orphanage trustee Edward Morgan (John Boles). The day he meets both of them, he is captivated by them both, but really has his eyes set on Shirley.

Shirley is quite the most charismatic and adorable youngster at the orphanage, but always seems to get into trouble, especially by some of the stuffy trustees and one of the matrons. Of everyone she sees besides the children, her sister, Mrs. Denham (the matron winningly played by Jane Darwell), and Edward Morgan are the only ones who stand by her. When the director orders the matrons to take her to a public institution, Edward flatly tells him he will completely withdraw his support (which is needed, as he is very wealthy). Then he talks to Shirley and asks if whether or not they can be friends. She refuses because she has to has to use "Ma'am, Sir", and smile all the time around grownup visitors. She further captivates him more, and then he asks if a "friend" of his could adopt her. She goes to ask Mary, who tells Edwards that she promised their parents to never leave Shirley. Out of sympathy, he accepts.

Edward keeps up the deception that he is not their true guardian, but that they are loaned to him for the summer. It's quite obvious why. First, he is lonely for companionship, to be loved just for himself, not his great wealth. Wealth can't buy everything, obviously. Next, he is caring enough to allow Shirley not to continue the excessive display of gratitude she's had to give.

Arthur Treacher has some wonderful scenes as the butler, completely outdoing himself when he disgustedly grabs Shirley's duck by the neck!

Rochelle Hudson, as the older sister, gets to sing "The Simple Things in Life" (and does it well), but her characterization is somewhat weak in places. She is a touch too gentle, vulnerable, and mature, but is also very sincere and sometimes light-hearted. She captivates a very young man named Jimmy Rogers, who proposes to her. She refuses him at first, but the night all this happened, Edward Morgan has already become jealous of him, not knowing he's in love with Mary. His Aunt Genevieve (excellently played by Esther Dale) tells him she thinks (actually, knows) he's very fond of her, and suspects that Jimmy will propose to Mary before the summer ends. This only makes Edward more disgusted, and Mary overhears him angrily say to his aunt that he cares nothing for Mary. She immediately takes the remark the wrong way and accepts Jimmy's proposal. But Edward cools down and wises up, finds Mary to talk to her alone, only to learn they're engaged. It's obvious that he's sad, which breaks Mary's heart. But he generously asks to add to their happiness in any way he can, little knowing what is really in store for him. Shirley learns of the engagement and says that she wants him to wed Mary. But despite Shirley simply being like she always was, John Boles really adds to the film immensely, my second favorite, and the actual reason I watch this film. He has the most rounded-out character and is utterly convincing as a very kind-hearted, generous, loving, and refreshingly human gentleman. He gives the most realistic characterization in the film, mostly because Shirley is just her normal movie persona. He beats out Jane Darwell, a wonderful character actress and Shirley's frequent co-star. He is GORGEOUS and despite being at least 38 when he did the film, looks exactly the right age to be Shirley's father and Rochelle Hudson's love interest (at 19, she looks older). He sings two songs (the same as Shirley), but with a brilliant voice that is "almost operatic" but very easy on the ears. "It's All So New To Me" is his daydream song right after he decides to adopt her, and the more upbeat "Curly Top" is a surprise for her. Discovering him for the wonderful actor and singer he is really is all so new to me.
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Wonderfully funny, a little spooky
6 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
*** Possible Spoilers ***

I just saw this, and already being familiar with the 1927 silent film, I saw many differences, and never anticipated what the dialogue would be, which actually brought more to the film than I'd originally known. The characters generally have very different personalities than the 1927 cast had. I hoped that someone else would turn out to be the killer, but the role was excellently played. John Beal as Fred Blythe is much more surly than the polished gentleman Harry Blythe from '27, and generally a disappointment. Douglass Montgomery, one of my favorite actors in general, makes an impressive Charles Wilder, dashing and self-assured, a major improvement from his boring counterpart. Gale Sondergaard makes a mysterious but glamorous young housekeeper, another improvement. Paulette Goddard is excellent, similar but better than Laura LaPlante (LaPlante was a popular silent film actress, but sometimes exaggerated her emotions, a common practice).

But Bob Hope was the standout as Wally. His counterpart was played by Creighton Hale, who was basically comic relief, not clever, easily frightened, and very shy to LaPlante (his love interest). This time, Bob Hope takes that characterization to a whole new level, making everything better, in addition to being very intelligent, sociable, and amusingly boastful.

The sets were not nearly as impressive as in the original film. It only seemed like an "old dark house" when the lights would flicker or go out.
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Wonderful movie and actors, but...
2 June 2005
I recently ran across some Sherlock Holmes movies with Jeremy Brett as Holmes. There is much to be compared between this Holmes and Watson to Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce, whom I consider to be the very best actors for the roles. This time Dr. Watson seems to be as intelligent as Holmes, caring, but he is no lovable Nigel Bruce. Brett's Holmes is morose and unenthusiastic (unlike Basil Rathbone). Why does Holmes even want to be a detective here? He's a deep thinker and investigator, but he doesn't love it. Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce made their films (and radio shows) quite exciting, and this is too routine in comparison. However, this has plenty of suspense and vampire attacks (or were they?).

This isn't exactly a travesty to "The Sussex Vampire", but it had so many twists and turns and additional characters that it left me confused (especially at the end). The show is way too long and slow-moving. The addition of John Stockton was necessary, but the movie should have been shorter. It isn't exactly a travesty to the original story, but they had to add more stuff since the story is quite short, if not the shortest Holmes story Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote! The cast was great, particularly Richard Dempsey as Jack, the disturbed elder son of John Ferguson. By far the youngest to have a sizable role, his stage presence was equal or better than the adults, especially his father (John Ferguson), who seemed nice and caring but had a violent temper. What happens to the dysfunctional Ferguson family in the end isn't faithful at all to the original story, but it is still very interesting and is well made to make up for its flaws.
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12 July 2004
Warning: Spoilers
**** Possible Spoilers Ahead *****

I only saw this very recently, and before that I wasn't interested. Like Cinderella 2, this is another sequel to a Disney Classic that I enjoyed. Personally, this is hilarious and heartwarming. I loved it the first time I watched it, and intend to get the movie and soundtrack. The acting is perfect all around. I only wish that the amount of lines everyone got, particularly Mickey Rooney and Jodi Benson (Lady), was more evened out. There seemed to be too many bit parts for the amount of time spent on-screen. Scott Wolf and Alyssa Milano's screen time as Scamp and Angel is fine. Between 60-70 minutes was a bit too short.

What Scamp goes through is so typical of teenagers. It may be hard to believe (Scamp, his sisters, and Angel are small and cute), but they are at least pre-teen. It was also obvious that the songs were sung by adults. Even though Scott Wolf's and Alyssa Milano's talking voices are very appropriate, it would have been tacky for kids or teenagers to sing Scamp's and Angels' songs. An adult gives the songs more flavor, especially the love songs.

The voices couldn't be duplicated exactly, but Jock's and Trusty's were admirable, Lady (done by none other than the "Little Mermaid" Jodi Benson) was pretty good, and Tramp's was good except for his singing.

The opening song "Welcome" was a perfect fit for the Victorian era setting, and I don't care if it is like the opening of "Beauty and the Beast"--I didn't realize it was. "Junkyard Society Rag" was like "He's a Tramp", with its distinct Street Dog sound. However, none of the songs were actually reminiscent of the "quiet" ballads of the original like "La La Lu", but they are somewhat like those of "Beauty and the Beast". No kidding! They are all wonderful.

The filmmakers wanted to duplicate Lady, Tramp, and the setting as much as possible, and they did it admirably. The addition of the storyline to include Buster is a nice touch, and a necessary one. What else could Scamp get involved in but life on the street for it to be a coming-of-age story? It adds not only the Junkyard Dogs, but a slowly developing plot involving Buster's long standing anger toward Tramp (who taught him everything needed to be a street dog but later abandoned him when he falls in love with Lady). Also, Tramp kept his former life a secret from Scamp because that life is not what it is cracked up to be (it took the dogcatcher and being collarless for Scamp to realize how dangerous and dead-end it really was). It only goes to show that even though Scamp felt he was having Rules hammered into him almost constantly, his family loved him, even if they made their share of mistakes, which everyone makes from time to time.

All in all, none of us should expect true duplicates of Disney classics. It's somewhat redundant. "The Little Mermaid", "Aladdin", "Beauty and the Beast", and "The Lion King" are modern classics with modern songs. Disney is still making great films--this is no exception. Maybe some who bash these sequels aren't true Disney fans anyway. If you hate the sequels, let your kids see them. These should be watched by people who are kids at heart. 9/10
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Love can break your heart
5 July 2004
"Laugh, Clown, Laugh" is a very sad movie, much like "He Who Gets Slapped", only much more heartrending. There is no horror, and the only special makeup is clown makeup. Lon Chaney finds an abandoned toddler, naming her Simonetta to appease his partner Simon. The movie wastes no time into getting to the main plot, involving a teenaged Simonetta (played by a 15-year old Loretta Young), who the circus coordinator says should look like a woman in order to join Tito's and Simon's act.

Tito (Chaney) has loved Simonetta from the time he finds her as a toddler. When he tells her she needs a rose in her hair, Simonetta goes to the gardens of Count Ravelli (Nils Asther), where they grow. She scrapes her legs over the barbed wire fence, and Count Ravelli sees her and takes her into his house to tend to her. He is a womanizer, and immediately becomes infatuated with her. He verbalizes his love, and says the prophetic "What an alluring woman you could be." Maybe it encourages her, even after she learns to her horror that he is a womanizer, because later that day, she is dressed like a woman and amazes Tito.

Both men are now passionately in love with her, and suffer uncontrollable emotions as a result (the Count's is laughter, and Tito's is crying). Three years later, the two men meet at a neurologist's and decide to cure each other, not yet knowing they are both in love with Simonetta.

After they recover, they learn. Count Ravelli gives Simonetta some pearls, which Loretta and Lon Chaney initially reject--until they read the accompanying note. Then, things get really complicated.

Each performance is excellent throughout. Chaney gives an excellent performance, though his quick transformation from a fatherly love to one that borders on incest. Tito is not the kind of man who is given to that kind of passion, and he doesn't like it, knowing it is wrong. Nils Asther is not dramatic or as convincing as Lon Chaney, but then, who can outshine Chaney? No one. Count Ravelli's transformation is more plausible because Loretta Young makes Simonetta innocent and pure, who by her virtues slowly changes him from a reckless womanizer to a devoted lover. All three deserve praise, and don't be surprised if you want to watch it more than once. It may be sad, but it is also sweet.
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Cute exaggeration
4 July 2004
I found this on DVD, and loving old movies, even silents, I thought it would be interesting. Indeed, it is nothing like the Judy Garland version, and it is changed from the original story. Dorothea, as her name is spelled, isn't a young child as in the books, but 18, and the rightful ruler of Oz.

The Oz characters have queer names that actually befit their personalities, like Prince Kynd. The musical score sounded weird at first, but I got used to it (I rarely find a distracting musical score on a silent film). It is almost pure caricature. My one thing I hate is that a narrator reads the subtitles as they are shown on the screen. It is totally unnecessary, unless it was done to promote the film for children. In many cases I wouldn't think a small child would even want to watch a film with no talking (I certainly didn't), even if it is the Wizard of Oz. A lot of the actors are funny. Dorothy Dwan was around 18, but her looks and mannerisms are totally exaggerated, making her look like a woman with the mannerisms of a child. She, along with much of the rest of the cast, exaggerates her acting, which I don't usually see in silent films. Without it, it probably wouldn't have been very interesting. There is plenty of pure slapstick, and overall it is a treat, and therefore worth a look at. It doesn't take itself seriously.
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London After Midnight (2002 TV Movie)
A Beautiful Still Restoration
31 July 2003
When I learned that "London after Midnight" was going to be on, I thought it was the actual film, and was very eager to see it. At first I was slightly disappointed when I saw pictures instead of action. However, my disappointment was quickly gone. In essence, the restoration was a "silent film" but had no motion. The "still acting" was masterful, and it was so easy to understand the characters. The script and sets were great, the timing between the "shots" was good, particularly when different angles of a subject were changed rapidly. I am a Lon Chaney fan, and his close-ups are masterpieces. He truly stole the show, although it had a good cast. Chaney was unrecognizeable in his unsettling vampire makeup, and it helped make his performance as the vampire more potent. Coupled with his performance as the highly intelligent, take-charge Inspector Burke, he's truly a winner.

I am curious to see the actual film, but I am greatly impressed with the restoration TCM did. They tried to get the restoration as much like the film as possible, and because of that, it is a godsend.
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Cuter than I ever imagined (***possible spoilers***)
25 November 2000
Warning: Spoilers
I must admit, the only film I previously liked Jim Carrey in was "The Mask". Not anymore. I wondered if he was occasionally vulgar, but ultimately I thought he was cute and very funny. I thought the sets, makeup, and hairstyles were astounding, like the cartoon had literally "come to life". I didn't have a clue what the film would be like, and I wasn't disappointed at all.

Jim Carrey's acting was inspired. I cannot compare Boris Karloff with Jim Carrey because they are both so different, but I like them both as the Grinch! I also appreciate that the quotes from the cartoon and book were in here too, but not so much that it got redundant. Jim Carrey was "The Grinch" as I never thought he could be!

I thought that the way Ron Howard had lengthened the original story to fit a 2 hour movie was very good. Some of you, I know, will not think so, and to you who fit that description, don't be so hard on this movie. What else could they do but have a personal history of the Grinch if Cindy Lou Who wanted to find out about him? The cartoon should have been longer. The acting is almost completely over-the-top (except for the kind-hearted Cindy Lou Who, played by Taylor Momsen), but that is the way it should have been because this is a fantasy.

The special effects Ron Howard also had a right to do. The Dumpit to Crumpit, Christmas light guns, flying sleigh, etc., were ingenious. You can't find special effects in the cartoon!
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The Wonderful World of Disney: Annie (1999)
Season 3, Episode 5
Not cartoony (thank goodness!)
8 July 2000
I grew up watching the 1981 Annie, but I little expected that they would make what had been overblown and cartoonish into something beautiful and realistic, which was exactly as intended. [If you don't believe me, go to the Disney website and read about why they wanted the obvious changes from the 1981 version.] I admire all the actors in the cast, and like both films! There are flaws here (and in the other one), but they can all be justified.

First, there's Victor Garber. I will admit his Daddy Warbucks was most often understated, and that it bothered me at first. But he is a stage actor, and Disney didn't want this "Annie" to be unrealistic. So I don't hold it against Victor Garber for being very subtle. In fact, because of this film he is now one of my favorite actors. I also admire the way Disney chose him because he looks young enough to be Annie's father! That alone makes him more believeable than the others, even though the relationship development between Daddy Warbucks and Annie is lacking here.

Next is Kathy Bates. She had Carol Burnett to contend with, and she didn't have the looks or youth to be a convincing whore (it worked for Carol Burnett, though). But, again, the purpose of a remake is not to copy, but to try to make a new and believeable perspective. Bates' acting is wonderful just the same, and her singing was great! It wouldn't have been good for children to see her slap the orphans, anyway.

I also admire Alicia Morton, and that Disney broke the rules by giving her straight chin-length hair like a normal 1930s kid. She was younger than Aileen Quinn, and the way Alicia makes Annie not bubbly but sweet and sympathetic (at her age) amazes me. Deep down, Annie was always a sweet but determined girl, and Alicia effectively portrayed those qualities without being too fiesty.

Next, the music. It would have been redundant to copy the musical arrangements exactly. The choreography almost never suggested big production numbers like the 1981 film did. But the singing and dancing are uniformally great in each film, and the songs are all great. I had never heard "NYC" before, and it was (thankfully) not as long as "Let's go to the Movies". "Easy Street" was wonderful (as always) but I can't tell if the arrangement was different (the dancing was, but that didn't make it less fun). "Tommorrow" was sung very well by Alicia (and Audra McDaniel, near the end). "Together at Last" didn't have the tap-dancing or fireworks. "Something was Missing" is very sentimental, and perfect with Victor Garber's understated acting and beautiful voice.

All in all, the 1981 and '99 Annie films were very enjoyable, but this version is better. It proves to me that a remake is not inheritantly bad, but that it has new possibilities and no stereotypes (except in people's imaginations). 8/10
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A Little Princess (1986– )
Way Too Long
1 June 2000
Let me first say that I like "The Little Princess". I adore both the 1939 and 1995 versions, but this one was just too long. They could have cut out much of it and still been faithful to the book. Nothing much seemed to happen, it was so long! Most, but not every actor was convincing (Nigel Havers and Amelia Shankley were excellent). Shirley Temple, Liesel Matthews and Amelia Shankley (this version) are all convincing as the kind-hearted but strong-willed Sara, which was exactly what Sara was. Forget the separate nuances, that Shirley Temple was too "cute" or snotty (she was never that). No movie has to be "completely" faithful to its book. But if you feel it has to be, you'll be disappointed more often than satisfied, and that's unnecessary. But too much length is bad for any movie. The film was well-executed, and the sets were realistic but mostly unattractive. I would have given it a much higher rating if it wasn't so long. 4/10
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Pollyanna (1920)
A worthy version of a famous story
1 June 2000
I own every version of "Pollyanna", and I have to say that I will possibly watch this one the most. I am not saying anything is wrong with the 1960 Disney version (it is a great film), but this version is half the length of the others (it is hardly an hour long) and much more sentimental. If you are a "Pollyanna" fan (the book or movies) or love sentimental movies, this is a must-see. Mary Pickford stands out in this well-acted film as Pollyanna, and is very convincing despite being an adult. Howard Ralston is also great as the orphan Jimmy Bean. The film is only about 60 minutes long while the others are over 2 hours, and it may be hard to believe, but this version is cut down as much as possible while still being logical, and that is a major feat. I highly recommend it.
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Vampyr (1932)
An unusual but dreamy horror film
20 May 2000
This vampire film is highly unconventional. It is not scary for highly suspenseful due to the basic lack of dialogue. It highly resembles a silent film because it mostly has music. Since this film was made in (Denmark?), the cast doesn't speak English, but occasionally there are no subtitles for their lines. However, that will never prevent you from keeping track of the film. It is just as easy as watching silent films (which are easy to follow and have made me an avid fan).

Secondly, there is virtually no plot (or action, for that matter). It is fairly suspenseful, dreamy, and slow. The action builds up toward the end (from the funeral scene on). It is only 72 minutes long, so it isn't unwatchable, but the blood transfusion scene should have been cut from the film (it only adds more time). A serious horror (or classic) film buff will enjoy it. But, you may want to stop the movie for a minute or two, occasionally because it will probably make you feel like you're dreaming. It is gorgeous to look at (particularly the perpetually misty outdoors that always resemble most a foggy dawn). The acting is all right, but the non-victimized daughter of the Lord of the Manor is somewhat broad and unusual.
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One of my favorite A&C films
23 April 2000
"Abbott and Costello meet the Keystone Kops" gives a nice homage to the silent film era, in most ways. In that and every other respect, this film is flawed only by the long and eventually tedious chase scene involving the fake Keystone Kops. I admit it is enjoyable to watch people run in fast motion (typical of silent films), but that scene gets boring before long. I am a big Abbott and Costello fan. Here, the acting is good. Fred Clark is good as Joseph Gorman, and the man who plays the producer (I don't remember his name) was billed last, and he is one of the best actors in the cast, better than Fred Clark, even! Also, Roscoe Ates (the hillbilly who stutters) was perfect! The mistaken identity scene of the two policemen and crooks is hilarious. This film also has many other hilarious touches: Costello being thrown out of the theater (twice), the train scenes, the stop-motion when Joseph Gorman (disguised as Sergei), yells Cut!, Abbott and Costello being carried by each other at various times, and many more. This is not the best A&C film (only one film is reserved for that honor), but this is not a bad

film. It doesn't need to be better, really. It all depends on your expectations (and that should never be very high anyway).
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Amazing "Old Dark House" film
15 April 2000
"The Cat and the Canary" has been considered a masterpiece, and that the film is still known today is a feat in itself. It is easily my favorite silent film. Paul Leni (the director) has a great deal of prowess on films like these, and it has been admitted by others.

First, the sets are realistic, making this film a believable "journey back in time" (it was made over 70 yrs. ago). I am shocked to hear one reviewer say this film as broadly acted and visually stunted. The sets are marvelous, especially the drawing room (it looks very nice to be part of a "haunted house"). The camera work (ex. the skeleton double-exposure, the subtitles occasionally moving like a ghost) is very enjoyable, too.

About the acting, first get this straight: Much of the acting is quite normal. But in the fright scenes (especially by Laura La Plante), the acting has nothing wrong with it. Much of it is very funny (contrary to common belief). Flora Finch (Aunt Susan) is funny as the gossiper, and Creighton Hale as Paul is cute. Why do most of you find the broad acting painful to watch? If you can't find silent films enjoyable, all I can tell you is, tough luck. Classic films are as a general rule better than the new ones, but even new films can be very good.
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Second only to the silent version
10 April 2000
The first (and a newer) Phantom film I saw was years ago, and it scared me to death. In particular, the times when music turns to blood and the Phantom sews on new skin made for an absolutely dreadful "Phantom of the Opera". However, this film is much better. Claude Rains gave what is easily one of the best performances of his career as an initially shy and suspicious violinist who becomes truly insane. [Not every actor can do that convincingly]. There is plenty of character development here, and the Phantom is thus more believable than in the 1925 version.

The scenes are few but long. Here, Erique, a violinist at the Paris Opera, gets fired and becomes insane after believing one of his compositions was stolen. From there, there is much "comic relief" in the form of the two Raouls (Nelson Eddy and Edgar Barrier) vying for Christine. These scenes are funny, but they clearly try to detract from Claude Rains, and is clearly the film's most serious flaw. In between these are the opera sequences, which allow Nelson Eddy his only moments of glory. All in all, the comic relief sequences should have been reworked if nothing else.

Susanna Foster shines all the way through. She is in fact a better Christine than Mary Philbin (1925) and more interesting because she is independent and self-assured. Edgar Barrier is not bad either.

The horror scenes are few and far between. The acid throwing, the lurking menace of Claude Rains interspursed through the film, the unmasking, and Rains' voice are the most horrific elements of the film. Why didn't they have more of Claude Rains and less opera sequences? The film's length (approximately 90 min.) could have been considerably less.

All in all, not as bad as the newer versions, but look at this film mostly for Claude Rains, the most memorable Phantom.
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Nosferatu (1922)
A beautiful but funny film
10 April 2000
Let me first say that I like to watch horror and silent films. I had seen many "Dracula" movies before this one, but I didn't expect that "Nosferatu" was turn out being so unscary, and beautiful!

However, the film has many flaws. First, it is much too long (80 minutes of slow pacing when it could have been much faster?). The film is set up much differently than the other versions, the final scenes in Bremen are short and run together, and are a disappointment. Next, "Nosferatu" was shot by day, and it is painfully obvious that most of the "night" scenes were shot in broad daylight.

On a more interesting note, there is not much screen time for Dr. Van Helsing, Lucy, and Westenra. They are much less important. It is all right this way, but can be hard to accept at first.

However, the use of classical music in the soundtrack is very effective for the most part (except at the end), making it more classical than scary. The look of the film is also marvelous. Dracula's castle is not as scary as in later versions, but it still gives a faint sense of menace.

As all Dracula's go, this will not scare you. It is too beautiful to be suspenseful. Max Shreck as Dracula has a bald head and bat-wing ears. His appearance is unsettling, even funny, and was surely scary for 1922. But it is the least scary horror film I have ever seen, and when compared to other silent films and early '30s talkies (ex. "The Cat and the Canary", "White Zombie", the 1931 "Dracula") it is completely unscary. "Nosferatu" is proof that a horror film can be beautiful and more of a classic than a horror film.
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The Humor never Dies!
31 March 2000
I found out about this film through a horror film documentary (really). I knew about Abbott and Costello being a very famous comedy team, but I was more excited about classic horror than comedy. That is, until I saw this movie. A&C meet Frankenstein is a horror film spoof, but it in no way ruins my enjoyment of horror films. Bela Lugosi is as great as ever as Count Dracula. Lon Chaney Jr. still wins sympathy as the tortured werewolf. Lenore Aubert brings to life the mysterious (and ultimately wicked) Sandra, who is no less a nonvampiric cohort of Dracula! Glenn Strange brings some pathos to the Frankenstein monster. Jane Randolph is attractive (and also takes advantage of Costello) as the insurance investigator Joan Raymond. And, to finish, Abbott and Costello are hilarious in the shenanigans they pull on each other. Costello always gets taken advantage of because he is often too naive and trusting to know better, and for that I cannot help but adore him. Bud Abbott is also hilarious against Lou Costello, and is always hilariously angry at him.

As of now, I have seen only three of their films and will very shortly watch a fourth, and I DO NOT think that comedies are funny for a certain period of time and then get unfunnier. Some of the films I saw (particularly "In the Navy" but not this one) would sink if it weren't for Abbott and Costello starring in them. Abbott and Costello are much more talented than most actors, and tend to have more screen presence. My advice: If you cannot always enjoy Abbott and Costello consistently, you're a hopeless case.
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Sleepy Hollow (1999)
An admirable version of a classic story (there may be a spoiler)
28 March 2000
Warning: Spoilers
"Sleepy Hollow" is a very well-done film that deserves to be recognised. The acting is excellent through and through. Johnny Depp excellently plays the superstitious (and humorously frightened) Constable Ichabod Crane, and Christina Ricci is even more excellent as his love interest Katrina Van Tassel. If anyone is not expecting this film to be different than the Washington Irving novel and the Disney cartoon, well, it is, and far more detailed. It had to be, in order to make this movie full-length. For instance (this could be a spoiler), The Headless Horseman (excellently played by Christopher Walken) is controlled. But every new plot element is NEEDED in this film, and none are unnecessary! The art direction (and the acting, again) is marvellous. Even the sky is gray until the end. The gore level is low and the comic relief (mostly by Johnny Depp) makes the movie seem less scary (by the way, it is not very scary for the most part, but that's OK). Also, one can certainly read the novelette and see the Disney cartoon (and enjoy both) before or after they see this movie. There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with each version. I read the book shortly before I first saw this movie (I've seen the movie 3 times since before Thanksgiving), and have always loved the cartoon "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow", which is very much like the novel. The novel is somewhat wordy and can be hard to follow, so I only suggest one reads it if they like tackling hard stuff. Otherwise, go ahead and enjoy these three classics!
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