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An Entertaining Picture That Doesn't Take Itself Too Seriously
9 December 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Based on an actual event, "A Royal Night Out" is a 'romp' in the spirit of the movie "Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day", although toned down a bit because the story surrounds two British royals, Princess Elizabeth (played wonderfully by actress Sarah Gadon); and her sister Princess Margaret (played by the scene-stealing Bel Powley ["The Diary of a Teenage Girl"]. The comic-relief performance of Bel Powley is reason enough to see and enjoy this picture. She practically steals the entire movie. Though while viewing this picture, one quickly comes to the conclusion that there are improbable situations that would never take place or happen in the life of the Royals; and that creative license is the rule of the day. Having said that, it doesn't take away the actual fun of this movie; and the picture doesn't even begin to pretend to take itself too seriously. Even the seriousness of the character of the 'Queen Mum' (played excellently by Emma Watson) doesn't try and reach for dramatic montages to counter-act the comedic moments. A light-hearted slower-moving romp that is entertaining - and entertaining it is, as long as audiences know that fact-checking the events in the story would not be energy well-spent.
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A Honest Film With Historical Accuracy!
12 November 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This version of the story of "Mary, Queen of Scots" comes from Switzerland. Though the story of the most famous Scottish monarch of all has been told on the big screen several times before, this European-produced version is very credible. Its USA premiere was in November, 2013; and had a second screening at the AFI Fest in Hollywood. By the sizes of the audiences who wanted to see the picture, it confirms the fact that there is still much interest in Mary Stuart.

The film stars French-Swiss actress Camille Rutherford, who plays the title role with honesty and truthfulness. Rutherford portrays Mary as neither a complete heroine nor a complete villain, but rather a human being who inherits the trappings of being royal; as well walking the very thin line of trying to solve the problems of religious divisions. Rutherford has a earthy natural beauty to her (she is as attractive in-person as she is on the big screen); which lends itself to the character of 'Mary, Queen of Scots'. But she never allows her natural beauty to overshadow or become the main focus of her character. Rutherford allows her character's flaws to resonate with audiences; and does such a masterful job of portraying her character with a quiet subtlety, that movie patrons root for 'Mary' to be successful, though many know of her well-documented doom.

Director Thomas Imbach could have fallen into the trap of turning this costume period piece into a soap opera-like drama. But with Imbach at the helm, he avoids all the usual clichés, and gives this well-documented story a different slant. Is there drama within the life of Mary Queen of Scots? Yes, historical accounts do nothing but that otherwise; but Imbach and the screenwriters (including a Stuart descendant)keep close to historical accuracy by telling the story with dramatic believability. He manages to bring us into the world of Mary Stuart and Queen Elizabeth I of England, yet we never see Elizabeth I on the screen as a real person. The cinematography by Rainer Klausmann makes the most of the beautiful landscapes of Switzerland and France.

Sean Biggerstaff plays the 'Earl of Bothwell' very deliberately without going 'over-the-top' with his performance. Aneurin Barnard had the unenviable task of portraying the very flawed 'Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley', and did so without calling attention to his character over the title role of 'Mary', as well as does not overshadow the rest of the cast. Tony Curran does a marvelous job as the caustic 'John Knox"

But the real point-of-note in this picture is the performance of Camille Rutherford. Mary, Queen of Scots is such a real, 'larger-than-life' historical character with such a tragic ending that portraying such a figure has to be accomplished with an affirmative integrity for audiences to even care. Rutherford does that brilliantly.

This cinematic version of the story of Mary, Queen of Scots is better than the 1936 film, "Mary of Scotland" (starring Katharine Hepburn); and is just as good and looks better than the 1971 version "Mary, Queen of Scots" (starring Vanessa Redgrave). No doubt this 2013 version will be compared to the American-produced cinematic version, starring the very talented Saoirse Ronan. This European-produced version of the story of "Mary Queen of Scots" is one not to be missed by those who love movies.
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Sofia Coppola's Independent Style
7 November 2006
The 2006 version of "Marie Antoinette" is one of the most beautiful movies to watch that has been put on screen in quite some time. But I say that in reference to the costumes, set design, and art direction. The term 'eye candy' that has been used by some of the critics and moviegoers alike is very appropriate for this film. Worldwide, there seems to be an even split among those who loved the film and those who loathed it.

I saw the film for what it was: a director's independent and different vision of a real-life character whose story everyone already knows. We know what the ending for the real Marie Antoinette was. I believe that Sofia Coppola should be highly complimented for her style in telling this version of the Archduchess of Austria & Queen of France.

That's not to say this film is without its problems. Though a big deal was made of Coppola's use of rock music during some scenes, it wasn't as 'horrible' as the French critics made it out to be. As a independent director myself, it is my belief that Coppola could have done a better job matching the music with the scenes with which she used them. The timing choices were a little jarring. And there aren't enough technical reasons in the world to excuse some of the obvious technical 'oversights'. I understand why half the people who saw this film had a problem with it - which is the lack of this film being story driven. The 1938 version of "Marie Antoinette" (starring the great Norma Shearer and Tyrone Power) is much more story-driven. If I had directed this movie, I probably would have gone deeper in the mind of Kirsten Dunst's 'Marie Antoinette'. There could have been more done visually to explain why the people of France hated Marie Antoinette in the end.

Having said that, I would give my right arm to be able to have access to Versailles in France. Sofia Coppola helped make the cinematography lush and gorgeous by agreeing to the pastel colors used for costumes and sets. The real 'behind-the-scenes' stars are Costume Designer Milena Canonero and Set Decorator Veronique Melery - each deserving of an Oscar nomination, at the very least.

Kirsten Dunst did well as 'Marie Antoinette'. Marianne Fathfull will probably never get the recognition she deserves for her performance as the Austrian Empress, Maria Theresa. Though her scenes were short, she played the imperial Austrian icon perfectly.

I liked "Marie Antoinette", and tend to side with critics like Roger Ebert of his assessment of the film. But as historical films go, this movie is not without its critics (some of it very justified). But I praise Sofia Coppola for being courageous enough to try something different.
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Flyboys (2006)
A Hollywood Throwback With 'Indie' Money
28 September 2006
Flyboys was made exactly how movies used to be made in the 1930's and 40s. In other words, it entertains!! Never have I felt to be so critical of the negative criticism that a good portion of the so-called 'film critics' have given this film. But one thing I'm certain - they are all wrong!! What's sad is that this film will be totally overlooked, and it shouldn't be.

First of all, they have over-analyzed this film. After reading some of their reviews, I expected Flyboys to be a 'World War I' version of their idea of a 'flawed' "Pearl Harbor". While watching the film, I found that not to be the case. For a start, World War I is the most significant war in human history - for it marked the turning point when episodes of the darker side of the human spirit were visible and tangible - every single day. But compared to the 21st Century, it was also a simpler time. Director Tony Bill successfully expressed that simpler time through his characters. Certain critics may criticize the screenplay, but to me, the script fit the period of the day. No surprise to me that innocent American 'wannabe-flyboys' didn't know what to expect out of a revolutionary technological war that the whole world had never fought before - especially in the air.

Yes, the story is rather lightweight, but so was the time period. Personally, I easily forgave the lightweight story, for I knew going into to the movie theater that I wanted to see the aerial dogfights - which were spectacular - and I was not disappointed! Think about it - the first World War I aviation movie made in 40 years, and the film gets raked 'over the coals'(as it were) like this? I say unfair! Did Tony Bill steal somewhat from Howard Hughes "Hell's Angels"? Certainly. But I say, so what?! Is that a bad thing? If you were a movie director and had to shoot aerial dogfight close-up scenes in a movie, where would you put your cameras to make it look different?

Tony Bill did a marvelous job on a film with an independent budget without major studio backing. I believed the 'Blaine Rawlings' character(performed with success by James Franco). Even the 'Lucienne' character was wonderfully interpreted by Jennifer Decker. Compare how the love story in this film was treated to the one treated in the movie "Pearl Harbor". You will see a significant difference.

I love the real-life story of the Lafayette Escadrille. But I also loved the fact that I was entertained by this film. My expectations were not so high that I should have expected an Oscar-caliber World War I aviation film. But I love the look of this film. The colors were rich and the cinematography was great. For two hours I was in Europe during the first part of the 20th Century. My expectations were that I be entertained - and I was! Flyboys may not be as deep as the Oscar-nominated Joyeux Noel (which I loved); but it didn't have to be. Hollywood used to make movies that entertained without given us the hidden message that we are automatically stupid. Flyboys just lets you sit back and watch a 'time-innocent-turn-harsh reality' story unfold. Flyboys will be in my DVD library.
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An Inside Look at a Genius
11 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I found this to be one of the best documentaries on any major Hollywood producer from its Golden Age. The best thing that this documentary does is to explain what a genius Irving Thalberg really was. Young filmmakers and young would-be producers have no idea just what Thalberg did for the film industry and how he changed the history of Hollywood. The documentary tells a great story how Thalberg's genius save many Hollywood epics, resurrected careers, and how he was able to work inside the 'studio system'. Great insights from Hollywood historians (such as Scott Eyman) give great credibility to this wonderful documentary. It also leaves viewers with the impression of just how talented Thalberg was among all his motion picture colleagues. Also interesting is the stories of his personal life - from his poor health to his marriage to the wonderful Norma Shearer, who was a star among stars.

Tragically, though Thalberg lived a very short life, his existence in the movie business is a blueprint of how Hollywood should be making pictures today. If not for Irving Thalberg, there would be no example of a consistent genius mind working within the Hollywood system. To me, this is one of the best documentaries made on any of the old 'studio bosses' from the greatest period of movie history.
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Joyeux Noel (2005)
A Great Oscar-Nominated Film!
6 March 2006
Joyeux Noel is one of the best films about World War I since "All Quiet on the Western Front" (1930). It's clearly more subtle than that film, but director Christian Carion does an excellent job of taking us through a story at a critical time of the early days of The Great War (World War I). The cinematography is brilliant, to say the least. But this is not your usual Hollywood-type 'war' film. The characters are distinctive and the story is compelling, though from a low-key level. German-born Diane Kruger ("National Treasure") never looked more beautiful on screen. Her stunning good-looks can capture any movie-going audience. Her character of Anna Sorensen is strong, yet subtle. The casting for this film was extraordinary - being as perfect as one can possibly hope for. Christian Carion, who also wrote the screenplay, put his heart and soul into this picture - and it shows. This motion picture is sterling. Though nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language film, I truly wish that it had actually won the Oscar. The last foreign picture that I felt this good about coming out of a movie theater was "Life is Beautiful". Just from a cinema-graphic point-of-view, Joyeux Noel looks even better than that film! Hopefully, this motion picture will soon be used as a teaching tool in world history classes in universities and secondary schools across America and the world.
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An Extraordinary Silent Classic!!
18 June 2005
The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg is such a wonderful classic silent film, that it is amazing to me that the movie doesn't get more recognition from Hollywood film organizations. The film made Norma Shearer an absolute star at MGM, and confirmed her talents on the silver screen. The direction by Ernst Lubitsch is first-rate, as he captures a royal love story, along with the beauty and essence of Imperial Germany in the 19th Century. The look of this silent diamond-of-a-film is unforgettable, and the music score that one now hears on videos of the film only adds to the elegance of this silent art masterpiece. Ramon Novarro did his best work in this film, and the character of Dr. Juttner (played by the wonderful Jean Hersholt) is one that is so likable, that audiences root hard for the characters of Prince Karl and Kathi, whom Dr. Juttner supports. Although I have agreed with most of AFI's 25 Greatest Female Stars List, I wish that Norma Shearer was on it. She married the greatest film producer that Hollywood will ever know (Irving Thalberg), but even without having married 'The Boy Genius'(as Thalberg was then called), Norma Shearer would have have shined on her own - which she proved with this film before she married Thalberg. The reviews for this film in 1927 and 1928 were overwhelmingly positive - including the November, 1927 Photoplay review, which raved about the film. Maybe Hollywood film organizations and historians should take a second look. I loved it, and not just because I have German roots in my family.
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Hooray for Animal Crackers!
13 November 2004
Animal Crackers is one of the best films ever done by the 4 Marx Brothers. For a start, the comedy completely works on screen, especially considering that the film was adapted from the musical stage play. And although Zeppo's comedy has always been underrated and underplayed in the five films that the 4 Marx Brothers did for Paramount Pictures, he proves in this film, as well as the four other movies he appeared with Groucho, Chico, and Harpo, that the 4 Marx Brothers made better films when the four of them worked together; as opposed to when it was just Groucho, Chico and Harpo. All the Marx Brothers films which included Zeppo were zanier films and, to me, the best of their work. Verbally, Groucho is at his razor-sharp best in Animal Crackers, with almost every one-liner dripping with comedic insults and sarcasm. Chico and Harpo perfectly add to the mayhem. The direction by Victor Heerman showed the type of skill needed to professionally control the 4 Marx Brothers to make Animal Crackers the tremendous success that it was. Though the Great Depression was taking hold on the American psyche in 1930, Animal Crackers was the perfect comedy which allowed ordinary Americans to enjoy the spoofing of America's 'Hoi Polloi'.

Though the 4 Marx Brothers' succeeding films (Monkey Business, Horse Feathers, and Duck Soup) were even more of the Hollywood film-style comedy successes which crystalized their zaniness and on-screen craziness, one should not underestimate the cinematography of George Folsey, Sr., who made the film look like a movie written especially for the screen. The look of the film (specifically the sets) makes one feel like he or she wished they had been invited to Mrs. Rittenhouse's party in honor of Captain Spaulding. Lillian Roth never looked better, and the best song in the film is her musical number with Hal Thompson, "Why Am I So Romantic?" - which was the theme music for the entire movie. Animal Crackers is one of my favorite films that the 4 Marx Brothers did for Paramount Pictures - although all five films made at Paramount are absolute gems. I strongly suggest getting the Marx Brothers' Silver Screen Collection, which is now on DVD. They are a must for your film library!
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A Tremendously Overlooked Diamond of a Film!
20 October 2004
Though there may be a tendency to compare the 1980 version of "Little Miss Marker" to the 1934 version (with Shirley Temple as The Kid), writer/director Walter Bernstein captures the very essence of the 1930's with his screenplay and direction, respectively. One of the reasons I loved the 1980 version is the set designs and the vivid colors of the film. But even more importantly, I loved Walter Matthau's performance as Sorrowful Jones. He has great one-liners that only add to this gem of a film. Of course, nobody plays a sidekick better than Bob Newhart, who plays Regret. Newhart and Matthau made a great team in this movie, and I wish they had worked on more films together. I love The Kid (played by one-time film actress Sara Stimson), for she adds a cuteness to her character that is similar to Shirley Temple's "Kid", but yet is different in that her character displays quite a bit more innocence. Julie Andrews is more than believable as Amanda Worthington, as she tries to soften the two men in her life. And one should not forget Tony Curtis, who is perfect Blackie.

I regret that this movie didn't make more money at the box office, because it did capture the lives of the poor majority and privileged minority during the Depression very well. And it is funny and just a fun movie to watch. Little Miss Marker is one of my favorite films (added to the already long list) because it looks great cinemagraphic-wise, the script is well done, and the performances are very, very good. I find it interesting that this version of the famous Damon Runyon story is the first to be released on DVD (2004). Don't miss this chance to buy it and own it. You won't be sorry.
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Finally, a Great Swashbuckling Movie!!
10 July 2003
The best thing about "Pirates of the Caribbean" is that it does THE one thing that seems to be rare in movies today - it actually tells a STORY! It is a true-blue pirate story - full of pirates, ghosts, treasure, ships battling at sea, etc. Johnny Depp is brilliant as Captain Jack Sparrow, playing his character with such a uniqueness and abandonment, he is unlike any character ever seen in American films. Geoffrey Rush's performance as Captain Barbossa is in the stratosphere - he plays his pirate character with such an evil subtleness that he is extremely convincing as a pirate. But it is the entire cast (including all the secondary quirky characters) that really makes this film. The screenplay by Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio takes the audience where every pirate movie fan wants to go.

Very impressive is the direction by Gore Verbinski, for the pacing of the film is near-perfect. He did a wonderful job with the swordfighting scenes - for they are not as overly choreographed as we have seen in recent films, but they have a real touch of reality to every move. The cinematography of Dariusz Wolski is first-rate, as this movie is visually wonderful to view, as the movie-going audience becomes swept-away into another world.

"Pirates of the Caribbean" is a movie for everyone. It may not be a perfect movie, but it's a great swashbuckling movie for the movie-goer who just wants to escape. Just the performances of Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush alone are worth the price of admission. Young girls seem happy with the addition of Orlando Bloom to the cast, then you add the very elements that pirate fans would want in a movie, you have the perfect ingredients for a wonderful time and experience at the American cinema. Hollywood should take notice - if a good story is told (and not rely solely on special effects, CGI and/or explosions), then people WILL flock to the theater every week and attendance records would be broken every year.
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Gosford Park (2001)
How a Movie Should be Made!
28 January 2002
Gosford Park is a perfect example of how a movie could and should be made. By Hollywood standards, the studio that made this picture did not have to mortgage Planet Earth to get it produced. In addition, this film did not sink to the lowest common denominators with bathroom humor, nor did it rely on spectacular special effects for it to be a great movie. Robert Altman's direction, which deserves much credit for this brilliant film, keeps us interested as the storyline moves along. Though the cast is full of many characters, we can easily identify with those characters. The characters in this film are distinctive from one another, which is one of the signs of a great film.

Once again, Maggie Smith, as the Countess of Trentham, gives her usual brilliant performance. She stands head-and-shoulders above the rest of the cast, which is the highest compliment since I was pleased with ALL the performances. Kristin Scott Thomas gives one of her best performances as the perfect 'snob'. If she is overlooked by her peers, it would be a shame, because she was incredibly believable. I usually do not take notice of the writing unless William Goldman is the screenwriter, but I have so much respect for actor Julian Fellowes for writing the film's screenplay. It is his first major motion picture success as a screenwriter, and what a success it is! Gosford Park is intelligent and witty. A good portion of movies today are not intelligent - or the writing tries to dumb-us-down to grade school levels. Gosford Park credits the audience for being intelligent enough to understand the intellectual plot, witticisms and one-liners. I have added Gosford Park to my long list of favorite films.
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A Film Star Ahead of Her Time
29 December 2001
This documentary on Mary Pickford is one of the best documentaries ever produced about a film star - period. Anyone who wants to know how brilliant this woman was about the art of filmmaking needs to view this film. The best thing about this visual recording of the life of "America's Sweetheart" is that it is honest, unbiased, and objective. We are able to learn all sides of Mary Pickford - some flattering, some not-so-flattering. Yet one realizes how passionate she was about the art of filmmaking - especially when it was in its infancy. But one can only truly appreciate Mary Pickford, the Artist, by viewing the clips of her films from this documentary. SHE was the actor who invented acting specifically for the motion picture camera. When you view clips of her films, you will be able to understand why. This documentary also explains how savvy she was as businesswoman, who demanded and received every penny she was worth. Yet, she cared about everyone who worked in the industry. As a director, I've had the privilege to direct several projects with the Motion Picture & Television Fund - an organization which provides care and living arrangements for retired artists who once work in the entertainment industry. This organization was created by Mary Pickford, along with other generous and caring people. Mary Pickford was a brilliant person, who had clear visions in every aspect of her professional life. She was a woman of film - who was way ahead of her time.
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A Good Old-Fashioned Escape Movie
5 August 2001
The best thing about "High Road to China" is that it does not try to change the world by making a social statement. It does not try to do anything but be an escape for moviegoers. Is it a perfect film? No. But this is one of my favorite films because it does just that - it allows me to escape. This much under-appreciated movie tells an excellent story: a rich brat living in the Roaring 20's hires a flying ace to find her father in a remote part of China. From a cinemagraphic point-of-view, it is a very good-looking film. Bess Armstrong never looked better on screen. And although her character of Eve Tozer is not always believable, I liked her as the rich brat who thinks everything has its price. I was never a Tom Selleck fan, but as Patrick O'Malley, he makes the perfect flying daredevil - a hard drinker who has trouble showing that he has a heart. The late Jack Weston, who was one of the better character actors of our modern times, is perfectly cast as the sidekick mechanic Struts. And the late Robert Morley provides good comic relief in the midst of being the heavy.

The movie simply looks good with its gorgeous locations and colors. The flying sequences - especially the dogfight between O'Malley and the German ace (complete with references to the famous Red Baron) is first-rate, and the battle scenes are shot very well. The pace of the film is not always even, but one sequence after another has our protagonists in some dire predicament. And it is fun watching them try and get out of each one. It should have done better at the box office, for the film is still a favorite of cable movie channels and people who discover it on video for the first time. I would recommend this film to anyone, because it is simply a little gem and a wonderful film for movie buffs who wish to escape.
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Pearl Harbor (2001)
Not a Critical Masterpiece, But....
26 May 2001
I have just returned from seeing Pearl Harbor, and as an 'indie' filmmaker, I feel that I am qualified to critique this film from a director's point of view. The film critics who have bashed this movie are way over the top with their criticisms. Yes, Randall Wallace's script has more romantic cliches than a Doris Day film festival; and yes, the love story took away from what should have been more focus on Japanese preparation before the actual sneak attack; and yes, the film could have been cut down to two hours and fifteen minutes and still have been very good; but I was not offended by the sometimes dumb dialogue. The corny lines were not as numerous as I had expected. Making a film like Pearl Harbor in the manner that Michael Bay did can take the life and breath out of anyone who is a director. I am sure he had plenty of help. For that reason, I was very impressed by the look of the film. From a cinemagraphic point of view, it was beautiful. The battle scenes were first-rate. For the men and women who actually went through the attack on Pearl Harbor, I applaud them for their courage of enduring that horror. I was very impressed with the special effects. I look for flaws in CGI's and could hardly find any.

Two actors in the film who went unheralded during the pre-movie hype should be commended for their superb performances. Jon Voight played FDR so well, it was scary. His short screen time made a huge impact. The very reliable Mako, a veteran actor, did a great job as the 'hard-as-steel' Admiral Yamamoto. Though Ben Affleck and Josh Harnett gave satisfactory performances, if they had more realistic lines to say during the love triangle scenes, their performances would have been more credible. I understand why Randall Wallace wanted the Cuba Gooding, Jr. character in the film, but it easily could have been taken out, and it would have not affected the story. For that matter, the love story could have been taken out and replaced by the real story of sailors trapped in a ship underwater for weeks after the attack, perishing around Christmas. That would have made the movie more credible, then it might be worthy of an Oscar nomination for Best Picture at the 2002 Academy Awards. As it is, it will clean up the technical awards come Oscar time.

Pearl Harbor is a film that accomplishes one thing - it entertains. Could it have been better? Sure. But most people do not have a clue the amount of heart and soul that goes into making a Hollywood epic. Despite the script, the man power and creativity by the people who are 'above-the-line' makes this movie worth seeing. I guarantee you, no matter what your opinion of this film is or will be, Pearl Harbor will not be forgotten for a long time to come.
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Napoleon (1927)
Abel Gance was a Visionist
21 February 2001
"Napoleon" is an absolute masterpiece in the world's history of filmmaking. In 1927, it was completely overshadowed by the technology of "The Jazz Singer". And that was a real tragedy for decades. Abel Gance is a director I will always admire for his innovation in filmmaking that still is impressive in the 21st Century. He mounted cameras on skis and swings to give the audience the effects that he wanted to convey, and it works perfectly. I was impressed by two great scenes - the 'ocean storm' scene and the final battlefield scene, which was done in the tints of the three colors of the French flag. Any aspiring director should study the techniques of Abel Gance, because the brilliance of this great director would be inspiring! Gance was also instrumental in perfect casting. Though Albert Dieudonne was older, as actors go, he was perfectly cast as Napoleon. If this was an American film and not a French film, I'm sure it would be considered as one of the greatest films ever made by AFI and other organizations.

I was glad that Abel Gance was able to see the affection that audiences had for this film in the late 1980's and early 1990's when the film went on a world tour with a world class orchestra. It would have been sad if Gance had passed on without knowing that his film was considered a masterpiece. If their was ever a silent film that 'pulls out all of the stops', this film is it. Viva Le Gance - the Visionist!
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A Perfect Script For a Near-Perfect Movie
25 January 2001
"Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" is one of the greatest movies ever made. It is my favorite film of all time, and the biggest reason for that is because of its script by William Goldman. It's very rare in film that a script has perfect lines in it from beginning to end, but this film is an example of what can be achieved by Hollywood screenwriters. It was William Goldman's script of this movie that sparked my passion for the American cinema. Though most Westerns of the cinema past have serious and gritty tones to them, this film has just the right mix of comedy, wit, and adventure. The greatest team in Hollywood history, arguably, is the team of Paul Newman and Robert Redford. The presence by these two Hollywood legends has help cement this film as one of the greatest movies ever made - according to organizations like the American Film Institute. The direction by George Roy Hill is first rate, and much credit also has to be given to cinematographer Conrad Hall, who did a great job giving this film the superior look of the Old West.

Katherine Ross adds to this film in the role as the beautiful Etta Place, as does the score, which makes us feel good about going to the movies. This was the film that, for the first time, got audiences to root for "the bad guys". This film should be shown in every film school to show film students how to make a theatrical film. I will always love this movie, and indeed, this movie is something special. It is also special to me because the REAL Sundance Kid was born in my hometown of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania.
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Chaplin (1992)
The Best of All Hollywood Biographies
17 January 2001
"Chaplin" is an incredible film about one of the most incredible and controversial icons in Hollywood history. Robert Downey, Jr. is perfectly cast as Charlie Chaplin, and it is his brilliant performance which earned the Oscar nomination that he deserved and received. Richard Attenborough did a masterful job directing this masterpiece of biographical films. Two actors who are underrated for their performances are Paul Rhys (who played Sidney Chaplin), and Moria Kelly (who played both roles of Hetty Kelly and Oona O'Neil Chaplin). Kevin Kline is amazing as Douglas Fairbanks. There is one scene in the film where Douglas Fairbanks, knowing he is ill, looks at his reflection in a mirror on the bar. That is one example of the symbolism throughout the film by director Richard Attenborough that is astonishing. Robert Downey, Jr., plays off the great Sir Anthony Hopkins will ease. It is a wonder that with all of his personal problems in his relatively young life that Robert Downey, Jr. doesn't appreciate the opportunities that have been handed to him. There is incredible talent in this film - including a previously Oscar-winning director and actor (Attenborough and Hopkins, respectively) and a female actor who would win an Oscar for another film that same year of 1992 (Marisa Tomei). Even Dan Aykroyd is almost overlooked as silent comedy filmmaker Mack Sennett. Through "Chaplin" we realize that it was Mack Sennett who discovered Charlie Chaplin as well as other comedy greats at the beginning of Hollywood history. "Chaplin" is underrated and sometimes underappreciated, but it is a brilliant film that should be considered a classic when the time is appropriate.
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"Priceless" is What Price Hollywood?
12 January 2001
The direction of George Cukor for this film is excellent. The three lead characters have three charming, yet completely different personalities. The great talent of George Cukor doesn't allow the energy of any of his characters to wane. The performance of Lowell Sherman only adds to the wonderful script, and only the innocence of Constance Bennett is able to carry the role of an aspiring starlet that makes it so believable. Neil Hamilton (later to play the 'Commissioner' on the "Batman" TV series of the mid-1960's) is excellent as the 'love interest'. But it is Lowell Sherman who steals nearly every scene in the wonderful jewel of a film. The story of this film is like many real-life stories of almost everyone who has ever worked in Hollywood - either in front of the camera or behind the lens. To me, this IS the original "A Star is Born", and that is why it is one of my favorite films of all time. From the appearance of Eddie "Rochester" Anderson to the Brown Derby to the scenes of the night life of the early days of Hollywood, "What Price Hollywood?" will always be a memorable film for me.
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Davies Never Looked Better
10 January 2001
This film is a very interesting look at Hollywood stardom during the Golden Age of Hollywood. Marion Davies never looked better. Although never the beauty that Jean Harlow was, Davies clearly holds her own in this picture. But certainly Bing Crosby shines as Bill Williams, whose opinions clearly come out of an alcoholic bottle. Director Rauol Walsh tries to keep the pace moving, although there are some very slow spots in the film. One scene that is memorable for all pure cinephiles is the "Going Hollywood" number that Bing Crosby sings at the beginning of the film. The real mystery is why that song was just a soundtrack song and not on America's hit parade. It is a memorable song. Despite that it is slow in some places, "Going Hollywood" is a film that I would recommend to anyone who loves movies from the silver screen of the 1930's. Since VHS copies of this film are difficult to find, look for it on one of the cable movie networks. It is well worth it.
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Pure, Raw Talent - The Way It Should Be!
8 January 2001
To most fans of television, Rose Marie will be forever known as the witty, funny 'Sally Rogers' on "The Dick Van Dyke Show" of the 1960's. But one would be able to appreciate her singing talent on a higher level by viewing the musical short, "Baby Rose Marie the Child Wonder" (1929). I was privileged to view this short subject at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills in the autumn of 2000. The Academy screened quite a few musicals from Paramount Pictures that evening, but "Baby Rose" was definitely the crowd favorite. That really pleased Miss Marie, who was also in attendance. When you view this gem of a musical short, you will be amazed at the incredible voice and performance of the very talented Baby Rose. Even more amazing, that in 1929, sound was not yet perfected, yet we hear every wonderful musical note from her. Had Baby Rose and Shirley Temple been the same age during the Golden Age of Hollywood, Miss Marie would have rivaled Miss Temple for the hearts of America. Baby Rose displayed pure, raw talent - something that is harder to see in today's actor. I thank the stars in heaven that this musical short was so keenly preserved.
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One of the Stooges' Funniest
21 December 2000
"Uncivil Warriors" is one of the funniest shorts that the 3 Stooges have ever done. Though "Men In Black" was nominated for an Oscar in the Short Subject category, this film could have been nominated as well in 1935. The Three Stooges displayed their greatest comedic energy between 1934 and 1937, and "Uncivil Warriors" is a gem among all of their films. The funniest scene is when the boys are masquerading as Confederate officers and Curly has to dress up as an officer's wife. But when the boys have to "produce" a child to keep up the masquerade and the child is black, that is hysterical. That was a joke that was very brave to do in 1935 - the same year that Southern theater owners didn't want their audiences to see a dance number between Shirley Temple and Bill "Bo Jangles" Robinson. Much respect goes to director Del Lord - for letting the Stooges go to the comedic edge of the universe. Also, much respect goes to actor Bud Jamison, one of the best straight men in comedy at that time. Had Jamison not passed away in 1944, he would have been very much a part of the Stooges legend. Now that television is editing all of the Stooges films for commercial time, it is better to get all of your favorite Stooges films on VHS or DVD.
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The first great sound film about showbiz.
14 December 2000
The best thing that I like about "The Broadway Melody" is the real depiction of all the fallacies that befall those who try to break into show business. It deserved the Oscar for Best Picture of 1929, and although Bessie Love shines, it is the beautiful Anita Page who actually comes to the forefront of the film. Her incredible beauty is the first thing one notices, and really sets up the other characters who come along in the film. For those of you who love the elegance of the Golden Age of Hollywood, this film is a must for your collection. Though sound was in its infancy during the late 1920's, the production crew and the director handled it quite well.
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