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Great Story, Great Music
20 July 2006
I saw this film when it first came out, and didn't know what to expect exactly. What followed the Overture was one of the most pleasurable filmgoing experiences I have ever had. A lush score of songs and music by Britisher Leslie Bricusse (of Doctor Doolittle & Wilie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory fame as well as making his mark on the Broadway musical scene), and scored by the incomparable John Williams. There's not a bad song in the entire film. Plus some of the most exquisite cinematography, costume design and filming locations I have ever seen in one film. Not to mention the Academy Award nominated performance by Peter O'Toole, and the equally strong performance, in my opinion, by the wonderful Petula Clark. Now, given that Peter is not the same caliber a singer that Petula is, he still manages to sell his songs to the audience, and that, after all, is what it is all about. This is a faithful adaptation of the excellent book by James Hilton, and deserves to be treasured for generations to come. I recommend this film for family viewing, though most men will consider this a 'chick' flick. But if you like a truly great film musical, then this film is for you. But be warned that a standby box of Kleenex is just as important as popcorn for your viewing pleasure.
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Down Under...Everything!
20 July 2006
Now this movie gave me nightmares when I was about eight years old. But when I saw it again in my thirties, it still kinda creep-ed me out, but it also gave me a laugh attack. Though no doubt innovative for it's time, it has lost some...OK a lot...of that now. Still, I recommend this movie because it does evoke an atmosphere of delicious creepiness, laced with just the right amount of claustrophobia (it takes place down under...everything), and afraid-of-the-dark-jitters. Strictly low budget fare, but interesting ideas, cool camera work, along with effective lighting make it work. I don't remember the music, but I am sure it is pretty standard for such a flick of the mid 50's. When the Mole Men come up out of the...well I don't want to spoil it for you, but it really scared me as a child for weeks on end. Nearly drove my parents crazy with that one. It has a pretty decent ending unlike most B-flicks of that era. Check it out if you can find it, and have plenty of snacks on hand. You may want to throw some popcorn at the screen to try and distract Wally and The Beav's dad, Hugh Beaumont, so the Mole Men will thankfully get him, and relieve you from his, now this is where I clear my throat, acting.

James Van Pelt from Tulsa, Oklahoma
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No Rest For The Sane
18 July 2006
I first saw this small gem of a film at a drive-in when it first came out. It was listed only as 'plus co-hit' along with a well publicized film I won't mention here. As it turned out the well publicized film was a real stinker, and my friends and I almost left, but after some discussion we decided to stay. And were we glad we did. Let's Scare Jessica To Death introduced us to the wonderful Zohra Lampert, and let us see the schoolteacher from The Waltons (Mariclare Costello) in a whole new light. Now to the film itself. This is proof positive that one does not need tons of money to make a good movie. It has a very decent storyline, some good suspense elements that keep Ms. Lampert busy trying to decide if she is insane or just has an overactive imagination, some really good actors (and some not so good that I presume are locals), interesting camera-work with a lot of hand held shots (though, at times, the lighting is a bit overblown), great scenery, strange electronic music that somehow fits in well to what is going on on the screen, creepy sounds throughout, and a good ending that begs for a sequel (though none was ever made of which I know). I and my friends talked about this film for weeks, and quite frankly, found it to be a lot of fun. Over the years I looked for this film to buy, but to no avail, however I have since learned that it is being released on DVD near the end of August, 2006. Yippee! I will by this film and show it to all I know. It came on TV back in the eighties, and I taped it, all cut up with commercials, and have had to make two subsequent copies since that time. And every time I watch it I think of two things, 1. It is still a fresh view, and 2. It is only the slightest bit dated. And though I am not usually drawn to this particular kind of horror film, it has a special place in my heart, and conjures up memories of drive-in movies on warm summer nights. And that in itself is a wonderful thing. I recommend this film highly, as it is a perfect example of independent film-making with a smart edge and an everlasting soul. James Van Pelt of Tulsa, Oklahoma
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Free Dance Lessons=Love
8 July 2006
I saw this film after I picked up the Soundtrack Album at a local five and dime in 1964. It had several haunting jazzy tracks and I grew to love this album. Then late one night in 1965 it came on television and I was there falling in love with this off the cuff little film. It had the bare bones feeling of every indie film I came to love in later years. Filmed in black and white, it came across the screen as a slice of life piece and etched its way into my soul forever. It is a thoughtful little film incensed with a raw reality from its film noir lighting, accentuated by interesting camera angles, and it's haunting score. I have long since lost that soundtrack, and have never seen this film as being available on video, and it's too bad, too. Because this is a film that captures what big city life in 1960's America was all about. Life, love and a touch of deception. It reminds me of the late John Cassavetes' early work in its style and execution, though it was not one of his projects. James Van Pelt of Tulsa, Oklahoma
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