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The Lost Prince (2003 TV Movie)
Gorgeous presentation
12 January 2006
This is a truly wonderful production with brilliant, almost surreal touches that lift this drama about the crowd.

I would love to know if any of Prince John's drawings survived. They had, or at least the ones used for the film had a Chagal-like quality that was both very graceful and artistic and filled with insite as to the inner character of the subjects. "The Tsar Swimming" and "Fat Mary" are two example. His father wearing a crown far too big for his head is a masterpiece.

I also wonder if Prince John wasn't a savant. His drawings were exceptional and far ahead of his time and his musical ability was,(if the film properly portrayed this talent)quite remarkable.

What is wonderful about this film is the sense that John despite everything managed to form his own little community on his "Estate", surrounded by people who really did love him. I also have the feeling that he was quite a happy child most of the time.

His parents were no worse than other Royal parents and a great deal better than most.

Special mention should be made of the marvelous Bibi Anderson who played Queen Alexandra so perfectly. At the funeral she even managed to look almost exactly like the Dowager Queen.

Someone mentioned that they didn't believe that the Tsar and the Tsarina would have acted as coldly toward their relations when visiting at Cowes. Unfortunately, that's just how they acted. They did believe that they were seated higher at the table of the Rulers of the World than their cousins in England who had to make-do with smaller versions of their own vast palaces in St. Petersburg. After all the Tsar was the last Absolute Monarch in the world. He even had to approve of every marriage and every divorce. No decision could be made unless he gave his approval. His cousin George had to actually deal with a rabble of advisors and that intrusive Parliment.

The scenes of the Tsar swimming were especially out of touch with reality, just as the Tsar was out of touch with the reality of his situation.

The Russian Grand Duchesses were so dream-like in their lovely summer laces and huge flower-like hats. All of John's imagined scenerios were touched with this combination of wistfullness and joy.

I mention these things because they haven't been mentioned before and they are what I will bring with me forever. Those haunting images of the children running on the beach, the flower-hats in the flower-garden and John peeking through the rails of the balcony at the beautiful lady at the banquet who smiles and waves back at him...a small and precious moment to be treasured.

See this film and fall in love with a child that refuses to be "Lost".
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Stalingrad (1993)
A harrowing tale of young men being betrayed and slaughtered
9 January 2006
This film affected me on many emotional levels. I saw the results of the war in East and West Berlin in 1957. While in Berlin I lived with a girl my age who lost her father in the battle for Stalingrad. Her tales made my hair stand on end as he was one of the many young Germans send there to fight as a punishment for errors,(read that as failure to win), in other battle zones.

It isn't well understood, but the Eastern Front was used as a threat and as a punishment by Hitler. Even Schindler in the film Schindler's List used that threat on the train station in order to get his bookkeeper released from the death train.

There are two scenes that will haunt be for the rest of my life:

The scene where Lt. Hans von Witzland, played by a very young and splendid Thomas Kretschmann, and the Russian actress Dana Vavrova who plays Irina.

That scene is so emotionally charged that it left both actors physically shaking. I can't imagine having to repeat that scene more than once. To have to hold that raw, totally exposed feeling/expression and body language while lights are adjusted and a different angle is used must have been physically and mentally exhausting for these two brilliant actors. They perform a brutal Dance Macabre that is both horrific and fascinating.

This scene is no longer about an enemy and the one who has been conquered. It is about a young man desperate to find one moment of humanity on an endless nightmare and a young woman who hates him and herself and yet can not resolve her situation. That he is a German and she is Russian is not as important as that they are both souls in torment with no way out.

The human agony of that scene is superior to anything I have seen in over 60 years of watching movies.

The other is the final scene between Dominique Horwitz and Kretschmann as Fritz and Hans clinging to each other overwhelmed and miniaturized by the vast Russian winter.

That final scene reminds me of Napoleon's death march from Moscow in 1812. The results were to same. No enemy can come marching into Russia and live to march out again.

I began watching this film firmly committed to cheering the Russians and hating the Germans.

By the end I was crying for them all.

That is the message of this fine film. War is a waste...a waste of human lives, of property, and of moral and religious focus.

This is a classic anti-war film not unlike All Quiet on the Western Front or What Price Glory.
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A waste of time except for Thomas Kretschmann
6 January 2006
Unfortunately Stewart Townsend can't act. Unfortunately Ms. Theron was bored when this film was shot. Unfortunately Ms. Cruz had disconnected for most of her scenes.

The photography is lovely and the scene with two rabbits on leashes was fresh and amusing. BUT that's not a reason to see this film.

Thomas Kretschmann is the ONLY reason to watch this film and his final scene as Ms. Theron's German Officer lover is marvelous and gut-wrenching. Now Thomas Kretschmann CAN act! Even Ms. Theron dialed in for this scene and she was convincing for the first time in the film.

For Thomas Kretschmann fans this film is a feast that leaves you hungry for more. For anyone who is looking for an honest film about the role the French Resistance played in WWII, check out The Last Metro.
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The film that gives Mr. Rochester his motives and makes Jane Eyre more understandable
9 June 2003
Anyone who has ever read Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte's brooding masterpiece, knows the adult, world-weary Edward Rochester. They also know about the secret locked in the tower room of Thornfield Hall. What Charlotte never fully explains is how Mr. Rochester came to be the aloof, stony man he is and how is wife came to be mad.

Well, The Wide Sargasso Sea attempts to answer those questions. In my opinion The Wide Sargasso Sea does an excellent job.

This is a vivid and sensual film, and depending on the version you see, VERY explicit. But in this case I think the nudity and sexual activity is justified and not gratuitous.

Nathaniel Parker gives a stunning performance as Rochester. I recommend this one.

I like to watch The Wide Sargasso Sea first and then put on my VHS of the splendid A&E production of Jane Eyre with Ciarn Hinds as Rochester. The two follow each other beautifully and seen together, the puzzle of Edward Rochester is solved, at least to my satisfaction.
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Nathaniel Parker as Rob Hall is the reason to watch this film
2 June 2003
After reading many comments about this film I see that most of those who saw the film thought it a tacky and not very well-done attempt at cashing in on a real tragedy. I agree in part.

First of all, I watched Into Thin Air with Jon's book on my lap. The resemblances were, for the most part, stunning. Nat Parker looks so much like Rob Hall they could have been brothers. Horton isn't as tall or as handsome as Fischer, but fairly close. I wished they'd had Horton wear Scott's trade-mark pony-tail. And so it goes.

Many people objected to the non-Everest setting. For that you must consult the Miramax documentary filmed at the time of the tragedy. I have that film as well.

Too me the Into Thin Air group did a good job of simulating the conditions on Everest and the quiet heroism of both Hall and Scott at the end.

The real reason to watch Into Thin Air is to watch Nat Parker as Hall. He has superb control and is beautifully understated. He always makes you believe that he could guide you up anything and take you back down again, safely. He conversation with his wife is one of the most remarkable scenes I've ever watched. Intimate, warm and sadly filled with hope that is all bravura on Hall-Parker's part and all faith in her husband's ability to survive on Mrs. Hall's end. This scene had me in tears, just as the real voice of the real Rob Hall recorded in the Miramax documentary made me cry.

Not a great film by any means, but still worth watching.

This is a cautionary tale. Don't take silk sheets, coffee makers and computers to Mt. Everest, unless you are willing and able to carry them yourself.

The exploitation of the Sherpa's by professional climbing teams is well known. Tenzing Norgay cautioned his son, Jam-Ling NOT to become a beast of burden when he climbed Everest for himself.
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A wonderful continuation of the epic story of The Lord of the Rings.
14 January 2003
I was worried that Peter Jackson might not get Shadowfax right. He DID! I was worried that he might not get the battle of Helms Deep right. The battle of Helms Deep is splendid, thrilling and has moments of great emotional depth.

I was worried that Golum would not come to the screen the way I had him pictured in my mind. When I saw the film I thought to myself, "Gollum's REAL!"

This is a film to see many times, for it is so full of magic, humor and monumental moments that one viewing won't be enough. The Lord of the Rings-The Two Towers will be watched and loved for many generations to come.

Now I can't wait to see The Return of the King!
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I love the play by Oscar Wilde, but the additions did not bother me.
22 August 2002
Despite the nit-picking by some critics, I found the newest film version of The Importance of Being Earnest to be fresh, funny and very SEXY.

Colin Firth and Rupert Everett have starred together in several different films and they make a great comic team. Colin's timing is perfection and Rupert is particularly droll. Dame Judi Densch is very dry in her role as Lady Bracknell. If there IS a weakness in this beautifully photographed film it is with the ladies playing the romantic foils for Firth and Everett. I would have prefered English actresses.

I saw this film in Ann arbor, Michigan while on a visit. The audience was very attentive and laughed a lot. A great date film!

The Importance of Being Earnest was playing in Madison, Wisc. when I was there last week. Seems the college towns are the best audiences for this witty film.
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Wings of Fame (1990)
Reminds me of No Way Out and other avant gard films.
25 June 2002
Wings of Fame is a discussion of the fleeting nature of fame and how little it actually means in terms of happiness or fulfillment.

Peter O'Toole is a great actor. Colin Firth is the author of a book titled Wings of Fame that the actor claimed as his own work.

The actor is at the height of his fame. The book would have given the writer the fame he deserved.

In a moment of anger and opportunity, the writer shoots the actor at a film festival in front of his adoring fans. Then the film begins in earnest.

The two are linked together by the act of murder. The journey they take to discover themselves and each other is fascinating.

Many philosophical questions are asked, but no conclusions are drawn. The one thing that is pointed out graphically is that all famous people fade in the memory of the living once they are no longer producing anything new.

The film is slow paced but loaded with acid wit that Dorothy Parker would admire. It also contains brilliant acting by O'Toole and Firth.

The cinematography is wonderful and full of references to modern art.

This is not a film for everyone. But those who love films with depth and challenge and those who love great acting will find a great deal in Wings of Fame to applaud and think about for a long time after it ends. I was grateful for the privilege of watching two great actors explore the nature of fame and its consequences.
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A witty new version of the Wilde classic.
11 June 2002
I have read that some critics object to the added scenes in this film version of Oscar Wilde's classic play, but they didn't bother me that much. Usually additions DO annoy me, but when you take a play that is basically housebound and put it on the screen you DO need to move the action to other locations for the sake of interest if nothing more.

I found the two men, Jack Worthing/Colin Firth and Algie Moncrief/Rupert Everett absolutely flawless. Firth is more subtle, and his comic timing is beyond praise. Everett may be leaning too heavily on his familiar delivery, but he's fine in his role. The two men together are a pair of comic, lyric loons, especially when trying to talk themselves out of an increasingly more impossible situation!

I thought Reese Witherspoon was a bit cautious with her accent which made her less spontaneous than she might otherwise have been, but she too, was delightful.

Dame Judy Densch is perfect as Lady Bracknell, especially when she intones the famous lines (which I am not quoting accurately): "...losing ONE parent is indeed sad, but losing BOTH parents is CARELESS!..."

This is an enjoyable summer film that is beautifully acted, photographed and costumed. And, no one does more for a plain white shirt that Colin Firth!

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Fever Pitch (1997)
On the surface, a film about The Arsenals and their fans, but REALLY about clinging to the one thing that binds you to a lost parent.
28 May 2002
Fever Pitch may not be a great film, but it is certainly a wonderful, charming, pitch-perfect film.

On the surface, it is the story of a Peter/Pan who can't give up his obsession for a local Football Team.

The man in question, (an incredibly handsome Colin Firth), is a teacher of English at the high-school level. The teacher next door is a lovely young woman with the knick-name of "iron britches". Of course the predictable happens.

What is unpredictable is the painful growth of Colin's character, and his slow progress in being able to give up his team just enough to make room for an even greater and more important love, the teacher next door.

What I love best about this film is that Colin Firth here is NOT Mr. Darcy. Mr. Darcy would NEVER let his Lizzie see him in his Fire Engine RED and white Arsenal Boxer Shorts!

Here Mr. Firth is rough-edged and scruffy. A man who prefers to hang out with his mates drinking beer and holding a fatalistic view that his beloved Arsenal will NEVER win the Championship.

The charm of the film lies in the growth of this man/child and the patience and understanding of the woman who loves him and their slow but certain progress from attraction to real, lasting LOVE!

See it!! I happen to love soccer. All my children played it and now my grandchildren play it. I believe the rules are different for British Football, but those difference didn't take away from the thrill of watching Arsenal in action!

Any golf,football or baseball "widow" will understand and love this film!
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The Turn of the Screw (1999 TV Movie)
Yet another version of this famous ghost story/psychological thriller.
1 May 2002
Henry James wrote, perhaps the most famous ghost story in the world: The Turn of the Screw.

The suggestion in the book is that the governess might be having hallucinations brought on by sexual hysteria, OR she might, indeed be caught between the living children under her care, and the dead lovers who communicate with each other through the children.

Benjamin Britten wrote an opera that is absolutely bone-chilling called The Turn of the Screw. Many films have also been made either called The Turn of the Screw or, in a brilliant adaptation, The Innocence.

In The Innocence, Sir Michael Redgrave is the owner of Blye and the person who hires Deborah Kerr to be in complete charge of his niece and nephew.

In this new Masterpiece Theater adaptation, called The Turn of the Screw, Colin Firth plays The Master of Blye who hires Jodi May as governess.

Redgrave is older, detached and uninterested in the workings and daily problems of Blye and simply wants someone to run things for him.

Firth is young and VERY sexy. So much so, that he uses his sexuality to convince a naive and hesitant May to take the position.

This sexual attraction, on May's part, is underlined with a scene where she enters The Master's bedroom at Blye, and touches his clothes.

But the haunting of Peter Quint and Miss Jessel are presented as VERY real, and very threatening.

What is merely suggested in the older Kerr version, is played out with more emphasis in this Masterpiece Theater version.

The sets are lush. The setting beautiful. The children too perfect. Flora is smug and deceptive. Niles is heart-breaking in his corruption.

The question remains. Was the governess mad or was she overwhelmed by the evil of Peter Quint? Were the children possessed or was the governess?

An excellent version, although there are scenes in the Kerr version that are truly jolting.
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Bridget Jones' Diary contains the funniest food preparation/eating scene since Tom Jones!
26 April 2002
I must have the recipe for: Blue Soup, Congealed Green Gunge aka Capperberry Gravy and the orange, "...most incredible s***" served at Bridget's birthday party.

This is a delightful film from beginning to end. Based on Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice, this one alters some of the situations and characters without changing the central theme or the outcome at all!

My only complaint is that, after seeing Colin Firth in a wet shirt in Pride and Prejudice, I would MUCH rather have seen HIM again in a wet shirt, (idea: the Green Gunge explodes all over Mark Darcy's nice white shirt, AHHH, the possibilities), than Hugh Grant.

The final 10 minuets of the film are worth the price of admission and/ or the price of the terrific DVD and it's marvelous documentary on how the film got made.

The director's comment track is priceless as she practically drools when she says, "Oh, Collin is SO sexy here...!"

Rene Zellwegger (sp), is a warm, vulnerable, believable Bridget, and the always fabulous Gemma Jones and Jim Broadbent make charming and fey parents.

Hugh Grant is a fine Mr. Wickens character, full of insincerity and sexual aggression.

Love Bridget's mad dash after Mr. Darcy, through the snow not quite dressed but determined not to flub-up again!
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Conspiracy (2001 TV Movie)
A chilling recreation of one of the most atrocious meetings ever held.
25 April 2002
This made-for TV film, now out on a brilliant DVD is so important to our understanding of history that I urge all to try to see Conspiracy.

Branaugh, Tucci and Firth deliver lines that curdle the blood. Branaugh says his role as General Heidrich is the most disturbing he ever had to play. Colin Firth notes that the most terrible part is that these monstrous acts are debated with no "frothing at the mouth, which makes them all the more terrible."

Firth is pure ice here. Not the handsome, mysterious Mr. Darcy or the sensuous Valmont. He is not the lyrically loopy Edward Pettigrew of My Life So Far. Here, in this film, he is a noted and brilliant jurist who wrote the laws that separated the Jews of Germany from the "pure" Germans of Germany. He was PROUD of his laws.

Only when Heinrich, in a private conversation, mentioned that there were "plenty of meathooks available for those who did not go along with his (Heinrich's)program", did Firth's character, Dr. Stuckert, flinch.

I've never seen Colin Firth this way and I am impressed with his absolute skill as an actor. He nailed this difficult role, as did the entire cast.

A very difficult film to watch, yet a real MUST SEE.
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The true story of one of the founders of BBC/TV and Chairman of The Royal Opera House, when he was a child growing up in Scotland in 1920
25 April 2002
This is one of the least know, but most charming films I have ever scene.seen.

Every child deserves to have a father like Edward Pettigrew (Firth). As Frazier describes his father, " Father is an inventer and a genius!!!"

The film begins with a toddler Frazier, disliking his rest time, decides to have an adventure by crawling around the roof of the family castle in Argyll, Scotland. Father climbs down the steep roof with a rope attached to his waist and rescues wee Frazier, all the while barking like a dog. Frazier, (who makes comments throughout the film), observes that at that time in his life, he and his father ONLY communicated in DOG, the language they both spoke best.

Naturally the film has a romantic and potentially explosively moment between Father and his brother-in-law's fiance- a 24 year old French muscian who is quite beautiful and charming. She is also very wise for her years and managed to defuse the situation before it blows up. Never-the-less, the wife, played beautifully by Mary Elizabeth Mastreontonio, finds out at a crucial moment in the film and those rock-solid marriage nearly ends at a most tragic time in young Frazier's life.

But father, being a genius, finds a way to heal the wounds caused by his split-second decision to give in to his baser instincts. The WAY he gets his wife to forgive him and laugh again is pure magic.

Colin Firth never looked so handsome. Not even his glorious Mr. Darcy is so appealing. This role gives him the opportunity to show all his sides. His glorious, looney sense of humor as well as his gift for drama without words. Here he is active, leaping into a freezing cold Locke, running up and down stairs, inventing things, saving his son, dancing with his wife. He gets to laugh and cry and be HUMAN.

For those who discovered Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy, My Life So Far is the glorious update!

My Life So Far in DVD has a place on honor in my collection of over 500 DVD's and VHS' One of my favorites, and, I hope soon to be yours.
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Gorgeous film about not-so gorgeous people-based somewhat on a REAL person.
25 April 2002
First of all, Colin Firth's character's name is Geoffrey, NOT RALPH.

I am probably the only person in the world who cried when his character died. I didn't give a fig about his adulterous wife or her lover, the reptilian-cold Count! If you KNEW what the REAL man was like you would wonder at Catherine's choice.

Geoffrey was a brave man, traveling under false colors. He was a true patriot. Catherine alludes to her husband's true occupation several times. "He's not the fool he pretends to be..." and "Oh Geoffrey, how you do so love disguises..."

Anyway, he was the character most harmed by this torrid affair, besides all the people who were killed as a direct result of that affair.

I loved the secondary characters, Hannah and Kip, however. They were genuine and passionate and marvelous. Binoche and Andrews were wonderful together.

The music and the cinematography are what really make this film stand out...at least for me. I realize this is a minority view, but there it is.
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One of the most perfect adaptations of Jane Austen's work ever brought to the screen-TV and now on a marvelous DVD!
25 April 2002
As others have raved, this film is perfection with some small quibbles I have about casting, that need not be discussed here.

Both leads are ravishing! Collin Firth can say more with those penetrating eyes of his, than lesser actors can express with thousands of words of dialogue.

Jennifer Ehle is the perfect Elizabeth- a natural beauty who is part Tom Boy and wise beyond her years.

Both the mother and the father are also splendid and the rest of the large cast are wonderful.

The centerpiece of this film is The Netherfield Ball scene. Firth is heart-stopping in his formal black suit. He glides across the ball room with his tossled curly hair and blazing eyes like an elegant panther stalking Elizabeth.

Their dance together puts me in mind of Amy Lowell's famous poem, Patterns. The last list is: "...Oh God! What are patterns for?" Here Darcy and Elizabeth have a verbal sparing match as exceiting and charged with sexual tension as any duel, all accomplished while gracefully weaving themselves between other dancers and briefly coming together for another exchange before being separated again. A scene I could watch every day for the rest of my life.

The other scene, of course, is the, (by now) FAMOUS "wet shirt" scene and the subsequent meeting between Darcy, now dripping wet and his hair in his eyes, his shirt clinging to him, and a startled Elizabeth who very properly, doesn't know where to place her eyes. Their embarassed exchange is charming. His hurried re-appearance, now in proper garb tells the audience that Elizabeth has won him, although he won't quite admit it at this moment, and she believes him to be lost to her forever.

Just a brilliant piece of film making.

Collin Firth establishes himself as one of our foremost actors by not copying Olivier's Mr. Darcy, but by making Darcy his OWN! Now, all actors in the future who are asked to take on this role will shudder because, Firth has already done him to absolute perfection, just as Firth himself shuddered at the thought of following Olivier.

Don't miss this gem!!
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Valmont (1989)
A less sadistic version of the French classic Les Liaisons Dangereruses
24 April 2002
I think I've seen all the variations on a theme of this story, which, in turn, is a variation on the Don Juan legend. Of all of them, I like this one best.

Colin Firth is a marvelous Valmont. Firth is a VERY subtle actor. Early in the film, he pretends to be helpless in the water, unable to swim in order to elicite a response from his victim,(Tilly), but when his actions do not receive the response he expected, his face changes immediately. He is no longer the smiling, charmer, but a man furious that his plan was thwarted. These changes in expression happen in an instant. The alteration of his features is absolutely chilling.

It is, to me, far more effective to have the villian of the piece LOOK like an angel, than to look like what he really is (Malkovitch).

Annette Benning, with her delicate beauty and dimple certainly doesn't look like the scheming, sexual predator that she really is.

There is one scene in which Firth really does a virtuoso performance. He dances with four women in turn. First, he dances with his elderly Aunt. This lady still loves to flirt. He is graceful and charming and flatters her outrageously. Next he dances with his 15 year old prey. Here he cappers like a 15 year old, which delights and disarmes her. Next, Valmont dances with Benning, his former lover. Here he is remote and aloof. It is SHE who flirts with him! He withholds what she knows should be hers. THEN he dances with the woman he has fallen in love with. He has a bet with Benning that he can bed this married, pious lady. In this dance he is sensual and genuine. SHE reacts with the most rapturous expressions and movements I have ever seen on screen. Meg Tilly and Colin Firth dancing in this sequence are breathtaking to behold.

Because all of the feelings of the characters in Valmont are so beautifully acted, Firth, Benning, Tilly and Balk are all believable and because you believe in them you also feel their pain.

Each character suffers because of decisions they have made, over and above the seductions that do take place.

A marvelous film that I recommend to those over 18. There are some explicite scenes in this film that are too hot for young people.
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This film reminds me of my father's family!
6 March 2002
I have never seen a film before that was so familiar to me. I see my Aunts and Uncles and my Bubby and myself as I must have been as a teen. The only difference is location...they went to Lake Geneva, Wisc. from Chicago.

The time in which this film takes place is also familiar. I was living in Wash. D.C. in the 60's and was just a bit too old for the hippy movement, but many of my friends actually went to Woodstock!

The cast is wonderful and the film is made with care and affection for all these people.

The story is one of discovery and growth on the part of all the players. A young wife who had her first child when she was still a teen-ager, now feels trapped by her domestic life. Her daughter is just becoming a woman. Her husband is a workaholic who slaves to provide for his family and has little time for enjoyment himself. The son worships his father. The father's mother, the "Bubby" knows why he did not go to college but keeps that and other things to herself, until the proper time.

Then the wife meets the free-spirited "Blouse Man" and, for a few days she samples what it's like to be free.

The consequences of her action affect the entire community and life lessons are learned.

I highly recommend this film. It is quite erotic in places, but that fits so well with the story line that I do not find it offensive.

The nicest thing about this film is that you like everyone, and at the end, the Bubby, husband, son and daughter all come to understand the attraction of "The Blouse Man".
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Brilliant adaptation of the Book- JRR Tolkien would be pleased!
5 March 2002
I have loved The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit and all the writing of Tolkien since the publication of The Lord of the Rings in the '50, when I was in college. Every one in the dorm was reading it and once I got started I could not stop.

Since then, I have read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to my children many time. Now my oldest son has continued the tradition, reading to his children.

When I learned that an attempt was going to be made to use actors and recreate Middle Earth without the use of cartoons, I was both thrilled and nervous. Could Peter Jackson and his talented group of actors, writers and other creative people REALLY bring this superb story to the screen?

I am happy to say, they HAVE! Every character looks, sounds and acts exactly as I have pictured them all these years. The ensemble acting is beyond praise. These actors ARE Gandalf, Strider, Frodo, Sam, Legolas, Merry, Pippen, Galadriel and Arwen et al.

I urge all to see this wonderful film! I can't WAIT for The Two Towers!!
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The Cowboys (1972)
At this time in US history, we ALL NEED John Wayne more than ever!
18 September 2001
I received a notice from imdb telling me I had not posted for a little while. No. I have been a bit distracted by what has happened in NY.

I have a son in NY . His girlfriend was missing for 3 days. We have located her. My oldest son used to be part of the Defense Department with an office in The Pentagon. His former office is now a hole in the ground and the unit he worked with except for his immediate supervisor is now dead. My son is now with the Justice Department-Illegal Immigration. He is ALSO an OFFICER in the Air Force National Guard. He is married and has 4 small children. Our entire family is...distracted, grieving and worried.

I'd love to have Wil Anderson standing watch over me and mine and my country right now. But at this time, I don't feel that talking about movies is what I want to do. It is a trivial enjoyment that I will, no doubt resume at a later date.
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The great Jack Cardiff was the cinematographer for this film.
7 September 2001
A rather sad film with several stellar actors near the end of their careers, playing men of action near the end of their own careers.

The great cinematographer, Jack Cardiff, adds a touch of class to this otherwise ordinary film with some moody, misty shots of fields at dawn, gardens at sunset and fireworks.

I find it almost unbearable to watch Cornel Wilde, Rex Harrison and Jose Ferrer in this film. It should have been called: Die Gotterdammerung-The Twilight of The Gods-(French-version).

Lots of sword-play and some near-charming dialogue. Not as sharp or as witty as it could have been if it had been made 10 years earlier.
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The Wayne Family needs to open the vault and get this legendary film back to the public as a DVD or VHS before people forget about it.
7 September 2001
I saw The High and the Mighty when I was 16 in a theater when it first came out. Every woman walked out in love with John Wayne and every man wanted to BE John Wayne. We all hummed, whistled or la-la-la'd the theme song all the way home.

I would love to add The High and the Mighty to my collection of John Wayne films, but the Wayne Family Trust has got to allow this film to be converted to either a DVD or a VHS format. I know they are waiting for the time when they can squeeze the maximum number of dollars out of it, but if they aren't careful, they will wait too long and the world will have moved so far beyond the ideas, concepts and technology of the 50's that the film will not appeal to the younger generation of purchasers of movies.

It's more than just Wayne's performance that is being withheld from the public. I am also a great admirer of the work of the great British actor, Robert Newton and he turned in a marvelous performance here. So did Jan Sterling, Claire Trevor, Paul Fix, Lorraine Day and all the rest of the cast. Their fans deserve to see these actors in this film too. The only actor I could live without is Robert Stack. He has never done a thing for me. But the film as a whole is wonderful and should be released...ASAP
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Robert Newton's signature role.
7 September 2001
When people think of the great British actor, Robert Newton, they think of him as Long John Silver. He put his own personal stamp on this role and made a living off variations of this role until the end of his life.

What most people don't realize is that his brutal portrayal of Bill Sykes is really his most polished and psychologically penetrating performance on screen.

When Newton signed on for the role of Long John he had pretty much given up on acting. Read David Niven's moving profile of Robert Newton in his book, Bring On The Empty Horses.

That said, Newton is splendid in Treasure Island. He uses his stature and intimidating personality to good advantage. He also shows the world how much he loved children. As Niven remarked about Robert Newton, "He was the kindest of men..."
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The Quiet Man (1952)
Not a film we could make today, for many reasons, but one I'm very glad WAS made!
6 September 2001
The plot has already been covered many times and so has most of the cast.

One comment sticks in my craw...that The Quiet Man isn't really Irish and that the members of the cast, slip in and out of their accents in a careless manner. Whoa just a moment there folks.

First of all this film was directed by John Ford, who was born in Ireland. Maureen O'Hara and her two brothers, who play secondary roles in The Quiet Man, were ALSO born in Ireland. So were Barry Fitzgerald and his brother, Arthur Shields, who plays the Episcopal priest against the Catholic priest of Ward Bond who is also Irish. Who would have the nerve to say that Victor McLaughlen's accent wasn't authentic? He was born in Ireland and won a Best Actor Academy Award for his portrayal of Gipo Nolan in The Informer-a film about the early days of "The Troubles" that just happened to be directed by John Ford.

The extras were chosen from The famed Abbey Players of Dublin and locals from the village of Cohn (sp), where the film was shot. The old man with the beard is the brother of the director, John Ford, himself a STAR in the silent days of film in Ireland.

That leaves poor Mildred Natwick with her accent at sixes and sevens. She was impeccable as The Widow Trahern, the woman Big Red Danaher hopes to marry some day, when he gets up the nerve to ask her properly.

To modern eyes, The Quiet Man IS sexist and brutal. No modern woman, outside Ireland, would stand for such treatment. The sad truth is though that a women in Ireland are STILL considered to be the property of the man she marries and of the Catholic Church. Both expect her to produce many children and have her husband's supper on the table when he gets home. If you don't believe me, just watch Daniel Day Lewis films-My Left Foot or In The Name of the Father.

People who are offended by the social order outlined in The Quiet Man will ALSO be offended by MOST of the films of the 30's, 40's and 50's from every corner of the world.

For the rest of us, The Quiet Man is a feast for the eyes and a tonic for the soul. It is FUN to watch John Wayne stride across a field dragging his recalcitrant wife along.

The windy kiss is gorgeous and the kiss Wayne gives O'Hara AFTER he kicks down the door in great Rhett Butler form, is amazing. When John Wayne kissed a woman, she stayed kissed for hours. When he picks up O'Hara and tosses her on the bed, AFTER THAT kiss, HER reaction is marvelous! No woman should miss The Quiet Man for those scenes.

And, when was the last time you saw anything about Ireland where the Catholic Priest and the Episcopal or Anglican Priests were FRIENDS who could attend parties together and where no one was shooting at each other because of the church they attended? For that alone, The Quiet Man is a marvelous film. I love it more every time I watch it.
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3 Godfathers (1948)
The desert of the South-West at its most beautiful and most deadly!
6 September 2001
Three men ride into town.They are on their way to rob a bank. They stop to admire a sign and have a conversation with a man pruning roses. He turns out to be the law of this town of Welcome, Arizona. His name is B. Sweet, but his wife calls him Pearly.

The three men are John Wayne, Pedro Armendariz and Harry Carey Jr. The lawman is Ward Bond. His wife is the charming Anna Lee.

This is a character-driven film. It is also an allegory and a lovely metaphor. One of the most poetic and sentimental films John Ford ever directed. Still, Three Godfathers has a great deal to recommend it.

The story is both cruel and tender, just as Arizona was just before the turn of the century. The people of that time quoted their Bible chapter and verse and this script is realistic in the way the various characters speak and perform.

The greatest character in this film is the desert itself, a place that both gives and takes life. The cinematographer captured the desert and surrounding landscape with the eye of an artist. Even the great Jack Cardiff could not have created a more gorgeous film. Three Godfathers reminds me of Black Narcissus in the way it is filmed.

John Wayne is wonderful as one of the godfathers. His struggle to save the baby is sweet and terrifying. His agony toward the end is real and so is his determination to find New Jerusalem.

The scene where Wayne diapers this new-born is delightful. He literally beams as he smears the child's backside with grease, according to the instructions found in a baby book packed with clothes in anticipation of this new baby! As Pedro says, "This mother, she had a heart!" Wayne loved children and I wonder if this baby was actually one of his own. He has such genuine fun playing with him.

Ward Bond is gruff, stern and charming in one of his best roles.

Three Godfathers was dedicated to Harry Carey and introduces his son, Harry Carey Jr. Harry Carey Jr. had a pleasant singing voice and a kind of innocence that works in this film. Pedro Armendariz is the one elected to help the Gringa give birth to her first child because he is the only one of the three with any experience. He does a fine job as the sympathetic outsider who offers aide and comfort to Mildred Natwick.

There is a gritty, authentic feel to this film. The people LOOK like old photographs. There is dust on everything. Most of all it is hot and arid. Water is more necessary to life than food and without it you will die. Little Robert, William, Pedro Hightower DID have six precious cans of condensed milk to get him through, and he had John Wayne as one of his three Godfathers. What more could he ask?

Three Godfathers is not a great film. It is not profound, really. It is a good, honest look at a time gone by and the people who shaped the future of this country. It is corny and sentimental. It is also one of my favorite films. I reach for it every Christmas Season. I recommend this one highly.
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