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Distant Bridges (1999)
The price of friendship
DISTANT BRIDGES is a wistful tale of deep friendship between two English lads of the so-called "Lost Generation" of World War One. Sometimes maudlin, sometimes stark, but often nostalgic and sweet, it recreates a time and place little conceivable to the generation today, for it was a time of strict morals, noble sentiments, and flawed but earnest people set against the then incomprehensible 'War To End All Wars' of 1914. A very good cast takes one into some sepia toned vignettes of a time when motor cars were new on the streets, the schools had wooden desks with ink wells, and a stolen teenage kiss was a shocking breach of form in the England and Empire of the day.
The secondary male lead, played by David East, narrates the story as a series of flashbacks upon the occasion of his centennial birthday and recounts the soul mate of his youth played by the lead, Richard Cambridge, a lovable rascal who stole the kiss from his girlfriend and later left her with his son. The skillful direction and wonderful recreation of the setting in an old English town meeting the new fact of distant war is richly detailed and forms part of the social panorama of this story of belonging, growth, duty, honor, and love and loss through many years and how the vicissitudes of life warp us and yet form us. The sweetness and innocence of youth in that day is contrasted with the brutality and futile carnage of war (though the images are never as gross as most contemporary films), yet the theme that life must go on continues through the fine photography and rich musical score. The film does what any good film does: it makes you care about the characters and wraps you up in their lives and times.
The Weather Man (2005)
Dismall describes it
Nick Cage has made a great many memorable films, but this stinker is not among them. I am sure that this opus came at a time of few suitable scripts coming his way, but he should have suffered the drought rather than submit to this humiliation which his adequate performance could not save.
First of all, the story, slim as it is, really has nothing to with weathermen or meteorology, though the term is mentioned once or twice. Instead, this opus is a 'slice of life' look into one man's trials of life and thereby wants to appear noble. Hogwash. It is a mean spirited, voyeuristic gaze into various miseries, and licks its chops at each of the gratuitous profanities and vulgarism which some foul mouthed scripter larded the script. Shame on them, but of course, such would-be writers are beyond shame. Should we fault Cage or noted actor Michael Caine for taking on their thankless roles? Let's just say that they couldn't turn down the millions of dollars the were offered, much as Cages character couldn't turn down the money he was offered which further divorced him from his children and completed this portrait of a looser.
How many ways are there to dislike this waste of film and time? Let me count the ways: 1) There was only one scene of bare, bouncing breasts which will be cut from its television showing at absolutely no loss to the trivial story! 2) But wait! Will it ever make it to TV? Not unless they are willing to loop (rerecord) virtually the entire sound track to eliminate all obscenity, vulgarity, and ugliness spewing from almost all the players in almost all their lines. I realize that this is not a 'children's film' but it could have stepped in a sewer to be the all important 'Relevant' without bathing in it.
3) Do you know what the epithet "Camel Toes" means? Well, unfortunately I now do, and while I had seen its manifestation too many times in life, I was blissfully unaware that some moron had cooked up a term for it. Here the Weatherman's unfortunate daughter is held up to ridicule by it, but not by anyone on screen. She is publicly laughed at by the script! Clearly the asinine and salacious writers expected us to drool along with them in their lechery. The character may have been a sad one, but she deserved better than the slop that was thrown her way.
4) Do you like commercials? Well you better, else you will be nauseated by the 100 some Product Placements here as was I. It is bad enough that many of them are visuals with brand logos somehow in view, but what passes for a script forces the actor to mention the brand names dozens of times. Boy, the sponsors must have paid off the producer/studio well for this two hour commercial.
5) Do you like mean tricks perpetrated by cowards? Then this flick will be right up your alley, for there many scenes of the hapless Weatherman being pelted with food -- still in their identifiable wrappers (more commercials). This juvenile technique is supposed to garner sympathy for those in the public eye, but the story does each assault with relish (no pun intended) and cruel glee that we are clearly expected to bray along with the miscreants, generating no sympathy for their target Now we will hear of a rash of such incidents in life as depicted, nay, promoted in this sadness.
Could this travesty have been saved by better writing? Hardly. There is really no story in this chilly tale set in Chicago in the chilly winter. The production is miserable in all respects, and we come away more miserable for waiting futilely for something nice and human to come along. Disappointment is too mild a word.
Miss Foster swims amid red herrings
FLIGHT PLAN didn't have much of a plan, though it was over plotted, This is a hazard for any thriller since the writer must throw enough red herrings into the protagonist's path so that he, or she, in this case, will have to keep on guessing along with the viewer. In this mediocre flick there are schools of herrings swimming in the plot, but that also makes for a lot of plot holes to stumble (or swim) into. I have a hunch that if we could have a look on the cutting room floor, we would find a lot of those plot holes, and so a lot of the blame for the dizzying pacing and discontinuity of this lies with the editor.
While the supporting actors are adequate to the task, the inter-sexual Miss Foster strikes her usual one-note stance and adds nothing visually to the scene, though the producers probably thought she was the only female 'star' with enough 'name' to look man enough to be remotely believable as a "propulsion engineer." But then this is the day and age where the fiction exists that 'Every woman is a superwoman!' hence the technical impossibility portrayed of such a person knowing all the unmarked 100-some circuits on a board in the attic of the plane, far from the engines she supposedly designed. Great suspension of disbelief is required to enjoy this flick even on a childhood level. If you only seek to wile away two hours with a free TV movie, then this my be acceptable over even lesser fare, but don't waste your money to buy it -- unless you were thinking that this must be the film in which Miss Foster would have learned how to portray a lady (a-k-a: a woman); you will have to wait longer for that--and a better movie.
Elephant Walk (1954)
Vivid tale of comeuppance, lust and beauty
ELEPHANT WALK may not be the acme of literature or of film, but it is great entertainment in the quasi-melodramatic mode. It is the story of love, both genuine and illicit, as well as overweening ambition, devotion, and the arrogance of personal tyranny. A previous reviewer, John Mankin, questions why the central focus of the film, the mansion called Elephant Walk, should have been built by the former owner, the "governor" the late Tom Wiley, right across the elephants' traditional path to the major source of water, the river. To miss this point is to essentially miss the point of the whole center of the film: the hubris of man. That his son, played by Peter Finch, should become enthralled by the super image and enigma of his revered father, is not unexpected, since the son was without a mother growing up in a foreign jungle with only his father and his father's rowdy 'boys' club' as his role models. The point of the father was that he was a self-made man who would tame nature to his liking, and that liking was not just a tea plantation upon the lands the elephants once dominated, but also that he would dominate even the large bull elephant that led the herd, and thus he would dominate his son and all around him, and so we join the tale after the elephants have been denied the crucial dry season access to their pathway to water. Who could know that this dry season would last so long and what the elephants would do in desperation to get water? This is the nexus of the film: what will animals do to get water; what will humans do to get power or love? Ceylon, today's Sri Lanka, is the huge island off the coast of India where the plantation is located and one quickly learns that it is the real scenery of the story, not just the expenses of Miss Taylor. Were it not for this exotic location (much of the film was shot in Ceylon), and the magnificent "bungalow" this would have been just another potboiler. One must recognize the atmosphere created here as integral to the time and place, as it illuminates the latter day wealth and power attained by the English immigrant 'conquerors' that were part and parcel of the British raj. It is only such wealth gained by the use of virtual slave labor that one could build so magnificent a residence of ebony, teak, and marble. Not to be overlooked are the wonderfully carved Jalees (grille work window and doorway borders) evidently specified by art directors J. McMillan Johnson and Hal Pereira and obviously made by the cheaper labor on the island. Such craftsmanship reveals the careful attention to detail that these men sought.
For those immune to the blandishments of time, place, and architecture, there is always the allure of Miss Taylor, as she marries a man she doesn't really know and is tacitly wooed by a another man, against the background described, and under the overarching tyranny of the legacy of a man deceased. As I said, it is not great literature nor even great film, but it is great spectacle long before that term was debased by the special effects extravaganzas of today.
This is one of those films made to be seen on the giant screen of an outdoor drive-in, not on the home TV, so arrange the largest screen to see it on to fully appreciate its fine camera-work and scope.
The Climb (1997)
1950s American characters, well acted
While some aspects of the plot of "The Climb" may be predictable, this is a character film and the characters are well drawn and well acted. The lead actor, the young Gregory Smith, is especially excellent in the role of a seemingly typical youth of 1959, eager to display his courage in a typical escapade of boys his age: the climbing of a decommissioned radio tower to compete with other kids in the Baltimore neighborhood where the story is set. He is complemented by veteran actor John Hurt as a crusty old neighbor who seeks solace in drink until Gregory's "12-year-old" character comes into his life via an arrow through his window! The two become pals of sorts as Hurt helps young Gregory in his aim to be the first kid to climb the rusty tower, slated for demolition soon. This time-is-of-the-essence element moves the story along as it is also part of Hurt's dying character. This is what keeps the vignettes of 50s America and side lines of the peripheral characters in proper scope and duration. Perhaps the most multilevel performance is that of Gregory's father played by David Stratharin, a man of evident decentness in his portrayal, and, one would think from this, in his personal life as well.
Gregory Smith went on to other films, and is perhaps best known in the TV series "Everwood", but he is at his most attractive and engaging in this role in "The Climb." Dave Stratharin has done many fine performances as his page on this site makes clear, but this is one of his most nuanced roles as others have noted. We could have done without the boobs scene between Hurt's daughter-in-law and the priest, but I suppose it was supposed to lighten up a rather sober story line, and with its omission, this is a also a good film for kids. This flick is neither high drama nor a laugh fest, and it may not be a classic, but it is thoroughly enjoyable as the rich character study it is.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954)
The past meets the future in a gripping epic.
The Walt Disney film of 1954, "20,000 Leagues Under The Sea" is nothing short of a masterpiece within its genre. While comparing it to "Gone With The Wind" or "Citizen Kane" might be done by others in calling "Leagues" a 'masterpiece', it would be comparing apples to oranges, for this epic, while not overlong as are most masterpieces, it is completely contained to tell a gripping story with wonder acting, production values and the special effects of the day.
It is had to know where to begin to list the wonderful achievements here, especially in adapting a book of almost a thousand pages, much of it filled with endless lists of the fish and fauna of the sea, of which Jules Verne was especially fond. Such was unfilmable, of course, and the script writer, Earl Felton, was wise in paring down the verbosity of the novel, which, of course, was the usual for the prolix Victorian style of Verne's day. From that wonderful opening of the titles shown against lush drapery illuminated by rippling water reflections of the undersea cast upon it, to the beginning of the inspired, majestic score by Paul J. Smith, one is transported to a fantastic time and place and the artistry to come is well intoned. Customarily, the Director is given the lion's share of the credit for a film's success, but here it is an almost perfect melding of the story, the acting and the visuals as well as the music that combine with seeming effortlessness to entertain.
James Mason as Capt. Nemo is superb, with his wonderful bearing and diction lending the aura of both contained madness and yet sympathetic grace to a character who could have been so easily overplayed. Disney wisely selected Kirk Douglas and Peter Lorre as the physical foils of Nemo and to provide the comic and action relief. Had this not been done, the intellectual bearings of Nemo and Paul Lukas' Professor Arronax would have overloaded and stilted the film, rather the way they do in the novel. Some take exception to the device of "Esmeralda" the seal, but that too is a needed counterpoint to the otherwise dark theme of the implied mission of the Nautilus: the destruction of warships that spread "man's inhumanity to man." Such is the skill of the spare dialogue in the film that one never is hit over the head with the sermon of the hopelessness and wickedness of war and the nations that sponsor it. This film carries the message of the novel, but it never looses sight of its first purpose, which is to entertain. Even the implied nuclear destruction is not trumpeted, but only alluded to, since such energy source was unknown to Jules Verne in the 19th Century, of course, but was highly topical in the 1950s.
One of the glories of the movie is the marked artistry in all the careful details in the film. It was just then that the USA was planning its first nuclear submarines, the first of which was even named the "Nautilus" in memory of this immensely popular film. But the art director, John Meehan, the production designer, Harper Goff, and the set decorator, Emile Kuri, were never carried away by allusions to then modern technology, but kept faith with the setting of the day, by making the ship a wonderful creature-like form, the interiors a skillful blend of needed science for function, coupled with a lush decor that bespoke not only the Victorian times, but also the sensitivity of man of its genius of design. Look at the touches: the electric iris covering the massive bubble window, the fountain in the captain's drawing room, complete with an artistic pipe organ properly intoning Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D-minor, as most appropriate. Even the uniforms and upholstery are embroidered with the 'N' of Nemo's monogram as are the galloons on the edges of the draperies. The inventiveness of the electric charge upon the hull is also one of the clever devices to invoke the future, yet help make the existence of the undersea ship believable.
Everyone who sees this epic will always remember, the night scene of a hand-to-tentacle fight with a giant squid, as truly unforgettable and most appropriate again, for it was only a few years before that the first complete corpse of such a squid was found in complete form and thereby documented what others had only written of. This film exceeded its class in that day and age, yet even if equal actors could have been found for the earlier versions, they would have been too early to truly depict the vision of Jules Verne's technology of the future.
Some have criticized that the entire novel was not on film, but were the entire book to be filmed, it would exceed five hours, and Disney knows that even with the finest production, a film must be limited to approximately two hours in order to get both an audience willing to sit through it, as well as exhibitors willing to show it. In making a movie, the constraints are much more severe than in writing a novel; a movie is a collaboration of many people and many conflicting desires and egos must be assuaged. The flow of an entertaining story is paramount, since this was never to be a documentary. Each actor's agent works to try to get the maximum time on screen for his client, which gets maximum credit and fee for the actor. The limitations of filming such an imaginative novel also created large costs which the producers would try to show on screen to justify it all to the accountants, since a film is created with the aim of making a profit for the studio and its investors. We must agree that they succeeded in making one of the most interesting and visually spectacular films ever made, whereas the book contained a great deal of unfilmable ichthyology that was more of an excursus into the expertise of Jules Verne than any dramatic device. All in all, I think that were Jules Verne alive in 1954, he would have been well pleased with this celluloid version of his epic story.
The Truth About Charlie (2002)
A travesty of a remake puts all to shame
REVIEW: The Truth About Charlie, for IMDB, July 13, 2004
As "rosscinema" says in a previous post, "Why did they bother?" Well, they bothered for the same reason virtually all Hollywood films are made: to make **MONEY**, lots of MONEY! No one in their right mind would attempt to duplicate two so magic stars as Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn from the original "Charade", but some studio type thought they could cost in on the deserved reputation of the original for excellence, and make a bundle before the critics and the public got to see what a stinker this would-be remake is. Mark Wahlberg may have a certain presence, but a Cary Grant his is NOT and never will be; and that woman taking Hepburn's part was simply pathetic, what with her little moues of pseudo-British mouthings. Audrey, who was the quintessence of delicate dignity and charm, would spin in her grave, if she could. And with the change of dating to reflect, not the Second World War, but post-Vietnam, the entire tenor of the original was changed from a charming 'escapade-avec-larceny', to a mad chase with the modern dictum of 'diversity' with a cast more suited to a tract on multiculturalism, than anything having to do with telling a coherent story! The 'stamps' were well explained in the original, but here they are a throwaway plot device that more confuses than illuminates. And 'la belle Paris', mon Dieu, how it is ignored and abused in this tawdry effort; what was charming even in the face of murder and crime in the original, is merely seedy here. There is no magic between the stars as in "Charade", just some groping. And where was the duplicate of the crafty Walter Matthau character? Tim Robbins is a good actor, but here he is no replacement for the Mr. Dyle. And that dismal woman who is the police inspector is merely awful in this tiresome flick. If you have never seen "Charade" you must not let this failure make you think the original is as bad, for you would be denying yourself one of the finest delights of the modern screen, and the sight of two of its greatest luminaries, Grant and Hepburn, in very good form!
Moulin Rouge! (2001)
A gaudy pastiche of songs a century from the setting!
MR is definitely a "Spectacular Spectacular" to quote the play-within-a-play, but I could not call it a great musical, nor a great movie. While Kidman and McGregor do creditable jobs, neither have great voices, though they are probably enough for this opus. This is one of those cases where the sets outclass the story (what little there is of it) and the musical selections leave one in a weird time warp. It is a case of "Camille" meets "Cabaret" with dazzling but outlandish dances from a cabaret (which is what MR, which means "Red Mill" --as in a grist mill-- in French), with a subplot of Kidman's character getting "consumption" (tuberculosis) right out of "Camille" to provide the pathos (if not bathos). While the exterior sets are as outre as they are dazzling, it is the theatre set that especially takes one to the 'Gay Nineties' or 'La Belle Époque', as the Parisians of the day would have called it, in that it mirrors a risque Montmarte of Paris in 1900 before the decadence of that misty time was shattered by the harsh realities of the First World War. The term 'courtesan' is too nice for the prostitutes of that day or any day, but if one can suspend disbelief engendered by the raffish songs of our day against the opulence of that day, one can at least enjoy the movie on a strictly visual level. No, it did not deserve Academy Awards, but maybe an 'A' for effort.
By the way, the ornate House Curtain (stage front drapery) is of some of the highest quality to be seen, but was once a standard of gorgeous theatres, and would cost about $50,000 today! Even its simple lambrequin in the position of the Grand Drapery did not diminish the opulent galloons used to create wonderful borders of metallic gold above the deep, bullion-style fringe upon the red velour, which was rigged in 'Opera' or 'Butterfly' pattern. For those who love this art form, there is an entire booklet with dozens of photos of such from the Theatre Historical Soc. of America in Elmhurst, Illinois 60126-2806 USA, (they have a web site) titled: "Grand Drapes, Tormentors, and Teasers" (types of stage draperies) by the late Terry Helgesen of Los Angeles.
The Velvet Touch (1948)
Nifty murder mystery in beautiful theater
The murder mystery genre is carried out here well by some capable, veteran Hollywood regulars. While this was not Rosalind Russell's high point (that occurred in the film "Auntie Mame" ten years after this one was made), she does acquit herself well as the diva restless to go her own way and thus finds herself in a trap of her own making. The police detective captain played by Sydney Greenstreet is right up there with his unforgettable presence in the "Maltese Falcon" but here he parries the dialog with oiled charm in contrast to La Russel's soigne bearing of hateur a la the 'grande dame' actress she portrays. While the cast is uniformly good, and the story told in an unconventional way, it is not these things that stand out for me, since such a setting of a murder in a theatre was done before in such as the "G-string Murders" and others.
What does stand out for this film, however, is the background of a truly sumptuous theatre that you would swear was the real thing. Since I write about the draperies and passementeries used in theatres (as a member of the Theatre Historical Society of America), I was anxious to learn just where this monument with its gorgeous textiles was, and inquired of the American Film Institute through their web site. Their librarian graciously replied from their "AFI Catalog of Feature Films" that the theatre building was in fact a very elaborate set (said to be the largest and most elaborate to date)! They quote articles in the "Hollywood Reporter" of 1947 and '48 as their source of the details of this 1-1/2 million dollar film. The multi-swaged Grand Drapery and the stage's House Curtain with its 3-foot appliqued border above a 2-foot fringe is but an example of the gorgeous textiles they had created for presumably just this one use, along with all the elaborate decor and detailing. The attention to detail was so great that it is still hard to believe that one is not in a real building! Such work today would command many millions more dollars, but I guess that Hollywood could not arrange to get a suitable New York 'Broadway' theatre for rent for the filming at the right price and time, so they splurged on this set which is among several other good ones in the film. For those who appreciate movie settings as much as the story and acting, this one will please you.
Since You Went Away (1944)
A MAUDLIN FLAG-WAVER SUPREME
A maudlin flag-waver supreme, this is strictly for the ladies, and their handkerchiefs. This World War II saga is set during the time the 'boys' are away at war and is primarily a long lament for them, as well as a recruiting poster and a "do-your-bit-for-the-war-effort" rally. If this film doesn't cause you to enlist in the military, start a scrap materials drive, or volunteer in a soldiers' hospital, nothing will. A capable and attractive cast helps this 2-1/2+ hour sermon to nationalism. Today, it would be offensive to the Japanese when one man mocks the epicanthic eye form of them and refers to them as "Japs."
Guy Madison makes his film debut in the short bowling alley scene with a few lines, and he was actually in the military at the time (wasn't everyone?). He should have been used in more films (rumor has it that the Hollywood execs said he was too handsome to be realistic, though it must be admitted that he tends to be a little bit wooden) but did perhaps his best work in another WWII film: "Till The End Of Time" two years later. "Since You Went Away" was also the debut film for another actor also neglected because he was excessively handsome: John Derek as an extra, but I couldn't find him in the movie as shown un-cut on PBS. He was the father of Bo Derek, but we won't hold that against him. Max Steiner's score is beautiful, but far from greatness, yet if I am not mistaken, a part of it constituted the basis for the main theme for the 50s TV series "Father Knows Best." In a way, this film is a time capsule, and can be enjoyed on that level alone.
passable murder mystery in front of classy theatre
This is a fairly good murder mystery with plenty of 'red herrings' thrown in, but what interested me most was the location of the filming: the ornate theatre box office shown in many scenes. This unusual island box office had a dome of stained glass in intricate pattern, as did the entry doors. There is nothing as of this date in the sidebar links at the "film location" button to indicate anything, but the credits of the movie do list both Canadian and American locations. So, I looked through my books of theatres and confirmed from the photos on page 53 of the 1983 book "Turn Out The Stars Before Leaving" by John Lindsay to be the LOWE'S YOUNGE ST. theatre in Toronto, referred to as the "ELGIN" in the film. The other theatre scenes may or may not have been filmed there.
The Smallest Show on Earth (1957)
Charming, and a wonderful for lovers of theatres.
'THE SMALLEST SHOW ON EARTH' may not have been exactly that since there were certainly smaller, but it was a case of a fictional small "electric theatre" (the once British way of differentiating a movie theatre from a legitimate theatre or 'music hall,' as they designated their version of the American vaudeville). This delightful British film is as heart warming and sometimes hilarious as the other reviewers here describe, but it is the wonderful interaction between the story, the sets, and the actors that balance the film and make it a classic. This 19th century 'kinema' was styled in the manner of the traditional British 'music hall' of live performers, but held early projection equipment (hence the double entendre about projectionist Peter Sellers' 'equipment.') Such asides will be over the heads of the kiddies, but the pleasant pacing and careful dialogue of the actors will please the adults for whom this comedy is intended.
The story of a young couple inheriting a cinema and finding that it is not quite the money-maker they imagined would have been prosaic were it not for the clever settings and the three fossils who maintained the old "Bijou" (French for 'jewel'). If it were ever a jewel, it had lost its luster as the years passed and patrons flocked to the newer nearby movie palace, the "Grand." Desperate to keep their jobs, the 'fossils' (veteran scene-stealers: Peter Sellers, Margaret Rutherford, and Bernard Miles) took pains to refresh the old place to please new owner Bill Travers, a too seldom used actor of mild presence but uniquely suited to this role. The character of the Bijou's "commissionaire" (doorman, janitor, and boiler keeper) Miles in the end tries too hard and creates the only jarring note in the film, which is otherwise tender and memorable. The device of having latter day elevated trains roar past the cinema was inspired and created some memorable scenes, as when the building shakes to the slow start up of the train, or when Bill Travers' character is almost rattled off the ladder as he attempts to relight the old roof sign. There are many wonderful sight gags and other fine bits that one will long remember.
For those who also like old theatres, it may be of interest to know that the exterior of the Bijou was actually a set created at the meeting of two existing elevated train bridges on Christchurch Ave. at the Kilburn LT station in London. The interior was also a set, but so well done that you would swear that you were in a real 19th century 'opera house.' The design is thought to be derived from the real Palace of Varieties at Camberwell. The movie palace with the pipe organ - "the Grand" - was actually the Gaumont Palace (later the Odeon, now Apollo) in Hammersmith, London. And the use of the fictional name of "Sloughborough" for the town is another little joke since it means 'low place or mire.' These details can be confirmed in the journal of the British "Cinema Theatre Association's" magazine "PICTURE HOUSE," No. 19, Winter 93-94, pages 37 and 38, (where there are photos in this and the previous issue) furnished to this reviewer courtesy of Mr. Brian J. Hall of England.
One reviewer said that the only flaw was that the story was too short and I must concur in that, and that is the only real flaw I can find in the film as well. There is a difficulty, however, in appreciating the quality of the film from the most common versions of the VHS-NTSC format videos now available. IMDB/Amazon lists two ASIN numbers of versions made by the same French Canadian firm, Madacy, which produced them in EP speed, rather than the usual SP speed that allows for quality. Since Amazon never indicates the speed of a tape, I cannot tell if their third variation produced by 'VCI Classics (American Prudential)' is also in this slow speed of poor quality. Not only is the image poor, but the sound is downright difficult to understand! Amazon's sister company, The Internet Movie Data Base, now lists two CD versions about to be released, and we can but hope that they were made from restored masters and are the pleasure that the original film is.
P.S.: Two years before the movie "Majestic" (starring Jim Carrey) debuted, the director wrote on the THEATRE HISTORICAL SOCIETY'S web site that he was searching for information about historic theatres for his forthcoming unnamed movie. This reviewer responded with information and said that the description of it he gave sounded something like "The Smallest Show on Earth." He responded that he was amazed that anyone remembered the 1956 British film, but that it was indeed an inspiration for his movie. Look closely at the lobby in "Majestic" and you will see it clearly resembles that in the 'Bijou,' even if the facades were much different. These films turned out very differently, but at least the architecture rewards lovers of theatres
The High and the Mighty (1954)
Muzzy Marcellino's movie!
The High and the Mighty might be called Muzzy Marcellino's movie since it was his wonderful, masterful whistling of the theme that made this movie not just good, but great. It is a pity that his talents were not more appreciated, but then most people think that anyone can whistle a sonorous tune. Far from it! Very few people could whistle in orchestral color and range which is what this man did for Dimitri Tiomkin's wonderful score which well deserved the 1955 Academy Award for "Best Music" and Scoring. Yes, John Wayne did indeed make the film his own and turned in a multi-layered performance, and yes, this is the granddaddy of the 'disaster films,' which has never been surpassed in quality, but its distinction is not the primacy, nor the casting, nor even the story by a professional pilot, but the distinctive music - distinctly rendered - which one may not notice at first, but which imbues this non-epic with the caliber of stardom.
I can remember when I was in high school in the '60s some ten years after the movie was released (I have never seen it since) and Mr. Marcellino was a guest at one of our assemblies and demonstrated his amazing versatility at whistling and even performed the letters of the alphabet as an example of how he had mastered his craft. His range was phenomenal as he portrayed the instruments of the orchestra and then performed the entire Rhapsody in Blue as well as popular works all by whistling without accompaniment, but admitted that the theme for TH&TM was his proudest achievement. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has never recognized the contributions of all musical forms to the success of pictures as gauged from their mention in passing at the annual telecast Oscar ceremonies, but if they had, this singular performance would have been guaranteed a Special Oscar. Truly, once it is heard, neither it nor the film can ever be forgotten, but will haunt one for years to come! This classic film is the fitting epitaph for Messrs. Wayne, Tiomkin, and Marcellino. Would that we all could be remembered for such an achievement.