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12 Angry Men (1957)
Study in "Reasonable Doubt"
30 January 2012
Warning: Spoilers
This film, the title of which gives one the impression that it is charged with tenseness and suspense, calmly but steadily follows its plot line to its touching conclusion. It is a study in the legal concept of "reasonable doubt." The judge in his final instructions to the jury speaks of it, and one of the jurors asks another whether he understands the concept of reasonable doubt. The presence of a number of reasonable doubts heightens the pathos of a young man's life hanging in the balance of justice. All of this is hauntingly surrounded with the music of the oboe and bongo drumming, so characteristic of late 50s and early 60s films.
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Profiles in Courage: Edmund G. Ross (1965)
Season 1, Episode 19
The Best of the "Profiles in Courage" series
8 July 2009
Warning: Spoilers
The call to vote still rings in my memory: "Senator Edmund Ross, how say you? Is Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, guilty or not guilty?" "Not guilty!" Thirty years later we had a chance to see this very type of scenario reenacted in the Impeachment trial of President Clinton. The narrative ended with an eruption of outrage from the Senate gallery, and then there was a shot of all the brave senators who wisely voted to acquit Andrew Johnson shown at their desks in spotlights. This was indeed a profile in courage. In the case of President Clinton he too should be remembered for strengthening the American presidency by refusing to resign and holding out until he too was rightly acquitted as Andrew Johnson was. It was more of a nail-biter for Andrew Johnson, since he was acquitted by only one vote! Bradford Dillman did an excellent job as Ross. The episode begins with the firing of Secretary of War Stanton and demonstrates a Congress gone berserk. This is a documented case of tyranny on the part of an elected legislature.

We need these precious episodes of American TV released for the first time in DVD.
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Profiles in Courage: Anne Hutchinson (1965)
Season 1, Episode 9
A gem in a series of gems
8 July 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I do remember seeing this episode of "Profiles in Courage" and it didn't occur to me at the time--I was a grade schooler--that Ms. Hiller was Lady Alice More in "A Man for All Seasons." What is really sad is that this series was never available--as far as I know--in VHS or DVD. She who would become Dame Wendy Hiller gave an exceptional performance of a truly heroic American lady. I recall Michael Pate as the minister and Neil Hamilton as Governor Winthrop, but I do not recall Rhys Williams, who was also in the episode as Mr. Hutchinson. Those who love Americana as I do should clamor for the release of these timeless classics on DVD.
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New Kingdom as opposed to Ptolemaic Egypt
27 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I remember this film being on TV as a movie, which my mother didn't like, so I never got a chance to see it for over 40 years until now. I notice that this Italian movie is probably not about Cleopatra's Daughter at all. Debra Paget somewhat fresh from "The Ten Commandments" again revisits ancient Egpyt in this classic. The title of the Italian original is "Sepolchro dei re," "Sepulchre of the King" shows that this film could be about a New Kingdom pharaoh (16th to the 11th centuries B.C.) rather than about a Ptolemaic one (4th to the 1st centuries B.C.). I liked the film, and I was glad to be finally able to see it. A famous reviewer says that the film is sadistic.
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Very Disappointing
26 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
While I am greatly disappointed in this the sixth and final installment of the Star Wars saga, I am still a loyal fan. Episode III is not as good as Episode II, which is not as good as Episode I. As with Episode II, Episode III seems to be too concerned to tie into the story of Episodes IV-VI. This compelling need to be a tie-in, bridge episode is the greatest flaw in Episode III as it was in Episode II. Episode III is the weakest installment by far. It seems as if George Lucas has become tired of the story and wants to be done with it.

The human characters lacked humanity. The action scenes were excellent, but the human drama of the situation was passed by. There were so many missed opportunities.

The greatest failure of the piece was the lack of believability of the love between Anakin and Padmé. There could have been more time spent in showing scenes of their relationship, their marriage. The tragedy of the destruction of their love for each other could have been explored. They ended Episode II with their marriage, well, why not start Episode III with them together? At least a few flashbacks. A major point of the film is the irony of Anakin's desire to protect Padmé that destroys her as well as himself. This should have been emphasized by more footage.

There should have been more of a presentation of how Palpatine became a Sith Lord or how he recruited apprentices. If you have read the novel of Star Wars IV A New Hope, you will discover that the Emperor is Palpatine. The scene in which Anakin finds out that Palpatine is the Sith Lord should have been followed with a flashback that ties together the connection that Palpatine had with his accomplices like Darth Maul, Count Dooku, and Lord Grievous. I guess that when Palpatine tells Anakin of the Darth that tried to have power over life and death, they could have portrayed this. Perhaps they could have had Palpatine himself be the apprentice that kills this other Darth.

Master Yoda made the point that a prophecy could be taken a right way and a wrong way. This was not brought out more clearly. Anakin was the promised one: Anakin would bring order by reinforcing the dark side of the Force, and he would kill the Emperor in Star Wars VI Return of the Jedi. Would he do it as a Jedi Knight or a Sith Lord? There might have been more workings of the Jedi Council to show why they did not trust Anakin. All in all, the Force itself is a disappointing god or almighty power. Perhaps we could have had more of a feel of the workings of the dark side by exploring a day in the life of a Sith.

In short they should have planned on making another movie! You would then have the perfection of the final installment being Episode 7, the number of perfection. Of course, if there would be Episodes VII, VIII, and IX, being the foreseen third trilogy, then there might have been more balance to the Force! This final episode is the weakest and the most forgettable. Why doesn't George Lucas just pull this movie, destroy it and do a new Episode II and Episode III. Maybe add an Episode 3.5!

The film was an exercise in how humans become machines or non-human creatures. The dehumanization is seen in Obi Wan's simply walking away from the burning Anakin->Darth Vader. With how he is presented you seem to care even less than Obi Wan did. There does not seem to be happiness or compassion anywhere in this galaxy far, far away long, long ago.
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