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10/10
Clever, Crafty, Terrific
24 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This is Danny's best, most successful comedy of his career. Everything works here, as a dazzling number of sight and setup routines unfold, one after another.

Thanks to the brilliant writing (and directing) of Melvin Frank and Norman Panama--with undoubtedly help from Sylvia Fine and Kaye himself, "The Court Jester" is a fine spoof.

The entire cast is perfect, and an extra word for the good-natured Basil Rathbone, who allowed himself to be spoofed at the end. So many reminiscences of Basil doing climactic swordplay with the likes of Tyrone Power and Errol Flynn come to mind as the intricate battle progresses with Kaye.

And kudos for Danny's sword work, too. Very difficult stuff to pull off in this typically extended final duel--and do those sabers fly! "The Court Jester" is one of filmdom's comedic gems. And don't forget, the flagon with the dragon has the brew that is true!
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"Stranger in the Night" Episode
22 August 2005
This made-for-TV episode on the "Fox Hour of Stars" (re-telecast August 2005) is a shot-for-shot, word-for-word retelling of the fox film classic, "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir."

In Gene Tierney's place as Mrs. Muir is Joan Fontaine, giving a heartfelt performance. As the ghost sea captain is Michael Wilding, "replacing" Rex Harrison. As Mrs. Muir's bogus suitor, Tom Conway is cast--in the same role previously played by his brother, George Sanders. (And I must say the resemblance between the two brothers is at times uncanny). Elsa Lancaster is the trusting maid.

This is an excellent hour-long adaptation, with strong production values and fine acting. In fact, it is remarkably successful, rivaling the high standards set by the film.

Interestingly, no mention is made in the credits of the source material, as though the intent is to evade acknowledging the original. Whatever the case, this episode is an outstanding adaptation of "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir."
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Neat Early Fleisher Film
19 August 2005
Young Director Richard Fleisher, working closely with ace cinematographer George E. Diskant and fine film editor Robert Swinck, creates a nifty train thriller in 1952.

"The Narrow Margin" gets in there, does what it has to do, and gets out in just a little over an hour. A taut script, stark lighting, sharp photography, and no-nonsense editing elevate this to a high plane.

The cast consists of otherwise support players taking on leading roles, and doing a great job. One of Fleisher's best works. Only slight drawback: its generic title, while seemingly "coinable" and appropriate, is also surprisingly forgettable; accordingly, one might be hard-pressed to recall its title later on.

Chalk "THe Narrow Margin" up as a first-rate "sleeper" of a thriller.
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These Three (1936)
Tribute to Wyler
3 August 2005
For a film that opened in 1936, "These Three" manages to hold the attention seventy years later.

True, Lillian Helmann's heterosexual adaptation may seem a bit over-baked now; still, there are some compelling scenes which are touching.

Working with a top-notch cast and crew, Director William Wyler managed to coax some pretty heartfelt performances from his ensemble.

The whole thing looks like it may have been an extremely difficult shoot, especially for its principals. Word has it that Miriam Hopkins was very difficult to work with, and that Merle Oberon's normally meager talent was stretched beyond its capacity by the demanding director.

Yet, through probably endless retakes, the final result from the editing room is impressive. The child actors are quite good, without which the drama's effectiveness would have been considerably lessened. All the adult performers are strong, rendering commendable work.

Judging from the viewer's and critic's evaluation on IMDb, "These Three" is still very much appreciated.
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Moonstruck (1987)
Strong Influences
1 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Writer John Patrick Shanley is obviously a talented writer, who makes keen observations on people--and turns those impressions into pointed characters.

However, I did notice some influences in the leading actors' styles. The lady seemed strongly reminiscent of Streisand, and the man of Brando (with a hint of DiNero).

The latter character, Ronny, who came on initially as a shouting, table turning boor, hardly seemed a patron of grand opera--even for fellow paisano Pucinni.

Too, the lady, Loretta, seemed to take on her fiancée-brother's amorous gropings with surprising verve and abandonment. An uncommonly cavalier attitude toward such casual intimacy. Her personality did appeared above that sort of thing.

Shanley manages to cover up such rough edges with charm, and Director Norman Jewison follows suit. Together they whip up a diverting concoction which seemed to connect with late 80s audiences.
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Niagara (1953)
Pretty Fair Fox Film
23 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Marilyn and her secret lover have a signal: if lover successfully knocks off Marilyn's edgy "hubby," lover will have the bell tower play their favorite song.

Well, the song's played, and Marilyn shows aural recognition and relief.

Yet when she goes to identify the dead body, lo and behold, it's not hubbie on that slab but lover! Now, just how'd that song get played? Either lover-man sent out a premature signal or his corpse did.

This little plotting discrepancy apparently was hoped to be overlooked; still, many a mystery fan will pick it up, and it doesn't help bolster the so-so plot.

Monroe's makeup and costumes are striking here, and she becomes a luminous image--the kind that made her a legendary icon. The rest of the capable cast does the best the script can provide.

Niagra's tourist trade undoubtedly doubled after this film's release.
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Odd Grant Mood Piece
19 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Not having read Richard Llewllyn's novel, upon which Clifford Odetts based this script, I can't comment on how successfully the transfer was made from book to screen.

However, what remains is a very odd, moody and atypical film for Cary Grant. It's probably the closest thing to an art film he ever did.

Knowing Grant's personal life, especially his childhood through adolescent experiences, I can understand his wanting to connect with Archie Leach and his deferred Bristol background.

Here was an excellent opportunity in the role of a Cockney drifter searching for a better life, amid the cultural squalor. It was probably a very therapeutic project in the actor's search for personal psychological closure.

Too, RKO obviously wanted ideal casting, and went to great financial lengths to secure Ethel Barrymore for the mother role.

The b/w photography, idiomatic sets and dark lighting are all appropriate and effective. Yet what finally resulted is a piece oozing with atmosphere and character study, yet strangely static in terms of dramatic thrust.

What's our hero's specific objective? We get it that he's dissatisfied and wants to move on. Is that enough, though, for a full length story? Where's the agenda? Does the fault lie in Mr. Odett's somewhat lackluster direction and writing?

Whatever the case, the viewer must steel up stamina to view this film. It's requires a lot of concentration and effort to understand the Cockney accents, character motivation and over all "message."

Still, if it helped Grant to stabilize and balance himself as an actor (and person) before going on to do such fine future work, we can be appreciative for this effort.
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Burning Question
15 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
It kept running through my mind while looking at this informative documentary: why a 70+ mile trek? Why not one, or even a half mile? Just what was there in that distant vicinity that relegated the males initially to that area? Why, Mother Nature, do things the hard way--or is it the penguins that may be a bit on the daft side? So, there they go, hobbling and waddling over so many torturous miles--with round trips, no less.

Granted the big "birds" are fetching, like waiters in formal attire. And the "role-switching" for the egg incubating is a gasser.

Still, 85 minutes felt about 30 too long. What this seems, actually, is a National Geographic TV Special, without commercial breaks. And since NG always does a consistently fine job, it's up to high tech standards.

It's just that after 45 minutes or so, I was ready to leave there and go visit the apes, elephants, and refreshment stand.
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10/10
A Magnificent Performance
1 July 2005
Verdi's most heartfelt work, Requiem, is given a moving performance at La Scala, Milan in 1967.

Master Film Director Henri George Clouzot is responsible for a beautifully staged and shot presentation of this work.

The film quality is remarkably good, considering its vintage. The sound is likewise notable for its sharp dynamic contrasts.

Herbert von Karajan conducts with great eloquence and sensitivity. A "dream" cast is assembled to realize this score: Leontyne Price, soprano; Fiorenza Cossotti, mezzo; Luciano Pavaroti, tenor; and Nicolai Ghiaurov, bass.

Add to this, the La Scala Symphony and Chorus, and what can one say? A genuine landmark performance, which will undoubtedly become legendary.

How wonderful to have this preserved for future generations to enjoy.
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4/10
A Very Long Film
30 June 2005
If you thought "Amelie" was over-stuffed with a mind-boggling assortment of images, take a look at this "epic."

With each narrative reference, no matter how small or incidental,there's at least one if not several related depictions, illustrations or dramatizations inserted.

At one point I felt I needed a score card to keep things straight. Who are all these people and what's their relationship to our heroine'quest for her fiancée's state?

These assorted side-plot inserts aren't just brief flashes, many are full-scale, elaborate sets, with lots of folks doing all sorts of things--even including an elaborate helicopter shot zooming in and out.

All this to do for a simple lover's search. Well, maybe DirectorJean-Pierre Jeunet thought he'd better do something to spice up an actual academic plot. Since there's not much drama in pure research,let's jazz things up to keep the attention focused.

Just like in "Amelie," the inserts are often powerful and exhausting; only we could recognize the "window-dressing" on what's really a rather tepid tale.

Audrey Tautou gives her usual substantial performance.
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Good Casting Buoys Farm Film
25 June 2005
For those who like horses and horse racing, "Home in Indiana" offers a pleasant diversion.

Focusing on three in the cast, this was Jeanne Crain's first notable role, and what a "natural" she is. Completely at home before the camera, she shows early on her quintessential "girl-next-door" charm.

Paired with the equally "boy-next-door" Lon Mcallister, the two are perfect together. Lon came with a full list of juvenile film roles, and looked like the personification of a callow Indiana farm boy.

As for the amazing Walter Brennan, this was just another of his inexhaustible number of roles, always appearing much older than he actually was.

A further look at Brennen's folio, he made a whopping 63 films in three years (1933-35)! Can you imagine that? I can't.

The three together, along with Charlotte Greenwood as the proverbial "farm marm," offer a most convincing group of typical ranchers, struggling between corn crop mores and big city conventions--the latter represented by June Haver.

And those mares--absolutely beautiful!
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2/10
Ultimately Exploitative Work
16 June 2005
It begins, unfolds, and ends with violence. True, there was much tension and wasted lives during the mid-nineteenth century New York centered around Tammany Hall and Five Points.

Frankly, though, when all's said and done, I much prefer The History Channel's more scholarly presentation to Martin Scorsese's version.

THC presents the pure facts, allowing the viewer to focus in on actual events from a historical perspective. Scorsese's film forces concentration on the director's and scriptor's own viewpoint. And since that attitude is very negative, that's what comes out. "The Gangs of New York" is an extremely negative film, exploitative and personally quite sickening.

It's too bad a most significant part of American history that has not before been fully depicted, has this long, cold, in-your-face work as its sole exemplar.

Nor is there any particular lesson to be learned here, no insight into cause and effect, and no offering to assist humanity to avoid errors of the past. It's as skewed as is the press media, with its main purpose merely to engage the attention and emotions-- not challenge or enlighten them intellectually, humanistically or spiritually.

That said, the film does offer the usual superb Scorsese acting and production values.
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DVD Disc Two
11 June 2005
Watching the interviews, director commentary, and factual data on the second DVD disc, was for me as interesting as seeing the actual film.

It revealed a very articulate writer-director Geoffry Wright, a former film critic, on his experiences with "Romper Stomper." It also allowed us to see two fascinating cast members, Russell Crowe and Jacqueline McKenzie, give their personal perspectives in working on this project.

Tragically, before these interviews and the film's premiere took place, the third lead, Daniel Pollock, performed an ultimate sacrifice: taking his own life.

What Brando's "The Wild One" did for his early career, "Romper" seemed to do for Crowe's. Both films offered a lot of violence, and little supportive philosophy. Both seemed ambiguous and inconclusive. Yet, Wright points out that he feels it's unlikely that these films resulted in any particular antisocial behavior that wouldn't otherwise have taken place. (One notes these interviews took place years before "Columbine.")

The film does put the audience "inside" the gang, and depicts its members more into pursuing baser adrenalin rushes and youthful excitement than political ideologies.

But it takes the DVD "extras" to put things into a more cohesive perspective. Wright feels that his film "demythologized" the "skins," thus draining the groups of their "mystery." He noted a decided drop in such activities following the release of his movie.

I have no basis for an opinion on this, one way or another. What I do get is a very "driven" project, which for several years and months, respectively, totally consumed its writer-director and hard working cast.

It's a film that certainly does move, and puts its young actors through very demanding physical paces. Fortunately, they appear fully up to the challenge.
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7/10
Erudite, Elusive, Cerebral
29 May 2005
Now a sort of cult film, this Brit entry engages the mind, leaving the heart rather cool.

The cast is stellar, with Marius Goring, Raymond Massey, Roger Livesley among the principals. The ever-dependable David Niven and Kim Hunter are seen as the romantic leads, and the company works hard to put its fantasy script across.

The conceit, to my impression, though, is spiritually neutral, like more a minor distraction than an major essential.

The writing is most imaginative, though, and solid production values bolster the proceedings. Yet, in the end, it all seems a bit inconsequential and even insignificant.

A 35 mm. print (from Sony) was recently shown as part of a "European Festival" at northeast's "jewel of a film series," the Cinematheque in Cleveland, Ohio. The audience gave the film rapt attention, and applauded it warmly at the end.
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Brit Blackboard Jungle
27 May 2005
The same year Sandy Dennis jostled her way up the down staircase, Sidney Poitier finagled himself with a motley crew of Cockney youths.

It'd been a dozen years since young Sidney played a rebellious youth in "Blackboard Jungle." Now he's older, wiser, wears a pressed suit and carries a briefcase.

He also has some personal ideas about how to handle these crass kids. While it takes time to work his ways, he's persistent and patient. One gets the feeling that the actor's own brand of philosophy buoys him in the role of Mark Thackeray.

Whatever the case, "To Sir With Love" is quite an engrossing drama about tough love, understanding and redemption. The film did then and continues to resonate with movie viewers.
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The Third Man (1949)
Titanic Influence
24 May 2005
Long before Orson Welles makes his appearance as Harry Lime in "The Third Man," it's abundantly clear that this is a "Welles film."

Not taking anything away from the fine director Carol Reed, who could easily stand on his own, this film has the "Welles touch" in every scene.

How did he manage to turn every film in which he was associated into his own? In his documentary on famous charlatans, "F for Fake," Orson admits to being somewhat of a conjurer. And he wasn't a half bad magician, at that (note his levitation and disappearing tricks).

Even the uneven cadence of his line delivery--with that built-in deep, resonant vocal instrument--is completely unique to him, a "signature" no other could duplicate.

My thought is that he was such a powerful presence, with a superior intellect, that he managed to dwarf other colleagues and imbue every project with his own stylistic brand. Whether he was coaching a performance from child actor Natalie Wood ("Tomorrow Is Forever") or taking charge of the entire production of "Jane Eyre," Welles dominated everything with which he was associated.

I call him the "Stowkowsi" of the cinema. One who could almost command simply by entering the stage (by the time he stepped onto the "podium," his vision was firmly entrenched). He brought the vision with him and its implementation was inescapable.

Anton Karas' zither music certainly doesn't hurt this production, either.
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Flip (1970–1974)
Here Today, Gone Tomorrow
17 May 2005
After the Flip Wilson show left the air, having been a top favorite for a full four years, it was quickly forgotten.

TV Land fortunately has revived the series, and what a pleasure it is to tune in weekly for these delightful shows. The skits are genuinely funny, with hilarious lines concocted by a stable of great comic writers.

Flip himself is wonderful to watch. He appears so innocent and good natured, and delivers his material effortlessly. He is a "natural" in the comic arena.

The finest of guest stars clamored for a spot on his series, and Wilson appears cool and comfortable with all of them.

So what happened that he was so quickly forgotten? The same reason the series is soon out of mind till the next show during this revival. It's like a nice desert: great while being consumed, which lasts for a short time only.

The private life of Flip is an intriguing thought, since he apparently was an intensely private person. Then again, maybe that's all there was to him, and what we saw was what we got.
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10/10
Always Engaging
14 May 2005
It was an intriguing experience, seeing this film when it first played my home city on a road show engagement.

I always regretted sitting in the balcony, rather on the main floor for this 70 mm.presentation. I could only imagine the effect audiences had viewing it in true Cinerama.

Kubrick made a film like none other, with a total of 88 non-dialog minutes, and exit music (of Strauss' "Blue Danube Waltz") that continues a good five minutes after the last credit roll.

Arthur C. Clarke's comment that if one fully understands everything in the film, he would consider his contribution a failure, reminded me of Director Vincent Minnelli's answer to a question about an effect in one of his films, "Yolanda and the Thief." A studio exec asked him what did the mysterious "dream apparition" that emerged from the lake mean. Minnelli responded that he had no idea.

Kubrick's choosing of the year, 2001, as a title because it represented the "beginning of the next century" proved less than prophetic: 2000 was the year celebrated worldwide for that event (though Kubrick was factually correct).

As for actor Kier Dullea, his trademark blank-stare style seemed to work most impressively in a very limited number of other films, mainly, "David and Lisa" and "The Fox." Still, he'll be forever remembered for "A Space Odyssey."

Ultimately, the film has won the plaudits of a majority of the public and critics. Those who either "don't get it," or "find it too slow moving" now seem to be in the minority, and the film has ultimately won a place among the "film greats."
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David Blaine: Vertigo (2002 TV Movie)
Blaine Does It Again
8 May 2005
Yes, there may be other magicians and illusionists with more technical skill, but David Blaine has what Houdini had--style.

David proves again that it's not so much what you do as how you do it. Fortunately, Blaine has a very positive vibration, which helps him to communicate to a broad public. In his Vertigo, all he does is stand still in one place without a break for 35 hours. That in itself is unusual, but perched outside on an 80-foot pole with diameter of about a two feet, that's something else!

That it's in mid Manhattan adds to the "stunt." In a city where everything's "a-go-go" all the time, this is an act of defiance--or revelation.

What does it mean? Whatever one wants it to. For instance, "he's crazy" and "he's nuts," to some people; and "he's great" and "he's incredible" to others.

However, the people come out, representing all walks of life. Everyone can comprehend a person standing erect on a 80-foot pole. One doesn't need to speak a certain language, be a member of a particular organization, fall into a specific socio-economic class, or be a certain age.

Just one look up there, and every person is instantly united: a commonality is established. That's what music was supposed to do, but it doesn't seem to any more. That "universal language" has been thwarted with the influx of vastly diverging musical tastes.

But David, standing on that narrow post, so high as to be a tiny silhouette, unties. In his other TV special of street magic he went all over the U.S., ending up in the remotest point of the heretofore unexplored Amazon jungle, doing tricks for the natives, young and old. There was no need for verbal communication: he just showed them, and they understood and responded with amazement.

That's the significance of David Blaine's Vertigo. For 35 hours people came together mentally, emotionally and spiritually in a common bond of fascination and wonder.
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Valuable Document
28 April 2005
Doug Henning (1947-2000) made his mark as a magnificent illusionist, who brought the craft to the general public in an unprecedented entertaining manner. He also transformed the image of the magician from the top hat and tails to denim jacket and jeans.

He changed illusionists' formerly austere, mysterious ambiance to one of playfulness, fun and joy. His smile was infectious; he loved what he did and made the audience feel the same way.

It was my privilege to have attended "The Magic Show" on Broadway in 1974. I returned three more times, bringing along friends, who likewise loved it. Make no mistake, though--even though he bounces and jives to the music, like your average kid on the block, this is one awesome, truly great magician.

The only extant recording of his work is this 1981 revised and modified version of "The Magic Show" done at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Toronto. For some inexplicable reason, the score and production was drastically tampered with, to the extreme chagrin of the original presentation.

Therefore, its value here lies in the fact that this is the only surviving recorded of Mr. Henning's work. It's also to be remembered that work of illusionists that followed Henning used his work as their yardstick to "surpass." In other words, what Henning did was then history making--taking its heritage directly from Classicists Houdini, Dunninger, Blackstone, et al.

Henning combined all achievements of those greats, then added his own unique contributions. What I adore about Henning is his positive vibration; his smile is genuine, and his love of life's the "real-McCoy."

Thus, this recording of "The Magic Show" becomes a valuable document in the history of magic and illusion, thanks to the work of one of the all-time greats: Henning.
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Ellen DeGeneres: The Beginning (2000 TV Special)
8/10
Good Standup Work
25 April 2005
She has the conviction of Don Rickles, strength of Lily Tomlin, wit of Robin Williams and diction of Jane Fonda.

It's Ellen DeGeneres, live, at the Beacon Theater--a real treat for those in the provinces who weren't able to make it to the Big Apple that fun night in 2000.

Obviously the result of many years in the comic and talk show business, DeGeneres has the pulse of both the sophisticated and general public at bay. She delivers her humor with a kind of sincerity and unpretentiousness that really communicates. The Beacon audience obviously loves her, and responds with great enthusiasm. Ellen has the courage to touch on "touchy subjects" and "get away" with it through her ingratiating personality.

This, her fifth comedy special, may be termed her best, and credit must be extended to fine, unobtrusive direction by Joel Gallen. As no one's credited as writer, it must be DeGeneres wrote her own material, as well as executive produced this fun filled event.
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Auto Focus (2002)
7/10
Secrets Revealed
14 April 2005
Fifteen years before "Auto Focus" was a parallel film about Brit Playwright Joe Orton, his climb to fame, secret life, and subsequent demise at the hand of his close friend, Kenneth Halliwell.

In "Auto Focus" it's sometime-lead, often second-tier-actor Bob Crane, who's revealed to live a clandestine style during his rise to the top, and his ultimate end--with the implication of his close friend John Carpenter.

Whereas the earlier effort enjoyed superior direction by Stephen Frears, the latter is quite earthbound at the hand of Paul Schrader.

The quality of the photography of "Auto Focus" looks a bit like its title. Just place the dial there, point and shoot. Results: quite ordinary, like made with discount equipment picked up at a local video camera store.

The cast, however, is quite up to the project, with William Dafoe and especially Greg Kinnear rendering solid performances.

The question is, how does one make a remarkable film about rather routine talent and career? With a more expansive script elevating to the philosophical and spiritual, a more significant product might have emerged. As it is, this is a decent presentation about the consequences of excess and addition that makes its points through a good cast.
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American Masters: Paul Robeson: Here I Stand (1999)
Season 13, Episode 3
9/10
Comprehensive Documentary
8 April 2005
"Paul Robeson: Here I Stand" is a two hour and seven minute biography, featuring rare, compiled newsreel footage mixed with live interviews.

The documentary does a fine job of summarizing an amazing life and career of a supremely gifted lawyer, athlete, singer, actor, and socio-politicial activist.

Above all, Robeson's humanitarian quest emerges clearly, first being widely lauded, then vilified, then embraced again.

Such notables as Harry Belafonte and Uta Hagen share their impressions and personal experiences with Robeson, and the subject's own voice is heard explaining his position on his beliefs and actions.

Everywhere the press was on his tail, sometimes reporting accurately, sometimes inaccurately--but always there was a towering, powerful presence at the center. This bio gives due time to Robeson's extensive film career, his voice recitals, and his record-breaking Broadway run in the title role of "Othello." It puts into perspective Robeson's intentions, juxtaposed with the finished products. The disparity is particularly notable in his European film stint, in which the final editing undercut and altered what Robeson had understood the films would be.

For myself, it showed the tremendous challenge of "stardom" at the highest level. With great fame and fortune come the downside: the sacrifices, disappointments, and challenges. Few international public figures escape the bitter with the sweet, and Robeson was no exception.

Behind it all resided a man who sought to aid humanity and down injustice. It wasn't an easy road, but Paul took the journey with dignity. This TV doc fairly and comprehensively presents the agony and ecstasy of an extraordinary life.
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Thoughtful Production
6 April 2005
It's often been debated whether art really can affect attitudes, which can in turn impact cultural behavior.

"Gentleman's Agreement" argues well that this is possible. Today anti-Semitism seems dated and passé. It's the "gays" who are now on the "firing line." And after them, who's next?

Following the civil rights movement, people who treated Martin Luther King like a dog have now made him a saint. So what else is new? What is it in human nature that some person or group must always be looked down upon or castigated? It seems people have their minds made up so well on issues that they don't even want to entertain facts, which might to confuse them.

I used to blame religion and religious leaders for helping to promote divisions amongst people, until I realized it takes two to tango. Without followers there would be no leaders, and most people seem to choose to be sheep to be led. So, I say, let 'em.

In this film my identification is with Philip, who detects the prejudicial underpinnings of people's remarks--and points it out (often to these people's chagrin).

Kathy represented the average "sheep," who may loathe injustice, yet "goes with the flow," not speaking up or doing anything which might cause herself to be ostracized . These types avoid confrontation, rather bending with the wind and letting the stronger ones do battle.

Dave symbolizes those who are the "targets," and can't escape it; their solution is to push it to the back burner and negotiate their emotions.

Only Anne and Philip have the courage to speak up and call a spade a spade. However, in this case, neither is actually a real "target": one is pretending and the other just an empathizer.

Moss Hart's script is well written, and the "method" cast can't be bettered. This is right down Elia Kazan's alley, and he directs with strength and conviction. Peck and McGuire together make for a great combination, and Holm makes a powerful impression.

Last but not least, Darryl F. Zanuck must be credited with allowing the film to be made at all, then giving it a major budget and full studio backing.
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Role Reversing
4 April 2005
What would this picture have been like had Robert Alda and Bruce Bennett switched parts? That would've placed Alda where he really "seemed to belong": at the keyboard, playing the music of George Gershwin.

And Bennett was such a dependable actor that he could've easily brought off the role of club owner Nicky Toresca without a hitch.

Alda made such an indelible impression two years earlier in "Rhapsody in Blue," that when one thinks of George G., Robert A. comes to mind.

Thus, is seemed rather strange to see Alda as non-musician and Bennett as talented but tortured piano player San Thomas.

Nor did it help having the Gershwin title song played frequently on the sound track. I kept wishing Alda would somehow again emerge as the famed composer-pianist.

Talk about someone being too well cast in a part; like Hurt Hatfield as Dorian Gray, everything after these "signature roles" becomes unconvincing.

Personally, I like Robert Alda very much, and regret that he didn't get better films. As for this Walsh opus, everyone seems to agree Lupino emerges the victor amongst some very messy relationships and ensuing tacky actions.
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