oznickolaus

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Reviews

Jisatsu sâkuru
(2001)

Suicide is the ONLY escape from this movie!!!!
This has to be the single worst movie I have seen in years. Don't let people tell you it's thought provoking or deep. It's just plain stupid!!!! The film ranks in at almost 2 hrs and will seriously drive you to insanity. I sat watching it hoping, PRAYING that it would make sense by the end, and was left with no answers or even logical questions to ask.

2 hrs of random Asian people happily committing suicide because of a group 12 year old girls singing a song???? I thought only the Olsen Twins or Barney could cause that kind of pain on humanity!!!! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE avoid this movie at all costs.

Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ
(1925)

They don't make 'em like this anymore!
I watched the 1925 version of Ben Hur for the very first time last night. And I was VERY pleased with the film. I highly recommend seeing it you've never had the pleasure.

While this one has just as much spectacle as the 1959 version, it also has much more of the "Tale of Christ" side of the story. The Nativity sequence at the beginning is simply beautiful. Betty Bronson is luminous as Mother Mary. The only flaw I found with the scene is that the director makes Mary slightly TOO holy, in that she comes close to performing miracles herself. To me, that's coming close to blasphemy. But besides that, the opening of the film is a beautiful mini movie in itself, and could easily be shown by itself at Christmas time.

I found Roman Navarro far more likable in the title role than Charleton Heston. Like with most silent films, Navarro is a bit over the top, but he's still portrayed as honest and kind, yet proud figure. He also has a very kind face, which helps the audience "fall" for this guy. Charleton Heston is COMPLETELY over the top in the same role, but it makes one almost in awe that there is any scenery left after Mr. Heston finishes chewing it.

Francis X. Bushman is a far more Romanesque figure than pretty boy Stephen Boyd in the original. With that said, Bushman isn't a believable friend to Judah at the beginning of the film, so the hurt and hatred between them is lacking. Heston and Boyd in the remake have a much better chemistry, therefore making the betrayal more painful.

The role of "Esther" as portrayed by May McAvoy in 1925 is essentially a different character as the "Esther" Haya Harareet played in the 1959 film. The character serves the same purpose in both films, but Harareet's portrayal is far stronger than McAvoy's. Which is not to say either is right or wrong. But McAvoy is the typical 1920's heroine, who's only real job is to be pretty and innocent. Harareet at least has levels of emotion and more depth to her character.

But for me, the biggest difference was the attitude towards Jesus Christ. After the chariot race, the 1925 Ben Hur devotes all his riches and himself to building an army for Christ. He spends the rest of the film revving up the troops in the name of Jesus, only to meet Christ on His long walk to Calvary, where Jesus tells him to lay down his sword and devote his life to peace and love. Moments later his mother and sister (who Judah doesn't NOT know are still alive and lepers) are healed of their disease. The film ends with Judah, Esther and The Princess of Hur (Judah's mother) recreating a tableau of the famous painting "The Return From Calvary" by Herbert Schmals. Judah, his mother and Esther replace the Apostle John, Mother Mary and Mary Magdalene in the tableau, but the rest of the scene is identical (I have this painting in my living room, so it was easy to compare.)

I found the charm of the 1925 version and the devotion to the message of Christ to highly outweigh the grand spectacle of the 1959 version. If you don't mind "reading" a movie, I think you'll really enjoy this piece of cinematic history.

A Christmas Carol
(2004)

GREAT musical theatre talent...BAD movie!!!
A fan of the original 1995 Madison Square Garden production of this musical. I was disgusted by the horrible TV production I watched of it last night. If it weren't for the surprise of several of my favorite musical theatre performers showing up in the "lump of coal", I would have turned it off!

Lynn Ahrens, the lyricist of the show, should be ashamed of the way she has bastardized this teleplay of her own musical, not to mention Dickens's original novel. The TV movie moves so fast through the wonderful score, that one hardly has a clue of what they just saw and heard!

Kelsey Grammar is awful as Scrooge. I didn't believe his character for one second. The man should stick to sitcoms, and leave the acting to people who know what they are doing. And for someone who has a musical theatre background, can someone explain what he chose to speak the majority of his songs, rather that actually SING them???? Awful, simply awful!

If it weren't for the likes of Claire Moore (Sarah Brightman's far superior replacement in the original London "Phantom of the Opera") as Mrs. Fezziwig, Ruthie Henshall (From the London cast of "Chicago", "Crazy For You" and "Miss Saigon") as Scrooge's ill-fated mother, Linzi Hateley (the actress who has the unfortunate honor of playing the title character in the worse Broadway musical ever made, "Carrie: the Musical) as Mrs. Cratchit, and "Ally Mcbeal's" Jane Krakowski as The Ghost of Christmas Past (although her stripper routine on Scrooge's bed was more that unnecessary!) I would have turned this film off after the first number. Even the likes of Jason Alexander, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Jesse L. Martin and Geraldine Chaplin have no clue as to what they are doing in this film. It's such a shame.

Please don't judge this musical on the TV film. I really recommend buying the Original Broadway cast album and discovering what this musical should REALLY be like!!!!

The Greatest American Hero
(1981)

Back when TV shows were fun....
I remember this show from my childhood, and they are very fond memories at that. William Katt was adorable in the lead (I met him in person once and he was even MORE adorable in the flesh!), Connie Sellecca was (IS) Gorgeous, and the theme song still makes me sing along with it on the radio! I never understood why this show didn't last longer than it did. I'm also surprised, with the latest fad of turning old TV shows into movies, that a big screen version of this hasn't appeared yet!

I certainly hope someone releases this series on DVD soon!

Too bad TV shows today are either reality based crap or sex filled soap operas!

John

Snow White
(1916)

Nostalgic and charming...despite being crude
While not as well known as the famous Marguerite Clark version of "Snow White", also released in 1916, this attempt does have it's merits. Before the Clark version was discovered in a Dutch archive, this version was often mistaken for the Clark film, and is even featured in the 1987 50th Anniversary TV tribute to the Walt Disney "Snow White", in place of the Clark film.

The cast of this version is comprised entirely children, mostly female. Aimee Ehrlich plays BOTH "Good Queen Mary" AND "Snow White". This is a very popular practice in casting the characters of a deceased mother and her adult daughter. Two fine examples of this casting can be seen in films such as the 1925 version of "Les Miseables" and the 1940 Judy Garland musical "Little Nellie Kelly". She is very sweet as "Queen Mary" but slightly spastic as "Snow White". As our title character, she spends 90% of her screen time skipping and running in circles, waving her arms about like a mad woman. There were actually several times I feared she would run into a tree or simply topple over.

Ruth Richie is hysterical as "Wicked Queen Alice". This girl has some severe issues and Richie makes the most out of each and every one of them! Her hair pulling and fist pounding are enough to make any viewer laugh, and is the highlight of the film.

The "King", Snow White's widower father, is played by Patsy Grace Lichtenburg. Cast females in male roles is a very common practice in fairy tales, particularly in the annual British pantomime productions. The "King" had little more to do than dote on Snow White in the beginning and walk around like an enchanted zombie for the rest of the film. But, if that's all "he" need to, Lichtenburg does it well.

The group of giddy fairy's, who are responsible for Snow White's birth, are a charming at the same time annoying. When first introduced, the little girls playing the roles are adorable with their little ringlets and fairy frocks. But, like the character of "Snow White", they spend the movie dancing and twirling around all over the screen. One pointless scene involves them throwing a party for Snow White, because she was saved from the poisoned comb the Queen gave her. The scene is endless and gives "Snow White" yet another opportunity to dance around like twit....this time on a table.

The cinematography, for an early 1900's kiddie film, is quite well done. The use of long shots allows the viewer to take in and appreciate the wonderful natural landscapes and quite elaborate sets. It reminded me slightly of the old Baum, "OZ Film Manufacturing Company" movies of the same era.

IF you can find this film, which is available through Buyer's Gallery Video, it is worth the watch. Considered lost, as was the Marguerite Clark version, it is a rare gem and insight to early American cinema. Two other silent versions of Snow White were known to have been made, both also considered "lost". One is a French version from 1902 and the other an American one starring silent beauty Elise Albert, from 1913. Hopefully, these two will surface one day!

Gli amici di Gesù - Giuseppe di Nazareth
(2000)

Wonderful title character...poor supporting cast.
Beyond the traditional Christmas story of the Nativity, next to nothing is known about Joseph, the Earthy father of Jesus and husband of Mary. After taking on the role of foster father to the Son of God, and the search for 12 year old Jesus in Jerusalem, Joseph of Nazareth just disappears from Biblical record. "Giuseppe di Nazareth" attempts to answer that question.

Made in 1999 by Raffaele Mertes, "Giuseppe di Nazareth" is an honorable, yet weak offering from the Italian master of Biblical films. Responsible for the beautifully told "Maria Maddalena" (2000), Mertes does not fictionalize the story of Joseph as well as he does Magdalene's story. As with all Biblical tales, a certain amount of "filler" needs to be added when the Bible fails to give us the story, and "Giuseppe" is the result of weak storytelling. The plot just puts Joseph, and his family, in far too many unlikely situations, and the dignity of the characters suffer for it.

As "Joseph", Tobias Moretti gives a fine performance. With large, expressive eyes, he manages to convey his sincerity in the role, with very little help from the script. On fine scene in particular is Joseph's advise to a nephew who's betrothed has been violated by Roman soldiers. Moretti's Joseph is truly a child of God and his character never waivers in his love of the Lord. It's a pity this performance went to waste in this film.

Stefania Rivi, as "Mary", is a perfect example of "looks aren't everything". She is a very beautiful woman and makes a picture perfect "Virgin Mary", but is stiff and emotionless as an actress. Her earlier scenes are not bad, but after the "Nativity" she appears to simply go through the motions. I had hope for her portrayal of "The Mother of the Lord", but Rivi doesn't deliver. She also appears to be the only person in Israel that doesn't age. While Joseph, Anna (Mary;s mother) and Jesus all age 12 years by the end of the film, Mary remains looking a youthful 17! Is this an after affect of her holy encounter with God????

The most annoying performance in the film, sadly comes from the 12 year old "Jesus" himself, Jurij Gentilini. This has to be the worst child actor I have seen in quite some time, and the fact that he is supposed to be playing the Son of God doesn't help the situation either. He shows even less emotion than the actress playing his mother (which is hard to think possible!), and literally seems to recite his lines. If I hadn't known the outcome of the situation, I would have been praying that Mary and Joseph would never find him again after they lose him in Jerusalem! God, please forgive me!!!!

Thankfully, director Raffaele Mertes grew in his storytelling by the time he got to "Maria Maddalena" a year later.

On an interesting side note, the white box that contains the frankincense give the Holy Family by the wise men, is the same prop used in the 1999 TV movie "Jesus", as one of the gifts given to the Holy Family. In the later film, it can be seen very clearly when shown by Mary (Jacqueline Bisset) to Jesus (Jeremy Sisto), right before a flashback to the Nativity. Raffaele Mertes worked on both films, serving as cinematographer for "Jesus", and as already mentioned, director of "Giuseppe di Nazareth". The production designer was the same on both films, Paolo Biagetti.

The version I saw, as part of the "Close to Jesus" DVD set, was partially filmed in English, but dubbed throughout. I'm NOT a fan of dubbing, but it didn't bother me in this film.

The "Close to Jesus" DVD set consists of "Giuseppe di Nazareth" and the Biblical trilogy of "Maria Maddalena", "Giuda" (Judas) and "Tommaso" (Thomas). The brilliant thing about these three films, is that the same actors play the same roles in all three films, each told from a different point of view. All are directed by Raffaele Mertes.

Gli amici di Gesù - Maria Maddalena
(2000)

Beautifully filmed and "Biblically" interesting....
There are exactly 12 lines in the Bible that mention Mary Magdalene by name. She is said to have had 7 demons cast out of her by Jesus and to have helped fund His ministry. She was also present at the Crucifixion, along with Mary the Mother, and the first apostle Jesus appeared to after His Resurrection. She was asked by Jesus to take a message to the rest of His followers. That's it. That's the extent of what we "officially" know about Mary from Magdala.

Pope Gregory preached a sermon in the late 6th century that merged Mary Magdalene with two other biblical characters: an unnamed "sinful woman" in the gospel of Luke who anoints Jesus' feet with perfume poured from an alabaster jar and dries them with her hair, and Mary of Bethany, the sister of Jesus' friend Lazarus whom he raised from the dead. So common misbelief is that Mary was a repentant prostitute, when in reality she was most likely Jesus' closest apostle.

Raffaele Mertes' 1999/2000 film takes Mary's 12 lines in the Bible and elaborates on them to create a very beautiful, if not historically interesting story. Like with most Bible based films, artistic liberties need to be taken to create a full length movie. "Maria Maddalena" is no exception.

Former Bond girl Maria Grazia Cucinotta makes a wonderful Mary Magdalene, not just physically, but her acting as well. The character she is given to work with is a very angry, revenge hungry woman, set out to avenge her divorce and brutal rape at the hands of Roman guards. Cucinotta's Mary just wants to be loved. She has been betrayed by men and her anger is really the result of hurt. She does an amazing job showing the audience her plea for love using her very expressive eyes. On a personal note, Cucinotta has become my favorite Magdalene in the movies.

The interesting twist to this film, is Mary's connection with Herodias and John the Baptist. No Biblical or historical source has ever linked Mary to the other two, but in film form, it makes for a very beautiful story.

Benjamin Sadler's John the Baptist has now become my favorite interpretation of the character on film. He is the "wild man" we tent to associate with him, without going over the top. He is also VERY compassionate, asking Mary questions of her, not for his knowledge, but for her. He has a kindness in his face and demeanor that I have never seen in the Baptist before. It made knowing the outcome of his fate all the harder.

While I don't recommend using this film as the sole basis for your beliefs about Mary Magdalene, it is in no was a waste of time. I thoroughly enjoyed the film. The version I saw, as part of the "Close to Jesus" DVD set, Was partially filmed in English, but dubbed throughout. I'm NOT a fan of dubbing, but it didn't bother me in this film.

Incidentally, "Maria Maddalena" is part of a Biblical trilogy, also containing "Giuda" (Judas) and "Tommaso" (Thomas). The brilliant thing about these three films, is that the same actors play the same roles in all three films, each told from a different point of view. All three movies al available on DVD here in the USA, in the "Close to Jesus" 4 disc set, the 4th film being "Giuseppe di Nazareth" (Joseph of Nazareth), and earlier work by director Raffaele Mertes.

The Visual Bible: The Gospel of John
(2003)

Very literal, but very good.....
I have read a few reviews on this film that criticized it for being a "Bible lesson" and too "literal" to the Gospel of John, with whom it shares it's title. My question of them is, "What on Earth did you expect??"

Hearing about a non-controversial "Life of Jesus" movie, being released in the theaters was a very exciting thing for me. I have always been fascinated by Biblical films, and finding one that didn't have protests or threats of being banned was a pleasant surprise for this modern age. I am truly looking forward to the Mel Gibson film, "The Passion of the Christ", but have grown tired of all the "he said/she said" crap that has become associated with it.

So, when my local cineplex announced that "The Gospel of John" was coming, I was at one of the first showings this past Friday.....and I am VERY glad I went!

Yes, the film is VERY literal to the Biblical Gospel that many feel the apostle John penned. Since there is really no proof that John actually IS the "Beloved Disciple" mentioned in the book, you must take this film with a slight gain of salt at the very beginning. With that in mind, the film makers have produced a very beautiful retelling of the Life of Jesus Christ.

Because it sticks very strictly to the Book of John, and ONLY that Gospel, there are indeed a few important episodes in Jesus' miraculous life missing. For example, while the scene of Jesus announcing Judas as his betrayer is there, the "Last Supper" itself is missing....as it isn't mentioned in this particular book of the Bible. Same with Jesus appearing before Herod as part of his "trial".....not in the Book of John, so not in the movie.

Henry Ian Cusick makes a very believable Jesus Christ. Some of the reviews have accused him of being too harsh and "never having been moved by the Holy Spirit". Please.... Cusick is gives a very moving performance as the Son of God. He does a very fine job of using the EXACT words the author of the Gospel of John "scripted" for him. While being very limited to a script that must be said verbatim, Cusick is divine, AS WELL AS human. This Jesus smiles, and actually looks happy with his followers and teaching his Father's message, unlike the Jesus of Robert Powell, which seems to be the majority favorite. Jeremy Sisto is still gives my favorite performance as Jesus, but Henry Ian Cusick is a VERY CLOSE second.

My few complaints with the movie are more like questions. Why would you cast an actress in her 60's to play the Mother of Jesus. If Mary was 14 or 15 when Jesus was born, and he died for our sins at age 33, then she should be in her late 40's at the time of his death. Not so in this case. Diana Berriman is a fine actress, but just too old for the role.

Also, since the Bible NO WHERE states that Mary Magdalene is a repentant whore, why would you dress her like one in the first of her too few scenes on screen? When first seen, Lynsey Baxter is dressed a bright orange tunic, with a ton of make-up and long dangly ear rings. Why??? Mary Magdalene was NOT a prostitute, and since this film attempts to be a LITERAL filming of the 4th Gospel, then why would they depict Mary in this fashion???

My final complaint with the film, is simply with the Gospel itself. Of all the Gospels telling of Jesus time on Earth, John is the one that doesn't "mesh" with the others. But that is by no means the fault of the film makers.

I highly recommend seeing "The Gospel of John", especially before the long awaited and highly controversial, Catholic dominated Mel Gibson film is released in February.

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Cold Creek Manor
(2003)

How can I get those two hours of my life back??
Seriously, how can I get the 2 hours I just spent in watching "Cold Creek Manor" back? I've seen some really crappy movies lately (Cabin Fever, Freddy vs. Jason, The Hulk...), but with those movies I sort of knew what I was getting myself into with the previews. That is NOT the case with "Cold Creek Manor"! When I first saw the trailer I was hooked instantly and couldn't wait for it to be released. Boy, was I WRONG!!!!

The intensity of the trailer is the product of an ingenious editing team. For example, the plot of the film appears to involve a horrible crime committed in the "Manor" and a ghost that is haunting it. NOT THE CASE. There is in fact a horrible crime (aside from the fact that you are actually watching it) but that crime isn't even discovered until over an hour into the film! And the ghost? There is none. SPOILER....The creepy bed sheet that moves on it's own in the preview, is really a snake underneath. No ghost. Not even a little one.

The ONE creepy moment in the film is a direct rip off of "The Ring", involving a well and corpses. But that's not until the last 15 mins.

PLEASE STAY WAY FROM THIS MOVIE. SAVE YOUR MONEY.

John

Je vous salue, Marie
(1985)

Nothing DIVINE here what so ever!
When this movie came out in 1985, I was in high school and quite interested in seeing it. I was raised Christian, and have always had a special interest in Mary, the Mother of Jesus.

I recently bought a copy of the film for $1 at a local video store "going out of business" sale. I thought the film might not really be as bad as I remembered it (after all I was only 15 at the time!!!) and figured for $1, what do I have to lose. The answer was perfectly clear when I watched it last night....

This movie is neither inspiring NOR blasphemous...it's just NOTHING.

A movie asking the question "What if Jesus was born today?" could be a very interesting film. But "Hail Mary" never even tried to really tell the story of "The Virgin Birth". Instead, we are bombarded with countless images of teenage Mary (played by Myriem Roussel) caressing her nubile naked body and playing with her pubic hair. At one point the camera is so close to Roussel's crotch the whole world became her gynecologist! This doesn't move the story along or even come off as "artistic nudity". It's pure shock value and nothing more.

The characters are incredibly unlikable. Mary is a cold, rude girl. Joseph is a sex crazy cab driver. The Angel Gabriel is a violent b***ard who can only be calmed by a little girl that travels with him. Juliette Binoche plays "Juliette", the high school tramp who is trying quite hard to get into Joseph's pants. Seriously, this movie is a MESS!!!

There is also a pointless subplot of a college student named Eva (played by Anne Gautier)who is having an affair with her older married professor (played by Johan Leysen). There is a very random nude scene involving these two that I still can't figure out.

Seriously, don't even bother with this film.

The Pirates of Penzance
(1980)

Far better than the movie version!
Thank goodness this version of Joseph Papp's "Pirates" has been unearthed and released to the public! For as lavish as the 1983 film version is, I always felt that it was lacking something....a live audience.

With the exception of Kevin Kline's performance, this live recording of the Central Park production is very charming and well worth the watch. Mr. Kline is wonderful as The Pirate King, but his performance in the 1983 version is far better. After 3 years of performing the role, he perfected it, and truly made it his own.

Reviews back in 1980 complained about Linda Ronstadt's performance as Mabel, noting her lack of acting training. I found her to be perfectly charming and quite adorable. She's a cross between Snow White and Lilian Gish...the perfect mix! She handles the vocal difficulty of the role with ease and clarity. Her upper voice is slightly improved by the time the big screen version was shot, but this early attempt is wonderful! And Mabel really doesn't have a lot of acting depth to her anyway....G & S wrote her as a parody of grand opera sopranos. Player her "straight", as Ronstadt does, and she's fabulous.

The late George Rose and the late Tony Azito are almost exact on both versions...which to me a sign of a great performer. I always heard the Rose did the entire movie version with no retakes, and I can now understand why...he's flawless. Azito could have given Ray Bolger a run for his money back in the day...the man was like rubber.! I would have loved to have seen him play the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz! Sadly both Rose and Azito were taken from us before their time. It's a great loss.

Patricia Routledge leaves Angela Lansbury in the dust in the battle for the better Ruth. Routledge actually had a character unlike Lansbury who simply played Jessica Fletcher as Ruth....serious miscasting there folks! If you are a fan of Patricia Routledge in "Keeping Up Appearances", this is a must see for you!

The video used for the DVD and VHS versions of this show is very rough. It's been digitally cleaned up a much as possible, but it is 23 years old! Only so much can be done! But it's worth the watch anyway!

I LOVED IT!!!!

La vie et la passion de Jésus Christ
(1903)

Nostalgic and charming...
I have always been fascinated by silent films. There is something about seeing actors and actresses from 100 years ago performing. Jaded by today's high-tech special effects, I always try and imagine what it was like to watch a particular film at the time of it's original release. It helps to appreciate the crudeness of early cinema.

"The Life and Passion of Jesus Christ" is a very charming production from Pathe, originally filmed in 1902, but expanded and finally released in 1905. Imagine a series of famous religious paintings coming to life, separated by title cards, and you will have a pretty good idea of what this film is like. For example, the scene in which Mary and Joseph rest as they are escaping to Egypt, is almost identical to Luc Olivier Merson's 1879 painting "Rest on the Flight to Egypt", right down to Mary sitting on the famous Sphinx. While some might find these "living paintings" an unimaginative cop-out, I found them to be very charming, and very nostalgic.

The sets and costumes appear to be right out of a stage production of the life of Christ. Possibly from and elaborate passion play of the day. The make-up on the cast is very theatrical, so much so that a close-up of Jesus is almost comical. Again, where others might be bothered by the cudeness of them, I was quite charmed.

Having been filmed over a period of 3 years, the continuity isn't too bad. The biggest flaws are in the casting changes made over that time. The characters of John the Apostle and the 12 year old Jesus change in mid scene, much to the audiences surprise!

The best unintentional humor, of the film, is in the Birth of Jesus scene. The baby LITERALLY appears, as if by magic, in the manger between Mary and Joseph. Maybe it was simply my frame of mind at the time I viewed it, but I laughed out loud! If only child birth were that easy!!!! To top it off, the actress who plays Mary looks bored through the whole scene (actually, through the whole movie), as if this sort of thing happens every day! My, how times have changed!

As simplistic as this film is, compared to today, it's really a wonderful window into the past. I recommend it!

Jesus
(1999)

BRILLIANT!!! A spiritual Jesus with a very human side...
As far as I'm concerned, there never needs to be another movie made about the life of Jesus. This TV movie managed to do what not other has: portray Jesus as having human qualities without losing any of the spiritual ones. Unlike Willem Dafoe's depressed savior or Robert Powell's somber messiah, Jeremy Sisto gives us a Jesus who laughs, dances and plays practical jokes, while never letting us forget he is the Son of God. One of my favorite scenes is Jesus getting into a water fight with his apostles right before he forgives the adulterous woman of her sins...it's amazing. This is the Jesus I want to know and follow....not the frightening Jesus of years past.

I never thought I would say that sexpot Jacqueline Bisset was the perfect Mary, mother of Jesus, but she was. Her portrayal gives us not only the traditional mother role, but also a disciple of Jesus and follower of Jesus. Some of the most beautiful scenes in the film are between Jesus and his mother, as he asks her advise and encourages him in his ministry. The film doesn't let you forget that she was more than just the virginal girl so many religions leave her as. Her character is perfect in the film.

As Mary Magdalene, Debra Messing shows us she can handle dramatics as well as comedy. She is a very believable Magdalene, despite being portrayed and the whore legend claims she was. Historically, it's been proven that Mary WASN'T a prostitute, just a wealthy, outspoken woman in a male dominated society. If the film had gone with that version of the character, this movie would be PERFECT! That aside, Ms. Messing is a wonderful dramatic actress and gives us a heartfelt portrayal of the repentant whore. She should do more drama.

Please give this movie a chance. If you are looking for a version of the "Greatest Story Ever Told" that doesn't through King James' version of the story in your face, this is the movie for you!

Grimms Märchen von lüsternen Pärchen
(1969)

Dwarves, Witches, Princes.....and LOTS of RANDOM NUDITY!!!!!
SPOILER ALERT!!!!! Several weeks ago I watched an "adult" version of the famous "Snow White" story, entitled "Biancaneve & Co." (1982). It turned out to be the WORST movie I have ever sat through. By the time it finished, not only had my mind shut down for fear of turning to mush, but my retinas ACTUALLY HURT!!!! So, when I had the opportunity to buy a copy of "Grimms Märchen von lüsternen Pärchen" (better known as "Grimm's Fairy Tales for Adults") (1969), I was a more than a little apprehensive. I enjoy adding different verions of Snow White to my collection, but I didn't think my brain, or my eyes, could take anymore Euro-trash sex versions.

I threw caution to the wind and bought the darn thing anyway.....

"Grimms Märchen von lüsternen Pärchen" is the story of two village idiots, named Hans and Hans, who through a series of absurd mishaps become a slight part of Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella. While the three princess tales play out around them, the two Hans' spend the movie trading their prized possession (whatever it happens to be at that moment) for something of lesser value. They start out with a HUGE rock of gold, then trade to a horse, then to a cow, then to a duck and finally to two rocks, which they lose down a well. Not the smartest guys in the "Magic Kingdom", these two serve as our link to the three fairytales about to unfold.

Being the "fairest in the land", Snow White's vain stepmother decides to have the waif gutted in the woods by the castle huntsman. In the chase that ensues, the huntsman manages to rip Snow's TINY dress off her body, revealing a VERY uncomfortable, jewel encrusted, g-sting and pasties and loses her in the dark forest. Rather than face the rage of the Queen, who is also now topless (???), he kills some random animal and brings it's heart back to his mistress...which she quickly gobbles up. Raw.

Back in the woods, Snow White is still running for her life, as each woodlyn animal she meets wants to ravish her. First a wolf, then a bear, then a frog and finally a very phallic snake....all of whom are wearing little tiny gold crowns. Very charming indeed.

Passed out from exhaustion, and completely exposing her bare breasts, Snow finally sleeps off her hectic day on the forest floor. Suddenly, and without warning, seven GIANT mushrooms appear and magically turn into, you guessed it, the Seven Dwarfs. Snow wakes up just in time to see them heading off to their cave homes and quickly follows.

Without sharing this with the viewer, Snow and the seven guys decide to set up house together, as the familiar story goes. When we next see her, Snow is hanging little hankies out to dry on a clothesline...and still wearing nothing but the pasties and g-string. It's at this point that Hans and Hans come by with their cow. Not sure what to with it, Snow White tries to explain the concept of milking it, by getting underneath the animal and SUCKING on one of it's udders! The two Hans' follow suit and freak out the poor cow (not to mention the veiwer!) and and causing it to take off running. I mean, wouldn't you?!? During this little "nursing" session, the evil Queen, who has discovered that Snow White still lives, has managed to slip a poisoned comb and mirror on the rock where Snow was doing laundry. The naked princess finds the items, uses them and passes out from the poison.

A short while later, the Dwarfs, who still haven't spoken a word, find their new royal maid unconscious and run off to their rooms to get something to revive her. They return with small pots of greasepaint and proceed to rub it all over her nubile young body (?!?) which in turn wakes the girl up. The next day....

The evil Queen has again found out the little princess lives and decides to visit a blue haired (literally) old witch in the woods. The witch spends her time turning naked young lovers into various animals and inprisoning them. Upon hearing the Queen's dilemma, the witch gives her a basket of poisoned apples, which the Queen promptly takes to Snow's hideout. Disguised and an old woman, the Queen literally tosses the STILL NAKED Snow White an apple as she passes by and dashes off into the woods, where she herself gets naked.

As usual, Snow eats, dies and is discovered by the dwarfs, only this time they can't wake her up by smearing "stuff" all over her body. Deciding that the girl is really dead this time, they stick her (very artisticly) in a glass coffin, and carry her around the countryside...for what seems like days!

FINALLY, a half naked handsome Prince comes along and by giving her a magic, VERY phallic flower, he wakes Snow White up and has sex with her.....which I guess means they lived happily ever after.

So ends the Snow White portion of this movie. As all three fairytales are happening at the same time, Hans and Hans move through the story helping each tale along. Sort of. Kind of. Well, not really.

The retellings of both Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty are just a bizarre, and full of random nudity, as the Snow White one was.

Although I would only recommend watching this film if you are really drunk and haven't had a date in a LONG TIME, it was MUCH better than "Biancneve and Co.". At least with this one the weirdness kept your attention and didn't send your nervous system into a coma. Although the shock value of some of the scenes may be a bit much for some people.

Watch it at your own risk.....

Biancaneve & Co...
(1982)

How do you spell crap? B I A N C A N E V E
***SPOILERS*** ***SPOILERS*** Just when I though I had seen some pretty bad movies, I popped "Biancaneve & Co." in the VCR. Wow...was I WRONG!!!! Italy's "Seven Dwarfs to the Rescue" is an Oscar contender compared to this movie!!!!

Let me start by saying the version I watched was in Italian and NOT subtitled. I don't speak the language, but come on, It's Snow White....how hard can it be to understand????

I won't go into too many comments on the "plot", as this is an ADULT film. But let me give you few memorable highlights:

Snow White likes to give oral sex and wears a see thru blouse.

Evil Queen has a penis.

Proof of Snow White's death is a lock of pubic hair.

Magic Mirror is literally a TV with a gold picture frame around the screen.

Evil Queen "kills" Snow White with her "poisoned penis".

I could go on and on about how awful this film is. I have an open mind and actually like many of the "bad" movies out there. But this one has GOT to take the cake!

I'll bet the Grimm Brothers have done a 360 in their graves over this.

Schneewittchen und die sieben Zwerge
(1955)

Charming...in an odd way.
I've read a number of reviews on this film, mostly bad, so I decided to rewatch it. It had been around 10 years since I bought a video copy of it at a local KMART store, and the film was quite sketchy in my memory. But what I did recall about it, was that I DIDN'T like it.

This 1955 version is one of the weaker adaptations of the Grimm's story, but does have it's strong points. My video is a copy of the 1965 English language version, that was shown at "Kiddie Matinees" by Childhood Productions in the 1960's and 70's. Hosted, rather badly, by Paul Tripp (the man CREEPS ME OUT!!!!) and dubbed with poor voice-overs and annoying songs, much is lost in the translation. I would really love to get my hands on a copy of the original German version and compare the two.

The film's strongest attribute is in it's title character. Elke Arendt does a fine job as Snow White. She is by no means perfect, but in this production, her talent stands out. She is pretty, despite her horrible black wig of long braids, and makes a nice storybook heroine. She has a sweet personality and kind presence in the film.

The weakest aspect of the film are the seven miscast CHILDREN as the dwarves. BADLY bearded and costumed these kids ruin the whole picture. You can never get beyond the fact that they are indeed kids in cheap Halloween costumes. Very poor choice on the film makers.

The sets are slightly above average. The little glen where the cottage of the dwarves rests is quite cozy and inviting. The cottage itself is really just a large dollhouse, but very sweet in appearance.

The script is a bit slow moving at times and tries, unsuccessfully, to broaden the Snow White story. For example, the Prince shows up with a necklace for Snow White, whom he hasn't seen in years. He says that it's for the "most beautiful woman in the kingdom". Since Snow White isn't allowed out of her room, the Huntsman (?!?) brings it up to her. He relays the message, but is overheard by the Queen, who insists that the gift must be for her then. She and Snow White exchange a few words and the Queen snatches that necklace right off from around Snow's neck, and heads to her magic mirror for her daily dose of "self- confidence".....I think you can figure out the rest. A valiant effort at adding meat to the story, but an unsuccessful one.

If you decide to try this movie out, I really do recommend finding the German version. But definitely give it a chance. The 1961 German version is FAR SUPERIOR to this one, but this one is worth a watch.

I sette nani alla riscossa
(1951)

Watch it for laughs...and the BEAUTIFUL Rossana Podesta!
I collect Snow White memorabilia and film, so when I heard about this Italian continuation of the famous Grimm story, I was anxious to see it. I finally ordered the video and sat down one dreary day to view it. By the end of the movie, I was so slap happy from the goofy antics on screen, the cold rainy weather outside seemed to fade away.

If you watch this movie, I highly recommend doing so with an open mind and a a silly mood. This film could hold it's own with the famous Ed Wood films of the 1950's and 1960's.

Cast as the "Fairest One Of All" is Italian beauty Rossana Podesta, who in the 1960's would later be the "Face that launched a 1000 ships" as the title character in Robert Wise's "Helen of Troy". It would have been nice to see her play Snow White in a version of the original story, with a more serious plot and better director. She certainly is a beauty and is truly the highlight of the film. But very sadly ill used.

I won't give away any of the story line or slapstick humor. But I will warn you about the toilet in the ground in the middle of the forest that "flushes" the seven dwarfs into the land of the Sea Maidens. It's one of the highlights of the film!

Just think of the old Hollywood serials of the 1930's and you will get the idea. Sort of a "Snow White meets Ming the Merciless". The sets for Prince of Darkenss's (Georges Marchal) lair look like left over sets from Flash Gordon.

Considered to be one of the worst films ever made, SEVEN DWARFS TO THE RESCUE has charm and makes for a mindless 90min of entertainment.

Happily Ever After
(1990)

Disney DID NOT Create Snow White!!!!
Ok, true, this film is hardly the best sequel to be made. The story and animation NEVER get beyond Saturday morning TV quality. The songs are annoying and the characters flat. What's the point of having Irene Cara perform the voice of Snow White if she never gets the chance for the character to sing????

I know...Disney did it better. But, what people forget, is that Disney didn't CREATE the story of Snow White, nor were they the first to transfer the story to film. In fact, Disney is the reason this film is so bad.

When production began on "Happily Ever After", Disney instantly tried to put a stop to it. Filmation was not allowed to have Seven Dwarfs in the story, as Disney thinks they invented the seven little men. NOT!!!! They NAMED the Seven Dwarfs, and that's it!!! Disney insisted they be allowed to view the finished film, before it be released. "Happily Ever After" was originally to be released Christmas of 1989. But due to the "fine tooth comb" thing that Walt's minions were performing, the film was shelved until 1993. In fact, toys of the main characters were already hitting the store shelves in 1989, with the film's original title "Snow White and the Realm of Doom".

I agree, this movie stinks. But comparing it to the classic Disney version (which I do love) is really unfair to Filmation. Disney really tied Filmation's hands when it came to making this film.

Schneewittchen
(1961)

Pure Enchantment!
When the Berlin Wall came tumbling down in 1989, a cornicopia of cinematic history was discovered......children's films from another time and another place. Delightful family entertainment from one of the most respected film studios in the world, DEFA Studios. Among these films, is the 1961 "Schneewittchen"....known in the English language as "Snow White". Directed by Gottfried Kolditz, "Schneewittchen" brings the 1812 fairytale by the Grimm Brothers magically to life.

As the title character, Doris Weikow brings grace and charm to our heroine. When playing Snow White, it is very easy to be over the top with sweetness, making the audience mock the performance. Miss Weikow plays the part sweet, without sending the audience into sugar shock. Most fairytale heroines are written as helpless victims. Snow White is no exception. But we have to remember, in the original fable, Snow White is only a seven years old child. With severe objection to a small girl marrying an adult prince, the character is most often portrayed as a young woman, making her victim status seem somewhat ridiculous. If you can get beyond that, this Snow White will certainly win your heart.

Marianne Christina Schilling plays the jealous Queen to the hilt. She truly hates her new stepdaughter. Her vanity controls her life to the point of madness. Not caring who knows she wants Snow White dead, this queen prances around the castle in full peddle woman disguise, several times being undressed by her handmaid, played by Steffie Spira. This shows the fear this new queen has put into her subjects. Although they all adore Snow White, they are helpless to come to her aid, for fear of punishment. If you love to hate a villian, then this is the villian for you!!

The Seven Dwarfs in this production are adorable. Unlike most versions, these guys aren't grotesque little imps, but simply very short men. They instantly fall in love with Snow White, and it shows on each and every one of their faces. These little guys truly want to protect and care for the princess, as will the audience for that matter. And unlike the Disney version, Snow White doesn't boss them around as if they were children. As much as I love the Disney film, that always bothered me a bit.

On the whole, this film is a must see if you are a Snow White fan. You won't regret watching this!!!

Snow White
(2001)

Kristin Kruek SHINES as "Snow White"
It's not your traditional version of the Grimm's famous story, but this effort by Hallmark Entertainment (distributed by Disney) certainly has it's merits!

Caroline Thompson's script tells the traditional story of the princess with "skin as white as snow" and the jealous stepmother who wishes her stepdaughter dead. But Thompson decides to elaborate the story with several touches of her own. For instance, Snow White's father, John (played by Tom Irwin), releases a "jinn" or "genie" type creature (Clancy Brown) from a frozen prison in the ice. To show his thanks, the creature grants John three wishes: 1) milk for his infant daughter, 2) a kingdom, and 3) a queen. But the candidate chosen to sit at King John's side, is none other than the creature's hideous sister, Elsbeth (Miranda Richardson). As an "act of kindness" to his sister, he transforms her blemished skin to worldly beauty. But King John's heart still lies with his dead wife, Josephine (Vera Farmiga). So, Elspeth's first spell of manipulation is cast.

Another added plot twist borrows from another Grimm's story, "Snow White and Rose Red". Queen Elsbeth lets her raging hormones get the best of her when Prince Alfred (Tyron Leitso) spurns her lusty advances. For revenge, Elsbeth turns the prince into a bear, who then seeks out Snow White to help break the spell.

In a psychological twist, Esbeth disguises herself as Josephine, Snow White's mother, when she delivers the poisoned apple. Quite clever.

Hallmark Entertainment regular Miranda Richardson is perfectly cast as the woman who's sole existence rides on being "fairest in the land". In her usual brilliant way, Richardson's performance is deranged yet humorous all at once.

Kristin Kreuk (WB's "Smallville") as "Snow White" gives a deeper performance than one would expect. Rather than turning the princess into a sugary sweet victim, Kreuk brings out the human qualities of a teenager who longs to be seen as more than the beauty she is. Because of Elsbeth's spell on him, her father ignores her. Her stepmother hates her. The visiting prince swoons over her. The poor girl simply wants to be loved and known for the person behind the beautiful face. Kreuk was the perfect choice.

The seven dwarfs are creatively reworked as the creatures that control the weather. They travel around the countryside as a rainbow, with each of them playing a different color. Named for the days of the week, each dwarf's personality comes from the old nursery rhyme' "Monday's child is fair of face, Tuesday's child is full of grace.....". Warwick Davis, of Ewok fame, plays "Saturday". Davis is no stranger the Snow White story, having performed in and directed many pantomime productions in his homeland of England. In another creative twist, Vincent Schiavelli plays "Wednesday"....the only "dwarf" over 4.5 feet tall! Michael J. Anderson (Twin Peaks) plays "Sunday" the kind-hearted sympathetic leader of the "magnificent seven".

As in anything she is in, Vera Farmiga is wonderful. She is under used sadly, as Josephine is buried for most of the film. Thankfully she is brought back for the famous apple sequence.

If you are expecting a live action version of the Disney 1937 classic, you will be greatly disappointed. The film rides on it's own merit and will hopefully become another family classic. Thanks Hallmark!

Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows
(2001)

Lorna Luft should be DAMN PROUD of this film!!!
Rarely does a movie effect me so much that I have dreams about it and am still thinking about it the following morning.

Last night I watched the first half of Lorna Luft's tribute to her mother, "Me and My Shadows", on ABC. Based on Ms. Luft's 1998 book of the same name, this made for TV movie is a beautiful re-enactment of the tragic life of one of Hollywood's greatest legends, Judy Garland.

Tammi Blanchard and Judy Davis have the challenging task of bringing Garland to the screen. Both not only succeed, but gave the world a chance to see the Judy Garland that only her friends and family knew.

As the young "innocent" Judy, Tammi Blanchard is spunky, emotional and just damn good. It was very eerie to watch the "making of" scenes of "The Wizard of Oz", "Girl Crazy" and with Ms. Davis as Judy, "Meet Me in St. Louis". Great pains were taken to recreate the filming of these classics, down to the smallest detail. Seeing Blanchard as Dorothy was so realistic, for a moment, I almost thought it WAS Judy Garland.

Judy Davis has the carry the bulk of this film. So far, she has done an excellent job showing the troubled Garland trying to find her place in this world. All the poor woman wanted was to be loved, which isn't much to ask. Davis, as well as Blanchard, brought me to tears more that once with the haunting perfection of their performances. I hope that the Emmy people take note of this. I am looking forward to seeing the second half tonight.

Ms. Luft, if you are reading this, I you are proud of this film, as I'm sure your mother would be. Francis Gumm HAS found Dorothy's infamous rainbow, and I hope she finally has the happiness and love she so wanted and deserved.

Snow White Live
(1980)

Disney and Radio City have created a masterpiece!!!
I was 10 years old the first time I saw this production, and it is one of my favorite childhood memories! It was recorded from several live stage performances, for HBO, and I am SO GLAD THEY DID!!!

SNOW WHITE LIVE is, for the most part, a stage performance of the original 1937 Disney classic. But it takes us to places that the animated film didn't go. With two new songs, written by Joe Cook and Jay Blackton, and added characters, SNOW WHITE LIVE fleshes out the familiar tale.

Mary Jo Salerno (A Modern Affair (1996)) has the task of turning the world's original animated heroine into a flesh and blood princess. With a pleasant singing voice and a energetic stage presence, Ms. Salerno manages to give Snow White a pleasant and sweet quality, without sending the audience into a sugar overdose. Her rendition of "Someday My Prince Will Come", still gives me goosebumps! She was the right actress for the job!

Richard Bowne has the thankless job of being Snow White's "One True Love".....Prince Charming. In the live performance, he is given one of the two new songs in the show, "Will I Ever See Her Again", which is cut from the HBO and video productions. A very "charming" song, we can only assume that it was left on the cutting room floor (along with the Seven Dwarf's song "Buddle-Uddle-Um-Dum" aka, "The Washing Song") simply for timing reasons......a rather sad mistake. For the audience's sake, I home it is put back in if the show is ever re-released.

Anne Francine ('Crocodile' Dundee (1986)) is nasty as the Wicked Queen. Her performance is over the top, and a bit campy, very much like that of the British pantomime productions. A bit old for the role, yet still effective, she gives the audience a "witch" they can truly hate!

With a wonderful opening number, and a splashy wedding finale, I HIGHLY recommend locating a copy of this video. It is a rare treat that shouldn't be missed!

Snow White
(1916)

This is the most charming version of the Grimm's tale ever done!!!
The 1916 film of "Snow White" is a screen adaptation of the 1912 Broadway play, written by Jessie Braham White. It tells the familiar tale of the "Stepmother from Hell" and the princess with "skin as white as snow, lips as red as blood and hair as black as night". It was thought to have been lost, until the George Eastman House located a print in a Danish film vault.....and the film world is so lucky they did!

Marguerite Clark recreates her Broadway role as "Snow White", and must have been born to play this faerie tale heroine!!! She is the epitome of this character!!!! I only wish that I was alive in 1912 to see her do the role live on stage.

Creighton Hale (The Cat and the Canary) is dashing as Prince Florimond, Snow White's love interest. It is a thankless role, but he manages to shine.

Dorothy Cumming is the vain "Queen Brangomar", Snow White's nemisis. It's ironic that years later she would play the "Virgin Mary" in "King of Kings".....quite a turn around!!!

The rest of the cast handles their roles equally as well as the above mentioned......including Lionel Braham (A Christmas Carol) as "Berthold the Huntsman", and Alice Washburn as "Witch Hex".

Hollywood folklore says that this is the film that inspired Walt Disney to create his animated classic. The similarities between the two are amazing! In the opening of the 1916 film, Snow White is a kitchen maid, going about her daily duties.....very much like Disney's heroine scrubbing the castle steps and crooning to doves. A little brown bird shows Snow White the way to the dwarfs' cottage....just like the animated animals did for her in the cartoon. She also cleans up the cottage, in both versions, before the dwarfs come home, and then falls asleep.

I highly recommend seeking out a copy of this film!!!!

Snow White
(1987)

Sarah Patterson is the PERFECT "Snow White"!!!!
Not since Disney's heroine glided across the screen, has Snow White been so beautifully portrayed. Sarah Patterson (A Company of Wolves) is not only beautiful, but gives Snow White the spunky yet child-like quality needed to bring the young princess to life. Miss Patterson also has a pleasant singing voice. I highly recommend seeing this enchanting version of the classic story!!!

The Phantom of the Opera
(1983)

There is a reason this was only aired on television once!!!
Jane Seymour and "Phantom" fans beware!!! This made for T. V. movie has to be the worst adaptation of the famous Gaston Leroux story filmed to date. Ms. Seymour plays two roles: Elena, a suicidal soprano, and Maria, a bitchy soprano. Maria (the Christine Daae character) hasn't one good quality about her, making the viewer wonder what the Phantom is so in love about. Michael York plays the equally irritating director of "Faust", the show that the opera company has been rehearsing for ever. In a nutshell, Ms. Seymour's hair gets bigger with each scene, her costumes look like a third rate community threatre production of "My Fair Lady" (...she usually looks so beautiful in period costumes!) and her lip-synching only works in wideshots. Mr. York's hair gets more and more like Orphan Annie's as the film progesses and his costumes look like Oscar Wilde's cast offs. The one redeeming moment in this film, is when the Phantom's face is finally shown. Stan Winston's make-up is quite good.

I am a fan of both Jane Seymour AND "The Phantom of the Opera". After seeing this film, I just wanted to call her up and ask her why she made this!!!!

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