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Reviews

Lost Horizon
(1973)

A book that uplifted my teenage years is mocked and cheesified in one of the worst re-makes ever attempted
A terrible re-make. Bacharach and David had absolutely no feel for the content of this movie, nor did the director. All the genuineness of the book is missing. First task in undertaking a re-make: 1. Read the book, 2. View the original movie.

It really looks like Ross Hunter did neither. The book "Lost Horizon" by James Hilton transported people out of their everyday lives and into the world of Shangri-La without effort. Shangri-La just appeared and there was a deep longing to be there with the characters in the book. The 1937 film was not capable of generating this passion, but it remained as true as film can. Thirty some years later it's as if there was no classic book and no original movie that made the most out of the book. Anyone reading, seeing, or hearing the originals would be quite offended by the 1973 re-make since they "tried" to make it the same film, without coming anywhere near.

April Showers
(1948)

Actors Were Delightful, Full of Personality and Life
Ann Sothern is an irreplaceable talent, and Jack Carson is always excellent. Young Bobby Ellis provides life to the fictional act and livens up the movie. The script needed a lot of polish it never got -- and would have been better if they hadn't followed Buster Keaton's storyline and simply went with a fictionalized account, leaving out the alcoholism that Carson so readily, and so inexplicably, runs to. Things go bad for a while, so the first thing you do is -- become an alcoholic, quit working, and give up your wife and kid? Not too realistic, then or now, but a typical Hollywood ploy. Carson wasn't an alcoholic and this doesn't play well or help the film in any way.

Maisie
(1939)

Delightful film, especially for the time period
Ann Sothern took charge of this character and what was intended as a one-off B-picture became such a hit, and such a money maker, that MGM was forced to see Sothern and her character in a more positive light. Surrounded by actors who really didn't fit the roles they were supposed to play, Sothern pulls the whole thing off anyway -- and she does it marvelously. Because the money kept rolling in, MGM made nine (9) more Maisie movies, and Sothern starred in them all, while at the same time appearing in other classic films like "A Letter to Three Wives".

Sothern was a class act and deserved better from MGM. They made mega-bucks off her, but Mayer was following his sexual interests, as usual, and the big money went to projects starring the girls he was attracted to.

Sothern, of course, went on to superstardom on television and became a household name, like her co-star Robert Young. The Maisie series was much better than average and Sothern is a pure delight, the likes of which we may never see again.

Another Life
(2019)

Netflix Had to Know This Was Terrible -- But They Give It to Us Anyway
This will either be considered the worst science fiction show to have ever been broadcast, or it will turn into a cheesy camp classic because of how dreadfully bad it is. It is so bad, in fact, I could not go beyond the second episode.

No chain of command? Everything thinks they have the right to be captain because "they know better"? Have these characters graduated sixth grade, let alone a comprehensive training program, like NASA subjects its astronauts to?

None of this is even remotely possible and it is so bad that you just can't keep watching.

This is what Netflix chooses to spend tens of millions of dollars on, and they expect the public to like it. This will cheapen the Netflix brand and, if continued, destroy it. There are many many science fiction shows that would have been worth the time and money spent.

This was a disaster.

People You May Know
(2016)

Well-written realistic script
Well written, realistic view of the modern gay male experience, featuring the almost always present hetero-female friends. Some "straight" men do not want to understand or take responsibility for the actions, and that is perfectly normal, too. The actors excel in their roles and the film moves along at a good pace. Kudos for a very well made movie.

Those People
(2015)

Thoroughly Believable, Wonderfully Cast, Visually Unequalled
Excellent film, immediately identifiable characters no matter what part of the social stratum you're from. We all have relationships and friendships like this, whether we're gay or straight, and some of them start early, as the relationship in this movie does. Thoroughly believable, wonderfully cast, and visually unequalled, Those People is a film of the highest quality that reaches truly genuine emotions we as people can feel.

Kid Brother
(2017)

Longstreet Holds This Movie Together
A strong, quirky, nuanced performance by Alan Longstreet makes this an outstanding film. Longstreet pulls a rather average plot into something stronger and more believable.

Burning Blue
(2013)

Witch Hunt Ends Up Costing American Lives
It is a well known fact American intelligence suffered in the post 9/11 days because we had virtually no military personnel who could understand the languages spoken by the people living in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. This was a critical chink in our armor and only existed because all the American military officers able to translate these languages into English had been fired because of the witch hunts going on in the military -- even though this was against the law -- and we, as a country, lost many battles and many human lives because we could not predict with accuracy what the enemy was doing. All the relevant translators had been hounded out of the military under these witch hunts. Some of them were gay and some were not. None of this had anything to do with being an American or serving in the Armed Forces.

Yet someone's dad, brother, son, nephew or friend lies dead because of the conservative witch hunts against the "real enemy" of the nation -- gay people. Had these witch hunts been stopped, as required by law, thousands of young men in the armed forces would still be alive. But they died for someone else's political beliefs.

No one was ever punished for the mass murders of American soldiers by American personnel.

Ziegfeld Follies
(1945)

Terrible stepchild of the Oscar Winning 1936 Masterpiece "The Great Ziegfeld"
The kind of talent displayed here can be found in almost every neighborhood in America. Some of it is, in fact, sub par, as the dance numbers could be performed by anyone in a dance program at any local university better than what you have here. Most tragic is that the glory of the 1936 "Great Ziegfeld" in its scenes of unique musical numbers and the attendant birthday cake number make this new "Ziegfeld" a throwaway by comparison. Its almost indecent for this to carry the name of "Ziegfeld" after MGM's careful crafting of the fabled showman's Broadway smashes, which are nowhere apparent here. Everything suffers mightily in comparison. The people we consider stars were truly embarrassed by this movie or they are just performing whatever is in front of them for the money or to fulfill a contract. The general public is not going to consider this dud as anything but what it is: a glaring mistake that, unfortunately, brands all old movies as being this cheap and unwatchable. Try to get anyone under 70 to watch this. It's about as bad as you can get.

The Wrong Man
(1956)

Scary Look at How Police Framed People, Particularly minorities in the 1950s
Modern police techniques were already known to police departments by this time. You should not question witnesses in the way seen here, and to rely on testimony from people with other substantiation was frowned upon. Here we have the police breaking their own rules, a common occurrence, to convict a Hispanic man and cause havoc throughout his extended family. The police do everything wrong, in terms of justice and the law, but they can get away with it. Watching their schemes to wrongfully convict Fonda turns your stomach, but this kind of police action did occur and is still occurring. The sheriff of my county routinely arrested American citizens of Mexican descent and wrongfully accused them of any and every crime he could imagine. They only got him for racial profiling, although several deaths lay in his wake. Injustice is very hard to watch, but it IS reality, and we must remain vigilant so that it becomes a thing of the past.

The Lady Eve
(1941)

An Unintentional Drama Because Nothing is Remotely Funny
A real stinker. Preston Sturges did turn out several good scripts, but this is not one of them. This is more of a drama than a comedy, and the only comedy is slapstick: all of it centering around Henry Fonda taking pratfalls or losing his balance. It's not very funny. Nor is the acting impressive. Both Fonda and Stanwyck did better in most of their other movies. The script here made no sense and was full of gaping plot holes that an audience just could not identify with. Nonsensical without being funny. This was not a screwball comedy. It was screwball. A poor movie with no chemistry between the actors will not even make you smile.

Adventure in Baltimore
(1949)

"Baltimore" was Not A Suitable Vehicle for Temple
Shirley Temple was capable of turning in better performances than "Baltimore" as she transitioned to adulthood, but the script (a flashback to 1905?) and the other actors were not people she could play off well.

Just two years earlier, Temple had a major hit with Myrna Loy and Cary Grant in "The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer". In this, the script was sharper and funnier. It was in the present day, focusing on Shirley's growth, and she had the dependable Myrna Loy to work off. Loy, while projecting a solid and comedic presence herself, always went out of her way to make sure the other actors were comfortable with her and with their role. In this case, when an agitated Temple kept showing up for work due to marriage difficulties, Loy sent her a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a heartfelt note, bonding the two actors for the rest of their lives.

Loy was the rock in every comedic group of actors she worked with. She went out of her way to allow the other actors to feel comfortable and do their best work, a proactive behavior she had learned when working with Clark Gable, Melvyn Douglas, Spencer Tracy, William Powell, Clifton Webb and numerous other co-stars.

Loy's steady and dependable acting allowed both Shirley and Cary Grant to be more expressive than the script indicates, making the movie a giant success and bringing Shirley's (adult) acting into the limelight once again. With this freedom, she could be herself and act. The result was a half million dollars for RKO and a runaway hit's publicity for Temple.

In "Baltimore" Shirley has no such attachments and no such freedom. There was no Myrna Loy to make her feel alive and open. The movie doesn't work well because there is little chemistry between the actors, even between Temple and her husband, John Agar, who did a good job with his role. A period piece was not something Temple needed. She was growing up and needed to be seen in the present day, as she was in "Bobbysoxer". Instead, and unfortunately, she is to go through several more scripts that do not fit her burgeoning character, and thus are movie flops, before finally calling it quits.

Shirley Temple had the acting skills to continue making movies, but she needed adult scripts and actors around her who were supportive, like Loy. It's a shame she hung up her shingle and simply quit. All she needed was the right "magic" around her.

Reflections in a Golden Eye
(1967)

See the Full-Color Print
See the full-color print of this film. The yellow and purple original release is hard on the eyes and serves no purpose other than to make you frustrated and give you a headache. Read the novel or a good synopsis of the plot first as well. This will make all the pregnant "silences" of the movie, in which you are supposed to make sense of everything, make sense. Huston is not one to tell a story. He throws out a few bones and lets you construct something from it. As Brando said, he was not a very inspiring director.

Homecoming
(1948)

Gable, Turner at Their Best
Clark Gable and Lana Turner at their best. The script was moving, realistic, and took Gable out of his traditional roles. That there was a new perspective reached was script writing at its best. A truly inspiring movie.

Let Us Live
(1939)

How Many Wrongfully Convicted People are there Throughout American History?
We can all marvel and be ashamed at what is happening today in certain cases across the country where the police maim and/or kill innocent people and never face a penalty for doing so. The police have become a scary brood of miscreants in the 21st century. Were they even worse in the 20th? We all hoped "modern" technologies, like DNA analysis, would stop the police from arresting innocent people. But it still goes on today. How many people right now, who are totally innocent, are locked in prisons? A majority? Maybe not, but it seems like this could be true because of police ineptitude and the inability of these forces to admit when they are wrong. This is scandalous.

It would have been better had Columbia totally ignored the protestations of Massachusetts and instead portrayed the entire story accurately. Maybe we wouldn't be in such a national quandary today if the institutions set up to protect us admitted their mistakes and planned to do things differently in the future. Police departments are still not at this point, believing that whatever they do is right and should not be questioned. Books should be written about all the cases on unjust convictions and people set up by the police -- who lose their entire lives because the police department will not reassess or take responsibility for work that is wrong. Because Columbia hid the truth from the public, this B-movie gets only two stars. They could have made this something big and positive, but caved in to political pressure.

Eastsiders
(2012)

What a Hope this would have given me
When I was a teenager, if I saw this, it would have improved my life tremendously. Very well done. Just knowing there are people like this would have been a positive revelation. The acting is well above average from the principals and the chemistry between leads is felt. The dialog is realistic, scripts are well written, and the movement onto other characters seems to carry out a theme of talking things through; better communication improves every relationship.

I would not have been influenced by all the booze and drugs, as I can't handle alcohol and have no desire to do pot. I think most people have their minds made up by this time in their life and no one could have or has dissuaded me from my predilections. This would almost always be a good show for a teenager to watch.

It is a classic - a masterpiece. Some will dislike it because of its content, but it is brutally honest. Well conceived and well executed. I wish I had the relationships the actors have.

The Great Ziegfeld
(1936)

A Masterpiece of Material Saved for Posterity by the Pomposity of this Film
Without question, the best Hollywood musical ever brought to fruition. Yes, it is too long and needs editing. Like the Godfather, it needs three parts. But this is in the first years of the talkies, give them a break.

Nothing so wonderful could be conceived today, and look at all that was saved for posterity. This is the first movie deserving six stars on a five star system. People should view this in three parts and judge it on its incredible opulence, while at the same time still giving us an interesting and compelling plot (unlike today's attempts at musical comedies).

This one has it all -- except for slick production value that comes first in today's world. How could you give all this any less than five stars? So much delight, so much talent.

The movie was advertised as a spectacular -- as you can see from the trailers -- and they charged a double admission to see it. The musical scenes -- particularly the birthday cake musical number -- had never before been seen by regular audiences, and people stood to their feet and applauded at the end of the scene -- even though this was a movie and it was still running.

The music from this film -- particularly the four featured stand outs -- puts it on par to best any other movie score, although these songs were written by different people over many years -- all to be part of the real Ziegfeld follies.

It's been almost a hundred years, and the power and ecstasy of this music has not been equalled. If you add in the other Broadway success theme songs (which were not prominently featured in this over-long tale) you'd have the start of a Beatles' catalog.

This is truly a movie for all times. It should be edited, it should be colorized (wouldn't Ziegfeld himself want this?) and it should be redistributed. Now that Billie Burke is gone, maybe a more accurate portrayal of the legend could be undertaken, using these same songs that are so tied in with the Ziegfeld Follies.

Although this film is an unedited mess, it is one of the greatest three hours ever put on film. It is thrilling in places and does make you stand to your feet and clap with exuberance. It just needs an editor with a vision.

Mister Roberts
(1955)

Veteran Actors Show They Still Have It
The combination of William Powell, in his last role, Henry Fonda, and Jack Lemmon is enough of a pull. But to have James Cagney as the nasty and overbearing captain is nirvana. The film needed more female influence, and Betsy Palmer supplies that to a degree, but she is given nothing much to work with.

The end result, though, is great, and the actors show they have the timing and the grace to carry this one through magnificently.

Saving Mr. Banks
(2013)

Hanks Miscast and Cannot Carry the Movie as Walt Disney
Tom Hanks is miscast here. He could not bring out the real Walt Disney -- who appeared every week as himself on "Walt Disney Presents". Disney did not have a forced southern accent, like Hanks deploys, and Hanks' outlook and mannerisms did not fit the reality of the Walt Disney.

It is hard to act at this level, granted, but Hanks did not even try. He simply leaned on his already successful career rather than try to act in this movie. Hanks is a movie star, but he shows here he cannot act.

The movie would be much better without Hanks in it. This probably is not a hindrance to young people who have never heard or seen the real Disney. But thousands of hours of film on Disney is still around, and Hanks could have watched, learned, and tried.

Fail-Safe
(1964)

The Superior Cold War Movie -- Should Be Shot in Color
Fail Safe was, by far, the superior movie concerning the realities of the cold war circa 1964. At an earlier point in time, the proceedings explicated in the movie could certainly have happened. The threat of a nuclear World War III were ever present in the 1960s.

The major fault is the decision to film this only in black and white. No one sees the world this way. in 1964, the world was not black and white, nor were the decisions being made by the president in this movie. There is no justification for depriving us of reality. A real genuine treatment of such a serious subject would attempt to make it as realistic as possible. Filming in black and white was a cinematic trick, thought to engage people in a "serious" film. But the trick is nothing more than a trick and adds nothing to the film. Reality dictates filming in color, and the director probably did not want the added work it would take to keep the film realistic.

Thieves' Highway
(1949)

Male Hysteria and an Emotional Potboiler (always with lack of rationality) = film noir
All of these films classified as "film noir" have three or four things in common: 1. The man is hysterical most of the time 2. Emotions run rampant and control his actions 3. Sitting down and rationally thinking things through never happens, It's all in the moment melodrama. With women of that time period, it was always called hysteria. It is the exact same thing with men, but they have escaped being pigeonholed with this label. But "hysteria" certainly fits the action of the men in question. 4. These are not just common, ordinary decent folk. In most films of this type, the "hero" is a few IQ points away from being average, but he always sits on the lower side of the scale. A man not capable of living life responsibly, unaware of the consequences of his actions, and willing to kill himself and everyone around him if his emotions take control (which is always).

These films are all depressing because the hero never thinks things through to realize that you CAN get back at the protagonist. To do it so that it means something takes mental control. Rational thought is excluded in film noir and only melodramatic action is encouraged. No doubt there is a large constituency for this type of dark emotional material. However, "male hysteria" might be a better monicker than "film noir".

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning
(1960)

People Saw Life from a Different Perspective
Perfect in its depiction of the dreary expectations of life facing factory workers in the northern UK. To be stuck in a world with no choices --would make any man angry. Women had even less of an opportunity than men, but movies showing their hopelessness were still not on the horizon in 1960. We are still looking at everything through the eyes of the main character (a male) at this time. A strong script and a unique focus on the everyday, common person made this controversial in 1960 -- and allows it to fascinate future audiences by seeing how bad it was "back then". Groundbreaking.

The Mating Game
(1959)

The Silliest of Plots Has Lost All Luster
Debbie Reynolds' screen test for the part of Elly May Clampett in the Beverly Hillbillies. Tony Randall keeps on being the addle-witted Randall -- ever the comedic foible that Hollywood thought would make us laugh. This movie was a dizzying, and sometimes frightful, albatross with the only question being: "How can they possibly go lower than this?" But, rest assured, they always do.

More American Graffiti
(1979)

A Cheap Attempt to Make Money Off the Original
A weak attempt to make money off the original. Songs poorly chosen because they were not representative of the time period in question -- only a narrow slice of it, possibly songs that made the film more money. As usual, big American top 40 hits are gone and replaced by insignificant or out-of-time-sequence songs that trivialize the Vietnam War for those protesting it at home.

Dear Heart
(1964)

Geraldine Page Enlivens the Script and It All Comes Together
Geraldine Page can, unlike most actors, demonstrate emotion and nuance through her actions. No dialog need be spoken. Page was a genius in this regard and the only actor at the time to be able to pull this movie together, which she does quite fabulously. The Henry Mancini score is also a standout.

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