Pleasehelpmejesus

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Reviews

The Adventures of Gerard
(1970)

Indifferent
I don't think this movie is much to get excited about either but I don't agree that the "easily entertained" are stupid or that they should be "ignored" because of some perception of same, valid or no. I also think that when being dictatorial rather than critical which is the proper tone for a review, one should know the difference in meaning between "fitfully" and "fittingly." When it comes to stupidity, let he who is without etc.... I have seen more than one film which I thought was "stupid" but rarely do I think that people who disagree with my opinion are "stupid" simply because they like something I don't. I am also uncomfortable with the notion that their right to be entertained is predicated on their personal taste.

Femme Fatale
(2002)

God-Awful
This is the film that caused me to give up on Brian De Palma completely. He has disappointed me with half-good movies (Carlito's Way, The Untouchables, Raising Cain) for some time. I didn't think anything could be worse than "Wise Guys" but he certainly managed new lows with Femme Fatale.

I'm not one who thinks Rebecca Romijn-Stamos can't act. She does a pretty good job on her TV show and has turned in some nice guest performances. I think she's better at comedy though and while there are certainly ways to inject Films Noir with wry humor any attempts at doing so in Fatale failed miserably. And the huge flaws in Femme Fatale only highlight what shortcomings Romizjn-Stamos does have.

Some of the unbelievable developments in the film can be explained by the fact that the main body of the movie is a dream sequence like Romijn-Stamos being dropped from several stories through a glass ceiling and landing on a pile of cushiony insulation material that just happens to be there. But her just happening (at least I think it was coincidence. The film is very short on clarity) to obtain the new identity of a woman who is her exact double and ending up being found by friends or family (again unclear) and left alone in the woman's apartment is as hard to accept as Antonio Bandera's come-and-go accent. I never did figure out if he was playing an American or not.

Certainly the doppleganger bit could be an accepted premise on which the film could have been predicated. Instead it was a contrivance as phony and unacceptable as that handy pile of insulation.

There was one element that was the hardest to swallow in a film that was full of them. How is it that in a film that features a European leading man and was largely filmed in Europe with a lead actress who must have spent considerable time there during her modeling days was said actress allowed to very clearly call the beverage EX-presso?

I laughed almost as hard at that gaffe as I did when, in The Principle, Jim Belushi pronounced the title word as "prince-a-bul".

If anyone has ever wondered how a commercially successful director has gotten five "Razzie" nominations for "Worst Director" a viewing of Femme Fatale will explain all.

How I Met Your Mother
(2005)

Unwatchable
I absolutely despise this show. My reaction may be the same as others had to a show, "Oliver Beene", from the same creative team. I liked "Beene" but i cannot tolerate the smug/smarmy/cloying unfunny drivel put forth here every Monday night. The cast seems put together from people who make good second and third leads but are here asked to carry a la "Friends" the who load themselves and are just not up to it. Neil Patrick Harris is a marquee name I suppose but he makes his character the least convincing heterosexual since Niles Crane. Unlike David Hyde-Pierce did with Niles Harris imbues his character with absolutely none of the likability Niles had.

If you think "Dharma And Greg" displayed the cutting edge cleverness of "Seinfeld" or that Gallagher is the equal of Richard Pryor or Lenny Bruce then this show may appeal to you. It makes a good pairing with the equally unfunny but much better cast "Three And A Half Men". Unwatchable

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
(2005)

A Failure
This movie features two of my favorite actors in Kilmer and Downey. It also boasts the always enjoyable Larry Miller in a too-small part. Despite this I found it to be nearly unwatchable. Michelle Monaghan may be pretty but she is nearly charisma free and the reasons for Downey's character's obsession with her character is not at all understandable in terms of the information the film presents or the way it's portrayed. The ending seems pretentious and though the intention seems to be that the audience should join in the nod and wink the film, having failed to bring us in on the side of its protagonists leaves us unwilling or unable to do so.

Fans of the film say that those who disagree simply "don't get it". I don't think this is so. The plot was not complicated or beyond understanding. It was simply uninvolving and clumsily and obviously manufactured. I "got it". I just didn't like it. Paddy Breathnach's "I Went Down" and Guy Ritchie's "Snatch" and "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" are much better realized examples of the kind of film-making that director Shane Black fails to achieve.

I share a birthday with Shane Black but a look at his credits (mostly as a screenwriter)makes me want to dissociate myself from any other connection.

Every Afternoon
(1972)

Not worth your time
I can't for the life of me recall why I ordered this film from Netflix. Watching it brought me no clue either. Although it features a past her prime Diana Dors the film has little else to recommend it. It is stultifyingly unsexy and humorless so it has neither erotic nor camp value. The DVD even has interviews with some of the "creative" team who claim that there actually was a script. Little evidence of that in the film. If you are interested in pre-hardcore erotica with some attention to plot and great cinematography I would recommend the films of Radley Metzger. They aren't GREAT films but Metzger has a wonderful camera eye and the scripts are a lot more intelligent and sometimes even interesting.

The Golden Girls
(1985)

Where's Jean Smart
I tried to make a correction noting that Jean Smart is left completely out of the cast list in the "Golden Girls" entry but could find no way to do it. I did encounter this confusing message: "If you need to add more items than originally intended in any section, change the number selected in the menu over on the right at the top of the required section and press 'Continue'. If you originally chose to add information and would now like to switch into correct/delete mode as well, click the checkbox labeled 'Correct / Delete' over in the top right of the required section and again press 'Continue'. If you originally chose to correct/delete information and would now like to switch into addition mode, use the 'Add' menu in the bottom of the required section before pressing 'Continue'."

But I couldn't make any sense of it at all. "Change the number selected in the menu over on the right". What the heck does that mean? I couldn't locate any number. I wish someone at IMDb would clear this up and also tell me why Jean Smart was left out of the cast list.

Intruder in the Dust
(1949)

It wasn't just about murder
It's too bad iameracing wants to deny the reality of Faulkner's and Clarence Brown's purpose in the creating of the story and film of "Intruder In The Dust". I suppose the burden of a history of racism is difficult for any Southerner to bear and I can understand that. But to say that this film was not specifically about racism is ridiculous and inaccurate. YES (to borrow your use of the upper case) iameracing, there are many many many places where blacks and white people in the South get along quite well. But to deny the way that black people were and sometimes still are forced to live, the conditions and injustices they have had to endure are not imaginary. Sometimes black and white people got along because of genuine affection and understanding. Sometimes it was only as long as blacks 'knew their place'. The point of making Juano Hernandez character (in film and print) a somewhat prickly type, not warm and fuzzy, was to underscore the fact that bigotry is wrong in and of itself and human rights are just that for everyone regardless of whether we like a particular individual or not.

It would do iameracing good to stop denying the existence of racism and the great harm it has done to Americans of all stripes. The fact is that black people (among others) did not, as a rule, not an exception, receive the benefits of the justice system as even-handedly as whites. Segregation, discrimination and lynching are historical fact. People like iameracing might claim these things were not as widespread as some think and would probably love to exonerate their ancestors and heroes from any connection with such behavior. It would be a wonderful thing if iameracing's Southern ancestors (if any)never participated in any of the horrible racist actions that mar this country's history and I hope they didn't. If that is so congratulations to them but that fact, if true, does not erase the fact that others did. And even if the horrible things that were done to blacks in the South (and other areas, let's not forget the Draft Riots of the Civil War Era)were only half as numerous, only a third, does that make them any less horrible? Is the murder of ten children the hanging of ten men the sexual assault of ten women any less horrible than the same things happening to a hundred?

Iameracing asks us to get the "Mississippi Burning" chip off of our shoulders before we see "Intruder In The Dust", well I ask you, did the murders of the civil rights activists happen or not? Why should that be forgotten? Forgiven? Maybe. But in order to prevent their recurrence they cannot be forgotten or revised into minor occurrences. The racism that is displayed in "Intruder In The Dust" is displayed there quite purposely. It is there to make a point.

On a cinematically historical level it is also ridiculous for iameracing to discount the racial angle. Any viewer of films that were filmed before the 1960's knows that black actors/characters/extras were usually deliberately cast. To judge from our movie history; wars were always fought by middle aged white men; There were no black people in the Old West; it was possible to walk down a street in a major city and never encounter a black person; there were no black hospital orderlies,taxi drivers,clerks, salespeople etc. Blacks were almost never cast with regard to a role unless race was a factor. If Falukner (and Brown) had wanted to tell a simple murder story he probably would not have made the Hernandez character black.

Racism exists iameracing. Probably for different reasons I am sure, we both wish that it didn't but it does. Wanting things to be the way we would like them to be probably can't be helped but it still does not make them so.

The View
(1997)

Huh?
The notion that, as some comments have it, that Lisa Ling was "intelligent" or even "credible" is amazing to me. The "ingenue" chair on this show seems destined to be filled by the most empty headed ditzes in broadcasting. First, Debbie Matenopoulos who was/is simply downright dumb and nearly inarticulate and now Elisabeth Hasselbeck continues in her tradition. Inbetween the two we had Ling who reminds one of nothing so much as the kid who, just before the bell rings, reminds the teacher that they have forgotten to give out the homework assignment.

Worse, Ling, who could be highly and mercilessly critical, seems also to be the type who is mystified as to why she is not liked. Solipsistic to the highest degree, she seems, like Hasselback, completely unaware that other people have different standards of life philosophies. Intelligent? Possibly. I have no trouble accepting that Ling's technical intelligence is probably high. Her world view and her social attitudes are, however, cartoonishly naive and narrow.

Her replacement, the woefully intellectually inadequate Hasselback is out of her depth compared to the other hosts. The three of them are fairly smart women despite the fact that they're not necessarily the most likable people on television. More on them later. Hasselback seems to be the type of 'girly girl' who has mistaken her accomplishments for proof of her skills. They are not. Hasselback has benefited from he fact that people, especially older people, are susceptible to the batting eyes and doe-like countenance that substitutes for prettiness in people like her. She has surprised on rare occasion such as when she did not seem too ready to let Dick Cheney off the hook for his delay in giving out the details of his shooting of his friend while quail hunting. She's usually such a mouthpiece for conservative propaganda (but the 'feel good' kind, of course) that this seemed like an almost unprecedented act of independent thinking. Probably not a good idea to expect too much of it in the future. Mostly she seems more than a few I.Q points and many miles of life experience behind her co-stars.

Star Jones is not so easily defined or dismissed. She is smart and insightful on occasion yet also manages to be as stupid and hidebound as can be at other times. Her statement about not voting for an atheist under any circumstances was just idiotic. The last time I looked Osama Bin Laden was not an atheist. Would she vote for him over a decent individual who happened to not believe in God but believed in decency and grace toward their fellow human beings? Can she possibly believe that ANY person who believes in God or a god is a better person than EVERY person who does not? Her weight loss and her sadly and certainly doomed marriage seem to have taken a lot of what light she did have out of her. Obnoxious and self-centered though she may have have been she was at least lively and feisty. Now she seems to slump in her chair and her best feature, those big eyes, seem hollow and joyless.

Speaking of Joy, Joy Behar is the most tolerable one of the bunch. Intelligent and funny she seems to be the one in the group that has some understanding of men and deals with them as they are and not as she wishes them to be. I would imagine that is one of the secrets to the success of her long-term relationship. Of all of them she seems like the one who would be most tolerable one-on-one. She's also pretty clever and often funny.

Meredith Viera is an enigma. At times she seems to be the least uptight and the most open-minded yet she also seems to be quite willing to eschew her convictions when it would benefit her personally. Her son used to appear on the show regularly (ensuring daily beatings at school)and that seemed a move out of character with the 'down-to earth' image she seems to want to project. At first she seemed kind of sexy like 'hot mom' of a friend and while she still seems like the one most likely to seduce the paperboy her sexiness has faded with exposure. She is not less sexy because of any physical erosion but because she seems less and less genuine with every viewing. Also...some of the comments she has made over the years make one think that she may a little too casual in matters of, well, let's just call it 'grooming'.

Barbera Walters is one of the biggest frauds on television. For a woman who really was in the trenches when female broadcasters had to scrap for every advancement she seems to have no connection to women as a group. She is highly competitive for make attention and seems so afraid of offending anyone(not out of politeness or care but only in order to keep her audience as large as possible) that she never takes a strong stand on anything controversial. As a journalist this is proper. As a host of a talk show which concerns itself with issues foreign and domestic, worldly and mundane, it is highly inappropriate . She is also much less intelligent than the carefully crafted appearance she has worked so hard on for years would suggest. Whereas Lisa Ling had 'school smarts' and very little life-smarts, Walters seems to have the survival skills attendant to the latter in abundance but doesn't seem to have the brains to balance a check book. What else would you say about a so-called professional journalist who pronounces Wimbledon as "WimbleTON"? Can't she read?

All this being said, men who want to find out what a cross section of females are thinking would do well to watch this show. They won't like much of what they hear but they will hear much of what they would not otherwise.

The Heart of Me
(2002)

Good acting. Bad film
I wonder of some of the other reviewers and I saw the same film. While this film had great visual beauty it was slow as molasses. That isn't always bad if one feels involved in what is going on on screen but that was not the case here. It seems that many reviewers blame Paul Bettany's character's weak will and Bonham Carter's character's lack of moral compass for their affair. I don't think this is the case. For one thing I have never known love to be something one can feel or not feel at will. For another, Olivia Williams' Madeleine seems to have lost her passion for her husband at least by the time the affair is revealed to the audience. Did anyone not notice her (literally) turning a cold shoulder when her husband comes to kiss her at her dressing table? Did anyone notice the challenge in Bettany's voice when, after the affair is discovered, he kisses Williams and tells her that this is what she has coming back to her revealing the lovelessness (at least physically speaking) that would likely have doomed their marriage regardless of outside influence?

Carter does not, for me, possess the kind of fatal beauty that would make her character irresistible to a happily married man and I don't think the film intends for us to feel that way about her. Williams is much more classically beautiful and if the sister character (Carter) had been supposed to be a femme fatale then the roles of sister and wife would have been better switched. It was love that brought the husband and sister together not just a submission to passion by two morally weak characters. Yes, something can be said about the sister allowing herself to be in such a position. She might have decided that, love notwithstanding, the great wrong was not necessarily being with a married man but being unfaithful to her own sister. Still, it seems clear that the marriage was an empty one anyway with only the couples' love for their doomed son giving them much reason to continue the charade. Remember too, that their daughter was the product of angry assault and not the result of a resumption of regular marital relations.

With all that juicy plot substance going for it I still think the film was a dismal failure. Very little exploration of Bettany and Carter's life together and despite the fact that the war plays a big part in Bettany's character's demise there was very little sense of the times for the part of the film that takes place before and during the war. I wouldn't recommend this film to anyone except hard core fans of the leads (and Eleanor Bron who was so great in "Help)and as a chance to see more of Olivia Williams who deserves better than the clunkers ("Born Romantic","The Postman","To Kill A King") she's appeared in. Of course, she has also done episodes of "Van der Valk" which I would love to see but which, it seems, will never come out on video or DVD.

Bewitched
(1964)

Where's the rest of the cast?
Wher is the rest of the cast for "Bewitched"? We get the Murphy and Lawrence twins who played Tabitha and Adam but what cast members could be less important than they? What about George Tobias? The beautiful Irene Vernon? Alice Ghostley? Marion Lorne? This kind of omission is unusual for IMDb and it's particularly odd considering the longevity and popularity of the show. What's up? If you go to TVTome.com you can get a cast list but they usually aren't as thorough and interactive as IMDb. Is this just an oversight or a temporary situation that will be corrected? I hope there'll be more soon. Notonly did the cast have some newer (at the time) stars but it also boasted a host of veterans with plenty of Hollywood background and dish that would spice up and IMDb entry.

Hound-Dog Man
(1959)

The Old Bait and Switch
I haven't seen this film since my parents took my sisters and me to see it when it first came out. I was about six or seven. I thought, given the title, we were going to see an Elvis Presley movie. Even at that age I'd heard so much about Elvis that I was anxious to see it. My parents might have fallen for the deceptive title too as far as I know. I don't recall the movie being really bad (when I was that age i was just happy to go to the movies at all) but I thought the music and the guy singing were awful. I recall thinking that this Elvis guy was awful and I didn't pay any attention to him until a couple of years later when I saw "It Happened At The World's Fair". That was 1963 although I probably didn't see it until 1964. I thought Elvis was a lot cooler than he was in "Hound Dog Man" but again, the music was really unmemorable. A year or so later came "Viva Las Vegas". I don't remember whether I saw that one in the theatre or not but I remember that, thanks to the Beatles, I had been listening to the radio constantly for about a year or so by then and "Return To Sender" was a hit. Wow! That song knocked me for a loop. I couldn't get enough of it. I guess I must have thought the other films were just a couple of bumps in the road because this guy Elvis was GREAT! Around the same time I found out that it wasn't Elvis in "Hound Dog Man" at all but Fabian! I am quite proud of the fact that at only six I could tell that Fabian was a bad actor and an even worse singer.

Looking at the incredible cast of "Hound Dog Man"-Stuart Whitman,Arthur O'Connell, Carol Lynley-I'm thinking it might not be such a bad movie after all. If I could sit through the music I might consider watching it again. But I doubt it.

Viva Maria!
(1965)

Not one of Malle's best
Those expecting a clever well paced romp similar to "French Cancan" will be quite disappointed as will those who would expect a great dramatic director like Louis Malle to have a deft hand with comedy. Actuall it may not be Malle who is so much to blame. Every time the film finds a nice pace it is slowed down by the extremely dull musical numbers. Bardot and Moreau play early Twentieth Century strippers but since they never really strip there's no payoff from that angle either.

Malle slips in some clever bits of business that probably were intended to live up the dull script but they aren't enough. The dialogue is faux clever and works now and then but there isn't enough of it to occupy the mind the way the costuming and landscape occasionally catch the eye. True the colors are lovely and vibrant and the film has that big "movie" look of some of the great Technicolor romps of its period but like the strip shows it lampoons the film is all come on and no payoff. It doesn't help that leading man chores are handled by George Hamilton who is actually quite capable of rising to good material but is here symbolic of the weak and shallow nature of the film itself. Not recommended for fans of Bardot, Moreau or Malle. In fact I can't recommend it to anyone.

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
(2004)

Big disappointment
"Sky Captain" may be considered an homage to comic books, pulp adventures and movie serials but it contains little of the magic of some of the best from those genres. One contributor says that enjoyment of the film depends on whether or not one recognizes the films influences. I don't think this is at all true. One's expectations of the films,fiction and serials that "Captain" pays tribute to were entirely different. Especially so for those who experienced those entertainments when they were children. This film is almost completely devoid of the charm and magnetic attraction of those. Of course we know the leads will get into and out of scrapes but there has to be some tension and drama. Toward the climax of "Captain" Law and Paltrow have ten minutes to prevent catastrophe and by the time they get down to five minutes they are walking not running toward their goal. They take time out for long looks and unnecessary conversation and the contemplation of a fallen foe with 30 seconds left to tragedy. Of course one expects certain conventions to be included but a good director would have kept up some sense of urgency.

One doesn't expect films like this to necessarily "make sense". One does expect them to be fun, thrilling and to have some sense of interior logic. "Captain" has almost none. Remember when Law and Paltrow are being pursued by the winged creatures and they reach a huge chasm which they cross via a log bridge? Well how come they are perfectly safe from those creatures when they reach the other side? They can FLY!!! The chasm itself means nothing to them. The bridge is unnecessary for them so where is the escape? If the land across the chasm is 'forbidden' to the flying creatures the film made no effort to let us know how or why or even if.

I know that Paltrow and Law (both of whom have given fine performances in the past) were playing "types" but both were pretty flat. Only Giovanni Ribisi (who showed himself capable of great nuance here) and Angelina Jolie seemed to give any "oomph" to their roles although Omid Djalili seemed like he could have handled a little more if he'd only been given the chance. He did a pretty good job anyway considering how he was basically wasted.

The film had a great 'look' but there are so many ways in which CGI distracts. CGI works best when it is used for the fantastical, when it is used to create creatures who don't exist in nature or for scientific or magical spectacular. When it is used to substitute for natural locations it disappoints. There is no real sense of wonder. A CGI mountain doesn't have any of the stateliness or sense of awe and foreboding that a real mountain does. I know that the design of this film was quite deliberate and it wasn't necessarily supposed to LOOK real but shouldn't it FEEL that way? It just didn't.

As for the weak and clichéd script...homage is no excuse. Even so, had the movie had some thrills and dramatic tension it might still have been enjoyable. "The Last Samurai" was as predictable as the days of the week and I am no fan of Tom Cruise but it had everything that "Captain" didn't most notably it drew the viewer into its world and made us accept its rules and way of being in a way that "Sky Captain" most definitely did not.

I'd like to see a similar approach taken for films about comic book heroes of the 30's and 40's. The original (Jay Garrick) Flash or Green Lantern (Alan Scott) come to mind as being ripe for such treatment. Maybe the better, more well known and fully realized characters that those character are would make for a much better film. It would be hard to be worse.

Slightly Honorable
(1939)

A rare find
What a surprise. This film, which showcases the under-remarked comic skills of Pat O'Brien is a genuine treat which belongs right up there with "The Front Page" (with O'Brien and James Cagney) its remake "His Girl Friday" and the best of the 'Thin Man' series. Director Tay Garnett is probably best known for directing some of the better series in the early days of television ("Bonanza", "The Untouchables" "Naked City", "Rawhide")and at least two film classics ("The Postman Always Rings Twice" , "A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court"). After seeing this film one can only guess that the reason his name is not as well known as that of Sturgess or Capra or even Wilder is that he moved to television at a time when that medium was seen as a real threat to the film industry and thereby encountered some resentment. How else to explain the fact that "Slightly Honorable" is not mentioned on more 'Best' lists?

O'Brien is probably more likable (and believable as a semi-romantic lead) here than in almost any of his other films. Always effective in serious dramas he reminds us of how versatile some of our greatest stars of middle period American cinema (Cagney, John Wayne, Katherine Hepburn,Clark Gable) were-switching effortlessly from drama to comedy in a way that seems to be beyond the scope of some later stars.

Much the same can be said for Ruth Terry who would own this film were it not for the strength of her co-star's performances. Terry retired before she was 45 years old. By that time she was reduced to bit parts but a look at her work here will have you shaking your head in wonder at how that happened.

A great performance from Broderick Crawford and standout supporting turns from Eve Arden and Claire Dodd (among others) crackerjack pacing and set design,snappy clever and first rate dialogue combine to make for a wonderful hilarious film that deserves a wide audience and a restoration treatment to enhance the sometimes muddy soundtrack and occasional glitch in the currently available print. Do NOT hesitate to rent this one.

By the way, contrary to IMDb's spell checking feature "dialogue" is NOT a misspelling. Look it up.

Girlfriends
(2000)

Universal Appeal
It is an unfortunate fact that, at least in first run, shows with largely black casts do not draw many white viewers. Of course "Cosby" was an exception but many fine shows have suffered due to a lack of an expanded audience. The excellent "Homicide" with its diverse cast but black leads (Andre' Braugher, Clark Johnson, Yaphett Kotto) cause a lot of small minded people to discount it and refrain from watching. "The Wire" may also be dealing with a like attitude.

Thinking that "Girlfriends" would be mostly fluff or, worse, a watered down version of "Sex In The City" (not a favorite)I did not start watching until it went into syndication.

While the show is still not a first choice I found it surprisingly watchable and even, at times, quite enjoyable. The cast, with the exception of the rather stiff and unappealing Persia White, is quite adept at comedy and very likable as well. Despite always looking as though she is being goosed, Tracee Ross-Ellis is as good if not better as any other comic actress in recent memory. She also conveys intelligence and even manages to be somewhat sexy at times. The real sex appeal on this show comes from Golden Brooks and Jill Marie Jones whose quirky characterizations are appealing despite the flaws and air of self-interest written into them. Reginald C. Hayes manages to pull off his role as the series main male regular character with humor and likability. This role might have been a more traditional 'eunuch in the harem' part save for the fact that Hayes seems to have slept with every one of the female characters on the show.

"Girlfriends" is much more clever and adult than one might expect and the airwaves and cable lines are filled with many much less enjoyable shows. It is certainly worth a look.

Uncle Tom's Cabin
(1927)

Dated but effective
While this movie certainly suffers from the prevailing prejudices of the times it still carries great emotional weight and manages to humanize slaves and rightfully demonize the institution of slavery itself. Turkish actor Arthur Edmund Carewe is a little more believable as a light skinned black person than is Marguerite Fischer in her role as Eliza but Fischer's performance is pretty effective. I was a little surprised to find that she was once promoted as the "American Beauty". She seemed particularly unattractive to me and even though she had quite a successful film career prior to this film (her last) I can't help but think that being married to the film's director, co-screenwriter and co-producer helped get her cast. Still, standards of beauty are mutable and she is not the only actress from early twentieth cinema whose physical appeal is a mystery to modern eyes.

The oddly and somewhat eerily talented Lassie Lou Ahern plays her son Harry.Even though cross gender casting was not uncommon for child roles(nor for "Lassie's" either come to think of it) she is not very believable as a little boy. The fairly common habit in the years before and the early years of the 20th century of dressing up boys in girlish clothing doesn't help either. Still it is an amazing performance, for a 7 year old. Her acrobatic dancing being particularly notable.

James B. Lowe, the only actual African-American actor in one of the lead roles is outstanding as Uncle Tom. What is even more outstanding is the dignity and lack of minstrelsy in the way he is allowed to play him. Not at all typical of even the few films with sympathies toward the plight of black Americans and slaves from the start of American cinema to the late 1950's, this treatment and characterization of Uncle Tom goes a long way toward negating the ridiculous portrayal of the slaves of the kindly Shelby's as happy and content, even thankful (Tom and his wife proclaim how the Lord has blessed them with their life on the plantation)to be in bondage. For a slave, happiness was relative. I wish I could remember who said it but I have heard it said that 'the slave with a cruel master wishes for a kind one-the slave with a kind master wishes for freedom'. The myth of the contented slave grew out of the necessity for self-preservation and the fact that protests fell on deaf ears anyway. Certainly some slave owners were otherwise decent people who were also victims of the pseudo-science that proclaimed blacks as simple naive and in need of white guidance at one end of the philosophical spectrum and as sub-human and even evil at the other. The prevailing attitude was probably somewhere in-between. Certainly contact with slaves served to humanize them for some whites and their value as property and investment and laborers called for some humane treatment if only to protect them as such. The saintly Eva is a bit unrealistic but there certainly were many Southern whites who were rightly disgusted with slavery and the treatment of black people in general. Eva's declaration of love (and Aunt Ophelia's declaration of same after Eva's death) for Topsy is a major statement socially and cinematically. Affection on a non-patronizing level between blacks and whites on screen was almost never displayed and even more rarely stated outright. The physical contact between Uncle Tom and Eliza's mother Cassie was also exceptional. Even though the characters are both "black" the actress playing Cassie was not and the hand holding with and affectionate nursing of Lowe's Uncle Tom was the kind of action that would normally raise howls of protest from certain audiences. This avoidance of physical contact between especially a white female and a black male was still occurring even into the 1970's when some TV stations banned a special featuring a prominent white British female singer and a famous black actor/singer holding hands during a duet.

One of the first multi-million dollar productions, this film is not quite faithful to the book but still catches the viewer up in the plight of George and Eliza in particular and manages to indict the evil institution of slavery despite its concession to certain "sensibilities". A scene showing Uncle Tom rescuing Eva from the river was cut-probably so as not to give a black character too much heroic prominence but Eliza's escape over the ice floes is as realistic (even though it was done, or rather re-done on a studio backlot after having some footage shot on location originally) as anything of the times or even later. Actors and stunt people blend seamlessly and there is a real sense of danger conveyed.

Cinematically and dramatically the film more than justifies its huge budget and if a modern viewer can stomach some of the cliché portrayal of blacks and slaves and the cartoon-ish portrayal of some of the white characters they might find themselves understanding why Abraham Lincoln upon meeting Harriet Beecher Stowe was supposed to have remarked "So you are the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war!" Only a true Simon Legree could look at even this stylized portrayal of slavery and still support the "peculiar institution".

Added December 12 2005:

Wanted to mention to Joseph Ulibas that while he is right that this film marks an innovative use of a racially mixed cast thecharacters of the slaves George, Eliza and Topsy were all played by white actors.

St. Benny the Dip
(1951)

Parody
How is this a parody of "Les Miserables"? I fail to see any similarity other than the fact that both stories deal with sympathetic criminals. There is no chase, no obsessive policeman-the Sgt. isn't really in pursuit of Benny and his gang in the way Javert pursues Valjean. I don't see any true parody here at all but I am willing to listen to counter arguments.

Is it possible that you mean a particular scene? I'm going to go back and watch it again to see if I can catch something I might have missed the first time around.

The movie is pretty lightweight despite its creative team having such a strong pedigree but still, it's pleasant enough. Stander and Roland Young are great as usual and crooner Dick Haymes is likable and believable enough as Benny. It's not "We're No Angels" or "His Girl Friday" but it's not bad.

Dillinger
(1945)

None
If anyone knows who played the Black prisoner in the cell next to Tierney's Dillinger and the waiter Dillinger attacks with the beer stein I would appreciate their posting it. Also wanted to note that the only other comment I've seen posted does a good job on this film and mentions Tierney's brother, actor Scott Brady, but doesn't mention his more famous sister, the beautiful Gene Tierney.

I suppose it was his rather prickly personality that prevented Tierney from attaining the legendary status of some of his contemporaries but a look at "Dillinger" will make you wonder what would have been had he had the career his talent and charisma merits.

If anyone plans to watch this on DVD I must say that John Milius' commentary is one of the worst and most superfluous I've ever heard. Not the least reason being that one has to turn the volume way up to hear it and then lower it fast during passages of film dialogue because it's turned up so high for the commentary. It's not a very informative one either. It doesn't even contain the interesting tidbit that the actor who played Mr. Otto (the lodge owner)Ludwig Stossel went on to kitsch fame as The Little Old Wine Maker for Italian Swiss Colony's TV commercials.

Despite this gangster film and film noir fans will really enjoy this one. Tierney's performance really shines and makes up for some scrip lapses and budget shortcuts. Look for the scene in which "Specs" tells him to 'smile'. Perfect.

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