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Appointment with Destiny: Showdown at O.K. Corral
(1972)
Episode 3, Season 1

The Most Accurate Ever Brought to the Screen
The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral is reconstructed per eyewitness accounts from newspaper articles from the 1880's. It is presented in kind of "newsreel style", sort of a grainy black and white. It is appropriate, because the effect is very good and had a realism about it. It makes you feel that you are a contemporary watching a re-enactment of a recent crime. In fact, "Appointment with Destiny" won 2 Emmys for this effect.

Lorne Greene is the narrator and that reinforces the authenticity. --Actors take on the roles of all the people involved and they completely reconstruct the gunfight in several stages. They follow one account and act that, and then another account and act that. If there is a conflict between accounts, they reconcile it and explain how they arrived at the conclusion. Fortunately, with regard to the "Showdown at O.K. Corral" there were no major discrepancies. I loved this episode.

I found a review online dated February 29, 1972 from the Gettysburg Times. Lowry, the writer did not like the special effects, for example the use of "sepia colored film". In an effort to create a sense of authenticity, the story was told too slowly in her opinion.

Don Quixote
(2000)

"Your life may change, Sancho."
I will begin with a short digression: Though the book was published in two parts, the first in 1605 and the second in 1615, the story is by nature episodic and some episodes may have been published in the 1500's in periodicals. In Spain, as with most of Europe, these misadventures were the source of much derisive laughter and even disdain for the knight. The author encouraged this attitude -- at least in the beginning. Cervantes noticed his readers' reactions and noticed his imitators who wrote their own episodes for the knight-errant. He may have thought that the readers are missing part of this. I'm sure he thought his imitators were humiliating the knight far too much. This is supported by the second part of the book where the author has apparently changed in his view -- in fact their might be a slight hint of admiration for Uncle Alonso. There is the charm! Could this character have changed or even educated his own author? You decide. End digression.

An ageing Spanish gentleman, Alonso Quixano, has an extreme fondness for books of chivalry. He read books of chivalry every waking hour. He liked them. He thought about them. Then he acted on them. He sold some land for funding and went to see his neighbor Sancho Panza, a peasant. After some prodding he was able to talk Sancho into being his squire and accompanying him on a quest. Alonso would change his name to Don Quixote de La Mancha, a knight-errant.

First on the list is getting knighted. After all, one cannot knight oneself. This will be quite a task since the last knight in Spain was at least 120 years earlier and the feudal system has relaxed a bit since the eleventh century. However Uncle Alonso gets knighted as easily and quickly as if it was done every Saturday morning at the local convenience store.

They have barely begun their journey, and not knighted yet, when they come upon some giants blocking their way. The noble knight immediately charges on faithful Rocinante, his horse, with lance lowered toward the villains. Of course the giants are really windmills and the arms are really the blades of the windmill. The lance is caught in one of the windmill blades and the knight is taken high in the air. ...Well, I can't tell whole story can I.

The scenery and sets are beautiful and the cast is first rate. The ending is very close to the book. The book's ending is not like Man of La Mancha, the musical. That's all I can say about it or you'll hate me. Keep in mind that this is a founding work of Western Literature and one of the first novels. Cervantes was about seventeen years older than Shakespeare. Jousting anyone?

Forbidden Territory: Stanley's Search for Livingstone
(1997)

Presume Africa
This film shows a glimpse of what Africa was like in the 1870's - perhaps what it really was like. You may be expecting romance, serenity, and wonders of nature; however: You will get the hard reality of Arab slavers who murder more natives than they capture. You will experience the difficulties of forming an expedition and holding it together. Fearlessness of disease is met with the brick wall of disease. The only romance is the letter writing from Stanley to Alice Pike which is precious little. There is a good deal of introspection into Stanley's life starting with his childhood. Though interesting, this feels like an interruption to the story of the expedition. It does tell us, however; that Stanley is searching for other things as well. The actual meeting between Stanley and Livingstone seems anticlimactic but, now Stanley discovers the unrelenting drive in Livingstone to explore. --Stanley has reached his goal and perhaps found the father that he never had. Livingstone gives him letters to take back to England and these eventually become the proof of his success. Take the challenge and go on the expedition with him.

The Seven-Per-Cent Solution
(1976)

The Greatest Crime would be not to reissue this.
I can't believe that this film is forgotten by the general public. I had to buy a region 4 disc to get this in widescreen. Thank the Muses for this disc! Any Sherlock Holmes fan will love this. A beautiful film with scenes shot in Austria and England, and at Pinewood Studios located just outside of London.

We have a comedy full of serious issues - taken seriously. Women as property: tie them up and force-feed them drugs then you can take them anywhere. Hazing and dueling: a men's club can be treacherous for a psychiatrist with new ideas. Drug addiction: friends helping friends stop drugs. And of course, there is murder.

Vanessa Redgrave is a French "mezzo-soprano" and the heroin (pardon the pun) of the subplot. I have to admit that I was not receptive to the idea of Williamson as Sherlock Holmes, but before the end of the first scene I was won over. Laurence Olivier is terrific as usual, as Professor Moriarty. Alan Arkin is superb! I am not his greatest fan, but this is Arkin's best performance (Yes, I am counting Get Smart.)! He is fabulous as Sigmund Freud.

PLEASE NOTE: I was lucky enough to have seen the film in the theater before I knew who Robert Duvall was. I remember thinking that he was younger and more fit than previous Watsons, but I thought he was very good. Perhaps he is closer to the character in Sir Arthur's books than other "Watsons" are. Mr. Duvall has since demonstrated his acting prowess as some very strong American characters. That is why I encourage American viewers to think of him as his British cousin of the same name. Otherwise you'll never get used to the accent.

Watson is our narrator. He begins by telling us of Holmes' addiction to cocaine and it is time to stop it. He and Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock's brother, make a plan to help Sherlock stop taking cocaine. Professor Moriarty, who is actually a professor rather than the supreme criminal mastermind of other episodes, is talked into helping... and the game is afoot. Sherlock and Watson follow Professor Moriarty to Venice, but it's just a trick to get Sherlock to Sigmund Freud. Freud is a recovered addict himself and offers to guide Sherlock through the process. Mrs. Freud assists while Sherlock goes through withdrawals, Freud and Watson pass the time by going to a men's club. While there, Freud is insulted and threatened by Baron Von Leinsdorf and Freud demands satisfaction. Instead of a traditional duel, Sigmund challenges him to a game of squash. Both survive (I'm not going to tell who won.) and all is well for the time being. Sherlock can't be kept inside all the time so Sigmund takes he and Watson to see another patient, Lola Deveraux. Holmes quickly determines that Lola was abducted and then escaped from her abductors. Previous to her abduction she was a recovered addict, but she was force-fed drugs by her kidnappers. What abomination! It's just what Holmes needs to keep his mind off cocaine. The three men go off to solve the crime. Occasionally, Freud takes some pointers from Sherlock on how to deduce. Holmes sees that a man, Lowenstein, meets Lola's description and they follow him. It's not long before they realize that "The Pasha" and the Baron are involved. Lola is kidnapped again and the three sleuths pursue the kidnappers. Someone is murdered. They catch up with Lowenstein and get some answers. Soon, the three are on a train chasing The Pasha's train. Well... I can't tell you the whole story now can I. Happy sleuthing.

To the industry: get this film ready for Blu-Ray with the original soundtrack and put in subtitles. Put widescreen and full screen on the same disc. Issue it in regions 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 and 8! Make good on the crime.

Caccia alla volpe
(1966)

This is Disguised as an Italian Film.
When I wrote my first review of this film, I was the only reviewer. I wrote it in the hope that it would be "rediscovered" by Peter Sellers fans especially. Now there are 32 reviews! I am glad that so many people are enjoying this film. Many of the other reviews are excellent and I cannot improve on them so I want to say some different things.

If you had seen Victor Mature in other films, none were comedies. He was in Biblical epics; Samson and Delilah, Demetrius and the Gladiators, The Robe, and The Egyptian. He was Tumak in One Million B.C.(1940) and Doc Holliday in My Darling Clementine. He's played a romantic lead, a gangster, a cowboy, a caveman, a secret agent, and a cop. However; when he is cast in a comedy as an ageing matinée idol, the theatrical impact is tremendous. The fact that he fully embraces the part makes it the slam-dunk winner of the most perfectly casted part of all time! (His sense of humor off the screen was well known in Southern California: "I'm not an actor and I have 64 films to prove it.") To contradict his self-deprecating remarks, in this film Mature proves that he can act.

Vittorio De Sica must be credited with bringing this Neil Simon comedy to life with his talented direction. De Sica's experience making comedies went back to when he was a young man and still an actor. He and his wife, Giuditta Rissone, along with Sergio Tofano, formed an acting company in 1933 which performed mostly light comedies. In "After the Fox", De Sica had a field day poking fun at Federico Fellini and Ingmar Bergman. There is one more thing of note. He was notorious for gambling. This caused him to work on some films that he wouldn't have otherwise. Sometimes he projected his own fantasies into his films -- The Gold of Cairo(?). In any case, I'm sure he won his bet on this film.

By the way, does the reader know that Gina Romantica (Britt Ekland) was Mrs. Peter Sellers during the time when this film was made.

Conquest of Hawaii
(2003)

The Most Complete History of Hawaii
The hostess is Kelly Hu and the narrator is Al Harrington. Also several historians join in to show us a most extensive history of Hawaii. There are woodcuts, illustrations, old photos, and old film of Hawaii. Captain Cook's visits. King Kamehameha. This includes explanations of battles that were fought during the unification of the islands and the introduction of Christianity. (I never knew about the cession of Pearl Harbor to the United States in 1887 before I saw this.) King Kamahamaha II and Co-Regent Ka'ahumanu ended the kapu - that is - the guidelines for conduct based in the ancient Hawaiian religion. There is also a comprehensive explanation of how Queen Liliuokalani was coerced to give up the kingdom. Then came statehood. Lastly the people of Hawaii rediscover their heritage and seek Hawaiian sovereignty.

I didn't want to tell too much of the story contained in documentary, but instead just mention some names and events to pique your curiosity. I have seen two other documentaries and this is the most thorough and objective of the three. I strongly feel that everyone should see this, especially every American.

Excalibur
(1981)

The Dream Is Realized - On Screen
It is the best film ever made about The Arthurian Legend and is likely to remain so. Sir Thomas Malory would love this film.

This fantasy spectacle is extremely well done. The picturesque renaissance-style armor is very romantic and Pre-Raphaelite. Though the armor is not of "Arthur's time", one could not imagine these knights wearing anything else.

There is clanking and banging of sword against sword, sword against armor, and men wearing armor riding around on horses wearing armor. There is armor everywhere! Perhaps hundreds of suits of armor were made for the film.

And the costumes are beautiful... Flowing gowns and dazzling jewelry (Why don't women dress like this all the time?). The Lady of the Lake is perfectly depicted in the Pre-Raphaelite style.

By the way, if you are a Helen Mirren fan, she has never looked better and believe me she is dressed to kill.

One cannot imagine a Merlin that is not Nicol Williamson nor a Morgana that is not Helen Mirren after seeing this. They were terrific. (Their chemistry on screen was aided by a personal feud going on in real life at the time, according to Boorman.)

I'm sure it was a labor of love for the cast. Some other impressive performances were: Paul Geoffrey as Percival, Gabriel Byrne as Uther Pendragon, and Patrick Stewart as Leondegrance.

The music in the film is remarkable. Dark and moody classical passages, ethereal vocals, brass fanfares -- all enhance the fantasy.

--Personal footnote: This story is basically a pagan myth. Malory's version adds Christian aspects to the story. The saints among the magic and potions of the Druids doesn't really make sense. To take a sword that is empowered by a Druid spell and knight someone in the name of St. George, St. Michael, and God isn't logical. It seems that Christian aspects were imposed on the original story. Some think that Malory was commissioned to Christianize the Arthurian Legend, though there is no proof. I only mention this as an explanation why these things are mixed together.

J.R.R. Tolkien stated in an interview that he believed the whole story to be a prank by the French. He also stated that it was one reason why he wrote The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.

In closing, I want to say that no facts will ever get in the way of this story. This is a wonderful story and a wonderful film.

The Girl from Petrovka
(1974)

Another Side of Goldie Hawn/This is Not a Comedy
When a great actor performs, his performance may be so convincing that the audience may not recognize him. So it is with Anthony Hopkins and his character Kostya. His face is in front of you, but it's a few minutes before you realize it is Anthony Hopkins. For this performance alone you should watch the film. But, there's more... Goldie Hawn plays a serious character. Her eastern European accent is done well and her acting is impressive. The story begins with Joe (Hal Holbrook),a middle-aged journalist, who has won some literary awards and is currently working in Moscow for an American newspaper. His much missed ex-wife has recently died and there are a few things of hers in his apartment so he decides to sell them. He asks Kostya, a local friend and informal broker, to help sell her possessions. At this rummage sale is where our story gets moving. Oktyabrina (Goldie) is a young Russian woman who is in Moscow without papers. She is mysterious. She holds her friends at a distance while she flits around with her own mostly unknown agenda. Joe is immediately entranced. He finds out that a kindly Russian official (Gregoire Aslan) is seeing her. Though Kostya is "spoken for", he is Oktyabrina's friend and helps her from time to time. Though it ends sadly in a somewhat abrupt way, it is well worth watching. note: There is a Swedish DVD in widescreen. You must have a player capable of playing Region 2, PAL, discs of course. When you insert the disc into the player, pick a Scandinavian language to get to the main menu and then you can remove the subtitles.

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