DarrellN

IMDb member since May 2003
    Lifetime Total
    500+
    Lifetime Filmo
    150+
    Lifetime Title
    100+
    IMDb Member
    17 years

Reviews

Rockin' the Corps: An American Thank You
(2005)

It Rocks
This Rock fest is a love fest for our country's Marines. A wildly diverse and select group of performers express their genuine gratitude for the Marine Corps, and perform two to three numbers each. The second half (includes Destiny's Child, Hootie and the Blowfish) really rocks, with an unforgettable climax by KISS. The picture quality (via high definition cameras) and Dolby Digital 5.1 sound are as good as can be. Several other celebrities do little more than say "thanks," but they all seem sincere, and the Marine audience of 40,000 responds appreciatively. This is a novel and pleasant diversion from a typical rock extravaganza.

La métamorphose des cloportes
(1965)

Quirky, tough-guy crime drama
This movie is about trust, mistrust, truth, and lies.

It begins with a ragtag group of petty criminals planning, organizing, and then attempting to carry out a heist. We get the sense that their project is doomed from the start, a view held especially by their mastermind, Alphonse `The Fox' Marechal. Alphonse says his fellow thieves are birdbrains. However, he needs the money from the heist to support his lavish spending on wining and dining women.

We quickly see that Alphonse's mistrust of his team is not misplaced. His safecracking `expert' deceives him about the cost of their equipment and the value of the loot inside their target safe. The job ends up taking much longer than they budgeted, and results in their being found out by the police. Alphonse ends up being the only one caught, convicted and sentenced to prison time.

Five years pass until Alphonse is released from prison. It's payback time. He searches for the three birdbrains who double-crossed him, and for his share of their take.

This movie is overlong and would be ordinary if not for the presence of Lino Ventura. As Alphonse the Fox, Ventura is as charismatic and magnetic as any movie tough guy.

I never learned what or who is `cloportes' of the title. However, an odd scene during the title sequence at the beginning, showing cockroaches running across the camera lens, is neatly explained at the very end.

I reviewed this movie as part of a project at the Library of Congress. I've named the project FIFTY: 50 Notable Films Forgotten Within 50 Years. As best I can determine, this film, like the other forty-nine I've identified, has not been on video, telecast, or distributed in the U.S. since its original release. In my opinion, it is worthy of being made available again.

Patate
(1964)

Like a silly opera, without the music
I didn't find much funny in this 40-year-old French comedy. Maybe it was funny when it was released, or maybe it was funny (is still funny?) mostly to the French. Maybe my sense of humor is warped.

The plot and circumstances of the characters in this movie reminded me of many comic operas I've seen. Without the great music, these operas would be trivial as art.

The `plot' centers on the relationship of two families. Leon `Patate' (potato) Rollo, a toy inventor, is married to Edith, a chic store owner. Leon and Edith have a teenage daughter, Alexa, the most popular girl in school. Noel Carradine, a former classmate of Leon, is a handsome, famous and rich industrialist. His wife, Veronique, is elegant and beautiful, but vulnerable to M. Carradine's philandering.

Leon and Noel did not get along well in school, and haven't since. However, Leon needs financing for his newest toy invention, and is willing to let bygones be bygones if Noel will loan him money. Noel, however, is not about to serve as `the Bank of France' for this old classmate.

Some of the `jokes' in this movie derive from Leon's inventions. There is a sausage slicer made from bicycle parts, a monkey doorbell, a calendar toothbrush, and several `Rube Goldberg' creations. Other `laughs' come from mistaken interpretations of phone calls and notes. There are several slapstick routines that you've seen done better elsewhere (e.g., Leon runs head on into a glass door, a `pistol' turns out to be a cigarette lighter).

This is a comic farce, but more farce than comic.

I reviewed this movie as part of a project at the Library of Congress. I've named the project FIFTY: 50 Notable Films Forgotten Within 50 Years. As best I can determine, this film, like the other forty-nine I've identified, has not been on video, telecast, or distributed in the U.S. since its original release.

Flame in the Streets
(1961)

`Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?' among the British working class
Some people might steer clear of this movie because of its race relations theme. They'd be missing a good movie.

Despite a few warts, this is mostly a well-acted and well-directed drama. To be sure, some of the issues that the characters confront are dated. However, other issues are as relevant today as they were in 1961 when this film was made.

Above all else, I enjoyed the dominating performance of the always reliable John Mills. I enjoyed his stirring speeches as Jacko Palmer, a leader in his labor union. I also enjoyed his sensitive handling of family issues, trying to negotiate a difficult path between the starkly conflicting viewpoints of his wife Nell and his daughter Kathie.

Some of the dialogue in this movie is painful to hear. A couple of white factory workers tell Jacko `We don't like to take orders from spades.' Nell Palmer tells her daughter `They're not like us . If you marry him (her West Indian boyfriend), you'll have a roomful of black children . The thought of them (Kathie and her boyfriend) in bed makes me sick . You're worse than a whore.' Nell uses the `N word' twice.

Not surprisingly, Kathie shrugs off her mother's acid-tongued advice. However, it's harder for her to ignore her father's advice, which is geared toward making her understand the risks of her (marriage) decision. Her reasoning is so clouded by love that she tells him `Prejudice will end someday.' Well, not in her lifetime, as we in the 21st Century know.

The movie is sometimes heavy-handed and melodramatic. Even the title is somewhat `inflammatory' (There is only one flame in the movie ... a large bonfire, a British tradition for the celebration of Guy Fawkes Day). The movie ends without a tidy resolution, but this is fitting considering the predicament of the characters and their social environment.

I reviewed this movie as part of a project at the Library of Congress. I've named the project FIFTY: 50 Notable Films Forgotten Within 50 Years. As best I can determine, this film, like the other forty-nine I've identified, has not been on video, telecast, or distributed in the U.S. since its original release. In my opinion, it is worthy of being made available again.

La vie, l'amour, la mort
(1969)

Novel perspective for a crime drama
Why are the police so interested in Francois Toledo? He seems like a regular guy, with a loving family and steady job at an auto factory. True, he does have an ongoing adulterous affair with an divorced co-worker. But that hardly seems to warrant the attention of five cops, who await outside the motel room that Francois rents by the hour. After all, this is France . land of `Amour.'

The police explain that they're waiting for a suspicious noise. When none materializes, they leave the motel to wait for another day. Seems like a waste of taxpayers dollars (francs).

The authorities do finally nab Francois, interrogate him, and bring him to trial. Even after the trial, the viewer wonders what all of the fuss is about. The viewer is uncertain about Francois' guilt. The punishment does not seem to fit the crime.

The pace slows to a crawl once Francois begins serving his prison sentence. The slow pace is purposeful and appropriate. The tedium of prison life is made palpable for the viewer, such as Francois' endless staring at the ceiling lamp in his cell.

One of my favorite images is the Sunday worship service in the ol' cell block. The priest is on a raised platform at the intersection of two hallways. The layout of the prison almost looks like the layout of a cathedral.

It's not until most of the way through the film that we learn about Francois' past. We see flashbacks, heretofore unseen, from the alleged crimes, the investigation, and the trial testimony.

Although I'm not a fan of Claude LeLouche films, I really liked this one. It grabbed my interest from the start, and held it the whole way. The only negative, in my opinion, is the political message voiced over at the end.

I reviewed this movie as part of a project at the Library of Congress. I've named the project FIFTY: 50 Notable Films Forgotten Within 50 Years. As best I can determine, this film, like the other forty-nine I've identified, has not been on video, telecast, or distributed in the U.S. since its original release. In my opinion, it is worthy of being made available again.

Le cas du Docteur Laurent
(1957)

Warm and delicious . like bread from the oven
Dr. Laurent is ready for a mid-life change in his medical career. He just left his job in Paris because he didn't feel close to the people, only `responsible for them.' So he takes up a practice from a retiring colleague as the only family doctor in the small rural town of St. Martin.

After a short time in his new practice, he discovers an important need he can fill. The villagers have a lot of myths and superstitions about childbirth: `Women are supposed to suffer.' `Women should not be afraid of a little pain.' `Only through suffering can you love your child.' Laurent wants to dispel these myths, and teach the village about natural childbirth and managing pain with natural methods.

Although Dr. Laurent means well, his crusade is resented and resisted by the villagers, by the Medical Board back in Paris, and by his expectant patients. The villagers cry `What's a Paris doctor doing here?' and `Some things should not be discussed.' The Medical Board accuses him of `unethically soliciting for business' and `seeking glory.' His patients complain `You're my doctor, not my priest' and `He makes me feel like a circus animal.'

Of course, we know that Dr. Laurent's cause is noble and just. Although their scenarios are totally different, I saw similarity between Dr. Laurent and Gary Cooper's character in High Noon . men fighting for just causes in strange towns against overwhelming opposition.

For me, this film was absorbing from start to finish.

I reviewed this movie as part of a project at the Library of Congress. I've named the project FIFTY: 50 Notable Films Forgotten Within 50 Years. As best I can determine, this film, like the other forty-nine I've identified, has not been on video, telecast, or distributed in the U.S. since its original release. In my opinion, it is worthy of being made available again.

Fifty Years Before Your Eyes
(1950)

History through 1950 American eyes
It might seem pointless to describe this film, other that to state the obvious. It is a compilation of major American and world news events from 1900 to 1950. Obviously with a run time of only 72 minutes, the film mostly includes only the tips of the biggest icebergs.

However, what I believe are useful to comment on are 1) the spin of the accompanying narration, and 2) some stories that seem major now but were omitted.

The film is so pro-American and patriotic, one might consider it propaganda. The film begins with America the Beautiful and ends with the Star Spangled Banner. The voiceover says Americans were `aided by God,' would `make the world safe for democracy,' and led `the worldwide fight against tyranny.' Also `Our country springs from the principle of righteousness,' `Others look to us for leadership,' and `Americans are firm in their right as God helps us to see the right.' Communists are referred to everywhere as `Reds' (`the exact opposite of freedom'). Japanese are referred to as `Japs' (`Americans fought Jap-by-Jap' in the Pacific WW2 campaign). The film is condescending toward women in a couple of places (`Women are, after all, still women').

There is no mention of the Holocaust (!) or U.S. internment camps for Japanese-Americans. There is virtually no coverage of civil rights, other than Jesse Owens and Joe Lewis as `breakthrough athletes,' and (appropriately) disparaging remarks about a Ku Klux Klan march in Washington.

Nevertheless, I don't regard these `faults' as reasons to avoid the film. They may actually say a lot about the attitude of many Americans (or at least the media) circa 1950.

This film is a worthwhile history lesson squeezed into a short space.

I reviewed this movie as part of a project at the Library of Congress. I've named the project FIFTY: 50 Notable Films Forgotten Within 50 Years. As best I can determine, this film, like the other forty-nine I've identified, has not been on video, telecast, or distributed in the U.S. since its original release. In my opinion, it is worthy of being made available again.

Vivre pour vivre
(1967)

Infidelity is such a hassle
Robert Colomb has two full-time jobs. He's known throughout the world as a globetrotting TV reporter. Less well-known but equally effortful are his exploits as a full-time philanderer.

I saw `Vivre pour Vivre' dubbed in English with the title 'Live for Life.' Some life! Robert seems to always have at least three women in his life: one mistress on her way out, one on her way in, and the cheated wife at home. It helps that Robert is a glib liar. Among his most useful lies are `I'll call you tomorrow' and `My work took longer than planned.' He spends a lot of time and money on planes, trains and hotel rooms for his succession of liaisons. You wonder when this guy will get caught with his pants down.

Some may find his life exciting, but I thought it to be tedious. His companions, including his wife, Catherine, are all attractive and desirable women. But his lifestyle is so hectic and he is so deceitful, you wonder if he's enjoying all this.

Adding to the tedium is considerable footage that doesn't further the plot. There are extended sections with no dialogue or French-only dialogue. We see documentaries of wars, torture, and troop training interspersed with the live action. When Robert's flight returns from Africa, we wait and wait for the plane to land and taxi to the airport terminal.

Annie Girardot is the standout performer in this film. Hers was the most interesting character and she played it to perfection. It was also nice to see Candice Bergen at the beginning of her career. I can't find fault with Yves Montand's performance of what was basically an amoral bum.

I enjoyed some of Claude Lelouch's novel techniques. In a hotel room scene, the camera pans around the room as Robert and his mistress argue. We catch sight of them briefly during each pass around the room. In another scene set on a sleeping car of a train, Robert is lying on the upper bunk while his wife is on the lower. Robert is giving his wife some important but distressing news, but we hear only parts of it because of the clatter of the train. I sensed that his wife was also unable to absorb every word due to the shocking nature of the news. I also liked the exciting safari scenes in Africa. The cinematography of those scenes and of those in Amsterdam was superb.

I reviewed this movie as part of a project at the Library of Congress. I've named the project FIFTY: 50 Notable Films Forgotten Within 50 Years. As best I can determine, this film, like the other forty-nine I've identified, has not been on video, telecast, or distributed in the U.S. since its original release. In my opinion, it is worthy of being made available again.

La Bohème
(1965)

Successfully captures on film one of the finest operas
Before writing these words, I pondered whether to comment on this film 1) as an opera, comparing it with other performances I've seen (and recordings I've heard), or 2) as a film, comparing it to other films I've seen. I am both an opera lover and a film lover.

To make this choice, I first asked myself if this film would appeal mainly to opera buffs, or to a more general (film-going) audience. La Boheme is one of the most `accessible' operas, a good `starter opera,' because of its recognizable music, and its appealing story and characters. If any opera on film might have crossover appeal, this is it.

I concluded that most (non-Italian) viewers not acquainted with opera, and La Boheme in particular, would not fully appreciate La Boheme the film. There are no subtitles, or summaries of the Acts or Scenes. A viewer would either need to know the story, or have a libretto (printed dialogue) to refer to, to understand what is going on.

Nevertheless, the beauty of the music may be enough for many viewers. The cast is uniformly excellent. Mirella Freni is a wonderful Mimi. I looked forward to her every aria and duet.

In looking at this as an opera among other operas, I appreciated some of the choices made by the film's makers. Most importantly, they did nothing to detract or distract from the music. The sets (designed by Franco Zeffirelli, who would later become a famous director; e.g., Romeo and Juliet) are mostly in muted earth tones with occasional splashes of red or yellow. The backdrops are clearly paintings, just like for a staged opera. The cast members use expressive gestures. The lighting is appropriate, and in some cases, an improvement over the limitations of stage lighting. Although the camera is usually set `in the audience,' it sometimes zooms in to highlight facial expressions.

The only shortcomings of any significance could be easily fixed in a re-release (celluloid and/or video). Subtitles should be available. I personally do NOT think they detract from the music, no matter how familiar the opera is. And the mono sound should be enhanced so long as it doesn't degrade the music in any way.

I reviewed this movie as part of a project at the Library of Congress. I've named the project FIFTY: 50 Notable Films Forgotten Within 50 Years. As best I can determine, this film, like the other forty-nine I've identified, has not been on video, telecast, or distributed in the U.S. since its original release. In my opinion, it is worthy of being made available again.

Dreams of Glass
(1970)

1970's Romeo and Juliet, without the tragedy
Ann is from a prominent Japanese-American family, owners of a famous nursery and greenhouse. Tom is from a blue-collar family of self-employed fishermen. Tom and Ann develop a playful, loving relationship, despite obstacles their families throw in their way.

The action of this film consists mostly of their dates, and their attempts to keep them secret from their families. Tom is a likable `nut case' and high school dropout. Ann is a very conservative 17-year old, but she opens up when she's with Tom. They take us on some original adventures that seem true-to-life, not put-on to get laughs from the audience. Similarly, the actions and concerns of their parents seem real, not stereotypical ala `My Big Fat Greek Wedding.'

We bounce to-and-fro among three contrasting lifestyles. Ann's mother wears pearls, drinks tea from a fine china cup, and travels around town in a chauffeur-driven Cadillac. She insists that her daughter always look `presentable,' and disapproves of her going to dances. Tom's parents, though divorced, each own a small fishing boat, one docked next to the other. They seem to spend most of their time dockside, teasing fellow boat owners, drinking from dawn to dusk, or watching TV. Tom and Ann go skinny-dipping, stow away on a truck hauling bales of straw, and enjoy other teenage pursuits.

So what does all this have to do with dreams of glass? The title is not explained until closing theme song.

Although this movie has no `name' actors (except for a few seconds of a young Danny DeVito), all of the performances are good. Despite the class and racial contrasts, the tone is relatively light throughout. The plot is not original, but the execution is refreshingly different.

I liked this movie far more than the much-ballyhooed Love Story that came out about the same time. Both are about young people in love facing challenges. However, the characters in Dreams of Glass are more credible.

I reviewed this movie as part of a project at the Library of Congress. I've named the project FIFTY: 50 Notable Films Forgotten Within 50 Years. As best I can determine, this film, like the other forty-nine I've identified, has not been on video, telecast, or distributed in the U.S. since its original release. In my opinion, it is worthy of being made available again.

Andy
(1965)

Mostly relevant today
Andy Chadakis is forty and mentally retarded. He lives with his elderly parents in a modest NYC apartment. This film is a two-day slice of his challenging life.

I can't say how realistic a portrayal this is since no one in my family is mentally retarded. But I do have a child with a mental disability, so I can empathize with two issues central to this film: lack of respect for the disabled and its effect on their self-esteem.

It seems the only people who appreciate Andy are children. As the film opens, a group of children are impressed when Andy dislodges a big board from the riverbank, and tosses it into the river. Later, Andy exchanges smiles through his window with a little girl in an adjoining apartment. This exchange ends abruptly when the girl's mother spots Andy and thereupon shutters the window.

Andy's father, Theo, resents the sacrifice he and his wife have paid for forty years to raise and care for Andy. He tells his wife Tessa `Andy costs us too much.' Tessa usually defends Andy, but even she sometimes loses faith in him.

Theo announces to his wife that it's time Andy should be committed to an asylum. Although Tessa reminds Theo that Andy is retarded not `crazy,' Theo intends to stick to his plan for the two of them to have a better life. Tessa responds `We're the only ones who love him. There is nothing wrong with Andy's mind.'

Andy's encounters outside this home are ugly. He is slighted, teased, used, robbed, and beaten. One of my favorite scenes is Andy's encounter with a blind beggar in the subway. I won't tell when happens, but it may be unique in the cinema.

I appreciated this film despite its mostly downbeat, episodic nature, and, for the most part, lack of plot and dramatic drive. However, I think there may be many `Andy's' (and `Andy's parents') in our society with comparable stories. It's important that we understand and respect them as fellow humans.

I reviewed this movie as part of a project at the Library of Congress. I've named the project FIFTY: 50 Notable Films Forgotten Within 50 Years. As best I can determine, this film, like the other forty-nine I've identified, has not been on video, telecast, or distributed in the U.S. since its original release. In my opinion, it is worthy of being made available again.

White Corridors
(1951)

General Hospital in Rural Britain, circa 1950
Like many movies with a hospital setting, this one has as many subplots as there are patients and staff.

There's the new nurse (Petula Clark), frightened by her first sight of blood, and intimidated by the head nurse. There's a brilliant young surgeon with a reputation as a playboy, who also happens to be the son of the hospital's chief surgeon. There are Drs. Neil Marriner and Sophie Dean, struggling to keep their marriage intact as their medical careers pull them in different directions. There's a sweet young lad admitted for an infected hand who might require an untried and highly risky treatment. There's a burn victim (Bernard Lee of James Bond `M' fame), his head completely wrapped in bandages, who dreads how he might appear once the bandages are removed.

Admittedly these are ingredients of a daytime soap opera. But in the hands of the Rank Organization, they make for a well-crafted collection of absorbing human-interest stories.

There are a few dated plot elements as well as some surprisingly contemporary ones. During a tour of a research laboratory, a member of the hospital board declares `So that's a Geiger counter, I've heard of them.' A senior nurse is passed over for a promotion due to her romantic entanglements with a doctor. By contrast, Dr. Sophie Dean seems like a 21st Century woman. She is well-respected by all for her competence, outperforms several of her male peers, and is a beautiful and loving wife. She and her doctor husband have thoughtful discussions about whether they'll need to sacrifice their marriage or her career aspirations.

I have only one complaint of any significance. Multiple `cliffhanger' subplots were resolved abruptly in the last few minutes. Other than that, this movie compares favorably with better known British films of the time.

I reviewed this movie as part of a project at the Library of Congress. I've named the project FIFTY: 50 Notable Films Forgotten Within 50 Years. As best I can determine, this film, like the other forty-nine I've identified, has not been on video, telecast, or distributed in the U.S. since its original release. In my opinion, it is worthy of being made available again.

See all reviews