Ken is a young NYC advertising copywriter born and raised in Rochester, NY who is a hometown square "moma's boy." He is dating Pam, a free-thinking, independent, working woman Kindergarden teacher who for some reason, pretends to be a Greenwich Village 'beatnik' artist because that's what's hip and what she thinks will make her attractive to Ken. Pam wants a serious relationship, but Ken only deems her worthy of 'friends with benefits' status. Ken and Pam plan to spend an upcoming weeks' vacation together exploring NYC, but when Ken's mother calls him and pressures him to spend the vacation back home in Rochester with family, he easily capitulates and cancels his plans with Pam - whom he deems unworthy of meeting his family.
Although Ken is disrespectful to Pam and is a spineless moma's boy, Pam spends most of the program pursuing and chasing after him, as if he is some kind of prize catch - even following him uninvited to his Mom's home in Rochester to try to win he and his family over. In the end, Pam is made to admit she was lying about being a 'beatnik' and had to apologize and acquiesce to moma's boy Ken to save their relationship. Comical.
This 1960 program is one of many during the time period that to different degrees, painted unflattering portraits of the beat generation, its movement, and its critical- thinking people. Dozens of TV shows and movies of this period - Dobie Gillis, The Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and especially the movie 'The Subterraneans' (1960) among many others, literally lined up to take humorous pot shots, presenting 'beat' characters who were often homogeneous, superficial, idiotic, and perjoratively labeled 'counter-culture.' In "Queen of the Orange Bowl," you get such a portrait in the character, Pam, who despite her obvious superior attributes is made to disavow the beatnik life for someone half her worth. Any social movement that questions the status quo will always be attacked - coyly or not so - by the media outlets owned by the status quo. Its inevitable.
Very seldom is the remake of a film better than the original, but this film is pleasantly one of the few exceptions. First of all, it is unknown to this reviewer why this film was remade so soon. Generally, film remakes are done after a generation of time has passed (20 years), but this film was remade just 8 years after the original in 1933. In addition, the original film cast was led by a cadre of Hall of Fame performers in their own right - Myrna Loy, Alice Brady, Frank Morgan, Ann Harding, and Robert Montgomery. You'd figure with a cast this good, how is any remake going to improve on those performances? Logical question. Yet, remarkably the five leads in this remake, pound for pound, improve on each of the original performances.
After waiting to see this movie after years of reading about its critical acclaim, I found the script a bit disappointing. Here is a film that is often touted for its "ahead of its time" dealings with racial and gay subject matter, but I found nothing ahead of its time with regards to the dialogue for either subject.
Young Jo and her mother are poor white trash residents of working class England living a nomadic gypsy life together, constantly arguing and insulting each other so frequently, you wonder how and why they live together. Mom gets behind in the rent and they duck out on the landlord first opportunity, wandering to wherever Mom finds her next male friend. Young Jo eventually meets a young good-looking black Merchant sailor who has stable employment and seems to have more on the ball than both Jo or her Mom. They develop a romance over a few days - not a "one night stand" - as descriptions often state. They profess their love for each other and the sailor gives Jo a friendship ring. The sailor departs when his ship sails on a scheduled trip, but at their meeting on the pier before it departs, he asks her to remember him and promises to return.
In his absence, her loneliness returns until she meets up with Geoffrey, a gay male who eventually moves in with her and her mother. Jo later discovers she is pregnant with the sailor's child, then inexplicably asks Geoffrey to serves as the father of the sailor's child. He agrees. Apparently, Jo has evaluated the prospects of raising a mixed race child in Britain along with maybe assessing her own personal prejudices about maintaining a lifelong relationship with its father, and decided she will be better off cutting all ties with the child's father. Strangely, this decision is made with no consultation or consideration for the father who by every indication in the film, planned to return to her when his ship completed its voyage (he is from Liverpool). Unfortunately for Jo, as the constant family bickering continues, both her mother (who marries her latest beau and moves into his house) and Geoffrey both leave her in a lurch, pregnant and alone, and she is left to contemplate her future.
What's comical in the film is that Jo and her mother have all the characteristics of white trash demographic, yet Jo frequently refers to the neighborhood kids as "filthy" and "dirty" as if she was somehow better and both her and her mother seem to look at the child's father as sufficient for a night of sex and comfort, but unworthy as a life partner. This is more an indictment of the attitudes of these two women and general British society rather than any deficiency of the child's father. The film is silent on with whom the fault lies, and the viewer is left to decide whether the fault lies in the stars or in Jo herself.
For those who associate the movie with the song of the same name, two things: (1) The song is not part of the soundtrack and apparently was written - as many songs have been over the years - to both benefit from and serve as a promotion vehicle for the film. (2) We often expect a movie that has a great song title to measure up to the popularity and quality of the song, such as 1944's "Laura," where both song and movie are equal and eternal classics. That doesn't happen here. The movie comes up short comparatively speaking vis a vis the well known and exceedingly popular song written by composer Bobby Scott.
You will find it difficult not to enjoy the story of Ms O'Day's life. She was the ultimate survivor; a solid representative of Tom Brokaw's 'Greatest Generation,' sans the uniformed military service. In the documentary she is shown singing a marvelous rendition of Billie Holiday's composition "Travelin' Light," an appropriate choice because they were birds of a feather in so many ways.
The major flaw in the documentary comes from the comments of a couple of individuals interviewed in the film - most notably the daughter of pianist Joe Albany - who give the impression that there is a correlation between the musical freedom in modern jazz (aka 'bebop') and the personal mental "freedom" that Ms O'Day and other musicians derived from narcotics use; that is, the narcotics somehow contributed to Ms O'Day's ability or effectiveness in singing in a "freer" modern style. It's understandable how this correlation can be mistakenly made. It is a charge that has plagued jazz musicians since the birth of the music. And, with the prominent number of modern jazz musicians who either did drugs or were alleged to, most noticeably the undisputed leader of modern jazz, Charlie Parker, one can see how easy it is to conclude there must be some truth that the drugs somehow aided the playing.
Pianist Joe Albany experienced a similar extended drug addiction as did Ms. O'Day, so I fully respect the opinion of his daughter regarding drug use by musicians during this era. She speaks from the inside. However, it was Parker himself on several well known occasions who dismissed the idea that drug use somehow enhanced or benefited his playing. In addition, there are too many examples of excellent and Hall of Fame level modern jazz musicians who did not succumb to drug use or addiction, yet were able to reach an exceptional playing proficiency.
Ms O'Day's drug use seems due more to issues haunting her from her fractured childhood and adult interpersonal relationships as well as the inevitable pressures that come with a career as a public performer, more so than anything having to do with trying to improve her musicianship. Not surprisingly, this is a consistent theme for drug use by all demographic and socio-economic groups, be they jazz musicians or not. For most of these individuals, the "freedom" drugs provide is from the anxieties and pain associated with bad relationships and work and living pressures - the drugs provide no direct aide to learning or playing the music.
Performance pressures are often underestimated, but can be insidious. Singer Jeri Southern, for example, suffered deteriorating health from extreme anxiety attacks resulting from her fear of performing in public. Her problem was so overwhelming that at age 35, while still near the height of her popularity, she completely retired from performing and returned home to Nebraska for a more quiet life away from the music performance stage. Maybe an argument can be made that once drugs have been used to suppress the anxieties and pain, the musician is then 'freer' to concentrate on the music unencumbered. Maybe so. But the implication that drug use directly aided in the improved facilitation of the music is inaccurate and should not have been implied in the film with regards to Ms O'Day, since it is a misnomer musicians have been battling for decades. Jazz musicians who took drugs largely did so for the same reasons others in our society took drugs: to suppress anxieties, pressures, and pain brought about by a variety of individual experiences.
Hadn't heard of this Stewart title before catching it during a recent run on the Fox movie channel. It's well worth a watch. It does a nice job of capturing the post WWII atmosphere in America as families turned their attention away from the war and the pre-war depression and forward to new economic prosperity and growth. It is in this atmosphere that an average family living a simple life in small town Indiana answers a radio contest question and wins a $24,000 prize, which today probably amounts to 10 times as much. The resulting humorous complications that arise both at home and at work for Stewart and his family after he becomes a prize winner are hilarious.
From the movie description, you would think this is the kind of plot line that the writers would give cursory treatment, but I was surprised at the quality of the writing. I should have known better since James Stewart is not likely to agree to take a lead role in a poorly written work. Stewart has a solid surrounding cast who also all deliver ably - Barbara Hale, Fred Clark, James Gleason, Bob Gist and others, including young Natalie Wood. This is a nice romp and worth viewing.
Two people are murdered in this film by Broderick Crawford and what stood out was that you do not see him being brought to justice for the murders. Not strange by today's movie standards, of course, but movies of this period and earlier seem to always enforce a morality code on wrongdoing, so it was a bit refreshing not to see this film show us that forced consequence. I found the film well directed by Lang and equally acted. Gloria Grahame plays her stereotypical Noir role. If you are going to have a relationship with Ms Grahame in any of her films, you can bet your bottom dollar you are going to be in the middle of intrigue, danger, and complications. This is what she always seems to bring. As one of my co-workers use to say, "she's a pistol." Excellent performances here by all and a film worth viewing. Have not seem the original film on which this is based, so cannot make a comparison.
Brahms Symphony No 3 Third Movement strikes again!
This is an excellent movie well worth viewing. As the film opens, you hear the Brahms theme and it triggers memories of the 1946 film "Undercurrent" starring Katherine Hepburn and Robert Taylor. I hoped the film would equal it in quality. It does. Well written, beautifully shot in France, and well acted, it clicks on all cylinders. Surprising for me (and maybe it should not have been) was Ms Bergman, 20 years after "Casablanca," looking as gorgeous as she did 20 years prior and demonstrating the acting separation that distinguished her from the mere pretty-faced Grable, Turner, and Gardner. I may be late to the dance, but I am now convinced as an actress she stands on the front line with Hepburn and Davis. She can really bring it.
For some strange reason, many have unfairly criticized Tony Perkins in his role as the young infatuated lover, often referencing his then recent (and to be definitive) role in "Psycho". This is nonsense. Perkins was an actor of great breath, which included the New York dramatic and musical stage. Check him out in Stephen Sondheim's 1966 Stage 67 TV special "Evening Primrose." You wouldn't get cast to premiere Sondheim material in 1966 if you didn't have your sh*t together. Perkin's character in "Goodbye Again" does demonstrate some quirky love-driven behavior (like stalking), but its reflective of the adolescent character he is playing and has NOTHING to do with his performance in "Psycho." Who knows, the script writer could have in fact added some of this quirkiness expressly to play off of his recent Psycho role. Remember, Perkins didn't write the script, he merely acts it out well.
Also of note is the a brief cameo role played by Diahann Carroll as a Paris jazz club chanteuse (jazz aficionados will recognize American jazz expatriates Kenny Clarke on drums and Eli 'Lucky' Thompson on tenor sax, both major modern jazz associates of Gillespie and Parker in New York in the 1940's and 1950's). Carroll was in Paris in 1961 for this movie and her next released the same year, "Paris Blues." These two roles were seen by Broadway composer Richard Rodgers and it influenced him to write his next Broadway musical, "No Strings" (opened in NYC March 1962) expressly for Ms Carroll. Coincidentally, the musical was about love in Paris. Both Ms Carroll and Mr. Rodgers won Tony awards for this musical.
This is an excellent love story without the usual forced, corny Hollywood happy ending. Bergman is so appealing in this film that you wonder how Yves Montand could be sleeping around with other women. But when you see the willing, delectable young women he sleeps with, you can understand if not excuse his behavior. Love is always complex.
This is a Love story among members of the Poor People of Paris, where Jimmy Stewart plays a working class sewer worker. Given his lot in life, Stewart's character expresses little faith in God, but after he befriends an abused prostitute (Diane), in her he finds the catalyst for an improved prospective on life. This symbolizes the potential power of positive relationships. This is a remake of the silent film of the same name from 10 years earlier that won three Academy awards, including one for Janet Gaynor for best actress.
Interesting of note is the romantic music theme "Diane" which plays throughout the film. Although the tune was written in 1927 for the original silent movie version of this film, most today will remember it from the pop hit the Irish group 'The Bachelors' had in 1964. Singer Billy Daniels had actually previously made the tune popular in the 1940's, when he made it his #1 song to sing on his NY radio broadcasts. Jazz trumpeter Miles Davis was later perceptive enough to have recorded the tune with John Coltrane on his classic 1956 album "Steamin' with the Miles Davis Quintet."
The lyrics are never heard in the film, but a review of the lyrics find them spot-on with the story:
"I'm in Heaven when I see you smile; smile for me my Diane. And though everything is dark all the while; I can see you Diane. You have lighted the road leading home; Pray for me when you can. For no matter wherever I roam; Smile for me my Diane."
Ever see a film where the supporting actors should be billed ahead of the leading ones?
Despite being billed below Tyrone Power and Dorothy Lamour, the best performer in this film is Hall of Fame character actor Edward Arnold ("Meet John Doe," "Mr Smith Goes to Washington," etc). While his performance here does not exceed his marvelous role in "Doe," he is clearly the best actor on the set, followed by fellow Hall of Famer Lloyd Nolan. This film is an excellent example of the value of solid secondary performers. Pretty boy and girl Power and Lamour may have sold the movie tickets here, but Arnold and Nolan supplied the acting.
Also of significant note here is Frank Loesser's tune "Dancing for Nickels and Dimes," sang, played, and danced superbly by Lamour, chorus, and orchestra in a night club scene which is also brilliantly shot by film Director Hathaway.
No car chasing; no explosions; no gun murders; just straight ahead writing in a solid script about human characters. David Niven - and I never really was a major fan - is supreme in this role. His Oscar here was well earned. Right behind him is Deborah Kerr performing admirably in a role atypical of her normal fare. Highly recommend. No car chasing; no explosions; no gun murders; just straight ahead writing in a solid script about human characters. David Niven - and I never really was a major fan - is supreme in this role. His Oscar here was well earned. Right behind him is Deborah Kerr performing admirably in a role atypical of her normal fare. Highly recommend.
When Lee Remick makes her initial appearance, she leads the majorettes in a school cheer (and boy does she look great doing it) that includes the shout: "Bum get a rat trap bigger than a cat trap; bum get a rat trap bigger than a cat trap." Rodgers and Hart fans will recall that in the 1939 musical, 'Too Many Girls' the Coeds at Pottawatomie College in New Mexico sing this same identical phrase cheering on the school's football team in the song 'Look Out!'. The song was later performed on film when RKO did the movie version of Too Many Girls, casting Lucille Ball in the lead. Fascinating.
Later in the film Lonesome Rhodes hosts Senator Fuller on his TV show. Rhodes can be heard in background conversation on the TV saying: "In my hometown of (Riddle?), we thought you got a headache from guzzling too much raw whiskey. We didn't know that swallowing too much raw politics can put a crease in your head a whole lot deeper than that 'kickapoo joy juice' we use to concoct back in Arkansas." Students of Duke Ellington's music know that "Kickapoo Joy Juice" is the title of one of Duke's 1940's compositions and can be heard on the CD Duke Ellington Orchestra Carnegie Hall Concert December 1947. I always wondered what the Duke was referring to with that title.
Great Start, But Utimately Gets Too Sentimental and Corny
This film starts very strong with Robert Taylor playing a Ivy League-trained Reserve Navy Officer who so far during WWII has become accustomed to serving duty in an assignment on the fringe of the war as an Admiral's aide where he enjoys plenty of hobnobbing with females at Washington DC social events. His commitment is put to the test when his boss assigns him as Executive Officer of a rusty WWI Tin Can that he must now man and ready for deployment.
Brian Donlevy is solid as always as the Tin Can's skipper and given our current Middle East military call-ups, the film points to some interesting issues regarding the Reservist Taylor serving on active duty in wartime. A film worth watching, but ultimately, however, it saps itself too deep in corny WWII patriotic sentimentality, thereby missing an opportunity to become one of the better war films.
What Escapist Technicolor Twaddle...Trouble in Tahiti, indeed!
This is typical Hollywood revisionism with the US Cavery constantly talking about peace and respect for the Apache, while all the Indians want is to kill and destroy. Nonsense. I could never figure out the Charlton Heston character. He plays someone who learned everything he knows from having lived and been raised by the Apaches, yet he hates them with a vengeance, always referring to them in degrading and subhuman terms. At home, however, he has no problem using the beautiful Mexican-Apache laundress (Katy Jurado) as his concubine.
Poor Katy Jurado. Only a year away from her pillar 1952 role in 'High Noon,' this doll, with more class and talent in her little finger than most of her female Hollywood contemporaries, can only get offered this role playing a half-breed concubine to a hate-mongering character who insults her at will and doesn't deserve her company. Kind of puts it in perspective why 40 years later we similarly didn't see most of the intelligent kids from 'The Cosby Show' cast in any roles of substance once that non-stereotypical show ended. Maintaining your integrity while remaining employed is a monumental challenge for many in Hollywood. No wonder Katy never relinquished her Mexican citizenship or Mexican movie acting career.
The end credits to the movie state that Heston's character is based on the true life of the Army's Chief of Scouts during this period, Al Sieber (1844-1907). If so, it isn't exactly a flattering portrayal. After seeing the movie, I wonder if Sieber's family sued the studio for 'definition' of character. Watch this one only if you've never seen how Hollywood depicted American Indians in the West.
This movie is full of too many negative messages, inconsistencies and stereotypes to be rated anywhere near being a 'classic.' Two police officers are awarded at the end of the film - one gets the beautiful girl, and the other gets his second police medal - and you are left wondering, "huh?" The officer who gets the girl is a complete thug of a police officer with complete disdain for proper police procedures and due process. His method of choice when seeking information and dealing with disappointing situations is to get physical or to abuse and threaten whomever he is dealing with - citizens, his girlfriend or even fellow cops. The film awards him the girl (a high-class hooker) after he established a 'relationship' with her while he was working on a murder case in which she is significantly involved.
The other officer who receives the police medals is suppose to be the films moral compass. During the film he speaks up on the transgressions and immorality in the LAPD, but we too find him later making intense physical sexual advances (he actually literally rapes her)at the high-class hooker who has already been sleeping with his thug cop coworker. At the end of the film, Mr Moral Compass then proceeds,in summary judgement style, to kill another officer -unnecessarily shooting him in the back - after the latter cop had been apprehended for murdering other police officers and aligning himself with the local MOB drug trade. This repeated issuance of summary judgments at the barrel of a gun in this film with no retribution is disturbing.
Also disturbing is the fact that in this film of 1952 Los Angeles, the only Black faces seen in the entire film are three criminal youths who, after being rounded up and interrogated, admit to the senseless rape of a Mexican girl. With aid from an unverified and false police statement from the rape victim, the three youth then are also charged with conducting the multiple diner murders which are at the heart of the movie's story. After somehow escaping police custody, the three youths are later summarily gunned down in a violent police raid at their residence. A fourth unnamed older black man is found watching TV in one of the rooms in the house where the rape occurred, but he is for no reason summarily murdered by the thug cop before he is even questioned on the extent of his involvement. Of course, there is no accountability for this murder, as the officer is later seen riding off in the sunset with the pretty girl at movies end.
Sure its "only a movie," and after all, 'LA Confidential' is all about corruption and vice rampant in the LAPD during this period. However, no "classic" presents all these inexplicable, incongruous and unresolved issues without even attempting to address them. The oversight is too obvious. The 1950's nostalgia, slick production values and sharp wardrobes can't hide these missing elements of the film. It's about as visible as the Grand Canyon.
Just finished watching this movie after seeing the 2003 PBS documentary "Lawrence of Arabia: Battle for the Arab World," which adroitly lays out how in 1916 the French and British brokered a back room deal (known historically as the 'Sykes-Picot Agreement')during World War I which secretly 'decided' how ownership of the vast and varied Middle Eastern Arab ancestral homelands would be controlled by the European powers after the war. This deal was made by the British while they were simultaneously promising, thru its trusted Military Officer in Arabia, T.E. Lawrence, independence to the Arab freedom fighters after the war. The Brits promise was as reliable as those made by the US in American Indian Treaties. After the Arabs defeated the Ottoman Army and won their freedom in the Middle East, the British and French moved in and took control of Arab lands at the close of WWI. France was given "ownership'of Syria among other Arab territories at the post-WWI peace conference, setting the stage for the period of this movie in 1925, when the Syrian freedom fighters are fighting the invading French terrorists for control of its homeland and Bogart plays a Halliburton-like character (a young Dick Cheney maybe?) engaged in profiteering from the conflict.
There are two major flaws in the script that have been alluded to in some of the reviews included herein. One reviewer writes that he is "impressed by the way 'Sirocco' refused to overtly side with either the French or the Syrians." Nonsense. In the film, it is the Syrians who do not honor their word and in a coy double-cross, kill our cinema hero Bogart in the end. In a previous scene, the French are portrayed as honoring their word by giving Bogart the travel Visa he was promised despite him admitting to brokering a secret and dangerous meeting between the Syrians and the head French Intelligence Officer (Lee J Cobb). This is a coy way of the movie siding with the French since the subliminal (and not so subliminal) takeaway is that the Arabs word can't be trusted. You are expected, of course, to disregard who's in whose fruggin' country anyway causing the problem.
Several other reviewers here have made reference to how at the end of the film the opportunist Bogart still manages to "do the right thing" or support "the right cause." This is more nonsense. What they are referring to is Bogart's decision to lead the French to Syrian headquarters to attempt to negotiate the 'release' of the French intelligence officer who had voluntarily traveled to Syria to attempt to initiate some kinda undefined "peace talks." The question to ask yourself is how is anything Bogart's character does to support the French in this movie considered "noble" or the "right thing?" It is 1925, and the French have invaded an innocent and non-threatening foreign people and their homeland. Supporting the invader isn't "nobel," its criminal. Supporting Syria is what would be nobel. The Syrians are not at fault in this conflict for defending their homeland from invasion. Another reviewer writes "Yes, its the Syrian's home, but their 'tactics' are sickening." That's an odd statement, since they use pretty much the same 'tactics' our Revolutionary 'founding fathers' used in America, and America wasn't even the founding fathers' ancestral homeland! Besides, I'd like to see what 'tactics' that reviewer would use if a foreign terrorist group burst in his home, killed several family members, and took ownership of his assets. I doubt that his 'tactics' would consist of cordial discussions over a cup of tea.
As a 20 year Military veteran, I was attracted to the intriguing question that is the title of this movie. Deciding whether or not to watch it becomes a no-brainer when you see the list of names that make up the ensemble of the cast: Ernie Borgnine, Ivan Dixon, Don Ameche, Art O'Connell and the great John Fiedler are all solid actors and have appeared in some of the best films in the history of American cinema. (check out their collective credits if you doubt it.)
This film is an underrated one in the canon of films dealing with the U. S. Military. The script, although not perfect, is well written, with subtle and witty commentary on the military hierarchy, prevailing social attitudes, and the precarious relationship between our Vietnam-era military and the civilian community (i.e. "community relations"). No heavy military rigidness here; the flow is free and easy as in 'Catch-22' to provide a frame of reference. Or, as Stephen Sondheim wrote around the same period in "Anyone Can Whistle," the 'laugh at the Kings, or they'll make you cry' approach.
As would be expected, Brian Keith is solid, but surprisingly even Tony Curtis manages to turn in a relatively piped-down performance from his usual fare which, to quote America's best known homemaker Martha Stewart, 'is a good thing.'
Hi, we're from the Government and we're here to help
This film is utter nonsense. An absolute propaganda piece for J Edgar Hoover's FBI ("this film was produced from actual files and with the total cooperation of the FBI" it proudly proclaims in its opening credits). No doubt this helped fan the post WWII fear levels among the masses, which together with other fear mongering efforts, left Americans ripe for exploitation, as the regressive social legislation and Committee on UnAmerican Activities were soon to prove. Don't reflect too deeply on the film's hysteria, or you might figure out that the current Administration is in the midst of running the same program on a new generation of suckers. Same sh_t, different day I think they call it.
This film is full of exaggerated efficiencies and phony heroics. We have just seen from 9-11, most of these guys were either asleep at the switch or busy punishing or intimidating whisleblowers when the country was about to be attacked in 2001. Oddly, the film never informs us how Hoover ran such an 'efficient' department as a (later proved) Crossdresser. Or how about the FBI agents during the period of this film who worked in cahoots with the Ku Klux Klan and Jim Crow Sheriffs to stifle the freedoms of millions of taxpaying American citizens. Give me a break.
Pay no attention to the reviewers on this site who have rated this propaganda film highly; they are obviously lapdogs for Government PR. These are the same people who deplete America's store shelfs of duct tape and bottled water every time Homeland Security changes the color- code on its ingenious "threat level" monitoring scale ("Uh oh, they just changed the threat level from amber to orange. Honey, we need 12 more cases").
Quiet Simply One of the Best Music Documentaries Ever Made
They don't get much better than this. This is one of those films that after viewing, you want to thank the producers for capturing and preserving the events for all of us to repeatedly enjoy.
I came to this project knowing little of Sting and his music and being more familiar with the work of the Saxophonist, Brandford Marsalis, of the renown New Orleans Marsalis music family. I later learned that Sting was receiving much of the same criticisms Mr. Marsalis and his fellow musicians were receiving for joining in on this project of merged rock/jazz/blues/funk idioms. However, as we all know, the critics travel at a slower speed than the artists and often require time to catch up. One need only reflect on Gershwin's 'Porgy and Bess,' 'Charlie Parker with Strings,' or any other project that breaks from traditional established patterns.
Twenty years later, this is still some of the best music made. It rocks in the full sense of the word. This group of personnel were only together for a relatively short period of time, but fortunately, we have this event and period captured on video. When the pianist in this film, Kenny Kirkland, past away at such a young age in 1998, I was reminded of the great work of all the musicians in this film.
I'm often amazed at some of the high ratings of films from users of this database. A 7.6 rating for this film is excessive. Sort of reminds me of the voting that put New York Mets Pitcher Tom Seaver in the Baseball Hall of Fame with the highest vote total in the history of the Hall...a higher vote total than Hank Aaron, Ted Williams, Willie Mays, Stan Musial, Bob Gibson or Nolan Ryan! I imagine the same folks (present company excluded) must have voted to rate this movie. I found the script for this film rather mundane and predictable and not on the level of other well-known 'noir' works. Granted, the direction is exemplary and the actors are all excellent for the most part...there simply isn't much beef in the storyline. View this film for its directorial aspects, but if you are looking for an engaging story, there are many other better Noirs to view.
This is definitely an enjoyable film to watch. It starts out like gangbusters with great film noir qualities having the trajectory of a bona fide classic. Alan Ladd is superb as the cold-blooded killing man for hire and Laird Cregor - who unfortunately was to die at 30 only two years after this film - is equally superb in his role. The film misses the mark, however, when the patriotic aspects of World War II (then a current event) are used in the end to appeal to the conscious of the cold-blooded killing Ladd. For a character of Ladd's ilk to be won over on such a near-corny patriotic appeal is a bit of a stretch, and takes away from the true grit realism of the movie's potential. Sort of reminds me of all the romance and self-righteousness that frequently is the focus of movies or intellectual discussions of the U. S. Civil War, rather than simply telling the true plain cold-blooded reasons for its initiation and declaration, regardless of how evil, and immoral the facts. But alas, Hollywood is about entertainment, not necessarily realism. And, we can't forget the near-mandatory Studio happy-ending requirements.
On a lighter note, those with an ear for a good tune with their flicks will enjoy two Frank Loesser compositions in the film, particularly "Now you see it, Now you don't," where Veronica Lake does an excellent job lip-synching Martha Mears' vocal.
It is no coincidence this movie was written by a seasoned School Teacher. What this award-winning story essentially does - in the unusual context of a Hollywood movie - is to present an "outside-the-box" approach to dealing with the disciplinary and behavioral problems of a young male school student. By tapping into and encouraging the talents and interests of young rambunctious C.T., school teacher Ms. Richards (played by Dorothy Dandridge), is able to show how superficial negative classroom behavior can be evaluated and properly re-channeled to achieve positive results. Where the typical reaction to the student in our school system today by teachers and school administrators is to issue non-rehabilitating disciplinary action or suspension, the constructive approach demonstrated in this movie results in a "win-win" solution for all involved. Not a bad lesson for both our overcrowded and dysfunctional school and judicial systems to learn some 50 years later as they both still routinely devour the C.T.'s of the world without a care to the horrendous social cost-benefits resulting from excessive or unnecessary punitive action.
Harry Belafonte (in his first film role) also stars as the supportive school Principal. In a poignant scene beautifully worked into the story, he premieres one of his original compositions, "Suzanne."