ozthegreatat42330

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Reviews

Night at the Museum
(2006)

Actually a better movie that I expected it to be
First of all, I do not like Ben Stiller. Generally he is too silly for my taste. But when presented with good material and such excellent co-stars as Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney and Robin Williams what's not to like. This film is pure fun, never mind the inane premise. It makes one wish that they too could be in that museum when the displays come to life, if only briefly. Despite it's several set backs in production the film really delivers. And lest I forget the appearance of Owen Wilson also roundly spices up the action and the story. Dexter the monkey was enchanting. All in all an innocent and very enjoyable family type film. I highly suggest this one for all ages.

Elizabeth
(1998)

A magnificent retelling of the early reign of a Magnificent Monarch
This film is simply superb, and Cate Blanchette is truly both vulnerable and formidable as the virgin queen. With an outstanding supporting cast including Geoffrey Rush, John Gielgud and Edward Hardwicke among others this film shines as both pageant and as pure drama. In a period of uncertainty, after the death of her brother Edward VI and the coming to the throne of her much older and vindictive Catholic sister Mary, the young princess's life hangs in a precarious balance. After Mary;s death Elizabeth becomes the target of numerous plots by the Catholic forces in England and from abroad including the Pope(Guielgud). Weathering them all she proves to England and the World that she is her father's daughter. If you are at all interested in history, this is one not to miss!

Strategic Air Command
(1955)

Accurate depiction of the early days of the cold war, and our air defense
It has been stated by many that the story here was weak, the script lacking, but in truth it is an accurate portrayal of the sacrifices of the men and their families that protected this nation during the years of the cold war. There was no better person to have the lead role in this film than Jimmy Stewart. A decorated bomber pilot in WWII and a Brigader General in the Air Force reserve, he was best able to understand the thinking an d actions of the character in this film. While she was excellent in her part, June Alyson's Mrs. Holland was too much of the 1950's "Donna Reed/Leave it to Beaver/Father Knows Best" picture of the ideal family life. Just as artificial as the housewife of TV fare preparing dinner in a cocktail frock and high heels.

There were also fine performances from J.C. Flippen, Frank Lovejoy, Harry Morgan and Rosemary DeCamp, all well known character actors most of whom also had well known TV careers. The film was, of course, a propaganda film, but not all propaganda is necessarily bad. And the flying sequences are all superb. Another fine Stewart performance.

Kull the Conqueror
(1997)

Not a truly bad film but lacks the quality that Schwartzenegger could have brought to it.
I tend to come down from my enjoyment of classical films on occasion to watch films in this sword and sorcery genre. I greatly enjoyed the first two Conan films, mostly because Arnold Schwartzenegger gave the right feel to the character of Conan. I was aggrieved and feel that he made great mistake in turning down further roles as that character, which might have been created just for him. Kevin Sorbo is well...too 1980s-1990s for the character he plays here, and I have been offended in the trend of turning legendary fantasy characters into the California surfer dude kind of creature that exists today. The one bright light in all of this is the always hilarious and way over the top Harvey Firestein as Juba. He always adds a new dimension to every film project that he is a part of.

The kind of scripts that these films have are absurd to begin with. If the actors cannot immerse themselves in the characters they are playing, as was the case in this film, then it comes off as a little more than slightly ridiculous.

Kangaroo Jack
(2003)

What can you say about a movie in which the best actor is a Kangaroo
O.K. It's not exactly a terrible movie, but it is stupid/silly and sometimes you want to root for the bad guys. There is just too much absurdity in the land down under. Christopher Walken must have been really hard up to have agreed to be the name star in this tripe.

In the story Louis, who as a kid saves Charlie from drowning in the ocean, afterward keeps getting Charlie into one fix after another, and when he manages to lead the police to a warehouse owned by a mob boss, who is Charlie's step father, it is the final straw. The two are sent to Australia to deliver a package containing $50,000.00 to a man named Smith, which as it turns out, is his fee for killing Charlie and Louis, but they manage to lose the money when the jacket in which the money was stashed ends up on a kangaroo that takes off with it. And things begin to get interesting from there. What else can one say. How about "G'day Mate!"

The FBI Story
(1959)

An FBI propaganda film that paints an idealized picture of the bureau.
The film as entertainment is very good and Jimmy Stewart is excellent as Chip Hardesty, with well done co-starring turns by Vera Miles and Murray Hamilton. But the film, directed by legendary director Mervyn Leroy, was constantly vetted and script approval as well as every aspect of the film, down to clothing, was closely watched and controlled by J. Edgar Hoover. Not that J. Edgar Hoover didn't have something to be proud of. His management of the bureau from 1924 to his death crated on of the finest investigative services in the world. But by 1959 Hoover was already beginning to worry about being forced out and had already started to collect dossiers on powerful people to make sure and protect his little kingdom. And he was determined to make sure that no motion picture showed even a single wart about the bureau. The films shows only continued successes and glosses over the failures which occurred, and the bureau's part in the witch hunts of the early 1950's. Enjoy the story, but with tongue firmly in cheek.

Paint Your Wagon
(1969)

Naughty Fun along the lines of Caberet and The Best Little Whorehous In Texas
This wild Romp from the director of "Camelot" and "South Pacific" is a rip-roaring look at the gold mine camps of the gold fever era in pre-statehood California. Naughty, bawdy and full of fun it could not have anywhere nearly as good with anyone other than Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood as Ben Rumson and Pardner (Sylvester Newel.) Jean Seaberg was also excellent in her role, even though her singing had to be dubbed by another actress. Rounding out the leads of the cast are Ray Walston( Damn Yankees) and Harve Presnel as Rotten Luck Willie, who has the greatest song in the movie, that haunting "They Call the Wind Mariah" The film is PG-13 rated because of the bawdy humor and sexual situations and some of the language, but is still a magnificent entertainment. Lee Marvin can't sing a lick, but he makes up for it in shear verve and panache as Ben Rumson. Clint Eastwood, surprisingly has a pleasant if not a great voice.

This is the story of a different breed of man, the seeker of adventure, the soldier of fortune, and those who seek to live free beyond the stifling constraints of "Civilized" society. You might not agree with them, but you can surely understand them. They are the kind of men that kept pushing back the frontiers. The best description of their philosophy is when they hang the sign naming their mining town. "Noname City, Population: Male" and yet later "Noname City, Population: Drunk." So have some "Apple Jack", sit back and "Paint you wagon and come along."

Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold
(1986)

What's not to like, comedy, adventure and Sharon Stone
Alright, it isn't exactly Oscar winning material, and it cashes in on the Indiana Jones kind of adventures, but this comedy adventure sequel of 1985's King Solomon's mines (filmed concurrently) has a lot going for it. There is the kind of amusement park thrill ride quality, with excellent performances by Richard Chamberlain, Sharon Stone and James Earl Jones. Also featuring Robert Donner as the greedy/cowardly "holy man" Swarma, and Henry Silva as a way over the top comic villain named Agon, an ex slave-trader turned high priest who likes turning people into gold statues for fun and profit.

A dying explorer/adventurer (there always seems to be one of these in films of this nature) bursts out of the jungle as Quartemain is preparing to leave with his fiancé for their wedding in America, to let him know about a legend of a lost city of gold, populated by a white race in the heart of Africa. Learning that his younger brother was the head of that expedition, Quartermain has to go after him. With the exception of the obvious theft of musical themes by John Williams an d James Horner that were used in the sound track of this film, it is a more than satisfactory way to kill a couple of hours.

The Spirit of St. Louis
(1957)

One of Jimmy Stewart's finest roles. A true classic
Others have harped here about James Stewart's age when playing Lindburg (he was 47 Linburg was twenty five.) But Stewart does not look his age and the film, for him was a dream come true. An actual pilot and a retired Air Force Reserve General at the end of his life, Stewart had the feel for the character and understanding of his passion, which other actors could not bring to the role. Added to the cast was co-star Murray Hamilton, who was also to be featured in "The F.B.I. story with Stewart) and such other well known character actors as Richard Deacon, of the later "Dick Van Dike Show" and Robert Cornthwaite of "The Thing from Another World" the 1951 Sci-Fi classic.

Billy Wilder captures the flavor of the Lindburg Autobiography and the telling of what was to become a major event in the history of aviation. This story and film are a testament to the soul of determination and perseverance to realize a dream. A box office failure at the time of it's release, it has since become one of the great classics of American Film and another in a long line of outstanding performances by an actor that has been called America's Everyman. No student of film history should miss seeing this one. There have been over 500,000 films since the beginning of motion pictures, and this one belongs among the top 500.

Haunted
(1995)

One of those disturbing Ghost Stories that you should not miss.
Aiden Quinn stars in this haunting film by director Lewis Gilbert, of a very curious and disturbing string of events. This is not your typical haunted house story. Professor David Ash lost his twin sister when he was a child due to a terrible accident. Years later he has returned to England as an author and professor of Psychology who spends his time trying to prove that there are ghosts, while as a skeptic, uncovering the fraudulent claims of those who deal with the spirit world. But then, in a response to repeated letters from an old woman he is invited to sort out a ghostly problem in an old house in the southeast of England. Kate Beckinsale and Anthony Andrews co-star, with brief appearances by the immortal Sir John Gielgud. Also there is a short scene with a gypsy woman, played by Liz Smith who has made a career out of playing quirky and particularly Dickinsonian characters. A modest little film that deserves a look see, especially if you like things that go bump in the night.

The Wings of Eagles
(1957)

John Ford+John Wayne+Maureen O' Hara= Film Film Biopic
The iconic director and his usual cast of players take on Naval Aviation in this look at a man who helped to advance navy aviation as John Wayne again looms on the screen bigger than life in the role of Frank "Spig" Wead, a pioneer of the navy air corps. Based on the autobiography of Wead the usual themes of adventure, patriotism and romance abound with stellar supporting roles with veteran actors like Ken Curtis, Dan Daily, and Ward Bond as a thinly veiled portrait of director Ford himself. Set against the background of World War II the film is about courage and commitment in a big way, and there really is not another actor who could have brought it to the screen with the believability that the "Duke" manages so easily. One of his finer roles.

Rio Lobo
(1970)

Tired, Trite, Overworked plot line and lacking in enthusiasm.
Even a bad John Wayne film is not usually that bad, but at the end of a long dry season for Wayne, who was already beginning to have health problems, and directed by an already dying director, Rio Lobo just did not go anywhere. The plot, a thinly disguised rewrite of Rio Bravo, had been done twice already and better the other two times. If not for the appearance of Jack Elam (who essentially replayed the Walter Brennan character from the earlier film) this film would be truly dismal. (In a trivial side note: around this same time Elam and Brennan were together in the comedy western "Support Your Local Sheriff" which was a broad spoof of these John Wanye movies.) Still it is not totally bad. And the opening moments of the film were refreshing. Even the music track for this film was poor by usual western standards. Give this a miss and watch "El Dorado" instead. Or watch the wallpaper peel in your living room.

Zorro: The Gay Blade
(1981)

A funny film but a let down after "Love at First Bite"
George Hamilton's finest role was the hilarious send up of the Dracula Film genre in "Love at First Bite" Now he sets his sights on Swashbucklers like Errol Flynn and Tyrone Power, and the immoral Douglas Fairbanks Junior in this howler, "Zorro the gay blade." Ironically, this is one of the first mainstream comedies to use a gay character in a lead role, long predating such films as "La Cage Au Foules". And while Hamilton does well as the two main characters, there is a sense that this film tries too hard. Some of the comedy is as shrill as Leibman's Alcalde character. All of this aside it is still a fun film, and the underlying tribute to the character created by McCauly Johnson over a century ago still rings true. So let the "Fox" hunt commence.

Hatari!
(1962)

One of the finest film collaborations between Howard Hawks and John Wayne
Of all of the films by the legendary Howard Hawks, this one is probably the very best. And of all of Jophn Wayne's many screen appearances this is one of my top three favorites, along with "The Quiet Man" and "The Hellfighters." As good as John Wanye was in westerns and war movies both, it is his adventure/comedy films that are some of his finest work. Along with Wayne, to make this a memorable film is Red Buttons (Oscar Winner for "Sayonara") as Pockets, the main comedy relief and central mover of the plot. Also, a familiar face from many of John Wayne's later movies is Bruce Cabot( who came to fame in the first version of King Kong in 1933.) This film has got everything: adventure, a beautiful setting in what is now Tanzania, strong cast, that actually did all of the animal capture scenes themselves, and the incredible sound score of Henry Mancini. You need to include this film in your top fifty.

Rio Bravo
(1959)

Always Bigger than life, John Wayne at his finest here.
Director Howard Hawks was one of those directors that worked well with John Wayne, and was far better than Hollywood ever gave him credit for. By Hawks' own feeling, he did a better job with "El Dorado," a later remake of this film, but this was very much quintessential Hawks and Wayne at their best. It also began to set the habit of John Wayne using popular young entertainers in their early acting roles, as well as beginning to build the second tier of his stable of screen regulars. Dean Martin is excellent as the recovering drunk "Dude." You really feel his struggle to get over his alcoholism in the course of this film. And Walter Brennan as "Stumpy" was as always great. Another excellent actor in this film, aside from Ward Bond, a regular in 22 of John Wayne's films (this was their final parring) was John Russell as Nathan Burdette. Russell would later be seen in Clint Eastwood's film "Pale Rider" in 1984. And finally is Claude Akins, who just makes you hate him in this picture. As westerns go, this is often cited as one of the very best. Also a good beginning for the career of Angie Dickinson.

Murder on the Orient Express
(1974)

A lavish production lavishly mounted! Worth the effort.
Sidney Lumet managed with "Murder on the Orient Express" to do something no other director of film based on a Christie novel had done. He pleased Dame Agatha. No easy feat, but possible because of the brilliant cast. My personal feeling is that Albert Finney overacted Poirot, and was the wrong body type, from Christie's descriptions in her books, despite which he was believable. Ingrid Bergman deserved her Academy Award win for Best Supporting Actress in this film. Every performance in this feature was carefully and skillfully crafted, as well crafted as the beautiful sets of the train, recreated from only partial portions of the original cars. This is the kind of detailed movie that works without special effects and with very flavorful script writing. Not to be missed.

Police Academy 5: Assignment: Miami Beach
(1988)

Come on people lighten up, this film is fun.
There are too many wannabe Siskals, trying to pick every film to death. If you are looking for critical film successes, do not look here. If you are looking for a film that does not take itself seriously, and thereby is fun, then this whole series of films is for you. By the time of this fifth Police Academy film we can view these misfits as old and familiar friends. they each do what they do best. George Gaynes excels as the clueless Eric Lassard, who wanders through life creating chaos in his wake, but always managing to come out on top. He is America's answer to the French Clouseau. Rene Aubejonois is just great as the lead crook in this film. And G.W. Bailey. It takes an actor of rare quality to play the loathed but always accident prone character that he plays. These films are fun, and this one was one of the best.

The Wraith
(1986)

This is one of those revenge films with a decidedly interesting twist.
If you accept that it takes two of the characters a long time to figure out who Jake really is, even though the evidence of his past is written on his back, the film is a decent revenge film. There is no redeeming quality at all to the bad guys and you have to feel that they deserve whatever is coming to them. Hot rod buffs will drool over the cars in the film, and rock fans will love the soundtrack. It is hard to imagine today that Charlie Sheen was making movies at that age. As someone else noted, this is not Oscar winning stuff, but it is an interesting 92 minutes. But how to classify it? Drama, Action Adventure, Science Fiction or horror? It's your choice.

Romeo and Juliet
(1968)

The Quintessential Version of Shakespeare's Great Romantic Tragedy
It would take an Italian Director, Zeffirelli, to adequately film the most famous love story/tragedy in history and make it work beautifully. Filmed in Italy and actually using teenage actors to play the star-crossed lovers at the right age (for the first time ever) brought great veracity and a definite freshness to this story. The performances were uniformly outstanding and of course Nino Rota's touching sound score wove the whole thing together in a highly charged emotional work. It tends to take the viewer through the uncomfortable feeling of viewing a tragedy in the making, knowing what is to come, and being unable to do anything but helplessly watch as it comes to pass. This is the film- maker's art at its best, and it is a pity that the film did not win the Best Picture Academy Award in its year. If you have a love of Shakespeare at all this film is a simple must see.

Deep Impact
(1998)

A very impressive and intelligent disaster film
Deep Impact is a film that works on many levels. With it's outstanding cast and beautifully skilled direction it presents many different aspects to the gargantuan tragedy that is expected to alter, if not end all life on earth. Robert Duvall embodies the calm everyday heroism of our NASA astronauts, while Morgan Freeman is the confident, fatherly figure that a president of the United States ought to be. Elijah Wood gives an excellent performance as the young man who first discovers the comet, and later rises above his age to save the life of his girlfriend. Tia Leone is the ambitious TV news reporter who is the first to discover what is going on, despite the several upheavals in her own life, and to round out this first line of star performers is Maxamillian Schell and Vanessa Redgrave. A good, solid, mature disaster film that works well.

The Desert Song
(1953)

The finest film version of a great operetta by Sigmund Romberg and Oscar Hammerstein
Spritely, joyous, full of heroics, romance and beautiful music, beautifully performed by Gordon McCrae and Katherine Grayson, a truly lovely actress, "The Desert Song" is simply one of the finest musicals of the first half of the twentieth century, and this 1953 version, the third filming by this studio, is by far the best. From the "Drum, drum, drum of Hobart's in the sand," as the Riffs ride across the vast trackless desert at the beginning of the film, the music seems almost continuous. On of the few disappointments of the film is the haunting "Azuri's Song" from the original musical, but the quality of acting, with Ray Collins, Raymond Massey, Frank De Cordova and William Conrad, assure that the action never becomes dull. This is the way musicals should be filmed and the direction J. Bruce Humberstone, who cut his teeth on the first Charlie Chan movies of the thirties makes it all come together in a real treat. Sit back and enjoy as El Khobar and the Riffs go riding across your living room.

Murder on the Orient Express
(2001)

A nicely done modernization of the classic Agatha Christie Mystery
Although I was disappointed that Granada Television never did a version of this story with David Suchet, the definitive Poirot, none the less I did enjoy this updated version of the story of a murder on the world famous luxury train. While, like many I was partial to the star studded cast of the 1974 version with Albert Finny, I have always felt that Finny's Poirot was a way overblown Charicture of Poirot, as were all of those Peter Ustinov portrayals. But Molina's essay of the Belgian sleuth, was in the best possible tradition. By the way, if anyone wants to see a perfectly disgusting rape of a Poirot story don't miss the 1966 Tony Randall film "The Alphabet Murders." That film is absolutely the worst Poirot film in history. Randall is not bad in the part, but the script and direction was a direct slap in the face of Christie. But back to this film. Given that almost everyone who knows Poirot is already familiar with this story, I found it to be a very entertaining 100 minutes.

Mars Attacks!
(1996)

Totally wild send up of alien invasion films. A winner
The acting is somewhat over the top, it is over cast with big name stars, and the death scenes during the attacks may be a bit gruesome, but this satire of films like "Independence Day" and others is pure genius. The ironic touches, such as the wold being save, by Slim Whitman music, of all things is great. And once again Tim Burton gets to kill off Jack Nicholson. (See Batman, also directed by Burton.) If you are a collector their is no doubt that this film belongs in your library. List it as Science Fiction, list it as a comedy, but most of all list it as fun. Where else would you find Michael J. Fox, Rod Steiger, Jack Nicholson, Glen Close, Pierce Brosnan, and a very young Natilie Portman all in one film?

Explorers
(1985)

A funny feel good movie with strong leads.
The unfortunate thing about Explorers is that the studio rushed opening this film before letting Joe Dante properly finish it. And it was all for nothing. Because of the rushed timing it opened on a weekend that cost it its audience. The three leads, Ethan Hawk, River Phoenix and Jason Presson do a fine job in the film, working with an excellent script that is both funny and bittersweet as well. ALso featuring Dick Miller, a regular in Dante's films, especially noted for "The Gremlins." Another excellent role was James Cromwell as the father of Wolfgang, played by River Phoenix. And finally one of my favorite actors, Robert Picardo who plays several characters (in heavy make-up). This film is nothing special, just good family fun.

Prince of Jutland
(1994)

The Hamlet that Shakespeare did not write. More Authentic is better.
Danish director Gabriel Axel sets out to tell the real history of the sixth century King of Jutland(Denmark) moving away from the Anglesized version of the story by Shakespeare and giving a better feeling version. I, like many people was not sure what to expect when I ordered the DVD, having just seen the American title (Royal Deceit) and being fascinated by it. Little did I know what treat was in store. Gabriel Byrne again proves why he is one of our busier actors today as the malevolent Fenge, plotting treachery behind every smile. And Christian Bale is just outstanding as the supposed mad second son of the dead King of Jutland. Helen Mirren is up to her usual standards as the queen, and Kate Beckinsale is always a delight, especially in this role, so different than her characters in "Underworld" and "Van Helsing." It is also a pleasure to see Brian Cox ("X-Men II) in one of his rare good guy roles. It is not a big or a long film, but a well crafted, tightly directed gem of a film, especially for those whose tastes run to the historical.

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