Crazy in Alabama (1999) Poster

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Everything I didn't expect
Mark009926 June 2000
One doesn't tend to expect much from an actor's directorial debut, especially from a relatively young actor and especially from one who seemed to have risen to fame at least partially by being, um, well, a studmuffin. One also typically expects a movie in which a husband directs his wife in a lead role to be fairly shallow or at least unbalanced. I crossed this movie off my list pretty early, expecting a forgettable Griffith-overload creation and little more.

Wrong! It's well-acted, engrossing, funny, and uplifting without feeling schmaltzy or (despite its farfetched plot) artificial. Every so often you want to rewind a bit, to hear some extra-cute bit of dialog again, or savor an especially well-done shot. (The camera work and sets, both indoor and outdoor, show unusual care, flash, and detail; this didn't dawn on me for most of the first hour but a rewind made it obvious.) Overall, 9 stars out of ten. But:

I wouldn't urge anyone to see this movie for Melanie Griffith. She does a fine job, but she's not what puts it over the top. As with quite a few recent films, I found that the performances of the extremely well-chosen supporting actors were a big part of what held the film together and made it so much more than it might have been. Most notable here is Rod Steiger as the judge, who captivates utterly; John Beasley as Nehemiah -- though his character could have stood a lot more development; and the perpetually underrated Meat Loaf as the slimy sheriff. Performances like Steiger's make you want to ransack the video store to rent all his older films.

Finally, I believe Lucas Black is destined for greatness. I couldn't watch him without remembering River Phoenix as Chris in "Stand By Me."

Why this film doesn't even rate a Maltin summary is beyond me.
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Great film!
Rose-3529 October 2000
I wasn't sure what to expect of this film but afterwards I was glad I had watched it. Great performances, esp. from Meatloaf and Lucas Black. He's going to be a star when he's older! When I saw that Antonio Banderas had directed it, I thought "Oh, here's another one of those films where the actor/director has to put his wife in the leading role.. blah blah blah" but it was a really good film. Overall, I give it a 8/10.
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This movie still works so well for me!
danvan346-114 March 2008
I am in the process of trying to clean out an oversupply of VHS tapes and some of them are so easy to toss. Not this one. I had to sit down and watch it again and now I could only get rid of the VHS if I had it on DVD! I have not watched this movie in more than six years and it was "feel good" and "feel" all over again. David Morse is always wonderful. Lucas Black, Cathy Moriarty, Meat Loaf, Elizabeth Perkins, and many others are just a treat to watch. There's something about Melanie. I can't help liking her - even when I am finding fault with her. This movie really is strange with its incredibly serious (and gruesome) subject matter of a woman who methodically murders and decapitates her husband and then carries his head around with her - first in Tupperware and then in a very stylish hat box! The surprising part is that there is any plausibility at all, but it somehow existed for me. It had a strange feeling floating about it that was akin to "Forrest Gump" or "Nurse Betty", because it involved situations that were truly horrible, but everything kept working out for a sweet and naive character. The civil rights story was a very poignant counterpoint to the fantastic silliness of Lucille's odyssey. If I were a film student I may have sat there and criticized the way things came together, but I just watched it with an untrained eye, so it was fine. I certainly would have made the connection about a freedom theme even if they hadn't come out and stated it in the end. No one says a story has to be believable or plausible for it to work. This did work. I laughed a lot when I least expected to.
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A delightful surprise
Dehlia_10 December 2001
A real treat, much better than it had any right to be. It's the 1960s in Alabama and Lucille (Melanie Griffith) murders and decapitates her abusive husband Chester, and heads to Hollywood with his head. Meanwhile back home, segregation is being fought in her small town. Our narrator is Lucille's nephew, he is living with his uncle (David Morse), witnessing the evil of the town sheriff (Meat Loaf) and trying to make sense of the civil rights movement.

This is an odd, yet ultimately successful, merging of two very different stories. The Alabama civil rights story is a gentle, human drama, while the Lucille story is broadly colored, with flashy costumes, comical characters, and tart dialogue. Lucille dazzles everyone who meets her, and everything goes her way, despite the fact that Chester's head continues to speak to her, calling her a slut who'll never amount to anything. I can't explain why the surreal comedy works so well in parallel to the small town drama, but it does. Griffith is compelling -- her husband, Antonio Banderas, directs her as he sees her, the camera keeps finding the perfect woman; thrilling, sensual and sweet.

In the "featurette" on the DVD, both Griffith and Banderas say the movie is about freedom, and the stories parallel well because Lucille's freedom from her husband's oppression parallels the blacks' freedom from civil oppression. But I saw it more as an R.D. Laing movie. The truth of Crazy in Alabama is in its title -- sanity IS a sane answer to an insane world. The nation WAS watching Bewitched and shopping for hats while blacks were beaten to death for the right to use whites-only facilities. "Crazy," in this movie, defies definition -- what is individual craziness when the world goes crazy? Lucille's craziness is sweet and understandable; the world's, less so. 9/10
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a masterful overlooked achievement
taruss17 September 2001
I had seen the trailers several times for this movie before running across it in the video store looking through the titles for something I had not seen. After seeing it, I wondered why I had not heard more of it. The trailers did not give away anything about this wonderfully written script. Antonio Banderas did a great job in direction, but Lucas Black stole the show with his acting. After thinking he was masterful in "Sling Blade," it was great seeing him get another role to show off his talents. Steiger was perfect for the role, although anyone could have played the Robert Wagner role. However, seeing such big stars playing cameos, should tell you that the script was a great read. I don't want to give you any insight into the story line, because it is so well interwoven that it has to be seen to understand. It gets nicely tied up in the end from a small statement from Lucas Black. Melody Griffith has not always been a favorite of mine, mostly because she does always pick roles that she fits, but in this one, I cannot imagine anyone else fitting the role. She did an excellent job. I say that, because there were parts where I forgot it was her, and got caught up in the actual character she was playing.

This is one that is definitely worth a look. The overtones of the era are played nicely and figure greatly in the story line. Why it was overlooked when the big awards came out, I have no idea. This one should have won something. It is that good.
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COQUE-37 October 1999
Crazy In alabama is one of the best movies of the year. Antonio Banderas did an awesome job as a director and Melanie Griffith is outrageous. It truly reveals the feelings of the 50s, the quest for freedom , and the insanity of racism.
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Fantastic & moving
BNVfilms10 April 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Crazy in Alabama is a great movie the depicts the changing of the world in the 1960s in the south as well as one woman's adventure and dreams. Lucille was a woman abused by her husband for many years and finally had enough. In one foul swoop she killed her husband and ran for Hollywood talking his head with her on her new found freedom. Griffith as the free spirited Lucille is fantastic. Other actresses could have made this character a lot more sinister or evil but Griffith made her some one that you could relate to.

The other story line is that of Lucille's nephew P. Joe, whom she left behind in Alabama. He is dealing with the aftermath of Lucille's departure from Alabama and all of the racism and hatred that is in his town. Meatloaf is great as the racist police chief that has a personal vendetta against Lucille, P. Joe and his family.

This movie is very touching and I believe that Banderas did a good job at directing. I home that he continues he will do more projects in the future that have this kind of caliber. I recommend that you watch this movie because it is great for viewing at home.
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Almost a Spoiler
pswanson0012 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I have such a high opinion of the book from which this was made that I should've been better prepared to be disappointed with any film version, but it seems my guard was down. It's not a BAD movie, actually is pretty entertaining while maintaining the high points of the book. The book, however, is both funnier and more touching. The Eudora Welty-ish family central to the story is much more clearly described in the book, and seems comparatively flavorless in the movie. Writing with any depth and substance is hard to translate to film, but is has been done; see the Jessica Tandy version of Truman Capote's "A Christmas Memory." If you haven't read the book you'll probably like this just fine. If you're a fan of the book, be forewarned that the film is not going to be the same experience.
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Crazy about Melanie Griffith
larrys11 February 2000
I loved this film.

I am not normally a fan of Melanie Griffith, but she is superb as the Southern Belle, Lucille.

Antonio Banderas does a brilliant job behind the camera, telling two stories both about the difference between Justice and what is Just.

Rod Steiger is superb in his cameo role as the judge.
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Strong, Satisfying, Funny, Moving
Dshort24 October 1999
Crazy in Alabama is the most satisfying film I've seen since Forrest Gump. A gung-ho parallel storyline, nice performances (particularly Rod Steiger) and surprisingly strong directing. Lucas Black, from Sling Blade, again is remarkably convincing as the viewpoint character.
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Much more than I expected.
corky-722 October 1999
Antonio Banderas has really shown that he can bring out the best in his actors. Both Melanie Griffith and Rod Steiger gave the most controlled performances I've seen from them in years. Lucas Black, who is still new, was terrific.

There was a lot of humor in this picture. But it had nothing to do with the civil rights issue. All of the humor had to do with a bizarre aspect of the murder.

I highly recommend this film. It makes you cry and it makes you laugh. And it's for all members of the family over 12.
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An honest spirit lifter with a sarcastic background
theqmage10 December 2001
A woman chops her husband's head off and leaves a punch of kids behind to go fill her dream to become a movie star. The name of this movie is a rather good description. But behind this crazy story line this movie holds a truly honest, sarcastic, picture of a strong, loving woman.

In addition there is another story of a boy who will also become a star even without wanting to become one. In the middle of racism this boy becomes a hero while standing against this oppression. This part of the movie is quite naive, but that didn't bother me, not a bit.

The actors did their job not only well, but great. I know I'm not very critical person, but I really loved this movie and I think I could watch it again and again just to get some energy and to regain my sometimes vanishing positivity.

I was amazed not to see this movie in the top 250. I really believe it belongs there. I've seen Shawshank Redemption and I think this movie, while lighter, doesn't fall far behind.
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surprisingly good!
koirgrrl6 December 2001
I watched this movie expecting Melanie Grifith to play another Cecil B. Demented-type character and was pleasantly surprised by the sweet warm Lucille. I wasn't expecting much for this movie, just a few laughs, and a chance to shout obscenities at Meatloaf's bulldog-looking face. This movie turned out to be touching and quite funny in some parts. Yea for you, Melanie!
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Alabama really Hits home- good movie- realistic
punkin_flats11 September 2005
A girlfriend told me about this movie and I asked my husband to rent it. You would have thought I would have watched it when it first came out since I actually live in Alabama. I really didn't know much about it, just 2 or 3 sentences the friend said. I was thinking it was a humorous movie, and my husband did also. We were very surprised when we watched it. The subplot (racism in the small town) was as interesting as the main plot (Melanie Griffith wanting a glamorous life). Sometimes I think Griffith is a bunch of fluff in real life, then she gets in front of the cameras and wows me time and again. She is a great actress. While watching the movie, as it inched towards the middle, my opinion of it was dropping fast. I think the pace slowed too much. I was planning on giving it a B-. Then the action picked up about 40 minutes near the end. I was riveted to the TV at this point. Actually I left the room for a short break and could still hear the dialogue. I raced back down the hall quickly! Warning! Don't leave the room as the film nears this point! You need to be watching and appreciate what is going on! The film starts to come together and you need to hear and see it! Lucas Black is top rate as usual. I was in tears at the end and my husband was getting misty-eyed also. When they were announcing filming of this movie and doing location checks, everybody in Alabama (where I live) was so excited! Oh boy, Banderas and Griffith are coming here to film! Then he changed his mind and decided to film in Mississippi. Everyone was sad. How could Banderas say that Mississippi "looked" more like Alabama? Other than that, this movie was great.
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A surprisingly wonderful film
foilerne21 June 2000
I just got this movie on pay per view, I was so bored, I just wanted to watch anything. To my surprise, this was a fantastic film!! Everyone in it was great, and I was fully involved in it the whole time. Some of the best movies ever made, are the ones that never get recognized. This fits just right in that category. See this movie, even if it does not look good. It was amazingly under rated, and I think it deserves more. Great film, great acting, the whole thing was an awesome experience!
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Lazy in Hollywood
redman-1111 April 2002
The trouble with most Melanie Griffith vehicles-and for some reason I'm excruciatingly aware of the number of them I've seen- is that you're only seeing one character, ever, and not a very good or memorable one at that. Ms. Griffith should be at the very center of a firestorm of debate on what's wrong with Hollywood, and the principal lesson we can learn from movies like this one is that Hollywood is lazy. Melanie Griffith is not only not a very good actress, she is so abominably bad and mind-numbingly predictable in her infantile reactions and sex-kitten phrasings that she should never have been seen aside from her appearances in Body Double and Something Wild, in which the characters she played were simply tailored to fit her deficient persona. For anyone who still disagrees, let me put it this way. If you were to remove the mannerisms, vocalizations, and elements of style that Ms. Griffith has simply lifted from Judy Holliday and Marilyn Monroe, you would not have enough actor left to fill the shoes of a crowd-scene extra. Yet the Hollywood system somehow works to keep this Cleopatra's barge afloat, long after it should have run aground. But, since she's who she is, however unfortunate that may be for all of us, we'll go on seeing her again and again, silicon-blown lips and breasts and, oh, what's the use? This movie is really parts of two movies that never really come together, and that wouldn't really be able to stand up by themselves either. We have a typical Hollywood construct, 60's racist Alabama, intercut with a retail clerk's dream of ascendance to stardom: kill your abusive husband, steal a car, by a hat for the hatbox, (paste classical reference here) sweet-talk a cop out of holding you in jail--Banderas probably knows so little about police procedure in this country that he actually thought the hatbox in a stolen vehicle would not be checked-- win big in Las Vegas, audition for Bewitched, and become a star. Maybe we're supposed to remember here that Liz Montgomery also played Lizzie Borden in a TV movie several years after Bewitched tanked and she was renovating her image as a Now woman. Regardless, the classification of this film as "comedy-drama" should have been the tip-off that whenever Ms Griffith found herself in trouble, the baby-doll would pop out, coo sickeningly, and her character would survive for yet another stunning costume change. Now, the "serious" side of this movie flounders like the fully dressed blacks diving into the pool--we're supposed to think here of baptism, even before we see the image of the little boy floating in the crucifixion pose--and we are also supposed to swallow yet another screenwriter's slam-dunk of a terribly complex and many-sided situation, that of racial injustices of sixties Alabama. I remember sitting in an editing room, telling my working partner I'd just come back from Alabama, where my father is buried. "F--- Alabama!" she said. She was from New York, and movies like this were her entire experience of the south. So, here we are, in the middle of this dreadful hash: a dream of becoming a star, which, oddly enough, is played by an actor who has expressed in interviews this same desire, over and over again: to be a star, even tho she is incapable of acting. Then we have the Hollywood construct of a mythical, deeply stereotyped world: racist South, lustful cop, get-rich Las Vegas, and star-studded Hollywood. And to top it all off, we have A. Banderas, who, come to think of it, may actually be the closest thing to a male counterpart to Melanie Griffith you're liable to find. He's fulfilling his dream of coming to America, becoming a star in something other than Almodovar films (the worst of which was much better than this) and finally, directing. Every boy's Hollywood dream. Like Griffith, he seems to think that talent or ability should have nothing to do with it. And if this movie had been anything like the hit it was billed as in the trailers, He would have been right. But, somehow, over and over again, that self-referencing Hollywood myth simply breaks down, over and over again. What we have, then, is shoddy "stars" that no one really wants to see, like Melanie Griffith, shoddy directing, that we could live without, like Banderas,' and shoddy films, that no one really wanted to see, playing three times a day on Bravo, like this one. Do yourself a favor, the next time this one's on: Change the channel.
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They Should Have Stuck With Just The Comedy
ccthemovieman-19 October 2007
If the writers had just stuck with the comedy instead of -- once again - laying down their heavy-handed Leftist cultural agenda - this would have been a very entertaining and fun film.

Certainly the "voice" of the head in the basket (you have to see this to know what I mean) was funny. With surround sound, it was particularly effective. All of sudden, you hear a voice come out of one of your rear speakers and it's this head coming from inside a box! It's funny, believe me.

So were other parts but then the film turns into another typical preaching about racism in the South and then gives - courtesy of Fannie Flagg playing a waitress - an anti-religious cheap shot or two. "Religious" people are usually referred to in film as "fanatics," as Flagg says here. People who espouse Left Wing causes, from the environment to abortion to PETA, are never called fanatics. I wonder why that is? Too bad the bias had to enter because it was a fun film to that point with Melanie Griffith, Lucas Black and David Morse all doing a fine job.
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Decent performances and well made, but contains too complex of a script. **1/2 (out of four)
Movie-122 February 2001
CRAZY IN ALABAMA / (1999) **1/2 (out of four)

By Blake French:

"Crazy in Alabama" is actually very well constructed; with good performances by a strong supporting cast, including David Morse ("The Green Mile"), Rod Steiger ("End of Days")" Meat Loaf Aday ("Fight Club"), and a compelling leading performance by director Antonio Banderas' wife, Melanie Griffith. Based on the novel by Mark Childress, who also wrote the screenplay, the movie suffers not from poor quality of filmmaking, but from the filmmakers trying to cram way to much material in the 111 minute movie.

The performers are hard at work here, but they can not possibly conquer the problems the production experiences due to the overcrowded script, which actually includes three separate stories of equal importance. The first details a woman named Lucille (Melanie Griffith), who dreams of becoming a famous actress in Hollywood after chopping off her cruel husband's head. She commits the murderous act to escape his overbearing clutches. "There are a lot of ways you can kill a person. There are fast ways, and there are slow ways. Chester was killin' me the slow way for thirteen years." Obviously Lucille preferred the fast way when it came to putting an end to her spouse.

The next story revolves around a civil right movement in Alabama. A young black teenager, Taylor Jackson (Louis Miller) is killed by a local prejudice sheriff named John Doggett (Meat Loaf Aday), who angrily pulls the innocent victim off a fence after he and his friends protest against the prohibition of swimming in the city pool. The late boy's parents attempt to lead a civil right crusade while trying to build a case to make Doggett pay for his crime.

Through another story is where these stories are linked. We see these events through the point of view of a young man's realization of life in the South without parents. This character, named Peejoe (Lucas Black), is the nephew of Lucille. She trustingly reveals all her secrets to Peejoe before she heads for Hollywood. He is also the only witness the violent act of Sheriff Doggett, placing him in the middle of the civil rights movement. Peejoe is not the center of the movie, however, and his character is completely unneeded and only adds additional complexity to the screenplay. He is simply an excuse to interlock the other two plots, and the attempt does not work.

The stories by themselves are very interesting, with inventive and original ideas and some thought-provoking messages. The film feels convincing in its development of the setting and atmosphere; the 1960's are captured with intrigue. Although it is his first feature film, Antonio Banderas, also a well-known actor starring 1999's Viking drama "The 13th Warrior," he should have realized the complexity of the plot as a negative contribution. There are movies in which multiple stories make the production unique and innovative, like "Traffic," "Magnolia," and "Pulp Fiction," but those movies blended their narratives together carefully, "Crazy in Alabama" only makes excuses for its actions.
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Loved this movie.
keywest-119 September 2004
I had liked this movie before but after buying the DVD and then hearing comments through the film by Melanie and Antonio, the movie means even more.

I spent 7 hours in a row watching the movie, then watching it again with the explanations of Melanie and Antonio and other footage...I think their explanations show how much work they put into the movie. Also, two of their children were in the movie AND Melanie's acting coach. Also, the writer of Fried Green Tomatoes was the coffee shop waitress. All these little tidbits helped me to understand how much love and detail went into the movie. Also, Antonio was interested in doing the movie because it showed what was happening in the 60's which the riots about integration.
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Crazy in Alabama is Good Nutty Stuff ***1/2
edwagreen27 September 2009
Amazing that a movie blending a southern vixen killing her abusive husband and fleeing the country with his head can mix with a racially motivated killing and yet be good. This is what "Crazy in Alabama" exactly is.

This is basically a story of freedom-obtaining it through the civil rights struggle, while a white woman sought her freedom in disposing of her horrible husband.

Melanie Griffith, directed by husband Antonio Banderas, is just perfect for the part. With a great southern accent, she wears hats so similar to Judy Holliday in "Born Yesterday," or Jean Hagen in "Singin' in the Rain."

This melding of marital abuse and civil rights in 1965's Alabama hits the high mark. With an excellent score by Mark Snow, my classmate from a Brooklyn elementary school, the ingredients go for making one fine film.
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Original story; well blended mixture of humor and serious stuff
alberto-2710 October 1999
Banderas reveals himself as an excellent director on top of a superb actor, in the true tradition of Chaplin, Welles and Eastwood. His tale of fight of freedom in 1965 Alabama keeps a fast pace while running between two parallel (and eventually converging) plot lines. He never loses a good, and sometimes vitriolic, sense of humor.

Three cheers for Jurgens, who succeeds in a key role on which the credibility of the plot depends.
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Although summarized as "black humor", this is a true portrayal of southern life in the 60's.
cuddle13 April 2002
I really enjoy "ANY DAY NOW" on Lifetime and the situations that PeeJo found himself in were reminiscent of M.E.'s & Rene's experiences. Add Aunt Lucie's reach for the stars (starting with an unexpected crime) and Dove's occupation, and you have a well-told and true-to-life story. This may have been a fictitious tale but it was easy to see many of these situations affecting the lives of the people in the south and west (Hollywood) at the time. I especially liked the dogs' discovery during the party and the fun inclusion of "BEWITCHED".

I particularly enjoyed Lucie's monologue in the courtroom, depicting life with her "es-husband", and the judge's subsequent comments. I had hoped to see this in the theatre, but was not able to. I watched it on cable and plan to add it to my collection.

I believe this is a classic in its own rite!
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A very serious subject ruined by attempts at humor.
joelflax-32 October 1999
This film attempts to cover two extremely serious topics: black uprising in the south during the sixties and a women who kills and runs away from a violent and dangerous husband. Unfortunately the movie's makers felt they had to dumb down this film by adding irrelevant humor. Just so you know, "I loved Life is Beautiful." In that film the humor was just as sad as the real actions. In "Crazy" the humor had little to do with the plot and seemed to only be included so that the viewer would not think too much about the serious, depressing, and wildly important issues the movie raised. The makers of this movie should be commended for attempted to address strong issues, but should be pitied for not having the guts to present them the way they must be presented.
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A Movie To Be Crazy About
tim200417 June 2000
This movie was excellent. That is all there is to it. Melanie Griffith really shined, especially at the end, and Lucas Black was terrific throughout the entire movie. He is surely a young actor to look for in the future. Clearly the Academy missed this movie because Melanie Griffith wasn't nominated for an Oscar, which she should have been. Well, she gets the nomination in my book, my rating is 10/10.
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