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Maytime (1937)
To life's last faint ember, will you remember?
28 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
If I could give this film an 11, I would. Out of all the films of the legendary pair Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy, this remains my favorite. Finally, we are presented with a movie that not only shows what lovely voices and faces they had, but what depth as performers they had as well. MacDonald (as Macia Mornay) is particularly impressive, as we see her go through three stages in the film. The movie opens with her as an old woman, and in flashback we see her as a young, wide-eyed prima donna, learning the ropes of opera in Europe, and later as a mature woman who has finally realized that perhaps her career was not worth the emotional torture she has put herself through. She looks absolutely stunning and has a voice just as pretty as her face. In the final moments of the flashback, when she realizes what she has virtually brought upon herself, we not only see her pain and regret but we feel it as well. Eddy (as Paul Allison) is charming, handsome and playfully boyish, showing us a chivalry in men that seems to have vanished from today's pictures. His persistence in pursuing Marcia from the very beginning and his devotion to her over the years is touching. And when he utters those dying words, "That day... did last me... all my life," you feel your heart dying with theirs. John Barrymore makes for a perfect "villain" -- his bizarre desire to completely possess Marcia is portrayed in quite the chilling manner. Above all, this movie is about love. Whether one is attempting to steal a kiss or two during the beautiful rendition of "Carry Me Back to Old Virginny," teaching the other how to shoot a bow, kissing passionately and unexpectedly in the middle of an opera, or holding a dying lover, it is simply a beautifully and effectively told love story. When elderly Marcia clutches her chest under the tree, you can't believe what you're seeing -- but as soon as you see young Paul transcend into the foreground and sing "Will You Remember?" your heart is overwhelmed with joy at their finally being reunited in death. Woody Van Dyke sure knew how to make 'em, didn't he?
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Peter Pan (1960 TV Movie)
Brimstone and gall, what cozening is here?!
29 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Like so many others, I was a young thing when I saw Mary Martin's PETER PAN for the first time. I was perhaps 3 or 4, and I recall ever-so-clearly wanting to be Wendy, and wearing my pink housecoat (similar to Wendy's nightgown) every time I watched this film (which was at least once a week). Years later, this is one film that still remains near and dear to my heart.

Out of all of the adaptations of PETER PAN I have ever seen (including the Disney version which is also a classic), this is my favorite. But then again, how could one dislike anything which preserves the legend of the fabulous Mary Martin? The cast is absolutely terrific. While Maureen Bailey does not "get on my nerves" as some reviewers have stated, she does tend to over-act a bit. Seeing as how this was pretty much a direct translation of the stage show, however, there is a good chance Maureen had, at some point, been involved in the show. Anyone who knows anything about acting knows that acting for the stage and acting for the screen are two totally different ballgames, which could have resulted in her over-acting. Nonetheless, she makes for a charming Wendy (and later Jane). Sondra Lee is terrific as Tiger Lily, although I find it appalling that in this day and age where the part of Caucasian, blue-collar Bronx bus driver Ralph Kramden is going to be played on-screen by African-American comedian Bernie Mac, someone actually has the audacity to say that Tiger Lily can't be blonde because "she's an Indian." Does the fact that Tiger Lily is blonde really prove to be detrimental to the movie in any way? No, no it doesn't. Margalo Gilmore, an extremely talented veteran of both stage and screen, is a lovable Mrs. Darling, although she only appears at the beginning and toward the end of the show. Cyril Ritchard will ALWAYS be, in my humble opinion, the BEST Captain Hook (/Mr. Darling) to ever grace a screen (apologies to Dustin Hoffman and others who have played the famed role). His Hook is deliciously malicious, cunning, and hysterically funny. And Mary Martin - I don't even know if I can put into words how incredible she is in the role of Peter. Several reviewers have scoffed at the fact of Peter Pan as a woman - saying it defeats the entire purpose of everything. Show me a ten year old boy who could have acted, sung, dance, and flew the part (and performed it eight times a week on the stage) and I'll eat your hat. This was the perfect role for Martin, by my understanding her favorite role (she wanted a tomboyish role similar to Annie in ANNIE GET YOUR GUN), and what a treat it is to have it preserved. As a woman approaching 50, she is ridiculously agile, in fine if not incredible voice, and a treat to behold. Top all of this off with narration by the lush voice of the wonderful Lynn Fontanne, and you have a winner! Several reviewers have scoffed at the "cheesey affects," the visibility of the wires, and the "bringing Tinker Bell back to life" scene. As a 19 year-old cinema major, I am constantly baffled by the fact that people in this day of CGI refuse to accept the limitations of film and television in 1960. Not only do they refuse to accept it, but they simply have no concept of the era. PETER PAN is a filmed version of a STAGE MUSICAL, folks. You're going to see the wires. There were no computers at that time to generate images and special effects - get over it and embrace the past. As far as clapping Tink back to life - this is an integral part of the movie (and stage play for that matter). It's the audience's chance to embrace childhood and to believe in the unbelievable. After all, that is what Peter Pan is really all about.

All in all, this is an amazing film, and I have no doubt in my mind that even though youngsters today have been brought up with films using phenomenal CGI technology and such, they will fall in love with the beautiful and catchy music, the energetic choreography (by Jerome Robbins, no less!), and the story of a boy who could never grow up.
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Soap (1977–1981)
These are the Tates. And these are the Campbells. And this is... SOAP!
29 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I was, most unfortunately, not around in 1977 when SOAP debuted and caused a great deal of controversy. Luckily, I happened to be around in 2002 when TVLand began airing episodes of SOAP as part of the "TVLand Kitschen." I had heard of SOAP and of BENSON, but had never seen either. I decided to watch an episode of the former one night on TVLand, and right away I was hooked! SOAP was a masterful creation - a delightful parody of all things daytime and foreshadowing prime-time (think about it - before there was "Who Shot J.R.?" there was "Who Killed Peter Campbell?"). It covered everything - murder, infidelity, the church, impotency, mental illness, depression, attempted suicide, the mob, alcoholism, and even aliens and exorcisms. It pushed the envelope, but tastefully so, and it was filled with endless humor (both physical and wit).

TV had never before seen a show with as large and as brilliant an ensemble as the one on SOAP, and they sure haven't seen one since. For starters you had the Tate children - bratty Eunice (Jennifer Salt), man-hungry Corinne (Diana Canova), and the long-uninformed Billy (Jimmy Baio). At the head of the family was that wealthy scoundrel Chester Tate (Robert Mandan), The Major (Arthur Peterson) - Mary & Jessica's father who was still suck in WWII, and the delightful presence of the sarcastic butler, Benson (Robert Guillaume).

In the Campbell household, you had Jay Johnson in his dual role as Burt's son Chuck and Chuck's sarcastic and obnoxious dummy, Bob, Ted Wass as mobster/heartthrob Danny Dallas, and Billy Crystal as everyone's favorite homosexual, Jodie Dallas. Head of the household Burt Campbell was played by rubbery and hilarious Richard Mulligan.

At the heart of the show, however, were two sisters - Jessica Tate (played to ditsy delight by Katherine compassion sanity by the highly underrated Cathryn Damon). You always believed these two were sisters who genuinely cared for one another and would do anything for one another.

That is - until Season 4.

I hold firm in my belief that part of the main reason for the ratings decline during Season 4 was the whole "Chester is really Danny's father" storyline. Any SOAP fan knows that Mary Campbell would NEVER have done something like that to her sister - and when you break apart the heart and soul of a show, of course the ratings are going to drop. The final season wasn't a total disaster, but seeing as how several characters seemed to be just so out of character (Mary with Chester, Jodie is really straight, etc.), it certainly wasn't up to par with the first three fabulous seasons. And sure, we'll probably never REALLY know exactly what happened to the characters - but isn't it pleasant to think that somewhere, Jessica and Mary resolved their differences, Burt and Mary got back together, and life was good (insane, but still good) for everyone in the Tate and Campbell families? :) SOAP is a wonderful show - my favorite show - and certainly deserves the lavish praise that everyone is giving it! Hooray for SOAP!
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Fantastic (and one of the main reasons Oscar ceremonies should be released on DVD)
14 April 2004
This is perhaps one of the best "extras" to ever be put on a VHS or DVD. It's a great chance to see incredible movie stars out of their element and see them as themselves. There are tons of great, brief interviews with many of the great stars of the day: Greer Garson, Joan Crawford, Doris Day, Lauren Bacall, Dean Martin, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez, Jack Carson, and yes, Miss Judy Garland (or Mrs. Sid Luft) herself! The list goes on and on, and includes not only stars of the film and television mediums, but moguls and gossip queens Louella Parsons and Hedda Hopper. The downside? It gives you a taste of what the Oscar ceremonies were probably like during the Golden Age of Hollywood and leaves you hungry for more.
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A "balmy doozer" of a film!
14 March 2004
Warning: Spoilers
As a classic film buff, I stumbled across this film (which I had heard of but never had the chance to see, unfortunately) on Monday, March 1, when TCM finally decided to air it months after I had missed its last airing. All of the praise that you can read about this film is simply not enough.

Many people comment that they find the story improbable. But folks, this is the movies, and movies need be neither probable nor practical. An endearing story with smooth direction by Mervyn LeRoy and flawless performances, it has quickly grown to be one of my all-time favorites.

(Spoilers!) To put it simply, John Smith (Ronald Colman) is a WWI vet who was found in the trenches without any knowledge of his own identity. By chance, he meets a music hall actress named Paula Ridgeway (Greer Garson) and strikes up a friendship which soon develops into a romance, leading to marriage, a baby, and a poor but blissful existence. Tragedy strikes when "Smithy" (as she calls him) is on his way to Liverpool to apply for a job with a newspaper -- he is hit by a car. He remembers his true identity -- Charles Rainier, wealthy aristocrat -- but forgets he was ever John Smith. He returns home, and months later Paula returns to him, too -- this time in the form of Margaret Hansen, playing the part of his devoted secretary, hoping that perhaps he will someday remember the life that they had together and the love that he had for her.

It's such a tragedy that Susan Peters was injured in a shotgun accident not too long after this film -- she does a fine job as Kitty, Charles' almost-wife. Also, Henry Travers (who is never bad in any film) does a grand job (though his role as a doctor is small).

The two stars of this film, without a doubt, are the folks with top billing: Ronald Colman and Greer Garson. Ronald Colman is wonderfully cast as the melancholy soldier who just can't seem to get a break any way he turns. Just listen to that rich voice and look into those big, sad eyes -- he really turns on the charm, here. Then you have Greer Garson -- vibrant, stunningly gorgeous, luscious voice, and, indeed, a talented little singer and dancer! (The "She's Ma Daisy" number is an absolute treat -- a side of Garson the public seems to forget existed.) She takes your breath away as Paula, and makes you believe in the power of her love for her beloved Smithy.

All in all, this movie comes highly recommended: 10/10, five stars, two-thumbs up... you know the bit... but be sure to have those tissues handy!
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Dallas (1978–1991)
Oh, how I want to be a Ewing!
29 January 2004
When Dallas first aired in 1978, I was not alive to catch it. I was lucky to catch any of it at all the first time around -- I was only five years old when Dallas went off the air in 1991. But, with my father being a die-hard JR fan and my mother being a Pam & Bobby fanatic, I was exposed to it the second time again when it began airing on TNN. I often marvel at the fact that even at the age of nine, I absolutely LOVED this show. Granted, I probably didn't really understand half of it, but for an hour every day, my eyes were positively glued to the television set. Now I watch it on SoapNET, at at seventeen years of age I can finally understand it -- and understand the phenomenon behind the show.

Dallas is, without a doubt, one of the most remarkable shows ever created. Solid writing, smooth direction, one of the best theme songs ever, great characters, and phenomenal performers are what secured the fan base for this show during the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Comedy, drama, laughter, tears, power, corruption, money, greed, alcoholism, rape, abortions, affairs... you name it, it was there. Heading the cast were veteran actors Jim Davis and Barbara Bel Geddes playing Jock and Miss Ellie Ewing, the mother and father of the Ewing clan. You had youngest son, Bobby (Patrick Duffy), who shocked the entire family by marrying Pamela (Victoria Principal), the daughter of Digger Barnes -- Jock's archenemy and Ellie's former flame. You had ranch hand Ray Krebbs (Steve Kanaly) who not only had been involved with Pam, but we later learn is a Ewing himself -- he's Jock's son. There was Lucy (Charlene Tilton), the rebellious granddaughter of Jock and Ellie, daughter of their alcoholic middle son (and black sheep of the family, if you will), Gary. Rounding it all off you had J.R. (Larry Hagman), the eldest son, and the man everyone loved to hate. Scheming, corrupt, and hungry for money and power, he neglected his wife Sue Ellen (Linda Gray), a former Miss Texas, driving her to the bottle. And we can't forget Cliff -- Pam's brother and J.R.'s worst nightmare (or so he'd like to think).

The cast had unstoppable chemistry, and even though things got far-fetched (we all know the dream sequence... unfortunately) at times, it was and is still a joy to watch. My favorite show of all time and certainly one show that is a piece of Americana. If you've never seen it, give it a look. You'll be hooked.
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Match Game (1973–1982)
Get ready to match the stars on the star-studded, big-money Match Game!
9 January 2004
To coin an old cliche, "The just don't make 'em like this anymore." Match Game is and will always be one of my favorite game shows of all time! There's simply nothing like it. Filling in the blanks and trying to match a celebrity panel may seem silly and trite, but that simple premise provided for one of the most entertaining shows in game show history. Led by the dapper Gene Rayburn, the panel consisted of three regulars (until the later episodes, anyway): splashy and fun Brett Somers, funny theatre veteran Charles Nelson Reilly, and Family Feud's dashing and suave Richard Dawson. Then you had the semi-regulars: hilarious comedienne and book author Fannie Flagg, cute and perky actress Joyce Bulifant, or the lovely and enchanting Betty White. Occasionally, you'd also see the likes of M*A*S*H's Gary Berghoff, Patty Duke, Marcia Wallace, and many other familiar faces. This show made these people household names, and I simply love the fact that, through re-runs, Game Show network has given the chance for younger folks (such as myself) to experience this hoot of a show. (Though I must admit, it just wasn't the same when they introduced the wheel and Richard left.) It just doesn't get any better than Match Game -- be it one of the daytime series or Match Game PM. Go ahead, laugh your nk] off.
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What's My Line? (1950–1967)
"And now, let's meet our What's My Line? panel!"
9 January 2004
I don't think there are words in the English vocabulary that can fully capture the deep love I have for this game show and the admiration I feel for its panel. A highly sophisticated and glamorous show, "What's My Line?" keeps you on the edge of your seat for an hour and a half as you watch the celebrity panel try to guess the occupation of a guest or the identity of the mystery guest. Truly, this show fully encompasses what the fifties and sixties were all about. First on the panel, you have tart-tongued syndicated columnist Dorothy Kilgallen. Quick and smart, Dorothy always took the game seriously but never failed to through in a joke or two each telecast. Then there was Random House's very own Bennett Cerf, a remarkable publisher whose calm, cool demeanor and relaxed sense of humor perfectly complimented the show. My favorite regular panelist, however, was the beautiful actress of stage and screen, Miss Arlene Francis. Glamorous, warm, erudite, and fantastically witty, she was such an asset to the show. There was always a fourth panelist -- usually someone along the lines of Steve Allen, Fred Allen, Tony Randall, Martin Gabel (Arlene's husband), etc.

And then, there was the man who was head of it all: journalist John Charles Daly. One of the most fabulously linguistic and learned men I have ever seen in action, he was the perfect host as he brought laughter and sophistication to every episode. I prefer "What's My Line?" in its first incarnation, when John Daly was host and Dorothy Kilgallen still alive. It's a marvelous show, and I cannot thank Game Show Network enough for showing it in reruns, even if they do only air at 4:30 in the morning. Many thanks to the wonderful panel and host -- I've always felt they were like old friends in my home.
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Mary Poppins (1964)
I don't want to sound cliched but... "Practically perfect in every way."
26 November 2003
One of my earliest memories of my childhood (and probably of your own) is sitting on the sofa in our living room and watching this movie. When you're three or four years old, you love it wholeheartedly and are certainly in awe by it, but can never fully appreciate the absolute masterpiece that this film is. No, people, Disney is not always for small children -- Disney is for EVERYONE, and that's what Walt Disney gives us here: something for everyone.

First, you must look at the script -- a script full of wit and humor and at the same time with heart, humanity, sentimentality, and a lesson that often seems to be forgotten: material things and riches mean so much less than family and children and the little pleasures in life. Director Robert Stevenson makes this film a feast for the eyes that also speaks to the heart.

Then you have the wonderful score by the Sherman brothers, Robert and Richard, chock full of brilliant tunes like "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" and "A Spoonful of Sugar" that are light and full of breezy fun, a total antithesis to one of the most poignant, haunting melodies in the whole film, "Feed the Birds."

You also have an amazing cast that features two amazing and adorable children, Karen Dotrice as Jane and Matthew Garber as Michael. You also have veteran character actors like Ed Wynn (Uncle Albert), Elsa Lanchester (Katie Nanna), Reta Shaw (Mrs. Brill), Hermoine Baddeley (Ellen), and even Jane Darwell ("The Bird Lady") lighting up the screen. The ever-radiant Glynis Johns plays Winifred Banks, the children's mother and a suffragette whose "cause infuriates Mr. Banks." While she only gets one song, "Sister Suffragette" is an unforgettable number and she plays the part with a flair that only Glynis Johns can. Disney veteran David Tomlinson plays George Banks, Esquire, the children's father and a devout businessman who believes that the most important things in life are being head of a ship-shape household and carving "his niche in the edifice of time" at Fidelity Fiduciary Bank. He gives a superb performance and shows us that it's never too late to learn what is really most important in life. Dick Van Dyke is outstanding as Burt, the "jack-of-all-trades" who not only has his own one-man-band, but is an artist as well as a chimney sweep. Van Dyke's comedic skills are in top form here -- he plays the part with such enthusiasm and his golden voice and incredible dancing are part of what makes this film such a treat. Finally, we are graced the presence of Mary Poppins herself, Miss Julie Andrews. Fresh from the Broadway production of "Camelot," with that first glimpse of her floating down from the sky, you know you're going to fall in love with her. While portrayed seemingly younger than the Mary Poppins in P.L. Travers' beloved books upon which the film is based, Julie Andrews plays Mary to perfection: very proper, very intelligent, a bit distant as to avoid any sentimental attachments but never too far removed, enchanting, intriguing -- a woman who knows exactly what she's doing and how she can help the Banks family to be just that -- a true family. Her voice is exquisite throughout the film.

This film isn't just for the little ones, it's a film for anyone -- you're sure to love this film (that I must say is just as good as about any other movie musical aimed more toward the adult set) just as much when you're fifty as you did when you were five. Take it from someone who's seen this film more times than she can count, this is one phenomenal piece of magic captured on film, and we owe it all to the magic maker himself: Walt Disney.
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Alice in Wonderland (1985 TV Movie)
Off with her head!
21 November 2003
And I thought I was the only one who had seen this movie! I cannot believe all of the outstanding, positive reviews for this film. I thought surely I was the only person who had seen this version of "Alice in Wonderland" and I am so happy to find out that I am wrong! I wasn't even born when it came out (I was born in '86) so I'm assuming my mother taped it when it repeated on the Disney Channel. I cannot believe the ridiculous amount of stars in this movie! Everyone from big stars at the time (Patrick Duffy was starring on "Dallas"... well, actually '85 was the dream season when Bobby was "dead"... but you get the idea), television legends like Sid Caesar, Broadway babies like Carol Channing, and Hollywood stars like Donald O'Connor! I have so many memories of this movie... most of which frighten me to this day. Come on, the baby turns into a pig, Carol Channing turns into a lamb (while singing some song about bread and butter and jam or something), and Sally Struthers as Tiger Lily (at the time, I did not know her from "All in the Family" but as ECPI woman... isn't that what it was? You know, "You can get your associates degree in auto-repair, book-keeping..."). But the memory that lingered the most was my girl Jayne Meadows who continually ran around singing, "Off with their head!" I was so afraid of that woman for the longest time. At any rate... while the movie may not be first-rate, it certainly is the best non-animated adaptation and the stars are endless and in fine form! You know you're a child of the eighties if you've seen this one. Your kids are guaranteed to love the songs and costumes... but don't be surprised if they have a nightmare or two.
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"I cannot live without my life! I cannot die without my soul."
16 July 2003
Being a classic film buff, I had the chance of being introduced to this film by chance one late evening when it was being aired on TCM. I fell in love with the movie, and when I was told that it would be required reading over the summer, I was ridiculously happy. As many have noted, the 1939 adaptation of "Wuthering Heights" is, more or less, merely the first volume of Emily Bronte's beautifully and powerfully written classic -- focusing less on the detail of Heathcliff's wrath post Cathy's death, but moreso on the sheer complexity of Heathcliff and Cathy's relationship (the scenes at Penniston Crag of them among the moors and heather are not in the book because Bronte had to stick to Ellen's point of view -- it was nice that we could finally have an in-depth look at the tumultuous relationship between Cathy and Heathcliff). While characters are omitted (Frances, Hareton, Linton and the baby Catherine), it still retains much of the very nature of the novel. (If you will recall, many parts of "Gone With The Wind" were changed and characters removed in the process of transferring Margaret Mitchell's masterpiece into a screen epic. After all, this is Hollywood.)

The cinematography is divine (very much worth its Oscar), perfectly capturing the very essence of the bleak, chilling, haunting Yorkshire Moors that Bronte described in her book. Laurence Olivier is, in my opinion, a very fine Heathcliff. Indeed, in the book his nature is more animalistic and devilish, but Olivier superbly exhibits what Heathcliff is all about -- dark, brooding, and terribly bitter. Even at our first introduction to him, we know by the tone of his voice that something is very, very wrong with this man and that something is very, very off in that household. Olivier expresses Heathcliff's wildness and devilishness through his voice, stance and through his facial gestures, rather than so much in other physical ways. Merle Oberon is remarkable as Cathy -- a much more dark and exoctic beauty than Isabella whose good looks are very wholesome and pure (perhaps to match the darkness of the gypsy stable-boy Heathcliff), and capturing the duality of personality that is Catherine Earnshaw -- part of her wanting to love a wild, evil, wicked stable boy... the other part longing to be part of a higher society. Particularly coming to mind is her scene in the kitchen with Ellen and that marvelously disturbing death scene -- her eyes wild. (I do wish they would have left in the part of the book where she refuses to eat and begins hallucinating -- Oberon could have performed it so well.) Also to be noted are the stunning performances of David Niven and Gerladine Fitzgerald as the long-suffering Edgar and Isabella Linton (respectively), their lives made miserable by Cathy's selfishness, vanity and greed to be part of a higher way of living, and by Heathcliff's undying love for Catherine and his course of revenge and destruction. Flora Robson is also wonderful as Ellen Dean, narrator of the whole sordid story.

Someone mentioned that this film (by focusing on the love story and by the ending, I suppose) tried to say that Heathcliff and Catherine were perfect for each other and could have, eventually, found true love. I disagree, wholeheartedly. I believe what director William Wyler was trying to say here was that Heathcliff and Catherine were not good people. Cathy was right when she said that she and Heathcliff's souls were made of the same basic fiber -- they were both greedy and selfish (he wanted her passion for him to be as deep as his passion for her and she wanted and if he couldn't have it, no one else deserved to have it, and God forbid those around him feel any kind of love, compassion or humanity; and she didn't even really know what she wanted, except to be part of the upper crust and to rise above what she had lived through when Hindley became master of their house) and because of that, their love could have never meant anything BUT tragedy. They could never have found happiness together because they were not happy people. But they could find love in death -- because in death, they could be what they really were all along -- children; mere children forced to grow up all too quickly with the death of the man who cared deeply for them, thus forcing Hindley to become head of the household. There would be no Hindley in death. And as children they were good together -- as children, Cathy, wicked as she was at times as a youngster, could restore hopes of prosperity to Heathcliff's dark, bitter soul. They were, as children, more or less all one another had. And so they could go on, as children, without a care, happily picking heather and being King and Queen on the moors.

You've GOT to see this movie.
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"You know, sometimes I don't think she's very happy."
28 June 2003
I grew up in the Disney era where "Little Mermaid," "Beauty and the Beast," "Aladdin" and "The Lion King" reigned supreme among me and my elementary school pals (and to this day, if you ask one of my peers what their favorite Disney movie is, it's probably one of those or one of the Disney-Pixar creations).

But one Disney film has always remained my utter favorite and that is, indeed, "Sleeping Beauty."

Like most children, I grew up watching Disney movies -- everything from animated films like "Snow White" to "Lady and the Tramp," the semi-animated like "Mary Poppins" and "Bedknobs and Broomsticks," and the non-animated such as "The Parent Trap" and "Old Yeller." But "Sleeping Beauty" remains my favorite animated movie and you'd better believe at seventeen years of age, I'm still watching it. I cannot believe how the animation has been knocked in some reviews -- it's beautiful! They captured the medieval period so well and even the people look like, well, people. The score is beautiful and the songs "I Wonder" and "Once Upon a Dream" are sung wonderfully by Mary Costa. What a voice! Aurora is by far one of the prettiest Disney princesses (one thing that initially drew me to the movie as a child), following the formula with those trademark doe-eyes that Disney bestows upon all of their princesses and heroines. Prince Phillip actually does more than just show up to sing a song and say one line, a welcome change that answers the age old question, "What does she see in him anyway?" The three fairies are delightful (I always wanted to be Fauna!) and funny. And of course, there's the quintessential villain -- Maleficent. She scared me when I was younger and when I view the film now, no wonder. (For the longest time, I was also scared of Eleanor Audley period, but she's truly a marvelous actress.) And when Phillip kills her -- yeah, you'd better believe that's some scary business.

The story is beautiful and funny, the animation is divine, the music ethereal, and the voice talents extraordinary. This is a personal favorite and it comes highly recommended!
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Show Boat (1951)
A feast for the eyes and ears
28 December 2002
I will admit (with a great amount of shame) that the first time I saw the 1951 version of "Show Boat" I was not that impressed. I was so used to Kathryn Grayson and Howard Keel as Lilli Vanessi and Fred Grahame, thought Ava Gardner was too beautiful for words, and thought Marge & Gower Champion were the coolest people I had ever seen. That was about it. I was a little bored.

But as I have come to watch it recently, I have discovered it is more magnificent the second time around. As a North Carolina native, I must say this movie holds something very special for me -- and that is TWO North Carolina natives from "Grabtown" and Winston-Salem, our ladies Ava and Kathryn respectively.

First of all, the Technicolor is vibrant and lovely and represents the very fiber that those beautiful, glorious MGM musical treasures of the 1950's were made of.

Supporting characters Joe E. Brown and Agnes Moorehead were, as usual, delightfully wonderful. I don't think I've ever seen either of them do anything "bad." William Warfield's delivery of "Ol' Man River" (accompanied with Julie/Ava's last wistful look toward The Cotton Blossom, of course) never fails to put a tear in my eye.

Howard Keel's voice was in fine form, and he did a great job of portraying the slick gambler, Gaylord Ravenal. Kathryn's voice was, as always, up to par and beautiful, and while perhaps her representation of Magnolia wasn't as vibrant as her portrayal of Lilli in "Kiss Me Kate" or Aunt... whoever it was she played in "Anchors Away" (ooh, I can't remember the name... that's BAD... REAL BAD), she was still her lovely, charming self. I found that her progression from innocent child-like creature to a portrait of woman- and motherhood was captured and characterized very well.

But my favorite parts of the movie were simply Ava Gardner, and Marge and Gower Champion.

Ava is, as always, ridiculously and insanely gorgeous. In fact, I would have liked to have seen more of her than I did. It's a stretch for a white woman to play a bi-racial woman, but she did it with what seemed like such ease. She accompanies so much with a look (which is evident as she watches Gay and Nolie sail off together with Kim -- you all know what I'm talking about). And yes, Ava's singing pipes (in my opinion) were far better than Annette Warren's and MGM is stupid for having dubbed her (just like they were stupid for dubbing Debbie Reynolds in "Singin' in the Rain"). Her songs, "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man of Mine" and "Bill," were extremely effective, but could've been even more so had they used her real voice. Such expression in those eyes. And my gosh... her speech to Gay! I don't think people in Hollywood ever really looked beyond Ava as anything but a "sex goddess" -- but she really had a beautiful talent.

Now for Marge & Gower Champion: who couldn't love them? Gower is this sort of... fluid-like creature with a stature and grace like Fred Astaire, but instead of Astaire's "lanky movements" that defined his style, he somehow executes the more athletic, brisk movements that defined Gene Kelly's style. And Marge has to be just about the cutest little person I have ever seen (great facial expressions!) and one of the most talented dancers (up there with Gwen Verdon, Carol Haney, Ginger Rogers, Chita Rivera, and all those gifted people) I've ever seen grace a screen. They're sheerly magnetic, and they never miss. "I Could Fall Back on You" and "Life Upon the Wicked Stage" are two of the most outstanding moments in the movie. You'll love them.

All in all, "Show Boat" is most definitely worth a look. Or two. Or three. Or... well, as many as you feel like!
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42nd Street (1933)
"Now go out there and be so swell you'll make me hate you."
22 September 2002
I must admit, the reason I purchased this movie was all because of a CD I bought that had Ruby Keeler singing "42nd Street" on it. But I also must admit that my purchase was not a waste of my money in the least!!!!

I adore this film. It's the quintessential Depression-era Busby Berkley musical that usually starred either Ruby Keeler, Joan Blondell, Dick Powell, Jimmy Cagney, and featured a young Ginger Rogers.

Let me begin by saying that (especially for the time period) this actually happens to be a rather risque little musical... from Ginger Rogers' character actually having the name "Anytime Annie" to the little scene occuring on the train when Ruby Keeler extends her arm to have her shoes shined. But I'm not writing to focus on that.

Warner Baxter gives a tremendous performance as Julian Marsh, the director whose life and financial security hang in the balance with the opening of his new musical "Pretty Lady." (His last scene in the film is especially powerful, and at the same time very depressing.) George Brent is grand as Pat, the man deeply in love with the star of "Pretty Lady," Dorothy Brock. Also, a young Dick Powell shines as the juvenille of the show, Billy Lawler, who happens to be in love with a doe-eyed chorus girl by the name of Peggy Sawyer. Boy can he sing!! Bebe Daniels is gorgeous as Dorothy Brock, the star of the show who is having trouble maintaining a balance between her Sugar Daddy Abner and the love of her life, Pat Denning. She has such a fantastic talent as an actress and singer and is one of those true 30s beauties. And look at that wardrobe! (One thing I also noticed about Daniels... she's a TERRIFIC crier.) Then you have Ruby Keeler (aka the former Mrs. Al Jolson) playing chorus-girl-turned-over-night-star Peggy Sawyer. Ruby Keeler is absolutely adorable, with her petite frame, lovely large eyes, and fresh face. She makes the song "42nd Street" her own, and her dancing is FANTASTIC!!!! I have read many comments where people said she "couldn't dance" and looked like a clunky cow... but let's take a few things into consideration. First of all, she was playing a kid who, by luck, got into a huge musical production. Her dances had been choreographed to make her seem insanely talented, but at the same time a little awkward. Second of all, Ruby Keeler had a style all her own. Her taps weren't the light, airy taps of say, Fred Astaire, but they were much more earthy. (And by this I mean no disrespect to Astaire, as he is one of my favorite actors!) Her taps weren't light brushes on the floor, they were pounded deep into it. Her singing is so cheerful and so lilting... her ingenue image paved the way for other similar ingenues, such as Debbie Reynolds' Kathy Selden in "Singin' in the Rain." But, upon viewing this, there are two characters that stick in your mind: Lorraine and Anytime Annie, superbly played by Una Merkel and Ginger Rogers. They're so hilarious -- absolute riots! They could not have found a better pair to spark off of each other as wisecracking friends; Lorraine who is, shall we say, stuck on Andy (Gotta love the platinum blonde hair on Una! She's such a fantastic character actress.), and Ann, who aside from her obvious permiscuous ways, does a great British accent (love Ginger's random monacle!) and is quite humorous when loaded.

All in all, coming from a die-hard musical fan, I give this movie a definite 10/10!!!! Watch it, and I promise you'll agree.
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Bye Bye Birdie (1995 TV Movie)
Not hitting on too much, BUT...
8 September 2002
I have adored the 1963 film version of "Bye Bye Birdie" for years, but had always been disappointed at the fact that they cut out most of Rosie's songs. I bought this movie last night, vaguely remembering having seen it when I was little. Now I understand why my memory was so vague.

Although this included the original score (plus three new songs that I personally did not enjoy) and was far closer to the Broadway play than the first film, there was something very bland to me about this remake. Perhaps Dick Van Dyke and Ann-Margret have pampered me... I don't know. Jason Alexander is a great performer, but he's just not an Albert. Chynna Phillips, as most people have said, looked way too old to play seventeen year old Kim (two years older than Kim was supposed to be on Broadway and a year older than in the previous film). Along with that, her vocals had more of that Wilson-Phillips mainstream edge than than that of a Broadway or earlier movie musical performer. As much as I love George Wendt, he wasn't nearly as funny as Paul Lynde. While I thought Tyne Daly did a good job portraying Albert's obnoxious mother, Mae, I must admit that it lacked a certain something Maureen Stapleton's performance had. Bobby Rydell was a far better Hugo, having that sort of "dorky naivete" that a Hugo SHOULD have. I mean... I even liked Mrs. MacAfee in the other film better! But the grossest miscasting of all was... yes, ladies and gentlemen... Marc Kudisch as Conrad Birdie. He was HORRIBLE. And while I know Birdie IS supposed to more or less "mock" Elvis, he could have done it far less grotesquely. His vocals, his dancing, his performance... it just annoyed me to no end. (So did Ursula, but this is another story.)

However, there is one exception.

Vanessa Williams as Rosie. Now THAT was a good bit of casting. Given, she still looks BLACK and not HISPANIC... but we can't all be Chita Riveras, right? Nor can we all be Janet Leighs who, though she's definitely NOT Hispanic and doesn't even have that dark of a complexion, they somehow managed to make look Hispanic in the other film. Vanessa played the role very, very, very well, and delivered the best performance of anyone in the entire cast. Hooray for Vanessa!

Aside from Vanessa, I would like to chalk one up for them keeping the score in tact. However, as I previously mentioned, I was not digging the three new songs, nor was I digging the "new" sound that the orchestra had. It just didn't have that big, brassy, Broadway musical flash. At the same time... when I saw that Fosse dancer Ann Reinking would be choreographing, I thought I'd be in for a musical treat. Joke. Numbers that totally screamed sass and class in the other film like "The Telephone Hour," "How Lovely to Be a Woman," "Honestly Sincere," "Lot of Livin' to Do," "Rosie" and... well, basically every other song... just lacked the spunk and vivacity needed here. Even Rosie's dance with the shriners came out like... well... like Fosse gone bad.

I know Dick Van Dyke and Paul Lynde just hated the 1963 movie, but I promise them that they did all right by me.

All in all, I honestly can't say that I recommend this film. I do, however, recommend it to people who would like to see Vanessa Williams do a terrific job as Rosie or would like to see "Bye Bye Birdie" in a version closer to the Broadway show.
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I just don't understand why everyone is so anti!!!!
8 September 2002
Many of the comments on this page have been negative... saying the film was horribly butchered with ridiculous plot twists and a horrible Conrad Birdie, and better yet, a sorely miscast Janet Leigh. I beg to differ!

I have been a fan of this film for years, and recently bought the 1995 version. While the film DID change plot aspects (as oft happens when a Broadway show is brought to Hollywood, and I realize that Dick Van Dyke and Paul Lynde were very upset by this) and delete songs (most of them belonging to Rosie, who happens to be my favorite character), it is a far cry better than 1995's TV version.

1995's version bored me. The only good thing about it was the inclusion of "An English Teacher," "Normal, American Boy," "What Did I Ever See in Him?", "Baby, Talk to Me," and a ridiculously altered "Spanish Rose" and a great performance by Vanessa Williams. (Too bad she definitely didn't look Hispanic.) The choreography was boring, the cast paled (Jason Alexander was all right, just not an Albert type, and Marc Kudisch was disgusting as Conrad Birdie)... it just wasn't FUN.

But this version is. Dick Van Dyke, repeating his Broadway role, is superb. I love this man, and he's SUCH a triple-threat talent it's insane. He's hilarious as Albert, the mama's boy who's been taking his lovely little Rose for granted. "Rose. Little rose. A precious flower that I trampled on." Then you have Ann-Margret. Yes, we know, she's sexy, but there is more to her than sex-appeal. Her vocals in this film are incredible, much more "big Broadway" sounding than Chynna Phillips could ever hope to be and far more believable as Kim. She's great. Paul Lynde is HILARIOUS. He is THE Harry MacAfee, without a shred of doubt. As incredible as his and Dick Van Dyke's performances were, I must say you couldn't *tell* that they hated this film. For some reason, I really enjoyed the mother in this film as well... reminded me a bit of Donna Reed in character and style. Maureen Stapleton is perfect as overbearing, obnoxious Mae Peterson. And Bobby Rydell is the BEST Hugo Peabody. He's funny, he's kind of gawky but highly adorable... he's terrific. But let's get to the one person that everyone seems to dislike in her role as Rosie.

Janet Leigh.

Granted, her voice is not up to par with the likes of Chita Rivera. But really, who is? Chita could have done a terrific job in this role, but I understand that they were looking for a name, and there honestly was no one better than Janet Leigh. She's funny, she's beautiful, she's warm, she's charismatic, and at least she's on-key! Her dance with the shriners is a riot, and there is nothing cuter than the moment when Albert catches her in his arms. She and Dick Van Dyke have amazing chemistry in this film.

So, would I recommend this movie over the 1995 version?

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Adam's Rib (1949)
An all-star cast in an absolute pearl of a movie!
28 June 2002
I have read many different views on this movie -- some feel it hasn't aged well, some found David Wayne absolutely annoying -- whatever the opinion of it is, it's usually reviewed in several long paragraphs. But what can one say about this terrific film that exhibits "the battle of the sexes" in a very fresh way?

George Cukor (along with Billy Wilder and Joseph L. Mankiwecz) is one of my favorite all-time directors. His vision here is sharp, clear and oh-so precise, something that gives the film it's punch and flair. The Ruth Gordon-Garson Kanin screenplay sparkles with humor and brilliance.

There are scenes in this movie to die for. This is probably my favorite of the nine Spencer Tracy-Katherine Hepburn films out there. This movie displays their remarkable chemistry as Amanda Bonner (Hepburn) defends a woman (Judy Holliday) accused of trying to kill her husband (Tom Ewell). To complicate things, Amanda's husband Adam is the one representing the husband. Spencer Tracy has that gruff but lovable quality and a great delivery. Katherine Hepburn's quick wit and adamancy in destroying the double standard is divine. But aside from one of the most famous and remarkably gifted duos in Hollywood History, there's an amazing supporting cast as well.

Take for instance Tom Ewell (of "The Seven Year Itch" fame) as Warren Attinger. Never have I seen anyone portray ignorance and stubbornness as he does! Although people seem to be frankly annoyed by David Wayne's Kip Lurie, I don't think they should take it out on Wayne, who is a great actor. Kip was SUPPOSED to be annoying and hated -- after all, we weren't supposed to WANT Amanda to leave Adam, now were we? Jean Hagen's Beryl Caighn is the epitome of the "ditzy homewrecker." And I must say that it's SOMETHING to see her without bleached blonde hair saying, "Well of course we tawk! Don't ivrybody?" a la "Singin' in the Rain." But to me, the most shining performance in this film is given by the one and only Judy Holliday. (This was actually a "screen test" for her to reprise her Broadway role as Billie Dawn in the film version of "Born Yesterday." I'd say she passed that one with flying colors, wouldn't you?) Her Doris Attinger is sweet, loving, compassionate, defensive, hurt and absolutely hilarious. ("How did you feel after you shot your husband, Mrs. Attinger?" "Hungry.") She's such an amazing lady and performer.

So, would I recommend "Adam's Rib"? But of course! After all... there's nothing like Spencer and Kate flirting under the table in a courtroom.
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Laverne & Shirley (1976–1983)
A rare combination of hilarity and every day life
17 May 2002
Reading through the comments for "Laverne & Shirley," I have seen several remarking that they felt the show was "lacking," "annoying," "dull" and several other negative adjectives. It is obvious to me that these people have yet to indulge themselves in the fantastic world of the 1970's sitcom that jumped on the nostalgia boat. I was all of 12 years old when I first discovered "Laverne & Shirley" on Nick @ Nite (this was circa the summer of 1998). I would be lying if I said that it hadn't shaped my life-- and I know that sounds totally insane, but it broadened my horizons to a world of classic television, classic movies, and the theatre. But enough about me-- the show is a gem. The show was never meant to be a groundbreaker like "All in the Family" or "Maude" (although it did have it's tender moments and morals in episodes such as "Look Before You Leap" and "What Do You Do With a Drunken Sailor", taking a gentle look towards single parenting and alcoholism). It was only meant to do one thing: be funny. And it did so in a way that had only been done by the likes of "The Honeymooners"-- it involved the antics of the blue collar working class. It was meant to entertain, and it does a darned good job of it! The chemistry between Cindy Williams & Penny Marshall is awesome-- comparable, in their own way, to that of Lucy Ricardo & Ethel Mertz, Ralph Kramden & Ed Norton, and those that came before them. Cindy's cute-as-a-button, innocent but never naive portrayal of Shirley Feeney and Penny's tough-as-nails exterior with a heart of gold combined with the desire to be "loose" but the morals to be a "prude" make for one uniquely and incredibly comical friendship. Also, Michael McKean's Lenny & David L. Lander's Squiggy are outlandish but hilarious characters. Who could have played the "guy who's really smart and thinks he's dumb" and "the guy who's really dumb and thinks he's smart" better than these two?! Also in the cast you have outstanding veteran actors like Phil Foster as the gruff but huggable Frank 'Pop' DeFazio and sweet MGM musical star Betty Garrett as the girls' wise landlady (and later, Laverne's stepmother). Eddie Mekka is charming and funny as Carmine Ragusa, Shirley's boxing/dancing/singing boyfriend (is there anything this fella CAN'T do?). The cast is electric. This show's motto should have been "We aim to please." If you're having a bad day, this show is sure to put a smile on your face, your laughter in the air, and a quote in your head! It's one of the greatest examples of classic TV of all time!
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Just knock three times and whisper low... that you and I were sent by Joe...
15 February 2002
When I purchased "The Pajama Game", I felt confident that the same team that brought me my all-time FAVORITE musical, "Damn Yankees", would not let me down. I was right. The dynamic team of George Abbot & Stanley Donen, Bob Fosse's oustandingly quirky choreography, and the wonderfully superb music and lyrics provided by Adler & Ross bring me more satisfaction than the 7 1/2 cents raise when it was given to the Sleep-Tite employees. Doris Day is charmingly witty and All-American in the role of Babe Williams... a role that allows her to radiate that eternal sunshine that seems to constantly course through her veins. Watch her vitality in numbers like "7 1/2 Cents" and "I'm Not At All In Love," her energy and vivacity in "There Once Was a Man", and the romance in her "Hey There" reprise. But let's keep in mind that Doris is also the only cast member not imported from the original Broadway show. (Much as I love Doris... what the heck was wrong with Janis Paige? Rent the film Silk Stockings... I think she would have been perfectly darling!) The show cast is an ensemble of sheer perfection! Reta Shaw is terrific as Mabel, Barbara Nichols and Thelma Pelish are riots as Poopsie and Mae, Jack Straw is superb as Prez, and Ralph Dunn is sublime as Mr. Hasler ("Now that isn't nice!"). John Raitt is great in reprising his role of Sid Sorokin... the man with stars in his eyes and a company to run. Whatta voice! And how about that Eddie Foy, Jr.? As Vernon Hines (aka "Hiiiiinesy"), he's an absolute TRIP! What's better than a drunken knife thrower who is having a hard time trusting his girlfriend? AND he sings and dances. Such an ADORABLE guy with a bundle of talent! However, my PERSONAL favorite is none other than that smashing, electrifying dancer with the absolute LONGEST limbs ever... Carol Haney, as Gladys Hotchkiss.. She is not only BRILLIANT but gives an absolutely FLAWLESS performance, in my opinion. Her dancing is not to be reckoned with... just look at her go in "Steam Heat" (breath-taking choreography and dancing!), and even "Hernando's Hideaway", as well as "Once-A-Year Day." Her comedic timing is uncanny, and with that grainy voice and pixie hair cut, she absolutely STEALS every scene she's in. It's most unfortunate that she died so young and was unable to pursue a further career in movies or on Broadway. All in all, this is a WONDERFUL piece of musical cinema, and I definitely recommend it!
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Sweet Charity (1969)
And she lived hopefully ever after...
10 February 2002
Warning: Spoilers
{*Possible spoiler alert*} First things first: I LOVE THIS MOVIE. Why? Because it has everything. The stunning choreography and wonderful direction of Bob Fosse, a superb score by Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields, a terrific plot driven straight from the glorious "Le Notti de Cabiria", the waiflike look and powerful talent of Shirley MacLaine, as well as wonderful performances by John McMartin (as timid, shy and paranoid Oscar), Chita Rivera (a Broadway diva in one of her rare film appearances-- watch her strut her stuff!), Paula Kelly (a bundle of energy and exuberance), Stubby Kaye (who always makes his roles look MARVELOUS-- whether he's playing the owner of a dance hall as in Sweet Charity, or a Runyonesque gambler in Guys & Dolls), Sammy Davis, Jr. (Rat Packer who BECOMES Big Daddy of the Rhythm of Life Church... you've gotta love him) and take note of a VERY young Ben Vereen during the "Rich Man's Frug" and "Rhythm of Life" segments!

MacLaine is a darling... the ever-hopeful dance hall hostess with a heart of pure gold. Watch her during "If My Friends Could See Me Now"... and see the rays of light just shooting out from her eyes, mouth and fingertips. She's sheer perfection, and a ton of talent. All of Bob Fosse's dance numbers are terrific... among the best being "Big Spender", "Rich Man's Frug", "If My Friends Could See Me Now" and "There's Gotta Be Something Better Than This." Chita Rivera and Paula Kelly are a delight as Nickie and Helen, Charity's dance hall friends and *mother-figures.* John McMartin recreates his character of Oscar WONDERFULLY (I actually enjoy him here better than in Cabiria... for the sheer fact that his character is more developed with more hang ups and better motives). My only qualms about this underrated masterpiece? Fosse, as he later would admit, was a little too busy with the new film specialties of the day... still-shots and colored lenses and things of the like. And, though I adore MacLaine with every fiber of my being... where was Gwen Verdon? :( She WAS and always WILL be Charity... (If you have seen this movie and feel MacLaine was great in the part, as I do... go rent "Damn Yankees" and take a peek at Verdon. She will leave you stunned.) Be sure to see this one, folks!
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A Fabulous, Fabulous Film
10 February 2002
Before viewing "The Nights of Cabiria", I had never seen a foreign film (yes, I know, it's a shame... but then again, most fifteen year olds haven't). However, "Sweet Charity" being one of my favorite musicals when it appeared on Sundance one Saturday night, I couldn't resist. And I'm glad I didn't. Frederico Fellini is a skillful and masterful man. His direction is absolutely AWESOME, to say the least. And words cannot describe the glorious performance of his wife, Giulietta Masina. Fellini did for Masina what Bob Fosse did for his wife, Gwen Verdon on the stage when it was transposed to "Sweet Charity." Masina is so believable and so real... with that street-urchin appearance, those huge, sparkling eyes, that wistful smile, and her petite figure... she is absolute perfection in the role of Cabiria. This is one film that is a MUST SEE... and if you've already seen it, SEE IT AGAIN. Two thumbs up!!!!
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Luck WAS a lady with this one!
3 January 2002
Warning: Spoilers
{Possible spoilers coming up... you've been forewarned.}

This is absolutely one of my all time favorite musicals and movie musicals! (The other is Damn Yankees with Gwen Verdon, Tab Hunter and Ray Walston) As we all know, sometimes the luster (not to mention the songs) of a show are lost in its transition from stage to screen. This is, for the most part, DEFINITELY not the case here.

The sets are divine, bright and colorful, the characters are bigger than life and you can't help but love them, and Michael Kidd's choreography is absolutely stunning. (So glad to know they used the original Broadway choreographer)

All of the actors "bounce the ball" (that is, have unbeatable chemistry) to perfection in this film. Frank and Marlon are absolutely believable as the proprietor of the oldest established permanent floating crap game in New York, and the most notorious gambler who bets on even the most minute things-- such as his fever going up to 104 if he doesn't take penicillin. Sweet, fresh faced Jean Simmons is perfect for the role of Sarah (although it is true, her singing pipes are not as outstanding as that of Isabel Bigley or Josie de Guzman)-- the mission doll with a heart of gold and a drive to heal all. And last but certainly not least (on my list anyway) is Miss Vivian Blaine, reprising her Broadway role as Miss Adelaide-- the Hot Box lead singer and dancer who would like to finally end her 14 year engagement to Nathan with marriage, and rid herself of the psychosomatic cold he's given her.

First off, kudos to Stubby Kaye and B.S. Pulley as they reprise their Broadway roles as Nicely-Nicely Johnson and Benny Southstreet. There were never two more loveable gamblers than these guys.

Brando is superb, as usual, and though he's not got the voice of Robert Alda or Peter Gallagher, you forget it-- as he has this sense of determination to bring all he can to his role as Sky Masterson. "Luck Be A Lady" gives me chills every time I see him perform the number. Especially enjoyable is hearing him say "Daddy... I got cider in my ear."

Simmons is charming and pleasant in a role well suited to her looks, voice and the way she carries herself. You long so dearly for her not only to win Sky (or, toward the end, believe him), but to help people overcome their gambling, drinking and other sins, and live a life with God. Her rendition of "If I Were A Bell" is splendid, to say the least!

Sinatra is the man. He is so perfect for the role of Nathan Detroit-- and here he sings parts that Sam Levene from the Broadway cast never could (terrific actor, but the chap was tone deaf... go figure). I really enjoyed the addition of the song "Adelaide"... wish some guy would sing like that to ME. Frankie's cool, slick demeanor transcends the boundaries of this movie. But most importantly, you want him to marry Adelaide.

And speaking of Adelaide, Vivian Blaine is just sheer perfection in this role. From the accent to her belting out "Adelaide's Lament", she's just terrific. And she's also my favorite part of the entire movie. She really makes you feel for Adelaide... especially when she cries right before and then again during "Sue Me". I still haven't decided whether I like "Pet Me Poppa" better than "Bushel and a Peck"... maybe I like them equally. Either way, she does fantastic with those as well as "Take Back Your Mink." (I'm sad that they left out "hollanderize" from the film...) She's absolutely MARVELOUS, not to mention hilarious, and my favorite part of the entire film.

One of the best things about this movie is their lingo. It's a mixture of high class and street slang. Never do they use "It's", "I'll" or "That's." It's always "It is", "I will" and "That is." Overall, Guys & Dolls is one of my favorite all time movies and musicals, and it's one that you should take time to watch every time it comes on. My only complaint? No "Marry The Man Today." Now THAT'S a good song.
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Roxie Hart (1942)
Ginger Rocks Roxie in 1942 Film!
9 July 2001
I bought this film because I am a huge fan of the musical "Chicago." Needless to say, I wasn't disappointed! Although the parts of Velma & Matron Mama Morton were built up a lot for the musical, and there are some slight differences (e.g. in Chicago Roxie really DID shoot Fred Casely... here she doesn't... Roxie and Amos never divorced... here they do... Roxie wasn't really pregnant... here she is), the basic plot is still the same, and what a wonderful story this is! Although I must say that I prefer Jerry Orbach (of Law & Order fame) as Billy Flynn, Adolphe Menjou was great in the role! Stunning performance! But the real spark here lies within Ginger Rogers... whose portrayal of Roxie is absolutely rivetting! (However, to me, the definitive Roxie Hart was and always will be the very wonderful Ms. Gwen Verdon.) She brings such sass to the role... you gotta applaud her! A great movie!
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Irma la Douce (1963)
"Don't you know? He's in jail! You can visit him there every other Sunday."
5 July 2001
Lemmon, MacLaine & Wilder... they did it again! I got to catch this movie on TCM... because of a marathon they had in memory of Jack Lemmon's death. (I'm still mourning...) Having already seen "The Apartment", I was THRILLED that I would finally get a chance to see "Irma La Douce." I was not disappointed! Billy Wilder is one of the FINEST screenwriters and directors ever... there is no question about that. But the chemistry he has with Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine... it's just fantastic! Shirley MacLaine ALWAYS does a great job playing 'bad girls with good hearts' (take for example, "Sweet Charity"). She's such a talent and you HAVE to adore her (and the fetish with green stockings) in this movie. Jack Lemmon is another FINE actor... I have always had the greatest of admiration for him. He's such a delight to see on-screen... with his great comic timing and just-- the way he can deliver a line! This is a hilarious movie with some incredibly weird twists (I'm STILL trying to figure out how Lord X was in the chapel and at the same time... Nester's in with Irma and the baby...). Make sure you see this one folks... it's wonderful!
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The Apartment (1960)
"He's so cute... 5'2... 99 pounds... like a little chiuaua!"
5 July 2001
This is an absolutely TERRIFIC MOVIE!!!! I have always loved Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine... and together under the direction of Billy Wilder, it's absolute MAGIC! This movie had me laughing hysterically ("I'm Mrs. MacDougal! Margie to you...") and crying tears of sadness and joy. Fred MacMurray is positively evil in this movie... I threw a couple pairs of shoes at the TV screen when he went to Baxter and made the comment about taking a girl out for laughs and right away thinking you're going to marry her. It definitely went against type-casting, but he was wonderful! Also, Ray Walston as Joe Dobish... Ray's one of my favorite actors, not simply because of things like "My Favorite Martian", but because of his devilishly delightful role as Satan in "Damn Yankees" (my favorite all-time film). Ray always brings something special to his roles. And now onto Shirley MacLaine... one of the finest actresses this world has ever seen. She does such a wonderful job playing Fran Kubelik. You just want to cry right along with her whenever Sheldrake's being such a pain... and then when she's running to C.C.'s apartment... the look on her face is priceless!!!! And Jack Lemmon... the world has lost one of it's finest actors, I will tell you that. He's absolutely perfect in the role of C.C. Baxter... his mannerisms... his execution... he's so delightfully wonderful! You could love a guy like that. The near-ending scared the heck out of me... but the 'very ending' was absolutely terrific. A must-see... movie-wise. :o)
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