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kingrat

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  1. With the snubbing of 63 Up, the Academy Awards complete their omission of all that series of Michael Apted documentaries. The documentary category is almost always one of the worst, as the documentaries people actually wanted to see in theaters are usually rejected by those who vote for the nominees.
  2. The Group is so episodic that you're not missing much by not watching it all the way through. Mostly interesting for seeing the young players ("Hey! There's Larry Hagman pre-Dallas!), and the source material is strong. Sidney Lumet is perhaps the most uneven director of all time. The Group is badly directed--the big party scene isn't done well, and the funeral home scene was so bad that they basically just did offscreen dialogue over a basic shot. Pauline Kael's essay "The Making of The Group" is worth reading, as well as the Mary McCarthy novel.
  3. Seems like most of us generally like the same parts of The Big Night and are less fond of the teen angst. John Barrymore Jr. is an adequate actor, perhaps more, but without the kind of star power that would make us care more about his character. I think some of the supporting performances are very good. I'm not sure I've ever seen a better performance by Preston Foster; Howland Chamberlin puts so much into the small role of the bartender Flanagan who has been a kind of substitute parent (mother, in effect?) to Johnny; Howard St. John is a hissable but believable villain; Dorothy Comingore does well with a small role (I actually find her rather hard to take in Citizen Kane); and Philip Bourneuf makes the alcoholic doctor of philosophy a memorable character. I also like the long take where Barrymore goes on and on to Joan Lorring, who is at the left of the shot and seems about to respond or interrupt several times but doesn't. That's clever directing. Losey has quite a few nice directorial touches. The two twists toward the end of the film are nice, too. I also like the kind of free-floating sexual attraction Barrymore feels toward Comingore, Lorring, and Mauri Lynn, without his having much idea of how to proceed. Losey and the actors handle this well, I think. It seems very true to life.
  4. The continuity errors on sitcoms are nothing compared to the continuity errors on soaps, where there's a frequent turnover of writers, and children suffer from SORAS (Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome) so that they can be old enough to have teenage love affairs and unplanned pregnancies.
  5. I don't know Rush's music well, but "Fly by Night" is an incredible song, one of my absolute favorites.
  6. Lawrence, I'm sorry this wasn't better. I have fond memories of Elvi Hale as Anne of Cleves (delicious comedy with a touch of pathos) in The Six Wives of Henry the Eighth and of Sarah Badel in the lead role of Cold Comfort Farm (which Fay Compton stole), BBC productions in the late 60s or early 70s.
  7. Bogie, I find Gentleman's Agreement pretty interesting, even if towns like Darien, CT no longer have exclusionary policies against Jews. Perhaps because it is based on a novel by a woman (Laura Z. Hobson), this film has four strong and complex female characters. I love how Gregory Peck is attracted to the sexier and more sophisticated (and more brittle) Celeste Holm, but ultimately feels more comfortable with the slightly prudish Dorothy McGuire, which makes sense given the way his mother (Anne Revere, in a great performance) tries to shape his moral responses. June Havoc is also quite interesting as the secretary who changes her Jewish name. The moral issue the film shows, but doesn't discuss, is whether Peck does wrong in how his masquerade as being Jewish affects his little boy.
  8. Gervais' opening monologue can be seen on YouTube. I find it very funny, but not everyone will. The dig at Leonardo Di Caprio was my favorite, but there were many good zingers.
  9. The lineup of Mary Astor films for Monday night is certainly strong. If you haven't seen Scandal, the documentary about her sensational divorce and custody case, I think fans of Mary Astor would enjoy it. It's also nice that TCM is showing two 1949 films back to back, with Mary Astor as Marmee in Little Women and then as a lower-class prostitute in Act of Violence.
  10. Lawrence, thanks for including a link to this great article about one of my favorite directors. Kenneth Lonergan makes so many valuable points about Wyler's work. Wyler made films about adults for adults, and that's one reason his best films resonate so strongly today.
  11. I'm a big fan of Between Two Worlds, with the Warner Brothers stock company sinking its teeth into some meaty roles. Edward A. Blatt must be the most obscure director who ever made a film this good. The cinematography is definitely noir-influenced. I do like Outward Bound, but prefer the remake, where I think every actor is an improvement on the actor in the original, as good as they are. I also like the added characters. Sutton Vane, author of the very successful play Outward Bound, was a veteran of WWI who suffered from what we would now call PTSD. He was gay, and unfortunately, he eventually killed himself, IIRC.
  12. How about A Man, A Woman, and a Bank, with Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, and Paul Mazursky? I remember this as being quite entertaining. Elevator to the Gallows belongs, too.
  13. We're on the same page about the credibility of Joan Leslie in The Hard Way as a Broadway star. It's a good movie, though, and maybe Eddie should schedule it for Noir Alley. After all, it starts with a dame in a mink coat jumping in the river.
  14. I believe Herman's personal favorite among his shows was Mack and Mabel, which has some fine songs, although the story has its problems. Herman really knew how to write for the stage. My favorite Jerry Herman song is "Song on the Sand" (from La Cage aux Folles) which I have sung in public a few times. It's a great song to dedicate to your spouse, same-sex or otherwise.
  15. Thanks for starting the topic, Jim. 1. Charles Laughton. If they had had a supporting actor award, Franchot Tone would have been a good choice. 2. Since I can't stand Barry Fitzgerald, my vote would be for Bing Crosby. But seriously, folks, there were many better performances this year. 3. "All About Eve"--Bette Davis. One of the classic performances. 4. "From Here to Eternity"--Montgomery Clift. Probably his very best performance. 5. "Giant"--This is a tough one. James Dean overdoes at times, but his is the performance I remember best, so Dean. 6. "The Defiant Ones"--Definitely Sidney Poitier. Tony Curtis does a good job, but he's no Southerner. The South Bronx, maybe. 7. "Suddenly Last Summer"--Elizabeth Taylor. 8. "Judgment at Nuremberg"--I'm not always a big Spencer Tracy fan, but this is one of his very best performances. Subtle, as Jim said, and he is the center of the film. Maximilian Schell belonged in the supporting category. 9. "Becket"--Richard Burton, for the reasons Jim mentions. 10. "Midnight Cowboy"--Jon Voight. Two actors doing first-rate work. 11. "Sleuth"--Probably Laurence Olivier. 12. "Network"--Peter Finch. This is the one people remember best. 13. "The Turning Point"--It's been a while since I saw this. Probably MacLaine. 14. "The Dresser"--Albert Finney. The role of the screaming queen dresser doesn't offer many opportunities for Tom Courtenay to show how good an actor he really is. 15. "Terms of Endearment"--Debra Winger, though I have no problem with Shirley MacLaine winning the Oscar. 16. "Amadeus"--Tom Hulce. 17. "Thelma and Louise"--Geena Davis has the bigger, showier role.
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