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About TerryEllsworth

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    Advanced Member
  1. This is the kind of film you get when every single person involved in the creative process is working on all cylinders. No matter how many times I have seen this film I am completely and totally enthralled by it and was again the other night when TCM ran it. Burt Lancaster. Kirk Douglas. Fredric March. Ava Gardner. Edmond O'Brien. John Houseman (uncredited). Whit Bissell. Andrew Duggan. George Macready. Martin Balsam. Directed by John Frankenheimer. Screenplay by Rod Serling. Just the names make you happy. From the late 50s to around the late 60s there were a series of these kinds of serious political films the likes of which we hadn't seen before and haven't seen since. This is one of the best of them. The acting is just pitch-perfect in every way despite the fact that you have a mix of styles rarely seen in one film. The confrontation between Lancaster and March is a master class in acting. Douglas, who I often find a bit overwrought, hits every right note here. Occasionally, he almost seems like he's going to be blown off the screen by Lancaster and March but he quietly holds his own. Ava Gardner, in a small part, was entering her blowzy character phase and she's in full force here as an actress, not just a pretty lady. All of the smaller parts are handled beautifully. My only real complaint, and it's a tiny one, is that Serling occasionally gets a little over ripe with some of the speeches he gives the March character. Just the teeniest bit of sanctimony. But who cares when you have a nearly perfect film like this? Best, Terry
  2. I lost all respect for Roger Ebert after he gave a very heated and spirited defense of the screenplay for that awful James Cameron version of TITANIC and was bemoaning the fact that it was not nominated for an Oscar. That did it for me. Of course, he wasn't nearly as bad as Gene Siskel who had such a strange "obsession" with John Travolta that he bought the white suit from SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER. Best, Terry
  3. I could care less what Leonard Maltin says. He's a middlebrow critic the likes of which you'd find in your local free weekly from the Podesta Daily Circular. His opinions mean nothing to me. I might be interested in what David Denby has to say but I'd rather hear what the postman thinks than Leonard Maltin. He's for the masses. Best, Terry
  4. Topbilled: Agree with you on number 1, 2, 3, and 4. As for 5, I knew that Loretta Young was a superficial boring actress when I was 7 years old. My opinion has never changed. Best, Terry
  5. I had never seent his film before and the description sounded really interesting to me. Plus it had Sidney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre so, I figured, this could be good. Plus it's from Warners. Well, what a mess. How could so much have gone wrong? First and foremost, you have one really bad performance and one truly miscast actor. Sidney Greenstreet, in one of his few lead roles in his short 8 year film career, gives such a bad, overwrought performance that I had to look away at times. His final scene is so histrionic and over-the-top that it was cringe-inducing. What was he thinking? This is miles away from the subtlety of CASABLANCA or MALTESE FALCON or CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT. Then there's Geraldine Fitzgerald. I think she's totally miscast. She simply doesn't have the allure of a film noir femme fatale. Not even close. She doesn't quite seem to know what she wants to convey to the audience. Also, I think her strengths are as a supporting performer and I just don't think she's a leading lady. Peter Lorre fairs much better, IMHO. I was very disappointed in this film which I was really looking forward to. Best, Terry
  6. I am one of those who completely changed my mind about Clark Gable over the years. Growing up, I mostly knew him from his postwar work which I didn't much like. My opinion was also colored by the fact that I hated GONE WITH THE WIND. Then a few years ago, my opinion about GWTW changed somewhat and it was mostly due to Gable's performance which, to me, is the most natural performance in the film and has held up better than anyone else in the film. Then I saw DANCING LADY with Joan Crawford and I thought, wow. His work with Crawford and Harlow in the 30s is terrific. I really think his best work came in the 1930s. After GWTW, things got spotty but he was still on top. I think Gable is a case of truly great star, pretty good actor but he's not a great actor in the class of Stewart, Tracy, Bogart, Cagney, or Grant. But, heck, being a great star is just fine in my book. I'm just glad for things like TCM and DVDs which allowed me to re-appraise and discover a Gable I didn't know. Best, Terry
  7. Deb: I agree with you but his implication -- by ignoring the actual composer -- is that they were solely responsible for writing the songs and that's not only incorrect but wrong. Best, Terry
  8. Today's showing of IT'S ALWAYS FAIR WEATHER and, in particular, the famous rollerskating dance of the subject line done by Gene Kelly reminds me how many of the most joyous, magical moments in classic film come from musicals. This isn't a great musical; it's a "fair" one but it doesn't matter because those 4 minutes of movie magic make it all worthwhile. And it is magic. It just gives me goosebumps thinking about it. It's the kind of joyous fun missing from movies today. So many of my favorite moments in film come from musicals and it doesn't matter how many times I've seen them. I don't care about the sometimes creaky plots it's the musical numbers that fill me with happiness and joy. I'm thinking of the "Begin the Beguine" number from BROADWAY MELODY OF 1940. I've seen it at least a hundred times. Yet, if I'm watching TV and it comes on I stop what I'm doing and watched enthralled all over again like I'm seeing it for the first time. I can think of dozens of other examples. It's magic. Magic that only classic films can provide. best, Terry
  9. Nope. And I went to Northwestern. Terry
  10. I think he's off base with Marilyn Monroe as a "method actor." She left them her estate; that didn't make her a method actor. I also disagree with Baldwin's contention that "there never was a more gifted film actor than Montgomery Clift." I like Clift very much but I can think of dozens of film actors that I consider more "gifted" than he was. Best, Terry
  11. Mrroberts: Amen! Method acting is one big fraud. It always reminds me of the great quote by Laurence Olivier on the set of MARATHON MAN when he watched Dustin Hoffman go without sleep or food for several days to "get into the part better." He looked at Hoffmann and simply said: "Dear boy, why don't you just try acting?" Brilliant. James Stewart didn't know a thing about "method acting" and yet no method actor ever gave a performance of better raw, inner emotion than he did in IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE. So, pooh, on method acting. Regards, Terry
  12. Interesting. I don't see the grandmother, played superbly by Fay Bainter in her last movie role (she should have won an Oscar for this, IMHO), as "instrusive and maniuplating" at all. She thinks she is protecting her grandchild and others. I think it is clear that she is pained to have to do what she thinks is the right thing however misguided it may appear to us. I find her a "type" I knew all too well growing up. I find her fairly sympathetic especially in the hands of an actress like Bainter. The scene where she realizes what she has done and collapses and then refuses to be helped up kills me every time. This character could have been played as a "stock meanie" but isn't in this performance. Miriam Hopkins' aunt I find far worse. She is just a selfish beatch who cares only about herself. She never tries to make amends unlike Bainter's character. I have always liked this film and believe it to be credible on every level. And Jimmy Garner is so damned good-looking that I never for a minute would think that dear Audrey would prefer Shirlely to him Regards, Terry
  13. I'm sorry but if you think people were just as knowledgeable about homosexuality -- or sexuality in general -- in the 1930s as they are today then ... well, I just don't know what to say. I grew up in NYC in the 1970s and I know that no one I knew then growing up would have had any clue what being a lesbian was or anything like that. Perhaps you grew up around more openly sexual and sophisticated people than I did but I'd venture to say that the vast majority of people had my experience and not yours. Best, Terry
  14. During today's showing of IT'S ALWAYS FAIR WEATHER, host Ben Manckiewiecz during his intro and during his wrap-up said that "the songs were written by Betty Comden and Adolph Green." Nope, try again. The songs were written by Andre Previn (who was never mentioned); the lyrics were by Comden and Green. Regards, Terry
  15. "I know I'm not the onlyl one who thinks it's a fine film -- it has a 7.8 score on the IMDb." I think I just did Bob Hope in The Road to Utopia and spit out my coffee! Why not tell us what the Rotten Tomatoes rating is next? A bunch of people register and rate films. I don't exactly think that's a reflection of artistic merit. Just a popularity contest and on IMDb you can register 6,000 times just to vote for one film. You liked the film. That's perfectly fine as long as you acknowledge that settled critical opinion is that it's a piece of crap. I love 55 Days at Peking -- a guilty pleasure -- but I make no claims that it's a great film. Best, Terry
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