Agnes Moorehead

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Magnificent Obsession Review


Good
Restrained passion, brooding desire, and undying love are painted on the screen in glorious Technicolor. Obsessed with the suffering of the American over-privileged upper class of the 1950s, director Douglas Sirk created several Hollywood blockbusters that subversively tackled topics ranging from race to age in relationships. And while All That Heaven Allows (1955) and Imitation of Life (1959) are beloved by cinephilies as "masterpieces," Magnificent Obsession is not among that canon.

That's not to say that Sirk's 1954 remake of a 1935 film, and adaptation of the 1929 novel by Lloyd C. Douglas, is not a melodramatic gem. The story focuses on reckless playboy Bob Merrick (Rock Hudson, in his first leading role), whose boat-crashing antics inadvertently kill Helen Phillips' (Jane Wyman) husband. When Merrick falls for the widow, he learns a lesson in selflessness and giving to others -- but not before Helen is blinded in an accident that was once again a result of Merrick's actions. Whereas the melodrama in Sirk's major works are supported by substantive themes that still resonate today -- the racism that forces Sarah Jane to abandon her mother in Imitation of Life, for example -- Magnificent Obsession drowns in its sentimentality.

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Dark Passage Review


Very Good
A minor classic in the noir genre, Dark Passage is nonetheless too simplistic and too unbelievable to make much of an impression. Bogart is typically great as a falsely-accused prison escapee searching for his wife's real killer, while Bacall is also good as the woman who inexplicably helps him out. The gimmick? Bogie gets plastic surgery to become Bogie -- and he doesn't appear on camera for nearly an hour until the bandages are off. Also of note: Stephen King appears to have borrowed large chunks of Dark Passage for his novella The Shawshank Redemption.

Charlotte's Web (1973) Review


Excellent
That's soooooooooooooooome pig!

Long before there was Babe, and long before The Lion King crooned about "The Circle of Life," Charlotte's Web taught every child about life, friendship, and death -- all courtesy of a talking pig and his spider friend, Charlotte.

Continue reading: Charlotte's Web (1973) Review

Johnny Belinda Review


Very Good
What'll happen to poor Johnny Belinda, the son of a deaf-mute woman named Belinda (Jane Wyman), who was raped and impregnated by the local hoodlum?

Well, it will involve tears and a lot of courtroom hair-tearing, and given that this is a feel-good movie from 1948, it's all going to come up aces.

Continue reading: Johnny Belinda Review

Dark Passage Review


Very Good
A minor classic in the noir genre, Dark Passage is nonetheless too simplistic and too unbelievable to make much of an impression. Bogart is typically great as a falsely-accused prison escapee searching for his wife's real killer, while Bacall is also good as the woman who inexplicably helps him out. The gimmick? Bogie gets plastic surgery to become Bogie -- and he doesn't appear on camera for nearly an hour until the bandages are off. Also of note: Stephen King appears to have borrowed large chunks of Dark Passage for his novella The Shawshank Redemption.

Citizen Kane Review


Essential
I first watched Citizen Kane in 1997. For me 1997 was the year I actually buckled down and decided that I wanted to be a critic, and that I had better take this job seriously. With that in my mind, I switched my focus from new releases to retrospectives, designing myself to be able to do what I had at first loathed in critics: make obscure references to movies I had never heard of.

As a point of fact, when I actually got into the business I heard of those movies. And I heard more about those movies. And more. And, when the AFI named Citizen Kane as the best film of all time, I decided that it might just be a good idea to see it.

Continue reading: Citizen Kane Review

What's The Matter With Helen? Review


Bad
What's the matter with Helen? She's a raving lunatic, and given that she's played by Shelley Winters in 1971, she's obese, to boot. It doesn't help that Helen and her pal Adelle (Debbie Reynolds) are both mothers of sons who are convicted murderers. When they move to Hollywood to start over, Adelle moves beyond it (grandstanding in some 15 minutes of song-and-dance numbers with the children she's teaching) but Helen turns into an evangelical nut. High camp without much comedy value.

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All That Heaven Allows Review


Good
Whether we know it at the time or realize it later, life seems to provide exactly what we need. Problem is, blessings that find us unprepared can easily slip through our fingers. Sound like an old story? Well, actually, it is. Originally released by Universal in 1955, All That Heaven Allows explores one woman's struggle to accept a love that threatens to turn her life upside down.

Cary Scott (Jane Wyman) is an attractive, wealthy New England widow who falls for her much younger gardener Ron Kirby (Rock Hudson). Though she is sure of her love for him, Ms. Scott turns back on plans to remarry after her friends and children Kay and Ned (Gloria Talbott and William Reynolds) express reservations. Kirby may be handy with his hands, but Scott is devastated by the small town gossip and her children's bitter rebuff of her newfound love.

Continue reading: All That Heaven Allows Review

Charlotte's Web Review


Excellent
That's soooooooooooooooome pig!

Long before there was Babe, and long before The Lion King crooned about "The Circle of Life," Charlotte's Web taught every child about life, friendship, and death -- all courtesy of a talking pig and his spider friend, Charlotte.

Continue reading: Charlotte's Web Review

Show Boat Review


Good
Widely regarded as a classic, the 1951 Technicolor bonanza that is Show Boat (based on the Broadway musical) has not aged well. The film starts as two riverboat performers (including the lovely show-stealing Ava Gardner) are forced to quit their jobs when it's discovered they have black ancestry somewhere down the line. Such "mixed blood" doesn't sit well with the locals, so replacements are hired, including the daughter of the "cap'n." Later they go broke. That's the gist: The film doesn't offer much more story, as its musical numbers (including the famous "Old Man River") take center stage. Too bad the racial politics just don't play the same as they did when Edna Ferber wrote the novel in 1926.

Continue reading: Show Boat Review

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Agnes Moorehead Movies

Citizen Kane Movie Review

Citizen Kane Movie Review

I first watched Citizen Kane in 1997. For me 1997 was the year I...

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Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte Movie Review

Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte Movie Review

As moviegoers were recovering from the shock of watching twin gorgons Bette Davis and Joan...

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