Alan Jay Lerner

Alan Jay Lerner

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Camelot Review


Good
The King Arthur story got its most audacious telling in Camelot, the primary theatrical inspiration for Monty Python and the Holy Grail, what with all the tights and the singing. The story sticks closely to the Once and Future King archetype, with Arthur (Richard Harris) facing betrayal from Venessa Redgrave's Guinevere (here often "Jenny") and #1 knight Lancelot (Franco Nero). The film really starts to pick up when the evil Modred (David Hemmings) enters the scene, though we're nearly two hours into the three hour opus by that point, and a lot of patience has been lost to the dim imagery and wandering first half.

My Fair Lady Review


Essential
This is the cinematic version of Alan Jay Lerner's and Frederick Loewe's musical (the longest-running Broadway show of the 1950s), which was based on George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion (both of which, of course, are still mainstays of theater and high school drama) -- though it has been stripped of its mildly socialistic overtones and turned into a musical romance. Nevertheless, this version of the play/musical is a film classic, which has entertained millions of people since its release.

The plot is familiar: Henry Higgins (Rex Harrison) is a professor of linguistics and a pompous, contented bachelor. On a wager with a colleague, Higgins undertakes to teach an illiterate Cockney, Eliza Doolittle (Audrey Hepburn), to speak the King's English. Shaw's message was that, as the human mind is a blank slate, anyone in England could be aristocracy if they only had the right education. Lerner's screenplay dispenses with Shaw's dubious ideology, and instead turns the story into a smart romantic comedy satirizing various levels of British society. And like most musicals, the final message of My Fair Lady is love conquers all -- even misogynistic, pompous blokes like Higgins.

Continue reading: My Fair Lady Review

Paint Your Wagon Review


Weak
Having never seen the play or the film, I always figured Paint Your Wagon was about a plucky family of settlers who overcome incredible obstacles as they head across the great, wild west.

Boy, was I wrong. What with Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood's singing, a whorehouse being built, a criminal tunnel being dug under "No Name Town," and a polygamous relationship among Marvin, Eastwood, and local honey Jean Seberg, Paint Your Wagon is so chock full of debauchery one might think Sam Peckinpah had been involved.

Continue reading: Paint Your Wagon Review

Gigi Review


Weak
Why doesn't Gigi disturb more people?

The premise: a wealthy Parisian (Louis Jourdan) is training a young girl (Leslie Caron) to be his mistress. He and his ribald uncle (Maurice Chevalier) even sing songs like "Thank Heaven for Little Girls." It's a musical about pedophilia -- and this is one of Hollywood's most glorified song-and-dance films. Even more bizarre is that Caron was 27 when she was tapped to play young Gigi. She looks like she's about 16.

Continue reading: Gigi Review

On A Clear Day You Can See Forever Review


Good
Suffering through 129 minutes of Barbra Streisand's absurdly over-the-top performance in On a Clear Day You Can See Forever almost makes you forget the borderline ingenuity of the plot and the subtle smoothness of Yves Montand and Jack Nicholson, who all but steal the show from the in-your-face Babs. (Montand is a hypnotist who falls in love with one of Streisand's past lives -- if that makes any sense at all.) This was Vincente Minnelli's second-to-last film, hardly the highlight of his storied career.
Alan Jay Lerner

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