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The Lavender Hill Mob Review


Excellent
This Ealing Studios crime caper/comedy is one of the studio's best, with Alec Guinness the nebbish, unlikely leader of a plan to steal a truckload of gold from the Bank of England, then smuggle it out of the country by melting it into Eiffel Tower statuettes. Naturally, something goes wrong (namely, a clerk at the Tower obliviously begins selling the statues to tourists), which sends the film into one of the funniest chase sequences in film history. Watch for two cameos: One by an Ealing production truck (at the end) and one by Audrey Hepburn (at the beginning).

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum Review


Good
My personal hero Zero Mostel is not as his best here in the adaptation of the inexplicably popular stage play, the only musical comedy to come out of ancient Rome. The action centers on Mostel's slave Pseudolus and his relationship with Michael Crawford's wealthy teen Hero. Pseudolus wants to be free, Hero wants the hand of the concubine next door. A plot is hatched, and many tunes are belted out. Unfortunately, most of Stephen Sondheim's best songs must have been left in Venice, so if you can sit through junk like "Everybody Ought to Have a Maid," you should be able to make it to A Funny Thing's funnier moments. Buster Keaton's final performance.

The Fearless Vampire Killers Review


Very Good
Even when he's at his most serious (The Pianist), his most stately (Tess), his most gruesome (Macbeth), Roman Polanski is a director with a keen, sardonic black wit. The "real" world, for Polanski, is one in which you might find human teeth embedded in the walls, where the neighbors might happen to be Satanists, where Donald Pleasance appears in drag. It's scary, but for Polanski (who lived through unimaginable horrors himself), it's blackly funny, too. And if the material is ostensibly quite heavy, as it is in The Pianist, so much the better. Weren't Nazis a kind of monster after all? How absurd was their rise to power? And how absurd the situations in which his protagonist found himself obliged to live?

Still, there are few declared comedies in Polanski's filmography. The best of these, 1967's The Fearless Vampire Killers (known outside the U.S. as Dance of the Vampires, and the basis of a recent, successful, European stage musical), is newly available on DVD.

Continue reading: The Fearless Vampire Killers Review

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