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Revenge Review


Good
Revenge refers to two people's actions in Tony Scott's rough-hewn underseen 1990 drama. It starts with a Navy fighter pilot (Scott had just made Top Gun) named Jay (Kevin Costner), who retires from the Navy and opts to visit an old client named Mendez (a fierce Anthony Quinn) in Mexico. It isn't long before he's sweatily banging Mendez's impossibly gorgeous wife (Madeleine Stowe). They escape for a weekend getaway, but it isn't long before Mendez, an obvious mafioso of some kind, tracks them down and has his thugs go to town on the duo. Amazingly, they both survive, and revenge #2 kicks in.

Don't expect a lot of twists and turns along the way: Often pegged as a thriller, Revenge is in actuality a straightforward story of obsession and, um, revenge. Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy finds girl again, with plenty of blood spilled along the way.

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Barabbas Review


OK
Any good Christian or Jeopardy! fan knows that Barabbas was the murderer that the Romans chose to free rather than Jesus when Pontius Pilate asked them to pick someone to receive a pardon. The film (based on the novel of the same name) imagines -- with minimal attention to anything that is historically known -- what might have happened to Barabbas after he was freed, tracking him back into a life of crime, a decades-long sentence of hard labor, and a stint in the gladiator pit, all before he's eventually redeemed through the message of the man who hung on the cross instead of him. Barabbas, in keeping with the Biblical epics of its era, is overwrought and overlong, but Anthony Quinn is memorable in the leading role, even when the script is derivative of everything from Spartacus to Ben-Hur, films which were still fresh in the public's mind. Barabbas has aged poorly in comparison (though Spartacus isn't the masterpiece many wish it to be, either).

Lawrence of Arabia Review


Essential
Being the self-proclaimed professional film critic that I am, I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that I had not seen Lawrence of Arabia (just out in a special DVD edition) until only recently. After all, it's considered by just about everyone to be the masterpiece epic of director David Lean, who also directed films such as Bridge on the River Kwai, and Doctor Zhivago. So one day, a friend of mine loaned me a copy of the video and I sat down and watched it. I was initially skeptical that something made almost 40 years ago would be able to keep my attention for the butt-numbing 3 1/2 hours of its duration. But now I fully understand why this has become the film that other epic films are judged against -- the winner of seven Academy Awards in 1963 for Best Picture, Director, Editing, Cinematography, Art Direction, Music, and Sound. After watching the film again, I am convinced that it is simply one of the finest works of cinematic genius to ever illuminate the big screen.

Based on the autobiographical writing of British officer T.E. Lawrence during World War I, Lawrence of Arabia depicts Lawrence (played by then-unknown actor Peter O'Toole) as a lieutenant lacking any sort of military discipline whatsoever. Bored with his assignment of coloring maps for the British Army in a dimly lit headquarters building, Lawrence jumps at the opportunity to be re-assigned as an observer for an Arabian prince fighting against the Turkish army. Lawrence quickly sees just how caring and great these desert dwelling people can be and ends up rallying the various tribes together to fight the Turks and help the British turn the tide of World War I.

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The Ox-Bow Incident Review


Extraordinary
Clocking in at just 75 minutes long, The Ox-Bow Incident is one of the shortest "classics" ever.

The story is simple and devastatingly tragic: In an old west town, word spreads that a well-liked rancher has been murdered and his cattle stolen. Before you know it, a lynch mob is formed and the cowboys head into the night to find the killers.

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Road to Morocco Review


Excellent
Widely considered the best of Bing Crosby and Bob Hope's "Road to..." collaborations (this was #3 out of 7 in total), Road to Morocco is indeed a very funny movie that shows off Hope and Crosby at their best. Hope shines above all as the funnier of two wisecracking sailors who wash up ashore in Morocco, only to have Crosby sell Hope into slavery. (Yes, it's funny!) Only Hope turns out to be marrying a local princess... and then there's a nasty turn in store for both of them. It's a funny and dark look at friendship and love... and of course, any excuse to crack a joke. Watch for Hope doing double duty as Crosby's ghostly/dream-sequence aunt.

Lust for Life Review


OK
Workmanlike and dutifully impressed with everything about Vincent Van Gogh, Vincente Minelli's Lust for Life is really more a Lust for Kirk Douglas, with Kirk trying his best to embody the tortured painter. Much is made of the whole ear-lopping incident along with Van Gogh's friendship with Gauguin, but Lust comes off too much like a linear history and less a movie full of character and mystique. It's all very pretty for a 1950s production, but little of it bears the energy it promises in its title.

La Strada Review


Essential
La Strada begins and ends with two of Federico Fellini's most simple yet memorable images.

Gelsomina (Giulietta Masina, who was Fellini's wife) is walking along a bright and uninhabited beach. She's in the low corner of the frame, a diminutive figure with her back to us, facing an endless stretch of white sand going off to one side and the infinite vastness of sea and sky going the other. Tentatively, yet hopefully, she moves forward. In a few seconds we know this character.

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They Died with Their Boots On Review


OK
In case the title is ambiguous, they died because George Custer was their general, and we all know about his Last Stand, etc. etc.

Errol Flynn takes one of his most curious roles ever in this big-budget western, playing the ill-fated general from West Point through the Civil War through his inglorious career killing off Indians before they got their payback at Little Big Horn. Custer is here portrayed as a hero but also an extremely impetuous one: Ranking at the bottom of his class in academics and willfully violating orders whenever they're given to him.

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The Guns of Navarone Review


Excellent
A former-day Saving Private Ryan, Gregory Peck and David Niven burn in this war epic, about a gang of neo-mercenaries sent to destroy the titular German guns. Will they save the day? Use your postwar patriotism of 1961 to make a guess.

The Old Man and the Sea Review


OK
I can't really think of a better actor to play Hemingway's Santiago than Anthony Quinn, and sure enough he's about the only reason to check out this 1990 TV rendition of The Old Man and the Sea.

Jud Taylor's rendition adds two new characters, an American writer (Gary Cole, with a moustache!) and his wife (Patricia Clarkson, without a moustache), who are lazing about in Cuba while our fisherman is out at sea. Cole is obviously a metaphor for Hemingway himself, and while it does serve to break the monotony of spending the entire movie out on the water, the addition is perplexing and a bit jarring.

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Requiem for a Heavyweight Review


Excellent
Rod Serling's tale about a washed-up heavyweight boxer (Anthony Quinn) and his corrupt manager (Jackie Gleason) is as relevant as ever, considering the sad fates of greats like Muhamed Ali. In fact, Quinn's Mountain Rivera opens the movie being beaten to a pulp by a young Cassius Clay (later to become Ali). It feels real, even though it's fiction, as this exploration of the afterlife of a boxer proves far more harrowing than what goes on inside the ring.
Anthony Quinn

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