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Diamonds Are Forever Review

While it's fun to wax nostalgic over Sean Connery's final appearance as James Bond (drawn out of retirement from the series for a presumably fat paycheck), it's still unfortunate that the film he appeared in is more than a little bit embarassing. Jill St. John is one of the least effective Bond girls: She's beautiful, but shrill and helpless (her scream of "Eeeeee!" during a fistfight in the film's final scene is one of Bond's noteworthy lowlights). The story is borderline moronic: Blofeld (now played by Charles Gray in his third incarnation) steals a load of diamonds in order to arm a laser-shooting satellite, to achieve, of course, world domination. How's that all work? No idea, and when we actually see his creation in orbit, it's laughable.

On the other hand, Connery is fine, as are some of the film's villains (hippie bodyguards named Bambi and Thumper), and the inimitable Mr. Kidd and Mr. Wint, who, while entertaining, certainly didn't do much for Hollywood's respectful treatment of homosexuals. The Las Vegas setting (for much of the film) is unfortunately and unintentionally cheesy, as well. It's fun at times but overall one of the most hopelessly dated 007 flicks ever.

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Hatari! Review

National Geographic gets a 2 1/2-hour plug with this John Wayne picture, a harmless yet extremely pregnant look at a safari team in East Africa.

Wayne plays Sean Mercer, the grizzled veteran behind a group tasked with collecting exotic animals ordered by various zoos. Along the way, he must contend with various minor crises - a female photographer wants to tag along, ostriches get loose, a baby elephant needs to be cared for.

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King Kong (1933) Review

There are very few works of cinema that stand up to repeated viewings and decades of changing film mores and audience expectations. Most notable among these is the classic King Kong. While the special effects that really came to symbolize the film look a bit ragged and prehistoric today, they carry an emotional weight that remains unequaled by modern CGI trickery and model work. You can spout off all you like about the wonders of The Lord of the Rings' Gollum but for all his slimy verisimilitude the guy still looks 2-D. There is, of course, a reason for that: He is. Kong wasn't.

Everyone knows King Kong but few people can actually recount the plot of the film he starred in. Perhaps that is because in the ensuing years since the film's release, the plot has become so tried and true, almost hoary, that it no longer registers on the cultural radar. It is simply archetypal.

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Fury Review

One of the greats of its era, Fritz Lang's Fury is a bitter indictment of mob politics, with the inimitable Spencer Tracy in the role of an innocent man swept up in by lynch mob for a crime he didn't commit. Horrifying and extremely well-made, Fury belies its age with insight into the human psyche that is more relevant today than ever. Lang, as a refugee to America from Naxi Germany, knew what he was talking about. This is one to savor for the ages.
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