In addition to witty, rat-a-tat dialogue and a fun plot that also touches on social issues of the day, the film is a visual spectacle, too. The songs are of course classic, and the sequence wherein a Siamese version of Uncle Tom's Cabin is presented as a play is an amazing work of art. Though it runs well into two hours long, the film is never tiresome, even when Kerr threatens to leave Siam for the umpteenth time. It's funny and touching, an altogether classic movie of the first rank.
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Sunset Boulevard starts out telling one story -- about a down-on-his-luck writer and serious financial trouble -- and ends up telling another -- about an insane and faded silent-film star who lives in a decrepit old mansion on the titular boulevard. (Sunset Blvd. just doesn't look the same these days, does it.)
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Set on the banks of Niagara Falls, honeymooners Polly and Ray (Jean Peters and Max Showalter) encounter the brazen Rose (Monroe) and her creepy husband George (the inimitable Joseph Cotten) in the bungalow next door. It soon becomes clear that their marriage is far from ideal, and within 20 minutes of its beginning, Rose has all but arranged for her husband's murder, in cahoots with her hunky boyfriend. Of course, George survives and gets his revenge, and then tries to make his escape with Polly in tow, who somehow seems to get in the middle of every turn of the plot.
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Garbo plays Ninotchka, a Soviet envoy sent to Paris to sell jewels that belonged to a former Russian duchess now turned Parisian socialite (Ina Claire). Melvyn Douglas is a count who becomes infatuated with Ninotchka and tries to divert her away from her duty to the Party. It's not Casablanca -- but it's not just another frothy romantic comedy either, thanks to Garbo's performance and the clever screenplay by Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett (who also co-wrote the legendary Sunset Boulevard and The Lost Weekend).
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For those of you interested in a historical retelling of the Titanic disaster won't find it here; like Cameron, director Jean Negulesco puts a family drama on the boat. It may as well take place in a flat in London: Woman (Barbara Stanwyck) is taking the kids to America in order to escape deadbeat dad (Clifton Webb). Only dad shows up unexpectedly on the boat and causes all sorts of havoc with his overbearing ways, gambling, and general obnoxiousness.
Continue reading: Titanic (1953) Review