David Arkin

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I Love You, Alice B. Toklas! Review

Peter Sellers made a lot of good movies, and history has been kind enough to purge the memory of the bad ones from our collective minds. The painfully titled I Love You, Alice B. Toklas! is one of those bad ones, the kind I'd now -- having just sat through it -- would prefer to forget altogether.

The setup is straight out of a '60s sitcom: Harold Fine (Sellers) is a stuffy lawyer. He re-encounters his dippy hippie brother Herbie (David Arkin) to take him to a funeral, and is immediately disgusted by his free-living ways. But when Herbie's pal Nancy (Leigh Taylor-Young) concocts a batch of pot brownies, Harold suddenly goes nuts for the hippie life. He turns his apartment into a love shrine, where he and Nancy can, well, eat a lot of pot brownies. Will he tire of this in the end and go back to his wife-to-be (whom he left at the altar to head off with Nancy)? Who cares?

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M*A*S*H Review

As its opening song tells us, suicide may be painless, but war doesn't look all that bad, either, not the way the storied M*A*S*H tells it.

M*A*S*H isn't just the most successful translation from film to TV show of all time, it's also a masterful movie in its own rite. Maybe Robert Altman's best work (and his first movie of any serious note), though he's barely associated with the film in the popular consciousness now.

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Nashville Review

Call me a heathen. I don't like Nashville.

Possibly the most celebrated film of the 1970s -- at least among film snob circles -- Robert Altman's sprawling case study of five days in the Tennessee city is self-absorbed, overwrought, and dismissive. Nor is it particularly well-made, with poor sound (even after being remastered for its DVD release) and washed-out photography, not to mention a running time (2:40) that's at least an hour too long.

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The Long Goodbye Review

Robert Altman took a Raymond Chandler/Philip Marlowe novel -- God knows why -- and cast Elliot Gould as a private eye investigating a friend's death in the colorful 1970s, a far cry from the noirs of Bogie's Marlowe. It ends up with mixed results -- Marlowe is drawn as a goofy daydreamer (Altman calls him Rip Van Marlowe) and his story only gets interesting when Sterling Hayden, channeling Hemingway, goes bananas.
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