David Niven

David Niven

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David Niven Jr. - NBA Star Chris Paul supports LA's 'BEST Summer Learning Day' held the El Capitan Theater - Los Angeles, California, United States - Friday 21st June 2013

David Niven
David Niven and Chris Paul
David Niven and Chris Paul
David Niven and Chris Paul

Four Men And A Prayer Review


OK
In Four Men and a Prayer, director John Ford doesn't have one. Saddled by Darryl Zanuck with a claptrap mystery adventure plot involving the dishonorable discharge and subsequent murder of a proud British career officer during the jewel-in-the-crown years of British colonialism and the efforts of his four sons to find the killer and exonerate their father, Ford assumes the role of Houdini. With a handsome physical production, Ford mounts an impressive sleight-of-hand, diverting prying eyes by throwing everything at the audience he can think of, anything to stay away from the actual story, which Ford doesn't want to get close enough to smell.

The nominal plot has stout-hearted Colonel Loring Leigh (C. Aubrey Smith -- who else?) kicked out of the Lancers for signing an order allowing a shipment guns to find their way into the hands of a band of Indian rebels, who end up massacring 90 men at one of those Indian passes so famous in '30s movie adventure yarns. Colonel Leigh is drummed out of the army but knows he's been set up and his signature forged. Returning to England he summons his four sons -- dim bulb Oxford student Rodney (William Henry), pompous barrister Wyatt (George Sanders), shallow ladies man/aviator Chris (David Niven), and stuffy British attache Geoffrey (Richard Greene) -- in order to show them the evidence proving he was framed by an international gun cartel. He doesn't get that far. While the boys are sipping bitters in the ante room, Colonel Leigh is shot dead in his study and the evidence removed. The press claims Leigh committed suicide from his disgrace, but the boys know better and set about to find his killer and clear his name.

Continue reading: Four Men And A Prayer Review

A Matter Of Life And Death Review


Excellent
When a modern viewer considers the work of Michael Powell -- whose perverse Peeping Tom is a cult classic -- a tender love story that defies death -- yes, a little like Ghost -- is not something that typically comes to mind.

Yes, sure, Powell (and frequent collaborator Emeric Pressburger) made family fare like The Red Shoes, but A Matter of Life and Death (often known by its alternate title, Stairway to Heaven) is something entirely else. To wit: The story involves a British airman named Peter (David Niven), who is on the verge of crashing his plane during his World War II mission, and spends his last moments before bailing out speaking over the radio to American wireless operator June (Kim Hunter), with whom he makes a special connection. Peter jumps before crashing, but is surprised to find himself washing up ashore, fully intact. And wouldn't you know it, he soon encounters June, and the two are immediately in love.

Continue reading: A Matter Of Life And Death Review

The Pink Panther (1963) Review


Very Good
Not the best film in the Pink Panther collection, this introduction to Peter Sellers' bumbling Inspector Clouseau (Peter Sellers) is still a must-see. In this film, Clouseau is in a lush ski resort and vaguely on the trail of a jewel thief who's out to steal this "Pink Panther" from a vacationing princess (the ridiculously sexy Claudia Cardinale). David Niven and Robert Wagner make somewhat less of an impression -- and I'll try not to spoil anything by mentioning how their roles interact here -- but on the whole Panther is good and messy fun.

The Prisoner Of Zenda Review


Good
This "classic" swashbuckling flick is really showing its age, though the story -- a kidnapped king needs a lookalike replacement -- is certainly timeless. Ronald Colman, as the titular prisoner, is no Errol Flynn, but he gives it the old college try. The romance, featuring Madeleine Carroll, is a real bust.

Casino Royale (1967) Review


OK
Though great he may be, there is a limit to the amount of uninterrupted Burt Bacharach music one can endure. And sadly, that limit -- of music punctuated by kazoos, harpischords, and accordions -- is far less than 137 minutes.

There's also a limit on the length of a spy spoof one can sit through (the second Austin Powers and Richard Grieco's If Looks Could Kill being the few notable, yet guilty, exceptions). That limit tends to run about 58 minutes.

Continue reading: Casino Royale (1967) Review

The Charge Of The Light Brigade Review


OK
Dramatazation of Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem about the ill-fated Light Brigade, 600 soldiers during the Crimean War (digested version: 1854-56, England and Turkey vs. Russia, best known for the Light Brigade but most significant for the actions of nurse Florence Nightengale). While the costumes and sets are perfectly historical, the facts are hardly accurate -- the infamous charge that killed all involved was actually a goof-up courtesy of an incompetent British army, not a moment of heroism due to a Ben Affleck-ish soldier.

Continue reading: The Charge Of The Light Brigade Review

Curse Of The Pink Panther Review


Weak
Although the prior Pink Panther film, Trail of the Pink Panther, essentially had no plot, Curse of the Pink Panther picks up where it left off.

That's a tricky place to start, and it doesn't go entirely well. Finally acknowledging the death of Peter Sellers three years earlier, Curse posits that Clouseau is still missing and that, well, somebody ought to find him. Enter what the studio obvious hoped would be a replacement for Sellers, Ted Wass, playing "the world's second best detective," Sergeant Clifton Sleigh. (Of course, Wass didn't really take, the movie flopped, and that was that. Wass is now a television director, but he's best known for his work playing the dad on TV's Blossom.)

Continue reading: Curse Of The Pink Panther Review

Trail Of The Pink Panther Review


Weak
In 1980, Peter Sellers died. In 1982, Trail of the Pink Panther, with Sellers as the headliner, was released by a studio hungry to capitalize further on the popular series.

Trail certainly isn't historically unique in its use of archival footage to create a role for a passed-on movie star, but it's inarguably one of the ballsiest attempts at it. Sellers isn't some bit player (like Lawrence Olivier in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow), he's the star. He's Inspector freakin' Clouseau, and he's in more than half of the running time of the film.

Continue reading: Trail Of The Pink Panther Review

The Bishop's Wife Review


OK
The troubles that underlied this production show in the end, with a quirky and vaguely unsatisfying tale of a bishop (David Niven, not very compelling) who receives a guardian angel (Cary Grant, not very angelic) to help him sort out his life, Wonderful Life style. Still, nostalgia for the prior year's feel-goodie probably propelled Bishop's Wife to five Oscar nominations (it won for best sound), though its feel-good sentiment ends up drowning the film in saccharine.

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.
David Niven

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