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Patton Review


Very Good
In one of the most iconic images in film history, an imperious general festooned with stars, ivory-handled revolvers, and colorful medals, strides onto a stage in front of an immense American flag (a small figure dwarfed by the patriotic propulsive force of the 70mm red, white, and blue) and addresses the troops before they head off to war, exhorting them to blood lust by remarking, "Now I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country; he won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country." By the end of his speech, which is by turns anti-establishment and fascist, George C. Scott playing General George S. Patton Jr., in a performance of fiery passion, majesty, and Shakespearean intensity, ends up dwarfing the flag as he withdraws from the stage, pulling the audience with him. We know what to do.

Patton follows the colorful general through World War II from being brought in as a "tank man" by General Omar Bradley (Karl Malden) after the humiliating American disaster at Kasserine Pass to becoming the American command's unchained pit bull as the brazen general barrels his way through El Gitar and Sicily. Then, after Patton's infamous slapping incident, he becomes a decoy man to fool the German high command as the Allies prepare to invade Europe. It all culminates with Patton's command of the Third Army and his army's brilliant race through Germany to end the European war.

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12 Angry Men Review


Essential
Who would have thought that a movie which almost entirely takes place in one room, consists of 12 men who do nothing but talk -- and who don't even have names -- would be such a searing experience? 12 Angry Men is a classic, and an undisputed one at that, a film that is as inspiring as it is well-crafted behind the scenes.

The story is a simple one: 12 jurors are asked to decide the fate of a young man who is accused of killing his father. If guilty, he will be sentenced to the electric chair. Otherwise he goes free. The evidence is overwhelmingly against him: Two eyewitnesses, a murder weapon known to be bought by the killer, and an alibi that he couldn't remember during questioning. Open and shut, but one juror stands alone against the other 11, who'd like to get home in time for dinner. And with that single "not guilty" vote, Henry Fonda's Juror #8 sets off the titular anger.

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Fail-Safe (1964) Review


Extraordinary
An underseen classic, Fail-Safe is based on a very similar story (though not the same book) as filmcritic.com's #1 movie, Dr. Strangelove. (In fact, Kubrick sued Sidney Lumet and co. over the similarities between the films, before either ever came out.) But Fail-Safe plays it straight, to equally powerful effect: An accident sends a bombing team on its way to Moscow, and the U.S. wrestles with what to do when it can't be recalled. Walter Matthau is a scene stealer, playing a rare serious role as a civilian advisor to the Pentagon who advocates all-out war. Jaw-dropping and tense, despite some rough production values.

Judgment At Nuremberg Review


Excellent
In the grand tradition of courtroom dramas, Judgment at Nuremberg has the distinction of being probably the most "important" of them all -- even if it's not the most blatantly entertaining.

The three-hour film concerns the trial of four Nazi-era German judges accused of killing millions as part of the regime. The trial circumstances are tricky: The four accused didn't pull any triggers, nor were they in the upper echelons of power. They were middlemen, just signing off on the whims of Hitler. How guilty are they of murder? And so it is that American Judge Dan Hawood is flown in to lead a tribunal to determine their fate.

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Night Moves Review


Weak
Hey, I loved Chinatown too. A year after Roman Polanski made his masterpiece, Arthur Penn came along and shat out this dreck in a sad attempt to quickly knock off what made Chinatown great.

We pick up the story with Los Angeles detective Harry Moseby (Gene Hackman), a P.I. who's hired by a wealthy woman to track down her runaway daughter (Melanie Griffith in her first speaking part and already taking off her clothes), who's run off to the Florida Keys. Almost at random, a secondary plot develops, involving a murderous movie stunt coordinator. Meanwhile, Harry's wife is cheating on him, and Harry confronts the guy on at least two different occasions.

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The Americanization Of Emily Review


Good
Arthur HIller directed this oddball black comedy (script courtesy of the masterful Paddy Chayefsky), which turns out to have little to do with Emily (Julie Andrews) at all. Rather, the film captures a quirky navy admiral who's intent on having the first casualty at Omaha Beach be a sailor -- and he wants to capture it on film. Lt. Commander James Garner doesn't want to go, and all manner of hijinks ensue. James Coburn steals the show, and rescues it from dated, overblown oblivion.
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There's already an Oscars buzz surrounding this movie.

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