Fred Guiol

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Gunga Din Review


Excellent
Modern viewers will recognize Gunga Din primarily as the film that inspired Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom -- and from which Indy borrows heavily. This heavy action/adventure offers three British soldiers (Cary Grant, Victor McLaglen, Douglas Fairbanks Jr.) on assignment in India, where they eventually face off against the evil Thuggee cult. The helpful manservant Gunga Din shadows them -- and saves the day. A little jingoistic today, the film is nonetheless a critical standard-bearer of historical adventure flicks, and a quite funny one too.

Giant Review


Good
A more apt title you won't find for a movie, as Giant's sprawling epic covers some 30 years in the life of a Texas cattle baron (Hudson), his wife (Taylor), and the upstart kid who becomes rich by discovering oil on his small plot of land (Dean). Compelling in a Gone With the Wind style, yet far too long at almost 4 hours, Giant could have stood for some quite obvious cutting. How many Christmas carols, square dances, and Texas cowboy shanties can one man take?

Regardless, James Dean (in one of only three roles on film) makes quite an impression, and Taylor reminds us why we ever liked her to begin with. The cinematography is equally Giant as well -- showing off the dusty nothing of central Texas, long low plains with brush and low hills in the distant background. George Stevens (Shane) has always had a knack for landscapes, and he's at the top of his game here. On the new DVD (two restored discs, one of which is double-sided), Stevens' son asks us to reconsider the film and enjoy it one again, 45 years after the making. In a commentary track with critic Stephen Farmber and writer Ivan Moffat, he reflects on his departed father and the trio reflect on Giant's legacy. That second disc has all the usual retrospectives and testimonials we've come to expect.

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