Fredric March

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Seven Days In May Review


Excellent
Classic political intrigue, with Kirk Douglas, Fredric March, and Burt Lancaster wrapped up in a plot to overthrow the president! Heavy stuff, courtesy of Rod Serling's master writing. Unfortunately, when the going gets good -- really hitting a fever pitch on day seven -- the story goes limp and the ending is a big letdown. Still, Lancaster is unparalleled in a rare bad guy role, helped amiably by a solid supporting staff. One of Frankenheimer's best works.

Alexander The Great Review


Weak
God help Oliver Stone if his upcoming Alexander is really a remake of 1956's Alexander the Great, as this film's press notes state.

Put simply, Alexander the Great is a colossal bore. Directed by Robert Rossen (The Hustler, All the King's Men), this visit to the epic well comes off far worse than contemporaries Ben-Hur and Cleopatra. What's the problem? Well, the troubles are legion. Start with Richard Burton, engaging here in the lead role of the philosopher/warrior/conquerer, but given a series of brooding sermons to deliver for well over two hours. Burton doesn't carry the movie as he absolutely has to; the result is an experience not unlike attending a late night lecture. Then there's the warfare. Those of us spoiled on modern epics like Troy will find the playful skirmishes here on the laughable side. Sure, you can stage a battle with just a couple hundred men and no special effects if you shoot it carefully, but if your warriors look tired and on the verge of striking, you won't quite get the necessary effect. My little brother and I had more authentic swordfights when we were kids, using sticks in the backyard. Pretty sad considering Alexander conquered Europe and Asia.

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The Man In The Gray Flannel Suit Review


Very Good
You've heard of "the man in the gray flannel suit." He's the workaholic office drone who commutes into the city every day and struggles wearily to climb a daunting corporate ladder while dealing with petty office politics. In The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, Gregory Peck plays Tom Rath, that quintessential '50s organization man, an archetypal tormented post-war striver and father of the baby boom who wonders if he's making the right choices... or if he has the freedom to make any choices at all in his conformist world.

A Madison Avenue advertising executive, Rath lives in a comfortable Connecticut bedroom community and commutes in and out of the city, leaving him little time for his wife Betsy (Jennifer Jones) and his funny, television-addicted kids. Betsy, who in typical '50s suburban style is deeply concerned about keeping up with the Joneses, pushes Rath to find a better job, and he agrees even as he realizes that more work and stress is not what he wants. In fact, he's heading toward what we now call a mid-life crisis, although they didn't have a word for it back then.

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Inherit The Wind Review


Excellent
Stanley Kramer produced and directed one of the masterworks of the legal drama by bringing to the screen this story of one of the landmark lawsuits of history -- the 1925 Scopes "monkey trial." The names have all been changed (unfortunately so), but that takes only a little away from the proceedings. (Odd note -- the descriptions on the cover of the new DVD release refer to the actors playing the characters by their historical names, not the character names from the movie. We'll follow suit in this review.)

And so, for the historically uninterested, we find ourselves in a small town in 1925 Tennessee, where a highschool teacher named John Scopes (Dick York) has done the unthinkable: He has brought Darwin's theory of evolution into the classroom, casting doubt upon the literal interpretation of the Bible in the process. The state arrests him, and his trial became one of the first "celebrity" lawsuits ever. The prosecution was led by Fundamentalist and three-time presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan (Fredric March). The defense (hired by the ACLU -- in the movie, by a Boston newspaper) was led by Clarence Darrow (Spencer Tracy), a wild agnostic and verteran lawyer, nearly 70 years old.

Continue reading: Inherit The Wind Review

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