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Road To Rio Review


Very Good
In Road to Rio, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, and Dorothy Lamour appear in their fifth "Road" picture with Road to Rio closing out the 1940s and the dependable series, after which there were only a few minor flare-ups in the next 15 years (Road to Bali in 1952 and the final Road to Hong Kong in 1962).

Road to Rio stands apart from the other "Road" films as having the most eclectic mix of film, radio, and recording celebrities and references. Where other "Road" films concern themselves with cinematic deconstruction (Road to Utopia, Road to Bali) and others are mired in B-movie plot development (Road to Singapore, Road to Zanzibar), this "Road" proceeds more like a variety show within a flimsy extended sketch comedy framework.

Continue reading: Road To Rio Review

The Road To Rio Review


Very Good
In The Road To Rio, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, and Dorothy Lamour appear in their fifth "Road" picture with The Road To Rio closing out the 1940s and the dependable series, after which there were only a few minor flare-ups in the next 15 years (The Road To Bali in 1952 and the final The Road To Hong Kong in 1962).

The Road To Rio stands apart from the other "Road" films as having the most eclectic mix of film, radio, and recording celebrities and references. Where other "Road" films concern themselves with cinematic deconstruction (The Road To Utopia, The Road To Bali) and others are mired in B-movie plot development (The Road To Singapore, The Road To Zanzibar), this "Road" proceeds more like a variety show within a flimsy extended sketch comedy framework.

Continue reading: The Road To Rio Review

East Side, West Side Review


Weak
In the early 1930s, director Mervyn Leroy was one of the men responsible for the gritty, careening Warner Brothers house style, but by 1949, Leroy was one of main hack directors for MGM and a prime example of the staid MGM routine is on display in Leroy's prosaic staging of the cad-for-all-seasons East Side, West Side.

Barbara Stanwyck is mistreated high society wife Jessie Bourne, married to Brandon (James Mason), a well-heeled corporate lawyer who is also a regular heel, cheating on Jessie every chance he gets. As Brandon explains his philosophy to a hopeful conquest, "Just because a man has one perfect rose in his garden at home, it doesn't mean that he can't appreciate the flowers of the field." Even so, Brandon tries to "think with his head" but then Ava Gardner breezes in and all bets are off.

Continue reading: East Side, West Side Review

The Life Of Emile Zola Review


Excellent
Suprisingly strong period piece, this Oscar winner features Paul Muni as the celebrated French author and crusader Emile Zola, a man who, between writing government-bashing novels, found time to free a wrongfully convicted army officer from prison and exile -- even if he had to be convicted of libel in the process. Muni gets lost in his role and does some amazing work. The film is misleading -- the "life" of Zola is barely touched on; it's his final years and legal skirmishes that get all the screen time -- but that's a wise choice; this look at how screwed up the French legal system is can be harrowing.

The Mark Of Zorro Review


Very Good
Fun fact: The swashbuckling Zorro has been the subject of some 70 feature films. Holy rapier, hombre!

Cinema's best-known (and only, as near as I can tell) Hispanic hero came to the screen in this, one of his best-known incarnations, with Tyrone Power in the role. While the 1940 Mark of Zorro has a swooping score (nominated for an Oscar) and thrilling swordfights, it borrows much to heavily from the Robin Hood school of filmmaking. Don Diego's love affair with the beautiful Lolita (Linda Darnell) reeks of soap-level melodrama, and all too often it drags down an otherwise thrilling movie.

Continue reading: The Mark Of Zorro Review

The Return Of A Man Called Horse Review


Good
You just can't keep Horse down. Or in England. In this sequel to the jawdropping A Man Called Horse, our British-adopted Indian hero gets a pang in his heart and returns to the American Dakotas to find his former tribe besieged by the American army. The bulk of the film concerns his attempt to save them and fight back against the nearby U.S. Army fort. Sadly, none of the charm of the original (a former day Dances with Wolves that was almost entirely concerned with culture, not combat) is present in this straight-out shoot-'em-up flick. Not that it's bad, but you've seen it all before in umpteen rote westerns. Of course, in those movies the cowboys win, not the Indians...
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