Glynis Johns

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The Sundowners Review


Good
Deborah Kerr as Ida Carmody, an indomitable stick in the Australian outback, makes an impassioned plea for women living a nomadic existence in that spare country down under to the unhappy Jean Halstead (Dina Merrill), "This is good country for sheep and it's not bad for men. But it's hard on us women. The men come here because of the sheep and we come here because of the men and most of us finish up looking like the sheep -- wrinkled faces, knotty hair, not even much of our own minds." Jean replies, "I think you'll always have a mind of your own, Mrs. Carmody." She ain't kidding. Ida has to hold her own against her beer- and gambling-loving husband Paddy (Robert Mitchum), who as a sheep drover in 1920s Australia, keeps his family -- Ida and their teenage son Sean (Michael Anderson Jr.) -- moving with the sheep. Paddy is happy not being tied down, but Ida and Sean want a place to settle down and convince Paddy to take a job as a sheep-shearer in order to make a down payment on a farm. Paddy doesn't realize it though, and the struggle between Paddy, who wants to be free, and Ida, who wants a home, is the slender thread that ties Fred Zinnemann's The Sundowners together.

The Sundowners is a pleasant and happy film, marked by wonderful set pieces (a tremendous brush fire sequence, a sheep-shearing contest, a gambling scene, a tavern brawl) all set to a jaunty Dimitri Tiomkin score.

Continue reading: The Sundowners Review

49th Parallel Review


Good
A contingent of Nazi naval officers are stranded on the Canadian mainland after their U-boat, on the prowl in Hudson Bay, is destroyed. They resolve to trek across Canada, then either cross the border to still-neutral U.S.A. or find passage on a non-Allied boat back to the Fatherland. Director Michael Powell stages their odyssey as a series of politically charged set-pieces as the disdainful Nazis find their beliefs tested by a cross-section of Canadian clichés, from French-Canadian trappers (among whom is Laurence Olivier attempting a dead-on imitation of Pepe Le Pew), Native Americans, and Eskimos to a WASP-y outdoorsman (Leslie Howard), ordinary Joe's, and the members of a religious commune. Leading the goose-steppers is Lieutenant Hirth (Eric Portman), maniacally loyal to his Führer and whose sneer can't be anything but villainous.

The title of Michael Powell's WWII propaganda actioner refers to the boundary separating the United States and Canada. A suitably righteous narrator tells us it's the world's only undefended national border and, as such, befits the values of peace and democracy shared by the two countries. 49th Parallel isn't a strident call to arms meant to guilt-trip Americans into re-thinking their neutrality, but rather a tribute to the Canadian (and to all free-thinking) people who were already involved in the anti-Nazi effort. By praising democratic values and warning of the Nazi threat looming over the free world, 49th Parallel was director Michael Powell's roundabout exhortation to the American people to join the good fight.

Continue reading: 49th Parallel Review

The Court Jester Review


Very Good
Pleasant, though not particularly challenging, The Court Jester deconstructs and spoofs the swashbuckler movie with Danny Kaye as a hapless Robin Hood wannabe who stumbles his way into the court of the usurper of the crown. The film has a few classic moments, namely the famous, slapstick bit which begins, "The pellet with the poison is in the vessel with the pestle." Ah, what a knave...

Superstar Review


Good
It's time to see some new female faces in comedy. Sure there are lots of women comedians, but who else can successfully headline a big-time film other than Janeane Garofalo these days? I won't believe for a second that the talent is not out there. I just think some stereotypes need to be broken down first.

That's why Superstar, starring Molly Shannon, is a breath of fresh air. It's the first film in a long while to give a woman the freedom to "get jiggy" with all-out Jim Carrey-esque full body humor.

Continue reading: Superstar Review

While You Were Sleeping Review


Weak
In case you aren't already prepared, brace yourself for a literal onslaught of summer movie romances. While You Were Sleeping is one of 1995's early entries. It certainly isn't going to be the best.

As heavily promoted as it's been, you should know the plot by know. Sandra Bullock is Lucy, a goofy, salt-of-the-earth Chicago Transit Authority toll booth attendant who falls in love (at first sight) with Peter (Peter Gallagher), a yuppie lawyer. Almost immediately after Lucy swoons, Peter gets pushed onto the train tracks, whereupon Lucy comes to the rescue. Then the obligatory "misunderstanding" occurs: Peter's concerned parents think Lucy is Peter's fiancee, pulling Lucy into the family as a new member. But when Peter's brother Jack (Bill Pullman) arrives on the scene, Lucy and Jack begin to fall in love and, well...you get the picture.

Continue reading: While You Were Sleeping Review

Mary Poppins Review


Excellent
Parents, you have a responsibility. Your kids should not know Julie Andrews just from the two Princess Diaries movies. Luckily, you have an opportunity since Mary Poppins, the movie that landed Andrews an Oscar and made her a star 40 years ago, has just been released on DVD for its 40th anniversary.

Andrews is just perfect in the title role, a mystical nanny who literally falls from the London sky and into the lives of two lonely children in 1910. The kids desperately need some kind of attention. Their father (David Tomlinson) is a workaholic, brown-nosing banker, who treats his kids as two obstacles in keeping an orderly home. Mom (Glynis Johns) is no better, a dingbat who prefers supporting social causes to spending time with her kids. Funny how little things have changed, huh?

Continue reading: Mary Poppins Review

Superstar Review


Weak

The most palatable entry since "Wayne's World" in the seemingly unstoppable onslaught of "Saturday Night Live" sketches turned into feature films, "Superstar" is genuinely funny, for a change.

This time the beaten-to-death, three-minute bit stretched to movie length is about "SNL"-er Molly Shannon's terminally dorky catholic school girl Mary Katherine Gallagher, who is desperate for her first kiss and determined to break into showbiz through performing in the campus "Stamp Out Venereal Disease" talent show.

Dumb? Naturally. But director Bruce McCulloch ("Dog Park") -- an alumnus of the Canadian sketch show "Kids In the Hall" -- gives "Superstar" a different comedic sensibility than "A Night at the Roxbury," "Coneheads," and the rest of the "SNL" big screen tripe.

Continue reading: Superstar Review

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Superstar Movie Review

Superstar Movie Review

The most palatable entry since "Wayne's World" in the seemingly unstoppable onslaught of "Saturday Night...

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