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The Ruling Class Review


Good
Too long, too willfully oddball, too full of obvious critiques of the British upper crust, Peter Medak's 1972 film The Ruling Class is still fairly enjoyable as a showcase for Peter O'Toole. As Jack Gurney, the heir to an earldom, he completely throws himself into the role of a man gone completely mad; convinced he's God, he sleeps on a crucifix, wears his hair at a Christlike length, and make loud and unhinged proclamations about the state of the universe. Jack's mental state troubles his uncle, Sir Charles Gurney (William Mervyn), but only because he's angry that the previous earl left him out of the will, and he plots to have Jack cured, or at least to hook him up with his mistress, Grace (Carolyn Seymour), in the hopes of producing a sane heir.

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The Bridge On The River Kwai Review


Extraordinary
Oddly enough, it's hardly about a bridge at all. And though the building of a magnificent wooden bridge -- by British and other Allied soldiers being held by the Japanese as prisoners of war -- has a supporting role, Alec Guinness won his only non-honorary Oscar for this film (did you know he'd be nominated for writing the following year?), and boy is it deserved. As the British colonel who protects his troops against overwhelming oppression by the Japanese -- then happily agrees to build them a monumental bridge, oblivious to the fact that it will greatly aid the Japanese war machine. His look of horror and sudden understanding, when the bridge comes crashing down, courtesy of Allied commandos, is worth the little statuette alone.

Zulu Review


Good
Faced with 4,000 Zulu soldiers, 139 British troops managed to fend off the natives, holed up in a small thatched-roof hut with a little fence. It helps that they were armed to the teeth while most of the Zulu just had spears and shields -- and that the Zulus didn't even do much with those spears, preferring instead to run up to the fence, wave their weapons, yell, then retreat. Whether you find this racist and jingoistic or a dead-on accurate portrayal of a real battle that occurred in 1879 (in many ways, the British version of the Alamo) probably depends on your heritage and your opinion of British imperialism. As for the movie, though, there's an awful lot of lounging around in the hut and a lot of buildup to the battle itself, which doesn't get underway for more than half the film.

Lawrence Of Arabia Review


Essential
Being the self-proclaimed professional film critic that I am, I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that I had not seen Lawrence of Arabia (just out in a special DVD edition) until only recently. After all, it's considered by just about everyone to be the masterpiece epic of director David Lean, who also directed films such as Bridge on the River Kwai, and Doctor Zhivago. So one day, a friend of mine loaned me a copy of the video and I sat down and watched it. I was initially skeptical that something made almost 40 years ago would be able to keep my attention for the butt-numbing 3 1/2 hours of its duration. But now I fully understand why this has become the film that other epic films are judged against -- the winner of seven Academy Awards in 1963 for Best Picture, Director, Editing, Cinematography, Art Direction, Music, and Sound. After watching the film again, I am convinced that it is simply one of the finest works of cinematic genius to ever illuminate the big screen.

Based on the autobiographical writing of British officer T.E. Lawrence during World War I, Lawrence of Arabia depicts Lawrence (played by then-unknown actor Peter O'Toole) as a lieutenant lacking any sort of military discipline whatsoever. Bored with his assignment of coloring maps for the British Army in a dimly lit headquarters building, Lawrence jumps at the opportunity to be re-assigned as an observer for an Arabian prince fighting against the Turkish army. Lawrence quickly sees just how caring and great these desert dwelling people can be and ends up rallying the various tribes together to fight the Turks and help the British turn the tide of World War I.

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Ben-Hur Review


Excellent
To hell with Gladiator.

Scratch that. Ben-Hur is no stupid gladiator movie. As the title sequence tells us, this is "A Tale of the Christ," an unabashed religious fable, albeit one that only shows its hero from the back.

Continue reading: Ben-Hur Review

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Jack Hawkins Movies

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Lawrence of Arabia Movie Review

Lawrence of Arabia Movie Review

Being the self-proclaimed professional film critic that I am, I am somewhat embarrassed to admit...

Ben-Hur Movie Review

Ben-Hur Movie Review

To hell with Gladiator.Scratch that. Ben-Hur is no stupid gladiator movie. As the title...

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