James Donald

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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.

Lust For Life Review


Good
Workmanlike and dutifully impressed with everything about Vincent Van Gogh, Vincente Minelli's Lust for Life is really more a Lust for Kirk Douglas, with Kirk trying his best to embody the tortured painter. Much is made of the whole ear-lopping incident along with Van Gogh's friendship with Gauguin, but Lust comes off too much like a linear history and less a movie full of character and mystique. It's all very pretty for a 1950s production, but little of it bears the energy it promises in its title.
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