James Macarthur

James Macarthur

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Swiss Family Robinson Review

This family doesn't seem very Swiss to me, and I don't think there are elephants and tigers on remote islands in the South Seas, but while Walt Disney's early Survivor experience lacks in realism, it's also not nearly as wholesome as it pretends to be.

The movie jumps right into the story, with the family's ship being chased into a storm and running aground, all but sunk. What follows is the all-too-familiar story of survival, as our castaways create a hut (treehouses in this case), attempt to kill every form of wildlife that appears even remotely threatening, and facing off against pirates, all while maintaining an appropriate level of late 1950s decorum, with nary an undone button or brooch clip.

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Battle Of The Bulge Review

This is the kind of a film around which rumors of a 212-minute print swirl, on the net, in chat rooms, and message boards. Only films that have garnered either cult or classic appeal can claim "hype" like that. No one talks about footage missing from the domestic release cut of Battlefield Earth, no one gripes about a supposed 245-minute version of The Cat in the Hat. But a quick Internet search will reveal endless web pages devoted to the missing scenes in Blade Runner, the 5-hour print of Apocalypse Now, and apparently the 212-minute cut of Battle of the Bulge. That tells you something. This 1965 war "classic" is a war film buff's The Third Man, Casablanca, or Some Like It Hot. It might not be the best WWII epic ever made (that honor, according to the same fans, is allotted to either The Longest Day, Patton, or Cross of Iron) but it is one of the most popular. Well, now we have a 170-minute cut of the film, and it's been heralded with a gorgeous DVD transfer. And you've got to wonder why.

Sure, there's a star-studded cast. Let's see, we've got: Henry Fonda, Robert Shaw, Dana Andrews, Robert Ryan, Telly Savalas, and Charles Bronson. And it is an epic. We're talking a cast of thousands with battle scene recreations that make modern warfare flicks pale in comparison. But when all the dust settles, Battle of the Bulge is a really long, really talky movie. And that's fine for history buffs, WWII film fans, and their ilk, but for the casual Friday night viewer it's a cure for insomnia.

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The Bedford Incident Review

Very Good
The Cold War was still fairly young when The Bedford Incident came out, but they already had the formula down cold. So to speak. Sidney Poitier is a reporter sent on what ought to be a routine job -- to cover a practice sail of a destroyer called the USS Bedford. But when the sadistic captain (Richard Widmark) discovers a Soviet sub -- maybe -- lurking off the coast, a game of cat and mouse ensues, with Poitier capturing it all for the papers. The ending is a real piece of work that comes out of nowhere, and even though the film is a little repetitive up to that point, it's all worth it for the titular "incident" in the end.
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