James Poe

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They Shoot Horses, Don't They? Review


Excellent
I didn't get what all the fuss was over. Dance marathons? A couple of hours of the charleston and eventually everyone quits, right?

Wrong. They Shoot Horses, Don't They? is set in the real dance marathon world of the Great Depression, when people were willing to do anything for a buck. Even if that means staying on your feet for 1,200 hours or more, with a few rest periods along the way. That's nearly two months. Dancing.

Continue reading: They Shoot Horses, Don't They? Review

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.

Around The World In Eighty Days (1956) Review


Excellent
I love movies based on bets: Around the World in 80 Days is a three-hour adventure, packed with celebrity cameos (hundreds of 'em, literally), and bearing a remarkably descriptive title. This celebrated picture gives us David Niven as the inimitable Phileas Fogg, an English gentleman who accepts a wager that bets he can't travel around the world in 80 days. Setting off by balloon, ship, and train, Fogg's travels (with manservant Passepartout (Cantinflas)) takes him on a journey that was truly epic for its era. Still, it doesn't look like he's going to make it at first: one hour into the movie, he's still in Spain, at one of the longest and least interesting bullfights put on film. The cast of thousands and absurb scenarios overcomes the overlong oddities in the movie: Producer Michael Todd won the Best Picture Oscar for this, his first feature film, before dying in a plane crash two years later. Too bad so many of the stars appearing in the film are unrecognizable by today's audiences.

Lilies Of The Field Review


Excellent
Sidney Poitier eats his fair share of scenery in Lilies of the Field, but the man won an Oscar for doing it, so it's hard to complain too strenuously. Poitier plays a wandering construction worker who picks up odd jobs here and there, only to get reluctantly sucked in to building a chapel for a group of German nuns. Their culture clash comprises both the film's lighter and more serious moments, with Poitier's simple, personal struggle over whether to leave or to stay and finish the job giving this small film a backbone of importance.
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