Jerry Orbach

Jerry Orbach

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Prince of the City Review


OK
Before there was The Departed, before there was Donnie Brasco, there was this tale of cop corruption and undercover work, directed by a down-the-rabbit-hole Sidney Lumet. Based on a true story, Prince features a rather bland Treat Williams as Danny Ciello, who goes undercover to expose corruption in (where else) the NYPD. Naturally, he soon learns that just about everyone is on the take, including his own partners. Eventually, Ciello himself becomes suspect for his prior drug use. The film starts off strong as Ciello starts delving into the underworld of corrupt cops, but eventually starts to repeat itself and bog down as it hits its third hour. Fortunately, numerous supporting stars keep it largely worth watching.

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The Sentinel (1977) Review


Good
Next time you rent an apartment, you might check to make sure it's not the doorway to hell before you sign the lease. Alison (Cristina Raines, who vanished from the Hollywood scene in 1987) is a suicidal model who figures this old and roomy place will offer a respite from her rough life. When she complains about the weird and loud neighbors (including an unforgettable and deliciously nasty Beverly D'Angelo, who rubs her crotch to, er, completion when Alison is over for coffee), it turns out no one else lives there. Is it a hallucination or demons? Either way, this is one hell of a sick little horror flick. Watching for stars then and now to make their appearances can alone make the film worthwhile.

The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight Review


Terrible
As much as I like Hervé Villechaize, it's pretty impossible to like much about The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight, a mob slapstick comedy that features Tattoo is one of a bunch of hapless thugs who want to get rid of the local heavy (Lionel Stander) so they can take over in his stead. Too bad the crew, you know, can't shoot straight... and though they try endlessly to get rid of him, they just can't manage to do it.

That's pretty much the story, with rising star Robert De Niro strangely inserted into the movie to take advantage of his upcoming celebrity (he's a bicycle racer that falls for the gang leader's (Jerry Orbach) kid sister (Leigh Taylor-Young, completely lost here). The bulk of the film has Orbach and co. scheming endlessly to off Stander's Baccala, and over and over it fails to amuse us, even when a live lion is thrown into the mix. That's the film. If it weren't for Villechaize, there'd be nary a laugh in the whole movie, and even that kind of comedy is hardly highbrow.

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The Sentinel Review


Good
Next time you rent an apartment, you might check to make sure it's not the doorway to hell before you sign the lease. Alison (Cristina Raines, who vanished from the Hollywood scene in 1987) is a suicidal model who figures this old and roomy place will offer a respite from her rough life. When she complains about the weird and loud neighbors (including an unforgettable and deliciously nasty Beverly D'Angelo, who rubs her crotch to, er, completion when Alison is over for coffee), it turns out no one else lives there. Is it a hallucination or demons? Either way, this is one hell of a sick little horror flick. Watching for stars then and now to make their appearances can alone make the film worthwhile.

Last Exit to Brooklyn Review


OK
A little meandering, a little lost, and a lot grim, Uli Edel's cult classic tells a handful of stories against the backdrop of World War II and massive corruption in New York City. The centerpiece of the story is a hooker/conwoman (Jennifer Jason Leigh in an infamous role) who falls in love with one of her customers, an army guy who's about to ship out. Her personal struggle with detachment and her horrific past (and inevitable future) make the rest of the film -- which features rioting and a somewhat out of place vignette about one character's hidden homosexuality -- fade away.

Dirty Dancing Review


Excellent
Dirty Dancing's initial success in 1987 was probably a mixture of factors -- Patrick Swayze's anointment as a sensitive hunk, the fact that the movie's sweetness was a change of pace from the loud, expensive blockbusters that dominated the landscape at the time and a pop soundtrack of golden oldies and then-current songs that flooded radio stations.

However, after watching the movie recently, the key to the movie's limitless charm is revealed to be due to the presence of Jennifer Grey. Without her performance, the movie is a flop, Bill Medley isn't cool again and, well, Swayze and Grey drift into irrelevance a year or two earlier.

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Broadway: The Golden Age, By The Legends Who Were There Review


OK
Self-indulgent to a fault and brusquely shoved together without much of a sense of rhythm, Broadway: The Golden Age is on the surface the five-year-long quest by filmmaker Rick McKay (Elaine Stritch at Liberty) to interview pretty much every Broadway luminary he could get his hands on, all for the purposes of limning the glory that was Broadway's "Golden Age." Now it's no surprise that you interview a bunch of aging actors/actresses who are in this particular demographic they're going to tell you that things today are rather awful, and in their day, were much, much better. What makes Broadway as engaging as it is would be the fact that McKay's interviewees are able to back up those claims with some rather illuminating anecdotes - and not just all of the "you could go to the automat and get a muffin and coffee for 15 cents" variety, though there's plenty of that as well.

Although McKay - whose irritating narration, the usual guff about moving to New York from Indiana and just how exciting it all was, brackets the film - never really posits what exactly he's on about with "The Golden Age," two things quickly become clear: The time period he and his subjects want to talk about is Broadway theater from the 1930s to the 1950s, and that period really would have been something to behold. The cavalcade of interviewees all point to not just the embarrassment of riches that were around then in terms of both the material (Lerner & Lowe and Rodgers & Hammerstein were like musical hit factories, not to mention the new dramatic work being produced by the likes of Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller) and the talent, but another very simple factor: It was cheap. In a time of $480 The Producers tickets, it's partially nice but mostly infuriating to know that not so long ago it could cost less to go to a Broadway show than the movies.

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Brewster's Millions Review


OK
A guilty pleasure from my childhood, Brewster's Millions is based on an ancient novel. In fact, it's at least the fifth adaptation of the old novel by the same name -- only the spending money is more and more each time.

What money is that? Oh, just $30 million, left to Montgomery Brewster (Richard Pryor) by his sole relative. The catch? The real inheritance is $300 million -- and if Monty wants it, he has to spend the $30 million in 30 days, and at the end of that time he can't have any assets to show for it. Oh, and he can't tell anyone what's going on, either.

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Beauty And The Beast (1991) Review


Good
Often considered the best animated film ever -- and the only one to ever be nominated for Best Picture -- on a return viewing ten years later, Beauty and the Beast doesn't seem to be quite the masterpiece we once thought.

Though it's still good, pop this Special Edition DVD into your player and you're instantly greeted with a crash of noise. Beauty lets you know right from the start that it is not a subtle film, full of bluster and fire and singing and talking everything. (And everything talking at the top of its lungs.)

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Crimes And Misdemeanors Review


Essential
After Annie Hall, this is categorically Woody Allen's best film. A great ensemble production, Allen's primary tack follows a successful opthamologist (Martin Landau, perfectly cast), who reluctantly decides to murder his mistress when she threatens to blow the whistle to his wife. A parallel story follows a putz documentarian (Allen), who is roped into making a documentary about a boorish sitcom producer (Alan Alda). In the end, everybody loses, but Allen's neurotic outlook on life has never been presented with more clarity.
Jerry Orbach

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