John Woolf

John Woolf

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The Odessa File Review


OK
Here's a long way to go for nothing in the way of payoff: Jon Voight stars as a European journalist who masquerades as a former Nazi in postwar Germany in order to infiltrate a gang of ex-SS members intent on launching a Fourth Reich. Unfortunately, this ends up being mostly a series of mano-a-mano confrontations behind closed doors, with the "revelations" reaching absurd level by the end.

Room At The Top Review


Extraordinary
Watch a scene at random from Room at the Top and you might think you've stumbled upon a garden-variety romance, what with its parlor-room confessions of love and lingering cigarette breaks. But give it a minute or two, waiting for Laurence Harvey (our favorite Manchurian assassin) to get his groove on and you'll realize what a monstrous film this truly is. Harvey plays a middle-class accountant(!) who decides there is "room at the top" for even him -- and so he sets about wooing the local business leader's daughter. Meanwhile, he's also having his way with a considerably older woman (Simone Signoret, who won an Oscar for her role) on the side. Creepy, perverse, and inimitable, this film has withstood 45 years of changing social values and will easily take another 45 more. For 1959, this film was decades ahead of its time and deserves a much wider audience than it ever received back then. Seek it out; you won't be disappointed.

Oliver! Review


Excellent
1968's Best Picture winner is an epic musical familiar to all of us -- even if you haven't actually seen it. "Food, Glorious Food!"... "Consider Yourself"... these are songs that have entered into the collective consciousness of filmgoers everywhere. And there's "Please sir, I want some more," one of cinema's most famous lines of dialogue. Young Oliver (Mark Lester) is an orphan who trades his slave-like conditions in the orphanage for questionably worse, as he becomes a member of a gang of child pickpockets under the leadership of kindly old Fagin (Ron Moody, unforgettable here) and the evil Bill Sykes (Oliver Reed). He's rescued by wealthy foster parents, then captured again by the pickpockets... singing all the way. Memorable, and responsible for inspiring a cottage industry of ragamuffin musicals a la Newsies.

Continue reading: Oliver! Review

The Day Of The Jackal Review


Excellent
It's awfully long, but The Day of the Jackal (which inspired a remake almost 25 years later) is a terribly compelling look at the machinations of an assassin and the military/police machinations that must occur in order to apprehend him. Or, more to the point, the machinations of 1973, before the dawn of the electronic age, when hotel registration cards had to be collected by a local policeman, deposited at the station, messengered by motorbike to a city, and phoned in to HQ if a match was made. It's inefficiency that lets our British Jackal (Edward Fox) get within spitting distance of his target, Charles de Gaulle, after nearly a week of travelling across Europe with the French cops (led by Michael Lonsdale) on his tail. Delightfully intelligent and often irreverant, it's a good yarn and a good thriller to boot.
John Woolf

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