Judith Anderson

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The Ten Commandments Review


Excellent
It takes something special for a motion picture to enter the Biblical canon. But ask any Christian what happened to Moses before age 30, and they'll likely relate to you the plotline of Cecil B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments.

Surprise! As DeMille himself tells us in a (somewhat silly) opening narration -- where he comes out from behind a curtain and addresses the audience -- the Bible skips Moses' formative years altogether. One minute, as a baby he's fished out of the Nile by Pharoah's daughter, the next he's banished to the desert for killing an Egyptian who is beating a Hebrew man. There's certainly no talk of Moses' rise to power under Pharoah -- which comprises the first two hours of this nearly four-hour film. In DeMille's rendition (based, he says, on the works of ancient scholars), Moses (Charleton Heston, in the role that would define his career) toils under Pharoah (Cedric Hardwicke) as his adopted grandson, working hard building a treasure city for his glory. His rival is Pharoah's son Rameses (Yul Brynner), who isn't only also up for the future job of Pharoah, he's also competing for the hand of Nefretiri (All About Eve's title character Anne Baxter).

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A Man Called Horse Review


Excellent
Often (and rightly) noted as the predecessor to Dances with Wolves, A Man Called Horse offers a brave an unique performance by Richard Harris as a genteel aristocrat who's captured by the Sioux in 1825. First he's dragged through the land and treated like a dog, eventually he rises in rank to become their chief. The film's look, psychedelic editing, and lack of majestic scoring date it considerably, but Harris's harrowing performance (most notably his suspension in the air by blades stuck in his chest -- a ceremony called The Vow to the Sun, which looks impossibly real on screen here) is unforgettable. The film spawned two ill-regarded sequels in 1976 and 1982.

Laura Review


Very Good
Gene Tierney stars as the woman whose murder everyone wants solved, while question after question keeps popping up (in 85 spare minutes). With a stellar cast and a laser-guided plot, Laura stands as a classic thriller/whodunit of the 1940s. Unfortunately, it remains solidly in the past, as implausible and as dated as any WWII propaganda reel. When was the last time a detective let a writer tag along on his murder investigation interviews? I'd guess it was probably right about the time of Laura.

The Strange Love Of Martha Ivers Review


Very Good
Whisper her name!

Thus read the ads for the original 1946 release of the classic, under-appreciated film noir The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, and although the tagline refers to the character, the name that the title brings to mind is that of star Barbara Stanwyck. As Martha, Stanwyck plays a woman with a secret, living in the kind of anywhere-in-America town that film noir sketched so indelibly on the big screen, a town where everything would seem peaceful to a stranger, but the locals know that intrigue simmers just out of sight. If you have to talk about Martha - a woman who's not only notorious but powerful as well - it probably is best to lower your voice. In a town this size, word gets around.

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Judith Anderson

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