Karl Malden

Karl Malden

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Patton Review


Very Good
In one of the most iconic images in film history, an imperious general festooned with stars, ivory-handled revolvers, and colorful medals, strides onto a stage in front of an immense American flag (a small figure dwarfed by the patriotic propulsive force of the 70mm red, white, and blue) and addresses the troops before they head off to war, exhorting them to blood lust by remarking, "Now I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country; he won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country." By the end of his speech, which is by turns anti-establishment and fascist, George C. Scott playing General George S. Patton Jr., in a performance of fiery passion, majesty, and Shakespearean intensity, ends up dwarfing the flag as he withdraws from the stage, pulling the audience with him. We know what to do.

Patton follows the colorful general through World War II from being brought in as a "tank man" by General Omar Bradley (Karl Malden) after the humiliating American disaster at Kasserine Pass to becoming the American command's unchained pit bull as the brazen general barrels his way through El Gitar and Sicily. Then, after Patton's infamous slapping incident, he becomes a decoy man to fool the German high command as the Allies prepare to invade Europe. It all culminates with Patton's command of the Third Army and his army's brilliant race through Germany to end the European war.

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A Streetcar Named Desire Review


Excellent
Stella! Stella!

Oh, Stella. What have you gotten yourself into, marrying a drunken boor and living in a squalid flat in New Orleans?

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Baby Doll Review


Very Good
The first shot of Baby Doll slaps you in the face with the promise of something unique and the assurance that you're about to watch a real Tennessee Williams production. That shot is of Carroll Baker, lolling on a child's bed with her thumb in her mouth. When we see Karl Malden leering at her through a peephole, we assume he's the local pervert. He turns out to be her husband. And that's the source of all the film's sexual tension.

Baby Doll (as she's known) turns out to be a virgin, and Malden's Archie is due to change that on her 20th birthday, which is set to occur in two days. But things take a strange turn when one of Archie's competitors, Silva (Eli Wallach) -- both men are cotton gin owner/operators -- accuses Archie of burning down his gin. As payback, Silva figures he'll take the only thing of value that Archie has: His wife... if you could call her that.

Continue reading: Baby Doll Review

A Streetcar Named Desire Review


Excellent
Stella! Stella!

Oh, Stella. What have you gotten yourself into, marrying a drunken boor and living in a squalid flat in New Orleans?

Continue reading: A Streetcar Named Desire Review

The Cat O' Nine Tails Review


Good
One of Dario Argento's better horror flicks -- helped amiably by Karl Malden as a blind crossword puzzle creator who, with the help of a local reporter, stumbles into a murder mystery, replete with creepy, dubbed Italians. Ultimately, Malden ends up in a supporting role, but the lively story, impressive close-up gore sequences (watch early on as a train runs down one poor sap), and at least moderately interesting twists make it worthwhile.

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Dead Ringer Review


Very Good
1964's Dead Ringer is the middle film in Bette Davis's personal trilogy of tacky terror, falling between the unforgettable What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? and the slightly more forgettable but still tacky and terrifying Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte. It almost seems as if Davis was trying to keep up with Joan Crawford, her archenemy and Baby Jane co-star, whose axe-murderess epic Strait-Jacket came out the same year. It's safe to say that 1964 was a weird year down at the Bijou.

Dead Ringer is a classic good twin/bad twin murder mystery and identity swap that will keep you on your toes. Davis, directed her by her Now, Voyager co-star Paul Henreid, plays the twins: Edie Phillips, the down-on-her-luck twin who runs a seedy bar in downtown L.A., and Margaret Phillips DeLorca, the just-widowed wife of an outrageously rich Spanish nobleman who lives in an enormous mansion decorated to look like a 17th-century Andalusian monastery. It's ookey and it's spooky.

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Pollyanna Review


Weak
I've long heard and even used the term "Pollyanna" to reflect a relentlessly (and even inappropriately) happy person, movie, or story -- but I've never had the context.

Disney's Pollyanna is everything its name would imply, the story of an orphan (Hayley Mills) sent to live with her stern aunt (Jane Wyman) in a small town. Along the way, she cheers up everyone's lives, and Pollyanna's naive lessons on life change everyone, presumably for the better.

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I Confess Review


Good
Montgomery Clift's staid performance is arguably the best thing about I Confess, a minor work in Hitchcock's canon, and that isn't saying much. Here Clift plays a quiet priest with a dilemma: He's been the recipient of a murderer's confession, and now he himself is suspected of the crime.

Does Clift confess or does he maintain his vow of silence with respect to confessions of his parishioners? This issue has been studied at length in the Law & Orders of the world, and they all end the same: Priest/lawyer/psychiatrist keeps the vow of silence until the very end, when the accused either comes forward and confesses or is convicted by some other means at the very last second.

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One-Eyed Jacks Review


Weak
Marlon Brando proved he wasn't cut out for westerns with this, one of his few stabs at the genre.One-Eyed Jacks is a long, meandering, and poorly constructed film that has faded even further since its release -- none of which is terribly surprising, as this was Brando's sole attempt at directing a film. The plot concerns a criminal (Brando) who falls in love with a Mexican girl, among other misadventures. Unfortunarely, the slick-haired Brando doesn't come close to looking the part, and the movie's randomness quickly becomes a major turnoff. Note that many current-era DVDs are extremely badly mastered, with atrocious video and audio that comes primarily out of the rear speakers.

The Cincinnati Kid Review


Extraordinary
A fairly obvious attempt to make The Hustler of poker, with Steve McQueen playing the role of Fast Eddie (McQueen and Newman were rival screen heroes at the time). The Cincinnati Kid artistically falls just short of that standard -- the characters are not as fully developed as in The Hustler -- but it's just as much fun, and one of McQueen's best films.

McQueen is the Kid, a young card player who believes he is the best in the country. Edward G. Robinson is the Man, the aging veteran that McQueen must knock off his pedestal. McQueen is cocky, confident, appealing, and fundamentally decent; Robinson is complex and opaque, with one of the greatest poker faces in cinema. The inevitable showdown between the two is a battle of wills and nerve which lasts a night, most of the next day and another night.

Continue reading: The Cincinnati Kid Review

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