Michael Medwin

Michael Medwin

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Queen of Spades Review


Excellent
Based on a short story by Pushkin, this drama has echoes of Wilde and Dickens in its tale of supernatural temptation in 19th century St Petersburg. It's also been given a lush digital restoration to show off the stunning direction and cinematography.

Herman (Walbrook) is a German captain in the Russian army who is frustrated when he loses his entire year's salary in a card game. So when he hears the legend that an ageing local countess (Evans) traded her soul for the secret for winning at cards, he plots to learn the trick. To get into her house, he woos her ward Liza (Mitchell), who is also the object of affection for another officer (Howard). And when Herman confronts the countess, her reaction is seriously haunting, in every sense of the word.

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O Lucky Man! Review


Excellent
Countless "human pinball" movies (think After Hours) owe a deep debt to O Lucky Man! Complex, fascinating, and even a bit confusing, the film is a sprawling, three-hour adventure that will quite literally have you guessing until the very end.

After an opening vignette that tells us exactly what it means to be "unlucky," we meet our "lucky" hero: Michael Travis (Malcolm McDowell) a sales trainee for a British coffee company. His first day on the job, that inimitable McDowell smile lands him an instant position in the field as a traveling sales rep serving the northeast part of England. Soon he's making sales calls and finds himself sucked into an upscale swinger's club, complete with live sex shows. Life's looking up... at least until a lost Travis stumbles upon a secret military base and is tortured as a spy... only to be saved at the last second when something unseen goes awry, causing the base to evacuate.

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A Countess From Hong Kong Review


OK
Not to be confused with The Lady from Shanghai, this is best known as Charlie Chaplin's first film shot in color (as a director), his film with the largest budget, and the last movie he both directed and appeared in (in a cameo that's easy to miss). The story is vintage Chaplin -- a wealthy Russian countess stows away on a cruise ship to escape Hong Kong and winds up in a politician's suite; naturally they fall in love -- but everything else about it feels a bit strange. For starters: Marlon Brando and Sophia Loren in a Chaplin farce? Surprisingly, they both acquit themselves well here, but the repetitive story (with Loren repeatedly running to hide in Brando's bathroom when there's a knock on the door) gets tiresome.

The Longest Day Review


Excellent
D-Day wasn't just fought at Omaha Beach, though Hollywood may have thought so before The Longest Day. D-Day involved a cast of thousands, and it took producer Darryl Zanuck, five screenwriters, four directors, and three hours just to bring it to the big screen. In fact, Spielberg cribbed large chunks of this film verbatim for Saving Private Ryan. Ultimately, Ryan is the better picture, but The Longest Day shows you more of the story (and it's closer to reality), from the paratrooper force sent in as a diversion, to a half-dozen beach battles, to the French Resistance and how they helped. Aside from a great war tale, Day also marks what must be the only film where you can see John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Fabián, Sal Mineo, Eddie Albert, Red Buttons, Peter Lawford, and Sean Connery all fighting the same war. And on the same side, no less.
Michael Medwin

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