Michael Redgrave

Michael Redgrave

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The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner Review


Good
Overwrought metaphors are never a good thing, of course, though every now and again they can have a certain impact in the right piece of art, if used properly. One thing they don't do, though, is age well, a fact well born out by Tony Richardson's The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, which tries to use the sport of its title as a metaphor for rebellion, alienation, and, yes, freedom. While this central device of the film hasn't aged that well in the four decades hence, that is not to say that the film is without merit, just that it may be hard to take quite so seriously.

Colin Smith, the classic angry young man of disaffected postwar England, puts it all right out there in the film's first line, "Running's always been a big thing in our family, especially running away from the police." Played by a brooding Tom Courtenay, Colin is doing quite a bit of running in general when the police finally catch up with him for breaking into a bakery (a crime that is only mentioned at first, we'll only see it all much later, gradually built up to in flashback). Sent off to a reform school, Colin at first sets himself apart through his sarcasm, the first line of defense for any proper cinematic anti-hero. Despising everyone pretty equally -- especially the whingeing new administrator, spouting new-fangled psychological nonsense that's as condescending as the school's old-fashioned authoritarian rot -- Colin finds a release of sorts in running. It seems a pure thing, especially when he's given leave to go on unsupervised practice runs in the countryside, where he gambols through woods and babbling brooks while jazz tinkles on the soundtrack. Simple and ultimately pointless, it's nevertheless a sight better than his previous life.

Continue reading: The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner Review

The Browning Version (1951) Review


Excellent
We all hated our grade school teachers -- at least one of them. Here's a movie that shows the flipside of that anger, showcasing Andrew Crocker-Harris (Michael Redgrave in the role of a lifetime) on his last, pathetic day as a teacher at a sleepy school for privileged boys.

Crocker-Harris teaches the terribly unpopular dead languages course to younger children who, almost unilaterally, don't appreciate the subject matter. Not only is Crocker-Harris moving for "health reasons," his cruel wife (Jean Kent) is having an affair with a younger professor (Nigel Patrick). And the kids hate him, calling him "Himmler" behind his back.

Continue reading: The Browning Version (1951) Review

The Importance Of Being Earnest (1952) Review


Excellent
When the dust settles on humanity and its efforts in cinema, the original 1952 version of The Importance of Being Earnest will surely stand as the most important and most beloved film production of Oscar Wilde's play. (Coincidentally, it finds itself issued on DVD along with a new film version.)

The story remains a theatrical classic: two men fall for two women, but for one reason or another both of the men resort to using the name "Ernest" in their affairs. An elaborate comedy of errors and clever romantic twists, it's Wilde's most absurd and most amusing play, a story that demands attention to its byzantine plot structure and rewards the viewer with an abundance of laughs.

Continue reading: The Importance Of Being Earnest (1952) Review

Alice In Wonderland (1966) Review


OK
It doesn't take the Ravi Shankar soundtrack to cue you that this version of Alice in Wonderland -- just an hour long, shot for the BBC -- hails from the 1960s. Taking the story's thinly veiled drug metaphors to their ultra-serious limit, the movie has a bit of a Cheech and Chong feeling to it, and the star power of John Gielgud, Peter Sellers, and Peter Cook (among many others) conspire to ensure that Alice (Anne-Marie Mallik) doesn't even got top billing. This was one of the first of director Jonathan Miller's numerous BBC teleplays, and his greenness is apparent -- it's neither kid-friendly (the actors don't wear animal costumes, they just allude to them) nor particularly clever, coming across in the end like a kind of Alice's Greatest Hits. Finally, I know it was 1966 television, but Alice just never works in black and white. It's like The Wizard of Oz without the yellow brick road.

The Browning Version Review


Excellent
We all hated our grade school teachers -- at least one of them. Here's a movie that shows the flipside of that anger, showcasing Andrew Crocker-Harris (Michael Redgrave in the role of a lifetime) on his last, pathetic day as a teacher at a sleepy school for privileged boys.

Crocker-Harris teaches the terribly unpopular dead languages course to younger children who, almost unilaterally, don't appreciate the subject matter. Not only is Crocker-Harris moving for "health reasons," his cruel wife (Jean Kent) is having an affair with a younger professor (Nigel Patrick). And the kids hate him, calling him "Himmler" behind his back.

Continue reading: The Browning Version Review

The Innocents Review


Good
Based on Henry James's The Turn of the Screw, this creepy but ultimately perplexing thriller was one of the first films designed to scare you without showing, say, severed limbs and nonstop gore. The Innocents features a wide-eyed Deborah Kerr as a governess sent to a stately manor where she will care for two children. When they start communicating with ghosts, demons, dead people, the devil -- what they are, we'll never find it -- the poor governess comes unhinged. Not altogether frightening, but it has a few creep-out moments that mostly redeem its totally ambiguous ending.
Michael Redgrave

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