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The Dirty Dozen Review


Very Good
Can The Dirty Dozen really be 40 years old? Well, almost. This watershed film paved the ways for bad-guys-as-heroes flicks ranging from The Wild Bunch to Reservoir Dogs, and its influence is still felt today. Yet how can The Dirty Dozen feel so tired when viewed in this millennium? Maybe its a cast that, though exquisite, is a bit much. The Dirty Dozen also appears to have paved the way for the Airport movies, studded with megastars and short on plot. Viewed today, too much of Dozen is schlocky and trite, reliant on stereotypes that border on Hogan's Heroes-level characterizations to tell the WWII-era story. (Writ large: 12 career criminals are given a last chance to pull off a major anti-Nazi mission.) The film is pioneering, daring, and very well made. But there's a bit much to go around, and now you can see the actors jockeying for notice among each other. Still a good film, though its impact is now starting to fade.

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The Three Faces Of Eve Review


Very Good
Never mind Alistair Cooke's monologue which opens The Three Faces of Eve: The film is not a true story presented without embellishment. It is based on a novel, which itself was based loosely on a true story about a woman with multiple personality disorder.

Joanne Woodward's performance in the title role is pretty much the only reason to see the film today -- mental illness has been handled with much more grace in the years since. Woodward deftly handles the difficult task of running through three characters: At first she's Eve White, a troubled and plain young woman, and soon enough Eve Black, a brazen hussie, comes to the forefront, doing battle with Eve White. As her psyche continues to degenerate, a third identity, Jane, comes to the forefront. Eve's psychiatrists are offered up as heroes -- looking back at them today reveals that they're all total chumps -- and through a series of absurd hypnotisms she eventually comes to grips with her past abuse and, like that, gets well.

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The Man In The Gray Flannel Suit Review


Very Good
You've heard of "the man in the gray flannel suit." He's the workaholic office drone who commutes into the city every day and struggles wearily to climb a daunting corporate ladder while dealing with petty office politics. In The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, Gregory Peck plays Tom Rath, that quintessential '50s organization man, an archetypal tormented post-war striver and father of the baby boom who wonders if he's making the right choices... or if he has the freedom to make any choices at all in his conformist world.

A Madison Avenue advertising executive, Rath lives in a comfortable Connecticut bedroom community and commutes in and out of the city, leaving him little time for his wife Betsy (Jennifer Jones) and his funny, television-addicted kids. Betsy, who in typical '50s suburban style is deeply concerned about keeping up with the Joneses, pushes Rath to find a better job, and he agrees even as he realizes that more work and stress is not what he wants. In fact, he's heading toward what we now call a mid-life crisis, although they didn't have a word for it back then.

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The Grapes Of Wrath Review


Excellent
John Ford's adaptation of the John Steinbeck novel is moving and heartfelt, despite its random structure and rambling, overwrought (and overly political) narrative. Henry Fonda owns the show as Tom Joad, a prison parolee in the 1930s who returns to his Oklahoma home to discover his family has been ousted from their farm by a greedy corporation when the infamous "dust bowl" hits. The family packs it up for California to try to make a go of it as migrant farm workers, which doesn't necessarily pan out for the best, thanks to Tom's penchant for getting into fights with "Okies go home" types. The Grapes of Wrath pours on the populist and neo-Communist schmaltz, but Fonda's portrayal of the permanently-down-on-his-luck Tom really makes you feel sorry for him. Which, I suppose, is the point.
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