Peter Lawford

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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.

Dead Ringer Review


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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Ocean's Eleven (1960) Review


OK
Implausible yet wholly unforgettable, Ocean's Eleven is as much fun as it is a misogynistic relic of a bygone era. Essentially, the Rat Pack of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and Peter Lawford are playing themselves as ex-military playboy buddies who decide to pull off a daring heist on New Year's Eve, robbing five Las Vegas casinos in one fell swoop. As it turns out, the heist itself is kind of a forgettable letdown, as is the aftermath involving an investigation into the matter by Lawford's character's future stepfather (Cesar Romero). Even the setup takes close to an hour, as Billy Ocean (Sinatra) woos his lady and slowly gathers his crew -- all while Martin and Davis provide musical accompaniment. The end result is more than two hours of heist work that would make David Mamet cringe.

So why watch Sinatra and his 10 (not 11) ex-military buddies romp through their kinda town? Ocean's Eleven is the kind of movie you turn on and just hang out to, just like the Rat Pack would have done, as you enjoy a scotch and soda on a Saturday afternoon while Dean Martin croons "Ain't that a kick in the head..." in the background. Then you'd go bowling in an orange sweater to talk about the job. When it's over, you won't feel like you've bettered yourself in any way, but you might feel just an inch of kinship with a bygone era when Vegas was black tie-only and when a woman's place was in a distant, supporting role. (Just kidding, dames.)

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That's Entertainment! Review


Good
Like no other industry, Hollywood has the unique ability to celebrate itself. That's Entertainment! is nothing but the unabashed patting of itself on the back, but damn if it isn't a film that's as important as any other.

That's Entertainment! -- which would spawn two sequels and another DVD of extras (available on the box set, see right) -- is more accurately a celebration of MGM and its legacy of movie musicals. Shot in 1974, the film takes us on a tour of MGM's then-sprawling backlot (which was torn down shortly thereafter), radically contrasting the dilapidated sets with the films that were originally shot on them. Stars like Sinatra, Astaire, Crosby, Kelly, Minnelli, and Reynolds (Debbie, not Burt) are our tour guides, hosting us on our walkthrough the back lot and introducing the clips of past films starring themselves and their friends.

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Advise And Consent Review


Extraordinary
Everybody loves Henry Fonda -- but what if he was a freakin' commie!?

Otto Preminger turned his eyes from the legal system (Anatomy of a Murder) to American politics in the underseen and tragically underappreciated Advise and Consent.

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Peter Lawford

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