Philip Dunne

Philip Dunne

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The Robe Review


Weak
The Biblical epic is one of the most tired of Hollywood genres. Instead of taking the Good Book for all its fire and brimstone brazenness, concentrating on all the death, sex, and betrayal involved, Hollywood goes strictly for the houses of the holy. Within the vacuous walls of this sanctimonious, self-righteous abode are enough high-minded false prophecies to make even the most dedicated Messiah balk. A good example of this is 1953's The Robe. Based on a best-selling novel by Lloyd C. Douglas, this oversized spectacle is noted as being the first film ever released in the fledgling Cinemascope format. It's also a highly cheesy bit of faith-based falderal that still manages to manipulate the audience into appreciating its preaching.

When he angers Caligula (Jay Robinson) by buying Demetrius (Victor Mature), a slave he had wanted, military officer Marcellus Gallio (Richard Burton) is exiled to Jerusalem. There, he encounters talk of a new 'messiah' named Jesus. When Pilate condemns this well-meaning man, Marcellus is placed in charge of the crucifixion. After the deed, he wins Christ's robe in a dice game. A strange event involving the garment shakes Marcellus to his core, causing Demetrius to steal it and disappear. Returning to Rome, Marcellus is charged by Emperor Tiberius (Ernest Thesiger) to retrieve the shroud and destroy it. Starting his search in Galilee, our hero begins to learn the teachings of Jesus. After coming in contact with former disciple Peter (Michael Rennie), Marcellus repents and returns to Rome to spread the word and win back his former flame Diana (Jean Simmons). Naturally, he too is condemned.

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How Green Was My Valley Review


OK
If you were sitting next to me during a recent screening of John Ford's How Green Was My Valley, you'd probably ask "How Black is Your Heart?" After all, the movie won five Oscars in 1941, including Best Picture, and has a permanent home in the Good Honest Folk movie hall of fame. It's hailed as Ford's non-western masterpiece and the screen debut of Roddy McDowall. You might even be tempted to trounce me about the shoulders and cry "Get with it, old man!"

I tried but I can't. Seeing Valley 60 years after its premiere only tells me that it hasn't aged well and maybe wasn't even supposed to. After all, America's paeans to ordinary people and their dreams hit their peak in 1941, hot on the heels of WPA murals and Dorothea Lange's photographs. And while we might be living in an age of renewed sincerity (the memoir, David Grey), Valley still strikes me some kind of virgin artifact, a relic cast in mythology before it was even born.

Continue reading: How Green Was My Valley Review

The Ghost And Mrs. Muir Review


Good
Ghost haunts woman. Ghost helps woman write book. Ghost gets jealous when woman falls for a non-dead man. This 1947 minor classic is quaint and almost absurd by today's standards, but Mrs. Muir still stands as a harmless and cute period piece that nostalgia fans will get a kick out of. Rex Harrison is wildly over the top, considering, you know, he's playing a dead man.
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Dev Patel Is A Lost Boy In Touching True Story Drama 'Lion'

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There's already an Oscars buzz surrounding this movie.

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