Ralph Richardson

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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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Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes Review


Grim
Ishtar, Hudson Hawk, and Heaven's Gate get all the ink, but Greystoke -- if there was any justice in the world -- would go down in history as one of cinema's great disasters.

Director Hugh Hudson had just finished Chariots of Fire, so why wouldn't he be perfect to direct the annual retelling of the Tarzan legend? Christopher Lambert -- hell, with that mop of a hairdo he looks a lot like Tarzan. Ralph Richardson and Ian Holm are excellent actors. How could this miss?

Continue reading: Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes Review

Richard III Review


OK
Laurence Olivier's Richard III is one of the stagiest versions of Shakespeare you'll find on film, and it's also his least faithful work, chopping and editing the Bard's play willy-nilly. I'm no Shakespeare expert, but even I can spot the hatchet work here. (For the uninitated, Richard III follows the waning days of the War of the Roses, with Richard III (Olivier) taking on big brother Edward (Cedric Hardwicke) in a bid for the throne. Deception, murder, and betrayal rule the day until the outcome is decided.)

The undortunate side effect of the faithfulness is that Richard III has a real Masterpiece Theatre quality that you just can't shake. Olivier plops the camera down at one end of the room and lets scenes take place in wide shots, unmolested. Long scenes are certainly forgivable, but the end result is that this rendition of the story looks far more like a play than a movie. It isn't until the second half of the film when we really get out of the castle, and thank God we do. But unfortunately, even these scenes aren't exactly thrill rides. The landscapes chosen are barren and void of majesty. Sword fights are genteel affairs with no distinguishable choreography. Why ride an army out to battle if you're not going to use them?

Continue reading: Richard III Review

The Fallen Idol Review


Good
Carol Reed took a big chance on this film, his first of three collaborations with Graham Greene. The Fallen Idol is told almost entirely through the eyes of a child, Phillipe (Bobby Henrey, who would make only one other film), and it's a daring decision that gives the film a uniqueness that separates it from what would otherwise be a rather rote drama/thriller.

The story is exceedingly simple: Phillipe is a child of privilege. His ambassador parents are never home, so he spends his days with easygoing butler Baines (Ralph Richardson), whom he adores, and his cruelly strict wife (Sonia Dresdel), who is the cavernous home's housekeeper. Phillipe confides in Baines, who regales him with stories, like the time he "killed a man in Africa." But Phillipe doesn't understand that Baines is just amusing him with make-believe.

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Long Day's Journey Into Night Review


Extraordinary
Thanks to her natural trembling, Katharine Hepburn makes for a truly amazing drug addict, in this harrowing and devastation Sidney Lumet film, adapted from Eugene O'Neill's autobiographical story of his turbulent (to put it mildly) home life. In a nutshell: It's one horrific night when all sorts of dirt is dished: From mom's morphine addiction and resentment of son Edmund (Dean Stockwell) over the death of her third-born, to dad's (Ralph Richardson) alcoholism and distaste for mom, to more sibling rivalry from firstborn Jamie (Jason Robards).

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Who Slew Auntie Roo? Review


Terrible
Who slew Auntie Roo? Good God, who cares!? This awful horror flick (tagline: "The hand that rocks the cradle has no flesh on it!") is so atrocious it's truly hard to muddle through. Shelley Winters' psychotic character is searching for a "replacement" for her dead daughter... offing local children along the way. Meant as an update to Hansel & Gretel, this sad, sad "horror" movie is not remotely scary, features terribly stilted dialogue, and sports one of the biggest wigs I've ever seen outside of an intentional farce. Very, very bad.

Aka Whoever Slew Auntie Roo?

Continue reading: Who Slew Auntie Roo? Review

Richard III Review


OK
Laurence Olivier's Richard III is one of the stagiest versions of Shakespeare you'll find on film, and it's also his least faithful work, chopping and editing the Bard's play willy-nilly. I'm no Shakespeare expert, but even I can spot the hatchet work here. (For the uninitated, Richard III follows the waning days of the War of the Roses, with Richard III (Olivier) taking on big brother Edward (Cedric Hardwicke) in a bid for the throne. Deception, murder, and betrayal rule the day until the outcome is decided.)

The undortunate side effect of the faithfulness is that Richard III has a real Masterpiece Theatre quality that you just can't shake. Olivier plops the camera down at one end of the room and lets scenes take place in wide shots, unmolested. Long scenes are certainly forgivable, but the end result is that this rendition of the story looks far more like a play than a movie. It isn't until the second half of the film when we really get out of the castle, and thank God we do. But unfortunately, even these scenes aren't exactly thrill rides. The landscapes chosen are barren and void of majesty. Sword fights are genteel affairs with no distinguishable choreography. Why ride an army out to battle if you're not going to use them?

Continue reading: Richard III Review

Time Bandits Review


Extraordinary
History belongs to the victors, and Terry Gilliam takes his rightful ownership of Western history in this timeless romp through the ages. Writer and director of some of Monty Python's most enduring and foolish productions, Gilliam reaches the top of his form with Time Bandits.

Young Kevin (Craig Warnock) is a history buff trapped in the household of his shallow, materialistic parents. While they sit mindlessly in front of the television, absorbed in an insanely morbid game show, Kevin explores his history books enthusiastically, fantasizing about a more meaningful world than the one in which he lives. But when his parents finally send him to bed, his world gets a lot more interesting.

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Dragonslayer Review


Good
Here's what bothers me about Dragonslayer.

The story involves a fantasy kingdom which sacrifices a young woman every year to the mean old dragon on the hill, lest it burn up all the crops, and so on. Peter MacNicol plays a young magician who is bent on destroying the dragon, even though he's a bit of a schlub... you know, like Peter MacNicol. Caitlin Clarke plays a young boy who turns out to be a young woman in disguise, designed to evade the lottery used to pick the woman for sacrifice.

Continue reading: Dragonslayer Review

Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes Review


Grim
Ishtar, Hudson Hawk, and Heaven's Gate get all the ink, but Greystoke -- if there was any justice in the world -- would go down in history as one of cinema's great disasters.

Director Hugh Hudson had just finished Chariots of Fire, so why wouldn't he be perfect to direct the annual retelling of the Tarzan legend? Christopher Lambert -- hell, with that mop of a hairdo he looks a lot like Tarzan. Ralph Richardson and Ian Holm are excellent actors. How could this miss?

Continue reading: Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes Review

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