Robert Preston

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The Last Starfighter Review


OK
An enjoyable mash-up of western-styled action and John Hughes-styled coming of age drama, Nick Castle's The Last Starfighter was also, according to a 2003 article in the humor newspaper The Onion, the film that inspired former President George W. Bush to seek the presidency. While that's funny, like many of The Onion's satirical articles, it's also fairly believable -- The Last Starfighter is the rousing kind of kid flick that inspires ten-year-old boys to grab broomsticks, storm the neighborhood hill, and go nuts on pretend aliens with ridiculous faux karate moves.

This was also the first film to use CGI for much of its special effects work (all the spaceships and space battles). Programmed on a now Jurassic Cray X-MP supercomputer, in 1984 the digital effects shots were stunning. It was, for kids of the '80s, Space Invaders come to life.

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Mame Review


Terrible
Reviewing Mame, Lucille Ball's late-in-life stab at starring in an enormous movie musical, gives me the opportunity to pull out one of my favorite SAT words: execrable. I mean, I love Lucy, but...

One of Hollywood's most famous casting blunders, letting Lucy star as Mame instead of Angela Lansbury, who had conquered Broadway in the same role, was a mistake of epic proportions, not unlike the decision to deny Julie Andrews the starring role in the movie version of My Fair Lady. The legend is that Lucy wanted it really badly and even put up some of her own money to guarantee her spot. I bet Desi Arnaz could have talked her out of it, but something tells me she never asked his opinion.

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The Music Man Review


Excellent
Robert Preston couldn't be any more perfect as Harold Hill, the smiling scoundrel who plans to trick tiny River City, Iowa out of its hard-earned cash through a bizarre plan: He creates bands using the local kids (which allegedly keeps them from getting into trouble at, gasp, pool halls and the like). Only Hill skips town with the money for the instruments before their first concert. Of course, it doesn't pan out that way when Hill falls in love... and when his detractors close in on him, well, sparks will fly. A great adaptation of a great musical, with all the parts working perfectly.

Victor/Victoria Review


Excellent
I love musicals, and 1982 saw the release of one of my favorites and another one that haunts me. I'm talking about Blake Edwards' Victor/Victoria and Francis Ford Coppola's One From the Heart.

Coppola's project (it came off his unbelievable string of '70s hits that started with The Godfather and ended with Apocalypse Now) was a technologically adventuresome movie that had one little problem--everything. The songs were bad (Raul Julia and Frederic Forrest sang), the actors appeared to have been fed a diet of sedatives and wine, and there was no cast chemistry or energy provided among the millions of dollars Coppola lavished on this neon turkey.

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