Robert Rossen

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All The King's Men (1949) Review


Excellent
Broderick Crawford is no Orson Welles, but this meditation on the underbelly of American politics is at least in the same league as Citizen Kane. Also a Best Picture winner, the film traces the rise of populist local hero Willie Stark, as he moves through the American political machine like a juggernaut, chewing up anything in his way. His compatriots (a newsman turned publicist, various lovelies and heavies) stick by him as Stark becomes corrupted en route to the top. The direction by Robert Rossen (The Hustler) isn't inspired, but he does get the job done with reasonable aplomb.

The Roaring Twenties Review


Very Good
A gangster flick of the bootlegging/Prohibition ilk, this complicated tale starts in the trenches of World War I with stars Cagney and Bogart fighting the good fight, then finding nothing waiting for them when they return home. They turn to crime, with mixed success. A love story feels a bit tacked on, but ultimately the film is most notable for being the last film of the 1930s gangster era, a genre which wouldn't be revived again for close to a decade.

Alexander The Great Review


Weak
God help Oliver Stone if his upcoming Alexander is really a remake of 1956's Alexander the Great, as this film's press notes state.

Put simply, Alexander the Great is a colossal bore. Directed by Robert Rossen (The Hustler, All the King's Men), this visit to the epic well comes off far worse than contemporaries Ben-Hur and Cleopatra. What's the problem? Well, the troubles are legion. Start with Richard Burton, engaging here in the lead role of the philosopher/warrior/conquerer, but given a series of brooding sermons to deliver for well over two hours. Burton doesn't carry the movie as he absolutely has to; the result is an experience not unlike attending a late night lecture. Then there's the warfare. Those of us spoiled on modern epics like Troy will find the playful skirmishes here on the laughable side. Sure, you can stage a battle with just a couple hundred men and no special effects if you shoot it carefully, but if your warriors look tired and on the verge of striking, you won't quite get the necessary effect. My little brother and I had more authentic swordfights when we were kids, using sticks in the backyard. Pretty sad considering Alexander conquered Europe and Asia.

Continue reading: Alexander The Great Review

The Hustler Review


Extraordinary
I think of it as a Streetcar Named Desire for the con man.

The Hustler has always stood out as not just a great movie about the con game, but as a great movie, period. Paul Newman's study of a pool hustler who goes through the highest highs and the lowest lows is so dazzling that an hour will go by before you look at the clock and realize... I'm watching a movie about pool.

Continue reading: The Hustler Review

All The King's Men Review


Excellent
Broderick Crawford is no Orson Welles, but this meditation on the underbelly of American politics is at least in the same league as Citizen Kane. Also a Best Picture winner, the film traces the rise of populist local hero Willie Stark, as he moves through the American political machine like a juggernaut, chewing up anything in his way. His compatriots (a newsman turned publicist, various lovelies and heavies) stick by him as Stark becomes corrupted en route to the top. The direction by Robert Rossen (The Hustler) isn't inspired, but he does get the job done with reasonable aplomb.

The Strange Love Of Martha Ivers Review


Very Good
Whisper her name!

Thus read the ads for the original 1946 release of the classic, under-appreciated film noir The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, and although the tagline refers to the character, the name that the title brings to mind is that of star Barbara Stanwyck. As Martha, Stanwyck plays a woman with a secret, living in the kind of anywhere-in-America town that film noir sketched so indelibly on the big screen, a town where everything would seem peaceful to a stranger, but the locals know that intrigue simmers just out of sight. If you have to talk about Martha - a woman who's not only notorious but powerful as well - it probably is best to lower your voice. In a town this size, word gets around.

Continue reading: The Strange Love Of Martha Ivers Review

Robert Rossen

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