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Somebody Up There Likes Me Review


Good
Rocky Graziano was more of a brawler than a boxer, and this film (based on his autobiography) dutifully chronicles his development from street hood to army scofflaw to amateur boxer to mob target. Whew! Graziano is single-dimensionally played by an underwhelming Paul Newman in one of his first film roles, here lacking the nuance he'd give to tough guys in films like Hud and Cool Hand Luke, both of which run rings around this straightforward and simplistic biopic.

Somebody Up There Likes Me Review


Good
Rocky Graziano was more of a brawler than a boxer, and this film (based on his autobiography) dutifully chronicles his development from street hood to army scofflaw to amateur boxer to mob target. Whew! Graziano is single-dimensionally played by an underwhelming Paul Newman in one of his first film roles, here lacking the nuance he'd give to tough guys in films like Hud and Cool Hand Luke, both of which run rings around this straightforward and simplistic biopic.

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.

Escape From The Planet Of The Apes Review


Good
OK... the Earth has been blown up, all human and ape races have been extinguished (including all original characters of the first and second productions), and the thought of another Apes sequel is about as possible as Natalie Wood starring in Brainstorm 2. Neverless, Arthur Jacobs, along with screenwriter Paul Dehn, put together a third Apes movie. This feat is achieved by sending Cornelius and Zira (McDowall and Hunter reprising their original roles) back in time, leaving right before the nuclear apocalypse of the future perpetuated by Heston's Taylor, all through hopping on Taylor's sunken spaceship from the first movie. (The only problem with that is that the spaceship is somehow repaired by an ape society that initially didn't even know how to run a microwave oven.)

I know, I know, I must be losing you by now, but stay with me, it gets funnier.

Continue reading: Escape From The Planet Of The Apes Review

Rebel Without A Cause Review


Excellent
Rebel Without a Cause, the second of the three films James Dean starred in before his untimely death, is the movie that made him an instant legend. Released just 27 days after his fatal car crash, the film froze him in time and later took on even more legendary proportions when his co-stars, Natalie Wood and Sal Mineo, also died premature deaths. (Amazingly enough, Dennis Hopper, who appeared in two Dean movies, is still alive.)

Nicholas Ray's study of the epidemic of juvenile delinquency that terrified post-war parents in the '50s is still compelling today even if the delinquency depicted -- leather jackets, switchblades, drag racing -- seems positively quaint by today's shoot-up-the-school-with-an-Uzi standards. Dean takes the role of Jim Trask and runs with it, chewing up the scenery when the script demands it and then throttling back into profound stillness in his moodier moments.

Continue reading: Rebel Without A Cause Review

Giant Review


Very Good
A more apt title you won't find for a movie, as Giant's sprawling epic covers some 30 years in the life of a Texas cattle baron (Hudson), his wife (Taylor), and the upstart kid who becomes rich by discovering oil on his small plot of land (Dean). Compelling in a Gone With the Wind style, yet far too long at almost 4 hours, Giant could have stood for some quite obvious cutting. How many Christmas carols, square dances, and Texas cowboy shanties can one man take?

Regardless, James Dean (in one of only three roles on film) makes quite an impression, and Taylor reminds us why we ever liked her to begin with. The cinematography is equally Giant as well -- showing off the dusty nothing of central Texas, long low plains with brush and low hills in the distant background. George Stevens (Shane) has always had a knack for landscapes, and he's at the top of his game here. On the new DVD (two restored discs, one of which is double-sided), Stevens' son asks us to reconsider the film and enjoy it one again, 45 years after the making. In a commentary track with critic Stephen Farmber and writer Ivan Moffat, he reflects on his departed father and the trio reflect on Giant's legacy. That second disc has all the usual retrospectives and testimonials we've come to expect.

Continue reading: Giant Review

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Sal Mineo Movies

Escape From The Planet Of The Apes Movie Review

Escape From The Planet Of The Apes Movie Review

OK... the Earth has been blown up, all human and ape races have been extinguished...

Rebel Without a Cause Movie Review

Rebel Without a Cause Movie Review

Rebel Without a Cause, the second of the three films James Dean starred in before...

Giant Movie Review

Giant Movie Review

A more apt title you won't find for a movie, as Giant's sprawling epic covers...

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