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The Bridge On The River Kwai Review


Extraordinary
Oddly enough, it's hardly about a bridge at all. And though the building of a magnificent wooden bridge -- by British and other Allied soldiers being held by the Japanese as prisoners of war -- has a supporting role, Alec Guinness won his only non-honorary Oscar for this film (did you know he'd be nominated for writing the following year?), and boy is it deserved. As the British colonel who protects his troops against overwhelming oppression by the Japanese -- then happily agrees to build them a monumental bridge, oblivious to the fact that it will greatly aid the Japanese war machine. His look of horror and sudden understanding, when the bridge comes crashing down, courtesy of Allied commandos, is worth the little statuette alone.

The Last Tycoon Review


Good
The Last Tycoon, based on F. Scott Fitzgerald's unfinished final novel, packs a pile of talent into its two hours but comes up a bit short in the end.

A shockingly lithe Robert De Niro stars as Monroe Stahr, a 1930s studio executive based on Irving Thalberg (a prolific producer who died at the age of 37, presumably from overwork). Stahr has lost loves in the past and a crushing chip on his shoulder in the present. He's a workhorse, but he wants something more out of life.

Continue reading: The Last Tycoon Review

Suddenly, Last Summer Review


Excellent
In 1930s New Orleans, a creepy drama/thriller plays out, with a wealthy heiress (Katharine Hepburn) extorting an upstanding doctor (Montgomery Clift) into giving her neice (Elizabeth Taylor) a lobotomy. Why? That's the rub in this juicy, compelling, and typically overblown Tennessee Williams adaptation. Hepburn and Taylor both earned Oscar nominations for their work; it's hard to pick which turns in a more compelling performance.

Lawrence Of Arabia Review


Essential
Being the self-proclaimed professional film critic that I am, I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that I had not seen Lawrence of Arabia (just out in a special DVD edition) until only recently. After all, it's considered by just about everyone to be the masterpiece epic of director David Lean, who also directed films such as Bridge on the River Kwai, and Doctor Zhivago. So one day, a friend of mine loaned me a copy of the video and I sat down and watched it. I was initially skeptical that something made almost 40 years ago would be able to keep my attention for the butt-numbing 3 1/2 hours of its duration. But now I fully understand why this has become the film that other epic films are judged against -- the winner of seven Academy Awards in 1963 for Best Picture, Director, Editing, Cinematography, Art Direction, Music, and Sound. After watching the film again, I am convinced that it is simply one of the finest works of cinematic genius to ever illuminate the big screen.

Based on the autobiographical writing of British officer T.E. Lawrence during World War I, Lawrence of Arabia depicts Lawrence (played by then-unknown actor Peter O'Toole) as a lieutenant lacking any sort of military discipline whatsoever. Bored with his assignment of coloring maps for the British Army in a dimly lit headquarters building, Lawrence jumps at the opportunity to be re-assigned as an observer for an Arabian prince fighting against the Turkish army. Lawrence quickly sees just how caring and great these desert dwelling people can be and ends up rallying the various tribes together to fight the Turks and help the British turn the tide of World War I.

Continue reading: Lawrence Of Arabia Review

Betrayal Review


Excellent
Very curious character study... told in reverse. That's right, we see the end of the affair, then roll back time to the beginning. Irons and Kingsley are (as usual) excellent, but the way the tale is spun is what makes Betrayal so powerfully unique. Based on Harold Pinter's play.

The Stranger Review


Excellent
Largely unsung, this Orson Welles movie is one of his most straightforward, yet still one of his greats -- and reportedly his only film to turn a profit on its original theatrical release. Welles also stars as a Nazi war criminal now living under a new identity on Connecticut... until the tribunal catches up with him. The architect of the genocide then quickly reverts to his old ways. Not a lot of surprise -- except for some rare casting of Edward G. Robinson as the good guy.
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Lawrence of Arabia Movie Review

Lawrence of Arabia Movie Review

Being the self-proclaimed professional film critic that I am, I am somewhat embarrassed to admit...

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