Shelley Winters

Shelley Winters

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A Place In The Sun Review


Excellent
The classic tragedy, in classic form. Disturbing and powerful considering its time (1951), this film, based on the novel An American Tragedy, features Clift's greatest performance as a working-class guy wooed by an assembly line worker (Winters) and a ritzy chick (Taylor). The Pandora's box he opens when one is accidentally killed makes for a timeless tragedy.

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?

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The Night of the Hunter Review


Extraordinary
Until I saw The Night of the Hunter, it had been a long time since I had gasped while watching a movie. Forget The Others and The Deep End (which veered toward strained dramatics), The Night of the Hunter is by far the scariest movie I've seen so far this year. Even though the movie is nearly 50 years old and there's a not drop of blood to be seen.

Luckily, The Night of the Hunter, Charles Laughton's first and final directing gig, has been restored by the UCLA Film and Television Archive and is being re-released in October 2001. So, there's still plenty of time to spill your popcorn all over the place.

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Lolita (1962) Review


Excellent
When a character's name enters the language as a general descriptor of a similar person, you know you're dealing with a classic. Lolita is exactly that film -- and the story of one man's obsession with his stepdaughter is so well-known it scarcely requires explanation. If you've never seen the original, you need to, and soon. While it's far too long at over 2 1/2 hours, these characters are so juicy and delicately balanced (this was 1962 and pedophilia was hardly accepted on film) they're a true must-see. Remade in 1997.

What's the Matter with Helen? Review


Terrible
What's the matter with Helen? She's a raving lunatic, and given that she's played by Shelley Winters in 1971, she's obese, to boot. It doesn't help that Helen and her pal Adelle (Debbie Reynolds) are both mothers of sons who are convicted murderers. When they move to Hollywood to start over, Adelle moves beyond it (grandstanding in some 15 minutes of song-and-dance numbers with the children she's teaching) but Helen turns into an evangelical nut. High camp without much comedy value.

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The Young Savages Review


OK
Despite its pedigreed cast list, The Young Savages, John Frankenheimer's first feature film, is a relatively tepid affair, though it hints at a grittiness and edge that films that would come 10 years later would start to exhibit. The story involves a small juvenile Italian gang that murders a blind Puerto Rican boy, but Burt Lancaster's prosecutor isn't so sure the case is cut and dried. Interesting ponderation on racial tension, but far from classic.

A Patch Of Blue Review


Excellent
PIty blind Selina (Elizabeth Hartman). She hasn't been marginalized so much as completely ignored by her family and society. She's a grown woman and yet she's never even been taught how to cross the street. Lucky for her she finds a savior in Gordon (Sidney Poitier), who takes her under his wing and teaches her the basics of getting around in modern society -- though he, of course, can see. A romance develops, but it doesn't go over well in these barely-unsegregated days. Whether this ends in total tragedy or a bittersweet parting is the only real question here (though the ending was altered from the novel) -- but the film is so well-acted and expertly written that you root for them nonetheless. Shelley Winters (inexplicably) won an Oscar for her role as Selina's bigoted mother.

The Portrait of a Lady Review


Good
Jesus, I didn't realize when I went to the movies this morning I was going to have to think!

But seriously, that's what you're going to be doing if you see The Portrait of a Lady -- Jane Campion's follow-up to The Piano, based on Henry James's "classic" novel that you've probably never read. Now, I'm wishing that I had, though, because Portrait is a fantastic movie to watch, exquisitely crafted and painstakingly detailed, gorgeously photographed and full of style -- but it is just plain impossible to follow.

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Shelley Winters

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