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On Her Majesty's Secret Service Review


Good
George Lazenby took Bond's reins from Sean Connery in this sixth 007 outing, an unfairly oft-maligned film that, while distinctively different than the rest of the series, is still quite fun to watch. Where to begin? The love story? Lazenby has an honest to god love montage with Diana Rigg, playing a mobster's daughter, who he later teams up (and actually marries) with to track down Blofeld (now played by Telly Savalas), who got away in You Only Live Twice. He finds Blofeld living on a mountaintop, running a clinic for women with allergies(!)... which is naturally just a front for nefarious ends to destroy the world's economy though mind control. Oddly, Blofeld no longer recognizes Bond, who's dressed in a kilt as a geneology researcher... which may all account for the film's lackluster reputation.

It's a big movie, with good stunts, virtually no gadgets, plenty of fisticuffs, and maybe more sex than any of the series' other installments. Even Lazenby is not half bad, though he pales in comparison to Connery, who would return for one more run as Bond in Diamonds Are Forever.

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The Dirty Dozen Review


Good
Can The Dirty Dozen really be 40 years old? Well, almost. This watershed film paved the ways for bad-guys-as-heroes flicks ranging from The Wild Bunch to Reservoir Dogs, and its influence is still felt today. Yet how can The Dirty Dozen feel so tired when viewed in this millennium? Maybe its a cast that, though exquisite, is a bit much. The Dirty Dozen also appears to have paved the way for the Airport movies, studded with megastars and short on plot. Viewed today, too much of Dozen is schlocky and trite, reliant on stereotypes that border on Hogan's Heroes-level characterizations to tell the WWII-era story. (Writ large: 12 career criminals are given a last chance to pull off a major anti-Nazi mission.) The film is pioneering, daring, and very well made. But there's a bit much to go around, and now you can see the actors jockeying for notice among each other. Still a good film, though its impact is now starting to fade.

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The Muppet Movie Review


Excellent
Like most movies of its year, The Muppet Movie looks (and is) really dated. But it's worth it to willingly suspend disbelief at how dated it is --- to appreciate the good-natured humor and comedic flair of Jim Henson. Henson tried to entertain both kids and adults, and though both audiences were probably easier to please in the days before all comedy became irony-soaked, Henson was one of the first to add sly postmodern touches. And while the movie promotes the annoying myth of Hollywood as the dream factory, magic store, etc. it more than makes up for it by borrowing comedians from several generations, from then-new comics like Steve Martin and Elliott Gould to veterans like Bob Hope and Orson Welles(!), for an endless string of cameo appearances.

The plot loosely follows the odyssey of Kermit the Frog from his swamp home to Hollywood in search of celebrity. The desirability of fame and stardom is never questioned. The Hollywood worship becomes pretty maudlin at the end, thanks mainly to songwriter Paul Williams, whose songs are palatable at first ("Rainbow Connection" was a hit) but become too much before the end of the movie.

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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.

Capricorn One Review


OK
Hal Holbrook steals the show as a semi-deranged NASA exec who fakes a Mars landing in order to save the space program and his job... even if that means offing O.J. Simpson! Cute for a while, Capricorn One wears thin in its second hour, degenerating into a by-the-books chase movie with the feds after the rogue astronauts and Elliot Gould's reporter after the feds. Telly Savalas's cameo is a scream.

Battle Of The Bulge Review


OK
This is the kind of a film around which rumors of a 212-minute print swirl, on the net, in chat rooms, and message boards. Only films that have garnered either cult or classic appeal can claim "hype" like that. No one talks about footage missing from the domestic release cut of Battlefield Earth, no one gripes about a supposed 245-minute version of The Cat in the Hat. But a quick Internet search will reveal endless web pages devoted to the missing scenes in Blade Runner, the 5-hour print of Apocalypse Now, and apparently the 212-minute cut of Battle of the Bulge. That tells you something. This 1965 war "classic" is a war film buff's The Third Man, Casablanca, or Some Like It Hot. It might not be the best WWII epic ever made (that honor, according to the same fans, is allotted to either The Longest Day, Patton, or Cross of Iron) but it is one of the most popular. Well, now we have a 170-minute cut of the film, and it's been heralded with a gorgeous DVD transfer. And you've got to wonder why.

Sure, there's a star-studded cast. Let's see, we've got: Henry Fonda, Robert Shaw, Dana Andrews, Robert Ryan, Telly Savalas, and Charles Bronson. And it is an epic. We're talking a cast of thousands with battle scene recreations that make modern warfare flicks pale in comparison. But when all the dust settles, Battle of the Bulge is a really long, really talky movie. And that's fine for history buffs, WWII film fans, and their ilk, but for the casual Friday night viewer it's a cure for insomnia.

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