Dr. No

BBBBB (out of 5) The cinema’s longest running franchise got itself off to a fantastic start with this marvelous spy adventure.  Sean Connery made a cinematic landmark of himself as the famous James Bond, agent 007, who works for the British government in helping to stop the world from global terrorism, armed with only his wits…

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Forbidden Planet

BBBB.5 (out of 5) Here’s the Gone With The Wind of 1950s science-fiction. Based loosely on Shakespeare’s The Tempest, this fantastic, adventurous space opera starts off with a captain (Leslie Nielsen) landing his craft on a planet that was once a colonization test site. Since it has sent no messages for quite some time, the…

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The Apartment

BBBBB (out of 5) Jack Lemmon excels as a low-level office worker who, on occasion, lends his bachelor apartment to philandering business superiors to use for trysts with their mistresses. Unbeknownst to him, one of them (Fred MacMurray) is going there with the elevator girl who has caught Lemmon’s eye (Shirley MacLaine in the best American female…

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Sullivan’s Travels

BBBBB (out of 5) One of my favourite comedies ever made is this terrific Preston Sturges masterpiece. It tells the tale of a conscientious filmmaker (Joel McCrea) who decides that Depression-era audiences no longer want to be insulted with happy, feelgood fluff and so options the rights for a Steinbeckian novel called ‘O Brother, Where…

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The Lady Eve

BBBBB (out of 5) A simple-minded man, a conniving woman and a snake…where have I heard this one before? The age-old tale of Adam and Eve is given a hilarious modernization in this wonderful comedy by Preston Sturges (the same year he made the classic Sullivan’s Travels), a delightful mix of screwball comedy and genuinely…

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Mary Poppins

BBBBB (out of 5) After so many years, this film hasn’t aged a day: whether you’re a young tot or a full-grown adult it still retains its fresh charm and lively vigour. Julie Andrews is brilliant as the magical nanny who lives on a cloud and comes down to earth to be a guardian for children…

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All That Heaven Allows

BBBBB (out of 5) Widow Jane Wyman befriends her handsome young gardener (Rock Hudson) and finds an escape from her snooty society friends in his company. This upstairs-downstairs romance between two people with so much dividing them seems at first to be a glossy, shallow Hollywood fifties melodrama. Dig beneath the surface, and you’ll actually find…

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Hiroshima, Mon Amour

BBBB.5 (out of 5) An epic of intimate proportions, beautifully directed by Alain Resnais. It’s mostly conversations, post-lovemaking, between a Japanese businessman (Eiji Okada, who learned French phonetically for the film) and a French actress (Emmanuelle Riva) on location making a film about the Hiroshima bomb. She tells him about her tragic love affair with…

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Grand Illusion (La Grande Illusion)

BBBBB (out of 5) One of the most awe-inspiring war movies ever made is this Jean Renoir classic, one of the few war films not to feature a single battle scene. Instead it concentrates on the personal relationships that go on between enemies in a seemingly ‘gentlemanly’ war: Frenchmen Jean Gabin and Pierre Fresnay are held prisoner…

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Rebel Without A Cause

BBBB.5 (out of 5) The original teen angst masterpiece that made James Dean a movie star and later a permanent icon following his untimely death. Sal Mineo plays an awkward adolescent who can’t fit in with any of the brutal teenagers in his tiny little town; Dean plays his only friend, a cool dude for whom social…

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Black Narcissus

BBBBB (out of 5) One of the best British films ever made is this pioneering effort by independent filmmakers Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. Shot entirely at Pinewood with painted matte backgrounds to recreate the Himalayas (and astonishingly well at that), the film is superbly textured and mature, thematically ahead of any movie made in…

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Bunny Lake Is Missing

BBBB.5 (out of 5) A young American woman (Carol Lynley), newly arrived in England, drops her daughter off at a primary school for her first day of lessons. When she shows up at the end of the day to pick little Bunny up, she finds that not only is her daughter missing, but no one…

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