It Started In Naples (1960)

MELVILLE SHAVELSON Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.  USA, 1960.  Capri Productions, Paramount Pictures.  Story by Michael Pertwee, Jack Davies, Screenplay by Melville Shavelson, Jack Rose, Suso Cecchi D’Amico.  Cinematography by Robert Surtees.  Produced by Jack Rose.  Music by Alessandro Cicognini, Carlo Savina.  Production Design by Roland Anderson, Hal Pereira.  Costume Design by Orietta Nasalli-Rocca.  Film Editing by Frank Bracht.  Academy Awards 1960.  Golden Globe Awards…

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Wake Island

BBBB (out of 5) Fact-based account of the American servicemen stationed on Wake Island, a small oasis in the Pacific ocean.  The soldiers are barely kept in line by their commander (Brian Donlevy) while a private contractor (Albert Dekker) ignores army protocol to carry out his building project, but all differences are put aside when the events…

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The Mating Season

BBB.5 (out of 5) John Lund plays an ambitious worker at an Ohio industrial company who meets and marries a gorgeous socialite (Gene Tierney) after he saves her from falling down a cliff. The day of their marriage, his mother (Thelma Ritter) comes to visit, having just shut down her New Jersey hamburger joint after the…

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A New Kind Of Love

BB.5 (out of 5) Definitely not a new kind of movie.  Joanne Woodward plays a dowdy fashion designer specializing in affordable knock-offs of Parisian haute couture, who meets up with cynical journalist Paul Newman while taking in some fashion shows in France’s beautiful capital. Newman doesn’t even look at her twice, but when Woodward dolls…

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The Odd Couple

BBB.5 (out of 5) Neil Simon’s most popular play is turned into a film that solidifies Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau‘s success as a comedy team, later spawning a popular television series. Lemmon plays a compulsively clean family man who breaks up with his wife and unsuccessfully attempts suicide. His poker buddy (Matthau), a slovenly fellow with…

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Hombre

BBBB (out of 5) Paul Newman continues his collection of anti-heroes with this excellent western, adapted from the novel by Elmore Leonard.  He plays a white man raised by Apaches who suffers the racism that is dealt towards all Natives of frontier America. His background becomes an asset, however, when a stagecoach is held up and…

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Hud

BBBBB (out of 5) Fantastic western directed by Martin Ritt features Paul Newman at his best, playing among the most memorable anti-heroes in film history. It takes place on a cattle ranch where badass Hud (Newman) is living with his kindly father (a brilliant Melvyn Douglas) and their burnt-out housekeeper (an equally impressive Patricia Neal)….

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White Christmas

BBB (out of 5) The biggest box-office hit of 1954 was this enjoyable musical romp that rides on the success of the titular Irving Berlin song. Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye are holed up at a hotel resort with sisters Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen over the holidays. The weak screenplay is mostly an excuse for the many pleasant musical…

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Too Late Blues

BBB (out of 5) Early feature directed by John Cassavetes that shows his penchant for atmosphere and mood, even though the narrative leaves a lot to be desired.  Bobby Darin is impressive as a musician whose mood swings make his fellow band mates suffer, though nobody takes the brunt of his bad attitude more than his…

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Funny Face

BBB.5 (out of 5) Audrey Hepburn rarely looked lovelier than in this gorgeous musical comedy, inspired loosely by the career of photographer Richard Avedon. One of the most beautifully photographed colour films ever made (and oddly enough not directed by Vincente Minnelli), this Stanley Donen charmer stars Fred Astaire as a magazine photographer (a la Avedon) who…

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Damn Yankees

BBBB.5 (out of 5) Ray Walston is hilarious as the devil (here known as Mr. Applegate) come to earth to seduce disgruntled Washington Senators’ fan Joe Boyd (Robert Shafer) into entering a Faustian pact with him: Joe gets to become the greatest baseball player ever on earth in exchange for his immortal soul. It’s a done…

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