Some Like It Hot

BBBB (out of 5) This hysterical comedy of gender-errors was recently ranked the greatest American comedy of the century by the American Film Institute. It’s a laughfest that begins when struggling musicians Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis witness the St. Valentine’s Day massacre in Prohibition-era Chicago and are spotted by the gangsters who did it. To hide…

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The Bridge (Die Brucke)

BBBB (out of 5) In this powerful anti-war film, seven students in a tiny German village join the war effort at the tender age of 16 with dreams of becoming heroes. The Second World War is almost over, but they have every intention of doing their part. Imagine their disappointment, then, when their dreams of…

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Imitation Of Life (1959)

BBBB (out of 5) The subliminal messages in this Douglas Sirk soaper are just as timely as they were in All That Heaven Allows, even though the overall effect isn’t quite as impressive. Its story tells of a single mother (Lana Turner) raising her daughter (Sandra Dee in the grownup scenes) while also hoping to make…

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Anatomy Of A Murder

BBBB (out of 5) Small-town lawyer James Stewart returns from a fishing trip to discover that he is required to defend a soldier who shot a bartender at the town’s local eatery. The defendant (Ben Gazzara in one of his earliest roles) killed the murder victim because he allegedly raped his provocatively sexy wife (Lee Remick, also…

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Pillow Talk

BBBB (out of 5) The first of three hugely successful romantic comedies starring Doris Day and Rock Hudson is still the most popular, and despite the fact that much of its content is hopelessly dated, the enjoyment of it is not. Day plays a successful, single interior decorator who is frustrated with a songwriter (Hudson) with whom…

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Ben-Hur

BBB.5 (out of 5) “Gorgeously junky” is how uncredited screenwriter Gore Vidal described this pseudo-Bible epic, and no truer word could possibly be said about it. Everything about this expansive screen version of Gen. Lew Wallace’s novel is as loud as it can be:  no expense was spared anywhere (I’m sure even the water that…

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The Diary Of Anne Frank

BBBB (out of 5) Countless versions of this story, including Broadway revivals, television movies and even an Oscar-winning documentary have been made since this was filmed in 1959. Based on the titular character’s true-life diaries (adapted to the stage before being brought to the screen), it tells of two Jewish families living in Amsterdam, hidden…

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Room At The Top

BBBB (out of 5) Mix glossy soap opera with gritty kitchen-sink drama and you have this enjoyable British import. A working-class industrialist (Laurence Harvey) trying to make it up the corporate ladder indulges in two love affairs: one with a sexy, older and unhappily married Frenchwoman (Simone Signoret), and one with his boss’s young daughter…

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Black Orpheus (Orfeu Negro)

BBBB (out of 5) Gorgeous, musical film version of the Orpheus myth set during the carnival in Rio De Janeiro. Orpheus is now a guitar-playing streetcar worker who falls in love with Eurydice, a young girl who has come to Rio to visit her cousin and see the festival. No matter that he already has…

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The Nun’s Story

BBBB (out of 5) Audrey Hepburn gives one of her most powerful performances in this highly respectable drama about a nun whose personal ambitions conflict with her desire to stay with her order. Excelling in her medical studies, she is sent to the Belgian Congo to work in a hospital beside a gruff, disrespectful doctor (Peter…

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Wild Strawberries (Smultronstallet)

BBBBB (out of 5) Ingmar Bergman’s probing, sensitive drama stars an excellent Victor Sjöström as a professor who is nearing his twilight years. On a road trip with his vindictive daughter-in-law (Ingrid Thulin) towards a ceremony that will honour his career as a doctor, he ruminates on his life, about what made it fulfilling or…

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Suddenly, Last Summer

BBB (out of 5) Tennessee Williams wrote some pretty maudlin plays to deal with his own sexual guilt, but none was ever more laughably ridiculous than this one.  Katharine Hepburn plays the mother of a now-dead dandy named Sebastian who died under circumstances she’d rather leave undisclosed. In order to keep her secret safe, she brings…

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