America, America

BBBBB (out of 5) After a decade of scintillating stage and literary adaptations, director Elia Kazan turns to more autobiographical material with a beautifully wrought film that might just be his masterpiece.  Himself born to a Greek family in Istanbul, Kazan tells the tale of his uncle who, in the late nineteenth century, conceived of…

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Move Over, Darling

BBB.5 (out of 5) Production on Something’s Gotta Give was well under way when its star Marilyn Monroe overdosed and died in early 1962, halting production of the one film Twentieth Century-Fox was keeping running on their Hollywood backlot during a financially dire time for them (Cleopatra was draining all their funds during its years-long…

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The Great Escape

BBB.5 (out of 5) A huge cast of actors is assembled for this exciting wartime adventure. Steve McQueen heads the group as an American soldier in a Nazi Prisoner-Of-War camp who decides to join in the fun when his fellow inmates, mostly British with some Americans, engineer the perfect escape. Tunnel digging, guard bribing and much…

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Irma La Douce

BB.5 (out of 5) The idea here was to reunite the cast and director of The Apartment and create yet another successful masterpiece that would please both critics and audiences. The result was probably favourable to audiences at the time, but forty years down the road it doesn’t look nearly as good as their previous…

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Bye Bye Birdie

BB (out of 5) Weak adaptation of the hit Broadway musical marks the film debut of Dick Van Dyke, recreating his role from the theatrical version. When Elvis-like superstar Conrad Birdie (Jesse Pearson) is recruited to go off to war and leave millions of screaming female fans stranded without his music, his managers decide to…

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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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Tom Jones

BBBB (out of 5) Deliciously bawdy adaptation of Henry Fielding’s popular 19th-century novel about a handsome rogue (Albert Finney) who runs amok seducing women and infuriating jealous husbands. Along the way he also manages to find out the truth behind his parentage, including the events that led up to his being orphaned as an infant…

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The Cardinal

BBBB (out of 5) Otto Preminger exposed the complicated morality of American politics in 1962’s Advise And Consent, then bit off an even bigger piece to chew the following year with this sobering look at the world of organized religion. Tom Tryon is excellent as a Catholic priest from New York who rises to the ranks…

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Love With The Proper Stranger

BBBB (out of 5) Steve McQueen plays a loose-living New York City musician who thinks he’s going to have a great day when he gets himself a high-paying gig. The prospect of enjoyment is shattered, however, when a girl (Natalie Wood) shows up and announces that she is pregnant thanks to a night they spent…

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The Haunting (1963)

BBB.5 (out of 5) Shy, neurotic Julie Harris lives under the thumb of her snotty sister and pushy brother-in-law, escaping them successfully enough to make it to a country estate where she has been invited by a psychiatrist (Richard Johnson) interested in the paranormal.  Her psychic abilities are paired up with those of a pushy, glamorous…

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Cleopatra (1963)

BBBB (out of 5) Yes, it’s the most damnably long movie in all cinema history, but if you’re in the right frame of mind you’ll have a great time. Elizabeth Taylor stars as the famed monarch of Egypt who first romanced Julius Caesar (Rex Harrison), which makes up the first two hours of the movie, 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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