Adapting the TV presentation to a filmed version was actually Fonda's idea, and to keep costs down a relatively low profile, young director, Sidney Lumet was chosen. Good choice. The Reginald Rose screenplay was kept, but he was able to fill in more backstory on the 12 jurors, as well as including a few short scenes outside of the jury's deliberation room. Lumet's staging is incredibly effective in terms of using the space to accentuate the emotions, as well as…
The Stranger 1946
Welles must have been smarting from the fate The Magnificent Ambersons suffered after RKO cut over an hour from it and destroyed the removed scenes. It's a pretty straightforward story with a clear-cut bad guy in Franz Kindler (Welles) and his relentless pursuer, Mr. Wilson (Edward G. Robinson) and featured Loretta Young as the unwitting bride-to-be of Kindler, Mary Longstreet. It bears more than a small resemblance to Hitchcock's superb Shadow of a Doubt, featuring one of Welles' frequent collaborators,…
For Your Eyes Only 1981
Continuing a slow tour through Bondland, and this was a marked improvement over Moonraker, but I'm really dreading a revisit to Octopussy, because that is the nadir for me. Only The Spy Who Loved Me rises above mediocre in the Moore canon, but at least this one is in the upper region of mediocre. It's serviceable, and definitely has its moments, especially the first hour, with a slightly comic car chase, a couple of solid skeet skiing, but it also…
The Graduate 1967
When I saw this as a kid, I could relate to the story, to Ben & Elaine, and I absolutely had the young boy hots for Ann Bancroft, and she went back and forth between scaring me and turning me on. When I first saw it, that last shot just seemed funny and triumphant, but I wasn't old enough to catch the "so, now what?" hanging question.
Now, having seen it several times over the years, I just marvel at Nichols…
Cléo from 5 to 7 1962
Sounds real uplifting, doesn't it? Follow a woman around for a couple hours as she contemplates a possible death sentence from a doctor's diagnosis. Cheerful stuff. Only in this case, Agnes Varda never goes for some Camille-like tearful melodrama, instead we spend a couple hours (90 minutes actually) on a traipse through Paris. A session with composer Michel Legrand, since Cleo is a mildly popular singer, a coffee break, some shopping for a hat, even spying Jean-Luc-Godard and Anna Karina…
Forty Guns 1957
Sam Fuller's most fully realized Western is also Barbara Stanwyck's last great film role. Shot in b&w Cinemascope, it's also a great looking film from start to finish. From several immersive tracking shots, to a set of close-ups that Leone would riff on in the Dollars Trilogy, to that amazing opening segment with Stanwyck and her 40 dragoons (40 Thieves) riding right into our face, Sam Fuller sure knew how to capture attention.
The noir comparisons are plenty, and the…
Return to Glennascaul: A Story That Is Told in Dublin 1953
"I have trouble with my distributors too"
A short campfire type of ghost story that's old as a creaky gate, but still a fun watch. Filmed during a break while making Othello and helmed by Hilton Edwards, who played Brabantino in Othello. It's standard materializing ghosts material, pleasant enough, with a couple of good light moments. "It was a dark and stormy night..."
The Fabelmans 2022
Autobiography as a fictional, or party fictional family drama, it does tend to be episodic, but thankfully, most of those episodes are well staged and acted. This is Spielberg's origin story, as he remember it, or at least as he wants us to experience it. He's a craftsman, and this is a major release film, so he wants us to laugh, to cry, to commiserate, and you know, buy tickets. So Spielberg chooses to go beyond a simple tale of…
Pick your symbolisms, fear of fatherhood, industrial madness, sexual terror, dreams and nightmares, Philadelphia, or whatever works, but after seeing it multiple times, I just let it wash over me. It's such a grand confluence of surrealism, avant-garde, horror, comedy, and inscrutable enigma that defining it, or trying to, is beside the point. Sometimes I feast on the images, sometimes the sound, but it has fascinated me since my first time seeing it as a midnight movie sometime around 1979…
La Femme Nikita 1990
"Sometimes all you need is a girl and a gun."
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold 1965
James Bond, and Jason Bourne may be more exciting and fun to watch, but you have to love this seedy John Le Carre tale, helmed by Martin Ritt. It isn't remotely romantic, has no gadgets, no real romance, and no real good or bad spies.
"What the hell do you think spies are? Moral philosophers measuring everything they do against the word of God or Karl Marx? They're not! They're just a bunch of seedy, squalid bastards like me: little…
Terry Malick's 1973 debut feature didn't play at too many theaters. I didn't get a chance to see it until 1977, at a university screening, so I'm thankful that my first introduction wasn't a washed out print on Cinemax or something worse. I honestly can't remember how I responded to Spacek's flat and disinterested narration then, or the matter-of-fact style of the violence, but I loved the way it was photographed, and the way that the film didn't ask us…