We‘re still working on the site,
so please bookmark this page.
Stay Tuned!™

You are visitor no. since January 1, 2018

Where do you want to go today?


The next River Trip (#43) dates are: (Confirmed, save the date) Thurs July 25 - Sunday July 29, 2024.

How long do you have to wait? Click here.

Spread the word.

Join WNM Private Email List

The River!!

Floating Info (FAQ)

What the CIA sees when we are floating!

Wednesday Night Gear? WNM GEAR

Wednesday Night Memorial Photo Tour WNM Photo Gallery

Recent movies screened by our discerning staff (in order of accepted reviews):

WNM Movie Night Liner Notes

Note: We are now database driven; but there are some gaps. As these links get filled in, we are getting closer and closer to being caught up.

HOME | 2024 | 2023 | 2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000 | 1999 | 1998

Search Feature

Search Title: Search Director: Year Seen:  


Title: Director [Year]
"The Matrix" Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski [1999]
"Rebecca" Alfred Hitchcock [1940]
"Hatari!" Howard Hawks [1962]
"Body Heat" Lawrence Kasdan [1981]
"Rosemary‘s Baby" Roman Polanski [1968]
"Anatomy of a Murder" Otto Preminger [1959]
"One Flew Over the Cuckoo‘s Nest"* Milos Foreman [1975]
"Key Largo"* John Huston [1948]
"Love At First Bite"* Stan Dragoti [1979]
"Reanimator"* Stuart Gordon [1985]
"Gallipoli"* Peter Weir [1981]
"Arsenic and Old Lace"* Frank Capra [1944]
"House Of Games"* David Mamet [1987]
"Whatever Happened to Baby Jane" Robert Aldrich [1962]
"Gotham"* Lloyd Fonvielle [1988]
"Being John Malkovich" Spike Jonze [1999]
"The Three Musketeers" Richard Lester [1934]
"The Four Musketeers" Richard Lester [1974]
"The Wicker Man" Robin Hardy [1973]
"Sleuth" Joseph L. Mankiewicz [1972]
"I‘m All Right Jack" John Boulting [1959]
"Deliverance" John Boorman [1972]
"It‘s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" Stanley Kramer [1963]
"Hopscotch" Stanley Kramer [1980]
"Go Tell the Spartans" Ted Post [1978]
"Gaslight" George Cukor [1944]
"The Lavender Hill Mob" Alec Guinness [1951]
"The Music Man" Morton DaCosta [1962]
"Airplane" Abrahans, Zucker, and Zucker [1980]
"Shakes the Clown"* Bob Goldthwait [1991]
"Harold and Maude" Hal Ashby [1971]
"Mars Attacks" Tim Burton [1996]
"The Great Escape" John Sturgis [1963]
"Out of the Past" Jacques Tourneur [1947]
"The Party" Blake Edwards [1968]
"Little Shop of Horrors" Roger Corman [1960]
"To Kill a Mockingbird" Robert Mulligan [1962]
"The Ladykillers" Alexander Mackendrick [1955]
"The Day of the Jackal" Fred Zinnemann [1973]
"It Happened One Night"* Frank Capra [1934]
"Chicken Run" Nick Park [1999]
"The Dead Pool"* Buddy Van Horn [1988]
"The Great Race" Blake Edwards [1965]
"Rosemary's Baby"* Roman Polanski [1968]
"One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"* Milos Foreman [1975]
"I'm All Right Jack"* John Boulting [1959]
"It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World"* Stanley Kramer [1963]

* Indicates that our staff is still researching the information for the review, Stay Tuned!™

Liner Notes.

© 2000 WNM and the respective authors. "All Rights Reserved."

"The Matrix" [Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski] 1999

"A computer hacker learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against the controllers of it."


Back to the Top.

"Rebecca" [Alfred Hitchcock] 1940

"Alfred Hitchcock made three films that were based upon Daphne Du Maurier works, Rebecca [1940], Jamaica Inn [1939] and The Birds [1963]. Du Maurier specialized in writing novels that successfully combined both suspense and romance, making her material naturally attractive to Hitchcock.

"Rebecca is the most respected of those three films, nominated for eleven Oscars, including best actor, actress, supporting actress and director, it won best picture and cinematography. The cast was a strong one. The leading roles of Maxim de Winter and his second wife were played by Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine, with Judith Anderson playing the menacing role of Mrs. Danvers.

"The advent of WWII and the interest of David O. Selznick drew Hitchcock to the USA. Rebecca was Hitchcock‘s first Hollywood film and began what was a stormy relationship between the two men. Selznick tried to `americanize‘ this film, while Hitchcock fought a successful rear-guard action to retain effective control over what resulted.

"Rebecca is a ghost story with no ghost. Rebecca is the dead, regal first wife of Maxim de Winter, who remains haunted by her memory. He tries to bury this obsession via a change of scenery and eventually by remarrying. But he then returns to his home where the memory of Rebecca still casts a meloncholy spell kept alive by his house manager Mrs. Danvers. Though dead, it is Rebecca that still presides over the estate. This mania sets in motion the events that lead to tragedy. George Barnes skillfully evokes this mood with his black and white cinematography.

"PS: For those who nurse a depraved liking for the old Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes movies, Nigel Bruce is a supporting character."


Back to the Top.

"Hatari!" [Howard Hawks] 1962

"Hatari! [1962] was a big budget film that reunited John Wayne with his favorite director Howard Hawks. Hawks directed Wayne in several successful films: Rio Lobo [1970], El Dorado [1967], Rio Bravo [1959] and Red River [1948], which are both considered classics. While not solely responsible as director for John Wayne‘s reputation as an American icon, Hawks gets the lion‘s share.

"Hatari! contains a mixture of comedy and adventure. Filmed in what was then Tanganyika, it is a pleasant film, not complicated, suitable for young and old. Although extremely long, running 158 minutes, it is not boring. This film is noted, both for its Henry Mancini scoring and its wide-screen color cinematography. An excellent example of a film made purely to please the audience, it makes no statement."


Back to the Top.

"Body Heat" [Lawrence Kasdan] 1981

"As film-noir Body Heat [1981] has three strikes against it: (1) it is modern when it is generally recognized that good film-noir stopped in the 1950s, (2) it is a slick product filmed in color when it is generally recognized that film-noir should be both gritty looking and black and white, and (3) it is derivative of the famous film-noir Double Indemnity [1942], using some dialogue that seems as if it were written by Raymond Chandler.

"But Body Heat also has three things going for it: Lawrence Kasdan wrote a good script, he did a fine job of direction, and the pivotal lead character is an amazingly believable villain.

"The theme is an old one. Can a woman generate enough sexual heat to get a man to do evil for her? Whether Body Heat is believable or not depends critically on the strength of its lead character, Matty Walker, played by Kathleen Turner.

"Set in the damp heat of southern Florida to accentuate the film‘s mood, the script, direction and supporting cast are all more than good, but it is Kathleen Turner‘s performance that makes this film succeed. This was the role of a lifetime for Turner. Amazingly enough it was also her first role, one which made her career."


Back to the Top.

"Rosemary‘s Baby" [Roman Polanski] 1968

"Rosemary‘s Baby [1968] was one of the best American horror films of the 1960s, combining fine direction, acting and writing. As horror films go, few are better. Rosemary‘s Baby was a showcase for the talents of Roman Polanski, who was nominated for a best screenplay Oscar. Ruth Gordon won as best supporting actress. Mia Farrow‘s performance as Rosemary in the lead role was also notable. Previous to this she had had only small roles. Her work in this film is credited with beginning her career as a major actress. The pioneer director of American cinema verite, John Cassavetes, plays Rosemary‘s husband.

"This was Polanski‘s first American film and his second horror film, the other being Repulsion [1965]. Polanski not only directed but also wrote the screenplay for Rosemary‘s Baby, based upon the popular Ira Levin novel. One year later in 1969 Charles Manson ordered the murder of Polanski‘s wife and child.

"Rosemary‘s Baby concerns itself with the fears that a young wife develops during her first pregnancy. The story is told from Rosemary‘s point of view. Tension develops as the viewer tries to determine whether Rosemary is slipping into an insanity induced by her hormonal imbalance as the end of her hard pregnancy approaches or whether the biblical horror that she fears is in fact really happening to her right in the middle of an upperclass condo in modern Manhattan.

"As an aside, Rosemary‘s Baby was produced by William Castle (uncredited). Castle was famous for gimmicky, shlock horror films. I suppose, considering his background, that keeping his name off the credits of a fine film was a good idea. How he found the talent and funds to do this film properly is a mystery and it marks the zenith of his career. His life inspired the film Matinee [1993].

"Castle as both producer and director was a Hollywood legend. He was a real PT Barnum type. For his film Macabre, $1000 life insurance policies were issued to moviegoers against death by scare. House on Haunted Hill was filmed in "Emergo" which meant that a ghost on a wire zipped across the darkened theatre at a key moment. The Tingler was filmed in "Percepto" wherein several house seats were wired with seat buzzers to zap patrons in the ass at key moments. 13 Ghosts was filmed in "Illusion-O", wherein patrons were given special glasses to see the ghosts. In Mr. Sardonicus the audience was polled live to choose one of two endings ... but only one was shot ... naturally. Finally, for 13 Frightened Girls, he found 13 girls who had never been actresses and had them act as spies fresh out of finishing school. This is supposedly so attrociously bad, that it‘s good. His last film, Bug, was about fire-breathing giant cockroaches released from deep underground by an earthquake. What a guy!"


Back to the Top.

"Anatomy of a Murder" [Otto Preminger] 1959

"Anatomy of a Murder [1959] was directed by Otto Preminger. It was nominated for best picture, actor, supporting actor, cinematography and screenplay. Unfortunately, it screened the same year as Ben Hur [1959]. Nevertheless, it is a superb film that has retained its reputation over the years, while Ben Hur has lost some of its polish. Written by Duke Ellington, Anatomy did win a Grammy for best sound track.

"Preminger used this film to satirize the american legal system and the people in it. It is considered by lawyers to be the most accurate version of a trial ever presented on screen. It is based upon a novel written in 1956 under a pseudonym by Michigan Supreme Court Justice John D. Voelker. From the perspective of the law, several issues are covered in this film. The insanity defense and the line between witness preparation and inappropriate coaching are two of them.

"The cast is both excellent and of great breadth, with Jimmy Stewart, George C. Scott and Ben Gazarra. Jimmy Stewart gives one of his best performances. Although in a supporting role, Lee Remick is also good, being given some serious material for a change.

"In a curious coincidence, the actor who played the judge, Joseph Welch, was indeed a lawyer who later became a federal judge. He rose to fame representing the USArmy in the Army-McCarthy hearings."


Back to the Top.

"Whatever Happened to Baby Jane" [Robert Aldrich] 1962

"Whatever Happened to Baby Jane [1962] is sometimes classed as a horror film, sometimes as a thriller. It is considered a very good, if not great, film. It was nominated for five Oscars, including best actress for Bette Davis and supporting actor for Victor Buono. Unfortunately, the year it competed, it ran into Lawrence of Arabia [1963], To Kill A Mockingbird [1962] and The Miracle Worker [1962]. Too tough. It did win for best costume design.

"Whatever Happened To Baby Jane was directed by Robert Aldrich, a solid director of many thriller and action films, including the great film-noir Kiss Me Deadly [1955]. Baby Jane was based upon the novel by Henry Feller and stars Bette Davis, Joan Crawford and Victor Buono. The Aldrich/Feller/Davis team would also later do Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte [1964].

"Baby Jane is considered by many to be a black comedy and a camp classic. The film concerns the descent into madness of a mean, aging actress, Jane Hudson, played by Bette Davis. Thematically, the descent of a woman into madness has been handled several times, most notably perhaps by Roman Polanski‘s Repulsion [1965]. Because both were insane aging actresses, the character Jane Hudson has often been compared to Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard [1950].

"Jane is the caregiver for her invalid sister Blanche, played by Joan Crawford. As Davis terrorizes Crawford in this film, those familiar with Crawford‘s private life may consider this to have been some sort of psychic justice.

"It is said that Davis and Crawford hated one another, Davis supposedly quoted "I wouldn‘t piss on Crawford if she was on fire". Some of the slaps and kicks in this film seemed real enough on the set, leading some to declare that the acting jobs both did were so good because neither were acting."


Back to the Top.

"Being John Malkovich" [Spike Jonze] 1999

"Being John Malkovich [1999] was the "best film of 1999" according to Roger Ebert. This film was written by Charlie Kaufman and directed by Spike Jonze in his directorial debut. It was nominated for 3 Academy Awards, best director, best original screenplay and best supporting actress. It lost out to American Beauty [1999].

"This film is an adult fantasy. Craig Schwartz (John Cusak) is a struggling street puppeteer. In order to make some money, Craig takes a job as a filing clerk for a strange company. One day he accidentally discovers a door . . . a portal into the brain of John Malkovich (played by John Malkovich)! For 15 minutes, he experiences the ultimate head trip -- being John Malkovich, after which he‘s dumped onto the New Jersey turnpike!

"With his beautiful office mate Maxine (Catherine Keener) and his pet-obsessed wife (Cameron Diaz), they hatch a plan (here comes the accountants!) to let others into John‘s brain for just $200 a trip. :-)

"This film will be screened from DVD in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. It is slightly long, running 113 minutes."

              --- John Fedel

Back to the Top.

"The Three Musketeers" [Richard Lester] 1973

The Three Musketeers [1973] was directed by Richard Lester. This film had a very strong ensemble cast: Oliver Reed, Michael York, Richard Chamberlain, Charlton Heston, Raquel Welch, Faye Dunaway, Frank Finlay and Christopher Lee, among others.

"Considered a fine film, this was a well-received by audiences. Almost everyone who saw it, enjoyed it. The Four Musketeers [1974] was filmed at the same time as The Three Musketeers and so has the same strong cast.

"Whereas the first film is an action/comedy with a fine balance between the two, the sequel is a bit more serious. The visuals and timing were considered to be superb in the first film. The sequel is considered quite good, but not as good as the first.

"The simultaneous filming of both of these films is highly unusual. Richard Lester was successfully sued by the actors who claimed that they were told that the filming was for one movie only. Ooops! These two films are a monument to sharp practice."


Back to the Top.

"The Four Musketeers" [Richard Lester] 1974

"The Four Musketeers [1973] was directed by Richard Lester. This film had a very strong ensemble cast: Oliver Reed, Michael York, Richard Chamberlain, Charlton Heston, Raquel Welch, Faye Dunaway, Frank Finlay and Christopher Lee, among others.

"Considered a fine film, this was a well-received by audiences. Almost everyone who saw it, enjoyed it. The Four Musketeers [1974] was filmed at the same time as The Three Musketeers and so has the same strong cast.

"Whereas the first film is an action/comedy with a fine balance between the two, the sequel is a bit more serious. The visuals and timing were considered to be superb in the first film. The sequel is considered quite good, but not as good as the first.

"The simultaneous filming of both of these films is highly unusual. Richard Lester was successfully sued by the actors who claimed that they were told that the filming was for one movie only. Ooops! These two films are a monument to sharp practice."


Back to the Top.

"The Wicker Man" [Robin Hardy] 1973

"The Wicker Man [1973] was directed by Robin Hardy and written by Anthony Shaffer. It stars Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee and Britt Ekland. It is considered one of the best and most original horror films ever made, a classic of British cinema.

"The Wicker Man is a rare film in which the atmosphere draws you along slowly into the horror which is the hidden core of the film. Unlike the Hitchcock/Bloch‘s Psycho [1960], The Wicker Man builds slowly and evenly until the film‘s conclusion, drawing the viewer deeper and deeper into suspense. Whether you consider this a horror film or a deeply eerie and erotic thriller is a matter of opinion.

"Edward Woodward gives an excellent performance as a pious police officer who is unequipped to believe what is happening around him. Christopher Lee portrays the Lord of the Scottish island, Summerisle, where the film takes place. Lee believes this to be his best work on screen.

"Anthony Shaffer wrote the screenplay. Shaffer is known for his work with Hitchcock, Frenzy [1972], and for writing both the great play Sleuth and the subsequent fine film version of it Sleuth [1972]. He also wrote screenplays for a number of Agatha Christie novels.

"The music has become a weak point of The Wicker Man. It was filmed as a contemporary piece and the early 1970‘s folk-based soundtrack has become recognizeably dated. However, although the tunes are folksy, the lyrics are definitely not what Joan Baez would be caught singing."


Back to the Top.

"Sleuth" [Joseph L. Mankiewicz] 1972

"Sleuth [1972] was a film version of Anthony Shaffer‘s successful play. The screenplay was written by Shaffer and the film was directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. Sleuth was nominated for best director and score. It also got two well-deserved best actor nominations.

"Sleuth was Mankiewicz‘s last film. Mankiewicz directed 22 films. He is known for The Ghost and Mrs. Muir [1947] and the expensive, long star vehicle Cleopatra [1963]. Cleopatra cost $44 millions in 1963. Adjusted for inflation it remains by far the most expensive Hollywood film ever made. Mankiewicz reputation rests primarily on All About Eve [1950] a truly great film which he also wrote.

"Considered by many to be a superb film, Sleuth has a very short cast. In essence there are only two people, played by Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine, who engage in a verbal duel with very high stakes. Both gave tour-de-force performances in what was a nearly pure acting vehicle. Virtually all dialog, this is in essence a filmed version of the play, running slightly longer than two hours. However, unlike a play, the camera can get in close. The direction and acting both had to be very good indeed to keep the audience interest and few find this film boring.

"The play concerns a famous mystery writer who likes to play games and who is involved in a crime motivated by class envy. To say more would spoil the plot."


Back to the Top.

"I‘m All Right Jack" [John Boulting] 1959

"This film needs a review."


Back to the Top.

"Deliverance" [John Boorman] 1972

"Deliverance [1972] was based upon the poet James Dickey‘s first novel and Dickey also wrote the screenplay. It is one of the best screen adaptations of a novel. The director, John Boorman, does an excellent job capturing the sinister mood and intensity of the situation that the characters are trapped in. The film stars Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight, Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox. It received moninations for best picture, director and editing.

"Boorman started his directing career with Catch Us If You Can [1965], which tried to recreate the success of The Beatles in A Hard Day‘s Night [1964] using instead the Dave Clark Five. He then embarked on a series of films that focused on violent situations and how men react to them: Point Blank [1967], Hell In The Pacific [1968] and finally, Deliverance.

"Deliverance concerns four middle-aged Atlanta businessmen who decide to ride down a fast and remote river that will soon disappear underneath the backwaters of a newly completed dam. The backwoods locals deeply resent the dam, since it will destroy their homes and way of life. Seen as wealthy big-city interlopers, the businessmen are hated. They place themselves in a very bad situation that they both don‘t recognize and that they can‘t get out of.

"Deliverance can be seen as a "baptism of fire" film for suburban men and bears some resemblance to war films that focus on small groups of men. What sets this film apart is how well the intensity of the situation is sustained. Watching this film is not a pleasant experience. The main actors do a superb job of making you sense how trapped they are.

"The author Dickey appears in the film as a sheriff."


Back to the Top.

"It‘s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" [Stanley Kramer] 1963

"It‘s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (and that is irritating to type) is a legendary comedy. While it is one of the better comedies ever made, like virtually all comedies it shares the same fate as Rodney Dangerfield. Although nominated for six Oscars, it won only for best sound effects, and the other five nominations were for equally obscure categories.

"This film has a super cast. Virtually anyone who was anybody in comedy at the time it was made is in it. In fact, that was eventually a goal of the film. Since any farce must have a "straight man", Spencer Tracy fills the bill here. However, even for a film of this length (175 minutes) some are relegated to cameo roles.

"The principal comedians are: 
			Milton Berle
			Sid Caesar
			Ethel Merman
			Buddy Hackett
			Mickey Rooney
			Dick Shawn
			Phil Silvers
			Jonathan Winters
			Jim Backus
with cameos by:
			The Three Stooges
			Jimmy Durante
			Peter Falk
			Edward Everett Horton
			Zasu Pitts
			Carl Reiner
			Jesse White
			Jerry Lewis
			Jack Benny
			Don Knotts
			Buster Keaton
			Andy Devine
			Eddie Anderson ... and several more.

"As you might expect, by trying to cram as many comedy skits in a film as there are comedians in this cast, you aren‘t going to get much in the way of drama or in-depth character development. Nevertheless, as broad comedy this film is very successful.

"The film was directed by Stanley Kramer who teamed with Spencer Tracy in several great films, Inherit the Wind [1960], Judgement At Nuremberg [1961] and Guess Who‘s Coming To Dinner [1967]. In this film Kramer wanted to create the best comedy ever made. Although he didn‘t succeed, as the project tended to run away with itself, it was a noble effort. Kramer had a large budget and spared no expense on special effects or cinematography. Filmed in 70mm, this film is very impressive on a large screen.

"What‘s the film about? The stupid things will people do to make money. Is it realistic? Hell, it‘s a comedy, so who cares. On a deeper level, consider both today‘s Survivor and Big Brother casts. The film can‘t be far from reality now, can it?"


Back to the Top.

"Hopscotch" [Ronald Neame] 1980

"Hopscotch [1980] is a reasonably well-written caper comedy and a strong vehicle for one of Matthau‘s crusty, but likeable characters. He is a stand-out here as a disgruntled former employee of the CIA who gets his jollies by threatening to write a gossipy, tell-all book. Matthau‘s performance raises this film above the mediocre.

"Written by Bryan Forbes, the screenplay is not exactly believable, but it is enjoyable. The film sports a relatively strong cast, including Glenda Jackson, Sam Waterston, Ned Beatty and Herbert Lom.

"Hopscotch was directed by Ronald Neame, who was nominated for four Oscars in the late 1940s. While not a shooting star, he is a polymath, getting nominations for producing, writing and cinemetography. For the last half of his career Neame concentrated on directing, where his best film is probably The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie [1969] and best-known undoubtedly The Poseidon Adventure [1972].

"Matthau‘s most notable films are Charley Varrick [1973], The Odd Couple [1968], The Fortune Cookie [1966] and Charade [1963]."


Back to the Top.

"Go Tell the Spartans" [Ted Post] 1978

"Go Tell the Spartans [1978] is a star-crossed, little-seen film. It was directed by Ted Post, who is primarily known as a TV director. Shot on a budget of only one million dollars, the lead actor, Burt Lancaster, had to donate $250,000 to finish it. Immediately following the NY Film Critics award for best film, its distributor went bankrupt and with that the film was pulled from distribution.

"This is a fine, if not superb film. Its dialog and situations are probably the most realistic of any Vietnam era war film. It is an anti-war film, not as striking as All Quiet on the Western Front [1930], but more accessible to our generation who remember the Vietnam war and the mistakes made by the military and civilian command structure that got us into a mess that ultimately cost millions of lives.

"Lacking a rational shooting budget, Go Tell the Spartans was not filmed on location and has shoddy sets. If I were to venture a guess, lack of budget probably had to do with the subject matter and the historical proximity to our defeat. Rubbing noses into the objectionable is enjoyed only by masochists.

"The strengths of this film are its writing, the acting of Burt Lancaster and its choice to go against the flow. The screenplay was adapated by Wendell Mayes from the book Incident at Muc Wa by Daniel Ford."


Back to the Top.

"Gaslight" [George Cukor] 1944

"Gaslight is the Patrick Hamilton play about a young wife whose husband has a secret and murderous past. Two movie versions of the play were made, the first Gaslight [1939] and the second Gaslight [1944].

"Gaslight [1944] is considered by some as the difinitive pychological thriller. Directed by Beorge Cukor, it is a fine film that was nominated for seven academy awards. Gaslight stars Ingrid Bergman and Chrles Boyer, both of whom turn in superb performances. It won a best actress Oscar for Ingrid Bergman and another for art direction. Gaslight was also Angela Lansbury‘s first film, for which she got a nomination for best supporting actress.


"The first film version is considered by critics as slightly better, but it is rarely seen and has a relatively unknown cast. It was a small film but superbly scripted and acted. The earlier version would probably have dropped into true obscurity, except that MGM tried to destroy all prints of it, leading one to conclude that the critics may be right."


Back to the Top.

"The Lavender Hill Mob" [Alec Guinness] 1951

"The Lavender Hill Mob [1951] is perhaps Alec Guinness‘ best-loved comedy. Not entirely coincidental, it was also a critical and commercial success for Ealing Studios, justifiably famous for its series of comedies in the 1950‘s.

"The film stars three great British comedic actors Alec Guinness, who was nominated for Best Actor here, Stanley Holloway and Sidney James. Holloway is perhaps best-known to American viewers as Eliza Doolittle‘s philosophical down-and-outer father Alfred in My Fair Lady [1964]. Sidney James was the central character in the Carry On series of British comedies.

"T.E.B. Clarke wrote the script and received an Oscar for it. In those much more innocent days, the author presented his research request to the Bank of England, asking them how a massive gold bullion robbery might occur. They actually told him how. Presumably, after the film‘s release bullion transfer policies were changed.

"The Lavender Hill Mob is about a dissatisfied insider and a couple of good-hearted, amiable crooks, who decide to rob the Bank of England. Although well-planned, because of a small and excusable mistake, a comedy of errors ensues.

"The idea that thieves could be this amiable seems rediculously dated. If you can put that aside, this is a very enjoyable film. For those who might be too jaded to do that, remember we still cherish a closely related myth, the hooker with the heart of gold. We all remember Pretty Woman [1990].

"As a piece of trivia, Audrey Hepburn was an unknown at this time and plays a latin tart in the opening scenes. This is a short film, running only 78 minutes"


Back to the Top.

"The Music Man" [Morton DaCosta] 1962

"Little needs to be said about this film. It is a superb screen treatment of musical Americana."


Back to the Top.

"Airplane" [Abrahans, Zucker, and Zucker] 1980

"By special request, this Wednesday night‘s film will be "Airplane!" (1980). An ex-fighter pilot with a longstanding fear of flying (due to yucky wartime experiences -- listen for Ethel Merman) follows his just-about-ex-girlfriend (a stewardess) onto a commercial aircraft. The flight crew gets sick (food poisoning?), and the celebrity mugging contest begins (OK, it began just a little earlier in the film). The famous names in front of the camera include Robert Hays, Julie Hagerty, Robert Stack, Lloyd Bridges, Peter Graves, Leslie Nielsen, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar... brings back memories of the days before there were IBM-PC‘s! (Try to figure how that train of thought switched tracks!) A Howard W. Koch production, written, directed and produced by Abrahans, Zucker, and Zucker (who also appear in minor roles in the movie). This is a spoof (duh!) of "Airport" and similar disaster movies. It‘s very funny, but you already knew that, didn‘t you?

"Airplane" (1980) was followed by "Airplane II: The Sequel" (1982). I must have seen it, but I don‘t really remember it, which is perhaps for the best. It‘s not as funny as the original, but it does have a different set of celebrity mugs to watch. I don‘t have a copy, but I thought I‘d mention it for completeness‘ sake.

"I also plan to have with me a copy of "Spaceship" (1983). Actually, although it says 1983 on the box, IMDB lists its correct title and date as "The Creature Wasn‘t Nice" (1981). I haven‘t seen it, but I‘ve heard someone talk about this movie -- Rick, was that you? I think it‘s probably bad. Bad. But, is it BAD? Don‘t know. It stars Leslie Nielsen (who appeared in Airplane), Cindy WIlliams, Pactrick Macnee, and Gerrit Graham. The USS Vertigo, a spaceship, is cruising around, when it picks up an alien something for study. The alien wants to study the crew, too: epithelialy! IMDB calls this a horror/comedy/musical. We won‘t see it. I fervently hope we won‘t see it. But, I‘ll have it on hand, just in case.

"Bottom line: Airplane. An important film... but not a a self-important one."

"There‘s no reason to become alarmed, and we hope you‘ll enjoy the rest of your flight. By the way, is there anyone on board who knows how to fly a plane?"

         Craig Milo Rogers

Back to the Top.

"Harold and Maude" [Hal Ashby] 1971

"Harold and Maude [1971] is a black comedy that was disliked by critics when it was released. However, fine films are sometimes disliked by critics and this is one for which good word of mouth has led to its becoming a cult classic. It remains easy to find in video stores.

"Harold and Maude is a coming-of-age film and a character study that revolves around a bright, introverted young man, Harold, who is obsessed with death. Played by Bud Cort, Harold meets a vivacious, irresposible and eccentric old woman, Maude, who is played by Ruth Gordon.

"Harold‘s mother is a socialite who one suspects never loved him. Maude takes the place of both mother and father to Harold. Maude‘s self-appointed task is to mentor Harold and by her example to break him out of his introversion and depression. Both give superb performances, but Gordon‘s really stands out.

"There is a strong anti-establishment and anti-war theme in this film, which is not surprising, since it was filmed in 1971 shortly after the Kent State killings. Strangely, at the time this film did not attract a counter-cultural following. That was to come years later.

"Hal Ashby directed. Among his other credits are Being There [1979], which is another well-respected and unusual comedy. The film was written by Colin Higgins, who went on to pen several comedies, including Nine to Five [1980]. Harold and Maude remains his best work.

"Note: Those of you who like classic cars and dislike wretched excess will not appreciate what Harold does to a Jaguar XKE.

"Note: Cat Stevens music saturates this movie."


Back to the Top.

"Mars Attacks" [Tim Burton] 1996

"Mars Attacks [1996] was directed by Tim Burton, who made Ed Wood [1994] and Batman [1989]. While this film is amusing at times, it isn‘t nearly in the same league as Airplane [1980]. If you are not familiar with the sci-fi films being parodied, this film may leave you flat. Burton has done much better work. The script let him down. Beetlejuice [1988] demonstrates that he can direct fine comedy when given the right material.

"Mars Attacks has a fine cast, among them Jack Nicholson and Glenn Close. But without good material they are underutilized.

"Still, this film is a good way to waste away 100 minutes and because it is a satire, it isn‘t irritatingly implausible as was Independence Day [1996]."


Back to the Top.

"The Great Escape" [John Sturgis] 1963

"The Great Escape [1963] is one of the most polished and appreciated films about war that had been made up until recently. Directed by John Sturgis it was based upon the book by Paul Brickhill and screenplay by James Clavell. The film is roughly based upon historic fact.

"This is one of the few four-star Hollywood films that did not win any Oscars. The Great Escape boasts a cast of well-recognized Hollywood male leads that all do fine jobs: Steve McQueen, James Garner, Charles Bronson and James Coburn. Also on hand are British veterans such as Richard Attenborough, Gordon Jackson and Donald Pleasance."


Back to the Top.

"Out of the Past" [Jacques Tourneur] 1947

"Out of the Past [1947] is a classic of film-noir. While noted for particular strong dialogue, some reviewers go so far as to call it a piece of B&W cinematic perfection. Directed by Jacques Tourneur, it stars Robert Mitchum, Kirk Douglas, Jane Greer and Rhonda Fleming.

"The screenplay was written by Geoffrey Home, which was a pseudonym for the author of the original novel it was based upon, Build My Gallows High, by Daniel Mainwaring. Mainwaring worked regularly for Hollywood, turning out B-grade crime pot-boilers year after year. His work here rises well above those. His other screenplay of note is Invasion of the Body Snatchers [1956].

"Oddly enough the director Jacques Tourneur had a similar career. He directed many forgettable B-grade films for Hollywood. However, he is well remembered as the collaborator of Val Lewton. Tourneur directed Cat People [1942] which is considered a masterpiece of dark mood and photographic art. This made him a good choice for a serious film-noir. On the strength of his few fine films, some place Tourneur in the same class as Welles, Ford and Hawkes.

"Unlike much film-noir, Out of the Past is an adult and complex film. Mitchum and Greer give fine performances. Their characters are complex and conflicted. The film builds slowly. Tourneur starts simply and adds layers of mood and artful lighting slowly as the main character becomes every more trapped by circumstance."


Back to the Top.

"The Party" [Blake Edwards] 1968

"The Party [1968] is a Blake Edwards‘ comedy that is consciously loosely structured. It consists of a number of funny gags that take place at a trendy, then contemporary, Hollywood party in the late 1960‘s. The lead character is Hrundi V. Bakshi, an inept and clumsy actor played by Peter Sellers. It is considered a predecessor to the Naked Gun style of film. It is also a recasting of Inspector Clouseau in a new venue.

"This film is perhaps best known for its secondary character Michelle Monet, played by Claudine Longet, who sings a bit in the film.

"So what? Who the heck is Claudine Longet?

"You are unfamiliar with Chevy Chase/Jane Curtin skits on Saturday Night Live. Shame, shame!

"Claudine Longet was born in Paris in 1942. Dealt an unusually successful deck of DNA, she became a mega man-magnet, showcasing her talents in the Folies Bergere. While touring to the Tropicana in Las Vegas, she was seen by Andy Williams, rapidly married, and they had three children together.

"It seems Claudine could sing a bit. Marrying Andy Williams was a seriously good move. Claudine started doing a series of successful pop albums for A&M records in the late 1960s. While not quite as successful as The Carpenters, the comparable outfit of the 1970s (Claudine wasn‘t a songwriter of note like Richard Carpenter), she did cover material for Bacharach and made a pretty penny for herself and A&M. So why do you never hear of her?

"She and Williams separated amicably in the late 1960s. She kept custody. Her magnetism was intact, now enhanced by a large vault of mazuma and she was still only in her mid-30s. So far so good. Where does a wealthy attractive divorcee go to while away the time? Aspen of course.

"Running around at that time in 1972 was a top rated pro skiier, ex-USA Olympic team, by the name of Vladimir "Spyder" Sabich. Spyder was famous as a mega gal-magnet. Male relatives and friends claim today that they were more than happy with his spillover. Claudine saw him at an after-race watering hole one night, threw her wine glass at him and hit him in the chest. She moved in right away.

"By March of 1976 the relationship was supposedly going sour. Some testified that they believed Spyder was going to ask her to move out the night of 21 March. Claudine claimed that Spyder was showing her his pistol. She ahot him in the abdomen and he died. Scared, Claudine ran to John Denver‘s house and Andy Williams flew in that night, forcing the airport to stay open late.

"This was a big-time, celebrity case. Major publicity likely. That fact was not lost on the Aspen DA Frank Tucker, who decided to personally prosecute the case.

"As for the gun, Spyder went on tour in Europe and bought a Lugar. Spyder did not know much about guns and evidently never cleaned the weapon after its purchase. Too bad. It was terribly greased up. According to a ballistics expert it could discharge on its own.

"Perhaps it did, perhaps it didn‘t. Not enough for a conviction of murder, but enough for a misdemeanor conviction of criminally negligent homicide. Claudine went to Mexico for a vacation, returned and did her 30 days. Case closed and the press corps left the slopes.

"The DA was convicted of fraud and embezzlement shortly afterwards and disbarred. Possibly he was not the right man for the job. Good political antennae though.

"All was not lost for Claudine. Her magnetism was intact, she immediately moved in with her defense attorney Ron Austin, who left his family and later divorced his wife. They married and are still both living in Aspen.

"The parallels between the media circus that attended this celebrity murder trial and that of O.J. Simpson twenty years later are obvious. Equally obvious are the differences. O.J. did mot marry Alan Dershowitz.

"O.J. Simpson is now personna non grata in Hollywood. So it was with Claudine and the entertainment industry. Other than being the butt for bad-joke skits on Saturday Night Live, Claudine disappeared into obscurity."


Back to the Top.

"Little Shop of Horrors" [Roger Corman] 1960

"Little Shop of Horrors (the original) is a three-star comedy that was made by Roger Corman, from start of idea until it was in the can in two days.

"It was made because Corman finished the previous movie two days early and had the stage, actors and gear paid for. In this sense it is unique. The successful musical and color film version of several years ago were based upon the Corman original."


A second review came in for this one!

"The Original Film, "The Little Shop of horrors" was done in one weekend, from script to finishing film. This film was (and is) a great example of what Roger Corman could do back in 1960. This film is an award-winning macabre comedy. it is about the life and love of Seymour, a strange young man who works in a flower shop. He grows a special plant which he names Audrey Jr. Audrey (the plant) likes Blood for food and has Seymour provide her dinners. This leads to a pattern of murder any mayhem through out the film. This is also one of Jack Nicholson‘s early films. You will also learn the meaning of "how‘s the rain on the rhubarb" from watching it. The actors were Jonathan Haze, Jackie Joseph, Mel wells, Dick Miller, Myrtle Vail, and Jack Nicholson."


Back to the Top.

"To Kill a Mockingbird" [Robert Mulligan] 1962

"To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the best films ever made, often residing in critics‘ top-twenty lists. Nominated for eight Oscars, it took three. Gregory Peck won best actor, Horton Foote won best screenplay for his adaption of Harper Lee‘s 1960 Pulitzer prize novel, and it also won for best art direction.

"In most other years the film would have won best picture, director and cinematography as well. Unfortunately, it was up against Lawrence of Arabia [1962] and that explains that. Mockingbird was directed by Robert Mulligan, who also did Love With the Proper Stranger [1963] which is also a fine film.

" To Kill a Mockingbird is likely the best piece of Americana ever filmed. It evokes the rural south in the depression era. Set in a small town, the film is an extremely careful blend of a courtroom drama, a commentary on civil rights, ignorance, principled personal heroism, and the story of a young girl growing up in a motherless home. It successfully melds these themes without seeming preachy.

"Gregory Peck plays the lead role, Atticus Finch, the widowed father of two young children. The child lead role of Jean Marie "Scout" Finch is played by Mary Badham, the sister of the director John Badham. As a piece of trivia, Robert Duvall made his screen debut as Arthur "Boo" Radley, a most unlikely hero. Yes, Halloween does figure in the plot."


Back to the Top.

"The Ladykillers" [Alexander Mackendrick] 1955

"The Ladykillers is a black comedy that was directed by Alexander Mackendrick and written by William Rose, who deserves some serious mention. Most people have never heard of him, but many are likely to be familiar with his work. He is one of the best screenwriters to ever pick up a pen.

"Nominated four times for best screenplay, for Genevieve [1953], The Ladykillers [1955] and The Russians Are Coming [1966], Rose finally won the Oscar for Guess Who‘s Coming To Dinner [1987], which amply demonstrates that he had great range as a writer and also demonstrates the Hollywood bourgeoisie dislike of comedies. He also co-authored It‘s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World [1963] with Tania Rose.

"The Ladykillers is probably the best of the Ealing Studios series of comedies. It was also the last, as the studio was sold to the BBC the same month the film premiered. The Ladykillers stars Peter Sellers, Alec Guinness and Herbert Lom, each of whom give fine performances. Guinness is a true standout.

"That this film has a beautiful look is no accident. It was filmed in Technicolor."


Back to the Top.

"The Day of the Jackal" [Fred Zinnemann] 1973

"The Day of the Jackal [1973] is based upon the successful Frederick Forsyth novel concerning the attempt by army staff to execute Charles De Gaulle after the Algerian debacle. It was directed by Fred Zinnemann and adapted for the screen by Kenneth Ross, who specialized in adapting thrillers.

"Although not nominated for any major awards, this film is well respected for its uniform high quality of direction, writing and acting. In particular, the screenplay manages to sustain suspense even though the viewer already knows the outcome. The acting was performed by a stable of British actors, only a couple of whom are well-known, Edward Fox in the lead role and Derek Jacobi in a minor one.

"Criticism of this film is that it is matter-of-fact and soulless. The screenplay avoids the interpersonal conflict that is usually seen, concentrating instead on the story. You don‘t get to know the characters, only their places in the puzzle and their function in the complex political web.

"This film was remade recently as The Jackal [1997] starring Bruce Willis, Richard Gere and Sidney Poitier. This later film uses the more traditional approach to the same material. It is by comparing the two that the superiority of the first treatment becomes apparent.

"The Day of the Jackal was made toward the end of Zinnemann‘s career. One of the great directors, he made High Noon [1952], From Here To Eternity [1953], Oklahoma![1955] and A Man for All Seasons [1966]. He could produce great film across an unusually wide spectrum of material.

"As an aside, the DVD version we shall watch exceeds the maximum side length of 133 minutes by ten minutes. This is apparently accomplished by more heavily compressing certain segments of the film, resulting in some visible artifacts."


Back to the Top.

"Chicken Run" [Nick Park] 1999

"Tonight we‘re seeing Nick Park‘s Chicken Run. Nick Park who brought us Wallace & Gromit‘s adventures through exellent claymation as teamed up with Dreamworks and some CGI to bring us Chicken Run. This anamated film is the strory of a group of chickens trying to escape from an english chicken farm before they are served for dinner. Much of the action is adapted form the film "The Great Escape" and Hogans Hero‘s. its great fun for all to watch and the comments form Startrek will even keep the trekies happy. I guess you could discribe this film as "Poultry in motion"."


Back to the Top. Back to the Top.

Stay Tuned!™

Errors and Omissions: Every attempt is made to keep this website up-to-date and error free.
However due to computer and human miscommunications, mistakes are made and corrected as soon as possible.
Most information on this site is for information purposes only. Original copies are available upon written request.
We apologies for any confusion or inconvenience that may be caused by any such errors or omissions.

© Copyright 1998-2010 wnm and the respective authors. "All Rights Reserved."
© all other copyrighted material is the property of the respective owners.

Last update on Jan 15, 2010 at 12:15:10.