Five Days One Summer (1982)

Dr. Douglas Meredith (Sean Connery) is on a climbing holiday in the Alps with his young wife Kate (Betsy Brantley). They’re happy and in love, but complications arise when Johann (Lambert Wilson), a handsome young climbing instructor, falls for Kate, and she begins to have feelings for him as well. Douglas senses the competition as well as the unstoppable passage of time, and in a bid to prove his masculinity and woo Kate back, suggests a treacherous climb with only Johann as his guide. An avalanche intervenes and only one man returns to Kate… but is it the man she wants? Five Days One Summer (1982), director Fred Zinneman’s last film, was a strange entry in a year that also saw films like Victor/Victoria, Porky’s, Silent Rage, Tron and Blade Runner. A quiet, deliberate affair, Five Days is impressive for its locations and styling, for the practical effects, and the commitment to creating art, if only for art’s own sake. Cinematographer Guiseppe Rotunno does a fantastic job during the climbing scenes, though elsewhere the quality of the film ranges from too dark to see to so soft you almost can’t make out anything tangible.  Janet Maslin called Sean Connery “dependably sturdy” in this film.   Still, the general consensus, both then and now, is that Zinneman didn’t pull off the intimacy necessary to make the film work. Most find the film far too slow — Variety called it “Five Summers One Day” — but I find the complaints about pacing … Continue reading

Doc Hollywood (1991)

Doc Hollywood hearkens back to the days of older, inoffensive entertainment, including a scene with an outdoor late night showing of The General (1927), though there are a few moments that belie the film’s mild-mannered demeanor, mainly an early scene when Lou is introduced to us, completely and gratuitously nude. A local resident who was present for much of the filming in Micanopy, Florida, the stand-in for the fictitious Grady, later said that the nude scenes were included specifically to avoid a G rating. Continue reading

It’s a Date (1940)

It’s a Date is impressive in that it presages the post-war bobby soxer films by a few years, as well as the Hawaiian fashion trend; in fact, Peter Stackpole’s now-famous photo spread featuring Hawaiian and Polynesian fashions in Life Magazine didn’t go to print until after It’s a Date was released. This was clearly meant to be a trendy film, one to appeal to the younger crowd, particularly the ladies who were Durbin’s biggest fans. Continue reading

My Fellow Americans (1996)

My Fellow Americans is exceedingly kind to its two leads, who are allowed to be charming and charismatic and fun, and whose sheer exuberance turns a strange tale about the attempted assassination of two former presidents into a delightful, lighthearted comedy. Continue reading

Victor/Victoria (1982)

Victor/Victoria happily embraces the been-there-done-that tone of a film that, fifty years after the original, knows its plot should no longer be scandalous. The genius of the film’s nonchalant sexuality is that gender-bending, drag and homosexuality were still salacious in 1982, and Victor/Victoria shows better than any other film before or since just how ridiculous that is.
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Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)

The failures of the women in Woolf are reflective of the time in which it was made, which is ironic, considering this was very clearly intended to be an indictment of America’s sociocultural clime. It succeeds as being timeless far better than almost any other social consciousness film, and certainly is one of Albee’s best in this regard, but the need for the play to destroy Honey and Martha is telling. Continue reading

Bulldog Drummond (1929) and Calling Bulldog Drummond (1951)

Bulldog Drummond (1929) was not the first film based on the popular British character, but it was the first talking film, and thanks to being a product of Sam Goldwyn’s exacting (though sometimes baffling) standards, it’s probably one of the best early talkies made. It’s fun and exciting and shockingly modern, with a camera that moves and audio that’s easy to hear and jokes that don’t fall flat — you can’t say that about most early talkies. Continue reading

The Man and the Moment (1929)

The big surprise here is that, despite its many flaws, The Man and the Moment is still a lot of fun to watch. Maybe not entirely for the reasons it was meant to be fun — La Rocque channels Franklin Pangborn a lot and I find that charming and fascinating — but at this late date, who’s to quibble? Just being able to watch the film is a fantastic thing. Continue reading

Suspicion (1941) on Blu-ray from Warner Archive

If you’ve seen Alfred Hitchcock’s Suspicion (1941), and you probably have, you know that by the end we discover it was all just a big misunderstanding. Golly! Continue reading

Brotherly Love (Country Dance, 1970)

Brotherly Love has been saddled with the label “tragicomedy” for decades, though there is very little outright comedy here, just wry observations and O’Toole waving his arms about more than usual. Essentially, York and O’Toole both give fine performances while both seemingly failing to understand the humor in all of this. Though the screenplay was written by Kennaway, it feels like an inferior adaptation, and O’Toole’s role feels like a rehearsal for The Ruling Class (1972). Continue reading