Thursday, March 8, 2012

Classic Films in Review- Part 3

Now after reviewing classic films such as Citizen Kane, Casablanca, Gone with the Wind, and Singin In The Rain, I present part 3 of my study of classic films.

2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (2nd Opinion)

After watching Kubrick's film again, I can honestly say that it is a masterpiece. I understood it much better and it didn't seem as slow. The special effects are breathtaking and the story was easier to follow because I knew what was going to happen and I could just enjoy the sights. When you first watch Kubrick's massive achievement, I would suggest watching it twice. The first time to get a feel for it, and the second time to truly appreciate and understand it.
ORIGINAL GRADE: 8/10
NEW GRADE:10/10

ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN

All the President's Men is the story of Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman), two reporters for the Washington Post who broke the news of the Watergate scandal and drove the president out of office. The film opens with the break in and shows the criminals being caught and arrested. Woodward and Bernstein are assigned to the story and as they dig deeper and deeper into the case, realize that this was no simple break in: it involved everybody in the Republican party, thus the name All the President's Men. The film is a mixture of a detective story and journalism because Woodward and Bernstein are essentially both. Redford and Hoffman's performances are good but not outstanding. Jason Robards is the real star of the show as Ben Bradlee, the only character that is more than just a one-dimensional investigator. Overall, All the President's Men is a fantastic and fast-paced detective story that is always intriguing. THE FINAL GRADE: 10/10





DR. STRANGELOVE OR HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB

Dr.Strangelove is a hilarious cold war black comedy directed by Stanley Kubrick. The film stars Sterling Hayden as General Jack D. Ripper who launches a missile attack against the Soviet Union. The missile attack was not authorized by the President (Peter Sellers), who accidentally approved a plan to give emergency powers to Ripper and his base. So, essentially the men in the war room including General Turgidson (George C. Scott) and Dr. Strangelove (Peter Sellers again) must find a way to stop the missiles from being dropped. Unfortunately, they have no code to stop the attack. So, they send soldiers on a mission to kill their own soldiers while Ripper gives his assistant Lionel Mandrake (Sellers in his third role) lectures about how the Soviets are trying to steal our "precious body fluids". The first fifteen minutes of the film are not that funny but the rest are hilarious. Sellers and Scott both are amazing in their roles. Don't miss this comedy classic. THE FINAL GRADE: 9/10



THE GRADUATE

The movie that launched megastar Dustin Hoffman's career is funny, touching, heartfelt, and one of the best movies in film history. Benjamin Braddock (Hoffman) is a shy and awkward recent college graduate. But one night, Ben is seduced by his father's business partner's wife, Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft). Then Ben finds himself falling for her daughter Elaine (Katharine Ross). The Graduate works for several reasons. It has a great script, great performances by all its stars (especially Hoffman) and an excellent soundtrack by Simon and Garfunkel. The first half of the film is a bit slower than the second but its funny because of how awkward it is. But don't miss this true American classic. THE FINAL GRADE: 10/10




LAWRENCE OF ARABIA

Lawrence of Arabia is a visual masterpiece. That is the one thing I was sure of after watching the film.The greatest strength of the film is it's portrayal of the desert, in all it's danger and majesty. The battle sequences are also breathtaking and spectacular. But Lawrence of Arabia has some other problems. It's story: T.E. Lawrence (Peter O'Toole), is sent to Arabia to unite the warring Arab factions and take down the Turkish empire, is not always substantial enough to carry a nearly four hour long film. But the biggest problem is that it is LONG. Lawrence of Arabia starts off very entertaining, I found the first hour to be great. Then the spend 45 minutes wandering in the desert. I was fine with that. But eventually the film just gets to be tedious. The acting is very good; O'Toole's performance is amazing. If director David Lean cut maybe an hour of the film, I would have loved it. But Lean didn't and that is why I didn't like it as much. THE FINAL GRADE: 8/10




RED DAWN


Red Dawn is a movie of guts, gore, and blood. It stars Patrick Swayze, Lea Thompson, C. Thomas Howell, and a young Charlie Sheen. This blood-fest tells the story of a small town that is attacked by the Soviets. Eight teens then flee into the mountains armed with pistols, rifles, and their wits. They then begin calling themselves the Wolverines and attacking the Soviets. If you enjoyed Saving Private Ryan then this movie is for you. Its a great movie but a little bit cheesy sometimes. THE FINAL GRADE: B-  Review by Charles Timm






THE SEARCHERS

John Wayne gives one of his finest performances in The Searchers, widely considered the greatest western of all time. The Searchers stars Wayne as Ethan Edwards, a racist former Confederate soldier who returns home to his family. But within days, they are slaughtered by Comanche indians who kill all of Ethan's family except for his niece Debbie (Natalie Wood). Ethan then embarks on a five year search with Martin (Jeffrey Hunter) to find Debbie, whether she wants to be rescued or not.Wayne's performance is stellar but everybody else is dull and one note. Even Wayne is over dramatic at certain points. And while the essential plot is Ethan finding Debbie, for some reason director John Ford decided to throw in a weak subplot about Martin and his girlfriend, Laurie (Vera Miles). While The Searchers is good entertainment for two hours, I didn't find it as great as everybody claims that it is. THE FINAL GRADE: 6/10



SPARTACUS

Spartacus is a very entertaining epic. One that is long, but not too long. Spartacus follows the title character (Kirk Douglas, in a fantastic performance) as he leads a slave revolution against Rome. Other supporting characters include Crassus (Laurence Olivier), Gracchus (Charles Laughton) and Spartacus' wife Varinia (Jean Simmons). Spartacus and Varinia start in a slave camp but eventually make their way out and Spartacus starts a revolution. Spartacus is packed with action and terrific acting. I found it to be very enjoyable. THE FINAL GRADE: 9/10




SUNSET BOULEVARD


An excellent portrayal of Hollywood and a psychotic woman, Sunset Boulevard is truly one of the best. The film starts with the homicide squad at the mansion of an old Hollywood star. They have discovered the dead body of Joe Gillis (William Holden), a Hollywood writer. Then Gillis (who narrates the film, even though he is dead) takes us back six months to when he was on the run from a couple of men who were going to take his car if he didn't pay the bills. Gillis ends up at the house of an old silent star, Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson). Desmond is alone, except for her butler Max (Erich Von Stroheim). Desmond isn't crazy but she is on the very edge of insanity. Gillis tries to leave, but Norma wants him to fix a terrible script that she wrote to make a picture with her old friend Cecil B. Demille (Himself). Gillis fixes the script and stays for a while, but he realizes that Norma has fallen in love with him and some other shocking bits of information.There is also a subplot about Gillis writing a script with Betty Schafer (Nancy Olson). The film is the most realistic Hollywood movie about Hollywood. With stars such as DeMille and Buster Keaton, you would almost think that this is real. The acting is also excellent. Swanson is perfectly over dramatic as Desmond. The film is best for it's ironic and disturbing portrayal of a insane star who thinks she is remembered but really isn't. Gillis calls her and her friends waxworks and that what she really is. This is a can't miss film. THE FINAL GRADE: 10/10



THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE

A dark adventure drama that puts a lot more emphasis on characters than it does action. Don't get me wrong, it has it's action scenes, but it is nothing like the Indiana Jones series. Treasure of the Sierra Madre follows Dobbs (Humphrey Bogart), Howard (Walter Huston) and Curtin (Tim Holt) as they search for treasure and gold. While the film has some great action scenes, the real treasure (excuse the pun) is in the performances. Humphrey Bogart gives one of his best performances as a normal homeless man that turns into a paranoid, murdering, and greed filled monster. It is truly an affecting performance. Walter Huston is also fantastic as he observes through quiet facial expressions, Dobbs' fall into insanity. And Holt gives a good performance as just a regular Joe that keeps his sanity unlike Dobbs. With some thrilling action scenes and fantastic acting, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is a can't miss film. THE FINAL GRADE: 10/10


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