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5001 Nights at the Movies: A Guide from A to Z

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Overview

The intelligent person’s guide to the movies, with more than 2,800 reviews

 

Look up a movie in this guide, and chances are you’ll find yourself reading on about the next movie and the next. Pauline Kael’s reviews aren’t just provocative—-they’re addictive.

These brief, informative reviews, written for the “Goings On About Town” section of The New Yorker, provide an immense range of listings—-a masterly critical history of American and ...

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Overview

The intelligent person’s guide to the movies, with more than 2,800 reviews

 

Look up a movie in this guide, and chances are you’ll find yourself reading on about the next movie and the next. Pauline Kael’s reviews aren’t just provocative—-they’re addictive.

These brief, informative reviews, written for the “Goings On About Town” section of The New Yorker, provide an immense range of listings—-a masterly critical history of American and foreign film. This is probably the only movie guide you’ll want to read for the sheer pleasure of it.

Smart, funny, and unforgettable, Pauline Kael is the most interesting and influential film critic in America. Her ability to skewer an actor or director and her wit, insight, and thorough knowledge of the film business make her by far the most rewarding regular observer of the movie scene. This new collection covers films that have come out since the previous 1985 edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"She is, indeed, the Edmund Wilson of film reviewers."—-Larry McMurtry

"She’s the best film critic we’ve got."—-Details

"A great critic…with a body of criticism that can be compared with Shaw’s criticism of music and the theatre."—-The Times Literary Supplement (London)

"Kael changed the way we see. Poets aren’t the only unacknowledged legislators of the world; great critics write the text as well."—-San Francisco Examiner

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805013672
  • Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/28/1991
  • Edition description: REV
  • Pages: 960
  • Sales rank: 345,130
  • Product dimensions: 7.50 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.88 (d)

Meet the Author

Pauline Kael won the National Book Award for her film criticism in 1974. The film critic for The New Yorker from 1968 to 1991, she is the author of more than a dozen books on the movies.

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Read an Excerpt

5001 Nights at the Movies

A

A bout de souffle, see Breathless

 

A Ciascuno il Suo, see We Still Kill the Old Way

 

À double tour, see Léda

 

À nous la liberté (1931)—René Clair's imaginative social satire on the mechanization of modern life begins with a man (Raymond Cordy) who escapes from prison and builds a phonograph-record business with an assembly line that's as regimented as the prison. This factory owner is modelled on Charles Pathé, who said of his phonograph-cinema empire, "Only the armaments industry made profits like ours." The tycoon's pal from his prison days is a softhearted "little man" (Henri Marchand)—the underdog embodiment of a free, humanistic spirit. Beautifully made, the picture has elegantly futuristic sets by Lazare Meerson, and Georges Perinal's cinematography has a simplified, formal perfection; the whole film is paced to Georges Auric's memorable score—one of the earliest (yet best) film scores ever written. Clair's directing demonstrates that sound pictures can be as fluid as silents were, and this picture is rightly considered a classic. Yet it isn't as entertaining as his earlier (silent) The Italian Straw Hat or his later Le Million; the scenario (which he wrote) turns a little too carefree and ironic—the film grows dull. A nous la liberté was obviously the source of some of the ideas in Chaplin's 1936 Modern Times; the producing company filed suit against Chaplin for copyright infringement, but Clair had the suit dropped, saying that "All of us flow" from Chaplin, and "I am honored if he was inspired by my film." In French. b & w

 

The Abdication (1974)—This Warners picture about Queen Christina's stepping down from the Swedish throne, in 1654, is embalmed in such reverence for its own cultural elevation that it loses all contact with the audience. Liv Ullmann is the virgin queen who becomes a Catholic hoping to find ecstasy in God, and Peter Finch is the cardinal who examines her motives. Anthony Harvey directed, on his knees. We're never allowed to forget the exalted rank of the characters, and nothing like human speech intrudes upon the relentless dignity of Ruth Wolff's script (adapted from her own play). Ullmann doesn't have the high style or the mystery that her grand-gesture role requires; her performanceis dutifully wrought and properly weighted—she's like a hausfrau who's too conscientious to give good parties. With Cyril Cusack, Paul Rogers, Michael Dunn, and Edward Underdown. The turbulent, pseudo-liturgical score is by Nino Rota; the pictorial cinematography is by Geoffrey Unsworth. color (See Reeling.)

 

About Last Night ... (1986)—In Sexual Perversity in Chicago, David Mamet's one-act play about singles bars and the hostility between the sexes, Bernie, the major character, is a macho braggart; his stooge, the passive Danny, soaks up Berrue's poison—his obsession that women are out to trap them. In this adaptation, written by Tim Kazurinsky and Denise DeClue, and directed by Edward Zwick (it's his first picture), Danny, played by Rob Lowe, is the major character—and a hero. He's intimidated by his pal Bernie (Jim Belushi), but he learns to trust his love for Debbie (Demi Moore) and get off the singles treadmill. And Debbie casts out the doubts that are engendered by her roommate, the caustic Joan (Elizabeth Perkins). The movie is close to being a conventional romance about the adjustments that lovers have to make in their first year together—except that Bernie is around yelling, and Joan keeps putting everybody down. The screenwriters retain much of Mamet's dialogue, but they piece it out, and the director punches up the breaks between scenes with rock music. It's like being pounded on the back every two minutes when your back is already sore (because the dialogue has been whacking you so hard). If anyone comes out of this enterprise with honor it's Perkins, who, in her first screen appearance, brings appealing, plaintive undercurrents to a ghastly role. Tri-Star. color (See Hooked.)

 

Absence of Malice (1981)—A trim, well-paced newspaper melodrama that queries journalistic practices. Sally Field is the basically insensitive, eager-beaver Miami reporter who snaps up a story that the head of a federal strike force investigating the disappearance of a union leader leaks to her. The story is false—the federal man's purpose is simply to stir things up by putting pressure on an honest businessman who has Mafia relatives. Paul Newman is the victim, and the movie is about how he turns the methods of the authorities and the newspaperwoman against them. It's doubtful that people who are out to get even are as calm and well-balanced as this character; Newman gives revenge class, so we can all enjoy it. The script, by Kurt Luedtke, a former newspaperman, is crisply plotted, but he doesn't write scenes to reveal anything more in the characters than the plot requires. Sydney Pollack's directing is efficient and the film is moderately entertaining, but it leaves no residue. Except for the intensity of Newman's sly, compact performance (especially in the one scene when he blows up at the reporter and hisses his rage right into her ear), and the marvellously inventive acting of Melinda Dillon in the role of an achingly helpless, frightened woman, and the character bits by Barry Primus, Luther Adler, Josef Sommer, Wilford Brimley, Don Hood, and John Harkins you could get it all by reading an article. As the head of the strike force, Bob Balaban must think that he's doing Captain Queeg. He has devised an attention-getting nervous shtick—he spins his hands around while playing with rubber bands—and he never gives it a rest. Columbia. color (See Taking It All In.)

 

Absolute Beginners (1986)—Colin Mac-Innes's 1959 novel—an inventive, slangy, poetic celebration of youth and jazz and London, and a cry of disgust at the way teenagers, who didn't emerge as a group with money to spend until the 50s, are alreadybeing commercialized and corrupted—has been turned into a stylized, widescreen musical by Julien Temple. Whether because of the fast-cutting style that Temple developed from his work in rock videos or because of the generally undistinguished choreography, it's peculiarly unlyrical and ephemeral. The film has a glossy immediacy, and you can feel the flash and determination that went into it. What you don't feel is the tormented romanticism that made English adolescents in the 70s swear by the novel the way American kids had earlier sworn by The Catcher in the Rye. David Bowie, James Fox, Ray Davies, Anita Morris, and Sade provide entertaining moments; Lionel Blair, Bruce Payne, and Graham Fletcher-Cook come through with glints of humor. But the two central teen-age characters—Colin (Eddie O'Connell) and the girl he loves, Suzette (Patsy Kensit)—seem generic. Musical arrangements by Gil Evans; cinematography by Oliver Stapleton; screenplay by Richard Burridge, Christopher Wicking, and Don MacPherson. Also with Slim Gaillard, Steven Berkoff, and Mandy Rice-Davies. Released in the U.S. by Orion. color (See Hooked.)

 

Accident (1967)—Joseph Losey and his scenarist, Harold Pinter, use sexual desperation amid the beauty of Oxford in summertime to make our flesh crawl. A cleverly barbed comedy of depravity—uneven, unsatisfying, but with virtuoso passages of calculated meanness and, as the centerpiece, a long, drunken Sunday party, with people sitting down to supper when they're too soused to eat. As a weakling philosophy don, Dirk Bogarde goes through his middle-aged-frustration specialty brilliantly, gripping his jaw to stop a stutter or folding his arms to keep his hands out of trouble. With Stanley Baker, who is properly swinish as another academic, and Vivien Merchant, Jacqueline Sassard, Michael York, Alexander Knox, and Delphine Seyrig as a dumb blonde. From the novel by Nicholas Mosley; cinematography by Gerry Fisher; music by Johnny Dankworth. color (See Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.)

 

The Accidental Tourist (1988)—It begins with the numb grief of a punctilious Baltimore travel writer, Macon Leary (William Hurt), whose 12-year-old son was senselessly shot by a gunman in a Burger Bonanza. Macon has become such a depressed loner that his wife (Kathleen Turner) leaves him. The movie, directed by Lawrence Kasdan, who wrote the screenplay with Frank Galati, closely follows the 1985 Anne Tyler novel, and it's about Macon's coming to life. A fiercely eager oddball (Geena Davis) who pulls him into her bed turns out to be his salvation. The plot construction is that of a screwball comedy of the 30s: poor working girl has the life force that upper-class prig needs. But people talk a formal, affected English that sounds counterfeit and everyone seems catatonic—even the skinny oddball, whose tense talkativeness is as panicked as Macon's recessiveness and silence. This picture's ponderousness doesn't keep it from affecting some people deeply. It provides a new romantic myth of the 80s—a time of widespread remarriage and hoped-for rebirth. Essentially, this is a dating movie, like Claude Lelouch's A Man and a Woman, but for darker times, for times of lower expectations. The film's minimal fun has to do with the wry, pixillated family humor of Macon and his siblings (Amy Wright, Ed Begley, Jr., and David Ogden Stiers). The cast includes Bill Pullman and Robert Gorman. Cinematography by John Bailey; the offensive rippling score is by John Williams. Warners. color (See Movie Love.)

 

The Ace, see The Great Santini

 

Ace in the Hole Also known as The Big Carnival. (1951)—Billy Wilder produced and directed this box-office failure right after Sunset Boulevard and just before Stalag 17. Some people have tried to claim some sort of satirical brilliance for it, but it's really just nasty, in a sociologically pushy way. Kirk Douglas is the big-time New York reporter who is so opportunistic that when he gets to where a collapsed roof has buried a man in New Mexico, he arranges to have the rescue delayed so that he can pump the story up. The trapped man dies, while Douglas keeps shouting in order that we can all see what a symptomatic, cynical exploiter he is. With Jan Sterling as the trapped man's wife, Porter Hall, Richard Benedict, Ray Teal, and Frank Cady. Script by Wilder, Lesser Samuels, and Walter Newman. Filmed on location near Gallup, New Mexico. Paramount. b & w

 

Across the Bridge (1957)—Graham Greene's protagonist is a crooked international financier (Rod Steiger) who runs to Mexico, and the film is one long chase after this disintegrating quarry. Ken Annakin directed this English production, photographed in Spain, which some English critics regarded as their best thriller since The Third Man. (There may not have been much competition.) If the film had sustained the tension of its opening scenes the comparison with The Third Man might be apt, but the middle of the picture (and it's an extended middle) falls apart. It was invented by the screenwriters, Guy Elmes and Denis Freeman, who filled out Greene's 1938 short story. Steiger gives a dominating performance; Bill Nagy plays Scarff, whose identity the financier takes, not knowing that Scarff is a revolutionary, who is wanted in Mexico. Noel Willman is the vicious police chief; David Knight and Marla Landi are young lovers (she is beautiful, he is dreary). b & w

 

Across the Pacific (1942)—After his exhilarating début film, The Maltese Falcon (1941), John Huston had a commercial failure with In This Our Life; then he tried to repeat the success of the Falcon with an action-adventure story, using some of the Falcon cast—Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Sydney Greenstreet. The film was supposed to be about a group sailing to Honolulu to thwart a Japanese plan to blow up Pearl Harbor; during the second week of shooting, the Japanese did blow up Pearl Harbor. The production was shut down and there was a hasty rewrite. The result is a complicated plot about spies who plan to blow up the Panama Canal, and there are assorted captures and hairbreadth escapes. Huston manages to give the sequences some tension, and though the shipboard scenes were—in the custom of the time—filmed on the studio back lot, the images are airy and spacious. But Huston couldn't do anything about the essential mediocrity of the material, and when he was drafted into the Army Special Services before the picture was finished, he showed what he thought of the mess: he hurriedly shot a scene with Bogart trussed up and about to be killed, and then left his replacement director, Vincent Sherman, to figure out how to save Bogart in time to prevent the bombing of the Canal. The movie isn't really bad—just bewildering. Mary Astor comes off the worst; cast as a conventional heroine, she looks heavy and uncomfortable, and too big for Bogart, who, incidentally, was called Rick here—the name that was carried over the next year in Casablanca. With Victor Sen Yung, Charles Halton, Richard Loo, Keye Luke, and Monte Blue. Script by Richard Macaulay, from Robert Carson's SatEvePost serial Aloha Means Goodbye; montages by Don Siegel; cinematography by Arthur Edeson; music by Adolph Deutsch. Produced by Jerry Wald and Jack Saper, for Warners. b & w

 

Act of the Heart (1970)—Geneviève Bujold, in one of those passionate, spiritual jobs about a girl who is "different." The heroine sings the solo with the church choir; she suffers while singing in a nightclub; she even—God help us—makes love with an Augustinian monk (in the unlikely, affable person of Donald Sutherland) at the front of the altar. After hours of fire symbolism, she finally pours kerosene on herself to create a new sacrifice for a world that has forgotten Jesus; by then you're ready to toss her a match. This Canadian film was written and directed by Paul Almond (Bujold's husband at the time) who goes for obsessions and fatalities and an elliptical style, and is very high on portents. Bujold has some lovely bits, but the masochistic feminine-fantasy material forces her to fall back on the old fragile, incandescent child-woman shtick. color (See Deeper into Movies.)

 

The Actress (1953)—Ruth Gordon adapted her autobiographical play Years Ago, which dealt with a young girl in New England determined to make her way in the theatre, and it was turned into a pleasantly modest though disappointing picture by the director, George Cukor. Jean Simmons plays the title role with grace, but the author has neglected to provide indications of talent and drive in the character; this girl seems too nice, too ordinary—she could never grow up to be that tough, indefatigable trouper Ruth Gordon. (The heroine sets out on her own in 1911.) Despite the title, the central character is the girl's gruff, lovable father (Spencer Tracy); Tracy overdoes it, but he shows some energy, and the film is sadly short of it. With Teresa Wright giving a wan performance as the mother, Anthony Perkins making his first screen appearance, Ian Wolfe, Mary Wickes, Jackie Coogan as the joker in the gymnasium, and, in the best sequence, Kay Williams as a musical-comedy star. M-G-M. b & w

 

Adalen 31 (1969)—An extraordinarily sensitive re-creation of a strike and riot that altered the course of Swedish political life, seen through the eyes of an adolescent boy whose father dies in the events. Bo Widerberg, whose previous film was Elvira Madigan, wrote and directed this beautiful yet uninspired piece of work; lush and lyrical as it is, it's fundamentally didactic, with stereotyped social-realist characters. And because Widerberg seems to work best in vignettes and to have architectural problems when he's working on such a large scale, his argument isn't clear; he makes the little points but not the big ones. So when the violence erupts, we don't really understand its political significance—we' re left "appreciating" it, in a rather embarrassed way, for its pictorial values. In Swedish. color (See Deeper into Movies.)

 

Adam's Rib (1949)—George Cukor directed this "uncinematic" but well-played and often witty M-G-M comedy about the battle of the sexes. Katharine Hepburn, thin, nervous, and high-strung, keeps pecking away at Spencer Tracy, who is solid, imperturbable, and maddeningly sane. She attacks, he blocks; their skirmishes are desperately, ludicrously civilized. They are married lawyers on opposing sides in a court battle; the case involves equal rights for women, i.e., does Judy Holliday have the right to shoot her two-timing husband, Tom Ewell, in order to protect her home against Jean Hagen? The script by Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin is lively and ingenious (though it stoops to easy laughs now and then). Cukor's work is too arch, too consciously, commercially clever, but it's also spirited, confident. Holliday and Ewell have roles that seem just the right sizefor them; intermittently, Holliday lifts the picture to a higher, free-style wit. And as a composer-neighbor of the married lawyers David Wayne airily upstages the two stars; Hepburn is overly intense and Tracy does some coy mugging, but Wayne stays right on target. With Polly Moran, Clarence Kolb, and Hope Emerson (as a circus strong woman). b & w

 

The Admirable Crichton, see Paradise Lagoon

 

The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother (1975)—Gene Wilder's talent is evident in the many nice leafy touches, but in his first attempt at a triple-header (writer-director-star) he shows poor judgment and he gets bogged down in an overelaborate production. The idea—Holmes' bringing in his insanely jealous younger brother, Sigerson, to help on a case involving Queen Victoria's state secrets—has mouth-watering possibilities, but they aren't developed. There's no mystery, and since you can't have a parody of a mystery without a mystery, there's no comic suspense. And Wilder, keeping his eye on his responsibilities as a director, loses his performing rhythm. A vaudeville number is disconcertingly like the specialty number in Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein (which Wilder co-wrote and starred in) and calls attention to the general similarity between the two films. With Madeline Kahn, Marty Feldman, Dom DeLuise, Leo McKern, and Roy Kinnear. 20th Century-Fox. color (See When the Lights Go Down.)

 

The Adventurers (1970)—This Paramount-Joseph E. Levine release seems to have been put together by scavengers with computers. It cuts back and forth between the massacres and upheavals of a mythical poor country in South America and the tortured sex lives of the international celebrity set in Europe and America, and every 15 minutes or so there's carnage or a cloddish sex scene to keep you from losing interest in the slack story. Sleazy (the Harold Robbins novel) and square (the approach of the director, Lewis Gilbert) don't blend entertainingly here; the film lacks crude dynamism—it's dispiriting. There are only a couple of amusing scenes: a nice moment when Thommy Berggren, as a gigolo, tips his doorman father (Ferdy Mayne), and a villainous moment or two by Alan Badel, as a Trujillo-style dictator. The international cast of this $10 million clinker includes Bekim Fehmiu as the Porfirio Rubirosa-like hero, Candice Bergen, Charles Aznavour, Rossano Brazzi, Olivia de Havilland, Leigh Taylor-Young, Fernando Rey, Sydney Tafler, Ernest Borgnine, Anna Moffo, and John Ireland. The script is by Michael Hastings and Gilbert, the music is by Jobim, and the cinematographer, Claude Renoir, gives it all a better look than it deserves. color (See Deeper Into Movies.)

 

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1989)—The Baron, who lived from 1720 to 1797, was a fibber of genius—a fabulist. Terry Gilliam, who directed this special-effects extravaganza, sees his theme as the liar as artist; his Munchausen (John Neville) is a poet, a man of imagination. He's pitted against the practical men who believe in facts and compromise and conformity (i.e., the men who finance movies). The elements are here for a fantasy on the order of The Wizard of Oz and Pinocchio and the 1940 Thief of Bagdad; the Baron and a 10-year-old girl (Sarah Polley) voyage to a city on the moon, fall into the fire god Vulcan's foundry inside the belching Mt. Etna, and are swallowed by a monster fish. Yet the picture is dry and choppy and remote. The design (by Dante Ferretti) and the cinematography (by Giuseppe Rotunno) are sometimes magnificent, and there are scenes that are near-inspired. Something is missing, though: a bit of conviction—of ardor and awe. Gilliam's hip silliness is deflating; his gifts—his gagster's prankishness and hissense of beauty—don't harmonize. The picture is almost devoid of emotional shadings. With Oliver Reed, who's a great rampaging Vulcan, Robin Williams (uncredited) as the King of the Moon, Uma Thurman as Venus, and Eric Idle, Jonathan Pryce, Sting, Valentina Cortese, Bill Paterson, Winston Dennis, Jack Purvis, Alison Steadman, and Charles McKeown, who co-wrote the script with Gilliam. Released by Columbia. color (See Movie Love.)

 

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Also known as Buckaroo Banzai. (1984)—Making his début as a director, W. D. (Rick) Richter doesn't bring out the baroque lunacy of the material—a kind of fermented parody of M*A*S*H, Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and the TV series "The A-Team"—but though the characters don't develop and the laughs don't build or come together, the film's uninflected deadpan tone is somehow likable. Dr. Buckaroo Banzai (Peter Weller), the half-Japanese, half-American hero, is a neurosurgeon, a physicist, a jet-car racer (who goes right through a mountain), and the leader of the Team Banzai—seven dapper whizbang Renaissance men. For relaxation, Buckaroo and a few of the others have formed their own rock group, the Hong Kong Cavaliers, and it's at a Cavaliers' performance in a New Jersey night spot that the hypersensitive Buckaroo picks up the disturbed vibes of someone in the audience; that's how he meets the heroine, Penny Priddy (Ellen Barkin). Richter and the scriptwriter Earl Mac Rauch don't seem to have an angle of vision on the interplanetary fantasy world they present; what they've got are an unmoored hipsterism and a lot of inventiveness. As Dr. Lizardo, the mad-genius villain (a comic-strip mixture of Eisenstein, Klaus Kinski, and a Wagnerian tenor), John Lithgow gives the movie the anchor it needs. White-faced, with bloodshot eyes, dark greenish teeth, and a wild foreign accent, Lithgow's Dr. Lizardo can make you crazy with happiness. With Jeff Goldblum, Matt Clark as the Secretary of Defense, Carl Lumbly as the friendly alien who disguises himself as a Rastafarian, Christopher Lloyd, Vincent Schiavelli, Rosalind Cash, Ronald Lacey, and the platinum-blond Lewis Smith. The picture went through a change of cinematographers (it was completed by Fred J. Koenekamp), but the young production designer J. Michael Riva has given it a consistent—and radiant—whimsicality. 20th Century-Fox. color (See State of the Art.)

 

Adventures of Don Juan (1948)—By this time, Errol Flynn's offscreen life had colored the public's view of him, and this wry, semi-satirical swashbuckler was designed to exploit his reputation for debauchery. William Faulkner and Frederick Faust (Max Brand) were among the writers whom the Warners producer, Jerry Wald, brought in to work on various drafts of the screenplay, which was finally credited to George Oppenheimer and Harry Kurnitz. Flynn looks far from his best, and the whole lavish production has a somewhat depressed tone. The story has Juan saving Queen Margaret of Spain (Viveca Lindfors) from a traitor's skulduggery. With Romney Brent, Ann Rutherford, Alan Hale, Robert Warwick, Robert Douglas, Helen Westcott, Raymond Burr, Una O'Connor, Fortunio Bonanova, and Monte Blue. Those with keen eyes may spot bits of footage lifted from The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex and The Adventures of Robin Hood. The director Vincent Sherman's work is no more than adequate. color

 

The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)—One of the most popular of all adventure films—stirring for children and intensely nostalgic for adults. As Robin, Errol Flynn slings a deer across his shoulders with exuberant aplomb; he achieves a mixture of daringand self-mockery, like that of Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., in the 20s. The film gives the legend a light, satirical edge: everyone is a bit too much of what he is. (The archetypal roles that the actors played here clung to their later performances.) With improbably pretty Olivia de Havilland as Maid Marian, Alan Hale as Little John, Ian Hunter as Richard the Lion-Hearted, Basil Rathbone and Claude Rains as the villains, and Herbert Mundin, Patric Knowles, Melville Cooper, Una O'Connor, Montagu Love, and Robert Warwick. The story is clear, the color ravishing, the acting simple and crude. Erich Wolfgang Korngold did the marvellous score; the script is by Norman Reilly Raine and Seton I. Miller; the rousing, buoyant direction is credited to Michael Curtiz and William Keighley, the former having replaced the latter. Hal B. Wallis produced, for Warners.

 

The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe (1952)—Luis Bunuel's version of the Defoe novel (made in English) is free of that deadly solicitude that usually kills off classics. The film is a simple, unsentimental account of Defoe's basic themes: a man alone face to face with nature; then a man terribly alone, unable to face lack of love and friendship; and finally, after the lacerations of desire, a man ludicrously alone. Bunuel used Dan O'Herlihy, a fine actor with a beautiful voice, and photographed him in the jungle of Manzanillo, near Acapulco. In the delirium sequence, Bunuel is the same startling director who made film history. When Crusoe shouts to the hills in order to hear the companionable echo, and when he rushes to the sea in desperate longing for a ship, loneliness is brought in sudden shocks, to the pitch of awe and terror. Crusoe's eventual meeting with Friday (James Fernandez) changes the tone to irony. color

 

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1938)—Norman Taurog, who had scored at the box office with Skippy and other films starring children, directed this fairly straightforward version, for David O. Selznick. It's a reasonably good family-style comedy-melodrama of its period, and the humor in many of Mark Twain's episodes survives the studio-made scenery, the Technicolor sunsets, and the obviousness of the tone. May Robson is Aunt Polly, tapping her thimble briskly; Tommy Kelly plays Tom, and Ann Gillis is Becky Thatcher. The adaptation is by John Weaver.

 

The Adventuress, see I See a Dark Stranger

 

Advise and Consent (1962)—Mindless "inside" story of Washington political shenanigans, directed by Otto Preminger. Accused of having been a Communist, Leffingwell (Henry Fonda), the nominee for Secretary of State, perjures himself. A senator (Don Murray) is victimized because of a homosexual episode in his past. (When he goes to a gay bar, it's such a lurid, evil place that the director seems grotesquely straight.) There are noteworthy performances by Burgess Meredith, as Leffingwell's accuser, and by Franchot Tone, as the President; Charles Laughton is entertainingly flamboyant as a Southern senator. With Lew Ayres as the Vice-President, and Walter Pidgeon, Gene Tierney, Peter Lawford, Paul Ford, George Grizzard, Inga Swenson, Will Geer, Betty White, and some actual Washington personages. The procession of people helps to take one's mind off the overwrought melodrama. Wendell Mayes adapted Allen Drury's best-seller. Columbia. b & w

 

The African Queen (1951)—An inspired piece of casting brought Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn together. This is a comedy, a love story, and a tale of adventure,and it is one of the most charming and entertaining movies ever made. The director, John Huston, has written that the comedy was not present either in the novel by C. S. Forester or in the original screenplay by James Agee, John Collier, and himself, but that it grew out of the relationship of Hepburn and Bogart, who were just naturally funny when they worked together. Hepburn has revealed that the picture wasn't going well until Huston came up with the inspiration that she should think of Rosie as Mrs. Roosevelt. After that, Bogart and Hepburn played together with an ease and humor that makes their love affair—the mating of a forbidding, ironclad spinster and a tough, gin-soaked riverboat captain—seem not only inevitable, but perfect. The story, set in central Africa in 1914, is so convincingly acted that you may feel a bit jarred at the end; after the lovers have brought the boat, the African Queen, over dangerous rapids to torpedo a German battleship, Huston seems to stop taking the movie seriously. With Robert Morley as Hepburn's missionary brother, and Peter Bull. Cinematography by Jack Cardiff. Bogart's performance took the Academy Award for Best Actor. (Peter Viertel, who worked on the dialogue while the company was on location in Africa, wrote White Hunter, Black Heart—one of the best of all moviemaking novels—about his experiences with Huston.) Produced by Sam Spiegel, for United Artists. color

 

After Hours (1983)—Martin Scorsese directed, and his work here is lively and companionable; the camera scoots around, making jokes—or, at least, near-jokes. But this skittish paranoid fantasy is just a classroom exercise of a movie: elegant, crisp, and flashy, with perky zooms and cute little dissolves. Scorsese uses his skills (and even his personality) like a hired hand, making a vacuous, polished piece of consumer goods—all surface. Griffin Dunne plays a young wordprocessor operator in midtown New York, who goes down to SoHo for a date and finds himself trapped in a nightmare world, where he has to contend with one flaky, threatening woman after another: Rosanna Arquette, Linda Fiorentino, Teri Garr, Catherine O'Hara, and Verna Bloom. The cast includes John Heard, who gives the movie its only rooted moments, and Cheech and Chong, Dick Miller, and Bronson Pinchot. Script by Joseph Minion; cinematography by Michael Ballhaus. Released by Warners. color (See Hooked.)

 

After the Fox (1966)—An international collaboration that turned into a box-office calamity, yet, for a messy satirical farce, this picture has a surprising number of funny moments. Neil Simon and Cesare Zavattini wrote the screenplay about a crook who pretends to be a moviemaker. Vittorio De Sica directed, and the cast includes Peter Sellers as the crook, his then-wife, Britt Ekland, playing his sister, Martin Balsam, Victor Mature (who parodies himself and earns the biggest laughs), Paolo Stoppa, Akim Tamiroff, and De Sica himself. The score is by Burt Bacharach. color

 

After the Thin Man (1936)—This second of the six films that make up the Thin Man series, starring William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora Charles, doesn't live up to the first. It isn't particularly entertaining; it's just busy. Elissa Landi (who has peculiarly mushy, ladylike diction) is in distress because she has lost her husband (Alan Marshal) to Penny Singleton. There are a couple of murders, and Asta's mate has puppies. The cast includes James Stewart, Joseph Calleia, Sam Levene, and Jessie Ralph. Like the first film, this one was directed by W. S. Van Dyke,from a screenplay by Albert a and Frances Goodrich. M-G-M. b & w

 

Against All Odds (1984)—Suggested by the 1947 Jacques Tourneur suspense film Out of the Past, this rewed-up picture is of the "everybody uses everybody" genre, set in swank surroundings and outfitted with electronic music to make you twitch. With a plot that borrows from Chinatown and North Dallas Forty, it has so many convoluted double crosses that each time you're told what was "really" going on behind the scene you just witnessed you care less. Rachel Ward is the woman who steals and kills, lies all the time, and makes love alternately to Jeff Bridges, a pro football player, and to James (The Snake) Woods, a gamblin' man. It turns out that she's just confused, from having grown up in a nest of vipers, with a real-estate-tycoon mother (played with considerable cool by Jane Greer) and a smoothly villainous stepfather (a hambone special by Richard Widmark). The scenes aren't shaped to get anywhere, so even though the movie hops about L.A. and Mexico, the effect is static, and some sequences—such as the lovemaking set in the ancient Mayan steam house at Chichén Itza—should earn their place in the annals of camp. With Dorian Harewood, Saul Rubinek, Alex Karras, and Swoosie Kurtz, who has only two or three minutes onscreen (as a lawyer's secretary) but gets a relationship going with the audience; she's the only member of the cast who doesn't seem to have been pulped. Directed by Taylor Hackford, from a script by Eric Hughes. Columbia. color (See State of the Art.)

 

Agatha (1979)—Vanessa Redgrave has a luminously loony quality as the distraught heroine of this fictional romantic mystery, which purports to be about the 11 days in 1926 when Agatha Christie, whose husband wanted a divorce so he could marry his mistress, took off for a Yorkshire spa, where she used the mistress's name. Dustin Hoffman is furiously theatrical in the role of a preening star journalist from America who trails Agatha to the spa and falls in love with her. There is a blissful romantic moment when the goddess-tall, swan-necked Agatha responds to the journalist's (previously denied) request for a kiss by coiling over and down to reach him. The movie has a general air of knowingness, and some of the incidental dialogue is clever, though it doesn't seem to have a story—with its lulling tempo and languid elegance, it seems to be from a musing. The talent of the director, Michael Apted, is for the tactile, the plangent, the indefinite; when the action dawdles, he lets the cinematographer, Vittorio Storaro, take over. The rooms look smoked, and everything is in soft movement; this is the rare movie that is too fluid. Yet there's a gentle pull to it, and Redgrave endows Agatha Christie with the oddness of genius. With Timothy Dalton, who gives a strong, funny performance as the husband exhausted by his wife's high-powered sensitivity, and the curly-mouthed Helen Morse as the friendly woman Agatha meets at the spa, and Celia Gregory, Carolyn Pickles, Tony Britton, Timothy West, and Alan Badel. The script is credited to Kathleen Tynan, who initiated the project, and Arthur Hopcraft; additional writers were also involved. The production designer was Shirley Russell. A First Artists Production, for Warners. color (See When the Lights Go Down.)

 

L'Age d'or (1930)—The most anti-religious, most anti-bourgeois of all Luis Bunuel's films and, naturally, the most scandalous. This episodic 60-minute film—surreal, dreamlike, and deliberately, pornographically blasphemous—was written by both Bunuel and Salvador Dali, who had collaborated two years before on Un Chien andalou. With GastonModot, Lya Lys, Max Ernst, Pierre Prévert, and Jacques Brunius. In French. b & w

 

Age of Infidelity, see Death of a Cyclist

 

The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965)—There is a dreadful discrepancy between Michelangelo's works and the words put in the mouth of Charlton Heston, who represents him here, and this picture—which is mostly about a prolonged wrangle between the sculptor and Pope Julius II (Rex Harrison), who keeps sweeping into the Sistine Chapel and barking, "When will you make an end of it?"—isn't believable for an instant. It was a terrible fiasco for all concerned—the financiers as well as the artists. Carol Reed directed, from Philip Dunne's lugubrious adaptation of the massive Irving Stone best-seller. With Diane Cilento and Harry Andrews. Released by 20th Century-Fox. color

 

Ah Wilderness! (1935)—This piece of ordinary-family-life Americana, centering on the sweet love pangs of adolescence, is so remote from Eugene O'Neill's life and his other work that it's something of a freak. O'Neill said that the play came to him at night, as a dream, but it seems to be a dream based on Booth Tarkington's world. Eric Linden (who always looks as if he's just about to cry) plays the mooning high-school-valedictorian hero in the era of choking starched collars; that cloying old fraud Lionel Barrymore is his father; Wallace Beery is his tippling uncle; Mickey Rooney is his little brother; and Aline MacMahon and Spring Byington wear neat shirtwaists and make themselves useful about the house. If it sounds Andy Hardyish, it is, and more than a little; in 1948, M-G-M tried to capitalize on the resemblance by starring Rooney in a musical version of the play, called Summer Holiday. The musical turned out to be an abomination, but this early version, directed by Clarence Brown, while not a world-shaker, and rather dim as entertainment, has at last a nice, quiet, comic sense of period. With Cecilia Parker, Charley Grapewin, Frank Albertson, Bonita Granville, and Eddie Nugent. The adaptation is by Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich. M-G.M. b & w

 

L'Aigle a deux têtes, see The Eagle with Two Heads

 

Air Force (1943)—One of the "contribution-to-the-war-effort" specials—the biography of a Flying Fortress, a Boeing B-17 nicknamed Mary Ann, that heads out into the Pacific on the eve of Pearl Harbor and goes on to Wake Island and then takes part in the Coral Sea battle and, at the last, is about to participate in the raid on Tokyo. The film is one crisis after another, and the director, Howard Hawks, stages the air battles handsomely, but for the rest it helps if you're interested in the factors involved in getting a bomber somewhere and back. This is one of the most impersonal of the Hawks films; it feels manufactured rather than made. The script by Dudley Nichols, with dialogue by William Faulkner, provided what is meant to be a microcosm of democracy in motion—a melting-pot crew; on board are John Garfield as aerial gunner Winocki, George Tobias as assistant crew chief Weinberg, Gig Young as co-pilot Williams, John Ridgely as Captain Quincan-non, Arthur Kennedy as bombardier Mc-Martins, Harry Carey as crew chief White, Charles Drake as the navigator, and James Brown as Rader, who replaces the pilot. Stereotypes all, though acted with professional conviction. The cast includes Edward S. Brophy, Faye Emerson, Dorothy Peterson, Addison Richards, Ann Doran, Stanley Ridges, Willard Robertson, and Moroni Olsen. Cinematography by James Wong Howe. Warners. b & w

 

Airplane! (1980)—If you were a teen-ager in the late 50s and read the movie lampoons in Mad and watched a lot of TV series shows and a lot of cheapie old movies on television and remembered parts of all of them, jumbled together into one dumb movie—that's Airplane! It's compiled like a jokebook. Except for a genuinely funny sequence that parodies Saturday Night Fever, it has the kind of pacing that goes with a laughtrack. But the three writer-directors (Jim Abrahams and David and Jerry Zucker) keep the gags coming pop pop pop, and the picture is over blessedly fast. With Julie Hagerty and Robert Hays as the young lovers, and Leslie Nielsen, Peter Graves, Robert Stack, Lloyd Bridges, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar; celebrities such as Howard Jarvis, Maureen McGovern, Jimmie Walker, and Ethel Merman turn up in bits. Based on the 1957 movie Zero Hour. Paramount. color (See Taking It All In.)

 

Airport (1970)—Arthur Hailey, the author of the novel on which it's based, publicly explained his methods of work—the number of hours of research per character, the amount of time spent on plotting, etc. The result was the No. 1. best-seller—it sold over 4 million copies—and was bought by the producer Ross Hunter, who assembled a cast and crew with 23 Oscars among them. The baldness of all this might lull you into imagining that the result would be slick fun, but there's no electricity in it, no smart talk, no flair. Written and directed by George Seaton, it's bland entertainment of the old school: every stereotyped action is followed by a stereotyped reaction—cliches commenting on clichés. The actors play such roles as responsible, harried executive (Burt Lancaster), understanding mistress (Jean Seberg), spoiled, selfish wife (Dana Wynter), man who needs to care for someone (Dean Martin), and the someone (Jacqueline Bisset), with Helen Hayes doing her lovable-old-pixie act. The only performer who suggests a human being is Maureen Stapleton; she manages to bring some intensity out of herself—it certainly isn't in the lines. The picture was a huge success. The cast includes Barry Nelson, George Kennedy, Lloyd Nolan, Barbara Hale, and Jessie Royce Landis. Universal. color

 

Airport 1975 (1974)—Processed schlock. This could only have been designed as a TV movie and then blown up to cheapie-epic proportions. One can have a fairly good time laughing at it, but it doesn't sit too well as a joke, because the people on the screen are being humiliated. Jack Smight directed, fumblingly; Karen Black and Charlton Heston do the most emoting. The cast includes George Kennedy, Myrna Loy, Linda Blair, Helen Reddy, Gloria Swanson, Dana Andrews, and Sid Caesar. Universal. color (See Reeling.)

 

Alex & the Gypsy (1976)—Off the beaten track, but that's just about the only thing you can give it points for. Jack Lemmon is Alex, a cynical, loquacious bailbondsman, whose character is taken from the Stanley Elkin short novel The Bailbondsman, but the movie involves him with a gypsy (Genevieve Bujold) invented by the screenwriter, Lawrence B. Marcus. Lemmon is always up, and works desperately hard. And so Bujold, who's meant to be the vibrant, tempestuous one, has to fight him for every bit of audience attention, and what should be a love story is a shouting match—ersatz D. H. Lawrence and ersatz Billy Wilder. Directed by John Korty; cinematography by Bill Butler. With James Woods, Robert Emhardt, and Gino Ardito. Produced by Richard Shepherd; released by 20th Century-Fox. color (See When the Lights Go Down.)

 

Alex in Wonderland (1970)—Paul Mazursky's account of a movie director (Donald Sutherland), who has just made his first picture(Mazursky had just made his first, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice), fretting and fantasizing over his next project. Alex's fantasy life has no intensity—it's a series of emotionally antiseptic reveries, staged like the big production numbers in a musical. And the film is so loose that one's attention wanders. (It was a total commercial failure.) But Mazursky and his co-writer, Larry Tucker, have an affectionate, ambivalent way of observing the contradictions in how people live—especially in the domestic scenes of Alex and his wife (Ellen Burstyn) and their two daughters, and in the chaotic ambiance of the late-60s Hollywood, where bearded executives wear Indian headbands and consider themselves anti-Establishment. The film has very funny moments, and at least one satiric triumph: a long revue skit in which Alex goes to lunch with a manic producer (played by Mazursky). Sutherland isn't bad—he has a soft-spoken way with dialogue and he's wonderful when he leans back in fatuous satisfaction as Jeanne Moreau (who appears briefly as herself) sings to him, though he's so cool he drifts away while you're watching him. With Federico Fellini (as himself), Meg Mazursky, Glenna Sergent, and Viola Spolin. Cinematography by Laszlo Kovacs. Produced by Tucker, for M-G-M. color (See Deeper into Movies.)

 

Alexander Nevsky (1938)—Sergei Eisenstein's ponderously surging epic has a famous score by Prokofiev and a stunning battle on ice. When it's great it's very great, but there are long deadly stretches (which isn't the case with Eisenstein's other films). The plot has something to do with the 13th-century invasion of Russia by German knights; needless to say, the Russians drive the invaders out. The propaganda isn't Communist but nationalist: the medieval story was used to warn Hitler to stay out. Photographed (as were all Eisenstein's feature films) by Eduard Tisse; with Nikolai Cher-kassov as Prince Nevsky. In Russian. b & w

 

Alexander's Ragtime Band (1938)—The twenty Irving Berlin songs are reason enough for seeing the film, but you have to be prepared for the persistent, mosquito-like irritation of the plot—from 1911 to 1939 two songwriters (Tyrone Power and Don Ameche) are rivals for the affections of Alice Faye, who smiles her overripe, slow smile. Her mellow voice is wonderful on the title song and you want to cheer her rendition of "When That Midnight Choo-Choo Leaves for Alabam'," but you may get to shuddering when she ponders the First World War (exhibited to us in three seconds of newsreel shots) and murmurs, "It was all so futile, wasn't it?" This big, lavish 20th Century-Fox musical, directed by Henry King, has Ethel Merman, Jack Haley, Dixie Dunbar, Chick Chandler, Douglas Fowley, John Carradine, Helen Westley, Ruth Terry, Wally Vernon, and Jean Hersholt. Sets by Boris Leven; dances staged by Seymour Felix; the writers include Kathryn Scola, Lamar Trotti, Richard Sherman, and Irving Berlin. b & w

 

Alfie (1966)—Michael Caine gives us Alfie, the swaggering Cockney Don Juan, as he sees himself. Alfie doesn't know his own limitations; that's what makes it possible for him to charm so many "birds." Bill Naughton adapted his own material (it had already been a radio play, a stage play, and a novel—in that order) for this British picture, directed by Lewis Gilbert. It's still basically oral—Alfie addresses us, narrating his own story, and his sexual encounters are used as illustrations of his character. But Caine brings out the gusto in Naughton's dialogue and despite the obvious weaknesses in the film (the gratuitous "cinematic" barroom brawl, the clumsy witnessing of the christening, the symbolism of the dog), he keeps the viewer absorbed inAlfie, the cold-hearted sexual hotshot, and his self-exculpatory line of reasoning. The supporting performers, who appear in a series of sketches and have highly individualized roles, include Julia Foster, Jane Asher, Vivien Merchant, Millicent Martin, Eleanor Bron, Shirley Anne Field, Shelley Winters, Denholm Elliott, Alfie Bass, Graham Stark, Murray Melvin, and Sydney Tafler. The score is by Sonny Rollins. color

 

Alfredo Alfredo (1973)—Dubbed with a mellifluous Italian voice, Dustin Hoffman gives a warm and friendly performance as a shy young Italian bank clerk, and the novelty of seeing him without his own frightened, choked-up voice adds an extra dimension to this Pietro Germi comedy. Germi's method pits individuals—heaping collections of foibles—against the rigid Italian legal system, with its irrational laws governing marriage, divorce, and cohabitation. But the comic tone is a bit used; everything Germi does here he has done before, and better (especially in Divorce—Italian Style). Stefania Sandrelli plays the flighty, extravagantly romantic girl Alfredo marries; his bride's exquisite features give her a look of mystery, but she's an imbecile sphinx, mysterious yet dumb as a cow. The early scenes of her imperiousness and her enslavement of the deliriously impressed Alfredo are high slapstick. But since this character's comedy is all based on the one gag of her insatiability, she becomes as wearying to us as to the exhausted Alfredo. After the first third, the picture sags under a load of uninspired, forced gaiety. It has some beautiful gags, though. Carla Gravina plays the modern independent working woman who liberates Alfredo. Written by Leo Benvenuti, Piero De Bernardi, Tullio Pinelli, and the director. In Italian. color (See Reeling.)

 

Algiers (1938)—An entertaining piece of kitsch, featuring a torrid romance between Charles Boyer and Hedy Lamarr, making her American film début. Directed by John Cromwell, it's a remake of the infinitely superior French film, Pépé le Moko, directed by Julien Duvivier—and so close a remake that many of the original sequences are followed shot by shot. Yet this version is pure Hollywood, sacrificing everything to glamour, and the heavy makeup and studio lighting make it all seem so artificial one can get giggly. In the role that Jean Gabin made famous, Boyer (who may be an even greater actor than Gabin) is reduced to giving so many passionate, hot glances at the inhumanly beautiful Lamarr that he almost becomes a self-caricature. He plays Pepe, the French crook who is safe in the Casbah, where he lives like a lord, but who longs for Paris. And Lamarr, with her slurry German-English, plays a Parisienne visiting Algiers. Sigrid Gurie is the native girl in love with Pépé, Joseph Calleia slinks about corners as the suave detective, and Gene Lockhart is the rotten squealer. With Johnny Downs, Alan Hale. Cinematography by James Wong Howe; adaptation by John Howard Lawson, with additional dialogue by James M. Cain. (A 1948 remake, Casbah, with Tony Martin as a singing Pépé, tried for—but missed—the heat and glamour.) A Walter Wanger Production; released by United Artists. b & w

 

Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (1944)—Maria Montez and Jon Hall in a follow-up to Arabian Nights, a picture of such dreamy fatuousness that Universal made a bundle out of it. This time, plump-cheeked, slit-eyed Turhan Bey is the camp treat. With Andy Devine and Fortunio Bonanova. Directed by Arthur Lubin. color

 

Alice Adams (1935)—Katharine Hepburn, with her young, beautiful angularity and her faintly absurd Bryn Mawr accent, is superbly cast as Booth Tarkington's eager, desperate,small-town social climber. Her Alice is one of the few authentic American movie heroines. George Stevens directed with such a fine sense of detail and milieu that the small-town nagging-family atmosphere is nerve-rackingly accurate and funny. Alice is cursed with a pushing mother (Ann Shoemaker), an infantile father (Fred Stone), and a vulgar brother (Frank Albertson). The picture is cursed only by a fake happy ending: Alice gets what the movie companies considered a proper Prince Charming for her—Fred MacMurray, as a wealthy young man. Even with this flaw, it's a classic, and Hepburn gives one of her two or three finest performances—rivalled, perhaps, only by her work in Little Women and Long Day's Journey Into Night. With Hattie McDaniel, Evelyn Venable, and Hedda Hopper as a rich bitch. (A 1923 silent version, with Florence Vidor, had a more realistic ending.) R K O. b & w

 

Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1975)—Ellen Burstyn stars in this Martin Scorsese comedy, from an original script by Robert Getchell, about a 35-year-old widow who sets out with her young son to make a new life. Full of funny malice and breakneck vitality, it's absorbing and intelligent even when the issues it raises get all fouled up. With Harvey Keitel, Kris Kristofferson, Valerie Curtin, Lelia Goldoni, Lane Bradbury, Diane Ladd, Jodie Foster, and, as the son, wire-drawn little Alfred Lutter, who has crack comedy timing. Warners. color (See Reeling.)

 

Alice in Wonderland (1933)—Charmless, wooden version, with Paramount's most famous stars barely recognizable—and then only by their voices, since they appear in huge false heads. And though it's fun to recognize them that way, those voices don't do much for the Lewis Carroll lines. The film was lavishly produced, with great care given to the sets and costumes and makeup, but the spirit is missing. Charlotte Henry plays Alice (with plucked eyebrows), Cary Grant is the Mock Turtle, Gary Cooper is the White Knight, Louise Fazenda is the White Queen, Richard Arlen is the Cheshire Cat, Ned Sparks is the Caterpillar, Jack Oakie is Tweedledum, and Alison Skipworth is the Duchess. Perhaps the best remembered, however, are W. C. Fields as Humpty Dumpty, Edna May Oliver as the Red Queen, Sterling Holloway as the Frog, and Baby Le Roy as the Joker. Norman McLeod directed; the text, by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and William Cameron Menzies, includes material from Through the Looking Glass. b & w

 

Aliens (1986)—An inflated sci-fi action-horror film, this sequel to Ridley Scott's 1979 Alien is more mechanical than the first film—more addicted to "advanced" weaponry and military hardware. The movie is really a combat picture set in the future, in space. The writer-director James Cameron pits a platoon of United States Marines (ethnically assorted, of course) against a family of extraterrestrial monsters—a queen and her slimy brood. He does it in an energetic, systematic, relentless way, with an action director's gusto, and a shortage of imagination. The imagery has a fair amount of graphic power, but there's too much claustrophobic blue-green dankness. As Warrant Officer Ripley, the only human survivor of the spaceship that voyaged forth in the earlier picture, Sigourney Weaver seems to take over by natural authority and her strength as an actress. She gives the movie a presence, and Cameron toys with the sex-role reversal by turning the final confrontation with the queen into the Battle of the Big Mamas. But at 2 hours and 17 minutes this is just a very big "Boo!" movie, with bum dialogue. With Michael Biehn, Paul Reiser, Lance Henriksen, Jenette Goldstein as Vasquez the bodybuilder, and Carrie Henn as the wraithlike little girl, Newt, who is outthere in space to arouse Ripley's maternal instinct. Produced by Gale Anne Hurd, for 20th Century-Fox. color (See Hooked.)

 

All About Eve (1950)—Ersatz art of a very high grade, and one of the most enjoyable movies ever made. A young aspiring actress, Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter), intrigues to take the place of an aging star, Margo Channing (Bette Davis), on stage and in bed, and the battle is fought with tooth, claw, and a battery of epigrams. The synthetic has qualities of its own—glib, overexplicit, self-important, the "You're sneaky and corrupt but so am I—We belong to each other darling" style of writing. The scriptwriter-director Joseph L. Mankiewicz's bad taste, exhibited with verve, is more fun than careful, mousy, dehydrated good taste. His nonsense about "theatre" is saved by one performance that is the real thing: Bette Davis is at her most instinctive and assured. Her actress—vain, scared, a woman who goes too far in her reactions and emotions—makes the whole thing come alive (though it's hard to believe Anne Baxter could ever be a threat to Bette Davis). With George Sanders (as the critic Addison De Witt), Celeste Holm, Gary Merrill, Thelma Ritter, Gregory Ratoff, Hugh Marlowe, Barbara Bates, Walter Hampden, and Marilyn Monroe, who has one of her best early roles. Based on a short story and radio play by Mary Orr. Academy Awards: Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, Supporting Actor (Sanders), Costume Design (Edith Head, Charles Le Maire), Sound Recording. 20th Century-Fox. b & w

 

The All-American Boy (1973)—Jon Voight is a prizefighter suffering from a type of working-class alienation that is indistinguishable from bellyache. He mopes through the picture looking puffy, like a rain cloud about to spritz. Charles Eastman wrote and directed this disgracefully condescending view of America as a wasteland populated by grotesques, stupes, and sons of bitches; they are incapable of love and have false values—and to prove it Eastman sets Voight to walking the Antonioni walk. This is probably the only movie on record in which you can watch boxers working out in a gym while you hear a Gregorian chant. With Carol Androsky, Art Metrano, E. J. Peaker, Anne Archer, Ned Glass, Harry Northup, Rosalind Cash, Jeanne Cooper, and Jaye P. Morgan. Warners. color

 

All Fall Down (1962)—Adapted by William Inge from a James Leo Herlihy novel, this ambitious and elaborately staged John Frankenheimer film is set deep in the Inge tern-tory of homespun and gothic—that strange area of nostalgic Americana where the familiar is the Freudian grotesque. It's also a peculiar kind of fantasy, in which hideous, lecherous women (schoolteachers seem to be the worst offenders) paw handsome young men, and the one girl who might seem attractive (played by Eva Marie Saint) disqualifies herself by becoming pathetically pregnant. As the mother, Angela Lansbury at times steps free of the howling caricature she's playing and becomes extraordinarily moving. But the film turns out to be a portrait of the writer as an adolescent (Brandon deWilde plays the part) who grows up—"matures"—when he learns that the older brother he idolizes (Warren Beatty) is an empty wreck. Does anybody really grow up the way this boy grows up? He learns the truth, squares his shoulders, and walks out into the bright sunlight, as Alex North's music rises and swells in victory. How many movies have pulled this damned visual homily on us, this synthetic growing-into-a-man, as if it happened all at once and forever? Suggested party game: ask your friends to tell about the summer they grew up. The one who tells the best lie has a promising careerahead as a Hollywood screenwriter. With Karl Malden, Barbara Baxley, and Madame Spivy; cinematography by Lionel Lindon. Produced by John Houseman, for M-G-M. b & w

 

All My Sons (1948)—Edward G. Robinson is the money-hungry industrialist who ships a batch of defective airplane-engine cylinders to the Air Force, blames his partner for the crime, and causes one of his sons, an aviator, to commit suicide out of shame. Another son, Burt Lancaster, newly returned from the war, refuses to believe in his father's guilt until overwhelmed by incriminating facts, whereupon he tries to kill the old man. Meanwhile Lancaster has fallen in love with the partner's daughter (Louisa Horton), and has also had a soggy time of it at home, owing to the iron refusal of his mother (Mady Christians) to believe in the death of his aviator brother. Arthur Miller conceived this idea-ridden melodrama, and Irving Reis directed it. Surprisingly, it does work up some energy, but by then you have to be a little saintly to care. With Howard Duff and Frank Conroy. Adapted by Chester Erskine. Universal. b & w

 

All Night Long (1981)—This sophisticated slapstick romance starring Gene Hackman and Barbra Streisand is a happy surprise. Hackman, doing the kind of comic acting that rings true on every note, plays a Los Angeles business executive who gives up the phony obligations he has accumulated, drops out, and tries to find a way to do what he enjoys. Streisand plays a soft-spoken bleached blonde—intuitive and cuddly—who joins him. Directed by Jean-Claude Tramont and written by W. D. (Rick) Richter, it has a distinctive comic sensibility; at times it suggests Tati, at other times W. C. Fields, and then, maybe, Lubitsch or Max Ophuls. With Dennis Quaid as Hackman's muscular, inarticulate son; Diane Ladd as Hackman's wife; Kevin Dobson as Streisand's husband; and William Daniels as a lawyer. The poignant music that is heard is José Padilla's "La Violetera," which was also heard in Chaplin's City Lights. Universal. color (See Taking It All In.)

 

All of Me (1984)—Steve Martin is Roger, a lawyer who has been sent to revise the will of Edwina (Lily Tomlin), a rich, bedridden spinster. Edwina has imported a Tibetan swami (Richard Libertini), who at the moment of her death is supposed to capture her spiritual substance in a bronze pot and transfer it into the curvy body of the lovely Terry (Victoria Tennant), who has agreed to vacate it. Edwina instructs Roger to arrange for Terry to inherit everything she has, but he thinks she's crazy and refuses. The argument precipitates her demise, and in the confusion her spirit pops into Roger's body, and enters into joint occupancy with him. This is the nifty premise of a romantic comedy about how two antagonists in the same body fall in love. Martin and Tomlin are both uninhibited physical comics. They tune in to each other's timing the way lovers do in life, only more so, and in her early scenes Tomlin presents a distinctive enough caricature for us to sense Edwina's presence when Martin simulates her being inside him. He's a wizard at keeping her vivid for us. And the director, Carl Reiner, seems to have an intuitive rapport with the two leads, with Libertini as the disoriented Tibetan, with Jason Bernard, who plays a black musician pal of Roger's, and with the talented Madolyn Smith, who plays Roger's nasty fiancée. Reiner's weakness is that the gags aren't thought out visually in terms of the L.A. locations; the camera setups are often klunky, especially in Edwina's mansion (it's Greystone, where The Loved One was also shot, and which was for some years the base of the American Film Institute). The filmhas a halfhearted subplot about Dana Elcar as Roger's philandering boss; it also suffers a dip in energy when Edwina's spirit finally enters Terry's body, because the beautiful, mild Victoria Tennant doesn't indicate that Terry is at all changed. Edwina seems to disappear (but she comes back). Parts of this picture give viewers the kind of giddy pleasure that is often what we most want from the movies. The ingenious script, by Phil Alden Robinson, was adapted from an unpublished novel, Me Two, by Ed Davis. Universal. color (See State of the Art.)

 

All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)—Over a hundred million people have gone to theatres to see it and have—perhaps—responded to its pacifist message. One could be cynical about the results, but the film itself does not invite cynical reactions, and the fact that it has frequently been banned in countries preparing for war suggests that it makes militarists uncomfortable. Erich Maria Remarque's 1929 novel, on which it is based, was already famous when Lewis Milestone directed this attack on the senseless human waste of war, made in Hollywood. It follows a handful of young German volunteers in the First World War from school to battlefield, and shows the disintegration of their romantic ideas of war, gallantry, and fatherland in the squalor of the trenches. Except for Louis Wolheim, who is capable of creating a character with a minimum of material, the actors—Lew Ayres, Slim Summerville, Russell Gleason, Billy Bakewell, John Wray, Raymond Griffith, Ben Alexander—are often awkward, uncertain, and overemphatic, but this doesn't seem to matter very much. The point of the film gets to you, and though you may wince at the lines Maxwell Anderson wrote (every time he opens his heart, he sticks his poetic foot in it), you know what he means. (The year 1930 was, of course, a good year for pacifism, which always flourishes between wars; Milestone didn't make pacifist films during the Second World War—nor did anybody else working in Hollywood. And wasn't it perhaps easier to make All Quiet just because its heroes were German? War always seems like a tragic waste when told from the point of view of the losers. It would be an altogether different matter to present the death of, say, R.A.F. pilots in the Second World War as tragic waste.) George Cukor was dialogue director, coaching Lew Ayres, in particular; Arthur Edeson did the cinematography; George Abbott, Del Andrews, and Milestone also had a hand in the script. The cast includes Beryl Mercer, Vince Barnett, Heinie Conklin, Edwin Maxwell, Marion Clayton, Yola D'Avril, and Fred Zinnemann, who had just arrived in Hollywood after studying film in Paris and Berlin—he does double duty as a German soldier and a French ambulance driver. Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director. Originally 145 minutes; cut when it was reissued in 1939. (Remade in 1979 as a film for TV, with Delbert Mann as director.) Universal. b & w

 

All Screwed Up Tutto a Posto e Niente in Ordine (1974)—Lina Wertmüller finished this film early in 1974, just before starting Swept Away. It's a noisy, sprawling, incident-filled, slice-of-life comedy-melodrama about the corruption of the Sicilians who go to Milan. Several aspects of the film, such as its poignant hero, Carletto (Nino Bignamini), and the scene showing the monotonous dehumanization of labor, are reminiscent of René Clair's A nous la liberté (which also influenced Chaplin's Modern Times). But Wertmüller's point of view is chaotic. The women workers are shown as tightfisted petit-bourgeois schemers who manipulate and exploit their likable proletarian men, and there's a ballet in a slaughterhouse, which has comic bravura but is so ambiguous that we seem to be asked to laugh at the dead animals. LinaPolito, who was the dark Tripolina in Love and Anarchy, is here thin and blond as the lovely Mariuccia, who has quintuplets; Isa Danieli is the dark, soft-faced Elizabeth Taylor-type who turns prostitute. Cinematography by Giuseppe Rotunno. In Italian. color

 

All That Heaven Allows (1955)—A trashy love story about the attraction between a natural man (Rock Hudson, as a New England tree surgeon) and a frustrated-by-respectability rich widow (Jane Wyman) who is some fifteen years older than he and has two grown children. Hudson and Wyman are hardly an electric combination, but this Ross Hunter production is made with so much symbolism that some people actually see it as allegorical. Its reputation derives from the slurpy, peculiarly glossy intensity of Douglas Sirk's direction—the same sort of pop spirituality that he had brought to Ross Hunter's Magnificent Obsession, with the same two stars, the year before. Sirk's blend of Germanic kitsch and Hollywood kitsch was a major influence on the young German director Fassbinder, whose work is a further formalization of Sirk's schematic sentimentality. With Agnes Moorehead, Conrad Nagel, Virginia Grey, Gloria Talbott, and Charles Drake. Written by Peg Fenwick. Universal. color

 

All the King's Men (1949)—Broderick Crawford's Willie Stark might just make you feel better about the President you've got. Robert Penn Warren's novel about the rise of a bullheaded demagogue (modelled on Huey Long) was turned into a rousing melodrama, full of graft, double-dealing, and strong-arm excitement. Robert Rossen adapted the novel and directed; the film took the Academy Award for Best Picture, with Broderick Crawford also winning Best Actor, and Mercedes McCambridge, as tough Sadie, winning Best Supporting Actress. It's by no means a great film, but it moves along. With John Ireland, Joanne Dru, John Derek, and Shepperd Strudwick; cinematography by Burnett Guffey. Columbia. b & w

 

All the Way Home (1963)—This adaptation of the Tad Mosel play, set in Knoxville in 1915 and based on James Agee's semi-autobiographical novel A Death in the Family, is terribly earnest, pictorial, and well-intentioned. And a terrible mistake. Robert Preston had been a favorite actor of Agee's, but he's clearly in the wrong age bracket to play a young married man, and even the lovely Jean Simmons can't do anything to save her role as his wife, who soon becomes his widow. Michael Kearney is extremely unengaging as the bereaved child. With Aline MacMahon and Pat Hingle. Directed by Alex Segal; adapted by Philip Reisman, Jr.; cinematography by Boris Kaufman. Paramount. b & w

 

All Through the Night (1942)—The title of this Humphrey Bogart picture is taken from the Johnny Mercer and Arthur Schwartz song (which is sung in a nightclub sequence) and doesn't provide a clue to what the story is about. Some people might think this is one of the good Bogarts that they've missed; on the contrary it's a sugar-coated anti-Nazi message comedy, and so negligible that you've forgotten it ten minutes after you've staggered out. (It feels long.) Concocted by Leonard Spigelgass and Edwin Gilbert from a rattlebrained screen story by Spigelgass and Leonard Ross, and directed (ineptly) by Vincent Sherman, it's set in New York (a studio version) during the Second World War. Bogart is "Gloves" Donohue, a Broadway gambler-promoter, and he and his bunch of meant-to-be-lovable Damon Runyonesque demi-racketeers (among them, Frank Mc-Hugh, William Demarest, Jackie Gleason) rout an entire Nazi fifth column organization, headed by the supersuave Conrad Veidt,dachshund-loving Judith Anderson, and baby-face hit-man Peter Lorre, who operate under cover of an antiques-auction business. This movie oozes sentimentality, and the coy, frolicsome music is like a TV laugh track. With Jane Darwell at her folksy phoniest as Bogart's Irish ma, Phil Silvers as a nearsighted waiter, Kaaren Verne as the heroine, and Martin Kosleck, Sam McDaniel, Barton MacLane, Wallace Ford, and Ludwig Stossel. Produced by Hal B. Wallis and Jerry Wald, for Warners. b & w

 

The Alphabet Murders (1965)—Tony Randall as Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot, with Robert Morley as Major Hastings. Frank Tashlin directed this attempt at a stylish comedy-thriller; it goes very wrong—there's no suspense, because we have no idea what's going on, and the spoofy, slapstick embellishments are almost painfully self-conscious. Randall—perhaps just because he's so talented and inventive—mugs too much: he's always doing something, and then when he does something really good, we're too tired of him to react. Adapted from The ABC Murders, by David Pursall and Jack Seddon. With Anita Ekberg, Maurice Denham, James Villiers, and Guy Rolfe. Made in England. b & w

 

Alphaville (1965)—Jean-Luc Godard ventures into science fiction, with mixed results. The picture is brilliant, yet it's no good. Godard found enough of the future in present-day Paris to create a vision of a new world without constructing sets; it's a sleek, dark, glittering society—at first, the dehumanization is funny and alluring and a little eerie. The modern corridors and ramps and the flickering lights suggest something almost supernaturally impersonal. But the people of Alphaville are ruled by a giant computer, and soullessness can be very monotonous. The movie was shot at night, and it seems to give off powerfully soporific vapors, especially since the comic-strip story is an uninspired mixture of sci-fi and private eye that never takes hold. With Eddie Constantine as cool, tough Lemmy Caution (his face is so tired and leathery he's like an old shoe); Anna Karina—she's the most radiant of robots; Akim Tamiroff; Laszlo Szabo; Michel Delahaye; and Howard Vernon. Written and directed by Godard; cinematography by Raoul Coutard; the score, which has elements of parody, is by Paul Misraki. (In the 1968 Weekend, Godard has a very different vision of the dehumanized future: the consumer society regresses to barbarism and cannibalism.) In French. b & w

 

Altered States (1980)—An aggressively silly head-horror movie, the result of the misalliance of two wildly different hyperbolic talents—the director Ken Russell and the writer Paddy Chayefsky. The picture deals with the efforts of a psychophysiologist (William Hurt), who has lost his belief in God, to find the source and meaning of life by immersing himself in an isolation tank, and ingesting a brew of blood and sacred mushrooms. Chayefsky's dialogue is like a series of position papers. Russell uses a lot of tricks to spare you the misery of hearing the words declaimed straight, but no matter how hopped up the delivery is, you can't help feeling that you're in a lecture hall and that the characters should all have pointers. There are some effectively scary Jekyll-and-Hyde tricks, and Hurt, making his movie debut, brings a cool, quivering untrustworthiness to his rewed-up mad-scientist role; this young scientist is neurasthenic, charismatic, and ready to try anything. But Russell clomps from one scene to the next, the psychedelic visions come at you like choppy slide shows, and the picture has a dismal, tired humanistic ending. With Bob Balaban and Charles Haid, and with Blair Brown in an updated version of the thanklessrole of the worrying, hand-wringing wife. She's an anthropologist with a job at Harvard, but all she does is fret. Cinematography by Jordan Cronenweth. Released in the U.S. by Warners. color (See Taking It All In.)

 

Altri Tempi, see Times Gone By

 

Alvin Purple (1974)—Soft-core porno from Australia, said to be the most financially successful film made there up to that time. It's reminiscent of Russ Meyer's The Immoral Mr. Teas, but the director, Tim Burstall, isn't innocently clunky like Meyer; his film gives one the impression of a director who is trying to regress to a pubescent state. The premise is that every girl and woman, and even a fella, wants Alvin (Graeme Blundell); as a high-school boy, he is besieged, and when he goes out into the world it's even worse. He functions without a visible erection, which probably accounts for the R rating. A half hour of this picture, and you feel sentenced to eternal giggly imbecility. color

 

Always (1989)—A Guy Named Joe made Steven Spielberg cry when he was 12; his remake can make you want to cry at the waste of his talent and your time. All he seems to want to do in each scene is get an audience reaction; almost everything is grandiloquent, rushed, confusing. And the whole idea has a voyeuristic queasiness. A miscast Richard Dreyfuss is the daredevil hero. The ace pilot of the wilderness-fire-fighting service, he is in love with Holly Hunter. He dies, but returns to serve as the spiritual guide of a shy young pilot (amateurish Brad Johnson), who replaces him in her (grief-stricken) affections. As Dreyfuss's supervisory angel, Audrey Hepburn delivers transcendental inanities in the cadences that have stoned audiences at the Academy Awards; she's become a ceremonial icon. As Dreyfuss's best friend, John Goodman is turned into a fat-jolly-buddy icon; he saves himself from darlingness, but just barely. With Marg Helgenberger as Rachel. The new screenplay is credited to Jerry Belson, though it plays like an amalgam. Amblin Entertainment, for Universal. color (See Movie Love.)

 

Always a Bride (1953)—Peggy Cummins is the girl who goes from hotel to hotel playing a deserted bride in a suave little confidence game. The English had a phenomenal streak during the 50s; they made so many pleasant, deft comedies that this one didn't get much attention here. Peggy Cummins is a fresh comedienne; it's a pity she couldn't have been paired with someone livelier than Terence Morgan, but she does have Ronald Squire as her father, and the cast includes James Hayter, Marie Lohr, Jacques Brunius, Charles Goldner, and Sebastian Cabot. The director, Ralph Smart, wrote the script with Peter Jones. b & w

 

Amadeus (1984)—The lofty playwright Peter Shaffer has the minor composer Salieri (F. Murray Abraham) declaring war on Heaven for gypping him, and determined to ruin the incomparable Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Tom Hulce) because God's voice is speaking through him. The story is told to a priest (and to us) many years later, by the mad, suicidal old Salieri, and there is the suggestion that what we're seeing is his delusion, but the weight of the production, which is reminiscent of big biographical movies such as The Life of Emile Zola and A Song to Remember, asserts its own kind of authority. The director, Milos Forman, trudges through the movie as if every step were a major contribution to art, and he keeps the audience hooked. Some redeeming qualities: Mozart's music, Twyla Tharp's staging of the dances and opera excerpts, Abraham's eager, slimy Salieri, Jeffrey Jones' amusingly vapid Emperor Joseph II, and downtown Prague as 18th-century Vienna.Academy Awards: Best Picture, Director, Actor (Abraham), Adapted Screenplay, Art Direction, Costume Design, Makeup, Sound. Produced by Saul Zaentz; an Orion release. color (See State of the Art.)

 

L'Amant de cinq jours, see The Five-Day Lover

 

Les Amants de Teruel, see The Lovers of Teruel

 

Les Amants de Verone, see Lovers of Verona

 

America America (1963)—Elia Kazan's account, drawn from his own family background, of the fierce struggle of a Greek boy at the turn of the century to escape the persecutions that the Greeks suffered in Turkey and to make his way to the fabled land of opportunity. Though the picture is flawed by the miscasting of the central role (Stathis Giallelis doesn't convince you that he has the will or the passion—or the brains—to realize his dream), and the main narrative line is unconvincing melodrama, there are some fine images, such as the sealed, stifling, yet warm and inviting interiors of a rich merchant's home in Constantinople, and some memorable performances, such as Paul Mann's as the merchant and Linda Marsh's as his daughter. You can feel the desperate ambitiousness to create an epic (this film was intended as the first of a trilogy), and some of the crowd scenes that the cinematographer, Haskell Wexler, has shot have scale and turmoil and a feeling of authenticity. Yet the hero is so blandly uninteresting that there's nothing to hold the movie together, and the tired ideas in the script (by Kazan)—such as a Judas figure who robs the hero and a Christ figure who gives his life for the hero—become embarrassing. With Lou Antonio, Salem Ludwig, Frank Wolff, and John Marley. Music by Manos Hadjidakis; editing by Dede Allen; production design by Gene Callahan. (168 minutes.) Warners. b & w

 

America at the Movies (1976)—An anxiously inspirational compilation film put together by the American Film Institute for the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration; you can't just enjoy the clips as reminders of the 83 movies they're from, because the whole enterprise has such an official, high moral tone. You feel as if you're supposed to go out determined to do better on your next report card. color and b & w (See When the Lights Go Down.)

 

The American Friend (1977)—The young German director Wim Wenders is attracted to the idea of telling a story, but he can't quite keep his mind on it; he overdoses on mood—poetic urban masochism—in this adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's crime novel Ripley's Game. Wenders' unsettling compositions are neurotically beautiful visions of a disordered world, but the film doesn't have the nasty, pleasurable cleverness of a good thriller; dramatically, it's stagnant—inverted Wagnerianism. Bruno Ganz is impressive as the watchful, anxious-eyed hero; with more than a half-dozen directors (including Dennis Hopper, Nicholas Ray, Gérard Blain, and Samuel Fuller) playing crooks. Script by Wenders; cinematography by Robby Müller. In English, German, and French. color (See When the Lights Go Down.)

 

American Hot Wax (1978)—Cheerfully, trashily enjoyable, even though the hero, the disc jockey Alan Freed (well played by Tim McIntire), is made so righteous that he's like Buford Pusser fighting the enemies of rock 'n' roll. The moviemakers (the director Floyd Mutrux, the producer Art Linson, the screenwriter John Kaye) should have had more trust in the 5os rock milieu and in their own talents. Freed's secretary, Sheryl (Fran Drescher), isso entertainingly shrill that she might have had Jean Harlow for a voice teacher; his shovel-faced chauffeur, Mookie (Jay Leno), teases her and keeps her shrieking in outrage. This is a super B-movie. With Laraine Newman, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Moosie Drier as the 12-year-old president of the Buddy Holly Fan Club (5,000 members). The lively cinematography is by William A. Fraker. Paramount. color (See When the Lights Go Down.)

 

An American in Paris (1951)—The Academy Award-winning musical, directed by Vincente Minnelli, about a romance between an American painter (Gene Kelly) and a French girl (Leslie Caron). Too fancy and overblown (there's a ballet with scenes in the styles of Dufy, Renoir, Utrillo, Rousseau, van Gogh, and Toulouse-Lautrec), but the two dancing lovers have infectious grins and the Gershwin music keeps everything good-spirited. The songs include "I Got Rhythm," "Embraceable You," and "'S Wonderful," and Georges Guétary sings a spiffy arrangement of "I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise." With Nina Foch as a rich, decadent American, and Oscar Levant thumping away happily on the piano. Written by Alan Jay Lerner; choreographed by Kelly; art direction by Cedric Gibbons and Preston Ames; produced by Arthur Freed. M-G-M. color

 

American Madness (1932)—A topical melodrama of the Depression. It's about a run on a bank—and with a twist that is purest Hollywood. The big banker (Walter Huston) is the hero, and it's his lower-echelon employees who are the villains. Frank Capra directed, and Robert Riskin wrote the script. Capra's dramatic use of the bank, where almost all the action is set, is ingenious, and the sequences of the mounting panic and the storming of the bank are effectively staged, but the resolution is the usual Capra-Riskin populist hokum: the small depositors, grateful to Huston for his help in the past, bring in their savings to preserve his bank from ruin. (Even this early in his career, Capra often underestimated the audience.) In some cities, the picture was too topical: in Baltimore, it opened the day after a bank panic and closed in 48 hours. With Pat O'Brien, Constance Cummings, Kay Johnson, and Gavin Gordon. Columbia. b & w

 

An American Tragedy (1931)—This version of the Dreiser novel, scripted by Samuel Hoffenstein and directed by Josef von Sternberg, is best in the scenes relating to the poor, pregnant factory girl, Roberta (Sylvia Sidney), and her drowning; Sylvia Sidney is so appealing that the pathos of Roberta's situation is intensified. However, the film vulgarizes Dreiser's conception of Clyde Griffiths (the handsome, long-jawed, blond Phillips Holmes, who died young), and turns his drives and actions into tabloid commonplaces. Von Sternberg shows surprisingly little of the feeling for psychological complexity that he had brought to The Blue Angel the year before, and Dreiser furiously protested this picture (he sued Paramount). Although the film respects his framework, it seems indifferent to what it meant in the novel. What's left—a tragic romance—is still very affecting. Frances Dee is the rich Sondra (the role Elizabeth Taylor played in a later version, A Place in the Sun), and the cast includes Irving Pichel. Lee Garmes is the cinematographer. b & w

 

Amici per la Pelle Also known as Friends for Life and The Woman in the Painting. (1955)—Franco Rossi's film is an intuitive study of the emotional involvement of two boys—glittering little fawns who suggest an earlier stage in the lives of the schoolboys of Les Enfants terribles. Films that deal with the pains of love in the undifferentiated periodof early adolescence are usually crude and coy; this one is almost too tender, too "sensitive" to the beauty of youthful agony. But it respects the dreams and the humor of its subjects. Dark, incredibly beautiful Geronimo Meynier is the assured Mario; blond Andrea Scire (the more gifted actor of the two) is Franco. This movie is conceived on a small scale and it never attracted much of an audience here except among homosexuals—although it doesn't have any overt homosexual content. In Italian. b & w

 

Among the Living (1941)—Forgettable horror item about two brothers, one of them a homicidal maniac, the other a prosperous, married citizen; Albert Dekker, unshaved when mad, shaved when sane, plays the pair. With Frances Farmer and Harry Carey. Directed by Stuart Heisler. Paramount. b & w

 

D'Amore e d'Anarchia, see Love and Anarchy

 

The Amorous Bus Driver (1953)—(From Tempi Nostri, the omnibus of five short stories directed by Alessandro Blasetti, released in the U.S. in 1959 as Anatomy of Love.) In middle age, Vittorio De Sica exhibited a facility for romantic self-satire (Gina Lollobrigida and Sophia Loren bloomed when he leered). His performance here is a demonstration of the traditional (and highly enjoyable) Italian overacting in which character is subordinate to the florid gestures of gallantry. He's a happy Neapolitan bus-driver who swerves from his prescribed route whenever he sees a woman he deems worth following. With Maria Fiore (who did some chasing of her own in Two Cents Worth of Hope) and Eduardo de Filippo. In Italian. b & w

 

Un Amour de Swann, see Swann in Love

 

L'Amour fou (1968)—During the first half hour, there's a strong temptation to flee from this legendary Jacques Rivetsa film, which moves back and forth between the rehearsals for an experimental production of Racine's Andromaque and the disintegrating marriage of the actor-director (Jean-Pierre a) and his actress-wife (Bulle Ogier). But those who stick with the film may find that Rivette's measured, unemphatic style begins to take hold. Tight little Bulle Ogier is ominously compelling; she gives a superlative performance. And there has never been anything like the folie-à-deux sex-and-destruction orgy that climaxes the marriage. The purpose of the juxtapositions remains damned elusive, but a highly intellectualized horror story develops inside the smooth, elegantly patterned, abstract camera movement. Rivette has a hypnotic style, partly because of his unusual spatial sense and his "normal" use of time. (4 hours and 12 minutes.) In French. b & w

 

L'Amour, l'après-midi, see Chloe in the Afternoon

 

Anatahan (1953)—Josef von Sternberg's last film; he did not, regrettably, go out in glory. He wrote the screenplay, directed, photographed, and narrated this story, which was shot in a Japanese studio and is based on an actual incident involving a group of Japanese soldiers who were castaways for seven years on a tiny Pacific island during and after the Second World War. However, as he tells it, the men's battles over a sulky, lusting femme fatale called Keiko (Akemi Negishi, who is photographed as if she were Marlene Dietrich in a 30s Paramount swampy jungle) are so pointless and unbelievable that you barely react as they kill one another off. The island has so many dead trees, shining leaves, and writhing shadows that you just want to get out of there. b & w

 

Anchors Aweigh (1945)—This Gene Kelly-Frank Sinatra musical has an abundance of energy and spirit, and you may feel it could be wonderful if it weren't so stupidly wholesome, and if you could just do something about Kathryn Grayson and José Iturbi—like maybe turn Terry Southern loose on them. The sugary wholesomeness was the stock in trade of the producer, Joe Pasternak; characters in his movies always look scrubbed and sexless, and act embarrassingly young. Pasternak doesn't destroy Kelly's bounding vitality, however; this was the hit movie that made him a hugely popular star. He and Sinatra play sailors on shore leave in Hollywood who get involved with Grayson, a singer working as an extra and living with her chubby-faced angelic little nephew (Dean Stockwell). In the worst sequence, Sinatra sings Brahms' "Lullaby" to Stockwell. Kelly has three big dance numbers, including the famous Jerry the Mouse cartoon dance, and he and Sinatra perform together amiably. With Pamela Britton, Edgar Kennedy, Grady Sutton, Rags Ragland, Billy Gilbert, and Sharon McManus—the little girl who dances with Kelly. George Sidney directed; Kelly choreographed, with Stanley Donen assisting. The songs are mostly by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne. M-G-M. color

 

And Then There Were None (1945)—The Agatha Christie murder mystery and play Ten Little Indians (known in England as Ten Little Niggers) gathers together a group of characters and then ticks them off to the nursery rhyme. Ten people are invited to spend a weekend on an island by a host none of them knows; on arrival, they are notified by phonograph that their host, in absentia, is going to punish them for various crimes they have committed, and they start keeling over like plague victims. This René Clair version isn't exactly full of life to start with, despite the cast—Judith Anderson, June Duprez, Roland Young, Walter Huston, Mischa Auer, Barry Fitzgerald, Richard Haydn, Louis Hayward, C. Aubrey Smith, Queenie Leonard, and Harry Thurston. The efforts at sprightly, stylish comedy don't gain much momentum. Adapted by Dudley Nichols. (There were English versions made in 1965 and 1974. The Christie material was also parodied in the boisterous, unfunny 1976 Murder By Death, written by Neil Simon.) 20th Century-Fox. b & w

 

The Anderson Tapes (1971)—An energetic but coarsely made comic melodrama about an attempt to rob all the tenants of a New York apartment house. As the gang leader, Sean Connery manages to rise above the material; most of the rest of the cast plays in a broad style, and there have rarely been so many small, sleazy performances in one movie. (They're so bad they stand out.) A lot of time is spent on a gimmick—everybody's conversations are being recorded—which turns out to be totally irrelevant to the plot. Some may be willing to call this irony. Directed by Sidney Lumet; screenplay by Frank R. Pierson, from a novel by Lawrence Sanders. With Martin Balsam, Dyan Cannon, Alan King, Ralph Meeker, Christopher Walken, Garrett Morris, Val Avery, Dick Williams, Richard B. Schull, Margaret Hamilton, Anthony Holland, Max Showalter, Stan Gottlieb, and Conrad Bain. Columbia. color

 

Androcles and the Lion (1952)—After Shaw's death, Gabriel Pascal, who had produced Shaw adaptations in England with considerable success but had come a cropper with the lavish Caesar and Cleopatra, produced his last Shaw work in Hollywood, at R K O. He hired Jean Simmons, who had had a small part in Caesar and Cleopatra, and Robert Newton, who had attracted attention in Major Barbara, and Maurice Evans, Elsa Lanchester, Alan Mowbray, Reginald Gardiner, and JohnHoyt. The part of Androcles was assigned to the American comedian Alan Young, but since Victor Mature was put in as a Roman captain, opposite Jean Simmons, and his role beefed up to match his physique, Androcles dwindled in importance. Shaw's comedy of ancient Rome came to resemble the Hollywood Roman spectacles of the early-50s period. But if the film isn't one thing or the other, it isn't a total travesty, either—it's rather pleasant. Simmons is lovely to watch and to listen to, and some parts have the Shaw waggishness and charm. Chester Erskine directed, and did the adaptation with Ken Englund; cinematography by Harry Stradling. The cast includes Jim Backus and Gene Lockhart. b & w

 

The Andromeda Strain (1971)—Biological invasion from outer space. The rapidly expanding green muck is like the various slimy menaces in the unpretentious sci-fi thrillers of the 50s, but Robert Wise, who made this expensive version of the Michael Crichton novel, having chosen a fanatically realistic documentary style, has failed to solve the dramatic problems in the original story. The suspense is strong, but not pleasurable. With Arthur Hill, David Wayne, James Olson, Kate Reid, and Paula Kelly. Universal. color (See Deeper into Movies.)

 

Angel (1937)—The only Marlene Dietrich movie directed by Ernst Lubitsch (though the year before he was the producer of Desire). One might expect them to bring out the scintillating best in each other, but the picture is too prettily contrived, and the craftsmanship is right on the surface. Dietrich plays the lonely foreign wife of an eminent English diplomat (Herbert Marshall); she skips off for a day to Paris and visits a house of assignation (euphemistically called a salon) presided over by Laura Hope Crews. There she meets Melvyn Douglas (another government official), and he falls passionately in love with her. Naturally, he turns up at her London home. This is one of Dietrich's stiffest, most impassive performances; the role doesn't give her anything to do but look blankly frightened that her husband will discover her guilty secret. Boredom must have set in for her, because when she has to express emotional turmoil she rattles off her lines without conviction. For want of action, the movie keeps cutting to what's going on among the fleet of servants, which includes Ernest Cossart and also Edward Everett Horton, who playacts as if to an audience of fey 3-year-olds. This movie isn't essentially different from the best of Lubitsch, but it's attenuated. It's the sort of cultivated triangular love affair in which each of the three has a turn at the piano, and Marshall and Douglas, whose acting is a matter of lifted eyebrows and the smallest shifts of inflection, have the affable man-of-the-world conversations that were a feature of "polished" 30s comedies. With Herbert Mundin, Ivan Lebedeff, Dennie Moore, and Herbert Evans. The screenplay is by Samson Raphaelson, from a play by Melchior Lengyel. Paramount. b & w

 

Angel and the Badman (1947)—Pleasantly unslick minor Western, with John Wayne as Quirt, the gunfighter who reforms, matched against Bruce Cabot as the villainous Laredo. It's easily distinguishable from other Wayne Westerns: Gail Russell, of the sexy-sad eyes, is the Quaker heroine—one of the few Western heroines who suggests softness and body warmth. James Edward Grant, who worked on many Wayne films as a writer, was both writer and director this time; he did not excel in the latter capacity, though he did stage a classic Wayne walk to meet the villains for the final shootout. Wayne is in a dark shirt and dark wide hat, and he moves fast, swivel-hipped, like a broken-field runner. With Irene Rich, Harry Carey, Lee Dixon, TomPowers, and Paul Hurst. The second unit director, Yakima Canutt, was responsible for the big action sequences. A John Wayne Production, for Republic. b & w

 

Angel Heart (1987)—There's no way to separate the occult from the incomprehensible in this Alan Parker film set in 1955. Mickey Rourke plays a private eye who is hired by a mysterious client (Robert De Niro) to search for information about a crooner of the prewar era who has disappeared. Rourke searches in the murkiest holes in America—New Orleans is almost as dim as the New York slums. Every place Rourke goes is artfully arranged to be scuzzy, and he's scuzzy, although women don't seem to mind. He has a cajoling, intimate manner with Elizabeth Whitcraft as a ready-for-action blonde, with Charlotte Rampling as a sullen psychic, and especially with the sexpot Lisa Bonet as a teen-age Mambo priestess who has a penchant for smearing herself with chicken blood. This is a lavishly sombre piece of hokum—funereal and loony. Parker broods while serving up slit throats, bodies with hearts cut out (and placed nearby for your delectation), a man plunged face down in a vat of scalding gumbo, chickens being drained in voodoo rites, and assorted solemn mutilations. And it all looks fussed over. Parker simply doesn't have the gift of making evil seductive, and he edits like a flasher. With Brownie McGhee, Michael Higgins, and Stocker Fontelieu in the vat. Parker wrote the screenplay, based on William Hjortsberg's Falling Angel. Cinematography by Michael Seresin; music by Trevor Jones. Tri-Star. color (See Hooked.)

 

Angel on My Shoulder (1946)—Gangster whimsey—which is to say the very worst kind. Paul Muni is depressingly arch as a tough-talking gangster who is shot, sent to Hell, and there discovered by the Devil (Claude Rains) to be a dead ringer for an upstanding judge who has been saving people and sending them to Heaven. In order to spread evil on earth, the Devil arranges to get the bad guy into the body of the judge; pretty soon the gangster is involved in a political campaign, and with the judge's fiancée (Anne Baxter), too. The picture was a deserved flop. Archie Mayo directed. United Artists. b & w

 

Angels Over Broadway (1940)—Ben Hecht wrote, produced, and, with the famous cinematographer Lee Garmes, directed this night-life story about a poor clerk (John Qualen) who is going to kill himself if he can't get $3,000, and a drunken playwright (Thomas Mitchell) who takes him in charge. The playwright thinks that since sharp gamblers always let you win at poker before they trim you, the trick is to leave the game early. Rita Hayworth and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., are the young lovers who complicate the playwright's plan. Hecht's characters talk too much, but he was a compulsive gambler himself, and there's a genial, original spirit to this movie. Columbia. b & w

 

Angels with Dirty Faces (1938)—An entertaining picture lurks behind that uninviting title. Warners threw its assets together in this one: James Cagney at his cockiest as a gangster, Pat O'Brien as a priest, and Humphrey Bogart, Ann Sheridan, George Bancroft, and the Dead End Kids, too. It has jokes and romance and a smashing big last sequence on Death Row—the priest asks the gangster to act cowardly when he's executed, so that he won't be a hero to the Dead End Kids, and Cagney comes through with a rousing finale. Michael Curtiz directed; John Wexley and Warren Duff wrote the screenplay, based on Rowland Brown's story. (It was followed the next year by The Angels Wash Their Faces.) b & w

 

Animal Crackers (1930)—The Marx Brothers in their pre-Hollywood period; like The Cocoanuts of the year before, it was a Broadway musical comedy, slightly adapted, and filmed in Astoria—and it looks stagey. But the film is too joyous for cavilling. Groucho is the fearless African explorer Captain Spaulding, who deigns to attend a party at Rittenhouse Manor on Long Island; Margaret Dumont is Mrs. Rittenhouse and Lillian Roth is her daughter Arabella. Arguably the best line: "Signor Ravelli's first selection will be 'Somewhere My Love Lies Sleeping' with a male chorus." Once again, the writers were George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind; this time the songs (the justly celebrated "Hooray for Captain Spaulding" and "Why Am I So Romantic") were by Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby. Directed by Victor Heerman. Paramount. b & w

 

Anna and the King of Siam (1946)—In this first movie version of Margaret Landon's account of the Englishwoman who went to Siam in 1862 to teach the multitudinous children of the barbaric king, Irene Dunne is Anna to Rex Harrison's king. Harrison wears a dusky makeup and a pair of short pants that wrap around his haunches, and he speaks in a quaint dialect—a sort of pidgin Piccadilly—but he's never less than magnetically ridiculous. You don't want to take your eyes off him—certainly not to watch Irene Dunne curtsying in her starched petticoats. It's pitifully unauthentic, and not a very good movie, either, but the story itself holds considerable interest. Linda Darnell is brashly American but luscious as the king's favorite wife; with Lee J. Cobb, well-tanned, as the bare-chested Siamese prime minister, and Gale Sondergaard, Mikhail Rasumny, and John Abbott. Directed by John Cromwell, from the script by Talbot Jennings and Sally Benson; score by Bernard Herrmann. (In the 1956 musical version, The King and I, the leads were Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner.) 20th Century-Fox. b & w

 

Anna Christie (1930)—One waits for an eternity for Garbo to show up and utter her first talking-picture line—"Give me a whiskey, ginger ale on the side. And don't be stingy, baby." This is not one of Eugene O'Neill's best plays, and dat-ole-davil-sea stuff is pretty hard to take in this version, directed by Clarence Brown. The cast includes Charles Bickford, Marie Dressler, and George F. Marion. M-G-M. b & w

 

Anna Karenina (1935)—Greta Garbo is Anna in this version, directed by Clarence Brown from a screenplay that S. N. Behrman, Clemence Dane, and Salka Viertel all worked on. The picture is more M-G-M than Tolstoy; the cast includes Fredric March as Vronsky and Basil Rathbone as Karenin, and also Maureen O'Sullivan, Constance Collier, May Robson, Mischa Auer, and Freddie Bartholomew. God knows it isn't all it might be, and Garbo isn't even at her best, but she's there to be gazed upon. b & w

 

Anne of the Thousand Days (1970)—This version of the events that led Henry VIII to make himself head of the Church of England is intelligent from line to line, but the emotions that are supplied seem hypothetical, and the conception lacks authority. Richard Burton's Henry is conceived as a weak, tentative, somewhat apologetic monarch, and though Burton delivers his speeches with considerable sureness and style, his performance is colorless; it's almost as if he remembered how to act but couldn't work up much enthusiasm or involvement. Geneviève Bujold's Anne Boleyn is a clever, wily, sexually experienced young girl who keeps the King waiting for her sexual favors for six years—until he can marry her and make their children heirs to the throne. Bujold works at therole with all her will and intelligence, and her readings are often extraordinary, but she's too tight and too self-contained; one admires her as an actress but does not really warm to her performance. The adapters sharpened Maxwell Anderson's play, and the dialogue is often much crisper than one anticipates, but the script has a structural weakness: it does not convince us that after all those years of waiting for Anne the King would turn against her when she gives birth to a daughter. And at the end we're left with Maxwell Anderson's glowing, fatuous hindsight: a final shot of Anne's posthumous triumph—the baby Elizabeth wandering about, deserted, as her foolish father, who doesn't know what we know, goes off to beget a male heir. The director is Charles (Static Camera) Jarrott; with Irene Papas, Michael Hordern, John Colicos, and Anthony Quayle. Script by John Hale and Bridget Boland. Produced by Hal B. Wallis, for Universal. color (See Deeper into Movies.)

 

L'Année dernière à Marienbad, see Last Year at Marienbad

 

Annie (1982)—As the soused, man-hungry Miss Hannigan, the head of the New York City orphanage where Annie lives till the age of 10, Carol Burnett is both hag and trollop, and her inflections spin around and make her the butt of her own sarcasm; she's gloriously macabre. But the rest of this big movie (which is set in 1933) has the feel of a manufactured romp. Annie (Aileen Quinn) and the other little orphans seem to have been trained by Ethel Merman; they belt in unison. And when they dance it's showy leaping about, and the editing breaks it up, making it more hectic. When Annie, who is invited to the mansion of the billionaire Daddy Warbucks, arrives, his household staff dances, and the cutting is so choppy that the pump-and-tumble dancing—arms like pistons, and stamping feet—turns into commotion. Children from about 4. to about 11 will probably enjoy the picture—how often do they get to see a musical that features a little girl conquering all? Produced by Ray Stark and directed by John Huston. As Daddy Warbucks, Albert Finney (with a shaved head) gives a smooth, amused performance and models his manner of speech on Huston's awesome velvet growl. With Ann Reinking as Warbucks' secretary, Tim Curry as Rooster, Geoffrey Holder as Punjab, Bernadette Peters as Lily, Edward Herrmann as F. D. R., and the little scene-stealer Toni Ann Gisondi as Molly. The script is by Carol Sobieski; music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Martin Char-nin; choreography by Arlene Phillips and musical sequences by Joe Layton. Columbia. color (See Taking It All In.)

 

Annie Get Your Gun (1950)—The historical Frank Butler behaved very sensibly: when he realized that his wife, Annie Oakley, was a better shot than he, he retired from competition and managed her career. (He was an excellent manager: when the remarkable old lady died in 1926, she left a half million dollars.) In this M-G-M version of the Broadway musical, Annie, discovering that "you can't get a man with a gun," convinces Frank that he's a better shot; this plot allows for 10 Irving Berlin songs, which are surprisingly exhilarating in their simple crudity. The whole movie has a kind of primer mentality ("Folks are dumb where I come from/They ain't had any learnin'./Still they're happy as can be/ Doin' what comes natur'lly."), but it comes across as a rousing, good show. Betty Hutton's all-out comic desperation is very appealing; she seems emotionally naked and even strident, but in a way that works for her (as it did also in The Miracle of Morgan's Creek). Her performance didn't get the praise it deserved, though—probably because she had replaced Judy Garland (who had suffered abreakdown). There were other calamities on this production, which started with Busby Berkeley as director; then Charles Walters took over, and then George Sidney—who is probably the one to thank for the film's happy spirit. Howard Keel was a fine choice for Frank Butler; cast against type, Louis Calhern is an effective Buffalo Bill. (Frank Morgan, who started in the role, died, and his scenes had to be reshot.) The cast includes Edward Arnold, Keenan Wynn, Clinton Sundberg, Benay Venuta, and J. Carrol Naish. Produced by Arthur Freed; adapted by Sidney Sheldon, from the Herbert and Dorothy Fields text for the Broadway show; choreography by Robert Alton; the Irving Berlin songs were scored by Adolph Deutsch and Roger Edens. color

 

Annie Oakley (1935)—Barbara Stanwyck was an amazing vernacular actress. As the backwoods girl who joins Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show and becomes internationally famous for her marksmanship (and showmanship), she's consistently fresh and believable, and she brings a physical charge to the role. The film, directed by George Stevens, makes some of the points about race he made later in Giant (and that Arthur Penn made in Little Big Man), but here they're lighter and better. They seem to grow casually out of the American material; the movie feels almost improvised. (It covers much of the material that seems strained in the improvisational style of Robert Altman's 1976 Buffalo Bill and the Indians.) The screenplay, by Joel Sayre and John Twist, from a story by Joseph A. Fields and Ewart Adamson, emphasizes Annie's instinctive unwillingness to humiliate the handsome World's Champion Sharpshooter (Preston Foster) by outshooting him. She settles for the title of the World's Greatest Woman Rifle Shot. (The movie makes the case that she's a realist even when she's in love—that she's a realist because she's so completely in love.) Maybe the cast intuitively responded to Stanwyck's talent: everyone in the Wild West troupe seems to know that Annie Oakley is no ordinary person. As for Preston Foster, he's blandly unexciting yet he brings a masculine charm to his role. With Moroni Olsen as Buffalo Bill, Chief Thunder Bird as Sitting Bull, and Melvyn Douglas, Pert Kelton, and Andy Clyde. R K O. b & w

 

Another Part of the Forest (1948)—Apparently, Lillian Hellman couldn't shake off the predatory Hubbards after The Little Foxes; she wrote this play about the same family, setting it back 30 years earlier in their dark history. The Hubbards, who are supposed to be rising Southern capitalists, are the greatest collection of ghouls since The Old Dark House of 1932. Hellman must combine witchcraft with stagecraft—who else could keep a plot in motion with lost documents, wills, poisonings, and pistols, and still be considered a social thinker? Fredric March is the profiteer paterfamilias (he betrayed 27 local soldiers during the Civil War); son Ben (Edmond O'Brien) robs and blackmails Papa; son Oscar (Dan Duryea) organizes Ku Klux Klan raids—need we go on with this? The others are Ann Blyth, Florence Eldridge, John Dall, Betsy Blair, Dona Drake, etc. Mostly, they act as if they were warming up for an American version of Ivan the Terrible. Michael Gordon directed. Universal. b & w

 

Another Thin Man (1939)—The third in the series, and without any new ideas except a bad one: still airily casual, Nick and Nora Charles (William Powell and Myrna Loy) are now the parents of a baby boy. The screenplay (once again by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett) tosses shootings and skulduggery and repartee at us before we're ready, and then Nick Charles takes an unconscionable amount of time sorting things out. The plot involves a weekend at the estateof an explosives manufacturer (C. Aubrey Smith) who expects Sheldon Leonard (looking very young and sleek) to kill him. The film is dispiriting, but a lot of amusingly familiar faces turn up, among them Otto Kruger, Ruth Hussey, Virginia Grey, Nat Pendleton, Tom Neal, Marjorie Main, Abner Biberman, and, of course, Asta. Directed by W. S. Van Dyke. M-G-M. b & w

 

Another Woman (1988)—Woody Allen's (unofficial) version of Ingmar Bergman's Wild Strawberries features Gena Rowlands as a firm-minded, judgmental philosophy professor who has just turned 50. Having taken a year off to write a book, she has rented a workplace, but "reality" leaks through: the voices of an analyst's patients come through an air vent, and she becomes obsessed with the voice of a distraught pregnant woman (Mia Farrow), whose confused feelings awaken the professor to the risk-taking she has put out of her own fearful, prudent life. As if by magic, she begins to encounter people she used to know and to flash back to scenes from her past. And she realizes she has missed out on passion, on motherhood, on everything that matters. The picture is meant to be about emotion, but it has no emotion. It's smooth and high-toned; it's polished in its nothingness. The only resonance comes from a few of the performers—especially from Gene Hackman, who comes through with some sexual magnetism, and Sandy Dennis, who lets loose with bursts of smudgy, chaotic anger. The huge cast includes Martha Plimpton, Blythe Danner, Bruce Jay Friedman, Ian Holm, Harris Yulin, Philip Bosco, Kenneth Welsh, Betty Buckley, John Houseman, and David Ogden Stiers. Cinematography by Sven Nykvist. Orion. color (See Movie Love.)

 

Ansiktet, see The Magician

 

Anthony Adverse (1936)—Not Fredric March's finest 2 hours and 20 minutes: he wasn't a physical enough presence to play a dashing, swashbuckling hero. This turgid story involves a lot of crowds and plenty of travel. March takes part in the Napoleonic Wars, as well as in the slave trade, and along the way he misplaces his wife, Olivia de Havilland. When he finds her, it turns out that she has been even busier than he; she has managed to become a great opera star and a famous shady lady. Which might have been an entertaining plot development if the director hadn't been humorless Mervyn LeRoy, drudging away. Claude Rains plays a haughty, gout-ridden marquis, and Gale Sondergaard, whose leer was her fortune, is the superwicked villainess; with Anita Louise, Louis Hayward, and Akim Tamiroff. The novel by Hervey Allen was adapted by Sheridan Gibney. Warners. b & w

 

Antigone (1961)—An unjustly neglected version of the Sophocles drama, adapted and directed by George Tzavellas so that the action is lucid and uncluttered, the characters are driven by instinct and passion, and the voices (speaking modern Greek) are eloquent. The commenting chorus (the bane of movie adaptations of classic Greek plays and of many stage versions, too) has been reduced to a minimum. The action moves from the formalized setting of the palace at Thebes to the natural landscape of hills and plains without sacrificing the formal power of the performances, though it may take viewers a little while to adjust to this mixture of stylization and naturalism. The young Irene Papas is the strong yet defenseless Antigone, daughter of Oedipus, who rebels against the kingly authority of her uncle Creon (the great Manos Katrakis); she breaks an unjust law—a law that violates her deepest feelings and her sense of justice and obligation—and is condemned to be buried alive. Papas and Katrakisgive splendidly matched antagonistic performances, and there are memorable sequences, such as that of Antigone stealing into the countryside to bury her dead brother, who has been left exposed in the sun, and powerful images, such as that of the blind, decrepit Teiresias in the shocking daylight. The English subtitles, by Noelle Gillmor, are a demonstration that subtitling can be a branch of the fine craft of translation. b & w

 

Any Wednesday (1966)—Jane Fonda is millionaire businessman Jason Robards' tax deductible mistress, in the film version of Muriel Resnik's long-running boudoir farce. Most of the movie takes place in the mistress's apartment (which is charged to Robards' company); maybe the various characters' entrances and confusions had some fizziness on the stage, but here there's an element of embarrassment in watching Fonda and Robards trying to activate the static, thudding material. The film would be easier to take if it weren't for the unpleasant moralizing tone: the businessman is sulky and selfish, and our sentiments are meant to be with his supposedly adorable, foolish mistress who wants babies and with his wife (Rosemary Murphy, who does more for her role than the others do with theirs). Dean Jones is the juvenile provided to replace Robards in Fonda's love life; also with King Moody. Directed by Robert Ellis Miller; the adaptation is by Julius J. Epstein. Warners. color

 

Anything Goes (1936)—Bing Crosby, in a mildly entertaining version of the Cole Porter Broadway musical comedy, with a book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, about multiple cases of mistaken identity on board a liner crossing from New York to Southampton. Paramount 30s musical comedies like this one are so openhearted in their disorganized frivolous silliness that they're not offensive, and sometimes the performers lift them to a surreal, happy state. However, the craziness here isn't crazy enough; the gags often suggest a dog-eared jokebook. Crosby's relaxed, lackadaisical manner sets the tone for the whole revue-like production; he's likable though he doesn't supply any tension. Ethel Merman (in weird puffy little short sleeves that stick up and out from her shoulders) has more energy than the others in the cast, but it's a gruesome sort of belting energy (her version of "I Get a Kick out of You" has no romance), and even when she lowers her high, strident speaking voice she sounds bossy. With Ida Lupino, very shiny-blond and pretty as the ingenue, Charles Ruggles as Public Enemy No. 13 disguised as a clergyman, Arthur Treacher (looking like a moose), Grace Bradley, the Avalon Boys, Chill Wills, and, in a bit, Jack Mulhall. Lewis Milestone directed, from the adaptation (i.e. bowdlerization) that Guy Bolton, Lindsay, and Crouse did. There are a few classic Porter songs; also, Richard Whiting and Leo Robin's "Sailor Beware" and Edward Heyman and Hoagy Carmichael's "Moonburn." Shown on TV as Tops Is the Limit; without the visual vitality—the Art Deco black and silvery contrasts—of the original 35 mm prints, things really sag between the musical numbers. (Remade in 1956, also with Crosby.) b & w

 

Aparajito (1957)—The central film of Satyajit Ray's great Apu Trilogy is transitional in structure, rather than dramatic, but it's full of insights and revelations. Ray takes the broken family of Pather Panchali from its medieval village life to the modern streets of Benares and follows the boy Apu in his encounter with the school system, and, later, when he has left his mother, with the intellectual life at the University of Calcutta. (There is a luminous moment when Apu recites a poem in a classroom—you understand how it isthat art survives in the midst of poverty.) The film chronicles the emergence of modern industrial India, showing it to be not a primitive society but a corrupted society. However, Apu himself embodies Ray's belief that individuals need not become corrupt. Adapted from a novel by B. B. Bandapaddhay, by Ray; music by Ravi Shankar. In Bengali. b & w

 

Der Apfel 1st Ab The Original Sin (1949)—There are many who think that Germans are incapable of comedy, and this film may not dissuade them, but it's so unusual a piece of kitsch that it's worth a look. Helmut Käutner (The Devil's General, The Captain From Koepenick) made this satirical musical comedy in American-occupied Bavaria. Adam (Bobby Todd), a cider manufacturer, has a wife, and also a secretary named Eve (Bettina Moissi); most of the film is his dream of Paradise and Hell—the latter is a nightclub that he attends with Eve, who is dressed in cellophane. The Devil is the headwaiter, and if you've seen Damn Yankees you may be startled at the diabolic coincidences. Life described this movie as a "bebop translation of Genesis" and reported that it was denounced from pulpits all over Bavaria. Here, the few who saw it were probably more amused than shocked. Käutner himself has a role in it. In German. b & w

 

The Appaloosa (1966)—A dog of a movie about a horse. Marlon Brando is a sullen misfit cowboy who, along about 1870, enters a border-town church to do penance for his sins and has his horse stolen by a girl (Anjanette Comer) who is trying to get away from a sadistic bandit (John Saxon). Brando broods and suffers a multiplicity of physical humiliations. Presumably out of despair, the director, Sidney J. Furie, abandoned himself to closeups of tequila bottles, decayed teeth, and bloodshot eyes. The screenplay by James Bridges and Roland Kibbee was based on a novel by Robert MacLeod. Cinematography by Russell Metty. Universal. color

 

Appointment for Love (1941)—This is one of those heavily contrived romantic comedies in which everything rests upon postponing sexual consummation. There's nothing memorable about the picture, but under the circumstances the teamwork of Margaret Sullavan (she's a doctor) and Charles Boyer (he's a playwright) is amazing. They had worked together earlier in 1941 in Back Street, and they seem to have kept their rapport going here; they act as if they were in a wonderful movie. Directed by William Seiter, from a script by Bruce Manning and Felix Jackson, based on a short story by Ladislaus Bus-Fekete. With Rita Johnson and Reginald Denny. Universal. b & w

 

The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (1974)—No matter how phenomenal Richard Dreyfuss is in other roles, it's not likley that he'll ever top his performance in this teeming, energetic Canadian film. His baby-faced Duddy is a force of nature, a pushy 18-year-old con artist on his way to becoming an entrepreneur. Mordecai Richler's screenplay, based on his exultant, Dickensian 1959 novel, really enables us to understand "what makes Sammy run." Duddy waits on tables, he drives a taxi, he deals in pinball machines, he sets up a company to film weddings and bar mitzvahs. He jiggles impatiently and sweats and scratches himself. His drive for success is a comic passion. We feel with him every step of the way; he's a little monster, yet we share his devastation when his suave uncle (Joseph Wiseman) tells him, "You're a pusherke, a little Jew-boy on the make. Guys like you make me sick and ashamed." The work of the director, Ted Kotcheff, is often crude but it has electricity. And the film has real wit; it even has visual wit when we see a bar mitzvah film made by a drunken, half-madblacklistee (Denholm Elliott). With Randy Quaid, Jack Warden, Micheline Lanc-tôt, Joe Silver, Henry Ramer, and, as the grandfather, Zvee Scooler. (The adaptation is credited to Lionel Chetwynd.) Shot mostly in and around Montreal, on a budget of less than $1 million. color

 

The April Fools (1969)—An attempt to revive the madcap-romantic comedy, with Catherine Deneuve (a bit glazed) and Jack Lemmon (rather mournful and too sappy) as the lovers. The director, Stuart Rosenberg, didn't have the right light touch, but one can still perceive what was intended in Hal Dresner's script, despite the movie's lumpiness. With Charles Boyer, Myrna Loy, Sally Kellerman, Peter Lawford, Jack Weston, and Harvey Korman, who almost makes the picture worth seeing. Produced by Gordon Carroll; released by National General. color

 

The Apu Trilogy, see Pather Panchali, Aparajito, and The World of Apu (Apur Sansar)

 

Apur Sansar, see The World of Apu

 

Arabian Nights (1942)—Part of what makes the Universal-Maria Montez movies camp classics is that they're elaborately produced, yet every word and every plot device is stamped Grade-B. In this sumptuous comedy-extravaganza, Sabu scampers about as Ali the acrobat, muscle-bound Jon Hall is Caliph Harun al-Rashid, and the blankly sensuous Maria Montez is Scheherazade (not a storyteller in this version, but only a dancing girl). The picture is filled with harem cuties, horses, Technicolor Arizona scenery, and blissfully dumb lines. But then, perfection belongeth only to Allah the Most High. Produced by Walter Wanger and directed with complete lack of conviction by John Rawlins, from Michael Hogan's script. With the matchless Turhan Bey, and Leif Erickson, Edgar Barrier, Thomas Gomez, John Qualen, and for slapstick, Billy Gilbert (who has a drag sequence), and Shemp Howard (one of the Three Stooges) as Sinbad.

 

Arachnophobia (1990)—It's O.K. You don't feel suckered, though you don't feel elated, either. A deadly arachnid that is discovered in Venezuela kills a young photographer, crawls into his coffin, and travels from the Amazon to the fictional little town of Can-aima, California. There, the hairy-legged intruder—a tarantula as big as a big-guy's fist—breeds with a harmless domestic spider, and troops of poisonous bugs begin marching out of the bathroom drains. But when it comes down to the basics of scare comedy, the arachnids are short on personality, and so is the movie. The script, credited to Don Jakoby and Wesley Strick, has too many B-picture precursors, and the first-time director, Frank Marshall, is like a Boy Scout remaking Jaws. The tricks and teases aren't hip enough to spook your imagination. Jeff Daniels is smooth as the doctor with the phobia, but his dread seems shallow. The doctor's wife (Harley Jane Kozak) is presented as the fearless, competent one; then she's dropped from view. John Goodman, in the role of the local exterminator, brings up the energy level; he gives the picture a shot of authentic American grunge. Also with Julian Sands as the uppity entomologist, Brian McNamara as his assistant, and Henry Jones and Mary Carver. The witless musical score, by Trevor Jones, is a flat-out insult. Amblin Entertainment, for Hollywood (Disney). color

 

Aranyer din Ratri, see Days and Nights in the Forest

 

L'Argent de poche, see Small Change

 

Armored Attack, see The North Star

The Arrangement (1969)—Kirk Douglas is a successful Los Angeles advertising man in his early 40s who tries to kill himself, and as he recovers we begin to see the tensions that have made him self-destructive—on one side a girl (Faye Dunaway) who is contemptuous of his lucrative job and conventional life, and on the other a wife (Deborah Kerr) who wants security, and in the background his Greek immigrant father (Richard Boone), who measures worth in dollars. Even more blatantly than the novel, by Elia Kazan, this movie, which he directed, is a noisy glorification of anguish over selling out. Kazan probably believes that people can't hear unless they're shouted at, and since he wants to be heard he shouts. He mistakes the noise for having something to say. This is a monstrously unconvincing movie. With Hume Cronyn, Michael Higgins, Carol Rossen, Harold Gould, Philip Bourneuf, Charles Drake, Ann Doran, Barry Sullivan, and Michael Murphy. Warners. color (See Deeper into Movies.)

 

 

Arsenal (1929)—The writer-director Alexander Dovzhenko was the poet of the Russian revolutionary film movement—a poet whose startling imagery had a heat and pitch and lyricism that Eisenstein and Pudovkin never approached. This classic film, set during the war of 1914, is an original and experimental celebration of social revolution. (It ranks just below his great Earth of 1930.) Silent. b & w

 

Arsene Lupin (1932)—John Barrymore as a suave gentleman thief who poses as a duke in Paris in order to fleece the rich; his techniques are suspiciously easy—at one point he saunters out of the Louvre with the Mona Lisa tucked under his arm, wrapped around an umbrella. Lionel Barrymore plays an agonized, limping detective on the lighthearted thief's trail. The contrast should be more entertaining than it is. This was the Barrymore brothers' first film together and John gets to show a little of his humor but Lionel was already making a profession out of crankiness. The movie is mildly amusing in spots but it isn't much fun. Directed by Jack Conway, for M-G-M. From the play by Maurice Le Blanc and Francis de Croisset (which had already done service in the silent period), adapted by Carey Wilson, with dialogue by Bayard Veiller and Lenore Coffee. With Karen Morley, John Miljan, and Tully Marshall. b & w

 

Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)—Adapted from Joseph Kesselring's black comedy, this laborious farce was actually made in 1941, but by contract it couldn't be released until the Broadway production—which ran and ran—finally closed. Maybe the success of the play magically rubbed off on the movie, because it has always been inexplicably popular. The sane theatre-critic hero, Cary Grant, tries to convince his sweetly lethal little aunts (Josephine Hull and Jean Adair) that it isn't nice to put arsenic in the elderberry wine that they serve their guests, but they just don't understand why he gets so upset. You may not, either; the director, Frank Capra, has Grant performing in such a frenzied, dithering manner that during much of the action he seems crazier than anybody else. His role was shaped as if for Fred MacMurray, and Grant was pushed into overreacting—prolonging his stupefied double-takes, stretching out his whinny. Capra's hick jollity turns Grant into a manic eunuch. The hero's aggressive fiancée, here rewritten into a cuddly, innocuous little dear, is played by Priscilla Lane. The villains—murderers who are less couth in their methods than the innocently mad aunts—are Peter Lorre, as himself, and Raymond Massey, impersonating Boris Karloff; some people roar at their antics. With James Gleason, Edward Everett Horton, Jack Carson,John Alexander, Grant Mitchell, and the famous thirteen corpses. Adapted by Julius J. and Philip G. Epstein; score by Max Steiner. Warners. b & w

 

Arthur (1981)—John Gielgud can steal a scene by simply wearing a hat; it's so crisply angled that you can't take your eyes off him—you want to applaud that perfect hat. As Hobson, the valet to a drunken millionaire playboy, he may be the most poised and confident funnyman you'll ever see. And as the top-hatted lush, Arthur, Dudley Moore has a mad sparkle in his eyes. There's always something bubbling inside Arthur—the booze just adds to his natural fizz. This was the only film directed by Steve Gordon (who also wrote the script); he was a long way from being able to do with images what he could do with words, but there are some inspired bits and his work has a friendly spirit, and with Moore and Gielgud bouncing off each other like Bertie Wooster and Jeeves, the first part is fairly lively. But Gordon's attempt to reactivate the romantic mechanisms of the screwball comedies of the 30s doesn't work with the women characters—particularly with Liza Minnelli and Geraldine Fitzgerald. As the poor-girl heroine, Minnelli doesn't have her share of the good lines and she's electrifying when she only needs to be charming; as the playboy's grandmother, Fitzgerald has the worst scenes and the zest she gives them goes peculiarly wrong. With Barney Martin, Anne DeSalvo as Gloria, Jill Eikenberry, Thomas Barbour, Ted Ross, Stephen Elliott, Peter Evans, Lou Jacobi, and, in a bit, Lawrence Tierney. Cinematography by Fred Schuler; he makes the New York locations look elegant even when the staging suggests a waxworks museum. An Orion Picture; released by Warners. color (See Taking It All In.)

 

Artists and Models (1937)—A lavish mess of loosely strung together vaudeville acts and a story centering on the selection of a queen for a charity ball and on Jack Benny as the head of an advertising agency trying to land an account with a silverware company, run by Richard Arlen. The cast includes Louis Armstrong, Martha Raye, Ben Blue, Ida Lupino, Gail Patrick, Judy Canova, Connee Boswell, Peter Arno, and Rube Goldberg, but the plot makes you feel as if you're back in grammar school. Raoul Walsh directed. (There was actually a sequel the following year.) Paramount. b & w

 

As You Like It (1936)—Shakespeare cleaned up and made rather too respectably lighthearted. Still, this British production is by no means contemptible; it's enjoyable even in its disappointing moments. As Rosalind, Elisabeth Bergner, a great theatrical technician who specialized in heartbreaking gamine charm, can't resist being more adorably mischievous than is necessary and she's handicapped by her age (she was close to 40) and by her German accent, which dims the sparkle of some of her lines. One doesn't think of her as Fraulein Rosalind—one just doesn't make contact with her Rosalind. The young Laurence Olivier is triumphantly angelic as that amorous, brooding goof Orlando; there's a real interpretation at work here—his reactions make one grin. With Henry Ainley, Richard Ainley, Sophie Stewart, Mackenzie Ward, Leon Quartermaine, Felix Aylmer, Aubrey Mather, John Laurie, and Peter Bull. Directed by Bergner's husband, Paul Czinner, who—as in his movie versions of operas—never really seems to get the hang of the medium. Adapted by J. M. Barrie and Robert Cullen. b & w

 

Ascenseur pour l'échafaud, see Elevator to the Gallows

 

Ash Wednesday (1973)—In a few scenes, Elizabeth Taylor is done up like Arletty playing Garance in Children of Paradise, and she's absolutely ravishing, in an unearthly, ageless way. But the film is a long-drawn-out ghoulish commercial for cosmetic surgery—made, apparently, for people who can't think of anything to do with their lives but go backward. Jean-Claude Tramont is credited with the script and Larry Peerce is credited with the direction, but there is no script and there is no direction. With Keith Baxter, Helmut Berger, and Henry Fonda giving a sour, dumb performance. Produced by Dominick Dunne; released by Paramount. color

 

Ashani Sanket, see Distant Thunder

 

The Asphalt Jungle (1950)—A competent (often overrated) thriller by John Huston about a group of crooks who plan a jewel robbery and how their characters determine the results. Sterling Hayden is the central figure; the cast includes Sam Jaffe, Louis Calhern, Jean Hagen, Marilyn Monroe, James Whitmore, John McIntire, and Marc Lawrence. The screenplay, by Ben Maddow and Huston, was adapted from the W. R. Burnett novel. (Remade as The Badlanders in 1958, Cairo in 1962, and, with a black cast, as A Cool Breeze, in 1972.) M-G-M. b & w

 

The Assassination of Trotsky (1972)—Not for anyone who knows, or cares, anything about Leon Trotsky. With Richard Burton as a stuffed-shirt Trotsky; Alain Delon as an angel-of-death assassin; Romy Schneider, and Valentina Cortese. Directed by Joseph Losey; cinematography by Pasqualino De Santis; screenplay by Nicholas Mosley and Masolino D'Amico. A French, Italian, and British co-production. color

 

Assassins et voleurs, see Lovers and Thieves

At Long Last Love (1975)—Peter Bogdanovich's stillborn musical comedy—a relentlessly vapid pastiche of 3os Art Deco romantic-mixup movies. With Burt Reynolds as a bored millionaire playboy, Cybill Shepherd as a spoiled heiress, Eileen Brennan as a comic Irish maid, John Hillerman as an unflappable valet, Duilio Del Prete as a debonair gambler, and 16 Cole Porter songs. Performed as they are here, they sound smug, though Madeline Kahn, as a Broadway songstress nudging her thighs together while she sings "Find Me a Primitive Man," is fairly funny. Also with Mildred Natwick and M. Emmet Walsh. Script by Bogdanovich; cinematography by Laszlo Kovacs. 20th Century-Fox. color (See Reeling.)

 

 

At the Circus (1939)—The Marx Brothers. They do get to shoot Margaret Dumont out of a cannon, but it's all fairly ponderous. Edward Buzzell directed, from Irving Brecher's weary script. With Kenny Baker, Eve Arden, Florence Rice, Nat Pendleton, and Fritz Feld. The music is by Harold Arlen; Groucho sings the famous ditty about "Lydia, the Tattooed Lady." Mervyn LeRoy was the producer. M-G-M. b & w

 

L'Atalante (1934)—Jean Vigo, who died in his twenties, made only this one feature-length film—a sensuous, poetic love story about a young barge captain on the Seine, who marries and takes his bride with him; after a quarrel she runs off and they lose each other. Jean Dasté and Dita Parlo are the lovers, Michel Simon is the tattooed barge hand who finds her and brings her back. It's a wonderfully spontaneous, unarranged-looking film, photographed by Boris Kaufman, and with a lovely score by Maurice Jaubert. It's also a strange film—much slower and more consciously dreamlike than Vigo's short works. In some ways it's more pleasurable inthe memory than while you're seeing it. Its surreal lyricism was described by Elie Faure: "The spirit of Jean Vigo's work is classical, almost violent and always tormented, fevered, overflowing with ideas and with fantasy; truculent; a virulent and even demonical romanticism that still remains humanistic." With Louis Lefevre. (Not released in the U.S. until 1947.) In French. b & w

 

Atlantic City (1981)—This spa that became a racketeers' paradise during Prohibition and in 1981 was on its chaotic way to becoming Vegas with a beach is an improbable place, and in this lyric farce, directed by Louis Malle, from John Guare's script, it gives a hallucinatory texture to the lives of the characters. The story is a prankish wish-fulfillment fantasy about prosperity—what it does to cities, what it can do for people. It takes Malle a little while to set up the crisscrossing of the 10 or 12 major characters, but once he does, the film operates by its own laws in its own world, and it has a lovely fizziness. Everything goes wrong and comes out right. The casting is superb. As an old numbers runner who dreams of the days when he was a flunky and bodyguard for big-time racketeers, Burt Lancaster gives what is probably his funniest (and finest) performance. Susan Sarandon plays an uneducated girl studying to become a croupier, and for once her googly-eyed, slightly stupefied look seems perfect. With Kate Reid as the widow of a mobster, Hollis McLaren as a dippy flower child born into the wrong era, Robert Joy, Michel Piccoli, and many fine character actors, and an appearance by Robert Goulet as himself. Cinematography by Richard Ciupka. Produced by Denis Heroux; a French and Canadian co-production, released by Paramount. color (See Taking It All In.)

 

Atlas (1961)—A yawner. It's hard to believe that Hercules with Steve Reeves could have inspired imitations, but here's Roger Corman's quickie version, with earnest, scrawny Michael Forest trying to save the Grecian city of Thenis from the power-mad Praximedes (Frank Wolff, who is occasionally amusing). color

 

L'Attentat, see The French Conspiracy

 

Au hasard, Balthazar (1966)—Robert Bresson's grave, oblique account of the life and suffering of a donkey, and the life and suffering of the people who mistreat him. It's a meditation on sin and saintliness. Considered a masterpiece by some, but others may find it painstakingly tedious and offensively holy. With Anne Wiazemsky as the passive, puffy-mouthed girl who falls in love with the cruel, thieving boy who is bound to make her miserable. In French. b & w

 

Au revoir les enfants Goodbye, Children (1987)—It's set in Occupied France in 1944, when the writer-director Louis Malle was an 11-year-old at a Catholic boys' boarding school near Fontainebleau that sheltered several Jewish boys. The Gestapo learned they were there, and sent the ones they found to Auschwitz, and the headmaster to a work camp. One of the Jewish boys was in Malle's class, but Malle didn't get to know him well and didn't realize that he was Jewish. For the dramatic purposes of the movie, he has conceived a close friendship between his alter ego, the fair-haired Julien Quentin (Gaspard Manesse), and the dark boy who is using the false name Jean Bonnet (Raphael Fejtö). But nothing comes into clear focus—not the boys' attitudes, not even the images. The film (especially the first half) seems padded, formal, discreet. It's like watching a faded French classic. And there's something unseemly about the way Jean is used as an aesthetic object—spiritual, sensitive, exotic. With Francine Racette as Julien's mother and FrançoisNégret as the informer. In French. color (See Hooked.)

 

L'Auberge rouge, see The Red Inn

 

Au-delà des grilles, see The Walls of Malapaga

 

Author! Author! (1982)—As the hero, a playwright who's a genial, children-loving jokester, Al Pacino reads his lines very skillfully, but he can't seem to get the message to his face or his body. He's like a man who's looking for something and has forgotten what; he prowls, distractedly. And when he tries for warmth, his smile is so self-conscious that at times his teeth seem to be stranded on the screen, left behind. Most of the scenes in which he is shown in his theatrical dealings have a quick, satirical snap, and in the first half, the dialogue has a sense of give-and-take, but then the film follows up on all the stuff we're not interested in. The playwright chases after his wife (Tuesday Weld), who has casually gone off with another man, leaving behind her four children by three earlier husbands. The playwright also has one child of his own, and by the time he is hauling kids onto the roof of his Greenwich Village house to protect them from being dispersed to homes they don't want to go to, the picture has turned into a New York Times Magazine article on male parenting. The script, by Israel Horovitz, has trim, funny lines but also terrible, overingratiating ones, and some of the most doddering, bonehead situations to be seen on the big screen in years. Directed by Arthur Hiller, the film is blotchy in just about every conceivable way; you'd have to conduct an exhaustive search to find a movie with scuzzier lighting (the cinematography is by Victor J. Kemper). With Dyan Cannon, who gives her scenes an infusion of spirit, and also Alan King, André Gregory, Bob Dishy, Eric Gurry, and Bob and Ray. Produced by Irwin Winkler; 20th Century-Fox. color (See Taking It All In.)

 

The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1974)—Cicely Tyson plays a woman who was born in slavery and lived to take part in a civil-rights demonstration in 1962; the role spans Jane Pittman's life from the age of 20 to the age of 110, and Cicely Tyson knows what she's doing every inch of the way. Jane isn't a deep woman; childless, uneducated, she's an enjoyer of life. It isn't until extreme old age gives her a privileged status that she loses her fear and becomes—briefly, just before her death—free enough to speak her mind and to crack a joke and to find herself. When she walks up to a whites-only drinking fountain in front of a Southern courthouse, and drinks from it, all of us in the audience can taste the good water. And the way the tough-minded Tyson plays the part, you feel you're inside skinny old Jane's head. Based on a novel by Ernest J. Gaines and made for television, the film was directed by the self-effacing John Korty; his plain, uncoercive approach suggests a principled reticence. Tyson's performance and Korty's tact are more than enough to compensate for the flaws: the anachronisms and naïveté in parts of Tracy Keenan Wynn's adaptation; some nondescript casting and acting; the device of using a journalist (Michael Murphy) to link the episodes. The character of Jane Pittman is synthesized from stories that Gaines heard while growing up on a plantation in Louisiana, but watching the film (which was all shot in Louisiana), you forget (as readers of the novel did) that it's fiction. It seems to be a slightly awkward re-enactment of the life of an actual person. color (See Reeling.)

 

Autumn Leaves (1956)—Robert Aldrich piling on the garish melodrama and working up a storm of emotional anguish. He holds your attention even though some part of you isgiggling while you watch Joan Crawford take as her husband Cliff Robertson, who is not well in the head. He tosses objects at her (including a standard typewriter), and she heaves, gasps, and rolls her large eyes, but persists in being understanding. What's eating him is that in his first marriage (to Vera Miles) he was cuckolded by his own rotten dad (Lorne Greene). It eventually becomes evident to the hand-wringing, knuckle-gnawing Crawford that something has to be done, but not until after she does a lot of striding up and down. Columbia. b & w

 

Autumn Sonata Höstsonaten (1978)—Just when Americans seemed to be getting over that 50s craziness of children's blaming everything on their parents, we got it back from Ingmar Bergman. Eva (Liv Ullmann), a spiritually distraught, dowdy woman of perhaps 35 or 40, the wife of a pastor in rural Norway, invites Charlotte (Ingrid Bergman), her majestically worldly concert-pianist mother, to come for a visit. Then Eva goes at her mother with the impacted rage of a lifetime, accusing Charlotte of having deserted her when she was a child by going off to give concerts, and of never loving her. The whole film is like the grievances of someone who has just gone into therapy—Mother did this to me, she did that to me, and that and that and that. Ullmann enters into Ingmar Bergman's disturbed emotions and puts them on the screen just as he desires; neither of them does the shaping job of an artist here. It's a grueling, unconvincing movie. Ingrid Bergman is the one likable performer. With Lena Nyman and Halvar Björk. Cinematography by Sven Nykvist. In Swedish. color (See When the Lights Go Down.)

 

Avalon (1990)—In legend, Avalon is an earthly paradise. The writer-director Barry Levinson uses the name as his Rosebud: it's carved into the facade of the castle-like Baltimore apartment house where the five Kri-chinsky brothers, Jews who emigrated from Eastern Europe before the First World War, make their first American home. In Levinson's view, those early years were a golden age. The film is set mostly during his own childhood, in the late 40s, when his parents move to the suburbs, and TV breaks up the clan's social patterns, and the surviving brothers have divided into feuding factions. The scattered fine comic moments don't make up for the wide streak of fuddy-dud-dyism in the notion that the family used to be the bulwark of the nation's value system. The movie is an elegy to a mythical past, and people emerge from the theatre sniffling. They've been told they're suffering from soul-sickness—the loss of unity, harmony, family music. With the quietly witty Elizabeth Perkins as the American-born young wife who doesn't buy into Levinson's vision of how great the past was. Trapped living with her bickering Old World in-laws, she's practically stiff from repressed annoyance, but she's too decent and too timid to explode. Aidan Quinn is persuasive as her affable, salesman husband who's not going to get caught between his wife and his mother (Joan Plowright); his specialty is keeping the peace. The peppy Kevin Pollak is Quinn's cousin and business partner. Armin Mueller-Stahl is the paperhanger grandfather Sam Krichin-sky, the life-spirit central character who makes the points that Levinson wants to put across. Also with Lou Jacobi, and Elijah Wood as the child Michael. Cinematography by Allen Daviau. Tri-Star. color (See Movie Love.)

 

The Avenging Conscience (1914)—D. W. Griffith was so extraordinarily fertile and imaginative that when he saw The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, in 1919, he could complain, with justice, that he had already tried and discarded that approach. And here's the evidence—adream film, derived from Poe's "The Tell-tale Heart" and Annabel Lee, in which inanimate objects are used in a hallucinatory way. With Henry B. Walthall, Mae Marsh, and Blanche Sweet. (Vachel Lindsay analyzed this film in his 1915 book The Art of the Motion Picture.) Silent. b & w

 

L'Aveu, see The Confession

 

L'Avventura (1959)—Antonioni's study of the human condition at the higher social and economic levels—a study of adjusted, compromising modern man, afflicted by short memory, thin remorse, the capacity for easy betrayal. The characters are active only in trying to discharge their anxiety: sex is their sole means of contact. Too shallow to be truly lonely, they are people trying to escape their boredom by reaching out to one another and finding only boredom once again. Because the film is subtle and ascetic, yet laborious about revealing its meanings, it suggests Henry James when he "chewed more than he bit off." Visually, it's extraordinary: a calm hangs over everything—Antonioni's space is a vacuum in which people are aimlessly moving. Searchers and lost are all the same: disparate, without goals or joy. This is upper-class neo-realism—the poetry of moral and spiritual poverty. There had been nothing like it before, and it isn't fair to blame this movie for all the elegant sleepwalking and desolation that followed. There's something great here—a new mood, a new emotional rhythm—even with all the affectation. Léa Massari is the woman who quarrels with her architect lover (Gabriele Ferzetti) and then disappears from the uninhabited island they're visiting; Monica Vitti is her friend who takes up the search and then takes her place with the architect. Also with Dominique Blanchar. Cinematography by Aldo Scavarda; script by Elio Bartolini, Tonino Guerra, and Antonioni. In Italian. b & w (See I Lost it at the Movies.)

 

The Awful Truth (1937)—A classic screwball comedy, about one of old Hollywood's favorite subjects: the divorced couple who almost bed down with new mates but get back together. Irene Dunne and Cary Grant are the sparring partners, and Ralph Bellamy plays just about the same role he later played in His Girl Friday. Irene Dunne's way with a quip is to smile brightly and wring it dry, but she's at her best here. Joyce Compton plays the nightclub performer whom Dunne parodies, and the cast includes Esther Dale, Cecil Cunningham, and Alex D'Arcy. Leo McCarey's direction is first-rate; in a memorable sequence toward the end, Grant tries to persuade a door to open without visible assistance. Vina Delmar did the screenplay, from Arthur Richman's 1922 play. (There was a forgettable remake in 1953 with the shamefaced title Let's Do It Again.) Columbia. b & w

5001 NIGHTS AT THE MOVIES. Copyright © 1982, 1984, 1991 by Pauline Kael.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2005

    Superb guide to the Movies

    There are lots of film critics out there, but not one has come close to Pauline Kael. No one knew more, understood more, or wrote better about movies. Whether promoting first-rate directors like Brian de Palma or skewering actresses like Norma Shearer, Pauline was always right on, and always entertaining. She was so witty that she didn't need to borrow anyone else's bon mots. As these short reviews cover thousands of movies, I recommend that you read her other collections of longer reviews too!

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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