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Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967)
So many possibilities to be great but it falters badly!
This film had every possibility of being a great film but sadly it ended up being a real mess. "Thoroughly Modern Millie" does have a wonderful, wonderful cast. How could any film fail with Julie Andrews, Mary Tyler-Moore and Carol Channing you may well ask? The music is wonderfully catchy and the choreography of so many of the numbers simply superb. The sets and costumes are magnificent. The real problem is the extremely overlong and weak script that goes all over the place and never satisfies. "Thoroughly Modern Millie" is is a very, very long film. It needs a savage editing so that it can avoid being in the tedious film category. If only somebody had the courage to do so it would be a great hit. I wanted to like it very much but in the end came away not satisfied which is a great pity as it could have been a great film.
Entertaining but more like a fairytale than history
There can be no doubt that this was an entertaining piece to watch. It had a mixed ability cast with many of the main roles very badly miscast. The pre revolution scenes were too sickly sweet for words. I think the real Anastasia would have found them difficult to stomach. The whole series was loosely based on Peter Kurth's book on "Anastasia". It would have been so much better, given the huge budget, if it had been more historically accurate. It is more Mills and Boon than serious drama. It was more a love story between Anna Anderson and Prince Eric than an accurate account. I would have liked to have seen more about the trials. An interesting drama would have not painted the other side all bad like this did. I guess there was an agenda established from the very beginning that there was no possibility of denying that Anna was not Anastasia. That is where the whole thing disintegrates, sadly.
Royal Family (1969)
An excellent film on the Monarchy showing a full year
This is the classic film that follows HM The Queen and her family for a full royal year. It was made to coincide with the investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales. It is the first time that cameras had been allowed to follow The Queen and her family on official and private family occasions. One such official event is the visit of then President Nixon of the United States. A private moment is The Queen and her family having a barbecue lunch in the grounds of Balmoral. Another shows Prince Charles playing the cello when a string snaps and hits poor little Prince Edward in the face. Yet another delightful scene is The Queen visiting her dogs at Sandringham. As such it is superb primary source historical material. This film did a lot to show that the royal family are not distant figures living in a museum state but are warm human beings trying to get on with the job they have to do. It is a film not to be missed.
What a magnificent film!
What can say about this epic apart from the word, 'Magnificent'. To see such great actors in one film is really quite extraordinary. This is the only time Gielgud, Richardson and Olivier ever acted together on film. To see this is sheer heaven in its brilliance. The world is a sadder places without these geniuses. In the lead is Richard Burton who is really a magnificent Wagner. The young actor who plays Ludwig II is also wonderful. Vanessa Redgrave as Cosima is really superb as is Joan Plowright and many, many other performers such as Barbara Leigh-Hunt, Gemma Craven and the beautiful Martha Keller. Sit back and let it all wash over you. The creation of period is absolutely sensational as is the sheer beauty of Germany and Switzerland and other places. This is truly a glittering gem and should be screened more often.
Appointment with Death (1988)
An enjoyable whodunnit with an all star cast
Appointment with Death is a wonderful film for pure escapism. Piper Laurie is really fantastic as Emily Boynton. Of course Peter Ustinov is always a treat as Hercule Poirot. Sir John Gielgud is a treasure to watch and Lauren Bacall is incredibly good as Lady Westholme. This is a glamorous film with additional supporting cast such as Jenny Seagrove, the handsome John Terlesky, the beautiful Hayley Mills and Carrie Fisher. David Soul is passable as the Boynton family lawyer. The scenery is wonderful, the costumes beautiful and the story intriguing. It is hard to know who has done the deed. The much underrated Michael Craig also puts in an appearance. I wish there could be more appointments with such a talented cast.
Victoria & Albert (2001)
I must admit I really enjoyed 'Victoria and Albert'. It was excellent. My only criticism of the film was it could have been a couple of episodes longer as it left out so many other possibilities rushing to reach its conclusion. Jonathon Firth was really very good as Prince Albert and Victoria Hamilton made a good job at Queen Victoria. I particularly liked Dame Diana Rigg as Baroness Lehzen and Penelope Wilton as the Duchess of Kent. Sir Peter Ustinov was marvellous as King William IV. Patrick Malahide was so completely odious as Sir John Conroy. I also found Nigel Hawthorne brilliant as Viscount Melbourne. Rachel Pickup was really very good as Lady Henrietta Standish and David Suchet was great as Baron Stockmar. Jonathon Pryce was adequate as King Leopold I. Elizabeth Spriggs was delightful in a cameo role in 'The Rivals'. I would really recommend this.
Ludwig is Visconti's magnificent epic masterpiece
Ludwig truly is Visconti's magnificent epic masterpiece. The life of Ludwig II of Bavaria is truly worthy of a great film epic and Helmut Berger is amazingly good in the lead role. The exquisitely beautiful Romy Schneider is incredible as Ludwig's cousin Empress Elisabeth of Austria. The costumes and settings are truly magnificent. Visconti has actually gained access to some of the original locations which make his film truly wonderful. Castle Nymphenberg is truly beautiful. The luscious coronation preparation scene is truly evocative of the period with the magnificent uniforms and court dresses. Izabella Telezynska is amazing in the role of Queen Marie of Bavaria, Ludwig's Mother as is Gert Frobe as Ludwig's confessor. The very talented Helmut Griem is fantastic as Count Durckheim as is Trevor Howard as Wagner. The odious Professor Dr.Gudden is well played by Heinz Moog. John Moulder-Brown is also very good as Ludwig's younger brother, Prince Otto. This truly is a masterpiece of cinema.
Ash Wednesday (1973)
Elizabeth Taylor is stunning
Elizabeth Taylor is truly stunningly beautiful in Ash Wednesday. Her character Barbara Sawyer goes through the sheer hell of plastic surgery in an effort to win back her philandering rotten husband Mark, played by Henry Fonda. I must admit I didn't realise what a terrible actor Henry Fonda was until I saw him up against the magnificent Elizabeth Taylor. Helmut Berger puts in an appearance as Barbara's young lover. The scenery around Cortina is absolutely exquisite and Elizabeth Taylor's costumes and hair styling are superb. This film is entertaining as it exposes the dangers of thinking that surgery will right problems that no knife can successfully cut away. This film is pure escapism. Enjoy it for what it is. It is an interesting look at lifestyles of the rich in the early 1970s in Europe. Elizabeth Taylor has some great lines.
The Living Daylights (1987)
Timothy Dalton was a man's man James Bond 007
Timothy Dalton was truly great as James Bond. There was not a moment that you could not imagine that he was capable of murder if necessary. He did not play the role for cheap laughs like Roger Moore. The script in this film is very good indeed as is the bond girl this time played by Maryam D'Abo. Andreas Wisniewski was incredibly evil as Necros. I just loved his fight scenes and the exploding milk bottles! Of course Desmond Llewelyn is the one and only brilliant Q. Walter Gotell was also great as General Anatol Gogol. While I eventually got used to the Pearce Brosnan as 007, Dalton was a man while the other never quite made it. Dalton has definite panache. What a shame he didn't continue in the role as he was excellent.
This is a great film
Richard Harris is very good indeed as Oliver Cromwell. Alec Guiness is truly in his element as King Charles I providing a brilliant contrast to Harris as Crowmwell. Dorothy Tutin is superb as Queen Henrietta Maria. I also liked Timothy Dalton as Prince Rupert very much. Robert Morely is fantastic as the Earl of Manchester. The battle scenes are superb between the royalists and the parliamentary roundheads. The execution of Charles I is very well done too as are the parliamentary scenes. Why can't films still be as great as this one? The actors, script, setting and costumes all make Cromwell a magnificent film. I recommend it most highly.
Wonderful yet disappointing
Cate Blanchett is very good in the role of Elizabeth I. I think it is a crying shame that the script was so bad. It is so wrong about the demise of Mary of Guise. I wish that with such a lot of time and expense going into this film that the history had been accurate. Sir John Gielgud is very good as the Pope. What a brilliant actor he was. Richard Attenborough is also well cast as Sir William Cecil. One of my least favourite actors, Geoffrey Rush is not bad as Walsingham. Joseph Fiennes is also good as the Earl of Leicester. A real surprise is Eric Cantona as Monsieur de Foix. This film could have been a great one but really only had some moments.
Mary, Queen of Scots (1971)
What a magnificent film!
Even though Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I, Queen of England never met, this is a brilliant film. Vanessa Redgrave is perfect in the role of Mary. She is such a wonderful actress. She plays the Scottish Queen in all her arrogance and deviousness. She looks and sounds magnificent throughout. Glenda Jackson is magnificent as Elizabeth I. She is so powerful and such a clever actress. What a great loss it is that she became a politician. Her great scene with Redgrave must be one of the classics of acting between two great actresses. Timothy Dalton is great as the devious and weak fop Lord Darnley and Nigel Davenport is incredible as the rugged Earl of Bothwell. The casting gets better with Trevor Howard as William Cecil, Ian Holm as David Rizzio and Patrick McGoohan as the half-brother James Stuart. Katherine Kath is suitably odious as Queen Catherine de Medici and Vernon Dobtcheff is highly suitable as the Duke of Guise, Mary's manipulative Uncle. Robert Fox is absolutely right as John Knox. The script is very clever, the scenery magnificent and the costumes incredible.
Another very clever Alan Bennett work which is very enjoyable
Alan Bennett has done it again with A Question of Attribution. His writing is so very clever. James Fox is very good indeed as Sir Anthony Blunt. Prunella Scales is quite brilliant as HMQ. Jason Flemyng is also wonderful as Colin the cheeky Palace worker. Phillips the young student, played by Mark Payton, is also very good. Geoffrey Palmer is very clever as the corrupt Donleavy and David Calder is really in his element as Chubb. Ann Beach is suitably revolting as Mrs.Chubb and Barbara Hicks is in her element as the Lady at the National Gallery.I would highly recommend film this very much. It is real cloak and dagger stuff and also at times highly amusing.
A very enjoyable classic
I really enjoyed Ever After. It must be one of the very best films Drew Barrymore has ever made and shows the extent of her acting ability. I'm so glad she made it for her sake as she really has been in some truly awful films. Drew plays Danielle de Barbarac very well indeed. She is also supported by some brilliant actors such as Angelica Houston as her wicked stepmother Baroness Rodmilla de Ghent, Dougray Scott as Prince Henry, Judy Parfitt as Queen Marie, Timothy West as King Francis, Jean Moreau as Grand Dame and Kate Lansbury as Paulette. Other performers were also very good. The settings in this film are beautiful and the story equally so. It really is a very good retelling of the story of Cinderella and has some wickedly funny moments. It really is very good.
Ripley's Game (2002)
A great thriller
I must admit I enjoyed Matt Damon and company very much in The Talented Mr.Ripley. The character of Tom Ripley is thoroughly dislikable but also intriguing. Therefore when I realised that another Ripley film had been made I was curious to enjoy the earlier experience again. I was not disappointed either. John Malkovich who I usually do not like as a performer was totally creepy and perfect as an older Ripley. Up against him was the very talented Dougray Scott as his unlikely accomplice in murder, Jonathon Trevanny. There are grisly murders galore in this film of revolting Russian mafia murderers. The ending is great. I won't give it away as it would spoil it for others. The Italian and German settings are brilliant as are the train scenes. This film is very enjoyable.
Bei Thea (1988)
A most interesting film
Bei Thea is a really interesting film. It deals with a complex family relationship. David Adler, wonderfully played by Hannes Jaenicke, is the grandson of German Jews who escaped the Third Reich for life in what became Israel. He has been raised by his German grandparents and speaks the language well. He is also aware of the terrible history of Germany. His grandparents are torn between their life in Germany before the war and their life in Tel Aviv in Israel. They want David to experience Germany and to also study in Munich. David goes to Munich and becomes a regular at a cosy pub called Bei Thea. Thea is the grand dame and owner of Bei Thea. She also happens to be the first wife of David's grandfather. David only finds this out after he and Thea have befriended one another. On finding out he does not want to know her as he thinks she dumped his grandfather. In fact Thea saved her then husband by divorcing him and making sufficient funds available for him and other family members to move away to escape Germany. Marianne Hoppe is brilliant in the role of Thea as is as Herta Schwartz as Ortrud as is Ida Ehre as Else-Stern Adler. The contrast between life in Tel Aviv and Munich is fascinating. It's a very enjoyable and thought provoking film.
Ladies in Lavender (2004)
such a beautiful film
It is a rare thing today to see such a beautiful film. Dame Maggie Smith and Dame Judi Dench are stunning as the two sisters, Janet and Ursula Widdington. They compliment each other beautifully. Joining them in the role of their housekeeper, Dorcas, is the ever talented Miriam Margoyles. Daniel Bruhl is a fresh new talent as Andrea Marowski. Natascha McElhone is also very good as the spoiler Olga Daniloff. David Warner is suitably revolting as Dr.Francis Mead who is silly enough to want somebody who would never want him in a thousand years. The rest of the supporting cast as very good. I particularly liked the beautiful scenery and the recreation of period. This is a truly charming story with everything going for it. What a great pity it is that we no longer see as many films as this classic.
The House of Eliott (1991)
a beautiful series with lots of charm and colour
The House of Eliott is a gem of a series largely due to the wonderful characters, great acting and writing, fabulous settings and exquisite costumes. The characters of Evangeline and Beatrice are really wonderful foils for one another. Supporting characters such as Jack, Tilly, Madge and company are also highly entertaining. It is very hard to not become quickly addicted to the House of Eliott. Even though it is set largely among the beautiful people of the 1920s, the House of Eliott manages to show how the other half lives, particularly when dealing with the Miners' Strike and the consequences for so many families. Now that it is out on DVD all the wonderful characters live again.
Edward the Seventh (1975)
an excellent series
I remember watching this series when it first came out and really enjoyed it very much. Annette Crosbie was absolutely wonderful as Queen Victoria. It was truly sad to lose her when she had to die in the series. I also remember Helen Ryan being wonderful as Princess and later Queen Alexandra. Of course Timothy West did a fine job as Prince Albert Edward and later King Edward VII. I must admit I felt that Robert Hardy was sadly miscast as Prince Albert. Felicity Kendal was great as the Princess Royal and Empress Frederick. Francesca Annis was lovely as Lillie Langtry. It really was sad when the series inevitably had to end as it grew on you with every episode. It has rarely been repeated which is truly a sad endictment of television today. It should be as it is very good indeed.
A Breath of Scandal (1960)
a beautifully filmed gentle comedy with a wonderful cast
This is a really beautiful and charming film with a wonderful cast. Sophia Loren has never looked more lovely in the role of Princess Olympia alongside the handsome John Gavin in the role of Charlie Foster. Maurice Chevalier is absolutely delightful as Prince Philip as is his on-screen wife Isabel Jeans in the role of Princess Eugenie. The settings are simply beautiful in different palaces around Vienna such as the Belvedere and Schoenbrunn. The Austrian countryside is also delightful. I loved the music as well. A young Angela Lansbury also makes an appearance as the devious Countess Lina. It is a lovely and enchanting film.
Forbidden is a great film. It shows what a great actress Jacqueline Bisset is. She is not afraid to play difficult roles and she found one most definitely in the role of the highly moral and intelligent Countess Nina von Halder, a young student studying Veterinary Science. Von Halder falls in love with Fritz Friedlander, the son of a former German Judge. He would be highly respectable in any normal society. Unfortunately he is a German jew living in the time of the Third Reich and given the passing of the infamous Nazi German Nuremberg laws in 1935, he is no longer considered a worthy partner for Countess Nina von Halder. Von Halder takes great risks to protect her love carrying on an illegal relationship with him. She chooses to hide him when the authorities start to round up the Jewish people in Berlin. The horror of this process is superbly depicted when the authorities come to collect Fritz's widowed mother, Ruth Friedlander. Ruth is brilliantly played by the multi-talented late Irene Worth. Thankfully both Fritz and Nina both survive the fall of Berlin. Peter Vaughan is thoroughly despicable in the role of Major Stauffel. Nina has made a hiding place in a sofa for Fritz. Thankfully when Stauffel calls Fritz has found another place which goes undetected by Stauffel as Stauffel suspects Fritz is hiding in the sofa and has it machine gunned. This is a film that shows how love can overcome adversity even through the worst of times under a criminal regime. It is well worth watching.
Radetsky March is really a sad story and yet fabulous film. I thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful recreation of the pre-1918 Austro-Hungarian Empire. The acting is also superb. Much of this film is filmed in real settings such as the Hapsburg summer palace of Schoenbrunn. Tilman Gunther is simply superb in the role of Carl Joseph von Trotta und Cipolje. He is a very talented actor and shows what a versatile performer he is when having to age over a long period of time. In the role of his father is the great actor Max von Sydow. He is very much the martinet and is ideally cast as the peace loving provincial representative of the Emperor. Charlotte Rampling is also wonderful as Valerie von Taussig. She has such an incredible presence on screen and looks superb in the period costume. The actor Friedrich W. Bauschulte who portrays Kaiser Franz Josef has definitely done his research as he looks every inch the old Emperor. If you like period drama then this is not to be missed.
Salon Kitty (1976)
A rather perverse and disturbing film
Salon Kitty is a rather disturbing film. It shows what can happen to a country when filth take over. There are many facets to this film especially the Nazi German notion of the pure aryan master race vs. the Jewish question. One of the most powerful sections of this film is where a terrified Jewish family come into contact with a group of revolting League of German Girls group. The little innocent child has accidentally dropped his toy. The League of German Girls leader rather than helping the child sees the terror in its eyes and with one foul stomp of her foot destroys the toy with her shoe, obtaining pleasure in the process, and the smugly walks on. This is a metaphor for what the Nazi German criminal regime has in store for the Jewish people of not only their own country but the rest of Europe. Ingrid Thulin is absolutely brilliant in this film as Madam Kitty, operator of the brothel, Salon Kitty. Helmut Berger is also very good in his role as the SS Officer who is charged with taking over Salon Kitty and turning it into a state run spying agency where specially trained aryan prostitutes submit reports after being with their clients on any betrayal of the Nazi regime. Downstairs in the cellars all conversations are being recorded. Madam Kitty is forced under pain of death to convert her brothel into an arm of the SS. The full horror of the lack of humanity of the SS is shown in the audition process the potential prostitutes go through where they are group tested with young SS officers. This is not a film for the light hearted. It treats human life as something not worth very much in the hands of a criminal regime.
Mephisto is magnificent
What can one say about this film apart from it being totally brilliant? Klaus Maria Brandauer is ideally cast in the role of Hendrik Hoefgen. The character of Hoefgen is a thinly disguised version of the famous German actor and Director of the Prussian State Theatre in Berlin, Gustav Grundgens. Grundgens compromised with the National Socialist authorities under Hitler to retain his role in the theatre. Others left as they did not want to be associated with the Third Reich and all its horrors. Marlene Dietrich was one such person. Grundgens remained. This film is a classic for any drama student as it shows the state of theatre in Germany before the rise of the Third Reich in Germany. It very clearly depicts theatre pre-1918 and also the early and important work of Bertolt Brecht. The thuggery of the Nazi German regime is clearly exposed with all the filth who polluted the upper echelons of society down to the working man. This is a brilliant piece of film making. Don't miss it as it is gripping drama.
Doctor Zhivago (2002)
Not sure why this was remade
I'm not sure why Doctor Zhivago was remade as the David Lean film was quite brilliant. I do think the mini-series had its moments but it will always sadly be compared with the earlier film with the most beautiful Julie Christie as Lara and the incredibly dashing Omar Sharif as Zhivago. Who after all can outdo these two I ask myself? This is the battle the leads in the mini-series have to constantly face as everybody wants to see Christie and Sharif rather than their new counterparts. I still enjoyed it all but not nearly as much as if the earlier film had not been made. Pasternak's story remains powerfully strong and deeply moving. Sometimes I think remakes are made because creative forces are not imaginative enough to find new projects to work on. It would seem this was the case with this good remake.