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10/10
TERRIFIC!
17 June 2018
Watching the footage from the first incarnation of the WNET show brings back memories of having seen it when it first aired. I wish there could have been an on-camera interview with Betty Aberlin and at least some mention of baritone John Reardon. Some of his guests included Van Cliburn, Paul Draper (who was blacklisted during the McCarthy era), Peggy Fleming and many others. We could use a Mister Rogers today . . . more than ever before.
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A Christmas Memory (1997 TV Movie)
6/10
Not quite a train wreck version of Truman Capote's classic story
12 December 2007
My initial feelings about this newer version of Christmas Memory were similar to many of the other posters. It does the original story a disservice by padding the story with a lot of extraneous characters and dialog that is so-not Capote. If you take this version on its own without making any comparisons, it's really not bad. Patty Duke tries very hard, and succeeds, in making Sook a character all her own. The other performers are also quite good. If the producers of this version needed to expand on the story to fill out 90 minutes, they might have included details from Capote's other Buddy/Christmas story entitled "One Christmas" where Buddy is sent to New Orleans to spend Christmas with his birth father.

Still, if you have the simplicity and charm of Capote's original imprinted on your mind and heart, this version will not do. I join the chorus of folks who would like the 1966 version on a pristine and uncut color DVD with Geraldine Page's wonderful performance and Capote's own voice narrating the story. Then again, perhaps it is sentiment that makes me favor the 1966 version, the same as the 1947 "Miracle on 34th Street" over any of its lame remakes, 1946's "It's a Wonderful Life" over 1977's "It Happened One Christmas", any animated Christmas specials other than the ones produced in the 1960s, or Lesley Ann Warren's 1965 Cinderella over Brandy's hip-hop version.
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Girls' Night (1998)
4/10
It's Been Done
2 May 2006
I got a sneak preview of this film at the Chicago International Film Festival. The producers of the film and Brenda Blethyn made an appearance (she is thinner and a lot prettier in real life IMO). Then the film started. Was I embarrassed for all involved! I guess I was expecting more from a film that featured both her and Julie Walters. Instead we have a middle of the road boo-hoo fest with more formulas than a chemistry class. We even get an embarrassing in-your-face sex scene with Ms. Walters that was totally unnecessary. You can skip this one. Blethyn and Walters have done a lot better before and since this one.
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7/10
Disappointing but not a Disaster
2 May 2006
I saw this at the Chicago International Film Festival the autumn of its release. Before the film started, the producers and Madame Moreau made an appearance at the theatre and came to talk a few moments. There were about 25 people in the audience. What an embarrassment that this great lady's appearance would have so few people in attendance! I did what I could to make it celebritous, stood and applauded, and Madame very shyly bowed to us.

The film itself is best described as imperfect jewels - romantic, beautiful scenes and decors, and a capable cast. For some reason it doesn't completely come together as it should. I would still like a DVD version, for no other reason than posterity.
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Lulu (1979 TV Movie)
8/10
Why Isn't This Version Available Commercially?
17 March 2006
I had the opportunity to see a "private" copy of this television production this week. Apparently it has only aired in France, and has never seen the light on commercial home video (at least not on VHS/NTSC). Although the quality was terrible, this for me is the video edition of the opera that should be cleaned up commercially and distributed by Polygram or Kultur on DVD. I have no idea why opera video producers have neglected this version. Although I can argue about Msr. Chereau's production, this is still a very powerful rendition of the opera. Teresa Stratas and Lulu were made for one another. The music making, with Boulez at the helm, is definitive.
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10/10
Best version of Hansel and Gretel on Video
22 November 2005
Many think of Hansel and Gretel as a "Christmas" opera or a "children's" opera. It's neither. The gingerbread house and the fact that the world premiere of Humperdinck's work took place on Christmas eve may be the reasons for the former. The Wagnerian scope of the music and the great skill required of singers to ride the tides of a big opera orchestra defies the latter. The Metropolitan Opera's lovely Christmas day performance, sung in intelligible English, is miles above the video competition. All of the singers are terrific, the late Thomas Fulton leads the music with authority and taste, and the old-fashioned O'Hearn production looks great. Look no further.
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6/10
HAVING A Spanish AFFAIR - Great movie for a Rainy Afternoon
30 June 2005
An American architect (what else?) named Merritt Blake (Richard Kiley) is on assignment in Spain, where he becomes attracted to his guide Mari (the luscious red-lipped Carmen Sevilla). She reluctantly returns his advances, but is haunted by her half-gypsy heritage and her earlier betrothal to a dangerous dark gypsy king type named Antonio (José Guardiola) who threatens Merritt's life. Will love conquer all? Need you ask! In the meantime lots of nice travelogue-like photography in almost typical 1950s color brilliance. A little flamenco music and dancing (not exactly "Los Tarantos", mind you), and a song "The Spanish Rose" sung by Ms. Sevilla with Mr. Kiley joining in. I saw it on A&E about 20 years ago.
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