Recently Watched & Favorite Movies: Personal Reviews & More

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
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Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf form 1966 with Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal and Sandy Dennis

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf answers the never-asked-by-anyone question: what would a kitchen-sink drama look like with an overlay of pseudo college intellectualism?

It's answered, though, in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf's two-plus hours of history professor Richard Burton and his wife, the college president's daughter, Elizabeth Taylor, emotionally tearing into each other relentlessly, mercilessly and spitefully all in one looooooong drunken night from hell.

Along for the ride, and collateral damage, are young and new-to-the-college biology professor George Segal and his waif-like wife Sandy Dennis who "stop by'' for an introductory drink (welcome to the college guys). Why this couple didn't immediately take stock of the situation in that house from hell and say their thank you and goodbyes quickly is the real mystery of this movie.

Burton and Taylor's twenty-plus-year marriage has more than its share of emotional baggage and grievances: his career hasn't measured up to her and her father's expectations; his first (and only) book was selfishly kiboshed by her father; her father's money supports their lifestyle; their sex life is broken or non-existent and the core injury at the center of it all is the mysterious fate of their "son."

Fueled by a double-digit consumption of cocktails, Burton and Taylor rip into each other's psychological scar tissue, push every one of their emotional buttons and rehash every marital slight in round after round of battles that cycle through passive aggression, open hostility and, sometimes, physical violence.

Burton and Taylor expertly and with bad intent draw Segal and Dennis into this dysfunctional angerfest. As the night drags on, we eventually learn the younger couple has its own, and often similar, challenges: a marriage based on a lie, emasculating money issues (sound familiar), alcoholism (sound familiar) and sexual problems (sound familiar). And this is the up-and-coming couple with promise.

Taking place mainly in Taylor and Burton's clutter, unkempt and run-down Victorian (symbolism anyone) and with only four main characters, the movie feels very much like the Edward Albee play it is based on, which, for a movie, requires a lot of the actors.

The actors bring it. Taylor, Burton, Segal and Dennis are up for this demanding effort with each delivering an impressive performance including a vicious scene of Segal and Taylor cheating with Burton and Dennis left to furtively watch and listen (it's brutal).

By the time director Mike Nichols (who handles family dysfunction with a little more humor and hope in The Graduate) brings us to the big reveal about Burton and Taylor's son, there's so little left in anyone's emotional tank that it feels anticlimactic.

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf is smart, well acted, skillfully directed and emotionally impactful. Still, your experience with this movie comes down to whether or not you want to see lives torn open with all their emotional baggage exposed, analyzed, mocked and left raw.


N.B., Taylor and Burton, as the older couple, are supposed to be about fifteen or so years older than Dennis and Segal and they easily look it. But proving how hard she lived her real life, Taylor, in actuality, is all of two years older than Segal.
 

eagle2250

Connoisseur/Curmudgeon Emeritus - Moderator
View attachment 57839
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf form 1966 with Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal and Sandy Dennis

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf answers the never-asked-by-anyone question: what would a kitchen-sink drama look like with an overlay of pseudo college intellectualism?

It's answered, though, in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf's two-plus hours of history professor Richard Burton and his wife, the college president's daughter, Elizabeth Taylor, emotionally tearing into each other relentlessly, mercilessly and spitefully all in one looooooong drunken night from hell.

Along for the ride, and collateral damage, are young and new-to-the-college biology professor George Segal and his waif-like wife Sandy Dennis who "stop by'' for an introductory drink (welcome to the college guys). Why this couple didn't immediately take stock of the situation in that house from hell and say their thank you and goodbyes quickly is the real mystery of this movie.

Burton and Taylor's twenty-plus-year marriage has more than its share of emotional baggage and grievances: his career hasn't measured up to her and her father's expectations; his first (and only) book was selfishly kiboshed by her father; her father's money supports their lifestyle; their sex life is broken or non-existent and the core injury at the center of it all is the mysterious fate of their "son."

Fueled by a double-digit consumption of cocktails, Burton and Taylor rip into each other's psychological scar tissue, push every one of their emotional buttons and rehash every marital slight in round after round of battles that cycle through passive aggression, open hostility and, sometimes, physical violence.

Burton and Taylor expertly and with bad intent draw Segal and Dennis into this dysfunctional angerfest. As the night drags on, we eventually learn the younger couple has its own, and often similar, challenges: a marriage based on a lie, emasculating money issues (sound familiar), alcoholism (sound familiar) and sexual problems (sound familiar). And this is the up-and-coming couple with promise.

Taking place mainly in Taylor and Burton's clutter, unkempt and run-down Victorian (symbolism anyone) and with only four main characters, the movie feels very much like the Edward Albee play it is based on, which, for a movie, requires a lot of the actors.

The actors bring it. Taylor, Burton, Segal and Dennis are up for this demanding effort with each delivering an impressive performance including a vicious scene of Segal and Taylor cheating with Burton and Dennis left to furtively watch and listen (it's brutal).

By the time director Mike Nichols (who handles family dysfunction with a little more humor and hope in The Graduate) brings us to the big reveal about Burton and Taylor's son, there's so little left in anyone's emotional tank that it feels anticlimactic.

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf is smart, well acted, skillfully directed and emotionally impactful. Still, your experience with this movie comes down to whether or not you want to see lives torn open with all their emotional baggage exposed, analyzed, mocked and left raw.


N.B., Taylor and Burton, as the older couple, are supposed to be about fifteen or so years older than Dennis and Segal and they easily look it. But proving how hard she lived her real life, Taylor, in actuality, is all of two years older than Segal.

My friend, you should have been a film critic...your reviews are that good and the review above is no exception! As have you, I've seen the film "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" a few times. I cannot honestly say it is an enjoyable experience, but it is more like watching an evolving train wreck, sorta like that poster showing an old steam engine freight train slowly rolling of a collapsing bridge. It may not be enjoyable, but it is fascinating and we just cannot look away....that's the Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf viewing experience from my perspective. Thank you for another great review! ;)
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
My friend, you should have been a film critic...your reviews are that good and the review above is no exception! As have you, I've seen the film "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" a few times. I cannot honestly say it is an enjoyable experience, but it is more like watching an evolving train wreck, sorta like that poster showing an old steam engine freight train slowly rolling of a collapsing bridge. It may not be enjoyable, but it is fascinating and we just cannot look away....that's the Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf viewing experience from my perspective. Thank you for another great review! ;)

Thank you for the kind words. I could not agree more about WAOVW as it is engaging, but emotional draining viewing. I'm glad I saw, but doubt I'll ever sit through it again.

Kudos, this is wonderful imagery and metaphor, "...sorta like that poster showing an old steam engine freight train slowly rolling of a collapsing bridge."
 

Peak and Pine

Connoisseur
^^
Have never seen the film, but I have a tale.

In my first year in school in NYC I joined the drama club and the director, friends with a young playwright who had had some success off Broadway, gave me and two others tickets to a preview, essential a dress rehearsal, of the playwright's first effort on real Broadway, a matinee at the Billy Rose theater first row balcony, best seats in any house. Lights go down, curtain goes up on blackness for a full five minutes. The sparce audience murmurs, then somewhere on stage a small crash and a flash of light, a lamp's been knocked over. Then still in darkness, the first spoken words: Jesus H. Chir-ist!. And then for the next two hours all hell breaks loose, and I will never, ever forget what I witnessed that day in a small, live theater with a handful of others. The first Broadway show I ever saw, I was 17, have seen dozens since and nothing, ever has had the effect of seeing Uta Hagan, Arthur Hill, George Grizard and Melinda Dillon (nothing Googled here, the memory of this is that strong), do what they did live in front of me, before the critics were allowed in, before it was deemed the equal of Death of a Salesman, before it was a movie. It was so arduous, so strenuous that on the twice-a-week days that the evening performance was preceeded by a matinee, Ms Hagan couldn't do both and a stand-in was used. Once the final curtain banged down and the house lights went up, my two friends and I stumbled out of the theater, went to McSorley's and got drunk.
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
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Test Pilot from 1938 with Clark Gable, Myrna Loy and Spencer Tracy

Even under the restrictive Motion Picture Production Code, some genuine and intense movies, like Test Pilot, were made.

Clark Gable is a hard-drinking, hard-living, womanizing star test pilot at a time when that career all but equaled early death. With his best friend and mechanic, dour Spencer Tracy, these returning World War I vets bounce around the country in the 1920s testing new planes and trying to break records while spending more than they make.

It's all fun and games until Gable has to make an emergency landing in Kansas where he meets whip-smart and super-cute farm-girl Myrna Loy. After the flirting and denial, they marry and, with Tracy in tow, move to New York where Gable continues his test-pilot career.

The movie now subtly shifts focus from Gable to Loy, a woman in love with a man who goes off to a job everyday that could easily kill him. Despite, most of the time, putting up a brave face, the pressure is slowly breaking Loy.

But Loy gets that she's no match for Gable's true love - flying. She knows she doesn't have to compete with another woman for his affections, but worse, she has to compete with the entire blue sky. She knows if she makes him choose, either way, she'll lose, as to take away the sky would be to kill the man.

So, day after day, week after week, she smiles outwardly while dying inside. When another test pilot is killed in a crash, she cracks a bit, but has no choice but to buck up one more time or lose her husband. So, once again, out comes the smile. When Tracy compliments her on her fortitude, her answer, "It's easy to be gallant when you're doomed," reveals the desperation of her mental state.

Movies then, and even now, are often about the pre-marital dance - the chase - or the post-marital stress - the affair. But in Test Pilot, Loy and Gable's marriage is engaging because we see a good marriage stressed to the limit by external forces. As in The Thin Man series, Loy manages to make marriage not the goal of life, but the fun and exciting thing in life itself.

Test Pilot is engaging because it asks a powerful question: how do you survive - how do you hold up mentally - when you love someone who chooses to tempt fate every day?

All this takes place amidst fantastic flight scenes that are still pretty captivating today, but must have been amazing in 1938. The wrap up is too easy, but audiences even then could tell when the Motion Picture Production Code was at work.


N.B. #1 When Clark Gable is at his worst and just mugging it for the camera (which he does from time to time), he's still a rich man's Robert Taylor.

N.B. #2 Under the code, many things were verboten to show on screen, but having too many drinks and wearing too few bras were allowed. QED, Gable for the first and Myrna Loy for the second in Test Pilot.
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Fading Fast

Connoisseur
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The Flirting Widow from 1930 with Dorothy MacKaill and Basil Rathbone

Watching a "talkie" from 1930 is a bit like driving a car from 1910: you need a different approach and it takes more work, but it can be a heck of a lot of fun.

The Flirting Widow still has silent-movie tics, is in need of restoration and feels more like they play it's based on than a movie. But if you push through all that, it provides a solid just over an hour of entertainment driven by the verve and chemistry of early talky stars Dorothy MacKaill and Basil Rathbone.

MacKaill is the unmarried oldest-of-three daughters of a wealthy family where the father won't let the younger daughters marry until MacKaill marries (a rule he follows more in word than deed).

When cute-as-heck MacKaill first appears, she's dressed in manish clothes with a boy's short haircut, signally, though never said, she's probably not interested in marrying a man. Owing to her father's "rule," this is quite the problem for the middle sister who's itching to marry her boyfriend.

With everyone pressuring MacKaill to marry effete and boring-as-heck family friend Raleigh to solve the problem (if I had a daughter and she brought Raleigh home, I'd shoot one or both of them), she makes up a fiancé in the military whom she says just deployed to India. The family then pressures her to write him a letter (yes, her family is annoying), so she mails Colonel "John Smith" a love note.

Having solved that problem for all of one second, MacKaill then puts a death notice in the paper to extricate herself from the engagement to her made-up colonel. But MacKaill can't catch a break as her letter, by chance, finds a real Colonel John Smith, Basil Rathbone, in India.

Worse for MacKaill, Rathbone, a few weeks later, shows up at her house masquerading as a friend of Colonel John Smith in order to learn what the heck is going on. He quickly susses out what MacKaill did and then mischievously spends the rest of the movie trolling her in front of her family.

You can pretty much guess what happens from here: two hints, MacKaill's earlier gender-bending getup was a feint and Rathbone's goading is covering up his real feelings. Sure, the movie is old, dated and clunky, but Rathbone teasing MacKaill feels modern, real and, most importantly, you believe the two stars had fun filming it. It takes a little adjusting to, but these early talking pictures can still deliver entertainment today.


N.B. Dorothy MacKaill is my favorite "lost" early movie star as she had it all - looks, acting talent and whatever it is that makes someone a star. Check out Safe in Hell (comments here: #27097) to see full-throttle MacKaill completely driving a movie.
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Fading Fast

Connoisseur
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Bullitt from 1968 with Steve McQueen, Jacqueline Bisset, Robert Vaughn and Simon Oakland


"You're living in a sewer Frank, day after day."

- Jacqueline Bisset to boyfriend detective Steve McQueen


It's taken me into the double digits of viewings to just about put all the pieces of Bullitt's plot together. I'm almost there; I only have one or two plot loose ends to tie up in the next couple of viewings. Meanwhile, Jacqueline Bisset summarized the movie's theme nicely for us in all of nine words.

In the thirties, pre-code movies introduced audiences to the seedy side of life, then the forties and fifties leverage film noir to showed us society's dirty laundry, but by the second half of the sixties, films like Bullitt put it out there directly for us to wallow in.

Bullitt's plot folds in on itself a bunch, but goes something like this: a self-aggrandizing politician's key mob informant is killed while in protective custody, putting high-level pressure on police detective McQueen to explain what supposedly went wrong on his team's watch. But nothing is as it appears.

We then see McQueen methodically follow small clues to hunt the killers down while ignoring intense political strong-arming to "just play along," even when he's repeatedly offered career advancement and protection if he'll simply sweep up as told.

The entire plot, though, is a Hitchcock Macguffin (a device to advance the story so you can see characters you care about do a bunch of interesting stuff) to highlight one man - detective Frank Bullitt, whom McQueen brilliantly portrays as excruciatingly laconic.

It's often said McQueen set the pattern for the taciturn, mission-driven detectives that would follow in his wake for the next fifty years (although, Glen Ford did an earlier version of it in 1953's The Big Heat, comments here: #574 ), but McQueen really did it better than every single one of them.

McQueen isn't sparing in words because he's just "that cool" or he is singularly focused on his goal - as most of the subsequent "McQueen-style" detectives play it. He's sparing in words because he's broken in some deeply human way.

When McQueen doesn't respond to questions or emotional pleas, his non-response comes across as that of a man who simply doesn't know how to respond, how to express what he feels or how to connect to other human beings. His eyes convey hurt, sadness and confusion with his inability to express those emotions averring that something broke this good man in a bad world. It's an impressive display of subtle-yet-powerful acting.

Despite being the star, it feels as if McQueen says the fewest words of any of the major characters, which only diminishes what they say as all the gravitational pull in this one comes from McQueen's presence. It doesn't hurt that this is a strikingly stylish movie with no one more nonchalantly stylish than McQueen.

The attempted copycatting is embarrassingly obvious in descendent movies like Sylvester Stallone's vanity project Cobra, where his clothes and car wear and drive him. But in Bullitt, McQueen is so comfortable in his ridiculously cool turtleneck, sport coat and chukkas, while driving his fastback Mustang, you only really notice all those details in the second or third viewing.

Smartly, McQueen (also the producer) isn't afraid to show his character as a normal, vulnerable person, a point often lost in those later copycat movies. Right after the opening scene, McQueen is all but pulled out of bed by a very early in the day visit from his work partner. Here, in an unguarded moment, we see him not as an aloof cop, but as a man who is cold in the morning and simply trying to wake up.

When we later see McQueen ready to go, his cool doesn't feel forced as we understand this guy: He, like all of us, puts his public armor on simply to survive the day.

Yes, Bullitt has the greatest movie-car-chase scene ever - where the hunter-prey dynamic brilliantly shifts early on - but the rest of the movie is almost cheated by the near perfectness of that scene as Jacqueline Bisset is correct, the real story here is Frank Bullitt living in a sewer-like world.

Maybe the only way to survive in a sewer is to be a bit broken. It's McQueen's perfect portrayal of broken Frank Bullitt, not one fast car chasing another fast car, that makes this movie a classic. Heck, McQueen's portrayal is so perfect, we often believe McQueen was that cool in real life, and maybe he was.


N.B. Not printable here, but Google "star star lyrics" to see how The Rolling Stones memorialized McQueen's super-cool ability to have women provide him with sexual favors while they fought for his attention. McQueen's public persona and movie characters - including a love of cars, motorcycles, speed and women - combined to create the star's image.
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
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The Barretts of Wimpole Street from 1934 with Norma Shearer, Charles Laughton, Fredric March and Maureen O'Sullivan

The Barretts of Wimpole Street unfolds like a car slowly shifting through gears. It begins in first as an interesting-enough look at a famous Victorian family where infirm poetess Elizabeth Barrett (Browning comes later) and her eight siblings live in fear of their tyrannical father, Charles Laughton, who forbids any of his children to marry (or have fun).

The family is light and joyful when father Laughton is not around, but is reduced to abject fear when he enters a room. Through outright intimidation, mixed with emotional and financial blackmail, he keeps his adult children at home and ostensibly respectful, but deeply resentful underneath.

Elizabeth, Laughton's favorite and the only child he shows marginal kindness too, is suffering from some unknown ailment that keeps her all but bed ridden. Despite that, she is the spiritual center of the family, along with her scene-stealing English Springer Spaniel, Flush*. The other siblings huddle in her room to escape from their redoubtable father.

The movie shifts into second gear when poet and playwright Robert Browning, Elizabeth's pen pal till now, appears and begins to surreptitiously court Elizabeth, whose health, not unrelatedly, begins to improve. Simultaneously, sister Henrietta, played vivaciously by super-cute Maureen O'Sullivan, secretly courts an army captain. Neither daughter has much hope with father Laughton's no-marriage edict in effect, but their passion for love tries to push through.

Quickly slipping into third gear, several powerful confrontations take place as Laughton all but forbids Browning from visiting while he outright dismisses Henrietta's captain and also forbids her from seeing him. Laughton, trying then to explain himself to Elizabeth (something he wouldn't even bother to do with Henrietta), presents a man who has wrapped his selfish desire to keep his family around him inside some disingenuously noble effort driven by his religious passion.

It's a mishmash of rationalizations and slippery justifications delivered with skill by an actor who intuited "method acting" a few decades before it would become famous. Changing, with ease, from cruelty - he threatens to throw Henrietta out on the street penniless if she sees her beau again - to stilted empathy toward Elizabeth, Laughton delivers a tour-de-force performance.

The Barretts of Wimpole Street shifts into overdrive toward the end as Laughton thunders with rage and declamations of moving the family to the isolation of the country to stop all the affairs and, horror, fun his family is having in London. (Spoiler alert if you don't know the Barrett-Browing love story). Her hand forced, Elizabeth plots an escape and elopement, which will be a dagger right through her father's heart.

With the movie's engine now flatout, the siblings, sans eloping Elizabeth and with a surface sympathy hiding barely contained glee - the Germans call it schadenfreude - convene to see Laughton's response when he reads Elizabeth's note informing him she has left to marry Browning. It's a money moment that's been building since the movie's first scene when a happy family gathering turned to one of cowering and dread upon the arrival of Laughton.

Kudos to director Sidney Franklin for slowly but powerfully building the pace and drama of the movie scene by scene. He engages the viewer lightly at first, but brings him or her to the edge of his or her seat by the final scene. It's a wonderful, even if exhausting, ride.


N.B., The Barretts of Wimpole Street, with its 19th Century Romanticism, is tailor made for Norma Shearer's silent-screen mannerism. Combined with Laughton's dominating performance and O'Sullivan's light-and-sunshine interpretation of Henrietta, The Barretts of Wimpole Street is an actor's movie from 1934 that still delivers punch after punch in 2021.


* This is our dog Finn's, an English Springer Spaniel himself, favorite movie as he thinks Flush is really the star. Despite my discussing the merits of Citizen Kane and Casablanca with him, there is no moving him on this point.
 

eagle2250

Connoisseur/Curmudgeon Emeritus - Moderator
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The Barretts of Wimpole Street from 1934 with Norma Shearer, Charles Laughton, Fredric March and Maureen O'Sullivan

The Barretts of Wimpole Street unfolds like a car slowly shifting through gears. It begins in first as an interesting-enough look at a famous Victorian family where infirm poetess Elizabeth Barrett (Browning comes later) and her eight siblings live in fear of their tyrannical father, Charles Laughton, who forbids any of his children to marry (or have fun).

The family is light and joyful when father Laughton is not around, but is reduced to abject fear when he enters a room. Through outright intimidation, mixed with emotional and financial blackmail, he keeps his adult children at home and ostensibly respectful, but deeply resentful underneath.

Elizabeth, Laughton's favorite and the only child he shows marginal kindness too, is suffering from some unknown ailment that keeps her all but bed ridden. Despite that, she is the spiritual center of the family, along with her scene-stealing English Springer Spaniel, Flush*. The other siblings huddle in her room to escape from their redoubtable father.

The movie shifts into second gear when poet and playwright Robert Browning, Elizabeth's pen pal till now, appears and begins to surreptitiously court Elizabeth, whose health, not unrelatedly, begins to improve. Simultaneously, sister Henrietta, played vivaciously by super-cute Maureen O'Sullivan, secretly courts an army captain. Neither daughter has much hope with father Laughton's no-marriage edict in effect, but their passion for love tries to push through.

Quickly slipping into third gear, several powerful confrontations take place as Laughton all but forbids Browning from visiting while he outright dismisses Henrietta's captain and also forbids her from seeing him. Laughton, trying then to explain himself to Elizabeth (something he wouldn't even bother to do with Henrietta), presents a man who has wrapped his selfish desire to keep his family around him inside some disingenuously noble effort driven by his religious passion.

It's a mishmash of rationalizations and slippery justifications delivered with skill by an actor who intuited "method acting" a few decades before it would become famous. Changing, with ease, from cruelty - he threatens to throw Henrietta out on the street penniless if she sees her beau again - to stilted empathy toward Elizabeth, Laughton delivers a tour-de-force performance.

The Barretts of Wimpole Street shifts into overdrive toward the end as Laughton thunders with rage and declamations of moving the family to the isolation of the country to stop all the affairs and, horror, fun his family is having in London. (Spoiler alert if you don't know the Barrett-Browing love story). Her hand forced, Elizabeth plots an escape and elopement, which will be a dagger right through her father's heart.

With the movie's engine now flatout, the siblings, sans eloping Elizabeth and with a surface sympathy hiding barely contained glee - the Germans call it schadenfreude - convene to see Laughton's response when he reads Elizabeth's note informing him she has left to marry Browning. It's a money moment that's been building since the movie's first scene when a happy family gathering turned to one of cowering and dread upon the arrival of Laughton.

Kudos to director Sidney Franklin for slowly but powerfully building the pace and drama of the movie scene by scene. He engages the viewer lightly at first, but brings him or her to the edge of his or her seat by the final scene. It's a wonderful, even if exhausting, ride.


N.B., The Barretts of Wimpole Street, with its 19th Century Romanticism, is tailor made for Norma Shearer's silent-screen mannerism. Combined with Laughton's dominating performance and O'Sullivan's light-and-sunshine interpretation of Henrietta, The Barretts of Wimpole Street is an actor's movie from 1934 that still delivers punch after punch in 2021.


* This is our dog Finn's, an English Springer Spaniel himself, favorite movie as he thinks Flush is really the star. Despite my discussing the merits of Citizen Kane and Casablanca with him, there is no moving him on this point.

Another great review, as expected. I particularly enjoyed the anecdote sharing Finn's assessment of the movie. Frankly, having watched the movie in question, I do believe Finn's assessment is spot on. We occasionally find ourselves watching movies wioth our Grand Dog (the grand kids dog) Sully, an aging black German Shepard. The beast will lie before the TV quietly until a barking dog comes on the screen and then Sully gets up and starts barking back at the intruder, protecting his pack of humans...I suppose! LOL. :crazy:;)
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
Another great review, as expected. I particularly enjoyed the anecdote sharing Finn's assessment of the movie. Frankly, having watched the movie in question, I do believe Finn's assessment is spot on. We occasionally find ourselves watching movies wioth our Grand Dog (the grand kids dog) Sully, an aging black German Shepard. The beast will lie before the TV quietly until a barking dog comes on the screen and then Sully gets up and starts barking back at the intruder, protecting his pack of humans...I suppose! LOL. :crazy:;)

Finn sometimes does that, and sometimes is "above" such pedestrian dog behavior.

If you really want to have a complex conversation with your dog, talk to him or her about Lassie. Finn won't admit it, but he is torn as he has species pride in Lassie, but breed envy. Sometimes, when he does something bad or stupid, I tell him that Lassie would never do that - that really gets his goat.
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
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Ladies in Retirement from 1941 with Ida Lupino, Edith Barrett, Isobel Elsom, Elsa Lanchester and Louis Hayward

Ladies in Retirement is a solid entry in the subgenre of movies set in isolated country houses populated with eccentric family members where somebody needs money in a hurry. Unfortunately, though, the wealthy old lady (it's usually an old lady), who has all the money, doesn't want to part with it. Therein lies the problem and, possible, motive for murder (cue ominous music).

The house in these movies, often, is old and eerie with a bunch of dark nooks, creepy furniture and a dungeon-like basement. Basically, the setting advertises that something bad will eventually happen here. In addition to the eccentric family members, there's normally an oddball staff with, at minimum, a sassy young maid and an older gent who serves as a general caretaker. Finally, a few quirky village characters come by regularly to round out the cast.

In Ladies in Retirement, the story pivots around deadly serious housekeeper, Ida Lupino, who needs a home for her two older and genuinely daffy sisters, Edith Barrett and Elsa Lanchester. Otherwise, the state is going to put them in an asylum.

Lupino convinces her employer, Isobel Elsom, to let them come and stay for a bit, but after a few days with these two wackjobs in her house, wealthy eccentric Elsom tells Lupino her sisters have to go. When Lupino bucks her, Elsom then tells Lupion all three of them should leave.

What to do? What to do? Next thing we know, Elsom has gone on a trip and left Lupino in charge of the house, or has she? Lupino tells the maid and villagers that story, but she tells her sisters she's secretly bought the house.

Things go along, awkwardly, like this for a bit and then Lupino's scammer "nephew" (he's really a more distant relative), Louis Hayward, shows up looking for a place to hide out as he's absconded with money from his job at a bank (it's a heck of a family). Like all skilled scammers, he immediately senses that something is wrong in the house and begins noodling around.

He also hits on the maid as, in these stories, there's usually a, umm, horny young maid. Here, it's Evelyn Keyes, who is willing to do almost anything for the only youthful man to cross her path in a long time.

Also thrown into the mix are a few nuns from the local convent who stop in occasionally on some neighborly errand, but really to inject some Christian conscience into the story. That sets us up for the climax and denouement.

Did Lupino, who plays this one wound tighter than a drum, off the old lady so that she could provide a home for her spun-out-into-orbit sisters or did the old lady truly go on a trip with the incriminating clues pointing to murder really just explainable coincidences? As in most good mysteries, the answer is less interesting than the build up, but still, you'll want to see for yourself how it all plays out.


N.B. For some reason, 1937's Night Must Fall, which has a similar story to Ladies in Retirement, gets more attention from old-movie fans. Yet, Ladies in Retirement offers an equal or, maybe, greater amount of murder, mystery and dysfunction, while its director, Charles Vidor, keeps things moving along at a faster pace than in Night Must Fall.
 

eagle2250

Connoisseur/Curmudgeon Emeritus - Moderator
View attachment 58415
Ladies in Retirement from 1941 with Ida Lupino, Edith Barrett, Isobel Elsom, Elsa Lanchester and Louis Hayward

Ladies in Retirement is a solid entry in the subgenre of movies set in isolated country houses populated with eccentric family members where somebody needs money in a hurry. Unfortunately, though, the wealthy old lady (it's usually an old lady), who has all the money, doesn't want to part with it. Therein lies the problem and, possible, motive for murder (cue ominous music).

The house in these movies, often, is old and eerie with a bunch of dark nooks, creepy furniture and a dungeon-like basement. Basically, the setting advertises that something bad will eventually happen here. In addition to the eccentric family members, there's normally an oddball staff with, at minimum, a sassy young maid and an older gent who serves as a general caretaker. Finally, a few quirky village characters come by regularly to round out the cast.

In Ladies in Retirement, the story pivots around deadly serious housekeeper, Ida Lupino, who needs a home for her two older and genuinely daffy sisters, Edith Barrett and Elsa Lanchester. Otherwise, the state is going to put them in an asylum.

Lupino convinces her employer, Isobel Elsom, to let them come and stay for a bit, but after a few days with these two wackjobs in her house, wealthy eccentric Elsom tells Lupino her sisters have to go. When Lupino bucks her, Elsom then tells Lupion all three of them should leave.

What to do? What to do? Next thing we know, Elsom has gone on a trip and left Lupino in charge of the house, or has she? Lupino tells the maid and villagers that story, but she tells her sisters she's secretly bought the house.

Things go along, awkwardly, like this for a bit and then Lupino's scammer "nephew" (he's really a more distant relative), Louis Hayward, shows up looking for a place to hide out as he's absconded with money from his job at a bank (it's a heck of a family). Like all skilled scammers, he immediately senses that something is wrong in the house and begins noodling around.

He also hits on the maid as, in these stories, there's usually a, umm, horny young maid. Here, it's Evelyn Keyes, who is willing to do almost anything for the only youthful man to cross her path in a long time.

Also thrown into the mix are a few nuns from the local convent who stop in occasionally on some neighborly errand, but really to inject some Christian conscience into the story. That sets us up for the climax and denouement.

Did Lupino, who plays this one wound tighter than a drum, off the old lady so that she could provide a home for her spun-out-into-orbit sisters or did the old lady truly go on a trip with the incriminating clues pointing to murder really just explainable coincidences? As in most good mysteries, the answer is less interesting than the build up, but still, you'll want to see for yourself how it all plays out.


N.B. For some reason, 1937's Night Must Fall, which has a similar story to Ladies in Retirement, gets more attention from old-movie fans. Yet, Ladies in Retirement offers an equal or, maybe, greater amount of murder, mystery and dysfunction, while its director, Charles Vidor, keeps things moving along at a faster pace than in Night Must Fall.

My friend, you have done it again...Ladies in Retirement is on my must watch list! Thanks.
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
tunesofglory1960.94056.jpg

Tunes of Glory from 1960 with Alec Guinness, John Mills and Susannah York


Tunes of Glory is a bit slow out of the gate, but it's well worth staying with this intense drama about a battle of wills for control of a Scottish regiment during the post-WWII peace.

Alec Guinness is the major who worked his way up through the ranks to become the regiment's acting colonel during WWII, but he is passed over for permanent appointment after the war. Instead, third-generation academy man John Mills is given the commission with Guinness remaining a major now reporting to Mills.

It's as awful and untenable a situation as it sounds. Guinness is a soldier's soldier who is a drinking buddy with most of his officers, but he also has a vicious cruel streak, which he seems to justify because he, himself, had to succeed the hard way.

Mills, who spent most of the war as a POW - and admits quietly at one point that he "never really came back -" is uncomfortable around the men in his command, a situation aggravated by his efforts to restore the order and discipline that Guinness let slip.

Initially, our sympathies are with Guinness as, despite his flaws, he is the more affable of the two men and, as noted, worked his way up through the ranks. But as we watch him vindictively undermine Mills' attempt to acclimate to his new command, and as we learn more about the family pressures and expectations Mills has been under his entire life, our sympathies begin to shift.

It's easy to feel smug and dismissive about the pressures and problems of the "privileged," (it's a not-pretty tic of our modern culture), but you can't help where you were born. Expectations can be a heavy burden to carry through life whether we want to acknowledge it or not. It's also easy to forget that not everyone who pulls himself up by his bootstraps is a great guy.

This is where director Ronald Neame shines as, after setting us up with a boilerplate view of who's the good guy and who's not, he flips our sympathies around a few times.

First, a drunk and angry Guinness strikes a corporal who is covertly dating Guinness' daughter, Susannah York. Now that Mills has his enemy right where he wants him, he has to decide if he is going to court martial Guinness. After leaning that way initially, he hesitates as he truly struggles with finding the right thing to do.

When a contrite and apologetic Guinness convinces Mills to give him a second chance with the promise that "this time," he'll work with Mills to make his command a success, we assume the movie is about over as both men have "grown" through experience.

But there's one more major flip to come with tragic results that takes the story and movie to another emotional level. After having all our comfortable assumptions and expectations blown apart, we're left reflecting on two men who are neither all good nor bad, but like most people in real life, land somewhere in between.

When we learn Guinness' and Mills' personal stories in a way that we rarely do with people in our own lives, we become more forgiving of their faults...up to a point. Tunes of Glory leaves you thinking about, and a little uncomfortable with, your own beliefs, assumptions and snap judgments about people. It's hard to ask for more from a movie.


N.B. Guinness and Mills, under the talented directing of Robert Neame, deliver outstanding performances where you can see them thinking and feeling simply from facial expressions and eye movements - the way you can in real life, but not always in movies. Tunes of Glory, which clearly influenced 1992's A Few Good Men, deserves to be more well known today.
 

eagle2250

Connoisseur/Curmudgeon Emeritus - Moderator
View attachment 58476
Tunes of Glory from 1960 with Alec Guinness, John Mills and Susannah York


Tunes of Glory is a bit slow out of the gate, but it's well worth staying with this intense drama about a battle of wills for control of a Scottish regiment during the post-WWII peace.

Alec Guinness is the major who worked his way up through the ranks to become the regiment's acting colonel during WWII, but he is passed over for permanent appointment after the war. Instead, third-generation academy man John Mills is given the commission with Guinness remaining a major now reporting to Mills.

It's as awful and untenable a situation as it sounds. Guinness is a soldier's soldier who is a drinking buddy with most of his officers, but he also has a vicious cruel streak, which he seems to justify because he, himself, had to succeed the hard way.

Mills, who spent most of the war as a POW - and admits quietly at one point that he "never really came back -" is uncomfortable around the men in his command, a situation aggravated by his efforts to restore the order and discipline that Guinness let slip.

Initially, our sympathies are with Guinness as, despite his flaws, he is the more affable of the two men and, as noted, worked his way up through the ranks. But as we watch him vindictively undermine Mills' attempt to acclimate to his new command, and as we learn more about the family pressures and expectations Mills has been under his entire life, our sympathies begin to shift.

It's easy to feel smug and dismissive about the pressures and problems of the "privileged," (it's a not-pretty tic of our modern culture), but you can't help where you were born. Expectations can be a heavy burden to carry through life whether we want to acknowledge it or not. It's also easy to forget that not everyone who pulls himself up by his bootstraps is a great guy.

This is where director Ronald Neame shines as, after setting us up with a boilerplate view of who's the good guy and who's not, he flips our sympathies around a few times.

First, a drunk and angry Guinness strikes a corporal who is covertly dating Guinness' daughter, Susannah York. Now that Mills has his enemy right where he wants him, he has to decide if he is going to court martial Guinness. After leaning that way initially, he hesitates as he truly struggles with finding the right thing to do.

When a contrite and apologetic Guinness convinces Mills to give him a second chance with the promise that "this time," he'll work with Mills to make his command a success, we assume the movie is about over as both men have "grown" through experience.

But there's one more major flip to come with tragic results that takes the story and movie to another emotional level. After having all our comfortable assumptions and expectations blown apart, we're left reflecting on two men who are neither all good nor bad, but like most people in real life, land somewhere in between.

When we learn Guinness' and Mills' personal stories in a way that we rarely do with people in our own lives, we become more forgiving of their faults...up to a point. Tunes of Glory leaves you thinking about, and a little uncomfortable with, your own beliefs, assumptions and snap judgments about people. It's hard to ask for more from a movie.


N.B. Guinness and Mills, under the talented directing of Robert Neame, deliver outstanding performances where you can see them thinking and feeling simply from facial expressions and eye movements - the way you can in real life, but not always in movies. Tunes of Glory, which clearly influenced 1992's A Few Good Men, deserves to be more well known today.

It has been my good fortune to watch Tunes of Glory perhaps twice in the past, but it has been awhile. I have also more recently watched A Few Good Men on more than one occasion and have watched or simply listened to that animated exchange between Colonel Nathan Jessup and Lieutenant JG Daniel Kaffee more times than I would care to admit. However, my superficial viewing approach has perhaps clouded my observational acumen and I have missed the tie-in, you reference, between these two great movies. I will schedule a viewing of both in my near future in an attempt to correct this abridgement of my cinematic understanding. Thanks for a great review. ;)
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
6499e.jpg

The Whistle at Eaton Falls from 1951 with Lloyd Bridges, Dorothy Gish, Ernest Borgnine and James Westerfield


"It doesn't take a sales manager to sell to the Navy, you're the low bidder or you're sunk."

- Doubleday Plastics' sales manager explaining to his new boss the brutal competition for government contracts.


This is not your average Hollywood movie about business. While it has plenty of Hollywood hokum and platitudes, and it's uneven as heck, it still has its moments where it takes an honest look at business and unions.

A plastics manufacturing company in a New Hampshire town is losing business and needs to automate (bring in new machines) to reduce costs and compete, but that will also lead to layoffs.

After the owner dies in a plane crash, his widow - in a moment of inspiration or idiocy - puts the head of the union, Lloyd Bridges, in charge of the company, which forces management to see the union's viewpoint and vice versa.

Bridges, after immediately promising not to cut any jobs, very quickly sees that there are no greedy owners living off of fat profits, but instead he's in charge of a company deeply in debt and losing money every day.

If there isn't profit in what the company sells, the payrolls won't be met (union contract or not), the bank loans won't get repaid, the business will fail, all jobs will be eliminated and the owner will be wiped out. Bridges looks at everything to save jobs, but realizes he needs to automate - the plan in place when he took over - or everyone will lose his or her job.

The union itself is split between the pragmatists who believe Bridges and realize that saving some jobs is better than saving none, but there's also a small militant faction who, against the evidence, believes management is lying and obdurately argues for no compromise.

Thrown into the mix is a mendacious former senior manager who is trying to buy the company on the cheap, lay everyone off, strip it of its patents and equipment, while dangling enough money in front of the owner's widow to allow her to maintain her lifestyle.

Not too many punches are held back as a temporary shutdown of the plant quickly reveals the visceral hardship the workers face trying to buy food and make their car and mortgage payments with only unemployment benefits coming in.

Yet, reopening the plant is no easy hurdle. Bridges and his head of sales, trying to do just that, bid below the factory's cost on a government contract in hope they'll find "cost saves" later. They still lose out to even lower bidders.

Hate management all you want, what would you do? Be as anti-union as you want, but most in the union offered to compromise even though, for those who would lose their jobs, it would mean almost certain poverty.

The rest is Hollywood happiness (spoiler alert) as a new patent discovery allows the company to bid lower on a huge contract. With the extra business, it can afford to automate, which reduces workers per shift, but it then hires those workers back as the company adds two more shifts to meet the growing demand.

Despite the fairytale ending, the value in the movie is the real stuff in the middle when both labor and management are forced to see there are no easy answers. It's also refreshing as most of the people in management and the union aren't portrayed as the cardboard evil characters their antagonists aver. For Hollywood, it's a reasonably honest look at business and labor.


N.B. Despite being 1951, the company has a smart female treasurer who, as opposed to today, is respected for her talent without a bunch of brouhaha "celebrating her gender." The same goes for the union where it is a female worker who takes the lead rallying the men to "man up" (paraphrasing, but that was her meaning) when a small faction tries to use force to override the legitimate outcome of a union vote. Nothing was ever as one-way as a post-it-note view of a period often makes it appear.
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
It-Happened-Tomorrow-inside.jpg

It Happened Tomorrow from 1944 with Dick Powell, Linda Darnell, Jack Oakie and Edward Brophy

In It Happened Tomorrow, a late-1800s newspaper reporter, Dick Powell, after expressing a desire to see the future, is given a copy of the next day's paper by the publisher's apparition-like "archivist." Yes, the plot foreshadows a couple of future The Twilight Zone episodes.

Instead of immediately going to the race track or a brokerage firm, like any normal greedy person would, Powell uses his knowledge of the future to boost his career by "scooping" the next day's news. He also leverages his new prescience to impress a potential girlfriend, Linda Darnell, who, coincidentally, is part of an uncle-niece psychic act.

But as happens in these types of stories, his plans go awry with only trouble ensuing. Powell loudly announces that he's going to be present at a yet-to-happen theater ticket-booth holdup, which results in, yes a scoop, but also, the police believing he's part of the gang that held up the theater.

Powell then spends a chunk of the movie proving his innocence while trying to convince Darnell and her skeptical uncle that he's not a crook or a nutcase. With that somewhat accomplished, he now decides to use his knowledge of the future to make a bunch of money at the racetrack so that he and Darnell will have a nest egg to start their life together.

However, as before, things don't work out well. First, though, there's the movie's best scene where one of the track's bookmakers, played by the wonderful character actor Edward Brophy, goes from cockily taking Powell's action to, after Powell has several winners in a row, all but pleading with him to take his business to another bookie. There's no gambler ever who hasn't fantasized about having that kind of day at the track.

Again though, no good comes from this as Powell learns from the same newspaper where he's getting all the winning horses, he will die tomorrow. That will take the shine off even a great day at the racetrack (which is hard to do). Later, as would eventually become a stock plot device for these types of stories, his winnings are stolen from him.

All of these ups and downs happen inside a screwball-comedy construct with a lighthearted tone. You can probably see the end coming (it's only a spoiler alert if you've never seen a romcom-with-a-message movie before) as Powell and Darnell learn it's love not money that is really important to achieve happiness.

It's a serviceable movie whose story feels a bit choppy, which probably reflects the seven different writers who worked on the screenplay - too many cooks in the kitchen and all that. There's no reason to seek this one out, but if it happened to be on, there are worse ways to spend an hour and half. Plus, it's fun to see an early version of an idea The Twilight Zone TV show would explore from a few different angles, just a decade and half or so later.
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
8x10_Charlton Heston TheTenCommandments.jpg

The Ten Commandments from 1956 with a cast that includes almost every actor in Hollywood at the time


"His God, is God"
- Rameses


It's not often the theme of a three-plus-hour Biblical extravaganza can be summed up in four words, but leave it to a beaten Egyptian pharaoh to succinctly explain the defining meaning of the Moses story.

The Ten Commandments is an odd mix of Hollywood kitsch and Biblical tale that pings from silly to sublime, sometimes, from scene to scene. The bold Technicolor detracts from the solemnity of the subject (as a kid, I first saw it on a black-and-white TV, which is partly why it seemed more serious to me then). Still, when the narrative limns closely to the Bible, the cheesiness of the production fades as the power of the story takes over.

Having been raised without religion and only having read the Bible as an adult (in some updated English version), the movie seems to, generally, follow the Moses tale in the Old Testament, but I defer to anyone with even modest biblical knowledge.

Despite being a mashup of an overblown Hollywood production and Biblical story, and with a lot of 1950s movie-making excess on display, the film still engages throughout its runtime. Perhaps because it has impressive source material (although, Moses didn't get a writing credit) and a ton of story to get through, scenes just keep speeding by.

Sometimes it seems that the production almost overwhelmed famed director Cecil B. Demille, but he managed to somehow corral a cast of thousands, a rambling story with subplots all over the place and a crazy number of special effects to deliver an epic.

The core conflict - the battle of wills and theology between Rameses (Yul Brynner) and Moses (Charlton Heston) - frames the movie right down to the two powerful men wanting the same woman, Queen Nefretiri, played by Anne Baxter exuding an all-consuming lust, often, unrequitedly for Moses.

As Moses's path takes him from Pharaoh's son to a slave, his gradual evolution to prophet parallels Rameses rise to the throne as an Egyptian god on earth (but the god thing in Egypt is hard to keep track of as they had a lot of them back then).

Even though, here, the Egyptian palaces look a bit like modern-day over-priced luxury furniture "galleries'' (a lot of empty space between overwrought items), the power of the Egyptian Empire is impressive for its day (it's 1300 BC or thereabouts), making Moses' attempt to free his people more daunting.

But Rameses keeps losing out to God-made, Moses-prophesized miracle upon miracle. After derisively dismissing Moses' pronouncement that hail and darkness will come at noon, you see the confidence drain out of Rameses as hail begins to rain down, well, at noon.

When Moses warns Rameses that the first-born son of every Egyptian will be killed, and it happens, Rameses has had enough. In disgust, defeat and fear, he doesn't so much free the Israelis as gives up and lets them leave.

Nefretiri, angry because Moses has scorned her (heaven has no rage and all that), goads Rameses to change his mind when she all but tells him he has a small, umm, staff compared to Moses. So inspired, or shamed, Ramses leads the Egyptian army in pursuit of the fleeing Israelis.

When a wall of fire and a parting sea that, then, unparts and destroys Rameses army ends his pursuit effort, he returns to his palace a beaten man who has seen the power of the one God and utters the defining words, "His God, is God."

All that's left is, well, the really big Old Testament stuff. Moses ascends Mount Sinai where God writes the Ten Commandment in his own hand (it's a cool scene). Carrying the sacred tablets, Moses comes down to see, in the mere forty days he's been away, many of the Israelis have lost faith, are living wantonly and praying to a golden calf.

Let's pause here for a second. After God performed ten miracles to free the Israelis from Egypt and created a wall of fire while parting the sea to ensure their escape, they lost faith after forty days. Really? Seeing those events with my own eyes would have been enough to make me a believer for five lifetimes.

In disgust, Moses throws the Tablets with the Commandments at the offending calf, the Israelis wander in the desert for forty years and, finally, see the promised land as Moses is about to die. Whatever your faith, it's a powerful story that draws you in despite all the wacky 1950s movie-making silliness going on around the core Biblical tale.


N.B. Look for the scene where non-believer (in the Egyptian gods) Rameses, having just lost his young son, prays to the Egyptian god of darkness to bring his son back. It is a moving moment of a man now looking for faith, but who fails to find it in his own religion. Later, at the parting-of-the-sea event, he is convinced he has seen the one God, yet he can't acknowledge his new belief to his subjects. It's a powerful commentary on the eternal challenges of faith and identity.
 

eagle2250

Connoisseur/Curmudgeon Emeritus - Moderator
View attachment 58682
The Ten Commandments from 1956 with a cast that includes almost every actor in Hollywood at the time


"His God, is God"
- Rameses


It's not often the theme of a three-plus-hour Biblical extravaganza can be summed up in four words, but leave it to a beaten Egyptian pharaoh to succinctly explain the defining meaning of the Moses story.

The Ten Commandments is an odd mix of Hollywood kitsch and Biblical tale that pings from silly to sublime, sometimes, from scene to scene. The bold Technicolor detracts from the solemnity of the subject (as a kid, I first saw it on a black-and-white TV, which is partly why it seemed more serious to me then). Still, when the narrative limns closely to the Bible, the cheesiness of the production fades as the power of the story takes over.

Having been raised without religion and only having read the Bible as an adult (in some updated English version), the movie seems to, generally, follow the Moses tale in the Old Testament, but I defer to anyone with even modest biblical knowledge.

Despite being a mashup of an overblown Hollywood production and Biblical story, and with a lot of 1950s movie-making excess on display, the film still engages throughout its runtime. Perhaps because it has impressive source material (although, Moses didn't get a writing credit) and a ton of story to get through, scenes just keep speeding by.

Sometimes it seems that the production almost overwhelmed famed director Cecil B. Demille, but he managed to somehow corral a cast of thousands, a rambling story with subplots all over the place and a crazy number of special effects to deliver an epic.

The core conflict - the battle of wills and theology between Rameses (Yul Brynner) and Moses (Charlton Heston) - frames the movie right down to the two powerful men wanting the same woman, Queen Nefretiri, played by Anne Baxter exuding an all-consuming lust, often, unrequitedly for Moses.

As Moses's path takes him from Pharaoh's son to a slave, his gradual evolution to prophet parallels Rameses rise to the throne as an Egyptian god on earth (but the god thing in Egypt is hard to keep track of as they had a lot of them back then).

Even though, here, the Egyptian palaces look a bit like modern-day over-priced luxury furniture "galleries'' (a lot of empty space between overwrought items), the power of the Egyptian Empire is impressive for its day (it's 1300 BC or thereabouts), making Moses' attempt to free his people more daunting.

But Rameses keeps losing out to God-made, Moses-prophesized miracle upon miracle. After derisively dismissing Moses' pronouncement that hail and darkness will come at noon, you see the confidence drain out of Rameses as hail begins to rain down, well, at noon.

When Moses warns Rameses that the first-born son of every Egyptian will be killed, and it happens, Rameses has had enough. In disgust, defeat and fear, he doesn't so much free the Israelis as gives up and lets them leave.

Nefretiri, angry because Moses has scorned her (heaven has no rage and all that), goads Rameses to change his mind when she all but tells him he has a small, umm, staff compared to Moses. So inspired, or shamed, Ramses leads the Egyptian army in pursuit of the fleeing Israelis.

When a wall of fire and a parting sea that, then, unparts and destroys Rameses army ends his pursuit effort, he returns to his palace a beaten man who has seen the power of the one God and utters the defining words, "His God, is God."

All that's left is, well, the really big Old Testament stuff. Moses ascends Mount Sinai where God writes the Ten Commandment in his own hand (it's a cool scene). Carrying the sacred tablets, Moses comes down to see, in the mere forty days he's been away, many of the Israelis have lost faith, are living wantonly and praying to a golden calf.

Let's pause here for a second. After God performed ten miracles to free the Israelis from Egypt and created a wall of fire while parting the sea to ensure their escape, they lost faith after forty days. Really? Seeing those events with my own eyes would have been enough to make me a believer for five lifetimes.

In disgust, Moses throws the Tablets with the Commandments at the offending calf, the Israelis wander in the desert for forty years and, finally, see the promised land as Moses is about to die. Whatever your faith, it's a powerful story that draws you in despite all the wacky 1950s movie-making silliness going on around the core Biblical tale.


N.B. Look for the scene where non-believer (in the Egyptian gods) Rameses, having just lost his young son, prays to the Egyptian god of darkness to bring his son back. It is a moving moment of a man now looking for faith, but who fails to find it in his own religion. Later, at the parting-of-the-sea event, he is convinced he has seen the one God, yet he can't acknowledge his new belief to his subjects. It's a powerful commentary on the eternal challenges of faith and identity.

I've seen The Ten Commandments, but alas, it was the color version, watched on a color TV. However, it was several decades ago and the 'old man's' memory is fuzzy and getting fuzzier every day. LOL. I am always impressed with the lucidity of your written comments and most impressed with the insightful details you manage to consistently include in your reviews.

Regarding your understanding(s)/interpretation of the Bible, you have nothing to worry about. My late, sainted Mama always insisted we be in Church every Sunday morning and over the years I've read several versions (to include The Revised Standard Version, The New English Version and The New International version, A Leadership Bible and Life Application Bible, with copious notes on how to apply scriptures to our leadership challenges at work and to situations we encounter in our lives, respectively) of the Bible cover to cover. The Leadership Application Bible accompanied me throughout most of my 42 years of full time work and was in my Tech Order bag for each of my 408 nuclear alert tours in the Minuteman II weapon system. Perhaps the most understandable of the Bible versions I have read was "The Book of God," a novelized version of the Bible written by Professor Emeritus Walter Wangerin, Jr. of Valparaiso University. It helps tie it all together in one's mind. My point is, I suspect your scriptural understanding is as valid as any others might claim theirs to be. Religion/Spiritual growth seems to be a lifetime undertaking. I'm still waiting for that big white light to illuminate telling me I understand it all! LOL.

Thank you for another great review! ;)
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
I've seen The Ten Commandments, but alas, it was the color version, watched on a color TV. However, it was several decades ago and the 'old man's' memory is fuzzy and getting fuzzier every day. LOL. I am always impressed with the lucidity of your written comments and most impressed with the insightful details you manage to consistently include in your reviews.

Regarding your understanding(s)/interpretation of the Bible, you have nothing to worry about. My late, sainted Mama always insisted we be in Church every Sunday morning and over the years I've read several versions (to include The Revised Standard Version, The New English Version and The New International version, A Leadership Bible and Life Application Bible, with copious notes on how to apply scriptures to our leadership challenges at work and to situations we encounter in our lives, respectively) of the Bible cover to cover. The Leadership Application Bible accompanied me throughout most of my 42 years of full time work and was in my Tech Order bag for each of my 408 nuclear alert tours in the Minuteman II weapon system. Perhaps the most understandable of the Bible versions I have read was "The Book of God," a novelized version of the Bible written by Professor Emeritus Walter Wangerin, Jr. of Valparaiso University. It helps tie it all together in one's mind. My point is, I suspect your scriptural understanding is as valid as any others might claim theirs to be. Religion/Spiritual growth seems to be a lifetime undertaking. I'm still waiting for that big white light to illuminate telling me I understand it all! LOL.

Thank you for another great review! ;)

Thank you, I very much appreciate your kind comments about the review and your insight and perspective on the Bible.

It's a heck of a movie with a lot of kitsch, but when it hits a serious Bible note, it inspired.

I've thought about the Rameses quote, "His God, is God," since this recent viewing as it is so well written and impactful.
 
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