From Russia With Love (1963 Britain)

You don’t review James Bond movies, you evaluate them, rate them according to how well they meet expectations. Today, the Bond franchise is second only to Star Wars in value, and second only to Godzilla in number of films. It’s MGM’s mainstay, and its title role is among the most coveted in the British film industry. But at the beginning, it was far from clear that it would be this way. Dr. No, while hardly a flop, was also less than a resounding success. It did decent box office, but reviews were mixed, and Ian Fleming himself was reported to be somewhat unhappy with the result. If the second Bond wasn’t an improvement, the series might not have continued much longer. But From Russia with Love was better, in practically every way, an interesting fact considering that it had the same director and leading man. [Read more…]

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A Man For All Seasons (1966 Britain)

This piece of classic cinema is an erudite example of the old Biblical maxim: a man cannot serve two masters. Sir Thomas More, a multi-talented man of letters and law, went to the executioner’s block because he would not recognize a temporal king as head of his country’s church. Though a friend of Henry VIII, and his chancellor, he was more afraid of offending God than the king. A man who took his Catholic faith quite seriously. Robert Bolt’s play ran for 637 performances in the 1961-1963 season on Broadway and the only two who came over from the Broadway cast were Paul Scofield as More and Leo McKern as Thomas Cromwell. [Read more…]

The Sting (1973 USA)

the-sting-graphicFew films can draw me in and indulge me on repeat viewings like The Sting does. Brilliantly directed by George Roy Hill, the film runs at a relaxed pace for a while during which it introduces each one of its characters. But once the board is set, it starts throwing one twist after another which continues until the very end. This stylishly creates a place in space and time that may never existed but it feels real. It deserved its haul of seven Academy awards. [Read more…]

JAWS (1975 United States)

Jaws_The-Unseen-Monster_pierThe mechanical shark in Jaws (“Bruce”) reportedly would not work very well for director Steven Spielberg, subsequently Spielberg resorted to point of view shots to achieve the terror he desired. This was an inspired technique, far better than actually seeing the shark. [Read more…]

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