TV Review – BLACK NARCISSUS (2020)

Black Narcissus' Gets FX Premiere Date, Trailer And Key Art Released –  DeadlineBLACK NARCISSUS (TV) (2020, UK) ***
Drama
dist. BBC One (UK), FX Network (USA); pr co. DNA Films; d. Charlotte Bruus Christensen; w. Amanda Coe (based on the novel by Rumer Godden); exec pr. Ayela Butt, Amanda Coe, Andrew Macdonald, Allon Reich, Lucy Richer; pr. Cahal Bannon; assoc pr. Vivien Kenny; ph. Charlotte Bruus Christensen (Colour. 2.00:1); m. Anne Dudley; ed. Jinx Godfrey; pd. Kave Quinn; ad. Andrea Matheson; cos. Kave Quinn; m/up. Nicole Stafford, Emmy Beech; sd. Ben Barker, Glenn Freemantle (Dolby Digital); sfx. Mark Meddings; vfx. Samantha Townend st. Jamie Edgell; rel. 23 November 2020 (USA), 27 December 2020 (UK); cert: NR; r/t. 165m.

cast: Gemma Arterton (Sister Clodagh), Aisling Franciosi (Sister Ruth), Nila Aalia (Angu Ayah), Patsy Ferran (Sister Blanche), Rosie Cavaliero (Sister Briony), Gianni Gonsalves (Srimati Rai), Soumil Malla (Joseph Anthony), Alessandro Nivola (Mr Dean), Wayne Llewellyn (Sannyasi), Dipika Kunwar (Kanchi), Chaneil Kular (Dilip Rai), Jim Broadbent (Father Roberts), Diana Rigg (Mother Dorothea), Aashish Shrestha (Phuba), Gina McKee (Sister Adela), Prabal Sonam Ghising (Pin), Komal Ghambole (Samya), Kulvinder Ghir (General Toda Rai), Karen Bryson (Sister Philippa).

A group of nuns face challenges in the hostile environment of a remote old Himalayan palace that they wish to make a convent. This adaptation of the 1939 novel by Rumer Godden suffers from being drawn out over three one-hour episodes as there really is no three act structure to contain it. The story relies on a gradual building of tension as the nuns battle with their sexual repression and their environment. The pluses are the excellent production values and photography and Dudley’s baroque score. There are fine performances too from Arterton and Franciosi as well as Cavaliero. The tension builds nicely in the final half hour, but the drama could have been edited down into a two-hour version and delivered a stronger dynamic. Powell and Pressburger’s 1947 movie version therefore remains definitive, despite the valiant attempts to more accurately reflect the source material here.

Film Review – STAR WARS: EPISODE I – THE PHANTOM MENACE (1999)

Watch Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (Episode I) | Full Movie | Disney+STAR WARS: EPISODE I – THE PHANTOM MENACE (1999, USA) ***
Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
dist. Twentieth Century Fox; pr co. Lucasfilm; d. George Lucas; w. George Lucas; exec pr. George Lucas; pr. Rick McCallum; ph. David Tattersall (DeLuxe. 35 mm (Kodak Vision 2383, Vision Premier 2393), D-Cinema (Texas Instruments DLP 1280 x 1024, 1.9: 1 anamorphic). Dolby Vision, HDCAM (some scenes), Hawk Scope (anamorphic), Powerscope (anamorphic) (underwater scenes), VistaVision (some scenes). 2.35:1); m. John Williams; ed. Ben Burtt, Paul Martin Smith; pd. Gavin Bocquet; ad. Peter Russell; set d. Peter Walpole; cos. Trisha Biggar; m/up. Paul Engelen, Sue Love; sd. Tom Bellfort, Ben Burtt, Matthew Wood (Dolby Digital EX | SDDS (8 channels) | DTS-ES | Dolby Atmos); sfx. Geoff Heron, Peter Hutchinson; vfx. John Knoll, Dennis Muren, Scott Squires; st. Nick Gillard; anim. Miguel A. Fuertes; rel. 16 May 1999 (USA), 14 July 1999 (UK); cert: U; r/t. 136m.

cast: Liam Neeson (Qui-Gon Jinn), Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan Kenobi), Natalie Portman (Queen Amidala / Padmé), Jake Lloyd (Anakin Skywalker), Ian McDiarmid (Senator Palpatine), Pernilla August (Shmi Skywalker), Oliver Ford Davies (Sio Bibble), Hugh Quarshie (Captain Panaka), Ahmed Best (Jar Jar Binks), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO (voice)), Kenny Baker (R2-D2), Frank Oz (Yoda (voice)), Terence Stamp (Chancellor Valorum), Brian Blessed (Boss Nass (voice)), Andy Secombe (Watto (voice)), Ray Park (Darth Maul), Lewis Macleod (Sebulba (voice)), Warwick Davis (Wald / Pod race spectator / Mos Espa Citizen), Steve Speirs (Captain Tarpals).

The first of the second trilogy of STAR WARS movies goes back to the start of the story. Here, two Jedi Knights, Qui-Gon Jinn (Neeson) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (McGregor) escape a hostile blockade to find allies and come across a young boy (Lloyd) who may bring balance to the Force, but the long dormant Sith resurface to reclaim their old glory. The film is a technical and visual marvel but is lumbered with a leaden narrative, a wordy script and wooden dialogue. Except for Neeson and the villainous McDiarmid, the actors fail to breathe life into the characters leaving an experience that lacks emotive investment. What’s left is to marvel at the staging of the action sequences, which at times feel too heavily choreographed, and to be antagonised by Jar Jar Binks – the singularly most annoying character of the series. The finale battle is well staged and sets up the thread to be taken forward in the next two films. Re-released in 3D in 2012. Followed by STAR WARS EPISODE II: ATTACK OF THE CLONES (2002).

AAN: Best Sound (Gary Rydstrom, Tom Johnson, Shawn Murphy, John Midgley); Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing (Ben Burtt, Tom Bellfort); Best Effects, Visual Effects (John Knoll, Dennis Muren, Scott Squires, Rob Coleman)

Film Review – THE EAGLE HAS LANDED (1976)

The Eagle Has Landed (1976) | They shoot jerries, don't they?EAGLE HAS LANDED, THE (1976, UK) ***½
Adventure, Drama, War
dist. Cinema International Corporation (CIC) (UK), Columbia Pictures (USA); pr co. Associated General Films / ITC Entertainment; d. John Sturges; w. Tom Mankiewicz (based on the novel by Jack Higgins); pr. David Niven Jr., Jack Wiener; ph. Anthony B. Richmond (Colour. 35mm. Panavision (anamorphic). 2.35:1); m. Lalo Schifrin; ed. Anne V. Coates; pd. Peter Murton; ad. Charles Bishop; set d. Peter James; cos. Yvonne Blake; m/up. Eric Allwright, Paul Rabiger, Freddie Williamson, Betty Glasow, Mike Jones; sd. Jonathan Bates, Robin Gregory (Mono (35 mm prints) | 70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints) | 4-Track Stereo (some 35 mm prints) (London premiere print)); sfx. Roy Whybrow; st. Gerry Crampton; rel. 25 December 1976 (Finland/Sweden), 31 March 1977 (UK), 2 April 1977 (USA); cert: PG/15; r/t. 135m.

cast: Michael Caine (Oberst Kurt Steiner), Donald Sutherland (Liam Devlin), Robert Duvall (Colonel Radl), Jenny Agutter (Molly), Donald Pleasence (Himmler), Anthony Quayle (Admiral Canaris), Jean Marsh (Joanna Grey), Sven-Bertil Taube (Captain von Neustadt), John Standing (Father Verecker), Judy Geeson (Pamela), Treat Williams (Captain Clark), Larry Hagman (Colonel Pitts), Alexei Jawdokimov (Corporal Kuniski), Richard Wren (Hans Altmann), Michael Byrne (Karl), Joachim Hansen (SS-Obergruppenführer), Denis Lill (Churchill’s aide), Rick Parsé (E-Boat Commander), Léonie Thelen (Branna), Keith Buckley (Hauptmann Gericke).

This adaptation of Jack Higgins’ bestseller has a fanciful plot of a team of WWII German soldiers and spies out to kidnap Winston Churchill to enable Nazi Germany to bargain a stronger settlement in lieu of their inevitable defeat. That it remains entertaining throughout is largely due to its strong cast. Caine is the sympathetic German commander; Duvall the architect of the scheme and Sutherland the German-Irish spy who infiltrates the English village community. Pleasence is also excellent as the scheming Himmler. Hagman’s bombastic performance, however, is off-key as a gung-ho American commander out to prove his superior’s judgement of him wrong. The love interest between Sutherland and Agutter also feels false and the sleepy locale is at odds with the stakes at play. The battle scenes in the final third of the movie are well edited though, covering up for Sturges’ reported lack of interest in post-production. The result is an enjoyable adventure that could have been better but demonstrates the importance of interesting casting and enthusiastic performances. The US release ran for 123m. An extended cut was released on DVD with 15m additional footage.

Film Review – CARRY ON HENRY (1971)

Carry On Henry (1971) | Ian FarringtonCARRY ON HENRY (1971, UK) ***½
Comedy
dist. J. Arthur Rank Film Distributors; pr co. The Rank Organisation / Peter Rogers Productions; d. Gerald Thomas; w. Talbot Rothwell; pr. Peter Rogers; ph. Alan Hume (Colour. 35mm. Spherical. 1.85:1); m. Eric Rogers; ed. Alfred Roome; ad. Lionel Couch; cos. Courtenay Elliott; m/up. Geoffrey Rodway, Stella Rivers; sd. Ken Barker, Danny Daniel (Mono); rel. 3 June 1971 (UK), 17 March 1972 (USA); cert: PG; r/t. 89m.

cast: Sidney James (King Henry VIII), Kenneth Williams (Thomas Cromwell), Charles Hawtrey (Sir Roger de Lodgerley), Joan Sims (Queen Marie), Terry Scott (Cardinal Wolsey), Barbara Windsor (Bettina), Kenneth Connor (Lord Hampton of Wick), Julian Holloway (Sir Thomas), Peter Gilmore (King Francis of France), Julian Orchard (Duc de Poncenay), Gertan Klauber (Bidet), David Davenport (Major Domo), Margaret Nolan (Buxom Lass), William Mervyn (Physician), Norman Chappell (First Plotter), Derek Francis (Farmer), Bill Maynard (Guy Fawkes), Douglas Ridley (Second Plotter), David Prowse (Bearded Torturer), Monika Dietrich (Katherine Howard), Marjie Lawrence (Serving Maid), Patsy Rowlands (Queen), Billy Cornelius (Guard), Alan Curtis (Conte di Pisa), Leon Greene (Torturer), Peter Butterworth (Charles, Earl of Bristol (uncredited)).

Henry VIII (James) has just married Marie of Normandy (Sims) and is eager to consummate their marriage. Unfortunately for Henry, she is always eating garlic, and refuses to stop. Deciding to get rid of her in his usual manner, Henry has to find some way of doing it without provoking war with Marie’s cousin, the King of France (Gilmore). The perfect casting of James as Henry VIII and a script that has some genuinely funny one-liners alongside the usual double-entendres makes this historical farce is one of the best of the series. Sims, as Henry’s the garlic eating French wife, and Williams, as Cromwell, offer excellent support. Hawtrey also gives one of his most memorable turns as the king’s taster. Good production values through use of wardrobe from ANNE OF THE THOUSAND DAYS.

Film Review – CARRY ON ABROAD (1972)

Carry On Abroad (movie poster).jpgCARRY ON ABROAD (1972, UK) **½
Comedy
dist. J. Arthur Rank Film Distributors; pr co. The Rank Organisation / Peter Rogers Productions; d. Gerald Thomas; w. Talbot Rothwell; pr. Peter Rogers; ph. Alan Hume (Colour. 35mm. Spherical. 1.85:1); m. Eric Rogers; ed. Alfred Roome; ad. Lionel Couch; cos. Courtenay Elliott; m/up. Geoffrey Rodway, Stella Rivers; sd. Ken Barker, Taffy Haines (Mono); rel. 15 December 1972 (UK), 8 December 1973 (USA); cert: PG; r/t. 88m.

cast: Sidney James (Vic Flange), Kenneth Williams (Stuart Farquhar), Charles Hawtrey (Eustace Tuttle), Joan Sims (Cora Flange), Bernard Bresslaw (Brother Bernard), Barbara Windsor (Sadie Tomkins), Kenneth Connor (Stanley Blunt), Peter Butterworth (Pepe), Jimmy Logan (Bert Conway), June Whitfield (Evelyn Blunt), Hattie Jacques (Floella), Derek Francis (Brother Martin), Sally Geeson (Lily), Ray Brooks (Georgio), Carol Hawkins (Marge), John Clive (Robin), Jack Douglas (Harry), Patsy Rowlands (Miss Dobbs), Gail Grainger (Moira Plunkett), David Kernan (Nicholas), Amelia Bayntun (Mrs. Tuttle), Alan Curtis (Police Chief), Gertan Klauber (Postcard Seller), Brian Osborne (Stall-Holder), Hugh Futcher (Jailer), Olga Lowe (Madame Fifi).

A group of holiday-makers head for the Spanish resort of Elsbels for a 4-day visit. When they get there, they find the Hotel still hasn’t been finished being built, and the weather is awful. And there is something strange about the staff. They all look very similar. To top it all off, the weather seems to be having an adverse affect on the Hotel’s foundations. The usual array of smutty jokes and slapstick humour is trotted out as the crew embark on a disastrous packaged holiday. Strong points are James’ permanent cheerfulness and Jacques’ temperamental Spanish hotel chef. Entertaining if it catches you in the right mood, but not up with the series’ best. The last film in the series to feature regular Hawtrey.

Film Review – CARRY ON CAMPING (1969)

Carry On Camping - WikipediaCARRY ON CAMPING (1969, UK) ***
Comedy
dist. J. Arthur Rank Film Distributors; pr co. The Rank Organisation / Peter Rogers Productions; d. Gerald Thomas; w. Talbot Rothwell; pr. Peter Rogers; ph. Ernest Steward (Eastmancolor. 35mm. Spherical. 1.85:1); m. Eric Rogers; ed. Alfred Roome; ad. Lionel Couch; cos. Yvonne Caffin; m/up. Geoffrey Rodway, Stella Rivers; sd. Ken Barker, Bill Daniels (Mono); rel. 29 May 1969 (UK), 20 June 1969 (USA); cert: PG; r/t. 88m.

cast: Sidney James (Sid Boggle), Charles Hawtrey (Charlie Muggins), Joan Sims (Joan Fussey), Kenneth Williams (Doctor Kenneth Soaper), Terry Scott (Peter Potter), Barbara Windsor (Babs), Hattie Jacques (Miss Haggard), Bernard Bresslaw (Bernie Lugg), Julian Holloway (Jim Tanner), Dilys Laye (Anthea Meeks), Peter Butterworth (Josh Fiddler), Betty Marsden (Harriet Potter), Trisha Noble (Sally), Brian Oulton (Mr. Short), Derek Francis (Farmer), Elizabeth Knight (Jane), Sandra Caron (Fanny), Georgina Moon (Joy), Jennifer Pyle (Hilda), Jackie Poole (Betty), Sally Kemp (Girl with Cow), Amelia Bayntun (Mrs. Fussey), Patricia Franklin (Farmer’s Daughter), Michael Nightingale (Man in Cinema), George Moon (Scrawny Man), Valerie Shute (Pat), Vivien Lloyd (Verna), Lesley Duff (Norma), Anna Karen (Hefty Girl), Valerie Leon (Miss Dobbin).

Sid (James) and Bernie (Bresslaw) keep having their amorous intentions snubbed by their girlfriends Joan (Sims) and Anthea (Laye). The boys suggest a camping holiday, secretly intending to take them to a nudist camp. Of course, they end up in the wrong place. Packed with the usual jokes, mostly double entendre, this series entry benefits from the enthusiastic performances of its cast, which still manages to shine through, despite the late Autumn shoot and modest budget. All the regulars adopt their familiar personas and the film is great fun alternating laughs and groans. Memorable for Windsor losing her top through the morning stretch exercises and Jacques’ pursuit of Williams. Last series appearance of Laye.

Film Review – DECK THE HALLS (2006)

Deck The Halls Review | Movie - EmpireDECK THE HALLS (2006, USA) **
Comedy, Family
dist. Twentieth Century Fox; pr co. New Regency Productions (/ Corduroy Films / All Lit Up Productions; d. John Whitesell; w. Matt Corman, Chris Ord, Don Rhymer; exec pr. Jeremiah Samuels; pr. Michael Costigan, Arnon Milchan, John Whitesell; ph. Mark Irwin (DeLuxe. 35mm. Digital Intermediate (2K) (master format), Super 35 (3-perf) (source format). 1.85:1); m. George S. Clinton; m sup. Patrick Houlihan; ed. Paul Hirsch, James Start; pd. Bill Brzeski; ad. Dan Hermansen; set d. Tedd Kuchera; cos. Carol Ramsey; m/up. Lisa Love, Anji Bemben; sd. Jon Johnson (Dolby Digital | DTS); sfx. Chris Sturges; vfx. Thomas F. Ford IV, Matthew Gratzner, Bob Hurrie, Michael Joyce, Ray McIntyre Jr., David Sanger; st. Charles Croughwell, Danny Virtue; rel. 22 November 2006 (USA), 1 December 2006 (UK); cert: PG; r/t. 93m.

cast: Danny DeVito (Buddy Hall), Matthew Broderick (Steve Finch), Kristin Davis (Kelly Finch), Kristin Chenoweth (Tia Hall), Alia Shawkat (Madison Finch), Dylan Blue (Carter Finch), Kelly Aldridge (Ashley Hall), Sabrina Aldridge (Emily Hall), Jorge Garcia (Wallace), Fred Armisen (Gustave), Gillian Vigman (Gerta), Ryan Devlin (Bob Murray), Sean O’Bryan (Mayor Young), SuChin Pak (Self), Jackie Burroughs (Mrs. Ryor), Garry Chalk (Sheriff Dave), Nicola Peltz (Mackenzie), Zak Santiago (Fireworks Guy), David Lewis (Ted), Daniel Bacon (Ed).

DeVito and Broderick have it out after one of them decorates his house for the holidays so brightly that it can be seen from space. This is an often painfully unfunny and mean-spirited movie that falls flat with most of its intended gags. A threadbare script, unsubtle direction and unlikeable character performances from both male leads drag this seasonal film down. Occasional glimpses of a better movie do emerge from time to time, notably in Chenoweth’s nicely judged performance as DeVito’s wife, but these moments are dwarfed by the unsubtle and heavily manufactured tit-for-tat comedy that can look no further than trying to generate big laughs through increasingly exaggerated scenarios.

Book Review – DR. NO (1958) by Ian Fleming

DR. NO (1958) ****
by Ian Fleming
This paperback edition published by Vintage, 2012, 329pp
First published by Jonathan Cape in 1958
© Ian Fleming Publications Ltd., 1958
Introduction by Sam Bourne a.k.a Jonathan Freedland (10pp)
ISBN: 978-0-099-57692-1

Blurb: Dr Julius No is a man with a mysterious past. Nobody knows what secrets are hidden on his Caribbean island, and all those who have attempted to investigate further have disappeared. When two British agents go missing in Jamaica, Bond is sent to investigate. Battling the Doctor’s twin obsessions with power and pain, he uncovers the true nature of his opponent’s covert operation – but he must undergo a deadly assault course before he can destroy the Doctor’s plans once and for all.

Comment: This sixth novel in Fleming’s James Bond series brings the spy back from a seemingly terminal finale at the end of From Russia With Love. He is chastised by M for his choice of firearm and dispatched on a routine mission to Jamaica to investigate the disappearance of two members of the Jamaica station staff – who it is believed have taken a romantic triste. Bond soon discovers there is more to the couple’s disappearance leading him to the island of Crab Key and the sinister Doctor Julius No. It is easy to see why this book was chosen to kick off the film series. It is the most fantastical novel in the series to date and also the most thrilling in terms of set pieces – notably the extended finale where Bond is subjected to an assault course designed to test human endurance of pain. Honey Rider is a Bond girl with a backstory that makes her fiercely independent and very interesting. It is understandable that Bond falls for her. Dr, No is the archetypal Bond villain, handicapped through the loss of his hands and having to use metal pincers, and his verbal jousts with Bond over dinner set a template for future Fleming novels and the film series. The book’s exotic setting, fluent writing and slick pace make this one of the strongest in the series, despite its outlandish plot.

Film Review – BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK (1955)

52 Before 62 – # 2 Bad Day At Black Rock (1955) | The Last Blog Name On  EarthBAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK (1955, USA) ****½
Crime, Drama, Western
dist. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM); pr co. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM); d. John Sturges; w. Millard Kaufman, Don McGuire (based on a story “Bad Time at Hondo” by Howard Breslin); pr. Dore Schary; assoc pr. Herman Hoffman; ph. William C. Mellor (Eastmancolor. 35mm. CinemaScope. 2.55:1); m. André Previn; ed. Newell P. Kimlin; ad. Malcolm Brown, Cedric Gibbons; set d. Fred M. MacLean, Edwin B. Willis; m/up. John Truwe; sd. Wesley C. Miller (Mono (35mm optical prints) (Western Electric Sound System) | 4-Track Stereo (35mm magnetic prints)); rel. 13 January 1955 (USA), 17 March 1955 (UK); cert: PG; r/t. 81m.

cast: Spencer Tracy (John J. Macreedy), Robert Ryan (Reno Smith), Anne Francis (Liz Wirth), Dean Jagger (Tim Horn), Walter Brennan (Doc Velie), John Ericson (Pete Wirth), Ernest Borgnine (Coley Trimble), Lee Marvin (Hector David), Russell Collins (Mr. Hastings), Walter Sande (Sam).

John J. MacReedy (Tracy), is a one-armed stranger who comes to the tiny town of Black Rock one hot summer day in 1945, the first time the train has stopped there in years. He looks for both a hotel room and a local Japanese farmer named Komoko, but his inquiries are greeted at first with open hostility, then with blunt threats and harassment, and finally with escalating violence. MacReedy soon realizes that he will not be allowed to leave Black Rock; town boss Reno Smith (Ryan), who had Komoko killed because of his hatred of the Japanese, has also marked MacReedy for death. MacReedy must battle town thugs, a treacherous local woman (Francis), and finally Smith himself to stay alive. The film has an excellent script that creates an air of mystery and intimidation, which Sturges maximises through his economic shooting. Tracy is superb as the mysterious visitor and is supported by an excellent cast that includes Ryan as the influential rancher; Borgnine and Marvin as Ryan’s muscle; Francis as the only girl in town whose brother played by Ericson proves to be their weak link; and Brennan and Jagger as the town doctor and drunken sheriff ashamed of their past. The confrontation between Tracy and the townsfolk grows as the story plays out to its inevitable and ironic conclusion. Whilst the ending may seem a little hurried and convenient, taken as a whole, the film is a textbook example of building suspense through character and dialogue.

AAN: Best Actor in a Leading Role (Spencer Tracy); Best Director (John Sturges); Best Writing, Screenplay (Millard Kaufman).

Film Review – SMALL TIME CROOKS (2000)

Small Time Crooks (2000) - Photo Gallery - IMDbSMALL TIME CROOKS (2000, USA) ***½
Comedy, Crime
dist. DreamWorks Distribution (USA), FilmFour (UK); pr co. Dreamworks Pictures / Sweetland Films / Magnolia Productions; d. Woody Allen; w. Woody Allen; exec pr. J.E. Beaucaire; pr. Jean Doumanian, Helen Robin; ph. Fei Zhao (Technicolor. 35mm. Spherical. 1.85:1); ed. Alisa Lepselter; pd. Santo Loquasto; ad. Tom Warren; set d. Jessica Lanier; cos. Suzanne McCabe; m/up. Rosemary Zurlo, Werner Sherer; sd. Robert Hein, Gary Alper (DTS (Mono) | Dolby Digital (Mono)); sfx. John Ottesen, Ron Ottesen; rel. 19 May 2000 (USA), 1 December 2000 (UK); cert: PG; r/t. 94m.

cast: Woody Allen (Ray), Tracey Ullman (Frenchy), Hugh Grant (David), Elaine May (May), Tony Darrow (Tommy), George Grizzard (George Blint), Jon Lovitz (Benny), Michael Rapaport (Denny), Elaine Stritch (Chi Chi Potter), Steve Kroft (Steve Kroft), Brian McConnachie (Paul Milton), Kristine Nielsen (Emily Bailey), Larry Pine (Charles Bailey), Julie Lund (Linda Rhinelander), Maurice Sonnenberg (Garth Steinway), Richard Mawe (Anthony Gwynne), Frank Wood (Oliver), Howard Erskine (Langston Potter), Marvin Chatinover (Dr. Henske), Dana Tyler (TV News Reporter), Carolyn Saxon (Candy Salesperson), Sam Josepher (Real Estate Agent), Lawrence Howard Levy (Dynamite Dealer), Diane Bradley (Cookie Store Customer), Crystal Field (Cookie Store Customer), Cindy Carver (Cookie Store Customer), Ray Garvey (Cookie Store Customer), Bill Gerber (Cookie Store Customer), Olivia Hayman (Cookie Store Customer), Laurine Towler (Cookie Store Customer), Fanda Nikic (Cookie Store Customer), Brian Markinson (Cop), Riccardo Bertoni (Winklers’ Butler), Isaac Mizrahi (Winklers’ Chef), Teri Black (Winkler Party Guest), John Doumanian (Winkler Party Guest), Phyllis Burdoe (Winkler Party Guest), Karla Wolfangle (Modern Dance Performer), Rob Besserer (Modern Dance Performer), Ruth Laredo (Concert Pianist), Julie Halston (Concert Party Guest), Anthony Sinopoli (Frenchy’s Chauffeur), Jesse Levy (Church Cellist), Josephine Calabrese (Churchgoer), Cindy Wilks (Churchgoer), Trevor Moran (Churchgoer), Peter McRobbie (Frenchy’s Lawyer), Douglas McGrath (Frenchy’s Lawyer), Christine Pipgras (Potter Party Guest), Nick Garfinkle (Potter Party Guest), Kenneth Edelson (Potter Party Guest), Ira Wheeler (Potter Party Guest), William Hill (Potter Party Guest), Ramsey Faragallah (Potter’s Waiter), Scotty Bloch (Edgar’s Wife).

Dishwasher and small-fry criminal Ray (Allen) hits on a plan with his partners in crime to re-open a local pizza place and dig through to the bank down the street. As his wife (Ullman) can’t cook pizza but does great cookies, that’s what they sell. While the no-hope tunnellers get lost underground, the cookie operation really takes off and the team find themselves rich business people. But the other local money isn’t quite ready to accept them.  The first half of this movie sees Allen in top form interacting with his bumbling team of bank robbers and sparring amusingly with the excellent Ullman as his cookie baking wife. Then there is a shift in gear and theme as Allen’s tale becomes more concerned in its message that class cannot be bought or stolen. Here, Grant is brought in as an art dealer seizing on the opportunity to educate Ullman and Allen in return for them funding his business plans. May is also on hand as Ullman’s dim-witted hired help and produces a very funny performance. Whilst disjointed, with some of the characters from the first two acts disappearing in the final act, there are great comedic moments, and it is nice to see Allen looking for a change of pace with a broader approach in this film. For the most part it pays off.