Film Review – YOU’VE GOT MAIL (1998)

Image result for you've got mail 1998You’ve Got Mail (1998; USA; Technicolor; 119m) ***½ d. Nora Ephron; w. Nora Ephron, Delia Ephron; ph. John Lindley; m. George Fenton.  Cast: Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, Parker Posey, Jean Stapleton, Steve Zahn, Dave Chappelle, Greg Kinnear, Dabney Coleman, Jeffrey Scaperrotta, John Randolph, Heather Burns, Hallee Hirsh, Cara Seymour, Katie Finneran, Michael Badalucco. Two business rivals hate each other at the office but fall in love over the internet. Hanks and Ryan replicate their SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE routine in this amiable romantic comedy. Their on-screen chemistry adds significantly to the predictability of the story. Whilst much of the scenario is overly contrived it maintains a warmth and a sprinkling of satire that proves enough to win through. Based on the play “Parfumerie” by Nikolaus Laszlo previously filmed as THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER (1940). [PG]

Film Review – CIRCUS WORLD (1964)

Image result for circus world 1964Circus World (1964; USA; Technicolor; 135m) ***  d. Henry Hathaway; w. Ben Hecht, Julian Halevy, James Edward Grant, Philip Yordan, Nicholas Ray; ph. Jack Hildyard; m. Dimitri Tiomkin.  Cast: John Wayne, Rita Hayworth, Claudia Cardinale, John Smith, Lloyd Nolan, Richard Conte, Wanda Rotha, Kay Walsh. A circus owner is beset by disasters as he attempts a European tour of his circus. At the same time, he is caught in an emotional bind between his adopted daughter and her mother. Spectacular circus action makes up for lack of plot and two-dimensional characters. High production values and an exciting finale built around a devastating fire are also pluses. Wayne and Nolan give strong performances, but the rest of the cast are swamped by a script that gives them little to get their teeth into. Aka: THE MAGNIFICENT SHOWMAN. [U]

Film Review – OPERATION PACIFIC (1951)

Image result for operation pacific 1951Operation Pacific (1951; USA; B&W; 111m) ***½  d. George Waggner; w. George Waggner; ph. Bert Glennon; m. Alan Crosland Jr.  Cast: John Wayne, Patricia Neal, Ward Bond, Scott Forbes, Martin Milner, Philip Carey, Milburn Stone, Paul Picerni, William Campbell, Kathryn Givney, Cliff Clark, Jack Pennick, Virginia Brissac, Lewis Martin, Sam Edwards. During WWII, a submarine’s second in command inherits the problem of torpedoes that don’t explode. When on shore, he is eager to win back his ex-wife. Well-made war film combines tense battle scenes with standard romantic interludes. The submarine action is well-staged allowing Wayne moments of heroics. The scenes on land are more formulaic as Neal and Wayne try to figure out their future. A colourised version was released on video. [PG]

Film Review – ANGEL AND THE BADMAN (1947)

Image result for angel and the badman 1947Angel and the Badman (1947; USA; B&W; 100m) ***  d. James Edward Grant; w. James Edward Grant; ph. Archie Stout; m. Richard Hageman.  Cast: John Wayne, Gail Russell, Harry Carey, Bruce Cabot, Irene Rich, Lee Dixon, Stephen Grant, Tom Powers, Paul Hurst, Olin Howland. An outlaw is nursed back to health and sought after by a quaker girl. Entertaining morality tale delivers a tight, well-scripted, if fairly simplistic, story. Wayne is a confident lead and Russell is appealing as the girl who becomes his saviour. Carey, as a Marshal out to get Wayne, is wonderfully droll. Some may balk at the sermonising, but the approach is actually well-balanced. Partly shot in Monument Valley. First film produced by Wayne. Inspiration for WITNESS (1985). Remade for TV in 2009. [U]

Film Review – THE FIGHTING SEABEES (1944)

Image result for the fighting seabees 1944Fighting Seabees, The (1944; USA; B&W; 100m) ***½  d. Edward Ludwig; w. Borden Chase, Æneas MacKenzie; ph. William Bradford; m. Walter Scharf.  Cast: John Wayne, Susan Hayward, Dennis O’Keefe, William Frawley, William Forrest, Leonid Kinskey, J.M. Kerrigan, Grant Withers, Paul Fix, Addison Richards, Roy Brent, Jay Norris, Duncan Renaldo, Roy Barcroft, Charles D. Brown. Construction workers in World War II in the Pacific are needed to build military sites, but the work is dangerous and they doubt the ability of the Navy to protect them. Action-packed WW2 drama tells the story of the creation of the Construction Batallion known as the “Seabees”. Wayne is hot-headed head of construction whose methods are at odds with navy commander O’Keefe whilst both fight for the attentions of journalist Hayward. Jingoistic and full of macho banter, it nevertheless is propelled via well-handled battle scenes and strong cast. Also available in a computer colourised version. [U]

Film Review – “CROCODILE” DUNDEE (1986)

Image result for crocodile dundee dvd“Crocodile” Dundee (1986; Australia/USA; DuArt; 97m) ***½  d. Peter Faiman; w. John Cornell, Paul Hogan, Ken Shadie; ph. Russell Boyd; m. Peter Best.  Cast: Paul Hogan, Linda Kozlowski, Mark Blum, John Meillon, Michael Lombard, David Gulpilil, Irving Metzman, Reginald VelJohnson. An American reporter goes to the Australian outback to meet an eccentric crocodile poacher and invites him to New York City. Hogan’s commentary on culture clashes is delightfully funny. The charm of the leads is enough to carry a formulaic plot and there is much fun to be derived from seeing Hogan’s “Crocodile” Dundee cope with multi-layered city life – from the trappings of the rich to the sleaze of street life. Finale is rushed, but a sequel was pretty much guaranteed. Followed by CROCODILE DUNDEE II (1988) and CROCODILE DUNDEE IN LOS ANGELES (2001). [15]

Film Review – TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT (1944)

Image result for to have and have not 1944To Have and Have Not (1944; USA; B&W; 100m) ****½  d. Howard Hawks; w. Jules Furthman, William Faulkner; ph. Sid Hickox; m. Franz Waxman.  Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Walter Brennan, Lauren Bacall, Dolores Moran, Hoagy Carmichael, Sheldon Leonard, Walter Szurovy, Marcel Dalio, Walter Sande, Dan Seymour, Aldo Nadi. During World War II, an American expatriate helps transport a French Resistance leader and his beautiful wife to Martinique while romancing a sexy lounge singer. Hawks worked with themes that sustained him throughout his career and many of his signature moments are on display here. The chemistry between Bogart and Bacall nearly melts the screen and their dialogue is wonderful. The plot mirrors some of the themes seen in Bogart’s earlier classic CASABLANCA and this comes very close to repeating the earlier film’s success. Filled with excellent character performances from a strong supporting cast and finding room for a handful of musical numbers, this is entertainment of the highest order. Based on the novel by Ernest Hemingway. Legendarily, Hawks bragged to Hemingway that he could take the worst of his novels, and make a good film of it. He did this by disregarding the novel’s contents. [PG]

Film Review – CASABLANCA (1942)

Image result for casablanca blu-rayCasablanca (1942; USA; B&W; 102m) *****  d. Michael Curtiz; w. Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein, Howard Koch; ph. Arthur Edeson; m. Max Steiner.  Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, S.Z. Sakall, Madeleine LeBeau, Dooley Wilson, Joy Page, John Qualen, Leonid Kinskey. Set in unoccupied Africa during the early days of World War II: An American expatriate meets a former lover, with unforeseen complications. All-time classic is memorable for so many things. The performances are note perfect, with Bogart at his absolute best as café owner Rick and Bergman superbly conveying her torn emotions as his lost love Ilsa. The screenplay is packed full of quotable dialogue. Steiner’s score is dramatic, romantic and contains the immortal “As Time Goes By” sung at the piano by Wilson. Edeson’s photography captures the smoke-filled atmosphere and chaos of the unoccupied French territory. It is all blended with Curtiz’s direction to become one of the finest achievements of American cinema. Triple Oscar winner, for Best Picture, Director and Screenplay. Based on the play by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison. Developed as a TV series in 1955 and again in 1983. [U]

Film Review – PASSENGERS (2016)

Image result for passengers 2016 blu-ray ukPassengers (2016; USA; Colour; 116m) **½ d. Morten Tyldum; w. Jon Spaihts; ph. Rodrigo Prieto; m. Thomas Newman.  Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Michael Sheen, Laurence Fishburne, Andy Garcia, Inder Kumar, Jamie Soricelli, Vince Foster, Julee Cerda, Robert Larriviere, Barbara Jones. A spacecraft traveling to a distant colony planet and transporting thousands of people has a malfunction in its sleep chambers. As a result, two passengers are awakened 90 years early. Visually impressive sci-fi thriller/love story pushes all the familiar buttons through its highly contrived plot, which often defies logic. Pratt and Lawrence are appealing enough, but both the romance and the thrills are strictly by the numbers. Also shot in 3-D. [12]

Film Review – BRIDGET JONES’ BABY (2016)

The main character holding a tabletBridget Jones’ Baby (2016; UK/Ireland/France/ USA; Colour; 123m) ∗∗∗½  d. Sharon Maguire; w. Emma Thompson, Helen Fielding, Dan Mazer; ph. Andrew Dunn; m. Craig Armstrong.  Cast: Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, Patrick Dempsey, Gemma Jones, Jim Broadbent, Neil Pearson, Emma Thompson, Shirley Henderson, Sarah Solemani, James Callis, Celia Imrie, Sally Phillips, Nick Mohammed, Joseph Harmon, Jill Buchanan, Attila G. Kerekes, Shonn Gregory, Perry Burke, Billy Totham, Mark Bowsher. The continuing adventures of British publishing executive Bridget Jones (Zellweger) as she enters her 40s, becomes pregnant and is unsure on whether Firth or Dempsey is the father. Belated third instalment continues the formula of the first two and coasts on Zellweger’s considerable charm. Some witty lines along the way make this an enjoyable; if familiar, addition. Thompson is good as a maternity doctor and also contributed to the script. [15]