Archive for October 6th, 2008

On the 100th anniversary of her birth, one has to round off proceedings today with a review of her last and greatest film…

by Allan Fish

(USA 1942 99m) DVD1/2 (France only)

A laugh is nothing to be sneezed at

p  Alexander Korda, Ernst Lubitsch  d  Ernst Lubitsch  w  Edwin Justus Meyer  story  Ernst Lubitsch, Melchior Lengyel  ph  Rudolph Maté  ed  Dorothy Spencer  m  Werner Heymann, Miklós Rózsa  art  Vincent Korda

Jack Benny (Joseph Tura), Carole Lombard (Maria Tura), Robert Stack (Lt.Stanislav Sobinski), Stanley Ridges (Prof.Alexander Siletski), Felix Bressart (Greenberg), Sig Ruman (Col.Erhardt), Tom Dugan (Bronski), Lionel Atwill (Rawitch), Charles Halton (Dobosh), Henry Victor (Capt.Schultz), Maude Eburne (Anna),

Ernst Lubitsch’s satirical swipe at Hitler was accused of bad taste at the time of its release, and one can perhaps understand why.  What isn’t quite so easy to comprehend is why certain critics didn’t see the propaganda value in making your enemy look ridiculous.  And this is exactly what they do with Herr Hitler in this truly wonderful laugh riot.  From the opening blast of Chopin over the credits to the final running gag reducing the leading actor to shock in more ways than one, Lubitsch doesn’t take a false step.  It was all the more welcome a sight considering his previous film was that awful second collaboration with Garbo Two-Faced Woman that saw her retire and Lubitsch leave MGM.  In wartime exile Alexander Korda he had the perfect partner in crime, but no-one, not even Lubitsch, could have expected it to turn out quite so good.  Mel Brooks, who directed the 1983 remake, should hang his head in shame.  (more…)

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by Sam Juliano

Me on the way to the Ziegfeld

Me on the way to the Ziegfeld

The New York Film Festival’s centerpiece work, Clint Eastwood’s Changeling, was screened at the Ziegfeld on Sunday morning at 11:15 A.M. after an introduction by Entertainment Weekly film critic Lisa Scwartzbaum, who provided a brief explanation of the film’s basic premise.  At the conclusion of the two hour and twenty minute feature, a film that on the surface manages a number of cheaply-earned tears, you feel guilty that you allowed yourself to be wrapped up in a story with some built-in emotional hooks, yet are at least grateful for the craftsmanship that allowed the film to be as engrossing as it is.  It’s not quite a guilty pleasure (it’s clearly better than that) but it points to an inherent failure by Mr. Eastwood in allowing a potentially fascinating character become in large measure a vessel for overstated emotional harangues.  This character, a drop-dead gorgeous and stylishly-dressed woman, Christine Collins, played by Angelina Jolie is never examined with the kind of complexity and moral depth that may well have made Changeling a provocative and searing drama.  Instead we are engrossed by the film’s tear-inducing histrionics and simple condemnations of social-political agencies that make the film an inferior blend of Curtis Hanson’s L. A. Confidential and Milos Foreman’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.  Surely, the celebrated corruption and moral malfeasance of the Los Angeles police department has never received such anger-inducing damnation, nor chilling indictment of wholesale corruption. (more…)

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