A Few Things Well [A LITTLE STIFF]

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Published on 06 Sep 1991 in Featured Texts, Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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The Snake Pit

A woman (Olivia de Havilland) has a breakdown and winds up in a mental hospital in one of the first Hollywood pictures (1948) to deal seriously with the subject of insane asylums. The film was directed by Anatole Litvak, the story adapted by Frank Partos and Millen Brand from a novel by Mary Jane Ward. De Havilland didn’t win the expected Oscar for her performance (it went to Jane Wyman for her role as a deaf-mute in Johnny Belinda), but (if memory serves) this grim drama packs a punch. With Mark Stevens, Leo Genn, Celeste Holm, and Beulah Bondi. (JR)

Published on 01 Sep 1991 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll

A brilliant series of impersonations and comic monologues by Eric Bogosian, performed before a live audience (over nine nights in Boston), and directedfor the most part effectively, though rather fussilyby John McNaughton (Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer). Bogosian’s characters, all of them pretty self-absorbed, include a subway panhandler, a vain English rock star, an entertainment lawyer, a New York street tough, a spaced-out posthippie, and a millionaire in a New Jersey suburb. As pointed as these monologues are, one hopes by the end that they’ll all add up to a single statement, but they never quite do; the larger conceptual framework seems to hover in the background, slightly out of focus and never pulled into full clarity. But from moment to moment, this 1991 feature is worth anyone’s time. 96 min. (JR)

Published on 01 Sep 1991 in Featured Texts, by admin

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The Naked City

A first-rate police thriller (1948) directed by Jules Dassin when he was still in his prime and before he was blacklisted, shot memorably in New York locations. It influenced many other documentary-style thrillers of the period and even launched a TV series. With Barry Fitzgerald, Howard Duff, Dorothy Hart, and Ted de Corsia; both the cinematography (William Daniels) and editing (Paul Weatherwax) earned well-deserved Oscars. 96 min. (JR)

Published on 01 Sep 1991 in Featured Texts, by admin

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