The Loved One

Admittedly, this 1965 adaptation of the Evelyn Waugh satire about American burial habits in general, LA’s Forest Lawn in particular, isn’t all that it could or perhaps even should have been. Still, considering the unpromising credits (Tony Richardson directing in black-and-white ‘Scope, snaggle-toothed Robert Morse as the lead) it could have been worse, and there are diverse compensations along the way (including parts by Liberace, Jonathan Winters, Milton Berle, Tab Hunter, Robert Morley, John Gielgud, and Lionel Stander). Haskell Wexler shot it, Terry Southern and Christopher Isherwood adapted it, and there’s all the bad taste one would ever want to see crowded into one work on the subject. Others in the cast include Rod Steiger, Anjanette Comer, Dana Andrews, James Coburn, Margaret Leighton, and Roddy McDowall. (JR)

Published on 31 Dec 1995 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Sudden Death

It’s the seventh game of the Stanley Cup finals, a meanie holds the vice president of the United States hostage while 17,000 fans sit in an arena that’s been wired to explode, and it’s fire marshal Jean-Claude Van Damme to the rescue. Badly conceived, written (by Gene Quintano), acted, and directed (by Peter Hyams), with some terrible process shots (though excellent purple marks on Van Damme’s face to suggest bruises), this mechanical suspense thriller only springs to life during its gruesomely violent fight scenes, some of which are staged with props as if they were musical numbers. With Powers Boothe, Raymond J. Barry, and Whittni Wright. (JR)

Published on 19 Dec 1995 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Dracula: Dead And Loving It

Either this is the lamest Mel Brooks comedy ever or it’s too close to other contenders to make much difference. A major liability is straight-hunk-turned-aging-lampoon-hero Leslie Nielsen as the count, if only because double Bruce Barbour seems to get almost as much screen time as Nielsen himself, which leads to a lot of choppy continuity. The set decoration has a certain charm, and so does Brooks’s uninhibited silliness, but, you should excuse the expression, most of the gags are strictly from hunger. Written by Brooks, Rudy De Luca, and Steve Haberman; with Peter MacNicol, Steven Weber, Amy Yasbeck, Lysette Anthony, Harvey Korman, and Brooks. (JR)

Published on 19 Dec 1995 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Cry, The Beloved Country

It’s been too many years since I’ve seen Zoltan Korda’s celebrated 1951 film with Sidney Poitier and Canada Lee for me to offer a detailed comparison of that adaptation of the Alan Paton novel with this new version. Set in South Africa in the 1940s, the film deals with the crisis of a black pastor (James Earl Jones) whose estranged son has killed the son of a wealthy white landowner (Richard Harris). Directed by Darrell Roodt from a screenplay by Ron Harwood, this has a strong sense of dignity about its characters, and Jones and Harris are both effective. Whether it deserves to replace the Korda version is another matter. With Dambisa Kente, Eric Miyeni, and Vusi Kunene. (JR)

Published on 18 Dec 1995 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Waiting To Exhale

Given such an entertaining castWhitney Houston, Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine, Lela Rochon, and Gregory Hines for startersone might have thought this adaptation by Terry McMillan (working with Ronald Bass) of her best-selling novel about four black women friends living in the southwest to be foolproof. Alas, the direction of Forest Whitaker, despite his considerable gifts as an actor, combined with the poorly structured script, makes the film sluggish and poorly paced. Bring along your lunch. With Dennis Haysbert, Mykelti Williamson, Leon, Michael Beach, Wendell Pierce, and Donald Adeosun Faison. (JR)

Published on 18 Dec 1995 in Featured Texts, by admin

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