Eddie Albert

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The Teahouse Of The August Moon Review


Good
When Marlon Brando is first encountered in The Teahouse of the August Moon, Daniel Mann's 1956 film version on John Patrick's Pulitzer Prize winning comedy of 1953, you want to fight back. Here is Brando in comic Asian stereotype mode, playing Okinawan interpreter Sakini -- Brando hunched over obsequiously, his eyes jury-rigged Oriental style and speaking in an Okinawan accent, and you think, "Brando, you should be ashamed of yourself." But then movie memory kicks in and you recall nasty and virulent racial debauches like Mickey Rooney's Mr. Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany's and Brando's downplaying doesn't look so bad after all. Although watching a tall American white guy play a short translator from Okinawa is still discomforting, at least you don't feel compelled to rise up and heave your boots through the TV.

Sakini is the audience's guide and master of ceremonies (he beckons the audience into the film by way of a direct address to the camera) in this sharp and funny comedy about American imperialism after the end of World War II. Sakini is the interpreter for the pompous American commander Colonel Purdy (played by Paul Ford, recreating his Broadway performance, a role he would later hone to perfection as the iconic Colonel Hall in Sgt. Bilko), a windbag idiot who makes declarations like, "I'm going to teach these natives the meaning of democracy if I have to shoot every one of them" (Donald Rumsfeld couldn't have said it better). Purdy orders the bumbling Captain Fisby (Glenn Ford, in a fine comic turn, channeling Charlie Ruggles) to lord it over a small Okinawan village and give the villagers a taste of benevolent American democratic dictatorship by making the villagers build a school and organize a "Ladies League For Democratic Action." Sakini goes along with him.

Continue reading: The Teahouse Of The August Moon Review

The Heartbreak Kid (1972) Review


Very Good
Long before Meet the Parents, there was The Heartbreak Kid. Genuinely funny, Kid features Charles Grodin as a hapless and sappy ex-G.I. who decides to dump his new wife -- on his honeymoon in Florida -- after falling for a young blonde played with perfect coyness by Shepherd. Genuinely funny thanks to Grodin's prodigious comic talents, though Eddie Albert nearly steals the show as Shephard's heard-it-all father. Now about that ending (or lack of one)...

The Longest Day Review


Excellent
D-Day wasn't just fought at Omaha Beach, though Hollywood may have thought so before The Longest Day. D-Day involved a cast of thousands, and it took producer Darryl Zanuck, five screenwriters, four directors, and three hours just to bring it to the big screen. In fact, Spielberg cribbed large chunks of this film verbatim for Saving Private Ryan. Ultimately, Ryan is the better picture, but The Longest Day shows you more of the story (and it's closer to reality), from the paratrooper force sent in as a diversion, to a half-dozen beach battles, to the French Resistance and how they helped. Aside from a great war tale, Day also marks what must be the only film where you can see John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Fabián, Sal Mineo, Eddie Albert, Red Buttons, Peter Lawford, and Sean Connery all fighting the same war. And on the same side, no less.

Escape To Witch Mountain Review


Good
Decades before Harry Potter wowed millions, another orphaned kid with magical powers delighted children in literature and the movies. Two of 'em, in fact. (Kids and movies, I mean.)

Watch carefully and you'll find Harry's origins written all over Escape to Witch Mountain. Young Tia and Tony (Harry Potter) find themselves orphaned and without memory of their parents. When their foster parents die, they're sent to an orphanage, where an evil capitalist named Deranian (Voldemort) tries to subvert their budding magical powers -- levitation, telepathy, animal communication, and more -- for his own whims. They escape and head for the mythical Witch Mountain (Hogwarts), where they're sure they'll be accepted. They get there thanks to an old map (lightning bolt scar) that Tia has, reminding her of her past. Helping them along the way is a crotchety but folksy camper (Hagrid) and a pet cat (owl), not to mention various other obstacles and helping hands -- including a magic harmonica (wand).

Continue reading: Escape To Witch Mountain Review

The Heartbreak Kid Review


Very Good
Long before Meet the Parents, there was The Heartbreak Kid. Genuinely funny, Kid features Charles Grodin as a hapless and sappy ex-G.I. who decides to dump his new wife -- on his honeymoon in Florida -- after falling for a young blonde played with perfect coyness by Shepherd. Genuinely funny thanks to Grodin's prodigious comic talents, though Eddie Albert nearly steals the show as Shephard's heard-it-all father. Now about that ending (or lack of one)...

Carrie (1952) Review


Very Good
The people at the video store hadn't heard of this movie, naturally confusing it with Brian De Palma's hyperkinetic horror classic Carrie. They should know better. William Wyler's 1952 film is an intense, visual retelling of Theodore Dreiser's first novel Sister Carrie, a sprawling story of a "kept woman" in turn-of -the-century America and how she rises from shy country girl to big-city diva in spite of, or because of, what was then called "moral transgressions." Considered controversial, if not indecent, when Dreiser wrote it in 1900, its publication was delayed for over a decade.

Wyler (who died in 1981) was a master of hybrid movie-making, transforming one masterpiece novel and one serious play after another, into stylized, highly cinematic pictures that made audiences forget they were watching adaptations. His Wuthering Heights may not be true Bronte, but audiences in 1939 cried over Heathcliff and Kathy as if they were Romeo and Juliet; in These Three, he fashioned Lillian Hellman's play The Children's Hour in ways that made a lesbian couple acceptable on screen in 1936; and any one who's seen The Heiress, his version of Washington Square by Henry James, will never forget Olivia de Havilland's haunting portrayal of the lonely, angry, ugly-duckling daughter of a rich and powerful physician. Then there's always Ben-Hur.

Continue reading: Carrie (1952) Review

Roman Holiday Review


Extraordinary
One can't help but wonder how Roman Holiday would have been different is it was made today instead of in 1953 (Mr. Deeds aped Holiday more closely than its ostensible source material). The Gregory Peck-Audrey Hepburn classic features a reporter in Rome (Peck) and an incognito princess (Hepburn) -- with both pretending they're someone else. Of course, he knows she's playing hooky from her royal family and he's out to write the story of a lifetime (with photographer pal Eddie Albert in a priceless role). She on the other hand is oblivious to what's going on. She wants to have a little fun outside the watchful eyes of her keepers. Of course they fall in love along the way.

Roman Holiday is one of the most beloved of both Hepburn's and Peck's films, a lovely little romance, full of fun and playfulness, stellar performances (Hepburn won an Oscar and Albert was nominated), and all set against the beauty of Rome. Many of its scenes are nothing short of priceless: the ad-libbed moment when Peck sticks his hand into the mouth of a statue and pretends it's been bitten off (sending Hepburn into hysterics) is absolutely unforgettable.

Continue reading: Roman Holiday Review

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Roman Holiday Movie Review

Roman Holiday Movie Review

One can't help but wonder how Roman Holiday would have been different is it was...

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