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Lawrence of Arabia
21 months ago via Flixster

During production,no one knew that this would be a bold or mad act of genius it would be to make Lawrence of Arabia,or even think that it could be made. In the words years later of one of it's stars,Omar Sharif: "If you are the man with the money and somebody comes to you and says he wants to make a film that's four hours long,with no stars,and no women,and no love story,and not much action either,and he wants to spend a huge amount of money to go film it in the desert-what would you say?" The impulse to make this movie was based,above all,on imagination. The story of Lawrence is not founded on violent battle scenes or cheap melodrama but on David Lean's ability to imagine what it would look like to see a spec appear on the horizon of the desert and slowly grow into a human being. There are severa moments in the film when the hero,the British eccentric soldier and author T.E. Lawrence has survived a suicidal trek across the desert and is within reach of shelter and water-and he turns around and goes back,to find a friend who has fallen behind. This sequence builds up to the shot in which the shimmering heat of the desert reluctantly yields the speck that becomes a man-a shot that is held for a long time. That is just the first of several scenes that stand out which includes the spectacular battle sequences and in the moment where Peter O'Toole's character does a victory dance on top of a Turkish train. For a movie that runs 216 minutes,plus intermission is one of cinema's great masterpieces and for it's 50th Anniversary it still stands throughout the test of time(originally the running time stands at 227 minutes which was the roadshow version complete with full entrance overture and intermission and exit music). When it came out in 1962,it became the highest grossing film in the history of Columbia Pictures,not to mentioning becoming the highest grossing picture that year. Nominated for an impressive 12 Oscars,it was victorious in winning 7 including the Best Picture of 1962. Lawrence of Arabia might have been lost forever if it hadn't been for the film's restorers Robert A. Harris and Jim Painten They discovered the original negative in Columbia's vaults,inside crushed,and rusting film cans,and also was missing about thirty-five minutes of footage that had been trimmed by distributors final Lean's final cut(when in the 1971 re-release was completely butchered). They painstakenly put it together again,sometimes by one crumbling frame at a time. But to see this in a movie theater is to basically appreciate the subtlety of Freddie Young's Oscar winning cinematography. Lawrence of Arabia was one of the last films to be actually photographed in 70mm(Super Panavision 70),and to see this in it's restored Technicolor format after it's glorious re-release in 1989 and to experienced this in full 6-channel Dobly Stereo Sound is something every filmgoer can appreciate. Lawrence of Arabia made Peter O'Toole an international icon and a major bonafide star along with Omar Sharif(who would go on to star in another David Lean epic "Doctor Zhivago" three years later). The cast itself is astounding ranging from Alec Guinness,Anthony Quinn,Claude Rains,Arthur Kennedy,Jack Hawkins,Anthony Quayle and Jose Ferrer. Please avoid the cable TV versions and it is worth seeing in a huge movie theater with 70mm projection.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
22 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Jack Nicholson in his grandest form. "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" from 1975 is one of the greatest American films of all time that represented the apex of what was the essence of 1970's cinema. A $4.4 million dollar effort directed by Czech Milos Forman. It's allegorical theme is in the world of an authentic mental hospital during the early-1960's(Oregon State Hospital in Salem,Oregon) a place of rebellion exhibited by a energetic,flamboyant,wise-guy anti-hero against the establishment,institutional authority and status-quo attitudes(personified by the patients' supervisory nurse). Expressing his basic human rights and impulses,the protagonist protests against the heavy-handed rules about watching World Series,and illegally stages both a fishing trip and a drinking party in the ward-leading to his own paralyzing lobotomy. Jack Nicholson's acting persona as the heroic rebel McMurphy,who lives free or dies(through an act of mercy killing),had been earlier been set with his breakthrough performances in "Easy Rider"(1969), and "Five Easy Pieces", not to mention "Chinatown"(1974). The mid-1970's baby-boomers counter culture was ripe for a motion picture dramatizing rebellion and insubordination against oppressive bureaucracy and an insistence upon rights,self-expression,and freedom. The role of the sexually-repressed,domineering Nurse Ratched was turned down by six actresses-among them were Faye Dunaway, Anne Bancroft, Colleen Dewhurst, Geraldine Page, Ellen Burstyn, and Angela Lansbury-until Louise Fletcher accepted casting(in her debut film)only a week before filming began. Several actors including Al Pacino and even James Caan were originally offered the lead role of McMurphy,and Marlon Brando and Gene Hackman were considered as well. The lead role went to Jack Nicholson. The entire film was shot in sequence,except for the fishing scene(which was shot last). Opening on November 19,1975 in only four theaters and expanded into more cities the following week, "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" surprised everyone by becoming enormously profitable-becoming the seventh highest-grossing film of 1975 ranking in on its opening weekend $99,761 and expanding into more cinemas by December 7, 1975 bringing in $87,238 having a domestic total gross of $108 million and bringing in almost $300 million worldwide. The independently produced film also made motion picture history by sweeping the Oscars; it made history in 1975 to become the first film to take all the major awards including Best Picture, Best Director(Milos Forman), Best Actor(Jack Nicholson with his first win after losing the previous year for "Chinatown" in 1974), Best Actress(Louise Fletcher in her first win), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor (Brad Dourif), Best Cinematopgraphy(Bill Butler and Haskell Wexler), It was nominated for Nine Academy Awards in total being victorious in winning five including Best Picture. Jack Nicholson's historic win beat out some strong competition which included Al Pacino(Dog Day Afternoon); Ryan O' Neal(Barry Lyndon), Roy Scheider(Jaws),and Kris Kristofferson(Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea). "Cuckoo's Nest" also beat out some tough competition for Best Picture by Robert Altman's "Nashville", Stanley Kubrick's "Barry Lyndon", Sidney Lumet's "Dog Day Afternoon",and Steven Spielburg's "Jaws"(which went on to break historic boxoffice records by becoming the Number One top grossing picture of 1975). "Cuckoo's Nest" became the second motion picture to win all five major awards following 1934's "It Happened One Night" which was an accomplishment not repeated until 1991's "The Silence of the Lambs"(also won all five major awards but also became the first horror movie in motion picture history to win the Oscar in 1991 for Best Picture). The film is Number 33 on the American Film Institute's list of the 100 Greatest Movies Ever Made,and was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. "Cuckoo's Nest" also swept the Golden Globes winning six in all including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay(Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman who also won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay based on Ken Kesey's best selling novel is based on Kesey characters that were from real-life psychiatric ward patients at a VA Hospital in Menlo Park California where he once worked during the late-1950's). The novel on which it was based originally was dramatized on Broadway(an adapted play by Dale Wasserman) beginning in 1963 with actor Kirk Douglas starring in the lead role as McMurphy and Gene Wilder as stuttering Billy Bibbit. Kirk Douglas bought the rights to the novel,but couldn't convince film studios to produce(studios from 20th Century-Fox to Universal rejected it before United Artists inquire interest). Many years after its short theatrical run,Douglas transferred the rights to his son, actor/writer/producer Michael Douglas,who co-produced the United Artists film with Saul Zaentz. Michael Douglas had considered playing the starring role,but by the time of the film's production, he judged himself too old. Interesting points about this film.....the movie was a stepping stone for up and coming actors who would carve there own careers in Hollywood with the debut of actors Danny DeVito and Christopher Lloyd in supporting roles. Even after some 41 years later the film is a prime and brilliant example of a society that will not bow down to authority and will take any chances necessary to stand his own ground in an institution that refuses to stand for what is right....This was the example of great 1970's cinema.

Aliens (1986)
22 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Director James Cameron's 1986 blockbuster follow-up to Ridley Scott's Oscar winning science-fiction/horror flick that became one of the biggest grossing films of 1979 asks a good question to a successful hit.....How do you make a successful sequel to a film in which much of the suspense comes from learning about the mysterious monster? The Answer? Make a lot of scary monsters,and this time around have our heroine armed to the teeth with an array of weapons ready to take them on and face an all out war against them including the "Mother" of all aliens!
"This time,its war,"was the tagline and Aliens went on to become one of the biggest blockbuster films of 1986 and not to mention ending up being nominated for Seven Oscars including a Best Actress nomination for Sigourney Weaver and winning two Oscars for Sound Effects Editing and Special Visual Effects. Filled with quotable lines("They mostly come at night.....mostly),and great character performances including scenes of wall to wall action galore and the ultimate showdown with the heroine and the Mother that brought audiences to there feet when "Aliens" became the runaway hit of 1986. "Aliens" cemented Sigourney Weaver's place as an female action star as well as a boxoffice magnet-draw while it also gave James Cameron a stepping stone as one of the most innovative filmmakers of the 1980's,a position he's managed to hold well into the new millennium considering giving ALIENS not one of the best films of the 1980's,but opened up a new genre in the science fiction/action-adventure genre ...a title that holds up well 30 years later. ALIENS opened in 1,437 theaters nationwide on July 18,1986 and it went to an opening gross of $6.9 million and a opening weekend gross of $10 million. It was the Number One movie at the box-office for four consecutive weeks grossing more than $85.1 million becoming the seventh highest grossing film of 1986 taking in an astounding $180 million at the boxoffice to become the highest grossing "R" rated movie of all time. Even 30 years later it still packs a visceral punch.

Shaft (1971)
22 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Who's The Man! Commemorating the original SHAFT movie on it's 45th anniversary....Director Gordon Parks' follow-up to his 1969 debut "The Learning Tree" was a stone gritty crime thriller that launched the "blaxploitation" movement and opened doors for other dynamic African-American screen heroes of the 1970's that became the launching pad for Fred Williamson, Jim Brown, Pam Grier, Tamara Dobson and more. In some ways the motion picture SHAFT was blaxploitation cinema at its best that was phenomenol beyond belief when this came out in 1971. SHAFT was indeed a simple story with a timely take on the standard private detective formula. Here is a private detective who answers to no one, makes up his own rules,intelligent, fast to act when the situation calls for it with his gun and his fists--always direct and true to himself and he is nobody's "boy". SHAFT when it came out in 1971 broke racial barriers where in motion picture history audiences got to see a strong black man in a truly heroic role without the props of a white liberal social blather,and without being a borderline criminal. He is an African-American reference that is part Robert Mitchum, part Humphrey Bogart, part James Bond, part Steve McQueen and part Clint Eastwood. With a electrifying and riveting screenplay by Ernest Tidyman(based on his novels of John Shaft),the stunning debut of actor Richard Roundtree not to mention one of the great opening musical themes in motion picture history from the legendary Issac Hayes(who won the Oscar for Best Original Score for a Motion Picture)...SHAFT was a huge runaway boxoffice hit when it came out during the Independence Day weekend of 1971 (Released on July 3, 1971). The film was a enormous success--one of only three profitable movies that year for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. On a budget of $1.1 million the film did astounding business during its Independence Day opening in 1971 grossing $13 million at the boxoffice in the USA, taking in $7,100,000 in North American rentals and taking in an estimated $23 million worldwide. It earned another $7,656,000 in North American rentals in 1976 when it was re-released back in theaters by MGM. The success of SHAFT spawned two sequels("Shaft's Big Score" in 1972 and "Shaft In Africa" in 1973) in which both films were nowhere as successful as the original. SHAFT also had a short-lived television series not to mention John Singleton's 2000 remake of the same title with Samuel L. Jackson in the title role where Richard Roundtree made a cameo appearance. The overall success of SHAFT in 1971 was a milestone in African-American cinema when it came during the extreme social unrest in America not to mention the escalating matters of the Vietnam War where you have an African-American hero standing up and fighting for what's right by using his private detective status and his ethnicity to bring down the Mafia and other criminal lowlifes in order to risk his neck for his "brother man". Roundtree's performance carries the film throughout with non-stop thrills and some impressive action packed scenes that were the basis of what was to come in "black action cinema" throughout the decade of the 1970's . SHAFT even after 45 years continues to stand tall for many generations to come. rayman007@hotmail.com

Fantastic Voyage
22 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

The overall premise of "Fantastic Voyage" seemed very unlikely in 1966,but even in 2016, nearly 50 years later it still entertains. Based on Issac Asimov's classic science fiction novel of the same title, the movie "Fantastic Voyage" follows a surgical team of scientists lead by Dr. Peter Duval,the top brain surgeon in the country(Arthur Kennedy); Cora Peterson, his technical assistant(Raquel Welch); Dr. Michaels, chief of the medical mission(Donald Pleasance), the commander of captain of operations(William Redfield),and Grant(Stephen Boyd) the security agent for security purposes and the head of operations for this mission Colonel Reid(Edmund O' Brien).. The sealed vessel "The Proteus" is reduced down to microscopic size and it's crew through a secret organizational branch known as the "CMDF"(Combined Miniature Defense Force or Combined Miniature Deterrent Forces) and are injected into the artery of a defecting Russian scientist who has suffered a brain injury and is in a coma from an assassination attempt on his life...The CMDF's Mission....to navigate inside the body of the scientist to get to the brain(within exactly 60 minutes) where Dr. Duval and the team of the "Proteus" will attempt to dissolve to coagulum with a laser beam and get back to the center of the patient's body before everything starts growing back to its original size.
Released in theatres on August 24,1966, "Fantastic Voyage" was not only a film of authentic wonder but a science fiction masterpiece with amazing special effects....the team enters the body of a man where they see first hand the oceans of life within the human body that contains the "corpuscles", "the heart", "the lungs" and other features of the human body through which the crew move through are exquisitely designed in great detail with artistic quality. The film's plot creates unceasing amounts of sheer terror and breathtaking suspense as the ship and its crew face realistic and unknown dangers when it is continually threatened by the scientist's natural defenses while dealing with the antibodies and other factors. While the actors give superb performances the real star of "Fantastic Voyage" are the breathtaking and phenomenol special effects that were unheard of and astounding when audiences went to see this back in 1966. Filmed long before today's computerized digital effects, the film is unbelievable...the illusion of a team of dedicated scientists being reduced in microscopic size while being injected into the bloodstream of a dying man. To really truly appreciate this classic movie it is best to see this in the "widescreen" format (Originally filmed in widescreen Cinemascope and Breathtaking Color). "Fantastic Voyage" was a runaway boxoffice hit that was made of a budget of $5.1 million the film took in an estimated $12 million at the North American boxoffice in 1966 and went on to make $4,500,000 in North American Rentals(20th Century-Fox re-release this movie in 1967 and 1970). Nominated for Four Oscars it won Two Oscars for Best Art Direction,and Best Special Visual Effects. Oscar nominated for Color Cinematopgraphy, Editing, and Special Sound Effects,and Original Music Score(Leonard Rosenman). After more than 50 years after its original theatrical release "Fantastic Voyage" has stood the test of time and has held up very well with the impressive and unbelievable special effects. Good intelligent and suspenseful science fiction at its highest order. 50 years later. rayman007@hotmail.com