Dennis Schwartz'
Short Reviews 
'G'  24

 


 



GANGSTER, THE (director: Gordon Wiles; screenwriter: Daniel Fuchs/from the book Low Company by Mr. Fuchs/Dalton Trumbo-uncredited; cinematographer: Paul Ivano; editor: Walter Thompson; music: Louis Gruenberg; cast: Gordon Wiles; cast: Barry Sullivan (Shubunka), Belita (Nancy Starr), Joan Lorring (Dorothy), Akim Tamiroff (Nick Jammey), Henry Morgan (Shorty), John Ireland (Karty), Sheldon Leonard (Cornell), Shelley Winters (Hazel); Runtime: 84; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Frank King/Maurice King; Monogram; 1947)

A gangster rival of Sullivan's is trying to muscle into his racket. Sullivan plays a confused gangster, searching for respectablity. Excellent performances are what rules in this arty gangster film. GRADE: B-



GARMENT JUNGLE, THE (director: Vincent Sherman; screenwriters: from a series of articles "Gangsters In the Dress Business" by Lester
 Velie/Harry Kleiner; cinematographer: Joseph Biroc; editor: William Lyon; music: Leith Stevens; cast: Lee J. Cobb (Walter Mitchell), Kerwin
 Mathews (Alan Mitchell), Gia Scala (Theresa Renata), Richard Boone (Artie Ravidge), Robert Loggia (Tulio Renata), Valerie French (Lee
 Hackett), Joseph Wiseman (Kovan), Adam Williams (The Ox), Harold J. Stone (Tony), Wesley Addy (Mr. Paul), Willis B. Bouchey (Dave
 Bronson), Robert Ellenstein (Fred Kenner), Celia Lovskv (Tulio's mother); Runtime: 88; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Harry Kleiner; Columbia
 Pictures; 1957)

Gangsters and corruption in the Garment Center. The visual effects and controlled violent scenes are very effective. Uncredited director Robert Aldrich is responsible for a lot of the noir scenes. GRADE: B+



GATES OF HEAVEN (director/writer/producer: Errol Morris; cinematographer: Neg Burgess; editor: Charles Laurence Silver; music: Dan Harberts; cast: Floyd McClure, Joe Allen, Martin Hall, Harberts's family (Cal, Dan,Phil, and Scottie); Runtime: 85; MPAA Rating: NR; Columbia Pictures; 1978)

The canine after-world, surrealistically told in documentary style. A real treat for those who love dogs and can see how absurd some pet owners can become and how mercenary are some pet cemeteries. GRADE: B +



GENEALOGIES OF A CRIME (director/writer: Raúl Ruiz; screenwriter: Pascal Bonitzer; cinematographer: Stephan Ivanov; editor: Valeria Sarmiento; music: Jorge Arriagada; cast: Catherine Deneuve (Solange), Michel Piccoli (Georges Didier), Melvil Poupaud (Rene), Andrzej Seweryn (Christian), Bernadette Lafont (Esther), Monique Melinaud  (Louise), Hubert Saint-Macary (Verret); Runtime: 114; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Paulo Branco; Gemini Films; 1997-France-in French with English subtitles)

A film of intellectual games, double identities, and enough psychological prattle to make you never want to go near a shrink, even if you were desperate for help. Deneuve is the lawyer who never won a criminal case. She defends the young man, Poupaud, who reminds her of the son she just lost in a car accident. She ends up freeing him and then killing him after they become lovers. The best reasons for seeing this puzzler, are that Piccoli is terrific as the nutty shrink and Seweryn is captivating as Piccoli's rival. He appears, at first, to be normal, but turns out to be even nuttier than his rival. Deneuve, well ... she is just herself, in a double role. She also plays Poupard's aunt who raises him. GRADE: C +



GENTLEMAN'S AGREEMENT (director: Elia Kazan; screenwriters: Moss Hart/from the book by  Laura Z. Hobson; cinematographer: Arthur C. Miller; editor: Harmon Jones; music: Alfred Newman; cast: Gregory Peck (Phil Green), Dorothy McGuire (Kathy Lacey), John Garfield (Dave Goldman), Celeste Holm (Anne Dettrey), Anne Revere (Mrs. Green), June Havoc (Miss Wales), Albert Dekker (John Minify), Jane Wyatt (Jane Lacey), Dean Stockwell (Tommy Green); Runtime: 118; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Darryl F. Zanuck; 20th Century Fox; 1947)

A worthy film about a journalist (Peck) hired to do a story about anti-Semitism. He decides to pass himself off as Jewish. High-minded aims prevail. It is told in a sobering straight-forward style. Peck is convincing in the role. The film gets bogged down in the obvious bias without probing into any deeper emotional reactions. Garfield is around to give the film a voice of authority, making sure the film is sincerely looking into this anti-Semitic problem. In any case, the film does try to tackle a subject matter that has not been covered too well by Hollywood, and for that it should be commended. GRADE: B-



GHOST ACTRESS (JOYUREI) (director/writer: Hideo Nakata; screenwriter: Hiroshi Takahashi; cinematographer: Takeshi Hamada; editor: Shuichi Kakesu; music: Akira Kawamura; cast: Dan Li, Yurei Yanagi, Yasuyo Shirashima, Ren Osugi, Kei Ishibashi; Runtime: 74; WowWow/Film Bank; 1996-Japan) ... Reviewed on 6/15/2002.

A nice effort for a modern ghost story created on a Japanese movie set making a melodrama about WW11. The film's director, Murai, discovers eerie footage of another film from 1971 on his film stock, in which a ghost appears. When strange occurences happen on the set, the director is concerned that a ghost might be present. This leads to his child actress, Saori, being pushed when alone from an attic by the ghost. Of course, no one believes this. But the director jars his memory and comes up with some eerie answers, as he remembers seeing the film that showed up in his footage as a child and comes upon a newspaper article that says that the actress shown in the strange film died in a similar fashion 20 years ago in the same studio. As the film comes to its shocking ending, Murai tries to protect the film's star actress, Hitomi, from an evil ghost hanging around the attic of the set. GRADE: B +



GIRL SHY (director: Fred C. Newmeyer/Sam Taylor; screenwriters: Tommy Gray/Sam Taylor/Ted Wilde/Tim Whelan; cinematographer: Walter Lundin/Henry N. Kohler; editor: Allen McNeil; music: Robert Israel; cast: Harold Lloyd (Harold Meadows), Jobyna Ralston (Mary Buckingham), Carleton Griffin (Ronald DeVore), Richard Daniels (Jerry Meadows); Runtime: 88;1924-silent) ... Reviewed on 8/5/2002.

This is the first film produced by Lloyd's production company, which gave him greater artistic freedom than ever before. He plays a timid, stuttering apprentice tailor, in a small California town outside of  L.A. called Little Bend, who's afraid of women. Despite his terror of women he is writing a fantasy book called "The Secret Of Making Love," and goes to the big city to get the book published. On the train he sneaks Mary Buckingham's (Jobyna Ralston) dog on the train despite no dogs allowed and falls in love with the rich young lady as he buys her a Cracker Jack and she gives him as a memento of their encounter -- a box of dog cookies, as he can't stop talking to her until they reach LA. The book is sneered at by the publisher but since the office staff found it hysterical, it's published but retitled "A Boob's Diary." He gets to marry her after going through a slapstick chase sequence to rescue her from a bigamist (Carleton Griffin). Lloyd does all his stunts, and in the finale he steals cars, a motorcycle, rides a horse and a horse cart, gets tangled in a fire-truck's hose while riding on it, and climbs atop of a trolley to get to the church in time. The comedy is pleasing, as Lloyd is a lovable character with a great sense of timing for his routines. GRADE: B



GODFATHER, THE (director/writer: Francis Ford Coppola; screenwriters: Francis Ford Coppola/Mario Puzo/based on the novel by Mario Puzo; cinematographer: Gordon Willis; editors: William H. Reynolds/Peter Zinner; music: Nino Rota; cast: Marlon Brando (Don Vito Corleone), Al Pacino (Michael Corleone), James Caan (Sonny Corleone), Robert Duvall (Tom Hagen), Diane Keaton (Kay Adams), Talia Shire (Connie), Al Lettieri (Sollozzo), Sterling Hayden (McCluskey), John Cazale (Fredo Corleone), Andy Garcia (Vincent Mancini), Eli Wallach (Don Altobello), Joe Mantegna (Joey Zaza), George Hamilton (B.J. Harrison), Bridget Fonda (Grace Hamilton), Sofia Coppola (Mary Corleone), Raf Vallone (Cardinal Lamberto), Abe Vigoda (Sal Tessio), Richard Castellano (Clemenza), Lee Strasberg (Hyman Roth); Runtime: 175; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Albert S. Ruddy; Paramount Pictures; 1972)

Brando is the Godfather of a New York crime family, who makes offers that people can't refuse. Coppola captures the Mafia-like mentality. This might be the ultimate mob movie. There is no argument from me. GRADE: B+



GODFATHER PART 11, THE (director: Francis Ford Coppola; cast: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton, Talia Shire; 1974)

Some critics claim that this version is better than the original (I prefer the original). It explores the Mafia at its height of power and how it is forced to become particularly vengeful. It makes use of flashbacks to keep the story line clear. But it still soft pedals the mob violence perpetrated against innocent people. That is probably a good reason it remains a very popular movie. GRADE: B+



GO DOWN, DEATH! (director/writer: Spencer Williams; screenwriters: Sam Elljay/from a poem by James Weldon Johnson/from a story by Jean Roddy; cinematographer: H.W. Kier; editor: L.J. Powell; cast: Spencer Williams (Big Jim Bottoms), Myra Hemmings (Sister Caroline); Runtime: 57; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Alfred N. Sack; Facets Video; 1944)

A black preacher is accused of immorality in the Deep South. Spencer (the Amos on the 1950s Amos and Andy show) aims his camera from the point of view of the black Southerner and how they experience their religion. Interesting guilt-fantasy scene at the end of the picture, showing the affects this kind of religion has on all who grew up on it. This is what was called in its day, a 'race film.' It features an all-Negro cast. GRADE: B



GOD TOLD ME TO (director/writer/producer: Larry Cohen; cinematographer: Paul Glickman; editors: Mike Corey/Chris Lebenzon/Artie Mandelberg/J. William Waters; music: Frank Cordell; cast: Sylvia Sidney (Elizabeth Mullin), Richard Lynch (Bernard Phillips), Tony Lo Bianco (Peter Nicholas), Robert Nichols (Fletcher), Sandy Dennis (Martha Nicholas), Deborah Raffin (Casey, Mistress), Andy Kaufman (Cop); Runtime: 87; MPAA Rating: R; Larco/New World; 1976)

A gem. This film is a cross between detective genre and occult. Lo Bianco plays the detective on the hunt for the serial killers. The film delves into Lo Bianco's psyche, bringing on his repressions; and, at the same time, it investigates America's fascination with violence and sex. This makes for some bizarre actions, but one worth seeing. GRADE: A 



GOIN' SOUTH (director: Jack Nicholson; screenwriters: Alan Mandel/Al Ramrus/John Herman Shaner/Charles Shyer; cinematographer: Nestor Almendros; editors: Richard Chew/John Fitzgerald; music: Perry Botkin, Jr./Van Dyke Parks; cast: Jack Nicholson (Henry Moon), Mary Steenburgen (Julia Tate), John Belushi (Hector), Chrisopher Lloyd (Towfield), Veronica Cartwright (Hermine), Richard Bradford (Sheriff Kyle), Danny DeVito (Hog), Ed Begley, Jr. (Mr. Haber), Lucy Lee Flippin (Mrs. Haber); Runtime: 109; MPAA Rating: PG; producers: Harry Gittes/Harold Schneider; Paramount; 1978)

Jack plays a shiftless loser in this comic Western, taking place just after the Civil War. He is saved from hanging by Steenburgen, who marries him so she can have someone to work her gold mine. A delightful black comedy. It's irresistable. GRADE: B



GONE WITH THE WIND (director: Victor Fleming; screenwriters: Sidney Howard/based on the novel by Margaret Mitchell; cinematographers: Ernest Haller/Ray Rennahan; editors: Hal Kern/James Newcom; music: Max Steiner; cast: Clark Gable (Rhett Butler), Vivian Leigh (Scarlett O'Hara), Lesley Howard (Ashley Wilkes), Olivia de Havilland (Melanie Hamilton), Hattie McDaniel (Mammy), Ona Munson (Belle Watling), Thomas Mitchell (Gerald O'Hara), Evelyn Keyes (Suellen O'Hara), Butterfly McQueen (Prissy), Barbara O'Neil (Ellen O'Hara), Alicia Rhett (India Wilkes), Rand Brooks (Charles Hamilton), Harry Davenport (Doctor Meade), Carroll Nye (Frank Kennedy), Laura Hope Crews (Aunt Pittypat), Oscar Polk (Pork), Eddie Anderson (Uncle Peter); Runtime: 222; MPAA Rating: G; producer: David O. Selznick; MGM; 1939)

There were 6 Technicolor cameras in the country and David O'Selznick, the producer of GWTW, had them all. This resulted in the magnificent spectacle that is still unequalled as far as quality of color. The story takes place during the Civil War. While Atlanta burns, Gable and Leigh frolic. In the end, they realize that there will be another day. This is Hollywood at its best. The writer, Margaret Mitchell, died in a car crash in Atlanta during the 1940s. GRADE: A+


GOOD WILL HUNTING (director: Gus Van Sant; screenwriters: Matt Damon/Ben Affleck; cinematographer: Jean-Yves Escoffier; editor: Pietro Scalia; music: Danny Elfman; cast: Robin Williams (Sean McGuire), Matt Damon (Will), Ben Affleck (Chuckie), Stellan Skarsgard (Lambeau), Minnie Driver (Skylar), Casey Affleck (Morgan), Cole Hauser (Billy), George Plimpton (Psychologist); Runtime: 126; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Lawrence Bender; Miramax Films; 1997)

Skylar (Minnie Driver) is the only one in this flick who wasn't putting on airs and felt like the real deal. She is a smart and warm-hearted co-ed, capable of falling in love with the confused genius, Will (Matt). He is working as a janitor at M.I.T.. In his spare time, when he isn't out drinking or fighting with his Irish buddies from South Boston, he is solving mathematical problems that only a very select few geniuses in the world can solve. Everything about this flick is contrived, reducing every problematic moment to some Psych 101 explanation. GRADE: C



GOOSE WOMAN, THE (director: Clarence Brown; screenwriters: from the story by Rex Beach/Melville W. Brown; cinematographer: Milton Moore; editor: Ray F. Curtiss; cast: Louise Dresser (Marie de Nardi/Mary Holmes), Jack Pickford (Gerald Holmes), Constance Bennett (Hazel Woods), James O. Barrows (Jacob Riggs); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: NR; Universal; 1925-silent)

A classic of the silent era. Dresser triumphs in her role of a fallen opera diva  who now lives as a goose woman in a drunken squalor. A murder takes place near her farm, and she lies to the prosecutor about what she witnessed. This results in her son being charged with murder. GRADE: C+



GRADUATE, THE (director: Mike Nichols; cast: Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, Katharine Ross; 1967)

Hoffman tries to figure out what to do after college, and has an affair with an older woman. Simon and Garfunkel sing some memorable songs. Throw in a little sexual allure from an older woman (Bancroft) and a dream girl (Ross) and you got a movie that hit the pulse of its generation. GRADE: C+



GRAPES OF WRATH, THE (director: John Ford; screenwriters: from the book by John Steinbeck The Grapes of Wrath/Nunnally Johnson; cinematographer: Gregg Toland; editor: Robert Simpson; music: Alfred Newman; cast: Henry Fonda (Tom Joad), Jane Darwell (Ma Joad), John Carradine (Jim Casy), Charley Grapewin (Grandpa Joad), Dorris Bowdon (Rosasharn), Russell Simpson (Pa Joad), O. Z. Whitehead (Al), John Qualen (Muley), Eddie Quillan (Connie), Zeffie Tilbury (Granma); Runtime: 129; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Darryl F. Zanuck; 20th Century Fox; 1940)

Taken from John Steinbeck's novel about the depression and its affects on Okie migrants to California. Ford does a good job in capturing the bleakness of this bitter slice of American history. GRADE: A



GRASS: A NATION'S BATTLE FOR LIFE (director/writer/producer: Merian C. Cooper/Ernest B. Schoedsack; screenwriters: Marguerite Harrison/Terry Ramsaye/Richard Carver; cinematographer: Ernest B. Schoedsack; editors: Terry Ramsaye/Richard Carver; cast: Marguerite Harrison (Herself, a Journalist), Merian C. Cooper (Himself), Ernest B. Schoedsack (Himself), Haidar Khan (Himself, Chief of the Bakhtyari Tribe), Lufta (Himself, Haidar Khan's Son); Runtime: 70; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Jesse L. Lasky; Milestone Film & Video; 1925-silent)

Grass is a silent documentary about the annual migration of the 50,000 Bakhtiari tribal people of western Iran and a half-million of their animals, as they seek the Promised Land of grass for their survival. Their dangerous trek will take them over the icy cold waters of the Karun River and the steep icy slopes of the Zardeh Kuh pass, as the leader of the nomadic people, Haidar Khan and his 9-year-old son, Lufta, are the featured stars of this difficult journey, possibly made more difficult than usual by the filmmakers who manufactured some scenes for dramatic effect. But it still didn't take away from the truth of the quest and the courage shown by the conquering nomads. GRADE: B



GRAYEAGLE (director/writer/producer: Charles Pierce; cinematographer/editor: Jim Roberson; music: Jaime Mendoza-Nava; cast: Ben Johnson (John Colter), Jack Elam (Trapper Willis), Lana Wood (Beth Colter), Iron Eyes Cody (Standing Bear), Paul Fix (Running Wolf); Runtime: 104; MPAA Rating: PG; American International Pictures; 1977)

This could have been a great Western, in the vein of The Searchers; that is, if, supposedly, 40- minutes of the film wasn't lopped off, making this film incoherent in parts. The story is told from an Indian point of view, of Ben's daughter being kidnapped by Grayeagle. Ben and Iron Eyes and Elam go off to rescue her from the Cheyenne. The ways of the Indian, their dreams, and their utmost belief in their dreams as a representation of the cycle of life and death are realistically shown. There are great performances from Ben and Elam. This film settles for just being so-so. GRADE: C+



GUANTANAMERA (director/writer: Tomás Gutiérrez Alea/Juan Carlos Tabió; screenwriter: Eliseo Alberto Diego/Garcia Marroz; cinematographer: Hans Burmann; editor: Carmen Frías; music: Jose Nieto; cast: Carlos Cruz (Adolfo, The Bureaucrat ), Mirta Ibarra (Georgina), Jorge Perugorria (Mariano), Raul Eguren (Candido), Suset Perez Malberti (Iku), Conchita Brando (Yoyita, The Singer); Runtime: 102; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Gerardo Herrero; New Yorker; 1994-Cuba-in Spanish with English subtitles)

Any film done as a black comedy, about the massive economic problems in modern Cuba, should include a compulsive Communist bureaucrat. This sitcom-like tale, tells about a singer being buried in Havana when she died from over excitement at meeting a fellow musician she has not seen for 50 years. He still loves her after all these years. Now they must bury her. So leave it to the bureaucrats to take care of things. What I did see in detail was the Cuban roadside. This was Cuban director Alea's last film before he died. GRADE: C 



GUIMBA THE TYRANT (director/writer: Cheick Sissoko; cinematographer: Lionel Cousin; editors: Kahena Attia/Joëlle Dufour; music: Michel Risse/Pierre Sauvageot; cast: Falabo Issa Traore (Guimba), Moussa Keita (Mambi Bala), Habib Dembele (Sambou, the Griot), Lamine Diallo (Janguine), Mouneissa Maiga (Kani), Maimouna Hélène Diarra (Meya), Cheick Oumar Maiga (Siriman); Runtime: 120; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Idrissa Ouedraogo; Kino International; 1995-Mali/France/Germany-in French with English subtitles)

An evil and spoiled dwarf named Janguine (Lamine) is being instructed by his father, Guimba (Traore), to always treat his subjects cruelly. From birth he is betrothed to the beautiful Kani, but when he meets her voluptuous mother he tells his father he must marry her because he loves big women with big rumps. Guimba's solution to this problem is simple: Since his son wants to marry the mother, he marries the beautiful daughter. The problem is that the mother is already married. Guimba flogs his subjects and announces that he will castrate any future suitors of Kani. In the tradition of Western African tales a griot, storyteller, relates the events, telling of the magic spell that put an end to Guimba. The unnamed African country and its ochre looking village (Sitakili) and the colorful costumes are an eyeful, as are the tantalizing women with their big rumps. It is worth seeing the film, just to see the unbelievable costumes and big rumps swaying in the breeze. The film is a political parody of the reign of terror that took place in Mali, a tragedy which came to an end in 1991. Mali is the home of the director. The main problem with the film, is that it is chaotic and it is hard to follow the story. GRADE: C+



GUNS OF NAVARONE, THE (director: J. Lee Thompson; screenwriters: from the book by Alistair MacLean/Carl Foreman; cinematographer: Oswald Morris; editor: Alan Osbigton; music: Dimitri Tiomkin; cast: Gregory Peck (Capt. Keith Mallory), Anthony Quinn (Col. Andrea Stavrov), Anthony Quayle (Maj. Roy Franklin), David Niven (Corporal Miller), Irene Papas (Maria Pappadimos), Gia Scala (Anna), Stanley Baker (CPO Brown), James Darren (Private Pappadimos); Runtime: 159; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Carl Foreman/Cecil F. Ford; Columbia Pictures; 1961-UK)

The WW11 actioner and political anti-war message film, takes place in Greece. Our heroes try to knock off  two Nazi gun-posts on Navarone, so that Turkey will remain neutral and 2,000 Greeks will not get killed. Ho-hum! Overlong and unconvincing action scenes, plus an annoying amount of oration.Though every so often it comes up with a gem of a line, such as when Peck is asked if Quinn's threat against his life is real. He replies: "He's from Crete, those people don't make idle threats." GRADE: C



GUNS OF THE TREES (director: Jonas Mekas; cast: Benita Carruthers, Allen Ginsberg; 1962)

This documentary style, fictionalized look at unrest in NYC, asks many political and personal questions. It probes the peoples' discontentment with racism and America's involvement with supporting dictators abroad. Ginsberg reads off camera his visually striking poems. A young Greenwich Village couple (the Carruthers) find that they have many difficulties in finding an honest way to live in a corrupt system. The theme here, in all probability, is that sooner or later everyone gives up. It's an every man for himself system that is being questioned. GRADE: B


GUY (director: Michael Lindsay-Hogg; screenwriter: Kirby Dick; cinematographer: Arturo Smith; editor: Dody Dorn; music: Jeff Beal; cast: Vincent D'onofrio (Guy), Hope Davis (Camera), Kimber Riddle (Veronica); Runtime: 89; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Vincent D'onofrio/Renee Missel; A Polygram release; 1997)

A filmmaker shoots a documentary of every waking hour of her unwilling subject's life. Guy (Vincent) asks: "Why would anyone see a film about me ?" It's a good question. GRADE: C



Dennis Schwartz: " Ozus' World Movie Reviews "

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