Dennis Schwartz'
Short Reviews 
'R'  18

 



RADIOLAND MURDERS (director: Mel Smith; screenwriters: Willard Huyck/Gloria Katz/Jeff Reno/Ron Osborne/based on a story by George Lucas; cinematographer: David Tattersall; editor: Paul Trejo; music: Joel McNeely; cast: Mary Stuart Masterson (Penny Henderson), Brian Benben (Roger Henderson), Ned Beatty (Walt Whalen), Michael Lerner (Lt. Cross), Scott Michael Campbell (Billy), Christopher Lloyd (Zoltan), Stephen Tobolowsky (Max Applewhite), Michael McKean (Rick Rochester), Corbin Bernsen (Dexter Morris), Brion James (Bernie King), Harvey Korman (Jules Cogley), George Burns (Milt Lackey), Anita Morris (Claudette); Runtime: 112; MPAA Rating: PG; producers: Rick McCallum/Fred Roos; Universal Pictures; 1994)

A Chicago radio station begins to broadcast in 1939. Soon murders begin at the station. The beauty of the film is that its idea of comedy and nostalgia are of such a low level that it is actually funny in a way that the filmmaker had probably not intended. A bad film that is thoroughly enjoyable with some special effects conceived in honor of its producer, George Lucas. GRADE: C+



RAGING BULL (director: Martin Scorsese; screenwriters: Paul Schrader/Mardik Martin/based on the ''Raging Bull'' by Jake La Motta with Joseph Carter and Peter Savage; cinematographer: Michael Chapma; editor: Thelma Schoonmaker; cast: Robert De Niro (Jake La Motta), Cathy Moriarty (Vickie La Motta), Joe Pesci (Joey), Frank Vincent (Salvy), Mario Gallo (Mario), Nicholas Colasanto (Tommy Como); Runtime: 129; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Irwin Winkler/Robert Chartoff; United Artists; 1980)

The middleweight champion, Jake La Motta (De Niro), from the Bronx, fights opponents in the ring and demons inside him; and, is corrupted by the mob bosses until he becomes a broken man. This is possibly the best boxing film ever made (Body and Soul is in the same championship class). GRADE: A



RAID, THE (director: Hugo Fregonese; screenwriters: Sydney Boehm/Francis Cockrell/from the book by Herbert Ravenel Sass; cinematographer: Lucien Ballard; editor: Robert Golden; music: Roy Webb; cast: Van Heflin (Maj. Neal Benton), Richard Boone (Capt. Foster), Peter Graves (Capt. Dwyer), Ann Bancroft (Katy Bishop), Lee Marvin (Lt. Keating); Runtime: 82; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Leonard Goldstein/Robert L. Jacks; 20th Century Fox; 1954)

Well-told, true story of a Confederate raid led by Van Heflin on St. Albans, Vermont, after he escapes from a Yankee prison camp. Excellent use of Civil War photos to create just the right suspenseful mood, leading to looting and the burning down of the town. It captures the anger the Rebs felt in seeing their own homes destroyed. GRADE: B



RAMROD (director: Andre De Toth; screenwriters: Jack Moffitt/Graham Baker/Cecile Kramer/from a Luke Short story; cinematographer: Russell Harlan; editor: Sherman A. Rose; music: Adolph Deutsch; cast: Joel McCrea (Dave Nash), Veronica Lake (Connie Dickason), Preston Foster (Frank Ivey), Don Defore (Bill Schell), Donald Crisp (Sheriff Jim Crew), Arleen Whelan (Rose Leland), Charles Ruggles (Ben Dickason ), Nestor Paiva (Curley), Robert Wood (Link); Runtime: 94; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Harry Sherman; Republic; 1947) ... Reviewed on 2/18/2001.

A fine Western. Lake is the head-strong young lady who opposes her father's (Ruggles) marriage plans for her to the ruthless cattle baron Foster. A gang war ensues between these two as McCrea tries to keep things peaceful between both sides, but gets sucked into the conflict as Lake fools him and Foster has his gunmen beat innocent ranch hand Nestor to death. The film gives us a complex psychological lesson on evil, as the decent McCrea recovers his senses and ditches Lake for the wholesome Whelan after settling things with Foster in a gun duel. GRADE: B


REAR WINDOW (director: Alfred Hitchcock; screenwriters: John Michael Hayes/from a story by Cornell Woolrich; cinematographer: Robert Burks; editor: George Tomasini ; music: Franz Waxman; cast: James Stewart (L.B. Jeffries (Jeff)), Grace Kelly (Lisa Carol Fremont), Wendell Corey (Thomas J. Doyle, detective), Thelma Ritter (Stella), Raymond Burr (Lars Thorwald), Judith Evelyn (Miss Lonely Heart), Georgine Darcy (Miss Torso, the dancer); Runtime: 112; MPAA Rating: PG; producer: Alfred Hitchcock; Paramount; 1954)

Steward is with a broken leg and is grounded, so he takes to voyeurism using binoculars to spy on his Greenwich Village neighbors. When he thinks he sees a murder, his girlfriend Grace gets involved in tracking down what happened. This is Hitchcock at his dirtiest. This spine chiller is carried off brilliantly by Jimmy and Grace, a couple of  "innocent" lovers. GRADE: A-



RED AND THE WHITE, THE (CSILLAGOSOK, KATONAK) (director/writer: Miklós Jancsó; screenwriters: Gyulam Hernádi/Georgiy Mdivani; cinematographer: Tamas Somlo; editor: Zoltan Farkas; cast: József Madaras ( Istvan ), András Kozák (Laszo), Tibor Molnár (Andras), Jácint Juhász (Janos), Anatoli Yabbarov (Captain Tselpanov), Sergei Nikonenko (Cossack), Krystyna Mikolajewska (Olga), Tatyana Konyukhova (Elizaveta); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Jenoe Goetz/András Németh/Kirill Sirjajev; Hungar Film; 1967-Hungary/USSR-in Hungarian with English subtitles)

Set in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, in 1919. The Hungarian Communists come to the aid of the Bolsheviks (the Reds) to defeat the Czarists (the Whites). The action takes place near the Volga in the field, at a combined monastery and hospital. The film looks like Jancsó's other war story, TheRound-Up, as it emphasizes the same theme of the futility of war and how both sides do the same kind of insane killing. Prisoners are captured, stripped, and then shot as they are told they can escape. A buxom peasant girl is about to be raped by a Cossack officer, when his superior swoops in and executes him for his misconduct. A nurse is accused by the Whites of abetting the Reds, but who is shot by the Reds when they take over the hospital. Jancsó makes his point: war is not the best solution. The only distraction in this chaotic look at war is on the frontline, where everyone looks the same. GRADE: A



RED LIGHT (director/producer: Roy Del Ruth; screenwriters: George Callahan/Charles Grayson; cinematographer: Bert Glennon; editor: Richard V. Heermance; music: Dimitri Tiomkin; cast: George Raft (John Torno), Virginia Mayo (Carla North), Gene Lockhart (Warni Hazard), Barton Maclane (Strecker), Henry Morgan (Rocky), Raymond Burr (Nick Cherney), Arthur Franz (Jess Torno); Runtime: 83; MPAA Rating: NR; United Artists; 1949)

This is a matter-of-fact type of revenge film. Raft, the businessman, welcomes home from the war the brother he loves, who is a priest. His brother is killed by someone who wants to get even with Raft. A religious message is woven into this tough noir film. GRADE: B-



RED MEAT (director: Allison Burnett; cast: James Frain, Lara Flynn Boyle, Jennifer Grey, Traci Lind; 1996)

This low-budget indie film takes awhile to digest but once you see what direction it is going you realize that this is not your typical, safe Hollywood take on the subject of a male womanizer. He is excellently played by Frain who crows to his male friend and sometimes co-conspirator about his female conquests. At first, you are struck by how cold and obnoxious this dude is and you are saying to yourself, where are we going with this? But the film switches gears and goes from wicked humor and irony to tenderness and compatibility, and it works out surprisingly well. As a result we have a wonderful little film, weighing in with some insights on the always perplexing subjects of sex, love and relationships. I heartily recommend it, if you can find it on the menu of your cable station. GRADE: B



RED SHOES, THE (directors/writers/producers: Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger; screenwriter: from the fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen; cinematographer: Jack Cardiff; editor:  Reginald Mills; music: Brian Easdale; cast: Anton Walbrook (Boris Lermontov), Marius Goring (Julian Craster), Moira Shearer (Victoria Page), Leonid Massine (Grischa Ljubov), Albert Basserman (Sergei Ratov), Robert Helpmann (Ivan Boleslawsky), Esmond Knight (Livingstone 'Livy' Montagne), Ludmilla Tcherina (Irina Boronskaja); Runtime: 136; MPAA Rating: NR; Criterion Collection; 1948-UK)

One of the great ballet melodramas of all time. It is the tale of a dancer (Shearer), torn between her art and the man she loves. The story was modeled on the relationship of Diaghilev and Nijinsky. A must see. GRADE: A



RETURN OF THE SOLDIER, THE (director: Alan Bridges; screenwriters: story by Rebecca West/Hugh Whitemore; cinematographer: Stephen Goldblatt; editor: Laurence Méry-Clark; music: Richard Rodney Bennett; cast: Alan Bates (Capt. Chris Baldry), Glenda Jackson (Margaret Gray), Julie Cristie (Kitty Baldry), Ann-Margret (Jenny Baldry), Ian Holm (Dr. Gilbert Anderson); Runtime: 102; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Simon Relph/Ann Skinner; European Classics Video; 1982-UK)

Adapted from a Rebecca West novel about a soldier (Bates) who returns from war without his memory intact. He revives his stifling marriage with the snobbish Julie, unaware of Ann-Margret's love for him. And, then, there is the dowdy Glenda his childhood sweetheart, and now his only hope for salvation. Well, what's a guy to do surrounded by all these gals? Nothing really happens but the picture is lush, the acting is grand, and the costumes are marvelous. GRADE: C+



RIDDANCE (Szabad Lélegzet) (director/writer: Márta Mészáros; cinematographer: Lajos Koltai; editor: Zoltán Farkas; music: Levente Szörényi; cast: Erzsébet Kutvölgvi (Katra), Gábor Nagy (Molnár András), Marianna Moór (Zsuzsi), József Székhelyi (Laci), Melinda Máriáss (Erzsi); Runtime: 84; MPAA Rating: NR; Mokep; 1973-Hungary-in Hungarian with English subtitles)

An attractive young woman who works in a factory falls in love with a university student, but feels embarrassment at her low station in life. Raised in an orphanage, after her parents' bitter divorce, she has learned to fend for herself in life. But she falls in love with the student and knows his bourgeois parents wouldn't accept her. After lying to them, she talks her father into bringing his new wife with him and pretend that they are a well-to-do family and she is a university student. It doesn't work -- her lie is detected by the boy's mother, who tells the girl she is vulgar and won't be happy in marrying her son. Heartbroken, she breaks down and cries as the film concludes with her taking a shower, ridding herself of the factory grime. A bitter indictment of Hungarian society and its cold feelings, by a very perceptive woman director. GRADE: B



RIDE BACK, THE (director/writer: Allen Miner; screenwriter: Antony Ellis; cinematographer: Joseph Biroc; editor: Michael Luciano; music: Frank De Vol; cast: William Conrad (Chris Hamish), Anthony Quinn (Bob Kallen), Lita Milan (Elena),Victor Millan (Padre), George Trevino (Guard), Ellen Hope Monroe (Child), Eddie Albert (Singer of the Ballad); Runtime: 79; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: William Conrad ; United Artists; 1957)

Throw in a little psychological meaning into a Western and wham, it seems to make the routine seem loftier. Deputy sheriff Hamish (Conrad) has to go from Texas to Mexico to bring back Bob Kallan (Quinn), who is wanted for murdering a man during a card game. The key to the story is how the men relate to each other during the four-day trek back to Texas. Kallan is concerned about getting a fair trial, for a crime he may be innocent of. Hamish considers himself a failure in life: he has a wife who doesn't love him, a job that he is not successful at, and a personality that people are not taken with. Kallan is a better gunman than Hamish; he is living with a beautiful woman (Lita), who would do anything for him; and, he has friends who would come to his aid if he wanted them to. The unsure deputy is scared Kallan will escape and feels intimidated by Kallan's cockiness, and by the Apaches who are trying to ambush him. It's a tough road back and there are a few mild surprises along the way for this diverting Western, which is a study in character. GRADE: C+



RIDE LONESOME (director: Budd Boetticher; screenwriter: Burt Kennedy; cinematographer: Charles Lawton Jr.; editor: Jermome Thoms; cast: Randolph Scott (Ben Brigade), Karen Steele (Mrs Lane), Pernell Roberts (Sam Boone), James Coburn (Whit), James Best (Billy John), Lee Van Cleef (Frank); Runtime: 73; Columbia Pictures; 1959) ... Reviewed on 1/19/2001.

An awesome Western. Aging bounty hunter Scott wants a criminal brought in because he knows his brother Van Cleef will come after him. Outlaws Roberts and Coburn want the reward of amnesty. Van Cleef  hung Scott's wife, after he promised revenge on the sheriff because of his arrest. Attractive Steele just lost her wilderness station-master husband because of an Indian attack and is returning to town with Scott. The action comes to a head at the 'hanging tree,' where Scott confronts Van Cleef  by threatening to hang his brother. GRADE: A



RIDE THE PINK HORSE (director/writer: Robert Montgomery; screenwriter:Ben Hecht/Charles Lederer/from novel by Dorothy B. Hughes; cinematographer: Russell Metty; editor: Ralph Dawson; music: Frank Skinner; cast: Robert Montgomery (Gagin), Thomas Gomez (Pancho), Rita Conde (Carla), Iris Flores (Maria), Art Smith (Bill Retz), Wanda Hendrix (Pila), Fred Clark (Frank Hugo), Andrea King (Marjorie); Runtime: 101; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Joan Harrison;  Universal-International; 1947)

Montgomery comes to a small-town in New Mexico during the fiesta to bribe a mobster. Excellent noir. Written by Ben Hecht and Charles Lederer. Montgomery invokes a character of brooding silence: displaying a mood of conflict with himself and his environment. To him all the horses in the merry-go-round look alike. So he tells the girl, you might as well ride the pink one. GRADE: B+



ROADBLOCK (director: Harold Daniels; screenwriters: Steve Fisher/George Bricker/from a story by Richard H. Landau  & Geoffrey Homes; cinematographer: Nicholas Musuraca; editor: Robert Golden; music: Paul Sawtell; cast: Charles McGraw (Joe Peters), Joan Dixon (Diane), Lowell Gilmore (Kendall Webb), Louis Jean Heydt (Harry Miller), Milburn Stone (Egan), Joseph Crehan (Thompson), Steve Roberts (Matt De Vita), Peter Brocco (Bank Heist Man), Joseph Forte (Brissard); Runtime: 73; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Lewis J. Rachmil; RKO; 1951)

McGraw is the honest insurance detective who gets involved with a greedy woman (Dixon) and becomes corrupted by her. His downfall is caused by his unwholesome desire for money and sex. Typical noir thriller, probing the character of a weak-willed detective, played against the dreams of middle-class America. GRADE: C+



ROADS TO THE SOUTH (director/writer: Joseph Losey; screenwriters: Patricia Losey/Jorge Semprun; cinematographer: Gerry Fisher; editor: Reginald Beck; music: Michel Legrand; cast: Yves Montand (Larrea), Miou-Miou (Julia), Laurent Malet (Laurent), France Lambiotte (Eve), Jose Luis Gomez (Miguel), Jean Bouise (Metayer), Maurice Benichou (Garcia); Runtime: 97; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Yves Rousset-Rouard; Parafrance; 1978-France, in French with English subtitles)

A disappointing political movie, that had little to say that was fresh or interesting. This is the second feature Losey made in France since his self-exile. It takes place in Cherbourg, 1975. Yves is a wealthy film screenwriter whose memories of fighting against the rise of the Spanish dictator Franco during his rise to power from 1936-39, still haunts him and his Spanish wife. He can't relate to his son and the cynicism the young have for people of his age group. When his wife dies in a car crash in Barcelona, he returns to Spain to see the dictator die of old age in his bed. He lives with his memories of supporting Stalin for twenty years and for twenty years afterwards detesting himself for supporting Stalin. He is still a supporter of the old cause, believing he is still right. Miou-Miou serves the purpose of being the young girl who his son has fixed him up with. GRADE: C-



ROCK HUDSON'S HOME MOVIES (director/writer/editor/producer: Mark Rappaport; cinematographer: Mark Daniels; cast: Rock Hudson, Eric Farr (Narrator); Runtime: 63; MPAA Rating: NR; Water Bearer Films; 1992)

Movie icon and romantic lead, the handsome Rock Hudson, died of AIDS in 1985 at the age of 59. It was his official coming out-of-the-closet announcement, as all the rumors about him being gay were finally confirmed. The newspapers had a field day with this story. What Rappaport has done is piece together clips from his movies, making them appear as if they were home movies. He has Farr narrate as if he was the Rock talking from beyond the grave, explaining all the hints there were of his homosexuality in his films if you looked for them. This short film is both amusing and quirky. GRADE: B



ROUND UP, THE (Szegénylegények) (director: Miklos Jansco; screenwriter: Gyula Hernadi; cinematographer: Tamas Somlo; editor: Zoltan Farkas; cast: Janos Gorbe (Janos Gajdor), Tibor Molnar (Kabai), Andras Kozak (Kabai's Son); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: András Németh; Hungarofilm/Altura Films International; 1965-Hungary-in Hungarian with English subtitles)

One of the greatest Hungarian political films ever made. It is tense. It is hypnotic. It is a study in evil. Set in the late 1860s, as peasant political prisoners of  the Austro-Hungarian conflict have been rounded up by the Austrian military and are being questioned by them in order to identify members of a guerrilla band under Kossuth in the 1848 revolution. The camera eerily tracks everything that is going on. The sparse dialogue and the barren plain where the men are kept under guard lends an air of incredibility to the scene, as the prisoners are constantly ordered about and occasionally shot. It soon becomes apparent that there is no escape from here. The mind-boggling scenario leaves an indelible impression, one of choreographed dehumanization, too impossible and inhumane to completely comprehend. GRADE: A



Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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