hendersonville film society Articles
Genre: Romantic Drama Comedy
Director: Leo McCarey
Starring: Cary Grant, Deborah Kerr, Richard Denning, Neva Patterson, Cathleen NesbittIn Brief: In 1957, Leo McCarey was a director out of vogue and out of favor, so he tried to restart his career by remaking his 1939 film Love Affair — rechristened An Affair to Remember. While it was a hit, it really didn't revive his career, but this story of a shipboard romance that turns into much more (with a large injection of tragedy) has certainly claimed a notch in American cinema.
Director: D.W. Griffith
Starring: Jean Hersholt, Phyllis Haver, Belle Bennett, Sally O'Neil, Don Alvarado, William BakewellIn Brief: A middle-aged businessman falls prey to the wiles of a gold-digging flapper and throws everything away in his pursuit of this transparently duplicitous woman. Something of a surprise from the last days of D.W. Griffith's career, The Battle of the Sexes manages to be sophisticated while still adhering to the director's own sensibilities. Though marketed as a comedy, this is really a domestic drama with comedic touches. Approached that way, it's actually one of Griffith's more accomplished films.
Genre: Action Crime Thriller
Director: Michael Winner (The Sentinel)
Starring: Charles Bronson, Jan-Michael Vincent, Keenan Wynn, Jill Ireland, Linda RidgewayIn Brief: A mechanic — or hitman — ill-advisedly takes the son of one of his victims under his wing as an assistant in training. Pure 1960s-'70s action thriller of the Charles Bronson kind, The Mechanic benefits from ultra-stylish direction by Michael Winner. It may not make it exactly good, but it makes for a fascinating artifact, as well as a nigh perfect encapsulation of Winner's style.
Genre: Historical Drama with Horror Trappings
Director: Rowland V. Lee
Starring: Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff, Barbara O'Neil, Ian Hunter, Vincent Price, Nan GreyIn Brief: Somewhere in between history and Shakespeare with a dollop of house-brand horror (this did come from Universal Pictures, after all) is Rowland V. Lee's Tower of London. Despite the presence of Boris Karloff and the score from Son of Frankenstein (also directed by Lee), this a reasonably non-horrific offering — but certainly not shy of mayhem — that purports to show the grisly (this was pre-revisionist) rise and fall of Richard III (Basil Rathbone). It's not particularly deep or subtle, but it's a lot of fun and a solid production.
Director: Glenn Jordan
Starring: Richard Jordan, Anthony Perkins, Cyril Cusack, Claude Dauphin, John GielgudIn Brief: Lew Grade's 1978 TV version of Les Miserables with Richard Jordan as Jean Valjean and Anthony Perkins as Javert is a reasonably solid version of the book that hits the main plot elements and adds more backstory. Apart from Tony Perkins as a twitchy Javert, it's pretty much a kind of "Classics Illustrated" take on the material. But it's a good half hour shorter than the musical.
Director: Terrence Malick
Starring: Richard Gere, Brooke Adams, Sam Shepard, Linda Manz, Robert J. WilkeIn Brief: Terrence Malick's second film, Days of Heaven, is almost impossible to critique in normal terms. As drama, it's not entirely satisfactory in the usual sense. Its story is at once simple and rambling. It feels a lot more like a late period silent movie than something from 1978, but even that doesn't describe it adequately. It's less something to watch than something to experience for both visual beauty and Malick's unique sense of film as a living embodiment of capturing the smallest details of place and making them indelible. It is not going to be to everyone's taste.
Genre: Period Drama
Director: Leslie Arliss
Starring: Margaret Lockwood, James Mason, Patricia Roc, Griffith Jones, Michael RennieIn Brief: No perfidy is too perfidious for Margaret Lockwood in — and as — The Wicked Lady, and it's a good thing because the film pretty much rises or falls on the depths of her depravity. Everyone else — with the exception of James Mason as a highwayman — is pretty bland in this nicely produced film that's too genteel for its own plot. It obviously suffers from the pitfalls of its era, but somewhat makes up for this with the thievery, adultery, duplicity and even murderous hijinks of Ms. Lockwood having a fine melodramatic time.
Director: David Frankel (Hope Springs)
Starring: Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Emily Blunt, Stanley Tucci, Adrian Grenier, Simon BakerIn Brief: Meryl Streep (when she was still trying), Emily Blunt and Stanley Tucci keep this comedy going about the ins and outs of the fashion magazine world — and in the process, they buoy up Anne Hathaway (whose role is more at fault than she). It's mostly a lot of good fun with some terrific performances, but when none of those first three names are onscreen (fortunately, they mostly are onscreen), things tend to bog down.
Genre: Historical Drama
Director: Fred Zinnemann
Starring: Paul Scofield, Wendy Hiller, Leo McKern, Robert Shaw, Orson WellesIn Brief: A Man for All Seasons — the Oscar-festooned film from 1966 — is solid, sober filmmaking that tells the story of Thomas More, who lost his head for refusing to compromise his religious views. Impressively made and superlatively cast.
Director: Guy Hamilton (Live and Let Die)
Starring: Angela Lansbury, Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, Kim Novak, Tony Curtis, Edward FoxIn Brief: A diminished budget — and other things — conspire to make this attempt at a big screen Miss Marple movie to accompany successful Hercule Poirot films. It’s not actually bad, it’s just not all that hot. The magnificently catty duels of the divas — Liz Taylor and Kim Novak — are certainly fun, but the mystery lacks zing.
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