Daily Archives: November 19, 2004

Kinsey

Writer-director Bill Condon won positive reviews for Gods and Monsters (1998), his gay-themed drama about film director James Whale. In contrast to that rigidly conceived movie, this biopic of pioneering sex researcher Alfred Kinsey (Liam Neeson) might be described as thoughtfully inconclusive. Apart from some unexaggerated notations about American puritanism in the 1940s and ’50s, it’s more a work of exploration than a thesis, and Condon mainly avoids sensationalism. The period detail is better than in most Hollywood movies, and the secondary cast (Laura Linney, Chris O’Donnell, Peter Sarsgaard, Timothy Hutton, John Lithgow, Tim Curry, Oliver Platt, and Dylan Baker) isn’t bad. R, 118 min. (JR)… Read more »

Murnau’s 4 Devils: Traces Of A Lost Film

This remarkable 40-minute re-creation of F.W. Murnau’s lost silent film 4 Devils, which he made at Fox just after Sunrise, was assembled by film historian Janet Bergstrom using stills, drawings, sketches, and script drafts. Originally released on a DVD of Sunrise, it’s the first comprehensive account of the film since its 1928 release. (JR)… Read more »

The Most Intelligent American Movie of the Year [THE BIG RED ONE: THE RECONSTRUCTION]

From the Chicago Reader (November 19, 2004). — J.R.

The Big Red One: The Reconstruction

**** (Masterpiece)

Directed and Written by Samuel Fuller

With Lee Marvin, Mark Hamill, Robert Carradine, Bobby Di Cicco, Stephane Audran, Christa Lang, Kelly Ward, Siegfried Rauch, and Fuller

When I enter his suite at the Plaza, he’s finishing lunch, expressing his regret about missing Godard in Cannes, remarking on the absurdity of prizes at film festivals, asking me what Soho News and Soho are. (The one he knows about is in London — he fondly recalls a cigar store on Frith Street.)

“It isn’t hard to figure out why Mark Hamill affectionately calls him Yosemite Sam, or why Lee Marvin simply says he’s D.W. Griffith. Bursting with the same charismatic, comic book energy that skyrockets through most of his movies, old crime reporter, novelist, war hero, writer-director and sometime producer Samuel Fuller, almost 69, still moves and talks like his daffy action flicks — like the wild man from Borneo — in quick, short, blocky punches, like two-fisted slabs of socko headline type.”

The purple prose was mine, the year was 1980. Fuller was promoting his semiautobiographical war picture The Big Red One, even though the studio had just cut half of it — something he wasn’t making any effort to hide.… Read more »

Park Row

This neglected Samuel Fuller feature from 1952, a giddy look at New York journalism in the 1880s, was his personal favorite–he financed it himself and lost every penny. A principled cigar smoker (Gene Evans) becomes the hard-hitting editor of a new Manhattan daily, where he competes with his former employer (Mary Welch) in a grudge match loaded with sexual undertones; meanwhile a man jumps off the Brooklyn Bridge trying to become famous, the Statue of Liberty is given to the U.S. by France, and a newspaper drive raises money for its pedestal. Enthusiasm flows into every nook and cranny of this cozy movie: when violence breaks out in the cramped-looking set of the title street, the camera weaves in and out of the buildings as through a sports arena, in a single take. “Park Row” is repeated incessantly like a crazy mantra, and the overall fervor of this vest-pocket Citizen Kane makes journalism sound like the most exciting activity in the world. 83 min. Also on the program: Jerky Turkey (1944), a cartoon by Tex Avery. Sat 11/20, 8 PM, LaSalle Bank Cinema.… Read more »

Kinsey

Writer-director Bill Condon won positive reviews for Gods and Monsters (1998), his gay-themed drama about film director James Whale. In contrast to that rigidly conceived movie, this biopic of pioneering sex researcher Alfred Kinsey (Liam Neeson) might be described as thoughtfully inconclusive. Apart from some unexaggerated notations about American puritanism in the 1940s and ’50s, it’s more a work of exploration than a thesis, and Condon mainly avoids sensationalism. The period detail is better than in most Hollywood movies, and the secondary cast (Laura Linney, Chris O’Donnell, Peter Sarsgaard, Timothy Hutton, John Lithgow, Tim Curry, Oliver Platt, and Dylan Baker) isn’t bad. R, 118 min. Century 12 and CineArts 6, Pipers Alley, River East 21, Wilmette.… Read more »