Daily Archives: October 21, 2007

Radioland Murders

Unmitigated torture, this frenetic effort to interface comedy and mystery with an uninformed postmodernist tribute to radio in its heyday suggests at times what 1941 might have been like if it had been directed by a runaway lawn mower. My first impulse is to spare Mel Smith, the credited director, if only because his work on The Tall Guy was light and funny, and instead blame George Lucas (credited with the story) and his writers (Howard the Duck’s Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz, along with Jeff Reno and Ron Osborn). But however you slice it, this festival of noise and activity about the launching of an imaginary fourth national radio network in 1939 bears scant relation to the way live radio shows were actually produced, and its overstuffed repertory of characters and interrupted or abbreviated acts is so choppy that most of the participants involved or evoked are more insulted than honored. (Spike Jones, for one, must be rolling in his grave, making a much lovelier sound and image than this movie’s sour pastiche.) Among the on-screen victims are Mary Stuart Masterson, Brian Benben, Ned Beatty, Michael Lerner, Stephen Tobolowsky, Christopher Lloyd, Scott Michael Campbell, Michael McKean, Jeffrey Tambor, Corbin Bernsen, Bobcat Goldthwait, Brion James, and George Burns.… Read more »

Love Affair

Warren Beatty’s pious, academic remake of Leo McCarey’s 1939 masterpiece, which starred Charles Boyer and Irene Dunne and was remade by McCarey himself in 1957 as An Affair to Remember, with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr. As love stories both were examples of Hollywood’s best, but each was tied so closely to its period and to McCarey’s personality that this 1994 version seems bent out of shape in comparison. Starring Beatty and his wife Annette Bening, it eliminates all the references to Catholicism, gives the playboy hero an occupation (former football star turned sportscaster), and adds some self-referential details about Beatty as an aging, well-to-do bedroom hopper who decides to go straight after he meets the love of his life, none of which helps much. Beatty’s performance in particular seems flat and uninflected compared to Boyer’s and Grant’s. The credited director is Glenn Gordon Caron, but Beattywho produced, collaborated with Robert Towne on adapting the original (by McCarey, Mildred Cram, Donald Ogden Stewart, and Delmer Daves), and controlled the final cutseems responsible for the overall dullness of this vanity production. Katharine Hepburn was nudged out of retirement to play the hero’s aunt in one moving and pivotal scene, but most of the rest is fancy filler.… Read more »