Cleaning Out The DVR #22: The Good Earth (dir by Sidney Franklin)

(For those following at home, Lisa is attempting to clean out her DVR by watching and reviewing 38 films by this Friday.  Will she make it?  Keep following the site to find out!)


The 1937 film The Good Earth is a strange one.

It’s a big, epic film about life in China in the years before World War I.  It opens with a poor farmer named Wang (Paul Muni) marrying a servant girl named O-Lan (Luise Rainer).  O-Lan is quiet but strong and, with her support, Wang eventually starts to prosper.  He buys land and they have children.  Together, Wang and O-Lan manage to survive both famine and a political upheaval.  In fact, it’s China’s volatile politics that occasionally allow the family to survive.  When a revolutionary mob loots a mansion, O-Lan joins in just long enough to come across a bag of diamonds that the Wang uses to eventually buy the biggest house in town.  Once he’s become wealthy and complacent, Wang ends up taking on a younger, second wife (Tilly Losch) and O-Lan finds herself competing for his attention.  Ultimately, it’s only when Wang is again forced to tend to the Earth that he understands what is really important.

So, here’s the weird thing about The Good Earth.  It’s a film about China.  It covers several years of Chinese history and the story itself is rooted in Chinese culture.  All of the characters are meant to be Chinese.  When the movie was filmed, China was at war with Japan so it’s not surprising that the film was shot in California.  But what is interesting (though not really surprising when you consider the history of Hollywood) is that there are very few Chinese people in the cast and none of them play any of the major roles.

Instead, Wang was played by Austria-born, Chicago-raised Paul Muni.  O-Lan was played by German Luise Rainer.  Wang’s comic relief uncle was played by American character actor Walter Connolly while his father was played by a former vaudeville star from Ohio named Charley Grapewin.  All of the actors are heavily made up so that they’ll look Chinese but none of them act or sound Chinese.  It makes for a very strange viewing experience.

And it’s a bit unfortunate because there are some very good scenes in The Good Earth.  Technically, it’s a very strong film.  Towards the end, there’s a locust invasion that is still thrilling to watch.  The sets look great.  The costumes look great.  If you’re a history nerd like me, the story has the potential to be interesting.  But, whenever you start to get sucked into the film’s story, Wang starts to speak and sounds totally like a guy from Chicago and it takes you out of the movie.  The uneven mix of quality and miscast actors makes for a rather disjointed viewing experience.

As a big epic, it’s probably not surprising that The Good Earth was nominated for best picture.  However, it lost to another Paul Muni film, The Life of Emile Zola.

Superman, Spider-Woman, Dallas, Badminton Brawling, and More! It’s Dariya Dil (1988, dir. K. Ravi Shankar)


When you first reach out on the Internet to find foreign knockoffs of American superheroes you will most likely come across something referred to as the Indian Superman and Spiderwoman. That movie is called Dariya Dil. Funny enough, there was a literal remake of Superman that came out one year prior to this from India as well. It was just called Superman, but is one of the many superhero knockoff movies for which I haven’t found English subtitles. However, every one of the mentions of this movie that I have seen appear to have been written by people who have only seen just the Superman and Spiderwoman scene. They will even reference the IMDb plot summary, which doesn’t even mention Superman or Spiderwoman, as if they are in disbelief that it could be the right movie. The plot summary is right, and so are the people who talk about how great the superhero scene is in the movie. Yet, they both don’t do justice to this film. I hope I can. I also have linked to the full film at the end of this review. Thanks to Shemaroo Films, at the time of writing this, it is up on YouTube legally. I’m sorry about the black bars in my screenshots. That’s where YouTube puts the tiny subtitles. I normally work around this for review purposes, but this was not one that made it easy.


The movie starts out and we are introduced to the hero of the film named Ravi who is played Govinda. He’s here to tell his Dad named Dhaniram (Kader Khan) that he needs to cut back on the sugar so that we know he is the son who listens to his Dad.


You can think of the Dad in this as Larry Hagman from Dallas. Although, he won’t get shot like J.R.

Now Ravi goes to wake one of his brothers and sisters-in-law.


I love the dialog that leads up to that line about her neck-ache. Ravi tells them that God grants wishes to early risers. Sapna (Shoma Anand) says that her husband is an image of God, but that regardless of telling him three hundred times a day about the pain in her neck, he doesn’t help. Her husband says that the treatment for her neck is very expensive. Don’t feel bad though because the treatment is “just an ordinary diamond necklace.” This is when the film makes it clear that other than Ravi, the rest of the family is going to be scheming against Dad. Also, we find out that the father apparently has a lot of money he is sitting on.

After Ravi wakes his brother Ajay (Shashi Puri), we cut to the family factory of Shani Ram & Co.


Since there is a boombox onscreen at this point, it’s as a good a time as any to mention the music in this movie. I don’t mean the musical numbers, but the score. There are two noteworthy things about it. First, it has odd timing to say the least. Sometimes it makes sense, but other times it will get all dramatic even though something very minor has happened on screen. Sometimes I swear nothing happens, but the music doesn’t seem to know that fact. I’m sure they were doing this on purpose because the only other movie I have seen that tries harder to make fun of soap operas is Soapdish (1991).

The second thing is the choice of scores. Often it sounds like this almost futuristic synthesizer music. It kept reminding me of background music I would hear in the Trancers movies. Like everything else in this movie, the score is very 80’s.

Back to the movie. This guy has come in to do his Saturday Night Live audition. He tells Dhaniram that he is his A.D.S. (Asrani) By that he means assistant-driver-secretary. He explains that since he does three jobs, he should be getting three salaries. It’s pretty funny as Dhaniram explains that he actually is just an assistant who knows driving and can do the job of a secretary. Thus, it’s only one job in reality.


The main plot line for this movie is how the father appears to be very greedy with his money, but actually will turn out to be a good guy. He just doesn’t throw his money around for no reason, and isn’t afraid if people want to call him a miser. Heck, he’ll even proudly accept an award as “the king of misers.”


The soap opera of the scheming family and rich Dad continues at home. Then it cuts to an office where a guy hands Ajay some money. Then dramatic zoom…


and abrupt cut to the horse track.


This movie has a thing for abrupt cuts. Apparently, the wipe transition was not in the director’s cinematic vocabulary. Well, he does use one late in the movie. I’m not sure where it came from, but it’s there. The rest of the time scenes will just end. It’s kind of like getting a jump scare each time the scene needs to change. When you add that to everything else in this movie, I love it!

Ajay took the money to the track and lost it. So he does what any irresponsible person would do. He uses the old terrorists beat me up and took the money routine.


Those are the actual subtitles. I don’t know what I like better. The fact that he actually says terrorists took the money. His brother’s yellow-jacket sweater. Nope, it’s the comedy routine that Dhaniram and his A.D.S. go into about what actually happened. I really enjoy how the father says we need to make sure we really know exactly who these “looters” were. Were they “terrorists, extremists, activists, optimists or pessimists?” Dhaniram and his A.D.S. go into cricket umpire mode so that they will remain unbiased.


This is when A.D.S. and other members of the family launch into a standup performance before stripping Ajay of his fake bandages. Cut!


A littler earlier in the movie we met Radha (Kimi Katkar) on a bus. She will be our heroine for the movie. She’s the future Spiderwoman and Indian Natlie Wood. There’s a West Side Story (1961) musical number and one that appears to reference Splendor in the Grass (1961), so why not? This is the scene of the badminton match between Ravi and the guy Radha came with who is determined to take Ravi down. Let’s cut to the chase. Ravi finds out that an iron ball has been put inside the shuttle cork. It’s on, and I think the filmmakers might have seen Turkish Star Wars.





And cut! Cut to what? Why Singin’ In The Rain (1952) of course!





I’m sure the fact that the jacket resembles the one Michael Jackson wore in Thriller is a total coincidence. The musical numbers in this are actually pretty good. It helps a lot that Shemaroo Films bothered to give us subtitles on the songs. I’m pretty sure that every old Bollywood movie I’ve watched never bothered to do that. Can you imagine watching something like The Sound of Music (1965) without subtitles on any of the songs?

As soon as Ravi is literally strung up with rope, it cuts back to more family scheming. Two of the brothers decide to hatch a plan to get at their father’s wealth. Now we meet D.O. Gogi, the shady Doggie Income Tax Officer.


The Dad will refer to him as Doggie later on in the movie. The brothers tell him that their Dad has a bunch of “black money”. Apparently, by turning him in they will get 10% of it. Doggie tries to get a bribe out of the Dad, and he agrees to it. I love how it instantly cuts from Doggie turning to leave the room to Doggie waiting at a construction site for his money. No wasted time in Dariya Dil! Dad shows up, Doggie takes his money, and the cops arrest Doggie. Scene!

Oh, before I continue. Earlier in the movie when we first met Radha, there was a little sequence on a bus. Dariya Dil breaks the fourth wall a few times, and…


the first time it does it, it’s kind enough to hold up four fingers to make sure you get it. I bring it up because Ravi needs to complain in the next scene about the “his” room being occupied.


Ravi decides he has no choice and goes into the “her” room. Of course Radha is in there. If you watch Dariya Dil, then you will often find yourself saying, “Well, of course that just happened. Of course!” Such as these wonderful lines about being intoxicated by urine.


She initially freaks out, but Ravi isn’t going to put up with her backwards bathroom rules. He goes into fast motion to get past her, and then ah!


Once again, of course, he comes out of the bathroom to find Radha is still there because the two of them are locked in the department store. I’m sure that if this movie came out after 1991, then it would have found some way to reference the Frank Whaley/Jennifer Connelly locked in a Target store movie called Career Opportunities. Instead, she threatens him with a sword, then falls asleep next to it. She has a bad dream that he gets drunk, and tries to take advantage of her. She wakes up to find that it’s not a good idea to go to bed next to a sword where you can easily pick up the blade by mistake. He bandages her hand and of course…


Superman and Spiderwoman costumes are hanging right next to them. This is the part of the film that has made it famous. I’ll try to give you some highlights.






Then like everything else in the movie, it suddenly cuts to the next scene. This is when I’d say the soap opera portion kicks into high gear. Up till now it’s been rather comical, but it’s going to get a bit more serious. By that, I mean more scheming children. However, we now find out that the father is anything but a miser when A.D.S. catches him coming out of the post office with a bunch of money orders. The father has his reasons for keeping it a secret. A.D.S. respects him for it. This is when we really know the Dad is a good guy, and does have money.

Need more no nonsense, no time wasted material? We find out now that Ajay is going to get married to a pink lady.


This means a letter needs to be written to Dhaniram’s brother in London. Cut to plane, and boom! He’s there.


I’m not sure which one of these outfits on the girls are worse. That one, or…


this one earlier. While the men’s outfits aren’t much better, the women’s outfits in this movie are so 80’s it hurts. After a few more scenes, we get one I honestly thought meant these two girls were going to turn out to be lesbians.


The dialog here, the way these two ladies act, and that this scene comes after all the crazy stuff we’ve already talked about really had me thinking that could be a possibility. In fact, considering a musical number later in the film, I’m surprised they didn’t turn out to be lesbians. In reality, they are two ladies that are going to also be plotting against the Dad through the Mom. Oh, and it will only take a foot massage in the scene immediately following this one for the scene immediately following that one to be Mom going to Dad in order to get money for the kids from him. Again, it’s No Time Wasted Dariya Dil!

This is when Dhaniram goes into super-dramatic mode.


He finally takes us inside the prayer room. This is where the father allegedly was sitting on a bunch of money like he was the guy Rainbow was referring to in their song Man On The Silver Mountain. Inside, we find it empty except for a few keepsakes. He picks up the items and gives the backstory on them. He in fact calls his family to come forward and share this wealth with him that he worships. I mentioned it before, but let me elaborate here. The film is as much about the father as it is about his children learning not only about their father and his principles, but also why their father is hesitant to just hand out money to them.

The mother continues her pleading. Dhaniram does give in. He gives his sons money to start their own businesses. Ravi is the only one who doesn’t accept it. He tells his father that his lessons are the wealth he has given him. Just as we have this tender moment between father and son…


the movie instantly cuts to…


a woman vomiting. Talk about ruining the moment. This is to tell us she is pregnant. I would show you just how fast we get to her having this baby, but there are some very crucial scenes in between.

First, we get a staged show put on to make Doggie look good by rescuing the brothers from a bad deal. Doggie was bailed out by his brother. A brother that is marrying into the family. One of the girls, who is Doggie’s sister, is also marrying into the family. I think. It gets confusing as any good soap opera should. The point is that Dad catches them all having a conversation about the fake bad business deal. He confronts them. We get this reaction from Doggie.


That’s all you really have to know about this part.  Now we cut to Dhaniram pulling up to help some people stranded on the side of the road. He doesn’t see that they are waiting for him. This happens to him.


See! I keep my promises. He did not get shot like J.R. He was stabbed instead, then tossed in the water to die. Totally different!

After a few scenes to tell us everyone is still dirty and the bad guys have taken control of the family, the baby is born.


In terms of runtime, it’s only a few minutes after we found out she was pregnant in the first place.

Now we cut to a funeral/baby shower? I don’t know. However, we get this scene.


Believe it or not, this movie had me wondering what crazy stuff would happen to the point that I didn’t even notice the major clues this movie was dropping about who shot J.R. … I mean stabbed Dhaniram.

Ravi takes his mother away to a house run by his uncle. He finds that it’s actually a home his Dad funded to help the “old and helpless.” Rhana shows up to support the mother.

Now we get an even more random musical number than the Singin’ In The Rain one. It starts with who I believe is a college teacher talking to himself about whether Shakuntala or Vasantsena was more beautiful. I’ve taken a course in both Comparative Religion and Religion in Early India, but I have no clue who they are. Doesn’t matter because he discovers Ravi and Rhana under a tree. Then the Splendor in the Grass musical number begins.



That then goes to a ugly sweater and flamingo dance.


Then it finally settles on whatever the heck he’s wearing and one of the few non-Sari women’s outfits that I like in this movie


Now we cut to the factory to find that when the workers complain, then Doggie whips them with his belt.


It’s been awhile since I watched Ran (1985), but I do remember the lady near the end who goes on a vicious rant about how much she hates the family before they behead her. I would not be surprised if this film is also borrowing from King Lear. Sadly, I have never read the play. My only exposure is through Kurosawa. Ravi witnesses this so…


the movie is now Norma Rae (1979), The Working Class Goes To Heaven (1971), Sister Stella L. (1984). Take your pick.

The bad guys try to shut down the house for the helpless. Not sure if they are sucessful or not. A.D.S. seems to show up to stop it after Ravi puts up an actually fight. Doesn’t matter because this happens next.


Dhaniram shows up and is alive! I guess he was pretending to be his brother during this time. I don’t recall seeing the brother after he showed up initially. Doesn’t matter cause Dad is back. He comforts his wife, then goes to visit Ravi as his brother. However, Ravi sees right through it. He knows it’s his father. He tells him so, and they hug. But if you think actor Kader Khan is going to give up a chance to play the flamboyant brother some more, then you are wrong. No, we finally get Dhaniram actually saying what I have been saying from the beginning. “D.O. Gogi? You mean doggie?”


He takes it further too. After doggie corrects him, Dhaniram doesn’t care, and says it sounds better that way. Every dog needs a collar!


Dhaniram has a great idea for Doggie. He tells him that to combat Ravi, he should kiss up to the workers. He tries to do just that.

Now comes the final, and most bizarre musical number in the film. It’s the West Side Story one. Ravi is wandering down the street when he is confronted by a gang out to get him.


Boy! Ravi is in trouble. If the fact that a posse of cisgender women, transgender women, and Radha show up to rescue him doesn’t surprise you, then I have done justice to how crazy this movie is.

They do a combination of an advocation of non-violence while gladly humiliating these guys by drawing on their homophobia and transphobia to make them squirm.




They even dress up one of the guys as a woman and make him ride a mule like the jackass he is.



The remainder of this film can basically be described as the father using his business skills and his inner circle to bring down Doggie. His sons are ultimately left in ruin. However, this is when the Dad reveals to them that he is still alive. The father doesn’t oust them or anything. He reunites his family.


The brothers finally get the point there father was trying to get across to them. The father also seems to have learned that maybe he was a little too hard on everyone when it came to his ideals. This is also when we find out that the sons didn’t know about how their father died. Of course it was Doggie.


Ravi and family bring him to justice. Even Doggie’s sister is redeemed. Earlier in the film after she was in the poor house, she came to her brothers. They pretended like they didn’t even know her. They weren’t there when she needed them, so she sure does the same thing to them when they need her. They kind of had to do this with the story. I mean the message of the film would have felt a little funny if the woman with Dad’s grandchild was kicked to the curb.

With the story over, the remaining cast kindly poses for the ending title card.


That’s the end! That’s Dariya Dil! It’s a movie known for a short musical number that happens to feature Superman and Spiderwoman. It’s a movie that has an ultimately simple story about selfless charity and not taking the easy path to wealth. Especially when taking that path hurts others, family or otherwise. It’s also a movie that is filled with so many other things that make it so worth watching. I really enjoyed this film. I might come across another one of these foreign superhero movies that I’ll like, but I don’t think any of them will top this.

Here is the full film. Not sure why they felt the need to disable embedding, but they did.

Cleaning Out The DVR #21: Wuthering Heights (dir by William Wyler)

(For those following at home, Lisa is attempting to clean out her DVR by watching and reviewing 38 films by this Friday.  Will she make it?  Keep following the site to find out!)


Check out the film poster above and ask yourself, “Was the 1939 version of Wuthering Heights a love story or a horror movie?”

Because, seriously, the poster above looks like it belongs to a horror movie, doesn’t it?  You’ve got beautiful Merle Oberson looking concerned.  And then looming behind her, you’ve got a wild-eyed Laurence Olivier, staring at her with a possessive stare.  The sky above is overcast and there’s a hint of the desolate landscape in the background.  Right under Olivier and Oberon, there’s another picture of two men holding back another man while a woman stares on in shock.  It looks perfectly horrific, does it not?

Well, Wuthering Heights is not a horror movie, though it certainly opens like one, with a traveling stranger named Lockwood (Miles Mander) seeking shelter in a menacing mansion and then later witnessing a ghostly woman walking across the moors.  The master of the estate is the rude and brusque Heathcliff (Laurence Olivier) who, after presenting himself as being cold and unconcerned with Lockwood, gets quite emotional when he sees the woman on the moors.  After the woman calls to him, Heathcliff runs out into the storm to be with her.  It’s only after this that Lockwood learns the story Heathcliff and Cathy Earnshaw (Merle Oberon).

The film flashes back to 40 years earlier.  Heathcliff is found on the streets by Mr. Earnshaw (Cecil Kellaway) and is brought home to live on his estate, Wuthering Heights, along with his children, Cathy and Hindley (Hugh Williams).  Cathy and Heathcliff grow close and, at they grew up, they eventually become lovers.  However, the arrogant Hindley resents Heathcliff and, after Mr. Earnshaw dies, he does everything that he can to split Cathy and Heathcliff apart.

One night, while Cathy and Heathcliff are out walking together, they come across a party being given by the wealthy Linton family.  While Cathy is immediately attracted to the Lintons and their wealth, Heathcliff resents them.  When Edgar Linton (David Niven sans mustache) starts to court Cathy, Heathcliff runs away and disappears for two years.

When Heathcliff returns, he is now wealthy and, on the surface at least, he has given up his wild ways.  However, he discovers that Edgar and Cathy are now married.  Heathcliff buys Wuthering Heights from the now alcoholic Hindley and soon, he has married Edgar’s innocent sister, Isabella (Geraldine Fitzgerald).  Heathcliff and Cathy claim to no longer love one another but, of course, we all know better…

Wuthering Heights is definitely a love story.  In fact, it could be argued that it is the love story.  Every gothic romance novel ever written owes a debt to Emily Bronte’s original novel.  In some ways, the 1939 film is a rather loose adaptation of that novel.  For one thing, Cathy and Heathcliff are childless in the film whereas their children played a major role in the second half of the novel.  As well, Isabella’s fate is different in the film (and that’s fine with me because Isabella was always my favorite character).  But, even if it does make changes to the plot, the film stay true to the novel’s soul.

It’s a great film, full of atmosphere, romance, and melancholy.  Director William Wyler, who was one of the best directors of Hollywood’s golden age, keeps the story moving at a compelling pace and Oberon and Olivier are about as perfect a Heathcliff and Cathy as you could hope for.  (For lovers of old movies, it’s also interesting to see David Niven playing such an earnest and ultimately clueless character.  Poor Edgar!)

Wuthering Heights was one of the many great films to be released in 1939.  It was nominated for best picture but it lost to Gone With The Wind.  Interestingly enough, Gone With The Wind starred Olivier’s lover (and soon-to-be wife) Vivien Leigh.  Originally, Leigh was offered the role of Isabella in Wuthering Heights but, desiring to play Cathy, she turned it down.  When Olivier came to the States to play Heathcliff, he left Leigh behind in London but she would soon join him in Hollywood after she was cast as Scarlett O’Hara.


Cleaning Out The DVR #20: Tom Jones (dir by Tony Richardson)

(For those following at home, Lisa is attempting to clean out her DVR by watching and reviewing 38 films by this Friday.  Will she make it?  Keep following the site to find out!)


Oh, how I wanted to love Tom Jones!

No!  Not that Tom Jones.

I’m talking about Tom Jones, the British film from 1963.  Based on a novel by Henry Fielding, Tom Jones was a huge box office success and it was one of the few comedies to ever win the Oscar for best picture.  Whenever you watch a documentary about the British invasion of the early 60s, chances are that you’ll see at least a clip or two from Tom Jones.  The film (or perhaps I should say the film’s box office success) is a part of 60s pop history, right up there with The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show and Sean Connery shooting that guy in cold blood in Dr. No.

Up until last night, I had heard about Tom Jones but I had never seen it.

And I really wanted to love it.

The film takes place in 18th century England and it tells the story of young Tom Jones (Albert Finney).  It starts with a lengthy sequence that plays out like a silent film, complete with title cards.  Upright Squire Allworthy (George Devine) comes home and discovers that a baby has been left in his bed.  He assumes that the child was born to two of his servants and declares that he will raise Tom Jones to be a good and worthy man.

Two decades later, Tom Jones has grown up and now he’s being played by Albert Finney (who, it must be said, was quite a handsome man when he was young).  Because Tom is good-looking and kind-hearted, every woman in England lusts after him.  But Tom is in love with innocent Sophie Western (Susannah York).  However, Sophie is a member of the upper class and Tom is a “bastard,” at a time when that actually means something.

Indeed, Sophie’s aunt and uncle (played by Edith Evans and Hugh Griffith) demand that Sophie have nothing to do with Tom Jones.  They decide that she will marry Blifil (David Warner, young but already typecast as a villain).  Through clever lies and manipulations, Blifil convinces Squire Allworthy that Tom has turned bad and must therefore be exiled from his home.  Does Blifil want to get rid of Tom just so he can marry Sophie or is it possible that there’s more to Blifil’s scheming?

Before we get the answer to that question, we spend a while following the exiled Tom as he wanders around England and attempts to prove himself worthy of Sophie.  Along the way, Tom serves briefly in the army, gets into numerous fights, and has several affairs.  One of those affairs is with Mrs. Walters (Joyce Redman), who he briefly thinks might be his mother.  Eventually, Tom ends up as the lover to the decadent Lady Bellaston (Joan Greenwood).  Through Blifil’s scheming, he also ends up framed for attempted murder and facing the gallows…

And, as melodramatic as that may all sound, Tom Jones is definitely a comedy.  It doesn’t take itself seriously and there’s hardly a single scene that isn’t played for laughs.  Director Tony Richardson goes out of his way to make sure that you never forget that you’re watching a movie.  There are freeze frames.  There’s plenty of characters around to supply sarcastic commentary.  There’s even a few cases of fourth wall breaking.

As I watched Tom Jones, it was hard for me not to compare it to Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon.  After all, both films take place during the same period of time and both deal with a young man making his way through European society.  I would even argue that, in its way, Barry Lyndon is far more satirical than Tom Jones.  The main difference between the two films is that Barry Lyndon is all about subtext whereas everything that happens in Tom Jones happens right on the surface.

As I said, I really wanted to like Tom Jones but, seen today, the entire film seems to be trying a little bit too hard.  Tony Richardson’s direction is so manic that it gets a bit exhausting after a while.  That said, I can understand why the film was such a success when it was first released.  I’m sure in 1963 — after having to deal with decades of pompous costume dramas — viewers probably found Tom Jones to be a breath of fresh air.  Not only was it a British film released at a time when all things British were in style but it was also a film that, by the standards of 1963, dealt frankly with sex.  In short, Tom Jones is definitely a film of its time.  If it doesn’t hold up as well today, that’s because it wasn’t made for 2016.  It was made for 1963.

And obviously, if the judgment of the Academy is to be trusted, Tom Jones was the perfect film for 1963.  That said, I would have given best picture to another British film, From Russia With Love.

Steampunk Disney: 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA (Walt Disney Productions 1954)

cracked rear viewer


When TCM aired this movie last week, I just had to watch. It was one of my favorites as a kid, and I was curious to see how well it held up with the passage of time. To my delight, 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA is even more enjoyable in adulthood, a joyous sci-fi adventure film thanks to the fine cast and the genius of Walt Disney.


Based on the Jules Verne novel, 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA takes us back to 1868, where rumors of a sea monster attacking ships are running rampant. Eminent scientist Professor Aronnax and his protégé’ Counseil are invited to join a voyage to investigate the matter, along with the free-spirited harpoonist Ned Land. They encounter the beast and are shipwrecked, only to discover the monster is actually a fantastic, futuristic submarine, The Nautilus. The sub is commanded by Captain Nemo, who picks up Aronnax, Counseil, and…

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4 Shots From 4 Films: Cleopatra, The Fall of the Roman Empire, Caligula, Titus

4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films is all about letting the visuals do the talking.

Welcome to a special Ides of March edition of 4 Shots From 4 Films.  These 4 shots are taken from 4 diverse films about the Roman Empire (which, of course, was a direct result of events that occurred long ago on the Ides of March).

4 Shots From 4 Films

Cleopatra (1963, directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz)

Cleopatra (1963, directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz)

The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964, dir by Anthony Mann)

The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964, dir by Anthony Mann)

Caligula (1979, dir by Tinto Brass, et al)

Caligula (1979, dir by Tinto Brass, et al)

Titus (1999, dir by Julie Taymor)

Titus (1999, dir by Julie Taymor)