Film Four & Film Four +1 08-07-08.

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Film Four +1 SID8330 VPID2332 APID2333 Eng

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Carmen Jones
(1954) The tale of the cigarette-maker Carmen and the Spanish cavalry soldier Don Jose translated into a modern-day parachute factory worker and a GI.Otto Preminger directs an all African-American cast in a 1950s update of Bizet's opera 'Carmen'. Stars Dorothy Dandridge and Harry Belafonte
Carmen Jones The original Broadway musical of Carmen Jones was a hit in the mid 1940s: the novelty of an all African-American cast coupled with lyrics from Oscar Hammerstein (also responsible for Carousel and Oklahoma!) proved a big enough draw to convince Fox to fund this lavish widescreen version directed by Preminger. The title performance by Dorothy Dandridge made her the first black woman to gain an Oscar nomination. Sadly, the rest of the film stinks. The story of 'Carmen' is transplanted to contemporary America. The cigarette maker Carmen becomes a sassy street-wise worker in a parachute factory, while Spanish cavalry soldier Don Jose is here a GI called Joe who is about to go to flying school. Joe has a steady girlfriend Cindy Lou (the simpering James), but he's also being chased by the predatory Carmen. "She's what the folks back home would call a hot bundle," says Cindy in a typically clumsy piece of exposition.
Initially Joe ignores Carmen's lusty advances, but a ride in a Jeep and a few songs later he's all hers. In a supposed fit of anger (though it's hard to tell given Belafonte's monotone acting) he whacks a sergeant and destroys his military career, heading off to live in a slum with Carmen. She, however, soon grows tired of being "cooped up" with Joe and shacks up with wealthy boxer Husky Miller (Adams, who has plenty of swagger, but is utterly one-dimensional). Joe wants her back and the scene is set for tragedy.

The Man in Grey
(1943) Classic Gainsborough costume melodrama set in the 18th century, following the fortunes of two old school friends.Period bodice-ripper starring Margaret Lockwood and Phyllis Calvert, with James Mason in full-on cad mode as a sadistic 18th century nobleman
James Mason had been working hard in various supporting roles throughout the second half of the 1930s, but during World War II (when he was a conscientious object) he began to get lead roles. In 1942, he starred in what is considered to be the first of the Gainsborough melodramas - The Man In Grey. It made a star of Mason, who would reteam with leading lady Margaret Atwood for further Gainsborough melodramas, notably 1945's The Wicked Lady. After only a few more films he would cross the pond and become a major Hollywood star. The Man In Grey wasn't popular among critics on its initial release, but it was a smash hit, becoming one of the year's 10 biggest films at the UK box office. Although the picture has bookends set during the present - at the height of the Blitz - for the most part it is set during the 18th century, and must have provided a welcome dose of escapism for wartime audiences.
The prologue involves the last remaining member of the Rohan family, Lady Clarissa (Calvert), attending an auction of her estate's goods. There, she meets a pilot Rokeby (Granger) whose ancestor supposedly loved her ancestor in the 18th century. This, of course, is the story that forms the main body of the film. In flashback we meet the earlier Clarissa (also Calvert), who befriends impoverished Hester (Lockwood) at finishing school. However, a gypsy fortune teller warns Clarissa that remaining friends with Hester will bring her ill fortune. The young women go there separate ways, but their friendship resumes years later, when Clarissa is trapped in a loveless marriage with the sophisticated but cold-hearted Lord Rohan (Mason) and Hester is treading the boards as an actress.

(1955) Based on the novel by Dan Cushman, this Western sees Sterling Hayden as a lumberman who returns home to find his father murdered.Sterling Hayden and David Brian compete for Vera Ralston and a valuable patch of Montana forestry in Joseph Kane's strapping period action melodrama
Paramount used to promote Sterling Hayden as 'The Most Beautiful Man In The Movies', but you wouldn't offer him quiche. The part time movie star was also a renowned sea captain, a decorated war hero, a tax evader, the sire of six children and the owner of a liver as tough as his jaw. He hated acting, only taking roles to pay for his next ocean-going vessel. Of his own films he would write, "Bastards, most of them, conceived in contempt of life and spewn out... with noxious ballyhoo; saying nothing, contemptuous of the truth, sullen and lecherous." If you had the balls to argue with him, you wouldn't use Timberjack to prove your point. Republic Pictures' period action piece, set in Montana's lumber industry during the 1890s, is melodramatic, highly unlikely and eminently throwaway. Or, to put it another way, it's 94 minutes of great afternoon entertainment.
Hayden plays Tim Chipman, the vengeful son of a murdered Montana forester who returns home to punish his father's killer, rescue the family business and win the hand of childhood sweetheart Lynne Tilton (Ralston). It's a big ask, made only slightly easier by the fact that in all three cases, Tim's nemesis is the same guy - crafty Croft Brunner (Brian).

A Walk in the Clouds
(1995) Paul Sutton returns home after World War II to a wife he married the day before he left.Reeves does a fine job as the married soldier returning home from war to be with the wife he hardly knows. He meets unmarried but pregnant Sanchez-Gijon and agrees to pretend to be her husband for a day so her traditionally minded father (Giannini) won't abandon her. But the two actually fall in love and have to find some way of reconciling their marital difficulties. Reeves uses his shy charm to great effect, allowing the passion to come from Sanchez-Gijon and Giannini. Some spell binding images keep the romance alive, but the film loses its magic in the last 15 minutes.

Mean Machine
(2001) Vinnie Jones plays a footballer banged up for throwing a crucial game.In a high security prison, a disgraced former England football captain is forced into organising a cons versus warders soccer game. Vinnie Jones headlines the comedy-drama remake of the 1970s Burt Reynolds vehicle
Mean Machine It must have seemed like such a good idea. Surfing on a wave of Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch-fuelled new lad hysteria, what could be better than remaking a minor classic that starred the archest lad of them all, Burt Reynolds? What could be better? How about sticking your fingers in a light socket? In Robert Aldrich's 1974 original (also known as The Longest Yard), Reynolds was an American football player chucked out of the game for cheating and then banged up in chokey after getting drunk and hitting a policeman. In the remake, Jones is a disgraced England football captain (booted out for fixing a match between England and Germany), but the rest of the set-up is pretty much the same. As are most of the characters and great lumps of the dialogue. The main difference is that the Reynolds version worked, and this doesn't.
Why? Well, the original managed to keep a healthy balance between comedy and drama. It was a bit of a potboiler but it never sacrificed believability to the extent that all tension died nor ramped up the prison grittiness to the point that the laughs seemed uncomfortable. The Jones remake manages to do both, rattling unconvincingly between Scum-style nastiness and ham-fisted slapstick. By the time the climactic football match trudges into sight, there isn't enough aimless mugging and desperate stylistic changes in the world to recapture an audience already mentally compiling tomorrow's shopping list.

The Deer Hunter
(1978) Michael Cimino's devastating depiction of the emotional fallout from the Vietnam war.Opening with a wedding and ending with a funeral, Michael Cimino's Vietnam odyssey takes three Pennsylvania steelworkers to hell and back. Starring Robert De Niro, the film introduced cinemagoers to Christopher Walken and Meryl Streep
The Deer Hunter It takes a true visionary to see exactly how the times are a-changing. In the latter half of the 1970s, with only Thunderbolt And Lightfoot (1974) to his name, Michael Cimino approached the Hollywood studios with his pitch for The Deer Hunter. They all baulked, unconvinced that the American cinema-going public was ready to see the recent wounds of Vietnam reopened. Unconcerned, Cimino secured financial backing outside the usual channels by turning to Britain's EMI, and then took further decisions that, at least at the time, seemed crazy: making the film last a whopping three hours (with a Russian Orthodox wedding sequence near the film's beginning matching the length of all the war scenes in the middle), and placing alongside his established star Robert De Niro an ensemble of relative or total unknowns, as well as John Cazale, whose cancer meant there was a real risk that he would not live to complete his final part (in fact he died shortly after the production ended).
The rest is history. The Deer Hunter swept the board at film awards ceremonies, was a phenomenon at the box-office, and launched the cinematic careers of newcomers Meryl Streep and Christopher Walken. The reasons behind its great success are easy enough to see: it boasts extraordinarily nuanced performances from what is, at least in retrospect, a dream cast; it is technically very accomplished, without once seeming flashy or ringing false; and it manages to root its grand epic themes in a compellingly intimate human drama. The Deer Hunter is, in short, a deserved classic.