Adventures of Robin Hood
When Prince John (Claude Rains) and the Norman Lords begin oppressing the Saxon
masses in King Richard's absence, a Saxon lord (Errol Flynn) fights back as the
outlaw leader of a rebel guerrilla army.
This 1938 classic was one of the first full color movies, and has been
loved ever since. This version has been
carefully restored to the same brilliance as when it broke records in 1938.
Grounded with a desk job by incompetent superiors, a clever CIA agent retires
and writes a tell-all memoir that will embarrass his bosses, prompting him to
go on the run and elude them. In the process he hopscotches around the world in a hilarious adventure as he
plays Mozart to accompany his typing, assisted by an old flame.
Chariots of Fire
Two British track athletes, one a determined Jew (Ben Cross), and the other a
devout Christian (Ian Charleson), compete in the 1924 Olympics. Their struggles and conflicts build to a
climax as they board a steamship to cross the English Channel and bear the load
of preparations and tension under the pressure of world competition.
A psychiatrist (Billy Crystal), bored with his patients, finds himself forced
to take on a mob Godfather (Robert de Niro) as a patient who has suddenly
become soft and vulnerable in a world that solves differences with a gun. These
two worlds clash at the psychiatrist’s wedding and the mobster’s Mafia meeting
where weakness could prove fatal. The journey to a cure in these two worlds
creates unique humor.
A career thief (Clint Eastwood) witnesses a horrific crime involving the U.S.
President. To cover the crime the
President (Gene Hackman) uses his power over the FBI and other agencies in an
attempt to murder the thief and anyone he has contacted. You are shocked by how such power can
overwhelm opponents, but the thief outwits the President.
Driving Miss Daisy
An old Jewish woman (Jessica Tandy) and her African-American chauffeur (Morgan
Freeman) in the American South have a relationship that grows and improves over
the years. Freeman’s unique performance
and Tandy’s willful portrayal bring memorable comedy to the conflicted
demonstrations of tolerance and prejudice and ultimately long-lasting
friendship in this moving story.
The Goodbye Girl
After being dumped by her live-in boyfriend, an unemployed dancer (Marsha
Mason) and her 10-year-old daughter are reluctantly forced to live with a
struggling off-Broadway actor (Richard Dreyfuss). The actor’s noisy habits and strange behavior
irritate the dancer but eventually each shares in the struggles of the other as
the daughter is the first to fall in love with the actor, reluctantly by the
dancer because she fears being dumped again.
A jaded former jockey (Mickey Rooney) helps a young girl (Elizabeth Taylor)
prepare a wild but gifted horse for England's Grand National Sweepstakes. This classic movie exemplifies the homey
goodness of general-audience productions of the era, including Lassie Come Home
which introduced Taylor a year earlier.
North by Northwest
In this Alfred Hitchcock classic, a hapless New York advertising executive Roger
Thornhill (Cary Grant) is mistaken for a government agent by a group of foreign
spies headed by Philip Vandamm (James Mason), and is pursued across the country
while he looks for a way to survive. Thornhill
is thrust from one surprising threat to another until he survives a harrowing
climb down from atop the president monument on Mt. Rushmore with Mason’s
beautiful girlfriend (Eva Marie Saint).
Abstracts -- August
As lawyer Rozat [Rusty] Sabich (Harrison Ford) investigates the murder of
colleague Carolyn Polhemus (Greta Scacchi), he finds himself more connected to
the crime than anyone else. Tension
builds in this portrayal of Scott Turow’s* first novel as Rusty finds himself
accused of the crime, in part because of his romantic involvement with
Polhemus. Rusty’s wife has borne the
pain of this involvement and eventually the murder itself.
___*A student of famed Stanford writing teacher Wallace Stegner
Singin' in the Rain*
Long-time dancing partners Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) and Cosmo Brown (Donald
O’Conner) put on a mesmerizing show of comedy dancing virtuosity as Lockwood
fends off no-talent Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) and falls in love with upstart
Kathy Selden (teenage Debbie Reynolds).
Jean Hagen’s Lamont is hilarious as her scatterbrain struggles with the
introduction of talkies reveals Lamont’s squeaky voice, which must be replaced
by Selden’s dubbed voice.
___*I had no idea when I watched this, my first movie in Los Angeles after driving
from Chicago following graduation from Illinois Tech in 1952, that it would
become a premier classic of the Hollywood musical comedy era.
The Whole Nine Yards
Struggling dentist "Oz" Oseransky’s (Matthew Perry) life is
turned upside down when famous gangster Jimmy "The Tulip" Tudeski
(Bruce Willis) moves in next door, and his loathsome wife Sophie (Rosanna
Arquette) convinces him to inform a notorious mob boss about the gangster's
whereabouts. The hapless Oz is caught
between the murderous Tudeski and the mob boss as each plots to kill the
other. Eventually Oz sides with Tudeski
and uses his dental skills to hide the body as he falls in love with the mob
Grumpy Old Men
A lifelong feud between two neighbors since childhood only gets worse when a
new female neighbor moves across the street.
Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau take this inane plot and make it an
uproarious rampage through their comic talents, knocking over garbage cans
every time they stop at a bait shop for worms, tossing fish to rot in the
other’s car, dragging an ice fishing shack to thin ice and generally being a
thorn in the other’s side. Their deep
down love for each other comes out as Matthau saves Lemmon after he collapses
with a heart attack. Both perform crazy antics from beginning to end, amended
by gems from Burgess Meredith and sexy doings by Ann-Margret.
Two Weeks Notice
Harvard educated lawyer Lucy Kelson (Sandra Bullock) uses her career for social
activism. George Wade (Hugh Grant) is the suave public face of a development
firm that Lucy routinely opposes. Wade
has a reputation as a lady's man, with legal counsels a series of beautiful
female lawyers with questionable credentials who have acted more as his casual
sex partners. Needing a real lawyer, he
offers Lucy the job of his legal counsel on a chance meeting. Lucy, who has no intention of being the
latest of his bed partners, accepts the job as she feels she can do more good
from the inside. This oil and water
relationship gives rise to many humorous conflicts and ultimately a love
Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Seven elderly Britons, for a variety of reasons, respond to an online ad and
travel to Jaipur, India, where they find run-down hotel with a young,
exuberant, and optimistic host. Evelyn,
newly widowed, wants low-cost experience, Graham seeks a long-ago love, Douglas
and Jean have lost their pension in a family investment, Muriel needs cheap hip
surgery, Madge seeks a rich husband, and Norman is chasing women. India affects
each in different ways, enchanting Douglas and Evelyn while driving Jean deeper
into bitterness. Their host, young Sonny, has dreams but little cash or skill;
he also has a girlfriend whom his mother dismisses. Stories cross and
discoveries await each one. An outstanding
cast fills the film with belly laughs and pathos.
Water For Elephants
After his parents' death, veterinarian student Jacob Jankowski (Robert
Pattinson) is left penniless and homeless. Events lead him to joining the circus as their
vet, working under their unstable boss August (Christoph Walzt whose violent
tendencies give everyone reason to be cautious around him, including his
beautiful and quiet wife Marlena (Reese Whitherspoon), whom August is very
possessive of and who Jacob finds himself soon falling in love with.
When former journalist Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan) is dismissed from the
Labour Party in disgrace, he is at a loss as to what do. That changes when a
young Irish woman approaches him about a story of her mother, Philomena (Judy
Dench), who had her son taken away when she was a teenage inmate of a Catholic
convent. Martin arranges a magazine
assignment about her search for him that eventually leads to America. Along the way, Martin and Philomena discover
as much about each other as about her son's fate. Furthermore, both find their
basic beliefs challenged.
The Quiet Man
Sean Thornton (John Wayne) has returned from America to reclaim his homestead
and escape his past. Sean's eye is
caught by Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O’Hara), a beautiful but poor maiden, and
younger sister of ill-tempered "Red" Will Danaher (Victor McLaglen).
The riotous relationship that forms between Sean and Mary Kate, punctuated by
Will's pugnacious attempts to keep them apart, form the main plot, with Sean's
past as the dark undercurrent.
Abstracts -- September
Federal Agent Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) sets out to stop Al Capone
(Robert de Niro). To work around rampant corruption, he assembles
a small, hand-picked team, a Chicago beat cop (Sean Connery) among
them. With the team, Ness rapidly advances from abject failure to
a series of busts that threaten Capone’s grip on the city. Capone’s
most easily proven crime is Federal tax evasion, which the team
accomplishes with testimony from Capone’s bookkeeper. There is
much intrigue and mob-instigated violence on the way.
Alvy Singer (Woody Allen), a forty year old twice divorced, neurotic,
intellectual Jewish New York stand-up comic, reflects on the demise of
his latest relationship, to Annie Hall (Diane Keaton), an insecure,
flighty, Midwestern WASP aspiring nightclub singer. Alvy not only
reviews the many ups and downs of their relationship, but also reviews
the many facets of his makeup that led to him starting to date
Annie. Those facets include growing up next to Coney Island in
Brooklyn, being attracted to the opposite sex for as long as he can
remember, and enduring years of Jewish guilt with his constantly
arguing parents. Non-stop funny incidents and quips from
beginning to end.
In the Heat of the Night
Detective Virgil Tibbs is caught up in the racial tension of the US
South when he is arrested after the murder of a prominent
businessman. Tibbs was simply waiting for his next train at the
station in Sparta, Mississippi and the confusion is soon
resolved. But when local police chief Gillespie learns that Tibbs
is the Philadelphia PD's number one homicide expert, he reluctantly
asks for his assistance. The murdered man, Mr. Colbert, had come
to Sparta from the North to build a new factory and his wife and
business associates immediately point the finger at Endicott, the most
powerful man in the county and the one who had the most to lose if a
major new employer comes to the area. Tibbs' life is clearly in
danger but he perseveres in a highly charged and racially explosive
environment until the killer is found.
Professional photographer L.B. "Jeff" Jefferies breaks his leg while
getting an action shot at an auto race. Confined to his New York
apartment, he spends his time looking out of the rear window observing
the neighbors. He begins to suspect that a man across the
courtyard may have murdered his wife. Jeff enlists the help of
his high society fashion-consultant girlfriend Lisa Freemont and his
visiting nurse Stella to investigate.
Stuck as the last of six children at home with an overbearing Italian
mother, the only child still unmarried, 34 year old socially awkward
Bronx butcher Marty faces middle age with no prospects of
marriage. But when he is goaded by his mother into going to the
Stardust Ballroom one Saturday night, Marty unexpectedly meets Clara, a
lonely teacher. Suddenly, Marty's future seems bright.
The Long Hot Summer
Sixty-one year old widower Will Varner, in ill health, owns many
businesses and property in Frenchman's Bend, Mississippi, including a
plantation. His children are a disappointment to him, whom he
sees as not being able to carry on the Varner name. Son Jody
Varner has no ambition and does not work, spending much of his time
fooling around with his seductive wife, Eula. Twenty-three year old
daughter Clara Varner is clever but stuck with a weak suiter, genteel
mama's boy Alan. Into their lives comes Ben Quick, self assured
and aggressive, the man Clara needs and Jody should emulate.
Sparks fly as the characters sort things out.
Coal Miner’s Daughter
Biographical story of Loretta Lynn, a legendary country singer who came
from poverty to worldwide fame. She rose from humble beginnings
in Kentucky to superstardom while changing the sound and style of
country music forever. At only thirteen years of age, Loretta
Webb marries Doolittle Lynn and is soon responsible for a sizeable
family. Loretta appears destined to a life of homemaking
but Doolittle recognizes his wife's musical talent and buys her a
guitar as an anniversary present one year. At eighteen, the mother of
four children and busy housewife still finds time to write and sing
songs at small fairs and local honky-tonks. This gift sets Loretta Lynn
on the grueling, tumultuous path to superstardom and country music
Ray Keene (John Cusack), a father who wants to redeem himself in the
eyes of his son (Jamie Anderson), finds himself forced to bring Carden
(Morgan Freeman), a world-class assassin, to justice. All the
while, he must protect his son and evade the assassin's team who are
methodically hunting them down in the wilderness. Brilliant
acting and an entangled plot make for thrilling entertainment.
Abstracts -- October
Michael J. "Crocodile" Dundee (Paul Hogan) is an Australian crocodile
hunter who lives in the outback and runs a safari business with his
trusted friend and mentor Walter Reilly. After his surviving a
crocodile attack, a New York journalist named Sue (Linda Kozlowski)
arrives to interview Mick about how he survived and learns more about
the crocodile hunter. Their several adventures, including Mick
saving her from a crocodile attack, inspires Sue to invite Mick to
visit New York City, a new adventure for him. Mick finds the
culture and life in New York City vastly different from his home as he
falls in love with Sue. Many funny incidents occur during the
cross culture adventures in Australia and New York.
Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck) is a reporter for the American News Service
in Rome. He is caught in a lie by his boss after sleeping in and
missing an interview with HRH Princess Ann (Audrey Hepburn), who is on
a goodwill tour of Europe. However, he thinks he may have
stumbled upon a huge scoop. Princess Ann has officially called off all
her Rome engagements due to illness. He recognizes the photograph
of her as being the young simply dressed drunk woman he rescued off the
street last night, and who is still in his small studio apartment
sleeping off her hangover. Joe engages photographer friend Irving
Radovich (Eddie Albert) to secretly photograph the princess as he takes
her on an adventure-filled Roman holiday.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Brick (Paul Newman), an alcoholic ex-football player, drinks his days
away and resists the affections of his wife, Maggie (Elizabeth Taylor).
His reunion with his father, Big Daddy, who is dying of cancer, jogs a
host of memories and revelations for both father and son. Brick’s
position in the largely dysfunctional family is restored as suppressed
feelings burst out in a confrontation between father and son in a dying
fit of rage and love between the two.
The Pink Panther
Bumbling Inspector Clouseau (Steve Martin) must solve the murder of a
famous soccer coach and find out who stole the infamous Pink Panther
diamond. But the unlikelihood of his success is why he has been
assigned the case by Chief Inspector Dreyfus (Kevin Klein), so he can
swoop in and solve the case himself and thus gain the elusive best
inspector of the year award. However, his plot is thwarted by
Clouseau’s bumbling into solving the crime. In many ways the plot
and performances in this film outshine the classic 1963 Pink Panther
film starring Peter Sellers and David Niven.
On the Waterfront
Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) dreams about being a prize fighter, while
tending his pigeons and running errands at the docks for Johnny
Friendly (Lee J. Cobb), the corrupt boss of the dockers union. Terry
witnesses a murder by two of Johnny's thugs, and later meets the dead
man's sister (Eva Marie Saint) and feels responsible for his death. She
introduces him to Father Barry (Karl Malden), who persuades him to
provide information for the courts that will smash the dock racketeers.
What's the nature of being a parent and of being a child? David (John
Cusack) is a widower grieving for two years. He writes science fiction
and was considered weird as a boy. He meets Dennis (Bobby Coleman), a
foster child who claims to be on a mission from Mars, stays in a large
box all day, fears sunlight, and wears a belt of flashlight batteries
so he won't float away. David takes the six-year-old home on a trial.
His sister and his wife's best friend offer support, but the guys are
basically alone to figure this out. Dennis takes things, is expelled,
and is coached by David in being normal. Will the court approve the
adoption, and will Dennis stay? Can a man become a father and a child
become a son?
A couple of high achieving high school grads, Curt Henderson (Richard
Dreyfus) and class president Steve Bolander (Ron Howard), spend one
final night cruising the strip with their buddies before they go off to
college. The buddies are a cast of characters we all remember from the
50’s and 60’s, including odd ball Terry Fields (Charles Martin Smith),
blonde bombshell Debbie Dunham (Candy Clark) and hot rod king Bob Falfa
(Harrison Ford). The sound track is a collection of the era’s hits
played by real life disk jocky Wolfman Jack, who serves the plot in
person. I relive part of my Chicago life as Curt is taken hostage
by a local gang to pull a daring prank on a police car.
The Kingston Trio Story
This is a comprehensive documentary of the well known folk singing
group. It explores the trio’s history from before their first recording
in 1958 as a young group, to separations and replacements, and finally
re-assembling and family life in their mature years, all told by
experts in the field and by Bob Shane, the long-term anchor of the
group. It covers the group’s musical philosophy, work ethic, and
precision in pitch and timing that made their records best sellers and
led the trend to folk song groups as popular music. Throughout
the telling the video shows them playing many of their classics, like
“Tom Dooley”, “M.T.A.”, “A Worried Man”, “Where Have All the Flowers
Gone”, “Sloop John B”, and Bob Shane’s signature song “Scotch and Soda.”
Diana the 'People's Princess' has died in a car accident in Paris. The
Queen (Helen Mirren) and her family decide that for the best, they
should remain hidden behind the closed doors of Balmoral Castle. The
heartbroken public do not understand and request that the Queen comfort
her people. This also puts pressure on newly elected Tony Blair
(Michael Sheen), who constantly tries to convince the monarchy to
address the public. The multi-award winning film takes us behind the
scenes of the sad and touching event we all remember so well.