OH! WHAT A LOVELY WAR (Richard Attenborough, 1969)

This elephantine, star-studded production, based on Joan Littlewood’s theatrical series of satirical antiwar sketches, was actor Richard Attenborough’s official directorial debut. Despite its best film Golden Globe, Oh! What a Lovely War is sufficiently shallow and obtuse that Littlewood had her name removed from the credits. It is a soulless, insufferable, bloated thing.      A lavish, […]

CARRIE (William Wyler, 1952)

Victor Milner’s gray, faded black-and-white cinematography suits the mood of Theodore Dreiser’s turn-of-the-century urban naturalism in his dense, painstaking Sister Carrie, from whose title Hollywood excised the first word not to confuse audiences into thinking that the heroine was a nun. Carrie Meeber isn’t that, nor as a nervous Paramount studio or “actress” Jennifer Jones […]

THE ENTERTAINER (Tony Richardson, 1960)

One of the greatest casts ever assembled electrifies The Entertainer, John Osborne’s sturdy play that Osborne and Nigel Kneale adapted and Tony Richardson directed starkly, if crudely and disjointedly. (Richardson would make only one other film even half as good: A Delicate Balance, 1973, from Edward Albee’s play.) Laurence Olivier is staggering re-creating his stage […]

THE PRINCE AND THE SHOWGIRL (Laurence Olivier, 1957)

“You know, you do need more love in your life.” — Elsie to Charles The futility of efforts to stave off a devastating world war: this is, ironically, the fairy-tale fantasy lending such poignancy to Laurence Olivier’s lovely, very funny, ultimately sad and moving The Prince and the Showgirl, adapted by Terence Rattigan from his […]

SPARTACUS (Stanley Kubrick, Anthony Mann, 1960)

Dispensing with the Rashomon-like flashbacks of Howard Fast’s novel, each attuned to a different character’s view of Spartacus, executive producer Kirk Douglas’s film is a blunt, thin “big movie,” a collection of boring, silly, gory scenes that puts the best possible face on the Roman obliteration of the actual Spartacus’s slave rebellion in the first […]