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Reviews Written by
J B (Willamette Valley, OR)

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Rose Marie [Import]
Rose Marie [Import]
4 used & new from CDN$ 29.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Oh, Genevieve Annabelle Caroline Rose-Marie - I love you!, June 10 2003
This review is from: Rose Marie [Import] (VHS Tape)
I don't know what kept me away from this movie so long. I'd seen it so many times browsing the shelves at the library, but had no idea who was in it or what it was about. Then I saw The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met, got entranced with baritones all of a sudden (yes, me the tenor fanatic), and decided to see some of Nelson Eddy's movies... the first one was The Phantom of the Opera, which I have reviewed separately, then I saw The Chocolate Soldier and I Married an Angel, which I shall review separately later, and then this one. Besides the fact that Nelson cuts a dashing figure in the spiffy uniform (okay, so the britches ARE a bit weird), I found it an incredibly touching, sweet little story, and also enjoyed all the songs. Coming from me that says a lot, because I am not in the least a musical fan - there are very few musicals I count as favourites.
Nelson and Jeannette have the ability to be very spontaneous in dialogue and work very well together, even depsite the fact that Nelson can be rather stiff at times - his singing more than makes up for it.
One thing I found particuarly striking was the scene toward the end when Jeannette is singing "Tosca": she is literally cracking up. We can hear what she hears - Nelson's Indian love call - and feel the discord between it and the words she must sing on stage. It reaches a pitch and then she faints.
I also felt that for a lightweight piece of "fluff" the character development wasn't half-bad, either - Right from the beginning it's well-established that as far as Jeannette is concerned the entire world revolves around her, so as the movie progresses it's good to see how Jeannette turns from a selfish, slave-driving diva to a sprightly, energetic, loving human being. Not everyone has the opportunity to cross the Canadian mountains with a mountie (unfortunately!), but I'm sure that figuratively there is something like that in each person's life, some backwoods experience that creates real character because of the necessity of facing adversity, learning what sacrifice and love are all about, and that life isn't all "me", and sometimes we have to eat bacon...
I found the totem pole dance scene rather amusing as well. I was very into Indians for a long time as a child, and learnt quite a bit about them, so it struck me funny that this tribe had it all - the totem poles of the Pacific Northwest, the feathered headdresses and tipis of the Plains... Still, it was an interesting sequence, despite the fact that it was very 1930's Hollywood and far from authentic.
James Stewart's small role as Jeannette's brother was fine as well - it was interesting how he really was only on screen for a few minutes, but all through the film, you were seeing the wanted posters and thinking about him to a point where he was really a main character.
I recommend this film very much, along with The Chocolate Soldier, which is another truly delightful musical.

Gowns by Adrian: The MGM Years 1928-1941
Gowns by Adrian: The MGM Years 1928-1941
by Howard Gutner
Edition: Hardcover
23 used & new from CDN$ 73.44

5.0 out of 5 stars A treasure, dahlings, an absolute treasure, June 8 2003
I have two favourite things to do - sew doll clothes and study classic cinema, and this book inspires both. I didn't know much about Adrian before - I was always seeing his name in credits for MGM movies, and when I heard about this book I thought, "Hey, let's get it from the library and see what it's all about." I was completely pulled into the book right away.
There is a lot of text, all very informative and easy to read, and it is perfectly balanced by a whole parade of sumptuous black and white photographs of ladies gowned by Adrian, movie stills of the ladies in his designs, and several of Adrian's sketches for the dresses. I have looked at this book so many times and always find something new and interesting. I'm working on reading through it, but I am always reading here and there in it anyway, and in the filmography in the back I've been underlining the titles of all the movies he designed for that I have seen. (Quite a few, but not nearly all!) I am beginning to be able to tell just from looking at a dress in a movie whether it's one of Adrian's or not - and that's not just because I'm hearing the lion roar before the credits, either - he had a very definitive style, and when you expose yourself to enough of it, you immediately recognise it. Adrian could be bizarre and innovative in a very classy way. He knew what was right for the actress who would wear the dress, knew how to make the dresses play into the scenes in which they would be worn. He also believed that a dress should have "one note", or one thing about it that stood out and made it unique from any other gown - beading, embroidery, whatever - and I think that this is why even his more ordinary gowns had a certain look to them.
This book is an education and a delight and everyone interested in fashion history, movie history, or just beautiful things should have this on their coffee table.

Phantom of the Opera [Import]
Phantom of the Opera [Import]
5 used & new from CDN$ 9.99

3.0 out of 5 stars A cute but not particularly deep little flick, June 8 2003
I wanted to see this because it had Claude Rains mostly, but also because I wanted to see Nelson Eddy as a person after hearing him in the Disney short "The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met". Besides, I've been a fan of the book by Gaston LeRoux and the musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber for some time, have seen the silent movie version of this story, and wanted to chalk up another credit to my Phantom experience.
Overall, this wasn't a bad little movie - I felt that the fact that it was in colour rather detracted from the sombre, ominous mood this kind of tale needs - it should really be sort of Victorian film-noir, shot in black and white. But then, I felt that they really changed the story so much in this film version that it can only be looked on as a story independent of the book which was its inspiration, and so for that reason the colour is okay. I also felt that Claude Rains' character seemed as though it was going to be a main character at the beginning of the film, but then he seemed to disappear from the film for much of the rest of it. Also, the progression of his adoration complex for Christine was sadly overlooked throughout the film, and we are to understand his descent into bitterness toward mankind from the few scattered minutes of screen time that he has?
Although the rival banter between Raoul and Anatole was very amusing, it seems a little out of place in a story of such tragic dimensions, and draws one's focus completely away from the relationship between Christine and the Phantom of the film's title, which really is the core of the entire book and should be the same or similar in the movie. As another example of distraction - I like hearing Nelson Eddy sing, but at least two of the operatic numbers could have been shortened to make room for some more character development and depth in Erik and Christine's relationship.
I felt that the silent version of the film not only followed the plot of the book more accurately, but that the emotions and experiences of the characters were ones easier to "jump into", even despite the common (for a silent) over-acting of its players - but at the same time, this 1943 version was easier to watch. It's not as long or nervewracking. Still, I would recommend you to do it all - read the book, watch both films, and listen to the original London cast recording of the musical if you can't go and see it. Each one of these things will enhance your appreciation and enjoyment of the story in some way or another.

Torn Curtain (Widescreen)
Torn Curtain (Widescreen)
DVD ~ Paul Newman
Offered by OMydeals
Price: CDN$ 68.93
6 used & new from CDN$ 14.92

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What a draggy movie., March 19 2003
This review is from: Torn Curtain (Widescreen) (DVD)
I wanted to give this movie a chance because I'm very into Hitchcock and his films. I read that this film wasn't very good, but a friend of mine said it was wonderful, so I decided to see for myself. It was better than Topaz (which I think is Hitchcock's worst), but only just barely better enough because I managed to sit through it until the end. I don't like Paul Newman - and I've given him chance after chance. He's like a block of wood. Julie Andrews seemed to be putting forth no effort here either, and I know she can act (see The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins for proof). I did think it a bit strange that she never burst into song either.
The pattern of the travels of Michael Armstrong and Co. was a bit hazy and unrealistic. I mean, in East Germany, you are not going to have all those narrow escapes. The woman in the strange hat and rainbow scarf was a mystery to me as well - what she really had to do with anything I don't know. The story was weak and pointless, really, and Paul and Julie extremely unconvincing as a couple madly in love. And contrary to my description of my location above, wire-taps did not play into this tale at all.
The scene when Gromek is following Michael through the museum is probably the only artistic moment in the whole movie.
The climax was not at all thrilling, just laughable. Fire, yells Paul Newman, but he had better look out that his wooden acting doesn't catch fire cause it's all he's got! But on the other hand, that might not be a bad thing, if it DID catch...
I do not recommend this movie unless you're a Hitchcock enthusiast. That's why I watched it and I will not watch it again... It's a good one-time experience, that's all, that is if you can stay awake.

Shirley Temple V.1
Shirley Temple V.1
Offered by CD Treasures_Canada
Price: CDN$ 25.97
9 used & new from CDN$ 12.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Great recording by a very cute little Shirley, Jan. 19 2003
This review is from: Shirley Temple V.1 (Audio CD)
This is a collection of most of Shirley's songs from the first half of her career... and it goes beyond the Good Ship Lollipop. The recording is old, which you can tell from the sound - there is very light static, but the music is still clear and much better than I was expecting. It includes songs from Curly Top, Captain January, and the two Old South movies which are not the ones she is remembered for - but they are among my favourites personally. I love "Love's Young Dream" and "Believe Me"... It also has her three performances with Jack Haley and Alice Faye from "Poor Little Rich Girl", which are other favourites of mine...
If you like Shirley and want some of her music, this is a great CD to start with. I recommend it highly.

North By Northwest
North By Northwest
Offered by @ ALLBRIGHT SALES @
Price: CDN$ 35.71
9 used & new from CDN$ 8.52

5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful CD, Jan. 19 2003
This review is from: North By Northwest (Audio CD)
I love "North by Northwest" and am very happy to own the soundtrack - I think the music is wonderful.
I was a bit unsure about buying this one because some of the other reviews seemed to hint that this recording was flawed, imperfect, or otherwise bad. It's not at all. DON'T get the re-recording - there is nothing wrong with this one, so why not have the original, better version?
I found the music much sharper and much less static than the reviews implied, and haven't heard any serious wavering, fuzziness, or anything. I recommend this very highly. If you are a fan of Hitchcock, Cary Grant, or just good music, get this. You will love it.

Offered by Canada-Books-For-You
Price: CDN$ 12.90
7 used & new from CDN$ 1.88

3.0 out of 5 stars Not great, only interesting, Jan. 19 2003
This review is from: Amadeus (VHS Tape)
I watched this when I was about six years old, and all I remembered was the man with the blood on his hands at the beginning (my mother tuld me to turn around), the little boy dropping coins through his hands, and Mozart dictating music... and a few other minor things.
Now, years later, my mother rented it and we watched it to see if we still liked it. It didn't seem as long this time - by that I mean it seemed really long but not as long as I remembered it.
My impressions: I didn't appreciate the language and Mozart's crude sense of humour, nor did I appreciate Salieri's horrible, warped view of God. It was so pitiful and sad, and I could not feel for him at all. I didn't really go for many of the actors either. My favourites were the stuffy guy with the glasses and Mozart's dad - don't ask me why. Constanze was a loudmouthed, 1980's woman with modern values and attitude; Mozart looked like any teenager out on the street, just with a wig, and he sounded like them too. Aggravating.
I felt some aspects of the movie had much potential. I think Salieri could have been portrayed as more evil than he was by merely toning down the narration and letting the camera tell the story. I thought Salieri's idea of haunting Mozart with his dad was cinematically superb, but something was missing, some vital link to make the torment real to ME, the watcher, not just Mozart.
What else do I have to say... probably not much except that this movie did leave me feeling rather "unsettled" - I think I was hoping for more than it was, and a bit on edge the whole time because I never knew when Mozart was going to be rude again...
I'm not even sure of the educational value of this film, since I can't recommend it to student-age folks, and I don't know how historically accurate it is anyway. See it if you like, but I can't promise you'll be impressed.

Bob the Builder: Celebrate with Bob [Import]
Bob the Builder: Celebrate with Bob [Import]
4 used & new from CDN$ 5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Very good video, Jan. 18 2003
My little brother just got this for his birthday - he's five and he loves Bob the Builder - so I watched it with him and I must say I was very favourably impressed. This is probably one of the best children's programs around. I appreciated the fact that all the characters were very positive - no bad attitudes etc - and just loved to work together and were kind to one another.
The stories on this video... The first was about Bob's birthday, when he thinks everyone has forgotten but Wendy dahling makes it a surprise party and assures Bob she'd never forget his birthday, while Spud waits impatiently for cake.
The second was a little story about Spud having dessert with Bob and Wendy and trying very hard to behave himself. Very cute.
In the third story Wendy goes to visit her sister and while she is gone Bob leaves Pilchard in charge of the office and re-landscapes Wendy's back garden, which is a mess. Needless to say, she is very touched when she sees the great improvement in her garden, but I wonder what she thought the next morning when she went into the office?
The fourth little story is about Dizzy helping Wendy to water the new garden.
The fifth story... Bob takes a day off to go photograph a rare bird in Farmer Pickles' field, but something has gone wrong with the computer and Wendy can't leave the office, so she keeps calling Bob to do the work until the repairman gets there. The repairman is a rather absentminded fellow who remembered to bring his lunch and is allergic to cats - or was it peanut butter?
The sixth story is another short one where some hedgehogs help Bob clean up a littered road (with a subtle hint at the very good point, "Don't litter")...
The seventh story concerns a cowboy line-dancing contest in which Bob plans to take part, with Mavis from the good old P.O. On the evening of the contest, Wendy has a pity party to Pilchard about being stuck at home watching TV while the rest of the town is dancing all night. And just then, Bob's cell phone rings, and it's Mavis who has sprained her ankle... so, Wendy drops a few rather obvious hints in Bob's direction and... off they go.
The last one was a little story about Dizzy and Roley singing with Bird. Pilchard jumps on the wall and frightens Bird and the Curtain Descends.
I recommend this highly.

Magnificent Obsession [Import]
Magnificent Obsession [Import]
6 used & new from CDN$ 8.90

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Why You Should Never Refuse a Dinner Invitation, Jan. 14 2003
This movie proves that it never pays to refuse dinner invites from dashing men, especially when a refusal of lunch with them earlier has sharpened their persistance.
This movie was actually not so bad. Even though it was very soap-operaish. I did keep wondering when Bob Merrick was going to accidentally paralyse the daughter.
I liked seeing Agnes Moorehead in a non-snappish role, and Jane Wyman did fine as a blind person, although I felt both of them gave more in their roles in "Johnny Belinda".
This wasn't a picture I could really take seriously - it was a bit sappy, very hokey, and so forth - but enjoyable for laughs and didn't drag for a minute. I recommend it for fun, but for something more serious do the Johnny Belinda thing.

Back Street
Back Street
7 used & new from CDN$ 3.37

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A chick flick for chicks with strange and unstable values, Nov. 23 2002
This review is from: Back Street (VHS Tape)
John Gavin, the hero of this first-class comedy, wasn't really a hero but a a cad with about as much talent, romance, and emotion as a life-sized cardboard standup, like the ones you can get of Darth Vader or Captain Kirk.
Susan Hayward can act better than this. Not a favourite actress of mine by any means, she DID have some talent. Her role as Hester in "Adam Had Four Sons" was very well done, despite the fact that Hester was a horrible woman. Here as Rae Smythe she appears to be a fallen star. She aged fifteen years in fifteen minutes. Was it the agony of losing her cardboard lover, or was it merely the fault of an overambitious hairdresser? She is overdressed (and not even WELL overdressed), oversappy, overhokey. Susan had a crazy pad wherever she went, beautifully decorated and landscaped. Very convenient.
Vera Miles was much better - in fact I very much enjoyed her work - in "The Wrong Man" and "Psycho". How she wound up playing a drunken wife is beyond me, but it wasn't exactly flattering to her or a good showcase for her skill.
And the story, what a story! Cheap, shallow, overly melodramatic, clearly arranged to set up the audience at certain moments for a hokey moment by wave upon wave of weepy violins. Everywhere she went, her cardboard man happened to be, whether it be New York, Rome, or the steps of a bar over the cardboard guy's drunken wife. I think both Susan and John deserved everything bad that happened to them. The whole movie left me spent with exhaustion and a sort of disgusted feeling that I'd been gypped out of a whole evening when I could have been watching something really good, like a Fredric March movie.
Oh yes, and I mustn't forget to mention the shots of crashing waves, blossoming trees, fruit-laden trees, snowy landscapes, and the sound of Hollywood-ised excuses French and Italian music. All of these amazing things melded with the above-mentioned faults and failings caused me to come up with only one result. This is a true 1-star movie... VERY VERY POOR! I do not recommend this to anyone even as comic amusement. It's far too aggravating even for that.

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