Films featuring
Jack Lemmon

Hamlet

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When sorrows come, they come not single spies but in battalions.

One might call this the Spinal Tap adaptation of Shakespeare’s greatest play, because everything about it most definitely goes to eleven. The first film of the unabridged text of Hamlet and the last film shot in seventy millimeter as of today, Kenneth Branagh’s brazenly, foolishly ambitious project will be the shortest four hours you ever spent in front of one movie. A broad cast of both veteran Shakespearean actors and many who you would not expect in this kind of film wring both drama and raw emotion out of words often calcified under the dreary mantle of “literature.”

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Mister Roberts

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Despite having two directors with somewhat clashing styles, being noticeably dated in places, and a little too obviously based on a stage play, Mister Roberts still works as a classic comedy and a war movie in which the only violence is committed upon a pair of hapless palm trees.

The Tony-winning play by Joshua Logan and Frank L. Nugent had already run for seven years on Broadway when the film was made and Henry Fonda had played the role of Lt. (jg) Doug Roberts 1,300 times before a frame of film had been shot. It’s safe to say that he didn’t need reheasal.

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JFK

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Oliver Stone‘s JFK is a movie as admirable in its technique as it is troubling in its agenda. Much like Birth of a Nation sought to rewrite the early history of the original Ku Klux Klan, JFK represents a concerted effort on Stone’s part to insert certifiable falsehoods into the historical record of the Kennedy assassination. He gets two basic facts correct. John F. Kennedy was indeed assassinated on November 22, 1963 and New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison did actually prosecute businessman Clay Shaw for his role in an alleged conspiracy. After that, the facts and Mr. Stone have a strained relationship at best. I sincerely hope that this movie will be as routinely dismissed by future generations as Birth of a Nation is today.

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Glengarry Glen Ross

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Speaking as some who worked in retail sales for few years out of college, I can certainly vouch for the authenticity of much of what transpires in James Foley’s film of David Mamet’s play Glengarry Glen Ross. The scene in which Alec Baldwin’s character verbally emasculates the sad sack salesmen is reminiscent of any number of sales meetings or visits from the district manager.

Okay, I can’t ever recall being called a “cocksucker” in those sessions (it was often mixed company, after all), but the message was same. Selling is everything. A good salesmen should be able to sell water to a drowning man. Excuses are for losers and low numbers are the way out the door. You might notice that I don’t work in that field any more.

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