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1. Kiss Me Kate
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2. Lili
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3. Casino Royale
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4. 55 Days At Peking
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5. Kiss Me Kate
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6. My Sister Eileen
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7. The Ambushers
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8. Valley of the Kings
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9. Lovely to Look At
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10. For the First Time
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11. Legend of the Lost
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12. Give a Girl A Break
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13. 55 Days at Peking
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14. The Last Time I Saw Paris
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15. Last Time I Saw Paris
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16. All the Brothers Were Valiant
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17. Last Time I Saw Paris
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18. Casino Royale:Original James Bond
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19. Flame of the Islands
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20. Last Time I Saw Paris/Fathers

1. Kiss Me Kate
Director: George Sidney (II)
list price: $14.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 6302363276
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 3199
Average Customer Review: 4.19 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (42)

5-0 out of 5 stars This one deserves more stars!!
This is one of my all-time musical favorites and in my opinion, the best MGM musical made outside the Freed unit, with a top of the tops score by Cole Porter, my all-time favorite composer.

Grayson and Keel are in top form, their on-screen chemistry at its best moment, in such numbers as "We Open in Venice", the wonderful "Wunderbar", and the wondrous, lyrical and evocative "So In Love", one of the best romantic songs ever written by Porter.

Also in the cast, Ann Miller in excellent tap-dance form, in such show-stoppers as "Too Darn Hot", "Tom, Dick and Harry" (accompanied by Tommy Rall, Bobby Van, and Bob Fosse), but especially "From This Moment On", a number which features the aforementioned male dancers, plus Carol Haney and Jeannie Coyne, which is stolen by Fosse and Haney, in an unforgettable jazz-oriented pairing, as the french say: "la creme de la creme".

And last but not least, the funny couple of Keenan Wynn and James Whitmore, are thrown in for good measure and lots of laughs, getting also their chance at showbiz with "Brush Up Your Shakespeare".

I had longed for this dvd release, and after buying it I can say that I am satisfied with it.

If you are musical film-buff, buy it, it has an excellent score, sophisticated lyrics, very good singing, excellent numbers, expert dancing and some very funny moments indeed!!

5-0 out of 5 stars KISS ME KATE A JOY TO WATCH
I saw this film for the first time in it's initial release in 3-D and loved it so much that I returned to see it twenty times or more. Anytime it is shown on the big screen in retrospect showings, I try to attend. To me, it is my most favorite MGM musical next to "SINGIN IN THE RAIN." Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson are outstanding in their roles and do justice to the Cole Porter tunes, even if MGM saw fit to clean them up a bit. Kathryn Grayson's rendition of "I HATE MEN!" sets the standard for all others to follow. Ann Miller is finally showcased in songs and dances where her true talent shines. The male dancers Tommy Rall, Bobby Van and an-oh-so-young but talented Bob Fosse are spectacular to watch, especially in the "FROM THIS MOMENT ON" number where Fosse dances with Carol Haney and his style just burns up the stage. Keenan Wynn and James Whitmore shine in their gangster-hood roles and do a nice soft shoe as well. I cannot say enough good things about this entertaining play-within-a-play musical filled with great Cole Porter tunes.
I have bought this on both vhs and laser disc and sure wish that MGM would get off their proverbial butts and release this on DVD soon.

2-0 out of 5 stars Should have included a Field Sequential 3-D version!
Not that many people are aware of the Field Field Sequential 3-D .
This is a 3-D TV system that uses special shutter glasses that can be purchased here through Amazon in a set that includes 3 DVD's using this process. This system Is the only way to view a 3-D film effectively on TV to date. The result is about 90% close to the effect you will see in a theatre showing.. like IMAX and Disney and Universal.
These glasses are made of sturdy plastic and clear not these cardboard red and blue pieces of garbage, so you can view the film without constricted to seeing red and blue colors and with this system you will see more actual 3-D depth with the films true colors.. It's really amazing!
For some add reason the big studios haven't adapted to include a separate version of a 3-D title in this great format.
Films like:
"House of Wax","Kiss Me Kate","Friday the 13th Part 3", "Robot Monster, "Cat Woman on the Moon", "Creature from the Black Lagoon" and "Jaws 3" are all now in 2-D DVD, but were originally shown in 3-D and could have been included using the Field Seqential 3-D system on the same disc with the 2-D version.
In Japan in the late 80's there were a few 3-D titles released using Field Sequential 3-D and can be found on e-bay converted to DVD and VHS.
Why aren't the studios producing these now!
I boycott any film DVD release that was originally intended to be seen in 3-D that's only presented in a 2-D version or anaglyph (Red and Blue Glasses).

The studios should really be awaken to this great 3-D system.

4-0 out of 5 stars How to Win Back Your Wife
I write this review in honor of Howard Keel's 85th birthday.
"Kiss Me, Kate" is a lively, albeit dated musical with a slightly chauvenistic streak. It takes liberties with Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew", but is more fun than reading the actual play.
The estranged couple Fred Graham and Lilly Vanessi (Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson), have been divorced for a year at the time they take the lead roles in the Cole Porter musical. Based loosely on Alfred Lunt and his wife Lynn Fontaine, their behind-the-scenes bickering gets a little out of hand and occasionally, resulting in a well-defined lack of professional courtesy as they occassionally humiliate each other in full view of an audience.
But they also have their glorious moments, such as a reminiscence that leads to the number, "Wunderbar".As did their first number, "So In Love", this number reveals a certain wistfulness at their estrangement from each other at the end.
The subplot is the realationship between the play's secondary couple, Lois Lane(Ann Miller) and Bill Calhoun (Tommy Rall), a compulsive gambler who signs Fred Graham's name to an IOU.
The play begins. The number,"Another Opening, Another Show" is heard only as an instrumental piece beforehand. But the numbers, "We Open In Venice" and "Tom, Dick or Harry" kick the show off magnificently. As a big fan of the late Ann Miller's dance numbers,the latter is probably my favorite. As Gremio and Hortensio, Bobby Van and Bob Fosse thrill us with their trademark moves.
Keel sings a sumptuous ballad as his ex discovers that the flowers she thought were intended for her were intended for Lois. Through it all, Howard Keel is characteristically confident, uttering lines of unadulturated sarcasm as his ego occassionally gets the better of him. After being slapped by Lilly, he proves to be even more of a drama queen than any actress.Perhaps the sexiest scene in the film is when Graham removes the sausage links his ex-wife hides against her poitrine during one scne in the play.

Kathryn Grayson, with her porcelain skin and heart-shaped mouth, is a living Madame Alexander Doll in the part of Lilly/Kate. She is comically, firey and able to stand up to her ex-husband and to the thugs that he uses to keep her onstage(Keenan Wynn and James Whitmore) when she threatens to leave after Fred humiliates her. Lippy and Slug appear to collect they debt they believe Graham owes them, and while not althogether academically inclined, they display some knowledege of the Bard and his works, although they look ridiculous in their onstage costumes.
Willard Parks, as Tex Callahan offers Lilly a possible escape from her life in the theatre. But ultimately she is won back not by Fred's threats or humilation, but by the simple admission that he was wrong. While some may find the end to be disappointing, it should be remembered that it was Lilly who ultimately chose whether or not to give Fred a second chance, and Graham's beam of triumph and the twinkle in his eye at the end are worth more than any words-even those by the Bard himself-can say.

5-0 out of 5 stars Keel is keen!
Grayson is good, but Howard Keel steals this show. He shines in the role of the egomaniacal stage ham. His voice and his presence are perfect for the role. Ann Miller and Tommy Rall provide all the dance moves you could ask for in a great musical. If you are a fan of musicals, this is a must for your collection. The DVD also provides some fun behind the scenes information. ... Read more


2. Lili
Director: Charles Walters
list price: $14.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 6302148332
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 3085
Average Customer Review: 4.67 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com essential video

The wonderful Leslie Caron stars in this Oscar-winning musical fable with a touch of the bizarre. Caron plays Lili, a recently orphaned waif hopelessly in love with a carnival magician. Mel Ferrer plays Paul, a gruff puppeteer who can express his softer side only through his puppets. Sound weird? It is. Caron's performance is lovely. She is, as always, a graceful dancer, but she is also able to pull off the much more difficult task of making Lili pure and innocent without being icky--shetalks to Paul's puppets with complete conviction. (The puppets, by the way, are incredibly creepy.) Younger viewers will take Lili at face value, but adults may well get sucked into its unintentional dark side: homelessness, suicide, emotional repression, and giant dancing puppets all come into play. Also enjoyable is Zsa Zsa Gabor, who does a great job standing around looking pretty as the magician's assistant. --AliDavis ... Read more

Reviews (30)

5-0 out of 5 stars "Lili" a completely enchanting, magical film
"Lili" is one of the most magical and enchanting films ever. It is a small film - not lavish and overblown - but a production that grabs your heart from the very beginning. Leslie Caron has never been better and richly deserved the Academy Award nomination (and should have won). Her scenes with the wonderful puppets (some of the best uses of puppetry in films) are completely enchanting. Mel Ferrer, Jean Pierre Aumont, Kurt Kasner and, surprisingly, Zsa Zsa Gabor couldn't be better. The excellent ballet sequence at the end of the film in which the puppets turn into the puppeteer each time Lili dances with them, showing her that the person behind the characters she has come to love is her real love, is a perfect resolution for the story. "Lili" was the basis for an equally wonderful Broadway musical, "Carnival". This is a film that can be viewed over and over and never lose it's charm and magic.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Charming Tale of Bittersweet Love
Leslie Caron's first starring vehicle after her debut in 'An American in Paris' was this small musical (with only one song) about a naive French orphan named Lillete Daurier who happens upon members of a travelling circus. She convinces them to take her with them as she is desperate for work and needs money. She falls in love with the handsome Mark (Jean Pierre Aumont) who is married but takes advantage of Lili's crush by stringing her along shamelessly. The carvinal puppeteer (Mel Ferrer) offers sympathy by way of his puppets,including the lovable Carrot-Top and his friends.They help her through her troubles and yet Lili loathes and fears the man controlling them,whom she calls 'The Angry Man'. It is not until Mark and his wife leave the carnival for a better booking that Lili wakes up to herself and begins to grow up and discover that it is the puppeter she has fallen in love with and not the silly crush that she had with Mark. The ballets featured are delightful with Lili's dream of Mark romancing her and throwing over his wife (done gracefully with snappy and sexy music and Zsa Zsa Gabor as the 'Other Woman')and the climactic ballet where the puppets become life size and dance with Lili. The music is by the same composer who wrote the score for Lucille Ball's 'Forever Darling',as some musical arrangements are identical in both pictures.Based on a story by Paul Gallico.

5-0 out of 5 stars Magic Dreamworld
A charming little musical that grabbed me from the beginning, Lili is not as simple as it looks or sounds. This is definitely a character-actor driven movie, with Leslie Caron carrying the weight of film with her wide-eyed charm. The movie touches on dark issues like suicide, attempted rape, homelessness, poverty, bitterness, and thwarted dreams, but in a marvel of restraint, it doesn't dwell on these things and overemphasize them. The real focus is Lili's beautiful hope and joy in living.

An orphan, Lili joins up with a traveling circus. She's helplessly naive, but with the family-like troupe and the puppets in her carnival act, she blossoms into a poised, lovely creature. The puppets themselves are quite interesting and significant - see how they resemble the live characters. In the midst of all this, the only clouds in her sky are her boss (the brooding puppeteer, Berthalet, played to perfection by the sexy Mel Ferrer) and her unattainable crush (the vainglorious Marcus the Magnificent). Her coming-of-age is the main plot, made both satisfying and achingly real.

Leslie Caron pulls off the role admirably. Lili is endearingly sweet, without going over the top. Caron draws you in before you even know you've been charmed off your feet. Lili loves and hates so simply until she learns better, and then you see her mature realistically. It's rings inexplicably true. The two dance sequences showcase Caron's extensive ballet skills without becoming huge productions that halt the story's progress. In fact, they actually carry the story further - something not all musical pieces accomplish if you think about it. The fantasy one is marvelous in revealing Lili's alter-ego - she's sexy and confident, and ultimately, not Lili. The last is particularly moving as both participants come together emotionally. Caron's face and feet act as much as the rest of her put together - a good thing, as her English is rather accented.

Most of the movie is sort of dreamy and surreal. The brief "real-life" location scenes look real, while the rest has the-painted-backdrop feel with clearly fake sets and props. This actually doesn't detract from the movie or the story, since they are not actually terribly relevant. The characters hold center stage. A feel-good movie if you just want to be entertained, a thought-provoking movie if you want to be engaged.

See also Paul Gallico's Love of Seven Dolls, the novella this movie and the musical, Carnival, were based upon. (A warning, the book explores the darker side of the story, but also worthwhile for mature readers.)

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the 3 best films of all time
"Lili" ranks with "2001: A Space Odyssey" and "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" as one of the three finest motion pictures ever filmed. Its captivating song, "Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo," ranks with "Over the Rainbow," "When You Wish Upon a Star," "You'll Never Know," and "It's a Grand Night for Singing" as one of the five best original movie songs. Its climactic dream-ballet sequence, in which Lili dances with life-sized versions of four puppets, is rivaled only by the "Out of My Dreams" dream-ballet sequence of "Oklahoma." And no actress has ever been more adorable and endearing--or capable--than Leslie Caron is in this movie.

Not really a musical, Lili is best described as a romantic fable or sophisticated fairy tale. It tells the story of a naive 16-year-old orphan who joins a carnival. There she brings success to a lame puppeteer (Mel Ferrer) by interacting with his four puppets. Her ingenuousness leads her to regard the puppets as real persons. Ferrer, though outwardly bitter about the war injury that ruined his career as an acclaimed dancer, shows flashes of inner kindness and humanity: he uses his puppets at one point to infuse joy into a despondent Lili, and he smiles when she isn't looking. Soon he falls in love with Lili. But she can't recognize as Ferrer's the tenderness that is revealed only in the puppets. Repelled by the overt rudeness of "the angry man," Lili becomes infatuated with the carnival's magician, a ladies' man. When she eventually learns the magician is married, Lili's eyes open. But the puppeteer's jealousy still clouds her vision. She decides to leave the carnival. Her departure precipitates the dream sequence. Here, dancing with the four puppets she has grown to love, she slowly realizes that each character represents a facet of the puppeteer's personality. Gola the giant, for example, is frightened by girls, so he tries to frighten them; but he is actually cowardly, clumsy, longing to be loved. Lili's belated recognition that Gola and the others are really Ferrer brings the story to its heartwarming conclusion.

This imaginative movie is more than a classic. It is pure enchantment. Make it your top priority.

5-0 out of 5 stars Set The Record Straight
Just to set the record straight on the source of this magnificent film. It is NOT based on the book "Love for Seven Dolls". The book was written and published a few years AFTER the film came out. It is based on a short story by Paul Gallico titled "The 7 Souls of Clement O"Rielly" that was published in the Saturday Evening Post. In it the story is of a girl on a TV show acting with puppets who is going to leave, the realizes her love for the puppeteer.

It was a sort of take on the wonderful "Kukla, Fran and Ollie" program, but there was never a romance betewwn Burr Tillstrom and Fran Allison. In fact, the book, "Love for 7 Dolls" is dedicated to Burr Tillstrom (the puppeteer for Kukla) and Fran Allison. So it is obvious Mr. Gallico is acknowledging the inspiration for the stores to the TV show. ... Read more


3. Casino Royale
Director: Val Guest, John Huston, Ken Hughes, Joseph McGrath, Robert Parrish
list price: $9.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 6302824613
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 22916
Average Customer Review: 3.67 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

John Huston was only one of five directors on this expensive, all-star 1967 spoof of Ian Fleming's 007 lore. David Niven is the aging Sir James Bond, called out of retirement to take on the organized threat of SMERSH and pass on the secret-agent mantle to his idiot son (Woody Allen). An amazing cast (Orson Welles, Peter Sellers, Deborah Kerr, etc.) is wonderful to look at, but the film is not as funny as it should be, and the romping starts to look mannered after awhile. The musical score by Burt Bacharach, however, is a keeper. --Tom Keogh ... Read more

Reviews (84)

4-0 out of 5 stars The funniest James Bond spoof ever
The "Austin Powers" series sure could take a few hints from "Casino Royale". Whereas the former is predictable and obvious, "Casino Royale" is a good example of that famous dry British wit.

What else could you call it when wealthy Ursula Andress tells Peter Sellers that she gets her newspapers BEFORE they're printed, and he replies, "Well, I suppose you can do anything if you've got money..." Or when Joanna Pettet comments on her estranged mother's oversized bed and is told, "The German army was very large in those days."

I've withheld one star because the movie does tend to have an episodic feel, due to the five different directors who worked on it, and because it drags a bit in places. Still, the witty jokes more than make up for those small flaws. Considering how many hands this movie was in, it's amazing that it works so well. Woody Allen gives his funniest performance as neurotic Jimmy Bond. Peter Sellers is terrific, as usual. And watch out for an appearance by a young Jacqueline Bisset as Miss Goodthighs.

The movie's crowning touch is the music by Burt Bacharach, which manages to be catchy and loopy at the same time.

Finally, one of the best reasons for owning rather than renting this movie is that some of the gags go by so fast (Q's laboratory, the art auction), that you might not catch them all until your second or third viewing. And, like a lot of good humor, some of the jokes just get funnier with repeat viewings.

2-0 out of 5 stars Somewhat entertaining, mostly dull
Casino Royale isn't a terrible movie; it has its moments, and, truly, has a superb cast. That much can be said for it. There are some scenes with Ursula Andress, especially, that are very funny, and the beginning isn't without its humor. However, in general it is a mess of movie; loosely constructed, making little to no sense, and, what is worst of all, not even all that funny. I had to fight off sleep to keep consciousness during the movie, something I almost never have to do. I actually got to the point where I couldn't wait for it to end. Not the worst film ever made, but save your money. Rent it if you must.

4-0 out of 5 stars When your castle is blown up, it's back to the spy game....
Great movie! Sir James Bond played by David Niven is forced back into espionage after his hedonistic lifestyle is so rudely interrupted by a British army 81mm mortar team who proceeds to blow up his perfectly splendid castle. Bond prefers a life of luxury to the dangers of espionage but alas, it's back to the good old Walther PPK 7.65mm and the cloak and dagger for 007. As Dr. Michael Lim the Travelling Gourmet, I too appreciate the finer things in life. I think all fans of Bond do too. The music is remarkable. This is THE movie where that immortal and hauntingly seductive song, by Burt Bacharach, "The Look of Love" reaches deep into your libido and psyche, especially when you hear it for the very first time. My old friend, the late Derek Nimmo (of BBC's Just a Minute) fame is in this movie too as a would be Bond under the tutelage of Sir James himself. If you see the current Austin Powers movies you'll see where the scipt writers got many of their ideas from. Beautiful and seductively voluptuous women abound as in all 007 movies. In those days, men were men and women were not pale, anaemic anorexic skin and bone creatures but lovely, curvaceous and meaty damsels. Bring back the real women I say to Hollywood film makers! This spook spoof will put a smile on your lips and cheer you up no end. Certain scenes like when Sir James demonstrates how things should be done are really hilarious. Above all, the classic British ideal of stiff upper lip, always remain calm and unruffled no matter what, and carry on regardless...comes through all the antics, bombs, blondes and bullets. David Niven comes a very close second to Patrick Macnee (The Avengers) when it comes to playing cool, calm and collected English gentlemen. And so, what's next? As Austin Powers would say, "Yeah, Baby, Yeah!!!" By Dr. Michael Lim The Travelling Gourmet ENJOY!

3-0 out of 5 stars Bond Spoof and Origins
Charles Feldman's Casino Royale is a colorful psychedelic mess 36 years after its creation. This film was the first James Bond spoof and a precurser of the Austin Powers movies. Unfortunately the film has not aged well.

The jokes seem as dated as the costumes. There is virtually no plot to speak of and the sequences by four directors seem cobbled together by fifth director Val Guest.

The film is fun to watch with its great musical score and vibrant colors but there isn't a lot holding this thing together.

Perhaps the most interesting feature of the disc is the 1954 TV movie from Climax Mystery Theatre which featured Barry Nelson as the American spy Jimmy Bond. It was fun to see the true origin of the Bond franchise.

Bottom line rent it for its place in history but don't go in expecting greatness.

5-0 out of 5 stars Swingin' 60s on Film!
Funny! Despite it's bad reputation, if you are a NON-square, ya gotta check this out. Lots of in-jokes, droll humor and laugh-out-loud stuff. Sure, it's a bit "all-over-the-place" but that's half the fun. The go-go dancing Indians, the cavalry charge into the casino, the Dr. Caligari sets, the pop-art sets and psychedelic FX, the Frankenstein monster... it's all like a mix of The Magic Christian, Monty Python, Blazing Saddles, Austin Powers, The Monkees "Head" and James Bond thrown into a Swingin' Sixties blender. And all those great stars strutting their stuff!! Don't worry about the plot... this is eye candy. If you want a generous 60s fix, just sit back and let this flow over you. All that and the Burt Bacharach score. I'm glad I bought this. ... Read more


4. 55 Days At Peking
Director: Andrew Marton, Nicholas Ray, Guy Green
list price: $29.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 6302424909
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 11616
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (12)

4-0 out of 5 stars Action-packed film is entertaining and satisfying
55 Days at peking surprised me. Though not having the best of titles, I thought this was going to be a romance centered around the Boxer Rebellion. Instead, the film is more along the lines of Zulu, featuring constant large scale sieges and fast-paced action.

55 Days is not perfect by any means. The political talks drag a bit and at 2 and a half hours the film goes on a bit longer than it really needs to. The use of American actors as Chinese characters is also quite distracting and occasionally produces some unintentional laughter.

Still, the film is entertaining and absorbing. Charlton Heston, Ava Gardner, and David Niven all deliver good performance. The battle scenes are the film's most memorable aspects and they are very well made, especially for its time. The film was obviously made at a large budget so the film, in technical terms, is superior to a lot of similar action films of its time. Those looking for a companion piece to Zulu might find 55 Days worth watching.

3-0 out of 5 stars A Well-Made But Biased & Politically-Dated Film
When I first saw this film as a child, I was offended by it, being an Asian-American of Filipino/Chinese descent. However, seeing it now, with the understanding that this film was made during the height of the Cold War & the beginnings of the War in Vietnam, I can understand why it was made (though I still don't agree with it's political point of view!)

First, for general viewers who just want to see a well made, big-budget war picture with hints of romance, then this movie does deliver on that level. Charleton Heston is excellent as a flawed, temperamental loner & professional soldier who falls for Eva Gardner, a "fallen woman" of Russian nobility, while the foreign "legations" in Peking (what we would today call "embassies") are under attack by the Boxer Rebels (I Ho Chuan Society) during the rebellion of 1900 in China. David Niven is likeable as the British ambassador, even though he does come off as a bit pompous. The sets & costumes are well-done (especially when you consider that this film, set during the last days of the Ching Dynasty in China, was actually shot in Spain!), & the battle sequences are realistically staged. (For martial-arts buffs, there's even a martial-arts demonstration during the birthday of the English Queen!) So, if all you're looking for is a fast-paced war picture with great costumes & macho action performances, then, on that level only, this film delivers.

If you're a history buff, however, then this film definately is not for you! For one thing, all of the major European characters, (whose point of view this movie favors) are fictional characters. The only real-life historical figures are the ruling Manchus (played by caucasian actors in "Asian-face!") & the Japanese Colonel Goro Shiba. (He & the other Japanese are played by real Asian actors. I guess during the Cold War, the Japanese were our allies against "the Red Menace", thus worthy of respect, while the Chinese, who were Communists, were not worthy of respect when portrayed on film. But then, this movie also features the Russians in a positive light, so go figure!) There is also a scene where the German minister is killed on the street by a mob of crazed Boxers, but in real life, the real German minister was shot by a Chinese officer (one man!) who was sympathetic to the Boxer cause. This film also carefully omits the subsequent rape & sacking of Peking after the defeat of the Boxers, though focusing heavily on the Boxer's depredations against Christians & foreigners. (True history is balanced, not one-sided.) Lastly, according to this film, the British & Americans were in charge of the relief efforts during the siege. Actually, the Germans, under von Waldersee, were the real leaders of the International Relief Force sent out to defeat the Boxers & rescue the besieged legations.

Finally, for Asian-americans & viewers interested in serious political debate, this film is also a no no! The most obviously offensive aspect of this movie is the white actors playing Chinese (though again, this was made in 1963), but the other offensive aspect is that this film favors the colonialists' point of view! (The basic point of 55 Days is, colonialism is good & whenever natives fight back, they deserve to be supressed! It's the same kind of thinking that got us involved in Vietnam.) This movie was made during the beginnings of our involvement in Southeast Asian politics & it's obvious that this "historical" drama is really a pro-Vietnam propaganda film disguised as an epic action-movie!

Okay, the "Boxers" (or I Ho Society) were not saints. They did murder a lot of innocent people in their anger over the semi-colonialism imposed by the West & Japan on China during the 19th Century. But this film shows only one point of view. (A bad story-telling style for a supposedly "realistic" war picture.) However, for viewers who want to get a balanced point of view in one film about the Boxer Rebellion, well, good luck! Chinese movies on the subject tend to do the exact extreme political opposite of 55 Days (which is just as bad!) And remember, though there are historical inaccuracies in 55 Days, Chinese movies (or more accurately, Hong Kong movies) can be just as inaccurate about their own culture! Check out any of the '70's Shaw Brothers kung-fu films if you don't believe me!

So in closing, personally, I would recommend watching this film, but only if you understand it's (many) flaws. For a truly balanced perspective on the subject, after watching 55 Days At Peking, check out The Boxer Rebellion/Bloody Avengers, a Shaw Brothers kung-fu flick about the Boxer Rebellion which exaggerates the Chinese p.o.v. at least as much (if not more) as 55 Days exaggerates the European/Japanese p.o.v. The real-truth lies right in-between these two films. Be sure you get the letter-boxed version of 55 Days, because the pan & scan really cuts out some important details (more so than other films.)

3-0 out of 5 stars OK action film marred by some faults
"55 Days at Peking" is a decent action film for a war genre fan or maybe some one who wants to see a different time period in a film. The film is pretty decent as far as its genre goes, but there were some problems in the storyline that made me give it no higher than three stars.

The first problem I had with this film was the inclusion of the mandatory American hero. It seems quite often whenever some thing is set in a foreign land and involves foreign - and is made in America - there HAS to be an American lead. Most of the other nationalities play a mostly minor role save for David Niven's character, who feels like a historic individual. I'm not saying the Americans weren't at Peking, but Charleton Heston's character feels a tad too cliche.

The second problem I had was the love story. It takes up a good part of the film and slows it down...in fact it very nearly made me lose all interest in this movie. Doesn't really do much to the story and leaves some holes open. Even when Ava Gardner's character meets an unfortunate circumstance, I couldn't feel sorry for her. I didn't care too much since the whole thing felt like a typical forced movie romance.

Finally, there are some historical inaccuracies. The battle didn't quite happen as the movie portrays it. These mistakes are all fairly minor, I suppose, and some might just flat out ignore it since the battle (and war, really) isn't well known.

On the whole, it wasn't that bad. There are some great battle scenes including a charge up a ramp behind a wheeled defense, firing shots through sliding windows, and the climactic assault with a huge artillery tower - this last part is my personal favorite, and for what it's worth I thought it was a pretty cool scene.

If you're a fan of to-the-last-man movies like the (superior) "Zulu" then you'll probably like this movie. Yes, some might not have compassion for the defenders since them being rescued meant an end to China's real independance, but I guess you really can't like the Boxers for trying to annihilate a group that includes women and children. Even if the Imperialists were morally bad guys, I can't hold compassion to the Boxers for their terrorist tactics. But enough of this...if you like this type of film, rent this and check it out.

4-0 out of 5 stars Exciting epic produced on the grand old scale
"55 days at Peking", has certainly in the years since it's release in 1963 come in for it's share of flack over its romantisizing of history, fictional characters and depiction of Chinese nationals. In reality however I feel you must look at this film first and foremost as the first class piece of entertainment based on historical events it was intended to be. I certainly appreciate the great effort and attention to detail that was lavished on this stunning recreation of the events surrounding the Boxer Rebellion of 1900 in Imperial China.

As an ardent student of chinese history in general I can see that the focus is upon the foreigners that were present in China at that time and that the Chinese point of view is rarely explored in detail. However what must be appreciated in this Samual Bronston production is the vivid recreation of Imperial China, the earnest performances by the leads, exquisite costumes, the excellent action scenes, and sublime musical score by the famed Dimitri Tiomkins which all add up to an engrossing two and a half hours of viewing. Charlton Heston as Major Matt Lewis the tempremental soldier for hire, David Niven as the upright British Ambassador Sir. Arthur Robertson and especially the ever beautiful Ava Gardner as the "scandalous" Russian Baroness Natalie Ivanoff all lend a commanding presence in their roles. Ava Gardner as the "woman of ill repute" who falls for Heston's no nonsense Major during the seige of the foreign legations during the rebellion and ends up paying for her devotion with her life has I feel never been better. Ava proves her often underestimated talent here as she develops from shallow society lady out for a good time, into a human being who learns the value of self sacrifice for something you believe in. The wonderful Victorian costumes which suit her so well also emphasize what a great beauty she was in her movie heyday. The main criticism of this film has always been directed at the depiction of Chinese characters by caucasian actors. I feel that there is little to get offended by here as in particular the depiction of the Dowager Empress Tzu-Hsi is actually done in a much more favourable light than how the woman actually was in real life. I feel Flora Robson lends a commanding presence as the Dowager Empress and her Chinese makeup, far from being offensive is fascinating and superbly done. Robert Helpmann also shines in his sinister role of Prince Tuan, the empress's chief advisor and evil genius. They are actors playing roles just like any other performer that portray a character not of his or her own nationality and they should be rightly seen as just that.

"55 Days at Peking", while certainly not historically accurate contains an exciting fictional story woven into historical fact. This does not necessarily make it a bad drama or production and indeed here we are treated to a great story full of action, romance and a vivid retelling of a dramatic story from a "human level" as was probably witnessed by those that lived through it. The depiction of the rise of the boxers into a violent nationalist movement, the actual rebellion and siege of the foreign legations in Peking resulting in much bloodshed and destruction , the vivid and beautiful recreation of life in the decadent Ching court under the Grand Dowager Empress, are all beautifully played out in a eye popping and engrossing drama. Samuel Bronston who was responsible for some great early 1960's epics such as "El Cid", and especially the classic "The Fall of the Roman Empire" here excels himself in recreating the times in 19th Century China. The sets are sumptous with Peking being magically brought to life on sets created in Spain.Rarely nowadays do yuo see such an allout effort in mounting a top class production. The Ching court as depicted here, while not up to later "The Last Emperor", standards is still wonderful and really portrays the beauty of court life that hid so much that was wrong with the ruling system in China at the time. Rarely have more vivid depictions of the lives of ordinary Chinese been portrayed and the rebellion sequences are second to none in their raw energy, savage depiction of the loss of life and the destruction caused.

"55 Days at Peking", is not perfect by any means but I feel it has been unfairly condemmed by the supposed political correctness movement. I really enjoy historical dramas, even of the romanticised kind and Charlton Heston and Ava Gardner really maintain your interest through the long running time with their excellent work in this film. Long before computer generated special effects this film sees one of the great sets built for a film during the 1960's and for that alone it is worth seeing apart from all its other good qualities. Enjoy a journey back to grand old film making of the old school when Charlton Heston and Ava Gardner do battle against the boxers in "55 Days at Peking".

2-0 out of 5 stars Excellent only for critical analysis
This film has only one redeeming quality- it provides an excellent opportunity to discuss bias, historical perspective, director's artistic liscence, and distortion of historical events. I viewed this film knowing that the Chinese, poorly portrayed by Americans or British, were being presented from a completely demeaning perspective that simultaneously plays the Americans as the savior heros. I plan to use this in my 7th grade social studies class to demonstrate exactly how a series of events as complex and consequential as the Boxer Rebellion can be recreated so completely and utterly wrong. Watch this as you would a Disney film like Mulan, knowing that it will only get the gist of something, and not provide any reliable characters or history. ... Read more


5. Kiss Me Kate
Director: George Sidney (II)
list price: $14.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0790744732
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 19790
Average Customer Review: 4.19 out of 5 stars
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Cole Porter, Shakespeare, and 3-D:Not the usual recipe for an MGMmusical, but hey--it works. Although it runs hot and cold, this 1953 take on Porter's delightful Broadway smashlets a chewy cast gorge on some terrific songs and show-biz in-jokes. Think ofthe plot as His Girl Friday in greasepaint:vain star Howard Keel wantsto lure ex-wife Kathryn Grayson back to the boards with a musical version ofThe Taming of the Shrew. The movie's weakness is too much Shakespeare,not enough backstage backbiting (and why are two of the best numbers, "So inLove" and Ann Miller's zippy "Too Darn Hot," confined to a prologue?). Thenthere's the tendency to throw things at the camera--3-D, what hath you wrought?The candy-store color design is great fun, and Tommy Rall and future dance titanBob Fosse are turned loose for some sensational leaps. Now that's "Wunderbar."--Robert Horton ... Read more

Reviews (42)

5-0 out of 5 stars This one deserves more stars!!
This is one of my all-time musical favorites and in my opinion, the best MGM musical made outside the Freed unit, with a top of the tops score by Cole Porter, my all-time favorite composer.

Grayson and Keel are in top form, their on-screen chemistry at its best moment, in such numbers as "We Open in Venice", the wonderful "Wunderbar", and the wondrous, lyrical and evocative "So In Love", one of the best romantic songs ever written by Porter.

Also in the cast, Ann Miller in excellent tap-dance form, in such show-stoppers as "Too Darn Hot", "Tom, Dick and Harry" (accompanied by Tommy Rall, Bobby Van, and Bob Fosse), but especially "From This Moment On", a number which features the aforementioned male dancers, plus Carol Haney and Jeannie Coyne, which is stolen by Fosse and Haney, in an unforgettable jazz-oriented pairing, as the french say: "la creme de la creme".

And last but not least, the funny couple of Keenan Wynn and James Whitmore, are thrown in for good measure and lots of laughs, getting also their chance at showbiz with "Brush Up Your Shakespeare".

I had longed for this dvd release, and after buying it I can say that I am satisfied with it.

If you are musical film-buff, buy it, it has an excellent score, sophisticated lyrics, very good singing, excellent numbers, expert dancing and some very funny moments indeed!!

5-0 out of 5 stars KISS ME KATE A JOY TO WATCH
I saw this film for the first time in it's initial release in 3-D and loved it so much that I returned to see it twenty times or more. Anytime it is shown on the big screen in retrospect showings, I try to attend. To me, it is my most favorite MGM musical next to "SINGIN IN THE RAIN." Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson are outstanding in their roles and do justice to the Cole Porter tunes, even if MGM saw fit to clean them up a bit. Kathryn Grayson's rendition of "I HATE MEN!" sets the standard for all others to follow. Ann Miller is finally showcased in songs and dances where her true talent shines. The male dancers Tommy Rall, Bobby Van and an-oh-so-young but talented Bob Fosse are spectacular to watch, especially in the "FROM THIS MOMENT ON" number where Fosse dances with Carol Haney and his style just burns up the stage. Keenan Wynn and James Whitmore shine in their gangster-hood roles and do a nice soft shoe as well. I cannot say enough good things about this entertaining play-within-a-play musical filled with great Cole Porter tunes.
I have bought this on both vhs and laser disc and sure wish that MGM would get off their proverbial butts and release this on DVD soon.

2-0 out of 5 stars Should have included a Field Sequential 3-D version!
Not that many people are aware of the Field Field Sequential 3-D .
This is a 3-D TV system that uses special shutter glasses that can be purchased here through Amazon in a set that includes 3 DVD's using this process. This system Is the only way to view a 3-D film effectively on TV to date. The result is about 90% close to the effect you will see in a theatre showing.. like IMAX and Disney and Universal.
These glasses are made of sturdy plastic and clear not these cardboard red and blue pieces of garbage, so you can view the film without constricted to seeing red and blue colors and with this system you will see more actual 3-D depth with the films true colors.. It's really amazing!
For some add reason the big studios haven't adapted to include a separate version of a 3-D title in this great format.
Films like:
"House of Wax","Kiss Me Kate","Friday the 13th Part 3", "Robot Monster, "Cat Woman on the Moon", "Creature from the Black Lagoon" and "Jaws 3" are all now in 2-D DVD, but were originally shown in 3-D and could have been included using the Field Seqential 3-D system on the same disc with the 2-D version.
In Japan in the late 80's there were a few 3-D titles released using Field Sequential 3-D and can be found on e-bay converted to DVD and VHS.
Why aren't the studios producing these now!
I boycott any film DVD release that was originally intended to be seen in 3-D that's only presented in a 2-D version or anaglyph (Red and Blue Glasses).

The studios should really be awaken to this great 3-D system.

4-0 out of 5 stars How to Win Back Your Wife
I write this review in honor of Howard Keel's 85th birthday.
"Kiss Me, Kate" is a lively, albeit dated musical with a slightly chauvenistic streak. It takes liberties with Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew", but is more fun than reading the actual play.
The estranged couple Fred Graham and Lilly Vanessi (Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson), have been divorced for a year at the time they take the lead roles in the Cole Porter musical. Based loosely on Alfred Lunt and his wife Lynn Fontaine, their behind-the-scenes bickering gets a little out of hand and occasionally, resulting in a well-defined lack of professional courtesy as they occassionally humiliate each other in full view of an audience.
But they also have their glorious moments, such as a reminiscence that leads to the number, "Wunderbar".As did their first number, "So In Love", this number reveals a certain wistfulness at their estrangement from each other at the end.
The subplot is the realationship between the play's secondary couple, Lois Lane(Ann Miller) and Bill Calhoun (Tommy Rall), a compulsive gambler who signs Fred Graham's name to an IOU.
The play begins. The number,"Another Opening, Another Show" is heard only as an instrumental piece beforehand. But the numbers, "We Open In Venice" and "Tom, Dick or Harry" kick the show off magnificently. As a big fan of the late Ann Miller's dance numbers,the latter is probably my favorite. As Gremio and Hortensio, Bobby Van and Bob Fosse thrill us with their trademark moves.
Keel sings a sumptuous ballad as his ex discovers that the flowers she thought were intended for her were intended for Lois. Through it all, Howard Keel is characteristically confident, uttering lines of unadulturated sarcasm as his ego occassionally gets the better of him. After being slapped by Lilly, he proves to be even more of a drama queen than any actress.Perhaps the sexiest scene in the film is when Graham removes the sausage links his ex-wife hides against her poitrine during one scne in the play.

Kathryn Grayson, with her porcelain skin and heart-shaped mouth, is a living Madame Alexander Doll in the part of Lilly/Kate. She is comically, firey and able to stand up to her ex-husband and to the thugs that he uses to keep her onstage(Keenan Wynn and James Whitmore) when she threatens to leave after Fred humiliates her. Lippy and Slug appear to collect they debt they believe Graham owes them, and while not althogether academically inclined, they display some knowledege of the Bard and his works, although they look ridiculous in their onstage costumes.
Willard Parks, as Tex Callahan offers Lilly a possible escape from her life in the theatre. But ultimately she is won back not by Fred's threats or humilation, but by the simple admission that he was wrong. While some may find the end to be disappointing, it should be remembered that it was Lilly who ultimately chose whether or not to give Fred a second chance, and Graham's beam of triumph and the twinkle in his eye at the end are worth more than any words-even those by the Bard himself-can say.

5-0 out of 5 stars Keel is keen!
Grayson is good, but Howard Keel steals this show. He shines in the role of the egomaniacal stage ham. His voice and his presence are perfect for the role. Ann Miller and Tommy Rall provide all the dance moves you could ask for in a great musical. If you are a fan of musicals, this is a must for your collection. The DVD also provides some fun behind the scenes information. ... Read more


6. My Sister Eileen
Director: Richard Quine
list price: $19.95
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Asin: 6302725526
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 8010
Average Customer Review: 4.33 out of 5 stars
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Two innocent sisters from Ohio hit Greenwich Village and must cope with wall-shaking subway construction, the neighborhood kooks, and a whopping $65 a month for an apartment. My Sister Eileen is one of those "Look out, world, we're conquering Manhattan!" movies, with Betty Garrett as a plain, would-be writer and Janet Leigh as her knockout sister, an aspiring actress who draws men like milk draws kittens. The 1955 movie's well-scrubbed Greenwich Village is a delightful fantasy playground. The city wasnever like this, but it probably should have been. In one of his early roles, Jack Lemmon (crooning one of the Jule Styne-Leo Robin songs quite charmingly) plays a magazine publisher, one of the many Young Men with Ideas he would play in the subsequent decade. Even more interesting is the presence of future director Bob Fosse, as a soda jerk who romances Leigh. Fosse also choreographed the film's musical numbers, and his dances include a delightful quartet at a bandstand and a sensational showdown with Tommy Rall. Fosse and Rall try to outdo each other in a male rivalry dance that will remind Fosse fans of his obsession with hats. The breezy direction is by Richard Quine, who cowrote the script with another future director, Blake Edwards. The original source material, stories by Ruth McKenney, formed the basis for a play and a nonmusical 1942 Rosalind Russell movie, also called My Sister Eileen (in which Quine played the Fosse role); there was a Broadway musical adaptation of the stories, Wonderful Town, which is not related to this film. --Robert Horton ... Read more

Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars A charming, screwball musical
Most folks will pay attention to this film becuase it's an early piece by choreographer Bob Fosse -- but it is a fun bit of froth that easily stands on its own. An absolutely delightful musical comedy, starring Betty Garrett as a smart smalltown girl determined to make it in New York City. She moves there with her with her glamourous, ditzy sister Eileen, whose good looks open more doors than do Garrett's brains and moxie. A nice film about struggling to get ahead in the Big Apple, with a script that takes its time and several exuberently goofy dance numbers, gleefully choreographed by a young Bob Fosse, who also plays one of the sister's avid suitors. The penultimate dance scene is side-splittingly hilarious, featuring a swarm of recently disembarked Cuban sailors on the prowl for American women, who form an inexhaustable conga line that snakes chaotically through the gal's tiny apartment. Thoroughly entertaining... a great, lighthearted film with some fabulous acting and bright, winning performances by all involved.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Nice Musical Comedy With a Young Bob Fosse
"My Sister Eileen" was Fosse's first official assignment as a film choreographer. He had already co-choreographed his dances for three musicals he made at MGM but didn't get any credit for it.
This film offers a rare chance to see him perform his own steps in front of the camera. He wasn't just a legendary Broadway director and choreographer, he was also a brilliant and nimble dancer with a sweet singing voice. His early stuff was influenced by Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire and Jack Cole, so don't expect the small intricate dancing with bowler hats that became his trademark.
Fosse is featured in three numbers: the quartet "Give Me A Band and My Baby", which is pure fun, the romantic ballroom routine "There's Nothing Like Love" where he partners "Psycho"'s Janet Leigh, and the explosive "Alley Dance" in which he competes with one of the best yet underrated dancers of Hollywood's Golden Age: the versatile Tommy Rall. The number shows a couple of early Fosse favorites such as the "Steam Heat" hat trick, cartwheel jumps and somersaults.
The rest of the cast is also quite remarkable: Betty Garrett is adorable with her dead-pan humour and Janet Leigh is simply sweet as Darlin' Eileen. And if you ever wanted to hear Jack Lemmon sing, here's your chance.
Director Richard Quine and young Blake Edwards wrote a rather unspectacular screenplay. Jule Styne and Leo Robin did a decent job with the songs but I definitely prefer Leonard Bernstein's "Wonderful Town".
"My Sister Eileen" is a nice little musical comedy. It's ideal to cheer yourself up on a dark and rainy evening.
By the way, this film isn't presented in its original Cinemascope format. The video version was slightly formatted. Well, let's hope for the DVD release.

4-0 out of 5 stars Entertaining Classic!
What a great movie! It is refreshing to see so much energy brought to the silver screen. The casting makes this movie! It has something for everyone: dancing, singing, funny misunderstandings, apartment problems and much more. This movie provides the entire family with good clean entertainment which is almost extinct in today's Hollywood. Jack Lemmon is wonderful opposite Betty Garrett. Janet Leigh also does a superb job as the sister with everything!

4-0 out of 5 stars Good Star Vehicle
Although the first version,starring Rosalind Russell and Janet Blair,is by far superior,this musical version with Janet Leigh and Betty Garrett as the two sisters in Greenwich Village is quite a good romp. Bob Fosse and Jack Lemmon (in a rare musical role )add the needed chemistry to make the girls sparkle. The story was later musicalized on Broadway as 'Wonderful Town',which again starred Rosalind Russell as Ruth Sherwood,and won a Tony for her work.

5-0 out of 5 stars Watching a young Bob Fosse dance is incredible
A great cast with Jack Lemon and Betty Garrett doing a great job together and Bob Fosse showing why he is among the greatest dancers of our time. ... Read more


7. The Ambushers
Director: Henry Levin
list price: $14.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 6302413869
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 6494
Average Customer Review: 3 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (7)

3-0 out of 5 stars Smile & prepare to snicker constantly throughout! :-)
Dean Martin as super cool, super lover, super boozer, super slick, super spy Matt Helm, aka Eric, aka James A. Peters, aka Lash Petrone, Beverly Adams as his secretary Lovey Kravezit, Karl Malden as arch villain and arch enemy of Matt, Julian Wall, Camilla Sparv as his assistant Coco Duquette, Tom Reese as his, snicker, hard-headed muscleman 'Ironhead', Corinne Cole as 'Miss January', James Gregory (I) as Matt's boss MacDonald and director of I.C.E. (Intelligence Counter Espionage), Ann-Margret as Suzie Solaris and Richard Eastham as her poppa and inventor of the super gizmo, Dr. Norman Solaris, in a fun little film that to watch you must first park your brain, your cynicism and put a smile on your face and prepare to snicker endlessly throughout! A delicious little spoof of the James Bond genre has Martin doing what he and the rest of the 'Rat Pack' did so well, drinking and wooing the ladies despite those pesky villains trying to take his mind off his favorite hobbies. This rates a solid 2.5 stars out of 4.

4-0 out of 5 stars Dino still Cool
Ok,I realize that by any normal standard this would qualify as a bad film. The production values are as poor as you can imagine and the plot (something about retrieving a flying saucer from the clutches of the enemy) pretty damn ridiculous. Yet, the first time I saw this film several years ago I absolutely loved it. The jokes center on booze and sex,and needless to say,Dean Martin handles them as only he can. As far as Matt Helm films go,"The Silencers" and "The Wrecking Crew" qualify as better "spy" films,yet for pure trashy fun nothing beats the "The Ambushers". The babe factor is over the top, and the ribald humour of this film makes James Bond seem stilted and serious. From its cheesy theme song right down to the Slaygirls,this is politically incorrect sixties camp to the max. Watching it now you'll lament the fact that nobody can make a film this light hearted anymore. Dean and the rest of the cast treat the whole thing as a put on. A real drive in treat from the go go era; if this film actually had great action sequences I'd have died.

2-0 out of 5 stars Double Disaster
If you ever heard that the Matt Helm series was entertaining, believe me, it wasn't these two entries. They, especially "The Ambushers", are just plain bad. Funny thing is, the other two Helm movies, especially "The Wrecking Crew", offer fine entertainment. It had to do with the directors, as Henry Levin directed the two bombs, and the guy, who would go on to direct the classic "Walking Tall", the others. There is nothing whatsoever redeemable about the Ambushers, and Murderers' Row is noteworthy simply for the appearance of Ann Margeret and an over-the-top performance as Karl Malden as the villian. Neither makes much sense at all.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Great Bad Movie
A great many of us will be familiar with the image of Hugh Hefner (Founder and Publisher of Playboy magazine) at one of his famous parties. We can picture in our mind's eye Hef walking around Playboy Mansion in his robe and pajamas, cocktail in one hand, cigarette in the other. (Actually, Hef usually smoked a pipe. But for the sake of argument, we'll say it was a cigarette.) He's smiling. He's mingling. He's making small talk, with amusing bon mots and double entendres.

Now imagine that, instead of a robe and pajamas, Hef is decked out in attire that would have been fashionably casual for an affluent male in the 1960s. And while keeping everything else the same (the cigarette, the cocktail, the utterly casual attitude), imagine Hef in the underground lair of an evil Arch-Villain who is ready to visit death and destruction across the globe. Oh, and make Hef a James Bond-esque spy.

You now have the basic feel for the four Matt Helm movies, of which "The Ambushers" (1967) was the third. (The others were "The Silencers," "Murderer's Row," and "The Wrecking Crew.")

The Matt Helm movies were made as star vehicles for Dean Martin. By the mid-60s, Dino had cemented his reputation as a boozing playboy, and the Matt Helm role was written with this in mind. In the movies, Matt Helm is a boozing, affable, world-famous photographer of beautiful women who works for "Slaymate" magazine (which fits in nicely with the Hugh Hefner analogy...). BUT THAT'S JUST A COVER! Helm is REALLY a boozing, affable super-competent secret agent for the Intelligence Counter Espionage (ICE) organization. And in all four movies, he casually wanders his way through whatever the bad guys have to throw at him as though he were looking for the nearest bar.

I should point out that the Matt Helm movies are all pretty bad. But they're wonderfully bad, and they're great, cheezy, campy fun. I tend to speak glowingly of the Matt Helm movies because I enjoy them for their over-the-top campiness, but more serious-minded viewers will probably be turned off.

And let me tell you: THE AMBUSHERS spares *no* expense in the "campiness" department. Try this plot on for size:

The ICE organization is testing out a new, super-secret flying saucer. That's right, a flying saucer. As MacDonald (James Gregory), head of ICE points out, if it works it will put the other planets "right next door," and the rest of the universe will be "just around the corner." It's never sufficiently explained why a counter-espionage organization would need to go to other planets (much less the rest of the universe), but no matter. They've made it and they're testing it.

The test works fine, until the saucer is forced to land by Mysterious Bad Guys. The leader of the Mysterious Bad Guys enters the saucer, and the pilot (a female) screams. Fade to black. This all takes place within the first 10 minutes of the movie.

Cut to Matt Helm, in Matt Helm heaven. He's helping to train a cadre of new ICE agents who, coincidentally enough, all happen to be gorgeous, scantily-clad babes. Go figure. But he runs into a white-haired, crazed woman who thinks all men are out to kill her. It's his old partner! It's also the woman who piloted the flying saucer! Will wonders never cease? (Answer: Of course not! This is Matt Helm!)

Naturally, Helm is assigned to find the saucer, and he has to take his former partner (who's now recovered) because only females can fly the saucer. The reason is because the saucer uses "electromagnetic fields" to propel itself around the neighborhood. And, according to the movie, electromagnetic fields are lethal to males. No, I never learned that in my basic physics classes either, but there you are.

You can guess the rest. Typical spy-movie stuff with the usual Matt Helm twist. Helm still wanders from place to place as though he's looking for the nearest bar. During one fight scene he gets knocked into a huge vat of beer, much to his obvious delight. And in a send-up of his singing career, the very final scene shows him trying to teach an attractive new recruit how to make love while on the job. The recruit is cold and unresponsive, even after Helm puts on a Dean Martin tune. But when he puts on Frank Sinatra, she responds amorously, much to his chagrin.

High points of the movie:

* The whole "electromagnetic fields are lethal to men" bit, which had me rolling on the floor.

* A couple of male bad guys dying from, as near as I can tell, turning completely red all over. Even their clothes. This is, apparently, the inevitable consequence of exposing men to electromagnetic fields. (Now you know why your Mom always told you not to sit so close to the TV...)

* The obvious set pieces when Helm is supposed to be outdoors.

* A set of railroad tracks which leads right up to the very edge of a cliff, apparently for no other reason than to allow a railroad flatcar to careen dramatically off said cliff.

* The *incredibly* cheesy effects, which include ray guns that emit sparks, and radar towers that emit obvious "radar" noises.

* Helm turning his belt into a sword by the simple expedient of getting it wet.

It's true that none of the other Matt Helm movies are pinnacles of the film-maker's craft. But the plot and cheesy special effects make THE AMBUSHERS a cut below the others. In ranking the four Matt Helm movies in terms of overall quality, this would be #4 on my list. But in ranking them in terms of laughs (both intentional and otherwise), this is easily #1.

2-0 out of 5 stars Matt Helm makes Austin Powers look like Smiley
Hopelessly cheeseball, sexist comedy, but entertaining in a creepy, pathological, what-were-they-thinking-back-then kind of way. The smarm content is high, but this is one for the 60's time capsule. Prepare your jaw for much dropping. ... Read more


8. Valley of the Kings
Director: Robert Pirosh
list price: $19.99
our price: $19.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 6304308620
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 5387
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful films with adventure and romance
Archeologist Robert Taylor and the lovely Elanor Parker, find adventure and romance in Egypt while on a quest to find evidence of Joseph from biblical times. They fall in love an dhav elot sof adventure on their quest. A lot of great scenary of pyramids and scenes from Egypt, a very excting and scenic film. It makes one want to travel to Egypt.

4-0 out of 5 stars "Remembrance of Things Past..."
A true rating of this film, for me, would be 4 and 1/2
stars...a film for one's youth...to be inspired by...
to sense the wonder and mystery and power of the Past...
its dreams, hopes, ambitions, achievements...all entombed
in dust...awaiting release...by some heroic adventurer...
some intelligent, questing, skeptical -- yet earnest,
inquiring, disciplined seeker who will not be denied...
who wills "to strive, to seek, to find...and not to yield"...
until he has penetrated into the sanctum of wisdom
and discovered the Knowledge of life and himself...
*********
The opening credits establish the "mise en scene"...
the story is based on materials from C.W. Ceram's *Gods,
Graves, and Scholars*... it concerns a married lady,
daughter of elderly archaeologist who has died...her
father had spent his entire life of seeking to find some
evidence in Egypt that verified the stay of Joseph,
the patriarch, told about in *Genesis* 37-50 in the
Old Testament...
This married daughter seeks to venerate and validate
her father's past life by carrying on the quest which had
meant so much to him...she has in her possession a golden
statuette of the Pharaoh Ra-ho-tep (whom her father had
believed was the Pharaoh who had elevated Joseph to
the position as his vizier, after Joseph had interpreted
his dreams)...the daughter seeks the help of an American
archaeologist, who also happens to be reasonably handsome
(if a bit weathered...) -- played by Robert Taylor, but
after "Quo Vadis?" and after "Ivanhoe"...the archaeologist
is skeptical, but attracted to the woman...even after he
finds out she is married, he is still intrigued enough to
continue to help her in her quest...here in Egypt...
around the year 1900...
The path is long...covers much sand...visits many
interesting, wondrous sites...there is a rope climb
down the face of the colossal temple of Ramses II
at Abu Simbel...into a hole in the temple face...
wondrous, entrancing things to a youthful mind
enchanted and inspired with archaeology...and Egypt...
mystery...and glory...and discovery...and secret
knowledge...
The path also leads to a Greek Orthodox monastery at
the base of Mount Sinai...and a basket ride up into the
monastery...discoveries in the dark interior of the
monastery...and finally there is the exciting discovery
which leads to the Valley of the Kings...and the possible
discovery of the tomb of the Pharaoh Ra-ho-tep...and

confirmation of the story of Joseph...and validation of
her father's commitment, and seeking, and belief...
The archaeologist discovers things about himself
as well...what it means to be be committed to a belief
in something more than just oneself...more than just
skeptical cynicism or libertine living...to seek answers
to questions that trouble the mind and the spirit with
restlessness and dissatisfaction because one is not
headed in the direction of psychic fulfillment which
one's intelligence, and desire for knowing, and earnest
spirit find fulfilling...
There is wisdom here...in the sands...certainly
wisdom that Thoth or Hermes could well affirm...but
it takes the seeking... Horus meets Elektra...conquers
Set...discovers Joseph...myth and meaning...and
"Remembrance of Things Past"...
* * * * * * * * *

5-0 out of 5 stars Egyptology
This is a terrific movie, a bit slow in parts, but none the less well worth watching. I have lost count of the number of times I have watched it since it was first released. This is the movie that first gave me a taste of the subject and I have been enthralled by it ever since I was a boy (I am now 56)

4-0 out of 5 stars More adventures in Egypt
In this unknown film, Taylor was an arqueologist searching the tomb of a ancient jewish leader. The movie was shooting in Egypt and that is the more remarcable thing about the picture. The story is not very solid but is pleasant to see during a long weekend.Eleanor Parker looks to beatiful in the desert, but it's only a movie. ... Read more


9. Lovely to Look At
Director: Vincente Minnelli, Mervyn LeRoy
list price: $19.98
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Asin: 6302077826
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 20951
Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars It's Lovely!
This is a delightful MGM musical that has not gotten the credit that it deserves. The amazing duo of Kathryn Grayson and Howard Keel are wonderful...as usual. Marge and Gower Champion and Ann Miller add beautiful dancing, and Red Skelton adds humor. The songs are great. Kathryn Grayson performs "Yesterdays" and "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes". Howard Keel sings "The Most Exciting Night" and "Lovely to Look At." Grayson and Keel sing "Your Devestating" and "The Touch of Your Hand". Ann Miller dances to and sings "I'll Be Hard to Handle", and Marge and Gower Champion sing "I Won't Dance". Finally, Gower Champion, Howard Keel, and Red Skelton sing my personal favorite song, "Lafayette". I also love the fashion show at the end with gowns designed by Adiran! If you like musicals, you should see this movie!

5-0 out of 5 stars A wonderful and colorful musical!
I never thought I'd enjoy it as much as I did. Katheryn Grayson and Howard Keel, sing there way into love, and also this films has the lovely dancing couple Marge and Gower Champion along with the ever funny Red Skelton, and beautiful and talented dancer Ann Miller. The costumes and dance numbers are a feast for the eyes. It's really a well done remake of the 1930's "Roberta," musical staring Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. In fact I enjoyed it much better. I think it deserves 5 stars and stands on it's on, as a beautiful musical film of the 1950's The vocals done my Keel and Grayson are really quite beautiful to hear. It's well worth viewing for any fan of musicals. It has a little of everything, drama, romance, comedy, song, dance, and a good plot as well.

4-0 out of 5 stars Certain moments are quite stunning.
I've always thought this film got a short shrift because it dared to be a remake of an Astaire-Rogers film. But, to be fair, it's a perfectly capable "Roberta" remake, in lush color for the first time, and there are a few notable differences in plot. The heir to the salon is a songwriter instead of a football star (which better suits the talents of Red Skelton anyway), the singing designer (Grayson) has a vocal counterpart (Keel), and the dancers-- former sweethearts in the first film-- meet for the first time here. I always thought it was strange that Astaire and Rogers' dances were presented as isolated stage duets rather than integrated into the plot of the story. In the case of Marge & Gower Champion, their dances advance their love story-- first with "I Won't Dance," cleverly staged with dresser mannequins, then with the film's masterpiece, the dreamy "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes," presented in an emptying cafe which magically becomes a starlit dance floor, bathed in midnight blue. It's one of the most romantic dances ever presented on film. Also nice are the Keel/Grayson challenge duet of "You're Devastating" and Skelton's piano cut-up of "Go Tell Aunt Brodie." The only disappointment is the gaudy fashion show-- but it was just as bad in the first version of the story!!

5-0 out of 5 stars Jerome Kern's "Roberta" is LOVELY TO LOOK AT
In this lavish re-make of the Jerome Kern musical "Roberta", Kathryn Grayson and Howard Keel are teamed again following their success in "Showboat". In the film, Red Skelton brings his pals, Howard Keel and Gower Champion, to Paris where he has inherited joint ownership in the exclusive French high fashion clothing store previously owned by his deceased Aunt Roberta. The joint heirs are Kathryn Grayson and Marge Champion who are concerned over the declining business of Roberta's. To save the shop, an elaborate fashion show is planned with top models and a massive renovation. The problem, of course, is financing the fete and this is where all of the manipulative strategies come into play. Ann Miller hops a flight to the City of Light when she suspects that her boyfriend, Howard, may be falling for Kathryn--and the fireworks begin.

The film is overflowing with humor, wit and top-notch musical performances. Kathryn Grayson is at her loveliest singing YESTERDAYS and SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES. Howard solos with LOVELY TO LOOK AT. The two team up for YOU'RE DEVASTATING and the lilting TOUCH OF YOUR HAND. Ann Miller sings and taps her way through two lively numbers and Marge and Gower Champion warble I WON'T DANCE and whirl their way through a sky full of stars in a breathtaking reprise of SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES. The spectacular fashion review is, of course, the show's finale and what a finale it is with its brilliant songs and dances and a fashion parade that dazzles the eyes. The entire cast is on hand for this all-out effort. So, sit back and enjoy the show. You'll be glad you did.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest singing teams in Hollywood!
This is Howard Keel along with Kathryn Grayson singing at their best. Beautiful songs. Red Skelton gives comedy to the picture. A must have for Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson fans! ... Read more


10. For the First Time
Director: Rudolph Maté
list price: $19.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 6303050107
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 6587
Average Customer Review: 4.62 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars a very good Mario Lanza film
I very highly recommend this Mario Lanza film. It is very enjoyable to watch and colorful. The clothes and scenery are great and also the song selection. It's little shown on television but a really good Mario Lanza film. Mr. Lanza can hit all notes so beautifully. He truly has a angelic voice.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fantabulous
If I could award this Video a 10 I would just for the musical score alone. Mario Lanza's talented rendition of the arias in this presentation make it one of his very best. This is a sure winner that will have you watching it over and over just for the music. Lanza's "Pagliacci" is spell-binding and his acting skill shines through in this touching tale. A must for your Lanza or Opera collection.
Beverly J Scott author of Righteous Revenge

5-0 out of 5 stars For The First Time..Tape
This seller is the best.. She wrote me a nice e mail
when I wrote her that I received the tape.. It's one of my favorite Mario Lanza tapes.. I've watched it several times and it's in perfect condition.. Fondly,

4-0 out of 5 stars A vocal delight
Having recently watched all of Lanza's movies after a long absence, I thought it was time I re-evaluated my original review of this movie.

Musically speaking, Lanza's best movies are undoubtedly The Great Caruso, Serenade and For The First Time. The Great Caruso is the most accessible of the three, and also has the best production values. Serenade is a much darker movie, and contains Lanza's most impressive dramatic singing. It does, however, suffer from an uneven script (see my review if you're interested).

Although a much lighter tale, For The First Time is similarly flawed. It contains the most perfectly balanced musical programme of any of the tenor's seven movies, but at the same time suffers from a poorly written script and some sloppy dubbing. As with The Seven Hills of Rome the preceding year, the original script was apparently a good one, but somewhere along the way a sugar coating was added to the story. The result was a highly sentimental tear-jerker with a good deal of banal dialogue.

It's to Lanza's credit, then, that For The First Time transcends its limitations and remains a watchable - and often moving - swansong from a musical giant. It helps that Lanza, just a year before his death, was in superb voice throughout - with one exception that I'll get to in a minute. Here his voice retains the baritonal depth of the Serenade period, but if anything his tenor is even rounder that it had been three years earlier. This is a voice of extraordinary depth and power. The high notes are faultless and retain the brilliance of old, but equally importantly his singing is more controlled and sensitive than in some of his boisterous earlier appearances. It must have helped that the operatic selections were recorded (and filmed) at the Rome Opera House, thus providing the tenor with a more artistic atmosphere than Hollywood could ever have afforded.

The Vesti La Giubba scene is extremely moving, both visually and vocally. Free of distracting histrionics,
this is a very different rendition from his slightly hammy earlier performances of the aria. If you never thought Lanza could top his magnificent rendition from The Great Caruso, then be prepared for a big surprise. This is the perfect Canio voice - dark, rich and powerful - and the pathos in Lanza's voice as he sustains the climactic High A on the word "infranto" is all but overwhelming.

The other operatic selections are equally impressive - with the exception of the strained La Donna E Mobile that begins the movie. The Otello Finale, Grand March from Aida, and trio (E Voi Ridete) from Cosi Fan Tutte present an amazingly varied programme, and I can think of no other tenor capable of pulling off both the drama of Verdi and the lightness of Mozart with such effortless panache.

Among the lighter selections, Lanza also sings appealing versions of Come Prima (For The First Time), O Sole Mio, Schubert's Ave Maria, a Bavarian Drinking Song (Hofbrauhaus Song), and the pretty-though-brief O Mon Amour. There is also a tantalising snatch from Grieg's I Love Thee, with Lanza's gleaming tenor ringing out in all its glory.

Physically, he often appears tired, and the unhealthy bags under his eyes betray his failing health. Nevertheless, he looks terrific in certain scenes, and unusually for the tenor his relatively slim appearance remains more or less consistent throughout the movie.

Aside from the movie's vocal strengths, what really saves the film is the tender rapport between Lanza and his delightful co-star, Johanna Von Koczian. Their love for each other, quickly though it develops, seems convincing, and there are moments in which it is hard to believe that Lanza is only acting.

Corny moments aside (and there are plenty of them), For The First Time is a poignant farewell to Lanza, and a vocal feast at that.

5-0 out of 5 stars Bittersweet Swansong
"For the First Time" is my personal favorite and one of the best Mario Lanza pictures. His voice, magnificent. The movie is a tender love story filled with great music from opera to pop. Why the cd of the soundtrack does not contain the delightful "Cosi" trio is a mystery. Mario's supporting player are all first rate. How Mario must have revelled in playing a difficult opera singer. This film contain some of his best singing. What might we have had if he had only lived, or been better treated by the studio system. An all around treat not to be missed. ... Read more


11. Legend of the Lost
Director: Henry Hathaway
list price: $19.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 6301972163
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 2749
Average Customer Review: 3.69 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (13)

4-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating hokum
"Legend of the Lost" is a morality tale of sorts which follows the journey of three disparate souls searching for lost treasure in the vast Sahara Desert. The trio is comprised of Joe January, played by John Wayne, who is a hard living, hard drinking guide; Paul Bonnard, a would-be missionary played by Rossano Brazzi; and Dita, portrayed by Sophia Loren, who is a prostitute and petty thief transformed by Paul's piety.

The sought-after treasure was originally discovered by Paul's father. But when it is revealed that his father is not the saint Paul thought him to be, Paul is corrupted. Greed and lust overtake him eventually leading to tragedy.

Paul's instantaneous and wicked conversion seems somewhat preposterous as he had purportedly lived a virtuous life up until the discovery of the treasure and the remains of his father. The entire plot strains credibility.

But it is the motley and gifted cast that fascinates. Wayne's Joe January is a crude, hard-bitten soul. But underneath that rough exterior, you know that he is a decent man especially since he is portrayed by Duke Wayne. Wayne has a reassuringly quiet strength and an unselfconscious vulnerability that always make his characterizations believable. Wayne's characters are strong men, but not super men (ala Schwarzenegger or Stallone). His characters are realistic. They can be brought down, hurt, and compromised.

Rossano Brazzi gives an almost giddy, operatic interpretation of a good man gone bad. It's amusing to watch his character degenerate. And Sophia Loren has an untamed beauty and wild impetuousness which is electrifying.

So perhaps one can forgive the hokey plot of "Legend of the Lost", the occasional poor sound quality, and the rather cheesy musical score. It is the charismatic, talented cast and the magnificently sun-drenched, barren landscape of the Sahara Desert that make this movie rather thrilling and worth your time.

5-0 out of 5 stars Classic Adventure GREAT !
An adventure classic with exotic flavor and great suspense. Numerous lesser movies, such as "Raider's of the Lost .." were spawned from this masterpiece. It seems that contemporary Hollywood producers can only make movies from cartoons (Flintstones, etc.), and now stoop to rely on cheap computer graphics instead of gray matter.

"Legend of the Lost" exudes both talent and creativity in great abundance. The Duke IS King! This film IS a legend! Sophia Loren IS at her absolute best!

4-0 out of 5 stars Strange movie invites unfairly harsh criticism
I had just seen Houseboat and really wanted to catch another Sophia flick. There is a criminal lack of her movies on DVD. With all the harsh criticisms of this movie, I bought it hesitantly only because I couldn't find many Sophia movies. There's a strange flavor to this movie, almost as if something about it was experimental. The story doesn't have a strong punch line by the end, but it does come to a logical conclusion that some may not find satisfying, but I did.

The best part of the movie were the good lines they gave John Wayne and the great comic timing with which he delivered them. In this movie he seems to have perfected the kind of character Harrison Ford played in the Star Wars and Indiana Jones series. While Sophia Loren is breathtakingly beautiful, with her talent and ability to project personality, she would still be fun to watch even if she was as plain as a blank sheet of paper. (Thank goodness she is gorgeous, though.)

Maybe what disappoints some people is that this movie appears to set itself up to be a wild action adventure, but instead this is more of a character development story before the time this kind of thing was popular in the late 1960's and early 1970's. It's a good movie to display some of the Duke's abilities to display the kind of character he often plays from a different perspective. And of course, Sophia is Sophia, bless her heart, and the packaging it comes in.

1-0 out of 5 stars Somebody fell asleep at the wheel
It is often fun to overly critize films made in other decades that often reflect a different attitude to what worked for audiences then. My memory of this film as a teenager stands up better than my views upon seeing this DVD resurrection. For instance, as soon as I saw the name Kurt Krasner in the credits this time, I recalled that it was a common practice to use certain actors over and over again, even though they were badly miscast each and every time. Mr. Krasner is cast as a French policeman in Timbuktu. The actor was often cast in exotic, foreign sounding roles. The problem was that, in Legend of the Lost, he never attempted a French accent. In fact, he never changed his accent or his delivery in any of his films. Ever! The fight scenes between Brazzi and Wayne (there are far too many of them) are amaturish; one camera angle actually shows Brazzi throwing a punch that misses Wayne's jaw by a good 12 inches! Where was the director, Henry Hathaway, a seasoned vertan, when this happened? The soundtrack element used for this DVD transfer was very poor; it has a thin, tin-like quality. I've heard better in the various TV versions of this film. I find that to be true of many DVD's. I'm glad I rented this DVD rather than simply relying on my memory and buying it outright. That saved me some hard-earned money.

4-0 out of 5 stars Get lost in another time
Who thinks up the character names? Joe January (John Wayne) drifter, Dita (Sophia Loren) of ill repute, and Paul Bonnard (Rossano Brazzi) bible thumper, teem up to look for a lost city and possibly a lost treasure. Paul has a map, Joe knows the territory, and Dita is fun to look at. There are a few inconsistencies and maybe not the best music but you can get lost in the story and have fun speculating as to what is happening next.
When they get to their destination they find more than a city. They find themselves and it isn't pretty.
So who gets what? Is there really a treasure? And just who is the good guy? ... Read more


12. Give a Girl A Break
Director: Stanley Donen
list price: $19.98
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Asin: 6302077850
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 19574
Average Customer Review: 4.33 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars really brialliant dance numbers!
i think this film, Give a Girl a Break," is very good, and the choreography alone in it, makes it well worth watching. Debbie Reynolds does some lovely dance numbers. Also Marge and Gower Champion really shine in this film and in my opinion do some of their best dance numbers in it. It doesn't have the most interesting plot, bt is worth it for the song and dance. I think any fan of 50's musicals would enjoy it. It's colorful and a fun film to watch. I have to nore, the costumes are first rate, some of the lovliest I've seen in musicals.

4-0 out of 5 stars Definitely worthwhile
While this film does not stand up to many classic movie musicals, it is a definite must for anyone with a fondness for Debbie Reynolds or Bob Fosse. Absolutely worth owning.

4-0 out of 5 stars Stanley Donen's fine follow up to "Singin in the Rain".
"Give a Girl a Break" was Stanley Donen's first film after "Singin in the Rain." It features a rare opprotunity to see director Bob Fosse dance on film. His numbers with Debbie Reynolds are the highlights of the film. ... Read more


13. 55 Days at Peking
Director: Andrew Marton, Nicholas Ray, Guy Green
list price: $29.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B000009O14
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 13719
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (12)

4-0 out of 5 stars Action-packed film is entertaining and satisfying
55 Days at peking surprised me. Though not having the best of titles, I thought this was going to be a romance centered around the Boxer Rebellion. Instead, the film is more along the lines of Zulu, featuring constant large scale sieges and fast-paced action.

55 Days is not perfect by any means. The political talks drag a bit and at 2 and a half hours the film goes on a bit longer than it really needs to. The use of American actors as Chinese characters is also quite distracting and occasionally produces some unintentional laughter.

Still, the film is entertaining and absorbing. Charlton Heston, Ava Gardner, and David Niven all deliver good performance. The battle scenes are the film's most memorable aspects and they are very well made, especially for its time. The film was obviously made at a large budget so the film, in technical terms, is superior to a lot of similar action films of its time. Those looking for a companion piece to Zulu might find 55 Days worth watching.

3-0 out of 5 stars A Well-Made But Biased & Politically-Dated Film
When I first saw this film as a child, I was offended by it, being an Asian-American of Filipino/Chinese descent. However, seeing it now, with the understanding that this film was made during the height of the Cold War & the beginnings of the War in Vietnam, I can understand why it was made (though I still don't agree with it's political point of view!)

First, for general viewers who just want to see a well made, big-budget war picture with hints of romance, then this movie does deliver on that level. Charleton Heston is excellent as a flawed, temperamental loner & professional soldier who falls for Eva Gardner, a "fallen woman" of Russian nobility, while the foreign "legations" in Peking (what we would today call "embassies") are under attack by the Boxer Rebels (I Ho Chuan Society) during the rebellion of 1900 in China. David Niven is likeable as the British ambassador, even though he does come off as a bit pompous. The sets & costumes are well-done (especially when you consider that this film, set during the last days of the Ching Dynasty in China, was actually shot in Spain!), & the battle sequences are realistically staged. (For martial-arts buffs, there's even a martial-arts demonstration during the birthday of the English Queen!) So, if all you're looking for is a fast-paced war picture with great costumes & macho action performances, then, on that level only, this film delivers.

If you're a history buff, however, then this film definately is not for you! For one thing, all of the major European characters, (whose point of view this movie favors) are fictional characters. The only real-life historical figures are the ruling Manchus (played by caucasian actors in "Asian-face!") & the Japanese Colonel Goro Shiba. (He & the other Japanese are played by real Asian actors. I guess during the Cold War, the Japanese were our allies against "the Red Menace", thus worthy of respect, while the Chinese, who were Communists, were not worthy of respect when portrayed on film. But then, this movie also features the Russians in a positive light, so go figure!) There is also a scene where the German minister is killed on the street by a mob of crazed Boxers, but in real life, the real German minister was shot by a Chinese officer (one man!) who was sympathetic to the Boxer cause. This film also carefully omits the subsequent rape & sacking of Peking after the defeat of the Boxers, though focusing heavily on the Boxer's depredations against Christians & foreigners. (True history is balanced, not one-sided.) Lastly, according to this film, the British & Americans were in charge of the relief efforts during the siege. Actually, the Germans, under von Waldersee, were the real leaders of the International Relief Force sent out to defeat the Boxers & rescue the besieged legations.

Finally, for Asian-americans & viewers interested in serious political debate, this film is also a no no! The most obviously offensive aspect of this movie is the white actors playing Chinese (though again, this was made in 1963), but the other offensive aspect is that this film favors the colonialists' point of view! (The basic point of 55 Days is, colonialism is good & whenever natives fight back, they deserve to be supressed! It's the same kind of thinking that got us involved in Vietnam.) This movie was made during the beginnings of our involvement in Southeast Asian politics & it's obvious that this "historical" drama is really a pro-Vietnam propaganda film disguised as an epic action-movie!

Okay, the "Boxers" (or I Ho Society) were not saints. They did murder a lot of innocent people in their anger over the semi-colonialism imposed by the West & Japan on China during the 19th Century. But this film shows only one point of view. (A bad story-telling style for a supposedly "realistic" war picture.) However, for viewers who want to get a balanced point of view in one film about the Boxer Rebellion, well, good luck! Chinese movies on the subject tend to do the exact extreme political opposite of 55 Days (which is just as bad!) And remember, though there are historical inaccuracies in 55 Days, Chinese movies (or more accurately, Hong Kong movies) can be just as inaccurate about their own culture! Check out any of the '70's Shaw Brothers kung-fu films if you don't believe me!

So in closing, personally, I would recommend watching this film, but only if you understand it's (many) flaws. For a truly balanced perspective on the subject, after watching 55 Days At Peking, check out The Boxer Rebellion/Bloody Avengers, a Shaw Brothers kung-fu flick about the Boxer Rebellion which exaggerates the Chinese p.o.v. at least as much (if not more) as 55 Days exaggerates the European/Japanese p.o.v. The real-truth lies right in-between these two films. Be sure you get the letter-boxed version of 55 Days, because the pan & scan really cuts out some important details (more so than other films.)

3-0 out of 5 stars OK action film marred by some faults
"55 Days at Peking" is a decent action film for a war genre fan or maybe some one who wants to see a different time period in a film. The film is pretty decent as far as its genre goes, but there were some problems in the storyline that made me give it no higher than three stars.

The first problem I had with this film was the inclusion of the mandatory American hero. It seems quite often whenever some thing is set in a foreign land and involves foreign - and is made in America - there HAS to be an American lead. Most of the other nationalities play a mostly minor role save for David Niven's character, who feels like a historic individual. I'm not saying the Americans weren't at Peking, but Charleton Heston's character feels a tad too cliche.

The second problem I had was the love story. It takes up a good part of the film and slows it down...in fact it very nearly made me lose all interest in this movie. Doesn't really do much to the story and leaves some holes open. Even when Ava Gardner's character meets an unfortunate circumstance, I couldn't feel sorry for her. I didn't care too much since the whole thing felt like a typical forced movie romance.

Finally, there are some historical inaccuracies. The battle didn't quite happen as the movie portrays it. These mistakes are all fairly minor, I suppose, and some might just flat out ignore it since the battle (and war, really) isn't well known.

On the whole, it wasn't that bad. There are some great battle scenes including a charge up a ramp behind a wheeled defense, firing shots through sliding windows, and the climactic assault with a huge artillery tower - this last part is my personal favorite, and for what it's worth I thought it was a pretty cool scene.

If you're a fan of to-the-last-man movies like the (superior) "Zulu" then you'll probably like this movie. Yes, some might not have compassion for the defenders since them being rescued meant an end to China's real independance, but I guess you really can't like the Boxers for trying to annihilate a group that includes women and children. Even if the Imperialists were morally bad guys, I can't hold compassion to the Boxers for their terrorist tactics. But enough of this...if you like this type of film, rent this and check it out.

4-0 out of 5 stars Exciting epic produced on the grand old scale
"55 days at Peking", has certainly in the years since it's release in 1963 come in for it's share of flack over its romantisizing of history, fictional characters and depiction of Chinese nationals. In reality however I feel you must look at this film first and foremost as the first class piece of entertainment based on historical events it was intended to be. I certainly appreciate the great effort and attention to detail that was lavished on this stunning recreation of the events surrounding the Boxer Rebellion of 1900 in Imperial China.

As an ardent student of chinese history in general I can see that the focus is upon the foreigners that were present in China at that time and that the Chinese point of view is rarely explored in detail. However what must be appreciated in this Samual Bronston production is the vivid recreation of Imperial China, the earnest performances by the leads, exquisite costumes, the excellent action scenes, and sublime musical score by the famed Dimitri Tiomkins which all add up to an engrossing two and a half hours of viewing. Charlton Heston as Major Matt Lewis the tempremental soldier for hire, David Niven as the upright British Ambassador Sir. Arthur Robertson and especially the ever beautiful Ava Gardner as the "scandalous" Russian Baroness Natalie Ivanoff all lend a commanding presence in their roles. Ava Gardner as the "woman of ill repute" who falls for Heston's no nonsense Major during the seige of the foreign legations during the rebellion and ends up paying for her devotion with her life has I feel never been better. Ava proves her often underestimated talent here as she develops from shallow society lady out for a good time, into a human being who learns the value of self sacrifice for something you believe in. The wonderful Victorian costumes which suit her so well also emphasize what a great beauty she was in her movie heyday. The main criticism of this film has always been directed at the depiction of Chinese characters by caucasian actors. I feel that there is little to get offended by here as in particular the depiction of the Dowager Empress Tzu-Hsi is actually done in a much more favourable light than how the woman actually was in real life. I feel Flora Robson lends a commanding presence as the Dowager Empress and her Chinese makeup, far from being offensive is fascinating and superbly done. Robert Helpmann also shines in his sinister role of Prince Tuan, the empress's chief advisor and evil genius. They are actors playing roles just like any other performer that portray a character not of his or her own nationality and they should be rightly seen as just that.

"55 Days at Peking", while certainly not historically accurate contains an exciting fictional story woven into historical fact. This does not necessarily make it a bad drama or production and indeed here we are treated to a great story full of action, romance and a vivid retelling of a dramatic story from a "human level" as was probably witnessed by those that lived through it. The depiction of the rise of the boxers into a violent nationalist movement, the actual rebellion and siege of the foreign legations in Peking resulting in much bloodshed and destruction , the vivid and beautiful recreation of life in the decadent Ching court under the Grand Dowager Empress, are all beautifully played out in a eye popping and engrossing drama. Samuel Bronston who was responsible for some great early 1960's epics such as "El Cid", and especially the classic "The Fall of the Roman Empire" here excels himself in recreating the times in 19th Century China. The sets are sumptous with Peking being magically brought to life on sets created in Spain.Rarely nowadays do yuo see such an allout effort in mounting a top class production. The Ching court as depicted here, while not up to later "The Last Emperor", standards is still wonderful and really portrays the beauty of court life that hid so much that was wrong with the ruling system in China at the time. Rarely have more vivid depictions of the lives of ordinary Chinese been portrayed and the rebellion sequences are second to none in their raw energy, savage depiction of the loss of life and the destruction caused.

"55 Days at Peking", is not perfect by any means but I feel it has been unfairly condemmed by the supposed political correctness movement. I really enjoy historical dramas, even of the romanticised kind and Charlton Heston and Ava Gardner really maintain your interest through the long running time with their excellent work in this film. Long before computer generated special effects this film sees one of the great sets built for a film during the 1960's and for that alone it is worth seeing apart from all its other good qualities. Enjoy a journey back to grand old film making of the old school when Charlton Heston and Ava Gardner do battle against the boxers in "55 Days at Peking".

2-0 out of 5 stars Excellent only for critical analysis
This film has only one redeeming quality- it provides an excellent opportunity to discuss bias, historical perspective, director's artistic liscence, and distortion of historical events. I viewed this film knowing that the Chinese, poorly portrayed by Americans or British, were being presented from a completely demeaning perspective that simultaneously plays the Americans as the savior heros. I plan to use this in my 7th grade social studies class to demonstrate exactly how a series of events as complex and consequential as the Boxer Rebellion can be recreated so completely and utterly wrong. Watch this as you would a Disney film like Mulan, knowing that it will only get the gist of something, and not provide any reliable characters or history. ... Read more


14. The Last Time I Saw Paris
Director: Richard Brooks
list price: $19.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 6302224403
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 38050
Average Customer Review: 4.25 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Reviews (16)

5-0 out of 5 stars Fine Elizabeth Taylor Performance In Excellent Romance Story
"The Last Time I Saw Paris", was a very important film in a number of ways for Elizabeth Taylor and she herself has commented in interviews that it was the first of her adult acting roles where she had a character to work with that wasn't just surface glamour but had deeper more interesting dimensions to it. Certainly her character of Helen Wills does reveal a new depth in her acting and most certainly helped pave the way for her great triumphs in the coming years in top class films like "Giant", and "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" that elevated her to super stardom. Interestingly this was Elizabeth's second teaming with leading man Van Johnson having already worked with him in a trite little comedy called "The Big Hangover". This time around Elizabeth Taylor is first billed in the credits over veteran MGM performer Johnson which illustrates clearly her growing worth with MGM who were now seriously grooming her for more meaty adult roles.

Based on a short story called "Babylon Revisited" by none other than F. Scott Fitzgerald, the screen writers have fashioned a tragically poignant love story that tells the story of two star crossed lovers who seemed to have "missed the boat", in obtaining a meaning in their lives in Post War Paris. Van Johnson plays Charles Wills a young reporter for the "Stars and Stripes" in Paris. He secretly dreams of writing the great novel that is in his head and in the midst of the celebrations for VE Day he encounters two very different sisters, Helen Ellswirth a flighty, beautiful fun loving girl not used to any responsibilty and her older sister Marion (Donna Reed),the down to earth emotionally repressed one. Both women are like night and day and while Marion falls for Charles it is Helen who captures his eye and his heart. They marry and Charles enters the unorthodox world of the Ellswirth family presided over by Helen and Marion's lovable but laid back father James (Walter Pidgeon in a delightful performance). They lead the gilded life of young carefree Americans in Paris and eventually have a daughter Vicki however as time goes on and the book rejections pile up for Charles the glow goes out of their marriage and the two begin to drift apart. Continually rejected by her increasingly embittered husband, Helen captures the attention of free loading tennis pro Paul Lane (Roger Moore) while Charles, beginning to slide into a drinking problem finds himself attracted to the carefree life offered by socialite Lorraine Quarl (Eva Gabor), another member of the lost generation aimlessly wandering through life's pleasures. All looks lost for the couple who have gone off in different directions and it takes a tragedy where Helen dies of pheumonia and Vicki is placed in the custody of an embittered Marion and her husband Claude (George Dolenz) for Charles to start to pick up the pieces of his life again. The story concludes with a sober Charles returning to all the old scenes of his former happiness with Helen in Paris in an effort to reclaim his daughter and begin afresh.

The film may be viewed by some as glossy romance and not much more however it is the sensible writing and outstanding acting by the principles that bring it to life. Elizabeth Taylor as stated displays a new maturity to her acting here and her chemistry with a very different performer as Van Johnson is surpringly honest and touching in particular in the more emotionally charged second half of the film. Van Johnson in a more mature role than usual delivers some of his best work in my belief and shows that he can be effective in poignant drama such as here. Donna Reed plays against her usual type as the embittered sister who misses out on the real love of her life and being normally associated with sweet characters her performance here does come across as quite startling. Walter Pidgeon, succeeds in stealing every scene he is in in a terrific later day performance. His carefree and perpetually broke aristocrat is a delightful character and he makes the most of his screen time. He displays a wonderful chemistry with Elizabeth Taylor and the two seem like two peas in a pod, both free spirits, in the opening scenes of the film. Pidgeon had already played Taylor's father once before in one of his teamings with Greer Garson in "Julia Misbehaves", in 1947. Eva Gabor rounds out the cast and displays her often underestimated talent in the role of the glamourous man trap who drifts from one husband to the next with little concern. Her ultimately sad character epitomises the "lost generation" that Fitzgerald captured so well in his short stories. Being after all a romance the film has a beautiful visual look to it with terrific on location photography around Paris used for many of Van Johnson's exterior shots. The recreation of the VE Day celebrations where real footage is intermingled with studio created scenes is first rate and really sets an accurate picture of the time and the place. Ably directed by Richard Brooks, the sterling work he got from Elizabeth Taylor here was bettered again by their next teaming in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof", for which Elizabeth received an Oscar nomination.

For lovers of romance in beautiful locations, "The Last Time I Saw Paris", is wonderful entertainment however this film is more than just that. It vividly recreates the feeling of a time in our fairly recent history and of the people who seemingly lost their way amid all the effort and heartbreak of reestablishing their lives in a post war world. Elizabeth Taylor went on to top stardom after this role and much of the credit for this film's quality acting wise must go to her. Highly recommended.

2-0 out of 5 stars How Original--A Frustrated Writer!
Uh-oh, here we go again with the "if only I could write the novel that's in me" character, this time played by Van Johnson, who can't really seem to make a go of his marriage to free-spirited Elizabeth Taylor. He drinks, she's a little too free-spirited. Had a hard time believing he would start to mess around with that Gabor woman when there's a Liz in his life. Walter Pidgeon shambles about as Liz's dad, Donna Reed looks pained and pinched as Liz's sister who sort of lost Van to Liz. Cloying child actress as the daughter of Van and Liz annoying. There's also something about the quality of the film they've been showing on NYC's Channel 13/PBS that makes me wonder whether it was recovered from a safe on the Andrea Doria.

I hope this was "The Last Time I Saw" this movie.

5-0 out of 5 stars From Victory to Success
This film is a beautiful achievement about several issues. First about WW2, the liberation of Paris and the role the Americans played in that event. Some Americans stayed behind and made Paris their « capital », their regular living quarters because of the artistic and easygoing atmosphere of the city, because of what they thought was the permanent celebrating calvacade. No surprise that George fell into the trap, married a young beauty and tried to live up to this city. But he failed. And that is the second achievement. It is a perfect love affair and lifelong love for a woman that he idolizes and yet is unable to equal and even to come close to. He fails his own love and he destroys himself in alcohol to forget his failure. She will die because of it, leaving him and their daughter stranded behind. This is a lesson about achieving anything in life : achievement is a lot harder than striving for it, a lot more haphazard and unguaranteed and when the illusion disappears there is nothing left but frustration and selfdestruction. Then George is torn apart by his love for the departed woman, his wife, and his guilt about it, the jealousy of her sister who grabs the daughter and gets a court order to take care of her, and his desire to recuperate his daughter that finds a similar desire in the girl who wants to live with her daddy. The sister will have to realize that she is chastizing him for her own sister's death, for her own rejection as a possible wife and for her incapability to have a child of her own with her own husband. The end of this film is an absolute tear-shedding scene that should rip the heart of any viewer apart. An amazing Elizabeth Taylor is enhancing the film with the art of one of the best actresses of those times.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU

5-0 out of 5 stars An Actress Comes of Age
Here in The Last Time I Saw Paris an interesting thing happens. Elizabeth Taylor becomes a woman. Before this picture there were really only two other outstanding performances by Miss Taylor. Or I should say where she was allowed to rise above the material. The first being of course the rhapsodic National Velvet and the second the astonishing A Place In The Sun. The films in between those and The Last Time I Saw Paris were mostly along the "Isn't she beautiful?" line of movie making, and, why not? That was the main engine of most Hollywood star vehicles of the day. A Star didn't have to be a talent. But it was essential to possess a presence that reached out from the screen and touched the audience in a primal way. Miss Taylor had that in spades but she had much more that was often eclipsed in the dazzling explosion of her extraordinary almost alien beauty.
But here in the hands of director Richard Brooks (who would later lead her to her triumph in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof) Miss Taylor finds a new level in her abilities as an actress. Her Helen is a woman of many layers and dark corners, of mercurial flights and deep sadness. Elizabeth at the tender age of 22 grasps all the aspects of this tragic woman and illuminates not only the screen with them but the whole enterprise as well. She shows us where she, as an actress is going in the future. And who she will become in her later films, one of the best screen actresses of the twentieth century. This is the real beginning of the Elizabeth Taylor of legend. She fills the role as no one of her generation could. Never again after this film would she sleepwalk through a film, a beautiful shadow to dream over.
She is aided in what is perhaps one of Van Johnson's best performances. Donna Reed scores high in the role of Helen's bitter sister and Walter Pidgon is a delight as her roguish father. A standout cameo is presented by Eva Gabor, (not Zsa Zsa) the only one of the famous sisters who had any real talent. The only false performance in the film comes from child actress Sandy Descher. When you compare her forced and overly cute performance to that of the child Elizabeth Taylor in "Jane Eyre" then you see what a treasure Miss Taylor has always been.
There is something so essentially wonderful in this gem from MGM and it is this. The Last Time I Saw Pairs is the perfect example of the last flowering in the 50's of the "woman's picture". Films where women could be multi faceted and complex and drive the story on under their own steam as whole human beings. This is a window to the 50's and a style of filmmaking that seems gone forever, great stories of strong women who fill the screen with power and grace. But with "Far From Heaven" and "The Hours" I may be wrong about forever.
I recommend this admittedly dated but charming film for anyone who wants to see what screen acting is all about. It is about thinking and Miss Taylor is a master at the craft.

2-0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed the paris backdrops not much else
Cute and funny when it needs to be. Too drippy and inane when it tries to be sentimental.

Van Johnson is a WW2 correspondent who manages to fall in love with Elizabeth Taylor, in a more amazing move Elizabeth Taylor falls in love with Van Johnson! Walter Pigeon appears as the eccentric father of the bride and Donna Reed is the older sister who tries to run the family with good sense and is often rebuffed.

When everyone is poor and struggling things hold together but when the family falls into money then everything crashes down. The journalist proves he doesn't have the great American novel (or great Paris novel wither in him). Each struggles with problems and they slowly drift apart. He to the bottle and she to another man.

Then things turn sappy and sentimental and whatever charm this movie has evaporates rapidly. All the characters are so self centered I thought at first I was watching a "Thirty-Something" flashback set in the 40s. ... Read more


15. Last Time I Saw Paris
Director: Richard Brooks
list price: $9.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 6303467504
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 101336
Average Customer Review: 4.25 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Reviews (16)

5-0 out of 5 stars Fine Elizabeth Taylor Performance In Excellent Romance Story
"The Last Time I Saw Paris", was a very important film in a number of ways for Elizabeth Taylor and she herself has commented in interviews that it was the first of her adult acting roles where she had a character to work with that wasn't just surface glamour but had deeper more interesting dimensions to it. Certainly her character of Helen Wills does reveal a new depth in her acting and most certainly helped pave the way for her great triumphs in the coming years in top class films like "Giant", and "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" that elevated her to super stardom. Interestingly this was Elizabeth's second teaming with leading man Van Johnson having already worked with him in a trite little comedy called "The Big Hangover". This time around Elizabeth Taylor is first billed in the credits over veteran MGM performer Johnson which illustrates clearly her growing worth with MGM who were now seriously grooming her for more meaty adult roles.

Based on a short story called "Babylon Revisited" by none other than F. Scott Fitzgerald, the screen writers have fashioned a tragically poignant love story that tells the story of two star crossed lovers who seemed to have "missed the boat", in obtaining a meaning in their lives in Post War Paris. Van Johnson plays Charles Wills a young reporter for the "Stars and Stripes" in Paris. He secretly dreams of writing the great novel that is in his head and in the midst of the celebrations for VE Day he encounters two very different sisters, Helen Ellswirth a flighty, beautiful fun loving girl not used to any responsibilty and her older sister Marion (Donna Reed),the down to earth emotionally repressed one. Both women are like night and day and while Marion falls for Charles it is Helen who captures his eye and his heart. They marry and Charles enters the unorthodox world of the Ellswirth family presided over by Helen and Marion's lovable but laid back father James (Walter Pidgeon in a delightful performance). They lead the gilded life of young carefree Americans in Paris and eventually have a daughter Vicki however as time goes on and the book rejections pile up for Charles the glow goes out of their marriage and the two begin to drift apart. Continually rejected by her increasingly embittered husband, Helen captures the attention of free loading tennis pro Paul Lane (Roger Moore) while Charles, beginning to slide into a drinking problem finds himself attracted to the carefree life offered by socialite Lorraine Quarl (Eva Gabor), another member of the lost generation aimlessly wandering through life's pleasures. All looks lost for the couple who have gone off in different directions and it takes a tragedy where Helen dies of pheumonia and Vicki is placed in the custody of an embittered Marion and her husband Claude (George Dolenz) for Charles to start to pick up the pieces of his life again. The story concludes with a sober Charles returning to all the old scenes of his former happiness with Helen in Paris in an effort to reclaim his daughter and begin afresh.

The film may be viewed by some as glossy romance and not much more however it is the sensible writing and outstanding acting by the principles that bring it to life. Elizabeth Taylor as stated displays a new maturity to her acting here and her chemistry with a very different performer as Van Johnson is surpringly honest and touching in particular in the more emotionally charged second half of the film. Van Johnson in a more mature role than usual delivers some of his best work in my belief and shows that he can be effective in poignant drama such as here. Donna Reed plays against her usual type as the embittered sister who misses out on the real love of her life and being normally associated with sweet characters her performance here does come across as quite startling. Walter Pidgeon, succeeds in stealing every scene he is in in a terrific later day performance. His carefree and perpetually broke aristocrat is a delightful character and he makes the most of his screen time. He displays a wonderful chemistry with Elizabeth Taylor and the two seem like two peas in a pod, both free spirits, in the opening scenes of the film. Pidgeon had already played Taylor's father once before in one of his teamings with Greer Garson in "Julia Misbehaves", in 1947. Eva Gabor rounds out the cast and displays her often underestimated talent in the role of the glamourous man trap who drifts from one husband to the next with little concern. Her ultimately sad character epitomises the "lost generation" that Fitzgerald captured so well in his short stories. Being after all a romance the film has a beautiful visual look to it with terrific on location photography around Paris used for many of Van Johnson's exterior shots. The recreation of the VE Day celebrations where real footage is intermingled with studio created scenes is first rate and really sets an accurate picture of the time and the place. Ably directed by Richard Brooks, the sterling work he got from Elizabeth Taylor here was bettered again by their next teaming in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof", for which Elizabeth received an Oscar nomination.

For lovers of romance in beautiful locations, "The Last Time I Saw Paris", is wonderful entertainment however this film is more than just that. It vividly recreates the feeling of a time in our fairly recent history and of the people who seemingly lost their way amid all the effort and heartbreak of reestablishing their lives in a post war world. Elizabeth Taylor went on to top stardom after this role and much of the credit for this film's quality acting wise must go to her. Highly recommended.

2-0 out of 5 stars How Original--A Frustrated Writer!
Uh-oh, here we go again with the "if only I could write the novel that's in me" character, this time played by Van Johnson, who can't really seem to make a go of his marriage to free-spirited Elizabeth Taylor. He drinks, she's a little too free-spirited. Had a hard time believing he would start to mess around with that Gabor woman when there's a Liz in his life. Walter Pidgeon shambles about as Liz's dad, Donna Reed looks pained and pinched as Liz's sister who sort of lost Van to Liz. Cloying child actress as the daughter of Van and Liz annoying. There's also something about the quality of the film they've been showing on NYC's Channel 13/PBS that makes me wonder whether it was recovered from a safe on the Andrea Doria.

I hope this was "The Last Time I Saw" this movie.

5-0 out of 5 stars From Victory to Success
This film is a beautiful achievement about several issues. First about WW2, the liberation of Paris and the role the Americans played in that event. Some Americans stayed behind and made Paris their « capital », their regular living quarters because of the artistic and easygoing atmosphere of the city, because of what they thought was the permanent celebrating calvacade. No surprise that George fell into the trap, married a young beauty and tried to live up to this city. But he failed. And that is the second achievement. It is a perfect love affair and lifelong love for a woman that he idolizes and yet is unable to equal and even to come close to. He fails his own love and he destroys himself in alcohol to forget his failure. She will die because of it, leaving him and their daughter stranded behind. This is a lesson about achieving anything in life : achievement is a lot harder than striving for it, a lot more haphazard and unguaranteed and when the illusion disappears there is nothing left but frustration and selfdestruction. Then George is torn apart by his love for the departed woman, his wife, and his guilt about it, the jealousy of her sister who grabs the daughter and gets a court order to take care of her, and his desire to recuperate his daughter that finds a similar desire in the girl who wants to live with her daddy. The sister will have to realize that she is chastizing him for her own sister's death, for her own rejection as a possible wife and for her incapability to have a child of her own with her own husband. The end of this film is an absolute tear-shedding scene that should rip the heart of any viewer apart. An amazing Elizabeth Taylor is enhancing the film with the art of one of the best actresses of those times.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU

5-0 out of 5 stars An Actress Comes of Age
Here in The Last Time I Saw Paris an interesting thing happens. Elizabeth Taylor becomes a woman. Before this picture there were really only two other outstanding performances by Miss Taylor. Or I should say where she was allowed to rise above the material. The first being of course the rhapsodic National Velvet and the second the astonishing A Place In The Sun. The films in between those and The Last Time I Saw Paris were mostly along the "Isn't she beautiful?" line of movie making, and, why not? That was the main engine of most Hollywood star vehicles of the day. A Star didn't have to be a talent. But it was essential to possess a presence that reached out from the screen and touched the audience in a primal way. Miss Taylor had that in spades but she had much more that was often eclipsed in the dazzling explosion of her extraordinary almost alien beauty.
But here in the hands of director Richard Brooks (who would later lead her to her triumph in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof) Miss Taylor finds a new level in her abilities as an actress. Her Helen is a woman of many layers and dark corners, of mercurial flights and deep sadness. Elizabeth at the tender age of 22 grasps all the aspects of this tragic woman and illuminates not only the screen with them but the whole enterprise as well. She shows us where she, as an actress is going in the future. And who she will become in her later films, one of the best screen actresses of the twentieth century. This is the real beginning of the Elizabeth Taylor of legend. She fills the role as no one of her generation could. Never again after this film would she sleepwalk through a film, a beautiful shadow to dream over.
She is aided in what is perhaps one of Van Johnson's best performances. Donna Reed scores high in the role of Helen's bitter sister and Walter Pidgon is a delight as her roguish father. A standout cameo is presented by Eva Gabor, (not Zsa Zsa) the only one of the famous sisters who had any real talent. The only false performance in the film comes from child actress Sandy Descher. When you compare her forced and overly cute performance to that of the child Elizabeth Taylor in "Jane Eyre" then you see what a treasure Miss Taylor has always been.
There is something so essentially wonderful in this gem from MGM and it is this. The Last Time I Saw Pairs is the perfect example of the last flowering in the 50's of the "woman's picture". Films where women could be multi faceted and complex and drive the story on under their own steam as whole human beings. This is a window to the 50's and a style of filmmaking that seems gone forever, great stories of strong women who fill the screen with power and grace. But with "Far From Heaven" and "The Hours" I may be wrong about forever.
I recommend this admittedly dated but charming film for anyone who wants to see what screen acting is all about. It is about thinking and Miss Taylor is a master at the craft.

2-0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed the paris backdrops not much else
Cute and funny when it needs to be. Too drippy and inane when it tries to be sentimental.

Van Johnson is a WW2 correspondent who manages to fall in love with Elizabeth Taylor, in a more amazing move Elizabeth Taylor falls in love with Van Johnson! Walter Pigeon appears as the eccentric father of the bride and Donna Reed is the older sister who tries to run the family with good sense and is often rebuffed.

When everyone is poor and struggling things hold together but when the family falls into money then everything crashes down. The journalist proves he doesn't have the great American novel (or great Paris novel wither in him). Each struggles with problems and they slowly drift apart. He to the bottle and she to another man.

Then things turn sappy and sentimental and whatever charm this movie has evaporates rapidly. All the characters are so self centered I thought at first I was watching a "Thirty-Something" flashback set in the 40s. ... Read more


16. All the Brothers Were Valiant
Director: Richard Thorpe
list price: $19.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 6303091938
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 29731
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent High Seas Adventure
"All the Brothers Were Valiant" is a straight forward adventure film, highly entertaining with a lean narrative that expedites the story.
The acting, by everyone, is good for its time and the overall look of the film is richly textured and romantic. The presentation of life on a whaling ship is far removed from the realities of whaling ships, according to history, but that's what literary or cinematic romance is all about.
I agree with the U.K. reviewer regarding Betta St. John as the native girl.
I find many MGM films from the early 50s to be notoriously dull, but "All the Brothers Were Valiant" is escapist entertainment at its finest.

5-0 out of 5 stars One good reason to watch this
A watchable film, and one that I never missed on telly when I was a kid. But there's one compelling reason to see it. When Stewart Granger is temporarily marooned (or something) in the Hawaiian islands (or somewhere like that - I last saw this about 15 years ago) his love interest is a 'native girl' played by Betta St John. This actress had an unremarkable semi-leading-lady career in Hollywood for a few years; see, for example, her brief appearance in The Student Prince as the unwanted harridan whom Edmund Purdom's character reluctantly marries. But here, in All The Brothers, she is a vision of divine loveliness. To this day - and I'm nearly 40 - I have never seen a more beautiful actress in any film. Get it for this reason only. ... ... Read more


17. Last Time I Saw Paris
Director: Richard Brooks
list price: $7.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 6301394178
Catlog: Video
Average Customer Review: 4.25 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Reviews (16)

5-0 out of 5 stars Fine Elizabeth Taylor Performance In Excellent Romance Story
"The Last Time I Saw Paris", was a very important film in a number of ways for Elizabeth Taylor and she herself has commented in interviews that it was the first of her adult acting roles where she had a character to work with that wasn't just surface glamour but had deeper more interesting dimensions to it. Certainly her character of Helen Wills does reveal a new depth in her acting and most certainly helped pave the way for her great triumphs in the coming years in top class films like "Giant", and "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" that elevated her to super stardom. Interestingly this was Elizabeth's second teaming with leading man Van Johnson having already worked with him in a trite little comedy called "The Big Hangover". This time around Elizabeth Taylor is first billed in the credits over veteran MGM performer Johnson which illustrates clearly her growing worth with MGM who were now seriously grooming her for more meaty adult roles.

Based on a short story called "Babylon Revisited" by none other than F. Scott Fitzgerald, the screen writers have fashioned a tragically poignant love story that tells the story of two star crossed lovers who seemed to have "missed the boat", in obtaining a meaning in their lives in Post War Paris. Van Johnson plays Charles Wills a young reporter for the "Stars and Stripes" in Paris. He secretly dreams of writing the great novel that is in his head and in the midst of the celebrations for VE Day he encounters two very different sisters, Helen Ellswirth a flighty, beautiful fun loving girl not used to any responsibilty and her older sister Marion (Donna Reed),the down to earth emotionally repressed one. Both women are like night and day and while Marion falls for Charles it is Helen who captures his eye and his heart. They marry and Charles enters the unorthodox world of the Ellswirth family presided over by Helen and Marion's lovable but laid back father James (Walter Pidgeon in a delightful performance). They lead the gilded life of young carefree Americans in Paris and eventually have a daughter Vicki however as time goes on and the book rejections pile up for Charles the glow goes out of their marriage and the two begin to drift apart. Continually rejected by her increasingly embittered husband, Helen captures the attention of free loading tennis pro Paul Lane (Roger Moore) while Charles, beginning to slide into a drinking problem finds himself attracted to the carefree life offered by socialite Lorraine Quarl (Eva Gabor), another member of the lost generation aimlessly wandering through life's pleasures. All looks lost for the couple who have gone off in different directions and it takes a tragedy where Helen dies of pheumonia and Vicki is placed in the custody of an embittered Marion and her husband Claude (George Dolenz) for Charles to start to pick up the pieces of his life again. The story concludes with a sober Charles returning to all the old scenes of his former happiness with Helen in Paris in an effort to reclaim his daughter and begin afresh.

The film may be viewed by some as glossy romance and not much more however it is the sensible writing and outstanding acting by the principles that bring it to life. Elizabeth Taylor as stated displays a new maturity to her acting here and her chemistry with a very different performer as Van Johnson is surpringly honest and touching in particular in the more emotionally charged second half of the film. Van Johnson in a more mature role than usual delivers some of his best work in my belief and shows that he can be effective in poignant drama such as here. Donna Reed plays against her usual type as the embittered sister who misses out on the real love of her life and being normally associated with sweet characters her performance here does come across as quite startling. Walter Pidgeon, succeeds in stealing every scene he is in in a terrific later day performance. His carefree and perpetually broke aristocrat is a delightful character and he makes the most of his screen time. He displays a wonderful chemistry with Elizabeth Taylor and the two seem like two peas in a pod, both free spirits, in the opening scenes of the film. Pidgeon had already played Taylor's father once before in one of his teamings with Greer Garson in "Julia Misbehaves", in 1947. Eva Gabor rounds out the cast and displays her often underestimated talent in the role of the glamourous man trap who drifts from one husband to the next with little concern. Her ultimately sad character epitomises the "lost generation" that Fitzgerald captured so well in his short stories. Being after all a romance the film has a beautiful visual look to it with terrific on location photography around Paris used for many of Van Johnson's exterior shots. The recreation of the VE Day celebrations where real footage is intermingled with studio created scenes is first rate and really sets an accurate picture of the time and the place. Ably directed by Richard Brooks, the sterling work he got from Elizabeth Taylor here was bettered again by their next teaming in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof", for which Elizabeth received an Oscar nomination.

For lovers of romance in beautiful locations, "The Last Time I Saw Paris", is wonderful entertainment however this film is more than just that. It vividly recreates the feeling of a time in our fairly recent history and of the people who seemingly lost their way amid all the effort and heartbreak of reestablishing their lives in a post war world. Elizabeth Taylor went on to top stardom after this role and much of the credit for this film's quality acting wise must go to her. Highly recommended.

2-0 out of 5 stars How Original--A Frustrated Writer!
Uh-oh, here we go again with the "if only I could write the novel that's in me" character, this time played by Van Johnson, who can't really seem to make a go of his marriage to free-spirited Elizabeth Taylor. He drinks, she's a little too free-spirited. Had a hard time believing he would start to mess around with that Gabor woman when there's a Liz in his life. Walter Pidgeon shambles about as Liz's dad, Donna Reed looks pained and pinched as Liz's sister who sort of lost Van to Liz. Cloying child actress as the daughter of Van and Liz annoying. There's also something about the quality of the film they've been showing on NYC's Channel 13/PBS that makes me wonder whether it was recovered from a safe on the Andrea Doria.

I hope this was "The Last Time I Saw" this movie.

5-0 out of 5 stars From Victory to Success
This film is a beautiful achievement about several issues. First about WW2, the liberation of Paris and the role the Americans played in that event. Some Americans stayed behind and made Paris their « capital », their regular living quarters because of the artistic and easygoing atmosphere of the city, because of what they thought was the permanent celebrating calvacade. No surprise that George fell into the trap, married a young beauty and tried to live up to this city. But he failed. And that is the second achievement. It is a perfect love affair and lifelong love for a woman that he idolizes and yet is unable to equal and even to come close to. He fails his own love and he destroys himself in alcohol to forget his failure. She will die because of it, leaving him and their daughter stranded behind. This is a lesson about achieving anything in life : achievement is a lot harder than striving for it, a lot more haphazard and unguaranteed and when the illusion disappears there is nothing left but frustration and selfdestruction. Then George is torn apart by his love for the departed woman, his wife, and his guilt about it, the jealousy of her sister who grabs the daughter and gets a court order to take care of her, and his desire to recuperate his daughter that finds a similar desire in the girl who wants to live with her daddy. The sister will have to realize that she is chastizing him for her own sister's death, for her own rejection as a possible wife and for her incapability to have a child of her own with her own husband. The end of this film is an absolute tear-shedding scene that should rip the heart of any viewer apart. An amazing Elizabeth Taylor is enhancing the film with the art of one of the best actresses of those times.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU

5-0 out of 5 stars An Actress Comes of Age
Here in The Last Time I Saw Paris an interesting thing happens. Elizabeth Taylor becomes a woman. Before this picture there were really only two other outstanding performances by Miss Taylor. Or I should say where she was allowed to rise above the material. The first being of course the rhapsodic National Velvet and the second the astonishing A Place In The Sun. The films in between those and The Last Time I Saw Paris were mostly along the "Isn't she beautiful?" line of movie making, and, why not? That was the main engine of most Hollywood star vehicles of the day. A Star didn't have to be a talent. But it was essential to possess a presence that reached out from the screen and touched the audience in a primal way. Miss Taylor had that in spades but she had much more that was often eclipsed in the dazzling explosion of her extraordinary almost alien beauty.
But here in the hands of director Richard Brooks (who would later lead her to her triumph in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof) Miss Taylor finds a new level in her abilities as an actress. Her Helen is a woman of many layers and dark corners, of mercurial flights and deep sadness. Elizabeth at the tender age of 22 grasps all the aspects of this tragic woman and illuminates not only the screen with them but the whole enterprise as well. She shows us where she, as an actress is going in the future. And who she will become in her later films, one of the best screen actresses of the twentieth century. This is the real beginning of the Elizabeth Taylor of legend. She fills the role as no one of her generation could. Never again after this film would she sleepwalk through a film, a beautiful shadow to dream over.
She is aided in what is perhaps one of Van Johnson's best performances. Donna Reed scores high in the role of Helen's bitter sister and Walter Pidgon is a delight as her roguish father. A standout cameo is presented by Eva Gabor, (not Zsa Zsa) the only one of the famous sisters who had any real talent. The only false performance in the film comes from child actress Sandy Descher. When you compare her forced and overly cute performance to that of the child Elizabeth Taylor in "Jane Eyre" then you see what a treasure Miss Taylor has always been.
There is something so essentially wonderful in this gem from MGM and it is this. The Last Time I Saw Pairs is the perfect example of the last flowering in the 50's of the "woman's picture". Films where women could be multi faceted and complex and drive the story on under their own steam as whole human beings. This is a window to the 50's and a style of filmmaking that seems gone forever, great stories of strong women who fill the screen with power and grace. But with "Far From Heaven" and "The Hours" I may be wrong about forever.
I recommend this admittedly dated but charming film for anyone who wants to see what screen acting is all about. It is about thinking and Miss Taylor is a master at the craft.

2-0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed the paris backdrops not much else
Cute and funny when it needs to be. Too drippy and inane when it tries to be sentimental.

Van Johnson is a WW2 correspondent who manages to fall in love with Elizabeth Taylor, in a more amazing move Elizabeth Taylor falls in love with Van Johnson! Walter Pigeon appears as the eccentric father of the bride and Donna Reed is the older sister who tries to run the family with good sense and is often rebuffed.

When everyone is poor and struggling things hold together but when the family falls into money then everything crashes down. The journalist proves he doesn't have the great American novel (or great Paris novel wither in him). Each struggles with problems and they slowly drift apart. He to the bottle and she to another man.

Then things turn sappy and sentimental and whatever charm this movie has evaporates rapidly. All the characters are so self centered I thought at first I was watching a "Thirty-Something" flashback set in the 40s. ... Read more


18. Casino Royale:Original James Bond
Director: Val Guest, John Huston, Ken Hughes, Joseph McGrath, Robert Parrish
list price: $9.99
our price: $9.99
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Asin: 6301308913
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 8660
Average Customer Review: 3.88 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars Wrong Royale
The Editorial Review is referring to a different version of Casino Royale from 1967 starring Peter Sellers and David Niven this version is from 1954, it is black & white and stars Barry Nelson. It was originally a live TV movie on CBS Climax. I reccomend this movie to any James Bond fan.

3-0 out of 5 stars An interesting spoof of James Bond films.
"Casino Royale" is interesting especially after seeing the "Austin Powers" films. You can see many of the Austin comic influences, including Austin in the casino, the fembots, and the music. However, today the movie looks out of date.

5-0 out of 5 stars VERY ODD
awkward and lumpy, this....thing....is strangely precogniscent of the theatrical Bond films that follow. if you get a chance to see this, pay close attention to the limited menu of special fx....because you've seen them all before; or since? rather weird.

3-0 out of 5 stars Barry Nelson predates Sean Connery as 007 in"Casino Royale."
In 1954, CBS broadcast a one-hour presentation of "Casino Royale" for its series "Climax Mystery Theatre." This original production, not the 1967 spoof, stars American actor Barry Nelson as Bond (often referred to as "Card-sense Jimmy Bond")and Peter Lorre as villain Le Chiffre. In this production, the American Bond is assisted by British agent Clarence Leiter! This is a pretty much by-the-numbers adaptation of roughly the first half of Ian Fleming's novel, and is merely adequate as far as thrills and action are concerned. Peter Lorre is, of course, the real gem here. For all its shortcomings, however, the original "Casino Royale" is worth watching for its sheer novelty, and the hints of grander things to come.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Casino Royale is a superb film ... Read more


19. Flame of the Islands
Director: Edward Ludwig
list price: $39.98
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Asin: 6300208303
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 110272
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20. Last Time I Saw Paris/Fathers Little Dividend
Director: Richard Brooks
list price: $9.95
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Asin: 630394504X
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 64256
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