Monthly Archives: December 2013

The Survivors (1983)

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By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: Seeking refuge with vigilantes

Sonny (Walter Matthau) and Donald (Robin Williams) are a mismatched pair who inadvertently become involved with bad guy Jack (Jerry Reed) after witnessing him holding up a restaurant. Donald seeks protection by joining a radical militia group while Sonny chases after him in an attempt to get him out of it.

The story certainly has the foundation for good potent satire. It hits on the serious issue of average citizen vigilantes who become more fanatical and dangerous than the criminals themselves. It peaks with a scene in a gun shop were a little old lady packs herself with some really big guns. Unfortunately it becomes soft and aimless after that and the result is a clumsy comedy with too much nonsense thrown in for cheap laughs.

There is also too many shifts in allegiances here, which makes it all implausible. First Donald is on the run from Jack and even tells him off in a funny moment over the telephone. Then before you know it they are working together and going against the fanatical militia group that at one time Donald was really into. The final denouncement involving the true allegiance of the militia group’s leader is also absurd.

There are some good laughs, but they are scattered haphazardly throughout. The best stuff comes from Williams. He seems a little out of place at first playing the part of the henpecked businessman, but he quickly comes into his own. His shootout with Reed is the real topper and Matthau is as always consistently amusing.

The female cast is also interesting. Kristen Vigard is a nice addition as Matthau’s teen daughter. She is pretty and smart, but still quite sweet. Her relaxed and casual responses to things are a nice contrast to the frantic behaving adults. Annie McEnroe as Williams’ wife is also good only because of her facial expressions which never allow you to know what she is really thinking or feeling.

The best line comes from hit-man Reed: “I was raised a strict Southern Baptist and I place a high value on human life… at least $20,000.”

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: June 22, 1983

Runtime: 1Hour 43Minutes

Rated R

Director: Michael Ritchie

Studio: Columbia Pictures

Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video

The Art of Love (1965)

art of love

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: Artist fakes his death.

Paul (Dick Van Dyke) is a struggling painter living in Paris who has not been able to make any money with his paintings and feels ready to give up and move back to the states. Casey (James Garner) is his roommate and best friend who tries to convince him to stay by coming up with a scheme where Paul fakes his death by jumping off a bridge and committing suicide, which should bolster the value of his paintings based on the concept that an artist’s work becomes more sought after once they are dead. The plan works, but it forces Paul to go into hiding and allows Casey to make a play at Paul’s fiancée Laurie (Angie Dickinson). When Paul finds out about this he confronts Casey and then things get really zany.

Carl Reiner’s script is trite to the extreme and although it moves at a brisk pace it is not very funny, or even passably amusing. The concept of an artist having to die in order to get his work to sell is an interesting idea to explore, but unfortunately like everything else in the film it is handled in a superficial way and used mainly as a springboard to all sorts of other wild scenarios that become increasingly sillier as it goes along.  Norman Jewison’s direction is dull and unimaginative and despite the fact that it has a European setting it was actually filmed on a Universal studios back-lot, which doesn’t help give it any atmosphere or distinction.

Van Dyke’s character is unrealistically ‘goody-goody’ and clean-cut.  He comes into contact with Nikki (Elke Sommer) a beautiful blonde woman who shows a strong interest in Paul, but he immediately and rigidly rebuffs her like he has no sex drive at all. The comic schtick that he does here is the same stuff we’ve seen him do hundreds of times before and he basically becomes Rob Petrie again simply transplanted into a European setting.

Although he has less comic opportunity Garner is clearly the better actor and has much more of a screen presence. It is easy to see why he continued to get choice movie roles for decades to come while Van Dyke became permanently demoted back to television.

Sommer is wasted in a transparent role. Dickinson, who three years later co-starred with Van Dyke in Some Kind of a Nut is equally forgettable and her constant propensity at fainting becomes increasingly more unfunny the more it occurs.

Ethel Merman makes the most of her role despite its limitations, but every time she speaks she seems to be shouting. Reiner is probably the most amusing out of all the characters in a brief bit as Garner’s shyster lawyer.

I wish I could tell you that there was at least one truly funny moment here, but there really isn’t. The humor is flat and dated and no better than a poor TV-sitcom and in many ways even worse.

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: June 30, 1965

Runtime: 1Hour 39Minutes

Not Rated

Director: Norman Jewison

Studio: Universal

Available: None at this time.

Money Talks (1972)

money talks

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: It’s all about money.

Allen Funt the creator of ‘Candid Camera’ returns with his second cinematic feature all centered around pranks and stunts done on unsuspecting regular people to see just how far they will go when presented with the allure of money. The film examines the deep seated psychological effect that money has in society and how it controls what people do and in some cases what they don’t do.

This feature is an improvement over Funt’s first. Fortunately he keeps the majority of it on a comic level and avoids trying to make unnecessary ‘profound’ social statements. The film is also faster paced and although the music is still annoying it isn’t as bad and has a bit more of a funky beat. Some of the stunts aren’t necessarily all that funny and few become rather redundant and predictable. However, the majority of them I liked and even found fascinating including the one where a woman walks down the street and intentionally allows dollar bills to fall out of a hole in her pocket and drop to the ground behind her and how surprisingly many people would pick them up and chase after her to give them back. The funniest one is where a mild mannered middle-aged woman gets a job answering phone calls for a man who she finds out is a professional hit man. Hearing her diligently taking down an order and answering questions over the price of a hit while trying to mask her shock and remain calm had me laughing-out-loud.

A few of them are definite artifacts of a bygone era including the many relentless attempts a woman goes through to try to retrieve a simple five dollar bill that is lodged beneath a car tire. Another segment has a bare foot hippie girl begging for money on a street sidewalk and her startlingly naïve willingness to go back to a strange man’s apartment who approaches her and says he has shoes for her, which she almost does until Funt and crew advise her not to.

A few of the pranks have celebrities in disguise. My favorite was the one with actress Marian Mercer pretending to be a waitress and asking beforehand how much of a tip the customer planned to give her, so she could plan out what type of service she would give him. The segment where comedian Henny Youngman has no money to pay a hot dog vendor, so instead he tells the irritated man a bunch of lame jokes as ‘payment’ is quite funny and I wished it had been extended longer. Muhammad Ali’s bit isn’t quite as good, but his personality is as engaging as ever.

The film also has some good interviews including an opening bit where a commercial jingle writer comes up with on-the-spot a ditty for the film’s theme, which is not bad. Dominic the knife sharpener becomes almost a show in itself with the flamboyant way that he tries to bargain with Funt over not only how much he should be paid to sharpen his knives, but also for his fee to appear in the film. The interviews with hippies who don’t have jobs and don’t want them could have been more interesting had we seen what happened to them twenty years later and if they were still adamantly in the non-work camp, which I doubt. Funt also interviews his own 6-year-old daughter who is surprisingly more perceptive than you might think.

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: August 30, 1972

Runtime: 1Hour 21Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Allen Funt

Studio: United Artists

Available: Amazon Instant Video, Netflix streaming

Jingle All the Way (1996)

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By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: He needs Turbo man.

Howard (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a middle-aged father who finds that the long hours at his job is preventing him from attending some events that his young son Jake (Jamie Langston) is in including his karate exposition. This makes Howard feel bad and he tries to go to every effort to attain the much wanted Turbo Man action figure to give to Jamie for Christmas. Unfortunately every store is sold out of them and he must trek across the Twin Cities to find some place that might have them while competing with a mailman named Myron (Sinbad) who is on the same mission.

The film is energetic and engaging and the segment where Howard runs all through the Mall of America while chasing after a small bouncing ball is funny. The part where he kicks the burning head of a wise man statue out the window that sends carolers screaming and running for cover had me laughing-out-loud. I also liked the scene where he has to take on a roomful of bad guy santas with a giant plastic candy cane. One of the santas is so huge that he dwarfs Arnie and makes him look puny, which is hard to believe but true.

The climatic sequence done during a parade in which Howard and Myron dress up in costume to resemble the Turbo Man as well as his arch enemy and continue to battle each other for the toy is quite lively. Watching Howard flying around the Minneapolis skyscrapers while wearing a turbo charged jetpack is fun, but completely implausible that a costume to be worn at a parade would ever be equipped with something like that. It is also hard to believe that Jamie wouldn’t recognize his own father even if he is wearing a costume especially when he continues to speak in his very distinct Austrian accent.

Sinbad with his engaging personality is good in support. However, the scene where he is seen dumping letters out of his mail bag in order to keep up with Howard while running down a street is a federal offence and would most certainly get him terminated and even given some jail time and since he did it in broad daylight in front of others it could have easily gotten reported.

Langston as the kid is cute, but there are those from the old-school who think that a young child slamming a door in the face of a parent even if he is mad at him is quite rude and out-of-line. Also, being upset with his father because he doesn’t attend some of his events due to working hard at his job isn’t really fair. Becoming enslaved to a demanding job to keep up a cushy suburban existence is a plague of most fathers and if the Dad didn’t do it they might lose that nice house and be out on the street and I’m sure the borderline entitled kid would dislike that even more.

Robert Conrad is great in support as a tough-guy-like cop who is constantly having hilarious confrontations with Howard. Watching him give Howard a sobriety test is ironic since Conrad’s real-life car accident that he had while intoxicated, which occurred just a little after doing this essentially ended his acting career.

Phil Hartman is always good as a slimy character and in this case it is as the lecherous next-door-neighbor, but having him constantly speak his lines like he is a spokesman in a TV commercial becomes irritating. Harvey Korman and Laraine Newman appear in very small roles near the beginning and barely have any speaking lines, which made me wonder why they would even bother to appear at all.

The one-joke premise gets stretched about as far as it can go, but manages to come up with enough different scenarios to keep it feeling like it is evolving. The humor veers a bit too much to the cartoonish and although I liked the on-location shooting done for the most part in Minnesota I felt they didn’t take advantage of the Mall of America locale enough and more could have done more with it. The closing credits take an amazing 7 minutes off the runtime, but it is worth it to stick through them because there in one last amusing bit at the very, very end.

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My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: November 16, 1996

Runtime: 1Hour 29Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Brian Levant

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Available: VHS, DVD, Blu-ray

To All a Goodnight (1980)

to all a goodnight

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 2 out of 10

4-Word Review: Santa stalks sorority babes.

An initiation stunt at a girl’s sorority house goes horribly wrong and one young woman falls to her death off of a balcony. Two years later the girls get ready for a Christmas party by inviting some boys over and soon they are all getting down-and-dirty, but then someone dressed in a Santa Claus suit begins hacking them off one-by-one.

I’m a big fan of David Hess who directed this feature as I feel his performance as Krug in the classic horror movie Last House on the Left was effectively intense and this film is also written by Alex Rebar who starred in the cheesy cult flick The Incredible Melting Man, so I wanted to cut this movie some slack, but found that I couldn’t. Things start out bad from the very beginning with a tacky flashback sequence that is wretchedly acted and photographed and then things go straight downhill from there. Part of the problem is that the scenes featuring extraneous dialogue between a lot of bland, cardboard characters that is usually used at the beginning of most 80’s slasher flicks as a sort of set-up, but here they get strung along throughout the entire movie. The killings themselves are brief and paced so infrequently that you start to forget that this is supposed to be a horror film. The tension is nil and having a setting dealing with snarky, snotty and horny sorority babes is a tiresome cliché.

The killings themselves are poorly photographed in dark lighting, so it is difficult to follow the action. The special effects are cheap and unimpressive. One scene features a couple getting killed while they have sex, which is a poor rip-off of the same scene that was done in Mario Bava’s Bay of Blood. Some fans of the film boast about the scene featuring a death of two people by an airplane propeller, but this is really no big deal because all you see are a few seconds of blood splattering on the outside of the plane and that’s it.

The script is illogical and full of a lot of loopholes. The identity of the killer turns out to be two people using the same disguise, which doesn’t make sense for several different reasons, which is too may to elaborate here. There is also a Leia character played by Judith Bridges who gets accosted by the killer in a shower stall while being completely naked, but for some reason is not killed and instead we see her at the end dancing some nutty dance, but with no explanation as to why. The policemen hired to protect the girls after the first victim is found dead do not dress in uniform and instead look like they are ready to go out to a club to pick up chicks and behave like it, which seemed wholly unprofessional and ridiculous.

Jennifer Runyon makes her film debut here. She had a brief 13-year-run, which included a co-starring role in the 80’s series ‘Charles in Charge’, but has not appeared in anything since 1993’s Carnosaur. She is certainly easy on the eyes, but her voice is too high-pitched and sounds almost like she is 8 or 9 years old or someone who has sucked up helium. Hess also casts his mother Judy Hess in a small role as Mrs. Ronsoni although in the closing credits it gets incorrectly listed as Mr. Ronsoni.

Despite being set at Christmas the action takes place in the warm tropical climate of California, which is okay, but the expectation for a Christmas movie is to have snow and cold. Having the girls trapped in their house because of the frigid weather or being chased by the killer while trudging through deep snow could’ve helped heighten the tension and added an atmosphere.

The pounding electronic music score is the only thing that I liked and helped give this otherwise static and forgettable production a slight distinction.

My Rating: 2 out of 10

Released: January 30, 1980

Runtime: 1Hour 23Minutes (VHS Print)

Rated R

Director: David Hess

Studio: Intercontinental Releasing Corporation

Available: VHS

Charlie Bubbles (1968)

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By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: He’s detached from life.

Charlie Bubbles (Albert Finney) is a successful English writer who finds that he is no longer connected to the world around him. He sits in his office and views life from the television monitors around him. He has an affair with his secretary Eliza (Liza Minnelli in her film debut), but it means little. He travels to the countryside to visit his estranged wife Lottie (Billie Whitelaw) and his son Jack (Timothy Garland), but finds the effects of his detachment have worn off on them. No matter how hard he tries he cannot get his son to emotionally connect with him, which he finds troubling.

This is to date Finney’s only cinematic foray behind the camera and on a visual level it proves interesting. Most actors who turn to directing lack the needed cinematic eye, but Finney is just the opposite. The scene, which gets protracted, showing all the action inside Charlie’s sprawling home from within the television monitors that he has set-up is really cool. It’s like in the film Network where you see several monitors on top of each other and two per row. Each monitor shows a different room in the mansion as well as the garage. As the action moves from each room it also moves to a different monitor, which becomes fascinating to follow. The scene inside a hotel hallway with milk bottles and newspapers lined up at each door has an interesting design to it and the part where Charlie and Eliza come upon a lonely marching band in a desolate rundown part of the city has a unique visceral appeal. The massive food fight between Finney and actor Colin Blakely near the beginning of the film deserves a few points as well.

The downside to the direction is that the film is slow and almost as aloof as the character. The scenes become too extended and the dialogue has little to say. The segment inside a roadside diner has the sound of cars passing by it during the character’s conversation, which becomes distracting and unnecessary.

The Charlie character seems almost like he is sleepwalking and barely responds to anything. I realize this is to show his detachment, but it goes overboard. It’s like viewing a corpse who has no screen presence or energy and absolutely no connection with the viewer nor any ability to wrap them in to his quandary.

Minnelli makes for an odd choice to represent the film’s sexual tensions. She was never considered attractive and her constant and incessant chattering while the two ride in a car would be enough to make most men want to throw her out let alone make love to her. The sex scene itself is about as mechanical as you can get and lacks eroticism. It also becomes like a throwaway scene that doesn’t end up having that much to do with the story as a whole.

The viewer needs more of a background to this character in order to make him real and interesting. Simply showing someone who is detached doesn’t mean much unless we know why and if he was at any time any way else. The ponderous ending leaves a lot to be desired and watching this movie is similar to viewing a program on C-Span as it comes-off like a nonevent.

My Rating: 4 out of 10

Released: February 11, 1968

Runtime: 1Hour 29Minutes

Not Rated

Director: Albert Finney

Studio: Universal

Available: None at this time.

What Do You Say to a Naked Lady? (1970)

what do you say to a naked lady 2

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: Adult style Candid Camera

Allen Funt was a man who started a show in the 40’s on radio called ‘Candid Microphone’, which would catch everyday people in weird, unexpected situations and then get their reactions. With the advent of TV the show switched to the new medium and called itself ‘Candid Camera’ and it became a hit that lasted well into the 70’s. This movie looks at some of the X-rated gags that were too hot for TV. The majority of them have to do with naked women bumping into unsuspecting men in public and getting their reaction. There are also hidden cameras showing viewers watching this movie and then getting their feedback.

The majority of the film really isn’t all that funny. The reactions of the people are predictable and the novelty of seeing people caught off guard by the sight of a naked beautiful woman wears off pretty quickly. Some of the better moments include an interview with a middle-aged woman who sleeps around with a lot of men and admits that she likes it when they get rough with her during sex as that heightens the excitement. There is also an interview with a seventeen-year-old girl who confides to already having sex with 20 men and feels that it can enhance the marriage by being more sexually experienced and not a virgin. Then the girl’s mother watches the interview and admits that although she did ‘save herself for marriage’ she regrets it and feels that her daughter has a good point. Another funny segment deals with a woman looking to be at least 90 who talks about liking big penises and reading sex manuals that shocks even Funt.

Some of the moments where people don’t react instead of when they do are actually more interesting particularly when various different women find themselves alone in a room with a naked man. Another segment deals with an interracial couple openly making out in public, which at the time was still considered ‘controversial’, while in front of senior citizens who respond indifferently and even ignore it, which if anything gets Funt upset and he tries to goad them a little, but to no effect.

The film’s biggest weakness is that it tries biting-off-more-than-it-can-chew. The ‘Candid Camera’ TV-show was nothing more than a gimmick for laughs and this film should have left it at that level, but instead Funt tries to make some ‘profound’ statement in relation to society’s sexual hypocrisy and changing mores that now seem dated and derivative. What may have been titillating at the time is now stale and boring.

The movie’s musical score is another major problem.  All the songs have a generic ‘Sesame Street’ melody to them and the lyrics of each song narrate what is happening on the screen, which isn’t necessary and condescending to the viewer.

There is also a segment where Funt interviews people on the street asking them if they know how birds have sex, which I found interesting because I never thought about it before and it got me to go to Wikipedia to read about it. However, the film never answers its own question, which I thought was weak. They should have shown some nature footage of two birds ‘getting-it-on’, which probably would have been the most provocative and genuinely fascinating thing in the whole movie.

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My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: February 18, 1970

Runtime: 1Hour 25Minutes

Rated X

Director: Allen Funt

Studio: United Artists

Available: DVD, Amazon Instant Video

Sitting Ducks (1980)

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By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: Running from the mob.

Simon (Michael Emil) and Sidney (Zach Norman) are two average guys with vastly different temperaments who decide to rip-off the mob by stealing their entire day’s collections. They then hide the money in the tires of their car while driving off with it to Florida where they hope to catch a chartered flight that will take them to Costa Rica. Along the way they meet up with two ditzy ladies (Irene Cagen, Patrice Townsend) as well as a chauffeur (Richard Romanus) who dreams of being a singer.

Michael Emil, who is the brother of the director Henry Jaglom, is a very poor actor and comes off as a third-rate Woody Allen. He talks incessantly about all his neurotic problems in a monotone style that has no voice inflections or facial gestures and ends up becoming more boring than funny and he is easily outperformed by his co-star Norman. Townsend, the director’s then wife, is not much better. She shows no ability at creating a character and seems to just mouth all her lines while having this big smile plastered on her face. The overall production has an amateurish look and the story itself seems like two movies rolled into one. The first part starts out like an intriguing crime caper and then the second part becomes this free spirited road movie. It would have worked better had they taken just one of the story lines to its satisfying conclusion instead of having two unsatisfying half stories. The set-up is great, but then doesn’t go anywhere with it and the ‘big’ twist that occurs near the film’s final fifteen minutes doesn’t work and has a bunch of loopholes in it that are a mile wide.

I did like the film’s free-form style that is lacking in many of today’s Hollywood produced movies that have too much of a rapid fire pace. The characters all have a wide assortment of fun quirks and their offbeat conversations are amusing. Richard Romanus, as the group’s chauffeur and struggling musician, comes off best and his songs aren’t bad either and the scene where Simon and Sidney try to have an ‘important’ discussion while walking through a field of cackling chickens is a gem.

This forerunner to the independent film movement has a few good quirky moments and characters, but it never comes together enough to be completely satisfying. Although overall it is still enough to find enjoyable.

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: April 4, 1980

Runtime: 1Hour 27Minutes

Rated R

Director: Henry Jaglom

Studio: International Rainbow

Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video

Punishment Park (1971)

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By Richard Winters

My Rating: 8 out of 10

4-Word Review: Grueling race in desert.

Political radicals from the Vietnam era are arrested and then giving a choice between either spending time in federal prison or participating in a grueling race in the desert known as ‘Punishment Park’. A news crew comes along to cover the events, but finds that the soldiers hired to monitor the race use increasingly brutal treatments on the participants and the violence and elements soon get out-of-hand. Tempers and emotions run high and ugly, angry confrontations abound.

This film really packs a punch. It has a lot of raw emotion that seems missing in so many other films. Director Peter Watkins allowed the cast to ad-lib and his loose style helps create a vivid and unpredictable atmosphere. The ongoing arguments between the prisoners and those hired to judge and interrogate them is very entertaining and the highlight of the whole film. The editing between the interrogations and the race is sharp and intense.  The violence and most especially the ending is brutal and disturbing. Despite this being a pseudo-documentary it is so skillfully done that it seems very much like the real thing.

The only flaw with the film is the fact that no policemen would allow the film crew to go free, or at least not destroy their footage after capturing their brutal and unlawful methods. Most likely the crew would have ended up receiving the same ugly fate as the other victims.

This is a very emotionally charged film that should get a strong reaction from anyone who sees it. This is also a great chance to see independent filmmaking before it was trendy and working completely outside of the mainstream.

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My Rating: 8 out of 10

Released: October 9, 1971

Runtime: 1Hour 28Minutes

Rated R

Director: Peter Watkins

Studio: Sherpix

Available: DVD (Region 1 and 2), Blu-ray, Amazon Instant Video

The Color Purple (1985)

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By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: Sisters try to reunite.

Celie (Whoopi Goldberg) is a young black woman living in rural Georgia during the early 1900’s. She gets stuck in an arranged marriage to Albert (Danny Glover) who is abusive and has more of an interest in her younger sister Nettie (Akosua Busia).  When Nettie comes to visit them Albert tries to rape her and when she is able to fight him off it enrages him and her throws her out of the house and refuses to let the two sisters ever talk to each other again. Nettie makes efforts to contact Celie through letters, but Albert seizes them and takes them away before Celie can read them. Eventually Celie adjusts to the domineering ways of her husband until she becomes friends with Shug (Margaret Avery) who gives her the strength and confidence to stand up to him.

I have never read the Alice Walker novel from which this film is based, but I feel it would’ve worked better had Steven Spielberg not directed it as it unfortunately gets too much of the patented Spielberg treatment. Every scene reeks of a Hollywoodnized glossiness and certain scenes are so manipulative sappy that it becomes almost painful to watch. The musical score is overplayed and not reminiscent of the time period. A similar film like Sounder worked better because most of the scenes had no background music and was a better reflection of a quieter and slower paced era.

There are also moments of cute comedy, which seems a bit out-of-place and confuses what the underlying intent of the production was. Are the filmmakers trying to make a genuine recreation of a bygone era, or simply entertainment fluff and at points it gets very merged and hard to tell. This film also had some of the tackiest snow scenes I have ever seen. It looks like white stuff that was simply spray painted onto the ground and the shot showing snow falling while there is bright green foliage on all of the trees looks so ridiculous and I wondered why they had even bothered. Also, when talking about someone in a mocking manner as Celie and Nette do about Albert it is probably wise to at least close the bedroom door and make sure the source of your mockery isn’t standing right outside listening in.

Goldberg is good in an uncharacteristically restrained performance although her character is so extremely submissive that it frustrates the viewer and makes you want to reach out and shake her. Oprah Winfrey is quite engaging and simply watching the way she walks up the dirt road driveway when she first appears is a hoot. The scene where she is attacked by an angry mob of white people is the best dramatic moment of the whole film. Avery is also good simply because of her great singing voice and her vibrant rendition of ‘Sister’ is excellent although the ‘sing-off’ that she has near the end with a gospel church choir gets to be too much.

Glover gives one of his best performances and looks so much younger especially at the beginning that I had to do a double-take when I first spotted him. I liked the way that he is shown as domineering and cruel with Celie, but when out in the public he is quite intimidated and quiet with everyone else. Adolph Caesar who plays Albert’s father is a real scene stealer especially with his reaction to a glass of water that has Celie’s spit in it and the glib comments that he makes at the dinner table during a family confrontation.

The production values are great, but Spielberg over-directs and it becomes too slick for its own good. The story is never allowed to breathe on its own and a little more of a gritty, raw style was needed. The movie also goes on too long and takes a few too many tangents.

My Rating: 4 out of 10

Released: December 18, 1985

Runtime: 2Hours 34Minutes

Rated PG-13

Director: Steven Spielberg

Studio: Amblin Entertainment

Available: VHS, DVD, Blu-ray