RICHARD III: Sir Laurence Olivier’s earlier Shakespeare films, Henry V and Hamlet, worthy though they were, now look like the work of a skilled apprentice compared with the mature mastery of movie making evident in this superb historical melodrama. A sort of medieval crime comic about a human monster, it is not one of Shakespeare’s best plays; as a motion picture, it grips and fascinates throughout its two hours and forty minutes. Olivier’s title-role performance is a triumph of subtlety and venom, and his surrounding cast is virtually an Honors List of the British legitimate theatre.
THE BENNY GOODMAN STORY: Dull in the drama department, this hi-fi tribute to America’s King of Swing is nonetheless recommended for jazz enthusiasts. TV’s Steve Allen impersonates BG.
THE CONQUEROR: The vast battle scenes are properly spectacular but John Wayne, the weather-beaten old cowhand, was a curious choice to play Genghis Khan, the Mongol tyrant. Typical line of dialogue: “The slaves? Their tongues have been cut out. Speak freely!”
THE LADYKILLERS: Wearing a satanic bucktoothed make-up as the master brain of a quintet of London robbers, Alec Guinness is somewhat less believable than usual in this fast and ruthless British crime comedy. But Katie Johnson is nothing short of perfect as a prim old widow whose gentility terrifies the gang.
THE MAN WHO NEVER WAS: A superior spy thriller, based on Ewen Montagu’s true story about a corpse — with a fictitious “past" and important military documents — which helped the Allies invade Hitler’s Europe.
Anything Goes: Musical. Good.
The Big Knife: Drama. Good.
Bottom of the Bottle: Drama. Fair. Cockleshell Heroes: War drama. Good. The Colditz Story: Drama. Good.
The Court Jester: Comedy. Excellent.
The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell: Biographical drama. Good.
Doctor at Sea: British comedy. Fair. Forever Darling: Comedy. Fair.
Glory: Race-track drama. Fair.
The Great Adventure: Wildlife. Excellent. Guys and Dolls: Musical. Excellent. Heidi and Peter: Children's story. Good. Helen of Troy: Epic drama. Good.
Hill 24 Doesn’t Answer: Israeli war
I'll Cry Tomorrow: Drama. Good.
The Indian Fighter: Western. Fair. Kismet: Arabian Nights musical. Fair. Lady and the Tramp: Cartoon. Good. The Last Hunt: Western. Good.
Let's Make Up: Fantasy-musical. Poor.
The Lieutenant Wore Skirts: Comedy. Good. Littlest Outlaw: Children's story. Good. Lone Ranger: Western. Fine for kids. A Man Alone: Western. Fair. Man of the Moment: Comedy. Fair. The Man With the Golden Arm: Drugaddict drama. Good. Man With the Gun: Western. Good. Marty: Comedy-drama. Excellent. The Naked Sea: Documentary. Good. Naked Street: Crime drama. Fair. The Night My Number Came Up: British suspense drama. Good. Picnic: Comedy-drama. Excellent. The Prisoner: Drama. Excellent. Quentin Durward: Adventure. Good. Ransom!: Suspense drama. Good. Rebel Without a Cause: Drama. Fair. The Rose Tattoo: Comedy-drama. Good. Square Jungle: Boxing drama. Fair. Summertime: Romance. Excellent. The Tender Trap: Comedy. Good. Touch and Go: Comedy. Good. Trial: Drama. Excellent. The Trouble With Harry: Comedy. Good. Ulysses: Adventure drama. Fair. Value for Money: Comedy. Fair.
Gilmour’s guide to the current crop
MEET ME IN LAS VEGAS: A dandy Hollywood musical, probably the best in that category since Seven Brides For Seven Brothers. With Dan Dailey and the gorgeous Cyd Charisse.
THERE’S ALWAYS TOMORROW: A tedious soap opera in which Fred MacMurray, Joan Bennett and Barbara Stanwyck appear as Hubby, Wifie and Other Woman, respectively.
THE WOMAN FOR JOE: There are only a few flashes of honest emotion in this sad British melodrama about a carnival midget’s hopeless yearning for a full-grown glamor queen.
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