BEST BET BEN-HUR: Justifiable misgivings usually prevail when Hollywood spends a fortune on a costumed “epic,” but for once the final product lives up to its own ballyhoo. The characters in the story—including Charlton Heston as the title-role Jewish aristocrat and Haya Harareet as his low-born sweetheart—arc just as important as the tumultuous spectacles. Among the latter are a chariot race and a primitive naval battle, both crammed with thrills. Stephen Boyd as Messala is a memorable Roman villain. Even the Crucifixion and other religious episodes are handled with unmaudlin vitality under William Wyler’s direction.
BELOVED INFIDEL: A smoothed-over and rather dull dramatization of the true-life romance between F. Scott Fitzgerald, the despairing and drunken novelist, and Sheilah Graham, the Cockney cutie who became a Hollywood gossip columnist. The roles are played, conscientiously but seldom convincingly, by Gregory Peck and Deborah Kerr.
THE CAPTAIN FROM KOEPENICK: Also based on real events is this engaging satire from Germany. It offers a remarkably persuasive performance by Heinz Ruhmann as a shoemaker who masquerades as an army officer and makes a mockery of Prussian militarism.
THE MAN WHO UNDERSTOOD WOMEN: Half-fraud, half-genius is the eccentric moviemaker Henry Fonda plays in this intermittently amusing romantic comedy, with Leslie Caron as a French actress who becomes his sorely frustrated spouse. Rating: fair.
NORTH WEST FRONTIER:*A spectacular and generally entertaining action drama from Britain, filmed in India where the turn-of-the-century events are supposed to happen. A bullet-splattered old train, a horde of savage “natives,” a cheerful English captain (Kenneth More) and a plucky American governess (Lauren Bacall) are among the prime attractions.
THE WRECK OF THE MARY DEARE: Gary Cooper and the busy Charlton Heston are the well-matched principals in this excellent mystery-and-action thriller, with a sombre "ghost ship” and a chilly court of inquiry as the contrasting locales.
GIL1VIOLRS GUIDE TO THE CURRENT CROP
Anatomy of a Murder: Courtroom drama. Excellent.
Ask Any Girl: Comedy. Good.
The Best of Everything: Drama. Fair. The Bloody Brood: Crime drama. Fair. Bohhikins: British comedy. Fair.
Career: Show-world drama. Fair. Carlton-Browne of the F.O.: British comedy. Good.
The Devil’s Disciple: GBS comedy-drama. Fair.
Ferry to Hong Kong: British comedydrama. Fair.
The FBI Story: G-man drama. Good. The Five Pennies: Biog-musical. Good. Girls Town: Reformatory drama. Poor.
A Hole in the Head: Comedy. Good. House of Intrigue: Spy drama. Fair.
It Started With a Kiss: “Naughty” comedy. Good.
The Jayhawkers: Western. Fair.
The Last Angry Man: Drama. Good. Left, Right and Centre: Comedy. Fair. Libel: Courtroom drama. Fair.
Look Back In Anger: Drama. Good.
The Man Who Couldn’t Talk: Courtroom drama. Fair.
The Mouse That Roared: Comedy. Good. North by Northwest: Comedy-thriller by Hitchcock. Excellent.
The Nun’s Story: Drama. Excellent. Odds Against Tomorrow: Drama. Good. On the Beach: Atom-survival drama. Good.
Pillow Talk: Comedy. Excellent.
Porgy and Bess: Music-drama. Good. Pork Chop Hill: War drama. Good.
The Rabbit Trap: Drama. Fair.
The Roof: Italian comedy-drama.
Room at the Top: Adult drama from Britain. Excellent.
The Scapegoat: Drama. Fair.
Sign of the Gladiator: Drama. Poor.
A Summer Place: Drama. Fair.
10 Seconds to Hell: Suspense. Fair.
They Came to Cordura: Drama. Good. Third Man on the Mountain: Alpine drama. Good.
—30—: Newspaper drama. Fair.
Tiger Bay: Suspense drama. Good. Upstairs and Downstairs: Comedy. Fair. The Wonderful Country: Western. Good. Yesterday’s Enemy: War drama. Good.
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