Road House is one of those movies that helped usher out the era of action films that had feasible plot lines (and also helped reverse the direction of Patrick Swayze's career arc). Swayze stars as Dalton: a handsome, existential bouncer who owns both a degree in philosophy and a Mercedes and that's perhaps the most believable aspect of the whole movie. Dalton runs afoul of Wesley (Ben Gazzara), the meanest SOB round these parts, by taking up with his former girlfriend, Doc (Kelly Lynch)--the only woman in town with an IQ approaching double digits, even if she had unfathomably hooked up with such a lowlife. Swayze had complained about being typecast as beefcake when this was made, but that didn't stop him from revealing as much skin as possible. It's so insulting to its audience that it's nice to be able to turn the tables and laugh at the filmmakers.--David Kronke, Amazon.com
Thomas Crown is a self-made billionaire who can buy anything he wants and is irresistible to women. But there are some things that money can't buy. Thomas Crown has run out of challenges.
Anatomy of a Murder, Otto Preminger's 1959 film of the novel by Robert Traver (a pen name for a Michigan Supreme Court Justice), was controversial in its day for making frank on-screen use of then-unheard words such as "panties", "rape" and "spermatogenesis"--and it remains a trenchant, bitter, tough, witty dissection of the American legal system. With its striking Saul Bass title design and jazzy Duke Ellington score, Anatomy of a Murder takes a sophisticated approach unusual for a Hollywood film of its vintage. Most radically, it refuses to show the murder or any of the private scenes recounted in court, leaving it up to us to decide along with the jury whether the grumpy and unconcerned Lieutenant Frederick Manion (Ben Gazzara) was or was not subject to an "irresistible impulse" tantamount to insanity when he shot dead Barney Quill, the bear-like bar owner alleged to have raped Manion's teasing trailer-trash wife Laura (Lee Remick in unfeasibly tight trousers). James Stewart plays Paul "Polly" Biegler a former District Attorney keen to get back into court to clash with the political dullard who replaced him in office. Biegler is supported by the skills of his snide secretary (Eve Arden) and boozy-but-brilliant research partner (Arthur O'Connell). For the prosecution, the befuddled local DA hauls in Dancer (George C Scott), a prissy legal eagle from the local big city whose sharp-suited, sly elegance makes an interesting clash with Biegler's "aw-shucks" jimmy-stewartian conniving. This is simply the best trial movie ever made, with a real understanding of the way lawyers have to be not only great actors but stars, assuming personalities that exaggerate their inner selves and weighing every outburst and objection for the effect it has on the poor saps in the jury box. On the DVD: The print is letterboxed to 1.85:1, but it's a bit of a cheat since that seems to involve trimming the top and bottom of the image (losing the steps under and the clouds above the Columbia lady in the opening titles), though the film isn't seriously hurt by a tighter look at the action. Also included are: an Ellington-scored photo montage, soundtracks in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish with subtitles in ten languages, filmographies for director and principal cast, original advertising (highlighting Saul Bass' poster designs, a trailer and more trailers for more Columbia Jimmy Stewart or courtroom films. --Kim Newman
When thrill-seeking billionaire Thomas Crown (Pierce Brosnan) pulls off his boldest stunt ever - stealing a priceless painting in broad daylight from a Manhattan museum - he finds himself up against an even greater challenge: winning the heart of the beautiful insurance investigator (Rene Russo) hired to retrieve the artwork.
A virtuoso JAMES STEWART (Vertigo) plays a small-town Michigan lawyer who takes on a difficult case: that of a young Army lieutenant (The Killing of a Chinese Bookie's BEN GAZZARA) accused of murdering the local tavern owner who he believes raped his wife (Days of Wine and Roses' LEE REMICK). This gripping, envelope-pushing courtroom potboiler, the most popular film from Hollywood provocateur OTTO PREMINGER (Laura), was groundbreaking for the frankness of its discussion of sexmore than anything else, it is a striking depiction of the power of words. With its outstanding supporting cast including a young GEORGE C. SCOTT (Patton) as a fiery prosecuting attorney and legendary real-life attorney JOSEPH N. WELCH as the judgeand influential jazz score by DUKE ELLINGTON, Anatomy of a Murder is a Hollywood landmark; it was nominated for seven Oscars, including best picture. Special Edition Features New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition New alternate 5.1 soundtrack, presented in DTS-HD Master Audio on the Blu-ray edition New interview with Otto Preminger biographer Foster Hirsch Critic Gary Giddins explores Duke Ellington's score in a new interview A look at the relationship between graphic designer Saul Bass and Preminger with Bass biographer Pat Kirkham Newsreel footage from the set Excerpts from a 1967 episode of Firing Line, featuring Preminger in discussion with William F. Buckley Jr. Excerpts from the work Anatomy of Anatomy: The Making of a Movie Behind-the-scenes photographs by Life magazine's Gjon Mili Trailer, featuring on-set footage PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Nick Pinkerton and a 1959 Life magazine article on real-life lawyer Joseph N. Welch, who plays the judge in the film
The trailblazing independent auteur JOHN CASSAVETES (Opening Night) pushes his raw, uncompromising emotional realism to its limit in this unflinching portrait of masculinity in crisis. Cassavetes joins BEN GAZZARA (Anatomy of a Murder) and PETER FALK (Mikey and Nicky)both of whom would become key collaborators of the director'splaying a trio of middle-aged Long Island family men who, following the sudden death of their best friend, channel their grief into an epic, multiday bender that takes them from Manhattan to London in a desperate, debauched quest to feel alive. By turns painfully funny and woundingly perceptive, this self-described comedy about life, death, and freedom stands as perhaps the most fearless, harrowingly honest deconstruction of American manhood ever committed to film. Special Features: New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack Audio commentary from 2009 featuring critic Marshall Fine New interviews with producer Al Ruban and actor Jenny Runacre New video essay featuring audio recordings of John Cassavetes in his own words exploring the actor director's spirited approach to acting The Story of HusbandsA Tribute to John Cassavetes (2009), a half-hour program featuring Ruban, actor Ben Gazzara, and cinematographer Victor J. Kemper Episode of The Dick Cavett Show from 1970 featuring Cassavetes, Gazzara, and actor Peter Falk Trailer PLUS: An essay by filmmaker Andrew Bujalski
At times brilliant and insightful, at times repellent and false, Happiness is director Todd Solondz's multi-story tale of sex, perversion and loneliness. Plumbing depths of Crumb-like angst and rejection, Solondz won the Cannes International Critics Prize in 1998 and the film was a staple of nearly every critic's Top 10 list. Admirable, shocking, and hilarious for its sarcastic yet strangely empathetic look at consenting adults' confusion between lust and love, the film stares unflinchingly until the audience blinks. But it doesn't stop there. A word of strong caution to parents: One of the main characters, a suburban super dad (played by Dylan Baker), is really a predatory paedophile and there is more than an attempt to paint him as a sympathetic character. Children are used in this film as running gags or, worse, the means to an end. Whether that end is a humorous scene for Solondz or sexual gratification for the rapist becomes largely irrelevant. Happiness is an intelligent, sad film, revelatory and exact at moments. It's also abuse in the guise of art. That's nothing to celebrate. --Keith Simanton
Fine casting, rugged characters and authentic military detail make The Bridge at Remagen one of the best World War II action films of the 1960s. Based on actual incidents during the final Allied advance on Germany in March 1945, the story focuses on the US Army's exhausted 27th Armoured Infantry, assigned to seize the bridge at Remagen, on the Rhine river, to prevent 50,000 German troops from retreating to safety. Lt Hartman (George Segal) leads the mission, while a Nazi major (Robert Vaughn) defies orders by attempting to hold the bridge instead of blowing it up. With strong emphasis on war's harsher realities, the film's compelling characters illustrate the camaraderie of survivors and the heroism of mavericks in the thick of battle. Segal and Ben Gazzara effectively convey a hard-won friendship, and the film's dynamic action (filmed in Czechoslovakia and Italy) never overwhelms the story's emotional impact. This is highly recommended. --Jeff Shannon, Amazon.com
Mafia thriller story of a man condemned to prison for murder where his coldblooded ruthlessness and brilliance earns him the nickname 'The Professor'. From his cell he sets out to take control of all the extortion rackets in Naples. The streets soon run red...
Receiving its long-overdue world premiere High Definition release, as part of this BFI Dual Format Edition, John Cassavetes' emotionally charged 1977 film Opening Night stands as one of the great American movies about theatre and the art of performance, and was nominated for 2 Golden Globe Awards. Featuring the great Gena Rowlands (A Woman under the Influence) in an award-winning role as the Broadway legend Myrtle Gordon. When a young fan dies in an accident while trying to meet her, Gordon must confront her personal demons in the run-up to the opening of her latest play. Opening Night also stars John Cassavetes in a rare acting role in one of his own films, alongside regular collaborator Ben Gazzara (Husbands, The Big Liebowski, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie). Special Features: Audio Commentary (Feature length) Memories of John (DVD only) Falk on Cassavetes part 3: the later years (DVD only)
The man who made the Twenties roar! The story of the rise and fall of the infamous Chicago gangster Al Capone (Ben Gazzara) and the control he exhibited over the city during the prohibition years as well as with his subsequent fall...
A prime example of 1990s independent film-making, Buffalo 66 is a little-known gem of a film which, once found, will be cherished. Vincent Gallo--the New York Bohemian extraordinaire--co-wrote the semi-autobiographical script. He also directed and starred in this dark comedy and, as if that wasn't enough, contributed to the mind-blowing soundtrack. By employing alternative filming techniques for what is, in essence, a traditional boy-meets-girl story, Gallo has created an indie movie with genuine mainstream appeal. A handheld camera and the flashback sequences use beautiful grainy cine film and 70s Polaroids, while as a whole the tone of the piece shifts between lavish theatrical images and reality TV. However, out of the many mesmerising scenes within the film, it is the isolated performances that offer the most heartfelt beauty, notably Cristina Ricci's solo light tap dance and Gazzara's mime to a song actually performed by Gallo's father in the distant past. An all-star cast also includes Angelica Huston, Ben Gazzara and Mickey Rourke. Buffalo 66 is an overlooked modern classic just waiting to be discovered. --Nikki Disney
Receiving its long-overdue High Definition premiere as part of this Dual Format edition The Killing of a Chinese Bookie is John Cassavetes' uncompromising character study of a gangster. Cassavetes regular Ben Gazzara (Anatomy of a Murder Husbands The Big Lebowski) plays a seedy Los Angeles strip-club owner who runs up heavy gambling debts which he arranges to wipe out by murdering an elderly Chinese gangster. Also amongst the cast is Cassavetes regular Seymour Cassel (Faces Rushmore) and legendary cult actor Timothy Carey (The Killing Paths of Glory). Arguably the most plot-driven of his films Cassavates withdrew The Killing of a Chinese Bookie shortly after the initial release and subsequently re-cut a shorter version with a different opening. Both cuts are made available on Blu-ray and the DVD. Special Features: Presented in both High Definition and Standard Definition Includes both the 135 minute and 108 minute re-cut versions Selected scene commentary by Al Rubin and Peter Bogdanovich on long version Extensive booklet with essays and film credits
QB VII was a five-hour mini-series, which was hailed as both a critical triumph and a milestone "television event" when it originally aired in 1974. Based on a Leon Uris novel, which itself was based on a libel trial that arose after Uris published Exodus, this fictionalised drama is essentially the story of two men, Dr. Adam Kelno, a Polish doctor who was imprisoned by the Nazis in a concentration camp, and Abe Cady, a successful Hollywood writer who publishes a serious book on the Holocaust that exposes Kelno's past. Playing Dr Kelno, Anthony Hopkins steals the show, and the nuances he brings to the character keep the audience guessing whether he is in fact a dedicated healer or a diabolical villain intent on papering over a fiendish past. Ben Gazzara is credible as the tough-talking Cady, but when Hopkins leaves the action for a time the film sags and begins to resemble an ordinary TV film. Eventually the two men's lives come into conflict when Kelno sues for libel. The trial, in a London courtroom (the "Queen's Bench VII" of the title), seeks to sort out the truth about the past of Dr Kelno. His precise activities during the war, and how the world deals with his past, receives intelligent and dramatic treatment. A cracking Jerry Goldsmith score keeps the drama centre stage. --Robert J McNamara, Amazon.com
Miller's Crossing: The year is 1929. The place is a gangster-ridden American city run by Leo (Albert Finney). But the real power lies with Tom (Gabriel Byrne) the power behind the man. Their friendship is severed when they both fall in love with the same woman (Marcia Gay Harden) and a bloody gang war erupts... Road To Perdition: Two-time Academy Award-winner Tom Hanks stars as Michael Sullivan a father fighting to keep his only son from traveling the Road To Perdition. Directed by Oscar-winner Sam Mendes this towering motion picture achievement has been acclaimed by audiences and critics alike as one of the year's most extraordinary films. Capone: The man who made the Twenties roar! The story of the rise and fall of the infamous Chicago gangster Al Capone (Ben Gazzara) and the control he exhibited over the city during the prohibition years as well as with his subsequent fall...
Joe Ross (Campbell Scott) is a man on the brink of something big. He has designed a process that will make his company millions and him a very wealthy man. Unnerved by a lack of commitment from his boss a chance meeting with a weathly jetsetter Dell (Steve Martin) causes him to further suspect the true intentions of his colleagues. But with such a money-spinning opportunity at stake is there anyone he can trust? Writer/director David Mamet's 'The Spanish Prisoner' is a film that
It's 1987 New Jersey and two girls search for Mister Right. Best friends Debby and Beth have issues with men namely their inability to find good ones. Constantly scouring the 1980's working class New Jersey world of diners and local bars the two girls stoop to desperate yet hilarious measures in their unrelenting attempts to find Mr Perfect. Then there's Beth's mother who is also trying to find a meaningful relationship that will give value to her own mundane existence. It's going
Based on the Nobel-Prize winning novel by Mikhail A Sholokov, this epic deals with both heroes and villains of the uprisings during WWI, the Bolshevik Revolution and the Russian Civil War.
A collection of films from famed actor and independent director John Cassavetes comprising: Shadows (1959): A depiction of the struggle of three black siblings to survive the mean streets of Manhattan 'Shadows' was Cassavetes' jazz-scored improvisational film exploring interracial friendships and relationships in Beat-Era (1950s) New York City made from a script entirely improvised by the talented cast heralding a vital new era in independent filmmaking. Faces (1968):
Bobby Bishop (Charlie Sheen) is one of the President's most powerful and trusted advisors but when he becomes involved with a college professor who has information on a traitor he suddenly becomes a fugitive. Hunted down in the dead of night by a ruthless killer Bishop enlists the help of former girlfriend Amanda Givens (Linda Hamilton) a plucky reporter and together they uncover a hideous conspiracy. But Bishop is now an outsider and must try to get Washington to believe him be
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