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Five years after the success of "10", Blake Edwards and Dudley Moore hit another bullseye with Micki & Maude, a stylish and very funny romantic comedy about a newsmagazine reporter named Rob Salinger (Moore) married to a workaholic attorney named Micki (Ann Reinking) who longs to be a father and when Micki's job keeps interfering with their baby-making plans, Rob begins an affair with an attractive and funny cellist named Maude (Amy Irving) who he gets pregnant. He agrees to divorce Micki and marry Maude until Micki announces she is also pregnant. Since Micki's pregnancy is high risk, he doesn't want to stress her out so he marries Maude without divorcing Micki and that's when his life becomes complicated to no end.

The three stars are absolutely wonderful in their roles. Moore won a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Comedy. Richard Mulligan, George Gaynes, and Wallace Shawn offer strong support as Moore's boss and as the ladies' doctors. Though the film is a little on the long side, it remains thoroughly entertaining from beginning to end with one of Moore's best performances.

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Woody Allen struck gold and made a star out of a second generation actress in Mighty Aphrodite, a sophisticated and engaging romantic comedy about an upwardly mobile New York couple (Allen, Helena Bonham Carter) who decide to adopt a child. Soon after, Bonham Carter drifts into an affair with an arrogant creep (Peter Weller) and they divorce, Allen then becomes curious about his son's biological mother and decides to track her down. She turns out to be a not-too-bright prostitute/porn star (Mira Sorvino).

This is one of Woody's most enjoyable outings, seamlessly blending real life and fantasy as instead of Woody's usual voice over narration, the action of the story is actually commented on by an actual Greek chorus, led by Oscar winners F. Murray Abraham and Olympia Dukakis. Woody delivers an on target script and a charming performance and made a star out of Mira Sorvino, daughter of Paul Sorvino, whose charismatic performance as the dim-witted mother of Woody's son, won her an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

A must for Woody-philes and for fans of sophisticated romantic comedy with Woody's typical warm ending with a twist.
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Sean Penn's mesmerizing Oscar winning performance is the centerpiece of Milk, the 2008 biopic about Harvey Milk, the tireless crusader of gay rights who became the first openly gay male to run for public office.

Director Gus van Sant has mounted this intimate story on a massive canvas, utilizing stock news footage, gay activism education/information, and an intelligent, Oscar winning screenplay by Dustin Lance Black to tell this compelling and emotionally charged tale of the man who put his entire life on the back burner as well as at a great personal risk to himself, to further the issue of gay rights. It would nice if homophobia could be put aside long enough for the heterosexual population to see a film like this and possibly gain a better understanding of this constantly tortured minority.

Sean Penn won a richly deserved 2nd Best Actor Oscar for his passionate and fiery turn as this tireless Messiah for gay causes. The film also features a trio of sterling supporting performances from Emile Hirsch as a teen hustler that Milk converts into one of his followers, James Franco as Milk's lover who gets lost in Harvey's political shuffle, and especially Josh Brolin, in a brilliant performance that earned him a supporting nomination as Dan White, the conflicted, heterosexual San Francisco supervisor who worked alongside and against Milk simultaneously, leading to both their downfalls.

A beautifully mounted film with a strong message that never becomes preachy, but stays with you long after the credits roll, featuring the performance of Sean Penn's distinguished career.

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Milk Money is a lovely and sentimental romantic comedy about a precocious pre-teen who decides to set up his widowed father with a warm-hearted prostitute, who is on the run from some bad people. This film is a warm slice of contemporary Americana, beautifully conveying small town sensibilities and their positive and negative effects on the fictional hamlet of Middleton.

The story is simple (though it does take Dad a little too long to figure out what this girl does for a living)and the environmental subplot is underdeveloped, but the movie is filled with believable characters and funny scenes, including one very funny scene where the boy uses the hooker as a visual aide for a school project on the female anatomy.

Melanie Griffith shines in a tailor-made role as V, the proverbial hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold, in her most appealing performance since WORKING GIRL and Ed Harris is charming and sexy as the dad. Michael Patrick Carter is utterly charming as the boy and Malcolm McDowell and Anne Heche offer funny supporting turns as a gangster and his ditzy moll, V's best friend. An entertaining romantic comedy that's beauty lies in its simplicity.
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A richly-detailed screenplay and superb performances by the stars are the main selling points of. For One More Day, an exquisite and deeply moving TV fantasy about a desperate and lonely drunk named Chick Benetto,who, at the moment he is about to commit suicide, encounters the ghost of his mother, who has been dead for nine years. Still racked with guilt about not being there when his mother died, this man is given the opportunity to spend one final day with his loving mother.

The intricate screenplay effectively shows the specific events in Chick's life that have led him to his suicide attempt and then flashes back and forth through various parts of his life from early childhood to his blossoming career as a professional baseball player to illustrate the downward spiral his life took, apparently affected by the separation of his parents. His mother is portrayed as a luminous free spirit whose exuberance for life was constantly being crushed by her chauvinistic, neanderthal husband who felt she was making Chick soft.

The screenplay allows us to see Chick at various highs and lows during his life and allows Chick the opportunity to ask his mother all those things about his parents' separation that he never got the opportunity to ask.

Emmy winner Michael Imperioli (THE SOPRANOS)delivers a powerful and delicately layered performance as the tortured Chick and Oscar winner Ellen Burstyn is luminous, as always, as the ghostly mom who materializes when her son needs her the most. OK, there were little problems I had with logic and continuity such as Mom's abilities to tend to Chick's wounds even though she is a ghost and that Imperioli is a little too young to appear to have done all the things Chick is supposed to have done, but I allowed this lovely story to envelop me in the emotions it evoked and forgive the inconsistencies.

This movie should be shown annually on Mother's Day to remind us all how special our mothers are. But above all it is the sublime performances of Burstyn and Imperioli that make this such a rewarding film experience.
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A well-worn movie premise gets a fresh coat of paint in Monster-in-Law, a laugh-packed comedy confection that made history as it marked the return to the big screen of two-time Oscar winner Jane Fonda, in her first film in 16 years. Fonda plays Viola Fields, a Barbara Walters-type television journalist who has been married four times and gets fired from her talk show and has a nervous breakdown after attacking a guest on air.

Upon her return home, she learns that her son is getting married and after meeting her future daughter-in-law, makes it her mission in life to make sure this wedding never happens. Fonda commands the screen here in a brilliant comic tour-de-force that overpowers just about everything else going on in the movie.

Jennifer Lopez works hard in the role of Charlie, Viola's future daughter-in-law and Michael Vartan is not much more than eye candy in his role as Fonda's doctor-son, but they both take a backseat to Fonda here and do try very hard not to fade into the woodwork.

The only actors who don't get blown off the screen by Fonda are Wanda Sykes, who has some of the funniest lines in the movie as Viola's assistant Ruby and Broadway legend Elaine Stritch, who shines in a brief cameo as one of Viola's former mother-in-laws, but this is Fonda's show all the way, and if this film shows anything, it's that Fonda has not lost any of her ability to command the screen during her 16-year absence and I hope more roles are coming her way. If for no other reason,Monster-in-Law must be treasured for the powerhouse comedy performance by a Hollywood icon who has been away from the screen much too long.

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The final film project of Marilyn Monroe, Something's Got to Give, was shelved after months of dealing with the temperamental and troublesome Monroe, 20th Century Fox fired Marilyn, the film was shelved, and Marilyn was dead a few months later.


The project was later revived and revamped as a vehicle for Doris Day and the result was Move Over Darling, a predictable but watchable comedy in which Doris plays Ellen Arden, a woman who has been stranded on a deserted island for five years and is finally rescued, only to return home and find that her husband has had her declared legally dead and is preparing to marry someone else.
This story is as old as the hills, dating back to the old Irene Dunne comedy My Favorite Wife, but Day is always watchable and works extremely well with James Garner, who is sexy and charismatic as Ellen's husband, Nicholas. Polly Bergen is very funny as Nicholas' new fiancée, the self-absorbed Bianca and the always reliable Thelma Ritter steals every scene she is in as Nicholas' mother.

The film is tamer than the original Monroe vehicle, but the material has been perfectly revamped for Doris Day and she works hard at making the film worth watching.
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Mr. Deeds is Adam Sandler's breezy re-thinking of the Gary Cooper classic Mr. Deeds goes to Town.. In this version, Sandler plays Longfellow Deeds, a small town schnook who works in a pizza parlor and writes greeting cards, who learns that he is the only living relative of an eccentric millionaire named Preston Blake, who dies and leaves Deeds 40 million dollars. Deeds must then travel to New York to sign papers regarding the estate and gets involved with a TV tabloid reporter (Winona Ryder), who is pretending to be a nurse in order to get a story on him but falls for him in the process.

Sandler has rarely been more likable on screen, making Deeds warm and extremely likable and though she's no Jean Arthur, Ryder proves to be an intelligent screen presence and one of Sandler's best leading ladies. Peter Gallagher is appropriately slimy as Chuck Cedar, Blake's CEO who wants to steal the company from Deeds and there's also great bits offered by John Turturro as Deeds' butler and Conchata Farrell as his best friend back home. Exuberant direction and a deft screenplay are the final touches to one of Sandler's best efforts and a respectful valentine to the film it salutes.
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Michael Keaton officially became a star with Mr.Mom, a warm and funny family comedy which stars Keaton as Jack Butler, an automotive engineer who gets laid off and can't seem to get another job anywhere else. In order to make ends meet, Jack's wife, Caroline (Teri Garr), who gave up a brief career in advertising to be a stay-at-home Mom, decides to go back to work and is instantly hired at an advertising agency, which forces Jack to settle into being the stay-at-home Dad.

It's hilarious watching Jack cluelessly trying to deal with his kids, shopping, laundry, and other domestic duties. Jack even manages to get addicted to THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS and teaches the other moms in the neighborhood how to play poker. Meanwhile, Caroline gets promoted after 20 minutes on the job and is forced to fend off the advances of her slimy boss, played to perfection by Martin Mull.

This film contains one hilarious scene after another as Jack starts to lose his self-esteem, reduced to dealing with dirty diapers and a vacuum cleaner with a life of its own. Garr is in top form and there is a fun turn by Ann Jillian as an amorous neighbor who has the hots for Jack. This film is a joy from start to finish, thanks to a clever screenplay and the impeccable comic timing of Michael Keaton.
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In addition to being the film which turned out to be the genesis for the greatest media circus since OJ, Mr. & Mrs. Smith is one of the most richly entertaining, though highly improbable, action adventure yarns to come down the pike in quite a while and was responsible for creating a media firestorm which has come to be known as "Brangelina."

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie star as John and Jane Smith, married assassins who have somehow been able to keep their occupations from each other for five (or six) years of marriage because they work for different organizations. Things heat up when they are both assigned to the same case in an effort by their respective agencies to take each other out and that's where the fun begins.

If you don't think about it at all and just let the story flow over you, fun can be had here. The film boasts energetic direction, a surprisingly deft screenplay, a superb musical score, enough technical gadgetry to make James Bond proud and yes, the on screen chemistry between the leads is positively kinetic...it just about burns a hole in the screen.

Brangelina make a white hot team and if you keep an open mind, this a richly entertaining fantasy-action-adventure that is an entertaining roller coaster ride right to the end credits.
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Robin Williams is a gutsy daring performer who likes to take chances as a performer but every now and then he goes strictly main stream, trying to reach the broadest audience base possible and he accomplished this in spades with Mrs. Doubtfire, a delightful Disneyesque comedy about an out of work actor who disguises himself as a woman (thanks to an Oscar winning makeup job) in order to be hired by his ex-wife (Sally Field)to be housekeeper to his kids.

Williams delivers one of his most on-target comedic performances,much of which I'm sure was improvised. The scene with Anne Haney in the employment office where he does all the different voices I'm sure came right off the top of Robin's head as did his private kids' show in the empty TV studio with the toy dinosaurs, but even on script, Williams makes this work and has you routing for Daniel to be reunited with his children (and how adorable was Mara Wilson in this movie?).

Sally Field plays the thankless role of the somewhat callous ex with sincerity and Pierce Brosnan is charming as the new man in Field's life. Harvey Fierstein also provides chuckles as Daniel's gay brother who provides him with Mrs. Doubtfire's look. A charming and funny comedy the whole family can enjoy together.
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Mamma Mia! is a joyous musical romp, the film version of the long running Broadway musical based on the music of 70's pop group Abba.

The film stars Meryl Streep as Donna, the lusty and free spirited innkeeper who runs a broken down hotel in the Greek Islands, who is rocked by the arrival of three former suitors (Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard)in Greece for the wedding of Donna's daughter, Sophie, not knowing that one of them is really Sophie's father, though Donna is not sure which one is the real Daddy.

This paper-thin plot line serves as the basis for an amusing and spirited musical journey exploring Donna's regrets about her past and Sophie's search for a future identity through knowing who her real father is.

Filmed on location in the Greek Islands, the film is visually stunning and should really be experienced on a big screen. Streep, as always, commands the screen as Donna, giving a rich performance that almost makes you forget you're watching a musical.

Amanda Seyfried is charming as Sophie offering an impressive turn in her first real leading role. There are also a pair of razor sharp supporting performances from Christine Baranski and Julie Walters as Donna's best friends, also in town for the wedding. The film features beautiful location photography and some very inventive staging of musical numbers, which include "Dancing Queen", " In a Rich Man's World", "The Winner Takes it All", "Our Last Summer", "Take a Chance on Me", and of course, the title tune. Not for all tastes, but for fans of musicals and Streep, a must.
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Probably one of the funniest comedies of the 1970's was Neil Simons' 1976 comedy Murder by Death in which Simon assembles his own versions of great fictional detectives who are brought together by a flamboyant millionaire named Lionel Twain (Truman Capote), who end up trying to solve Twain's murder. Peter Falk plays Sam Diamond who is accompanied by his secretary, Tess (Eileen Brennan). David Niven and Maggie Smith play Dick and Dora Charleston. Elsa Lanchester plays Jessica Marbles, Peter Sellers plays Sidney Wang, and James Coco plays Milos Perrier.

The film also features Alec Guiness as a blind butler and Nancy Walker as a deaf maid (they have the funniest scene in the movie when they are trying to communicate with each other which because of their respective handicaps is impossible but it's funny to watch). Smart script, great performances and watch out for that triple whammy reverse ending. It's a doozy.
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Must Love Dogs is a so-so romantic comedy that tries so hard to be hip and contemporary with only lukewarm results. This comedy follows the bumpy road to romance between a divorced boat builder (John Cusack) and a divorced schoolteacher (Diane Lane), who meet through submitting their romantic profiles on PerfectMatch.com.

The story stumbles onto all the romantic complications that one would expect from such a tired plot re-tread, but interest manages to be sustained for the most part. John Cusack's enormous screen charisma is put to its ultimate test here and is quite charming as the hopeless romantic addicted to Dr. Zhivago, despite having such a pedestrian screenplay to work with.

Lane has always struck me as a dramatic actress and clearly seems out of her element here. She works very hard at trying to be funny here and it just didn't work for me.

There is a solid supporting cast though, led by the wonderful Christopher Plummer as Lane's skirt-chasing dad. Other great bits are contributed by Dermot Mulroney, Elizabeth Perkins, and the incomparable Stockard Channing. The entire family singing the theme from the THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY and Lane jumping in a lake to swim to Cusack's boat are embarrassing to say the least, but Cusack and the strong supporting cast make it worth a peek.
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Julia Roberts' considerable on screen charisma anchors My Best Friend's Weddiddng, a romantic comedy with a twist that may or may not have you cheering for our girl to come out on top. Roberts plays a food critic named Julianne who learns that her ex-boyfriend Michael (Dermot Mulroney) is getting married and he asks her to come to the wedding and be his "Best Man."

Upon her arrival for the wedding festivities and meeting the bride-to-be, Kim (Cameron Diaz), Julianne decides that she wants Michael back and pulls out every dirty trick she can think of to break them up. This mission gets complicated when the fiancée asks Julianne to be her maid of honor.

There are a lot of comic situations that arise from this premise, but it is a little unsettling as well because, deep down, we know that what Julianne is doing is wrong, but part of us wants her to win, whether we want to admit it or not, because Roberts still manages to evoke our sympathies as Julianne, especially when we learn that it is Julianne who broke off the relationship with Michael and that his new fiancée gives him everything that Julianne couldn't...like the ability to be affectionate in public, but seeing Michael so happy ignites the Mr. Hyde in Julianne. She even asks her gay best friend, George (Rupert Everett) to pretend to be her fiancée to make Michael jealous. The scene where George tells Kim's family how he and Julianne met is hysterical.

Whether or not Julianne succeeds in her mission should not be revealed here for those who haven't seen the film,but know that the film works for the most part thanks to some smart writing, a winning performance by Roberts and a scene-stealing turn by Everett as George. It's not PRETTY WOMAN, but if you accept that going in , it's a pleasant ride.

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My Big Fat Greek Wedding was a beautifully mounted romantic and family comedy that was a do or die project for its star, Nia Vardolos, who also wrote the screenplay. Vardolos plays Toulah, a plain-Jane Greek girl, who feels trapped in the life that her family seems to have trapped her in until she gets a makeover, goes to school, takes over her aunt's travel agency and actually meets her Prince Charming, who is not Greek (horrors!).

Vardolos has written a smart and engaging comedy with a main character who you instantly relate to and route for. Vardolos is a revelation in the role of Toulah...there is not a false note in her performance and she makes Toulah someone we have to care for instantly.

John Corbett (Aidan on SEX AND THE CITY) makes a perfect Prince Charming and Lanie Kazan takes her patented Jewish mother turn and gives it a Greek accent as Toulah's mom. Michael Constantine charms as Toulah's father and Andrea Martin steals every scene she's in as Toulah's aunt. A near perfect screen comedy that became a contemporary movie classic.
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My Cousin Vinny
is an entertaining and laugh-packed comedy confection that stars Joe Pesci as a New York tough who somehow barely passed the bar exam but has yet to try a case, who is asked to come down south to redneck country to defend his young cousin (Ralph Macchio)and his friend (Mitchell Whitfield), who have been wrongfully accused of murder.

Pesci shines in this twisted fish-out-of-water story as the inexperienced lawyer with the mafia sensibility, completely clueless about the ways of people down south and their ultra-conservative methods of upholding the law. Marisa Tomei won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her scene-stealing performance as Pesci's brash and loud-mouthed girlfriend who accompanies him down south. The late Fred Gwynne gives the performance of his career as the judge on the case and the late Lane Smith is effective as the prosecuting attorney, though Austin Pendleton is a bit much as a public defender with a stuttering problem.

This is a minor quibble though in one of the best comedies ever made. Tomei won an Oscar but Pesci still commands the screen in one the most perfectly timed comic performances to grace the silver screen in a long time. Pay particular attention as he questions a severely near-sighted old lady and offers the jury lessons on the preparation of grits. A supremely entertaining comedy that just gets better with multiple viewings.
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My Fair Lady is the 1964 film version of the Lerner and Lowe Broadway musical, based on Shaw's Pygmalion, that won nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture, beating out films like Mary Poppins and Dr. Strangelove and finally garnering a Best Director Oscar for the legendary George Cukor.

For those who've been living under a rock since the 1960's, this is the story of a cockney flower girl named Eliza Doolittle who is transformed into a sophisticated lady through the art of learning how to speak properly by a phonetics professor named Henry Higgins.

Rex Harrison won the Best Actor Oscar for recreating his Broadway role as Professor Higgins, the confirmed bachelor who allows his new creation to get under his skin.

Eyebrows were raised in Hollywood when the role of Eliza Doolittle went to Audrey Hepburn, instead of the role's originator, Julie Andrews, who earned sweet revenge by winning the Best Actress Oscar the same year for Mary Poppins. Hepburn is lovely as the transformed Eliza, but is less convincing as the dirty-faced cockney flower girl. Hepburn's singing was dubbed by Marni Nixon, who also sang for Natalie Wood in West Side Story and for Deborah Kerr in The King & I. Wilfred Hyde-White and Gladys Cooper provide solid support as Higgins' friend who helps with the transformation and as Higgins' mother, who befriends Eliza when she really needs a friend.

This movie is exquisitely mounted, with Oscar-winning production design and stunning, Oscar-winning costumes by Cecil Beaton. The original score to the musical comes to the screen almost completely intact, highlights being "Wouldn't it be Loverly", "I've Grown Accustomed to her Face", "I Could Have Danced All Night" and "Just You Wait." This is a textbook example of how to bring a Broadway musical to the screen. A joy from start to finish.
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For my money, Clint Eastwood's crowning achievement as a director, Mystic River, examining lost youth and other kinds of loss that sweep their way through a small Massachusetts town where everyone knows everyone.

This story opens on a quiet day in Mystic River when three young boys, Jimmy, Dave, and Sean are approached by a pedophile, they force Dave into their car and he is sexually abused for several days before escaping. The story then finds these childhood friends as adults still living in the same town, though their lives have drifted away from each other somewhat.

Jimmy (Sean Penn)is now a small business owner content in his 2nd marriage (Laura Linney)and raising three daughters. Dave (Tim Robbins) is also married and raising a son. Sean (Kevin Bacon) is now a Mystic River police officer whose wife left him, but likes to call him on the phone and not say anything.

The three men's lives reconnect when Jimmy eldest daughter (Emmy Rossum) is brutally murdered and, as Sean investigates the crime, Dave begins to come into focus as the primary suspect.

Clint Eastwood won a richly deserved Oscar for Best Director as he has incorporated rich detail in painting this intimate story of troubled small town Americana on an epic canvas and pulled remarkable performances from his hand-picked cast. Sean Penn finally won a Best Actor Oscar for his powerhouse performance and Tim Robbins' Dave earned a Supporting Actor statue.

They receive rock solid support from Bacon, Linney, Marcia Gay Harden as Dave's wife, and Laurence Fishburne as Sean's partner. One of those rare and beautiful occurrences where a film turns out to be just as riveting as the book it's based on. An instant classic not to be missed.
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One of the best films to come out of the 1970's was originally made for television. My Sweet Charlie was a sensitive and intense film originally broadcast on NBC directed by Lamont Johnson with a solid screenplay by famed television writing team Richard Levinson and William Link. The film stars Patty Duke as Marlene, a 17-year old, southern, bigoted, uneducated girl, who, upon learning she's pregnant, runs away from home and finds refuge in one of those boarded up summer houses on the Carolina coast.

Her solitude is broken when Charlie (Al Freeman Jr.) also arrives at the house. Charlie is a well-spoken, intelligent, African American attorney who is also seeking refuge because we learn he is on the run and it is the relationship that develops between these two polar opposites brought together by circumstance that forms the basis of this involving story as we watch instant mistrust and resentment between these two people trapped for very different reasons turn to trust and respect each other.

Patty Duke won an Emmy for her superb performance and Al Freeman Jr.'s equally memorable performance earned him a nomination as well. Detailed direction by Johnson and a meticulously crafted script are just icing on the cake. A groundbreaking film from the 70's that earned so much acclaim that it was actually released theatrically overseas. A classic, pure and simple.
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