Gideon58's Reviews

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A richly textured character study wrapped inside of surprisingly original story, As Good as it Gets was a striking and emotionally charged motion picture experience that will take the viewer through a myriad of emotions and find them trying to catch their breath and collect themselves as the credits roll.

This unusual story revolving around three disparate characters who IRL would probably never cross paths except for the fact that two of them live in the same building and one of them hangs where the third works. Jack Nicholson won his third Oscar, giving one of his most dazzling performances as Melvin, a sexist, homophobic, anal-attentive, germophobic, anti-social writer who it seems has been living a fishbowl existence which has brought him to the belief that the earth was put here to serve and accommodate him and his needs.

Marvin finds himself accidentally involved with Simon (Greg Kinnear, who should have won an Oscar), a sensitive, gay artist who lives in Marvin's building and becomes part of his life when Marvin is forced to care for Simon's dog after Simon gets beaten up by some thugs through a set-up by a sleazy bisexual con-artist (Skeet Ulrich). Helen Hunt won the Best Actress Oscar for her performance as Carol, a workaholic waitress with a sickly son who is Marvin's favorite waitress at his favorite restaurant. Any more details as to how these three people's lives intersect would spoil one of the most entertaining and delicious stories that was also nominated for Best Picture of 1997. A one-of-a-kind motion picture experience that must be seen and savored.

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Ann-Margaret turned in one of the best performances of her career in the 1984 TV version of A Streetcar Named Desire, a well-mounted remake of the Tennessee Williams play that became the 1951 classic film that made a star out of Marlon Brando and won a 2nd Oscar for Vivian Leigh.

Ann-Margaret gives an intense and chilling interpretation of Blanche, the mentally fragile southern belle who is brutalized by her boor of a brother-in-law (Treat Williams)when she arrives in New Orleans to visit her sister Stella (Beverly D'Angelo). Ann-Margret has never lost herself in a role the way she lost herself in this one, a performance that lacks the china-doll fragility of Leigh's Blanche but adds an underlying layer of strength that was missing from Leigh's interpretation. Treat Williams lacks the electricity that Brando brought to Stanley but D'Angelo brilliantly conveys the tattered emotions of the conflicted Stella.

The other plus of this production is that it restores the original Tennessee Williams ending to the play which was drastically changed in the theatrical film in order for the story to be more acceptable to audiences in 1951; however, it completely dilutes the power of the original piece but it is restored to its original beauty here and packs the emotional punch felt by audience at the 1947 premiere of the play. Coupled with the performances of Ann-Margret and Beverly D'Angelo, this is a remake which can proudly stand up next to the original.
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A Very Brady Sequel was the 1996 sequel to The Brady Bunch Movie which tries to touch upon all the episodes of the classic TV series that the first movie didn't. The paper-thin premise of this sequel centers on the appearance of a shady con-man (Tim Matheson) who arrives on the Bradys' doorstep claiming to be Carol's long-lost first husband, Roy, who, according to this film's opening scene, was lost at sea. The con-man is really there to get his hands on a statue that has sat in the background of every episode of the TV show and we now learn that it is part of a set and worth a lot of money.

But the funniest part of this movie for me is a subplot in which after Roy's arrival, Greg (Christopher Daniel Barnes) and Marcia (Christine Taylor) learn they may not be brother and sister and start lusting after each other. This is, of course, a knowing wink to all those who have read Barry Williams' book Growing up Brady where he confesses to having been madly in love with Maureen McCormick and had trouble looking at her in a sisterly way when they were working. This movie addresses this in a hysterical scene where Greg and Marcia are sharing the room in the attic and start undressing in silhouette. This scene is cleverly shot and perfectly performed by Barnes and Taylor.

The rest of the cast has settled comfortably into their roles for this sequel, especially Gary Cole, who is just spooky as Robert Reed as Mike Brady and Jennifer Elise Cox, who steals every scene she is in as Jan. The fun peters out before a truly lame finale, but for true fans, there is fun to be had here.
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Beautiful Girls, is director Ted Demme's superficially entertaining excursion into Big Chill/Return of the Secaucus Seven territory that centers on a struggling pianist named Willie (Timothy Hutton) who, while having second thoughts about his engagement, decides to return to the snow-covered Minnesota suburb of his birth to attend his high school reunion and his varied encounters with his buddies from high school.

There are, of course, several stories going on here, the most interesting being a triangle with Willie's best friend (Matt Dillon)juggling his current girlfriend (Mira Sorvino) and his married mistress (Lauren Holly) who he claims to have broken up with and Willie's fascination with a 12 year old girl who lives next door. This variation on a theme is no more or no less entertaining than any of the others, but it does boast an attractive cast, with a star-making turn by young Natalie Portman as the aforementioned 12 year old...the kind of role that Portman would soon be playing in her sleep. Uma Thurman, Michael Rapaport, Max Perlich, Rosie O'Donnell, and Martha Plimpton also have their moments in the sun. And if you don't blink, you'll see a very young David Arquette playing Willie's little brother. It's not Merchant Ivory, but there's some clever writing and the cast works hard for your attention.

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Because I Said So is a tired retread of so many so called romantic comedies that is made tolerable because of Diane Keaton's presence in the starring role.

Keaton plays Daphne Wilder, an effervescent single mom of three, approaching her 60th birthday, who places an ad on the internet to find a prospective mate for her youngest daughter Milly (Mandy Moore). She finds one guy (Tom Everett Scott) who she thinks is perfect but there's another guy (Gabriel Macht) who thinks he's perfect and Milly ends up dating both of them, to her mothers dismay. Nothing terribly exciting here, but Keaton somehow magically elevates this film to a point where you start to believe it is something special. Something about Mandy Moore has always bothered me and this film has not changed my opinion of her. Macht, who last made an impression in A Love Song for Bobby Long, is charming but is fighting the script every step of the way. With a more interesting screenplay, this could have been a minor classic, but as is, the undeniable screen charisma of Diane Keaton does make it worth checking out.
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After strong, scene-stealing performances in 48 hrs and Trading Places, Eddie Murphy firmly established himself as a superstar with Beverly Hills Cop.

With a script originally intended for Sylvester Stallone, Murphy commands the screen in one of the greatest, single comic performances ever captured on screen, splashed against the backdrop of an action movie that is still riveting from start to finish. Murphy plays Axel Foley, a Detroit police officer who travels to Beverly Hills after a childhood buddy (James Russo) is murdered in his hallway, shortly after arriving in Detroit from Beverly Hills.

Of course, this motivates Axel to hop in his crappy blue Chevy and travel to Beverly Hills. where he finds himself the ultimate fish out of water, and immediately butting heads with the Beverly Hills police department, but finding help from a childhood friend (Lisa Eilbacher), who is actually working for the man Axel is looking for, an extremely powerful and dangerous drug dealer named Victor Maitland (Steven Berkoff). Things get sticky because Axel can't prove anything and can't get help from the Beverly Hills police so he and a couple of detectives are on their own to prove that Axel's instincts are on the money.

What could have been a standard cops and robbers adventure turned into something much more with the casting of Murphy in the starring role. I shudder at the thought of what this film would have been like with its intended star Stallone, but something tells me the screenplay was probably severly revamped when Murphy came on board...thank God.

Murphy gives a thousand mega-watt performance here, blowing everyone off the screen with the exception of Judge Reinhold as Beverly Hills cop Billy Rosewood and the then unknown Bronson Pinchot as Serge, a gay receptionist in an art gallery. Twenty two years later, this is still Murphy's best performance and best movie and I don't think he will ever match it and shouldn't even try. An instant classic.
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Two time Oscar winner Kevin Spacey is the heart and soul of Beyond the Sea, the glossy and engrossing film biography of the late crooner Bobby Darin, chronicling Darin's life from his battle with a life-threatening disease as a child, his incredible music career, his marriage to actress Sandra Dee, and the expected downfall of his career that we usually see in movies like this.

Spacey produced,directed,and co-wrote this spectacular look at the singer who, more than anything, wanted to be "bigger than Sinatra." The love and respect that Spacey has for the subject is glaringly apparent, not only from the care and obvious expense that went into the project, but from Spacey's energetic and vivid portrayal of Darin (and yes, he does most of his own singing too).

I can't recall the last time I have seen an artist work so hard at making a movie work, but Spacey's tireless dedication to this project shows in the finished product. Spacey's performance lights up the screen in one of the most entertaining showbiz biopics ever.

How accurate is the film in regards to the facts of Darin's life and career? I don't know and I don't care, all I know is that I found this movie richly entertaining and can watch it over and over again.

All of Darin's music is on display here, including "Splish Splash","Mack the Knife" and the title tune, which is effectively used to frame Darin's courtship of Dee in the film. Speaking of which, this was the one serious flaw in the film, the totally unconvincing and lifeless performance of Kate Bosworth as Sandra Dee, but Spacey does receive effective support from John Goodman as his manager, Bob Hoskins as his devoted brother-in-law and Caroline Aaron as his sister. Grandly entertaining from start to finish and a must for Darin and Spacey fans.

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Adam Sandler works another variation of his angry man-child character to great effect in Billy Madison a silly and improbable comedy that does provide laughs. Sandler plays Billy, who is the spoiled son of a zillionaire (Darren McGavin), who sits around the pool all day drinking beer and looking at girlie magazines, save the occasional trip to a neighbor's house to leave a flaming bag of dog poop at his front door.

Billy's dad wants to leave him the company but his ass-kissing assistant (Bradley Whitford) insists that Billy is an idiot, at which time Mr. Madison must admit to Billy that he only graduated from high school because Madison paid all of his teachers to give him passing grades. Billy then proposes to his dad that he go back to school, starting in the 1st grade, and spend two weeks in each grade until he graduates in order to get control of the company. There is comic potential in this story and Sandler does his best to mine the gold that is there. Sandler has a good supporting cast behind him including McGavin, Whitford, Chris Farley (very funny as a bus driver), Norm McDonald, Theresa Merritt, and Joshua Mostel. Bridgette Wilson makes an attractive romantic interest as Billy's third grade teacher and there is even a very clever musical number thrown in that provides laughs. Love the game of dodge ball with the first graders too. A must for Sandler fans and watchable for everyone else.

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Blades of Glory is another side-splittingly funny sports-oriented comedy from the demented mind of Will Ferrell that is the funniest film he has made since ANCHORMAN. This non-stop laugh riot stars Ferrell as Chaz Michael Michaels and Jon Heder (NAPOLEON DYNAMITE) as Jimmy McElroy, two professional figure skaters and mortal enemies who find themselves banned from singles competition in the Olympics and after three years away from competition, are convinced to return to Olympic competition as the first male-male pairs skating duo in history.

This hilarious premise provides the backdrop for one of the funniest comedies I've seen in quite a while, full of outrageous physical comedy, silly homo erotic moments, and some silly sight gags made all the sillier by some intentionally cheesy looking special effects. Ferrell has rarely been funnier and has a surprisingly solid screen chemistry with Heder, who makes the most of the best role he's had in quite awhile. There are also funny supporting turns from Will Arnett and Amy Poehler as a brother and sisters pairs team who are threatened by the new team, Craig T.Nelson as Chaz and Jimmy's coach and Romany Malco (The 40-Year Old Virgin) as their choreographer. A riot from start to finish. Don't miss this one.

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Filled with non-stop laughs from start to finish, Blazing Saddles is Mel Brooks' comic masterpiece about a bumbling govenor who wants control of a tiny western hamlet called Rock Ridge where all the citizens have the last name of Johnson. He hopes to scare them out of their town by sending a black man (Cleavon Little) to be the new sheriff and that's where the fun begins.

Like most of Mel Brooks work, this movie has something to offend everyone and makes no apologies about it. The movie could be considered racially offensive by some ultra sensitive but it's done with such humor and such in the spirit of the silly and entertaining story that is being presented that being offended seems silly. Not to mention the fact there is constant breaking of the 4th wall, another Brooks staple, that reminds us constantly that we are watching a movie and nothing here is to be taken seriously and we certainly don't.

This movie is a true classic with one of the most quotable screenplays ever (Richard Pryor was one of the screenwriters) and features a perfect cast. Writer-director Brooks has a dual role as the dim-witted governor and a yiddish speaking Indian chief; Harvey Korman is brilliant as the governor's stooge Hedley Lamarr; Gene Wilder became a star playing the drunken ex-gunfighter who saves the day at the last minute; and Madeline Kahn's turn as chanteuse/spy Lilli Von Schtupp is nothing short of brilliant and earned her a Best Supporting Actress nomination.

Dom DeLuise is also very funny as a prominent figure in the film's off-the-wall finale. Highlights include Kahn's musical number, "I'm Tired", the campfire scene (enough said), the slaves rendition of a Negro spiritual, the governor's staff meeting and the one-of-a-kind finale. An instant classic and make sure you see an unedited print...a director's cut would be a dream.
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One of Eddie Murphy's best performances in one of his least seen films was the 1992 winner Boomerang. This smart and sophisticated romantic comedy stars Eddie as Marcus Graham, a womanizing advertising executive who loves the thrill of the chase where women are concerned, but once he has completed the chase, he is ready to move on. His sexual exploits have made him the center of his circle of friends (Martin Lawrence, a paranoid racist, and David Alan Grier, an insecure milquetoast) who live vicariously through him and admire his style as the ultimate player. Everything changes for Marcus when he acquires a new boss named Jacqueline (Robin Givens), Marcus is enamored of Jacqueline, but is completely thrown by the fact that Jacqueline is a female version of himself, a player who avoids commitment and uses Marcus when it is convenient for her. Throw into the mix another co-worker of Marcus named Angela (Halle Berry) who is nuts about him, but he doesn't know she's alive.

Everything works here and it is so refreshing to see a movie with a predominately black cast where the characters are people with brains and real jobs. Murphy exudes mass amounts of sex appeal in one of his best roles and Halle Berry, though allegedly playing a plain Jane, just couldn't come off that way if she tried. This might have been one place where the film erred...I just didn't buy Berry as the sweet thing who Murphy takes for granted in favor of the flaming sexpot Givens, whose character actually turns out to be a complete bitch.

There are some wonderful comic bits contributed along the way by Grace Jones, Geoffrey Holder, Tisha Campbell, and the legendary Eartha Kitt, memorable as an aging cosmetics queen with the hots for Marcus. A winning and original take on the Battle of the Sexes that is entertaining from start to finish.
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A luminous performance by Audrey Hepburn that earned her a fourth Best Actress Oscar nomination, Breakfast at Tiffany's is the glittering 1961 comedy-drama based on a story by Truman Capote which follows the misadventures of a good time girl named Holly Golightly a completely beguiling and exasperatng party girl who isn't actually a prostitute but is not above accepting $50.00 for "the powder room" from gentleman who desire her company.

Holly is a girl for the moment...her apartment, though having lived there for years, looks like she just moved in three days ago and she refuses to give her cat a real name because it implies commitment. Holly's perfectly isolated but satisfactory existence is interrupted when she meets a struggling writer (George Peppard), whose fascination with Holly leads him to want her to unpack and name the cat. Hollywood folklore claims that Holly's story was cleaned up considerably for 1961 movie audiences who probably couldn't have handled Capote's story in its raw form.

I think if this movie were ever remade today, it would stick more to the original story where Holly would be a prostitute and Paul Varjak (Peppard's character) would be gay. If the truth be told, I think the relationship would be a lot more interesting if Paul were gay, but 1961 movie audiences were not having that, so we get a more standard love story. The story as it is an entertaining one, lovingly mounted by director Blake Edwards with a deft screenplay and charming performances from the stars.

Solid support is provided by Martin Balsam, Patricia Neal (in a wonderfully stylish turn as Varjak's "benefactress"), Buddy Ebsen, and Elvia Allman. Only Mickey Rooney misses the boat as Holly's Japanese landlord. It's definitely a watered down version of its original source, but it is also one of the most romantic and endearing films of the 1960's that cemented Audrey Hepburn's position as Hollywood royalty forever and introduced a song that would become a pop standard called "Moon River" that would win an Oscar for Song of the Year. [rating]4[rating]
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Brighton Beach Memoirs
was the first of a trilogy of plays that Neil Simon wrote about his own life, renaming himself Eugene Morris Jerome. This play was a Broadway smash and made a star and Tony Award winner out of Matthew Broderick.

When it was time to bring the play to the screen, Broderick was unavailable because he was back on Broadway in the second play of the trilogy, BILOXI BLUES, so Jonathan Silverman was pegged to star in the film version as Eugene, the slightly neurotic teen going through puberty and other realities of being a Jewish teen during WWII with the help of his loving family. Silverman makes a suitable replacement for Broderick and seems quite at ease speaking directly to the camera.

I'm one of the few who really liked Blythe Danner as his strong willed mother...maybe the accent was a bit much, but Danner infuses the character with warmth and strength and Bob Dishy has one of his best roles as Eugene's father, a quiet tower of strength whose world weariness never allows him to neglect his family. Judith Ivey plays Danner's sister, a lonely woman whose lack of self-esteem seems to have stemmed from feeling she has lived in her sister's shadow her whole life and Brian Drillinger also scores as Stanley, Eugene's older brother, who loses his paycheck gambling and then loses his job and doesn't know how to tell Mom and Dad. Gene Saks directs with a loving, if loose hand and the film could have been more tightly paced, but the performances of Silverman, Danner, and Dishy made it worth my time.

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Brokeback Mountain is a masterpiece of storytelling that takes some uncomfortable topics and situations and places them in the context of a moving and beautiful story. This is the story of Ennis Delmar (Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal), two cowboys whose isolated summer sheep herding assignment turns them from strangers to friends to lovers in the matter of a couple of months.

After their assignment is over they are separated for four years, in which time they both marry and have children. They are then reunited and it's like no time has passed at all. Unfortunately, Ennis' wife, Alma (Michelle Williams)witnesses their passionate reunion and chooses to live with the secret instead of confronting Ennis. What we then see is two people who seem to genuinely love each other, kept apart by circumstance.

The word love never passes between Ennis and Jack. Ennis calls it "this thing." The men claim to be straight after their first encounter (though I have my doubts about Jack). The words "gay" or "homosexual" appear nowhere in the screenplay, though the word "queer" is used once. What we see more than the passion these men share when they're together is the passion they long for when they are apart. Ang Lee's sensitive and detailed Oscar-winning direction captures every nuance of emotion and passion between these two men without preaching to us or taking a stand on the underlying issues here. Ledger and Gyllenhaal give breathtaking, Oscar-worthy performances and receive solid support from Williams as Alma and Anne Hathaway as Jack's wife, Lorene. For me, this movie is above everything else, a love story, a beautiful, moving, emotionally charged love story where the protagonists just happen to be men.

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Butterflies are Free is the delightful 1972 film adaptation of the Leonard Gershe play about a young man who has been blind from birth (Edward Albert)who moves into his own apartment and almost instantly falls in love with his kooky next door neighbor (Goldie Hawn), a flighty free spirit who has trouble with anything resembling commitment, which he turns a blind eye (so to speak) to but is picked up immediately by his clingy, over-tective mother (Eileen Heckart).

This breezy comedy still holds up pretty well for a film that's over 30 years old, thanks to an enchanting performance from Hawn in one of her earliest roles and a flawless supporting turn from Eileen Heckart as the mother-from-hell, who swoops in to protect her baby boy from this evil woman. Heckart underplays her role so beautifully here, a perfect supporting performance that won her a richly deserved Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. I love when she first meets Jill, who is in her underwear, and Jill explains that she came over so her son could help her with her blouse to which Heckart replies, with the sweetest smile on her face, "Where is your blouse?" Some were surprised by Heckart's Oscar win here, but for me this performance is the definition of "Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role."

Edward Albert, son of GREEN ACRES' Eddie Albert, made an impressive screen debut here as Donny, the young man between these two women. Albert won a Golden Globe for Outstanding Newcomer for his work here but it is the work of Hawn and the divine Ms. Heckart that make this film worth watching.
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California Suite is the 1978 film adaptation of Neil Simons' quartet of one-acts set at a swank Los Angeles hotel.

Out of the four stories, the strongest is "Visitors from London" which stars Maggie Smith as an actress in town for the Academy Awards after receiving her first nomination, in deep denial about her in-name only marriage to a closeted antique dealer (Michael Caine). Smith delivers a flawless comedy performance that ironically won her her second Oscar, this time for Best Supporting Actress. Caine is just as effective in this bittersweet tale.

"Visitors from New York" stars Jane Fonda as a workaholic New Yorker who has flown to California to retrieve her daughter (Dana Plato) who ran away from home to move in with Fonda's ex (Alan Alda). Fonda's character is a little on the unsympathetic side but she and Alda make their scenes work. "Visitors from Philadelphia" stars Walter Matthau as a man in town for a convention who tries to conceal from his visiting wife (Elaine May) that there's a passed out hooker in his bed. This episode is pure slapstick with little substance but Matthau makes it bearable. The other episode "Visitors from Chicago" stars Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor, Sheila Frazier, and Gloria Gifford as two couples vacationing together who get involved in some silly travel situations. This is definitely the weakest of the four playlets and looks like it should be in another movie of its own. A well-mounted, but spotty effort at best, California Suite is worth the rental for the glorious performance of Maggie Smith alone.

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Great reviews!

I agree with you on All the Right Moves, As Good as it Gets, Boomerang, Billy Madison, Beverly Hills Cop, and Blazing Saddles.

I couldn't get into Blades of Glory and shut it off pretty quick. Maybe one I'll try again.

ANCHORMAN: THE LEGEND OF RON BURGUNDY solidified for me my long-dormant suspicion that Ferrell is a comic genius who had been so underrated up to this point.
I hope you're kidding.

I REALLY hope you're kidding.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is the 1958 film version of Tennessee Williams' classic Broadway play, that is still powerful entertainment despite a watered down screenplay.

The story follows the Pollitt family, headed by Big Daddy, who has just returned to his southern plantation after an extended hospital stay in time for his 60th birthday party where his family will gather and long hidden resentments, greed, machinations, manipulations, and, of course, secrets will rear their ugly head.

Big Daddy has two sons: Gooper is a brown-nosing, if well-intentioned moron who desperately seeks his father's approval so he can inherit the estate someday and bows to his father's every demand and keeps Big Daddy awash in grandchildren. Despite all his good intentions, Big Daddy can't stand Gooper or his grasping and perpetually pregnant wife or his obnoxious children. Gooper's brother Brick is an alcoholic loser who has arrived at the plantation for the birthday party, but has injured his leg trying to relive his youth as a track star and lays up in his bedroom drinking and ignoring his beautiful wife Maggie, who Big Daddy adores and continues to pressure for grandchildren, but Maggie can't get Brick to touch her since the death of his college buddy, Skipper.

Williams' play makes no bones about the fact that Brick and Skipper were lovers, but all references to homosexuality were dropped in the screenplay, making much of Brick's motivations for distancing himself from Maggie unclear, but making the film suitable for 1958 film audiences.

Despite the watered down screenplay, the film is still an emotionally-charged experience thanks to the taut direction of Richard Brooks and sterling performances from an all-star cast. Paul Newman has rarely been better as the tortured Brick and Elizabeth Taylor is a revelation as sexual dynamo Maggie the Cat. During production, Taylor lost third hubby Mike Todd in a plane crash and Taylor apparently channeled her grief into her work, producing one of her finest performances. She and Newman both received richly deserved Oscar nominations. Newman should have won. Burl Ives is brilliant as Big Daddy. Ives ironically won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for that year, but for another film (The Big Country). Jack Carson also gave one of his strongest performances as Gooper as did Madeline Sherwood, playing his obnoxious wife, Mae. Judith Anderson is heartbreaking as Big Mama and Larry Gates has his moments as Big Daddy's doctor, who is forced to reveal that Big Daddy is dying. Though slightly diluted from its original source, still a powerful movie experience that merits multiple viewings. Don't miss this one.

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Change of Habit was the film that marked the final film appearance of the Pelvis, playing an idealistic young doctor in a ghetto neighborhood, who happens to sing and play the guitar who receives assistance at his clinic from the three young nuns (Mary Tyler Moore, Jane Elliot, Barbara McNair), who the doc tries to teach the ways of the streets circa 1969.

The story is silly mainly because Elvis is not even close to believable as a doctor and Moore is not much more credible as a nun. Elliot does have some funny moments as the rebel of the trio of nuns and Elvis does sing a couple of songs, but other than that, this film is pretty forgettable.
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