Posted inFilm

Lili Marleen

This 1981 big-budget, international coproduction, shot in English, was supposed to be a mass-market hit for Rainer Werner Fassbinder. It didn’t work out that way—does it ever?—but dubbed hastily in German, it makes a mildly interesting entry in the Fassbinder canon. Hanna Schygulla is a cabaret singer whose recording of a World War I song, […]

Posted inFilm

The Secret of NIMH

An animated feature (1982) by Don Bluth, who led a group of fed-up animators away from Disney in 1980. Based on an award-winning children’s book about a field mouse, Mrs. Brisby, who enlists the aid of a colony of superintelligent rats to move her family home away from the path of a farmer’s plow, the […]

Posted inFilm

Roman Scandals

An odd little 1933 musical, directed by Frank Tuttle (who started early in musicals, but later turned out some respectable film noir—e.g., This Gun for Hire), with dances by Busby Berkeley. The film was adapted from a play by George S. Kaufman and Robert E. Sherwood, and starred Eddie Cantor and Ruth (“Love Me or […]

Posted inFilm

Alligator

An eminently amiable horror spoof from 1980; writer John Sayles gives it the good-natured characterizations and loopy dialogue that characterize his early-80s work (Baby, It’s You, The Brother From Another Planet), director Lewis Teague provides a brisk pace and a few genuine thrills. Remember that baby alligator your mom flushed down the toilet when you […]

Posted inFilm

Born Free

John Barry’s schmaltzy title song is still haunting the elevators and supermarkets, but this is really a nicely restrained children’s tearjerker that doesn’t overdo the anthropomorphism, despite extreme provocation (1966). Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna are the Kenyan game wardens who must return their pet lion to the wild and undertake the heartbreaking task of […]