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The Animal Kingdom

This 1932 RKO feature was thought lost until a print turned up unexpectedly in the Universal vaults. It’s an adaptation of a stage play by Philip Barry (Holiday, The Philadelphia Story), starring Leslie Howard as a playboy determined to settle down and Myrna Loy (in her first drawing room part) as the straitlaced girl he […]

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Next Stop, Greenwich Village

Paul Mazursky’s onanistic autobiographical film (1976) seems more like a slavish hommage to Federico Fellini than a genuine reminiscence, borrowing equally from the Great Italian’s condescending caricature and slimy sentimentalism. As Larry Lapinsky, a Brooklyn boy come to the Village to learn acting, Lenny Baker spends most of the film fighting off his mother’s slobbering […]

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Streamers

Sure it’s searing and intense, but so is a microwave oven. David Rabe’s play, about a barracks room of draftees waiting to be shipped to Vietnam, is a less than honorable piece of theater, relying on physical and psychological violence to keep the audience in a constant state of anxiety and submission; Robert Altman’s film […]

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Irma La Douce

Billy Wilder’s soggy and uninspired 1963 adaptation of the hit Broadway musical, minus the songs. Shirley MacLaine stars as a Paris prostitute with a heart of gold who falls for a former policeman (Jack Lemmon) who winds up as her pimp and, in disguise, her only customer. A good example of how a movie can […]

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The Woman Next Door

Certainly the coldest film ever made about l’amour fou, Francois Truffaut’s 1981 production fails to satisfy emotionally but contains some of his most creative direction post-Jules and Jim. It’s a very studied, very formal work in which a tale of fatal attraction (betweeen Gerard Depardieu and Fanny Ardant) becomes a study of the contrasting implications […]

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The President’s Analyst

The 60s school of improvisational comedy is beautifully preserved in Theodore J. Flicker’s film, which pits LBJ’s shrink (James Coburn) against a plot for world dominance hatched by TPC (The Phone Company). The vague, shapeless paranoia of the period—a liberal distrust, rather than a radical disgust—is well conveyed through a series of barely connected skits, […]