Tabu

US (1931): Drama
82 min, No rating, Black & White, Available on videocassette and laserdisc

Working together, two great directors--Robert Flaherty and the German Expressionist F.W. Murnau-began this South Seas picture; they disagreed and Flaherty split. Murnau was killed in an auto accident before the opening of this marvellous, deeply flawed classic. It has some of the worst scenes that have ever been part of a work of screen art-cavorting natives and a creaking plot and a heroine with plucked eyebrows-and its musical score combines plaintive, moaning choirs, bits of Schubert, and "The Moldau," but the dancing is superlative and there are extraordinary pictorial effects. Murnau's mysticism may be alien to the islands, but it does wonders for the movie: the old chieftain of the village becomes as chilly a figure of doom as the emaciated vampire of Murnau's NOSFERATU, and at the end, the ghostly little boat does not seem to be sailing like an ordinary boat.… It is headed for nothing so commonplace as land. Floyd Crosby won the Academy Award for Cinematography. Silent.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

US (1949): Sports/Musical/Dance
93 min, No rating, Color, Available on videocassette and laserdisc

This big MGM musical, set in the early part of the century, began with a not too inspired script idea from Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, and after it went through a series of cast changes and then got assigned to Busby Berkeley to direct, it was a full-scale mess. Kelly and Frank Sinatra are vaudevillians who are also baseball players; Esther Williams, the manager of the baseball team, is in love with Kelly, but Sinatra is in love with her. And there are gangsters trying to get the boys to double-cross her and lose a game. This asinine story just about smothers the good-natured hoofing. Comden and Green and Roger Edens did the songs, but the musical numbers have that flag-waving Irish-American cheeriness which also blighted many Fox musicals made in the same period. With Betty Garrett and Jules Munshin, who work well with Kelly and Sinatra. They all got together-sans Esther Williams-the following year in ON THE TOWN. The finale here isn't by Berkeley; it was co-directed by Kelly and Donen, and served to persuade the studio to let them co-direct ON THE TOWN. Script by Harry Tugend and George Wells; with Edward Arnold and Tom Dugan.

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three

US (1974): Crime
104 min, Rated R, Color, Available on videocassette and laserdisc

The director, Joseph Sargent, doesn't just make points--he drops weights. The picture is full of noise and squalling and "dirty" words used for giggly shock effects; the one element that keeps it going is the plot, taken from John Godey's thriller about how a New York subway train is hijacked and the passengers held for ransom. As the Transit Authority Police detective, Walter Matthau, who just coasts through, seems an oasis of sanity. With Robert Shaw and Martin Balsam; screenplay by Peter Stone. United Artists.
For a more extended discussion, see Pauline Kael's book Reeling.

A Tale of Two Cities

US (1935): Historical
128 min, No rating, Black & White, Available on videocassette and laserdisc

In this most popular version of the least typical of Dickens' novels, Ronald Colman is Sydney Carton, who gives up his life so that another man may live. As Madame Defarge, Blanche Yurka dominates the film; a menace in the grand manner, she knits like a house afire and takes the Bastille practically single-handed. The story has been simplified so that it can be told very clearly. It's a creditable though unadventurous film, handsomely staged in the MGM back lot style for classics. It's not likely that adults will be eager to see it, but if they sit down to watch it for a few minutes with their children, they'll probably find themselves sitting until the sacrificial end--which isn't as gooey as they may fear. Jack Conway directed, with Val Lewton and Jacques Tourneur working on the Revolution sequences; W.P. Lipscomb and S.N. Behrman wrote the script. The immense cast includes Edna May Oliver as Miss Pross, Elizabeth Allan, Basil Rathbone, Billy Bevan, Reginald Owen, Isabel Jewell, Fritz Leiber, Donald Woods, H.B. Warner, Tully Marshall, Lucille LaVerne, Claude Gillingwater, and Henry B. Walthall. Reputedly there were 17,000 extras used in the mob scenes. Produced by David O. Selznick.

The Tales of Hoffmann

UK (1951): Dance/Musical/Opera
118 min, No rating, Color, Available on videocassette and laserdisc

This choreographic spectacle, based on the Jacques Offenbach light opera, stars Moira Shearer, Léonide Massine, Robert Helpmann, and Ludmilla Tcherina in the dancing roles, with singers Robert Rounseville and Ann Ayars. Pamela Brown contributes her silent, disconcerting presence; Sir Thomas Beecham conducts (rather phlegmatically); the Sadler's Wells Chorus fills out the larger dance sequences. After the success of THE RED SHOES, the producers, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, found themselves in a position to employ first-rank people in all the technical departments and to fulfill their most lavish appetites, and they really laid on a spread. It's apparent that the decor and color were intended to create moods, but the whole thing seems to be the product of an aberrant, second-rate imagination that confuses decor with art. Moira Shearer is lovely; it's a long film, though, and it seems structured almost as a series of divertissements. Powell directed.

Tales of Manhattan

US (1942): Comedy
118 min, No rating, Black & White, Available on videocassette

This five-episode film was planned by its producers, Boris Morros and S.P. Eagle (Sam Spiegel), as a flamboyant, star-filled, gimmicky package. Ten top screenwriters, including Ben Hecht, Donald Ogden Stewart, and Ferenc Molnár, concocted the script (which resembles a series of O. Henry rejects), and the performers who were hired include Charles Boyer, Henry Fonda, Paul Robeson, Rita Hayworth, Edward G. Robinson, Ginger Rogers, Charles Laughton, Ethel Waters, Roland Young, Thomas Mitchell, James Gleason, Cesar Romero, Gail Patrick, Elsa Lanchester, Victor Francen, Eddie Anderson, Eugene Pallette, George Sanders, Harry Davenport, Christian Rub, and the Hall Johnson Choir. The story is about the jacket of a full-dress suit; as this tailcoat, cursed by its cutter, passes from one owner to the next, it changes the luck of those who handle it. One director, Julien Duvivier, wrestled with the hyperactive, overextended vignettes, bringing the film a gaudy unity, but not a single episode is convincing on any level. The Edward G. Robinson portion has, at least, a little suspense and irony; in competition for the most embarrassing section are the ones with Laughton as a symphony conductor and a heaven-sent miracle featuring Robeson and Waters. 20th Century-Fox.

Tales of Ordinary Madness

Italy (1983): Drama
107 min, No rating, Color, Available on videocassette

Not for people who are disturbed by four-letter words or sexual acts performed with lewd gusto. Made in English by the Italian director Marco Ferreri, it's about many of the same themes as an Ingmar Bergman picture but it isn't stark--it has the matter-of-fact, one-thing-after-another plainness of an Abbott and Costello movie. The script is based on the stories and the spirit of the American poet and novelist Charles Bukowski, a master of rut who writes about the gutbucket pain and elation of being human. The artist-bum hero, who is based in LA, is played by Ben Gazzara, who gets to cut loose and do things that probably nobody has done onscreen before. Ferreri gets right down inside Bukowski's self-mocking lust and self-dramatizing temperament. As the convent-bred prostitute, Cass, "the most beautiful woman in town," Ornella Muti is as lithe as a cat, and has the soft radiance of the young Hedy Lamarr in the coital scenes of ECSTASY. The early sequences don't have much impetus and the dialogue is often flatulent, but there's genuine audacity and risk-taking in this movie. It may not have the energy of great art, but its nakedness has an aesthetic force. With Susan Tyrrell as the gamiest and funniest of the women the hero has bouts with, and Judith Drake. The script, by Ferreri, Sergio Amidei, and Anthony Foutz, is based on Bukowski's stories in the City Lights book Erections, Ejaculations, Exhibitions and General Tales of Ordinary Madness.
For a more extended discussion, see Pauline Kael's book Taking It All In.

The Talk of the Town

US (1942): Comedy
118 min, No rating, Black & White, Available on videocassette and laserdisc

The combined writing talents of Irwin Shaw and Sidney Buchman resulted in a script about one Leopold Dilg (Cary Grant), a vaguely radical factory worker falsely accused of arson and manslaughter by the management. He breaks jail and is hidden in the home of a vacationing judge (Ronald Colman) by the judge's softhearted, fuzzy-headed landlady (Jean Arthur), who is convinced of Dilg's innocence. The judge takes a more dogmatic legalistic view, but is persuaded to relax his scruples. Did the authors think they were writing a Shavian comedy of ideas? The ideas are garbled and silly, but the people are so pleasant that the picture manages to be quite amiable and high-spirited anyway. George Stevens directed. With Glenda Farrell, Edgar Buchanan, Rex Ingram, Emma Dunn, and Charles Dingle. Columbia.

The Tall Guy

UK (1989): Comedy
90 min, Rated R, Color, Available on videocassette and laserdisc

Jeff Goldblum as an American actor in London who has spent six years playing stooge to a detestably smug English comic (Rowan Atkinson) and has lost his confidence and most of his sex drive. Then this gangling wreck is cast as the lead in an Andrew Lloyd Webber-style version of THE ELEPHANT MAN--Elephant! the musical. Directed by Mel Smith, from a script by Richard Curtis, this satire of the life of the theatre has a loose, inventive dottiness. Goldblum's wild-eyed sloppy good nature sets off Atkinson's lethal genius at playing an articulate swine, and the whole cast appears to be acting in clover. That includes Emma Thompson, who seems stripped down to pure flakiness, and Geraldine James as a nympho landlady, Hugh Thomas as a diphead doctor, Anna Massey as a gleaming smart agent, Kim Thomson as a curly-haired singer, and the insidious Peter Kelly as the smarmy mountebank who stages Elephant! Mel Smith turns up in several bits; he's the blobby-faced fellow who looks like a pixie Alfred Hitchcock. A Working Title Production, released by Miramax.
For a more extended discussion, see Pauline Kael's book Movie Love.

Tampopo

Japan (1986): Comedy
114 min, No rating, Color, Available on videocassette and laserdisc

Written and directed by Juzo Itami, this understated farce has its own brand of dippy enchantment. It's about noodles, pleasure, and the movies. The title, which is Japanese for "dandelion," is the name of a 40ish widow (Nobuko Miyamoto) who is trying to make a go of a run-down noodle shop on the outskirts of Tokyo. A courtly truck driver (Tsutomu Yamazaki), who wears a dark-brown cowboy hat straight across his brow, like the righteous hero of a solemn Western, makes it his mission to help her become a real noodle cook. The film crosscuts between the story of Tampopo and her cowboy samurai and the culinary-erotic adventures of a pair of lovers: a gangster (Koji Yakusho) in a white suit and his ready-for-everything cutie (Fukumi Kuroda). These two demonstrate that eating and sex can be the same thing. The movie is constructed like a comic essay, with random frivolous touches, and much of it is shot in hot, bright color that suggests a neon fusion of urban night life and movie madness. The subtexts connect with viewers' funnybones at different times, and part of the fun of the movie is listening to the sudden eruptions of giggles--it's as if some kids were running around in the theatre tickling people. In Japanese.
For a more extended discussion, see Pauline Kael's book Hooked.

Target

US (1985): Thriller
117 min, Rated R, Color, Available on videocassette and laserdisc

Gene Hackman plays a quiet fellow who runs a lumberyard in Dallas; his son (Matt Dillon), who doesn't get along with the old man, thinks he's a fud--that he never had the nerve to go anywhere or do anything. It's not until the boy's mother (Gayle Hunnicutt) is kidnapped while she's on a Paris vacation and the father and son are in Europe looking for her that the boy discovers his father is a whirlwind--a tough former C.I.A. agent who had to be relocated in order to protect the family. By that time the picture, which started out as if it were going to be about a father-son relationship, is all spies, shootings, corpses, and stupidly spectacular car chases. (It takes a lot of killing to make the son respect his dad.) The whole idea is pretty bad, and Arthur Penn, who directed, keeps going off key. Many of the scenes, especially Dillon's and Hunnicutt's, are so maladroitly staged that you find yourself staring at them blankly. (The son comes across as a callow loudmouth.) With Victoria Fyodorova, Josef Sommer, Ilona Grubel, Herbert Berghof, and Guy Boyd (who's amusing as a crude C.I.A. man). The screenplay, by Howard Berk and Don Petersen, is based on a story by Leonard Stern. Cinematography by Jean Tournier; score by Michael Small. A Zanuck/Brown Production, for CBS; released by Warners.
For a more extended discussion, see Pauline Kael's book Hooked.

Targets

US (1968): Horror/Crime
90 min, Rated PG, Color, Available on videocassette

Peter Bogdanovich wrote, directed, and appears in this lame melodrama about a clean-cut all-American boy (Tim O'Kelly) who turns sniper. The picture is rather naïvely made, and one begins to wait for the sniper to hit his targets, because there's nothing else of interest going on. Boris Karloff, in one of his last screen appearances, plays a veteran horror-film actor. Produced by Roger Corman. Paramount.

The Tarnished Angels

US (1958): Drama
91 min, No rating, Black & White

Rock Hudson said that this movie was not like his others--that he disapproved of it, and that such nasty stories shouldn't be presented to the American public. The nasty material is William Faulkner's Pylon, adapted by George Zuckerman. Set in New Orleans in 1931, the movie attempts to re-create Faulkner's hectic, feverish atmosphere and heroes--the ex-war pilots who will do anything to sustain the thrill of flying. The daredevils are played by Robert Stack, Dorothy Malone as his promiscuous parachutist wife, and Jack Carson as a mechanic; Hudson, pooped as ever, is the heavy-drinking reporter who wants to do a story on the trio. This movie would have been better--in its odd, neo-30s sort of way--if the last quarter hour had been left out. It's the kind of bad movie that you know is bad--and yet you're held by the mixture of polished style and quasi-melodramatics achieved by the director, Douglas Sirk. Universal. CinemaScope.

Tarnished Lady

US (1931): Drama
83 min, No rating, Black & White

Limp. George Cukor's first directorial solo, Tallulah Bankhead's first talkie, and a flop for both. Donald Ogden Stewart shaped the script for Bankhead (from his story "New York Lady"), and it was conceived on the elegant model of her stage successes; she's a socialite who marries Clive Brook for money and is torn when she falls in love with a Greenwich Village writer (Alexander Kirkland). But the Bankhead of tubercular hollows and soigné sagging posture who had become a stage idol was never to become popular in movies; only the later boisterous, bellowing Bankhead succeeded with the public. And you can see why. As Cukor has said, "She had beautiful bones, but her eyes were not eyes for movies. They looked somehow hooded and dead.… Her smile didn't illuminate." With Osgood Perkins and Elizabeth Patterson; about half of the picture was shot in New York City locations. Paramount.

Tarzan and His Mate

US (1934): Romance/Adventure
93 min, No rating, Black & White, Available on videocassette and laserdisc

Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O'Sullivan in the carefully prepared follow-up to the 1932 hit TARZAN, THE APE MAN. It's cheerful and outrageously preposterous. You are right in the heart of the craziest Africa ever contrived for your entertainment; no wild beast ever misses a cue. Tarzan's mate has adapted herself to her husband's mode of living with true Victorian propriety; snug in her tree houses, she has a devoted gorilla for her personal maid. Everything is idyllic, though some old Mayfair friends of hers turn up and make trouble for a while. With Neil Hamilton, Paul Cavanagh, and Forester Harvey. Produced by Bernard Hyman; directed by Cedric Gibbons and Jack Conway, using location footage blended with a studio jungle; written by James K. McGuinness, Howard Emmett Rogers, and Leon Gordon. MGM.

Tarzan, the Ape Man

US (1932): Romance/Adventure
99 min, No rating, Black & White, Available on videocassette and laserdisc

Johnny Weissmuller of the body beautiful--making his movie bow in a loincloth--and pretty, likably coy Maureen O'Sullivan. There is something irresistibly funny about the predicament of a ladylike young lady abducted by a man who has lived like an ape, and who pokes and pummels her with the gestures of an ape. The picture, which is (and always was) great, parodistic fun, doesn't attempt to be realistic about jungle life; it's an entertaining romantic adventure--lighthearted and agreeable. W.S. Van Dyke directed this MGM film, based on Edgar Rice Burroughs' durable kitsch. Weissmuller was by no means the first movie Tarzan, but he was the first Tarzan of the talkies; he played the character in almost a dozen films, and others also got into the act: Buster Crabbe, Herman Brix (later known as Bruce Bennett), Lex Barker, Glenn Morris, Gordon Scott, Jock Mahoney, and Mike Henry. In 1959, MGM did a color remake of the first Weissmuller film, starring Denny Miller, and in 1981 another remake--this time with the emphasis on Bo Derek as Jane.

Taxi Driver

US (1976): Drama
113 min, Rated R, Color, Available on videocassette and laserdisc

Robert De Niro is in almost every frame of Martin Scorsese's feverish, horrifyingly funny movie about a lonely New York cab-driver. De Niro's inflamed, brimming eyes are the focal point of the compositions. He's Travis Bickle, an outsider who can't find any point of entry into human society. He drives nights because he can't sleep anyway; surrounded by the night world of the uprooted--whores, pimps, transients--he hates New York with a Biblical fury, and its filth and smut obsess him. This ferociously powerful film is like a raw, tabloid version of Notes from Underground. Scorsese achieves the quality of trance in some scenes, and the whole movie has a sense of vertigo. The cinematographer, Michael Chapman, gives the street life a seamy, rich pulpiness. From Paul Schrader's script; with Harvey Keitel, Cybill Shepherd, Jodie Foster, Peter Boyle, Albert Brooks, Leonard Harris, Harry Northup, Joe Spinell, Diahnne Abbott, and Scorsese himself. Columbia.
For a more extended discussion, see Pauline Kael's book When the Lights Go Down.

The Teahouse of the August Moon

US (1956): Comedy
123 min, No rating, Color, Available on videocassette and laserdisc

John Patrick's Pulitzer Prize-winning play, adapted from Vern J. Sneider's novel, is a whimsical comedy fantasy about the foolishness of the American military bureaucracy's attempts to impose American ideas on occupied countries--in this case Okinawa. Many people thought the play magical, but this MGM version, miserably directed by Daniel Mann, is an almost total mistake. Everybody in it, whether American or Okinawan, seems childish and stupid; the squeals and giggles of the native women are enough to drive one out of the theatre. Marlon Brando starved himself to play the pixie interpreter Sakini, and he looks as if he's enjoying the stunt--talking with a mad accent, grinning boyishly, bending forward, and doing tricky movements with his legs. He's harmlessly genial (and he is certainly missed when he's offscreen), though the fey, roguish role doesn't allow him to do what he's great at and it's possible that he's less effective in it than a lesser actor might have been. But this whole production is so talky and rhythmless that it's hard to see how even a specialist in the fey arts could have got the role airborne. As the American captain who tries to turn an Okinawan village into a well-scrubbed Yankee community and then is converted by the natives, Glenn Ford grimaces, twitches galvanically, and stutters foolishly. It's the kind of role and the kind of performance that make you hate an actor. With Machiko Kyo, Paul Ford, Eddie Albert, and Henry Morgan. The adaptation is by the playwright himself.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

US (1990): Fantasy/Action
93 min, Rated PG, Color, Available on videocassette and laserdisc

A tacky, lighthearted parody of crime-wave movies--camp for kiddies. As babies, the four turtles were let loose in radioactive muck; they mutated into hip, English-speaking, people-size turtles who live in the dark sewers of New York City and send out for pizza. Their mentor, the wise old rat Splinter, has trained them in the martial arts; they fight the criminal legions led by the Japanese, Darth Vader-like Shredder. Their human friends are the TV newswoman April O'Neil (Judith Hoag) and the daredevil Casey Jones (Elias Koteas). Everything in the movie has a playful, pop familiarity, and the jokey allusions to other movies are easy for young kids to grasp. The four turtles (stunt men in getups devised by Jim Henson's Creature Shop) are not as individualized as one might hope, but Splinter has an Alice-in-Wonderland creepiness. The director, Steve Barron, is casual with Hoag and Koteas, who blend in gracefully; he can't do much for the preachy subplot involving a father and son who misunderstand each other. (The flashbacks are the most fun.) The story is based on the comic-book characters devised in 1983 by Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman. Golden Harvest, released by New Line.

Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here

US (1969): Western
96 min, Rated PG, Color, Available on videocassette and laserdisc

Ideology on horseback. The writer-director Abraham Polonsky has taken a Western story about an Indian, Willie (Robert Blake), who, in 1909, kills another Indian, the father of his girl (Katharine Ross), and grafted onto it enough schematic Marxism and Freudianism and New Left guerrilla Existentialism and late-60s American self-hatred so that every damned line of dialogue becomes "meaningful." There isn't a character who doesn't make points and represent various political forces, and the sheriff (Robert Redford) is named Coop so that his actions will symbolize the ultimate cowardice and failure of the Gary Cooper hero figures. The woman doctor (Susan Clark) who is superintendent of the reservation is a patronizing-to-Indians liberal--the ultimate villainess. Ashamed of her sexuality (like all liberals), she is given such lines as--to Redford--"I use you the way you use me." (Most women in the audience will probably think, Lucky you.) The picture is solemnly measured, and its color is desaturated for barren, dusty landscapes. It says that since a black man (the Indian pretense isn't kept up for long) can't trust any white man and there can be no reconciliation of the races, he should try to bring everything down. That is the only way he can make the whites know he was here. A strange notion, because there wouldn't be anybody around to remember him. This picture isn't likely to be very satisfying except to black kamikazes and white masochists. With Barry Sullivan, John Vernon, and Charles McGraw. Cinematography by Conrad Hall; based on the novel Willie Boy, by Harry Lawton. Universal.
For a more extended discussion, see Pauline Kael's book Deeper into Movies.

Tempest

US (1982): Drama/Comedy
140 min, Rated PG, Color, Available on videocassette

Taking off from Shakespeare and the idea of a world-famous American architect of Greek ancestry who is having a mid-life crisis, Paul Mazursky tries for a free, airborne mix of comedy, musical, psychodrama, and dream play. The film has a flickering wit and there are charming bits by Susan Sarandon and the talented young Molly Ringwald, but Mazursky doesn't find an original tone that the audience can respond to, and he has put John Cassavetes-one of the most dour and alienating of actors-at the film's center. And worse, the picture has delusions of pain-in-the-soul glamour; set mostly in Manhattan and on a Greek island, it's overblown and luxuriantly elegant. You feel you should ooh and ah the vistas (courtesy of the cinematographer, Don McAlpine). It has the polished pictorial extravagance of stupe classics, such as Albert Lewin's 1951 PANDORA AND THE FLYING DUTCHMAN. (It even has the swank blue skies that PANDORA had.) And it's a sophisticated fantasy in the same mode: the images might be used to advertise a new parfum. This is an absurd movie, but what an artifact! It takes a high degree of civilization to produce something so hollow. With Raul Julia, Gena Rowlands, Vittorio Gassman, Lucianne Buchanan, Sam Robards, Paul Stewart, Jackie Gayle, Tony Holland, Jerry Hardin, and Paul and Betsy Mazursky. From a script by Mazursky and Leon Capetanos; with a modern score by Stomu Yamashta. Columbia.
For a more extended discussion, see Pauline Kael's book Taking It All In.

Ten Cents a Dance

US (1931): Drama
80 min, No rating, Black & White

The hardboiled sentimentality of many early talkie melodramas could be crackling, and even daring, when a good craftsman was in charge, but here the director, Lionel Barrymore, fails to shape the scenes, and the film drags heavily. In the role of a no-nonsense taxi-dancer, Barbara Stanwyck fends off sailors and rough guys and raps out her lines believably; she's a miraculously natural actress, but without a director she doesn't show anything like the gifts she demonstrated in this same period in LADIES OF LEISURE and THE MIRACLE WOMAN. Here she marries a thieving weakling (Monroe Owsley), and then saves him from prison by borrowing money from a rich (and worthy) gentleman (Ricardo Cortez). When her ungrateful husband turns nasty, she quite sensibly leaves him and goes off to marry the gent. With Sally Blane and Martha Sleeper. Script by Jo Swerling. Columbia.

The Ten Commandments

US (1956): Religious
220 min, No rating, Color, Available on videocassette and laserdisc

Charlton Heston is the highly athletic Moses; Anne Baxter is the kittenish princess who loves him; Judith Anderson is the sinister slave who knows the secret of his Jewish birth; Cedric Hardwicke is the likable old Pharaoh; Yul Brynner is the prince who beats Moses to the Egyptian throne; Edward G. Robinson is the traitor to the Jews; Debra Paget is the young slave old Robinson has got his eyes on. Stir them all together, throw in stone tablets, a whopping big Golden Calf, part the Red Sea, and you've got Cecil B. De Mille's epic--3 hours and 38 minutes of it. As old-fashioned hokum, it's palatable and rather tasty. Also with Yvonne de Carlo, John Derek, John Carradine, Nina Foch, Douglass Dumbrille, Martha Scott, Vincent Price, Henry Wilcoxon, and H.B. Warner. Paramount.

Ten From Your Show of Shows

US (1973): Comedy
92 min, Rated G, Black & White, Available on videocassette

A sampling of the 160 90-minute weekly shows produced and directed by Max Liebman from 1950 to 1954, starring Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca, with Carl Reiner and Howard Morris. A few of the skits are classic, and if you saw Caesar when you were young enough, maybe he'll always be the greatest clown for you.
For a more extended discussion, see Pauline Kael's book Reeling.

Tender Mercies

US (1983): Drama
89 min, Rated PG, Color, Available on videocassette and laserdisc

This bare-bones "art" movie is about the healing of Mac Sledge (Robert Duvall), a legendary country-and-Western singer who has become an alcoholic wreck. The film is said to be honest and about real people, and it affects some viewers very powerfully; audiences are unusually still--almost reverent--as the born-again Mac is baptized at the church of the Vietnam widow (Tess Harper) whose frontier-woman steadfastness has made his redemption possible. The Australian director, Bruce Beresford, making his American début with this inspirational film, has shot it in bright sunshine out in the middle of nowhere; the widow's motel-gas station is as isolated as the mansion in GIANT. (It's a mystery how she could ever make a living from it.) Mostly the picture consists of silences; long shots of the bleak, flat land, showing the horizon line (it gives the film integrity); and Duvall's determination to make you see that he's keeping his emotions to himself; and Tess Harper staring out of her cornflower-blue headlights. (These two have matching deep-sunk eyes.) The theme song--which Duvall sings in a dry, unmusical voice--is called "It Hurts to Face Reality." Written by Horton Foote, master of arid realism, the script recalls the alleged Golden Age of Television. With the fine young actress Ellen Barkin, whose few scenes as Mac's daughter by an earlier marriage are the film's high points, and Betty Buckley, who stirs things up a bit as the brassy, country-star earlier wife, and also Wilford Brimley. Produced by Foote and Duvall; Foote won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and Duvall won for Best Actor. Universal.
For a more extended discussion, see Pauline Kael's book Taking It All In.

The Tenth Victim

Italy (1965): Science Fiction
92 min, No rating, Color, Available on videocassette
Also known as LA DECIMA VITTIMA.

Marcello Mastroianni and Ursula Andress are the stars of this sometimes witty science-fiction extravaganza about licensed killing in the 21st century. Inventive at the start, but it gets out of hand. Directed by Elio Petri. In Italian.

Teorema

Italy (1968): Drama
98 min, No rating, Color, Available on videocassette

Some people profess to find spiritual sustenance in this movie; others break up on lines such as "You came to destroy me" and "I was living in a void," and they find Pasolini's platitudes and riddles and the is-this-man-Christ-or-a-devil game intolerably silly. With Terence Stamp and Silvana Mangano. In Italian.

Tequila Sunrise

US (1988): Crime
116 min, Rated R, Color, Available on videocassette and laserdisc

You have to be able to enjoy trashy shamelessness to enjoy old Hollywood and to enjoy this picture. Robert Towne, who wrote and directed, is soaked in the perfume of 30s and 40s Hollywood romanticism. This is a lusciously silly movie; it has an amorous shine. The three talented stars are smashing: Mel Gibson is a former drug dealer who longs for a decent, respectable life and is trying to succeed in the irrigation business. Kurt Russell is his friend who's the head of the narcotics squad in LA County. And Michelle Pfeiffer is the woman they both love. The crime plot often seems to be stalled, and by rational standards the stars' triangular shuffle is flimsy and stupid, but by romantic standards the whole thing is delectable. With Raul Julia, who has a big, likable, rumbling presence as a scoundrel, J.T. Walsh as a quintessential flatfoot, Ann Magnuson, Arliss Howard, Ayre Gross, and, in a bit as a judge, Budd Boetticher. The golden cinematography is by Conrad Hall; the aggressively offensive score is by Dave Grusin. Warners.
For a more extended discussion, see Pauline Kael's book Movie Love.

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