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Editor's rating: 
Thursday, 20 November 2008 |  Written by Bill Warren &  | 
Jarhead “Jarhead” is based on the best-selling memoir by Anthony Swofford about his experiences as a Marine before and during the Gulf War. The movie is in a long tradition of soldier training-and-action tales, often centering on the Marines, going back to the silent era and Lon Chaney’s “Tell It to the Marines.” The late 1940s brought “Sands of Iwo Jima” with John Wayne. In the 1950s there was “The Halls of Montezuma” with Richard Widmark; later came “Platoon” and “G.I. Jane.” In terms of story, “Jarhead” isn’t distinctly different from the films that came before, but it has one central difference: here our platoon of gung-ho volunteers never gets into a battle. As he narrates, Anthony Swofford (Jake Gyllenhaal) reports for duty at Camp Pendleton in 1989. He tells us that after a man has been to battle with a rifle, ...
Editor's rating: 
Wednesday, 03 September 2008 |  Written by Darren Groos  | 
Bridge Too Far, A Summer 1944.  The allied invasion of Europe, begun at Normandy, has Germany in retreat, but keeping allied troops supplied has snarled forward progress.  British Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery, Patton’s competitor on the European front, proposes a bold plan that’s accepted by Eisenhower: Operation Market Garden.  On a specified date, the allies plan to drop tens of thousands of paratroopers behind German lines in occupied Netherlands, all with instructions to take over control of three local bridges.  Doing so will keep the army rolling all the way into Germany.  It’s hoped that if the mission succeeds, the war will be over by Christmas.  Unfortunately, Lt. General Browning (Dirk Bogarde) does not give adequate thought to the dozens of ways the mission can go wrong and the precarious positions the different squadrons will be in if the support tanks and troops lead ...
Editor's rating: 
Wednesday, 20 August 2008 |  Written by Darren Gross  | 
Battle of Britain In 1940, the British recalled their air force, which had been assisting the French, in order to defend the British Isles from impending Nazi attack.  Although woefully outnumbered by the Germans, squadrons of worn-out British pilots, with the assistance of hundreds of pilots from other countries, fought off the Nazi attack and turned Germany’s attentions away from British soil.  The series of attacks, known as the battle of Britain, would seem to be fitting material for a rousing, fact-based spectacle; with the blitzkrieg of London as the story’s centerpiece, the story has the makings for a classic underdog success story.  Unfortunately, while filled with stars, aerial dogfight sequences and production value, “Battle of Britain” is a complete dud.  The script by James Kennaway and Wilfred Greatorex (based on “The Narrow Margin” by Derek Dempster and Derek Wood) is one of ...
Editor's rating: 
Friday, 08 August 2008 |  Written by Bill Warren  | 
Sand Pebbles, The “It’s too late in the world for flags,” someone comments on this disc, probably in one of the several good featurettes accompanying the movie.  That’s a distillation of one of the principal themes of “The Sand Pebbles,” and is as relevant today as it was in 1966 when the film was made, and in 1926, the time in which the movie takes place.  “The Sand Pebbles” was nominated for a handful of Oscars, including picture, best actor (Steve McQueen) and best supporting actor (Mako, in his feature debut).  It was directed by Robert Wise not long after he made “West Side Story” and “The Sound of Music”—but even though this is at least the equal of the best of that pair, “The Sand Pebbles” has somewhat vanished from film history.  When Robert Wise died not long ago, he was praised ...
Editor's rating: 
Friday, 08 August 2008 |  Written by Bill Warren  | 
Longest Day, The This Blu-ray disc of the epic “The Longest Day” is that rarity: a high definition version of a black-and-white movie.  The process, however, greatly benefits the movie, made on a huge scale with dozens of top-name stars.  Richard Zanuck, whose father Darryl F. Zanuck masterminded this production, reveals that some actors virtually begged to be in the movie.  One of these was Rod Steiger, who has literally one scene as a U.S. destroyer commander crossing the English channel for the landing on the beaches of Normandy.  Other actors are in and out very quickly; Roddy McDowell has only two short scenes, rock stars Fabian, Tommy Sands and Paul Anka have little more (though Anka did also contribute to the score).  A few French stars also appear, some little known to Americans, but three of whom starred in the great “Children ...
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