Sunday, March 13, 2005

  • Scrooge (National General, 1970). Fashionably distressed cherubim drop "h"'s all over a Simonized London in Leslie Bricusse's treacly musicalization of A Christmas Carol. Yeoman Ronald Neame hasn't the craft to direct attention away from the peurile score (he can't -- it's ubiquitous), and the cast troupes about on autopilot. Guinness' fey Marley proves the lone exception; it's an astonishingly misguided conceit, but at least he seems amused with the enterprise.
  • Sunrise at Campobello (Warner Bros., 1960). Dore Schary's bromidic adaptation of his prior stage success recounts a pivotal few years in the life of FDR: contracting polio, acquiring the stature of a Democratic, presidential hopeful. Greer Garson's Great Lady comeback as an insufferably well-heeled Eleanor earned the obligatory Oscar nod, but it's Bellamy as Franklin who manages to salvage what he can of the logy narrative, lockjaw notwithstanding. Nowhere near as soporific as Daryl Zanuck's Wilson, and a giddy indulgence for fans of the spit-shined biopic (you'll have trouble separating the Roosevelt progeny from the von Trapp kids), but a soppy affair nonetheless. With Ann Shoemaker as a theatrically emasculating Mother R. and Hume Cronyn signaling his every actor's intent as Louis McHenry Howe.
  • Zelary (Sony Pictures Classics, 2004). Czech nurse and WWII resistance fighter Anna Geislerova is forced to relocate, establish a new identity in titular mountain town after running afoul of the Nazis. Handsome, well-acted bucolic benefits from a fresh perspective and an uncommon climax, but the hasty epilogue and short shrift given to key characters (Jaroslev Dusek and Miroslav Donutil share a fascinating relationship as the resident schoolteacher and priest) keep this one firmly inside the ballpark.

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