Ken Hughes – Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)

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Plot Synopsis by Paul Brenner

One of the stars of Walt Disney’s Mary Poppins, Dick Van Dyke, is re-united with that film’s composer and lyricist, Richard M.Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, in this big budget and bloodless children’s fantasy musical, based on the children’s book by James Bond author Ian Fleming. Van Dyke plays Caractacus Potts, a failed inventor who lives in a big house with his two children — Jemima Heather Ripley and Jeremy Adrian Hall — and eccentric father Lionel Jeffries. Potts has to raise 30 shillings so his children can buy a broken-down racing car from the junkyard. After a disastrous attempt to sell his invention of whistling sweets to Lord Scrumptious (James Robertson-Justice), the local candy maker, he finally gets enough money for the car by doing a Dick Van Dyke dance routine at the county fair. Potts takes the car and miraculously transforms the vehicle into a shiny new car named Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. While on a picnic with the children and Truly Scrumptious (Sally Ann Howes), Lord Scrumptious’ beautiful daughter, Potts concocts a fantasy tale about the magical powers of the car, which can now float on water and fly. In the tale, Baron Bomburst (Gert Frobe) wants the car for himself and kidnaps the automobile and the inventor. But Bomburst captures Grandpa by mistake along with the wrong car, so Potts, Truly, and the children have to enlist Chitty Chitty Bang Bang on a rescue mission to Bomburst’s lair to save Grandpa. Continue reading

Malcolm J. Thomson – David Bowie – Love You Till Tuesday (1969)

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Love You till Tuesday was a promotional film designed to showcase the talents of David Bowie, made in 1969. The film was the latest attempt by his manager, Kenneth Pitt, to bring Bowie to a wider audience. Pitt had undertaken the film after a suggestion by Gunther Schnedier, producer of German TV show ‘4-3-2-1 Musik Für Junge Leute’ for the ZDF network. Continue reading

Nadezhda Kosheverova & Mikhail Shapiro – Zolushka AKA Cinderella (1947)

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Based on the traditional story about the hard working Cinderella, her wicked step-mother and lazy sisters. The film was restored at ”Mosfilm” in 1967.

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Old Story of Never Aging Charm, 19 February 2005

Author: Galina from Virginia, USAThe film starts with the words, “This is a very old fairy tale that was first told many centuries ago and still lives, and everybody tells it in a different way”. The creators of the film “Zolushka”, 1947 (“Cinderella”), told this old story with so much tenderness, humor, kindness, and style that it will be loved and watched by spectators of many generations, past and future, children and adults alike. “Cinderella” is the film of lasting and never aging charm. Its directing is effortless, the familiar plot never fails to captivate, the music by Antonio Spadavekkia is enchanting and absolutely fits the magic of the film. The old story is retold by Yevgeni Shvarts (who also wrote the screenplays to the masterpieces of Russian Cinema “To Kill a Dragon” (1991), “Ordinary Wonder” (1978), “Twelve Chairs” (1977), and “Don Quixote” (1957)), and he added the jokes that are still funny and biting after all these years. I just have to say a couple of words about acting. The best Russian actors of the time participated in the “Cinderella”. I would never forget a touchy but kind King (Erast Garin), tender and loving Zolushka (Yanina Zhejmo, who was 38 when she took a role but she was absolutely believable as 16 year old Zolushka), and one of my favorite actresses of all time, one and only Faina Ranevskaya as an evil but unforgettable Stepmother who believes that with her powerful connections she will rule the Magic Kingdom. Continue reading

Aki Kaurismäki – Total Balalaika Show [+ Extras] (1994)

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Description: On June 12, 1993, Audience of 70.000 people witnessed a historical event on the Senate Square in Helsinki. Leningrad Cowboys performed for the first time together with the 100 singers, 40 musicians and 20 dancers of the Alexandrov Red Army Chorus and Dance Ensemble, on the biggest stage ever seen in Finland. The programme included rock classics from “Happy Together” and “Delilah” to “Gimme All Your Lovin” and “Knocking On Heaven`s Door”, as well as traditional hits from the Ensemble`s own repertoire.

From the beginning to the end, the concert was a roaring success. Aki Kaurismäki and his crew filmed the event. TOTAL BALALAIKA SHOW is a documentary on the concert, and extraordinary, unforgettable encounter of the old and the new, of East and West.
Continue reading

Otto Preminger – Carmen Jones (1954)

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Love, passion, betrayal and tragedy. Carmen Jones is an adaptation of Bizet’s legendary opera, Carmen. It tells the story of a young, free spirited woman called Carmen Jones whose great beauty is the object of many men’s desires. However, Carmen sets her sights on young army officer Joe, who is engaged to his sweetheart, Cindy Lou. Joe quickly succumbs to Carmen’s charms , forsaking his Cindy Lou, thus beginning the tragic love story. Continue reading

Otto Preminger – Porgy and Bess (1959)

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A stellar line-up of African-American actors and musical stars helped to bring DuBose Heyward and Ira Gershwin’s classic operetta to this screen in this lavishly-produced adaptation. Porgy (Sidney Poitier) is a crippled man living in the shantytown of Catfish Row who has fallen in love with Bess (Dorothy Dandridge), a beautiful but troubled woman addicted to drugs. Bess is already being courted by several men, including Crown (Brock Peters), a muscular laborer, and Sportin’ Life (Sammy Davis, Jr.), a sharp-suited hipster who deals narcotics. Crown gets in a fist fight with Robbins (Joel Fluellen) and ends up killing him; Crown goes on the lam, and Bess, needing companionship, takes up with Porgy. However, Crown soon returns, and Porgy kills him in a subsequent altercation, forcing him to hide from the police. Meanwhile, the fickle Bess follows Sportin’ Life in search of the bright lights of New York City. Pearl Bailey, Diahann Carroll, Ivan Dixon, and Clarence Muse also highlight the cast; Robert McFerrin provided the singing voice of Porgy, and Adele Addison dubbed in Bess’ musical numbers. — Mark Deming Continue reading

Alan Parker – Bugsy Malone (1976)

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At first the notion seems alarming: a gangster movie cast entirely with kids. Especially when we learn that “Bugsy Malone” isn’t intended as a kid’s movie so much as a cheerful comment on the childlike values and behavior in classic Hollywood crime films. What are kids doing in something like this?

But then we see the movie and we relax. “Bugsy Malone” is like nothing else. It’s an original, a charming one, and it has yet another special performance by Jodie Foster, who at thirteen was already getting the roles that grown-up actresses complained weren’t being written for women anymore. She plays a hard-bitten nightclub singer and vamps her way through a torch song by Paul Williams with approximately as much style as Rita Hayworth brought to “Gilda.” She starts on stage, drifts down into the audience, arches her eyebrows at the fat cats (all about junior high school age), and, in general, is astonishingly assured. And her performance seems just right in the film; “Bugsy Malone” depends almost totally on tone, and if you put kids in these situations and directed them just a little wrongly the movie would be offensive. But it’s not, and it’s especially right with Foster. Continue reading