Robert Aldrich

Robert Aldrich – The Killing of Sister George (1968)

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Legendary director Robert Aldrich (The Dirty Dozen, The Grissom Gang) turns up the heat in this steamy, provocative and expertly executed movie starring Beryl Reid (Trial and Error) and Susannah York (The Maids, Gold). Sexy, sensitive and darkly humorous, The Killing of Sister George is a racy romp that’s entertaining, explicit and sensational. June (Reid) is the star of a TV soap opera… and she has the ego to prove it. But when she begins to suspect that the network is planning to kill off her character—and that her boss is out to seduce her beautiful young lover (York)—June spirals out of control. And as she’s transformed from demanding diva into hair-trigger harridan, TV’s grandest of dames proves that underneath it all… she ain’t no lady. Coral Browne (The Ruling Class) and Patricia Medina (Sangaree) co-stars in this classic drama with a dark sense of humor. Read More »

Robert Aldrich – What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)

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In a tale that almost redefines sibling rivalry, faded actresses Blanche and ‘Baby’ Jane Hudson live together. Jane was by far the most famous when she performed with their father in vaudeville but as they got older, it was Blanche who became the finer actress, which Jane still resents. Blanche is now confined to a wheelchair – Jane ran her over with the car while drunk, even though she has no memory of it – and Jane is firmly in control. As time goes by, Jane exercises greater and greater control over her sister, intercepting her letters and ensuring that few if anyone from the outside has any contact with her. As Jane slowly loses her mind, she torments her sister going to ever greater extremes. Read More »

Robert Aldrich – Autumn Leaves (1956)

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In the ’50s, Robert Aldrich was a favorite of the French Cahiers du Cinema critics. In the ’60s, though, Aldrich got sloppier as his budgets got bigger. Most of his later movies are at least a half hour too long, and formulaic action films like The Dirty Dozen and Too Late the Hero tarnished his once bright reputation. But movies like World for Ransom, Kiss Me Deadly, and Attack! still hold up as harsh portraits of violence, paranoia, and a new kind of universal dread that began with the A-bomb and ended with the JFK assassination. All of Aldrich’s early work is intriguing, but Autumn Leaves is his secret gem. It’s been passed over as camp because of its star, Joan Crawford, but Aldrich brings all his hard edges to this woman’s picture. The collision of his tough style with the soapy material makes for a film that never loses its queasy tension. Read More »

Robert Aldrich – Apache (1954)

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Apache was based on Paul I. Wellman’s novel Broncho Apache, which in turn was inspired by a true story. Burt Lancaster plays Massai, a lieutenant of the great Apache warrior Geronimo (here depicted as an old man, played by Monte Blue). Though his tribe has signed surrender terms with the conquering whites, Massai refuses to do so. He escapes from a prison train and conducts a one-man war against the white intruders-and against some of his own people. Along the way, he claims Nalinle (Jean Peters), whom he previously regarded as a traitor to his cause, as his wife. John McIntire plays famed Indian scout Al Sieber, who-in this film, if not in real life-is sympathetic to the Indians’ plight and Massai’s single-purposed cause. The real-life counterpart to Massai was killed by Sieber’s minions after agreeing to call off the hostilies; United Artists objected to this, forcing producer/star Burt Lancaster to shoot an unconvincingly happy ending.
Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide Read More »

Robert Aldrich – Kiss Me Deadly (1955)

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SYNOPSIS: In this atomic adaptation of Mickey Spillane’s novel, directed by Robert Aldrich, the good manners of the 1950s are blown to smithereens. Ralph Meeker stars as snarling private dick Mike Hammer, whose decision one dark, lonely night to pick up a hitchhiking woman sends him down some terrifying byways. Brazen and bleak, Kiss Me Deadly is a film noir masterwork as well as an essential piece of cold war paranoia, and it features as nervy an ending as has ever been seen in American cinema. Read More »