Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsMovies

125 YEARS / HOLLYWOOD -- COMMEMORATIVE EDITION

Judgment days

The Reviews

May 21, 2006

Criticism and prophecy are two distinct sciences. A selection of Times film reviews, written on tight deadlines, underscores the challenges -- and the joys -- of the popular form. Read these excerpts and consider which is more pleasurable -- a fulsome rave or a wicked pan?

*

Magnificent Film Spectacle Holds Thousands Entranced

Oct. 18, 1916

By Harry Carr

With "Intolerance," David Wark Griffith has made his place secure as one of the towering geniuses of the world.

As a medium for expressing art, moving pictures may not stand the test of time, but "Intolerance" is greater than any medium. It is one of the mileposts on the long road of art, where painting and sculpture and literature and music go jostling eagerly along together.

["Intolerance" makes "The Birth of a Nation"] look like a fishing smack when a dreadnaught sweeps into a harbor....

*

Charlie Again Is Champion

Feb. 13, 1921

By Harry Carr

To my mind "The Kid" is by long odds the best motion picture comedy ever made. It has more than humor; it has tenderness and literary charm.

Incidentally it is the first child picture I ever saw that did not give me an acute pain to the bowels.

*

Epic Comedy

on the Screen

Jan. 27, 1925

By Edwin Schallert

The first comedy of epic proportions has reached the screen. Charlie Chaplin's "The Gold Rush" sets a pace for length ... in the lighter sort of entertainment, and though it is not all gay by any means, its premier appeal is for merriment.

*

Comedy Is Lost

in War Incidents

May 12, 1927

By Katherine Lipke

It is evident that Buster Keaton started out to make a very funny comedy based on the Civil War. However, "The General," which opened yesterday ... would indicate that he became sidetracked by the drama of that memorable conflict and made instead a picture which is neither straight comedy nor is it thrilling drama. It seems to fall between the two.

*

Hoodlum Epic

Unique Film

May 18, 1931

By Edwin Schallert

If there are to be gangster pictures, let them be like "The Public Enemy," hard-boiled and vindictive almost to the point of burlesque.

There is the scene, for instance, where irked by his sweetheart, [James Cagney's gangster character] crushes a cantaloupe in her face. An odd variation this of the old pie-throwing gag.

*

Star Held Miscast

in Goofy Farce

March 21, 1938

By Norbert Lusk

RKO's mistake in casting Katharine Hepburn in goofy comedy is proved by the poor, single week of "Bringing Up Baby." It seems that almost any star, including Irene Dunne, Carole Lombard and Myrna Loy, may attempt antic comedy and make a go of it, but that medium is not for Miss Hepburn in the theater where she is accepted as an important dramatic actress.

*

'Philadelphia Story' Smart Entertainment Conquest

Dec. 5, 1940

By Edwin Schallert

Miss Hepburn, as a comedienne, is perhaps a greater star than she ever was at any prior cinema period, as a serious actress. This comes near being her champion achievement.

*

'Lost Weekend' Violent Stark Study of Alcoholic

Nov. 30, 1945

By Edwin Schallert

The "curse of the drink" was never more vividly dealt with than in "The Lost Weekend." It is a modern version of an old-time thriller type of melodrama about the evils of over-imbibing, more streamlined and scientific than its predecessors, but still replete with "the horrors."

It will probably either make you take a drink to forget it, or else quit altogether.... And wow, the shudders that the final all-too-vivid scene with the bat and mouse are likely to induce!

*

'Some Like It Hot'

Not as Hot as Expected

April 9, 1959

By Philip K. Scheuer

It is [Jack] Lemmon and [Joe E.] Brown who, in their individual comic styles, provide the best laughs.

But Joe E.'s final tag is a startler from one who for years eschewed anything blue.

[Tony] Curtis is good enough but a couple of paces behind them. His Cary Grant accent as the playboy (not his doing) annoyed the hell out of me.

*

'Psycho' as Brilliant

as It Is Disagreeable

Aug. 11, 1960

By Philip K. Scheuer

Alfred Hitchcock, who I understand felt piqued when H.G. Clouzot beat him to "Diabolique," has had his revenge. His "Psycho" is even more diabolique.

It is one of his most brilliantly directed shockers and also his most disagreeable.... In "Psycho," when the blood is supposed to spurt it really spurts, and on two occasions it forces sickened gasps from the spectator.

*

Strangelove Drops Controversial Bomb

Feb. 20, 1964

By Philip K. Scheuer

This will be a minority report -- critically speaking, at any rate. Before I was served up "Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb," a publicist at Columbia, which is distributing the picture, assured me it would be my "cup of tea." After suffering through two screenings of "Dr. Strangelove," I would sooner drink hemlock.... To me, "Dr. Strangelove" is an evil thing about an evil thing; you will have to make up your own mind about it.

*

Presley Has

a Clambake

Nov. 1, 1967

By Kevin Thomas

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|