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  • A Star Is Born

    A Star Is Born

    ★★★★

    I had seen the Cukor version before.

    This is good. The Cukor version has a better cast, and it also handles the big set pieces, such as Norman Maine's drunken outburst at the Academy Awards, better. But the Wellman version is very good.

    What Wellman brings to the table is a dark comic tone. Maybe this is Wellman's sensibility, or maybe it is Dorothy Parker's work on the script. But there is a bitterness and lack of sentimentality to the…

  • Miracle on 34th Street

    Miracle on 34th Street

    ★★★★★

    Saw this on the big screen today.

    What a well-constructed movie! So many plots and subplots going on. The big plot -- is Kris the real Santa Claus? Beneath that, will Doris believe in Santa? Will Susan? Will Doris and Fred get together? And all of this gets resolved in a wonderful manner.

    Heck, the movie doesn't even forget Albert, the floorsweeper who tells Kris he likes to play Santa at the YMCA. Albert gets to shake Mr. Macy's hand…

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  • The Old Man & the Gun

    The Old Man & the Gun

    ★★★★½

    A worthy film for Robert Redford to go out on.

    This is one smartly put-together film. It assumes the audience has seen bank robbery films before, and so it approaches the subject from a different angle. Instead of thrusting the viewer into the action, the film keeps a distance, making the viewer think about what he is watching, what the protagonist's life means, was this the best way to do things.

    The cast is superb. Redford displays the charm that…

  • The Saphead

    The Saphead

    ★★

    While Buster Keaton is the star of "The Saphead," this isn't really a Keaton film. He didn't direct it.

    He plays a young man who takes the blame for something someone else did but saves the family honor nonetheless. This film was apparently based on a big Broadway success of the previous decade, and Keaton was shoehorned in.

    He does some nice physical humor in the big climax, but the movie has none of the flair Keaton brought to his…