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Film Appreciation... Dramas


"Citizen Kane" (1941)
There once was a man called Citizen Kane
All few folks thought he was quite insane
His parents got rich and sent him away
But the memories stuck till his dying day
He ran a newspaper for a brief while
He was very lonely but he lived in style
Later he found himself a wife
But he had an affair and it ruined their life
He got married again but it just didn't work
Mostly 'cause Kane was an awful jerk
Ultimately, he died all alone
A broken old man in his castle-like home
But don't feel bad, it's just a movie
(Though the critics agree it's mucho groovy)
The story's done and Kane is dead
One more thing -- Rosebud's a . . .
Just kidding.

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"Casablanca" (1942)
"You must remember this..." Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman's performances alone are enough to justify watching this 1942 classic.

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"Mister Roberts" (1955)
Henry Fonda, in one of his best roles, plays Lt. Doug Roberts, a dedicated naval officer who yearns for combat duty. James Cagney is terrific as the small-minded ship's captain who's more concerned with his treasured palm tree than with the needs of his men. Jack Lemmon won an Oscar for his memorable comic turn as Ensign Pulver, the ship's laundry and morale officer.

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"Chinatown" (1974)
The film "Chinatown" features all the essential elements of a wonderful movie: near-flawless performances by the stars, a storyline that could keep A.D.D. patients interested, and an incredible ending.
Jack Nicholson portrays private investigator Jake Gittes, a hard-boiled detective who likes to breathe through his nose, who is hired by a woman to investigate her cheating husband. When the wife turns out not to be who she was, Jake finds himself in a mess.
Nicholson is terrific, as is Faye Dunaway as the wife with a lot of secrets. And rounding out the cast, John Huston (the director of so many pulp thrillers "Chinatown" is styled after) plays a very wicked man.
"Chinatown" played in Kansas City as part of the National Archives Film Tour.
Review by Jeff Class

"Schindler's List" (1993)
Steven Spielberg's tour du force presentation of the life and times of Oskar Schindler is uplifting as it is heartrending. Depicting the heroic endeavors of businessman Oskar Schindler during World War II in Nazi Germany, this breath-taking web of masterful cinematography and plot sequencing radiates Spielberg's understated genius. Able to be viewed as both a movie and a documentary, "Schlinder's List" is wrought with passion, politics, and conviction, and will surely live on to be one of the one of the most remembered and respected films of the twentieth century. Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsly, and Ralph Finnes elevate this film to classic status with their memorable performances.

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"Smoke Signals" (1998)
Director Chris Eyre's beautiful adaptation of a short story from screenwriter Sherman Alexie's novel The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven is the first film primarily directed, produced, and staring Native Americans.

The film is a wonderful coming of age story that focuses on the friendship of two distinctly different young Native American teenagers with vastly different views about the now deceased father of one of the boys. This story is brilliantly played out against their journey across the country to pick up the remains of the now deceased father, who long ago left the reservation, for reasons that will be revealed at the end of the film. Part coming of age movie, part heroes quest the film is a must see for anyone who had a difficult relationship with their father or anyone who has ever struggled with relationships and personal identity. The fact that the films serious message is portrayed in such a gentle comedic fashion makes this film a must view!

Putting that aside, the film manages to present glimpses into the lives of Native Americans both on and off the reservation that most people have never encountered. This alone makes Smoke Signals an especially appropriate film for teenagers and adults. It is that rare blend of entertainment that manages to be life affirming and funny at the same time.

The film features wonderful performances on the parts of Adam Beach as Victor Joseph and Evan Adams as Thomas Builds The Fire.

On another note: fans of the television show Northern Exposure should watch for the numerous cameos by members of the cast who make memorable guest appearances.

Click here for a series of great quotes from the movie "Smoke Signals."
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Other Suggested Films...
If you are interested in watching other great dramas click here to see more of our favorites.

1999 Debbie Twyman. All rights reserved. TERMS OF USE