Editor of big movies like Citizen Kane and The Devil and Daniel Webster who became director of other big movies like The Day the Earth Stood Still, West Side Story, The Andromeda Strain, and Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) -- Very good sci-fi for the time in that it featured good effects, good acting, and a decent story. Michael Rennie's acting as Klaatu strikes a perfect balance: he's not too human and not too alien. You actually believe he could be one with his delivery. The movie isn't perfect, though. There's a sort of false suspense about what the message is going to be to the Earthlings, and when we hear it, it's what he's been saying all along, so lots of the movie just seems like a broken record. The neutralizing of the planet is cool, but ultimately doesn't do much. And the "peace through robots" talk is a little weird. The best moments are probably the ones with "Mr. Carpenter" and Bobby, though one wishes more came out of that story. The message of the movie, of course, is loud and clear, and -- though it fits better with the Cold War era -- it still holds up today as a metaphor for our new batch of problems. The Jesus parallels seem to work okay too. Enjoyable 1950s sci-fi, right down to the spooky Bernard Herrmann score.
West Side Story (1961) -- Directed with Jerome Robbins. Probably the best musical-to-screen adaptation of all time, featuring all of the great songs with music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and choreography by co-director Jerome Robbins. When the music and dancing isn't going, the story is great too, since -- you know -- it's Romeo and Juliet after all. Where many musicals become diffused when they reach the screen, this one retains the same amount of energy.
Copyright (c) Feb 2007 by Rusty Likes Movies