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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. [Volume 39, Issue 8. April 1976]


page 26


A Fistful of Dollars


This is the first and best of the series of Dollar films starring Clint Eastwood. It is a Mexican-American-Spanish-ltalian western because each of these countries has a pari to play in the final synthesis.

"Just about every western cliche that went with the old formula of the cool mysterious gunslinger who blows into an evil frontier town and takes on the wicked greedy varmints, knocking them off one by one, is in this egregiously synthetic but engrossingly morbid violent film "

New York Times

Eastwood plays the half cowboy half gangster hero who comes bouncing back no matter whether he gets beaten to a pulp.

The film is full of spectator violences and the professionalism of these scenes is partly due to the fact that the film is a rewrite of a Japanese samurai film made by Akira Kurosawa, one of the world's most accomplished directors.

Director -

Sergio Leone

Every Home Should have One

I can't remember much about this film, except that I couldn't stop laughing from all those weird Marty Feldman faces.

This film is better described as a long Marry Feldman skit because it is totally based around him and the incredible situations in which he finds himself. Feldman plays an agent for an advertising company Trying TO come up with a jingle for a top roduct. He is sent out into the world with the advice to "think dirty". He does, and you'll have to go and see what happens!


The film about Sir Charles Gordon ([unclear: Charton] Heston), a glorious hero and tragic victim of British involvement in the Egyptian Sudan during the last part of the 19th Century.

Gordon is sent into Khartoum tO evacuate the British and the Egyptians from the city as it is being taken over by the natives of Sudan. The Tribes leader was Mahdi (Sir Lawrence Olivier).

Based on actual history, the film s packed with an incredible amount of historical detail, battle action and mystery.

Mahdi is the victor in the battles and is the moral victor as well, although the film -s based on the British Hero Even in The meeting Gordon has with Mahdi before the final battle. Mahdi's arguments are much stronger than Gordon's. Mahdi is brilliantly played by Olivier, and as with the real characters, has it over Heston who gives one of his best performances ever.

Director -

Julian Bluastein

Film Review -

'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' is the most devastating film I've seen for a very long time - and, funnily enough, one of the most enjoyable.

If you do nothing else this week go and see it. It'll make you think a lot more than a week of varsity bullshit.

Briefly, the plot revolves around R.P. MacMurphy (Jack Nicholson), a free spirited rogue who feigns insanity at a penal farm in order to force officials to transfer him to a local asylum. He thinks life will be easier there and gradually, through his irrestible charm and cunning, he begins to take over the ward to which he's been assigned. The patients love him, the authorities don't - and there lies the conflict which must end in his ultimate inexhorable, extinction.

'Cuckoo's Nest' is essentially the story of a man. A man, like you or I. A man who is perhaps impetuous, over-emotional, rebellious but nevertheless someone who is part of us all R.P. MacMurphy is a totally real character - his humour, his exemberance radiate from the entire film - with him we laugh, we cry, we suffer, we identify.

The impact of the film comes from its total believeability. The story totally absorbs us - we become one with Nicholson. And then comes the savage twist of the knife. As the billboards says 'If he's mad, what does that make you'.

This question of mental illness - what is it, who's got it, and what can we do about it - is the central theme of the film. In talking about the film the director, Milos Forman, said: 'One of the challenges of the story is that you are describing mentally ill people at a time when doctors don't know what mental illness really is.... I can only define 'mental illness' as an incapacity to adjust to ever-changing, unspoken rules. If you are incapable of making these constant changes you are called by your environment, crazy.'

The power of the film comes from the realisation that MacMurphy, Billy, Stan and the other inmates are no more insane than the rest of us. They're real, everyday people who are destroyed by the asylum itself. Just as they go mad, so too would we.

It is here we see the true genius of "Cuckoo's Nest". The film is a delicate blend of subtlety and understatement. It is not a belaboured documentary film on the evils of mental hospitals, but rather the happy-sad life of a likeable guy.

The whole film works on the age old principle of getting the audience laughing, getting them on your side, then subtly twisting the knife. And it works the audience reaction at the film was amazing, people laughed, clapped and cheered and finally, were deadly silent.

Photo from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest film

This sense of understatement is further shown in the actual depiction of mental treatment. In only one brief scene do we see MacMurphy receiving electric shock. But there's so much more power in what we don't see, - in what Forman leaves unsaid The audience silently, desperately Understands the rest.

"Cuckoo's Nest" explores the conflict between individual and authority. MacMurphy represents the independent, free-thinking exuberant being who takes on the bigoted, unfeeling 'system'. His tragedy is that he is crushed just when he was most likely to succeed

"One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' has all the elements of a very romantic film. But it is the harsh, savage Romanticism of the 1970's.

The full ironic sadness of the ending hits you when you realise that its only in the movies that the good guy escapes. Only one person can ever fly over the cuckoo's nest. For you and I there is no escape.

My final, lasting impression from the film was an unshakeable belief in the value of a single human being - the thinking individual against authority The film has an incredible sense of the dignity of man, which comes primarily from Chief Bromden - the frightened Indian who, through MacMurphy, grows to be a man. He gives to the film a dignity that few films have. It's something I can't describe - but it somehow gives the film a power that lives on after the cinema is long gone.

But don't take my word for it - go and see it.

I've tried to explain what I felt about the film and analyse the basic themes. But its only my point of view and it could well be a load of crap. The only way to check it out is to go see the film - and whatever happens, you won't be sorry.

Ben Smith

Film Review: Lucky Lady

When a star is born a superb birth is in order, and Liza Minnelli certainly gave us that in Cabaret. But one also expects fur their greatness: Lucky Lady is her first film to follow and is an unqualified disaster.

The story concerns three small-timers running whisky from Mexico into the States in 1930 They develop an ostensibly lovable menage-a-trois, run into trouble with the local mob but manage to kill them all, and live happily ever after.

We are supposed to be watching a glorious series of jokes, slapstick, tomfoolery and sheer lunacy, yet all this is without exception embarrassingly-badly done.

Minnelli is Clare, a no-hope singer in a run-down Mexican night-club. Clare is not Sally Bowles, and while it is to Minnelli's credit that she so painstakingly tries to: throw off the mantle of the latter, it is unfortunate that her better moments occur when, just for a word or a gesture, she forgets to do just that.

Sally was a fascinating character; Clare is a bore. When the two men muse on her magnetism, one wonders whom the hell they are talking about.

Burt Reynolds plays Walker, an idiot through and through who can't even manage to be endearing. He looks (as he so often does) as if he hasn't a clue what's going on, and this time I don't entirely blame him. He is supposed to provide most of the slapstick, but has an uncanny knack of seeming to do something funny as if it really isn't meant to be.

Gene Hackman plays Kippy (the level headed partner), quietly smiling, but with an even more blatant lack of enthusiasm than Minnelli has for her role.

The basic trouble is that director Stanley Donen doesn't have the ghost of an idea of how to make a movie. Most of the conversations are inaudible and sound as if they were recorded on a swinging boom mike which made sporadic passes near the actors. (This isn't as annoying as it could be because one very quickly gets the impression one isn't missing much).

When one does hear the script, it sounds like an unhappy mixture of first-take improvised inanities and old jokes which the actors do their level best to ruih.

Visually the film is worse. Situations are painfully set up but completely lack the delightful predictability of, for exam pie a Blake Edw3rds comedy. To counter this (I presume) a number of visual jokes happen almost off-camera and do not play the role they should in creating a frivolous mood.

It is as if the cast consider they are not making a comedy but don't know what else it might be.

The gangsters look and sound like insipid versions of the old dummies in double-breasted suits toting machine-guns. To top it all off, even the big showdown with its requisite sharp-shooting, spectacular deaths and daredeviling-cum-buffoonery is unexciting.

At one point in the film someone asks of the three, "Waddya think they are, gangsters?' 'No', is the reply 'just Hollywood bums' I really couldn't believe it.

Simon Wilson