Tag Archives: Maggie Smith

The Set of 400: #109 – My Favorite Loss of Marbles

Today! Because for reasons of good form, I have decided that the so-called Pan will return in three days to commit the arbitrament of the sword. Smee, translate –

Hook (1991)

Directed by Steven Spielberg (x5)

Starring Robin Williams (x5), Dustin Hoffman (x4), Julia Roberts (x3), Maggie Smith (x3), Bob Hoskins (x3), Charlie Korsmo (x2), Amber Scott, Caroline Goodall, Dante Basco, Laurel Cronin, Arthur Malet, Don S. Davis (x2), Gwyneth Paltrow (x4), Phil Collins, David Crosby, Tony Burton (x5), Glenn Close (x2), Raushan Hammond

Back-to-back 1991s! A year so dense with favorites that it has now landed 14 movies on the list, but like 1992 before it (on this list, not chronologically, obviously, smart asses) only sees one film crack the top 100! But Hook sure got close. The first sign that my undying ten-year-old’s love for Batman could be cracked, Hook temporarily unseated the Caped Crusader’s ’89 outing as my favorite film, in lists from the day currently missing, but being avidly sought, in the various attic’d boxes of my youth. As yet, no luck. But man did I love Hook. It’s funny and exciting, with some really cool sequences (all of Pirate Neverland) and iconic images (really the whole London stretch in the first act of the film). So what if it feels four hours long watching it today? For kids, Hook is incredible.

But no, I can’t imagine adults feel the same way. There’s weird stuff in the film that just doesn’t work (ahem, everything related to Tinkerbell – every single thing) and there are goofball scenes that may kind of fit the theme, but really undo some of the characters. Most egregious is the period of the film where Peter’s son Jack is, like, playing baseball with the pirates and forgets his parents and life on Earth and starts dressing like Captain Hook – which happens very, very quickly. And they try to shoe-horn in some explanation – this is just what happens in Neverland! – but it doesn’t happen to the daughter, and they are only in Neverland for like a weekend, even though it feels like forever, due to the excessive run time of the film. Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #164 – My Favorite Blind Butler

Today! Because conversation like television set on honeymoon – unnecessary –

Murder by Death (1976)

Directed by Robert Moore (x2)

Starring David Niven, Maggie Smith (x2), Peter Sellers (x4), Peter Falk (x4), Elsa Lanchester, James Coco (x3), Alec Guinness, Eileen Brennan (x2), Estelle Winwood, James Cromwell (x2), Nancy Walker, Truman Capote, Richard Narita

Neil Simon’s epic comedy mashup of legendary 20th century mystery novel sleuths is half brilliant, half standard Neil Simon-esque jokes, with a like 20% horribly racist overlay. It was the ’70s, and I know that’s no great excuse, and you had master of accents and buffoonery Peter Sellers as Charlie Chan-lite Sidney Wang, but that’s also no great excuse. Wang has some funny lines – not just funny accent bits – but it’s not for today’s audience, I’ll readily admit that.

However, Niven and Smith as Dick and Dora Charleston, Peter Falk’s Sam Diamond, James Coco’s Monsieur Perrier, and Elsa Lanchester’s Jessica Marbles take off wonderfully on Nick and Nora, Sam Spade, Hercule Poirot, and Miss Marple. The plot revolves around a secluded mansion where the detectives have been gathered to solve a murder by their host Lionel Twain, the ultimately murdered man, played fairly tongue-in-cheek by Truman Capote. It’s absurdist zaniness, with the house functioning very much as a character itself, moving rooms at will and facilitating numerous attempts on the detectives’ lives. It’s basically a wilder take on Clue, just ten years earlier and with only one ending. Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #336 – My Favorite Voodoo Action Figures

Today! Because the Kraken is invulnerable. A hundred men could not fight him, an army could not kill him –

Clash of the Titans (1981)

Directed by Desmond Davis

Starring Harry Hamlin, Laurence Olivier, Maggie Smith, Ursula Andress, Jack Gwillim, Claire Bloom, Burgess Meredith (x2), Judi Bowker, Sian Phillips, Pat Roach, Susan Fleetwood, Tim Pigott-Smith, Neil McCarthy

This pile of Ray Harryhausen wonderment adorned with super high end actors was another staple of the household growing up. We even had a puzzle of the above poster that I remember being a real ballbuster to put together – there’s a lot more water in the bottom part of the picture than appears here. But as a pure adventure movie, this thing basically holds up. Sure, those stop-motion effects look a little creaky in anything nowadays, but they are still relatively seamless with the movie as a whole. And there’s a bunch of well-realized mythological creatures populating the goings on. Pegasus! Medusa! The Kraken! Dude!

When the speechifying starts, it’s not the greatest. Even Olivier and Maggie Smith, with epic godly back-lighting, have a hard time making that dialogue work, but seriously, the plot in this thing doesn’t matter. There are monsters for Harry Hamlin’s Perseus to battle, for Chrissakes! His quest is basically gather up weapons, consult some witches, try not to turn to stone, fight giant sea creatures, rescue damsels, and keep that hairdo looking tight. Fun, mindless action!

Not so much backlighting as a full on laser show!

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