Darkest Hour stands apart from more routine historical dramas.
DALLAS -- "Oklahoma!" opens with one of the most familiar moments in all of musical comedy, as a cowboy comes singing out of the dawn, declaring "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning!" I've seen that moment many times, and it never fails to thrill me, but I've never seen it quite as I saw it here last Monday night, when the movie played during the USA Film Festival.
This is the sort of Irony that Hollywood understands: Joan Crawford spent her entire life in the painstaking construction of an image, only to have a movie reveal the things she tried to hide behind the image. The film is named “Mommie Dearest”. It is currently in production at Paramount, and it will be released sometime this autumn. In it, the glamorous perfectionist Crawford is portrayed as an egomaniacal alcoholic who terrorized her adopted daughter, Christina.
When the lights are placed just so on the conductor's podium in the orchestra pit of Radio City Music Hall, they cast a giant shadow of the conductor onto the ceiling of the enormous room. Sitting in the darkness, you can look up and see his arms beating time and his coattails flying, and then you can look down at the screen again, its silent images surrounded by the music.
Wim Wenders' "Kings of the Road" is a film of great depth and beauty, and its black and white photography is worthy of comparison with John Ford's. But it is rarely played commercially, maybe because of its three-hour length.
“Close Encounters of the Third Kind” had its official premiere here last Sunday before one of those typical media crowds: Hard to please, veterans of a thousand opening nights, showing its sophistication as the credits went past by applauding the names of the cinematographers. The final credit faded silently to darkness on the screen, and there was a certain hush: Here was director Steven Spielberg's $24-million gamble, and we were about to see if he'd pulled it off.
We've just been through a remarkably old-fashioned summer at the movies: A summer during which the big hits were a space opera, a romantic melodrama, a thriller about sunken treasure and even one more absurdist frolic with good old James Bond. Summer is traditionally the season for quick, shallow entertainments, but the summer of 1977 outdid itself, and was astonishingly successful at it; Variety, the show-biz bible, calls this the best summer in years at the movie box office.
Everybody seems to love a ‘disaster.’
Our film critic, Roger Ebert, steps out into the light, blinks his eyes and shares some of the good memories.
See also this entry from Roger Ebert's Journal:
"Everybody's singin' it, everybody's hummin' it, that Trans-syl-VANE-ian Lullaby!" Mel Brooks conducted an imaginary symphony orchestra. "Isn't it a lovely tune?" he asked. "It was composed just for our movie. I said I needed a little romantic music for Grandson of Frankenstein's wedding night, and here's what I got."