Posts Tagged ‘Faye Dunaway’

This film is an adaptation of the first half of Alexandre Dumas’ novel (the sequel, The Four Musketeers deals with the second half of the novel).  It stars Michael York as the young D’Artagnan, and Oliver Reed, Frank Finlay and Richard Chamberlain, as Athos, Porthos and Aramis respectively.  Milady DeWinter is played by Faye Dunaway, Constance de Bonacieus is played by Raquel Welch, and the villains Cardinal Richelieu and Rochefort are played by Charlton Heston and Christopher Lee.  There is a also a splendid supporting cast including Spike Milligan, Roy Kenner and Simon Ward.

The plot revolves around the D’Artagnan being tasked by Constance to retrieve some diamonds which Queen Anne (Geraldine Chaplin) has given to the Duke of Buckingham (Ward) before King Louis XIII (Jean Pierre Cassel) realises that they are missing.  It is of course, all part of the Cardinal’s plan to get rid of Anne.  D’Artagnan enlists the help of his three friends, and they run into all sorts of obstacles on the way.

This film was an excellent adaptation, and thoroughly enjoyable, thanks in no small part to George MacDonald’s excellent screenplay.  There was plenty of action, but also lots of humour – including some of the slapstick variety, and some which wouldn’t seem out of place in a Carry On film – and I really enjoyed watching it.  I literally laughed out loud on several occasions (watch out for the chess match, with dogs playing all the chess pieces)! The acting was also terrific.  Before watching, Michael York seemed (to me) to be an odd choice to play D’Artagnan, but he fitted into the role perfectly, blending the character’s enthusiasm and hotheadness to great effect.  Richard Chamberlain was very good as Aramis, and Frank Finlay was a wonderful Porthos, but for my money, Oliver Reed stole almost every scene he was in, with his excellent portrayal of the melancholy drunkard Athos.

Staying true to the book, the actual Musketeers themselves are sometimes not on screen for longish periods of time – despite the title, this is really D’Artagnan’s story, and accordingly, York is the main actor, and he carries the responsibility very well.

If you are a fan of the book, or indeed a fan of comedy, please give this film a look.  I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

Year of release: 1973

Director: Richard Lester

Producers: Alexander Salkind, Ilya Salkind, Michael Salkind, Wolfdieter von Stein

Writers: Alexandre Dumas (novel), George MacDonald Fraser

Main cast: Michael York, Oliver Reed, Richard Chamberlain, Frank Finlay, Faye Dunaway, Raquel Welch, Spike Milligan, Roy Kinnear, Jean Pierre Cassel, Geraldine Chaplin, Charlton Heston, Christopher Lee


Click here for my review of the novel.

Click here for my review of the 1993 film adaptation.



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A couple of years after making the hugely successful The Poseidon Adventure, producer Irwin Allen made The Towering Inferno, another disaster movie with a top-notch cast (Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, William Holden, Fred Astaire – in an Oscar nominated turn – Robert Wagner, Robert Vaughn, Richard Chamberlain, Faye Dunaway, Jennifer Jones; it’s practically a who’s who of Hollywood at the time.) Newman and McQueen share top billing (at McQueen’s insistence) as architect Doug Roberts and firefighter Chief Mike O’Halloran.  William Holden as James Duncan, is the head of the company who built the tower, and it turns out that his son-in-law Roger Simmons (Richard Chamberlain) has cut corners and compromised safety in order to save money.  Astaire puts in a touching performance as con artist Harlee Claiborne, who falls for his intended con victim Lisolette (Jennifer Jones).

As the name of the film indicates, these characters and others besides all find themselves trapped at the top of a skyscraper designed by Roberts, when a fire breaks out and threatens to engulf them all.  The action scenes are genuinely edge-of-the-seat stuff, and there are some truly shocking moments, and lots of tension throughout.  Despite the impressive roll call of names on the cast list, the true star of the show, as Newman himself acknowledged, is the fire itself.

It isn’t a perfect film by any means – in fact some of the dialogue is downright hammy, and feels false.  I don’t feel that the cast are at fault for this (after all, you only have to look at their other films to know just how good most of these actors are), but it’s fair to say that there isn’t much character development.  For me, McQueen is the stand-out cast member, with the best performance of the lot (and I say this as a big fan of Newman, Holden and Astaire).  But despite its flaws, there is just SO much to enjoy about this film – it’s not often that a film with a running time of almost three hours, keeps me engaged from start to finish, but this one certainly did.  It might not be the best film of any of the cast members, but on a pure entertainment level, it’s a winner, and I would definitely recommend it.

(Incidentally, there is a lot of interesting trivia about this film.  McQueen was originally pegged for the role of Doug Roberts, but he lobbied to get the part of the heroic O’Halloran – not that Roberts isn’t also a hero.  He also insisted that he get equal billing with Newman, which is why in the opening titles, his name appears on the lower left hand side of the screen, while Newman’s appears on the top right.  That way, if you read from top to bottom, Newman comes first, and if you read from left to right, McQueen comes first.  He also insisted that he be given extra lines, in order that he and Newman – with whom he always had a professional rivalry – had the same amount of dialogue!  Nonetheless, he took Newman’s son Scott, who has a small role as a nervous firefighter, under his wing during the filming.)

Year of release: 1974

Director: John Guillerman

Producers: Irwin Allen, Sidney Marshall

Writers: Richard Martin Stern (novel ‘The Tower’), Thomas N. Scortia (novel ‘The Glass Inferno’), Frank M. Robinson (novel ‘The Glass Inferno’), Stirling Silliphant

Main cast: Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, William Holden, Fred Astaire, Faye Dunaway, Richard Chamberlain, Jennifer Jones, Robert Vaughn

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Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway steam up the screen in this drama/thriller.  McQueen is the eponymous anti-hero, an incredibly rich, charismatic man, who organises a bank heist, not for the money, but just for the kicks.  Dunaway is Vicki Anderson, an insurance investigator, who has about as many morals as Thomas Crown – that is to say, very few.  Although they both know that she is trying to expose him as the man behind the heist, they are very attracted to each other, and start a relationship…but with one of them trying to catch out the other, just how far can such a relationship go?

I found this film flawed, but nonetheless enjoyable.  To get the major gripe out of the way first, there is excessive use of a split-screen in this film, and I found it annoying after a while.  I could see the need for it in some instances – for example where it was showing what five separate characters were doing at the same time, but there were times when it was completely unnecessary.  (For example, in one scene, Vicki is watching Thomas play Polo, and the screen divides up into multiple little boxes, all showing the same picture.  To compound the problem, occasionally one of the boxes would shrink and take up a corner of the screen while the rest of it was black.  In 1968, this may have been innovative, but in 2013, it was just annoying! (For this viewer anyway).

As for the story itself, it was wildly implausible, but a lot of fun for all that.  The soundtrack does date the film somewhat, but doesn’t diminish the enjoyment.  Steve McQueen just oozes charisma, in a role that was something of a departure for him. No matter – he was excellent, being one of those actors who you just can’t take your eyes off when he’s on screen.  Faye Dunaway too, looked stunning, and was fine as Vicki Anderson.  They definitely made a beautiful couple!  The most famous scene in this film is probably the chess sequence, where the sexual tension between Thomas and Vicki is almost palpable.  Although by today’s standards its fairly tame, I can imagine the reaction it caused when the film came out!

The ending was something of a surprise as well, and rounded it off satisfactorily.  I would recommend this film to fans of 60s movies, and/or fans of either McQueen or Dunaway.

Year of release: 1968

Director: Norman Jewison

Producers: Norman Jewison, Hal Ashby, Walter Mirisch

Writer: Alan R. Trustman

Main cast: Steve McQueen, Faye Dunaway, Paul Burke, Jack Weston


Click here for my review of the 1999 film.


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When a young man (Johnny Depp) is brought into the care of psychiatrist Jack Mickler (Marlon Brando), claiming to be the legendary lover Don Juan, Jack finds himself getting drawn into the young man’s world, and realise that some of the magic is missing from his own.  As Don Juan tells the story of his life, and what has brought him to this moment, he starts to have an effect on all around him.  Is he Don Juan, or isn’t he?  And in the end, does it really matter…?

Ahhhh, such a lovely film.  Johnny Depp is probably at his most beautiful here – and plays the part of Don Juan to perfection; this is just the sort of quirky off-beat role that he excels at.  Marlon Brando is also excellent as the world weary Mickler,who finds himself rejuvenated by the magical tales that he is told.  Faye Dunaway (as stunning as ever) plays the part of Mickler’s wife Marilyn, who is curious about the changes she sees in her husband.

There’s plenty of subtle humour in the film, mainly in the form of throwaway one-liners by Don Juan, but it’s also a very charming and sweet movie, which will leave you with a warm glow.  If you’ve never seen it – treat yourself!

Year of release: 1994

Director: Jeremy Leven

Writer: Lord Byron (character of Don Juan), Jeremy Leven

Main cast: Johnny Depp, Marlon Brando, Faye Dunaway

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Peter Finch (who won a posthumous Oscar for this role) plays Howard Beale, a news anchor, who upon being told that he is being fired due to low ratings, has an on air-breakdown where he says that he will kill himself live on tv the following week.  He is given a chance by his bosses to redeem himself and make a live apology, but when he is due to do so, he simply says – again on-air – that he is sick of “bullshit.”

The tv company’s immediate reaction is to fire him, but his friend Max Schumacher, who sympathises with Beale, keeps him on and Beale eventually ends up with his own show, where he is known as the Mad Prophet.  In his show, he rants about America, about corporate lies and life in general, and the ratings go through the roof…but the television network will only look after Beale for as long as he is a valuable commodity to them…

This film was made in the 1970s, but it is just as relevant, if not more so, in today’s world.  It perfectly portrays the exploitation that we see in so much television today.  For instance, it is clear that Beale is suffering from some form of mental illness (he starts to have visions and hear voices talking to him), yet nobody at the network is interested in helping him; in fact, helping him is the last thing they want to do, as his shows will not work if he is totally in his right mind.  We see much the same thing in shows today like Big Brother, where people are put on screen simply to be laughed at or gawped at, however cruel this may be.  And think how many people are shown in the audition stages of X Factor, simply to be laughed at (as an aside, it’s worth remembering that the people who get to audition on tv in X Factor have already been through three auditions before they get to be in front of the four main judges.  It is clear that some of them are put through purely to be humiliated).  This film understood and showed all of that happening.

In another storyline, ambitious tv producer Diana Christensen (Faye Dunaway) gives a gang of terrorists their own television show, on the basis that they film their crimes as they commit them.  In one of my favourite scenes, a bunch of tv executives are sitting around discussing contracts and terms with the terrorist group.  This gang are killing and robbing, but hey – who cares as long as they give good ratings, right?  Robert Duvall is excellent, as always, as Christensen’s boss Frank Hackett.  Hackett is heartless and cares for nobody except himself.

All in all, this is an entertaining and very relevant film.  Highly recommended.

Year of release: 1976

Director: Sidney Lumet

Writer: Paddy Chayefsky

Main cast: Peter Finch, William Holden, Robert Duvall, Faye Dunaway

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