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In this political dramedy, Peter Boyle plays Marvin Lucas, a political election specialist.  He needs a democratic candidate to run for Senator in California against the incumbent Republican Crocker Jarmon, and selects Bill McKay (Robert Redford), the son of a former Governor.  McKay sees the opportunities to voice his ethics and values, and as Jarmon is fully expected to win, McKay feels able to be honest what he would like to do in the position of Senator, because he knows that realistically nothing he says is going to affect the result of the vote.

However, when predictions show that McKay is not only likely to lose, but to be completely humiliated, Lucas decides to tweak McKay’s message, and to manipulate his words and actions, so that the candidate is more palatable to voters.  As the campaign continues, McKay finds his loyalties and morals compromised, and realises that his message is getting lost in a sea of buzzwords and platitudes.

This film is now 42 years old, but the message is as relevant as ever.  I hesitate to call it satire, as I suspect that a lot of it is actually very close to the truth, and at the root of the film is the question, how much are you prepared to sacrifice what you believe in order to get what you want?

Robert Redford is perfect as Bill McKay – he has the enthusiasm and energy that his campaign plays on, in comparison to the older and stuffier Jarmon (Don Porter).  However, you see the character becoming weary of the machinations of such a campaign, losing his keen-ness and perhaps forgetting what he wanted to run for in the first place.  All of this is perfectly portrayed by Redford.  Also excellent is Peter Boyle as campaign manager Lucas – he doesn’t over play his role, but portrays the tightrope that someone in his position has to walk – between wanting to stay true to the candidate’s values, and wanting to do whatever is necessary to win.

Great support is provided by Melvyn Douglas, as the candidate’s father, and Don Porter as Jarmon.

If you are a fan of political films, or have an interest in politics, then I would highly recommend this film.

Year of release: 1972

Director: Michael Ritchie

Producers: Robert Redford, Nelson Rising, Walter Coblenz

Writer: Jeremy Larner

Main cast: Robert Redford, Peter Boyle, Melvyn Douglas, Don Porter, Karen Carlson

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Tom Logan (Robert Redford) is a successful prosecuting attorney, who is about to promoted to DA.  However, antagonistic defence lawyer Laura Kelly (Debra Winger) asks him to help her on a case involving Chelsea Deardon (Darryl Hannah), a young woman who has been accused of stealing a valuable piece of art.  As Tom and Laura delve further into the case, they discover that it involves fraud and murder….and Tom’s chances of making DA are looking slimmer and slimmer…

When this film was released, it opened to mixed reviews.  Neither Redford nor Winger were happy with it, and at times it does seem as though it doesn’t know whether it’s a frothy romantic comedy, or a semi-serious legal thriller.  There are also some fairly obvious plot inconsistencies.

Despite this, I really enjoyed the film…it has a definite charm, and certainly made me laugh.  Whether it’s true that Redford and Winger did not get on off-screen or not (as has been rumoured), they do have chemistry together, and bounced off each other well.  There were some lovely scenes – the scene where both Tom and Laura, both in their own homes, are unable to sleep, was one of my favourite parts.  Most of the supporting cast – including Terence Stamp as a shady art dealer, and Brian Dennehy as a police officer with his own agenda – were great too, although Darryl Hannah was practically catatonic.  I imagine she was picked for the role at least partly for her looks, and in other films she has been great, but she was the definite weak link in the cast for this.

Still, as mentioned earlier, despite all the obvious flaws of this film, I liked it a lot.  It’s a good watch if you want something amusing and not too demanding, and I would definitely see it again.  I can imagine that people might find it annoying, for legitimate reasons, but for some reason, it worked for me.

(Interestingly, this film started out as a documentary about the legal wrangling over the estate of artist Mark Rothko.  Somewhere along the line, it took a very different turn!)

Year of release: 1986

Director: Ivan Reitman

Producers: Ivan Reitman, Michael C. Gross, Joe Medjuck, Arne Glimcher, Sheldon Kahn

Writers: Ivan Reitman, Jim Cash, Jack Epps Jr

Main cast: Robert Redford, Debra Winger, Darryl Hannah, Terence Stamp, Brian Dennehy

 

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Roy Hobbs is a baseball player who comes almost out of nowhere in the 1930s, to join the New York Knights, who are going through a losing streak.  Nobody has ever heard of Hobbs, who has never played professionally, but his talent for the game is undeniable, despite him being nearer retirement age for the sport, than a youthful rookie.  As the film shows, his career was halted for a while by an unforeseen tragedy, but that doesn’t stop his determination to be the best baseball player in history.

This is a beautifully shot, wonderfully acted film, with an air of magic about it.  Robert Redford, at nearly 50 years of age, may have been slightly too old to play Hobbs, but it doesn’t matter at all – partly because he looks so youthful, and partly because he embodies the role so completely.  Glenn Close is Iris, the sweet woman from his past, and Kim Basinger is Memo, the avaricious girl who dates him after he becomes famous.

This is certainly a baseball movie, but you do not have to be a fan of the sport to appreciate and enjoy the film (although personally speaking, Baseball is about the only sport which I can enjoy watching).  In fact, the sport scenes are very enjoyable, and I could feel the excitement and tension of the players and the crowd.

I loved Redford as the gruff but brutally honest Hobbs, and Close as the young lady he almost left behind.  Basinger was great in an extremely unsympathetic role, and Wilford Brimley and Richard Farnsworth gave excellent support as Pop Fisher and Red Blow, the manager and co-owner of the NY Knights, and his assistant.  The always superb Robert Duvall also makes the most of his role as Max Mercy, an unscrupulous sports journalist.

Not just a sports movie, but an allegory for life, this film was unexpectedly delightful and moving.  As a Redford fan, I was bound to enjoy it, but it exceeded my expectations, and I would certainly recommend it.

Year of release: 1984

Director: Barry Levinson

Producers: Philip M. Breen, Roger Towne, Mark Johnson, Robert F. Colesberry

Writers: Bernard Malamud (novel), Roger Towne, Phil Dusenberry

Main cast: Robert Redford, Robert Duvall, Glenn Close, Kim Basinger, Wilford Brimley, Richard Farnsworth

 

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This film is based on the life of Karen Blixen (played here by Meryl Street), a Danish woman who, in the early 20th century, entered into a marriage of convenience and moved to Africa to run a coffee plantation with her husband (Klaus Maria Brandauer).  When he abandons her, she starts a romance with free-spirited game hunter Denys Finch-Hatton (Robert Redford).

I first saw this film at the cinema when I was a young teenager, and to be honest, I found it boring; most of the story lines went over my head.  Watching it again now as an adult however, I thought this film was rather beautiful, and very rewarding.  It is so much more than just a romance, although the romantic aspect is beautifully played out.  Without the help of her husband, Karen has to learn to survive on her own wits and intelligence, in a time when it was not easy to be a single woman.  She becomes independent and stronger than she probably ever could have imagined possible.  Redford – who looks as beautiful as ever! – is wonderful as Finch-Hatton (although his character was likely somewhat sanitised for cinema audiences), and the relationship between these two headstrong characters was very believable.

It is a long film – the best part of three hours, and in some parts very slow moving.  It is very much a character driven story, rather than a plot driven story, but it is well worth the investment.  Shot partly  on location in Kenya, the scenery is simply stunning, and made me want to visit the area.

When you have actors like Streep and Redford on board, you know that you are going to get good performances, and they don’t disappoint.  However, I did find Streep’s Danish accent somewhat irritating at first, but got used to it.

It took me a long time to come back to this film, but I am very glad that I did so, and would certainly recommend it to anyone who likes a moving, thought-provoking film.

Year of release: 1985

Director: Sydney Pollack

Producers: Kim Jorgensen, Sydney Pollack, Anna Cataldi, Judith Thurman, Terence Clegg

Writers: Karen Blixen (book ‘Out of Africa’ and other writings), Judith Thurman (book ‘Isak Dinesen: The Life of a Story Teller’), Errol Trzebinski (book ‘Silence Will Speak’), Kurt Luedtke

Main cast: Meryl Streep, Robert Redford, Klaus Maria Brandauer, Michael Kitchen, Malick Bowens, Mike Bugara

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In 1973, Robert Redford was one of the stars of the fabulous heist movie, The Sting.  The Hot Rock (aka How To Steal a Diamond in Four Uneasy Lessons) pre-dated The Sting by a year, and dare I say it, I found it equally entertaining.  Yet The Hot Rock has never gained the fame and popularity of The Sting.  That’s a shame, because there is a lot here to enjoy.

Robert Redford (who is so beautiful in this film that it almost hurts to look at him!) is Dortmunder, a perpetual thief who, together with his brother-in-law Kelp (George Segal) and two other small time crooks, Murch and Greenberg (Ron Leibman and Paul Sand respectively) is tasked with stealing a diamond from a museum.  What they don’t realise is that stealing the diamond is only the start of their troubles.

I had never heard of this film before watching it, but I saw that it was on television and that it starred Robert Redford, and decided to give it a go.  I discovered a hidden gem (no irony intended, given the storyline of the film).  The story is very funny, with plenty of action and some great throwaway one liners.  It’s really Redford’s film – he definitely plays the biggest part, but Segal is excellent support, and both Leibman and Sand are great as well.

There are plenty of twists and turns, but things never get too serious for the viewer, and I found that when I had finished watching the film, I had a huge smile on my face.  Perfect light entertainment, which deserves to be better known.  I would highly recommend this film.

Year of release: 1972

Director: Peter Yates

Producers: Hal Landers, Bobby Roberts

Main cast: Robert Redford, George Segal, Ron Leibman, Paul Sand, Moses Gunn, Zero Mostel

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This film is rightly regarded as a classic in the comedy/crime genre. It stars Paul Newman and Robert Redford in their second pairing (the first being Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid), as grifters Henry Gondorff and Johnny Hooker. When their friend Luther (Robert Earl Jones) is murdered, they seek revenge upon the man responsible by setting up a plan to con him out of a huge amount of money…

I really enjoyed the film. It is full of good humour, courtesy of the wise-cracking stars (and ladies, it should be noted that there is ALL KINDS of hotness going on in this picture, with Newman and Redford arguably at their best!). The off-screen friendship of the two stars really comes through on-screen, and is no doubt part of the reason for the huge success of both of the films in which they co-star. As well as lots of laughs, there is also plenty of tension, and as a viewer, you are never sure who exactly you can trust.

Robert Shaw is perfect as Doyle Lonnegan – the object of Gondorff and Hooker’s sting – bringing a great amount of menace to his role, and I also particularly liked Harold Gould’s role as another member of the grifters’ team, named Kid Twist (yes really).

The influence of this film can be seen in more modern films and programmes (‘Hustle’ was certainly influenced by this movie), and I hope that it’s appeal continues to endure for many many more years to come. Overall, a very enjoyable film indeed.

Year of release: 1973

Director: George Roy Hill

Producers: Tony Bill, Robert Crawford Jr., Julia Phillips, Michael Phillips, David Brown, Richard D. Zanuck

Writer: David S. Ward

Main cast: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Robert Shaw

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The screenplay for this 1967 movie was written by Neil Simon, who adapted it from his own play of the same name.  The story revolves around Paul and Corrie Bratter (Robert Redford and Jane Fonda), a newlywed couple, whose different attitudes to life lead to conflict.  While Corrie is very free-spirited and spontaneous, Paul is more conservative and reserved.  After a blissful honeymoon, they move into their new New York apartment – which is on the sixth floor of a shared house (with no elevator), tiny, with no heating, and a hole in the ceiling – and reality starts setting in.  Further complications ensue when Corrie decides to set her mother up with their eccentric neighbour, Mr Velasco.

I thought this was an absolute gem of a movie.  The two stars both look fantastic (Fonda in particular is stunning here), and both play their parts extremely well, and viewers are able to see both points of view in their various arguments.  However, the love that they feel for each other shines through as well, and you can’t help rooting for them to work their problems out.  (And I loved Robert Redford;s portrayal of a drunk Paul!)

There are some great one-liners as well, and the film is witty throughout.  Much of the humour is provided by Mildred Natwick, as Corrie’s mother, who is brilliant in all of her scenes, as well as being a very likeable character.

This is one of those movies that just keeps you smiling throughout – some great comedy, and two very likeable leads make this one definitely worth watching.

Year of release: 1967

Director: Gene Saks

Writer: Neil Simon

Main cast: Robert Redford, Jane Fonda, Mildred Natwick, Charles Boyer

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