Biography

The Great Caruso (1951) Richard Thorpe, Mario Lanza, Ann Blyth, Dorothy Kirsten, Biography, Drama, Music

The Great Caruso (1951)
Loosely traces the life of tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921). He loves Musetta, in his home town of Naples, and then Dorothy, the daughter of one of the Metropolitan Opera’s patrons. Caruso is unacceptable to both women’s fathers: to one, because he sings; to Dorothy’s, because he is a peasant. To New York patricians, Caruso is short, barrel chested, loud, emotional, unrefined. Their appreciation comes slowly. The film depicts Caruso’s lament that “the man does not have the voice, the voice has the man”: he cannot be places he wants to be, because he must be elsewhere singing, including the day his mother dies. Throughout, Mario Lanza and stars from the Met sing.

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Jo no mai / Appassionata (1984) Sadao Nakajima, Mariko Okada, Yûko Natori, Morio Kazama, Kei Satô, Biography, Drama

Appassionata (1984)
This story is based on the novel “Jo No Mai” by Tomiko Miyao which is based on the life of painter Sh?en Uemura (1875–1949), the first woman to be awarded the Order of Culture. The title refers to the masterpiece bijinga (“picture of a beautiful woman”) that Uemura painted at the age of 61. The main character, Tsuya Shimamura, is born in Kyoto as the second daughter of a tea trader who dies before her birth. Tsuya, who loves painting more than anything and is hopeless at housework, attends art school and at age 15 receives the name Sh?sui (from the characters for “pine” and “green”) from her teacher. The crown prince of England purchases one of her works, propelling her to fame overnight. The novel portrays the remainder of her stormy life, during which she is impregnated by her teacher and raises a fatherless child; through it all she devotes herself to her painting, undaunted.

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Machine Gun Kelly (1958) Roger Corman, Charles Bronson, Susan Cabot, Morey Amsterdam, Action, Biography, Crime

Machine Gun Kelly (1958)
The film starts by showing a bank robbery orchestrated by Kelly and other partners, including his love interest. It then examines Kelly’s personality and events that lead to discord among his group. A botched bank robbery causes one of his partners, Michael Fandango, portrayed by typical jokester Morey Amsterdam, to lose an arm. Kelly, perhaps goaded on by his girlfriend, kidnaps the daughter of a wealthy businessman for ransom, which leads to the climax of the film.

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Pride of the Marines (1945) Delmer Daves, John Garfield, Eleanor Parker, Dane Clark, Biography, Drama, Romance, War

Pride of the Marines (1945)
Married couple Jim & Ella Merchant set up their single friend Al Schmid on a blind date with Ruth Hartley. The two hit it off and begin dating. A welder, one day at the workplace, Al learns of a friend’s enlistment in the Marine Corps and decides to join himself. Al and Ruth have a last date, with Al insisting that she forget about him as he is about to go into combat. However, when Ruth goes to meet his departure train, he is overjoyed and gives her an engagement ring. Assigned to Guadalcanal, Al and his squad are tasked with preventing the Japanese from breaching their line. During a night attack, many of his fellow Marines are slain, but Al ends up single-handedly saving the day, killing scores of Japanese. However, he is wounded by a suicide bomber near the end of the the battle. At the hospital, Al learns that he is blind, a condition that persists even after surgery. Feeling sorry for himself, he dictates a letter to a nurse, informing Ruth that he is relieving her of any …

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Nijinsky (1980) Herbert Ross, Alan Bates, George De La Pena, Leslie Browne, Biography, Drama, Music

Nijinsky (1980)
Set in the early 1910s at a time of passionate artistic experimentalism, and based on biographical fact, this is the story of Vaslav Nijinsky, the young and brilliant but headstrong premier danseur and aspiring choreographer of the Ballets Russes. The company is managed by the famous Sergei Diaghilev, himself a controlling and fiercely possessive impresario. The increasing tension between these powerful egos, exacerbated by homosexual desire and jealousy, becomes triangular when the young ballerina Romola de Pulsky determinedly attempts to draw the increasingly mentally unstable Nijinsky away from Diaghilev…

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Muhammad ALI – Through the Eyes of the World (2001) Phil Grabsky, Billy Crystal, Richard Harris, James Earl Jones, Documentary, Biography

Muhammad ALI - Through the Eyes of the World (2001)
Muhammad Ali’s grace, charisma, and remarkable bravado shine through in this affectionate look at his life and career. Muhammad Ali († 03 Jun 2016): Through the Eyes of the World takes a fairly straightforward documentary approach, chronicling Ali’s life and career through film footage and interviews with journalists, loved ones, and a few bizarre commentators, like Scottish comedian Billy Connolly. The film does an excellent job of conveying both Ali’s genuine importance as a historical figure and his incredible personal magnetism. Though the documentary doesn’t shy away from his faults, Ali is simply impossible to dislike. Most importantly, the film’s commentary and carefully selected fight footage make it clear even to those who don’t follow the sport what a remarkable boxer Ali was. At one point, Lennox Lewis refers to the “sweet science” of not getting hit, and watching Ali dodge a barrage of punches, we understand exactly what he means. Muhammad Ali: Through the Eyes of the World doesn’t pack quite the dramatic wallop of When We Were Kings, but it is a compelling look at one of history’s greatest athletes.

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Birdman of Alcatraz (1962) John Frankenheimer, Charles Crichton, Burt Lancaster, Karl Malden, Thelma Ritter, Biography, Drama

Birdman of Alcatraz (1962)
As an inmate at Leavenworth prison, Robert Stroud has a series of confrontations with the guards and with the other convicts. When Stroud kills a guard, he is sentenced to be executed, and only his mother’s impassioned intervention gets his sentence commuted to life imprisonment, which he must serve in solitary confinement. As he serves out his sentence in boredom and despair, one day he finds a helpless baby sparrow in the exercise yard. Stroud soon takes a deep interest in caring for birds, which gives him a new purpose in life, but which also brings new conflicts with prison authorities.

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Lisztomania (1975) Ken Russell, Roger Daltrey, Sara Kestelman, Paul Nicholas, Biography, Comedy, Music

Lisztomania (1975)
This audacious, vulgar, freewheeling fantasia on the life of pianist Franz Liszt ranks among director Ken Russell’s most outrageous efforts. Roger Daltrey, lead singer for The Who, is awkward yet likeable as the flamboyant piano performer with a bevy of fetching mistresses and groupies, while Paul Nicholas is completely outlandish as the scheming opera composer Richard Wagner. There’s no nod to reality here: Liszt and Wagner were in fact friends, and Liszt, who became Wagner’s father-in-law, actually assisted in the production of Wagner’s opulent productions. Russell, on the other hand, presents Wagner as Liszt’s jealous rival ready to wreak havoc on the world by unleashing a cryogenic Viking (Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman) and a horde of machine-gun wielding robot Nazis. In a finale out of Flash Gordon serials, Liszt saves the day after surviving a guillotine designed for phallic dismemberment. The film is fast and loud and wildly undisciplined, much like one of Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsodies. Look fast and you’ll see Ringo Starr as the pope.

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King of Kings (1961) Nicholas Ray, Jeffrey Hunter, Siobhan McKenna, Hurd Hatfield, Biography, Drama, History

King of Kings (1961)
The story of the life of Jesus Christ from his birth in Bethlehem to his crucifixion and subsequent resurrection. Filmed on a relatively grand scale, the film includes all of the major events referred to in the New Testament; his baptism by John the Baptist; the miracles – cripples walking, blind men seeing; the fishes and the loaves; and so on. The film actually begins with the Roman invasion by Pompey in 65 B.C., the appointment of King Herod the Great by the Romans and finally the crowning of Herod Antipas after he murders his father. The revolt led by Barrabas is also included and John the Baptist’s beheading as Salome’s price for dancing for Herod.

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