5 Film Collection: Romance [5 Discs] [DVD]
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This dynamic and commanding adaptation of Tennessee Williams' Pulitzer Prize-winning play focuses on a troubled Southern family and the discord over their dying father's millions. Wealthy plantation owner Big Daddy Pollitt (Burl Ives), celebrating his 65th birthday, is visited by his sons, Brick (Paul Newman) and Gooper (Jack Carson). He has cancer, but a doctor has deliberately and falsely declared it in remission. Seemingly perfect son Gooper and his wife, Mae (Madeleine Sherwood), have several children and are anxiously expecting to inherit Daddy's millions. By contrast, Big Daddy's "favorite," Brick, is a has-been football star who's taken to drinking his days away since the suicide of his "best friend" a year earlier. He resents his wife, Maggie (Elizabeth Taylor), because he believes that she had an affair with his deceased friend. As a result, he refuses to sleep with her, although she remains devoted to him. Since Brick and Maggie have failed to produce any grandchildren, Big Daddy is inclined to leave his estate to Gooper, but Maggie attempts to prevent that by telling him that she is pregnant. Big Daddy knows better, yet he recognizes that Maggie loves Brick so much that she would be willing to do anything for him. Although Brick is self-destructive and resentful, unable to come to terms with his losses, it takes Big Daddy's recognition of his own mortality to make Brick change his perspective. Brick's struggle with his sexual identity, and the nature of his relationship with his "friend," had to be toned down for mass consumption, although this intelligently written and acted film covers such topics as infertility, adultery, and alcoholism that were still considered taboo in the 1950s. Newman brings depth and feeling to the role as Brick, while Taylor succeeds brilliantly in portraying Maggie as a passionate and understanding woman despite her own real-life emotional turmoil over the death of her husband at the time, producer Mike Todd. ~ Don Kaye, Rovi
You've Got Mail
Sleepless In Seattle director Nora Ephron originally made a name for herself as the writer of romantic comedies such as Heartburn and When Harry Met Sally. She continues the genre with You've Got Mail, marking her second collaboration with actors Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. The story brings romance and courtship into the electronic age of the World Wide Web via e-mail and chat rooms. Joe Fox (Hanks) and Kathleen Kelly (Ryan) live and work blocks from each other on New York City's Upper West Side. Their lives are practically intertwined. They both shop at the same place, frequent the same coffee shop, and even own competing bookstores on the same street. They also both have significant others of their own. Joe has the overly hyper book editor Patricia Eden (Parker Posey), while Kathleen lives with the scholarly newspaper columnist Frank Navasky (Greg Kinnear). Then they meet in a chat room. Though they keep their identities secret (they're known only by screen names "NY152" and "Shopgirl"), they tell each other everything about their lives, including their private feelings, which slowly turn into affection for each other. When Joe decides to open a new branch of his "Foxbooks" chain that risks putting Kathleen's "Shop Around the Corner" out of business, the tension between them escalates. Surely her boutique business will be lost to the conglomerate with a built-in newsstand and coffee bar. When Joe sees Kathleen waiting for him in the restaurant where they agreed to meet up, he puts two and two together, but cannot face her, given their agreement not to reveal each others' names and professions. How can he reveal himself to her now, knowing that he is the cause of her misery? Hopefully, love will conquer all. ~ Chris Gore, Rovi
The Philadelphia Story
We open on Philadelphia socialite C.K. Dexter Haven (Cary Grant) as he's being tossed out of his palatial home by his wife, Tracy Lord (Katharine Hepburn). Adding insult to injury, Tracy breaks one of C.K.'s precious golf clubs. He gallantly responds by knocking her down on her million-dollar keester. A couple of years after the breakup, Tracy is about to marry George Kittridge (John Howard), a wealthy stuffed shirt whose principal recommendation is that he's not a Philadelphia "mainliner," as C.K. was. Still holding a torch for Tracy, C.K. is galvanized into action when he learns that Sidney Kidd (Henry Daniell), the publisher of Spy Magazine, plans to publish an exposé concerning Tracy's philandering father (John Halliday). To keep Kidd from spilling the beans, C.K. agrees to smuggle Spy reporter Macauley Connor (James Stewart) and photographer Elizabeth Imbrie (Ruth Hussey) into the exclusive Lord-Kittridge wedding ceremony. How could C.K. have foreseen that Connor would fall in love with Tracy, thereby nearly lousing up the nuptials? As it turns out, of course, it is C.K. himself who pulls the "louse-up," reclaiming Tracy as his bride. A consistently bright, bubbly, witty delight, The Philadelphia Story could just as well have been titled "The Revenge of Katharine Hepburn." Having been written off as "box-office poison" in 1938, Hepburn returned to Broadway in a vehicle tailor-made for her talents by playwright Philip Barry. That property, of course, was The Philadelphia Story; and when MGM bought the rights to this sure-fire box-office success, it had to take Hepburn along with the package -- and also her veto as to who her producer, director, and co-stars would be. Her strategy paid off: after the film's release, Hepburn was back on top of the Hollywood heap. While she didn't win the Oscar that many thought she richly deserved, the little gold statuette was bestowed upon her co-star Stewart, perhaps as compensation for his non-win for 1939's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Donald Ogden Stewart (no relation to Jimmy) also copped an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. The Philadelphia Story was remade in 1956 with a Cole Porter musical score as High Society. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Nights in Rodanthe
Adapted from author Nicholas Sparks' popular romance novel, director George C. Wolfe's Nights in Rodanthe tells the tale of a doctor (Richard Gere) en route to reconcile with his estranged son when his benevolent mission is sidelined upon checking into a North Carolina beach-town inn. When the doctor arrives at the inn, he enters into a passionate affair with an unhappily married woman (Diane Lane) who is currently considering divorce. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi
Splendor in the Grass
1961's premiere "date" movie represented the screen debut of Warren Beatty. Set in the 1920s, William Inge's screenplay concerns the superheated romance between working-class high schooler Natalie Wood and rich kid Beatty. Trying their best to keep their relationship from going "all the way," Beatty and Wood go through a series of unsatisfying interim romances. The troubled Wood attempts suicide and is sent to a mental institution, while Beatty impregnates freewheeling waitress Zohra Lampert. Wood and Beatty still carry a torch for one another, but circumstances preclude their getting together -- and besides, Wood suddenly realizes that she's outgrown the still-floundering Beatty. Scriptwriter William Inge shows up as a minister in Splendor in the Grass, while comedienne Phyllis Diller does a cameo as famed nightclub entertainer Texas Guinan; also, keep an eye out for Sandy Dennis, making her first movie appearance. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Cast & Crew
- Paul Newman - Brick Pollitt
- Elizabeth Taylor - Maggie Pollitt
- Burl Ives - Big Daddy Pollitt
- Jack Carson - Gooper Pollitt
- Judith Anderson - Big Mama Pollitt