Babette’s Feast (1987)

I love fairy tales where we know conspicuously that we are being told a story. They can be delivered by Peter Falk in The Princess Bride, Edward Everett Horton in Fractured Fair Tales, or in this case, Ghita Norby.

Let it be said that there’s something inherently peaceful about the rhythms of Babette’s Feast. We meet two sisters devoted to simple acts of charity and good works generally living a simple life of tranquility.

Years prior they grew up on the right and left hand of their father, who was a local preacher, beloved by all in their little community of thatched roofs and decent folk. They are a world away from French courtesans and the social elite of the age. In this regard, the movie’s set design runs the gamut from a puritan-like asceticism to ornate interiors worthy of 19-century royalty. One of these outsiders is a young soldier (Gudmar Wivesson).

Riding upon his steed, he’s taken by one of the daughters, Martine, so angelic with golden hair and scintillating eyes. He’s never seen someone so glorious. And so he joins their little commune, all gathered around the table. Yet he is not made for their life and so he takes his leave to return to the world he knows — a world less harsh and cruel to the senses. His friends tease him for being defeated by some long-faced sectarians, but if it is a defeat, then it is one that stays with him.

He is not the only one. The Jutlands conquers others too… Next arrives an exuberant barrel-chested French baritone. He’s revered and fawned over by all the literati (including Bibi Andersson), but it is in this little town where he finds someone who makes his heart sing. It’s the minister’s other daughter Filippa.

The jovial Achille Papin (Jean-Philippe Lafont) requests the honor to help train up the young lady and refine her vocal talents. It’s hardly a pretense as his tutelage is inspired and brimming with impassioned vigor. It’s contagious. But he too fades away. The devoted daughter recognizes her father would never approve of anything further.

And so years passed, their father died, and the two women, still unmarried, shepherd and care for their local parish. We can make allowances — time progresses and is condensed so easily because, again, we are working within the parameters of a kind of parable or fairy tale.

Intuitively it becomes a kind of rumination on aging and what that means — not just for to pious spinsters — but also how our joys and the manner in which we conduct our days become affected. Are they injected with renewed vigor or the kind of enervating melancholy that builds up almost imperceptibly so we just come to accept eour plight with passivity?

The population of their community is aging as well, and with it comes a schism of bickering and discord within the ranks of the disciples. The sisters look on with wide-eyed bewilderment. Surely this is not what they worked so hard to cultivate in their father’s absence.

However, the sisters also gained a housekeeper in the form of Babette, a French woman seeking asylum and recommended at the behest of an old friend. Stephane Audran is starkly different than my memories of her in Claude Chabrol’s work or the representation of vacuity of the Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie. Here she is a saint gifted with a hand for cooking and a generous heart. She can be a blessing to these people.

It takes some time to recognize what the film is doing — what magic spell it’s casting. The sisters have a meager vision of cobbling together a modest supper to commemorate the 100th anniversary of their little congregation’s founder, but Babette requests to throw a banquet. She’s set on the idea so the sisters acquiesce.

The whole town is agog when her procession of goods comes imported from France: qual, turtle, and wine of all things! They are wary of being exposed to potentially dangerous forces in the form of such decadent food and drink, and so they form a pact with their small clan to not speak a word about these provisions.

It also strikes one as a tactic to avoid any unwanted gossip because suddenly it becomes another arena for “good Christian virtue” to play out. They are too blind to see an alabaster jar of perfume being poured out on the feet of a guest. In other words, they are out of step with the moment.  It’s not hard to detect Biblical underpinnings.

Babette’s Feast is somehow a movie drenched in the rhetoric and messages of Ecclesiastes. A graying soldier (Jarl Kulle), who we know must be vaguely familiar, looks into a mirror solemnly and says, “Vanity, vanity, all is vanity.” It puts words to a life spent striving after things all for naught.

It’s also easy to conjure up the words “Eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die!” The parishioners don’t live in this manner, and yet if this picture’s ending is any indication maybe a certain amount of uninhibited joy is a balm and not simply a cursed reminder of how transient and finite our lives are. Could it be, if we flip the paradigm, that a feast is not simply a coping tactic, a way to muddle through this life, but it’s actually a sign or a foretaste of something better?

This act of radical extravagance at the hands of Babette is not to be taken only in a literal sense. It’s not a moral prerogative about how to spend one’s funds, but this parable points to something else of vital importance. Because the table setting is so foreign to these folks — it’s so ornate — the food equally rich and extravagant.

Is it a waste — such rich food lavished on people who don’t appreciate it? These are my immediate reactions. I’m no foodie, but this is not the point. For Babbette, it is an act of love, and to have even one person — the general — appreciate her toilings is reward enough.

The look of incredulousness and utter admiration for each new course and subsequent drink is something to relish. His face lights up like it hasn’t for a long, long time. Can I state the obvious and say it is a joy to watch these people eat — living vicariously through the experience set before them? And something contagious comes over all of us (audience included). The meal seems to have powers beyond mere food and drink.

Of course, this isn’t the end. It has greater import than she could ever imagine. The memories come flooding out as the gathering becomes a kind of conduit for community. Nothing overtly supernatural occurs, and yet it feels like no less of a miracle all thanks to Babette. The sisters realize it too and marvel at her talents with gratitude. Filippa joyously affirms her, “This is not the end Babette. In paradise, you will be the great artist God meant you to be.”

Her words can’t help but remind me of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Leaf by Niggle.” Tolkien was of course well-versed in the creation and appreciation of fairy stories, but in this particular short story, he highlights a middling man who spends his whole life painting a leaf. His name just about sums up his existence. He’s never satisfied, never can quite see the whole picture, and never accomplishes enough to finish what he started.

And then he dies…It sounds like a paltry existence, and yet when he gets to the other side, he sees the full glory and the magnificence of the tree his leaf was a part of. Suddenly his preceding life gained more meaning, not less.

If we are to believe Babette’s Feast, Tolkien, and fairy tales, then this is not the end. There is a happy ending still to come. Herein lies one of the lasting potencies of this brand of stories. They tap into our deepest longings in youth and even as we grow older, I would be remiss to say that we didn’t still want them to become true. Let’s hope we’ll get to feast on the plenteous bounty of the likes of Babette someday soon. My mouth waters just thinking about it.

5/5 Stars

The Mouse That Roared (1959)

There’s something illuminating about getting a movie from our neighbors across the pond that offers a winking look at American society. The movie takes its title quite literally, scaring off the Columbia lady with a critter who subsequently carries away the animated title sequence. Because the U.S. might be the prototypical lion, but Grand Fenwick is the mouse that roared.

The minuscule duchy of Fenwick — a measly nation if there ever was one — remains stagnated in the medieval ages, economically and otherwise. Their major exports are wine, particularly popular on the West coast, though competition in the form of copycat businesses proves steep competition.

Teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, the Fenwick leaders resolve to declare war on America. It’s really all part of their contingency plan expecting that their quick and inevitable defeat will lead to American rehabilitation and, thus, newfound prosperity for their little principality. They no doubt are well aware of the Marshall Plan and the U.S.’s undying interest in any floundering nation, they can look to capitalize on. Better us swoop in than have the Soviets socialize them, right?

Regardless, all this poppycock and tomfoolery is made even more palatable thanks to the talents of Peter Sellers. He hasn’t reached Clousseau status nor the apex of his stardom in the 1960s, but he would be an international icon soon enough. For now, we get to sit back and witness him in dialogue with himself. First as the Machiavellian prime minister Mountjoy, then the Queen Victoria knockoff, Duchess Gloriana, and finally, the ultimate Sellers hero, Tully Bascomb.

Because it is this meek and unassuming game warden, who is called upon to lead the charge across the sea onto enemy territory. Armed with their bows & arrows, chainmail, and Fenwickian pluck, their force, 20 men strong, sets off. I mention Bascomb as the prototypical Sellers hero because he’s such a small character, and yet since he is lacking in much, it works impeccably well with the utter outrageousness of the comedy blowing up around him.

Before Monty Python and even before Dr. Strangelove, there was The Mouse That Roared, and not simply due to the trio of roles carried by Sellers. Like its future scion, it takes no umbrage about trampling over Medieval iconography in all its antiquity and finding wells of humor therein. It’s also an atomic bomb-conscious comedy. Surely, you could say almost all comedies of the 50s and 60s were informed by this reality — this pervasive fear — but Mouse takes these themes to heart.

For what generally feels like a humble picture, the moving parts are rather extraordinary. Beyond Sellers, we have director Jack Arnold remembered mostly for his Sci-Fi and monster movies of the 1950s. The marriage sounds less outrageous than it is (or maybe it’s just outrageous enough) because this is meant to be a farce. There are no creatures from the black lagoon or incredible shrinking men, but there is some extraterrestrial hysteria.

It plays with all the alarmist tendencies of the age when the Fenwick contingent prey on a passing truck and punctures its tires, leaving the victims thinking the nation’s being invaded by men from outer space. This streak of nuclear age anxiety with a distinct message is more than enough to wedge it into the rest of Arnold’s canon.

But we have yet to mention Jean Seberg. She’s no doubt at her most childish — she’s only 20 or 21 years old, after all — playing the peeved daughter of a famed scientist. It hardly accentuates her talents nor her playful mystique like Breathless or even Monsieur Tristesse, but it is something different. Because it’s her father’s Q Bomb, which could eat an H Bomb for breakfast, that is currently being tested and is accidentally discovered by the Fenwickians.

In a serendipitous act of lunacy, they instantly become the aggressors ready to take advantage of the situation and bring America to its knees by kidnapping some of its most fundamental assets. It’s the kind of goofy, lightweight stuff taking the edge off. Although there’s an agenda, no matter what implications it might have in the nuclear age, The Mouse That Roared is the perfectly tame goofball comedy we expect to see when we visit sitcoms of the 50s and 60s.

The fish out of water commentary about America dries up when the prisoners are carted back across the pond. Tully and his men make a triumphant return only to be met with some chagrin from the hoodwinked cabinet. They’ve mucked things up. Not only have they not surrendered, they’ve gone and taken hostages and ran off with the most dangerous superweapon in the world!

By this stage, the heart of the comedy has mostly dried up too, though there are a few passing gags relating to the hot potato bomb that wheezes and sizzles to the touch just waiting to annihilate mankind. Likewise, Tully finds himself smitten with feisty young Helen in a love affair that could be telegraphed from miles away. Ultimately, it plays the best when its intentions are made clear with the goofball inanity of it all before didacticism and treacly romance are allowed to give their final stamp of approval on the story. For what it’s worth, I’m one Yank who enjoys being invaded in such a manner as this.

3.5/5 Stars

Bonjour Tristesse (1958)

Otto Preminger famously combed through headshots and plucked Jean Seberg out of her Iowa hometown to be groomed as his latest star. St. Joan was far from a stunning ascension for the young starlet, but her follow-up with Preminger, Bonjour Tristesse, showcases her incandescence.

Adapted from Francoise Sagan’s novel about youth set on the French Riviera, I cannot think of a better environ to augment Seberg’s talents. Her Cecile is a carefree spirit and rather noncommital when it comes to anything like marriage, but Seberg imbues her with a poise well beyond her years.

The fact that the picture is positively cascading with ritzy, sun-soaked opulence more than suits a jaunty David Niven and the pixie-haired Seberg — they’re a father and daughter duo — who know no other existence than utter extravagance. Preminger more than matches his stars with gorgeous tones drifting from black and white to vibrant color.

They feel all but compelled to recline on the veranda to soak up the sunbeams with a cool beverage or take a refreshing dip in the water. Who can blame them?  The audience is allowed to live vicariously through all their pleasures, and it makes the interim portions of Bonjour Tristesse both light and luscious in content.

If you haven’t gotten the idea already, Preminger’s picture conjures up ample comparisons to Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief or Demy’s Bay of Angels sharing much of the same world. What happens exactly? That is and it isn’t easy to say because it’s the mood and the time spent with the characters in their environs that’s both scintillating and charming. Some characters almost evaporate between the beaches, casinos, and champagne bubbles. The most important ones give the film buoyancy and a dash of substance sprinkled in.

However, to hone on any sort of plot, it begins rather simply as a comedy of the situation with father and daughter pulling off shenanigans together. They have such a cultured camaraderie, that it’s second nature to refer to each other by their first names. Romantic dalliances are also expected, between Elsa (Mylène Demongeot) the pretty young thing Raymond traipses around with and Cecile’s latest fling, a strapping young man named Phillippe (Geoffrey Horne). He’s one out of a laundry list of past suitors. They’re contented enough with their free-flowing lifestyle.

Then, follows the auspicious day when Anne (Deborah Kerr) arrives. She’s been invited for the summer holiday as a friend of Raymond’s late wife. She’s not of their ilk with a sense of propriety that they’ve never taken much time to worry about or even consider. One can only imagine what she will think of the laissez-faire romantic lifestyles of Cecile and Raymond. The tensions in the fresh sea air from the outset.

However, we must take pause because there is also a sense of deja vu in the atmosphere. Surely Niven and Kerr have played these characters before in other movies — their dashing playboy and refined prude — this time falling in love with each other. Even Seberg with her iconic pixie cut looks utterly familiar if only due to the ubiquitous iconography of Breathless a few years later.

Whether totally conscious or not, it does feel like Bonjour Tristesse is totally in dialogue with the onscreen personas of its three stars. This feels very much like a component of Old Hollywood where stars were built around their types and somehow instead of disappearing into roles, they brought their own individual sense of authenticity and emotional truth to whatever part they played. For the best ones, it’s like each subsequent role was built on the foundation of their previous work.

Jean-Luc Godard even acknowledged, “The character played by Jean Seberg [in Breathless] was a continuation of her role in Bonjour Tristesse, I could have taken the last shot of Preminger’s film and started after dissolving to a title: “Three years later.”

In the latter half of the film, it’s the character’s youth that becomes strikingly apparent as she grows jealous of their new houseguest who has tamed her father and taken away some of her long-held freedoms in an attempt to make her a more traditional young lady.

And yet the happy-go-lucky gaiety remains up until the very brink of devastation. Otherwise, we watch with rapt interest as she goes darting after her lady oppressor like the epitome of her gamine self ready to watch her fall into the emotional trap orchestrated by her girlish ploys. Suddenly all the merriment isn’t so merry after all and it’s terrifying in its incisive cruelty. We are reminded of the selfish vindictiveness of youth. C’est la vie.

For garnering such a tepid response in its heyday, Bonjour Tristesse represents much of the allure of Old Hollywood though it rarely gets the plaudits of some of its brethren. Somehow, between Preminger and Seberg, Niven and Kerr, and sweeping Cinemascope, it’s easy for the picture to get lost in the shuffle because the four of them have innumerable other productions of note.

This one deserves at least a second chance for its mise en scene alone. Preminger actually does something with it to the point that the final moments of the movie mean something. It’s not the same film we thought we were signing up for.

It’s gorgeous, vain, at times, even superficial, but we would be remiss not to pick up on the inherent melancholy played in sharp contrast to the vibrant palette. Suddenly, it makes complete sense why their present is in black and white and only the past can remain in color.

4/5 Stars

A Patch of Blue (1965)

I hope my analogy does not get misconstrued, but A Patch of Blue plays like a sublime fairy tale. It’s set in New York, a city that often feels as much of a visual fabrication made out of magic and myth as it is a real place anchored in time and space. Here is the very same world that exists in the Breakfast at Tiffany’s or other such pictures.

Shelley Winters is at her nastiest and most acerbic as a street tramp Rose-Ann. An evil “stepmother” if you will, because she and her daughter are on a first-name basis. Aside from that, you’d hardly realize they’re kith and kin. Because you see our cinematic cinderella, Selina D’Arcey (Elizabeth Hartman), is blind thanks to a violent altercation in her childhood and is now resigned to spending most of their time locked up in the shabby apartment.

Wallace Ford, bless his soul, is Ole Pal and though his heart might be in the right place, he’s not much used to the world because he spends most of his waking days home from work griping at the insufferable Rose-Ann or going out on the town to get royally plastered. 

When Selina’s not slaving away at chores, she’s stringing beads together for mere pennies. Otherwise, she’s considered useless. She’s blind after all. It’s hardly a life at all. At least, that’s what the world around her seems to suggest and any minor pleasure like an afternoon in the park feels more precious to her than gold. 

It’s in this said park where she first meets Gordon Ralfe (Sidney Poitier). If we wished to describe him, you could highlight any number of salient characteristics. He’s tall, handsome, and intelligent. He works the night shift and he has a brother (Ivan Dixon) who’s training to be a doctor. He’s also black…

But Selina cannot recognize or know any of this during their first encounter. Instead, she learns about him through his actions and words. Rather than being an impediment to their connection, somehow it provides the most sincere indications of human affection. She finds him to be kind and patient in a manner she has rarely experienced.

In this first encounter, she’s dumped her precious beads all over. She can’t possibly gather them together again and so we have an effortless meet-cute. For all we know, Gordon appears at her tree, but whatever the means — fate or happenstance — the film is never the same again. The metaphor of this movie is evident even for those who’ve never seen it. The cliche that “love is blind” is made quite literal because, for young Selina, that’s what happens. She falls in love for the first time. 

Guy Green does not employ altogether flashy filmmaking notwithstanding some fitting match cuts, but this leaves ample space for his narrative focal points. There’s something undeniable blooming between Hartman and Poitier making this movie a tender slice of romance brimming with sincerity. 

Poitier empowers her in a way no one has bothered to before, and it’s an awakening of the world around her even as her sense remain attuned to everything. Though Poitier isn’t necessarily stretched beyond his limits — he’s perfectly at ease being a benevolent guide — his customary affability and charm feel infallible at this point. 

True to form, he comes back in subsequent days to check in on Selina, providing her sunglasses to cover the scars on her face. Another day he offers her a can of pineapple juice, which she takes with relish. He broadens her horizons further by traveling together on the crosswalk for pastrami at the local delicatessen and then to pick up his groceries.

To us, these seem like mundane tasks, and yet for Selina, these are such generous acts because someone has taken the time for her. And though she is mostly unawares, there is a sense that in 1965, just there being together, existing in the world, and taking part in life together, is a meaningful act of solidarity if not total rebellion against prejudicial behavior. At its most fundamental level, it courts these ongoing themes of friendship and tolerance.

 Most importantly, it is Gordon who rescues her from the pit of despair and the vengeful jowls of Rose-Ann once and for all. Remember, it is a fairy tale — Poitier acts as the fairy godmother whose job never has enough contours for us to really know what he does; he appears when he is needed most. His performance is matched by the agreeable whimsy of Jerry Goldsmith’s score dancing softly in the background. It can end no other way even as this adolescent girl’s life still hangs in the air partially unresolved. 

Although the words have been echoed many a time, it does seem like Selina comprehends Dr. King’s incomparable words in their totality. Because in her mind’s eye and in their day-to-day actions, she has no difficulty judging Gordon, not by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character.

It’s another sentimental picture and you can rail against it, although I’m predisposed to enjoy its quiet bounties. Even compared to a more high-profile option like Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, there’s something unostentatious and rather attractive about this movie. It has Poitier’s sense of decency and there’s a message of tolerance, but the scale feels wonderfully mundane. So, perhaps it’s a realist fairytale. 

4/5 Stars

Nothing But a Man (1964) and Human Dignity

I know Ivan Dixon from Hogan’s Heroes and I’m hardly ashamed of that. He is a lifelong friend forged out of days poring over episodes on classic television stations. Whether he was satisfied with the work is an entirely different conversation, but I am thankful for what he brought to the ensemble in terms of humor and his reliable presence.

Then, recent viewings of Too Late Blues and A Raisin in The Sun, introduced Dixon into my life again in a renewed context. It was a new way to appreciate him even as I’ve become more aware of his prolific work behind the camera in more recent years.

However, in Nothing But a Man, he showcases a depth of character and a facet of the human experience, that frankly, was never accessible in a zany half-hour CBS comedy about American prisoners in a German Luftstalag or any of the smaller film roles he was bequeathed.

The images open with jackhammers as a gang of black section hands help lay down the railroad tracks. It’s hardly breezy work. In return for their sweat and middling conditions, they get a wage and a certain amount of freedom. In the evenings they can be found playing cards or frequenting the local beer parlors with “Heatwave” jamming away in the background. It’s lo-fi instant ambiance and Motown proves to be the perfect soundtrack for this film.

Although he’s not much of a churchgoer, Duff Anderson does show up at a local church meeting in Alabama for some food and southern hospitality. The girl dishing out the meal catches his eye. Josie Dawson (Abbey Lincoln) is the local teacher and the preacher’s daughter. This feels like an instant red flag. Anderson’s not exactly a moral saint, but he relishes her company.

There’s a modest kinship rapidly blooming between them. Even so, Nothing But a Man is a film that feels attentive to the thoughts and feelings of its characters spoken not simply through their words but the expressions on their faces and their actions. Dixon has such classically handsome features, and there’s something unequivocally lovely and unassuming about Abbie Lincoln’s smile. They bring the best out of each other as their romance strengthens.

However, there are other underlying issues to contend with. He has a young son, although he’s never been married before. The reverend looks at him with suspicion. He’s not the marrying kind. Even he knows it, but as a bastion of society, and a mediator between the black and white communities, Josie’s father is not welcoming of any disruption to his moral standing. It’s easy to feel for him even as the gravitational pull of empathy drags us in other directions.

Duff tells the preacher, “Us colored folks got a lotta churchgoing. It’s the white folks who need it real bad.” Of course, the irony of the words can’t be lost on us. Most if not all the white folks have their own churches to go to on Sunday, but it has no positive impact on their lives. I’m sure neither race has a total monopoly on this lukewarm reality. It’s human nature.

But there’s still another question to be answered: How did two Jewish men from up North hone in on such a resonating story of a black community, by taking New Jersey locales and fashioning them into the Deep South? It has to begin with this same kind of personal identification — some form of shared empathy — because they could not get close to the material any other way.

One thing that comes with watching films en masse is how they have the ability to inform one another. Take Pressure Points about a black psychiatrist treating a white neo-Nazi. He espouses vitriolic rhetoric about turning Blacks and Jews into the world’s scapegoats. He never uses the exact words, but it’s plain he believes them to be subhuman. I’m no expert, but it’s difficult for me to think of any group that has been more oppressed than these two.

However, this is not Stanley Kramer at work. It’s not a film about messages or social significance. Instead, we are allowed the privilege to walk alongside this man and woman, and even for a few moments become privy to their circumstances as depicted on screen.

It becomes apparent how the specter of racism dwells over every element of daily life. It cannot be conveniently compartmentalized or ignored because it always has a way of rearing its ugly head. White co-workers try and whip up “friendly” small-talk couched with subtle belittling and microaggressions. And you cannot have a quiet car ride without being accosted.

For whatever his negligible crimes against humanity might be, Duff is considered a troublemaker and standoffish. He won’t be cowed. The next stage in the systematic onslaught is bodily threats — he’s chastised mercilessly as a gas station attendant —  only to be laid off out of fear of retaliation.  And it doesn’t stop there as he’s totally blackballed and all the work propositions mysteriously dry up all around him. There is no deliverance from such a sphere of existence.

His primary problem is that he’s a proud man in an environment that is not ready to give him the respect he requires. What’s striking about Dixon’s portrayal is how it never feels combative or confrontational. That’s never his M.O., but he also will not degrade or ingratiate himself as a basic act of survival. There are some things that run deeper still, and he knows no other way than to be true to himself.

Self-proclaimed experts always talk about the problem with families is the lack of a father figure. But fathers need work and here you see the issue in its totality. It plays out throughout this movie. There’s hopelessness, then desperation, and a lashing out at all those close at hand — wives and children. However, while all this looks to be another portrait of dissolution and a man’s restlessness in a world that won’t let him be, it actually rings with a final note of hope.

I would never accuse Sidney Poitier of grandstanding, but there is a sense Dixon has the same substance as his peer, but this story feels even more mundane than the bulk of Poitier’s Hollywood work. The canvas and the drama are distilled to these very humble forms, and yet there is something powerful in these simple building blocks.

And if there is not a Hollywood happy ending, since this picture shuns everything that is expected by contemporary conventions, Duff does maintain his sense of human dignity. It’s all right there in the title. He was never asking much of others. Never looking for trouble. He just wants to be given the inalienable right to be a man.

For some, that’s easier than it is for others. Let us strive tirelessly for the day when all can claim that they really and truly are created equal. Nothing But a Man is a poignant reminder that this is still far from a reality.

I always knew Ivan Dixon was special, but I will never look at him the same way again. Abbey Lincoln also won a new fan today. I wish I had been aware of her career and her music sooner. But there’s no time like the present to rectify the situation. Let’s not live under the lie that says otherwise.

4.5/5 Stars

Pressure Point (1962)

Peter Falk with Sidney Poitier sounds like as good a place as any to start a movie. There he is a young man charging into his superior’s office, telling him he’s just about had it with his latest case. Surely, what we have is a story of mentorship on our hands.

Although this review is meant to be standalone and films do not need to be watched in tandem, there’s something to be said when they can interface with one another. Recently, I’ve been delving into the early works of Poitier, and his partnership over several films with Stanley Kramer certainly cannot be understated. Likewise, though John Cassavetes joined forces with Poitier in Edge of the City, it was Falk who would become one of the actor-director’s foremost collaborators. You can rarely imagine one without the other.

However, it shows where my mind goes because all these mental extrapolations are all for naught; it’s only a ploy. We barely catch sight of Falk again because this is not his movie. Instead, we drift into the recollections of the veteran doctor and the one case that almost broke him. Hokey setup aside, you can appreciate the unspoken and altogether unprecedented nature of Pressure Points.

Poitier’s lead doesn’t feel like an explicitly black part, but Kramer earmarked him for the role, and it adds a dimension to the movie that would be unavailable with almost any other actor of the era. In Poitier’s own words, “Obviously a picture about a black psychiatrist treating white patients was not the kind of sure-fire package that would send audiences rushing into theatres across the country. But Kramer had other gods to serve, and he was faithful to them.”

The dynamic of the movie is established thereafter when a new patient (Bobby Darin) pays a visit to the doctor. What becomes apparent after a few minutes is that Darin is really going for it. His giggling neo-fascist is all over the doctor from the outset, and here the mind games begin. He can’t figure out why “people” try to be white and respectable — doctors, psychiatrists — it’s not the place for them. 

However, as Poitier’s character scours the other man’s memories, he begins to establish who he is as a person — what his fears and vices are — all born out of his traumatic childhood. After the shaky narrative device, it’s a relief to admit Pressure Points has some artistic invention at its disposal, namely, in the trippy childhood scenes.

In his youth, Darin’s alter ego flees through a meat locker from the grotesque liver his domineering father waves in front of him, while bouts of paranoia overtake him in the present. The only friendships he forms are through hooliganism and a kind of sadistic dependence on invisible playmates.

It feels a bit like Norman Bates’s splintering dissociative identity disorder but playing out in real-time within Poitier’s office. Darin’s voice dissolves in and out of his adolescent personality in an eerie melding of his psyches. A small but crucial detail is how young Barry Gordon’s rounded features somehow mimic his older doppelganger, thus making the connection between them that much more pointed.

Two scenes that succinctly color his antisocial personality involve a tavern and a Bund Meeting. He takes a bit of artistic license with the Nazis’ early strong-armed tactics. In his version, they use tic-tac-toe to systematically vandalize the hapless owner’s establishment (Howard Caine who was Jewish in real life), while effectively scandalizing his onscreen wife. It’s totally perturbing to witness and one of the most evocative scenes I’ve been privy to in some time; the later Bund meeting causes some queasiness in its own right.

To echo Poitier’s words, it’s no surprise that Pressure Points was far from a box office smash. Take a moment to consider what was going against it. Whether people believed in its message or not, it’s a resolutely unnerving picture causing us to take a long, deep look at the very spine of American nationalism.

One of its primary characters spews rhetoric rallying white Christian Americans. Jews and Blacks are necessary. They need them as a scapegoat so they can mobilize the populous against something. It gives them something to hate and be against. Because they are the unchosen people — somehow oppressed in their own way — and breeding resentment and fear.

What strikes me about Darin’s performance is not the pure evil of it, but if we were to evoke Bates again, there are moments where he feels sane even momentarily reasonable. This unnerves me. How many people has this man taken in? How many people believed his methodologies and had their sense of self and right and wrong twisted by narrow-minded vitriol and hate speech?

Is there any of Darin’s character in me?  Wasn’t Norman the one who said we’ve all gone a little crazy sometimes?  It’s frightening to come up against a man who shows no emotion. Although sometimes I see that very same apathy in myself. But I brush it off. Surely we’re nothing alike. We have nothing in common…

I remember when The Atlantic first premiered the footage from a “Night in the Garden,” with Madison Square Garden full of German-American Bund supporters in 1939. Those feelings of discomfort and dissonance are not easy to dispel because the history we are taught tells us that the Allies are good and the Nazis are bad. Here there’s something fundamentally wrong. We wonder why there is still anti-Semitism. We wonder why there is still race hatred and violence against Blacks.

It seems contrary to the country we know and love. And yet if these newsreel images, Darin’s neo-Nazi, and current events tell us anything, it’s that we need to take a hard look at how these poisonous ideologies take root. They are not fantastical, they are not innocuous, and they certainly are not dormant.

What a horrible thing if these insidious things gain legitimacy and become normalized. Watching Pressure Points, it seems good and right to acknowledge mental illness and to acknowledge our shortcomings as human beings, but there is also a time and place to label evil for what it is.

3.5/5 Stars

Too Late Blues (1962): Art and Commerce

It’s hard not to instantly think of Too Late Blues as a historical curio. Here’s a studio film from John Cassavetes that seems fully aware of the context of Shadows. Shadows, of course, was his independently-made directorial debut that took improvisation and a jazz-like mentality to the streets of New York and the beat generation.

The images here are sleek, but they feature much of the same world carried over from the previous film with a young black audience watching as a group of white musicians play their set. We come to know the boys through their daily rituals: they hang out, shoot pool, drink beer, and play music in parks and beer hauls for pennies. It’s not much of a life, but they seem generally content with what they’re doing.

Cassavetes originally wanted Montgomery Clift and his wife Gena Rowlands in the leads. I would definitely have paid to see that film, but there’s still more than enough that’s intriguing about what he ended up with. Bobby Darin doesn’t sing a lick and it’s a daring career decision because it rests on the bearing of performance.

His Ghost Wakefield is at his best as one of the boys because they function together as a mirthful and inspiring unit. As was thinking when they show up at a local gather how I dig a John Cassavetes party. It’s lively and a packed room, but there’s a cool, relaxed ambiance to it as the boys get greeted by their host and Bobby Darin makes his way up the spiral staircase to mingle.

Cassavetes feels like he’s giving us so many great perches to watch and observe the social experiment going on around us. There are optimal spaces from which to focus on the actors, whether through close-ups or a camera that constantly seems to be following them from the hilt with grave interest.

It’s a bit cleaner, it has the bangles, the bells, and the whistles that give off Hollywood, and yet there are still elements of his directorial debut and future works that bleed into this picture. If you’ll pardon the term, it’s “tainted,” but it still fits fluidly into Cassavetes’s body of work even as it functions at its best as a group effort. It wouldn’t work without the many voices and faces who are more than ready to oblige.

Rupert Crosse as Baby is one such figure as is Seymor Cassel, beginning his own auspicious collaboration with the writer-director. If you’re like me, you also get a private satisfaction in seeing Ivan Dixon even for the briefest of moments.

However, we have yet to mention our heroine: Stella Stevens. We meet her stationed by a piano accompanied by a lively crowd. She’s a flustered young singer and as parties such as these are not for the faint of heart, it’s an excruciating moment to watch her try to perform.

In the aftermath, her eyes flutter like a beautiful deer caught in the headlights. Ghost watches her and compliments her. It seems genuinely sincere. Instead of sticking around, they set up in a booth at a local bar. If it doesn’t sound like Too Late Blues is about anything consequential, at least in theatrical terms, then we’ve come to an understanding of why the movie was never a box office smash.

The sinews of the story are all an examination of characters as only Cassavetes might be fascinated in documenting, and the narrative gladly moseys along at its own predetermined pace. The wheeling-dealing agent Benny with his crewcut wears a crooked smile, though he generally means well. He does his best to scrounge up work for Ghost and the boys as well as Jess with varying degrees of success. The bottom line is that Benny tries and he really is tender at heart.

With all this groundwork, what’s really appealing about Too Late Blues are individual scenes or ideas that have been assembled together to create something else. Take, for instance, the interludes where Jess goes from self-loathing to loving Ghost, even lusting after him. They head to her apartment and on the way take a detour onto the diving board.

She lets him in. Coaxes him to keep the lights low and to wait on the bed. She’s prepared to make his evening as it were, but that’s not what he’s looking for. He wants her common, everyday unadulterated love. It flips the script even slightly as she becomes the aggressor.

However, if Ghost’s masculinity is ever in jeopardy, it’s during a bar room brawl. Vince Edwards gets the most prominent cameo as a rowdy pool player who stirs up trouble after a line of drinks. He gives everyone the business, but as he’s got the pianist in a helpless headlock, his girl looking on, it’s like his dignity has been snapped like matchwood. If she is a fragile human being, his ego is more fragile still, and he lashes out. They are actions he cannot take back.

The one false step might be the arc of Ghost. He’s not altogether the most interesting part of this picture. It’s an endeavor functioning in the crowd and the ensemble — him paired with Princess or the barman or his agent together — living out their lives in these standalone moments strung together. The luster is gone when we start seeing a version of A Star is Born or Limelight. We hardly need another. Time flashes forward and we see he’s just another phony. There is no revelation here.

Thrown back together with Jess, they have a renewed moment of rage. For once the camera shakes, and it feels telling. We are aware of the movie again, and in one glorious bathroom drain shot, there is a cinematic directness of Hitchcockian proportions. The camera cuts to the core of the moment, this final act of drama and duress. Graciously we are allowed an exhale afterward.

It occurs to me this movie is a lovely bit of metanarrative. During their recording session, when Ghost charges into the sound booth vowing to play the music his way, it’s like a switch has been flipped. He intimates that he thought the financier wouldn’t tell him how to play his music — that the Man would just listen. He’s rebuffed. This is not the way the world works; it’s not what people want. Commercialism is what makes the world go round.

Whether there’s more than an ounce of truth in the analogy, it’s easy enough to cast Cassavetes as the jazzman fighting against the constraints around him to make his art as he sees fit. Like Ghost, he’s trying to navigate an industry trading in commerce and art.

To his credit, it seems Cassavetes never became totally beholden to one or the other straddling the line between both quite spectacularly and even holding together some semblance of a personal life. By that I mean he had a wife and family and of course, it helped that his wife Gena Rowlands was an actress, and they remained on the same wavelength for most of his career. In the end, he didn’t fulfill the destiny of Ghost. He found a way to live his own life.

3.5/5 Stars

Take a Giant Step (1959): Starring Johnny Nash

“I guess you don’t have to be colored to be unhappy.”
“No, but it sure helps.”

These lines come near the end of Take a Giant Step. The adolescent maelstrom of the movie has subsided and Spence Scott has found a newfound connection with his Pop (Frederick O’Neal). It could be the final moral in a sitcom episode: all teenagers have problems. They’re all disillusioned and unhappy. And yet rather wryly, Mr. Scott subverts the lesson in what feels like an emblematic moment. It’s not a grandstanding watershed, but it speaks to the black experience like few films of the era.

I love Johnny Nash to death, but there are times as he goes through the paces of his performance in Take a Giant Step when he doesn’t seem ready to carry the weight of this movie. He’s constantly stomping around angry at the world and lashing out at everyone. It doesn’t matter who it is. There are moments of sympathy, but most of it is boyish vitriol.

However, the movie itself brings together so many compelling ideas, and to have them out in the public forum in 1959 feels like such a groundbreaking feat. In this regard, it predates A Raisin in The Sun, which has become a bit of the historical standard-bearer.

Here in Louis S. Peterson’s story, adapted from his own groundbreaking stage play, a black high schooler in a predominantly white community feels the anxiety of never fitting in, having “friends” keep their distance, and parents who ride him when he gets home.

It’s teenage angst to its zenith, and then we realize this environment could not be structured better to alienate Spence if it tried. The inciting moment is when his white history teacher recounts the narrative of the Civil War where dumb and helpless blacks had to be saved by Northern benefactors. There’s no mention of Frederick Douglass, willful insurrections, or any counter-narratives.

What makes it worse is the boy’s isolation. No one can understand where he’s coming from even if they wanted to. He is alone in this fight and in his experience. What a helpless and debilitating position to be in. A one-man rebellion is a hard fight to win and in the end, his teenage insurrection gets him expelled from school. Only he knows what that will mean when his parents find out.

While I can’t say Nash is the best actor, he’s surrounded by some luminary talents who elevate this story and make the relationships mean something. I’m speaking, in particular, about the great Estelle Helmsley — boy, do I love her after this film — and then Ruby Dee, who shines in her own right.

Helmsley, a famed stage player takes up her post as the invalid grandmother who spends most of her days incapacitated upstairs. But if her body is weak, then her spirit is more than willing, playing first sparring partner and then confidante for her sharp-tongued grandson. Somehow she has a privileged position, seeing his predicament as his parents never can, and she acts accordingly providing a kind of psychological refuge.

Dee, on her part, plays the family’s cordial housekeeper Christine always affectionately teasing Spence, and then becoming another friend to the friendless. Although black performers were often subjugated to these kinds of domestic roles, Dee is still allowed the agency to speak volumes.

Not only does it say something about her character, it provides commentary on the Scott family that they are able to keep “help.” Likewise, she’s capable of tough love, but also feels inherently inviting. Spence’s disillusionment and raging hormones make Christine an obvious object of affection.

Perhaps because Spence exists in a world where so few people understand him, these two women leave such a stirring impression because somehow they actually get through to him. They receive his ire and turn right around and help him grow up, by simultaneously extending compassion.

In some ways, watching Take a Giant Step reminded me of No Down Payment, another post-war film that takes the white middle-class American dream and puts it up to scrutiny. It’s easy to whitewash the fences and construct sitcoms that either overtly or implicitly construct visions of what the world is supposed to look like.

These two films, in particular, show the fissures that seep into the idealistic depictions of suburbia when there are outsiders who don’t conform to the accepted status quo. The irony is how they try and fit into the prevailing norms and are still rarely granted access.

Rather like the ignorant history teacher, Hollywood rarely gives us such showcases, but every once in a while we get a story that runs against the grain to suggest other points of view, whether they belong to Blacks or Japanese-Americans. Despite any overt imperfections, I’m supremely grateful that we have these films. More people should see them and wrestle with what they have to offer.

3/5 Stars

Edge of The City (1957)

Edge of The City boasts a self-important opening, with a raging score and noirish mood-lightning, especially considering all it shows is John Cassavetes going into work. Even if it is all mood, there’s arguably no better conduit for the time being than Cassavettes. This was a few years before his directorial career kicked off in earnest with Shadows, but it’s as if he oozes unease and discontentment.

He’s not in the same vein as Brando or Clift; each man deservedly stands on his own and Cassavetes was no fan of “The Method,” but he had an innate capacity to present characters with emotions incarnate, whether through the most tangible of fears or tormenting, ever-volatile demons.

He too was totally engaged with the act of crafting characters. He seems to give himself over to them, and thus, later on, behind the camera he offered his fellow actors so much freedom. I imagine it’s both terrifying and invigorating being in Cassavetes’s care, like a thrilling tightrope walk in the best of hands.

For now, he’s in the studio system, but he gets to team with people who arguably appreciated the craft as much as him in a scenario that relies on its main trifecta to create a substantive storyline. At the very least, we’re in for some fine character moments.

Axel North (Cassavetes) finds himself knee-deep in the life of docks where longshoremen make a hard day’s wage with their hands and the sweat of their brows. He gets a gig when a gruff stranger (Jack Warden) vouches for him after he mentions a mutual acquaintance. However, this is hardly an act of pure altruism. He’s a shrewd customer and looks to skim off the top of the newcomer’s pay.

In fact, the most noirish aspect aside from the New York stockyards is a veiled past that doesn’t have the decency to leave him be. Because an itinerant like Axel has to be running away from something; he can’t afford to complain. If Charlie is a symbol of the biting survival-of-the-fittest mentality on the docks, then Tommy Tyler (Sidney Poitier) is the friend you’re always looking to have in your corner.

Poitier’s blessed with a sharp wit in the role, and he feels like the comeback kid, always bright-eyed and ready with the retort. But it also always comes out of a place of camaraderie. He takes Axel under his wing. No matter his color or creed, Tommy knows this world far better than his new buddy. As he maps out the social order, there are the bigs and the lower forms (and probably more than a few loners).

Somehow Cassavetes comes off almost boyish and demure in his first starring role, more so than I’ve ever seen him. It just goes that his normal picture of pent-up intensity took on many forms over the course of his career.

In his film directorial debut, Martin Ritt introduces the kind of themes that would stick with him for the rest of his career. He was passionate about honest character studies focused on people with convictions and conflicts — some good and some bad. How do you begin to categorize Hud, Tommy, or Norma Rae? The catch-all answer is their joint humanity, tainted or not. There’s an inner truth to them imbued by the performers.

In some ways, Edge of The City feels more unprecedented and significant than Stanley Kramer’s Defiant Ones for the sole reason that it’s far more mundane. Its interracial friendship is formed not over an arduous, embittered game of survival, but in the salt mines and urban jungle of the common working man. Axel and Tommy live life together. It normalizes them.

Because one of the greatest joys of the movie comes with depicting the daily activities occurring outside the typical 9 to 5 grind. There are playgrounds overrun with kids, and apartments filled up with mundane rhythms, from cooking dinner to conversations with spouses and friends.

What’s more, the primary female characters as portrayed by Ruby Dee and Kathleen Maguire are intelligent, well-informed human beings. Tommy and Lucy are happily married, and they set Axel up with their friend Ellen, spending evenings together going dancing or bowling. It injects an air of levity onto an otherwise dour canvas.

Still, there are tough conversations too after the laughs have subsided. We hardly expect space for this kind of pragmatic discourse, especially in 1957, and yet here we are. The most noteworthy thing to come out of the inevitable devastation is Ruby Dee’s final stand. For much of the movie, she plays the affectionate wife, who nevertheless has thoughts and opinions of her own. In one shining moment, she showcases her resolute strength even as she decries the madness around her.

It calls for some outward response breaking the code of the docks for the sake of compassion and vindication in the face of heartless human tragedy. Because Martin Ritt studied under Elia Kazan, this might as well be his version of On The Waterfront. It evolves into a tale of collective responsibility where inaction is one of the worst forms of culpability (and also one of the easiest to fall prey to).

In the final hours, Cassavetes becomes his version of Brando’s Terry Malloy and Warden fills in for his 12 Angry Men castmate Lee J. Cobb. Here battles, if not fought with baling hooks, are settled with fists. Finally, Axel casts off his fear and his apathy to stand for something meaningful. So while this is not a wholly original sequence, at the very least, it’s ingraned with a level of moral resonance.

With the birth of the black power movement and blaxploitation in the ensuing decades, Sidney Poitier did not just go out of fashion, he became an easy target. He was a sellout and a relic from a bygone age. It seems time has proved just how uncharitable this is especially when you have the misfortune of becoming acquainted with the likes of Stepin Fetchit and Willie Best.

Sidney Poitier is an inimitable trailblazer, and it’s sorely unfair to place the onus of black representation on one man. Thankfully, he’s had a few others to carry the mantle though progress has been incremental at best. Hopefully, his heirs will keep coming thick and fast, articulating the vast, complex circumferences of the black experience.

However, my final thought is only this. All I could think about after the movie was how he single-handedly built a sub-genre: the interracial buddy film. He could count the likes of John Cassavetes and Tony Curtis among his onscreen friends. Not many men can say that.

3.5/5 Stars

Blackboard Jungle (1955)

Billy Haley and The Comet’s “Rock Around The Clock” is often touted as the first rock n’ roll tune. I won’t get sucked into that discussion for the time being, but whatever we want to call it, there’s this sense of youth culture — teenagers as a demographic — coming into bloom.

Future generations would harness the music of the contemporaneous adolescent culture to greater effect. In Richard Brook’s Blackboard Jungle, it feels a bit more one-note and generally unattached to the marketing and main message of the picture. They haven’t quite harnessed its power. Because like the gangster pictures of old — or even The Wild Ones and Rebel Without a Cause — this is meant to be another cautionary tale about delinquent youth. In its day, it was no doubt considered dangerous and indecent.

There’s some of that, but an honest assessment would acknowledge how tame most of it feels now. It’s the 50s take on the teenager problem through the eyes of a Hollywood still neutered by the production codes. However, that’s not to say there is nothing to be relished about the movie or gleaned from the depiction of cultural anxieties.

I’ll let you be the judge of whether or not Glenn Ford does an adequate job at playing a teacher. It’s certainly not a western and although there are tinges of an urban jungle, it’s not quite your prototypical city noir. To his credit, in spite of his usual intensity, his scenes with Anne Francis, in particular, do reveal a certain sensitivity. He uses his brawn on a number of occasions; he has a foot in that world, and yet there’s some sense he is a gentleman and an aspiring family man.

Still, his life as a new recruit to North Manual Trades High School feels a bit like baptism by fire. Despite its gruff and no-nonsense administrators as represented by such ready veterans as John Hoyt and Emile Meyer, there’s no question the all-boys, multiethnic melting pot of a school has a major discipline problem.

One wry teacher who’s been around the block calls it the “garbage can” of the education system. And he’s resigned himself to taking out the trash. Nothing more. As such, in preparation for the first day of school, there’s an uneasiness in the air. Even as Mr. Dadier (Ford) desires to reach his class, there’s a sense that battle lines are being drawn up: you have students on one side and teachers forming a rear guard. One new recruit, a bookish Richard Kiley comments, it’s like being back on the beach at Salerno doing the war. In other words, this mission is not for the faint of heart.

The world and the atmosphere around the school evoke so much. One of the primary pleasures of the picture comes with actually familiarizing ourselves with this rank and file replete with familiar faces like the Louis Calherns, Kiley’s, and even an odd Richard Deacon or Jamie Farr here or there. We can only experience the power dynamics and, the underlining conflict thanks to the range of characters.

I have very little practical hands-on knowledge about New York geography, but there is this sense that the high school featured here could exist not too far away from the courtroom in 12 Angry Men. If the morality on what to do with punks and malcontents doesn’t entirely overlap, then the visual landscape feels like a shared space.

But enough delaying tactics. We must acknowledge the emblematic youth at the heart of Blackboard Jungle. Gregory Miller (Sidney Poitier) is cool and disaffected. Dadier ushers him out of the washroom during a mid-period smoke break. He’s made his stance toward education plain. Though he’s a more complex case than his opening introduction might suggest. Most people are.

Artie (Vic Morrow) thrives as the gang’s primary leader, at least in the fact he’s good for a derisive comment and stirring up his cronies in rebellion against the establishment. Boys like Miller’s have intelligence and some semblance of passion.  Artie’s got nothing of the sort. He has a future career of hoodlamism all sketched out.

It’s not a radical hypothesis, but watching Sidney Poitier here, it’s easy to surmise that if he had been white, he would have been lauded as a cult icon on par with Brando or Dean. However, to his credit, he takes the part in a direction commensurate with his specific talents. While Morrow at times feels like the typical street thug, Poitier eschews many of these conventions over time.

Considering the opening preamble and where the movie goes, it’s intriguing to consider the implications. It does preach a message of racial tolerance — that certain people aren’t too far gone and teens are humans too — but there does seem to be an easy fix. You have to pin the blame on the black sheep. They are the ones souring everything. It has nothing to do with skin color, but perhaps the pains, the fears, and the psychological duress of youth.

One of the most powerfully symbolic moments is not any fistfight or savage skirmish. It happens in a classroom where the boys, urged by Artie, bust a teacher’s collection of jazz records. Kiley’s reaction is hardly devastation. He’s more so shellshocked and resigned to bewilderment. What would come over them to do such a reckless thing? They get no utility out of it. It’s merely an act of spite, a way to wreak havoc and target other people so they become inured to it.

Creativity or beauty of any kind, anything that doesn’t conform to teenage masculinity, even flaunted sexuality gets quelled and totally crushed into the ground. There need not be a better summation. Otherwise, there are few revelations in the movie and the finale is tense if not altogether authentic, brimming perilously with self-serving melodrama.

In this facet alone, it seems time has not been kind to The Blackboard Jungle. At the very least, it’s because a myriad of similarly-minded movies were built out of its image — on its shoulders even. If you’ve seen Stand and Deliver or even Poitier’s later success, To Sir, With Love, it makes the work here feel outmoded, if not altogether negligible.

However, after everything else burns off, there’s a particular appreciation for Poitier. If Morrow deservedly filled the space of a punk antihero, then Poitier derives a nuance out of his role that seems unprecedented, and he would keep on presenting such seismic and extraordinary performances to the American screen. Even in his relative youth, I’m always in awe of his intuitive stage presence.

Far from simply offering a convenient context for the movie and its student-teacher factions, Ford’s character reaches out to Poitier because he is the leader that others follow. In 1950s America this seems like an almost startling statement. Here is a black man being acknowledged as capable of leading the masses. But when you watch Poitier, it doesn’t seem implausible by any means because he plays it so assuredly.

Thus, Blackboard Jungle might as well remain as a time capsule of 1950s sensibilities, beatnik-era slang, burgeoning rock n’ roll culture, and most importantly of all, a showcase for one of the movie industry’s incomparable talents. Yes, I’m talking about Jameel Farrah.

3.5/5 Stars