A gentle fable on familiar themes, lightly salted with irony by Clint Eastwood. Eastwood plays the title character, the head of a modern-day wild west show that scrabbles from town to town in the backwaters of the midwest, spreading the forgotten values of fair play, comradeship, and clean living (up to a point). Sondra Locke, as a spoiled heiress, enters via a plot device lifted from It Happened One Night. Eastwood’s performance is dense and subtle, drawing on his natural shyness and gentility, though his direction — apart from two or three creatively edited sequences — is much less distinctive than it has been before. A minor film with a good heart — if anything, it’s too lovable (1980).
Vincente Minnelli‘s 1955 melodrama is set in a posh mental hospital; he choreographs the various plots and subplots with the same style and dynamism he brought to his famous musicals. Charles Boyer is the head of the clinic, a secret alcoholic worried about competition from hotshot young shrink Richard Widmark. Widmark, in turn, is caught in a triangle with his childish wife (Gloria Grahame) and an understanding colleague (Lauren Bacall). Among the guest loonies are Oscar Levant (who sings “Mother” in a straitjacket), Lillian Gish, Susan Strasberg, Fay Wray, John Kerr, Paul Stewart, and Adele Jergens; John Houseman produced. 124 min.