Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Anjelica Huston, Donal McCann, Dan O'Herlihy, Donal Donnelly, Helena Carroll, Cathleen Delany, Ingrid Craigie, Rachael Dowling, Marie Kean, Frank Patterson, Maria McDermottroe, Sean McClory, Katherine O'Toole, Maria Hayden, Bairbre Dowling
Written by: Tony Huston, based on a story by James Joyce
Directed by: John Huston
MPAA Rating: PG
Running Time: 83
Date: 09/03/1987
IMDB

The Dead (1987)

4 Stars (out of 4)

'Dead' Reckoning

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

John Huston directed this, his very last film, 43 years after his debut The Maltese Falcon, from a wheelchair and with the aid of oxygen tanks, when he could have retired and relaxed in bed. The resulting film is a true labor of love -- a masterpiece, and perhaps the crowning achievement of a long, varied and highly celebrated career. James Joyce's original story is considered by many to be the greatest short story ever written, and Huston's son Tony does a remarkable job adapting it to the screen and capturing its autumnal mood. Gretta Conroy (Anjelica Huston) and Gabriel Conroy (Donal McCann) attend a winter holiday party at around the turn of the century (just a few days after New Year's). We casually meet their family members, the lovers, the outcasts, the failures, etc. We hear gossip. People reminisce about the past. Gabriel nervously prepares for his dinner table speech. It's a bittersweet evening told in relaxed, precise strokes, but then -- as in the story -- Huston delivers the punch right at the very end. Gretta and Gabriel travel home in their coach through the snow and Gretta reveals a devastating secret about her past. Despite the movie's sense of regret and sadness, it still has a lovely sense of revelry, and I think it would make a good holiday classic.

DVD Details: Lionsgate released a botched Region 1 DVD of this in November of 2009, but recealled it because it did not contain a complete print of the film. It was re-issued in December in complete form. It's a pretty bare-bones disc, but a must-see movie.

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