Fresh on Twilight Time: ‘FOREVER AMBER’, ‘ALICE’, ‘WUTHERING HEIGHTS’ and more


Preston Barta // Features Editor


Last month’s titles from Twilight Time, a retro movie restoration company, featured resonant stories about love and tragedy.

Not rated, 138 minutes.
Director: Otto Preminger
Cast: Linda DarnellCornel WildeRichard GreeneGeorge Sanders and Glenn Langan

Normally I’m not one for novel-like period dramas – hence, why I still have yet to see PHANTOM THREAD – but I found myself sucked into the vortex of this 17th century story.

1947’s FOREVER AMBER centers on a strong-willed young woman named Amber St. Claire (Linda Darnell) who is seduced by her great love, the fickle Lord Bruce Carlton (Cornel Wilde as Rhett Butler, essentially), only the feelings aren’t mutual. As a result – and to put it lightly – Amber decides to become rich and powerful no matter what.

There are hard-hitting themes within that draw comparisons to what’s going in today’s world, such as a woman having to fight in a man’s world to be recognized. While the story runs a little too long and feels like an off-brand version of GONE WITH THE WIND, FOREVER AMBER is far more than the period soap opera it’s painted as. It has some solid characterization and it looks gorgeous for its age.

Grade: B

Bonus Material: Isolated Music Track / Linda Darnell: Hollywood’s Fallen Angel.

ALICE (1990)
Rated PG-13, 106 minutes.
Director: Woody Allen
Cast: Mia FarrowWilliam HurtJoe MantegnaJune Squibb and Robin Bartlett

Occasionally Woody Allen will take a rather ordinary concept and add a twist of magical realism to stir the pot. His endearing 2011 film MIDNIGHT IN PARIS took that route and it worked out quite spectacularly for him. He has another Oscar to prove it. But 1990’s ALICE is a bit too out of touch for my liking.

It sees Mia Farrow as a New York woman who’s married to a wealthy man (William Hurt), but isn’t happy with how monotonous her life is. One day she visits a healer in Chinatown and – this is where it gets real kooky – is given herbal potions to steer her life in a more desired direction, including one that turns her invisible.

ALICE lacks the philosophical and satirical precision of some of Allen’s other romantic comedies, but it has memorable performances and Allen’s signature anxiety-ridden dialogue.

Grade: C+

Bonus Material: Isolated Music & Effects Track / Original Theatrical Trailer.

Rated G, 104 minutes.
Director: Robert Fuest
Cast: Anna Calder-MarshallTimothy DaltonHarry AndrewsPamela Brown and Judy Cornwell

There has been so many adaptations of Emily Brontë’s classic tale about unfortunate lovers (Are you noticing a theme in these releases?) that there are bound to be dull versions. The 1970 Robert Fuest-directed film is one such rendering.

Starring 007’s Timothy Dalton and Anna Calder-Marshall as the doomed lovers, Heathcliff and Cathy, this adaptation plays like those movies you would catch some z’s during in grade school. The cast and crew don’t quite have a firm handle on the material, but there are some shining moments (especially one haunting scene at a graveyard near the film’s end) that give it somewhat of a pulse.

Grade: C+

Bonus Material: Isolated Music Track / Audio Commentary with Film Historian Justin Humphreys / Original Theatrical Trailer.

Rated PG-13, 103 minutes.
Director: Arthur Hiller
Cast: George C. ScottDiana RiggBarnard HughesRichard Dysart and Stephen Elliott

Paddy Chayefsky’s 1971 dark comedy about a declining big-city hospital and a middle-aged physician on the verge of suicide features a sharply-written screenplay and boasts a skilled cast (George C. Scott, Diana Rigg and Barnard Hughes), even if its pace doesn’t keep up with the intriguing thoughts it poses. One such explored thought is the scary lack of medical professionalism behind the scenes.

Grade: B-

Bonus Material: Isolated Music & Effects Track / Original Theatrical Trailer.

Not rated, 126 minutes.
Director: Bryan Forbes
Cast: Leslie Caron, Tom BellAnthony BoothAvis Bunnage and Verity Edmett

This 1962 black-and-white film concerns an unmarried pregnant woman (a very good Leslie Caron) who moves into a down-and-out London boarding house. It’s there she befriends the odd group of inhabitants and has an affair with one of them (Tom Bell).

The tender film deals with matters (abortion and premarital sex) that weren’t really addressed in American films for at least another decade. The L-SHAPED ROOM was clearly made with a strong love for humanity. It just may open your eyes to your surroundings a bit more, and that doesn’t hurt.

Grade: B

Bonus Material: Isolated Music & Effects Track / Audio Commentary with Film Historians Lem Dobbs, Julie Kirgo, and Nick Redman / Original Theatrical Trailer.

About author

Preston Barta

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.