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

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction ( as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.