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Sample: Title; rating (out of 4); principal setting; year of release; international co-producer (if any); cast; description; scriptwriter; director; content warning; running time.
* * 1/2 setting: USA.
(2002) (/U.S.) Angie Everhart, Andrew Walker, Winston Rekert, Amy Slaon, Frank Schorpion, Ellen David, Conrad Pla, Bobo Vian.....Young American man (Walker) returns home to his wealthy, domineering father (Rekert) and falls into an affair with his father's new -- and younger -- wife (Everhart); eventually, murder results. Nothing much that's fresh here, but it succeeds as a reasonably entertaining noirish suspense-drama, with nice performances from Rekert and American import Everhart. Though the twists and double-crosses in the second half largely undermine the character and human drama aspects of the first half. sc: Turi Meyer, Al Septien. dir: Jason Hreno. - sexual content.- 92 min.
WIDOW ON THE HILL
* * setting: USA.
(2005) Natasha Henstridge, James Brolin, Jewel Staite, Gabriel Hogan, Jeff Roop, Roman Podhora, Melinda Deines, Michele Duquet.....Southern-style melodrama about an opportunistic young woman (Henstridge) who marries a widowed, older, wealthy, Virginian ranch owner (American actor Brolin) -- told in flashbacks after his mysteriouss death. "True Crime" TV movie is, if taken on its own as a movie, an enjoyable enough pot-boiler -- lurid enough to be melodramatic fun, restrained enough to not slide (too often) into camp, getting a big boost from its dignified, pleasant cast (Staite is particularly good as the black sheep adult daughter who is suspicious of her new stepmom). But, as often happens, it's more problematic if you consider its "roots" in a true case (names have been changed and time compressed), where real human tragedy is turned into a night's entertainment, and where the movie has a clear agenda -- skewing the story to make it all black and white. There's even an elitist subtext, as Henstridge is the sinister "white trash" invading the hallowed demesne of the old money blue bloods. sc: Stephen Harrigan (based, in part, on a Vanity Fair article by Michael Shnayerson). dir: Peter Svatek. - sexual content.- app. 90 min.
THE WIDOW OF SAINT-PIERRE see La veuve de Saint-Pierre
THE WIDOWMAKER *
* setting: other
(1990) (/U.K.) Annanelle Apsion, Alun Armstrong, David Morrissey, Kenneth Welsh, Eileen Nicholas.....After her husband goes on a killing spree, a British woman (Apsion) starts to unravel under the pressure of guilt-by-association and her attempts to understand the man she thought she knew. Interesting premise for a film, with the to-be-expected British professionalism, but ultimately it's muddled at times and never quite makes a story out of its idea. Canuck Welsh has a small, albeit crucial, role. sc: Jeremy Brock. dir: John Madden. - brief female nudity, sexual content.- 108 min.
The Wild Geese, a novel by Martha Ostenso,
was turned into the TV movie After
WILD CARD (TV Series) see Zoe Busiek: Wild Card
* 1/2 setting: CDN.
(2004) Paul Gross, Sandra Oh, Rebecca Jenkins, James Allodi, Ellen Page, Callum Keith Rennie, Maury Chaykin, Daniel MacIvor, Kathryn MacLellan.....Story of various characters and relationships in a small island town. Melancholy comedy-drama boasts a good cast and some nice, well-realized scenes, and Jenkins briefly flashes alluring abs...but the whole is, unfortunately, slow moving and rather tedious. The various plot threads are often simplistic and repetitive, and the movie suffers from a central contradiction (on one hand, it's sort of about idyllic small town life...on the other hand, a plot thread involves the townsfolk's intolerance and homophobia). For a movie all about the characters and their angsts...you can come away with little feel for the characters beyond their defining angst. Someone needs to explain to writer/director MacIvor that musical montage interludes are no substitute for story and characterization. Ultimately, it seems like it's an attempt to do a mainstream movie...that keeps getting dragged down by its Art House roots. Despite a lot of strong, individual aspects, it's ultimately a bad movie...in the way only a movie that comes close to being good can be bad. sc./dir: Daniel MacIvor. 99 min.
THE WILD DOGS *
* 1/2 setting: other/CDN.
(2003) Thom Fitzgerald, David Hayman, Visinel Burcea, Rachel Blanchard, Alberta Watson, Nelu Vioreu, Simona Popescu, Marcel Catalin Ungureanu, Geraint Wyn Davies.....Story of various characters in Bucharest, from fringe dwelling, deformed beggars to a high living Canadian diplomat's family, focusing on a mild mannered pornographer(!) (Fitzgerald) who arrives in the city looking for models, but unprepared for the city's seediness and poverty. Bleak but well-intentioned drama is atmospheric, but a little formless, as if writer/director Fitzgerald sort of had a story...and sort of shot things on the spur of the moment. Uneven at first, ironically with the Romanian-spoken scenes better than the awkwardly written English-language scenes, but gets better and threads -- literal and symbolic -- do come together toward the end. Doesn't fully realize its own ideas (it's well into the movie before you realize the street people are Gypsies and the movie's not just about poverty, but bigotry; or that the maid is the dog catcher's wife; and child pornography is treated as though it's more a moral grey issue, which the protagonist struggles with before rebelling against, rather than something most people would say is pretty black & white to begin with!). And how accurate, and fair, a depiction this is of Romania is for others to judge. Some nice performances from the Romanian as well as Canadian actors, and nice to see Blanchard doing a Canadian movie a few years after moving to Hollywood, though Davies has just a bit part as the protagonist's boss. sc./dir: Thom Fitzgerald. - partial female and male nudity, sexual content.- 100 min.
THE WILD GIRL
* * setting: USA./other
(2010) (/U.S.) Brian Austin Green, Kathleen Munroe, Matthew Edison, Andrew Gillies, Gregory "Dominic" Odjig, Graham Greene, Lola Tash, Pedro Salvin.....Story of a 1932 expedition in Mexico sent to rescue a boy kidnapped by Apaches, bringing with them an orphaned Apache girl to trade -- a mismatched group including an aspiring photojournalist (American Green), an anthropologist (Munroe), a society dilettante seeking glory, an English butler, and a couple of ambivalent Indian scouts. Made-for-TV flick (essentially a post-western era western) boasts an engaging cast playing interesting characters, and some clever and witty interplay -- as well as nice scenery. Granted, it's an "adventure" movie more than an adventure movie, lagging occasionally with a two few many scenes of characters just sitting around chatting (though engaging enough scenes in their own right) but does generate suspense and tension as it goes. Basically an old fashioned western...with modern undercurrents and moral complexity. Though loosely suggested by the real life Francisco Fimbres incident -- I believe it's otherwise entirely fictional. sc: Ronald Parker (from the novel by Jim Fergus). dir: Don McBrearty. - violence.- 87 min.
THE WILD GUYS *
* * setting: B.C/USA.
(2004) Kenneth Welsh, Hrothgar Mathews, Jackson Davies, Lochlyn Munro, Brent Stait, Ellie Harvie, Camille Mitchell, Stacy Grant.....Four mis-matched guys go off into the B.C. woods for some fishing and some "Man Movement"-style sharing and bonding (though some are only doing it reluctantly, hoping to climb the corporate ladder)...only to get lost and misadventures ensue. Comedy starts out like a moderately amusing old TV movie -- you know, funny, but not that funny -- benefiting from a solid cast (particularly Welsh)...but actually grows on you, getting better as it goes, and veers a little into some touching drama. Ironically, it's a movie that is both spoofing the whole "touchy-feely" "male bonding" cult...and also buys into it, too. The result...is a likeable, generally good-natured effort. sc: Jackson Davies, Rex Bromfield (from the play by Andrew Wreggitt, Rebecca Shaw). dir: William F. Gereghty. 91 min.
WILD HORSE HANK *
* 1/2 setting: USA.
(1978) Linda Blair, Michael Wincott, Al Waxman, Richard Crenna, Barbara Gordon, Stephen E. Miller.....Young woman (Blair) decides to save a herd of wild horses from being turned into dog food by herding them 150 miles across the U.S. to sanctuary. Manipulative but O.K. drama has a good cast, though Blair's rather uninspired. And for a film that's all about saving animals, it seems to treat its horses pretty harshly. sc: James Lee Barrett (from the novel The Wild Horse Killers by Mel Ellis). dir: Eric Till. 94 min.
The Wild Horse Killers, a novel by Mel Ellis, was turned into the movie Wild Horse Hank.
THE WILD HUNT
* * setting: P.Q.
(2009) Mark A. Krupa, Ricky Mabe, Tiio Horn, Trevor Hayes, Kent McQuald, Claudia Jurt, Nicolas Wright, Kyle Gatehouse, Terry Simpson.....Story of young adults engaged in a fantasy role playing game of warriors and elves in the woods, and the non-player cynic (Mabe) -- brother of one of the main players (Krupa) -- who shows up only wanting to work things out with his wayward girlfriend (Horn)...but things get out of hand. Frustrating flick has an interesting, singular premise, good performances all around, and effectively pulls off a variety of tones, from quirky humour to the creepy; from an almost cinema verité realism (in the city scenes) to a more pulpy style in the woods. Indeed, at times you can almost wonder if the conceit was to use the play-within-a-play idea simply to do a sword & sorcery movie but where the low-budget was justified! Except, the story is kind of spoofing the genre...and even criticizing it (with its Lord of the Flies subtext). Still, it's stylish, kind of evoking an old counter-culture drama circa the '60s or '70s. But ultimately...the plot/character stuff can seem a bit thin at first (during the first half it could occasionally be mistaken for some documentary about LARPing -- Live Action Role Playing) though gets beefed up as it goes, though even then takes a while to get to what is a fore-ordained denouement (even the commercial tag lines give away that it's about what happens when the game "stops being a game"). Characters sometimes just seem to have the same conversations over again (even when you thought they'd moved on) and even the basic motivations (especially Horn's) and themes can seem a bit muddled. Ultimately, good individual elements...that don't quite form a satisfying whole. sc: Mark A. Krupa, Alexandre Franchi. dir: Alexander Franchi. - violence.- 96 min.
THE WILD PONY
* * 1/2 setting: USA.
(1983) Marilyn Lightstone, Art Hindle, Josh Byrne, Kelsey McLeod, Paul Jolicoeur (Coeur).....Around the turn-of-the-century, a struggling widowed mother (Lightstone) proposes a marriage-of-convenience to the farmer (Hindle) who accidently killed her husband; while her son dreams of owning a wild horse. O.K. family drama has a lot of the potential, including for humour, drained out of it by its rather plodding, overly mannered execution -- a hallmark of Sullivan's later work. Lightstone never really becomes likeable, which is also a problem. sc: Eda Lishman, Kevin Sullivan (from the novel The Year of the Black Pony by Walt Morey). dir: Kevin Sullivan. 87 min.
(2009) * * *
Steve Byers ("Will McGregor"), Michelle Harrison ("Kate Henry"),
Gary Hudson ("David McGregor"),
Kim Huffman ("Maggie Henry"),
Amy Lalonde ("Rebecca McGregor"),
Adam MacDonald ("Peter McGregor"),
Sarah Power ("Lucy Henry"),
Clare Stone ("Charlotte Henry"), with Dylan Neal.....Drama/night time soap about a struggling cattle ranching family of
women -- the widowed mother (Huffman, arguably a bit young for the role of a
mother with adult kids) and her three daughters, the cowgirl (Harrison) who runs
the ranch, the prodigal daughter (Power) who returns to help out, and the teenage
adopted daughter (Stone) -- locked in a feud with a ruthless oil baron (Hudson)
who used to own their land...and wants it back; a feud complicated by the fact
that the two families have a long history, so although the oil baron's
vixenish daughter (Lalonde) is on his side, his two sons, a junior executive
(Byers) and a cowboy (MacDonald) are friends/lovers of the ranchers and take their
This TV series was the CBC's second stab at an old fashioned,
unpretentious, pulpy night time soap (following MVP) -- but succeeded a bit
better. Eschewing the camp aspect of MVP, this was a straightforward drama
that, if not breaking any ground, nonetheless grew on you with its solid cast
playing reasonably nuanced, mostly sympathetic characters, and with its brisk
pace and plot twists and turns. Admittedly, the oil baron and his daughter
were a bit too much the stock villains -- though no fault of the actors
(particularly Hudson, a solid performer). At first it tried a bit too hard to
go for a sexy/lurid feel that threatened to slide into cheese (there's nothing
wrong with doing a sexy, lurid series...except if it doesn't quite smoulder)
but in general kept the focus on the characters and the plot twists and turns,
rather than the bedroom. Although it performed better than MVP in the ratings,
its numbers were middling and though not hugely lower than those for the CBC's other new
series -- Being Erica -- it was cancelled after one season. Like so many
modern series, particularly those with on going story threads, the final
episode wasn't really meant to be the end...still, it did provide resolution
to some storylines, even as it was meant to be a cliffhanger in others -- so
as a bittersweet finale, it could've been worse. One season of 13 hour long
episodes on the CBC. - casual male nudity.-
This TV series was the CBC's second stab at an old fashioned, unpretentious, pulpy night time soap (following MVP) -- but succeeded a bit better. Eschewing the camp aspect of MVP, this was a straightforward drama that, if not breaking any ground, nonetheless grew on you with its solid cast playing reasonably nuanced, mostly sympathetic characters, and with its brisk pace and plot twists and turns. Admittedly, the oil baron and his daughter were a bit too much the stock villains -- though no fault of the actors (particularly Hudson, a solid performer). At first it tried a bit too hard to go for a sexy/lurid feel that threatened to slide into cheese (there's nothing wrong with doing a sexy, lurid series...except if it doesn't quite smoulder) but in general kept the focus on the characters and the plot twists and turns, rather than the bedroom. Although it performed better than MVP in the ratings, its numbers were middling and though not hugely lower than those for the CBC's other new series -- Being Erica -- it was cancelled after one season. Like so many modern series, particularly those with on going story threads, the final episode wasn't really meant to be the end...still, it did provide resolution to some storylines, even as it was meant to be a cliffhanger in others -- so as a bittersweet finale, it could've been worse. One season of 13 hour long episodes on the CBC. - casual male nudity.-
"A Wilderness Station", a short story by Alice Munro, became the movie Edge of Madness
WIN, AGAIN *
* 1/2 setting: Nfld.
(1999) Gordon Pinsent, Gabrielle Rose, Michael Riley, Leah Pinsent, Eric Peterson, Lawrence Dane, Joan Orenstein.....Exonerated after 14 years on the run, a fugitive (Pinsent) returns to his home town hoping to make some sort of connection with his ex-wife (Rose) and estranged, bitter son (Riley). Made-for-CBC TV comedy-drama boasts good performances, and clever, literate dialogue, but falters a bit in the plot department. At times, the film seems like a collection of characters uttering self-analytical monologues more than a well-realized story, despite the cleverly off-beat premise. Enjoyable, but also a tad unstatisfying with an awkward ending. Received the Gemini for Best Script. sc: Gordon Pinsent. dir: Eric Till. 90 min.
(1996-2001) * * 1/2 Shirley Douglas ("May Bailey"), Dylan Provencher ("Hub Bailey"), Tyrone Savage ("Henry 'Fat" Bailey"), Cynthia Belliveau ("Honey Bailey") (-2nd), Laura Bruneau ("Honey Bailey") (4th-), Kathryn Greenwood ("Grace Bailey"), James Carroll ("Max Sutton"), Ron Lea ("Del Sutton"), many others.....Family drama set in a medium sized Ontario town during the Depression, focusing on an extended family. Douglas plays the aged, stern matriarch, owner of the local factory, Belliveau her widowed daughter-in-law, struggling to make ends meet as she raised her two sons (Savage and Provencher) before re-marrying to Carroll, then disappearing for a season before returning, now played by Bruneau. Greenwood plays the good-natured sister-in-law. Lea cropped up as "Max's" brother, etc.
This TV series from Sullivan Entertainment (they of The Road to Avonlea) delivers a program of similar quality that will generally appeal to those who liked that earlier series, while not necessarily winning converts with its kind of broad, mannered presentation. The series started out fairly grim, but became lighter in tone as it went along, mixing humour with the drama. It was loosely inspired by the novel Never Sleep Three in a Bed by Max Braithwaite. Subsequently there was a TV movie in 2001 -- A Wind at My Back Christmas. Hour long episodes shown, sometimes erratically, on the CBC.
A WIND FROM WYOMING see Le vent du Wyoming
THE WINDOW see La fenetre
THE WINDSOR PROTOCOL a.k.a. Jack
Higgins' the Windsor Protocol
(2002-2003) * * * Rod Beattie.....Unusual sitcom, adapted from the hugely successful series of one man shows starring Beattie and written and created by Dan Needles; the premise is that a big city stockbroker, Walt Wingfield, decides to chuck the rat race and buy a farm, and the various plays chronicle his misadventures with farm life and his eccentric friends and neighbours as he relates them in letters to the local newspaper. The series is a literal adaptation of the plays -- each play is serialized over three or four episodes (though since the plays themselves are episodic, many of the episodes can seem relatively self-contained even as they feature continuing threads). As well, it remains a one man show, with Beattie playing all the parts, often just changing his hat to denote a new persona while addressing the camera -- and he's uncannily good at times (listening to an audio recording of the plays, you wouldn't realize it was just one actor!)
Amusing series is liable to put off some viewers -- what? a one man show as weekly TV? Rustic humour about farm life? -- which'll be too bad. Because it's a likeable, smart, enterprise, with Needles' drily funny scenes, tinged by occasional seriousness, that manage to have fun with all the characters, while not really making fun of them. And, as noted, Beattie is exceptional. However, because the series just adapts the existing plays, fans of the plays might be disappointed as they've seen it all before. Worth checking out and trying for a couple of episodes to see if you can get on its wavelength. The Wingfield plays have become something of a modern bit of Canadiana and the first play was also committed to film as Letter from Wingfield farm, and most of the plays have also been recorded as audio productions. Half-hour episodes on the CBC.
Winners, a novel by Mary-Ellen Lang Collura, became the CBC TV movie Spirit Rider
WINTER GAMES see Apres ski
* * setting: USA.
(1998) Dorothee Berryman, Danny Gilmore, J.P. Bergeron (a.k.a. Jean-Pierre Bergeron), Kimberly Laferriere, Chris McCabe, Philip LeMaistre.....Drifter (Gilmore) arrives at an isolated New Hampshire inn during the winter off season, and suspects there's something strange about the inn keeper (Berryman) who cares for a sickly daughter...who he never sees or hears. Rural gothic suspense film starts out O.K. but is awfully slow-moving. All the characters act a bit odd (which may or may not be intentional) meaning it's hard to get involved, and too many questions that seem to be raised are never satisfactorily answered by the end. It pretends it's set in New England, despite a cast who all speak with light French-Canadian accents! sc: Ryosuke Moike, Roshell Bissett. dir: Roshell Bissett. - violence; brief female nudity.- 85 min.
WINTER STORIES see Histoires d'hiver
A WINTER TAN *
* setting: other
(1987) Jackie Burroughs, Erando Gonzales, Javier Torres.....True story of Maryse Holder (Burroughs), vacationing in Mexico, and her narcissistic and self-destructive pursuit of sex and, perhaps, love. Essentially a one-note premise that tries to be a character study, but we never know why she is what she is. Burroughs won the Best Actress Genie. sc: Jackie Burroughs (from the book Give Sorrow Words by Maryse Holder). dir: Louise Clark, Jackie Burroughs, John Frizzell, John Walker, Aerlyn Weissman. - partial female nudity, sexual content.- 92 min.
* * 1/2
(1991).....Documentary about the life of the female stand-up comic featuring interviews covering everything from sexism to the art itself as well as routines from a host of comics including Ellen DeGeneres, Paula Poundstone, Sandra Shamas, Whoopi Goldberg, Phyllis Diller and many others from Canada, the U.S. and England. Sometimes incisive, sometimes not, sometimes funny, sometimes not, but interesting. Produced by the NFB. dir: Gail Singer. 97 min.
WISHMASTER III: Beyond the Gates
of Hell * 1/2
(2001) (/U.K.) Jason Connery, A.J. Cook, Tobias Mehler, Louisette Geiss, Aaron Smolinski, Daniella Evangelista, Emmanuelle Vaugier, John Novak.....University student (Cook) accidentally invokes an evil Djinn who wants to grant her three wishes, at the end of which, he can unleash his evil brethren on the world; while trying to coerce her into making wishes, he also grants the wishes of various others...which he twists to result in the wisher's grisly demise. Horror flick is slick enough with decent performances...but kind of dull and dumb, despite a stab at fashioning a character arc for the heroine. It's also kind of exhausting, with characters seeming to spend most of the film wandering endlessly back and forth on campus, just looking for each other. The basic concept is watching how the various wishes are twisted, but the movie more often than not fumbles that: nor is there the pay-off of the heroine coming up with some clever wish in the climax (as there was, apparently, in the first film). Still, it's nice to see a Canadian (Cook, also star of Ripper) starring: Canadian-made horror/slasher flicks used to involve importing Americans like Jamie Lee Curtis. Follow-up to a couple of U.S. movies, though the story is completely independent of them. Followed by another Canadian-made sequel. sc: Alexander Wright. dir: Chris Angel. - extreme violence, partial female nudity.- 92 min.
WISHMASTER IV: The Prophecy
Fulfilled * 1/2 setting: USA.
(2002) Michael Trucco, Tara Spencer-Nairn, Jason Thompson, Victor Webster, Kimberly Huie, John Novak.....An evil Djinn wants to grant three wishes to an unsuspecting woman (Spencer-Nairn), at the end of which, prophecy dictates he can free his demonic brethren. Fourth Wishmaster film (and the second Canadian one) boasts some nice performances, and Spencer-Nairn even doffs her top a couple of times, but the movie itself is just slow and repetitive, throwing in various disparate story threads as if they had no idea how to get 90 minutes out of any of them. And the basic concept, as the Djinn goes around trying to trick people into making wishes (which he then uses to kill them) seems more like a joke, except the actors play it straight. Has an interesting mid-story twist, as the unsuspecting heroine makes her third wish...that the Djinn is unsure how to fulfil. But overall, just slow and dull. Gory violence is muted a bit (thankfully) by the cheapness of the effects. sc: John Benjamin Martin. dir: Chris Angel. - extreme violence, partial female nudity, sexual content.- 92 min.
WITCHBOARD: The Possession
* 1/2 setting: USA.
(1995) David Nerman, Locky Lambert, Cedric Smith, Donna Sarrasin, Danette MacKay.....An unemployed stockbroker (Nerman) becomes possessed via a ouija board by an evil spirit wanting to conceive a child with his unsuspecting wife (Lambert). Schlocky horror flick has decent actors and a nice look, and one mildly sexy scene, too bad it's so slow and thin with a lot of mishandled scenes. And that most major of faults: it ain't scary. Not so much a sequel to the U.S. "Witchboard" films, as a variation on a theme. Smith has a pivotal but small part. sc: Kevin S. Tenney, John Ezrine (story Ezrine). dir: Peter Svatek. - extreme violence, partial female nudity, sexual content, brief male nudity.- 94 min.
(2012) (/U.S.) Paul McGillion, Emilie Ullerup, Sarain Boylan, Shannen Doherty, Jefferson Brown.....Medieval fantasy about some witch-hunters led by Hansel (McGillion), pursuing the head (Doherty) of an evil coven...while seeking to avenge his sister, Gretl, who was kidnapped when they were children. Low-budget made-for-the SyFy Channel fantasy-adventure suffers from cheap effects, poorly staged fights, and a plot that basically involves a small cast wandering around a forest. One can appreciate that it's played straight (as opposed to falling back on the crutch of camp) but it leans too far the other way, the actors saddled with awkwardly stilted dialogue. On paper it should be a decent enough cast, but McGillion may be a bit miscast, with Ullerup and American actress Doherty delivering the best performances...though Boylan is actually the most sympathetic. This aired shortly before the conceptually similar, big budget Hollywood movie "Hansel & Gretl". sc: Brook Durham (story Angela Mancuso). dir: Mario Azzopardi. - extreme violence.- 86 min.
WITHOUT MALICE *
* 1/2 setting: CDN./USA.
(2000) Craig Sheffer, Jennifer Beals, Corey Haim, Gabrielle Anwar, Ian Black, Iain MacLean, Dan Macdonald, Blaine Hart.....Two Americans -- a slightly shady plastic surgeon (Sheffer) and his guileless, ex-con, soon-to-be brother-in-law (Haim) -- come to Canada to do some hunting...but a death leads to attempts at a cover up. Not great but -- surprisingly -- an agreeable little time killer, sort oof trying to be a refined suspense-drama rather than the lurid thriller you might expect from a straight-to-video quickie. And it even admits it's set (mainly) in Canada -- though why it's winter in Canada, but not in Chicago, is a mystery. Beals, as a Park Ranger, even puts on a Canadian accent -- all the more remarkable given that, with a movie like this, she probably didn't have much prep time. Sheffer, Beals, and Anwar (in a small, thankless part as Sheffer's fiancée) are all Hollywood imports. sc: Peter Layton. dir: Rob King. 92 min.
THE WITNESS FILE *
* setting: USA.
(1998) (/U.S.) Yancy Butler, David Nerman, Barry Flatman, Mathew Harbour, Alan Fawcett, Lynne Adams, Lisa Bronwyn Moore.....An American ex-convict/disguise expert (Butler) is coerced by a District Attorney (Flatman) into giving false evidence, but when she balks, he tries to kill her to cover himself...and she decides to turn the tables. Made-for-cable suspenser has a relatively off-beat premise, and benefits from (the underrated) American actress Butler's performance, but even then the movie is only passably entertaining...and really starts to drag in the last half hour. One of the Tales of Intrigue. sc: Cameron Kent. dir: Douglas Jackson. - violence.- 94 min.
Intelligent, entertaining and informative. It featured some really big name guest stars -- both Canadian and foreign -- many giving some of the better performances of their careers, including: William Hutt as Columbus, Richard Dreyfuss as Billy the Kid, Robert Vaughn as Thomas Pain, Donald Sutherland in a two parter as Norman Bethune and many others.
The premise, ridiculously cheap to do (providing you have good actors and research) proved remarkably resilient. In the mid-'70s, a U.S. series called "Meeting of Minds" used a similar premise and was hosted by Steve Allen -- who earlier had portrayed George Gershwin in this series (coincidence?) while in the '80s, Watson starred in an almost identical Canadian series called Titans. Finally, in 1998 a whole new series of Witness to Yesterday episodes was produced for the fledgling History Television cable station, still with Watson as star/interviewer/frequent writer. The new episodes were pretty good, though maybe a little less effective than the originals: a little more dry and pretentious and not always as effective at conveying the historical nuts and bolts that, after all, is the series' raison d'etre. Conversely, the new series featured more episodes featuring non-white historical figures/actors (the original only filmed one episode with a non-white character: Geronimo -- though metis actor August Schellenberg appeared twice, once as Geronimo, and once as Rasputin). Created by Arthur Voronka. Half-hour episodes.
The Wives of the Bath, a novel by Susan Swan,
served as the inspiration for the movie, Lost
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