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This Oscar-winning drama, based on the writing of Lillian Hellman, depicts the relationship between two friends and its unexpected consequences. After Lillian, a renowned playwright, reunites in Russia with her childhood playmate Julia, the writer is recruited to smuggle funds into Germany to aid the anti-Nazi movement. Waiting in the wings is Lillian's lover and mentor, Dashiell Hammett, who is unaware of her dangerous assignment.Written by
During a sailing shot, as the boat containing Julia and Lilian tracks away from the camera, the gunnel of the boat containing the camera crew is clearly visible for an instant in the lower left of the frame. See more »
[after reading Lillian's play]
You better tear this up. It's not that it's bad, it's just not good enough, not for you.
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Just cast an eye at the credits (Jane Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave, Jason Robards, Maximillian Schell, Hal Holbroke, Meryl Streep, John Glover and others directed by Fred Zinneman in a story by Lillian Hellman) and you know this film is worth seeing. It delivers fabulous performances by some of the best actors of our time, in a carefully -- yeah, sumptuously -- produced film directed by one of Hollywood's most respected veterans, based on a narrative by a gifted dramatist and tale-spinner.
The screenplay blends the two longest episodes in Lillian Hellman's PENTIMENTO, the third, most engaging, and most imaginative of her memoirs. It traces the (largely factual) struggle of Hellman to develop her talents as a playwright under the tutelage of her long-time lover, Dashiell Hammett, and the (largely fictional) course of her friendship with an anti-Nazi activist. The character of Julia seems to be part fantasy, part composite of women Hellman admired.
The film suffers from this blend of fact and fiction and even more from the episodic nature of the intermixed stories. In addition (and to its credit), it does not minimize Hellman's famously abrasive personality. But the characters are so compelling, the performances so outstanding, and the pacing so canny that it holds the viewer's interest for a full two hours.
A flawed but fascinating flick!
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