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THE PRIME OF MISS JEAN BRODIE
1969, 20th Century Fox, 116 min, UK, Dir: Ronald Neame

Miss Jean Brodie is a teacher at a Scottish girls’ school in the 1930s who rankles fellow faculty members with her free-thinking lessons and inordinate sway over her young charges. One of those is prize pupil Sandy (an exceptional Pamela Franklin), who comes to learn that her teacher has a manipulative side. Directed by Ronald Neame and adapted by Jay Presson Allen from her play, the film is a tour de force for Maggie Smith, who earned a Best Actress Oscar in the title role. (Rod McKuen’s bittersweet “Jean” also earned Academy recognition, garnering a Best Song nomination).


HOOK
1991, Sony Repertory, 144 min, USA, Dir: Steven Spielberg

Robin Williams stars as grown-up Peter Pan, now a businessman glued to his cellphone and woefully lacking a sense of magic or imagination, who is forced to face his Neverland past when his children are abducted by Captain Hook (a nefarious Dustin Hoffman). Steven Spielberg’s popcorn sequel of sorts to the J.M. Barrie classic is a rip-roaring good time, heightened by immersive set design and a colorful cast of prestige supporting players, including Julia Roberts as Tinkerbell, Bob Hoskins as Smee and Maggie Smith as Granny Wendy.


MURDER BY DEATH
1976, Sony Repertory (Columbia), 94 min, USA, Dir: Robert Moore

Eccentric millionaire Truman Capote invites six of the world’s greatest detectives to his mansion for “dinner and a murder.” When the sleuths (Peter Sellers, David Niven, Maggie Smith, James Coco, Peter Falk and Elsa Lanchester) arrive and discover that the host is the apparent victim, they attempt to solve the puzzle and survive the evening themselves. Neil Simon’s dazzling script parodies virtually all the conventions of the murder mystery while throwing in enough red herrings to keep the audience guessing until the very end. With Alec Guinness.


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