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Sure, sure, sure. Robert Redford was coming to town. But, as some of us knew, it was so much bigger than that: "The Natural" was coming to town. That's why we, in the Buffalo News' Arts Department, gathered in the third floor's big conference room -- usually reserved for governors and such -- to talk it over. We were a bit of an unruly bunch in the summer of 1983. We…

A few years ago, when the topic of "The Natural" came up out of nowhere as it often does in certain circles, a friend told me he was in it. I reacted as many of us do when we hear such information: I said "Get out!" and begged to know everything. Pressed about his star turn, my friend conceded that his name wasn't in the credits, he didn't speak in the film and you coul…

It sounded like a prank. A guy called the Buffalo Bisons. He said he was from Los Angeles. He said his name was Mel Bourne. He was working on a baseball movie and needed a stadium that could look like it came from the 1930s. Conveniently, Buffalo's then-baseball park, War Memorial Stadium, did come from the 1930s. It was built as a New Deal project in 1937. Bourne…

If you've never watched a classic film before, what's a good one to start? We asked Ben Mankiewicz, television host for Turner Classic Movies, who will be in town Oct. 21 for a TCM Backlot showing of "The Natural" at North Park Theatre. He didn't have a simple answer; the question is deceptively nuanced. "There's so much risk with it," he said. "If you're introducing…

Liam Neeson - all 6 foot 5 inches of him with shoulders as wide as North Carolina - doesn't throw anyone across the room in "Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought the White House Down." You can practically hear echoes of his sighs of relief from here. I had a weird reaction to the movie. After an hour of everyone conniving, spying, backstabbing and befouling civic life in Wash…

Its explosive ending abandoned its Bernard Malamud-authored source material. Its missed opportunities in character development have been panned by the likes of the late Roger Ebert; and obvious plot holes can be noted by even the most novice viewer. And is it really believable that an accomplished sportswriter would forget about the shooting of a top baseball prospect…

Ben Mankiewicz is from Washington, D.C.. He lives in Los Angeles, and does a lot of work in Atlanta. Mankiewicz is a big-city guy, but a big-city guy who has a big passion for smaller cities. Cities like Buffalo. Good thing, because Mankiewicz is coming here this week. The television host of Turner Classic Movies will be in town Oct. 21 for a TCM Backlot event featur…

Even the casual movie fan knows Humphrey Bogart, a name that immediately conjures images from the beloved "Casablanca" or perhaps one of his smoldering dramas with Lauren Bacall like "Key Largo." But "In a Lonely Place," considered by many as one of the greats in the film noir genre, should also be high on the list of Bogey's best. It's the next movie in "Noir Essential…

One thing Kevin Tent did not have to do to be considered a Hollywood success is direct a movie. Tent, a 57-year-old native of Marilla, has been a top film editor in Hollywood for more than two decades. He has more than four dozen movies on his credit sheet, including several with the noted director Alexander Payne. (Tent was nominated for an Oscar for his work on Payne…

"I loved filming in Buffalo," said "Marshall" director Reginald Hudlin. "The entire crew loved filming in Buffalo." Luckily for Buffalo, you can see it in half of the film's scenes, at least. "First of all, it's a beautiful city. And you can get that beauty onscreen. You have that beauty in your life. It was really just being in a place with water and trees and beautifu…

"Marshall" is a film of small pleasures about a giant figure. The giant figure is Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American Supreme Court justice and, far more consequentially, the crusading civil rights lawyer who shepherded "Brown vs. Board of Education" to a Supreme Court triumph in 1954. That's the case which officially ended official segregation. White America …

When all of 2017's accounting – financial AND cultural – is over, it's a fair bet that Patty Jenkins' "Wonder Woman" starring Gal Gadot will turn out to be the film of the year. It's certainly one of them. For years, Wonder Woman had been consigned to pop cultural history and nostalgia for a camp TV show starring Lynda Carter. Then, finally, came a Big Budget m…

Let me offer this as a personal microcosm of why silence had, for decades, surrounded the stories of toxic behavior by Harvey Weinstein that have become a hurricane of shame. Weinstein made it possible for me to have a one-on-one interview with Madonna in 1991, at the height of her fame and influence. Her self-portrait "Truth or Dare" was coming out from his company Mir…

The Screening Room's Halloween Horrorfest is an intense celebration of horror films with a decades-long span of films. The schedule ranges from the 1922 silent vampire film "Nosferatu" to the immortally bad "Plan 9 from Outer Space," the George A. Romero zombie classic "Night of the Living Dead" and even two Dario Argento films ("Deep Red" and "Cat O'Nine Tails"). At 9:…

“Don’t-miss event” is an overused phrase, but in this case, it’s true for movie fans. On Oct. 11, the North Park Theatre is hosting two extraordinary silent horror films. There will be live scores performed by the   Austin band The Invincible Czars for both films. Starting the event at 7 p.m. is the rare opportunity to see the 1920 John Barrymore version of …