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Reilly: Ace of Spies (1983)
One of the finest TV miniseries ever made.
Sam Neill's grand entrance into the American consciousness via this exciting and extremely intriguing true story of a (British? Polish? Russian? Russian emigre?) spy who uncovers Stalin and Nicholas Djerjinsky's secret counterespionage group designed to nullify any effect of the Russian anti-Bolshevik emigres on the growth of Soviet Communism in the Russian Empire. Neill does an entirely convincing job in conveying a mysterious personality of dubious ethics and integrity but unavoidable intelligence and savvy, who actually did exist and whose story is a fascinating footnote to the early years of Bolshevik supremacy in what was to become the Soviet Union. The television miniseries was later made into a film that covered much, but not all, of the territory and the intrigue of the original. Would anyone happen to know if the individual episodes are available on videotape, or just this abridged version?
Battlefield Earth (2000)
A very poor promotion for Scientology and little else.
L. Ron Hubbard's 1950's-style science fiction promo for Scientology has been made into an equally bad film. The plot is antiquated and harkens back to the late 40's when Hubbard, shipped out of the Navy after a dismal service record, joined the action sci-fi genre pioneered by Doc Smith, Van Vogt and others, to create mega-hero stories about men who did everything right while they battled transparently awful villains. In his book Hubbard pitted the remains of humankind, led by an arch-hero modeled after the old space opera heroes of the 40's and 50's who can do no wrong and who always wins, against the evil Psychlos, so named because, as Hubbard states at the end of the book, they were basically a good people until someone invented psychology which taught them that they were animals and thereby divested them of any spiritual or ethical basis to their society. Whereupon they spread through the galaxy, destroying populations and raping worlds. Hubbard in his paranoia always felt that the major impediment to society accepting Scientology, which is essentially a form of psychoanalysis whose invention he spearheaded, was the active antagonism of organized psychology and psychiatry, both of which were out to get him and to stop Scientology because "they knew it really worked." Each of Hubbard's childishly-written scifi epics since the 50's has implicitly battled against Psychology, hence the name "Psychlos". Look no further for the support of Scientologists for the film or for Travolta's compulsive and self-destructive desire to see the movie made at any cost - it was imperative that society "wake up" to the menace of psychology and to their reality that Scientology provided the only truly workable psychoanalysis in existence, and that it should be embraced by everyone as Scientologists attempt to "clear the Planet."
But Hubbard was such a poor (yet prolific) writer that it is only the massive financial power of organized Scientology, which charges a small fortune for its "religious" services (i.e. psychoanalysis renamed "pastoral counseling"), that has moved along his books to best-seller status. That, and clever advance sales and coordinated drop shipping of titles to make that one-week punch on the NY Times bestseller list. But that's not enough to rescue a scifi movie that is patently awful and may well spell the end of Travolta's ever being taken seriously again by Hollywood or by anyone seriously interested in the cinema industry.
An excellent film!
One of the very best films I have ever seen and worth seeing again and again. It has realism, romance, historical integrity, excellent cinematography, and superb acting by an international cast. Mel Gibson was excellent start to finish and Patrick McGoohan was superb; you'll remember him from TV's "The Prisoner."