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St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri • Page 91
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St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri • Page 91

St. Louis, Missouri
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FftlDAY, DECEMBER 18, 1987 ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH 3P REVIEWS FILM BILL McCLELLAN "THE LAST EMPEROR" A Man Of Truth Paid Dearly For Courage I Richard Vuu as the young Pu Yi in "The Last time and still evoke the spectrum of emotions that the director achieves. (At the Galleria, Northwest Square, Regency, Sunset.) MARC ANDERSON used to sell newspapers on the street corners. A little waif of a kid, the kind of child Charles Dickens would write about if he were writing today. If you have a big heart and some spare change, you buy a paper from a kid like that even if you get the newspaper delivered. But God blessed Marc with a big, bear-like body, and by the time the kid was 12, he was too big to pass as a waif. He got a job in a steakhouse on Grand Boulevard. He did the cleaning, the dirty work. Of course, he was going to school, too. Even poor kids from broken homes get a free education. Lately, there have been studies that seem to indicate that kids who work while they go to school aren't learning self-discipline and the value of a buck, but instead are learning to get by in school in low gear. These kids use their money to buy frivolous things, the studies say. Not so with Marc. He worked hard in school, and he turned most of his money over to his mom. When Trifon Panopoulas, who was co-owner of the steakhouse, bought the Missouri Bar and Grill a couple of years ago, he brought Marc with him to the saloon on Tucker Boulevard. That's where I met Marc. By then, Marc was no longer doing the dirty work. He was usually behind the counter dishing out food and making sandwiches. But if anybody dropped a glass and there have been more than a couple of glasses dropped at the Grill Marc was the first guy there with a broom or a mop. He never seemed to get angry, which, because of his size, was fortunate indeed for those of us who sometimes drop glasses. He was always pleasant without being subservient He mixed easily with the cops and the reporters and the other downtown sub-professionals who gather at the Grill to discuss the news of the day. Marc graduated from O'Fallon Tech and was attending Ranken Technical Institute. He was still working 30 hours a week or so sometimes more when this spring, he found himself in the news, albeit in a minor way. He was sitting on a porch talking to a friend, when that friend's uncle, whose name is Ricky Durham, ran into the house, came back out and drove away in a car. A similar car was seen at a nearby murder. Durham was arrested and charged with the murder. The victim was a mailman, and authorities claimed that Durham committed the murder because of a drug debt. Authorities also claimed that Durham was a drug dealer. I don't know about any of that but the word is that Durham came up with $50,000 cash to make his bond, so if he's not a drug dealer, he must have won the lottery. Marc was not the government's star witness, but his testimony was considered important if only because of his record, or rather the lack of a record. Usually in this kind of a case, the witnesses are as unsavory as the defendants. They testify because the government offers them a deal of some kind. Charges reduced, or dropped, in return for testimony. Seldom do good citizens choose to get involved. That's because the drug dealers are well known in their neighborhoods for their violence. I remember when Barbara Petty was murdered the day she was supposed to testify to a grand jury about her ex-husband, Sam. That was cold. Barbara was the mother of Sam's 7-year-old son. Earlier this year, Charles Taylor was murdered the day before he was supposed to testify against Charles Shurn, who authorities say inherited part of Petty's old business. Despite knowing about all this, Marc agreed to testify. One night some time after Durham was arrested for jumping his bond, Durham called Marc at the Grill. It was an intimidating call. He wanted to know what Marc had said to the grand jury. I "The truth," Marc said, and then he hung up. i Marc was scared, though, and the government wasn't much help. The U.S. attorney's office offered to take Marc out of town. But he had just paid his tuition at Ranken, and he didn't want to forfeit that money. Even if the governmentlhad offered to reimburse him and, it didn't Marc wouldn't have want-ed to leave his mother He told one of the beat cops that he was scared, and the beat cop put a notation in the Fourth District log. "If we ever get a 911 from the Grill, really hustle. We've got a federal witness working ther, and he's scared." I The night before Durham's trial was supposed to begin. Marc was shot and killed at the gas station next door to the Grill. I was at that scene, and it was overflowing with official heavies. Two assistant U.S. attorneys', postal inspectors, an assistant circuit attorney, narcotics detectives, homicide detectives, district detectives and various police brass. Everybody's a little I thought. The next morning, I went to federal court for Durham's trial. Because of the publicity surrounding Marc's murder, a mistrial; was declared. i As is so often the case with dope dealers, or lottery winners, several attractive young women were in attendance. They smiled at Durham, and he smiled back. He seemed to be feeling good. I went to Marc's funeral two days ago, and it was very emotional. I walked past the casket and thought about the phone call Durham had made to Marc. What did you tell them? Durham wanted to know. The truth, said Marc. That thought gave me some solace. Marc died for the truth. I've known a lot of guys who've died for a whole lot less. 'Rating: PG-13. Running Time: 2:43. By Joe Pollack Of the Post-Dispatch Staff WE ALL KNOW that truth is stranger than fiction and every now and then, we are reminded of the fact by something that strikes with the impact of a slap up the side of the head. "The Last Emperor" is exactly that. Bernardo Bertolucci's long, occasionally plodding movie a film that is only a fingernail short of reaching the epic status he aimed at is a truly remarkable tale, a story of an ordinary man placed in an extraordinary environment and living through world-changing times. Pu Yi was 3 years old in 1908 when he was named emperor of China, the last of the Qing dynasty, established in 1644, the last "Son of Heaven" to rule the country. His reign lasted only four years, but as boy and as young man, Pu Yi was regarded as the emperor, living in regal style in a 999-room palace, surrounded by servants, eunuchs, courtiers and consorts. He had no power he was not even permitted to leave the castle but he was surrounded by the trappings of power, and he believed. External leaders, from Sun Yat Sen through several different warlords to Chiang Kai-shek and the Kuomin-tang, believed that his presence was necessary, and he remained, living first in the palace and then in luxurious surroundings in Tientsin. After the Japanese invaded Manchuria in 1931 and renamed it Manchukuo, they made a variety of promises to Pu Yi, and he again became an emperor, soon learning that the Japanese would give him no more real power than the Chinese had. At the end of World War II, he was captured by the Russians and imprisoned for five years. He returned to China in 1950, again as a prisoner, and finally was pardoned in 1959. For the last eight years of his life, he lived in Beijing (formerly Peking), where he wrote his autobiography, "From Emperor to Citizen," and worked as a gardener. And if Pu Yi's adventures aren't enough, remember that we are dealing with a man who was born at the beginning of the age of aviation and lived to see jets, who saw single-shot, bolt-action rifles evolve into atomic bombs, who experienced the birth of the automobile age, the computer age, the antibiotic age, the jazz, swing and rock 'n' roll ages and lots more. It's mind-boggling. Bertolucci, who told much of the story of Italy over the first half of the century in "1900," is experienced in epics, in films whose budgets begin with 25,000 screaming extras. And his mettle is fully tested here. Mostly, it survives glory. With Vittorio Storaro, his longtime cinematographer, production designer Ferdinando Scarfiotti and editor Gabriella Cristiani deserving of major credit, Bertolucci has created a spectacular tapestry that fills both eye and ear. The sequences inside the Forbidden City are glorious. And as the first Westerners to be given permission to film there, Bertolucci and Storaro revel in the opportunity. The story begins with Pu Yi in prison, and is told mostly in a series of flashbacks. John Lone portrays the emperor from age 16 until his death at 62, with three youngsters showing him in various stage of his childhood. Lone, whose part calls primarily for reacting, is poised and splendid, and an audience develops immediate sympathy for the man. He ages gracefully and with considerable style. Joan Chen, last seen in "Taipan," here receives a chance to display her acting ability as well as her body, and is most impressive as his first and primary wife. She seems to understand a lot more than he does about his true role, and she battles impossible odds in a forthright and moving manner. The scene in which the 17-year-old Pu Yi beds both her and his secondary wife is bright, sensual and completely effective without ever pandering to nudity or sex for its own sake. Pu Yi had an English tutor, Reginald Johnston, and one of the film's ineffective areas involves Peter O'Toole in the role. It's almost as if O'Toole lost all interest, because he's weak where he should be strong and rarely brings any definition his character. The palace scenes and the crowd scenes are most impressive, and Bertolucci brings them forth with all sorts of flair. But there are small moments, when the boy emperor tries to leave the palace, and humorous ones, when he leads the court on a parade, that are bright, warm and moving. The length will test an audience's patience, and yet, in dealing with a subject as large as China and with a story as unusual as that of Pu Yi, it would have been almost impossible to do it in less "OVERBOARD" Rating: PG. Running time: 1:45 By Harper Barnes Of the Post-Dispatch Staff IN "Overboard," Goldie Hawn plays a very rich, useless GAP a generic American princess who falls off her yacht, gets amnesia and winds up being conned into thinking she is the wife of a slovenly handyman (Kurt Russell) and the mother to his four bratty sons. She has to learn to cook, do housework and care for her "family." In the beginning, she hates her new life, but needless to say as the movie progresses she turns from a spoiled girl into a woman. She civilizes Russell and his kids and learns to love them. And when the time comes to leave and go back to the yacht, she has to make a difficult choice. This basic plot is at least as old as the talkies, and the role is not all that different from some Hawn has played before, including "Private Benjamin." It has a lot more in common with "spoiled rich girl" comedies of the 1930s than with contemporary movies where a woman gets pregnant and, overcome by hormones, decides to quit being a rocket scientist and stay home to breast-feed junior and market quilts by mail. Hawn and Russell make a cute couple, and "Overboard" has a fair amount of charm. Like a lot of movies these days, it takes this one too long to end, but up until the last 20 minutes or so, it is a moderately entertaining, old-fashioned formula comedy. (At the Clarkson, Des Peres, Halls Ferry, Ken-rick, Regency, Ronnie's, Northwest Square, St. Clair, Village.) look like hybrids of a hubcap and a horseshoe crab show up and start helping them. About halfway into the movie, the spaceships have baby spaceships, and the plot veers from fantastic to just plain silly. But it is amusing when the people shut up and let the spaceships flip hamburgers and dance around in the air, which is about a fourth of the time. (At the Clarkson, Des Peres, Halls Ferry, Ken-rick, Northwest Plaza, Ronnie's, St Charles, St Clair, Village.) "HOUSE OF GAMES" Rating: (language). Running time: 1:42. By Joe Pollack Of the Post-Dispatch Staff IN A CONFIDENCE GAME, Mike explains, "I don't get the mark's confidence. I give him mine," and he proceeds to illustrate how it is played. I admit a weakness for stories like this, and that, plus the stylish acting of Joe Mantegna as the cool-eyed con man, is enough to overcome some outlandish plot holes and major credibility flaws and make "House of Games" an entertaining motion picture with-a nice, low-key, dark aura, perfectly described by the French phrase "film noir." It's also interesting to see playwright David Mamet Glen Ross," "American make his debut as a film director, with his off-screen wife, Lindsay Crouse, in the starring role. Mamet also wrote the screenplay, though he's not a rookie in that area, having written "The Untouchables" and "The Verdict," among others. Crouse, so cool and distant one can feel the chill emanating from her lake-clear blue eyes, is a psychiatrist who has written a popular book about people with compulsions. One of her clients is a young man, a compulsive gambler who says he will be killed if he doesn't clear up a $25,000 debt Crouse decides to take an active role in his problem and visits the pool hall of the film's title. Before she realizes it, she has met Mike and is watching a hot poker game. Before she cools off, she has backed Mike in a hand and written a $6,000 check when Ricky Jay shows up with a flush against Mike's three aces. The con is spoiled when a pistol, pulled by Jay, begins to drip water from its barrel. "Why did you fill the gun with water?" one of the onlookers screams. "What did you want me to do? Point an empty gun at her?" he replies. Jay, a magician and writer as well as an actor, is the author of "Learned Pigs and Fireproof Women," a wonderful book about carnival freaks, tricks of nature See REVIEWS, Page 10 6:00 7:00 pm 7.00 am-1 2 noon Sat. Sun. "BATTERIES NOT INCLUDED' Rating: PG. Running time: 1:20. By Harper Barnes Of the Post-Dispatch Staff KIDS FROM ABOUT 6 to 12 are probably the main audience for "Batteries Not Included," a sentimental, very derivative sci-fi comedy in which tiny spaceships upstage a human cast, including Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy. The PG rating is for a couple of lesser curse words and, perhaps, a highly inexplicit scene in which it is suggested that the spaceships are mating. An old couple played by Cronyn and Tandy, along with a few other oddballs, are last residents of an apartment building scheduled for demolition. They need "a miracle" to save their crumbling home. Then, a couple of spaceships that CALL 622-7111 to start daily and Sunday home delivery of the Post-Dispatch. ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH LEARANC All Remaining 'Almost Real' Trees Greatly Reduced ALE Buy Now Before Christmas At After Christmas Discounts UJ OFF All "Almost Rear Trees Limited to Stock -oo-Hand Tcee Size Style Reg. Sale lu Blue Imperial 79.00 $19.00 34 4-W Eastern Spruce 79.00 $19.00 6 6' Spruce $129.00 $32.00 66 6-W Douglas Fir $279.00 $69.00 87 7' Bavarian Pine $269.00 $67.00 86 7' PonderosaPine $379.00 95.00 10 10' Balsam $929.00 $232.00 to SSL vmm 12.99 After $5 rebate. Elsewhere $33 I 1 Chic Stonewashed Basic Classic Relaxed Denims! Limited To Stock On Hand See Us For Fully Decorated Display Trees Ask For Details At Stores All Wreaths YOUR CHOICE $15.00 Extraordinary surprises always happen this time of year. But 12.99?! For the world's best-fitting holiday Outrageous! This week. Colonel Day's brings you unbeatable savings on every Chic' style imaginable from jeans to skirts, whitewashed to stonewashed, blacks and grays to E.S.PT Stretch! Our entire stock of Chic9 jeans skirts on sale 12.99-24.99! After $5 Chic9 rebate. Elsewhere Hurry! Sale ends Christmas Eve! ST. PETERS 589S Sucmandy Dr. -(WO to ftM-Rrvar. 2 Mkt Vtct rt. on SucrrtBfKTy) 278-8182 HOURS: Daily 10-9 SaL9-Sun. 11-4 HAZELWOOD 7933 N. UfHfbargh (ImHot 1-270) 921-3600 AFFTON 1 1420 Concord Village Av. (Mwy. 21 4 Undbergh) 849-5043 Visit Mir saw Eurafca star start to Wal-Mart. Maotewood Page at 1-170 1-270 Florissant Alton Famm Heights Kjngsfwgfwray 1-70 a) Cave Springs Crystal Crty Lernay Ferry at Dndbergh Eroka YOUR FAMILY FUN IS OUR FAMILY BUSINESS

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