movie film review | chris tookey
harsh reviews
An A to Z of the World's Deadliest Movie Reviews From Affleck
to Zeta Jones
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Arthur Penn
Director, The Chase (1966)
Lillian Hellman has not been able to write even one trash scene that bites or stings or even makes coherent sense. The fact that the film is so ludicrous can be largely credited to her, though the ineptitude of Arthur Penn's high school thespian play direction contributes heavily to the holocaust.
(Rex Reed)
Director, Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
So incompetently written, acted, directed and produced it would not be worth noticing were a claque not attempting to promote the idea that its sociopathology is art. There is evil in the tone of the writing, acting and direction of this film, the calculated effect of which is to incite in the young the delusion that armed robbery and murder are mere “happenings”. Who directed? Arthur Penn, whose artistic integrity is about on the level of Beatty's acting ability - i.e., close to zero.
(Films in Review)
A cheap piece of baldfaced slapstick comedy that treats the hideous depradations of that sleazy, moronic pair as though they were as full of fun and frolic as the jazz-age cut-ups in Thoroughly Modern Millie. This blending of farce with brutal killings is as pintless as it lacking in taste, since it makes no valid commentary upon the already travestied truth. And it leaves an astonished critic wondering just what purpose Mr Penn and Mr Beatty think they serve with this strangely antique, sentimental claptrap.
(Bosley Crowther, New York Times)
Producer Beatty and Director Arthur Penn have elected to tell their tale of bullets and blood in a strange and purposeless mingling of fact and claptrap that teeters uneasily on the brink of burlesque. Like Bonnie and Clyde themselves, the film rides off in all directions and ends up full of holes.
Director, Alice’s Restaurant (1969)
Poor stuff, Penn's only really inadequate film. It's not so much that [he] aims high and falls short... it's that he aims everywhere. He introduces ambivalence and hope it will be mistaken for significance instead of confusion.
(Clive James, New Society)
As lacking in originality as the song: mild, well-meaning, aimless and as nourishing as a bag of stale popcorn.
(Penelope Mortimer, Observer)
Somewhere along the way (or so it would seem from the film’s seesawing uncertainties of tone), Penn appears to have sensed that all this is not really heaven, and that flower children, too, can be uptight, have problems, destroy themselves, or reach thirty. This is the news that Alice’s Restaurant brings, to which at least one possible response might be: So what?
(William S. Pechter, Commentary, 1970)
Arthur Penn, the director and co-scenarist, apparently cannot make up his mind whether he laughs with or laughs at the hippies and their world. Either attitude is possible; in the hands of a very great artist, which Penn emphatically is not, the two might perhaps coexist. Here, the warring attitudes produce fragmentation and nervous dishevelment. The breath is pummelled out of the spectator, and the meaning out of the film.
(John Simon, National Review)
A formless, pointless, plotless piece of trash directed by Arthur Penn, who should know better. The acting is uniformly nauseating and so is the picture. You don't have to actually eat in Alice's Restaurant to get ptomaine; just see the movie.
(Rex Reed)
Key to Symbols