Here’s that cuddly, romantic, back-to-school vibe again. The persistent, friendly northern chill in the browning foliage (shot, as it happens, in Canada) and on the cast’s rosy-cheeked faces may be the only aspects of this award winner (set, happily, in an old private school in the woods) that doesn’t feel silly and dated today. But since most autumn movies tend to be either hair-raising or cynical, Children of a Lesser God offers a snuggle-on-the-couch alternative, complete with motormouth William Hurt at his peculiar best, Marlee Matlin‘s passionate debut, and a happy ending.
Not every American city has an origin myth like Las Vegas does, and if you love Sin City, you’ll dig Bugsy, a too-serious Barry Levinson–Warren Beatty tribute to Vegas-planning, psychopath gangster Bugsy Siegel. If you don’t agree that Vegas was worth all of the angst, the money, and the bodies in the desert, you’re not going there, anyway. With Annette Bening, who became Mrs. Beatty.
Easily the most thoroughgoing War of Independence film ever made in Hollywood—there aren’t many competitors, which says something about how interested Americans truly have been about their own history—this silly anachronism is also an eager-to-please Broadway musical put on film. Still, it has its devotees, and besides, the facts are there, a good deal of the dialogue consists of historically accurate attributed quotes, the cast is game, and the anticonservative number “Cool, Cool, Considerate Men” is included on video versions of the film, after having been initially cut by studio chief Jack Warner at the behest of President Richard Nixon.
Audrey Hepburn won an Oscar her first time out with this expert postwar romance (she’s a bored princess; Gregory Peck’s a cynical American reporter), shot entirely in Rome and utilizing virtually every recognizable tourist spot in the city, from the Spanish Steps to the Colosseum.