Reds 1981

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For Warren Beatty to take the life of John Reed, a key participant in the 1917 Russian revolution, and make it into a Gone With The Wind epic might seem like an act of Hollywood hubris; his 1981 film is anything but, a detailed, accessible and fascinating bio-pic, full of strong scenes and performances. Beatty plays Reed, who hooks up with Louise Bryant (Diane Keaton) and heads over to Russia to document the birth of communism, with a love triangle featuring Eugene O’Neill (Jack Nicholson) as counterpoint. Beatty doesn’t shy away from speeches, and even uses the International anthem for a stirring montage, but he also keeps a tight grip of audience sympathies, with a running joke about hitting heads of low lights typical of the crowd-pleasing film. Beatty and Keaton are both excellent, and Nicholson burns up the screen in his brief but telling cameo.

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