Though Willow was one of director Ron Howard's few box-office disappointments, it definitely deserves a second look. At once an epic celebration and a gentle spoof of the sword-and-sorcery genre, the film concerns the efforts by little person Willow Ufgood (Warwick Davis) to protect a sacred infant from the machinations of a wicked queen (Jean Marsh). One source book has assessed the picture as a combination of The Ten Commandments and Snow White. This is true enough, except that neither one of those properties offered such offbeat casting choices as Billy Barty and Jean Marsh. Executive producer George Lucas has (through the conduit of screenwriter Bob Dolman) added elements of his own Star Wars saga to the stew. The results are generally satisfactory, though the film is sometimes weighed down by too much plot, and the action sequences may not be suitable for very young children.
Henry Hill is a small time gangster, who takes part in a robbery with Jimmy Conway and Tommy De Vito, two other gangsters who have set their sights a bit higher. His two partners kill off everyone else involved in the robbery, and slowly start to climb up through the hierarchy of the Mob. Henry, however, is badly affected by his partners' success, but will he stoop low enough to bring about the downfall of Jimmy and Tommy?
Paul Newman plays Reggie Dunlop, the coach of a pathetic minor-league American hockey team. His career at a standstill and his marriage in tatters, Dunlop has nothing to lose by taking on a new group of players who are one evolutionary step above Neanderthals. Only when the team begins winning does he decide to get behind these players, and to encourage the rest of the team to play as down-and-dirty as the newcomers. Straight-arrow team member Ned Braden (Michael Ontkean) resents this influx of gonzo talent, preferring to play clean. As the film's multitude of subplots play themselves out, Dunlop does his best to keep the outraged Braden on the team. Slap Shot is the sort of film for which the "R" rating was invented: Its nonstop barrage of profanity and its raunchy action sequences are of such intensity that the film will probably never be shown intact on commercial television.
This award-winning six-part historical epic was one of the first examples of the miniseries format and one of the highest-rated television programs in broadcasting history. Based on the best-selling novel by author Alex Haley, Roots chronicles the progress of Haley's own family across many generations, from the kidnapping of an African warrior by American slave traders to eventual post-Civil War freedom.