Reds (1981) is a one of those movies that I have such nostalgically fond memories of that I feared it would not stand up to my seasoned adult standards. Happily, I find that it does stand up and is even better than I remembered. I didn’t remember it providing so much food for thought about communism, the Bolshevik Revolution, the individual’s power to make a difference, the United States political system, journalism and so on… I didn’t really quite get the movie back when I first saw in the theater, I guess. And besides it being really about something important, it is also very entertaining. I could barely do a crossword and watch this movie (that means I REALLY liked it). This early 20th Century love story of John Reed, journalist and American Communist, and writer Louise Bryant, is so fun to watch develop. The lovers are played by Warren Beatty and Diane Keaton. Beatty is much cuter and more charming than I remembered and Keaton, after reflecting on her recent light-weight roles, is a much better actress than I remembered. The two challenge each other intellectually with witty and smart banter. It is indeed a feat to make a movie that is a sweeping 3 hour saga that doesn’t get bogged down by stray storylines or indulgent scenes by the actor/director/producer Beatty. The structure of the film is anchored by Reed and Bryant leaving each other and finding one another in unexpected and suspenseful ways: at a party, in a New York apartment, on a train heading toward Russia, and finally and most memorably when they reunite, again in Russia, in a train station. It’s one of the great scenes of filmdom! So, if you’ve never seen Reds, you must, and if you have vague fond memories, seeing it again is very enjoyable.
By the way, it is also fun to watch the DVD extras where Warren Beatty reflects in 2006, 15 years later about the making of the film. The extras on this DVD are actually interesting.