You do not have to be abnormally sensitive to detect irony in Warren Beatty treating the life of American communist and journalist John Reed -- or that part of his life tangled up with Louise Bryant -- on the cinematic scale of late-period David Lean: a forty-million-dollar monument to Conspicuous Consumption. Notwithstanding the novelty of making a Hollywood movie about a Leftist luminary, the thing that puts Reds smack dab in the middle of Hollywood tradition, much more so even than its cast of thousands, its epic scope, or its exquisitely frosted photography, is its star-centered, hero-centered construction -- a point which can be made without imputing any additional egomania to Beatty's producer-director-co-writer responsibilities. The movie divides its time between Reed's political life and his private life, a division perceived by Beatty almost in terms of the career-vs.-marriage formula of Hollywood Past, and even at three and a half hours it seems to short-change both. With Diane Keaton (as Bryant), Jack Nicholson (as Eugene O'Neill), Edward Herrmann (as Max Eastman), and Maureen Stapleton (as Emma Goldman). (1981) — Duncan Shepherd
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