A full decade ahead of the New Wavelet Christian Jacque, Louis Jouvet and a belle equipe were showing the Godards and Truffauts how the Big Boys do it and neither Godard nor Truffaut ever made anything even remotely as good as this and Godard never will. It all comes together like clockwork from Henri Jeanson’s caustic script, written at times with a quill dipped in vitriol, to Christian Jaque’s perfect direction which coaxes performances close to perfection from Louis Jouvet on down. Ludmilla Tcherina is especially effective in her very first film which gives her lots of chances to remind us that she was first and foremost a great ballerina and Francois Perier shines as the callow youth besotted with her to the point of attempted suicide. Louis Seigner was still popping up fairly regularly in films at this time (1946) and etches a standout portrait of a ruthless businessman prepared to sacrifice his son on the altar of Mammon and let us not forget Marguerite Moreno adding yet another unforgettable portrait to her gallery of grotesques. Continue reading
A word from an expert on the area: dbmonteil of the IMDb:
“La Foire aux chimères” is a jewel, a sparkling diamond. It would deserve one hundred comments, and that would not be enough.
Pierre Chenal was a film noir director who made moderately successful movies before the war: “L’Alibi” which featured von Stroheim too and his first version of “The Postman always rings twice “, “Le Dernier Tournant (1939). But the 1946 work is much superior, being at once a film noir, a baroque melodrama and a fairy tale.
Frank, a disfigured man (von Stroheim) meets at a fair a beautiful blind long-haired blonde Jeanne (Madeleine Sologne) who is a knives thrower’s partner; this man, Robert, has a lover, Clara. Jeanne marries the ugly man, undergoes an operation and recovers sight. But,as says Marilou, Frank’s housekeeper a proverb says “happiness is a misfortune you cannot see”. Continue reading
Northern Lawyer John Reynolds (John Wayne) goes up against the lottery racket in 1880 corrupt Louisiana.
While on the riverboat to New Orleans, he meets and falls in love with Southern Belle, Julie (Ona Munson), General Anatole Mirbeau’s beautiful daughter. The General (Henry Stephenson) and his right-hand man Blackburn ‘Blackie’ Williams (Ray Middleton) run the popular Louisiana State Lottery Company, which support illegal activities and brothels while corrupting judges and other city officials. The battle between the men are complicated with Reynolds’ love for the General’s daughter and interrupted by torrential rain storms that breaks the levees, floods the city and threatens to destroy the city of New Orleans.
Stylishly directed by Bernard Vorhaus who had previously directed John Wayne in the memorable drama, Three Faces West. Includes an early performance by Dorothy Dandridge (Carmen Jones). Continue reading
A post-WWII romantic comedy that explores the effects of the war on American marriage, this film stars Fred MacMurray and Paulette Goddard as Peter and Mary Morley, a pair of constantly fighting attorneys. They are on the verge of breaking up their marriage when the war breaks out. Mary goes into the Women’s Army Corps, and when she returns after the war, she’s no longer sure if she wants a divorce. In her absence, however, Peter has hooked up with Gloria Fay (Arleen Whelan), who demands that he sign the divorce papers. In turn, Jack Lindsay (MacDonald Carey, one of Peter’s clients, has fallen for Mary, but he doesn’t want to move in with her until the divorce is official. ~ Michael Betzold, All Movie Guide Continue reading
From start to finish this little known throwback to the best mad-cap screwball comedies of the 1930s is guaranteed to tickle the most jaded funny bone. Vincent Doane, played by Fred MacMurray, is a successful advertising executive who has come under severe scrutiny by his wife of five years, Paula, played by the gorgeous Madeleine Carroll, for the simple reason that he has been keeping rather late nights trying to woo a rather wealthy client, a Mr. Fraser, into signing a lucrative contract. The problem is Paula has serious doubts about the veracity of her husband’s story, thinking that Mr. Fraser is in reality, well, you guessed it. In order to cover up the real identity of his client–and it really is a client–Vincent goes to great lengths, entangling himself further and further into a hilarious web of lies and misadventures that, in the hands of a master comedian like Fred MacMurray, are simply unforgettable. The give-and-take between MacMurray and Carroll is in the best vein of their previous pairings, and despite the fact that this would be their fifth, and final film together, their marvelous on-screen chemistry shows no indication of flagging. Continue reading
Review from the Criterion website :
This was Roberto Rossellini’s revelation, a harrowing drama about the Nazi occupation of Rome and the brave few who struggled against it. Though told with more melodramatic flair than the other films that would form this trilogy and starring some well-known actors—Aldo Fabrizi as a priest helping the partisan cause and Anna Magnani in her breakthrough role as the fiancée of a resistance member—Rome Open City (Roma città aperta) is a shockingly authentic experience, conceived and directed amid the ruin of World War II, with immediacy in every frame. Marking a watershed moment in Italian cinema, this galvanic work garnered awards around the globe and left the beginnings of a new film movement in its wake. Continue reading
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A supposedly superior remake of the 1938 Swedish film of the same name that starred Ingrid Bergman. It’s based on the French play Il etait une fois by Francis De Croisset and written by Donald Ogden Stewart and Elliot Paul. Capable studio director George Cukor (“The Women”/”Susan and God”) does his usual fine job handling actors, creating a finely drawn tense atmosphere as he makes the best of this ridiculous courtroom melodrama into a pleasing film despite the inane dialogue and incredulous machinations in the storytelling. Joan Crawford jumped at the chance to star in this juicy role despite having to play a facially disfigured woman (at least for half the film), which she was advised by even Louis B. Mayer (MGM head) that it could be costly for the glamour actress in the future. Instead it turned out to be one of her more acclaimed roles and did nothing but promote her career further as a serious dramatic actress (she won an Oscar for Mildred Pierce in 1945, which she claims this film had a cumulative effect in helping her win that award). Crawford’s scar makeup was credited to Jack Dawn, who created makeup for such films as The Wizard of Oz (1939) and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941). Continue reading