1941-1950

Irving Rapper – The Adventures of Mark Twain (1944)

Plot:
He was a riverboat pilot, reporter, penniless prospector, Civil War dropout, would-be entrepreneur, loving family man, world traveler, pomposity burster and raconteur. It turns out the man who created adventures for Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn and a Connecticut Yankee led a mighty adventurous life himself. “Truth is a very valuable thing,” says Fredric March’s Mark Twain. “I believe we should be economical with it.” And that sets the tone for what follows: a lovingly crafted Hollywoodized biopic tracing the immortal humorist’s life from Hannibal boyhood to Big River exploits to global literary lion and more. Riverboat’s a-comin’, hop aboard – with Tom, Huck, Jim and above all, Samuel Langhorne Clemens. From Warner Brothers! Read More »

Julien Duvivier – Panique AKA Panic [2018 Restoration + Extras] (1946)

Criterion wrote:
Proud, eccentric, and antisocial, Monsieur Hire (Michel Simon) has always kept to himself. But after a woman turns up dead in the Paris suburb where he lives, he feels drawn to a pretty young newcomer to town (Viviane Romance), discovers that his neighbors are only too ready to suspect the worst of him, and is framed for the murder. Based on a novel by Georges Simenon, Julien Duvivier’s first film after his return to France from Hollywood finds the acclaimed poetic realist applying his consummate craft to darker, moodier ends. Propelled by its two deeply nuanced lead performances, the tensely noirish Panique exposes the dangers of the knives-out mob mentality, delivering as well a pointed allegory for the behavior of Duvivier’s countrymen during the war. Read More »

Alfred Hitchcock – Saboteur (1942)

Review: Robert Cummings stars as Barry Kane, a patriotic munitions worker who is falsely accused of sabotage, in this wartime thriller from Alfred Hitchcock. Plastered across the front page of every newspaper and hated by the nation, Kane’s only hope of clearing his name is to find the real villain. If this sounds a bit like Hitchcock’s later North by Northwest, it is. There are interesting echoes throughout, including a heart-stopping sequence on top of a national monument. But the most interesting thing about Saboteur is the frequency with which characters demonstrate their willingness to obstruct the police, going on nothing more than the fact that Kane seems like a stand-up guy. Read More »

Charles Barton – Smooth as Silk (1946)

Lawyer Kent Taylor (Mark) helps writer John Litel (Steve) by defending his relative Danny Morton (Don) in a drink-driving case where he is guilty. Taylor manipulates witness accounts so that Morton goes free and he does this on the understanding that Litel will give his girlfriend Virginia Grey (Paula), the lead role in his new play. Well, after the court case, Litel goes back on his word and, understandably, Taylor is not happy, especially when Grey’s true character begins to reveal herself as she ruthlessly pushes her self-interest. Time for a murder…… Read More »

Carol Reed – The Young Mr. Pitt (1942)

Synopsis:
William Pitt the Younger, son of a famous politician father, becomes the youngest Prime Minister England has ever known, wins an election on the promise of peace and prosperity, yet ironically ends up as the presiding spirit of an interminable war with Revolutionary France. Both his health and his private life suffer from the strain. Read More »

Ivan Pyryev – Skazanie o zemle sibirskoy AKA The Tale of Siberian Land (1947)

From Mosfilm:
Andrey Balashov, a pianist, had to quit music after being wounded during the Great Patriotic War. Having failed to say goodbye to his friends and Natasha whom he loved he left for Siberia. He worked at the construction of an industrial complex and sang in a teahouse. An accidental meeting with his friends and Natasha changed his life. Andrey left for the Arctic region where being inspired by heroic labor of the builders he wrote a symphonic oratorio «Tale of Siberian Land» that won everybody’s recognition and made him popular in Moscow where Natasha was looking forward to see her true-love. Read More »

Alfred Hitchcock – Rope (1948)

Rope (1948) is a film written by Hume Cronyn and Arthur Laurents, produced and directed by Alfred Hitchcock, and starring James Stewart, John Dall and Farley Granger. It is the first of Hitchcock’s Technicolor films, and is notable for taking place in real time and being edited so as to appear as a single continuous shot through the use of long takes. Read More »