Billy Wilder – The Lost Weekend (1945)

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Don Birnam, long-time alcoholic, has been “on the wagon” for ten days and seems to be over the worst; but his craving has just become more insidious. Evading a country weekend planned by his brother Wick and girlfriend Helen, he begins a four-day bender. In flashbacks we see past events, all gone wrong because of the bottle. But this bout looks like being his last…one way or the other.

Fifty-six years have seen many advances in the level of realism portrayed on film, but it is safe to say that The Lost Weekend remains the benchmark against which all other films on alcoholism are measured. Its view is uncompromising yet it manages to present that view in a manner that does not require resorting to tasteless violence or nihilism to make its point (unlike, for example, a more recent film such as Leaving Las Vegas [1995], well-acted as it may be). The film’s realism is enhanced by extensive location shooting in New York, somewhat of a rarity for the time. Continue reading

Orson Welles – The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)

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Synopsis:
The young, handsome, but somewhat wild Eugene Morgan wants to marry Isabel Amberson, daughter of a rich upper-class family, but she instead marries dull and steady Wilbur Minafer. Their only child, George, grows up a spoiled brat. Years later, Eugene comes back, now a mature widower and a successful automobile maker. After Wilbur dies, Eugene again asks Isabel to marry him, and she is receptive. But George resents the attentions paid to his mother, and he and his whacko aunt Fanny manage to sabotage the romance. A series of disasters befall the Ambersons and George, and he gets his come-uppance in the end. Continue reading

Ingmar Bergman – Musik i mörker AKA Music in Darkness (1948)

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Bergman writing on the genesis of the film in Images: My Life in Film:
‘In spite of all that happened, Lorens Marmstedt did not throw me out. With great diplomacy he pointed out that now would be the perfect time for at least one modest audience success. Otherwise my days as a movie director migth be numbered. A Ship Bound for India as well as It Rains on our Love had been made for Sweden’s Folkbiografer. Now Marmstedt suggested that I make a film for his own company, Terrafilm. It must be noted that Lorens was a passionate gambler, able to put his money on the same number a whole evening. Continue reading

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

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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. Continue reading

Robert J. Flaherty & Richard Lyford & Curt Oertel – The Titan: Story of Michelangelo (1950)

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Imdb says:
The life and works of the great artist Michelangelo Buonarroti are shown against the historical background of his time. It begins with his earliest artworks, and follows his life and career as he achieves lasting fame. The documentary includes detailed looks at some of the artist’s most renowned creations. Continue reading

Alfred Hitchcock – Rope (1948)

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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. Continue reading