Byron Haskin – I Walk Alone (1948)

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Quote:
It’s a mighty low class of people that you will meet in the Paramount’s “I Walk Alone” — and a mighty low grade of melodrama, if you want the honest truth — in spite of a very swanky setting and an air of great elegance. For the the people are mostly ex-gangsters, night club peddlers or social black sheep and the drama is of the vintage of gangster fiction of some twenty years ago.

True, the premise of the story, which originated with Theodore Reeves in a play done under the title of “Beggars Are Coming to Town,” is that an old-time bootleg mobster who has finished a long stretch in jail can’t use the old-time tactics in muscling in on a welching ex-pal. The theory is that café business and corporation law in this new day are completely against the operation of any old-fashioned strong-arm stuff. Continue reading

Henri-Georges Clouzot – Manon (1949)

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Quote:
Henri-Georges Clouzot (“The Raven”/”The Wages of Fear”/”“Diabolique”) directs one of his lesser efforts and co-writes with Jean Ferry an adaptation of Abbe Prevost’s 18th century lusty classic French novel ‘Manon Lescaut.’ It’s updated to immediately after World War II France. It was shoddily made, the characters were sketchily drawn, the lead couple is unlikable, the screenplay was ridiculously inept and the novel’s bawdiness was compromised to make it more Hollywood safe, nevertheless Clouzot’s craftsmanship and style made an impression at the Venice Festival and it won Best Film in 1949. It did a good job capturing the sleazy atmosphere of the low-life underground scene in a post-war Paris. Continue reading

Jean Cocteau & René Clément – La belle et la bête AKA Beauty and the Beast (1946)

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Quote:
While some other mid-20th-century directors were pursuing the chimera of “total cinema,” Jean Cocteau was chasing down the dream of a “total art.” But if “total cinema” meant capturing on screen the actual world as it really was, Cocteau’s “total art” meant giving form, instead, to the otherwise impalpable worlds of desire and dream. Both quests were fundamentally unrealistic, but Cocteau embraced this truth in ways both joyously inventive and technically rigorous. The most ambitious and talented fabulist since E.T.A. Hoffmann, Cocteau not only produced a vast and diverse corpus of poems, drawings, plays, sculptures, novels, and libretti, he also wrote and directed a small but astonishing group of films. Beauty and the Beast is the best of his five feature films and the greatest fable of his entire oeuvre—a vulnerable-beast-in-love tale to end all others, from King Kong to Edward Scissorhands. Continue reading

Henri Decoin – Les Inconnus dans la Maison aka Strangers in the House (1942)

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Synopsis:
Since his wife left him, almost twenty years ago, the once brilliant lawyer Loursat has slumped into a life of despondency and drunkenness. He lives in a vast empty house with his teenage daughter, Nicole, with whom he hardly communicates. One fateful day, something happens which pulls Loursat back from the abyss: he discovers a dead body in his house. When his daughter and her group of rebellious young friends are charged with the murder, Loursat decides to take charge of the case.
— scarabus Continue reading

Henri-Georges Clouzot – L’assassin habite… au 21 aka The Murderer Lives at 21 [+extra] (1942)

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Eureka, Masters of Cinema wrote:
One of the most revered names in world cinema, Henri – Georges Clouzot, made a remarkably self – assured debut in 1942 with the deliciously droll thriller The Murderer Lives at 21 [L ‘ Assassin habite au 21].

A thief and killer stalks the streets of Paris, leaving a calling card from “Monsieur Durand” at the scene of each crime. But after a cache of these macabre identifications is discovered by a burglar in the boarding house at 21 Avenue Junot, Inspector Wenceslas Vorobechik (Pierre Fresnay) takes lodging at the infamous address in an undercover bid to solve the crime, with help from his struggling – actress girlfriend Mila (Suzy Delair).

Featuring audacious directorial touches, brilliant performances, and a daring tone that runs the gamut from light comedy to sinister noir, as well as a subtle portrait of tensions under Nazi occupation, this overlooked gem from the golden age of French cinema is presented in a beautiful new high – definition restoration. Continue reading

Wayne Ewing – When I Die – The Gonzo Monument (2005)

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IMDB: “When I Die” is about the making of the Gonzo Monument to Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, and the blasting of his ashes into the heavens. The infamous outlaw journalist described his funeral plans in a clip from a 1978 BBC documentary which opens “When I Die.”. Hunter wanted a 150 foot obelisk built in his backyard from which his ashes would be shot five hundred feet into the air and explode over his beloved Owl Farm in Woody Creek, Colorado. That is exactly what happened in August, 2005, six months after Dr. Thompson committed suicide. In “When I Die” the trials, tribulations and triumphs of this elaborate funeral production are inter cut with 35mm time-lapse photography and the final pyrotechnics are in breath-taking high speed 35mm. Continue reading

Max Nosseck – Dillinger (1945)

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Synopsis:
Willie Sutton robbed banks during the Depression because, he explained, “That’s where the money is.” Former Indiana farmboy John Dillinger also knew where the money was. And his string of early-1930s heists, murders and daring jailbreaks were so bold and notorious he became Public Enemy #1. Dillinger, Oscar-nominated* for its screenplay, is the bullet-paced story of the man whose crimes captivated and terrified the nation. Lawrence Tierney plays the title role, breaking free of screen anonymity and moving into a 50-year tough-guy career that would include 1947’s Born to Kill and 1992’s Reservoir Dogs. Perhaps it was a brutal early prison stretch that turned Dillinger from kid to killer. Perhaps he was a murderous thug to his core. Either way, Dillinger presents his story with Film noir style and lets you decide.

— dvdbeaver Continue reading