1941-1950

Norman Lee – The Monkey’s Paw (1948)

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Synopsis:
Oft-filmed black-and-white thriller of coincidence or inexorable fate based on the popular play by W.W. Jacobs. The Monkey’s Paw was filmed at Kay Carlton Hill Studios at St Johns Wood in London by low-budget producers Butchers. Despite its atmospheric finale amid the thunder and rain, the films expectant chills fail to materialise leaving only a tale of morality.

A curio shop owner sells a monkey’s paw an antiques dealer (Sydney Tafler) that can grant three wishes, but warns it has its drawbacks and tragedy follows each wish. The paw comes into the possession of Irish shopkeeper Trelawne (Milton Rosmer) who needs to pay off his gambling debts. As a consequence his son Tom is killed in a speedway race; the compensation pays the debt. Mrs Trelawne (Megs Jenkins) wishes her son back to life but her husband counters this by wishing he rest in peace. Read More »

Mario Soldati – Malombra (1942)

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Like Piccolo mondo antico, Malombra is a film set in a grandiose, but a bit crowded aristocratic house, which is itself squashed between the beautiful, but deadly see, and the stolid, un-romantic mountains. A claustrophobic space with no escapes, a space of directionless hauntings and self-induced psychosis. Also, of course, a space of late, musty fascism. The reality of the second world war and the twilight of the Mussollini era is never directly alluded to, but it seems to penetrate all walls, clothes, the flesh itself. Read More »

Wanda Jakubowska – Ostatni etap AKA The Last Stage (1948)

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Martha Weiss, a Jew, is sent to Auschwitz concentration camp with her family. On the first day of their arrival Martha is, by a coincidence, chosen as an interpreter, but her entire family is killed. Waiting for the Red Army to deliver them from the prison camp, the film depicts Martha and her friends’ struggling life under the tyranny of camp guards and equally bad ‘capos’, administrative personnel chosen from among the prisoners.

The Last Stage (Pl. Ostatni etap) was a 1947 Polish feature film directed and co-written by Wanda Jakubowska, depicting her experiences in the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II. The film was one of the earliest cinematic efforts to describe the Holocaust, and it is still quoted extensively by succeeding directors, including Steven Spielberg in Schindler’s List. Read More »

Leslie Arliss – A Man About the House (1947)

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Storyline
Agnes and Ellen Isit, two poor English sisters, unexpectedly inherit from their uncle a rich estate near Naples, complete with big villa and manly Italian majordomo. The latter, Salvatore, makes use of his Latin charm to seduce Agnes, who soon turns from prim spinster to passionate lover. Ellen observes the romance with amusement first before realizing how little considerate Salvatore becomes after marrying Agnes. Worse, Agnes’s health starts deteriorating. Worried about her sister, she contacts Dr. Ben Dench, a family friend… Read More »

Henri-Georges Clouzot – Quai des Orfèvres (1947)

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Jenny Lamour wants to succeed in music hall. Her husband and accompanist is Maurice Martineau, a nice but jealous guy. When he knew Jenny is making eyes at Brignon, an old businessman, in order to get some engagements, he looses his temper and threatens Brignon with death. But Jenny went anyway to a rendez-vous at the old man’s, who is murdered the same evening. The criminal investigations are lead by Inspector Antoine… Read More »

Charles Vidor – A Song to Remember (1945)

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Quote:
A Song to Remember is a 1945 Columbia Pictures biographical film which tells a ficitonalised life story of pianist and composer Frédéric Chopin.
The film starred Paul Muni, Merle Oberon, Cornel Wilde, Stephen Bekassy and Nina Foch.

Quote:
Review from IMDb:
“A Song to Remember” is supposed to be the life of Chopin but in fact, very little in it is historically accurate. It’s still a beautiful, emotional, and sumptuous movie, filled with the heavenly music of Chopin played by Jose Iturbi.
“A Song to Remember” helped to popularize Chopin’s romantic, passionate music and launched Cornel Wilde’s star into the heavens. Though he’s never done much for me personally, he cuts a dashing figure as Chopin. Read More »

Otto Preminger – Daisy Kenyon (1947)

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Quote:
Daisy Kenyon stars Joan Crawford as the eponymous heroine, a Manhattan commercial artist. Daisy is torn between two men: a handsome, married attorney (Dana Andrews) and an unmarried Henry Fonda. Deciding to do the “right thing”, Daisy marries Fonda, but carries a torch for the dashing Andrews. When the lawyer divorces his wife, he calls upon Daisy and tries to win her back. She is very nearly won over, but her husband isn’t about to give up so easily. Both men argue over Daisy, who is so distraught by the experience that she nearly has a fatal automobile accident. In the end, Daisy realizes that she truly loves Fonda, and gives Andrews his walking papers. Daisy Kenyon is given a contemporary slant with a subplot about child abuse (in a Joan Crawford film!); and, in one scene set at New York’s Stork Club, several celebrities (Walter Winchell, Leonard Lyons, John Garfield) make unbilled cameo appearances. Read More »