1941-1950

Marcel L’Herbier – L’affaire du collier de la reine AKA Queen’s Necklace (1946)

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One of the most expensive French films of the immediate postwar years, L’Affaire du Collier de la Reine is primarily a vehicle for the formidable Vivian Romance. The star plays an aristocrat in the court of Louis XVI, who helps engineer a scheme to divest the Queen of her royal necklace. On the verge of success, the “heroine” is found out, and forced to submit to whipping and torture. Read More »

Francesco de Robertis & Roberto Rossellini – La Nave Bianca aka The White Ship (1941)

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Quote:
La Nave Bianca is a movie about a group of firemen on a Italian battleship, that takes part in a sea battle. During the battle one of the heaters is wounded and brought to the hospital ship, where he meets a nurse…
The film is intercut with documentary scenes from the movie La battaglia dello Jonio and the cast is completely non-professional. There has been an argument ever since about who directed the movie (Rossellini or de Robertis). A dissertation from 2002 (here on the tracker torrent) seems to decide this question finally in favour of Francesco de Robertis, who is most likely the writer of the script, main director and supervisor, whereas Rossellini merely took part in the production as learning assistant director. Read More »

Helmut Käutner – In jenen Tagen aka Seven Journeys (1947)

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Synopsis:

Told in seven chapters, Käutner’s first postwar film portrays the lives of average people overwhelmed and traumatized by the impact of fascism. Käutner uses the framing device of an automobile whose various owners serve as the film’s protagonists and initiate its episodic structure. The characters represent an interesting cross-section of the German people including a deserting soldier, a Jewish couple and a composer who has been labeled as subversive. During a time when most Germans wanted to forget the past, Käutner eschewed the controlled setting of the UFA studios and chose to film in the bombed out streets of Berlin, crafting a humanistic rendering of recent history. Read More »

Alessandro Blasetti – 4 passi fra le nuvole AKA Four Steps in the Clouds (1942)

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Quote:
Originally released in 1942, Four Steps in the Clouds (Quattro Passi fra le Nuvole) was a major stepping stone in the starring career of Gino Cervi. The story begins as young unwed mother-to-be Maria (Adriana Benetti) desperately casts about for a means of avoiding disgrace. Making the acquaintance of good-natured Paolo Bianchi (Cervi), Maria persuades him to pose as her husband and meet her family.

Immediately ingratiating himself with Maria’s parents, Paolo plays his part so well that only a completely unforeseen disaster could spoil the charade. And when that disaster inevitably arrives, it is Paolo who comes to the rescue… Four Steps in the Clouds was superbly remade by Alfonso Arau in 1995 as A Walk in the Clouds, with Keanu Reeves in the Gino Cervi role Read More »

Vittorio De Sica – Sciuscià AKA Shoeshine [+Extras] (1946)

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At a track near Rome, shoeshine boys are watching horses run. Two of the boys Pasquale, an orphan, and Giuseppe, his younger friend are riding. The pair have been saving to buy a horse of their own to ride… The boys meet Attilio, Giuse’s much older brother, and his shady friend at a boat on the Tiber. In return for a commission, the boys agree to deliver black market goods to a fortune-teller. Once the woman has paid, Attilio’s gang suddenly arrives. Pretending to be cops, they shake the woman down. With a payoff from Attilio, the boys are able to make the final payment and stable their horse in Trastevere over the river… The fortune-teller identifies Pasqua and Giuse. Held at an overcrowded boys’ prison, they are separated. Giuse falls under the influence of an older lad in his cell, Arcangeli. During interrogation, Pasqua is tricked into betraying Giuse’s brother to the police. With their trial still in the future, the two friends are driven further apart… Read More »

Roberto Rossellini – Francesco, giullare di Dio AKA The Flowers of St. Francis [+Extras] (1950)

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Quote:
The Flowers of St. Francis—or, Francesco, giullare di Dio (Francis, God’s Jester), to give it its full title in Italian—is a delicate, fascinating hybrid, a film that is self-consciously, almost militantly, naive, and, as such, something of an anomaly in Rossellini’s body of work. Never again would his films attain the directness, simplicity, even purity that is so gloriously on display here, a work poised between the theological and the historical, between the Rossellini who emerged from neorealism into the full-blown spiritual crisis manifested in The Miracle, Stromboli, and Europa ’51, all set in postwar Italy, and the latter-day director whose abiding interest was in the depiction of history. Those later works often took religious subjects, but unlike in Acts of the Apostles, Augustine of Hippo, and The Messiah, Rossellini in The Flowers of St. Francis is less concerned with creating a portrait of a particular historical figure than he is with exploring the nature of spirituality, specifically, of “Franciscanism” itself and its impact on the medieval world. Read More »

Dudley Nichols – Government Girl (1943)

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Plot:
Washington DC in the war. The machinery of government is a hive of endless if not seamless activity. Arnament production is the name of the game, by fair means or foul. Ed Browne, more used to making cars in Detroit, is having to try and get planes made in this maelstrom. Luckily or unluckily, he finds he has a secretary who knows the political ropes – and her own mind. Read More »