Stuart Heisler – Chain Lightning (1950)

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Plot:

Matt Brennan knows how to open eyes to the potential of the experimental jet, the JA-3. He’ll pilot it from Nome over the North Pole to Washington, DC and land it on the Pentagon’s lap. The distance is beyond the JA-3’s tested range. Nor can the craft provide the pressurization needed for flight at 80,000 feet. But Brennan has some modifications in mind. And the courage to put them to the test. Humphrey Bogart plays Brennan in Chain Lightning’s lofty mix of adventure and romance. Eleanor Parker, as a World War II flame who reenters Brennan’s life, fuels the romance. And the adventure takes wing with a story that, like Breaking the Sound Barrier, The McConnell Story and other postwar films, taps into the era’s fascination with jet aviation. Cleared for takeoff. From Warner Brothers! Continue reading

Harald Braun – Zwischen gestern und morgen AKA Between yesterday and tomorrow (1947)

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A group of people gathers back in the post-war ruins of a luxurious Munich hotel they inhabited at one point or another years before; each trying to cope with the tragic consequences of the war and their own actions.

Quote:
Unexpectedly sensitive movie, structured in a series of flashbacks from different points-of-view, about the destinies of a series of residents of a large hotel in Nazi Germany and immediately after 1945. This is much less romantic than what Hollywood would have produced on the same subject, but the character of Nelly, the Jewish actress who’s had to divorce her stage star non-Jewish husband, is extremely well-drawn and memorable in her dignity and elegance. Well-worth seeing. Why did German cinema vanish soon after this movie was made? What became of good directors like Braun? (imdb) Continue reading

Douglas Sirk – Hitler’s Madman (1943)

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Quote:
Hitler’s Madman is based on an all-too-real wartime atrocity. John Carradine portrays Heydrich, the vicious SS officer put in charge of Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia. Heydrich is killed by the Czech underground, prompting the Nazis to plan a horrible retaliation. The Gestapo selects the Czech village of Lidice for annihilation: They kill all the male villagers, throw the women and children into concentration camps, and torch Lidice into nonexistence. The victims of Nazi tyranny become martyrs to the underground cause, ending the film on a note of triumph. Based on a narrative poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay, Hitler’s Madman was produced by the “poverty row” PRC studio, but was sold to MGM and given a class-A presentation at choice theatres throughout the U.S. Continue reading

Marcel Varnel – King Arthur Was a Gentleman (1942)

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King Arthur Was a Gentleman is a 1942 British musical comedy film, directed by Marcel Varnel, starring Arthur Askey as Arthur King. Set during World War II, the plot involves the diminutive Arthur joining the army to prove himself to his girlfriend Susan (Evelyn Dall), who is in the same unit as him. Here, his idealistic notions about King Arthur prompt his messmates to trick him into believing that a sword they have dug up is the fabled Excaliber. Armed with this talisman Arthur strides forth to deal with the Wehrmacht. Continue reading

Anthony Mann – T-Men (1947)

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Hal Erickson @ All Movie Guide wrote:

The moodily evocative docudrama T-Men stars Dennis O’Keefe as Dennis O’Brien, a treasury agent determined to bring a counterfeiting ring to justice. O’Brien and his partner Tony Genaro (Alfred Ryder) go undercover to gain the confidence of the ruthless Detroit mob responsible for the phony money. The plot, compelling though it is, takes second place to the film’s stylish set pieces, superbly directed by Anthony Mann and brilliantly photographed by John Alton.

One of the finest examples of the film noir form, T-Men proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that a film didn’t need to have a lush budget, brilliant Technicolor and Clark Gable to score a hit with postwar moviegoers. Continue reading

Jacques de Baroncelli – La Duchesse de Langeais AKA Wicked Duchess (1942)

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IMDb’s Benoît A. Racine:

The novella this film was based on was written by Balzac in the 1830s as part of a group of novels detailing the adventures of a secret society of 13 men (“Les Treize”), of whom Armand is a member. This slightly sinister society was bent on acquiring power at all cost and by all means. It can be understood that Armand’s forceful quest to conquer Antoinette is part of that fascistic scheme. Armand is a general who was ennobled by Napoleon for his military exploits whereas Antoinette is an “Ancien Régime” aristocrat, like the French Queen she was named after. Continue reading

David Lean – Oliver Twist (1948)

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Expressionistic noir photography suffuses David Lean’s Oliver Twist with a nightmarish quality, fitting its bleak, industrial setting. In Dickens’ classic tale, an orphan wends his way from cruel apprenticeship to den of thieves in search of a true home. Here Alec Guinness is the quintessential Fagin, his controversial performance fully restored in Criterion’s new digital transfer.

Links:
Criterion
All Movie Guide Continue reading