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

Alfred Zeisler – Alimony (1949)

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Small town girl Kitty Traves comes to New York with the idea of getting rich fast. Beginning as a ‘model’ she then becomes a divorce co-respondent in hotel room frame-ups. When her songwriting boyfriend, Dan Barker, runs out of songs and money, she send him back to his loyal, true-blue fiancée, Linda Waring. She moves on to marry a wealth industrialist, with divorce and alimony her only goal.
(from IMDB) Continue reading

Basil Dearden – Cage of Gold (1950)

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Plot Synopsis by Hal Erickson

Cage of Gold was a rare non-comic effort from Britain’s Ealing Studios. Jean Simmons stars as Judith, who awakens the morning after her wedding to discover that her new husband has deserted her. Later on, she is told that her husband is dead. After a period of mourning, Judith remarries–only to be subjected to blackmail by husband number one. It’s all a racket, of course, but Judith doesn’t go to the police until it’s almost too late. Featured in the cast of Cage of Gold as a slimy smuggler is Herbert Lom, who later gained worldwide fame as Inspector Dreyfus in the “Pink Panther” comedies. Continue reading

Jacques Tati – Jour de fête [Full Colour] (1949)

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In Jacques Tati’s charming – and essentially plotless – pre-Hulot first feature, Tati is Francois, a contented and happy postman in a small, unhurried French village. Francois is at ease with his job and leisurely performs his duties, peddling away on his rounds upon his beloved bicycle. Things perk up when a traveling carnival arrives in town. One of the attractions at the carnival is a film depicting the United States Postal Service’s fast and efficient postal delivery system. The narrator in the film exhorts, “Rapidite, rapidite.” Francois takes up the call, and attempts to Americanize his work style. Continue reading