1941-1950

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 »

Paul Rotha, Roger Manvell – Movie parade, 1888-1949 : a pictorial survey of world cinema (1950)

Movie parade, 1888-1949 : a pictorial survey of world cinema
by Paul Rotha and Roger Manvell

Paperback
Publisher: Studio Publications (1950)
ASIN: B007T2QOGQ Read More »

Roy William Neill – Pursuit to Algiers (1945)

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Holmes is recruited to escort the heir to a European throne safely back to his homeland after his father’s assassination. Read More »

Billy Wilder – The Lost Weekend (1945)

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Don Birnam, long-time alcoholic, has been “on the wagon” for ten days and seems to be over the worst; but his craving has just become more insidious. Evading a country weekend planned by his brother Wick and girlfriend Helen, he begins a four-day bender. In flashbacks we see past events, all gone wrong because of the bottle. But this bout looks like being his last…one way or the other.

Fifty-six years have seen many advances in the level of realism portrayed on film, but it is safe to say that The Lost Weekend remains the benchmark against which all other films on alcoholism are measured. Its view is uncompromising yet it manages to present that view in a manner that does not require resorting to tasteless violence or nihilism to make its point (unlike, for example, a more recent film such as Leaving Las Vegas [1995], well-acted as it may be). The film’s realism is enhanced by extensive location shooting in New York, somewhat of a rarity for the time. Read More »

Orson Welles – The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)

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Synopsis:
The young, handsome, but somewhat wild Eugene Morgan wants to marry Isabel Amberson, daughter of a rich upper-class family, but she instead marries dull and steady Wilbur Minafer. Their only child, George, grows up a spoiled brat. Years later, Eugene comes back, now a mature widower and a successful automobile maker. After Wilbur dies, Eugene again asks Isabel to marry him, and she is receptive. But George resents the attentions paid to his mother, and he and his whacko aunt Fanny manage to sabotage the romance. A series of disasters befall the Ambersons and George, and he gets his come-uppance in the end. Read More »