The defiantly independent French director Jean-Pierre Melville was an outsider by choice. He financed his films outside of the studio system and built his own studio for maximum independence. He loved American cinema and made his reputation with a brilliant series of cool gangster thrillers, beginning with elegant, elegiac Bob le Flambeur (1955) and culminating in the austere masterpiece Le Samourai (1967), with Alain Delon as an existential assassin, and the heist classic Le Cercle Rouge (1970).
Army of Shadows, adapted from the 1943 novel by Joseph Kessel about the early years of the French Resistance, is the third of Melville’s three dramas set during the Nazi occupation of France in World War II (after his debut feature, La Silence de la Mer , and his 1961 drama Leon Morin, Priest), but by far his most personal. During World War II, Melville was himself a member of the Resistance, worked for French intelligence in London, and served in the Free French forces in the liberation of Italy and France. “This is my first movie showing things I’ve actually known and experienced,” Melville told Rui Nogueria in Nogueria’s 1971 interview book with the director. Kessler’s book is a work of fiction, but the characters were inspired by real life figures. Continue reading
George (Gary Lockwood) is a disillusioned 26-year-old who has just quit his stifling job. He lives in Los Angeles with an aspiring young actress named Gloria (Alexandra Hay), who is none too pleased with his recent unemployment. Hanging over his head is the constant threat of repossession of his car and the virtual certainty that he will be drafted into the army. He sees a beautiful woman in a big car and follows her to her home in the Hollywood hills. A rock-star friend loans him money for a car and he follows the mystery woman to a photography shop. Lola (Anouk Aimée) is an older French model who poses for photographs to pay the bills. After he takes pictures of her, he begins to fall in love with the woman. Gloria discovers the pictures and throws George out of the house. He returns to the model and the two have conversation over drinks before ending up in bed together. Lola wishes to return home to be with her young son and is reluctant to get involved in a relationship. George’s relationship with Gloria ends when she leaves him over her failure to understand his motivations. He resigns himself to the fact he will be drafted and probably end up dead in a Vietnam rice paddy in this story of a young man in search of the greater meaning of life.
The Illustrated Man is a 1969 American science fiction film directed by Jack Smight and starring Rod Steiger. The film is based on three short stories from the 1951 collection The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury: “The Veldt”, “The Long Rain”, and “The Last Night of the World”.
The Illustrated Man comprises three science fiction short stories from Ray Bradbury’s collection of the same name. Howard B. Kreitsek wrote the screenplay that encompassed the stories “The Veldt”, “The Long Rain”, and “The Last Night of the World”, Jack Smight directed the film. Bradbury was not consulted for the adaptation. The author sold story rights to the film in December 1967 for $85,000, but he did not sell the film rights. Since the collection included eighteen short stories, Smight chose three stories and used the carnival sideshow freak who appeared in the collection’s prologue and epilogue as the film’s primary narrative. As the freak, the director cast Rod Steiger, whom he had known since the 1950s. Continue reading
Mr.Freedom is a militaristic moron of a superhero. In his secret identity he is a United States sheriff, but when he enters his hidden closet hidden in his office behind a large American flag, he transforms into the patriotic superhuman. He takes orders from Doctor Freedom, the controller of Freedom Inc, who orders him to go to France and stop it from falling prey to the evils of Communism after the death of Freedom’s counterpart, Capitaine Formidable. Getting a less than rapturous welcome from the French, Mr.Freedom decides to save them all anyway…by destroying the entire country and everyone in it if he has to. Continue reading
One of the few 1960s satires of the hippie culture that doesn’t appear to be concocted by grumpy old men, I Love You, Alice B. Toklas stars Peter Sellers as Harold Fine, a staid Jewish attorney. Engaged to the equally straitlaced Joyce (Joyce Van Patten), Harold wistfully dreams of having a more exciting lifestyle. Through a fluke, Harold is obliged to drive a station wagon emblazoned with “psychedelic” imagery; it is with this vehicle that he picks up his flower-child brother Herbie (David Arkin), and Herbie’s groovy chick Nancy (Leigh Taylor-Young). Rather enjoying the company of people outside of his establishment orbit, Harold lets Nancy stay over at her place, and she plies him with marijuana-spiked brownies. His inhibitions released by the spiked pastries, Harold kicks over the traces, grows his hair to shoulder length, and embarks upon an affair with Nancy. But when the effects of the brownies wear off, Harold suddenly feels like the rather foolish middle-aged man that he is. The beauty of I Love You, Alice B. Toklas is that it patronizes neither the hippies nor the Establishment characters; both groups are shown as human beings rather than agit-prop stereotypes.
Davey Haggart (John Hurt) wishes to follow his father’s footsteps and become a highway robber. He also wishes to avoid his father’s fate — which was death by hanging at the tender age of 21 after a botched robbery of the Duke of Argyle (Robert Morley). Davey commits a daring robbery in broad daylight with the help of two henchmen (Ronald Fraser and Fidelma Murphy) and heads for the highlands of Scotland to hide out. The local Constable (Nigel Davenport) warns young Davey he will end up just like his father but helps him escape the fate of dancing on the end of a rope. Annie (Pamela Franklin) is the kind-hearted farm girl who tries to make sweet Davey give up a life of crime and settle down. This comedy was taken from the autobiographical diary”The Life Of David Haggart.” Continue reading
Sidney Lumet directed this romantic melodrama involving deceit and marital secrets. The film takes place in Rome where lawyer Federico Fendi (Omar Sharif) falls in love with his colleague Renzo’s (Fausto Tozzi) fiancee Carla (Anouk Aimee). Renzo warns Federico that Carla is actually a high-priced call girl, but Federico refuses to believe it. Instead, Carla and Federico marry. After the wedding however, Federico notices that Carla has been making curious disappearances from her domestic home. Recalling Renzo’s warning, Federico begins the secretly follow her to find out the truth. Continue reading