William Wyler – The Little Foxes (1941)

 William Wyler   The Little Foxes (1941)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152 William Wyler   The Little Foxes (1941)

Lillian Hellman’s play, a prime example of the “well-made” variety, is precisely the kind of successful middle-brow property that appealed to Samuel Goldwyn. He had already produced Hellman’s controversial The Children’s Hour (also directed by William Wyler, with cinematographer Gregg Toland), a play that handsomely survived a title change to These Three and the transformation of the issue of lesbianism into an illicit heterosexual affair. No major alterations were required for The Little Foxes. The film even resists the conventional “opening up” so often applied to theatrical texts, in the mistaken notion that fundamental cinematic values are expansively pictorial ones. Continue reading

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Vincente Minnelli – The Bad and the Beautiful (1952)

 Vincente Minnelli   The Bad and the Beautiful (1952)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152 Vincente Minnelli   The Bad and the Beautiful (1952)

Plot Synopsis [AMG]
Kirk Douglas plays the corrupt and amoral head of a major film studio in this Hollywood drama, often regarded as one of the film’s industry’s most interesting glimpses at itself. Actress Gloria Lorrison (Lana Turner), director Fred Amiel (Barry Sullivan), and screenwriter James Lee Bartlow (Dick Powell) are invited to a meeting at a Hollywood sound stage at the request of producer Harry Pebbel (Walter Pidgeon). Pebbel is working with studio chief Jonathan Shields (Kirk Douglas), whose studio is in financial trouble and needs a blockbuster hit. If these three names will sign to a new project, he’s convinced that there’s no way he can lose. But there’s a rub — all three of these Hollywood heavyweights hate Shields’s guts. He dumped Gloria for another woman, he double-crossed Fred out of a plum directing assignment, and he was responsible for the death of James Lee’s wife. All three are ready to tell Pebbel to forget it, until they hear the voice of Shields, calling from Europe to discuss the project by phone. The Bad and the Beautiful won five Academy Awards, including Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress for Gloria Grahame. Continue reading

Vincente Minnelli – The Band Wagon (1953)

 Vincente Minnelli   The Band Wagon (1953)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152 Vincente Minnelli   The Band Wagon (1953)

“In Sight and Sound’s 2002 poll of the ten best films ever made, one musical made the list: Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly’s Singin’ in the Rain (1952). Without denying that film’s considerable charm, a musical released a year later (which failed to receive a single vote in Sight and Sound’s survey) may be worthier of similar hyperbolic citations: The Band Wagon. The films share several points of contact: both are backstage musicals built around songbook catalogues and produced for MGM by Arthur Freed; both have witty screenplays by Betty Comden and Adolph Green; and both feature important roles for Cyd Charisse. One may also see both films as primary examples of what André Bazin called the “genius” of the Hollywood system, in which great films are produced less through a single auteur than through a group of talented individuals working collectively with the sophisticated technical resources of a major studio while simultaneously drawing upon the rich traditions and forms of American popular culture.” Continue reading

H. Bruce Humberstone – Tall, Dark and Handsome (1941)

 H. Bruce Humberstone   Tall, Dark and Handsome (1941)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152 H. Bruce Humberstone   Tall, Dark and Handsome (1941)

Plot

Cesar Romero plays an outwardly tough prohibition-era gangster who in reality wouldn’t hurt a fly. He maintains his “killer” reputation by planting evidence of his involvement at the scenes of other crooks’ crimes. Romero begins aspiring for respectability when he falls in love with Virginia Gilmore and adopts the orphaned Stanley Clements. Through his own non-homicidal means, Romero redeems himself by wiping out a genuinely nasty gangster boss (Sheldon Leonard). Tall, Dark and Handsome was remade in 1950 as Love That Brute, with Paul Douglas in the Cesar Romero role–and with Romero playing the villain! Continue reading

Jean Dréville – Copie conforme (1947)

 Jean Dréville   Copie conforme (1947)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152 Jean Dréville   Copie conforme (1947)

From IMDB:
Another Louis Jouvet’s tour de force., 8 March 2003
Author: dbdumonteil
Some movies do not need a director at all:when Louis Jouvet is the lead,he carries everything on his shoulders.Here he’s got two parts: a crook and an honest man ,who is his perfect double. Jouvet is so good,a perfectionist extraordinaire ,that you do believe there are really TWO different actors on the screen,one self-assured,smart and tricky,the other one a born-sucker. Nevertheless, best scenes are to be found at the beginning:Jouvet selling a castle on the historical register to a couple of nouveaux riches: his crook becomes a true noble ,and when he says to these bourgeois he despises “call me excellency as everybody does”,his behavior compels respect. Continue reading

René Clair – And Then There Were None (1945)

 René Clair   And Then There Were None (1945)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152 René Clair   And Then There Were None (1945)

Jeremy Heilman of moviemartyr.com wrote:
One of the supreme suspense films, René Clair’s And Then There Were None combines the glamour and wit of a Hollywood studio production with a considerable amount of very real suspense. Adapted from an Agatha Christie novel (Ten Little Indians), it tells the story of a group of strangers who are invited to stay at an island estate only to find out that they are being eliminated one by one according to the predictions of a nursery rhyme that they find. By making a game of the treachery and never actually showing any of the murders on-screen, Clair achieves the same delicate balance between tension and breeziness that Hitchcock strived for in films such as To Catch a Thief and Family Plot. The production values are top notch, and the cast of relatively unknown character actors assembled keeps us from guessing whodunit right off the bat. Continue reading

Jean Cocteau – Orphée (1950)

jdaNSn Jean Cocteau   Orphée (1950)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152 Jean Cocteau   Orphée (1950)

Orpheus (French: Orphée) is a 1949 French film directed by Jean Cocteau and starring Jean Marais. This film is the central part of Cocteau’s Orphic Trilogy, which consists of The Blood of a Poet (1930), Orpheus (1949) and Testament of Orpheus (1960). The trilogy has been released as a DVD boxed set by The Criterion Collection.

Set in contemporary Paris, the movie is a variation of the classic Greek myth of Orpheus. At the Café des Poètes a brawl is staged by acolytes of the Princess (Casares) and the young poet Cègeste (Edouard Dermithe), the rival of Orpheus the poet, is killed. Cègeste is taken to the car of the princess by her associates, and Orpheus is asked to accompany them as a witness. They drive to a chateau (the landscape through the car windows are presented in negative) acompanied by abstract poetry on the radio. This takes the form of seemingly meaningless messages which are like those broadcast to the French Resistance from London during the Occupation. Continue reading

pixel Jean Cocteau   Orphée (1950)