Howard Hawks & Richard Rosson – Scarface (1932)

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Plot Synopsis [AMG]
Completed in mid-1930, Scarface, based on Armitage Trail’s novel of the same name, might have been the first of the great talkie gangster flicks, but it was held up for release until after that honor was jointly usurped by Little Caesar and Public Enemy. Paul Muni stars as prohibition-era mobster Tony Camonte, a character obviously patterned on Al Capone (whose nickname was “Scarface”). The homicidal Camonte ruthlessly wrests control of the bootlegging racket from his boss, Johnny Lovo (Osgood Perkins), and claims Lovo’s mistress, Poppy (Karen Morley), in the bargain. But while Poppy satisfies him sexually, Tony has a soft spot in his heart only for his sister Cesca (Ann Dvorak). The film’s finale is one of the longest and bloodiest of the 1930s, maintaining suspense and concern for the characters involved even though Muni has deliberately done nothing to make Tony likeable to audience. Continue reading

Leni Riefenstahl & Béla Balázs – Das blaue Licht AKA The Blue Light (1932)

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Synopsis
Junta is hated by the people in the village where she lives, especially by the women, who suspect her of being a witch. Only she can climb the nearby mountains to a cave high up, whence a mysterious blue light glows when the moon is full. Many young men of the village have died trying to follow her. She is driven out of town, and takes to living in the mountains. Eventually she shares the secret of the blue light with one man, and he betrays it. Continue reading

Celso Ad. Castillo – Virgin People (1984)

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IMDB:
Three sisters live in a paradise where men are metaphorically and literally serpents of temptation. Their father takes his three daughters deep into the woods, far from the nearest town. He dies, leaving the girls educated enough to read from the Bible, ignorant enough to allow men to take advantage of them. Continue reading

Luchino Visconti – Le notti bianche AKA White Nights [+extras] (1957)

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Synopsis:

A chance encounter on a canal bridge results in a series of twilight rendezvous between a lonely city transplant (Marcello Mastroianni) and a sheltered woman (Maria Schell) haunted by a lover’s promise. Their hesitant courtship soon entangles both of them in a web of longing and self-delusion. Adapted from the Fyodor Dostoyevsky short story, director Luchino Visconti’s Le notti bianche—shot in ravishing black and white—is a romantic, shattering tale of the restlessness of dreamers. Continue reading

Ernst Lubitsch – Broken Lullaby (1932)

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From the AFI Catalog:

After World War I, Frenchman Paul Renard is haunted by the memory of Walter Holderlin, a German soldier he killed in the heat of battle. Having read and signed Walter’s last letter and memorized his home address, Paul goes to Germany to confess his deed to the soldier’s family. Anti-French sentiment is strong in Germany and Dr. Holderlin will not suffer Paul’s presence in his home until Walter’s fiancée Elsa recognizes Paul as the man who has been leaving flowers on Walter’s grave. Paul reveals that he knew Walter, but is unable to confess his past, and tells the grateful family he and Walter were friends during the war. Paul and Elsa fall in love and a close bond grows between Paul and the Holderlins, despite the entire town’s disapproval. When Elsa shows Paul Walter’s former bedroom, he is unable to contain himself any longer and confesses the truth to her. Paul also reveals his plans to tell Dr. and Mrs. Holderlin his secret and then leave, but Elsa intervenes and advises him that his confession and departure would deprive the Holderlins of their second “son.” Eventually, Elsa convinces Paul to sacrifice his conscience and stay to make the Holderlins happy. After Paul consents, Dr. Holderlin gives him Walter’s violin to play to Elsa’s accompaniment. Continue reading

Arthur Maria Rabenalt – Martina (1949)

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Synopsis:

The young Martina gets towards the end of the war of World War II to a pimp and so she goes first to the juvenile court and then in the care. Here she meets her older sister Irene, who stretches out his friend Volker. First, they want to avoid the conflict and flees, then she comes back to reconciliation in the care. Her resolutions does not keep a long time and she goes back to prostitution. She becomes witness of a murder and gets to escape in an accident. Finally, Martina believes she has carried out the murder . Continue reading

Sacha Guitry – Le Roman d’un Tricheur AKA Confessions of a Cheat (1936)

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Synopsis
The story of the cheat begins and ends with personal misfortune. When he was a young boy, our hero was caught stealing money from the family shop. As a punishment, he was not allowed to join his family on their picnic. They ate mushrooms and died of food poisoning, he survived and was placed in the care of his unscrupulous aunt and uncle, who intended to rob him of his inheritance. Years later, our hero ends up as a croupier in a casino at Morocco. There, he is about to embark at what looks like being a very lucrative career – as a professional cheat. Continue reading