Classics

William A. Seiter – Chance at Heaven (1933)

Plot: Blackstone ‘Blacky’ Gorman, rising service station owner, is blessed with the devotion of supremely sweet and noble Marje Harris, but he meets coquettish and silly debutante Glory Franklyn and, between Glory’s charm and his social ambition, is snared into an upscale marriage that proves to have its downside. Written by Rod Crawford
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Alfred Hitchcock – Saboteur (1942)

Review: Robert Cummings stars as Barry Kane, a patriotic munitions worker who is falsely accused of sabotage, in this wartime thriller from Alfred Hitchcock. Plastered across the front page of every newspaper and hated by the nation, Kane’s only hope of clearing his name is to find the real villain. If this sounds a bit like Hitchcock’s later North by Northwest, it is. There are interesting echoes throughout, including a heart-stopping sequence on top of a national monument. But the most interesting thing about Saboteur is the frequency with which characters demonstrate their willingness to obstruct the police, going on nothing more than the fact that Kane seems like a stand-up guy. Read More »

Mauro Bolognini – Guardia, guardia scelta, brigadiere e maresciallo (1956)

Personally, Bolognini did not feel that he was really at home with comedy, yet he was often offered comedies, and in the early stage of his career he accepted some of these assignments. These films were very successful, and the director ascribed the credit for this to the stars he worked with; in this case unquestionably a handful of Italy’s funniest men of the day: Alberto Sordi, Aldo Fabrizzi, Peppino De Filippo, and Gino Cervi. Read More »

Fritz Lang – M [Universum, 80th Anniversary Edition] (1931)

Quote:
The horror of the faces: That is the overwhelming image that remains from a recent viewing of the restored version of “M,” Fritz Lang’s famous 1931 film about a child murderer in Germany. In my memory it was a film that centered on the killer, the creepy little Franz Becker, played by Peter Lorre. But Becker has relatively limited screen time, and only one consequential speech–although it’s a haunting one. Most of the film is devoted to the search for Becker, by both the police and the underworld, and many of these scenes are played in closeup. In searching for words to describe the faces of the actors, I fall hopelessly upon “piglike.” Read More »

Lionel Barrymore – Madame X (1929)

Plot: Young Raymond Floriot, following in his father Louis Floriot’s professional footsteps, he now France’s attorney general, has just passed the bar exam. Raymond’s first case, appointed to him by the courts, is a murder case. His pitiful and poor Jane Doe client, who refers to herself only as Madame X, admits to killing the scoundrel of a man named Laroque, but won’t disclose why or in turn defend herself in court. Raymond knows nothing of her past, which includes once being a woman of class, married to man of prestige. But that marriage ended because he treated her without love, which resulted in her leaving him for another man, who in turn passed away shortly thereafter. Read More »

John Frankenheimer – Seven Days in May [+Extra] (1964)

From Wikipedia:
Seven Days in May is an American political thriller motion picture directed by John Frankenheimer, starring Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Fredric March, and Ava Gardner, and released in February 1964 with a screenplay by Rod Serling based on the novel of the same name by Fletcher Knebel and Charles W. Bailey II, which was published in 1962. Read More »

Mervyn LeRoy – A Majority of One (1961)

Mrs. Jacoby, a Brooklyn widow whose only son was killed by the Japanese in World
War II, reluctantly agrees to accompany her daughter, Alice, and her son-in-law, Jerry
Black, on a trip to Japan, where Jerry is to help negotiate a trade agreement. En route by
ship, Mrs. Jacoby’s resentment of the Japanese subsides when she meets Mr. Asano, a
Japanese industrialist whose family also was struck by tragedy during the war. Their
friendship ends, however, when Jerry suspects that Mr. Asano, who is also a
negotiating member of the trade committee, is ingratiating himself with his mother-in-law
for political gain. Read More »