Tony Richardson – The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962)

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Plot:
A rebellious youth, sentenced to a boy’s reformatory for robbing a bakery, rises through the ranks of the institution through his prowess as a long distance runner. During his solitary runs, reveries of his life and times before his incarceration lead him to re-evaluate his privileged status as the Governor’s prize runner. Continue reading

Elia Kazan – On the Waterfront (1954)

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synopsis
This classic story of Mob informers was based on a number of true stories and filmed on location in and around the docks of New York and New Jersey. Mob-connected union boss Johnny Friendly (Lee J. Cobb) rules the waterfront with an iron fist. The police know that he’s been responsible for a number of murders, but witnesses play deaf and dumb (“plead D & D”). Washed-up boxer Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) has had an errand-boy job because of the influence of his brother Charley, a crooked union lawyer (Rod Steiger). Witnessing one of Friendly’s rub-outs, Terry is willing to keep his mouth shut until he meets the dead dockworker’s sister, Edie (Eva Marie Saint). “Waterfront priest” Father Barry (Karl Malden) tells Terry that Edie’s brother was killed because he was going to testify against boss Friendly before the crime commission. Because he could have intervened, but didn’t, Terry feels somewhat responsible for the death. When Father Barry receives a beating from Friendly’s goons, Terry is persuaded to cooperate with the commission. Featuring Brando’s famous “I coulda been a contendah” speech, On the Waterfront has often been seen as an allegory of “naming names” against suspected Communists during the anti-Communist investigations of the 1950s. Continue reading

Howard Hawks – The Big Sleep (1946)

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Summoned by the dying General Sternwood, Philip Marlowe is asked to deal with several problems that are troubling his family. Marlowe finds that each problem centers about the disappearance of Sternwood’s favoured employee who has left with a mobster’s wife. Each of the problems becomes a cover for something else as Marlowe probes. Continue reading

Jack Clayton – The Pumpkin Eater (1964)

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Synopsis:
Film screenwriter Jake Armitage and his wife Jo Armitage live in London with six of Jo’s eight children, with the two eldest boys at boarding school. The children are spread over Jo’s three marriages, with only the youngest being Jake’s biological child, although he treats them all as his own. Jo left her second husband Giles after meeting Giles’ friend Jake, the two who were immediately attracted to each other. Their upper middle class life is much different than Giles and Jo’s, who lived in a barn in the English countryside. But Jo is ruminating about her strained marriage to Jake, with issues on both sides. Jo suspects Jake of chronic infidelity, she only confronting him with her suspicions whenever evidence presents itself. And Jo’s psychiatrist believes that Jo uses childbirth as a rationale for sex, which he believes she finds vulgar. These issues in combination have placed Jo in a fragile mental state. They both state that they love the other, but neither really seems to like … Continue reading

Charles Walters – Easter Parade (1948)

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Quote:
The film was originally to have starred Gene Kelly, but Kelly was injured just prior to production and Astaire, who had announced his retirement from film, was coaxed back to replace him. (Astaire would “retire” several more times over the next decade, but he would also go on to make a number of additional classic musicals in between retirements.) This film marked the major MGM debut of tap-dancer Ann Miller (who had previously been under contract to RKO), replacing Cyd Charisse, who also had to bow out of the production. Continue reading

Julien Duvivier – Voici le temps des assassins aka Deadlier than the male (1956)

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Synopsis:
André Chatelin is a restaurant owner in Les Halles in Paris. One morning, a girl named Catherine asks to see him. She happens to be the daughter of his estranged wife, Gabrielle, that André left more than twenty years before. As Gabrielle has just died, André accepts to accommodate Catherine first, then gives her a job in his restaurant before finally marrying her. But the angel-faced young lady might well be a devil in disguise. Continue reading