Jacques Tourneur – I Walked with a Zombie (1943)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

A young Canadian nurse (Betsy) comes to the West Indies to care for Jessica, the wife of a plantation manager (Paul Holland). Jessica seems to be suffering from a kind of mental paralysis as a result of fever. When she falls in love with Paul, Betsy determines to cure Jessica even if she needs to use a voodoo ceremony, to give Paul what she thinks he wants. Continue reading

Michael Truman – Touch and Go (1955)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

Plot: Touch and Go stars Jack Hawkins as the head of a British family who decides to kick over
the traces and emigrate to Australia. No one in the family, least of all wife Margaret Johnston, is
enthused over this move, but they prepare themselves with dignity. As the technical and legal obstacles
preventing their move begin to mount, even Hawkins has second thoughts about hitching his star Down Under.
Since no one behaves very believably in the film, Touch and Go rises and falls on its individual comic
sequences, some of which are quite good. The title Touch and Go has been used so often that when the
film was released in the US, it was retitled The Light Touch. Continue reading

Robert Aldrich – Autumn Leaves (1956)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

Quote:
In the ’50s, Robert Aldrich was a favorite of the French Cahiers du Cinema critics. In the ’60s, though, Aldrich got sloppier as his budgets got bigger. Most of his later movies are at least a half hour too long, and formulaic action films like The Dirty Dozen and Too Late the Hero tarnished his once bright reputation. But movies like World for Ransom, Kiss Me Deadly, and Attack! still hold up as harsh portraits of violence, paranoia, and a new kind of universal dread that began with the A-bomb and ended with the JFK assassination. All of Aldrich’s early work is intriguing, but Autumn Leaves is his secret gem. It’s been passed over as camp because of its star, Joan Crawford, but Aldrich brings all his hard edges to this woman’s picture. The collision of his tough style with the soapy material makes for a film that never loses its queasy tension. Continue reading

Richard Brooks – The Catered Affair (1956)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

Synopsis:
At breakfast, Jane announces that she and Ralph are getting married the next week. All Jane and Ralph want is a small wedding with the immediate family and no reception. This is because Janes parents are poor and Jane and Ralph can borrow a car for their honeymoon. However, at dinner that night all Ralph’s parents talk about are the big weddings they gave their daughters and everything escalates. All of a sudden, it is a big wedding breakfast with hundreds of guests. The problem is that for 12 years, Tom has been saving money to buy his own cab and license, but now that he can, all of his money is going towards a wedding neither he, or Jane or Ralph really want. Continue reading

Aleksandr Rou – Vechera na khutore bliz Dikanki AKA The Night Before Christmas (1961)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

The whimsical combination of Christmas phantasmagoria and an eccentric fairy tale makes this film an unforgettable spectacle. The action takes place both in a village of Dikanka in the Ukraine and at the palace of a Russian Empress. Blacksmith Vacula has enraged the devil himself: in a church he painted the devil’s figure in such a way that even the hell’s inhabitants could not help laughing. Solokha, Vacula’s mother, is known to be a witch, not averse to flying on a besom. Vacula’s sweetheart, Oksana, demands for a Christmas present a pair of tcherevichki (shoes) that the Empress wears. Only then she will agree to marry Vacula. And the devil promises to help the blacksmith get the Empress’ shoes, on condition that Vacula sells him his soul. Meanwhile, Christmas is almost here. Based on Gogol’s story. Continue reading

Gerd Oswald – A Kiss Before Dying (1956)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

Quote:
In Gerd Oswald’s A Kiss Before Dying (1956) Bud Corliss (Robert Wagner) is a psychopath with one singular desire: He wants to become rich by marrying the daughter of a man who owns a copper mine. Bud’s actions reveal how when a man loves money more than people, people become objects to be used and manipulated.

The Hare Psychopathy Checklist lists 20 common traits of psychopaths. Bud possesses nearly all of these traits including “superficial charm”, “pathological lying”, “cunning and manipulativeness”, “lack of remorse or guilt”, “criminal versatility”, and a “parasitic lifestyle.”1 Although psychopaths commit actions that are unthinkable to normal people, they are not insane: “a mental illness of such a severe nature that a person cannot distinguish fantasy from reality, or is subject to uncontrollable impulsive behavior.” A 2012 study of 269 psychopaths concluded that “psychopaths are not mentally ill and should be held entirely responsible for their violent and manipulative actions.” Psychopaths are not restrained by a typical person’s sense of right and wrong. Lacking the conviction of guilt for what they do, they harm innocent people without remorse. Continue reading