Tonino Valerii – Mio Caro Assassino AKA My Dear Killer (1972)

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Plot / Synopsis

Following a mysterious decapitation (via mechanical digger) of an insurance investigator, Police Inspector Peretti is put onto the case. Slowly more people are found dead… a man supposedly commits suicide, a women is strangled, another attacked in her flat… but all the clues lead to an unsolved case of kidnapping and murder. Can Peretti find the murderer, if his major clue is a little girls drawing??? Continue reading

Karel Reisz – The Gambler (1974)

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“James Caan as a New York college professor? Somehow it works in Karel Reisz’s interesting, mostly forgotten 1974 drama The Gambler. A quintessential ’70s film with its non-innocent protagonist swimming in a sea of sleaze and self-destructing when he should know better, The Gambler is one of cinema’s best depictions of a person’s addiction to gambling. That may seem like an inflated statement, but gambling addiction hasn’t really been a subject of film interest, at least not in the same vein as drugs or alcohol. And yet its milieu is tailor-made for drama, comedy, and tension. With that, The Gambler is a crime movie wrapped in an addiction movie wrapped in an existential void, during which, fittingly, Caan teaches his students about Dostoyevsky, one of our first existentialists (without knowing the word yet) who had a gambling problem himself. He even wrote a semi-autobiographical work about it called (again, fittingly), “The Gambler”. Like Dostoyevsky, Caan’s character, Axel, knows what he’s doing and can even discuss his psychology and madness in an offhand manner (as he does to his class) while still jonesing for his next win or lose. Continue reading

Francis Veber – Les fugitifs AKA The Fugitives (1986)

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Francis Veber directs this hilarious comedy about François (Pierre Richard), a desperate, novice, bumbling bank robber who takes an ex-con hostage during his attempted hold-up. They are both chased by the police. Jean (Gérard Depardieu) plays the convicted bank robber just released from jail and forced to escape with François. Anaïs Bret portrays François’ 6-year-old autistic daughter, and is the reason why he needed money so badly that he would steal for it. An inventive series of farcical situations and witty dialogue keeps the two men moving one step and several missteps ahead of the police. This comedy was so successful that Veber repeated it in 1989 for English-speaking audiences as Three Fugitives, starring Nick Nolte and Martin Short.

— Eleanor Mannikka, All Movie Guide Continue reading

W.S. Van Dyke – Guilty Hands (1931)

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Starring: Lionel Barrymore, Madge Evans, Kay Francis, C. Aubrey Smith, Polly Moran, Alan Mowbry

Richard Grant (Barrymore) is a successful lawyer who believes that his many years of dealing with crime has taught him how to commit the perfect murder. He’s working for shady cad Gordon Rich (Mowbry) who informs Grant before a dinner party that he intends to marry his daughter, Barbara (Evans). Grant seethes with anger and, after dinner, kills Rich. It’s almost the perfect crime, but Rich’s troubled mistress Marjorie (Francis), becomes suspicious of Grant. Continue reading

W.S. Van Dyke – Penthouse (1933)

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Quote:
By now, Myrna Loy’s enduring portrayal of Nora Charles in the Thin Man series has pushed the fact that she was hardly an overnight success into the recesses of movie history. Loy served one of the lengthier movie star apprenticeships, appearing in over 70 films before she caught on with the public (for a more recent example of eventual-star stamina, check out Jack Nicholson’s pre-Easy Rider [1969] resume.) Given Loy’s immense gifts as a comic actress, and her obvious sex appeal, it’s surprising it took her so long. However, until she appeared in the mob comedy-melodrama, Penthouse (1933), she was typecast either as a “bad girl” or as a multi-cultural exotic with a non-specific accent. Some producers even tried to pass her off as Asian! Continue reading