Joseph M. Newman – Twenty Plus Two (1961)


The plot of this near-noir is very convoluted, but the director keeps a steady pace and there is enough incidental interest to avoid confusion or boredom. When a Hollywood secretary is found murdered, Tom Alder (Janssen), a “finder of missing persons”, is hired to investigate the murder, but quickly sees a link between the secretary and a the long-missing daughter of a wealthy family. Complications involve some colorful characters: Leroy Dane (Brad Dexter), a big movie star, Mrs Delaney (Agnes Moorehead) the missing girl’s mother, Jacques Pleschette (Jacques Aubuchon) a shady figure who tries to hire Tom to find his missing brother. All these actors give top drawer performances, with Moorehead a standout for the way she takes complete control of her single scene with Janssen. Excellent too is Dina Merrill as Nikki (her Tokyo-set flashback with Janssen is quite impressive). Also fine in the cast are Jeanne Crain, Robert Strauss, and William Demarest, doing a convincing turn as a down-and-out drunken newspaper man. Read More »

Abel Ferrara – Crime Story (1986)


Chicago, 1963. As head of the police department’s Major Crime Unit, Lieutenant Michael Torello must deal with the city’s most dangerous criminals. And possibly the most dangerous of all is Ray Luca, a young ambitious street hood who’s out to gain wealth and power by whatever means – including theft, threats, extortion and murder. As Luca begins his ruthless climb up the ladder of organized crime, leaving a growing number of victims in his wake, Torello becomes more and more determined to bring him down. Read More »

Abel Ferrara – Fear City (1984)


Description: In New York City, a psycho killer is stalking and randomly slashing and killing strippers working in various nightclubs. Matt Rossi is a former boxer trying to escape his past whom is currently employed at a talent agency which caters exotic dancers to the mafia-controlled strip clubs all over Manhattan. Matt and his business partner, Nicky, are relentlessly dogged by Al Wheeler, a persistent police detective on the case of the murdered strippers, and hoping to find something to nail both Matt and Nicky on. Matt is trying to reconcile with his former flame, Loretta, whom also works as a dancer and has a off-again, on-again drug problem. With the police constantly hounding them, and under pressure from his mob boss and other bosses to do something, Matt must somehow face his inner demons to find the killer before he strikes again. Read More »

W.S. Van Dyke – Manhattan Melodrama (1934)


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Manhattan Melodrama (1934) is considered a classic mostly for its high-powered casting. William Powell and Clark Gable play two disadvantaged boys (Mickey Rooney is young Gable) who grow up to be a respected District Attorney and a notorious gambler, respectively, and Myrna Loy is the ‘swell dame’ who loves them both but chooses the ‘good’ one. It’s the familiar good boy/bad boy plotting we remember from old Warner Bros. pictures. MGM soaks the entire tale in a barely restrained piety that includes periodic appearances by a friendly priest (Leo Carrillo).

Loy’s Eleanor Packer begins as an unhappy gambler’s moll to Gable’s Blackie Gallagher, a ‘noble’ crook forever defending his good name in the underworld. Powell’s Jim Wade tells Blackie of his intention to clean up the city, and, old pal that he is, Blackie encourages him. Eleanor decides that she prefers Wade’s clean living to Gallagher’s diamonds and yachts, but Blackie holds no ill will even after she throws him over. A couple of murders later, Blackie goes to prison and possible execution refusing to defend himself, with the noble motive that he doesn’t want to drag honest politician Wade down with him. Read More »

Bogdan Mustata – O zi buna de plaja aka A Good Day For A Swim (2007)


winner of the Golden Bear 2008 for International Short Film

This harrowing short film — winner of the Golden Bear at this year’s Berlin Film Festival — follows the trail of a trio of young sociopaths as they pick up a young woman they find at the side of the road and take her to the beach for a day of amoral pursuits. Not for the squeamish.

“The compelling story, sparingly told, of three juvenile delinquents who break out of prison. The beach beckons. Violence is nothing but a game. And the wedding is celebrated in handcuffs.“ (Maike Mia Höhne) Read More »

Russell Rouse – The Thief (1952)

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A telephone rings in the dark—three times, pauses, then rings three times again. A fully-clothed figure lights a cigarette before rising from bed, dons a raincoat, then sets out into the night. Another figure emerges from the shadows, lights a cigarette, then discards a crumpled cigarette pack, which the first picks up and carries home. Back in his room, the first man places the refuse on his desk, paces apprehensively about his apartment before he finally removes the inner foil and examines it. After letting what it reveals sink in, he sets it on fire, and a cold look comes over his face… Read More »

Claude Chabrol – Les fantômes du chapelier AKA The Hatter’s Ghost (1982)


In this murder mystery, a homicidal maniac goes on a killing spree beginning with his wife. He then kills six of her friends and is preparing to murder a seventh when the intended victim dies naturally. As a substitute, he murders his favorite hooker, leading the police right to him. Read More »