Polish-born Jean Epstein’s Finis Terrae is momentous.
While every film exists on a sliding scale of expression whose opposite poles are documentary and fiction, this film in particular does more than merely combine the two modes; it anticipates generic (as distinct from stylistic) attempts – poetic docudrama; Italian Neorealism – to fuse them. How successful Epstein’s film is remains in dispute; its importance is incontestable.
The initial action is set on Bannec, a Breton islet. It is summer. Two boys, in their teens or, perhaps, early twenties, are on the islet to work. These dear friends are Jean-Marie and Ambroise (played by Jean-Marie Laot and Ambroise Rouzic). They quarrel; Ambroise withdraws from Jean-Marie and another boy in their group as a cut finger causes infection and saps his health. Jean-Marie attempts to row himself to Ouessant, on the mainland, but hasn’t the strength. Braving the elements, which include dense fog, Jean-Marie takes over, attempting to bring Ambroise to a medical doctor; meanwhile, the doctor is heading to Bannec to attend to the sick boy. Will the two vessels miss one another in the fog and tragedy result?
Plot Synopsis by Craig Butler (AllMovie):
English actor Clive Brook’s only directorial effort, On Approval, is based upon Frederick Lonsdale’s frothy 1926 play, though reset in the late 19th century. Brook plays George, a titled duke whose wealth has largely been spent but who has no intention of settling further into genteel poverty. George is enormously appealing to Helen (played by Googie Withers), a good-natured American heiress, and is equally appalling to Maria (Bea Lillie), an Englishwoman of considerable means. The imperious Maria is dating the eternally devoted Richard (Roland Culver), who worships her. Maria decides that she will marry Richard — after he spends a month with her in a secluded Scottish castle, where she will try him out “on approval.” Maria, however, does not intend to discover whether they are suitable for all aspects of marriage; every night he is to row across the loch and spend his nights at a local inn. Neither Maria nor Richard will lack for company, though, as George and Helen invite themselves along. Things get complicated when it turns out that there are no rooms available at the inn, leaving the men to share the castle with the women — a prospect that so horrifies the servants that they promptly leave the two couples high and dry. Left to their own devices, the foursome get to know each other — and they don’t necessarily like what they find. Continue reading
From two American masters comes a movie like no other
While helicopters overhead spray against a Medfly infestation a group of Los Angeles lives intersect, some casually, some to more lasting effect. Whilst they go out to concerts and jazz clubs and even have their pools cleaned, they also lie, drink, and cheat. Death itself seems never to be far away, even on a fishing trip. Continue reading
Martin finds a whole series of excuses to subtly invade his sport teacher Sebastian’s privacy, ending up spending a night in his apartment. But when Martin’s intentions dawn on him, the teacher has already been compromised. It takes a tragic accident for Sebastian to become aware of his own feelings for Martin. Continue reading
Hallam is almost over the sudden death of his mother when he begins to suspect that his beautiful step mother may have had a hand in her death, and it doesn‘t help that Hallam fancies her rotten. After a confrontation with his step mum, Hallam escapes to Edinburgh. Out of money and out of friends, he finds his tree–top skills well suited to the rooftops of the city, where he lives ferally, attempting to avoid the perils of the streets below and becoming obsessed with a gorgeous girl who happens to look just like his mother. Continue reading
In the early 19th century, a carefree Irishman named Charles Adare (Michael Wilding) travels to Australia to make his fortune, with the help of his cousin, the colonial governor. After encountering disreputable landowner and ex-convict Sam Flusky (Joseph Cotten), he becomes enmeshed in an intrigue involving Flusky’s highborn wife Henrietta (Ingrid Bergman) whom he had known as a child in Ireland. Charles encourages Henrietta to break out of her despair and alcoholism, but meets with disturbing opposition from the Fluskys’ imperious housekeeper (Margaret Leighton). Continue reading
Several survivors of a torpedoed ship find themselves in the same boat with one of the men who sunk it.
In the Atlantic during WWII, a ship and a German U-boat are involved in a battle and both are sunk. The survivors from the ship gather in one of the boats. They are from a variety of backgrounds: an international journalist, a rich businessman, the radio operator, a nurse, a steward, a sailor and an engineer with communist tendencies. Trouble starts when they pull a man out of the water who turns out to be from the U-boat. Continue reading