Vincente Minnelli – A Matter of Time (1976)


The final film of Vincente Minnelli

Vincente Minnelli’s final film, A Matter of Time (1976), is both a love letter to the prodigious talents of his daughter Liza, and a fond farewell to the Golden Age of Hollywood–the era during which he did his best work, long gone by 1976. The film is based on the Maurice Druon novel, La volupté d’être (Film of Memory, 1954), which in turn was loosely based on the life of early 20th century art patroness and muse Marchesa Luisa Casati. The Contessa Sanziani (Ingrid Bergman) is a Belle Epoque courtesan who, like the real-life Casati, has fallen on hard times and is living in a shabby Roman hotel. Half-mad and enveloped in memories, the Contessa recounts her past triumphs to an impressionable hotel maid, Nina (Liza Minnelli), who imagines herself playing out the Contessa’s fabled life. As the Contessa fades, Nina blossoms…. Read More »

John Farrow – A Bullet Is Waiting (1954)


Plot Synopsis by Hal Erickson
A young woman (Jean Simmons) manages a remote California sheep ranch with her father (Brian Aherne). A plane carrying a sheriff (Stephen McNally) and a convicted murderer (Rory Calhoun) crashes nearby. Both men are cared for by the girl, who doesn’t know at first which is the cop and which is the criminal. She falls in love with the convicted man and believes protestations of innocence, but the vindictive sheriff tries to dissuade her of these feelings. Given several chances to finish each other off, both sheriff and convict relent. Under the influence of the girl, they agree to return to Utah together, where (it is implied) the criminal will be given a bias-free trial. Read More »

John Ford – 7 Women (1966)



John Ford’s final film is set in China in 1935, where a group of American women, led by Agatha Andrews (Margaret Leighton), work as missionaries. One of the women, Florrie (Betty Field), is pregnant and accompanied by her husband, Charles (Eddie Albert), while the others are single and on their own. The mission has become crowded after a cholera epidemic forced several outsiders to flee a nearby British mission and seek shelter with the American group, while a Mongol warrior, Tunga Khan (Mike Mazurki), has assembled troops who are sacking the area. When a female doctor, Dr. D.L. Cartwright (Anne Bancroft), enters the picture, she attempts to bring humor and civility to the group, but her tough yet compassionate nature clashes with Agatha’s by-the-book approach, and when Cartwright is willing to put her own safety at risk to gain the attentions of Tunga Khan and slow his onslaught, the group is strongly divided — most of the women admire the doctor’s bravery, but Agatha (who seems to have a non-professional interest in Cartwright herself) considers her foolish and reckless. Seven Women was originally planned to star Patricia Neal as Dr. Cartwright, but when she suffered a stroke during filming that put her acting career on hold for several years, Anne Bancroft was recast in the role. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide Read More »

John Ford – How Green Was My Valley [+Extras] (1941)


Joseph McBride, Searching for John Ford wrote:
Ford was not the first director assigned to the film by Darryl F.Zanuck. William Wyler spent three months preparing the picture. he cast many of the parts, oversaw the construction of the sets designed by Richard Day and nathan Juran, and spent ten weeks working on the script with Phillip Dunne. in Dunne’s view Ford made little contribution to the script beyond adding some bits of business and lines of dialogue… But while others were primarily involved for shaping the adaptation of the novel before Ford was assigned to the project, Dunne nevertheless acknowledged to me that Ford “did what any good director does — he made it his picture while shooting it.” Read More »

John Ford – Mother Machree (1928)


from Waldo’s announce

Reels one, two and five — all that survives, unfortunately, of this late silent film by John Ford, though it’s enough to suggest that it might have been a major work. The story, supposedly based on the sentimental Irish ballad, is a blend of “Sylvia Scarlet” and “Stella Dallas,” about a single mother who joins a traveling circus (lead by Victor McLaglen) to support her child, only to eventually lose him to a rich couple. She meets her son (Neil Hamilton) years later when she’s employed as a domestic, and now he’s a swaggering young society man. Does she reveal her identity to him? We’ll never know, since the end of the film is missing. What you do get is one heck of a storm sequence in the first reel, filmed by Ford in the high expressionist style he was then absorbing from FW Murnau. Read More »

Michael Haneke – Variation (1983)


Haneke depicts the emotional story of an adulterous relationship between a journalist and a teacher. The film poignantly explores the difficult dynamics between people who love one another but still can’t keep from hurting one another. Variation has been described by its director as being closer to John Cassavetes than to Hollywood melodrama. Read More »

István Szabó – Édes Emma, drága Böbe – vázlatok, aktok aka Sweet Emma, Dear Böbe – Sketches, Nudes (1992)

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Emma has moved to Budapest from the countryside with her good friend Böbe, and both of them have taken jobs as schoolteachers. However, their wages are pitifully small, and all they can afford in the way of housing is a shared room in a boarding house near the airport. The two women have settled into their lives, but it isn’t easy: Emma’s sexual affair with the school’s married principal is not emotionally satisfying, and Böbe’s penchant for picking up foreigners and bringing them back to their room for sex creates unpleasant situations, to say the least. At school, it used to be clear what the quickest route to success was, but now that the “communists” are no longer in power, a lot of the senior people are floundering in uncertainty. Eventually, Emma gains the courage to strike out on her own. ~ Clarke Fountain, All Movie Guide Read More »