John Huston – The Maltese Falcon (1941)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

Synopsis:

‘Spade and Archer is the name of a San Francisco detective agency. That’s for Sam Spade and Miles Archer. The two men are partners, but Sam doesn’t like Miles much. A knockout, who goes by the name of Miss Wanderly, walks into their office; and by that night everything’s changed. Miles is dead. And so is a man named Floyd Thursby. It seems Miss Wanderly is surrounded by dangerous men. There’s Joel Cairo, who uses gardenia-scented calling cards. There’s Kasper Gutman, with his enormous girth and feigned civility. Her only hope of protection comes from Sam, who is suspected by the police of one or the other murder. More murders are yet to come, and it will all be because of these dangerous men – and their lust for a statuette of a bird: the Maltese Falcon.’
– J. Spurlin (IMDb) Continue reading

Quentin Dupieux – Réalité AKA Reality (2014)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

Quote:
Quentin Dupieux is stuck in a time warp. His new film “Reality” has a texture so washed out that it looks like it was shot in 1974 and has just been unearthed from some film vault in Paris. This is no accident. “Reality,” just like his hilarious killer tire movie “Rubber,” is an unapologetic tribute to B-movies — especially those with a high-concept plot, a dash of science fiction and actors determinedly chewing up the set.

There are several plot strands that come together like elegantly crafted origami. It’s only by watching each fold intertwine that we arrive at the beautiful final product. Continue reading

Jerzy Kawalerowicz – Pociag AKA Night Train (1959)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

Quote:
Two strangers, Jerzy (Leon Niemczyk) and Marta (Lucyna Winnicka), accidentally end up holding tickets for the same sleeping chamber on an overnight train to the Baltic Sea coast. While handsome, well dressed and rather laconic, Jerzy seems ill at ease, while Marta is not talkative and would prefer to be alone. Staszek (Zbigniew Cybulski) is a student and Marta’s spurned lover, and will not leave her alone. When the police enter the train in search of a murderer on the lam, rumors fly and everything seems to point toward one of the main characters as the culprit. [spoiler removed from quote] Continue reading

Jacques Rivette – Duelle (une quarantaine) AKA Twilight (A Quarantine) (1976)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

It all began (as things Rivettian tend to do) auspiciously enough. There were to be four films in a series originally entitled Les Filles du Feu (after Gerard de Nerval) before the more expansive Scenes de la vie parallele replaced it. Each would center on a “non-existent myth” of a battle between goddesses of the sun and the moon for a mysterious blue diamond that has the power to make mortals immortal and vice versa. Each film was to be in a different genre: a film noir, a pirate adventure, a love story, and finally a musical – the last-mentioned of whose scenario particulars hadn’t been completely worked out when the four-film project went into production. Two films were ultimately completed – Duelle (the film noir) and Noroit (1976, the pirate adventure). But two days into the shooting of the third, Histoire de Marie et Julien the metteur en scène (as Rivette always chose to call himself, auteurism be damned) suffered a nervous breakdown, and the entire project fell apart – though traces of it linger in Merry-Go-Round (1981, a paranoid conspiracy jape that has everything but the goddesses) and the semi-demi-musical Haut/Bas/Fragile (1995). Continue reading

Jack Conway – Arsène Lupin (1932)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

Synopsis by Mark Deming
John Barrymore plays a burglar and his brother Lionel Barrymore is the detective trying to catch him in this cleverly cast drama. An upscale thief who works under the name of Arsene Lupin is making the rounds of the homes of the wealthy and privileged, and Detective Guerchard (Lionel Barrymore) is determined to track him down. What he doesn’t know is that the suave and sophisticated Duke of Charmerace (John Barrymore) is actually the man behind the robberies. Will Guerchard find out the thief’s true identity before he can execute a daring theft from the Louvre Museum? Karen Morely co-stars as Sonia, the Duke’s love interest. Continue reading

George Fitzmaurice – Arsène Lupin Returns (1938)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

Synopsis by Hal Erickson
This follow-up to MGM’s 1932 John Barrymore vehicle Arsene Lupin stars the ineluctable Melvyn Douglas. Reported to be dead, suave gentleman jewel thief Arsene Lupin (Douglas) resurfaces under the assumed name of Rene Farrand. Intending to follow the straight and narrow path, Lupin/Farrand reverts to his old larcenous ways when the opportunity to pilfer $250,000 in gems presents itself. Slowing down our hero somewhat is the presence of hotshot American private eye Steve Emerson (Warren William) and glamorous adventuress Lorraine de Grissac (Virginia Bruce). Ironically, both Melvyn Douglas and Warren William also played thief-turned-sleuth Michael Lanyard, aka “The Lone Wolf”, over at Columbia. Continue reading