John Cromwell – Caged (1950)


Caged, considered the best woman’s prison film ever made, represents a union between realistic socially conscious drama and the more stylized world of film noir. Marie, (Eleanor Parker), is sentenced to prison for helping her husband in a small robbery. The prison is run by the sadistic matron Evelyn (Hope Emerson) who is secure in her position due to corrupt political influence. The film shows Marie’s slow disillusionment with society and her eventual decision to become a prostitute in order to gain parole after observing her friend and fellow inmate Kitty (Betty Garde) lose her sanity and murder their oppressor Evelyn. With this uncompromisingly pessimistic statement on human nature, John Cromwell reaches his peak as a director. Under his expert direction, Eleanor Parker gives the best performance of her career and creates a convincing metamorphosis from a innocent young girl to a hardened criminal. Her performance is nuanced, low-keyed and emotionally charged. Equally impressive is Cromwell’s visual realization of the claustrophobia of prison life, aided by the high-contrast photography of Carl Guthrie. This excellent, grim drama is uncompromising in its refusal to sentimentalize the plight of Marie as a victim or to absolve her of her role in her fate, nor does it absolve society as it shows the results of desperation and brutalization on human dignity. — Linda Rasmussen Continue reading

Victor Fleming – Red Dust (1932)


Conditions are spartan on Dennis Carson’s Indochina rubber plantation during a dusty dry monsoon. The latest boat upriver brings Carson an unwelcome guest: Vantine, a floozy from Saigon, hoping to evade the police by a stay upcountry. But Carson, initially uninterested, soon succumbs to Vantine’s ostentatious charms…until the arrival of surveyor Gary Willis, ill with malaria, and his refined but sensuous wife Barbara. Now the rains begin, and passion flows like water… Continue reading

Joseph L. Mankiewicz – 5 Fingers [+Extras] (1952)


Synopsis (possible spoilers):

“Based on a true story. In neutral Turkey during WWII, the ambitious and extremely efficient valet for the British ambassador tires of being a servant and forms a plan to promote himself to rich gentleman of leisure. His employer has many secret documents; he will photograph them, and with the help of a refugee Countess, sell them to the Nazis. When he makes a certain amount of money, he will retire to South America with the Countess as his wife.”
– Ken Yousten (IMDb) Continue reading

Frank Capra – Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936)


Mr. Deeds Goes to Town is a 1936 American screwball comedy film directed by Frank Capra, starring Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur in her first featured role. Based on the 1935 short story “Opera Hat” by Clarence Budington Kelland, which appeared in serial form in the Saturday Evening Post, the screenplay was written by Robert Riskin in his fifth collaboration with Frank Capra.
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Curt McDowell – Thundercrack! (1975)


from imdb
A true underground satire, 11 October 1999
Author: Dave Godin (Dave G) from Sheffield, England

THUNDERCRACK! is, in a strange way, a scurrilous precursor of DEAD MEN DON’T WEAR PLAID, and with wicked wit and precision, subverts not only the entire `grammar’ of film, but an endless succession of Hollywood images, situations and clichés in the process. It even manages to satirise pornography; no mean feat when such images still retain their power to shock and unsettle some people! Using the familiar “lonely-house on a storm-swept night acting as a safe haven for lost and confused travellers” scenario, (some chance!!), it explores the manners and mores of `normal’ society with such wicked wit that only the most puritanical would not be capable of responding. Thankfully made in black-and-white, the entire cast and, it appears, crew, throw themselves into the venture without inhibition or qualm, and the result is Hollywood turned on it’s head, and all those previously `hidden’ and subliminal subplots exposed for what they really are. For broad-minded adults, a most amusing and entertaining tonic, showing perhaps, that even sex should not be taken TOO seriously. Continue reading

Stanley Kubrick – Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)


In 1964, with the Cuban Missile Crisis fresh in viewers’ minds, the Cold War at its frostiest, and the hydrogen bomb relatively new and frightening, Stanley Kubrick dared to make a film about what could happen if the wrong person pushed the wrong button — and played the situation for laughs.

Dr. Strangelove’s jet-black satire (from a script by director Stanley Kubrick, Peter George, and Terry Southern) and a host of superb comic performances (including three from Peter Sellers) have kept the film fresh and entertaining, even as its issues have become (slightly) less timely. Loaded with thermonuclear weapons, a U.S. bomber piloted by Maj. T.J. “King” Kong (Slim Pickens) is on a routine flight pattern near the Soviet Union when they receive orders to commence Wing Attack Plan R, best summarized by Maj. Kong as “Nuclear combat! Toe to toe with the Russkies!” On the ground at Burpleson Air Force Base, Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake (Peter Sellers) notices nothing on the news about America being at war. Continue reading