Stuart Heisler – The Glass Key (1942)

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Quote:
This is a solid remake of the 1935 film of the same name about big-city political corruption, and it starred Edward Arnold as the corrupt political boss and George Raft as his loyal lieutenant. Stuart Heisler directs this film noir in a workmanlike manner (though, the changed hard-edged ending from the novel is a copout). It is similar themed but less effective than The Maltese Falcon, which was also based on a Dashiell Hammet novel. The Glass Key was supposedly the inspiration for Kurosawa’s Yojimbo. The title refers to the political boss backing a candidate based on the expectation of being rewarded with the key to the governor’s house if all goes according to plan, but is breakable if there’s a betrayal. For Paramount this was a big box-office film because of the star team of Veronica Lake and Alan Ladd, who sparkled as lovers with opposite personalities. Continue reading

Terence Young – Bloodline (1979)

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Synopsis:
Sam Roffe, president of a multi-national pharmaceutical corporation, is killed while mountain-climbing. It is first determined to be an accident, but Inspector Max Hormung later deduces that Roffe was murdered. Sam’s daughter Elizabeth assumes control of the company, and while traveling through Europe she immediately becomes a target as well. Continue reading

Marshall Neilan – The Little Princess (1917)

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Synopsis:Captain Richard Carewe, a wealthy British officer stationed in India, sends his daughter Sara to Miss Minchin’s school in London to be educated. Dubbed “the Little Princess,” because of her father’s vast wealth, Sara soon plunges to the position of scullery maid when news arrives of the captain’s death and the loss of her fortune. Mistreated by Miss Minchin, Sara comforts fellow slavey Becky with fairy stories. John Carrisford, an old friend of the captain’s, comes to live in the house next door. Unaware that Sara is there, Carrisford sympathizes with the lonely waifs and decides to provide them with a merry Christmas. Carrisford and his servant Ram Dass set a sumptuous feast for the girls in the attic, and Sara and Becky are about to dig in when Miss Minchin enters and punishes them. Carrisford interferes, and it develops that Crewe’s alleged worthless investment has become successful, and Sara is again an heiress. Carrisford takes charge of Sara and Becky and all ends happily. Continue reading

Alfred Hitchcock – Mr. & Mrs. Smith (1941)

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Mr. and Mrs. Smith represented a change of pace for director Alfred Hitchcock. Out of his 50+ films, this one was his only comedy. Sure, The Master of Suspense usually added humorous touches to all of his films, but Mr. and Mrs. Smith was his only out and out farce.

The plot revolves around the Smiths, an otherwise happily married couple (Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery) who have a shocking conversation over breakfast in which Mr. Smith reveals that if he had to do it all over again, he wouldn’t get married. This sends Mrs. Smith into a huff and she starts PMSing on him. Then the Smiths learn through some contrivance that their marriage isn’t legal and after Mr. Smith doesn’t propose right away, Mrs. Smith goes into a snit and starts seeing other people. From there, the couple vie for each other’s affections by making the other one jealous until they finally realize they’re still in love. Continue reading

Rowland V. Lee – Zoo in Budapest (1933)

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Brief Synopsis from TCM:
Zani is an unusual young man who has spent his entire life in a zoo in Budapest. His only true friends are the zoo’s animals. When Zani meets Eve, a young orphan girl, they fall in love. To be together Eve must somehow escape from her strict orphan school. When she does she and Zani must hide overnight in the zoo – where everyone is looking to find them. Continue reading

John Sayles – Passion Fish (1992)

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Character and dialogue are the driving forces in writer-director John Sayles’ movies. In Passion Fish, Sayles delivers a quality screenplay, and Mary McDonnell and Alfre Woodard do his script justice with some of the most accomplished work of their careers. McDonnell — who also stood out in the director’s Matewan — brings surprising originality to the role of the haggard, self-pitying accident victim, and Woodard never becomes a stereotypical provider of “tough love.” Vondie Curtis-Hall and Sayles regular David Strathairn offer colorful supporting turns. Passion Fish was the director’s simplest, most elegant work since his second feature, 1983’s Lianna. McDonnell and Sayles would be nominated for Academy Awards, and Sayles would also be nominated for his screenplay. ~ Brendon Hanley, All Movie Guide Continue reading