Coup de Grâce (German: Der Fangschuß, French: Le Coup de grâce) is a 1976 West German film directed by Volker Schlöndorff. It was adapted from the novel by the same name by the French author Marguerite Yourcenar. The title comes from the French expression, meaning “finishing blow”.
Synopsis: A countess’ unrequited love for an army officer leads to disaster. Latvia, 1919: the end of the Russian Civil War. An aristocratic young woman (brilliantly played by Margarethe von Trotta) becomes involved with a sexually repressed Prussian soldier. When she is rejected by her love, the young woman is sent into a downward spiral of psychosexual depression, promiscuity, and revolutionary collaboration. A startling tale of heartbreak and violence set against the backdrop of bloody revolution, Volker Schlöndorff’s Coup de grâce is a powerful film that explores the interrelation of private passion and political commitment.
In the third and final film of Rossellini’s WWII trilogy, the director shifts his focus from his native Italy to the bombed-out ruins of Berlin, where 12-year-old Edmund Koehler struggles for survival. Among the nine people he lives with are: a father, who is suffering from malnutrition and a fatal illness; a brother, who is a former Nazi soldier hiding to avoid arrest; and a sister, who has turned to prostitution. Scouring the rubble-strewn city for food, money, and cigarettes, he comes upon a former teacher, Herr Enning (Erich Guhne), who evinces a barely restrained sexual attraction to the boy while providing him with records of Hitler’s speeches that can be bartered on the black market. He also drums into the boy a classic piece of Nazi propaganda about the importance of having the courage to let the weak be destroyed. Under his influence, the confused young protagonist heads down a tragic path.
~ Michael Costello, AMG Continue reading
Wounded and weakened in Korean prison camps, GIs descend from the plane that returned them to U.S. soil. It is a time of tearful family reunions. A time of uncertainty about how to help traumatized men. And a time of reckoning: Capt. Edward W. Hall Jr., a silver-star hero and ex-POW, faces trial for collaboration with the enemy. Paul Newman’s richly complex portrayal of Hall sets the tone of acting excellence found throughout The Rack. How much can a POW be expected to endure before breaking? Should his own past and emotional vulnerabilities be weighed against the miltary’s policy of name, rank and serial number? The issues remain timelessly relevant in this probing courtroom drama adapted from a Rod Serling teleplay. Continue reading
Steve McQueen is Buzz Rickson, a B17 pilot during WWII. Rickson’s brashness serves him well during wartime, but he finds that he feels out of place during everyday civilian life. His more mild-mannered co-pilot, Bo Bolland (Robert Wagner), however, lives only to get through the war to resume his life with his girl, Daphne (Shirley Anne Field). This wartime character study is based on a novel by John Hersey, who also wrote the screenplay. Continue reading
Shot almost entirely on location in Greece in an awesome deep-focus newreel-documentary style black-and-white (with the emphasis on the blacks), `Le Soldattesse’ is the story a group of prostitutes that have been recruited for the military brothels of Italian soldiers during WW II, and the long truck ride they take trying to get to their destinations through a war-torn mountainous area. Three military men of different rank have the job of taking them through, and the relationships they develop with the girls on this trip is the real subject matter of the film. Sublimely beautiful Sixties New-Wave icon Anna Karina plays the most cheerful of the ladies of leisure but there are no real leads in the film, all 5 or 6 of the main characters are given equal screen time and Zurlini never falters once as he draws poetic and hilarous performances full of insights from each character. On a higher level “Le Soldattese” becomes a deep examination of one relatively minor but revealing absurdity (prostitutes being carried to brothels in a war-torn area to boost troop morale) overlapping the bigger, related absurdity of the war itself and Mussolini-era fascism. Continue reading
May 1940 – Germany invades Europe, people panic and try to flee by any means possible. In France, Julien, a radio repairman, boards a train with his wife and child. As the men are placed in cattle cars with only the women and elderly allowed in the passenger cars, events begin their fateful turning as the insignificant repairman encounters an attractive fugitive and love begins – a doomed love. Continue reading
Review from the Criterion website :
This was Roberto Rossellini’s revelation, a harrowing drama about the Nazi occupation of Rome and the brave few who struggled against it. Though told with more melodramatic flair than the other films that would form this trilogy and starring some well-known actors—Aldo Fabrizi as a priest helping the partisan cause and Anna Magnani in her breakthrough role as the fiancée of a resistance member—Rome Open City (Roma città aperta) is a shockingly authentic experience, conceived and directed amid the ruin of World War II, with immediacy in every frame. Marking a watershed moment in Italian cinema, this galvanic work garnered awards around the globe and left the beginnings of a new film movement in its wake. Continue reading