Frank Tashlin – The Girl Can’t Help It (1956)

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Description:
The Alphabet Murders is a 1965 British detective film based on the novel The A.B.C. Murders by Agatha Christie, starring Tony Randall as Hercule Poirot. The part of Poirot had originally been intended for Zero Mostel but the film was delayed because Agatha Christie objected to the script. The film varies significantly from the novel and emphasises comedy. Continue reading

Frank Tashlin – Artists and Models (1955)

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Jonathan Rosenbaum of the Chicago Reader wrote:

Quote:
The best Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis movie (1955) is also Frank Tashlin’s best feature at Paramount, a satire about the comic book craze with explosive uses of color and VistaVision, better-than-average songs, and much-better-than-average costars, especially Dorothy Malone and Shirley MacLaine (the latter giving Lewis a run for his money in terms of goofy mugging). Martin and Malone are comic book artists, MacLaine is a model for the Bat Lady, and Lewis is a deranged fan whose dreams wind up inspiring (or is it duplicating?) comic book stories and the coded messages of communist spies—or something like that. Five cowriters are credited along with Tashlin, but the stylistic exuberance is seamless, and this film eventually wound up providing the inspirational spark for Jacques Rivette’s late, great New Wave extravaganza Celine and Julie Go Boating (1974). With Eva Gabor and Anita Ekberg. 109 min. Continue reading

William A. Seiter – Little Church Around the Corner (1923)

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The Little Church Around the Corner is important as the first major financial success for the fledgling Warner Bros. studios. Kenneth Harlan plays a mining-town clergyman who falls in love with his benefactor’s daughter. He is about to settle into a life of cozy complacency when a group of miners come to his doorstep, asking that the minister plead to the owners for better living conditions. To prove himself to be “one” with the miners, Harlan moves into their shanty community. This causes a rift with his sweetheart’s father, who happens to be one of the owners. A cave-in, an angry mob and a supposed miracle are part and parcel of this 1923 adaptation of the war-horse Marion Russell play, which is directed with a sure, subtle hand by William A. Seiter. ~ Hal Erickson Continue reading

Fernando Fernán Gómez – El Extraño viaje AKA Strange Voyage (1964)

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Plot (From the DVD jacket):
In a small town close to the capital lives a family with three siblings: the serious and dominating Ignacia and her timid and withdrawn brother and sister, Paquita and Venancio. The monotonous life of the town is only shattered on Saturdays, when a band from Madrid comes to play their songs for the weekend dance. One stormy Saturday, Paquita and Venancio, frightened by noises, enter their sister’s room. There they think they see a mysterious fourth person. But their sister Ignacia denies it..
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W.S. Van Dyke – The Thin Man (1934)

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Comedy-mystery featuring Nick and Nora Charles: a former detective and his rich, playful wife. They solve a murder case mostly for the fun of it. Young Dorothy Wynant approaches amateur sleuth Nick Charles when her inventor father appears to be a major suspect in a murder case. In fact, Dorothy is so worried about her father’s guilt that she tries to convince Nick that she did it. Nick’s wife Nora wants him on the case so that she can experience some of the excitement herself. However, Nick is reluctant to get involved until he sees that police Lt. Guild is coming to the wrong conclusions. Nick decides that the best way to clear up the case is to invite all the suspects to dinner with Lt. Guild and see what happens..
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Chantal Akerman – Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1976)

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In the unnerving silence of a sparsely furnished kitchen in Brussels, a poised, anonymous middle-aged woman (Delphine Seyrig) – identified only through the title of the film as Jeanne Dielman – completes her food preparation, places the contents into a large cooking pot on the stove, reaches for a match, lights the burner, and with chronological precision, finishes replacing the matchbox from its original location as the doorbell rings, switching the lights off as she leaves the room. The scene then cuts to an unusually framed shot of a truncated Jeanne at the entrance of the apartment as she accepts a hat and coat from an unidentified guest (Henri Storck) before retreating, out of view, into a bedroom at the end of the hallway. Moments later, the obscured image is reconnected to a familiar referential framing of the darkened hallway as the unknown guest re-emerges from the room and prepares to leave, handing Jeanne a pre-arranged sum of money before confirming their next appointment for the following week. She deposits the money in a soup tureen in the dining room, then returns to the kitchen to attend to the boiling pot, before tidying the bedroom and meticulously bathing and changing clothes after the encounter. And so Jeanne’s monotonous daily ritual unfolds through the tedium of household chores, impersonal sexual transactions, trivial errands, and alienated conversations with her son, Sylvain (Jan Decorte), revealing the silent anguish of disconnection and systematic erosion of the human soul. Continue reading