Tag Archives: 1940s

Fritz Lang – Ministry of Fear (1944)

Synopsis:
Ray Milland plays Stephen Neale–a bewildered man just released from an asylum. However, reality proves to be more surreal and perplexing than the asylum itself. Neale wanders through the streets, whimsically stopping off at a rural carnival, where he unwittingly gets involved in a complex and dangerous spy ring that is attempting to smuggle microfilm out of the country. He travels to London and hires a small-time detective to help him decipher the mysterious things that seem to constantly befall him. But things only get more confused from there, leading Stephen to Scotland Yard, where his fate entwines with a Nazi front organization, and a love affair. Read More »

Anthony Mann – Raw Deal (1948)

Synopsis:
Joe Sullivan is itching to get out of prison. He’s taken the rap for Rick, who owes him $50 Grand. Rick sets up an escape for Joe, knowing that Joe will be caught escaping and be shot or locked away forever. But with the help of his love-struck girl Pat and his sympathetic legal caseworker Ann, Joe gets further than he’s supposed to, and we are posed with two very important questions: Is Joe really the cold and heartless criminal he appears to be, or is there a heart of gold under that gritty exterior? And does Joe belong with the tough, street-wise Pat, or with the prim, moralizing Ann? Read More »

Alfred Hitchcock – Shadow of a Doubt (1943)

Synopsis:
Charlotte “Charlie” Newton is bored with her quiet life at home with her parents and her younger sister. She wishes something exciting would happen and knows exactly what they need: a visit from her sophisticated and much travelled Uncle Charlie Oakley, her mother’s younger brother. Imagine her delight when, out of the blue, they receive a telegram from Uncle Charlie announcing that he is coming to visit them for awhile. Charlie Oakley creates quite a stir and charms the ladies’ club, as well as the bank President where his brother-in-law works. Young Charlie begins to notice some odd behavior on his part, such as cutting out a story in the local paper about a man who marries and then murders rich widows. When two strangers appear asking questions about him, she begins to imagine the worst about her dearly beloved Uncle Charlie. Read More »

Jules Dassin – Brute Force (1947)

William K Everson writes:
Brute Force was touted as being by far the toughest and most violent prison film Hollywood had ever made. Many European censors felt the same way and scenes were shortened for overseas release. Actually, the violence is essentially surface violence, and earlier prison films had been rougher in a psychological sense. Nevertheless, with all of those noir icons in the cast and behind the camera (especially Miklos Rosza’s music) the film made a welcome break in the increasingly formularized cycle of big-city crime noir films. Read More »

Charles Vidor – Gilda (1946)

Synopsis:
Johnny Farrell has just arrived in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he is making a living cheating in gambling, primarily in informal street games. He begins a more stable life when, upon a chance meeting, he convinces Ballin Mundson, the violent and less than scrupulous owner of the local illegal casino, to hire him on the premise that it is better for Ballin to have the “enemy” on his side. Besides the casino, which the local authorities are aware of, Ballin is involved in an international illegal tungsten cartel. Johnny quickly rises to be Ballin’s trusted right hand man. Read More »

Henry Hathaway – Call Northside 777 (1948)

Synopsis:
When a woman places an ad in the Chicago Times offering a $5,000 reward for information that will exonerate her son, the newspaper assigns reporter P.J. McNeal to look into the case. He learns that eleven years earlier, Frank Wiecek was convicted of killing an on duty police officer in a speakeasy and was sentenced to 99 years in prison. McNeal is quite skeptical as to his innocence and only slowly comes to realize that there was a miscarriage of justice. The real question is whether he can find evidence that would convince the pardon board and obtain Wiecek’s release. Read More »

John Huston – In This Our Life (1942)

Plot Summary: A young woman (Stanley Timberlake) dumps her fiancée (Craig Fleming) and runs off with her sister’s (Roy Timberlake) husband (Peter Kingsmill)… Read More »