1951-1960

Orson Welles – Around the World with Orson Welles (1955)



“Around the World with Orson Welles (1955) is a series of 26-minute TV documentaries, made for British television. Five of the episodes survive, and have been collected and released on a DVD. Welles compared the series to home movies. This is a bit misleading. There are travelogue sections shot silent, edited together with narration by Welles – segments that do resemble in form the average person’s vacation films of the era. But there are also extensive synch sound interviews with people Welles meets in his travels. These parts are a bit like a talk show, although they are generally set on locations where the person lives, rather than in a studio. In general, Welles resists “voice of authority” narration here, and tries to disguise his comments as elements of conversation with another character. Welles will also frequently show the camera, microphone, and the camera crews filming. It is part of the spectacle. Read More »

Tomu Uchida – Yôtô monogatari: hana no Yoshiwara hyakunin-giri AKA Hero of the Red Light District AKA Killing in Yoshiwara (1960)



Overview:
On the surface, this may seem to be an early example of the Japanese exploitation films that would become very popular about five years later. In fact, this film occasionally feels like Seijun Suzuki’s own interpretation, if only for the technicolor cinematography and the presence of some sleazy elements. However, past the surface, this is still very much a Tomu Uchida film. His compassion towards his character and the issues they face, is handled delicately and his semi-cynical humor is as apparent as ever. Still, I’d be lying if I said this was on the same level as Uchida’s own Bloody Spear on Mount Fuji. Read More »

Ida Lupino – The Hitch-Hiker (1953)


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The Hitch-Hiker is the most well-known movie in Kino on Video’s “Ida Lupino–Queen of the B’s” video series. In the past, The Hitch-Hiker has been available in poor video transfers from small video companies. Now thanks to this pristine print, this taut, suspense-filled film noir can be better appreciated. The only film noir directed by a woman, The Hitch-Hiker tells the story of two buddies (Edmund O’Brien and Frank Lovejoy) on a fishing trip. Unbeknownst to them, however, the police are pursing a psychotic killer who hitches rides and then kills the occupants of the cars. (This character is based upon drifter William Edward Cook and the news coverage that followed his 1950 murder spree in the Southwest.) Emmet Meyers (played by William Talman) becomes a forerunner of the killer in Henry–Portrait of a Serial Killer. Without any remorse, he kills and then moves on to the next victim. O’Brien and Lovejoy make the mistake of stopping to pick up a hitchhiker and soon find themselves looking into the barrel of a .38 caliber revolver. Read More »

Andrew L. Stone – Cry Terror! (1958)

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Plot:
A wife, a daughter, a steady job. Yesterday Jim Molner was an ordinary guy. Today he’s a desperate man, frantically trying to save himself and his family, held hostage by a demented terrorist who’s demanding $500,000 not to detonate a bomb he’s planted on a domestic airliner. James Mason and Rod Steiger head an “A” cast in a jolting, psychology-driven thriller that, like The Desperate Hours, Suddenly and other 1950s films, turns home sweet home into the tense site of a family held hostage. Cry Terror! adds a sweaty layer of sexual tension as well, provided by Angie Dickinson as the terrorist’s sinuous moll and Neville Brand as his benny-addled henchman, salivating over Molner’s distraught wife (Inger Stevens). From Warner Brothers! Read More »

Henri-Georges Clouzot – Le Mystére Picasso (1956)

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Plot Synopsis by Hal Erickson:
Released shortly after Luciano Emmer’s documentary Picasso, H. G. Clouzot’s Le Mystère Picasso managed to attain better international bookings than the earlier film, largely on the strength of Clouzot’s worldwide hit Les Diaboliques. Like Emmer before him, Clouzot offers rare and precious glimpses of Pablo Picasso at work. The film traces two of the artist’s paintings, from inception to pencil sketch to final product. The director comes as close as humanly possible to defining the genius of Picasso within the parameters of the camera lens. Oddly, Le Mystère Picasso does not appear on many of the “official” lists of Clouzot’s films, even though it won a Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Read More »

Andrew L. Stone – The Night Holds Terror (1955)

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Plot:
A group of escaped convicts take over a suburban home to evade the ongoing police manhunt, making the lives of the family living there a nightmare. The longer the men stay there, the more the tensions build and the more likely it becomes a tragedy will occur. Based on a real-life hostage-taking. Read More »

Marcel Carné – Juliette ou La clef des songes AKA Juliette, or Key of Dreams (1951)

Synopsis:
Having been caught stealing money from his employer to pay for a holiday with his girlfriend Juliette, Michel finds himself in a prison cell. He falls into a deep sleep and awakes to find the door of his cell open. Stepping through the doorway, he finds himself in the most beautiful sun-drenched countryside. A peaceful country road leads him to a remote village whose inhabitants have lost their memory. Husbands and wives no longer recognise one another but everyone seems to know Juliette when Michel enquires about her… Read More »