List List Bang Bang

October 3, 2010

2010 (October to December) – Screening Log

Filed under: 2010,Screening Log — misterjiggy @ 8:51 pm


 Last Updated: January 1, 2011






  • Drive a Crooked Road (1954 – Richard Quine) pro(-) (cable)
  • Liebelei (1933 – Max Ophuls) pro (on-line)
  • Drive, He Said (1971 – Jack Nicholson) mixed (Blu-Ray)
  • A Hole in the Head (1959 – Frank Capra) mixed(-) (cable)
  • Me and Orson Welles (2008 – Richard Linklater) mixed(+) (cable)
  • The Fighter (2010 – David O. Russell) pro (+) (Theater)
  • True Grit (2010 – Joel & Ethan Coen) PRO(-) (Theater)
  • True Grit (1969 – Henry Hathaway) pro(-) (cable)
  • Bitter End of a Sweet Night (1961 – Yoshishige Yoshida) pro (on-line)
  • The Only Game in Town (1970 – George Stevens) con (on-line)
  • Alex in Wonderland (1970 – Paul Mazursky) con(+) (cable)
  •  Vernon, Florida (1981 – Errol Morris) pro (DVD)
  • The Suspect (1944 – Robert Siodmak) pro (on-line)
  • The Thin Blue Line (1988 – Errol Morris) pro(+) (DVD)
  • The Out-of-Towners (1970 – Arthur Hiller) pro (cable)

This one joke film – a sort of whatever can go wrong will go wrong story of urban dread – is surprisingly dark for its mainstream pedigree (Arthur Hiller, Neil Simon, Jack Lemmon) and, if you’re properly disposed, funny and effective.  You won’t find many actors with less quirks, tics or mannerisms than the two leads here, those love ‘em or hate ‘em audience dividers Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis (playing the fish out of water couple from Twin Oaks, Ohio), but they worked for me (Ms. Dennis offered a surprising comforting ease that diluted Lemmon’s frantic neurotic grandstanding).  Unlike more current comedic takes on NYC outsider angst like Date Night with its slightly more preposterous situations, the circumstances here are at least grounded in a type of reality, what with the muggings, garbage and transit strikes, hotel reservation fiascos, airport delays and missing baggage.  While hardly subversive I was surprised to find The Out-of-Towners to be somewhat in the sprit to urban critique black comedies of the era like Little Murders or warmer and fuzzier urban (counter)culture shock offerings like The Landlord. Must admit I’ve always equated director Hiller with a certain type of underachieving bland commercial product, but perhaps I should reassess – certainly the strong current of cynicism exhibited in Hiller’s other Neil Simon scripted films Plaza Suite and the downbeat The Lonely Guy, his  Paddy Chayefsky scripted films The Americanization of Emily and The Hospital (or even the non-Chayefsky Chayefsky-esque (unsuccessful) institutional satire Teachers), and the offbeat and riotous The In-Laws all produce more than just a little edge.

  • Winter’s Bone (2010 – Debra Granik) pro (Blu-Ray)
  • Inside Daisy Clover (1965 – Robert Mulligan) mixed(-) (cable)
  • Gates of Heaven (1978 – Errol Morris) pro(+) (DVD)
  • Smart Money (1931 – Alfred E. Green) pro(-) (DVD)
  • Saddle the Wind (1958 – Robert Parrish) pro (DVD)
  • Cousin, Cousine (1975 – Jean Charles Tacchella) pro (on-line)
  • The Getaway (1972 – Sam Peckinpah) pro (DVD)
  • Turkish Delight (1973 – Paul Verhoeven) pro (DVD)
  • Susan Slept Here (1954 – Frank Tashlin) mixed(+) (cable)
  • The Girl Who Played with Fire (2009 – Daniel Alfredson) mixed(+) (DVD)
  • Black Friday (1940 – Arthur Lubin) pro(-) (DVD)

The story is never even remotely plausible (“brain transplantation”!) but this film is generally fun and compelling. Easily the most surprising thing about Black Friday is that Universal horror top of the bill icons Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi are completely upstaged by prolific character actor Stanley Ridges in the key Jekyll and Hyde-ish duo role.  A little research into the production history reveals rumors that the three key roles were originally to be shuffled between the three actors with Karloff taking the Ridges part and Lugosi the Karloff part.  Nevertheless Ridges moves with great ease from playing a meek and kindly literature Professor names Kingsley to a man possessed by the spirit of a ruthless but deceased gangster colorfully named Red Cannon.  The plot is not so much The Hands of Orloc (hands of a knife throwing murderer are surgically grafted onto a sensitive pianist) but rather the Brain of Orloc.  Despite the B budget Ridges’ good/bad act is on par with the earlier like spirited (though comic) performance by Edward G. Robinson as a humble clerk/vicious gangster in The Whole Town’s Talking, or later takes on good twin/evil twin by Olivia de Havilland in The Dark Mirror or the schizoid mind by Joanne Woodward in The Three Faces of Eve.  Sadly the Lugosi role as a gangster is rather muted and abbreviated, plus he doesn’t share any scenes with regular co-star Karloff.

  • Stranger on the Third Floor (1940 – Boris Ingster) pro (DVD-R)
  • Cronos (1993 – Guillermo del Toro) pro(-) (DVD)
  • Three Ages (1923 – Buster Keaton, Edward F. Cline) pro (Blu-Ray)
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010 – Edgar Wright) pro (Blu-Ray)
  • Head Against the Wall (1959 – Georges Franju) pro (on-line)
  • House (1977 – Nobuhiko Obayashi) mixed(+) (DVD)
  • Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988 – Terence Davies) pro(+) (on-line) 
  • Kick-Ass (2010 – Matthew Vaughn) mixed(+) (cable)
  • Young Man with a Horn (1950 – Michael Curtiz) pro(-) (cable)
  • Louie Bluie (1985 – Terry Zwigoff) pro(+) (DVD)
  • A Single Man (2009 – Tom Ford) mixed(-) (cable)
  • Black Swan (2010 – Darren Aronofsky) pro (Theater)
  • Sometimes a Great Notion (1971 – Paul Newman) pro(-) (on-line)
  • A Christmas Carol (2009 – Robert Zemeckis) mixed (DVD)
  • The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972 – John Huston) mixed (cable)

In 1972 those Hollywood heartthrobs Butch and Sundance each ended up in a John Milius scripted Western; Robert Redford got the moodier more conventionally measured piece Jeremiah Johnson and Paul Newman the sprawling ensemble picaresque The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean.  In the year of one of John Huston’s best and most low key works Fat City he also gave audiences perhaps his most raggedy and off beat film since Beat the Devil.  In marketplace terms The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean comes from the period following the box office success of the Western spoof Cat Ballou, a time where the release of comic Westerns continued unabated, notwithstanding the status of The Wild Bunch as a genre game changer. Life and Times is a film that is often a broad farce strenuously mismatched with elegiac elements.  Is it a revisionist or deconstructionist Western? A parody or sentimental vaudevillian hogwash? It plays like a Burt Kennedy comic Western with the irreverent, subversive and artful shades of Jodorowsky’s El Topo; though ultimately it’s a film a lot closer in spirit to awkward Old Hollywood /New Hollywood stylistic blends like There Was a Crooked Man… and The Ballad of Cable Hogue than to, say, Little Big Man.  Parts are kooky and inspired such as Stacy Keach (no stranger to grotesque cameos in heavy make-up – see also Brewster McLeod) as an albino gunslinger named Bad Bob that gets a watermelon sized hole in his torso courtesy of a shotgun blast (anticipating a similarly cartoonish moment decades later in Sam Raimi’s The Quick and the Dead).  Other parts are harder to take, like Newman and Victoria Principal with a beer drinking bear seemingly anticipating Clint Eastwood’s pairing with Clyde the orangutan or the head scratching Andy Williams sung anachronistic musical interlude (the Oscar nominated (!) “Marmalade, Molasses & Honey”) that actually makes one yearn for the “Old West” musical stylings of B.J. Thomas and “Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head”.  Overall Newman’s fine as the titular hanging judge with the Lily Langtry (here Ava Gardner in a cameo) fixation; but given the choice I’ll stick with Walter Brennan’s take on Roy Bean in The Westerner. A few years later Newman would revisit this type of hodgepodge film with Robert Altman’s equally imperfect, but generally more interesting, Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull’s History Lesson.







 Last Updated: December 1, 2010






  • Kiss the Blood off My Hands (1948 – Norman Foster) mixed (on-line)
  • A New Leaf (1971 – Elaine May) pro (on-line)
  • The Killer Inside Me (2010 – Michael Winterbottom) mixed (Blu-Ray)
  • Artists and Models (1955 – Frank Tashlin) pro(+) (on-line)
  • Mother (2009 – Joon-Ho Bong) mixed(+) (DVD)
  • Mädchen in Uniform (1958 – Géza von Radványi) mixed (DVD)
  • The Runaways (2010 – Floria Sigismondi) mixed(-) (cable)
  • The Savage Innocents (1960 – Nicholas Ray) pro (on-line)
  • A Kind of Loving (1962 – John Schlesinger) pro (on-line)
  • There’s Always Tomorrow (1934 – Edward Sloman) pro(-) (on-line)

During the fifties, for Ross Hunter and Universal Studios, Douglas Sirk directed 4 remakes of Universal produced and distributed melodramas from the 1930s.  Three of the originals (Magnificent Obsession, Imitation of Life and When Tomorrow Comes (which would be titled Interlude for Sirk)) were directed by admired melodrama stalwart John M. Stahl, the fourth, There’s Always Tomorrow (sometimes known as Too Late for Love), the most obscure and perhaps weak sister reputation wise, was directed by Edward Sloman then a Hollywood veteran at the tail end of a rather prolific career.  This original version of There’s Always Tomorrow, adapted from an Ursula Parrott novel, shares, if not every specific plot point, a similarity in theme and spirit with the exceptional Sirk version of the story.  It’s a man’s women’s picture, a story of an unappreciated model citizen, husband and father named Joseph White who upon being relegated to the sole role of family breadwinner drifts into the temptation of an affair with a never married old love/business colleague.  Here the selfless forgotten man is expertly and gently played by Frank Morgan who nearly matches Fred MacMurray’s equally sensitive and nuanced portrayal of the character in the 1956 version.  It’s Morgan’s picture all the way to the point that his absence from a scene feels like a drag on the narrative.  The story almost derails in the Morgan free mid-portion focus on the indignant children (who include Robert Taylor in an early rather stiff performance) and their investigation of what they believe to be an illicit affair conducted weekly during their Dad’s lodge night.  In fact the affair is little more than a series of chaste brief encounters, though hardly truly innocent, while the affair is unconsummated physically there is clearly emotional infidelity in the works.  Yet, what makes the platonic affair poignant is that Joseph White ultimately deserves the happiness it brings.  The object of Joseph White’s yearning is Alice Vail played by Binnie Barnes a British actress then making the transition from Alexander Korda productions and the like to Hollywood.  While Barnes plays Alice Vail with sophistication and dignity she’s no match for Morgan, her performance, while passable, is leaden down with a theatrical formality that’s almost oppressive in its lack of everyday humanity and warmness, qualities which are key to such a plebian bittersweet romance.  As with the 1956 version the wife figure is never truly vilified though the character (her played by Lois Wilson) is given rather short shrift. Not a great film but of interest – see it for the ever amiable Frank Morgan.  Point of trivia Margaret Hamilton (the Wicked Witch of the West) has a small part as Morgan’s (Oz’s Wizard) maid.

  • It (1927 – Clarence G. Badger) pro (cable)
  • Fat Girl (2001 – Catherine Breillat) con (DVD)
  • John and Mary (1969 – Peter Yates) pro (DVD)
  • Carson City (1952 – Andre De Toth) pro (cable)
  • Limbo (1999 – John Sayles) pro(+) (DVD)
  • Safety Last! (1923 – Fred C. Newmeyer & Sam Taylor) pro(+) (cable)
  • Arise, My Love (1940 – Mitchell Leisen) pro (on-line)
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009 – Niels Arden Oplev) mixed(+) (DVD)
  • Alias Nick Beal (1949 – John Farrow) pro (on-line)
  • Lessons of Darkness (Werner Herzog) pro (DVD)
  • Show People (1928 – King Vidor) pro (cable)

An exceedingly likeable film business satiric comedy stuffed with high profile cameos (Chaplin, Fairbanks, Talmadge, John Gilbert etc.) and plenty of insider elements (The Player of the Jazz Age?).  Though the story about the transformation of a low brow comedic actress named Peggy Pepper into a prestige project capital D dramatic actress amusingly renamed Patricia Peppoire by High Art Studios is meant to mirror / comment on / lampoon the career trajectory of silent screen siren Gloria Swanson (with more than just a dash of comment on the career of the film’s star Marion Davies as well); I couldn’t help but note a thematic kinship with Preston SturgesSullivan’s Travels.  In Sturges’ beloved film the director John Sullivan learns that his aspirations to move from pie in the face escapist comedy (“Ants in Your Pants of 1939”) to dramatic social problem films (“O Brother, Where Art Thou?”) are misguided, a failure to recognize his true strengths and the broader cultural value his “lighter” films bring.  Show People is more spoof like, lacking the more self-reflexive and complex narrative tension of Sullivan’s Travels but the end game message (or anti-message) is the same – laughter is the best medicine, be who you are. Despite the best of intentions an actress cannot merely will prestigious diva-dom upon herself – someone has to work for Mack Sennett, they all can’t work for Cecil B. Demille.  An overarching theme that suggested shades of Clara Manni as played by Lucia Bosè in Antonioni’s The Lady Without Camelias or Jean Hagen as Lina Lamont in Singin’ in the Rain.  Marion Davies is as winning in her facial contorting mugging in Show People (one minute she suggests Theda Bara the next Lillian Gish) as she was in that other great 1928 King Vidor comedy romp – The Patsy.  Vidor even appears as himself toward the end directing a WW1 film with Davies’ Patricia Peppoire wearing an outfit more than just a little suggestive of Renée Adorée in the earlier Vidor dramatic blockbuster The Big Parade.  Comedy still doesn’t get much respect though, and I’m just as guilty of the next guy; despite the greatness of The Patsy and Show People when prompted to name the best King Vidor movie from 1928, I’d still go with the “serious drama” The Crowd.

  • The Blob (1958 – Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr.) mixed(+) (cable)
  • Something to Live For (1952 – George Stevens) pro (on-line)
  • Hearts and Minds (1974 – Peter Davis) PRO (cable)
  • Hold Back the Dawn (1941 – Mitchell Leisen) pro (on-line)
  • Wild Grass (2009 – Alain Resnais) pro (DVD)
  • Hitler’s Madman (1943 – Douglas Sirk) pro (cable)

A B minus film produced by poverty row’s PRC that MGM had the good sense to commandeer, distribute and, in effect, elevate to B+ release territory.  As with Fritz Lang’s Hangmen Also Die released the same year, the story in this resistance focused WW2 film centers on the planned assassination of diabolical Nazi big wig Reinhardt “Hangman” Heydrich (here played by John Carradine with his usual scenery chewing gusto).  An assassination that would trigger the Gestapo’s infamous massacre of the male townspeople of Lidice, Czechoslovakia.  As a recent German émigré to America (along with his Jewish wife) director Douglas Sirk certainly had some skin in the propaganda game and it shows in this robust effort (as did fellow European (uncredited) contributors Edgar Ulmer and Eugene Schufftan).  Not quite at the quality of the great and like spirited None Shall Escape, the modestly budgeted Nazi atrocities propaganda film from Columbia released the following year; but certainly amongst the best of the notable 1943 non-combat Nazi resistance themed films which in addition to Lang’s Hangmen Also Die include the Canadian set Northern Pursuit, the stagy Watch on the Rhine, the lyrical Renoir helmed This Land is Mine, the slick and dynamic Edge of Darkness and the minor Hitler’s Children. The acting doesn’t always come through, but the films grit, vigor and inspirational earnestness are undeniable all delivered with a narrative urgency absent from the significantly longer and more deliberately paced Hangmen Also Die. The first film in Sirk’s memorable Hollywood career – though the merits of his later most admired films would be quite different than those of this film.

  • An Unmarried Woman (1978 – Paul Mazursky) pro(-) (DVD)
  • Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010 – Apichatpong Weerasethakul) pro(+) (Theater)
  • California (1947 – John Farrow) pro (DVD)

Enjoyed this beautiful looking Technicolor Western a great deal, probably more than it deserves because with closer scrutiny it’s little more than formula stuff, a routine (though big budgeted) genre effort without a single original narrative idea.  But Farrow’s navigation of the camera (he’s a true master of the mobile long take) and the performances from the more than able actors (Barbara Stanwyck, Ray Milland & George Coulouris) give the familiar an air of freshness. Ostensibly a story about the settling and statehood of California, the sprawling backdrop with location shot scenes suggests epic, but it’s the set bound smaller character moments that ultimately work best.   I was skeptical of Milland’s ability to pull off a gruff war deserter wagon master type, with his icy urbane vibe Milland always seemed more comfortable in pinstripes than spurs (felt similarly about Robert Taylor in Westerns; but was won over by The Devil’s Doorway and Westward the Women), but he acquits himself well enough (some of his best work was for John Farrow including solid noirs The Big Clock and Alias Nick Beal).  Coulouris brings some interesting psychological shading to his villain character, a former ship’s Captain and slave trader turned corrupt town boss (with the name Pharaoh Coffin no less); there are moments when he actually borders on sympathetic. Talented character actor Barry Fitzgerald supports as a noble sod busting wanna be vintner cum grass roots politician, but anytime he’s not playing a priest, an Irish matchmaker or the like he seems miscast (The Naked City comes to mind).  Stanwyck, naturally, is the Machiavellian saloon girl with a heart of gold – aligned with Coulouris but, begrudgingly, with eyes for Milland.  She can do no wrong from where I sit; even when lip synching a couple of de rigueur musical numbers.

  • Laugh and Get Rich (1931 – Gregory La Cava) mixed (cable)
  • Mystery Train (1989 – Jim Jarmusch) pro (Blu-Ray)
  • Ivy (1947 – Sam Wood) pro(-) (on-line)
  • Micmacs (2009 – Jean-Pierre Jeunet) mixed (Blu-Ray)
  • Hearts of the West (1975 – Howard Zieff) pro(-) (cable)
  •  The Pearls of the Crown (1937 – Sacha Guitry) pro(-) (DVD)
  • Secret Ceremony (1968 – Joseph Losey) mixed (cable)
  • Please Give (2010 – Nicole Holofcener) pro (DVD)
  • Japanese Summer: Double Suicide (1967 – Nagisa Oshima) mixed(+) (DVD)
  • Dial 1119 (1950 – Gerald Meyer) pro(-) (DVD)
  • Jeopardy (1953 – John Sturges) pro (cable)

A tight little thriller that might have worked just as well with an hour long television format.  A family vacation from hell story, that unfortunately reads a bit like a xenophobic cautionary tale (better stay at home because Mexico is dangerous).  In this case a family of three (Barbara Stanwyck, Barry Sullivan and Lee Aaker as the very young son) takes a road trip to the remote Baja Peninsula to set up at a deserted fishing camp. You know things are more than just a little off with Dad’s rustic R&R plan the minute you see the ominous dilapidated jetty on the verge of collapsing into the pitiless Pacific Ocean.  A piece of timber soon traps the Dad in the water and the tide begins to roll in (prefiguring the unforgettable Richard Jaeckel set piece in the 70s logging family melodrama Sometimes a Great Notion).  The race against the clock is on and Stanwyck, in the height of forgivable implausibility, is soon taken hostage by a desperate escaped con played by Ralph Meeker with his usual smirking sadistic gusto.  The film has the usual elements of a woman in distress noir / hostage drama but the Stanwyck / Meeker dynamic (sexual tension and all) elevates the material.  Stanwyck’s character is pure no-nonsense, sacrificial but decisive; just as comfortable improvising with a car jack in an attempt to save her hubby as she is in trying to either bludgeon her assailant or make sexual concessions – whatever it takes.  Great fun from the period where MGM diversified into the cheap and quick B movie space.

  • Desperate Journey (1942 – Raoul Walsh) pro(-) (DVD)










 Last Updated: October 31, 2010






  • Come on Children (1973 – Allan King) pro(-) (DVD)
  • Thirst (2009 – Chan-Wook Park) pro (cable)
  • Gentleman’s Fate (1931 – Mervyn Leroy) mixed (cable)
  • The Last Sunset (1961 – Robert Aldrich) pro(-) (DVD)
  • Night Tide (1961 – Curtis Harrington) mixed (cable)
  • These Are the Damned (1963 – Joseph Losey) pro (cable)
  • The Last Flight (1931 – William Dieterle) pro(+) (cable)
  • The Town (2010 – Ben Affleck) pro (Theater)
  • Pirate Radio (2009 – Richard Curtis) mixed(+) (cable)
  • All Through the Night (1941 – Vincent Sherman) pro(-) (cable)
  • Grown Ups (2010 – Denis Dugan) con(-) (DVD)
  • Flight Command (1940 – Frank Borzage) mixed (cable)
  • Has Anybody Seen My Gal (1952 – Douglas Sirk) pro(-) (DVD)
  • Lightning (1952 – Mikio Naruse) PRO (DVD-R)
  • Desperate Search (1952 – Joseph H. Lewis) mixed (DVD)
  • Murder, He Says (1945 – George Marshall) pro (cable)
  • Hideko, The Bus Conductress (1941 – Mikio Naruse) pro(-) (DVD-R)
  • He Ran All the Way(1951 – John Berry) pro(+) (cable)

In some ways it’s kind of sad that the great John Garfield’s swan song was merely a 77 minute genre film with a small budget; but looking on the bright side it’s a very fine little film.  An economical noir that has a story that moves from a botched heist to a domestic hostage thriller.  Garfield plays a frantic and desperate cop killer on the run after an inept payroll robbery who worms his way into the dingy city apartment of a family of four by wooing the daughter at the local public pool.  Only the brooding but sensitive Garfield could turn such a terminal loser character into some sort of sympathetic rebellious anti-hero – even though his character’s fate, thanks to the Production Code, was sealed the moment that cop was shot.  Shelly Winters plays the vulnerable innocent daughter, nicely applying her ever effective trademark lovesick victim treatment.  As a hostage drama, He Ran All the Way anticipates later 50s films like Suddenly and The Desperate Hours where the captors seem to simultaneously yearn for, and resent, the captive family’s domestic tranquility, but in this case the family is less suburban and less than middle class giving the proceedings a little extra urban grit. The film’s climax is shot and edited with great aplomb (Berry and always aces DP James Wong Howe have a great eye for close-ups, extreme angles and depth of field), giving Garfield’s desperation and Winters’ decision between loyalty to family and the thrill of her bad boy crush incredible urgency.  While his character lay in the celluloid gutter, so did Garfield’s actual career thanks to HUAC.  Perhaps even if Garfield had survived his 1952 heart attack the blacklist had already ended his Hollywood career more or less (Clifford Odets attempt at a save notwithstanding); the HUAC witch-hunt certainly significantly derailed the careers of director Berry and the film’s screen writers Dalton Trumbo & Hugo Butler.  Overall I found this film to be a significant step up from Berry’s prior minor but entertaining noir Tension.

  • Three Resurrected Drunkards (1968 – Nagisa Oshima) pro (DVD)
  • A Married Couple (1969 – Allan King) pro(+) (DVD)
  • The Lawless Breed (1953 – Raoul Walsh) mixed (DVD)
  • Espion(s) (2009 – Nicolas Saada) mixed (DVD)
  • Countdown (1968 – Robert Altman) pro(-) (cable)
  • Deadline at Dawn (1946 – Harold Clurman) pro(-) (DVD)

In the early going while watching this highly entertaining RKO film noir scripted by Clifford Odets from a William Irish (Cornell Woolrich) story, I was ready to declare director Harold Clurman (a key Group Theater figure) the Charles Laughton of the 40s, that is, one directorial credit = one great film.  But, sadly, the film after a delightfully seedy and compelling start sort of loses its way, bogged down by the various pseudo poetic/philosophical musings of the rag tag night owls that populate a grimy back lot NYC.  As noir expert Eddie Muller noted in his excellent noir overview book “Dark City”: “the splintered frenzy of Woolrich’s novel was a poor match for artists as mannered as Odets and Clurman; they seemed to lose interest somewhere around 3 a.m.”.  Deadline at Dawn is in the mold of those episodic eccentric films that take place on the mean streets in the middle of the night (like Fox’s Somewhere in the Night from the same year or another Woolrich adaptation Phantom Lady) where red herrings and weird digressions abound against a backdrop of colorful supporting characters (included here is a blind love sick pianist, cat obsessed janitor, an urbane but creepy white gloved stalker and a gimpy blonde blackmail victim).  I’m generally not at all a fan of Susan Hayward once she became all actorly like – but she’s effective and lovely in this one as a world weary dance hall girl won over by the dire predicament (framed for murder!) of an earnest and naïve sailor on shore leave (Bill Williams).  The movie takes a while to justify the inclusion of a cab driver played by Paul Lukas who aids the Hayward and Williams characters in their amateur sleuthing; but it’s all tied to fairly surprising ending which requires more than a slight suspension of one’s disbelief.  For 83 minutes – this one is jammed packed; and thanks to DP Nick Musuraca looks pretty great.

  • The Social Network (2010 – David Fincher) PRO(-) (Theater)
  • Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (1983 – Naigsa Oshima) pro(-) (Blu-Ray)
  • Boxcar Bertha (1972 – Martin Scorsese) con(+) (cable)
  • Au bonheur des dames (1930 – Julien Duvivier) PRO(-) (DVD)

As others have noted the ending of this late silent film is some sort of bizarre narrative reversal, a kind of ideological 180 degree flip.  In King Vidor terms it’s like Duvivier, in filming Noel Renard’s adaptation of an Emile Zola novel about a mega department store (the titular Au bonheur des dames or Ladies’ Paradise), starting filming in the we the people populist spirit of Our Daily Bread but then finished up with The Fountainhead’s ode to the abmitious individual and progress . While the plot is rather slight for the operatic approach it’s an incredibly ambitious film visually – full of fluid, highly kinetic and often stunning sequences with one expressionistic montage after another. A real tour de-force that gave this movie buff a real rush despite its occasional failings as narrative.  The film stars the ever photogenic German born Dita Parlo who, while not prolific, is an icon of French Cinema based on her starring turn in L’Atalante and memorable support at the end of Grand Illusion.  Parlo plays an orphan new to the big city (Paris) where she is simultaneously seduced and oppressed by a hectic consumer culture wrapped in an art deco bow.  If Duvivier represents “Le Cinema de Papa” (as the new wavers to come would condescend), then Happy Father’s Day to us.

  • Untamed Woman (1957 – Mikio Naruse) pro(+) (DVD-R)
  • The Ghost Writer (2010 – Roman Polanski) pro(-) (DVD)
  • Cornered (1945 – Edward Dmytryk) pro (DVD
  • The Missouri Breaks (1976 – Arthur Penn) mixed (DVD)







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